Okay, I am in the middle of Darke, so no reviews with spoilers, kay? I love these books. I can't do the awesome Magyk font on , so… no reviews complaining about that either please! Ugh, Microsoft Word hates their names. Don't worry, I still love them!

Disclaimer: I do not own Septimus Heap. But Beetle's still the hottest thing on two legs.

Septimus is in the Library, tidying up as usual. Suddenly, the door bursts open in a flash of purple light, and Marcia's figure appears in the doorway.

"PREFORM A TRANSFORM CHARM, OR YOU CANNOT BE MY APPRENTICE," she says in a booming voice quite unlike her own. Septimus is startled to find that the Library had disappeared, and now there is only he, Marcia, and a table with a large purple tablecloth in front of him. On the table rests a feather quill.

"TRANSFORM THIS PEN INTO A TOAD. YOU HAVE THIRTY SECONDS. GO."

Septimus positively freaks out. He has never done a Transform before in his life, much less something this difficult. Transforming something small into something larger is hardest of all. Frantically, he concentrates on the feather before him.

"Transform! Come on, come on... Transform!"

"Twenty-two... twenty-one... twenty..."

"I don't even know the spell! Oh... Transform! Transform!" A shiver goes through the feather, but it doesn't even turn green.

"Sixteen... fifteen..."

"Transform!"

"Twelve... eleven... ten... nine..."

"Transform! Transform!"

"Six... five... four..."

"Transform!"

"Three... two... one..."

"Transform... no... please... Transform..."

"Sep?"

"Huh?" Septimus sits bolt upright, then lies back down in relief. Only a dream, he says to himself.

"Just me, Sep."

"Hi, Jenna." Jenna smiles, tucking her long black hair behind her ear, and gazing down at her adopted brother with violet eyes.

"What time is it?" Septimus asks.

"Way too late for you to be in bed, dear brother," Jenna teases.

"Hey, Sep, you're up!" Another voice joins them, and soon Nicko Heap is standing over Septimus's bed as well. Septimus rolls over, moaning, and puts his pillow over his head.

"Go away," says his muffled voice. "It's too early."

"It's nearly lunchtime," Nicko replies, grinning and plopping down on the end of the bed. "And it's high time you got up. The rest of 'em and visiting today, remember? They're here already, but you, my lazy brother, are still in bed," Nicko teases him. "They" are the other Heap boys, except for Simon-Sam, Erik, Edd, and Jo-Jo. When Septimus pointedly refuses to leave his comfortable bed, Nicko lets out a loud, practiced sailor's whistle.

"Hey, guys! Sep's awake!" Four more faces join the growing crowd around Septimus's bed, all framed in wild blond hair. Septimus, meanwhile, can't see them through the pillow still on his head, and is currently pretending to have fallen back asleep.

"We came all the way from the Forest for this?" asks Jo-Jo incredulously.

"Watching grass grow is more fun than watching our lump of a brother," yawns Erik, faking boredom.

"How's about we wake him up-Heap style?" asks Edd, grinning mischievously at the others. Beneath the covers, Septimus cringes. If he knows Nicko, he knows all his brothers. And he knows that this can't be good.

"On three," says Nicko, muffled but still audible from Septimus's place under the pillow. "Three... two..."

Septimus suddenly remembers his dream. Oh, no! The Transform! And is that Marcia counting down? "One..."

"Transform!" Septimus shrieks frantically, bursting out from under his blankets. There's a flash of light and a lot of green smoke, and everyone begins coughing. When the smoke clears, Nicko is gone. In his place is a small, acid green toad.

"Ah!" Jenna and Jo-Jo scream. Edd and Erik take a step back. But Sam, though startles, grins.

"Cool! I didn't know you could do Transforms yet, Sep." Septimus only stares at the-toad-that-is-Nicko, as he has been doing since the smoke cleared.

"I didn't either, believe me," he replies. The Nicko-Toad croaks once, and jumps towards the nearest person, who happens to be Jo-Jo.

"Ah!" Jo-Jo shrieks again, falling over backwards. "Ack-no! Hey, stop it! Quit it, Nicko... frog, whatever you are! Cut it out! Gerroff me! Hey, no that tickles! Hee hee... stop! Get out of my shirt! Ah!" The other Heaps snicker for a bit at Jo-Jo's predicament, but finally, Sam offers an outstretched hand and pulls his brother up. Jo-Jo is red-faced and panting, his hair even more messed up than usual because of all his rolling about on the floor.

"Thanks for nothing," Jo-Jo says sarcastically. Edd grins.

"Sorry, Jo, but you looked pretty funny with a toad in your shirt. Even if that toad is Nicko." Jo-Jo suddenly gets a very strange look on his face.

"I had Nicko in my shirt?" The boys burst out laughing again, but Jenna reaches down and scoops up the Nicko-Toad.

"You wouldn't know how to Transform him back, would you, Sep?" she asks. Septimus's face falls.

"No, sorry," he replies, thinking hard. They've got to change him back somehow...

"Marcia!" says Erik, snapping his fingers. "We'll take him to Marcia! She'll turn him back quick as anything." The others chorus their agreement, but Septimus hesitates. He has no doubt that Marcia could change Nicko back, but he isn't exactly looking forward to seeing Marcia at the moment. That dream still seems remarkably realistic.

"Something wrong, Sep?" Jo-Jo asks, placing his hand on his brother's shoulder. Septimus shakes his head and stands up straighter, getting out of bed properly. After changing into his Apprentice robes, the group sets off, Jenna still carrying the Nicko-Toad. They were off to see Marcia.

"You did what?" Marcia shrieks, snatching up the Nicko-Toad and inspecting it/him closely. "How did you-"

"I don't know, Marcia!" says Septimus, rather fed up with everyone turning to him for explanation. "I don't know how I did it, and I don't know why I did it, and I don't know how to change him back-I don't even know exactly what I did!"

"Sh, calm down, Sep," says Jenna, resting a hand on her brother's shoulder. Septimus tries to calm down.

"Sorry, everyone. I just want Nicko back."

"Quite all right, Septimus. Now," says Marcia, "I assume that you want me to change him back?"

"Oh, yes, please, ever so much, Marcia!" choruses the Heaps. Marcia continues to inspect the Nicko-Toad.

"It will be difficult. Transforms were never my strong point. After all, we don't even know if he kept his own mind. That can vary based on the strength of the Transform." She pokes the Nicko-Toad, and in response, the Nicko-Toad sticks its long pink toad tongue out, latching the tip onto the tip of Marcia's nose. Marcia shrieks and almost drops the Nicko-Toad.

"Well, he kept his own mind, all right. Now..." She sets the Nicko-Toad down on a table, and chants a few words. A flash of light and a puff of purple smoke later, Nicko is back, sitting on the table.

"Nicko!" everyone shouts, and the young Heap is enveloped in hugs and cries of relief.

"Mph!" Nicko grunts, and everyone backs away enough to give him space to breathe, except for Septimus. He continues clinging to Nicko frantically.

"Oh, I'm ever so sorry, Nicko! Oh, please please please forgive me!" Septimus cries. Nicko laughs, prying his younger brother off and hopping down from the table.

"S'okay, Sep. I almost forgive you." He says this offhandedly, but everyone, including Septimus, still catches the "almost" in there.

"Whaddya mean, you 'almost' forgive me?" Septimus asks fearfully.

"Well, there is the matter of letting me in Jo-Jo's shirt. I think I'm scarred for life." He aims a sly grin at Jo-Jo, who blushes and sticks his tongue out at him. Nicko turns back to Septimus.

"I might never be the same again. And for that, you must be punished!" Nicko finishes dramatically. Septimus gulps. Then, in one swift movement, Nicko lunges.

"C'mere, you!"

"Ack! No, Nicko, stop! Stop tickling! No fair!" Septimus manages to get up from the floor and bolts out of the room, Nicko hot on his heels.

"Help! Save me!" Septimus laughs.

"Get back here, scoundrel!" Nicko replies in a fake angry voice, leaving the other Heaps and Marcia laughing.

*THE END*