November 2, 2015

In Which Alina Does Not Begrudge

September 21, 1195

"What's wrong?" Severin demanded as Alina emerged from the bedroom. He'd been seeing a patient when she'd escorted Rina home from the bank, but he would have heard them come in. His usual clinic hours weren't yet over, but she should have guessed that he'd come upstairs anyway. "Is Rina all right? She's not ill, is she?"

"No, she's not ill. Just..." Reminded? Invoked? God--why wasn't there a word for it? "...recovering from an incident."

"What sort of incident?" Her twin brother knew full well that the bank couldn't be open if neither Alina nor Rina were present, and that Alina choosing to close the bank and take Rina home herself rather than letting her go alone or sending someone else would mean something serious indeed.

And, in spite of himself, he would be sensitive enough to take this particular incident seriously, even if the affected individual hadn't been his own wife. If anything, Alina feared he might take matters into his own hands.

"A couple at the bank today. The husband was giving his wife grief for not being pregnant again three years after the birth of their last child. Kept making it about her worth and how he ought to have married her more fertile sister instead."

As she could have guessed--and would have hoped!--her brother scowled. Severin may not have been the warm and cuddly sort of 'good', but their mother had instilled an unbreakable moral code in all of her children. "Who the hell is this man?"

"I don't know his name; they weren't regular clients. I kicked him out and said that we'd only deal with his wife in the future. I set her up with one of the staff, but Rina had heard the whole thing and had to retire to the vault. I sent the other customers way and closed up once the woman had finished with her business."

"Fuck. Despicable enough that he should say such things to his wife in private." It was no doubt the tamest he could manage, but at his sides, her brother's hands clenched into fists. "How is Rina now?"

"She's calmed down, but still shaken up. I gave her some mead and a bit of cake."

"Thank you. And let me know if you ever get that bastard's name; if he ever comes to see me, I'll find some medical reason to castrate him." She didn't doubt it. She wasn't sure she agreed with the method, but she appreciated the ire. "Can I see her?"

Alina nodded. "She'll probably want you anyway."

Her brother brushed past her and knocked on the bedroom door. "Rina?"


Permission granted, he headed in. Alina followed, just in case they needed her, though she told herself she'd leave if asked; Rina didn't react to her presence, so she settled herself on the chair by the window.

Severin joined his wife on the bed, equal parts sympathetic and barely hinged. "Men are the worst."

Beside him, Rina shrugged. "A little bit."

He muttered something, too faintly for Alina to hear, but it seemed to lift Rina's spirits somewhat. Alina dug the nail of her thumb into the tip of her index finger. It hadn't been all that long ago when she'd made her own foolish comment to Rina's face, but at least hers hadn't been meant in malice, and she'd been quick to apologize and change the subject. It wasn't, she knew in her heart, a matter of over-sensitivity. Rina could be around small children and pregnant women without issue. She could even tolerate discussion of other people considering having children, so long as no one asked her about her own plans or passed any judgments on people who seemed to have difficulty.

But some comments were personal. Some hit too close to home without warning.

What sort of sick person would begrudge someone being upset in such cases?

At least Rina was smiling now, even if it was a little tired, a little half-hearted. And at least Severin was smiling for her--even if Alina saw behind it a blazing fury only a twin could see.


1 comment:

Van said...

Bah. November.

Hoping tomorrow is a much better day than today was, at least. I have cause to suspect that it might be, but it's too early to know for sure.