Secrets and Sapphires
CHAPTER 1 New Halos!
HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEWS?” whispered Ella Brown in excitement, as she sat down next to her friend Poppy in morning assembly.
“What news?” Poppy demanded.
“It’s angel-tastic! Someone in our year has . . .”
“Ssh!” Tilly, one of their other friends, hushed them hastily. She nodded to the stage where Archangel Grace, the head of the
Guardian Angel Academy, was waiting for silence. Archangel Grace was a plump angel with wise eyes, enormous gossamer wings, and dark hair that was pulled back into a bun on the back of her head.
Ella fidgeted in frustration on the bench. She was longing to tell Poppy what she had just overheard on the way into the hall but she didn’t want to be scolded by Archangel Grace. She pushed her shoulder-length brown hair behind her ears and tried to concentrate.
“Good morning, angels,” Archangel Grace said, smiling around at the school. “Now, before I make the morning announcements, I have some good news.” She paused. “A third-grade angel has just completed her first halo card!”
“That’s what I was going to tell you!”
hissed Ella, elbowing Poppy in the ribs, as excited gasps filled the air.
“Who is it?” whispered Poppy eagerly.
“I don’t know!” Ella replied. All the angels at the academy had a halo card and were awarded halo stamps for good behavior. When an angel’s halo card was completely filled in, the angel’s halo would change color and her wings grow bigger. The white halos all the angels started with changed to sapphire, which changed to ruby and so on, all the way up until the final level was reached—the diamond level. Only the very best, most angelic, angels ever got a diamond halo. Ella longed to have one.
She looked at the rest of the third graders, sitting on the bench. They all had white halos at the moment. Which of them had filled in
their card? She knew that it wasn’t one of her best friends. Poppy, whose messy blond curls were half hanging out of her ponytail and whose white dress was covered in splotches of ink, was lovely, but she was very clumsy and untidy—neither of which were perfect angel qualities. Tilly and Jess found it easier to get halo stamps—they were both quieter and more well-behaved—but Ella knew Jess needed another four halo stamps and Tilly another two. Ella touched her own halo card in her pocket and sighed.
One thing was for sure—it definitely wasn’t her. She still had ten halo stamps to get!
Halo stamps were awarded for being good and doing kind deeds and, although Ella liked to think she was kind, she definitely wasn’t always good! She just couldn’t help herself. She always tried her hardest, but somehow she couldn’t stop herself from getting into trouble!
“Olivia Starfall, would you like to come up here?” Archangel Grace called over to where a sweet-looking angel with long dark hair and bright-blue eyes was sitting, a little ways from Ella, her ankles crossed and her hands folded neatly in her lap.
Olivia! Of course! Ella wasn’t surprised as Olivia stood up, blushing. Olivia was wonderful—always happy to help out if you
got stuck, but modest too. She could fly the most perfect loop-the-loop, her silver linings were careful and tidy, and her hair neatly combed. Ella smiled and applauded with the others when Olivia flew up to the stage, her tiny wings fluttering.
As she landed beside Archangel Grace, all of the angels cheered loudly. Well, nearly all of them—Ella caught sight of another angel at the far end of the third-grade bench who didn’t look pleased at all. With her golden hair curled into ringlets, big blue eyes and spotless uniform, you would have thought she was a perfect angel, if it wasn’t for the scowl on her face. Primrose!
As Primrose leaned in to whisper to the red-haired angel beside her, she covered her mouth
with her hand and her eyes narrowed spitefully. Ella sighed. She was sure that Primrose wasn’t saying anything nice about Olivia. Ella turned back. Olivia was standing next to Archangel Grace now, her face pink with embarrassment. Archangel Grace raised her wand.
“Good shall be rewarded, virtue too, white halo change to shining blue . . .” She waved her wand in the air three times and a small cloud of glittering silver angel dust cascaded down from it, landing on Olivia’s halo. Instantly it turned to deep glowing sapphire, and Olivia’s white uniform became the pale blue of a spring sky.
A chorus of gasps and sighs filled the room.
“Wow, isn’t that amazing!”
“She looks really beautiful!”
“Oh, I remember getting my sapphire halo when I was a third grader!”
Ella fluttered her own tiny little wings. She wanted to be up on that stage so badly. “I hope I get a sapphire halo soon,” she breathed.
As Olivia flew back to her place,
Archangel Grace called for silence again. “And now, on to another matter. A rather less happy one. As you all know, we make our very own angel dust here at the school. It comes from glitter flowers, which are very rare, and it has come to my attention that we’re very low on stock. We’ve planted a new crop of flowers in the school greenhouse but it will take some time before they bloom. Isn’t that right, Angel Celestine?” Archangel Grace turned to a pretty, dark-haired teacher who was seated with the other teachers at the back of the stage.
“It is indeed,” said Angel Celestine, the gardening teacher. “The crop needs to flower before the glitter can be harvested, which can be tricky. Conditions need to be just right.
Hopefully we should be able to renew our supply of angel dust soon.”
Archangel Grace nodded. “And in the meantime, the remaining angel dust must be used sparingly. As you all know, we were going to have the school Spring Picnic next weekend, but I’m going to have to cancel it for the time being to save on magic.”
“Oh no . . .” There were groans from around the room.
Ella had never actually been to the Spring Picnic but she’d heard all about it and had been looking forward to it too. Disappointment flooded through her.
Archangel Grace held up her hands again and silence fell. “I know that this will be a huge disappointment to you and I’m really sorry for
that, but I am sure you can all understand that we must be sensible. If we run out of angel dust, we won’t be able to do any angel magic and that would be a catastrophe.”
The angels in the room nodded understandingly.
“We will have the picnic when the flowers can be harvested,” said Archangel Grace. “In the meantime, if anyone would like to help out in the greenhouses, looking after the plants, then I am sure Angel Celestine would be very grateful. Now, let us all stand and sing Glad Tidings and Silver Linings.”
When assembly was over, Ella filed out of the hall with the other angels. As soon as they were away from the teachers’ watchful eyes, she crowded around with her friends.
“Isn’t it amazing about Olivia?” burst out Tilly.
“Just glittersome!” said Poppy.
“It’ll be us next,” joined in Jess, flicking her long dark ponytail over her shoulder.
“Well, maybe you and Tilly.” Ella sighed. “But Poppy and I have quite a few more halo stamps to get, don’t we, Poppy?”
But Poppy wasn’t listening. She was looking at the other side of the room where Primrose was now standing with her arm linked through Olivia’s. “Primrose is unbelievable,” she said, shaking her head. “Yesterday she made a fuss because she didn’t want to sit with Olivia in forgetting spell class because she said Olivia was boring. Now she’s acting like they’re best friends!”
Primrose simpered as people came up to congratulate the other girl. “Oh, I always knew darling Livvy would be the first to get her sapphire halo,” she said loudly. “She’s wonderful, isn’t she?”
Olivia gave Primrose a very surprised look.
Ella snorted. “If getting a sapphire halo means having Primrose hanging around, then maybe I don’t want to fill my halo card after all.”
“Ssh! They’re coming over!” hissed Jess.
Olivia headed in their direction, with Primrose holding tightly to her arm.
“Congratulations, Olivia.” Ella smiled.
“Thanks, Ella,” said Olivia shyly. “I can’t believe I was the first to get my sapphire halo. It was a real fluke.”
“I was just saying how amazing Olivia’s sapphire dress and halo look on her, don’t you agree?” Primrose gushed. “It’s cherub-azing!”
“Er, thank you,” said Olivia, clearly flustered by Primrose’s attention. “Well, I’ve got to get something from my dorm. I’ll . . . um, see you later.” She managed to extract herself from Primrose’s grasp and hurried away.
“Don’t be long! I’ll save you a seat in class!” Primrose called sweetly after her.
“What’s going on, Primrose?” Ella demanded. “Since when have you saved Olivia a seat in class?”
Primrose gave her a wide-eyed look. “I’m just being thoughtful.”
“Thoughtful!” spluttered Ella. “You’ve never said two words to Olivia before, but
suddenly she gets a sapphire halo and you’re her new best friend. I bet you just want to hang around with her now because everyone’s giving her lots of attention.”
“What a mean thing to say!” Primrose looked shocked. “And when I was only trying to do a kind deed. You know the school handbook says perfect angels are always kind.”
She gave Ella a snooty look. “Though why I should expect you to know anything about being the perfect angel, I don’t know. How many halo stamps do you still have to get before your card is full, Ella? Is it five? Six? Oh, sorry, I think it’s ten, isn’t it? Ten!” She rolled her eyes. “And I need . . . hmm, just four. Well, never mind. I’m sure you’ll complete your first halo card one day—even if the rest of us have our diamond halos by then! Now, please excuse me or I will be late for class.”
Putting her nose in the air, she flew away.
Ella let out a frustrated exclamation. “Halos and wings! Primrose is so annoying!”
“Calm down,” said Tilly, putting a hand soothingly on Ella’s arm. “She’s not worth getting upset over.”
“Definitely not,” declared Poppy. “You’ll fill your halo card up quickly. We all will. Who cares who gets there first?”
“Soon we’ll all have sapphire halos like Olivia,” said Jess happily. “But Primrose was right about one thing—we’d better not be late for Angel Gabriella or we’ll lose some of the halo stamps we’ve already got!”
“Come on!” Ella cried, whizzing into the air. “Let’s go!”