Chapter 5

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

I took the resume for Zelene with me, heading to my study. I pause in the doorway, looking over my study. My study walls were polished stone which was honestly my least favorite thing about the whole room. I mean it wasn't even pretty! The stones were the boring plain colors, I could probably go find prettier ones to make up the wall.

There were several bookshelves that lined the walls, several old tomes resting on them and covered in dust. My desk was custom made from an ancient tree which had fallen on the storm that had happened on the day of my birth. My father had started working on it since he liked to craft things with his hands. Contrasting to that was the floor that was made up out of stone which had been there since the castle was built.

That works in my favor though. I had taken to stashing my most important things in the study under a plank that ran under my desk. I constantly checked it, making sure that my items were still there. A tiara my father had helped craft when I was little, a locket from my mother, a ring from Ambrose, and some of the fabric from a dress that Duchess Grey had commissioned for me when I was little.

I go sit down at my desk, sitting Zelene's paper on my desk. I glance at it for a moment before taking it and folding it up, pulling open a drawer and sticking it in there. I wasn't sure I want to keep looking at a reminder of the fact that I had lost another advisor.

I start to work on papers, starting with the urgent ones that are about trade agreements, laws that need amendments, and stuff like that. The reading over the papers is what takes the longest since I have to triple check that there are no hidden clauses for the agreements or the laws. It was a habit I had taken up ever since I had accidentally signed an agreement that the butterfly would be our national bird. I still hadn't lived that one down with some of the older nobles.

I glance down at my lap as I shift to get comfortable, seeing my royal blue dress. I smile slightly as my mind starts to wander to what I am going to wear for dinner with Viscount Astley. Certain things would be more appropriate than others depending on who I was meeting with. I could wear a dress that just went to my knees since Viscount Astley wouldn't take it as flirting. He was a gentleman, a boring one, but still a gentleman nonetheless.

He was a gentleman with the women but not one when it came to dressing. He always wore bright colors that made him stand out from the rest. Red, yellow, purple or a garish mix of all three were just a few of the suits he owned. It was like the man didn't have sense when it came to dressing himself.

It was actually quite amusing to be honest. He was like the old grandfather of a family who had long since given up on being stylish. He would say so himself, saying he did not care for the nonsense of having to dress sensibly. Perhaps that was a notion I would have to take into account when I got ready for dinner. Less sensibility and more fun, he would probably enjoy that a lot.

I manage to get through most of the day's work and I pause when there is a knock on my study door. I lean back in my seat, putting my pen down as I think about who would interrupt me when I was working on papers. It wasn't like I spoke to many people so I assume it is one of my maids or guards. Hopefully the former over the latter.

"Come in," I say as I tap my nails lightly on the wood. The polish of the desk was smooth under my fingertips and I enjoy the cool feeling of it. It was often something I used to ground myself whenever I got stressed out.

"Your majesty," Lena says as she enters the room with a few other maids trailing behind her. My eyes narrow slightly since Lena has never done this before, she knew I did not like being disturbed when I was working.

"What is it Lena? I would hope it is important," I state as I tilt my head, a small frown pulling on my lips as I look at her with a sigh escaping me. I did not want to be rude but I did not feel like wasting time today.

"Duchess Grey has instructed me to help you change for your meeting with Viscount Astley," Lena says hesitantly, her voice growing quieter with each word until she is practically whispering the last word of the sentence. I feel my nails dig lightly into the wood of the desk as I look at Lena with a fake smile.

"Did she really?" I question as I take a deep breath, telling myself it is not Lena's fault that Duchess Grey was pushy and overbearing.

"Yes, your majesty.. she also told me to tell you..." Lena starts to say but seems too afraid to finish.

"What did she tell you, Lena?" I ask, barely keeping my emotions in check.

"She said... she said... that you can't go into the meeting looking like you belong at the maids table and if you give me or any other of the maids trouble, she will be back to help fix that problem. She said you should know what that means from the last time she fixed it." She tells me, unable to meet my eyes

I would have to find a way to have revenge on her later, for now I have to deal with the situation at hand.

"What has Duchess Grey instructed you to help me change into?" I question Lena, keeping my attention on her even as my nails dig into the wood of my desk.

"The green dress, the one that was a gift from her," Lena says. I mentally roll my eyes at her words, knowing I should have guessed that was what Duchess Grey would pick. Ma always did like to play dress up and I had often been the victim of it when I was younger.

"I do not need your or any of the other maid's help to get ready. You may prepare the dress for me but I do not require your help," I state firmly, planning on standing my ground.

"Duchess Grey said..." Lena starts to say, making me hit my fist on the desk lightly. That makes her shut up as soon as she starts talking. I feel bad about losing my temper but that doesn't mean I am going to jump to apologizing.

"Fine, you may assist me with getting ready. Since Duchess Grey is someone I definitely care for and she definitely matters to me," I sarcastically mutter under my breath. Lena stands there, looking apologetic but not saying anything to me.

I lead the way to my room, my heels loud on the stone floor. I know that I most likely have a resting bitch face at the moment based on the looks the guards give each other when I enter my room. I pause to take my heels off, letting them fall to the floor in a pile.

I step behind the screen, closing my eyes. I feel Lena's fingers unlacing the corset. I can feel a slight tremble in her hands and I reach back, grabbing her wrist to hold it in place. I can feel Lena stiffen in response.

"Don't be nervous. When your fingers shake you have the possibility of worsening the knot in the lace," I inform her.

"Yes your majesty," I hear Lena say as I let go of her wrist, feeling her hands steady after a moment. I can feel her loosening the knot with her nails, being gentle as she undoes the laces. I slip the corset off before letting the other maids help me out of the dress.

They've already prepared the green dress for me to put on. They most likely knew that I would agree to wear it under Duchess Grey's words which irritated me. Was I really that predictable? It irritates me beyond belief.

I let the maids help me into the dress, feeling Lena lace up the back of my dress. The ruffles on it are adjusted after a moment and I let a maid touch up my makeup. I was mainly taking the time to mentally prepare myself for the coming meeting with Viscount Astley.

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