Princess Claire loved springtime in Larkspur! Finally, the bitter cold winds and silvery snow gave way to fields of blooming flowers, a rainbow bursting from the fertile soil! The delicious warm breeze, carrying the honeyed fragrance of lilacs in bloom, tickled Claire’s cheeks and danced with her hair.
The bluebirds twittered hello on this first day of May.
Hello to you too!” Claire called to them as they frolicked over the sparkling dew drenched fields outside her window. Claire adjusted the crown of bluebells and lavender that adorned her long pale hair, and twirled in front of her mirror. Her dress reminded her of the bluebirds with its sky blue sheath and sheer white overlay that fluttered in the breeze.
Claire skipped down to the dining hall, excited to see her mother and father, and Luminara. The royal family adored May Day, and the day’s festivities filled Claire with anticipation and delight.
“Happy May Day, Little Light!” Luminara was dressed in all white with a crown of fresh roses and daisies adorning her coppery hair. She was alone at the breakfast table.
“Happy May Day! Where are Mother and Father?”
“They were up at the break of dawn and off to oversee the preparations for the festival. Father wanted to make sure that the May Pole was at least fifteen feet tall. And Mother wanted to help with the flower garlands. Have you a May Day Basket to deliver this year, Little Light?” Luminara teased.
It was tradition for young girls and boys to secretly deliver a basket filled with flowers and treats to someone they admired.
“Don’t be silly! Who would I deliver a basket to?”
“Oh, I don’t know; maybe a sweet, quiet, brown-eyed boy who seems to spend more time at the castle than his twin brother.”
“Thomas? I…well…that is just…”
“Exactly. I could help you make a basket if you’d like.”
“Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. Thomas is my friend.”
“Suit yourself. I must run then; the dancers are having one last rehearsal and I’d like to be there.” Luminara drifted off, so light on her feet they seemed not to be touching the floor at all.
Claire quickly ate her breakfast and rushed out to be a part of the May Day festivities.
“Oh, Jewel!” Jewel’s May Day costume took Claire’s breath away! “You look like a real spring meadow fairy!” Claire knew that the stories of meadow fairies were just that—stories. But that never kept her from wishing, just once, that she would catch sight of one. Today she felt as though she had! Her friend’s wildly curly red hair looked like flaming, spiraling ribbons touched with glittery fairy dust. The flowers around her head were the colors of a sunset, an array of crimson, persimmon, violet and blushing pink. Her pixie-ish dress was pink and green, and her tiny feet were bare.
“You look magical too, Claire! Of course, you always look magical, so…”
Jewel was right. Claire couldn’t help the fact that she beamed with Areli Light; it infused her skin with a glow that she was learning to control, but was always there.
“Come on!” Jewel grabbed Claire’s hand and tugged. “Let’s go find Thomas and Bradley. I think I saw them by the archery booth.”
Claire so wished that Luminara hadn’t said anything about Thomas and a May Day Basket! She kept imagining now what she would put into it. Flowers, of course. But she would mostly fill it with treats, sweet delectable treats from the castle’s kitchen. Cook created the most amazing pastries, candies and crèmes! No doubt Bradley would try to steal it all, so she’d have to fill it to the brim.
“There they are! Bradley! Thomas!”
The boys came running at the sight of their friends. Bradley seemed more jittery than usual.
“You’ve had too many cotton candies, Bradley, and it’s still early,” Jewel scolded.
“Haven’t had too many!” Behind him, Thomas was nodding his head and holding up six fingers.
“You’ll turn into a blob of pink sugar if we don’t get something else in you!” What a sight, seeing tiny fairy-clad Jewel tugging the long-limbed Bradley toward the bread and cheese stand, and he allowing it!
“You look pretty,” Thomas said to Claire as they walked side by side a few paces behind Bradley and Jewel.
“Thank you,” Claire said in a tiny voice that barely touched the air beyond her lips. She risked a glance at Thomas, afraid of meeting his eyes. “What are you wearing?” She hadn’t even noticed his get-up before, she had been trying so hard not to look at him.
“I know, it’s ridiculous. I’m a bluebird.” Thomas was wearing all blue, his shirt covered in blue feathers. His cap had what looked to be a sharp gray beak poking out from the front. “My mom made it.”
“And why isn’t Bradley equally outfitted?”
“Oh, well, you know. He has a backbone.”
“You have a backbone! It’s just covered in feathers at the moment.” Claire couldn’t help but smile. Thomas obviously didn’t want to hurt his mother’s feelings. Luminara was right; he was sweet.
“Ha ha. It’s not so bad I guess. You kinda look like a bluebird too. Maybe I should stay next to you all day, then people will think we planned it. Dressing up to escort the princess is a much better excuse than not wanting to hear my mother whine.”
Just then a scream rang through the village, one long tortured scream. Claire and Thomas looked about frantically trying to figure out where it had come from.
A young girl had fallen from her horse and was being dragged out to the fields, her foot caught in the stirrup. Thomas didn’t waste a second; he grabbed Claire’s hand and raced toward the horse.
“Thomas! What are you doing!”
“Hurry, Claire! We need Dillon!”
Claire’s horse was known to all in Larkspur. Without him, the king, the queen, and the princess would still be trapped in the Murky Realm.
“Dillon!” Claire shouted, hoping her voice would carry above the uproar around them.
True to his nature, Dillon appeared instantly and Thomas jumped onto his back with ease, then reached down and pulled Claire behind him.
“I’ll need you to calm the horse,” Thomas shouted back to her as they tore toward the runaway mare. Claire’s powers were still a mystery to Thomas, but he knew she had an uncanny way of calming both people and animals.
As they approached the wild gray mare, Thomas got as close as he could, trying to grab the reins. Claire began to rise from the saddle behind him.
“What are you doing?”
“Trust me!” Claire shouted and leapt onto the back of the mare, her blue and white dress flapping behind her, intensifying her likeness to a bluebird.
Claire’s warmth and Light immediate calmed the horse, slowing its pace and allowing Thomas to reach over and cut the girl loose, but he lost his balance in the process and landed beside the poor creature in a puddle of mud.
Claire brought the mare to a stop, slid from its back and wrapped its reins around Dillon’s neck, knowing that Dillon would keep the frightened horse from running again.
She ran to Thomas and the girl and sat in the mud holding the girl’s head in her lap as she placed her hand on the girl’s frantically beating heart, feeling it slow to a steady rhythm.
“You were amazing,” she said to Thomas, and saw his face flush bright pink.
“We were amazing together,” he said.
The runaway horse didn’t stop the May Day festivities one bit. The girl was fine, other than some bumps and bruises, and a sprained ankle. And as the May Queen and King were announced, Claire and Thomas were astonished to hear their names.
“Our own Princess Claire and Thomas—the bluebirds! For flying to the rescue and demonstrating what Larkspur is all about! Love and community, with a touch of magic and flair!”
Claire and Thomas were crowned with wreaths of daisies, their matching blue outfits covered in mud, Thomas red with embarrassment, Claire glowing with joy.
No May Basket was exchanged, but Claire did sneak Thomas into the castle kitchen to escape their thronging fans and enjoy a few pastries together. It was a May Day neither would ever forget.