Ro and Jo liked that they never really knew what would be happening each day, and today was no exception. Usually Gramps Blaze or Grandma Crystal, using her crystal ball would whip up some surprise, like turning the fort into a Karate dojo, or whisking them off to some exotic place or time, but today had less to do with family magic than friendship magic.
Ro and Jo were running relay races in their yard with Kato and Brie, who were both pretty fast runners and had gotten really good at handing off the batons to their friends as they rushed back and forth at top speed, building muscles, improving coordination, learning to work together as a team, and of course having tons of fun and practicing good sportsmanship.
All of a sudden, a cloud seemed to cover the sun, and it got very shady in Ro and Jo's yard. They looked up to see if it looked like it would storm, and got their surprise for the day, because there in the sky was a giant, sparkly red Chinese dragon swooping toward their yard, carrying some very special passengers – Catherine Galloway and her mom and dad!
"Cool!" Jo and Ro both murmured at once, clapping and jumping up and down as Shen Lung's huge form spiraled down, down, down, until he finally touched the ground in the yard very gently, and leaned very low so that his human passengers could climb down onto the grass. Once they were safely on the ground, Shen Lung shrunk himself to human size, just as Sir WHIP swooped off of Ro's windowsill and landed next to his friend in the yard.
"Hi Catherine!" Jo said to his friend, giving her a hug, as did Ro.
"Hi guys! Long time no see!" Catherine said, smiling.
"This morning Catherine said how much she's missed you since you moved to a different school, and so Mr. Galloway and I asked Shen Lung if he would bring us for a visit," Mrs. Galloway said, hugging the children. "Poof! Here we are!"
Ro and Jo invited Mr. and Mrs. Galloway into the house to visit with Mom and Dad, and then returned to the yard to play with their dragon friends.
"So what have you guys been doing this summer?"
"Training for dragon scales, mostly," Ro said. "And we've done some really cool things! We met the Goddess Athena, and Samuel Adams, and learned to do all kinds of cool stuff."
"Wow!" Catherine said, "You guys have been so busy! What do you have to do to earn dragon scales?"
"It depends on the scale," Jo said, knowing he couldn't really tell Catherine too much about the family magic, but he could tell about the regular human stuff like doing exercises to get in shape and doing good deeds, like rescuing a little kitten named Smudge from a tree.
"Wow!" Catherine said again after hearing the smudge story. "You're a hero, Jo!"
Blushing, Jo said, "I guess, a little." He so wanted to tell Catherine about his cool power!
"I have to go to the bathroom," he said quietly so as not to draw any attention to himself, and he went inside the fort while the girls waited outside.
Once inside the fort he went to the crystal ball on the table and moved his hands over it, watching as the fog began to swirl within it.
Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri's faces appeared, smiling at their grandson, already knowing he had a dilemma to discuss with them.
"'Sup?" Nana Terri said, and Jo smiled.
"Hi! I have a problem, and I can't ask Mom and Dad because they are in the house with company and it would be rude to bug them."
"Nice manners. Impressive. What's the problem?" Nana Terri said.
"Thanks. The problem is, our friend Catherine is here."
"Oh! The little girl whose friend is Shen Lung the dragon?" Gramps Blaze said.
"Yep! She knows magic exists, and Shen Lung and Sir WHIP are friends. She asked about our summer so far, and we told her we met Athena and Samuel Adams, and I think she thought we were pretending. Do we have to let her think that, or can we tell her stuff? And can I show her my powers?"
Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze glanced at one another, as they always seemed to do, and they smiled, nodding.
"Catherine seems like a sensible girl. She keeps the secret about her own magical dragon really well, so I don't think there's a problem telling her about your very special summer activities. Just make sure she understands everything is secret."
"Awesome!" Jo said, then blew kisses to Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze as he turned to race back into the yard. Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri laughed at their grandson's excitement as they faded from view inside the crystal ball. By the time that happened, Jo was in the middle of the yard where Ro and his friends were watching a butterfly perch on Catherine's finger.
"Whoa! That's really cool!" Jo whispered, slowly walking up to the small group of humans, canines, and dragons. The butterfly fluttered its wings, and landed on Jo's nose, it's little legs and wings tickling, but he stood very still so as not to frighten the little dude.
Catherine waved her hand slowly through the air, and suddenly there were dozens of butterflies fluttering about, and they all landed on Ro, Jo, Sir WHIP, Shen Lung, and of course Catherine. A few even landed on Brie and Kato's heads.
"Wow!" Ro said, covered in yellow, white, and multi-colored delicate creatures.
Red and orange scales showed through the flitting wings of hundreds of butterflies that had lighted on Shen Lung and Sir WHIP, each little butterfly face nuzzling their magical friends.
"Wait!" Jo said, moving slowly so as not to frighten the little winged friends, and headed for the fort. He came back out with a small camera, and huddled with Ro and their friends, covered in butterflies, and held the camera up into the air. Then, with a wave of his hand, the camera floated before the group, far enough back to get everyone in the picture. Then Jo moved his finger in the air as if pressing the button on the camera, and the camera, several feet away and out of Jo's reach, clicked and snapped the picture, the flash making everyone blink.
The camera, with Jo's hand controlling it, took several pictures that afternoon, floating around the kids and their friends, snapping pictures as they played tag, had snacks, looked into the crystal ball in the fort, and looked at pictures in the Family Journal of Athena and Sam Adams.
"That butterfly-calling power is great!" Ro said, writing everything down in the family journal about Catherine and her powers.
"Thank you," Catherine said. "I asked my mom and dad on the way here this morning, if it would be alright to tell you about some of the magic I can do. They knew you've kept the secret about Shen Lung, so they said it would be alright if I shared secrets with you."
"Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze said the same thing when I asked about letting you in on our secrets," Jo said.
"When did you talk to Nana Terri and Gramps Blaze?" Ro asked.
"When you came into the fort to use the bathroom, right?" Catherine said, smiling a knowing little smile.
"How did you know that?" Ro said, and Catherine looked into her eyes, and thought her the answer.
When Catherine's answer formed in Ro's mind without Catherine saying a word out loud, she got it. "Oh! You have the same power to read and send thoughts that I do! That will be a lot of fun since we don't go to the same school anymore! We can talk without talking!"
"Yeah!" Catherine said, a huge grin on her face. "But never during tests!"
Ro laughed. "No way! But we can study together for them!"
"That's would be really neat! We can have a study group and do homework together without even leaving the house!"
"And I can get you snacks out of your kitchen without even being in your house," Jo said.
"You will save my mom a lot of work!" Catherine said. "But still, you guys really have to come visit sometimes, for real, you know? Hugs are much better in person!"
With that, Catherine climbed aboard Sir WHIP, with Brie along for company, and Ro, Jo, and Kato climbed onto Shen Lung. Soon the dragons swooped and flipped and loop-de-looped way up in the sky, their human friends shrieking with laughter, their canine friends barking and howling in delight as Mom, Dad, and Mr. and Mrs. Galloway stepped into the yard to watch the spectacle in the sky that only they could see.
TD – 7/23/2016