November 29, 2013

In Which Morgan Smiles Back

December 10, 1183

Morgan struggled to keep her calm as she carried Viridis into the front room. Now that Viridis had been fully weaned, she'd been dreading the day Lord Severin would call for her--though with every visit this past while, she'd lucked out and found he'd come for Vera or Lucien instead. She hoped that today would be no different.

"My lord."

"Morgan." He rolled his eyes, as he typically did whenever she called him that. Yet it would be a while before she was comfortable speaking to him on a first-name basis, especially if he'd come to reclaim his granddaughter from her care. "Viridis."

"Gampa!" The little girl beamed. Good to know that Morgan's own reservations had escaped her notice.

But perhaps she had no reason to worry today. Lucien was out and he'd taken his son with him, but Vera was upstairs, resting. She was about three months along now, and after her last pregnancy had ended in miscarriage, she was making a point to be cautious, at least in the delicate early stages. But she was starting to show now, growing a little less fearful, and Morgan had no doubt that she'd be starting her new job at the school come January with a cute little four-month bump to show for it.

As the father of twelve children and the grandfather of twenty-one--or sixteen and twenty-six, if stepchildren were to be counted--Lord Severin probably knew as much about pregnancy as any man ever could, so he was likely thinking along the same lines in regards to Vera. But maybe he was just worried enough that he'd figured he'd reassure himself with a call? "Vera's upstairs."

"I shall check on her later, then--but I actually came to talk to you."

Or not. "Oh."

"My apologies if that inspires any panic. I hope this conversation will be as painless as possible." He flashed her a quick grin, which she labored to return in kind. In her arms, little Viridis yawned. "Sounds like it's time for someone's nap."

Morgan swallowed. She'd just been about to put Viridis down for an hour or so, but Lord Severin's arrival had delayed that task. The way he saw it, though, she must have looked an unfit caregiver. Though... a man with that many children would have known that not all toddler needs were obvious enough to be predictable.

Then again, a man with that many children might have known a few indicators of which Morgan was unaware. In that case, at least Viridis would be better off. "Yes, well... I was just going to take her to her crib when you showed up. I'll just--"

"Actually, may I?" He held out his arms and gestured toward himself with the fingers of one hand. Awkward, Morgan handed Viridis over. "Thank you."

"Um... no problem."

"Ready for your nap, kitten?" Lord Severin asked as he gave his granddaughter a quick tickle beneath the arm. Viridis giggled, but quickly yawned again. "I thought so. Here, I'll take you to your crib and you can sleep while Morgan and I have a little chat."

"I can take her if you like." A bit more defensive than her usual offer, but from the sounds of it, he may have had cause for concern and she had to prove herself. But why? She was going to lose Viridis eventually, and she'd known that. Stupid...

"I know you can, but you do this every day. I don't mind doing it once." He kissed Viridis on the forehead as she slumped to his shoulder. "Does she fall asleep fairly easily, for the most part?"

Morgan nodded. At least she knew that detail.

"All right. I'll be back in a few minutes, then. Make yourself comfortable."

I doubt that's possible, Morgan thought as the pair of them started toward the stairs, but she took a seat at the dining table anyway. It was Vera's preferred chair--with only four of them at the large table each meal, it made more sense for them to keep to one side--but it was the nearest apart from the head of the table, and it seemed only proper to leave that seat open if one's guest was a lord. Vera wouldn't mind.

She supposed now that Viridis would never join them at the table, at least not often. By the time she was big enough to sit here, she'd be living with her grandfather. But why was she so bitter about this? Morgan liked to think of herself as a sensible person. She didn't discount emotions the way some seemed to, but she knew that her decisions were limited to the realm of her own life, and in terms of anyone else's... well, she could disagree, but she could not argue. She was only ever meant to be Viridis's nurse, for all she'd occasionally heard herself called 'Mama' and enjoyed it a little more than she should have. Viridis's real mother would have wanted her daughter to be raised by the same loving family that raised her, and Viridis's father had spent his last days making sure that happened. Who was Morgan to argue with their wishes?

Besides, Lord Severin didn't strike her as the possessive, jealous sort. Surely he'd let her visit if she asked nicely? And maybe it would be for the best. Morgan would be quite busy once the university opened.

She had a feeling she'd need that preoccupation.

"You were right. Little tyke barely even waited to touch the pillow."

Lord Severin had returned. As Morgan had predicted, he took the chair at the head of the table. "Are you all right? You look a little concerned."

"I'm fine," Morgan lied, though she doubted he'd believe her. "Just thinking."

"I see." He grabbed the seat of the chair and pulled himself in closer to the table. "Viridis really loves you a lot, you know."

Didn't a sweet little thing like Viridis love everybody? "I know."

"Every time I have her to myself, she keeps asking me where Mama Morgan is." Chuckling to himself, he rested one elbow on the side of the table. Morgan frowned. Sure, she hadn't thought him jealous, but he'd sounded more opposite than she could have expected. "Anyway, now that she's weaned, I figured we'd better talk."

Shit. There went every hope that this conversation could have been about anything else. Morgan stiffened in her seat. She supposed there was no sense in dragging this out. "You want her to come live with you."

"Actually, I was wondering if you might like to adopt her."

Eh? Morgan blinked. Sure, the thought had crossed her mind in her weakest moments, but she never would have asked... surely she'd never thought... "Are you serious?"

"When am I ever not serious? Well, aside from when I'm joking." He winked. Not sure what else to do with that--or if she was hearing correctly--Morgan grimaced. "But really, she adores you, and the poor thing has already lost two parents. It would be cruel to rob her of a third."

"I... suppose it would." And she couldn't help but smile a little more widely. But wasn't it cruel to him, keeping his granddaughter for herself? "But what about you?"

"What about me? This way, I don't have to make sure she eats her vegetables, or punish her when she misbehaves; I just get to spoil her rotten like I do all my other grandchildren, then leave you to deal with any unpleasant effects of that."

That... did make sense, at least for a man who was probably more in the emotional mindset of a grandfather in this stage of his life. Though Morgan did have to argue with one thing. "I'm sure she'll never be unpleasant."

"Oh, I wouldn't be too sure; all of my spawn and grand-spawn tend to be handfuls. Lovable handfuls, but handfuls nonetheless. Why, just last week, Roddie..." He shook his head, though a few hints of laughter slipped out between his teeth. "Ah, forgive an old man and his need to share stories no one wants to hear. But truly, if you'd like to adopt Viridis, I'd be more than happy to allow it. I just request that she keeps her original surname, for her birth parents' sake."

"That's a reasonable request." As if it mattered to Morgan what Viridis's surname was! "But yes. If you're willing, then I'd love to keep her."

He smiled--more sincerely than before, more seriously. As if to reassure her that everything would be all right. "All right. I'll have the paperwork drawn up today, then I'll bring it by tomorrow for you to sign. Will that work for you?"

And this time, it wasn't so tough to smile back. "Absolutely."



Van said...

Early today because I'll be out and about later.

Anonymous said...

YAY!!! Morgan gets to keep Viridis Jr.! And Severin was so sensible about it, too. This wasn't what Viridis and Searle had in mind, but they would want their little girl to be happy and loved -- and I'm sure she'll be both with Morgan.

Plus, as Severin pointed out, he still gets to spoil her rotten as Grandpa, so really everybody wins here.

Yay for everybody!

Van said...

Yep! Morgan gets to keep Viridis! And I think her birth parents would have been fine with this decision; they may not have had a chance to get to know Morgan too well, but she's proven by this point that she really cares about Viridis.

This will be the most convenient arrangement for everyone involved, methinks. :)

Ekho said...

This is such a sweet post, the whole time Morgan was feeling insecure I was wearing a smile knowing that Severin is not the type to induce a pain like losing a child - blood related or not. I agree with him it would be less than beneficial for Viridis to lose another parent.

Van said...

It's true that Severin wouldn't separate (good) parent and child if he could help it, even if the parent in question wasn't the official parent or guardian. But now Morgan will be the official parent and guardian! :)

Penelope said...

Aww, this was sweet. Congrats to Morgan and Viridis!

"All right. I'll have the paperwork drawn up today, then I'll bring it by tomorrow for you to sign. Will that work[ed] for you?"

I can has karma?

Van said...


Thanks for the catch. *gives karma* I'll get to that when I log in again with Firefox (I'm in Chrome right now, which never fails to mess up my formatting in some difficult-to-repair way or another).