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Another flash fiction for my writer's group.
I am the witch now, and you are right to be afraid.
What they all seem to forget, when they retell the tale of my ascension to the throne on those cold winter nights, is that I spent years in the land of the Fey being raised by those three old dames. On my sixteenth birthday I pricked my finger on the spindle of a wheel and fell asleep for a hundred years, yes. But you must remember: by that time a hundred years was nothing to me. I was as immortal on my sixteenth birthday as I am today. You see, a death curse from an evil fairy cannot be so easily averted. If a spell like that is thwarted, it changes you. She made me, that other witch. Sometimes I think I should thank her.
I know the tale as well as you do. They say it was out of pity that the good fairy made me immortal, but I know the Fey better than that. She turned a baby girl into a weapon on that bright July morning. The war in Fairyland is unending, you see. Summer against Winter, dark against light, midnight against dawn. They both win in their cycles. That is the way of things. But I was a summer child, and while I slept and that forest of thorn grew around me, it was summer then. It will always be summer while I rule. A thousand years, I have kept this kingdom warm. The skies are always blue here, and the grass is always green. Since I married the prince who became king, none of his subjects have ever been hungry or cold. You blame him now, and curse him in the streets. But he knew what was right. He knew the good of the many outweighs the good of the few.
They say the wicked fairy was slighted by my royal parents. I tell you she cared nothing for my parents. The people who tell the tales know nothing of queens who rule for a thousand years and never age past sixteen. They know nothing of power, how to get it or how to balance it. They cannot know what it is like to keep the winter at your back. Sometimes I think I should just let it come for you, for all of you. I should let the world freeze and the wolves howl at your windows for your ingratitude. The winter fairies are angry now. If I let them in, you see, they’ll kill you all. No furs will keep the ice from your bones, no fire will be strong enough to keep you warm. The end of me would be the end of your happiness.
I know I frighten you, with my youthfulness and my magics. They say this plague that comes every ten years is my fault, and they are right. Nothing good can come without sacrifice. In this kingdom when the plague comes, the old, the very young, the sick, those will die to feed me. But the strong will live. You are young and strong. You are a hero in the lands of men. No harm will come to you, lad, or those like you. But if the winter comes, you will die. You will all die.
I am the monster that protects you. The witch who makes your crops grow, who keeps you all warm. Put away the sword.
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