Chapter Four: Conniptions

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"peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."
-albert einstein

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I wake up early the next morning and silently walk over to Phaedran's bedroom. I want him to be with me when I deal with Aunt Catrice, as she will most likely be exasperated.

After slowly opening the door to his room, I sneak inside, and whisper, "Phaedran?" just audible enough for him to hear me (he's a light sleeper).

His eyes open, and he looks at me. "What are you doing?" he whispers back.

I walk over to him, and sit down on the side of his bed. "Can you come with me when I talk to Aunt Catrice?"

After a moment of silence, he says, "Sure," and gets out of bed.

He pulls on a light blue shirt and a white hoodie to accompany his navy pajama pants, and we head downstairs, anxious for Aunt Catrice's inevitable tantrum.

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Aunt Catrice's face turns pale white when her eyes lay sight on me sitting at the kitchen table.  She looks as though she might faint, but instead she just walks over to me, her eyebrows knit in anger.

"Where the hell were you!?" she hisses, her voice cold like she's saying a curse.  "You spontaneously got sick and left without a word?!  How dare you?!"

It's a good thing none of my friends are awake yet, as I would turn scarlet from embarrassment.

"Aunt Catrice, listen," Phaedran says.  "She—"

"Shut up, Phaedran.  I'm talking to her, not you."

He silences, and both of them look at me.

The room is completely quiet, only to be broken by me finally speaking.

"What Phaedran told you was a lie," I say, not looking at my brother, knowing he must feel betrayed.  "I didn't have pneumonia, I didn't go to the hospital.  Instead—even though you won't believe me—I went unconscious and woke up on another planet."

She just stares at me.

"Eravale," I say.  "That's what the planet was called.  It flourished with magic, and I met so many amazing friends there.  I was only there for a few weeks, but since the days here are shorter, I was gone for six months."

I'm reliving the conversation I had with Phaedran last night, I realize.

"Eravale..." she says slowly.  "Your time had finally came..."

I am thunderstruck by her knowledge of Eravale.  Does everyone in my family (besides Eupraxia) know about it?  It feels as if a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

"So, you forgive me?" I ask.

Aunt Catrice replies with, "Yes.  Hypaeria, I've been to Eravale before, it's such a gorgeous place.  You must tell me about your travels."

I feel the giant smile slithering across my face.  "Of course, Aunt Catrice.  And, by the way, did you ever finish watching Yule Log, from before I left?"

"Obviously!  I watched it three times afterwards, too!"

She walks over to me, and pulls me into an awkward embrace.  Then, she returns to making coffee, an assuring smile on her face.  I have a strong feeling that that smile will linger for quite a while.

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