She reached out and touched my face lovingly. “I am here because I believe no one has actually explained your individual roles, amongst the court.”
In all honesty, she was right. At first, I thought I had been brought here to be a playmate and friend to the princess, and maybe one day a Lady in Waiting, but that dream was quickly put to rest.
She took my face more firmly in her grip, until I met her eyes. “Anna, do you know what my daughter is?”
A few silent responses flitted through my brain but I only said aloud, “A Princess.”
The Queen smiled cruelly. “No, my daughter is our key to the English royal line. She is the first choice in the running to marry the prince of England. Do you understand what that means?”
She slapped me, hard. “No, you stupid little bitch, I don’t think you do because if you did you would not have stood by and silently watched, as she allowed peasants and stable boys to dump their impure seed into her as though she were a freshly plowed field!”
I winced at her harsh turn of phrase, the pain of her slap burning my face.
She visibly settled herself and let out a long shaking breath. “Do you like living here? We provide you with beautiful clothes, education and an opportunity to marry into a wealthy family. You must understand that these things, come at a cost? For Lillian, it is that she remain virginal until her marriage to the future King of England. Some things can be faked but it would be hard to fake her driven innocence, with a stable boy’s whelp in her swollen stomach.”
This was the first time I looked at Lillian since they’d entered my room. It was clear, that for the first time in her life, she was both, hearing and understanding her place but I still did not understand, what was wanted of me.
The Queen sighed, as though my ignorance were taxing. “You, Anna, are her replacement for anything that is beneath her standing and that does not stop at spankings or boring parties. If she breaks a bowl, you get slapped, if she is invited to a party that she chooses not to attend, you go in her stead. If she wants to fuck a sailor, you lay beneath him and let her watch. If someone poisons her food, you take the first bite and if anyone tries to take her from this castle…you pretend that you are the princess! Have I covered everything? Do you both, now know your roles?”
I still had a few unanswered questions but I certainly now knew why Lillian was so hateful and angry and I also knew where she’d gotten her cruelty and spite from.
The Queen pinned her daughter in place with a stare. “Now you listen very carefully to what I am about to say, dear daughter. I suggest you refrain from fraternizing with the help because I swear on everything that is holy, if you are with child, Anna will take your place on the English thrown, and you will live out the rest of your days as her servant girl.”