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Thread: The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God [M - Hannelorian x DuchessLivilla]

  1. #991
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    "When our wives were children..." Arthur began knowing full well he might upset his father, though he hoped not too terribly. "They were taught all number of prayers, but if you were to ask either one of them which one they remember most fervently, it is rather simple." The Prince brought himself to smile as though reflecting on a happy memory or tale, but it was rather the opposite. "Give me children else I die." Arthur shook his head, a part of relieved even if he would not admit it as such that his wife had in fact given him not one but two wonderful children. "They prayed to God every night, begged him to give them children one day. Though I suspect what they both truly meant, was to give them sons."

    Arthur inhaled slowly on the cigar, generally he was not one for such things but this holiday season seemed an appropriate time for such indulgences and moments with his father. "Sons inherit, sons determine their success as wives. That's all they've ever been taught. And while you may tell Arabella you would be thrilled with a daughter, that it would not change her standing your eyes, it changes her standing in the law. And she would never believe you." The Prince looked up to the ceiling and sighed.

    "Think of her suffering. Years spent with an old man, the most fertile and prime years of her life and God gave her nothing. But therein lies just how special she is. How unique, magical, a unicorn of sorts of women." Arthur mused rather interestedly, though he left out his copious notes on Arabella's cruelty. "The late Duke disposed of two women who could bear him no children. But he kept her around. No matter how many times she failed, he kept her there in his clutches. He would never let her go. Now isn't that something? A man who had failed so miserably at her own duty was so beloved he would have stayed with her an eternity if he could." The great love between Arabella and Richard was arguably their own redeeming quality for their time together.

    "And not just him. Even before my beloved mother died, the moment Arabella because the Duchess of Suffolk, she may as well have been Queen. Everyone at court listened to her, followed her. They begged to keep her company, to be invited to her legendary parties. The proverbial belle of the ball. She defied what her place she have been and ascended to such great heights." Arthur look a long sip on the drink in his hand.

    "The country adores her, truly. She's your biggest asset. And she would do anything for you. It doesn't matter what Arabella's reasons are... but she would. She would stab Alex through the heart, her own sister if you commanded such of her. She's remarkable woman, beautiful, if not a little old fashioned. Her elegance and grace is virtually unobtainable by anyone else. And yet nothing in her life is truly safe if she doesn't have a son." Arthur in his ignorance could not see the irony of the statement, that even a son wasn't enough to keep her safe. After all, as far as he knew, his mother was dead.

    "It's very kind of you to allow for separate events. Alex will be truly grateful to have that moment with the children. And having Her Majesty there will make Alex equally happy. The distance between the two of them has been difficult on Alex. Though now she will have more than her hands full with the children to keep her busy. And of course nothing would take away from the grandeur of the Queen's event when the time comes. The nation shall rejoice in the birth of the child, and they should not be deprived of their Queen's grace and serenity."

    Arthur reflected for a moment further. "The new Duchess of Kent would be a fine choice, certainly a strong candidate." Arthur made no motion to correct his father that her name was in fact Alice. He wouldn't care, nor would he retain that information or worse, he already knew that it was Alice and he simply chose to use the wrong name, perhaps to irritate. He supposed it didn't matter. "You are making up for everything now. This is a wonderful Christmas so far. I can't wait to see how it continues. As for the Godfather, I have not yet decided."
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

  2. #992
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    The King frowned at his son's words, his gaze on the fire in the grate. "Give me children or else I die," he said softly, mulling over the words it seemed. "I remember my mother saying that when we prayed in the chapel...I asked about it and she merely said it was a woman's prayer. I gave it no more thought..."

    He sipped his brandy, lost in thoughts of what his son had said. Finally he said, "I see, lad. I think understand. The prayer was set down in the bible, I recognise it from the tale of the handmaid Bilah...A woman's value comes from her ability to have children only, and more so sons as their inherit and so my dear wife believes this firmly. Thus what I say shall have no effect. Funny, really," he said, without any humour. "Normally she listens to what I say. I see it is more than that though. She shall only be happy if she has a son, no matter what I say. Well, I shall speak no more on daughters then."

    He nodded, half to himself, "The Queen is a pious woman and I shall not correct her in this, nor go against Father Lennox, who I am sure has said the same to her. We must have a son, for her sakes...I fear she shall never be happy if it is a daughter..."

    Christian chewed his lip then drained his glass of brandy, refilling it without a thought. Time of day or what he had to do next were never any bar to him drinking as much as he wished. He had a good tolerance for it, after all, and a few glasses would not concern him. He had been a heavy drinker since he was a teenager and was not about to stop now.

    He was firmly of the view that 'a King can do as he likes'. Time would tell whether the rest of his country agreed.

    "Ah yes, Richard," Christian chuckled. "I could not quite believe he managed to win her. I was shocked, I must admit. I had always had my eye on Arabella for some years." The fact that Bella married Richard when she was all of 18, it was a bit disconcerting to hear the King say he had 'had his eye' on the young woman long before that. Especially given that he was yet married at that point. He chuckled, "We all jested about him. It was clearly his fault there were no children...The second Duchess had a bastard in the mad-house, you know! So clearly it was not her...Of course, we teach the ladies that it is never the husband. It cannot be the husband but everyone knew it was..."

    Neither man knew, and it was just as well that Bella wasn't there to hear it and be terrified, that they were hovering rather close to an uncomfortable, if not fatal, point here! One never knew how the King's mind worked...how easy it would be for him to slowly put two and two together here...If it was Richard's fault and he had never had a child from any wife...until some years into his marriage with Arabella...surely...the question would be who had helped his wife with that little issue?!

    "Of course, he was as pious a man as could be. I was often touched by his devotion to his faith and then to Bella. A fine and decent man, even if he had what I wanted." The King swirled his brandy around his glass thoughtfully. "Truly, he was a good man...I often miss him in councils. He had a way about him that was amusing and useful. I was, genuinely, overjoyed when the Queen found herself finally pregnant by him. He deserved a legacy, something all men want. A shame he did not long live to see the child...nor the child be long for the world."

    Christian sighed, "Still, it proved the Queen was right for the role she now has. I might have thought twice...As I said, we all knew it was Richard's fault but still...who was to say it was not an issue for both? Once she had the child, I knew she was suitable."

    He might as well have been speaking of a cow in the Royal dairies not a flesh and blood woman he claimed to care about.

    "Stab her sister?" The King laughed and took a drink. "Would she really?" He added, gazing at his son with a blank expression for a moment; one couldn't tell if he was jesting or thinking about demanding it just to see what would happen. Then he laughed and the moment passed. Somewhat. "Ah, I doubt that lad. Not that I would ever demand it of her. It would damn her soul and I would never risk the Queen's heavenly realm like that."

    Stabbing her sister to death and the loss and grief to both the Queen, Arthur and their children, as well as the pain to Alexandra were not the issue, of course...just the Queen going to heaven...So that was nice to know!

    "You are correct though. The people love her deeply. Of course," he laughed jovially, "They love me also. I am their father, in a way, and they love and respect me, but it is not the same. One always loves one's mother more than one's father, I know that myself. She does her duty well as a Queen. Of course," he smirked, "I have never been overly concerned about the people's love...it is not needed, as far as I am concerned. I shall be respected and obeyed. Love...." he made a face at the very idea. "What need of that have we?"

    Had Alexandra been there, she might, to test the waters have brought up the French Revolution, and told him exactly what happened when the Royals lost the love of the commons. Of course, Christian in his arrogance would have ignored it. Or said something along the lines of how fickle the French were. That would never happen here, he was quite sure of it.

    Christian beamed, "Ah, that warms my heart lad, to hear you tell me. I hoped I had made some amends. We all make mistakes, after all. But it is all in the past now. We shall have a fine time. A real family Christmas. I only wish the children were a little older. How much fun they would have. Still, that time will come!"
    "Ye mustn't be afraid to ask for help. Pride is a good thing, my girl, but it will kill you in time." - Granny Weatherwax

  3. #993
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    The Queen and Princess of Wales briefly parted ways, Arabella to attend to the final preparations and Alex to fetch her newborn children who would be featured in the day's celebrations. The room which Arabella entered, a soft blue drawing room, had been entirely transformed. The rugs and furniture had been removed leaving only the bare wooden floor, which by this point had been covered in straw and hay almost entirely (save for right near the hearth, lest one have a fire!). A wooden structure had been erected within the room with all the features of the manger.

    Arabella had even had some livestock, sheep and the like brought in to fill out the scene. No expense had been spared to create the perfect scene for the tableau. The costumes were hand made in appropriate fabrics, all chosen by the Queen herself. Each member of court who was participated had been purposely selected for their roles. After all, not just anyone could portray the blessed Virgin Mary. The figures had been dressed and with Arabella's guidance each person was carefully placed and positioned. The room smelled of animal and hay, something that would undoubtedly take someone a great deal of time to remedy when this was all over.

    To say the Queen was pleased with herself would have been an understatement. Arabella did everything in her power to bring the spirit of Christmas to Windsor, to the Royal family and to Court itself. This would be the last the men and women of court would see of the Royals this holiday. Arabella was the embodiment of everything a Queen of England was supposed to be, she gave entirely of herself and richly rewarded the servants for making her visions come to life.

    As Alexandra would re-emerge the Queen would quietly send word to her husband through a servant that all was prepared and ready for the event.

    Arthur had absorbed what his father had said and strongly resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Much like his wife would have been reminded of the French Revolution and the danger of disenfranchising one's people, he had much the same idea though would prefer to stay silent on the issue. What did, however, weigh on his mind was a funny little notion. Richard's death had been most convenient. Arabella had proven she could become pregnant. Arthur wondered for the smallest of moments whether it was possible that his father had a hand in the man's untimely death. Yes, he was ill. But it all just seemed so terribly sudden. Especially given how Arabella had barely left his side.

    Arthur thought little more of it when a knock at the door, and a beckoning to enter. A footman bowed and moved up to the King where he whispered into his ear that the time had come for the tableau.
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

  4. #994
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    Alexandra entered the room and stopped, marvelling at it all. "My word!" She exclaimed, "Animals too! Bella, you have outdone yourself...I am hearing mama's voice in the back of my mind, screaming about dirt!" She laughed, "Really, it looks wonderful."

    She was carrying her son, and her maid had Victoria; once again, it was on purpose...Alex having hold of the precious heir. She smiled at the baby then said to the Queen, "I thought perhaps Vicky for the infant Jesus rather than this little one. He has been a little fussy and I would hate for it to ruin the display."

    The Princess knew full well her sister would understand her true motives; no way was she going to have her son, the hope of the future and the one at risk if anything were to happen, away from her surrounded by the King's cronies. An 'accident' could easily happy. Victoria was far safer, not to mention, the King fairly doted on her and seem genuine. He would not harm her.

    "Is the King taking part or just viewing?" She asked, smiling. One never knew with Christian. He might have wanted to be in it, showing off. Or suddenly decide to and throw it all into chaos.

    --

    The King looked up at the footman and listened then nodded, drained his glass and abandoned his half finished cigar in the marble ashtray beside him. "We are summoned!" He chuckled, "I was not allowed to help much in the Queen's plans so I have no idea what it shall all entail. I am merely under orders to enjoy the show."

    He clapped his son on the back and they set off together. "I remember a tableau* when I was a child. India was very much the thing then being so new and all things Indian were hungrily sought by the court. It was a magical scene I must say, with real costumes from India and music and so on. I was...oh, about six I would say, and I had to be bribed to leave the room when it was done. I was enchanted by it. I had quite forgotten that until now...I must look into India, see how it is doing. I cannot go, of course, such a shame, but perhaps you and the Princess could in my stead. A state visit..."

    He nodded, pondering that. "I shall think on it. Ah, here we are," they reached the double doors into the blue room. The liveried footman swept the doors open and Arabella's vision was unveiled. Christian, like Alex before him, stopped and stared, mouth parted in amazement as he took it all in. The wooden structure, the straw, the animals, the courtiers all arranged as they should be in their lavish costumes.

    It was as if the nativity had come to life.

    Set up before the scene were rows of chairs for the guests; the royals having arrived first before the rest would be allowed in. Christian crossed to his wife and embraced her, grinning, "Darling, you have outdone yourself, again! It is wonderous. Truly! A donkey too, my word...I always loved donkeys. A very noble animal."

    He abandoned his wife, and rather like a child, hurried to the donkey and stroked it's ears, grinning happily.

    While the King amused himself, Arthur would find his wife seated, little Alec in her arms, contentedly sleeping. Victoria was sleeping in the manger, looking the picture of innocence. Alex smiled at her husband and said, as if making conversation but really assuring him that she had their son, "Doesn't she look sweet there? Quite the little angel."



    *A fave of the Victorians, involving dressing up as characters from a tale or the Bible or similar, and standing before an audience. Sometimes the tale would be read out to the crowd as well, or music played. No words were spoken. When photography became a thing, the scene would be recorded and saved in special albums.
    "Ye mustn't be afraid to ask for help. Pride is a good thing, my girl, but it will kill you in time." - Granny Weatherwax

  5. #995
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    Arthur breathed a sigh of relief to realize that their son was currently in the custody of his mother. While he hated the idea of the fact that the world, or at least their world, valued his son more than his daughter, it was nevertheless true. Especially in their current situation. Arthur smiled softly and took a seat beside his wife, for a moment his head coming to rest on her shoulder. "Indeed, she is resplendent." Arthur had barely taken a look around, he had been so laser focused on his children from the moment he entered the room.

    But now he could breathe, at least slightly so, and in that exhaled deeply and sat up straight this time to place a kiss atop Alexandra's head. "Just like her mother." He finished his thought, essentially following up on the earlier comment. Alexandra looked a vision, and to his mind there was no other woman who could compare to her, she was the only one he would ever have eyes for, from their first day, to his very last day. Slowly but surely his eyes began to scour the room, taking in exactly what was unfolding around him.

    "My word." Arthur for a moment found himself entirely speechless. "Is... is that....a?" Arthur paused for a moment as he caught sight of his father "A donkey?" Arthur chuckled, of course his father of all men would find kinship with the only other ass in the room. "Like a moth to a flame I suppose." He shook his head wrapped an arm now around Alex. "Bella has truly outdone herself. This... is impressive. The papers will be writing about it for ages." Especially about their darling child at the center of the nativity, but that was a rather personal point of satisfaction.

    "If your Christmases were as this growing up, no wonder you both have such a reverence for the holiday." Arthur felt at home at Windsor for the first time in ages, he felt comfortable, the warmth of his family, even the warmth of his father to a limited extent. This is what his life was meant to be, and who he was meant to spend it with.

    Arabella leant into the embrace of her husband, and following that she clapped her hands together and gave a tremendous smile as he drifted off toward the donkey. At least he was distracted and she could take a moment for herself. Just a single moment to embrace her accomplishment and feel genuinely proud of herself and the work she had done. The validation from her husband, her sister, of course that was pleasant... but for a little bit she felt she needn't nothing more than her own praises.

    "Let the wolves in." Arabella said quietly to one of the servants who would open the set of doors on the opposite side where the remaining members of court were waiting. And as they filed in, Arabella did what she did best. She entertained, she hosted. She indulged in conversations, accepted the compliments and offered some of her own in turn.
    Thanks to Hayabusa/Ryoku for the set.

  6. #996
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    Alexandra smiled at her husband and leant against him, turning her head to kiss his cheek before she looked back down at the sleeping child in her arms. She looked up again when he spoke and chuckled, "Indeed. A placid creature, thank god. I heard one of the servants grumbling...the goats, apparently, were less happy to be taken in here. A pair of curtains paid the price...half eaten as they passed."

    She smiled, glancing at her sister as she did, "Oh yes, Bella does nothing by half from decorations to politics. Of course," she laughed, "Our family Christmases were not as grand as this nor would my mother have ever allowed any livestock in her drawing room! But it was just as pleasant. It was...the one day when things were relaxed, I suppose, in a way. Our parents wanted to make the best of it all; the outside didn't matter on that day. Papa's plans didn't matter. It was just a family enjoying themselves."

    The Princess rested her head on his shoulder once more, not caring a lot for how she was meant to behave -stiff and formal in public, even to one's husband at court- as the doors were opened and the courtiers flooded in one by one, each staring around in awed and delighted shock. They took their seats, in order of precedence -the highest ranking at the front and so on- and awaited further orders from either the King, who had moved on from the donkey to his granddaughter.

    He had taken her from the manger and was carrying her around, telling the sleepy baby all about the characters and animals in the tableau. He seemed a different person when holding Victoria, and both parents noticed several council members watching, half-confused, half-fearful.

    The King turned, babe in arms, to the the gathered court and grinned, "Is the Princess not the most precious thing you have ever seen?" Of course, everyone murmured the expected words. Not that, for once, the King would have noticed either way. He had eyes only for the baby.

    Alex glanced at her sister and swallowed. She knew this must be paining her even if she hid it. She prayed silently the King would put the infant down and make much of Bella and her display. It was the least his long-suffering wife deserved!

    Whether her prayers were answered, or the King was keen to show off, he, thankfully, smiled at the baby, kissed her forehead, and replaced her in the manger before returning to his wife and taking her hand to kiss it. "My dear. You have, again, outdone yourself. I beg you," he chuckled, "Stop. Or else you shall exhaust yourself in constant competition with your own achievements."

    Acting or genuinely solicitous for her care, he escorted her to her chair, to the right of Arthur, and sat down beside her, the Queen to his left, and the Duke of Norfolk to his right. Christian rested his hand on hers and smiled, "We are in your hands, my angel, to begin the display. But please, remain seated, you have been on your feet far too long today. I am sure the Prince and Princess shall agree with me," he added, carrying on the show of family unity.

    Alexandra merely smiled and nodded, allowing Arthur to answer with words if he wished. She would give no one cause to think she was trying to be above her husband.
    "Ye mustn't be afraid to ask for help. Pride is a good thing, my girl, but it will kill you in time." - Granny Weatherwax

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