Tancred's drowning from his POV. Some passages from Charlie Bone and the Shadow of Badlock.

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All characters are from Jenny Nimmo ©


Tancred's head hit the counter as water rushed into the room. The last thing he saw was Dagbert climb the steps, laughing, and a small bird land on his chest.

Why did he have to upset Dagbert the drowner? His head hurt badly as he came to.

'Aw, my head,' he groaned. 'Em, what happened? What are you doing here?' Emma always painted in the hours between lessons and supper, he knew that.


'Oh' replied Tancred as Emma let go of him and he landed in the water. It was cold, it should've woken him up, but Tancred wanted to sleep.

He was roughly pulled out the water by Emma, only to splutter water everywhere and land in the cold again, as Emma went to check the taps.

Sleep, thought Tancred as he fell into the icy cold water.

Emma shook his shoulders, Tancred woke, and he heard Emma talking.

'Tancred, you must sit up. You must. I have to get help, but if you fall into the water and I'm not here…'

Eyes wide open now, Tancred wanted to state the obvious, and he was so tired. 'Yes, Em. My… legs… are… under… water.' He started to close his eyes again when he heard Emma talk.

'Yes, but you must keep your head above. Can you walk?'

'Think so' somehow Tancred mustered the energy the stumble over to the chair beneath the vent; he couldn't think why it was there. He felt two hard objects being pushed under his arms.

'Who made these?'

Tancred looked down at the statues, 'I did. My tigers' he remembered making them the day before, everyone had loved them, even miss. 'They'll keep me safe, Em.' As Tancred began to fall asleep again, he saw a blur of feathers swoop by him.


Tancred dreamt of his life, his friends, the adventures he'd had.

He dreamt of the night of wind and spirits.

The night Charlie had gotten stuck in the ruin.

That was a year ago now; last year was good; he'd met Charlie, Livvie, Billy, Fido, Gabe and Em. 'Sander, them and himself made a team, he loved his team.

His friends.

They'd had adventures.

Amazing adventures.

They'd banished Emelia Moon (and met the great friend that the Emma beneath had turned out to be), they'd saved Henry Yewbeam, Ollie Sparks and Lyell Bone, Charlie's father.

Surely it couldn't be over for him now?

No, he'd stay alive.

Stay strong.

Tancred awoke.

Water had surrounded him, his arms were wet and he could only see the orange ears of his two tiger companions. But as soon as he had awoken, sleep wanted him back.

Tancred fought it.

He stood up, he breathed.

He fell into the water as he felt electrical sparks around him.

He was being lifted into the air.

He didn't see the teacher's faces but he heard their screams. He felt a tear land on his cold face. He heard Emma shriek with fear.

He heard his father promise his vengeance for his son's life. But he wasn't dead, not yet.

But he would let the others believe it.

He was lifted up into the air, the wind rushed around his body, but it wasn't lifeless, not yet. He was going to go out with a fight.

His father flew down from the strong winds carrying him, but the thunder carried on. His mother screamed. Tancred wanted to jump up to his mother, tell her to stop crying, to say he was not dead.

He felt Lysander's drums back in Bloor's, he wanted to run back, to tell his best friend he was alive, that his bed in their dormitory wasn't going to be empty forever. He remembered Em's scream, he wanted to ride the winds back to her and tell her it was going to be alright, to show the girl that he was alive. To show everyone that he was alive.

But he couldn't right now he could only sleep as his upset father carried his apparently dead teenage son up the stairs to his bed.

He could only sleep as his crying mother came and went, as she paced up and down the stairs only to eventually collapse down in to her husband's arms, still crying.

He could only sleep.

Tancred slept as three fire-coloured cats ran into thunder house. He slept as they swiftly climbed the steps, ignoring the distraught parents in the living room. He slept as they ran around the storm-boy's bed, creating a ring of fire.

Tancred slept as the flames sat on his bed, keeping him warm. He slept as the sun arose the next morning and the flames went back to their temporary home in Frog's Street.

Tancred slept as the days past, as doctors came to see him, as relatives grieved; as friends mourned. He slept as the people he loved went into battles, as two of his friends disappeared into paintings. He slept as only one friend came out.

Tancred slept for so long, until he could sleep no more.

He woke up.

He lost the feeling of wanting to sleep; his breeze blew around the room, around the house, around the whole street.

He ran to his mother in the kitchen, his mother cried as she saw her 'dead' boy well again. She cried for the last time that week; but not for sorrow, for joy.

His father cried as well, the first time that Tancred had seen him cry. The thunder man made a rainbow in the sky; he decided it was the end of crying for a little while.

Some of his friends' cried too, only the girls, but they cried nonetheless.

His best friend smiled a broad smile, his other friends laughed for joy.

Charlie and his uncle both shouted his name.

They had a great party that only his closest friends came to.

They all celebrated, it was a happy time now.

Because Tancred hadn't died, he'd only slept.

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