Most kids hated school, but most kids weren’t as popular as me and Fox.
I was glad Griffin didn’t go to school with us, because I knew my twin would be stuck to his butt like wet paint, even if I was Fox’s favorite.
Daddy says if I was born in the fae world, I wouldn’t have known who my parents or brothers and sisters were, unless I had a twin. I liked knowing that Fox would’ve been my twin, even there.
But sometimes, I really didn’t understand him…
“Do you like it?” Fox asked again. “I know I couldn’t do her face justice with regular paint–maybe if I borrow some of Mom’s special ones.”
“I…like the flowers?”
It just looked like some random girl to me. She didn’t look like any of the other kid models I knew, so I didn’t know why Fox was so obsessed.
“You always like the flowers, Clem.” His big stupid grin wouldn’t go away. “But believe me, she’s pretty. The prettiest. I just have to find a way to see her again.”
“…How about we do our homework instead?” Time for a subject change, even if I hated homework.
But he talked about her the whole time–Lani this, Lani that–until I escaped to Mommy’s studio. Boys could be so dumb. I was really glad she was painting normal flowers, and not dumb random girls wearing them.
“I wish I’d been born fae,” she said. “Maybe in another life.” Did humans have more than one life? Daddy said that fae did, but what happened to humans after they faded away?
I climbed up into a wobbly wooden chair and watched her paint. “How come?” Not that I could blame her–I was prettier than all my classmates, and I could fly too if I wanted.
“It’s so beautiful there,” she said. “It’s like a dream. The colors, Clemmie–the ones here can’t compare. And I’d have so much more time…”
“Time to do what?”
She didn’t answer right away–she was probably thinking about what shade to use on a flower petal. “…To paint, silly goose.”
I thought she had tons and tons of time to paint already. If she wasn’t painting, she was almost always with Daddy, it felt like. But Fox said she was saying lots of weird things lately.
And the next morning, she said another weird thing in front of me.
“…Do I look old, Clemmie?”
“You look like a mommy,” I said, “which you are.” I didn’t say Mommy and Daddy in front of my friends at school, in case they’d think it made me sound like a baby–just at home, because that’s who they were.
Mommy really liked covering her face with makeup and wouldn’t leave the house without a bunch of different things, even though I didn’t think she needed all that stuff. I liked her without it the best. “Do you know what fae love above all else?” she asked softly.
“Beauty,” I said right away. “Daddy tells me every time I do another modeling photoshoot.”
“So he says that even to you…”
It was common sense. Fae were pretty and liked pretty things. So why was her smile all wobbly? “Don’t worry, Mommy,” I said. “You’re pretty too, for a human.”
We were interrupted by a scream from behind us. “Is that–is that a gray hair, weasel?” (They had weird nicknames for each other.)
“I tried to hide it,” Mommy whispered, but I was close enough to hear. She stood up and got really close to him. “I’m so sorry, Orlando.”
“For what, you little fool?”
Was I supposed to leave? Sometimes when Mommy and Daddy were together, it was like nothing and nobody else in the world mattered, not even me or Fox. This felt like one of those times.
“If only I’d been born fae…”
“Enough of this nonsense–but we’re moving, Lyanna. Immediately. Your human body should decay more slowly in an enchanted land brimming with vitality, and perhaps Darius–Sunflower–knows of something–”
“What about Fox and Clementine?” she asked. “We can’t just uproot them–we should wait until they’re older. They deserve to have normal childhoods and see their friends and grandparents…”
“If we wait for them to grow older,” Daddy said, as if I wasn’t right behind him, “then you’ll grow older too, Lyanna. And they’re fae, not human; this is hardly a normal childhood for them.”
But I liked all my friends and my teacher and Grandma and Grandpa and their raccoons… I’d never been to the fae world, unlike Fox, because Daddy said it was too dangerous. (Why was it too dangerous for me but not for Fox? Just because he was a boy?)
“Will you love me less the older I get, Orlando?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “But this is clearly the ideal solution. The king of the fae was promised a duke, and Sunflower claims the realm is on the verge of true peace–and no doubt my guidance will prove invaluable in handling fae court politics, now that most of the violence has been stamped out.”
“Most of it? Would you rather put our lives at risk than see me get old?”
“That–that isn’t what I meant, weasel, and you know it. I–I treasure you above all else…”
Even me and Fox? I wanted to run out of the room and go ask what he thought about this. He’d probably be happy, because he liked the fae world, and he could spend all his time with Griffin talking about dumb boy stuff.
“Please, Lyanna,” he said, taking big long steps to catch up to her. “I want us to be together. All of us. I–I can’t live without you.”
…Gross. Why’d that barfy stuff always work on her?
Fox was obviously more like Mommy than I was, with his dumb paintings and that sparkly look in his eyes when he talked about girls. Yuck. I was never gonna be like that when I grew up.
At least Splotch gave me an excuse to move when he nudged his way through the door…
“Lemme brush you,” I said in a low voice, not that my parents were even paying attention.
I didn’t go looking for Fox again until later that night, after Mommy and Daddy told us both (even though I already knew) that we were gonna be moving.
“Do you actually want to live there?” I asked. “Even though you’ll have to say goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa–and Lexie and Lena and all the other girls who have crushes on you? And some of the boys, I guess.”
“It’s pretty,” he said. “And we’ll probably get to live in the palace, or at least I can hang out with Griff there a lot. And I promised Lani I’d take her there someday.”
Ugh. Was that all he cared about? He knew her for like, a week or something. Maybe two. Boys were so dumb, even if they were my twin.
“But don’t you like it here too?” I asked. “I do. And I like being a model, and how all the girls in class want to be more like me, even if it means they try to copy my outfits and I can’t wear them anymore.”
“You don’t understand, Clem,” he said. “When you see the fae realm…it’s special. It feels like home, like you’re meant to be there. Life around humans just can’t compare.”
“It’s really that great?”
He looked up at the sky, like he was thinking about flying there. “It is. I promise.”
“And…I guess we’ll always have each other, right? So it won’t be too weird.”
“Exactly. Nothing to worry about–you’ll see.”
I rested my chin on his shoulder. I always felt better when he was around.
Fox was my twin, and I believed him no matter what.