The Fairies threw a party, ostensibly to celebrate Petal's return. It took place inside a fine Fairy-ring in a forest glade, and later a couple of hunters swore they came upon a cloud of light that had music coming from it.
Petal put flowers on her face, which she had not done in a very long time, and she even danced with Bloodroot once. In order to keep him from asking her again, she thanked him for the dance. He took great offense, but he did ask her again two and a half minutes later, saying he had forgiven her. Fairies usually take all of four minutes to forgive, as he saw fit to point out to her. She sweetly thanked him for his magnanimity, and he went off once more in a huff.
About three-quarters of the way through the party, a young Fairy named Persimmon intimated to Bittersweet and Butternut that she thought Petal should be their Queen.
“She was married to a Big Person once,” Persimmon said, “and she has traveled far and wide. And she is the prettiest Fairy I ever saw, with hair of three different colors, and she can put a flower on her face...and she can make her eyes change color. I wish I could do that.”
“I think our mother should be Queen,” Bittersweet said. “After all, she did not go away for forty-odd years, and not let anyone know what she was about. She has stayed here, and looked after things. I think she would be an excellent Queen.”
“I heard,” Butternut said, “that there was some fiddle-faddle about a Dark Lord, and a Ring, and a mountain full of fire, and all that. Mum said Petal had aught to do with it.”
“My mum said Petal knew the Ring-bearers,” Persimmon said. “Perhaps she went on the Quest. That is a most Queenly accomplishment, I should say. I think I love her. I should wish to be her lady in waiting...whatever that is. Perhaps she will show me how to put flowers on my face also.”
“Fol-de-rol,” Butternut scoffed. “All will wish our mother to be Queen. After all, she does not go running about after silly Big Folk, with their hairy feet and their pony-shoe-tossing and cups of burning grass in their mouths, and the noises they make when they sleep. Pah! Catch our mum about such nonsense!”
“And I can be my own mother's lady in waiting,” Bittersweet said. “What does a lady in waiting do, anyway?”
“She waits, of course,” Butternut said. “Which I should not care to do, myself. But I still think our mum would make a splendid Queen. And our dad could be King, also. I'm sure he would much enjoy telling everyone what to do.”
“None would do it,” Persimmon giggled.
“They would, and you too,” Butternut said. “He might make you marry me, and you would have to do his bidding.”
“Ugh,” Persimmon said, yet her wings turned just the tiniest bit pink. “I would sooner marry a...a centipede. I think I shall marry a Big Person, just to see what it is like.”
Before anyone could say more, a male Fairy, named Filbert, came to announce that there were two candidates for the position of Fairy Queen, Vervain and Petal, and would they please step forward. Both Fairies of those names looked at each other in astonishment.
“Queen? I?” Petal exclaimed. “No one said aught to me of being Queen.”
“I heard something of it,” Vervain said peering down into the tiny flower full of fizzy nectar that she held. “But I thought it was all in jest.”
“Nay, my lady,” said Filbert. “It has been bandied about, and the folk have chosen the two of you to vie for the position. What have the both of you to say on the subject?”
Petal looked at her friend in some dismay.
“Why, I think Vervain would make a splendid Queen,” she said, although she was thinking to herself that perhaps being Queen would not be a bad idea at all. It would give her something to do, take her mind off her sadness over Frodo's departure. Yet she wanted naught to come between herself and her dearest friend. “She is a splendid mother to her children, a wonderful friend, and a scintillating presence in the vale. No gathering would ever be complete without her. And none can make things grow as she can, nor concoct such delightful drinks.”
“Pish-tosh,” Vervain said. “None asked me if I wished to be Queen. And I don't wish it at all—I haven't time for it. I have a family to think of. And our Petal has traveled far and wide, and she it was who played a part in felling this Dark Lord. She was ancestress to the Ring-bearer, she mothered his line, and she watched over him and helped to make him into what he would become. But for her, who knows what would have happened? Where would we be now? I say no one is more fitted to be our Queen that she, and therefore I withdraw my candidacy, and step down to her.”
And with that, she took Petal by the hand, and drew her to the center of the mushroom on which they had been standing, then leaped off and settled into the glowing throng. And all the Fairies began to cheer, and Filbert grinned, and fluttered his wings a bit, and made a little bow to Petal.
“Dear friends, I...” And she caught herself before she could ruin everything by thanking them for the honor bestowed upon her. “I humbly accept your wishes, and resolve to be the best Queen that I can possibly be. I will do what I can to improve relations between Fairies and Mortals whenever possible...” She paused to consider that there had been little trouble between the two races, other than the occasional drunken hunter stepping on mushrooms, but it sounded good, so she went with it. “I will tighten security so that all Fairy-rings shall be safe from hunterly invasions, and keep our truffle-grounds from the maraudings of those who would get Big Ideas about selling truffles to Big Big Folk in far lands, and rest assured that if the Shadow should fall across our domain...well, he shall bitterly regret it.”
And the Fairies cheered once more, and Persimmon looked in cheeky triumph at Butternut, and just a tad flirtatiously too, but he pretended not to notice, and said to his sister that he thought Petal made a fine Queen after all, and he wondered if she would ever consider him for a mate when he grew older. Vervain cheered the loudest of all.
And the rest of the party lasted a full twelve minutes—a most unprecedented amount of time. Such debauchery, Petal would say afterward, then smile to herself and wonder when they would do it all again.