Panic and fear gripped Tabitha. They were going to make her go back. Plans raced through her mind; pleas, reasons she had to stay away. The sun peeked through the cloudy sky, casting a light on the glistening sweat now covering Tabitha’s hands and forehead. Almost above her, the broomstick rider started their descent. Seeing the figure closer, Tabitha noticed they were wearing yellow lined robes. She could also see their curly mess of hair waving in the breeze. As their feet hit the ground, Tabitha met the gaze of Theophilus Ainsley.
His face was contorted with worry.
“Tabitha!” He yelled angrily, casting his broom to the side before enveloping Tabitha in a suffocating hug. “What in the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?”
He pushed Tabitha off him, only to shake her aggressively by the shoulders. Before she could reply, he continued with his indignant rant.
“I thought you were just going to your dormitory for a breather! If I hadn’t run into Sophie!” He let out an exasperated huff, as if to only think of what might have happened.
“Well, come on.” He grabbed Tabitha’s hand to lead her towards his broom.
“No.” Tabitha said softly, pulling her hand away.
“What? Why? Tabitha, we have to go.”
“I’m not going back.”
“Tabs...” He managed to mutter.
“Theo, please don’t make me.”
He wanted to protest, but her sad eyes melted his anger.
“You can’t stay here.” He sighed, gesturing at the field.
“I have a plan.”
His eyebrow twitched upward. “Let’s hear it.”
“I’m going to Transylvania.”
“Transylv...?” He trailed off.
“I want to meet a vampire.” She nodded, determinedly.
Theo’s eyes were wide. He seemed to be having trouble wrapping his head around it.
“Look, you don’t have to understand.” She returned to the Thestral, turning her back to Theo. He followed her, narrowly avoiding the, to him, invisible steed.
“Well hang on. I might not understand but that doesn’t mean I’m letting you go all the way to Romania by yourself.”
“You don’t have to...”
He interrupted with a wave of his hand, “Don’t bother. I’m coming.”
Turning sharply towards her, he threw her a harsh glare. A smile spread across Tabitha’s face, fighting him was useless.
“The broom will take too long. You can ride the Thestral with me.”
“You rode a Thestral?” He asked in disbelief. “Where is it?” He started walking in circles, waving his arms madly. Tabitha thought he looked quite absurd as she let out a laugh.
“Here.” Through her giggles, she guided him towards the creature, placing his hand gently on the middle of its back.
He recoiled slightly, jerking at the sudden leathery, cold skin beneath his hand.
“It’s okay.” Tabitha reassured him. She guided his hand along the Thestral’s spine, giving him a sense of the creature’s size. Even as she moved her hand away, Theo continued the petting motion.
“So weird.” He breathed.
In response, the creature loudly expelled a puff of air. Not being able to see the Thestral’s face, this took Theo by surprise.
“Sorry.” He called into the air.
“Okay, time to go.” Tabitha walked towards Theo and grabbed one of his legs.
She hoisted him up onto its back. Theo flopped across it, his arms and legs flailing wildly.
“Tabs! Help me!” Trying to balance on something he couldn’t see was proving very difficult.
Using Theo’s legs as anchors, Tabitha pulled herself onto the Thestral, before spinning the awkwardly positioned Theo to a place where he could sit up.
“Hold on.” She instructed him.
Before he could get an answer, Tabitha called, “Let’s go!” to the Thestral, and they were rocketing into the sky. Theo quickly clutched his arms around Tabitha. She could feel him wobbling, trying to keep balanced.
“I hate this!” He yelled over the roaring wind.
“Sorry, I can’t hear you.” Tabitha pretended. “The wind is just too loud!”
Theo scowled as they settled in for the long flight ahead.
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