He is cruel, they say. Cruel, and arrogant, and one of the last in the kingdom to exercise his droit du seigneur. The new brides are thrown back at their husbands with scars on their bruised skin and tears lingering in their eyes. He is not like other men, they say, and his appetites… they shudder and will say no more.
She has heard he doesn't wait until the wedding night. He likes to take his time. He tries to teach them to please him, these reluctant courtesans, but few, they say, succeed.
The banns have been posted. She awaits the knock on the door.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He doesn't always exercise his traditional rights. Too often, he is disappointed. He has grown bored with the project. The girls bring him nothing but fear and trembling. They come to him because they have to. They don't offer their submission, they merely collapse and endure. They neither accept nor fight. He enjoys the challenge of training a new victim, but these girls aren't trainable. They just want to get through the night and then return to the village to show their scars and spread their lies.
Well, yes, he will admit that not all the stories are lies. And the scars are real enough.
So he no longer commands that every new bride present herself to serve him. He sends his spies throughout his fiefdom, reading the banns posted each week, and researching the character and spirit and talents of the brides-to-be.
This week, they return with a report that bears promise.
She isn't the most beautiful girl in the land, they say. And she isn't all that young. But her thick red hair should appeal to you, Sir.
He remembers fingers running through wavy locks, closing around them, and pulling, sharply. A small smile escapes him.
She is smart, they say. She writes poems, she writes stories, she sings ballads while she plays the lute. She dances, they say. She dances and tosses her red hair and her eyes send out sparks. And yet, there is something…
We know what you like, Sir. We think it is there.
Bring her, he says. Bring her to me now.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
She knew he would send for her. She has been pretending to be afraid. But she knows his reputation. And she thinks he is what she has been waiting for. She trembles when she hears the knock, which is less a knock than a heavy banging that would splinter the oaken door if she didn't open it soon.
There are three men. They say nothing. One of them gives a small sharp motion with his head. She nods back and walks out the door. They parade through the town, one man in front and the other two behind her.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He awaits her impatiently. He suspects this one will be different. He hopes this one will be different. He will put her to the test.
She stands before him.
He looks her over.
She looks right back. And then she drops her eyes.
"Look at me," he says.
"Yes, Sir," she replies.
He looks inside her, he sends his gaze into her soul, and ferrets out her strengths, her weaknesses, her truths, and her submission. He has found what he wants.
She does, without artifice, unlacing her gown and letting it fall around her, revealing her pale skin and small breasts. She returns her eyes to his.
"Do I please you, my Lord? Do I please you, mon seigneur?"
"Very much, ma petite. And now you will please me more. Approach."
And when one more step would bring her body against his, he reaches out, grasps her nipple, and twists hard.
Pain shoots though her breast. Tears pool but do not fall.
"Please, my Lord… if it would please you… please hurt me again."
And he does. For days. He hurts her in every way he can imagine. She screams and cries and offers herself for more. He starts alternating torture with kisses, and teaches her how to give him pleasure. She serves him with her mouth, giving him songs and poems and kisses and a chalice for his passion.
He keeps her naked. He locks her in a room although he knows she will not leave. He teaches her and uses her and trains her to please him. He sees her submission grow and flourish as he plays with her vulnerability. She is his creation, she is his toy, she is his pleasure and his plaything and his pet and his whore and as her wedding approaches he knows he doesn't want to send her back.
And yet, he has no choice. The rules that give him the right to enjoy her demand that he allow the marriage to go forward. After all, with no marriage there is no wedding night.
He sends her back to her mother the night before the wedding. She cries with a different kind of pain but he shows no mercy. He reminds her, however, that he will expect her back immediately after the wedding feast.
At the church, the groom eyes her with suspicion. There is something different about her and he can't quite pin it down. She doesn't seem relieved to be back at his side. And she barely waits for the end of the feast before she leaves with undue haste to head back to the Lord's manor.
As when she first came to him, he awaits her arrival impatiently, and greets her at the door himself. He leads her to the room he considers hers, pushes her in, and locks the door.
She lets the wedding gown pool at her feet.
"Do I please you, mon Seigneur? Do I still please you, my Lord?"
He doesn't answer, but pushes her down over his knee and spanks her long and hard for daring to belong to another.
The night is too short.
In the morning, he sends her back to her new husband. But while the rules didn't allow him to stop the wedding, they do allow him to take in service whomever he chooses. And he chooses her. Every other week she returns to the manor for three days. Every other week, she returns with her poems and her songs and her startling nipples and her screams of pain and her moans of pleasure as she takes him in her mouth and rejoices in serving him and grows in her submission and gives him what he needs.
And he never again exercises his droit du seigneur.