Several days later, in the evening
Music was playing in the grand ballroom and guests were arriving in all their lush costumes. Petuna stood in her room looking out at them over from her veranda. Everyone had come from near and far to attend this party. She saw the clouds sail in with Cloud Bearer. She various water forms and Fortune Fountain. She even saw some of the icicles and fairies walk in too. She could not recall the last time a party of this magnitude was given in the castle. Petuna was nervous at the announcements that her father was planning to make this evening. He had not given any indication of what they would involve. Perhaps it would determine the fate of Phineas and the humans. But that would only be one announcement. What would the other announcements be about then, she wondered. A knock on her door brought her out of her thoughts. She turned around and found Hetty and Hetitia fluttering into the room.
“Oh, Petuna, come now, what are you doing here all alone! There’s a party in full swing downstairs!” said Hetitia excitedly.
Petuna smiled nervously, “Yes I’ve been watching the guests arriving.”
“Oh! Oh! Did you see that flamboyant fountain walk in!!!” said Hetitia excitedly again.
Hetty rolled her eyes and realised that she would not begin to hear the end of Fortune Fountain again. Petuna giggled as she listened to Hetitia recount the arrogance of Fortune Fountain. She walked with her fairies out of the room, down the various corridors until they finally stood before the grand ballroom. Her mind was heavy with anticipation but she tried to put that aside and enjoy the festivities for now.
The trumpets sounded announcing the arrival of Petuna and her fairies. The music stopped momentarily and the guests’ attention turned towards her as she entered the ballroom. They curtsied and bowed as she walked past them until she finally found herself up on the dias. The music started once again and the guests took to the dance floor with bounce and poise. It was not like Petuna to stay seated for long and she was soon out and about mingling in the crowd, chatting with those whom she had not seen for some time.
Fortune Fountain was standing with Hetitia and Hetty, presumably having another heated quarrel. She could see Hetty stuck in the middle between them trying to intercede and she decided to head towards them, amused at the scene.
“Ahh! Your Highness, it is such a pleasure to see you!” exclaimed Fortune Fountain.
Hetitia made a face and fluttered on the spot in irritation.
Petuna flashed a genuine smile, “It is lovely to see you back to your old self, fountain, I’m glad to see that you’re enjoying the party.”
“Ahh most interesting! I heard of your courage when the king called upon you to return the Amber Crystal, Your Highness. Much commendable,” said Fortune Fountain.
His words brought back the recent adventures of the last few days, “Thank you, fountain.”
“Oh! Oh! Tell her about Glacier!!” jumped Hetitia excitedly.
The fairies had wondered how Glacier had recovered at such glacial speed when they last saw him. They recalled how he had been badly injured and had slipped into a deep coma when they had left to find Petuna. But when they had returned to the Wallowing Waterfall, he had been all set to fight in the battle. The fairies had been itching to know the story since then so when Fortune Fountain arrived at the party, that was the first thing they had asked him.
“Ahhh, good old Glacier! Perhaps he can tell you the story himself!” said Fortune Fountain as he spotted Glacier walking towards them.
Glacier bowed gently and beamed a warm smile.
“What happened to you!” cried Hetty.
“After that vicious fight I had with avalanche, the last thing I remember was an excruciating pain and then just a feeling that I was falling down a large dark hole. I guess that must’ve been when I lost consciousness. When I opened my eyes again, I found Fortune Fountain sitting at a distance and there were a number of doctors tending to me. I was given this medicine and I slowly started to feel sensation flowing through me again. The blinding pain was fading and the chunks that Fortune Fountain had kindly gathered were melding into form,” said Glacier, “Before I knew it I was able to stand up and walk about just as if nothing had ever happened.”
“But what of the king?” asked Petuna.
“It was the king who ordered the doctors to be brought in right away,” said Fortune Fountain, “You see, I knew that the situation was delicate and that no hospital would allow Glacier to be admitted, you know, because of the vendetta. After Glacier fell into a coma I thought of how I would get word to the king. I needed to speak with him at once. But I didn’t have to do anything because moments later, I found an envoy of clouds advancing towards me. They were headed by the king and I rushed to speak with him. Cloud Intelligence had been feeding him reports about everything that had happened and he listened to me carefully when I told him about Glacier’s bravery in the face of the avalanche. He immediately ordered the doctors to tend to him and he was healed at once.”
Glacier beamed his warm smile once again and the fairies fluttered in the air clapping with excitement.
Just then, the trumpets sounded announcing the arrival of the king. Everyone’s attention turned towards the grand entrance as the king walked in majestically. Guests bowed and curtsied as the king passed them all the way until he reached his throne. A short distance away, Petuna caught sight of Phineas and the rest of Anton’s men. Phineas had become a national hero ever since he had given them the cure for melting the ice that had covered the land from the avalanche. He caught sight of her too and adjusted his spectacles slightly. Music had started playing again and Petuna saw him making his way towards her.
“Your Highness,” Phineas addressed Petuna as he bowed slightly.
“Ahhh! Interesting,” said Fortune Fountain with a hearty laugh, “Look what we have here, a human in our midst!”
The tiny crowd standing around Petuna exchanged laughs and smiles. Conversations rolled as they recalled the adventures that took place over the last few days. It was only minutes later that Phineas found the courage to extract Petuna from the crowd and walk away so that they were out of earshot.
“Well, doctor, it seems that you have impressed the king with your cure for the land,” said Petuna.
“Oh it wasn’t really a cure, just something you had all along but didn’t realise its true value,” said Phineas. “You know, I was hoping that I would impress someone else too.”
Petuna smiled feeling a sudden wave of excitement wash over her.
“Petuna, I want you to know that I was true in everything I said to you. When we were in the Dark Forest, it was all true. All what I said,” started Phineas.
“Phineas, there is no need to explain yourself.”
“Oh but there is. Listen, Petuna. The king. He took me aside last night and spoke to me earnestly,” said Phineas.
Petuna’s eyes widened with interest.
Phineas continued, “He has given me the freedom to return home. He has given me a way to return back home.” Phineas laughed to himself, “It turns out that I don’t need Storm Blazer after all. Never did. He said that I could meet with River Check who would provide safe passage for me and the other men to get home and, he said that I can take whatever I want back with me to cure my world’s water.”
Phineas paused and adjusted his spectacles slightly as Petuna searched his face. He looked up at her and she could see that tiny sweat drops started forming on his brow. She could sense his tension.
“It seems the water fairies are playing with you again,” giggled Petuna.
“Oh!” said Phineas as he wiped his brow and smiled, “Yes, the water fairies. I really must find a way to stop them yes…”
They laughed trying to break the awkwardness in the situation.
“Petuna, I know it must be too much to ask and this must be the most ludicrous suggestion in the whole wide world, or, I should say worlds. Plural!! But, well, when the king said that I could take back whatever it is I want I just couldn’t find the words to reply. He told me that I am free to think it over and that he would make the announcement tonight.
"The truth is, Petuna, the first thing that came to my mind when he asked me was that, well, I wanted to ask for you…”
Petuna’s eyes widened with surprise and she could hardly find the words to respond.
“That was what kept going through my mind over and over and I realise that scientifically it might be virtually impossible and when I tried to think of alternatives, well, all I could think of was to stay here with you…”
Petuna swallowed his words and took a few moments to calm her racing thoughts. Her heart was beating at fairy speed and she could hardly contain herself.
“Stay here? Phineas. What are you trying to say?”
“What I’m trying to say is that, in a moment of full clarity all I could think about was you. The problems of the water back on earth didn’t seem to matter to me. All I kept thinking about was that if you couldn’t come back with me then perhaps it was my destiny for me to stay here with you. If you’ll accept me, Petuna, that is what I will ask of the king tonight when he asks me,” said Phineas.