February 22, 2016

In Which Cladelia Would Prefer a Better Word

July 20, 1198

"Well... it's nice that Celina still invites me to family dinners," Nythran sighed as he sat down next to Cladelia on the bench. As of a quiet half-minute prior, they were the only two in the room. Cladelia's youngest was down for her nap. Her son was a couple years younger than Nythran's, enough that the older Ovrean likely found his cousin of the same name annoying, but Nythran's Ovrean had a slingshot and had been itching to show it off to an admiring party. When it came to the girls--minus the baby, of course--Cladelia's was the senior of the two, but Lileina fancied herself grown-up enough now to at least try to put up with the antics of younger cousins. She also wished others would fancy her grown-up, so of course she needed an excuse to play with her dolls--and what better excuse was there than a younger guest in need of indulgence? Not that it much looked like indulgence, what with Lileina being the one to drag Holladrin off in glee.

As for Celina and the visiting King Oswald, they were probably still in conference with Lorn. They'd be back soon, and not without Lorn's branch of the family in tow... but as unused as Cladelia was to being alone with her dead husband's dead sister's widower, she didn't want to guess at what her sweet, loving mother-in-law would have thought of that musing.

"Don't be absurd. You know Celina; you'll always be a son to her."

Nythran shrugged. "I know that's her intention, but it doesn't always play out that way. My father and Camaline rarely see each other if they don't have a reason to see each other, and he only sees much of Nata because my stepmother is her grandmother. I won't even get into the mess with Karlspan."

"Well, Karlspan did that to himself--practically abandoning your niece like that. You'd never do that to your children." Nor, if her cousin Ren's latest letter implied what she thought it implied, would Nythran had taken to sniffing out hints about Ren and Searle's twin nieces, who'd at least been spared those visits by virtue of being at the university. Those girls couldn't have been older than Karlspan's own daughter--if they were even as old.

"Fair point. But Camaline and Nata are still good people, and my father thinks highly of them--but if they come to dinner, it's mostly as the mothers of my nephews."

"Perhaps it's different with men; the lot of you do seem to take pride in pretending you don't feel much." The weight of the band around her finger might have been that of a cannonball. Searle, in that sense, had been different. Wonderfully different--to the point where she shouldn't have been surprised that they hadn't had long, because not many things of such beauty dared risk outliving their own perfection. "Celina is a woman, and she and you are the two who loved her daughter best. Riona is at her most alive when the two of you are together."

"Hmm." Thoughtful--oddly enough for a man of their age, most of them so unwilling to heed a woman's opinion--Nythran's lips eased into a faint smile. "I never thought of it that way. Thank you, for that."

Cladelia nodded. He'd been without his love longer than she'd been without hers. If such a realization had been lost on him, regardless of whether or not he'd outgrown the need to stroke his own ego, then what hope could she have had for herself, a few years down the road? "It wasn't any trouble."

"Perhaps not, but I needed to hear it." Nythran's hand moved a few inches outward, only to retreat back, as if he'd meant to pay a reassuring squeeze to Cladelia's own but thought better of it. They were kindred spirits now, she supposed, or would be in time--but for now, she appreciated the respectful distance. "I hope, once some time is passed, that you and her find the same with Searle."

Once some time had passed.

Six more months, another year, another five... the word 'some' could have meant as little as a few weeks, or as long as the rest of her life, and it would have been pointless to venture a guess. Whenever a mind thought it had a formula for the speed of grief, life would throw a new factor into the equation, and Cladelia had never been one for complex mathematics anyway. She preferred words. She would have preferred a better word than 'some'.

But, for now, 'some' was all she had.

"Thank you."


1 comment:

Van said...

1198 has sort of been a year of Auto-Naronis so far. :S