“That doesn’t answer who you are.”
“No,” Flame said, “but perhaps you should be telling us who you are?”
The multi-coloured fairy looked at him. “You are in my patch of land. I believe courtesy demands you introduce yourself first.”
Flame grimaced, unable to deny the truth of it.
Winter cleared her throat, shaking off the surprise of seeing such an unusual fairy. “My name is Winter,” she said, “and this is Birch, Flame, Indian, and Tango.” She indicated them all in turn. “We have an important message for any Clan we meet.” She hesitated, then asked, “Are you part of a Clan?”
He wrinkled his nose, as if offended. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I’m not,” Indian said, taking her turn to be offended. “And I’m perfectly fine with that.”
His expression turned to amusement. “Well, I suppose that’s me told then.”
Indian’s face turned red and her fists balled at her sides. “Are you making fun of me?”
He held his hands up. “No. I wouldn’t. I swear.”
There was something mocking in his tone, Winter thought. “So who are you then?” she said, intervening before Indian did something silly. Like curse him. She was still staring like she wanted to thump him.
“My name is Spring.” He bowed, while still hovering in the air, then grinned. “I guess our names go well together.”
Winter caught Birch’s eye. He looked as surprised as she felt.
“And your Clan?” Flame asked.
Spring pointed to a house in the distance. “Over there.”
“Will you take us to it?” Winter asked. Nervous anticipation ran through her, making her heart beat faster and her eyes widen. This could be the fairy they were talking about only earlier that day! They could be on the way to proving her theory!
Spring cocked his head to the side. “Can I trust you?”
“You can,” Birch said. “This is important. I bet you have a power, right? Something to do with flowers, or trees?”
Winter cringed at Spring’s expression. His eyes were narrowed and his whole body turned tense. “How do you know anything about it?”
“Because we have powers of our own,” Winter said. She crouched down, put her hand on the wall and let ice spread out.
Spring stared, wide-eyed. “You can all do things like that?”
“Except me,” Birch said, with a small smile. “I’m just along for the ride.”
Spring blew out a large breath. “Wow, I didn’t know there were others.”
“None of us did until Winter found us,” Tango said quietly.
Spring’s eyes found Winter’s again. “So you’re the leader of this gang then. I thought so.”
“Leader? Oh, no. I mean, we don’t have a leader. And I couldn’t, I mean, I don’t want to be.” She felt her cheeks turning pink, and wanted the wall to open up and swallow her.
“So will you take us to your Clan now?” Birch asked, taking the attention from her. She silently thanked him for it while trying to calm her racing heart.
Spring nodded. “I will. Follow me.”
“Wait,” Tango said, “what about the feathers? Are they yours? Where did they come from?”
He grinned. “They’re mine, and when we get to my garden you’ll see where they’ve come from.” He turned and started to fly away, prompting everyone to leap off the wall and follow.
Winter looked down at the multi-coloured ground as she flew over it. Maybe she was about to see a pink bird. That would be interesting.
They drew closer and closer to the lone house sat at the end of a small road. A lane, Winter was sure Layla had called them. It was a house similar to Layla’s, stone, and with a high stone wall around its garden at the back. It was partly covered by winter branches, waiting to be green again in the spring.
Spring landed on the wall, and Winter and her friends did as well. A noise that she recognised started, and Spring grinned again. “I should warn you about Leviathan,” he said. “Just be careful where you fly and you’ll be fine.”
“What’s Leviathan?” Winter asked, looking down at the garden that was full of plants.
Spring pointed down. “That’s Leviathan.”
A large animal bounded up to the foot of the wall, deep loud sounds coming from its mouth.
Winter racked her brain, trying to remember where she’d seen a creature like this and heard a sound like this before. “Of course,” she realised, “it’s a dog!”
“A dog?” Tango asked. “Is it going to eat us?”
Spring laughed. “Of course not. He’s the human’s pet. He’s as gentle as I am. He even talks to us sometimes, tells us of the world outside.”
Winter smiled. Now she knew what it was, Leviathan did look like a friendly sort of animal.
“Be careful of the teeth though,” Spring added. “He doesn’t always know his own strength.”
Winter was about to reply, when something else caught her eye. Over at the back of the garden, opposite the house, was a tall wooden enclosure. And inside were birds. Lots of birds. Her jaw dropped. A pink bird!
She was seeing a pink bird!