luni, 16 februarie 2015

Another secret

“It is better to love wisely, no doubt, but to love foolishly is better than not to be able to love at all.”

Life after the war came to an end should have been simpler. Quieter. Uncomplicated. But, like most of the circumstances in my life, it was anything but the thing I longed most.
To everyone around me, my parents, my husband, my former friends, I was a ruined woman. Even my former handmaid regarded me with disfavour and acted as if my immorality, my damnation could spread upon her. The fact that not long after I was captured and then openly absolved of any accuse(a consequence of my father's influence and my brother's newly gained title), I discovered that I was carrying a traitor's offspring could only make things worse for me. That spring, because of my delicate condition, I chose not to take part in the celebrations that were constantly organized at the newly crowned King's residence. How could I even try to justify myself? How could I let the others know that the child that I was carrying could have been a prince or a princess of the blood if it were to be born under different circumstances?
How could I even let my children have knowledge of such a secret? No, I decided, in that very moment, that this was to be my secret, my own burden, even if that implied that my child would always be looked upon as illegitimate. Anything would have been better than the life the Marquis' acknowledged children were sentenced to live, stripped of their rank and locked in a convent, their names erased from history.
My husband must have been apprised about my condition by his new high-born entourage, because only a week after I arrived at my parents' new residence in the south (a castle towering a new marquisate), he came to inquire about my health.
My condition was not noticeable, mainly because it was early spring here and the old manor was damp and still wintry from many years of not being inhabited, despite the constant effort that the servants were putting in tending the fire in almost every room, so I was wearing winter clothes. I waved off my new soubrette (my mother insisted on hiring me a new personal maid, someone suiting our family's new rank), because I suspected what was coming next and I didn't want to involve a stranger in my already precarious marriage.

"Your brother and his new wife inquire about your health and wanted me to send you their love and best wishes, along with their regret that you could not attend their nuptials."
Gregory began pacing out the unfamiliar room, while keeping his head down and avoiding looking directly at me. I suspected he was afraid of what he might see in my eyes, although I was too ashamed of my condition to look him directly into the eyes.
"Yes, please send them my regards as well as my regret that I cannot be present at the Court. I will pay them a visit as soon as ... my condition will allow me to travel such long distances."
I could see him flinch as soon as the words left my mouth and I instantly regretted my artlessness.
"Gregory, you... you have to know something..."
"Well, it feels more like everybody else already knows about your condition, so please don't bother yourself trying to explain it to me. I only need to know one thing, my lady. Who was it? Who is the father of the bastard you're carrying?"
I couldn't help but notice how he attempted to detach himself by not using my name and by trying to offend me. Even if he was in the right.  We have never been close, not even in our first years of marriage, but his sudden change of disposition left me quite unsettled. I knew that he could take my children away from me, that he had every right to do so and I simply couldn't allow something like that to happen to my family. Even so, I've never considered myself the most conciliatory wife and at that moment I was simply too terrified of what power he held over me.
"I think you, more than anyone else, should know very well how such things happen at war."
Thinking about it now, I realize that trying to defend myself by attacking him wasn't the most intelligent decision. I knew how war changed men and maybe attempting to suggest that my baby would be just another war child could have been my only option. The convents and monasteries were already loaded with dozens of unwanted children, fathered by the King's men. What difference could one more such baby make?
"Please don't try to act like you're innocent! I know very well what you must have done during those past five years! The entire Royal Court seems to have knowledge of your actions!"
"Neither one of us is as virtuous as we would like to be."
He seemed tired. Worn out by this war, by his sudden change of lifestyle and even more stricken by my words. Before I could say something more, before I could apologize for my insolent behaviour, he got up and took his coat, heading for the door.
"I already spoke to your mother. I'm taking the children with me, at the Court. The two youngest Princesses are the same age as our daughters and they can play together. As for my son, I hired him a tutor. You are not welcomed to visit them."
His son. Our daughters, but his son. That was his revenge. Separating me from my children and leaving me behind, in the countryside, far away from his new life. I knew that because of all the rumours that must have been circulating, I would never be received at the Court, regardless of how high my rank placed me in society. In their eyes, I would always be an immoral woman, foolish enough to get herself caught and punished for her misbehaviour. Not even the fact that I was suddenly related to the Royal family, though indirectly, could amend for my mistake.
Then he left and I knew I would not see him for many years to come. We were husband and wife and I was still the mother of his children, but I no longer had any right upon them.
He left the next morning, not even bothering to give me a second look. I made my farewells to my children, attempting no to cry, while they regarded me as a stranger. I couldn't help but feel at fault. When all was said and done, I realized that it was my fault. I have been an absent mother most of my children's lives, too engrossed in my work, in other people's sufferings, always pressed for time, while they had to suffer the consequences. And now it was too late.
I was abandoned in the countryside, on my parents' estate, without any hope. Four months later, after the announcement of the Marquis' execution reached us, I gave birth to his daughter. I was only 26 years old, but I felt like I lived for too long.

3 comentarii:

Ekho spunea...

Can't imagine how horrific this would be, I hope one day her children come looking for her - in spite of their father, although I imagine he will have tried to poison their minds to hate their mother. At least she has a new baby? A baby whose father she actually loved?

Auteur des Rêves spunea...

Hey there! ^^
Yes, I imagine how Alleken might feel being separated from her children (again!), but there's nothing she can do, because her husband has that right (they are legally his children). In fact, he also has the right to take Alleken's last child (it was a baby girl, bu the way; I named her Elizabeth), because she too is legally his child (Alleken being his wife, any child she gives birth to is her husband's child). But don't worry, he's not planning to do such a thing (he already has his hands full with those five children; I don't think he ever imagined what it would be like to raise five children without a mother). Being raised without a mother (especially when the mother is still alive and willing to be part of her children's lives) is very sad, but I'm sure I will come up with something in future chapters.
And yes, she loved her last baby's father (more like she was infatuated with him), but he's now dead and she's alone. Just wait for the next chapter ^.~

Rowena spunea...

Poor Alleken! I hope she and her husband find their way together again in time... or at least she gains access to her children again. I can't imagine how hard it must be for them. Even if they never had her around much because of her work, this must be completely different.

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