May 21, 2017

In Which Riona Pulls the String

March 14, 1204

"Please, Holladrin. You've escaped notice so far because everyone else is wrapped up in their own family dramas, but a mother never misses the way her daughter looks at a man--or the way a man looks at her daughter. I said nothing before because there was no need. With your Aunt Danthia dead, that has changed."

Her daughter's deer-to-the-bow look gave Riona no pleasure, but the balance of honesty and discretion was one of few maternal assets she could pride herself on. She'd never been the warmest of people, finding it easier to show affection by pulling strings in the background to make life easier for her children than by cuddling or hours of inane play, and there were days when there was guilt over it. But, Riona Sadiel didn't lie to her children, even if she sometimes had to omit the truth or hide behind cryptic wording. And Riona Sadiel let her adult children make their own decisions, and didn't pry.

Holladrin didn't need to be protected anyway, not from men. Anxious as she might have been at the moment, a clever, pretty girl from a powerful family didn't get to be her age and unmarried if she didn't know how to deal with unwanted suitors. Farilon was not unwanted. While Riona wouldn't pretend to see the appeal, he was kind and caring and loyal--somehow, he'd even managed to be that to Danthia, of all people. Not the choice she would have made for herself, but she didn't disapprove for her daughter.

But, Danthia's death hadn't been so long ago. No one missed her, and no one cared enough to bother taking her passing at more than face value, but if Farilon married so suspiciously early, either he or his new, beloved wife could raise a few eyebrows. That was a string Riona could pull.

"I think it's a fine match."

Her daughter's level of shock neither rose nor lowered, but its manifestation shifted. Where before there was fear, confusion now reigned: wide eyes squinting, quivering lip curled, tense shoulders slouched to a slight tilting of her head. "Sorry?"

"There's the age difference, sure, plus the fact that he was until recently your uncle by marriage--but, he's a stable sort, plus a marriage would renew the tie between House Andronei and the Royal Family that weakened when Farilon's brother left your Aunt Meera a widow. That, and you were adamant throughout your time at the university that you intended to return to Dovia, so on the off-chance that Queen Medea fears Farilon might make a move for her throne, I don't doubt she'd appreciate another reason for him to stay safely out of Naroni."

"From what I hear, Queen Medea isn't so paranoid, Mother--plus everyone knows Farilon has no interest in ruling. I see your point about the alliance, but Aunt Meera did give Conant three children before he died, so that bond lives on as long as they do. And surely it wouldn't seem appropriate if Farilon married again just yet! Especially if people know just how bad his marriage was."

"I didn't say that you ought to head for the chapel right this second." But, if they did head for the chapel, and Riona herself had championed that union... well, then at least any suspicion would be off of Holladrin and Farilon, and instead with the one who at least deserved it. "Give it another few months, well into the summer at least. No one should bat an eye at Farilon never marrying again, after all; he's still a young enough man, plus he couldn't be faulted for wanting an improvement on his first marriage."

"I suppose." Holladrin stood, as she often did when in need of absolute confirmation. Riona had a habit of doing the same. It was difficult to look someone in the eye from the disadvantage of a seat. "You're sure you approve, Mother?"

"You know I wouldn't have said so if I wasn't."

"Yes, but you must understand just how... well, how much of a relief it is," Holladrin finished in a please half-sigh as she stepped forth for a hug. "Thank you, Mother."

"You needn't thank me for wanting you to be happy, darling. So long as Farilon makes you happy and treats you well, why should I object?"

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