The circumstances of how she become apprenticed to the Emerald Queene were a mystery to those around her, a mystery to herself. Dressed in lace and velvet, her hair still trailing in the braids she had worn when far younger, she could remember standing at the window of the old school, watching the sway of the dead tree far beyond the unclean glass and lattice iron as the wind plucked at its whispering branches; she recalled wishing herself away, wishing herself far from the old school and its crushing routine to a world where good witches ruled and dreams might come true, yet she could not remember the transition to such a place, nor could she remember her first introduction to that Emerald Queene, stately and noble, distant and lonely.
She understood that she was the apprentice and that Her Majesty, the Emerald Queene, was her mistress, yet when she turned her grey eyes to regard that other, her cinched dress of flowing black, her platform boots and cameo choker, she felt a queer sense of dissonance, of untowardness. Though Her Majesty came to her in the likeness of a woman of comparative age, she had long since gleaned that the Queene was far older, far older than any other girl she had crossed paths with at the near-forgotten lonely school.
Within the haunted corridors of the Emerald Queene’s castle, there were voices that whispered stories of her the faerie monarch’s past, of a terrible sadness that turned her hair raven black and stole the promise of joy from her heart. Dutifully, whilst in the service of the Queene, she paused when she heard tell of such tales, though in truth she never quite knew whether they were the voices of animals or ghosts.
It was told that the Queene, beautiful and cold, yearned to be touched, and, in the touching, to be replaced, and as the older woman had dressed her in bralette and panties, and disrobed and paraded in stockings and garter, serving wine to her youthful servant, she wondered if that was her function here in this place, if that was the reason for her being spirited away from the old school with its view of the dead tree in the tremulous wind.
In these moments when she was vulnerable before the Emerald Queene, that beauteous monarch would whisper instructions to her, would guide her movements and words, request of the girl that she be addressed as the mournful mistress, the fatal femme. In turn, the beautiful Queene would call her by strange epithets also; her moon child, her virtuous vixen.
Those were the moments she feared the most. She thought to herself that she could live with her instruction from that great volume that presided at the heart of her mistress’s library, that Memoir of Wicca, but the act of closeness between them, the act of being so defenceless before the Queene, so much like her and so very unlike her, that was what terrified her most.
When she looked into the Queene’s oblique green eyes, when she met her gaze, studied her pale complexion, the texture of her lips, the beauty spot that made her so distinct, there was the sense of a far greater mystery than how she had arrived in this place, how she had entered into the service of the Emerald Queene.
Once, the voices in the dusty hallways whispered, there had been another Queene, a woman with the likeness of that lonely ruler yet reflected, as if in a mirror, her beauty spot on the left rather than the right. The voices never told what happened to that other Queene, what her final fate might have been, but she felt that she did not need to ask. Perhaps she too was simply a reflection of a girl who waited elsewhere; perhaps she too was merely the shadow of another, living in service at the whims of the Emerald Queene for some purpose to which she would never be party to; perhaps there was old magic at work here, deep magic.
And so it was that in satin and sheer lace, she remained in servitude, the tattoo upon her right arm, the outline of a hound with its nose pushed close to that of a feline being the only reminder that she came from elsewhere, from another realm.
In the end, the circumstances of how she become apprenticed to the Emerald Queene were a mystery to those around her, a mystery to herself.