September 16, 2016

In Which Dora Does the Least

May 1, 1202

It took little effort for Dora to rise from the bed and no feverish fog engulfed her. That didn't mean she felt better.

My family. My mother. Oh God. How could I have done that to my family?

And how could she not have? She'd been miserable. She'd had a loving family yes, but what future had there been for someone like her? It was clear to her now that she'd never had a romantic interest in women, not as Teodrin and not now, so any wife Teodrin might have taken would have been doomed to a loveless marriage--and a childless marriage, likely even a sexless marriage. Life as a bachelor wouldn't have been impossible, but with the crippling insecurity and stunted social skills that had resulted, earning a living would have been easier said than done. The best option would have been to work for Hamrick--her brother, Hamrick--as a farmhand, and that was only 'best' in that Hamrick wouldn't have turned down his own brother. Teodrin would not have fancied farming, not to the point where he could have built a life around it and considered himself happy.

And Adonis! She wouldn't have had Adonis's love as Teodrin, she was almost certain of it. Even if Teodrin had come to fancy Adonis consciously, he never would have dared approach him, both for fear of rejection and the emotional torment over what the hell had to be wrong with him to fancy a man so.

And Ceidrid... her baby...

"You saw Ylwa, didn't you?"

A voice she'd known in both her lifetimes. Severin, her and her husband's friend, the man who'd walked her down the aisle for lack of any proper family. Severin, her older brother, clever and aloof and meeting everything he tried with either natural success or such decisive indifference that his failed attempts were almost impressive. To Dora, he was a comfort. To Teodrin, he'd been the distant and terrifying embodiment of everything he dared dream of being.

And he knew about Ylwa. If he knew about Ylwa, he knew all of it. "I--"

"It's all right. You don't have to talk if you don't want to." Severin rose from the bench at the foot of the bed and met her at the side. She didn't know what to expect from him, if he'd greet her as Dora or as Teodrin, if he would have even bothered greeting Teodrin beyond the barest acknowledgment of his existence before returning to whatever more interesting book or puzzle was at hand.

She hadn't expected a firm, fraternal hug--like she might have had she been Alina or Evera. "You have no idea what a relief it is to finally know you're safe."

Her brother. Her cold big brother who on his best of days might have let Teodrin have the larger dinner roll. How torn up inside the rest of the family must have been. "I'm so sorry..."

"Don't--well, I don't know. You don't need to apologize for who you are, and I can't say I've yet thought of any easy way you might have told us. We were worried beyond belief, but I don't blame you for not expecting the best reaction-wise. Not from everyone, at least." He kissed her on the brow, like brothers did their younger sisters, like she'd seen him kiss Holladrin when he'd felt it merited. "I don't think anything could make Mother stop loving you."

"Mother..." Her mother had all the love in the world to give. She'd even given in to Dora despite lack of any obligation, despite all the pain she must have still felt over Teodrin. "I must have hurt her so terribly."

"I suppose there's no sense in denying that. I hope you don't mind my saying that you really should tell her, some day." He stepped back, his hand trailing off her arm as it followed the rest of his body. "Not until you're ready, though."

What did it mean, to be ready to tell a thing like this? She wasn't sure she ever would be--but her mother deserved to know. In truth, the whole family did. "What about everyone else?"

"I... don't know." Severin sighed. Dora might have heard him admit to not knowing before, but Teodrin never had. As far as Teodrin had been concerned, anything Severin didn't know couldn't have been worth knowing anyway. "It's not my call. I can't make a guess at how everyone would react. Plus, if Father and all of our siblings know, then who's to say the in-laws and nieces and nephews shouldn't, then family friends, colleagues..."

"My husband."

"Right. Your husband." Her brother bit his lip. Adonis was a good man, but he had no concept of such things--almost nobody, good or not, did! The unfamiliar was often frightening, especially coming from a loved one, a person with whom there should have been no secrets. "Again, that's... up to you. I'm sorry I can't be of more help."

"It's fine." At least, the extent of his ability to help was fine. "I don't think I could expect any more of anyone here."

"You're probably right. Anyway, I don't know if you're up to seeing anyone else yet, but can I at least tell them that you're all right? You as Dora, I mean--with your illness."

Dora nodded. Everyone had spent enough time worrying over her, and it wouldn't be the last of it--not until she figured things out. The least she could do was let Severin assure them of her health. "Please do."



Van said...

Fall = Headaches

Not sure how it got to be the most popular season... :S

Ann said...

Oh good! I'm glad!
Hope this won't negatively affect her partnership with Adonis in any way! Whether she tells him or not.

And I'm sorry to hear about your headaches! Especially since I am hugely relieved that it's getting cooler and the air isn't so stiflingly still.
You get those headaches every year? Any notion on what's causing them?

Van said...

If nothing else, Adonis isn't necessarily a "need to know" case in the way, say, Rona was. Adonis would have been gone through his schooling with Severin, a few years ahead of Teodrin--so, really, Teodrin would have been just "Severin and Alina's awkward little brother" who he might have occasionally seen around but wouldn't have thought about too much. Dora's relationship with Adonis began when she was already Dora.

Transitional weather doesn't seem to agree with me. I'm fine in the winter and I'm fine in the summer, but spring and fall... yeah, not so much. :S