The water sloshed over the bucket’s rim with every heavy step you took up the stairs. You didn’t often venture around the Castle, usually sticking to the kitchens and the rooms you kept tidy, but you were a good cleaner, and the head housemaid needed you to do a good thorough cleaning of the main hall.
You dusted off the two knights by the fireplace and picked off beads of hardened wax from the candles that had dripped over the ornate wood of the winding staircase.
A trusty broom in your hand, you swept the tiled floor of dirt and muck, trying to overlook the obvious blood stains that you would need to scrub hard at to get off the surface.
You paused a moment, listening for any buzzing of bugs or heavy footsteps. The staff was instructed to stay quiet, to not bother the ladies of the Castle, and often you just slipped in and out, doing your duty and getting out of their way as fast as possible.
But you had heard they were out today, or at least nowhere near you. The Castle was extensive anyway, you figured you'd hear them if any of the four women did approach.
So you began to hum as you worked, methodically sweeping until the white tiles began to shine a little brighter.
The rug would need a proper vacuum later, but that wasn’t your duty this time. You wiped down the coffee table and tidied the chairs, the dust clearing away as you hummed and sang softly under your breath.
When all the loose dirt was removed you hiked up your skirt to bunch around your knees so the cold floor wasn’t as tough on you, and began scrubbing with a soaped-up brush.
The song got a little louder as you scooted around the hall, cleaning as you went. You added words as you polished the stairs, and were completely oblivious to the matriarch standing, hidden in the shadows of the balcony above, listening to your bewitching voice.
Your voice wasn’t necessarily the best, but you could hold a tune. Often when you were working nearby, Alcina would stop to take a break from work and just listen to your singing, whether or not she knew the melody.
It made her smile as you hummed and worked, not to mention that you were in fact one of the better staff they had around here, obedient and diligent. She wanted to keep you around, and so Alcina had told her daughters not to ever take you down for blood-draining in the dungeons, which made them amused, but she simply ignored their wide eyes and maniacal grins.
At least they left you alone. And right now, they were hunting on the castle grounds somewhere, and if she remembered rightly, you were also the only maid up here on this floor right now.
Something stirred deep inside Alcina and she was tempted to throw you over her shoulder, take you up to her room and lock the door until you were exhausted by her efforts.
But instead, she just wanted you nearer this time. The seduction would have to wait. You were scrubbing on the lower stairs, and she drifted down, silently. So enthralled by the mindless, rhythmic cleaning of your job and your focus on your song, you didn’t notice the Lady until the hem of a creamy dress appeared in your vision.
You shrieked and nearly fell back off the stairs at the sight of her. You stood and righted your skirts, bowing your head, the brush clutched in your head as you trembled with this sudden shock.
“G’evening, m-my lady,” you said, stepping to the side so she could get down the rest of the stairs. But she didn’t. Instead, her gloved fingers tapped the railing, and you felt her golden eyes pierce through you before sweeping along the hall, inspecting your work from where she stood.
“Good evening,” she said, her rich voice rumbling through your body, “I see you’ve done a fine job of cleaning this hall.”
“Thank you, Mistress,” you said, eyes still on the floor. Did she hear you singing? You desperately hoped not.
“I need you upstairs. Bring your bucket,” she said, before turning without another word.
You were frozen to the floor for a moment, looking up as her tall, intimidating figure turned and walked back up the stairs.
“Come along, pet,” she hummed when she noticed you weren’t following immediately. That seemed to snap you back and you hurried to bring your trusty bucket. You stayed a respectful distance behind her, shuffling quietly and trying your best to not look up at her curvaceous figure walking ahead of you. Your cheeks flamed at the thought.
You entered one of the studies that seemed to be hardly ever used, and the first thing you noticed was the smell of old blood. It was explained, obviously, by the stains of blood on the floor and rugs.
“My daughters can get a bit.. wild sometimes,” Alcina said, “do what you can to clean here. I’l just be going through some documents.”
“Of course, my lady,” you said. She walked towards the desk at the other end of the room, and you set about scrubbing down whatever surface your brush could handle. You wondered why she had to work in here as you cleaned, it was much more stressing to have her so near, scrutinizing your work.
“And hum that song you were singing down below, little songbird,” Alcina added without looking over at you. You blushed, songbird?
You were now losing focus on the cleaning at hand because you tried to keep the tremble out of your song as you tried to sound as good as possible for her, hoping you didn’t sound too terrible.
“Don’t be shy, dear,” Alcina said, “I enjoy hearing you sing.”
Your fingers shook as you gripped the brush again, this time willing yourself to do as she said, scrubbing and singing and humming and scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. She didn’t look over at you the entire time you worked, for which you were eternally thankful.
A loud cackle and a call exclaiming ‘Mother!’ announced the three daughters had returned, probably with some poor, thrashing creature in their clutches that they had snatched from the nearby forestry.
Alcina rose from her spot and left the room, and your racing heartbeat had a moment to calm down. She had said nothing else about your singing, and didn’t indicate you had any other duties left to do after you cleaned what you could.
When Alcina came back to the study, both the smell of old blood and the sound of your voice were gone.