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

  1. #521
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    Arabella listened intently as Alexandra spoke, absorbing each and every word of it. There was something amazing about how quickly the Princess could recall each and every detail of the history of the Hospital and how it was run. There was so much that her sister knew that she did not. It was something of a breath of fresh air. Perhaps for too long Arabella had let her faith blind her, and act as an excuse not to pursue knowledge that could have better prepared her, alas, here she was, at least with the assistance of another.

    "When this is all over, and you become Queen..." To say that Arabella had not imagined this would be a lie. Granted, Arabella never truly wanted the Crown, but now she wore it, and for the first time had an opportunity to do good. "You will be everything I am not. A true paragon." The smile that had rested upon her face slowly faded. "I pray the people will simply remember that I loved them." Just then it felt all the world had faded into nothingness and left the two sisters together, not even the absent minded stare of Jesus to intervene. It was just Arabella and Alexandra, like it was always meant to be.

    "Of course, I shall get no such favor until I fulfil my end of the bargain." Arabella piped up, being brought back to her rather grim reality, the marriage that trapped her, the beast that stalked her, pouncing at every moment deemed convenient for him. "I imagine there are but two things His Majesty prays for on his pilgrimage. That I fall pregnant with a male heir. And that you meet an untimely and gruesome end." Arabella sighed and looked down, her eyes running along the floor, rather filthy as it was. "My beloved husband has made it abundantly clear, I am to give him a son or die in the act."

    The thought, rather dark sat heavy on her mind for a moment. "Unless of course, I can convince him there is no greater show of devotion than to care for these children. Surely God could not see me acting so motherly, so longingly and still deny me the child I am due. I only pray the deed is already done, and I am merely waiting the signs." Another smile as Arabella now rested her hands upon her flat stomach, only a hope and prayer between herself and salvation. "So, that's the plan then. I convince the King to cede control to me, everything. I'll dispose of the current proprietors and let them pray to God for the His mercy."

    The Queen once more cast her eyes over toward the cross and Christ upon it. "I'll put an end to this suffering. But in the mean time, we should take our leave. We've had enough of this tragedy for one day. I do not think our hearts could take much more of this. Shall we ladies?" Arabella stood, now looking to Alice who nodded quietly in agreement. "We shall use the laws against them, and then we will see who is laughing last."
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

  2. #522
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    Alex crossed to her sister and drew her close, leaning in until her forehead touched Bella's, her hands on her arms. "Do not doubt yourself, sister. Ever. The people, the real and true people of this land, not the nobles and courtiers, see us for what we really are, and they love you, for yourself and your goodness. You have won their love easily, and I doubt you shall lose it, no matter what happens. Hold onto that. Preserve, as long as you can, the flowers of the crown."

    She stepped back and squeezed her sister's gloved hand. "Despite what everyone believes, I pray, daily, for that as well, sister. You, more than anyone, deserve the gift of motherhood..." Of course, Bella was already a mother, but only in name and only in the past, as far as her husband was concerned. One day, maybe, she could hold her first-born and be mother but for now, it was too dangerous.

    "But yes, that may be your best course. Appeal to his piety. I cannot, whatever my feelings, disagree that the King certainly has that in abundance. If shall believe you, if you voice that while here, you felt called, by God, to do good works here, in order to be blessed."

    The Princess looked too, at the giant cross with it's sad-eyed Jesus upon it. "I wonder what you, who told us to love all and be kind, would make of this new world?" She thought sadly before turning away to follow her sister out of the grim chapel.

    They found the warden and his little group waiting in the corridor beyond, all looking very pleased with themselves. He came up and beamed. "Ah, Your Majesty, I trust you found peace in your prayers? I thought we might tour some of the girl's classrooms, so you can see our education program at work. I do believe we have trained many young girls who have gone on to serve in perhaps even your own home! We produce only the best of servants, as well as many Sisters of Mercy, and of course, wives and mothers."

    He glanced at his own wife then back, smiling still. "I also thought that Her Highness, especially," he gestured to Alexandra, "Would be most pleased to visit our nursery where our youngest residents stay before they are sent to foster homes in the country, until the age of five."

    Alexandra, as adept as her sister at this 'game', smiled, as if she could think of nothing she would rather do. "Oh, that sounds wonderful. Nothing is more precious than children, I am sure the Queen would agree. They are, after all, our future and must be nurtured with kindness and care."

    "I could not agree more, Your Highness," the warden replied, nodding, entirely missing the irony it seemed.
    "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. #523
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    The Warden was too na´ve, or perhaps stupid would have been a more appropriate characterization to recognize when he was being poked fun at. Really Alexandra's comments had been emblematic of their entire visit. The whole place smelled and looked of a hospital, there was no love and no kindness to be found within these walls. In fact, it was arguably the show of kindness that was demonstrated between the two sisters that been as close to warmth as this place had gotten in some time.

    The vile man had made a passing comment about training the girls and how some of them had already likely ended up in her own home. Was this true? Did she now employ women who survived such a tragic upbringing? Had she done so in the past? Which ones? How had that unknowingly coloured her view of them? Did it explain certain ticks or odd behaviors? For a moment, flashing before her eyes was the maid who threw herself from the gallery, high above the stairs. The woman she had forced into suicide. Was that poor soul whose life she had taken been a product of this horrid world?

    "Of course my dear sister is most correct." Arabella concluded as the group began on a rather protracted voyage toward the classrooms, one of which was in session. The instructor, a rather young woman, all of 20-nothing stood by a blackboard that was well worn, the streaks of chalk dust and long erased text becoming something of a familiar background. The woman's eyes opened wide, either she had not believed it when she was forewarned of this visit, or was genuinely surprised. "M...Ma...Majesty." The woman now quick to fall into something of a messy curtsy.

    "Girls!" She called, as the children rose. They sat behind little desks in pairs of two, with similar worn benches behind them, encouraging no doubt one to sit as straight up as they could, lest their knuckles find themselves beneath a yardstick. The children seemed rather unaware, which the Queen supposed was just as well. "We have very special visitors this afternoon. Her Majesty the Queen, and Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales." The instructor caught a glimpse of Alice, but not recognizing her, nor know exactly what to do in this situation simply ignored her, not out of cruelty no, but out of ignorance.

    The girls all in matching near on threadbare uniforms recited a plaintive Good Afternoon in unison. "Now, now my lovelies, no need to stop on our account. Please be seated. Ms...?" Arabella looked questioningly at the woman, waiting for her name to be spoken aloud. "Stephens, ma'am."

    "Ah, yes Ms. Stephens, would you care to tell us a little bit about what we're learning today?" Perhaps she was truly caught off guard by the Queen's interest, perhaps it was something else. Arabella now found herself an admitted rather obtrusive presence walking about the room, a gloved finger tip sliding along a random desk or two, noting the traces of dust returned. A hand gingerly placed on the shoulder of a girl perhaps just reaching the age of five, noting further a hole or two in the fabric. The girls did not wince, but rather melted into the interaction, clearly starved of all affection. "Arithmetic, ma'am." Arabella smiled at the response.

    "You know girls, I was rather rubbish at that myself. Though I'll have you all know that Princess Alexandra over there was quite good at her maths." There was a slight chorus of giggling from the assembled students. "Little one in the front, with the purple ribbons in your hair. What is your name?" The Queen asked, her tone overall was remarkably sweet, it was clear for all to see once again, the woman truly appreciated children.

    "Mary, your Majesty." The girl responded and did her best to curtsy as the Queen returned to position in front of the classroom. "Mary is it?" Arabella smiled brightly and nodded. "Who can tell me of another Mary?" The girls seemed to look at one another, some with furrowed brows desperately wanting to please their guest and come up with an answer. "Now there, that's quite alright. Shall I tell you?" The girls enthusiastically responded as Arabella raised her hands into the air, inviting them to learn more. "Our fair land was once ruled over by a woman if you can believe it. A fine woman, once a curious little girl such as yourselves." There was something of a gasp

    "Her name was Queen Mary, eldest daughter of Henry VIII, an ardent Catholic." This was something different, something that while generally taught would have been quickly glossed over, despite her Catholic zealotry, she was after all, a woman. "So devout was she, that she burned hundreds of non-believers, all to ensure our glorious religion would persevere. Unfortunately, it would be some time before her beliefs were once again widely accepted by our people. So hated was she, she gained the name Bloody Mary."

    Arabella let out a slight chuckle, a gloved hand raising only to cover her mouth just a bit. "Now of course, such punishments are common place. But you must always remember, that even little girls grow up to be mighty women, who can command the people and instill the fear of God in those who doubt. Never forget your power my little ones. May you all be as fierce as Queen Mary."

    Despite the rebirth of the Catholic religion under the reigns of the Stuart monarchs, never restored was Mary's image, though she was but a lamb compared to her successors. "Thank you Ms. Stephens for indulging us in this little interruption. We shall leave you to your work, and the children to their learning." Arabella nodded her head and turned to leave the classroom, the next phase of their tour to take them through the nursery, something she dreaded most heartily. The Warden seemed entirely uncomfortable, and this of course was a great comfort to Arabella, knowing at least she was doing her job.

    Alice couldn't help but wonder how damaged the Queen truly was after the loss of her husband, and for all intents and purposes the loss of her own child as well. A daughter or not, Arabella was still a mother, and seeing all of these poor girls could not have been easy on a woman with surely such a heavy heart.
    Second star to the right and straight on till morning.

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