Chapter 9

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NEW P.O.V, I'm so excited for Zelene's P.O.V. She's honestly such a great character to write for.

*Zelene's P.O.V*

It has been quite some time since Lady Euphemia has left me in this waiting area. In my time here, I have noticed that the castle is rather quiet. I had thought, with all the people that worked here, that it would be a lot louder. I'm curious if the quiet is from a lack of people or from a well trained staff. The quiet was rather nice though. I could see why Lady Euphemia said that I would like it here, if this is truly the normal.

I doubt it though, since Lady Euphemia did not seem happy on our trip here. She hasn't seemed happy with any of her updates of this place in quite a while, it has seemed. I mean she wouldn't show that she was upset but you learn to read it in her body language. It's that or you don't risk being alone in her presence. After years of working with her in some capacity or another, I've learned to pick up on these things for my own survival. In the long run, it has helped me greatly because if you can read her hidden emotions, you can read anyone's.

I do not know why she still tries so hard to keep her emotions hidden. Maybe it's as simple as old habits die hard. I know hiding her true emotions was important when she was queen but it's not that important as a merchant... unless you are in an important meeting that is... or negotiating... okay, it still has its uses. It's not like I haven't seen her angry before, though. It's mainly with those who thought they could get away with crossing her. Those poor people quickly learn why the nobles of this kingdom still fear being on her bad side. She is a force to be reckoned with when she loses her temper.

"Does the painting catch your interest, my Lady?" a young woman's voice asks, drawing me out of my thoughts. I had previously not been paying any attention to what I was looking at but now my gaze flickers to the artwork in front of me. It's... interesting.

"I'm not a lady, by the way. My family is as commoner as you can get. I'm just someone who happens to be accompanying Lady Euphemia, at her request. That's as special as I get. If you don't want to use my name, just Miss will do." I tell her, finally turning from the painting to look at her.

She is young, maybe in her early 20's if I had to guess. My eyes flicker over her and I can tell by the way she holds herself, her shoulders slightly hunched in as she keeps her gaze lowered, that she is not very sure of herself. It's surprising to see since she was sent to greet me. I would think they would use someone who would give off more confidence... a bit of snobbiness, maybe. Someone who would make you realize you are in the castle and not in a random place to do whatever you want.

"I'm sorry for the confusion, miss. Her Majesty and Lady Euphemia are ready for you now," she says timidly.

"Well then, we shall not keep them waiting," I say with a small smile on my lips. I observe her as I walk past her, my mind finally placing where I had seen her from.

"Are you Lena by chance?" I ask, making her startle as she finally meets my eyes.

"Yes. How did you know that?" she asks, confusion coloring her tone.

"I have the pleasure of working with your mother in service to Lady Euphemia. She is one of my, well I wouldn't say old because I doubt she would consider me an old friend but she is one of my oldest, but I have known her for many years now," I explain as I gesture for Lena to lead the way. I need her to lead because I have no idea where Lady Euphemia went and even if I did, I have no idea where anything is in this giant castle. Even with her leading though, I could not pass up the opportunity to speak with someone new, especially one of the children of my friends.

"What is your name? Maybe my mother has mentioned you before to me," Lena says as she continues to stand there..

"My name is Zelene, your mother prefers to call me Zee or Lene though," I say with a soft smile on my lips. That seems to strike Lena like a bolt of lightning and her eyes seem to light up.

"Yes, my mother has mentioned you in several letters," Lena smiles. "She says that you keep trying to drag her away from her work on your trips," she states.

"I do, I must admit I do that a lot. She never really goes far from Lady Euphemia though. I try to get her to take a long vacation and she'll take it, just as long as our Lady is coming too," I say with a dramatic sigh.

"Mother just doesn't like being away. She says it makes her anxious," Lena states after a moment. It seems to be some sort of defense for her mother's lack of traveling which is funny because I don't blame her mother for not wanting to leave.

"Lady Euphemia says the same thing. Although she coincidentally only says that when I get to pick where we are going," I inform Lena, watching her pause as I once again gesture for her to lead the way.

"That does sound like something Lady Euphemia would do. She hates leaving someone else to finish her business almost as much as my mother" Lena says with a shy smile before finally turning and leading us to our or should I say my destination.

"Don't let her know that you said that. Though, if this place is like I've heard, I'm sure they will find out anyway," I say with a small smirk as Lena frantically looks around to see if she was overheard. She should know she wont find anyone and it most certainly was overheard. We continue to walk in silence from that point until we finally reach a very old looking door.

"I suppose I shouldn't keep her waiting," I state after a moment.

"No, you shouldn't. They have been waiting too long already, I'm afraid. Both get quite annoyed with waiting," Lena states as she bows her head.

"I should return to my duties," she says before I can respond, pushing the door open silently then curtsies to me before continuing down the hall. I smile slightly before I enter the room. I have a feeling her mother might be stopping by for a visit too once word of our chat reaches her, duties or not.

"Zelene, I am so sorry to have kept you waiting. Hopefully the waiting room was to your liking," Lady Euphemia says.

"It was no problem my Lady," I say with a polite smile. My eyes drift from her to the room. It is definitely grand... and old. Is that... dust? I guess the current queen doesn't use this room very often. It definitely looks like a couple lifetime's of work to collect it all, that's for sure. At least the furniture doesn't look that old. My guess is that they are from Lady Euphemia's time here though.

Speaking of Lady Euphemia, who is that young girl that is sitting at her feet, getting her hair braided? She looks very downtrodden. In fact, I've seen that look on many children after Lady Euphemia gave them a lecturing. My guess is it's probably because she had been caught eavesdropping on Lady Euphemia's conversation. If I knew one thing about Lady Euphemia, she didn't tolerate eavesdropping. There is just no other way a young child would be in a room we are supposed to be meeting her majesty in, getting her hair braided, that comes to mind.

"You may sit down, Zelene. We will start once I finish with her hair." Lady Euphemia says. I realize now that Lady Euphemia hasn't looked up at me since I entered the room. She has been solely focused on the child's hair. I've seen her do hair before. She rarely refuses a child that asks of it from her. It is rare a child has enough courage to ask, afterall. This time is different though. It's not just her concentration that is different but she has this... care in her every movement. I find myself transfixed watching her as she finishes up braiding the dark ringlets into an impressive work of art of a braid. It is so impressive, it wouldn't look out of place if her majesty herself wore that hairstyle

"Done. We can begin our conversation now. Zelene, meet Beth... sorry, Elizabeth. Elizabeth, meet Zelene, your new advisor." Lady Euphemia announces.

"I'm sorry... advisor? To a child? What is this child doing that you think she needs my services? Also, why aren't we waiting for her majesty to arrive before having this discussion? Shouldn't she have a say in this?" I ask, quite defensively. I've worked too hard making a name for myself to just be passed off to some child... even if Lady Euphemia seems quite fond of her. My remarks seem to be taken with humor from Lady Euphemia though, as she just smirks at me.

"I'm sorry, Zelene. I forget you like to be quite formal when it comes to discussions about my daughter so you might not remember her name. I'll repeat myself in a different way then... "Zelene, meet her majesty, Queen Elizabeth, my one and only daughter. Your majesty, meet your new royal advisor, Zelene." Lady Euphemia says, still smirking. This time it's from watching the faces of shock we both are making at her.

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