It was evident that Selva was not entirely comfortable with that admission. “The Queen is someone his family held in high regard. Her portrait has rested in that exalted place for many years.” She paused slightly, choosing that moment to look down at her skirt. “Before you ask him about her and her mirror, please allow me to speak to him first.”
Edmund’s eyes narrowed slightly as he considered her response. He opened his mouth to ask what worried her but caught Elanore shaking her head vigorously at him from Selva’s other side.
“Of course,” the girl reassured the lady. “Is there anything we can do while we wait?”
It took Edmund calling her by name before Selva raised her head. But at least she seemed like her usual self as she addressed the hunter. “Ask Galahad to help you examine the paths you eventually want to take. Ask specifically about monsters and villages. But do not tell him or the other lions why. It will be a great deal of trouble if you do.”
The Countess turned her attention to Elanore. “You must know you will be perceived as a burden to Edmund. You must gather more stones and we will push your training forward.”
“You shall have all my free time.”
Selva chuckled slightly at the vehement response. “You should learn not to make such bold promises. Your time also belongs to others.” The woman meaningfully glanced Edmund’s way.
He cleared his throat, trying not to show his embarrassment at the suggestive remark. “There is one other thing I should tell you. Did the friar tell you of the King’s Guard that appeared in Crossroads to dispel the Unthings?”
His question caught her off guard. Selva straightened her back, sitting up in her seat. “I had not heard. Who are they?”
He was surprised she did not know. “I am afraid I cannot answer you. You will have to ask Father Lorrence when you meet with him later.”
“When I meet with him?” She raised her eyebrow not understanding why Edmund had phrased things this way.
Normally, the young couple would not be included in conversations with the leaders of the groups currently housed at the estate.
She shook her head as it occurred to her what meeting he referred to. “Since it is a matter of the outside world, you and Elanore should be there to listen. I will make sure you are summoned when it is time.”
Edmund opened his mouth to offer his thanks when a draft of cold air blew in from some unknown location.
Selva stood, her voice tight with concern. “I am afraid I must leave you. Is there anything else? “
“Nothing that cannot wait,” Edmund offered.
The older woman flashed a hurried smile as a door began to open. Elanore clasped his hand and pulled Edmund through it, allowing Selva to attend whatever errand called her.
They ended up outside in an unfamiliar hallway. Elanore peered around for a few seconds before she began to lead him along a gradually upward sloping path. They ended up near the backside of a familiar parlor that they had often frequented.
“Elanore.” Edmund’s attention drifted back her way. “Perhaps we should see the lions–“
But Elanore did not relinquish his hand. “Edmund, I must ask you something first.”
He knew by the sound of her voice that she meant to discuss a serious matter. He led her to a comfortable seat beneath a large glass window.
“Edmund,” she repeated his name as he sat next to her, signaling her own anxiety. “I think we may have made a mistake in consulting her. I felt distress from her.”
He had seen evidence of that as well but thought Selva’s concern had passed quickly. Elanore, however, was more often right about the other woman’s feelings. “Did I do wrong when I questioned her claims about my parentage?”
Elanore considered that for a moment. “No. I don’t think that surprised her. I think she understands. I sensed she was upset about the queen.”
Upon replaying that conversation in his mind, he had to agree. “I suppose it was some form of jealousy?”
“Yes, I think so. Or something close to that I would guess.”
Her forehead wrinkled in worry. Edmund’s fingers reached out and tried to coax that crease to disappear. Lightly he asked, “And how should one deal with a jealous woman?”
“I would not know,” Elanore said faintly, distracted by the teasing sound in his voice and her suitor’s actions. Her hands came to rest upon her lap, uncertain where they belonged at that very moment. “Perhaps he should tell her he loves her?”
“I do not think that is the way he is made,” Edmund mused. “But she knows him better than either of us.”
“Is there anything we can do this time?” Elanore rested her cheek on the hand that Edmund offered her. She closed her eyes. “I do not wish to see her suffer.”
He leaned over and kissed her on the top of her head, always surprised by the depth of her compassion for others. “I think we need to observe things a bit more. We still don’t know either very well.”