September 2, 2015

In Which Haldred Outlives Himself

April 8, 1194

Haldred's two surviving sons sat on the benches by the fireplace, just as they had in turn when Cladelia had been in his place. They'd had eight children together, and four had remained when Cladelia's time had come. Since then, he'd lost Searle. Jadin and Tarien remained, along with their sister Celina.

None of their boys had been lucky enough to inherit much of their mother's strength. Jadin had the most of it, perhaps. So long as he could see a reason to go on, he would, and he was young enough that many remained ahead of him. But, he was still recovering from the death of his eldest daughter less than a year ago. That was not enough time between losses.

Tarien... well, it had been apparent since the boy's first wife had died. Tarien was incapable of being alone. After his first wife had died, he'd married his sister-in-law. After his second wife had died, he'd searched long and hard, four failed betrothals before he found his third. His third wife had been gone a few years now, and Tarien had been dropping hints about perhaps searching for a fourth. He'd taken to writing his cousin Lettie in Dovia rather frequently, though Haldred suspected she only replied to humor him. That would not end well.

"Comfortable, Father?"

His daughter--his only remaining daughter--sat down on the empty side of the bed and reclined, practically daring him to send her off. He chose not to. "Yes, thank you. Where is Sidwein?"

"He went to fetch his mother. She'll want to see you." Viridis. His sister--his only sister, only sibling at all. She was nine years older than he, and probably hadn't expected to outlive him. Frankly, Haldred had outlived himself.

"Poor Viridis. As if she didn't have enough mourning this year already, what with her grandson." Perhaps she and Jadin could commiserate. Jadin, at least, had his wife. Viridis... well, her son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter-in-law would be hurting in different ways. "I don't envy you and Sidwein. No doubt you'll have to lend support to both households."

"One more than another; we both know Aunt Viridis is tougher than Tarien."

"And you're tougher than both of them. I'm sorry we never noticed. We never noticed much about you."

She shrugged. She likely had a lot to say to that, but found no phrase appropriate for a dying man. He would have deserved it, but he appreciated the restraint.

"I'm sorry."

His daughter sighed. "Sidwein and Viridis should be here soon."


1 comment:

Van said...

School has resumed. Still working once a week. Luckily, mostly practical classes; not much homework.