The morning of Princess Alexandra’s coronation, her mother woke her before the maids did. Moonlight was still filtering through the windows. “What’re you doing here so early?” Princess Alexandra pulled the covers over her head.

“I thought you would be awake. I wasn’t able to sleep the night of my coronation.”

“And you’ve decided I shouldn’t sleep either?”

“No.” The queen looked over her shoulder. “There’s something you should know before becoming Queen.”

“It won’t be easy? I know. Goodnight.”

“Alexandra.”

The princess sat up, and the queen took her hand. “You have lived your life half in our world and half in your own world. Your father and I have kept you safe, but once you become Queen, we won’t be able to protect you. You’re a good person, but you’ll have hard choices to make.”

“I know.”

“You don’t. Sometimes there is no compromise.”

Princess Alexandra shook her head. “The world isn’t black and white. There’s always middle ground.”

The Queen squeezed Alexandra’s hands. “Believing that will make you weak. In less than twelve hours, the fate of the kingdom will be passed onto you. Don’t screw it up.”

***

Everyone in the kingdom who could afford to flocked to the palace grounds to watch Princess Alexandra become Queen. Towers of roses were created for the occasion, and there were rumors about a feast afterwards. Chatter died down as the royal guard marched across the garden in an arrowhead formation pointing towards a raised platform built for the occasion. The king led his family up onto the platform. “Good afternoon! Today a princess becomes a queen.”

Princess Alexandra stepped forward and knelt before her father and the people. A few members of the audience whispered to each other, pointing fingers at the stony face of Queen Claudia. The king took the silver tiara from his daughter and replaced it with Queen Claudia’s gold crown. “All hail, Queen Alexandra.”

The audience bowed. “All hail, Queen Alexandra.”

The new queen rose. “I have a small speech to commemorate this moment, my first speech as Queen. I believe that the world is a mix of good and bad and that people are not exclusively one or the other. I was told that before I could stand before you as your queen, that I would have to choose between a rock and a hard place. I was told that there is no common ground, that I would have to pick a side. Queen Claudia has put these personal, divisive beliefs above the good of the kingdom. I will not do the same.”

Fiction

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