July 8, 2009

In Which Severin Is Pushed to His Breaking Point

December 31, 1158

"Oh my God!" exclaimed Severin in horror as he frantically scanned his drastically-altered bedroom. "Who put this cheap-looking paneling up? What happened to all the furniture? Why is that dresser blocking the window? And what tile-eating monster vomited on my perfectly good floor? God damn it!"

"Don't look at me," sighed Alina from the bed, her hands protectively laid over her growing belly. "I nearly fainted when I saw it. She knows I don't like neutral walls, and yet she insisted on putting up this paneling."

Severin raised an eyebrow--someone had hell to pay. "She?"

Unashamed, the culprit waddled forth, the clicks of her light slippers on the poorly-chosen tile creating a distinct cacophony with the impatient tapping of Severin's own heavy boot. "Good afternoon, Severin, my dear brother. You see, I had been meaning to present you with a gift as a reward for your gracious hospitality, and I noticed that both my sister and yourself were always rather oblivious to the scandalously middle-class look of your bedchamber, so this morning, I took it upon myself to redecorate in a manner fitting of a lord and lady. I do hope you like it."

And this had taken all of one morning, while Alina had recieved Celina and her children and while he himself had gone hunting with Adonis? Did Laralita honestly have nothing better to do with her time? Even if she didn't, it was a lot of work for one morning--a pity that she would not employ her industrious nature for a more useful purpose.

"Well, I appreciate your thoughtfulness," he sneered as shock of the drastic change continued to overwhelm him, "but we were perfectly fine with the way it was before. Besides, aren't you a little too pregnant to be moving furniture?"

Laralita shrugged. "I'm only five months."

Skeptically, his eyes flickered down toward the large protrusion of her stomach. She did not look 'only five months'--as a father of four-going-on-five, Severin was well aware of what 'only five months' looked like, and Laralita's inclusion in that category was doubtful, at best. Hell, her sister Renata had not been so large at that stage with her triplets; judging by her size, Laralita was either gestating four babies or a plump, sturdy child of two years.

Regardless, he didn't think someone in her condition should have attempted such a task, whether she be nine months or mere hours.

But it seemed he had underestimated her strength considerably, five months pregnant or not.

"Where did you get this canopy?" he demanded of her, studying what was now the room's prominent centerpiece. "It's enormous! How in God's name did you get this in here without tearing a wall down? You know what, never mind--I don't want to know."

Laralita laughed, her otherwise lovely face taking on an unappealingly petty light; Severin supposed he might be somewhat thankful for her despicable personality, for otherwise he might have found her to be quite the temptation. "Oh, that doesn't matter! All that does matter is that it's beautiful, elegant, and expensive, and you have the room for it."

"Barely," he muttered, taking not of the way the remainder of the new furniture had been forced to the sides of the room in order to accommodate it.

She smiled. "Oh, don't be so glum, Severin--I doubt your king himself has a canopy like this one! They're all the rage back in Dovia, of course, but it's understandable that all of you would be rather behind the times out here."

"Laralita, I don't give a damn about what's all the rage back in Dovia," Severin insisted; he knew he was being blunt, but so far, subtlety had failed in regards to this woman. "I liked my castle how it was, all right? Alina and I had it decorated just as we wanted it, and we were both very comfortable with our home. I turned a blind eye to what you did to sitting room, and my study, and the banquet hall, but this is getting rather out of hand. Now, while I appreciate your efforts, kindly ask either Alina or myself before redecorating any more of our rooms, and allow one of us to supervise the process. Is that clear?"

"Like a crystal," she answered with a deep yawn. "Now, if you'll excuse me, all this work has been rather tiring, so I believe I shall retire until supper."

He had no objections--he could use a few hours free of her presence.

"Oh, and by the way," added Laralita as she stepped through the door. "I'm sorry about your wine cabinet, but it had to go in order to make room for your marble statue."

Severin rolled his eyes. "We don't have a marble statue."

She gestured toward the fireplace--sure enough, right beside it was an unsightly Grecian sculpture, its stone gaze falling directly onto Severin's pillow. How on earth had he managed to miss that horrific detail? "You do now."

And with that, she was gone, the door closing behind her.

Shaking his head, Severin awkwardly edged around the canopy and settled himself on the bed next to his wife, trying in vain to ignore the statue's empty eyes. Good Lord, that thing was frightening; he half-expected its face to start moving at any moment, its lips to mouth the words "I'm watching you, Severin." Perhaps this was Laralita's way of telling him not to bring undesirable company into this bed--as if she could think he would, seeing how he loved his princess.

And yet, she seemed stubbornly skeptical of his fidelity. Twice she'd taken him aside and scolded him for glancing at women's breasts, and the first time Nora had brought her new little daughter to visit, Laralita had inspected the child for the better part of an hour before declaring that she saw no trace of him in the little girl's face. After that, she had proceeded to ask Nora--with some degree of interest, mind--what Severin looked like naked. At least for that, he could blame her hormones.

"Look, Alina," he addressed his wife, somewhat calmed by the gentle drumming of her fingers over her slight bulge, "I understand that she's your sister, but... she's driving me insane. I'm sorry, but she has to go. If you don't mind, I'd like to send her back to Bandera shortly after her baby is born--providing I can wait that long."

Somberly, Alina nodded. "She's getting on my nerves as well. If it weren't for the fact that Karlspan will be having one last child, I'd have thrown her out months ago."

"Months," he repeated quietly. "It feels like she's been here for years. Sometimes I think she plans on staying here forever."

"I know," Alina agreed.

"And then every time I ask her when she expects to leave, she throws a fit about how cruel it is to press a widow."

"She gives me the same reaction. Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder if she'll only ever leave if she marries again."

That was actually not a bad idea.

Slowly, Severin turned to face her, finding reassurance in the sight of her as he often did. "Say, princess... why don't we try that?"

"Try what? Finding her a husband?"

He nodded. "Exactly."

Alina sighed, leaning toward him slightly. "I don't know about that, Severin. Yes, it would be the kindest way of making her leave, but the fact of the matter is that there aren't many bachelors she'd settle for. The only unmarried men of suitable rank who come to mind are our own brothers."

"Yes, that is rather problematic," he admitted. "Maybe if we're lucky, some foreign noble will arrive and fall madly in love with her."

"We can always hope."

"Of course..." Severin mused in afterthought, "perhaps it would be rather suspicious if we tried to set her up with the first man we found. She needs to think that it's just a loving gesture on our part; he needs to at least seem like the sort of man she would like."

"Well, in that case, he would have to be wealthy," determined Alina. "Wealthier than we are, and wealthier than my father. For good measure, maybe even wealthier than Karlspan."

"But she won't appreciate his wealth if he isn't from a good bloodline."

"True," she agreed. "He has to be a man of impeccable breeding--and of course, very high rank and standing. And seeing as the only man I can think of who fits that bill is your year-old half-brother, I have to add that he should probably be older than she herself."

Severin chuckled under his breath. "Fair enough. He must be wealthy, high-ranking, powerful, and over twenty-five years of age. Any other criteria, princess?"

"Well, he can't be anything horrible to look at," insisted Alina, "and it would be nice if he found her attractive as well; you know how Laralita loves flattery."

"Fair enough--a handsome sycophant."

"Oh, and he has to be the type to flaunt his wealth," she added. "I'm sure she'd be very appreciative of a man who spends a lot of money on fancy things he doesn't really need."

"We know she enjoys that activity herself," Severin sighed, sending a wary glance the statue's way. "Karlspan never was extravagant enough for her--and he was much smarter than she would have liked. No, I think Laralita wants an idiot, if you don't mind me saying; someone who won't get wise to her. Someone she can keep wrapped around her finger while thinking himself to be in charge."

Alina was quick to confirm this. "Oh, she always did like her men good and stupid. But where to find such a man?"

"Yes, that is a dilemma," groaned Severin. "We're looking for someone who's not only very rich and of the bluest blood, but also pretentious and moronic. That sort of man doesn't exactly grow on trees."

Alina sighed. "Indeed. This will take quite some time, I imagine; I suppose we ought to just brace ourselves for her visit to lengthen considerably."

"As much as it grieves me to admit it, you're probably right."

Someone knocked on the door--fortunately, the knock was far too masculine to be dainty Laralita's.

"Who is it?" asked Severin.

"Falidor, your lordship. Are you and your wife, uh... clothed?"

"Yes, thank you for asking. Come in."

The steward stepped inside, an amused smile conquering his mouth as he observed his new surroundings. "So that's why your sister-in-law offered to sell me all that furniture. I hope you don't mind me asking, my lord, but do you, uh... want it back?" he added, clearly trying very hard to be sensitive.

"Please," Severin demanded. "Now, excuse me if I sound rude, but what is it that you need, Falidor?"

"Oh, it's not too important," the young man assured him. "I just have this message for you from the king. You see, one of his horses..."

"The king, you say?"



Dinuriel said...

Aaaaand we're done with 1158! Yaaay!

As per usual, here's the baby list:

January 27 - Cambrin and Lileina had a daughter, Surenica
March 12 - Karlspan and Laralita had a son, Ietrin
August 10 - Severin and Alina had a daughter, Viridis
August 29 - Severin's brother Rudolphus and Geneva's sister Eudocia had a daughter, Camaline
November 8 - Willott and Laveria had a daughter, Aerina
December 12 - Jothein and Nora had a daughter, Aldara

And now, for the very short year of 1159!

Gayl said...

I can't believe they waited so long to realize the king was perfect! Totally fits the criteria.

LOL at the canopy. That thing is monstrous!

Penelope said...

Oh no, Van. That is a match made in... SOMEPLACE DREADFULLY SICK! hahahahaha!

And look at that BED! *falls over laughing*

Phoenix said...

Dude! That's freaking hilarious! Like seriously!!! Hahaha!!!! On the other hand that means that she'll still be in Naroni! Blah!

That room is absolutely horrible!! LMAO!

cheripye said...

I cant believe it! the King now tsk tsk Severin, how could you forget your own brother??? LOL!
You portray your characters so well, and Severin and Alina's relationship seems so real, they truly are suited to eachother! LOL! Great update!

cheripye said...

oops I meant cousin, lol! and also forgot to mention the Canopy and Severins thoughts on the statue! LOL!

Dinuriel said...

Gayl: Yeah, it seems like a no-brainer, lol. But I guess what sometimes happens when you see people quite a bit is that you subconsciously tend to overlook them, as if they're a little too obvious. Roderick relies on Severin quite a bit (even though he'd never admit it), so they see each other at least every couple of days. Alina also frequently sees Roderick, since his kids often play with her kids.

That canopy is fine in a HUGE bedroom (it's like, 4x5 or something ridiculous like that). Like, that canopy was in that chamber where Geneva and Lonriad almost had sex, and it fit okay there because that was a much larger room, but Severin and Alina's bedroom is a little cramped for it.

Pen: Heheh, those two deserve each other. She would definitely be better for him than Geneva ever was, even though she is a little... out there, lol.

I think I downloaded that bed in a Victorian set, but the bed definitely wasn't what I downloaded it for. I didn't think I'd use it, since whoever meshed the covers meshed them fairly awkwardly, but it worked for my purposes here.

Phoenix: True, she will still be in Naroni if she marries Roderick, but there are a lot of people in Naroni that we never see. Adonis and Honora are still in Naroni, and so are Halford and Arydath. We haven't seen Dalston and Celina for a while, but they're still there as well. So even if Laralita stays, we might not necessarily see a whole lot of her.

Cheri: Thanks :)

Yep, Roderick is Severin's first cousin (Roderick's mother was Lonriad's baby sister). Actually, Roderick is also Alina and Laralita's third cousin, and Severin and Alina themselves are third cousins. The Dovian upper-class is quite thoroughly inbred... but I'm going off on a tangent. Sorry about that.

lothere said...

Good Lord, Laralita IS the Tawdry Fairy. What a nightmare. That statue is such a crowning touch.

She is perfect for Roderick! They're both so unsufferable they might manage to suffer each other. I cannot wait to see how this little matchmaking scheme turns out. Especially with Severin and Alina at the helm. :-D

eclectictsunami said...

AHAHAHA! Perfect!!! I *love* Severin and Alina's facial expressions at the end.

Dinuriel said...

Lothere: I never thought I'd find a mentionable use for that Maxis statue, but here it is :)

And yes, that is exactly my thinking. They are the only people who could, potential, put up with each other.

Cassie: They just look so hopeful there, don't they? :)

Emaena said...

Oh, yes! I knew it! *giggles* This whole chapter was great. I love Severin and Alina's deductions, and their expressions at the end. Priceless.

Dinuriel said...

This remains one of my favorite chapters of all time :)