I never wanted to be a Fairy Godmother. It's not exactly a gig you choose. It's something you're born into, a genetic accident. Some people are born with brown eyes, or blonde hair. I was born a Fairy Godmother.
It's not as glamorous as everyone makes it out to be. I'm always on call, apparating at the first plea for assistance from a physically blessed waif with a princess complex. It doesn't matter what I'm doing. I could be cooking lunch or in the shower and poof, I'm suddenly standing in all my glitter glory before an entitled miss ready to do her bidding. I have no control over my own life.
You might think it’s wonderful to possess magic, to be able to grant wishes, to pull coaches and glass slippers from thin air. And it is great - for the heroine. But I can't use any of that magic on myself.
Being a Fairy Godmother is a curse. You spend your whole life pleasing other people, giving everyone else their happy ending. What do I get for myself? A lifetime of servitude to foolish whims and vain requests. I can't even bippity-bop the frizz from my hair.
As if that wasn't enough, my life sentence lasts a lot longer than any average Joe could expect to suffer. Fairy Godmothers are notoriously long lived. I'm not talking still spry at ninety-nine. I mean still popping out of nowhere to fulfill wishes at the relatively young age of five hundred. I've got a few centuries to go before my retirement plan kicks in, a generous 401-- dissolve into mist and blow away on the breeze--k.
I am a normal person. I put my gossamer bloomers on one foot at a time. I have feelings, hobbies, ambitions. When I was a wee elf, I wanted to be a professional pearl diver.
Unfortunately, I learned fairy wings don't do well underwater. As I grew up, I wanted to have a career, a husband, 2.5 kids and a dog. To be wooed into domestic bliss. I wanted the same dream all my clients wanted. But the closest I'll ever get to a romantic evening is keeping Prince Charming's hands to himself until he's officially said “I do.”
Maybe that's why it happened. A person can only take so many broken dreams and repressed desires before they finally snap, and snap I did.
The sun rose on a morning much like any other. I was pulled from my sleep to attend yet another whining session over how some useless ninny’s perfect life could get just a little more perfect.
“Please, Fairy Godmothers, bless my daughter with your wondrous gifts.”
Rubbing bleary eyes, I shook the sleep from my body and took in my surroundings. I was in the audience hall of a castle, next to two other Fairy Godmothers I knew from our annual Godmother Picnic and Scavenger Hunt.
Before us were the figures of a King and Queen. You know the type. Wealthy, attractive, admired by all, never had a rough day in their life. Their darling of a princess lay between them, a newborn bundle of joy swaddled in silk and rocked in an ivory cradle. Shiny blonde hair, twinkling blue eyes, a sweet nature and a kind heart.
Her loving parents would see she lacked for nothing and betroth her to the most handsome of princes when the time came. She was exactly the kind of perfect, privileged, doesn't need my help kind of person I was always being commanded to improve.
“Oh, look at the sweet baby. Babies are so adorable.”
Buttercup leaned over the cradle to make cutesy noises at the infant, wings fluttering in excitement.
The matronly Blue clasped her hands deferentially before her, all but groveling on the ground.
“Monarchs such as yourself could not deserve a more perfect child.”
I rolled my eyes. The others were always so simpering towards their clients, glad of the opportunity to heap unwarranted blessings upon the already blessed.
Buttercup glared at me, and Blue gave me a sharp nudge when I failed to sing praises immediately.
“Yeah, she's real cute,” I mumbled.
Of course, she was cute. Her parents were the genetic cream of the crop, and whatever nature hadn't bestowed on her, mommy and daddy could more than afford to buy. Looks, friends, status. This chick had it all, and she couldn't even walk yet.
“We would be honored if you would give her your blessings.”
As she spoke, the Queen lowered her head slightly in feigned respect.
No one really respected Fairy Godmothers. Why should they? We didn't choose who to bless. We were compelled to grant the wishes of any heroine or hero who asked. The powers that be put the system in place long ago to keep things predictable. No upsetting the status quo in fairy tales!
Blue dropped into a deep curtsy.
“The honor is entirely ours.”
She removed her wand from her sleeve with a flourish, brandished it over the cooing infant, and cleared her throat.
“I gift you, dear Princess, with beauty such as none possess. Your eyes like bluebells, your hair like silk, none shall match you in grace and ilk.”
Buttercup stepped forward for her turn. She tapped her wand, sending little sparks flying. The infant laughed at the minute fireworks, smiling with perfect rose petal lips.
“Beauty and grace is well and fine, but beauty in song is more divine. I give to you the gift of voice so pure and true, it will cheer the bluest of blue.”
Buttercup applauded herself while the King and Queen smirked to each other. With these gifts, they could hook any prince in the entire world to be their daughter's husband. It made me sick. This princess hadn't needed any extra talent or beauty. The kingdom her parents presided over was wealthy and secure enough to attract a suitable prince without irresistible charms.
It was my turn to bestow more gifts. What could I possibly gift her that she didn't already possess? Unmatched cooking skills? An affinity with animals? Being able to weave straw into gold was a little overkill in my opinion.
I stepped forward and gave a great wracking cough in an attempt to delay for time to think of an appropriate spell. I was saved from having to speak by a sudden plume of smoke and a deafening pop as a witch with dark robes and darker eyes appeared in the center of the room.
The queen screamed, and the king called for guards immediately, but all the witch had to do was make a sweeping gesture with her staff to keep them all at bay.
Envy rolled over me. This woman commanded her power. Used it for herself and no one else. How I burned to cast for my own ends.
“You did not invite me, oh great liege, to this gift giving party?”
The witch sounded more pleased than offended. Her smile twisted into a snarl.
“I am crushed. Crushed as I was on the night you forsook me for your lovely wife.”
Witches are jealous creatures. Resentful of the beauty denied them, of the love denied them. Steeped in envy for all the things they could never have in life, all the things I and my kind gave heroines as a matter of course. It was what separated Fairy Godmothers from Evil Witches. Godmothers were born. Witches were made.
“Then let me now bestow a gift upon the lovely creature.”
The witch stepped closer to the cradle. Buttercup and Blue took a fearful step back, but I stood my ground. A witch had no cause to hurt me. My life was not worthy of envy.
The king reached a staying hand towards the witch but dared not touch her.
“Please, I beg of you, leave this place and never return. We do not desire your gifts.”
Anger flared over the witch as a visible indigo flame. The effect was impressive, if mostly cosmetic.
“I did not ask your permission!”
Turning back to the cradle, she lifted her staff and began,
“Loved by all you meet, in beauty and song you shall indeed excel. But before midnight on your eighteenth year, a finger shall you prick on the needle of a spinning wheel, and your last breath expel.”
Fairly standard as curses went.
In a blinding flash and a cloud of sulfur, the witch disappeared. The queen collapsed to the floor in a heap of tears and wails.
“Please, Godmother, save my daughter from this evil curse,” the king pleaded with me.
“Make it so she only sleeps, not dies,” Blue suggested.
“And a handsome prince will come wake her with a kiss,” Buttercup added.
I thought about it, I truly did. I could make another happy ending.
But I was tired of happy endings.
I was tired of making everyone's dream come true but my own. Where was my devastating beauty, my unsurpassed talent? Why did I never get the knight in shining armor? It was always about someone else, and I’d had enough. I couldn't take it anymore.
No, that's not right. I wouldn't take it anymore. This time, I was going to do something for myself. With malicious intent in my heart and a wave of my wand, I spoke my generous gift.
“I cannot stop the witch's curse said and done, but you can't prick your finger if you have none.”
Buttercup and Blue gasped as the princess' perfectly formed hands disappeared, her tiny wrists ending in a smooth stump. I smiled at the loud protests of her parents, but once bestowed a fairy's gift cannot be taken back. We’re only allowed one gift per client. As Buttercup and Blue had already spent their blessings, they could do nothing to override mine.
Pride filled me as I gestured at the now fingerless child.
“I have saved the princess. The curse cannot be fulfilled. She will keep her beauty and her song and will never prick her finger on a spinning wheel. I have done as you asked.”
Falling to his knees, the king openly wept before his altered daughter.
“That’s not what I meant,” he sobbed.
I snorted. “A challenge will do her good. She shouldn't have it too easy, anyway.”
I gave my wand a hard shake, willing it into a slender, twisted staff. Tapping the end on the ground, my pink gossamer bloomers shifted into a long dress of deep blue velvet. Shaking my hair loose from its bun, it grew until it reached my waist in wild tendrils that swayed in the air currents like smoke upon the wind. My wings shriveled and shrunk back into my skin. The transformation felt like the falling away of shackles.
I was free.
Buttercup trembled before me as Blue stuttered, “Shimmer, how could you?”
“Call me Shiver. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pay a visit to the Swan Princess. I'll show her how a goose gets dressed for dinner.”
I flexed my fingers into a fist, feeling the magic gather at my will and my will alone. Power surged through me, ready to fulfill whatever destiny I desired. My smile widened. Taking one last look at the distraught king, I turned towards the exit. A feeling of unfettered joy swelled my heart.
It's my turn now.