Nearly a week later, there is a knock at the door.
Gentle opens it, smiling with her entire face.
Right after we got here it was decided that Gentle would be the only one to open the door. This was after Hemlock shouted at the poor soul that had come to collect us for a town gathering.
On the other side of the door stands a green fairy that is not much bigger than us. The smile she gives Gentle is only slightly less sincere than my sister’s.
I clear my throat loudly and they both notice me in the kitchen.
The stranger gestures for me to come over to the two of them.
“I am Bindweed. I’ve come to inform you that our people have gone to your forest. Today I am in charge of keeping you safe in your house. I live across town, so I haven’t seen any of you before.
How many of you are there? I’ve heard a lot of numbers.”
“Fou-thirteen. There are thirteen of us.” I answer.
“Wow. We don’t have huge families like that here. Can I meet all of them?”
I nod my approval and step aside to let her through the entryway. Gentle shuts the door for her.
“Well, First of all, I’m Fidget, and that’s Gentle.”
Bindweed follows me further into the house as I send Gentle to get the rest of our sisters to meet us in the sitting room.
When we get there, the twins are playing a game with Hemlock and Raini. Hemlock looks up at Bindweed, eyebrows raised with curiosity.
“These are the twins, Olinda and Odiana. And Hemlock and Raini.” I tap each of their heads with their names.
Hemlock rolls her eyes. “What’s going on?”
“Bindweed here is going to be watching us for a while. So I figured she’d need to know all of our names.”
“Whatever. Good luck remembering all of us.” She grunts.
Bindweed’s caught off guard by Hemlock’s harshness, but she keeps smiling all the same. I understand now why they sent her to watch after us; she seems tough for a smaller fairy.
The other girls come in one by one and I pat each of their heads while announcing their name.
“But that’s only twelve. Where’s the last one?”
Everyone looks around, searching for the missing girl. Oak scoffs. “Of course. Loxy’s not here when we need her.”
“Oak, don’t be like that. She’s probably just sleeping.” I say.
Gentle shakes her head. “She was awake when I saw her a second ago. She said she didn’t think we need a babysitter.”
“Shut it, Hem.” Hemlock raises her eyebrow at me.
“What? She’s being totally selfish, just wandering off on her own.”
I smack the back of her head; she whips back and gives me an angry glare.
“She doesn’t mean to be. Now hush, it doesn’t matter now.” I turn back to Bindweed with an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry about my sister, she’s just a little cranky.”
Later that night Meadow stops me in the hall. “Bindweed said we’ll be able to go home soon. Isn’t that exciting?”
“Well, the green fairies will be getting our forest back to us. But our trees were still burned down. They’d have to grow them back.”
“But they can do that. Some of their fairies were trained to grow plants. I read a book about it once.” She blushes, looking down at the floor under her feet.
Back at home, Meadow skimmed through any book she could get her hands on. But here she just lies around chattering in a home with no books.
“We’ll have to live somewhere, kid. I don’t think it will be here though. It’s too small for all of us.” I try to reassure her.
Her grin spreads across her face, lighting up with her joy. “But it’s so fun here; it’s like a sleepover that won’t end.”
“It has to end though, Meadow.” She shrugs and turns back to the other girls.
No more than a week could have passed before Beetle bangs on our door. Gentle greets him with a smile, but he just brushes past her.
“They did it. You can have your forest back. But we’re going to have to regrow some trees.”
He dives through the girls rushing about the kitchen to get me. Hemlock rolls her eyes at his enthusiasm. He pulls my ear close to him and whispers. “I think we saw your sister across the pond."
He backs away and shrugs apologetically.
I continue to knead a mound of dough roughly, avoiding eye contact with him. He looks around, taking in the flour hovering softly over everything in sight.
Hemlock juggles tomatoes while Meadow watches, waiting for her to drop them.
“That doesn’t matter Beetle. She isn’t one of us anymore.”
Hemlock drops one of the tomatoes, but Meadow catches it before it hits the ground, Oak laughs, causing Meadow’s fruit to fly at her.
“She’s missing out on a lot. Your family is fun.”
Loxy comes bounding down the hall. She sees Beetle and straightens her posture, faking a smile. “Has something happened?” The sickly grin stretches even farther.
“Yeah, we got your forest back.” His genuine grin overshadows hers. The pride in his friends clearly shows.
“Thank you for the news, Beetle.” Her tone orders privacy. Beetle nods, recognizing our silence and waves while he walks out the door.
“He saw her,” I say as soon as he’s out the door.
“Don’t think about that, Fidget.” She grips my shoulder tightly.
Hemlock pulls another tomato from the refrigerator to toss it at Loxy. She catches it without a glance, then flicks it back to her.
“Where have you been, Lox? Hiding away from the rest of us?” Hemlock questions.
She chuckles lightly, surprising all of us. “No, I’ve been working through some files. But we should be going home soon. That will be nice."
She bows then heads back upstairs; always working, that one.
“Maybe change can be good, Hemlock. I mean, now we have somewhere to go to if something bad happens again.” Gentle’s silver hair dances with the joyful tone of her voice.
“Girls, leave Hemlock alone.” She opens her mouth to thank me. “Hem, shut up.”
She growls before running up after Loxy.
“Fidget, wasn’t that a little harsh? She’s not the only one upset about Faylinn leaving. We all are.”
“We all need to realize that she can’t come back and our lives can’t be the same now. There’s nothing we can do about that. But we can make a new home.”
The girls lower their eyes to their feet.
Back to work.