49. Fairy Cocktails
One of the very first things Petal did upon returning to Tookland was ask for one of Vervain's famous drinks. She made the best drinks in all the land, and no one else could match her. And no one knew her secrets, not even Petal.
Petal watched her mix the drink. One drop of honeysuckle nectar brought in by a luna moth. One drop of wild-rose nectar fetched by a honeybee. Two drops of cherry-blossom nectar procured by a spring-azure butterfly. A grain of pollen from a jasmine flower, gathered by a bumblebee. A dewdrop fetched by Vervain herself, from a young fern frond. Three poppy seeds, one mushroom spore, all stirred with the stamen of a lily of the valley. But that was only the beginning. There was a secret to it that only Vervain seemed to know, and could impart to no one. The secret is in the fizz, she would say. Any Fairy can mix the drink. But without the Fizz, it's only a drink. It's not THE drink.
After mixing all the ingredients, Vervain would hum a song over it, looking at it with enormous concentration, until it began to effervesce, and then she would breathe on it, until it became all foamy and smelling utterly delicious. And then with twinkling solemnity she would hand you the drink in a lily cup, instructing you to inhale the scent before quaffing it. And when you drank it, you would be suspended in a rainbow mist, or in the light of a star, or drifting over a pool of the clearest and brightest water imaginable, with the most wonderful music ringing in your ears. And there was no after-effect, no hangover, no nausea, no dizziness, no unbearable craving for more and more. Only a feeling of having the sweetest dream possible.
Lord Irmo gave me the secret, Vervain would say if asked. He entrusted it to me alone. You'll have to ask him.
I've truly missed these drinks, Petal said as she took the draught her friend handed her. Well I remember how they made me feel after losing him, and the children, and the grandchildren, and all the others. I do not think I could have gotten through it all without them. And now...I need them more than ever. They are the very liquor of Friendship.
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