Ailana smiled, it had been a strange sort of day. She had spent much of the evening in the company of the youngest Vaux and after a while had even been joined by Brenna. One of Orricks middle girls.
She’d never really been sure if she’d be a good mother, she’d never really been around many children to find out. It was a natural instinct in women she supposed and she suppose by the time she had a baby of her own she’d would have had plenty of practice with Matilda.
Matilda was a funny little thing, with tufts of hair sticking one way and the other not long enough to pleat or tie with bows. Barely two hours after they’d met and Matila lumped herself on Ailana’s lap, without thought or doubt.
Babies did not care for reputation, for rumour or tales … Matilda did not care that half the kingdom thought Ailana a dirty little harlot, she cared only that her lap was comfy and that she knew how to read from her favourite book.
Brenna however was different, she eyed Ailana with suspicion but also with interest. She was full of questions and each of those questions had been tinged with sadness and confusion. The little girl had not been cruel but it was clear her fathers remarriage really hadn’t been explained. “So you don’t love him then?” Brenna asked.
“No… I guess not” Ailana agreed, “I don’t really know him, but I hope we shall get to know each other”
“Then why did he marry you?”
“Well I suppose he had his reason’s” Ailana replied, “I suppose he needed a wife to help look after you girls”
“Why did you marry him?”
“Well .. I suppose women need a good man to take care of them” Ailana reasoned, “And your father seems a good man and I thought he would take care of me”
“Will you have a baby?”
“Yes I suppose we will” she nodded. “That tends to be the nature of being married”
“Will he love it more than us?”
“Don’t be silly” Ailana reasoned, “I don’t think your father could love anyone at all more than you”
“Will he love you, more than he loved my mother?” the little girl dared tearfully.
“Oh I doubt that very much, everyone knew how much your father loved, lady Vaux I don’t think I could possibly hope to earn even half the love he had for her”
“Emily says that if he loved her at all, he wouldn’t have replaced her”
“I can’t replace her” Ailana replied, “And I shan’t try… I promise”
“Emily says she’ll never call you mother”
“I should hope not” Ailana smiled sadly, “I should feel terribly old to have Emily as a daughter, I suppose I will try only to be a friend to you older girls”
“What about Matilda?”
Ailana paused, Orrick had been clear that evening in the nursery he was hoping she would indeed become a mother to the youngest. “I suppose I shall be whatever Matilda lets me be”
“Emily says you’ll try and steal Matilda from us, that you will wipe all memory of her mother from her”
“Well I don’t suppose Matilda will remember your mother anyway. That is why it will be terribly important for you and Emily to tell Matilda all about her”
“I think my father misses my mother a lot” Brenna decided, “When she died, he cried a lot… I still hear him crying sometimes at night when he thinks we can’t hear him”
Ailana nodded, for the first time really considering the shoe’s she was attempting to fill. Everyone knew how much Orrick had loved Nicole, everyone who was anyone knew and here she was an imposter for the second time trying to fill the shoes of a Carpenter woman.
“He still has all her clothes” Brenna continued, “I heard Raeanne trying to convince him to get rid of them the other night. She wanted him to pack all her things away. He wouldn’t and got very angry at her and used a bad word”
“I’m sure he did” Ailana nodded “And what about you. Do you miss her?”
“I miss her a lot” Brenna nodded, “I miss when she used to braid my hair”
“Can’t the nanny do that?”
“No she doesn’t do it right and she hurts, my mam was always gentle and sometimes if I was extra good, she’d let me wear her crystal necklace with the heart on it. The one my father bought for her when I was born” Brenna replied sadly “I don’t know where it’s gone, I was looking for it in her jewellery box, the other day but it wasn’t there. Do you suppose my father got rid of it?”
“If your father won’t get rid of your mothers clothes I doubt he’s got rid of her jewellery” Ailana decided.
“Will you ask him about it?” Brenna dared. “I’m too scared, he always look sad when I mention her and I don’t want to make him cry”
“I’ll try” Ailana agreed.