“I just love weddings, don’t you?”
Griselda smiled wide and toothy at the Elf in front of her, which he returned, though his big brown eyes hadn’t left her back. A small crease crept onto his brow as he replied. “Yeah, they’re the best. I know everyone’s been really looking forward to this one… “
His voice faltered, and then his curiosity broke through. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but…are your wings okay? I mean, I don’t really know much about these things since I’m an Elf, but I’m friends with some fairies and I thought your wings were usually a bit more, uh, alive –“
Griselda tutted. “Not polite to be eyein’ me like that, honey.”
The little fellow immediately flinched, a genuine dismay and embarrassment to his features. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to – I wasn’t trying to be rude, but…you’re not like any Fairy I’ve seen before –“
“And that’s a bad thing?” Griselda surveyed his frantically increasing turmoil before letting out a warm guffaw, clapping him on the shoulder. “Aw, honey-dew, it’s fine. Different ain’t nothin’ bad, and I know for a fact that there ain’t no Fairy like me! That ain’t gonna stop me from enjoying this wedding though!”
And she had every intention of enjoying herself. Thankfully her son’s silly ban on Love hadn’t meant that weddings couldn’t take place in the Forest, but now they lacked the sweet flamboyance and flair and sheer romance that Griselda so adored, reduced to a simple pact made between two parties. Fairies knew how to do the frills and thrills.
She now gazed happily at the garlands of bluebells and lilies of the valley and buttercups that wove across the pavilion, criss-crossing in a gorgeous design over the enormous spread of food and refreshments that would be served to the guests after the ceremony.
Griselda had already taken about a platter’s worth and was now munching on a dainty little tart that nonetheless packed a surprising punch of flavor. Technically she wasn’t an official guest, so she didn’t have to wait. Besides, Fairy food was normally so pale in flavor that a Goblin had to go by quantity over quality –
The little Elf grinned back at her, though he was eyeing her hand - three fingered to his four, neither like the usual five fingers fairies had – as it lay on his shoulder, and his eyes once more flitted to the large purple petals that hung from her back, lovely but listless. “Um, yeah, everyone has been wondering about you – not that that’s a bad thing!” He added hastily. “I mean, heck, Marianne will probably be thrilled to meet you, she likes that kind of stuff, y’know? Things that are, uh, different –“
Griselda warmly patted his shoulder once more, refusing to be troubled by the fact that people were becoming more aware of her presence. “Sounds like my kind of Princess.” And Boggy’s. Pity that her son was so mired in pain and sheer stubbornness that he had no interest in fraternizing with the Fairy Kingdom. The more she heard about the bride-to-be, the more she thought they would get along swimmingly –
The Elf smiled, any remaining curiosity and unease getting washed away by enthusiastic warmth. “She’s pretty great. We’re all super happy for her.” He sidled closer to Griselda confidingly. “I’m a friend with her sister, actually. Everyone thinks that it’s not right for an Elf and a Fairy to hang out, never mind that I’m a commoner and she’s a princess. But Marianne’s always looked out for me and Dawn.” He looked over to the large boulder where the Fairy Palace was housed, his smile full of affection and anticipation. “She deserves this, being happy. I know for a while some of us were worried that she would never find a guy like Roland–“
Griselda tilted her head curiously, hoping that the flowers in her headband didn’t dislodge and uncover the stubs of her horns. “Why’s that? Is she picky when it comes to love?”
“Nah, not at all! Marianne’s got to be one of the most open people I’ve ever known!” The Elf then ducked his head a bit, looking a tiny bit nervous. “It’s just…well, like I said, she likes different things. And she is, kind of…different, for a Fairy. They’re supposed to be demure and graceful, and she’s kind of clumsy and likes to talk about going on adventures –“
Griselda tutted once more, waggling her head. “Nothing wrong with any of that!”
“I agree!” The Elf then looked back at the Palace, his eyes getting a bit pensive. “But…I don’t know, it throws people off sometimes. So when Roland started courting her, we were all relieved –“
“This Roland guy must be something else,” Griselda said, grabbing a little flute of berry juice from a passing tray and slurping it down.
“He’s definitely something,” The Elf agreed. “Really handsome. I’ve never really talked to him, but Dawn says Marianne is always swooning over him –“
Griselda chuckled. “And he’s always swooning over her, right?” Sweet little lovebirds.
The Elf faltered. “Uh, well…I guess he does. Like I said, I haven’t really talked to him, but whenever I see him, he seems…y’know, happy to be with Marianne. So, that’s good –“
Griselda finished off her drink and pursed her lips. That didn’t sound like swooning to her. One had to be equals in a marriage for it to work out. She shook her head. Just enjoy the wedding.
She set down her flute and started making her way more into the Fields, wriggling her fingers at the Elf. “Well, I best find him and give him my congratulations!”
The Elf looked alarmed. “Um, isn’t it bad luck for someone to see the groom before the wedding-?”
Griselda cackled warmly. “Only the bride, sweet-pea! I better find her too, she’s probably in a proper flutter -”
And with that, she was off, meandering through the tall grasses and plants of the Fields, a hum on her lips and joyful excitement in her beady eyes.
Sunny watched her go, his brow creasing once again. Wouldn’t it be easier for her to find Roland by flying…?
Her false wings dragged across pebbles and dirt as Griselda stamped across the ground, no trace of her previous eager happiness on her wide face. Her heart burned with disgust. That scummy little twit, seeing another girl on the side -!
Griselda let out a harsh little noise. Not only was she robbed of a wonderful wedding, but the poor princess was gonna have her heart broken by that jerk. Well, not if Griselda could help it. She had witnessed enough heartbreak to last her a lifetime, and if she could save someone from going through the pain that her boy had been put through, she would do it, be they Goblin or Fairy, Princess or Commoner –
A happy giggle broke through her angry determination, and Griselda looked up sharply at the sky, squinting in the deluge of sunlight. Her eyes widened as she took in a Fairy maiden, twirling and diving in the sky, flitting from flower to flower in rapturous happiness.
She was gowned in a white dress that appeared to have been at one point pristine, her wings fluttering iridescent and purple in the light. A glow of joy seemed to suffuse her, and Griselda knew instantly that this was the eager young bride-to-be. Who’s gonna have her heart broken by that louse.
Griselda squared her shoulders, knowing what she had to do. “HEY THERE, HONEY! YOO-HOO!”
The young Fairy started and tumbled into a flower with a yelp of surprise. Griselda winced. That Elf hadn’t been joking about the clumsy thing, had he?
There was a bout of coughing and the Fairy poked her head over the bloom, pollen now dusting her brow, but she immediately brightened when she saw Griselda. “Hey there! Um, sorry about that, I was just getting stuff for the wedding and I didn’t see you there –“
Griselda’s heart gave a twist at that, but she couldn’t stop the genuine smile that blossomed across her lips at the Fairy’s friendliness and the endearing way her words tumbled one right after the other. Griselda reckoned she was quite a beauty by Fairy standards as well. Cute little bug, any guy would be lucky to have her.
And here she was, about to get married to that maggot –
At that thought, Griselda gave her a bright, beaming smile and waved her down to her. “If ya got a moment, sweetie, would ya mind indulging an old Gob-er, Fairy and have a chat with her? I know yer busy with all the wedding stuff –“
But the Fairy rolled her eyes and waved her hand carelessly. “Oh, it’s fine! I can always get ready later!” She flitted down from her flower and landed with soft thump at Griselda’s side, her eyes wide and sparkling with eagerness and curiosity as she took in Griselda short stature and dragging wings. “I heard from some of the courtiers that there was a guest that was kind of different from the usual Fairy.” She stuck out a gloved hand, the purity of the white marred with dirt and stained with petal juices, but her smile was sweet and sincere. “I’m guessing that’s you. I’m Marianne.”
Griselda warmly returned the handshake, impressed by the girl’s willingness to meet with a complete stranger. There had always been the expectation amongst goblins that Fairy Royals were kind of snobs. But this girl’s warmth was informal and genuine, and the little Gobliness was torn between immediately liking her and mourning that such a sweetie had been so bamboozled by that cheating jerk. “Good to meet ya, honey. I was just popping by and heard that the Kingdom was having a wedding –“
Marianne giggled and ran a hand through her hair, her eyes alight. “I can’t believe it’s finally happening! I just – god, I’m so lucky, you know?” She glanced down at her dress and made a tiny noise of dismay. “Ah, man, I’m a total mess. I should probably get cleaned up before the ceremony, I want everything to be perfect for Roland –“
“Riiight, Roland…” Griselda said, her warmth waning a bit. She gnawed on a knuckle, not sure how to proceed. Goblins had never had a delicate touch, and she knew that many – Boggy – saw her as being exceptionally blunt. “Well, honey…it shouldn’t matter if it’s perfect or not for him, y’know?”
Marianne laughed, warm and happy. “I don’t mind trying to make things perfect for him! That’s what you do when you love someone!”
No, what you do is accept someone for who they are and don’t have a hussy on the side. Griselda desperately tried to keep her smile on. “Well, sure, making things nice for someone is swell, but-“
“And Roland’s so perfect anyways, it’s only what’s right,” Marianne sighed, her eyes soft and dreamy and so full of sweet love that it made Griselda almost want to cry. “I can’t believe I’m so lucky, that someone like him wants someone like me –“
Griselda gave a snort. “Ya sure he feels the same way about you?”
Marianne blinked at her, thrown out of her happy musings. “What?”
Griselda sighed, knowing she had to be careful. “Sweetie…look, I know ya don’t know me, but let ask ya this…do you love him?”
Marianne looked a little offended. “With all my heart and soul!”
“And does he love you just as much?”
The Fairy immediately faltered in a way that made Griselda praise the heavens. If there was even the slightest little seed of doubt in the girl, then there was a chance that she could be saved.
“I…well, I mean…he says he does! And I love him, truly I do!” Marianne tossed her head and sighed, lapsing back into her former bliss. “I’m so lucky–“
“Ya keep sayin’ that!” Griselda pointed a finger at her. “But love shouldn’t be about luck! Honey…” She sighed and gave the Fairy Princess a frank look. “Let me give ya some motherly advice – when someone loves ya, it shouldn’t feel like they’re doin’ ya a favor.”
Marianne blinked at her, and the warm dizzy glow of happiness to her gaze melted a bit to reveal a deep well of worry that Griselda had a feeling had been festering this whole time. Dang it, if someone had actually been paying attention and talked with this girl, this could have been avoided –
But then Marianne shook her head and gave Griselda a bright smile. “Look, I’m – I’m very touched that you’re so concerned for me, but – I can take care of myself! And I love Roland! We’re gonna rule this Kingdom together, and we’re gonna have amazing adventures, and we’re gonna be so happy, and everything will be perfect –“ She gave a sudden wail. “OH MY GOD, HIS BOUTONNIERE! I WAS SO FOCUSED ON MY BOUQUET I FORGOT ABOUT HIS BOUTONNIERE!”
She took off into the sky, the draft of her wings sending Griselda tumbling to the ground with a thump. The bride-to-be spared her one last wave. “I’m really sorry, but I’ve got to go! I need to make sure it’s absolutely perfect! I’ll see you at the wedding!”
And with that she was off, swooping and skimming over flowers, merrily jumping from blossom to blossom, humming and singing her heart out.
Griselda watched her go, before wearily tugging her fake wings away, letting them drift to the floor. “I doubt that, sweetie…” she muttered, before wearily turning to the Forest and trudging back to it.
If there was indeed going to be a wedding today…it wasn’t one she would witness.
“I just love weddings, don’t you?”
Plum nodded, positively shimmering with emotion, her voice getting a faint warble. “Oh yes! Oh, they’re almost as good as making the Potion - !”
“Guys, chill,” Marianne laughed, adjusting the crown of forget-me-not’s and tiny pansies on her brow. “No tears on wedding days, okay? Once was enough for me.”
Griselda snuffled into her skirt and wanted to retort that despite her words, the Eldest Fairy Princess was looking a bit damp around the eyes. But she was too damn happy - after all those years of wedding crashing, here she was, an official guest at a royal wedding…!
Marianne smoothed the skirt of her dress and fiddled with her bouquet, her cheeks flushed, her eyes starry. Griselda felt a swell of nostalgia crest in her. She remembered seeing the same Fairy Princess with the same happiness sparkling in her eyes, all those years ago. Only now…only now, it was right.
“Ya look gorgeous,” Griselda assured her, reading her like a book. And truly, she was a sight, the soft gold of her dress bringing out the amber of her eyes and the sheen of her hair. Colors had always set off Marianne’s beauty. So much more than that white gown. “Ya always do, sweetie. Boggy’s gonna flip when he sees ya.”
Marianne snorted, batting at a loose bloom that dangled from her crown. “I hope not, he was already about to molt from sheer nerves –“
“Fairy events make him nervous,” Griselda rolled her eyes. It was a trait he certainly hadn’t inherited from her. “Weddings even more so.”
“That makes two of us,” Marianne muttered, and Griselda squelched a smile. Despite her grumblings, she knew that the Fairy was just as excited as her boy was that this day had finally come.
Marianne tugged at her dress once more before shooting Griselda a nervous look. “Do I really look okay? I want this to be perfect for–“
“Perfect doesn’t matter when it comes to Love,” Griselda soothed, patting Marianne’s hand, ruffling the petals of her bouquet. “Never has, never will. And you’re the most beautiful maid of honor I’ve ever seen, dear.”
Marianne gave a slight smile that threatened to bloom into an ecstatic grin, excitement and love and happiness in every line of her face. “Think Dawn will be proud of me?”
“Your sister is lucky to have you, my sweet little toadstool,” Griselda vowed, straightening her own dress. My boy is too, and one day I know I’m gonna get to witness another royal wedding…
Marianne’s laughter this time was soft and teasing. “I remember someone saying that love shouldn’t be about luck…”
Griselda froze before looking up at her, beady eyes wide. She…
Marianne smiled and shrugged a shoulder, her eyes soft and warm as she looked at the little Gobliness. “Guess that stuck with me, even after everything…”
In one of the rare moments of her life, Griselda found that she couldn’t speak.
A chime of music was sounded, and Marianne squared her shoulders. “Right, that’s our cue. Let’s get this over with.” The words were cynical; the tone was anything but, full of the joy and pride of a big sister. “Dawn and Sunny finally get to make good on that childhood promise.”
She started down the gravel path, and Griselda followed after her, managing her dress quite well. She gave Marianne a shrewd look. “So do I need to worry about getting in trouble for trespassing between the Border -?”
Marianne waved an unconcerned hand. “Nah, it’s no big deal. Sunny’s just glad that you’re not wearing those awful fake wings to his wedding –“
Griselda have an offended squawk, and Marianne’s laughter echoed up to the soft blue sky of the dawn.