Was that it? All there was? A brief apology he didn't mean and then nothing? The Queen now sat alone in the throne room, bereft of clothing, wondering only if she was good enough. She had to be good enough, or perhaps this too was part of her punishment. She endured his cruelty, but left him displeased. Perhaps she did deserve the gallows after all. Arabella wanted to cry, she wanted to explode right there into a million little pieces. That would be relief, perhaps that was what she truly longed for... the sweet release of death. Let God take her and bring her back to her true husband. Now she understood why her predecessor, though uncrowned had taken so swiftly to the bottle.
It was some time before Lucy had arrived. The maid felt herself intimidated standing before the doors to the throne room, guards on either side. They seemed to stare at her as though saying "are going to go in or not?" Then of course, there was the question of what she find on the other side of the doors. Was the Queen alright? Was it so simple as she needed help to dress? That would mean... perhaps it best if the maid did not think too deeply on the subject. Taking a deep breath in, she was ready, she approached the doors which the guards, owing to how heavy they were, opened for her. Just enough to allow Lucy entry, not enough to see too clearly within.
Arabella did not even flinch when the door opened, in fact, she did not move or make any sound. Lucy crept inside as the doors sealed behind her. "Your Majesty?" She called quietly and slowly approaching the Queen Consort who lay on the floor in a pile of delicate fur. Lucy noted that upon her calling, the Queen ever so slowly turned her head, but her expression remain blank, as though she was simply a vessel without a soul. It was only when she got closer that she realized the extent of what had been done. Lucy approached and knelt down before the Queen and her precious fur, and gasped too audibly seeing her. The bruises were beginning to bloom, the deep purples had only just begun to form, but it covered her, neck, wrists, abdomen, everywhere.
"My God..." Lucy whispered appalled at what she saw. "It's nothing." Arabella responded, and eventually forced herself to smile. "Nothing at all." There was a hollowness to her speech. "But your..." Arabella cut the maid off before she could finish her sentence. "I know you are concerned. But you needn't be. I assure you." There was the forced smile again as the Queen slowly to rose to her feet, wincing in pain, though she sucked it in only to breathe out evenly, smoothly.
"The dress will not cover..." Lucy motioned to her own body, above the shoulders. Lucy had slowly begun to gather the dress, noting the finery that remained. It was only then that with the utmost care Lucy began to dress the Queen, trying desperately not to inflict more pain as the rather restrictive garment was added. It was impressive how little Arabella flinched, she seemed made of stone. "We can cover it up." Arabella referred to make-up, something that traditionally in their society was a non-negotiable, but today it was necessary. The King had spared her face any pain, so at least that would remain as intended. "Of course." Lucy remarked and quickly left, returning with needed product and thus ensured Arabella looked serene, one would never be able to tell what had happened.
"Now..." Arabella began. "I shall join my ladies until the time comes for the festivities." She smiled and made her way toward the doors of the room, with a light tap, the guards opened the doors and allow the Queen to emerge.
"I can't help it if my ears stuck out, so unsightly!" Arthur laughed and instinctively raised his hands to hide his ears. "You can't make fun, if you can't see!" The levity was not unusual in their household, in fact, most of the time the two were laughing. "Kent would be a fool if he were not to take notice." Arthur looked not at Alice, but at Alexandra. Arthur watched everything she did, every tiny upturn of the corners of her mouth. Every movement of her hand, though he spoke highly of Alice, in a sense he spoke about his own wife. How could anyone have overlooked her for so many years?
All was interrupted though with a knock on the door. "Come." Arthur called and Lucy quickly invited herself inside. "Your Highnesses." Lucy curtsied, though looked rather frazzled. Alice moved to step in resting a hand on Lucy's shoulder. "What's wrong?" Lucy looked around and noted the Prince, though she supposed she had already known he was. "Might I see the Princess of Wales... privately?" Lucy tried to make sure she remembered titles, but in truth she was somewhat out of control. "It's about the Queen."