Esmeralda was awaken from her rest by a dull throbbing pain in her lower body. She was annoyed by the interruption in her sleep. She hadn't been able to have to full night's rest since before she was rudely taken from the cathedral by her Captor. Her sleep was filled with nightmares and the wretched scenes of her abuse would play again and again through her mind as she tried to rest. She would close her eyes and see His face. His smell surrounded her. It was exhausting.
The priest did not make resting easy either. The longer she spent with him, the more she believed him to be some sort of Vampire. Where most people would rest at night, He did not. He would wake her up from her rest to force his affections on her multiple times. He would lay there, touching her body and stroking her hair until he would stop and rest. Many times through the night he would wake up tossing and turning screaming 'Jehan'. Some victim of his no doubt.
The dull pain in her lower abdomen started to increase in intensity. Esmeralda quickly got out of bed, careful not to wake up the sleeping Monster next to her. She felt a wet heat start to coat her thighs. "NO!" she screamed before she slapped her hands over her mouth. She had completely forgotten about that thing.
Her woman's cycles were irregular to say the least. She would have them some months, and not have them during others. They were a nuisance to her and interrupted her life with the mess and wretched pain that came with them. Before her captivity, she could manage them quietly and privately. She would stay alone during her cycles and no one in her family would speak of them. It was considered a taboo subject and was not something anyone would talk about. As far as anyone was concerned, she was ill during those times.
Esmeralda looked in horror at her gown. The stains were clearly visible to her and were getting darker. She had to hide them and contain her thing before it got any worse. Or He found out.
She looked around to find something to use. Her ripped gown would not do. It was all she had for now. She remembered the children's clothes in the chest at the edge of the bed, but she thought it would be disrespectful to profane what she believed to be victims of the vampire priest.
There were blankets on the bed, but she did not want to wake up the sleeping dragon. She looked around and saw something else. His outer robe.
Esmeralda picked up the wretched robe with the tips of her fingers to examine it. She didn't want to contaminate herself by letting anything He had worn touch her more than it had to without a good reason. In this case, she would use it to get back at him. He claimed to have prepared a place with everything she needed. Such a liar! It was made of some thick material and was clearly very expensive. Its black weave was well made. Such a shame it belonged to a monster. It would now belong to her. Her health required it and maybe he would realize that he needed to keep his word.
She sat on the floor as the waves of pain spread through her, clutching at her aching body. The pain took her breath away. She had experienced pain with it, but nothing like this before. She was sure that the stress of her captivity had brought it on and only made the thing worse. Another way that awful man ruined my life.
With as much strength as she could muster, she tried to rip the sleeve of his robe. She pulled and pulled, but the material would not give. Unlike her gown, it was actually well made and would not rip with something so futile. She used her teeth, but it did not work either. Her gown had ripped without issue, but of course his would not.
She shrieked in frustration at the robe and its obstinacy. It matched the situation she found herself in. Everything of hers, He could rip away, but she could not take anything of His.
Everything that had happened over the past few weeks hit her like a ton of rocks. The wretched priest had taken everything from her. He had taken her Phoebus, her happiness, her chance of finding her mother, and had violated her body time and time again. He had taken her privacy away now and there was nothing she could do to hide it. She was sure he had done it on purpose to humiliate her.
There was nothing she could do but cry. And so she did.
She cried for the life she had and the one she was forced to live. She cried over the possibility of him learning about her vulnerability.
She did not hear the stirring behind her.
Claude was weary and tired. His nights were full of strange dreams about Jehan and Esmeralda. He saw his brother's broken body again and again and the temptress Esmeralda teasing him with it. The nightmares about Esmeralda teasing him and making love to him before strangling him or killing him continued. He would wake up after them and exert his dominance over her. She must have cast a spell over him to force herself into his dreams in such a way.
Last night, he had no such nightmares. For that, he was thankful. His rest was deep and easy. He had not had a good night's rest since before his madness towards the girl had set in.
Claude found his body to be cold. He reached over to find Esmeralda and bring her in to his embrace and warm him. She was not there.
He sat up and panicked, worried that she had left him. His heart was racing. Surely not? He had locked everything and there was no way she could leave him unless he let her.
He saw her on the floor with his robe in her lap, and her back was to him. The girl was softly crying. Her black hair fell over her back. Something was causing her distress.
He quietly tossed the blankets off of him and crept over to her, kneeling behind her. The cold of the floor seemed to freeze his flesh. If he was cold, surely she was as well. He put a hand on her shoulder.
He was surprised when she thrust backwards with an elbow to try to strike at him. She narrowly missed the scar on his chest. "Obstinate girl!"
Claude tried to pull her back into his lap to protect her from the cold and to warm his own body. He had to know what was wrong with her too. She swatted at him and struck out like an angry child. She clearly was not interested in any of his efforts.
Her obstinate behavior frustrated him. He was only trying to help her after all! He would not take this nonsense from her. She would submit to him.
He tried to force her into his lap. She tried to strike and fight his touch. He bent her arms over her chest so she could not strike and held her to him. She kept her legs bent and tightly held together. The girl couldn't move.
He buried his face in her mass of hair and inhaled her fragrance. The faint smell of summer flowers and spices still clung to her strands. That and something that was distinctly Esmeralda. He noted how tangled and dull her hair had become. He would have to remedy that.
Esmeralda sobs shook her tiny body. He could feel every muscle in her body tense against him. Claude murmured soothing words to her to try to calm her distress.
He felt something else. A strange dampness against his leg, under where she was held against him. The girl let out what sounded like a moan of pain and he felt a shiver pass through her body.
Claude ran one of his hands up her legs and caressed the back of her thighs to find out what was causing the wetness.
She shrieked between sobs "Please don't!".
He felt wetness on her flesh and pulled his hand away. His fingertips were bloody.
He let go of the girl and stood up. She curled herself into a ball and sobbed harder. He looked back and forth from the girl to his bloodied hand.
He had completely forgotten about what happens to women when they were of a certain age. In his desperation to save her from the executioner, he had not prepared as thoroughly as he thought that he had. He was so focused on taking her way that he forgot about those sorts of things.
Claude was familiar with the Curse of Eve from his religious texts. All women were cursed with suffering and pain during life and birth as punishment for the Original Sin. It was their lot in life and they had to suffer for that reason. To provide relief was a mark against that.
He was also familiar with the illness of the Wandering Womb and hysteria from his medical texts. He had read them solely out of curiosity and desire for knowledge. He had thought the topic to be obscene and his fear of women meant that he would never treat the conditions. Until now.
Hysteria was thought to be brought on by that as well. The girl appeared to often have hysteric episodes. He had witnessed that firsthand. She was anxious, tearful, and would throw tantrums with him. She would often have tremors any time he touched her and her eyes would become dull and empty, as if she couldn't see him or was even there.
Some of the texts claimed that hysteria could be cured by the release of humors from the womb by a woman finding her pleasure from the act of love. He questioned the veracity of that, but he would do more research on the topic later on. The research sounded pleasurable and he looked forward to experimenting. He felt his nether regions respond to the thought.
Back to the problem at hand. She deserved to suffer does she not? She caused my downfall and tempted me with her wanton ways. She forced me to debase myself and break my vows of chastity. She brought this all upon herself and she needs to suffer the consequences of her actions. The Curse of Eve is her lot.
The girl let out another moan of pain. She looked up at him and for a brief moment, their eyes met. A look of embarrassment, fear, and pain was written clearly upon her tearstained face. Her whole image was truly pathetic.
Claude felt his hard heart soften at that look. The girl was clearly suffering. Her flesh was pale and dark circles were clearly visible under her eyes. Her tangled hair covered her. Her stained gown and bruised arms only helped to complete the image of a pathetic and hurt soul. That look reminded him of the pathetic faces of his abandoned brother and adopted son.
Despite all she had done to him, could he not relieve her suffering even a little? He was as a husband to her after all and it was a husband's job to care for his wife, even if she was obstinate and clearly did not appreciate his efforts to save her life. The dark part of him wanted to see her suffer as revenge for everything she had caused. He wanted her to feel the agony he felt in his twisted soul.
The part of his soul that still felt compassion and hated to see anyone suffer was a little louder than the dark voice. His heart ached to see her in such a state. He knew he had the power to ease her agony. She entrusted herself (however unwillingly) into his care and it was his duty as a husband to provide for her every need.
He knelt down and wiped his bloodied hand on the robe that she held. Claude gathered the girl in his arms, picked her up, and laid her down on their bed. Esmeralda flinched at the contact but seemed to relax as she realized he would not be joining her. He ordered her to "Stay here. I'll be back".
He took his robe, unlocked the door, and left the suffering child by herself for a time. He called for one of the home's caregivers. There were a few that were still there.
He kept the bare minimum to keep the home in order. He needed a woman to solve this issue. An older woman that had served his family for many years answered him and would serve his purpose well.
He asked her to provide her insight into things a woman needed to be comfortable. He explained that "She is our guest and has been entrusted into my care. It is my duty to provide for her". She did not question him, nodded in understanding, and gave him a list of things that she thought the girl would need.
Claude had heard some of the caregivers speak of the strange and ill girl that he had taken into his care. The rumor was that she was an abandoned plaything of Jehan's and in "delicate condition". He neither confirmer or denied that statement.
He gave her the necessary funds to buy whatever she thought the girl needed and sent her on her way. He also ordered her to find new clothes for the girl. He gathered supplies for things that he would use to ease the girl's pain and suffering. He gathered water and rags for her to clean herself. He found the necessary herbs that he knew could be used for feminine complaints among his medical supplies. He brewed thyme and lady's mantle into a light brew for the girl.
Claude took a knife and cut the hem of his robe into strips. He could have it rehemmed later. She would need something to keep the flow away from her perfect flesh. He also got a sick sense of satisfaction of one of his things being so close to her most secret place and her being completely reliant upon her for even her most basic aspects of care.
Maybe she would appreciate him and be thankful for his efforts? He truly hoped so.
She would learn to trust him.
Esmeralda lay where he left her. Her lower abdomen felt like it was at war with the rest of her body. She did not want to move, because it only made the pain worse. "At least he won't try to take me while I am unclean" she thought to herself.
She lay for a time, praying that the pain would go away. She heard a knock and her Captor returned with his arms full of things. She sat up as he brought them over to her and eyed him with mistrust. He set a bowl of steaming water and rags down on the chest at the edge of their bed. The faint smell of lavender hit her.
He left again and brought back a mug of something hot. He handed it to her. She eyed it as though it were poison. "What is this?" she asked.
"It's thyme and other things that will help soothe your pain, my child. You need to drink all of it if you want to feel any better".
Esmeralda muttered something about poison but realized she would not have to worry about the situation if it was. If it wasn't poison, at least she would have relief from the cramps. She sipped on it and enjoyed the slightly spicy taste of the herbs and the sweet taste of the honey that he must have added to it as well. The drink warmed her and started the numb the pain in her body.
She finished it and he took it away from her. He handed her a comb and one of the steaming rags. "I brought you something to wash up with. I know it has been some time since you were able to clean yourself. I took the liberty of adding some things to the water".
Esmeralda was shocked and extremely confused at his newfound acts of kindness towards her. Her mouth gaped at him. Why would he do such a thing? All he has done is cause me pain and bring destruction! Why?
He gestured to the water and said "It's best to do it while it is still hot. Unless you want me to clean you?". His tone had no malice in it. It sounded like a simple question. But why?
She quickly got up and took one of the steaming rags. She most certainly did not want him to touch her or clean her during her time. "Please don't watch," she begged him. He had already violated her modesty enough. She did not believe he would leave her alone or respect her request.
She was shocked when he turned around and left her. He called out behind him, "I will be back once you finish. I have more things for you".
Esmeralda was even more confused, but she knew she did not have much time clean herself before he came back. She took the steaming rags and quickly wiped her body down, taking care to clean each limb and make sure off of the blood stains were off of her. The water quickly lost its heat but at least her flesh was clean. The rags left behind the delicate scent of the lavender oil that he must have used. She relished the feeling of cleanliness.
When she finished her bath, she took some of the fabric he left behind and fashioned something to tie around her waist to collect the mess. She quickly lowered her skirt in the event that he walked in. She didn't want him to see her in such a compromised position. He may have taken her body, but he didn't take her sense of modesty.
After containing the thing, she wet her hair down and started to untangle the black mass. She had not been able to properly care for it over the past few days. She knew it would be a chore, but at least it gave her something to do. She went section by section, working out the snarls and knots. While she comber, she tried to understand why He was doing what he was doing. It made no sense.
Esmeralda heard the door open and close behind her. She chose to ignore him and finish the task at hand. Maybe he will leave me alone.
Claude stood there and watched his love work on her hair. It had regained its shine and lost that dull tone. He found the simple act of watching her doing something so routine to be endearing. It made him feel like for a brief moment, their situation was normal.
The girl had her back to him and was clearly ignoring him. He strode over to her and plopped down behind her. He felt her muscles tense and flinch away under his touch. Esmeralda tried to stand up and escape from him, but Claude had other ideas. "Let me". He pulled her back to him.
He sighed. Why does she have to be this way? Doesn't she see that I'm trying to help her?
He took the comb from her and started to work on the back of her hair until it was silky and tangle free again. The strands felt like silk on his fingers.
Claude pulled all of her hair back and caressed its great lengths. He had fantasized about running his fingers through her hair since the first time he saw her. The simple act seemed so intimate to him.
He started to clumsily braid it. He twisted the strands around each other until it fell down her black in a rope of shining ebony. He admired his handiwork before tossing her braid over one of her shoulders. Claude lowered his lips to the exposed side of her neck. He slowly started to kiss and caress her. He would do no more while she was in such a state.
He settled for pressing gentle kisses along her hairline and ear. His flesh responded the girls squirms against him. He had to leave or he would take advantage of her during a time when it was unhealthy for both of them to.
Soon she will appreciate my efforts. She will learn that I will provide for her in her time of need.