kitchen_maid: (Her Majesty The Queen)
Amy ([personal profile] kitchen_maid) wrote2012-08-11 08:42 pm

Not for All the Jewels in the Crown

"Rise and shine, Amy," Perry says, tapping one finger against the end of her nose.

Amy groans, rolls away from him, and pulls her pillow over her head. "It can't be morning already," she mumbles, and Perry laughs.

Yesterday had been very long and very full, what with the earthquake. There doesn't seem to have been significant damage, even where it was at its worst, which was several leagues away from Amber. A few things fell off shelves in the palace, there was a bit of a mess in the kitchens, but all in all, nothing too significant happened.

But it had taken some time to determine all of that, and there had been a great deal of reassuring people that had needed to be done, and then rooms had had to be be found for her guests who had stayed to help, and ultimately, Amy had gone to bed quite late. Still, she hadn't expected to be this tired when she woke up.

Amy sighs and pushes the pillow away.

"Did you not sleep well?" Perry asks.

"I had odd dreams," Amy says, around a yawn. "About dancing all night with a clockwork Prince, till my shoes were worn out." She sits up, stretching. "Not that there is all that much difference in the clockwork sort and most of the real ones I've known."

"I do believe I've just been insulted," Perry says, as he pulls on his dressing gown. "I was a Prince once, you know."

"Yes, but I never knew you as a Prince. You were already a King when I met you, man-of-all-work."

Perry laughs again, and then stumbles slightly as he makes his way around the foot of the bed to her side.


"I'm fine. I just tripped over your shoes."

Amy frowns, standing. "My shoes? I didn't leave any shoes there."

Perry holds up a pair of Amy's shoes. She recognizes them at once. They're dark green, meant to match her third best ball gown. Amy frowns more. "Those are dancing slippers," she says. "I certainly didn't wear them yesterday."

Perry turns the shoes over in his hands. The soles have have been worn through. "I don't think you were dreaming, Amy."

"How is that even possible?" Amy asks, taking one of the shoes and sticking a finger through the hole in it.

Perry has already gone into the breakfast room, calling for his secretary. "Alfred? Alfred!"

Amy follows, still in her nightgown.

Alfred, whom Amy has never known to not appear within seven seconds of being called for, steps into the room. "Your Majesty," he says, with a bow, and then notices Amy and amends, "Your Majesties."

"Alfred, get the Court Historian. Tell him I need to see him immediately. Bring him here. There's to be no delay."

Alfred's eyes widen just a little. It generally takes nothing short of a national emergency for the King to allow anyone to interrupt breakfast with the Queen.

"At once, Sire," Alfred says, bows again, and goes.

"Perry, what is going on?" Amy says.

"Old family story," Perry says, "about worn-out dancing shoes. It was great-great-some-number-of-greats-grandparents."

Five minutes later, when Amy is starting to worry that Perry will wear out his own shoes with pacing, the Court Historian, Sir Harold, comes breathlessly into the room. Like the King and Queen, he is still in his night clothes.

Perry hands the shoes over to Sir Harold, and Amy fixes everyone tea that they will then all ignore while it grows cool and Sir Harold recounts the story of the worn-out shoes.

Some years ago (the correct number of greats turns out to be eight), the King of Ambergeldar had twelve daughters, each more beautiful than the last.

"The usual, if not Ordinary, way of things," Amy says, and Perry shushes her.

The twelve Princesses had all slept in the same room, and were locked in it at night, but every morning, their dancing shoes had been found worn through.

The King, who had apparently been very opposed to that kind of cobbler's bill, had offered the hand of one of the daughters and the throne of the kingdom to whomever could solve the mystery. Many Princes came, but none could discover the secret. Finally, a soldier returning from the wars arrived at the palace to try his hand at learning what happened to the Princesses' shoes.

He had was armed with an invisibility cloak, and he had been warned by a wise woman not to drink the wine the oldest Princess would offer him, which contained a sleeping potion. When they believed him to be asleep, they dressed for a ball, and then the oldest Princess opened a trapdoor in the floor and one by one, they descended into the floor. The soldier threw his invisibility cloak over himself and followed them.

They crossed three groves of trees, once of silver, one of gold, one of diamonds, until they came to a lake. There, each Princess boarded a small boat rowed by a Prince, and the soldier jumped into the last boat with the youngest Princess. They crossed a lake to a ballroom, where they danced all night, till their shoes had worn through, and then returned home.

The soldier collected branches from the groves, took them to the King as proof, and married the oldest daughter. The spell was broken, and they lived happily every after.

"Of course," Sir Harold says, "the story as it's told doesn't line up with historical fact. The King in question had only four daughters, not twelve. Though the oldest did marry a soldier, who was the youngest son of a very low-ranking nobleman, and hardly the sort who would be expected to marry the heiress to a kingdom. So it does seem at least possible that that was a reward for some service to the King. If Her Majesty encountered something similar last night, then ... perhaps there is more truth to the story than we have suspected."

"But that was ten generations ago," Perry says. "Decades. Centuries. There have been any number of Princesses in this palace since. Why didn't anything happen again until last night?"

"Maybe the earthquake shook something loose," Amy says. "There has to be magic involved. For one thing, we're on the third floor; we'd have noticed by now if there were a stairway leading from this room though the floors below, I should think. Maybe the earthquake was enough to start the spell going again."

"But you are not now a Princess any more than I am now a Prince, Amethyst."

"Well, you said it yourself, dear. Decades. Centuries. Maybe magic ages just like everything else. Spells get broken, but broken things leave pieces, don't they?"

"So there's a literally broken spell under my palace that my wife got caught in last night?"

"Maybe," Amy says.

"Perhaps Lord Terence . . . " Sir Harold suggests, a bit timidly. Amy can't blame him. Perry is hardly looking his least intimidating right now.

"Unfortunately, the Court Magician is attending a conference in Forestia," Amy says.

Which is at least a week's ride away, so even if they sent for him this instant, it would be a fortnight before he would be back, and that would hardly return him a day earlier than he plans to, anyway.

"So there's a literally broken spell under my palace that my wife got caught in last night, and the only person I've got who knows anything about magic is gone for the next two weeks?" Perry says.

"Algernon, let's be calm about this, please."

"I'm not going to be calm about this, Amethyst," Perry snaps, and then takes a deep breath, and picks up his cold tea. "All right," he says. "You're right, of course. We'll be calm about this."

"Perhaps the Royal Dragon could be dispatched to retrieve Lord Terence," Sir Harold suggests, even more timidly.

"Norman is visiting his mother this week, I fear," Amy says. "He's really a quite devoted son."

"Besides, I'm fairly certain there are diplomatic ramifications in sending a dragon into the capitol of another nation, even taking into consideration that the Crown Princess of Forestia is the Queen's sister and we normally enjoy an excellent relationship with them," Perry says. He glances over at Amy. "See? Calm."

"You're doing very well, dear," Amy says, before turning her attention back to the historian. "Sir Harold, if you would please excuse us. Perhaps you could come to my parlor around ten o'clock? We may have more questions for you. And, of course, any additional information you can find in the meantime would be greatly appreciated."

"Of course, ma'am," Sir Harold says, and bows his way out of the room very quickly.

Amy sits down next to Perry and takes his hand in hers.

"The first thing we need to do is get Susan out of this palace," she says. "She is a Princess."

"Agreed. You can take the children and go to -- "

"No," Amy says.


"I have to stay, Perry. We have no idea who or what that spell will latch onto if it can't find me. And we can't empty this palace the day after an earthquake. We'll cause a panic. No, I have to stay."

"Amethyst, I can't let you -- "

"I'll be fine," Amy says. "Get Stefan and Rosalind to take the children to visit Wrennford for a few days."

"And I just let you go dancing every night until Terence gets back, then?" Perry pauses, studying his wife for a moment. "And you're smiling at me like you know something I don't, Amethyst."

"Parker's friend Scorpius is a wizard. Maybe he'll have some ideas. And frankly, I can't imagine there are many threats that X wouldn't have some ideas about how to handle. We'll ask them. And then we'll decide what we're going to do."

"And if they think you should leave?"

"I'll take it under advisement," Amy says. "But first, breakfast and proper clothes. As regal as you look in your dressing gown, I think perhaps we will both feel in real clothes. And then we will meet with our friends and come up with a plan."

And, knowing their friends, it will no doubt be an excellent one.