Christopher sits opposite a slender girl with snow-white skin, long ebon tresses, and blood-red lips, dressed in a purple gown trimmed with red ribbons.
Christopher: A pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty. Or should I call you Your Highness?
Briar: (smiles) Why do I feel like you’re more intimidated by me than you were by Oriana? She was a queen once, too.
Christopher: I’m not sure. There’s something…awe-inspiring…about you.
Briar: Thank you, but there’s no need for titles. Not here. Not now. Please call me Briar.
Christopher: Thank you. I will…Briar. That’s the name Princess Rose gave you in Fairest, isn’t it?
Briar: Yes. In Quartz’s story, Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins, I’m still known as Princess Blanche, but I’ve come to hate that name. I’m trying to escape from her, the princess I once was and everything she used to love.
Christopher: That’s why you ended up in the Forest of Tears on the seven dwarves’s doorstep.
Briar: They were so good to me, especially Quartz. Quartz became the father I wish my own had been. I didn’t realize how much Quartz and I had in common, as far as matters of the heart were concerned.
Christopher: Meaning you both had jealous admirers?
Briar: Jealous admirers with flawed hearts. I saw mine at her most monstrous. There were too many similarities between Nimmie Not and Oriana. I judged the former unfairly, tainted by own experiences, yet I wasn’t entirely wrong.
Christopher: I’m guessing you and Nimmie Not meet in Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins. I’m also guessing you don’t get along.
Briar: I was living in what Nimmie Not saw as his cottage, despite the fact that he gave it to Quartz and his brothers. Living there without his consent, stealing a piece of Quartz’s heart, which Nimmie Not was already quite possessive of. I’m not sure if he ever forgave me for that.
Christopher: No, I doubt he would.
Briar: Not that our mutual antipathy was all his fault. The similaries I saw in Nimmie Not to Oriana re-awakened an anger in me, an anger I’d been trying hard to quench. I saw danger in this creature, so intent on possessing my father’s heart. Nimmie Not could hurt Quartz in the same way Oriana hurt me, Perhaps he’d also enslave Quartz the way Oriana enslaved my father. To say we didn’t get along was putting it mildly.
Christopher: I wonder…no, never mind.
Briar: Go ahead and say it. You wonder if Nimmie Not had anything to do with Oriana finding me at the dwarves’s cottage.
Christopher: Well, yes. Especially if he’s as jealous as you say. At the same time, you didn’t run very far from where Oriana last saw you. Or where part of her saw you.
Briar: Of Cuckoo Clocks and Crystal Coffins is a work in progress. I’m as mystified by these matters as you are.
Christopher: Our scribbler herself may have just thought of the idea.
Briar: We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, won’t we?
Christopher: Yes, we will. I’d wish you good luck, but I know you already have a happy ending.
Briar: It could have been happier. Which I hope it will be when Quartz’s story is told.
Christopher: When you put it that way, I’d better wish you luck, after all. Good luck!
Briar: Thank you.