“Godmother… Fairy Godmother…”
Agnetha sighed as Ella’s hushed voice awoke her from a dream involving a handsome prince of her own. She opened her eyes reluctantly and stared tiredly at the ceiling. She had been avoiding Ella for some days now, but the magical link between them meant that she couldn’t avoid hearing whenever Ella summoned her.
“Godmother…” Ella’s voice became insistent. “I know you can hear me. If you don’t aid me” she persisted, “I shall have to look elsewhere for help! I hear there’s an evil fairy a few kingdoms over, put someone to sleep for a hundred years. I bet she’d be willing to help me – for a price.”
“You used to be such a sweet, pliable, girl” Agnetha mourned, appearing at the girl’s side.
“Which is the reason why I endured so many years of abuse” Ella reminded her, “if I’d had the guts to shove my stepmother into her own oven, it would have been a whole different fairytale.”
“You’d never have met Prince Charming” Agnetha pointed out.
“You mean Prince “I need babies to secure my lineage” Charming?”
“Don’t you “ah” me” Ella growled, “I told you this last week when I asked for your help to avoid conceiving – my supply of barrenweed which I brought with me when I married Charming is almost finished.”
“And as I told you Cinderella” Agnetha used the old, hated nickname deliberately, to remind the girl of her previous miserable existence before Agnetha had shown up “the primary duty of a crown princess is to produce an heir.”
“And as I have told you and Charming both, I am not a brood mare. I’m barely eighteen! You promised me that I’d live ‘happily ever after’ if I married Charming.”
“Look around you” Agnetha spluttered indignantly, “you live in absolute luxury, with a man who loves you, and servants to do your every bidding. If that’s not ‘happily ever after’, I don’t know what is!”
“Which is exactly the problem – this is your idea of happily ever after, not mine.”
“Then what is your idea of ‘happily ever after’? As I remember, not so long ago, you were weeping with despair over your evil stepmother, and longing for Charming.”
“I was only sixteen then” Ella answered miserably, “I’d been living under my stepmother’s oppressive rule for most of my life, and I thought that…well, I thought that if I married Charming, I’d be…free.”
Agnetha sighed. “You’re more free than before. You travel about in your royal carriage, you can eat as much as you like – you can buy anything your heart desires. I wish my life were half as good as yours.”
Ella gaped at her in surprise. “But…but you’re a fairy godmother. You have magical powers. You can go wherever you like – do whatever you like. You don’t have to ask anyone’s permission, not that they call it that” she explained bitterly, “they call it ‘looking after me’, but what they really mean is ‘making sure I don’t embarrass the royal family, by doing anything untoward.”
“But you do love Charming? Don’t you?” Agnetha questioned uneasily.
Ella looked away. “No.”
“I was infatuated with him. I thought he was the answer to my problems. And he was – well, you were, but I’ve only exchanged one tyrant for another.”
“Charming! A tyrant” Agnetha scoffed. “I’d kill to have a Prince Charming of my own.”
“Why don’t you just magic one up?”
“It doesn’t work like that” Agnetha sighed, “I can’t create people. Fairy Godmother work is lonely, and hard.”
“But you get to see the world-
“I’d rather have a family.”
“Why don’t you have one?”
“Fairy Godmothers are immortal; any lovers I find age before my eyes.”
“Well, I wish I was an immortal with magic of my own.”
“Well I wish I was a princess with a handsome prince!”
That night Prince Charming was startled by the change in his wife.
“I want to have babies with you” she informed him eagerly, “lots of babies”.
“What changed your mind?” he wanted to know.
“I had a little chat with my fairy godmother.”
Ella watched it all through her magic looking glass and felt not a twinge of regret. Swapping places with her fairy godmother had been the best decision of her life. Now she could have some fun!