“What are you working on?”
“It’s a new potion idea I’ve come up with,” Janra said resting her hands on her hips as she frowned. She stared down at the cauldron, her nose wiggling a bit from the smoke rising up from the black pot. Did she miscalculate the ingredients? She was certain she’d checked beforehand to make sure she had everything. But it looked like she’d shorted herself as she glanced at the list.
“Let’s see…a toad’s tongue, a crow’s brain, two lizard’s eye, three bioluminescent mushrooms, and a pinch of salt.” The frown deepened on her face as she looked over to Manta who had spoken to her a moment ago. “I only have two bioluminescent mushrooms. I could have sworn there were three of them.”
“Mayhaps you used it in another potion?” Manta reached under her pointy hat scratching at her head as if lost in thought. The slight tint of red to her cheeks wasn’t lost on Janra though as she stared at the girl folding an arm across her chest. Why would she be blushing? Was it guilt? After all, Manta only turned red like that when she’d done something she shouldn’t have. It was a dead giveaway that something was awry.
“I suppose that would be the case…after all, I can’t for the life of me imagine anyone taking my precious ingredients or even entering my room without permission.” Manta’s cheeks reddened more as she tensed up. “You…wouldn’t happen to know anything about this, would you Manta?”
“H-Huh?” With her eyes wide like a troll caught dancing in the forest, Manta’s pupils shrank a bit before she rubbed her hands against her legs anxiously. “W-W-What would make you think I-I-I-I would do something so…s-s-so-”
“You’re not making yourself look any more innocent,” Janra said folding her arms over her chest as her brows lowered in a glare at the slightly younger girl. “Now spill it. What did you do with it?”
“I-I gave it to Donahue!”
“HUH! Why would you do such a thing!” The younger girl trembled at the outburst looking ready to flee the way her eyes darted towards the door. Janra moved quick to block the door, still glaring at her. “You know I can’t stand that guy. Why would you give it to him of all people?”
“I-I-I can’t tell you that. P-Please don’t be mad at me.” The tearful expression on Manta’s face softened the glare as Janra sighed and shook her head slowly closing her eyes for a moment. The three of them were around the same age being in their late teens. She herself would turn twenty next year. They’d known each other since they joined the Magic Academy four years ago and had grown close to each other thanks to their similar ages.
Though sometimes she and Donahue had their differences, they never really had a strong hate for each other. Or at least that was the case until last week Janra found out by accident that Donahue was trying to create the same potion she was making right now.
Was it a coincidence? Probably. But it didn’t stop Janra from accusing the other party of stealing and cheating. While she had been feeling bad about her actions recently, this new information of him using the same ingredients as her rubbed her the wrong way.
It didn’t make any sense! Why couldn’t he obtain his own ingredients? Sure, the bioluminescent mushroom was rare to find and required it to be a certain time of the day at a certain time of the month, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t have done the same thing she did. It was things like this that cause the reputation of witches and wizards not getting along to be so prominent.
Janra gave another sigh pulling her witch hat down on her head more biting at her lips before coming to a decision. “I’m going to go see him and get my mushroom back.”
Manta stared as if not catching the words before her eyes slowly widened. “Y-You are?”
“Yeah I am. And while I’m at it I’m going to give him a piece of my mind.” Janra turned to head to the door but paused and looked back over her shoulder at Manta. “Stay here and keep an eye on my ingredients. Don’t give any more of them out, you got it?”
“Ah y-yes! I won’t!” Janra wasn’t fully confident with her decision. The best option right now was to get to Donahue, snatch her ingredient, then rush back quickly. Still, it bothered her as she walked out the door thinking back to the girl. Manta, while the most timid witch she’d ever seen, wouldn’t just give her stuff away without a reason.
Though she was quiet, she was rather loyal to Janra much like she’d imagine a true friend to be. But because of their close ties to Donahue, perhaps she felt trapped before finally being tricked into giving in to the wizard in training. Perhaps she’d get her answers once she saw him.
It didn’t take long to skirt across the courtyard to the wizard side. Thankfully it was still early enough in the day that the curfew for witches being allowed on the wizards’ side and vice versa hadn’t yet been enacted. After all, they were still young students that their professors didn’t want interacting too privately.
She stopped in front of his door, hesitating only for a moment before she grabbed the handle and slung the door open hard enough to slam into the wall behind it. “DONAHUE!”
The two wizards in the room looked up at her abrupt entry with varying expressions. While Donahue didn’t look impressed, almost looking as if he’d expected her sudden entry, his close friend Tohme jumped in surprise knocking his glasses off his face before catching them midair.
“Ah…” Tohme stared up at Janra with shock then cleared his throat and carefully slipped his glasses back on his face before he glanced over at Donahue. “I’ll…come back later.”
“Alright,” Donahue said giving the briefest of nods before leaning back in his chair. Tohme eased off Donahue’s bed heading for the door avoiding Janra’s eyes as he looked away. He slid past her with a brief apology before he was gone leaving the two of them alone.
Donahue let out a breath he’d been holding before he looked up at Janra not showing a care to her being there. “Is there a reason you came barging in like that?”
“Don’t try to play dumb with me!” Janra stormed in slamming the door behind her as she marched her way over to stand in front of his uninterested eyes. “Manta told me you have my mushroom. I want it back. NOW.”
“…Do you even have any proof that I have it?” His eyes that had been wandering away during her rant flickered to her so sudden she found herself taking a step back.
“I…” Janra snapped her mouth shut frowning. “…Not…not really.”
“Then…is it right for you to come barging into my room and accuse me of stealing from you?”
“Then is there a problem?”
“….” She was silent, her eyes staring back at him seeing his irises soften before she looked down quickly using her hat to hide her face, her hands clenched up at her sides. “Why would Manta lie to me though? She’d never…”
“Why are you so hard bent on being angry with me?” He reached up grabbing the rim of her hat and pushed it up to get a look at her face. “The last thing I want is for us to be enemies.”
“I…I saw your papers. I saw your ingredients and that you were trying to make the same potion that I-”
“I have no desires to steal from you,” Donahue said showing a hint of an amused smile to his lips. “I can easily create my own potions and ideas.”
“Still…you know Manta’s bad at lying. It’s practically written on her face.” She steeled herself pushing back the throbbing in her chest that the small smile he delivered to her created. “So why do you need the bioluminescent mushroom if you’re not making that potion?”
“Why?” He leaned back rubbing at his chin as he looked up at the sky in thought. “That is a good question.” He pushed himself to his feet, Janra scuttling back from him startled as she watched him like a deer to a lion. “Don’t give me that look,” he said chuckling low in his throat.
She relaxed when she saw him turning to walk to his special room before she felt curiosity grow inside her. While beginner witches and wizards shared a room, an older and more advanced one would be given their own room with a space they could use as a creation room. Though they were not big like that of a professor, it still served the purpose of creating magic and potions without interruptions as the rooms could be locked by the room’s occupant at will.
The knowledge of that itself would stop a normal person, but if the room’s occupant tried to lock it for nefarious reasons, the door would refuse to obey and would alert the professors in the academy. After all, there was a fine line between good and evil when it came to magic.
Janra, however, trusted Donahue enough to follow without trepidation. She was curious about his creations as she’d only ever been in the room one other time when they were younger.
“You are right that I did tell Manta to give me one of your mushrooms,” he said looking back at her, his next words cutting her off as soon as her mouth opened to respond. “But it was not for the purpose of stealing it.” He ducked into the room before she had the chance to retort, her mouth hanging open before she snapped it shut and followed after him.
Her feet stopped at the door frame as she looked inside, her eyes growing with a sparkle as she stared. The amount of glowing bioluminescent mushrooms surrounding the room would be unheard of in a normal situation aside from the top professors. And yet Donahue had enough to supply several hundreds of potions. The cast off of green glowing light coming from the mushrooms gave the room a surreal otherworldly feel like she wasn’t even in the academy any more.
With her eyes focused on the hundreds of mushrooms, she didn’t noticed Donahue’s eyes staring at her or his actions as he walked over to one of his dressers pulling something out. Instead, she walked around slowly observing the sights seeing even more rare items like the eight toed frogs or the whiskers of the famed split tongued leopard.
“Why…why would you take my mushroom if you had all of this?” Janra asked staring into a glass case containing a snake that wiggled its tongue at her.
“I told you before that it was not for the purpose of stealing.” Donahue walked over to join her standing close to her side making her a feel a touch of warmth she didn’t dare admit to. “I needed to get you here to talk. This…was probably the easiest way to do it.”
“…So you knew that Manta would tell me that you had it,” Janra stated looking up at him.
Donahue gave a hint of a smirk as he looked down at her in turn. He was rather tall for his age standing out as one of the most handsome guys in the academy. No wonder the witches were always talking about him. “Manta’s bad at lying. You said so yourself.”
“Then…what did you need to talk to me about?”
There was pause as Donahue showed for the first time a bit of apprehension before the look was pushed back by his nonchalant expression. “More than talking, I wanted to give you something.”
“What did you-” Her words froze in her throat as something was thrust down into her hands. As his hand withdrew she stared down at the dazzling necklace that gave off a glow the similar to the bioluminescent mushrooms around the room. It was an absolutely gorgeous stone etched into the shape of a flower. It must have been constructed using one of the mushrooms, giving off a feeling as if she could become stronger with this one item alone.
This couldn’t have been easy to make requiring someone of high skills and levels in magic. But Donahue had made it and instead of keeping it, gifted it to her. He could have given it to anyone, to one of the many witches that followed him around, or even to Manta who was one of their close friends. But he gave it to Janra. Why? Why would he…?
“When worn, it can enhance the mana flow inside you and give you more control. I figured it’d be useful to you, especially with all the potions you’re making.” Donahue wasn’t looking at her. Instead his eyes were focused on the glowing necklace in her hands, the illuminate glow casting a sparkle of green in his glassy eyes.
“…Do you like it?” He dodged the question, instead smiling at her as he reached up patting the top of her head, something he hadn’t done since they were younger.
“I…” Janra couldn’t hide the blush that appeared on her cheeks and instead looked down at the necklace again. “O-Of course I like it. But why did you-”
“Let me help you put it on.” He moved behind her before she could finish her words, pinching the necklace from her hands as he carefully put it on her. Maybe if he used the magic to see through things, he’d see how fast her heart was beating as the necklace was clasped around her neck, the flower resting heavy against her chest.
When she felt his fingers brush past the back of her neck, she held her breath in shock before turning quickly, refusing to look up at him as her cheeks grew redder.
“I-I-I should return to my room. I’m sure it’s closer to curfew time.”
“Ah, that’s right. I forgot about the curfew.” He turned away fumbling with something giving Janra time to peek up at him staring at his tall handsome figure while trying to figure out why he gave her such a magnificent gift. Maybe she stared a little too hard because in the next instance, her eyes met with Donahue’s as he turned to look at her, his expression seeming surprised before he cleared his throat looking away.
“Here,” he said handing her a pot of the bioluminescent mushrooms. “To replace the one I used to make the necklace.”
“Ah…t-thanks.” She took it trying not to flush from his words. There was something meaningful about the fact that this necklace was used with her mushroom, as if they held a special type of connection with each other.
“Feel free to come borrow more any time if you want.” He smiled at her causing her to smile back at him in response before nodding her head.
“I will. Thanks.” Hugging the pot to her, she gave another quick bow of her head before rushing out the door, missing the look of longing that followed her as she made a beeline out the door. She felt like it was only a matter of seconds before she was back in her room, not even noticing people that greeted her as she jetted past them.
Only when she was back in the safety of her room did she finally breathe putting the pot down on her dresser. Only after she noticed that Manta had left the room, did she allow herself to fall onto the bed and scream into her pillow. She didn’t know if it was from frustration, annoyance, or excitement but her body just couldn’t relax as a tingle ran down her spine from remembering his touch on her neck, her ears turning red. Why would he do that? Why did he have to make it so awkward?
But why didn’t she find herself hating it at all? She rolled onto her back and reached down grabbing the necklace by the chain and lifting it up staring at the glowing green that seemed to stare back at her. Her fingers gently brushed over the artificial petals that seemed to glow brighter from her touch. It truly was a beautiful item, definitely one she’d cherish for the rest of her life. It made her think back to Donahue, of his charming, smiling face that she’d been lucky enough to see.
She found herself bringing the necklace down gently kissing the flower before she froze realizing what she’d done. Her face turned red again before she turned over screaming into her pillow once more, her legs kicking up and down against the bed.
Sleep. Yeah, maybe she should just go to sleep and stop thinking about this. Tomorrow was another day. Maybe this weird feeling inside her chest would go away by then. At least, she hoped so as she held on to the flower tightly pressing it against her chest. The warmth the flower almost felt like it gave off helping to push her to sleep. She’d rest for now…and then tomorrow she’d go back to do some shopping in Donahue’s little room.
The thought put a smile on her face as she closed her eyes slowly dozing off into an interesting dream filled world surrounding by a dazzling smile.