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Book 1: Fuoco e Acqua

Chapter Text

The early morning sun had just begun to rise over the towering city blocks and skyscrapers of the bustling coastal city of Gardenia, the shining light adding to the already soaring temperatures that are associated with mid-summer. The air was visible, radiating off surfaces like pavements or roads. Those who dared to be out and about in such sweltering heat went about their journeys quickly, hoping to get away from the burning sun and into the sweet, cool embrace of air conditioners.

 

For those inside, air conditioners were already blowing at full speed to compensate for the hot air blanketing the environment, be in in offices, schools, shops or homes.

 

Inside a bedroom in a townhouse at 10922 Palmer Road, it was no exception.

 

The air conditioner blasted away in a room that was in a state of organised chaos. Piles of paper and books filled the two desks, one with a laptop and the other art sketches. More sketches and other papers dotted the notice board hanging on the wall. Books stood haphazardly against one another along a bookshelf, several more lying scattered across the room among other random items of unknown origin.

 

Against a wall that was lined with even more sketches and the occasional poster, was a single bed with the owner of the room sleeping soundly, impervious to the world that was already on the move outside. By the foot of the bed, in a basket filled with cushions, was her pet rabbit, also sleeping soundly and dreaming of carrots.

 

The only sounds came from both the sleeping individual and her rabbit, release of breath and light snores. Sadly, the peaceful undertone was broken by the sudden blaring of an alarm clock sitting by a bedside table.

 

The rabbit was rudely startled from his slumber, tumbling out of his basket in a heap with a loud yelp. The sleeping form on the bed stirred, then groaned at the incessant ringing echoing around the room. From the covers, a hand reached out, fumbled for the Godforsaken thing, and silenced it.

 

Sleep permanently swept away, the bed shifted. The form mumbled incoherently, pushing down the sheets and sitting up.

 

Long, orange-red hair tussled up and sticking out in all directions from the movements of slumber, sixteen-year-old Bloom Davis emerged into the new day, yawning loudly and rubbing her eyes.

 

She stoned for a few moments, letting her sleep-addled brain slowly power up. Her rabbit bounded up to her bedside, tugging the sheets.

 

“Good morning Kiko…”

 

The rabbit waved his front paws and hopped about.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Let’s get you breakfast…”

 

Bloom pushed the sheets aside. Slipping on her bedroom slippers, she got up from her bed. With Kiko leading the way, she shuffled out of the room, switching off the air conditioner as she went.

 

“…and for me too,” she added with a yawn.

 


 

 

Bloom would think that she had a pretty ordinary life.

 

Sure, she was adopted, but that meant little in terms of how her life had progressed ever since her father found her in a burning building all those years ago.

 

She had loving parents – her protective, sometimes embarrassing firefighter father Mike, and her kind, steadfast florist mother Vanessa. She went to a regular high school, made friends, dealt with boring teachers and enemies, sat through equally boring lessons (except for Art, which was her favourite), and getting caught up in the drama one would associate with teenage hormones and hallway gossip.

 

So yeah, Bloom had a pretty ordinary life…

 

…one that was admittedly dull, though.

 

Bloom couldn’t pinpoint where it started, but she yearned for adventure. Gardenia was her home world, and she wondered what it was like outside of it. In her childhood, stories of distant realms and lands fascinated her, and as she grew older, she often expressed her desire to travel the globe and explore what awaited in foreign countries.

 

Alas, mostly due to the overprotective nature of her father, Bloom hardly ever ventured out of Gardenia, let alone leave the country, by herself. She knew it was with good intentions, but like every adventurous teenager stuck in a bird cage, she subconsciously felt melancholic and wishful for even a glimpse of freedom.

 

This summer was no different. While all her friends were out of town hopping all over the world, she was stuck in Gardenia.

 

Not as fun.

 

Every morning had been more or less the same so far. Bloom shuffled down the stairs to the ground floor, where the smell of breakfast being made wafted through. Usually, her parents were the ones to prepare breakfast. Bloom wisely kept away from the kitchen, as nearly burning the house down in a massively-botched attempt at cooking was an ordeal she nor her parents ever wanted to repeat again.

 

“Good morning, Bloom,” her mom smiled from the papers.

 

“Morning,” Bloom waved sleepily.

 

“Morning, sweetheart!” her dad called from the kitchen.

 

“Morning to you, Dad.”

 

Bloom helped herself to a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast already sitting on the island counter. Plopping herself down onto the dining table, she dug in sluggishly. Kiko rushed to his food bowl, filled with chopped carrots to his liking.

 

“Bloom, dear,” said her mom, “Sarah is unable to make it for the opening shift today due to a family emergency. I’ll need your help covering for her until this afternoon, okay?”

 

“Yes, mom,” the redhead replied half-heartedly.

 

Yep, a dull, boring life indeed.

 


 

A whole universe and then some away, someone else is also just starting a new day.

 

In a bedroom completely bedecked in posters, merchandise, and themed household items of the nation’s number one hero, fifteen-year-old Midoriya Izuku rose from his themed bed sheets, hand reaching over to his bedside table to silence his hero-themed alarm clock.

 

He was a huge hero nerd, so sue him.

 

Still not quite fully awake, Izuku slouched out of bed and shuffled his way out of the room. Making a pit-stop in the bathroom to release the night’s waste, he shuffled out into the living room where his mother Inko, a petite, somewhat chubby woman with long hair the same emerald-green colour as her son, was just placing the morning’s breakfast of grilled fish, natto, miso soup and rice on the dining table.

 

“Ohayō, Izuku, did you sleep well?”

 

“Ohayō, okāsan, like a log.”

 

“Well, let’s eat then.”

 

“Itadakimasu!”

 

Mother and son dug into their food. Izuku, in between bites, recounted the dream he had the night before, where the nation’s number one hero, All Might, had taken him on as his sidekick, and they went around saving people and the world from calamity and villains. Inko listened to it all with a fond smile.

 

Even though her heart ached.

 

Izuku was by far an ordinary teenage boy, which might not sound like something that was of great concern.

 

But when eighty percent of the country had some kind of superpower, or quirk, limitless to the imagination, and your son was part of the ever-shrinking twenty percent that didn’t have a quirk, being ordinary was more akin to a curse, something that others reviled. And indeed, things haven’t been smooth-sailing for the Midoriya family.

 

Inko remembered that fateful visit to the clinic, where the family doctor pronounced her son ‘quirkless’, extra toe-joint and all. She remembered her son sitting by the computer, video of All Might’s latest rescue playing, tears falling liberally as he asked her if he could still be a hero like him. She remembered hugging him tightly, her own tears falling as she apologised over and over as if it was her fault.

 

Her husband seemed to think so, packing his things and storming out the moment the news broke. The divorce was done within days.

 

On her own, Inko struggled to keep herself and Izuku afloat, taking on more shifts at the hospital she worked at to cover the expenses. She couldn’t be there for her son all the time, but she had faith in Izuku to keep himself safe, even with his hero-watching obsession.

 

If there was one thing that made Inko smile in this darkness, it was her son’s love for heroes, especially All Might. Izuku’s room reflected that, his mountain of notebooks of hero analysis laid its testament, and his habit of spectating hero versus villain fights.

 

It might have been compensation for his lack of quirk, but in Inko’s mind, if her son was happy, so was she.

 

“I gotta head out first, okāsan, there might be another hero fight on the way to school,” said Izuku, putting down his chopsticks.

 

Inko smiled genially, “Stay safe, Izuku.”

 

“I will!”

 


 

Bloom bid farewell to their latest customer, a slightly senile old woman who loved to regale her life stories to just about anyone who would listen, which honestly, was just herself. The stories might have been repeated over and over like a broken record, but Bloom didn’t find it in her nature to snub the old woman. It was common courtesy, after all.

 

Releasing a sigh, she grabbed a cloth from the counter to wipe the shelves, careful not to knock over any of the potted flowering plants on display.

 

Busy with her task, Bloom almost didn’t hear the door opening with the bell tinkling.

 

“Welcome to-”

 

Her greeting died the moment she realised who had just stepped into the shop. Someone whom she would snub any day.

 

Her school’s resident diva, spoiled rich-girl and neighbour, Mitzi.

 

“Well look who it is, the loser.”

 

‘God give me strength,’ Bloom groaned, before forcing politeness into her words, “Can I help you, Mitzi?”

 

The black-haired, bespectacled brat snorted, “Oh, it’s nothing. I just happened to see you outside from my brand new scooter,” she pointed at the shiny, purple vehicle with her thumb, “And I just thought I’d check in on how the resident loser is doing, working away her summer holidays, just before I fly off to Hawaii for the next two weeks.”

 

Bloom’s patience was beginning to wear thin, “And are you interested in buying anything?”

 

“Buying?” Mitzi scoffed, “As if I’d buy anything from this dump. I know of better places, not like this hovel your mother runs.”

 

Bloom’s patience snapped.

 

“Well then, can you kindly get the fuck out of here, you snobbish bitch?!”

 

Storming forward, Bloom grabbed Mitzi by the shoulders. Ignoring her squeals of indignation, Bloom bodily pushed her out of the shop, taking pleasure in watching the bitch stumble onto the sidewalk. Before she could retaliate, Bloom slammed the door shut, locking it.

 

Mitzi was at the door in seconds, pounding it and screaming wildly. Bloom ignored her, going back to her previous task. Mitzi would eventually stomp away after several moments of futile effort (and the weird looks she was getting from other passers-by), hopping onto her scooter and driving away.

 

“Who was that?”

 

Bloom turned, her mom just coming out of the backroom with pots in hand.

 

“Mitzi, who else?”

 

Vanessa’s eyes immediately hardened, “Did she cause trouble for you?”

 

“A little bit, but it was just her normal snobbery,” Bloom replied, going back to the shelf, “And I pushed her out when she wasn’t intending to buy anything.”

 

A smile graced Vanessa’s lips, “Good for you, Bloom, to not let anyone take advantage of you. Now, why don’t you finish up with the dusting, then you can go off. Derek’s supposed to come by soon.”

 

“Gee, thanks mom!” Bloom cheered, mood picking up instantly.

 


 

Izuku certainly wished he had the strength to stand up for himself.

 

But that was almost impossible, when faced with a bully with a powerful quirk and his lackeys.

 

Said lackeys had him in arm-locks, preventing him from moving an inch. The bully, Bakugou Katsuki, had his latest hero analysis notebook in his hands, sneering at the thing as if it had insulted his mother.

 

How ironic was it that Katsuki was once Izuku’s childhood friend and playmate?

 

Ah, but that was before Katsuki got his quirk, Explosion, and Izuku’s diagnosis of being quirkless. Much like the rest of society would have done, Katsuki turned on him right off the bat. What followed was ten years of bullying, intimidation, injury and insults. All heaped onto Izuku’s soul that lived through each day bruised and beaten.

 

And today, was no exception.

 

Hero Analysis Volume 13?!” Katsuki laughed, “Fucking Deku, you think you get anywhere with stalking heroes like some kind of freakish creep?”

 

The lackeys laugh.

 

“K-Kacchan…”

 

“You just don’t get it, don’t you, useless Deku,” Katsuki scorned him, “You. Are. Nothing! Just a quirkless freak who gets in the way! You think you can be a hero without a fucking quirk? Well…”

 

Izuku watched in horror as the blonde exploded his notebook, charring it completely.

 

“…you should just give up, and stay down.”

 

Katsuki tossed the destroyed notebook away. Izuku watched it fly out the opened window.

 

“Let’s go, extras, he isn’t fucking worth it,” the blonde turned on his heel.

 

The lackeys throw Izuku to the side. He crashed into a desk, hitting his head against the edge as he fell. Izuku’s body had just landed on the floor when Katsuki, at the doorway, glanced back towards him.

 

“You know what? I just had a fucking great idea! If you’re so desperate to be a hero, useless Deku…”

 

Izuku was in too much pain to get up, but he heard everything, especially what was said next.

 

“…pray that you will be born with a quirk in your next life, and take a swan dive off the roof!”

 

The green-haired boy said nothing, even when his tormentor stomped off and slammed the door shut behind him. Alone, with blood seeping from a cut on his temple, Izuku quietly caved, tears falling rapidly.

 

His weeps echoed in the empty classroom.

 


 

If there was one thing Bloom appreciated about travelling on her bike, was the wind blowing through her hair as she sped down the road. Kiko also seemed to enjoy it too, sticking his head up from the front basket and letting the passing wind blow his ears backwards.

 

Sure, the current wind was searing hot thanks to the burning temperatures, but Bloom would take whatever she could.

 

Also, the place she was going to now that she was free from shop duties had plenty of shade.

 

Gardenia’s park was smack-dab in the middle of the city, expansive in size, and full of trees. So tight was the foliage in some areas of the park that sunlight barely managed to seep through the gaps. It was much cooler as a result, and it was the best place for Kiko to run about and get exercise.

 

Cycling through the gates, Bloom sighed with relief as the sun disappeared behind the tree branches, the cooler temperatures embracing her sweat-lined clothes and body. There were a couple of other park-goers going about their own business whom she passed, but paid little attention to. She just wanted a quiet corner for herself and Kiko.

 

Turning around a bend, she found the perfect spot. A wooded area, still close enough to the path but far enough from the main hub of human activity to be fairly isolated and quiet.

 

Stopping her bike, Bloom picked Kiko up from the basket and placed him onto the grass. He sniffed around for a bit, before bounding off deeper into the trees. Resting her bike against a large oak, Bloom sat down and leaned back onto the trunk. Opening her bag, she pulled out a book on mythological creatures and a container of peaches.

 

Opening to the bookmarked page, Bloom bit into her first peach. Hopefully she’ll get a spark of inspiration from reading. It has been a while since she last picked up her pencil. Hopefully her art skills hadn’t rusted over yet.

 

Finishing her peach, Bloom had just reached for the second one, when Kiko came running back, screeching loudly.

 

“Hm? Is something wrong?”

 

The rabbit tugged at her pants leg in a right tizzy.

 

“Did you see a dead animal again?”

 

The last time Kiko had been so frantic was when he stumbled upon the freshly dead corpse of a pigeon in the same park. Bloom had it buried as a sign of respect.

 

Kiko seemed to shake his head, tugging her pants leg a bit more before bounding off again, as if trying to get her to follow him. Bloom eventually got up, placed her book down, and hurried after him. She didn’t want to lose him in the thicket of trees, after all.

 

The deeper she went, the closer the trees appeared to converge. It was quite dim, leaving Bloom to squint her eyes to see where Kiko was going. She didn’t know how far in she had gone, but she showed no sign of stopping.

 

Until, in the distance, there was a flash of light, and a human shout.

 

Momentarily startled, Bloom hurried on. Kiko was standing by a tree in front of a clearing, waving his front paws in urgency. Reaching the tree, Bloom peered into the clearing from behind it.

 

She couldn’t believe her eyes at what she saw.

 

“What the…?”

 


 

 

“Can a quirkless person like me become a hero like you?”

 

So much had happened to Izuku after he managed to pick himself up and retrieve his destroyed notebook from the school’s koi pond, where it had landed.

 

With a broken heart and spirit, he trudged his way home, only to get attacked by a villain made completely out of slime in an underpass. But just as he was about to drown and become a morbid host for the villain, All Might, of all people, showed up and blasted the villain away with one terrifying punch.

 

Naturally, as any fan of the nation’s number one hero would, Izuku had so many questions. But All Might had little time, and had to leave. So the green-haired boy did want any crazed fan would do when their idol was about to take off into the air.

 

Grab onto the man’s leg and fly up into the stratosphere clinging on for dear life.

 

Realising Izuku’s foolish move, All Might was forced to land on the roof of an office building downtown. Scolding the boy for his reckless act, the number hero coughed, and proceeded to give the boy a heart attack by seemingly exploding into a cloud of smoke, leaving behind a bony, emaciated figure in its wake.

 

After calming the frantic Izuku down and proving he was actually All Might, the skeletal man, Toshinori Yagi, told him about his current state, and the villain that caused the grievous injury to his side that shortened his time as All Might per day.

 

Toshinori wanted to leave it at that, and was already heading towards the stairs, when Izuku asked that fateful question.

 

Izuku had to know. Surely his childhood idol, whom he revered from the moment he could walk and talk, the Symbol of Peace, would have the answer to the question that has been the only source of light in the darkness that his life has been ever since he was four…

 

…right?

 

Toshinori had an answer, and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

 

“I’m sorry kiddo, you can't be a hero without a quirk."

 

Izuku’s world cracked…

 

“You should be realistic. Being a police officer is noble too…”

 

…splintered…

 

“…or a doctor, you get to save lives that way as well.”

 

…fractured…

 

“All I’m saying, my boy, is that you need to give up this dangerous dream, before you get hurt.”

 

…and finally shattered.

 

Izuku was stock-still, almost catatonic. He barely heard the rooftop door close behind the skeletal form of the Symbol of Peace, nor did he completely register his legs giving out on him, sending him crumpling to the floor. For the second time that day, tears fell liberally from his eyes.

 

But his sobs were much louder.

 

Again, he was all alone. No one to hear his cries of despair. The world continued moving, impervious to his distress, impervious to the tatters of his dream destroyed by the man he idolised, impervious to him.

 

He was after all, in everyone’s eyes, a quirkless, useless, Deku.

 

Sometime later – he didn’t know how long – the tears stopped flowing, and the sobs quieten. Izuku picked himself up from the floor, stood for a moment, and began walking towards the railing at the edge of the roof, where virtually nothing separated it from the long drop to the sidewalk below.

 

Izuku reached the railing, and looked down. For some people, looking straight down from a great height is dizzying and downright terrifying. But for Izuku, he felt nothing. So broken he was, so lost in catatonia, that all fear and inhibition had drained away with his tears.

 

He was a shell, hollow, empty of purpose…

 

…empty of life.

 

Izuku put one foot on the railing, and then the other. With a quick hoist, he was sitting on the railing, teetering over the precipice. There he sat, in perfect equilibrium. Izuku took a breath, and pushed himself off the railing.

 

Everything seemed to slow down at first. The initial feeling of weightlessness, the single moment he was airborne, before gravity took its hold, and the fall spend up.

 

The wind howled in Izuku’s ears, his body twisting, turning and tumbling in his descent towards the awaiting ground, growing closer and closer with each second. Everything was spinning, he couldn't differentiate up from down, right from left. He also couldn’t tell if he was also hearing the screams of people watching him fall, it was all one huge roar of noise, completely indecipherable.

 

A roar that seemed to get louder and louder, until it almost deafened him.

 

Until, a flash of white light, the roar ending abruptly, and the world disappeared.

 


To Be Continued.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Bloom was sure she was dreaming.

 

She had to be.

 

Because there was no way, in this life or the next, that what was happening in front of her in the clearing could even be remotely real. It simply was not possible. 

 

Or maybe, she had somehow stumbled into the set of a movie being filmed. 

 

Yes, that must be it. Just a movie scene being filmed about a female protagonist fighting a massive ogre with yellow skin in maroon overalls and a small army of ghoul-like creatures. The ogre and the ghouls looked so realistic, but Bloom chalked it up to excellent costuming, makeup and animatronics. But then...where were the other components that made up the filming set? The cameras? The lights? The sound equipment? The director and the crew?

 

Something wasn’t right here. And animatronics were not supposed to move, jump and leap so freely as if they have a will of their own.

 

Bloom eyed the “actress”. She had long blonde hair tied into twin pigtails, lightly tanned skin that was littered with bruises, cuts and scrapes, dressed in an orange sleeveless crop-top and low-cut shorts with matching knee-high heeled boots, all sparkling with an almost obscene amount of glitter that it hurt Bloom’s eyes to stare for too long. She had sky-blue bands around her wrists and a matching headband. There were a pair of three-pointed appendages protruding from her upper back. Bloom squinted, they looked like wings that she had seen in drawings of fairies. The blonde was also holding a large sceptre that had sun-motif circle at the end.

 

“Get the fuck back!”

 

Bloom watched in surprise as the sceptre glowed, and a blast of yellow light shot out from the end of it. The light hit one of the advancing ghouls, flinging it backwards into a tree. There was the distinct sound of bones cracking upon impact.

 

Okay, something was definitely up here. Man-made props weren’t supposed to shoot beams of light. And animatronics were supposed to be made of metal that withstood heavy impact, not of bone that cracked under much lighter force.

 

Bloom instinctively reached for her phone in her pocket, maybe the police could come and sort this out. After all, real or not those ghoul-like creatures were, the blonde girl looked like she needed assistance, even though she was doing a good job keeping the little monsters at bay. But instead of feeling the sleek shape of her smartphone, Bloom only felt the empty texture of her jeans pocket. 

 

Damn it! Now she remembered. She left her phone in her bag that she had placed on her bicycle basket!

 

‘Alright, Bloom, calm down,’ she thought to herself, ‘Don’t make any noises. Just quietly get back to my bicycle, and call the police. Don’t let any of them see you.’

 

As quietly as she could, Bloom crept away from the clearing, taking a quivering Kiko with her. She only made it a few steps, when the blonde girl spoke again.

 

“The power of Solaria will never fall to your putrid hands!” 

 

Solaria? Bloom blinked at this. She didn’t recognise the word, though it sounded like the name of a fantasy realm from a mobile game. Her musings were interrupted when the ogre roared.

 

“We’ll see about that, Princess!”

 

The ogre broke into a run, barrelling straight towards the blonde. For such an overweight, lumbering figure, he could run really fast, thought Bloom in surprise. Similarly, the blonde girl did not expect such breakneck speed from the ogre. The split-second distraction proved costly, though. She did not see the incoming fist until it was too late.

 

Bloom gasped quietly as the punch sent the blonde girl flying backwards, landing painfully on the ground with a loud thud, the sceptre flying out of her hands. “Get her!” the ogre ordered. The small ghouls screeched wildly, charging forwards and pouncing upon the downed girl like rapid lions on a giselle, pinning down her arms and legs. The girl struggled, but the small creatures were deceptively strong, keeping her in place. Bloom felt her chest constrict, the girl was in deep trouble now.

 

“Get off of me, you freaks!” 

 

Smiling triumphantly, the ogre stomped forward, and picked up the fallen sceptre. He towered over the restrained blonde, laughing uproariously.

 

“You’re time’s up, Princess. The sceptre is mine now!”

 

Bloom didn’t know how she did what she did next. Her rational mind was thrown into the backburner, as did the urge to flee back to her bicycle and hightail it out of there. All that was in her head was that she had to help the blonde girl somehow, before she was hurt even more. The redhead quickly looked about. She needed some sort of weapon, heaven knows what would happen if she intervened empty-handed.

 

Her eyes fell upon a few medium-sized rocks not too far away. Perfect.

 

She went to pick them up, and dashed into the clearing.

 

“Hey! Leave her alone!”

 

The ogre whirled around at her voice, only to be brained by one of the rocks she threw. He stumbled back a few steps, but did not lose his grip on the sceptre. 

 

“I don’t know who you fuckers are, but get the fuck away from her!” Bloom shouted, throwing another rock.

 

The ogre blocked the rock with a sturdy arm. Growling at this new menace, he roared, “Ghouls, eliminate that puny Earthling!”

 

A pack of four of those small creatures jumped from the restrained blonde and rushed towards Bloom. She only had one rock left, and she threw it with all her strength, hoping to catch all four at once. Unfortunately, the creatures were too fast, and the rock sailed harmlessly away.

 

Now without ammunition, Bloom found herself in trouble now.

 

Her chest constricted further with growing panic. She looked around desperately, hoping for something that could be used as a weapon to fend off the advancing ghouls. But she found none. There was nothing she could use to protect herself from the coming danger. The ghouls were getting closer, claws and sharp teeth glinting in the afternoon sun. Bloom’s heart was about to explode, her memories flashing before her eyes - her childhood growing up in Gardenia, going to school, her friends, her parents… Oh god, she was never going to see them again, wasn’t she? She was going to die here at the hands of these monsters, and her parents will be none the wiser, until the hours trickle into days, and a search is carried out, but her body will never be found, destroyed by the ghouls that were now taking their leap at her.

 

Acting purely on instinct, she threw out her hands, eyes shut tight, screaming, “Leave me alone!”

 


 

Midoriya knew he had been falling. That was the rule of physics, gravity pulls everything down. Anything that started high up would fall straight down towards the first surface in its path. For him, it would have been the pavement, or perhaps some poor soul who had the unfortunate luck to be directly beneath him before impact. Either way, the outcome would have been messy and gory.

 

But it never happened.

 

Instead, the world rushing towards him seemed to blow apart in a flash of white light. And suddenly, as if he was in a car with the driver going full throttle on the accelerator, everything sped up. 

 

His body rushed past and through bursts of colour and light that spread and receded in waves. Everything was shaking and spinning. He didn’t know if he was falling straight or in any direction that was possible.

 

Midoriya also heard screaming ringing his eardrums as he fell through the tumultuous void. It didn’t take him long to realise that it was he who was screaming.

 

He didn’t know how long he had been falling for. He only knew something was happening to the void. The bursts of colour and light were growing more erratic, the shaking and spinning growing more violent. It was as if the void was tearing itself apart. 

 

And it did.

 

In one huge implosion, the void shattered in a flash of light. There was a huge roar as the wind reappeared and whipped around Midoriya’s ears. The light faded, and a world came into view. Midoriya could see buildings of varying heights, and what looked like a large park directly beneath him.

 

And he was falling towards the trees.

 

Midoriya screamed louder.

 


 

Bloom expected it to be futile. Throwing her hands out would do nothing to stop the incoming ghouls.

 

She didn’t expect the constriction in her chest to snap. Nor the surge of searing-hot energy that raced from her chest, through every nerve right to her fingertips. 

 

Nor did she expect said searing-hot energy to manifest as a roaring dragon made of fire, swirling around her and forming a shield. The leaping ghouls screeched the moment they hit the shield, disintegrating into ash in seconds.

 

Bloom opened her eyes at the screeches. She immediately noticed the small pile of ash, just as the shield flickered and disappeared. She stumbled backwards, staring at her hands in shock.

 

“Did I just do that?” 

 

Seeing two of their comrades reduced to cinders, the remaining ghouls holding the blonde girl down panicked, retreating behind the ogre lest they be next.

 

For a moment, no one moved.

 

Then came screaming that didn’t belong to any one of them. In fact, it appeared to be coming from the sky.

 

Bloom looked up, and blanched. The screaming was coming from a person, hurtling down to the clearing, straight towards the ogre.

 

“Hey w-”

 

She didn’t get much further than that. The person hit the ogre’s head with a loud shriek, bounced off, crushed an unlucky ghoul before rolling for several feet on the ground and coming to a stop. The ogre teetered dazedly for a moment, toppling backwards in a dead faint with an almighty crash, the sceptre falling out of his grip. The remaining ghouls scattered into the trees, screeching wildly.

 

Bloom was still frozen in shock, as was the blonde girl. It was only when the person started to groan painfully that she quickly sprung into action.

 

“Oh my god, are you alright?!”

 

The redhead was at the person’s side immediately. The blonde hesitated for split-second, going over to the unconscious ogre to take back her sceptre, before hurrying over to the unknown person.

 

“Can you hear me? Are you able to respond?” Bloom asked the person again.

 

He (Bloom guessed they were male) grimaced, his head lolling side-to-side slightly. His eyelids slowly lifted open, irises staring up at her blankly.

 

“Thank heavens, you’re conscious,” Bloom was tremendously relieved, “Can you tell us your name?”

 

“M-Midoriya...urgh...Izuku…”

 

“Midoriya, are you in any serious pain? Does it hurt anywhere?”

 

He was silent for a moment, but he shook his head no. Midoriya tried to prop himself up, but he appeared to have some difficulty doing so. Bloom and the blonde girl quickly helped him up to his feet, holding him securely so that he didn’t keel back down to the ground.

 

Now standing at his full height, Bloom was able to get a good gauge of his appearance. He was about as tall as she was, had short green hair in a mess of curls, and emerald-green irises. He was wearing a black gakuran, and red high-top sneakers.

 

Midoriya looked around half-dazedly.

 

“W-Where am I?”

 

“You’re in Gardenia,” Bloom replied, “This is the main city park.”

 

“Gardenia…” Midoriya stared blankly, before his eyes widened, “Wait...Gardenia? T-This isn’t Musutafu!”

 

Now it was Bloom’s turn to be confused.

 

“Mu...su...tafu? Where exactly are you from, Midoriya?”

 

“Japan...um…”

 

“My name’s Bloom.”

 

“Bloom-san,” Midoriya tested her name on his tongue, “My home city is called Musutafu. It’s part of the capital Tokyo in Japan.”

 

“But that’s on the other side of the globe!” said Bloom, “Were you on a plane, Midoriya? You fell from the sky, so was there some accident? Are there any other survivors?”

 

“Well...it’s not quite like that…” he scratched his cheek uncertainly.

 

The blonde girl turned around at that moment, and scowled, “Um...I hate to interrupt this unexpected investigation about how someone was able to survive a fall from a great height, but we’ve got company again.”

 

The ogre had regained consciousness. As he picked himself with a low growl, the ghouls that had run off were scampering back into the clearing. The blonde girl readied her sceptre, standing firm despite showing signs of exhaustion. Bloom and Midoriya took refuge behind her.

 

“Bloom, if y-you can repeat what you just did, that would be great f-for all of us” she saidin between breaths.

 

“But I don’t know what that was!” Bloom replied frantically.

 

“What do you mean you don’t know what that was?!” the blonde asked incredulously, “It’s your powers, that’s what it was!”

 

“But I’m human-”

 

Bloom’s protestations were interrupted when the ogre roared and charged towards them. The blonde girl swung her sceptre down, shooting an arch of light that halted the ogre. Another slash of the sceptre and a second wave of light threw the lumbering beast backwards into a posse of trees, the force strong enough to snap the trunks like rotten toothpicks. 

 

“That’ll teach you to have your minions lay their filthy claws on me!” she smirked, despite the waver in her voice.

 

Unsure of how to summon that strange energy from earlier again, Bloom made use of a sturdy tree branch she managed to procure after it broke off from the tree she had kicked a ghoul into just moments before. She was able to whack another one of the ghouls into a rather jagged boulder, the impact destroying the creature’s body in a splash of dark liquid.

 

Midoriya was unsure of what was going on. One moment he was ending his life, then he was falling through some strange void, then he was spit out into this unfamiliar territory, and now he was fighting off these weird creatures with two strangers. He had so many questions, but he realised quite quickly now wasn’t the time for asking.

 

While the two strangers were busy fighting, none of them noticed a trio of ghouls approaching - headed straight for him.

 

Like Bloom before him, Midoriya felt his chest constrict. He had no means of defending himself or the girls. He didn’t have a quirk. He didn’t have a weapon - real or improvised. He was powerless, completely useless. Unlike Bloom, no one would ever come to claim his body. He was alone in this unfamiliar world, just like the one he disappeared from. And he’ll leave this world alone, with perhaps only the two girls to witness that.

 

The three ghouls leapt for him. Midoriya shrieked, and crossed his arms over his face in a weak attempt to protect himself, unaware of something rupturing inside of him.

 

A tsunami of energy raced to his arms, bursting forth in a spiraling geyser. A haunting trill of a phoenix melded with the sound of the rushing water, followed by the screeching of the ghouls as they were blasted away into a large tree, snuffed out like a candle extinguished. The immense force also snapped said tree’s trunk clean in two, toppling it with a loud crash.

 

Midoriya startled, breaking the flow of water. He stared at the broken, drenched bodies of the ghouls, then to his hands. 

 

Did...that just happen?

 

Was that...his quirk?

 

No, it can’t be. He had the extra toe-joint, he remembered the x-ray vividly from that fateful doctor’s visit. It couldn’t possibly be a quirk. Things just don’t work like that.

 

But then, if it wasn’t a quirk…what was it?

 

A shriek interrupted his runaway train of thoughts. No one had noticed it, but a single ghoul had managed to stay clear of the fighting while its comrades were either driven back or obliterated. In the chaos, no one saw it creep towards Bloom, leap onto her leg, and bite down on it hard.

 

Bloom bucked her leg wildly to throw the ghoul off. The blonde girl turned her sceptre towards it, but Midoriya was faster. He grabbed the creature and yanked it off, tearing off a piece of Bloom’s pants leg with it.

 

Rolling on the ground, the ghoul righted itself and fled to the safety of the ogre and its remaining comrades, the piece of fabric still in its mouth. A sickly magenta light enveloped the group of creatures.

 

“You may have gotten lucky this time, Princess. But next time, I’ll be taking your sceptre for sure!” the ogre declared fiercely just as he and the ghouls faded into the light, which then dissipated with a crackle.

 

“I would like to see you try again!” the blonde girl made a rude face at the spot where the ogre once stood. Satisfied, she turned to Bloom and Midoriya, both staring blankly, and unsure of how to comprehend what had just happened.

 

“Well, I can’t thank you both enough for coming to my aid. If my sceptre was stolen, it would be-”

 

The girl swayed on her feet, her voice abruptly cutting off as the exhaustion finally overwhelmed her. But just as she was about to crumple to the ground in a dead faint, Bloom rushed forwards and held her steady. At the same time, she was enveloped in a soft light. In a split-second, her clothes have morphed into a new get-up altogether. The crop-top had a different design. Her shorts elongated into a two-tier, orange ankle-length skirt. The boots became platform slippers, and her headband fanned out into a tiara.

 

“Hey, are you alright? Say something!” Bloom shook the girl gently, but got no response.

 

Kiko, who had been hiding ever since his owner got involved in the battle, came out to stare at the blonde with great curiosity.

 

“We can’t leave her here,” said Bloom worriedly, “She needs help immediately. Midoriya, I need you to help me hold her up.”

 

Despite being completely confused and unsure of what was going on, but the urgency in Bloom’s voice got him to the ready, “Ah, right!”

 


 

In another dimension, the ogre stumbled into the misty void that he was instructed by his mistresses to report back to after his mission. The air was gloomy and oppressive, not helped by the fact that he had failed his mission. He waited nervously, eyes flirting about the void. In the darkness and the mist, he couldn’t tell when or where his mistresses were going to appear from, if they were. At times, he only heard their voices, while other times he saw their silhouettes. 

 

It was never certain, and perhaps that was on purpose, to keep him on edge.

 

“It’s clear that you’ve failed us again, Knut,” came an ice-cold voice, making the ogre shrink back slightly, “Care to make your excuses for your latest screw-up?”

 

“I almost had it! My ghouls were able to hold her down and I got the sceptre!” Knut tried to explain his case.

 

“Then why isn’t it with you, you useless meathead?!” came a second voice, harsher than the first, but equally unforgiving. A hard smack to Knut’s head followed suit.

 

The ogre rubbed the sore spot, “Y-You see, your evilnesses, this Earth girl interrupted and threw rocks at us-”

 

“What?” a third voice interrupted him, “Did you say a human caused you to lose the sceptre?!”

 

“But she was no ordinary Earth human!” Knut winced from his ears ringing, “She had magic powers!”

 

“Knut,” the first voice addressed him with immense exasperation and frustration, “How many times must we knock into your empty, cobweb-filled skull that humans don’t. have. magic powers?!”

 

“But it’s true!” Knut attested, “She made this shield of fire that burned two of my ghouls to ashes.”

 

The three figures seemed to consider this.

 

“Anything else?”

 

“There was another human too.”

 

“Another one?” the second voice asked incredulously.

 

“Yes,” Knut nodded fervently, “It was a boy this time. He fell from the sky and-”

 

“Knut!” the third voice interrupted agitatedly, “I swear if you are trying to pull a fast one on us…!”

 

“But it’s true!” the ogre insisted, “He fell out of the sky, and hit me on the head…”

 

“Well at least we now know whatever semblance of brain cells he has is now lost,” the second figure muttered to the first.

 

“...and this boy has magic powers too! He made this geyser of water that took out three of my ghouls!”

 

The three figures appeared to have a silent conference with this new information.

 

“Did you see what these two humans looked like?” the first figure demanded.

 

“Um...I-I know the girl had long red hair, but the boy...um…”

 

“You useless lout!” the third figure snapped, smacking the ogre again, “This doesn’t help us in finding them at all!”

 

“Oh but your evilnesses, one of my ghouls managed to return with this,” Knut pulled the piece of pants leg fabric from his overalls pocket quickly, hoping not to get hit again, “With a hunting troll, we should be able to find them right away!”

 

Again, the three figures conferenced between themselves, leaving the ogre to wait out the tense silence with growing anxiety.

 

“Alright then,” the first figure finally addressed him, “Your new mission will be to take the first hunting troll you can get your hands on, and find those two pesky humans. Bring them both , and the sceptre back to us. And Knut, you better do a damn good job this time round, or else .” The threat didn’t need to be said for the ogre to understand the consequences of failure.

 

“I won’t let you down, your evilnesses!” he saluted, before retreating from the void.

 


 

 

 

“You’re going to have to run that through me again, sweetie. You’re saying your blonde friend is a fairy? Like with wings and magical powers that I’ve seen in your drawings?”

 

“Yes Dad, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for the past ten minutes!”

 

“And that guy friend - Midoriya - just appeared by falling out of the sky?”

 

“Again Dad, yes!”

 

Mike was, naturally, confused and disbelieving of the account his only daughter had told him to explain the unconscious blonde girl taking up the living room couch and the nervous green-haired teen milling about in the same room, unsure of what was happening.

 

“You’ll have to forgive me, Bloom, for thinking this is all a bit out of this world and impossible to believe.”

 

The redhead sighed. Of course her father would think this was just a bunch of made-up fantasies. That, or she had gone completely insane. But at least her mother seemed to be taking things in her stride, cleaning up the blonde girl’s injuries and offering Midoriya a cup of tea.

 

“It must have been a frightening experience for you, dear,” the older woman said as she passed him the steaming mug.

 

“Thank you, Vanessa-san,” Midoriya took the mug and took a sip, “I don’t know what happened. All I remember was...tripping, then falling through this void with exploding colours and lights. The next moment, I’m falling out of the sky, and then I’m here.”

 

He left out the part where he had been taking his own life. He didn’t want things to escalate further than necessary right now, given his more pressing questions about his current predicament.

 

“Honey, you seriously can’t actually believe that Midoriya somehow fell from the sky, and that he and our daughter fought off an ogre and a bunch of ghouls, creatures that don’t exist in reality, to save a girl who is allegedly a fairy, right?” Mike said to his wife in disbelief.

 

“Well then, how do you explain the both of them suddenly appearing in our home?” Vanessa retorted steadily.

 

“All that was true, I witnessed it.”

 

All eyes turned to the blonde girl, who had just regained consciousness and was now propping herself up into sitting position.

 

“How are you feeling, my dear?” Vanessa asked kindly.

 

“Much better, thank you,” she replied, “I’m Stella of the Kingdom of Solaria by the way, and you must be Bloom’s parents?”

 

“Yes, we are.”

 

“Alright then,” Stella smiled, “ So I was saying, I was attacked by this smelly ogre and his ghoul minions, because they were after my sceptre, which is central to my powers as the Fairy of the Shining Sun. And they would have gotten it too, if it weren’t for Bloom intervening. She used her powers to incinerate the ghouls and keep them back. Then, Midoriya came falling out of the sky and knocked the ogre out. He helped us out big time by keeping the ghouls at bay. Faced with the three of us, those foul creatures hightailed out of there with their tails between their legs.”

 

Silence followed for several moments. Mike broke it by rubbing his head to nurse the headache growing there.

 

“Alright, that’s it,” he said firmly, “I’m calling the hospital and the police. You clearly need help and we need to find your parents.”

 

Stella huffed indignantly as Mike strode over to a telephone sitting on a nearby side-table. She raised her hand, which glowed a light yellow and sparkles fluttered from her fingertips. Mike had barely picked up the receiver, when it too glowed. In the blink of an eye, it had turned into a bouquet of flowers.

 

“Do you believe me now?”

 

Mike stared at the admittedly beautiful flowers with slackened jaw. Vanessa was surprised too, but she seemed to register what had just happened much faster than her husband.

 

“Bloom, why don’t you take Stella and Midoriya up to your room for a bit? Your Dad and I need a private moment to sort this out,” she suggested whilst going up to her stupefied husband.

 

“Alright, Mom,” Bloom replied, moving towards the staircase, “Follow me, you guys.”

 

Stella got up from the couch and jovially followed the redhead. Midoriya quietly thanked Vanessa for the tea, retreating with the two girls to give the parents the privacy needed.

 


 

“So I have powers, huh?” Bloom remarked as she sat down on her bed, “Does that make me a fairy, then?”

 

“Yep! Right on the mark there!” Stella chirped, curiously inspecting her saviour’s room, especially her drawings.

 

“But how is it possible?” asked Bloom, “I certainly didn’t have them yesterday, or any time before that!”

 

“Well, my guess is that your powers have always been inside of you, but dormant,” Stella theorised, eyeing one particular drawing with added interest, “The danger we experienced just now must have been the trigger that awakened your powers!”

 

“That may be true,” Bloom conceded, “But my family doesn’t have powers themselves!”

 

Midoriya whirled around at this, “Wait, Bloom-san, did you say your parents don’t have powers?”

 

“Yes...why?” 

 

“Are your parents quirkless?” he asked, something akin to hope in his eyes.

 

Bloom raised her eyebrow. Stella echoed her confusion, “Quirk...less? What are you going about, Midoriya?”

 

The slight ember of hope died in Midoriya’s eyes, “So...no one else has powers here? Like regular people on the streets?”

 

That made befuddled Bloom even more, “No...why do you ask?”

 

Midoriya’s shoulders sagged, “Oh no. That means...I really am in a completely different world.”

 

“Can you explain, Midoriya?” prompted Bloom.

 

“You see, from where I am from, the majority of humans have some kind of superpower, or as they are called, quirks,” he divulged.

 

“What kind of powers?” asked Stella curiously.

 

“Boundless, anything beyond human creativity,” Midoriya articulated, “Like, someone might have super strength, someone else might have telekinesis, some might have the power to control the elements - that is, fire, water, ice, air, earth, the list goes on. Some might even have the power to control the very workings of the world, like sound, nature, gravity, so on and so on. Just about anything that you can imagine is a possible quirk in my world.”

 

Both girls were blown away by this new revelation.

 

“Then what about you, Midoriya?” Stella asked excitedly, “What’s your quirk? I’m sure it must have been really powerful to take out those ghouls from earlier!”

 

The green-haired teen’s expression fell, and he rubbed his arm abashedly, “Well, remember how I said a majority of the people from my world have a quirk?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“You see...I...I don’t have one. I’m part of the shrinking minority that don’t have a quirk.”

 

“But that can’t be!” Stella exclaimed in surprise, “I saw those three ghouls approaching out of the corner of my eye, but before I could turn around to fend them off, you already did it for me!”

 

“That’s the thing, it shouldn’t have been possible,” Midoriya started pacing around the room, “I should’ve been mauled by those ghouls or worse, but then, I felt something rupture inside me, and all of a sudden, I’m shooting out a geyser of water strong enough to snap an oak tree in two and obliterate the ghouls as if they’re made of paper!”

 

“Could it be that you are a late bloomer?” asked Bloom.

 

“No, it’s not possible,” Midoriya shook his head, “A common trend among quirkless individuals in my world is that they have an extra joint in their pinkie toe. When a quirk didn’t manifest when I was four, which is the expected age for a child’s quirk to manifest, I was brought to the doctor for an examination. The x-ray clearly showed that I had the extra toe joint, meaning I was truly quirkless.”

 

The trio mulled in silence for a moment.

 

“Well,” Stella huffed, “since that’s the case, it’s obvious that the both of you,” she gestured to Bloom and Midoriya, “have fairy powers.”

 

“But again, how?” asked Bloom, “None of my parents have powers themselves.”

 

“C’mon girl,” Stella sat down next to the redhead and threw an arm over her shoulders, “think outside of the box! Maybe your powers were dormant for generations before opening up with you.”

 

“No one in my family lineage had anything out of the ordinary in their genes though,” Bloom pointed out.

 

“Pardon me if this is too forward of me, Bloom-san,” Midoriya interjected, “But are you by any chance adopted?”

 

“Why yes, I am,” the redhead nodded.

 

“Then that’s another theory!” Stella enthused, “Maybe something happened to your birth parents or your home domain, so they sent you here to Earth for your protection!”

 

“That seems like something right out of a comic book!” Bloom remarked.

 

“Well, after everything that has happened today, don’t you think that there is even a minuscule chance that it might be possible?” Stella retorted knowingly.

 

Bloom found that she had concede that point too.

 

“That doesn’t explain me though,” Midoriya pointed to himself.

 

“Ah yes, you, the anomaly,” Stella had a thoughtful expression, “You’re the unknown one here. You’ve come from a parallel universe where powers are basically the norm, but don’t have powers yourself. Yet you do have powers, but they are not the same thing.”

 

Midoriya and Bloom eyed the blonde, deep in her thoughts.

 

“Well,” Stella finally said after a few moments, “the only theory I can think of is that you and Bloom are siblings from the same domain, but were separated after whatever calamity befell your home.”

 

Both mentioned teens turned to one another, silently agreeing that the scenario might be possible too, if a little far-fetched.

 

“But anyway, enough with the speculating!” Stella declared, bringing the attention back to her, “Let’s stick with the facts! The fact is, you two have magic powers. And, you two should totally come with me to the Alfea College of Fairies. With the education provided by the best magical learning institute in all of Magix, I’m certain you two will grow into powerful fairies yourselves!”

 

Midoriya and Bloom just stared at Stella, dumbstruck.

 

“Hold up, hold up, you want us ,” Bloom gestured to herself and Midoriya, “to go with you to a school for fairies?”

 

“Mmhm!” Stella nodded.

 

“But this is all still new to us, Stella-san,” Midoriya pointed out, “We’ve just discovered that we have powers today, and who’s to say that we can just summon them at will again? Are they a permanent part of us, or is it only a one-time deal? And will Bloom-san’s parents let her go in the first place? Furthermore, even if by some miracle that we get to go, I’m sure that there must be some entrance exam that we have to take in order to get in. We’ll be at a disadvantage, and-”

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa there Mr. Motor-mouth!” Stella hurriedly grabbed his shoulders to stop the mutter-storm from brewing out of hand, “Chill out, yeah?”

 

“Oh…” Midoriya blinked, then blushed abashedly, “sorry, bad habit of mine.”

 

“Not to worry, to that and all the questions you two no doubt have,” said Stella, stepping back, “Since we’re starting with the basics here, let’s try something simple, yeah?”

 

Stella waved her hand at a pencil holder on Bloom’s desk. The pencils floated out, and dropped with a clatter all over the floor.

 

“This is a basic cleaning spell, Sortium ,” Stella explained, “Here, give it a try, Bloom.”

 

“Okay…” the redhead put her hands out over the pencils, and concentrated, “ Sortium !”

 

At first, nothing happened. None of the pencils moved. Bloom then put more effort into her concentration, trying to draw that energy she felt back at the park clearing. Finally, a few of the pencils started to quiver, rising a centimetre off of the floor. But just as Bloom seemed to get the hang of it, the energy inside her suddenly surged, breaking her concentration with a gasp. The pencils, like released springs, shot out in every direction, clattering against the walls and other objects in their path. Midoriya ducked to avoid one that sailed over his head.

 

“Well, at least your powers are working, a bit too well if you ask me,” Stella remarked with a shrug.

 

Bloom released a shaky breath, “It’s no use, I can’t do it.”

 

“Well of course not, it’s only your first honest try,” Stella waved her hand, and all the pencils reassembled on the floor in front of them, “Now you try, Midoriya.”

 

The green-haired teen swallowed, stretching out his hands and concentrated just like Bloom before him, “ Sortium !”

 

Again, nothing happened at first. Midoriya tried to reach inside himself to draw the energy out. Only for everything to rupture the moment he put the barest touch on it.

 

A blast of water shot out from his hands, hitting the floor with a splash, knocking a few pencils about and drenching the rest.

 

Midoriya visibly sagged at his failure. Stella, on the other hand was thinking deeply, hand on her chin.

 

“You’re able to come into contact with your magic. But it’s too volatile now. You need to be able to control it to utilise it better,” she said, waving her hand over the soaked floor, her magic drying up the water and putting the pencils back into the holder.

 

“Suddenly going to Alfea sounds really appealing now,” Midoriya muttered to himself.

 

“Well I can take you both there right now,” said Stella as she got up from the bed, “It would be most improper of me not to show you what it looks like at least.”

 

“How?” asked Bloom.

 

“By magical simulation portal, of course!”

 

In Stella’s hand, what looked like a postcard appeared from thin air. She let it flutter to the floor, where it expanded until it was the size of a large floor mat. 

 

“Now, all you have to do is stand on it,” Stella stepped onto it, and to Bloom and Midoriya’s surprise, began to sink into the portal, the surface rippling as she went, “and the portal does the rest!”

 

Bloom and Midoriya made no move to get up.

 

“C’mon! It’s not so bad, you barely feel anything!” Stella called out to them, just as her head disappeared through the portal.

 

The two remaining teens glanced at one another, before getting up and gingerly stepping on the portal together. Right away, they began sinking through the rippling surface. True to Stella’s words, it wasn’t an unpleasant feeling, as if they were phasing through water slowly without getting wet.

 

They landed gently on a grassy terrain, with trees abound as far as the eye could see. And straight ahead of them, was a majestic castle with turrets and towers with domed roofs, framing a large courtyard behind a set of gates that resembled a pair of wings.

 

“Wow…” both Bloom and Midoriya breathed.

 

“Yep, beautiful isn’t she?” Stella preened with pride, “That over there is the Alfea College of Fairies.”

 


 

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the people of Gardenia, an ogre was leading a distinctly ugly hunting troll and a small army of ghouls through the alleyways of the city to not be spotted by any wandering humans.

 

“Well? Do you have her scent?” asked Knut.

 

The troll stuck its warty, hideous nose in the air and took a big sniff.

 

“Girl’s scent nearby,” it grunted.

 

“Then let’s keep moving,” said Knut.

 

After crossing through a few more alleyways, the group took cover under an unlit portion of the sidewalk directly behind the Davises’ townhouse. The troll took another sniff in the air, grunting lowly as it exhaled.

 

“What now?” asked Knut.

 

“Girl’s scent lost,” it growled.

 


 

Bloom and Midoriya were lost for words at the magnificent sight before them. The castle seemed to radiate with magic, and it was that very ethereal aura that seemed to beckon them towards its gates like a siren’s song enchanting sailors to their call.

 

They took a few steps forward. It simply would not do to not start exploring this new world around them.

 

“Sorry to disappoint you guys,” Stella’s voice broke the enchantment, “But this is only a simulation, after all. One more step and you would have very sore nose to deal with.”

 

Blinking, Midoriya turned away from the blonde and back towards Alfea. He took a step forward, and stretched out his hand. True enough, his palm felt a solid, invisible wall running down from the edge of the postcard above them.

 

“Could you tell us more about Alfea then?” Bloom asked Stella.

 

“But of course!” the blonde agreed excitedly, “All sorts of students come to Alfea for their magical education. Mostly fairies, some pixies, and a few gwyllions. Royal families from other realms send their daughters here too to hone their powers to become Guardian Fairies to protect their realm.”

 

“Are there any other schools here in Magix?” asked Midoriya.

 

“Oh yes!” Stella nodded, “Directly across the Enchanted Forest from Alfea is the Red Fountain School of Heroics and Bravery. Really action-packed and adrenaline-pumping if I must say so myself. That’s where the sons of families from across the magical dimension come to train to become Specialists. They may not have magic powers like us fairies, but they are trained in physical strength, mental prowess, intelligence gathering and analysis, tactical planning and mastery over magical beasts, among other things. And let me tell you, hot boys with handsome faces and muscled bodies who know how to fight, that will make anyone swoon!”

 

“If you say so,” Bloom shrugged.

 

“On the other hand,” Stella’s dreamy excitement died as she moved on, “Alfea is also just across the lagoon from what I would describe as the creepiest and most dangerous place in the realm, the Cloud Tower School for Witches.”

 

“You sound as if you have a thing against witches,” Midoriya remarked.

 

“I admit I am rather biased towards fairies and specialists in general,” Stella conceded, “Witches lean towards the more negative aspect of magic. And while I won’t deny that there are witches who use their powers for good out there, a significant portion of them won’t hesitate to use their powers to cause mischief for others at best, or to downright hurt or kill at the very worst.”

 

“But surely there are bad fairies and specialists too?” Bloom asked diplomatically.

 

“Oh of course there are,” Stella replied, “But we don’t get them that often. It’s in the nature, as some say. Fairies and specialists generally fall into nature of the good, and witches generally fall in the nature of the bad.”

 

“Well...that is certainly a lot to cover,” Midoriya crossed his arms.

 

“It is. Magix is one huge, complicated realm, let alone the other planets in the dimension,” Stella agreed, “Nothing is black and white here, or anywhere else in the magical dimension. But trust me, things will be a bit easier when we start the new term at Alfea.”

 

“That is going to be a huge decision for me though,” Bloom said wistfully, “I mean, I’m going to be leaving everything - my parents, my regular high school, my friends - behind to attend someplace where I know virtually no one. That is, if my parents even allow me to go in the first place.”

 

“Well as they say, the more who vouch for something, the easier the obstacle is to overcome,” Stella said as she put away a device Bloom suspected was akin to her mobile phone, “I just sent a quick text over to a few guys from Red Fountain inviting them over to your place. My hunch is should your parents meet more of the people from Magix, they’ll be more willing to let you go to Alfea. Plus, with that smelly ogre on the loose, it’s killing two birds with a single stone for the specialists to deal with him too.”

 

“Cool, so when are they coming over?” asked Bloom.

 

“In a few minutes,” said Stella, “Inter-realm travel is extremely quick and efficient. In fact, I think we better head back to tell your parents about the arriving guests before they gate-crash your place.”

 

Bloom and Midoriya nod. Stella then leapt upwards, disappearing through the portal back into Bloom’s room. Bloom went up next, lastly by Midoriya.

 


 

Outside of the Davises’ home, the hunting troll perked up.

 

“Girl’s scent back. With two others, one boy.”

 

Knut smiled devilishly, “Excellent work, now we make our move.”

 

The ghouls screeched excitedly, following the troll and the ogre towards the back door.

 


 

“So you’re just going to believe her? That she is a fairy and our daughter is also one?” Mike asked, disbelief mixed with frustration.

 

“Well, then how do you explain those times in the past that Bloom’s injuries seem to heal virtually overnight with no scarring left behind?” Vanessa returned with a raised eyebrow, “Or that time she got a serious concussion back when she was five and it healed in a matter of days instead of the expected weeks?”

 

“It could’ve have been less serious than we thought…” Mike tried to explain.

 

“I saw the x-rays, Mike,” his wife stood firmly, “It was a classic-case concussion caused by a blunt force trauma to the head, in this case, by a flower-pot. It should have taken Bloom a month or so to get back on her feet, but she was already doing so in three days . How do explain that without thinking there must be some other-worldly intervention going on?”

 

Mike sat down on an armchair with a huff, “Alright, let’s go with that for now. What about the boy - Midoriya?”

 

“As far as we know, he is alone in a strange world,” said Vanessa, “He’ll need all the help he can get. I think it will be wise for him to stay with Bloom and Stella until he is able to find his way home.”

 

Mike was about to say something, but was cut off by an almighty crash as the back door to the house was blown inwards with great force. Heavy footsteps rocked the house as the troll lumbered in. Mike was in his feet, yanking a lamp out of its socket.

 

“W-What the hell is that?!”

 

Knut and the ghouls followed close behind.

 

“Stand down humans,” the ogre grinned nastily, “We just want the fairies. If you don’t give us trouble, we might just spare you both.”

 


 

Upstairs, Midoriya’s ears picked up the ruckus one floor below.

 

“Girls, do you hear that?”

 

There was a loud roar, and the room shook.

 

“Something’s broken in! My parents are down there!” Bloom gasped, quickly bolting out of the room, Stella and Midoriya following close behind.

 


 

Fight or flight instincts kicking in, Vanessa grabbed several books from a nearby bookcase and threw them at the invading creatures. The ghouls scattered, dodging the books. Knut merely batted one aside and the troll stood firm even when one of the thicker books hit it on the head.

 

“Alright, since you puny humans asked for it. Ghouls, get them!”

 

Screeching wildly, the ghouls leapt for the two humans. Mike brandished the lamp and managed to knock one aside, but a second was immediately upon him, pinning him to the floor. Vanessa threw a stool at the ghouls prowling towards her, but missed. The ghouls leapt onto her, pushing her to the floor.

 

Knut stomped forward, “Tell us where they are, or you’ll be ghoul food in seconds!”

 

“Hey stick-breath!”

 

The ogre spun on his heel. Stella, Bloom and Midoriya were standing by the archway.

 

“Fight someone your own size, you fucking coward!” said Stella.

 

“Troll! Get her!” Knut ordered.

 

As the blue behemoth lumbered forwards, Stella readied herself.

 

“Magic Winx!”

 

A glow of light burst from Stella’s chest, enveloping her. Her clothes transformed into the crop-top and low-cut shorts she was wearing in the clearing. Her wings sprouted from her back, fluttering with sparkling dust swirling around them.

 

“Come at me, you foul nutcase of a beast,” she taunted.

 

Both Knut and the troll lunged for Stella. Seeing her parents in trouble, Bloom rushed into the room.

 

“Get off them, you little freaks!”

 

The ghoul clawing at Mike’s face leapt off of him and made a lunge for Bloom. Using the stool her mother used earlier, Bloom whacked the incoming ghoul straight into the family television, knocking said appliance to the floor and breaking with a crash. The ghouls holding Vanessa down lunged for Midoriya, who in the moment of panic, somehow managed to summon a cleaver from the kitchen. Swinging it wildly, he bisected one ghoul, decapitated the second, and disemboweled the third, blood splashing over his face and gakuran. The remainder wisely back away for safety.

 

Bloom turned to her parents, “Go! Get out of here! Don’t worry about us!”

 

Not wasting a second, Mike got up, and rushed over to his wife. Helping her up, they scrambled for the window. Opening it, they slipped out, leaving the trio to continue the fight.

 

Stella had her sceptre out, blasting Knut and the troll with bursts of light. Grunting in annoyance, the troll lumbered away, looking for easier targets. It’s eyes zeroed in on Bloom, who was keeping a pack of ghouls back with a fire poker. 

 

Roaring loudly, it raised its fist.

 

“Bloom-san! Look out!”

 

The troll roared in agony, pain shooting up its leg from a long gash running down it. Midoriya brandished his cleaver, the blade dripping with blood. 

 

“Hey! Come after me!”

 

Midoriya didn’t know where this bravery (or was it foolhardiness?) was coming from. But he had to intervene before Bloom was hurt, troll or not. 

 

The lumbering creature roared again, swinging its fist down towards the green-haired teen. He rolled away, speed honed from years of running and dodging Bakugou’s blows and explosions. He decapitated a ghoul before it could leap onto Bloom.

 

“Bloom-san! You need to get out here! I’ll handle the troll!”

 

Nodding, the redhead impaled a ghoul, throwing it into a wall. Grabbing the momentary distraction, she bolted from the living room, a pack of six ghouls leaping after her. Now alone, Midoriya led the troll on in a game of cat and mouse, ducking behind overturned furniture to dodge incoming fists and body-slams. He waited for momentary lapses in the troll’s reflexes to attack, landing more gashes and cuts on the creature’s skin.

 

But instead of slowing it down, his attacks only served to anger the troll even further. Roaring, it swung its arm just as Midoriya was bringing down the cleaver in a downwards drop, knocking the blade out of the teen’s hands and embedding itself in a wall.

 

Now without a weapon, Midoriya had no means of protection. So he did the one thing he was always good at…

 

...run.

 

He screamed as he dashed out of the living room, barely missing the troll’s fist. Skidding at the archway, he cut through the stairwell, taking advantage of the troll getting stuck in the narrower archway to widen the distance. As he rushed for the back door, Knut flew backwards into the wall parallel to him, missing him by centimetres. Reaching the open door and stepping outside, Midoriya stumbled over his feet. With a yelp, he pitched forwards, landing on one of the ghouls that had Bloom cornered, crushing the creature in a shower of crimson.

 

The other ghouls jumped away from their comrade’s pulpified corpse, giving Bloom the chance to fight back. Thrusting the poker forwards, she impaled two ghouls like a grisly kebab, before swinging them off into the back wall. Midoriya quickly picked himself up and went to hide behind Bloom.

 

From the open doorway and the window, came a bright flash of light. Knut came sailing through the doorway, landing on top of the remaining ghouls and snuffing out their very existence. 

 

“Good shot, Stella!” Bloom called out.

 

Said blonde fairy came crashing through the back window in a shower of glass. She touched down next to Bloom and Midoriya.

 

“How are you both?”

 

“Rather rattled,” Bloom released a shaky breath.

 

“Um...we’ve got company!” Midoriya shrieked.

 

The troll had burst through the doorway, approaching the trio menacingly. Stella brandished her sceptre, Bloom with the poker. Midoriya stayed put behind the girls, pleading to any deity that was watching to send help before they were all done for.

 

The troll roared, but not before an unfamiliar voice mixed in with the din.

 

“Hey Princess Stella! I hope your friends are the pretty girl with the red hair and the dude covered in blood!”

 

A thick black cord with a small purple orb at the end wound itself around the troll, immobilising it like a Thanksgiving turkey about to be slaughtered for the oven. 

 

“Yeah! And not this ugly brute!” came another voice.

 

All three turned towards the other end of the rope. There were five guys dressed in identical blue, and white uniforms, white fingerless-gloves, capes held in place by different-coloured gemstones, and identical dark-blue boots. It was no doubt, they were the specialists that Stella had invited over. 

 

The first one had auburn hair, wore glasses, wielded what appeared to be a gun of some sort, and lanky in build. The second was a blonde whose fringe partially covered his right eye, sporting a longsword and shield that glowed blue, and was extremely muscular. The third, the one holding the rope, had maroon hair styled upwards and also quite muscular. As was the fourth guy, who had brown hair angled sharp towards his eyes, tanned skin, and wielding a light-green glowing broadsword. 

 

The fifth guy, Midoriya noticed, had dark skin with chin-length black hair, highlighted red with some volume on top and shaved on his right side. The green-haired teen observed that he was a little bit taller than the other guys by a few inches, and while also well-built, his muscles were noticeably bigger, the material of the uniform stretched over the rock-hard flesh. Another noticeable that struck Midoriya deep was his eyes - ruby-red, like the petals of a rose in full-bloom, of fresh blood that gives life to a body. They glinted in the lights of nighttime, but there was a coldness in them that reminded Midoriya of actual rubies - beautiful, but without a life of their own. 

 

Midoriya didn’t know why, but he felt intimidated by this young man. There was a sense of danger that radiated from him, and the pair of glowing red dual-swords he was holding didn’t help matters.

 

“Great timing, you guys!” said Stella, waving to the specialists.

 

“I think for this situation, a three-pronged rescue and capture op is best executed,” said the blonde specialist.

 

“Fuck no, man!” the maroon redhead rebuffed cockily, “I’ve got this all handled.”

 

The one with brown hair sighed, running a hand through his locks, “Just because you survived one month at a swashbuckler camp doesn’t mean you’re capable of taking on a hunting troll by yourself.” And as if fate was siding with him, the troll jerked its body hard, sending the redhead flying across the yard and landing with a grunt onto Midoriya. The exasperated brunette rolled his eyes, “Told you so.”

 

The rope holding the troll captive came loose. Even more enraged, it went straight for the specialists.

 

“Get behind me!” the blonde ordered.

 

The shield expanded to cover them, just as the troll began raining down blows on it. Bloom was surprised that such flimsy-looking material was actually deceptively strong.

 

“Hey guys! Remember what we were taught when dealing with trolls?” the blonde asked.

 

“Well...um…” the brunette leapt into the air, sword raised, “Smash them apart, I think?”

 

He slammed the sword against the concrete. There was a flash of green light that raced across the yard. A massive crack broke the concrete apart and raced in between the troll’s legs.

 

“No Sky!” the auburn specialist rebuffed, “You take out their feet!”

 

He aimed his gun and fired three times. Bright yellow darts came flying out and exploded at the troll’s feet. It lost its balance and fell into the fissure.

 

“Good work Timmy! Great that you passed the test on forest creatures,” Sky praised.

 

“Um...incoming ghouls!” Midoriya pointed towards the doorway.

 

A pack of six growled as they leapt into the fray. The maroon redhead picked himself up from Midoriya, turning back to the trio, “Stay here, this won’t take long.”

 

He then unsheathed a glowing purple sword, and took out two ghouls with a couple of slashes. The dark-skinned specialist joined in as well, three ghouls meeting their end in pieces at the swings of his dual-blades. The remaining ghoul leapt onto the redhead, trying to claw at him. The other managed to yank it off, but the momentary distraction allowed Knut to launch a sneak attack on them, knocking them aside with two well-aimed punches.

 

The ogre advanced on the two downed specialists, prompting Stella, Bloom and Midoriya to intervene. 

 

“Hey! Leave them alone!” Midoriya shouted.

 

Knut started, just as a blast of energy knocked him to the ground.

 

“Nice aim there, you two,” said Stella.

 

“But it just happened out of nowhere,” Bloom blinked.

 

“And I didn’t have to reach inside for it,” Midoriya added, staring at his hands.

 

“Sometimes, you don’t have to do much,” Stella explained, “Your magic does it for you.”

 

Midoriya would have loved to ask more questions, but now wasn’t the time. The battle was still ongoing.

 

Knut had picked himself up, and was now facing the two specialists he had taken down earlier. Before the fighting could pick up again, Stella intervened, “I think you’ve caused enough damage here, you putrid fucker. You might want to skedaddle off, before I am forced to use my Stinkus-Removus spell on you and cleanse that years-old stench off of your crusty-ass skin!”

 

To Bloom and Midoriya’s surprise, Knut actually blanched at the threat. His eyes darted around, the specialists were all poised to attack, weapons drawn. Seeing that he was vastly outnumbered, Knut did the wisest thing possible.

 

With one lone ghoul clambering onto his shoulder, the ogre clapped three times. The same sickly magenta light enveloped them, whisking them away into thin air as it faded. The specialists lowered their weapons, now that the enemy was gone.

 

“I didn’t know he was ablutophobic,” Bloom remarked.

 

“Eh, ogres tend to be like that,” Stella shrugged, “So anyway. Bloom, Midoriya, these hotties here are the Red Fountain guys I was talking about.”

 

“That is Riven,” the maroon redhead scowled. Midoriya hummed, ‘He would look a lot more handsome if he smiled. And if that smile was actually genuine.’

 

“Prince Sky of Eraklyon,” Stella pointed to the brunette, who returned the greeting with a jovial “Hey.”

 

“Timmy,” the bespectacled specialist chuckled and waved.

 

“Brandon, Sky’s bodyguard,” the blonde winked, keeping away his shield.

 

“And Prince Rykios of Lunkimda,” the dark-skinned specialist nodded with a deep grunt. Again, Midoriya felt a spike of nervousness tingle his spine, especially when Rykios’ gaze briefly turned towards him.

 

From the fissure, the troll crawled out, growling menacingly.

 

“Not so fast, you big brute, you’re coming with us,” Timmy snapped a large collar that crackled with electricity around its neck, “You’ve caused enough damage and trauma for one night!”

 

Bloom watched in wonder as electrical rings encircled the troll, trapping it within the forcefield. On Timmy’s command, the troll was lifted out of the fissure. Brandon noticed the cuts and gashes when the troll was fully lifted into the air.

 

“I don’t remember any one of us attacking the troll other than Riven,” he wondered, “How did it get those cuts?”

 

“Ah...that would have been me,” Midoriya muttered, flinching slightly when all eyes turned to him.

 

“You?” Riven said disbelievingly, “How?”

 

“I-I managed to summon a cleaver from the kitchen,” Midoriya explained, scratching his cheek, “The troll was about to attack Bloom-san, so I used myself as a distraction. I was able to cut it several times, but it managed to knock it out of my grasp. I f-fled after that.”

 

Brandon, Sky and Timmy appeared impressed. Rykios had an eyebrow raised appraisingly.

 

“You know,” Sky remarked, “You’d make a great specialist at Red Fountain.”

 

Midoriya started, turning pink in embarrassment, “R-Really?”

 

“Are you kidding, Sky?” Riven interrupted, “Do you see how scrawny he is? He won’t even last a day.”

 

Midoriya deflated. Brandon stepped forward, “Riven, that’s uncalled for. With the right training, Midoriya’s sure to catch up easily.”

 

Stella interrupted the budding argument, “While I’m happy to see most of you having faith in our blood-stained green bean here, I’m sorry to say he’s already claimed,” she threw an arm over his shoulder, “You see, he’s coming to Alfea with me and Bloom the day after tomorrow.”

 

The specialists started at this revelation. Riven, though, was more open about his skepticism, “A boy going to a school for fairies? I thought only girls go to that place.”

 

Somehow, the redhead’s words irritated Midoriya deeply. He gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. At the same time, a fire hydrant across the street from the Davises’ home exploded with an almighty BANG . The resulting geyser of water shot into the air, then arched over the street. Stella backed away quickly, as did everyone else, as the water swirled around Midoriya’s blood-soaked form, which appeared to be flickering - his gakuran into brief flashes of an unfamiliar set of clothes, and the fleeting glimmers of what appeared to be wings on his back. The swirling water then shot upwards to the sky, taking the form of a phoenix as it went. A haunting trill echoed through the night, as it disappeared without a trace.

 

Everyone went from staring at the now-gone water, back to Midoriya. He had unclenched his fists, but his irritated scowl remained.

 

“You thought wrong,” Midoriya spat out.

 

Riven defensively put his hands up in surrender. Rykios eyed Midoriya consideringly. 

 

It was a tense silence for a moment, and it was Bloom who broke it.

 

“So what’s going to happen to the troll?” she asked.

 

“We’re taking it back to Red Fountain with us,” Timmy replied, visibly relieved, “It’s likely to be headed for a creature preserve.”

 

“And that should be our cue to get moving,” said Sky, sheathing his broadsword.

 

“Well we won’t keep you guys any longer,” Stella nodded, as Timmy set up a portal, “Take care you guys!”

 

“Bye!” Sky and Timmy waved before stepping through the portal with the troll. Riven didn’t say anything as he too stepped through.

 

“I hope to see you at Alfea, Bloom!” Brandon called out. Bloom waved to him with a grin as he stepped through the portal.

 

Now only Rykios remained. He stepped towards the portal, paused, then turned back towards Midoriya. Said teen swallowed nervously at the unnerving gaze, only releasing the breath he had been holding when the dark-skinned specialist finally turned around and stepped through the portal, which closed immediately after.

 

“Well, I’m glad that’s over,” Bloom huffed.

 

“Tell me about it,” Stella nodded, “I’m puffed out from all the drama today. So anyway,” she clapped her hands, “Let’s go check up on your parents, Bloom. Make sure they’re okay. And Midoriya…” she eyed the teen up and down, “You might want to borrow some clothes from Bloom’s dad and take a shower. Crusting blood doesn’t look good on you.”

 

Midoriya looked down at his blood-soaked uniform, “I think I’ll do that, Stella-san.”

 


To Be Continued.


 

















































































Chapter Text

Bloom, Midoriya and Stella returned to a house in pieces. In the wrecked living room, Vanessa was tending to the scratches that marred Mike’s face and arms.

 

“Mom, Dad,” said Bloom, “Are you both okay?”

 

“We’re fine-YOWCH!” Mike winced as his wife applied rubbing alcohol on a scratch on his cheek, “More or less.”

 

“And you three?” asked Vanessa.

 

“We’re fine too, Mom,” Bloom replied, “But Midoriya needs to borrow a pair of Dad’s clothes and the bathroom.”

 

“Sure, but I don’t think my clothes will fit though,” said Mike.

 

“No worries!” Stella smiled, “One resizing spell and anything you provide will fit perfectly.”

 

“Alright then,” said Vanessa as she kept away the first-aid box, “Come with me, Midoriya my dear, I’ll show you where the bathroom is.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“And Bloom?” Mike turned to his daughter, “Could you get the spare mattresses for your friends?”

 

“Will do, Dad.”

 


 

The night passed and the new day dawned upon Gardenia. The morning sun phased through a gap in the blinds, falling upon a still-sleeping Midoriya. But it was a sleep that was far from peaceful, one that not even the gentle rays of the sun could awaken him from.

 

“No...Ka-Kacchan…stop…please...no…”

 

The explosions continued. His body was being flung around like a ragdoll. Amidst the flames and loud noises, ghouls were leaping and clawing at him. Ogres and trolls were tossing him about like a beach ball.

 

He landed on the ground with a hard thump. Attempting to prop himself up, but a hand pushed him back down harshly. He looked up, and he flinched.

 

Those eyes, red in colour. Filled with hatred, anger and malice. They burned like the fires of hell.

 

Followed by a voice that only promised more pain and agony.

 

“You should have died, useless Deku. You are nothing! Worthless! No one will care that you are gone! The world will be better off without you!”

 

He screamed again, as from those very hands came another set of explosions.

 

Then...everything stopped.

 

He jerked up. He was alone in a dark void. The ghouls, ogres, trolls and... him , were all gone. Everything was darkness, an emptiness that echoed with a dead silence. There was nothing else, but him.

 

Until it wasn’t.

 

The darkness was disrupted by a glimmer of light. He squinted at it, as it grew bigger, like the sun rising over the horizon. From the light, a shadow appeared. It then morphed into a silhouette of a figure. And, as if a light was shining upon it gradually, the figure came into view.

 

He started, breath hitching.

 

“O-Okāsan…!”

 

She appeared no different from when she last saw her. Even her clothes were the exact ones she was wearing when she saw him off that morning. She was looking about furtively, as if missing something important.

 

He tried to get her attention. He knew what, or rather, who she was looking for.

 

“Okāsan! I’m here! I’m right here!”

 

He shouted at the top of his voice. He even got up, despite the pain wracking his body. He waved and jumped, hoping that she would see him.

 

“Okāsan! I’m right here! Please! I’m over here!”

 

But she didn’t seem to see him. Or even hear him. It was as if he was invisible, or a ghost separated by the veil of death from the living.

 

He watched her look about more a moment longer. Then, the frantic look on his mother’s face slipped into one of resigned defeat. To his horror, she turned around, and appeared to walk off into the distance, head hung low and hands clenched together.

 

“Okāsan! Don’t go! I’m here! Please! I’m right here!”

 

Again, she was deaf to his pleas and shouts. She continued walking into the light, growing smaller and smaller as she went.

 

He tried to run after her, but it seemed that no matter how hard he moved his legs, he was stuck in place, immobilised. His cries became more desperate as his mother continued to walk away from him, quickly become an indecipherable dot in the light, which also appeared to be fading.

 

“Okāsan! Don’t go! Don’t leave me! Please! Come back! Come back!”

 

The last vestiges of light were disappearing fast, his mother already out of sight. Then, the void began to shake, and there seemed to be someone calling out to him.

 

“Midoriya! Midoriya!”

 

He jolted awake, bolting upright with a sharp intake of breath.

 

“Midoriya, it’s okay. Calm down. Breathe.”

 

The teen’s breathing was fast, heart thundering at the speed of sound. He glanced furtively about, not quite registering his surroundings in his panicked haze.

 

“Breathe with me, Midoriya. In...out…in…out…”

 

It took him several moments to register that someone was holding him, a soothing voice working hard to abate his frantic delirium.

 

He tried to follow what the voice was saying, slowing down his breathing to calm his heart. When he was finally in a state of relative normality, he turned to the person holding him.

 

“Bloom-san…”

 

The redhead gave him a concerned look, “You were having a nightmare. A quite violent one, and you were flickering as you thrashed about.”

 

“Ah…”

 

“How are you feeling now?” she asked.

 

Midoriya turned to stare blankly into the air. This wasn’t a continuation of his dreams. He wasn’t back in his own world. He was in Gardenia, in Bloom’s room. Not his own All Might-themed bedroom, not in his apartment, with…

 

His eyes became misty.

 

“I saw my mom…” his voice trembled, “She was looking for me. I t-tried to call out to h-her, but s-she didn’t hear o-or see me. S-She gave u-up, and s-she walked away. I-I tried to reach h-her, b-but…”

 

Midoriya became too overwhelmed with emotion to continue speaking. As the tears began to fall, Bloom pulled him close and hugged him, her hand rubbing his back soothingly. Kiko, who had been watching the entire debacle apprehensively, approached him to snuggle him.

 

“I’m sorry,” she said softly, “This must be really hard for you.”

 

Midoriya didn’t say anything, his quiet weeps his only response.

 

There was a knock on the door.

 

“Yoo-hoo, are you two awake? Your mom’s said-”

 

Stella cut herself off when she realised what she was seeing.

 

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

 

“Midoriya had a nightmare, a really bad one,” Bloom explained.

 

“Care to share?” Stella closed the door behind her.

 

Midoriya sniffled, and wiped the tears from his eyes, “It’s my mom, Stella-san. She was looking for me. I tried to reach her, but I couldn’t…” another sniff, “She’s the only family I have, and...oh god...she’s all alone back in my world…she must be so worried...”

 

Another fresh wave of tears threatened to overwhelm Midoriya. Stella quickly joined the hug to do her bit to soothe him.

 

“Don’t you worry one bit, Midoriya. We’ll do our damnedest to help you get back home. I swear on that.”

 

Midoriya gave a shaky nod, wiping away his tears.

 

“In the meantime,” Stella continued, pulling away slightly, “You need a distraction.”

 

“What do you mean, Stella-san?”

 

“You need something to get your mind off the sad stuff,” the blonde explained, “As much as we’ll do our best to help you get home, that day will take at least until the foreseeable future to arrive. You need something else to direct your energy towards. You’ll get nothing done if you mope in what’s currently out of our control.”

 

Midoriya sniffled, “I u-understand.”

 

“That’s why,” Stella stood up, “after breakfast, which was the original reason why I came up here in the first place, I think we should all take a trip down to Magix today. Get some fresh air, get you both acquainted with the place to hang out in the magic dimension, and get Midoriya clothes for when school starts.”

 

He started at this, “It’s alright, Stella-san! There’s no need to spend money on me!”

 

“Nonsense!” Stella waved her hand dismissively, “It’s the least I can do for saving me yesterday. Plus, I don’t think Bloom’s dad is going to appreciate you taking his clothes all the time, and first impressions matter when starting a new term at Alfea, you know!”

 

“That reminds me,” Bloom interjected, “I don’t think my parents are even aware of our intention to go to Alfea. I know you invited the Red Fountain guys over, but they just took the troll with them without really interacting with my parents. If we suddenly spring the plan on them, who’s to say they’ll agree?”

 

“That’s why I took the liberty to inform them beforehand!” said Stella as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, “You see, I woke up early this morning, and I went downstairs to get a drink of water…”

 


 

Stella yawned as she made her way down the stairs. The day was already calling for her to begin, but her throat was parched. A glass of water would certainly help start the day right.

 

As she reached the landing, she heard noises and voices coming from the living room.

 

“...and remind me that this was supposed to be a regular summer?”

 

“Just roll with it, dear. What’s happened as already happened. Anyway, I’m sure the insurance can cover the structural damage.”

 

Stella peeked through the archway. Mike was busy sweeping up the floor of broken objects, dust and bits of concrete accumulated from the home invasion the day before. Vanessa was rolling any upturned furniture back into their respective places.

 

The latter wiped her brow, before noticing their guest by the archway.

 

“Oh, good morning, Stella. You’re up early.”

 

“Yeah, I was on my way to get a drink of water,” the blonde replied, stifling a yawn.

 

“Oh, let me help you with that, dear. You just stay where you are.”

 

Vanessa hurried out of the living room into the kitchen. Stella turned to Mike, “I can help, if you want. A bit of magic and this place will be spick and span in a moment...except for the cracks, though. I’m not an architect.”

 

The man shook his head, “No thanks, Stella. I think we’ve seen enough magic for now.”

 

The blonde shrugged, “Your call.” 

 

Vanessa returned with a glass of water, offering to Stella, who thanked her before taking it and sipping the ice-cold water.

 

“So what are you going to do now, Stella?” the matriarch asked, “What are your plans?”

 

“Well, I was actually preparing to head off to Alfea for the next school term, when the ogre and the ghouls attacked and forced me to travel through realms to fend them off. As far as I know, my parents still think I’m somewhere in Solaria.”

 

“Alfea? What’s that?” Mike asked, resting his arms on the broomstick.

 

“It’s the best school for fairies in the entire magic dimension. I go there for my education.”

 

As Mike considered this, Vanessa asked, “Is there a way that you can contact your parents to let them know you’re safe?”

 

“I left my phone back in Solaria, but inter-realm travel is no biggie,” Stella brushed off, “Anyways, there’s something important I need to ask the both of you.”

 

“You want Bloom and Midoriya to come with you to Alfea, isn’t it?” Vanessa guessed with a knowing look.

 

Both Stella and Mike started at this, “Um...yeah, that was what I wanted to ask, actually.”

 

“Vanessa, you can’t be serious, letting Bloom go to a school we know nothing about!” 

 

“Well, I can show a preview of what goes on at Alfea, with the help of the school’s official slide-globe,” Stella offered, waving a hand in the air. A cloud of sparkles coalesced into a smooth blue orb, which then opened to let a large projection appear. “It even comes with the school song.”

 

Oh, Alfea oh, Alfea

Our school makes us proud

 

The pictures shifted every few seconds, covering different shots of the castle and central courtyard from multiple angles.

 

When you cheer for all our glory always cheer out loud

The best and brightest gather here

 

The pictures then started featuring Stella and a few other random students in different locations, both outside in the courtyard and inside the campus.

 

From all our many realms

Learning potions, transformations, and empowering spells

 

From there, the pictures began showing classes in progress, some with figures both Mike and Vanessa assumed to be the staff of Alfea.

 

Alfea teach us well

 

As the song ended, so too did the slideshow. The projection shrunk back into the orb, which then closed. It disappeared in a flurry of sparkling lights from Stella’s hand.

 

“So? What do you think?”

 

Mike looked torn, “Okay, that slideshow was nice and all, but are we seriously going to let our only daughter go to a school based on only that?”

 

“Well I think that’s not a bad idea at all, Mike,” Vanessa retorted firmly, hands on her hips, “Remember our conversation before that troll gate-crashed through the door?”

 

“Yeah, but…”

 

“But nothing,” Vanessa continued resolutely, “We’ve already established that Bloom is no ordinary teenage girl, what happened yesterday proving that ten times over. It is only right that as her parents that we allow Bloom to go to a school where she can learn how to use her new powers in a manner that benefits herself and others around her. Who’s to say what happened yesterday will not happen again tomorrow, or in the near future? She’ll need to learn how to use her new powers to protect herself and those around her. So Mike, I wholeheartedly support Bloom, and Midoriya for that matter, in their enrollment into Alfea.”

 

Stella felt a bit intrusive when the conversation turned personal. She had stepped back a bit, but she nonetheless turned to Mike for his response.

 

“Well...when you put it that way,” he finally conceded, “You’ve got a very strong point.”

 

“I know this is hard to comprehend at once given everything that has happened,” Vanessa smiled understandingly, stepping forward and taking her husband’s hand, “But we mustn’t hold Bloom back on this. She’s her own person, and has her destiny to fulfill. We should be behind her, supporting all the way as her parents.”

 

Mike sighed, deep in thought. After several moments of silence, he finally turned to his wife.

 

“Alright, I understand. However,” he pointed out, “we should at least tell Bloom that we are willing to let her go to Alfea. It’s still her choice, after all.”

 

“Of course,” Vanessa agreed, “And on that note, I think it is my turn to make breakfast this morning. Stella, could you be a dear and go check on Bloom and Midoriya and wake them up?”

 

“No probs! I’ll be right back!”

 


 

“And that’s all that was too it,” Stella finished.

 

Bloom would be lying to herself if she wasn’t surprised by what had transpired.

 

“Your mom really is something, Bloom-san,” Midoriya remarked.

 

“Indeed she is,” Stella agreed, “And she wanted me to check on you both. Breakfast will be ready soon.”

 

“Then, we better head downstairs,” said Bloom, helping Midoriya up to his feet.

 


 

“Good morning, sunshine,” Mike greeted his daughter, “And good morning to you too, Midoriya. Did you both sleep well?”

 

“I did, can’t say the same for Midoriya though,” Bloom replied.

 

“Oh? What happened?” asked Mike, as Vanessa placed plates of scrambled eggs, bacon and buttered toast on the table.

 

“I had a nightmare,” the teen replied, “I saw my mom, who is alone back in my world. She was searching desperately for me, but I couldn’t reach or call out to her.”

 

“Oh dear, how are you feeling now?” asked Vanessa as she sat down.

 

Midoriya gave a small smile, “I’m feeling slightly better now, Vanessa-san. Bloom-san and Stella-san were there to keep me grounded and away from plunging into hysterics.”

 

“I’m glad to hear that,” Vanessa nodded in relief, “Come, let’s eat.”

 

“Itadakimasu.”

 

Pausing briefly to let Midoriya finish, everyone tucked into the first meal of the day.

 

“So Bloom,” said Mike, “Your mom and I have been speaking about yesterday’s events.”

 

“And you’ll let us go to Alfea?” asked Bloom with a tad bit of excitement.

 

“Yes Bloom,” Vanessa nodded, “We think it’s best that you and Midoriya follow Stella to Alfea to learn how to use your new powers. You two are going to become your own person soon, and that should include being able to look out for yourselves and others. If Alfea is the right place for you two learn that - which according to Stella, it is - then we’ve got your backs.”

 

“Thanks Mom, Dad!” Bloom gushed happily, “You’re the best!”

 

“Your support fills me with ease, Vanessa-san, Mike-san,” said Midoriya gratefully.

 

“Think nothing of it, dear,” the Davis matriarch took the boy’s hand reassuringly, “While you’re here, you are our child just as Bloom is.”

 

Midoriya’s breath hitched. His eyes became a little watery, but he quickly rubbed the incoming tears away before the dam broke.

 

“T-Thank you so much, Vanessa-san. I-I’m really honoured.”

 

Vanessa smiled warmly, squeezing Midoriya’s hand supportively.

 

Stella spoke up, “I hate to shift from such a heartwarming moment, but I do have a question to ask.” She turned to Mike and Vanessa, “Do you two have any plans today?” They shook their heads. “Great! Because I was thinking that we should all take a day-trip to Magix to clear our heads and get Midoriya ready for Alfea!”

 

That piqued Mike’s curiosity, “Magix?”

 

“It’s the capital city of the magical realm,” Stella explained, “Since Bloom and Midoriya are going to be attending Alfea, I figured that we should get them acquainted with the magical realm, so that things will be a bit less alien starting tomorrow. And it wouldn’t be polite of me to not bring you two along as well. Plus, I don’t think you would like it if Midoriya were to steal your entire wardrobe, Mike, so I thought a bit of clothes-shopping will help him start the new term with the right look.”

 

“You’re right on that one, Stella,” Mike agreed.

 

“Will it take long?” asked Vanessa.

 

“Not at all!” Stella replied easily, “As I mentioned earlier, inter-realm travel is really easy. Granted, it will take a bit more effort to do it properly for a group, but nothing I can’t handle!”

 

That seemed to seal the deal.

 

“Well c’mon then!” Bloom urged, already finishing up her breakfast, “Let’s get moving!”

 


 

After food was finished and dishes loaded into the washer, everyone went about freshening themselves up before the trip to Magix. Once ready, they all gathered in the still-wrecked living room, a curious Kiko in Bloom’s hand.

 

“So how are you going to get us to Magix, Stella?” asked Mike.

 

“Simple, really,” said Stella, taking off her ring, “My sceptre does the work for me.” The ring extended into her sceptre, “Now hold onto your stomachs!”

 

Midoriya braced himself, as did Bloom, her parents and Kiko.

 

“Magic of Solaria! Take us to Magix!”

 

Stella raised her sceptre, as a bright light burst outwards from within. The light enveloped the room, growing brighter by the second. Everything began to shift and distort, when suddenly, the floor seemed to disappear as if ceasing to exist. Midoriya once again experienced that still-familiar feeling of tumbling through a void, although this fall was more gradual instead of a high-speed plunge. The entire transition lasted several moments, culminating in the group falling through a burst of light that disrupted the smooth scape of the void.

 

There was a sudden jolt, and they were deposited on a grassy surface, Stella landing with more finesse than her entourage.

 

“We’re here!” said Stella, shrinking her sceptre back into her ring, “Now that wasn’t so bad, right?”

 

Mike and Vanessa were preordained to disagree, both looking rather pale and queasy. Bloom and Midoriya quickly got to their feet to help the two adults up.

 

“Never again for me, you hear that?” Mike grumbled as he attempted to get his bearings together.

 

Vanessa took less time to steady herself. She looked around, taking in the hilly landscape covered in trees, “So this is Magix, huh?”

 

“Not quite,” Stella corrected, “We’re in the portion of the Enchanted Forest just outside of Alfea, which is just over there.”

 

Everyone turned to where the blonde pointed towards.

 

“Oh wow, it’s beautiful…” Mike breathed in awe at the towering twin turrets that could be seen poking over the trees. Bloom and Midoriya had to agree with him on that, for it was one thing to see the school in a simulation, but another thing altogether to see it for real in front of their eyes.

 

“She is, isn’t it?” Stella grinned knowingly, “Well, we shouldn’t dilly-dally, let’s get a move on!”

 

Following her lead, the group trooped down the hill in the direction towards Alfea. 

 

“I’ve been thinking, I wonder what the admissions record is like for Alf-”

 

Mike suddenly collided with something head-on, prompting everyone to stop in their tracks.

 

“H-Hey! What gives?” he tried pushing against whatever was blocking his path, to no avail, which only added to the mystery since there didn’t appear to be anything there, “There’s like an invisible wall! I can’t get through it!”

 

“Really?” Vanessa wondered. She went up to her husband’s side, and stuck her hand out. True enough, she felt something solid over her palm.

 

“Where?” Bloom asked in confusion. She took a few steps past her parents, looked around, and held her hand up to feel the air, “I don’t feel anything.” Kiko hopped after his owner, sniffing the supposedly empty air.

 

Midoriya followed Bloom, taking a second to scan the surroundings, “Me neither. Maybe something was there but it’s now gone?”

 

“Oopsie,” Stella realised, “Sorry, I forgot to mention, but there is a barrier that keeps non-magical beings out of Magix.” To prove her point, she formed a glowing ball of light in her hand, and tossed it towards Bloom and Midoriya. The ball hit the barrier, and rippled out, exposing the dome-like protection separating the teens from Mike and Vanessa.

 

“So does that mean my parents can’t come?” asked Bloom disappointedly.

 

“No need to fret,” Stella shook her head, “While the barrier typically keeps any lost humans and other non-magical creatures out, there is a simple way to bypass it.” She raised her hand, and two sparkling orbs fluttered from her fingertips. They hovered over Mike and Vanessa, raining down a shower of sparkles over the two adults. A few moments later, the orbs vanished. The two adults started, their bodies were glowing with a soft yellow light.

 

“When you’re covered in magic, it’s easy to trick the barrier into letting you in,” Stella continued, “Granted, the magic will wear off eventually, but we’ve got a full day’s cover on that, so there’s nothing to worry about!”

 

Mike and Vanessa glanced at one another. They took a few tentative steps forward, pausing at where the barrier stood. After a brief moment of trepidation, they stepped through, phasing through the barrier just like the teens did before them. 

 

Mike shuddered, unused to the feeling of magic brushing over his skin, “At least it’s not as bad as inter-realm travel…”

 

“You’ll get used to it,” Stella reassured, “Now, since we’re all here and ready, let’s head down to the gates of Alfea. There’s a bus station that will take us to Magix.”

 

Leading the group, Stella guided them through the trees until a dirt road opened up before them. Across it, was the gates of Alfea.

 

“Wow, it looks even more amazing close up,” Bloom commented.

 

“Do you think we can take a peek inside?” asked Vanessa curiously as they neared the gates.

 

“Sorry, but Alfea only opens its gates to purely magical beings,” Stella replied, “It’s for security reasons. My magic cover wouldn’t work under the school’s enchantments. As far as I can tell, only special dispensation from Headmistress Faragonda will allow non-magical beings inside.”

 

“That’s a shame,” Mike scratched his head.

 

“Well we can’t have everything, as much as we’d like to,” Stella shrugged, glancing down the road, “And right on time, I’d say.”

 

A blue-coloured, dual-carriage vehicle pulled up in front of them. Bloom was quick to realise that it was hovering over the ground, and it had no wheels. The doors opened with a hiss, and a small flight of steps lowered for them.

 

“Follow me everyone.”

 

On Stella’s lead, the group boarded the hover-bus.

 

“Where to and for how many, miss?” the driver asked.

 

“To Magix main station, and for five please,” Stella replied.

 

The driver pressed a button on the dashboard. A machine started beeping, a series of symbols flashing over the interface.

 

“That would be fifteen roneos in total,” said the driver.

 

Midoriya blinked. He may not know the currency exchange rate between this supposed roneo and the Japanese yen (if such a rate even exists), but fifteen roneos seemed like a fair bit of cash there.

 

“All on me, good sir,” said Stella, taking out what looked like a credit card. She waved the card over a slightly raised pad, which flashed green with a beeping sound. The driver nodded, and to the right, a glass door slid open, revealing the passenger compartment inside.

 

“Thank you for travelling with us,” the driver nodded to the group as they filed in.

 

There were only a few passengers on board, so finding seats for five was no issue. No sooner had everyone sat down, the glass door slid shut, as did the front doors. The bus whirred into life, and began gliding down the road away from Alfea.

 

Midoriya, Bloom and Kiko turned to look out the window. At the moment, all they could see was trees and more trees rushing past on the admittedly-smooth journey towards the capital.

 

“This is a really interesting vehicle,” Vanessa remarked.

 

“Definitely,” Stella agreed, “The ride is so smooth that you often forget that you’re travelling unless you look out the window. On the same note, I don’t recommend sleeping, unless you are able to wake up at the right time for your stop.”

 

“Taken from experience?” asked Mike with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Not really, but you occasionally hear some funny stories every now and then,” Stella revealed, “Like there was one fairy from Alfea a couple of years back. She was so tired after a day out in Magix that she fell into a really deep sleep on the ride back. Her friends thought it would be a funny idea to leave her behind on the bus to see how long it will take for her to wake up and realise she missed her stop. It turns out, she was only found the next morning, still sleeping, at the depot when the new driver came in and found her inside the bus when he was starting his shift.”

 

“That’s not very nice of them,” Vanessa clicked her tongue disapprovingly.

 

“True, but you can’t help but chuckle a bit at her misfortune and the absurdity of it all,” Stella shrugged.

 

The conversation then shifted away from travelling blunders to more general questions about the realm itself. Midoriya and Bloom occasionally joined in, but spent most of the ride watching the city come closer and closer as the bus eventually reached the outskirts. The trees were beginning to thin out, replacing with low-rise buildings that they could identify as either suburbs or shops. Traffic was also beginning to pick up, but the smoothness from before was still maintained to some degree, only breaking at traffic lights.

 

“We’re almost reaching the downtown core,” Stella said, “I estimate another ten minutes before we reach the main station.”

 

The hover-bus crossed several overpasses, and all around, there were signs that the city was truly taking over. The buildings were growing in height, rising into every shape thinkable. There were more people walking along the sidewalks, and the traffic was growing heavier. Bloom and Midoriya were looking around with wonder, and for the former, a significant level of confusion.

 

“Huh...Magix isn’t what I was expecting,” Bloom remarked.

 

“What do you mean?” asked Stella.

 

“I was kinda expecting something more fantasy-like,” Bloom explained, “Like apothecaries, marketplaces, dragons, flying brooms, elves, unicorns, all those sort of things. I didn’t expect it to look so much like Gardenia...a more futuristic version of Gardenia, that is.”

 

“Oh Bloom,” Stella threw an arm around the redhead’s shoulders, “that’s all fairy tale nonsense, and not to mention old-fashioned. This is the real Magix, where magic and modern technology come together to create the most enchanted city in the magical realm. Just about everyone uses magic for their daily needs.” The bus came to a stop at a traffic light. “Look, see that lady over there?”

 

All eyes turned to where Stella was pointing. A primly-dressed lady was standing along a roadside parking section. She snapped her fingers, and the parked vehicles (all wheel-less, like the hover-bus) parted like the Red Sea. The empty gap suddenly descended, and a few seconds later, reappeared with a white vehicle on it. The lady got into the vehicle, and drove off, the gap closing itself moments later.

 

“That’s kinda cool,” Bloom noted.

 

“And not to mention efficient,” Vanessa added.

 

“Yep!” Stella gushed, “Magic truly is a lifesaver!”

 

The traffic light turned green, and the bus moved again. After taking a right turn, it joined other hover-buses heading into a huge multi-tiered building Bloom and Midoriya surmised was the city’s main station. It took a while for the bus to actually enter the building, due to the buildup going in at the same time. 

 

The main station was something that was not unlike what the teens had been expecting. There were many berths for different buses on different routes, people going about their business - alighting, disembarking or walking to and from buses - , and drivers on break or running their buses in and out of the station.

 

Finally, the bus the group were in pulled up at a berth.

 

“We’re here,” said Stella as she got up, “Follow me!”

 

The back doors hissed open, and steps lowered out into the station floor. The group disembarked, looking about curiously.

 

“Come with me everyone!” Stella called over the general din.

 

The group followed the blonde through the berths, arriving at a set of doors that led to what looked like an arrival hall. Just like with the berths, the hall was busy with people rushing about, queuing up and milling around. They made a quick move through the hall, until another set of doors led them to the road and city outside.

 

“So what we just left is the Magix Main Station,” Stella explained, “the main transport hub servicing the city and the surrounding area. Where we are headed is one of the city’s biggest shopping districts, which is only a five-minute walk from here. So, on that note, let’s get moving!”

 

They began their journey down the pavement, leaving the station behind as they crossed several roads. It was mostly smooth-sailing, save for one incident where a hover-car zoomed too close to the pavement, startling Midoriya who had been walking closest to the edge and actually felt the vehicle skim past.

 

“Well at least Magix is just like any other city,” Mike huffed as Vanessa tried to calm the teen down, “Asshole drivers with no depth of field.”

 

That minor hiccup aside, the group arrived at the shopping district with relative ease. Just like at the station, it was filled with people going about their business. 

 

“Alrighty!” Stella clapped her hands, “Let’s get started!”

 

“Stella-san, you don’t have to go all out on this,” Midoriya tried to remind her, “Just something simple will be fine!”

 

“Oh don’t you worry,” the blonde took his hand, “We are keeping things simple. But simple also requires variety. You can’t just go about wearing the same old style everyday! I’m a fashionista, that is something I go by on a daily basis!”

 

Without waiting for any further protests, Stella dragged Midoriya into the throngs of people, leaving Bloom and her parents to catch up with them.

 


 

The entire shopping spree lasted several hours and spanned about half the district. Midoriya quickly lost count of the number of different types of clothing he was made to try on and parade under Stella’s appraising eye. Some were of his suggestion, of course, and a few were accepted while the rest rejected. Everything - t-shirts, shirts, jackets, tank-tops, vests, shorts, bermudas, jeans, pants, the list goes on - was included and thrown into a bottomless, shrinkable bag Stella reassured was able to hold all the purchases. And that was not including all the accessories - hats, gloves, jewellery, watches, scarves - that Stella had him try on and throw into the bag. Stella had wanted to go for shoes, but that was one line Midoriya vehemently refused to cross. As he told her, “You can take my high-tops over my dead body.”, just as a nearby fire hydrant exploded.

 

By mid-afternoon, the entire group was exhausted, save for Stella, who seemed to thrive from the constant moving about and fashion tryouts. It was only the grumbling of stomachs that made Stella realise the time, and herd everyone into a restaurant for a late lunch.

 

“I didn’t know Magix had such Earth-like cuisine,” Bloom remarked as they left, thinking about the pasta-like dish she had.

 

“Same,” Midoriya nodded, “I presumed that since we are in a different realm, that the cuisine would be different, or at least, have distinguishing qualities that set it apart from cuisine from Earth. But the cuisine is remarkably similar - from appearance, smell, taste - uncannily so. Does this mean that there is some connection between Magix and Earth? Do the magical beings here know about the many different cuisines on Earth? Or is it the other way round? Did the inhabitants of Earth learn cuisine from Magix? Or- ”

 

Having devolved into his habit of muttering, Midoriya didn’t notice the coming danger until it was too late.

 

A random person, in their hurry for who knows what, pushed past Midoriya. The teen let out a startled gasp, pirouetting on his heel as his centre of gravity shifted. Trying to righten himself, his emerald curls swept over his eyes, blinding him for a second. That single second was more than enough for him to momentarily lose his sense of orientation. The inevitable train-wreck came piling in when he accidentally crashed into another random shopper in his confusion, knocking them both to the ground.

 

“Watch where you’re going, you fucker!”

 

The shopper picked themselves up, roughly pushing against Midoriya before storming off. Bloom, her parents and Stella rushed forward to help him up.

 

“Honestly, the nerve of that bastard!” Vanessa exclaimed, as she helped wipe the dust off from Midoriya’s clothes.

 

“Midoriya, are you okay?” Bloom asked worriedly.

 

“I...I’m fine.”

 

As Bloom and her parents fussed over the green-haired teen, Stella stared at the direction the shopper had stormed off to. She turned back to Midoriya, eyeing his curly locks that were falling haphazardly over his face from the accidental tumble.

 

She considered the thought that came to mind.

 

“Let’s move somewhere less crowded,” Mike suggested.

 

The notion was agreed unanimously. Flanking Midoriya from all sides, the group moved away from the main street to a pathway that had significantly less foot traffic. As luck would have it, there were a couple of benches against a row of lampposts. Midoriya was immediately sat down on one, Bloom and Vanessa by his side.

 

“I-I’m so sorry, I-”

 

“No, Midoriya, listen to me,” Vanessa took his hands, “It’s not your fault. It was an accident. Those people were in the wrong.”

 

It took a few moments to get him to calm down. 

 

“Are you hurt anywhere?” Bloom asked.

 

“No...I think I’m fine,” Midoriya replied.

 

Nodding his assertation, he stood up from the bench, Bloom and Vanessa also doing so.

 

“It was my hair,” Midoriya explained, “It blocked my vision when that person pushed past me. I got disoriented, and I collided with the other person as a result.”

 

Stella turned to him, “In that case, I think an emergency haircut is in order. Having unruly hair that can blind you is a hazard in itself. Luckily, I know of a hair salon or two in this district. Come, let’s get going to sort this out.”

 

The blonde grabbed his hand and led him back into the district. Bloom and her parents quickly followed them.

 

It took them about ten minutes to locate the hair salon Stella had in mind. After a short wait, Midoriya was settled down into a seat, a large cloth draped over his body.

 

“How would you like it done, sonny?” asked his stylist, a heavily-tattooed middle-aged woman with piercings, asked.

 

Midoriya was suddenly at a loss. He hadn’t thought of anything in the haste to get here.

 

“Um…”

 

Stella stepped in, “Something that is practical, but also stylish.”

 

“Right away,” the stylist grabbed a shaver, “Now you just relax, honey, leave everything to me.”

 

The sound of the electric razor buzzing away filled the salon. Midoriya watched with some detachment as the hair on the left side was shaved off, the curls falling off like feathers when a bird sheds them during each moulting. The hair along the bottom slope of his head was also shaved. His remaining curls and fringe were trimmed and combed to the right. The stylist applied a solution that appeared to straighten the curls slightly, which she then left to settle. 

 

After a minute or so, she returned, “Alright sonny, up you get. Time for a shampoo.”

 

Midoriya followed her to the back of the salon, where a row of reclined seats with basins attached at the head awaited. He got onto one, and leaned back, head directly over the basin. The stylist took the small shower nozzle, and turned the tap on. Midoriya shuddered slightly as the cold water hit his exposed scalp, the stylist running her fingers through his hair to wet it completely. Turning the water off, she applied some shampoo onto her palm, and worked it vigorously into his scalp. Midoriya actually felt himself sagging in bliss from the massage, whatever tension from before leaving his body as those hands did their magic. 

 

One final rinse later, “Okay sonny, just a blow-dry, and you’re ready for your family to see.”

 

Half-asleep from the head massage, Midoriya barely registered himself getting up from the recliner. Sitting back down on the salon seat, the sound of a hair-dryer whirring to life slowly brought him back into reality, the hot air tossing his curls about and wicking away any excess moisture.

 

A final run-through with a towel, and he was ready.

 

“I’ve gotta say, sonny, you look real smashin’,” the stylist remarked with a satisfied nod.

 

Midoriya opened his eyes. He bit back a gasp.

 

‘Oh wow…’

 

What was once a head full of messy curls that stuck out in all directions was now tamed down into a voguish undercut, neatly shaved and artfully styled to give him a rather rogue-like appearance.

 

Stella gave it a thumbs up, “Yep! You look ready to slay with this new look.”

 

Midoriya ran a hand through his hair, “It feels...lighter.”

 

“Definitely,” Stella nodded, “Now c’mon! Let’s show the others the new you!”

 

Bloom and her parents naturally had praises to give when Midoriya was finally presented to them in the waiting area.

 

“You look marvellous, dear,” Vanessa smiled.

 

“Really cool!” Bloom gushed, “You’ve got the bad-boy vibes, Midoriya!”

 

His face turned pink with embarrassment under the weight of such acclaims. Kiko didn’t help by hopping onto his shoulder, feeling up the shaved part of his head, and giving the rabbit-equivalent of a thumbs-up.

 

Stella paid the stylist for her troubles, and the group stepped back out into the sunlight.

 

“So that’s that settled,” she turned to the group, “I think we can still squeeze in a bit more shopping, yeah?”

 

“C’mon Stella,” Bloom groaned, “We’ve been at it for hours already! I think we’ve shopped enough.”

 

“But why?” the blonde asked, “There’s no such thing as too much shopping!”

 

“Stella-san,” Midoriya interjected, “Without going into exaggeration, I think we bought out at least one third of the shopping district! Plus, I don’t actually need that many clothes!”

 

“Oh nonsense!” Stella brushed off, “Again, there’s no such thing as too many clothes! There are lots of occasions in life that warrant the variety, you know? You never know when the right moment or opportunity will come and you should look your best to catch it in your hand!”

 

“Stella, while I’m all for preparing Midoriya for his first term at Alfea tomorrow,” Vanessa stepped in, “I think he has enough clothes to last his entire education there and then some after. I think we’ve shopped enough for one day.”

 

The blonde considered her words, “Well...when you put it that way…” after a moment of thought, she relented, “Fine, we’ll call it a day.” She turned to Midoriya, “But don’t you think for a second that I won’t drag you back here when the next line of in-season designs comes out.”

 

Midoriya sweatdropped, “I’ll...take whatever I can get, I suppose.”

 

“Well on that note,” Vanessa continued, “I think it’s time we all headed back home. Mike needs to sort out the damage with the insurers, and I just remembered that today is casserole night!”

 

“Oh great, Mom!” Bloom cheered, “I’ve always loved your casseroles!”

 

“Mhm!” the matriarch nodded, “And if we want it to come out right, I will need a few hours to get it done. So Stella, could you bring us back to Gardenia?”

“Sure thing, Vanessa! We’ll just go back the way we came!”

 

“I just hope she meant backtracking to the station and not go through every single shop that we visited…” Mike muttered to himself as they walked down the street.

 


 

Back in the Davises’ living room, a bright flash of light burst out from the thin air. The light grew into a swirling vortex, as the Davises, Stella, Midoriya and Kiko came tumbling out like laundry from an out-of-control washing machine.

 

“Urgh...second time and still not used to it…” Mike groaned as his head spun.

 

“It takes a couple of tries,” Stella reassured as she shrunk her sceptre, “Most would actually vomit on their first few trips, so I’d say you’re doing really good actually!”

 

“Charming,” Midoriya replied.

 

Everyone picked themselves up and dusted off their clothes.

 

“Do you need help with dinner, Mom?” asked Bloom.

 

“No worries, honey, I’ve got it handled,” Vanessa declined, “And besides, Stella’s magic still has an effect on me. I’m curious to find out if it can help with the cooking in anyway.”

 

“Why don’t you three go and prepare for tomorrow? I’m sure you have plenty of things to pack,” Mike suggested.

 

“Alright, we’ll leave things to you then,” said Bloom.

 

The three teens exited the living room and made their way up the stairs.

 

“That reminds me, Stella-san,” Midoriya suddenly realised, “Shouldn’t you have let your parents know that you’re safe on Earth and you don’t have any ogres or ghouls still chasing you through dimensions? They must be quite worried about you.”

 

“Ah yes, I intend to return to Solaria tonight just to assure everyone that I’m still alive,” Stella nodded, “But don’t worry, I’ll be back tomorrow to bring you both to Alfea.”

 

The blonde seemed nonchalant about it all, but Midoriya noticed something in her eyes. A quick flash of something darker, more negative. He couldn’t pinpoint what it was, since it was gone so quickly, but he knew it was there. He nodded nonetheless, filing that bit of information away in case it ever came up again.

 

“Would you like to stay for dinner, at least?” Bloom offered.

 

“Oh, I'd love to,” Stella nodded, “Dinners back home are quite a bore sometimes, and I really enjoy your Mom’s cooking, Bloom!”

 

The redhead smiled, while Midoriya hummed. There it was again, that darker undertone in Stella’s words. The shadow in the brightness that the blonde seemed to radiate. Midoriya’s intuitive mind came to the conclusion that all wasn’t well back in Solaria. What exactly that troubled paradise he wasn’t sure, and he wasn’t going to ask Stella until she decided it best to share with them. 

 

It was only common courtesy, after all.

 

“So anyway, Midoriya,” Stella turned to him, “Let’s decide on your outfit for tomorrow. I was thinking…”

 

Yep, that conversation could wait for another time. He had bigger fish to fry now.

 


 

The next morning came, the time had arrived.

 

The Davis family had gathered in the living room, hugging one another and saying their farewells.

 

“Now you two have a wonderful time at Alfea,” said Vanessa, “Remember to study hard and make plenty of friends.”

 

“We will,” Midoriya replied, “Thank you so much for your hospitality, Vanessa-san. I really most appreciate it.”

 

“Think nothing of it, Midoriya,” the matriarch smiled, “Remember, you are just as much of a son to us as Bloom is our daughter.”

 

The green-haired teen hugged Vanessa again.

 

“Don’t forget to call us every night, Bloom,” Mike reminded, “And don’t get involved in too many hijinks.”

 

“I won’t,” the redhead nodded, Kiko hopping up onto her shoulder.

 

“Come along you two, Alfea isn’t going to wait for us!” said Stella.

 

Nodding, Bloom went to get her luggage, Midoriya the expandable, bottomless bag that was used for the shopping trip the day before. They came up to Stella’s side. With everything ready, the blonde took off her ring and extended it into her sceptre.

 

“Magic of Solaria, transport us to Alfea!”

 

The sceptre glowed, producing a flash of light that enveloped the room. Midoriya could barely see his hosts in the light, but he was able to wave one more time to them and thank them for everything they have done for him as the floor disappeared and the trio were sent tumbling through the void. A few moments later, the void opened in the magical realm, depositing them in a flurry of sparkles.

 

“Everyone made it?” Stella checked. Receiving nods around, “Good, now it’s time to make a dazzling entrance!”

 

Midoriya released a breath, quickly catching up with Stella with Bloom by his side. Already, he could see Alfea in the distance, and a fair bit of people entering her gates. He had no idea what to expect once he passed through himself, but he knew that things were going to be far from dull in this new environment.

 

With so much to learn, discover and acquire, he really hoped that Alfea would teach him and Bloom well.

 


To Be Continued.


 

 

Chapter Text

“Gosh…there are so many people here,” Bloom remarked with interest.

 

As the trio got closer to the gates, the livelier the atmosphere seemed to become. Everywhere that can be looked, girls of all heights, shapes and sizes loitered around. Some were greeting friends with varying degrees of energy, some were clustered together in cliques talking about who knows what. Others mingled in pairs or trios. On the other hand, Bloom also observed a good number just ignoring everyone else and making their way through the gates, some with nonchalance as if this was just any other regular day, and others with nervousness as if they were about to be sent to the guillotine. 

 

To be honest, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Bloom was feeling nervous herself. Not in the ‘about-to-die’ kind of way as several of the girls around them were exhibiting, but in the ‘what-is-going-to-happen?’ manner. 

 

She had no idea what to expect here in Alfea. Will she get along with her classmates and teachers? Will she, Stella and Midoriya be in the same class? Or will they be separated? Are the teachers strict or easy-going? Will the food be good? Will the lessons be difficult to understand, or will it be a walk in the park? She had no answers, and it both excited and worried her.

 

For Midoriya, he too was nervous, but for a completely different reason.

 

As far as he could tell, he was the only boy in a sea of girls.

 

Rightfully, that shouldn’t mean anything. He had nothing against girls, or the female gender as a whole. But like Bloom before him, he didn’t know what to expect from this female-dominated environment. Will his soon-to-be classmates be nice, or at the least, civil, to him? Or will they scorn him like all of his classmates back in his old world?

 

But then again, he hadn’t seen any Bakugou-like characters yet, so perhaps there was hope for him this time round.

 

Midoriya took a deep breath. He mustn’t jump to conclusions now. Anything was possible. For now though, he should stick with Stella and Bloom.

 

And perhaps take the moment to appreciate just how beautiful Alfea was.

 

“Alfea’s just as beautiful inside as it is outside,” he remarked.

 

“You betcha’,” Stella nodded, glancing to the right. Suddenly, her carefree smile dropped, “And that’s the one ugly thing that spoils the beauty here.”

 

“Huh?” Midoriya started.

 

“Over there,” Stella pointed.

 

Bloom and Midoriya followed their guide’s finger, honing in on a severe-looking middle-aged woman holding a clipboard and quill in front of a queue of freshmen.

 

“Who’s she?” asked Bloom.

 

“She doesn’t look that friendly…” Midoriya muttered, feeling his nervousness creep back in.

 

“That’s Griselda, head of discipline,” Stella said as if swallowing something sour, “Friendliness isn’t a word in her dictionary, and she has a stick stuck so far up her nonexistent ass that I’m surprised it hasn’t come out through her mouth yet.”

 

Bloom and Midoriya eyed one another uncertainly, even more so when they overheard the conversation taking place between Griselda and the freshman at the start of the queue.

 

“Name and place of origin?”

 

“Um…Eleanor of Delona...” the frightened girl shrank under the older woman’s unforgiving gaze, “I signed up online, m-my name should be there.”

 

“Hm...I don’t see it. I hope you know the consequences for people who show up and aren’t on the list?”

 

Judging by the slight shudder in Eleanor’s form, she knew quite well, “M-My name has just o-one ‘L’ in it.”

 

“Ah, there it is, Eleanor of Delona,” Griselda checked off a box, “You may come in.”

 

“Thank heavens…” Eleanor’s relief was clear as she quickly hurried past with her luggage, not wanting to spend another moment in the terrifying woman’s presence.

 

“Next!”

 

“Stella, you didn’t tell us that there was an enrollment list!” Bloom hissed, both annoyed and worried.

 

“I don’t want to be turned into whatever they do to people who aren’t on the list!” Midoriya shivered.

 

The blonde considered the current predicament, “Hmm...should have realised this earlier. If it was just Bloom, she could easily pass off as the Princess of Vallisto, but…”

 

“Princess of what?” Bloom raised an eyebrow.

 

“The Princess of Vallisto was supposed to enroll this year, but something happened so she’s being homeschooled instead. Bloom could easily take her place, I just won’t give the letter the Princess tasked me to give to Faragonda about the change of plans,” said Stella.

 

“But that leaves me without a place,” Midoriya pointed at himself.

 

“And there is no way I am stealing someone’s identity just to avoid trouble,” Bloom added firmly, “it will only come back to bite us in the future.”

 

“So what do we do?” asked Midoriya.

 

Bloom glanced at Griselda, “You mentioned this Faragonda person before, Stella. And you said she’s the headmistress here at Alfea? Is she nice?”

 

“That’s right. And she’s way more kinder than Griselda.”

 

“And in theory, she should have authority over Griselda, am I right?”

 

“Should be.”

 

“Then here’s what I think we should do,” Bloom continued, “As much as Griselda makes me nervous, I think we should approach her and push for an audience with Headmistress Faragonda. We should explain our situations, and appeal to her to let us enroll. I may not have full certainty about the outcome, but I’m willing to bet my chances that Faragonda will let us stay.”

 

“I’m all for Bloom-san’s plan,” Midoriya made clear straight away.

 

Stella agreed that having a plan was better than having none at all, “Alright, let’s do this.”

 

The trio nodded. The queue had shortened by then, only two freshmen left in line to face Griselda. They quickly took their places at the back. Within moments, it was their turn. The head of discipline looked up from her clipboard, her already stern scowl grew even sterner.

 

“Ah, look who has decided to grace us with her shining presence back among these walls.”

 

“Long time no see, Ms. G,” Stella smiled airily.

 

“Far too soon if you ask me,” Griselda’s voice dripped with contempt, “I haven’t the foggiest idea how your parents managed to convince the school board to take you back, especially after that incident last year.”

 

“They did promise to contribute to the general upkeep of the school for the next five years,” Stella stuck out her tongue cheekily, “And it’s going to take a lot more to get rid of me, you know.”

 

Midoriya wondered about that little incident. What could have happened?

 

“As I should know by now,” Griselda sighed exasperatedly. Her attention turned to Bloom standing on Stella’s left, and then to Midoriya. He tried his best not to freeze. “And who are your friends? As far as I know, only students of Alfea are allowed within Alfea’s grounds today. No family or unenrolled friends. And young man, you’ve come to the wrong place. Red Fountain is across the Enchanted Forest from here.”

 

Bloom swallowed her nerves and put her best firm face forward, “We know that, Ms. Griselda. But that’s not why we are here with Stella. We would like to meet with Headmistress Faragonda.”

 

The older woman raised a thin eyebrow, “And your names are?”

 

“Bloom Davis, from Earth.”

 

“M-Midoriya Izuku, also from Earth.”

 

Griselda scanned her checklist quickly, “Clearly, your names are not on the list. I don’t know what exactly you are trying to accomplish here, but you clearly have no business here in Alfea. I will give you this only opportunity. Leave or I will be forced to turn you two into-”

 

“We may be from Earth,” Bloom pushed down her growing fear and took a determined step forward, “but we have magic powers.”

 

That took the head of discipline by surprise, “Come again?”

 

“We have magic powers,” Bloom repeated, “Me and Midoriya.”

 

“A likely story-”

 

“Let us show you, Ms. Griselda,” the redhead interrupted, “Prove that we are not lying to you.”

 

By now, a small crowd had gathered around the unfolding scene. Freshmen and returning students watched curiously, wondering about what has gotten the feared (or for some, repulsed) Griselda all winded up. Some were staring at Stella, a few at Bloom, and more at Midoriya, naturally not expecting a boy at Alfea.

 

There was nothing but tense silence for a few moments.

 

“Very well,” Griselda crossed her arms, “show to everyone watching your powers.”

 

Bloom nodded. She relaxed herself, closed her eyes, and concentrated. Midoriya did the same. For a few seconds, nothing happened, and the watching students began whispering to one another.

 

Then, something happened.

 

The clipboard Griselda was holding quivered, and shot out of her hand into the air. Before anyone could comment, it smacked the head of discipline right across the face, before falling to the ground. Bloom’s concentration snapped with a gasp, which disrupted Midoriya’s own channeling. 

 

Across the courtyard, there was a wishing well. From within came a rumbling sound, followed by the rush of all the water inside it shooting up into the air. It arched over the courtyard, and rained down on a still-stunned Griselda, drenching her completely. 

 

Gasps echoed among the spectating students, followed by peals of laughter. Those who feared or hated the older woman revelled in her humiliation and her drowned-cat state. Stella had no problems joining in the laughter, while Midoriya and Bloom were both stricken.

 

Many colours flashed across Griselda’s face.

 

“Silence!” she barked.

 

All laughter abruptly cut off.

 

Griselda took a deep breath. She readjusted her askew spectacles, and picked up her clipboard.

 

“You three, follow me to the headmistress’ office right now.”

 

With as much dignity as she could muster while still dripping wet, Griselda turned on her heel and walked off. After a bit of prompting from Stella, Bloom and Midoriya quickly followed.

 


 

In her office overlooking the entire campus, Headmistress Faragonda, a bespectacled elderly woman of average height with white hair, was going through some final papers before she was to meet the year’s incoming batch of students and introduce them into life at Alfea.

 

As she took a sip of her tea, a knock came from the door.

 

“Enter.”

 

The door opened. She looked up from her papers. She started at what she saw.

 

“Griselda, what happened? Why are you completely drenched?”

 

“What happened…” the head of discipline bit out, “were these three, Ms. Faragonda.”

 

Faragonda glanced at the trio and sighed, “Alright, what did you do this time, Princess Stella? It’s only the start of the year and-”

 

“Oh it’s not me, Ms. Faragonda,” the blonde stepped forward, “Actually, I want to introduce you to my two friends from Earth, Bloom and Midoriya.”

 

The elderly headmistress started again, “Earth?”

 

“That’s right!” Stella nodded, “And they have magic powers too! Ms. Griselda can vouch for that.”

 

Faragonda turned to her deputy.

 

“If by vouch, you mean getting hit across the face by my clipboard and having all the water from the courtyard well dumped on you, then yes, I can say that,” Griselda sniffed.

 

Faragonda considered this, before returning the stern woman, “Go and change, Griselda dear. Let me handle this.”

 

“Yes, Headmistress.”

 

Casting one last scowl at the three teens, Griselda exited the room. Once she was gone, Faragonda turned towards them, face carefully neutral.

 

“Now, I am going to need some context here. Can all three of you explain?”

 

The next fifteen minutes were spent retelling the events of the day before yesterday. Stella recounted how Knut and the ghouls accosted her in Solaria, forcing her to flee and somehow ending up on Earth. Bloom added how she found Stella fighting said ogre and ghouls in the park clearing, and the unexpected moment where she conjured the shield of fire which reduced two of the ghouls to ashes. But perhaps the most interesting account was that of Midoriya’s. He repeated what he told Vanessa to Faragonda - somehow ending up in Bloom’s Earth from his own - and the awakening of his own powers when he blasted the ghouls into a tree with a geyser of water. Then the story shifted the home invasion by a hunting troll, and the subsequent chaos of that evening.

 

“And to prove that we aren’t making it up, you can contact Red Fountain about it. Specialists Riven, Timmy, Rykios, Sky and Brandon can account for the troll,” Stella added.

 

By the end of it, Faragonda found herself quite staggered by what she had heard.

 

“Well! I must say that this is truly the most incredible account I’ve ever heard in all of my years.”

 

Bloom and Midoriya glanced at one another, unsure of what was about to happen. Faragonda stood up from her chair, and walked over to the expansive window behind her.

 

“You must understand, my dears, that there hasn’t been a single magical being on Earth for centuries. Magic simply does not exist there as far as history goes. But then you, Bloom,” she turned to the redhead, “out of nowhere, develop powers with an affinity of fire in a moment of sheer panic. This is simply unheard of, let alone conceivable.”

 

Faragonda then turned to Midoriya, “And then there is you, Midoriya. You’ve come tumbling out of a parallel Earth into Bloom’s Earth, and awaken powers with a water affinity, again something that shouldn’t be possible.”

 

The green-haired teen fidgeted, “There’s a lot of things we don’t know, Faragonda-san. The only thing we do know is that we have magic powers.”

 

“And therefore, we wanted to meet you,” Bloom continued, “to request to enroll in Alfea. I know this is extremely sudden, and it will no doubt be a huge inconvenience for everyone in this school. But we were suddenly gifted with these powers, and almost immediately after we were shown first-hand the dangers to our loved ones by those with evil intentions. All we want to do is master our powers to protect ourselves and the people we love, nothing else. So please, Ms. Faragonda, let us stay in Alfea.”

 

The elderly headmistress considered the plea, turning back to look out the window as she pondered her response. Several moments of silence did nothing to ease the tension in the air. Bloom and Midoriya felt increasingly uneasy, uncertainty pooling in their stomachs.

 

“You make an extremely compelling case, Bloom,” the two teens looked up towards Faragonda, “and your reasons are noble too. I can tell, just from your conviction alone, that you are selfless and have an unwavering tenacity, two things that we value greatly here at Alfea. We are always on the lookout for students who carry such morals.”

 

She turned to Midoriya, “And what about you, my dear?”

 

The green-haired teen glanced down at his hands, “For me, things changed when I somehow ended up on Bloom-san’s Earth. She, her parents and Stella-san are the first people in a very... very long time who have shown genuine care for my wellbeing. I was all alone in a different world, but everyone took care of me. And even though I’ve only known them for two days until now, they have done so much for me that I know that it is only right that I do the same in return. If being able to protect them by mastering my new powers is the key, then I am willing to go through hell to do so.”

 

Bloom and Stella were immensely moved by Midoriya’s reply, though the former noticed something a little darker in the words. But since now wasn’t the time or place to bring it up, Bloom filed that little observation away for future reference.

 

Faragonda, meanwhile, smiled kindly, “Your heart and virtues are all in the right place, Midoriya. Like Bloom, you too are selfless and tenacious, which as a student, are values you are expected to uphold.”

 

His eyes widened, “Y-You mean…?”

 

“Bloom, Midoriya, as headmistress, I would like to warmly welcome you as students to the Alfea College of Fairies.”

 

Just like that, the tension was cut. The trio burst into loud cheers and threw themselves into each other’s arms in celebration and euphoria. Faragonda watched the jubilation for several moments, before clapping her hands for their attention.

 

“Now, I’ll handle the necessary paperwork and ensure that your accommodation is taken care of. Which reminds me,” she turned to Stella, “are you willing to share your room with Midoriya, Princess Stella? You are currently a single occupancy resident after all.”

 

The blonde took a moment to consider, “But of course! If anything, we can discuss about fashion combinations, and I get to plan his outfits!”

 

Midoriya sweatdropped good-naturedly.

 

“Excellent,” said Faragonda, “I’ll let the castle pixies know to make the necessary additions. Also, now that we have established things, it is imperative that you three are made aware of the rules and code of conduct here at Alfea.”

 

The mood turned serious in an instant.

 

“Firstly, there is to be no usage of magic in the corridors or dormitories. The only time you can use your powers will be in lessons supervised by a professor. I’m emphasising this because Princess Stella blew up the potions laboratory with unsupervised spellcasting last year.”

 

Bloom and Midoriya whipped their heads towards Stella. “That’s what you did?” the former asked in disbelief.

 

The blonde was unrepentant, “I was just trying to create a new shade of pink, that’s all.”

 

“And while I won’t deny that the resulting colour was an interesting shade that I highly doubt it existed in the colour wheel, the safety of the occupants in this castle is paramount, so I expect you three to adhere to it strictly.”

 

“Yes, Ms. Faragonda,” Stella grumbled.

 

“Second, everyone is to be treated with basic respect, that means from the staff to your fellow students. It is only common courtesy that we cultivate a positive working and learning environment so that everyone can make the best of their time here.”

 

Bloom and Midoriya nodded in understanding, while Stella did it half-heartedly, having heard a similar telling by Griselda the year before.

 

“Third, keep to the timing. You are expected to be early for your classes, for tardiness reflects badly on the individual. Also, you are not allowed to be out of your dormitories after 8:30pm on weekdays unless there is an emergency.”

 

Another round of nods.

 

“And finally, fourth, you are to never set foot in the Cloud Tower School for Witches. It is an extremely dangerous place for a fairy to find themselves in, and no punishment dished out here will be as traumatic as what they would do to you if you were caught by them.”

 

Again, nods around with a bit nervous swallowing from Bloom and Midoriya.

 

“Any student caught breaking the rules will be given a verbal warning for their first offence. Second offence, detention will be issued. The third time, and you will be transformed into a frog for a week. Fourth time, your magic will be suspended for a predetermined length of time based on the severity of the offence. And if you decide that is not enough and break the rules for the fifth time, Ms. Griselda will personally escort you to the gates with your belongings. But, I trust you three will never go to such extremes.”

 

Bloom and Midoriya nodded fervently. 

 

“Wonderful,” the kind, grandmotherly aura was back again, “I’m sure you three will have no trouble settling in and seeing through the year with as little trouble as possible. Now, follow me, my dears, it’s time that you meet your fellow schoolmates, and I need to make sure Griselda hasn’t terrified them too much.”

 

Faragonda stood up from her chair, the three teens following close behind. Leaving her office behind, the small group passed through several flights of stairs, and crossed a large atrium before stepping back out into the late morning sun.

 

A bit forwards, Midoriya could see Griselda (dry and wearing a different set of clothes) addressing the crowd of students before her. The stern woman turned around, spotting them instantly.

 

“Ladies, here comes your Headmistress. Give her your utmost attention.”

 

Faragonda chuckled, “Oh, there’s no need to be so uptight, everyone. I hope Ms. Griselda here hasn’t ruffled your feathers too much so far.”

 

The head of discipline looked a little put out at that.

 

“Welcome to Alfea everyone, I am your headmistress, Ms. Faragonda, Alfea alumni and former fairy godmother. Now before we continue with the orientation, I would like to introduce to you all these two new students from Earth.”

 

The students started whispering to one another, others craning their necks to see properly.

 

“Namely, Ms Bloom Davis…”

 

The redhead waved with a smile.

 

“...and the first male student in Alfea’s history, Mr. Midoriya Izuku.”

 

His wave to the crowd was a lot more nervous, since his presence seemed to draw more noise - ranging between confusion, disbelief and excitement - from the students.

 

“I hope everyone here will treat them cordially just as they had promised they would do for you all,” Faragonda continued, “Now follow me, everyone!”

 

The headmistress turned around and started back towards the atrium. Bloom and Midoriya followed, leading the crowd of students.

 

As she led the crowd into the atrium, Faragonda resumed her welcoming speech, “Many of you will fight against the forces of evil and become guardian fairies. Some of you will grant wishes to the worthy and others will ascend to become rulers of your realm. Everyone of you is a unique individual, with your own powers, strengths and abilities. You have come from different backgrounds and origins, but when you come here, our mission is still the same…”

 

“To help you each become the very best you can be,” Faragonda and Stella said at the same time, the latter muttering it cheekily. “She says that all the time,” Stella confided to Bloom and Midoriya.

 

“Of course, you are expected to put in your best effort at all times, and to help others with their problems and vice versa,” Faragonda continued, “But I think I have bored you long enough with my droning, so I’ll leave you all to settle in.”

 

Griselda clapped her hands for attention, “Alright everyone, it is time to disperse to your respective dormitories. You have the rest of today off but do remember to adhere to curfew and that classes begin at eight o’clock sharp tomorrow. Your timetables will be delivered to your dormitories in half an hour.”

 

The crowd began to disperse, but Faragonda had some parting words, “Let’s make this a fruitful year, everyone. Oh, and don’t forget to make use of every available opportunity to connect with your Winx.”

 

Finished with her speech, she gave Bloom and Midoriya one last nod, before walking off with Griselda. 

 

Stella turned to the two teens, “C’mon guys, let’s go meet our new roommates.”

 


 

As the trio walked down a corridor, Bloom had a question come to mind, “Hey Stella? What did Ms. Faragonda mean when she said ‘connect with your Winx’?”

 

“Your Winx is made up of three things,” Stella replied, counting each off, “First, it’s your magical core, which fuels your powers and strength. Second, it’s what guides you as an individual, and finally, it’s what makes you who you are. Got it?”

 

“I believe so,” Bloom shrugged, Midoriya doing the same.

 

“It’s either you get it, or you don’t,” Stella replied, “As for you two, you’ve clearly got it.”

 

They climbed up a flight of stairs, and crossed another corridor. After a few moments, they arrived at a set of ornate double-doors painted a dark green. On the glass pane of one of the doors, was a large piece of paper with a set of names on it.

 

Double Room 1: Princess Stella of Solaria & Midoriya Izuku of Earth

 

Double Room 2: Flora of Linphea & Bloom Davis of Earth

 

Double Room 3: Musa of the Harmonic Nebula & Tecna of Zenith

 

“Oh goodie,” Stella gushed, “We’ve got different roommates this year. Let’s hope they’re better than the ones I got last year. No sense of humour, the lot.”

 

Bloom pushed the door open, and they stepped into a common space, furnished with a television, a sofa, a couple of lounge chairs and a coffee table. Midoriya felt it was quite homely, he could get used to this. Bloom put Kiko down to let him explore.

 

The common space had three doors branching into the sleeping quarters. They approached the doors that bore Stella and Midoriya’s name on it first.

 

Opening it, a large sunlit room greeted them. Natural light shone in through the windows that completely took up one of the walls. The other walls were painted a soft cream colour, the floor blanketed by a white carpet. There were two queen-sized beds opposite one another, separated by a large makeup dresser. At the foot of each bed was a desk, and taking up the last wall was a walk-in wardrobe.

 

“They’ve redecorated and expanded the room!” Stella noted with a satisfied smile, “I quite like it.”

 

“Same here,” Midoriya agreed, going towards one of the beds and sitting down on it. The mattress was quite soft, the sheets smooth to the touch.

 

Stella snapped her fingers, and all her bags and luggage popped into existence out of thin air, coming to a landing by the other bed.

 

“We can sort out our stuff later,” she said, “Let’s go check out Bloom’s room for now.”

 

They left the room and crossed the common space to the door directly opposite, which bore Bloom’s name. She opened the door, and stepped in. Stella and Midoriya had barely entered when a loud shriek reverberated over the walls. Bloom felt something squirm under her foot, and she quickly stepped back, whatever it was retracting away from her. 

 

On closer inspection, it appeared to be a vine of some sort. Following its length, it led to a plant that had something resembling a humanoid face on it. It was nursing its injured vine while making groan-like noises.

 

“Oh...s-sorry…” the redhead was unsure how to react to a plant that was behaving so humanly.

 

“Oh, pardon me,” came a voice from inside the room, “I just arrived, and I haven’t sorted my things yet.”

 

A tanned girl with long flowing brown hair came up to the trio. She had a curvaceous form, and wore a green off-shoulder blouse and pink knee-length skirt with strawberry patterns.

 

“The plant mimics human behaviour?” Midoriya asked amazedly.

 

“Yep! It’s one of my creations,” the girl nodded, “It hasn’t gotten there yet, but hopefully I’m able to get it to talk one of these days. I’m hoping that if plants are able to communicate with us, deforestation will be drastically reduced. It’s worth a shot, especially if it can save just one life.”

 

The trio eyed one another. The girl’s passion was intense.

 

“Oh! Where are my manners?” she blushed in realisation, “I’m Flora. You must be Bloom and Midoriya right? I saw you being introduced by Ms. Faragonda.”

 

“Yeah, that’s us,” Bloom smiled.

 

“Wow, I can’t believe I’m sharing a dorm with the two famous Earth students.”

 

Everyone turned at the unfamiliar voice. Standing outside the room was a lean girl with short magenta-coloured hair, decked in a sleeveless green and purple tracksuit with matching high top sneakers. Midoriya observed that she spoke with something akin to a Nordic accent.

 

“Hi, my name’s Tecna.”

 

“Hey, I’m Bloom.”

 

“Midoriya.”

 

“I’m Flora.”

 

“I’m Stella. Nice to meet you,” the blonde came forth.

 

Tecna stared at her for a moment, before realisation set in, “You are quite infamous. I’ve heard about you as well.”

 

“That’s the word around here.”

 

All eyes turned to the new arrival - an East Asian girl with short dark hair tied in pigtails, dressed in a single shoulder crop top and baggy jeans. Bloom observed a boyish aura about her.

 

“Hey all, I’m Musa. By the way, just a quick request to Bloom and Midoriya, let us know ahead of time if you’re about to whack us across the face or drench us with water so that we can dodge. And Stella, if you’re going to blow things up, do warn us so we can get out of the way from ground zero.”

 

The assembled group chuckled, though Midoriya got a bit flustered, “It was an accident, I swear!”

 

Stella was also on the defensive, “It was in the name of fashion. I have no regrets.”

 

Musa, stifling her laughter, came forwards and threw an arm over Midoriya’s shoulder, “Relax yeah? I’m just kidding with ya!”

 

“I’m curious though, were you successful in creating that shade of pink?” asked Tecna curiously.

 

“Almost, but it didn’t turn out right in the end,” Stella perked back up at her dormmate’s interest, “But when I do get it right, it’s going to become the national colour of Solaria!”

 

Whatever banter that was happening was suddenly interrupted by a frantic cry coming from Bloom and Flora’s room. The group rushed in, entering to a sight of Kiko being dangled upside down by his back leg by the same plant Bloom had stepped on earlier.

 

“Bad plant!” Flora ordered sternly, “Put him down right now!”

 

The admonished plant reluctantly released the rabbit, who bounded over to Bloom for safety.

 

“It’s okay, Flora,” the redhead reassured, “It’s not the plant’s fault. I think Kiko’s hungry and thought it was his next meal.”

 

True enough, one of the vines looked as if several nibbles have been taken off of it.

 

“Oh, in that case,” Flora picked up a soil-filled planter. She waved her hand over the soil, releasing a shower of sparkles. From the bare soil, sprouted three rows of carrots, “Here you go little bunny, eat up!”

 

She placed the carrots in front of a curious Kiko, who sniffed it cautiously. Deeming it to actually be his favourite food, Kiko dived mouth-first into his meal.

 

“You know,” Tecna commented, “Watching the rabbit eat makes me realise just how hungry I am.”

 

“Yeah, same here,” Musa chimed in.

 

“Well then, maybe we should take a trip down to Magix? There must a pizzeria or two there,” Bloom suggested.

 

“Sounds great!”

 

“Yeah! We should!”

 


 

A short time later, the group of new acquaintances had passed through the front gates, and were waiting for the Magix-bound hover-bus. 

 

“I’ve only read a few articles about Earth before,” Tecna revealed, “And they don’t really say much about it, only that no magic exists there and the last magical being died centuries before.”

 

“Yeah, there’s nothing really interesting about Earth,” Bloom shrugged, “At least, not when compared to Magix anyway.”

 

“How so?” asked Musa.

 

“Well, the vehicles still use wheels, that’s one thing, and the technology here is way more advanced than what we have back home. Like we have touch-screens, but things like holographic screens and interfaces are still only the stuff of science fiction ,” Bloom replied, “Life on Earth is kinda...boring, if I want to be honest.”

 

“Wow, they don’t mention these in the article databases,” Tecna nodded thoughtfully.

 

“The transportation in the Harmonic Nebula also use wheels too,” said Musa, “We like to maintain an old-world style of living.”

 

Midoriya wished he had a notebook on hand to write this down. There was just so much information to learn! And he had so many questions too!

 

At the same moment, the hover-bus arrived. As the group were boarding, Bloom realised something, and smacked her forehead.

 

“Ah fuck, now I know what I forgot to do yesterday!”

 

“What’s the matter?” asked Flora.

 

“I still don’t have any money on me yet,” Bloom replied, “Stella, is there a way for me to connect to my savings account on Earth?”

 

“Of course! Don’t you worry about it, darling,” the blonde patted her shoulder, “We’ll just make a quick detour to the Magix Central Bank. They’ll know what to do!”

 

Bloom relaxed, and Stella paid for three tickets - herself, Bloom and Midoriya - while the others paid for their own. Grabbing seats in the compartment, the doors hissed shut, and the bus was on the move.

 

“Stella-san, I’ve been thinking,” Midoriya said, “It’s not right of me to keep relying on you and Bloom-san for money. I think during the weekends and holidays, I better pick up a part-time job to keep myself financially-stable. Do you know if any place is hiring?”

 

As the blonde considered his request, Tecna turned to him, “Don’t you have a savings account too? You’re from the same planet as Bloom.”

 

“I do...but it’s complicated,” Midoriya twiddled his thumbs.

 

“Why?” asked Flora.

 

“You see, the Earth I am from is not the same Earth where Bloom-san is from,” Midoriya explained, “Some might say I am from a parallel universe.”

 

“Parallel universes? I’ve heard about that too,” Tecna commented, “It’s the theory that multiple universes co-exist within the same plane of existence. Sometimes, these universes stay separate from one another. Other times, they come into contact, with varying degrees of consequences. The similarities and differences between the different universes can vary too.”

 

“How did you end up in Bloom’s Earth then, Midoriya?” asked Musa curiously.

 

He inwardly flinched. Everytime someone asked that, he would be reminded of his suicide attempt, and the events leading up to that fateful moment. Steeling himself together, Midoriya gave his prepared response, “It was a strange thing. I was just going about my business, and then I tripped over the uneven pavement. As I pitched forward, the ground opened up into this void of colours and lights. All I remember was falling through it, and then somehow being spit out of it into Bloom’s Earth.”

 

“Interesting,” Techna rubbed her chin.

 

“Sounds really surreal,” Musa remarked.

 

“It was,” Midoriya nodded, “So do you have anything, Stella-san?”

 

“Oh don’t you worry about that,” the blonde waved reassuringly, “The shops in Magix are always on the lookout for part-time staff. We can take a look around after we eat. What are your specialties?”

 

Here, the green-haired teen thought hard, “Well...I’m decent at baking and cooking, since I always used to do them with my mom.”

 

Stella nodded, “So something food-related. I think we can work with that!”

 

“But Midoriya,” Flora interjected, “You mentioned your mom, but you’re here and…”

 

The green-haired teen turned sombre, “Yes, my mom is all alone back in my world. To be honest, I have no clue what has happened since I disappeared. I only know she must be worried sick about what happened to me…”

 

Bloom gripped his shoulders supportively.

 

“I’m so sorry, Midoriya,” Flora whispered sympathetically, “It must be really difficult.”

 

“It is,” said teen nodded, “But it’s not as if I’m alone. I have Bloom-san, her parents, Stella-san, and...if you’re willing, you guys too.”

 

Musa smiled brightly, “Of course! Even though we all just met today, I can foresee us become the best of friends!”

 

“And we’ll help you find a way to get back to your world,” Tecna promised, “I’m sure we can use technology in some manner to create a connecting pathway.”

 

Midoriya let a relieved grin stretch his lips, “Thanks you guys.”

 

Bloom pulled her hands away, “So, to keep our moods up, can you tell us about Zenith, Tecna? It sounds really cool.”

 

Tecna perked up, and began delving into her home planet, going into great lengths to describe how technology and ingenious minds of the people have made Zenith into what it is today, while the bus continued down the road towards Magix itself.

 


 

Alighting at the city’s main station, the group exited the building into the bustling streets of Magix. It was just as busy as the day before - hover-vehicles jam-packing the roads, people hurrying up and down the pavement going about their business, and shops open to customers to sell their wares.

 

“Alright, so Bloom, Midoriya and I are going to the bank first,” Stella told the group, “Tecna, you have my number. Text me when you guys have found a decent pizzeria.”

 

“Got it.”

 

The group then split into two, Stella, Midoriya and Bloom going up north, and the rest heading south.

 

“How far is the bank from here?” asked the redhead.

 

“Not too far, we’re only a few blocks away from the financial district. The central bank’s right smack in the middle of it.” Stella replied.

 

Indeed, within a few minutes, the trio had reached the outskirts of the financial district, distinguished by the towering skyscrapers and people wearing business suits or other similar style of clothing. Cutting across a few roads and walking through a tree-lined avenue, they arrived at a large building that reminded Bloom greatly of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.

 

The design was clearly inspired by the classical architecture of the iconic building, but it had a modern, futuristic twist to it so that it blended with the surrounding skyscrapers. The trio walked up the marble steps, passed through the towering columns, and entered a large circular room with a glass dome spanning the entire circumference. It was alive with activity, people walking or running about, patrons in queues waiting for their turn, and the occasional pixie flying overhead.

 

The trio joined a queue, which passed in less time than what Bloom or Midoriya had expected given such a busy crowd. When it was finally their turn, they came to face a middle-aged woman with pointy ears.

 

“How may I help you today?”

 

“Hi, I would like to open two bank accounts, one for each of my friends,” Stella replied, “My friend Bloom already has a savings account on her home planet of Earth, can you help us link the accounts together?”

“Certainly,” the woman turned to Bloom, “Full name and address please?”

 

“Bloom Davis, 10922 Palmer Road, Gardenia, United States of America.”

 

“Give me a quick moment,” the teller typed some symbols in and touched a few screens on the holographic interface, “Ah, found you.”

 

A bit more processing and several confirmation questions later, Bloom was issued a brand new credit card linked to her Magix banking account.

 

It was now Midoriya’s turn.

 

“Full name and address please?”

 

“Midoriya Izuku...um…”

 

“Just list Bloom’s address,” Stella told him, sensing his uncertainty.

 

“Right. Midoriya Izuku, 10922 Palmer Road.”

 

The teller added in the details and tapped a few buttons on the interface, “Sir, you will need five roneos to keep the account open.”

 

“Transfer the amount from my account,” Bloom interjected before Midoriya could so much as open his mouth.

 

The teller tapped some more buttons, and slid her finger across the interface. Almost immediately after, a brand new card was ejected from the small printer by her side.

 

“Here you go, sir.”

 

Midoriya took the card with both hands reverently. He smiled gratefully at the teller, “Thank you.”

 

“You’re most welcome. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

 

Stella took over, “Nope, that would be all. Thanks for the great service!”

 

Concluding their business, the trio left the bank behind and stepped back into the bustling city. At the same moment, a buzzing came from Stella’s pocket.

 

“It must be from Tecna.”

 

She pulled out her mobile phone, and tapped the screen.

 

“Sweet, they found one not too far from where we were.”

 

“How far is it?” asked Midoriya.

 

“Let’s see…” Stella tapped a button, and a holographic projection flickered into existence over the phone. It was a map of the financial district, a blinking dot indicating their position outside of the Magix Central Bank. A line shot out from the dot, meandering through the streets until it came to a stop at a shopping arcade, which was also not far from the Magix Main Station.

 

“According to the map, it should take us about fifteen minutes by walking.”

 

Stella cancelled the projection and pocketed her phone, “Let’s get going, you guys, I’m starting to get really hungry!”

 


 

After bypassing the main station and cutting across a few more traffic lights, the trio arrived at the designated shopping arcade. It was open-aired, like the shopping district they visited the day before, and just as crowded.

 

“I hope the pizza is good,” said Bloom.

 

“I read a few reviews of the place,” Stella replied, “It’s not too bad.”

 

As the two girls continued their chat, Midoriya was looking around languidly, merely watching the life happening around them. They reached an intersection just a few shops away from the pizzeria. As they crossed it, something caught Midoriya’s eye.

 

It had moved away out of sight before he could get a good look at it, but it was large and lumbering. He stopped in his tracks. Large and lumbering...like an ogre would be.

 

Could it…?

 

“Hey Midoriya! You okay?”

 

Stella’s voice snapped him from his thoughts. He quickly realised he had put some distance between himself and his two friends, who were already at the entrance of the pizzeria.

 

“Ah, no! It’s nothing. Wait up!”

 

He hurried after the two girls, hoping that the slightly unsettling feeling in his stomach was just him being hungry.

 


 

“Hey guys! Over here!”

 

Musa called over to the entering trio from her place at a six-seater table by the window. Stella, Bloom and Midoriya came over, and sat down on the three empty chairs.

 

“So did everything go well?” Musa asked.

 

“Perfectly,” Stella nodded, “Bloom and Midoriya are all set.”

 

“We actually just got here ourselves,” Flora revealed, “We spent a bit looking around for any food-and-beverage places that were hiring part-time staff.”

 

“I’ve compiled the list together and narrowed it down to these three choices, based on Midoriya’s specialty,” Tecna added, fishing out a device that appeared to be her mobile phone, “Here, have a look.”

 

She passed the phone to Midoriya, who scanned the listed names.

 

 

  • Magno Patisserie & Café

 

 

 

  • The Teaspoon Café

 

 

 

  • Miriam’s Everyday Cakes and Pastries

 

 

The last one had a nice ring to it. It sounded small, and family-run, not commercialised like the other two. He could consider this.

 

“Miriam’s sounds nice,” said the teen, returning the device, “Maybe we can visit the place after we eat?”

 

“Sounds like a plan,” Stella nodded.

 

Menus were opened, and choices were discussed. Midoriya and Bloom recognised a few varieties from Earth, although the ingredients mostly defied their understanding. Eventually, three pizzas types were decided, and the order placed.

 

Once the waiter had collected back the menus and walked off, Bloom raised her glass of water, “I think we should toast to the beginnings of a strong friendship and a great academic year ahead.”

 

“Cheers!”

 


 

Meanwhile, just a few shops away from the pizzeria, Knut was lumbering down the street, oblivious to the stares he was getting from the citizens of Magix. While being an enchanted city, it wasn’t often that the people saw an ogre taking up much of the pavement on a busy day.

 

Knut did a double take when he reached the pizzeria. Through the window, he could vaguely recognise the all-too familiar face of Princess Stella, and the two humans who fought him back on Earth, laughing and chattering away.

 

‘It’s them! Gotta get it right this time!’

 

As quickly as his heavy footsteps could, he ducked into a nearby alley away from the main foot traffic. He fished out a phone from his pocket, and dialled in a number.

 

It took two rings for the other caller to pick up.

 

“This better be worth it, Knut, or else I’ll turn you into something your nonexistent brain could never have imagined!”

 

“It’s Princess Stella, and her two Earth friends! They’re in Magix, your evilness. Meet me at Witches’ Alley.”

 

“Good, at least you managed to get it done properly this time.”

 

The call ended. Knut put the phone away, and dashed further into the alley and disappearing from sight.

 


 

While trouble was beginning to brew, the group of students were discussing other troubles they had on their mind as they ate their way through the pizzas - namely the start of lessons the next day.

 

“I don’t think I’m going to get used to waking up so early…” Musa complained as she took a bite from her slice.

 

“I just hope we aren’t going into the hard stuff right away,” Stella added.

 

“But aren’t you repeating the year?” Tecna raised an eyebrow.

 

“True,” the blonde admitted, “But that doesn’t mean it makes it any easier.”

 

While the conversation continued, Bloom took out her phone to check if her parents had contacted her earlier or if anything important had cropped up. She pressed the power button, but for some reason, the screen remained dark. Nothing she subsequently did made it work, and she swore she had charged it the night before and hadn’t used it since.

 

“Something wrong?” asked Midoriya.

 

“My phone isn’t working,” Bloom replied.

 

“Here, let me have a look,” Tecna offered, “I specialise in communication devices.”

 

Bloom handed over her phone.

 

“I love taking these apart,” Tecna said mostly to herself. She pulled the back cover off the phone, and examined the parts. She suddenly snorted.

 

“What’s the matter?” asked Flora.

 

“Even though the design of this phone bears some semblance to the ones I’ve used before,” Tecna giggled, “The technology is pretty much prehistoric.”

 

Bloom was taken aback, “But it’s the newest model…”

 

“From Earth, it may be,” Stella corrected, “I think the magical energy in Magix and the disparity in technology caused your phone electronics to fry.”

 

“Great…” Bloom sighed, “How am I supposed to contact my parents now?”

 

“There’s a trans-dimensional phone booth you can utilise. I think it’s just a few shops down and behind,” Musa suggested, “You can use the credit card you received to activate it.”

 

“Thanks Musa,” Bloom nodded as she got up from her seat, “I’ll see you guys later.”

 

As she left the pizzeria, the conversation shifted again.

 

“So I’ve been meaning to ask, Midoriya,” Tecna turned her attention to said teen, “How is your Earth different from Bloom’s?”

 

Midoriya swallowed the crust before responding, “Everything is pretty much the same, except for the people. You see, most people have some kind of power, or as they are called, quirks.”

 

“You mean like a specialty?” asked Flora, “Like how I specialise in nature?”

 

“Something like that,” Midoriya nodded.

 

“What kind of quirks are there?” asked Musa.

 

“Boundless, just about anything you can think of,” Midoriya made clear, “Some are able to control the natural elements, like fire, water and earth. Others are able to manipulate the human senses - like sight and hearing. Some even take on the forms of anthropomorphic animals such as dogs, cats, lions or tigers, for example, and inherit the animal’s strengths.”

 

“Wow, I didn’t know Earth humans have evolved to such an advanced state,” Musa was impressed.

 

“Then what’s your quirk, Midoriya?” asked Tecna, “I’m sure it must be really cool.”

 

The green-haired teen scratched his cheek, once again in an uncomfortable position, “Well...you see…”

 


 

Bloom had no trouble finding the trans-dimensional phone booth, with the added benefit being that it was currently unoccupied. She closed the door behind her, and inserted her Magix credit card into the slot. She dialled in her home phone number, and activated the call. It took a few rings, and the call then connected.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hey Mom, it’s me, Bloom.”

 

“Bloom! Oh it’s so good to hear from you, honey. How have things been?”

 

“Pretty good, I have to say, Mom. Managed to enroll with Midoriya into Alfea, though at the cost of someone’s dignity.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“You see, Alfea has a head of discipline, Ms. Griselda. She was doubtful about us having powers and was about to turn us away, so we demonstrated them in front of everyone. The thing is, it involved her getting smacked by her clipboard and drenched to the bone.”

 

“Oh dear! I hope she didn’t give you two any problems!”

 

“No, it’s fine. She just brought us to the headmistress, Ms. Faragonda, who was kind enough to listen to our situation. She deemed us worthy of being students at Alfea!”

 

“Oh honey, that’s fantastic! Did you meet anyone else today?”

 

In the happy mood shared between mother and daughter, the latter didn’t notice the shadows entering the alley she was in.

 

“We did, three other girls that are our dorm-mates, actually,” Bloom replied, “We’re actually out in Magix having pizza.”

 

“That’s lovely, dear. Now, I won’t keep you from your new friends. You keep yourself and Midoriya safe, okay?”

 

“I will, Mom. I’ll talk to you soon. Say hi to Dad for me.”

 

“Sure thing. You take care, honey!”

 

“You as well, Mom.”

 

The connection cut, and the call ended. Bloom put the receiver back into place, and turned to step out of the booth. Closing the door behind her, she quickly realised she was no longer alone.

 

“W-Wha-?”

 


 

“I see...so you don’t actually have a quirk?” Musa repeated.

 

Midoriya nodded.

 

“It must have been really difficult for you,” Flora sympathised.

 

“In a number of ways.”

 

Tecna, on the other hand, had a calculating look, “Something doesn’t add up. You say that you don’t have a quirk, with the extra toe-joint and all, but yet you demonstrated a power that got Griselda completely soaked - I saw the entire thing. No matter how I try to rationalise it, there’s a discrepancy in your account.”

 

Midoriya wasn’t sure if he was not completely offended by Tecna’s blunt questioning of his life story, “Well, it’s-”

 

Suddenly, he froze up, his eyes turning glassy.

 

“What’s the matter, Midoriya?” asked Stella.

 

He suddenly shot up to his feet, knocking his chair backwards. The loud clatter made everyone in the pizzeria turn their heads towards the group’s table.

 

“Something’s wrong.”

 

Without further explanation, he bolted out of the restaurant and down the street. The girls quickly stood up from their seats.

 

“Um...we’ll pay when we get back!” Stella called out to a waiter, before she joined her friends in running after Midoriya.

 


 

“W-Who are you?”

 

Bloom felt a deep chill run down her spine, not helped by the menacing aura the new arrivals were radiating.

 

Knut the ogre was accompanied by three girls who appeared to be slightly older than she was. The first one - she guessed was the leader - had pointed features, pale skin, and long silver hair tied in a high ponytail. She was dressed in form-fitting clothes that were of a dark-teal colour, matching her heavy makeup and polished nails. The second girl had long brown hair, dressed in loose dark-purple clothing with matching equally-heavy makeup. The last one had faded dark blue hair that looked as if it had been electrified. Her clothes were a maroon colour and she was the only one in heels.

 

“Who are we? That’s a bit personal, don’t you think?” the one with electrified hair snarked.

 

Bloom held her ground despite the churning in her stomach. She sensed nothing but trouble with these individuals.

 

“But we’re feeling kind tonight, so we’ll tell you that we are witches from Cloud Tower, otherwise known as the Trix,” the one with brown hair continued mockingly.

 

“And now that we’ve done our part, I think you should return the favour, and tell us where is your friend Stella?” the leader demanded.

 

Bloom narrowed her eyes, “As if I’d tell you fuckers anything. You’re clearly up to no good.”

 

The brunette witch snorted, “This pathetic fairy has brains, I’ll give her that. Too bad she doesn’t know how to use it properly. Icy?” she turned to the silver-haired witch.

 

“Clearly,” Icy grinned savagely, “Let’s teach her real quick why she should learn when to listen to our orders.”

 

The witch stretched out her hands, the air turning frigidly cold. A blast of ice shot out from her hands and hurtled straight towards Bloom. It was coming too fast, leaving her with no time to defend herself.

 

“NO!”

 

The redhead was suddenly pushed out of the way, tumbling to the ground. There was a shriek, cut off by ice crackling over. Fighting off the ache in her body, Bloom picked herself up, and turned around. She bit back a gasp. 

 

Midoriya had been the one to push her out of the incoming ice, only to get encased in a frigid prison. His hands were still outstretched, mouth open in mid-shriek, legs frozen in mid-run.

 

“What’s this?” the brunette witch raised an eyebrow.

 

“It’s the boy who was with the redhead girl and Stella, your evilnesses!” said Knut.

 

“Really?” Icy smirked, “Well, that’s one idiot taken care of, and we haven’t even gotten started yet.”

 

Burning fury ignited from within Bloom’s heart. These three witches will pay for their treachery!

 

“Midoriya! We heard you screa-”

 

A thundering of footsteps. Stella, Flora, Musa and Tecna burst into the scene. Their eyes widened at what they saw.

 

“What the fuck?!” Stella swore.

 

“It’s her! Princess Stella!” Knut pointed.

 

“Ah, finally, the guest of the hour has arrived,” the wild-haired witch grinned evilly.

 

“What did you do to him?!” Stella shrieked.

 

“He tried to be the hero and got himself frozen,” Icy shrugged, “Quite pitiful really, but not important. Humans don’t last long encased in ice, so I suggest you hand over your ring, Stella,” she stretched out a hand, “before your friend dies of frostbite!”

 

Stella growled, “Over my dead body you bitch! Magic Winx!”

 

“Magic Winx!”

 

Bloom watched with wide eyes as her new friends were shrouded in a bright light. Time seemed to suddenly slow as they transformed before her.

 

Flashes of sunlight turned Stella’s clothes into her orange crop-top, armbands, low-cut shorts and knee-length boots, her three-pointed blue wings sprouting on her back. 

 

Flower petals swirled around Flora, turning her blouse and skirt into a shoulder-less, one-piece dress of fuschia and orchid-colours, pink fingerless gloves running to her elbows, matching ankle-length boots, and a green choker with a four-petalled flower pendant. Green, leaf-shaped wings sprouted with a burst of petals.

 

Musa danced as flashing squares resembling disco lights turned her baggy jeans and red top into single-shouldered ruby-red dress with a translucent, red-hued midriff, and matching knee-length wedge boots. Thin blue wings shined into existence, along with matching headphones and ribbons on her arms that were of a purple colour. 

 

A glowing-green grid whirred into life over Tecna’s form, transforming her tracksuit into a lavender bodysuit, with powder-blue sleeves covering down to her fingertips and matching knee-high heeled boots. The same grid fitted her head with a lilac helmet with a green tear-shaped brooch on it, and produced green square-shaped bars that expanded into glider that served as her wings.

 

Now in their fairy forms, the four girls hovered between their friends and the witches.

 

“Oh look at that,” Icy crooned, “The little fairies have come to stop us bad witches from taking what is ours,” she then turned to Knut, “Knut! Crush them to fairy dust!”

 

The ogre roared, and hurtled towards the girls.

 

“Digital Web!”

 

Tecna produced a rope of green light, and wrapped it around Knut, immobilising him in a sphere of digital energy.

 

“Sonic Blast!” Musa clapped her hands together. A pair of glowing speakers materialised from thin air, and blasted the ogre with deafening rock music so loud that it shook both him and the street.

 

Flora did not hesitate to join in on the offensive, “Ivy Rope!”

 

She blew out a gust of air, a stream of shining flowers swirling out towards the ground directly below Knut. A vine burst from the concrete, wrapping around him like a snake. It then pummelled the trapped, screaming ogre wildly, throwing him against the walls of buildings and the ground, before tossing him into a pile of garbage, the impact knocking him out.

 

“Ugh, what a useless lout,” Icy groaned.

 

Her attention turned to the four fairies, “Alright, play time’s over!”

 

She summoned a wall of ice shards, and sent them hurtling towards the fairies. Stella quickly expanded her sceptre, and swung it down, releasing a wave of light that intercepted the shards, dissipating them in a burst of sparkles.

 

“Um...Bloom, we can really use your help here!” Stella called out to the redhead, flying out of the way of another blast of ice.

 

Bloom took one look at the ongoing battle, and then to the frozen Midoriya, whose skin was beginning to turn flush from the frigid ice. She knew right away that she could no longer just stand there. Her friends need her help. And fast.

 

So she concentrated, going deep within herself to find that power that had aided her up till now.

 

“Magic Winx!”

 

Bloom was immediately shrouded in light. Fire burned through her clothes, turning into a sky-blue turtle-necked crop-top with a golden jewel at the centre, matching miniskirt, detached sleeves and ankle-length boots. A three-rounded tiara flashed onto her forehead, and cyan and light-teal wings sprouted from her back.

 

As the light faded, she didn’t stop to admire her new form. Shakily taking flight for the first time, Bloom channelled her power to her hands, creating a ball of fire that pulsed wildly. With a shout, she fired it at the three witches. It exploded, throwing the trio backwards.

 

They were quick to recover, the wild-haired witch taking the stage, “How about a little lightning strike?”

 

Magenta lightning burst from her hands. Tecna immediately reacted, “Everyone, behind me!”

 

The girls crowded behind her, as she raised her forearm. A lavender shield materialised and intercepted the lightning, crackling wildly. Bloom quickly fired another fireball at the witches, cutting off the lightning as they dodged.

 

“Grrr...enough! I’ve had it with your games!” Icy growled, curling her hands together, From the depths of primordial space, I summon a box with a frigid embrace. Bring me the power to the palm of my hand and unleash it at my command!”

 

The air around the witches turned frigid, and snow began to gather around her hands. Stella, seeing the imminent danger, quickly raised her sceptre, “By the magic of Solaria, get me and my friends out of here!”

 

The swirling snow storm blasted out from Icy’s hands, just as Stella’ sceptre began to glow. A flash of light blanketed the alley, taking the girls and a frozen Midoriya with it just as the snow bombarded their previous positions, covering the alley in ice.

 

It took a few moments for the three witches to realise that they had failed. 

 

“T-They got away?!” Icy screamed, “No! Not again!!!”

 


 

Several streets away, the girls and a still-frozen Midoriya reappeared in a flash of light. Stella shrunk her sceptre and slid it back on her finger.

 

“Quick! We need to thaw him out!” said Bloom.

 

The redhead quickly channelled her fire into the ice, slowly melting it. Musa helped by producing soundwaves that cracked the ice bit by bit. It took several minutes, but they were able to pull Midoriya out of his frozen prison. Exposed to the heat, the green-haired teen suddenly came to, eyes flying open with a sharp intake of air.

 

“Don’t worry, you’re safe now. We managed to get away,” Bloom soothed.

 

“T-T-T-Thanks y-y-you g-g-guys…” Midoriya’s teeth chattered as he shivered uncontrollably.

 

“We’ve got to get him back to Alfea,” said Tecna.

 

“B-But t-t-the p-pizza…”

 

“Ah, right,” Stella snapped her fingers. A flash of light enveloped her, and she was back in her civilian clothes, “You girls stay here and keep him warm, I’ll go handle the bill.”

 


 

Some time later, a hover-bus pulled up at the gates of Alfea. A still-shivering Midoriya was helped off by Musa and Flora, the rest of the group following behind them.

 

“It’s so late…” Bloom remarked, “I hope we don’t get into trouble for this.”

 

“Relax, will you?” Stella replied, “We totally had a valid reason.”

 

“Yeah,” Musa supplied, “It’s not our fault that we got attacked.”

 

The gates lowered, allowing the group in. They had barely taken a few paces when a stern voice interrupted them.

 

“Hold it right there! Do you lot have any idea what time it is? Curfew was an hour ago!”

 

Griselda and Faragonda came up to meet them.

 

“We’re sorry, Ms. Griselda,” said Bloom sincerely, “But we were attacked in Magix.”

 

“Attacked?” the head of discipline started at this.

 

“By three witches from Cloud Tower, who called themselves the Trix,” Flora continued, “One of them - Icy was her name, I think - hit Midoriya with a blast of ice, freezing him completely. They were after Stella’s ring.”

 

“Oh dear!” Faragonda grew concerned, “Bring Midoriya to the infirmary immediately, and ask for Nurse Ofelia. She’ll handle this. After that, be off to bed. You all need to be in-time for classes tomorrow.”

 

“Yes, Ms. Faragonda.”

 

Watching the group leave, Griselda turned to her boss, “An altercation already on the first day? We can’t just let this go.”

 

“I know, Griselda,” Faragonda sighed, “But Headmistress Griffin is not likely to take much action given her indifference towards fairies. We can only hope that this is a one-time issue and that these three witches will not attempt their foolish actions again.”

 

Despite her best efforts to sound firm, the elderly headmistress knew deep down that the coming days will not be smooth.

 

For now, they could only hope for the best.

 


To Be Continued.


 

Chapter Text

Stella rose to the new day with the sun just beginning to peek over the horizon, the first vestiges of orange and yellow starting to chase away the darkness of night and fill the sky with light.

 

Yawning loudly, she licked her slightly chapped lips. The night had been a dreamless one, but the memories of what happened against those three witches and Knut were still fresh in her mind.

 

Stella would be lying if she said the sight of Midoriya frozen in a chunk of ice didn’t unsettle her. The subsequent battle itself didn’t have the same effect. She knew her ring was sought after by those with less-than-noble intentions, and having three powerful witches and an ogre come after her was kind of expected in some way. But to see her saviour’s life put into jeopardy rattled her, and she hoped to everything that was holy that she nor her new friends would have to go through another experience like that anytime soon.

 

Speaking of which…

 

Stella turned to her left. Midoriya was still sleeping, snoring lightly, and just occasionally shivering from the phantom cold. On the plus-side, it didn’t look like he was having a nightmare, so one less thing to worry about.

 

She figured it was time to wake him up to get them both ready for the first day of school.

 

Climbing out of bed, Stella stepped over to her roommate. She shook his shoulder gently.

 

“Wakey wakey Midoriya, time to start the day.”

 

The green-haired teen grimaced, sleep interrupted. Slowly, his eyelids fluttered open.

 

“Wha…? Stella...san?”

 

“Time to get up, sleepyhead.”

 

Midoriya sat up, stretching his joints with an audible ‘pop’.

 

“What...time is it?”

 

“Just past six in the morning, we need to get ready.”

 

Midoriya blinked, “For what?”

 

“For the first day of school, silly!” Stella huffed, “We’ve got to make a good appearance today, so come on, get ready!”

 

The blonde bodily pulled her green-haired roommate out of bed, who yelped from the sudden movement, now fully awake.

 


 

About half an hour later, there was a knock on the door.

 

“Stella? Midoriya? Are you awake? We’re about to go down for breakfast.”

 

The door opened, and in stepped Bloom.

 

“Oh Bloom! Great, you’re here,” Stella looked up, “I need your advice real quick.”

 

“What’s the matter?”

 

“Tell me which accessory looks better on Midoriya - the pendant, or the choker?”

 

“Stella-san, this isn’t necessary!” the green-haired teen protested.

 

“Of course it’s necessary!” the blonde retorted, before turning back to Bloom, “So, which one?”

 

Bloom hmmed, rubbing her chin. The pendant was a simple silver chain with a plain oval-shaped charm, while the choker was made of three black leather straps with metal beads weaved in at different places, the bottom strap holding a silver-lined green leaf-shaped charm. She then turned to Midoriya’s get up - a white-based graphic sleeveless shirt, leather pants, a black floor-length vest that was unbuttoned, leather wristbands and his red high-top sneakers.

 

“I think the choker suits him better.”

 

“The judge has spoken!” Stella declared. Tossing the pendant to the side, she unclasped the choker, put it around Midoriya’s neck, and clasped it securely. Said teen pretended to be suffocating while this was happening, prompting Bloom to giggle at his antics.

 

“There! Now you’re ready to strut your stuff!”

 

“It feels a bit weird…” Midoriya remarked, fiddling with the straps.

 

“You just need to get used to it,” Stella patted his shoulder, turning to Bloom, “Are the rest ready?”

 

The redhead was about to answer, when more knocking came from the door, “Hey! What’s the holdup? We’re starving out here!” Musa could be heard.

 

“I guess that’s our answer,” said Midoriya.

 

The trio quickly hurried to the door, Bloom opening it just as more knocks came.

 

“Did you guys hear me? I said - ”

 

Musa’s words died the moment she laid eyes on Midoriya’s outfit. She whistled.

 

“Damn boy, we’re just going for breakfast, not a fashion show!”

 

“You can have Stella-san to thank for that,” Midoriya sighed.

 

“Why thank you!” the blonde preened, whether or not she got the sarcasm was up for debate.

 

“Hm...the vest looks a bit excessive,” Tecna rubbed her chin.

 

“Well I think it looks really cool!” Flora gushed.

 

“We can discuss the suitability of Stella’s fashion choices over breakfast,” Bloom interjected, “We better get going or we won’t have enough time to eat before class.”

 

On that note, the group left their dorm for the dining hall.

 


 

Breakfast passed with no major hiccups, though Midoriya got plenty of looks from the other students, something he was a bit uncomfortable with. Again, the food left the green-haired teen and Bloom in wonder, for there were some recognisable aspects - like toast, tea, coffee and various jams - while also including other food items that clearly were not part of any known breakfast cuisine on Earth.

 

That aside, the group ate and drank their fill to become fully awake for the first class of the year - Metamorphosis 101. They were also among the first few to take their places in the classroom.

 

Bloom kind of had an idea of what the class would be covering. But she had absolutely no idea what the work will be like, and it unsettled her. Midoriya seemed to be in a similar state, if the tremble in his hands was any indication. Several of the other students who were slowly trickling in also shared the sentiment, made clear from the nervous looks they were casting to one another or to themselves.

 

At eight o’clock sharp, the first bell echoed throughout the school. The class now waited for their teacher to show up. 

 

Seconds turned to minutes, and the door did not open once. 

 

Confusion was slowly mixing with the nervous energy in the room. Midoriya sent Bloom a questioning glance, and she returned it with a shrug.

 

Eventually, a brave student at the front row stepped out of her desk to peer behind the teacher’s desk to see if their elusive professor was hiding behind it. But judging from her still-confused face after standing back up, there was really no one there.

 

Or so they thought.

 

“I’m surprised that ye thought I’d be hiding in such an awkward place, lass, when I’m really just in plain sight.”

 

Startled shrieks ricocheted off the walls. Midoriya leapt a foot into the air.

 

The disembodied voice chuckled, and suddenly, where there was just empty air, appeared a short figure with pale yellow skin, pointed ears, a dark green wizard’s hat and matching suit in a flurry of sparkles.

 

“I always love pranking my students on the first day. Works every time!”

 

Coming down from her shock, Bloom leaned over to Stella.

 

“What kind of creature is he?”

 

“Leprechaun.”

 

Bloom nodded. That explained the Irish accent.

 

“A wonderfully good morning to ye all and welcome to the first class of the year, Metamorphosis 101! I am Professor Wizgiz and I’ll be your teacher for this coming year.”

 

The short leprechaun stood up and began pacing around the desk, “Metamorphosis is the limitless art of changing yer appearance, and once ye have reached the highest proficiency, ye can transform yerself into anything from a baby to a babysitter.”

 

Midoriya hummed in wonder.

 

“Now to give ye all a sample of what metamorphosis can do, look at me, an average leprechaun…”

 

Wizgiz pulled his mouth to the side. His entire body shook wildly, and quite suddenly, he morphed into Griselda. Midoriya flinched at the sudden memory of drenching the head of discipline the day before. The other students gasped at the likeness to the most feared (or hated) woman in Alfea sitting before them.

 

“...to the Queen of Detention!”

 

After the initial surprise, the students applauded and cheered their teacher’s show. The faux-Griselda then shook, and in a moment, Wizgiz was back into his regular appearance. He leapt off from the teacher’s desk and landed on the desk of the student behind Midoriya.

 

“But for today, we’re going to start with the basics, for any attempt to copy what I just did at such an early stage might result in a few accidents that will be a pain to rectify. We don’t want any of ye to turn into a pile of shapeless slime, after all.”

 

Wizgiz raised a finger, and a swirl of sparkles enveloped the room.

 

“We’ll warm up with a simple exercise - changing your hair colour.”

 

Mirrors phased up from the desk of each student. Midoriya took his gingerly.

 

“Look at your reflection, concentrate on your magic, and visualise how you want your hair to appear. Go on, give it a try!”

 

Bloom stared at her reflection, and closed her eyes. She imagined her hair in a different colour, and concentrated, trying to use her magic to alter the colour just as she visualised. She felt something trigger inside her, travel up towards her head, and flow down the length of her hair. When she opened her eyes, she found her efforts rewarded with her hair in a maroon colour with purple streaks.

 

Seeing her success, Midoriya attempted to do the same. He closed his eyes, imagined his hair in a different colour and channelling into his magic. At first, nothing happened, so he tried concentrating harder. But instead of his hair changing colour…

 

...his mirror shattered with a loud crash.

 

Midoriya shrieked, attracting the attention of Professor Wizgiz and the rest of the class.

 

“Oh dear, lad,” the tiny professor bounded up to the green-haired teen, “don’t ye fret much, it’s only yer first try. Here, let me help ye fix this up.”

 

He waved his hand, and the shattered mirror repaired itself into its previous pristine state.

 

“Do remember to keep practicing, then ye’ll succeed!” on that word of encouragement, Wizgiz leapt to another desk to check on the rest of his students.

 

Midoriya released a breath. He could do this.

 

The teen closed his eyes again, concentrated a little softer, and envisioned his hair a different colour. This time, he felt something deep within him, so he tried to reach inside for it to channel it up to his hair. 

 

Only for the mirror to fly out of his hand, and hit the girl in front of him with enough force for her to pitch forwards and smack her forehead against her desk. 

 

Again, all attention turned towards Midoriya. The brained girl spun around, snarling viciously at the green-haired teen while nursing the bruise on her forehead. 

 

“S-Sorry…” Midoriya winced, hands up in surrender.

 


 

Midoriya flopped down onto his bed dejectedly.

 

“In the end, I was the only one who didn’t even make any progress at all…” he whined into his pillow.

 

“You just need practice,” Stella said from her bed.

 

“I have been doing that, but all I’ve done so far is cause trouble with the mirror!”

 

Indeed, throughout the entire exercise, Midoriya’s mirror had done the following:

 

  1. Leap out of his hand and hit Professor Wizgiz
  2. Shoot up and got stuck on the ceiling
  3. Went flying out of the window, resulting in a broken window-pane
  4. Hit several more of his classmates
  5. Become enchanted to actually walk out of the classroom

 

The last one had cost him the rest of the exercise, as the mirror refused to be caught, leading him in a chase around the entire campus. It was only after an unexpected encounter with Faragonda (who was able to cancel the enchantment on the mirror) was Midoriya able to return to class, only to find that Professor Wizgiz had moved on to the theory portion of the lesson. 

 

Heaven bless Tecna for agreeing to make a copy of the notes he had missed for his perusal later on.

 

“I think there’s something wrong with your channelling,” Stella remarked, “Let’s try it one more time, yeah?”

 

Midoriya sighed, but sat up nonetheless. He took the mirror and stared at his reflection.

 

“How were you doing it in class?” Stella asked.

 

“Well…” Midoriya scratched his cheek, “I stared at my reflection, closed my eyes, then concentrated, and tried to channel my magic into changing my hair colour.”

 

The blonde hmmed, “I think you shouldn’t focus the energy towards your reflection in the mirror, rather channel the energy into your visualisation.”

 

Midoriya nodded. He turned to the mirror, and closed his eyes. He concentrated on visualising his hair as a different colour from the normal forest-green. He felt his magic inside him, and gingerly reached out to it, mindful not to provoke it and soak the room with water as a result. Once he made contact, he slowly drew it up to his hair, keeping his visualisation at the forefront of his mind.

 

Growing a bit tired, Midoriya let go of his magic, and opened his eyes.

 

He was disappointed.

 

“All I managed to do was make myself look as if I’m in zero-gravity.”

 

His locks were all levitating over his head.

 

“But that’s still something!” Stella rebuffed, as Midoriya shook his hair back down, “At least you didn’t do anything with the mirror this time. I think you just need more practice.”

 

For the next half hour, Midoriya continued practicing with his magic. However, all he managed to do was mold his hair into different shapes. 

 

He had just opened his eyes from his latest attempt, only to find his hair standing dead-straight in sharp spikes, when knocking came from the door, which then opened.

 

“Yo Midoriya, Stella! We’re about to go down for an early lunch. Do you want to - ”

 

Musa stepped into the room, only to stop dead in her steps as she noticed Midoriya.

 

“Um...we’re just going for lunch you know, not performing for a rock concert.”

 

Midoriya shook his hair down with a sigh, “I know.”

 


 

The rest of the day was an eventful one. After a hearty lunch, the class gathered for their next lesson - potions.

 

They gathered in a classroom not all that different from the one they spent Metamorphosis 101 in. Alfea actually had three potions laboratories - one for each year level. However, the second and third-years were also having their potions lessons too, and the laboratory Stella blew up was still being repaired, so hence the temporary change of setting.

 

The lesson was completely theory. Partly to it being the first lesson of the syllabus, and partly due to the destroyed laboratory, something that the potions professor, an impassioned middle-aged woman by the name of Nurlia, kept going back to far too many times to be considered normal throughout the lesson.

 

‘She must be still really hung up about Stella-san’s botched spellwork ruining her pride and joy last year,’ Midoriya thought to himself as he and the girls made their way down for dinner.

 

After the final meal of the day, the students returned back to their dorms for the evening. The hours before curfew were spent washing up, preparing for the next day’s classes, and getting ready for bed. 

 

Midoriya went to bed a little later than the others, primarily because Stella wanted to finish her nighttime skincare regime before turning in, and partly because his thoughts kept him up after the lights were turned off.

 

His first day didn’t go exactly as he had hoped it would in terms of academic progression. And it left him wondering - how was tomorrow going to go? His class had lessons on curse-breaking and botany in the morning (which was fine, he had notebooks loaned by Tecna), but there was a practical flying lesson in the afternoon (which he wasn’t prepared for at all. He hadn’t even unlocked his wings yet...if he had any in the first place). He wasn’t sure if he was going to make any progress at all tomorrow, or if he was going to lag behind even more than he was now.

 

Midoriya sighed, and turned over to his side. He’ll see how it goes tomorrow. Right now, he needed his sleep.

 


 

Breakfast was the standard affair. Midoriya helped himself to some buttered toast and what looked like scrambled eggs, unusually not joining in the conversation that much. Sitting beside him, Bloom was talking to Musa about something he wasn’t paying attention to.

 

“Is there something wrong, Midoriya?” Flora suddenly asked him, “You’re being unusually quiet this morning.”

 

The green-haired teen sighed, putting down his half-eaten toast.

 

“I’m worried about the practical flying lesson this afternoon, Flora-san. I’ve yet to unlock my wings, and I can’t afford to fall behind given what happened yesterday.”

 

“It’s only the second day, Midoriya,” Tecna interjected from her bowl of what looked like cereal, “It’s no big deal if you’re having trouble keeping up with schoolwork.”

 

‘That may be true, but you shouldn’t phrase it like that,’ Midoriya inwardly admonished, picking up his toast.

 

At the staff table at the front of the dining hall, Faragonda tapped her teaspoon against her glass, silencing all conversation and drawing attention to herself. With everyone turned towards her, she stood up from her seat.

 

“A good morning to you all, and I hope you are all having a pleasant breakfast. I have a very important announcement to make, so do pay your utmost attention.”

 

Midoriya glanced at Bloom before returning back to the headmistress.

 

“Every year, it is a tradition here in Alfea to host the back-to-school gala on the second night of the academic year. Afternoon classes will be cancelled to give you all the chance to go to Magix to purchase clothes if needed, or to help decorate the main hall if you wish to volunteer. All students are invited to the gala, and the gentlemen from Red Fountain will also be attending.”

 

Excited noise broke out immediately. Midoriya could hear the girls around him gush about the “hot” and “cute” boys coming to the school and what outfit they were going to wear tonight.

 

Faragonda clapped her hands, “Quieten down, everyone, I wasn’t finished yet.” All the noise died down again. “Thank you. Now as I was about to say, to maintain our standing as the best school for fairies in the magical dimension, we must treat our guests warmly and be exemplary hosts…”

 

“But we also expect you all to maintain good discipline and not to get too intimate with our guests,” Griselda added in with a stern gaze over the students, “The staff will act as minders to make sure no hanky-panky or other illicit acts take place tonight.”

 

“We do however,” Faragonda continued, “highly encourage everyone to mingle and make friends with one another. To facilitate that, the gala will include a dance to round off the evening. The gentlemen will also be bringing a surprise gift for you all, so I’m certain that tonight will be one of fun and laughter. Now I won’t disturb the rest of your breakfast, but be mindful that classes will begin in twenty minutes. Thank you for your attention.”

 

The headmistress sat back down, and the excited chatter picked up again. Impervious to it all, Midoriya fell into his thoughts.

 

He was temporarily relieved to hear that the flying lesson was cancelled. Plus, he had never attended an event like this before. And the Red Fountain students were coming too…

 

Wait.

 

Midoriya started, if the Red Fountain students were coming, that means Rykios would be coming too.

 

He felt his stomach tingle with nervousness. The mere thought about the dark-skinned specialist put him into a state of unease, especially when he remembered those cold ruby-red irises that seemed to instill danger and a warning of imminent destruction.

 

The green-haired teen steeled himself before he ended up spiraling into a panic attack. He reasoned to himself, ‘Rykios-san didn’t harm me in anyway last time round, because I didn’t provoke a response. If I do encounter him, just be polite, don’t antagonise him, don’t give him a reason to attack me. I’ll be fine.’

 

Trying to focus his thoughts away from Rykios, Midoriya wondered about something else that was bothering him about Faragonda’s announcement.

 

‘If the Red Fountain students were invited, why weren’t the witches of Cloud Tower invited too?’

 


 

Across the lagoon from Alfea, on a rocky mountain top filled with jagged stones and sheer cliff-drops, looming high against the backdrop of a severely overcast sky with the occasional flash of lightning, the Cloud Tower School of Witches rose imposingly over the landscape. 

 

Inside the main assembly hall, witches-in-training from all three year-levels had gathered, waiting in throne-like seats for their headmistress to appear and address them. There was curiosity and uncertainty in the air, as the only thing they were told about this address was that it was of great importance. Some were speculating, while others just silently waited.

 

Lightning flashed on the overhead windows, followed by the loud rumble of thunder. As if on cue, a figure made their way onto the balcony overlooking the entire hall.

 

“That’s her.”

 

“She’s so strange…” a freshman quietly remarked.

 

Headmistress Griffin was certainly a sight one would never expect to see on an average day. Pale skin with a slight greenish-tint with large purple hair, dressed in a dark maroon dress with a stiff collar and faded-blue detached sleeves. Her large eyes scanned the entire hall, her lips tightened into a devious smirk.

 

“My dear witches,” her voice echoed throughout the hall, “I hope your first day here has been full of wickedness and mayhem. I’ve called you all here today because of an event happening tonight that has filled my heart with disgust and contempt. The fairies at Alfea are hosting a back-to-school dance, and once again, we were not invited.”

 

Griffin paused for a moment to let her students jeer and curse at the news.

 

“That’s right,” the headmistress continued, “again we have been snubbed by the fairies who think themselves too good to mingle among us witches, that their laughter and light has no place alongside our cunning and deviousness. Well, I say that we turn the tables on them, turn their smiles into wails of despair and fear!”

 

The students were now paying attention eagerly, though a few - one of them a burgundy-haired girl wearing gothic punk-style clothes - looked rather uncomfortable.

 

“I will be holding a school-wide competition. The aim is simple - come up with your best plan to sabotage Alfea’s precious dance. The winning submission will be awarded a gift certificate to Aberzombie & Witch, and I know you all would love to get your hands on that. They did just release a new line of clothing I’m sure you’re dying to show off,” Griffin paused, letting the excitement brew for a moment before continuing, “That aside, I want all proposals to be submitted by lunchtime, and the chosen submission will be carried out tonight. That’s all I have for you all, and may the worst witch win.”

 

Griffin turned around and walked away from the balcony. As excited chatter filled the hall, a certain trio of witches were scheming between themselves.

 

“Sounds like a good reason to go after Stella’s ring,” Icy told her companions, “What do you girls think, Darcy, Stormy? Shall we come up with a plan?”

 

“Why not,” Darcy shrugged, “It’s been a while since I’ve seen fairies cry.”

 

“But we’ll have to go to that lame-ass party,” Stormy complained, “I’d rather be doing something more fun tonight than be surrounded by those pixies.”

 

“Trust me, Stormy dear, it will be worth it,” Icy’s smile was absolutely evil, “And we’re going to make it horrendously fun !”

 


 

Back at Alfea, Bloom was in the common room, reviewing her notes from the morning classes. As she sifted through the pages in her notebook, the sound of a door opening drew her attention away from the written words. 

 

“Hey Bloom, so what do you think?”

 

“Oh wow, Stella, that looks really pretty!”

 

The dress itself was eye-catching - a long, flowing orange skirt, blue fabric forming the collar, running down the back and accentuating the skirt, and a bikini-top of matching orange with blue detailing across the bust.

 

“Thank you Bloom! It’s an Iwink Wizrahi, and I just knew it was the perfect dress. Granted, it wasn’t cheap and I maxed out the credit card Daddy gave me, but I just had to get it! It was calling out to me from the shop window, crying “Please! Buy me! Buy me now!” ”.

 

The redhead couldn’t stop the chuckle from her friend’s antics.

 

“Gotta say Stella, that is one fresh-looking dress!” Musa remarked as she emerged from her room, dressed in a red and magenta outfit clearly inspired by East Asian clothing. The collar was almost separate from the rest of the outfit, connected by two pieces of fabric to a top that was off the shoulder and ran down to her hips. A pair of magenta flared pants and a pair of red headphones completed the ensemble.

 

“You look really cool too Musa!” Bloom flashed a thumbs-up.

 

“Thanks!”

 

“Hey...um...how do I look?” Flora stepped out of her room, a little shy about her outfit. The gown was rather voluminous of a light shade of pink, while the bodice was a darker shade, with green straps weaving around her shoulders and neck. The skirt had small flowers embroidered along the length, and the hemline was lined with green detailing. Her hair also sported twin buns and a rose hair clip.

 

“You look really beautiful Flora, don’t you worry,” Bloom reassured, Musa and Stella nodding in assent.

 

Flora blushed.

 

Tecna was next to step out of her room, “I researched the latest in fabric technology, and arrived at this. How do I look?”

 

Her outfit was certainly both interesting and odd. Consisting of a mauve and lime-green top with a large collar that split open just underneath the bust and flaring out to the ground, a skin-fitting mini-dress underneath, ending with knee-high boots of matching colours and a white tiara-like headband.

 

“Looks futuristic,” Musa remarked, “Where did you get it, Mars?”

 

Tecna huffed, “It’s one of the trending designs on Zenith.”

 

“Well at least it won’t wrinkle,” Stella put forward diplomatically.

 

“By the way, where’s Midoriya?” Flora asked.

 

As if on cue, the green-haired teen emerged from his room.

 

“I don’t think I’ve got the tie done right…” he muttered to himself.

 

As compared to the girls’ outfits, Midoriya’s get-up was comparatively...plain. He wore a simple white dress-shirt, dark gray pants, a black floor-length vest with silver swirling embroidery along the hem, an emerald-encrusted bolo tie, and his signature red sneakers.

 

“Here, let me help with that,” Stella came forward.

 

“You look really practical,” Musa quipped.

 

“The sneakers don’t match with the outfit though…” Tecna pointed out.

 

“You can take my high-tops over my dead body,” Midoriya replied sternly.

 

Somewhere else in the campus, a bathroom tap exploded, drenching an unfortunate girl who just wanted to wash her hands.

 

Stella finished sorting out Midoriya’s tie.

 

“So I heard the boys from Red Fountain are really cute from the older years,” Flora mentioned.

 

“Like I care,” Tecna sniffed.

 

“If that’s the case, why are you dressed like a diva trying to woo an unsuspecting guy?” Midoriya raised an eyebrow.

 

Tecna flushed, “It’s a formal event, I’m merely dressing as what is expected of me.”

 

Sure …” Stella giggled knowingly, “So what about you Bloom? What are you going to wear?”

 

“I’m not sure…” the redhead put away her notes, “I don’t have anything fancy with me.”

 

“Now don’t you worry Bloom,” Stella assured her, “No friend of mine is going to be embarrassed tonight with apparel-shame. There’s a simple solution to this predicament - shopping!”

 


 

Bloom found herself back in Magix for the third time in a week. Just as the group was leaving the main station, Midoriya suddenly asked, “Do you girls need my help choosing Bloom-san’s dress?”

 

“Why do you ask?” Flora wondered.

 

“I was hoping that I can check out Miriam’s bakery and apply for a job,” Midoriya explained, “We didn’t get a chance to do that because of what happened the day before yesterday, and I don’t think my opinion on fashion would help that much.”

 

The girls considered his request.

 

“Will you be able to find your way around?” asked Musa.

 

“Does anyone have a map I can borrow?”

 

“Here,” Stella fished about in her handbag, “you can borrow my spare phone.” She opened the map application, keyed in the address, and tossed it to Midoriya.

 

“I’ll give you a call when we’re done. We’ll meet back here at the station.”

 

“Alright,” Midoriya nodded.

 

With that, the group split up.

 

Following the map, Midoriya arrived at the same shopping arcade where he and the girls had gone for pizza. Cutting through the little pathways, he came to a section of the arcade that had significantly less foot-traffic. Turning a corner, he found the bakery - a quaint little shop that had a rustic look to the interior.

 

As expected, there was a job vacancy flyer pasted on the window.

 

Midoriya pushed the glass door open, and immediately the aroma of freshly-made pastries wafted into his nostrils. Soft ambient music was playing from overhead speakers, the lighting casting a soft glow over the entire bakery.

 

Cutting through the rows of display cases loaded with tantalising pastries and cakes, Midoriya heard humming coming from somewhere at the back. A door was pushed open, and out stepped a woman in her sixties, carrying a tray of freshly-baked croissants with sugar dusting on top. She sat the tray down on a counter, and turned around, spotting Midoriya instantly.

 

“Good afternoon dearie, how may I help you today?”

 

“Hi, um, I saw the job vacancy flyer outside, and I was wondering if the job is still available?”

 

“Of course! Of course!” the woman’s eyes brightened, “You’re the first applicant I’ve had so far. Come over here, my dear, I need to ask you a few questions first.”

 

Midoriya flipped the counter door over and stepped behind.

 

“My name is Miriam, what’s yours?”

 

“Pleasure to meet you, Miriam-san. I’m Midoriya Izuku.”

 

“And it’s a pleasure to meet you too, Midoriya,” Miriam smiled, “And where are you from?”

 

“Earth.”

 

Miriam started at this, “Earth? Do you have magic then?”

 

“Apparently so,” Midoriya shrugged.

 

“Can you show me?”

 

The teen glanced around. He spotted a sink behind the counter. He stretched out his hand, and concentrated. The tap opened, and a small stream of water started cascading into the basin. Midoriya clenched his fist, and the water pulled away from the basin and hovered over towards him. With a bit of effort, he was able to make the water swirl around his forearm. Releasing his concentration, Midoriya sent the water back into the basin, and the tap turned off.

 

“Impressive,” Miriam nodded, “Alright, final question, why do you want the job?”

 

Midoriya scratched his cheek, “I was looking for a job so that I could sustain myself without having to constantly rely on others. You see, when I said I was from Earth, it is not actually where I am from. It is still an Earth, just not the same one. You might say it’s a parallel universe. I came to this Earth purely by accident, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to go back. In the meantime, I’ve enrolled at Alfea to hone my magic, and I’ve made some friends already. But I don’t want to leech off of them or burden them, it goes against my morals as a person. Also, I have experience with baking, having done so with my mom on occasion during the weekends. And if there’s any way I can show to you that I can be proficient at the job, I’m more than willing to take the chance.”

 

He finished his answer with a bow.

 

Miriam fell into deep, considering thought. For a few moments, nothing but the ambient music playing could be heard in the air.

 

“Well, I can’t say no to such sincerity and earnestness, can I?”

 

Midoriya straightened back up.

 

“But before we can work something out, I need to see how good you are with baking. If you could now follow me, please.”

 

Miriam headed for the kitchen doors, Midoriya following close behind.

 


 

Bloom was having significantly less success in her search for the right dress.

 

She and the girls had visited multiple shops across a few retail districts, and tried on so many dresses she had lost count of the actual number. Nothing she had worn won the full approval of her friends, there was always at least one of them who shook her head when she emerged from the changing room. There were also dresses that everyone seemed to like, but Bloom herself thought otherwise and rejected them.

 

The group were now at a rather high-end shop in an up-market district. She had already gone through five dresses, and now she was back in the changing room, trying to put on the sixth dress Stella had pushed into her arms with great difficulty.

 

After ten minutes of struggle, Bloom managed to pull up the zipper at the back. She released a breath, this dress was more form-fitting than the others she had tried, and as she looked at her reflection in the mirror, showed off a bit more skin at the same time.

 

Turning around, she stepped out.

 

“What do you girls think?”

 

The single-shoulder dress was primarily cornflower blue with a darker cobalt-blue for the neck, the sash running from her shoulder to her bust, and the ribbons tied around her forearms. A large oval was cut out of the middle, exposing the bottom of her breasts down to her navel.

 

“Jackpot there,” Stella gave a thumbs-up.

 

“It compliments your hair colour,” Tecna remarked.

 

Bloom checked the price tag, and blanched, her eyes bugging out slightly. She had tried on many dresses that were rather on the pricey side, but this one took the cake, literally. There were far too many zeroes for her to settle within good conscience.

 

“Nope, too expensive,” the redhead turned around and disappeared back into the changing room.

 

“Don’t worry, I’ve got this,” Stella rebuffed, taking out her credit card.

 

“You can’t, remember?” Flora interjected, “You already maxed it out.”

 

Stella dejectedly put away her card, making a mental note to negotiate with her father to increase the limit.

 


 

The girls left the shop with dejected hearts. The sun was already beginning to set, there wasn’t much time left.

 

“You girls should go back first,” said Bloom.

 

“You sure? We can stay with you,” Musa asked in response.

 

“I’m sure,” Bloom nodded, “You all need to get ready, and you need to meet up with Midoriya. I’m sure I can find something on my own.”

 

Reluctantly, the girls agreed. After seeing them off, Bloom started looking around for a more budget-friendly clothing shop. It required her to leave the district and half an hour of searching.

 

“With the money I have, the only way I’m going to find a dress in such short notice is if I get lucky…”

 

Bloom came to a stop outside a shop, the front window plastered with a huge banner reading ‘Sale!’.

 

“...or a sale.”

 

She quickly went inside, and made a beeline for the racks. Bloom inspected dress after dress, but none of them looked good on her. When the racks produced nothing, she turned to the large clothing boxes in the middle of the shop. She went through two boxes before she finally hit the jackpot.

 

Bloom took the dress into the changing room, and tried it on. It fitted perfectly, not so tight-fitting like the expensive dress she had tried on previously, but not too loose either. The top and full-length skirt was made of cyan-blue fabric, while the sleeves and midriff were of light silver. It might not have looked like the perfect dress for a party, but Bloom already had an idea for a few alterations that would dramatically change it into something more appropriate.

 

She checked the price tag, and her luck won out again. The initial price was a hundred roneos, but the sale slashed the price by seventy five-percent.

 

This was just right.

 

Bloom took off the dress and hurried to the cash counter to pay for it. Adding to her streak of luck, the lady at the register recommended a pair of high-heels that complimented the dress, and it was only twenty-five roneos after the sale. Bloom quickly bought the shoes, and added the box into the shopping bag containing the dress. Thanking the lady, she rushed out of the shop. 

 

A nearby clock showed the time - 5:12pm. Bloom realised she needed to hurry, and dashed for the nearest bus stop that would take her back to the main station.

 


 

Meanwhile, back at Cloud Tower, Icy, Darcy and Stormy had been summoned to the headmistress’ office.

 

“I’ve went through dozens of proposals, but until I came across yours, I’ve never read such a despicable, abhorrent, disgusting, repulsive and absolutely repugnant idea!” Griffin told them pointedly, “In other words, it’s the best!”

 

The three witches smirked at their headmistress’ praise.

 

“Thank you, Ms. Griffin,” Icy nodded.

 

“It’s the perfect plan to sabotage their fun and laughter,” Griffin continued, presenting the gift certificate as promised, “I trust that you will do Cloud Tower proud?”

 

Darcy took the certificate, “You can count on us, Ms. Griffin. Tonight will be filled retching, gagging, and non-stop vomiting.”

 

“You’ll go to sleep with the music of fairies in pain echoing across the lagoon,” Stormy promised.

 


 

Bloom cursed as she alighted from the hover-bus outside of Alfea. The normal journey was disrupted by a massive, multi-vehicle pileup in the middle of Magix, bringing traffic to a virtual halt. It didn’t help that it was the end of the work day too, so by the time the bus finally arrived at the gates, it was almost 7pm, the designated time for the gala to begin.

 

‘I gotta hurry…’

 

Just as she reached the dormitory block, loud engine noises reached her ears. Bloom looked up, and watched with a slightly-ajar mouth as two large red aircraft that somewhat resembled UFOs descended into the courtyard. The ground shuddered with the landing. From the aircraft, airstairs opened down to the ground. People began to disembark, led by two men - one with long white hair and was rather short, and a taller, much more muscular man with a stern expression. Bloom instantly recognised who the young men were from the uniforms they were wearing.

 

“Fuck, the Red Fountain guys are already here. I gotta get my dress fixed!”

 

Bloom rushed into the block and up the stairs to her dorm.

 

Throwing the door open and slamming it shut behind, she burst into her room, startling Kiko who was pawing up her desk where a container of chopped carrots sat perched on top.

 

“I’ll feed you in a bit, Kiko!”

 

Throwing the bag onto her bed, Bloom pulled out the dress and the high-heels. While she went to look for the sewing kit she knew Flora kept on her side of the room, Kiko hopped up onto the bed, ambling over to dress draped haphazardly over the sheets. He sniffed the fabric curiously, only to fall backwards with a yelp when his owner swiped the dress away from him.

 

Now with the sewing kit by her side, Bloom could start on her work.

 

Taking out a pair of scissors, she first began by cutting the sleeves off from the top, along with most of the midriff, leaving just a bit of silver fabric under the top. She then moved on to the skirt, cutting off about a quarter of the length at an upwards angle. Putting the scissors to the side, Bloom took out a roll of cobalt-blue ribbon, cut off two equal lengths, and sewed them along the sleeves at certain points to allow for the sleeves to be tightened around her arms. She cut out two more lengths to serve as a belt around the skirt, and another as a strap around the bottom of the top to tighten it around her bust. After more sewing, it was done.

 

Bloom quickly slipped on the dress, mindful not to tear the straps or the fabric. She couldn’t afford to have a wardrobe malfunction now.

 

Adjusting the sleeves and tying the straps, she sat down on the bed. Taking out the high-heels, she slipped them on, wiggling her toes to get used to the new shoes.

 

Standing up, Bloom headed over to her desk. She picked up the carrot-filled container and took off the lid.

 

“Here you go, Kiko, eat up. Now I need to get going, so you be a good rabbit, okay?”

 

Kiko paused from his ravenous munching to give his owner the rabbit-equivalent of a salute, before returning back to his dinner with gusto.

 

Satisfied, Bloom quickly left her room and departed for the main hall.

 


 

Meanwhile, a familiar group of specialists were conversing between themselves as they crossed the courtyard towards the main hall with their schoolmates.

 

“Remind me again of the point of this whole thing?” Riven grumbled.

 

“A welcome break from strenuous training,” Brandon replied matter-of-factly.

 

“A chance to mingle with cute girls,” Sky added, giving a trio of gushing first-years a coy smile and a wink.

 

“You more than me,” Brandon teased.

 

As the two friends got into a playful fight, Timmy turned to Riven, “Did you come last time?”

 

“No, I was suspended.”

 

Timmy glanced at Rykios, unsure of how someone could get suspended so early in the school year. The dark-skinned specialist shook his head, which was more than enough of a signal for Timmy to not dwell on the matter further.

 

“So basically a boring-ass party with lame pixies for company,” Riven drawled, “I should have gotten detention or something.”

 

“Oh can it, Riven,” Sky scolded, “Tonight’s going to be fun!”

 

“And I’m sure it’s seeing a certain princess again that’s going to count for that, am I right?” Brandon continued his teasing, nudging his friend.

 

The brunette blushed deeply, “S-Shut the fuck up, bro.”

 

Riven couldn’t help but throw in a jibe of his own, “It’s just like you to have a crush on a pixie, you womaniser.”

 

The maroon redhead might have thought his joke was pretty funny, but his classmates didn’t share with the humour. 

 

“Remind me again why do we have to deal with him?” Timmy confided with Brandon.

 

The blonde sighed, “Codatorta hopes that we will be able to “change his stubborn, aggressive ways”. But honestly, I don’t know.”

 

Rykios, the silent one of the group, released a breath. He has never said much about Riven’s difficult position in the group (or about anything in general, really), and to be frank, he didn’t care much either. His mind was on the party that was about to start, and on one particular green-haired boy.

 

It was unusual, since Rykios never really thought about most people except for his family and the group he was part of at Red Fountain, preferring instead to focus his time and energy on training and expanding his knowledge before he was to fulfill his duties as the next King of Lunkimda. Yet ever since leaving Earth with the hunting troll, Rykios couldn’t stop thinking about Midoriya Izuku; that timid, cute, and freckled boy who had no trouble (or reservations) with getting his hands dirty with a sharp weapon. Midoriya intrigued him, looking for all the world like a damsel in distress who wouldn’t hurt a fly one second, and the next, a brave warrior capable of taking on dangerous creatures without the fear of injury or death. There were a lot of contradictions with Midoriya, and it both fascinated and unnerved him.

 

Just who was Midoriya? Rykios knew the boy had magic, but just what else was the freckled cutie hiding behind that façade? It had to be more than just looking perpetually frightened and nervous, if he took on a hunting troll and survived. The dark-skinned specialist was taught from young that first impressions mean nothing; a human was far more complex than superficiality. 

 

The mystery of Midoriya drove Rykios towards a singular goal. He wanted to get to know the green-haired enigma better. This boy stood out like an outlier, even more so if he had actually enrolled in Alfea as Princess Stella said he was, and Rykios wanted to grab that opportunity to understand the boy who managed to chip at his famous stoicness completely.

 


 

“You should have told us that we’d be walking,” Darcy whined, “I wouldn’t have worn these heels.”

 

The three witches were hurrying along a dark tunnel which was part of an elaborate underground system that connected the three magical schools. They were built in case of emergencies centuries ago, and most people have already forgotten about their existence in this age. Those few who do still remember the tunnel system don’t give them much thought as well.

 

“Stop your bitching, will you?” Icy hissed, “Once the ring of Solaria is ours, we will ride in chariots everywhere.”

 

“Are we almost there, at least?”

 

“Um... you’re the one who’s holding the map,” Stormy pointed out.

 

Darcy blushed, peering back down at the parchment filled with a confusing mess of black lines. The blinking light on one of the lines indicated their position, inching closer and closer towards Alfea.

 

“Okay, Alfea’s just ahead.”

 

“Then let the games begin,” Icy chuckled.

 


 

Bloom was hurrying down the corridor. Everyone else was already in the main hall, and she didn’t want to be that fool who stumbles into the event late.

 

Heaven knows she won’t be able to live down the embarrassment.

 

But as she was about to turn round a corner, a voice reached her ears.

 

“I think we’re close to where the gifts are stored.”

 

Bloom started. She recognised that voice. It belonged to the witch with the electrically-charged hair and dressed in maroon. 

 

She peered around the corner. It was the three witches who attacked her and her friends two nights before in Magix. What were they doing here in Alfea?

 

Whatever it was, it can’t be anything good. 

 

Bloom followed after them, maintaining a safe distance and pausing behind every corner to hide herself from their attention. Pursuing them led her to a corridor not too far from the main hall, judging from the loud chatter that could be heard further down. Bloom hid behind a corner, peeking out to see what the three witches were planning to do.

 

“This is place is such a drab,” Darcy sneered, “Why the Red Fountain boys want to hang out with these losers is beyond me.”

 

“Jealous?” Icy smirked.

 

“As if.”

 

“Girls, we have more important things to do now,” Stormy cut in, “A little help would be most appreciated.”

 

Icy and Darcy shot her a shared glare, but nonetheless approached the two chests that were sitting innocuously against the wall, both bearing the Red Fountain coat of arms. Stormy laid a hand on one of the chests.

 

“We’ll use the resulting chaos and mayhem to sneak in and steal the ring.”

 

“Um...yeah? We came up with the idea,” Darcy sassed.

 

Stormy ignored her, standing back up.

 

“First, we need to locate the ring,” said Icy.

 

Darcy stepped forward, stretching her hands out, “ The spell is cast, show us the past. Reveal to us where the ring of Solaria is hidden!

 

Bloom watched as a cloud of purple miasma manifested in front of Darcy. A vision appeared in the miasma, like a video being played, showing Stella putting the ring into a clam-shaped box and placing it into one of her treasure chests for safe-keeping. Bloom felt her stomach drop.

 

“This is going to be like stealing candy from a baby,” Stormy smirked.

 

“Your turn, Stormy,” Icy said.

 

Said witch opened the chests, revealing rows of golden eggs with orange spots on them, the moonlight glinting off and producing a shimmering effect.

 

Darcy plucked one out, “Hm...enchanted eggs.” She cracked it open, and out surged a stream of shining butterflies that flew up towards the ceiling, fluttered about the corridor for a few moments before disappearing. Bloom had to admit that it was a really beautiful sight.

 

“Ugh, that’s so sickeningly sweet I’m going to get diabetes.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, Darcy,” Icy turned to her friend, “Once we are done with these things, it will be the health of the fairies that will be main concern tonight.”

 

She stretched out her hands, Darcy and Stormy taking them. The three witches formed a semicircle around the two chests. Bloom watched with widened eyes as the trio began to chant together.

 

“Turn the enchanted into the cursed. Give them a bite that will make them puke first. The eggs will hatch and snake-rats appear.  And spread nausea, death, and terrible fear!”

 

Three orbs of blue, purple and magenta appeared out of thin air. They floated over the two chests and disappeared. The chests glowed, and the spots on the eggs changed into stripes.

 

Bloom had to admit that it was a clever trick. Most people won’t know the difference until the eggs were cracked open. But by then, it would be too late.

 

“Now all we have to do now is sit back and watch the chaos unfold,” Icy laughed, Darcy and Stormy joining in on the cackling. 

 

Bloom stayed quiet. The chests were closed and the three witches hurried down the corridor. Bloom slipped out of her hiding spot, and stealthily followed them. Pursuing them into the grounds, she could see the witches duck into an enclave of bamboo just across from the main hall where the party was already underway.

 

‘I need to tell the others about this,’ Bloom thought to herself.

 

Rushing back inside, Bloom hurried towards the main hall. She skidded at the entrance and dashed inside, not pausing to take in just how beautifully decorated the hall was - from the crystal chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling to the banners hanging down from marble columns carved and ornamented with gold, or bask in the attention her dress was receiving from the other party-goers. She needed to find her friends quickly.

 

The trouble was, the hall was packed to the brim, with all year-levels from Alfea and Red Fountain packed into one space. Locating her friends seemed as easy as trying to find a needle in a haystack.

 

Pushing past people and apologising as she went, Bloom had no luck finding a familiar face in the crowd. As she continued her seemingly-fruitless search, she unknowingly ran face-first into the solid, muscular chest of a Red Fountain student. Bloom would have stumbled backwards if it weren’t for strong arms wrapping around her and holding her securely.

 

“Oh fuck, I’m so sorry,” she apologised, pushing her hair out of her face. When she looked up, she instantly recognised the blonde hair partially covering bright-blue eyes, “Oh! You’re Brandon, aren’t you?”

 

Brandon smiled, “Yep! Bloom, am I correct? Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I’m fine, sorry about that.”

 

The blonde released the redhead from his grip, and eyed her dress, “That’s a really pretty dress, where did you get it?”

 

“I actually got it from a budget store with an ongoing sale,” Bloom spun in a slow circle, “A few alterations and additions, and we have Bloom Couture !”

 

Brandon was both impressed by the redhead’s work and amused by her joke.

 

“Anyway, I hope you don’t mind, I need to be off. I need to find my friends.”

 

“Oh, it’s fine,” Brandon shrugged, “I think I saw Stella and a few others hanging by the punch bowl. But...maybe we can have a dance later?”

 

“Of course, I’ll see you later.”

 

Bloom waved, then disappeared back into the crowd, Brandon watching her go with a smile. A bit more pushing and apologies, she finally reached her friends.

 

“Oh hey Bloom! You’re here!” Stella brightened, “And wow, your dress! I love it! Where did you get it?”

 

“Not now,” the redhead shook her head, “Something’s about to happen, and it’s going to turn this party into bedlam, and not in a good way.”

 

“What do you mean?” Musa asked.

 

“Here isn’t the best place, I’ll tell you all outside.”

 

The group slowly departed from the hall, though Midoriya casted a few glances around before joining the girls. Now outside in the corridor away from the noise, everyone turned to Bloom.

 

“What’s going on?” asked Flora.

 

“Those three witches that attacked us in Magix are in Alfea, right now,” Bloom revealed.

 

The temperature dropped by several degrees, all residual excitement from the party evaporated as the grave circumstances became apparent.

 

“How do you know?” Midoriya asked.

 

“I saw them in the corridor as I was making my way down here,” Bloom explained, “They are planning to sabotage the party. I saw them cast some kind of spell over the gifts the boys had brought for us, which are enchanted eggs that when opened releases a stream of glowing butterflies. Only now the eggs have been cursed into something that produces a...snake...rat?”

 

Tecna hummed, “Snake-rat? Let me check my database real quick.”

 

A projection appeared out of Tecna’s palm, producing an image of a decidedly foul-looking, four-legged creature, “Snake-rats are swamp creatures of the disgustabilus genus, their main food source are toads and other amphibious animals. Their bite is so venomous that it causes severe projectile vomiting on first contact. Furthermore if the victim is allergic to the venom, death can happen within ten seconds if no antidote is administered.”

 

“That’s horrible!” Flora exclaimed.

 

“I don’t get why those bitches are going so far,” said Stella, “I mean, they might be salty about not being invited or getting to hang out with hot boys, but that doesn’t give them the excuse to threaten innocent lives! They are so immature.”

 

“Actually, it’s not about the boys or getting snubbed,” Bloom interjected, “The Trix are merely using this as a diversion. What they are really after is your ring Stella! We have to do something!”

 

The gravity of the situation just became even worse.

 

“Truly devious,” Musa growled, “But it’s cool, the situation is still salvageable. We’ll just retrieve the ring before the witches can get their grubby hands on it.”

 

“That will have to wait,” Flora suddenly gasped, “Look!”

 

The group followed her pointed finger. Sky and Timmy, along with two other specialists, were already carrying the chests containing the cursed eggs into the middle of the hall.

 

“We hope you all enjoy the gifts we brought for you,” Sky said to the Alfea students, as the chests were opened.

 

“Well...I don’t see any snake-rats,” Musa remarked with a tinge of hope.

 

“I heard the Trix say the snake-rats will appear when the eggs are opened,” Bloom replied.

 

“Then we need a counter-spell, and fast!” Stella declared, “Quick, let’s form a circle. Everyone hold each other’s hands, and focus on your Winx!”

 

The group took each other’s hands in a circle, closed their eyes, and channelled their magic. Together as one, they chanted an incantation based on what they were taught during their curse-breaking lesson that morning.

 

“Let all the dark magic be reversed. Return the eggs like they were before they were cursed!”

 

From the circle, a cloud of glittering sparkles appeared out of thin air. It rushed into the hall, weaving through and around people’s legs until it reached the two chests. Both were enveloped in a soft yellow light, which disappeared before anyone even realised it was there in the first place. The stripes on the eggs reverted back to spots, just as Sky took out an egg and handed it over to an Alfea student. The other eggs were given out, and soon, the hall was filled with gasps of awe and coos of delight as the butterflies were released.

 

Meanwhile, outside the hall, the group sighed in relief, knackered from the usage of energy to perform the counter-spell.

 

“Spells are so exhausting…” Stella huffed our tiredly, wiping the sweat from her brow.

 

“Tell me about it,” Musa agreed, leaning back against the wall.

 

Sky suddenly appeared at the doorway, holding an egg. Midoriya noticed that he looked rather nervous.

 

“H-Hey Stella, this is for you.”

 

He handed the egg over to the blonde, who blinked in surprise, “Oh, thank you. H-How cute.”

 

Now, Midoriya observed a nervous countenance on Stella. He wondered if she was uneasy over how the egg could have caused so much chaos and mayhem just a minute ago, or if something was going on between her and Sky. He wasn’t sure.

 

“Hey, may I borrow that?”

 

Musa suddenly took the egg from Stella’s grasp.

 

“Flora, do you remember that tundra spell we read about in Teen Fairy earlier?”

 

The tanned brunette immediately caught on, “I like what you’re thinking, Musa. Hand over the egg, will you? I think it’s time to give those three witches a taste of their own medicine.”

 

Musa gave Flora the egg, “This spell will turn what they covet into something they will hate. Stella, could you summon your ring case?”

 

The blonde snapped her fingers, and the clam-shaped box appeared in her hand.

 

“We’ll replace the ring with this, and Shmoronburaboo !” Flora recited an incantation, and the egg glowed a soft yellow, the spots enlarging a little bit.

 

Stella took out her ring, slipped it onto her finger, and took the egg from Flora and placed it inside the box. She closed it, and with a snap of her fingers, the box disappeared, sending it back to her room.

 

“Now that the party and my ring are safe, I think we can all relax and enjoy ourselves,” Stella said, sliding her hand around Sky’s arm and leading him back into the hall.

 

“Planning on mingling with anyone?” Flora asked Bloom as the rest of the group returned to the hall.

 

“I do owe Brandon a dance,” the redhead replied.

 

“Oh ho? What’s this?” Musa teased, “Bagging yourself a man so soon?”

 

Bloom rolled her eyes, “Of course not, I barely know him!”

 


 

Meanwhile, hidden amongst the bamboo stalks, three witches were literally fuming with frustration when all they saw was the coos, gasps and laughs of awed girls watching the butterflies dance throughout the hall. The promised snake-rats, screams, cries, vomit and chaos never materialising.

 

“Un-fucking-believable!” Icy’s rupturing fury froze several bamboo stalks before splintering them into pieces, “Our spell was reversed?! How could our fail-proof spell be reversed?!”

 

“This is so infuriating,” Stormy snarled, “Let’s just crash the party and turn them all to fairy dust.”

 

“No, we can’t,” Darcy snapped, “Faragonda will whoop our asses the moment she sees us.”

 

“And we have to stay focused,” Icy added, “Our main goal tonight is the Solaria ring. Once we get it, not even that pesky Faragonda will be able to stand up to us.”

 


 

Midoriya thought his day had gone pretty well so far.

 

He managed to keep up with the theory lessons in the morning, and Stella helped him put together an outfit for the evening. His interview with Miriam was a success - he showed his proficiency by following a recipe on cream puffs and producing a fresh batch with no mistakes. He got the job, and after some discussion, it was agreed that he would work at the bakery during the weekends so as not to disrupt his lessons, with flexible hours at a rate of ten roneos per hour. It was with a pep in his step that Midoriya returned to Alfea to prepare for the party with the group sans Bloom.

 

Sure, the party was almost jeopardised by the meddling of those three witches, but that’s been settled now. Midoriya could now relax, as Stella said, and watch the party happen around him while sipping a flute of carbonated water. 

 

You’d think that he would mingle with the group or with his other classmates, but his friends have split off to God knows where, and he wasn’t exactly on speaking terms with the rest of the first-years, which was a bit weird, since one might expect him to be the subject of attention and the fielder of questions from curious students. But it seemed that the novelty had sort of worn off by now. 

 

Not that Midoriya minded, he wasn’t one for attention in the first place.

 

And besides, having observed heroes and villains until recently, he saw nothing wrong with people-watching until one of his friends dragged him into doing something. It was one of his pastimes, and having only been in the magical dimension for a few days, the people still intrigued him.

 

Midoriya eyed a dancing fairy and specialist not too far away from him. Taking another sip of his water, he didn’t notice the towering figure approach him from behind.

 

“Midoriya?”

 

The green-haired teen turned around at his name. His eyes met the collarbone and beginnings of a broad, extremely muscular chest wearing the Red Fountain uniform. He looked up, noticing dark skin, a strong jawline, black hair with red highlights shaved on the right side, and blood-red eyes.

 

Midoriya did not scream.

 

He did however jump in fright, barely holding in the said scream, his flute flying out of his hand and smashing to pieces on the floor. A few partygoers turned towards him.

 

“Ah! R-Rykios-san! I-I d-didn’t expect to see you t-tonight!”

 

The dark-skinned specialist cocked his head slightly, expression stoically-stony.

 

“H-H-How can I help you? Is t-there something you need?”

 

Midoriya felt he was about to spiral into a panic attack. He tried to remember what he had told himself during breakfast that morning - be polite, don’t antagonise Rykios, and don’t give him a reason to harm him. Try as he will, the hard gaze he was withering under did nothing to stop his rapidly-palpitating heart from threatening to destroy his ribcage. His mind went back and forth, trying to determine what irredeemable sin he had done to incur the dark-skinned specialist’s supposed wrath. 

 

True, Rykios hadn’t exploded in anger or attacked him yet, but there was the saying ‘calm before the storm’ to consider. 

 

Midoriya wondered if this was the way he was going to go - brutalised by intimidating specialist.

 

Rykios’ large hands reached upwards, and Midoriya flinched, eyes squeezing shut.

 

The younger teen did not expect the hands to weave into his hair.

 

Slowly, Midoriya opened his eyes.

 

“Why did you cut your hair? Less fluffy.”

 

Rykios began to play with Midoriya’s locks, much to the latter’s confusion and growing anxiety. He had no idea what was happening, and he was too frozen-stiff to do anything. His tongue was like lead, too heavy to make a sound. He just let the older specialist do as he pleased with his hair.

 

Until out of the blue, Rykios gently tugged at his hair.

 

Midoriya flinched, his breath hitching, his eyes becoming stricken. He stepped away suddenly, taking Rykios by surprise, who let go of the forest-green locks.

 

The younger teen said nothing, as he turned on his heel and dashed for the exit, bumping into multiple partygoers and ignoring their indignant shouts in his rush to escape. Rykios was left behind, unsure of what had just happened.

 

‘Did I do something wrong?’ the specialist wondered.

 

Bursting out of the hall, Midoriya rushed through the corridor, stumbling in his steps. In his haste, he failed to see Stella’s clam-shaped box floating down the corridor  in the opposite direction. Up ahead, a male bathroom awaited. Midoriya threw the door open and rushed inside. He beelined into a toilet cubicle, barely remembering to lock the door behind him. He had just made it to the toilet bowl, leaned over it, when he heaved.

 


 

Back in the bamboo enclave, the three witches were becoming gleeful.

 

“Here it comes,” Stormy uncharacteristically squealed.

 

The box floated over towards them, coming to a landing in Icy’s palms.

 

“At last, the ring of Solaria, is ours!” Icy declared rapturously.

 

The three witches cackled loudly in their victory.

 

“Oh, I can just imagine the power that is ours to wield,” Darcy gushed.

 

“Well said, Darcy, well said,” Icy grinned maliciously, “Fuck with the pixies’ party, they may be laughing and celebrating now, but when we unleash the power of Solaria over the land, they will cower before our might!”

 

“I can’t wait to see their faces contort with fear and despair!” Stormy said excitedly.

 

“You and me both, Stormy,” Icy nodded, “Now let’s get the hell out of here, I can’t stand to be in the presence of such happiness and light.”

 

The three witches made to move, when Darcy suddenly stopped.

 

“Hang on.”

 

Both Icy and Stormy turned to her.

 

“What is it? Let’s get going!” the latter snapped.

 

“I sense a significant spot of negativity inside Alfea,” said Darcy.

 

Eyebrows were raised.

 

“What do you mean?” asked Icy.

 

“Someone’s not having a pleasant night right now,” Darcy continued, “An outlier, if you will.”

 

Icy and Stormy glanced at one another, then to their brunette friend.

 

“You’ve got me interested, Darcy,” Icy said, “Why don’t we have a little peek at who it is. Maybe we can make her night even worse.”

 

“We get to mess with a fairy?” Stormy brightened, “Count me in.”

 

“Do your stuff Darcy,” Icy nodded.

 

The brunette witch concentrated, “Hone in on the darkness, the identity of the source we demand access.”

 

A dark purple miasma appeared before them. Like before, a vision materialised from the miasma, this time revealing Midoriya hunched over a toilet bowl, hurling up his stomach contents.

 

“I thought our curse was reversed?” Stormy asked.

 

“Their darkness is more from fear and the rise of unpleasant memories,” Darcy shook her head, “Nothing to do with us.”

 

“Hang on, I recognise the hair,” Stormy continued, “Isn’t that the boy you accidentally froze two days ago in Magix, Icy?”

 

“Indeed it is,” the pale witch nodded, before a truly devious look crossed her sharp features, “He wasn’t part of our fight against those pathetic fairies last time. Why don’t we give him something really sickening to curdle his stomach even more?”

 

“I like the sound of that,” Darcy grinned, cancelling the vision. Stormy nodded her assent.

 

“Great, let’s do this.”

 


 

Midoriya wiped his lips, coughing violently. He felt weak, his head spinning, and the taste of stomach acid and bile coated his mouth. His heart was still going at a hundred kilometres per hour, and his mind was in a mess.

 

He shakily stood up, breathing laboriously, a trembling hand reaching for the flush, sending away the remnants of food and drink down the drain. Sauntering out of the cubicle, he stumbled over to a sink. He turned the tap open, and scooped several handfuls of water into his mouth to rinse out the foul taste in his mouth. More water was splashed over his face to cool himself off.

 

Turning off the tap, Midoriya gripped the sides of the basin, trying to steady his breathing. 

 

He had hoped that until he was able to return home, he would be able to put his previous life to the back-burner, and focus on his time here in the magical dimension and Alfea, as Stella told him to do. 

 

But Rykios tugging his hair triggered a single memory, out of many that he wished was buried deep in the recessed of his mind and impossible to dig up. But they were still there, just out of sight, but still close enough to pounce at the right moment and tear him down.

 

Midoriya shuddered. It was a memory of multiple occasions, where Kacchan would grab him by the hair, and throw him either to the side, or against the wall whenever he was threatening him. Several times, it would be in the school bathroom, where Kacchan or one of his lackeys would again grab him by the hair, and force his head into a toilet bowl. If they wanted to be extra cruel (which was often), they would flush the toilet while his head was in it, or use a blocked toilet, threatening him with drowning (and cholera) multiple times.

 

And those eyes, oh heavens those eyes. Red as blood, dangerous and deadly. Midoriya only saw pain and trauma associated with ruby irises. Kacchan promised anger, explosions and fire, he didn’t know what Rykios promised, but the potential of great harm was a near certainty with his intimidating disposition and immense strength.

 

Midoriya turned the tap back on and splashed more water on his face. Perhaps he should just call it a night, go tell one of the girls that he wasn’t feeling well (which was true) and retire to the dorm. 

 

Yes. That sounded like a good plan. 

 

He turned off the tap, and wiped the excess water from his face. Midoriya let out a sigh, pulling away from the sink and heading for the door.

 

Opening it, he stepped out, only to realise that something was not right.

 

Instead of the hallway, it was the grounds outside of the castle, specifically near the main hall where the party was still ongoing. The moon and stars were out, setting a backdrop against the silhouette of the vegetation surrounding Alfea.

 

Midoriya blinked, his mind still processing how he managed to get outside when by right he should still be inside the castle. He turned around, hoping to go back where he came from, only to face a blank wall.

 

Okay...something was seriously not right here, if the foreboding in his empty stomach was any indication.

 

“So nice of you to join us.”

 

The unfamiliar voice made Midoriya spin around. His eyes widened.

 

“You.”

 

There standing before him, was Icy, Darcy and Stormy.

 

“W-What do you want with me?” Midoriya tried to pull his nerves together, attempting to ignore the growing fear and anxiety in his stomach.

 

“Nothing much,” Stormy replied with mock-innocence, “Just to sate our curiosity. I thought only girls enroll in this lame-ass school for pixies.”

 

Midoriya was inching away from the witches, eyes darting about for any possible escape paths, “I-I have magic! A-And Ms. Faragonda allowed me to enroll to hone my skills to protect those who have taken care of me!”

 

“Did you hear that?” Darcy grinned, “The loser thinks he can protect others with his weak, little magic!”

 

“Lofty goals, and quite unrealistic, don’t you think?” Icy mocked, the words striking the memory of a certain number one hero on the rooftop, “Did you even stop to think about whether you are able to protect yourself ?”

 

Panic setting in, Midoriya tried to make a run for it.

 

“Ah ah ~ Just where do you think you’re going, little boy? We’re just starting the fun after all,” Icy crooned, “ Ice Bracelet!

 

A ring of ice shot out from the pale witch’s hands, blocking Midoriya’s path of escape. It curled in towards him, forcing the teen to jump out of the circle before he could be encased in another frigid prison. He had no desire to experience another second trapped in ice, feeling his body temperature slowly drop and vital organs shut down from the frigid cold.

 

“Heel of Oblivion!”

 

Darcy stamped her shoe onto the ground. Fissures began tearing the earth apart, racing straight towards Midoriya. With a shriek, he jumped away from the advancing crack to avoid falling into the unknown. But just as he thought he was safe, a spinning tornado summoned by Stormy blew him off his feet straight into the crevice. Before he could tumble headfirst into the abyss, with reflexes honed from years of dodging Kacchan’s attacks, his hand grabbed onto the edge of the crack, stopping his fall.

 

Midoriya struggled against the force of gravity to pull himself out. The witches appeared over the crevice, smirking evilly.

 

“There’s no escape, you pathetic Earth boy. Just how that stupid Faragonda allowed you into her school is beyond me,” Icy mocked, “You don’t even have powers to protect yourself!”

 

Midoriya wanted to retort that he had magic powers, otherwise how was he able to fight of Knut, the ghouls and the hunting troll? How was he able to get into Alfea? How was he able to get the job at Miriam’s bakery? But he was too busy trying not to die, and for some reason, his magic seemed to have disappeared. It was not responding to his call for help, to aid him from an untimely end.

 

“May I do the honours?” Icy asked her friends, relishing in Midoriya’s predicament.

 

“Go right ahead,” Darcy nodded, Stormy agreeing, “I can’t wait to see the mortal terror on his face in his final moments.”

 

Icy began casting an incantation, her hands starting to glow. Midoriya felt his heart seize. He was going to die tonight, wasn’t he? And no one will none the wiser, having a great time with friends while he passes on to his next life, alone and completely worthless.

 

Just a useless Deku, as Kacchan always sai-

 

 

 

...

 

No.

 

No, that wasn’t true.

 

Not anymore.

 

He remembered Bloom, Vanessa and Mike, and Stella, Musa, Flora and Tecna. They got his back when no one else was. They were his pillars of support against bleakness and hopelessness. They held him firm when everything seemed lost and gone.

 

They were there for him more than the people in his old world. His mom, All Might, Kaccha- no, that explosive bastard did not deserve that endearing nickname anymore. 

 

At the brink of death, Midoriya finally realised Bakugou for the person he was.

 

Bakugou was no hero. Heroes don’t destroy everything in their paths and laugh at others’ misery. They don’t threaten the weak just to boost their egos. They don’t tell others to end their lives over things that are out of their control. Bakugou only cares for power and glory, not the welfare of those who need help. He is a villain, that’s all that could be said about him. A heartless, soulless villain with no morals or inkling of human decency. 

 

A monster, that was what he was.

 

And that was what these three witches were. Monsters, villains, bullies. No different from Bakugou, and just as heartless. 

 

Midoriya had enough. Too long had he been beaten down by the bad in the world. Too long he had allowed these epitomes of bad and evil threaten him and those who he had come to hold dear to. Too long had he done nothing to fight back. He might not have a quirk, but he had magic now. The power of water had chosen him, and it was now time to set things right.

 

He was no longer worthless, useless, or weak.

 

He is a hero, someone who defends the helpless, protects the innocent, and saves the day.

 

Furthermore, he is…

 

...a fairy!

 

Midoriya let out a loud, earth-shaking yell, as light exploded outwards from his body.

 

“MAGIC WINX!”

 

Power surged through every nerve ending as he underwent his transformation. Globules of water washed away his shirt and vest, receding into a dual-coloured single-shoulder crop top of fiery-orange and red. His pants were swept away into a pair of low-cut shorts of the same orange. Water-blue sparkles turned his sneakers into knee-length heeled boots of fire-red, accumulated at his elbows into bright yellow elbow-guards, and swirled down from his left hip into a translucent, sparkling wrap-around skirt with a gradient yellow down to the helm over the shorts. Midoriya felt a tug on his back as more water globules coalesced into wings of inner orange and outer yellow.

 

He touched down in front of the stunned witches, swirls of water dancing around him. He snarled viciously.

 

“A-A male fairy?!” Stormy blanched.

 

“How is this possible?!” Darcy exclaimed in disbelief.

 

Icy seemed to recover first, “It doesn’t matter, he is still a fairy! He won’t last a minute against us!”

 

She released three blasts of ice towards Midoriya. He dodged all three, and threw his arm out. The swirling water shot forwards, hitting Icy and throwing her backwards.

 

“You’ll pay for this!” Darcy screeched, “ Perceptus Disorientus!

 

The surrounding area became distorted. Midoriya slammed his hands against his ears as a high-pitched ringing sound threatened to blow out his ear drums. As the noise grew worse, Midoriya racked his splitting head for a solution. It came when his wings suddenly fluttered on their own, lifting him off the ground several feet into the air. He quickly realised that the spell had no effect whatsoever in the air, allowing him to use his power to send back a blast of water that knocked Darcy off her feet, cutting off the spell.

 

Stormy avenged her friend by releasing lightning bolts towards Midoriya. He dodged, and then retaliated by surrounding the witch’s head in a sphere of water, not long enough to drown her, but enough to disorient her and send her stumbling once he cancelled the spell.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, Midoriya saw a barrel of ice hurtling towards him. He flew out of the way, as it raced straight towards the glass windows of the main hall.

 


 

Meanwhile, as the battle raged outside, Tecna turned to Flora, who was sipping a glass of fruit juice.

 

“Say, do have any idea where is Midoriya? I haven’t seen him in a while.”

 

“Me neither,” Flora shrugged, “I wonder if he is oka-”

 

She was cut off by the sound of glass shattering. Confusion gave way to panic as a chandelier was suddenly severed from its bolts, hurtling towards the partygoers in a tinkle of crystal. The crowd parted just as the fixture crashed to the floor, pieces of crystal flying in all directions.

 

Tecna started, “What the…?”

 

A barrage of purple orbs smashed through more glass panes, exploding against the ceiling and the tops of the pillars, raining down bits of concrete and dust as the hall shook. Screams and shouts were echoing as pandemonium erupted, escalated by crackling bolts of magenta lightning. Amidst the chaos, Faragonda got up onto the stage and released a loud blast from her hands.

 

“Everyone! Calm down! Do not panic!”

 

Frantic eyes turned towards her.

 

“The staff and I will be investigating this sudden attack. Everyone, stay inside for your safety!”

 

Faragonda and the Alfea staff hurried for the doors. Flora and Tecna barely had a chance to turn to one another when Bloom, Musa and Stella rushed up to them. 

 

“What’s going on?” Musa asked, “Are we being invaded?”

 

“I’m not sure,” Tecna replied, “But I thought that lightning looked familiar…”

 

Right after that, a blast of ice shot through one of the broken window-panes, spreading across the ceiling.

 

“It’s the Trix!” Bloom realised.

 

“So they’re taking out their saltiness by attacking our school?” Stella huffed, “This is just getting towards ridiculous levels of petty!”

 

Musa wasn’t so sure, “I don’t think so. I just saw something flying about through the windows. I think the witches are battling someone.”

 

At that moment, Bloom stiffened. Her eyes became slightly glassy.

 

“Bloom?” Flora turned to her concernedly.

 

Without so much as a word, the redhead turned on her heel and dashed for the doors.

 

“Bloom! Where are you going?!”

 

She ignored Flora’s calls.

 

“C’mon girls, we need to follow her!” said Stella.

 

The group rushed out after their companion. Watching them go, Rykios ignored the girl attempting to talk to him out of fear, choosing to hurry after them. This in turn prompted Sky and Brandon to follow their dark-skinned comrade out the door.

 


 

Midoriya blasted the three witches with a rushing wave of water, throwing them back. 

 

Icy wiped the water off her face, “Alright, I’ve have had it with this fucking fairy! How would like this?!”

 

Shards of ice raced towards Midoriya, a few grazing his skin, but otherwise leaving him unharmed as he dodged. The rest embedded themselves in the windows behind him. Muffled screams could be heard from within the hall. 

 

Ice Coffin!

 

Still reeling from the shards, Midoriya was unable to dodge as a glacier of ice swirled around him, trapping him in a frigid prison. 

 

The witches smirked.

 

“Not so powerful now, aren’t you?” Icy mocked.

 

She spoke too soon. Loud cracking noises echoed as fissures began tearing apart the glacier with immense force. There was a loud boom as the glacier ruptured and exploded outwards, followed by the haunting trill of a phoenix as water splashed in all directions. Midoriya emerged from the frigid cold, still airborne, breaths visible with each puff, teeth bared in a growl so vicious it made him look absolutely bloodthirsty .

 

“You have royally pissed me off.”

 

With righteous fury blinding him, Midoriya threw out his hands, clenched them into fists so tightly his knuckles turned white, and pulled.

 

Darcy suddenly screamed, her legs giving out and sending her crumpling to the ground, writhing in agony. Icy and Stormy watched in disbelief and horror as red streaks began to appear over her arms, shoulders, neck, and face. Blood seeped from every orifice possible - ears, eyes, nose and mouth - and levitated towards Midoriya, swirling around him. The harder he pulled, more blood flowed. Some of the red streaks appeared to rupture as well, red spreading in splotches throughout Darcy’s skin. 

 

While he didn’t look like it with his expression contorted with rage, Midoriya absolutely loved the sound of Darcy’s screams in her torture, like macabre music to his ears. He relished in the excruciating pain she was forced to undergo, and it fuelled his desire for more. She was not the only one. Perhaps he should try to pull the blood out from Icy and Stormy as well? They also hurt him and his friends, and they were villains too. 

 

Shouldn’t they deserve to be punished as well?

 

Midoriya was just about to extend his pull to the other two witches, when an unexpected voice interrupted his concentration.

 

“What is going on here?!”

 

His concentration broken, Midoriya was snapped out of his wrath-induced blindness. The pull was released, and the blood swirling around him fell over his body and ground in a splash of crimson. Darcy went completely still, the only sign that she was still alive was her groans and her laboured breathing. 

 

“Fuck, it’s Faragonda!” Stormy cursed.

 

Icy grabbed her bleeding friend, and snapped her fingers. The three witches were enveloped in a ice-blue light.

 

“Hold it right there!” the advancing headmistress fired an orb of light towards the fleeing trio, but ultimately missed when the witches disappeared before the orb could make contact with them.

 

Midoriya blinked, looking down at his blood-stained hands blankly. He barely registered touching back down onto the ground.

 

‘What...just happened?’

 

He felt someone approach him from behind.

 

“Who are you?”

 

Midoriya turned around, coming face-to-face with his headmistress.

 

Faragonda started, as did the rest of the staff. 

 

“Oh my good heavens…”

 

“Midoriya!”

 

He turned to the call. Bloom skidded to a halt before him, followed by the rest of the girls and the three specialists.

 

“Oh my god, you are covered in blood! Are you hurt? Is everything okay?” Bloom looked almost hysterical with worry.

 

“I-I’m fine, Bloom-san,” Midoriya found his tongue.

 

“Holy fuck Midoriya,” Stella was mind-blown, “Your…”

 

“Yeah, I grew my wings,” Midoriya also sounded like he didn’t quite believe it himself, "I managed to unlock my fairy form!"

 

“You look really cool!” Musa gave a thumbs-up.

 

“Thanks.”

 

As the group gushed in awe over his wings, Faragonda came forward, “Midoriya, please tell me everything that happened.”

 

The green-haired teen explained how he had rushed to the bathroom because he wasn’t feeling too good, only to find himself outside of the castle with no explicable explanation on how he got there when he was done. 

 

“Then those three witches from Cloud Tower who attacked us in Magix accosted me. They very nearly finished me off when my powers suddenly went supernova. My wings sprouted, and I was able to fight back.”

 

“Why are you covered in blood, lad?” asked Professor Wizgiz.

 

“I...don’t know, Professor Wizgiz,” Midoriya admitted, scratching his cheek, “I remember getting trapped by Icy’s - one of the witches, by the way - ice. It was so cold, but all I could feel was white-hot anger coursing through my body, my vision completely red. I managed to break out of the ice, and then pulled on something inside of me. I heard screams, and the smell of iron and copper in the air. My vision only returned when Ms. Faragonda’s voice snapped me out of it. I saw one of the witches - Darcy was her name, I think - had blood pouring profusely down her body, how and why I don’t know.”

 

The staff looked at one another uncertainly, not sure what to make of it.

 

“We have a lot to discuss and think about tomorrow, and I have a pen a stern letter to Headmistress Griffin about her students’ behaviour,” Faragonda finally said, “But for now, I think we should relieve the stress of tonight’s events by returning to the party and enjoying ourselves for the remainder of the night.”

 

She waved her hand at Midoriya, a flurry of sparkling lights removing the blood and returning him into his party attire. As the headmistress and the staff turned back towards the castle, the girls surrounded the green-haired teen.

 

“Midoriya, you have got to tell us what was it like single-handedly fighting those witches!” Stella gushed.

 

“Actually...I wasn’t thinking that much when I got my wings,” Midoriya replied, “You see, I…”

 

The group made their way back towards the hall, talking as they went. They paid zero attention to the three specialists watching them go.

 

Sky whistled, “Man, I knew Midoriya was someone special, but I didn’t expect this!”

 

“Makes you wonder just what other secrets he’s got hidden away,” Brandon remarked.

 

Rykios had to agree with the blonde. His first thought on hearing that there was an altercation happening outside of the hall was that Midoriya was in trouble. He didn’t hesitate to rush out to aid the boy, only to realise that not only was his intended help unneeded, Midoriya was able to trounce his attackers with such ferocity and viciousness that it made him unnerved just looking at him. He certainly didn’t pity the witches being the victims of the smaller boy’s wrath. 

 

Furthermore, Midoriya was a fairy! As far as Rykios knew, fairies were entirely female. But Midoriya threw that notion to the wind, and made such an impressive showing that Rykios couldn’t care less for that fact. 

 

Plus, seeing him covered in blood had a strangely appealing effect on his heart, which was pumping a bit too fast for just an observation.

 

If anything, his goal of getting to know Midoriya just got further cemented and reinforced. As Rykios turned on his heel to return to the party, he made sure to locate the green-haired fairy again.

 


 

Back in Cloud Tower, Icy and Stormy returned to their dorm filled with bitter rage.

 

“Serious blood haemorrhaging, any longer and Darcy would have been dead!” Stormy screamed the words the school healer diagnosed her friend with, “I am going to kill that son of a bitch!”

 

“Not now,” Icy reminded, trying not to lose her already-thinning cool, “We’re already on thin fucking ice over what that twerp did to Darcy. We can’t do anything now without tipping Griffin off that we failed. But I promise you, Stormy,” she took out the clam-shaped box, “now that we have the ring of Solaria, not even that fucker will be able to hold out against our might!”

 

Her friend’s promise made Stormy feel a little better, as she sat down onto her bed.

 

Icy opened the box, and took out what appeared to be one of the enchanting eggs they had attempted to curse earlier in the night. Immediately, a sense of confusion settled between the two witches.

 

“Why in the ever-loving fuck would Stella keep the ring in this?” Icy asked, giving the egg a vigorous shake.

 

Something thumped about inside the egg, which after more shaking, began to glow. Before either one of the witches could react, it exploded, filling the room with greenish-brown, foul-smelling smoke. There was much coughing and spluttering to go around, before the smoke cleared and they could breathe again.

 

“Oh fucking hell, I’m gonna puke!” Stormy retched.

 

Icy opened her eyes, zoning in on the object in her hand. Instead of the coveted ring, it was a purple-coloured duckling, staring unblinkingly at her.

 

“W-What the…?”

 

The duckling’s eyes widened, and to Icy’s revulsion, leapt towards her, snuggling against her cheek like an affectionate child.

 

“Mommy!”

 

“M-Mommy?!” the pale witch spluttered.

 

“I love Mommy!” the duckling quacked, as it began kissing her cheek.

 

Realising that they had failed once more, Icy’s rising temper exploded.

 

“AAAARGHHH!!!! I HATE THEM! I HATE THEM! CURSE THEM ALL TO HELL!!!”

 


 

Meanwhile, at Alfea, Midoriya was once again by the food and drinks table, filling his stomach after all the energy he spent battling the witches while running on an empty tank. Now that the adrenaline had worn off, hunger now hit him like a ravenous beast. 

 

He was just snacking on a cupcake when he felt someone tap his shoulder.

 

“Midoriya.”

 

He turned around, and met face-to-chest with Rykios.

 

Again, Midoriya didn’t scream.

 

He did almost drop his cupcake though.

 

“O-Oh, hey Rykios-san. I-Is there something wrong?”

 

Again, the dark-skinned specialist replied by looking externally-stony. Though this time, his eyes did dart to the side a bit. He offered his hand.

 

“Dance with me?”

 

Midoriya blinked. Sure, his outright fear of Rykios was somewhat dulled this time round, but he was still nervous and uncertain in the young man’s presence. Even if he had a better chance of getting out of this interaction relatively unscathed, Midoriya still didn’t expect it to turn out so normal. Something as synonymous with a party as dancing.

 

Come to think of it, and bear in mind that he might just be imagining it, but Rykios had a...pleading look in his eyes? Like he was hoping that he would agree to his request?

 

Midoriya considered this. Rykios hadn’t attacked or antagonised him yet, so maybe he was being sincere? Perhaps he could give the specialist a chance?

 

 

 

Well, if things were to go south, he had magic powers that were fully awakened. And there was nothing wrong with using his powers as self-defense against an attack.

 

Midoriya swallowed the rest of his cupcake, “O-Okay.” He took Rykios’ hand, inwardly noting just how much bigger it is compared to his own hand.

 

The specialist led his partner to the dance floor, where many other pairs were dancing to a slow-paced, soulful love song that was sung by Musa on the stage. Midoriya didn’t know the lyrics, or the meaning behind them, but the atmosphere had been set.

 

“I’m no good at dancing, just so you know.”

 

Rykios was unperturbed, merely placing his other hand on Midoriya’s hip, “It’s okay. I’ll lead.”

 

Slowly, they swayed, turned and spun with the music. Midoriya felt surreal, never having danced with someone before until now, let alone someone whom he was still uncomfortable with. But Rykios was gentle, treating him as if he was made of the finest glass. Midoriya felt his heartbeat quicken, there was just something really personal about this dance. And he found that he was actually enjoying the experience.

 

Strangely, there seemed to be a warmth radiating from Rykios, something that was absent from previous interactions. Was the specialist enjoying the moment as well? Was he happy that Midoriya agreed to dance with him?

 

Rykios seemed to be so. On a few occasions when Midoriya looked up to his partner’s face, the specialist’s eyes were closed, as if he was trying to preserve this moment into his memory forever. And when the song finally came to an end, instead of releasing him completely, his touch lingered.

 

“Come with me.”

 

Midoriya flinched. The defensive barriers started to rise again at the implications of what was just said by the dark-skinned specialist. 

 

“Please?”

 

The green-haired teen did a second take. There was no malice or aggression in Rykios’ eyes or body language, just innocent imploring. Midoriya steeled himself, if anything, he’ll use his powers as self-defense.

 

“Alright.”

 


 

Midoriya found himself outside the school with Rykios near the exact same spot where he had battled against the three witches. He could still see miniscule pieces of ice melting into the ground, and the grass was still wet from the water conjured during the battle, glistening under the moonlight. 

 

It didn’t explain they were outside though.

 

“Why are we out here?”

 

Rykios replied by producing one of the enchanted eggs from earlier.

 

“For you.”

 

Midoriya blinked. He slowly reached forward and took the egg.

 

“Open it.”

 

The teen did as instructed. The flurry of glowing butterflies burst into existence, but instead of flying upwards to the sky and out of sight, the butterflies fluttered around Midoriya, draws breaths of awe from the teen.

 

“They’re really beautiful…”

 

Rykios hummed.

 

Midoriya turned to the specialist, “But why did you save one for me?”

 

“I wanted your night to end on a good note,” Rykios replied, “You went through a lot, facing those witches. I wanted you to have at least one happy memory.”

 

Midoriya felt a fuzzy warmth fill his heart, temporarily pushing his default discomfort towards Rykios to the back-burner.

 

“That’s really sweet. Thank you Rykios-san.”

 

Midoriya was treated to an unexpected sight. The corners of Rykios’ lips rose upwards minutely into a small grin.

 

“You’re most welcome, Midoriya.”

 

It was a tender moment shared between the two males, only to be broken by someone calling out towards them. At the same time, the butterflies began fluttering up towards the night sky, one at a time.

 

“Rykios! We’re leaving! It’s time to go!”

 

The grin disappeared from the specialist’s lips, as he flashed a thumbs-up. He turned back to Midoriya, “I have to go. You take care, okay?”

 

Midoriya so desperately wished that he could see that grin again, “I will. Take care, Rykios-san.”

 

The dark-skinned specialist nodded in affirmative. He then jogged back towards the castle, joining his schoolmates in their departure. Midoriya watched him go, sighing as the warm, fuzzy feeling faded away with the light from the butterflies. However, he quickly realised that unlike the rest of its companions, one single butterfly hadn’t fluttered away into the night. The glowing insect circled around his head, occasionally hovering in front of his eyes as if inspecting him out of curiosity. Midoriya found it really endearing for reasons unneeded.

 

After a few minutes, the lone butterfly circled his head one last time, before fluttering upwards to the heavens. At the same time, Midoriya heard engines whirring to life. He watched the two Red Fountain aircraft rise over Alfea, before shooting off into the distance and disappearing, just like the butterfly.

 

Midoriya sighed, the night had come to an end. But so much had happened that he did not expect, and he was now an official fairy. Despite still being rather hungry, he had never felt so alive until now, with complete power coursing through his veins and wings ready to sprout from his back.

 

His hope for better progress in subsequent lessons has also been renewed, as with the hope that things overall would continue moving in this upward trend. Furthermore, he had overcome a traumatic pothole in his life, and witnessed a softer side to someone whom he feared would be no different from Bakugou.

 

Speaking of which, Midoriya knew that it will take a while to completely heal (if ever) from Bakugou and his old life (and overcome his indirect fear of Rykios). But he felt that he had taken the first step tonight, and he would continue taking steps towards the end goal.

 

Yeah, Midoriya thought to himself, that could work. 

 

Thus, it was with a contented smile, and a slight spring in his step, that Midoriya returned back to Alfea for a good night’s rest. He needed to be on full tank for tomorrow.

 


To Be Continued.






Chapter Text

Midoriya felt distinctly off when he woke up the next morning after the party. There was a prominent ache spreading across his upper back, and it made moving his shoulders and upper arms almost impossible without exacerbating the pain he was already in.

 

In hindsight, he really should have expected this to happen. He sprouted his wings for the first time last night, and he flew for the first time too. His scrawny body wasn’t used to such exertion, and now he was paying the price for this oversight.

 

He heard Stella yawn as she rose to the new day, and made his grievances known.

 

“Stella-san...could you use your sceptre to put me out of my misery?”

 

“What’s wrong, Midoriya?”

 

“My upper back is in literal agony,” he groaned, “I can’t move.”

 

“Oh, we’ve all been there,” Stella sighed in relief, “Our backs always get tied into knots when our wings sprout for the first time.”

 

“Is there anything that can be done?” asked Midoriya.

 

Stella hummed, “I think Flora might have something for the pain. She should be awake by now.”

 

The blonde got out of bed and left the room, leaving Midoriya to his pain. A few minutes later, she made a triumphant return with Flora in tow.

 

“The doctor is in the house!”

 

“Where does it hurt, Midoriya?” Flora asked gently.

 

“My upper back.”

 

The tanned brunette approached his bed, “I’m going to roll you over, okay?” Midoriya grunted his assent. Flora slowly moved him onto his stomach, and peeled his sleep top up to reveal his back.

 

“I have a salve made from aloe vera infused with the essence of the humalinger flower. It’s really soothing and works really fast. It’s commonly used in Linphea for everyday sprains and aches.”

 

Flora squeezed a palmful of the gelatinous, slightly yellow salve from the bottle she brought over. Working it into her hands, she pressed her palms on Midoriya’s exposed back, who first shuddered at the cool sensation, but quickly ascended into bliss when she began massaging the affected area.

 

“Ohhhhhhh…my god….” Midoriya moaned, his eyes rolling back and drool beginning to drip from his ajar mouth. Whatever pain he was in was being washed away by the soothing cold and rubbing that pierced deep into his under-used muscles and relaxing the knotted fibres. He hadn’t been fully out of slumber when he woke, and the rapturous massage was threatening to send him back to sleep.

 

If it weren’t for Stella rapping lightly on his head.

 

“Ah ah ah, don’t go back to sleep, Midoriya. The day is about to start.”

 

He grumbled quietly.

 

Flora massaged a bit more, before pulling her hands away.

 

“There, that should keep you covered for the next eight hours.”

 

“Thanks Flora-san...you’re the best…” Midoriya muttered into his pillow.

 

Not planning on letting her roommate laze around any longer, Stella shooed Flora out of the room, and dragged Midoriya out of bed. She had to plan their outfits for the day, after all.

 


 

Flora’s salve was a god-send. The morning after breakfast was the practical lesson on flying that had been postponed due to the back-to-school dance the day before. 

 

Their teacher was a diminutive half-fairy, half-pixie being called Pachola. She began the lesson with a bit of theory on the basics of flying, touching on important aspects such as which muscle group to use to avoid strains and the ideal landing position. After that, she took the class outside to a platform overlooking the courtyard.

 

“Theory can only get you so far,” Professor Pachola spoke with a somewhat squeaky tone, “Although I’m sure most of you already have at least some experience with flying, one must never rest on their laurels on such an important skill. Constant practice is crucial, especially when flying in dangerous or less-than-ideal situations. So as part of today’s practical lesson, we are going to utilise a circuit course.”

 

At the snap of her fingers, several large metal rings appeared, hovering in the air at different heights.

 

“We’ll begin with a warm-up exercise first,” Pachola instructed, “Ms. Stella, you’re up first. I’ll call the next name as soon as she passes the first ring.”

 

Stella stepped forward, and transformed. Fluttering her wings, she took off from the platform towards the first ring. She passed it with no issue.

 

“Ms. Flora!”

 

The tanned fairy transformed and flew off the platform. The list carried on. After Musa and Tecna, Bloom went next. Granted, this was her first time properly flying, so she was a bit unsteady with her takeoff. Still, she got the hang of it after a moment collecting her bearings, and flew through the first ring. 

 

“Next, Mr. Midoriya Izuku…”

 

Midoriya would have to be completely deaf and really stupid to not notice the whispers from his classmates. He easily picked up the doubt that he was able to sprout wings in the first place, let alone fly.

 

It seemed that Faragonda didn’t tell the rest of the students the whole story last night.

 

Well...time to blow some minds eh?

 

Midoriya stepped forward, and took a breath.

 

“Magic Winx!”

 

The watching students jumped at the light bursting from his body. A moment later, Midoriya was standing determined in his fairy form. Startled gasps and frantic whispers echoed, as Midoriya stepped towards the edge of the platform. He channelled energy into his wings, making them flutter and carry him a few inches off the platform. Midoriya set his gaze on the first ring, and shot forward.

 

It was not without its problems though. The sudden shift from only being centimetres off the ground to metres where falling would mean severe injury rattled his nerves, making Midoriya falter in mid-flight. Only his reflexes saved him from falling, keeping his wings fluttering and allowing him to stay airborne. 

 

“Are you alright?” Pachola called from the platform.

 

“I’m fine!” Midoriya replied, “Just give me a second!” 

 

He took a moment to stabilise himself. He then angled his body towards the first ring, moving himself forward with the constant fluttering of his wings. He eventually passed through the ring, prompting Pachola to kick off the next student. 

 

The good thing about the rings were that they remained stationary in the air, the only difference being their positions either above or below one another. Midoriya managed to maintain a steady rhythm in his wings, angling his body in accordance to the rings. Several girls passed him throughout the obstacle course, but he pushed the self-loathing thoughts down. 

 

He reasoned with himself. Most of the students have more experience in flying than him, it was only natural that he did things slower than his peers. He needed to keep practicing though, it was clear, as he started to get a bit out of breath just as he passed the halfway mark of the course. 

 

By the time he returned to the platform, Midoriya was hunched over, sweating and panting hard.

 

“Here,” Flora offered a water bottle, “Drink up.”

 

“Thanks Flora-san,” Midoriya took it and drank it all in one go.

 

“You did great for your first time, Midoriya,” Musa said.

 

“There is room for growth though,” Tecna added, “I have several tips on how to improve your strength and stamina that we can discuss later.”

 

Midoriya nodded, still trying to slow down his breathing.

 

The last student completed the circuit course, and Pachola addressed the class, “Now that we are all warmed up, we can proceed with the actual practical. The circuit course will get progressively harder throughout the lesson, so I expect you all to remain focused.”

 

The professor snapped her fingers, and the once-stationary rings began to move, some horizontally, and others vertically.

 

“Ms. Stella, you’re up first.”

 

The blonde fairy stepped forward. Watching her go, Midoriya readied himself. He can do this, he will not fuck up here.

 


 

By the time the lesson ended, Midoriya was both knackered and aching. Despite his best efforts, there were occasions where he was caught off-guard by the rings, which moved progressively faster with each circuit. Before being dismissed, Pachola advised him to build up his strength and stamina to better react to changes in flight-patterns and to sustain flight for longer periods of time. The professor also suggested he use the school gym to begin his training as soon as possible, so as not to fall behind his peers.

 

Again, he was grateful for Tecna for her incredibly-useful tips. She even offered to be his trainer whenever he used the school gym, having worked out regularly back home in Zenith.

 

Lunch was a standard affair, if one were to discount the multitude of students approaching Midoriya and asking if it was true that he had a fairy form. Some of the more pushy ones even asked for him to transform to show them. Thankfully Faragonda stepped in before the onslaught sent Midoriya spiraling into a panic attack.

 

“Yes, everyone,” the headmistress addressed the school, “Midoriya Izuku is a full-fledged fairy, quite possibly the first male fairy in the magical dimension. Now given that, I want you all to refrain from asking him too many questions. Midoriya does not have the answers to most of them, and neither do I or any of the staff. Let me assure you all that we are researching his powers, and will release any findings as such. But for now, refrain from making him uncomfortable and treat him just like any Alfean student. Thank you.”

 

Faragonda sat back down, and the would-be hecklers slowly dispersed and returned to their tables. 

 

Midoriya sighed, “I know this was inevitable, but still…”

 

“I don’t think it’s going to stop,” Bloom remarked, “At least, not for a while anyway.”

 

Meanwhile, Stella was deep in thought, “But you know, it might be not all that bad. Sure, we’re going to get stared at and be the subject of whispers, but it just shows that we are a special bunch! That we stand out and are outliers in the crowd!”

 

“Only you can spin this situation into something that sounds positive,” Musa rolled her eyes good-naturedly as she took a spoonful of food.

 

“And since we are going to be famous throughout the campus,” Stella continued, as if she didn’t hear the light jibe, “we should come up with a name for ourselves! Like, the Stellar Six, or the Super Six, or…”

 

“Is it really necessary though?” Tecna questioned, “We aren’t exactly a club, which a name for will be much more befitting.”

 

“Does it really matter?” Flora interjected, “I think it’s a great idea. We are a group of close friends, after all. A name for the group will connect us in a much more personal, closer manner.”

 

“Precisely, Flora!” Stella agreed, “Now what about…”

 

“How about the Winx?” Bloom proposed.

 

All eyes turn towards the redhead.

 

“The Winx?” Stella repeated, “Sounds kinda plain though…”

 

“I like it,” Midoriya interjected, “It’s short, simple and sharp.”

 

“Yeah, and it’s what brought us all together,” Bloom added, “Like, if I hadn’t connected with my Winx, as Ms. Faragonda told us on the first day, I wouldn’t have met Midoriya, or any of you girls.”

 

“Hmm, you do have a point there, Bloom,” Tecna rubbed her chin.

 

“Well, for all those in favour of calling ourselves the Winx, raise your hand,” Musa pronounced. 

 

Everyone except for Stella raised their hands, though the blonde did raise her hand too after a moment of thought.

 

“The notion has passed,” Musa tapped her bowl with her spoon, “From this day forth, we shall be known as the Winx!”

 

The newly-christened group all high-fived one another, before returning to other pressing topics up for discussion. 

 


 

The week passed relatively quickly once things fell into a routine. To Midoriya’s relief, now that he had unlocked his fairy form, practical classes involving magic came more smoothly for him. Metamorphosis went by with much more success - he was able to change his hair colour to a bright green with golden stripes after a few tries, and on a separate attempt, made it grow longer until it covered half his face in an emo-like style. 

 

Other classes went by in a similar fashion, more or less. Magical Defense started off a bit wobbly for Midoriya, since it was a new class, but he eventually achieved the aim of the lesson by being able to conjure a shield to protect himself from enemy spellfire. He and the girls also had their first practical Potions lesson that week. It was a bit like modern chemistry, but with cauldrons, plant ingredients and various liquids infused with magic. Partnered up with Flora, Midoriya was able to produce an acceptable sample at the end of the lesson, allowing him to go to bed satisfied with himself on a productive day.

 

Then came Friday, and that day’s lesson took a slightly different turn than previous ones. 

 

At breakfast, Faragonda announced that the first-year lessons for the day were cancelled. Everyone but the Winx cheered, since Midoriya told them that the headmistress wasn’t finished yet. 

 

“Instead, the first-years will be having an outdoor activity by the lake between Alfea and Cloud Tower,” Faragonda continued, “Since you will be outside for most of the day, appropriate clothing has been delivered to your dormitories for you to change into. Professor Palladium will be your teacher-in-charge, and he will meet you at the lake itself. I wish you all the best, and make sure to eat your fill.”

 

The headmistress sat down again. Conversation returned to the first-year table, the Winx joining in too.

 

“An outdoor activity?” Musa hummed, taking a bite out of buttered toast.

 

“I wonder what we’re going to do?” Midoriya wondered as he sipped his tea.

 

“I just hope it won’t be too hot,” Stella piped in.

 

“Considering it’s just past summer, it might still be,” Tecna replied.

 

The blonde groaned.

 

Once breakfast had concluded, the Winx returned to their dormitories as instructed. On each of their beds, were the promised clothing sets for the outdoor activity. Midoriya inwardly thought it resembled the stereotypical safari getup - khaki top with pockets and a matching pair of shorts with more pockets, sturdy boots, and wide-brimmed hats. At least the clothes were wearable, as Stella put it when she paraded herself in front of the mirror.

 

The Winx trooped down the courtyard where the other first-years were gathered. Griselda did a headcount to ensure everyone was present, and sent them off with a warning to maintain discipline. A short time later, the first-years arrived at a clearing with a muscular and elf-eared professor with long, light-orange hair who was sneezing periodically, the sun bearing down on everyone coupled with the humid, muggy atmosphere courtesy of the lake. All in all, not exactly the most pleasant feeling.

 

“Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Black Mud Swamp. I am - ” the professor sneezed violently, “ - Professor Palladium. Please excuse the sneezes, I have the unfortunate luck to be allergic to the pollen from the Igglethrod flower, which grows in abundance here during this time of the year. But anyway, as many of you rightfully are thinking, I don’t usually oversee such outdoor activities. I instead teach Magical Reality, a class that will begin in a week or so in your first year. As it is, this activity is to replace the now-defunct Floral Magic class, but Ms. Faragonda believes we can all still learn and benefit from the core learning points of said class today.”

 

A first-year with a nasally voice suddenly broke in quite rudely, “I’m in the wrong class, I’m from an urban realm.”

 

“That may be so, Ms. Dahlia, but a well-rounded education is a must in Alfea,” Palladium was unfazed, as various other first-years began laughing.

 

“Weak,” Musa confided to Midoriya.

 

“And a keekbug just bit me!” Dahlia whined, rolling up her shorts hem to reveal an ugly red bite mark on her upper thigh.

 

Again, Palladium was unfazed, even unimpressed, “Well we are in a swamp, as you should know, Ms. Dahlia. Are you allergic to keekbugs? No? Then perhaps you should do some growing up and learn not to whine over such insignificant matters.”

 

“Ouch, that burn,” Stella whispered to Bloom.

 

“Double weak,” Midoriya confided back to Musa, who snorted.

 

“Back to the activity at hand,” Palladium continued, ignoring a sulking Dahlia, “Your main objective today is to test your natural ability to listen to the ever-present voice of nature. Each group, five to six students each, must navigate their way through Black Mud Swamp and find the Crystal Clearing. You have until the end of the day to get there, but here is the catch, you will not be permitted to use any magic or your powers.”

 

Midoriya could see some of his classmates looking quite aghast at that rule. 

 

“Only the voice of nature will be your guide, and do remember that it is not enough to just hear the voice, you must also listen to it’s advice. Now that is all from me, I’ll be waiting for you all at the Crystal Clearing.”

 

“But Professor - ” Dahlia started but Palladium disappeared in a burst of sparkles.

 

Now on their own, the students milled about, forming their groups as instructed. The Winx broke away from the rest of the class. 

 

“I guess there’s no other reason to just hang around here,” said Flora after a moment, “Let’s start looking.”

 

The Winx headed into the swamp, cutting and stepping through the thick vegetation. After several minutes, they encountered their first obstacle - a huge, muddy and slime-filled pond that had a decidedly-unpleasant odour.

 

“Oh gross!” Stella exclaimed, “There is no way I’m stepping into that!”

 

“We don’t have a choice,” Midoriya replied, “It’s the only way forward.”

 

Faced with that prospect, the group slowly stepped into the disgusting water. Even Stella did too after a moment’s hesitation. 

 

It felt as horrible as it looked - thick and slimy.

 

“Eww gross! I can’t stand this - Oh God! Something’s crawling up my leg!” Stella shrieked, flailing about to remove whatever it was.

 

Musa couldn’t resist a joke, “What happened to ‘ mud does such wonders for my complexion’ ?”

 

Everyone sans Stella laughed, “I’ll have you know that the mud I use is far different from this disgusting mess!”

 

Tecna observed the water, which had bubbles growing and shrinking rapidly over the surface, “You know, these bubbles might indicate that we are standing on the back of a subterranean sludge slug. They are inherently disgusting and not at all friendly. But don’t worry, a standby spell is all that’s needed to drive them off.”

 

She raised her hands, but Bloom quickly stopped her, “No don’t! Remember what Professor Palladium said? No magic. We can only listen to nature, and use our senses.”

 

Everyone took a big sniff together, and reeled at the horrible stench.

 

“Smells like mouldy socks, or - ” Stella remarked, only to get interrupted by Musa.

 

“I think it’s some kind of gas! We need to get out of here!”

 

The Winx heeded the warning and waded as fast as they could to the opposite bank. Clambering out of the pond, they took refuge behind a fallen log.

 

“Well, what is it then?” asked Bloom.

 

Finding a pebble nearby, Midoriya picked it up and threw it into one of the bubbles in the pond. It burst, and a bluish-gray gas erupted into the air.

 

“Goodness, it’s Medusa gas,” Flora gasped, “I’ve read that it’s extremely dangerous, for the slightest contact would have turned us into stone.”

 

They watched as more bubbles burst, releasing the gas into the atmosphere. One popped near a tree whose roots were partially dipped into the water. The gas turned the roots into granite, racing up the entire length of the tree until the entire plant was petrified down to the very leaves hanging on the branches.

 

“I guess my information was incorrect…” Tecna sounded disappointed.

 

“It’s okay, Tecna,” Bloom comforted her, “We just need to be careful.”

 

Stella eyed the petrified tree, “Talk about statuesque,” to the laughter of everyone.

 


 

Meanwhile, inside one of the dormitories at Cloud Tower, the Trix appeared in their shared room, looking a bit worse for the wear.

 

“Thank the ever-loving fuck we got out of there,” Stormy sat down on her bed loudly, “ Zarathustra’s classes are a bitch to sit through.”

 

“Where is that stupid ogre?” Darcy looked about irritatedly, “His text message said that he’ll be here, and I’m not risking detention just for him to not actually be here.”

 

Darcy’s wardrobe suddenly shook, and a voice came from within, “I’m in here! Can you let me out? My foot is asleep and there’s an itch I can’t reach.”

 

“Let him out,” Icy rolled her eyes.

 

The brunette witch sighed, stepping over to her wardrobe languidly. She threw the doors open, and stepped out of the way as Knut tumbled out and landed on the floor with a loud thud. 

 

The smell that followed almost made Darcy want to retch, “Oh God, he reeks!”

 

“Sorry, there’s no ventilation in there…” the ogre sounded sheepish, as he picked himself up.

 

“Why the fuck must we keep him in there?” Darcy grumbled, “He’s stinking up my wardrobe.”

 

“Well we have to hide him someplace large enough,” Stormy pointed out, “You know how strict Cloud Tower is with unauthorised pets.”

 

“But if he doesn’t do something about his O.B.O, the entire magical dimension will know he is here,” Darcy shot back.

 

“Just do us all a favour, Knut, and find some way to clean yourself regular so we don’t have to worry about - ” Icy cut herself off when the annoying duckling that somehow stuck itself to her after their botched sabotage of Alfea’s party bounded up to her leg, still quacking ‘mommy’. “Ugh...why me?” Icy groaned, grabbing the infernal bird by its neck.

 

“Hey, look on the bright side, at least ducks don’t smell,” Darcy tried to reason.

 

Icy glared at her, but continued either way as she threw the duck to the wall, “We have to be careful, we break enough rules as it is already, from skipping classes, sneaking out and breaking into Alfea…”

 

“But think about it,” Stormy interjected, “We’re doing this for the greater evil.”

 

“True,” Icy agreed, turning her attention to Knut, “Now what is it, you useless lump? What’s so important that you couldn’t tell us in a text?”

 

The ogre stuttered, “W-Well, I was snooping around Red Fountain as you instructed me to do, your evilness. I was hiding in a...wait...where did I hide again?”

 

“Knut, to the point?” Darcy snapped.

 

“Oh right, sorry…” Knut continued, “I was hiding and I overheard someone say that a team of specialists are bringing the Hunting Troll to Magix today, and that they are going to hand it over to the authorities.”

 

“And why exactly should we care about that stupid troll?” Icy glared, “This better not be your only piece of news, before I - ”

 

“Hold on,” Stormy interrupted, “What if they interrogate him with a mind-reading spell? Even though the troll has a brain the size of a pea, they’ll work out that it was us to ordered the attack.”

 

“Point taken,” Icy nodded, “In that case, we’ll just need to stage a little prison break, free the troll, and get rid of the useless shit permanently.”

 


 

Over the Black Mud Swamp, a Red Fountain aircraft was slicing through the air at top speed, navigated by a familiar team of five specialists on their first solo mission. The one at the helm whooped as he sent the aircraft into multiple flips at one go.

 

“Riven, can’t you maintain a normal flight path without the flips?” Brandon sounded a little queasy.

 

“You shouldn’t have eaten right before the flight then,” the maroon redhead shot back.

 

“Can someone go check on the troll?” Sky cut in before another argument could take place.

 

“I’m on it, Sky!” Timmy stood up and went to the back of the aircraft where the troll was held in a cell with an electrical field barrier keeping it in place.

 

Rykios, for his part, remained silent, checking the statistics to ensure normal flying conditions.

 

Brandon peered out the window, “Isn’t that the Black Mud Swamp we’re flying over? Are you sure we’re going in the right direction?”

 

“Yep, Magix is just north from here,” Sky nodded from a map he was holding.

 

“Something doesn’t feel right about this…” the blonde muttered.

 

“Relax, will you?” Riven cut in, “As it’s plainly clear, I have everything under control. Just trust the captain.”

 

“Captain?” Sky raised an eyebrow.

 

Riven ignored him, “Now let’s see how fast this baby can go.”

 

The aircraft sped up, the rush of the wind making some trees below swing hard. At the same time, Timmy returned to the cockpit.

 

“So how’s the big boy doing back there?”

 

“He’s a little cranky but mostly - ”

 

Timmy was cut off when something suddenly hit the aircraft, shaking it violently. He almost lost his footing had it not from him grabbing Riven’s seat.

 

“K-Keep your eye on the sky, Riven!” 

 

“What in the ever-loving fuck was that?!” Brandon shouted as the statistics began going out of whack. Rykios was running the monitors furiously to keep the aircraft stabilised.

 

“I’m not sure but it definitely came from the outside,” Sky replied, knowing from countless trial runs and simulations back at Red Fountain that this was not normal turbulence.

 

“Don’t be an idiot,” Riven mocked, “If you knew how this thing works, you’d know that there is nothing on the sensors - ”

 

A second, much stronger hit blasted the aircraft and sent it spinning out of control. With the hit damaging one of the wings, the aircraft lost altitude rapidly. From his training, Riven pulled the steering wheel in a last-ditch attempt to stabilise the craft but was ultimately unsuccessful. The ground was getting closer and closer with each passing second, the only thing left to do was attempt a smooth emergency landing. But even with everyone bracing for the impact, that hope was going to be a slim one.

 


 

Meanwhile, the Winx had stopped from their trekking to rest a bit. Flora went to observe a flowering plant nearby, while the rest took the moment to clean themselves up or take shelter from the progressively-hotter sun, the humid temperatures making everyone quite dazed.

 

Midoriya was just teetering on the edge of dropping into a snooze when a great mechanical roar snapped him and the girls out of their reveries. He looked up just in time to see the Red Fountain aircraft soar overhead, hurtling towards the ground at alarming speeds with black smoke billowing out of its damaged wing. Before anyone could a word in, there was a loud crash as the aircraft made contact with the swamp.

 

“Fuck! It’s a Red Fountain ship!” Bloom cursed.

 

The Winx was on their feet immediately and ran as fast as they could through the swamp and thick vegetation to reach the crash site. Bursting into a clearing, they were greeted by the sight of the aircraft half-submerged in the swamp, smoke rising out of it, but otherwise mostly intact. Midoriya recognised the people emerging from the downed aircraft by a hole in the side. (He had to consciously push down the instinctual nervous feeling when he saw Rykios helping Timmy out of the craft. Come on, think about the end of the back-to-school party, Midoriya.)

 

“Look who it is!” Stella couldn’t help but smile.

 

“Is everyone okay?” asked Flora worriedly.

 

“We saw your ship crash,” Tecna said.

 

Rubbing a hand through his maroon locks, Riven grunted, “It wasn’t a plane crash, it was more of an emergency landing.” He looked off to the side, scowling. Musa’s heart fluttered from the admittedly-smouldering look. Biting her lip, she hid her blush and avoided eye-contact to not get caught staring.

 

“What happened? Pilot’s Ed gone out of whack?” Stella joked, pointing to the wreckage.

 

“Actually, we were transporting a - ” Sky replied, but cut himself off with a gasp when he noticed a much larger hole further along the aircraft.

 

“What Sky is saying is...um...we’re transporting a very important package to an...uh...undisclosed location…” Brandon tried to cover for his brunette friend, but Sky eventually blew the entire thing right in the open when he noticed footprints leading away from the crash site further into the swamp.

 

“The troll got away!”

 

The Winx startled at that fact, particularly Stella, Bloom and Midoriya.

 

“You lot let a troll escape?” Tecna asked incredulously.

 

“Of fucking course not!” Riven snapped, “The aircraft malfunctioned, it was just an unfortunate accident.”

 

“It was probably mechanical failure,” Timmy tried to reason, though Bloom could see that even he was unsure about it.

 

“But it’s cool,” Riven attempted to downplay the seriousness of the situation, “we have the troll in adle shackles.”

 

“Those things act as tranquilisers,” Brandon explained, “It’s not going to get real far from here.”

 

Something silvery-blue caught Midoriya’s eye, half-buried in the swampy ground. Stepping over, he pulled it out. To his discomfort, it resembled a pair of shackles.

 

“Um...are these the shackles?”

 

He showed it to the specialists, who all groaned as one.

 

“Oh fucking hell, the shackles came loose!” Sky bemoaned.

 

“And you had one job…” Musa sighed, earning herself a glare from Riven.

 

Brandon tried to defuse the tension growing, “So what are you guys doing out here anyway?”

 

“We’re in the middle of a field exercise for nature class,” Bloom explained.

 

“So just get back to your exercise fairies, and leave this problem to the specialists,” Riven replied cockily.

 

“When are the specialists going to get here then? I don’t see them anywhere,” Stella snarked.

 

“Oh shit, that burn!” Musa laughed, Midoriya breaking out in a chuckle himself.

 

Riven’s eyes narrowed, lips twisting into a growl. He stormed up to an unrepentant Stella, “Listen here you privileged princess - ”

 

Sky intervened before things turned ugly, “What Riven means to say is that you guys should not worry about the troll and focus on your assignment. We’ll handle it from here.”

 

Riven huffed, “I can tell her to fuck off myself.”

 

“But what if the other students from our class encounter the troll?” Tecna pointed out worriedly.

 

“Just stay the fuck out of our way so that we can handle the bastard, okay?!” Riven snarled, before turning away from the Winx, “C’mon guys, we’re wasting enough time here as it is.”

 

The maroon redhead stalked off in the direction of the footprints. Sky, Brandon and Timmy gave the group apologetic looks before hurrying after Riven. Rykios took it to another level by muttering a quiet ‘sorry’ to Midoriya, turning on his heel to join his teammates right after.

 

Stella scoffed, “I can’t believe the nerve of that fucker!” Musa nodded in assent.

 

Bloom stared off towards the direction the specialists had just gone, a little uncertain, “Maybe we should follow them, I’m not comfortable with them just going off by themselves.”

 

“After that lousy attitude from that dickhead?” Stella asked as if the redhead was crazy.

 

“Yeah, he was really rude,” Flora agreed, “We should just focus on our assignment, and let him deal with it.”

 

Meanwhile, Tecna nudged Midoriya, “Let’s go check out the ship.”

 

Nodding, he joined her in moving towards the downed aircraft.

 

“I’m with Flora on this,” Stella continued, “If Riven wants to be torn to shreds and eaten by the troll or whatever is out there, then I’d say bon appetit , right?”

 

Musa nodded, while Flora flinched at how her words were twisted, “T-That’s not how I meant it…”

 

A bit to the side, Tecna and Midoriya surveyed the aircraft.

 

“Do you see that?” she asked him, “Are you thinking what I am thinking?”

 

“I believe so, Tecna-san.”

 

Tecna turned to the others, “Hey guys, come check this out.”

 

“What’s the matter, Tecna?” Bloom asked.

 

The magenta-haired girl pointed to the smoking hole along the side of the ship, “See that hole over there? The patterns of the charred markings surrounding the perimetre indicate that the hole was created by a blast or a projectile from outside the aircraft while it was still airborne.”

 

“So you’re saying something shot the ship down deliberately?” Musa clarified.

 

“That’s our deduction,” Tecna nodded, “Also, I think it’s more likely to be a someone than a something.”

 

Everyone exchanged concerned glances.

 

“I think we should warn the guys about the troll,” Bloom reiterated her proposal from earlier.

 

“Or we can look for it ourselves,” Stella interjected, “I mean, if my intuition is correct, and bearing in mind that Midoriya was able to take on the troll with nothing but a cleaver when it first attacked us, we should be able to take it on without any help from them .”

 

The notion was agreed upon with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Musa looked especially reluctant, saying as they followed the troll footprints, “If I ever lose my mental capabilities and starting spouting about how we should hang out in a swamp, I want you guys to knock me out and commit me to the nearest loony bin.”

 

The other girls chuckled. Midoriya let a small smile grace his lips.

 

They continued on for a few moments, then Bloom noticed something odd.

 

“Am I seeing things? Do you guys also see something strange about the footprints?”

 

“That they are a size thirty?” Stella joked, “The poor thing, it must be hell for him when shopping for shoes.”

 

“What about them?” Flora asked, ignoring the blonde.

 

“They get less deep as they go along,” Bloom pointed out.

 

“And they completely vanish just up ahead,” Midoriya added.

 

“It’s like as if the troll had found a way to leva-walk or something to throw us off its trail,” Musa remarked.

 

“So...the troll cast a spell on itself?” Flora asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Except that trolls can’t use magic,” Tecna pointed out.

 

“That means someone else must have cast the spell,” Bloom surmised, “Which means we’re not alone in the swamp.”

 

The Winx instinctually huddled together, their eyes scanning the surroundings for any sign of the culprit. A few tense moments passed, their senses heightened to scope out any sudden movements or noises outside of the natural sounds of the swamp. Ultimately though, nothing out of the ordinary occurred, allowing a relaxation in their stance.

 

“How are we going to find the troll without any footprints to follow?” asked Midoriya.

 

“Yeah, we can’t just call out ‘here troll, here troll’ without scaring it away or tipping off whoever enabled it to escape,” Musa added.

 

Flora thought for a moment, “Maybe we can rely on the voice of nature to help us.”

 

“It’s probably our best shot,” Bloom agreed.

 

“You have to be a bit clearer,” Tecna interrupted, “I don’t hear anything other than the wind and bugs flying around.”

 

Midoriya expected his friend’s confusion. Technology often requires the frequent use of logic and facts based on hard evidence. Something as relative and subjective as the voice of nature would have been completely alien to someone like Tecna. 

 

“Everyone, close your eyes,” Flora instructed, “And listen to nature around us.”

 

The Winx did as they were told. Eyes closed and completely silent, they opened their ears to Mother Nature and let her voice sing into their subconscious. It was a surreal feeling to be completely still when life continued around them, but it was this stillness that allowed for a better understanding of what the world was trying to convey to them. Minute details that would have been lost to the unknowing came in full clarity at this very moment.

 

Time seemed to suddenly lose meaning, but eventually Tecna opened her eyes, “Well? What advice did Mother Nature give us?”

 

The rest opened their eyes on cue. As if on instinct, Bloom and Midoriya turned together towards the darkest area of the swamp. There was no reason for them to believe what they were currently thinking, but they felt the most sure that their thoughts were ultimately correct.

 

Bloom glanced at Midoriya, who nodded in affirmation.

 

“The troll went that way, through the thicket.”

 

Stella gulped, “A-Are you sure about that?”

 

“I know it’s dark and potentially scary, but we are very sure that is where the troll went,” Midoriya said.

 

“I agree,” Flora nodded, “I’m getting a really strong vibe.”

 

“We better get going then, before we completely lose the troll,” Bloom pushed.

 

Musa and Stella groaned, but nonetheless joined in step with the group into the foreboding unknown away from the safety of the sunlit clearing.

 

“Yoo hoo, nature, I’m listening…” Tecna called out as they disappeared into the darkness.

 


 

Meanwhile, somewhere further into the swamp, the specialists who had gone off in search for the troll were finding themselves in quite the pickle, courtesy of dark maroon sentient vines that had taken them prisoner when they least expected it. Riven was tightly bound to the trunk of a tree. Rykios was being dangled upside down by his ankles. Timmy was struggling against the vines coiling around him like a snake, while Sky and Brandon were tangled up by more advancing vines that left them no room to escape.

 

“Let me go you fucker!” Riven snarled, “Go drink some water or something!”

 

“I don’t think these vines rely on just water to survive,” Timmy squeaked as he tried to dodge a vine.

 

Sky tried to bat away a persistent vine, “What makes you say that?”

 

Timmy swallowed nervously, “Because I think they are about to eat us!”

 

That did not make the already dire situation any better, especially for Rykios, who was starting to grow faint from all the blood rushing to his head, exacerbated by the tightening vines slowly cutting off oxygen to his lungs.

 

“What do we do?” Brandon wheezed, “Any ideas?”

 

“We just need to stay calm and - ” Timmy’s voice died when more vines began creeping towards him and his friends. Any effort to maintain his composure came crashing down as certain death came right up to his face.

 

In such terrifying situations, there was only one certain thing that Timmy could do.

 

“HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!”

 


 

The other natural noises of the swamp meant that Timmy’s cry for help was unfortunately lost in the din. The Winx meanwhile were still searching for the troll, but so far had no luck. 

 

“Do you think the troll is even still around?” Midoriya asked.

 

“Who knows?” Musa replied, “For all we know, it could have been - ”

 

Suddenly, Flora shushed, “Everyone, be as quiet as possible.”

 

“What’s the matter?” Bloom whispered.

 

The tanned brunette pointed to the vines growing all over the place, “I recognise these plants. They are Quietus Carnivorous, and they hate sudden, loud noises.”

 

Stella eyed one of vines skeptically, “Really? I don’t believe that.”

 

Midoriya tried to stop her, but was too slow to stop the shrill whistle his roommate made that echoed through the swamp. As expected, Stella was suddenly grabbed by the ankles by two vines and dangled upside down in the air. Midoriya sighed as she began shrieking, Bloom, Tecna and Musa all laughed quietly at the blonde’s folly. Flora was the only one who wasn’t taking a crack at Stella’s predicament, as she was gently soothing the plants like one would comfort a scared animal.

 

It took several moments for the plants to calm down enough to retract their vines, dropping Stella onto her bum and splattering mud all over her body. The blonde groaned pitifully.

 

“I did try to warn you,” Flora shook her head disapprovingly.

 

“HELP!!!!!!”

 

The Winx startled at the sudden cry echoing somewhere deeper in the swamp.

 

“Someone’s in trouble!” Bloom whisper-shouted.

 

“Our classmates?” Midoriya asked.

 

“No, it’s too masculine,” Tecna deducted, “I think it’s the specialists.”

 

“We better hurry then,” said Flora.

 

As quietly as possible, the Winx hurried in the direction of the source of distress.

 


 

Timmy had screamed himself hoarse, but no one appeared to rescue him and his friends from their increasingly-perilous situation.

 

“Man...this is going to be so fucking embarrassing if someone were to see us like this,” Sky remarked forlornly.

 

Then, as if fate was playing a cruel joke on them, the Winx entered the enclave the specialists were held captive.

 

“Need a hand?” Stella quipped teasingly.

 

Relief broke out from most of the specialists, save for Riven, “You lot should stay back, these vines belong to incredibly blood-thirsty, man-eating plants!” The last part came out constricted as the vines tightened around him.

 

“They only eat loudmouths, so pipe down will you? You’re scaring the plants even more with your yapping,” Musa was unamused, earning herself a glare from Riven, which she responded with an exasperated huff.

 

Ignoring the burgeoning argument, Flora busied herself with soothing the plants, “It’s okay, little ones, there’s no need to be frightened.”

 

Eventually, the vines retracted, freeing the specialists. Riven stumbled forward when blood began returning to his extremities. Timmy, Brandon and Sky took deep breaths to compensate their oxygen flow, and Rykios did a somersault to land on his feet and not his head.

 

Midoriya flushed the tiniest bit from that display of flexibility and prowess.

 

“We should get out of here,” Bloom said.

 

The group assented to that notion and left the enclave quickly. They walked for a bit, arriving at another sun-lit clearing.

 

“Hey,” Brandon suddenly turned to Bloom, taking her hand into his, “I didn’t get a proper chance to say it earlier, but it’s really good to see you again.”

 

“Likewise, Brandon,” Bloom smiled.

 

Meanwhile, Midoriya, who found himself walking next to Rykios, turned to the dark-skinned specialist and asked quietly, “A-Are you okay, Rykios-san?”

 

“Yeah, I am now.”

 

Midoriya let a small grin grace his lips. At the back of his mind, the subconscious fear of Rykios again tried to overwhelm the relief he felt that the specialist was alright, but he tried to force down the nervousness by remembering the tender moment he shared with Rykios at the end of the back-to-school party earlier in the week. His eyes did shift towards the specialist’s hands, appreciating their somewhat bigger size and strength they promised.

 

Stella came up to them, “What are we whispering for? We’ve already cleared those nasty vines.”

 

“It’s nothing, Stella,” Bloom replied, “We’re just catching up.”

 

The group came to a stop at the clearing.

 

“I think we should all look for the troll together,” Bloom recommended, “Safety in numbers.”

 

“Sounds like a great idea!” Flora agreed.

 

“Me too!” Timmy added.

 

Of course, Riven had to ruin everything.

 

“Fuck no! There’s no way I’m teaming up with a bunch of pixies!”

 

The Winx all turned to glare at the abrasive redhead, Midoriya in particular felt his magic growl in anger and his vision briefly cloud over in crimson. He had half a mind to storm up to Riven and drain all the blood from the cocky specialist when Sky intervened.

 

“Well, if that’s what you want, then you’re on your own, my dude,” the brunette prince flicked his hair languidly, “And if you do happen to find the troll, give us a shout so that we can save your ass from being eaten.”

 

Riven scowled, but for once, his logical brain reined in his emotions. On his own, he knew that he would be no match against a fully-grown hunting troll. He will be rendered to nothing but guts, bits of flesh and blood if he even so did as try his luck. Valuing his life more than his ego in this brief moment, Riven finally relented.

 

“Alright, fine. Where do we go from here?”

 


 

Walking around blindly for several minutes, the group finally left behind the thick vegetation, mud and thousands of bugs and chanced upon a large, muddy river. 

 

Tecna eyed the distant bank and the dirty water in front of her, “We have to get across somehow. And my instinct is that the river is too deep for us to wade across.”

 

“I don’t even know how to swim!” Stella cried.

 

Midoriya studied the river for any possible way to get across safely. His eyes flitted over to a lump of earth that protruded out of the water. And looking forward, he saw a series of these lumps dotted across the river leading to the opposite embankment. While the rest of the group traded possible ideas back and forth behind him, Midoriya approached the nearest lump of earth along the edge of the river.

 

“Midoriya, be careful,” Rykios said from behind him.

 

“Thanks,” the green-haired teen nodded.

 

Bracing himself, Midoriya took a running leap, and landed on the lump of earth, which to his relief, held steady against his weight.

 

“Guys!” he called back to the group, “I think the only safe way to cross the river is to hop onto these lumps of earth!” He took another leap, and landed on a second lump, “C’mon! We don’t have all day!”

 

Rykios was quick to follow Midoriya’s example, leaping onto the lump said teen had just vacated with little effort. Watching the pair slowly hop across the river, the rest of the group followed suit.

 

It wasn’t easy crossing the river by such means, especially since the lumps of earth further out in the river became unstable when added weight was applied to them.

 

“They are so wobbly,” Flora remarked as she tried to keep herself steady.

 

“Mine too!” Bloom almost lost her balance.

 

“I think the key to this enterprise is to keep moving; don’t stay on each turf for too long!” Tecna quickly lept off her slab of earth on to the next one. Everyone followed her example and continued their way across the river.

 

That was also when things started to get more difficult.

 

The river currents suddenly increased about halfway across, making the lumps of earth even more unstable. Stella quickly found this out when she attempted to make another leap, only for the lump she was aiming for to suddenly crumble when one foot landed on it. Stella shrieked, losing her centre of gravity and tipping backwards. She would have plunged back-first into the water if Sky hadn’t appeared and caught her in his strong arms.

 

“Oh! T-Thank you.” 

 

“You’re most welcome,” Sky gave Stella an impish wink.

 

Unfortunately, more problems followed. The rushing currents coalesced into a spiraling whirlpool that sucked many nearby lumps of earth down into the depths of the river. While still a bit away from the group, the whirlpool was growing by the second. Very soon, it would become large enough to put everyone in danger.

 

Brandon, who was closest to the whirlpool, knew he had to act fast.

 

‘There aren’t any turfs nearby…’ the blonde thought to himself, eyeing a distance lump, ‘Looks like it’s going to be a double jump.’

 

Brandon readied himself, waiting for the right moment for his target lump to float by. This was a hit-or-miss, and he had to get this single chance right. Fuck this up, and he’s on a one-way train-ride towards the whirlpool. He crouched down, tensing his leg muscles in preparation for the jump. At the right moment, just as the lump he was on reached the edge of the whirlpool, Brandon made the almighty leap, landing perfectly on the lump away from certain death.

 

“Nice one!” Bloom called out. Brandon flashed her a thumbs-up.

 

By now, the group was almost at the other side of the river. Most were already tuckered from the prolonged strenuous exertion, but their biggest obstacle still needed to be overcome. The whirlpool had grown bigger, now only a foot or so from the group. It didn’t help that the turfs in that part of the river had become loose from the currents. It was only a matter of time before someone misjudged their jump and plunged straight into the river. 

 

And that someone was Riven.

 

His intended lump of earth had moved away at the last second, causing him to fall feet-first into the river. 

 

“Riven!” Brandon shouted.

 

Tecna was immediately at the river’s edge, grabbing the maroon redhead’s outstretched hands.

 

“I’ve got you! Hold on tight!”

 

Tecna struggled against the force of the whirlpool and Riven’s weight.

 

“Don’t let go of me,” he begged quietly. Tecna could see the fear flash over his features, and doubled her efforts to pull him to shore. 

 

But the whirlpool was gaining in strength, and the ground beneath Tecna’s boots was beginning to crack from the added weight and pressure.

 

“She’s slipping!” Flora cried, “We need to help her!”

 

True enough, the ground gave way not a moment later. Before Tecna could join Riven in the river though, Timmy shot forwards and wrapped his arms around her waist.

 

“Don’t worry Tecna! I’ll get you out of there!”

 

It quickly became a tug of war between Timmy and the whirlpool, something Midoriya and Bloom realised will quickly turn to the whirlpool’s favour if something wasn’t done quickly. Both rushed to Timmy, and grabbed him below the armpits. With the added strength, they were able to make small progress, but more help was needed. It came with Brandon and Rykios, who wrapped their arms around Bloom and Midoriya respectively. Finally, with much grunting and exertion, they were able to pull Tecna and Riven onto the embankment.

 

Once everyone was safe, Midoriya let go. Unfortunately, his exhaustion meant his footing gave way almost immediately. He inadvertently fell back onto Rykios, who hadn’t expected the sudden action. The dark-skinned specialist fell onto his bum, arms still wrapped around Midoriya thanks to instinct moving him to protect the smaller teen from possible injury.

 

“Glad you teamed up with us fairies now, aren’t you Riven?” Stella snarked cheekily.

 

The redhead was busy wiping the dirty water off of him, “Yeah, whatever, I could have done it myself.” He turned to the stunned group, “C’mon, we’re wasting enough time as it is already.”

 

Everyone couldn’t believe Riven as he turned on his heel towards the thick vegetation.

 

“Remind me again why we have to put up with him?” Rykios muttered to himself.

 

“I can ask that same question any day, Rykios-san…” Midoriya replied quietly. He slowly looked down, only now noticing the specialist’s arms wrapped around his waist…

 

...and he was sitting on said specialist’s lap.

 

Midoriya let out a loud, high-pitched “EEP!!!” and leapt out of Rykios’ grip, his face a strawberry-red and arms wrapped around his head out of embarrassment.

 

“I-I’m so s-sorry, Rykios-san! I-I didn’t m-mean to make y-you uncomfortable!”

 

In his panic, Midoriya failed to notice the brief flash of disappointment over Rykios’ features. Too bad he wasn’t able to read minds either, or else he would have discovered that the dark-skinned specialist was far from uncomfortable. Heck, Rykios wished Midoriya had remained in his lap. It was quite the comfortable position, after all. And Rykios was quite the cuddler, though no one needed to know that...except for Midoriya, obviously.

 

“A-A-Anyway! Let’s get g-going! We’ll lose the t-troll if w-we don’t hurry!”

 

Midoriya was quick to rush off in Riven’s direction. The remainder of the group (sans Rykios) glanced at one another, before hurrying after the green-haired teen. No one noticed Stella slipping into a pensive look from the earlier exchange.

 


 

The group continued their trek through the swamp, fending off more insects and potentially-dangerous plants while persisting their search for the troll. Their lucky break came when a loud roar rattled the air.

 

“That’s our boy!” Sky cheered.

 

Just as relief set in, there came a set of loud screams that were distinctly human and feminine.

 

“Someone’s in trouble!” Bloom gasped.

 

Everyone quickly followed the roars and screams, arriving at the edge of another clearing. The situation quickly became even more dire when they realised the troll had three Alfea students (Dahlia and two others) cornered against a rock face.

 

“We’ll get them out of there!” Sky reassured.

 

“We need to intervene quickly,” Tecna remarked, “Any moment wasted is a percentage point increase of the girls turning into troll food!”

 

“Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan,” Sky replied, all eyes turning towards him, “First phase, the girls and Midoriya go and distract the troll.”

 

The Winx all started at this.

 

“I hope phase two isn’t ‘troll eats Winx’!” Stella was affronted at the possible insinuation.

 

“No, it won’t come to that,” Sky reassured the blonde, “Brandon and Timmy will swoop in to hold the troll down, leaving Riven, me, and Rykios to slip on the shackles and restrain him.”

 

Midoriya didn’t think it was the most fool-proof plan, but he had nothing else to offer, and from the look he shared with the girls, neither did they. They nodded to Brandon, and as one, the Winx burst into the clearing. Branches and rocks were picked up and hurled towards the troll to get its attention.

 

“Hey, you smelly fucker!” Bloom called out, “Remember us?”

 

“Long time no see!” Stella waved, a tad bit nervous under her cheeky tone.

 

The troll spun around. It’s roar shook the ground beneath it.

 

“Well, don’t shy from us!” Stella continued, her nervousness growing, “Get over here and give us hugs!”

 

Midoriya was sorely tempted to make a break for it when the troll roared again and charged towards the Winx like an enraged bull. He quickly shot down the instinct, standing his ground with a jagged rock in hand. He had survived his encounter with the troll with nothing but a cleaver; now he had his friends with him. He wasn’t going to run away as he had done for most of his life now.

 

Just before the troll could make a grab at the Winx, Brandon and Timmy leapt out of their hiding places, grabbing onto the troll’s legs. The sudden halt in momentum sent the lumbering beast falling forward into the mud of the swamp. Pinned down on the ground, it roared and thrashed about like a ferocious, captured animal.

 

“Hurry up you guys! I don’t think we can hold on for much longer!” Brandon called out to his comrades.

 

Riven, Sky and Rykios jumped into the fray, shackles at the ready. Beyond that, everything became a blur of fists, mud, limbs and shouts. None of the Winx could distinguish which specialist was which, though the troll remained clearly visible, thrashing about even more fiercely.

 

The troll suddenly grabbed a specialist by the head.

 

“Help! He’s got my face!”

 

“Let go of Riven, you beast!” Timmy could be heard shouting.

 

“Hurry up! I can’t hold him down much longer!”

 

“Get the cuffs!”

 

“I’m trying!”

 

The struggle continued for God knows how much longer. Somewhere in the confusion, the troll kicked Brandon, Rykios and Timmy away. It stood up, taking Sky and Riven, who were clinging onto its massive arms, with it. The troll didn’t need to do much to rid itself of the hecklers, two powerful swings and the two specialists were sent flying. With nothing holding it back, the troll quickly made a run for it.

 

“It’s getting away!” Bloom cried.

 

It was too late to do anything though. The troll disappeared into the swamp and was never seen again.

 

The adrenaline in the air slowly dissipated. On the ground, Rykios groaned in pain. Midoriya was immediately running over to help him up.

 

“Are you okay, Rykios-san?”

 

“Don’t worry, Midoriya. I’m fine.”

 

Brandon’s chuckles dissolved the rest of the tension in the air. Somehow, in the middle of the fight, Timmy got his wrists bound tightly by the shackles.

 

“Well, at least we know the shackles still work,” the blonde joked, disabling the shackles to free his comrade, “You okay, Timmy?”

 

The bespectacled specialist nodded. At that moment, Dahlia and the two other girls approached the group, distasteful sneers marring their otherwise pretty faces.

 

“I thought you suckers are in a school of bravery, not botchery!”

 

Midoriya noticed that Rykios looked rather embarrassed at the jibe, glancing away slightly. Somewhere deep inside the green-haired teen, his anger began to mount.

 

“Later losers!”

 

The three girls laughed nasally as they turned around to leave the clearing. 

 

Oh, that. was. fucking. it!

 

Midoriya stormed after the girls, snarling and raising a middle finger, “WELL FUCK YOU TOO, YOU SYPHILITIC WHORES!”

 

The girls spun around as if they had been slapped, looking decidedly offended. Dahlia tried to cover her outrage by sneering, “And what do you know, Midoriya? You didn’t even do anything!”

 

Midoriya’s anger erupted. His eyes glazed over under a blood-red sheen, his snarl turning predatory and deadly. His hair started rising up, and the mud beneath his feet rose up and began swirling around the lower half of his body.

 

“We saved your lives, and you dare try to sneer at us? I guess you three don’t value your pathetic existences then…”

 

He threw his hands out, and that was more than enough for Dahlia and her two friends to scream in mortal terror and hightail it out of the clearing as fast as their legs could carry them.

 

Midoriya watched the fleeing trio with teeth bared in contempt, “That’s it, run away you fucking pussies. You don’t have a lot of time, for I’m about to-”

 

A pair of hands grabbed his shoulders. Another pair grabbed his arm.

 

“Midoriya, stop. That’s enough, they’re gone now.”

 

The look of feral rage slackened from Midoriya’s face, the blood-red sheen fading from his eyes, revealing the familiar emerald irises. The levitating mud fell back down onto the swamp.

 

The Winx and the specialists watched with a mix of concern and trepidation, as Bloom and Rykios reined in the bloodthirsty broccoli beast that was Midoriya.

 

“Breathe in with me, Midoriya, and out. In...out...in...out…”

 

Slowly, Midoriya returned to normal. He sagged like a puppet cut from its strings, Rykios’ arms wrapping around his waist to keep him steady.

 

Flora slowly approached them, “Is Midoriya going to be okay?”

 

“He should be,” Bloom nodded, before turning to the rest, “We should get out of here.”

 


 

Not far from the rock face, there was another clearing with a stream running through the middle of it. The water was strangely clear, but no one complained or made any comment about it. It was the perfect spot to rest and recalibrate. 

 

The specialists went to the stream to wash off the mud that caked their uniforms and faces, while the Winx went off to one side to congregate together. Rykios, however, didn’t follow his comrades immediately, instead going further upstream to a more private spot with Midoriya in his arms.

 

Midoriya was extremely dazed, halfway between consciousness and unconsciousness. Rykios slowly sat down by the stream’s edge, gently placing the smaller teen on his lap. Taking off his glove, the dark-skinned specialist dipped his hand into the water, scooping up a bit and carefully bringing it to Midoriya’s drying lips. 

 

From the looks of things, Midoriya hadn’t drunk anything since their meeting earlier in the day. Dehydration coupled with his current state was not a good combination to be ignored.

 

Rykios carefully tilted his palm to slide the water through Midoriya’s ajar lips. He did it twice more, until the smaller teen began to stir, his half-lidded eyes flickering open fully.

 

“R-Rykios-san…”

 

“You okay?”

 

Midoriya shifted. Rykios gently (read: reluctantly) lifted the teen off his lap. 

 

“I think I’m fine...but what happened?”

 

“You don’t remember?” Rykios raised an eyebrow.

 

Midoriya pursed his lips, “I only remember calling those three girls syphilitic whores. One of them mocked me, and after that, everything was just red. Why? What did I do?”

 

“In the end, nothing,” Rykios revealed, “But you came really close to murdering those three girls. And also scaring the crap out of everyone else. Bloom and I were just able to stop you before blood was spilt.”

 

“You did?” Midoriya was surprised. He glanced off to the side, “You shouldn’t have stopped me.”

 

“Midoriya…” came the disbelieving reply.

 

“No, you don’t get it!” the teen slipped into a rant, “You and your comrades saved those three bitches from certain death! Sure, the troll got away in the end, but ultimately no one was hurt or killed! Instead of being grateful, those motherfucking whores actually dared to mock and demean you! As if their very lives weren’t in peril moments before you intervened! If they are so ungrateful, they deserve to at least feel some pain before - ”

 

Anything else Midoriya wanted to spew out was cut off when he was suddenly pulled into Rykios’ lap again. One muscular, powerful arm wrapped securely around his waist, and the other went upwards to his head to start stroking through his forest-green locks.

 

A blush spread over his cheeks, “R-Rykios-san…?”

 

“Hush Midoriya...it’s okay,” the dark-skinned specialist spoke quietly, “You’ve probably traumatised those three girls for life. I don’t want you to get into trouble over something so insignificant.”

 

The gentle ministrations slowly bled off the rest of the tension still in Midoriya’s spirit, “I know...it’s just that I hate these kinds of people.”

 

“You and me both, Midoriya, you and me both.”

 

Meanwhile, further down the stream in another quiet spot away from the main congregation, Bloom chanced upon Brandon, sitting on a log by himself looking rather conflicted.

 

“Hey you!” she smiled, sitting down next to him.

 

“Bloom! What’s up?”

 

“You know you shouldn’t let what those bitches said get you down,” Bloom tried to lift his spirits, “I thought what you did back there was really brave.”

 

Brandon scoffed, “Brave or not, the troll still got away.”

 

Bloom was undeterred, “You did what you could to save them. I can’t imagine troll-wrestling would be that easy.”

 

The blonde had an answer to that too, “Yeah, but we’re sophomores, and we should’ve been able to handle the troll. This was supposed to be our first real, practical assignment, and all we managed to do is fuck it up.”

 

“But…”

 

“It seems that the only thing we are able to do together is argue with one another.”

 

Bloom followed Brandon’s line of sight. Off to where the rest were congregated, Riven and Sky appeared to be in the midst of a burgeoning argument. 

 

“Well...perhaps maybe if you-”

 

Whatever the redhead wanted to suggest was overshadowed when the argument taking place spilled over and increased in volume and intensity. At the side, the rest of the Winx were watching the spectacle with a mix of exasperation, annoyance and amusement (Tecna and Flora, Musa and Stella in that arrangement).

 

“Don’t fucking blame me, Sky! I’m not the who shackled Timmy!” Riven growled.

 

“Dude, you had the shackles to begin with!”

 

“Me? Why you motherfucking piece of -”

 

Bloom and Brandon took one look at one another, before getting up together and rushing over to intervene in the erupting fight before it became physical. It was Brandon’s duty to protect Sky, after all. But just as they reached the epicentre, Timmy stepped in for them.

 

“Stop it, the both of you! We all fucked up together. Can’t you both at least agree on that?!”

 

Riven growled again, but Sky quickly pushed the point home, “Timmy’s right. At least that it something we can all agree upon, don’t you think so, Riven?”

 

The maroon redhead seemed to stew over it for a moment, before sighing, “Yeah, yeah...I agree.”

 

The watching Winx all sighed in relief as Timmy got Sky and Riven to shake on it. The tension seeped away like a receding tide, but eventually it was back in business once again for the assembled group.

 

“Break time’s over. We still have a troll to catch,” said Riven.

 

“Wait,” Bloom interceded, “Where’s Midoriya and Rykios?”

 

Tecna stepped up, “I saw Rykios carrying Midoriya further upstream.”

 

“Then we better notify them before we set off,” said Musa.

 

The group went upstream according to Tecna’s memory, and what they found had them stopping in their tracks.

 

“I can’t be the only one who finds that extremely adorable,” Stella giggled.

 

“I agree on that, Stella,” Flora replied.

 

Unaware that they were being watched, Rykios still had Midoriya in his lap, gently stroking the smaller teen’s hair as they talked quietly. Musa cursed leaving her phone back in Alfea, so wanting to take pictures to tease Midoriya later on, a sentiment shared by Stella as well. Flora was trying desperately to keep her squeals in, while Bloom and Tecna looked on with nonchalance. The specialists also had varied reactions - Brandon and Sky were elbowing one another with knowing smirks, Timmy merely smiled, while Riven was, strangely, pouting.

 

It was also Riven who took it upon himself to break the atmosphere, “Rykios! We’re heading off!”

 

The dark-skinned specialist slowly turned his head towards the group, expression carefully blank, but with a clearly unimpressed look in his ruby irises. Midoriya quietly squeaked at the realisation that they had been seen, and instinctually buried his face with his hands to hide himself.

 

“C’mon! We haven’t got all day!”

 

Rykios’ eyes flashed, but he eventually relented. Lifting Midoriya off of him, he pulled them both up to their feet. Keeping close to the shorter teen, he guided Midoriya back to the group, where he was immediately swamped by the Winx.

 

“So Midoriya,” Stella glided in, “tell us how you managed to bag yourself a man so quickly…”

 

“I-I-It’s n-nothing like that!” he tried to defend himself.

 

Bloom chuckled, “You look like a strawberry, Midoriya!”

 

“Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu….”

 


 

Elsewhere in the swamp where the sunlight was almost completely blocked by the trees and vegetation, a familiar trio of witches waited with growing impatience for their quarry to turn up.

 

“This is taking too long!” Stormy whined.

 

“Stormy, won’t you relax?” Icy rebutted, “That peabrained, lumbering brute should turn up any moment now.”

 

“I certainly hope so,” Darcy interjected, “What if those idiotic specialists managed to catch him?”

 

“Nah,” Icy shook her head, “Once the troll gets a scent of our ‘Fume de Doon’ perfume, he’ll come running so fast literally nothing in the entire magical dimension will be able to catch him.”

 

“But what if he got stuck in the Sink Slime?” Stormy asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Or if the Quietus Carnivorous got to him? He has a tendency to roar,” Darcy had to bring up after a moment of thought.

 

“Hmm, you two bring up good points,” Icy conceded, “Well, we’ll just have to-”

 

Loud, annoying quacking interrupted her train of thought. Looking down, Icy groaned as the infernal duck she had unwillingly acquired waddled up towards her. This wasn’t the first time Pepe (the name Darcy came up with) had followed them wherever they went, despite the kicks and overall violence against him. Not only did the Trix’s street cred go flushing down the toilet when the duck followed them to class, he literally followed the Trix (particularly Icy) into the bathroom no matter the occasion like an extremely inquisitive and (in Icy’s case) loyal pet.

 

Icy snarled, “You again?!”

 

“So cute,” Stormy smirked sarcastically.

 

“I despise cute,” Icy growled, releasing her magic and encasing Pepe in ice, “That should keep the fucker quiet.”

 

Then came a loud roar. As the Trix turned, the troll came lumbering through the vegetation towards them, taking deep whiffs of the perfumed air.

 

“Told you the oaf will show up,” Icy grinned.

 

The troll stopped before them, still taking deep sniffs.

 

“Listen up, you brute,” Stormy barked, “You were being transported to Magix to be interrogated. But see, unfortunately for you, we can’t allow that to happen.”

 

The troll didn’t appear to comprehend what the frizzle-haired witch seemed to be saying, even when she and Darcy moved to surround it in a triangle-shaped formation.

 

“That’s right, we can’t afford to have our secret revealed,” Icy continued.

 

“Which means that you have to vanish from existence,” Darcy finished, “Have fun in limbo.”

 

The troll barely reacted when the three witches stretched out their hands, channelling dark magic towards it. A flash of light later, and the troll was gone.

 

Stormy smirked, “Well, that settles that.”

 

“Let’s get back to Cloud Tower,” said Icy.

 

In a flash of purple light, the Trix vanished from the clearing, leaving little evidence of their presence behind.

 


 

Exactly five minutes later, the Winx and the specialists arrived at the dark clearing where the Trix had just departed from. Bloom, Flora and Midoriya led the group, taking in the location with sweeping looks.

 

“What do you guys hear now?” Brandon asked.

 

“It’s not exactly a sound,” Bloom corrected.

 

“It’s more like a feeling you have inside, like a gut instinct,” Midoriya added.

 

“The Voice of Nature isn’t something you can just hear,” Flora pointed out.

 

Behind them, Sky pursed his lips, “Well, I’ve tried everything, but I can’t feel or hear anything at all.”

 

Tecna stepped up to his side, “I can’t feel anything either. I’m from a wired realm, but believe me that we can trust Bloom, Flora and Midoriya on this.”

 

A few more steps in, and the leading trio suddenly stopped.

 

“What is it?” asked Riven.

 

“The feeling stops here,” Bloom remarked, looking quite surprised.

 

Sky mirrored the confused reactions from the group, “So where’s the troll?”

 

“Gone,” Bloom replied, “But there’s something else around here too.”

 

“It’s kind of cold,” Midoriya commented.

 

Stella looked a little spooked, “There’s really negative energy in the air here.”

 

“I feel it too,” Tecna agreed, “I can sense singed ions, indicating of dark magic.”

 

“So someone used dark magic to make the troll vanish,” Sky concluded.

 

“But who?” asked Timmy.

 

“Well,” Musa thought for a moment, “we know that the troll works for Knut, and Knut is a grunt for the Trix!”

 

Something caught Midoriya’s eye. Tugging on Bloom’s sleeve to get her attention, he pointed out the object in question. On closer inspection, it was a purple feather. And there were more scattered throughout the clearing. 

 

“So you’re saying it was those three witches who shot our aircraft down?” asked Brandon.

 

“It’s possible,” Flora replied.

 

“Hey guys! Come check this out!” Bloom called out, showing the feathers she and Midoriya had collected.

 

Tecna inspected the feathers closely, “Those look like duck feathers.”

 

“And isn’t someone we know being stalked by a duck from the spell we put on her?” Flora pointed out.

 

“Icy,” Musa growled.

 

“Looks like we have the proof we need,” Midoriya remarked.

 

“But what were they up to? We’ve got to find out,” said Bloom.

 

“Um...I don’t think that’s possible since those three are no longer around,” Stella pointed out, pausing to smack an insect that had landed on her arm, “Plus, I would like to get out of this swamp before I become food for disgusting bugs!”

 

“Speaking of which, something tells me that we’re the last of our class to finish the assignment,” Tecna remarked forlornly.

 

“How about this?” Timmy suggested, “Once we get our ship up and running, we can give you a flight to rejoin your class.”

 

Seeing as this was probably the best option lest they want to continue stumbling about the swamp in the rapidly-dimming light, the Winx quickly agreed to the offer.

 


 

The Red Fountain aircraft took some time to repair, and it was past sunset when the all-clear was given and everyone boarded the ship. Engines whirring to life, the aircraft lifted off from the ground, and soared into the air with a mighty roar.

 

Riven took control of the steering, while the rest buckled in for the flight.

 

“Bloom-san?” 

 

“What’s up, Midoriya?”

 

“Are we going to get in trouble or penalised for finishing so late?” the green-haired teen asked nervously.

 

“I sure hope not,” Bloom bit her lip slightly, “But I think Professor Palladium is very understanding, so maybe not?”

 

Whatever their fate was, it came to them when the aircraft finally arrived at the Crystal Clearing. Down below, Professor Palladium and the rest of the class watched with interest as the ship lowered to the ground, landing prongs branching out with mechanical whirrs. The Winx unbuckled and prepared for disembarkation. The ramp was lowered, and they departed from the ship. The specialists remained by the doorway to see them off.

 

“Aren’t you going to walk us to class?” Stella joked.

 

“We would but…” Sky explained, “We were technically not supposed to leave the ship.”

 

“Well, kinda threw that rule out the window, didn’t you?” Musa teased.

 

“It’s cool,” Bloom nodded, “I hope you guys don’t get punished too hard.”

 

“Hopefully not,” Brandon chuckled, “Well, you guys better hurry.”

 

The Winx said their farewells. Midoriya waved to Rykios, who returned it with a small grin. The ramp was raised, and the aircraft lifted off from the ground and sped off into the darkening sky. The Winx then approached their class, trying not to duck away from the calculative look Professor Palladium was giving them.

 

“Your group took the longest to arrive, so unfortunately you will be awarded zero for punctuality.”

 

The Winx visibly wilted at this, but the elf-eared professor wasn’t done.

 

“However, I was watching your progress throughout the entire day. You all displayed exemplary attributes everyone can learn from today’s lesson. As such, I will award your group thirty points for generosity, twenty-five for proactive initiative, forty for courage, and fifty for your deep connection to the Voice of Nature. Congratulations, this makes your score the highest in the class.”

 

Taken by surprise, the Winx cheered and hugged one another for their success.

 

The rest of the class were also taken aback. One of the girls who were trapped by the troll earlier took offense to that, “It’s not fair! They were the last to arrive!”

 

“I never said it was a race, didn’t I?” Palladium remained unfazed, “Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.”

 

Dahlia couldn’t take this sitting down, “And what about Midoriya? He threatened to hurt us earlier!”

 

Here, Palladium scowled, “Well Ms. Dahlia, you are forgetting that you showed disrespect and ungratefulness to your rescuers after they saved you and your friends from certain death. In fact, I would dare say that Mr. Midoriya acted quite appropriately since you insulted his character as well. Perhaps this will be a good lesson for you to think before you speak and learn basic decency before you get seriously injured as a result.”

 

Dahlia recoiled as if she had been slapped. Musa jokingly winced and confided to Midoriya, “Ooh, triple weak.”

 

“That aside,” Palladium turned to the class as a whole, “I believe it is getting quite late. Come along, everyone, it is time to return to Alfea.”

 

With that, the lesson came to an end, and so did the day for the Winx and their classmates.

 


 

At Red Fountain, the night was still not yet over for a certain group of specialists, who after hours of elbow grease, had just finished properly fixing up their aircraft and giving it a thorough wash, making it look good as new.

 

“I can’t believe we have to clean the jousting stables once we’re done here,” Sky complained, stretching his body to relieve the aches in his joints.

 

“And the creatures too,” Timmy added, climbing down from the wing of the ship after polishing it to sparkling.

 

“We deserve it, losing the troll and all,” Riven sighed, keeping away the tools. Rykios slipped down from the nose of the aircraft and joining his comrades.

 

“I suppose the punishment could have been worse,” Sky remarked.

 

“Oh, man, you haven’t yet felt what it was like giving a bath to that temperamental griffin!” Timmy pointed out.

 

“Yeah, that griffin is fucking enormous!” Brandon added, as Rykios nodded, “A lot goes in, and a lot comes out!”

 

“Well, I don’t think it’s as bad as the time Marcus had to crawl into the digestive cavity of the Bingledip Beast,” Sky reminded, “It was suffering from fecal obstruction then, and he was forced to unclog all of that disgusting mess. You could still smell the stench on him for a whole month after that punishment!”

 

Riven, Brandon and Timmy all remembered that incident, and along with Sky, all burst out laughing, coming to the consensus that their predicament won’t be nearly as horrid as what poor Marcus was forced to go through. While not joining in on the laughter, Rykios did grin a little, his mind focused on other things.

 

They, as a group, have come a long way to where they are now. If anything, what happened today served as a catalyst for better understanding for one another. Rykios knew that they were still far from being the best of friends with each other (looking at Riven there), but this experience has brought them closer than ever before. 

 

Perhaps, one day, Rykios hoped, all five of them could be considered a true team that would make everyone proud.

 


To Be Continued.


 

Chapter Text

Routine once again became the norm for the Winx following their outdoor activity. Of course, that wasn’t to say that life in Alfea was without any drama of any kind.

 

Despite Palladium’s admonishment in the Crystal Clearing, Dahlia and the two girls who were attacked by the troll went to great lengths to tell anyone who would listen about how they were almost victims of the bloodthirsty Midoriya Izuku who came very close to taking their lives in the swamp.

 

The reactions were, honestly, mixed.

 

While some of the more gullible students bought the story as fact, many more either couldn’t be bothered to really care much about three whiny first-year students’ blatant attempts at earning sympathy points, or were outright vocal about how the three girls deserved the terrifying moment and the scolding they received for not using their brains to treat others with basic decency.

 

Things further turned against the three girls when the Winx came to know about what they had been doing. Dahlia and her friends finally stopped their self-victimisation when Midoriya warned them to sleep with one eye open, for he may come into their dorms and pull the blood from their bodies until they were nothing but lifeless husks.

 

The matter was dropped very quickly after that.

 

Beyond that, things went rather smoothly or so for the Winx. Midoriya spent his time juggling between homework, making progress during lessons, working out at the gym with Tecna, forming cordial relationships with the professors, kneading dough and decorating pastries at Miriam’s bakery in downtown Magix, and hanging out with his friends.

 

Two weeks would subsequently go by without much incident. It was a Thursday, and today saw the Winx in the Alfea kitchens.

 

They were working on a practical assignment for Potions class. Professor Nurlia had tasked them to find a potion of their choice and create a sample for her to assess the next Monday. As it was, Stella had chanced upon a potion in the latest copy of Vanity Fairy called DIY Good Judgement. However, since Stella was still on prickly terms with the potions professor, it was up to Midoriya to pitch the potion to Nurlia. Given the better relationship between Nurlia and the only male Alfean student, she gave her assent for the Winx to make the potion as their assignment.

 

That was what led them to the Alfea kitchens that Thursday afternoon, preparing the ingredients for the Good Judgement potion, as the Potions laboratory did not have the ingredients needed and was occupied by the second-years. The school cook, Mr. Sfoglia, was currently not present as it wasn’t time to start preparing dinner for the students yet.

 

As it was, there was also one crucial person who wasn’t present.

 

“Where the fuck is Stella?” Musa grumbled as she peeled a potato, “Wasn’t this her idea?”

 

“I’m not sure,” Bloom replied, working away on her own potato, “She did say she’ll meet us down here later.”

 

One row of counters behind them, Flora added her newly-peeled potato to a large pile, “And that makes five hundred!”

 

“So another five hundred to go?” Tecna groaned.

 

Midoriya sighed, putting his half-peeled potato down, “I don’t mind kitchen prep and labour, but if this potion doesn’t work, I’m going to curse Stella-san’s wardrobe to turn all her clothes ugly.”

 

“Well, it is from Vanity Fairy ,” Musa pointed out, “If it doesn’t work we’ll just send them an explosive letter of complaint. It is our grade they ruined, after all.”

 

“I should also add some curses into that letter then,” Midoriya replied, returning to his potato.

 

“Can someone remind me of the formula again?” Bloom asked.

 

“A thousand potatoes, a bushel of whipweed, a kilogram of mandrake root, two litres of water, heated precisely to fifty degrees Celsius, and cook for precisely forty minutes,” Tecna recounted, “Once done, drink a cup of the potion whilst doing a magic backflip. Do that and you will make good decisions for the next twenty-four hours, as well as good judgement for the same length of time.”

 

Again, the prospects sounded attractive, but were also frustratingly unknown.

 

Any further conversation was interrupted, however, by the kitchen doors bursting open loudly. In stepped a large, pot-bellied man with a twirly moustache, otherwise known as Chef Sfoglia.

 

“I thought-a I heard voices inside,” he growled, his Italian accent prominent, sweeping his eyes over the Winx, “What-a are you lot-a doing here in my kitchen?!”

 

Midoriya spoke up, “Sfoglia-san, we are working on an assignment for Potions class. You can ask Professor Nurlia about it.”

 

The chef maintained his scowl, but didn’t seem to challenge Midoriya’s reasoning. His eyes, however, then widened when he realised the state of his kitchen - filled with potato peelings, peeled potatoes and empty sacks.

 

“Look at this-a place! It’s a mess!”

 

“We’re sorry about that,” Tecna apologised, “It’s just that the potions lab didn’t have what we needed and was signed off.”

 

“Relax, maestro, it’s all good!” Musa chirped cheekily, handing a stunned Sfoglia a potato, “Here, have a spud.”

 

“W-Wha...my spiro potatoes!” the chef cried, “You’ve used-a up all of my babies!”

 

A throbbing vein had already appeared on Sfoglia’s forehead, but just before his anger could explode on the Winx, his attention turned to the five pans sizzling away on one of the stoves.

 

“And what is-a that?” he pointed at the pans.

 

“That’s our snack,” Flora replied genially.

 

“We got hungry,” Midoriya added.

 

“That is not-a how you cook!” Sfoglia admonished.

 

Musa took offense to that, “How hard is it to prepare an omelette?” 

 

“You have to-a show it your love!” the chef ignored Musa, “Now, flip-a it!”

 

Flora, Tecna and Midoriya flipped their omelettes, catching them successfully in their pans. Musa did hers next, throwing it upwards a little too hard. She would have missed it if she had not jerked her pan forward to catch it before it hit the floor. 

 

Finally, it was Bloom’s turn. Unfortunately, she tossed her pan upwards way too strong, sending her omelette right onto the blade of a slow-revolving ceiling fan.

 

“Oops…”

 

Sfoglia sighed, “Not that-a much passion.”

 

“I guess I’ll get a ladder?” Bloom offered.

 

“No worries,” Midoriya interjected, “I’ve got this.”

 

He raised his hand, sending up a stream of water-blue magic towards the fan. The magic pushed the omelette off the blade, allowing Midoriya to catch it with Bloom’s pan.

 

Sfoglia nodded approvingly, “At least-a not all hope is-a lost among the young. Now you lot-a should wrap-a up your project. I will-a be needing my kitchen back to cook-a dinner for the rest of the school. The headmistress will not-a be pleased if dinner is-a delayed!”

 

The chef left the kitchen without a word after that. The Winx returned to their workstations to continue peeling the remaining five hundred potatoes for the potion. Flora then went to one of the ovens, opening the lid, “The whipweed’s almost done.” She closed the oven and went to check on the mandrake roots.

 

It was also at that same moment did Stella finally show up.

 

“So, what’s the sitch in the kitch everyone?”

 

Tecna eyed the blonde severely, “The term ‘fashionably late’ can only be applied to social events, you know.”

 

“Yeah, well, I know I totally promised I would help out,” Stella replied airily, “But you’re just going to have to let me off with an excuse card today.”

 

“Oh yeah? What’s the excuse this time?” Bloom asked.

 

Stella produced a folded piece of paper, “I just got a last-minute invitation!”

 

Musa rolled her eyes, “To what? Another shoe of the month club?”

 

Stella continued unperturbed, showing the paper to her friends, “It’s from Prince Sky! He’s inviting me to some place called the Black Lagoon Café tonight!”

 

“That sounds really cool!” Flora gushed.

 

“The note’s hand-written too, talk about commitment!” Musa remarked.

 

“I’ve been trying to figure out what to wear,” Stella said, “But I realised I find myself desperate for a second, or maybe third, opinion!”

 

“Well say no more, Stella,” Bloom grinned.

 

“You girls go ahead,” Midoriya returned to the workstation, “I’ll watch over the ingredients, make sure they don’t burn or something.”

 


 

“You have another row back there?” Bloom was flabbergasted when Stella opened her wardrobe and pushed through the front line of clothes, “I don’t think that’s very fair, since the rest of us seem very meagre in comparison.”

 

To the side, Tecna wondered, “Doesn’t this guy lose points for asking you out on such short notice?”

 

Stella rifled through her wardrobe, “Yeah, but he gets bonus points for the formal invitation.”

 

Each girl went through the mountain of clothes that filled Stella’s wardrobe, trying to narrow down the options to what the blonde specified for her date. Through her search, Flora pulled out a form-fitting black dress.

 

“How about this one? It looks quite elegant to me.”

 

Stella scrutinised the dress critically, “For a funeral, perhaps. Definitely not for a date.”

 

“Then, do you mind if I borrow it some time?” the tanned brunette asked, “I don’t own that much black.”

 

Stella nodded distractedly, going back to her search. To the side, Tecna chuckled.

 

“Now I would love to hear the story behind this dress,” she pulled out a dress that certainly caught everyone’s attention. It was form-fitting, like the black dress Flora pulled out earlier, but it was a faded magenta, with dark blue triangles dotted haphazardly throughout. The collar, cuffs and skirt hem were lined with ruffled fabric dyed a lighter shade of blue, and stuck with dozens of sharp feathers.

 

“Where in the realms did you get that, Stella?”

 

“I designed it!” the blonde proclaimed proudly. 

 

The air suddenly turned awkward.

 

“Oh...well…” Tecna fumbled with her words, “It’s very…”

 

“Very what?” asked an oblivious Stella.

 

“Did Stella design that with a blindfold on? And perhaps drunk at the same time?” Musa confided to Bloom, who snorted quietly and went back to the wardrobe for further searching.

 

Sifting through the dresses, the redhead zeroed in on a light-blue dress with a pencil skirt and sleeves. She pulled it off the rack, “Hey Stella, what about this one?”

 

“It’s perfect!” Stella gushed, “Thanks a lot Bloom!”

 

Taking the dress, the blonde went behind a privacy screen to change into the dress.

 

“So will Brandon be there?” Bloom asked out of curiosity.

 

“No,” Stella replied from behind the screen, tossing her casual clothes over it, “Sky gave his servants the night off.”

 

For some reason, that deeply offended Bloom, “What?! Brandon is not Sky’s servant! The correct term is First Royal Squire!”

 

The other three eyed Bloom, before returning to Stella, who seemed to only partially acknowledge the redhead’s correction.

 

“Tell me what you think about these heels. Too intense?”

 

She stepped out from the screen, parading the enormous, pale-blue heels she had chosen.

 

“I guess it works?” Flora offered.

 

“They’re not intense, but they’re not very practical either,” Tecna remarked.

 

Stella didn’t seem to care, instead turning to Musa, “Musa, be a dear and bring over that green chest?”

 

“Why of course, your highness,” Musa snarked, going over to pick up the aforementioned chest. Turns out, it was extremely heavy, and Musa just managed to lug it over before her arms gave way, “What the fuck is in there? Gold bars?”

 

Stella opened the chest with her foot, “Nope, just a few accessories.”

 

Musa’s jaw fell open at the sheer number of jewellery. Flora echoed her shock, “Just a few…?”

 

Tecna turned to Bloom, “I don’t want to know what ‘a lot’ would look like.”

 

Stella rummaged through the mountain of jewellery, eventually settling on two rather clunky bracelets and a golden choker. After a bit of consideration, she removed her Solarian ring. She turned to Bloom, “Do you mind holding on to this for me?”

 

“You’re not going to wear it?” asked Bloom as she took the ring.

 

“Well, I tend to accidentally cast love spells when I wear it,” Stella explained, “And besides, I have a strong feeling that I wouldn’t need any magic tonight!”

 

She did a spin on her heel as her friends remained perplexed. Tecna put in, “I don’t understand, why do you let yourself get charged up about seeing some guy?”

 

“Plus, isn’t it safer if you have the means of protecting yourself?” Flora added, “I don’t doubt your capabilities Stella, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?”

 

“Trust me on this, Flora dear,” Stella brushed off, “Everything’s going to be a-okay!”

 

“Alright,” Musa shrugged, “If you say so!”

 

A ping and vibration reverberated from Bloom’s pocket. Pulling her phone out, she opened the message she just got from Midoriya.

 

GreenBoi: Whipweed’s done. All potatoes peeled too.

 

She quickly typed a reply.

 

FireGurl: Great! But how did you finish peeling the rest of the potatoes so quickly?

 

GreenBoi: Magic.

 

Bloom inwardly facepalmed, why didn’t they think of that earlier? 

 

That aside, she put away her phone, turning to the others, “Midoriya just texted. All the ingredients are ready.”

 

“Then we better start clearing the kitchen, we don’t want to get in trouble with Ms. G over delaying dinner,” said Musa.

 

“Have a great night, Stella!” said Flora as she and the others left.

 

“Thanks for helping!” Stella smiled, before going back to a mirror to check out her look once more.

 


 

Across the lagoon over at Cloud Tower, the Trix were once again up to their nefarious schemes as they headed for their dorm.

 

“How do we know for sure that Stella got the invitation?” Stormy asked.

 

Icy laughed, “Oh don’t you worry, Stormy dear. I know she got the invitation. Knut saw her jumping up and down and squealing in delight. Surely that sounds like that blonde airhead?”

 

Stormy nodded in assent. Darcy gagged, “Squealing? Oh that makes me want to puke!”

 

“Totally, love is so lame!”

 

Icy turned to her compatriots, “And you know why this plan rules? Because we are killing two newts with one stomp. Not only are we getting the Ring of Solaria once and for all, we are going to shatter a fairy’s heart beyond repair.”

 

Darcy and Stormy smirked viciously, “I do always love the sound of a pixie’s heart shattering,” the former cackled.

 


 

Back at Alfea, the Winx (sans Stella) safely brought the prepared ingredients in the recently-vacated Potions laboratory, allowing Sfoglia to prepare dinner for the school. In the meantime, they went about going through the final steps of preparing the potion, before bottling the finished product for assessment the next Monday. 

 

Then, out of the blue, Bloom suggested ingesting the potion to see if it actually worked as it said it would. There were still about two servings of the potion after bottling. The rest of the Winx seemed nonchalant about the idea, so after some discussion, it was agreed that Bloom and Midoriya would take the potion and see if the prescribed effects would take place. Plus, as Tecna added, it would be a good opportunity for extra credit if they submitted an essay about the practical experience with the potion alongside their sample. 

 

So Bloom and Midoriya downed their portion of potion, and together, the Winx went down for dinner. The final meal of the day would ultimately pass without incident, and if anyone noticed the lack of potato dishes on the tables that evening, no one made any comment about it.

 

Once the Winx had eaten their fill, they retreated back to their dorm for some quiet time before bed. Flora was tired after the long day, so she went to sleep first. The rest huddled around the television just to channel surf the programmes before turning in. 

 

Currently, the television was playing an episode of some cheesy soap opera, but not everyone was watching the drama unfold on screen.

 

“I mean, what is Riven’s problem?” Musa complained, “Why doesn’t ask me out like Sky did with Stella?”

 

Bloom and Tecna stared at her as if she had gone mad.

 

“What? I’m just saying...”

 

A door opened, and out stepped Midoriya, dressed in his pyjamas.

 

“Hey, what’s going on?” he asked.

 

“Musa wants to go out with Riven,” Tecna replied, switching the channels.

 

“Wait what?” Midoriya did a double-take, “Musa-san, are you serious? He was so fucking rude the other day! Not to mention he is misogynistic as hell!”

 

“What do you even see in him, Musa?” asked Bloom.

 

“Well, I heard some boys act like that when they are...crushing on someone,” Tecna put forward.

 

“But that is so childish,” Bloom pointed out, “It’s like they are no more than eight or something.”

 

“Plus, I don’t think Riven-san can crush on anybody,” Midoriya added, “He doesn’t possess the heart to even have a crush.”

 

Musa put in her two cents, “Well, okay, maybe it’s not Riven per se ...but I would like to go out with someone, anyone for that matter! Like have fun or something.”

 

“Understandable, Musa-san,” Midoriya nodded, “But you can do so much better than someone like Riven.”

 

“Still,” Musa tapped her lip, “Should I at least call him?”

 

“Why don’t you wait until tomorrow?” Tecna offered, “By then Bloom and Midoriya’s Good Judgement potion would have taken effect.”

 

A consensus was reached, and the four members of the Winx bade each other goodnight and retreated to their rooms for some well-deserved sleep.

 


 

The morning came, however, with a yell and a loud crash.

 

Bloom and Flora shot up from their beds, Kiko falling off from being startled awake.

 

“What’s that?” Flora hurriedly brushed her bed-head down.

 

Another loud yell echoed, followed by a series of expletives. More crashing noises followed, and what sounded like a frantic Midoriya.

 

“Stella-san! Please calm down!”

 

“What...the fuck?” Bloom was at a loss.

 

“Stella didn’t wake us up last night. I wonder how the date went?” Flora remarked.

 

Bloom quickly got up from her bed, “Evidently not too well,” another crash, and tinkling noises, “C’mon, let’s get the scoop.”

 

“Oh that reminds me Bloom,” Flora joined her roommate out, “Is the Good Judgement potion working?”

 

“I don’t know yet,” the redhead replied distractedly, “It’s supposed to be-”

 

“Stella-san, no! Put that down!”

 

Bloom was interrupted by the loud sound of something smashing to pieces. Across the room, Musa and Tecna poked their heads out of their door.

 

“Whatever that was, it sounded expensive!” Musa remarked.

 

Bloom approached the door, “Um...Stella? Is everything alright?”

 

Flora tried to interject, “I-I don’t think that’s a good decision…”

 

Just as Bloom was about to put her hand on the door, it flew open with a bang. An entire chest of jewellery came sailing out, forcing everyone to duck as it careened across the room and hit the opposite wall, bursting the lid and sending the jewellery raining down to the floor in a cacophony of metallic and crystalline noise.

 

As everyone reeled from the sudden assault, out stomped Stella, still dressed up from her date, with an absolutely feral snarl twisting her otherwise pretty features. The Winx flinched, taking a step away from the bestial blonde as she scanned the room like a lioness on the hunt. Without gracing them with a single word, Stella stomped out of the dorm, slamming the door hard behind her.

 

It took several moments for the witnesses to register what had just happened, courtesy of a groan coming from Stella’s room.

 

“Oh my god, Midoriya!”

 

The teen sauntered out, wincing. He had multiple bruises dotting his face and exposed skin, and pieces of jewellery hung haphazardly from his hair and ears.

 

“Are you alright?” Flora asked, rushing up to him.

 

“I...don’t know what happened,” Midoriya muttered, “I just woke up to Stella-san trashing the room. When I tried to get her to calm down, she started throwing things at me…”

 

“Wow, her date must have really sucked to send her flying into a temper,” Tecna opined.

 

“I wonder what happened though?” Musa wondered.

 

No one had any answers.

 


 

Eventually, the Winx decided to let things settle down before confronting Stella on what triggered such an explosive diatribe. So the normal routine was followed as best as everyone could, but concern for their blonde friend continued into the day.

 

As it was, they had another Metamorphosis 101 class with Professor Wizgiz today. This time, the lesson objective was to transform their heads into pumpkins and back again. The task proved to be a temporary distraction, as Midoriya found out, since it was quite an unusual feeling to have one’s head turned into a pumpkin, to see nothing but seeds and orange flesh yet still being able to somehow breathe.

 

“You all look fabulous!” Wizgiz remarked with satisfaction once everyone had gotten the transformation right, “Now it is time to return your heads back to normal. I want you all to focus on your original appearance, and say extremely clearly Decapadunkin . Let’s say it altogether now!”

 

Decapadunkin !”

 

The room shimmered with sparkles, and the pumpkins all turned back into the heads of the students. Except for one. 

 

“Professor Wizgiz! It didn’t work! What do I do?! What do I do?!

 

“Do not be alarmed, Ms. Millis,” Wizgiz reassured, “All this means ye are still thinking too much about the pumpkin.”

 

“I can’t help it!” Millis cried, “Please change it back!”

 

The diminutive professor tapped his finger against his chin, “A good scare ought to do the trick! Let me think…”

 

After a moment, Wizgiz snapped his fingers, and an ordinary white mouse appeared on his palm. Midoriya raised an eyebrow in curiosity, wondering if Millis was afraid of mice. At first, nothing happened. But then, the mouse produced an almighty roar like a lion. The entire class shrieked, Midoriya flinching at the sudden noise. Millis screamed the loudest, but the scare did the trick as prescribed. Her pumpkin shimmered, and morphed back into her head.

 

Wizgiz beamed triumphantly, turning to the mouse, “We’ll find the antidote one day, Grandpa. I promise.”

 

To the amazement of everyone, the mouse responded back in a deep voice, “Thanks Wizzy,” before jumping into the leprechaun’s pocket.

 

Moments later, the bell rang. 

 

As the class stood up and gathered their things, Wizgiz announced, “Don’t forget, everyone, that tomorrow we will be moving on to our first lesson on full-body transformation. You will all be turning yourselves into slugs!”

 

Midoriya bit back the slight nausea that attempted to breach his throat at the idea of turning into something as disgusting as a slug. As he slung on his backpack, he glanced at the empty desk diagonally behind him. Stella hadn’t shown up for any of the morning classes, which worried him to no end.

 

He was not alone.

 

“Stella must have been really bummed out to miss two entire classes,” Flora remarked as the Winx departed from the classroom.

 

“This won’t be good for her overall grade if she keeps this up,” Tecna added.

 

“Though you had to admit that Professor Nurlia looked a lot happier this morning,” said Musa.

 

The Winx continued on a few paces. Bloom and Midoriya glanced at one another, both nodding.

 

“Guys, something isn’t right with Stella,” the redhead got them to stop, “Midoriya and I are going to go check on her real quick.”

 

“Well, you two did take the Good Judgement potion after all,” Flora conceded.

 

“You do know that Palladium’s class starts in exactly three minutes, right?” Tecna interjected.

 

“We’ll be as quick as possible,” Bloom and Midoriya were already moving in the opposite direction towards the dorms, “Explain the situation to Palladium for us, please?”

 

The pair rushed through the hallways quickly, making it back to their dorm in record time.

 

“Stella?” Bloom called as she opened the door.

 

Both gasped at the sight before them.

 

The common room looked as if a tornado had just gone through it. Books and papers were thrown about indiscriminately, the TV was yanked out of its socket and lying face-down on the floor, possibly broken. The sofas were overturned, potted plants lay in pieces across the room, even the windows at the other end of the room were cracked, and the light fixtures dangled haphazardly, snapped from their wires.

 

“What the fuck happened here?” Midoriya muttered.

 

Bloom quickly entered the damaged room, “Stella? Are you in here?”

 

She opened the door to Stella’s shared room, finding it in a similar state as the common room - trashed and completely empty. Midoriya went to check on Bloom’s room, only to find it trashed as well. A look into Musa and Tecna’s room also showed an identical messy condition.

 

“Stella-san! This isn’t funny!”

 

Suddenly, the front door they had left ajar slammed shut. 

 

“Welcome to the party, Bloom and Midoriya.”

 

Both spun around. Stella was standing behind them, an unnerving smile gracing her features. Right away, Midoriya knew that something wasn’t right.

 

“We were worried about you,” said Bloom, “You missed two classes earlier.”

 

“Aww, how sweet,” condescension dripped from Stella’s sugary-sweet tone. Alarm bells began ringing in Midoriya’s head, “Now I’m looking for something and I need both your help.”

 

Despite his growing concern, Midoriya attempted to play along, “What is it exactly, Stella-sa-”

 

Suddenly, as if a switch was flipped, Stella lost whatever veil of patience she had and growled. She grabbed a chair sitting innocently nearby and threw it against the wall, where it splintered into pieces, “Midoriya, I am not in the mood!”

 

“Look Stella,” Bloom was getting irritated, “if your date didn’t go well, I’m sorry to hear that. But don’t take out your anger on -” 

 

The blonde interrupted, “I want to know where my ring is. And you two are going to help me find it. Right now!”

 

Midoriya had enough.

 

“No.”

 

A beat of silence.

 

“What...did you just say?” Stella asked as if not believing what he just said.

 

Midoriya got in between the two girls, “You heard me. We will not help you find the ring, whoever you are.”

 

“Stella” wanted to say something, when her face suddenly contorted as if she was trying to control herself. Suddenly, she was all sugary-sweet and calm again, “What do you mean, Midoriya? Of course I am Stella, your roommate!”

Midoriya’s eyes flashed a sheen of red, “A likely story, you motherfucking imposter!”

 

He threw his hand forward, and fired a powerful blast of water at “Stella”, which hit and sent the blonde flying backwards through a door with a shriek.

 

“Midoriya! What are you doing?!” Bloom exclaimed.

 

“That is not Stella-san!” he replied back, “Stella-san does not act like that, even when - ”

 

Midoriya was interrupted by “Stella” reappearing, looking absolutely feral. Out of nowhere, the blonde fired a ball of sickly-purple energy at the pair, forcing them to duck as it blasted a hole through the door behind them. Midoriya quickly fired another blast of water, which intercepted a second ball of purple energy, causing it to fizzle out. “Stella” screamed and fired a third ball, which Bloom hastily blocked with a wall of fire. 

 

Then came familiar voices rushing towards the front door.

 

“They’re in there!”

 

“Hurry!”

 

Suddenly, the door burst open, and in rushed Flora, Musa and Tecna. “Stella” snarled at their interruption, and to everyone’s shock, her body turned a translucent purple and she dashed for the window, crashing through it and sending a shower of glass falling in. Everyone quickly rushed out of the window onto the balcony, just in time to see the purple form of “Stella” fleeing out of the school grounds.

 

“What’s gotten into her?” Flora was confused.

 

“Where did she get those powers?” Musa wanted to know.

 

“Did she throw that chair at you guys?” asked Tecna.

 

“No,” Bloom shook her head, “she threw it against the wall. She did fire some weird energy balls at us though.”

 

“Why is she being such a fuddy?” Flora wondered.

 

“That’s because that was not Stella-san,” Midoriya interjected, “Someone was masquerading as her.”

 

“But how do you know that, Midoriya?” asked Musa.

 

“I believe it’s the Good Judgement potion working its effects,” he replied, “And also I’m her roommate. I know her mannerisms and how she shows her emotions. She does not act like those stereotypical evil witches from Cloud Tower, which was how that imposter was presenting herself as.”

 

The Winx eyed one another in consideration.

 

“There you all are.”

 

They all jumped when Palladium suddenly appeared by the doorway, “My goodness, your common room is in a mess! What happened here?”

 

“Professor, what are you doing here?” asked Tecna.

 

“You all were taking too long to return to class,” Palladium entered the room, “But none of you answered my question though, and where is Stella?”

 

Midoriya stepped forward, “Professor Palladium, Stella-san, or rather someone impersonating as Stella-san, caused the damage to our dorm.”

 

“W-What?”

 

“Whoever was impersonating Stella was looking for the Ring of Solaria, which is currently in my possession,” Bloom added, “Professor, we think Stella might be in danger. She hasn’t been seen since yesterday, and I think whoever was impersonating her might have kidnapped her.”

 

Palladium rubbed his chin, “This is very concerning. I’ll bring this up to Headmistress Faragonda immediately. In the meantime, I want you all to head to class right now.”

 

“Yes, Professor,” the Winx assented together.

 


 

It was a difficult class to sit through - though not academically, more about trying to pay attention to Palladium’s teaching while pushing the anxiety about Stella’s well-being into the back of their minds - for the Winx. The final bell couldn’t come fast enough, but just before the Winx could leave, Palladium held them back for a moment to let them know that Faragonda was investigating Stella’s disappearance.

 

But for the Winx, especially Midoriya, that wasn’t enough.

 

“But how do we go about looking for Stella?” asked Musa as they returned back to their dorm.

 

“How about we start with the facts that we do know?” Tecna suggested, “We know that Prince Sky invited Stella out to a date at the Black Lagoon Café yesterday. So perhaps we should contact Sky and ask if he knows what happened?”

 

“So, swing by to Red Fountain?” Bloom offered.

 

“I have Rykios-san’s number,” Midoriya pulled out his phone, “We can call him and see if we can get Sky-san on the line.”

 

Everyone agreed, and Midoriya punched in the specialist’s number. A few ringtones later, Rykios picked up, amidst a background of grunting and iron being pumped.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Rykios-san, this is Midoriya.”

 

“Hey, what’s up?”

 

“Is Sky with you right now? I need to talk to him urgently.”

 

“One second.”

 

There were a few moments of audio interference, before it cleared up with a new voice.

 

“Hey Midoriya! What can I do for you?”

 

“I was wondering how did your date with Stella-san go? Did she seem off when you two parted ways?”

 

“Huh? What date?”

 

Midoriya grew even more worried, “I’m confused, didn’t you ask her out to a date yesterday?”

 

“I don’t quite know what you’re referring to, Midoriya. Ever since the troll incident back at the swamp, me and the guys haven’t been allowed to leave campus at all. Though it’s not like I wouldn’t ask her out, but we can’t afford to get into any more trouble with Codatorta as it is.”

 

“Can you put Rykios-san back on?” asked Midoriya.

 

The phone was passed again.

 

“Rykios-san, is it true that you and the others were not allowed off Red Fountain because of the troll?”

 

“That’s correct, Midoriya.”

 

The teen hummed, “Alright, thanks Rykios-san. Sorry to bother you and Sky.”

 

“No trouble.”

 

After that, the line was cut. Midoriya pocketed his phone, “I just confirmed that Sky has no idea where Stella-san is. He and the others were not allowed off the Red Fountain campus ever since the troll incident.”

 

“Which that means no such date happened,” Bloom surmised.

 

“So someone lured Stella into a trap,” Flora added.

 

“And this Black Lagoon Café is the likeliest location where the kidnapping happened,” Musa concluded.

 

“What do we know about this café?” Midoriya wondered.

 

“I could check my search engine,” Tecna offered.

 

Midoriya nodded, and Tecna got to work, pulling out a small electronic device, and began typing. A few minutes passed, and the overhanging worry worsened at the increasingly-perplexed look on Tecna’s eyebrows.

 

“What’s the matter?” asked Flora.

 

“Strangely, my search engine is drawing a blank,” Tecna looked up, “I tried different search terms and combinations, but there have been no results.”

 

“Truly suspicious,” Musa remarked.

 

“Well, since we have the rest of the afternoon off, why don’t we head down to Magix?” Bloom suggested, “Maybe it’s a super obscure café that just opened and therefore hasn’t made its online debut yet?”

 

At this point, it was the only lead they had left, so everyone agreed and made to catch the next levi-bus to downtown Magix.

 


 

The ride was uneventful, as was the subsequent search. The Winx asked random people going about their business if they knew of a Black Lagoon Café in the city. Everyone they asked shook their heads, saying that they hadn’t even heard of such an establishment. Eventually, after running around the city for well over an hour, the Winx seemed to reach a dead-end and collapsed together on a sidewalk.

 

“My feet are killing me,” Flora groaned.

 

“I just don’t understand,” Bloom rested her chin in her palm, “How could no one have ever heard of such a place?”

 

“Some things aren’t adding up,” Tecna remarked, “We have a fictitious location that doesn’t exist, but Stella must have disappeared somewhere. What are we missing here?”

 

No one had any answers. 

 

“Hey! I heard you guys were looking for the Black Lagoon Café!”

 

All eyes turned to the unexpected arrival - a rather overweight man with a weird hairstyle and glasses.

 

“Wow man that joint is the hippest hit, you know what I’m saying? It’s like totally underground, you guys have got to check it out!” 

 

The Winx turned to one another in excitement, though Midoriya felt something was off about the man.

 

“Though...maybe you’re not cool enough to get in…”

 

“What? No! We’re cool!” Bloom quickly got up.

 

“Yeah! We rock!” Musa added, “We’re hip when hip wasn’t hip! Now c’mon, you’ve got to tell us where this place is!”

 

The man chuckled, “Hey I just had to make sure, you know how it is! You guys are alright! So just shoot down the street there,” he pointed to the road behind the Winx, “follow it out of town, cross the river, and then you’re there! It’s a little cottage next to an orange oak tree.”

 

“Awesome!” Bloom cheered, turning around, “Thank you so-”

 

She and the others did a double-take as the man they had just spoken with had disappeared into thin air. Midoriya felt the inner unease in his stomach surge a little.

 

“Where did he go?” Flora wondered.

 

“I have no idea…” Tecna muttered.

 

“I...guess that’s how hipsters leave - without saying goodbye,” Bloom eventually came forth, “C’mon, let’s get going you guys.”

 

The Winx turned to move towards their destination, though Midoriya lagged behind a bit to give the spot where the man once stood a final pensive look. He then hurried after the girls, just missing the same man peeking out from around the corner, chuckling menacingly.

 


 

“Perhaps we should have taken the bus or something,” Musa huffed, wiping the sweat from her brow.

 

“I don’t think any of the buses go the direction we are heading,” Midoriya replied.

 

It took a while for the Winx to leave Magix behind and arrive at the outskirts as the man had pointed them towards. By the time they reached the river, it was approaching evening, and the sun was already dipping towards the horizon. 

 

“Awesome! Looks like the guy’s directions were right!” said Bloom.

 

Tecna, like Midoriya, was doubtful, “Potion or no potion, I still feel this isn’t a good idea.”

 

Bloom continued, “Well, there’s the orange oak tree.”

 

“And this must be the Black Lagoon Café,” Flora remarked as the group approached the quaint cottage, which looked very cozy and welcoming, “It’s precious, but…”

 

“Hey Tecna, when we get back to Alfea, you should update your search programme,” said Musa.

 

Tecna sniffed haughtily, “My search programme works fine, thank you very much. It’s this place that isn’t right.”

 

“I agree with Tecna,” Flora assented, approaching the oak tree, “This place feels very...very wrong.”

 

She placed a hand on the tree’s bark, and shuddered painfully.

 

“What’s the matter, Flora?” asked Bloom.

 

“This tree isn’t giving a life force, it’s...it’s dead. And it’s been that way for a very long time.”

 

“Are you sure?” Musa asked.

 

“Positive,” Flora nodded.

 

Suddenly, the cottage’s front door burst open, and a powerful wind escaped and swirled wildly around the area, kicking up clothes and sending hair flying in all directions. As the Winx struggled against the wind, the orange leaves on the tree were whipped away and the surroundings began to morph.

 

“There’s a change in the reality pressure!” Tecna shouted over the noise, “That means there’s an illusion spell lifting!”

 

As quickly as it came, the wind disappeared. The world was vastly different now. What was once a sun-lit glade was now a dark, misty swamp. The oak tree had become its true form, dead and rotten with time, and the once quaint cottage had literally become a polar opposite of itself - run-down, cracked or smashed windows and a sagging roof that looked like it was about to cave in at any moment.

 

“I’d dig the illusion better,” Musa shivered against the sudden drop in temperature.

 

“Yeah…” Bloom agreed.

 

“I think we should be on our guard,” said Midoriya.

 

“We should,” Tecna nodded, “I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.”

 

“Well there’s no turning back at this point, Stella’s probably inside this place,” said Bloom as she led the group into the cottage.

 

The interior was in an equally-dismal state as the exterior. Dust and cobwebs coated the room, the walls had large, jagged cracks running through them, and what little furniture there was in the room were broken and tossed about the place. Bloom took a deep breath, and pressed further inside. Suddenly, something moved further inside the dark emptiness of the room, startling Bloom and making her take several steps back.

 

“Did you guys see that?”

 

Everyone nodded.

 

“For the record, who’s bright idea was it to come in here again?” asked Tecna.

 

“Do...you think we should get out of here?” Flora whimpered.

 

“Well if Bloom and Midoriya said this is the right place, then this must be the place” Musa replied, glancing up when the ceiling started producing noises, “Did...you guys…?”

 

“Yeah, it came from up there!” said Tecna.

 

“Well, it’s about time you showed up.”

 

Everyone turned to the new voice.

 

“Stella!”

 

Suddenly, the open door behind the Winx slammed shut, and the unmistakable sound of a lock clicking into place echoed.

 

“No! It’s not Stella-san!” Midoriya reminded, “It’s whoever is impersonating her!”

 

“What do you mean, Midoriya?” “Stella” cooed, “Of course I am Stella!”

 

“You’d be a motherfucking idiot if you think you can pull that same trick twice on me!” Midoriya growled, throwing his hand forward and firing a blast of water.

 

“Stella” dodged, and her smirk grew even more dastardly, “Now, if you lot don’t mind, I’m going to take my ring back. Then I’ll teach you little pixies a lesson you’ll never forget!” Then, she began to rise and hovered over them dangerously.

 

“Not on my watch!” Midoriya snarled, “MAGIC WINX!”

 

In a flash of light, he was in his fairy form. Fluttering his wings, Midoriya flew up to “Stella”’s level and fired more blasts of water. These connected with balls of purple energy that “Stella” fired in retaliation and cancelled them out, while others that weren’t hindered shot straight towards the girls still on the ground, forcing them to scatter. Bloom grabbed Flora and hid behind a cracked pillar, while Tecna and Musa took refuge behind an overturned, mouldy sofa. Midoriya and “Stella” continued to duke it out, giving the girls below time to formulate a plan.

 

“We’ve got to help him!” said Bloom, “Everyone, let’s transform!”

 

“MAGIC WINX!”

 

In their fairy forms, the girls flew into the battle. Tecna provided electronic shields that protected the Winx from stray energy balls, while the others fired their own attacks against “Stella”. With five on one, “Stella” was quickly overwhelmed, as each attack of water, fire, plants and music eventually forced her down.

 

Midoriya landed before the blonde, “The real Stella-san will never call us ‘pixies’. That means whoever you are, you are clearly one of the Trix. So tell me, who are you really? Icy? Darcy? Or Stormy?”

 

“Stella” slowly got up, and the Winx readied themselves for another attack. Instead, “Stella” cackled, clapping her hands slowly.

 

“You are quite perceptive, I’d give you that.”

 

Midoriya’s scowl deepened when “Stella”’s features began morphing into that of Darcy’s. 

 

“And here’s your prize.”

 

Two beams of blue and magenta light shone down, and Icy and Stormy respectively appeared by their fellow witch’s side.

 

“Wait! Wait!” the man from before suddenly came towards the Trix, “Change me back! Change me back!”

 

Darcy smirked, “Certainly, Knut.”

 

She waved her hand, the clouds of dark purple dust shot out from the man, transforming back into the ugly form of Knut.

 

“What have you bitches done to Stella?!” Bloom demanded.

 

Icy cackled, and raised a hand, “She’s right here.”

 

Up suspended in the air surrounded by magenta rings, appeared Stella. The rings appeared to be shrinking around her, squeezing her tighter by the second.

 

“Oh no!”

 

“I’m...s-so sorry everyone…” Stella strained out, “The w-witches tricked me!”

 

“Hang in there, Stella!” Flora cried.

 

“You better let her go!” Musa growled.

 

“Oh we will,” Icy nodded, “Just as so long you give us the Ring of Solaria. And you better hurry, for the longer you delay, the tighter the restraint coils will become.”

 

“She’ll pop like a big fat zit,” Darcy added.

 

“And she will splatter all over the walls,” Stormy finished.

 

Midoriya’s eyes disappeared behind the bloody sheen of red. The power within him surged.

 

“Over your dead body!”

 

Before anyone could stop him, Midoriya threw out a hand and pulled .

 

Stormy screamed, collapsing to the floor in writhing agony as streaks of red appeared over her exposed skin, blood being drawn out of every possible orifice and swirling towards Midoriya. The Winx gasped in horror at the macabre sight before them, and Knut took a few steps back. Rushing to save her fellow witch, Icy sent a wave of icicles towards Midoriya, who destroyed them with a powerful explosion of water. Keeping one hand on Stormy, he fired an almighty geyser of water that blasted the witch of ice back into a wall with a loud crash. Knut rushed to attack Midoriya, but Flora, having snapped out of her stupor, quickly incapacitated him with vines that burst from the floorboards and captured him.

 

Realising she was the only one currently standing, Darcy quickly sought out the goal of their plan.

 

Magnetic Shot !”

 

Purple light glowed from her hands, and in an instant, the Ring of Solaria was yanked from Bloom and into her grasp.

 

“NO!” the redhead cried.

 

“I got the ring!”

 

Midoriya snapped his head around, concentration broken. Stormy’s blood splashed all over his head and body, which coupled with his feral growl, made him look really monstrous. With a loud yell, he threw out his hands and unleashed what could only be described as a flood of water at Darcy, as the ominous cry of a phoenix echoed. The witch of darkness screamed as the water hit her, knocking the ring out of her fingers and throwing her to the side. The water filled the room up to everyone’s ankles, the ring seemingly lost in the deluge. 

 

“Midoriya stop!” Bloom tried to reach out to him.

 

But the teen could not be stopped. Icy and Darcy tried to attack him, but he held his ground with a quick succession of water attacks and disorientation by encasing their heads in spheres of water. It was during these moves that the battle took a completely different turn.

 

Icy and Darcy had lost their sense of comprehension with water shrouding their eyes and noses. They stumbled about, trying to free themselves and to breathe again, not realising they were stepping closer and closer to where the ring was hidden.

 

Then came the sound of stone breaking.

 

It was loud, so everyone heard it. Midoriya stopped his attacks, and the water drained away from the floor and from the witches’ heads. Icy stepped back, revealing the shattered remnants of Stella’s ring. The Winx gasped. The pieces glowed, before a beam of light arched upwards and shot into Stella, breaking the binds around her and enveloping the blonde in a halo. Stella fell to the floor in a heap once the glow faded.

 

“No! The ring!”

 

Icy dropped to her knees and scooped up the pieces, but it was too late. The ring had been destroyed.

 

“No! NO! This can’t be happening!”

 

The witch of ice turned to glare at Midoriya, “This is all your fucking fault! You’ll pay for this!”

 

She made to attack him, but Midoriya simply shot his hands out and pulled again. 

 

Icy screamed, and crumpled to the floor as her own blood was also pulled from her body. The force of the blood being yanked out was so strong that it fractured many of Icy’s bones. She screamed herself hoarse, edging closer towards the Reaper’s beckon, had it not been for Darcy firing a ball of energy at Midoriya, forcing him to break the pull and inadvertently sparing Icy’s life. Moving quickly, Darcy lugged her two barely-conscious friends and called for Knut. The ogre quickly rushed to his mistress’ side, just as a sickly-purple light burst from Darcy, and pulled all four away before fading into nothing.

 

Nobody moved for a second, before a groan from Stella got everyone’s attention.

 

“Oh my god! Stella!”

 

Musa, Flora and Tecna rushed to their blonde friend. Bloom was about to join them when she noticed Midoriya teetering, before falling in a heap to the floor.

 

“Midoriya!”

 

Bloom rushed to her fallen friend, while Tecna took charge of the situation, “We must get them out of here, immediately.”

 


 

There was no immediate rest for the Winx once they managed to get back to Alfea when Faragonda and Palladium found them not too long after. After Stella and Midoriya were sent to the infirmary and placed under the care of Nurse Ofelia, the remaining girls were brought to the Headmistress’ Office to be questioned on what happened at the cottage.

 

It would be over an hour later, after recounting everything that happened down to the details, before the Winx were finally released with a warning to not attempt such a reckless act ever again. 

 

By now, everyone was exhausted, only wanting to eat dinner and retreat back to their dorm for much-needed rest.

 

Though, Tecna still had a few things to say before everyone could call it a day.

 

“You know, I’ve been thinking.”

 

“What’s up?” asked Musa.

 

“Even though Midoriya and Bloom were the ones to take the Good Judgement potion, I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a better option if we had given the Trix the ring. Perhaps Stella and Midoriya wouldn’t be spending the night in the infirmary.”

 

Bloom sat up from the sofa, “While that would have been an easy way, I think we need to also keep in mind the repercussions of such an action.”

 

“Like what?” Flora asked.

 

“If the Trix were to take the ring, our first reaction would be to get it back right?” Everyone nodded at that, “The thing is, we’d be breaking into Cloud Tower in a search for the ring. I don’t want to imagine all kinds of rules we’d be violating and the danger we’d be facing there. And besides, Stella and Midoriya are only spending the night as a precaution. I believe it would be much worse if we had infiltrated Cloud Tower.”

 

Tecna steadily nodded, “You have a point there, Bloom.”

 

Silence followed, as attention shifted back to what was on TV. 

 

“Actually, there’s something I’ve also been wondering too,” said Musa out of the blue.

 

“What is it?” asked Flora.

 

“Why were the Trix so damn obsessed with taking Stella’s ring? Like I’d get it if it carries great power and all, but why the ring specifically? Surely there are other powerful artefacts out there they could attempt to get their splotchy, clawed hands on.”

 

The four fell into deep thought.

 

Then Tecna yawned, “Well I’m sure there must be a specific reason for them to do so. But I think we can all agree that now isn’t the time to investigate such matters.”

 

Everyone agreed on that, so the TV was turned off, and the Winx departed for their rooms to sleep off the night.

 

It had been an eventful day, and crashing onto beds seemed very attractive at this point.

 


To Be Continued.


 

Chapter Text

Stella was understandably distraught when she was told that her ring was destroyed the day before. 

 

“We’re really sorry about it, Stella,” said Bloom, as she tried to comfort her.

 

“Yeah, it was totally an accident,” Musa added, “We didn’t mean for it to be crushed by those witches.”

 

Stella sniffed, and wiped the tears from her eyes, “I-It’s okay you guys, I don’t blame anyone of you for what happened.”

 

“But it was a priceless artefact, passed down your family for generations! How will your parents take the news?” Bloom asked.

 

“I’m pretty sure Daddy’s going to be furious,” Stella admitted, “But I don’t think he’s going to take it out on me. He’s a very understanding person.”

 

“I sincerely hope so,” Musa bit her cheek.

 

At the same moment, Flora and Tecna entered the infirmary.

 

“Any luck?” asked Bloom.

 

Flora shook her head, “No, it's as if he doesn’t want to be found.”

 

“You know, to be honest, I can’t really blame him,” Tecna admitted.

 

“Why?” asked Musa.

 

“Do you remember the first time we saw him covered in blood?” Tecna asked, and when everyone nodded, she continued, “We didn’t know how he came to such a state. But yesterday, we were all present when he literally pulled the blood out of Icy and Stormy. If I want to be very honest, it was extremely unsettling to see such gore happening in front of my eyes. He probably remembered what he did when he regained consciousness, and thought it was best if he kept his distance for supposedly traumatising us. If I were in his position, that would have been a logical decision.”

 

Bloom was quick to jump to Midoriya’s defense, “Even so, it’s not like the Trix didn’t deserve it! They threatened to kill Stella if we didn’t hand over her ring.”

 

“But there was so much blood though…” Flora shuddered at the memory.

 

“I think we should all take a step back here,” Musa interjected, “There is no doubt that we are all affected by the Midoriya’s gruesome torture of the Trix. But, and I want everyone to be very honest here, does this change the way we see Midoriya?”

 

The Winx all glanced at one another.

 

“This doesn’t change how I see Midoriya as a person and a friend,” Bloom said first, “Bloody or not, he is not a monster to be reviled.”

 

“I’m with Bloom on this,” Stella went next, “I don’t care what Midoriya did. The fact of the matter is, I was saved thanks to his and everyone’s actions yesterday. If anything, this totally bumps up my view of him as a friend and roommate!”

 

“What about you, Flora and Tecna?” asked Musa.

 

The tanned brunette swallowed, steadying herself, “What he did terrified me, but I firmly want to believe he is still the good friend that we spend time with together, share jokes with and learning to become true fairies with. And you’re right, Musa, he did it to save Stella.”

 

“It’s illogical to let superficial emotions get in the way,” Tecna remarked, “Midoriya only used this new blood-bending power to punish the Trix, not to hurt us. And I’m significantly certain that he will never use such painful torture on us no matter the disagreement or conflict. Shunning him is not only stupid, but potentially dangerous if we consider all the possible factors.”

 

“Then I think we should all go look for him,” Bloom declared, “We need to make it clear to him that we are still his friends and we don’t think any differently about him.”

 

“But where do we start?” asked Flora, “Tecna and I have checked pretty much the entire campus for him.”

 

The Winx eyed one another.

 

“What do people do to take their minds off of things?” asked Tecna out of the blue.

 

“I guess they do the things they love?” Musa replied.

 

“Midoriya loves to hang out at the library…” Stella recounted, “And perhaps the gym?”

 

“We just came back from the library,” Flora said, “He wasn’t there.”

 

“Then we should check the gym,” Bloom concluded, “If he isn’t there, then we’ll split up. Hopefully we can cover more ground that way.”

 


 

Together, the Winx arrived at the Alfea gym. Judging from the lack of noise, their initial thought was that it was empty. But upon stepping inside, everyone quickly noticed a familiar green-haired teen sitting at the other end of the gym, near a rack of dumbbells doing bicep curls, completely unaware that his privacy had been broken.

 

Bloom glanced at her friends, and nodded. Leading the group, they approached their fellow Winx carefully.

 

“Hey, Midoriya.”

 

Said teen jumped, almost dropping the dumbbell. But when he turned around to face the one who called him, all the blood drained from his face and his eyes became stricken.

 

“B-Bloom-san…”

 

“We were looking for you,” the redhead made sure she had a reassuring aura.

 

“I-I see,” Midoriya swallowed, quickly putting the dumbbell back onto the rack, “Well...I should get going then…”

 

He tried to move past the Winx, but Bloom stopped him, “Midoriya please, tell us what’s wrong. We promise that we are not angry with you or anything.”

 

Midoriya had an uncertain look, “You sure…?”

 

The Winx all nodded resolutely, though no one expected Midoriya to suddenly release the waterworks, “I-I thought y-you all repulsed me. I o-only realised that e-everyone saw w-what I did t-to the Trix w-when I woke up i-in the i-infirmary a-and overheard Nurse Ofelia t-talking with H-Headmistress Faragonda a-about it. I-I thought n-none of you would w-want anything to d-do with m-me because I a-allowed myself to a-act so monstrously. I t-thought - ”

 

Midoriya was cut off when Bloom suddenly hugged him, “No! None of that is true! Midoriya, don’t think for a second that is true! We don’t think any differently with you. You are still our friend, and that’s all that matters.”

 

“Totally true!” Stella added, throwing herself into the hug, “You saved my stupid ass and taught those horrible bitches a lesson they’ll never forget! A little bit of blood ain’t gonna change anything between us!”

 

Musa, Flora and Tecna quickly joined the hug. Surrounded by the care of his friends, Midoriya smiled wobbly, tears threatening to spill again, “You guys...I really don’t deserve you all.”

 

“Oh hush, just be loved by all of us,” Musa chuckled.

 

Any doubt left behind was quickly flushed away, and Midoriya was basked in his friends’ supportive warmth, reminding him firmly that he truly deserved them all in his life.

 


 

Like always, life re-settled into a new normal after that little hiccup.

 

Well...almost normal.

 

The day after the Winx reaffirmed their strong friendship, Midoriya was called to the Headmistress’ Office during the middle of potions class. Entering with a budding trepidation that he had done something wrong, Faragonda welcomed him in, reassuring the trembling lad that he was not in trouble. Instead, she wished to discuss with him about his blood-bending powers.

 

The entire meeting would take almost an hour. Faragonda asked several leading questions, and Midoriya responded truthfully. After some consideration, the headmistress came to the conclusion that such deadly power was only triggered under particularly strong negative emotions. While she couldn’t test this theory without potentially endangering a life, Faragonda instead focused her attention on how to mitigate the possibility of accidental outbursts.

 

In the end, she proposed weekly sessions where she will guide Midoriya on how to control negative emotions better, thus giving him a stronger hold over the blood-lust swirling in the deepest recesses of his mind.

 

Midoriya readily agreed to this.

 

When she released him, it was lunch-time, so Midoriya went to join the Winx at the first-year table. Reassuring them about his meeting with Faragonda was nothing to worry about, he took his seat and the conversation shifted in a different direction.

 

“Actually, remember that question I asked last night?” Musa enquired.

 

“What question?” Tecna asked, swallowing her food.

 

“The one about why the Trix were so desperate to get their dirty fingers on Stella’s ring?”

 

“Oh yeah, that.”

 

“I’m curious too,” Flora added.

 

“Do you know why, Stella-san?” asked Midoriya.

 

“I...actually have no clue, to be honest,” the blonde put her fork down, “All Daddy told me was that the ring was passed down from the first Queen of Solaria to her daughter, the first Princess and heir to the throne. And that only princesses are able to wear it and utilise its full power.”

 

“Maybe the library has some clues?” Bloom suggested.

 

“We do have a free period before Professor Pachola’s lesson,” Tecna remarked, “We better make full use of it.”

 


 

“Here it is again,” Bloom noted, her eyes catching on a page in the thick tome she was reading.

 

The Winx all looked up from their books.

 

“Well, don’t leave us hanging girl,” Musa pushed, “Tell us the 4-1-1.”

 

“Okay,” Bloom nodded, “According to the book, the ring is so powerful because it was forged directly from the energy released by a sun during solar flares, which the realm of Solaria uses as its main power source. However, what’s really interesting is that some scholars say the ring is extra unique because it’s made of the same cosmic power that created these two legendary creatures called the Great Dragon and the Mystical Phoenix.”

 

She turned to Stella, “Do you know about this?”

 

“Well yeah,” the blonde nodded, “I know all about the solar flare stuff, but the other stuff makes me think I should have it reappraised.”

 

“I think the part about the Great Dragon and the Mystical Phoenix is the main reason why the Trix were after the ring in the first place,” Midoriya put forward.

 

“But what do we know about these two creatures?” asked Tecna.

 

“That’s the thing,” Bloom closed the tome, “When I looked up the Great Dragon and the Mystical Phoenix, all I found was a reference to a restricted book and it would only show me one four-line paragraph. It’s said that although there is no proof of this, and that it is only a myth, the Great Dragon is supposed to have created the entire magical dimension. However, there was no information about the Mystical Phoenix.”

 

The Winx glanced at one another, unsure of where to progress from there. 

 

Tecna checked her watch, “Whatever it is, we should put away the books now. We only have ten minutes before the start of Professor Pachola’s lesson. If we don’t hurry we’re going to be late.”

 

The books were put back into their original places, the Winx gathered their things and departed from the library. Bloom and Midoriya took the back of the group, where the latter noticed the redhead had a pensive look.

 

“Penny for your thoughts, Bloom-san?”

 

“I gotta find out more about this Great Dragon and Mystical Phoenix,” she replied, “Maybe there’s a way to convince that restricted book to let me read more than a paragraph.”

 

Midoriya was about to reply when an unfamiliar voice suddenly made the Winx stop in their steps, “The Great Dragon and the Mystical Phoenix?”

 

Everyone turned, stiffening as Faragonda approached the group.

 

“Y-Yes,” Bloom struggled to find her words, “W-We were researching about the Ring of Solaria, and they came up a few times in several books. W-We were curious about them, t-that’s all.”

 

Faragonda nodded serenely, “Come with me back to my office, Ms. Bloom and Mr. Midoriya. I might be able to tell you both something about what you seek.”

 

Bloom and Midoriya glanced at one another, before turning back to their friends. Tecna gestured for them to go, so the pair quickly chased after Faragonda, who was already some distance ahead.

 


 

“So what is it that you want to know about the Great Dragon and the Mystical Phoenix?” asked Faragonda as she and the two students sat down.

 

“Ever since the Ring of Solaria was destroyed,” Bloom began, “we wanted to know why the Trix were so desperate to get their hands on it.”

 

“And when these two creatures were mentioned,” Midoriya continued, “we believed that they were the key for the Trix’s motives. But we couldn’t find any other information other than that paragraph from the restricted book.”

 

“I understand your predicament, you two,” Faragonda steepled her hands together, “Even I don’t know the full contents of the book that you mentioned. However, at one point it did show me two chapters. From what it revealed to me, it described the beginning of the magical universe, which was created by an immense solar explosion. And from that fiery starlight an enchanted dragon was born. The dragon then used her fire to create all the different realms and planets that made up the dimension we know today.”

 

Bloom and Midoriya nodded.

 

“However, when these worlds were created, they did not immediately become the bearers of life that we see everyday. No, instead they were monstrous places - barren, cracked earth, hellish temperatures and volcanoes that were constantly erupting, spewing magma and poisonous gases into inhospitable terrains unsuitable for even the smallest life-forms to make their home. That was when the Mystical Phoenix was created. Born from a similar explosion of solar energy that created the Great Dragon, the phoenix is not the same as the fiery avian we know today. He was brought to life when a chunk of ice from the cold reaches of the universe melted with the fire to create water, which became his physical embodiment. The phoenix used his tears to cool down the fledgling worlds, allowing the beginnings of life to form and spread. At the end of their journey, the dragon and the phoenix arrived at a world that would become Domino, the centre of the magical universe. They made it their home, and eventually became one with the very planet itself.”

 

“Amazing…” Midoriya was awed.

 

“That is so cool!” Bloom exclaimed, “Where is Domino? Is it real?”

 

The temperature of the office suddenly plummeted, and Faragonda took on a sombre expression, “It was, Ms. Bloom. However, Domino doesn’t exist anymore.”

 

“W-What?” Midoriya gasped, “But how?”

 

The headmistress adjusted her spectacles, “It is said that a coven of evil witches went to Domino seeking the powers of the dragon and phoenix for themselves. When they failed to get them, they destroyed the entire planet.”

 

“Oh no!” Bloom cried.

 

“What about all the people?” asked Midoriya worriedly.

 

“We don’t know,” Faragonda admitted, “Though what is evidently clear is that Domino has remained empty and in ruins ever since that fateful day.”

 

Silence befell for a moment.

 

“Before I let you two go, I need to ask you, Ms. Bloom,” said Faragonda, “How did you get into the restricted section of the library?”

 

Bloom winced, thinking she might be in trouble, “I-I’m not entirely sure. I was just thinking about looking for information about the Ring of Solaria when the gates opened. Out of curiosity I went inside and the book came to me.”

 

Faragonda leaned back, eyes deep with understanding, “Then you were meant to go in.”

 

Bloom turned a questioning glance at Midoriya, who returned her confusion at the headmistress’ cryptid words with a clueless shrug. Then, the school bell rang.

 

“You two better hurry along,” said Faragonda, “I don’t want you to be late for your next class.”

 

“Thank you, Ms. Faragonda,” said Bloom, as she and Midoriya stood up, “And thank you so much for enlightening us.”

 

The headmistress nodded, and dismissed the two teens. Once they were gone, she stood up from her desk and walked to the window, gazing out with a deeply pensive look.

 


 

Bloom and Midoriya later passed on the revelations to the rest of the Winx in the privacy of their dorms when lessons finally came to an end for the day. While they were shocked and saddened about the destruction of Domino, the point of the matter was that they were still nowhere near to finding out the true motive of the Trix, or what the powers of the Great Dragon and Mystical Phoenix were - the Dragon Flame and the Phoenix Tears, as they dubbed it.

 

In the end, it was decided to put everything on hold for the time being. It was almost time for dinner, and there were other priorities such as a quiz on Practical Spells the next day that was worth a significant percentage of their grade. 

 

So life carried on for the Winx.

 

And across the lagoon at Cloud Tower, the same was happening for the Trix.

 

Icy and Stormy were still sore from their recovery after Midoriya’s blood-bending torture the day before, and were, naturally, in very foul moods. It didn’t help that they had to lie through their teeth to explain why they were in such near-death states, and the healer still eyed them with a little suspicion when they were dismissed.

 

“I hate this! I absolutely fucking HATE THIS!” Icy screamed.

 

“All that trouble only to have the ring destroyed, and getting our asses kicked,” Stormy whined, wincing from her aches, “Can this get any worse?”

 

“Actually, I don’t think so,” Darcy suddenly said, piquing the other two witches’ attention, “The ring may have been destroyed, but that doesn’t mean that the Dragon Flame and the Phoenix Tears we are seeking aren’t just infused in the ring.”

 

“And where do you suppose we should start looking for the source of these powers then?” Icy snapped.

 

“I might have an idea,” Darcy continued, holding down the urge to slap her fellow witch, “You know those Whisperian Crystals that we were given at birth? We could-”

 

“Ugh,” Stormy rudely interrupted, rolling her eyes, “You mean those useless children’s toys?”

 

“Can’t you come up with something better?” Icy demanded.

 

“If you would let me finish you motherfucking whores,” Darcy hissed, “We could use the crystals when they are connected to locate any great source of power, including the Dragon Flame and the Phoenix Tears.”

 

Icy and Stormy glanced at one another.

 

“Then why didn’t you say that earlier?!” Icy snapped.

 

Darcy growled, “You weren’t paying attention, you little bitch.”

 

“Alright, alright,” Stormy interjected before a fight could break out, “enough, let’s just focus on getting this done. And before we go, may I suggest we do it in the forest? There are too many power sources in Cloud Tower.”

 

“Good point,” Icy nodded, before turning to Darcy’s closet, “Knut!”

 

Said ogre tumbled out, releasing a cloud of noxious gas into the room, “W-What is it?”

 

The Trix gagged at the smell.

 

“Fumigate the room, and hurry up!” Icy ordered, “We’re going to the forest.”

 

“Y-Yes, your evilness! Right away!”

 


 

One week would pass without major incident. Stella slowly got accustomed to using magic without her sceptre, but having used it her entire life meant it took a lot of getting used to physically feeling magic for the first time in years. While her grades took a tumble during the Practical Spells quiz, the Winx were determined to not let their friend lag behind. Every day, they would practice utilising magic with Stella and run through the curriculum to help her catch up.

 

It was slow-going, but it at least helped the blonde to maintain a good foundation.

 

The Trix also seemed to keep their distance, though Midoriya wondered if it was only a matter of time before they attempted to strike again. If their actions in Stella’s kidnapping were any indication, not even blood torture is enough for them to learn their lesson.

 

Then came that particular Friday.

 

At breakfast, Faragonda suddenly stood up and called for the dining hall’s attention.

 

“Everyone, I have an important announcement to make, so please listen up,” she began, “With the exception of morning classes, all lessons in the afternoon will be cancelled for everyone today.”

 

There was a great whoop of cheers as all three year-levels, save for the Winx. As this set-up was similar to the time the first-years had that outdoor lesson in the Black Mud Swamp, they quietly waited for the other shoe to drop.

 

“However, as is a tradition every year at Alfea, each and everyone of you will be assigned a challenging task, that must be completed without the use of magic,” Faragonda continued.

 

The response was mixed. The first-years in particular looked aghast at the idea of doing something without magic, while the second and third-years seemed rather nonchalant about it, presumably having experience in such an exercise before.

 

“Ms. Griselda will facilitate the delegation of the tasks starting from the end of lunch time. The first-years are to see her first by dormitory at 1pm, second-years at 1:15pm, and third-years at 1:30pm. I hope everyone will do their part to take this seriously, for this is an important lesson for everyone that magic cannot be taken for granted. And, after all, I hear that there are multiple sales, concerts and events happening in Magix tonight. So if you all do a good job this afternoon, consider the evening your reward. That is all I have to say.”

 

Faragonda sat down, and conversation picked up again among the students.

 

“I wonder what we’re going to be doing?” Bloom wondered.

 

“Beats me,” Musa shrugged.

 

“I just hope it won’t be that difficult,” Stella pursed her lips.

 

Difficult or not would turn out to be very relative for the Winx when the afternoon rolled in and it was their turn to meet with Griselda. The head of discipline eyed the group with her typical stern severeness, which to the Winx’s credit, they did not flinch or wither under.

 

“For you all, your task would be to maintain the general upkeep of the classrooms, lecture halls and staircases,” she told them.

 

‘At least she didn’t tell us to clean the entire campus…’ Midoriya thought to himself.

 

“As Headmistress Faragonda said earlier, you will not be allowed to use magic in your task,” Griselda continued. She clapped her hands three times, and a swirl of magic was produced. Out of thin air, a series of brooms, mops, buckets, clothes, cleaning liquids and dustpans materialised. “These will be your work tools.”

 

Tecna raised an eyebrow, clearly haven’t seen such items before, “Huh, what strange objects…”

 

Midoriya and Bloom were mildly surprised that their tech-savvy friend had never heard of cleaning supplies before, but then rationalised that there were more high-tech methods of cleaning on Zenith. 

 

Tecna pulled out a device and began typing in it, hoping to get a better understanding of the tools presented to them, only for Griselda to push down the lid with a finger.

 

“I forgot to mention, you are not allowed to use technology either.”

 

“But why?” Tecna asked back.

 

“Don’t worry Tecna,” Musa chuckled, “Let us neanderthals teach you the ways of the past.”

 

That got the Winx, sans Tecna, laughing. Tecna scowled, “It’s not funny. You’re all being irrational.”

 

Griselda wasn’t affected by the joke, “Everyone, I will be conducting an inspection later this evening, and everything better be clean. Now get going.”

 


 

The Winx split up into two groups. Flora, Tecna and Midoriya went to clean up the staircases, while Bloom, Stella and Musa went to start with the lecture halls. They would meet up later to clean the classrooms together.

 

With the first trio, they went to the main atrium to get working. Tecna was still eyeing her bucket, broom and cleaning liquids with apparent confusion.

 

“Do you want us to show you how to do it?” asked Flora.

 

“No, that won’t be necessary,” Tecna shook her head, picking up her bucket and pouring out the contents, “I’m sure I’ll be able to figure out how to use these primitive instruments.”

 

“Are you sure?” Midoriya pushed, an amused grin appearing at the sight of Tecna putting the bucket onto her head like a hat.

 

“Of course!”

 

“Are you really, really sure you don’t want our help?” Flora had a teasing edge to her urging.

 

“Don’t worry you two,” Tecna replied firmly, “I can handle this situation.”

 

The fairy of technology picked up a broom, felt up the bristles, and to the amusement of Flora and Midoriya, raised it up and began brushing a painting that hung on the wall.

 

“See? I think I got it.”

 

“Oh yes,” Flora replied sarcastically.

 

With the irony completely going over Tecna’s head, she continued brushing the painting even harder, until suddenly, it was knocked off its hook and sent careening to the stairs below. There was a loud shattering of glass, and the splintering of wood. Midoriya sweatdropped at the ruined painting lying in pieces at Tecna’s feet.

 

“Oops...I may have done something wrong.”

 

Flora chuckled exasperatedly, “Do you want our help now?”

 

Tecna sighed, “I...suppose I do.”

 

Midoriya checked their surroundings, before releasing a stream of magic. The glass and frame re-pieced together, and the restored painting was levitated up to its original spot and left there as if nothing had happened.

 

“I can’t believe that we’re forced to do this!”

 

“Yeah totally! Why should we do this menial work anyway?”

 

“Did you hear that?” Flora asked her friends.

 

“That sounds like Dahlia and Amaryl,” Tecna replied.

 

Putting their cleaning equipment down, the trio hurried to the door and peered outside. True enough, it was Dahlia, Amaryl and another girl called Tamara from their class. Their own cleaning equipment lay haphazardly and abandoned off to the side.

 

“Why don’t we just leave this to the losers to finish? The Winx seemed so determined to get their jobs done anyway,” Tamara smirked.

 

“I like that idea,” Dahlia laughed, tossing the bucket she was holding to the side, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

 

The three girls quickly made a dash for the front gates across the courtyard, leaving Flora, Tecna and Midoriya to stare in disbelief and outrage.

 

“I can’t fucking believe them!” Tecna swore.

 

“I am truly at a loss for words,” Flora frowned.

 

“Flora-san...Tecna-san...I need you two to hold me back,” Midoriya growled, his eyes flashing red, “I will not be held responsible for what I do if you don’t.”

 

The two girls quickly grabbed the seething male and led him back into the atrium. They waited for the bubbling anger to cool down before letting go.

 

“I can’t believe that after so many incidents, Dahlia and her friends still haven’t learnt their lessons on being decent people!” Midoriya ranted.

 

Flora sighed, “I know, it’s a travesty.”

 

“Let’s just forget about them,” Tecna crossed her arms, “If Griselda finds out that they are skiving off, we’d better stay as far away from the coming explosion to not get caught in the crossfire.”

 

“But will Griselda only punish those three?” Midoriya pointed out, “What if she punishes the entire first-year cohort collectively?”

 

“Hmm,” Tecna rubbed her chin, “You do have a point there.”

 

“Maybe we should tell her,” Flora suggested, “That way we’d protect ourselves from the blame.”

 

Tecna and Midoriya assented to that.

 


 

Meanwhile, in one of the lecture halls, the other half of the Winx were hard at work cleaning the rows of seats.

 

With one notable exception.

 

“Stella, didn’t we agree that you were going to clean the floor?” Bloom wiped her brow, casting an irritated look at the prodigal blonde from her spot wiping down the seats.

 

“Just a sec, Bloom,” said Stella distractedly, too busy filing her nails, “I gotta get my nails just right.”

 

“Oh for fuck’s sakes, Stella!” Musa snapped, “How does getting your nails right equate to getting a job done?!”

 

“Well excuse you,” the blonde huffed, “I don’t want to break a nail.”

 

“We are breaking ours!” Musa was inching ever closer to losing her shit.

 

Bloom sighed, “Leave her alone, Musa. She’ll get to work when she’s ready. We’ll just do what we can in the meantime.”

 

The redhead uncapped a bottle of orange-coloured detergent and poured a generous amount into a bucket of water. Then Musa stomped over, “But that’s so unfair! Why should you do someone else’s work?”

 

“Alright! Alright!” Stella scowled, “I’ll do it. Just teach me how to clean the floor, ‘cause I’ve never had to do anything of the sort before- .”

 

The blonde was suddenly cut off when a splash of soapy water drenched her to the bone.

 

“H-Hey!”

 

The culprit, Bloom, smirked, “Sorry, could you repeat that?”

 

“Good one, Bloom!” Musa snickered.

 

“Oh yeah? Well I’ve got some for you too!” Bloom chuckled, throwing the rest of the water onto Musa, kicking off a water fight that would carry on for several minutes. Water was flung left, right and centre, shouts and squeals echoing as all three girls got soaked like drowned cats. 

 

Eventually, all three girls collapsed out of exhaustion. And that was how Flora, Tecna and Midoriya found them when they came to check on them several minutes later.

 

“Whoa, what happened here? A typhoon?” asked Tecna.

 

Stella came back to the world of the living, “Oh, nothing much. Just working something out, am I right?”

 

Bloom chuckled, “Yeah…”

 

“That’s right!” Musa sat up from her sprawled position over the lectern. Then she noticed the repressed angry look on Midoriya’s face, “Uh oh, I sense something happened on your end?”

 

Midoriya huffed hard, “Fucking Dahlia, Amaryl and Tamara decided to play hooky and run off to Magix instead of doing their fucking tasks.”

 

“Wait what?” Bloom started.

 

Flora wrapped a comforting hand on Midoriya’s shoulder. Tecna continued, “We brought this up to Griselda, and while she said she’ll deal with those three, she made us do their jobs as well.”

 

“What?! But that’s so unfair!” Stella exclaimed.

 

“Well somebody had to do it,” Flora sighed, “But still, what in the world did you three do here? This place is a wreck!”

 

“At this rate, we’ll never get this part of the job done,” Tecna remarked.

 

Stella suddenly had a brainwave, “Hey! What do you say we ask the Specialists to join us?”

 

“Yeah, we can do that,” Flora said, “And then when we get caught we’ll be grounded till we graduate.”

 

“Well I think it’s a great idea,” Bloom rebuffed, “They can help us with the cleaning!”

 

“But isn’t that cheating?” Tecna questioned, “And the whole grounding business?”

 

“No it isn’t,” Bloom shook her head, “Griselda said no magic or gadgets. She did not say no additional help.”

 

“We’re just taking advantage of her words,” Midoriya added, “If she tries to say otherwise, we can hit back by claiming she wasn’t specific about the rules in the first place.”

 

“Of course!” Stella agreed, “And when we’re done cleaning we can throw a nice party!”

 

“I thought you’d be interested in the sales happening in Magix?” asked Tecna with a raised eyebrow.

 

“I would be, if I hadn’t already gotten the clothes ahead of time,” Stella giggled, “Being the Princess of Solaria does have its perks, you know?”

 

“In that case, I think it’s a great idea!” Musa punched her fist into the air.

 

“Quick! Let’s call them to see if they are free,” said Flora.

 

“On it,” Midoriya nodded, whipping out his phone and typing in Rykios’ number.

 


 

Across the lagoon over at Cloud Tower, the students and staff were tucking in to dinner in the expansive, multi-levelled dining hall. It had a glass roof, and each level had multiple circular platforms where tables and chairs stood. Conversation echoed and overlapped each other, though some voices could be heard louder than others.

 

“Ugh!” Stormy groaned loudly, slamming her fist onto the table, “Those Whisperian Crystals were as good as trash!”

 

Several heads turned, including a pair of freshmen witches seated two levels below the Trix.

 

“Fear not, Stormy dear,” Icy smirked, “Though the crystals were not completely accurate, we did narrow down a possible source at Alfea.”

 

At the mention of the college of fairies, one of the freshmen witches, a shy girl with short burgundy hair named Mirta, looked up from her meal. Her friend, Lucy, also looked up, her attention piqued.

 

“But what if the Dragon Flame and the Phoenix Tears aren’t in Alfea?” asked Darcy.

 

“Then we’ll just trash the place,” Icy cackled, “Powers or not, we are still the three most powerful witches in the realm. Plus, it’s not like we’re not up to causing chaos wherever we go, am I right?”

 

Mirta didn’t like what she was hearing, and stood up.

 

“Why do we hate the fairies of Alfea so much? I mean that just sounds extremely petty and old-school.”

 

All eyes turned to Mirta, including the Trix. Icy sneered, “Who is this wet-behind-the-ears freshman talking to me?”

 

“I’m just saying,” Mirta pushed forward, “in some ways, I think Alfea’s kind of rockin’.”

 

A moment of silence.

 

Then Stormy snorted, and  burst out laughing - a cruel, derisive laugh. Like a row of dominoes falling, the other witches began laughing too. In a matter of seconds the entire dining hall (save for Lucy and the staff, who merely watched on with thinly-veiled contempt) was laughing at Mirta, who winced under the mocking response.

 

“Who let this wicca wannabe in here anyway?” Stormy pretended to wipe away tears, standing up and leering down at Mirta with a sickly-sweet tone, “You’re just so alternative, so cutting edge. Why don’t we open Pandora’s Box and love each other...not!”

 

Mirta felt the beginning of tears prick at her eyes.

 

“Aww, look at that,” Darcy lilted, “the poor thing is embarrassed.”

 

She clicked her fingers, and an indigo blob of matter appeared at Mirta and Lucy’s table. 

 

“Let me help you save face.”

 

Before Mirta or Lucy could react, the blob expanded and shot towards the former. It encircled Mirta’s head, cutting off her airflow. Falling to the floor, she scratched and grabbed at the blob, desperately trying to pull it off her before she suffocated. Lucy rushed to her friend’s side and tried to help.

 

“It’s not funny! She can’t breathe!”

 

Darcy clicked her tongue, “Stupid freshman, everyone knows that Goo Blob only lasts a minute.”

 

Sure enough, the glob vanished from Mirta’s head only seconds later, finally allowing her to breathe. As she coughed and hacked, Lucy was quick to help her up and sit her back down to compose herself.

 

“Attention witches! I have an important announcement to make!” the sudden echo of Headmistress Griffin’s voice silenced the raucous laughter as she appeared before the school, “Thanks to some bumbling fool the Magix Stadium has been double-booked for some wretched music concert that the fairies and specialists will be attending tonight. As such our ‘Money for Monsters’ fundraiser event has been forced to move to the Magix Elementary School auditorium, so plan accordingly!”

 

Griffin turned on her heel and disappeared, her grumblings about stupid fairies trailing as she went. The Trix turned to one another with devious glee.

 

“Tonight’s our night then,” Icy cackled, “With the entire school empty, it will be ours to destroy!”

 


 

Back over at Alfea, with the sun setting and most of the school (save for the Winx and a few stragglers who didn’t want to leave campus) in Magix spending a well-earned evening out, a certain band of Specialists came zooming in on their leva-bikes towards the front gates. Bloom and Stella were there to meet them, and bring the Specialists inside, while the rest got ready for their arrival.

 

Musa pulled out a mop from a bucket, and slapped it to the floor, “My philosophy is - everything goes better with music, even cleaning floors.”

 

Flora hit the play button of a high-tech music player, and an uptempo pop song began echoing throughout the atrium. It was also at the exact moment that Bloom and Stella led the Specialists in. Immediately, curiosity gave way to confusion.

 

“Wasn’t this supposed to be a party?” Riven groused.

 

“It will be,” Midoriya replied, coming forward with several mops in hand, “as soon as we finish cleaning. Head’s up!”

 

He tossed each Specialist a mop. Brandon caught his haphazardly, as did Timmy. Sky and Rykios caught theirs smoothly, the latter throwing a nod back at Midoriya. But Riven didn’t bother catching his, letting it clatter to the floor.

 

Midoriya eyed the fallen mop, “You know what?” He flicked the bird at Riven, “Fuck you too.”

 

Flora turned the volume wheel, “Let’s crank it up!”

 

Musa spun her mop, “And get this cleaning party started!”

 

What followed was something akin to organised chaos. Everyone (sans Riven) combined working to clean up the atrium while having fun together. Bloom and Brandon danced and mopped at the same time. Sky guided Stella on the proper way of mopping. Musa attempted to get Riven into the groove of things, but the boorish redhead was not having it, much to her annoyance. Tecna and Timmy got into a playful clash of mops, while Rykios chased Midoriya around in a game of cat-and-mouse, using their mops as improvised scooters.

 

The last pair’s fun came to an abrupt end, however, when Midoriya’s mop suddenly slipped on the wet floor, throwing him forwards. With a shriek, he hit the floor with a loud thud. Rykios swore under his breath as he rushed up to the green-haired teen.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“Just peachy, Rykios-san,” Midoriya replied with a chuckle.

 

Off to the side, even Kiko was having his own fun, copying Rykios and Midoriya’s game by sliding around the wet floor like an ice-skating rink. 

 

With (mostly) everyone’s effort, the atrium was cleaned in just under half an hour. Keeping away the cleaning equipment, the group got ready for the real party. While the Specialists snuck down to the kitchens to grab some snacks and drinks, the Winx went to change into more party-like clothes.

 

Once everyone was back in the dorm, the party was underway.

 

“The cleaning is finito and it’s time to get this party rockin’! DJ Musa is at the table, so let’s see…”

 

Musa sifted through her music playlists, smiling when she found the right tracks, “Tunes for the east wing!”

 

One of four music players started playing.

 

“The west wing!” 

 

The second hit it up.

 

“The north wing!”

 

Followed by the third.

 

“And the south wing!”

 

The last player slid into the scene, and it was time to dance!

 

The Winx and the Specialists converged into the middle of the common room and burst into moves. Laughter and cheers echoed as everyone worked their stuff. 

 

“You go, Stella!” Bloom cheered.

 

“You too Bloom!” the blonde replied, before realising something, “Wait a sec, why are you dancing with me? Get on over there, I know you’ve been eyeing Mr. Blondey all night long!”

 

Bloom blushed, “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about...”, choosing instead to divert her attention to Rykios and Midoriya bumping their butts together in time with the music.

 

Stella elbowed her friend, “Pointless gawking is only gonna get you so far, Bloom! Don’t be afraid to get what you want, so ask Brandon to dance with you!”

 

Meanwhile, out in the empty courtyard, the Trix materialised out of thin air with a loud crack of Stormy’s magenta lightning. They immediately heard the music echoing faintly in the quiet night.

 

“Ugh, what is that hideous noise?” Darcy scoffed. She looked up, the only set of windows with the lights on catching her attention, “It seems to be coming from up there.”

 

“I thought you said the school was going to be empty?” Stormy questioned Icy.

 

The witch of ice rubbed her chin, “It seems I was mistaken. Let’s go see who it is.”

 

Altogether, the Trix levitated up from the ground towards the lit windows. Hiding behind the balcony, they peered into the room.

 

Icy sneered, “Of fucking course, it’s the blasted Winx and those lousy Specialists.”

 

Unaware that their party was being spied on, Timmy tried to start up a conversation with Tecna as they watched the others dance, the only pair not doing so save for Rykios and Midoriya, who were by the tables getting themselves drinks.

“Would you like to dance?” the bespectacled Specialist asked.

 

“Oh...well,” Tecna replied a bit haltingly; not used to face-to-face conversations, especially with those of the opposite sex, “Dancing isn’t really my thing, and besides...I don’t know any dance steps.”

 

Timmy adjusted his spectacles, easily reading her body language, “Well I know an easy solution to this. Step one: don’t dance. And that’s all you have to do.”

 

It wasn’t the best joke, but Tecna laughed nonetheless. 

 

Then Riven had to go spoil things.

 

“Whoa Timmy,” the maroon-redhead scoffed, “Keep falling like that and we’ll have to start calling you Timber.”

 

Timmy flushed in embarrassment. Tecna glared, “Don’t listen to that bastard, Timmy.”

 

Before Riven could bark back a retort, a full cup’s worth of soda was flung at his face. Midoriya stood in front of the spluttering redhead with his own glare, “That was fucking uncalled for, Riven. Next time, keep your dirty mouth shut if you can’t find it in your nonexistent brain to say anything decent.”

 

Rykios quickly led the irate teen away from any possible explosion, “You shouldn’t waste your drink on him, Midoriya.”

 

“It’s fine, we have a lot of soda anyway.”

 

Riven had all the mind to give Midoriya a taste of his fist, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to get a punch in without Rykios handing him his ass in retaliation. The dark-skinned Specialist has always trounced him in hand-to-hand combat and weapons spars at Red Fountain, so while Riven was impulsive, he had enough brains to know that getting into a fight with the one Rykios cares about the most is not the best idea. 

 

And let’s not forget the Winx would desecrate his corpse should he attempt anything either.

 

So he remained where he stood, doing what he did best - brooding alone.

 

Until Brandon approached him, “I’m having fun. What about you?”

 

Riven scoffed, “That makes one of us.” He headed towards the balcony, “I’m going to get some air.”

 

Realising that they were about to be discovered, the Trix disappeared from the balcony, teleporting back down to the courtyard just as Riven stepped out.

 

“That was too close,” Icy muttered.

 

“Should we go?” Darcy asked cautiously.

 

“Because of those fuckers?!” Icy snapped, “Absolutely not! I want the Dragon Flame and the Phoenix Tears. And I would rather freeze in the ice of Hel before I let a group of freshmen pixies get in my way!”

 

“Me too,” Stormy agreed, “When we get our hands on them, we’ll be so powerful they’ll be naming entire realms and worlds after us!”

 

“So let’s conjure the Whisperian Crystals,” Icy said, “They’ll lead us straight to the source of the Dragon Flame and the Phoenix Tears.”

 

“But what about the fairies?” Stormy asked, “Are we just gonna let them party like they are all that?”

 

Darcy had a response to that, “I’d say we summon a Cretian Minotaur from limbo and have him crash their party.”

 

“Absolutely despicable idea, Darcy,” Icy assented, “But first, the Whisperian Crystals!”

 

The Trix stood in a triangle shape, and summoned their respective dark powers. From translucent spheres, the crystals were produced. At first glance, they appeared to be nothing more than pretty perfume bottles with threads of light encircling them, but were among the most powerful weapons a witch could use. The Trix raised their hands as one, the crystals rising together in a triangular formation.

 

Together, they chanted the incantation, “Energies of the Chaos unite.  Form the Whisperian Triangle. Let the many cease to be, and bear one power unto me!”

 

On their command, the three crystals became connected to one another by crackling bolts of magenta electricity. They came together, and formed a shining orb of light. The orb then began travelling away from the Trix.

 

“Let’s go!” Icy commanded, and they quickly flew after the orb.

 

“It’s going through the wall,” Darcy noticed.

 

“Not a problem,” Icy drawled, snapping her fingers, “Pass us through us!”

 

A swirling tunnel of glowing blue energy appeared before them. The Trix phased through the wall harmlessly, entering into the atrium where the Winx and the Specialists had cleaned before their party.

 

Touching down, Icy turned to her fellow witches, “Ready to crash those little pixies’ party?”

 

Darcy and Stormy nodded. With the orb of light shining above them, the Trix joined hands and formed another triangle. Icy chanted in an ancient language, “Inyat ye soronum, mythos konos factos!” before switching back into English, “Creature lost in the maze of mayhem, cross the void!”

 

From their feet, a black aura rose, before the floor disappeared into a swirling mass. From the infinite depths of limbo, rose a towering and horrendous minotaur. It had thick blue skin, four massive arms with fists double the size of large boulders, and blood-red hair all over its body.

 

It let out a loud roar, stamping it’s hoof angrily.

 

“Pretty cute, don’t you think?” Icy smirked.

 

“Totally,” Stormy crooned.

 

“You know what to do, big guy,” said Darcy, and as if following her order, the minotaur let out a grunt and raced up to the Winx’s dormitory.

 


 

Completely ignorant of the coming danger, the Specialists were in the midst of telling the Winx of a particularly exhilarating training session they underwent the year before.

 

“...even after all that, there were still ten Frost Giants left,” Timmy recounted.

 

“Wow! You guys must have been freaking out!” Bloom was amazed, inching ever closer to the edge of the sofa she was sitting on with Brandon. Stella cast a subtle wink to Midoriya, discreetly gesturing towards the pair.

 

“We rightfully were,” Sky nodded, “Those things have biceps the size of oak trees!”

 

Flora, though, was a little suspicious, “Frost Giants are usually very friendly…”

 

Midoriya raised an eyebrow, “Did you lot do something to provoke them?”

 

“We didn’t!” Sky defended himself, “We were just very unlucky to encounter a particularly temperamental herd.”

 

“Hey, do you want the last sandwich?” Stella offered the platter.

 

“No thanks, Stella,” Sky politely shook his head, “Though I am kinda thirsty.”

 

“Oh! No worries, I’ll be right back!” Stella put the platter down and went off to get a pitcher of juice. She returned with said pitcher in hand, and went to pour some into Sky’s offered cup.

 

That was when the entire dormitory shook, as if an earthquake was rolling in. Rykios immediately wrapped his strong arms around Midoriya. Flora almost lost her balance and grabbed the sofa end to steady herself. Stella dropped the pitcher, quickly holding onto Sky’s arm, while Musa, who had been standing up to change the music, held onto the table to stop herself from falling. Riven was not so lucky, falling onto his bum the moment the tremor rolled in.

 

“W-What’s going on?!” Midoriya squeaked.

 

“Maybe a dragon got loose?” Flora put forward.

 

“Can’t be,” Timmy shook his head, “We just maintained the security gates at the stables in Red Fountain. There’s no way one of them could have escaped.”

 

“I’ll go check outside!” said Stella.

 

As she went to the balcony, she scanned the surroundings, “Well...I don’t see anything. Maybe someone left their TV on?”

 

Tecna wanted to point out that leaving an electronic device on couldn’t possibly cause a noticeable tremor when a teacher’s desk went careening right out of a classroom window across the courtyard from the dormitory, splintering into pieces on the ground below. 

 

Stella flinched back, “Or maybe not…”

 

Riven, who had gone to the balcony as well, whistled loudly. All five leva-bikes which were parked below rose up to the balcony, and the Specialists all hopped on. They quickly rode across the courtyard to investigate the disturbance, leaving the Winx to hurry out of their dormitory to catch up to them.

 

“This way, Winx! C’mon!” 

 

They caught up in record time, joining the Specialists in the classroom.

 

“What’s the deets?” asked Musa.

 

“Half the wall is gone,” Brandon remarked.

 

The damage spoke for itself. As the blonde Specialist noted, half of the wall was demolished, and the rest of the classroom was completely trashed, as if a tornado had gone through it. Desks and chairs were thrown all over the place, light fixtures hung limp and broken, and the blackboard had several dents marring its surface.

 

“What kind of creature could have done this?” Timmy wondered.

 

“Something big, and extremely heavy,” Tecna replied.

 

“Oh yes, tell me something we don’t already know,” Riven scoffed.

 

Tecna, along with the rest of the Winx, scowled, “Fine, it’s a little over three metres tall, and weighs more than a tonne. It’s fur or hair is bristly and not at all soft. It walks upright on two legs, has horns alongside multiple clawed limbs or appendages, and it gives off a foul odour akin to rotting compost. Are you satisfied now, Riven?”

 

Riven was both affronted and astonished, while the Winx laughed at his expense.

 

“Need some ice for that burn, dickhead?” Stella snarked.

 

Another tremor, this time stronger, prevented Riven from biting back. 

 

“Okay, that’s it,” Brandon muttered, turning to his comrades, “What are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

 

The Specialists all unsheathed their weapons, and hurried deeper into the building.

 

“Wait! We’re coming with you!” said Bloom.

 

“No,” Riven shook his head, “Stay out of this and go hide, little fairies. This ain’t a job for you.”

 

The Winx all stared at Riven in disbelief and outrage as he rushed after his comrades.

 

“Is he fucking serious?” Musa bit out.

 

“Whatever, we shouldn’t be wasting time with that motherfucker,” Midoriya pushed down his anger, “MAGIC WINX!”

 

The Winx transformed, and flew off in a different direction. Just missing them, the Trix followed the orb of light in the opposite direction. They watched it closely, immediately noticing an increase in it’s speed.

 

“We must be getting close to the source,” said Icy.

 

It appeared so, until all of a sudden, the orb just stopped.

 

“Why did it stop?” Darcy wondered.

 

Suddenly, there came a noise that clearly wasn’t the minotaur they just sicced upon Alfea.

 

“Someone’s here,” Stormy hissed.

 

They didn’t need to worry (except for Icy) as the noise was just from Pepe, the little duckling that had somehow managed to follow them from Cloud Tower.

 

“Quack quack, Mommy!”

 

“Oh, it’s just that duck,” Darcy sighed in relief.

 

Pepe waddled up to Icy, and hugged her boot lovingly. Icy growled, “I...HATE DUCKS!”

 

She let out a scream, and yelled, “Ice Coffin!” Pepe was immediately encased in a cube of ice, and sent sliding down the corridor with a well-aimed kick.

 


 

In a different section of the campus, the Specialists entered a room where they believed whatever was trashing the place was last inside of, which was the second-year potions laboratory. Despite it being in near-total darkness, it was not difficult to see that the lab had been utterly decimated. And judging from the lack of noise, the creature was no longer hanging around.

 

“Give us some light, Timmy,” said Sky.

 

“Sure thing,” Timmy nodded, fishing out a torch from his pocket. Pressing a button, a shining orb of light shot out of the torch and brightened. The trashed state of the room was illuminated for them to see.

 

“This thing’s a wrecking machine!” Brandon exclaimed, Riven grunting in assent.

 

Rykios looked up, noticing a giant hole in the ceiling, “It went up there.”

 

“This thing’s got jump too!” Sky remarked.

 

“Then let’s get moving,” said Timmy.

 


 

Meanwhile, the Winx were flying down another hallway towards a set of stairs.

 

“It’s gotten really quiet…” Flora remarked.

 

“Maybe it went away?” Bloom tried to be hopeful.

 

“Doubt it,” Midoriya shook his head, “The air is still really unsettling.”

 

“Maybe it’s from all the food you scarfed down?” Stella tried to lighten the situation with a joke as the Winx cleared the stairs and headed down the corresponding corridor.

 

“It’s not from food -” Midoriya retorted.

 

“Everyone be quiet,” Musa suddenly ordered, “Do you guys hear that?”

 

The Winx glanced at one another.

 

“I don’t hear a thing,” Stella shook her head.

 

“Perhaps if we all had sonar hearing like Musa we would,” Tecna replied.

 

Musa would have retorted that her hearing was just as normal as everyone else’s when she suddenly flew into something hard, and had bristly fur.

 

Her eyes widened, “Um guys...I think I just hit the ass of our party crasher!”

 

The hulking mass of muscle turned around, and from the moonlight coming through the windows, it confirmed Musa’s worst suspicions. The Winx huddled together in fear as the minotaur advanced upon them, letting out an almighty roar and sending spittle all over Stella, who had the unfortunate luck to be caught in the front.

 

“Oh that is fucking disgusting!” the blonde screamed, “You’re so gonna get it!”

 

Stella unleashed a ball of light at the minotaur, but it didn’t do anything other than enrage it further. Stella quickly realised her mistake, and tried to back away.

 

“Run!” Tecna screamed.

 

The Winx all booked it, flying as fast as they could down the hallway as the minotaur chased after them. Again, they just missed the Trix as they phased up from the floor.

 

“I don’t get it,” Stormy remarked, “It’s like the powers keep moving.”

 

As they flew, Flora looked back. The minotaur showed no signs of slowing down, so she released her magic, “Vine Wall!” . A thick wall of vines shot up from the floor to the ceiling, blocking the minotaur. But it ultimately served no barrier as the minotaur demolished it with its horns, and continued its chase. One by one, the Winx hurled all kinds of attacks on the minotaur, but they either bounced off the creature or made it angrier. 

 

“Musa-san! Watch out!”

 

Musa, who was at the back of the group, realised the minotaur was catching up fast and about to gore its horns through her body. With a yelp, she did a mid-air backflip, her feet landing on the minotaur’s back. Kicking hard, the monstrous creature was sent careening forward from the inertia, crashing onto the floor with a great rumble.

 

“Now that’s my kind of party,” came a grating, yet welcome voice, “Looks like we got here just in time.”

 

The Winx all sighed in relief as the Specialists came out of the darkness together.

 

“Good backflip, Musa!” Brandon flashed a thumbs-up. Musa smiled in appreciation.

 

The minotaur picked itself up, and Riven came forth, “Hey you with the ponytail! If you want a real challenge, get your fat butt over here!”

 

Not giving the creature a chance to attack, Riven charged the beast, swinging his blade wildly. Amazingly, the minotaur dodged all the attacks, and charged at Riven, forcing the Specialist to jump back to avoid the four fists promising serious injury.

 

“I think you need a hand there, bro!” Brandon rushed up with his sword and shield.

 

“Just focus on protecting your prince, squire boy,” Riven retorted, getting back up.

 

“Hey! Don’t hog all the fun!” Sky brandished his sword.

 

“Leave it! I can handle thi-”

 

Riven was too preoccupied with arguing with his comrades to notice the incoming fist. All it took was one powerful punch for Riven to go careening through a window and hitting the floor of the adjacent classroom hard, the impact knocking him out instantly. The rest of the Specialists were unable to retrieve their comrade as they were forced to fight the minotaur head-on.

 

“You know,” Stella remarked as the Winx watched the boys butt heads with the beast, “they’ve bickered so many times it’s not even funny anymore.”

 

“It’s all about machismo and masculinity,” Tecna rolled her eyes, “One thing I don’t understand about the male sex is their constant need to one up one another, like who is better or who is stronger…”

 

“But we should also take note that Riven is usually the instigator,” Midoriya pointed out, “I mean, it’s not anyone’s fault that his little Riven is the smallest out of all the guys, but that doesn’t give him the excuse to take his insecurity out on the others.”

 

“Oh my god Midoriya!” Bloom mock-gasped, pretending to be scandalised. Stella and Tecna laughed until their sides ached, while Musa let out a loud “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!”. Sweet, innocent Flora merely tilted her head in confusion.

 

“What’s a ‘little Riven’?”

 

Stella and Tecna completely lost it, doubling over from their laughter. Bloom placed a hand on the confused brunette’s shoulder, “We’ll explain it later if you’re up to it.”

 


 

While this was happening, the Trix chanced upon Riven’s unconscious body.

 

“Well well well,” Icy drawled, “What do we have here?”

 

“He’s not the source of the Dragon Flame or the Phoenix Tears,” Darcy noted, before adding a touch of relish, “Though there is an ungodly amount of dark energy coming from this boy. Can we take him home, Icy? Please?”

 

Stormy was not amused, “Why do you have to fall for every lug that has a frown on his face?”

 

“Now’s not the time for play, Darcy,” Icy rubbed her chin consideringly, “But with his dark energy, we’ll have a use for him in the future. In the meantime, let’s continue looking.”

 


 

Back outside, the Specialists were losing ground to the minotaur. Sky had blood steadily streaking from a gash in his temple, Brandon had multiple bruises and a split lip, Timmy was barely standing with a limp and Rykios was down to one hand after the other got busted up by the beast. Riven was still unconscious in the classroom.

 

“We’ve got to do something!” Bloom exclaimed.

 

“Any moment wasted is a full percentage point lost in the possibility of all them getting out of this fight with their lives!” Tecna estimated.

 

Midoriya glanced down the hallway they were in. Now that he thought of it, it looked extremely familiar. If his guess was correct, the hallway would lead towards the atrium, overlooking the first floor where they had spent the earlier part of the evening cleaning.

 

“Everyone, we need to get the minotaur’s attention,” he said.

 

“What do you plan to do?” asked Flora.

 

“Hopefully to send the beast careening down to the first floor below,” Midoriya replied, “A fall from a significant height may be the only way we can knock this thing out without getting hurt ourselves.”

 

“You got it, Midoriya!” Musa nodded, before flying towards the minotaur, “Hey bull snot!”

 

The minotaur looked up from just about to turn Sky into a bloody pulp.

 

“Speaker Shock!”

 

Red soundwaves shot out of Musa’s outstretched hands, turning into two large speakers that blasted loud rock music right into the minotaur’s ears. The beast roared loudly, and charged straight towards the Winx.

 

“Everyone get back!” Midoriya ordered.

 

The Winx all pressed themselves against the walls, except for Midoriya.

 

“Water Slide!”

 

Two gushes of water burst from his hands and coated the floor, running down the length of the hallway towards the banister overlooking the atrium. The minotaur failed to notice the slippery conditions, the loss of traction and the high speed of its charge sending the beast sliding down the hallway straight towards the banister. As it was, Pepe the duckling was wandering aimlessly, unwittingly right in the path of the incoming minotaur. Pepe barely had the time to quack in horror as the minotaur rammed into him, taking him along with it as it crashed through the banister and hurtled down towards the first floor. There was a loud crash and rumble, followed by a dust cloud that reached up to the glass roof.

 

The Winx rushed towards the ruined banister, peering down at the minotaur sprawled over the cracked remains of the first floor. Whether it was dead or conscious it was unclear. Either way, the Winx returned to pick up the Specialists, make sure that they were able to walk, and as a group, all trooped down to the first floor to inspect the lifeless beast.

 

“Where did this thing come from?” Flora wondered.

 

“The creature preserve?” Riven guessed.

 

“Except that the Magix Creature Preserve has no record of minotaurs under captivity,” Tecna pointed out.

 

The answer came when Pepe managed to squeeze himself out from under the minotaur’s body, stumbling about before collapsing into a heap on the floor.

 

“Look!” Stella pointed, “Isn’t some bitch we know being stalked by a duck?”

 

“Icy!” Bloom scowled.

 

“That means the Trix are somewhere in Alfea,” Flora concluded.

 

“But why would those bitches come to our school and sick a minotaur to trash the place?” asked Musa.

 

“Because they are extremely petty, that’s why!” Stella proclaimed, “They must be super pissed that my ring got destroyed and decided to take their anger on us innocent fairies!”

 

“I think there’s something more to it than that,” Midoriya noted.

 

“Whatever this is, it can’t be anything good,” Bloom pursed her lips, “I think we should go Ms. Faragonda’s office, utilise her All-Seeing Crystal Ball and see what are the Trix really up to.”

 

Her suggestion was immediately met with opposition.

 

“But that wouldn’t be right,” said Flora, “We cannot go into Ms. Faragonda’s office if she isn’t in there.”

 

“I concur,” Tecna agreed, “It’s strictly against the rules. We could even be expelled if we’re caught.”

 

“True,” Bloom nodded, “But we are virtually the only ones who could do something to protect our school. If anything, let’s see if we can contact Ms. Faragonda and inform her of what’s happening in Alfea.”

 

Reluctantly, the group assented to Bloom’s suggestion. Together, they all trooped up to Faragonda’s office. Pushing the door open, everyone stepped inside. The office was dark, and there was no sign of the headmistress. The Winx split into two groups - one would find ways to contact Faragonda, while the other would use the crystal ball to track the Trix’s movements. The Specialists took to barricading the door with whatever furniture they could find. 

 

“This won’t be much,” Sky noted, “But it’s the best we can do.” He turned to Midoriya, Stella and Musa, “Any luck finding the Trix?”

 

“No,” Midoriya shook his head.

 

“There are like a billion places one could hide in Alfea,” Stella pointed out.

 

The brunette specialist turned to the other group, “How about contacting Faragonda?”

 

“No luck on our end either,” Tecna shook her head sadly.

 

Near the door, Riven’s ears picked up noise just outside of the door, “I think they’re coming.”

 

“Quick! Everyone hide!” said Bloom.

 

Everyone scrambled to find a hiding spot. Midoriya and Rykios took to concealing themselves behind a large potted plant.

 

“Are you okay?” the dark-skinned specialist whispered.

 

“I think I should be asking you that, Rykios-san,” Midoriya whispered back, “How’s your hand?”

 

Rykios glanced down, “Could be better.”

 

“Everyone, be quiet,” Bloom whispered from her hiding spot behind Faragonda’s desk.

 


 

Outside the office, the Trix eyed the orb of light closely. It was pulsating wildly, its glow brighter.

 

“Interesting,” Icy noted, “The Whisperian Crystals are responding strongly. That means the Dragon Flame and the Phoenix Tears are somewhere in this room.”

 

She looked around the seemingly empty office, “But I don’t see a thing. I guess we’ll just have to trash the place and do a thorough sear-”

 

That was Bloom’s cue, “You are not trashing anything!”

 

The Trix startled as the redhead jumped out from behind the desk, “Hit the lights, Riven! And do your stuff, Midoriya!”

 

Said specialist flipped the switch, bathing the office in light. Midoriya jumped out from behind the potted plant and released a rope of water. Before the Trix could react, the rope wove around them and bound them tightly. Everyone else came out of hiding.

 

“L-Let us go!” Stormy screeched as she tried to fight against the binds.

 

“Not until you tell us what the fuck are you doing here!” Bloom demanded.

 

“That is a question I want to ask all of you.”

 

Everyone jumped at the familiar, stern voice. To his credit, Midoriya did not release the water rope.

 

Faragonda entered, “Up until a moment ago I thought this was my office?”

 

Bloom quickly applied damage control, “I know it looks bad, Ms. Faragonda, but I can explain.”

 


 

One hurried explanation later, and Faragonda was fully caught up with the events that had transpired that evening. Faragonda grimly asked Midoriya to release the Trix, containing the three witches in an impenetrable orb, doing the same for the minotaur just as it was beginning to stir. 

 

She then sent the Winx and the Specialists down to Nurse Ofelia to be patched up. Once everything was done, everyone gathered at the courtyard. The minotaur was hooked up to the specialists’ leva-bikes to be taken back to Red Fountain temporarily until a permanent solution could be decided.

 

“Thanks for everything, Brandon,” Bloom smiled apologetically, “Sorry that the party was interrupted and we had to fight a minotaur.”

 

“Actually, I had a really great time,” he replied sincerely, “And there’s never a dull moment with you and the Winx, is there?”

 

Bloom could help the bashful blush from spreading through her cheeks.

 

To the side, Stella approached Sky with the intention of bidding him farewell. Acting on impulse, he reached out and gently grabbed her chin. “Come here, beautiful,” he whispered coyly, pulling her closer to kiss her cheek. Stella was so stunned by the intimate act that she almost forgot to breathe, at a loss for words only to smile as a response.

 

Over with Tecna and Timmy, things were a little more awkward. 

 

“So...I hope tonight is one for the memory…” Timmy rubbed the back of his head.

 

“Oh yes,” Tecna nodded, pushing down the blush threatening to colour her cheeks, “I’m quite sure of that.”

 

With Midoriya and Rykios, the air was sweeter.

 

“You fought bravely against the minotaur, Rykios-san.”

 

“You and the Winx were no pushovers either. You guys pretty much saved our asses.”

 

Midoriya scratched his cheek shyly, “That’s true.” He glanced down at Rykios’ bandaged hand and wrist, “I know Nurse Ofelia did an exemplary job fixing up your hand, but will you be okay regardless?”

 

He did not expect Rykios to wrap him tightly in a strong hug, “I’ll be fine, Midoriya. It’ll take more than a minotaur to finish us off.”

 

Slowly, Midoriya returned the hug, “Just...take care of yourself, okay?”

 

“I will,” Rykios threaded his uninjured hand through Midoriya’s locks, “You as well.”

 

Finally, even after everything that has happened, Riven was still his usual caustic self.

 

“Next time you decide to throw a party,” he said to Flora and Musa as he put on his helmet, “try to make sure there’s some fun involved?”

 

Both girls flinched, quickly scowling with Musa flipping the bird at the maroon-redhead. 

 

After checking the minotaur was securely attached to their leva-bikes, the Specialists hopped on and took off into the night sky, carrying their cargo with them. The Winx waved them off, Faragonda waiting for the boys to disappear from sight before turning to Griselda.

 

“We must remember to send Headmaster Saladin a glowing letter of gratitude for the help his boys gave us tonight. It was so good of them to come when the Winx told them that there was a minotaur loose on campus.”

 

She then turned to the Trix, whatever softness in her expression evaporating as she gave them a stern glare.

 

“As for you three witches-to-be, you took things way too far this evening! I don’t know what is going on between you and my students, but it ends tonight! Am I clear?”

 

The Trix barely held down their snarls as they were properly reprimanded. Pepe kind of ruined the image by kissing his “Mommy” lovingly, completely unaware of the situation.

 

“I will be transporting you to Headmistress Griffin’s office with an official letter of complaint. I trust that she will discipline you accordingly, and let me make this very clear, I will follow up. Have a nice trip.”

 

Faragonda snapped her fingers, and the Trix disappeared in a burst of blue light.

 

She then turned to the Winx, “I must commend you all for keeping a level head and dealing with the situation bravely and resourcefully. Taking on a fully-grown minotaur is no laughing matter.”

 

The Winx cheered and high-fived one another.

 

“At the same time,” Faragonda continued, “in the future, you might want to party first, then do the cleaning. At least, that’s how we did it in my day, and I don’t think times have changed that much.”

 

The teens chuckled at the joke.

 

“That aside, I’m sure you all are exhausted,” Faragonda smiled warmly, “I think it’s time you all head back to your dormitory for a good night’s rest.”

 

“But what about the damage done to the campus?” asked Midoriya.

 

“You need not worry, Mr. Midoriya,” said the headmistress, “Everything should be back to normal by next Monday. Now off you go, I’m sure you want to be well-rested for whatever fun you want to indulge in over the weekend.”

 

The Winx were agreeable to that, so after thanking Faragonda, they retreated back to their dorm for the night. 

 

Once they were gone, Griselda turned to her colleague, “Do you know why those three witches were in Alfea in the first place?”

 

“I have an inkling,” Faragonda nodded gravely, “But it’s not good. I’ll explain it to you in my office.”

 


To Be Continued.


 

Chapter Text

The debacle with the Trix and the minotaur was quickly pushed into the back-burner in favour of planning for the whole of Saturday. While the Winx discussed their itinerary for a day-out in Magix, Midoriya departed first for his part-time job at Miriam’s bakery, promising to meet up with the girls for dinner later that evening.

 

As he passed a classroom, he noticed someone familiar. Pausing in his steps, he peered through the window.

 

It was Griselda, but what the head of discipline was doing made Midoriya smirk in satisfaction.

 

The stern woman was overseeing Dahlia, Amaryl and Tamara; the three girls who skived off the day before, as they cleaned the classroom using nothing but cleaning tools and elbow grease. Judging from how tired the trio were, Midoriya guessed that Griselda had put them through the wringer for some time now.

 

“You three only have yourselves to blame for your punishment,” said Griselda, “If you had only done what was expected of you and not decided to play hookey, you wouldn’t have had to spend the entire weekend cleaning the entire campus without your magic.”

 

Midoriya’s smirk grew even wider.

 

Discreetly, he fished out his phone and snapped a picture. He then sent it off to Bloom and went on his way.

 

Back in the dorm, Bloom’s phone pinged with the incoming message. The moment she opened it, she snorted.

 

“What’s so funny?” asked Tecna.

 

“A certain someone and her friends just got busted by Ms. G,” the redhead replied, showing the girls the picture Midoriya sent.

 

Everyone laughed, especially at the caption: Just deserts, amirite?

 


 

Beyond that little laugh, the next two weeks or so became another new routine for the Winx. However, such normalcy became somewhat rockier with the impending arrival of first semester exams. Lessons became tougher, as did all practical exercises. It quickly became normal for the Winx to be so tired at the end of the day that once nightfall came, they would all retreat to their rooms and crash out for the night.

 

However, for Bloom and Midoriya, rest and rejuvenation did not come easy.

 

Now, both teens were no strangers to strange dreams and nightmares. But it seemed that these dreams that afflicted them were...even stranger.

 

It started with Midoriya.

 

Sometime during the night, he would open his eyes to find himself not in his shared room, but in some inky darkness of an underwater abyss. He could barely see what was ahead of him, but it ultimately served no answer to his confusion.

 

‘What is this place?’

 

“Ignalan…”

 

Midoriya flinched, “W-Who’s there?!”

 

“Ignalan…”

 

“Who are you?!”

 

Midoriya would attempt to look around, but with poor visibility and the water hampering his movements, he didn’t know where to start looking. Further complicating things was that the voice didn’t seem to be coming from a singular point, rather surrounding him like an echo chamber.

 

“Ignalan...you have returned…”

 

“Show yourself!”

 

“Don’t you recognise me, Ignalan? Don’t you recognise my voice?”

 

“I-I don’t know who you are! And who is this Iaren? Why are you calling me that?”

 

However, he would not get an answer.

 

“Hey! Please show yourself! Who are you?!”

 

Then, out of nowhere, there was a bright flash of light that lit up the entire abyss. The water started rumbling as if an earthquake was rolling in. Midoriya shrieked as the light grew brighter and brighter…

 

“Midoriya! Midoriya!”

 

He shot up from his bed with a loud gasp.

 

“Midoriya, are you okay?”

 

He slowly turned around. Stella was by his side, concerned.

 

“Stella-san…”

 

“You were talking in your sleep, and you were thrashing about quite vividly,” Stella remarked, “Were you having another nightmare?”

 

“No...it wasn’t a nightmare, Stella-san,” Midoriya replied, “But it was strange...someone was calling out to me, and they were calling me this weird name ‘Ignalan’.”

 

“Ignalan?” Stella pursed her lips in consideration, “Doesn’t ring a bell for me.”

 

“I don’t know either…” Midoriya sighed, “I tried calling out to whoever it was to show themselves, but all that happened was a flash of bright light, and then just waking up. Either way, I think I’m too shaken to go back to sleep…”

 

“You can’t either way,” Stella said, “our alarm just went off a few minutes ago. If we don’t get ready we won’t have time for breakfast!”

 

Midoriya nodded distractedly as his blonde roommate went to get ready for the new day.

 

‘What was that voice? Who are they?’

 

Eventually, he brushed it off as his mind conjuring up strange dreams, hoping that it was just a one-time affair.

 

It wasn’t.

 

Over the course of two weeks, his sleep would be interrupted by the same voice calling out to him. Yet despite his desperate pleas to show themselves, nothing ever appeared in the underwater abyss save for a bright light that was always the precursor to him waking up. Over time it proved detrimental to his well-being as he would never get a full-night’s rest and would thus leave him drowsy during the day. Multiple times he had to catch himself from falling asleep during lessons, and he found it difficult to absorb what was being taught.

 

And with the exams coming, things were not looking good; to the point that Midoriya started seeing Nurse Ofelia on possible potions that could at least guarantee a dreamless sleep. 

 

As it turned out, he wasn’t the only one.

 

Not long after Midoriya started experiencing these weird dreams, Bloom started finding herself in the same dark underwater abyss as soon as she fell asleep.

 

Weirdly, though no one realised it at the time, the same voice called out to Bloom too, and it disturbed her sleep for the same two-week period, leaving the redhead drowsy during the day. Like Midoriya, she went to Nurse Ofelia hoping for some potions to allow her a dreamless sleep. The problem was, like sleeping pills on Earth, these potions would lose their effects over time if ingested constantly. So on days where she couldn’t take the potion, the dreams continued.

 

This night was one of them.

 

“Bloom, come to me…”

 

“Who are you?! How do you know my name?!”

 

What scared Bloom was that the voice sounded eerily familiar. During her life back in Gardenia, occasionally her dreams would be punctuated by the same voice. However, it was soft, and she would always forget it whenever she woke up. In Alfea though, it was much louder.

 

“Bloom...come back to me…”

 

“Who are you?!” 

 

Bloom tried looking around as she had done for the past fourteen nights, but found nothing.

 

“Find me…find me within you...”

 

“How do I do that?!”

 

Suddenly, something brushed against her hand. Spinning around, Bloom gasped.

 

“You know the answer, Bloom.”

 

Standing right before her, was a towering woman who shined brightly like the sun. She was dressed in a long, flowing golden dress, and she had rings around her arms that released long silk that flowed languidly with the water. She had long, blond hair, and her beautiful face was concealed behind a mask. This was the first time Bloom had ever seen her in her dreams.

 

“W-What are you?!”

 

“You will find me, when you and your brother find yourselves…”

 

“What do you mean?! What brother?!”

 

“Prepare for the journey, Bloom, and remember me!”

 

“What journey? Prepare for what?!”

 

“Perhaps for the journey out of bed?”

 

Bloom started, and shot up from her bed. It took a moment for her to realise that Flora was sitting on her bed with a soft smile. 

 

“You’d sleep through a solar storm, wouldn’t you?” the brunette chuckled.

 

“Flora...was I talking in my sleep?”

 

“You have no idea,” Flora got up, allowing Kiko to bundle up to his owner, “and you were quite loud too. I could hear you from my bed.”

 

“Goodness…” Bloom slumped back down onto her pillow, “I’ve been having these weird dreams lately…”

 

“I can tell,” Flora assented distractedly, “and that’s that done!”

 

Bloom got out of bed, noticing her roommate closing a luggage.

 

“Where are you going?”

 

“Home,” Flora pulled the luggage off her bed, “Today is the Day of the Rose.”

 

Having not heard of such a day, Bloom followed her roommate out into the common room, “Home? What about classes?”

 

“There are no classes,” Tecna appeared with her own luggage, “This is one of the few holidays that every realm in the magical dimension celebrates together. It’s to honour our parents, and it’s one of my most favourite holidays.”

 

“Oh, so it’s like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day combined then,” Bloom remarked.

 

“Are you planning on going home?” asked Flora.

 

Bloom scratched her cheek, “Well...it’s really sudden. And I haven’t made any plans…”

 

“Perfect!” Stella suddenly appeared with Midoriya and Musa by her side, “You can keep us company, Bloom!”

 


 

After seeing Tecna and Flora off at the school gates, the four remaining members of the Winx headed to the dining hall for breakfast. It was admittedly unusual to walk through the emptied hallways, and it struck home even more when they entered the dining hall to see it empty other than two third-years who were buried deep in their studying for the upcoming exams. 

 

The four sat down at their usual seats at the first-year table, food appearing seconds after.

 

They ate in silence for a few minutes.

 

“I hate when the school’s empty…” Stella sighed after a moment, taking a sip of her tea, “I don’t know why, but I find it really depressing.”

 

“Good morning, lad and lasses!”

 

“Professor Wizgiz!” Bloom smiled, “Going home too?”

 

“Of course!” the leprechaun nodded, picking up his bag, “Going off to see dear Mother!”

 

He tapped the little flower on his shirt lapel, which transformed into a fully-bloomed rose, “I’m going to transform into a basilisk and give her a good scare!”

 

With a jovial wave, Wizgiz bounded out of the hall.

 

“Funny guy, that professor,” Musa remarked.

 

“So, why are you sticking around you two?” Stella turned to Bloom and Midoriya, “I thought you’d want to visit your parents after some time apart?”

 

“It wasn’t really a choice,” Bloom replied, “I only just found out about this holiday. Plus, we don’t celebrate it on Earth, so my parents are probably busy working today.”

 

Midoriya’s lips thinned as he looked down at his half-eaten breakfast, trying to hold his rising emotions down at the thought of his own mother, left behind in his world with no idea on what happened to him.

 

He needed a distraction.

 

“What about you both?” he asked.

 

Stella suddenly had a sombre expression, “I’ve never told anyone about this, but all’s not well back in Solaria.” She picked up her cup, staring into her tea, “My parents are getting divorced. Things are extremely complicated now, getting pulled between two palaces and having to witness them fighting…”

 

She sat her cup down with a soft sigh. Bloom reached over and gently squeezed her hand.

 

“I just wish things could settle down and differences sorted out...but I guess we can’t have everything in life,” Stella shrugged weakly, “What about you, Musa?”

 

Now it was Musa’s turn to grow sombre, though she also looked close to tears, “My mom died when I was little, so this holiday has always been a bittersweet one for me.”

 

“Musa-san…” Midoriya immediately took her hand into his.

 

“Furthermore, my dad’s on that inter-realm hip-hop tour of his, so he’s been MIA for some time now…”

 

“Oh Musa...I’m so sorry, I didn’t know,” Stella whispered, scooting closer to pull her friend into a hug.

 

Musa sniffled, “It’s okay, you don’t need to apologise. I’ve never been good with talking about it, so I always tried to keep it to myself.”

 

Bloom found herself close to tears as well, “Does it help, talking about it? Even a little bit?”

 

“Yeah, but it doesn’t change the present,” Musa replied.

 

Midoriya wiped away his own tears, “I don’t know if this means much, but I’d say we have our own little family here as the Winx. Maybe there’s something we can all do to have fun today?”

 

“Of course!” Stella brightened, jumping out of her seat to dance around the nearly-empty hall, “The sun’s out, there’s a festival in Magix which means all-day shopping and a dance tonight!”

 

Suddenly, there came a pinging sound.

 

“Is that your phone, Stella?” asked Musa.

 

The blonde fished it out of her pocket and read the incoming message. She squealed in delight.

 

“Who is it?” asked Bloom.

 

“It’s from Sky!” Stella replied, “He and some of the boys will be at the festival today! And that’s not all, they are inviting us to the dance tonight!”

 

Midoriya perked up at the idea of seeing Rykios again. Bloom thought it was a great idea. She turned to Musa, “Shall we?”

 

But Musa had other ideas, “I think I’m just gonna...hang back for today. But you guys have fun without me!”

 

Stella opened her arms, “Get over here you three!”

 

Not hesitating for a moment, all four members of the Winx shared a group hug, reaffirming their friendship together.

 


 

Across the lake in the stormy hills of Cloud Tower, a certain trio of witches were getting hammered by their headmistress.

 

“You three witches are really starting to stir my cauldron!” Griffin thundered, “Do you know what this is?!” She produced a letter sealed in wax, “It’s a letter of complaint against you three by Ms. Faragonda over at Alfea!”

 

Griffin tore up the letter and threw the pieces at the Trix’s feet, “If you are going to wreak havoc, do it without making a fool out of yourselves! None of this bumbling around! None of this releasing third-rate beasts into the world! And especially none of this getting caught by a bunch of freshmen fairies! You are Cloud Tower seniors, and I expect much better than this nonsense! Am I clear?!”

 

“Crystal,” Icy replied, as her mind schemed.

 

“Good, now get out of my office!” Griffin pointed to the door, “I had better not see you three be sent here anytime soon!”

 

The Trix quickly left the office, retreating far enough to not be heard.

 

“What a fucking grouch,” Darcy rolled her eyes.

 

“Tell me about it,” Stormy agreed.

 

“We need to be careful,” Icy said, “We’re on thin ice once again. We need to do something to ensure we get back into Griffin’s good books.”

 

The Trix considered their next move.

 

“How about we get our revenge on those meddling pixies? Today’s the Day of the Rose, so maybe they’ll be out in Magix having fun. Why don’t we turn this holiday into something they’d loathe to remember?” Darcy suggested.

 

“I like your idea, Darcy,” Icy smirked, “Let’s head down to Magix.”

 


 

As Stella, Bloom and Midoriya caught the next leva-bus to Magix, Musa went to the roof of one of Alfea’s twin turrets overlooking the lake. 

 

“I remember when you used to tell me about this place, Mom,” she said to herself, gazing out at the view, “You said it was your favourite spot when you went to Alfea, the spot where you and Dad had your first kiss…”

 

Musa pulled an ornately-carved lotus from her pocket. She set it down on the ledge, before sitting down herself.

 

“Alright, here you go, Mom.”

 

She waved a hand over the lotus. It opened like a flower blooming, and from within, a holographic image of her mother appeared before her.

 

“So let me tell you what’s been going on. Classes are good, and I’m acing potions. Though the lessons are getting harder, since exams are coming up soon.”

 

The holograph of her mother nodded encouragingly, as if she really heard what her daughter was saying.

 

“I also met this cool guy called Riven. He’s rough around the edges, but I think that’s just his way of flirting, you know?”

 

Musa sat in silence for a moment.

 

“Anyway, there are no classes today, so I’m gonna spend the entire day with you,” she picked up the lotus, “I’ll take you down to this gazebo we found by the lake last week, and then to the studio to play this new tune that I wrote.”

 

Musa slid off the ledge and headed for the stairs, feeling a little better now.

 


 

At the heart of the festivities, Magix was seeing crowds at unprecedented levels. As Stella, Bloom, Midoriya, Brandon, Sky, Rykios and Riven realised, it was hard to move at certain places, it was just that many people crowded together, either watching performers showing off their skills or buying from street vendors and in process blocking the flow of foot traffic. 

 

Rykios kept a close hand on Midoriya’s shoulder, something the smaller teen appreciated since the specialist’s firm grip kept him from being lost to the sea of people multiple times.

 

“Wow, the festival keeps getting bigger year after year!” Sky wondered in amazement.

 

“No, it just keeps getting lamer and lamer with every year,” Riven groused.

 

“Riven, don’t rain on our parade today, will you?” Brandon pleaded.

 

Midoriya had to give it to the blonde specialist for both joking and being serious at the same time.

 

“If he finds it so lame, why the fuck is he even here then?” Stella quietly confided to Bloom, who returned it with a clueless shrug.

 

“I’m surprised Timmy-san is the only one to go home to see his parents,” Midoriya remarked, “Don’t you guys want to take advantage of the holiday for some time off with your family?”

 

“Well...my parents are busy…” Sky replied haltingly.

 

“Same here…” Brandon added.

 

Stella sympathetically rubbed Sky’s arm. Bloom and Midoriya, on the other hand, shared a raised eyebrow.

 

Out of nowhere, and somewhat uncharacteristically, Riven gave a response too, “I was the product of an unplanned pregnancy. I don’t even know who my parents are. They just dumped me at an orphanage. And I was passed around between families for years until I enrolled in Red Fountain.”

 

The three members of the Winx were especially surprised.

 

“Riven-san...I-”

 

Whatever Midoriya wanted to say was interrupted by a rise of noise from the crowd. Looking up, a large airship hovered over the street. The underside doors opened, and out poured a rain of roses. As the crowd went crazy, Sky grabbed a rose from the deluge and offered it to Stella.

 

“For you, Princess.”

 

Stella swooned, “Why thank you.”

 

Rykios picked a rose, checked that it didn’t have thorns, and set it behind Midoriya’s ear. The smaller teen blushed at the intimacy.

 

Bloom and Brandon took to watching the shower of roses.

 

“It’s really beautiful, isn’t it?”

 

‘So are you…’ the blonde specialist inwardly thought.

 

On the other hand, Riven wasn’t taking all this sappiness well, “Hey Romeos! Some of the racers are already warming up.”

 

Without waiting for the others, the morose redhead headed for the barrier keeping the crowds away from the road designated as the track for one of the holidays highlights - the Annual Race of the Rose. 

 

Dozens of riders zoomed past on their leva-bikes, kicking up the adrenaline that sent the spectators into a delighted frenzy.

 

“Wow! Look at them go!” Stella watched in awe.

 

“This year’s gonna be the most intense race yet!” Brandon was pumped.

 

Riven scoffed, “Maybe for you guys. But for me, it’s going to be a simple walk in the park.”

 

‘Oh boy…’ Midoriya sighed inwardly.

 

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Sky demanded.

 

“I’m just saying that you fuckers don’t stand a chance,” Riven shrugged cockily.

 

“A chance at what?” asked Stella.

 

“At beating me, of fucking course,” the redhead smirked, “I’m gonna leave them all in the dust, so they might as well put my name on the trophy already.”

 

Midoriya rolled his eyes, Rykios mirroring his action.

 

“So you’re saying that we aren’t worthy competition?” Sky crossed his arms.

 

“Says the loser who fell off his leva-bike in his first year.”

 

“And once again we’ve arrived at the dick-measuring competition…” Bloom confided to Midoriya with exasperation.

 

“That sounds dangerous!” Stella exclaimed.

 

Sky was quick to reassure her, “Leva-bikes are completely safe! We wear state-of-the-art gear with top-grade padding to protect ourselves from injury.”

 

As if on cue, one of the riders suddenly cut their fellow off. The unlucky guy swerved to avoid the collision, but he went so far that his bike tipped over and sent him tumbling onto the track. He and his bike skidded down the track for several metres, eventually coming to a screeching stop against the opposite barrier.

 

Midoriya sweatdropped, “Famous last words…” as paramedics rushed to the unconscious rider.

 

Sky scratched his cheek in embarrassment, “Perhaps that dude wasn’t wearing the right protective gear?”

 

Stella was silent for a moment, eventually sighing, “I can’t stop you guys from entering the race, but I’m planning on dancing with you tonight, Sky, so you’d better not break anything, okay?”

 

The brunette specialist chuckled, “I’ll do my best, but I gotta give it my all if I want to teach Mr. Grumpy-Pants over there a lesson about humility.”

 

Riven rolled his eyes.

 

The group moved away from the barrier to walk a bit more.

 

“If Brandon’s participating, then I’m going to root for him!” Bloom declared.

 

“Rykios-san, are you planning on racing as well?” Midoriya asked. And when the dark-skinned specialist nodded, Midoriya added, “Then I’ll be rooting for you too.”

 

Sky nudged Riven, “So who’s gonna root for you then? Where’s your cheerleader?”

 

The redhead clicked his tongue, “As if I need someone distracting me during the race.”

 

Brandon sensed the reappearance of Riven’s trademark temper, “Relax man, we’re just kidding!”

 

“Trust me, you fuckers,” Riven growled, “If I actually wanted one of these Alfea pixies, I could have picked up the whole litter and you both know it!”

 

Midoriya, Bloom and Stella shared a look in the background.

 

“This is dumb,” Brandon waved off.

 

But Riven wasn’t finished, “In fact, a certain someone has been giving me the eye. Isn’t that right, Bloom?”

 

“What?!” Bloom was both shocked and outraged, “The only ‘eye’ I give you is ‘I don’t think so’!”

 

“Yeah right,” Riven brushed her off.

 

‘Oh boy...here comes the explosion…’ Midoriya braced himself.

 

“What the fuck is your fucking problem?!” Bloom blasted, “I know who I like and trust me, I do not go for the whole jerk thing! I still can’t figure out for the life of me why Musa has a fucking crush on you! You are fucking conceited, fucking cocky, and a complete waste of good oxygen! It is guys like you who give the male gender a bad name!”

 

“Oh damn…” Rykios muttered, as Midoriya watched on with vindication. Stella, Brandon and Sky glanced at one another nervously, unsure of what was about to happen next.

 

Then, Riven surprised everyone by gently gripping Bloom’s chin, “You know, you’re cute when you’re angry.”

 

Brandon’s eyes narrowed, and a snarl made its way to his lips.

 

“I dig girls who play hard to get,” Riven continued, oblivious to the incoming storm.

 

“Get your fucking hands off me!”

 

First, Bloom slapped Riven’s hand from her chin. Then, a blast of water sent Riven flying backwards into a nearby planter, drenching him completely.

 

Midoriya stormed forward, “You are the fucking worst, Riven! I don’t know what the fuck is your problem, but you don’t touch a girl without her consent! What Musa-san sees in you I don’t fucking know, but what I do know is that with your attitude, you don’t deserve anyone’s attention!”

 

Wiping the water from his face, Riven snarled, picking himself up from the planter. Midoriya fully expected to have to transform to fend off the bull he just enraged, but to everyone’s surprise again, the morose redhead spun on his heel away from the group.

 

“Fine, have it your way, since you so eloquently said it.”

 

Without a further word, Riven stormed off down the street, drawing a few stares from curious passersby at his soaked state.

 

Bloom, Sky, and Rykios wondered if Midoriya had gone too far here, but Stella remained firm.

 

“Don’t bother about that dickhead, he totally had it coming!”

 


 

Riven didn’t know exactly where he was going, but it didn’t matter. The last thing he wanted to do was start a fight in the open. Removing himself from the situation was the best next option.

 

“Stupid fairies…” he growled, jostling his way through the crowd who stared at him in confusion or concern, “Stupid couples and their fucking smiles on their faces…”

 

Stopping by a shop window, he rested his forehead against the glass. His mind conflicted with vengeful anger and conscious regret. He really didn’t want to start conflicts, but his rough upbringing, lack of social skills and natural temper was a recipe for disaster that he had no way of controlling. 

 

So lost in his thoughts, Riven failed to notice a certain trio of witches watching him from a nearby alley.

 

“Do you see what I see?” asked Icy rhetorically.

 

“This guy’s got a major attitude problem,” Darcy licked her lips, “I like him.”

 

Stormy however, was disgusted, “Are you in love?”

 

“That’s a four-letter word!” Darcy rounded on her fellow witch.

 

“Save the catfight for later!” Icy snapped, “We’ve got some trouble to cause. And I think the King of Sulk over there is just the thing we need!” 

 

The witch of ice turned to her fellows, “Here’s the plan, we’ll play the hulking bad boy against those uppity Earth pixies, and see how much havoc we can wreak with them.”

 

“Yeah,” Darcy assented, “and if we play things right, we could get him to join our side.”

 

Icy turned to an empty spot in the alleyway, and summoned Knut.

 

“W-What did I do? I-I hope I didn’t do anything wrong, your evilness.”

 

Icy smiled deviously, “Knut, I need to borrow you for a second.”

 

The ogre balked, “Oh no! Not that! Please! Anything but that!”

 

Ignoring his pleas, Icy released a burst of magic that engulfed Knut, transfiguring him into a certain red-headed specialist. Icy clapped her hands, and spectacles appeared on “Timmy”’s head, allowing him to see.

 

“Alright, so here's what we’re going to do…” Icy beckoned her fellow witches and “Timmy” close to lay out the details of their plan.

 


 

Meanwhile, Bloom and Midoriya were having a great time taking in the festivities. Sure, they had gone to their fair share of festivals in their home worlds, but the Day of the Rose was everything they had experienced multiplied ten-fold, especially since magic was often added into the routines to kick up the splendour a bit.

 

“C’mon you two!” Stella called out to them, “The race is gonna start soon!”

 

“You guys go ahead first!” Bloom replied back, something catching her eye.

 

Midoriya stayed with Bloom, and by extension Rykios as well. They joined the redhead in nudging their way to the front of a crowd watching a dancer perform her routine. There were musical instruments floating in orange auras around the woman as she danced. If anything, it reminded Bloom of belly dancers that she had seen on documentaries and TV shows back home.

 

That was when things started to become weird.

 

The dancer sang in tune with her moves, “Come...to me, rhythm! Come...to me, fire!”

 

Midoriya inwardly thought, ‘Why does that voice...sound so familiar?’

 

By his side, Bloom was also growing affected by the performance. The dancer’s movement seemed to instill a hypnotic trance upon her, her eyes growing hazy and unfocused. Strangely, the dancer appeared to morph…

 

...into the same woman who appeared in her dreams.

 

“Come to me, Bloom! Come to me!”

 

Bloom took an unconscious step closer, something that Midoriya noticed.

 

“Bloom-san?”

 

“Your destiny awaits!”

 

“Hey! There you guys are!”

 

Bloom snapped out of her reverie. The woman in her dreams had disappeared, and the dancer in front of her continued her performance as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. She, Midoriya and Rykios turned around. “Timmy” had come up to them.

 

“Timmy!” Bloom was surprised, “What are you doing here?”

 

“I just bumped into the others a moment ago,” “Timmy” glanced around minutely before returning to the trio, “They were looking for you, since the race was about to start.”

 

Midoriya’s sharp eyes caught that little detail, and immediately suspicion settled in his mind. He sent a discreet look towards Rykios, who reciprocated the suspicion with a slight nod.

 

“Oh yeah! The race! I completely forgot about it!” Bloom slapped her forehead.

 

“No worries!” “Timmy” smiled, “I know where the guys are. I’ll bring you three to them.”

 

“Thanks a lot Tim-”

 

“Hold it.”

 

Bloom and “Timmy” turned to Midoriya.

 

“What’s wrong?” asked Bloom.

 

Midoriya took a menacing step towards the redhead specialist, who seemed to grow even more nervous under the scrutinising glare.

 

“Timmy-san went back to his home realm to visit his parents for the holiday,” Midoriya growled, “Who the fuck are you, impersonating him?!”

 

“Timmy” looked around furtively, trying to come up with an explanation, “I….um….”

 

Bloom gasped, suddenly realising that they might be dealing with an imposter. Rykios had unsheathed his dual blades in preparation.

 

“I’m only going to ask you one last time, you motherfucking imposter,” Midoriya’s hands began to glow, “Who the fuck are you?!”

 

Realising that he had been found out, “Timmy” suddenly unleashed a ball of purple energy at Midoriya. Barely having the time to conjure a shield to block the ball, Midoriya was thrown back a few inches, forcing Rykios to grab his favourite to stop him from falling. In the chaos that followed, “Timmy” dashed off, pushing through the crowds as he made his escape.

 

“He’s getting away!”

 

Bloom, Midoriya and Rykios took off after the imposter, but quickly realised that through the thick crowds, it was all but impossible to locate him.

 

“Shit! Where did he go?!”

 

But it was too late, the imposter was gone.

 

“This isn’t good,” Midoriya remarked, “We need to warn the others that there’s an imposter on the loose.”

 


 

Somewhere else, “Timmy” stumbled into an alleyway. Barely keeping his breathing steady, he flinched when a flash of purple revealed his three very irate mistresses.

 

“You useless, good-for-nothing ogre!” Stormy screeched, “You couldn’t even do a simple job without being discovered!”

 

Icy snapped her fingers, and “Timmy” was transformed back into Knut.

 

“I-I-I didn’t know that the male Earth fairy knew that the real specialist had gone home! I-I swear!” Knut tried to defend himself.

 

“Enough with your excuses, Knut,” Icy sneered, “You will be punished later. Now get the fuck out of our sight.”

 

With another snap of her fingers, Icy teleported the frantic ogre away in a burst of ice-blue light.

 

Darcy sighed, “What a hopeless layabout, can’t do anything right.”

 

“As it is, our plan is in jeopardy,” Icy growled, “We need a back-up before they slip from us again.”

 

Stormy rubbed her chin, “As riskier as it will be, we might have to take a more proactive approach if we want our plan to work.”

 

“Well, let’s hear it then,” said Darcy.

 


 

At the centre of Magix, the racers of the Annual Race for the Rose were in the final minutes of their preparation before the flag-off. Among them, Sky and Brandon were adjusting their protective padding, occasionally glancing about, as was Stella. Riven, still fuming after the fight, was off somewhere else prepping for the race.

 

“Where are they? The race is about to start,” Sky wondered.

 

“I hope they come back soon,” Brandon muttered.

 

“You guys!”

 

The trio turned to see Bloom, Midoriya and Rykios running up to them.

 

“There you are!” relief was evident in Stella’s voice, “Where did you three go? Tell me you spotted an amazing sale.”

 

“Nothing that you’d like,” Bloom replied quickly, “But more importantly, do you guys know where Riven is?”

 

“Why? What’s wrong?” asked Sky.

 

“There’s an imposter impersonating as Timmy-san somewhere in Magix,” Midoriya explained, “Whoever this guy was, he fired a ball of purple energy at me when we confronted him. I don’t know what his motive was, but it can’t be anything good.”

 

Sky and Brandon shared a worried look. Stella shuddered, remembering the day when the one of the Trix impersonated her when they were trying to steal her ring.

 

“Do you know where Riven is?” asked Midoriya.

 

“Um...I think I last saw him over there,” Sky pointed to a direction.

 

“Thanks,” Midoriya nodded, turning on his heel.

 

“I’ll go with you, Midoriya,” Rykios offered.

 

“No need, Rykios-san,” the green-haired teen shook his head, “You need to prepare for the race. I should be fine dealing with Riven’s bullshit if it arises.”

 

Leaving no room for argument, Midoriya quickly dashed off in search of the morose specialist. It took a few minutes, but he eventually found said specialist putting on his protective padding.

 

“Riven!”

 

He turned to Midoriya, “What the fuck do you want?”

 

“Listen, there’s an imposter posing as Timmy somewhere in Magix. Whatever he was doing, it can’t be anything good-”

 

“And why the fuck should I be worried about that?” Riven sneered.

 

Midoriya was quickly losing his cool. In the ensuing argument, no one noticed Riven’s helmet, which had been placed next to his leva-bike, glow with a sickly purple aura before it faded away as if nothing had happened.

 

“There is someone impersonating your comrade! For all we know, he could be sabotaging the race to put everyone in danger!”

 

All Riven did was sniff condescendingly, “As if I would be worried about that.”

 

Midoriya came real close to exploding, but quickly reined in his temper before he caused a scene, “Fine, have it your way, Riven. Just don’t blame me or anyone else if something happens to you during the race and you get fucked up as a result.”

 

He turned on his heel, and took a step away, before glancing back at the insufferable specialist, “Then again, you’re already so fucked up I’m sure nothing else can make you worse than you already are.”

 

Riven snarled threateningly, but Midoriya was already gone. Not able to do anything else, he went to grab his helmet and slip it over his head.

 


 

At the starting line, an announcer came up to the stage with trumpets blaring and confetti being blasted in all directions. The crowd went crazy.

 

“Ladies, gentlemen, and all other genders from across the realms, welcome to the Annual Race for the Rose!”

 

Screens rose up, displaying different shots of both the announcer and the racers gearing up at the starting line.

 

“Will last year’s champion take home his third Rose trophy? Or will the losers learn a thing or two this time round?”

 

Stella, Bloom and Midoriya planted themselves near the finish line, right up against the barrier to get as close as a view as possible to see who would be that year’s victor. 

 

“Did you find Riven, Midoriya?” asked Bloom.

 

“I did. The motherfucker refused to take me seriously, so I left him to his devices lest I cause a scene,” he replied.

 

“I honestly don’t understand what goes on in that empty skull of his,” Stella sighed.

 

“Again, it all boils down to ego and whose dick is the biggest,” Bloom pointed out.

 

“And Riven is salty because his is the tiniest,” Midoriya added.

 

Stella couldn’t help the chuckle, “You two really love the penis jokes, don’t you?”

 

“With Riven, it’s true and it needs to be said,” both Midoriya and Bloom replied at the same time, surprising all three of them with the unexpected synchronicity.

 

“Wow, when did you two learn how to twin-talk?” Stella was intrigued.

 

“I….think that was unintentional, Stella-san…” Midoriya just gave a confused look.

 

Bloom was clueless herself, but shrugged it off in favour of watching one of the screens, “Hey look, they’re about to flag off!”

 

Stella and Midoriya gazed towards the screen, as the countdown ran towards the final seconds. With one loud blast of an airhorn, all of the racers shot forward in a mad surge for the lead. The crowd’s cheers went up several levels, and the announcer excitedly commented on the race.

 

“Look at them go!” Midoriya could feel the adrenaline rising even though racers were still a long way off from their position.

 

It was action one could not look away from. One screen showed the names of the racers and their current position. As it was, Sky was in the lead, followed by Rykios, Brandon and Riven. At the same time, the gap between the Red Fountain specialists and the other racers started to widen, but the rest of competition wasn’t going to make things easy for them, as a few managed to close the gap. All the time, the crowds cheered until their throats were hoarse and the announcer was running his mouth with the commentary.

 

That was when things started to get weird.

 

First, all of the screens along the track suddenly went black. 

 

“Eh? What just happened?” asked Bloom.

 

The crowd echoed her confusion. The announcer made a comment about an electronic malfunction and reassured the spectators that the technicians were working on restoring the video feeds as quickly as possible.

 

Second, unbeknownst to the Winx, the last-place rider suddenly experienced difficulty maneuvering their leva-bike. As a bend in the track approached, they were unable to turn in time, resulting in a horrific crash that sent the rider flying off their bike into the terrified spectators.

 

While this might have been written off as an unfortunate accident, other riders, one by one, started facing malfunctions with their own leva-bikes and were taken out of the race in terrifying collisions with either the barriers or each other. 

 

Within a matter of minutes, only Brandon, Sky, Riven, Rykios and an unknown rider remained in the race.

 

As the announcer frantically commented on the series of accidents, the Winx turned to one another in concern.

 

“Something isn’t right,” Bloom remarked, “All those accidents couldn’t have been a coincidence.”

 

Midoriya looked uncertain, “You don’t think...it might have been that imposter impersonating Timmy-san?”

 

“But why would they sabotage the race? For what?” Stella wanted to know.

 

None of them knew the answer.

 

As it was, Rykios had taken the lead, with the others trailing behind him. Behind his helmet, Riven scowled. He was determined to surpass them all and make that trophy his. Pushing more throttle into his leva-bike, Riven pulled away from Sky and Brandon, inching closer and closer to Rykios. 

 

He smirked, just a little bit more, and this race was his to win.

 

However, that all came crashing down when his helmet visor suddenly blacked out, blinding him.

 

“What the- my helmet! I can’t see!”

 

Everything spiralled from there. As Rykios sped ahead and Brandon and Sky overtook him, Riven let go of the handlebars to clutch at his helmet, trying to get it off his head. His leva-bike surged out of control, toppling over and sending him flying. What should have been a painful crash onto the track was suddenly prevented by the unknown rider catching him mid-air. Still, the shock was strong enough for Riven to black out momentarily.

 

A few hundred metres ahead, Midoriya caught sight of three remaining racers rapidly approaching the finish line. As the screens were still out, he couldn’t tell who were those three racers. Seconds later, all three racers passed the finish line.

 

“And there you have it, folks!” the announcer’s voice came back over the air, “We have our winner for this year’s Annual Race for the Rose! However, since the screens are still down, we will need to check with our ground crew on who passed the finish line first…”

 

The three racers came to a stop amidst the crowds half-heartedly cheering, and took off their helmets.

 

Midoriya’s eyes widened, “Rykios-san!”

 

Climbing over the barrier, Midoriya rushed towards the dark-skinned specialist, Bloom and Stella following close behind.

 

“Midoriya,” Rykios pulled the smaller teen in a hug.

 

“Rykios-san, are you okay? Did your bike malfunction or anything? Did you get hurt?”

 

“No? Why?”

 

“The other racers were all taken out by bike-malfunctions,” said Bloom, “Didn’t you hear the announcer?”

 

Rykios shook his head, Brandon echoing his comrade’s confusion, “Our helmets are soundproofed, so we didn’t hear anything.”

 

Sky, while Stella fussed over him, glanced about, “Hey guys, where’s Riven?”

 

Only then did everyone realise that the morose specialist had not crossed the finish line. However, before they could act on it, the announcer’s voice once again punctuated the air.

 

“We’re back again, folks! The screens are up and running, and thanks to the sharp eyes of the camera, we are able to determine who crossed the finish line first!”

 

The screens played a slow-down video of the three specialists crossing the finish line. Zooming in on the first racer to cross, the image flickered to that of Rykios.

 

“Give it up for Prince Rykios of Lunkimda, this year’s winner of the Race for the Rose!”

 

The crowds cheered, and Rykios found himself being pushed up to a stage bursting with fire and confetti. There, the announcer presented a large diamond trophy with a rose in full bloom as the centrepiece to the dark-skinned specialist. 

 

However, what should have been a joyous occasion was overshadowed for the Winx and specialists, as they still had no idea where Riven was. As it was, said morose specialist was fuming on the track , watching Rykios receive the trophy on one of the screens.

 

“That trophy should have been mine…”

 

Approaching him, the unknown rider who saved him took off their helmet, revealing themselves to be Darcy. 

 

“Truly shameful, isn’t it?” she muttered in faux agreement. She pressed a hand on Riven’s arm, and released a dark charm on the unsuspecting specialist, “Why don’t you ditch these losers? You can become better by yourself.”

 

Riven sighed, feeling a bit more at ease as the charm took effect, “You’re right.”

 

Darcy smirked, “Why don’t we chat over a coffee? You probably need someone to rant to right now.”

 

The redhead specialist turned to face the witch of darkness, eyes slightly glazed over, “Sure.”

 

Keeping her hand on his arm, Darcy led Riven away, no one any the wiser.

 


 

The dance that evening was generally fun for the Winx and the three remaining specialists, but like the award ceremony, it was overshadowed by Riven’s unknown status. The group decided to put that thought on hold, believing that the brooding specialist had gone back to Red Fountain first. 

 

However, when everyone had parted ways and returned to their respective schools, Riven suddenly came back into the main picture.

 

Midoriya was just chilling on his bed when his phone rang with an incoming video call from Rykios.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Midoriya, something happened.”

 

The green-haired teen sat up, “What’s the matter?”

 

“Riven quite angrily declared that he was transferring to a different squad starting next week.”

 

“Really?” Midoriya was intrigued, “Did he say why?”

 

“All he said was that he didn’t want to be associated with us any longer. He has refused to talk to any one of us since.”

 

At that moment, Midoriya fell into a conflict of emotions. On one hand, he wasn’t entirely surprised with Riven making such a move, given the existing tension with his comrades. But on the other hand, given what had happened during the day with the “Timmy” imposter, and the weird accidents befalling the racers, these incidents culminating so close to one another simply could not have been a coincidence.

 

But at the same token, what could he do?

 

“What are you planning to do about this, Rykios-san?”

 

“The guys and I are hoping that Riven is just in a bad mood, and that he’ll come to his senses...but honestly, Midoriya, I really don’t know.”

 

Midoriya was silent for a moment, “Remember all the weird things that happened today? Maybe Riven got somehow involved by that imposter posing as Timmy-san?”

 

“It’s possible,” Rykios assented, “but we don’t have proof of that.”

 

Midoriya pursed his lips, “Then...I’m too at a loss.”

 

“I understand, Midoriya, and you don’t need to fret about it,” Rykios reassured, “Ultimately, it’s my problem, as well as the guys’. Hopefully we can sort things out, otherwise we’ll just go on without Riven.”

 

“Hope so too,” Midoriya replied, thinking back to when Bakugou stopped being friends with him, before pushing the depressing thought away, “But at the same time, don’t run yourself ragged, Rykios-san. If Riven really doesn’t want to be with you guys anymore, then that’s his decision.”

 

“Yeah,” Rykios nodded, “Anyway, it’s late. You should sleep soon.”

 

“I intend to, and you should sleep as well, you must be exhausted from the race and dancing.”

 

“I will. Goodnight, Midoriya.”

 

“Goodnight, Rykios-san. Take care.”

 

The dark-skinned specialist smiled, and waved to the camera. The call ended, and Midoriya sighed, flopping back down onto his bed.

 

He hoped that Rykios was able to sort things out with Riven, though if the latter was any indication, it wasn’t going to be easy. Still, as Rykios told him to, he wasn’t going to fret too much about it. Plus, he was getting sleepy, so perhaps Morpheus’ call was the right move at that moment.

 

Provided he didn’t get any weird dreams that night, that is.

 


To Be Continued.