The next morning was an early one for me, like always, and I was out of the bed and washed before anyone else was up. I quickly made up three full batches of the enhanced beauty creme, or 36 crates of it, and packed it up to send to Lady Marks. When I was finished, it was time for a normal morning that everyone could share in.
I went back into the bedroom and Helena was just waking up herself. “Good morning.” I whispered to her and gave her a kiss.
“Mmm. Good morning.” Helena said back and rolled onto her back. “We have another full day ahead.”
I had to smile at that. “You didn't have to fill up all of our time together with activities.”
“We've missed doing so much while you were at the academy and I wanted to show you off.” Helena said and sat up as Jill, two other maids, and Sara and Tabitha came into the room.
“You two definitely need another bath after last night.” Jill said with a smile.
I didn't bother saying that I had already washed and let the maids take us into the large bathroom to do their work. I was sure they would notice I didn't take a full bath, since it was their job to notice those kinds of things.
We were washed and dried, then dressed in casual clothes for breakfast. We went downstairs and met Vanessa and Hope just inside the dining room. As soon as she saw us, Vanessa's face went bright red and she looked embarrassed.
“Good morning.” I said.
Vanessa glanced at Helena and I saw a slight nod, so she looked back at me and her embarrassment seemed to morph into need. Her arms reached up and wrapped around my neck and then Vanessa kissed me passionately. I only had one arm free to hug her back with, since I was escorting Helena with the other one.
Vanessa broke the kiss and looked quite happy. “G-good morning.”
Hope let out a chuckle at what she just saw. “Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes.”
“I hope you slept well last night.” Helena said as she let my arm go and took Vanessa's.
“Well... it was a new bed and...” Vanessa's blush didn't fade as she glanced at me. “I did fall asleep eventually.”
I was tempted to mention that the large double doors to Vanessa's room next door to the main bedroom had been open the entire time that Helena and I had been having sex, then thought if I pointed it out, everyone would know that Vanessa had a direct view of everything that we had done.
“So did I.” Helena said and led Vanessa over to the small round table that had replaced the large square one we had used for the dinner party. “This week long break isn't even over yet and I already can't wait for the next one for the Solstice.”
Vanessa sat where Helena pointed, directly across from her. “Can I stay over then as well?”
I sat down between them. “What do you mean stay over?” I asked, a little confused. “You live here.”
Vanessa's mouth made that little 'o' of surprise and Helena laughed softly.
“When we said that was your bedroom, we didn't mean only while you are here. It's your bedroom.” Helena clarified. “The maid interviews will happen for an hour after breakfast and if you can't choose, we can have one or more of them perform their duties during the day for you to choose by tonight.”
Vanessa blinked her eyes. “You're letting me move in?”
“Of course we are.” Helena took her hand and held it. “If you read over the contracts again, it doesn't say anything about you having to wait until you graduate for the living arrangements to change.”
Conversation stopped when the kitchen door opened and breakfast was served.
“We can have someone sent over to gather your things from the Sellwafer estate or have you escorted yourself and you can pack up what you want and bring it back.” I said and started eating the food on my plate.
“You really...” Vanessa let a smile grow on her face. “Thank you. Thank you both.”
Helena chuckled. “I know what it's like to be under constant scrutiny by family members. So, as long as you know that you don't have to accept living here right away...”
Vanessa gave her a disbelieving look. “I want to live here right now!”
Helena laughed and let her hand go. “We're both glad for that.” She said and nodded to me.
“We are not going to stop you from visiting whoever you want, either.” I said and Vanessa looked surprised. “If you invite people over, check with the head maid.” I pointed to Hope. “She'll arrange whatever you need.”
“The same will apply when you go back to the academy.” Helena said and Vanessa looked shocked. “Yes, you'll be moving in there as well. With your chosen maid.”
“But... but...” Vanessa looked from her to me.
“I remember you asking your dorm monitor about having your own potion setup.” I said and her eyes widened. “Now you'll have access to twelve of them, unless you want to set up your own on a separate bench.”
Vanessa looked like she couldn't make herself say anything, like the words were caught in her throat.
“I've been a bit worried about David being there with only one maid, then the king came through and had the academy allow Sara and Hope to stay there as well.” Helena said and started eating, too. “Having you be there as well will be such a weight off of my shoulders.” She looked at me. “I know you don't really feel alone or lonely most of the time, especially when you're busy...”
“I do.” I said and several sharp intakes of breath responded to my words. “I didn't at first, since we were just getting to know each other. I miss having you in my bed and loving you whenever I can.”
Helena's face flushed red and she ducked her head a little. “D-David, I... I do, too.”
“We should arrange with Greta to either bring me here on the weekends or to bring you to the dorm mansion.” I said and Vanessa and Helena stared at me. “What? As long as a teacher is chaperoning, a student can leave the academy whenever they want.”
“But... that...” Vanessa looked at Helena briefly and then at me. “How did you discover that?”
“When Mage Ridge brought me to visit Alex and Donna and then when Mage King took me on two trips during class days.” I said. “They didn't need special forms to sign or anything.”
“Oh, my.” Helena said and sat back in her chair. Her eyes went to me, to Vanessa, and back to me. “I think we need to talk to Greta and arrange a few things.”
“I'm sure she'll be happy to, especially after tonight.” I said and Helena chuckled.
“Her mother will practically beg her to help you.” Helena said, amused. “I assume you've made some progress on the creme?”
“I have 36 crates ready to deliver before tonight.” I said and she nodded. “Are you sure you don't want to come as well?”
“I'm sure that Lady Marks wouldn't look too favorably on me if I showed up on your arm.” Helena said with a laugh. “How in the world can she flirt and try to convince you to do more work for her if I was there?”
“With a lot of difficulty?” I asked and she laughed some more. “Greta might slip in to visit tonight, since she overheard her mother and I talking.”
Helena nodded. “I know she'll have your back during any negotiations.”
“She always does, even at her own detriment.” I said and Helena's hand found mine and gave it a light squeeze. “Her mother has really relaxed her attitude since Greta confronted her.”
“If her granddaughter is any indication, Lady Marks is almost a different woman.” Helena said and picked up a glass of juice to take a sip. “I overheard Princess Rose telling the queen.”
“That was an odd friendship to see.” Vanessa said. “How did they meet? Jinelle and the princess, I mean, not the queen and Lady Marks.”
“I think it was developed over time, especially since the queen raised Rose how she wanted, without all of the restrictions her first three children were subjected to by royal decree.” I said as an explanation.
“Okay, that makes sense.” Helena said and leaned back a little to relax. “The queen would have brought Princess Rose along socially and not as an adjunct to the crown.”
“Could she really make that distinction?” Vanessa asked. “I mean, does she tell people that this is the princess and to ignore her social standing or something?”
Helena laughed and waved the question away. “No, she would go out for lunch with the other ladies, or meet up for a bit of shopping, or any number of occasions that didn't require her in any official capacity. With Rose along, they would just assume she was there without official capacity as well.”
“That would create a nice environment for the princess to meet and be friendly with other young women without putting any social strain on either of them.” Vanessa said in agreement.
“The queen was quite intelligent to do it, too. Being friends with the people you'll be dealing with professionally later would make any negotiations that much easier for both parties.” Helena said. “Having their daughters learn that for the future and copying them automatically, because they saw how it was done...”
I nodded. “It's definitely going to benefit the kingdom in the long run.”
“Less conflicts of interest?” Vanessa asked and both Helena and I nodded. “That would be good.”
“Yes, and now that you're done eating...” Helena turned to Hope. “If you would be so kind to bring Vanessa to the parlour and unleash the wolves for her to choose from.”
Hope barked a laugh and stood. “Yes, my lady.” She said and came over to take Vanessa's hand. “Don't worry, I'll be right there to help you.”
“Thank you.” Vanessa said and turned to me. “Are you coming with us? You need to approve of her as well.”
“I have a bit of work to do before we leave for the activities Helena has filled our day with.” I said and stood. “When you narrow it down to a few choices, Hope can come and get me in my work room.”
“All right.” Vanessa said and stood as well. “Helena, I'll see you in an hour.”
“We do have some outfit coordinating to do.” Helena said and stood. “Jill, let's get some things laid out for us to pick through.”
“Yes, my lady.” Jill said and we all left the dining room to do our chosen tasks.
I went to my work room and started to decipher the enchantments on the cell that I had been held in. I knew it couldn't work like that for practical purposes, since there were six different enchantments that combined to make the effect. I pulled the enchantments apart and drew out their individual components, which left me with a pile of undecipherable runes that I couldn't make heads or tails of.
I chuckled and shook my head, then went to the main bedroom and gave Helena a kiss. She didn't ask me what it was for, so I hugged her and gave her another kiss, then went to the vault. I opened it and took out my academy book of runes and the old and very fancy book of runes I had stored there.
“I know that look.” Helena said with a chuckle. “There's only half an hour left, all right?” She said as a warning with a smile on her face.
I gave her another kiss as I passed by her. “Hope's coming to get me, so I won't be too wrapped up in this.”
Helena nodded and I went back to my work room. I had the runes written out and I had no idea what they were called, so I started with the academy book and read through the index to see if it would give me an abbreviated listing. It did, except it was just the names. I tried to reference through the names I guessed at and didn't find anything even close to the runes, so I snapped it closed.
My only hope was the old book that I had gotten from the Hag and I did the same thing. I read through the index and it was also only with names. They were different from the academy book and also included some of the descriptions of what they did. It was much easier to find the names of the ones I thought they would be and flipped through the book to start checking them out.
I almost laughed when I checked the third name I had guessed and found the rune that was almost identical. The one on the enchantment had two lines missing from the one in the book, though. On the plus side, I had found one of the necessary runes. I flipped back through the book to the start of the chapter and it was all about defensive runes used in different enchantments on armor and buildings.
Perfect. I thought and started to read the chapter.
“David, it's time to check Vanessa's choices.” Hope said a moment later as she poked her head into the room.
“You caught me at the best time.” I said and put a bookmark into the book. “I just found what I wanted and had only started reading through it.”
Hope smiled. “You can go right back to it when you get the chance.”
“Yes.” I said and picked both books up and went back to the vault and dropped them off, then followed Hope to the parlour.