October 9, 2016

In Which Holladrin Approves Any Addition

July 4, 1202

"There! Is that better, you fussy little boy?" Holladrin watched her son's face ease with relief as she tested his blankets with a pinch of her fingers. Her mother-in-law, the kingdom's premier midwife since its founding days, new better than anyone how to swaddle an infant, but Tarien always seemed to want more wiggle room than the typical baby of his size. Odd, seeing as he never wiggled much once he had that room, preferring only to writhe about in shameless annoyance when he didn't.

How would the poor tailors manage, once he was of an age to do the same with his clothing? "You should take advantage of your swaddling days, you know. Once you're free to move about, it's only a matter of time before you'll be expected to do things, and life won't be just naps and cuddles and... excrement."

"Well, there will always be excrement," came Searle's voice from the doorway, more sigh than statement.

Holladrin frowned. If he'd chosen to flip her words into a commentary on life rather than tease her about how she was talking to a baby about bodily functions, then there must have been some of that so-called excrement with which to deal. "What's wrong?"

Her husband folded his hands in front of him and cracked his knuckles--a standard for him, if he would have preferred to use those knuckles to knock someone's teeth out but was too polite to do so. "Your father is here."

Of course. The teeth that every man who cared about her wanted to knock out the most. "That's strange."

"My father said the same--only, peppered with a few words I don't know if this little boy needs to hear yet. But my father must not be as terrifying as your grandfather, because he's still here."

"So he'll show up unexpected on a random day for no reason, but our wedding was out of the question." Of course, her twelve-year-old self would have been ecstatic had he shown up for any reason at all. If only she could reach back in time and slap some sense into that stupid girl. "Tell him I've gone out."

Searle cringed. "Actually, all he said when I was in earshot was that he wanted to meet his grandson."

That ought to have surprised her more than it did. "So he'll acknowledge that he has a grandson. Then again, he did acknowledge that he had a daughter and seemed to consider that in itself decent parenting. If he goes through the trouble of looking at Tarien once, then he can call himself grandfather of the year."

Of course, Tarien had a grandfather--Searle's father--who could have been in the running for that title in earnest. And he also had a great-grandfather, her grandfather, who had won it twenty-two years straight. "I'm not subjecting our son--or any other children we might have--to any of that."

"So... I'll tell him to take a long walk off a short pier? Or some more biting version of that I can say when there's no baby in the room?"

"First off, tell him that he can't be a grandfather if he hasn't been a father first." In her arms, little Tarien blew a few saliva bubbles and let their remnants drip down his mouth. Searle reached over and wiped the drool away with his sleeve. How comforting it was, knowing that if she dropped dead tomorrow, her son would have a father who'd never dream of abandoning him. "And then you can add whatever you like."


1 comment:

Van said...

...yes, we are going by the "It still counts as Saturday if I haven't gone to bed yet" rules. ;)