by Melissa Mead
"On her sixteenth birthday, the princess shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die."
The other fairies stopped their one-upmanship to gape at their rival.
"That's true power, not giving silly gifts like beauty and charm," said the oldest fairy. "None of you can match that."
"I can try." The youngest fairy came forward, scattering the scent of roses over the sleeping infant. "The princess shall not die, but shall sleep for a hundred years."
Everyone in the room felt the enchantment snap into place. The other fairies, her rivals, looked at the youngest with new respect. But the oldest laughed. Her robes, stained and shadowed with a thousand ruthless choices, shook with mirth.
"Sleep for a hundred years! That shall sleep for a hundred years? Ha!"
She rent the air, and vanished.
For sixteen years, the young Fairy Rose-and-Thorn enjoyed her new standing among the Fae, while at the same time keeping watch for any sign that her old nemesis might try to undermine her christening gift by killing the princess before the fated birthday. Fairies (Evil ones, of course, not benevolent ones like Rose-and-Thorn) had done far worse to keep from losing face. At Rose-and-Thorn's urging, the King had all spindles in the kingdom burnt. Spinster women bewailed their lost livelihood, but they were only mortals, incapable of thinking on a larger scale.