Faery Godlover(3)

By: Lizzie Lynn Lee

“Oh, were you waiting on me?” he feigned surprise. “Where are my manners? I should have let you in. Come, let’s not keep the Queen waiting.”

Their footsteps echoed in the long halls as they made their way to the court, Duada swaggering in front of the guards as if they were his personal bodyguards. The guards didn’t approve, Duada knew it, but he didn’t pay them much mind. Although he was loath to admit it, the Queen was probably the only person in the palace who could pull rank on him, and the guards knew that though he was insolent, he wasn’t so insolent as to cross the Queen.

Otherwise, he might not enjoy his cushy position as long as he’d like.

The three rounded the corner into the throne room, where the majesty that was the Queen of the Summerland Court sat upon a high, crystalline throne in a sparkling green dress that would put any human princess to shame. Diamonds lined its hem, and its frills stuck out at least a foot from her shoulders, wafting in the breeze that flowed in through the windows high above the floors. Her hair spilled over her shoulder, and her amethyst eyes, that matched Duada’s, locked with his the moment he entered the throne room, their glint contrasting with the golden tiara inlaid with topaz resting on her head.

“My dear nephew,” she said as Duada moved past the assembled courtiers. There was a range of fae in the court from all ranks, from diplomats like the ambassador whose company he’d just enjoyed, to lowly attendants bearing platters of fine drinks for all who desired them. There were fewer people than usual at court today, which gave Duada a sickly feeling in the pit of his stomach; that usually meant the Queen was about to share bad news. The Summerland Queen carried her court as elegantly and lavishly as she did everything else, and airing out dirty laundry in public was not something she was fond of.

“Your majesty,” he replied, bowing respectfully, feeling the eyes of the other courtiers on him. That was a common enough feeling, given his reputation, but there was something he didn’t like about the attention today. “How may I be of service to Your Radiance today, dear Aunt?”

“Spare me the pleasantries, Nephew,” she said, waving her hand dismissively. Despite her bright and vibrant attire, her expression was aloof—more so than usual with Duada. “I summoned you here precisely because of your idea of ‘pleasantries.’”

Duada knew damn well where this conversation was going, which was why he was going to waffle as long as he possibly could. “I do apologize for my tardiness in responding to your summons. But I must say, though your luminosity outshines my own on the best of days, I wished to make myself presentable to-”

“You may dispense of your efforts to change the subject as well,” she cut him off, and he let his shoulders slump, not used to his games being nipped in the bud so early. “This has become a rather serious matter, Duada. I have received word from the duchess who visited our court last month,” she said, standing up and taking slow steps down the stairs of her throne.

Duada smiled, remembering the good duchess fondly. “I remember her, yes. Will she be visiting us again? Am I to organize some kind of welcoming feast?”

“On the contrary, her letter made it sound like you did most of the ‘feasting’ while she was here,” she said pointedly, reaching Duada’s level and looking at him sternly. Duada raised his eyes to the ceiling with an innocent smile as the Queen passed by. “From the sound of it, you feasted rather sumptuously with her, as well as five of her handmaidens, her personal cook, and the captain of her guard.”

There were a few whispers around the court as Duada folded his hands behind his back, and a few of the female courtiers blushed.

“All perfectly pleasant women to entertain, dear Aunt,” he said with a smile. He didn’t even remember fucking the cook, but there were a lot of things he didn’t remember about that particular night.

“Ordinarily, dear Duada,” she continued, striding up and down the court slowly, looking as ethereal and elegant as the aurora borealis, “I turn a blind eye to your dallying. You are a member of my highest ranking circle of relatives, and I appreciate your diplomatic talents.”

Duada was genuinely surprised at the compliment, and he offered a sincere smile. “I never knew you took my work to heart, your Majesty.”

“You know well that I pay close attention to all of the goings on in my court, Duada,” she said, rolling her eyes, “and in your case, I must sometimes pay closer attention than I’d like. What I’ve found has been causing a great deal of trouble.”

“Trouble?” Duada asked, tilting his head to the side and pursing his lips.

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