A/N: once again, "Children of the Red King" belongs to Jenny Nimmo. I only play with little Charlie's hair when I'm bored. Also, my sinuses are going out of whack and making me feel a little bad.
Charlie found himself awake, in the middle of the night, once again. He looked around and didn't see anyone in the room. He frowned and sat up. A flash of light lit off outside the window and startled him out of his bed. Then, a figure appeared out of the gloom and stepped into the moonlight.
The long dark hair and the cherub like face were instantly recognizable. Ada Isidore, the little French girl in the drama department with the ability to tell the future, was standing in front of him in the strip of moonlight covering the floor and wall not far from his bed. He found he couldn't move when he looked into her dark eyes, which seemed darker than usual, as if there was no life in them.
"Ada?" asked Charlie as he blinked in confusion at the girl.
Ada didn't move, she held her hands in front of her, her purple cloak almost covering her hands. She lifted up a hand and pointed out the window as another flash of light went off. It didn't feel like a storm was brewing, as there was no sound of thunder, so Charlie was confused as to what was lighting up the dorm so vividly.
He tried to walk toward her, but found he still could not move. He looked to Ada again and frowned. She didn't have any emotion on her face whatsoever. She still pointed out the window, however, as though telling him to look.
"I can't move, Ada," he said, hoping that whatever was keeping him in place would go away.
Ada nodded and then put her hand down. "The future and past have come together. The future is not from this time, however. It is from another future with another past, but a past the same as the past."
Charlie frowned. What did she mean? The past and the future had come together? How? "I don't understand, Ada. What are you talking about?"
"The future, Charlie," she said and smiled faintly. "It is a sad future with many regrets. It is troubled with many things and is trying to help while not certain if he should."
Charlie frowned. "It's a person? Someone came from the future and appeared here?"
Ada smiled faintly again and walked backward into the dark shadows of the room. Charlie could move again and walked after her, passing in front of the window he'd seen her standing in front of. He looked out and saw a pair of purple eyes with square pupils gazing at him, snakes writing all around her head like hair. Charlie shot backwards against the end of one of the beds, gazing at the figure in fear. "Wha..what?"
The figure faded away from the glass and was replaced by a shining sword, beautiful and powerful. Behind it stood a knight and it grabbed the hilt of the sword and disappeared. The images kept fading in and out. A large man with huge muscles, fighting a seven headed water dragon, a Japanese warrior with a long sword taking a swing at the air, a Greek witch with a long cloak and elf ears holding onto a multicolored curved blade, a boy with reddish brown hair forming a bright sword in front of him, though Charlie couldn't see his face. Then, finally, a man with oddly cropped pale hair faded in after the boy disappeared, swinging his spear in an arc and bringing it down to strike. He grinned and showed odd red eyes, eyes Charlie knew, but didn't know where he'd seen them.
When the young man disappeared from the glass's reflection, Charlie was left staring at the empty sky. The stars glittered in the clear fall sky as he gazed at the moon. What had all those people been? One looked like something he'd read in class not too long ago, a creature named Medusa who could turn men to stone with her gaze.
Charlie's heart seemed to stop as the glass shattered in front of him, bright light blazing through the glittering shards. His eyes widened in realization. Medusa. They were all images of heroes of the past, though the boy he didn't recognize. Was he King Arthur? Why couldn't he see his face?
The shards seemed to flow past him in slow motion, cutting his cheek, though he couldn't feel it. They collected on the back wall behind him where the glass arranged itself into the form of a great tree, leaves glistening from the light reflecting off the shards. He turned around and looked out the window, seeing the Red Knight sitting on his white horse.
Charlie snapped awake and sat up in his bed. He panted as he rubbed his face. He could see the knight on the horse in his head still. The Red King and his wife, Queen Bernice. That was the Red Knight and his horse. The other things he saw, he couldn't hold onto them. It was as though they were fading away as fast as they had appeared.
He looked around and saw the boys in the dorm asleep. It was night still and the moon shone through the windows. He looked up and saw a little bit of writing show up in the shadows. He blinked and sat up more. "Naren?"
Dr. Bloor's father, Bartholomew Bloor, had gone away to climb mountains when he was younger. He'd fallen off one and was nursed back to health by the people there. When he came back home several years later, he found his own son was turning into just what he'd left home to get away from. He went back to China and took a wife; they adopted a strange little five year old girl who was named Naren. This girl was also an endowed, her gift being able to send messages through shadows to people she had a connection with. If she had a personal item from them, she would be able to send them a message any time the moon was out. They had left when the men went out hunting for the "wilderness wolf" and shot down Asa's father while he was trying to distract them from his son, who was caged up in a cave somewhere. Bartholomew Bloor took his family and the large number of animals they had and left to be someplace else where nothing could bother them, only to come back briefly in a beat up white van to take Asa and his mother away home in the north.
Now that he was watching a message of Naren's come across the wall in shadows, Charlie wondered if Naren and her family were back at the old farm they used to have in the forest.
"Naren, are you back?"
Charlie, we're not back, but I was able to get to you now because we are someplace safe.
Charlie frowned. "What about Asa and his mother?"
The mom and the boy went off home and we haven't seen anything of them yet.
Charlie was getting even more uneasy. He looked to Dagbert and saw him shift slightly. "Good bye, Naren," he said softly.
Words scrawled across the wall in a bit of a hurry.
He's come back, Charlie. I saw him come through on his own. He stopped by to say 'hello', but he went off again. I think he might be at the town already, maybe even the school.
Charlie read and rubbed his head. That confirmed that Asa really did come back and probably to see Morgan, his girlfriend. "I'll keep watch, Naren. Good bye."
Good bye, Charlie.
Charlie laid back and rubbed his head some more. With Asa back, they had more to their side, but that also put him at risk of being captured again by Manfred, or worse, killed.
Asa Pike found the school locked up tight. The moon was full and his body was that of a beast. Gray fur covered his body as she padded around the outside wall of the school, sniffing and nosing around for any way in. His clothes were hidden along with his bag. He had food in there for himself to eat while he figured out what to do, but it wasn't going to last long.
He sat back on his hind end and looked up at the window where he figured the girls' dormitory was. Or, really, it was more like a row of windows all along the wall. He put his paws up on the rock wall and sniffed. He smelled perfume and soap, hairspray and various other things, confirming that this possibility could be right. He could faintly smell a bit of heather and rose in the mix, the smell of Morgan MacGregor's usual perfume. It was hard to tell, though, given just how many smells he was encountering. If he wasn't so used to the miasma of smell already, he was certain his poor nose would be bleeding and rendered useless.
Asa pulled away from the wall and snuffed, moving back to where his bag was. If he couldn't get into the school to get back to class, he would wait until the weekend and then come in on Monday with the rest of the students. He rooted through his bag and bit down on a sandwich, pulling it out slowly before holding it down with a paw to munch. If he couldn't spend the night at the school, he had to figure out where he could stay until school let out on Friday. He gulped down his sandwich and rubbed his nose with a paw before looking around.
He heard the sound of someone walking. He moved his head around to find who was out and about and saw a tall, well built, man walk out of the forest and toward the school. He perked up his ears and crouched slightly, not sure if he should be wary or not. He smelled like a human, but he was someone Asa had never seen before.
The man stopped and turned his head toward Asa, seemingly watching him. Asa crouched more to the ground as the man just shook his head and walked away. Maybe he thought he was some stray who happened to be on the ground, but then, Asa didn't exactly look particularly dog-like. He almost didn't look wolf-like, except that his head looked like a wolf. Sort of, anyway. Maybe he was a caretaker like Mr. Weedon was and knew Asa was a were-beast and would be out at night sometimes. If he was that sort, then why didn't he come at Asa? Wouldn't they be notified that Asa was not on their side anymore?
Asa decided not to take his chances; he gathered his bag in his mouth as best as he could and ran off. Fire burst to life right in front of him. He skidded to a halt and looked behind him. Manfred glared at him as he walked closer. "It seems I'm getting better," he said as he smiled coldly, "It seems I'm getting some very interesting powers."
Asa growled and felt the heat of the fire behind him. His yellow eyes gleamed as he snarled at Manfred. Manfred, for a moment, looked genuinely afraid. Being clawed to pieces until you were nearly unrecognizable would do that to a person, as the Red King's three pet leopards, the Flames, had done to him when he had tried to harm Lyle Bone, Charlie's father. Asa used the moment of indecision to make a run for it. He vaulted over the fire and ran out through the paved courtyard to the main gates of the school. Manfred yelled and ran after him, but Asa was far faster in this body. Even in human form, he was very fast, though he was limited in his movement.
When Asa finally stopped, he was in front of Morgan's house. There was a light on inside the home, a candle was lit in the window. He padded up to the front door and scratched the door with his claws as loudly as he could. One thing a human could do that a were-beast couldn't, that was knocking on doors and ringing doorbells. He kept scratching on the door before putting his bag down on the doorstep and jumping up against the door, though that wasn't hard to do, given his size.
Finally, the door opened. He picked up his bag and looked up at Mrs. MacGregor with his best puppy dog pout and wagged his tail for a better effect. She rolled her eyes at him and stood out of his way. "Come on in, you little mutt," she said as she closed the door behind him. "Just be happy that my husband isn't home to see you here. He would throw a royal fit!"
Asa put his bag down and scrambled over to her, rubbing up against her and putting his paws on her stomach as he panted and wagged his tail. He would have laughed if he wasn't just glad to be someplace safe. He had heard that Mrs. MacGregor was a healer and surely a healer wouldn't turn away a poor puppy with a school bag in his mouth, especially if that poor puppy happened to be her daughter's boyfriend. Mr. MacGregor scared him, but Mrs. MacGregor always treated him with some bit of gentleness. She patted him on the head and shooed him away from her. "Go ahead and sleep wherever. When light comes, cover up, I'm sure that bag must include your clothes, Asa Pike," she laughed, walking up the stairs in Number Thirteen Filbert Street.
Asa made himself at home on the couch and curled up with his nose in his tail. As he drifted to sleep, he thought of the man that he'd not seen before and dreamed Manfred was trying to kill him by burning him on a stake.
When Friday came, Charlie was able to go home with the rest of the students at Bloors. He had managed to not get a detention at all the rest of the week. He walked out the doors, happy to be able to go home for a good weekend, his friend Fidelio Gunn beside him, grinning that impossibly large grin of his. Another thing that made Charlie happy was that this time, when he came home, his dad would be there and they would be able to be a real family once again. Soon, they would have their old home fixed up and Charlie would live there with his father and mother and Maisie, his mother's mother.
He hopped onto the bus as Setanta came up behind him and Fidelio. "Come on, won't you even give me the time of day?" He was apparently flirting with yet another girl.
"Leave me alone, please," said the impatient voice of Eunice Vertand. She walked past Charlie and Fidelio to settle behind them with an exasperated sigh.
Setanta McRoeg wasn't the slightest bit deterred. He grinned and those red eyes of his had an almost maniacal glint in them. "I can make you want me," he said as he went toward her. He didn't get very far though.
Charlie wasn't sure what he had seen. One moment, Setanta was about to push to the seat where Eunice was sitting and the next, Arturia Pendrake was behind him and had swung something hard and glittery down on his head. Charlie had heard the faint sound of metal, like a sword coming out of its sheath, when it happened. Arturia, however, didn't look like she had anything in her hands at all and Setanta was rubbing his head and glaring at her. "I can't believe you're my cousin," Arturia muttered bitterly before sitting down.
Setanta rolled his eyes and walked over to Gabriel and sat next to him. "Wicked witch, she is. That hurt, too," he mumbled, rubbing his head again. Arturia shot him a green eyed glare that made Setanta twitch and settle back like a trained dog. Arturia turned back around as Morgan got on the bus and settled behind Gabriel.
Setanta turned around and grinned at Morgan. Morgan looked up at him and blinked those big blue eyes of hers in confusion. "Er—what?"
Setanta hugged the back of the bus seat and waggled his eyebrows. "Will you help me get close to Eunice there? She's in your orchestra, right?"
Morgan glowered at Setanta and flicked his forehead. "Get back down in your seat," she said.
Setanta yelped and rubbed his forehead as he glared at Morgan. "Mean girl! Never trust the Scottish, I say! Or the English!" Then, he flopped back into his seat, sulking.
Morgan saw Arturia turn around and shake her head, rolling her eyes, before sitting back in her seat again. Morgan would have laughed if the hyperactive teenager wasn't so… hyper.
Fidelio seemed amused by this display; Charlie found it a little disturbing. Setanta reminded him of a hyperactive puppy, trying desperately to get attention and then sulking comically when he didn't get it or when he got swatted on the nose for it. Arturia reminded him more of a very tiny mother lion, taking a great big paw and slamming it down on poor Setanta's head when he got out of hand. The fact that they were cousins made him want to laugh. The pair couldn't be anymore different and Setanta was Irish while Arturia was very English. Maybe they were distantly related, but still close enough to be somewhat comfortable with each other.
The buses moved out and Charlie found himself on then end of Filbert Street in no time. He got off with Morgan and the pair of them walked down the block to their homes, Morgan stopping just before Charlie did a couple of houses down the street. "I'll see you later, Charlie!" she called and waved at him before walking up the steps to her house. She immediately shouted in surprise when a tall, lanky, red haired boy bounded out and caught her around the middle. "ASA!?"
Asa grinned and kissed her right there on the door step. Charlie decided that it was time to turn away and walk up the shaded steps of his house, a walnut dropping down on his hedge like hair and bouncing off as he made his way into his house. It was a good thing he had that head of hair of his, otherwise, that walnut might have hurt.
Maisie, his grandmother from his mother's side, came at him with a big hug and a wet kiss on his cheek before ushering him into the kitchen for a snack. Soon, his mother and father came in and hugged Charlie, happy to see him. His grandma Bones was gone once again, it seemed. She probably made up with at least one of her dreadful sisters, the Yewbeams, and went to live with one of them. It was a happy end to an otherwise odd and eventful week for Charlie. He wouldn't have had it any other way.