Frederik sensed the seasons changing. He knew he didn’t have much longer before the frosts came and the cooler temperatures brought an end to his life. If he found himself a new hive in time he might stand a chance, but he would have to leave his best friend.
The same best friend who offered him the shelter of her petals when his old hive cast him out. He was just another worker bee who got too old and too slow. The flower didn’t think so. She loved him, and she appreciated all the pollen he’d brought her over the summer. He didn’t know it, but she had saved her sweetest nectar for his daily visits.
She didn’t have much more than a month to go herself before the winter took over and scattered her seeds to the wind. He hugged her close. He would never leave.
The first twin leaned in and inspected the thing. “It could be anything: a crashed spaceship, a shriveled-up alien that couldn’t survive in our atmosphere…”
“Or a disembodied eye sent to spy on us by some weird old wizard!” said the second twin.
“You guys are so dramatic, it’s just a dried up rosehip,” said the girl.
The boys stopped and stared at her a moment before shaking their heads. “No way. If that’s not worth a fortune in some wizard’s herb shop, I’ll eat my shoe.”
The girl reconsidered. They were the only other kids in the neighborhood. She wanted them to like her, needed them to like her if she wanted to have anyone to play with. “Well, did you know rosehips can cure scurvy?”
“What, like in pirates?”
“Yeah, like in pirates.”
“Whoa.” The boys looked at her with a new respect.
“Old Man Winter’s not so bad. I mean, he has a right to be here, and sometimes he’s downright cozy,” said Mother Nature, shaking her head. “I just don’t understand why he insists on leaving his beards all over the place. And don’t even get me started on the way he hides all my handiwork under snow.”
“Is that why you two have such an on-again, off-again relationship?”
She tossed her hair and sent me a glare. “Listen, I’m far too much woman for just one season. Judge me if you dare, but just remember who’s in charge of wrinkles and stretch marks at the end of the day.”
She adjusted her hat and cloak, shooing away a slug who wanted a nibble. It was not the first time that lazy, no-account wizard she called a husband turned her to fungus to avoid losing an argument. In fact, she should probably be thankful he didn’t turn her into his own toenail fungus this time. Ugh, the memory still made her shudder.
She whispered a few rhymes and turned back into her usual form – short, squat, and rather dumpy. The epitome of attractiveness for someone in her third century. Her nose had lost its customary wart, but she could pick up a new one in town later. Or not. It gave her an idea for her revenge.
She crept up on her husband, tapped him with her wand, and turned him into a hairy wart she stuck on the end of her nose. Then she spent hours sniffing skunk cabbage, just to drive his allergies wild.
As for him, he passed the time planning his counter-revenge, and pretended not to have a small glow of pride and love for her cunning. After all, this is what he married her for. Romance might last a century or two, but pranks are forever.