March 8, 2014

In Which Rina Reciprocates in Spite of It All

October 4, 1184

Rina hadn't wanted to do anything on her birthday that involved getting out of bed. There was an extent to which the family had honored this, sort of. Aunt Nanalie had said she didn't have to go to school today. Uncle Garrett had let her stay home from mass on Sunday. The children had finally clued in and taken to leaving her the hell alone.

All well and good, she guessed. But what the hell did another birthday mean, anyway? She was fourteen years old. She knew women who had been married at fourteen. That was still on the young side, and she could stall for time studying at the university--even if all she knew about what she'd study was that it wouldn't be history--but even with that extra handful of years, every birthday was just one more closer to... what? No one would want to marry her. Not many would take a count's daughter seriously if she approached them for employment, even if she did find a career worth pursuing. And becoming a nun was out of the question. Why on earth should she spend her life serving a god who at best didn't care--and at worst actively despised her?

And living in a nailed-down hourglass had been hard enough before the only indisputable friend she had had run off. Right now, her best option seemed to be to sleep until she died.

But her aunt had woken her shortly past noon, telling her to dress quickly and to head to the courtyard. There was a surprise for her there, she'd said. Rina supposed she could appreciate the thought, but if her aunt and uncle had some sort of gift for her, it would be a wasted effort. She could count the things she wanted on one hand, and not one of them was a thing she could feasibly have.

At the bottom of the stairs, something whinnied.

A horse?

No, not just any horse. She knew that cry.


She took the last few steps two at a time, nearly tripping over the hem of her skirt in the process. Was it? No, it couldn't have been. Unless...


There he was, as many hands as she remembered, black spots in all the right places on his otherwise white coat. He'd lost a little weight in her father's care, but apart from that, he was just as he'd always been, down to the smiling eyes when he looked at her. "You're here!"

She dashed for him and flung her arms around his huge neck, a lower muscle relaxing as it always did, pulling his nose inward. How was it that he was here? Surely it couldn't have been...

Could it?

"Oh, good. They gave me the right one after all."

Holy shit! Rina let go of Kevin and turned; sure enough, there was Severin, who must have been loitering by the other wall. "Sorry. I figured I'd let you two have a little reunion."

Oh my God. She'd wondered if that was why he'd left... but surely she hadn't thought... "How did you do it?"

"Uh... I'm going to guess you'd rather not know."

Knowing her father, that was probably true. She already knew all she needed to know.

"Thank you!" She met him partway as he started toward her, embracing him with all the vigor she'd managed for her horse. She could have kissed him. She didn't know if she'd ever kiss anyone again, but in that moment, she was nearly ready. "This is the best thing anyone's ever done for me."

"Eh, well... I don't know if it was that great," he muttered as she released him. As if he had even the slightest idea of how much a good deed meant just now. "I mean, I got out of school for a few weeks, got a break from all my siblings and nieces and nephews, you know--everything that that entails. I missed you, though."

And how odd it was, it occurred to her, that in spite of every other emotion and the crippling lack of the same, she'd missed him too. "I... I want to tell you what happened."



Van said...

Hmmm. I was thinking I'd return to Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday this week, but I feel like I kind of want to catch up with myself and I'm at a point right now where I can do every second day for a while. So I might just keep doing that until it becomes necessary to switch back (which, who knows, may be next week, may be summer).

Ann said...

Thank you Van! This is exactly what I needed today!

And you won't find me arguing with that changed shedule. ;) As long as you're not wearing yourself out, that is. But I figure right now it'll be helpful rather than hurtful, no?

Bittersweet chapter, but I hope that soon the sweet will start outweighing the bitter. Would that life could be like that. ^^


Van said...

Aww, sorry that you're having a rotten day. *hug*

At this point, I think this schedule will be managrable, though it may have to change if I get a job or my courses get more intense.

I think Rina's got a while before the sweet outweighs the bitter, but this will help more than Severin will ever know.

Ekho said...

Gosh Severin is awesome, he deserved a kiss after doing this. I wonder how their relationship is going to change now though, I mean Rina could become attached to him - or she could decide that she owed him now.
Either way, I'm glad Kevin has made it to safety away from that awful count. Now maybe Rina can find a little happiness in her days alongside him and Severin!

Van said...

I don't think Rina will be ready to kiss anyone for a while, but he's cemented his status as an ally, for sure.

As for how the relationship will change... I guess we'll see. ;)

Diana Myers said...

This was so cute, but the look on Thetis' face in the preview for the next one is... off.

Van said...

Welcome! :)

Yeah, Thetis doesn't look particularly angry, does she? Nor does she look overjoyed that her kid made it back alive. I guess we'll soon see why...

Penelope said...

Yikes. I wonder what Severin will do when he finds out.

Van said...

I guess we'll see...