January 19, 2016

In Which Celina Places the Piece Upward

October 22, 1197

"There now," Celina soothed her newest granddaughter, determined to keep her focus more to the baby herself rather than the fact that Searle would never have another child. "Everyone gets the hiccups sometimes; you're doing quite well with breathing despite being so new to it."

The baby hiccuped again, face scrunched in a wail of discomfort against Celina's shoulder. Her face was as ruddy as either of her siblings' newborn faces before her, but her hair--what little of it she had--was more of a strawberry blond, as opposed to Lily and Ovrean's tomato red. Some part of Celina might have hoped to see Searle's auburn hair, but perhaps the lack of it was for the best; it was easier to see the baby as herself this way, and not just as Searle's baby. Baby hair could be fickle, but if it was to turn auburn, the girl would have grown into a personality by then.

On the bed, Cladelia rubbed at her now-vacant womb. The poor woman. She'd been so protective of this baby, so keen to keep to strict dietary regimens and the recommended bracket of activity and everything else the midwives had to offer, even though this hadn't been much of a risky pregnancy to begin with. The last month had brought this to an even higher notch, with Searle dead and buried. This baby was the last Cladelia had left of him.

And she still was. But a baby in the belly was a different matter from a baby in the arms, as Celina knew better than most. Once outside the womb, a baby was a separate creature, a whole new human--not just some surviving piece of Searle for Cladelia to keep inside of herself.

But, she'd come to realize--Celina hoped, at least--that there was still a piece of Searle inside of her. It just sat rather upward of the womb.

"There--I think that was the last of them." Celina patted the baby on the back, the hiccups now reduced to a steady pant of recovery. "She's a good weight for a baby--bigger than the other two were. But not big enough to give you any more trouble, I hope?"

"No." Cladelia shook her head, though she didn't dare look toward the baby. "No, she was good. Easier than Ovrean, actually. Very good."

"Have you chosen a name for her?" When Arydath had announced the baby's sex, the name was precisely the reason Celina had been relieved to hear she was a girl. A posthumous boy would have been--and should have been, perhaps--named for his father, but Celina didn't think she could handle another little Searle in the house just yet. And she doubted Cladelia would be ready for another little Searle before it was her own grandson.

"Well, I suppose she should have your name; Searle ought to have a daughter named for his beloved mother." Cladelia made a half-hearted attempt at a smile. It was no more convincing than a dairy cow in stallion's tack, but Celina could appreciate the effort. "A good thing we chose Ovrean's name for our son; had we used my father's name, Searle never would have had a son named for his father."

Cladelia, grief-stricken as she was now, was still young and healthy and beautiful. Celina wouldn't dare mention it just yet--surely she would have clawed the eyes out of anyone who'd suggested it when she'd been mourning Dalston!--but she doubted very much that Cladelia would be unmarried for too many years. She would have a son named for her own father yet.

So, knowing that, Celina nodded. "Searle and his father were always close."



Van said...

Eyelids are heavy. :(

Winter said...

Cladelia's conflicting feelings about the birth was a point really nicely done. Her sadness was reasonable and realistic. She made sure the baby was born healthy, but it's hard to be overjoyed when reminded your partner in life is gone. I'm with Celina, though. She doesn't seem the type to mourn forever and abstain from life.

Van said...

Thanks! Yeah... it's a bittersweet moment in Cladelia's life. She loves this baby, but she's going to be a reminder of Searle for a while yet. :(

But, Celina's learned to read people, and she's gone through the pain of losing a husband twice before. Even if she keeps on loving Searle forever, Cladelia's life isn't over.