3. On Thin Ice

Settling In

Queen Clarion summons her herald Viola. “I have just heard from Faragonda, who informs me the Winx Faeries will be here soon.”

“I will be happy to see them, Majesty,” smiles the Faerie.

“Me too! Please go and make a general announcement that that the current shift is suspended and those who wish to greet them are welcome,” she says with a smile.

“At once!” Viola bows to her queen and takes off, a smile bright on her face.

Soon the majority of Pixie Hollow citizens are gathered around the transfer point, talking excitedly about their visitors, exchanging stories and making plans.

The Tinx have gathered together, along with Bobble, Clank, Chloe, Marina, and Terrence. They have been given a place to wait behind Clarion.

Suddenly there are a couple of bright, lightning-like flashes, and the six Faeries and a large blue-and-white bunny appear on the white stone.

“Whoa!” exclaims Stella, “I will never get used to that!” She grabs Aisha’s arm to keep her balance and almost pulls the dark girl off her feet.

The loud cheering takes them by surprise, and they look to see many faces surrounding them.

Clarion glides forward, and the Winx bow deeply before her.

“Welcome, friends!” the queen says warmly, “We have missed you, and are very happy you have returned to us!”

“Believe me when I say we are very happy to be here!” says Bloom.

“And who is this?” asks Clarion as Kiko sniffs at her. She reaches over and rubs him between the eyes.

“My bunny Kiko,” answers Bloom, “I thought he would enjoy a vacation here too.”

“Welcome, Kiko! You will find a lot of green food here, and many friends,” the queen greets the rabbit.

Kiko gives her a quick bow then hops out of the circle where a number of Animal Faeries come over to him and he revels in the attention.

“I have some duties to attend, but your dwelling awaits, as do your friends,” says Clarion. She sweeps a hand toward the Tinx, and takes her leave in a burst of pixie dust.

A moment later are tearful reunions, especially in the case of Silvermist and Flora. The very emotional Water Faerie hugs the Flower Faerie tightly, tears running down her cheeks. “I have missed you so much!” she whispers.

“You too, Silvermist,” answers Flora, “I am overjoyed to see you again.”

The rest of the morning is spent greeting friends and catching up, and slowly things return to normal as those on duty return to their tasks.

The Winx follow the Tinx to a large house beside a stream and land before it.

“Here’s the home we promised!” Says Tinker Bell, gesturing. “I hope you like it!”

Stella takes a deep breath. “Is that lunch I smell?”

“Yes,” answers Iridessa, “It is ready when you are.”

Inside they find a large room with enough chairs for all and large windows letting in the sun. The walls are painted white and the floor tightly-set wooden planks. Near the back to the left are two doors; one leading to a kitchen/dining area, and the other to a corridor with three doors on each side and one at the back.

Each door has a sign with a girl’s name on it. On the left Aisha, Bloom, Flora, and then the back door leading outside to the outhouse. Across from Flora is Musa, then Stella and Tecna.

Each room has been personalized by the Tinx, and is comfortable and well-appointed. Most of the girls leave their still-shrunk bags on the bed just to be rid of the burden, planning to put them away later, but Flora is putting her things away with Silvermist’s help.

Seeing Fawn outside her door, Flora calls her in.

“How are you feeling?” she asks the Animal Faerie, taking her hands, “I’ve been worried about you since the dragonfly attack.”

“I- I’m pretty good, thanks! I do think about what happened sometimes, and it still upsets me,” is the reply.

“I am relieved to hear it. May I check for myself?” the Flower Faerie asks.

“Sure, I guess…” Fawn replies, glancing at Sil.

Still holding the Animal Faerie’s hands Flora turns her around and sits her on the bed. Placing her hands on either side of Fawn’s head, Flora closes her eyes and concentrates. She feels that Fawn is over the empathic shock she suffered, and the remaining stress is fading.

“You’re fine,” Flora reassures Fawn, “I can tell you that you are nearly over the shock.”

Fawn smiles. “Thank you.”

Just then Tecna comes to the door and knocks, catching everyone’s attention. “Flora, have you noticed that Vidia is still limping?”

“Yes, I did,” nods the Faerie with leaf-green eyes, “I was going to check on her shortly.”

“Then let’s do it now,” is the reply, “She should be healed after all this time. I’m afraid we might have made a mistake before.”

They find Vidia in the kitchen area, looking at the food it had been stocked with, and thinking about what she could add. The aroma of lunch fills the room.

They sit her down on a chair in the common room and put her leg up on a footstool. Tecna takes some readings with her palmtop.

“I was afraid of this,” she says, looking at the Flower Faerie, “There’s a splinter from the arrow still in her leg and it’s irritating the muscle around it.”

“No wonder it’s still hurting,” says Vidia, “Can you do something about it?”

“Sure,” smirks Musa, “We can get Bloom to use her Dragon’s Fire and amputate below the knee. “

The local Faeries look stricken at the very suggestion.

“It’ll work!” adds the Musical Faerie, “It will cauterize as she goes.”

“Uh… no, thanks. I’d rather have the splinter,” says Vidia, crossing her arms and glaring at the Musical Faerie.

“She’s joking,” says Flora in a flat voice, kneeling beside Tecna. “I’m pretty sure I can get it out without having to cut your leg open, but would someone go get a Healing Talent first?

“I will,” Tink volunteers, and heads for the front door.

“Ask her to bring a painkiller and sedative just in case,” Flora calls after her.

“What are you going to do?” asks Bloom, who had come into the room right after Musa’s comment.

“Remember Miss DuFour’s class on Intangibility late last semester?” Flora asks.

“Yes, we learned how hard it is to set up and maintain for more than a few seconds,” answers Stella, “I remember because I thought it could be useful getting something buried out of a closet.”

“And risk getting your hand stuck in the things burying what you want,” objects Musa, “It’s safer just doing it manually.”

“What I want to do involves that spell, but I’ll explain more when the Healer gets here,” says Flora.

A few minutes later Tink arrives with the healer in tow, and the Flower Faerie explains about the splinter.

“I see,” says the thin Faerie dressed in beige and white, “But how can you get it out without cutting?”

“We will cast a spell that will make Vidia’s leg intangible, and I will remove the splinter and hopefully the surrounding pus.” Flora looks at the Fast Flyer, who is obviously worried. “Vidia, this is going to be tricky, but I’m sure I can do it. But if you say no, we’ll find some other way.”

The dark-haired Faerie thinks for a few seconds, then looks at Flora. “Go ahead. I’m sure I can trust you to do your best, and I would really like to have it gone.”

“All right,” nods Flora, “Bloom, Stella, you’re the strongest ones here in terms of magic. If you cast the spell as a Convergence it will last the longest. Take hold of her leg on either side of the splinter.”

Bloom takes hold of Vidia’s ankle, and Stella just below the knee. “Ready.”

Flora takes a piece of cotton cloth from the Healer, who is watching with wide eyes. “Tecna, tell me when I’m over the right spot.” She moves her hand up and down over the shinbone until the Technology Faerie says, “There.”

“Is this going to hurt?” Vidia asks, hands gripping the chair tightly.

“It shouldn’t, but it will probably feel very strange,” is the answer. “Whenever you’re ready, guys.”

The spell is cast and Vidia’s leg glows a pale blue. Flora drops her hand through the leg, causing everyone, including the patient, to gasp. She turns the cloth up to look at the contents and finds exactly what she hoped to see; a small wooden splinter surrounded by white liquid laced with red. “Got it!”

Tecna checks a readout. “You did indeed.”

The spell fades and Stella and Bloom release the leg.

“What did that feel like, Vidia?” asks Rosetta, eyes still wide.

The Fast Flyer shakes her head. “Like nothing I ever felt before.” She flexes her calf muscle. “But it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

“I recommend not putting much weight on it for a few days, just to be sure,” says the Healer, taking the cloth from Flora. “Do you need anything for pain?”

“No, Ma’am, I’m fine now!” says Vidia. She reaches over and takes the Flower Faerie’s hand. “Thank you, Flora! Thank you everybody!”

After lunch they decide to fly around Pixie Hollow and see how things are now. They are amazed at the progress since they went home last time; homes rebuilt, the land healed, the beauty restored.

They find Kiko with some other rabbits enjoying the clover, and Bloom tells him where they are. He nods in understanding.

As they get ready to part for the night, Silvermist takes Flora aside. “It was a wonderful day,” she says, giving the Flower Faerie a hug.

Flora smiles and returns it. “Yes, it was.”

“I want to ask if you…,” begins Sil, letting go.

“Hey, Flora, you coming? Tec got the tea maker working!” calls Musa.

Flora turns in that direction. “Oh, thanks, Musa! Be right there!”

The moment ruined, Silvermist quietly slips away while shedding a few tears.

Flora turns back but finds herself alone. She is puzzled for a moment, then shrugs and goes inside.

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