Excerpt from The Play’s the Thing

It’s great to be fey. Seriously, in Hellebore’s experience, no other form of existence had as many benefits.

She propped her back on a bent blade of grass and positioned a dandelion flower to shade the sun. This way she could watch the silly mortals from a safe distance in the outer ward as they fussed about on their newly erected stage. Perfect.

Originally, she had planned to fly over to the inner ward gardens to meet Tigerlily, but was distracted by the mortals, or more accurately, one mortal. The one playing the lover, Lysander.

The light flutter of wings overhead signaled she was not alone. She glanced up. “Thank heavens it’s you, Tiger. I was afraid you might be one of those horrible flies.” Her whole body shuttered. “I hate those ugly black monstrosities.”

Tiger laughed. “When you didn’t show up in the garden, I thought you must be mucking out dragonfly stalls. What are you doing here?”

“Watching the mortal playing Lysander on the stage.” A smile graced her lips. She wrapped her arms around her knees and rocked up and down on the grass. “He’s so handsome, I could lick him all over.”

“Hellebore,” Tiger scolded. “You know we’re not allowed to interfere with the mortals. He could squash you in an instant before you got close enough to say ‘hello’.”

“There he is,” Helle said, sitting upright. “I know his voice. Just watching him makes me weak in the knees.”

“Don’t be silly. Those mortals are much too big.”

“That’s what I’m hoping to find out.” She giggled.

Tiger swatted at her. “You’re so bad.”

But Helle’s enthusiasm was always contagious and they both rolled with laughter. “It’s a shame he can’t really see us,” Tiger continued. “We must be tiny specks to them” She watched the stage for a few minutes. “What’s with those lady mortals with nets sticking from their backs?.”

“I think those are supposed to be wings,” Helle said, irritated. “As if those wings could ever lift those giants from the ground.” She looked at Tiger. “Haven’t you ever seen this play before?”

“I haven’t been lying about watching the rehearsals, if that’s what you mean.” Tiger defiantly crossed her arms across her chest.

“It’s a play about four lovers and a duke,” Helle explained. “One female mortal, Hermia, and Lysander are in love. They want to marry, but Hermia’s father promised her to another man named Demetrius who wants to keep her. There’s another woman, Helena, who loves Demetrius though he doesn’t seem to realize it. The fairies try to fix things so that the two couples will be able to love without complications, but they accidentally mess everything up so that both men fall in love with Helena. There’s another fairy-induced match between a fairy and an animal, but it’s funny with all the mix-ups and people roaming around in the woods.”

“How did the fairies try to fix things so that the two couples would fall in love?” Tiger asked.

“They had a love potion —pansy juice—that they painted on the eyelids of the two sleeping male mortals. When they woke up they would fall madly in love with the first thing that they saw, except both mortals see the same woman, Helena, when they wake…”

Helle stopped talking, her whole face squinted as if in deep concentration.

“So what happens next?” Tiger coaxed. “How did the two couples get straightened out?”

‘Doesn’t matter,” Helle said quickly. She turned toward Tiger. “Don’t we still have some old pansy juice stored in the stables?”

“I think so, but—“

Before Tiger could finish her answer, Helle flew hell-bound for the dragonfly stalls.

Tigerlily glanced at the stage where Lysander was pleading his love for Hermia. A smile crossed her lips. “He is fine.”

A ladybug climbed a blade of grass nearby. Glancing at the newcomer, Tiger sighed. “No wonder Helle is wing-crazed about him. I hope she has thought through whatever she plans to do this time.”

The ladybug looked at Tiger as if she were the crazy one.

Tigerlily laughed softly. “I agree. That would be a first.”