Desires

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What was she doing? Amelia had not slept all night, instead choosing to battle the nausea and anxiety performing a waltz in her insides. Any moment now Violet and her mother would burst into the room beginning to fuss and fawn over her. Then like clockwork the maids would arrive and bathe, dress, and decorate her until Amelia’s appearance was deemed acceptable.

She was overcome with hopelessness. She had entertained the idea of running away many times during the night but her rationality had prevailed. She was a Lady with no knowledge of the world outside of her estates. If she survived her night running through the wilderness, the King’s guard would most certainly find her immediately. Though they would marry her to a pig if it meant social elevation, Amelia could still not see her family humiliated in such a way.

“Oh sister!” Violet cried throwing open the doors and filling the room with her presence. “Today is the day you become next in line!” Violet had been falling over herself to suddenly become the sister she should have been all their lives. Amelia however found it very difficult to forget that Violet was the one who had succumbed to Henry’s villainous advances. She wished the overly excitable blonde in front of her would simply disappear and leave her to her rest.

“Amelia! Why are you still in bed?” her mother barked making her inevitable appearance. “Look at the state of you! Did I not tell you to rest sufficiently? We must ask the maids to mix up some whitening to make you look lively. I did not think we would have this much work to do!” Amelia ignored her mother’s criticisms and rose from her bed, brushing a hand unconsciously through her mess of dark hair.

“Oh and your hair!” the Duchess scolded “Violet call for another maid we shall need all the help we can get today!”

***

“Oh it is a terrible thing indeed!” Louise sobbed in the kitchens while being comforted by a sorrowful looking Cook. “When I found him…he was just…hanging there!” she burst into another flood of tears.

The rest of the servants looked on with sympathy. Louise had been very fond of Elbert and there were even rumours of their future betrothal. To find him having hanged himself in his chamber must have destroyed her.

All the staff shared a common look, the Prince’s wedding was today and the court must not be distracted by the suicide of some stable hand.

It was decided that Mrs Evans would make arrangements for the boy, and that was all that was to be said on the matter.

***

Amelia found herself wishing that the torturous preparations for her walk down the aisle had taken longer. Whitening had been applied to her face, rouge to her cheeks, and lemon to her lips causing them to swell and redden. The bottom half of her hair had been loosely curled while the top had been braided and pulled back. Looking in the mirror she did not recognise the woman looking back at her. Her pale blue dress to symbolise purity had been laced so tight it looked as though she had been poured into it. She might have endured all this effort with a smile had it been for a man truly deserving of it. Amelia shook her head dispelling any of the thoughts that pertained to the man that would be waiting at the end of the aisle.

“Millie you look beautiful!” Violet beamed clapping her hands with excitement. “When the Prince sees you he will simply die!” Only in a perfect world Amelia thought bitterly.

The creaking of the door signified her father’s entrance. He held no emotion in his eyes but merely surveyed her approvingly before giving a nod to her mother. The Duke had merely come to inspect the goods he was trading with; this was business nothing more.

When her father offered her his arm Amelia suddenly felt devoid of all emotion. By taking his arm she would set the wheels of the day in motion, a day that would end with her being Henry’s wife.

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