Nicholas put his hands on his hips and glared at his king. "Absolutely not."
This only got him a raised eyebrow.
Nicholas stood his ground. "I don’t care what our historical ties to the Magyar are. I don’t care how symbolically significant it is. I am not wearing that lavender velvet top hat!"
"Kucsma," Lui murmured. "Not a top hat." He leaned his chin in one palm, watching Nicholas with distant interest.
"I know you can perfectly well alter the Councilors’ uniforms. It’ll be a hopeful symbol of change, and all that rot, or at least Orphe will probably say it is."
Lui’s eyes glinted and Nicholas carefully refrained from smirking. He might not be as good a strategist as Lui or Daniel, but Lui-manipulation was a separate art, and one he followed with dedication.
"So, are you declining your appointment?"
Nicholas considered it. Yes, Lui was too practical to throw away a good tool, but he was also bloody minded enough to find a much worse post for Nicholas just to make his point. "No," he decided. "I’m perfectly happy to accept. I’m just not wearing that damn uniform."
"I’m sure something else can be arranged," Lui purred.
Nicholas snorted at this not-subtle-at-all threat. "Save your gold braid and and velvet for all the trained monkeys you’ve just inherited," he suggested.
As he’d hoped, that made Lui laugh, and he tossed off a casual salute before turning his back with calculated insolence and strolling out. He knew exactly what it was Lui valued him for, and he was more than willing to play on it if it got him out of that godawful, antique, showboat uniform. And if it resulted in some of the more obsequious, suck-up nobles inheriting the pastel velvet instead, well that was just fine with him. He thought it was good for Lui to have someone who would egg on his evil sense of humor.
He smiled cheerily at the official waiting outside the audience room doors and strolled down the corridor, whistle echoing insouciantly off the marble.