“I’ll get it,” cried Edith, running toward the door. She threw it open, still laughing at something Weed said at breakfast. Four of the Queen’s guard stood in front of her. “Yes?” she said.
“We are here for Lilly Moonsong. She is to come with us, by order of the Queen.”
“Thanks for stopping by but we have company so now’s not a good time,” said Edith, slamming the door.
“Who was that?” asked Lilly.
“Some guards. They wanted you to go see the Queen but I told them you were busy.”
Dead silence filled the room. The pounding on the front door began again, only louder. Lilly grabbed her sparkly shawl from its peg and said, “I’ll be back before dinner. Edith and Weed, you’re in charge and don’t forget to put the rabbit outside. She likes to eat the grass and sit in the sun. In case I’m delayed, Weed, take everyone to safety, do you understand?”
“I’m coming with you,” said Edith, pulling a sweater over her head.
“No, you are not,” said Lilly, gently. “Thank you but everything will be fine.”
“I want to come along.”
“You can’t. I have to do this by myself. Now stay here and make sure everything runs smoothly while I’m gone.”
“If you aren’t back before dinner I’m coming to look for you.”
Lilly ran her hand down Edith’s cheek. “I’ll be here. Promise.” Then she opened the door and said, “Colin? You came to get me?”
“I’m in the guard now Lilly,” he whispered. “It was an order.”
“I’ve seen you naked,” she grinned.
“Shhhh,” he whispered, his face beet red. “We were kids and you were naked too. That’s how we went swimming, remember.”
“Oh, I remember,” she chuckled. “Still I never thought you would come here…not like this. And following orders isn’t the right thing to do, Colin. You have to think for yourself. You used to be able to do that.”
“I’m sorry. I really am, but it’s better that it’s me. I can at least protect you from them,” he said, looking over his shoulder.
“Then lead the way.”
Lilly arrived at the palace and was led into the Great Hall. The Queen was seated on her throne, her crown perched on top of her head.
“Your Majesty,” said Lilly. nodding toward her.
“Leave us,” said the Queen, staring at the guards. “I do not wish to be disturbed.”
The guards bowed, turned and marched out of the room. The huge doors shut LOUDLY and then there was nothing but stillness and dust motes floating through the air in the rays of the sun.
“I could kill you right here, right now, and no one would fault me.”
“Go ahead,” said Lilly.
“Even mother would understand.”
“You’ve wanted to kill me since I was born, now’s your chance.”
“Why? Why do you constantly test me?”
“I’ve never tested you, Ivy, not once. I’ve just been my own person.”
“I told you not to call me that. I’m your Queen.”
“I know,” said Lilly.
“What am I supposed to do with you? You do everything wrong. You break every rule. I can’t ignore what you’re doing just because of who you are. You are putting me in a terrible position,” she said, standing up.
“I’m sorry, Ivy,” sighed Lilly, softly. “I can’t ignore the things we are doing any longer. Edith has made me see how cruel we are and I can’t look away. As Queen, it’s up to you to make Fairy a fair and peaceful place, for all who live here, not just for some. We steal children, Ivy. We take them from their rightful parents and give them a child they can never understand or love. We starve and abuse the children we take. It’s wrong and it’s time to do something about it. Let me start a home for the human children.”
“A home? For human children?” said the Queen, horrified.”
“Yes. A home where they can live and be healthy. And there’s one other thing.”
“What is it,” groaned Ivy. “Just say it and get it over with.”
“We want the human children, those who are interested, to be able to find their real parents.”
“Absolutely not,” said the Queen, starting to pace. “That is forbidden. Besides, no one wouldn’t believe that their original child was stolen by fairies.”
“You, my dear sister, are the Queen. Nothing is forbidden if you say that it isn’t.”
“You NEVER change,” she said, stamping her foot, then going back to her throne. She flopped into the chair and stuck out her legs. “It’s not easy being Queen, you know.”
“I know,” said Lilly. “At least I think I do.”
“I can never have any fun, I always have to be dressed and I can’t slouch.”
“And you NEVER come to see me.”
“I thought that’s the way you wanted things to be.”
“Well, you were wrong,” she said, stamping both feet. “I don’t want to kill people and be mean. I wish you had been the first born and then I could have had your life.”
“I didn’t ask to be born second and you can have any life you like.”
“You’re asking me to fly in the face of tradition. Tradition holds societies together, don’t you know that?”
“Traditions can be hateful and cruel, Ivy. Misguided and evil, made up of lies. Traditions put power into the hands of the few who use that power over the many. It’s time to make new traditions. Traditions that are kind and include everyone. We have to stop swapping children with humans. It’s wrong. I want the records of the human parents. I want to give the children a chance to go home.”
“They won’t go for it,” sighed the Queen. Human children are cheap labor. Everything is about economics, Lilly. You should know that by now. Every society holds certain groups back, stops them from being what they can be, from fulling their promise. Those who are used and abused for nefarious purposes. Humans are worse than we are when it comes to hate and discrimination but what does it matter. They’ll burn me, Lilly. They will.”
“Ivy, listen to me. You could be known as the Enlightened Queen. The Queen who stood up to injustice. You could be the one to make Fairy a better place.”
“I don’t know,” said the Queen, taking off her crown. “This thing drives me crazy. I hate wearing things on my head, other than flowers, of course, and I can only do that when I’m alone. And, Lilly, I don’t know how I would go about making the changes you’re asking for.”
“I can help you.”
“How?” asked the Queen. “How could you help me at all?
“Put me on your staff. Put me in charge of the the Department of Human Children. I can find places for them to live and I can write laws, as to how they are to be treated. You won’t have to do anything but okay and enact the things I write.”
“What about Edith?”
“What about her?”
“She’s my niece, you know.”
“Yes, I know.”
“But she doesn’t know that, does she!”
“She does not.”
“I want her to know who I am and I want her to visit me. If you agree to my terms, then you can have what you want.”
“Done!” said Lilly, running to throw her arms around her sister and pinch her ear.”
“I hate it when you do that,” said the Queen, smiling. “It was foretold that someone would change the way we lived. I didn’t know it would be Edith.”
“She’s quite wonderful, you know.”
The Queen smiled. “I could see that. And keep as many kids with you as you like. Tell Steven to lighten up and for heaven’s sake, wear shoes next time you come to Court.”
“I’ll try to remember. Ivy…”
“Come for dinner next week. You can meet the children.”
“I could probably sneak out for a bit,” she said, her eyes suddenly glittering with excitement.
“Do it,” whispered Lilly. “You don’t have to wear shoes when you come to my house.”
“Oh, don’t tease me, please. I long to go barefoot.”
“You can be any kind of Queen you want to be, Ivy. If you don’t want to wear shoes, you don’t have to wear them. It’s all up to you.”
“Human children are rather unattractive. You have to admit that, Lilly They’re so heavy, thick and solid. Not a single one can fly.”
“Stop it,” laughed Lilly. “I know you don’t mean that.”
Ivy grinned at her.
“Why don’t you stop killing people.”
“A lot of fairies won’t like that. We need some kind of order, if we are to have order. but perhaps I can bring them around, if I do is slowly.”
“I miss you,” said Lilly.
“I’m tired,” said Ivy, “and I miss you too but this job seems to take up all my time. And, there’s the whole King thing.”
“You can change that as well. You’re in charge.”
“I’ll do what I can and I’ll be at your house, Tuesday night, as soon as the sun dips behind the horizon.”
“Remember, no shoes.”
“You’re back early,” said Edith, happily. “I guess that means everything went well and you’re not dead, so that’s good.”
“Everything went very well and no, I’m not dead, Love. You can tell that I’m not dead because I’m here talking to you,” she laughed.
“We named the bunny, Bunner. We were going to call her Wolf but there are already two wolves in the back yard, so…”
“What? Wolves, in the yard?” said Lilly, running to the window.
“I wrote them into the yard, just like I wrote them as friends when I lived with the humans. They’re really sweet, Lilly, you’ll love them.”
“I knew she’d be okay with them,” said Edith, happily.
“You see things a lot differently than I do,” sighed Weed.
“EDITH! there are huge wolves in the back yard!” shouted Lilly.
“See, she likes them” said Edith, smiling. “Told you she would.”