September 6, 2013

In Which Haldred Counts Apologies

October 17, 1182

"Should you be tending fires in your condition?"

It was not so much a question as a means of dispelling silence. Catalina was with the children, and Tarien was in conference with Sidwein and a couple other knights about some issue at the border--once Tarien had said he'd take care of it, Haldred had taken that as license to stop listening. But that left him and Celina, and Celina had never liked being alone with either of her parents, but since he'd just returned from burying Searle, she must have figured that leaving him alone was not negotiable. Too bad that Jadin was now married and out of the house, or else they'd both have been spared the tension.

"Father, I'm pregnant--not an invalid." To prove the point, she pushed one log from near the bottom over the others and to the other side of the base. Haldred leaned to the side and peered at her stomach. There was a bit of a bump now, but he supposed she was right; if she still felt up to basic tasks, there was nothing in her way.

"Your mother never much cared for being pampered either."

His daughter sniffed. It might not have been the best idea, comparing her to her mother. "She did love you, you know. We loved all of you." Even if we did a shitty job of it. "I know your brother loved you."

"I know he did." That was one for three.

"I gave him that bracelet, like you said. I tucked it into his belt."

"Thank you." She gave the hearth one more nudge, then set the poker aside. "Will you be retiring soon?"

If he told her yes, she would have left. She would have gone down to the nursery and kissed her children good night, then returned to the guest chamber (she never set foot in her childhood bedroom) and curled up with a book until Sidwein joined her. She would have had a pleasant enough rest-of-the-evening.

Haldred had told her enough lies. "No."

Celina bit her lip and sat down--on the other bench, not next to him. He wasn't sure she'd ever sat next to him. His little girl had never been a cuddler, and that had suited him just fine. At least, before he'd considered that she hadn't been so little after all, and that maybe she hadn't been so much averse to cuddling as she was to him.


She looked up. She had his eyes, down to the seething, barely constrained anger. "Yes?"

"Can you ever forgive me?"

The corners of her mouth fell. Her eyes may have been his, but the ice on her lips was all Cladelia. "No."

"I see."

But the next morning, when his family and hers were seated at the breakfast table, no one speaking but babbling children, he would break the ice to tell her that he was sorry. He would tell Tarien that he was sorry, and he would ride over to Jadin's later that day and tell him the same. Haldred had fathered eight children, and only three still lived. There were already five apologies he would never give.



Van said...

What a week. :S

Mimus said...

Did someone tell him now about Celina's attempted suicide or... is he just saying sorry because he had to bury another of his children?

Penelope said...

This is quite sad. I suppose he knew how unhappy his children were, and blames himself for it. He of course knew about Searle and Riona. (And in that case, what parents wouldn't have tried to separate their kids as fast as possible?) Haldred knows that he has reason to be sorry, but as a reader I'm not sure that I have a clear example of what he and his wife did that was so terrible (other than marrying off their developmentally disabled daughter).

I think I have trouble taking sides in this because as a reader, I just wasn't there to see what went on. By the time we met Searle, whatever happened in his family had already come to pass. Very sad that they will never be able to make amends though, much like Searle will never really be able to make amends with his own children.

Van said...

Mimus: I'd be surprised if Celina herself told him about the suicide attempt, and I don't think anyone else knew except for Searle and now Sidwein. I can't really see Sidwein mentioning it without her permission, so unless Searle managed to write a note before he died, I think it's safe to say that he doesn't know about it.

It probably didn't take much reflection to realize that she had a miserable adolescence, though.

Pen: I think the Haldred/Cladelia dynamic itself had a lot to do with it. They had a certain explosive chemistry, but most of the time, it was just explosive. Add that to a lot of the kids having individual issues that got neglected or outright dismissed, and the whole family was pretty much a mess. :S

morgaine2005 said...

Well, if burying (another) one of your kids isn't enough to make you depressed, I don't know what is ... poor Haldred. Yeah, he was a pretty awful parent, but still, he's feeling it now.

As for Celina ... I don't know. That, "No" was a bit harsh. Then again, Haldred and Cladelia do deserve it to an extent. Maybe Haldred's apology might start to mend the relationship, assuming there's much of a relationship there to mend. At the very least, you'd think that some sort of civility would be better than all of this barely-veiled hostility.

But what do I know? Maybe there are some wounds that just won't heal. Still, if that's the case, I hope Celina manages to convince Sidwein to limit contact with her family. There's no point in continuing to hurt yourself.

And I really hope Celina, Tarien and this Jadin are working hard to do a better job with their own kids.

Van said...

I kind of wonder if Haldred is viewing the deaths of his children as a sort of karma, as if they'd still be alive if he'd paid more attention and been more attuned to them as individuals (and in Claddie's case, as well as maybe Riona's and Searle's, that could very well be true).

The "No" was pretty harsh, but they did take a low point of her life and drag it down to rock bottom, and I don't know if Celina will ever recover from that. I don't think shouting matches are Celina's style, but she does have a certain quiet hostility in her relationship with her father. Haldred's getting up in years, so who knows if they'll get to civil ground before his time is up. :S

But if Celina asks Sidwein to keep the contact with her family to a minimum, I'm sure he'd respect that.

So far, Celina and Tarien are both doing a much better job with their kids than their parents did (though Tarien may have had rough patches after the deaths of his first two wives). Jadin hasn't been married all that long, so he doesn't have any (known) kids yet, but I'm sure he'll be better than his parents as well. Plus he's probably one of the more well-adjusted kids; he's the youngest of them all, and he was lucky enough to be born after Riona's suicide.

Winter said...

Celina's response was harsh but appropriate. Asking for forgiveness and apologizing aren't the same. In Celina's position, I wouldn't be inclined to forgive Haldred. An apology doesn't make everything that happened go away, but it's an effort. Asking for forgiveness is asking Celina to cover the distance herself. It's too far for one person.

Patching things up with the remaining kids might be a lofty goal. If Haldred doesn't have time to build bridges, I hope he at least has time to give his children something to think about later. What they do with it is their business, but knowing he acknowledged being wrong might give them some comfort.

Van said...

Yeah, I think forgiveness is too much to ask of Celina at this point, not if all Haldred can offer is "sorry".

I can't remember off the top of my head how much time Haldred has, but he's sixty-one, which isn't exactly young given the year; if he can get back on even footing with the remaining kids, he can probably die content. And the kids will hopefully have some closure.

Mimus said...

I don't think Haldred asked Celina if she forgave him because he expected her to, but to see how much he had damaged that relationship. And he doesn't seem to want forgiveness, but rather wants to honestly apologize for all the mistakes he made despite maybe never being forgiven. That's more than most people would do (it's certainly more than people like Elarys or Ietrin would do, anyway...).

Van said...

It's certainly possible that Haldred meant for his question to function as a gauge. He does at least know that he hurt her, even if he is too late to do much about it, but you're right, some people never even clue in that much.