‘But I look thilly!’ lisped the girl tearfully through the gap in her front teeth.
The babysitter smiled, not in a mocking way but with understanding. The day that her first tooth fell out was a day that she would never forget. Her eyes glazed over, lost in some distant memory.
The girl continued studying herself in the mirror. ‘Everyone will lauff!’ she sniffed.
The babysitter snapped herself out of her nostalgic daze.
‘No they won’t,’ she said assuringly, ‘well perhaps just a little, but you’re not the first child to loose a tooth and you certainly won’t be the last. Anyway, there is a good side to it too you know.’
For the first time that evening the girl stopped looking at her reflection and turned to her babysitter, intrigued by the mysterious tone in her voice.
‘Like what?’ she asked.
‘Like what! Why like the Tooth fairy, that’s like what.’
The girl slumped with disappointment. ‘Oh, that’s nonsense, I don’t believe in fairies.’
‘Now you just stop that right this minute, don’t believe in… why I’ve never heard such talk. You’ll be saying there’s no Father Christmas next, no witches, no Magic at all!’
The girl was startled by the angry response. ‘But there’s no proof.’ she protested.
‘No proof, no proof, that’s the trouble with young people today, you expect everything to be laid out in front of you, exposed and naked for you to prod and probe, I blame TV, it’s taken the mystery out of life. Why there’s things I could tell you…’
‘Well tell me then.’ interrupted the girl.
The babysitter looked down at the girl who met her eyes and for a moment, she was reminded of herself, all those years ago.
‘Alright, I will,’ she said checking her watch, ‘but if I do you must promise me two things.’
‘What things?’ replied the girl suspiciously.
‘And you must keep an open mind.’
‘What’s an open mind mean?’
‘It means you listen with your heart as well as your ears, now we had better get you into bed, the story is long and we haven’t much time before your parents return.’
As the girl struggled out of her T-shirt, the babysitter sat herself down on the edge of the bed, cleared her throat and began her story.
The day that Lara’s tooth fell out she was so excited that she had washed and brushed her teeth, (pausing only to admire the new gap), and changed into her pyjamas a full five minutes before her official bedtime.
Clutching the little box that contained her tooth she hurled herself into her bed with such force that Harvey, who had been sound asleep, had bounced off and landed on the floor with a heavy thud.
Harvey was Lara’s dog. She had told him all about the tooth fairy and she knew that he was interested by the way his head tilted to one side when she explained things, ‘I wish you could speak Harvey,’ she said sleepily, ‘ then we could talk about the tooth fairy all night.’
Harvey wagged his tail and climbed back onto their bed.
Harvey loved Lara very much. For as long as he could remember they had shared together, played together, and got into trouble together. When Lara was sad, he was sad, when Lara was happy so was he, Harvey was as sure as Lara that they understood each other perfectly.
So when Lara told him all about the tooth box and the arrival of the fairy he knew that she must be telling him to guard the small box like he had guarded her.
You see Harvey, although very loyal, was not quite as clever as he, or Lara, liked to think.
It was exactly twelve o’clock, that strange enchanted time when days cross over and all manner of magical things can happen, when a small bright light entered Lara’s room.
Harvey’s nose twitched.
The light flitted around the room and settled next to Lara’s pillow.
Harvey’s ear pricked up.
The light then lifted the corner of the pillow and squeezed beneath it.
Harvey opened an eye.
As it re-appeared brandishing Lara’s tooth box, Harvey pounced!
By the time that Lara had woken and fumbled for the bedside light it was all over. There, in the corner of her room, stood Harvey, proud and alert and by his feet, quietly whimpering was a small, dim, quivering light.
‘Oh Harvey, what have you done?’ cried Lara, but being a girl of above average intelligence, she had already guessed what had happened.
Harvey, awaiting the hugs and kisses due to him for such a brave act as his, puffed his chest out and pounded his tail against the floor, but his thudding tail quickly stopped as Lara pushed him aside and gently scooped up the terrified Fairy from the floor.
‘I’m terribly sorry, are you alright, it’s all been an awful mistake, you see my dog must have thought that you were trying to steal my tooth and…’
But the fairy was in no condition to hear Lara’s apologies.
‘What happened? Where am I?’ she murmured clutching a crumpled wing, and then, as if waking suddenly from a nightmare she sat bolt up right and began screaming at a still very confused Harvey.
‘Assassin, murderer, I’ll pull out your canines and wear them as a necklace, I’ll grind up your molars for my breakfast, by the time I have finished with you you’ll have to suck up your dinner with a straw.’
During this outburst the fairy’s light grew brighter and brighter until Lara, who was still holding her in her cupped hands, feared that she might burst into flames and not wishing to get burned herself, quite understandably dropped her. The fairy, unbalanced by her injury, whirled and spiralled to the floor like a sycamore seed.
Lara glanced helplessly over to her dog, this was not how she had expected a fairy to be, and she should know she was after all an expert on the subject. Her walls were encased in fairy wallpaper, her bookshelves cluttered by fairy books, her wardrobe bursting with fairy dresses, so, as she looked down at the scarlet faced creature that sat spitting and hissing by her feet, she couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed.
Still, the Fairy was hurt and it was in Lara’s nature to help, pulling herself together she went over to her bed, groped around underneath it for a few seconds, muttering ‘no, no, I’m sure it was here’, then finally, ‘got it!’ as she dragged out a large case with a red cross on the top. Harvey gulped and shuffled and edged into the corner of the room, bracing himself for the inevitable prodding and probing that always followed the producing of that box. It was the only time that he and Lara would argue, and she would always win by tricking him into her room with a Malteser, ‘and I fall for it every time,’ groaned Harvey, lowering his head by way of resigning himself to the bandaging that was to come.
But to his delight and a thud of his tail Lara brushed past him, instead squatting next to the Fairy.
‘Sorry Harvey,’ said Lara, imagining the disappointment he must be feeling at missing out on their favourite game, ‘we’ll play vets next time, I promise, but I have a real emergency now.’ and opening up her First aid box she began pondering as to whether to inject or bandage first.
‘You had better be qualified or I’ll sue you for every tooth in your head,’ said a regal voice.
Lara and Harvey both looked down at the Tooth Fairy, surprised at how different her voice sounded.
‘It wasn’t me,’ said the Fairy grinning, (Lara was shocked to see how bad her teeth were), ‘It’s my mummy, now you’re for it!’
‘She certainly is,’ exclaimed the posh voice and at that moment three Fairies appeared next to the Tooth fairy.
‘My darling Cavity, what have they done to you?’ cried the owner of the voice, the plumpest of the three, who was dressed in a bright purple gown, (at least four sizes to small for her). On the top of her head perched a little crown and Lara looked with disbelief at her and then at the poster by her bed, it was a picture of a beautiful, sweetly smiling, silken winged and very skinny lady and underneath her were the words ‘QUEEN OF THE FAIRIES’. Lara looked back down at the stout, stern, stubby winged fairy who was now cradling the Tooth fairy in her arms, and just stopped herself from saying ‘cor, you’ve let yourself go!’ she was, after all, in enough trouble.
As the Queen consoled her daughter, the other two Fairies, (one man, one woman), who had appeared with her now stepped forward and bowed suspiciously to Lara.
‘You are addressing Wily, Shifty and Fly-by-night,’ said the man. ‘Lawyers to the Queen of the Fairies,’ said the woman.
‘By Royal appointment,’ added the man. ‘And you are?’ They both said together.
“Confused,” replied Lara honestly.
The two Lawyers huddled together, whispered to each other and then turned back to Lara.
‘The plea of temporary insanity is not acceptable,’ they replied.
‘No, I mean I don’t understand who you are or what you want or why you’re here or, or anything really.’ Lara looked over to Harvey who was looking just as baffled as she. ‘For instance,’ Lara continued, ‘if one of you is called Wily,’ the little man took a step forward and bowed, ‘and one is Shifty,’ the woman did the same, ‘then who is Fly-by-night?’
‘He is a partner in our firm,’ answered Shifty.
‘And where is he?’
The woman flashed an annoyed look towards her partner who, blushing a little, replied; ‘we haven’t seen him for a while.’
‘Enough,’ boomed the angry voice of the Queen, ‘you are supposed to be questioning her, not the other way around!’
‘A thousand pardons your majesty,’ said the little lawyers sheepishly, and then turning to Lara, ‘would you like to sign a confession now?’
‘No I would not!’ cried Lara indignantly.
The lawyers scratched their heads, whispered to each other for a moment then turned back at Lara, ‘Awe, go on.’ they implored.
‘Awe, go on!’ bellowed the Queen, ‘awe, go on, is that what I pay you 20 sprinkles of fairy dust an hour for? Now get out of my way and let me sort this mess out.’ And she jumped up, letting the Tooth fairy, who had been quietly whimpering through all of this, fall to the ground with a thump and a loud wail of pain.
‘Oh don’t make such a fuss Cavity, it’s only a sprained wing, and not a very bad one, but,’ and the Queen now looked sternly up at Lara, ‘but she will not be able to finish her rounds tonight!’
‘I suppose I couldn’t help out, could I?’ Suggested Lara, hesitantly.
‘Shhh, I’m thinking,’ said the Queen, pacing backwards and forwards and muttering idea’s to herself, ‘I could get the Christmas tree Fairy to cover, no, no good, she’s gone on holiday with Santa’s Elves, won’t be back for months.’
‘Tart!’ Murmured the Tooth Fairy under her breath.
‘If we may be so bold ma’am,’ said the Fairy lawyers, ‘as to propose that the girl does Cavity’s chores until she has fully recovered?’
‘Quiet, you’re ruining my train of thought,’ snapped the Queen, ‘I could ask the Sugar Plum Fairy, oh but she’s such a Prima Donna, I would never hear the end of it if she got toothpaste stains on her tutu.’
‘Make that nasty girl do it Mummy, that’ll teach her!’ Whined Cavity.
‘Hush dear, Mummy’s trying to think,’ cooed the Queen, and then gave a triumphant ‘AH HA, I’ve got it! We’ll make the girl do it.’
‘A wonderful idea ma’am,’ sang Wily, Shifty and Cavity together, ‘you’re a genius.’
Lara looked at Harvey and rolled her eyes.
Although the previous days rain had now stopped, the sky was still thick with cloud and no light from the moon could penetrate it.
‘It’s no good,’ sighed Lara as she flew through the black night on her little fairy wings, ‘I can hardly even see you Harvey, let alone read this map.’
Harvey had made such a fuss when the Queen had changed Lara into the size of a fairy that they had decided it was best if he went with her. Now the size of a bumblebee he was whizzing around and around Lara trying to find a tree.
‘We’ll just have to fly down to that lamppost and see if we can work out where we are.’ announced Lara.
At the word lamppost Harvey’s ears pricked up and he raced ahead of Lara towards the dim light below them.
Whilst Harvey busied himself at the bottom of the post, Lara hovered under the streetlight trying to work out how to get to the first collection on the list that the Tooth fairy had given them.
It was a difficult job made all the harder by the moths that kept crashing and bumping into her, on their way to crashing and bumping into the light.
‘Stupid moths,’ said Lara, ‘why must they do that?’
‘I think it’s because moths use the light of the moon to navigate, the light from you and that lamp are confusing their senses so they go to them instead,’ said Harvey who had flown up to see what Lara was doing and then, noticing the surprised expression on her face added, ‘although I could be wrong.’
‘YOU SPOKE!’ cried Lara, her voice trembling with excitement.
‘AND YOU UNDERSTOOD ME!’ replied Harvey with equal glee.
And then they both laughed, the kind of joyous, infectious, uncontrollable laugh that only the very best of friends can share.
‘It must be the Fairy magic,’ suggested Lara, still giggling with happiness. ‘The Queen said that there might be some side effects.’
‘How about that Queen?’ said Harvey, ‘I’ve never met anyone so bossy in my life, or so rude.’
‘Me neither,’ agreed Lara, and she stuck her nose in the air and began strutting back and forth whilst imitating the Queens posh voice. ‘Take Cavity’s bag, it contains names, addresses, a map and coins, and don’t let it out of your sight!’
Harvey laughed, encouraging Lara to carry on.
‘And don’t let that mutt of yours cause any more trouble.’
Harvey’s laughing grew, becoming contagious so that Lara started giggling as she continued with her impression.
‘And get yourselves back here by 5 O’clock on the dot, that’s when the spell wears off!’
By now they were both laughing hysterically until they heard the church clock strike once then twice.
‘Two O’clock,’ cried Lara, ‘we’d better get a move on!’
Now that they knew where the church was they could work out from the map how to get to the first house. It wasn’t far.
They slipped through the letterbox, up the stairs then through the crack in the door marked Maisy’s room, (the same name that was on the Tooth Fairies list), crawled under Maisy’s pillow, and removed the tooth, replacing it with a shiny 10 pence piece.
‘This is easy,’ whispered Lara as they crept out from under the pillow and headed back to the door.
Harvey was about to agree when he was interrupted by a loud and very indignant voice.
‘10 pence, is that it, just 10 pence?’
Lara and Harvey stopped dead and slowly turned around. Sitting bolt upright in her bed was the angry, red face of Maisy.
‘Jane Cooper in my class said she got 50 pence for her tooth, and hers just kind of fell out, I had to yank mine and it really hurt and there was loads of blood and stuff so I was expecting at least a pound but I only got,’ Maisy’s eyes were beginning to overflow with tears, ‘I only got, I only got 10 PENCE!’ she wailed.
Worried that her protests would awaken the whole house, Lara flew over to her and, making her voice as comforting as she could, tried to console her, ‘there, there, don’t cry, it’s not about the money.’ she said soothingly, but it didn’t help, in fact the word money seemed to make it worse.
‘It is about the about the money!’ howled Maisy, ‘Its about 10 stingy pence from a stingy, mean, fairy, I WANT MY ONE POUND!’
Lara was becoming desperate and she looked around for Harvey, hoping he might help.
In the dim light she couldn’t see him but in-between Maisy’s sobs, she was aware of a low growling and puffing sound coming from the other end of the bed.
‘Harvey, is that you, what are you doing?’ she enquired.
‘I’m tying to dag dis cushion ub de ded.’ Mumbled Harvey.
‘You’re what? said Lara.
Harvey let go of the cushion, spitting out bits of fluff that had come loose during his struggle, and panted heavily.
‘I said, I’m trying to drag this cushion up the bed, I thought if we could put it on her face and then sit on it, it might muffle her or shut her up.’
‘Or kill her,’ scolded Lara.
‘Kill me!’ yelped Maisy, suddenly forgetting about the money.
‘Really Harvey,’ continued Lara, ‘I know she’s a pain in the neck but that’s going too far.’
‘I’m not a pain!’
‘Have it your way,’ shrugged Harvey, ‘but I still think its worth a try, and it may teach her not to be so greedy.’
‘Who’s being greedy?’ shouted Maisy, ‘who are you talking to?’ and she flicked on her bedside light, dazzling Lara and Harvey.
‘Hey, turn that off!’ exclaimed Lara.
But Maisy ignored her; instead she adjusted the flexi stand until the light was glaring directly into their eyes.
‘Now,’ she said menacingly, ‘tell me who you are?’
‘I’m the Tooth Fairy,’ insisted Lara.
‘If you’re the Tooth Fairy, then I’m Sleeping Beauty,’ mocked Maisy.
‘Fat chance.’ Snorted Harvey.
‘The real Tooth Fairy,’ continued Maisy, flashing an angry glance at Harvey, ‘doesn’t go around with a murdering gremlin.’
Harvey’s eye’s widened with indignation and he edged back to where he had left the cushion.
‘He’s not a gremlin, he’s a Labrador cross.’ Protested Lara.
‘Furious more like.’ Harvey added with a snarl.
Maisy continued. ‘The real Tooth Fairy doesn’t call people pains in the neck, and the real Tooth Fairy would never, never, NEVER leave just 10 pence for a tooth!’
‘And what,’ replied Lara, who was by now very irritated and wondering if perhaps Harvey’s idea wasn’t so bad,’ what makes you such an expert?’
‘THIS!’ Cried Maisy triumphantly, and grabbing the lamp she shined it all around her bedroom illuminating walls covered in Fairy posters and pictures, bookshelves collapsing under the weight of Fairy books and a canvas wardrobe bulging with Fairy costumes.
Lara gave a little cry of surprise as she followed the light around with her eyes, shocked that this horrible girl should have almost as much Fairy stuff as she. Then a slow smile crept across her face as she began to form a plan.
‘Ok,’ she said, ‘if you know so much and you think I’m lying.’
‘A lying fake, probably a thief.’ corrected Maisy.
‘And you think I may be an impostor,’ acknowledged Lara, ‘then you should know a lot more about Fairies than I do.’
‘Of course,’ agreed Maisy, ‘I told you I’m an expert.’
‘Right then, lets have a competition, we take it in turns to ask each other Fairy questions and the first one to get a question wrong loses,’ suggested Lara, getting quite excited by her idea.
‘Loses what?’ Asked Maisy suspiciously.
‘Well, if I lose I will give you 50 pence.’
‘One pound!’ demanded Maisy.
‘50 pence, that’s all I have,’ said Lara, furtively groping in the purse that the Tooth Fairy had given her, trying to feel if she had even that much, ‘and if you lose, you happily accept the 10 pence piece.’
Harvey, hugely impressed by Lara’s clever idea, attempted to clap his paws, he had seen Lara play this game before with her friends and knew she was unbeatable, but his paws didn’t make the right sound so he settled for a few thuds of satisfaction by wagging his tail.
‘You’re on!’ declared Maisy.
The first fifteen or so questions exchanged by these two fairy anoraks were fairly straight forward, the answer to each one being an inevitable pink.
‘She’s just warming up,’ thought Harvey who knew her tactics, ‘She’ll go for the kill now.’
And he was right, Lara cleared her throat and calmly asked, ‘What are the names of the three Fairy Godmothers in Sleeping Beauty?’
Maisy gulped and shifted in her bed nervously. ‘Err, Fauna.’
‘That’s one.’ said Lara.
‘Mmm, Flora.’ added Maisy hesitantly.
‘That’s two.’ declared Lara.
‘And err Happyspring, no, Merry something Merryrain, no, I’ve got it, its Merryweather, her name is Merryweather!’
Lara’s heart sunk, and now it was her turn to feel nervous.
‘What,’ announced Maisy, ‘is the name of the Fairy in Peter Pan?’
‘Oh, that’s easy,’ said a very relieved Lara, ‘it’s Tinkerbell.’
Maisy threw her arms in the air and started shouting, ‘wrong, wrong you’re wrong I’m the winner, Tinkerbell isn’t a Fairy at all, she’s a pixie, you lose, I win, now give me my money!’
Lara had been out smarted and she knew it would be pointless to protest.
Grudgingly she emptied the contents of the little purse onto the bed, it came to exactly 50 pence.
‘Come on Harvey,’ she said sadly, ‘lets go.’
‘It wasn’t fair, she tricked you.’ Cried Harvey as they opened the bedroom window, leaving Maisy clucking and crowing with success behind them.
They had barely left the windowsill when they noticed the jeering had stopped, replaced by a gibbering sobbing sound. They looked behind them to find Maisy cowering under her sheets crying, ‘get it out, get rid of it, please I’ll do anything!’ Next to her a moth was bumbling around, smashing repeatedly into the lamp by her bed.
Lara and Harvey looked at each other. ‘We must have let it in when we opened the window,’ grinned Harvey.
‘And now she’ll do anything to get rid of it.’ Chuckled Lara, and they shot back inside.
As soon as she was sure she had it’s attention she headed for the window, the moth following her light, dutifully, like an obedient puppy, and they flew outside.
‘That’ll be 50 pence please.’ Said Harvey to the quivering mound on the bed.
Maisy didn’t come out, she just pushed the money underneath the sheets for Harvey to scoop into his paw. ‘Now please go away.’ She sobbed meekly.
Harvey found Lara playing dodgems with a load of moths by the lamppost.
‘You know I’ve changed my mind about moths.’ Declared Lara when Harvey reached her. ‘They’re actually quite fun, and not stupid at all.’
‘And can even be useful.’ Agreed Harvey, tipping the coins back into the purse with a smile.
Just then the church clock struck again. ONE, TWO, THREE.
‘Three O’clock!’ exclaimed Harvey, ‘we’ve wasted a whole hour, who’s next on the list?’
‘52, 54, 56, 58, here it is,’ called Lara, ‘number 60, this must be the house.’
As before, the two friends climbed through the letterbox and started up the stairs and on to the landing, where they were confronted by a choice of four doors.
‘Lets save some time and split up,’ suggested Lara, ‘remember we’re looking for Bens room.’
‘Ok.’ Called Harvey as he trotted off to investigate two doors on the right.
‘Any luck?’ Whispered Lara reappearing from what had turned out to be the bathroom.
Harvey didn’t answer immediately, he was staring up at the similar looking signs on the two doors, trying to work out which one said Ben, he was reluctant to admit to Lara that he couldn’t read, she was, after all, so pleased that he could talk that she might be disappointed with him.
‘Time for a bit of good old fashioned dog intuition,’ he thought to himself confidently, and whispered back to Lara, ‘it’s this one on the left.’
Inside it was not completely dark. In the corner there was the dim glow of a nightlight that allowed them to locate the solid frame of the bed. Not that they needed any help, the boy was sleeping so loudly that they could have found him blindfolded.
Wheeze rattle rattle snort.
‘Not much chance of him waking up,’ declared Lara cheerfully, ‘you stay here and keep a lookout, I’ll go and get the tooth.’
Harvey agreed and began marching back and forth like a palace guard while Lara crawled under the pillow.
As the minutes ticked by without any sign of Lara, Harvey began to get worried and was about to abandon his post to look for her when her head popped out from the edge of the pillow.
‘What’s taking so long?’ Hissed Harvey.
‘It’s not here!’ Cried Lara, sounding very alarmed.
‘It must be,’ replied Harvey, ‘look again, and hurry up, I think I’m going to sneeze!’
Lara frowned, ‘don’t.’ She said rather harshly, the memory of Maisy waking up still fresh in her mind, and she disappeared back under the pillow.
After another minute Harvey’s alert marching changed. It became more of a manic pacing as the urge to sneeze built up in the base of his long snout. He tried rubbing his nose, scratching it, wrinkling it up, but it was no good, what had begun as an urge was now inevitable, his eyes squinted, his head tipped back further and further until his ears made contact with his shoulders.
‘Here it comes,’ He thought, and as his head shot forward he let out an enormous HAAAAA CHEW.
Lara, who normally found Harvey’s sneezes so comical, reappeared looking furious.
‘I told you not to!’ She glared.
‘I can’t help it.’ Apologised Harvey, and as if to prove it, sneezed again.
The snoring suddenly stopped. Lara’s back stiffened and she held her breath, bracing herself for the boy’s awakening and then sighing deeply as the familiar wheeze rattle rattle snort once again filled the room.
Then Lara had a thought, as Harvey let out a third resounding sneeze, she flew up to the boy’s face and sniffed his mouth suspiciously.
‘I knew it!’ she exclaimed, ‘Calpol, he’s been drugged!’
‘Your, HAAAA CHEW, right.” Agreed Harvey, noticing the bottle of medicine on the bedside table through his watering eyes.
‘And there’s something else,’ continued Lara, her voice echoing slightly as she lent deeper into the boys mouth, ‘that rattling noise he makes when he snores, it’s a loose tooth, it must be our tooth!’
Harvey sneezed again and Lara, more relaxed, now that she knew that the boy wouldn’t wake up was suddenly aware of how mean she had been to him.
‘I’m sorry I got cross with you for sneezing,’ she said guiltily, ‘are you ok now?’
‘HAAAA CHEW.’ Was Harvey’s reply.
‘What set you off anyway,’ enquired Lara, ‘I didn’t think you were allergic to anything.’
‘I’m not,’ he admitted, ‘well, except for cats of course.’
Suddenly they both felt an ice cold shiver run up their spines.
‘HARVEY, LOOK OUT!’ Screamed Lara and she covered her eyes, unable to watch as something huge, something savage fell on top of him.
Lara felt faint, Harvey, her Harvey, helpless against that monster, and what about her, what kind of friend was she by not helping him? But what could she do, she was frozen to the spot, dizzy, sick with fear and worry for her friend, her Harvey.
All of a sudden anger grew from deep within her, and as it grew her fear gave way, cringing, whimpering it was being squeezed out of every pore in her body until only rage and revenge were left, Harvey was her dog, she would save him or die trying.
Lara uncovered her eyes.
‘IT’S A KITTEN!’ she cried, relief instantly replacing her anger, ‘Isn’t he adorable.’
‘Adorable?’ snarled Harvey who was being knocked back and forth between the kittens enormous paws as though he were a ball of wool, ‘He’s the size of a bus!’
‘But he only wants to play,’ said Lara, who secretly really liked cats, although she would have never dared tell Harvey, ‘and he likes you.’
‘I’ve never been so humiliated.’ Groaned Harvey as the kitten gave him an enormous, rasping lick.
Laughing, Lara got back to the job in hand and returned to the boy, calling down to Harvey, ‘You keep the kitten busy while I try and pull out this tooth,’ and then added with a little snigger, ‘and be careful, don’t hurt him.’
‘Fat chance,’ growled Harvey, followed by a yelp as his attempt to escape ended with a mighty THWACK from the giant paw.
‘Oh, stop complaining,’ echoed Lara’s voice from inside the boy’s mouth, ‘this isn’t much fun for me either you know.’
But Harvey took little comfort in that, as he was launched into the air and swatted back down again for the third time.
‘At least he’s not dribbling.’ Groaned Lara as she pulled, twisted and yanked with all her might, finally slumping down, exhausted by the battle.
‘I don’t understand why it won’t come out.’ She thought and began looking at the tooth more carefully, shifting it around so she could study it from every angle, but even after a thorough examination could find no other cause except for the one thin thread of flesh that lay between her and success.
She sat down again and tried to think of a solution but the growls, yelps and snarls of Harvey made it hard to concentrate.
She thought of going back to the bathroom and finding some scissors but the idea of cutting the strand of gristle made her feel queasy and anyway her size would have made them difficult to lift, let alone fly with.
‘No, it’s going to have to be strength and determination.’ She sighed and went back to work, tugging with all the power she had left.
They were both so involved, Lara leaning deep into the boy’s mouth and Harvey being thrown around like an old rag doll, that they probably wouldn’t have realised if a brass band had marched through the bedroom, let alone notice the soft padding of paws that were climbing the stairs and heading across the landing towards them.
It was, in fact, the kitten who first spotted the long sharp claws that gently eased open the door, just enough to let the rest of her slip into the room
And it was the kitten, mewing with joy at the sight of her mother, who first alerted Harvey to the large green eyes that stared greedily down at him.
Harvey gulped, he recognised the cat. It was barely a week ago that he had chased her out of his garden, and he had a horrible feeling that, despite his size, she recognised him.
‘Lara,’ he croaked, backing cautiously away as the cat, unblinking, crouched down, tail held high and twitching, ‘Lara,’ he repeated, a little louder, ‘I think we should go now.’
‘Not till I’ve got this blinking tooth out.’ Puffed Lara, breathless from her tug of war and not hearing the urgency in his voice.
The cat flashed a look in Lara’s direction, and then stared back at Harvey who met her stare. And there they stood, like two gun fighters finally about to settle an age-old feud.
The cat was trying to make up her mind about these strange little trespassers, one human looking and the other dog like but neither much larger than a baby sparrow, the hairy one, in particular, she thought reminded her of an extremely nasty dog who had been very rude to her only last week.
The memory of that incident grew in her mind and she started feeling cross and resentful towards this creature who dared, not only to tease her baby, but then to look at her with such insolence.
So she sprang!
Had Harvey blinked at that moment he wouldn’t have stood a chance but he had been watching the cats eyes closely, he saw them flicker from green to red and he knew what was coming.
A split second before she pounced he bolted, shooting into the air and grabbing a shocked Lara.
But the cat was quick and Lara winced with pain as the cat almost caught her, scratching Lara with her outstretched claw before falling softly back to the floor.
Harvey flew higher and higher, finally settling them down on the light shade in the middle of the ceiling, the only place in the room where the cat couldn’t reach them.
‘OW,’ said Lara, rubbing her arm and then, looking down from their refuge at the cat she quickly realised what must have happened, ‘thanks Harvey, you saved my life.’
Harvey panted heavily.
‘It was nothing,’ he declared, a little shakily and he looked down at the cat who was circling the room and staring furiously up at them, ‘but we’re not safe yet.’
‘You’re right.’ She agreed, and they fell silent, Lara trying to think of a plan and Harvey thinking of all the things he would like to do to that cat.
‘I wish I was back to my normal size,’ sighed Harvey eventually, ‘then I’d give that stupid cat a taste of his own medicine.’
‘THAT’S IT!’ shouted Lara, almost knocking Harvey from the light shade in her excitement, ‘Harvey, you’re a genius, now if only I had…’
Her eyes settled on Harvey’s collar, ‘can I borrow this?’ she asked and before Harvey could reply, she had unclipped it from his neck and was whirling it around her head.
‘Watch this.’ She said, letting go of the collar and watching it intensely as it flew though the air, striking the Calpol bottle full on.
‘Come on, come on.’ Implored Lara through gritted teeth as the bottle rocked and wobbled tantalisingly before finally falling onto its side, rolling off the table and onto the floor with a satisfying smash.
‘YES.’ Cried Lara, very relieved.
‘What did you do that for?’ asked Harvey looking indignantly at his favourite collar lying on the floor below.
‘You’ll see,’ she replied, and then, as the cat and her kitten moved suspiciously over to the spillage she added, ‘look, its working.’
The mother was cautious, sniffing at the thick creamy liquid as it oozed from the broken bottle. The kitten, being a kitten, was less prudent, unable to resist the sweet strawberry scent and started lapping it up straight away until his delighted little mews of satisfaction encouraged his mother to join the feast.
Within three minutes the drug had taken effect and mother and child lay curled up together fast asleep, like they wouldn’t hurt a fly.
‘Brilliant,’ Cried Harvey flying down from the shade and retrieving his collar, ‘now lets get out of here before they wake up.’
‘But the tooth?’ protested Lara ‘we still haven’t got it.’
‘Forget the tooth, I’m not staying in this lions den another second and anyway, aren’t you forgetting we have a time limit, I don’t know what the time is but we must have wasted ages here.’
‘I suppose you’re right,’ acknowledged Lara sadly following Harvey out through the door.
She imagined the disappointment that Ben would feel when he woke up, excitedly groping under the pillow for the coin that he would never find.
‘I’m sorry Ben,’ she murmured looking over her shoulder at the shiny plaque hanging on his door that read Bill’s room.
‘BILLS ROOM!’ exclaimed Lara and she rushed to the next door and read the sign, ‘Ben’s room.’ she turned reproachfully towards Harvey, ‘We were in the wrong room!’
‘I wonder how that happened?’ Muttered Harvey guiltily but Lara didn’t hear him, she had already disappeared into the room.
30 seconds later she reappeared, a huge smile on her face and a tooth in her palm.
‘Come on Harvey,’ she said brightly, patting him on the head, ‘we had better find out what the time is.’
‘Ok.’ Smiled Harvey, trotting along beside her.
She had forgiven him.
‘Well, what do you think?’ Said Lara when they got back to the church clock. ‘Do we have time for one more visit?’
‘I suppose,’ replied Harvey doubtfully, ‘as long as we don’t have any more delays.’
‘We won’t, I’ve got a good feeling about this one.’
Lara got out the little list, checked it, and got her bearings.
‘It’s this way.’ She announced.
Freddy’s bedroom looked like an explosion in a toyshop. You couldn’t even see the carpet for chunks of Lego, pieces of Meccano, dismembered bits of robots and action men, train sets and much more.
‘Spoilt,’ thought Lara a little jealously as she stepped cautiously through the minefield, ‘Harvey, you wait here while I go and get the tooth.’
‘No way!’ Replied Harvey adamantly, ‘you’re not leaving me down here on my own, there could be a whole army of cats or worse hiding amongst all this junk.’
Lara could tell he was determined and she hadn’t the time to argue. ‘Come on then.’ And together they crawled beneath the pillow.
Had Harvey stood guard, as was his duty, he may have noticed the little red light that sneaked silently into the room behind them, sniggering with evil intention.
They had just finished swapping the tooth for the coin and were about to leave when Harvey’s nose started twitching and his ears pricked up in excitement.
‘What is it, it’s not another cat is it?’ Cried Lara in alarm.
‘No, it’s something else.’ And before Lara could enquire further he had turned himself around and was pushing against the bed with his hind legs, squeezing himself deeper under the pillow.
‘Lara, come here.’ he called back urgently, ‘you’ve got to see this!’
Lara followed obediently and suddenly she to became aware of the sweet smelling aroma that had filled Harvey’s nostrils.
She found Harvey grinning from ear to ear, surrounded by hundreds of sweets.
‘About time we had a bit of good luck, and it doesn’t get much better than this!’ declared Harvey, and taking a bite out of a vanilla toffee added, ‘want some?’
‘But isn’t this stealing?’ Asked Lara uncertainly.
‘Nooo,’ replied Harvey, coaxing her with a strawberry bonbon, ‘it’s payment for all our hard work, and he has such a stash that he will never miss them, and besides, I reckon that the real Tooth Fairy must find sweets hidden under pillows all the time and I bet she eats them.’
‘That would explain why her teeth were so rotten.’ Agreed Lara who needed no more convincing, and she greedily tucked into the sweetie that Harvey was holding out to her.
So they munched and chewed, sucked and slurped, each occasionally suggesting that they ‘really should get going’ in between bites, the other would agree but both were enjoying the feast so much that it was obvious that nothing short of a disaster was going to distract them.
And then the disaster happened.
At first Lara thought it must be an Earthquake as the bed shook and trembled but it was worse than that, above them Freddy’s eyelids were flickering, he was having a dream.
In his dream he was a jet pilot and as his plane tipped and rolled through the rocky landscape, so did Freddy until with a final lurch he flipped on to his stomach, his face pushed hard into the pillow and his arms stretched out on either side of his head. Breaking all air speed records, he let out a final contented sigh, the dream ended and he fell into a deeper sleep beyond the reach of dreams.
But by then Lara and Harvey were trapped!
‘This is terrible’, wailed Lara, squashed beneath the weight of the sleeping boys enormous head, ‘the air will only last a few minutes under here, we’ll suffocate!’
The talk of time reminded Harvey of something else. ‘Or get arrested.’ He suggested with a groan.
‘Huh.’ Enquired Lara
‘Well,’ said Harvey, ‘as I see it, it must be close to five o’clock. When the spell wears off and we grow back to our normal size the boy will wake and he’ll start screaming waking up his parents who will immediately call the police. I think it’s called breaking and entering or they may go for kidnapping, either way it doesn’t look good!’
‘You’re right,’ sighed Lara, ‘suffocation or prison, what a choice.’
‘Anyway,’ continued Harvey trying to sound cheerful, ‘we still have the sweets.’
‘And each other.’ Smiled Lara and reaching out with her hand she felt his paw and held on tight.
And there they lay; awaiting whichever fate would befall them first but knowing that what ever it was they would, at least, be facing it together.
In the room the red glow was flying around searching for something. Its light increased as it tossed aside a comic and found an Apache headdress.
Plucking out one of the feathers it flew over to the boy and tickled him under his nose. The boy twitched slightly and flicked with his hand but the tickling continued, he shook his head but the feather carried on pestering him with the persistence of a wasp at a picnic. Eventually it became too much for the sleeping boy and with a groan he rolled over on to his side and Lara and Harvey came tumbling out from under the pillow gasping and grabbing for the fresh air that once more filled their lungs.
Then they looked up at the red light that stood over them.
It was a fairy, there was no doubt about that, but she was different, dressed in black leather trousers with a jacket to match. Lara thought she looked great and even Harvey was hugely impressed by the purple studded collar she wore around her neck, she was cool, a fairy with attitude, she was, and then it suddenly hit Lara exactly who she was and she let out a little cry of horror.
‘It’s the bad fairy!’
‘Oh please’, replied the bad fairy, her voice as smooth as the leather on her thigh length boots, ‘call me Asbo, all my best friends do.’
‘But,’ continued Lara, swelling with pride at the very idea of being Asbo’s best friend, ‘but you saved us, I don’t understand, everyone calls you the bad fairy?’
‘Only the jealous ones ma petite fille.’ Answered the fairy sweetly.
Now it was Harvey’s turn to ask a question, he was as drawn to Asbo’s charm as Lara but some doggy sense at the back of his mind told him to be wary.
‘But how, why did you find us?’
‘What an excellent question, you really are le chien exceptional.’
And as she ran her hand over Harvey’s head he felt the last of his suspicions melt away.
‘I saw you hanging around the church clock,’ continued Asbo, ‘at first I thought it was my dull little niece the tooth fairy but when I looked closer I saw it was far too pretty to be her,’ Lara blushed, ‘so I decided to follow you.’
‘And it’s a good thing you did.’ Said Harvey his tail wagging with gratitude.
‘Now tell me,’ asked the fairy leaning down to Lara’s ear as though they were two conspirators and whispered, ‘Did you murder her?’
‘Murder who?’ Cried Lara shocked by the question.
‘Why, the tooth fairy of course, I wouldn’t blame you if you did, spoilt if you want my opinion and such terrible teeth.’
‘Certainly not!’ Replied Lara indignantly.
‘Mugged her then?’ Asbo’s voice was hopeful.
‘NO!’ insisted Lara, ‘it was like this…’ and Lara told the fairy all about Harvey’s misunderstanding in her bedroom and the decision by the queen of the fairies that she and Harvey should finish the tooth fairies work.
‘How interesting,’ yawned the bad fairy when Lara had finished her tale, ‘I can’t pretend that I’m not a tad disappointed, mais c’est la vie, it wouldn’t be for the first time.’
On hearing the word time, Harvey and Lara looked at each other in alarm.
‘The time, we nearly forgot, I’m really sorry to rush off like this, especially after you saved our lives but we have to go.’
‘Why of course, I quite understand ma Cherie.’ And she bent down and gave Lara a hug.
‘GOT IT!’ She cackled, jumping back from Lara and brandishing the tooth fairies bag with glee.
‘I can’t believe you both fell for that I’m so misunderstood nonsense.’
It was Harvey who worked out what was happening first.
‘Give that back.’ He growled, furious at being fooled.
Lara was more upset than angry, she had really, really liked Asbo so it took her a little longer to believe that she had been deceived. ‘But, but you saved us…’ she stammered, ‘you said I was your friend… you told me I was pretty. And all the time you just wanted to rob me?’ It was beginning to sink in.
‘So gullible,’ grinned the bad fairy with some satisfaction, ‘wasn’t it deliciously cruel of me, so much more gratifying than using force, why I do believe that I’ve really upset you.’ And her grin exploded into a laugh
The sight of Lara fighting back the tears of disappointment and loss of pride was more than Harvey could stand and he got ready to pounce.
Asbo guessed his intentions and tutted.
‘I really wouldn’t do that if I were you.’ She hissed.
‘Or what?’ Replied Harvey defiantly.
‘I’m glad you asked me that.’ Answered the fairy brightly and reaching into her jacket pocket she pulled out a plastic wad with the words ‘my evil deeds’ printed boldly on the front.
‘Would you like to see what happened to all the others who have crossed me?’
She unclipped the buckle and it unfolded concertina fashion down to the floor. Proudly she began showing them the photo’s that were kept in the plastic wallets.
‘This is Sleeping Beauty before the little prig snubbed me, and this is her after, not much of a difference to be honest, she was always pretty dozy.’
‘You keep a photo album of all the horrible things you’ve done!’ cried Lara who had finally pulled herself together and was looking at the pictures with horror, ‘that’s really creepy.’
‘We all need our little hobbies,’ replied Asbo and carried on sifting through her collection.
‘And this repulsively cheerful creature is Snow White before I gave her the poisoned apple and this is her corpse after…’
‘That wasn’t you, that was the wicked stepmother.’ Interrupted Lara indignantly.
‘Bad fairy, Wicked stepmother, I have many names,’ said Asbo sighing nostalgically, ‘now where is that photo of Shergar…’
Lara hung her head in disgust, unable to look at any more of the fairy’s ‘trophies’ and as she did so her eyes fell upon some tubes of paint.
As previously mentioned Freddy’s room was extremely untidy. Lara felt sure that anyone capable of creating such a mess was surely unlikely to replace the lids on their paint; an idea began to form in her head.
As the Bad fairy continued with her memories Lara signalled to Harvey her plan, Harvey nodded enthusiastically to show that he understood.
‘NOW!’ Shouted Lara and they leapt into the air each landing heavily on a tube of paint.
Whether it was luck or planning who can say, Lara would have insisted that it was deliberate, it was certainly very fortunate that the colours that they landed on were red and white. The paint shot from the tubes, merged in mid air, and struck Asbo full on with enough force to knock her backwards.
While she was stunned Harvey ran over, scooped up the tooth fairy’s bag and returned to Lara’s side preparing for Asbo’s rage.
As she got to her feet they both took a step back and nervously looked at each other. They had neither of them seen an expression of such thunderous hate as they now saw on Asbo as she reared to her full height, the paint, mingling and mixing as it ran down her body.
But the expression changed into utter disgust when she looked down and saw what they had done to her and she released a strange strangled scream.
She was trying to speak but the words caused her to wrench and choke like a cat with a fur ball.
‘I’m, I’m, I’m,’ and then with a final effort she managed to spit the words out, ‘I’M PINK!’
Lara and Harvey tried not to laugh but they couldn’t help themselves, she was attempting to rub the paint off but this only helped blend and spread the colour until the last inch of black disappeared and the transformation was complete.
‘My reputation!’ she wailed, ‘I look sweet, I’m ruined!’
‘Oh I don’t know,’ chuckled Harvey, ‘I pink, I mean think you look great, really in the pink.’
‘Yes,’ agreed Lara, winking at Harvey, ‘very perky.’
Then collapsing in each others arm with laughter cried out ‘pinky and perky.’
The Bad fairy was completely humiliated.
‘You’ve made a very powerful enemy.’ She tried to say but the threat lacked menace and made them laugh even harder so she sighed deeply and flew away, leaving a little pink trail behind her.
Lara and Harvey were laughing so much that they didn’t hear the church clock chiming in the distance.
Dong dong dong dong DONG. The clock struck five.
‘Hey, what’s happening?’ Cried Lara, and as the floor disappeared in the distance she was dimly aware of the crunching and snapping sound of toys being crushed beneath their weight. She looked at Harvey, his wings were gone! They were back to their normal size. The spell had worn off.
Alarmed, Lara turned to Freddy’s bed, the boy was stirring.
‘Quick run!’ She cried and the two of them stumbled and tripped through the bedroom, down the stairs, out of the door and onto the street.
They didn’t stop but carried on running as fast as their tired legs could go, ignoring the rain that was hammering down on them, piercing their eyes so they could hardly see.
Finally they reached their house.
Creeping up the stairs they collapsed through the bedroom door, landing in an exhausted, drenched heap on the floor.
‘I warned you,’ said the familiar, impatient voice of the Fairy Queen, ‘five o’clock on the dot!’
It seemed to Lara that the Queen was not altogether impressed by their achievements that night.
‘Fancy letting a little girl see you, that’s the number one rule, never let anyone see you,’ she was saying angrily, ‘and if that wasn’t bad enough, then you encouraged her to gamble!’
Lara opened her mouth to explain but her words were swallowed up by a yawn.
‘And drugging an innocent kitten and her mother, have you no scruples? I bet that mutt of yours was behind it, I knew it was a mistake to let him go with you.’
Her mutt! Lara looked over to Harvey, her dear Harvey who had saved her from the jaws of the cat. She had expected him to say something in his defence, to tell the Queen exactly what he thought of that innocent kitten, but he did not speak, he just sat there, his head hung low.
Then she realised why. He hadn’t spoken since they had returned to their proper size. The spell had worn off and with it Harvey’s ability to talk.
Lara couldn’t remember ever feeling so depressed.
She wanted to cry but her body was so tired it was incapable of even that basic function.
She was now only dimly aware of what the Queen was saying. Words like ‘risk assessments, increased paperwork’ floated around and then nothing.
Lara was asleep.
When Lara woke up she was in her bed.
She judged by the persistent dripping noise on the conservatory roof below her window that it was still raining heavily outside.
It was that that first made her wonder.
She ran her hands down her body, ‘surely,’ she thought, ‘my clothes would still be at least slightly wet after the soaking they got.’ But they were completely dry, as was her hair.
She suddenly remembered something and, thrusting her hand under her pillow she pulled out her tooth box and quickly removed the lid’ tipping its contents into her hand.
A shiny ten pence piece gleamed back at her, no note, no fairy dust, no proof at all that last nights adventures had ever really happened, just ten pence left exactly as it should be.
‘It did happen, it must have happened?’ Sighed Lara desperately looking around her room for a single shred of evidence.
‘THE SCRATCH!’ she cried, ‘of course, how could I have forgotten, the cat scratched me on my arm!’ Eagerly she rolled up her pyjama sleeve. And that is when she knew for sure it had all been a dream. There was no scratch!
Then she turned her attention to Harvey, curled up asleep at the foot of her bed, just as he always had done since as long as she could remember.
Silly old Harvey, who would tilt his head to one side and prick up his ears whenever she spoke but without ever really, ever truly understanding.
And that’s what really hurt, that’s what caused the tears to flow, uncontrollable, inconsolable tears.
She flung herself down to the bottom of the bed and buried her wet face into the deep, soft fur at Harvey’s throat.
‘Oh Harvey,’ she sobbed, ‘I’ve had the most wonderful dream!’
Harvey awoke and thudded his tail against the bed to show he was pleased to see her.
His sleepy eyes opened and he lifted his head, tilting it to one side with his ears pricked up.
‘Me too.’ He said.
The tears and laughter and giggles and talking and reminiscing and more laughing lasted for an hour, until their jaws and their eyes and their stomachs ached so much that they had to stop.
‘Do you know, I think the Fairy Queen let you speak on purpose,’ said Lara, once the aching started to ease, ‘I mean, she probably left the spell so we could avoid any other misunderstandings.’
Harvey was not quite so charitable.
‘The stupid old bat forgot to cancel it, that’s all.’ he said, ‘too busy moaning at us.’
Lara secretly thought he was right but said nothing. Instead she looked out of the window at the cascading rain.
‘It doesn’t look like we will be going for a walk today.’
‘Suits me.’ Replied Harvey with a stretch.
Lara’s eyes wondered around the room in search of something to do, finally she spotted the corner of her first aid box peeking out from under her bed.
‘I know,’ she announced, ‘lets play vets!’
‘I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that, you see I never really liked… And then he stopped. Lara had produced a malteser and was holding it tantalisingly up to his nose.
‘Oh alright.’ He sighed.
Lara popped the chocolate into his mouth and was about to get the first aid kit and then she stopped, turned back to Harvey and gave him a hug.
‘I know,’ she suggested, ‘it can be my turn to be the patient.’
Harvey thudded his tail against the floor.
‘You know,’ said Lara, ‘if I was still a fairy and could make a wish, it would be that we should always be together forever, grow old together.’
‘Me too.’ Agreed Harvey and they both fell silent and wished really hard.
The babysitter had finished her story and for a while it seemed she was lost in thought, but the girl had so many questions that she had to interrupt or risk bursting.
‘Did they ever see the fairies again? Did Asbo try and get her revenge and did Harvey catch up with that cat? And…’ The questions raced out of her mouth like a runaway train.
When the girl eventually paused for a breath the babysitter saw her chance to answer but the sound of car tyres on the gravel drive outside distracted her.
‘That will be your parents returning, and you should be asleep.’
‘But my questions?’
‘There will be plenty of time for questions when I’m next here.’ And tucking the duvet tightly around the girl she headed towards the door. As she opened it she turned back to the girl. ‘Now do you believe in fairies?’ she asked.
‘No.’ The girl replied. ‘No proof.’
The babysitter stepped onto the landing but as the door closed behind her she paused, smiling as she glimpsed the girl carefully placing her tooth under her pillow.
As the babysitter drove home she continued smiling. She was still smiling as she pulled up to the front of her house. She began to giggle as she fumbled for her door keys and by the time she had unlocked the door it had evolved into a rich, warm laugh.
’Hi Lara,’ said a voice from the couch, ‘what’s so funny?’
‘Oh nothing really,’ replied the babysitter, ‘I was just reminded of our adventures, I hadn’t thought about them for so many years.’
‘Me neither.’ Replied Harvey and he started laughing with her.
And there they sat, both laughing the kind of joyous, infectious, uncontrollable laugh that only the very best and the very oldest of friends can share.