20N

Things had gotten pretty dark for a while there, even looked hopeless at times, but they’d made it to a real fairy-tale ending. They had literally saved entire worlds, completed their journeys and could now go home. Nadine loved that on top of it all she got to share her dream world with her dad.

She showed him her tree-house and the portal platform which still held the portals to countless unknown worlds. The best part was showing him the playground right at the edge of the clearing. He told her how well she’d recreated it and told her about happier days spent there. Then her dad asked Nadine if he could show her what the playground had looked like when he was her age.

It was so beautiful. The bright smooth colors, the smell of the sun-heated metal without the rust, all brought a sense of joyful wonder. Nadine had been to Metropolis, she had seen magnificent structures created by human hands like she’d only dreamed of back in the forest sanctuary. Yet somehow the bright and new playground was her favorite.

Nadine got to laugh and play with her dad again for the first time in what felt like forever. She got to meet Horera’s gunslinger of an adoptive father, and actually see Andromalus as a human. They laughed and partied, feasted on the best delicacies the six of them could think of, and everything was finally perfect.

Eventually the girls broke off to converse on the playground while their dads and mentor stayed around the supernaturally magnificent fountain that had replaced the pond. Nadine’s dad and Horera’s seemed to have a lot in common and were swapping war stories like old buddies in no time. Andromalus was… A lot more stuffy. Though everyone, including the dads, liked Audrey and they could tell she respected Andromalus—so they all put up with the old windbag.

Horera and Nadine were sitting with Audrey on top of the jungle gym while their friend cast a spell. Audrey started with contained gestures before curling her fingers and exhaling a long breath. All three girls’ charm bracelets suddenly seemed more clearly defined than before, even slightly heavier. Nadine and Horera glanced at one another before looking back to Audrey.

“Did you-?” Nadine started.

Audrey nodded, “The bracelets are real now. We’ll still have them when we wake up this time.”

“Yippie!” Horera threw herself into a tight hug with Audrey.

Nadine slid around to join the hug, and keep Horera from toppling Audrey off the jungle gym.

“Are we going to see each other again?” Nadine heard herself whisper.

Embracing her friends, Audrey nodded again. “I’m going to try to come back to the garden tomorrow night. I want to tell you guys all about my first day back on Earth. It might be hard going back to school and not facing monsters and magic at every turn anymore!”

“Horera be here,” the dogling wagged her tail, “Horera love friends lots.”

“Yeah,” Nadine lowered her face into Audrey’s shoulder to hide her tears. “We really did it, and things are just going to get better from here! I want to share it all with you guys, and hear what you’re up to as well.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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