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The Doll-Like Maid

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It was common for the royalty of Leidenschaftlich to have personal attendants. Maids or butlers, they were called. But Gilbert Bougainvillea, second in line for the title of King after his brother Dietfried, knew that they were really slaves. Most of them now had been born into this situation- the daughters and sons of the generation after generation of families that tended to the palace and its royal occupants.

His mother and father were stuck in the old ways, used to treating people as tools. But Gilbert had never had the stomach for it. The punishments for doing something wrong, the controlling of other human beings…the older he got, the more he hated it. But being in the minority vote on the matter didn’t give him much leverage and no one cared for his opinion anyway. He would never be the king. And convincing Dietfried that he didn’t need slaves was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

So, when they brought in a new slave, Gilbert had to stop himself from punching his brother in the face.

“You need a personal attendant. Trust me,” Dietfried said, slapping a hand on Gilbert’s shoulder. “It helps. And when she’s not working for you, she’ll help around the palace. Our other scullery maid fell ill and died last week. Use her, Gilbert.”

Gilbert knew that his brother was just trying to be helpful. He knew that he just wanted him to see from his point of view- who wouldn’t want someone waiting on them hand and foot? And for all the stars, he hoped that his brother didn’t have another meaning by the words “use her”.

“If you don’t, I’ll give her to someone else,” Dietfried continued, his stern green eyes boring into his.

Gilbert stared back. “Where did you find her?”

“In the forest. She was alone when we attacked. I’m still not sure if she speaks, but she certainly understands. If she had family, we slaughtered them all.”

Gilbert felt his stomach flip. Usually, Gilbert was the one that led their army’s missions, as he was the Major and was honestly more disposable than the heir to the throne. But Gilbert hadn’t gone because he had been ill for weeks. He had only gotten back on his feet a day ago and he still felt shaky. Perhaps if the scullery maid had the same care that he had she would still be alive like he was.

He supposed Dietfried was trying to make this girl a slave to save her. To give her another chance at life instead of ending up on the streets, a beggar or a whore.

Gilbert finally let his eyes slide past his brother to get a good look at the girl. He frowned. She was filthy. Her hair was long and unkempt, tangled and visibly knotted in places. She was skinny, her dress slipping off her shoulder, the hem sweeping the floor and covered in dust.

But he’d be a liar if he said she wasn’t beautiful.

Her eyes were a deep blue, and even though she was looking down at the floor he could tell that she could break a man’s heart with just a look.

She couldn’t have been much younger than he was. Would it be appropriate to take her under his wing? Royals’ maids were expected to help their master dress, to wash them if the master so pleased. Gilbert got the feeling that even he would have a challenging time keeping his lower-half from reacting if she was standing next to him while he was unclothed, though he was used to beautiful women standing next to him in the bath. He had stood still, unbothered by the maids running soft clothes against his shoulders and back as they stood wet in the shower beside him when he was a teenager, before he had decided against letting slaves tend to him.

But it was that very thought that spurred Gilbert to decide. This girl would be fed to the woods if he didn’t do what his brother asked. Anyone else would surely take advantage of her. He couldn’t let that happen.

He let out a sigh, ran a hand through his dark hair. “Fine, I’ll take her,” he conceded.

Dietfried smirked, a hint of evil and mischief that set girl’s swooning but just annoyed Gilbert. “Good choice. I’ll see you for dinner, then?”

“Of course,” Gilbert grinned, “And welcome back, brother.”

Dietfried smiled and waved a hand as he walked away, surely to bathe and rest after returning from his journey.

That left Gilbert to stare at the girl, who hadn’t moved the entire time. He cleared his throat and moved his hand to the back of his head. He let out a nervous chuckle. “Well, I’ll try not to overwork you. What do you say we get you settled in?”

Realizing she was being spoken to, the girl’s eyes slowly roamed upwards until she was looking into Gilbert’s eyes. He couldn’t help but gulp. Heartbreaker, indeed.

“Do you…do you speak?” he asked warily. He moved towards her, half expecting her to flee, but she didn’t. Her eyes remained fixated on him, intense but somehow shielded.

Gilbert wondered if she had truly seen her family slain by his own men. If that was the case, the girl probably hated his brother and him. She would probably kill him in his sleep. But no…he was too well-trained and Dietfried knew that. If she so much as tiptoed towards his bed at night he’d hear her.

“Do you have a name?” he asked. When she still did not answer, Gilbert crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. Anyone else would have struck the girl or grabbed her by her hair, demanding respect. Demanding that their slave obey. But it wasn’t in Gilbert to do so and anyways he wasn’t sure if the girl even knew how to speak at this point. Perhaps she was deaf and only knew what he was saying because she could read lips…but no, she had been looking at the floor when he had first spoken to her. Perhaps she didn’t have a voice. Or maybe, most likely, she just didn’t want to answer any of his questions.

“Nod if you understand,” he said.

She did. A small bop of the head, but that was something at least and Gilbert felt a surge of pride. A point for him, surely!

“Great,” he said, slapping his hands together. “Then let’s see to it that you get clean and a change of clothes. After that I’ll show you some of your duties.”

He began to walk, but when she did not move he turned back to her. “Follow me,” he ordered and found that she immediately began to walk. He continued, “I’ll give you some things to do to keep you busy during the day. If you still have time before sunset, you’ll work around the palace with the other sla—maids. Then you’ll go to the maid quarters to rest and you’ll come to the castle after sunrise each morning to awaken me.”

They entered a grand sitting room, where Gilbert knew the maid he was looking for would be. Cattleya Baudelaire was one of the few maids that were paid for her services. She taught the newer maids how to do their jobs, assigned jobs and went home at night. Rumor had it that a certain redhead friend of his, his second-in-command, had met her on a day out and begged the king to allow her to work in the palace as he didn’t want her out on the streets.

“Cattleya,” he said, causing her to turn around from her chore of arranging a vase of flowers on the furntiure, her long black hair swinging behind her like a cape.

Her uniform fit snugly against her curves, her amethyst eyes bright and curious the moment she took sight of the girl beside Gilbert. “Your Majesty,” she said with a slight curtsy. ‘How may I be of service?”

“This new maid needs to bathe and be given fresh clothes. Spare what you have for now, have her measurements taken so that the seamstress can make clothes for her. She is to be my personal attendant.”

He didn’t miss the way Cattleya’s eyebrows rose up. She opened her mouth to say something- ever the outspoken one, but for once decided against it and instead looked to the girl. “And does this girl have a name?”

“I’m not sure, actually,” Gilbert admitted. “She doesn’t seem to be able to speak.”

“Ah,” Cattleya said, eyeing the girl, “Then perhaps you should name her, Your Majesty. Everyone deserves a name, after all.”

Gilbert nodded. Cattleya was right- but what name could be worthy of a girl of such beauty?

His eyes roamed around as he thought, but just as he was about to say that he would give it more thought later he noticed the vase of flowers that Cattleya had been arranging.


He looked back to the girl. She was beautiful on the outside and he had the feeling that she would turn out to be just as beautiful on the inside. All it would take is a little encouragement. Once she saw that he wouldn’t be a cruel master, that he was already formulating a plan to have her released into a happy life as soon as he was able, she would be something more than what she was.

“Violet,” he said. “Her name is Violet, and she will one day become a woman as beautiful as the flower.”

Cattleya smiled and nodded. “I love it.”

Violet looked at him, her eyes intense, her hands bunched in her skirts. “Do you like that name?” he asked, hoping upon hoping. “If you can speak, then please answer.”

Violet’s eyes widened and Gilbert’s heart pounded, anxious, as he watched her lips part for the first time.

“Yes,” she answered. “That name is acceptable, Your Majesty.”

Gilbert laughed, relief and surprise making him giddy. At least he wouldn’t have to teach her to speak! “Violet it is then. Welcome, Violet,” he said, placing a hand on her head and causing her to close one eye while looking up at him.

Catching himself, he pulled his hand back. Dietfried and his parents would have a fit if they saw him touching a slave in such a way. He looked to Cattleya, trusting her to help him. “Take care of Violet for me, then. I’ll be in my quarters.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Cattleya said, pulling Violet’s loose dress up onto her bare shoulder.

Gilbert walked down the hall, not sure why his heart was still racing even as he left Violet. He wasn’t excited about owning a human…but he was excited to get to know her.

Perhaps that was the worst part of it all.