The sun shone in my eyes the next morning, making me squint. The birds were having a sing-off in my ears, and the horses were making lots of noise.
“Rise and shine, Avonmora!” Daniel said, appearing out of nowhere. I shaded my eyes to look up at him. He was already fully dressed in some kind of stable boy outfit.
“Daniel? How did you—?”
“While you were snoring peacefully in your—well, you can’t really call those things beds, can you—I woke up early to get a headstart. Jack showed me where the spare clothes are. All I did was rub some dirt in it and now I’m completely unrecognizable.”
“Still the same Daniel to me,” I said as he helped me up. I brushed my hand down my bushy, out of control brown hair, no doubt making it worse. “Where are the costumes?”
“In the storage bin down by the disposal boxes,” Daniel said, pointing down the hill.
In thirty minutes, I was looking like a residential horse girl. Daniel and I were fully dressed as stable hands, brushing a caramel coated horse. I had a cloth dipped in water and was wetting the horse’s hair. Daniel was sitting on the ground, brushing the horse’s hooves.
“Good morning, Avonmora,” said Jack, coming into our stall. “Sleep well?”
“A little too well,” Daniel said, standing up. “She’s a snorer.”
“And you’re a sleep talker, Derwent.”
“You screamed in your sleep last night,” he said, smiling.
“That wasn’t a dream, I was screaming at you,” I retorted, laughing.
Jack was watching us with a mystified look on his face. “And how do you two know each other?”
“Derwent’s my brother,” I said, quickly sobering.
“Oh,” said Jack. “How do you both have different last names, then?”
My hand froze and the sopping cloth dripped onto the ground. “Our parents are weird,” I said, looking at my boots like they were the most interesting thing in the world.
“I can tell,” Jack muttered before gathering his brushes and leaving.
“That’s a serious plot hole that you should have thought of when you said I was your brother,” Daniel said.
“You were the one who named me Avonmora Ducksomething!” I protested. “Talk about plot holes!”
“You know what, I’m proud to have you as my sister,” he said, grooming the horse. “How many unlucky guys are there in the world who aren’t that close to you?”
I turned red, staring at the horse’s fur and thinking about what he had just said.
“Amber Melanie Geller, did I just make you blush?” Daniel teased, nudging me.
“Oh, don’t flatter yourself, Daniel Benjamin Jordan-Hart!” I said, flicking him with the wet cloth.
Daniel gasped. “You did not just disrespect your brother like that.”
“You thought that was bad? I’m about to get a whole lot worse,” I said, grabbing some hay from the stable floor and tossing it at him.
Daniel froze. “This means war.”
And that’s how we ended up in the palace gates, one hour later, out of breath and exhausted but still in an uncontrollable state of laughter.
“Amber! Daniel!” shrieked a familiar voice.
Daniel was the first to recover, looking up at the speaker. “Fauna, where did you come from?”
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you two!” she said, sounding distressed, and completely ignoring his unsensible question. “Briar has gone missing!”
“Briar Rose?” I said, standing up. “Today’s her birthday! Shouldn’t she be at the castle?”
“Yes, she should,” said Fauna, wringing her hands worriedly. “This morning a fairy showed up at our door with a bouquet of flowers as a gift…I’m kind of concerned about it.”
“What harm would some flowers be?” said Daniel.
“It could be disguised as a trap,” Fauna explained. “It could be sharp and sting Briar, making her fall asleep for one hundred years.”
“Has she touched it yet?” I asked worriedly.
“No, she wasn’t found in her bed at all this morning,” Fauna said, turning pale. “Do you think she’s already fallen asleep?”
“Couldn’t be, the whole kingdom is supposed to fall asleep when she does,” said Daniel.
Both Fauna and I turned to him. “How did you know that?” Fauna asked.
Daniel reddened under his curly hair. “Just a lucky guess,” he said.
“Let’s go to King Stefan,” Fauna said, turning to leave. “Maybe he’ll know where she is.”
As we followed Fauna to Briar Rose’s castle, I turned to Daniel. “How did you know the whole kingdom is supposed to fall asleep?” I whispered.
“I have three little sisters, remember? They watch this movie at least once a day.”
“That makes sense because they’re all under the age of seven,” I said, “but you’re fifteen.”
“And I don’t watch that movie with them anymore!” he protested. “Sometimes I just hear a bit from my room.”
“I don’t need to be your sister to know that’s such a lie, Derwent.”
A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “You’ll thank me later.”
When we arrived at Briar’s palace, I saw it didn’t look much different from Philip’s. Same basic structure, same outline, same stable and barn location. The only difference was that the whole courtyard was a mess. People were running around wildly, chickens were loose and shedding feathers everywhere.
“Your highness, where are you?” said a lady in a high pitched voice. She had red looking wings sprouting from her back, and I guessed she was also a fairy. Every few seconds her wings would rustle and she would jump about three feet into the air.
“That’s Flora, I’m guessing,” Daniel whispered to me. “She’s the one who likes red. And Merryweather’s the one who likes blue.”
“I will never understand you, Daniel.”
“Quick, the birthday feast is about to start!” said a loud voice. A lady standing at the fountain waved frantically for everyone to see her. “Whether Princess Briar decides to join or not, we’re starting at this moment! Get your things together, let’s go!”
If chaos could multiply itself by ten, it did. Everyone was scrambling to get inside, gathering their gifts, shooing the chickens, whom I suspected were only there to add to the mess.
Daniel and I glanced at each other and shrugged, following Fauna and everyone else into the palace. No one seemed to notice us.
As we were rushing in, I heard a clink! One of the fairies dropped her gift behind me. I turned around to pick it up, but she was gone. I shrugged, turning to the gift. It was a round blue box with a bright red bow on it. Something about it made me feel pleasant.
“What is that?” Daniel asked me as I picked it up.
“I have no idea,” I said, unwrapping it carefully.
“Then why are you opening it?”
“I don’t know, I just want to see what it is.”
It was a music box. It had a faint melody already coming from it. La la la di dum di dum, it hummed gently, over and over. I felt dizzy watching it, so I turned the knob and opened it.
“Amber, what are you—”
“Ouch!” I exclaimed, dropping the music box. It shattered at my feet.
I clutched my finger, which was bleeding. Something sharp had just poked me.
“Amber!” Daniel said, steadying me. The room got a bit dimmer, and I started to feel delirious.
“What’s happening?” I said to myself.
“Amber, can you hear me?” I saw Daniel saying. I could read his lips but no sound came out.
My eyes started drooping, and I collapsed onto the settee near me. The last thing I knew was that his hand was in mine. I took one last look at Daniel before slowly falling asleep.
Author Notes: Sorry I kind of forgot about this whole thing...hopefully you didn't forget the plot...
Stay tuned for part 9 tho! (second to last part!)