Helena peered cautiously around the door to the young womans room, a screen had been erected in front of the fire and she could see both Ailana and the Queen chattering excitedly towards it. Where the new Lady Hamdun was undoubtedly bathing.
Even Helena had been surprised at how quickly Gabriel had managed to pull together the lavish affair. It was clear the guests had been invited unknowing of what the event exactly was and everyone had seemed very surprised when his young bride had made her way down the aisle.
For Helena though it had been a heart wrenching experience, surprised to learn the young woman had been married before she’d seemed young and terrified and despite the number of guests it was clear none present where there on her behalf.
Helena had never seen a nobleman’s wedding before but she knew enough to know that now was time for you young woman’s closest female family to help her prepare for her wedding night and yet all this bride had was her husband’s two sisters and she didn’t seem close to either.
“Can we help you?” Gabriels youngest sister asked peering towards where Helena stood. She suddenly felt foolish like a fish out of water she spent the whole of the day on the outskirts of the ceremony and now she realised how much she was intruding.
“I was going to offer to help” she reasoned, “I’m … Gayles mother… she’s too sick to tend to the lady, I thought I would offer?”
“Your Gabriel’s Mistress” the Queen chirped.
Helena’s cheeks blushed red, feeling suddenly ashamed. “Yes” she agreed.
Hearing the movement of water the brides face appeared over the top of the screen. “You’re his mistress?” she asked.
“Yes, but I hope we can be friends”
The young girl nodded, “Come in” she agreed “You can help”
Heading over she took a towel from the wrack and came behind the screen where the lady had already decided it was time to end her bath and stood, wet and expectantly, a woman clearly used to having servants.
Wrapping the towel around her shoulders Helena began to help with drying, she’d served to the late lady Baeumont for a time at least this was familiar.
Once she was dried and robed she settled down on the edge of the bed and Helena sat down beside her. Towel still in her hand see gently rubbed clumps of hair to dry it.
Drying hair was something she’d done many times for her girls over the years, sometimes after a bath was the best time for mother and daughter to talk. Few men would dare to interrupt the bath time ritual but she suddenly wonder if the ladies mother had ever done this for her?
Allowing herself to drift into the background as the three woman talked, she only paid attention when the conversation turned to her.
“Just do whatever he says” Ailana offered, “Don’t make him angry… just whatever he asks. Do it”
“Nonsense!” the Queen interrupted, “He has a mistress for that. You’re his wife… he will expect you to have your own mind”
“I don’t want to upset him” The lady reasoned.
“He wants a wife” The queen reasoned, “Not a slave… you’re a strong woman, be a strong woman he will learn to respect you for it”
Helena sighed, she wasn’t sure Gabriel respected anything.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea” the young girl replied, “Better do what he says……” suddenly the young woman burst into tears.
“Oh Maegan” Ailana gasped, reaching out to take the young womans hand. The scene was touching perhaps the young woman wasn’t so alone after all. Perhaps Ailana was not family but Helena saw hope the pair could one day be friends.
“I miss Chris” she sobbed, Helena didn’t know the girl, but she suddenly found that her hands had dropped from drying hair to a protective position on the woman’s shoulders.
“There’s no point worrying about Christopher now” the Queen reasoned, “He’s safe and happy”
“I know” the young girl nodded, sniffing “The lord will protect him”
“And the young woman in the woods” the Queen agreed.
The new lady of the house seemed to ignore the Queen’s last statement as if she was somehow used to the queens strange ways and had learned to dismiss them. “I wish Chris was here”
The Queen smiled, “Luke will come in time, but not for while by the time he does, he will already have a baby and you will have provided my brother with four fine sons”
“Who is Luke?”
“I have no idea” the queen chirped, “but he isn’t a hunter”
Helena had heard about the Queens madness, yet she’d never quite believed it yet now looking at the young woman as she peered around as though this ‘Luke’ was about to pop up from behind the bed she could see the rumours where quite true and she wondered how on earth the King managed it.
“This isn’t going to be like Chris is it?” The young girl asked, tears still rolling down her face, “Chris was always gentle”
“I think the whore can answer this better than us” the Queen decided, “We’ll leave you both, come Ailana!”
Within moments Helena found herself alone with the young lady, standing she moved to where the ladys nightgown was folded gently on a chair. “We should dress you” she decided.
Nodding the young girl de-robed, allowing herself to be dressed in silence.
“I don’t have much advice” Helena offered, “He’s…… difficult”
“Will he hurt me?” she asked.
“That depends” Helena agreed, “He’s a difficult man to please. It’s important to understand he doesn’t enjoy it…. Not anymore. It’s no-longer a pleasurable thing for him”
“I thought it was pleasurable thing for all men?”
“Not him, it’s become a matter of great pain for him… it wasn’t always that way” she explained remembering what it had been like when they had been teenagers together. “The thing is… and I should probably not tell you this. He finds himself inadequate … he has been made to feel that way by every woman in his life and by his father too. There has been a great pressure on him to produce a son which thus far he has not managed. So it’s become somewhat of a chore… but more than that, each time he does it, it serves as a reminder of how inadequate he is”
“So what should I do?”
“You were chosen… for a reason” she explained her voice wavering. “When…. When his wife… died. She told him.. How your husband had pleased her, in ways he never could… even in her death she managed to humiliate him do you understand?”
“He told you he killed her?”
“No…. he said she left a note, but I don’t believe it. The thing is … taking you was his way of getting revenge”
“He plans to hurt me”
“I don’t think he plan’s it” she replied, “But he isn’t scared too and I think he will if given the chance. The thing is Milady he took you to prove to himself that he could. He wants to prove to himself and the kingdom that he is more of a man than your late husband”
“He isn’t” the young woman growled, “He isn’t half the man”
“I expect thats true” Helena agreed, “But still he has something he feel’s he needs to prove”
“Part of it… is a baby” she explained “You never had a baby with your husband, so if he can give you one then people will see that his … issues where not his, the blame for his situation will move to his late wife. Do you understand? If he can have a baby with you, people will finally belive his old wife plotted against him”
The young girl nodded, “But how? If the problem is his.. How can I give him that”
“Don’t worry yourself” she soothed, “Let his.. Wi.. Midwife deal with that”
“Then there is nothing for me to do but hope”
“There is plenty you can do… this is about more than a baby. Men are prideful things. They like to think themselves masters of the bedroom, his late wife humiliated him, disgraced him and made him question his own manhood, if you could correct that … life for you would be better”
“I don’t understand”
Helena took a deep breath unsure how much of what she had to say was suitable for a noble ladies ears.
“I mean … he isn’t very good in the bedroom” she replied bluntly, “He wasn’t able to please his wife and she told him so this humiliated him and he’s now eager to prove her wrong… more than that … he’s now in direct competition with your late husband in that regard”
“He thinks he can please me?!” the young woman borked.
“Yes… and No…. but I know life would be better for you if he at least ‘thought’ he was better than your late husband”
“How can he please me? When I don’t even want him near me?”
“Pretend” Helena reasoned, “Just pretend, frankly he is pretty frightful… but he doesn’t have to know that”
The young woman went white.
“Not straight away” she explained, “He isn’t expecting you to scream to the heaven’s tonight… I suspect he’s half expecting some resistance from you. The Queen was right about one thing, don’t let him take you like a slave, be strong and insist he treats you as a wife.
I have no doubt he will try to humiliate you this evening, force you into things a lady would be uncomfortable doing… he wants to prove himself your master. You mustant let him other wise you will become nothing more than a slave, be proud be and clear”
“I don’t understand” the young girl whimpered.
“You are there to make a baby” Helena clarified, “Make it known and clear that you accept it. Remind him your his wife, that you’ll do what needs to be done but you won’t act like a whore. Don’t let him disgrace you or you’ll be disgraced for the rest of your life. Likewise just take care not to humiliate him…. don’t insult or goad him, Don’t stare at the ceiling like he matters little…that is a sure way to a beating”
“I don’t understand, don’t resist… don’t lie there looking at the ceiling. I don’t understand what you want me to do?” the young girl whimpered.
“It’s quite simple” Helena soothed, “Go to his chambers… do what needs to be done, but do so with pride. Don’t go there scared, and whimpering like you have no choice, he will see it as weakness and a battle won”
“I don’t have a choice” she sobbed.
“I know….just be sure to let him know this was a choice you made and you accept his advances and if you could muster up the ability to make him feel like a man, it would help”
“By the end of it… make him feel as though he’d won you over a little. He’s expecting you to be resistant, before, during and after … You need to make him feel like a man. Make him feel that despite yourself he’d done a good job and you’d not hated it”
“But I will hate it” she whimpered.
“Yes you will” she agreed, “but he mustn’t know”