Lost In Her Bed
By Zath Chauvert
"I'm ready whenever you are, darling," Marguerite called over her shoulder to her husband. There was no response. "Percy?"
Sir Percy Blakeney, Baronet stood next to the enormous bed, staring at his partially dressed wife spread out on her stomach before him and trying to figure out how on earth he was supposed to accomplish the task he felt it was his duty to perform. Why couldn't all responsibilities of marriage be simple like hiding his dual identity from the world or like sneaking into France to rescue innocents from the guillotine? It was rapidly dawning on him that this time he had gotten himself into a situation completely out of his range of experience, let alone expertise.
"Percy," Marguerite repeated her husband's name with a bit of a sigh as she levered herself up onto one elbow so she could turn far enough to see his face. "You don't have to if you don't think you're ready. I can always-"
"Nonsense, m'dear," Percy interrupted with far more bravado than he felt, gently pressing her back down onto the bed with one long, almost feminine, hand. "I'm perfectly ready. I just... that is... I, uh...." He cast about desperately for some way to buy a little time for himself so he could have a moment to think things through. "I just thought that I should remove my boots before we begin! Yes, that's it!"
"Yes, that's probably advisable given the circumstances."
Percy gratefully sank down to sit on the edge of the bed. He had his back to Marguerite, but he kept stealing furtive glances over his shoulder at her. When he saw her beginning to turn around again, he quickly bent over and pretended to be struggling with his boot.
"What could possibly be taking you so long, Percy?"
"The demmed thing is stuck 'tis all," Percy lied rather sheepishly. "You know how this new style with the narrow ankles can be. I think that tomorrow I shall have to see about taking steps to reverse this particularly horrible trend in fashion. Oh, there it goes!" He reluctantly slipped off the offending footwear without the least bit of actual trouble. Once more he stood and surveyed his wife. "Now, where were we?"
"You were going t-"
"Oh, yes! Now I remember. Don't worry, Margot darling. You're in the hands of an expert!"
She smiled. "I'm sure that your role as the dashing Scarlet Pimpernel has given you infinite practice doing this, being so popular with the ladies and all."
"La! But of course, m'dear." Percy lowered himself into what he hoped was the proper position, but it didn't seem quite right. He tried again, but it still felt wrong.
Marguerite, sensing his confusion but not wanting to hurt his pride, tried to steer things toward their desired conclusion. "You know, dear, perhaps we should try this on the floor, where it there's more room to maneuver."
"The floor? But that's, that's-"
"Or, better yet, we could both stand, and I could hang on to the bedpost."
"Standing? The bedpost? Really, Marguerite, I do know the proper procedure, and it involves you on a bed! My father told me that he and my mother did it like this for their entire marriage. I see no reason to deviate from that!"
Marguerite sighed in frustration. She wanted to tell him that his father had been thoroughly old-fashioned and his mother had been even more thoroughly insane, but she knew that doing so would not help matters at all. Instead, she merely grumbled, "Fine, we'll use the bed."
Percy tried to do his husbandly duty, but after several minutes of false starts and fumbling Marguerite began to grow impatient. Finally, she declared "Percy, there's no shame in admitting that you have no idea what you're doing. Why don't I call up one of the servants and we can demonstrate for you how it should be done?"
"No servants! I can do this without demonstrations with the servants!"
"I know the general course of action." Marguerite rolled her eyes, but he continued, "it's just a matter of... um... perfecting my technique."
"Well, may I assist you with your technique? I would like to finish with time to have my hair properly styled before tonight's ball."
"I suppose that's acceptable."
"Alright then, let's begin." She knelt on the bed and groped behind her, finally encountering one of her husband's hands. "Why Percy, you're in a cold sweat! Are you really that nervous?"
"Well, I, er...."
"You shouldn't worry. I can't even begin to count how many times I've had to do this, and it's not that bad. Really! Now you take this hand and put it here." Marguerite expertly maneuvered Percy's unresisting arm into its proper position without even a glance behind her. "And the other hand goes-"
"Not quite," a pause, then, "there, now you have it. Do you see what you're supposed to do now?"
"I believe so," he answered. "Like this?"
"No, it doesn't go in there."
"You can't even see what I'm doing!" Percy protested.
"Trust me. I know what you're doing, and that's not where you are supposed to put it. Use the next hole."
"Oh! Now I see how it's supposed to go." He was silent as he fumbled for a minute or so. "Are you ready, darling?"
"Okay." They both grunted a little with the effort. Then, there was a moment of silence.
"Just once isn't enough. You're going to have to do it several more times."
"Yes, and do it a little harder this time."
"Are you certain?"
"Absolutely. Go on. I'm not made of porcelain; I won't break"
"If you insist...." Another grunt.
"Again!" Another grunt, then "Again!" Grunt. "Again, harder!" Grunt. "Really, Percy, you must do it harder than that!" Grunt. "Ow!"
Percy stopped immediately and leaned over his wife, his face and hands gentle with concern. "Are you alright, Marguerite? I didn't mean to hurt you! I would never-"
"I'm fine," she smiled up at him. "Don't worry. It's supposed to be like this. I think a few more times should be sufficient."
"I wouldn't want to-"
"You wouldn't want me to have to call in a servant to finish what you started, would you?"
"Certainly not!" Percy exclaimed in a serious tone but with a smile on his face. He gave a loud theatrical sigh to imply long suffering then said, "I suppose we should get this over with...." Once again, he bent to his task.
By the time Sir Percy finished, both he and Marguerite were rather flushed from the activity. He detached himself from his beloved and perched on the side of the bed, returning his boots to his feet. Marguerite rolled to the other side, stood with only a bit of difficulty, and walked around the bed to face her husband.
"And that, dearest Percy," she said as she leaned forward to give him a light kiss on the cheek, "is how you help your wife into her corset."