Chapter 17

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

When I wake up in the morning, it's to the sound of something being set down on the nightstand next to me. My eyes snap open and I turn my head to look to see what the sound was from right next to me. I'm surprised to see Zelene setting down a teapot but I try not to show my surprise as I slowly sit up.

"Good morning your majesty," she says as I give her a blank look. I glance to the open curtains and see that the sun is barely peeking over the horizon.

"It is not yet morning. I do not consider it morning until the sun is all the way up so it is not yet a good morning," I state as I lay back down, earning a small laugh from Zelene. Her laugh is pretty, very pretty. I think it would be weird to tell her that though so I just bite my tongue instead of speaking.

"Well I consider it morning once the moon has set which it has," Zelene states as she pours me a cup of tea, offering the steaming cup to me. I carefully take it, wrapping my hands around it like it is a mug as I enjoy the warmth that radiates from it. I feel kind of cold this morning but I blame that on the fact that I was up so early.

"Could you maybe consider morning to be a little later? I am a light sleeper and I do not like having people coming into my bedroom so early, waking me up," I state plainly, watching the way her eyes flicker over to me in amusement.

"My apologies, I assumed that since you knew how busy your schedule is that you would pick an early start time," Zelene says with a smile that's just a little bit unsettling. I huff at that, my cheeks puffing out slightly as I look at her.

"I manage my schedule just fine even without getting up this early," I state as I have to sit up slightly more to drink the tea, surprised when my tongue is hit with a bitter taste. The tea tastes kind of earthy and yet spicy at the same time? It's a combination that has my mind reeling for just a moment.

"It's called Assam tea. It should give you the energy you need to start your day," Zelene says. "And please sit up your majesty, I would rather you not risk choking by laying down," she states, her voice having a surprisingly firm edge to it.

"I do not risk choking and besides, I did sit up, only a little bit but I still sat up," I state as I take another sip just to prove my point. It ends up backfiring thoroughly when I swallow too quickly and the tea causes me to cough. Zelene takes the teacup from me as I sit up, her free hand moving to pat my back.

"Are you alright?" Zelene asks after a moment and I clear my throat and nod.

"I'm fine," I say, after a moment, rubbing my throat to get rid of the sore feeling that seems to cling to it.

"I told you that you should sit up," Zelene says, her voice holding a slightly stern edge to it that makes me pause. She sounds like such a mom with that tone that I have to double check that my mother isn't in the room.

"If you think about it, it really was your fault for making me feel like I had a point to prove," I state after a moment as I put my hands on my hips. Her lips twitch slightly into a frown at my words, her eyes narrowing slightly.

"I did not make you feel like you had to prove a point. I simply tried to explain why I wanted you to sit up. It isn't my fault you took that as a challenge," Zelene says, her tone bordering on disrespectful. "Now your majesty, when will your maids be here to help you get ready?" she asks as she raises an eyebrow.

"I do not know. Lena will most likely not be here today and she is the one that usually makes sure everything is on time," I state, watching Zelene's eyebrows furrow.

"Why will she not be here? Is she ill? Could you be ill?" Zelene asks as she reaches out to touch my forehead with the back of her hand. I'm so startled by the action that I can't even bring myself to protest what she's doing.

"Her son is ill, she told me so last night," I state as I reach up to push Zelene's hand away.

"I am perfectly fine," I say, chuckling when she looks a little abashed.

"I am sorry, I think I may have overstepped," Zelene apologizes, making me shake my head.

"You're fine," I say as I get up, shivering at how cold the floor feels. I think the right decision is staying in bed until one of the maids comes to restock the fire. At least then the floor doesn't feel like ice. I walk over to my divider, surprised to see a dress already hanging up for me.

It's a light blue dress, one that goes down to my knees and in the back, has a train that fluffs out behind it. It's a long sleeve and off the shoulder at the same time which I adore. I bite my bottom lip as I study it. I had never seen this dress before, it was a new sight to me and I look over at Zelene questioningly.

"Your mother had it made for you. She said that you would like it," Zelene responds to my unasked question as I nod my head. I turn around, walking over to my vanity to grab a bra and underwear before I go back to the divider and step behind it.

I shed my nightgown, watching the flowy fabric hit the floor before I get fully undressed and then put on my underwear and bra. I reach around to grab the dress, huffing when I realize that it's just barely out of my reach. I don't want to tug on it and risk ripping it or letting it drop on the floor.

"Would you like my help?" Zelene asks and I think it over before sighing.

"Yes please," I agree, hearing her chuckle as she walks over and I hear the dress move. Despite wearing a bra and underwear, I still feel kind of exposed so I feel my face heat up even when she holds the dress around the corner for me to take. I take the dress, carefully slipping it on before I step out from behind the divider.

Zelene helps fluff the dress out, her fingers nimble and quick as she offers me a small smile. I fix my sleeves to avoid having to say anything, feeling awkward with having her be so helpful. None of my other advisors had ever woken me up, something I was still upset about, but none of them had ever helped fix my dresses either. Zelene's kindness was making my head spin and I didn't know how to react to it all.

Thankfully I don't have to as Zelene lets me stay lost in my thoughts, her attention turning to the maids that are just now entering the room. I kind of zone out what she is telling them as I continue to mess with my sleeves and think about her kindness. Was I weird for being confused by it? I hoped not. Maybe I could ask Lena whenever she came back to work. I decide with a small nod that yes, that is exactly what I will do.

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