Written by Anthony Laurens
The quiet cottage opened up to him as he trotted merrily towards its doorstep, breathing in the warmth and the kindness that swaddled him, carrying him in its cradle.
'It's been too long my dear! Come, come! I got the note from the Guild. The stove is on, the everyday one of course... not that great big thing your uncle left in the study, and he hasn't visited in long enough either, mind! Oh dear oh dear, but you're here now my boy.'
Mrs Holdsworth grasped Mortir in her sturdy arms, her shorter stature leaving the tip of her nose foraging chest height into his very wizardly beard.
'When did you grow this?! Oh Arthurt always loved a good beard, but you weren't ever your fathers son. Oh no, no...' Mrs Holdsworth adjusted her round specs to get a better peak at her grandson, rubbing away specks of dust with the tips of her slightly pudgy fingers. 'and you've finally started feeding yourself too by the looks of it! Good, the winters will be easier with a little meat on those bones.' Mrs Holdsworth produced a needle and thread from one of her dress pockets; all wise women have pockets on their dresses of course, and began mending the pulled seam that gave away his finely developed paunch.
Tea was poured from the kettle atop the wood stove and Mrs Holdsworth filled a sizeable chunk of the day with fussing, local gossip of the sort Mortir was sure his wizardly counterparts would also struggle to follow, tearful monologues pertaining to family business – and the lack thereof - and plentiful amounts of just about anything you could freshly bake. Morning met midday and midday sauntered lazily into the hours that lay on the other side of twelve. The afternoon waned and our gracious host busied herself with preparing the guest room with freshly washed sheets, replacing the freshly washed sheets she had fitted only the evening prior (which, upon the passing of a half-day just weren't fresh enough anymore). Mortir took the opportunity to explore the study he had previously heard mention of and found it just the space he had hoped for to continue his pouring over the mysterious book.
Mortir reached into his pocket and produced the aforementioned literature, some pocket fluff, and a rather ungraceful looking mouse. In all of the time he had spent trying to fix his problem, he'd never stopped to observe the creature he had spent his life existing as: looking at the petrified figure, he wondered whether the wizard within was aware of his surroundings, or whether he was simply asleep.
Once his grandmother had reappeared and filled his head with tales and his stomach with good food, he took his leave of the long day and curled himself into the sheets. He drifted softly, nestling into his pillow, smelling that oh too familiar lavender scent and feeling the strings of his heart tug both in hope and a little in woe.
He pulled himself from his sleep at the onset of the morning - it was stronger. Lavender. All he could smell around him, it was everywhere. In his bed, his room, following his nose he chased the smell down the stairwell. Lavender. A frantic moment, the lounge, no. It's there...but it's not the source. The kitchen, it must be the kitchen. The stove is on, the tea! Is it the tea? The smell of fanciful botanicals wafts out of the spout but there is no lavender here. No lavender.
He trips over his own hurried feet, cracking his specs on the stone floor of the kitchen. He pushes them on and presses his hands to the floor to throw himself forwards and onto his two knees, already propelling him in no particular direction. He stumbles, grabbing the timber frame of the doorway to the study.
He's sweating now, panting slightly at the chaos inside his panicked head, reeling inside and trying to gain some focus to his thoughts. It's stronger here. He finds his feet and adjusts his spectacles to see through the bits of glass that aren't fractured.
Mrs Holdsworth is stood over the old stove, filling two teacups with a gently steaming fluid.
'You've fixed it my dear, thats so lovely of you. To think all of these years you still have this old book!' Mrs Holdsworth gestured to the open page of the tome that Mortir had left on the table the night before. 'It never did anything before, thats what your grandfather always told me anyway. A silly tea recipe he'd say. I remember your father and uncle Rodgir spending so much time trying to work it out. And you've gone and fixed it haven't you! You were always so bright and of course it may be smudged a bit but I can tell your handwriting!' Mrs Holdsworth lifted the cup to her nose and inhaled. 'I always did love the smell of lavender.'
She smiled, then she raised the cup to her lips. Mortir shouted something so utterly engulfed in panic that the syllables became high volume, frightened gibberish. He leaped, gallantly and clumsily across the small expanse between the doorway in which he stood and the space between the stove and the table Mrs Holsdworth was inhabiting. His lunge intercepted the clay teacup and Mrs Holdsworth's slightly chapped lips, and a mid flight collision with the pan handle sent the entire vessel of still-hot fluid pouring down over Mortir, Mrs Holdsworth and, of course, the static rodent on the table beside them.
The room seemed almost like someone had captured it in a low-grade oil painting: slightly hazy and out-of-focus, too much light pouring through the window, leaving the view oversaturated and tired. Mortir, the wizard, peeked out through a pair of grubby spectacles, wiping away speckles of remaining condensation. The rodent, who's name will always be Mortir in his heart now, stepped with his stiff limbs into a ray of escaped sunrise from the window, just as the day was establishing itself too much to be called dawn anymore. And Mrs Holdsworth lay motionless, draped in robes of fine cloth and bespectacled with gilded rims which held pieces of cracked glass, booted in the very softest leather.
And smelling of lavender.
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