My Reflection

In the heart of the White City at the twilight hour, a lone figure stood on an ornamental bridge looking down at her flickering reflection in an equally ornamental lily pond. Everything in this immaculately manicured garden was ornamental, there solely to look pretty and impress visitors with the splendour of the Holy City. Look at me, everything seemed to be saying. Aren't I beautiful? Don't you wish you could have me? The girl on the bridge didn't much care for the lovely garden and what it represented. It was all so ... superficial.

Look at me,

She sighed and returned to contemplating her reflection.

I will never pass for a perfect bride

A marriage offer had come for her today. Her father, thank the gods, had refused it. She shuddered at the thought of being traded off, just another token to make another petty king feel important. Just another ornament ... ugh. I will never let myself sink that low.

Or a perfect daughter

When she was younger, she had hung on to every word of her father's lectures on a monarch's duty to her people, on nobility and honour. It had seemed like a fine idea to her then, ruling justly and protecting the defenseless. It still did, actually, but now that she knew more of the reality, of the political backstabbing and the currying for favour and how godsdamned little a monarch could actually do? Let father believe his self-made illusions. I know better now.

Can it be, I'm not meant to play this part?

I hate this life, she thought. I'm sick of pretending.

Now I see, if I were to truly be myself

Cast off the illusions, a voice seemed to be saying to her. Break the chains that hold you to this narrow life. It's not what you want, is it? So why stick with it?

I would break my family's heart.

Her father would be confused. He couldn't see that she was stifling to death in this glittering world of falsehoods. Her mother, had that lady still walked among the living, would have been scandalized. But then, her mother had always been a dutiful wife and queen, doing whatever was expected of her without ever questioning why.

The girl felt a brief pang of guilt when she thought of her sister, but she put it away. Amelia still believed their father's senseless prattle about Justice and fairness. If she ever became disillusioned, she too could run away. And maybe her own flight would open Amelia's eyes. If not, she would be an excellent Queen for the people of Sairuun.

Who is that girl I see?

She stared at her mirror image, feeling sickened at what she saw. Not me? This creature in a pretentious, girly-girl dress, with elaborately arranged hair and just-perfect makeup, this ... this shallow Court flower -- this was not her. Never, so long as I can help it.

Staring straight back at me?

Hard, dark eyes, the only true thing in that whole false image, bored into her. Challenging her.

Why is my reflection someone I don't know?

"I reject you," she said softly to her reflection. "You, and all that you stand for. I do not know you; you are not me."

Somehow I cannot hide who I am, though I've tried

She had tried the life that Fate had seen her born into. In the end, no matter how she tried, she could not fit that mold. Nor did she want to, anymore. "No more."

When will my reflection show who I am inside?

Smiling, Gracia ul Naga de Sairuun turned away from the reflection that was not her and walked out of her time as the future Crown Princess of Sairuun.

Years later, Naga the White Serpent stood before the mirror and stared at the lush, scantily-clad woman she beheld in there. She found that she had to look away. Unnoticed, a tear made it's way slowly down her cheek.

When will my reflection show who I am inside?