March 21, 2014

In Which Jeda Suggests the Good Practice

December 12, 1184

As a rule, Ietrin did not like children in his study, nor did Jeda care to bring them along on the dreaded occasion of her needing to be there herself. But given that it was she who was turning up unannounced, and not him summoning her, plus the intended topic of discussion... well, it hadn't seemed like the worst idea in the world to have Hollie around.

"Uh... Ietrin."

"Jedaline." Ietrin put down his quill, frowning at the sight of Hollie. Much as his continued disinterest boded well for her, it did strike her as strange, given how intent he'd been on making a legitimate son. Now that he thought he had one, she would have assumed he'd show more affection for the kid. That had been a grave mistake on her part. Ietrin had no affection for anyone. "Is Holden's nanny otherwise preoccupied?"

"She has a headache. I didn't see the harm in relieving her for an hour or so," Jeda lied, though poor Lena was in for some trouble later. Putting her on her father's payroll rather than Ietrin's had been good foresight. "Is this a good time?"

"No, but now that you're here, there's not much point in waiting for a better one." He nodded to the couch across from his desk. "Sit down."

She set Hollie down on the floor and did as she was told. The temptation to start without his prompting tugged at her, but it would feel more natural if she waited for him to speak first. This wasn't something she'd been particularly eager about in the past; the last thing she needed was for him to suspect anything, true or otherwise.

It wasn't his style to keep her waiting long. "What is it?"

"Well... Holden is going to be two in a few months." All that thinking later and that still seemed like the best way to start--strange as she still found it to be calling her daughter 'Holden'. "He's weaned, and my courses have been back to normal for quite some time now, so I was wondering if you might want to..." She swallowed. God, two years ago, she never would have thought she'd be asking him this. "...try for a spare."

"Try for a spare."

The annoyed repetition couldn't have been a good sign. "Not that we have any reason to assume we'll need one, but... it's just good practice, is it not?"

"So I would have said when we were first married, yes." Shit. "But given past difficulties not aided by the fact the neither of us is getting any younger--plus our undeniable distaste for another--the odds of us being successful would not be worth much effort."

"Oh." She wondered if he listened to himself when he spoke to her. If so, that would have answered any nagging questions about where her side of the distaste came from. "Yes, it would be a hassle, but we're not so old that it's out of the question; I'm not even thirty yet. If we just occasionally--"

"Don't pretend that you suddenly like it. I know for a fact that you don't." At the side of the bench, Hollie had taken to picking at the carved wood; Ietrin stopped her with a sharp glare. "Considering how unlikely it is that we would conceive again anyway, it would be in both of our best interests if I satisfied my needs elsewhere and you... did whatever it is you womenfolk do about that."

And what was that, exactly? Not that he'd given her much reason to enjoy lovemaking. "But surely we shouldn't just dismiss the possibility of ever trying--"

"Knowing my luck, we'd have two more girls before another boy. I'm not shelling out any more princess-sized dowries." As if he couldn't afford it. "So long as Holden is healthy, I see no reason to worry. I'm sure you'll find life much easier if you figure the same."

And there was the tone that said there was no point in arguing. Should have figured, knowing my luck. "I... suppose."

But what now? Get him good and drunk and hope for the best? Find a man who looked passably like him, then seduce him somehow once she knew for sure, and pass it off as premature? Maybe Ardyath could help her, make up some excuse as for why he needed to sleep with her? Surely if she needed sex, he'd rather do so himself than become a witting cuckold...

"Good. Now, I'm very busy, so I'd appreciate it if you took Holden back to that lazy nanny of his, and then..." He trailed off, puzzled for a second before resigning to a shrug. "...go back to doing whatever it is you do during the day."



Van said...

Next post is the last of 1184.

Ekho said...

Ick. This must be horrible for Jeda, with the risk of Hollie being discovered as a girl... I am curious how she intended to 'switch' Hollie's sex without Ietrin becoming angry. Maybe Jeda will have to lie and start worrying that 'Holden' is not in fact healthy, so Ietrin might take her word on having another baby. Otherwise, if Jeda did find another man to substitute her husband it would be hard to explain with Ietrin being so adamant on impregnating her again.
Hmm, alcohol could be the easiest way to get him into her bed though, and then if she still wasn't pregnant she could start the whole 'Holden isn't well' trick.
Though, I also like the idea of Ietrin discovering the truth on his deathbed, and being too ill to dispute Hollie's inheritance :P

Van said...

I think Jeda's plan is something along the lines of this:

1) Have a son, hopefully before Hollie hits puberty.

2) Inform Hollie exactly what's up and why when she's old enough to get it. Have Hollie announce to Ietrin an intention to become a cloistered monk and leave immediately.

3) Spirit Hollie away somewhere (perhaps to Jeda's sister's place in Dovia), then otherwise let her live life as she pleases.

4) Wait for Ietrin to die.

Hollie's still young, so Jeda does have time to get pregnant/get Ietrin into bed regardless of whether the baby is his or not. That doesn't make the situation any less tense and stressful for Jeda. And it's not as if Ietrin's swimmers have magically improved since Hollie was conceived...

Penelope said...

HA! You know, I wish that Ietrin had a tape recorder and could listen to himself talk. He's such an ass, I don't even know where to begin. But I think Jeda's approach was all wrong here. She went to him in the way that he would have gone to her. Like it is some sort of negotiation that needs to be discussed. Instead, she should have tried to seduce him. I don't think it would have been that hard. She just would have had to get over her timidity. And her revulsion. And the alcohol should be for her, not him.

Penelope said...

Sparron is doing something weird with his face. He seems to have drawn his cheek muscles upward and outward, exposing his teeth. It's kinda like an upside down frown. He should probably get that condition checked out.

Van said...

Maybe Ietrin's punishment in the afterlife will be listening to all the shitty things he says.

They both approach sex as a negotiation, but to be fair... well, that's really all it is to them, at least between each other. There's barely enough attraction there for Ietrin to get a rise, and even less for Jeda. Catching him off-guard might have worked better, and she'll have to go that route if she gets pregnant by someone else and tries to pass it off as his, but it certainly wouldn't have occurred to her as a first step.

Yeah, I don't know what's up with Sparron there...

Winter said...

Poor Jeda. If she hadn't passed Hollie off as a boy, Ietrin wouldn't let her do anything but try to conceive the next one. Is Ietrin spending any time with Hollie at all? I'm curious whether she is going to grow up with any better an opinion of her father than her sisters must have. She may be quite willing to stick it to him if he's this disinterested forever.

If Ietrin goes to Hell, I hope his punishment is living with the knowledge that Jeda pulled off the Hollie scheme. He's treated her like garbage for so long that it seems impossible he thinks Jeda is clever enough to do anything of the sort.

Van said...

Jeda just couldn't win either way at that point. Or at this point. :(

So far, Ietrin hasn't paid Hollie much attention. He's pleased that he has a son, but he's not particularly interested in spending time with him. Whatever Hollie grows up to feel about her father, I'd be surprised if she turned out to be more loyal to him than to her mother.

If Ietrin ever finds out, in life or in death, that will no doubt be part of his reaction. He doesn't think much of Jeda at all, and her cleverness and resourcefulness are not exceptions there. :S