Author Danyelle Leafty Danyelle Leafty writes upper MG and YA fantasy, and is the author of THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA series. Danyelle has always loved fairy tales, and prefers stories where someone gets eaten, or at the very least, transmogrified. Much of her inspiration has come from fairy tales, because as G.K. Chesterton so aptly states, "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She also collects books, and one day hopes to make a house out of them. She enjoys learning languages, fiddling with her harp, and perfecting the fine art of mothering. (It's a lot like trying to herd chickens during a lightning storm while a goat stampede is going on.) One of her heroes is Albert Einstein, particularly for the following quote: "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The most important thing is not to stop questioning."
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At any other time, Bettony would have felt left out, but all her attention was on the cup Désire was handing to her sister.
Never eat anything your grandmother concocted was something their mother had dinned into their heads for as long as she could remember. It went for gingerbread and other sweets, and probably potions too.
“Wait,” she tried again. “Please don’t drink that. Here. You can have mine.”
If Cadmilla had been looking daggers at her before, that was nothing compared to how she looked now.
“Thank you,” she said stiffly, taking hold of the cup Désire had offered her, “but I already have a cup.”
Then, before Bettony could make any more protests, she put it to her lips and drank.
At first, nothing happened.
Cadmilla didn’t explode or grow a second head or breathe fire.
Bettony let out a sigh of relief. Maybe she’d been worried for nothing. Her grandmother had said the potion was her problem. That meant it wasn’t something their grandmother had concocted.
Then Cadmilla’s skin turned the same greenish-brown as the potion.
“My stomach,” she moaned, dabbing her face with her kerchief.
Bettony held her breath. Désire’s mouth had dropped open, but Cadmilla hadn’t noticed anything was amiss yet. Maybe if she brought their grandmother here . . .
A funny look crossed Cadmilla’s face when warts and ridges broke out along her face, neck, and hands. “I’m feeling most decidedly odd.”
“You—you—” Fortunately, Désire was less than her placid, concise self.
Cadmilla’s chin disappeared in her expression of regret. “Do you mind if we walk about the gardens later this evening? I should be feeling better by then. It’s likely nothing more than indigestion.”
“You—you—” Désire tried again.
Bettony put her head in her hands. If only her sister’s problem was one too many cakes or rancid tea. For the first time in her life, she realized that maybe her mother’s injunction against visiting their grandmother or practicing magic had some merit in it.
But she never would have visited their grandmother for a spell if she hadn’t been driven to it. She might only be twelve years old, but she was smart enough to know she wouldn’t always be twelve. No, children grew up. It’s what they did. And they spent a lot more time as adults than they ever did as children.
Forever was an awfully long time, and she wanted to spend it singing. She wanted to sing for the king and the court. She wanted to travel to other kingdoms and sing there.
But she couldn’t. Not with this face.
Cadmilla tried to stand, but she swayed and had to grip the edge of the table to keep her balance. “I think I—”
She hiccuped and disappeared in a shower of gingerbread-scented sparks.
“A TOAD!” Désire managed at last, pointing at the creature blinking dazedly up at them next to the unfortunate teacup.
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