September 21, 2014

In Which Dea Is of More Use

March 14, 1187

Not once in her life had Dea ever been her mother's designated comforter after a funeral.

That had always been Uncle Sparron's job.

Dea had no idea how to go about it. There were many things she did well, but social interaction was not one of them--particularly at sensitive times. And while she had been close with her mother in her younger years, there was no point in pretending the relationship hadn't strained since Holden's birth; hell, this may have been the first time they'd been alone since her brother had entered the world, and only because Aunt Camaline had taken it upon herself to keep him occupied, a colossal sacrifice given her usual opinion of children who weren't Prior. Gennie would have been the better choice, but she'd taken it upon herself to stick by Prior's side, and Dea had to admit that he had the most need of a shoulder to cry on out of all of them.

But Dea missed Uncle Sparron too. No one else quite understood her like he had--and even after Prior had been born, he'd never failed to make time for her and her mother and siblings.

But however much she missed him, surely--she couldn't deny it--her mother had to have missed him that much more. And she'd been alone in his old room for nearly an hour now, and Dea had debated remedying that for upward of twenty minutes. When her father had tried to make a messenger of her, she knew she couldn't put it off much longer. "Hello, Mother."

"Hello, Dea." Her mother picked at the laces of her oh-too-restrictive black bodice. "People will say what they want about your uncle, but he didn't have a cruel bone in his whole body. The good hearts of this world don't get nearly enough time." She'd probably spent the past few days wondering why her brother was gone at thirty while her husband was alive and well. Awful thought it was, Dea did not think she would have missed her father much either. Even with Holden, he'd never forgiven her for not being a boy--and she'd never forgiven him for not thinking her good enough.

"No. I suppose they don't."

"When you were born, your father became unbearable." She'd never been told that, but she'd always known it. "Your uncle and I used to make forts out of cushions and blankets, back when we were children. When you were a baby, he came to the castle one day when Ietrin was out and we did just that. We sat there for hours, just you and me and him. You cried when your father got back and made him leave."

"I wish I remembered that." Though, if she thought about it, she recalled flashes of later forts. A laugh in one image of her and Gennie sounded much like Uncle Sparron's.

No one ever heard that laugh much. No one ever would again.

"Father said he wanted to head back to the castle." Dea pressed the tips of her forefingers together, unsure if she'd given the right response. Her gut said she did, but who knew if her mother would agree. "I told him that no one was stopping him."

Her mother sniffed. "No one is."

"He's arguing with Grandfather now about the rest of us going back."

"That is the last thing your grandfather needs."

And her obtuse father would never figure that out on his own. "Shall I go and help get rid of him?" At the moment, she thought she might be of more use to her mother at her grandfather's side.

"That would be for the best."

"Yes, Mother."

Dea made her way back to the door and tugged at the handle, the hallway beyond empty in front of her.

"Dea, wait."

She turned her head, and not without blinking first. "Yes?"

"Your uncle thought that you should be queen." Her mother slouch down toward the pillow, her crown slipping off her head and falling to the side. If she noticed, she didn't care. "I want you to know that I think he was right."