Chapter 24

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*Elizabeth's P.O.V*

"Can we talk, Elizabeth?" Mother asks, making me roll my eyes internally. Why was she asking? She always asked but it's not like she cared what I said. She would just talk and I would have to listen, like always.

"What is there to talk about?" I ask as I rest my head on my hand. A small yawn escapes me as I am already tired of this conversation. I furrow my eyebrows as I wait for her to start this assuredly long and boring conversation.

Mother makes her way up the steps of the gazebo, holding something in her hands. I furrow my eyebrows as I wait for her to speak. Although I am rather curious about what is in her hands.

"You had a point Elizabeth. One that I tried to ignore because I would rather believe that I tried my hardest to be the best mother for you. I am far from that, I know that but it takes a lot for me to admit that. I was...unfair to you when you were a child. I was grieving and I failed to realize that you needed me while you were grieving your father too," Mother says, making me furrow my eyebrows in confusion.

"What do you mean?" I ask hesitantly, steepling my fingers together as I stare at her. How could she not realize that I would need her while grieving Father? Wasn't it obvious?

"Logically I knew that you would grieve for him, that was obvious. I knew how much you loved him. But when comparing our grief, I thought you were coping much quicker than me. I mean you seemed fine compared to me. I was a mess Lizzie, a terrible mess but I did not want you to see. I couldn't let anyone see. So I pushed you away. I pushed you towards Lady Grey so that you could have someone that wasn't an emotional mess to lean on. It was supposed to be temporary," Mother says as she sits down on the little porch swing that is in the gazebo, deflating slightly.

"You always looked fine though. I don't recall you ever seeming disorganized or out of place or upset," I start to say.

"Because you were 8 Elizabeth! I did not want you to see me constantly crying. I couldn't. I had to be the strong one. For you... for this country... I couldn't show my grief or everything would have been lost. I wanted you to be able to process your grief in peace! I didn't want you to have to deal with the power plays that happen when a noble dies. All the vultures that sweep in. I was stuck grieving him, hating him for dying, and then grieving again, all while wearing a neutral mask," Mother says, her voice wavering.

"You deserved better than a mother who was a mess. You deserved someone like Lady Grey who could keep you happy, keep you busy with learning things. I thought...I thought if I did that then you would be fine. You didn't deserve that though! You were just a baby, you were my baby! I hate myself for pushing you away! I really do. And I know I'll never get that time back but I would love it if we could talk, Elizabeth. Actually talk about anything and not just about things related to being queen. About how you feel, or what you want to do in your limited free time, or even just talk about the past. About your father," Mother says, making me stand up.

I hesitantly walk over to her, sitting down on the swing beside her as I try to process all of the emotions that are flooding my mind. Mother doesn't say anything, not until I rest my head on her shoulder.

"Tell me about daddy," I whisper, Mother's eyes widening slightly before she gives me a soft smile, resting her head on mine.

"When you were born, he was such a bragger. I could have sworn that he was the one that gave birth to you with how much he talked about you. Always saying my baby this or my baby that," Mother says as she uncups her hands and shows me a small box. She opens it, pulling out a small photo that I take a look at.

I take a close look at it, observing how my father is holding me up in the air. It's clearly a photo taken without his notice as he's not even glancing at the camera. I mean it was a photo that had been taken while his guard was down.

"He used to say that you were the light of his life. Until you hit the terrible twos of course and then it became, oh you're Euphemia's daughter. No daughter of mine would act this way. As soon as you were behaving again, then he'd take you right back from me, claiming you as his again," Mother says as she wraps an arm around me, pressing a kiss to the side of my head as she pulls out another photo.

It's one of my father and mother and me. I'm sitting on Mother's lap, her crown clutched in my hands. I have such a happy grin on my face despite the tear tracks on my chubby cheeks.

"You threw such a fit over not getting my crown whenever you wanted it. You were always so mad that your father and I had pretty crowns on our heads and you didn't. It broke your heart to find out that all you got was a tiara as princess and I could have sworn you never would have stopped crying if I didn't let you hold mine," Mother says softly.

"Shouldn't I have been happy? It's much easier to wear a tiara and way lighter. Plus, your crown never has fit me," I say in confusion, looking at her.

"You were two years old Lizzie, you could care less about any of that. You just thought your father and I were meanies who wore them while you couldn't. In other words, you were upset for not getting your way after seeing something you couldn't have yet. Every chance you got you tried to take them and throw them across the room so we would be without them though. If I remember right, you would always claim if you couldn't wear one, no one could," Mother says, making me smile slightly. She rolls her eyes when she sees the smile on my face.

"What? Why are you rolling your eyes?" I ask with a fake upset look, wanting a chuckle from Mother.

"I just find it so obvious that you would think that was something to smile about. I mean I can't say I'm surprised, you're still my baby that likes to throw fits when you don't get your way. In fact, from some of your passed laws, I would say that's still your motto," Mother says as she presses a kiss to the top of my head as I pull away.

"I do not throw fits! And that isn't my motto!" I object since she is definitely wrong and I do definitely not throw fits when I don't get my way.

"Mmm are you definitely not the same girl who when she was 14 broke one of my favorite punch bowls because I wouldn't let you use it for a party, or had one of my favorite painting removed because I wouldn't approve of you hanging that painting that looked like they just spilt paint all over it. That daughter of mine is long gone," Mother stated dryly, making me duck my head. It had been one time, only one time I do those things and she never lets me live it down! She wasn't going to let me forget until the day I die at this rate.

"Your thumb," Mother says, making me realize that I'm biting the tip of my thumb. It had been a bad habit I developed when I was younger. I had gone from thumb sucking to just biting the tip of it when I was lost in thought. Mother and Ma had hated it, they had tried to get me to stop for so long and when I had finally just stopped, they had been happy for me.

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