Name: Acacia Carter
Title: What Good is a Toad?
Word Count: 484
A/N: Oh, look, it's Jamie. I wonder who SHE wrote about.
He’d pretended to be surprised. Pleased. After all, it was his first pet. But as he shuffled through the train, he glanced into the other compartments and slivers of envy pricked at him when he would glimpse the glowing eyes of a cat or the soft plumage of a slumbering owl.
Owls could deliver mail. Cats were at least clever and pleasant to snuggle with. What was a toad good for, aside from wriggling in pockets and causing unsightly bulges?
There was an empty compartment at the rear of the train. Sighing gratefully, he flopped into one of the seats next to the window before plunging his hand into his robes to pull the toad out.
He hadn’t named it yet. His books had been useless in offering good names, and he couldn’t think of anything clever. It was a toad. He wasn’t even sure whether it was a boy toad or a girl toad, and he didn’t have the faintest idea of how to check. He didn’t think he was that curious.
It made a sound between a croak and a wheeze and jumped from his hand onto the floor, where it began to hop with surprising speed towards the open compartment door.
“Noooooo!” He scrambled out of his seat, tripping over the hem of his robes and landing on all fours on the rug. He caught a glimpse of the toad’s back legs as it hopped around the corner and out of his sight.
Even after he’d crawled to the door and looked down the corridor, he couldn’t see it anywhere. Lovely. He hadn’t had the toad for a month yet, and he’d already lost it. He hung his head for a moment, cursing his luck.
“Is this yours?”
He snapped his head up. And up. She was very tall, and he was still on his hands and knees on the ground. In her hands she held -
“Why’ve you got two toads?” he asked stupidly, pushing himself to his feet in a somewhat ungainly manner.
She wasn’t nearly as tall when he was standing properly, though he still only came up to her collarbone. She grinned, showcasing a gap between her two front teeth that he immediately decided with all the certainty of his eleven years was undeniably attractive. “One is mine, silly.” She handed one of them to him; he was fairly certain it was his. As certain as one could be about these things, anyway.
“I’m Enid,” she said, flashing him that gap-toothed smile again.
“Algernon,” he said, and to his surprise, he was smiling as well. “But everyone calls me Algie.”
“Algie,” she said slowly, as though tasting it. After a moment, she jerked her head in the direction of her compartment. “D’you like Fizzing Whizzbees? I’ve got a whole jar.”
As the train pulled away from the platform, Algie concluded that toads weren’t so bad after all.