November 25, 2013

In Which Rona Hears It Now

December 5, 1183

A character in an old childhood book had claimed that one never forgot the most frightening moments of his or her life.

Rona believed her. It had only been a couple hours, but the scene played again and again in her head like thespians in infinitely back-to-back performances. Her baby's screams from the bottom of the well. Yvanette's panic-induced deafness as Rona begged her to grab the rope, Ashe's command to pull them up after he'd climbed down to rescue her. She'd taken off her cloak and wrapped it around her daughter's sodden, shivering little body and rushed ahead as Ashe carried her, calling for warm towels and extra blankets and Yvanette's pink woolen nightgown. Poor girl was half-conscious and delirious by the time they tucked her into their bed.

And it was all Rona's fault.

The old steward had retired a month prior, so Ashe had hired Electra's husband, a grandson of old Widow Fedurin. Figuring Medur might bump any queue, Rona had sent him off to fetch his grandmother, and they'd returned within the hour. Yvanette hadn't woken, but she'd regained most of her color and her breathing had stabilized; Widow Fedurin had prescribed rest and fluids as a precaution, but had more or less declared that Yvanette would be fine. But since they hadn't given her the whole story, Rona wasn't so sure. 'Healthy' was not the same as 'fine'.

"I'm sorry, baby."

Yvanette rolled over, away from her. Rona tried to take that logically. There had been little room to roll toward her, and her hair was still damp enough to leave moisture on the pillow; Ashe had braided her hair to minimize its cold touch on her skin, but they had no means of drying it entirely, and the pillow would absorb whatever it could. Yvanette needed a dry place to lie her head, and her sleeping body knew it.

But it felt like her daughter wanted nothing to do with her. Rona couldn't blame her if that was true.

"She's not shivering any more." Ashe approached from the hearth and joined her at the bedside. Rona nodded, though she kept her eyes on Yvanette, just in case. She didn't know how Ashe could still stand to be around her, given what she'd forced him to do. She had half a mind to exile herself to her mother's home if he wouldn't throw her out, or would have if she'd been at all worthy of that refuge. Or if she could stand to leave not knowing if her baby was all right.

"I'm a horrible mother."

"You're not. You didn't know."

"Because she couldn't trust me. She was afraid of me." What sort of awful, sick mother inspired such fear in her own children? "You don't think any of the other cats--?"

"No." His voice was sure, like it had been when he'd tried to refuse her. Why hadn't she heard it then? "Your brother would have told you if he'd seen that aura on anyone else. That cat bite must have given her magic a way to manifest; it wouldn't have done a thing to someone without magic."

She knew that. That didn't make the thought go away. "I'm a terrible person."


"Don't lie to me." Beneath the covers, Yvanette stirred. A tear that had been seconds and hours and years in the brewing spilled.

"Not about this."



Van said...

So I've been congested for... a few solid months now. Seeing the doctor about it tomorrow. Here's hoping it's nothing too serious.

Orilon said...

*hugs* I was congested for months and it turned out I had a blocked sinus and had to have sinus surgery to unblock it. I'm hoping yours doesn't require surgery like mine did.

*Sigh* She may be physically "fine" (hopefully she doesn't catch a serious illness from this) but mentally is probably a whole different story.

Van said...

Sinus surgery? Yikes! :S I'm glad you got out of it okay, but that must have been awful.

My dad kind of thinks it's a sinus thing, because he has a bunch of sinus problems and he figures they must be genetic. My mom thinks it's some sort of adult-onset asthma. I'm not sure what I think it is; I'm just tired of coughing all night and it would be nice to have my singing voice back. So... I guess we'll see?

As of right now, I don't have any plans for Yvanette to develop anything worse than a chill (well, aside from the spontaneous kitten transformations). But yeah, she'll probably carry this incident for a while mentally, on top of all the other kitten angst. :(

Orilon said...

Sinus surgery on Valentine's day is not the most fun way to spend the day, and the next couple weeks sucked because I still had a hard time breathing because of tubes they left in my nose. Now its a lot easier to breathe so while it sucked at the time, I'm glad the doctor did it.

Ekho said...

Silly Rona. I expected she would blame herself, but in my opinion no one can claim the faults of fate, if anything her actions could have prevented something much more harmful happening to Yvanette..
I hope Ashe can handle both his wife and daughter in the next few days, both of them are going to need a lot of attention and understanding.

Hope you get better :S that must have been hell!

Anonymous said...

*fingers crossed that the doctor can help you, Van*

And, oh, poor Rona! Poor Yvanette! Poor Ashe! At least Yvanette transformed back relatively quickly (though not quickly enough). At least Ashe got her out of there before anything permanently damaging could happen.

And ... argh, it all makes too much sense that Rona would blame herself, and that Yvanette would have been scared of her. But I don't think a five-year-old is developmentally capable of understanding that even if your mother hates cats with the passion Rona does, she will make an exception if YOU are involuntarily turning into a cat. Parental love beats hatred of felines any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

Rona and Yvanette need to talk. A lot. I hope Ashe can push both of them (or at least Rona, given that she's the adult in the situation) to realize that. Yvanette might be scarred from this, but I honestly think it is something they can get through if Rona is willing to try hard enough.

Plus, who knows? Since I suspect that the Torgleid castle will soon be the Cat Sanctuary of Naroni, maybe Rona will get over some of her antipathy toward cats, and maybe Yvanette will feel that much more secure.

*fingers now crossed for the Torgleid family*

Van said...

Orilon: Ouch. :S Doesn't sound like fun, but yeah, glad it helped. The doctor didn't think my thing was a sinus problem, though. The results were kind of inconclusive, but it seems to be mostly a result of my living in a dry, high-elevation place (which is kind of weird, because I spent my whole childhood here... but I did university by the coast?).

Ekho: Rona's blaming herself, and I bet Ashe is blaming himself too. Healing and support will be needed all around here. :S

Morgaine: Yeah, it was a lucky thing Yvanette turned back when she did, even if it was on the late side. :S

You're right about Yvanette not getting that Rona's love for her would override her hatred of cats, but it does, and I think Rona's number one priority for the next while will be making sure that Yvanette knows that. Once they're past that point, they should be able to get through this, even though I doubt anyone will forget the incident.

And it wouldn't be the most surprising thing in the world if this pushed Rona to get over whatever is up with her and cats. Yvanette may still be uncomfortable, but you're right, she would feel more secure.

Penelope said...

Oh good lord! I didn't write this on the previous chapter, but I totally agree with Andavri that Rona is a brat and always has been. It has never really bothered me though until this moment. I mean, she is a brat but not a totally unlikable one. Way to turn your daughter's accident into your own personal pity party, Rona! Sheesh.

But just look how handsome Ashe is with his hair down and his little white shirt on. *hehehehe*

Van said...

Rona has always had shades of bratty in her and probably always will. She's also prone to a signature combination of self-loathing and histrionics, so even in emergencies, it does seem to be her pattern to--once everyone seems to be in the immediate clear--blame herself and wallow in that.

There is a reason I gave a bunch of my guys that shirt for lounging. ;)