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Authors: Titania Woods

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BOOK: Flying High
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I'm being silly
,
thought Twink, tucking a strand of pink hair behind a pointed ear.
I bet she's really nice.
She smiled at the fairy.

‘Hi, I'm Twink,' she said.

Colouring up, the beautiful fairy hardly even looked at her. ‘I'm Bimi,' she muttered.

There was a pause. Twink slowly unpacked her things, putting the drawings of her family on top of her bedside mushroom. Finally she tried again.

‘Who's that other fairy, the one in the dandelion dress?' she whispered.

Bimi shrugged. ‘She's called Mariella,' she said shortly, and turned away without another word.

Twink sighed. It seemed very unfair that she had to be next to this unfriendly fairy instead of Sooze. Bimi probably thought she was too pretty to talk to someone as ordinary as Twink.

Sooze had been chatting to some of the other fairies, but now she bounced across to Twink and squeezed her hand. ‘Cheer up,' she whispered. ‘Even if we're not together, we're still opposites!' Twink smiled at her, feeling much better.

Suddenly a plump fairy with pale pink hair landed heavily in the doorway, puffing with exertion.

‘Hello, girls!' she huffed. ‘I'm Mrs Hover, the matron. Are we all settled in?' She cast an eye over the branch, and nodded with satisfaction. ‘Excellent! Well, come along, everyone; there's a school assembly in two wing beats.'

Twink joined the others at the doorway. A small fleet of tits was circling just outside. Each bird in turn hopped on to the ledge to let a fairy climb on, then took off again, circling in place until every red saddle was filled.

Not again! Twink gulped. When it came to her turn, she gripped her bird's back tightly with her knees. She didn't want the other girls to see how scared she was to fly on a bird. They'd think she was a total wasp brain.

Finally Mrs Hover flew out beside them and blew a whistle. ‘Right, everyone – birds to the Great Branch!'

Everywhere Twink looked, colourful lines of laughing fairies streamed through the air, heading for a large branch about midway down the tree.

‘Orderly flight patterns, please!' shouted a teacher. ‘Stay with your branch groups!'

Twink gripped the red saddle with clammy hands. Oh, she could hardly wait to learn how to
really
fly. She wouldn't be scared then!

The Great Branch was the largest branch of the school. Arching windows lined its curving wooden walls, with hundreds of glow-worm lanterns hanging from the ceiling like stars. Long rows of mossy tables marched down its length, with red and white spotted mushrooms for seats. A brightly coloured flower dangled upside down over each table.

‘Look, there's ours!' Twink pointed to a table near the front with a cheerful yellow daffodil suspended over it. She and Sooze quickly found seats side by side, giggling as they squeezed in together, wings touching. Soon the Branch was filled with buzzing, chatting fairies.

A fairy with lavender hair and pink wings came over to their table. ‘How are you getting on, Sooze?'

‘Fine! Look, I've found an opposite.' Sooze pressed her head against Twink's. ‘Twink, this is my sister Winn. She's a Fourth Year.'

Twink and Winn said hello to each other. Winn had the same friendly face as Sooze, with laughing purple eyes.

‘Well, don't get into trouble too soon, Sooze.' Winn grinned. ‘Mum told me to look after you!'

‘Attention, please!' At the front of the Great Branch, a tall fairy with rainbow wings and snowy-white hair hovered above a raised platform, clapping her hands for attention.

Winn hurried back to her own table. When the room had grown so still that you could hear a bee cough, the fairy began to speak in a low, grave voice.

‘To our old girls, welcome back to Glitterwings Academy. And to our new girls, a warm welcome. We hope you'll be very happy with us. I'm Miss Shimmery, the HeadFairy.'

Twink watched Miss Shimmery avidly. She seemed so calm and sure of herself, and her eyes had the faintest twinkle in them as she addressed the crowded Branch. Twink couldn't imagine that she had ever been a first-year fairy!

Miss Shimmery went on to tell the girls that from the next morning they would all be expected to wear their branch uniforms, with sashes the colour of their year.
Daffodil dresses
, thought Twink. That wasn't so bad. And the first year's colour was green, which would look pretty with yellow and white.

Across the table, Mariella sniffed. ‘Daffodil dresses, how common! Mum will be furious. She wanted me to be in Orchid Branch.'

I wish you were!
thought Twink.

Miss Shimmery introduced the teachers sitting at the head table. Mrs Lightwing stood up when the HeadFairy said her name, looking just as grim as before.

‘First Years, your opening lesson tomorrow will be with me. We want to get you flying as soon as possible, so the bird squad can go home.'

A red-haired fairy at the Daffodil table raised her hand. She was called Pix, and Twink thought she looked very clever and serious. ‘Does that mean we'll be sprinkled with fairy dust tomorrow?' she asked.

Mrs Lightwing nodded. ‘Yes, you'll be sprinkled tomorrow.'

An excited murmur from the First Years filled the room. Finally, after years of waiting, they'd be sprinkled with fairy dust, giving them the magic to use their wings! Twink's heart soared. She and Sooze squeezed each other's hands, bouncing on their mushrooms. Even Mariella looked impressed.

‘That's all,' said Miss Shimmery with a smile. ‘Enjoy the school year.' She touched down on to the platform and waved a slim arm in the air. ‘Butterflies commence!'

The softest of flapping noises filled the air as a river of jewel-coloured butterflies streamed into the room. Each carried a seed cake or a pitcher filled with fresh morning dew, which they dropped gently on to the tables.

‘Thank you!' gasped Twink to the red and blue butterfly that served their table. It dipped a wing at her as it flew away.

The fairies ate hungrily, talking and laughing. When it was finally time for the First Years to mount their birds again and fly back to their branches, Twink was almost too tired to be scared.

It doesn't matter if I am
,
she thought as she held on to her bird.
Tomorrow I'll be sprinkled with fairy dust and I'll learn how to fly!

.

Chapter Two

‘Wake up, sleepyheads!' called Mrs Hover.

Twink cracked an eye open, forgetting where she was at first. All around her, fairies were sitting up in bed, yawning and smoothing their wings.

Twink sat bolt upright, her violet eyes gleaming. She was at Glitterwings Academy, in Daffodil Branch. And today she was going to learn how to fly! She bounced out of bed and ran a thistle comb through her rumpled pink hair.

‘Very nice,' said Mrs Hover, coming over to her. ‘Now, let's get your uniform sorted.' She had an armful of daffodils in her hands. She held one of them up against Twink. ‘A nice white one for you, I think, with your pink hair. Like it?'

Twink nodded enthusiastically. ‘It's beautiful.'

Mrs Hover dug into a small pouch at her hip and shook a pinch of pink and gold fairy dust on to the flower. Instantly, it formed itself into a dress Twink's size.

‘Oh!' gasped Twink, and Mrs Hover laughed.

‘No time to make them by hand here, with so many fairies to clothe. So we use a bit of fairy dust magic to help us along. And why not, I say? Here you go, love, put it on.'

Mrs Hover produced a woven sash of soft green grass and a jaunty cap made from an oak leaf, and a moment later Twink felt like she had been a Glitterwings girl all her life.

Sooze, similarly clothed, spun in front of her, lavender hair flying. ‘Look at us!' she cried. ‘Aren't we something!'

Mariella made a face as she peered into the small mirror that hung on the wall. ‘Oak-leaf caps!' she groaned. ‘Don't they have any taste at all here? At home I only wore caps made of –'

‘Hey, I've got a glimmery idea!' interrupted Sooze. ‘Why don't you go
back
home, and stay there!'

‘You shouldn't talk to Mariella like that,' squeaked a thin little fairy called Lola. She had limp blonde hair and pale blue wings. Already she and Mariella seemed to have banded together, sneering at the school and all its occupants.

‘Why not?' said Sooze, taking a step forward. ‘She asks for it!'

Lola paled slightly, backing up.

‘Come on,' said Mariella. ‘No use wasting our time on
her.
' She and Lola linked arms and turned away with a sniff, fluttering their wings grandly.

‘Now, now, enough of that,' said Mrs Hover, bustling over to them. ‘Don't you girls want to see your timetables? Here you go – soon you'll be kept so busy that you won't have time to squabble!'

Twink eagerly took the rose-petal timetable Mrs Hover handed her. TWINK FLUTTERBY, it said in official silver letters, with the times of all her classes laid out below.
Flight – Skills and Techniques. Flower Power for Beginners. Introduction to Creature Kindness. Dance for Beginners. Theory of Fairy Dust.
Twink's eyes shone. It all sounded so exciting!

She nudged Sooze with her wing. ‘We've got Flower Power tomorrow! I can hardly wait – we get to heal injured flowers, and all sorts!'

‘Dance, that's what
I'm
looking forward to,' said Sooze. ‘All those magical moves!' She peered over Twink's shoulder and gave a little bounce. ‘Look, we've got all our classes together! Glimmery!'

‘All of Daffodil Branch is together,' put in Pix. ‘But look, for some classes, like Flight, it's all of the first year.'

Twink's excitement faded a bit as she glanced over at Mariella and Lola. It was bad enough living with those two, without having to take every single class with them!

Never mind, at least she was with Sooze. She rolled her timetable up carefully, and put it in her rose-petal schoolbag.

Meanwhile, Mrs Hover had gone back to the dresses. She fussed over Bimi, holding up flower after flower in front of her, cooing happily. ‘The yellow one? Ooh, that looks so striking with your lovely hair and wings . . . but then the white one with yellow trim would suit you so well, too . . .'

Bimi stood stiffly, her jaw set. Twink thought she looked even crosser than she had the night before. ‘I don't care,' she said shortly. ‘Any of them will do.'

Finally Mrs Hover chose a dress that satisfied her, and the girls gathered in the doorway to ride the birds down to breakfast. Twink bit her lip nervously as she watched the tits circle.
Just one more time,
she told herself.
Then I'll be able to fly on my own!

To take her mind off the birds, Twink decided to try again with Bimi. ‘You look really nice,' she whispered. Mrs Hover had decided on the yellow and white dress, and it did look stunning on the blue-haired girl.

Bimi shrugged and turned away, scowling. Twink sighed. That was what she got for trying to be friendly.

Sooze let out a whoop as she climbed on her bird. ‘No more birds for us after this morning!' she cried.

‘Hurrah!' said a few of the other girls.

Twink climbed gingerly into a red saddle, trying to smile like the others.
Yes, and I can hardly wait!
she thought.

After breakfast, the First Years gathered for their Flight lesson on the front lawn of Glitterwings, with the great tree rising up behind them.

‘Now then,' said Mrs Lightwing, zipping to and fro in front of the long line of fairies. ‘The thing to remember about flying is that it's all about instinct. Instinct!'

Twink looked quickly around her, frowning. No one else seemed confused. But her father had always told her not to be embarrassed about asking questions, so she raised her hand.

‘Yes?' said Mrs Lightwing, hovering in front of her.

‘What does instinct mean?' asked Twink.

Mrs Lightwing opened her mouth, but before she could answer a voice hissed, ‘Fancy not knowing that!'

Mariella! Twink felt her cheeks colour. Beside her, Sooze made a face and rolled her eyes.

Mrs Lightwing glared at Mariella and flew quickly over to her. ‘What does it mean, then?' she barked. ‘Speak loudly, so we can all hear!'

Mariella smirked, brushing silvery-green hair out of her eyes. ‘It means talent. Flying's all about having talent, and I know
I'm
going to have lots of it, because –'

‘Incorrect!' boomed Mrs Lightwing, her wings fluttering so hard that she shot up several centimetres in the air. ‘It's not about talent at all, you silly girl!'

Mariella coloured up, scowling, as the other fairies snickered.

‘Instinct is doing something without thinking about it,' Mrs Lightwing went on. ‘Fairies are meant to fly, and you'll all fly beautifully if you just relax and let your wings do the thinking for you!'

‘Why do we need flying lessons, then?' asked Sooze.

Mrs Lightwing almost smiled. ‘Because you need to learn certain skills to get the most out of your wingwork. Watch!'

With that, she shot straight up in the air. As the girls watched, open-mouthed, she did a series of loop-the-loops over their heads, turning and twisting in a sparkling blur. A few barrel rolls and back flips later, and she dived straight down at the line of girls, pulling out at the last moment to land neatly in front of them.

The First Years burst into applause. Mrs Lightwing smoothed her sky-blue hair, trying to hide her smile.

‘You get the idea,' she said sternly. ‘Now then – let's get the fairy dust out and get you girls flying!'

‘About time!' whispered Sooze. She and Twink smiled at each other and clutched hands.

Mrs Lightwing and an assistant – a serious-looking girl from one of the upper years – made their way down the long line of girls. As each fairy closed her eyes, there was a sudden sparkling of gold and pink in the air, and then squeals of delight.

‘Stay on the ground, please!' ordered Mrs Lightwing. ‘No flying just yet!'

Finally it was Twink's turn. She held her breath as Mrs Lightwing's assistant carefully measured out the fairy dust in a ladybird shell. The dust twinkled and shimmered.

‘Eyes closed,' said Mrs Lightwing, taking the shell.

Twink screwed her eyes shut, holding her breath. There was a singing sound, like tiny silvery chimes – and then the most wonderful, laughing sensation burst through her wings!

‘Oh!' she cried, her eyes flying open. ‘I can feel it!'

‘Stay on the ground,' Mrs Lightwing repeated firmly.

Once all the girls had been dusted, Mrs Lightwing flew in front of them, gazing up and down the long line of excited fairies.

‘Right!' she said. ‘We're going to learn the basics this morning, so we can get you girls flying to your classes and branches. When I give the signal, I want you to all
slowly
rise up in the air until I say stop. Ready?'

Yes!
thought Twink. Her wings trembled in anticipation.

‘Rise!' cried Mrs Lightwing.

Twink's wings beat wildly and, before she knew it, she had shot up several feet in the air. ‘Eek!' she screamed as the ground grew smaller beneath her. The world swung crazily, and she screamed again. This was worse than being on a bird!

‘Slowly!' said Mrs Lightwing, appearing beside her. ‘Deep, controlled wing strokes!'

‘I can't!' yelled Twink. Her wings had a life of their own, flapping and fluttering. She looked down again and saw the class, back on the lawn, gaping up at her. Their faces were as tiny as poppy seeds. A coldness swept over Twink. Oh, wasps! She was up in the air, with nothing but her wings to support her!

All at once her wings froze. The world went black, and Twink plummeted towards the ground.

When she came to, she was lying on the grass with Mrs Lightwing leaning over her, frowning and gently slapping her hands.

‘Great Mab, girl,' she said when she saw Twink's eyes open. ‘I've never seen a fairy do that in all my years of teaching! I had to do some fancy flying to catch you before you hit the ground, I can tell you that!'

She helped Twink stand up. Embarrassment blazed through her when she saw that the entire first-year class stood staring at her.

‘What did I say about talent?' Twink heard Mariella whisper to Lola. The two of them tittered. Twink's ears burned.

‘Come on, then, have another go,' said Mrs Lightwing.

Twink's stomach turned. ‘Now?' she gasped.

‘Of course now!' snapped the teacher. ‘Can't let you get wing fright, can we? Straight up in the air again, that's the thing! Get back in line; we'll all have another go.'

Shakily, Twink rejoined the other girls. Sooze leaned towards her and whispered, ‘You went higher than anyone! What did you get so scared for? It looked great!'

Twink remembered the icy feeling that had gripped her wings, and swallowed hard. Mrs Lightwing wasn't really going to make her do this again, was she?

But she was. ‘Rise!' she shouted, hovering with her hands on her hips.

Slowly,
thought Twink fervently.
SLOWLY!
Clenching her fists, she concentrated on moving her wings just a little bit at a time. A few seconds later, she realised that she was the only fairy still on the ground.

BOOK: Flying High
4.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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