June 19, 2013

In Which Fred Tells What He'll Tell Himself

December 31, 1181

Freddard Farrier was a liar, a thief, and worse, and no one knew that better than he himself did. It ought to have meant nothing to him, strolling into a lady's bedchamber unbidden, a lady who was not only miles above his station but someone else's wife besides, even if his intentions were chaste (whatever he was, he was not that vile sort of man). It ought to have been as thoughtless and easy an action as that vague memory of swiping a loaf of bread from a smaller, stupider child.

But lady or not, Fred had not wanted to invade Jeda's privacy, even if he couldn't have told her what he'd come to say in front of prying ears. For a woman who spent so much time alone, she got remarkably little. Her husband and in-laws were there even when they weren't, their disappointed frowns and disapproving looks and their not-so-subtle hints. Even when they left her alone they pressured her.

He hoped she hadn't thought he was her husband when he'd knocked, coming to take his 'marital right' like the ring made her body his toy.

"I'm sorry for disturbing you."

"It's all right." Jeda folded down the corner of her page and shut the book. Plato. His father had owned a book of Plato's musings. His stepfather had turned it into kindling. "Do you need something?"

Perpetually. But Fred could never tell anyone that--though if he had his choice, Jeda would have been the one. "I thought I ought to tell you that tonight is my last night here."

She returned the book to the stack on the table, but kept staring at him all the while. It was a strange thought, someone missing him, or someone other than his siblings and his sister's children at any rate. He'd told himself earlier it was a vanity to think that Jeda might, but he saw now that he hadn't been kidding himself after all.

But it was better this way. At least she wouldn't miss him as much once she had an inkling of who he really was.

"May I ask why? You weren't dismissed, were you?" The way her voice caught in her throat and the way her hands ground against the edge of the bed, she might have feared it her fault.

"No. I... well, the official story is that I need to go care for my sick aunt in Italy." A thin blond brow arched upward. She knew he was being careless. He hoped she knew he didn't care. "I can't tell you the truth now, but you're clever, and I suspect you'll suspect when they wake you tomorrow. I hope you'll remember me as your friend, though I understand if--"

Her petite, curvy body caught him off-guard as she appeared at his other side and embraced him. "I don't want to guess at what you're talking about, but of course I'll remember you as my friend. Even if I am a bit bitter about you not staying as my friend."

"I'm sorry. I wish we could have met under happier circumstances." He moved to brush some hair out of her eyes, intending to retreat if she swatted him away, but she never did--she even smiled somewhat, even if it didn't reach her eyes.

He wouldn't push further than that. "Maybe if I were an architect, and if you could make a stuffed animal for every child in the world."

Jeda sighed. "Rick..."

"It's Fred." It stung as Jeda's hazel eyes bulged, but he supposed he was lucky she didn't shove him to the ground. "I'm sorry that I lied about that too. I needed another name, and I wanted you to know me as a good man, even if that is a lie. My father's name was Rick. He was the best man I ever knew."

"You're not a bad man."

"You won't believe that tomorrow, but I'll admit that it's nice to hear it tonight."

"You don't know what I'll believe tomorrow."

He supposed he wouldn't. Still.

"Then I will tell myself that tomorrow, and that alone will keep me going." He took her hand and, with a more hesitant motion than he recalled ever using, kissed it. "Farewell, Jeda."

"Farewell... Fred."



Van said...

My apologies if some of the images are malfunctioning. This evening, Firefox and Photobucket decided that they hate each other. I have no idea what's going on. I've never seen a site move so slowly when every other site was moving normally (well, without being outright down). Weirder still, it worked just fine on Chrome (but I have to post to Blogger in Firefox, because Chrome fucks up Blogger formatting big time despite the fact that they are both Google). So I loaded the images from Chrome, but they only half-loaded in the post editor's compose mode. I don't know what's up, but it better not happen again.

morgaine2005 said...

For what it's worth, the images are working fine for me!

:( Fred and Jeda. I mean, if what I suspect is true, this is a relationship with DOOM spelled all over it ... but ... damn, Fred, can't you forget about your mission, take Jeda and the kids (Ietrin does not deserve the awesomeness of Dea!) and run away to Italy? Or France? Or even cold Britain?

And then you can come back in 10-15 years, take the throne from Ietrin/Roderick for Dea, and EVERYBODY WINS!

*continues to bite nails, still waiting for other shoe to drop*

Van said...

Oh, good! They seem to be showing up for me now too, so hopefully it was just a weird blip on either Photobucket or Firefox's part. :S

Fred and Jeda... yeaaah, whatever he was hinting at doesn't sound like dancing in the flowers forever. It would be awesome if Fred and Jeda and the kids could just run off (and come back just in time to reclaim Dea's throne!), but alas, I am not that nice of a god. :(

Winter said...

The images also loaded fine for me.

I like Morganna's plan for the rise of Queen Dea! I also like how you have us rooting for Jeda and the kids to run away with a potential assassin. Only in Naroni ;).

I do like Fred/Jeda, though. Jeda is lighter in his company - perhaps even happy. All the poor woman has ever done is what is expected of her, and her great reward is to be forever linked to someone who destroys stuffed animals. And Fred... well, who doesn't like a good redemption story?

Van said...

Glad to hear it!

The rise of Queen Dea would be a happy day for Naroni indeed! Alas, there will be obstacles, and those obstacles will extend beyond Ietrin. :S

Heh--better the potential assassin who actually seems like a decent person then the prince you know is an ass?

Jeda does seem a bit lighter when Fred's around. I think the two of them bring out the best in each other, and I think they both needed the reminder that the best existed.