January 29, 2014

In Which Severin Charts the Cycle

July 19, 1184

"Look, she showed up out of the blue with nowhere else to go and all she wanted was a chance, so why shouldn't I have given it to her?" Severin tried to keep from sighing as he watched Abrich's lashes fold into each other, annoyed. He did understand the worry. He'd worried when his sons had started their training, which was partly why he'd chosen to train the older three himself, and why he'd sent the younger three no further than their in-shire brothers and brother-in-law. If his daughters had shown any interest in pursuing the path to knighthood--or did, if he supposed it wasn't too late for Thetis--he would have preferred some firsthand involvement in their progress as well.

But for some fathers of some daughters, firsthand involvement might not have been enough, and Abrich might have been 'some fathers'. But what did 'some fathers' know? If Renata found no joy in stitching samplers or music lessons, why should she be forced to endure them--especially given her undeniable talents in other areas? "If it makes you feel at all better, I did ask your mother, as Renata's closest in-country relative. She took no issue with your daughter's training."

"So my mother still overrides my authority at my age. Yes, that makes me feel so much better." Thirty-six or not, it would have been a nasty barb to tell Abrich he'd miss his mother's overriding when she was gone, so Severin saved it. It was the question of the younger Renata at hand anyway. "Look, Odette's in the middle of a pregnancy right now, and she hit the roof when Renata disappeared like that. This stress isn't good for her or the baby--or anyone else in the household."

"Is it really any less stressful for Odette when Renata is there? All I've heard is that she expects Renata to be the perfect little lady and gets in a huff when she can't do that." Not for the first time since Renata had arrived, Severin wondered if Abrich knew that Odette had been one of the women Roderick had paraded in front of him after Alina's death. Given that she might have been among the least objectionable of the lot had it not been for her young age, it was a shame to think she'd turned out to be so restrictive a mother. Another arrow dodged. "It seems to me as if this would be better for the both of them."

"I've considered sending Renata somewhere else--to Karlspan and Cladelia, perhaps. But even if they don't get along, she's still Odette's eldest, and I won't have her off pursuing some passing fancy of which her mother disapproves."

Perhaps this was why Renata and CeeCee has so easily bonded. CeeCee's high academic standards weren't taken seriously either. "Abrich, this isn't a 'passing fancy'. Even without any formal page training, she has more raw talent than any other squire I've trained. More discipline too." Possibly because she had more of a need to prove herself. Her parents presented ample evidence of that. "If you give me a few years, I'm certain I could make an excellent knight of her."

"A knight? Do you want to give her poor mother an apoplexy?"

"Why on earth should Renata's success give her mother an apoplexy?" Why couldn't some people realize that there were as many ways to be successful as there were people on the planet? "So what if her interests and skills aren't what Odette always expected from a daughter? A parent ought to be supportive."

Abrich sniffed, one hand raised to scratch at his newly-grown beard. God, he was young--young enough that one day, he might be able to look back on this with a fresher, wiser perspective.

But also young enough that he should have remembered what it was to desire. "I love my daughter. I don't want life to be hard for her. The world is cruel to those who are different."

And so it was. That didn't change much. "Pretending to be the same isn't any easier than being different. The only way Renata will ever be happy is if she gets to make that decision for herself."

It might have been a foreign concept, choice. Abrich himself had been heir to his father's lands and title, his whole future mapped for him since they'd pulled him from his mother--and while Severin couldn't claim to know him well, he doubted that Abrich had truly wanted to be lord deep down. Those without choice took no issue with denying the choice of others.

And that was the true cruelty of the world. It ran pattern upon pattern, cycle upon cycle, misery becoming bitterness, then viciousness, and misery again. "Don't make my wife and I the villains."



Van said...

Happy birthday, Winter! :)

Orilon said...

It seems that if Severin had ended up with "Tomboyish" Renata's mother, they would have been constantly butting heads over his more "outlandish" (for the times) ideas.

Van said...

Yeah, they wouldn't have been too happy together. Also, Odette is about Raia's age, which would have squicked Severin out even if she was otherwise perfect for him.

Ekho said...


I was going crazy waiting for an update and kept refreshing blogger, it didn't show this update! Grrrr!

"The world is cruel to those who are different."
I can understand where Abrich is coming from, if anything he's trying to protect Renata - which is better than trying to control her. I wonder if his main fear is in fact his wife's reaction or the reaction of people in general, and if that's the case, maybe he needs to spend a little more time in Naroni.
I wonder if it's the fear that people will judge and mistreat Renata, or that they will judge and mistreat his family name. Is he just trying to uphold some kind of flawed standard of reputation?
Either way, maybe Severin should invite Abrich to spar with Renata, and she can knock some sense into him!

Van said...

Blogger seems to be having an issue with its blog rolls. I haven't seen your update on mine either (I'll get to it right after I reply here), and a quick check of a few other familiar blogs reveals the same problem.

Abrich's not a super jerk, so I figured he had to have some motivation for not being supportive beyond "Traditiooooon!". He does care about Renata, even though his way of showing it is not exactly the kind of care she wants or needs. As for whether it's his wife or people in general, it's probably a mix of the two. His wife does favour her younger, more feminine daughter, and that hasn't escaped Abrich's notice.

To his credit, I do think he's more worried about Renata personally than he is about the family name, and not just because his father already sort of dragged it through the mud.

But yeah, just because he's well-intentioned does not make him right. ;)

Penelope said...

I think Severin is way out of line here. The second that kid showed up on his doorstep, he should have sent word to her parents and escorted her home. Then the father arrives, and Severin basically tells the guy that he's a shitty parent for not wanting his daughter to follow her dreams. And girl power aside, I think Severin is pretty remiss to overlook the fact that although Renata can rival the boys in size and strength right now, that's going to change real soon. Really, it would have been one thing for Severin to decide to train his own daughter, but its something else entirely for him to try to make that decision for another man.

Van said...

Abrich's well within his rights to be concerned. I think the main conflict here is to what extent should a parent get to control their child's activities. If Renata doesn't get trained while she's still young enough and still wants to be a knight when she's older, but the window of opportunity is no longer open, she's going to resent her parents for that. In Severin's mind, some part of him may figure he's protecting Abrich from that.

As for Renata's physical prowess... well, she's still young enough that her frame may not be set in stone. She could end up being built like Princess Peach, or she could end up being built like Brienne of Tarth. If she gets to the point where she can no longer compete, then at least she can decide of her own accord to throw in the towel and find something else she can enjoy.