A NEW ORIENTATION
You know the saying 'The more things change, the more they stay the same'? So not True. Sometimes the more things change, the more they really change. Take me for example: Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen. You see, at Ever After High, we study to be the next generation of fairytales. Whoever your parent was, that's who you will be. Apple White is going to be the next Snow White. Briar Beauty is going to be the next Sleeping Beauty. Cedar Wood is going to be the next Pinocchio. Our "wise" Headmaster Grimm calls it our "storybook destiny". And, lucky me, my destiny is the next Evil Queen.
So am I supposed to smile like the Cheshire Cat because I get to be most feared villain in fairytale history? I'm not evil! I don't even like squishing spiders! And now I'm expected to give a poisoned apple to Apple White? But, as my mom used to say, "We all have a role to play." She had to be the Evil Queen, and now so do I... Or do I? The truth is the script is flipped
and it's my fault. You know what's wicked crazy? It's the best thing that ever happened to me. Let me explain from the beginning.
Our "Book-to-School" Orientation was the week before the classes started, and the Charmitorium was packed with everyone just telling tales about their summers. But there was also another story being told. There was hexcitement in the air, because this year everyone was going to pledge their destinies to the Storybook of Legends during Legacy Day.
I sat next to Madeline Hatter, my best friend forever after. Maddie, like so many, couldn't wait for her first chapter to begin. Not me though. I was dreading this year. I didn't want to be the Evil Queen. But what choice did I have? Suddenly, a voice boomed:
It was our headmaster, Milton Grimm. Not to be an evil drama queen, but what-ever-after! All he cares about was the "Royal" crowd. $$$ You know, all those princesses whose stories end with "and they lived happily ever after".
Anyways, Headmaster Grimm gave this big speech about how we are all destined for greatness. In other words, we were stuck with our future fairytales, whether we liked it or not.
The Headmaster finally Finished and left in a blow-the-house-down display of phoenix fireworks and dragon smoke.
They split us into story groups for our yearly tour. The "Royals" were escorted to their damsel-in-distress tower. Maddie skipped to Professor Rumplestiltskin's group of quirky characters, no doubt to learn wicked awesome things like riddles and potions. I was grouped with the Wonderland Princess Lizzie Hearts and other "villains", including a goblin and ogre named Mocky and Rugsy, who stared at me like I was a famous spellebrity. Royally uncomfortable! Our scary, hairy professor Mr. Badwolf snarled, "You will follow me."
He took us down to the dank, musty confines of the cauldron room, where we would learn the toil and trouble of poison making. I heard the goblin and ogre whispering. They were still staring at me! Throughout the tour, they would not stop eyeballing me. By the time we got down to the deepest dungeon, I lost it.
The goblin gleefully clapped. "Isn't her fury magnificent, Rugsy?" Rugsy bellowed his thoughts, "FURY!"
"That," Mr. Badwolf growled, "was quite a huff and a puff." I tried to stammer an apology, but he continued, "You're off to a good start. But class hasn't started yet, your evilness." I thought I was going to be sick.
When the tour ended,
and I finally got rid of Mocky and Rugsy I walked to my dorm room and saw the names "Raven Queen" and "Madeline Hatter" on the door. I couldn't believe my eyes! Maddie was my roommate! She's fun, funny and totally nonjudgmental. She doesn't care if I'm supposed to be the Evil Queen, the White Queen, or the queen bee!
I opened the door, and Maddie threw her arms around me and handed me a huge cup of tea — just what I needed to make me feel better! We chatted about our tours. Maddie always knew I hated being evil, even when mom rewarded me for being bad. She wanted to cheer me up. That's the magic of Maddie. We played "If I Didn't", a wonderlandiful rhyming game I just love. I can imagine what I would do if life was different. It was my turn, "If I didn't sleep in a bed..."
"I would nap in warm bread!" Maddie fell over laughing at her answer. It was her turn, "Okay.. okay... If I didn't have to be the Evil Queen..." I was stunned. If I didn't have to be the Evil Queen, what would I be? Yeah my destiny is a curse, but I never even thought about being anything else. It's not like I had a choice, right? "I don't know."
"Yay! I win! Let's play again!" Maddie was the best roommate. Unfortunately, thanks to Apple, that would soon end.
The thought of not being the Evil Queen kept me up all night. The more I thought about it, I felt mother-goosebumps on the back of my neck. It's the way of fairytales to follow in your parent's fabled footsteps, but I truthfully never wanted to be a bad guy. I always wanted to make the world happier.
When I was a little girl, I would cast spells to make flowers burst into butterflies! Then one day my magic just didn't work right, and instead the flowers would burst into flames.
Ever since then, my magic backfires whenever I use it for good. Like the time I tried to rescue the neighbor's cat from a tree. Instead of gently easing it down, the tree flung the cat across the neighborhood. I thought I was in trouble, but my mom beamed with pride. She said "black magic" was expected from me, and rewarded me with a shopping trip for new spiked black shoes and a coat of infinite darkness. Even though I loved my new outfit, I felt horrible for what I did. In fact, the only times I did get in trouble was when I was nice.
I finally fell asleep, wishing that there was some way to change my destiny.
My advisor Baba Yaga's office is really hard to get into. It has chicken legs, and is usually running. You first have to find her office, then chase it, and then find a way to jump to the steps. For some reason, she doesn't find it strange. Exhausted, I knocked on her door. "Do come in, Ms. Queen." Madam Yaga handed me my schedule and asked if I had any questions. General Villiany, Home Evilnomics, Magicology, History of Evil Spells and Witchness Management. Ugh! "Don't I have any choice in what classes I want to take?" The words just slipped out.
She looked hard at me for what felt like forever. "You know perfectly well it is school policy to take the classes best suited for your destiny," she finally broke her stare, "However, you may choose one class of your own, Ms. Queen."
I didn’t need to think twice. "Muse-ic." It's traditionally a class for only princesses, but singing always set me free.
She thought for another long, awkward, silent moment. "I will inform Professor Pied Piper immediately. I expect no more talk of choice. We are clear?" I nodded. "Now, go to the library to receive your hextbooks."
Did she know?
I arrived at the library, and there was Maddie hexstatically bouncing. She was going on and on about something that I needed to see, but nobody could find. Maddie sometimes slips into this weird way of talking. She guided me through the library to a secret door she found. Maddie knocked a playful rhythm, and with a FLASH! we were suddenly surrounded by a ring of ancient, dusty books.
"Maddie... where are we?" Her response was typically calm, "He calls it the Vault of Lost Tales."
"Who is 'he'?"
"The Master Librarian, Giles Grimm. I think he's the Headmaster's brother. He has something important to tell you," Maddie sang, "But he only speaks Riddlish."
"I'm sorry, what?"
"Riddlish, the riddle language of Wonderland, my home. The Librarian's not-home," Like I said, Maddie can have this weird way of talking.
"Oh look, there he is."
Buried under piles of books was the most grizzled old man I ever saw in my life. His eyes darted back and forth across the pages of a large tome. "Flipping flapjacks ripping rust! Cutting corners dawn to dust!"*
*Translated from Riddlish by Madeline Hatter: "I'm Frustrated! How many books do I need to read?"
From there began the oddest conversation in history. Maddie and the Master Librarian rhymed about rabbit's feet, tapping toes, and so much more head-spinning nonsense. I had no idea what was going on when the Librarian pointed at me and said,
"On a wing with a rose, on a chair if it chose, with a puppy and pig in its pocket."
Maddie twirled me around,
"Raven! A puppy and pig in its pocket! A puppy and pig in its pocket!"
"Maddie, I don't understand!"
"Oh sorry! I forgot you don't speak Riddlish."
Maddie explained the story that would change me forever. According to the Librarian, if I pledge to create my own Happily Ever After I will be free to write my own story.
Could it be true? My entire life I thought I had to be the Evil Queen. Did I dare to hope to discover what I want to be? We've been told we have to follow our destinies, no matter what. If I flipped the script, what would happen? And what would people think? All it takes is one person to curse everyone else's destinies.
But maybe... just maybe... there were others who wanted a chance to write their own Happily Ever After.