“Would you like for me to build up the fire? It has gone down to near embers” Aaron stood beside the fireplace, a poker in his hands. Turning back towards him, her arms wrapped about herself she replied “Yes, that sounds like a good idea”. Lowering her eyes a fraction and bringing one hand up to smooth down her hair she said “I could use some warming up, it is a bit chilly in here”.
As Aaron went about the task of banking the fire Bianca turned and made her way over to the bed. It really was a lovely piece, with four posters holding a canopy with sheer lace curtains that hung to the floor. When she sat down and sunk into the mattress she noted its softness and sighed. Her own bed had never been this soft. Looking at Aaron, she felt the first trembling of excitement. It was here, finally, her wedding night. Would she able to report back to Sophia and tell her it was everything they had thought since they were little girls? Or would Aaron be the kind of man to take her without her will? He didn’t look as such, not now. Had not the whole time she had known him. Watching him closely all night, he seemed like the perfect husband in every regard. He was polite, and laughed when she told him jokes or made witty remarks. All night if they were at opposite sides of the hall, she could look up and catch him gazing at her, at which point she would blush slightly and look away quickly.
No, he seemed like a good man, and this will work out she thought. Maybe she would be lucky and love would grow from an arranged marriage.
‘Okay, I can’t put this off any longer. Just stand up, turn around, walk over to her and tell her before anything happens.’ Aaron stood up and wiped his hands on his knees. As he walked towards Bianca his nerves started to get the better of him. ‘Maybe I can hide this a bit longer, what if I just keep playing drunk and fall asleep before we have to do anything, yes, men pass out all the time’.
Sitting on the bed, Aaron reached up with one hand to brush his hair back, blowing out a bit of nervous air. “So, our wedding night eh?” he said.
“It is, and I want to let you know, you do not have to worry about anything. I know what to expect. Not that I really know what I’m doing or anything I just, it’s just that…” Shaking her head to clear her thoughts Bianca stopped talking and put up her hands to cover her mouth. Taking in a big breath she sighed and said “What I mean to say is that my cousin Sophia has told me what to expect and shown me some things to make you happy”.
‘Oh god, this is worse than I thought, tell her’ Aaron thought. Taking Bianca’s hands in his own he drew them towards his chest “Bianca, I want you to know that I think you are the most splendid woman I have met. So it makes this very hard for me to say”. Drawing her hands out of his grip Bianca looked up at Aaron, her blue eyes drilling into him with worry. “I’m not quite like other men you have known. I feel love very deeply, and many other emotions besides, but especially love. And right now I love someone else”.
Aaron stood up, and took a step away from her. At that moment it felt as though the world had lurched beneath her feet.
Bianca sighed. “You know Aaron. I had thought that everything was going so well, I guess it was just too good to be true.” Giving a shaky laugh, she leaned backwards until laying on the bed with both hands on her cheeks. “Here I was, thinking I had just lucked out and gotten the best marriage I could ask for, and already I find out its doomed. Well, tell me now, and please give me the courtesy of telling the truth. Who is she? Is she from your kingdom? Or somewhere else”?
Sitting back onto the bed Aaron pulled one knee up as well to face her. “Bianca, you could not have it more wrong. I assure you, it is not a princess from another kingdom. Actually it um, this is really hard, I need a drink. Bianca, I am putting my trust in you. I want you to know this marriage means the world to both our parents and I mean to make a good husband by you.” Bianca snorted at his last comment and put her hands down to lever herself back into a sitting position.
“How is this ever going to be a marriage that works Aaron? “She said. Looking at him, she noticed how miserable he was. He looked akin to a lost puppy, one in need of consoling.
“Alright, tell me truly, who she is, and if after I know we can work towards finding a way to make this work. You do have to take into consideration my own feelings Aaron. Though this may be hard for you to say, it will be just as hard for me to bear”.
“You sound so grave Bianca”. Taking her hands again in his own; he started to explain. “There is a person who owns my heart, and I tell you now, you shall never have to worry about a public indiscretion. This is something that has long been held in secret from even my parents. But tonight, I will tell you. I am in love, with Elliot.”
“I’m not quite sure I understand Aaron, I love Sophia dearly as well, are you sure you are not mistaking friendship and childhood bonding as love”?
“ No, Elliot and I have always been close, training together as we were and being so close in age that we had always seemed to follow the older children around. And they often found ways to be rid of us. Recently during a very drunken night he and I discovered each other in a new way.”
Aaron stood and walked over to the table that had been laid out with wine and sweetmeats and fruit. Grabbing the wine jug that was slick with sweat with the heat of the room, he poured out a glass for himself and Bianca. Walking back to her while draining his own glass he sat down once more and said
“I have always had my brother telling me about the joys of women. He was a lech and would frequently bed the girls in our village. It drove my mother crazy to end and she was thankful I wasn’t like him. That I seemed to be more discreet, but truthfully, I have not been with any woman Bianca. I have never felt the need to be with a woman. But when I was with Elliot, I could feel the stirrings that Mathew would talk about. At first it confused me, I should feel these things for woman, and only woman, but when I swallowed my fear and told Elliot how I felt, he knew. He felt the same things for me and we fumbled our way through a coupling. Gah, look at me rambling on. I didn’t think I would be able to tell you this. I barely understand it myself. But please believe me when I say I want our marriage to work. It would break my parent’s heart to know how I truly feel and I cannot place that on them. I am sorry to place this on you as well, but it looked to me like I had no other choice. I do not want to lie to you.”
“Aaron. This is going to take a little bit of time for me to get used to.” She got up and moved over to a chair, sitting down and putting her elbows on her knees. “I just don’t see how you think this is going to work out between us. I had my heart set on a joyful union.” Gazing up at Aaron from under her lashes she sighed. “And now I don’t see how we can even be a union. You love someone else, and I” looking at the floor she mumbled “I still have to find out what love is.”
Crossing the floor to kneel before Bianca he put his finger under her chin and tilted her face upwards a fraction. “Bianca, this marriage can work. We may have to hide some things, but I assure you, you will never have anyone as loyal to you and our kingdom as me. I am the perfect husband in every way. Better even, for I can never disappoint you in the bedchamber, and that I am told, is something that many wives complain about.” He laughed, which in turn caused Bianca to smile and then laugh on her own. “Alright Aaron, I am going to try and make this work with you. On one condition, I may have my own consort as well and they must both remain hidden from everyone but the two of us.”
“My dear lady, your heart and mine are in complete agreement on this issue. I would have it no other way.” Crossing the room to refill the empty wine glasses Aaron began to outline a plan to Bianca which they discussed well into the hours of the night. Upon waking the next morning not a person in the village who saw their ragged state would think they were aught but truly in the first stages of a lust filled marriage.