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A Fire That Burns Unseen

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The Lady Annalise comes down to break her fast with her throat wrapped again.

Bonnie bites her lip against anything she might say, placing the dishes silently on the table and drifting back against the wall. Her Lady notices anyway.

She snaps. “Haven’t you anything better to do than stand and watch me eat?”

Bonnie bows her head, acquiescing. She waits until she is in the corridor before she allows the frustrated tears to fall. Her nails dig into her palms, pale skin marred by white half-moons.

* * *

Lord Keating has his eye on one of his tenants’ daughters. Bonnie cares only that Lady Annalise never find out, that she is not hurt by it. She turns the girl away from the manse without a thought. Miscarriages are common in first pregnancies, and whatever honor the girl had is already spent.

* * *

A new crop of children has come of age in town, and Lady Annalise has selected five, raised them up above their peers and brought them into her home.

Blinded by Annalise, they do not see Bonnie and Frank. That is as it should be.

Bonnie and Frank are shadows, lingering on the outskirts of every room, drifting through the dark halls of the manse ahead of and behind Lady Annalise’s candlelight. They are not quite servants, not quite guests; they do what must be done, and never mind the dirt.

Bonnie knows if she ever had a soul, it is well and truly lost now. It does not bother her. Lady Annalise is worth it.

* * *

Lord Keating comes to Bonnie’s room some nights. Bonnie welcomes him wanly, watches him disrobe, lays pliantly open while he fucks her. Pictures him doing the same to his wife. It is nowhere near what she wants; it is the closest she can get.