July 24, 2014

In Which Gennie Is Warned

September 19, 1186


It was Friday, and Gennie's father had allowed her mother to take her and her siblings to spend the weekend at her grandfather's castle in Tetran. Her mother and brother hadn't arrived yet, but Gennie and Dea had headed over straight from school with their uncles and cousins. Dea had holed herself up in the library for her usual extra hour of study, and Farilon had left to call on a 'lady friend'. Gennie supposed she'd join Oswald and Prior and Holladrin in the courtyard for some games, but she wanted to greet her grandfather first.

Her grandfather wasn't in his study. "Hello, Uncle Sparron."

Uncle Sparron didn't move. His eyes were open, so he must have seen her... but he didn't acknowledge her. This had happened before--like he didn't think she really existed.

Her mother had told her and Dea that Uncle Sparron sometimes saw or heard things that weren't really there, and sometimes it took him a while to tell what was real and what wasn't. In such cases, her mother had said it was fine to just leave him be, that he'd improve later. But Grandma Renata said that, if one had to talk to Sparron, she found it best to start by talking about something boring--something he was unlikely to dwell on in his head. Gennie, once she greeted someone, found she had to talk to them. "Uncle Sparron, it's windy out."

"Hmm?" Weather usually did the trick. But Gennie suspected that Uncle Sparron was onto that. Dea had a knack for finding more novel ways of drawing Uncle Sparron out, but that might have just been Dea. Those two just got each other, sort of how Gennie got... well, nobody in particular. But then again, Gennie got along with most people well enough, while Dea and Uncle Sparron were both more particular in terms of company, so maybe they needed each other more than she needed any one person.

"Oh, sorry, Gennie."

"It's fine." Was it? She guessed it was. Maybe. "Are you all right?"

"Mmm... what is 'all right', really?"

"When things are good?" Gennie took a seat on the couch, right next to her uncle. Somehow, she didn't think it right to leave him alone just yet. "I think?"

"When things are good." He chuckled--not sincerely. Any louder and that laugh would have been a wail. "Oh, Gennie. Things are never good for very long."

"They're not?"

"No. And I'm sorry I had to tell you that, but you would have learned eventually--and it would have been cruel not to warn you. Regardless, I'm sorry." He'd said it twice. That usually meant a well-intentioned lie. "Have you seen Prior?"

She nodded. "He's in the courtyard with Oswald and Holladrin."

"Could you fetch him for me?"

Gennie frowned. There was a distinct discomfort in this conversation that she would not miss, but it was not like Uncle Sparron to interrupt playtime. Or was it? Playtime was a long stretch of good. "Why?"

"I just need to see him right now." It was not the answer Gennie craved, but it was the one she got. The rush of his words gave no point to seeking any more. "I hope you never know this feeling."