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Chapter Twelve

"Tho then, on July fourth theventeen theventy thikth, the Declarathion of Independenthe was thigned."


Muffled laughter bubbled up from behind Rothington as he scribbled on the whiteboard, and he spun around, his face red.


"Who wath that?" he demanded, air whistling through the gap in his teeth that Aesop had created when he'd stolen his gold tooth. "Who'th laughing at me?"


And just like that, the entire class was silent. Judging from the solemn looks on our faces, you would have thought we were all at a funeral. The laughter still danced in the air above our heads, a rainbow mist that rose and fell with the tune of a song we couldn't hear, but it wasn't like Mr. Rothington could see that. He was, after all, just a human.


A human with the funniest speech impediment in the world, but—


I bit my tongue, but couldn't stop myself from snorting in laughter. Mr. Rothington spun to glare at me, and I quickly started coughing, hoping the gap in his brains was at least as big as the gap in his teeth, and he'd fall for it.


"There'th nothing funny about being thtolen from," he thnapped—I mean, snapped. "Nothing! That tooth wath ekthpenthive. Do you think I can afford another one on a teacher'th thalary? I don't know who did thith, or how, but I will find out! Then I'll make sure they're ekthpelled!"


When he turned back to the board, I looked up at the delicious cloud of laughter and, trying not to attract attention, took a deep breath and sucked it all in. Energy exploded in my chest, racing through my veins to reinvigorate me. It was like I was Frankenstein's monster, and a pair of jumper cables had been attached to my neck.


"Now, the retht of congreth didn't thighn the declarathion until Augutht thecond," Mr. Rothington continued. "At that point…"


I let his voice fade from my attention, until it was just a faint and distant hum. Grabbing my backpack off the floor, I set it on my desk and—after glancing around to make sure no one was watching—unzipped it.


"You all right in there?" I whispered, sticking my head a little ways inside.


Ethan glowered up at me with all his tiny fairy rage. "Let me out!"


"Shh, be quiet!" I hissed. "Do you want the others to hear you?"


"I want out of here!" he pouted, petulantly lowering his voice. "It's so boring in here—and it smells like death too!"


"Don't be so dramatic. That's just my leftover peanut butter and pickle sandwich." I tapped my finger against a brown bag that had long ago been smashed by my schoolbooks. "It's only been in there a year or so, so it can't smell that bad yet!"


"When can I come out?"


Jeez, talk about a one track mind.


"I'll let you out during lunch, I promise. For now, just keep—"


Suddenly, my backpack was snatched away.


"Who are you thpeaking to?" demanded Mr. Rothington. "Do you have a thell phone in there?"


"Wait, don't!" I yelled, lunging to grab my bag. I missed, though, and Mr. Rothington carried it to the front of the room. "Stop!"


"You can have it back when clath endth," he said.


No, no, no! I thought, but all I could do—short of Splatsying him right in front of everybody—was watch with teeth clenched as he opened up the bag, looked inside…


And glared at me.


"Where'th the phone, Henry?"


Every eye in the room turned to look at me. I sat there, dumbfounded. Where was my…phone? Why the refrigerated turkey sandwich would he ask me that when there was a freaking fairy right in front of him?


My answer came when I spotted a little blue shape flit behind Mr. Rothington's head. Luckily, being the center of attention for the moment, I was the only one who saw it.


I just hoped Ethan was smart enough to keep it that—




I sighed as Mr. Rothington yelped in pain, spinning around to see what had shocked him. Ethan had already flown away, and was hiding behind the coffee mug on the teacher's desk.


"Mutht be thomething wrong with the lightth," Mr. Rothington mumbled, his eye twitching.


I let out the breath I'd been holding. Fine. This was fine. As long as Ethan stayed out of sight, I could still make this work.


As if you'd be that lucky, the voice in my head taunted me.


Sure enough, the next time I glanced at the desk, Ethan was nowhere to be seen.


Caramel apple sundaes!


Trying to stay inconspicuous, I looked around the room. Up front, Mr. Rothington had managed to collect himself and return to the lesson. For a second, I dared to hope that meant I'd be the only one looking around—which was the universe's cue to do the exact opposite. Now that the little show he and I had put on was over, my classmates had promptly gone back to their daydreaming. I had to bite my tongue to keep from cursing under my breath. All it would take was one person looking in the wrong direction, and Ethan's stupid little secret would be out.


Come on, come on, I thought, nervously drumming my fingers on my desk. Where’d you go, you little blue butthole?




I spun around in my seat as someone in the back of the room squeaked in pain, but Ethan was already gone. His unfortunate target was rubbing a sore spot on the back of his neck, giving an evil glare to the people sitting next to him.


A glimmer of blue caught my eye, and I snapped my head around just in time to see Ethan land on one of the decorative shelves up near the ceiling—right next to Mr. Rothington's globe. Rubbing his hands together in wicked glee, he braced himself against it and gave it a shove. His pathetic fairy strength only moved it about an inch, but it would only take three or four more inches to send it toppling over the edge…right onto poor Mr. Rothington’s head.


Don't you do it, I thought, desperately trying to broadcast my thoughts to him. If you do, I swear I'll pluck those stupid little wings off AND MAKE YOU EAT THEM!


He pushed it again, and the globe teetered, on the verge of falling. Mr. Rothington just kept talking, completely oblivious to the danger he was in. One more push was all it would take, and Mr. Rothington would get clonked by a freefalling planet. Ethan's judgment was obviously being affected by the NuYu pill, which meant that it fell to me, his guardian, to keep him from hurting people.


So I threw my shoe at Mr. Rothington.


Ol' Righty soared as gracefully across the classroom as a shoe possibly could, and struck Mr. Rothington in the back of the head hard enough to slam his face into the whiteboard.


The entire class went silent.


"Who," demanded Mr. Rothington with the words ‘War of Inde’ written backwards across his face, "did that?"


Every finger in the classroom pointed at me. Mr. Rothington's face turned as red as Cousin Gumdrop's hair, and—


The globe fell, missing him by half an inch and shattering on the floor.


"What the hell?" he exclaimed, looking down at it, and then up at the shelf where Ethan was still standing!


"Hey, everybody look at me!" I shouted. Acting purely on my Hunter's instincts, I jumped up to stand on top of my desk. Everyone stared at me with a mixture of confusion, fear, and amusement. Now I just needed to keep their attention. "I have something to say!"


"Have you lotht your mind?" Mr. Rothington screeched. "Get down from there thith inthtant!"


I stayed where I was. "I need to say that…I love you, Mr. Rothington!"


I leaped from the desk and sprinted to the front of the room, giving my confused history teacher a big hug.


"Stay with me!" I pleaded. "Marry me and be mine forever and ever and—"


"Get your handth off of me!" he snapped, shoving me away.


I let him push me, wrenching my shoe out of his grip as I did so. I even swooned dramatically for effect, and in the process I glanced up and scowled when I saw Ethan still standing on the shelf above me. Nobody had seen him yet, thanks to my noble and selfless sacrifice, but how much longer would that last? It would just take one stray look for someone to spot him, and then Ethan and I were both dead!


"Oh, Harold!" I cried, using his first name. "You're breaking my heart!"


"Thtop thaying that!" he yelled. "Do you know how much trouble I could get in?"


 I folded my hands in prayer. "Isn't the trouble worth it, darling? You said there wasn't anything you wouldn't—"




While he yelled and ranted, I looked up and finally saw Ethan leave the shelf. His tiny wings were a blur as he flew from the front of the classroom to the back—stopping to hover right next to the window.


Suddenly, I had an idea.


"Henry Rider!" Mr. Rothington roared. "Thtop thith ridiculouthneth right now and—"


"Harold Rothington," I declared, trying to sound as heartbroken as possible, "if you won't accept my love, then I…I don't want to live anymore!"


He blinked. "Wha…"


I turned away from him. "So long, cruel world!"


And with that, I sprinted across the room, winding in between the other students' desks. I needed to do this fast, while they were all focused on me. Just as I reached the back of the room, I jumped. With one hand, I snatched Ethan out of the air.


Then I crashed face first through the window.


"I'll always love you!" I yelled over my shoulder as gravity took hold of me.


Mr. Rothington's class was on the third floor. As I fell, still clutching Ethan in one hand, I thrust my other hand into my backpack. My fingers wrapped around the sharp stone edges of the Escher Cube. Without pulling it out, I gave it a spin. I had my destination so ingrained in my memory that I didn't even need to look.


Half a second before I hit the ground, I vanished in a flash of white light.

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