It wasn’t all her fault.
There was an evil king involved. And her mother had been a rightful heir once upon a time, and if history had gone a little differently she could have been looking at that throne as a thing she’d earned already instead of a thing to be bought with a rebellion.
And the rebellion wasn’t her idea. Or maybe it was. It had been one of those family belongings, batted around her dilapidated castle for so long, kicked by breezes, and settled in the odd corner with the errant, crackling leaves before being picked up and dusted off again. No one could say whose hand had it last, let alone whose head had it first. But it was her father who made it more than an idea, made it into a deathbed promise and handed it to her and her brother to carry out. She could never refuse a deathbed promise.
And her army was small. And the fight was long. And victory was a higher hill than she’d imagined with fewer hands held out to help her scrabble to the top.
And the traps definitely hadn’t been her idea. Not with their jagged teeth and the impartial ching and crack as they snapped shut on anyone’s bones, enemy or friends.
She just hadn’t argued very hard against putting them out for defense’s sake. Or as a quiet watch your back to the enemy patrols.
And she hadn’t taken anyone with her when she decided to spy on the other camp in the middle of the night.
And she hadn’t watched her step. Or looked hard enough to know it was the enemy that found her before she called out for help. Or been able to run when they held her.
And she hadn’t trusted anyone to help her up again after all the scrabbling she’d had to do.
That was her fault, and that was what sprang the longest months of her lift into their hard-edged ching and crack. Her own hero, maybe, if she could get through the world without laughing, and her own villain, she admitted in the quiet moments when she had the time. And neither of them cancelling the other. An impossible thing, made madder by the truth in it.
It was more than a part her own fault. A mess, made perfectly to fit her by her own well-meaning hands.
But there was an evil king involved.