February 7, 2009

In Which Celina Keeps Smiling

May 18, 1156

"So, Alina, I trust you've heard the news?" Geneva began, speaking for the rather cold Medea as she often did. "Your niece is to marry Medea's brother sometime in the next year."

Beside Celina, Alina nodded. "I recieved a letter from my brother-in-law only yesterday. It's a horrible rush though, don't you think? Lileina isn't even thirteen yet."

"Oh, but what a fine thing, to be a countess at thirteen!" exclaimed Medea in protest. "Your sister and her husband must be so proud; their eldest daughter, to be married to the Earl of Sarona. And to think, their grandchildren will be kin to the royal family!"

"But Cladelia is already kin to the royal family. Oswald, Roderick, and Holladrin are our third cousins," insisted Alina. Celina had to admit she was impressed; it took considerable nerve to argue with the baroness.

Medea snorted. "Third cousins! Barely kin at all, if you ask me. Any children Cambrin and Lileina have will be first cousins, once removed, to Oswald and his siblings."

"My daughter is a first cousin, once removed to them as well," Alina reminded her, "seeing as my husband is their cousin himself."

Celina found herself grimacing as Medea heaved herself to her feet. She herself, of course, was a mother, and at the age of twenty-three, she had seen several pregnant women during her lifetime, but never before had she set eyes on a woman who had gained such girth in only seven months as the usually trim baroness had. Even young Thetis with her twins had not been so large in the final days of her pregnancy; Medea must have had a child of two or three occupying her womb.

Slowly, she waddled toward Alina and looked her straight in the eye. Behind her grimace, Celina choked--Medea was an intimidating figure when challenged, at best. Alina, however, did not even flinch.

"My dear," the baroness addressed the copper-haired young woman, though it was evident from her tone that she did not think her 'dear' at all, "while my brother is nephew to King Farilon of Dovia, your husband is nephew to his late queen, who, as I'm sure you realize, was not of the direct royal bloodline herself. Also, who knows what your husband is a cousin to on his mother's side? You're quite lucky to have already given him a baby. Now you don't have to feel obliged to carry around his quarter-pagan spawn in your own blue-blooded womb--or even sleep with him ever again."

Alina's eyes narrowed slightly. "I know I don't have to, Medea, but that doesn't mean I won't. In fact, come November, I'll be shoving another quarter-pagan spawn out of my blue-blooded womb, and eventually, I should like to have enough quarter-pagans to make a whole one, if not more."

As she finished her statement, Celina found herself stunned. Alina had given birth more than a whole month after she herself had; how was it that she had come to be with her second child before Celina? It wasn't as though she and Dalston were no longer sleeping together. Was there perhaps something wrong with one of them? Had they maybe only been lucky the first time?

Oh, but she was being terribly rude, if only in her head. Such thoughts were unbefitting of any woman--much less, a duchess.

"Congratulations, Alina!" she squealed, hoping her voice did not sound too forced. "Do you think it will be a boy this time? Or shall you have another little girl?"

"Personally, I'm hoping it's a boy," admitted Alina, "but I would love another girl too."

So her voice had been natural enough, Celina was relieved to see. However, if her regards had not been false, Medea's smile certainly was.

"Well, then soon it won't be I who is the fat one, will it?" she hissed. "Honestly, why you would want more babies--not to mention, let that man touch you--is beyond me. Octavius will never share a bed with me again after this one stops wreaking havoc on my body. And speaking of my worthless husband, perhaps you should like to tell him your news yourself? He is your cousin, after all."

Nodding, Alina stood. "I should very much like to inform my cousin, but you must not blame me if the news of my unborn child plants in him the desire to force his most unfortunate wife into a second pregnancy of her own shortly after her monthly returns."

"'Force' would certainly be the right word. I daresay the only women who would throw themselves on Octavius as you throw yourself on Severin would require a small fee in return," Medea chipped at her. "Anyway, I myself shall retire now; it seems this parasite thrives on draining my energy."

"Perhaps, Medea," Alina mused as the two of them made their way out of the room, "he thinks that an extra bit of your energy will suffice in the place of your love."

Celina waited for a few seconds after Alina had closed the door behind her before turning to Geneva. "They... don't like each other very much, do they?"

"Oh, not in the slightest!" the queen laughed. "You see, Medea can't understand for the life of her why Alina would leave Rudolphus, who will one day be Duke of Luperia, for Severin, the bastard son of a gypsy. In turn, Alina is the cousin of the poor man Medea has forced into celibacy, and doesn't see why she wouldn't want to give him children."

Celina swallowed. "Oh."

"It's a shame really," continued Geneva. "I imagine Medea wouldn't have minded marrying Rudolphus herself, but Alina had always been intended for him, and between you and me, I don't doubt he finds her much more attractive than poor Medea anyway."

She had to admit, she privately agreed, but she didn't dare say so in the baroness's own home, even if Medea wasn't there to hear her.

"Anyway," Celina began, hoping to steer the queen away from that particular topic, "Medea is pregnant, and now Alina is too. Isn't it wonderful? We'll be holding two more christenings before you know it."

"Three," Geneva corrected her quickly.

"Sorry?"

"Three," she repeated. "At least, that's what we can assume, considering how late I am myself."

"...oh."

Geneva was another who had given birth after Celina... and yet here she was, pregnant again, while Celina was not. Perhaps she would have been able to accept Alina's pregnancy as the result of simple coincidence, but now, Geneva too was expecting a child.

There had to be something wrong; there simply had to be.

NEXT CHAPTER:

9 comments:

Dinuriel said...

If this in any way seemed like a kind-of-foil-but-not to the last Ashelia chapter, that was more for my own amusement than anything. Sorry if it bothered anyone.

Anyway, this is definitely a spoiler, but I should probably warn you now... before the end of 1156, somebody is going to die. I know it's ridiculously early for me to be killing off characters, and believe me, this was not an easy decision. However, I do have my reasons for killing off this character (I won't say what they are though, because that might give away the identity of my intended victim).

On a happier note, this post took place on Thetis's fifteenth birthday! I should probably change her stretch in Sim PE, I don't think I bothered to change it when she turned fourteen...

lothere said...

Oh, snobbery! Alina can really hold her own though. If I had been on the receiving end of that "quarter-pagan spawn in your womb" remark I would surely have done more than "narrow my eyes slightly". :-D

Alina is so beautiful I can't get over her.

How long has it been since Celina had her baby? It doesn't seem like she ought to worry just yet. Poor thing. She ought to confide in someone... but on the other hand, seeing how vicious some of that conversation was, I can see how she would not want to open herself up to that.

On another note, that preview picture is hilarious. Don't they look like a pair of fat cats with the cream still on their whiskers? OH HAI!

Dinuriel said...

Celina gave birth to Lorn in early September, so he's about eight months old. She shouldn't really be worried, and I don't think she would be if Alina and Geneva weren't expecting (they both had their babies in mid October).

Alina definitely knows how to deal with snobbery. One of her sisters is very much like Medea in many ways (she'll eventually be coming into the story, but I don't know when--maybe if I decide to do something for the wedding they were talking about at the beginning of this post, or maybe if Geneva's rather sick brother kicks the bucket, since she's his wife).

Celina, on the other hand, is quite shy and timid, and is unfortunately used to being tolerated, but not fully included, since she was basically shipped from relative to relative as a child before finally settling with Roderick's family. Roderick's mother was rather mild-mannered, as is his sister, so she was never really exposed to the sort of conversation we saw here.

Oh, the preview picture! I wasn't really excited about that chapter until I took the pictures, but now I'm really stoked to write it. I always forget how fun it is to write from Florian's point of view--I imagine he and Kraaia would get along swimmingly, if they lived in the same place and time. Unfortunately for me, Sunday is my homework day, and my bio teacher seems intent on making sure I'm occupied for every hour of it :(

Penelope said...

I'm glad that Alina didn't stoop to Medea's level. It must be difficult for a woman like Alina to have to surround herself with petty people.

teehee Why is Florian running around in his underpants with a guest in the house, even if that guest has seen EVERYTHING?

Dinuriel said...

Alina and Medea really don't like hanging out with each other, but there's not much of choice in such a small kingdom. Alina and Celina do enjoy each other's company, and Alina and Geneva get along well enough so long as Geneva keeps her hands to herself when Severin also happens to be around, but Alina and Medea... I highly doubt they would ever willingly spend time together without at least one of the other two.

Florian was giving himself a sponge bath when Thetis showed up. Also, I realized that in every post that Florian's in, he is at least half naked at least some of the time. I wasn't sure whether I should make a conscious effort to cover him up at all times, or see how long I could keep a streak going. Knowing me, I chose the latter.

lothere said...

I know, I am starting to get some definite Beddy vibes from Florian. I don't know anyone who wanders around their house naked or nearly so as much as he does. I am beginning to think it turns him on. ;-) A sponge bath indeed!

Dinuriel said...

Yaaaaay for medieval exhibitionism!

Adie said...

Poor Celina!

Van said...

Yep. But it's only a matter of time...