Fairy Godmothers, Inc_ - By Jenniffer Wardell


Some Enchanted Dragon

Fairy Godmother Rule Number One: Never argue with a client. As long as someone’s willing to pay for them, dancing elephants, solid-gold princes, and fifty-foot-high stacks of down-filled mattresses are perfectly fine requests. And never, under any circumstances, point out when a client is being an idiot.

“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid there’s been some confusion.” Shifting forward to find a slightly less uncomfortable position for her wings, Kate tried to keep her voice polite as she thought terribly insulting things about the woman sitting across from her. “Finding a nobleman who’s been enchanted into a dragon isn’t really going to be an option for your granddaughter. There’s an unspoken rule among evil witches and sorcerers not to use a curse to transform someone into a member of an already sentient species—it’s seen as an insult to be considered a ‘curse’ in the same light as a frog or a cow. The species rights groups get upset and lawyers show up. The last case that went to court ended up dragging on for years.”

“Don’t be absurd.” The Dowager Queen Beatrice of Nearby waved one of her delicately veined hands. “Any nobleman truly up to snuff would insist on a dragon form—nothing else is suitably dignified.”

She and Kate were sitting in the queen’s Lesser Purple Receiving Room designated for the queen’s meetings with tradesmen and poor relations. The hard-as-rock chairs made Kate think longingly of the ergonomic desk chair with special wing cutaway back at her cubicle.

“Not that I intend to settle for just any nobleman, Katie. It has to be royalty of some sort—a king, a prince, or however those foreigners refer to their royalty.” The queen pursed her lips a moment, considering. “Though I would have to personally meet any foreigners you suggested. None of this multiple wife nonsense for my little muffin, no matter how many genies he might have working for him.”

Not bothering to correct what had to be the fifteenth “Katie” in the last twenty minutes, Kate waited for the old woman to finish, and rephrased, “I assure you that multiple wives won’t be an issue, Queen Beatrice. We check on that during the interview process for all cursed nobles in our database, and those who meet your conditions end up in an optional category that’s not a part of the particular wish-fulfillment package you selected. Unfortunately, the closest thing to a cursed dragon that Fairy Godmothers, Inc. is even aware of is a large lizard we eliminated from the database a few years ago. He was . . .” What had the phrase on the memo been? “. . . ‘freer with his tongue than he should have been,’ and we kept getting complaints.”

The queen stared at her blankly, apparently deciding she hadn’t heard anything that required a response. Kate sighed, green eyes closing for a few seconds as her wing muscles knotted just a little bit tighter. “Also, your granddaughter isn’t insured for kissing dragons,” she said tiredly, adapting the excuse the company had given them to keep any enchanted swords off the list. “There’s too much of a risk that she’d be bitten, and the company refuses to be liable for the lifetime illusion spell the girl would have to wear to hide the resulting scar.”

“Scar!” Horror at the thought did wonders for focusing Beatrice’s attention. “I can’t let my dear girl be subjected to that. What would she do with herself?”

“Of course, you can’t,” Kate said soothingly. “Luckily, the company has several other enchanted nobles to choose from.” She forced a salesman’s smile back onto her face as she turned to her enchanted mirror and quickly accessed the company’s Enchanted Nobility Database (patent pending). After six years at Fairy Godmothers, Inc., she’d accepted the fact that sometimes flattering an idiot into agreeing with you was the only way to keep from killing yourself out of frustration. “Okay then, let’s start from the top . . .”

Two—maybe twelve—hours later, Kate officially gave up.

“This is Eduardo de Esteban San Castillo the third, only heir to the Duke of Castillo. He enjoys fencing, riding, long walks on the beach, and generally being dashing. He is currently enjoying life as a pig, due to undisclosed activities involving the youngest niece of a mystical old woman.” A company survey had shown that young female relatives of mystical old women were the number one reason royals ended up in the database, but Kate had learned long ago to keep little factoids like that to herself.

Beatrice wrinkled her nose