"When you became pregnant?" the Emperor's mother said. "What a nice way of putting it." She sniffed laughter and fingered her wine glass. "Go on, girl."
"When... when I became pregnant, Your Grace, I knew it must be your son's child. I've lain with no-one else since he passed through me village near Nibenay-"
"When he passed though my village," Candyce corrected the girl's grammar.
"Pardon, Your Grace, when he passed through your village."
Candyce sighed. "You have not even a passing acquaintaince with proper syntax, do you my love?" she said flatly. "Don't bother to answer. But do stop calling me Your Grace. I'm not a queen. My only title is The Lady of Topal Bay - and that's a mouthful I'd rather not hear you stumble through. 'My lady' will serve."
"That's not true, m'lady," her older guardsman leaned down. "You're also Duchess of Kvatch, if you remember."
"Am I?" Candyce Mede shrugged.