Unaware of courage

Brave

The thing about being brave is you sometimes don’t know you’re doing it.

It can take on many forms. Bravery can be distracting a bunch of orcs so your friend can escape with the Ring. Bravery can be choosing to hang around and be friends with werewolves even though they could seriously hurt you without meaning to, and taking part in the adventures with nothing but your wit and courage. Bravery can be facing down a large dragon who could easily obliterate you with one breath.

Merry and Pippin, Stiles and Bilbo were brave. And I don’t think they even knew it.

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Rose with thorns

Sting

Anyone who looked at Milly Costello would have called her ‘girly’. She certainly looked the part: long blonde hair, light blue eyes and a fondness for the colours blue and pink. They wouldn’t have known she travelled to get to the city of Redcross on foot, together with at least fifty other people, at the age of fourteen.

For two years she worked working at a café with three friends she made while travelling, but she refused to accept this was going to be it for her. She remembered the world outside Redcross, and was determined not to live the rest of her life inside its walls.

Eventually, she did get to leave the city. It just wasn’t in a way she expected – or wanted. And right then, she would have given anything to get back there.

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Candyfloss Kisses

Enamored

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

It was the only way Leo would get more visitors at the facility. Avrel was the only member of his family who would visit him and…well, if Sami was being honest, they needed Leo’s help.

So Sami suggested she pose as Leo’s girlfriend. He’d spent three months at the facility and was now allowed unsupervised and more frequent visits as a reward for good behaviour.

Leo was surprised to see her when she first arrived. He was even more surprised (although he never showed it to the guards) to learn he had a “girlfriend”, but as Sami and Avrel’s visits continued, he gave them the help they needed.

Sami learned more about Leo as his “girlfriend” than she ever did as his sister’s friend. She learned he liked browsing through books he would randomly take off the library shelves. His favourite treat was candyfloss ice cream. He secretly nicknamed one of the guards “Sir Eatsalot”, and now all the other inmates called him that (never to his face). He was sad that his parents never visited him. He worried he’d disappointed them so badly they would never see him again even after his sentence was over.

He loved the way her hair looked today.

xxx

“Hey,” Sami said as soon as Leo walked in the visitor’s area. “Look what I got you.” She held up the tiny box of candyfloss ice cream.

“Are you serious?” Leo’s eyes lit up. They retreated to the library so he could enjoy the bounty in peace. The guard had been suspicious when she saw the little tub; she relaxed on seeing the seal was unbroken.

He peeled back the lid. “I haven’t had this for ages. Thanks, Sami.”

Sami watched Leo eat the ice cream. She couldn’t keep from smiling when she saw how much he was enjoying it. What kind of food did he have to eat here? She wasn’t sure she wanted to find out.

Leo was about halfway through the tub when he suddenly stopped eating and looked at her. Slowly, he scooped a helping of ice cream up and held it out to her. Sami took the spoon without her fingers brushing against his. She slipped it into her mouth.

No wonder he loved it so much.

She hadn’t taken her eyes off his.

Then they were both leaning forward and she was tasting the sweetness on his lips.

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Starlight

Magnetic

The sun was nearly gone. Krateia glanced around at the people surrounding her; once she was certain nobody was watching her, she unscrewed the top off the tiny vial and swallowed the contents in one gulp.

It burned as it went down her throat. She shuddered and slipped the vial back into the folds of her dress, daring a quick glance at Aigle to see if the other girl had noticed.

Nobody seemed to have noticed. They were too busy talking excitedly amongst themselves.

Krateia knew she shouldn’t be at the party. She hadn’t slept properly for – what was it? Five days now? She wasn’t sure. But it was one of Nyx’s parties, literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If Krateia rejected the invitation, she would never get another one.

That was why she was standing in a ballroom, in a midnight-blue dress belonging to her mother when she had gone to the party Nyx had invited her to, with at least a hundred other people. All were waiting for the sun to go down. When the last sliver of the sunset surrendered to shade, that was when the party would begin.

All around were tables covered with glasses of wine distilled from grapes and morning dew. Others had sweets, creams, ices, everything someone like Krateia could long to taste their entire lives and never, ever try. The hall was lit as if by a thousand candle flames, but there were no candles in sight.

Daylight faded completely. An excited breath stirred the crowd as they looked around expectantly. Loud gasps echoed everywhere as a tall masked woman appeared in the centre of the room.

Nyx. Their hostess.

All eyes were drawn to her. Her long hair hung in curls down to her back. Her strapless gown was the same colour as any other dress or jacket at the party, but it was made of a rich velvet with stars sewn into it. Different constellations shimmered as she raised her hands and removed her feathered mask, revealing clear grey eyes. Slowly, she smiled. Her lips parted to utter a single word.

“Welcome.”

Lively music broke out. People snatched up glasses of wine and eagerly drank. Krateia stayed where she was for a moment, unsure what to do.

“Come on!” Aigle grabbed Krateia’s elbow and pulled her over to the nearest table. She pressed a silver bowl filled with pink ice into her friend’s hands. Krateia used a delicate spoon to taste the ice. It flooded her mouth, nearly drowning the wildfire’s aftertaste. She ate the entire thing, savouring spoonful after spoonful.

When she looked around for Aigle afterwards, her friend was gone. She stayed by herself, watching everyone as they talked and laughed. Some joined hands and began to twirl around in a reckless dance.

When Krateia dared to look around for Nyx, she saw her talking to a man in a simple black shirt open at the neck and plain trousers. His hair and beard were black as well, and his eyes sparkled in the light.

When she looked in their direction again, she saw him watching her. He was frowning. Embarrassed, she blushed and turned back to the table.

Eventually, the music, voices and laughter became too much for her. Her feet ached from standing for too long. Krateia slipped away, out of the light and into the shadows, where lesser candles glowed. She just wanted to find a place to sit down for a while.

All her life she had wondered what one of Nyx’s parties would be like. Somehow, a party hosted by a goddess was just like every other party she had attended.

She finally found a place to sit: a small couch placed in a circle of moonlight. Krateia sat down and sighed with relief, swinging her feet up onto the couch beside her.

“Hello.”

Krateia looked up sharply. It was him. She was so startled, she couldn’t find her voice. His eyes sparkled even in the dark.

Then she did. “What are you doing here?”

“Partly avoiding my family. I’m not really needed through there. It’s far too bright in that room for my tastes.”

“Is all your family in that room?” Krateia asked, blinking hard to try and lighten her eyelids. They felt very heavy all of a sudden.

He laughed. “Just my mother. Trust me, you don’t want my brother in a place like this.”

Krateia discreetly fumbled around for her vial – then realised she had drunk the last of the wildfire.

The couch dipped as he lowered himself onto it. “You’ve been avoiding me, Krateia.”

Her fingers stilled. “How do you know my name? What do you mean, I’ve been avoiding you? I don’t even know who you are.” She put her hand to her mouth to try and stifle a yawn.

“Yes, you do.” His voice was soft and sad. “In fact, you’ve been avoiding me for a while; it’s been five days now.”

“What are you talking a…” Krateia’s voice disappeared as she met his eyes.

She did know who he was.

He reached out, put his hands on her arms and gently pulled her close. He smelled of warm wine and winter spices; his shirt was soft, so soft. Her head was tucked beneath his chin, her cheek resting against his chest.

“It’s all right, Krateia. I’ll watch over you.”

His arms were warm, like fur on a frosty night. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift away, safe in Sleep’s embrace.

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Troublemakers

Pest

You know the kind of kid who might as well have trouble for a middle name?

If you (or your son/daughter) watches Fireman Sam, you may be familiar with the name Norman Price. That kid causes so much trouble, regardless of whether or not he means to.

Then there’s the kid who you suspect is trouble, but you can’t actually prove anything. In my stories, those girls are called Frankie Jamison and Fancy Mylar. You know: the mischievous and playful kind who pushes the boundaries just a little too far – and gets away with it.

As a child, I wished I could be just a little bit naughtier. I used to imagine sneaking out of my bedroom window at night and going exploring in the countryside. Looking back now, I realise I probably could have gotten away with it because who would ever have suspected someone like me of doing something like that?

Out of interest, who do you think is the biggest pest: Norman Price, the Weasley twins, Horrid Henry or Dennis the Menace?

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Silverdon Traditions

Traditional

Isabel’s life revolved around traditions.

Since her brother was the firstborn, it was tradition that he became the heir. He would inherit the Monray title, have children to inherit it and Isabel would…live her life.

It was tradition that if they had a guest to the harvest meal that autumn, said guest brought a homecooked dish to add to the meal. It was tradition for everyone to help prepare for the meal itself.

When she grew older, she and her friends once visited a bar to enjoy their famous non-alcoholic cocktails. Before they realised what had happened, it became their tradition.

It never occurred to her that her brother might not be as happy about the various traditions as she was. By the time she did, everything in Silverdon had changed and her family was right in the middle of it.

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Hmm

The Day Project is undergoing an upheaval.

Stay tuned.

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