October 1, 2015

In Which Rina Is Familiar and Not Familiar

October 14, 1194

"So... you're sure it's just stress?"

Rina had to give her husband some credit for not rolling his eyes. Adonis Wythleit came to the surgery every couple of months complaining of headaches, and not the sort of headaches no one else was prone to getting every now and then. There wasn't a thing else wrong with him--Severin had checked several times.

But, he was the only educated architect in the kingdom, and he was living in a shire that was still relatively new. His workload was, to say the least, demanding.

"Adonis, you work sixteen-hour days juggling about a dozen projects. Of course it's stress." Severin crossed his arms and sighed. "Just take a couple of days off and try to finish a few jobs before you take on anything new."

"Days off? What would I do with myself? You know I'd drive myself mad, just lounging around alone in my cramped little house."

"Then find yourself a wife."

"Bah, now you sound like my mother." But he looked over at Rina and winked. "Have you any single sisters, Rina?"

Rina snorted. "No, but I have a reasonably-aged brother if you're not too picky."

"Ah, a pity!" Adonis laughed as he made his way toward her seat on the bench, Severin trailing behind with a face that clearly read 'clinic hours are over'. "Stubble gives me rashes."

"Then why don't you shave?"

"Other people's stubble," he corrected himself with another wink. "Otherwise, I might have snatched up poor Severin before you had the chance."

Severin shuddered. "Don't flatter yourself."

"Hmph. As if he couldn't do much worse than me."

"Look, I hate to break it to you, but Roddie and I agreed once in a drunken stupor that if we were both homosexuals, we'd make quite the attractive couple."

Rina raised an eyebrow. That was... not the most unappealing of images. "All right, what all went on at Leo House and why was I not around to see it?"

"As far as I'm concerned, it's because you're lucky."

She and her husband and his patient looked to the door to see their neighbor enter, a woman following--a woman other than his wife.

"Orrick!" Adonis was the first to greet him verbally, while Severin merely nodded. Rina couldn't peel her eyes off the woman. There was something about her, something both familiar and... not. Maybe Severin would have a better sense of it? "Does Tiada know that you're running around with this lovely young lady?"

"Tiada would be showing her around herself if the boys weren't down with those pesky fall colds; this one managed to get herself a snug spot under that wing." Orrick--and Tiada, Rina guessed--sensed nothing strange about this newcomer, at least not that he'd let on. And he'd majored in sensing strangeness in people! Perhaps it was all in Rina's own head.

It could have been--if Severin hadn't taken to squinting as he looked her over.

"This is my new assistant, Dora Floren. She just arrived from Dovia last week."

"Hello," Severin managed, while Rina smiled politely in turn. Adonis took a bolder approach.

"Always a pleasure to greet a new neighbor." He'd taken her hand and kissed it before he'd finished the sentence. "Adonis Wythleit, at your service. My friends here are the Tumekrins: the lovely Rina, and the not-so-lovely Severin."

"Oh!" Dora blushed, apologetic eyes on Rina's husband--never mind that she hadn't been the one to say it. "Oh, no, I don't think there's anything much wrong with your looks, sir. In fact, you strike me as... oddly comforting. Somehow."

Severin frowned. "Not a sentiment I'm used to inspiring."

"Which is unfortunate, given that he's a doctor." Adonis chuckled. "You seem prone to familiarity yourself, miss. If I dare say so, it's rather charming."

The pink on the woman's cheeks grew darker. "My apologies. I'm... not much good at socializing, am I?"

"You're doing just fine." Adonis reassured her with a wink.

"Well, he seems thoroughly smitten, so perhaps we can all forget about Leo House," Severin ventured as an attempt at a joke. "How did you and Dora meet, Orrick?"

"What do you mean, how we met? I was looking for an assistant, she showed up for an interview, she got the job."

"I'd heard tell that there was a clinic here," Dora confirmed. "It was my own dumb luck that I showed up when Orrick happened to be hiring."

The newcomer cast another shy smile around the room. It hit Rina as she caught the focus of her face that Dora bore an uncanny resemblance to her sister-in-law Alyssin, never mind the fact that Alyssin had probably never smiled shyly in her life. Why was she only seeing that now?

And why--in spite of an apparent mystery solved--was there still such a peculiarity about her?

To her side, Severin struggled not to stare. He must have caught the resemblance too. Rina would have to take this one. "Very fortunate indeed."

NEXT CHAPTER:

5 comments:

Van said...

Man, Thursdays suck.

empireofmeliora said...

Well, it looks like Teodrin's/Teodora's cover-up will be blown before it even took hold. ô.ó

Van said...

Well, depending on whether or not the thought crosses anyone's mind. I doubt Rona's family interacts much with these two, or will with Dora. For Severin and Rina, they've never heard of anyone switching sexes, so it may not ever occur to them that that's a possibility.

Winter said...

I'm going to confess that my mind immediate went to hoping Dora doesn't hook up with any of her immediate relatives. Shameful, but true.

Dora seems much more comfortable in her skin than Teodrin ever was, so at least she's happy. Still, I hope it doesn't take all of the intrepid minds of Naroni too too long to realize who Dora is. I know Thetis & Florian would be relieved she's alive and well, even if she can't remember them.

Van said...

Not the worst concern! Luckily, most of Dora's adult immediate relatives are happily married.

She is much more comfortable. And, while she is starting a new life after whatever artificial memories of Dovia Ylwa gave her, she's happy enough and with potential to be even happier. But yes, just having the closure would do wonders for Florian and Thetis.