I lost my balance when I tried to back up, and as a result, my butt met with the floor in a painful display of my obvious lack of grace. Mom was at my side in a split second, her bright red hair dangling down to tickle my arms.
“You okay, there?”
I frowned. Good Lord, I hope this is a dream.
“Just breathe,” Mom said gently as she stroked my hair. “Breathe.”
I took her advice and inhaled several deep breaths. As I was doing so, I glanced up at my dad. He was still on the bench, but he’d regained enough strength to give me a rueful shrug.
I squeezed my eyes shut and wrinkled my nose. No freaking way. There is NO freaking way this is possible… right?
“I’m sorry we didn’t tell you sooner,” Dad apologized quietly.
Mom sniffed disdainfully. “It was just so our families didn’t fight over you and try to get you to hate the other side,” she reassured me as she pushed my bangs back. “They’re like bratty little kids, I swear.”
She made a dramatic eye-roll and sighed. And she’s always telling me not to roll mine.
When I didn’t say anything, they both studied me with worry.
“Are you okay?” Mom asked again, lifting my head so she could see my face.
I didn’t answer. All my focus was concentrated on calming my thoughts and making sure I was breathing. It was a couple minutes before I could think about anything else but what had happened to the chair.
When I’d had sufficient time to get the freaking out over with, I lifted my head up to meet Dad’s eyes. “So…” I said weakly, “you’re… a Fairy.”
Dad sighed and smiled. “Part, but yeah.” He scratched the back of his neck and added, “I can’t do much magic, but…” he shrugged.
“And you…” I trailed off as I met Mom’s eyes, “Part Gargoyle?"
“M’hm,” she replied with a nod, then got to her feet. “One-eighth. Even says so in my name.”
My face filled with confusion and I craned my neck up at her. “Marian?” I asked skeptically.
“Surname, honey,” she corrected with a pat to my head, “Callith.”
"Huh?" I still didn’t see how that had a thing to do with Gargoyles.
She sighed and gave me a look that obviously read, And you're in advanced classes? "Lith,” she said with her eyebrows raised. “It's Greek for--"
"Oh, stone!" I exclaimed. "I knew that," I assured her.
“Sure you did,” she teased as she extended a hand. I took it and pulled myself up.
As soon as my feet were on the ground, my head started to feel dizzy and unnaturally light.
“Whoa there,” Mom said as she grabbed my arm to steady me. “Let’s just get you to the bench.”
I shuffled forward and plopped down next to Dad. He took my face in his hand and kissed my forehead. “I’m sorry,” he told me again. “But we’re only telling you all this because…” his brow furrowed, as if he couldn’t find the right words to say. “Well, because…”
Mom took over for him. “Because our families are fighting again,” she explained in a flat tone. “And it’s caused a big fuss.”
Dad nodded. “So the president wants you to… talk to them, I suppose. You’re a part of both families, so they might actually listen to you.”
“The President?” I demanded in awe as he groaned and stood. “So other people know?” I grabbed ahold of his arm and tugged on it. “Are there other Fairies? And Gargoyles? Your families? Do they still--”
My parents chuckled and Dad raised his hand. “One thing a time,” he said with a grin and took a few steps towards the stairs. “We aren’t talking about America’s president, we’re talking about Suman Walker.”
One of my eyebrows shot up and I cracked a smile. “What kind of name is Suman?”
Mom caught up with us and answered, “Title, not name. It’s the equivalent to President.”
“So he knows?”
“Of course.” She grinned. “He’s a Metamorph himself.”
I cocked my head to the side. "Shape-shifter?" My eyes widened when she nodded. "Are you serious?" I breathed in disbelief.
She smiled. "Sirius."
I smiled and rolled my eyes, reminding myself that I had one of the coolest moms in the world, one that made Harry Potter references regularly.
"One more thing," Dad added cautiously.
"Hm?" I raised my eyebrows. Nothing could possibly phase me after finding out what I had.
He scratched his beard thoughtfully. "You're going to England."
"Seriously, though," I prompted. "What?"
My parents shared a look.
My eyes slowly grew huge. "You're serious?" I asked quietly.
Mom smiled weakly and nodded.
"Why?" I demanded. "Why England? What's in England that isn't here?"
Mom gave me an 'Are you done yet?' look and sighed. "Mallia, that's what." She rubbed her nose and continued, "Mallia, or Belvedere, if you perfer, is the capital of the the magical world."
Dad butted in, "That's where Walker wants you to meet him. Lord knows you two could just talk on the phone, or write letters, or something," he grumbled, "but no, he wants you to come to him."
"And if I don't want to?" I asked defiently.
Mom closed her eyes. "You don't have a choice. You're going." She met my eyes. "You should pack. Two weeks worth, at least." I frowned. "Now," she said wearily, "I'm going upstairs and taking a nap." She turned and trudged upstairs.
Me and Dad watched her go.
"Why do we have to go?" I asked him sadly.
"We?" he asked mildly. "Your mom and I have jobs to do. We can't just take off."
"But I have school," I reminded him quickly. "That's just as important."
He shrugged. "School can be made up. Look, you're going, okay?"
I sighed angrily.
"So," he gave my arm a gentle squeeze, "are we good?"
I gave him an incredulous look. "What do you think?" I felt bad for being angry at him, he was usually so happy and nice, but still. He was saying I had to go half-way across the freaking globe to deal with problems that someone else had created. I wasn't happy.
"No," I grumbled, "we are not good." I kicked at one of the stairs and added, "I'm going downstairs."
"I'm sorry, Aubie," he said gently, then kissed the top of my head and made his way up the stairs.
Once I was locked in my room, I flopped onto my bed and stewed over the whole day. Aaron was right, I thought suddenly. But how in the Hell would he know? I allowed myself to pull up the number Aaron had messaged me with. With a deep breath to gather my courage, I started typing.
Hey, this is Aubrey. You were right. I'm sorry. I mean, there was no way I could've known you were telling the truth. So I'm really part Fairy? And Gargoyle? Whoa. How did you know about any of this, anyway? And the dream, how could you possibly know about that???
I examined what I'd written. I wasn't satisfied. After tweaking, erasing, and starting over, I finally replaced it with a single word.
Then I waited. I stared at my phone until I had double vision. I layed down, then sat back up and checked my messages. I started tidying my room up, stopping every so often to make sure I hadn't missed his reply.
I'm gonna have this whole room spotless if he doesn't text back soon, I thought impatiently.
Finally, my alarm went off. I sprinted to the bed, jumped, rolled, and sat up, phone in hand.
Can we meet at the school again? I typed quickly. I had to wait another two minutes for his response.
You gonna bail on me again?
I sighed, feeling a little bit ashamed of my reaction earlier. Nah. I'll be there in a lil bit.
This time, I didn't tell Mom or Dad. They were busy, anyhow, upstairs discussing adult stuff. I just grabbed a water bottle--I was going to be doing a lot of talking--hopped on my bike and headed to the school.
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