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an enchanting afternoon

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“Anne,” hissed Diana as the two girls tromped through the green woods with a picnic basket held between them, “we have to be careful. I don’t want to scare the fairies away this time.”

“We won’t!” said Anne passionately, her look most determined as the two girls made progress. “They know we’re coming, and they know we’re kindred. I’ll bet that they’re just bursting to meet us!”

The two girls cut carefully through the underbrush together, in Diana’s case taking care to avoid catching her dress on the underbrush, in Anne’s case trying to avoid stumbling into any oversized holes. They burst together through the clearing, “The fairy circle’s this way,” said Anne in a stage whisper, giving both girls time to compose themselves before they made contact with their presumable fairy escorts.

The clearing did indeed give way to a circle of brilliant purple flowers, and Diana let out a little gasp of excitement. “It’s a vision!” she whispered.

“Isn’t it?” Anne’s grin was enormous as she led her kindred to the center of the circle. There, they laid out a blanket and knelt quite carefully among the blossoms, the picnic basket between them.

“What should we chant?” Diana whispered.

Naturally, Anne knew. “Oh Queen of the Fairies, hear my call!” she said immediately. “Please grace us with your fair form!”

There was nothing but silence for a long time, and Diana sighed. “Suppose we’ll see her another day.”

Anne shook her head stubbornly. “I know she’s here! I can feel her!”

“Anne, you saw her once in a dream,” Diana said. “Maybe it’s for the best that we don’t. Can’t fairies be terribly jealous?”

“Not this one.” Anne said. “She was kind, and said we would be friends forever – and that I ought to keep up with my writing.”

Diana, as was her wont, agreed to disagree, letting her friend dole out the sandwiches she’d made back home. She had nearly forgotten their purpose in the beautiful sunlit afternoon when she saw something sparkling by Anne’s shoulder. She dropped her sandwich and gasp.

“What?” Anne worried. “Is there something in my hair…” She trailed off then, as the tiny spark of light wove its way between her fingers, coming to light on the tip of her pinkie.

One would have to look very closely at the tiny figure to see its wings, but they were all Anne could notice. “Hello,” she smiled. “We’re meant to be your devoted friends. This is Diana.”

The fairy immediately lighted from the tip of Anne’s finger and then wove its way around Diana’s astonished face. She sat upon the girl’s shoulder and made a soft, high-pitched trilling sound.

“What’s she saying? Diana asked, immediately assuming that Anne knew everything about the tiny being.

“That we have all of the makings of devoted servants,” said Anne. “We just need to keep on with our faithful devotion to friendship.”

“Of course!” Diana agreed. “What else?”

“That we should leave her,” Anne said, reaching into the basket, “a grape.”

“That’s all she wants? Surely she needs something more than that.”

Anne shook her head. “The simplest things are often the best ones, she says.” It was obviously a motto that Anne herself subscribed to.

Diana’s eyes were still saucer wide as she reached into the picnic basket and retrieved a single grape from the inside of the picnic basket. She gently dropped it onto the ground, and the fairy flapped her way over to the grape, her arms wrapping around the fruit, her wings making a soft buzzing sound of approval.

“I would never credit it, unless I was seeing it with my own eyes,” said Diana.

“Neither would I,” Anne said. “I always did hope to see a fairy but I never imagined she would appear in the flesh.”

“Truly?” Diana asked. “You’re the one with the most faith of us all, Anne!”

“There’s a difference, as dear Marilla might say, between hoping and getting.” She bowed to the fairy and plucked a small leaf, reaching for the lemonade they’d brought along and daubing the leaf with the drink before placing it before the fairy. She drank her fill with tiny flurries of happiness.

“I hope she won’t have to leave soon,” Anne said, stretched out on the blanket. “I could watch her forever.”

“So could I,” Diana said, as the faerie started her meal. The two girls watched her in silent contemplation until she alighted from the eaten grape, sitting first on the tip of Diana’s nose, then Anne’s.

They were barely conscious when she flitted off into the sunlight, the sound of her wings lulling the friends into sleep.