March 25, 2014

In Which Severin Fails to Translate

January 14, 1185

"Again, I'm sure it's nothing to worry about."

Not that Severin blamed his son in the slightest for worrying. Given Asalaye's history of quick labors, Nanalie had spent the week of the due date at Lonriad's castle, but Nanalie was a couple months pregnant herself and her fatigue had been catching up with her; just in case she wasn't feeling up to it, she'd begged Arydath to spend a couple days with Feoda and Lonel down by the village.

Sure enough, about a quarter-hour in, Asalaye's maid had emerged from the bedroom and rushed out the door, only to return with Arydath ten minutes later. Severin had been telling himself that it was nothing too out-of-the-ordinary--just one young, pregnant midwife a little too tired to take the reins for long, summoning another professional for assistance--but of course the father-to-be would assume the worst if the most experienced midwife in the kingdom had to be called in mid-labor.

"If you think about it, I guess." The trouble with thinking, however, was that it was all too often overpowered by the heart. "And she's done this three times before, right? And if anything's wrong, there's not much Arydath hasn't seen before. I guess."

That was a lot of guessing--though to Lonriad's credit, no man who wasn't a doctor could do much more when it came to childbirth. Even those who were doctors couldn't claim to know much for sure. "It's natural to worry.

"Honestly, I'd wonder about you if you didn't."

"I know, I know." Regardless, Lonriad sighed. "How many kids before you stop worrying?"

"More kids than I have." A phrase that could not be used lightly. "I wish I could comfort you."

"No. You know better than anyone how pointless that is." His son dragged himself forward and rose to his feet with the mechanical lifelessness of a string puppet. The only cure for that ailment was a healthy newborn in the arms and a recovering wife in her bed. "I'm going to check on the children."

Probably for the best. The boys, at least, were old enough to understand that a new baby could be a dangerous ordeal, and Alina might have contracted some of her brothers' gloom. They needed their father, and their father needed them. "Very well. Perhaps get yourself a drink on your way back--calm your nerves somewhat."

"You've read my mind, Father."

Lonriad pained him one last strained grimace, then shuffled off in the direction of the children's bedrooms. Poor kid. Of all of Severin's children, Lonriad himself had been the most difficult birth; his mother had pulled through better than some, but the baby himself had lived an uncertain first few days. So far, Severin's children had been lucky in regards to their own offspring, but with the number of children Severin had, and the number of children some of them were bound to have...

If the probability of disaster always approached one, then with those numbers, it approached at a quicker rate for his family than for most.

Alina, if you're watching... well, you know this is our twenty-third grandchild. Twenty-third. Twenty-two births, no serious complications. Think our luck can hold out a while longer?

The bedroom door opened, and a slow tread followed the creak. Severin knew Arydath's well enough to know that it defaulted toward the swift. "Nanalie?"

He looked up. Sure enough, there she was, but she was alone. She held no red-tinged, swaddled infant in her arms, nor was there a smile on her lips or life in her eyes. God damn it. "Where's Lonriad?"

"He's with the children." Or most of them. Or--his heart twinged at the thought--the living ones. "Nanalie..."

One quick swallow, and her sleeve brushed her eyes. Oh God damn it all.

He got up and offered an arm to her shoulder, a little tentative, not sure if she was the sort who cared for touch. She didn't shrug him off. He wondered if she even noticed.

"What's wrong?" Was that the right way to start? But when she was this distraught--for any of the possible reasons--what could he say to comfort her? To comfort himself? "Is it Asalaye? Or the baby?" Surely not both?

"The baby's all right. A little c-colicky..." Another catch in her throat. If it wasn't the baby, then that meant it was the mother. Shit. "But Asalaye won't stop bleeding."

God. So much for hoping the good luck would go on. "Can Arydath help?"

Nanalie shook her head. "I don't think so. She slowed it a little, but she's already lost so much..."

She trailed to a sob and buried her eyes in her hands. She had no more to say. There was nothing more to say.

The language of grief translated poorly to words.



Van said...

Another day, another knee ache...


Penelope said...

I wish you much luck with the knee, Van!

And Asalaye! Noooo!

Jeez, I never realized how many grandchildren Severin had. That's insane!

Winter said...

Alina? Tavrin? Someone? Someone please fix this situation right now! :(

Sorry about your knee!

Van said...

Pen: I had to go into family trees and count. Could not remember all of them off the top of my head. :S

Winter: Alas, I don't know if Tavrin could do much here... :S

Penelope said...

It just makes me think of my great-grandfather. He had ten children. When my uncle was expecting his fifth child, my great-grandfather took him aside and told him, "Kid, you can't do what I did. Do you know what I used to pay for a loaf of bread?!"

Van said...

Hehehe. Good advice there. I'm not even sure how people manage one child.

Orilon said...

Ouch. It looks like the luck ran out in regards to Severin's kids and childbirth. Poor Lonriad and poor everyone.

I have a feeling that Nanalie may have more complicated emotions towards this particular niece or nephew. Hopefully not, but emotions are not rational.

Van said...


Nanalie has seen enough by now that she knows, on a logical level, that if a mother dies in or as a result of childbirth, it's not the baby's fault. That said, she may struggle a bit in regards to this niece or nephew (or... eh, I guess it's not the biggest spoiler in the world: it's a girl), but I'm sure she'll manage to get past that by the time the kid is old enough to sense anything.

Mimus said...

I just noticed that Asalaye goes the same way as her mother. Though her mother had had a few more children before that. ._.'
Maybe Arydath has luck with slowing the blood loss enough for it to stop, but I won't get my hopes up there. v.v

Ekho said...

Sadness :(
I like/d Asalaye. I hope Lonriad is with her in the end.

Van said...

Mimus: Yes, Honora went on her fifth child. This is Asalaye's fourth. :(

Next post isn't up yet, so who knows? Maybe Arydath did manage to pull off a miracle.

Ekho: I like her too. :( Alas...