Lavinia had been in the Montgraneux palace for only two months. On her first week she married the duke and her mother assured her it was the best choice she could've had for a husband.
The duke of Halesworth was one of those bachelors that every girls wanted to marry: he was rich do to his business as a country man and as a politician, he had participated in battles abroad and, most important, he was an elegant, gracious man.
To Lavinia, looks weren't that important. From the moment she realized she had come to the world only to get married and be someone's something, she had decided not to mind too much about looks. She wanted someone who she can talk to at nights, share silly facts about life and live a peaceful life, with children as her mother intended.
She was presented to the duke in a party nothing to fancy, and the man liked her for her wit and tenderness. Within the next month, the wedding was arranged as well as her moving from her parents house.
Montgraneaux was majestic. It had a french name as the duke's grandparent had built it for his spouse, a french lady. The palace was a two story building, filled with beautiful objects from around the world. Lavinia specially liked the ballroom, which had plenty of mirrors and the nicest view towards the gardens.
The wedding, of course, was magnificent. Every single person that counted was there. Even an envoy from her majesty attended. Lavinia was so happy and proud to be marrying such a respectable person. She never thought she would enjoy marrying but that day she was all joy and fun and her mother even asked her if she felt fine. She answered: "Mama, I love my new life".
So from that day onward she lived on Montgraneaux.
However, things changed fast and not as she would have liked to. The duke was rarely at home, even to work, so she would only see him on weekends when they walked the gardens and shared quiet meals.
Lavinia didn't wanted too much of life so she was sad to see her low expectations were not being filled. The change became apparent from day one, or night one to be precise. She had never had sex but somehow she felt the duke just rushed the moment, which she didn't enjoy very much.
The young woman passed the time checking on the house, visiting new acquaintances and having her mother in for tea. Not much could be done.
Every time she had a chance to be with the duke, she reminded him of her ambition to have a house full of children. His response was always something like nodding or anything of the sorts. He didn't seemed interested in it.
She even tried seducing him at nights but that proved to be a failure too: he would leave to room arguing she was being "strange" or he would have some minutes of sex with her, as if just to please her.
Days and days alone, left her plenty of time to know every single corner of the house, which was pretty large. She would enjoy helping the gardeners, although it was not very lady like for him to be doing such chores. Anyway she did it, as she didn't care who would say what. She was a disgraced woman as far as she was concerned, so she didn't mind the opinion of others.
Winter changed things, again. The duke couldn't travel as much as he used to so he stayed in more but in his office. She would try to help him with things or take some tea for him but it didn't seem to do anything for the marriage.
One night, she discovered that the ballroom was closed, all doors locked with key. Curious, she went outside to look in, but found our all the curtains were down and nothing could be seeing. Only a dim light.
This happened at least once a week. Strangely, it coincided with multiple visits from statesmen, military officers and local authorities. They would always come right at lunch time and leave after dinner. This would annoy Lavinia every time, as she had to listen to endless stupid war stories or about shortages of wheat or some other kind of nourishment. She would always try to eat fast and argue she was exhausted to be excused.
Snow came in february and she would spend many hours making castles in it or playing by herself, She would remember her young years, when she was a lonely girl too. She wanted a child so bad, to take care of and to be with.
Exploring the palace had proven useful as, one day, she found at that one of the rooms in the second floor, mainly used by as a reading parlor, had a small compartment on one of the walls. When you opened it, you would enter a small space were an adult person could stand comfortably. Most curious, at the height of the eyes, there was a sliding plaque, in order to watch people below, in the ballroom.
She used it only once when the duke celebrated a Christmas party for every single noble man and lady in the region. Lots of people came and, at one point, Lavinia disappeared to watch everything from her private "booth": the view was amazing, felt like being a bird. She thought the person that made it should have being very suspicious of his guests.
One night, in which the duke had once again left the bed to sleep in some other room, Lavinia decided to go to the kitchen and have some warm milk. It had always helped her to sleep and she was having an awful time trying to sleep, as her thoughts of feeling alone, as well as her mother's insistence on the subject of children, were revolving on her mind.
She got her milk and was going back to bed when she came to one of the ballroom's doors. Strangely, she could see a under the door, as if fire had been lit inside. She had the urge to scream but realized this was the perfect time to use her secret "booth".
She silently climbed the stairs to the second floor and entered the reading parlor. She left the glass of milk on a table and opened her private space. When she lifted the sliding panel, her eyes had to close for a minute as the light was to bright.
Indeed, it was fire light, coming from the hearth on one side of the room. She couldn't see anything else except a table and... Clothing, on the ground. Her breathing accelerated when she understood it all: her husband suddenly got up from the floor, naked. He then laid on the edge of the table and that's when Lavinia saw it: one of the many military men that had come for supper penetrated her husband and he, the duke, seemed to enjoy it.
She close the panel and wanted to cry but didn't. She breathed heavily but calmed herself down, stood up and drank her milk. She was in that room for hours, gazing at the compartment from which she had seen it all.
No one never knew how or why but Lavinia suddenly became a leader in the region, touring towns and cities, helping those in need. She taken an interest in doing charity and people praised for that and for being an amazing hostess.
The height of it all was the birth of her daughter Anne. And it all happened due to her wit and strength, as she blackmailed her husband and let him do as he may as along as he kept his side of their agreement.
When he died, years later, in a skirmish in a colony far away, she received condolences from everyone. But she didn't mind. Her life expectations were fulfilled and more was yet to come.