Saturday, 30 March 2013

Passiflora's Suspension by Hanne Larsson

Read by Saffron Chan

Dear Maleficent,

I hope this letter finds you busy with work. What a peaceful and tidy place your tower must be compared to the explosion of pizza boxes and ice cream tubs that has become my cottage. I felt obliged as your friend to write to you before you heard any of the rumours linking you to evil-doings and pranks.

As I previously mentioned, I've been keeping my eye on this blonde slip of a girl living in dismal conditions in her stepmother's house as an opportunity for new business. One morning,the mice in the kitchen helpfully told me that her stepmother had forbidden her to attend the ball held in honour of all the land's noble ladies. I grabbed my chance, knowing that there is much to be said for making an entrance. Her mouth gaping open and a single tear falling as I materialised in front of her, sparkles and all, told me I'd succeeded.

In time-honoured fashion, I promised she would be allowed to go to the ball, as long as she left before midnight. Dearest Mally, my heart did a little somersault when she nodded, and I gave her a list of items that would need to be ready the evening of the ball.

The stepmother and her hideous daughters had left hours before I showed up that evening (Well, the handbook does say that the belle of the ball has to be fashionably late, which gives me room to do my job. I do have to think of repeat business). Such was the plan anyway.

I am great at fairy godmothering, been doing it for years. I have a reputation to uphold and reams of references from other down-and-out girls who I've turned into princesses and saved from sleeping sickness, dragons or evil queens. So I honestly don't know why, that night, nothing worked. Of course everything is hunky-dory now that the Fairy Council have banned me from using magic for business.

First, the pumpkin. Normally this turns into a beautiful white carriage complete with muted gold wheels and adorable lace curtains in the windows. It was the strangest feeling, a bit like that incident in '83 when the dry rot got into that batch of school broomsticks (kids + fire + flight = bruised and crying children), you remember. Only this time it was the wand itself. Fizzling, whimpering and a sputter of light flew out, turning the pumpkin into a marrow. Hideous vegetable, the marrow, I'm sure you agree. And once magic has been applied, you can't use it for anything other than making bland soup.

The girl, bless her heart, managed a huge smile when I turned to look at her. Onwards and upwards I thought, a spare carriage should be easy to find.

The mice were standing up, as if eagerly awaiting their human transformation. The wand felt less sick this time around, certainly there was less coughing and spluttering, but the results weren't quite right. One of the footmen turned out magnificently - clipped ash blonde hair, standing smartly to attention in his blue uniform, but the other! The other was a monstrosity of halves, one gleaming, the other furry and twitching. He would have to go to the Shelter.

Her smile had faded, replaced by a biting lip and a look of panic in her eyes. I gave her my most confident smile, pulling out the back-up wand from my bag, but I was sure my trembling hands were giving me away.

On the basis of the previous 50% success rate, I figured a new wand would mean 100%. Then all we would need to do was find another mouse, a carriage and I could send her off to meet her prince.

Sounds simple, doesn't it, especially with such an easy trick of turning one four-limbed beast into another?

However, the lizards were a lot less co-operative than the mice. The wand felt fine in my hand, with a nice weight, but as I twirled it round for the final cast, it splintered! The whole thing cracked into fragments, the largest of which flung itself against the girl's head, knocking her unconscious.

In retrospect, her unconsciousness saved me losing face whilst on THAT embarrassing phone call. You must be the only one of us that has never used the FAA and asked for magical assistance and tow-aways. Inevitably you always spot at least one of the fairy grandmothers sniggering as they put your spells right. And five of them turned up! FIVE! I've broken Merry's record!

Well, the short and long of it is that the girl got to the ball, but beyond fashionably late. The Prince had already picked his belle. I had failed.

Now it turns out that that undernourished blonde isn't as air-headed as she looked and is suing for malpractice! I am currently suspended from using magic for business purposes, and frankly I am a tad bored. There's only so much tea to make and pizza to conjure up (and the kitchen mice have refused to tidy up)…

You have always been a good friend to me, so any thoughts on what I ought to do now?

Your loyal friend, 


Maleficent sniggered to herself as she reread the letter for the second time. Passiflora (how she hated nicknames!) had always been the naive one, and Maleficent had been going stir-crazy with nothing but the crow and the dragon for company. With her powers still greater than anyone else's on the Fairy Council, nothing had posed much of a challenge since that Sleeping "Beauty" affair (and that had been against three), so she tended to lay low.

Passiflora's excitement over her new client had made sabotaging her spells an irresistible prank. Maleficent supposed she ought to reply to the poor sap and make all the right friend noises, perhaps even find an ally in her; yes, that would be just the challenge she wanted.

Maleficent grinned darkly. Droves of do-gooder fairies practically skipped out of the College every year; they should thank her for providing them with opportunities to “save the day”.

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