February 18, 2016

In Which Anna Is Not Forgiven

June 16, 1198

Anna fought to hold her ground as her eldest joined her in the study. He'd returned home for the break that morning, looking to have fared well during his first two terms at the university, healthy and rested as she could have hoped. He greeted his sisters with hugs and his brothers with ruffles to the heads, complete with the musing that little Caelan hadn't had any hair to tousle last he'd seen them. He'd kissed his grandmother on the cheek, then convinced her and his siblings all to hurry off ahead of him to the banquet table for an early lunch.

Upon their departure, he'd taken the opportunity to ask his parents why his Aunt Leara was under the impression that his mother--her own sister--was a teal-eyed blonde.

To that... well, all Anna and Adrius could do was to tell him to hurry along to the table with the rest of the family, and that Anna would talk to him in private once they had all eaten. Of course he would have run into Mona's family: at the university, through the university, of his own accord, however he'd ended up meeting Leara. They ought to have told him the truth before he'd left, but the question had always been... how? And how many years had it been, now? At some point, their lie had become more truth than not, and every time they'd talked about maybe telling the older children...

So complicated a knot did not easily unravel, even if one knew exactly where to tug--and, at this point, Anna didn't. All she could think to do was to hack away at the knot with a blade, to hell with whatever it held together.

"I suppose I'll start by assuring you that your father knows everything, and that I made sure he did before we were married."

Telvar sighed, unsurprised that she would have thought that a concern. He was his father's son, the clever boy; he'd no doubt mapped it all out in his head already. But, he needed to hear it from her. "All right."

"Look, King Roderick... well, he wasn't the worst man, but he wasn't the smartest." To say the least! "Nor was he the most... enlightened, I suppose. He had expectations of everyone in his life, all based on old archetypes with no place in real life, and he picked for a daughter a life that suited his purposes--not who she was, or what she wanted."

"So she didn't take it." At the very least, he hadn't accused her of stealing it from her. "Where is Ramona now?"

"This minute? At her home, I would presume, with her husband--your Uncle Zareth."

Telvar bit his lip--eyes steeled, but not surprised. Blond hair and teal eyes weren't the only reason he could have guessed that. He'd known who had first accompanied Anna to Carvallon, after all. "Aunt Anna."

Anna nodded. "Though, I suppose you might as well call her 'Aunt Mona' now."

"Then you're Anna."

She felt her skin tense, the sensation of her real name said in her son's voice once a distant dream she'd dared not cling to. It was difficult to imagine a way she wouldn't have preferred to have heard it. "We traded places in the carriage, as the guards weren't to look at us anyway. If it's any consolation at all, it wasn't my idea."

"I never wanted to believe it could have been." But he glanced down to his boots, as if to confess that--if only for a moment--he had. "Does Uncle Zareth know?"


"Anyone else?"

"Your Uncle Searle--and possibly your grandmother, but if she does, she's found it more to her advantage to keep it to herself, and your father and I know better than to mess with her."

"And did you ever plan on telling us?"

Him, and his sisters, and his brothers. Anna sighed. "We wanted to, but... well, as you can see, it's become quite complicated, and the damage wouldn't have been restricted to our own kingdom. King Roderick would have been humiliated, and King Ietrin would have been furious."

"But Queen Medea knows better than to start a pointless conflict over a teenage rebellion that happened twenty years ago--and being a woman in a man's world herself, she'd be bound to see Ramona's reasons for making the switch even if she wasn't known for her rationality. Twenty years is a long time, Mother; sure, there's bound to be talk, but it's not as if anyone can do much about it now, and there's no one in power at the moment stupid or petty enough to try. If nothing else... Mona's children deserve their place in the Naronian line of succession, even if there's barely a chance of them ever inheriting anyway."

"I don't disagree with you." She'd never met Queen Medea, but what she'd heard had been reassuring. How a pig like Ietrin had produced such a daughter, she'd never know.

And how two liars like herself and Adrius had produced this boy...

"I will discuss the possibility of a public drop of the charade with Mona and your father. For now, know that we will tell your sisters tonight, and Lari and Roderick once we figure out how best to explain such things to children." Caelan, at least, could grow up without the lie.

"I'm glad to hear it."

But there was little emotion in his voice, and Anna suspected it was because he couldn't bring himself to feign his proclaimed gladness. There were many things he ought to have felt about this--anger, sorrow, maybe some triumphant smugness--but gladness couldn't have been one of them. "I hope you can forgive me."

"Forgive you?" Brows knotted, he took a step forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm not angry with you, Mother. I'm... confused about the whole thing, and perhaps a little annoyed that you didn't tell me, but I'm not angry--and it isn't as if anything that happened before I was even born could have been done with the intention of harming me personally.

"I don't need to forgive you, Mother. There's nothing for me to forgive."



Van said...

Probably a good thing that next post is projected to land on a weekend, since the number of pictures indicates it will be longer than I'd originally expected...

Ann said...


*waves Queen Anna flag*

Van said...

It only made sense that any child of Anna and Adrius would grow up to be reasonable, sensitive, and empathetic, even when they arguably have good reason not to be. :)

Ekho said...

I'm so far behind!
Glad to know that the big switch will finally be revealed to everyone - and I agree Medea isn't going to react the way her father or grandfather would.

Van said...

No worries!

A decades-old case of someone not wanting to get married is not the sort of thing Dea would register as a huge concern. I'm sure she'll address the issue if it does go public, if only to assert that she isn't bothered--and therefore, no one else should be.