Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chapter Seventeen: Greater Love

Now that Donya and I are both strong enough, we have returned home from the witches' camp. Markius greets us inside, and happily, he is sober.

His first words upon seeing our daughter are, "Why is she so white?"

"Because she's special," I answer.

"You know what they say about strange colored children. You remember what that blind seer said."

"Don't be ridiculous." I regret ever telling him that story. "Strangeling children are just a superstition. She's perfect."

Markius seems awkward with Donya. He holds her at arms length, as though she is going to make a mess on him.

And in some cases, he is right.

Life is so much different with a new baby in the house. The poor thing has colic, and I would give up everything I hold dear if I could only make her feel better. There are potions for it, but they have not worked for her. Nothing works.

Sleep has become precious... and impossible. I am almost certain that Markius fakes it when Donya cries at night.

I go to her cradle, as I will do every time she needs me. As I hold her in my arms and sing a lullaby my mother once sang for me when I was sick, she looks at me with sleepy eyes.

I nurse her and rub the persistent bubble in her tummy. Only hours later, she cries for me again. All that I can do is hold her close to me and bounce her gently. I kiss her cheek and whisper how much I love her.

I take her into my bedroom so that I may lie down as I comfort her. Markius can no longer pretend he is sleeping.

"I don't know how much more of this I can take," he groans. "Who ever heard of a baby who cried this much?"

"She can't help that she's hurting. Didn't you think of this when you once thought about having children?"

"I actually never thought about having children," he admits.


"Aye. I know how much you wanted a baby, but I never saw myself as a father." 

"Why not?"

He sighs. "Because I never had one. Not one that I remember, anyway. It was just me and my mother, and beating the ever-loving shit out of me was her only source of stress-release. That's why I started drinking at ten. She died when I was seventeen and I didn't even cry. Not once."

"Oh." I knew his relationship with his mother had been bad, but I never would have guessed it was that bad. "I... I'm so sorry."

"Don't be sorry," he says. "It's just that without any kind of decent parent in my life, what reason did I have to think I'd be worth a damn as one?"

"It doesn't have to be like that," I try to assure him. "You could be a wonderful father." Then, as an afterthought, "And husband."


I had hoped that having a child would change Markius into a better man, and in the beginning, it did. He'd begged my forgiveness for being so inattentive when I was in labor.

He bought be a ruby necklace to say it best, and I didn't want to imagine how much he paid for it. A new cauldron or potion book would have been just as good, but it was a lovely gesture.

"I thought I was dreaming," he explained. "I'd had a pretty rough night that night and... well, I feel awful."

"Never mind," I told him. "We're both fine, so no harm done."

"That's my girl."

Yes, I'd hoped so much . But now he's gone again. Now, instead of having his boys over, he goes out with them, and stays away for nights on end. The bedroom is so empty and drafty without him and the sheets are too cold. All I ever wanted was some greater love than being someone's forgotten housewife.

And I have found it. My beautiful daughter--my life's greatest purpose. In spite of my loneliness, she is mine, and at least we have each other.

I watch her sleep, breathing so peacefully, those nights of colic now forgotten.

I pick her up and sway with her, humming softly. She yawns and lays her head on my shoulder, then I carry to her my bed.

She nuzzles her head to me and drifts away to the rise and fall of my chest. I fall asleep with her in my arms.

She is all that I need.


There is an indescribable magic in watching your child grow before your eyes. Everyday, I see her learn and change.

I hold her tiny hands in mine as I guide her feet across the rug. Her legs are still wobbly, but that is more than fine with me. "Please don't grow up too quickly."

She grins at my request, as if she had control over such things.

I share with her everything I know about potions. I show her my books and tools and ingredients, explaining it all to her as if she understands. Perhaps she does. My mother always told me I was a natural--maybe she will be as well.

"No, baby! You can't eat the ingredients!"

The witches adore Donya. They always make a big fuss over her when I come by to visit Keiry or pay my dues. She is their future queen, after all.

Her Auntie Keiry shows her off around the camp and she squeals at all the attention.

Galaea insists on seeing her regularly. She holds her and speaks to her in a grandmotherly manner and refers to her as her sweet little protege. I was surprised that Galaea would be so kindly to her after her initial reaction to Donya, but I know why she does it.

Endear the child to her at a young age, indoctrinate her early. I knew who Donya would be the moment I suspected she would be a girl, but seeing Galaea so close to her bothers me. How can I object when this is her destiny? But I will teach her my own lessons, to ensure that she becomes a far better leader than her predecessor.

"You will become my apprentice," I tell her when I take her to the marketplace, "just like I was to my mama."

The customers gather to see her and I show her how to interact with them.

As I am closing up shop at the end of the day, my breath catches at a sight that I was not prepared for. 

From the looks of him, he is a man like any other, in clothes that are quite common.

Just a father walking with his son at the marketplace. But I would know him anywhere.

I know that face better than my own.

Before I can stop myself, I scoop up my daughter and approach him. "A rather undignified state for a king to be in, wouldn't you agree?" I can feel the heat rising in my face as I spit out the words.

He answers with the same easy smile he gave me when we first met. "I suppose so." He laughs. "I wanted to show Dracarus the town square. Incognito, of course. No need to create a scene."

"Baby!" Donya cries. Lothar's son sniffs at her in reply.

"And who is this little darling?" Lothar asks.

"This is my daughter, Donya."

"Oh. I see." His eyes dim out of focus, as though he is somewhere far away in his mind.

"Forgive me," I say. "I fell in love with the name, back when..." the obstruction in my throat will not let me continue.

"Nothing to forgive," he answers. "Consider the name my gift to you."

We sit down on a bench by the fountain and watch our children play together. They seem to like each other immediately. I suppose sometimes people just connect.

"I think they're falling in love," Lothar says with a smirk.

"No, don't do that!" I scold them. "You're far too young." And it will kill you.

We laugh and it's absurd how easy this is, to just sit and joke with him like old friends.

"It's strange," Lothar says.

I nod in agreement.

"Just being here with you, it feels... This is going to sound odd, I'm sure, but I feel free."

Years worth of pent up anger and frustration rise in me.  "You just don't get it, do you? What--"  My next four words were going to be she's done to you, but he interrupts them with four words of his own.

"I have missed you."

I sigh, my outrage quieted and my resolve defeated. "I miss you too."

And then I just... lose myself.


  1. Hmm. I was thinking that they'd, er, rekindle in some way to some extent at some point. I was going to say that I didn't figure it would happen in public, but on second thought... I don't know how much of a concern it is if it never gets back to either of their spouses or the witches (except maybe Keiry, and Corynne will probably her in confidence anyway). If the townspeople recognize Lothar... hey, he's the king. If the king is having an affair, the commoners probably aren't going to make a big deal of it, because kings do what they want. And I'm guessing Markius never stops by Corynne's stall during the day, so as far as anyone knows, she's unattached. As for the witches, I'm going to bet that none of the townspeople make a habit of going to the compound for a bit of gossip.

    Knowing Corynne's luck, though, I'm sure something bad will come of this. :S

    Yeesh, Markius. Try a little harder. At least Corynne's no longer essentially alone in that house, but still. He could stand to pay some attention to his wife and child every once in a while. What an ass.

    Lastly... awww, the kids are so cute! I hope Dracarus doesn't take after his mother too strongly.

    1. You're right, kings do what they want. The affair is safe from discovery... at least for now ;) People are pretty uneasy about the witches, and with the exceptions of Corynne and her mother, they don't make a habit of traveling outside the confines of their walled little world.

      Corynne is rather unlucky, though.

      I know, Markius is such an ass here. As silly as it sounds, I actually cried when writing this chapter. Some of the loneliest people in the world are married, trust me. He is an overgrown child, which makes sense considering he had a beastly childhood, but still. He signed checks he couldn't cash when he was under Corynne's spell, but now that it's worn off, she's merely an afterthought.

      Aren't they cute?!?!?! They are both stunning as adults. Kids often take after both of their parents, in the most interesting of ways...

  2. And it appears Blogger is going to actually let me comment...

    I still got excited when Lothar and Corrynne began talking even though I sense nothing but trouble in that future. And I wish Markius could be better, he is flawed in such a real way, but I can't help but be frustrated with him!

    I'm really enjoying this story : )

    1. Silly Blogger. *Shakes head* Thank you, I am glad you are enjoying it! :)

      Ah, trouble trouble. It would seem that Donya is not the only "child of trouble" in this story, but then, adulterous affairs are often trouble no matter who you are. Markius is very flawed. Maybe he'll grow up soon, in time to smell the roses? We'll just have to wait and see ;)

  3. I'm surprised that Corynne named her child Donya. I don't think I could do it. It would be too difficult and a constant reminder of what could have been.
    I can't help but feel nervous for Donya's future. It was odd seeing her in Galatea's lap, like she was in danger. That woman is so wicked.
    I'm so curious about the seer's warning coming to light. I wonder how the trouble will manifest itself.
    Oh, Markius. Why couldn't you stay as you were when you first came into Corynne's life? Selfless - charming - attentive
    I liked that you touched upon his background. He definitely had a rough upbringing, but that should make him want to be a better parent that much more, especially since he acknowledged his shortcomings with an apology. He's not as oblivious as I thought.
    Lothar! I'm still ticked with him even though he was manipulated. I couldn't have imagined things turning out the way it has between them. Corynne has gone through so much and she handles things fairly well considering her bad luck streak just won't let up.
    Your storytelling is wonderful. Looking forward for the next chapter. =)

    1. Honestly, I don't think I could have done it either, but she did have her heart set on the name. Donya's future is definitely uncertain. Galaea is certainly wicked, but very clever. She is not happy about who the first baby girl was born to, but if she were to go back on her word, that would make her out to be a liar to all of the witches. Her best option is to endear Donya to her, so that she will not turn away from her when she is older. Donya's greatest danger is Ivaine.
      Markius indeed. He can be charming, but when he was under Corynne's spell (unwittingly, of course) he was on his best behavior and honestly did want to give her everything. The truth is, Markius is terrified of parenthood and he's made a habit of running from his problems--or rather, drinking them away.
      Lothar's starting to come around. He finally admits he still feels something for Corynne, but he is still to proud to own up to the fact that Ivaine brainwashed him. Corynne has actually surprised me. She was one way when I first created, but the more I write her, the more I get to know her character and she is more resilient than I would have thought.
      Thank you for commenting, and I'm glad you are enjoying the story :)