Title: His Queen
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.
Summary: Eugenides and his queen have a talk one evening. - Tag-fic to The King of Attolia.
Author's Notes: Written for booksrgood4u, who wanted me to fill a missing scene for The King of Attolia.
She'd slapped him.
Not in a playacting manner or with even a hint of feign or artifice. She'd outright walloped him. In front of his attendants. In front of his guards. In front of the gods, who were probably laughing from their ethereal thrones.
He didn't evade. Didn't duck, didn't block, though it would have been a simple enough task. She wasn't trained, wasn't purposed. She'd merely been angry; and he'd had nearly three countries angry with him in the past.
That wasn't why.
She was his queen, and though he was king, the word of his parallel sovereign held no concept of possession or inferiority to him. She was his equal, his partner, perhaps his better in this mad court of nightshades and squirming things that belonged in the dark mud not in her blazing throne room. Their throne room, he recalled.
He rubbed his forehead with the heel of his palm and leaned backwards in his chair. His check still stung bitingly.
"My king?" called his queen. He turned sharply. He wore just his nightshirt and robe, but he was only self-conscious of the stump that used to be his right hand. He'd removed his cotton sleeve earlier, and he awkwardly stuffed his forearm into the folds of his shirt.
She moved her eyes to his arm for a moment but looked away in favor of his face. He debated standing up, but she moved silently to him and came to kneel slightly at the edge of the armchair. She took his left hand in both of hers.
It felt awkward to have her so near in a position which was usually his. By her feet, at her desk, the corner of her bed when she brushed her hair at her vanity mirror. She curled her fingers around his wrist.
"You're a very stupid man," she observed drily, not meeting his eyes.
Eugenides snorted and pulled her forward. He stood, taking her into his arms. She accepted his embrace, resting her chin on his shoulder. There were times like this when she didn't seem so much taller than him.
"Even stupider to love me," she muttered distantly, pulling back from his hold. "When all you do is try to help..."
He played with her fingertips, her other hand still on his shoulder. A chill passed through him, though both stood close to the fire.
"And interfere," he added as she trailed off.
"Help," she insisted, leaning her check against his shoulder once more. "And if you're a stupid king then I'm an even stupider queen to execute the most loyal member of my guard without a deeper thought than my own anger." She lowered her voice. "I didn't even speak with you..."
"I hardly noticed," he observed mildly. She smiled, but it melted into a frown.
"It's not fair of me, really, to ask you to be my king, then to forget you have say and input."
"You're used to being alone," he added thoughtfully, "and I've acted without your say, your input. King and queen... not so different, are they?" He squeezed her hand.
She nodded distantly. "Both tools on a chessboard," voice blank yet sown with deep seeds of bitterness.
He nodded pensively, stroking her shoulder with his thumb. "I could always steal it."
"What? The chessboard?" she asked, a hint of mirth.
"No, you..." he answered. "The queen. Off the chessboard. For one night, at least." He spoke gently, lifting her head off his shoulder and smiling at her. She smiled back and turned to leave for the hidden passage that led to her chambers.
"Come to bed then," she said.
He took her hand.
Thank you for reading,