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Challenges Met:

-Writing Prompt: Magic is forbidden by order of her father, the king, and punishable by death. How will she hide the fact that she can suddenly talk to animals?

-Scene about Revenge

Melanie’s hands shook so hard that she couldn’t open the door to her bedroom.

No. No, no, no, no, no, no.

This wasn’t happening.

She struggled with the doorknob again, putting her entire body into it. The door squeaked open, and she nearly fell into her room.

With her heartbeat pounding in her ear, Melanie couldn’t tell if she closed the door quietly or not, but she managed to open the window on her first try.

A rush of cool, morning air bathed her hot face.

This was not happening.

“My lady, what has you so flustered this beautiful morning?” The voice came from above her.

She shut down, nearly falling to her knees. “What do you want from me?”

“Me? Nothing. You seem to be in want of something, however.”

Melanie finally peered up into the tree’s limbs outside of her window. A blue robin tilted its head and blinked a black eye at her.

“How are you talking to me?”

“I’ve always been able to talk. You’ve never talked back before.”

Melanie fell into hysterical laughter, tumbling into hyperventilation.

How did this start? Animals were talking to her. And she understood them.

Shaking herself, Melanie stumbled to her feet and reeled toward the bathroom and the promise of a warm bath. No animals in there to talk to her while she wrangled back her sanity.

Hot water splashed into the bottom of the tub with full force. 

She knocked bath bombs and salts and oils inside, anything that would help soothe her. Stripping out of her day dress, the scents brewing in the room sent her through another dizzy fit.

Slipping into the tub numbed the magic that threatened to overtake her several times that day.

Everything settled, sending Melanie off into a light sleep.

When she woke, her peace lasted only so long.

The cold water seeped into her skin. Thankfully, the day had been warm, so she didn’t freeze. 

Dark skies greeted her by the open window, and the songs of the birds carried eerie words to her through the archway.

Pick ‘em clean. Pick ‘em dead. Pack their bones in for our beds.

Grab the grubs. Grab the worms. Isn’t it lovely when they squirm.

Melanie shook it off, closing the panes.

Even the gross imagery of the song couldn’t deter the low grumbling in her belly. Dinner was far over, so Melanie snuck down to the kitchen to eat the leftovers and scraps. The cold meats and roasted vegetables made for an easy meal, but the full slice of blueberry pie was a genuine treat. She couldn’t find any fresh cream. It in no way diminished the bliss the sweets caused.

A glossy cat jumped to the table across from her, and Melanie stiffened before taking another slow bite of pie.

“Give me a piece of that crust, girl. No berries.” A purr underlay her voice, and the feline blinked her round yellow eyes at Melanie.

“I have a mouse in my room. Find it, and kill it for me.” If the cat wanted a treat, she could earn it.

A few slow blinks turned her head. “Deal. Crust now.”

Melanie broke a chunk off and set it on the table for her.

After a couple of breaths, the cat took the crust in its fangs and hopped off to disappear out of the room.

“You’re welcome.” 

Peering around, she finished the last of her pie and abandoned her dishes in the sink.

Mice squeaked across the hall as she exited, squealing about cheese and crumbs and dust.

Melanie ignored them. If she simply let their chatter fall into the background, no one would be the wiser.

She could manage this. A full belly helped the stress. Made this mess seem more manageable.

Once she shut herself in her room again, sleep was the only other salve. Maybe when she woke up, this will all have been a nightmare.

But at the end of the bed, on the foot of the coverlet, sat a dead mouse. The one that had been surprising and making her squeal for days.

Perhaps, talking to animals could have its perks.

So long as it didn’t get her killed.

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