"Double... bubble... trouble..." Angela was sitting on her bed with a notebook in her lap. Her paw trailed down the list of words that Lion helped her write down, practicing as they had done for the first three days of her training.
"...Rubble?" She looked up from her notepad, squinting at Lion with uncertainty.
Lion nodded and turned away from Angela to lower its head down next to her bed. He had prepared an unused cutting board from the house to place their meager ingredients. Its maw opened and a small arrangement of gathered flowers and hops fell onto the board.
"You're very determined. If only you had the resolve of a witch." Lion noted as she had been practicing her rhyming for some time now, "Come. I've gathered some ingredients discreetly. Smell them and learn."
Angela wiggled her rump off the bed and got to her knees next to Lion. Her fur was a mess and her witch costume were wrinkled from wear. When faced with the mass of plants she bent down to sniff around as instructed. Her tail wagged idly behind her as she gave each plant a sniff, separating them apart with her snout as she went along. Some of the flowers were sweet and some were bland smelling. The other little nubs of the collection smelled bitter and rough. Her nose twitched as she swapped between the fragrances, there was so much variety by scent alone.
"You will learn to tell each of these by their scent, name, and qualities... Then we will discuss some mixtures and how these properties can be harvested or reversed. I will gather small amounts at a time, so none will suspect our work."
Angela lifted her head up from the board and licked at her paw. She saw that Lions fur never changed, even though he had been outside and working as long as she had. "How come your fur doesn't get all messy?" She asked as she began to pat down the mess of fur at her cheek.
"I chose my fur to be like this." Lion replied as it pawed at the arrangement, organizing them to keep the plants separate and ready for later.
"With small thunder?"
"Lightening, not thunder. What you feel can be described as static to your kind. It is nothing more than the energy I emit... similar to the energy you'll learn to channel from your chanting."
Angela patted down some of the stray tufts of fur on her cheeks and looked back to Tiger's bounty. Before his teaching, the ingredients she borrowed from the neighbor’s garden were never separated nor did she try to learn about the plants themselves. She only tried to follow the pictures as well as she could while stuffing them behind her dresser when she was finished. Now that she's been instructed otherwise, she felt a tinge of embarrassment that her methods were so careless. "Now that all my old stuff is gone... is this is all we need to practice?"
Lion shook its head and pointed a mighty paw to the witch’s tome leaning against her bed. "To properly practice herb-lore, we need a couple more instruments. One of which I cannot take so easily without being noticed... First, we would need a flat stone. Smooth and roughly three-paws lengths. You can easily scavenge this elsewhere while I search for ingredients. The most difficult of the remaining tools will be a cauldron... An uncommon item in societies current state."
"My cereal bowl wasn't good enough?" When Lion shook its head, she tried to rack her brain for bigger options. "Well... what about a popcorn bowl? They're a lot bigger." She raised her paws and mimicked the size, making a shape three times larger than the last bowl.
"It must be larger and able to withstand heat for an extended period."
Angela pressed her paws together to think, trying to think of anything in or around the house she could use that would be big enough that can be heated. There were a few things in the house that came to mind, but she wasn't sure if they could satisfy Lion's description. Her mind wandered to where she snatched some ingredients before. There was someone lived next door and he had a gardening hobby. He was also nice enough to speak with Angela and her mother whenever they met at the fence in their back yard, a friendly neighbor for their little family. She recalled some of the items in his back yard, there were often stray unused pots next to his house or around the garden.
She clenched her paw and struck her palm as the idea came to her, "Mr. Artie might give us one of his pots if we ask nicely." Lion seemed to look interested, so she continued with a big grin on her face. "He's a nice neighbor too. His pots are... this big." She gestured with her paws, making a big circle from her chest. "And they're not plastic. They're... not glass either."
Tiger thought about it for a moment, its forehead symbol flaring up as it tried to consider what she knew. "Ceramic?" Angela wasn't fully sure, but she nodded in response. "A ceramic pot of that size would do. Adjustments would also be manageable. Just taking something that big could prove difficult to conceal, so we must ask. When can we ask this Mr. Artie?"
"Well... whenever he gets home, he goes outside." She turned and pointed towards her door, "In the back yard we can talk to him. He comes home before mama does."
"Then we will wait for him. Come, Angela." Tiger flipped a paw up to help Angela get back to her feet. When the kit was standing, the familiar's voice in her head lowered to a whisper, "Remember what must be said."
"Secrecy will be thy friend..." She replied with a nod, to which Tiger began to shift away from its celestial tiger form and into a bright misty cloud that split and rushed into the cuffs of her robe. She raised her paws and watched it conceal itself as the mist thinned out and disappeared from sight. Every time Tiger had done this to hide away from her mother it left her stunned with wonder. "Tiger, you're awesome." It couldn't even be felt; Tiger was completely undetectable when it didn't want to be.
Angela left the room and made her way to the back yard. Next door was Mr. Artie's home, another small abode among their neighborhood but much more well-kept. His home was repainted a different color every year and was one of the most orderly homes in the neighborhood. The front yard was a standard display with some flowers lining the sidewalk for bystanders to enjoy, but the years of his practice were always on display for Angela and other neighbors through his white picket fence. A circular pathway in his back yard molded his garden, in the center was an old fashioned well and around the pathway was as wide arrange of foliage as any backyard could hope for. She sat down in the grass nearby the picket fence and admired some of the crocus and daffodils that bordered the fence and main garden.
The two waited patiently until noon where the back door opened with a tall figure stepping out from the home. He stood at the head of his garden, coffee mug in hand, and soaked in the relaxing view of his work. Mr. Artie was a gazelle with long crescent horns pointing upwards with a patch of spiky black fur styled between them. He was a youthful looking adult still in his late twenties that maintained a calm expression due to his relaxed lifestyle. He did as Angela recounted, after work he would come to his back yard to drink coffee and unwind while he made some mental notes or pulled a stray weed growing around his garden. He stood there in his casual outdoor wear, taking a deep breath as Angela rose from her seat to lean against the fence. Just as he was about to drink from his cup, the purple robes had caught his eye and he set his mug down on a nearby ornament.
"Well good day to you, miss Angela." He waved and moved along the circular path towards her yard. "You aren't out turning the neighbors into rocks, are you?" He joked with a teasing point.
"Nope! I promise!" Angela raised a paw to swear with a big grin on her face.
"Well that's too bad... I was just needing some extra rocks to line an annual plot I wanna prepare after winter." He crossed his arms and nodded idly, "It looks like you were waiting for me, is that right?"
She nodded and Mr. Artie waved for her to join him in the garden. She patted down the grass from her robes and moved towards the back alley, entering from the back gate. When she met him in the circle path, she politely held her paws together behind her back.
"Does Morgan need more chamomile?" He asked as he moved along the path with Angela trailing behind him, "I told her she'd love some good natural chamomile for that stress."
"No, momma doesn't need anything." She stood nearby as her neighbor came back to his mug, waiting politely for him to take a drink before continuing. "I wanted to ask... If you could give me one of your flowerpots." She saw a few vacant ones nearby his back door, "One of those big ones." She pointed out a nice big ceramic pot.
"Huh. What do you need one of those for?"
"I need it for..." Angela swayed her hips as she cooked up a lie, "School."
"Mhm! I need it for... uh."
Mr. Artie eyed Angela carefully, he didn't exactly need that pot at the moment, but it was strange that she came to him without her mother. "Well, Morgan did say you were struggling..." He looked over at her home, "Where is your mom? Still at work?"
The kit nodded and he went back to eyeing her carefully. "Is that costume part of your extra credit too? It's a wonderful little dress but..."
Angela's swaying froze and she bit her lip.
"Angela? Is the flowerpot really for school?" He pressed whenever he saw the signs of a lie. He couldn't imagine why she would ask, but he was told to keep a look out for her if anything strange happened while her mother was away.
Tiger's voice came quickly, "Angela. Even if many think witchcraft is false, any suspicion can harm us. Tell this man we need it for your mother but hide its purpose."
"It's for my momma."
Mr. Artie set down his drink again. "For your mom?"
"I need it so I can get my mom a husband." She spoke plainly with eyes piercing up at him, her legs beginning to quiver beneath her robe.
He stared at her blankly, his gaze shifting over to his pots briefly as he began to chuckle. "A flowerpot?" His chuckle died down, but he looked relaxed as he turned his attention back to the kit. "Angela, I don't think your mom needs help finding a husband. I think we both know your mom is very pretty... If she wanted a husband that badly..." He paused briefly, raking his hard-tipped fingers through his neck fur, "Is your mom looking for someone?"
"She's at work, I don't think she's looking for anyone."
"Ha... right." The innocent reply was enough to satisfy his questions for now. He motioned for her to stay while he retrieved the ceramic pot. "Well, if it's for Morgan, I can part with one of these."
When he turned away from the pair, Tiger idly noted that the neighbor seemed like quite the gentle spirit. "This man seems very nice." Its voice muttered idly.
She replied without thinking. "Mhm. He's very nice, mom likes him a lot."
"Angela?" He lifted the pot and turned back to her with a raised brow.
"What? Oh!" Angela fidgeted in place, "I... Meant to say you're very nice. Mom likes pots. Thank you very much, Mr. Artie." She let out a nervous little giggle as he came closer. She wrapped her arms around the pot and hugged it to her chest. The large ceramic pot seemed like it could hold well over a gallon of water, a perfect substitute witches’ cauldron.
"Well it's my pleasure, miss Angela." He placed his hands in pockets and smiled down at the adorable little kit. "If you need anything else for Morgan just let me know..." When he saw the little nod, he looked back at his mug, "Now you should head on back home... I'm dying to get back to that coffee."
Angela gave him another nod and left Mr. Artie to enjoy the rest of his afternoon. The two managed to escape suspicion and secure the most important tool for practice. With the ceramic pot sitting next to their small arrangement of ingredients, Angela pulled out the witch tome and flipped through a few pages to get to the section that dictates notable flowers. As she flipped through the book, a bright mist seeped from her cuffs and reformed itself into its preferred feral tiger form next to her.
Her paws pressed down each page until she found a matching description of what ingredients Tiger had gathered so far. "Motherwort..." She bent over to bring the herb next to the description on the page, this one seemed unique enough to easily identify.
"A herb with protective qualities, known for fullness and longevity. One that we'll practice with in due time." The voice followed up without looking at the page, pawing at the notebook they were practicing with earlier on her bed. "We shall begin to make preparations to practice in the coming days. For now, we'll resume our study of your language."
"But we have our pot and plants right here, can't we make something?" She closed the book with a little whine.
Tiger shook its head, "Soon you'll see why practicing your speech is so important." It managed to get the notebook on its paw and presented it to Angela, who took it after a sigh. The witch’s book was placed aside for now as the two continued exercising her vocabulary and rhymes.
"Begin with pillow." It instructed as it moved to curl up on her bed.
"Pillow?" Angela's ears fell flat against her long dark hair, opening up the notebook to search for words that could rhyme with that. "F... fellow?" She moved closer to stand in front of Lion, who approved, and her ears shot back up. "Mellow!" She yipped happily as she continued to string together rhyming words to please her teacher, eager to study and prepare herself for the coming trials.