Chapter 1

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

After a short knock, my chamber door opens and I sit up slowly. I had a schedule down for when I awoke and slept, one I tried my best to follow most days. Today I had allowed myself to lie in bed until a maid came in to stoke the fire. It had died down to almost nothing over the night so I had laid in bed, enjoying the cold that was seeping in from the open windows.

I rather enjoyed the cold most days but I would be lying if I didn't enjoy the heat of the fire when I came back to my bedchambers after a long day of working in my study. One of the maids always kept it stocked until I called it a night. Once I do, I'm left to enjoy the warmth of the fire that blazes in the fireplace.

Being Queen was not an easy thing. Often I would come back to my chambers in the middle of the night, collapsing into bed and watching the light from the fire on the ceiling as the shadows seemed to flicker with the flames.

Perhaps I enjoy the fire because my study feels just so cold and unwelcoming even to me so it is a relief to come back to a warm room.

"My lady," the maids that entered my chambers spoke after noticing me. I turn my head slightly, looking at them curiously. Now that I was looking directly at one, I recognized her well. It was Lena, one of the maids that had served me ever since I was coronated. The other maids I knew, they had served me for a while but none of them were quite as willing to speak to me as Lena was, though she is usually reluctant too.

"Are you well? You are normally up by this time, my lady..." she points out as she stands by the edge of my bed. She was always very quiet, almost like she was still afraid to speak directly to me after all this time.

"I did not feel much like getting up on time today. Why am I being disturbed, Lena? You know I requested to be alone." I say quietly as I glance up at the ceiling, lying back down.

"Nevermind, forget I asked... Did you hear my latest advisor has quit?" I ask, making her nod.

"That is what? 10 within 3 years now?" I sigh as I frown, my eyebrows furrowing.

"Yes my lady, that does make him the tenth in three years. Shall I have carriers send out the notices that you are looking for a new one?" Lena asks.

"What is the point, Lera? The nobles will find out soon enough, even without the notices. I'll be busy with "recommendations" for weeks. I grow tired of playing this game every time they quit."  I say, sighing, with a frown on my lips.

"You never know, perhaps you will get a response you like, your majesty," Lena says with a small smile, curtsying to me before she goes about her duties.

Our conversation finished, I finally climb out of bed, my bare feet padding on the cold stone floor. My favorite part about winter was how cold it got. I know a lot of people didn't like the cold but I was not one of those people. The cold was my favorite part of winter when it hit.

"Lena, come help me with my makeup while everyone else gets out of my chambers, please." They are just trying to do their jobs so I don't want to be too mean to them but I still say it in more of a command than a request.

I sat down at my vanity, taking my bonnet off of my head and letting my hair fall loose. My wild ringlets fell down just past my shoulders. I look at myself in the mirror, my dark brown skin complimented by the white nightgown that I was wearing.

Normally my advisor would read what I was doing for the day but now that I didn't have one, I would have to just read what was written down.

As Lena starts to do my makeup, my mind wanders to the events of the previous night.

"Your majesty, you can not just cancel on Lord Dacre. The meeting is happening in less than a week," my advisor, Richard, argues.

"I am the queen, I believe that I can cancel on anyone that I wish," I point out with slight amusement from my spot at the window sill. I was watching the snow drift to the ground.

"Your majesty, it is rude and unbecoming of the queen to just cancel on someone as high up as Lord Dacre without at least a reason," Richard states, sounding exasperated.

"I am the queen. I need no reason nor should they ask for one. I do not like Lord Dacre. He thinks too highly of himself. You should not have scheduled a meeting with him without me giving my permission in the first place." I say as I turn in my chair, crossing one leg over another just slightly.

"You have been avoiding him for months! He is starting to feel as if you are snubbing him deliberately. I am trying to help you save face." Richard lectures.

"You can not just avoid him because you do not like him! You are the queen. Your subjects need to see you!" he continues with a frown on his lips.

"And what if I am snubbing him? What will he do about it?" I speculate which actually gives Richard pause. I had never seen a man in his 50's go quiet so fast.

"It would be unwise to do that," Richard advises me. I hum in thought as I lift my glass of wine off the window sill, holding it as my nails tap lightly against it.

"Why would it be unwise?" I ask.

"Lord Dacre is a powerful man, he controls quite a few of the kingdom's important imports. He even controls some of what we can export with these imports," Richard says.

"So he has money and power... you just described every noble, Richard. Plus, I may be lenient with my subjects, but I don't take kindly to threats to my kingdom's well-being." I tell him, getting annoyed with this conversation.

"If you can not see sense then I will quit. You need to see him, your majesty!" he says suddenly, jerking me out of my thoughts.

"Oh...shall you truly quit? Because of a noble that isn't worth my time? Do you fear him finding another kingdom to sell his goods to that much?" I ask as I tilt my head to the side just slightly as I study him.

"Yes, I do, and you should too. I should not have to argue with the queen over things that are common sense. You know what... In fact, I do quit. You, majesty, are not worth my time!" he states before he turns and leaves, fuming.

I could not say I was totally surprised by his decision. Many of the advisors had done the same thing. In fact it kind of became a game to guess how they would leave. I had expected him to quit because of the stress, not because of a meeting... and I'm sure those shipments of Dacre imports he got recently have nothing to do with the importance of the meeting and his decisions. Oh, that's right, speaking of meetings...

"Rei, do remind me to tell Lord Dacre I will have to postpone our meeting until next Friday," I inform the maid who is standing just outside the door.

"Yes, your majesty," Rei replies as she steps in and curtsies to me, before stepping back out.

"It seems, in fact, I will have to find a new advisor. I just hope this one will be the last." I muse out loud to myself.

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