Chapter Six-Gold Star
Azkedelia and Merlin landed just outside the courtyard.
She turned and faced him. "Thanks for tonight, Merlin. I guess I'll see you later."
Merlin leaned down and kissed her again, slowly and gently. "Bye, Az."
Azkedelia bit her lip and walked in the courtyard. Pyro was already there, his arm in a cast and sling. Headmaster DiVanno was standing next to two buckets of soapy water along with a bunch of other cleaning supplies.
"How nice of you to join us, Miss Keystone."
Azkedelia walked closer. "My apologies, Headmaster. I was…distracted and lost track of time."
"Well thanks to your tardiness, you will stay an extra minute for every minute you were late. I will be back in half an hour to see how you have done. Oh, and you cannot use magic to clean this. If you do, it will only worsen your punishment."
After the headmaster walked off, Pyro glared at Azkedelia. "This is your fault. If you hadn't challenged me, we wouldn't be here."
Azkedelia grabbed a sponge and a bucket of water and walked to a large set of scorch marks. "I didn't challenge you," she said through clenched teeth. "You attacked me and I defended myself."
Pyro laughed harshly. "I came at you and you broke my arm and took my Grellon."
Azkedelia applied her anger to the scorch mark on the smooth stone. "I did not take your Grellon, half of them came to me. They chose me."
Pyro started circling her. "You're just a power-hungry little half-breed, aren't you?"
Azkedelia stood up and faced him. "Pyro, I didn't want to fight you earlier. I don't want to fight you now. And just remember what I did to you and know that I can do far worse."
Pyro angrily grabbed a broom and started sweeping up the phoenix feathers. The half hour passed in silence. Azkedelia had scrubbed up nearly all the scorch marks and Pyro was putting all the feathers in bags. Headmaster DiVanno walked into the courtyard and surveyed their handiwork.
"That is a good start. Mr. Aviary, you may leave. Miss Keystone, you are to stay here for another twenty minutes."
Pyro set a bag of feathers down and walked away. Headmaster DiVanno pulled a steel pocket watch out of a pocket in his jacket and checked the time, then snapped it shut and followed Pyro. Azkedelia sighed and pulled the bucket to another large scorch mark. She had just started to scrub when a bubble floated by. Startled, Azkedelia looked up. The bubble landed on her leg and popped. Another bubble came dancing by, this one popping on her nose.
"That last one missed, it was supposed to pop on your lips."
Azkedelia looked around.
Merlin laughed and materialized from the shadows. "I need to work on my control."
Azkedelia smiled. "What are you doing here?"
Merlin walked closer. "I was wondering aimlessly around, thinking about our little 'talk' earlier and I realized that you were probably wondering why it all happened."
Azkedelia smiled and put the sponge aside. "Well, I just figured it was because you liked me and couldn't resist the electric current."
Merlin smiled. "Well aren't you just the smart phoenix-fey?"
Azkedelia laughed. "Why yes, yes I am. So do I get a gold star?"
"Hmmm…I guess so. But close your eyes."
Azkedelia closed her eyes and heard Merlin whisper something.
"Open your eyes."
Azkedelia did and had to momentarily shield her eyes from the dazzling light emanating from Merlin's hand. After her eyes were adjusted to the light, she saw a gold star hovering above Merlin's hand.
Azkedelia got up and walked towards him. "Is that…"
"Real? Maybe. But it's for you. I told you I'd get you a gold star, and I'm a warlock of my word."
Azkedelia smiled and looked in Merlin's eyes. "Thanks, but where am I supposed to keep a gold star?"
Merlin whispered another incantation and the starlight dimmed and a long golden chain formed.
Merlin lifted the slender chain and put it around Azkedelia's neck."That's where you keep a gold star."
Azkedelia smiled as Merlin gently traced her jaw. "Merlin, you're distracting me. I'm supposed to have made some progress by now."
Merlin looked around the courtyard. "Well then, what can I do to help?"
Azkedelia shook her head. "Nothing. Magic can't be used to help this, and you're not supposed to be here."
Merlin smiled. "Well I'm here, and I want to help. What can I do?"
Guessing correctly that he wouldn't take no for an answer, Azkedelia pressed a bristle brush into his hands along with some soft wax. "You're going to go behind me and rub the wax into the stone when I'm done scrubbing."
Merlin nodded. "Yes, Fiera Az."
Azkedelia smiled and gently shoved him.
Merlin laughed. "No pushing, I'm here to help."
"Okay. But as soon as Headmaster starts coming back, you've got to disappear, or we'll both be in a lot of trouble."
Merlin started rubbing wax in the stone. "I know that. And that's why he won't know I'm here."
Azkedelia smiled and shook her head. She picked up the sponge and continued scrubbing. The twenty minutes passed in silence, but instead of the air crackling with anger, it buzzed with the electric current that ran between Merlin and Azkedelia. Soon, the sound of footsteps against stone rang out into the courtyard.
Merlin jumped up and set the bristle brush and wax next to Azkedelia. "Here. Rub some wax on your hands to make it look like you did this. I'll see you tomorrow."
Merlin brushed his lips across her cheek and sprinted away, his soft leather shoes making no sound. Azkedelia kept scrubbing as the headmaster walked into the courtyard.
Headmaster DiVanno looked around at Azkedelia’s progress. "Your time is up, Miss Keystone. You may go."
Azkedelia nodded and got up. "Yes, Headmaster." She turned and walked to her room, ready to sink into her rose-filled bed and not move again.