This fic was written for the Subrealicon Challenge. All charactersyou recognize were originally Marvel's. The ones you don't are mine,all mine! (insert evil laugh #42.2). The historical parts arecompletely true-- believe it, or not!
They woke her near sundown. She knew this because she was a light sleeper and she heard them shuffle slowly into the room. She pulled away from her bed reluctantly, tumbling out of the twisted and tangled up sheets. The handmaids righted her, slowly easing her out of the sheets, identical white faces smiling courteously.
"Is there any news about Dear One?" she asked. They made her go to bed near daybreak, pulling her reluctantly away from his bedside. Shelet them do so, only because she wanted to be rested for him when heawoke the next day.
One of the handmaids stifled a sob. The other said, with a voice as smooth as silk, "Dear child, do not worry about such matters."
"I see." She looked towards the main house. "So, he's dead."
"Oh, your Highness," the lesser maid said, wringing her hands together."I am so scared, so frightened of what they will do--"
"Silence." She would not cry. He told her not to cry for him, but to bear the burden of their child with grace and dignity. Her back prickled with the weight of unshed tears as she manuevered towards the bathing room. "I must dress."
"Yes, your Highness." The two maids dolefully prepared their mistress, bathing her with the scented oils, caressing her extended belly. She was not gross with pregancy like her aunt, but her belly prominently proclaimed her impending motherhood. The one maid kept weeping as they dressed her in white, the color of death. They arranged her hair down her back, sweeping the floor. They brushed it one thousand times, and as they brushed she thought of her dead husband--how much she loved him, how she could never repay him for the kindness he showed to her.
In the courtyard, all the servants wailed, moaned, gnashing their teeth. She snorted, passing them and going directly to the funeral bier.If there's anything she could say about the servants, they did their jobswell and promptly. If he died not long after she left him, they wouldhave had little time to prepare his body for the funeral.
She looked at her gathered sisters: First Wife standing stoically with the crown prince, Second Wife, wailing hysterically as the guards pulledher away from the body. Third Wife waited quietly, only her lips movingquietly in prayer giving away her discomfort. Neither of them paid any attentionto the other, they were all locked into their misery and grief. As was she.
Flames danced high in the growing darkness, lighting the darkest corners of the courtyard. One, two, three separate fires could be made out from behind her teary eyes. It must be the cinders, she thought as Third Wife came away, giving First Wife an inscrutable look before descending the stairs to join her children. It was her turn to approachher husband.
She took one of his hands in hers and placed it upon her belly."Dearest husband," she whispered to his corpse, "I regret that you will never see the birth of our child. I cherish all the days I had to spend with you. I ask now that you bless our child, so that he may grow strong and powerful like you. Her head dropped to her chest, the traitorous tears sliding slowly down her cheeks. She didn't even notice when the servants led her away from the bier. All she wanted to do now was to go back tobed and sleep this evening away.
She stumbled on the rocky path and looked up in surprise. They were not taking her back to her quarters. Second Wife was there, as was Third Wife, both flanked by mean, tough looking servants. She addressed her sisters. "What is going on?"
An agonizing howl floated over the courtyard, causing Second Wife to tremble violently. Instantly, the guard grabbed her upper arm painfullyand she cried out. Third Wife looked up, a resigned expression on her face.
"It is the Will that we should remain faithful to our husband," she said wryly, her eyes shifting to the right.
She glanced over in surprise to see First Wife sitting on his throne, her son at her right side. First Wife inclined her head, daring her to speak out, to challenge her rights as the Dowager Empress.
"But my child--"
"--shall see his father soon. As will you," At that, the guard next to Second Wife pulled out a ceremonial dagger and slit her cleanly across the throat. Blood gushed forth as she stiffened in shock, her hands clenching spasmodically in the air. Quickly, Third Wife closed her eyes, praying silently as she too was slit across the throat. She died less dramatically, slumping to lay at her feet, the blood staining the hem of her white funereal gown.
She understood now. She understood it all. "Make it quick," she breathed to the guard beside her, who paused slightly, before ramming thedagger into her wonb, skewering her unborn child. The pain rippled through her and she stifled the shriek, focusing instead of First Son's momentary look of sadness and First Wife's maddening expression. First Wife began to laugh joyously as her life blood poured out of her baby, poured out of her. She gasped through the pain, "I curse you." They were her last words as the guard slashed her across the throat.
Warren shook Elizabeth out of her trance. "Are you alright?" he asked her. Elizabeth stretched lightly, her eyes adjusting to the darkness around her. The stars shone overhead, the moon spilling its light into the courtyard below. He gave her an awed look. "Was it a premonition?"
Elizabeth shook her head, sneaking silently down the stairs, unerringly to the spot where the young girl had died. She stared disbelievingly at the stones. Warren glided down to meet her, standing right on the place where she lay dying, the guards hacking the child outof her womb to be placed in a different part of the burial chamber. "She was only fourteen," she whispered.
"Nothing." Elizabeth closed her eyes, and offered up a silent prayer to the gods above. She adjusted her uniform and took up her katana. "Let's go."
Warren shrugged and took off into the air, knowing that Elizabeth would track him from the ground. That's why he didn't see her lying prone on the ground, weeping.
This is where I got the inspiration from my story:
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