Forest Interlude




One section of the forest did not want to be cut down and Helga was glad. She'd spotted a few patches of useful herbs-- large patches of heartease which she needed to stock up on anyway. Making sure she had enough patches and twine for her foray, Helga tromped deeper into the woods.

The bracken and thorns seem to part before her but she didn't know if that was because of the forest itself or just another part of her affinity towards plants manifesting itself. She rather fancied it was the forest; the last thing she needed was another useless spell. Didoplantae? Apperovia?

Helga snorted. Well, it would be useful but try telling that to the Terrible Trio. They'd bash their heads in creating the perfect Greek Fire spell then become completely turned around when they couldn't find their way to the place they needed to attack in the first place.

Yew and beech gave way to sycamore and wild apple. Helga reached up once in a while to break off a stem and check the growth of the mistletoe. A few more months and those, too, would be perfect for--

A dry twig cracked to her right.

Helga whipped around, wand at the ready.

"How many times do I have to tell you not to stand like that?" Salazar walked out from between the shadows of two closely entwined sycamores, easy as you please.

"Must you always sneak up on a person?"

"Sneaking is a highly underrated skill. You can get to many places by sneaking. Why, just yesterday, I managed to--"

Helga held her hand up. "Please. I have no desire to know."

He smiled. It made her shiver. "Where are you going, Helga? Forests can be dangerous."

"Not to me." Gathering her plants-- and her wits-- she forged onward but he was instantly at her side.

"All sorts of unsavoury creatures in this wood." Salazar looked up, around, and back at her. "I'd never forgive myself if you were somehow... hurt."

She backed away, her heart tripping over its rhythm. Salazar was on her toes, bracing his arm over her head as she bumped into the trunk of-- she felt the bark-- an oak. A bloody great old one. "I can take care of myself. I've been taking care of myself before I met any of you. Now, move." Laying a hand on Salazar's chest, Helga shoved.

He stepped back but Helga wasn't fooled. She could never be physically stronger. But then again, Salazar would never back away from a fight.

"Why were you following me?"

"I wanted to make sure you stayed safe."

Helga snorted and was about to turn away when she spotted a strange expression flicker on Salazar's face. It almost looked like... hurt?

"I certainly don't want to search for you after dark," he muttered. "'S'blood, woman, you couldn't find your way out of a one-roomed door."

Helga's lips twisted. Good old Salazar. "Your concern is touching." Sighing, she checked her pouches to make sure that nothing was damaged. "Well, as long as you're here, you might as well make yourself useful. Hold these."

Warily, as though she was handing him live skrewts and bubotuber pus instead of dandelion roots and rose hips, Salazar took the pouches. "What are they for?"

"General stocks," replied Helga. "Once the castle is underway, I doubt we'll have time to fetch them, never mind curing them properly and I just know the injuries will abound what with your and Godric's experimental spells although why strengthening spells just won't do is beyond my ken. And, truly, we needn't make anything too ostentatious. As long as there's a proper garden and a wide enough bailey, shouldn't that suffice? It's not as though anyone will live in it other than we four."

"What if we turned it into a school?"

Helga tilted her head at the question. "Like the universities in Rome?"

"Almost. But for the young ones. To help them control it." Salazar's gaze turned inward. "So much power in such small hands. I can see why they fear us."

Instantly, Helga was at his side. "It wasn't your fault. The child made the blaze too large. No spell could have contained it once it was let loose."

"but if she'd only known how to control it!" Salazar bit out. "These damned laws and rules. These people can learn but those can't. These people can use potions, but those shouldn't. If everyone could just--" He took a deep breath. "I'm yelling again."

Helga smiled. "It's all right. Tell me... tell me more about this school of yours."

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