Back in the game. Another story for May's Magical Minifics, a challange on r/fanfiction. Prompt: "A flower has special properties and it is just what your character has been looking for."

Many thanks to silverr for beta and suggestions. :)


A Study in Red

The flower was gorgeous. Spectacular, almost as huge as the palm of his hand, with numerous petals of deep red. The inside was yellowish, with an impressive cluster of delicate long stamens. It was a real shame to destroy something so rare, that bloomed for only one night.

Stephen admired the flower for a moment longer and then carefully put it into the mixture he was preparing in a cauldron, feeling as if he were some ancient alchemist. The job description of the Sorcerer Supreme didn't exactly include brewing potions, but he was making this one at a request of someone very special... he couldn't refuse.

The collar of the Cloak brushed his cheek. He could sense that it was impatient—and a little tense.

It took some time before the contents of the cauldron turned red. Stephen fished out the flower with tongs—drab looking now that it had been deprived of its vivid color. Then he conjured a huge basin filled with hot water in the middle of the room and poured the mixture from the cauldron into it, careful to not spill even a drop. The water quickly bloomed red.

"It is ready," he said, thinking that the contents of the basin looked as if someone had been slaughtered in it.

The Cloak shifted lightly, but stayed on his shoulders.

"You wanted it, remember? You pulled me through the whole library to find that particular recipe," Strange reminded it with a tinge of impatience in his voice. "We went to Guatemala to find the flower—and going there through a gateway makes little difference for me. It's still very far away. So don't chicken out now."

The Cloak lifted off his back and floated toward the basin hesitatingly. It tilted its collar, hovering over it. Finally outstretched one of its corners to touch the surface of the water, then quickly backed away as if it was too hot.

"Come on, jump in," Stephen encouraged it. "And don't look at me as if I wanted to put you into a washing machine."

The Cloak looked almost offended. Finally it made up its mind and slipped into the basin. Stephen smiled. It reminded him a dog he had when he was a little kid. Spot was also very hesitant to take a bath. But there was no other way. Only a dye made of Epiphyllum flower could refresh the color of the Cloak.

The Cloak submerged, then rose out of the water, dripping and bedraggled.

"You look more beautiful already," Stephen said, a moment before the Cloak shook itself dry and spattered him with a barrage of red droplets.


A/N Epiphyllum is a real plant, native to Central America. It bears beautiful flowers that bloom for one day (or one night) only.