It took a lot of struggling, but finally, Saffron barely squeezed her way out of that mouse hole and gained access to Regina's lab. She took a look around, gazing upon the mountainous shelves lined with books and jars, and the various beakers and vials sitting atop the tall, oak table positioned on the far wall. It suddenly dawned on her that everything she'd been through so far, escaping the jar Regina had stuck her inside, getting out of the sink, escaping Tipper, and finally reaching the lab, had all been the easy part.
She gulped, and felt a lump form in her throat. Everything was so high up and so much larger than she was... how in the world could she possibly be expected to access what she needed? It all seemed so unfair, to go through all that trouble... Saffron stopped herself, and shook her head. No, she couldn't think that way. It would have been nice if the hard parts were all behind her now, but there was no way she could give up now. Not when she was so close! Mustering up her courage and determination, Saffron worked her way over to the table, her mind already formulating a plan. Getting up to the top wouldn't be difficult, she'd already solved that problem when she figured out how to escape from the sink, and there were no open windows in the room to blow her off course this time. Without a moment's hesitation, she inflated herself, concentrating enough air into her body to float all the way to the table top and, like before, released as much air as she was able to, allowing her to land. It annoyed her to realize that while she was somehow able to deflate enough to shrink back down to her previous size, she could not in fact, go all the way back to her normal, svelte form for one reason or another. Had she memorized the spell correctly? Regina had often lectured her that magic was incredibly precise, and that the slightest deviation from the original spell would cause any sort of counter spell or dispersal magic to fail. As frustrating as the idea was, it only served to reinforce the need to find the book she'd gotten the spell from in the first place.
A cursory glance at her surroundings revealed many books stacked on the table top, some open, many with pieces of loose papers stuck haphazardly out at odd angles, with a number of empty beakers and jars scattered here and there. It was, in short, something of a mess.
"First things first" Saffron sighed as she looked around. Before she could get started, she'd have to try and tidy things up and organize the space as best she could so that she could work in it.
It was easier said than done. Her small size and incredible roundness made interacting with the various objects on the table clumsy and awkward, particularly when it came to the various beakers and flasks. The books were no simple task either, as many were large and heavy, and being stacked on top of each other meant she'd need to move the top ones off if she wanted a look at any of the ones underneath. It was definitely slow, cumbersome work and took far longer than she would have liked. Worst yet, she'd managed to move and organize most of the books, and yet not one of them appeared to be the one she needed! Where had Regina put it? Was it on one of the shelves? Had Regina bothered to put it away at all? A sinking sensation overtook Saffron as she began to consider that Regina may have very well just left the book where Saffron had left it before, making her entire effort up until now a waste.
"Dammit!" Saffron shouted and kicked the spine of a particularly large book next to her. All this accomplished was a sharp pain suddenly shooting through her foot. Saffron reached down instinctively to try and grab it, but forgetting her rounded state instead found herself falling onto her back and rolling back and forth in pain as she nursed her toes. She shot the book a venomous glare, in the foolish hopes it might prompt an apology of some sort.
What she saw made her forget the pain in her foot almost instantly. Written along the spine of the book read the title "A Compendium of Magical Potions, Elixers, and Antidotes." Saffron's eyes lit up and she hopped to her feet. While it wasn't the spell book she'd been searching for, Saffron was certain there had to be something in it that could help her. Maybe there was an antidote for shrinking spells, or one that would deflate her back to her normal shape! She'd even settle for a potion that was designed to make whoever drank it grow several times their own size. At this point it'd simply mean she'd grow back to a reasonable height! With a bit of effort, she pushed the book open and began to feverishly flip through its pages.
To say the book was large would have been an understatement. She wasn't sure if it was just because she was still only a few inches high, but Saffron could swear a book of this magnitude would have crushed a lesser table. Finding what she needed was going to take forever! She considered flipping the book to its back to see if she could find an index, but the number of pages that would require flipping over at once would have been too great for her at this size. She'd have to take it in smaller chunks in that case. She reached down into the book, grabbing what seemed to be a large chunk of pages in her hands, and flipped them over. She reached down again when something on the open page caught her eye. She clambered up onto the book to better read it. After a moment she jumped down, running to the other side of the book and turned back to the previous page, reading the words scrawled near the top. A smile began to spread across her face.
"This is PERFECT!" She beamed. Without a moment's hesitation she set to work, clearing out the rest of the space she needed and then organizing things in a way she'd be able to work with. First, she'd need a way to elevate herself high enough to actually reach the top of the flask she'd be mixing ingredients in. She pushed and shoved at a stack of books, sliding each book slightly off center of the one below it to create a makeshift staircase and platform for her to climb up and down on. Perfect! Now she'd just need all the ingredients...
Minutes turned into hours as Saffron worked to mix her potion together. She'd been very fortunate that the majority of the ingredients she needed had been sitting on the table already, although there had been one or two she needed to travel onto the shelves above the table in order to obtain. And getting those had been no easy task! Even inflating herself to float up to the shelves hadn't made the job easier, as it made digging around and finding the bottles and jars she needed all the more difficult, and she was certain she'd managed to knock over and possibly spill some of the other ingredients up there. Regina certainly wouldn't be happy about that, although if this worked Saffron was hopeful that wouldn't be a problem in the end. After what seemed to be an eternity, Saffron was finally nearing the final stages of mixing the potion. All she needed now was to add one final ingredient.
"Hmmmmph... stupid... jar..." Saffron grunted an groaned as she attempted to push the jar of Goldfish Eyes into place. Whether she was inside of them or outside, it appeared that jars simply were not her friend today. Not that much else was. At this point however it didn't matter. The Goldfish eyes were the final ingredient in the potion, and once she added them in she'd finally be able to put an end to this hell. Climbing up the books, Saffron was able to pull the stopper off the top of the jar and reach in to pull a pair of tiny, black, jelly like globules out of it. Funny, to think just a year ago she'd have been too squeamish to handle these at her normal size, and yet here she was pulling them out when they were each about the size of her palm as if it were nothing. She laughed a bit at the thought, and tossed the two of them into the potion. The liquid within the flask flashed pink slightly and shot a cloud of smoke into the air as the goldfish eyes sank into the depths of the compound and dissolved, turning the liquid a bright, bold purple.
"Finally!" Saffrom exclaimed. "I'm finished!"
"You're certainly correct about that!"
Saffron's body froze and her blood turned cold. She slowly turned to see who had suddenly spoken up, though in reality she needn't have bothered. She knew exactly who it was.
"M... Miss Regina! When did you get home?"