October 8, 2014

In Which Arlia's Idea Is Made More Interesting

June 11, 1187

"So." Lorrick sat himself down on the empty sofa, out of duty rather than desire for comfort. "I think it's about time we talk."

Arlia agreed. Her brother and his father had finalized the arrangement at the end of her freshman year, and come next month, she would be a senior. She and Lorrick spent their engagement as nodding acquaintances, which she supposed wasn't so uncommon. The strange thing was that, while neither of them had been told to keep their betrothal a complete secret, her brother had asked that she keep the news to close friends only. The arrangement had yet to be announced officially in Carvallon, after all--never mind how long ago it had been made.

Never mind that Arlia was the only daughter of the last Lord Nightvale. Odd that her brother would have chosen for her a second son, especially when his older brother was still unattached.

"Your parents have told you something my brother has kept from me."

"Yes. And I'm sorry for keeping your in the dark, but I had to be sure of what sort of person you were before we could speak honestly."

"Oh." He hadn't found out what sort of person she was from her--and Arlia was not so naive as to suppose most had much nice to say about her, no matter how they may have enjoyed her company privately.

"I know what you're thinking. But if anything... I was glad to hear what I heard."

Arlia cocked her head to the side. "Really?"

"Yes. You see, your brother was originally in talks with my father for my older brother. They nearly made the match, but before that happened, Palgrin suffered an injury that, uh... rendered him unable to continue the line."

He needn't have minced words for her, and if he'd done his research as he claimed, then he knew it. But there was an inherent discomfort in discussing a relative's genitals. "I see."

"Yes. He's actually coping well, since he's never had much interest in being Lord Aythwing. He plans to retire to a monastery to pursue experiments in botany. He plans to make the announcement at the next social event, then make his departure in peace. After that, my father will name me his heir and announce our betrothal."

That explained why she wasn't marrying Palgrin. But why did it matter to that, what sort of person she was? "I don't see why my reputation is relevant to whether or not you were going to tell me that."

"Oh, that you would have known in any case. I have something else to tell you--something personal, something my parents don't know." His arm met that of the sofa, fingers in a nervous twitch. "I never planned on marrying. You see, I, uh... don't have any particular interest in women."

That? Yes--she could see where her reputation mattered there. "Men, then? No one? Those who blur the line?"

"Men, yes. So, it was comforting to find that you were of... loose morals, for lack of a better term. Not only were you more likely to understand, but it will be easier to work out an arrangement." That... made the idea of their marriage must more interesting. "I'm willing to overlook any affairs you pursue if you'll overlook mine and keep my secrets. I will require an heir of my own blood, so I'd appreciate if you kept your urges to women--or eunuchs, if you can find them--until we've produced a son. After that, you are welcome to sleep with other men if you so choose, and I will raise and love your bastards as my own. Does that sound agreeable?"

"Yes, it does." An absence of men for a time would be a small price to pay for a situation more to her personal taste in the end. "Perhaps we might take a man together some time."

"Perhaps we'll make it an annual thing. I can think of no better way to celebrate our anniversary." Lorrick stood, smiling. She hadn't seen him smile before. Little as she'd known him, Arlia had always taken him for a rather grim fellow, but now she knew why.

And, as he pulled her up for an embrace, there was a warm feeling in her heart, knowing she could make things just a little easier.

"I do believe we have a happy life ahead of us after all."



Van said...

I have no idea how relevant this marriage will end up being to the story, but I wanted some more non-angsty posts for this year.

Ekho said...

I like these two! Is it bad that I'm happy for their arrangement? I mean, they're probably the few lucky ones that can be honest to one another about their situations. And once they're married, they'll always have each others back. It will probably be one of the more healthier relationships/marriages.

Van said...

Not bad at all! It benefits both of them and doesn't throw either under the bus, and they've managed it while being honest with each other. I could see them becoming sort of like Sparron and Camaline in their earlier years, only not as angsty. They both could have easily been in much more restrictive arrangements.

Penelope said...

Heh, you know, many such arrangements exist in Naroni. (In all likelihood, many such arrangements still exist in the real world today. :S) It would be interesting to see what would happen with a betrothed or nearly betrothed couple where one of the two posits the notion that, "I'm gay and I'll look the other way at your infidelity if you do the same for me," followed by the other person freaking out. What would be the backlash toward a noble who is outed as gay by someone else? Would the law care? And what about all of the other closeted gay people in Naroni? Would they twiddle their thumbs while this other person became a social pariah? Would they speak up for or against that person (in order to shield themselves from scrutiny)? I think I'd be interested in seeing this on Octavius's watch. I know what Severin would do. I think I even know what Ietrin would do. But what would Octavius do?

Van said...

It's true that this particular situation isn't unique to these two. But we probably won't see much of them, so it didn't make sense to do anything too novel with them.

At this point, I have no plans for any of my characters to be publicly outed, but that's not to say it couldn't happen at some point.