Chapter 13

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

I have decided that maybe Zelene won't be so bad. She may have even been my pick for advisor if Mother hadn't stepped in and told me who I would have as my advisor. I was still a bit miffed with her for that decision. I was the queen, I should be able to make all my decisions myself.

"Beth," Mother catches my attention and I hate how I look at her instantly. I want to ignore her, to make her wait for my attention like she had made me wait for hers earlier. Yet if I do that, I fear she'll just find someone else to talk to instead of waiting.

"Yes?" I ask, looking her in the eyes. I hadn't done anything wrong, not that I was aware of... well that wasn't true. She already scolded me for not responding to her letters, I didn't think there was anything else that she would scold me for. At least not in front of Zelene.

"You have a room prepared for Zelene I assume?" she asks, the question making me freeze. That's what she wanted to talk about? Of course it was...

"It's not exactly ready right at this moment," I manage to answer, happy with my ability to inform her of what she wants to know without showing emotion. She never showed emotion, at least not to me. I wonder how close Zelene and her are... probably closer than me and her were. I feel a pang of jealousy rush through me, my heart aching at the thought.

"Why is it not prepared? Duchess Grey informed you that you would be hiring Zelene," Mother states.

"I was busy doing paperwork. I didn't know I would be meeting her today. I was informed she was a candidate, not to expect her to arrive in a couple hours." I defend myself, already knowing what Mother was going to say.

"No excuses," she says at the same time that I hide my face from her and mouth what she says. Nothing I ever said was good enough. Mother always claims what I say is just an excuse. I catch Zelene's eyes and she gives me a faint smile.

"I know, mother. This castle is large and mostly empty. You didn't even require the maids to maintain most of it," is all I say as I lift my head up once I can manage to look at her without smiling. 

"So you will have her room set up now then," Mother says and I feel my face heat up at her words. I nod as I ring my bell, glancing at the maid that enters. It wasn't Lena which kind of disappoints me. She was the one consistent maid that I could call and usually always have at my side.

"The room for the advisor needs to be set up for Zelene," is all I say, averting my gaze from the maid as I go back to eating. Perhaps I would be considered a little bit rude for not giving her any attention but what was I supposed to do? It was more awkward to look people in the eyes when you told them what to do.

"Elizabeth, you can't avoid eye contact with everyone you speak to," Mother says and I glance at her, purposefully holding eye contact with her for a minute before speaking.

"I don't avoid eye contact with everyone I speak to!" I protest as I look at her. "I make eye contact with you and Zelene," I point out, frowning when Mother shakes her head.

"That is not what I meant and you know it," Mother states.

"I make eye contact with Duchess Grey," I argue, making her purse her lips in annoyance.

"I didn't mean her either," Mother sighs as she pinches the bridges of her nose. I can tell she is annoyed with me but I don't really care at the moment.  I was making valid points and she just couldn't handle that.

"Well then I don't think your point has merit since I've named at least three people that I make eye contact with," I state as I smile at her,

"I can name three people that you avoid eye contact with at all times," Mother states. I want to retort but I suppose she could definitely name at least three people that I don't make eye contact with.

"Your majesty, perhaps you could enlighten me as to what my duties are," Zelene cuts in when I hesitate to give a reply. I definitely could have named like three more people that I made eye contact with if she didn't cut in.

"I make eye contact with Lena too," is all I tell Mother before turning my attention to Zelene and her question.

"You will be helping with my daily tasks and schedule. Helping me reply to nobles, rejecting invitations, and of course helping me with reading over legislation," I state.

"You will not just be rejecting invitations. You will be accepting some but a majority of them will have to be declined...not ignored," Mother says as she glances at me and I frown at her.

"I don't ignore everyone, just you," I mutter, going silent when I realize how bad that sounds. Sure it would be okay to ignore her letters...if she wasn't the former queen as well as my mother. If you ignore those two important things, she is just a merchant's wife. A successful merchant, yes, but not one that had to receive my attention.

"I will make sure that your letters are read, Lady Euphemia," Zelene says and I give her a look that shows just how betrayed I am. She was my advisor, why was she agreeing to make sure Mother's letters are read?

"You can't..." I object, going quiet when Zelene leans towards me. Her dark black hair glints in the light of the candles that are burning and her perfume is sweet. It's a scent that makes me almost want to relax but I refuse the thought.

"I never said that they would be read by you, your majesty," Zelene says, her breath tickling my ear. I have to fight the urge to jerk away, I've always been sensitive with people being too close even if they had to be close in order to whisper.

"Oh..." I trail off before I realize what she means. "Oh, you are a genius," I grin, smiling at her as she sits back in her seat.

"Do I even want to know what you two are up to?" Mother asks as I look at her, my smile stopping as I shake my head.

"We're not up to anything! Zelene just assured me that your letters are read, like you requested," I state after a moment, not daring to look into her eyes for fear that it will give me away. I always have a hard time keeping a poker face when it comes to looking my mother in the eye. She has a look that will make anyone crack.

Perhaps Zelene wouldn't be a terrible advisor, afterall. Even if she was only my advisor because Mother made me take her on, she was helping me get out of having to read Mother's long essays that she called letters. If it takes more than one page, it is not a letter. Something I was adamant on and I would have to tell Zelene that, so she would understand my stance on things.

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