December 27, 2009

In Which Ren Is Pierced by the Obvious Solution

May 16, 1164

Ren tapped on the door to her father's study, then stepped back and waited for a response. It had been more than half a year since her mother's passing, but it seemed to her that her father was still in mourning; perhaps he always would be. As such, she had taken to treating him with the utmost sensitivity, as being respectful of his grief helped her cope with her own. Maybe she was being selfish in that regard, but she had yet to find any better way to make things easier for the both of them. Her father was not one of her younger siblings, who could be soothed by mere cuddles and lullabies.

"Who is it?" called her father's voice from the other side of the door.

She inhaled deeply; as much as she loved her father, his once warm presence had become a stifling cocoon of misery. "It's me."

A sigh of relief could be heard from the study. "Ah, Ren! Just one minute, dear--I'm with Lady Felonis."

Lady Felonis was here again? How many times had she visited in these past months? Far too many for Ren's taste. While she had nothing personal against Lady Felonis, there was something suspicious about her now-frequent intrusions; she could not recall that woman and her father ever being close friends until recently.

"So... July, then?" her ladyship's light voice echoed through the wing like the pounding of a battle drum. Ren raised an eyebrow. What on earth could her father and Lady Felonis possibly be setting a date for...

She cringed as the obvious solution pierced her in the heart like a flaming arrow. They couldn't possibly... could they? Would he? How dare she! Why? Oh, her poor mother! That vile witch!

"I was thinking maybe the fifth," her father agreed, the wound in her heart widening with each barbed word. "What about your children? I would accommodate all of them, of course."

"Well, the twins will certainly come with me, but I believe I shall give Jedaline and Searle the choice of staying with Nythran if they so choose; they are rather attached to Felonis."

"I see. Regardless, they are certainly welcome here if they would prefer."

A step-family--not just a stepmother, but a whole bloody family! Ren had to admit that it had only been a matter of time before her father found a new bride, but one who already had her own gaggle of screaming brats? And had it been too much to hope that Ren herself would have been married and gone before her father took a second wife?

It seemed that it had. She would have to witness her mother's replacement firsthand. What greater pain could there be than watching her baby siblings toddle toward Lady Felonis with an excited squeal of "Mama!"? It seemed there would not even be time to tell them about their real mother before this false one filled that niche in their eyes. She would have to light a candle for her mother tonight--perhaps she would make her father do the same.

Unable to stomach the thought of the two of them alone together, Ren pushed open the door and stepped inside. To her great relief, there was quite a bit of physical distance between the two of them; she also noticed that her father seemed reluctant to meet his betrothed's eye. She was not quite sure what to make of this.

Her father's back was turned, so it was Lady Felonis who noticed her first. She greeted her with a smile, but Ren thought this rather too familiar. "Good day, Surenica."

Ren stiffened. "Good day, my lady." Who did this woman think she was, addressing her by name? She was not her stepmother yet!

Lady Felonis nodded, then turned back to Ren's father. "Anyway, Oswald, I should probably leave before it gets dark. Why don't you ride out to Felonis around this time next week?"

He remained motionless; the fact that he remained standing was Ren's only assurance of the fact that he was still breathing. "I do believe I shall. Thank you for the invitation."

Well, at the very least, she wouldn't be here.

"Oh, it's my pleasure," Lady Felonis assured him. "I shall have the cook prepare your favorite meal."

"I eagerly anticipate it."

"I likewise. Now, farewell, Oswald, Surenica."

en's father nodded. "Farewell, Meraleene. Have a pleasant ride!"

"As you wish it, I shall."

She lightly brushed her lips against his cheek, then stepped around the pair of them and filed out the door. Ren dared not blink until it had was firmly shut. Even after, she listened until the woman's footsteps had faded from the corridor, then turned to face her father.

"It's rather soon, don't you think?" she demanded, biting her lip as she spat the last syllable. As little as she cared to chastise her father, to avoid doing so was more difficult than she had expected.

Her father sighed. "Ren..."

"Father!"

Her father's shoulders arched in discomfort. "Ren, I do think it rather do soon, but I cannot be two parents at once, nor do I think it fair to expect you to mother your younger siblings. If your Aunt Holladrin was still living here, I would not feel this haste, but the fact of the matter is that I have young children who need a mother-figure in their life; likewise, Lady Felonis has young children in sore need of a father."

Ren sniffed. "So it's just for the sake of convenience, then?"

"Of course," he replied, his mouth collapsing into a broken frown. "I have no idea how Meraleene feels about me, but do you really think I could love so soon after the death of your mother? In fact, it is out of love for your mother that I would take a second bride; she would not want her children without a mother's love."

"I doubt she will love any of us as her own," dismissed Ren, rather hurt by his cold logic. "And Mother loves us regardless--you said so yourself!"

Her father shook his head. "Yes, it's more complicated than that, Ren. Please don't hate me for this."

Trying to smile, Ren leaned to toward him and perched her head over his shoulder, engulfing him in a reassuring hug. "I could never hate you, Father--you know that."

"I know," he agreed. "Thank you."

NEXT CHAPTER:

10 comments:

Dinuriel said...

Sorry about the wait. I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays :)

Since I can't really expect people to remember every single character in this story, Lady Meraleene of Felonis is one of Alina's sisters. She's the second of the five. She was widowed back in 1160.

Also, tomorrow is Monday, and that is discussion day. If you want to participate in the weekly writing discussions, they can be found here. Everyone is welcome, but please read this introduction first.

Also, sorry about the new word verification feature here. Long story short, I've been getting anonymous comments linking me to cheap Viagra almost daily, and it's a pain in the ass logging in just to delete them (yes, I am that lazy). So... word verification it is.

Phoenix said...

Oh man! That has to suck for the both of them but I agree with Oswald...it's something that has to be done. And WAS done on a regular bases. But I felt sad for Ren. She's right. She won't have a chance to tell her younger siblings about their mother. :(

*snickers at Viagra spam* On LT, when I had Rho speak Russian, my spam box had flooded with Russian porn links! Fun, fun! At least I have a delete all thing though!:P

Dinuriel said...

Yeah, I'm with Oswald here too. Those kids need a mother-figure who's older than thirteen, and since Oswald is next in line for the throne, he should probably make an effort to guarantee his people of a future queen.

But yeah, the situation's not exactly great from the perspective of Oswald's older kids :(

Heheheh... this is the offending post. I can't even figure out why. Maybe it's because people are listing favorite characters in comments. Or maybe it's because the post is about this married couple who obviously haven't had sex in ages just sitting around awkwardly questioning each other's sanity :P

lothere said...

Heh, I was waiting for the twist where he told her that they were actually only planning on where the kids would stay when he had to go away from the kingdom on business for a while! Instead it turns out it really was what she thought. But that's how it is...

Emmy said...

I thought they were arranging a marriage between Ren and one of Meraleene's sons, but there you go. Poor Ren. Well, maybe she'll fall for one of her new stepsiblings or something.

I'd noticed about the Viagra posts. Man, what a drag!

Dinuriel said...

Lothere: Heheheh, sorry about that. But yeah, that's how things are, as you know :(

Emmy: Ren's already got a fiance. His name is Searle, and he's Laralita's oldest son with her first husband, meaning he's the current Earl of Bandera. Not sure how she feels about him--he's three years younger than her, so she might be annoyed at the fact that she has to wait for him to grow up first.

Of course, I don't see how anybody without access to my spreadsheets would have known that :P

Yeah, those damn Viagra posts... oh well. Fortunately, they're gone now :)

Gayl said...

I was waiting for the twist as well...but what Oswald says makes perfect sense. Hard for Ren to understand maybe but she loves her mother and her siblings. And of course her father.

Dinuriel said...

Sorry :(

Yeah, it's a difficult sort of thing to understand at that age, especially when it hasn't even been a year and some of her siblings are so young. I think Ren's a fighter, though, so she should be okay.

Gayl said...

LOL! I just thought you were being sneaky is all making us think wedding when it was something more mundane...

Dinuriel said...

Heheh... I'm not that sneaky... :P