Chapter 22

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

Zelene is actually quite nice to me. I mean nicer than I thought she would be. She seems to actually care about her job unlike some of my advisors. Some of them had actually been quite mean to me at times. Not in like an obvious way but obvious enough that I could see what they were doing.

"Elizabeth," My mother's voice startles me out of my thoughts. What could she possibly want now? I had only just started working on the new laws and hadn't noticed her enter. It couldn't be anything that important. I glance up, pausing when I see that Duchess Grey is with her. I hated when the two got together. They always caused me problems. I mean, they always acted like they were a team. Something two stubborn women should never be.

"How can I help you?" I ask after a moment, knowing that my words are false and I only say them cheerily so that I don't get a lecture about being rude. I mean it wasn't my fault that most of the time it was easier to ignore them than to acknowledge them.

"Beth, we need to have a little chat," Duchess Grey says, making me flinch. A little chat was never a good thing. It always meant that I was probably going to get in trouble. I bow my head slightly, refusing to look at either of them.

"Nothing to talk about. I haven't done anything wrong," I say as I look down at my desk, signing my signature on one of the lines of the law I was reading. It was going to tighten checks on tradeships, making sure that people weren't smuggling in anything illegal like drugs or weapons.

"Elizabeth," Mother says a little more sharply, making me tighten my grip on my pen, the ink splattering slightly because of how hard I press down.

"I've done nothing to justify being scolded for," I say simply, refusing to look in her direction. I was not in the mood to chat with her or the duchess. It didn't help that I was still hungry from not finishing my breakfast and Zelene had disappeared a few moments ago.

"Perhaps you have since you assumed we were coming here to scold you," Duchess Grey says as she walks over, having no issue with taking a spot on one of the couches in the room. I rarely had people use them. They were mostly for decoration and for me to occasionally take a nap in the middle of the day when I got tired and didn't feel like going to my room.

"I haven't. I just know that you're usually too busy to spend time with me unless I've done something to upset you, especially if you both are here together," I state after a moment, rolling my eyes. I couldn't believe that she would be so mean as to accuse me of doing something that they wouldn't approve of.

"Beth, that's such a cruel way to speak to your mother and I," Duchess Grey says, making me put my hand over my heart.

"Yeah, I've heard the truth hurts. I'm sure that you don't know that though," I state with a small shrug of my shoulders, offering a small smile which makes her raise an eyebrow.

"We should have washed your mouth out much more often when you were younger. Perhaps then you wouldn't be so bratty," Duchess Grey mutters as Mother sits on the chair in front of my desk.

"What are you here for, Mother?" I ask after a moment, raising an eyebrow.

"You have been keeping secrets from me. I do not like when you do such things. Such as the fact that you are having trouble sleeping during the night and during the day, you are nearly falling over with how tired you are. I do not appreciate having to be contacted by one of your physicians who worries that your health is declining to find this information out," Mother states.

Of course she knew about that! Couldn't anything in this place be a secret? It was my health, my sleep, and it wasn't any of her concern. Yet she knew it all like the information about me that was so casually discussed between my physician and her wasn't any of her business. My records are supposed to be private!

"Can I have one thing that you don't stick your nose in? Is it so hard for you to let me have some privacy?" I snap, my years of frustration erupting.

"You were always my queen, never my mother. You never cared before now. It's not fair that you pretend like you care now," I say sharply, a small feeling of satisfaction forming in me when I see how she flinches back at my cruel words.

"I have always cared-" Mother starts to say, saying nothing when I cut her off again.

"No you haven't! You have NEVER, never concerned yourself with me. Not unless it benefited you in some way. You only wanted me to become queen so that you could run off and marry that fucking merchant that you longed for for so fucking long!" I say, pushing myself up quickly. Mother rises with me, meeting my gaze.

"I understand. I do understand that you may feel that way at times. But that isn't what happened Elizabeth, " Mother says slowly, trying to placate me. It's like she's trying to soothe me. Like I'm a child who needs her to stay calm and collected. I want her to scream, to yell. It would make this conversation a lot easier if she would just do what I wanted.

"That is what happened. You got to run off and marry him. To finally live your perfect fantasy. I can't even get you to tell me much about father anymore. It's like you're ashamed of him or something!!" I retort, making her suck in a breath. I can see tears in her eyes but I can't bring myself to care.

"I will not allow you to say such things! I loved your father. He was a wonderful man and I cherish the time we spent together. But I am allowed to move on from my grief. I can hold love in my heart for the memories of him and still love another. He will always be my first husband, the father of my child. I would tell you whatever you asked me of him. IF you ever asked, that is. You haven't asked in years. I cannot read your mind Elizabeth. You must ask me things and not act as if I am purposefully keeping them from you when you finally do," Mother snaps, her voice making me duck my head slightly at her words.

"You are!! You are keeping things from me. That's why you jumped at the chance to shove me off onto someone else to care for. It wasn't fair that I was pushed onto Grey for most of my life after dad! She's my ma but she is not my mother! It's not fair that I lost you at the same time! You were never here in the moments that I needed you. You would just send me off to ma instead of comforting me yourself," I snap back, feeling tears trickle down my face.

"Elizabeth, Euphemia. Maybe we should all just step back from this conversation for a moment before we say anything else," Duchess Grey tries to intervene, getting up to grab my mother's elbow. I watch them leave, only just now realizing that Zelene is back. How much of our fight had she seen or heard I have no idea... I hoped none of it but I knew that I was never that lucky.

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