September 23, 2013

In Which Octavius Lays the Blame

February 2, 1183

Sad as it was, it was a blessing that Ietrin was apparently more interested in running throughout the castle telling everyone from the steward to the apprentice cobbler's dog that he had a son than said "son" "himself". He'd held the baby for all of a minute, then handed her back to Jeda and left with a dance in his step Octavius never would have guessed he'd manage. It was an insult to Octavius's daughter and granddaughter both, but Ietrin's absence gave them a chance to talk--and as it turned out, Jeda couldn't have said much with her asshole husband around anyway.

"This is risky, Jeda."

"I know."

But it was too late to rethink it. Ietrin already thought he had a son, and he would not take kindly to the revelation otherwise. All they could do was keep up the lie and pray that the bastard fell on his own sword before any suspicious blood stains appeared on the Crown Prince's sheets.

"I'm sorry if this is a burden for either of you." Octavius took his eyes off his new granddaughter just long enough to watch his daughter wind a curl around her finger. Even as a child she'd done that when troubled, and Dea and Gennie both played with their hair as well. Octavius wondered if Jeda would let Hollie's grow to a length where she could too. "I just thought that you both had the right to know."

"It's fine," Sparron assured her, leaving Octavius to nod in agreement. "You shouldn't have to do this alone." She shouldn't have had to do this at all, but from what Octavius could guess, Ietrin hadn't left her much choice.

"So Camaline and Leara know, as well as Arydath." In front of him, the baby wriggled in her swaddling. She didn't know. She didn't know what boys and girls were yet, never mind which she was. There must have been a precedent for this at some point in history, and Octavius decided he'd spend the his evening in the library looking for it. He had to be sure that whoever it was hadn't been traumatized upon finding out the truth. "Who else?"

"My maid, and her sister, who I'm going to hire as the nanny. She... well, she was under pressure from her late husband, so she understands." In the interests of the woman's privacy, Octavius didn't ask. He just hoped that neither servant found a reason to betray their queen. "Do you think Hollie will forgive me? Whenever she finds out?"

The baby squirmed again. Octavius grabbed the side of the cradle and rocked it gently. "I'm sure she will, in time. She'll know one day that you're not the one to blame."



Van said...


Winter said...

I suppose it's possible Hollie could hold this against Jeda, but I have to think forgiveness will win out. If Ietrin survives till Hollie hits puberty, it's long enough to see how her sisters are treated and why. If not, it might be too early for it to matter too much to Hollie. Either way, this isn't a Laralita situation where nobody sane is on her side - if Hollie doesn't become a blind devotee of Ietrin, she'll have to see that the good guys are almost uniformly for Jeda. She might even relish the chance to be something other than a royal lady.

... Or she could have wanted to be king and be pissed, the way Dea probably would be. Still, Hollie, forgive Jeda. It's all Daddy's fault.

Van said...

The good news for both Jeda and Hollie on this front is that the whole scheme will require Jeda to be the most prominent figure in Hollie's life, so it seems very likely that Hollie will be much more attached to Jeda than to Ietrin (and even if Hollie had been a boy, that would still probably be the case; it doesn't look like Ietrin cares to be an involved parent beyond bragging about his son), so even if she placed blame on Jeda for a little while, I'm sure she'd eventually forgive her.

Good point about her seeing how Dea and Gennie are treated, especially since the age gaps are pretty wide. She'll probably notice a lot of forgotten birthdays, thoughtless presents, freedom restrictions, repulsive-but-politically-convenient suitors and "Do you really need university?" long before the sex hormones start having much of an effect.

It should be interesting to see if Hollie ends up with Dea's inclination for politics. It's certainly possible that she might. She could also turn out more like Gennie, who is more of a "princess" princess. Then of course, she might also be like both or neither of her sisters.

Wonder how Dea feels about the new baby "brother"...

Penelope said...

I feel a little bad for Octavius. He must feel like such a failure looking at the relative happiness of his children and the choices that they are forced to make in life.

Hunh. So I don't suppose that Dea and Gennie are going to be any the wiser about their new little brother. I wonder how it would affect them to find out that Holladrin is indeed a girl. No doubt that there will be some feelings about the way that Ietrin treats the new baby in contrast to the way that the older girls are treated. What happens if/when they find out that the brother who was privileged over them is really no different?

Van said...

Particularly regarding Jeda, Octavius does feel useless and inadequate. He wants nothing more than to rip Ietrin's face off and make him eat it, but it's tough to get away with doing that to a king.

For now, Jeda won't be telling either of her older daughters the true sex of their new sibling. She may tell them when they're older, once she's sort of felt them out for how they might react. They could very well resent Hollie for being treated like the precious son their father always wanted, or they might be outraged at their parents on her behalf. Or they may completely see where Jeda was coming from.

In any case, I don't think either of them is loyal enough to their father (or hell, ignorant enough of how he'd take it) to tell him, at least when they're at the age to be keeping dangerous secrets.

Ekho said...

Hmm. This raises a lot of conversation of the whole gender fiasco. I'm curious how you're going to develop Hollie as a character, with the influence that she is in fact male. At some point I imagine she'd put it together, who knows though, maybe she will be completely comfortable as a male, though I wonder about the day she develops a crush on a friend who is also, male ;)

Van said...

It should be interesting writing Hollie as she grows up. She might figure out that she's a girl long before her mother considers telling her, or she might accidentally reveal herself to someone out of the loop who might spill the beans.

But yes, she might be totally comfortable being a boy. As for future crushes... well, she's still a baby, so who knows if she likes boys or girls or both or neither. Either way, though, things could get very interesting...

Ekho said...

I'm sure her uncle will be there to turn to about any feelings she grows into :3

Van said...

Sparron will be a valuable resource no matter what.