February 26, 2016

In Which Lyssa Is as Close to an Expert

August 21, 1198

Lyssa blinked, unsure of what to make of the confession she'd just heard. Renata would have leaned back in her chair and gaped, half impressed by the boldness of it all, half astounded that such an ill-thought-out scheme had survived for so long. CeeCee would have had the whole thing figured out in minutes and would have had several volumes' worth of thought on the conditions that had bred such desperate plots bouncing about her head before Mona even finished the story. Alya would have produced the perfect blend of concern and sympathy, not a trace of pity or judgment about her, and offered to help however she could.

As opposed to her peers, Lyssa had always felt more decorative than functional--and, most of the time, she supposed she was all right with that. But the whatever reason the princess had for sharing the tale with her, she didn't think she could be of much use, except as maybe a confidante.

But, the confidante role was reserved for friends, which Lyssa and Mona were not. Why would they have been? When Mona had set off to be married, the biggest stress in Lyssa's life had been the shame of occasional bed-wetting. Even if such an age difference hadn't existed, their families had always been wary of each other and they had little in common personally besides. Nowadays, Lyssa's husband had occasional dealings with the knights and lords of Carvallon, but nothing that would have brought him to the palace; it was possible that he knew this Sir Zareth, or at least knew of him, but not to the point where he'd have heard much about the man's wife, or would have suggested that their wives could make good company for one another.

She supposed all she could do, at this point, was ask. "Why are you telling me this?"

"Why shouldn't I? You and everyone else in both kingdoms will know soon enough; Anna and I have determined that we can't keep up the lie much longer, not with both sets of children as old as they are now. That, and my brother is dead, and from what I know of Dea... I don't believe she'd take any personal offense?"

The pout in Mona's lip gave a hint of a plea to the question. Maybe that was it. Lyssa was of an age with Dea. They may not have been close, but they'd spent their lives attending the same events and had even lived in the same house while at the university. And it wasn't impossible that they'd be sisters-in-law some day, if Lyssa's brother's courtship with Dea's sister progressed as he hoped it would. As far as the population of Carvallon was concerned, Lyssa was as close to an expert on Queen Dea as they could get.

"No, she wouldn't. She's... not always the warmest person, but she's fair, and not without a concept of familial discord; she'd understand your not wanting to be a bargaining chip. And she's far too reasonable to declare war based on a years-old half-slight."

Mona sighed, the tension about her form visibly easing. It was as close to relaxed as she'd been since her arrival, when Xetrica had screamed to Lyssa from the bottom of the stairs that someone was at the door--a lucky thing that nothing short of thunder could rouse baby Jadin from his naps. "That's... that's a relief."

Lyssa couldn't say much in answer to that. From what she knew of the Carvalli Royal Family, she herself would have been much more worried about Devidra. "Does... Anna's mother-in-law know?"

"Um, yes, apparently. Anna went to confess to her a few weeks back, and Devidra told her before she could even start that she'd known more or less that whole time. I suppose she wanted to figure out which of us had initiated the switch before making any calls she couldn't take back." Mona offered a sheepish grin that would have been quite out of place on the aloof-yet-mischievous older princess she remembered from her early years. "I guess she knows what it's like to have your father insist on your marrying a stranger."

"Hmm." It was true that many women of high rank did. Knowing that, Lyssa herself couldn't have asked to be born into a better family than her own, nor to have chosen a better man as the father of her children. Poor Landus's parental issues could have almost rivaled Dea's--but luckily, he was the sort to take such occurrences as examples on how not to raise his own children. "Well, if Devidra's not a concern, and Dea's not a concern, and Adrius isn't a concern either, then I suppose it just comes down to riding out the scandal."

"I hope you're right about that. If nothing else, I... I guess I can be glad for my parents' sake that they won't be around to endure it. I at least got a chance to come clean to my mother before she died, and she took it better than I'd thought she would, but she would have hated being the subject of scandal--and my father will rest better not knowing."

Lyssa nodded--though, privately, she hoped that at least Mona's brother was well aware and downright livid as he looked on from the fires of hell. She may not have been Mona's friend, but she was at least friend enough to Dea that an eternity of suffering didn't seem to cruel a fate for King Ietrin.

"Both of our families will go to Naroni in the Near Year. We'll come clean to the people of Carvallon before we leave, since they really are our people now, and the ones we've affected--but I think I'd prefer it if Dea had some degree of briefing before we arrive. Do you think you could maybe...?"

Lyssa exhaled. Dea, she knew well enough, would have no more difficulty with the situation than any of her other peers. Less, even. But, between queens and alleged queens, perhaps some degree of insight from a not-unfriendly source couldn't have hurt. "I'll write to her tonight."



Van said...

I don't know how this got written. Today is not a good word day. I can't even sort of think of what else I might possibly say here.

Winter said...

Hope your bad day turned into a good weekend!

Mona really has grown up. Even her presence seemed wiser, for all her look hasn't much changed. Life hasn't beaten her down, but it's taught her a lot at the same time. It's nice to see that she's putting in work toward smoothing things over, not just leaving it to the people who will be in the thick of it. (I doubt the common person cares at all who Sir Zareth's wife really is.)

Van said...

It's been several years since we last saw Mona, so I'd hope she would have grown up at least a little bit. ;)

Going out into the open with this is as big a step for Mona as it is for anyone else, if not bigger, so it's good to see her doing the best to make that step on her own terms. And it's true, the common person doesn't care who Sir Zareth's wife is, or even who the queen is as long as things are going well for Carvallon (which they are, in no small part thanks to Anna).