Gaps in Existence

By Cytisinth

Disclaimer: I do not own Thumbelina; Warner Bros. does. The 1835 story on which the movie is based was written by Hans Christian Andersen, but is now public domain.

Be aware that this fic carries a somewhat grimmer tone than the movie does. However, such a mood would not be out of place in Don Bluth's older features, and I like to think that he would approve of it.


Cornelius, my son! Your father should have told you about this when you were a child, but it appears that the task is now mine. You ought to know something extremely important about our people's history before you make a fool of yourself in front of the entire court again. Yes, my dear, I know it is your wedding night, but before you depart, there is something you must keep in mind.

Since you asked us about this publicly, the rising and setting of the sun, the change from day to night, and the weather are not our duties; they are the property of Nature. But the seasons are for us, and though one season may be only a few days to us, it is a few months to those without magic. Yes, we live much longer than those without magic, but we cannot experience time as they do. Even so, Nature disapproves of a break from her routine, unfortunate though it may be to her subjects.

Subjects? Why, of course. Nature is the most supreme ruler of all planets, more powerful than any user of magic. She refuses to be controlled for long--but you knew that from your ancient history lessons. Without her, we have no magic, and we never had the right to strive for independence from her. She once gave us a reason to hide and cower, but you had not been born in those times.

There was once more life in Ardendale than there is now, you see. There was life beyond the denizens of the world's forests, beyond the inhabitants of the ponds and seas. We feared this race of giants more than anything else, and it was rare that they ever saw one of us. Nature did not approve of what we were doing with the magic she had given us. Our foes had no magic, as ridiculous as it may sound to you, Cornelius. But they created their own system of coping with their surroundings; it was completely unlike our own, but it achieved the same ends.

Oh, what incredible things they did with their inventions! They could equal and even surpass us fairies with their ingenious skills. Why, they understood the importance of improvements much better than we fairies ever did. Of course, not all of our foes agreed that advancements were necessary. They envied us fairies, for many of them had heard of us, though few of them encountered us. They believed that our way, more mystical and uplifting to them, was better than theirs. We envied our foes, but they remained unaware of that.

Nature watched these most recent creations of hers with a scowl, Cornelius. She had given very few of them the capacity for magic, but they became more trouble than she ever expected. Their inventions were less powerful than our most potent magic, but these people were far more passionate than we were. They made deliberate attempts to control her, and much more brazenly than we ever had.

That was the problem. Some of our foes, seeing the destruction that their inventions could cause, claimed the species would create its own end. How very, very wrong they were--it was Nature who found her creations too difficult to handle. Eventually, she retaliated, and then her problems were gone.

I must mention, of course, that I was not around when they were thriving. Neither was your father or even your grandmother Katharine. What I know of this matter I have learned from our books of records. As it happens, there are still a few of these extinct people left, but you would scarcely realize it. They left behind records of their own, and from them we know these people's history and legends.

When our foes were gone, we became Earth's masters once more. We had no more need to hide in the bark of a tree or to attempt to mingle with fireflies. How glorious a time it was for us!

What's more, the other animals began to become much more intelligent: the cattle, chickens, goats, and geese, who had served masters of other species for thousands of years and would serve them until the last of their masters died. The beetles and cockroaches, who had always claimed that they would outlive any supposedly superior species, and they did. The mice, who were free to live as they pleased without fear of being ensnared or poisoned--eaten, perhaps, but that is all part of an animal's life. In fact, it was a rare animal that did not become intelligent. The bumblebees, like that awful pet of yours, escaped the change, but they were the exception.

No, Cornelius, Nature does not favor the beautiful above all others. I know that these intelligent animals are not always beautiful. Nor does she bless the pure of heart or the deeply in love. Nature always gives the fullest bounty to those who endeavor to reap it for themselves, though blameless they are not. Your wife never courted Nature's favor, if what she told us was true. Her fate was in the hands of others until the day she married you, and she did not receive Nature's blessing until then. She may never receive it again.

Is Nature herself beautiful? No one has seen her yet. Your grandmother and some of our elders say that they can communicate with her, but they have never seen her. She may appear beautiful, but outer beauty is no guarantee of what lies beneath.

Before you go off to see the nearest planet on your honeymoon, consider this: suppose you and Thumbelina have a child. What are you going tell her about the changing of the seasons, let alone her subjection to Nature? We can manipulate Nature, but we can never conquer her.