Juno tugged on her owner’s jeans. “Hey, Bibs? Can I go up to Faerieland?”
She laughed. “Sure, June.”
The small red Aisha pumped her paws in the air. “Yessss!”
Biblio’s eyebrows went into their usual sharp point. “Is there a reason that you’re so eager?”
Juno mumbled something about how she was growing up and there was no reason that she should be forced to cater to other peoples’ whims, really, she was eight months old, and getting older every day, and—
“I get the point. But I’m not sure that you’re ready to go by yourself yet.”
She couldn’t mean...
“Sam will go with you.”
She certainly could.
Groaning, Juno said exasperatedly, “But Sam is really mean, and so protective! If I go with him, he’ll call me an imbecile again, and then he won’t let me do ANYTHING.”
Biblio grinned. “Isn’t that the point? I love you too much to let you go anywhere alone where you might get hurt. Now call down your brother and get to it.”
The annoyed voice came to her from upstairs. “What, Juno? I’m trying to study.”
“Too bad. Bibs says you have to go with me to Faerieland. Right now.”
The bespectacled, scholarly-looking Bori peeked around the corner of the stairs. “I’ll bet you she didn’t.”
“You REALLY think I’d opt to go with you instead of by myself? Please. Now hurry up.”
After a few minutes of squabbling and packing for the busy day ahead of them, the siblings set out to Faerieland. It was mostly silence as they rode on the transport shuttle that took them to the popular cloudy hangout. And then they were there.
There were many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahhs’ from the first-time riders as they stepped out onto the vast expanse of magical vapor. Sam and Juno, being veterans, merely stepped out and went to eat at their favorite restaurant, Faerie Foods.
And then the dissent started.
“I want to go to Jhudora’s Cloud,” Juno said stubbornly.
Sam gasped. “What are you, insane? No. We’re going to the book shop. As always.”
She wrinkled her nose in protest. “But, Sam, this is probably the only opportunity I have to go on one of her crazy quests!”
“Like we have the neopoints!”
“How do you know we don’t?” she challenged.
He contemplated. “Well, we just don’t, and besides, I’m older and I get to tell you what to do.”
This continued for a while, as it always did whenever they were together. Deep down, they knew it was childish, but they were both so stubborn that neither of them would ever admit what they both knew.
“FINE. I’ll just leave then!” stormed Juno.
“I don’t CARE, you... you... imbecile!”
Juno stomped off. Her only objective was to get as far away from the repulsive pet that was her brother. Who needed him anyways?
And then she tripped.
“I know you’re there, Sam! It’s not funny!” she yelled as she looked around angrily for the culprit. Her foot lay over an exquisitely small blue Grundo plushie.
A scroll of paper lay on the ground next to him. It read:
Somebody has left their Blue Grundo Plushie here. What a poor unwanted little guy, maybe you should talk to him... no, he's just a toy, he won't answer you. Don't be silly!
Don’t talk to him, huh? Juno thought as she examined the poor thing. Why not?
She picked up the plushie and held it securely around the waist, feeling foolish for a second as she looked around.
“Yeah, I know it’s stupid to be talking to a plushie! But...”
“You’re awfully cute, though...”
“All right, all right...”
Suddenly, she found herself telling all of her troubles to the stuffed Grundo. How she felt like no one had ever understood her, how she never had any freedom. How she had always wished that her brother would talk to her like a real pet, not just like a bratty little sister. How she wanted a best friend.
The Grundo did not reply, but somehow Juno felt like it was listening.
She fell asleep clutching the plushie in her arms.
“I sense a disturbance in the magical field emanating from Faerieland.”
“All of the faeries are operating as normal, Your Majesty. There’s no reason to believe that a problem exists. Perhaps your age...?”
“I will disregard your tactful comment about my old age for now. This could truly be a problem.”
“But, but, your Gracefulness, if it’s not the faeries?”
“Then it must be him.”
There was a pause. “...Him, your Majesty?”
“He was discarded a while ago. His powers were too strong then, and uncontrollable. If they fell into the wrong hands, Jhudora, Sloth, who knows what villains would take over.”
A muted gasp came from across the room. “You don’t mean...?”
“I would appreciate it if you stated something rather than asked me, Javier. You may leave now.”
As he left the room shamefacedly, the Faerie Queen massaged her temples wearily. “Yes, Javier, I do mean what you thought. The Plushie of Prosperity has been awoken after dormancy for so long, and it can only have been one thing that did that...
The love of a child.”
When she awoke, Juno was still holding the plushie. She stretched and yawned happily. It was much darker now, and with a start she realized that both Sam and Biblio would be worried sick.
Biblio, at least.
About to run off, she hesitated at leaving her now-beloved plushie behind. Could she risk taking it? It could be too dangerous, especially if there was a reason that it was discarded. It was, after all, a very cute plushie.
But none of that had anything to do with her, she decided as she put the plushie in her bag quietly. It was her friend now.
Loping back to the book store quietly, she saw her brother sitting paralyzed in a chair. He was holding a book, but it didn’t seem like he was reading it.
“Sam? It’s nearly time to go...”
His head snapped at her voice. “JUNO!”
“Oh my gosh, Bibs would have absolutely FLIPPED if I had lost you! Do you know how much trouble I would have been in? I would be grounded, and then my social life would be nil, and then my grades would drop, and then...”
He continued to rant dramatically about his life as a hobo while Juno dragged him to the shuttle port.
They were about to board when a flash of purple entered into their peripheral vision. “STOP!”
They both turned at the imperious voice and gasped as they saw who was speaking.
She danced forward gracefully. “Young lady, you have something that does not belong to you.”
Juno thought quickly. “My brother? Oh, you can have him...”
“No. A small blue plushie... a Grundo, I believe. That was the form he had taken last time I checked.”
The Aisha gulped. “Ummmm... well... I have one of those, but...”
Sam gasped. “Juno, you little thief! You stole one of Fyora’s toys? How could you?!?”
“No, no, I didn’t—it’s not like that--” she spluttered as she tried to think of an explanation.
The Faerie Queen’s gentle laugh rang in their ears. “No, no... it’s not mine, child. You are quick to jump to conclusions.”
He pondered a moment. “Whose is it then?”
Fyora bit her lip. “Let’s just say that it would be nice if you gave it back. It could be very dangerous if the wrong people got it.”
Slowly the Aisha drew out the plushie, and Fyora heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness!”
She cleared her throat. “Miss... Majesty, will you... will you take good care of him?”
The queen seemed surprised. “Ah... well... sure. I suppose you could say that.”
Juno relaxed. “Okay.” She handed the Grundo over.
The rest of that was a bit hazy in Juno’s mind. She knew she ended up at her home, but she didn’t know quite how. In the morning, when she woke up, she was pretty sure it was a dream.
The cute Hasee plushie on her pillow when she returned from breakfast, however, told her otherwise.
She read the small note next to it.
Fyora has left you this Hasee plushie in return for your compliance with her wishes regarding that magical plushie, the Grundo one. She hopes that, perhaps, you will meet again on more favorable terms. For now, maybe you can talk to him... no, he’s just a toy, he won’t answer you. Don’t be silly!
She looked up from the scroll, smiling.
“Hey, Hasee. How are you?”
“I’m great, thanks for asking.”
She giggled as she twirled around with the plushie, dreaming of better days ahead.