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Broken Mirrors

Title: Broken Mirrors

Author: ninedaysaqueen

Beta: openedlocket

Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, nor of any characters, locations, and elephants contained within. All rights of the Queen's Thief series belong exclusively to Megan Whalen Turner and her respective publishers.

Spoilers: Books 1-3

Rating: PG/K+

Genre: Drama/Fluff/Romance/Angst

Word Count: 1,500

Summary: A mirror may break, but hope is not so easily shattered. For her queen, Phresine hopes. Little moments with Phresine, the queen's senior attendant.

Author's Notes: I ended up going with Phresine, because she deserves some love. Sorry Gen's Mom fans! I will get to more fics for her soon enough! Also... Random, but did you knew there was a famous male ice skater named Eugene Turner? If that's not fonder for crack-fic...


broken mirrors banner


Something broke.

Snapped. Shattered. Scattered then forgotten. A dust, a mist, a once beating heart.

It was the queen's heart. Her soul soon to follow.

Phresine sighed as she tucked a strand of Her Majesty's hair behind her ear and secured it with a ruby pin. The queen was beautiful today, as she always was. White skin free of blemish, dark hair curled slightly around her forehead and cheeks, mouth bitten by teeth as she worried her lip. Beautiful, young, and still fretting like a child.

A child with a voice like thunder. “You seem a bit under the weather, Phresine. Not feeling ill, I hope?” The queen's reflection stared back at her with a gentle but humorless smile. She had little room for humor these days.

“I am an old woman, Your Majesty. These bones aren't what they once were.” She reached forward and ran a finger, barely touching, down the queen's cheek. “Many things are not what they once were.”

Her Majesty crushed her lips together. “Are you saying I'm getting old, Phresine?” She pressed her manicured nails to her face, smiling in false amusement. “Do you see a wrinkle that escapes me?”

Phresine shook her head. “I do not speak of age, My Queen.” Taking either side of Her Majesty's head between her palms, Phresine gently turned her face back towards the mirror. “What do you see?”

The queen pursed her lips and sighed, attributing her attendant's strange behavior to the eccentricity of age. “I see myself, Phresine. Is this a new game that's popular?” The queen's voice was short on patience.

“Not what you see in the mirror, my love. What you see in yourself.” There was a long moment of silence as Phresine removed her hands, and the queen stared, transfixed by her own reflection.

Something broke.

“I see a queen, Phresine. Now, if you are quite finished with this foolishness, I suggest you put my grooming tools away in their proper places.” She stood up from the low-back chair, and Phresine stepped aside as the queen swept past, her heels heavy on the floor.


“You need him, yes. But he needs you as well.” Phresine wrung her hands gently as the queen inspected her golden wedding circlet in her dressing mirror.

“What could he possibly need from me?” The queen made a noise too harsh to be a laugh. “I broke that man's soul. I have nothing to offer him, but a kingdom full of vipers and leeches. A kingdom he would do anything to not rule.”

Phresine came closer. “Things were not as they once were.” She helped the queen adjust her veil, sheer like sugar paste. “He has a broken soul, as you said, My Queen, but you have a broken heart. Together you make one, and together you may heal.”

The queen considered this. “And if his heart is broken as well?”

Phresine smiled. “It takes a lot more than pain of the body to break a heart. The soul is fragile in comparison: war, famine, disease, all this can wound and shatter its delicate fabric. But the heart is made of sterner stuff. The only thing it can not survive is love, freely given, not returned.”

Their eyes met in the mirror.

“I never expected my late husband to love me, Phresine.”

“Oh, my dear queen, I speak not only of your husband. There are many types of love in this world that affect us just as deeply as the love of a man.”

Looking in the mirror, it was the first time Phresine saw the queen's eyes awash with tears. Blinked away, they remained unspilled.

Her Majesty cleared her throat, dismissing her senior attendant. “Thank you, Phresine. I believe I am ready.”

“Not quite,” Phresine smiled. Taking a sugar cube from her pocket, she tucked it into the edge of the queen's glove and kissed her hand. “So your union will be sweet.”


“I'm a fool.”

Phresine pulled a tress backwards with a sturdy brush. Once combed, it was her duty to plait the queen's hair before bed. “If you are a fool, it is divine foolishness. It is never foolish to love. Only foolish to refuse such love.”

“Exactly,” added the queen. “He gives me everything, and I slap him in the face for it. Literally.” She emphasized the final word.

Phresine was trying very hard not to laugh. She began to twist out a braid. “A wrong is a wrong, and wrongs will always be forgiven, as long as one admits they were wrong.”

The queen smiled. “Phresine, you have indeed mastered the political art of saying what you mean without saying it at all.”

“Tis the gift of age, My Queen.” She blew out the light before she left.


“We are almost certain, my dear. Tis not come for three months, and your belly is beginning to swell. I am honestly surprised the king hasn't noticed.”

The queen examined her profile in the mirror. “It's not the sort of thing he would notice. Either that or he's in denial. His capacity for self-delusion is astounding.”

Phresine frowned. “This is not happy news, My Queen?”

Her Majesty sighed. “Oh, my friend, it would be if not for war, this blasted war soon to be upon us. I'm half-tempted to go into seclusion and send the child away to be raised in secret.”

“Sounds like a fairy-tale.”

“Hmph,” angrily snorted the queen. “Just without the fairies to watch over us.”

Phresine smiled. “Ah, but any children of yours will have something far better than fairies to watch over them.” The queen turned. “Parents who love them dearly.”

The mother-to-be looked away. “Things are not what they once were.”

“They hardly ever are, my dear.”


“You knew.” That wasn't a question, and her king spoke tersely.

“It wasn't exactly being kept a secret from you, My King. I assume she thought it better to let you find out for yourself, but I had little notion she did not intend to tell you before-”

“Before she looked like she'd swallowed a melon?”

Phresine winced.

“She said she was ill, and locked herself away in chambers for a week. Do you have any idea how much that scared me? How much potential that had to scare the kingdom?” The king groaned like a boy denied a biscuit. “She had a legion of doctors to ensure us all she simply needed rest. A break from the public routine, and she would return to her throne in but a few weeks. As if that weren't obvious!”

Phresine smirked. Children. Both of them. Soon to have a child of their own. It was madness.

“I had all the dignitaries from Sounis to Eddis smarting at me about the situation. Is she ill? Is it serious? Will she die? I had to tell them she was in seclusion with child! Why must she be so angry with me?” The king was pacing now, scuffing his finely-tooled shoes in front of the hallway mirror.

“There is a theory she wanted to keep the child a secret, My King, and it seems you ruined her plan.”

“A secret!?” The king nearly exploded. “How do you keep a baby a secret? You keeps things a secret, Phresine. Things do not make noise, and if there is one certain fact concerning babies, it's that they make lots of noise!”

Phresine almost choked on her tongue.


Against all her wishes, the queen is now in official seclusion. “Everyone knows, I suppose?” She spoke softly as Phresine entered the room.

“Seems so, Your Majesty.”

“I should have told him sooner.” She looked tired rather then concerned. Sitting in front of her vanity mirror, she pressed her fingertips to the center of her reflection. “You know what I see, Phresine?”

“Yes, my love?”

“A queen, a mother, and a wife with a very angry husband.”

Phresine smiled.

Things were not what they once were.


Author's Notes: There is a real Greek wedding tradition that involves sugar being tucked into the bride's glove in order to ensure a sweet union. Traditional Byzantine wedding dresses appear to include headdresses if not exactly veils. (I wave my artistic license.) Traditional Greek wedding dresses don't seem to include any headgear.

In true Megan Whalen Turner style, I snuck in a line from Gerald Morris's Squire's Tales. See if you can find it!

A line was borrowed from The King of Attolia, p251 paperback edition.

Thank you for reading!