Autumn stirred and woke. She knew it was time to get up, but she just couldn’t move. “I should be excited,” she said to herself, “It’s ridiculous to feel so nervous and afraid.”
Ever since Azara, the evil queen of the fairies, was banished from the Fairy Realm, Autumn had known she was destined to rule. But despite the years she had spent preparing for this moment, she had never realized how she would feel when it arrived. Now the day of her coronation was here and she wasn’t at all certain she was ready to take on the task that lay before her.
“From this day on, the well-being of all the fairy folk, from fairies and elves, to pixies and gnomes, will be my responsibility. Even though I’ll have Gran, The Council of Elders, and Lance to advise me, in the end all of the decisions will be mine. It’s too much. How can I possibly do it?”
But it was more than just taking on the duties of being queen that had her worried, although that by itself was enough to make her so nervous she wanted to hide forever. The other problem was that her life would no longer be her own. Whenever her subjects needed her, she would have to be there. Not only was she taking on the burden of all those decisions, she was also losing her freedom. After today she wouldn’t just be Autumn Primrose. She would be the Fairy Queen.
Was that really what she wanted?
“Silly girl!” she said to herself as she pushed back the covers. “It’s your destiny. You have no choice.”
She jumped up, and hurriedly dressed. Then she stepped forward to the tall window that faced her bed, flung aside the curtains, and stood looking deep into the forest that surrounded her home. All at once she was seized by a summons she couldn’t resist. She stepped through the window, and began to fly, dodging the trees as she hurried toward an unknown destination that was pulling her toward it like a magnate.
Suddenly a clearing appeared and she landed in a sunny grove of aspen trees at the center of the forest. Shiny leaves fluttered in a breeze that swept lightly across the open glen. Birds called out greetings as she looked around the grove. For the first time since she woke up, she relaxed.
Just then she noticed a majestic blue and silver dragon watching her from the edge of the woods. She’d never met this particular dragon before, but she knew who he was. This was the Dragon of Ancient Memories, a wise elder who had been an adviser to her grandmother.
Autumn bowed to the dragon and the dragon bowed in turn.
“Welcome,” the dragon said, in a voice as calm as gently flowing water. “Thank you for answering my call.”
“It’s an honor, your Excellency” she replied, though she knew she’d had no choice. She’d been compelled to fly here.
“I summoned you because I wanted to introduce to this magical clearing,” the ancient dragon replied. “I knew you would be feeling nervous about your new position in the Realm. After all, you are about to take on a whole new life.”
“Yes,” she said, looking down at the ground. “I woke up feeling awfully scared. I didn’t expect to feel so… unsure of myself. I thought I was prepared. Gran has certainly done her best to teach me how to be queen.”
“I know she has,” the dragon said. “And I have every confidence you will do your job well. But it won’t always be easy. There will be difficult times, times when you feel overwhelmed. That’s why I brought you here.
“This beautiful grove will be your sanctuary. When you need a retreat from the burdens of being queen, you can come to this place of solace and serenity. It is known as the Grove of Eternal Spring. Whenever you feel lost or afraid, you can come here to find yourself again.”
Autumn stepped forward so she could look into the dragon’s face. His eyes were kind and filled with compassion. Her own eyes held tears, but she took a deep breath and gave him a watery smile.
“Thank you,” she said. “Now I must go. I have a coronation to attend.”