Chapter Seven

As the door clicked shut, Bellamy muttered, "I don't trust her."

Alianor slapped him lightly and protested, "Bellamy, will you at least give her the benefit of the doubt? She's offering us a home, Bellamy. A home!" She looked up at her husband, trying to make him see reason. What use was there in trying to argue that Isabella was evil? There had to be something else there. She was offering them mercy!

Bellamy shot back, "Damn it, Alianor! Why defend her? Without her, we wouldn't be in such dire need of a home! And you saw what she did to that other man. Why should we think she won't do the same to us?"

"Listen to yourself! She's taken us in as an act of mercy. At least pretend to be grateful! If she wanted to hurt us, she would have already. Did you ever think of that?" At that point Bellamy decided to just give up. There would be no arguing with Alianor. She hissed, "All she wants in return for her kindness is gratitude. Do you think you can manage that?" Bellamy nodded, mostly to appease his wife, who chided, "And you could have been a bit less eager to put an end to the conversation."

Sitting down, he huffed, "Because, all of a sudden, she's an Angel of Mercy! Are you so quick to forget that she's the reason everyone's struggling in the first place?"

Alianor sat beside him and asked gently, "How do you know? How can you be certain that there wasn't someone before her who did all this? She was in power for so long that no one really knows what happened before hand." She put an arm around Bellamy in an effort to soothe him and understand why he was so reluctant to simply accept their good fortune and be grateful for it.

He growled, "Well, even if she didn't cause it she could have fixed it. And she's always been cruel, Alianor. Always. Is she not infamous for her harsh punishments? Or for enslaving humans? Can you even begin to imagine how many she's killed?"

"Bellamy, just forget about it. Forget about all of it. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that, for whatever reason, she's decided to show mercy now. She's given us more than we could ever have wanted and she's offered to let us stay with her for as long as we like. Fortune is smiling on us, Bellamy. Let's not argue with it or question it."

Grudgingly, Bellamy sighed, "Very well."

With that matter out of the way, the couple were quite surprised to realize that they had absolutely nothing to do. They had a roof over their heads, a fire in the hearth, and their stomachs were full. There was absolutely no work that needed to be done. What a wonderful luxury it was, to be able to sit and be idle. Leisure was, outside the fortress, only a dream.

Alianor let out a cry of delight, sprawling out on the bed, her eyes half-closed. She would be content to just lie there, perhaps dozing off every now and again, for hours. How nice it was to be able to indulge in a few moments of relaxation, especially when they were provided with so many pieces of nice, soft furniture to enjoy.

Even Bellamy, despite his inclination to distrust the situation, found it enjoyable. He stretched lazily, leaning back and resting his feet on a large, leather hassock. The combination of the comfortable chair and the warmth of the fire lulled him into a lethargic complacency that was quite pleasant. He muttered drowsily, "This is nice…"

Alianor's lips curled in a triumphant smirk and she shot Bellamy her best "I told you so!" look. She didn't care what people said. No one who was offering them such a wonderfully easy way of life could be completely bad. Isabella obviously had some goodness in her. Fortunately, it had decided to manifest itself when Bellamy and Alianor had been near by and in desperate need of help.

As Bellamy reveled in the absolutely sinful comfort of the room, he couldn't help but be grateful that Isabella had given them so much. Perhaps, to her, it wouldn't seem like very much. After all, she had so many nice things that the contents of that one room would hardly be missed. But, really, she had given them the world. Perhaps he had been unreasonable… Perhaps…

Yet, for some odd reason, Bellamy still couldn't force himself to trust their benefactor. She had been kind enough in the past day or so, but it didn't undo a lifetime of evil. Right? And a day or so of happiness didn't make up for a lifetime of misery. Or could it? Was it really possible for someone to atone for causing so much suffering? And was it possible for a victim to satiate himself on luxuries and make up for years of wanting and lacking even the most basic necessities? Bellamy groaned, finding such questions too deep and ponderous for him to bother with. Besides, the answer didn't really matter. It wouldn't erase the fact that he was inclined to be a bit leery of Isabella. Not even Alianor's constant rebuttals could hope to change that.

Perhaps Alianor could be right. But that remained to be seen. The only things that could possibly change his mind were time and Isabella herself. Over time, she would have to earn his trust just like everyone else.