Tianna was never woken early by the sun like most plant meras were. Instead, she was woken by her father, who was a fire mera so wouldn't normally be up this early. He said that he liked getting up early to make breakfast and enjoy the sunrise, although the little girl found that hard to believe as it didn't take that long to make pancakes. Maybe he had kingly duties to do. Being a princess was so much easier than being king, at least in the mind of a twelve-year-old girl.
"Daddy, it's too early to be up," she complained, snuggling back into her warm blanket as the golden light entered her room.
"Too early to be up? Never," he chuckled, and she felt the bed dip down as he sat on it. "I thought you'd be up earlier, considering it's your birthday."
"Mummy always made me stay away from her on my birthday," Tianna admitted with all the unflinching honesty of a child. "She always got sad and stayed in her room all day."
"Really? So you've never had a birthday party or cake or presents?" Jaik asked, and as she turned she saw bright red patches appear in his glow. She still had no idea how it worked, but others had trouble understanding her newfound ability to travel through plants too.
"No," she replied, shaking her head so her long brown tangles swayed. "I don't even know what they are. I know what Christmas is but why is a birthday so important?"
"It celebrates that you've lived another year and you're older," Jaik explained after barely managing to suppress a growl. Tianna looked at the dark red patches that now drifted through his glow.
"So should I have a birthday?" Tianna wondered, sitting up properly and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. Now that her father mentioned it, she knew that a birthday could be very exciting and promised yummy food. Why else would he have mentioned it?
"Yes," Jaik replied, nodding. "Now come on, we have to find you some birthday presents and send out party invitations and plan the party." Tianna grinned at her daddy's enthusiasm. He was so child-like at times but she knew that he could be serious too. She'd broken enough statues to know that.
As per usual, Tianna chose to dress in a purple princess-like dress for the trip to the town square. She skipped alongside her father, holding his hand, and he looked on with all the love of a father for his first-born.
"So do you know what you want for your birthday?" he asked as they neared town.
"Can I have a unicorn?" she asked excitedly. Jaik chuckled warmly. Such a request from a human child would have been impossible to fulfil. But for a mera, and a mera princess at that...
"I'll see what Laylee or Hannah can do," he smiled warmly. The mera who specialised in combining two objects had finally moved on to being able to combine two living things, but then again Hannah had also found some spells about creating magical creatures. The only question was whether the mera or the human sorceress would be able to create Tianna's birthday present.
"Yay, thank you daddy!" she squealed, jumping up and hugging him.
"And what would you like from other daddy?" Jaik asked. Sam had been cold towards his daughter at first but he was warming to her slowly.
"Well, he has lots of shiny things just like his mummy so maybe something shiny?" she suggested after a few minutes of thoughtful silence. "I know mummy won't get me anything though so don't bother asking her."
"Sad but true," Jaik agreed, nodding. "Maybe I'll talk her around to it, though. We have all week and I know your grandmother's going to get you something amazing." Tianna's mood brightened at the mention of her human grandmother. Pandora lavished affection on her just like any good grandmother.
"Do you mean the human one or the mera one?" Tianna wondered once the initial excitement had worn off. It didn't matter, though, as both of them were very affectionate and fond of bestowing gifts on their granddaughter.
"Both," Jaik shrugged, and she giggled again.
In town, Tianna ran straight to Jaik's Just Delights. The shop owned by her father was her second-favourite place in town, second only to the large greenhouse that had been put in the town just for her.
"Can I have a muffin, daddy?" she requested, leaning against the display case with her breath fogging up the glass.
"If you stop breathing all over the display case," Jaik chuckled, and she quickly stepped back to look up at him with eager wide eyes. Grinning, she accepted the blueberry muffin that her father handed her and bit into it, loving the juiciness of the fresh berries that had been used.
While Tianna happily ate her muffin, Jaik restocked the display cases and prepared the recipes for the cakes and biscuits that would be baked fresh for that day. The rest of them had been cooked that morning and were for the morning rush. A tap at the door sent Tianna scampering for the back room and Jaik smiled at her bashfulness before wiping his hands on his apron and heading for the door, switching the 'closed' sign to 'open' before unlocking and welcoming his first customer of the day. He was one of the oldest members of mera territory, one who'd been here even when Jaik had first come here.
"Hello, Stanley," he greeted the elderly citizen, and Tianna relaxed and returned to the shop with the knowledge that this customer was not a stranger due to the fact that her father clearly found him friendly enough to greet in such a manner.
"Morning, Jaik. Got any of those breakfast muffins?" Stanley requested, grinning and wiggling his fingers at the young mera who came out of the kitchen to stand behind Jaik.
"Sure do, Stanley. I'll just get you one," Jaik responded, getting the muffin for Stanley and handing it to him. In return, the elderly mera handed Jaik some coins. They had been a new item brought in by King Jaik, and everyone had to admit that it did make shopping easier despite the very human nature of it.
Once Stanley had gone to his shop to open up, Jaik finished setting up his shop for the day and Tianna alternated between being in the front of the shop and helping Jaik hand the various cakes and biscuits to customers. Jaik seemed to be busy doing something else all day, which was quite unusual unless it was his anniversary or someone's birthday... and then she grinned as she realised exactly what was going on. He was making her birthday cake!
Squealing internally, Tianna happily went about helping out in her father's shop until he reluctantly shut the shop early so he could prepare his daughter's birthday party. Upon seeing the cake box in his hands, she had to resist the urge to fly along behind him but settled for just skipping. Sniffing, she tried to discern what was in the cake but was sadly reminded that as a plant-fire-water mix, she had many great things about her but not the great sense of smell that animal meras had. So she had to resign herself to not knowing until the party.
Being a very shy girl, Tianna had no friends so had to have her family be the guests for her party. But she didn't mind. She'd make friends at school anyway, at least her daddy promised that she would. She hadn't been to school yet because there wasn't one where her mummy lived, and the school here was great according to both of her daddies.
"Go through to the garden," her daddy told her with a smile as he left her at the front entrance of the castle to go do something in the kitchen. Her other daddy often asked why her daddy went to the kitchen as soon as he'd come home from cooking in his shop kitchen, but Tianna knew that it was so he could prepare yummy meals for the family and eat about half of what he made for everyone else.
Tianna obeyed her daddy and soon ended up in the garden, which was beautiful this time of year. Being mid-spring, nearly every flower was out and all of the trees spread generous shade which Tianna enjoyed sitting in while she either read or just enjoyed nature. If she relaxed too much, however, she'd become one with the grass or the tree she was leaning against and then nobody would find her until she heard them calling through the blissful haze of sleep. Today, though, there was a picnic table under the biggest, shadiest tree, so Tianna sat at it and looked with wide eyes at the wrapped gifts on the table.
"Jaik, where do I put this unicorn?" Tianna heard someone call. Her ears pricked up and her heart-rate seemed to pick up as she craned her neck in an attempt to see her human Aunty Hannah.
"I think she knows you're here now so bring it out to her," she heard her daddy reply, and she jumped to her feet to bounce around excitedly. Her wings lifted her off the ground even before she knew they were doing it.
"Aunty Hannah!" she cried as her aunt stepped through the gate leading to the backyard. She flew to the human and almost knocked her into the unicorn that she was leading. When her eyes fell upon the majestic white-coated animal, she gasped and reached out a hand to touch it. "Can I...? she asked, and her aunt nodded her approval.
"It's a living, breathing unicorn," Hannah confirmed, smiling at her niece as she ran her hands along the unicorn's side. "It can do a little bit of magic but nothing major. Is that alright?"
"It's perfect," Tianna breathed, her green eyes shining as she took in the white horse with its perfect spiralling horn. Its brown eyes seemed to look at her intelligently, and she wondered if she could talk to it. Maybe it would talk back, or maybe she could form a bond with it!
"So what will you call her?" Hannah asked, looking proudly upon her creation. It had been made from an ordinary horse and a narwhal with just a touch of magic, but the simplicity of it didn't matter to anyone but the creator.
"I think I might call her Snowflake," Tianna decided, laying her head against the animal's side. "She's so pretty."
"I thought you'd like her," Josephine, Hannah's wife, commented. "Hannah was worried that it was too simple but you obviously love your present so that's all that matters."
"I love it," Tianna enthused, beaming up at her aunt. "Thanks so much, Aunty Hannah."
"Aw, that's okay, sweetie," Hannah smiled, wrapping her arms around the young mera. "As long as you're happy, that's all that matters. Happy birthday."
"Tianna! Come and open the rest of your presents," Jaik called, and Tianna excitedly ran back to the table where she quickly sat down and grabbed the first present she saw. It was quite a large box and was, unsurprisingly, from her mera grandparents.
"Can I open this now or do I have to wait for grandma and granddad?" Tianna asked, eying the shiny green wrapping paper and big pink ribbon. But before anyone could answer, the sound of wingbeats reached their ears and four meras touched down in the garden. Grinning, Tianna watched as the two elder meras approached them with her aunt and uncle who were her age.
"Mum, dad! I'm so glad you and the twins could make it," Jaik grinned, approaching his mother and hugging her.
"We would not miss our first granddaughter's birthday for anything," her grandfather assured her. He walked over to her with the twins following behind and each gave her a hug, although her grandfather's was noticeably warmer than the friendly hugs she received from her aunt and uncle.
"You can go ahead and open your present now," her grandmother beamed at her as she took a seat beside her mate.
"Great," Tianna grinned, and her claws made short work of the wrapping paper. The ribbon, however, she left alone and instead looped around her neck. She liked pretty things, after all. Inside the box was a dragon statue made of cement, and Tianna could just imagine how she could paint it to make its scales shimmer like those of a real dragon.
"I love it," she grinned, trailing her fingers down the cement scales. She would have loved to have been able to touch a real dragon but the closest thing to a real dragon around here was the spirit of Queen Emerald, who appeared only during marriage ceremonies and they were quite rare.
Carefully setting the dragon statue on the ground, Tianna got started opening the next present from her other daddy. She couldn't imagine what he could have got for her on such short notice, so she was very surprised when she opened the small box to reveal a shiny charm bracelet. Her eyes shone almost as brightly as the charms. The first one on there was, to her delight, a perfect little dragon.
"Thank you, other daddy," she grinned at him, and she watched as his tan scales darkened in a blush. She was so glad that he'd managed to get such a pretty gift for her. And then she saw the gift from her daddy and excitedly tore the wrapping paper from it. She broke into an even bigger grin when she saw the garden set he'd got her. There was a little garden fork, a little pair of garden clippers or whatever they were called, and some seed packets as well as a small shovel and watering can.
"There's a new garden patch at the bottom end of the garden," he explained. "I know you love gardening and now you can have your own garden to grow. Maybe you'll even learn how to grow vegies for me to use in my cooking."
"It will be good to use some healthier foods," her other daddy commented with a chuckle. Everyone laughed, including her daddy, so she knew that that her other daddy had only been joking again.
The party, though family-only, was lovely. Tianna's aunt and uncle were a little strange due to their dragon-born parents, but they could have fun when they wanted to. They all took turns riding Snowflake around the garden and, when they tired of that, Rose and Tianna dragged Trent into the princess' bedroom where they proceeded to dress him up in pretty dresses and brush his hair. The only time he got a break from the make-overs was when the cake was brought out, and even then the girls continued dressing him up and making him pretty until Liz called for her children to accompany her home. Rose bade her niece goodbye, promising to see her at school, and Tianna was left alone with her two daddies.
"Did you have a good day, sweetie?" her daddy asked, kissing her forehead as he tucked her into bed that night.
"Yes, daddy, it was the best first birthday ever," she replied, her eyes gleaming with excitement. But she would be asleep soon, what with the excitement of the day.
"Your other daddy's happy that you liked his present," he told her, stroking her long brown hair.
"I know," she grinned. "I love it! And can you make sure my new dress from human grandma is washed so I can wear it tomorrow?"
"Of course, sweetie," Jaik promised, nodding. Pandora had gifted the child a ruffled green dress, much like the one she'd worn when she was an enemy of the king rather than a friend.
"Yay!" she grinned, and then yawned.
"Looks like it's time for you to get some sleep. You've had a big day," Jaik commented, chuckling slightly.
"Yeah, but it was fun. Goodnight daddy, love you," Tianna replied, rolling over in bed so she was nestled into the blankets comfortably.
"Love you too, sweetie. Goodnight," he replied, smiling, and kissed her forehead before walking out of her bedroom and dimming the lights.