[read the prequel, "white queen, red heart"] (scroll down for part 2) the first baby is born in may, and dies in his sleep. the second does not make it to term. the third lives for a year before an unknown illness claims him. the queen pricks her finger on a needle: old magic. blood on snow on an ebony windowsill. the wind carries the contract, and the woods accept. blood now must be repaid with blood later, but the fourth baby is a girl, and she lives. she grows slowly, and
beauty is not the only weapon women have. "please," mary says, and her father kisses her too-large forehead. runs his hand along her puffy cheeks. there isn't any one thing, not any single marker of her ugliness, only individual parts that don't seem to fit together right. lumps where straight lines should be, pocks along her chin, eyes that were too bright and too big and yet still not considered striking. he kisses her and holds her and says, "no."
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