a/n: I've had this idea in my head for a long time but could never find the words for it, strangely enough it insisted on being written while I was in the middle of filling a Hera prompt.
Elizabeth is old now, wrinkled with age and she wonders how her father felt when he was her age and alive and then she wonders about her mother, she always wonders about her mother.
She inspects herself in the mirror with the precision of an expert surgeon, picking out every new line, marking down every new shadow.
"You are beautiful, daughter," says the figure in the red velvet chair and Elizabeth feels as though she is three again and mama just showered her in butterfly kisses and papa is the best, most powerful, most loving papa in the world, except she is old and her mother is dead and her father, whom she adored and strove to impress, is known by the world as a tyrant with a string of dead wives and damaged children.
"Why are you here?" she asks with the authority of a queen, because she is, she is a great queen, Good Queen Bess.
"I am here to see my daughter," Henry rises from his seat, quick and light. He is young and old and dark, trailing death at his heels.
"I asked for mama," she sighs, "in my prayers. Instead He sends you."
Too proud to cringe, he covers his disappointment with a broken chuckle and lifts a hand to stroke Elizabeth's hair. It passes through her and she shivers as her head is bathed in a cool damp mist. Candles flicker in a nonexistent breeze throwing bits of light and fractured shapes against the cold stone wall.
"Your necklace," he says
"Mama's necklace," she says cradling the delicate golden "B" with her fingers. He shrinks from her like a wounded deer, and tries again.
"You look like her," he says, "your eyes."
She doesn't look at him, gaze trained on her own reflection, "You killed her."
"I don't forgive you."
The sun is rising and the birds are waking and the room is painted a noble violet in the early morning light.
"Do you hate me?" he asks, voice cracking
"No," she says, "I love my papa."
He breathes a sigh of relief and flashes her a winsome smile before heading to the door, retreating with the night.
"Henry," she calls, and he thinks he can hear Anne in her voice, "don't come back."