With a wave of his wand, and a simple incantation, Theo procured a moderately sized bowl from a nearby stone. He placed his new creation on a small pile of sticks that they had collected.
“Not exactly a copper cauldron, but it’ll do,” Looking down at his transfiguration.
Tabitha’s backpack sat on the forest floor, propped open between the pair. Reaching into it, Tabitha removed the garlic, before passing the handful of Dittany to Theo.
“No garlic for you.” She added.
“Always looking out for me.” He winked.
Tabitha smiled weakly back at him. She placed the head of garlic into the bowl, using another rock to pummel it into a fine powder. At the same time, Theo pointed his wand to the Dittany, muttering “Diffindo” to slice it neatly. Adding it to the bowl, Theo looked up to Tabitha, his eyes full of worry. Tabitha however, kept her eyes down. She was determined to do what needed to be done. As she pointed her wand towards her arm, Theo quickly slapped his hand down on top of hers.
Looking up, Tabitha could see the panic spreading across Theo’s face.
His eyes were glassy as he said, “I don’t want you to do this.”
Tabitha’s heart panged, but she breathed deeply, swallowing her feelings. “I have to, Theo.”
“But...” He stammered, floundering for a good reason, “it’s too much. I can’t ask you to do this.” He had started pacing, his fear manifesting itself into a nervous jittering.
“Theo.” Tabitha gripped him by the shoulders, steadying him. “There could never be too much for you to ask. You are my best friend, in the whole world. I would do anything for you. And I know, you would do the same for me.”
While he opened his mouth to reply, or protest, nothing came out. Instead he dried his eyes, nodding through his tears. Words escaping him, he rushed forward, wrapping Tabitha in a tight hug, his head resting on her shoulder. His body was cold. Tabitha could tell the change was already beginning. She had to do this now.
Gently breaking their embrace, Tabitha placed a reassuring hand on Theo’s cheek.
“It’s going to be okay.” She assured.
He nodded, stepping back to give her space. Again, she pointed her wand at her forearm. She could see every blue vein in her arm leading down to her wrist. Carefully, she positioned herself above the stone bowl. Closing her eyes, she took a steadying breath as she whispered,
There was an instant and intense pain spreading from her arm. Her eyes snapped open but all she could see was a sea of thick red liquid gushing across her skin. It flowed from her arm and cascaded to the ground, collecting into their makeshift cauldron, while some stained the forest floor scarlet. The pain multiplied as Tabitha lost blood. She could feel herself getting weaker but she kept her eyes wide, watching as the bowl slowly filled. It wasn’t until her blood had reached the top of their cauldron, that Tabitha clasped her hand over the wound and fell to the ground.
“Tabitha!” Theo cried, lunging forward to lift her into his arms.
“I’m okay... I’m okay.” She said weakly.
“Here, eat this.” He tried to feed her one of the Dittany leaves from her bag.
Tabitha recognised the leaf and began to protest as much as she could in her weakened state. “No! No, you need those.”
“I’ll be fine, you need it more.” He insisted.
Giving in, Tabitha took the leaf. A smoky taste filled her mouth as she swallowed the plant. It travelled down her throat, sending a tingling, almost burning sensation across her tongue. A wave of light headedness washed over her and she was very glad Theo was there to hold her up, or she would’ve plummeted to the ground once again. However as quickly as the blood had rushed from her head, it was back, leaving Tabitha feeling awake and alert. She looked to the wound on her arm, only to find it healed over. The only sign that remained was a faint scar, that looked as though it was weeks old.
Tabitha and Theo turned to each other with disbelief and an unexpected joy. As she looked to Theo’s bright and innocent smile, Tabitha remembered exactly why she was doing this.
“Your turn.” She grabbed his hand, and squeezed it tightly.
Not releasing Tabitha’s hand, Theo took his wand in his free hand, and pointed it at the base of their cauldron.
Sparks flew from his wand, igniting a small orange fire beneath the stone bowl. Using a stick, Tabitha stirred the red liquid. Quickly it began to bubble, the Dittany and garlic combining with the blood, creating a thick cloud of purple smoke.
“The venom.” Tabitha said, gesturing to her bag.
Theo grabbed the small vial, uncorking it to drip the glistening liquid into the potion. As he did, the smoke dissipated. The venom spread across the surface of the potion, turning the once purple liquid, an infinite black. It simmered gently for a second, before settling to become perfectly still. They looked to each other, sharing the assumption that this meant the potion was ready.
Theo’s whole body was shaking as he took the bowl in both hands. For a second, he wobbled, the bowl teetering in his hands. Tabitha could hardly imagine the devastation of the potion crashing to the ground. Wanting to avoid disaster, she hastily stepped forward, placing a steady hand over Theo’s.
“Hey hey,” she said soothingly. “We’ll do it together.”
Theo’s kind eyes crinkled with a small but grateful smile. His breaths were growing shorter and his pupils were wide, but Tabitha moved with a forced calmness, staying strong for Theo’s sake. Together, they lifted the bowl to Theo’s lips. With one final gulp of air, Theo closed his eyes, and began to drink.
He winced with each mouthful, his eyes squeezing closed tighter and tighter. Tabitha watched on, helplessly. While she tried to appear calm, unconsciously she started to wring her hands in a nervous panic. The last drop rolled into Theo’s mouth, the now empty bowl dropping from his hands, and smashing onto the ground.
He stood motionless. His face was blank. Tabitha surveyed him, looking for any indication of the potion’s effects. Then he wobbled.
Suddenly his body started to convulse, sending him jerking to the ground.
“Theo!” Tabitha sprang forward.
While she tried to catch him, she buckled under his weight, falling onto her knees as Theo’s body dropped to the forest floor. He contorted in violent spasms, his arms and legs thumping against the dirt. While he thrashed, his eyes remained wide and unblinking. Tabitha gripped his shoulders, trying to steady his convulsions. She yelled over the sound of his body hitting the ground, anything to pull him back.
With a loud gasp, Theo rose from the ground, his arms and legs lifting upwards, his back disconnecting with the earth. He held this position just for a second, then quickly fell back with a heavy thump.
Tabitha grabbed his face in her hands. “Theo! Theo, wake up!” She cried. Despite her shaking, Theo lay unconscious in her arms.
“Theo?” She trembled softly.
It hadn’t worked. Tabitha breathed shakily, biting her lip in frustration and despair. Gazing up at the looming forest surrounding her, Tabitha had never felt more lost. Her mind raced but came up short for an answer of what to do now. How could she have let this happen? Just as she felt the world crashing in on her, a puff of air escaped from Theo’s lips.
He came to, bolting upright, frantically twitching from side to side.
“Theo!” Tabitha exclaimed.
She leapt forward, wrapping Theo in the tightest hug. She could feel warmth in his arms again. A slightly disorientated Theo gasped, Tabitha’s hug was blocking some of his oxygen flow.
“I’m ... I’m happy to see you ... too,” he wheezed.
She released him from her grasp, before starting a thorough inspection, from teeth to toe.
“How do you feel?”
“Apart from the invasion of my personal space,” he said, prying Tabitha’s fingers out of his mouth. “Never better.”
He grinned, flashing his very ordinary teeth. Tabitha’s heart swelled. Unable to help herself, she threw her arms around Theo again, squeezing him until he couldn’t move.
“I’m fine, really.” He laughed.
“I know, I just ...”
“Tabitha. Thanks to you, I’m fine.”
At these words, Tabitha’s soaring heart fell into the pit of her stomach. Her arms dropped from Theo as she stepped backwards.
“What is it?” He asked, concerned.
“It wasn’t just me.” She looked up to Theo, “We have to help Amias.”
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