She hid her face for a moment against Fin's chest, then straightened up and walked towards her people.
She did not see the look of malevolence and triumph on Ondska's face.
In the Queen's rooms meanwhile, a maidservant ran in fear as the mirror spoke. Unfortunately, she tripped and broke her neck, which of course everyone dismissed as clumsiness, so she was never able to say whose voice she had heard.
Or, of course, what it had said.
In the days that followed, everyone said with what dignity the young Queen comported herself. Or, it should be said, the Queen to be, for she was yet to be crowned. Asta insisted on the correct mourning period being observed for her father before any kind of celebration be held, and that included her own coronation. This only added to how dearly her people loved her, for it showed her grief and respect.
Fin did not leave her side. Asta found herself reaching for him without thinking, and it was only his steadiness which saved her from retreating to her room and staying there. But this she couldn't do, for she had seen the way Ondska was watching.
Watching... and waiting.
The Queen claimed to be staying 'for Asta's solace'. And her standing was too great, her own country too powerful for Asta to say 'please leave'. But the servants were growing ever more nervous, to the point where after dark they would not go to her quarters, claiming there were voices coming from the mirror.
Finally, the day of the coronation approached. Asta realised that for the sake of her people, she had to see it as a happy occasion. If she was brutally honest with herself, in some ways she was happy, for she knew she would rule well and wisely - and of course there was Fin.
He was nervous. Petrified in fact, because today was the day he was going to ask Asta to marry him - and he had to do it before she was crowned, so that she understood it was for her that he asked, not her country. He took a deep breath, and got ready to see her. Just as he was about to set off to her rooms, Queen Ondska called out to him.
'Prince Fin. If I may? I would very much appreciate your counsel.'
Fin turned. He had no desire whatsoever to be anywhere near the Queen, but as he looked at her, she snapped her fingers in front of his face, and he felt his will being drained. She smiled.
It was not a nice smile.
'If you will, Prince Fin... just stand in front of the mirror. Just for a moment.'
With the last of his strength, he tried to avert his gaze. But the mirror pulled at him, and with mounting horror he looked into its depths.
And saw the King, and hundreds of others behind him, sorrow in their eyes.
And he felt his own death upon him.
Asta had expected Fin to escort her to the throne room, and when he didn't appear, decided to find him. She had felt an uneasy tickling in the back of her mind for a while, and it seemed to be growing the closer she got - why, it was the closer she got to Queen Ondska's rooms! She knocked at the door. There was no answer, but she heard a low cry - and she pushed on the latch. It opened, and she ran inside.
She saw Fin lying still and white on the floor in front of the mirror, and the Queen looking as though she had just finished a wonderful meal.
'What... what has happened here?' she whispered.
Ondska looked at her, her eyes glazed with power and evil.
'Oh my dear. I am afraid there has been a tragic accident. Your dear Prince has died. There was nothing to be done. I am so very sorry for you!'
'Fin - no! It can't - '
'But yes. As you can see, he is clearly not coming back. I think it is best you immediately call off the coronation and go into mourning. Perhaps you should consider appointing a regent? Someone older, more capable. Trustworthy.'
Ondska's voice had taken on a hypnotic hissing quality. For a moment, Asta was mesmerised.
And then she looked in the mirror.
And saw Fin and her father looking back, shaking their heads.
The clouds in her mind dissolved.
Asta screamed. It came from deep - so deep - inside her, and sounded like the agonised cry of a seabird. It was a scream of agony, and loss, and love, and a breaking heart.
The mirror shattered, the pieces flying, whirling outwards in a glittering, lethal diamond cloud - towards Ondska. There was a sudden blur, a snarling roar of defeat, a babble of triumphant voices - and then, like a shining tornado, the source of the Queen's power and her death headed for the skies.
And all that was left of Ondska was a pool of puddled velvet... and a rapidly blackening crown.
There was a low whisper.
She whirled around, the colour coming back to her face.
It was Fin. He was back... and beside him, her father.
The joy in the castle was overwhelming.
That night, a strange phenomenon was observed in the sky. Glittering points of light had started to shine - faintly, it was true, but they shone nevertheless. Over the course of the next few decades, they grew stronger and stronger, until people could not remember a time when there were not shimmering ribbons of unreality above.
And what did they call them?
In the common tongue, they called them 'stars'... but those who knew and loved her best remembered who they were named after.