August 3, 2014

In Which Prior Fakes a Misunderstanding

November 28, 1186

"Did you have fun with Alina and her siblings?"

Prior nodded. He was old enough now that his parents let him go to friends' houses after school as long as he sent word home with one of his uncles or his cousin, but for friends outside of the shire, he still had to be accompanied on the walk home. Usually, his friends' parents would send a guard or the steward with them, or the father would take him if the family didn't have guards and stewards.

With Alina, though, her mother liked to walk him home herself--and if possible, she liked to bring Alina along too. Sometimes Arkon or Severin would tag along of their own accord, but she only ever asked Alina. Doubly strangely, it was only when Prior had been at Alina's that his father met them at the gate instead of inside. Sure, Prior's father and Alina's mother were friends, but Prior's father was friends with Wolf's father too--and he didn't think his father disliked any of his other friends' parents, and Alina said her mother didn't make a point to walk anyone else home. Plus Prior's mother was also friends with Alina's mother, and she didn't make a point to come down to meet her.

But the couple times he'd asked about it, he hadn't received more than a shrug, and Alina had had no more success with her mother. Florian thought that Prior's father and Alina's mother were having an affair, but Prior couldn't see it--and didn't want to, even though his own parents were more like friends than anything else and he didn't think his mother would mind much. So he'd go with the other question that tugged at his mind every time he played with Alina and her brothers. "Why don't I have siblings?"

His father stopped just short of the chapel door. For a second, Prior feared he'd 'blanked' like he did sometimes when he was sick--but he just sighed. "Some people have an easier time having children than others."

"They do?" He knew desire differed, but he'd figured ability to be more or less around the same level. "Why?"

"Many possible reasons. But it's no measure of anyone's worth, whether they have a new baby each year or die without a single one. And your mother and I love you as much as we'd love ten other children anyway."

"I know." But he wasn't sure what to do with the new knowledge. What if he and Neva couldn't have children when they grew up? He would be baron after his father and grandfather; he was supposed to have at least one kid. "Do those reasons run in families?"

"Some, probably. But you're certainly not at risk for your mother's reasons, and I don't think you are for mine either."

Still--his father frowned. "At least, I hope you're not."

"What do you mean?"

"My illness." That had something to do with it? But his grandfather said it was an illness of the mind, not... other parts. "My mother had it. Her mother too. Much as I wanted and needed you, I... I feared it might be cruel, putting a child in the world just to have him suffer that. That's partly why your mother and I were married so long before we had you. I hope that didn't sound harsh; I don't expect you to understand, and I hope you never will."

"No. I think I see what you mean." But he didn't want to think about it, and his father probably didn't either. Maybe honesty hadn't been the best idea. He could fake a misunderstanding, maybe. "Aunt Lettie said she didn't want to have kids because she was afraid they'd all get her freckles."

Sure enough--a laugh. Innocent enough. Happy enough. "And they all did. But those kids do wear their freckles well."

"Do I wear mine well?" Prior's father didn't have a freckle on him, so he figured he got his from his mother. But his mother didn't have as many as he did.

"Very well." His father ruffled his hair, then kissed him on the forehead. "But I hope your freckles are the most worrisome of your ailments."



Van said...

This post probably should have gone before the two Laralita posts. In this position, it's the first of four consecutive Sparron appearances, but the other three all run together while this one doesn't. My bad. :S

Ekho said...

I'm really looking forward to watching Prior grow up, and seeing how he deals with his situation.
I don't know how Sparron has managed, though it's good that he's being so patient with Prior, and honest. And it's sad how Lettie has to pretend he isn't her son, and hold back all her feelings about it.

Van said...

Prior has some tough times ahead, but I think he'll be okay.

If nothing else, I think Sparron is reluctant to lie to Prior about more than he deems strictly necessary. Ditto for Lettie and Camaline. It's a sad situation all around, but if Prior ever finds out the truth, hopefully he'll understand.

Winter said...

I can think of many worse candidates for a multi-appearance run than Sparron!

The good father trait apparently runs in the blood of this Tamrion branch. Sparron has a really special relationship with Prior. Whatever happens with him and his illness, the good in Sparron is going to live on with Prior. That last picture of them was absolutely lovely, too.

Van said...

True! XD

While some Tamrions (*coughFELRONcough*) aren't so great at the fatherhood thing, it's true that the Octavius branch does not have that problem so far. I have high hopes for his other sons once they start reproducing as well, and I think Prior will be a good father too when he's all grown up and the time comes.

Sparron and Prior do have a special bond. If nothing else, I think Sparron will go out of the world pleased that he managed to put Prior in it. I don't think Prior will ever truly be alone.

Penelope said...

I love the Prior/Sparron chapters. I like getting to know Prior as a child, and of course seeing this different side of Sparron. Too often, Sparron spends his time in pure brooding mode. With Prior, he can let go of some of that. This is an interesting conversation too because I don't recall Sparron ever wanting children. Is it hindsight? Is it a white lie to get around more grown-up truths? A combination of the two?

Naroni binge!! Sweet, sweet Naronies. I had a Naroni dream about a week ago. I wish I could remember it!

Van said...

Prior seems to have had more childhood exposure to the readers than many Naroni characters, so it should be interesting to see how he develops as he grows. He does bring out the best in Sparron, and the happiest.

Sparron was always sort of indifferent to having children until his illness kicked in. Then, he didn't want them out of fear of passing his illness on. So he's pretty much telling the (somewhat abridged) truth.

Camaline, however, did not want children. She does love Prior, though.

Welcome back! Hope the honeymoon was great! :)