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40
The Bridal Sweet

“You should see the place,” Vervain said to her friends Goldenrod and Gooseberry. “I've seen nothing like it, even in rabbit-holes. And she wants to live there? If our Petal were mortal, I should think she'd broken her mind.”

“What's wrong with it?” Goldenrod asked.

“What's RIGHT with it would be a better question,” Vervain grumbled. “Is our Petal an earthworm, to dwell in such a place? We simply must do something. How can we allow our dear friend to be condemned to such miserableness? Her wedding is in several seconds.”

“I'm sure I can fix it nicely,” said a familiar voice nearby, and the three female Fairies turned to see Bloodroot merrily swinging from a milkweed vine above them.

“No one asked you,” Gooseberry put in, “and you would do well to stay out of it. We females can attend to it very nicely, and you would only pull some ridiculous trick.”

“Aye, be off with you,” Vervain said, “before I influence some Mortal to drop a pony-shoe and squash you like the ugly stink-bug you are.”

Secretly she thought him far from ugly, and not at all stinking. But if she let him know it, he would make her life a ceaseless torment for all her days.

“The wedding is in fifteen seconds,” Goldenrod pointed out. “If we don't stop talking and go to work, we will miss it.”

And so they carried out their plan, and made it to the wedding a full seven seconds before it began.

Petal had never looked lovelier, they all agreed. She had put six flowers on each side of her face, and some on her arms, and butterflies of many colors fluttered all about her head, which was covered all over with squigglies, just like the Big Folk had. And she wore a shimmering white gown, an unheard-of innovation among hobbitry, with a web of silver-white lace on her hair, even. And her flower-bunch was huge, with nearly every kind of flower imaginable in it; it looked as though she were carrying a garden in her arms.

And they could see her wings, even if no one else could.

Vervain and Goldenrod and Gooseberry whispered among themselves as they watched. There were some things still needing attending to, they said. And so just after the couple were united, as some strangely dressed Mortals began playing music on some very odd contraptions and the newlyweds danced, the three Fairies excused themselves, saying they would be back in a few seconds.

And when the bridal pair came at last to their smial, they beheld a wondrous sight.

There was an oak tree growing in the midst of the largest room, with fireflies clustering all over, and moonflower vines twining around the trunk, and little birds perched on the branches. Enormous mushrooms stood in a circle all about, with little dishes and bowls of fruit and glasses of juice on them, and vases of flowers. Around each window hung a wreath, crammed with flowers and berries and pinecones and vines, and bunches of grapes. In the kitchen little will-o'-the-wisps bounced and flickered all over, and dishes heaped with cake and berries and nuts and cream and cheeses, and mushrooms and truffles, and several flasks of wine and pots of honey. Butterflies and bees nearly covered the walls.

In the bathing-room, the tub was filled with water on which floated lilies and pads, with frogs sitting on them, and fishes could be seen in the water. Nearby a little waterfall could be seen and heard, with a small rainbow shining over it. The water ran into a large copper kettle, but it did not overflow. Flowering vines grew all over the ceiling, with wisteria and moonflowers and clematis and roses dangling from them, some of them falling into the water and floating on the surface.

And in the bedroom...the bed was heaped with flowers, and birds of many sorts, all singing and cooing and twittering, and there were little fruit-trees all about, abounding with more fireflies, butterflies, dragonflies, caddis flies, and crickets, all making quite a noise. Rabbits and fawns and squirrels frisked about, while a snake twined itself around one of the trees, flicking its tongue in and out.

And a great many Fairies flitted here and there like little luminous bubbles, rising and falling and bouncing and swaying as if in a trickling streamlet.

And stalactites, just like in a cave, hung from the rafters, glittering in the soft light of many candles as though all the diamonds in the world had met in one place.

Petal smiled in amazed delight, while her bridegroom was stunned speechless, just looking all about.

“My friends went all out,” she said softly. “I am almost inclined to thank them.”

Her husband finally found his voice, saying, “How did they get all this in here?”

“Why, they sang it in, of course.”

“Oh...of course. Well. It was very nice of them, but still...”

Petal laughed. “It will go away in a few days,” she said. “It would be lovely if it would last much longer. But what would your mother say?”

And then he laughed too. His mother was staying with his older brother for a few weeks so the bridal couple could have their privacy.

“Let us bring her in now, before she goes,” he said. “She should not miss this for anything. She will be talking about it for the rest of her life.”

“Let's bring her tomorrow,” Petal said turning to her new husband. “I am longing to be 'brided' right now. While everything is fresh and shining and new.”

And as she raised her lips to his and twined her arms about his neck so he could smell her unnameable perfume, he could scarcely find it in his heart to refuse her wish.



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