The Keplers were not morning fairies. After a rushed breakfast, Franklyn and his mother flew across their back fields towards the Godmother Academy. He let the smell of the harvested hay wash over him as he drifted close to the barrels. As much as he was going to miss harvest time, he was ready for the opportunity to try his magic. To at least be with the same color of fairies.
The Elders had kept a close eye on Franklyn while he was growing up, documenting any changes to his wings. But this year it became clear there would be no variation from the color purple. The color of Godmother magic. And because his magic would grow stronger, the Elders reluctantly agreed for him to attend the academy. Another first for the realm.
It took twenty minutes of Franklyn’s mother insisting manual labor on their farm built more than muscle before they landed in front of the Godmother Academy: an average cottage in the middle of Penwood Forest. The mossy-stoned building was surrounded by a wildflower infested clearing. Smoke furled up from its squatty chimney as overly joyful birds hopped through the billows.
“So this is it.” Franklyn kicked away some of the weeds scratching through the gaps of his sandals.
“Charming,” Franklyn’s mother continued, ignoring the flatness in his tone. “I’m sure it’s enchanted.”
“I hope so.” The pine mixed with the prickling scent of wildflowers curled up his nose.
“Our house is bigger than this.”
“Well, it’s not too late to go back.”
“We’re not going back.”
“Then quit sulking and knock.”
He followed the trail of sprinkled pebbles up to the wooden door and gave it a timid knock. There was a brief and hollow echo before the door flung open.
“Goodness me!” A set of short plump arms wrapped themselves around Franklyn and pulled him into a tight bear-hug. The pudgy woman behind them gave him a jiggle. “You must be Franklyn Kepler! I’m so happy you decided to come!”
With a burly chuckle, the woman set him down and let him go. Franklyn quickly took a couple steps back, making sure she couldn’t reach him again. She was a little shorter than he was, maybe only five feet tall. But an off-center brunette beehive provided an additional foot. It was messily woven with pieces of gold tinsel and strands of grey hair.
“Oh, this is so exciting.” Her cheeks took over her round face as she smiled. A faint twinkle in her brown eyes winked over her cheekbones. “My goodness…I am getting ahead of myself.”
She stepped back slightly, still blocking the entrance, and a warm peachy glow fell upon her like spotlight. Despite the heavy embellishments of pearls and beads, her rose gold ball gown stayed lackluster. She gave it a brush over, causing a few beads to shake loose and tumble to the ground. Another chuckle. A pink opal wand shot out of her sleeve into her hand. It let a wimpy poof of glitter from its crooked tip; she raised it into the air and did a couple twirls. The tulle of her dress tripled in size with the spins and squashed his suitcase into him. Franklyn took another large step back, unsure of how much more space she might need.
“I’m Godmother Torble,” she said, stopping just shy of dizziness. She gave a bow and a curtsy that came across as more of a bop. “Advisor for first year students. Oh, we are going to have so much fun together. Well, sort of together. I was just so excited to meet you. We’ve never had so many special students before. Any special student really. Unless you count Godmother Yvette. But I don’t know if allergies are really the same as your situation. They were fairly severe though.”
“Delightful.” Franklyn smiled as sincerely as he could muster up. He’d much rather be called an outcast and avoid the social politeness.
His mother stepped up behind him and tried to peer into the cottage. “Mrs. Tor-”
“Godmother Torble, I’m Franklyn’s mother, Lorna, and he is supposed to be meeting with the headmistress soon. Would you mind showing us where to go?”
“Certainly, dear. Certainly.” She did several quick hops, causing more beads to fall and her dress to shrink back to normal.
Franklyn shifted his suitcase to his left hand. He was starting to regret bringing The Complete List of Magically Capable Creatures, 476th Edition. It was the most worn book of his collection, and despite its weight, it held the essence of his room in its pages. Although, a travel size version wouldn’t be a bad thing to have. He brought the suitcase back to his right and propped it up with his knee.
“Let me get that for you.” Godmother Torble pointed her wand at his suitcase. “In this suitcase is all the stuff that Franklyn brings. So help us out and give it wings!”
Swirls of burgundy fairy dust flowed out from her wand and floated over to Franklyn; it was accompanied by the comforting aroma of apple pie. Franklyn’s face lit up as he inhaled deeply; he had never seen godmother magic in person before. The other magic types didn’t have smells or require the enhancement of fairy dust; like his family, their magic was done with their hands. He watched as the dust circled around the suitcase and lifted it out of his hand into the air. It swarmed over the handles and flickered. As the dust dissipated, the handles morphed into a pair of brown, feathery wings.
One of the wings had manifested bent, and it was difficult for the suitcase to stay airborne. It flopped on the ground like a fish, before it was finally able to stop upright. Having found its bearings, it flew up at them and tried to make its way into the cottage. They ducked as it missed every time and banged into the frame. Unsuccessful, the suitcase backed away from the door. It drooped and swayed from the struggle to keep flying.
“I’m really okay with carrying it myself,” Franklyn said as he swatted for his suitcase. Before he could almost grab it, it suddenly propelled itself up above the cottage and immediately dropped into the chimney.
Godmother Torble waved them along as she made her way into the cottage. “Don’t worry. I’m sure it will find us.”
They stepped through the door and found themselves on the outskirts of another forest. Across a narrow meadow of snowdrop flowers stood the formidable academy: an oversized cottage. Ten stories built from a mixture of faded bricks and stones; their weathered browns and greys accented by levels of uneven windows and swooping thatched roofs. Dark iron sconces dotted the façade, providing anchors for the intrusive vines that already covered a majority of the building.
There were no visible suns in the sky, yet the world held a midday glow. Franklyn looked back at the door they came through; it was embedded into the trunk of a thick birch tree. Judging by the lack of suns and nonnative birch, Franklyn knew they were no longer in their homeland, Orchathyst.
His mother leaned over to him. “I told you it would be enchanted.”
“Of course it’s enchanted! We’re godmothers!” Godmother Torble raised her arms up towards the academy as she sang her statements. But she only brought them halfway up before pausing. “Although, it was actually Professor Beril who created this, um, this semi-dimensional world. She can explain it better. She’s a blue fairy and the first year realm instructor. Oh, you’ll love her. Been with the academy for ages. Since it opened. She just keeps going, no matter how many times she gets lost.”
“Can’t wait.” Despite his sarcastic tone, a part of Franklyn was genuinely excited at the prospect of exploring other realms. He had always admired blue fairies and their ability to open portals and travel to different worlds. Discovering and documenting new things.
“First things first.” Torble turned and skipped back to the door. “If you are expecting any guests, including your parents, you must register them with Flec. Only registered guests are able to enter the academy. If they are not registered, they will walk into this.”
Godmother Torble clapped her hands, and the forest around them disappeared. They were now standing in the drab interior of a cottage. A thick layer of dust rested upon the spare furnishings, and long spider webs tethered them together. A table and set of flimsy chairs. A drooping cot. And a moldy chest. On the far wall, a mirror reflected the orange glow of the smoldering logs in the fireplace.
“You better not forget to register me.” Franklyn’s mother picked a spider web from her hair.
Franklyn crossed his arms and shrugged, giving her a smirk. “I’ll try and remember.”
“Yes! You need to remember! Not registered: you see this. Registered and then…”
Torble said as she clapped again, bringing them back to the academy. She waved her hand at the mirror that was now hanging on a tree. “You’ll find Flec somewhere over there.”
The expressive face of an old man popped up on the mirror. His wrinkles bunched together as he gave a toothless grin. “Hello there! Welcome to Orc–“
“Oh, we should really get you to your meeting.” Torble lifted her skirt and gave herself a running start as she flew off towards the academy.
Realizing Torble wasn’t going to wait, Franklyn and his mother quickly followed. They did their best to ignore and dodge the tiny puffs of burgundy fairy dust that appeared behind her.