Fable Page 48

“Is Brody going?” Mina asked.

“Brody Carmichael? Uh, why would he?” Nan asked, confused.

“Well, aren’t he and you…?” Mina gestured with her fingers back and forth between them, and Nan’s smile dropped. “Uh, ew. He’s your hot boy obsession, not mine. Besides, he’s probably at water polo tryouts. But I’ve got to go run an errand before tonight.” Nan waved and headed for the exit, but then turned around and yelled, “If you decide to go watch the practice, bring a napkin to catch your drool.”

Mina stood up and laughed at Nan. Could it be that the world had been put back to rights? It sounded like it was. Charlie was home safe and sound, Nan and Brody weren’t a fairy-tale item anymore, but where did that leave her and her curse?

She walked slowly to the aquatics building and sneaked into the top row of the bleachers. Sure enough, there was Brody Carmichael, getting ready to do a dive into the water. The tryouts hadn’t officially started yet, so the boys, being boys, were roughhousing and trying to dunk each other.

She felt the aluminum bleacher dip as someone sat on the seat next to her. Mina didn’t take her eyes off the water for fear that this reality would fade away. Besides, she could tell from the scent of the perfume that it was Mrs. Colbert.

“That was a brave thing you did.” She leaned forward and put her folded her hands on her knees.

Mina sighed loudly. “I only made everything worse.”

“Did you, now? I thought that this was one of the better outcomes. Of course, it’s not the ideal one, but we can live with these consequences.”

Mina looked at Mrs. Colbert, and her voice quavered with unshed tears. “I saved my brother, but at what cost? Jared’s gone, Nix is gone, and the curse has messed with my friend’s memories again. Is there a side effect to all of this tampering? I mean, they’re not going to go crazy or anything, right?”

“No, as long as you can hold your reality together and truly believe in it, then they will accept it as well.” Mrs. Colbert rocked back and forth on her heels, and seemed really interested in the start of the water polo tryouts. The coach had come in and started giving the men a pep talk.

“Here, you fixed it—I think you should keep it safe.” Mina pulled out the seam ripper, which had somehow made it back into her pocket, and handed it to Mrs. Colbert, who fidgeted with the seam ripper.

“Hmm, you should have seen how worried Jared was when he saw you go over to the Fae plane. He found every single piece of the seam ripper and begged us to fix it. It was Ken Wong who finally figured out how it went together. That boy was determined to go after you.”

Mina could feel herself getting angry with her teacher, and she couldn’t hold back the bitterness in her voice. “You knew, didn’t you? You knew why Jared couldn’t go back. That his brother wanted to destroy him. You knew all of these reasons, yet you helped him come after me and now he’s…he’s no longer…”

“Yes, I knew. It’s why we kept the young prince in the dark, because one day they might be reunited, and then none of our secrets would longer be safe. Teague is stronger now, and more dangerous. Even the King and Queen can no longer hold him in check.”

“Why did they allow it to happen? Why couldn’t they control their own son?” Mina felt herself start to tear up again, but she bit the inside of her cheek. She wouldn’t be weak anymore.

“Mina, there’s something you need to understand about Jared and Teague. This was shortly after, mind you, the Grimm Brothers began their quests to close the gates between the worlds. Teague was engaged to the princess of a neighboring kingdom and almost caused a war when he called it off. It seemed that was his intention all along: to cause a war of mass destruction. To save their son, the Queen and King had the strongest Fae in the land come and try to drive the dark side of Teague out. They did it. They separated his dark personality from his good, but it didn’t necessarily split down the middle evenly.”

“I’ll say,” Mina grumbled, remembering how surly Jared could be at times.

“But now that they had split Teague’s two halves, they needed to imprison them and keep them far apart from each other so they would never become whole again. So one of the Queen’s own handmaidens, a sprite, split the Grimm book that Teague was ever so obsessed with in two and attached each of the two personalities to it, and then sent them to separate planes.”

“So are you saying there was never a Jared?” Mina didn’t think she could handle this news.

“Oh, no, there was always a Jared. There still is a Jared. He’s just one side of Teague.”

Mina made a face in disgust. “I don’t think I like any part of Teague.”

Mrs. Colbert gave Mina a scorching look. “Don’t discredit him. After all, there is a small part of Teague that you love and will always love—the Jared side. And if you love him, there’s always hope.”

“So everything was a trap all along. Teague was just trying to get his other half back over to the Fae plane so he could combine himself again and become even more powerful. All of the quests, everything was just a big fat lie.” She yelled out the final word, and it echoed inside the building. A few people stopped to stare at them before they kept on working.

“It’s always been his plan, but for it to work, he needed a Grimm to use the Fae book to combine them.”

“And I was the only Grimm stupid enough to do it.” Mina began to twirl her brown hair around her finger in distraction.

“No, you were the only one brave enough to do it.”

“What about my father?” Mina forced the words out and stared at her hands clenched into fists, preparing herself for the worst.

“He, like you, made a deal with the Stiltskin, only his deal was different. He didn’t know the real side of Teague and Jared. Your father sought out Temple on this plane and made his own deal. If he died during a quest, he wanted Sara to have a son to replace himself. So, during one of Teague’s more deadly attempts at a quest, your father was mortally wounded, and the Stiltskin came to collect. Your father’s life for Sara’s yet unborn son. He gave the rest of his life willingly, Mina.”

Mina’s eyes squeezed shut, and her heart filled with pain. “So what did I see on the Fae plane? Who was it I saw released after the Stiltskin died? A ghost?”

Mrs. Colbert reached over and squeezed her hands. “He died in this world, Mina, on the physical plane. I don’t think he can come back.” She handed her a tissue.

Mina sniffed and crumpled up the tissue to wipe at her eyes. “Soooo,” she stuttered out between crying breaths, “as long as he stays on the Fae plane, he’ll live.”

Mrs. Colbert picked up the seam ripper and handed it back to her, gently placing it between her hands. “You’re not done with this yet, my dear.” She smiled softly. “Whether you know it or not. You are one step closer to breaking the curse on your family.” She pulled her bag onto her lap and opened it up to pull out a familiar small book. It was the Grimoire.

Mina had been so worried when it didn’t travel across to the Fae plane with her, and worried about who would find it. It turned out she didn’t have to worry at all. Mina gingerly picked up the notebook and ran her fingers over it. It didn’t feel the same. It felt lacking, like it was missing something—Jared.

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