Everything about the little cottage was rough. Aside from the pale skin showing out the top of Vrona’s dress, Tabitha didn’t see a single smooth surface. The table that dominated the room as well as the matching chairs were made of uneven lengths of natural wood, the books on the shelf were ragged and worn, the thatch roof was just that: a thatch roof, and the smell coming out of the knobby, rusted cauldron that sat in the corner made the very air abrasive.
Vrona, though, was not at all what Tabitha had expected. She had assumed the witch would be a withered, old woman, as rough and leathery as the surroundings she now found herself in, but the woman was, instead, a real beauty. Sure, she had a darkness about her and unnaturally pale skin, but even her darkness seemed to add to the sensuality that seemed to rise off of her like steam. Tabitha wasn’t sure, exactly what it was about the woman that highlighted her raw sexuality, but something in the way she moved and the sheen on her eyes made Tabitha’s breathing deepen slightly and her loins tingle in a way that, though not unpleasant, made her vaguely uncomfortable.
“I know he’s cheating on me,” Tabitha said as she sat down into the rough, wooden chair that the woman offered. It was surprisingly comfortable.
“I want to find out who it is,” Tabitha finished as the woman took her own seat across the table from her. “And I want vengeance.”
The table top was clear aside from a scattering of crystals, and a large, gnarled candle which the witch now lit, by raising her hands to it and blowing gently, breathing life into a flame that hadn’t been there just a moment ago. The woman settled back into her chair and looked at Tabitha, that same expression of inquisitive, smoldering, appraisal on her face.
“Is that something you might be able to help me with?” Tabitha asked, more trying to fill the silence, than expecting that the obvious question was really necessary.
Vrona nodded her head and, in a quiet voice she said, “His lover will be revealed. Though, have you really thought about the vengeance part?”
“Of course I have!” Tabitha said. It had been both parts that had made her start out on her journey to find the witch, but it had been the idea of retribution that had made her push deeper and deeper into the dark woods, long after logic dictated that she return home. It had been a need for justice to be doled out that had made her muddy her shoes in the creek and tear her dress on the berry brambles that crept in close, almost covering the path in some places.
Vrona nodded again slowly, then stood asking, “Have you brought any of his hair?”
“I thought you might need that,” Tabitha responded, producing a small cloth bag with a few hairs in it.
The witch took them from her and walked to the Cauldron. While the woman’s back was turned, Tabitha caught herself letting her eyes slip slowly down the creamy skin of her exposed shoulders. The back of the dress was open, and Tabitha’s eyes easily following the curve of Vrona’s back as it ran between two muscular shoulder blades to disappear into the thin, silky covering that clung to the woman’s thin waist. Tabitha felt her heart quickening. She caught her breath and forced herself to look down at the table in front of her. What was wrong with her? She focused on the small, clear crystal laying on the table, twinkling now in the candlelight.
There was a whoosh of fire and suddenly the room was brighter, Tabitha glanced back up, to find Vrona standing on the other side of the cauldron, a fire now burning beneath it. The witch tilted her face down, as if to look into the cauldron, but her eyes stayed stuck on Tabitha, a knowing smirk sitting in the corner of her mouth.
“You are a very attractive woman,” she said suddenly.
Tabitha was suddenly aware that she was sweating, was it getting hot in there?
“Th- thank you,” Tabitha stammered, more bashful than she thought necessary. She watched the woman sprinkle her husband’s hair into the cauldron.
“Are you sure he’s been with another woman?” Vrona asked, turning to the shelf next to her and grabbing a bundle of vibrant, purple flowers.
“Absolutely certain,” Tabitha said, watching the witch untie the bundle, then drop all the flowers into the depths of the huge, metal pot.
“I see,” said the witch, who turned and grabbed a ladle and a cup. As she was turned, Tabitha again caught her eyes caressing the perfect silhouette and looked down at the table in front of her. Looking at that crystal again and listening to the sounds of the witch scooping liquid out of the bottom of the cauldron, she took a long, slow breath of the putrid air.
She heard the woman moving towards her and looked up as she was handed a small cup full of brackish, green water.
“Drink this,” Vrona said.
Tabitha looked down at the cup, then up into Vrona’s face, then back down into the cup. Staring at it, her face scrunched into a gnarled bunch of distaste.
“I don’t know if-” she began, but cut short as she felt Vrona’s hand slip gently onto her shoulder, causing a wave of heat to ripple over her body and focus on her groin. The hand slipped up her neck as she felt Vrona’s thigh brush her arm, the woman moving closer to her. Tabitha’s heart was now racing, she closed her eyes.
“Drink,” Vrona whispered.
Tabitha did. She struggled the liquid down her throat, focusing on the feel of that hand now running down her back. When the last of the vile liquid had been swallowed she coughed, gagged and wheezed, but it stayed down.
“Good,” Vrona said, letting her hand fall away from Tabitha’s back, that sensual warmth it had brought disappearing as she did so. Vrona moved to the other side of the table and, once again, settled into the chair.
“That’s it?” Tabitha asked, feeling nauseous.
“Yes,” Vrona said, nodding slightly.
“No magic words or anything?” her throat felt tight.
“No,” Vrona said. She leaned forward onto her elbows on the table, “no magic was necessary on this one.”
“What?” Tabitha asked, “what did I just-” She tried to stand up, but her head was spinning now.
“Poison, Tabitha. You just drank poison,” Vrona said with a wicked smile.
“What?” Tabitha managed to squeak out in a raspy voice, “why?”
“I promised to tell you who your husband was sleeping with,” Vrona said. “It’s me,” she laughed in a girlish tone.
Tabitha struggled to her feet, then collapsed back into the chair, closing her eyes to make the room stop spinning.
“I loved him long before you,” Vrona said, “and you stole him from me.”
Tabitha’s mind was foggy with swirling, inky blackness, but through the descending mist of unconsciousness she heard Vrona make one final statement.
“And, now, he is mine and so is vengeance.”