July 1, 2016

In Which Shahira Sends Herself

March 25, 1201

Shahira tapped her foot in an impatient bid for Nato's acknowledgment. Their father didn't want to push the matter outside of Nato's own hands, and her mother could no longer discuss it without upsetting herself. Severin, the only one of their siblings young enough to still be at home but old enough to possibly understand, had taken the approach of minding his own business--which Shahira would have preferred for herself, had the option been there.

But Alina didn't have the patience for such talks, and Alya somehow occupied both their father's camp and their mother's at once, so that left Shahira. Today, at least, had not been the worst day she could have resolved to get it over with. Nato was home for the weekend, so there was no need to ride all the way out to campus. Both of her children were in a reasonably social mood, so a play-date with her youngest siblings hadn't been out of the question. She'd brought them over as an excuse, then had Aldhein show them to the playroom after asking if Nato was around. He'd just returned, and had headed for their father's study.

Shahira scowled as he continued to ignore her--rather an insult, as that door always creaked. "Don't tell me you damaged your ears while training."

Her brother tossed the poker he'd been holding aside and turned around, groaning. "So now Mother's sent you to pester me about that."

"I sent myself, baby brother. I'm concerned. Seems every time I ask about you when you're not in class, you're out training."

"And that's strange? I'll be graduating in September, in case you've forgotten. If I'm going to be a knight, I have to be in shape--and don't think about telling me otherwise."

"What otherwise? That it's probably not the best idea for someone with your condition to become a knight?" She crossed her arms over her chest. First sons of knights typically followed that path themselves, but their mother had been fighting this since Nato's earliest fits, fearing he'd fall off his horse before he even got to the battlefield. Their father had pointed out that Naroni's chances of going to war any time soon were approximately zero, and that not all knights would be sent to the battlefield if they did--Sir Setran, for example, who was infamously hopeless with all variety of weaponry. Nato, if he insisted on becoming a knight--and their father swore that he wouldn't intervene either way--could stay behind the lines in the event of war as a strategist.

There was wisdom in her father's words, but Shahira had to wonder if Nato only wanted to be knight because he'd grown up expecting to be one. He couldn't see that there were other options. "There are other paths, you know. You're smart; there's a lot you could do."

"Like what? I suppose being a reeve isn't the best idea for someone with 'my condition'. Be a steward like your husband? A solicitor? A professor at the university?" Nato nearly spat the last suggestion out in distaste. "I'm bored, Shahira. I can't keep waking up every morning knowing that each day will be exactly the same as the one before. If I had to do that for years during what should be the prime in my life, I'd probably have to kill myself--not out of any actual desire to die, but for sheer lack of any point in delaying it."

"You're so morbid." Shahira rolled her eyes. In hindsight, she probably shouldn't have told him all those horrific bedtime stories when they were growing up. "Get yourself a wife, then. Family's never the same day in and day out."

"Yes, because if I'm truly as delicate as Mother thinks I am, then it's a good idea to have children relying on me to put food on the table." Nato sighed, eyes shut briefly before meeting Shahira's again. "By the way, if Mother asks about this talk--and I know she well--tell her that my becoming a knight means that I get to inherit this castle so long as neither Father nor I do anything to piss off Grandfather or Wolf. And that means that I'll be living with her until one of us dies. Wouldn't she feel more comfortable that way, knowing that I'm only ever a few flights of stairs away for her to fret over?"

"Good Lord. You talk as if she's made a hobby of it. This isn't fun for her, you know." He'd understand that if he ever had children of his own, but she wouldn't presume to make that her business. "You're at least not going alone, are you?"

"No. Roddie insists on joining me all the time. Him when I'm home, and Darry on campus--I blame Alya and Aspen, respectively."

"You can blame them--but I'll thank them. I don't want you getting hurt."

"And I'm not trying to hurt myself. Can I just assure you that I've talked things over with Father, and Grandfather? And Aunt Raia, when she called me in to talk about the applications of my major?" Aunt Raia didn't typically do that for students; their mother must have put her up to it. "Look, the only thing that matters here is that I'm an adult now. I can fuck up my own life if I want to."



Van said...


S.B. said...

I sympathize with Shahira but Nato's got to do what he feels makes his life worthwhile, and if he risks falling off a horse, then he does. The carrot he tells Shahira to offer his mother is kind of awful, isn't it? 'Let me do this and you can watch me the rest of your life.'

The light in these shots is wonderful.

Van said...

Heheh. Yeah, it is kind of awful. XD I think Riona has lived most of her life as a parent fearing that her kids would end up being just as reckless as she was back in the day.

Nato... well, he has to live his own life, and that means taking risks that he deems worth taking. Shahira and Riona don't have to like it, but as long as he's doing anything downright evil, they have to respect it.