A/N: This is 9,000 words of pure indulgent fluff. Chapter title is from Taylor Swift's song New Year's Day to celebrate the new year, enjoy!
Tanu sighed as he stepped over yet another fallen tree, he and Kendra, who he heard behind him climbing over the same tree, were walking back after having to talk to some dryads about the satyrs visiting their territory a little too much.
The satyrs had been constantly spotted fraternizing with the tree nymphs lately. Stan was worried that they were getting too friendly and he would end up with some sort of nymph-satyr hybrid that would cause all sorts of issues for the preserve.
They picked Tanu to go, his persuasive, easy-going attitude would help the dryads agree to limit their interactions with the satyrs. Kendra was there as a translator; her fairykind powers allowed her to understand and speak the language of the dryads.
Unfortunately, that meant a long walk there through the woods and a long walk back. Tanu didn't mind much since he constantly went for hikes and walks for hours and hours on end, but as he glanced back at Kendra, he saw the smaller girl was growing tired.
"You good, kid?" he called back only earning an out of breath 'uh huh' back. Kendra had been training with her magic for the entire morning when she was recruited by her grandfather for the mission, so needless to say, she was exhausted.
Ever since Kendra had discovered telekinetic abilities, Bracken and Warren had been working it into her training. On one hand, they were two fierce trainers. On the other hand, they were the two people that were most constantly concerned about her, so while they pushed her, they also knew her limits well.
"Just another ten minutes, K!" Tanu called back. Kendra groaned in response.
"Ten minutes? It already felt like twenty went by!" she whined, causing Tanu to chuckle.
"Hang in there, kid."
They continued on for another four minutes when suddenly he heard Kendra cry out in pain, followed by the sound of someone falling. He turned to see her clutching her ankle, which was bleeding.
"Crap! You okay?" he ran back to kneel and examine her ankle. Kendra nodded but he saw the tears in her eyes. "Let me take a look?"
"I wasn't watching where I was going and I tripped over a root," she said. Her voice shook a little and Tanu could tell that she was in pain but trying to remain calm. From what he could tell, the root must have scraped her ankle, resulting in a pretty nasty gash, but not breakage.
"Well, the good news is it looks like a sprain, or a bad twist, at most. Nothing a little rest and ice won't fix. And the blood is just from the cut," Tanu began.
"But the bad news?"
"Bad news is we still have a little ways ahead of us before we get home," he paused before smiling. "Greater news, Warren's cottage is only a minute away and I am pretty sure he said something about heading there after your training session."
"Yeah, I think I can make it there," Kendra said, nodding and starting to stand.
"Woah! There is no way you are walking on that ankle, not on my watch!" Tanu exclaimed. He stood, bent down, picked Kendra up from under her arms, and hefted her onto his hip. She looked at him like he had two heads.
"What are you doing?"
Tanu started to make his way to Warren's cabin. "I'm carrying you to the cabin?"
"Okay...but why like this? I'm not two."
"To me, you're small enough to be."
"Hey!" Kendra whined. Tanu laughed.
"I'm carrying you like this because it's easier on my back, don't worry. Not because I'm trying to belittle you," he reassured her with a smile. This only seemed to worry Kendra as her eyes got big and shone with concern.
"Are you sure you're okay? I can walk! I don't want to hurt you!" she fussed but Tanu silenced her with a shake of his head.
"I'm fine, kiddo. Besides, we are just about there," it was true, the cabin was coming into view and so Kendra accepted it and laid her head on his broad shoulder. Tanu walked up the small hill and up to the door of the cabin, knocking on it. He didn't want to just barge in and startle Warren.
The door opened, revealing a confused Warren, his face melted into fondness at the sight of them.
"It's a little early for Christmas caroling, don't you think?"
"This one here took a bad fall walking back and your icebox and ibuprofen were closer," Tanu explained, carrying Kendra in as she mumbled a small 'Hi' to Warren.
"What got hurt?" Warren asked, his happy tone turning into a concerned one. Tanu set Kendra down on the counter while Warren grabbed ice from his freezer.
"Ankle," he answered him. Tanu crouched down and started examining her ankle again, wincing when he saw it had already started to bruise and swell. She must have sprained it more than he thought.
Warren whistled, peeking over Tanu's shoulder and handing him the ice. "Yup, that's a sprain all right. I've been there too many times."
"Is it bad?" Kendra asked, voice quiet. Tanu glanced up at her, her face had all the markings of someone in pain and his heart squeezed. Tanu hated to see people in pain, that's why he was always yelling at Warren for getting injured.
"Well, it's probably not a first-degree sprain, judging by the swelling, bruising and pain level."
"Don't even try to tell me the pain isn't that bad, I can see it all over your face, Kens," Tanu interrupted her before she could protest. "How bad is the pain, scale of one to ten."
"...Five," she mumbled, eyes averting.
"So, on a Kendra scale that's a solid seven, at least," Warren remarked, walking back over with a few pills and a glass of water. He gave Kendra a look that screamed 'I know you're lying' and handed her the meds.
"Is that true?" Tanu raised an eyebrow. Kendra took the ibuprofen, keeping her gaze lowered.
"...Maybe?" She admitted once the pills were down. Tanu and Warren both stared at her until she cracked. "Okay! Yes, it's more like a seven."
"Gotta be honest about pain or I won't know how bad the injury is kiddo," Tanu scolded lightly. He finished examining and prodding at her ankle and stood up.
Kendra sighed. "I know, m' sorry."
"It's okay. At least you aren't like your brother who whines about how bad it hurts everytime he gets a scrape, right?" Tanu chuckled, earning a small smile from her. "Alright, let's move this party to the living room so we can elevate your ankle and put the ice on it."
Warren picked Kendra up, spinning her around a few times with a 'weeeee'. Tanu knew he was trying to cheer her up, Kendra never did well with being even lightly scolded which is why Tanu didn't lay into her that hard. She was always worried about disappointing people, it was something they were trying to work on with her.
"Hey, Kendra, why do fishes like salt water?" Warren asked her while he set her down in the middle couch.
"I don't know, why?" Kendra said, her voice hesitant.
"Because pepper water makes them sneeze!" He finished, bopping her on the nose as he straightened. Tanu barked a laugh, sitting down on her left. Kendra looked horrified.
"Oh my…" Warren laughed at Kendra's reaction before gently lifting her leg with the injured ankle and placing it on the coffee table with a pillow under it. Gingerly setting the bag of ice down on it he then sat down on her right side and put an arm around her, pulling her close.
"Other than the ankle, how did the talk with the dryads go?" Warren asked them.
"It went smoothly. Kendra did most of the talking, I barely had to do anything," Tanu picked up one of the books on the side table, reading the description.
"That's good. I think Stan was gonna pop a vein when he overheard Newel and Doren talking about marrying and starting a family with one of them. It was hilarious," Warren chuckled, leaning his head on the back of the couch.
"Could you imagine? Jeez, I would have seen it all by then," Tanu set the book aside, not finding the story description compelling enough to start reading it now. Looking over at the other two he noticed Kendra looked quite sleepy. He watched as her eyes slid shut only to snap back open, then repeating the cycle. It was very amusing.
"You want us to bring you upstairs so you can sleep on the bed, Kens?" He asked her. Kendra blearily lifted her head and peered at him.
"...No…'m comfy here. Cuddles," she practically slurred. Warren had lifted his head and was now watching, amusement written all over his face.
"The bed is comfier, you're going to hurt your neck if you sleep like this," he reasoned, Tanu humming his agreement.
Kendra lifted her head again, this time sitting all the way up. She reached over grabbing the ice and pillow from her ankle, handing the ice to Tanu and placing the pillow on his lap. He took them in confusion, only realizing what she was aiming for when she swung her legs onto the pillow and then laid down with her head in Warren's lap.
"There. Problem solved," she whispered, eyes closed and already half asleep. Warren smiled, throwing his own feet up on the coffee table.
Tanu resigned himself to nap time on the couch, not that it was much of an issue. He usually took naps sitting up back at Fablehaven as sleeping sitting up was surprisingly easier on his back. So, he followed Warren's example and leaned his head on the back of the couch, fully content.
Soon, he was fast asleep.
Dale was sitting on the couch in the living room reading his favorite novel when he heard soft footsteps walking into the room. Glancing up he saw his little cousin Kendra head over to the couch and sit down next to him.
"Hey, Kens," he said simply, eyes trailing back to the book. She mumbled a small hello back but said nothing more. Over the next few minutes, Dale could feel her glancing at him every now and then. She obviously wanted something but was too afraid to ask him.
"Okay," Dale went back to reading. More glances. What could she possibly want? Dale mulled it over while pretending to read. She seemed down, maybe something happened? But Dale wasn't usually the one she would go to if she was upset. Hm.
Then it hit him. He resisted a smile as he realized just exactly Kendra wanted. Next time she glanced over at him, he held an arm out. An invitation. And just like he predicted, Kendra brightened and immediately latched onto his side, curling up.
Kendra sometimes simply needed to cuddle. Now, Dale wasn't her usual go to, but he figured she chose him because he was simply here. Warren had slept at his cabin the past night and had yet to arrive back at the main house, Stan and Ruth had gone grocery shopping, Tanu and Vanessa were out collecting potion ingredients with their self-appointed apprentice, Seth, and Bracken was at the fairy realm. Which left him.
"Thanks," she murmured and he simply hummed back, focusing on his book. "For everything. Not just this. You do a lot and I know we don't thank you enough but you deserve to hear it more."
This made him pause. "...You're welcome, Kens. But you don't need to thank me."
"Yeah, I do," Kendra didn't elaborate, so Dale didn't push it but he knew there must be a deeper meaning to what she said. A reason. What would make her thank him out of the blue? A nightmare? He knew she got those a lot.
Dale knew that he wasn't the best at comforting so he decided against prying deeper just in case it upset her. He would leave that to Warren, he understood Kendra better than him. Instead, he just held her close while he continued to read. This he could do.
Vanessa sighed as she started up the oven top. It was early in the morning and she was making breakfast for everyone as it was her turn in the rotation. She sprayed some non-stick oil on the pan and waited a few minutes for it to warm up.
Once the pan was at an appropriate temperature, she cracked a few eggs on it. Scrambled eggs were easy, she could make that. What she was worried about were the stupid pancakes the Sorensons had a love for.
Maybe she should just make oatmeal with the eggs instead.
Just as she started to scramble the eggs in the pan she felt a pair of arms creep around her waist and someone lean up against her back. The body was way too small to be Warren, who was really the only one who would do this, and the height of where their head was rested on her back only left one person.
"Morning Kendra," Vanessa greeted softly. She heard Kendra whisper something back but couldn't quite make out what she said. "You're up early."
It wasn't really a statement but a question. "Couldn't sleep."
Vanessa sighed, she knew all too well that nightmares could keep you awake all night. Not only leaving you physically exhausted but emotionally as well. "Come here."
Kendra shuffled around to her side, arms never unhooking from around Vanessa's waist. Vanessa threw an arm around Kendra's shoulders in a side hug and continued cooking with one arm.
"Do you want some help?" she heard Kendra ask.
"I got it for now," she cracked another few eggs into the pan. "In a bit, you can help me make the pancakes. I was going to do oatmeal because I hate making pancakes-"
Kendra started giggling. "That's because you can't make them."
"No one asked you, pequeña hada," Kendra gave her a confused look but Vanessa pressed on. "Like I was saying, I wasn't going to bother but now that you're here, I have help."
"Sounds like a plan!"
Vanessa continued making the eggs. When you have up to thirteen people in one house, quite a few of them huge men and a growing boy, you had to make a lot of food. It's why everyone hates being on kitchen duty.
In fact, the only ones that don't mind are Warren and Kendra, both of whom, for some reason, Vanessa can't understand, love to bake and cook. Their many bake-offs between the two usually result in a food fight, a messy kitchen, and enough baked goods to supply three bakeries.
"Okay, done with the eggs. Pancake time," she expected Kendra to let go of her then, but the young girl didn't move. "Kendra?"
"Give me a minute please," Vanessa heard the pleading tone in Kendra's voice and frowned. She turned and properly hugged Kendra, feeling worry tug at her emotions.
"Those nightmares really got you, didn't they?" she didn't want to pry but she couldn't help asking. God, she was turning into Warren.
"Try again, liar."
"Rude, but yeah."
Vanessa gave her a tight squeeze and then just...stood there, letting Kendra hug her for a few minutes. If this helped the younger girl, then Vanessa couldn't help but allow it, no matter how out of her ballpark it was. Maybe she had a soft spot for Kendra, maybe she was just putting off making pancakes, either way, no one could prove anything.
"Okay," Kendra took a deep breath, letting go and stepping away. "I'm good. Let's make some pancakes!"
"You say that so happily when in reality what we about to do is hell," Vanessa muttered, turning and walking to the pantry to get the supplies.
"Vanessa Santoro, trained spy, badass knight, veteran of Zzyzx, terror of the night, thinks making pancakes is hell," Kendra called to her. "Oh wait until the Knights here about this!"
Vanessa stalked out of the pantry, arms full of pancake supplies. "If anyone hears of it, then the next thing they will be gossiping about is your obituary."
"Been there, done that," Kendra flicked her hair off her shoulder, and grabbed a few of the supplies. "Now, if you're done threatening me, let's get cooking!"
Vanessa bit back a groan but joined Kendra at the counter. She followed whatever Kendra said, trusting Kendra knew what she was doing. They talked at they made enough pancakes to feed ten horses, laughing and making jokes, many at Warren's expense.
At times she could see Kendra's bright smile falter, and she felt that tug of worry again. She would talk to her about it but she wasn't good at the emotional stuff. She'll leave that to Warren, who she was sure would clock the problem at hand in seconds.
Still, the fact that Kendra had come down and to seek comfort from Vanessa made her feel like their relationship was slowly starting to patch itself up. There had been some talks, a lot of tears, and many apologies. But, they were getting there.
Vanessa smiled at the thought, glancing over to where Kendra was plating the newest batch of pancakes. She was sure that this wouldn't be the last time Kendra came to her for some kind of comfort and warmth spread through her heart.
"Hey, mija, you know I love you right?"
Kendra looked up, surprise written all over her face before she smiled softly. "I love you too, Van."
The steady rumble of the plane's engine relaxed Trask as the entered the fourth hour of a thirteen-hour flight. Himself, Warren and Kendra were heading to Tokyo so that Kendra could help with the rebuilding of the Fairy Queen's shrine at the preserve there.
The mission would be easy, this flight, however, would not be.
Kendra fidgeted next to him in her seat as she tried to sleep. Their seats were more comfortable than usual, due to the long flight time, but they were still hard to sleep in. They had boarded the plane at 12 AM, hoping that the red-eye flight would help them sleep.
A quick glance across the aisle proved that it had worked for Warren who was out like a light. Trask was used to late nights so he was positive he would be awake for a while, but Kendra was usually asleep by now as it was 4 am.
Instead, she had been tossing and turning for the last three hours, clearly unable to sleep. Trask realized that it wouldn't be good for the mission if she was running on no sleep as she was pretty much the main star.
"Here," he stage-whispered and pushed the armrest between them up. "Lay down."
Kendra stared at him for a moment. "Are you sure?"
"You need your sleep, come on." He took her Stitch pillow and placed on his lap before nudging her until she laid down. He pulled her blanket over her and sat back, satisfied. Trask opened the book he brought with him, content to sit there and read until sleep overcame him.
"Thanks, Trask," Kendra mumbled, sounding half asleep already.
"No problem, little fairy."
"Not you too!"
Trask laughed at her half-hearted complaining and got to reading. Kendra was sound asleep within the next half hour and he was left with only his book for entertainment. Warren woke up about two hours later and grinned at the sight of Kendra asleep on Trask's lap.
"Oh man, she has you wrapped around her finger," he teased, taking a picture with his cell phone. Trask glared at the camera, resisting the urge to flip him off.
"No, she just couldn't sleep sitting up and that would hurt the mission."
"Don't even try it. I'm wrapped up with you on that tiny finger of hers. I'm pretty sure everyone back home is," Warren laughed, sitting back in his seat. Trask sighed, knowing he would never win an argument with the other man.
Looking down at Kendra's peaceful expression, Trask felt his resolve crumble. "Okay, maybe you're right."
"I definitely am."
"Quiet, Burgess." Trask went back to reading, he was close to falling asleep himself but he wanted to finish this chapter. Warren opened his tablet and was now watching a movie with his headphones in, apparently having slept long enough.
Eventually, he put away the book and settled back in his seat. He closed his eyes, listening to the constant rumble of the plane to lure him to sleep. If Trask's hand strayed to play with Kendra's hair, it would have been a subconscious move thank you very much.
Besides, he would deny it even with the video evidence Warren claimed to have.
The smell of paint had filled the room by the time Elise was halfway through her newest painting. It was one of the Lost Mesa preserve, referenced from one of Mara's old pictures. With Christmas around the corner, Elise thought this painting would be the perfect last minute add on to Mara's gift.
A knock was heard at her door so she put her brush down to answer it. She opened the door a sliver and peeked out, in case it was Mara. But her worries were for nothing as it was Kendra. Elise smiled and opened the door fully and let the small girl in.
"What's up, little fairy!" Elise greeted, relishing in the exasperated look she earned from Kendra at the nickname.
"You too!" Kendra cried, throwing herself onto the painting bench. Elise sat down next to her back in front of the painting. She would never tell Kendra, but when Warren had started the 'little fairy' thing, he had told all the adults to call her that and not tell her why.
"What brings you to my room today?"
"Oh, nothing," Kendra sighed, waving a hand that was more a sweater paw than a hand in the air. "I was in the neighborhood."
Elise snorted at that, dipping her paintbrush into an orange-red color and resumed painting. "I see."
"Wait, Elise, this is beautiful!" Kendra gasped. "Is that…?"
"Lost Mesa? Yes, it's part of Mara's Christmas present," she glanced at the younger girl. "You've been there, am I doing it justice?"
Elise had worried that the painting wouldn't be accurate enough but Kendra nodded and smiled. "Of course you are! It's amazing, you are seriously talented."
"Aw, thank you, K."
She resumed painting, humming along to the music that was playing from the speakers. She threw an arm around Kendra who put her head on Elise's shoulder as she watched her add to the painting, brush stroke by brush stroke.
It was a peaceful scene that Elise wished she could see for herself so she could paint it. Maybe she would try from imagination. That would be a good present for Kendra herself.
"I wish I could paint like you," Kendra sighed. Elise smiled down on her, the compliment warming her heart.
"I could totally teach you if you want," Elise said, swiping Kendra's cheek with her paintbrush, leaving a streak of blue on her skin. Kendra gasped, then laughed softly.
"Hey!" she poked Elise's shoulder. "Keep your paint on the canvas and off my face."
"What are you gonna do about it, little fairy?"
Kendra groaned slumping against her as Elise laughed. She felt at peace and happy as they sat there, joking around, one painting, one watching, both smiling.
Mara took a deep breath of summer air as she laid on a blanket out in the sun. After a full day of training yesterday that left her with more than a few aching muscles, it was nice to just relax in silence.
The sun beat down on her, warming her pleasantly and reminding her Lost Mesa. As she got lost in her memories, she failed to notice someone walking up to her and was surprised out of her lazy river of thought when that someone laid down next to her.
Mara cracked open an eye to see Kendra laying there, eyes closed. She paused for a moment before shrugging mentally and closed her eye again.
For the next few minutes, the two laid there in total silence. Mara had no problem with this, but it struck her as out of character for Kendra. Not that the young fairykind was a talkative one, Kendra actually was pretty quiet, but she wasn't someone to be totally silent.
Mara mulled it over in her mind. Why was keeping Kendra so silent? Had she had another nightmare? No, it was late afternoon and she had shown no signs of it this morning. Was she just tired? No, tired Kendra was even more talkative. What usually made Kendra quiet?
When she was hurt or offended. Had someone said something to her? Not likely.
When she was scared or nervous. Why would she be scared? Nothing about sunbathing was particularly frightening.
Was she nervous? Why? Mara realized it might be Mara that made her nervous. But then why come lay with her? What could she possibly need?
Mara fought back against the smile pulling on her lips, she should have known. What was it that Warren always called Kendra? Koala bear? Fitting. She opened her eyes then pulled Kendra to her.
Kendra started a bit at Mara's movement. "Wha-"
"Shh," Kendra relaxed in her arms at Mara's hushing and fell silent. Mara rested her head on Kendra's and closed her eyes again. She could practically hear Kendra's mind racing with questions.
"Are you surprised I can enjoy a cuddle every once in a while?"
"I just thought...you don't like contact much...so I was just gonna lay by you," Kendra mumbled. Mara felt touched by the answer. A lot of people didn't understand her request to not have physical contact, something she had no problem reminding them of but was tired of having to.
Knowing that Kendra, who loves physical contact and was regarded as the biggest cuddle monster of them all, respected Mara's request to not be touched, without Mara having to even request it, made her very happy.
"Thank you, little fairy," Mara whispered. "That's very sweet of you."
They lapsed back into silence as birds tweeted above them and fairies flitted about the garden. Two more minutes of silence and Mara decided she could be the one to talk for one day.
She began telling Kendra all about life on Lost Mesa, ranging from stories of her mother to stories of her adventures her mother never knew about. She told Kendra all about the rare magical creatures they had, and the nights she would sleep on the roof to stargaze.
Mara only pauses when Kendra spoke her name softly. "Hm? What is it?"
"Why are you telling me all of this?" Kendra asked timidly in a way that sounded like Kendra was surprised Mara was even talking to her. Mara realized Kendra must have thought she didn't like her or some sort of thing.
"Because why not?" Mara glanced at Kendra was blinking up at her, eyes wide. "What, you think I don't absolutely adore you? Please, I think it's possible that even the demon king himself died thinking, 'at least it was by her hands' because you are utterly not dislikable."
"Why am I telling you all this? Because I know you love stories like this, you love hearing about preserves and learning new things, so why wouldn't I tell you?"
"Because you hate talking?"
Mara snorted. "Okay, you got me there. But I don't mind it at times, sometimes it's nice."
Kendra was quiet for a moment and Mara considered the conversation done, but then she spoke up one more time. "Is this one of those times?"
"Yes," Mara smiled at her. "Yes, it is."
Kendra's grin made her own cheeks hurt. They laid out there for a while, sometimes talking sometimes not. Eventually, Elise came out to get them, saying Ruth needed their help for dinner. Kendra helped her fold the blanket and off they went to make whatever it is they were eating. At the door, Kendra turned to Mara.
"No problem, little fairy."
"Okay, seriously, who started that nickname because lately…"
Mara laughed as Kendra ranted off. Today had been a good day and it wasn't even over yet. She wasn't one for socialization, Elise was really the only one that could get her to talk a whole bunch, but Mara guessed that she should add Kendra to that list.
What a special little fairy that girl was.
Seth woke up panting and drenched in sweat. He could still feel Graulas's teeth clamped into his shoulder as hs body burned. He shivered at the dream - no, memory - and sat up. He brought his knees to his chest and rested his chin on them.
There was no way he could sleep. Not after that.
Maybe he could play video games? No, he wasn't in the mood. He looked across the room to the empty bed that was there. Ever since Kendra turned eighteen, she had been moved to a room downstairs. Stupid child spells.
Seth frowned. Why couldn't Kendra just be here? Whenever he woke up with a nightmare before she would be there to hug him and let him spend the rest of the night in her bed just like their first midsummer's eve.
"Screw it," he muttered, jumping out of bed. He brought Toothless, his stuffed dragon, with him as he snuck downstairs. He tiptoed down the hall to Kendra's door then slowly opened it. He poked his head in and saw Kendra look up blearily at the sound of her door opening.
"Hello?" she called, she sounded frightened. "Who's there?"
Seth realized with a start he had been shade walking without knowing. "Sorry, Kenny," he apologized as he reappeared. "Didn't mean to scare you."
"Seth?" she sat up completely, now. Seth stepped into the room and shut the door as Kendra turned on a lamp. "You shouldn't be out of the attic! What if something happens?"
Seth scoffed at that. "Please, nothing has happened for years. Also, why turn on the lamp, you don't need it."
"It's more for you than for me."
Seth nodded awkwardly, not sure what to do. He hadn't really thought of what he was going to do or say once he was in Kendra's room, he just got up and left. He could feel his sister's eyes on him and wanted to just turn around and go back upstairs. Maybe wallowing in the dark wouldn't be so bad.
"Seth, what is it?" Kendra asked softly. He risked a glance at her and saw her watching him with a worried look.
"I…" he started before losing confidence. No. He was Seth freakin' Sorenson. He wasn't scared of anything. "I had a nightmare."
Okay, maybe he was scared of nightmares. Especially ones that were mostly a memory.
"Come here," she motioned to the bed, Seth couldn't deny her so he climbed up on the bed next to her and let her wrap her arms around him. "It was just a stupid nightmare, you're safe."
"But it wasn't a stupid nightmare," he mumbled into her shoulder. "It was a memory."
Kendra pulled away and Seth found himself mourning the loss of her arms around him. "Zzyzx again?"
"You want to spend the night here?"
Seth looked up at her, hopeful. "Can I?"
She didn't answer him, instead turning off the lamp and laying back down. "Come on, you should at least try to sleep.
"Can't we just play a game until morning?" he grumbled but laid down anyways. Kendra wrapped her arms around him once more, not answering his complaining. Instantly he felt safer and more secure.
Maybe fairykind people had the power to make you feel that way...maybe it was just a big sibling thing.
Seth thought back on his memories with Kendra. Sure, she wasn't the first person to run into battle, and sure she told on him when he broke the rules sometimes or scolded him herself. But when it came down to it, she was always in his corner.
One time, way before Fablehaven, someone had been bullying Seth. When Kendra caught wind of this, she had approached the bully after school. Seth had watched, astonished, as she threatened to call the bully's parents on him and when the kid had pushed her, she had slammed a fist into his nose.
Kendra had been troubled over it for weeks, worrying their parents would find out, and feeling bad for hurting someone. But when Seth asked her if she regretted it she had told him,
"Of course not, no one messes with my little brother and gets away with it."
She had also told him violence still wasn't the answer but Seth ignored that part. He smiled and hugged Kendra closer. He was pretty sure she was already asleep but he still felt like no one could hurt him while he was here. No magic spells were needed, just Kendra.
Seth closed his eyes and made a promise to himself: No one would hurt Kendra while he was here, no one hurts the best older sister in the world without facing his awesome shadow charmer powers. Not on his watch.
Stan sighed and took his glasses off before leaning his head on his desk. He was tired of all the damn paperwork being captain of the Knights of the Dawn came with. The war was over but now he had a million loose ends to tie together, not to mention put his own preserve back into motion.
He was exhausted.
A soft knock came at his door and he lifted his head to see Kendra poke her head in. "Hey grandpa, just wanted to say goodnight. Is that okay?"
"Of course, I'm never too busy for you," he smiled at her and stood. Stan walked around the desk to meet her and give her a hug.
"Night, try not to be up too late," Kendra's voice was a bit muffled but he understood her.
"Hey!" Kendra pulled back with a pout. "I'm only nagging because I care."
Stan placed a hand on her head, laughing a bit at her protest. "I know, I know."
Kendra's eyes softened with concern as she studied Stan. He suddenly understood what Seth meant by feeling like she could read minds. "You have dark circles and your eyes are red. Go to sleep, the work will be there tomorrow."
Stan would love to do just that, but if he wanted to get anything done in time, he had more work to do. "Just a few more things I have to do, but I promise I'll get to bed soon."
Kendra didn't seem happy about this, she probably caught him in that lie, but she didn't say anything else. Instead, she hugged him again, tighter this time. "Love you, Grandpa."
"I love you too," he said, squeezing her right back. "Now, off to bed with you."
Kendra muttered one last 'goodnight' and left the study. Stan sat back down at his desk, sighing at all the work he had left to do. Still, even at the late hour, he felt a little more refreshed compared to five minutes ago.
The power of a good hug, he guessed.
Ruth walked down the stairs furrowing her brow at the smell of cinnamon in the air, which could only mean someone was baking. It was her turn on the rotation to cook so this left her terribly confused. She entered the kitchen to see Kendra bustling about, baking supplies covered the kitchen counter and she could see some sort of pastries cooling on a rack.
"What is this?" Ruth exclaimed, surprised. Kendra turned around and smiled brightly.
"But it's my turn!"
Kendra shrugged. "You deserve a break, so I took a recipe from the yellow cooking book and went to work."
The smell of cinnamon was stronger now, mixed with something else Ruth couldn't quite place. She walked to the kitchen counter and took a look at the pastries. "What recipe did you choose?"
"Pumpkin scones with cinnamon butter," Kendra told her as she pulled another batch out of the oven. They were baked perfectly, not a single one was burnt.
Ruth smiled at her granddaughter proudly. "That was my mother's recipe. I'm surprised you picked that one!"
"Well, it's autumn, so, you know, pumpkin," Kendra sighed. "I just hope they taste good."
Ruth wrapped an arm around her and placed a hand on her cheek. "I'm sure they are wonderful, my dear."
Kendra beamed up at her before giving her a hug. "Thanks, grandma."
"You're welcome, Kendra," Ruth smoothed Kendra's slightly messy from baking hair down and brushed some flour off the top of her head. "You know I am very proud of you."
Kendra pulled away and looked up at her confused. "For making breakfast?"
"You better not be trying to make me cry so early."
Ruth laughed as the timer on the oven went off and Kendra hurried over to pull out the last batch of scones. Ruth helped Kendra glaze them once they were cool enough and the helped her clean the kitchen. They finished just in time for the first stragglers, Warren and Dale, to come wandering in.
"Ruth, did you go all out this morning?" Dale asked, eyebrows raised at the sight of the pastries waiting on the counter.
"I did not, but Kendra did."
"Bless you, Kens, these are just what I needed."
The two brothers grabbed a few and collapsed at the table, Warren had already bitten into one by the time he sat down. "Oh my god, damn it K, you've done it again. Where did you learn to bake?"
Kendra smiled at the praise and leaned against her grandmother. Ruth wrapped an arm around her and joined her in watching Warren and Dale goof off and tease each other as usual. The rest of the family came down, each complimenting Kendra on her baking.
Kendra didn't make herself a plate until everyone had woken up and came down, Ruth followed her example so she wouldn't be waiting alone. Eventually, she found herself sitting down next to her husband. One taste of the scone had brought Ruth back to her childhood and she felt her heart swell.
After breakfast, she found Kendra in the living room and wrapped her up in a tight hug. Ruth pulled back and took her granddaughters face gently in her hands. "That was a difficult recipe and you did it perfectly. You have a natural talent and my mother would be just as proud as I am."
Seeing Kendra's face light up made Ruth's day - no - her week.
Marla woke up to the feeling of someone crawling into her and Scotts bed. She lifted her head to see her daughter Kendra laying down between them. "Hey, baby. What's up?"
"I just wanted to lay with you guys," Kendra whispered, Marla picked up on her sad tone and tucked a piece of hair behind Kendra's ear. "I've missed you, you guys keep leaving."
This hurt Marla's heart to hear. They hadn't meant to always be leaving their kids behind, it was hard to adjust to the magical world and they often needed breaks. She and Scott had offered to bring their kids but the two were reluctant to leave Fablehaven.
"I'm sorry, sweet girl. I promise we have no plans to leave for the near future, okay?" Kendra nodded, hugging Marla close. Scott had now woken up and turned to them.
"Something wrong?" he mumbled, clearly still half asleep.
"No, Dad," Kendra reassured him. "Go back to sleep."
"Nah, I think I'd rather hold my two favorite girls close until they spill on what's wrong," he argued, wrapping an arm around them both.
"She just missed us that's all," Marla explained, giving him a look. Scott seemed to understand what she was trying to say and huddled in closer to them.
"We're right here, my angel," he said to Kendra. Marla squinted in the dark and could see that Kendra looked like she wanted to cry. She couldn't blame her daughter, it had been a rough few years for them.
Especially since they had thought she was dead for some time. Just the thought of the whole ordeal made Marla want to break down. Losing Kendra had been the worst thing she had ever gone through and she never wanted to experience it again. She held Kendra a little tighter, wanting to just keep her safe and protected in her arms forever.
She felt a drop of something fall onto her neck and realized Kendra was crying. Marla pressed a soft kiss to her daughter's forehead. "Don't cry, Kenny. It's okay, you're okay, we're okay, everything is okay."
"I know, I just…" Kendra trailed off, but Marla understood.
"It's been a while since we had cuddle time, huh?" Scott muttered, voice a little muffled by Kendra's hair since his head was resting on top of hers.
Ever since Kendra was very little, she would always try to find time to sit or lay in between them and cuddle. Aptly named, cuddle time. They had figured it would go away when she grew up but even now, at sixteen, she still loved cuddle time.
Marla was just glad that their close relationship had survived the past few tumultuous years.
"Then we need to make up for lost time, don't we?" Kendra said, causing her parents to laugh softly.
"Of course, whatever you want," Marla whispered.
"We love you, Kendra," Scott's voice held many varying emotions, mimicking how Marla felt. Kendra squeezed her arms around Marla tighter.
"I love you guys, too."
"No, dude, you are wrong. The best rose color is yellow, that is that," Warren argued as he pushed open the door to the kitchen. Dale huffed behind him, exasperated.
"Classic red is the way to go, Warren. It's the most popular for a reason!"
Warren waved a hand in the air, not bothering to argue. Instead, he headed upstairs while Dale stayed behind to get something to eat. Now that he was done with the chores, Warren could do anything and to be honest he just wanted to lay in bed doing nothing.
He reached the landing and made his way to his room, Next to his room, Kendra's door was open and he saw her sitting on her bed. As he passed he called out a quick greeting. "Hey, K."
Warren halted in his tracks and backed up. Kendra's voice sounded strained and sad, which made him think she had been crying. He leaned up against her doorframe. "You okay?"
Kendra's back was to the door so he couldn't see her face and she didn't answer, but her hand came up to brush her face like she was wiping tears away. Warren pushed off the door frame and walked into the room fully. He shut the door behind him and sat on her bed.
"Yeah..I'm…" Kendra trailed off with a sigh. She turned towards him and he could see her eyes were red-rimmed and her cheeks still had traces of tears on them. "Nightmare, you know? Those darn things."
Her laugh sounded hollow and Warren sighed. "What was it this time? Zzyzx? Wyrmroost?"
"Everyone I love dying."
"Oh boy." Warren crawled onto the bed fully and sat with his back against the headboard. "Come here."
Kendra didn't protest and let him pull her into his arms. When you mix being a kid with being a literal war veteran, you end up with a kid with PTSD and chronic nightmares. So, this was, unfortunately, a normal thing, Kendra had nightmares often, sometimes Warren had to rush over to her room and wake her up because she was screaming in terror.
"You wanna talk about it?" he whispered and rested his chin on her head.
Warren expected the answer, Kendra never wanted to talk about her dreams. Sometimes she would open up, most of the time because of his persistent asking, but usually she shut down and didn't let anyone in. Even him and Bracken.
"You know we're all safe, right? We're all here." He ran his hand up and down her back, Warren knew that the dreams where her family was dead hit her the hardest. He couldn't blame her, he had a few of those in his lifetime and each time he had one it had taken him a full day to get his head on straight.
"I know, it's just…" she trailed off leaning her head on his shoulder.
"It's just what?"
"It's hard seeing everyone dead. It sticks in my mind and I start to think about the future and how while you all might be okay now, one day you might not be."
Warren sighed, he understood that thought path very well. He was a professional worrier at this point, but that doesn't mean he wants Kendra to have the same thoughts. "K, you can't think like that. You're gonna just upset yourself."
"I was already upset so I guess it doesn't matter," Kendra mumbled, she sat up and reached for her Stitch plushie. Warren grabbed it and handed it to her and she clutched it to her chest and leaned back against him.
"Well, the being upset stops now. We are gonna have fun and you are gonna like it." he used his best threatening voice and she giggled.
"Oh really? And if I don't like it? What if I hate it?"
"Then I guess I'll have to do...this!" Warren grabbed her around the waist and picked her up as she shrieked, then he tossed her back onto the bed. Kendra righted herself once she landed, laughing hard. "Don't make me throw you again, little fairy."
"I'm gonna ignore the little fairy part and to say: again! Do it again!" she exclaimed as she sat up.
"You're supposed to hate it, remember?"
"But it was fun."
"Ha! My plan worked!" Warren pointed a finger gun at her teasingly, Kendra flopped back onto her bed when he pretending to shoot her, going limp. "I've defeated the great Kendra Sorenson! I've done what the demon king couldn't! Victory is sweet!"
Kendra popped back up, "Actually I heard victory is pretty bitter."
"Shush! You're supposed to be dead!" Warren pushed her back onto her pillows, Kendra fought against a smile but soon lost the battle and was grinning ear to ear. He dropped his act and collapsed next to her, satisfied that she was feeling better.
"What should we do now?" Kendra asked, he considered their options, all of which he made sure they could do with minimal effort...it was a lazy day.
"How about we braid each others hair and tell our deepest darkest secrets?"
Kendra broke out laughing. "Absolutely not."
Warren thought about it some more, trying to think of something that would be fun. Finally, he got the right answer. He quickly got up and fetched the iPad on Kendra's desk. She looked at him in confusion as he walked back to the bed.
"What are we gonna do with that?"
"Cuddle and play games or watch videos. The perfect lazy activity."
Kendra shrugged and accepted it. He climbed back into the be and laid down. He opened the iPad and started scrolling through the games as Kendra grabbed her throw blanket and tossed it over them, huddling in close and watching him choose an app.
Four the next few hours they played crime games, match games, watched vine compilations, took turns playing action games and even lost many times playing try not to laugh challenges.
Kendra eventually fell asleep after their sixtieth round of Candy Crush and Warren placed the iPad aside, resigning himself to take a nap as well. He wrapped an arm around Kendra, careful not to disturb her and settled against the pillows.
While this little hangout was unplanned and started off with tears, it had ended with laughter and a nap. Warren would take this over hanging out in his room alone anyday.
Bracken reached the top of the stairs at the main house at Fablehaven. He was finally able to visit after almost two months gone, he had let Seth know who told everybody else. Everybody else that is, except Kendra. At his request of course.
He figured it would be nice to surprise her.
Bracken reached the door to Kendra's room and did his best to silently open it. Kendra laid asleep in her bed, unaware to him stepping into the room. Bracken softly shut the door, wincing when it creaked but thankfully Kendra stayed asleep.
Tiptoeing to the bed, he knelt on the side and gently shook her shoulder. Kendra whined and swatted at his hand. "Five more minutes."
Bracken grinned but said nothing, knowing his accent would give him away. He shook her shoulder again, choking down laughter when his girlfriend covered her head with a pillow in response. He calmed down and shook her shoulder one more time.
This time, Kendra popped her head up and blearily stared at him. Kendra blinked a few times before her face melted into shock, then pure elation. "Oh my god!"
Bracken only had time to smile before her arms were around him in a tight hug. He was nearly thrown off the bed with the force she collided him with but he kept his balance and hugged her back.
"You're here! Oh my god, you're here." Kendra gasped, he laughed happily, her reaction was worth the few days where he couldn't tell her he would be coming so soon as she told him she had missed him.
"It would appear I am indeed here." he smiled.
Kendra pulled back, misty eyes meeting his. "Don't give me that nonchalant bull right now, unicorn, how long have you know you were coming?"
"...I may have known for about it for four days."
"Bracken no last name, how dare you!" she scolded him, he laughed freely ignoring her softly hitting her fists against his chest. "You lied to me two days ago! You said you thought you would be gone another month! Do you know how sad I was?"
Bracken caught her hands before they could hit his chest again. "Yes, but how happy are you now?"
That softened her up and she sighed. "...Very. I am very happy right now. Come here."
With that, he tugged him down so they were laying down and latched onto his side. He ran his hand up and down her side softly. It was quiet for a moment, Bracken felt truly at peace. What more did he need than Kendra in his arms and happy?
"Stop it you're tickling me," she giggled as his hand brushed her side again. Bracken felt a pull of mischievousness and moved his fingers against her side again. "Bracken!"
"Oh, my apologies, are you ticklish? I had no clue!" Bracken faked astonishment then quickly tickled her again. Kendra shrieked and sat up. She pointed a finger at him with a glare and he smiled back innocently.
"Try me, pony boy. I dare you to try me, I want you to try me, go ahead test your luck."
"My dear, I have no idea what you are talking about, why don't you lay back down?"
"Uh uh, no chance, not happening until you pinky swear not to tickle my side again," Kendra held out her pinky so her gladly hooked his with hers, using their linked fingers to pull her back down next to him.
Kendra rested her head on the pillow, her face close to his. "You know, you have very pretty eyes."
"Not as pretty as yours, my love," he said fully turning on his side to face her. He caught the end of an eye roll and smiled. Bracken reached up to run his thumb along her cheekbone. "And not nearly as breathtaking as your face."
"Sweet talking won't make me forget your crimes, Bracken," she said but the soft smile on her face paired with a slight blush showed her true feelings.
"Crimes? What crimes?"
"There's a reason you were in the prison you know."
This caught him off guard and he cracked up laughing, leading Kendra to start giggling as well. One thing he loved about Kendra was he never knew what to expect from her, he would have to add this to his list of unexpected Kendra moments.
As Bracken sobered, Kendra placed a hand on his jawline. "I've missed you a whole lot, you know?"
"I've missed you just as much, I assure you," he whispered, Kendra smiled softly then leaned in to press her lips against his. He kissed her back gently, their lips moving lazily as he ran his fingers through her curly hair.
Eventually, he pulled away, resting his forehead against hers. They stayed there like that for a minute, simply enjoying each other's presence. The moment was so peaceful Bracken was hesitant to disrupt it by speaking, in the end, he didn't have to because Kendra did.
"How long are you staying?" she asked him quietly.
Bracken smiled. "You ready for the next surprise?"
"What do you mean?"
"I'm here for at least three months."
"What?!" Kendra's eyes grew wide in shock. "How? Doesn't your mother need you?"
"We finished the shrine, so mother gave me this time off since it was a lot of hard work and it kept me away from you for quite some time," Bracken explained, enjoying how an excited grin took over Kendra's face. She threw her arms around him again the best she could laying down.
"That's so much time! We can do so much!" she exclaimed, squeezing him tighter. "I'm so happy I think my heart will burst."
Bracken chuckled, burying his face in her neck. "I'm not sure I could heal that."
"I'll try to tone it down then," she giggled. Bracken loved her laugh so much, the pure happiness it represented made his heart swell every time he heard it.
"I love you," he whispered in her ear.
"I love you, too," Kendra breathed. He could feel her emotions from where her fingers met the skin on his neck, all of her happiness and love flooded through him. It was the greatest feeling in the world and he wouldn't trade it for anything.
Kendra huddled in closer and tangled their legs together. It was clear she would not be letting him out of her arms for quite some time and he was more than okay with that.
Kendra woke up on October twenty fifth by someone jumping on her bed and laying on top of her. Before she could even open her eyes or complain, another weight was added, then another.
She lifted her head to see Seth had thrown himself on top of her and Warren and Bracken had jumped into the bed on either side of her, the rest of her family soon entered the room most of them finding a place on her bed.
Kendra was terribly confused.
"Happy birthday!" Seth all but screamed. Kendra started, the loud noise too much for her ears so early to waking up.
Then her grandparents entered the room, a cake made of pancakes with a candle in it that was lit up. On cue, her family started to sing 'happy birthday' to her. She groaned and hid her blushing face in her pillows. She hated the tradition of being sung to on your birthday.
"Come on, blow the candle out!" Warren stole the pillow that was over her head. Kendra reluctantly sat up, pushing Seth off of her to do so and blew out the candle in front of her.
"Do I get to know what it going on now?" she asked. In addition to Seth, Warren and Bracken, Elise, Vanessa, and Mara had made their way onto the bed. Tanu and Trask sat on the end, Dale had pulled her reading chair to the edge of the bed, and her grandparents were by her desk.
Bracken propped his head up on his hand and smiled at her. "Well, it's your twentieth birthday, so we decided to surprise you with pancakes and, as Seth calls it, an extreme cuddle pile."
"We know you love cuddles," Tanu started
"Koala Kens," Warren coughed.
"-and so we thought it would be a nice surprise to wake you up with some," Tanu finished before breaking off into a laugh at Warren's interruption. Kendra felt her heart swell at her family's thoughtfulness.
"Thanks, guys, really," she hoped they all understood how much it meant to her. Warren wrapped an arm around her and pulled her down, ruffling her hair with his other hand. She felt the others pile on top of her, their weight squishing her until Bracken reminded them that she needed to breathe and they let up.
Her grandparents brought up more plates of pancakes and they all at breakfast in bed before heading downstairs to give Kendra her birthday presents. It was a good birthday, filled with laughter, family, games, and, of course, cuddling.
"Did you have a good birthday?" Bracken whispered to her, lips brushing her ear softly as they sat on the couch at the end of the day. Kendra smiled and nodded.
"It was perfect," and she meant it.
A/N: And that was another chapter of Kendra getting the love she deserves! Stay tuned for our next chapter where...Kendra gets the love she deserves? Who could have guessed?! I'm kidding, but still, I hope you all enjoyed this, shout out to PointlesslyPoetic for beta'ing this for me! See you guys next time! XOXO