It is probably not possible for a
magical mirror to sulk. The mirror achieved an impressive sulk with
vocal tones alone.
“Once. I told you my name once
and you never let it go!”
rescued you from the garbage bin my mother threw you in.”
you’ve used me ever since to spy on anyone who enters your rooms
and through other mirrors for
have. But magic has a price, and mirrors seven years of one. I am not
a fool, Boris.”
never said you were, O Queen.”
that slide. Magic mirrors were old, some said they were older than
mirrors. I had never asked what Boris had been before becoming a
mirror. The chances were I’d never want to know. “Very well.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” I
the baker’s apprentice on Drury Lane.”
one who makes the famous muffins?”
same my lady.”
walked out of my quarters. My mother had been directed to a girl who
had never harmed anyone as being more fair than her. She’d had the
girl killed, and died in the resulting revolution. There had been
other reasons, and my mother had not been a good person. There are
dwarves still in the prison – two left, I’ve been told – who
had their tongues, eyes and teeth removed when Mother became queen.
the queen, of course, but the council has all the power. It will not
last, this brief fancy. In time I will truly be Queen, or my
daughter, or her daughter. One is not a monarch if one cannot see
far. If my mother taught me anything, it is that power is the
exercise of restraint. What the week do, the powerful do not. No one
can hurt the queen with words, for a Queen is above such things. Not
that those who slight me escape, but the principle is important.
are. To rule is to understand the power of words.
the gardens. A few people bow. Many nod respectfully. It is not
illegal to bow. I am just a voice on the Council, no more than any
other. But everyone remembers that I am the Queen even if they say
queen. Power is only a smart part of the crown. but many who held it
did not understand that.
laugh softly, and return to my quarters. “Mirror. Pray tell me:
what did you mean by fairest?”
mirror flashed white. For a moment I did not see my face at all in
it. Then it spoke: “He is the fairest in the land at portioning out
flour. He cheats no one.”
the girl my mother killed?”
was kind. The fairest and gentlest person in the kingdom.”
many queens have you killed, with these different definitions of
the mirror admitted.
not ask why. It was not important, the why of being a murderer, a
monster. All that mattered was what one was,
not what led to it. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the
fairest mirror in all the land?”
Boris said, and cracks spider-webbed along the mirror. He screamed
them, called me names no one had dared. Some in languages I’d never
heard of. I watched the mirror break apart, wondering how many years
of bad luck Boris had now.
I swept the pieces up and burned them in the forge in the dungeons. One of
the dwarves watched me, despite having no eyes. I had no idea if he
was happy or not.