Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine.
"Mistress of the Manor"
A night for parties and costume balls and a night for masks and pretending. I'm familiar with all of these.
Walking into the master suite, I smile amusedly when I see the costume waiting in the hands of my personal maid. My husband is a man with a great sense of irony and, seeing the gown of a Fairytale Princess awaiting me, I am reminded of that fact. The attendants waiting to help me dress have no understanding of my amusement, not really, they believe it's because of the fact I am a modern day princess, living in a manor house with a kinglike husband at my side with all the world holding me up as the epitome of elegance and beauty.
"A modern day Princess Grace," the papers call me.
I laugh softly at the thought and out of the corner of my eye, I see the maid smile as well.
If they only knew. But none of them know.
All my life I've been cast as the fairytale princess and that has not changed. Now they call me the `Mistress of the Manor' and see me as the gracious host, beautiful wife, and society diva. I am all of those things, I know, but there are layers to my existence that none of them can ever understand.
I may be Mistress of the Manor, but no longer am I the little girl wearing that fairy princess costume, granting wishes. My life is many things, but a fairytale is not one of them and the true irony is? None of them will ever know that.
They look at me now and they see Mrs. Lana Wayne, wife of billionaire industrialist, society darling, and half of the marriage that is wildly being proclaimed the new American royalty. They see a woman who is active in many charities, attends dozens of parties a year on her husband's arm, dripping in expensive jewelry and wearing the one-of-a-kind creation of whichever designer won the advertising blitz to get my attention. They see a woman living the life that is every woman's dream; wife to a handsome billionaire who worships the ground she walks on.
If they only knew...
Oh Bruce does love me. More than anything. I know that and I revel in it, but our life is not a dream. Not all the time. Half the time it is the opposite. It's a nightmare.
You see, I may be Mrs. Bruce Wayne, but technically, I am also Mrs. Batman. On one hand, I spend some nights dancing, laughing, drinking wildly expensive champagne, but on the other? On the other hand, I spend almost as many nights sitting in the kitchen with Alfred, drinking tea, and praying my husband will come home alive. That this won't be the night his luck runs out and he's killed.
"Mrs. Wayne?" The hairdresser, soon to be the latest sensation in New York, catches my attention and I pull myself from my reverie.
He holds up a mirror, allowing me a fantastic view of the masterpiece that he's made of my hair.
I smile and nod. "Beautiful, thank you."
He beams, my praise and endorsement carries much weight in his world and I suspect that, like the last one, he'll be catapulted into a world where celebrities ring his phone off the hook clamoring he give them the `Lana Wayne Look' and to name his price.
Who would have thought? I have a `look'.
The makeup artists move in to begin work on my face and again I drift away into my own thoughts, the only way I can stand having so many people so close for so long. I enjoy pampering as much as the next girl but there is only so much I can take and preparing for these parties tends to take me to that limit fairly quickly.
I've learned many techniques over the years to deal with the downsides of this life, the one I haven't quite mastered yet, is avoiding the sleepless nights when Bruce is `at work'.
The makeup artist timidly asks me to close my eyes so she can begin work on them and I obey the request with a soft smile. Imagine that, someone afraid to speak to me. I suppose that fear is justified in a way, if I am displeased and it gets back to her employers even through a third party, her job is done for. Just the same, I find that funny.
Someone afraid of little Lana Lang, it's so funny as to be absurd. One thing no one ever was, in Smallville, was afraid of me. The predominant emotion I seemed to generate in my hometown is that of pity or some twisted sort of deification. Put up on a pedestal for everyone to admire and adore.
Pretty much what happens to me now as Lana Wayne. At least, now, I'm spared the pity. Being the wife of Bruce Wayne certainly has its advantages, one of which being a quiet word to the press in the city ensures that few reporters dare intrude into my past tragedies. They cannot not risk tempting the anger of my husband. Bruce works very hard to keep his public persona as far as he possibly can from the dark and dangerous aura that Batman exudes but one thing he does not hide is his protectiveness of me. They can paint me as the perfect socialite wife all they want but they dare not poke their journalistic noses into any part of my life that he has deemed private, he very well may have them cut off if they do.
Ironically enough, that protective streak has only served to enhance the public's view of me as the Lady of Wayne Manor. Sometimes I feel as if they think that the Manor is stuck in the Renaissance and I prance about the house in a massive gown, serving tea, entertaining guests and posing for Da Vinci in my spare time while my beloved Prince conquers a few countries and reinvents the wheel.
They may not go that far with it, but I'm still the fairytale princess, just reborn in a new guise.
The makeup artist steps back and smiles at me. "Finished."
Another mirror is held before me and I dispense more glowing compliments to another ecstatic person before dismissing them all. Time to get dressed.
My maid, hand chosen for me by Alfred upon my marriage to Bruce, steps forward with an empathetic smile. Noreen knows how much I detest the process to get ready for a party and they're bad enough when it's just a regular party, but a costume ball? That's even worse. Much more preparation. "Another night." I sigh.
"Another dress." She answers with a grin and I move behind the screen, sliding out of my dress and underwear and then into the underclothing that comes with the gown.
When I walk out from behind the screen, I find Noreen waiting with the gown and I step into it. It laces up in the back and I turn to let her at them. She takes longer than usual and when hands finally do grasp the laces, they are distinctly masculine. The cold of a ring, a wedding ring, brushes against my back and I shiver.
"Noreen," I tease. "You've changed."
My hair has been done in an up-sweep that leaves my neck bare and I see dark hair out of the corner of my eye as Bruce leans in to nip at my earlobe. "You look beautiful." He murmurs into my ear, voice low and husky. It reminds me of how he sounds when he's in `the suit' but I resolutely push the comparison from my mind.
"Thank you." Turning, I look up at him with my amused smile back in place. "Fairy tale princess?"
He chuckles, bringing my hand up to his lips, kissing the palm. "To hear Nell talk, you qualify."
Ah yes, Nell. Bless her heart. She, like everyone else, thinks I live the perfect, storybook life. In some ways, she, like everyone else, couldn't be more wrong but, looking up into the loving gaze of my husband, on the other hand, she couldn't be more right.
Bruce has asked me to share a fantastically heavy burden with him, asked me to live in the shadow of a Bat and lie to everyone I know, but it's a life I like. A life I love. He risks his life every night, pushes himself, punishes himself, but I know, at the end of it, he'll do everything in his power to come home alive . . . to me.
In his eyes, I'm not a fairytale princess, and he isn't a prince, but in mine, he is a knight, the Dark Knight, and I am his Lady.
Mistress of the Manor.
For once, it's a persona I want to assume.
I live a lie to protect my husband, I let people see me as a fairytale princess, believe me to be the epitome of what high society has to offer, I let them cast me in a role like the one I played for so many years in Smallville. But now, now I have a reason to play that role and I'll play it so well, I'll out act any starlet Hollywood has to offer.
Bruce sees the look in my eyes but, typically, he doesn't question it. Instead, he kisses me once more then turns me around once more, working on lacing me up. We both have our roles in this grand melodrama we call our life and we'll act our hearts out. His life, and by extension mine, quite literally depends on it.
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