Once upon a time, there was a boy by the name of Louis. He saw the world not always as it was, but as it could be, with just a little bit of magic. To his mother and father, he was a prince. True, he had neither a title nor crown nor a splendid castle. But he was the ruler of their own little kingdom, whose boundaries enclosed the house and meadow at the edge of the forest and where his family had lived for generations, along with Mr. Goose and the entire animal family. He was a bright little boy, and the beauty of his mother reflected in him more and more throughout the years. Louis had a heart of gold, and the stars in his eyes made him look like an angel on earth. His politeness and cheerfulness made him radiate, and every day one could hear the heart-warming laughter coming through the house and the garden. Each one of the servants loved the little one almost as much as his parents did.
"Hello there! Tell me, what are you doing? Please let the little one share, too! We do not want you to get a stomach-ache!" The little ray of sunshine chuckled as he hopped with a basket of willow branches through the accumulation of chickens and geese and happily scattered the small grains. His caramel-brown hair shone in the sun and the simple blue dress, which he wore over white tights, matched perfectly with his eyes, and was one of his favourites. He looked around and laughed happily when he saw the three little mice hiding in the grass.
"Oh no, no Niall, you're not a garden mouse!" He puts his hands gently in front of the bright brown mouse and let them jump into his little hands. "And you can’t plaster the food of Mr. Goose!" Louis chuckled again and gently stroked the little creature’s head. "You're going to get hurt out here. Isn’t that right, Mommy?" Louis looked up from the little mouse and looked at the beautiful woman who was sitting in a chair, reading her book, and watching her son with a happy smile. The little boy moved closer to her with his favourite mouse.
"Do you still believe that the animals can understand you?" Johannah asked, and closed her book to support herself with her elbows. She looked into her son's little hands and smiled at the mouse. Louis looked at her in surprise and his small eyebrows raised in wonderment.
"Can’t they, mother?"
"Oh yes, I firmly believe that animals can listen and speak to us, if we only have the ear for it. That's how we learn to take care of them." Louis began to shine, and Niall squeaked in approval in his hands.
"And who takes care of us?" Asked the seven-year-old.
"The good fairies, my sweetheart, take care of us," his mother explained to him.
"Do you believe in them? The good fairies?" The little mouse curiously ran up Louis' arm and sat like a king on his throne on the boy's shoulder. The beautiful woman in her flowered dress raised her hand and pulled a strand of hair from Louis' face to see her son's bright eyes flash. She could not believe her happiness, which was given to her with the birth of her wonderful child. With each passing day, the nature around their house seemed to shine even more, especially when Louis spread his lovely energy. All sorts of animals lived on their property and in harmony with their small family. Louis often had small tea parties with them. He sat at his little table in the middle of the blooming meadow and wildflowers, eagerly telling the mouse, the goose, the rabbits, and the other fascinating animals that joined him about his day and his dreams. Johannah enjoyed watching Louis do it, and when her husband joined her and pressed a loving kiss on her cheek, she felt like the luckiest human on earth. It was these moments that gave her strength and courage again and again.
"Of course, I believe in all of these things!" Johannah smiled warmly at Louis, took his soft hands in her own, and squeezed them tight.
"Then I believe in all these things, too!" Exclaimed the little impassive figure enthusiastically. Little crinkles formed around his eyes, and more than boundless love crept through his mother's body.
They both looked in the direction of the rose arch at the entrance to their little kingdom when bells could be heard from carriages. The footsteps of the horses penetrated them, and Louis excitedly pulled his hands from his mother's larger ones and ran in the direction of the noise. Butterflies and bees flew around him and accompanied him just as curiously to the gate.
"Papi!" The little boy exclaimed when he saw his father coming on the carriage and waved his arms wildly. Louis' father was a merchant who travelled a lot and brought gifts from all of the countries of their kingdom.
"Louis! Where are my charming angels! My beautiful angels!" Shouted the man. Johannah stood up with a big smile, and went to the entrance of their beautiful house. The path to the gate formed a circle around a beautifully decorated fountain, which was next to the house. Clear water splashed in a beautiful arc out of the four swans, which were placed as stone sculptures on a pedestal in the middle of the water and landed in the basin, in which small water lilies swam around.
"Where are my darlings!" Exclaimed Louis' father again. Cheerfully, Louis ran after the horses and carriages as they drove past him and around the fountain. Louis missed his father terribly when he was away, but he knew that he would always come back.
When the carriages finally stopped, the man jumped down and immediately received his radiant star in his arms. "There you are," the man laughed as Louis clung to his father like a monkey. "Welcome home," he smiled, and his father kissed the cheek of his angel. "Yes, I’m home," he whispered softly, turning a few times with his lovely son in his arms before dropping him off at the edge of the fountain. A man who travels around the world with Louis' father slipped past him and put a small box in his father's hands. Grinning, Louis's father hid the box behind his back, while the smaller one curiously leaned forward to catch a closer look.
"What- What is that?" Louis asked his father. He watched as he pulled the schattule out behind his back. "Oh, that? I found that in the forest when I saved the life of a haunted fairy. I think there might be something inside," he told his son. Louis fidgeted restlessly on the edge of the fountain before his father put the little red and orange box in his hands. He grinned excitedly. He loved it when his father brought him gifts from his travels. He always found the best gifts, and the boy held each one deep in his heart.
The casket was closed with a ribbon at the top and golden threads ran in a pattern through the red and orange colours. When Louis gently untied the ribbon and opened the folded box, a small rosette of water lilies stretched out and a small blue-green butterfly sat enthroned with a thin stick in the middle of it. Excited, the young boy looked at the folded animal and then up to his father.
"He is beautiful," whispered Louis. His father watched as the animal fluttered in the light breeze.
"In French, you say, un papillon.”
"Un papillon!" Repeated Louis, fascinated. He tapped the butterfly, laughing.
"Tout aussi bien fait! Puis-je vous inviter à une danse?“ His father continued in French.
"Bien sûr, mon seigneur," Louis laughed in shaky French.
Louis' father took his son's little hands into his own and Louis placed his feet, which were hidden in blue ballerina shoes, on his father's boots. They laughed and danced - or better said - hopped in circles towards the small staircase, in front of the front door. It seemed like the birds around them were singing a little song to their little dance. When Louis jumped down from his father's feet and ran enthusiastically back to the folded waterlily, Louis' father dedicated himself to his wife who, with a happy smile, had observed her two treasures.
"My beautiful wife," the man mumbled with love, and pressed a gentle kiss to her lips. The woman smiled and hugged her husband. She missed her husband as much as her son did, and was always happy to welcome him home safe and sound. She coughed briefly before they broke and with a slight wave of her hand waved her husband's worried look away.
"Look mum! Un papillon!" Louis beamed, holding up the butterfly, full of enthusiasm.
"He's adorable, my darling," she smiled. Louis’ rosy cheeks puffed up as he smiled again and ran with the gift towards the garden to find his favourite little mouse.
"Niall! Niall! Look!" He exclaimed, and almost threw himself on his knees when he saw the light brown mouse with the white spots sitting on a tree stump. He set the unfolded casket next to the animal and began to narrate, while Niall sniffed the item. "Dad brought me that! He says a fairy gave him that after he saved her; they are probably really looking after us! I am so glad that he is back, and mum can finally breathe again; she also missed him so much. She does not say it, but I know it. I hope dad stays home longer this time,” he babbled. The mouse listened intently.
"Come, let's look for Mr. Rabbit!" Louis finally decided. He carefully placed the enthusiastically nodding mouse on his dainty shoulder, and ran with the small box in the direction of the forest.
Lovingly, his parents looked after him, who held each other in their arms and had watched their treasure with the greatest happiness in their hearts. "I missed you both so much,'' the man sighed. Johannah turned to him, smiling, before she had to cough again, and answered, "We did too, so much."
--- Gently and thoughtfully, the dimmed light of the candles shone through the room, enveloping the two figures. Louis lay wrapped in his blanket in his bed and listened to his mother's soft voice as she sang for him, sending him reassuringly to sleep. "... lavender's green, dilly dilly, lavender's blue, if you love me, dilly dilly, I will love you. When I'm king, dilly dilly-"
Johannah's bright voice penetrated the room, and softly she moved away from Louis’ bed, whose eyes were already closed. "You shall be Queen," he sang the last sentence quietly together with her before his mother closed the door and let him find his way into the land of dreams. Louis' father received his wife with a gentle smile, put a hand around her waist, and drew small circles on the flower-embroidered dress. They took a couple of steps together, but Johannah stopped abruptly, grabbing her forehead with one hand, before collapsing with one last look, frightening her husband, who just managed to catch her. The servants rushed to the rescue without hesitation and sent out to call a doctor.
Louis kept slipping out of his shoes nervously and back in again as he waited outside the door to his father's study room. He had laid his head on one of his thin arms that lay on the table, watching his other hand as it drew small circles on the wooden table. He did not want to look up. Feeling all of the pathetic glances thrown his way was enough. Niall had made himself comfortable on the table. He did not like this sad and silent version of his friend.
The door next to them opened with a faint creak, breaking the cold silence that surrounded the otherwise beaming house. Out of it came Louis' father and the doctor who had grabbed his black leather bag. "I'm so sorry sir, but-" Louis's father forced a weary smile as he interrupted the doctor. "Thank you," he said, pointing his hand toward the front door, "you did what you could." One of the attendants stepped forward, took the doctor's bag out of his hand, and escorted him outside to his carriage. The older man could not help but turn around one last time and give the boy a compassionate look. His father noticed this and looked at his son, who had lifted his head and looked intently to him. The merchant breathed in, gathering strength, before trying to give his son the sincerest smile he could muster while stretching out his hand towards the small boy. Louis took it as his heart quietly began beating faster and faster. Niall hopped quickly onto the boys’ shoulder before Louis was out of reach.
He did not know what to expect when he stepped into his father's study room, but seeing his mother lie pale and wrapped in a blanket on a couch had not been one of the options in his mind. Carefully, he released his father's hand and stepped toward his mother, who had sat up with the last of her strength when she heard Louis enter the room. Louis' otherwise cheerful eyes swelled with tears, so he did not notice Niall leaping onto his father's desk and watching everything from the side with a sad expression.
When Louis stood at the edge of the sofa, his mother looked up.
"Louis, my darling. I want to tell you a secret. A secret that will accompany and guide you through all situations in life. Always remember: be kind and have courage. You have more kindness in your little finger than most people in their entire body, and this has power,” Johannah took a quick breath before she reached for her son's trembling hand, "and magic. "
"Magic?" Louis repeated.
"Truly. Have courage and be kind. Can you promise me that, darling? "
"I promise," Louis managed to say.
"Good, good,” Johanna breathed again and looked with tears in her eyes to her husband, who could not stop the tears himself, and stepped forward. She looked back quickly into the beautiful face of her child.
"I have to leave soon my love, I'm so sorry, please forgive me," Johannah said in a shaky voice. A touch of panic swung along with it, and despite the strong heart of the boy, Louis also burst into tears.
"Of course I forgive you, Mommy!" He sobbed, throwing himself into his mother's warm arms and pressing his face into her trembling chest. He noticed how his father put one arm around him and the other around his mother. The walls literally soaked up the little family's weeping sobs and made the house fade a bit more.
"I love you, I love you both so much," repeated the terminally ill woman like a mantra and clung with her last power not to her life, but clinging to the two people who have made her life to one.
They may be the happiest family and loved each other more than the stars loved the moon, yet sorrow overcomes every kingdom, even the happiest ones, and so also Louis’.