This should be more understandable if you’ve seen Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Enjoy! 😀

—~

 

The pieces were falling into place. Excellent.

Flora sighed and leaned back in her chair, rubbing her eyes. It was long after hours, and a single blue-white light shone above her desk. Everybody else in the office had long since gone home, even the nighttime janitors, who had come and gone without her noticing. She had spent the last silent hours hunched over her desk, the only sounds coming from her keyboard as she typed furiously and the papers she would sporadically stop to shuffle. Now, as she placed her hands firmly on the edge of her desk, finally surveying all she had accomplished tonight, the tension of the past few days threatened to catch up with her and devour her like a hungry wolf, but once again she steeled herself, telling herself that she should at least get home. It was not over, far from it; but at least she had done all she could, all they could, at least for now. The dates and precise times were set; all security details were in place; every foreseeable liability had been eliminated; all the higher-ups had given all systems go. The operation was to be launched tomorrow, and mostly thanks to her, Flora, it would be ready. She had been the one to stay in the office after hours for almost every single night since the mission began; it was she who had conceived of it in the first place. Indeed, as the day of launch had drawn nearer and nearer, Flora had reached a kind of frantically focussed demeanor which did not allow her to sleep but only to check, double check, plan, and make sure everything was going according to plan. Now it was ready.

Not, admitted Flora to herself, as she used her desk to push herself up to a standing position, that the others hadn’t given it their best. They, too, had stayed after hours, but not as long or often as she had. They had been the ones on the ground, planting equipment and guiding the subjects along. They were the ones carrying out their vision for sixteen years as agents of the secret mission. For this was not a routine strike. No, it was a large-scale offensive that was, they fervently hoped, to win the fight once and for all, a final preemptive attack that was to obliterate the opposition entirely. Flora ached as she gathered her things, but the pain was dulled with the knowledge that anything that could be done was done, and with the wild anticipation of the next day—just a few hours from now. Flora clicked off her desk light and headed home.

* * *

Fauna and Merriweather were still awake, of course, when Flora came home. How could they have slept, with thoughts of Operation Breaking Dawn racing through their heads? They had both been absentmindedly sitting at the kitchen table; they both glanced up and watched Flora with worried looks as she joined them.

‘Management should change the lighting in that place,’ Flora sighed at last. ‘Those horrible fluorescent bulbs are bad for my eyes.’

‘You’re on the management, dear,’ Fauna gently reminded her. ‘Perhaps you should magic the lights to a more pleasant color?’

Flora groaned. ‘I could, but it’s so difficult constantly concentrating on the lights when I’m trying to work on Op BD. If only we had another fairy in the place…’

Merriweather thought to herself that she would love to be assigned to the post of magicking the lights all day, and doing nothing but that, but she didn’t say anything out loud. ‘Yes, please,’ she said when Fauna offered to boil some tea for them.

Flora rubbed her eyes again.

‘Flora,’ said Merriweather earnestly, ‘whatever’s left to do has been done. I know you’re still worrying about it.’ She reached across the table and put her hand on Flora’s. ‘But at this point, there’s nothing more you can do. So please don’t drive yourself crazy.’

Flora smiled, because she knew that Merriweather was being a bit hypocritical. Most likely none of them would sleep well tonight.

Presently Fauna returned with the tea. ‘Perhaps we should review, just quickly, what’s going to happen?’ she suggested daintily. ‘Just so we’re all on the same page; I know it would help me feel better.’

Flora breathed in the steam from her tea. ‘Right,’ she began. ‘At four o’clock tomorrow the Prince will ride through the forest and meet the Princess. We must send her out at three so she will be sure to meet him. We have planted our magic forcefields in the ground already to insure that they will both follow the right paths, yes? Good. When the Princess comes home we will inform her of her true identity, and bring her to the palace. Hopefully by then she will be in love with the Prince. Merriweather, you’ve been slipping love-thoughts into both of their sleep for several weeks now.’ Merriweather nodded solemnly.

‘And I’ve been planting subliminal images of the Prince around the house, so the Princess should recognize him that way,’ Fauna added helpfully.

Flora smiled at her. ‘Good. Anything helps. Tomorrow night we will take her to the castle, where she will fall under Mallificent’s spell. If all goes according to plan, the Prince will try and rescue her, killing Mallificent in the process—killing—killing Evil, once and for all,’ she finished with a shaky note of awe in her voice.

Fauna was practically squeaking with excitement. ‘I’ve the Sword of Truth and the Shield of Virtue already; they arrived in the mail today.’

‘And not a moment too soon,’ Flora muttered darkly. ‘About time they got around to it.’

There was a pause, and Merriweather, who had been conspicuously silent during the briefing, could not stand it any more.

‘Oh!’ she cried suddenly. ‘I just don’t understand! I just—don’t understand why!’

‘Why what, dear?’ Fauna asked gently. Flora glared at both of them.

‘I just don’t understand why we have to use Love!’ Merriweather exploded. ‘Love’s disputed territory, and if we use it, I just think that’s a lot of risk and how do we—‘

‘That’s enough,’ Flora interrupted coldly. ‘That is the plan and that is how we are going to see it through.’

Her words hung like icicles in a sudden shocked silence. Fauna looked into her tea while Merriweather and Flora held each other’s hostile gazes.

Suddenly, Flora melted. ‘Good hired us for this job,’ she explained, ‘because of our work with Cinderella last year.’ All three of them knew that what she really wanted to say was, Good hired me for my work with Cinderella last year, but Merriweather was grateful she hadn’t brought that up this time. ‘We used Love then—‘

‘And it was just as risky!’

‘—but it worked, didn’t it? Another small victory for Good. This one will be another one, hopefully the ultimate, because this time we’re fighting Mallificent, and she’s one of them, employed by Evil. We’re fighting Evil directly this time, and we need all the help we can get.’ Flora reached for Merriweather’s hand. ‘Even if that means using Love like it’s ours. And it will be ours,’ she added knowingly, ‘once we win.’

Merriweather sighed and looked away. She probably just felt the usual guilt about always having to use the mortals as pawns in their battles, and not even their battles; it was always between Good and Evil, never the fairies themselves—mortals were the pawns of pawns—but what could she do. She was the most junior officer and that was just the way things were done around here.

The three officers finished their tea and went to bed, for the last time in the little cottage. On the way to their bedroom, they passed the bedroom of their temporary ward, the Princess: sleeping in her bed, she lay blissfully unaware of her essential role in Good’s elaborate plan to defeat Evil. And she would never know; that was part of the plan. She must never be made aware of the sides she unknowingly served and was made to fight against, or the plans might crash apart like an eggshell. So ordered the higher-ups, at least, at Good.

The three officers slept fitfully, dreaming of all things that could go wrong with the operation, and set Good back at least sixteen years.

Flora was awake as the sun peeped over the horizon. Operation Breaking Dawn had begun.

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