“But Mom, I need Teddy.”
“I can’t find him, Alex. You’ll have to sleep without him tonight. He must have gotten into a larger battle with the monsters under the bed again.”
“But Moooooom!” Alex sighed.
“No buts, Alex. To sleepland with you. I’ll leave the light on tonight instead. You’ll have to sleep with Bacon.” Alex’s mother handed her a stuffed pig as she tucked her daughter into bed.
Alex sighed but accepted the toy anyway. “What good is Sir Francis going to do against the bed troll anyway?”
“Bacon has his own magic, Alex. You just haven’t seen it yet because you’re asleep when they fight the troll.”
Alex held up Bacon, studying him closely. She saw the patches her mother had sewn on last week. Alex couldn’t remember how they had gotten there, so she made up a story about a battle in the Closet where Bacon had gotten hit with a spear. Her mother just rolled her eyes and kept sewing the patch. “He doesn’t look all that special, though.”
“The best magic cannot be seen, Alex.” Her mother bent and brushed aside a lock of brown curly hair before kissing her forehead. “It’s like love. We all know it’s there, but no one really sees it until it’s shown in wildly obvious ways. It’s best to believe and act as if it’s always been there, not just arrived and new.”
“You always say that, especially after I’ve punched Max for something.”
“Your sister is family. We don’t hit family. Even if they’re annoying and calling you toad face,” her mother said, putting her hands on her hips and looking down at Alex.
Alex sighed and laid back with Bacon in her bed. It was no use trying to reason her way out of going to bed. Her mother always had an answer for everything and it was annoying. Alex’s mother smiled at her stubborn daughter and shook her head. She turned on the star projection globe as she walked out of the room and closed the door behind her. Alex curled around Bacon, wishing that her teddy was there because she found it very difficult to stop dreaming about the under the bed trolls with just Sir Francis Bacon there. He was a good pig, her Bacon, but he was no Teddy Knight. Alex drifted off to sleep as the wind picked up, making the wind chime depicting knights and dragons outside her bedroom window start to sing.
Sir Francis Bacon shook his pink porcine head and blinked his eyes as he woke from his slumber. Wiggling out from under Alex’s arm, Bacon climbed over her slumbering body, thankful she didn’t wake when he hit the bed on the other side of her with a squeal. Cursing his inability to keep himself from getting hurt, he got up and paced the side of the bed. If he hadn’t been so clumsy and ripped his shoulder, he’d be with Teddy now instead of back in bed with the kid. They would have had to leave her with Sir George, but really a dragon who’s afraid of his own shadow was better than leaving her unprotected at all. Bacon paced the bed, hoping for any sign of Teddy from under the bed or out of the closet.
Teddy groaned and lifted a paw to his head. Feeling the tear in his fabric, he groaned louder and kept his eyes closed. Alex was going to scream when she saw that tear and his heart sank in his chest. Upsetting her was not the plan when he left to fight Grimilgrog. Neither was getting knocked unconscious. Teddy winced from the pain as he maneuvered himself into a sitting position. When he was upright, he finally opened his eyes and immediately closed them when the sunlight made his already throbbing head beat harder.
When the pounding slowed to a dull throb, Teddy attempted to open his eyes again. This time, he opened them one at a time. Finally taking a good look around at the throne room, he sighed with relief at the body of Grimilgrog that was laying next to him. Getting up slowly, he picked his way over and placed an ear on the chest of the giant troll. There was no sound coming from the creature. Teddy could feel his shoulders relax just a little. Looking around for his sword, Teddy found it not far from where he had fallen after the Heart of the Closet had burst open. Picking it up, Teddy slid it back into the sheath on his belt.
Teddy picked his way through the debris that littered the once beautiful throne room of the Queen, to the Heart itself. Looking down at the blue locket, he sighed. It was too dangerous to leave in the open. Teddy bent down and picked up the Heart, putting it in the pouch he carried on his back. He would decide what to do with it later and started across the room. When he got to the doors, Teddy slipped out and started making his way across the castle grounds.
Night blanketed the sky and Teddy looked up, checking the position of the moon in the sky to judge how much time he had to get back to Alex’s room. By his calculations, he had been out of her room for a little over thirty-six hours. He continued his calculations to find that he had a little less than 10 hours to make it back before he was stuck in the Closet forever. As much as Teddy loved serving and protecting the Closet, he did not want to be a permanent resident.
Sir Francis Bacon paced the edge of the bed further, occasionally glaring at the closed closet door. Sir George flapped his wings from where he was watching Alex sleep on her headboard.
“He’s all right, isn’t he?” Sir. George asked.
“I don’t know. He’s never been away this long before.”
“It’s nearly been two full nights. You know what happens when toys don’t come back.”
Bacon nodded. He knew and he was afraid.
Teddy ran through the Guardians Forest as fast as he could. Sunrise was approaching faster than he had calculated and with the way the forest was fighting him, making it to the portal might be a bit of a problem. Taking a running leap, Teddy launched himself over a fallen log, only to be snatched by a vine around the neck. Kicking his feet, Teddy panicked as he fought to get his sword out of the sheath. Just before he managed the task, the vine dropped him at the feet of a beautiful man.
“Your majesty! I need to get back to my home, why do you trouble me so?”
“Teddy the portal is already closed. You cannot go home.” His Majesty, the King of the Guardian Forest said as he looked down at Teddy.
Teddy got to his feet and bowed deeply to his Majesty. “With all due respect, I am going home.”
His Majesty, Fioriel watched Teddy run for the portal and he shook his head. “That Bear is stubborn.”
“Of course he is. He loves his Alex.” Queen Harmorina said as she appeared next to him. “You do remember what it was like to love a child, don’t you? Even your own before he went to the dark?”
His Majesty sighed. “Yes, I loved my son. I am troubled at his passing.”
“Oh don’t be daft, Fi. You’re sad. You can say it freely.”
“You push too hard, Har.”
“Never hard enough, always just the right amount.”
“So you say. Bah, I’m done with him and this place. Let us go home.” King Fioriel said and took his Queen’s hand. Together, they vanished in a ball of light.
Teddy ran through the forest and the bushes that were no longer grabbing at him to keep him inside the Closet. He broke through the last of the foliage in time to see that the portal had just started to close. Picking up his speed, Teddy ran straight for the shining pool of light in the middle of the clearing. Teddy launched himself towards it, hitting the center and sinking into the pool.
Sir Francis Bacon gasped when he saw Teddy fall forward from the Closet. His gasp alerted Sir George who flew down to pick him up. Sir George placed Teddy on the bed and they gathered around him to see if he was still alive. Teddy groaned and Bacon let out a sigh of relief.
“We need to get him up to Alex, Bacon.”
“Too late, George. Here comes the sun. She’ll find us here.”
Alex awoke later that morning and found the three of them huddled together at the end of the bed. She let out a loud screech when she saw Teddy and snatched him up from between his companions.
“Look! Mom!” She said as she ran out of the room with Teddy in her hands. “Teddy’s home!”