December 15, 2013

In Which Alina Puts Forth Her Choice

January 17, 1184

Alina found her father downstairs, seated at his usual place at the table. Lea and Thetis were amusing themselves by doing each other's hair, a pastime Alina had sometimes regretted not being able to enjoy with them. Rahileine was down for her nap, and Congren was helping Had with a laboring cow. Her timing could not have been better.

But if only she could have had this conversation with her mother first!


Her father looked up, smiling. She hoped he could keep that grin up once this was over. He would be reasonable, sure... but he wouldn't understand. "Hello, Alina."

"Can we talk?"

"Of course." He nodded toward the seat beside him. Alina trudged down the rest of the steps and took it, all the while grasping for any words that might have made this easier.

They were few and far between. "Father, I'd like to talk about... my future."

"Oh." Her father blinked. She supposed she couldn't blame him for not expecting this. She'd only just turned fourteen, after all. "You're not in trouble, are you?"

"No, of course not." Was it strange if, as he sighed with relief, she wondered if that might have been easier? Most girls her age had at least thought about it--not getting into trouble, but the act that might have gotten her into trouble. Alina hadn't the slightest shred of interest. After she'd first bled, she'd expected to feel some sort of urge toward some boy or another, but it hadn't happened. Not once.

She'd wondered briefly if she might have been that other sort of woman, but no urges of that variety had ever come about either. It got to the point where she'd snuck out one night to Aerina Frey's place for a check-up, just in case there was something wrong with her. One painful examination later and she'd been declared fine. Some people just don't need or want sex, the healer had assured her. You're still young, so it may happen yet, but if it doesn't... well, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you.

She hoped her father thought along similar lines. "Well, that's a relief. But what is this about, then? If you're worried that I'm going to make you study Economics like your brother, I'll tell you right now that I fully intend to let you choose your own major."

"It's not my major. It's just..." Alina swallowed. Her father had probably expected something else for her, something he perceived as better. Maybe it was better for some, maybe even most. But not for her. "...I'm thinking of taking the veil."

"Oh." Her father slumped back, brow raised, mouth fighting against a frown. She supposed she couldn't blame him. Most stories he knew of young people joining the church were not exactly happy ones--men born with one older brother too many, women who couldn't find husbands and whose families wouldn't take the extra burden, mortally ill youths sent to the cloister to die in relative peace and comfort. She hoped he'd at least recognize that unlike those poor unfortunates, Alina had a choice. "Alina... have you thought this through?"

"I have, Father--and for your comfort, I've decided not to start my novitiate until I'm sixteen, just in case I change my mind." That part was for his benefit. She didn't think she would. "The truth is, I have no interest in marrying or bearing children or--" Could she say 'sex' to her father? If only her mother were still alive! "--anything of the like. If I become a nun, I can help people through various charities, and maybe even start a few of my own. I'd also have ample time to study and meditate, and perhaps make some contributions that way."

"I could fund your research if you'd prefer that to a husband."

"I couldn't ask you to do that--not when the church has resources that even most lords couldn't buy." Her father's eyes met the table. She had him there. "Father, I wouldn't be one of those heavily-cloistered nuns who never leave their convents. We'd still see each other."

"Yes, of course." He bit his lip. No, he didn't understand. She hadn't expected he would. But at least he wasn't angry? "Well... it's your life, and your decision. And you know I'll stand by whatever choice you make. However, as you said, I would prefer that you wait until you're sixteen to begin, and not just because I haven't had my fill of you here. Not many leave a nunnery with their reputation intact, and I want you to know for sure that that's what you want before you reach the point of no return."

Alina nodded. Her father was nothing if not practical. "I understand."

"And whatever happens, I hope you know that you'll always have a home here."

"I know." And if that was the last of what he had to say, then this could have gone much worse. "Thank you."



Van said...

More Christmas baking commences tomorrow...

Winter said...

This was interesting. I can see how this might suit Alina, so long as her interests don't change. Will she be going to the university during her novitiate? She might enjoy being on the staff there, even if she takes the veil in the end. Her goals sound more academic & charitable than religious. There's nothing wrong with being a nun, obviously, but it would be sad to think she would make such a major choice because of her asexuality(?).

Van said...

Alina is quite studious, as well as generous, so I could see her possibly opting to be a nun even if she was sexually attracted to some variety of individual. That said, she's still got plenty of time to back out if she changes her mind.

She's not any more or less religious than the average teenage girl in her society, but she does seem to see some advantages to becoming a nun. That said, I would hope that the parts that cater to her academic and charitable interests are the most appealing factors to her, and that she doesn't see it as her only choice given her asexuality (though, alas, some part of her might).

Borrowing from the Albion model, novitiates will be allowed (and will actually be encouraged, to the point of the church covering their tuition) to attend the university, especially if they pursue a theology major (though they're not required to do so). Alina could very well end up teaching at the university, either as a clergy professor or a secular professor.

Ekho said...

This reminds me of my friend who believes she is asexual, she was in an abusive relationship with a man for several years and it got to the point that she's now so detached from her sexuality she has no feelings towards either sexes. I hope Alina figures out what she wants for herself, and that she has the support of her family no matter what. She's brave to be making such a mature choice, and standing up for what she believes in.

Van said...

Yikes! It's good to hear that your friend got out of the relationship in the end, but awful to hear that the asshole put her through that in the first place. :S I hope she's had a chance to heal.

Alina's only fourteen, so it may be a little early to be calling the shots on her sexuality with absolute certainty. That said, if she gets a little older and she knows for sure that she is asexual, she does have her options, and she's mature and self-aware enough to take them.