Vivienne felt good about her plan to win Bryantt’s heart. She vowed to make him love her, hopelessly. She wanted him at her feet, under her power. That would give her control over him, and his wealth.
She knew she was beautiful. She knew she had charms. Enough men had told her so. Still, she was not getting younger, and she had heard rumours of another who had his heart. She needed to be sure, to make certain that he would fall in love with her.
She made casual inquiries of the cook and staff, asking coyly if they had ever used a potion to steal a man’s heart. The cook was a wise, old woman who saw through her. She had been cook in the castle for many years, and had watched Vivienne grow up. She pulled the Countess aside.
“What you want can be found,” she said. “But be careful. Everything in this world is in balance. For everything there is a price that must be paid. That is especially true when it comes to magic.”
Vivienne smiled brightly at the cook and clasped her hands in excitement. “Where? Where can I get it?”
The cook looked at her carefully. “Gus, the farmer, who brings us produce is more than that. He knows how to mix the herbs he grows and make signs and rituals to create what you want. Speak to him. He should be bringing me some more produce within the hour. It is his delivery day.”
Vivienne smiled brightly. She hovered near the window in her room, watching for Gus. Finally she saw him walk through the portculis. She skipped down the stairs and met him in the courtyard.
“Aye, lady. I have mixed a few potions in my time,” he responded.
“What if I wanted to win a man’s heart, to make him fall totally and hopelessly in love with me?” she asked.
Gus smiled at her. “With your beauty, lady, why would you need such a thing?”
The Countess blushed and smiled. “Others have charm and beauty as well, and the competition for a man’s heart can be fierce. I need something to tip the balance in my favour.”
“I can make you such a potion, lady. Just be sure that you are the first to kiss him after he drinks it.”
A cloud seemed to pass over Vivienne’s face as she thought of the rumour of another who held Bryantt’s heart. “Will it turn his heart from another if he has already given it?”
“If he has feelings for another, they will still be there. But he will be totally infatuated and in love with you as well.” he said.
Vivienne chewed on her lip, looking at Gus. It was the first time she has really looked at him and she was struck at how handsome he was. The white hair on his head did not match the smooth skin of his face. It flowed in soft waves and was striking against his summer tan. “I suppose that will have to do,” she said. “How much will that cost?”
Gus gave her a measured smile, looking into the depths of her eyes. “Lady, you are quite powerful in this region. Let me do it as a favour to you, and perhaps one day you can do one in return for me.”
At the mention of favours, Vivienne felt the hair raise on the back of her neck. She suspected that this could be a very expensive potion. Still, she needed it badly.
“That is very kind of you, Gus. If ever you need anything of me, feel free to ask.” She hoped that those words were ambiguous enough to let her slip out of anything too excessive that he might ask.
With that, she thanked him, bade him goodnight, and pointed him in the direction of the cook who was awaiting his delivery of produce.