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An apple at bay

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“Oh, Mirror, Mirror, on the wall?” The Queen drawled lusciously, leaning forward to inspect her fingernails uninvestedly. The magic mirror hummed as a face rippled into view, the face of a middle aged man, his face well groomed beside the bushy mustache.

“My Queen.” The mirror greeted, his bodiless head nodding in acknowledgement. “What is it that you require?”

The Queen, Victoria, inhaled deeply before rising from her chair and ambling towards the vanity holding the mirror. Her long blonde hair was done up in a loose, braided bun, strands falling precariously. She was a beautiful woman, there was no denying of that, but her beauty held a dangerous quality. Her husband, the King, had died mere months prior, yet she did not mourn. The people of the kingdom grew suspicious when she took the crown rather than it falling to the King’s son. They believed her to have killed the King for his kingdom. They believed correctly.

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall.” Her sultry voice wove slowly through the space. “Who is the fairest of them all?” She held a wine glass in hand, swirling the mixture about before lifting the glass to her lips. 
 The man in the mirror seemed nervous, not immediately answering the Queen’s question. The glass in Victoria’s hand stilled, her shapely eyebrow arching curiously.

“Mirror?”

“You are a breathtaking woman, my Queen—“ The man rattled off nervously, his eyes shifty and wide.

“Mirror.” She growled.

“You know, no woman compares to your beauty—“

“No woman?” The Queen whirled about, facing the squeamish mirror. Her gaze was laced with accusation, putting the head’s rant to a staggering halt. Silence hung over the chamber like a venomous fog, the only noise being the click of Victorias’s heels as she approached him. “What do you mean, no woman?”

“There is one, ma’am.” The mirror gulped, “One more fair.”

“Who?” She snarled calmly, her eyes pinched like a snakes.

“Madame, there is only one! You are otherwise unchallenged and I, personally—“

“I asked, who?” The Queen roared.

“Napoleon.” The mirror whimpered.

The room went dead silent.

Victoria stood frozen as the words of the mirror cascaded over her. Her mouth hung agape, words having suddenly failed her.

“Solo?” She whispered, her voice cracking.

“Yes, madame.”

“He is…” She breathed, a fire burning in her eyes, “better…than me…” The grip on her wine glass tightened with every word, before the expensive challace shattered into a million diamond pieces, skittering across the tile floor.

“My Queen, I beg of you, do not do something you will regret.” He begged, watching as she shakily turned towards the chamber door, hand unclenching to let the glass shards embedded in her flawless skin fall to the floor. Effortlessly, she flung the doors wide and marched out into the foyer.

“Guards!” She screeched, her voice booming powerfully. Within minutes, three guards had entered the hall at her request, now standing alert. She studied them all in turn, deciding upon the smallest to use as her pawn.

“You,” She pointed at the guard, whom nodded curtly, “stay. The rest of you, leave.” The other guards bowed in respect and made their leave in the directions from which they came. Victoria eyed the remaining guard quizzically, pacing about her quickly, like a fox circling the prone figure of a rabbit.

“Your name, guard?” She asked in a sickly sweet, calm tone.

“Gaby Teller, ma’am.”

“Do you serve me above all else, Gaby?”

“Of course, my Queen.” Gaby resisted the urge to question why the Queen felt need to question her loyalty. To question the loyalty of a royal guard was usually a sign of a task at hand. Sure enough,

“Would you kill for me, Gaby?” She stopped pacing, standing stiffly behind the shorter woman’s shoulder. “No matter who I asked you to kill?”

The young woman gulped, her palms growing sweaty. Her father came to mind, his forty years of service for the King before his disappearance. It had only been two months since he had last been seen, coincidentally, one month after the King had married Victoria, and one month before the King’s death. Even the guards had their suspicions of the new Queen, but her father would have never shied from a royal order. Never.

“Of course, my Queen.” A wicked smirk spread across Victoria’s face, sending shivers down Gaby’s spine. She looked like a wolf.

“Tomorrow before sundown, you will meet someone at the edge of the forrest and accompany them out into the woods—far enough for no one to hear you. Then, you will kill them, bury them, and return to the castle. As far as anyone, myself included, is concerned, nothing will have ever taken place.” Victoria turned her back on the guard, Gaby’s eyes trailing down the angular sculpt of her pointed shoulders.

“May I ask whom I am to kill, my Queen?” Gaby croaked, fighting down the budding paranoia.

“Can I rely on you for this, young Gaby?”

She paused for a moment, going over the choices in her mind. She had no choice though, she would do it; if nothing else, for her father.

“Yes, ma’am, you can.”

Victoria smiled wickedly over her shoulder before sauntering forward to the doors of the chamber, preparing to close them behind herself.

“His name is Napoleon Solo.”

The doors slammed shut.