THE ICE QUEEN
Chapter 1: Of Ice And Men
Outside Novodvinsk, Russia - 1895
Cecily was cold, so cold she felt there weren't enough fires in hell itself to ever warm her again. The house should have been closed for the season weeks ago. No one stayed in the country during the winter, unless you had the misfortune to be born a peasant, of course. Actually, Cecily could scarce believe the task had been left to her! Sergi had demanded-yes, demanded-that she stay behind. While serving his purpose, she would also see to the millions of minutiae involved in shifting the household back to St. Petersburg during the long, unbearably cold winter here in the sub-Arctic.
Funny, her many friends in London had been so jealous when Cecily had finally married a man worthy of her beauty and station. Her girlhood dreams of becoming a countess in her home country had come to nothing. That toad Edmund had run off with an actress, leaving Cecily with the embarassment she still felt around those very friends. Her father had been livid. No, not at Edmund for stringing Cecily along, but at his youngest daughter for letting him get away. Daddy could be so harsh, as harsh as a Russian winter.
It had taken her a full five years to finally find a man who impressed even her father. The Archduke Sergi Yevtochenko was an attache to the Russian embassy in London. He had connections to the Romanov house. Of course, that also related him to her Majesty Queen Victoria herself - albeit through the marriage of Victoria's granddaughter to the Czar.
Sergi was a man's man, rugged and a bit rough. He could hunt, drink and rut like a peasant but also be remarkably presentable in court dress. Some of the old Tartar blood, no doubt. The Russians were European, but only JUST. The court had patterned itself on the French since Peter The Great and was civilized enough. "Ah, but that was at court,", thought Cecily, "not here in my fiefdom of ice."
Once you got into the rural areas of her adopted homeland, it was like stepping back centuries. Yes, Sergi DID have all the modern conveniences at their country home, just as they did in St. Petersburg. However, the peasants lived as they had always lived, tied in servitude to the land owner. They were little more than animals, of course, and she and Sergi provided well for those who served them.
Cecily would never forget the first time she saw her husband's ancestral home. She had cried for a week and begged Sergi to take her home to London. The ground here never totally thawed and although there were trees, little else grew. Certainly the love that had been promised to follow her marriage never grew!
The winds coming off the White Sea could be brutal. Nothing you could wear stopped the invasion of death-like cold. All the white-furred weasels in Russia could drape themselves over her and still she'd shiver. Cecily wasn't like these Russian peasant women who could continue their chores even as the Arctic winds blew. She was a delicate English rose; Sergi used to call her that.
They had been married for five years, but the marriage had actually ended soon after the honeymoon. Sergi's tastes were coarse in all things and Cecily was mortified by his crass humor at her expense in front of his friends. The behavior was bad enough, but to be humiliated as well was far too much! Cecily had developed a reputation in London for having a certain coolness in her personality. She had heard the titles they gave her, "Frozen Goddess" and the less flattering "Ice Queen". Now she truly had a kingdom of ice. Her wonderful official title did nothing to keep her warm.
She heartily wished herself that girl again, back home. The men had all taken interest in the Addams' youngest girl and she could have had her pick. Her father had been the one to speak of the desirability of Edmund and his eventual title and lands. She should have entertained the other possibles.
There had been many other men she could have had. They sent flowers and vied to escort her to various gatherings and entertainments. One twit, whose name escaped her, had even written reams of poetry about her many virtues. But no, she chose to please Daddy. Well, she had truly, as they say, made her bed and must now lie in it.
She would be glad to get back to St. Petersburg. The city felt European and not nearly so foreign. The climate was warmer as well. At night she could look from her bedroom window to the West and imagine herself sailing across the Gulf of Finland to Helsinki and eventually civilization.
Sergi would scarce notice, so rarely was he at home. Between his duties, his cronies and his mistresses, she rarely saw him. But he was posessive and if she DID leave, he'd follow and carry her back if need be. She was his property, just like all else he owned. Her physical comforts were provided for, but her emotions had atrophied these last years.
She had her own circle of friends. Last year when Nicholas II had ascended the throne as Czar, Cecily found herself a lady-in-waiting of sorts to her Highness the Czarina Alexandra. She maintained all the dignity such an honor required of her, adding to her rather stiff and frigid appearance. Her old friends would not recognize her.
Well, she had best hurry and get this ice cavern closed up tight against the coming winter. She began to long for the weeks to come in polite society. Yes, a ball or two would fix her right up. St. Petersburg was no London, or even Paris, but it would do nicely.
Chapter 2: But Still Trim In Figure
St. Petersburg, Russia - 1895
After the first four years of marriage with no heir in sight, Sergi had stopped trying. He never came to her rooms anymore. No, she would never speak of the indignity that caused her delay in Novodvinsk. Sergi had gotten one of his servants pregnant over the season and she delivered a fine, fat, healthy son.
Sergi demanded Cecily pass the child off as if she had given birth. Announcements had been sent to all the right people and Sergi had his heir at last. He made Cecily stay at the country house, supposedly recovering from the birth, until the child and its mother could travel. The woman would act as wet nurse, among otherthings, Cecily thought bitterly.
There would be a grand Baptism in only four days, and Cecily was eaten up with bitterness. She could not look upon the child without revulsion. It was as well that proper women had little to do with their offspring and she would not be considered strange for her lack of affection. She would have to watch herself around the Czarina, of course. Alexandra was looking forward to having offspring. She planned to enjoy time with her children and wanted several. The Czarina would expect Cecily to be delighted to have finally produced so fine a son.
The child was to be named Mikhail Ivanovich Yevtochenko with all the titles and honors his supposed birth entitled him to hold. Cecily couldn't wait 'til he was weaned so she could ship that robust, fertile farm girl off to some distant holding before she had a chance to present Sergi with any more 'heirs'!
Perhaps Cecily could turn the boy against his father in time. That would be sweet revenge indeed if the boy doted on her and despised histrue blood kin. It would not be too hard to accomplish. She merely had to be sure Misha was witness to Sergi's treatment of her and saw her understandable tears of pain at the cruelties she had to endure. Yes, she began to envision an entirely new way to fill her hours. She was going to be sucha wonderful mother, she thought as she grinned wickedly.
Meanwhile, in the darkened halls of another kingdom … another dimension, ears perked up and a message was sent to Lord D'Hoffryn of a possible addition in the making to their ranks in the army of vengence. This one would bear watching...but so few lived up to the full promise.
Cecily had thought to take a lover, maybe even turn up an "heir" of her own that Sergi could scarce deny without embarassing himself. That would, however, require her actually letting another pig of a man touch her. No, the new plan was far better.
Sergi would be busy for a while as he was a key investigator of a group calling itself St. Petersburg Union For The Struggle For The Emancipation Of The Working Class. It was a subversive group led by a man named Vladimir Ulyanov and his fiancee Nadezhda Krupskaya and was based on ideas penned by that German troublemaker Karl Marx. Once enough proof could be gathered, the lot of them would be "enjoying" the Siberian winters.
There was far too much social unrest since Russia had entered the industrial age. There had been efforts in the past to overthrow the government and harsh measures had to be taken to prevent social collapse. The first Nicholas had campaigned especially against liberal ideas, in education especially, in an effort to prevent Russia joining Europe in revolution. He had only succeeded in slowing the ever nearing changes. Years of war and a people tiring of near slavery and starvation were too perfect a breeding ground for new philosophies, such as Karl Marx's, to bloom forth. It didn't help to have such a vast gulf in lifestyles between the privileged and the working classes.
Cecily gave little thought to such matters. She scarcely noticed the dissatisfaction of the masses surrounding her, so deep was she in her own sea of unhappiness.
She sorted through her jewel box for just the right set of rubies that would breathe fire to her ice. Her gown had been fashioned from patterns sent to her seamstress from Paris and were completely up-to-date. The materials were rich silks from the Orient and lace tatted in Belgium to her own design. Tonight was the first social engagement for Cecily since she and her new "son" had returned home.
Her maid had exclaimed over and over at how trim Cecily's figure was so soon after giving birth. All the ladies of the court would surely be envious. Cecily heartily hoped so.
Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov was going to be hosting this party and Sergi planned to ask him to honor Misha by agreeing to become the boy's godfather. Cecily saw no reason not to ask the Czarina herself to stand as godmother. Yes, her Daddy would be quite proud indeed.
Esme, her elder sister, had not done nearly as well, having married a young, handsome ship builder and promptly producing one child after another. Why, when Cecily last saw her she was quite plump and shamelessly giddy with marital bliss! Very common, but then she always had been. That was why father had counted on her to be the proper one. She hadn't let him down.
Chapter 3: The Christening
Saint Petersburg - 1895
The morning of the christening arrived bright and surprisingly warm this close to actual winter. Sergi exclaimed it was a sign from God about his son's bright future. He was full of himself this morning. He had an heir anyone could be proud of, probably healthier than most owing to the boy's secret peasant bloodline.
His wife looked stunning, as usual. In claret-colored velvet and fur, she nearly outshone Her Imperial Majesty herself. Cecily had easily convinced the Czarina to be the boy's godmother. But really, how could anyone resist the sweet gurgles and rosy, chubby cheeks of his boy? Certainly Cecily could not; look at how she had begun to positively dote on Misha. Sergi began to wonder if his wife was beginning to develop enough warmth to extend even to himself.
He had tried, God, how he had tried. The bitch just had no idea how to be anything but a dress-up doll. All pretty and feminine on the outside, but hard, unyielding and cold to the touch. She thought his turning from her was caused by her failure to produce a child. No, he was not so backward as that! Russian nights were cold enough without trying to cuddle with ice sculpture. She had frozen him out.
She had hated lovemaking from the start. The first time, he understood. Many women could not enjoy the first time because of the pain. Cecily, however, NEVER came to enjoy it. She didn't even enjoy his companyout of the bed, for that matter.
He tried every tenderness he knew and in time, and in desperation, had even sought out new techniques. He, Sergi Yevtochenko, who had never wanted for a woman since the age of thirteen, had actually PAID for those new skills. He had engaged the services of a highly touted courtesan, French at that. He asked for every trick she could show him to bring pleasure to his English rose.
Before, Cecily had lain stiff as lumber with tightly closed eyes, waiting for him to finish. When Sergi used the new weapons in his arsenal, she had fled from the bed and was sick in the chamber pot! What man could live like that?
He released her from any duty involving physical touch from that night onward and sought his pleasure elsewhere. Other women welcomed his touch, his skills...they always had!
She was a good and dutiful wife in other regards. She managed the households well, handled the servants with authority. She entertained beautifully and was always well turned out...the top of fashion. Always beautiful, his china doll. His friends still envied him. Of course, they did not know how things were with them.
The little dairymaid Galina had been a pleasant armful of passion. Sergi had been alarmed, at first, when she told him he had fathered a child on her. She, of course, knew her place and expected nothing from him. She had been stunned when he said the child would be claimed by him as his own. Galina cried a bit when he went on to explain that it would be passed off as the child of his wife, however. He had kissed away her tears and settled a generous amount of rubles on her to ease the parting. Once the wet nurse was no longer needed, she would go back North to the dairy farm of her family and forget all about the child she had borne him.
It had not taken Sergi long to realize that this babe could solve many problems for him, and Cecily as well. After all, what woman did not want a child? Now she could have one without the need to do the very things she despised in order to have it. And he, well, he would have his heir, his legacy. He merely needed to lay out the plan and remain firm with his wife. The husband always knew what was best, she would see in time.
Today, Sergi could see that he had been right to insist on this course of action. Just look at how Cecily glowed with happiness. See the eyes, bright with joy as she looked at "her" son. Yes, life was looking up. She even had a curious look in her eye as she looked at him! He would have to find out what that could mean.
Ezra Addams was pleased to see his Cecily looking so robust. The news that he was a grandfather again, this time through Cecily, was unexpected. She had not told him she was in an ...um...interesting condition. Cecily explained that they had not wished him to make the long trip until they knew all would be well. It had taken a long time to produce this child. Why, Esme and her husband had a set of twins a mere eleven months after their wedding! Ezra had begun to wonder if Esmerelda had inherited all the fertility in the family, bypassing Cecily totally. Now his new grandson proved his worries unfounded.
Healthy child, looked like his father though. Try as he might, Ezra could see no hint of Cecily, none of the Addams traits, in the babe. Well, no matter, his daughter and son-in-law were pleased and the boy was healthy.
Yes, Cecily had done well. She had married as close to royalty as one could hope. Her husband had vast interests in Russia, England and Europe as well as areas in Asia...quite wealthy indeed. Why, his grandson...Misha, was it?...had Her Imperial Majesty the Czarina of All the Russias for a godmother. His own Queen Victoria's granddaughter was a godmother to one of his grandchildren! How many men of his circle could claim that connection? The godfather, Prince Lvov, was wealthy as Midas and a royal to boot. Yes, Sergi was much better than that lack-wit Edmund and being a Grand Duchess was much better for his Cecily than a mere Countess.
Ezra was a bit surprised to see the attention Cecily lavished on little Michael, as he chose to call his grandson. She had always seemed a trifle chilly to her father. Her marriage and this climate must agree with her, he thought. She was almost unseemly in her obvious affection for the child! He would have to speak to her about this not-so-ladylike behavior.
He would also have to remind his daughter that she must not put aside conventions by actually acting as nurse to her own child. Why, the laughter would be heard as far away as London! Servants always gossiped and such a tale of unnatural behavior in a Lady would surely spread beyond the servants' quarters. At least the child's godmother seemed to approve of Cecily's unusual doting, so perhaps he had no cause for alarm. After all, Queen Victoria's granddaughter would not approve any inappropriate behavior in one of her ladies in waiting. Good, he really had not wanted to have THAT talk with his daughter.
There were times when he missed the girls' mother, noticed that she had passed from his life. The night before Cecily wed had been the last occasion he had that feeling thrust upon him. He had to prepare the girl in some way for her wifely duties. His own mother had insisted that he be the good parent and do so, refusing to do it herself, woman to woman. He'd kept it simple, telling Cecily only to lie still, not shift about too much, and let her husband have his way, he would know what to do. Not to worry, it would be over before she knew it. He had been as red-faced as any drunken Irishman, he was sure, but a father had his responsibilities!
Today Cecily was radiant. She had never looked better and hadn't been so excited about her future in years. Now that she had determined a course of action, a way of paying back Sergi for his...his...his, well, for being Sergi, she was practically leaping from the bed each morning in eager anticipation.
At first, The baby had been frightened of her, this strange, new adult invading his space. The child had come around in time and was now, only three days since her plan commenced, actually crying when removed from her presence! Males must begin to cling to females from the very start, she thought. Perhaps she would work on making a mamma's boy of him. Sergi would hate that!
The Czarina had confided in Cecily that she too was to finally be a mother. This sorority of motherhood strengthened Cecily's position at court. There seemed to be only positives happening now that she had started to lay the groundwork for her grand revenge.
She looked over at her father, who had traveled all the way from London for this day. There had to be some way of making HIM pay as well! He had practically sold her at market as you would a horse. All those years of withholding love and praise unless she performed exactly to his desires. He'd made his wishes clear and had still been stinting in his affections even though Cecily had not only fulfilled his desires, but surpassed them. And they compared HER to ice! Nothing she did was ever enough for any of them!
Esmerelda had been plain-looking and Daddy's hopes were not that high for her. Also, Esme didn't seem to care as much about Daddy's approval. Since she rarely got it, she rarely sought it. Cecily craved it like food or air. She felt starved and breathless most of her life. She was OWED!
HE should know, for once, what it felt like. To want to feel secure and loved, only to be met with more expectations and demands. He had made her feel so worthless when Edmund eloped with that actress.
She had spent five years trying to regain his favor, begging for his approval and love. Now, five years beyond that, he still looked at her with some small disapproving glint in his eye. What had she done wrong now? What was she lacking?
What more did she have to do to please her father at last? She had married a man HE chose, presented a grandchild to him at great personal cost, tolerated life in a barely civilized country where even those on the throne spoke English poorly. She endured a cold climate and lack of affection from all the males in her life. Did this please Daddy? NO, nothing she did seemed to please him fully. She was always justthisshort of worthy to him. He REALLY should know how that felt!
Well, if her vengence on Sergi worked as well as it seemed it might, she might be able to come up with a suitable revenge on Daddy, too.
"How happy dear Cecily is today,", remarked the Czarina. "See the bright smile she just lavished on her husband and father!"
Meanwhile, in Arashmaharr, another update was rushed to D'Hoffryn, the patron of unhappy women. This transplanted English girl was showing very real potential. She KNEW well what she was entertaining yet embraced it fully! Not for her was some random, emotional, spontaneous reaction to hurt pride! NOOO, she was enjoying, savoring, planning. Perhaps, in time, she should be sent some encouragement…maybe an advisor.