6: An Adventure in Moonlight

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"Is that really true?"

He nodded and gestured to himself, "Just look how I turned out."

"But you are one of the kindest people I know," Sophie thought back to all the times he was especially kind to her in the past two weeks since they met. There was the time he ran around with the triplets in the courtyard when the nursery closed early so Sophie could finish her duties. The time he found Bex crying after she scraped her knee on the steps outside and brought her into the infirmary; being so discreet about it that Sophie didn't find out until Bex told her at dinner that night. All the times he held the door open for her and kept her company while she was working even when he had duties to attend to as well and kept her updated on the palace gossip.

"My kindness does not reflect what goes on under the surface," he stated, clearly not ready to elaborate yet, so she changed the topic.

"You said before that your father was here to try and get your mother's name cleared. Why is that?"

"My family was once a well respected noble family. We were known for our regalness and coldness of heart, so already you can see where I struggled. I was a troublemaker and loved to play pranks, often getting Fitz in trouble in the process, but we had fun in those years," he said wistfully before he continued, "but they were a mistake. I dragged down the family name with my shenanigans, which would have been fine except for the discovery two years ago that my mother was a lead Neverseen member."

The rebel group's name gave her a chill, "Your mother was one of the ringleaders of the Neverseen? When?"

"Until she was caught last year, but our family name was already tarnished by then. Conspiracies of my father being in on it and the family as a whole being rotten by nature floated around court like tobacco smoke. It didn't help that the majority of the court disliked my father, only putting up with him because he was so respected, and half of the court people thought me a nuisance."

"And the other half?" Sophie dared to ask.

Keefe laughed a little, "Completely adored me of course, what did you expect? They thought I was a cute kid with energy the court severely lacked. Anyways, the only way to save it from complete and utter ruin was for me to take up an honorable position in the palace somehow. Luckily, Fitz's valet at the time retired, so there was an opening. Fitz was actually the one who had the idea for me to become his valet, and it worked out well enough. Now, two thirds of the court adores me now that I've 'become quite the grown man' and the rest tolerate me, but they're always keeping an eye out for me to mess things up."

"Is that what Biana meant when she said that court can be a bloodbath?"

He nodded, "Definitely. Only another reason I would love to escort you to dinner." He held out his arm for her to take, "Shall we?"

Sophie accepted his arm and together they walked to dinner where they met three bouncing triplets already getting yelled at by Madame Marbalade, the head nursery caretaker. Immediately Sophie scurried over, "Lex, Bex, Rex!" she scolded quietly, "sit in your seats and wait patiently for dinner. Calla can only serve so fast."

Keefe knelt down and leaned in close to the triplets, adding, "Besides, I hear she drops toenail clippings into naughty children who don't listen to their elders 's meals!"

The triplets gasped and hurriedly sat in their seats, which made Sophie laugh quietly to herself. She hadn't ever seen the triplets move so quickly to their seats! As Sophie and Keefe sat down together, Sophie couldn't help but think that he himself may have said that he came from a long line of bad parenting, but Sophie could now solidify her firm belief that Keefe was the break in the cycle.

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