December 30, 2013

In Which Severin Tries Something Strange

April 9, 1184

Three months in and so far, school was a colossal disappointment.

The students were divided into four classes according to their ages. Severin was in the oldest class, ages thirteen through fifteen, taught by Lady Xeta. On paper, it was a good deal--no annoying kids.

But then he'd had to start spending time with people his own age, only to find that they weren't all that much better. Arguably worse, even. At least little kids were aware that they were annoying, and would cut it out if called out harshly enough--and would even leave you alone if you really got the point across.

People his age, though... not so much. People his age liked to talk smack about each other behind their backs, or to their faces, or in that passive-aggressive compromise between the two; the phrase "Oh, I didn't know you were here!" might have been the most frequently spoken sentence in class. The girls called each other fat. The boys shoved each other about and threw their fists in each other's face. And most of them found all of this social bullshit much more interesting than the actual curriculum, which explained why they were all so fucking stupid.

And why all of the work was so mind-numbingly easy that Severin had stopped bothering to return to class after the lunch break.

Normally he left the school grounds, but he was quickly running out of ways to kill time before he could meet up with his siblings and head back home, and there weren't many more favors he could do for Alina to keep her from telling their mother. This way, if she tattled, at least he was, technically, still at school.

That, and the only reason he still bothered to show up for morning lessons had chosen to linger on the grounds too.

Nearina Tamrion had only been in class for a week, and Severin wasn't sure why he'd made a point to remember her name; there was only one other classmate whose name he knew for sure, and that was only because they'd once spent nine months cramped in the same uterus. She didn't say much, and no one else seemed to find her too interesting. She was a noble, so the commoners assumed she couldn't be bothered with them, but the other nobles seemed to give her her space too. The Kemorin kid--Roddie?--had talked to her a couple times, but that kid had a ton of friends and there was only so much of him to go around, and Nearina had only half-listened from what Severin could tell anyway.

He wasn't sure why he found her so interesting. She didn't seem to do much other than sit there and stare blankly. She wasn't doing too well in school if her non-answers to Lady Xeta's questions said anything, but Severin was telling himself that it was because she'd started three months later than the others; if he had to have a crush on someone, he didn't want it to be anybody stupid. He supposed he liked that she wasn't pretty. Her face was peppered with freckles and she had bags under her eyes more days than she didn't. She was bone thin and he feared her slender neck might snap under the weight of her disproportionate head. None of the other boys had looked twice at her, nor did she get any jealous glares from the other girls.

But she was beautiful. He wasn't sure why, but she was. Maybe it was the eyes, blue as sapphires between her brown hair and her brown dress. Or maybe it was something deeper, something hidden. Severin didn't really want to think about it. That romantic crap made him want to puke.

He ventured another look at her. He probably could have stared all he wanted--he doubted she'd even noticed he was still there--but he got the feeling she didn't like to be looked at, and since he could relate, he'd resolved to limit himself. But for someone who didn't know he was there, she looked damn uncomfortable. Was she sick, maybe? Her face was all scrunched up, and she kept pawing at the ground with her slipper, somewhat like Teodrin's cat did when she was...

No. Not sick. In pain.

"Uh... Nearina?"

She jumped in her seat. Severin cringed; he hadn't wanted to startle her. But if she was hurt...

He rose from his own bench and headed over to hers. Her gemstone eyes drooped, like they couldn't take the sight of him at such close range. "Sorry, uh... you're Severin, right?"

She knew his name? He wouldn't have guessed she'd been paying that much attention. Then again, Lady Xeta did yell at him quite a bit, and rather loudly...

"Yes. But, uh... you looked kind of uncomfortable." And probably felt it. He knew he did.

"Why do you care?"

Huh. That sounded like something he would say. Maybe that was why he liked her--not that he had any prior evidence to go on. "Trying to be nice, I guess?" God, that felt strange.

"Sorry." She looped a finger beneath her hanging belt as her hands met in her lap. He doubted she actually was sorry, but why the hell was she apologizing anyway? It was natural to be suspicious, especially if she'd been hurt in the past--and he got the feeling that she had been. "Most boys don't try."

"Most boys are idiots. Most people in general are." She glanced down, but he thought he saw a tug at her lips. A small smile. Didn't do much for the strain, though. "So... what's the matter? Can I help?"

"Uh, well..." She raised her head, sapphire eyes catching a few sparks of high noon sun. Dark blue, deep blue. He was used to lighter, grayer blues that never sparkled much. "It's my... my monthly..."

"Oh." Well... he wouldn't presume to know anything firsthand about that. But he had a mother, and sisters, and sisters-in-law--and while they could usually power through it, they'd all had times when they'd had to sit down for a while, even lie down for a while. And the staff were all women; they'd understand, wouldn't they?

"Do you want me to take you to the infirmary?"


"So... is she all right?"

It wasn't Severin's first time seeing Lady Camaline--technically Princess Camaline, but all of the staff used 'Lady' in the school--in her office, but it was the first time Lady Xeta hadn't sent him. It was also the first time she'd seen him after the lunch hour in quite some time, but with Nearina's condition, she hadn't mentioned that.

"She, uh..." Lady Camaline sighed. Severin got the sense that she didn't know quite what Nearina was going through. Maybe she was one of the lucky ones who just got four days of light bleeding and no cramps? Not that he was itching to inquire about his principal's courses. "I haven't heard of anyone dying of a course, but she does seem to be in a lot of pain. I don't think she'll be able to return to class any time soon."

"Will she be able to get home all right?" She'd said as he'd taken her inside that she lived with her uncle, Sir Garrett. His castle wasn't too far, but it wasn't across the street either.

"On her own? I wouldn't send her out just now." Lady Camaline's eyes flickered to the door. "Severin, be honest with me: are you planning on returning to class today?"

Well, if anyone could say a good thing about him, it was that he was honest. "Wasn't even considering it."

"Do you know how to ride?" He nodded. "Good. I want you to take my horse--the white mare--and ride to Nearina's uncle's castle. Tell Lady Nanalie to head over here immediately, and to bring the wagon. After that, ride to Sir Tarien's and tell Lady Arydath to pay Nearina a visit, some time today if she can. Then go home and have your mother scold you for cutting class, and commend you for helping someone in need. Your father can return the horse tomorrow morning."

Maybe he'd skip the part with his mother. But the rest, he could do. "All right."

"And before you go, I want you to explain to Lady Xeta that you'll be out on a favor to me, then tell her to report to the infirmary. I'll cover her classes until Lady Nanalie arrives; Lady Xeta will be a better help to Nearina than I would be."



Van said...

So, no post tomorrow, since I won't be around for most if not all of the day. Possibly a post on Wednesday, but time might be tight, so it might not be until Thursday.

Sorry about that--and in the mean time, Happy New Year! Here's hoping 2014 kicks 2013's sorry ass to Neptune and back.

Orilon said...

Happy New Year! 2013 sucked for me and it appears it sucked for a lot of other people. I'm going to deal with fall out from 2013 in 2014 but I really hope its going to be a much better year for everyone.

I agree with Severin that Nearina is beautiful, even though she doesn't seem to see it from lack of self esteem (pretty obvious as to why she lacks it, I just hope she can eventually gain some away from her asshole father.)

Van said...

I didn't have a great 2013 either, especially November. *shakes fist at November 2013, quite possibly the worst month of my life* A lot of general lousy shit happened on a global level as well. Universe, you owe us all a good year!

She is a good-looking Sim, even if she doesn't believe it. She looks too much like her father to be conventionally pretty, but her parents' genes combined quite well with her. I don't think her brothers have quite the same spark.

Ekho said...

Oh gosh, Severin makes so much sense to me. I'm glad he's not like the rest of the sheep, and his cynical outlook is almost refreshing :P
"Wasn't even considering it." - Loved that line, beautifully honest haha.
I can't wait to find out about Nearina's past, and I have a feeling Severin would make good company for her in Naroni - fingers crossed!
Happy New Year! (Count yourself lucky, you're one of three I've bothered to say that to today) it's 1:33 AM Wednesday January 1st down under, and I hope 2014 brings nothing but good times for you!

Van said...

I have a colossal soft spot for smart, cynical, misfit teenagers. :)

Rina's story will come out in the next post, though she's not actually in it. Severin might just be one of the characters who can get past it, even understand it.

Still New Year's Eve here--heading out for a party in a few hours, which should be... um, interesting. I hope 2014 has been good to you so far!

Ekho said...

Also, I just noticed Camaline's dress. Looks lovely. It must be hard for her to be in this position, but she handled it well, and frankly I'm impressed with how Severin respected Nearina's privacy while still caring for her health. He's right up there on my favourites list now :D

Anonymous said...

Thetis, congratulations! You did something COLOSSALLY right with your Severin! (Nothing against the other Severins -- they just aren't the ones being Rina's knight in sour armor right now.)

And I'm giving Thetis the credit because, as much as I love me some Florian and know he's got a good heart under all that ... Florian, I think Thetis would be the one best able to make good-heartedness come out. Heck, she did it with Florian, no wonder she's doing it with Severin too.

Still, poor Rina. :( I hope that Arydath and Nanalie between them can come up with something to make her monthly a bit easier. I know that nowadays hormonal birth control can be used to help painful periods, but they aren't quite at that level yet.

Are we sure none of the cambions have healing powers?

Still, I'm glad Sev did the right thing with Rina -- and I really hope that once she's ready for a knight in sour armor, he can be her knight for a long time to come.

*waves Severina flag*

Van said...

Ekho: Eehee... all of the staff are wearing Camaline's dress. It's part of the University outfit superpack Morgaine made for me, found here.

This was a tough conversation for Camaline, but she handled this like she handles her other tough conversations: get through it logically, get through it quickly. In this case, it worked well, and Xeta will be sympathetic both to Rina and to Camaline.

If there's one thing Severin knows how to do in regards to behaving himself, it's minding his own business. If and when Rina wants to tell him, she will, but until then, he won't push.

Morgaine: I think Thetis would have loved to see this moment! Severin is kind of her "problem child", and he's probably the one she worries about most. Well... him and maybe Teodrin, but it's health things with Teodrin, behaviour things with Severin. If she hears about this, she'll be greatly reassured (even if she does hear the skipping school part as well).

Alas, you're right--the birth control herbs used by many currently fertile Naronian ladies are nowhere near the level of modern hormonal birth control. They can help prevent pregnancy to the extent that it is convenient to Author Almighty, but if they can do anything to help extreme period pains, it would be a happy accident.

But Arydath and Nanalie will know what's going on, and that will be a start, especially since Nanalie lives with Rina and can be on call whenever they're both home.

None of the current cambions have healing powers, unfortunately. The element stuff the Kemorins can sometimes do is standard across the board, and full cambions each have an extra power. Morgan has a sort of clairvoyance, and Lucien... well, he doesn't like to talk about it, so we can assume it's not something he'd like to make use of, like healing. Figures... Laveria's might have been healing-related. :S

But yeah, Severin did the right thing, which I think is his instinct deep down. He can be an ass, but he does have a good heart if you can get past everything else.

I don't think Rina will be feeling up to a relationship for a while, as we'll soon see. But a good friendship will go a long way, and it could always turn into something more.

Winter said...

Severina has an excellent ring to it, if and when Rina is ready/interested. It would also be good for her to just have a friend for a while, too. Severin, of anyone, seems suited to the sort of no-pressure, few-questions acquaintance that would help right now. (And maybe he can put his bitterness to use someday and go tie her father to a wild horse.)

Camaline is doing really well as headmistress - definitely better than she might have a few years ago. She's quickly climbing the ranks of awesome Naroni characters for me.

Van said...

It's a little early to call Severina a realized ship, but just having someone around who's not going to pry too much and if anything appreciates the novelty of someone with a mystery. I would also not call Severin the last candidate for tying Rina's father to a horse. ;)

Camaline is doing quite well so far! She's gained quite a bit of perspective in the past few years.

Penelope said...

Lying around, thinking about how obnoxious everyone is? Finding niceness and romance strange and repulsive respectively? Honest to a fault? OH BOY! That kid's paternity is soooo not in question. It would be hilarious if this chapter was otherwise so incredibly not funny.

Penelope said...

Oh man, I really need to read before I hit "post". There were words missing from that last sentence. "It would be hilarious is not for the fact that this chapter was otherwise so incredibly not funny."

Ay ay ay.

Van said...

Oh, Severin is definitely his father's son. ;)