January 1, 2016

In Which Alina Takes What She Can Get

April 21, 1197

"My father is remarrying."

It was hardly their usual joking, flirty conversational fodder. Gualtiero had asked after Alina quietly, and she'd found him sulking on the couch when she'd come down to greet him. As he'd said it, he barely met her eye, opting instead to direct his gaze to the window behind her, as if the outdoors were another year.

Alina, with the luxury of both parents still living, didn't know what to say to that. "Oh."

Gualtiero shuffled. What did he want? Comfort? Empathy? Reassurance? She could tell him it would be all right, agree that it wasn't, or convince him that it already was.

Or, she supposed, she could joke. "Well, I'm not surprised. Have you seen your father? He's probably the most handsome bachelor in the kingdom."

Gualtiero sniffed. "He'll be forty-two in July."

"Aged like a fine wine." Alina winked. One of her mother's favorite ways of teasing her father was to remark loudly how attractive she found Sir Bernardo, and as they'd grown into their appreciation of the male form, Alina and her sisters had to admit that the joke had rooted with a seed of truth. "Who is he marrying?"

"Maddie. You know, the innkeeper here on campus."

"Of course I know--she's my step-cousin, after all. But you like Maddie." Everybody liked Maddie! She was lovely. And she sold them alcohol. "She's not closing up the inn, is she?"

"No, she just plans on commuting. But that's not the point." He sighed. Sighing didn't suit him. Alina was sure he'd be back to his old self once things settled, but this angst would be a painful sight while it lasted. "I mean... I know that my mother's been gone a while now, and that my father has to move on with his life. It just doesn't seem like it's been as long as it has, you know?"

"Well... you know I don't know firsthand, so I won't pretend otherwise." Though, she did have to admit, it was difficult to imagine either of her parents with anyone else, even if the other had been gone a decade. "But I suppose I can understand, at least. You'll always miss your mother. And even if he's marrying someone else, I'm sure your father will too. Maddie still misses Artan, after all."

"That's true. I guess they at least know each other's loss." Gualtiero slid to the center of the bench and slung an arm around Alina's shoulders, pulling her close in a half-hug. "Thank you. I hadn't really considered that. Not that it makes me feel entirely better, but... I don't know. You always make me feel a little better."

"Guess I'll take what I can get, then." Alina let her head fall to his shoulder and smiled. "For what it's worth... I'm sure your mother is happy for your father."



Van said...

Since I can't fairly expect people to keep track of the millions of characters in this story, Maddie is the eldest of Falidor's adoptive/stepchildren, making her Raia's stepdaughter. She was married to Seoth and Laureina's eldest son, who passed away a couple years ago; they have three children who exist on paper. Any kids she and Bernardo have will also only exist on paper unless I need them to show up, since neither parent is a direct descendant of a Naroni founder (and that lot will need space for Gualtiero's kids, since Hilla was a direct founder descendant).

Well, Happy New Year, everybody! 2016 looks like a mathematically stable number. After the last few years (for me, at least--and for the world as a whole, on the political and environmental sides), here's hoping that's a sign for better things to come.

Winter said...

Absolutely hoping for a better year for everyone! 2016 is a nice, round, appealing number. Let the year be that way, too.

Gosh, I love these two together. So sweet.

Sorry, Gualtiero, but your dad is pretty hot. I know it must get tiresome to hear, but...

But in all seriousness, the whole parent moving on with their life thing can be pretty tough at any age. Adapting to a life without a parent is really hard but it's not a choice you get to make. You just have to do it, and more times than not you can accept the choice that was made for you, even if it never stops hurting. Accepting that you lost someone and now someone new who had no place in the original family is going to be there and your parent/loved one isn't is much different. Some people heal in the way they can accept it and be happy, some never do, and some, seemingly like Gualtiero, go through a second process. But if he's willing to try, he's on his way toward a good outcome already.

Van said...

Indeed! Come on, 2016. Let's go for balance.

They are quite cute together. I kind of regretting not showing them as teenagers. Their moms were best friends and their dads were cousins, so they've known each other forever, and Alina always kind of brought Gualtiero out of his shell a bit. She grew up to be quite flirty and popular, but at the end of the day, she always had a soft spot for him. Meanwhile, he's just dead gone on her.

Yeah... I don't really know what to say about losing a parent young, other than that it must be one of the worst things that can happen to a kid (er, assuming that they weren't a super shitty parent, at least). The other parent getting involved with someone else, even after some time has passed? That's got to be rough. But, I think Gualtiero and his siblings have enough of their mother in them to realize that even if they're not over losing her, they don't want to risk losing their dad as well, even if it's just a temporary rift. They'll pull through--and Maddie is far from the worst stepmother Bernardo could have found for them.