Sweet Valley Twins: Friendship is Magic (Chapter 8)
Title: Sweet Valley Twins: Friendship is Magic
Summary: All the trouble started right after Lila saw the purple Unicorn in her backyard.
Dedication: For Raven and @buffywatcher23
Timeline: Factory reset, just like almost any book.
Notes: This won’t be as aggressively meta as my last NaNo, so if you were anticipating me leaning so hard on the fourth wall that it falls over, I’m sorry. This still will be a bit sassy, but honestly, I peaked with the Hunger Games crossover. Wait. No, I lied. I couldn’t get past the first page without doing my usual thing.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
14,673 / 50,000 words. 29% done!
On Thursday morning, Applejack walked Melissa to Lila’s locker and gave her a gentle nudge with her foreleg. “You got this, sugarcube. You want me to stay until she gets here?”
Melissa looked at the crowded hall, and the way that even though there was space, people couldn’t help but reach out a hand and skim Applejack’s skin or mane, even if they didn’t speak to her.
“No, it’s ok. Why don’t you get some last-minute fresh air before classes start?”
Applejack’s relief was evident. “Well, if you’re sure…”
“Go. Get away from the grabbing hands!” Melissa said with a smile.
As Applejack retreated, Melissa took a deep breath and gave herself a final pep talk. She had to talk to Lila. Lila could be dense at times. It wasn’t out of character for her to miss the obvious. Melissa had to lay everything out firmly and gently, so they could work on the problem like adults.
And they also really needed to work on their Mother’s Day project – it was due tomorrow and all they’d done so far was eat pizza, write the title on a sheet of paper, and get distracted by talking ponies.
She caught sight of Lila approaching surrounded by a herd of Unicorns (of the non-equine variety), but Lila didn’t notice her until the group was almost upon Melissa.
“Hi, Lila,” Melissa said. “Have you got a moment?”
Lila froze for a second, then regained her composure. “About Mr. Siegel’s homework? Not right this second, Melissa, but later, ok?”
Melissa fought a frown – it was the second time Lila had used science homework as the only reason she would talk to her. “No, it’s–”
“Like I said, Melissa,” Lila said, peering around the Unicorns, “not right this second. I’ll come and find you, ok? Good. See you in science! Bye!”
And with that, Lila took off at high speed down the hall. After a few moments, the Unicorns followed in her wake.
“Well, sugarcube,” she said to herself. “That went well.”
All day long, Lila was bothered by the look on Melissa’s face when she cut her off. She was sure that Melissa would understand why she did it. It seemed that every time Melissa wanted to talk to her about this stupid Mother’s Day project, at least three Unicorns were in earshot.
She could only imagine how hurt Melissa would be if they started asking tactless questions about how she was doing to do a Mother’s Day project without a mother.
She’d been trying to keep the Unicorns and their thoughtless questions away from her friend for days now, but – she realized as Melissa’s disappointed floated through her mind again – Melissa was probably getting annoyed with the runaround she was giving her.
As soon as Booster practice was over, she would head over to Melissa’s house, they would talk about their stupid project. Melissa probably understood what she was doing, she was pretty smart, but it couldn’t hurt to talk it through.
And if Lila were honest, she quite enjoyed the talks she and Melissa had about mothers. They were both in very different situations, but they both felt the absence all the same. All of the other Unicorns had mothers – even Mary, through a very unlikely turn of events. They didn’t really understand.
And it wasn’t as if the Unicorns were any good at talking about their feelings most of the time anyway.
Melissa realized her mistake as she was walking home from school. Lila was terrible at talking about important things, especially if she considered them a secret. Ambushing her at her locker first thing in the morning, when surrounded by her friends, was exactly the wrong way to do things. No wonder Lila panicked and started blurting the words “science project”.
Melissa did resent being the secret that Lila was apparently ashamed of, but she also realized that most of the time when Lila did something obnoxious, she wasn’t aware of how obnoxious it was.
The best thing to do was to head over to Lila’s house – her father would still be away, so she’d be pleased for the company, which would put her in a much more talkative mood.
And if that didn’t work, Melissa was going to just have to make up the Mother’s Day report on Lila’s mother.
As Melissa’s front door opened, Lila realized immediately she’d made the correct decision to smooth things over with Melissa. The first piece of evidence was that Melissa’s older brother, the very cute Andy McCormick answered the door.
“Hi, Lila, come on in.” Andy gave her a friendly smile and headed back into the living room. “How’ve you been?”
“Oh, good, thanks.” She peered around the room. It was just as haphazard and cozy as always. Something about visiting the McCormicks’ always made her feel warm and safe. It wasn’t as grand as her home, and the McCormicks desperately needed a new couch (and there was a truly ugly embroidered cushion that seemed to have a personal mission to clash with literally everything on the planet) and an interior designer, but she would never forget how welcome they made her feel when she thought she was poor. “Is Melissa around?”
“Actually, no,” Andy said, moving through to the kitchen. “She left a note on the fridge saying she had an errand to run and she’d be back later.”
“Oh.” Lila deflated a little. That rather ruined her plans.
“But you can hang around here and wait for her, if you want.”
Well, that was better. She’d get to see Melissa and hang out with Andy.
Andy stuck his head through the kitchen door. “But I plan to put you to work. Do you still remember how to peel carrots?”
Actually, Lila had moved far beyond carrots, and had added peeling potatoes and shelling peas to her repertoire – all under Melissa’s tutelage – but she quickly understood that this was part of an ongoing joke. “I’m not sure. Did you replace your defective peeler?”
She was delighted when Andy laughed, and she followed him into the kitchen. Mrs. Pervis would probably keel over in shock if she saw the way Lila grabbed the carrots like an old hand and set about washing them in the sink before diving into the McCormicks’ flatware drawer and finding a peeler. Mrs. Pervis ran a tight ship and didn’t really like Lila in the kitchen. Having rarely seen Lila in there, she didn’t have much faith in Lila’s culinary abilities.
She started peeling, and she couldn’t help be proud of the fact that there was so much more carrot left than her first attempt, which had left them with significantly more peel than carrot. “Why is it always carrots with you?” she asked, to make conversation. “I bet I could peel other things – I’m ready for sweetcorn, I think.”
Andy laughed again. “Actually they were mom’s favorite. Her mom told her when she was a very little girl that she would be able to see in the dark if she ate her carrots. She thought that would be pretty cool, so ate them every time she could.” Andy paused and smiled at Lila. “Actually, she told me and Melissa the same thing. We believed her. At one point, Melissa even thought she could see better at night.”
Lila sighed. Although her mother was alive, she didn’t have any silly stories like that. “Tell me more about your mother,” she said.
“What do you want to know?” Andy asked.
“Silly stuff,” Lila said promptly, then realized that her phrasing might be a bit rude – especially since Mrs. McCormick was dead. “You know, stories like you just told me. Nice things.”
Andy nodded and pointed through to the living room. “Ok, you see that really ugly cushion?”
Lila nearly said yes, but stifled the urge. “Uh… which one?”
“Don’t be polite, Lila, I’ve seen you staring at it in horror every time you visit.”
Lila flushed. The McCormicks were always so aware of her rudeness.
“Don’t be embarrassed, it really draws the eye,” Andy added. “My mom worked on that every evening after work for over a year. The more she embroidered, the uglier it got. We all agreed it was hideous, but since nobody else in the house had ever made a cushion cover, we kept it.”
Lila smiled. The cushion had managed to get marginally less ugly in her eyes.
It was not Lila or Mrs. Pervis that opened the door as Melissa was expecting, but Mr. Fowler. He smiled at her. “Hello, Melissa, what can I do for you?”
“I was hoping to see Lila. Is she back from Booster practice yet?”
He opened the door wider. “She isn’t, but she’s due home any time now, so why don’t you come on in and wait for her?”
He led her through to the main living room (on the right) where Lila had hosted the ponies’ welcome to Sweet Valley only two days ago. There was no sign of the purple or orange hairs on the couch now. Mrs. Pervis ran a tight ship.
Although there were photos all over the coffee table now and Melissa wondered what Mrs. Pervis thought of that. Probably something respectful, but silently disapproving.
“You’ve caught me in the middle of a project,” Mr. Fowler said, looking a little embarrassed. “With it being Mother’s Day on Sunday, I came home early to be with Lila. I usually get her a present, but this time around I’m a little behind. Maybe you could help me?”
Melissa glanced at the scattered photos. “With what?”
“I picked up a beautiful frame in New York while I was there, and I want to fill it with photos of Lila, but I got back later than I thought, and there are a lot of photos.”
Melissa smiled. What a nice idea. She knew Lila probably did feel miserable on Mother’s Day, and it was nice that her dad did something special to help take the sting out of the day. “And when she gets home, I’ll bustle her up to her room, so that you can get everything hidden away.”
Her eyes lit on a picture of a beaming baby, absolutely covered in what looked like pureed peas. “Now that’s a great photo.”
“Oh, feeding times were always an adventure,” Mr. Fowler said with a laugh, looking less like a stern businessman and more like a regular dad. “My daughter has always known how to wear everything with style – including dinner.”
“Oh, and this one…” Melissa reached out and picked up a beautiful picture of Mr. Fowler, looking much younger and far less coiffed, cradling Lila in his arms. The look on his face showed he was absolutely captivated by his new child. “You really need to use this one.” She paused for a moment before adding, “I think maybe you need to be in the pictures you pick, Mr. Fowler.”