Chapter 14

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

After I finish dinner, I manage to escape anymore conversations with Mother by saying that I would show Zelene to her room. That earns a raised eyebrow from Mother who looks rather amused by my offer.

"You have plenty of maids that could show Zelene where her room is. Why do you take it upon yourself to be the one to show her?" Mother asks, giving me a look that tells me that she knows what I am up to.

"I mean if Zelene is going to be my advisor I will have to get used to having her around," I say as an excuse, not a very believable one based on the look that Mother gives me. It's one of her looks that says 'I know you're up to something, I just don't know what that is yet'. I mean I was up to something but frankly, it wasn't any of her business.

"Come Zelene, I shall show you to your room before Lady Euphemia can detain us any longer," I say, putting emphasis on my mothers name as I turn to Zelene, meeting her gaze for a moment before leaving the room.

Whether or not she follows me, I have to escape before mother can talk about any other bad things that I've done. I was wondering if she knew everything at that point but with her spies probably everywhere, it was unlikely she didn't know. I had gotten after rather light with just the scolding, I think.

I mean she hadn't said a word about me drinking a little too much one night and making out with one of the guards. That had been an accident though! I mean...I fell and his lips accidentally touched mine. So see... total accident!

There also had not been a word spoken about badmouthing her and Duchess Grey to Lena. So apparently I could trust Lena not to run tattling to Mother or Duchess Grey about that, at least.

My attention turns to Zelene who is walking just off to my side and behind me. She's close enough that I could reach out and grab her hand if I wanted to. Which I don't! It was just an observation.

"I have read your resume, you are quite accomplished," I say, feeling awkward for how I speak. It was like when Mother used to set up playdates for me when I was a kid. I couldn't help but be awkward around people that had been arranged to meet me. I preferred more organic meetings although there weren't many of those that I got to have.

"Thank you, your majesty," Zelene says with a small smile.

"I am sure that you are just as accomplished. I mean you took the throne quite young. That makes for quite the impressive resume, I would think," she states, making me frown slightly.

"I didn't have much of a choice with that, the nobles demanded it and my mother gave in so she could remarry," I say quietly, not happy with how I had to take the throne. It was the illusion of choice, my mother was a powerful woman but against most of the nobles holding the same agreement, she only had a few options for choices.

"I heard that they were in support of you to take the throne. I suppose you were not in agreement with the idea," Zelene suggests and I nod.

"I did not enjoy having so much responsibility thrust on me all of a sudden, it was a nightmare. I was not ready but that was what they wanted, in the end, I think. Someone they hoped to take advantage of and profit from," I confess, for some reason feeling that I could trust Zelene with that information.

It wasn't exactly a secret but I rarely got to speak so freely about how I feel. I mean I was supposed to be able to but it seemed every time that I actually got to speak freely, it was turned against me. I suppose it was a test to see if Zelene would do the same, I could at least pretend that if she did use it against me.

"I am sorry your majesty, that must have been very hard for you," Zelene says softly.

"Yes...it was. People dream of the benefits of royalty but ignore all the responsibility it comes with. It's a thankless job that often leaves you looking like the villain," I say after a moment, nodding my head slightly.

"It's gotten easier as I've gotten older amd gotten more of a bearing but I still hold some resentment towards the nobles that pushed for me to take the throne so soon. Like Lady Corrila..." I say simply.

"I can understand holding grudges but I suggest not naming names. I have been told that people are always listening and to watch my tongue in these halls," Zelene states, the firmness in her tone surprising me.

"Yes, everyone but me seems to have the idea to hire their own little spies in the castle I call home. It's a pity that I have no one I can use for information on what my maids are up to. Lena is too timid for that. I have people elsewhere that listen for me and inform me of certain events too though, but apparently they don't even know the depth of the amount of people who spy on me," I sigh softly.

"You did not expect to have so many people spying on you? I would think it would be something you would expect the most. People love to have their noses in other people's businesses. Especially when it's someone over them, like you are," Zelene says, amusement coloring her tone.

"Yes, I expected to not be able to trust everyone and expected to be spied on. I should at least be able to trust my maids though. My personal ones, not the average maid, I mean," I say, correcting myself quickly.

"But I cannot trust them. I cannot say anything without it finding it's way into Duchess Grey's ears or my mother's," I sigh.

"Is that not a good thing?" Zelene asks and the question stops me in my tracks.

"Why would that be a good thing?" I question as I raise an eyebrow, trying to keep the annoyance and anger out of my tone.

"Because they can advise you whenever you may make a mistake," Zelene says and I roll my eyes.

"That may sound like a good idea but I trust my mother's ability to tell me what to do as far as I can throw her. I can't throw her at all, you would think I could but the woman is like pure muscle. It's very hard," I sigh dramatically.

"I doubt you have even tried to throw your mother," Zelene states, giving me an appraising look.

"Lady Euphemia does not seem like a woman you would want to upset," she says, making me shrug my shoulders.

"I upset my mother all the time. Why do you think she hired you? It wasn't because I'm some angel that always listens to what she says. You also misunderstand me. My mother isn't interested in the court's politics, not anymore. Her spies are just for my behavior," I say as we turn down another long hallway. Why did all these hallways have to look the same? I was going to have to put signs up because it was annoying to get lost in this maze of a castle.

"Your mother hired me because she knows you need an advisor who will actually do their job and make sure that you don't end up getting trashed by the nobles," Zelene says simply, making me frown slightly.

"The nobles wouldn't trash me. Even their arrogance has a limit," I state, not believing what I was saying because they very much would trash me at any opportunity.

"They start rumors for no reason other than to upset you," Zelene points out as we arrive outside the door to her room.

"You do not know the situation well enough to speak on it," I snap at her. "This is your room, goodnight Zelene," I say, my words short and to the point before I turn and walk away.

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