December 21, 2014

In Which Kaldar Sees the Better Eyes

September 5, 1188

The princess--Kaldar's sister--stiffened in her seat. So early in the morning, she couldn't have been expecting company. Kaldar certainly hadn't been. He was only here because he'd woken at the crack of dawn and hadn't managed to find sleep again, so he'd thought he'd make use of an empty school library and review some of the trickier mathematics concepts.

Dea complicated that. It was a big enough library that the only two people there wouldn't have to sit together, but small enough that not doing so would constitute something of an aggression. He had nothing against Dea personally, and he didn't thing she held anything against him either, but...

Well, they were half-siblings from different mothers, and a mere four months apart in age. Mathematics may not have been Kaldar's strongest subject, but he knew that that was an age difference with some heavy implications.

"Sorry, I... didn't think anyone else would be in here."

"It's fine." Dea took it upon herself to settle the seating arrangement and nudged the chair beside her. "You can sit down if you want."

Kaldar swallowed. Their relationship was the cool distance of people who neither knew each other well nor cared to, and he'd assumed that things would stay that way. What could a princess want with her bastard half-brother, after all?

Probably just not to make the morning any worse than it had to be. "So... that's a pretty big book."

"Inheritance law. My father has a copy, but he won't let me look at any of his legal texts. He says a woman couldn't possibly comprehend their content." Dea rolled her eyes. "Never mind that the university's Head of Political Science is a woman."

It had been a damn long time since Kaldar had seen his father, but nothing about that surprised him based on what little he could get out of his mother. But Dea likely didn't want to talk about that. "What are you looking up?"

"Well... my mother's been worrying about not having a spare prince, but it seems my father can't be bothered to make one. Holden seems to be in good health, but I thought I'd look into things--just in case my mother knows something I don't."

"Oh?"

"And it looks like I need to look at my father's will, or my grandfather's. In the event of a lack of sons or sons of an heir, a ruler can under Dovian law choose to pass his titles and lands along to either his daughters or his brothers--or, in a grandfather's case, to his subsequent sons over his granddaughters. Most choose their daughters, but, well..." She sighed. It hadn't occurred to Kaldar that a princess--his sister--ever sighed. "My grandfather saw daughters as more of a luxury than a legacy, and my father doesn't care for us much at all. Well, for Gennie and I, anyway. Perhaps he likes Ella more."

"Not from what I can tell. It's been a few years since he remembered her birthday."

"Really?" She frowned. Why was he surprised that she frowned? She seemed nice enough. Why had he expected she'd take pleasure in that? "I thought you two were his preferred family."

"Not since he and mother had their falling out. He called on me a few times, but he's more or less forgotten about me since he got a legitimate son."

"You can't be serious."

"I've learned to live with it. My stepfather's been great, at least."

"Yes, but still. Bastards or not, our father has an obligation to you and Ella."

"He has an obligation to you too, but you don't seem satisfied with him."

"Because we're his duty. I thought you were the family he actually cared about. He doesn't even care about Holden beyond having an heir."

"Some people are just heartless, I guess." And knowing that, he was probably better off without his father. "At least I have a caring stepfather in his place. You and Gennie and Holden are the ones stuck putting up with him."

"Still." She shut her eyes--his own eyes, their father's eyes. No, not their father's. Better, brighter, kinder.

"It's not right that the two of you get nothing from him."

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