Hiding. That was what she was doing. She was hiding in her room. The dressmaker came the following day, after her meeting with the Duke. She was a quiet woman unlike dressmakers at the capital. The woman and her seamstresses had no gossip to share with her. It was the same with the maids. They spoke less and when they did, it was very short and curt. But Denise had heard them converse outside her room. They sounded different. Lively, even.
Once she was left alone,away from the dressmaker, the maids and the butlers, she took out a pen and paper. She was going to write to the duke. It was risky but she had to maintain the facade. She swallowed as she stared at the paper.
What would a homesick Colette write?
Writing on her current state of events was truly treason. But it would be poetic. Denise was proud of the illustrations she’d add too. She ripped it apart and ate it. She paused and hoped no one saw her eat magic paper. They were expensive. She drafted a much more appealing letter highlighting things she knew Colette would ask about if she was at her rightful place.
She gave the sealed letter to the maid once she was done. Not once did she mention anything about returning. The General and probably his men were sure to go through the letter. It was invasive and it disgusted her. It also terrified her. She had no ally in a place where allies were a hope she could only dream of.
Denise fell on the bed after her dinner. She didn’t eat in the dinning room. She ate in the silence and privacy of her room. She didn’t have the guts to meet the General or his men. But something was nudging at her. Earlier she had discovered something. A secret compartment in one of Colette’s personal chests. She had succeeded in opening it but inside was a box that required a key.
She looked for the key but couldn’t find it. She gave up and decided to break it open. How? Throwing it out of the window was not an option. The contents could be scandalous or better yet, helpful to her survival. Albeit the latter was a miracle.
She checked everything again, a key, a key. She was mumbling at this point. Hoping for something. Nothing. A knock on the door startled her. The maids came in, carrying bottles. She wondered what was going on.
“My lady, we are here to help you prepare for tomorrow.”
Unfortunate. Tomorrow, she was getting married. She was scared, she would be tied to the devil himself. She had never been this afraid in her life. A contractual marriage in Colette’s body. The gods were mad. Everyone was mad. She was mad. She let the maids begin the pampering. Like a lamb led to slaughter she barely slept.
Morning ushered in and the castle was bustling with activity. The maids came early and the preparations continued from the night before. The night mask was washed off and an equally beautiful Colette stared at the mirror. It was shocking each time she stared into the mirror.
She was dressed in a white gown as every bride is dressed on her wedding day except she had no say in the type of gown she was going to wear. It was the Viler family tradition to wear a specific gown from generation to generation. Her measurements were taken and the dress altered. She resigned to this fate with little rebuttal, who knew what would happen if she opposed it. Would she lose a finger or a toe?
Light make up was used to give a trending glowing bride effect, it was an even bigger testament to Colette’s beauty. It was scary what a little blush could do to her face. The veil was placed on her hair and a bouquet was handed to her. The bride was complete.
She was led down the stairs by the butler and the maid. Colette’s father would not be there to give her away and Denise’s father...he wasn’t in this world anymore. Denise would have to walk down the aisle alone. She was led to the back garden where a large group of strangers sat waiting on either side of an aisle. An aisle that led to a lectern and there stood a priest and next to him was the man of the hour, dressed in attire that showcased his status as the general.
General Viler was very handsome, the rough yet still handsome image that he showed her in his war room was gone. Instead stood a true General of Verradus. The Blood Lord in his blood red uniform and his bride in a white so pure, he would stain her red.
The maids retreated to their stations and the butler ushered her forward as he disappeared into the shadows. She was scared. Her heart was about to jump out of her chest. She inhaled deeply. She took a step forward. If she ran, her head would be off her shoulders. She had limited choices. Living was something she wanted to continue doing.
The next step made everything dreary and long. She was scared out of her mind. Her shoulders were filled with an imaginary yet unbearable weight. Numerous eyes followed her every step. The General stared at her with a smile. Who was he deceiving? It surely wasn’t her. The guests watched as he took her hand, his hand was warm in the cold autumn weather.
The priest requested everyone to sit. She wanted to leave immediately. The priests’ words echoed in the small garden square. There were no flowers. It was a simple wedding. The only flowers were her bouquet. The guests didn’t seem to mind it the lack of luxury that wasn’t portrayed.
“Do you Lady Colette Hildebrand take his lordship, Lord Swain Viler to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, till death do you part?”
The wind blew at this moment. It echoed across the castle walls. It was chilling.
The priest finished the ceremony with a flourish.
“You may now kiss the bride.”
Obviously the General wouldn’t kiss her. But lo and behold, he did. The applause was drowning.