Saturday, January 25, 2014

'In Her Service'--Part 30

“…so, yeah, twice as many letters to write now,” said Elaine casually. “Which is… kind of annoying, because to my own vast surprise, I’m not a letter-writer, but still--it’ll be worth it. And Nan and Marfisa have a lot in common, so that’ll probably take some of the slack off me.”

Jean smiled enigmatically. “You’d think so, wouldn’t you?”

Elaine scowled at her aunt. “Oh what are you talking about? Of course they’ll get along--they’re both kind of fluttery and nice, and…” She blinked. “Oh, crap. Oh, crap! Once they start getting along, they’ll abandon me! Just like always happens!”

Jean coughed. “I wouldn’t go as far as that, but…”

“Only because you don’t know!” groaned Elaine. “This has always happened to me! I go, or move, or something, and my friends all realize they don’t really like me!”

“What about me?” said Jean. “I still like you, and I’ve gotten plenty of time to consider how irritating you can be?”

“You don’t count!” said Elaine. “You’re family!”

“But I didn’t know that for a long time!” protested Jean.

“Yeah, but maybe, you felt it, or something,” muttered Elaine, shaking her head. “Oh, I’ve got to get to work on those letters now…”

Jean sighed. “Well, now I feel guilty for messing with you.”

“These have to be the best damn letters ever written,” said Elaine. “Letters so good, they both realize I am incredibly, incredibly awesome, and they are being HONORED to have my friendship…” She blinked and turned towards Jean. “I’m sorry--did you say something?”

Jean shook her head. “Not really, no.”

Elaine nodded. “Battles! Marfisa loves that stuff!” She scratched her chin. “But I don’t think Nan does…” Jean lightly tugged her niece’s sleeve. “Maybe… maybe I can open with a selection from the Trimegtian Odes…” Jean tugged again. “Look, Jehannine du Lac, I am deep in thought here, and…” Jean gestured towards a side hall. Elaine turned and saw Pelleas standing there. “Oh.” She nodded at the King of Leonais. “Hello there, Your Highness. Thought you were still deep in that strategy chat in the Chamber of Grim Finality.”

Pelleas blinked. “Why is a pleasant little tearoom called…?” He shook his head. “Never mind. I was. Your mother and stepfather, and the rest still are. But I felt I’d served my part. So I left.”

Elaine nodded. “Ahh.”

Pelleas nodded back at her. “Indeed.”

Jean looked at them for a moment, then began to walk away. “Yeah, I’m going to let you two iron things out here.”

“What?” Elaine stared at Jean in desperation. “But… you can’t.”

“Just watch me,” said Jean. She turned and shrugged. “The situation’s awkward enough without me hanging around.”

Elaine glared at her aunt, and then shifted that glare onto Pelleas. “Look, I don’t know what you imagine you are going to do…”

Pelleas raised a hand in fairly regal manner, and Elaine found herself quieting, despite wanting to continue to give the King of Leonais a piece of her mind. “Elaine--I have skated around this for months now, in hopes of a thaw, but as that has not happened, I’ve decided, with the bluntness that I am famous for in some circles--”

“‘Some circles’?” asked Elaine despite herself.

“Lightlander diplomatic circles,” said Pelleas. “Actually, many of them might be dead. Been out of the loop too long.” He coughed. “But that’s besides the point. Elaine--you are my blood--my granddaughter, and even though this relation comes in the most horri--”

“I don’t think of your son as my father, Pelleas,” hissed Elaine. “Do you understand me? He’s just this… awful thing that…” She shuddered. “Look, we both know what happened there. There is… no real family relation there. At all. Not in any way that counts”

“And I do not blame you for thinking that,” said Pelleas calmly. “But I am not he, and you and I, Elaine…”

Elaine’s eyes blazed. “What? What? Everything can be just fine and good and wonderful?” She bit her lips and tried to hold back the tears that were appearing to her own infinite surprise. “Is that what you’re saying?”

Pelleas shut his eyes. “Let me finish, Elaine. I… I don’t pretend that there is some way to destroy the horror of Amfortas’ actions. Things like that… linger.” He sighed. “When my wife died, so many old friends told me ’Do not worry, your grief will pass, time heals all wounds’. And by the Seven, they were dirty liars. I have reached the point where I remember only the memory of her face--and yet I still get a twinge in my heart thinking about her, as if she had died yesterday.”

Elaine stared at him, suddenly aware of how old, and tired he could look. “I… I’m sorry…”

Pelleas smiled at her. “I don’t break easy, Elaine. If the years have taught me one thing, they’ve taught me that.” He took a deep breath. “I don’t claim that the shadow of Amfortas’ evil can ever be simply--expelled between us. But I like to hope that we can have a decent relationship despite that shadow.” He shook his head. “It’s funny, in that… bitter way. When I was a younger man, I used to dream of having a granddaughter. Sometimes I think the Seven have toyed with me much of my life, giving my dreams in… such horrible ways.”

Elaine shifted awkwardly. “Well… I’m… glad you understand how awful it is being related to that… horrible… horrible man, and having his creepy eyes in my face…”

“You… what?” Pelleas stared at her. “Why do you think you have my son’s eyes…?”

Elaine realized she was crying bitterly now, and wasn’t quite sure when she’d started. “It’s how he recognized me,” she sobbed. “I’ve got the Pescheour eyes…”

“Well, that’s certainly true,” said Pelleas softly, “but--well, that covers a lot of ground. From men with chunks of ice in their sockets like my son to… well, someone like you.” He smiled at her gently. “Bluish-green, like a running river. My wife had eyes like that. You look a bit like her, in the face.”

Elaine sniffled. “R-really?” Pelleas nodded. “What… was her name?”

“Lydia,” said Pelleas. “Her name was Lydia.”

1 comment:

  1. My apologies for only posting this now, but I'll be taking a little vacation for the next two weeks. Naturally, there'll still be posts.