July 8, 2013

In Which Ren Is Shown the Luxuries

February 10, 1182

Upon entering the study, it was no longer a mystery why the steward had fetched Ren instead of Searle. Searle was already up to his eyeballs in the stress of his brother; there was no sense in adding his mother to that as well.

When Ren had first heard of her uncle's death, it had occurred to her more than once to wonder what might become of her mother-in-law. She didn't know her cousin Ietrin, but Searle said he was an ass and every less biased piece of evidence she had seemed to agree; the best she could have hoped from him was a private wing of the castle for Laralita and the children, but if she was here, then he'd failed to grant her even that.

But surely she would have been offered lodging in Naroni? Laralita had never been popular, but surely at least one lord or lady or knight would have found it in their heart to take in a grieving widow and her orphans, especially after they'd been so cruelly betrayed by a man who never would have known another mother?

If she thought that, though, then perhaps she was a hypocrite. Searle was not the sort of husband who made his word law, and for that and so much else, Ren could not do this to him, not out-of-the-blue. Until he was made aware, she would have to be conservative in her charity. "Your highness. My condolences."

"Thank you, daughter." Laralita's voice was half its usual volume, and none of its usual air. "Though you needn't waste your breath, calling me 'highness' still."

"You still have a right to your title."

"But not the obligation." Her mother-in-law sighed--not something Ren ever thought she'd witness. "I thought I'd miss being queen, should the worst happen, but I was wrong. It means nothing without Roderick."

If there was a right thing to say to that, it wasn't in any language Ren spoke. Even if the worst had happened to Searle all those years ago... well, surely life wasn't meant to be lived for someone else, alive or dead? But she might have felt differently if Searle had died, and if it had been sudden. Searle had lived--and Ren had braced herself for otherwise. Laralita had neither luxury. "I'm sorry. Uh... where are you staying?"

"Nowhere. I had offers in Naroni, but I couldn't take them. There didn't seem to be much point in staying there." So that explained why she was here. At least she'd had offers?

"I'm glad you came instead of Searle. I'm not going to ask to live with you--I know Searle wouldn't allow it--but if the two of you could help my children and me to find some place to live, I'd appreciate it."

Ren nodded. A basic human need was never an unreasonable request, and if that was all that Laralita--Laralita!--asked, she would oblige. So would Searle, though he wouldn't be happy about it. Searle wasn't Ietrin. Searle could be grouchy, he could be bitter, maybe even mean to some... but Searle wasn't cruel. "Yes, we'll help."

The subtle curve on Laralita's mouth had to have been the closest she'd been to smiling all year. Poor woman. What a way to begin anew. "Thank you."

"Ren?"

The door bounced back lightly as Searle pushed it to the wall and narrowed his eyes at the sight of his mother. Laralita wasn't the only one Ren ached for today. "That explains why he fetched you instead of me."

NEXT CHAPTER:

5 comments:

Van said...

Sore throat. :(

Ann said...

Laralita! Yikes! I almost didn't recognize you without the crown and all your attitude. I'm impressed!

"I thought I'd miss being queen, should the worst happen, but I was wrong. It means nothing without Roderick."

Awwww. :( (You're doing this on purpose, Van, admit it! ;))

If she keeps this up I might even come to like her, in some way. Never thought I'd say THAT, for sure and certain. O.o

morgaine2005 said...

Poor Laralita. :( How many times have I said that? More than I ever thought I would.

Though I think Ren should cut her a little slack on the "life shouldn't be lived for another person" bit. It's only been, what, six weeks? That wound is still going to be raw.

Lastly, I can't figure out whether, from a political standpoint, taking Ietrin's heirs out of the country was mind-bogglingly stupid or slyly intelligent ...

Winter said...

All right, what have you done with the real Laralita? Why isn't she foisting herself off on a relative and making their castle unlivable by her presence and taste in furniture? Where are the insomnia-causing statues??

Seriously, my heart is breaking for Laralita. Even just her appearance tells the story. She's not a queen, she's a widow. The poor thing. I hope Searle can be the bigger person in dealing with her for now. Just a little bit of forbearance would do nicely.

Being out of Naroni might not be a bad thing for Laralita. It will take her a long time to get over this, and she has to find an identity for herself. She seems like someone who is very uncomfortable with being alone and unattached, and she's not likely to form any immediate attachments like she did with Roderick.

Van said...

Laralita post-Roderick is certainly a different shade of Laralita. :S

I don't know if Laralita will ever be completely likeable (er, once she sort of gets back on her feet and makes her adjustments), but I do suspect that she'll never recovery to her former level of annoying. The general reader opinion on her may at some point shift to "neutral".

Morgaine: Ren was a bit critical there, at least given how recently Roderick died. They're two very different people, though. Laralita is quite status-driven, and therefore more prone to "living for other people" than someone like Ren.

Good question! I think it could go either way, really... but I don't know how much thought Laralita really gives to anything political. She didn't want to be queen so that she could make a difference, after all. At this point, she's already lost her husband and her home, so I doubt she wants to think about losing her children as well. Plus, I'm sure Ietrin prefers it this way, as he's not the type to want to admit publicly that his brother could very well be king after him.

Winter: There is a definite difference between this and the last time Laralita lost a husband. :S

I don't think Searle will deny her at least the help in finding a place to stay, despite all his resentment of her. He might not let her move in with him, but he's not about to make her go homeless either. He's not evil.

Laralita does need to make an identity for herself, methinks (though yes, she'll need her time to grieve first). She's rarely been on her own and has generally been lost and uncomfortable without someone else to hold her hand, so once the time to mourn is over, being out on her own with just her younger children might be a good experience for her.