It was hard for her to take him seriously. It wasn’t that he didn’t look the part, because these days he certainly did. He was so much taller than when she last saw him. He had their father’s strong jaw and their mother’s blue eyes that could cut to your soul if you let them, perfectly cut blonde hair, and broad shoulders all dressed up in the well-tailored fashion—he looked every part the King that he’d become.
But it was very hard to take a man seriously when you once watched him run around in his underwear with his pants on his head. And by one she meant every time their mother took her eyes off him for longer than three minutes all the way up to his seventh birthday.
But, in spite of all that, she remembered her manners and curtsied low. “Your grace, I swear my allegiance to you as our one true king, if you will welcome as much.”
“Your allegiance is greatly appreciated and humbly accepted. Rise, subject, and take my blessing.” It was the practice often recited phrase, but he rushed through it as quickly as his mouth would allow him. She stood slowly and gracefully as she had been taught, but saw that the regal king wasn’t there anymore, but her little brother bouncing on the balls of his feet and waiting for all the pomp and circumstance to be done.
He grinned his goofy smile and waited until she was fully standing before he rushed forward and pulled her into a hug. “Oh, Lizzie! It’s so good to see you. I’m glad you’ve come home. I thought you might stay abroad the full ten years that Father sent you for.”
“And miss chance to see your rule, Arnie? Not a chance.” Even though he was much taller than her now, she still held his face on both sides and pulled him down so she could kiss him on the forehead the way she did when they were little and she helped to tuck him in at night.
“So, you’ll stay? I know you enjoyed being an Ambassador for Father and you do good work with keeping relations healthy, but I would love it if you’d be on my council, Lizzie.”
She straightened up, and with a formality that could almost be considered mocking she dipped into another proper curtsy. “I’ll do as you wish, Lord, Grace, and Brother.”
“No, no, no,” Arnold almost whined as he pulled her out of the curtsy. “You are my big sister and the only person who gets to decide completely for themselves. Do you want to stay, or do you want to go?”
Elizabeth smiled her own version of his goofy smile. “I’d like to stay with you, Arnie. It feels good to be home.”