September 9, 2013

In Which Morgan Delegates the Phrase to Be Coined

November 15, 1182

"Well?" Vera let go of Morgan's wrist and twirled toward the wall, only to wheel back and face her with a smile. "What do you think?"

If it was merely a question of whether she liked it, Morgan had a straightforward answer--and Vera, she suspected, already knew it. It was a good-sized room for a solitary adult, not lacking in any crucial bedchamber furnishing while still leaving plenty of room to move about. The bed was a single, but it wasn't a master bedroom, nor was it some sort of heir's quarters--Vera and Lucien had a house, after all, and not a castle--so that was to be expected. There was a reasonably-sized dresser, as well as a night-table and a well-stocked bookshelf, and while a writing desk in the room itself would have left it over-crowded, there was one just outside the door, off to the wall of the landing.

But Vera hadn't asked whether Morgan liked it. She had asked what she thought. Morgan thought that the bed's purple blanket--purple, her favorite color since she'd first grasped the concept of color as a whole--was a rather obvious hint, and that the crib and the changing table, also set with purple fabric, drove the message dangerously close to the level of overkill. She supposed it was nice to be wanted.

"It... it's very nice." She smiled, hoping it didn't come across as a grimace. She liked Vera, and she liked Lucien, even though he was a bit... strange. She liked their son, who was young enough to consent to playing with Viridis but old enough to know to be gentle with her. She even liked their dog, Whisper, inappropriately named as she was. And while Lord Severin had assured her that she was welcome to stay at the castle as long as she liked, that household was more than crowded enough without the orphaned granddaughter's nurse to add to the mix.

And she guessed she knew where Vera was coming from. To hear Lady Leonora tell it, Vera and her older sister Riona were a mere eleven months apart and had always been grouped with the same set of potential friends--and while Vera didn't seem to have any explicit animosity with any of them, they had all gravitated more toward boisterous, wild, unpredictable Riona. Morgan didn't think herself shy, but she'd never had friends growing up either. Old Greta Kellius had already been somewhat of an outcast long before the mysterious foster daughter appeared out of nowhere.

Still, even if they were on their way to becoming friends, they hadn't known each other long. Morgan wasn't sure if moving was the best idea just now anyway. If she moved, then Viridis had to move, and it seemed wrong to deprive Lord Severin and his family of her, even though Viridis would be back with them as soon as she was weaned. And how difficult it would be, giving Viridis back--even if Lord Severin had promised she could see her whenever she liked! Morgan had already lost one baby.

And what of Vera and Lucien? Vera had confided her worries during their previous visit, saying she'd had one suspected miscarriage since little Severin had been born and other than that nothing, but Morgan doubted that was anything too abnormal; surely it was only a matter of time before there was another child beneath the roof, and then another, on and on until this room was needed for someone who couldn't possibly house themselves?

"Oh, good!" Vera clasped her hands together and skipped in place. The room shrunk a little. "I was worried that you'd call me out for being horribly transparent. Forgive me, but it does tend to get a little lonely here when Lucien's at the archives, and the prospect of having both you and my niece around is... well, quite a hopeful thing."

"It's all right. I... I do know what it's like to be lonely." A little too well, she thought, even if she'd never shared Vera's family's need for constant noise and rowdy drunken parties. As a child, her physical world had consisted of her foster mother's stall in the village market and her cottage on its outskirts, and rarely had anyone else spoken to her if not for a business transaction. When Old Greta had died, Morgan had continued her work, not knowing what else to do, not forming any connections until chance had brought her Lonan. Then he'd died and his father had wasted no time in throwing her out, only a purse of coins and a book of legends and a soon-to-be-pawned wedding band to her name, and she'd gone back to her solitary wise woman's existence.

She'd soon discovered that Lonan had left her more than the book, but even the baby came and went. Her father's grave off-limits, Morgan had buried her beside her grandmother and namesake before she'd answered the call of Viridis.

Viridis wouldn't be forever either. "Really."

"Oh." Vera seemed to get it. Vera's father often seemed to 'get it' as well, but he had an acute sense of when things were best left unspoken. Morgan couldn't count on Vera having inherited that as well. "You... you had a baby, didn't you?"

Morgan nodded. She wondered if the image of the unbreathing, blood-drenched infant would ever leave her in peace. "Greta. She was stillborn."

Vera said nothing. When Morgan had met Riona and her husband, Riona's response had been, following a customary somber apology, a suggestion that she may yet have another. Isidro had smacked himself in the forehead behind her back and Morgan aimed for a cordial distance from the both of them for the rest of that evening. Vera was, at least, more like her father than her sister in that sense.

"I'm sorry to hear that."

Funny phrase, that. No one could really say much about bad news, except that they hadn't cared to be told. She knew Vera hadn't meant it as such, but she hoped one day that someone would coin a less semantically selfish stock-phrase. Perhaps she would delegate that task to one of the characters in her book--a wise old peasant man, perhaps, or a sorceress of great power and meager orthodoxy, or a stuttering, oft-underestimated artist of profound hidden strength.

And then, what did one answer? It was not 'all right', and she was not 'thankful'. And while she knew reality all too well, she didn't think she had quite 'come to terms with it'. "Well... Viridis helps. I mean, she's not a replacement--she's her own self--but... I guess..."

"You ease each other's suffering?"

That didn't sound quite right either--more like a twisted symbiosis of motherless child and childless mother than any genuine affectionate bond. Morgan adored Viridis, and sometimes, a twinkle in her brown eyes or a well-timed coo made her think the feeling may have been mutual. But there was not a phrase for that, not yet. Old Greta had often said that languages of the heart didn't translate well. "I suppose that's one way of putting it."

NEXT CHAPTER:

7 comments:

Van said...

Here, have an extra picture of smiling Vera that I gave up trying to fit into the post.

Penelope said...

It sounds like Morgan is one step shy of strapping that baby to her back and heading for the hills. Heh, that would make for an interesting subplot.

And I like Vera's dress.

Hey look, it's Falidor! It's so rare to see him these days, he's like Naroni's own little unicorn.

*disjointed comment is disjointed*

Van said...

It's possible. Though while Morgan isn't at her best right now, I don't know if she's about to run off with Viridis; she seems a little too meta-cognitive to mistake that for a good idea. Would be interesting, though.

That dress does suit Vera, methinks.

It has been a while since we last saw Falidor! Unicorns indeed. XD

Winter said...

*Is glad she wasn't the only one noticing Vera's dress*

I really enjoyed Morgan's PoV here. The frankness of her internal dialogue underlines how she's hurting more than spoken words could. Noisy or not, the Kemorin clan is a good fit for her right now. They're an accepting bunch, and not the type to tell her (or subconsciously suggest) how she ought to be feeling or grieving. I think she and Vera will be good for each other, too. They can both use a good friend when Morgan is ready.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, I laughed at Riona putting her foot in her mouth. The face-palm must have been priceless.

Van said...

I picked good when I dressed adult Vera! :)

Thanks! Morgan is hurting more than she's verbally expressing right now, I'm thinking partly for lack of a confidante (though who knows? Maybe Vera could be that when they know each other a bit better), partly for the possibility of being told that she's "doing it wrong" in terms of grief. You're right, Vera and the rest of the Kemorins will be good for her, both now and as she recovers/figures out what she wants to do next.

Trust Riona to put her foot in her mouth. XD That was probably not Isidro's first face-palm.

morgaine2005 said...

I like Vera's dress, too. And of course I looove Morgan's. ;)

Poor Morgan, though. Seems to me like she's struggling with a bit of depression ... and who could possibly blame her? If death of husband + surprise pregnancy + stillborn baby isn't a good recipe for depression, what is?

(Hopefully her writing will help her deal with all of that.)

And I have to wonder ... would it be possible for Morgan to adopt wee Viridis? Certainly not cut her off from her grandfather (although cutting her off from the Androneis may not be an altogether bad idea), but why couldn't Morgan have her own little cottage and live there with Viridis someday? The Kemorin household certainly doesn't need more people.

Still, I hope Morgan can find some happiness or at least some peace soon. Hopefully the friendship with Vera works out well. :)

Van said...

That is indeed a good recipe for depression. :S Morgan seems to be coping fairly well, but you can't 'cope' if there isn't an issue in the first place. But writing can be very therapeutic. And it's only a matter of time before she makes more friends in Naroni and maybe gets a job or something and has a chance to take her mind off her troubles and heal.

I would not say that an adoption is impossible. ;) If Morgan and Viridis bond and don't want to be parted, I'm sure Severin would be happy to let Morgan adopt Viridis and he could just be her grandfather instead of having to be a surrogate father as well. You're right, his castle is crowded enough as it is...