This isn’t about trying to prove anything to anyone, not anymore… This isn’t about me chasing after some boy… This isn’t about having hope… about me saving the one person who’s ever given a real crap about me. This is about keeping promises, about being a hero. My name? Stephanie Brown— I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again—
I noticed you don’t have any mirrors around here.
And what’s that supposed to mean?
They do not speak of the day that the children were stolen, or the day that the troldfolk came out of the woods. They do not speak of the woman who gave their children away.
Humans are not afraid of iron, but they are afraid of death, and that is why they are weak. There is blood and earth and glory underneath her fingernails, Norway rests beneath the toe of her boot. They killed the changelings, because of her, on the day that the children were stolen, and they are waiting, because they heard a story once that ended happily, but their children will never come back.
What happened next was not her fault. She spared them war, at least, though they did not have their children’s bodies, and gave them new stories to tell, about the cold girl— the hjerteløs en —in her cold fortress who governed their lands for a price that still reeked of spilled blood.
They say that she is beautiful, and terrible, and cruel. That she is married to a changeling— a troldfolk —because she did not let him die. They say that he belongs to her. Norway belongs to her, too, but she did not have to feed her heart to the earth to make it so. Magisk er konge.
There is blood on her hands, but what happened next was not her fault.