July 3, 2013

In Which Mona Gives Credit for the Complications

January 16, 1182

Mourning was hard. Mona knew that. Everyone knew that. Even people who'd had the good fortune of never having to mourn in their lives at least understood that in principle. Depending on who had died, mourning was the toughest thing most ever had to do. It was a rare universal understanding, if not the only universal understanding.

But Mona had found something tougher than mourning, and that was mourning in secret.

There had been a time when she'd thought she'd hated her father. Why shouldn't she have? She'd thought he hated her too, shipping her off to marry a stranger in a foreign country without so much as a 'Behave yourself'? But after Anna had married in her stead, she'd let those feelings go. Her father had just done as kings did. It didn't make her regret her choice, but she'd shed the weight of the grudge and all of her family woes were that much easier. Some days, she even sort of missed him.

Today, more than only 'sort of'.

"Are you all right?"

It was Zareth. Who else would have figured that the nursery wasn't unoccupied when Telvar was in the sitting room with his mother? But if he was concerned, then she supposed Anna or Adrius had told him about her father. And if she had to talk to someone, she supposed it had to be him. Anna and Adrius, bless their hearts, were pretending too.

"No."

He sat down, beside her but not without a tangible distance. She wished he'd take her hand, but he didn't. Of course he didn't. "I'm sorry about your father."

"Thank you." Was that right? As if she was thankful for anything. "Is it stupid to miss him?"

"No." Zareth inched a little closer. Mona couldn't decide if that made it better or not. "Why would it be stupid?"

"You know. Not like I could have seen him again anyway--not without a crown on my head." And yet, he was probably looking at her right now. He was probably still wearing his crown. At least--

Snorts of laughter were inappropriate while mourning. Everyone knew that. Mona knew that.

Knowing didn't help.

"Umm... is something funny?"

Shit. It was. Not that she wasn't mourning any more, but... couldn't she laugh? Couldn't she remember the good times? At least for a minute, before she had to start crying again?

God damn. Grief was more complicated than anyone gave it credit for. "My father, he... he always wore his crown. I actually... I can't remember seeing him without it." Even that time she'd walked in on him in the bath! Why couldn't she stop giggling?

"Really? Never?" He had a repressed sort of chuckle and she wasn't sure if she'd heard it before. Odd that it would be the thought of her father's crown, tangled in his hair like some ivy-covered ruin, that finally brought it out. Or was he just attuned to what she found therapeutic? No, that was stupid. That was like hoping he loved her. "Your father never took off his crown?"

"No! For all I know, it was an extension of his skull!" A bit of snot trickled from her nose--before she could turn away, but she didn't think he saw it. Oh God, her poor father! Wherever he was, yes, she hoped he still had that crown. "They would have buried him with it, right? I mean, it would have been cruel not to. Ietrin could have had another made; that was Father's crown."

"From the sounds of it, it was." He pulled her nearer and ran a hand up and down her arm. Between that and the moment of levity, maybe she could make it through the rest of the day. "I'm sure he still has the crown, Mona. If nothing else could pry it off his head, I don't know why death should do it."

NEXT CHAPTER:

5 comments:

Van said...

...

zzzzzz

Ann said...

Oh poor Mona! Caught in a trap of her own making. ~~ She got her freedom, but now she finds the price is rather higher than she expected. Poor girl. Not being able to mourn your own father openly... (even if he was an ass...) I can only imagine how hard that must be!
Good thing she found a way to remember the good times and that Zareth is there for her!
I'm curious though: DID Ietrin have his father's crown burried with him? Cause if he didn't he might just rise another couple notches on my shit list. *cracks knuckles* Placing him that much closer to his beloved Mordi. And just possibly getting to share the latter's fate in something I want to try...

Winter said...

Poor girl. It's bad enough to lose a parent, but to not be able to mourn him or be with the rest of your family? That's awful. Thank goodness for Zareth.

Mona's shift toward remembering good/funny things about her father was an amazingly realistic touch. It fits her personality quite well, too. That she was mourning at all shows she's grown up a lot since leaving Naroni, but there's a fighter underneath still. Even if she didn't have Zareth, Mona will come out of this okay.

Also curious to know if Ietrin buried his father with his crown or not. I can't imagine Roderick being able to go to eternal rest without a crown on his head. He could be mistaken for some grotty peasant or mere lord without it.

morgaine2005 said...

I too want to know the fate of Roderick's crown! Unfortunately I'm not good enough at recognizing CC to be able to tell if Ietrin was wearing it the last time we saw him.

And surely you'll understand if I don't want to look? ;)

But anyway -- poor Mona. :( Like Ann and Winter have said, losing a parent is hard enough without having to pretend like everything is fine. I also loved the touch of Mona remembering funny things about her father -- I just feel bad that she felt bad about it. That's part of mourning, remembering the good times as well as the bad. Heck, if there aren't any good times to remember, there's really no reason to mourn.

I hope that Anna and Adrius are willing to be shoulders for Mona to cry on when she needs it -- I understand why Mona doesn't want to impose, but really, they made out like bandits thanks to her little ruse. They're obnoxiously happy and have the cutest baby EVAR. A little emotional support in a time of need is the least they can do.

More importantly, they are both absolute sweethearts and would totally be Mona's emotional support anyway.

One last thing, though -- did Mona invent a history for "Anna"? Because if she didn't, couldn't she, if she had to, say that she was Roderick's illegitimate daughter whom he acknowledged in a limited way? It could explain her grieving if it needed to be explained. And while I don't think Roderick would have strayed from Laralita -- who in Naroni would know that? Heck, if she had to, she could say that Roderick only strayed because Laralita was pregnant/nursing/something that made her not able to have sex.

Still. Sympathy and hugs to Mona, she totally needs them. Zareth had better be a good boy there. ;)

Van said...

Ann: Mona's freedom did come at a price, and while she wouldn't give it back, I think she's come to realize that as she's grown up, and this is the most definitive proof of that for her yet. :S

But yes, at least she could focus on the good for a minute.

I've decided that Roderick's crown was buried with him, if only because I have this scene in my head of Ietrin trying and failing to untangle it from his hair, then saying "Screw this, I'll just have a new one made."

Definitely looking forward to anything Tartarus throws my way. :D

Winter: Mona is in a tough spot. Her big sister Riona is also without the family, but at least everyone knows who Riona is and she doesn't have to mourn in secret.

Thanks! She has grown up a lot, even if she hasn't completely changed. It seemed natural that by now, she would have let her resentment of Roderick go. She will get through this.

Lord Roderick. How insulting. XD

Morgaine: In terms of CC, Ietrin was wearing the same crown (I only have two: one for the king and one for the queen), but in terms of the story, let's say it's a different one, modelled after Roderick's.

Good point! There's no sense in missing someone if there's nothing about them you'd actually miss.

I can't imagine that Anna or Adrius would refuse Mona comfort. It is kind of Mona's fault that they've ended up so happy. Even if it wasn't, they're both too nice to not help a friend in need (or a stranger in need, really).

Good question! That could have worked, for sure. I doubt Mona really wants to think about Roderick having sex at all, though, much less with anyone but Laralita (or Geneva, I guess, given the existence of Mona's half-siblings on Roderick's side).