Prickles passed the last ingredient — pickled newt eyes — to Mistress Moonshine. She plucked it off his spiny arm and dropped it into the bubbling cauldron. Both watched intently as the green solution frothed and turned pink. A smoky, pink heart puffed from the top of the cauldron.
“It worked,” Mistress Moonshine cheered, throwing her arms wide.
Prickles grinned also and spread his arms too, waiting for the gleeful embrace of his mistress. But Mistress Moonshine scooped the potion bottles into her arms instead. Little coloured vials chinked and toppled as she wrapped her arms around them. Prickles’ face fell. He knew why Mistress Moonshine didn’t want to hug him. No one wanted to hug a cactus. But for some reason he had let himself hope that with the perfection of the love potion, the trainee witch might feel generous enough to include her sidekick in her celebratory exploits.
But the disappointment was the same as always. Prickles didn’t blame her. Not really. He rubbed one stumpy arm against the other, feeling the sharp spines that dug into him and everyone else. Cacti just weren’t made to be loved.
Mistress Moonshine put the bottles back down and straightened the few that threatened to fall. Prickles rearranged his face so she wouldn’t see his disappointment. He didn’t want her to feel bad too.
“You see, Prickles? I told you that if we put our minds to it, we could do anything.” She chuckled and adjusted his pot so he had the best view of the workshop. “Why, I bet we could even make a love potion to work on cacti if we needed to.” With another smile, she scooped some of the love potion into a vial, corked it, and left to deliver it to the Masters.
Prickles stared into the foamy pink mixture. He didn’t want a love potion for cacti. Not really. He just wanted to be less…offensive to those with soft skin. Was there even a potion for that? Mistress Moonshine seemed to think anything was possible, and Prickles was inclined to believe her. After all, she had animated him from a regular cactus, and he was mostly sure that had been a good idea.
Prickles reached for the spell book and began leafing through the pages. His spines caught on the paper a few times and he accidentally tore one of the corners, but he hopes Mistress Moonshine wouldn’t notice. Finally, he found a spell that looked promising. His eyes fixed on the word exfoliating. It wasn’t designed for cacti, and Prickles suspected he would need to replace some of the ingredients with stronger substances. Reaching for the listed items, Prickles began adding them to a new cauldron.
When Mistress Moonshine returned, she stared at Prickles’ creation with eyes wide and mouth hanging open.
“Prickles, we do not use sandpaper in the ‘Soothing Bath’ spell.” She snatched the gritty paper from him, and with hands on hips, looked down at her spiky sidekick. “What are you trying to do?”
Prickles reached for the sandpaper, unsure how to tell her that he needed it to remove his spines, to make him soft. The spell promised skin as soft as a baby. Perfectly huggable. He reached for the book, pointing to the spell.
Mistress Moonshine’s eyebrows knitted together. “You want to change? But I thought you were happy?”
Prickles wrapped his arms around his middle, wincing as he spiked himself.
Mistress Moonshine looked at him sadly. “Well, if you really want to change, Prickles, you should have just asked.” She smiled at him again. “I can transform you.”
Prickles looked up with glee as Mistress Moonshine reached for her wand. This was it, he was finally going to be lovable. Mistress Moonshine waved her wand and Prickles felt a strange poof go through him. He was shorter, and he could feel dirt under what he suddenly realised were paws. He looked down at his fuzzy belly, then hopped off the top of his pot. Mistress Moonshine beamed.
“Look!” She held up a mirror and Prickles saw himself. A perfectly formed prickly hedgehog. “Now you still get to keep your name.”
FlashFictionMonth day 2!
Prompts: “For the last time, we do not use sandpaper in the ‘soothing bath spell’!” – by DirectionOfTime
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