“Vanessa? Vanessa?” I heard someone whisper. I moaned and rolled over. They lost their patience. “VANESSA, GET YOUR ASS UP!”
I sat bolt upright as if on cue. I rubbed my eyes and yawned. I turned around behind me. There was Thimble. I looked around. It was night time by now. How long had I been asleep for? How many centuries had passed? The answer turned out to be two hours. I’d only slept for two hours. I went to stand up, but I was tugged back down by the fingers on my right hand. I looked down and saw that they were completely frozen into the lake, which had frozen over to the camp site. Was that all just because of my hand?
“What are you waiting for?” asked Thimble.
“Maybe for the ice to melt, how about that?” She finally looked down.
“Here, give me the comb in your pocket.” I handed it to her. She chipped at the ice for nearly twenty minutes. I got out in the first three seconds, so what was she doing? I touched her shoulder. She kept chipping.
“Thimble, are you okay?”I asked. She turned to face me, but something was wrong. Her irises looked like they were just made of black sand.
“Help me. I need you Vanessa. Derek needs you. Your friends need you. Jack needs you. Thimble needs you. The first step; keep Thimble safe. Promise me you’ll protect my daughter.” she begged me in the same voice as the one Derek was talking to that one time.
“Who are you?”
“You really haven’t figured it out? Very well, I’m Pitch Black. This is Thimble Black. She’s my daughter. Keep her past harm. When she offers to go, don’t let her! I’ve been searching for her for hundreds of years. Now that I’ve found her, I’m being powered by love and not jealousy, or loneliness. I need her safe to stay sane. Just do it for a desperate father, please?”
“Just do it.” Then Thimble’s eyes cleared and they were green again. She stood up and stared at me. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Do you literally know everything?”
“Not literally everything, no. Just damn near close enough. Why?”
“Have you ever met your father?”
“No, why? You have a sudden interest in me. Should I be worried?”
“Not really. Just…let’s go.” I flew off. I was going to try to see how funny it would be if she chased me, but I didn’t get that. Some of the pipes on her boots actually helped her achieve lift off.
When we got back, I went inside to my room and slumped down on the bed. Manny was starting to confuse me. What was wrong with him? He had this weird habit of torturing me all of a sudden. I thought I had the right to choose who I wanted to be with. Manny didn’t have to like it, but I still had the choice. But now Manny was pretty much promising me that I wouldn’t be allowed to move on. I sat there fuming until a knock came at my door. I opened the door. It was Derek.
“Oh! Hi. What is it?” I asked.
“Can I come in for a minute?” he asked.
“Uh, sure.” I opened the door wider and he stepped inside. “What is it?”
“It’s about your friends,” he said as he sat down.
“Did you find them?” I asked anxiously.
“Well, yes, but the opalvirgins are still holding onto them. Snow’s working triple overtime on the forces, trying to get past their boundaries, but their tough. A third of my armada was destroyed on the last attempt.” He put his head in his hands and groaned. “I’m trying Vanessa. I’m trying for you. You don’t know how hard this is.”
“Is it about as hard as fighting a war against the hobogoblins?” I know, probably not the right thing to say, but I felt like being bitter about it. He lifted his head.
“Vanessa, you know that’s different. I told you once I would do anything to get what I want. If sending an army of hobogoblins would get me what I wanted, I would do it.”
“What did you want? What could you possibly hope to gain from killing all our…I’m sorry, my friends?”
“You need to read an article about how to send clearer signals, because all I got from that was that hobogoblins were going to kill me and everyone I’d ever cared about.”
“So you didn’t care about me.”
I stopped midsentence and looked at him in shock. I walked over to him and punched him right in the eye. He fell off the bed and onto the floor. I glared at him.
“Don’t you dare say that! I cared about you Derek! I cared more than you could even begin to imagine. You needed me! You needed me and I would have done anything for you. You are ungrateful and evil and broken and scarred and messed up and a liar! You’re pathetic and a weirdo and demented and twisted and freaky! You’re confusing and you freak me out! I love it all. I love everything about you…and…I think…” I took a deep breath and helped him up. I was slowly calming down. He looked down at me in confusion. “I think I love you.”
He stared at me in shock. He opened his mouth to say something, but then he closed it. He did that so many times, he started to look like a fish. I bit back a laugh. He started to say something, but just like I expected, he snapped his mouth closed again. I sighed and hugged him.
“I love that too,” I said softly. Then I kissed him. He moved his hands up to my back. After a minute or so, my head started to throb. I tried to ignore it, but it kept building up until it felt like my brain was exploding against my skull. I pushed Derek away with a gasp and fell to my knees. “Damn you Manny.” I groaned.
“Vanessa, what’s wrong?” I couldn’t answer, my brain was having aftershocks. Then the pain lowered and finally subsided. I steadied my breath and closed my eyes. “Vanessa?”
“I…I’m okay. Now. It’s Manny.” I put my hand to my forehead. I didn’t get what Manny’s deal was. Headaches. Why was it always a headache? Why not a stomachache? Why attack my head?
“The man in the moon? Why is he giving you headaches?”
“Because he’s a jerk, that’s why. He’s getting back at me for kissing you. I don’t hear a problem in there, but to Manny…you and I could never be together.”
“I’ve got Advil.”
“This is a magical headache; do you really think Advil is going to get rid of it?”
“I was hoping it would. You’re the only girl who’s ever cared about me. You’re also the only girl who will hang out with me and stay around voluntarily.”
“You’re okay to be around. Lighten up a little maybe. You still use dark magic, don’t you?”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the book I remembered from Wonderland. It was just a little grubby.
“This was actually pretty helpful. There’s a shadow summons spell in there that helped me find someone to help me.”
“How did you know?”
“Jamie, Thimble, Pitch talked to me himself. What is up with him? He said Thimble needs protection from…something.”
Derek looked down and I knew that he knew what she had to be protected from. But it was really late, and I wanted to go to bed. I yawned and stretched. Derek shrugged and left, promising me there would be a nice breakfast laid out when I woke up. I changed into my pajamas and huddled down under my blanket. A cold blast of air swept through my room and I shivered. I got up and closed the window. It was still cold. I closed the door. That didn’t make it any warmer. I got two more blankets. My teeth still chattered. I finally up on a t-shirt and tights under my pajamas. I was still freezing. I looked on the shelf above all the dresses in my closet and found exactly what I hoped would be there. It was my teddy bear from the old school. I grabbed its arm and went back to my bed. I clutched the bear as close to me as I could and I slowly warmed up. The bear was enchanted to bring warmth and comfort. My mom gave it to me when I left for the school. As my mind shut off, I realized with a chill that I’d named the bear Jack.
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