Chapter 7: Queen Peony

 

Grandma Lily, Molly and Jenny stood perfectly still as the Queen Fairy approached. Grandma Lily stepped forward and the Queen held out her hand and Grandma Lily kissed it, and Jenny noticed that the Queen’s feet were not quite touching the floor.

‘Your Majesty,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘We are ready.’

‘Thank you, Grand Witch,’ said the Queen.

Then Molly stepped forward and curtsied and then kissed the back of the Queen’s hand: ‘Your Majesty,’ she said, ‘I have brought my Sister-witch Jenny Berry from beyond THE CUPBOARD UNDER THE STAIRS.’

‘Thank you Princess Molly. You have done well,’ said the Queen. Then she turned to Jenny and held out her hand: ‘Greetings, Sister-witch Jenny. I am Queen Peony of the Fairies. We are all very happy to see you.’

Jenny was not really sure what to do, so she curtsied and kissed the Queen’s hand just like Molly had. And Jenny was amazed. As her lips touched the Queen’s delicate skin her head became full of happy thoughts. And she could taste fresh apples and smell sweet garden flowers. Jenny took a step back and then did another curtsey. She wasn’t sure why, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

And, to Jenny’s great surprise, Queen Peony smiled and then curtsied back to her. Then she addressed the Witches: ‘Be seated, My Witches! Grand Witch Lily, please show Princess Molly and her Sister-witch back to their places.’

Then Queen Peony spoke to the air in front of her: ‘And, Fairies, enough of this hiding! There is no time for shyness and trickery. All your magic will be needed to save the Two Worlds. Make yourselves seen!’

And all at once there were Fairies all around them: tiny girls hovering in the air, perhaps six inches high, with wings and dresses that flickered Silver and Blue and Green. They were beautiful. Jenny wanted to reach out and touch one but she knew that wouldn’t be the right thing to do. So she just clasped her hands together and wobbled the way she always did when she was excited.

The Queen sat in her throne at one end of the table and then everyone took their seats and the meeting began. Many of the Witches spoke of the confusion that was spreading through Raggedy Lyme. The Garden of Errors was becoming crowded with mistakes. The Valley of Terrors was becoming so scary that even the Boy Fairies refused to go there. And the TIMEKEEPER was worried that so much time was becoming wasted that there would soon be no normal time left.

‘And no LOST things have been returned since the King locked himself in his chamber,’ said Witch Catkin. ‘I am afraid that the drumming is not helping at all.’

Jenny knew that she had to say something. So she did: ‘Excuse me, Your Majesty,’ she said, ‘but I’m not sure that the drumming is a good idea.’

Everybody looked at Jenny.

Then the Queen spoke: ‘But, Sister-witch Jenny, the King believes that, if he listens to the noise of the drum, it will help him to find his memories.’

‘Well, your Majesty,’ said Jenny, as politely as she could. ‘I think that is because the King’s head is not right and he is thinking the wrong thing. Perhaps everybody is thinking the wrong thing.’

‘But the Knave Prince told him that drumming was the best thing to do,’ said Witch Hazel.

Jenny could see that everybody was watching her and waiting for her reply. A few of the fairies flew closer to her and hovered just above her head. Jenny took a deep breath: ‘But, you see,’ said Jenny, ‘I think that drumming is the very worst thing to do. Grandma Lily, I mean the Grand Witch, often tells me that, if you don’t concentrate, you can more easily forget about things and lose them. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but if there’s a lot of noise going on, I find it very difficult to concentrate. Perhaps the King should stop making all that noise.’

Everyone became quite and then Grandma Lily said: ‘Yes, Jenny, I do remember telling you that. I fear the spell is confusing us all. We must go to the King straight away. We must stop that ridiculous drumming!’

‘But the King is locked in his chamber,’ said Witch Eyebright. ‘We will never be able to get inside.’

Suddenly the Queen got to her feet and her wings flicked wide behind her: ‘Have we forgotten we are Fairies?’ she demanded. ‘It is a simple lock. We can open it with our magic!’

‘But what if the King has placed a spell upon it?’ said Witch Willow.

Grandma Lily jumped to her feet: ‘The King no longer has any spells. They were LOST with his memories. Come Fairies, we must hurry to the King. I think Sister-witch Jenny is right. The drumming must cease!’

The Fairies immediately started to buzz around, collecting themselves into some kind or order. The Queen looked at her Council of Witches: ‘Witch Dewdrop, Witch Cornflower, you must come with us. Grand Witch Lily please escort Sister-witch Jenny and Princess Molly. We must make haste!’

So Grandma Lily, Jenny and Molly hurried after Queen Peony and her two Witches. And a swarm of Fairies hurried all around them, buzzing and chattering in their whispery voices.

Jenny tapped Molly’s arm and whispered: ‘Did Witch Hazel say that The Knave Prince told the King that the drumming would help him remember?’

Molly frowned a little: ‘Yes, Jenny, she did. Why do you ask?’

‘It’s just that … well, who is The Knave Prince?’ asked Jenny trying to piece together the puzzle in her mind.

‘He is the King’s brother, Prince Sorrel. He is the Keeper of all the LOST things and the Guardian of all the errors and terrors. And it is the Knave Prince Sorrel who sends the wasted time to the TIMEKEEPER.’

‘And does the Knave Prince Sorrel live here in the Castle,’ asked Jenny.

‘Oh no,’ said Molly, ‘he lives in the Ebony Palace, on the Far Edge of the Kingdom of Raggedy Lyme.’