Authors: Titania Woods
The rest of the table fell silent. Twink's face burned. Even though nobody liked Mariella or Lola, Twink could tell that her friends agreed with them.
âOh, come on â she just felt sorry for it, that's all,' put in Bimi. âI did too, until I knew what it was.'
Pix fluttered her yellow wings doubtfully. âYes, but still . . .'
âYou can never trust a wasp!' put in Sili, an excitable fairy with silver hair. Her large eyes widened, and she lowered her voice. âWhy, my father said that â'
âWill everyone just stop!' burst out Twink. âI
helped a wasp, and I'm not going to!'
âWell . . . that's all right, then,' said Sooze with a sudden grin.
Everyone laughed, and Twink felt herself relax. Suddenly she was starving. She picked up her nut cake and took a bite. Of course she wasn't going to help a wasp! The whole thing was just silly.
After dinner, Miss Shimmery, the HeadFairy of Glitterwings Academy, hovered above the platform at the front of the Great Branch. âYour attention, please!' she called, clapping her hands. Her rainbow wings gleamed like opals in the light of the glow-worm lanterns.
The school turned towards her, their faces expectant. Miss Shimmery smiled. âI've an announcement to make,' she said in her strong, low voice. âWe're going to have a special project this term, and we'd like the whole school to participate.'
A buzz of interest rippled through the Branch. Miss Shimmery held up her hands for silence. Her white hair looked like a piece of cloud.
âWe'd like for each and every student to do something for the betterment of the school,' she went on. âYou can write a song, or make something, or create a new spell â anything you like! But whatever you choose should improve our beloved school in some way.'
Her eyes held a faint twinkle as she scanned the crowd. âYou have two weeks,' she added. âAt the end of that time we'll have a contest, and the best three projects from each year will win sparkle marks for their branches!'
Miss Shimmery drifted back down to the platform. The Great Branch erupted in eager conversation.
Sooze bounced on her seat, fluttering her wings. âGlimmery! I'm going to invent a new dance. Madame will love it!'
Pix looked thoughtful. âI think I'll write about the history of Glitterwings,' she said. âI bet there's loads of fascinating stuff in the library! What about you, Twink?'
Twink shook her head. âI'm not sure yet.' As the conversation went on, she saw that Bimi had a worried expression on her face. âWhat's wrong?' she whispered.
Bimi sighed. âOh, I'm no good at this sort of thing! Everyone else's project is sure to be better than mine. You're all so clever.'
Twink started to laugh, and then stopped. Bimi was serious. âBut we're not!' she protested. âOnly Pix is really brainy; the rest of us are just ordinary. You're as clever as any of us.'
But she could tell that Bimi wasn't convinced. She rubbed her lavender wing against Bimi's gold and silver one. âWhy don't I help you?' she suggested. âI mean, if you're really worried about it.'
Relief burst across Bimi's face. â
you? Twink, that would be glimmery!'
âOf course I will,' said Twink. âDon't worry, we'll do it together!'
As the fairies got ready for bed that night, Twink lingered by the Daffodil Branch window. Under the moonlit sky, she could just see the dark outline of the wood. Was the wasp still out there, somewhere? Twink shook herself impatiently. Why
was she even still thinking of it?
âGlow-worms out in two minutes!' called Mrs Hover, the matron. Her stout footsteps echoed as she bustled about the branch. âTwink! You're not even dressed for bed yet, you silly fairy! Come on, flitter-flutter.'
âSorry, Mrs Hover!' Hastily, Twink pulled on her soft cobweb nightgown and hopped into bed. The cheerful yellow daffodil that hung overhead swayed slightly.
âGoodnight, Twink,' said Bimi sleepily from the next bed. Her long hair spilled across her cotton-bud pillow like a field of bluebells.
Twink pulled her petal duvet up under her chin. âGoodnight, Bimi.'
âGlow-worms out,' ordered Mrs Hover. âGoodnight, my dears!' Daffodil Branch fell into darkness as Mrs Hover left, closing the door behind her.
Twink turned in her bed, trying to get comfortable. What was wrong with her, anyway? Everything was just as it should be. Her moss bed was welcoming and cosy. Her best friend was right beside her, and on her bedside mush-room, the drawings of her family smiled at her in the moonlight.
Why did she feel so troubled?
The wasp huddled under a fallen log, shivering in the chill autumn night. Though he longed to fly home to his family, he couldn't. One of his wings lay bent and crumpled against his striped back.
The wasp was very young â only a baby, really â and now he blinked back tears. The night was so dark, and he was alone. What had happened to the friendly voices that had found him that morning? One of them had seemed especially kind, and had said they'd come and help him.
But no one had come.
An owl called somewhere in the wood, and the wasp trembled. What in waspdom was he going to do? His parents didn't know where he was. Nobody did.
Then it came to him. The voices had found
so perhaps he could find the voices, if he tried! Closing his eyes, the wasp concentrated as hard as he could.
Help me! Please! I'm here in the wood! I need help!
Nothing happened. The wasp refused to give up. He thought even harder, calling out to the friendly voice that had promised to help him.
The moon moved slowly across the sky as the night passed.
Help me! Please!
Twink awoke with a start. The wasp! It was calling for her, pleading for help. But no, it
have called to her â wasps didn't have magic. It was just a dream, that was all.
Twink frowned uncertainly. It had seemed so real . . .
she told herself.
It was only a dream
You really are a wasp brain if you get so upset over it!
Pulling her covers up over her ears, Twink closed her eyes and tried to go back to sleep.
Can't you hear me? Please help! I'm in the wood!
Twink gasped as her eyes flew open again. She hadn't imagined it. The voice was really calling to her.
Heart pounding, she sat up and looked out of the window. There were still stars in the lightening sky. No one would be up for a while yet. She had time to go and find the wasp, if she hurried!
Twink started to push back her covers. Then she saw Bimi's sleeping figure, and hesitated. Bimi wouldn't understand. Nobody would.
Help . . .
The voice came again, fainter this time. Twink made up her mind. Taking care not to wake the others, she hastily pulled on her clothes and pushed her pillow under her covers, in case Mrs Hover glanced in.
Easing the door open, Twink slipped out of Daffodil Branch. A moment later, she was spiralling down the dark trunk of the school, passing silent branches full of sleeping fairies.
Midway down, Twink paused, hovering in place. How was she going to get out? The great front doors would be locked now! Suddenly she remembered â there was a broken window latch in their Flower Power classroom. Miss Petal had complained about it just the other day.
Twink plunged down into the darkness, turning sharply to dive into a branch corridor. The Flower Power branch was halfway down, jutting off on its own.
Oh, please don't let the door be locked!
Landing on the ledge, she wiped her hands on her daffodil skirt and tried it.
The door slipped open easily. Twink let out a breath and sped into the moonlit room, half-flying and half-running.
Which window was it? Twink glanced at the row that marched down the branch. There, that one! A moment later she was tugging gently at its wooden latch. It hadn't been fixed yet, and the window swung open. Cool night air swirled into the room.
Twink gulped. Should she really do this? Leaving the school at night was a serious matter â she and her friends had got into awful trouble for it last term. Then she thought of the voice again, and knew she didn't have a choice. She flitted up and squeezed through the narrow frame.
Suddenly Twink was hovering outside, halfway up the school. The wood crouched darkly across the fields.
âAll right,' she murmured. âI don't know where you are, or how I can help you â but I'm going to try!'
Taking a deep breath, she flew towards the wood as fast as she could.
The wood seemed to grow darker and more forbidding the nearer she got to it. Twink stopped on its edge, biting her lip. How was she ever going to find one wasp in a wood this size?
Help! Help me!
Twink turned in the air, listening hard. Yes, he was that way! She dived into the wood, flying fast, darting around trees and undergrowth.
The voice led her to the very deepest, darkest heart of the wood. Suddenly Twink remembered what Bimi had said, and her wings felt cold. Had the wasp lured her to this remote spot for some treacherous reason?
Twink spun about, peering at the trees and bushes around her. It was coming from under that fallen log! She swallowed, staring at the dark space. Did she dare? What if her friends were right?
Then she heard it: a tiny sobbing sound. Twink's eyes widened. The wasp was crying!
Sympathy rushed through her. She swooped towards the fallen log, landing neatly in front of it. âHello, are you there?' she called. âPlease stop crying! I've come to help you!'
There was a soft snuffling noise, and a rustling. Suddenly Twink saw it crawling towards her in the moonlight: a little baby wasp with a broken wing.
âOh!' gasped Twink. She knelt beside the wasp. âYou poor thing!'
The wasp nuzzled at her hand, humming slightly. Twink could feel his relief as clearly as if it were her own. And in that moment, she knew she had lost her heart completely. The wasp was her responsibility now, and she would never let it down.
âBut what am I going to do with you?' she whispered, stroking his head. âI can't just leave you here!' She glanced at the sky. It was lighter now. She had to get back to school before everyone woke up!
âI'll hide you somewhere close to school,' she told the wasp. âI think I know just the place. Then I'll see what I can do about healing your wing.'
How could she heal him on her own, though? She was only a First Year! Pushing aside her doubts, Twink wrapped her arms around the wasp and picked him up.
He gave a buzz and clung to her with his spindly legs, flapping his good wing in alarm. âShush!' Twink told him. âIt's OK. I just have to get you back to school.'
The wasp quietened, and Twink took off, skimming quickly back the way she had come. When she reached Glitterwings, she saw with relief that the school's windows were still dark.
Shifting the wasp in her arms, Twink flitted around to the back of the school. There was a small dell here, with an abandoned tree stump that she and Bimi had found one day. It used to be a caretaker's cottage, but no one had lived there for years.
The tree stump was half-hidden by long grasses. Pushing her way through them, Twink flew through the doorway.
Inside it was dark and run-down, but dry, and cosy enough. With a sigh of relief, Twink placed the wasp on the mossy bed in the corner. âThere!' she said. âYou'll be all right here, won't you?'
The wasp curled up contentedly, humming to himself. Looking around, Twink saw an old walnut-bucket. âI'll be right back!' she told the wasp.
She grabbed the bucket and flew hastily down to the pond. Filling it with water, she returned to the stump and placed it beside the wasp. He drank gratefully for a long time, flapping his good wing, and then curled up again with a satisfied buzz.
âRight,' said Twink. âLet's look at your wing!'
She inspected it carefully in the faint light, and her spirits sank. It was badly broken. The wasp watched her anxiously as she gently poked and prodded.
âOh, I'm sure I can fix that!' said Twink, trying to hide how worried she felt. âI just need to â to do a bit of research, that's all.'
The wasp seemed relieved. Humming, he climbed into Twink's lap. The faint dawn streamed through a hole in the ceiling, showing his yellow and black stripes.
Twink stroked his soft back. âYou need a name, don't you?' she said. âOr do you have one already?'
The wasp stopped humming and looked blankly at her. Twink grinned. âAll right, let me think . . . I know! I'll call you Stripe.'
Stripe seemed to approve of his new name. He buzzed loudly, tickling Twink's face with his good wing. She laughed. âStripe it is, then!'
Suddenly Twink realised that it wasn't as dark inside the stump as it had been. Oh, wasps, it was almost daylight!
She leapt up. âI've got to go â I'll be back later with some food!'
The wasp looked at her with a worried expression. âIt's all right, I'll be back,' said Twink. âBut I've got to go now.'
Had he understood? She couldn't tell. With a final hasty stroke of his back, Twink flew from the stump. Pausing only to pull the grass back over the entrance, she zoomed back to school as fast as she could.
âI've been thinking about our project,' said Bimi at breakfast. Her blue eyes sparkled with excitement. âWe could do a tapestry.'
âUm . . . a tapestry?' Twink gazed at the oak-leaf platter of seed cakes with a worried frown. What did wasps eat, anyway?
âYes, it'll be glimmery!' Bimi poured herself some fresh morning dew from the almond-shell pitcher. âI thought we could do a sort of history of fairies. I mean, nothing brainy like Pix is doing â just a story in pictures, with lots of glitter and sparkle. What do you think?'
âHmm? Oh! Yes, that sounds great.' Twink tried to look as if she had been listening to every word. Across the table, she saw Sooze drizzle honey on to her seed cakes.
she thought with sudden relief. Wasps liked sweet things, didn't they?
Bimi's wings tapped together. âTwink . . . is everything OK?'
Twink jumped, and nodded vigorously. âFine!'
Bimi gave her a funny look. âYou seem sort of distracted.'
âOh, I'm just tired.' Twink's lavender wings fluttered as she gave a wide yawn. She didn't have to pretend much. She had only just managed to slip back into her bed before Mrs Hover came into Daffodil Branch to wake them all up.
âOh.' Bimi looked down at her lap. âWell . . . I just thought I'd tell you about my idea, that's all. I guess it's probably not very good.'