As the afternoon relaxed into streams of golden honey in the west, Atys stood before the mirror in his chamber trying vainly to arrange the traditional new suit of clothes that his father had presented him to wear at the masque proclaimed for his eldest son’s naming day, along with the even more traditional advice and admonitions. He was struggling with the laces of his doublet, trying to force them to tie evenly and fall perfectly against the green velvet as he imagined they should. He was failing even as he had failed to straighten the seams on his hose, and to buckle his baldric with the properly debonair flourishes he had seen on other young gentlemen, and the frustration of knowing that he would look a fool on his first foray into society had slowly risen to burn in his dry eyes.
Atys cursed in a manner his father had specifically forbidden not an hour before and jerked at the lace he had been gradually working into an irretrievable knot. In the mirror, he examined himself critically and his frustration puddled into despair. Looking up from his misarranged clothes, he met the eyes of the Other staring out at him, lips curled in a sneer.
“Are you going to cry now?” the other asked, and Atys swallowed heavily to stop from doing just that. The bark of laughter the Other had swallowed sounded uncomfortably close to a retch of disgust, and seeing the curl of his lip and the wrinkle of his nose in the mirror was too much: Atys blinked and the tears brimmed over, burning the shame into his cheeks.
"Oh, how manly," the Other sneered. "No doubt father will be very proud."
"Shut up!" Atys snuffled as he scraped the tears away with both hands.
The Other's sneer twisted into something more ugly: "What did you say?"
Atys looked away for a moment, unwilling to face what he saw in those eyes. Rough fingers caught his cheeks, squeezed painfully. "Did you dare something, boy?" He looked back at the mirror, and winced as the Other's fingernails dug deep for a moment before releasing him. "Do you actually think you're worth something?" Atys's shame grew as he saw the hunch of his shoulders, watched himself creep:
"No, please, not today - it's my name day." His voice trailed off as he saw a sneer join the rage on the Other's face.
"Not today? Especially today you pathetic whelp. Today you make your debut as a gentleman." He spat to show what he thought of that. "Gentleman! Hah! And your father has spared no expense for his precious boy. An infant who stands here weeping because he can't tie his own laces." Atys cringed when he saw the terrible grin on the Other's face - hungry and implacable. His voice was soft and dangerous:
"Oh yes, my lad. Especially today."