Read Power Play Online

Authors: Titania Woods

Power Play

.

Bloomsbury Publishing, London, Berlin and New York

First published in Great Britain in April 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

36 Soho Square, London, W1D 3QY

Text copyright © Lee Weatherly 2010

Illustrations copyright © Smiljana Coh 2010

The moral rights of the author and illustrator have been asserted

This electronic edition published in April 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

All rights reserved.

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A CIP catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978 1 4088 1069 9

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..

..

To Linda C., a glimmery friend

.

Chapter One

Twink Flutterby felt very grown-up as she and her younger sister Teena flew through the bright spring afternoon. For the first time, their parents were allowing her and Teena to fly to Glitterwings Academy on their own. Twink was a fourth-year student now, and they knew they could trust her to be sensible.

Her fourth year at Glitterwings! Twink shook her head in wonder. It hardly seemed possible that she'd been attending the famous fairy school for so long.

‘Oof! I liked it better when Dad flew with us,' moaned Teena. She was flying along slowly, weighed down by her oak-leaf bag. With her long pink hair and lavender wings, Teena looked a lot like her older sister – apart from her expression, which was very cross at the moment!

Twink grinned as she swooped to avoid a yellow butterfly flitting past. ‘We're almost there,' she said. ‘Look, there's the hill!'

The two sisters skimmed over the grassy slope and Glitterwings Academy came into view: a massive oak tree with tiny golden windows spiralling up its trunk. At its base sat a pair of grand double doors, open in welcome. Returning fairies hovered about the tree in rainbow clusters, laughing and chatting.

Twink sighed happily as she and Teena touched down on the front lawn. It was glimmery to be back – especially in the springtime, which meant a new Fledge season! Twink had been a member of the school Fledge team since her second year, and her wings tingled at the thought of playing the high-speed game again.

‘There's Zuzu,' said Teena, spotting her best friend. ‘See you later, Twink!' She sped off towards the second-year section.

Twink smiled as she caught sight of her own best friend, Bimi Bluebell. She was standing beside a tree root, talking to a fairy called Kiki. Grabbing up her oak-leaf bag, Twink skimmed around the tree root and landed at her side. ‘Hi, Bimi!'

‘Twink!' Bimi spun towards her. ‘Hurrah, you're here!'

The two friends hugged, bouncing up and down. Bimi had long, midnight-blue hair, and silver wings with golden swirls on them. Though easily the prettiest fairy in the school, she was very down-to-earth and not vain in the least.

‘Hi, Kiki,' said Twink as she and Bimi separated. ‘Did you have good hols?' It was strange to think how jealous she'd been of Kiki when the violet-haired fairy first arrived at Glitterwings – now she thought she was one of the nicest fairies in their year.

‘Glimmery!' said Kiki. ‘Have you checked in yet? We were just about to.'

The three fairies flew over to the fourth-year check-in area together, chattering about their hols. The fourth-year head was Miss Petal, their Flower Power teacher, and she greeted them warmly.

‘Welcome back, girls,' she said, ticking them off her clover-leaf list. ‘You're all in Bluebell Branch this year.'

Twink nudged Bimi with her wing. ‘That's perfect for
you
, isn't it?' she teased.

‘Bimi Bluebell in Bluebell Branch!' giggled Bimi. ‘Yes, that sounds about right. Shall we go up and have a look?'

‘You two go ahead; I'm going to see if Ivy has got here yet,' said Kiki. Ivy was Kiki's best friend, a green-haired fairy as artistic as she was.

‘OK – we'll see you up at Bluebell Branch!' called Twink over her shoulder as she and Bimi flew off. Skimming through the arched double doors together, the two friends swooped into the school.

As always, Twink found herself smiling as she took in her surroundings. The inside of Glitterwings Academy was a tall, golden tower, filled with light. For as high as the eye could see, fairies darted in and out of the tree's branches like brightly coloured birds.

Twink and Bimi spiralled quickly upwards, passing sleeping branches and classrooms filled with red-spotted mushroom seats. ‘I'm going to miss Violet Branch,' said Twink wistfully as they passed their branch from the year before. ‘Wasn't it glimmery, having our beds up in loft spaces?'

Bimi nodded. ‘But maybe Bluebell Branch will be nice, too.'

‘There it is!' said Twink, spotting a cluster of bright blue flowers hanging over a ledge. With a flutter of wings, she and Bimi landed and pushed open the door.

‘Oh!' gasped Twink.

Bimi was right. If anything, their new room was even nicer than Violet Branch! It was located in a section of bough that grew straight up, like a tower of its own. Up above, two round loft spaces encircled the walls, one over the other, each with four mossy beds. A large bunch of bluebells hung from the centre of the ceiling like a flowered chandelier.

Several of their friends had already arrived, and a chorus of voices greeted them. ‘Hello, Opposite!' called a fairy, flying down from the higher loft space to scoop Twink into a hug.

‘Hi, Sooze,' said Twink happily, returning the embrace. Sooze had lavender hair and pink wings – the exact
opposite
of Twink. The two had been best friends once, and were still close.

‘Oh, isn't this pretty!' exclaimed Bimi, looking around her. ‘Sooze, can Twink and I join you up top?'

Sooze grinned and lowered her voice. ‘You can if you want – but Mariella's up there, too.'

Twink and Bimi glanced at each other, and wrinkled their noses in unison. ‘Maybe we'll take the bottom loft instead,' said Twink. Though Mariella had improved greatly in the three years since they'd known her, the pointy-faced fairy could still be very irritating – though oddly enough, she and Sooze seemed to get on all right now!

Flying to the lower loft space, Bimi and Twink took mossy beds side by side. Each had a cluster of bluebells hanging over it, with a window to one side – and because of the round walls, each window had a different view.

To Twink's delight, she could see the school Fledge field from hers, just visible far below. Soon she'd be playing with the team again – she could hardly wait! Then Twink frowned thoughtfully. Who would their new Games Fairy be, now that Madge was gone?

‘Let me guess, Twink – you're looking forward to Fledge starting up!' said a clever fairy called Pix, who had one of the other beds in their loft.

Twink turned away from the window with a sheepish grin. ‘Is it that obvious?'

A silvery-haired fairy called Sili had taken the other bed, and the four of them chatted as they unpacked their things. ‘Oh, isn't it lovely to be Fourth Years!' exclaimed Sili, fluttering her wings with a rapturous sigh.

With an impish expression, Pix tucked a strand of red hair behind a pointed ear. ‘Yes, and you know what
that
means – we get to make our own uniforms tomorrow!'

‘I wonder what Sooze's will be like,' said Bimi, placing a bottle of wing polish on her bedside mushroom.

Twink giggled, imagining it. Sooze could be very mischievous at times, and would probably enjoy horrifying their matron, Mrs Hover, with some wild creation!

Ivy and Kiki arrived, taking the last two beds in the upper loft space, and soon afterwards it was time for the opening session. The Bluebell Branch fairies flew down together, joining long streams of other fairies as everyone headed towards the Great Branch. Twink smiled to see the First Years riding on their birds. They looked completely terrified!

The Great Branch was the largest branch in the school, with arched windows and gleaming wooden floors. The long room was filled with rows of mossy tables, each with a different flower dangling over it, so that the Branch was like a sunny springtime garden.

The Bluebell Branch table was over to one side. Twink perched on a spotted mushroom beside Bimi. Glancing around, she spotted Teena at the Daisy Branch table, and the two sisters exchanged a wave.

‘Good afternoon, girls!' said a deep voice from the front of the Branch. Silence fell as the students turned to face Miss Shimmery, their HeadFairy. The stately white-haired fairy hovered above a platform at the front of the branch, her rainbow wings gleaming like opals.

‘I hope you had a lovely holiday – and a very warm welcome to all our new students!' Miss Shimmery beamed down at the first-year tables, who managed nervous smiles in return. ‘Now, I have just a few announcements . . .'

Twink settled back on to her mushroom seat as Miss Shimmery went on: school uniforms would be required from tomorrow; there was to be no high-speed flying in the trunk, no bothering the water sprites who lived in the school pond . . . Twink thought with amusement that she could probably have given the talk herself. She practically knew it by heart now!

Miss Shimmery adjusted her sparkle specs with a twinkle in her eyes. ‘And as for our first-year students, Mrs Lightwing will sprinkle you with fairy dust immediately after breakfast tomorrow, so that you can have your first flying lesson.'

Excited whispers broke out among the First Years. The rest of the school grinned, remembering the wonder of flying for the very first time.

Miss Shimmery glanced down at her petal pad. ‘Finally, there will be a meeting of the school Fledge team here in the Great Branch tonight after dinner – you have a lot to decide, as I'm sure you're aware. And now, I think it's time for our meal. Butterflies commence!'

Raising her arm in the air, Miss Shimmery drifted back down to the platform. The double doors to the Great Branch swung open, and a bright stream of butterflies bobbed in, each carrying a tray of seed cakes or a pitcher of fresh morning dew.

‘What does the Fledge team have to decide?' asked Bimi as a purple butterfly placed a tray of seed cakes on their table.

‘We have to elect a new Games Fairy,' explained Twink. Madge had completed her sixth year at Glitterwings the term before, leaving the team leaderless.

Bimi's blue eyes grew round. ‘Oh! Who do you think it'll be?'

Twink shrugged, reaching for a seed cake. ‘Well, it's Cassi and Zayna's first year on the team; they were both reserve players last year. So I suppose it'll have to be either Vera or Romi.'

She frowned slightly at the thought. Though Vera was a good player, she was lazy – and Romi, while an excellent player, could be difficult to get on with. Neither choice was really ideal, but Twink didn't see who else it could be.

‘
You
should do it, Opposite,' put in Sooze from across the table. ‘You'd be better than either of those two moss brains!'

‘Me?' Twink's voice came out in a squeak. ‘Don't be daft, Sooze – I'm only a fourth-year student.'

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