The door opened slowly and Helena watched nervously to see who her visitor might be, she sorely hoped it would not be Gabriel. She could not coherently express how she felt, the past few months had felt like a nightmare, even warm and well fed could not exclude the loss and nausea she felt at all that had happened.
She sighed with relief to see her visitor was not Gabriel but his young wife instead. The dark hair girl peered nervously around the door. Things had seen quite a turnaround at the castle, Lady Hamdun was no-longer held prisoner by her husband, instead it was she who was kept under constant guard as Gabriel feared she would try to escape for a second time.
“Lady Hamdun” she smiled weakly, she couldn’t hold things against the young girl, for she was just as much a victim of the whole affair. “How are you fairing? You look better than last time we spoke”
“I feel better” she agreed, taking a seat in the small bedroom that Helena had once considered herself lucky to possess. “How is the baby?”
Helena put her hand to her stomach unable to hide her scowled, she didn’t think of it that way. It was an invader in her body neither wanted nor accepted. It was still too early to truly feel pregnant, the sickness had not yet started and yet she knew it was there. “Still there mores the pity” she replied bitterly.
“It’s not the babies fault”
“Did Gabriel send you?” she asked accusingly, suddenly aware of how quickly the conversation had turned to the subject of Gabriels child.
“Yes… “ the young woman admitted, “But I would have visited anyway, I wanted to see how you were.
“How do you think I am? One daughter dead, face down in the dirt I don’t even know if any will even bury her. My eldest….” Her words sticking in her throat as she choked back the tears. She knew what the men had done to her but she couldn’t bear to say it. “Two girls lost and alone.. possibly freezing to death, how do you think I am?”
“Sophie says it won’t always be this way” the young girl responded, clearly struggling to find anything more comforting to say. “He won’t hurt you again, he won’t risk it now”
“You’re too young to realise, but physical is the least of all pain”
“You’re important now… the baby is very important to him”
“What will happen when he’s done with me? When I’ve birthed and he no-longer needs me, do you expect me to believe he’ll keep me safe then? You’re his wife, the kings own niece… you he needs. Me… I’m nothing to him”
“That’s not true” Maegan replied, “I’m not sure I understand it, but he has an attachment to you… for bad or good your part of him. He can’t let you go. Sophie says you represent the last time he was happy”
“You speak to Sophie a lot?”
“Yes” the young girl agreed, “She is here a lot… I think…. I think she is here to protect us”
“I don’t agree” Helena replied grimly still remembering clearing how easily the ‘Queen’ had turned his lordship into a rag doll and flung him against the wall. Still she couldn’t help but ask “Do you think she can stop him killing me when he’s done?”
“I’m sure she can“ the young girl replied, thoughtfully. “Besides he’ll need you to raise the child”
Helena nodded accepting but not really believing her words, there was no doubt in her mind that when she gave birth Gabriel would no longer have use for her. She was the experiment, the one he got pregnant when he had mind to be patient. However for reason’s she could not begin to fathom, he had grown restless and time was no longer a luxury he thought he had. “So how are you?” she dared, “Last time I saw you a feared you would die on me?”
“Im fine” Maegan nodded “It wasn’t as bad as it looked. The doctor said he had just been alittle rough with me and he should be more careful in future”
Helena nodded, she didn’t believe that either. Gabriel had not simply been rough with her, his witch had done something terrible. Only two questions remained, How had the girl recovered? And did this in any way affect her ability to give him a child? She didn’t know, nor should she comprehend the answer to the first, but the girl still lived so the answer to the second must be that it wouldn’t. “Did his witch return?”
“Witch?” the young girl paled.
“No” Maegan nodded, looking deeply unsettled. “Why do you call her a witch?”
“Because that is what she is” Helena replied, she’d had plenty of time to think over the past few days, the more time she spent considering it the more uncertain she became. Desperation had once drove her to consider the young witch an ally, but now she realised the witch was as much apart of the evil as Gabriel was. “Only god should have the power to grant life. What she can do could only come from witchcraft” she replied bitterly.
“What could she do?” Maegan demanded her voice wavering as her eye’s revealed she already knew the answer.
“There was a reason, Gabriel called her his midwife” Helena replied, suddenly the young girl lurched, dashing from her seat she ran into the closet room. Running to join her she found the noblewoman sobbing and vomiting over the closet stool. A wave of guilt overwhelmed her, of course she had meant to warn the girl of the dangers but she had underestimated the reaction the news would receive.
“It’s alright” she soothed, rubbing the young girls back and fishing her hair out of the stool before she made a mess. “You were so ill, it can’t have worked”
“But it did” she sobbed, “I know it did… He kept me locked up so no man could reach me, why else would he unlock my door? He wouldn’t not unless it no-longer matters”
Helena nodded it made sense she supposed, she had gained enough insight into his frame of mind to know that was indeed why he’d locked the young girl up. He’d feared that like Lady Jaedyn the new Lady Hamdun would betray him with another man.
Still what really surprised her was the fact that the young woman had realised it. The young princess had never seemed especially bright, but sitting there Helena began to wonder if she had under estimate the girl? If she realised this, what else might she know?