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

  1. #381
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    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."
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

  2. #382
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    Alexandra frowned and stood as Lucy spoke. "Of course...I...we shall go into the playroom," she beckoned Lucy over and let herself into the little playroom beyond the nursery, leaving her husband and Alice to speculate. No one thought of the rules nor what was expected; Alice being alone with a man not her husband. It was a measure of how close and how 'lax' -to society's mind- the Wale's household was.

    The Princess closed the door and turned to face the young maid. "What is it, child? Is my sister alright? Does she summon me?"

    -

    Christian had departed the room beyond the throne room and made his way to his own apartments, a smirk on his lips all the while. Whatever Arabella had worried about, he was very pleased with her. Too pleased, really. Things might have gone better had the Duchess displeased him, like his first wife...and then his conjugal visits may have been only for the sake of an heir and duty, not pleasure. With maids and harlots suffering at his hands more often than she.

    But no.

    She had pleased him and now would suffer for it.

    He had such plans for her, and himself. The fun they would have.

    "Smith," he said, nodding to one of his men who stood ready for anything he might need. "Send word to Mrs Quigley, would you? I'd like to pose a business opportunity for her now I am married..."

    "Of course, Your Majesty. At once," the man bowed and departed.

    As every well-to-do man knew, Mrs Quigley ran the most expensive and lavish brothel in the city, with only the most beautiful and skillful girls employed by her...However, she also had a line in more niche affairs, and had contacts to supply less 'worthy' girls, ones who would not be missed should clients get a little...carried away, as it were.
    "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. #383
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    Lucy followed the Princess quickly, and when they were alone, she sighed. "No, your Highness. In fact, her Majesty does not know I am here." Lucy wrung her gloved hands rather nervously. "First, I must apologize for overstepping bounds... but it seemed most appropriate." There were punishments for everything, and while Lucy had been spared Arabella's rage, the maid knew things were subject to change now that she was part of the King's household.

    "I was summoned to the throne room." Lucy appeared uncomfortable, saying the words were the hardest part, not only did that make them true, but she would have to say something she normally never would. "The Queen was naked, and alone..." Lucy swallowed hard and bit down on her lower lip. "Having consummated her marriage with the King." She was definitely the Queen now. "I get nervous... I'm sorry." Lucy tended ramble or take her time getting to the point when she was nervous. "She was covered in bruises, neck to toe... for such bruises to appear so quickly... it's significant."

    Lucy did her best. "She insisted she was fine and would speak no more of it. I did not press her on the subject. I re-dressed her and helped her cover up anything still visible. Forgive me." Lucy once again apologized, knowing truly she was stepping out of place, no one had the right to simply run off and tell of the Queen's business, even when it was to her own sister.

    --

    "That seems rather serious, doesn't it?" Arthur commented to Alice. "It's tempting to put your ear to the door." Arthur did not laugh, as he understood that if Lucy was in such a state, it was not good news. Whatever it was, it was also something she did not feel comfortable sharing in front of him.

    Perhaps this was due to the nature of how Arabella, under Christian ran her staff. Alice would simply come outright and say it. But for most this would never be the way. "Well, we best let them to it then." He sighed and shook his head.
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

  4. #384
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    Alexandra said nothing as Lucy spoke, as more and more of what had happened became clear. While she herself had never experienced such, she knew enough to guess that what had happened was a corrupting of what should take place between man and wife. She closed her eyes and fought, and fought hard, the urge to leave the room, go to the King, wherever he may be and plunge a hairpin into his throat and watch him die for what he had done.

    She remained silent even after Lucy had finished, not even making a move to comfort the clearly distressed maid for a good minute or two. Finally, she opened her eyes and slowly shook her head, her eyes on the wall opposite. The juxtaposition of such things being spoken of, in a pastel coloured room, with children's toys dotted about, was not lost on her. It was almost comically cruel and ironic.

    Alex came forward and gently embraced Lucy, "It's alright, child. Calm yourself, you did right by the Queen. I promise, she need never know nor will you be punished if she finds out, I assure you. If she does not find out, this never happened, alright? You were never here and certainly nothing was said." She paused, steadying herself again. "Thank you for telling me," she added and pulled back. "Now, take a few minutes and compose yourself, then go back to her. I doubt she will, as duty is important to her, and there is now the added fear factor of the King, but if you can, try and persuade her to feign illness during the feast and retire. It will give her some alone time...God help her, she will get precious little of it now."

    The Princess stepped back and covered her mouth with her hand briefly. Her hand was shaking visibly but, like a true-born Lady, nothing of this could be seen on her face. She nodded to Lucy and turning, opened the door and came back to Arthur and Alice. Only then did she allow her face to show her distress.

    She collided with Arthur and buried her head against his uniformed chest. "Arthur," she whispered, "He...My sister is now Queen in every manner...and...and bears the bruises to prove it. He's a monster!" She cursed, her eyes closed, her hands bunched into the fabric of his tunic.
    "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. #385
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    Arthur, somewhat surprised at the quick turn over, wrapped his arms around Alexandra to embrace her. He noted the great care she took to wait until Lucy, who had been so distressed, left the nursery. The Prince ran his hand along Alexandra's back warmly, he felt for her. In reality, he knew not what to say to assuage her fear, her grief, or even anger. There was little remedy to the cruelty and perversion of his father.

    "Knowing your sister, she'll never let on. No matter how much pain she's in." Arthur sighed. It was one of those moments where he harkened back to memories of his mother, the long sleeves were standard tradition, but he thought of the high collared blouses. She was covering bruises from the rare occasions his father returned to their marriage bed. He found his comfort in other women. Arthur could hardly imagine such a thing, there was no other he could love or find happiness with.

    "Arabella can endure. Unfortunately, he loves her, and so long as she keeps doing as she had done, he will continue to love her. The best thing she can do is get pregnant, he'll ease off of her once she is. He wouldn't risk anything to harm the child..." Arthur sighed again and thought of his own children, he would have to work toward a world where men like his father were not allowed to harm as they did. What if his daughter were married off to such a vile sort of man? He shuddered at the thought.

    Alice simply remained silent. It was an uncomfortable thought, though certainly not as uncomfortable as it had been for Arabella to endure. Arabella too, had been a monster not so long ago. The particular memory of Arabella, then as Duchess, treating a maid so poorly she flung herself to death. Now the tables had turned, but Alice thought... if anyone could suffer in silence it was Arabella. Nothing ever phased her.

    Lucy, meanwhile, had composed herself and returned to the service of the Queen. She sat in one of the large drawing rooms, taking company with her ladies. Odd, her ladies. She sat perfectly still, with impeccable posture as one would expect. Her hair had been adjusted and re-styled after remaining flowing for the coronation. No one would know of her pain, they would only see her glory, her beauty, her grace. They would see royalty when they looked at her. The future mother of a King. The physical and emotional pain, no where to be found but within her. The women were seated in order for their seniority, their political and social rank. This was how women behaved.
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

  6. #386
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    "It would have been better for her if she had failed to please him," Alexandra whispered. "Then...it might have been duty only...Oh God, if he were here now, I really fear what I might do; consequences be damned, Arthur. He's a monster and she's trapped...we're trapped, our baby trapped..."

    Alexandra stepped from his safe embrace to pace the nursery floor. She couldn't stand still, she was too distressed. Which was not good for her nor her unborn child but she could not help it. She didn't know where she had gained it but she had always had a strong sense of what was right and wrong -and said view often differed from the convention of her society- and she knew this was very, very wrong.

    All of it.

    Finally she stopped, a hand coming to rest on the little cradle. She smiled, half to herself, then looked at her husband, "I have to go to her. Outwardly, she will not want me there, nor have I any wish to sit in a room of harpies and be scorned at but I have to go and at least be there for her in some way. So she knows she is not alone in this. Her little gaggle will neither notice nor care about her distress but she is my sister...I cannot let her sit there and play the game alone. With any luck the King will be busy elsewhere...in his billiards room maybe, with his fellow men, with their brandy and cigars."

    She bit her lip and returned to her husband, her hand finding his and squeezing it. "Please, do not forbid me," she whispered softly, knowing her loved her too much to wish to have her harmed in word or deed. "I have to go to her. Alice will come with me. I'll be fine, I promise, and it's not long until the ball and the wedding feast. Then I will not leave your side," she laughed softly and glanced at Alice, "Well, until I seek out the Duke and see what dear Alice makes of him."
    "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

  7. #387
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    "You must take care not to endure any undue stress, my love." Arthur reminded his wife, as all present were well aware of her condition. Arabella too was aware and would likely not want Alexandra to suffer for her. At least, this was the Prince's thinking. "It's only a matter of time before Arabella has to tell him of your pregnancy. We want to be sure there is still a pregnancy to inform him of." It was still early days, Alexandra had begun to show, but the clothes of their period were well equipped to hide such things when needed.

    "If you are going to your sister, I will go to my father, keep him away from a bit. But you must watch out for the other women, they are out for your blood."

    Arthur, for his part, would never forbid his wife from anything, if this is what she wanted to do, she was going to do it with his blessing or not. So better to be on her side and support her, no matter what the outcome. Alexandra was the best judge of what she was or was not capable of, not he. "Go with God, my darling." Arthur squeezed her hands and leaned in to kiss her softly upon the lips.

    --

    "What of the Princess of Wales?" A rather meek but condescending voice called across to the Queen. Arabella turned her head swiftly, a rather nonplussed look about her. "What about the Princess of Wales?" Arabella responded, quick to add the following "Your Majesty." As a point of correction, these women would dare not consciously disrespect her, but they had to be taught. If Arabella was to retain her power, she would have to exercise it.

    "Apologies, your Majesty." The woman corrected quickly. "Rather meddlesome isn't she? With her outrageous beliefs." Arabella sighed, they were not outrageous, they were simply correct. Or at least, more correct than what the current set had been believing. Though to all it would appear that it was a sigh of malcontent, a sigh that said she was tired of her sister's way of life.

    "Such a bother to spend good time worrying about such nuisance?" Arabella would attempt to address the issue as she was meant to, while sparing her sister too much undue ridicule. "God provides a path, this is hers. Our path is to correct it. My husband and I will do our level best, but God will punish her far harsher than we ever could." Referring to the King as her husband in polite company was something odd. It didn't quite seem to roll off her tongue as easily as she wanted it to. The difference to those present would be imperceptible, but Arabella would always know. "Perhaps we've spared the rod for too long. But that is not your business. Is it?" There was a smile on her face at the last line, it was not their business. Once again Arabella had taken steps ensure a clear line was drawn, what she said was acceptable was, what she did not was simply not.

    "I think it's time we addressed something, my dear, darling ladies-in-waiting." Arabella continued to smile, her hands then folded neatly upon her lap. "Too long have you gone without a Queen, even when you had one, she was uncrowned and barely present." Another sigh, this time for dramatic effect. "Upon my ascension as Duchess, I attempted to fill that void, but as you know, there is only so much one can do without proper status." Arabella had been the leader of the pack, but now it was official. "I fear you all have become too relaxed, and remiss in your duty to worship at His altar." This is what Christian wanted her to do, he wanted her to lead, to reign everyone in under her command, so that he and his council could do as they wished.

    "A return in style to the dress of the 1850s. Modesty is important. So is time spent in the chapel. I expect more prayer, and more fasting. Total obedience to those in stations above you. For now that includes the Princess of Wales. I will not stand to see our social upending because of your weak discomforts. Weakness will be weeded out, it will be crushed." Arabella rose from her seat and let her hands fall to her sides. "Am I understood? Those among you not strong enough will be sent for reaping, just as those did today."

    It was a hard right turn, but a turn she needed to take. As she grew more comfortable, as she began to attempt to influence the King, hopefully once pregnant, she would be able to loosen standards and his grip over her and all of them. But for now, she played his game. All the while she had no idea her sister was planning to join. The ladies in waiting, indeed the ladies of court all smiled, and nodded in agreement. Had they just been dressed down by their Queen? Yes. But did they crave her attention and her approval? Yes. Did they somehow based on their own understanding and upbringing believe she was right in totality? Yes.
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

  8. #388
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    Alexandra returned his kiss and placed his hand, hers over it, on her stomach. Or, given the layers of gown and corset, where it should be. "We'll be fine, I promise," she said before turning and nodding to Alice. "Steel yourself, Alice. In all things, if spoken to, side with the Queen, even if it insults myself, alright? We must do what we can and that is the easiest way to avoid issue."

    The two girls, both having seen far too much for being so young, set off down the elegant corridors towards the day room where the Queen and her flock of hens were. The doors were guarded by two uniformed and liveried men at arms, who, knowing their place and Alex's, bowed and opened the way for her. A servant, posted just within, glanced at her then announced, "Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales."

    The ladies within, now having been told, quite firmly, of their role, all rose and curtsied -though, naturally, the Queen did not- as Alexandra entered the room. She smiled prettily and nodded to them, "Ladies," she said, her manners as impeccable as her sister's. "Please, you do me too much honour," she added as they returned to their seats and to their sewing or whatever they were amusing themselves with; the choices were rather limited...embroidery, prayer books, the bible or depending on the nature of the gathering, music or recitation.

    She crossed to her sister and dropped a low curtsy, "Your Majesty," she said, eyes lowered to the hem of Bella's dress. "I ask your forgiveness for my absence; my husband wished to show me the nursery here. I pray most fervently that it shall soon be filled once more with Princes and Princesses." She held her curtsy, waiting to be allowed to rise, or not, if the Queen wished her to remain where she was.

    It was only half a life, really. She really did want Bella to have more children, to save herself from the King's wrath, if nothing else but, as both she and Arthur knew...A new Prince of Wales might equate to their deaths.
    "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

  9. #389
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    After all had risen and curtsied to the Princess of Wales only did the Queen rise and smiled at her sister, who now remained bent before her. Arabella determined she had to allow this to continue, but not for too overlong, the tone she set was important. "No need for such formality, sister, we're all friends here." Arabella spoke clearly, her eyes cast about the room to each of the women present. All who observed her noted that when said no need for such formality that she in reality meant quite the opposite.

    "There is nothing to forgive." Arabella would be seen as magnanimous, "I thank you for the well wishes, I too pray for my own fertility." There was an honesty there, but further a kindness to follow. "You too will be granted children in time, and we shall be a family united under God's grace, with my husband's blessing." Arabella knew she was already pregnant and would have a child before she would. To those in the room this message would read as an order to fall in line, but in reality, Arabella was truly grateful for the well wishes, she would need them. But so too did she meant what she said, Arabella longed for them to be a family but knew such would never be possible with the King in his current state.

    "I must admit, I did not think we would see you. Please join us, we were all just brushing up on our manners, weren't we ladies?" Arabella took her seat on the small couch, and motioned for Alexandra to join her. "Your gift was beautiful, the detail work, exquisite. The thought of the gift, and reflection of Richard in it, of Beatrix, it was almost enough to bring her to tears, but she refrained at least in present company. Arabella hoped that the mention of the detail work would be enough to convey that she had noticed what others were not meant to.

    As always Arabella was flawless in her performance, she would fight to hide her pain even from her own sister. The Princess had enough to worry over, added concern for the Queen seemed unfair.
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

  10. #390
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    Alexandra smiled and sat down when allowed; how ridiculous court etiquette was, she thought to herself as she did so. Each one of these ladies would happily run across their best friend, mother, sister or daughter to be where Bella was now. Loyalties were too easily worn for her tastes.

    "Ah, yes, when I saw Master Holbein's work, I had to employ him for the task. As you say, he has a gift for detail. I am so pleased you like like. Of course," she added, as expected, "It is nothing compared to the gifts His Majesty has given you, with more to come I am sure." Alex paused and gave another smile, this one point pointed, "I am sure you have received much at his hands."

    Yes. Bruises and abuse, she thought, hoping Bella understood her meaning. How she wished they could just talk openly.

    She glanced at Alice, who had taken a seat along the wall with the other maids; silent and almost invisible until they were needed. One or two were closer at hand, holding items for their mistresses or serving tea and cakes. Suddenly she found herself wondering what it might be like, if she were ever Queen...She would be mistress of these noble ladies. The thought did not sit well with her. They were harpies all, capable of doing much harm and no good. Instead of using their influence, such as it was, to try and do good works and create change -albeit only in their little spheres- all they did was gossip, eat cake and scheme against one another.

    Alexandra looked back at her sister and smiled again, her hand coming to rest, gently, upon Bella's on the chaise. "I hope your majesty is not over tired after the day ahead, it would be a shame to miss the feast," she said softly.

    "Please, take ill, do something to get you away from him a time..."
    "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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