New look for A Tale of Two Kingdoms.
This is a “clip” depicting Grieve’s introduction to the saga in Book IV, Moonlight. The following exchange is with his boss, Duff Torguil, prince of the Scotia Fae.
At first it had annoyed Duff that Grieve jumped in his chair whenever Duff opened the door to the outer offices and spoke to him. Grieve had been appointed by his father without giving the prince any say in the matter. Whatsoever. As usual. But eventually he came to terms with the fact that there was an odd little bespectacled man sitting just outside the entrance to his suite of rooms. He managed this internal resolution largely by appreciating the humor of the thing.
Grieve’s display of shock had become part of Duff’s day to day reality and one that he’d come to look forward to. In fact, he imagined that, should Grieve develop nerves of steel, he, Duff Torquil, Prince of the Scotia Fae and heir to the throne, would be forced to devise ways to deliberately create surprises, simply for the pleasure of seeing Grieve jump, gasp, and clutch his chest.
With that thought, Duff lowered his chin into his chest and chuckled while Grieve got himself together.
“Grieve,” Duff repeated.
“Aye, your Highness.”
“Please send an additional reception invitation to an Istvan Baka at the Black Swan Charitable Corporation offices, Charlotte Square.”
“But, sir, there are no odd invitations left to offer.”
“Are you goin’?”
Grieve pushed his glasses higher on his nose. “Oh, aye. My presence is expected.”
“Do you want to go?”
Grieve hesitated, mouth open, while trying to decide whether it would be in his interest to speak plainly or not. “I, ah…”
“The truth, man.”
“There you have it then. Problem solved.” Duff ducked his head back into his rooms and began to close the door.
“But, sir, your father…”
The prince opened the door and reappeared, but without his customary affable and approachable expression. He was clearly not pleased and might even have been scowling, although it could be hard to tell on such a beautifully smooth and youthful face.
“Who do you work for, Grieve?”
“Is that a question or an answer?”
“An answer, sir?”
“Hmmm. Well. I understand that my father hired you.”
“But he is no’ in a position to oversee the minutia of my affairs every day. Do you no’ agree?”
Grieve nodded. “Aye, sir?”
“Well, then it seems you must make a choice. Is your loyalty to the one who appointed you or to the one whom you serve?”
Grieve paused for only a moment before standing and pulling his shoulders back. “My loyalty is to you, sir. You can rely on me.”
Truly, Duff was half joking and had not expected the equivalent of a chivalric vow of service, but seeing that the little man was serious, the prince was touched and decided not to dismiss it as a jest.
“Thank you, Grieve. I will treasure your declaration and count on it, from this day forward.”
Looking like he had just experienced the best moment of his life, Grieve smiled like he’d just been knighted.
Duff withdrew and closed the door, but stowed away in his heart the knowledge that allies could be made from something so small as a little respect and recognition.
from Victoria’s Journal…
I arranged to meet Haversfil Grieve at a tea room of his choice. It’s actually a combination tea room and rare book store. It was an interesting place for an interview, eclectic but relaxing in the way that a combination of tea, old books and a cloudy day are guaranteed to relieve stress for a particular sort of person.
and stood to welcome me when I approached his table. The subject’s presentation was even more proper than I expected. He cut a trim little figure wearing a three piece striped suit with a starched pocket square. The addition of an antique pocket watch with chain and round glasses in gold wire frames complete the suggestion of anachronism. The only hint that there is an individual style hoping for an opportunity to escape the confines of caricature are the two-tone saddle oxfords on his feet.
As he sat he reached in his vest pocket for the watch and glanced at it. I don’t know if that was to punctuate the fact that I was two minutes late or to send a message that his time was at a premium. I ordered a Russian Black tea, removed my scarf and began the recording.
Victoria: Mr. Grieve, thank you for joining me and for agreeing to give an interview.
Grieve: My pleasure, madam.
Victoria: I understand that you were a secretary in the king’s offices before you came to work for the prince. So let me ask how you find the position.
Grieve: (smiles ever so slightly) ‘Tis a vocation, but still a job, you know.
Victoria: Perhaps. Will you expand that thought?
Grieve: Well, as to the good, I am the totality of the prince’s staff whereas, in the king’s offices, I was one of several.
Victoria: Ah. Big fish, little pond.
Victoria: Never mind. Please go on.
Grieve: I do no’ wish to complain nor do I wish to leave an impression of complaint.
Victoria: I understand and promise not to portray you as a whiner.
Grieve: (scowls at my use of the word “whiner”) As I was sayin’, I’m very pleased to be in the prince’s employ. Naturally. As anyone would be.
Grieve: The prince is very young and…
Grieve: And no’ entirely serious minded.
Victoria: (I study Grieve for a couple of heartbeats.) As he should be?
Grieve: Aye. As he should be.
Victoria: Can you give my readers an example?
Grieve: Well, when I’m workin’ I’m very concentrated on what I’m doin’, which means that somethin’ unexpected is likely to give me a start.
Victoria: Yes. I see. And how does that relate to your position as the prince’s secretary?
Grieve: (looks around nervously, leans forward, and speaks in a hushed tone) There are times when I believe he may startle me deliberately.
Grieve: Aye. I have no proof, you understand. ‘Tis a suspicion only.
Victoria: (I find I need to clear my throat before proceeding.) Is that the only way in which you find his Highness not serious minded?
Grieve: Oh, no. He’s always plannin’ escapades with his fellows from school. Huntin’ or pubbin’ or galavantin’.
Victoria: You mean in the sense of cavorting?
Grieve: (narrows his eyes as if he suspects I may be putting him on) Enough about that. Time is short.
Victoria: As you wish. Tell me about your typical day.
Grieve: Very well. I arrive promptly at seven in the mornin’ and have a scone with Irish Breakfast Tea at my desk while I organize the prince’s early calls and appointments. The phone will begin ringin’ ‘round nine with people askin’ if the prince is available for this or that. It could be anythin’ from posin’ for a photo with a junior rugby team to bein’ a date for a charity date auction. (I giggle. Grieve seems to enjoy making me laugh and smiles in response.) Aye. I suppose ‘tis humorous at that. The money some females are willin’ to pay for his attention is astoundin’ to be sure.
‘Tis my job to make sure the prince’s schedule is populated with activities worthy of the royal presence, without double bookin’, and make sure he is where he needs to be when he needs to be there.
I leave between seven and nine dependin’ on the to-be-done stack.
Victoria: So you’re saying you work fourteen hours a day sometimes?
Victoria: And what do you do for fun?
Victoria: Would it be too personal a question to ask if you have a girlfriend?
Grieve: A girlfriend?
Victoria: A special friend then?
Grieve: (blushes) My work keeps me busy.
Victoria: Hmmm. Well, the prince is certainly lucky to have someone so completely devoted to him and dedicated to the work.
Grieve: (sits up a little straighter) You might think so, but he does no’ particularly appreciate my approach. He’s always sayin’ thin’s like, “Grieve. Go home.” Or, “Grieve, have you thought of takin’ up the fiddle?” I sincerely hope that he comes to better understand the gravity of his station before he becomes king or Fae Gods help us.”
Victoria: Don’t worry yourself about it, Mr. Grieve. I have it on good authority that Duff will be a fine king when the time comes.
Duff was unable to attend the dinner he arranged to thank the tour guides for their help. After giving up on persuasion as a tactic, he resorted to threats, but eventually Grieve acquiesced and shuffled out of the office to host the dinner party in the prince’s stead. The tour guide supervisor, who had not actually been invited, but crashed on the off chance she wouldn’t be turned away, shoved a girl out of the chair next to Grieve so that she could sit by his right hand.
The bottom half of the woman’s natural blonde hair was dyed fuchsia and practically glowed in the dark. She wore one ear bare and the other collared with a feather and wire design that hung to her collar bone. Grieve had no personal experience with leftovers from the punk era of London’s Soho District. That was probably why he found her so fascinating that he could barely look away.
Originally published on http://fangswandsandfairydust.blogspot.com/