Raven’s Story

Everybody Loves Me:

Chapter 1:

August 20th, 2013

For some reason, Sophie thought it would be a good idea to wake me before noon today. I thought she learned her lesson. The last time she tried to wake me up before noon, I threw a shoe at her. Of course, even that didn’t deter her. Sophie’s like a bulldozer with purple pigtails.

I have an outfit ready in my wardrobe, but I think I’ll to throw something together at the last moment anyway. I begin dressing behind my screen while Sophie begins talking to me.

“Did you hear about Amber?”

“The redhead or the blonde?” I reply as I decide whether or not to wear matching socks today.

“Neither. It’s the brunette. Don’t you remember? You talked to her yesterday!”

“Oh, that Amber. No, what’s up with her?” I decide to wear no socks, but some thick stockings instead.

“Well, she’s having some winter-themed party today, around noon. She asked me to tell you you were invited, but then didn’t invite me!”

“Did you tell her I politely declined?”

“No, I’m not your personal secretary. I did, however, tell her in a less than nice way that you weren’t coming.”

“That’s my girl.”

Adobe_Brown_Woodblock_Divider_LargeThe screen

I step out of the screen, wearing my brand new mismatched outfit.

RavenAug21

“You’re going to wear that?” Sophie says with audible disgust.

“Yes, yes I am. Do you have a problem with what I wear? If you do, I could suggest my complaint box. A fair warning, it is more of a kindle box. Unless you are going to redesign my wardrobe, I suggest we get going.” I gesture to my complaint box and fireplace in turn. My replies always have to be snarky, intelligent, and just long enough to confuse Sophie. It seems this reply has worked, as she simply sighs and pulls my hair back into a long ponytail for me.

“Sometimes I wonder if you do these things just to annoy me.” Sophie mutters once we are flying.

“Not just, I happen to like this purse and these earrings. I decided to wear this crown yesterday, and it matches my shoes, almost, and you told me to wear something pink to match your outfit. So what if my outfit matches nothing else and is what other people would call an eyesore? I like it.”

“Okay, okay! I’m just kidding. Geez, you’d think you were going to marry it.” Sophie laughs loudly.

“I think that would be pretty hard. I mean, what would I wear to the wedding? It’d be cheating to wear anything else, but I couldn’t exactly give my vows to something I’m already wearing!”

After flying around for a bit and daydreaming of wedding dresses, we finally land in Havendish Square for a quick breakfast at The Tearoom.

“What’s all the commotion about? It’s making it hard to hear!” I yell over a noisy crowd that’s gathered around the docks and Pixie Posting stand.

“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out,” Sophie shouts back to me.

Before Sophie can find out what’s going on, a distraught Sarah runs our way. I worry my lip as Sophie begins interrogating her.

“What’s happening? Is summer ending early? Is the mainland in trouble?” Sophie asks eagerly.

“N-no,” Sarah begins “It’s something even worse. Something bad has happened. S-something…well, see for yourself!”

Chapter 2:

August 20, 2013

Our breakfast plans seem to be forgotten as Sophie and I race each other to the Pixie Postings stand. Well, racing is an overstatement. Sophie is trying to politely get around people, while I’m practically running them over.

Because I’m acting like a pixie bulldozer, I end up getting to the Pixie Postings first. I glance around the cluttered board of postings, both new and old, but can’t seem to find one that would put the usual annoyingly bouncy Sarah into a state of shock.

Until I see the badge.

phf

And the banner.

And the crowds of people who have already realized the same thing I have.

Pixie Hollow is closing.

Chapter 3:

August 20, 2013

“What’s the matter?” Sophie pokes me with the tip of her sandal again.

“The place we have lived for our whole fairy lives is closing, leaving us to perish or escape, and you ask me what’s the matter!?”

“Okay, okay. I know what’s the matter. But you don’t have to be such a downer about it. I’m sure we’ll be safe, we just won’t be able to leave.”

“Being trapped isn’t safe! Besides, the hollow is closing. C-L-O-S-I-N-G. D’you think that’s safe? When you close a box, you trap everything inside in dark, most definitely not safe!”

“Yes, but when you close a door, you leave a room locked and secure, and with extra warmth!”

It is now obvious that Sophie and I have extremely different definitions of the word. The world, for that matter. I decide to just leave this argument for now.

I take the hand Sophie has been holding out to me for the last five minutes and lift myself off the mossy log I’ve been sitting on.

Brushing myself off, I try to change the subject.

“Havendish Stream sure is pretty at sunset.”

“Yeah, it is. Do you know what’s even prettier?”

“No, what?”

“Well, it’s rumored that Mermaid Lagoon is the prettiest thing that you could ever see, so Sarah and I have planned a trip out there. Tomorrow. You can come too, if you want. We just figured that this is the last chance we have to visit places outside of the hollow. You can come too, but only if you want to, I guess.”

“What time do we leave?”

Chapter 4:

August 21, 2013

I am never agreeing to go on a trip with Sophie or Sarah again.

Sarah has been whistling for the past bajillion miles, and Sophie is practically hopping with excitement.

Sophie’s planned out everything we’re going to do once we get to Mermaid Lagoon, almost to the point of creepiness.

At least I have the bag of food. For some reason, Sophie seems to think that I am above sneaking myself extra snacks. Wrong!

Raven HikingSarah - HikingHiking Sophie

We’re traveling with another group. They’ve got two fairies and a sparrow man in their group. I’ve been talking to the sparrow man. His name is Onyx, which is ironic, because his hair is super white.

A better name would be Snow White, or maybe Polar Bear. Anyway, he’s been discussing the Never Council, I think. I’ve been too busy thinking up new names for him to listen. Oops.

“Mermaid Lagoon is just over this hill!” Sarah shouts.

“Yay!” Everyone seems to be given a burst of energy, and so most are running down the hill.

I, however, have never been one to do things the normal way, so I’m rolling down the hill in style.

When I get to the bottom of the hill, I brush the grass off my skirt and begin looking around for a beautiful lagoon full of mermaids. All I see is a bare tree with a weather beaten sign nailed to it.

Mermaid Lagoon Sign Finished

“Well, this is a let down.” I purse my lips and put my hands on my hips, looking a lot like Sophie.

“Didn’t you read the guide book I got for you two?” Sophie asks as she runs up behind me.

Both Sarah and I shake our heads in shame.

“I can’t believe I have to travel with you two… bellbottoms!!”

Sarah looks dejected, but I accidentally let out a snort at Sophie’s poor choice in insults.

Well, all you have to is touch the gemstone on the sign, and you will end up in Mermaid Lagoon. Now, because you didn’t read the guide, we have to wait for the other group.”

While the other group lines up in front of the sign, I pester Sophie with questions.

“How do we get back? Does it hurt? What if we end up in the wrong place? Can we get half of us sent someplace, and the other half sent somewhere else? What would happen i-” My nervous questions are cut off by a very annoyed Sarah.

“Why don’t you just sh-” Sarah is now interrupted by Sophie.

“Oh, look, the line’s gone!” Sophie shouts excitedly, pulling Sarah’s attention away from me.

Chapter 5:

August 21, 2013

Sure enough, the group of three that was ahead of us is now gone.

“Okay, who wants to go first? I’ll go last to make sure we all get through.”

Sarah and I have a silent staring contest. Sophie is blissfully ignorant, looking between the two of us with a large smile.

“Fine. I’ll go first.” I say, rolling my eyes and sighing.

I reluctantly walk over to the sign, giving it a glare that could kill. Unfortunately, signs can’t die. Bummer.

“So, I just touch this shiny rock?” I ask.

Gemstone. And yes.” Sophie replies.

Tentatively, I reach my arm out and poke the purple gemstone with one finger. And suddenly, I’m being stretched along, like a ray of light. The air has been knocked out of my chest momentarily, but I’m more concerned with the fact that I can’t see anything.

“Ooof!” I roll around for a bit after hitting the ground until I grab onto what I think is a thin tree branch.

 I open my eyes, and realize that I’m holding tightly to the leg of a very confused fairy.

“Oh, sorry. Didn’t see you there.”

“No problem. First time traveling to Mermaid Lagoon?”

“Yeah. My friend should be coming soon,” I say, brushing grass and dirt off my skirt for the second time today. “I’m sorry about using you as an anchor.”

“It’s no big deal. Happens more than you’d think. Anyway, I’ll probably be you and your friend’s guide.”

I take a closer look at the tour guide who will be guiding us around the lagoon. I just thought she was a random visitor.

It certainly doesn’t look like a tour guide uniform.

In fact, I think she altered the clothes she’s wearing herself, because the Never Council usually regulates what clothing fairies and sparrow men can and cannot wear.

CoolerMermaidLagoonGuide

She’s wearing a sky blue shirt and skirt, but her skirt seems to be missing a layer. She’s wearing bright purple and pink earrings, and is holding a magic wand that lights up every so often.

I approve.

Chapter 6:

August 21, 2013

Shiny.

That is one word to describe Mermaid Lagoon. Beautiful, entrancing, and stunning are three more, but shiny describes it best.

Our guide, whose name I’ve discovered is Heather, looks stunned by it’s beauty too, even though she probably has to see this everyday.

Sophie and Sarah arrived just a few minutes ago, and I’m secretly glad that their landings were even less graceful than mine.

Anyway, now Sophie is chatting with a mermaid, while Sarah is examining the silver gem-filled rocks that surround the clear lake. I was exploring the lagoon just a while ago, but a mermaid sprayed me. Meanie.

I was just minding my own business, wading through the shallow part of the lagoon, and she decides I want to take an unexpected dip. Now I have to stay on the shore until my wings dry. Thank goodness Sophie brought towels, or I’d have to wait hours before my wings would dry on their own. My wings are almost dry, so I’m just sitting on a rock, watching Sophie.

SwimsuitSilverRock

I don’t see why mermaids aren’t splashing Sophie. They seem to think she’s some sort of exotic pet, with her purple hair and bright blue swim suit. I’m all alone. All alone, I’m all aloooooooone!!

“Is this seat taken?”

“Ahh!”

Chapter 7:

August 21, 2013

Apparently, I’m not as alone as I thought I was. Standing next to me is a tall, brown-haired sparrow man.

“Uh, sure. Whatever.”

The sparrow man sits on the edge of the rock, right next to me.

“My name’s Spike.”

“I’m Raven.”

“I know.”

“Okay….” I say, confused and slightly creeped out.

“I hope I’ll see you soon.”

And with that, Spike walks away.

Well, that was creepy. Anyway, at least my wings are dry now.

I flit back to the shallow wading pool to meet up with Sophie and Sarah again.

Chapter 8:

August 22, 2013

 The next day, I wake up bright and early. Haha, just kidding. I finally pull myself out of bed at about 10, and jump into my outfit. I’ve got a busy day ahead of me, and I can’t have any interruptions.

Raven Meets Spike

I’m just pulling my hair into a bow and walking through my kitchen when I accidentally knock over a powder blue bag. I guess I should stop trying to do hair and walk at the same time.

“Oh, darn it. Wait, what’s this?”

When I kicked over the bag, I knocked out some mushy carrot sticks and a folded up piece of paper.

Kneeling down, I unfold the paper and begin to read aloud:

Dear Raven, you barely know me, but I know you. I have watched you for a long time, and admire your bravery, something you will be needing very soon. However, I did not spend all this time tracking you down to compliment you. Pixie Hollow and all of the fairies and sparrow men who live in it are in grave danger. Unfortunately, most fairies and sparrow men believe that Pixie Hollow will close and they will continue on their merry way. I have assembled a small group of people who believe the Hollow is in danger and will do anything to save it. If you would like to be included, fly to the tallest pine tree in the Winter Woods tomorrow. If you are not interested, burn this letter and do not go to the Never Council!

The letter isn’t signed. Should I go to the Never Council, or go to the meeting? Well, I suppose there’s only one thing I can do!

Chapter 9:

August 22, 2013

I reread the letter a couple times, then replay it in my mind after I toss it into my fireplace, where it smokes and smolders, before finally turning into ash.

I walk over to my door and pull on my thick, grey coat, and a pair of matching boots.

You see, unlike Sophie, I have never been one to think long about making HUMUNGOUS decision.

I always know what I’m going to do, so there’s no use trying to do the right thing, because I’m just going to end up doing the thing I want to anyway!

Due to my mental rant, I’ve lost track of time, and have missed the tallest tree. This is why I hate flying around in the Winter Woods. It gets dark so early!

I decide to land and walk the short way to the tall tree. I’ve actually been to this tree before. It’s one of Sarah’s favorite hiding spots for Fairy Tag.

“Is that you?” A quiet but firm voice calls out from the lowest branch of the snow covered tree.

“Depends. Who is you?” I answer, cryptically.

A loud sigh comes from the tree. I grin, glad to have made someone pay for dragging me out here.

“Come on up, Raven.”

I fly up to the branch, shaking the white powder off of my boots as I go.

What? This is the group of pixies the letter was talking about?”

Chapter 10:

August 22, 2013

Standing in front of me on this narrow branch in the middle of the forest, is Spike. Spike, the weird fairy from the lagoon.

“Um, where’s the rest of the group?” I ask after realizing that I’ve been staring, open-mouthed, for way too long.

“This is it.” He replies, sounding more than a little irritated.

“What do you mean, this is it? Just you?”

“I told you this was a small group!”

“That’s a bit of a stretch, but fine. What are we going to do about Pixie Hollow, since this is why our group is meeting?” I put air quotes around the word group, just to watch his ears turn red in annoyance.

We are not going to do anything about it.” Spike replies, putting air quotes around do.

“Huh?”

We are going to run away!”

Chapter 11:

August 22, 2013

“Eh?” I reply, quite intelligently.

“Yes. We are going to run away, unless you’d rather stay here?”

NO!” I shout, angry. How could he tell me about a plan to leave the Hollow, then leave me here? That’s just plain rude.

“Fine. If you want to get out of Pixie Hollow, you will have to listen to everything I say.”

Spike pulls a leaf map out of his knapsack.

“So, this is what we’re going to do…”

Chapter 12:

August 23, 2013

I wake up to the sound of soft snores.

I smack my lips a couple times before I finally open my eyes. A sea of veiny green floats before my eyes.

“Aahh!” I frantically roll around, trying to free myself from the green monster who is obviously trying to eat me.

“AAAAaaaAhh??” The snores are interrupted by a strange wail-question.

I finally manage to defeat the monster, throwing it off me, only to see a very confused Spike with disheveled hair wrapped up in the leaf maps we were studying late into the night.

“Oh, it’s only you.” I say, relieved.

“Thanks.” Spike says sarcastically.

 “What time is it? Did we read those things all night?”

“I think so. Wait, where are you going? Bring back breakfast!!!!!” Spike yells after me.

Sophie is going to kill me if I miss our Friday brunch!!!!

Chapter 13:

August 23, 2013

As I sit at Sophie’s kitchen table, I fiddle nervously with her lilac tablecloth.

What if Sophie can tell something’s wrong? Should I tell her about Spike? What we’re planning?

“Raven, are you feeling okay? You’re looking a little pale.” Sophie says, looking at me concernedly.

“What? Oh, I’m fine. Just a little hungry.” I reply, trying to sound convincing.

“Well, you’re in luck! I made this wonderful meal from a recipe from Lavender, and she got it from…”

I slowly tune out Sophie, nodding at the right intervals and stuffing my face with scrambled hummingbird eggs and pumpkin pancakes.

When Sophie begins chattering about the goldfish she’s been taking care of, I have to interrupt.

“What if we could leave? The Hollow, that is?” I blurt out.

Sophie looks at me curiously, and then cautiously replies:

“Well, I did enjoy visiting Mermaid Lagoon. I wouldn’t mind visiting there again, or possibly the Frosted Forest?”

I sigh.

“Well, what if you were worried about something, and someone said you could escape from it all, but you would have to leave everything behind. What would you do?”

Sophie studies me carefully, chewing thoughtfully.

“I think I would do what I felt was right… Raven, are you feeling OK?”

I roll my eyes.

“Yes, I’m feeling alright. But what if you didn’t know what the right thing was?!”

“Well, then I guess I’d be in trouble. Lucky thing I’m not!” Sophie says, all seriousness lost as she goes back to talking about Bubbles, her new goldfish.

 I push my eggs around with my fork. I guess I am in trouble. But what should I do?

Chapter 14: 

August 23, 2013

After Sophie and I wrap up brunch, I fly home.

Shoulders sagging, I unlock my door and step inside.

“Took you long enough!” Spike says, sitting on my couch, looking very comfortable.

“Ah!” I shout, nearly dropping my fuchsia jacket on the floor.

What are you doing here? I thought I left you in the Winter Woods!”

“You did,” Spike says, glaring pointedly, “I flew to your home and waited for you. You took forever.”

“Oh, stop whining. I was visiting my friend.” I say, taking off my shoes and sitting on the edge of the couch.

Spike immediately perks up.

“Is she interested in coming with us?”

“Not at all.”

“Pooh.” Spike deflates, slouching against the couch once more.

“I know.” I reply.

“So, what’s our plan?” Spike asks, turning to face me on the couch.

“I thought you were the sparrow man with a plan?”

Spike rolls his eyes.

“I am. I thought you might like to have some input on what we do.”

“Well, I don’t know. Tell me what you thought we were going to do, and then I’ll give you my ideas.”

Spike nods thoughtfully, and then begins to explain his plan…

Chapter 15:

August 23, 2013

“Like I said before, I think we should run away. I have intelligence from certain sources that says the Never Council has already fled.”

I gasp softly. The Never Council has already abandoned us?

“I believe the Never Council knew of a place outside the Hollow where they could be safe. If we find that place, we might be able to stay there.”

Spike roots around in his bag for a moment before pulling out a rolled-up map.

“I think the safe house is somewhere around here.” Spike says, jabbing his finger at an X on the map.

“If we leave from Summer Glade, we could skirt around Mermaid Lagoon and make it there in a couple weeks.”

I nod my head.

“However, one of the problems we’ll face is how to gather supplies for a multiple-week trip without attracting attention. We’ll need food, water, pixie dust, and hiking clothes.”

“I’ll be able to get food from a friend.” I say, thinking of my friend Ollie, a cooking-talent who has often supplied my many parties.

“I have plenty of hiking clothes, but not for fairies.” Spike volunteers.

“The most difficult thing to get is probably going to be extra pixie dust,” I say. “I don’t have any pixie dust-talent friends.”

“We’ll have to–” Spike is cut off by a loud knock on my door.

I stand up to check who’s at the door. Everyfairy I like knows to barge right in, so it must be a door-to-door-sales-talent.

“I don’t want any–Sophie?!” I say, very surprised to find my best friend rushing inside underneath my arm.

“I noticed you weren’t yourself this morning, so I decided to bring you some Cheer-up Cherry Cake!” Sophie yells over her shoulder as she runs toward my living room.

“Wait!” I yell as I catch up to Sophie.

Lying on my couch is Spike, with a very deer-in-the-headlights look on his face as Sophie stares at him with her mouth open.

Chapter 16:

August 23, 2013

“Who’re you?” Spike blurts out rudely.

“I’m…Sophie. Who are you?” Sophie says, her eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

“I’m–” Spike begins.

“He’s–” I try to explain.

I stop talking and look at Spike.

Spike looks at me.

Sophie looks at us.

In the distance, a bird caws.

Chapter 17:

August 23, 2013

The noise seems to startle us out of our silence.

Sophie is the first to speak.

“It’s okay! You don’t have to pretend you’re not dating!” Sophie says perkily, smiling sweetly. Too sweetly.

“That’s not…” I begin.

“Don’t worry! I’ll leave you guys the cherry cake!” Sophie says, skipping out the door.

I turn and glare at Spike.

“What?! It’s not my fault your friend thinks you need to get a boyfriend!” Spike says, holding up his hands defensively.

“It’s not that! Well, it actually is that, but now I’m going to have to drag you around, meeting all my friends!” I say, imagining all the things we’ll have to do to keep Sophie happy.

“Oh,” Spike says, looking thoughtful. “That might interfere with our previous plans.”

“Ya think?”

Chapter 18:

August 25, 2013

I pull my firebug lantern closer to my map, trying to illuminate as much of it as I can.

While Spike is out grabbing supplies for our next big task, I’m mapping out a path for us to take.

Or at least, I’m supposed to be.

I’m having trouble predicting what we’ll face.

Will there be rivers or streams? Large areas with no plants?

Because I don’t know what we’ll be up against, I don’t know exactly what to pack. Swimsuits? Camouflage? Who knows!

Giving up, I rub my eyes and lean back in my chair.

I hope Spike doesn’t have too much trouble getting what I asked him. It’s critical that he gets an extra small pixie dust talent’s uniform. If he doesn’t, my whole plan for sneaking into the Pixie Dust Mill is out the window!

Chapter 19:

August 25, 2013

When I hear the door slam shut, I quickly shove the maps I’ve been examining underneath my chair.

After Sophie’s unexpected drop-in, Spike and I have been extra careful not to do anything suspicious, which includes making maps of Neverland in plain sight.

“It’s just me, Raven. I got what you wanted, by the way.” Spike says, shuffling into the room tiredly.

Spike tosses a bag of clothing at me, which hits me in the chest.

“Gee, thanks. You’re too kind.” I say sarcastically, rifling through the bag and pulling out the outfit inside.

Holding it up against myself, I smile evilly.

“This is perfect!”

Chapter 20:

August 26, 2013

As I change behind my screen early the next morning, I talk to Spike.

“So, how hard was it to get this?” I ask, pulling the baggy, dusty shirt over my head.

“Too hard. You owe me big time, Raven.” Spike replies.

“Oh, stop whining. You’re not the one that’s gonna be sneaking around.” I snap, pulling on my acorn cap slippers.

Stepping out from behind my changing screen, I put my hands on my hips and face Spike.

“So? How do I look?”

RavenPixieDustMill

“Dusty,” Spike grunts.

“Perfect!”

Chapter 21:

August 26, 2013

I tuck my ponytail into my acorn cap as I rush out the door.

Turning back to wave, I see Spike watching me leave from the window.

Hurrying towards Havendish Square, I join the stream of pixie dust-talents rushing around on their morning routes.

I manage to slip in behind a blonde sparrow man.

Keeping my head down, I manage to make it all the way to Havendish Stream without being stopped or recognized.

Sighing in relief, I make my way towards the back of the Pixie Dust Mill.

Suddenly, I feel a heavy hand on my shoulder.

Turning around, I come face-to-belly with a bulky dust-talent.

“What’re ye doing ov’r there? The entrance is ov’r ‘ere!” He says, a Scottish accent thickening his words.

“Oh. Uh, thanks.” I say, trying to hurriedly flit over to the entrance.

The sparrow man continues to trail along beside me, talking.

“‘S it yer first day on the job?”

“Yeah, yeah.” I reply, hoping he doesn’t ask any more questions.

“Oh! Well, I’ll lead ye on a tour, then. After all, yer first day shouldn’t be boring!”

My face lights up.

“That sounds wonderful!”

Chapter 22:

August 26, 2013

“Wow,” I say, craning my neck to get a full view of the Pixie Dust Mill. “It’s much bigger on the inside.”

“Well, yeh. It’s enchanted, didn’t ye know?” The sparrow man, who I now know is Fairy Barry, narrows his eyes at me a bit.

“Of course I did. I just didn’t expect it to be this big.” I say confidently.

“I sr’pose that’s fair.” Fairy Barry replies, all suspicion gone from his voice.

“Well, let’s start the tour then, huh?” I say, hoping to get close to pixie dust soon.

“Oh, yer. Let’s start with the belt then, yeh?”

I smile.

“Let’s.”

Chapter 23:

August 26, 2013

Panting, I wipe the sweat off my forehead and pull my ponytail out from underneath my cap.

I finally managed to get away from Fairy Barry.

When he said tour, he meant tour.

When he wasn’t showing me the conveyor belt, he was introducing me to the runner caterpillars, Margot and Diamant, or regaling me with the history of pixie dust serving sizes.

I’ve only got away because his supervisor, Fairy Gary, needed his help fishing something out of the Pixie Dust Reservoir (the place pixie dust is filtered before going to the Home Tree).

Now, I’m working at the pixie dust measuring station. I’m measuring out a day’s worth of pixie dust for every fairy and sparrow man, and placing it on a cart that goes to the front desk, where it’s picked up.

Thankfully, this job means it’s easy to slip extra pixie dust into my bag.

Every third cup, I look around, make sure nofairy’s come up behind me, and dump a scoop into my messenger bag.

Since I’ve been at this for a while, my bag is getting pretty heavy.

Dipping my scoop into a barrel almost overflowing with pixie dust, I try to subtly move my bag to my other shoulder.

Unfortunately, my bag gets caught on my elbow. Falling to the floor, it showers me, and everything near it, with pixie dust.

Coughing, I try to brush my eyes free of the dust that seems to cling to everything.

Pushing my cap farther up my forehead, I lean down and begin hurriedly refilling the sack.

This should be enough for our trip, I think to myself. How much more pixie dust do we need? Besides, the sun’s set, and the night-shift dust-talents will be taking over soon.

Suddenly, a loud gasp interrupts my thoughts.

Looking up slowly, my cap sliding forwards, I see a small fairy staring at me in shock.

I realize how bad it must look. I’m stealing pixie dust, for Neverland’s sake!

For a few quiet seconds, we just stare at each other.

Me, sitting on the floor, my hands covered with the pixie dust I’m trying to shove into my bag.

Her, standing a few feet away at the top of a stairwell, her eyes comically large.

She snaps out of the spell first.

“D-dust thief!” She turns and runs down the stairs, presumably to get help.

With reckless abandon, I begin shoving pixie dust wherever it’ll stay. My bag, my pockets, my cap. I even pour some into my shoes!

Finally, as a last ditch attempt, I dunk my head into the barrel of pixie dust.

Stumbling away, dust in my eyes, I pry open a window and fly away.

I can hear sirens and alarms sounding behind me, but I am gone in the night.

Chapter 24:

August 26, 2013

Okay, okay.

Maybe gone in the night is an exaggeration.

I’m currently trying to find my way home, sweaty and panting, while, at the same time, avoiding the squads of scout-talents that are undoubtedly hunting for me.

Pushing back my acorn cap once again, I crouch behind Tinker’s Nook, the building I’m using for cover.

I just saw a group of scout-talents heading towards Summer Glade, so I should be good for a little while, at least until they sweep Autumn Forest.

Dusting myself off, I slink towards the bridge that connects Maple Tree Hill to Cottonpuff field.

About halfway there, a beam of light covers me.

“Stop!”

Chapter 25:

August 26, 2013

Freezing, I turn around slowly, the light blinding me.

The source of light speaks again, their voice hard.

“This is a Never Scout. Remove your head cover.”

Jingles. If my red hair won’t be a dead giveaway, the river of dust underneath my cap probably will be, so I stand stock still, glaring at where I assume the scout’s face is.

Apparently seeing my denial as a personal affront, she began shouting at me.

“My name is Cranberry Nightglade, and I order you to remove your head covering!

The scout takes a moment to shift her lantern, and I take my chance.

Leaping forward, I swing my arms and knock the fragile glass out of her hand.

Now, completely covered in darkness, I begin my assault. Unfortunately, Cranberry what’s-her-face is a lot stronger than she looks, er, sounds.

I take an elbow to the face, and am pinned to the ground within seconds. Of course, I’ve never been one to give in easily, so I begin kicking wildly.

“Oof!”

Direct hit.

Chapter 26:

August 26, 2013

With Cranberry weakened, I manage to throw her off of me.

Adjusting my bag, I run across the bridge.

I need to get to my house, and quick. Cranberry has undoubtedly summoned a whole mess of Never Scouts, who will be hunting for me. Or, what they know of me. Since my hair was covered, all Cranberry saw was a tall, tan fairy. I doubt she identified my wing type, but it’s possible.

Skirting along the edge of Maple Tree Hill, I leave a false trail that leads to the Winter Woods, then circle around to Acorn Summit.

I run up a bowed branch to my front door and slam it open.

I toss my bag towards Spike and flop down on the couch, exhausted.

“What happened? This place is crawling with Never Scouts!” Spike hisses, catching my bag.

I pull off my shoes before I answer.

“There was an….incident. Some pixie caught me in the act.”

“What?!” Spike turns an unattractive shade of purple.

“Relax. I got the pixie dust.” I say, pulling off my hat and shaking my hair.

Shaking off my entire outfit, I leave a generous pile of pixie dust on the floor.

“Go ahead and jar that.” I say, walking upstairs.

“Where are you going?”

“To bed. I think I’ve earned it.”

Chapter 27:

August 27, 2013

I wake up to find Spike curled up in a pile of my clothes at the end of my bed.

Shrieking, I fall out of bed.

Spike wakes up with a jolt as I find myself almost face-level with him.

“I thought I left you downstairs,” I hiss.

“You did.” Spike says, smacking his lips unconcernedly.

Standing up, he walks into my bathroom. I follow him.

Spike searches through my cupboards, pushing aside bottles of face cream, shampoo, and nail polish.

Finally, he turns back to me.

“Don’t you have an extra toothbrush?”

“No, most of my friends actually go home.” I scoff.

“I couldn’t go home because someone,” Spike glares at me pointedly, “couldn’t steal pixie dust without getting the Elite Scouts called in.”

I pause while grabbing a toothbrush for Spike.

“They actually called in the Elite Scouts for me?” I’m shocked! The last time they were called in, it was because of a crime ring in the Pixie Post Office!

“Don’t let it get to your head. It’s going to make getting out that much harder.” Spike says around his toothbrush.

I pull a comb through my hair, while Spike tries to fix his mess with a hairbrush.

Later, as we eat breakfast together, we think of what to do next.

“Y’know, we’re going to have to lay low for a while.”

I sigh and put my empty plate in the sink.

“Yes, I do.”

“How long, do you think?” Spike asks.

I shrug. “A week? If you’re right about the Never Council, we shouldn’t have to wait too long.

Spike nods. “A week, then.”

Chapter 28:

August 28, 2013

Sighing, I roll out of bed for the second day of my exile. That’s what I’ve been calling this week, since we’re going to be stuck at home, lying low.

Technically, since I’m the one that actually performed the “Pixie Dust Heist”, Spike could go anywhere he wanted during this week, and leave me home alone. But, I guess he doesn’t have very many friends. I think I do. I can’t be sure nowadays.

Sighing, I stop brushing my hair. Who do I have left now?

I’m pretty sure Dalila’s scared of me, Rose won’t speak to me, and I don’t know how long it’s been since I last saw Ginger and Buttercup.

Spike and Sophie are pretty much the only people I’ve seen for the past week (I don’t count crazy fanfairies).

Staring myself down in the mirror, I resolve to spend more time with my friends. After all, with everything…

I shake my head and refuse to think about the very likely possibility that I won’t see them again after the closing.

So, in a (not-so-rare) moment of spontaneity, I send a Whisper Message to Sophie.

Hiya, Sophie! D’you wanna have a late breakfast at my place? Spike and I are going to cook! How’s 11 o’clock sound?

I know that Sophie won’t pass up a chance to interrogate my “new boyfriend”.

Then, as an afterthought I will most likely regret, I send a second message.

Bring Sarah along too!

Chapter 29:

August 28, 2013

“I’m not going to cook. I don’t even know how to cook!” Spike whines.

“You don’t have to be a cooking-talent to make breakfast, dummy!” I say as I search through my kitchen cabinets.

Pulling out flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and my recipe book, I set them all down on my counter.

Not turning around, I gesture towards my icebox.

“Grab the eggs, will ya?”

As I flip through my recipe book, I can hear Spike sighing dramatically, and the sounds of my egg carton rustling.

“What’re we making?” Spike asks.

“I wanna start off with pancakes and fruit, and have croissants and muffins. I think we should put out some toast and oatmeal out too, for Sarah. And Sophie’ll want tea.”

Spike nods, his face scrunched up.

“I can make pancakes, easy. If you make the croissants and the muffins, I can get the toast and the oatmeal ready.”

“Sounds like a plan, Stan!” I say, giggling to myself.

Chapter 30:

August 28, 2013

Sweating, I wipe my forehead and check the kitchen timer again.

“Are you sure it’s moving?” Spike asks, his voice directly in my ear.

“I don’t know,” I whisper back, not taking my eyes off the transparent door to my oven.

“Do you think the fire needs to be pumped up?”

“I don’t know,” I say again.

I’m sure we must look insane. Spike in an apron over that ridiculous dress shirt he put on when he found out I’d invited Sophie & Sarah over, and me in my pajamas, surrounded by plates of already finished pancakes, croissants, toast, and fruit.

Pressing my face against the oven door, I try to see how the muffins look. This is our third batch, technically. The first time around, we forgot to put raspberries in (my bad!). Second time, we put the raspberries in too early and they got burnt. Now, Spike and I are watching the oven with bated breath.

“Do you think w-“

Another of Spike’s annoying questions is interrupted by the loud ringing of my kitchen timer.

Quickly, I pull on my oven mitts and slam the door open.

First of all, that’s a bad idea. Never slam an oven door (especially not a fire-powered oven door) open.

“Watch out!” Spike shrieks, ducking for cover.

Deciding to be brave, I lean my ponytail as far away as I can and snatch the muffin tin.

Dropping it on the counter, I feel the corners of my mouth turning down into a disappointed frown.

“They’re burnt!” I declare, Spike hovering over my shoulder to get a better look.

“What’re we gonna do?” says Spike. “I wanna make a good impression, and now your friends are gonna think I can’t cook!”

“You can’t cook.” I say, rolling my eyes, but still slightly tense. What am I gonna do? I needed those muffins!

“Listen,” I say, beginning to pull the muffins out of the tin. “Sophie and Sarah are gonna be sitting at one end of the table, yeah?”

Spike nods.

“Which means we’ll be sitting at the other end!”

Spike nods slower, looking at me with narrowed eyes.

“So, we’ll put the salvageable muffins from each batch at their end of the table, and the ugly ones at our end of the table! It’s genius!” I shout, throwing my oven-mitted hands in the air.

“Oh, that actually makes a surprising amount of sense!”

“For me, at least. Anyway, d’you think you can manage to set the table without me? I’m going to get dressed.”

“I think I can manage, Raven. I’m not a baby.”

Rolling my eyes, I bite off a quick retort.

“I wasn’t so sure there for a moment.”

Chapter 31:

August 28, 2013

“So, how did you two meet?” Sophie asks as she serves herself another pancake.

Spike opens his mouth to answer, so I kick him underneath the table.

Taking the hint, Spike turns toward me and takes my hand.

“Why don’t you tell them how we met? You tell it better than I do.” Spike says, kicking me back.

“Aw, you’re too sweet,” I say, trying not to glare at him. “Spike and I met at a party a few months back, actually. He was spiking the punch, and, well, it just took off from there! “

Sarah snorts.

“Wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Raven,” She says, stirring her oatmeal unenthusiastically.

Sophie ignores her and keeps talking.

“So, you were friends and or dating for months, and you didn’t introduce me?”

I roll my eyes.

“I knew Dalila for years before you met her, hypocrite. You’re just upset because it’s my boyfrieeeend,” I say, sticking my tongue out at her.

Spike looks at me, a horrified expression on his face.

“I suppose that’s fair, but I’m still going to hold it against you,” Sophie teases.

“Oh, no you won’t. Next time she stubs her toe, you’ll be flying over here, spewing apologies!” Sarah says, laughing.

And so, our brunch continues, full of laughter and jokes (many at Spike’s expense).

Chapter 32:

August 28, 2013

 Our brunch ends up turning into a game night as the hours go on.

We split into teams and play charades. Spike and I win the first time, but Sarah insists we try for best of three. After we win again, it turns into best out of five. Sophie and Sarah win overall.

Then, after a sufficient amount of pouting and a break for snacks, we bring out The Castle (Sophie absolutely loves it).

The object of the game is to keep your player in the game long enough to get to the castle! You have to avoid the dungeon, the castle guards, ogres, and other wild and crazy things!

“Oh, come on!” Spike groans, moving his game piece to the dungeon.

“Haha, you’re out!” Sophie shouts, smiling giddily.

Spike scoots around the board next to Sarah, whose game piece is also stuck in the dungeon.

“I hate this game,” Sarah pouts. “You only ever want to play this! Why can’t we play something fun, like capture the flag?”

I roll my eyes at her as I roll the dice.

“Is capture the flag a board game?” I ask sarcastically.

“Are you a board game?”

“That doesn’t even make any sense!” Sophie cries, pulling at her purple pigtails.

You don’t make any sense!” Sarah says, sticking her tongue out.

“What time is it, even?” Spike asks, rubbing his eyes.

I glance at my pocket watch.

“Um, 7:09?”

“7:09!? Where has the day gone?” Sophie exclaims.

She grabs Sarah by the arm and hauls them both to their feet.

“We should go! We took up your whole day!” Sophie says, dragging a bewildered Sarah to my door.

“Oh, okay…” I say, barely having time to get up before Sophie is out the door.

“Goodbye!” Spike and I shout, waving from my window.

Chapter 33:

September 5, 2013

Once I can leave my house without the threat of Cranberry and her Never Scout friends capturing me or just beating the crap out of me, our preparations for the closing go into hyperdrive.

“Okay, we have pixie dust, durable clothing, and we can get food closer to the closing date. What else do we need to get?” I ask, pacing the room as I cross things off our list.

“Water! Tent! Sleeping bags!” Spike pipes up from his spot on the couch.

“Water? Can’t we find some on the way? It’ll be too much too carry!” I say, jotting down a quick note to stop by Neville’s for camping supplies.

“The water we find might not be clean!” Spike cries out, continuing to perfect his maps.

“Hm.” I stop pacing abruptly. “What if we had something that could filter it? We could take it with us, we’d just need to bring more pots and stuff!”

“That might work, actually. But do you know where we could find one?”

“I do, actually.” Snatching my purse up, I move to the door.

“Grab the tent and any other camping stuff we’ll need while I’m out,” I say, tossing my pouch at him over my shoulder. “Try to use up all the pixie diamonds.”

“Okay, but where are you going?” Spike asks, catching my pouch and walking out the door with me.

“Where would I find a water filter but with a water-talent?” I say, smiling at him before I take off in the direction of Sophie’s house.

Chapter 34:

September 5, 2013

Not bothering to knock, I shove Sophie’s door open with my foot.

I hear a clatter from her kitchen, and, a moment later, see a bright purple head of hair peek up over her counter.

“Why didn’t you ring the bell?” Sophie asks, slowly standing up.

“Let’s see…Possibly because I’m an impatient pixie with no respect for your privacy? That might be why.” I say, sitting down on Sophie’s kitchen counter.

“What do you need?” Sophie asks, pushing me right back off her counter.

Adjusting my ruffled skirt, I settle for leaning on Sophie’s counter as I talk to her.

“D’you have a water filter I could borrow?”

“A water filter?”

“Yeah, for when you’re camping and stuff.”

“You’re going to go camping? Outdoors?” Sophie asks incredulously.

“I know how camping works, Sophie. Believe it or not, I can do things involving the ‘great outdoors’.” I say, rolling my eyes.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Sophie says, her face taking on a worried and serious look. “Listen, Raven, I know you usually act before you think, but this is serious. A closing, Raven, not a dinner party or an outfit or even a friendship. I don’t know what you’re planning, I don’t want to know, but please, for my sake, don’t do it. Use the portal, come with Sarah and me. It might not be great, but we’ll be together.”

Sophie takes a deep breath and wipes her eyes.

I think about the notice that’s hanging on the Pixie Postings board, announcing the opening of the portal. The portal that would be taking us to some unknown place for to live for the rest of the foreseeable future. For a moment, I give in to selfish fantasies of us all leaving together, Spike, Sarah, Sophie and I building a new life outside the Hollow, but then I remember the small signature at the bottom:

…Kind regards,

– Rose MorningMist

Leader of the PEF

The last words Rose said to me replay in the back of my mind.

“After today, I never want to see your face again. Understand?”

Suddenly, I clear my throat, spin on my heel, and walk out the door, leaving Sophie standing silently behind me.

Chapter 35:

September 12, 2013

 “Seven days left, Spike. We need to figure out where we’re going!” I say, slapping both my hands down onto my kitchen table.

“I’m trying, alright?”

I scoff, but look at what Spike is pointing to on one of his many maps.

“We should leave from Neverfruit Grove. From there, we’ll go around the cove, and the hideout is nearly straight ahead. It’s also near Havendish Square, which would allow for us to,” Spike pauses and looks pointedly at me. “Say our goodbyes.”

I roll my eyes. Spike has apparently noticed Sophie’s absence.

“Shut up and focus on getting out of here undetected,” I snap. Ignoring Sophie’s almost constant stream of whispers is difficult enough without him starting in on me.

“What we should do now is check out the area we’ll be leaving from,” Spike continues, ignoring me. “We should probably leave the bulk of our stuff at the border of the Hollow too, just so we don’t forget anything at the last minute.”

“Okay,” I agree. “Let’s go, then!” I say, marching determinedly towards the door.

I try to focus on memorizing the flight from my house to Neverfruit Grove to keep my mind of off other things. Now is not the time to get distracted from our mission.

Mission, I repeat to myself. When did missions go from stopping Jack, to running away?

Chapter 36:

September 12, 2013

“We’ll probably want as much cover as possible when we’re bringing our supplies and leaving,” I say, keeping my head low as I navigate through the trees of Autumn Forest.

“So nobody sitting at home spots us?” Spike asks, following right behind me.

“And also to keep the prying eyes of Never Scouts off of us. I’m sure they’ll have patrols out, trying to make sure everyfairy goes through the portal.” I say, feeling my lips turn into a slight frown.

Spike keeps his eyes on my face as we fly through the border of Cottonpuff and Pumpkin Patch, and feel his gaze on the back of my neck when the tree cover narrows so much that we have to fly single file.

I very pointedly keep my eyes ahead, trying to remember landmarks on this path. A crooked branch on a tree. A small footbridge. The trunk of the tree that makes up Neverfruit Grove marks where we stop flying and continue on foot.

“If the maps are correct, the border is right about,” Spike pauses and spins where he stands. “There.”

A few feet from where Spike and I are standing, is the end of Pixie Hollow. There aren’t any lines, signs, or otherwise. It just….It looks a scene you’d see a thousand times over in your lifetime. A small tree, a bare patch of grass. It’s forgettable, but I don’t think any details of that tiny area, too small even to be called a meadow, will ever slip from my mind.

Chapter 37:

September 12, 2013

“I don’t like it here.” Spike says, pulling me out of my thoughts.

“Herr derr,” I say, making a face at him. “My name’s Spike and I’m afraid of open spaces!”

Spike nudges my side with his elbow.

“Oh, shut up. You know what I meant.” He says, grinning at me. I smile back, glad we’re getting along well again.

Turning in a circle, I scan the area for a place to stash our bags. My eyes fall upon a large Forsythia bush. Narrowing my eyes, I crouch down and brush one of it’s flowers. It’s brown and dying, unusual for any plant in the Hollow.

“D’you think this bush could hide our things?” I ask, craning my neck back towards Spike.

Spike looks up from fiddling with one of the bags on his back.

“Why don’t you try and see?” He says, tossing my green duffel bag at me.

Scoffing, I lean down again and roll my bag underneath the bush.

“Perfect, it’s entirely hidden!”

“Okay, let me put a few of these in there, then. I don’t like playing pack mule, by the way.” Spike says, rolling his eyes at me.

Once we stuff all the bags underneath the bush, I brush my hands on my knees and think.

“Should we take out our overnight bags, the ones with a day’s worth of clothing and a map?” I ask.

Spike stops wiping his forehead and stares at me, mouth agape.

“We put those in first, Raven! It would’ve been a lot easier if you’d said this before we stacked everything else on top of them!”

“Hey, not everything else! We haven’t brought the tents around yet!” I shoot back, hands on my hips.

Our voices intermingle as we argue over who should dig the small bags out. I’m winning, I swear I am, when a third voice rings out.

“Hello!”

Chapter 38:

September 12, 2013

Before she even steps into view, I can tell she’s Order. Their contamination surrounds her like an aura.

Of course, I don’t have time to explain to Spike the immense danger we are now both in, so I do the first thing I can think of that will keep his big mouth shut.

I sweep him into my arms, and kiss him.

“Mmf!” Spike says, eyes widening in obvious surprise.

“Hello!” The high voice rings out again, imbued with false cheer.

Before I can untangle myself from Spike, I feel a cold hand push against my stomach.

“The minimum distance between two pixies at any given time is three metric smidgens of pixie dust!” The unnamed Order agent says, pushing us apart.

I glance at the agent, taking her in. Her red hair has white streaks in it, and is pulled back into practical pigtails. She certainly doesn’t look threatening. She’s wearing a deep purple shirt with the words ‘Mermaid Enthusiast’ across the front and a heather gray skirt.

“And who are you?” Spike inquires once he catches his breath again.

“Hi, I’m Peppermint, a Prestige Level Eight Never Scout!” Peppermint shouts, her voice loud.

I shake my head slightly. It’d be obvious, even to somefairy who doesn’t know about the Order, that there’s something wrong with her. What normal pixie speaks with a mix of stern authority and upbeat cheer?

Peppermint stands there smiling widely at us, her hands folded behind her back in what is supposed to be a reassuring gesture, but comes out as overconfidence.

“Why are you here?” I ask after she makes no move to continue the conversation.

“Any pixie found within five feet of the border is to be immediately detained!” Peppermint says, bobbing her covered head excitedly. Her smile never falters.

Spike and I look at each other.

“Peppermint”is waaay too close to our stash for comfort. We need to lure her away from it somehow, while not getting ourselves caught.

Quick as a flash, I snatch a handful of dirt and throw it in Peppermint’s direction.

“Ruuuuuuun!!!”

Chapter 39:

September 12, 2013

Spike and I jet off in different directions. Weaving through trees and shrubs, occasionally I spot a glimpse of purple and red. I can’t see Spike. I assume he’s heading back to my house, if he knows what’s good for him.

Huh. It’s just occurred to me I don’t know where Spike lives.

While I’m distracted by Spike’s living situation (I wonder if he doesn’t have a home. That would explain why he’s always bothering me.), Peppermint has managed to catch up to me.

Of course she’s chasing me. I’m a dangerous fugitive with access to explosives. Spike’s just your ordinary, run-o-the-mill stalker.

Anyway, Peppermint has caught up with me. And now she’s tackling me in mid-air. Joy.

Peppermint and I go rolling through the air. I see flashes of green and red. We must be near Neverfruit Grove. I don’t think she’ll keep this up if we’re in a public place.

I let my limbs go limp and stop flapping my wings, so I’m being propelled by Peppermint alone. Peppermint clearly wasn’t expecting me to do this, so I slip out of her grip and begin falling towards the ground.

I let myself keep falling. If she loses sight of me, I’m sure I can get away. It’s a genius plan.

Of course, as with all my best plans, someone decides to interfere.

As the branches of Neverfruit Grove grow nearer, a sudden pain shoots through my entire body as someone grabs hold of my hair and wrenches me upwards.

Chapter 40:

September 12, 2013

I must black out at one point from the pain, because one moment, I’m being dragged like a kite, through the sky, by my ponytail, and the next I’m lying on the floor at home.

Rolling onto my stomach, I prop myself up on my knees. Cautiously, I feel the top of my head with my hands. Thankfully, my hair is still there.

As I pat my scalp thankfully, I spot Spike, standing nervously in the corner.

Standing up, I glare at him. I practically froth at the mouth.

“Uh-h. Are you alright, R-Raven?”

That sets me off.

“WHAT IN THE BELLBOTTOMS WERE YOU THINKING? DRAGGING ME AROUND BY MY PONYTAIL!! YOU COULD HAVE BALDED ME!!”

I wave my arms angrily.

Spike holds his arms up in front of him in a protective gesture.

“I thought you were going to smash into a tree branch!” He says, his voice wavering in the face of my rage.

“I had everything under control ’til you decided to drag me around like an oversized purse!” I yell, quieter this time. The last thing I need right now is my neighbors dropping in.

“I’m sorry! Please don’t kill me!” Spike says, cowering.

I roll my eyes at him.

“I’m not gonna kill you, just shave you bald.” Spike doesn’t look reassured. “My hair’s fine, though, so you’re off the hook. For now.”

I pointedly ignore Spike as he says “thank you” to the sky. I’m not that scary unless you permanently damage my hair.

Chapter 41:

September 15, 2013

“Are you sure about this? Just a few days ago you threatened to kill me if I hurt your hair.” Spike asks nervously.

I roll my eyes. Right now, I’m leaning against my kitchen table, a neon pink towel draped across my shoulders. Spike is standing in front of me, holding a pair of shears in one hand.

“Y’know what? I don’t think I should,” Spike says, trying to push the shears back into my hand. “I really like breathing and sleeping and all the things that come with being alive.”

“Really Spike? We’re going to be out in the wilderness! I’m not gonna care what my hair looks like for the rest of my life, probably. Besides, if I didn’t trust you, I never would’ve handed you the scissors in the first place. Or let you talk me into running away with you.”

“I don’t know…” Spike replies, but I can tell I’ve already won.

I bat my eyelashes at him and pout.

“But don’t you trust me?”

Spike sighs heavily.

“Alright…But if I mess it up, you won’t kill me, right?”

I grin cheekily at him.

“I swear on my ponytail.”

Spike laughs mockingly.

“Whatever. Let’s just get this over with.”

“Wait, wait! My hair has to be wet first.” I say, rushing away from him and moving towards my sink.

I turn on the faucet and let the water run for a second. Once the water is warm, I dip my whole head into the bowl, being careful not to get my nose wet. I catch an upside-down glimpse of Spike staring at me. I stick my tongue out.

After my hair is sufficiently soaked, I straighten my back and pat my hair dry with the towel around my shoulders.

“Okie dokie, how much do you want off? A few smidgens?” Spike says, fluffing my hair.

“Hmm,” I say, humming to myself as I glance in my kitchen mirror.

“What would you say if we cut all of it off?” I ask. I’ve been thinking about a change, and losing my ponytail’s the best place to start.

All of it?” Spike gasps, clutching one hand to his chest. “No way! It’s too pretty, and red…and soft. It’s not fair you get to have all this extra hair that you don’t want!”

I snicker. “I could always make it into a wig for you to wear!”

Spike rolls his eyes.

“I’m not going to cut all of it off. You’ve been spoiled by good hair.”

“Fine,” I say, “since you’re the hair expert all of a sudden. Just cut it to my shoulders, then.”

I watch Spike in the mirror as he works, his brow furrowed and his lips pursed. It’s hard to believe we met less than a month ago. I feel like I’ve known him all my life, and I find myself thinking of him as one of my best friends. I hardly know him, for flutter’s sake!

I let out a heavy breath. I’m going to have to get to know him. The trip from Neverfruit Grove to the hideout is weeks long. I just hope he isn’t a snorer.

Chapter 42:

September 18, 2013

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