This follows on from Not Too Early To Start.
“You should eat more,” commented Mirren critically, “Have some more yam and beans, and a bit more meat too.” She picked up the serving spoon and held her hand out for Rensa’s plate.
“No thank you,” said Rensa defensively, “I’ve already had my share and there’s still fruit to come.”
“You’re underweight,” said Mirren firmly, “We need to put some flesh back on those bones and fill out those curves. Aside from your own health, you can’t produce those Imperial babies that are part of the Empress’ duties if you’re too thin to be fertile.” That was a low blow, Mirren told herself, ‘duty’ was definitely one of Rensa’s triggers. The other one was ‘extravagance’ but that was of no use at the moment and frankly Mirren hoped it was never going to be.
“But I’ve already had a sedentary ration today,” Rensa protested, “Any more than the fruit and I’ll be into discretionary rations and I’m trying to save those for the wedding,” she blushed, “As everyone is so determined to make a fuss. Besides I’m not walking twenty stadia every day any more, so the weight should go back on.”
“You should be on a convalescent ration,” retorted Mirren, “And you need to keep up some exercise to maintain your muscle tone.”
“Of course,” agreed Rensa, “But half an hour’s walking a day should be enough for that.”
“I think you should take up one of the mild exercise based hobbies as well,” said Mirren, as she put the serving spoon back done again, “Well one of the ones people who don’t do them think are mild exercise. Something that involves your trunk muscles as well as your limbs and promotes flexibility. You’ll be amazed how useful flexibility can be.” When she smiled, Mirren had dimples. “I always manage to surprise Bannoc.” More dimples.
“Bannoc!?” Rensa was surprised.
“Yes, he’s lovely in bed,” Mirren’s dimples disappeared, “Or at least he was before he dropped about fifteen years in mental age and started thinking like a teenager who believes everything they don’t like is someone else’s fault. I’ve barely been able to get the time of day out of him for the last few months.”
Not that much later, with Rensa already tucked up in her bed and fast asleep, Mirren went to make her regular evening report to her cousin Yannic. As Emperor he was interested of course, but it was to Yannic that she spoke. “I need you to write me out a script allowing her a convalescent ration,” she said baldly as she sat down opposite him at the table with reports and papers spread across it, “Other wise she simply won’t eat more.”
“Any other progress?” He held a mug in his hands and the betrothal ring on his left hand caught the light.
“Her feet have gotten sufficiently used to sandals and slippers that I can take her fabric shopping tomorrow. She has no idea of what colours suit her,” Mirren sounded annoyed, “Apparently if you go around veiled so people can’t see your face, then the colour of your clothes doesn’t matter. She’s used to just getting whatever bolt of cloth they were cutting on the day. I wish I could work out whose benefit this place was being run for.”
“I’m getting some ideas on that,” Yannoc put down his mug and stretched, “Any good news?”
“She expressed a desire to at least see a particular fabric that might be suitable for her wedding dress. Apparently it comes from some backwoods region in the north eastern provinces that her work section was interested in.” Mirren looked at her cousin curiously, “Did they really work?”
“Twelve hours a day, six days a week apparently.” Yannic frowned, “As I said, I’m getting some ideas about some of what was going on here.”