November 17, 2014

In Which Searle Does Not Surprise

January 1, 1188

Searle had meant to go to bed at some point.

He'd declined his father's invitation for New Years'. The children had insisted on going, so Lettie had taken them and made an indulgent appearance herself before heading back, leaving them at the keep for the night. He'd wanted a quiet evening to himself, a plain dinner and an early bedtime, sleep well underway before he began a year when Sparron wasn't in the world.

But he hadn't gone to bed. He'd just sat down in his study and, somehow, it hadn't occurred to him to move. It had to have been nearly morning. There was little point in retiring now. When the children returned, wakefulness would be expected.

So, he would sit in solitude, his great enemy and only friend. He'd sit until he forgot he existed.

He'd sit until he forgot that it didn't matter.

But knuckles on wood, and the solitude was gone. Searle sighed. "Yes?"

"I didn't hear you leave." Lettie pushed through the door with her usual forced concern, and once again Searle cursed himself for not insisting she take a bedroom outside earshot of the study. "You haven't slept at all, have you?"

Searle shook his head. God, the poor woman, stuck with him. She'd known going in that their marriage wouldn't be ordinary, but it wasn't her natural state to have to be the grounded one. Perhaps it would be kinder to cut her loose and let her fly.

"How was Jadin tonight?" Asking after his dying brother was about the least selfish thing he could do to her.

"No worse." But no better. Nothing ever got better. "You should visit him some time this week."

He grunted. He guessed he would. If he no longer cared about himself, then he'd care about his brother instead.

"Look, I should tell you that I've had an offer."

An offer? Fair enough as far as he was concerned; they were barely married anymore. But whoever had done the offering must have had something else in mind. "What sort of offer?"

"Now that Nythran's married Cherry, his and Haldred's old house is empty. He said it's mine if I want it, but I'll stay here as long as you need me."

"Oh."

Did he need her? He supposed she was his only friend left, for all he didn't have it in him to treat her better. She needed him like she needed an arrow in the head. "Do you want to leave?"

"Honestly?"

He shook his head. He didn't want to know.

"I did love you, Searle." Lettie stiffened, the pale silk of her nightgown liquid on her rock. "For a time."

"I know."

"But you never did love me, did you?"

He'd thought he could, once. He wished he cared enough to lie. "I tried."

She tore at her lip with her teeth. Sad, sure--but not surprised. "I thought so."

NEXT CHAPTER:

7 comments:

Van said...

Yet another exam tomorrow...

*sigh*

mimusofbellingar said...

Good luck. >.<
Exams are annoying.

Ugh! Is it bad that I want to throw him out of the next window whenever I see him? For whatever reason, he really rubs me the wrong way. ._.'

Van said...

Thanks. This one was no exception. :S

That's probably not the least common sentiment regarding Searle these days. He's a sweetie deep down, but he has next to zero resilience and sinks into pretty drastic lows. Not many of his acquaintances have much patience for him these days, alas. :S

Ekho said...

Hmm, so what's going to happen with the children then? I assume she'd at least take the girls and youngest ones with her? Or will Searle commute to visit them?

Van said...

The youngest is going to be eight in February (Lettie and Searle haven't had sex in a while), so if Lettie did decide to take the house, the kids are all old enough that they'd probably get to choose which parent they want to live with. Lucky thing is, neither Searle nor Lettie is spiteful enough to ban any kids staying with them from seeing the other parent, so visits would happen.

Pen said...

You know I love Searle, but I'm with Mimus at the moment. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Searle is with Mimus at the moment too. :S He is the victim of circumstance but at some point, a person has to either take ownership of his life or just... not. Searle might surprise me someday, but I can't imagine him turning things around the way Severin eventually did.

This break-up was a long time coming, and I'm glad for Lettie. Searle kinda ruined her life. Searle kinda ruined her children's lives too (or at least their childhoods). I'm glad that she is able to make a break for it.

Van said...

The last several years have not been Searle's finest hours. :S

He is a victim of circumstance, but yeah, his inability to cope on his own has caused a world of hurt for his loved ones. Searle probably can't manage a Severin level of turn-around, but now that they're making a break, maybe he can heal somewhat. In any case, it will definitely be good for Lettie and the kids.