La Riposte

Happily Ever After (Preview)

I knew she was trouble the minute I set eyes on her; sweet, lovely, guileless, and reeking of magic. The horses, the carriage – even her dress could have been explained away by a good fortune and a better seamstress, but glass slippers? Really? If there’s one thing that sets my nerves on edge, it’s magic. But I was far less worried about her fantastic footwear than her obviously common background. You can take the slattern out of the scullery, but you can’t take the scullery out of the slattern. All this, unfortunately, appears to have been lost on my darling son. Frederick is clearly smitten, and believe me, I know it when I see it. I’ve been in deep smit before. That was years ago, when I little more than a girl. I remember sitting by the well in my parents’ garden, shortly before the tragic circumstances that put me on the throne. I was casting pebbles, and seeking to divine my fortune from the patterns in the ripples, when I heard it – that raspy, croaking whisper – “Help me…” The whisper emanated from a frog, or, to be more accurate, a toad. Now, I know, these days your run-of-the-mill princess would have thrown up her soft white hands and squealed in terror, but then, I’ve never exactly been your average anything, and besides, princesses in those days had a bit of spine, and weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, which was exactly what happened when I fished the miserable beast out of the muck and listened to its sad tale of being trapped in a toad’s form by an evil witch. That was also back when I was considerably more naïve; these days, I’d have been quick to question exactly why the witch had seen fit to imprison him in that fleshy prison, as most so-called witches that I’ve met haven’t struck me as particularly evil - just pragmatic, calculating, and perhaps a bit lacking in physical beauty. Ah, well, we can’t all be blessed with my genetics, can we? Come to think of it, most witches are rather soft-hearted, in my opinion, always leaving the victims of their curses with loopholes through which to escape, loopholes usually involving nothing more interesting than a bit of gentle kissing. Yes, soft-hearted, and not particularly kinky… But I digress.