There's a lovely café facing Central Park.
It's not always open; in fact the owners tend to take lengthy vacations. Locals don't complain too much because when it is open the gourmet offerings are magical. Tourists are the only ones that grumble when passing the darkened windows; the café was probably recommended as having the prettiest, little chef and the most incredible menu.
The locals understand how disappointing it is to make it all the way down to the park only to find that the Fairy Edible Cafe is closed. Most people didn't get the joke until Wolf said the café name in that certain way, making Fairy sound more like very. Even then he'd never explained why they settled on Fairy, or what sort of import that word held in their lives.
The décor was probably proof enough once the customers were inside. Above every table hung a lamp that looked more like a lantern; somewhere on that lantern sat a plastic figurine of a faerie, each one hand carved by one of Tony's goblin friends. They were all unique creatures, so lifelike that customers often touched them just to make sure.
They picked it out together, Virginia and Wolf.
Every stick of furniture was a decision they made as one. The color of the walls, Wendell's favored blue, though Wolf leaned toward forest green at first. The layout of the café: a comfortable sprawl of squishy chairs designed to look like leaves of beanstalks, but thankfully not to smell like them, that was his brilliant idea. As a team, Virginia and Wolf built the Fairy Edible Café to reflect their experience together. Even the music they played out front for customers, soft classical tunes like the sort that would play underneath cartoon adaptations of fairy tales, the sort that would definitely play at Wendell's grand court functions. Each aspect of the café was something they agreed upon together.
In the kitchen though, once Virginia gets cooking, the music playing out back is all her choice. Virginia hums along to a song on the radio. It's a little tuneless, but no one ever complains with the delicious smells pouring out of the kitchen. She has a tendency to listen to classic rock these days, an homage to her dad who's still on the lamb from the law in the 10th Kingdom.
She hasn't seen him since her last visit to the 9 Kingdoms, a few months ago. His newest scheme involved making miniature plastic figurines of all the fabled heroes and heroines of the past. Wendell was pleased with the industrial revolution as it spawned across the fourth kingdom and seeded the neighboring kingdoms, spreading forth in the factories which Tony led proudly.
Virginia brought him many books on industry and particularly books on green industry. She hated to see the rural beauty of the kingdoms ruined by careless placement of factories and poor handling of waste. So far, Tony was doing a fine job as the first captain of industry.
He was happy there, successful in a way he never could be in the 10th Kingdom. Though he didn't get to see his grandchildren as much as he liked, that was his one lament at being exiled from New York City.
Every time Virginia came back to the handsome estate Wendell provided for Tony with a new baby swaddled on her arm his eyes would goggle in his head. "Isn't four grandchildren enough?" he asked at her newest baby, number five.
Wolf was always gleeful at these questions. He didn't need a whole pack as he would brag to Tony, but his little litter was coming along nicely. There was Fox, his pride and joy who took after daddy so much that he was nearly wild, conceived in the woods near Wendell's castle. There was Snow, the beautiful little girl who took after her namesake, a child of exceeding patience and kindness. Then the twins, Wendy and Rose, both spoiled terribly by their great-grandmother; they made Virginia nervous. And the latest baby, Teddy still too young to tell who he'd end up taking after.
Of course, complaints aside, Tony lavishes his affection on the children. He has a bouncing castle for each child to have for themselves and he spends at least an hour jumping joyously in each every time they visit.
Virginia smiles thinking about her little brood hopping around in plastic houses with their cheerfully aging granddad. She's happy that he's finally found a purpose, a place where he belongs.
She can remember him kneeling in an elevator, just like that night when their lives collided with the surreal and Virginia became the heroine in a fairy tale. Looking back on it now it's a happy memory, even if it wasn't at the time.
It's funny, she thinks, that her thoughts always turn to her dad when she's doing menial kitchen chores.
A big bowl sits on her hip and she stirs the batter inside with a private smile on her lips. The special today is a plum pudding she learned from the Lady Rapunzel's daughter on her last visit to the 9 Kingdoms. It's been a smash hit since her return; she couldn't take it off the menu now even if she wanted.
Wolf is out front training their new waitress to work the cash register. Virginia was reluctant at first to let him near their customers given his tendency toward the dramatic and ridiculous, but people seem drawn to him regardless. Wolf has a kind of charm that is simply undeniable.
She knows this to be true firsthand. It's reaffirmed every time he sneaks up behind her and slips an arm around her in the kitchen. He whispers in her ear how much he loves her and she swoons. Virginia Lewis wasn't one for swooning. She's found however, that Mrs. Virginia Wolf is very much a swooner, but only ever for her goofy husband.
Silly to think that swooning is the best reaction to her husband's charm, but there it is. Like everything else in her life now, it feels right. She feels like she's found the place where she belongs too. It doesn't matter how many cockamamie adventures she gets into in the 9 Kingdoms, coming home to the café is like a soothing balm.
Because it's her place, her purpose, at least for now.
Snow White saw a different fate for Virginia, but it's not one she's ready to step into. She's come a long way since her original travels through the 9 Kingdoms. She's mourned the loss of her mother, the wicked Queen Christine. She discovered her inner strength and the bountiful joy of having a family of her own.
Someday, not quite yet, she'll be ready to take up the mantel Snow White set on her shoulders.
Virginia Wolf will be a great guide for troubled girls. She will be a beacon of hope and strength for all the little girls who were once like her, lost and waiting to be found.