*Cackleberry: a hen’s egg used for food
“Welcome to your first official potions class ladies, my name Professor Aria Salmanda. I’ll be instructing you today and for the rest of your hapless days here at Witchbane Academy on the art of concocting.” Professor Aria Salmanda was intimidating, she was tall and strikingly beautiful, there was no doubt this was a powerful witch.
Everyone of the first years held their breath as the professor strode through the room passing out recipes for their first potions assessment. Danica was in awe of the power and respect the professor commanded, that’s what she wanted to be. Of course she understood to reach such a goal she’d first need to pass her assessment so she ceased looking at the professor after receiving her recipe.
Scanning the ingredients list, Danica softly repeated the words under her breath.
“Eye of newt, Toad’s breath, pickled tongue, cackleberry, speckled toadstool and vulture claw…” she paused after reading the list, backtracking through the ingredients. “Cackleberry? What’s that?” she mused aloud, but at a whisper so as not to let Professor Salmanda know she was ignorant of what must surely be a common potions ingredient.
“It’s an egg,” whispered one of the girls at the workstation across from her. Danica fixed the girl with a stare, she was furious that somebody had heard her and that she was being corrected but she had to contain that anger, the girl was short and a little on the big side in Danica’s opinion.
“What type of egg?” Danica hissed, she wasn’t happy but she’d be damned if she let her pride ruin everything.
“An egg, you know from a hen.” The girl must have thought Danica was daft for asking what kind of egg, but in witchcraft you could never be too careful with these things.
Instead of responding Danica nodded and turned her back to the girl. She had no intentions of becoming friends with anyone at the academy, least of all somebody who knew one of her shortcomings. Still bristling with quiet rage Danica went to the ingredients cabinet and pulled out what she needed, in proper school fashion nothing was labelled and it was a test for students to prove they knew what they were doing.
Back at her work station Danica pulled out her cauldron and followed the recipe:
1. Wash the speckled toadstool then put it into the cauldron before filling with cold water.
2. Bring water to a boil and add pickled tongue, vulture claw and eye of newt
3. Keep pot at a simmer and stir for 5 minutes before cracking open cackleberry and putting yolk into mixture.
4. Add Toad’s breath and put lid onto pot to keep from escaping, turn off flame and leave cauldron for an hour.
When she returned to the cauldron Danica was surprised how sweet the potion smelled, she checked the recipe but there were no more steps or notes. She checked for a name to the potion but the professor had left it blank leaving the students to discover what they had made. That’s when a wicked idea came to mind, Danica took a spoon and ladled out some of the mixture into a bowl then took it over to the girl who’d helped her before.
“Hi I’m Danica, thanks for your assistance earlier.”
“Oh no problem, we’re all here to learn the craft after all. I’m Nerin.” The girl smiled sweetly and shook Danica’s hand.
“Would you like some of the potion I made, its really tasty. Honestly I think its just a simple cake recipe I was given, all the ingredients were completely normal.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me, very few potions I know of require cackleberry. Sure I’d love a taste.” Unsuspectingly the girl took a spoonful of the potion and swallowed it. “Its a little bitter, but otherwise f-” the girl stopped midway and started to give Danica a rather unsettling look, the look of a lovesick puppy.
“So its a love potion, great.” Danica noted the effect and excused herself from Nerin, growing uncomfortable with the girl’s stare.
When the Professor returned Danica was happy to find out she was correct and awarded full marks for her assessment. Though Professor Salmanda gave her a bit of a look after noticing Nerin’s new behaviour.
A/N: you may recognise Danica from some of my other short stories, hopefully this gives more of a glimpse into her wonderfully malicious mind.