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Ever After High: Lizzie Hearts and the Hedgehog’s Hexcellent Adventure: A Little Shuffle Story

Suzanne Selfors

  Lizzie Hearts and the Hedgehog’s Hexcellent Adventure

  A Little Shuffle Story

  By Suzanne Selfors

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  Table of Contents

  About the Author

  Copyright Page

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  To Bob, who loves me even when I’m feeling as prickly as a hedgehog

  At a very special school called Ever After High, in the dormitory room of the Queen of Hearts’s daughter, a little hedgehog named Shuffle was fast asleep.

  In many ways, Shuffle was like other hedgehogs. She liked to snooze most of the day, usually curled up in a warm spot, hidden from view. She liked to forage most of the night, looking for yummy stuff to eat—anything with six or eight legs that crawled across the floor was acceptable, but sweet treats were preferred. When happy, she made soft grunting sounds, and when scared, she rolled into a tight ball and turned herself into a prickly pincushion—a literal royal pain!

  But Shuffle wasn’t exactly ordinary, because she’d been born in Wonderland, an amazing, faraway kingdom where very little made sense and very much made no sense. As she napped, she dreamed about her homeland. She imagined the heart-shaped hedgerows outside the queen’s palace, where her family lived. Her mother and father were employed as croquet balls, which is not as painful as it sounds, mostly because the queen had terrible aim and was always missing.

  As these memories filled her head, Shuffle snorted happily in her sleep, because Wonderland was where she’d developed her sweet tooth. Whenever the queen rode past, her card soldiers would toss treats such as frosted tea cakes, sugar hearts, and Cheshire chocolates to the flocks of flamingos. The hedgehogs would waddle between flamingo legs, snuffling the crumbs. Getting poked by a long flamingo beak was worth the risk because those treats were wonderlicious.

  One day, while Shuffle foraged for tea cake crumbs with her family, her life changed forever. “Listen up! Listen up!” the Queen of Hearts bellowed. “My daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Lizzie, wants a pet hedgehog! And what my daughter wants, my daughter gets! So line up, you portly little pricklebugs, or heads will roll!”

  “Make sure your snouts are clean,” Mother Hedgehog told her twenty-seven children. “It’s an honor to be chosen by a princess. You’ll get to live in the palace.” While the queen glared at them, her face as red as the painted roses, the hedgehog siblings lined up.

  “Go on!” the queen hollered in her shrill voice. “Choose one!”

  Lizzie Hearts marched past the trembling hedgehogs, her red boots leaving imprints in the soft grass. “I want that one!” Lizzie said with a wave of her scepter. “No, wait, I want that one! No, I’ve changed my mind. That one!” Snuffle didn’t really care about the goings-on, because she’d spied a large crumb near one of the rosebushes. Her mouth began to water.

  Forget this, Shuffle thought. That crumb has my name on it. And off she waddled.

  “That one!” Lizzie cried. Before Shuffle could roll into a prickly ball, she was hoisted into the air. And before she could wiggle free, she found herself being put headfirst into a Puss-in-Boots Couture handbag. “She won’t fit!” Lizzie exclaimed. “Her belly’s too big.”

  “Off with her head!” the Queen of Hearts ordered.

  “Now, Mother, I don’t think that’s necessary. She simply needs to stop eating so much sugar.” Lizzie tucked Shuffle in the crook of her arm and patted her little spiky head. That was when Shuffle noticed the tower of luggage heaped on top of a nearby carriage. As it turned out, the palace wasn’t Shuffle’s destination. Lizzie was leaving for Ever After High, and Shuffle was going with her, like it or not. Good-bye, family. Good-bye, hedgerow.

  Good-bye, tea cakes, sugar hearts, and Cheshire chocolates!

  Shuffle’s dream about that fateful day faded away and was replaced by the image of a big bowl of Farmer-in-the-Dell brand granola. Granola was so boring! But ever since coming to Ever After High, Lizzie had insisted that Shuffle eat healthy snacks.

  As night fell over the school, Shuffle waited at the bottom of the bed for Lizzie to fall asleep. It was warm down beneath the quilts. She liked curling up next to the fuzzy socks that Lizzie often slept in. The sound of Lizzie’s snoring was her cue to emerge. Wiggling her round bottom, she waddled up the mattress until she reached Lizzie’s head. Poking her nose out of the blankets, she glanced over at the window to make sure darkness had settled. A little shiver of anticipation tickled the tips of her spines. It was time to forage! Forget the granola. She wanted the sweet taste of Wonderland.

  Careful not to step on Lizzie’s face or poke her with a quill, Shuffle climbed around Lizzie’s head and then free-fell off the side of the bed, landing softly in a pile of socks. Lizzie’s side of the dormitory room was always messy, which was great for a hedgehog because there were plenty of places to burrow and hide in. And occasionally get stepped on, which wasn’t so nice. But that’s what happens when you’re smaller than everyone else.

  The other girl who shared the room was named Duchess Swan, daughter of the Swan Princess, and she was also fast asleep, her lavender quilt rising and falling with her deep breaths. The white swan who slept in a nest next to Duchess’s bed raised her head and blinked at Shuffle. Her name was Pirouette. She wasn’t nocturnal, so she never joined Shuffle on these evening strolls. She wasn’t invited anyway. Shuffle didn’t like the swan, who had a snooty air about her, as if she were better just because she was taller and could fly. And the swan was very protective of her nest, sitting on it as if it were a throne. If Shuffle got too close, Pirouette would throw a hissy fit. So whenever Pirouette left the dorm room to go for a swim or stretch her wings, Shuffle used the nest as a wastebasket, tossing in peanut shells and corn kernels that had gone stale. And bits of that terrible Farmer-in-the-Dell granola!

  On this night, Shuffle ignored Pirouette’s stare and continued on her journey. Don’t worry. I won’t get near your precious nest, Shuffle thought, sticking her snout in the air as she passed by. The swan hissed quietly, then tucked her shiny black beak under her wing and closed her eyes.

  Around piles of clothing and across the room Shuffle waddled until she reached the dorm room door. When she and Lizzie had moved in, a nice boy named Hunter Huntsman had installed a hedgehog door so Shuffle could come and go as she pleased. All she had to do was push against the flap and slip through.

  The hallway was quiet. Shuffle sat on her haunches for a moment, looking around. One of the other princesses had a snow fox who sometimes prowled at night. As the fox had learned, a hedgehog might look fat and delectable, but getting past all those spines was no fun at all.

  Keeping close to the wall, Shuffle scurried down the hallway, her snout sniffing. Two succulent spiders were ignored, as was a juicy housefly. Forget them. Something better was waiting, and she could smell it. Her little legs picked up their pace as the aroma got closer. Then she threw out her legs and skidded on her belly, stopping right in front of the door of the dorm room that belonged to Ginger Breadhouse. Ginger was the daughter of the Candy Witch, but she was very nice and was known th
roughout the school as a hexcellent cook—masterful in her baking abilities.

  A tiny box sat on the floor. A gift tag was attached. It read: FOR SHUFFLE. DON’T EAT IT ALL AT ONCE.

  Shuffle sat on her bottom and clapped her little paws with glee. A present for her! Ginger liked to make treats for the other students, and she’d bring them back to the dormitory to share. Last week, when Ginger brought hot cross buns, Shuffle had jettisoned herself off a chair and landed smack-dab in the middle of the tray, eating as fast as she could. “Isn’t that cute?” Ginger had said. “She likes my baking.” And so, before going to bed, Ginger began leaving a special hedgehog-sized snack outside her door. What would it be tonight? A cinnamon troll? A caramel castle? A chocolate kiss?

  Using her snout, Shuffle pushed the present on its side. The lid tumbled off. She stuck her head inside the box and grunted happily. A waffle shaped like a throne awaited her, crispy on the outside and doughy everywhere else. Ignoring Ginger’s instructions, Shuffle ate the whole thing. She wanted to curl up and take a nap right there, but if she did, Lizzie might come looking and find out that her hedgehog was being very naughty. So even though her tummy was so full it dragged on the floor, Shuffle waddled back to her own room. She left the box behind, hoping Ginger would fill it with another treat tomorrow night.

  Pirouette raised her long neck and watched as Shuffle pushed back through the hedgehog door. Upon seeing the waffle crumbs that dotted Shuffle’s snout, the swan shook her head disapprovingly. Shuffle grumbled at her, which meant Mind your own business. Too tired to climb back onto Lizzie’s bed, Shuffle burrowed beneath a red scarf on the floor outside Lizzie’s closet. She fell into a deep, satisfied sleep. Her tummy was happy. And so was she.


  Dawn had come, and Pirouette was waiting by the window to be let out. Why did birds have to announce that the sun was rising? Shuffle thought it was very rude. Sometimes she got so mad she’d throw pieces of her granola at Pirouette. But this morning she had no energy. She squirmed, trying to find a more comfortable position beneath the red scarf. She felt very strange.

  “Wait,” Duchess said to her swan. “I got this ribbon for you. It looks beautiful against your white feathers.” Then Shuffle heard the window open and Pirouette’s wings flapping as the swan flew off to find her favorite morning food—the soft spring grass that grew in the school’s garden. Soon after she left, the dormitory filled with the sounds of morning. Lizzie complained as she searched through her closet, trying to find this or that. Duchess’s quill scratched across the pages of her diary. Thumps and muffled voices came from beyond the walls, where the other girls were getting ready for the day.

  But a new sound arose, louder than the others.


  “What in Ever After was that?” Lizzie asked. The sound had been so loud it had bothered Shuffle’s ears. And it was coming from nearby. Rrrrrrumble.

  “It’s under here,” Duchess said as she picked up the red scarf.

  Shuffle opened her eyes and found that both Lizzie and Duchess were leaning over, staring at her. Lizzie’s black hair tumbled around her face in a carefree way, while Duchess’s hair—long, with lavender, white, and black stripes—was perfectly combed and tied back with a strand of pearls.

  The rumble sounded again. What is that? Shuffle wondered. Make it go away.

  “It’s coming from there,” Lizzie said. She poked a fingertip against Shuffle’s bloated belly. Shuffle squeaked and rolled into a ball. Why did her tummy feel sad?

  “Shuffle? What’s the matter with you?” Lizzie knelt and pressed her nose right up against the hedgehog’s snout. “Wait a spell! You smell like sugar!” Lizzie picked a waffle crumb off Shuffle’s face and inspected it. Then she scowled. “You’re in hextreme trouble, young lady. You know you’re not supposed to be sneaking treats.”

  Shuffle moaned. Her belly had never felt so grumpy. It rumbled three times in a row. Maybe she shouldn’t have eaten the entire waffle throne.

  “If she’s sick, she should go see Professor Poppa Bear,” Duchess said. The professor taught the Beast Training and Care class at Ever After High. He had the most experience with the assorted creatures, both magical and nonmagical, that lived at the school. “Maybe he can give her some medicine.”

  Medicine? Never ever! Shuffle curled up as tight as she could and stiffened all her quills.

  “Ouch!” Lizzie cried as she tried to pick her up. “Uncurl yourself right now!”

  No! Shuffle grunted. If they’d leave her alone, she could go back to sleep and dream about happy things, and then her tummy would surely feel better. She’d dream about the green croquet fields of Wonderland. The rows of red and white roses. Her family rooting around the hedge, snuffling up big, fat crumbs.

  A flapping sound filled the room as Pirouette soared back through the window. She landed with a thunk on the bedroom floor.

  “Oh, rabbit pellets!” Lizzie said as she tried, once again, to grab her prickly pet. “You’re being very, very naughty. How am I supposed to carry you to Professor Papa Bear?”

  “How about wearing mittens?” Duchess suggested. “The three little kittens are always leaving theirs behind. I bet there’s a pair in the Lost and Crowned Office.”

  “Hexcellent idea. But where’s the Lost and Crowned Office?”

  “I’ll show you,” Duchess said.

  Lizzie pointed at Pirouette. “Keep an eye on her,” she ordered the swan. “We’ll be right back.”

  The door opened and closed, and the girls’ footsteps faded down the hallway.


  “Honk!” A hard beak pushed against Shuffle’s quills.

  Shuffle lifted her head and opened her eyes. Pirouette stood over her, the lavender ribbon still tied around her neck. What are you looking at? Go away, Shuffle grumbled. She rolled over, but the swan simply walked around to the other side and poked her with her beak again. Shuffle ignored her. The rumbling grew louder. But then a sweet scent drifted up her snout. Pirouette had grabbed a leftover blade of spring grass from her breakfast bowl and had dropped it onto the carpet right next to Shuffle. The swan nudged the grass closer, then nodded.

  Shuffle’s tummy hurt too much to eat anything. She started to curl up again, but Pirouette stomped her webbed feet and honked and honked and honked. It felt like an alarm in Shuffle’s head.

  Okay, okay! I’ll eat it! Just stop making all that noise. Pirouette settled down and watched as Shuffle nibbled the blade. It tasted bitter, but her stomach felt better. The rumbling, however, continued. Shuffle rose to her feet and looked around. There were no more grass blades. She pointed to the window. Go get more. She wiggled her bottom. Then she looked toward the doorway. The girls would be back with the mittens soon. And that meant… medicine!

  Pirouette lowered herself onto her belly and stretched out her left wing. Then she gently tapped her outstretched wing against the floor.

  Shuffle didn’t understand. Why was Pirouette nodding at her? Why was she pointing to her flattened back? Why wouldn’t she go and get more grass? Shuffle winced as a sharp pain filled her tummy. Rrrumble.

  Suddenly, with a swoop of her wing, Pirouette scooped the hedgehog off the carpet. And before Shuffle could squeak for help, the swan was in the air.

  And flying out the window with Shuffle on board!

  Shuffle grabbed the ends of the lavender ribbon, holding on for dear life. The dorm room disappeared, replaced by treetops and clouds. She squeezed her eyes shut. Hedgehog bellies are supposed to be pressed against the ground, not against a bird’s back! But the feathers were surprisingly soft and warm. And the motion was smooth and graceful—until Pirouette landed with such a thunk that Shuffle lost her grip and tumbled into the grass.

  Shuffle was sitting in one of Ever After High’s beautifully landscaped gardens, far below the dormitory balconies. From the hedgehog’s perspective, spring grass grew as far as her little eyes could see. Each blade reached taller than her head and smell
ed crisp and fresh. She nibbled. She munched. She ate until her swollen tummy stopped rumbling. Soon, all the sharp pains stopped and she felt good again. What a relief! She lay on her back, letting the sun warm her belly.

  Pirouette’s beak poked her. There was no time to nap. The swan cocked her head and pointed a wing at the far end of the garden. Shuffle scrambled onto her hind legs and peered over the tops of the grass. Lizzie and Duchess, mittens in hand, were hurrying toward the dormitory. Shuffle knew that if she wasn’t in the room when Lizzie got back, Lizzie would worry about her.

  Pirouette flattened against the ground and stretched out her wing. Shuffle quickly climbed aboard, settling onto the feathers. She gripped the ends of the ribbon, but she didn’t close her eyes. This time she enjoyed the flight. The wind against her quills felt delightful. Far below, the students of Ever After High were going about their morning with no inkling that a hedgehog was flying overhead. Shuffle smiled so big the corners of her mouth started to hurt.

  Through the dormitory window they glided. Pirouette landed atop her nest. She folded her wings and settled in. Shuffle let go of the ribbon. She put her fingers in her ears, expecting the hissy fit to begin as the swan protected her territory. But Pirouette scooted aside, making room for Shuffle’s spiky little body. Shuffle couldn’t believe it. She was sitting in Pirouette’s precious nest. On her throne! She looked into the swan’s black eyes. Without Pirouette’s help, her stomach would still hurt. How can I thank you? Shuffle wondered. Then she looked down and saw what needed to be done. She reached her tiny hands between the reeds where peanut shells and corn kernels had become wedged, plucked them free, and tossed them onto the carpet. The swan nodded.

  “I’m not mad at Ginger. I know she was just being nice,” Lizzie said to Duchess as they hurried into the room. “She didn’t know that Shuffle has a very delicate stomach.”

  “Those waffle thrones are so good I’d keep eating them until my stomach hurt, too,” Duchess said.