Vignette: Time is Running Out

Who: Zinovia
When: Month 5, 203 AT
Where: Silverfield Hold, Honshu Territory

She could not say that she had enjoyed being pregnant.

To her, and to everyone who felt that it was their business to tell her what she had to do to secure her Hold and bloodline, it had been a terribly practical matter, just like the conception that she had convinced her body to enjoy without succeeding in preventing her mind from recoiling from the whole affair. She’d had the medical understanding to deal with much of the side effects herself and comprehend what often frightened first time mothers in biological terms that kept her from running to the Hold’s Healers for more support than they insisted on providing, the process considered to be something her body knew how to do and was just getting on with.

She could not say that she had felt any bond with the child before it had been born.

Not it. She. In her time as an apprentice, she’d attended enough births to know that yes, sometimes the stories were true: a mother set eyes on their child and immediately adored them. But she’d also seen the myriad other sides of the story: mothers who surrendered their children to the foster system instantly; mothers who told Healers and midwives to take their baby away; mothers who held their children as if they were terrified of them; mothers who shut down, yet tried and tried regardless. Her own mother had provided her with many brothers and sisters (all gone now… all gone… had never really been able to think about it… duty first… there was a fall coming if she let herself… no, duty first…) and made it look easy. She had never wanted for love and affection – or a telling off if she thought she would ever become one of those lazy Lord’s daughters.

She could not say that she had expected to love her own baby.

Resenting the idea of her had been an easy thing. Wondering if she would be her father’s daughter another. Hating the room of Lords and Harpers that had made the demands of her body and relationship to keep her people safe from the misunderstandings of a more cruel master than she was second nature. But the worst of it was that she had set eyes on her tiny, screaming daughter and loved her. In the days following her birth, she had registered the existence of hardly anyone beyond her daughter, wife and their dragons. That her Hold insisted that she keep it running smoothly and her people still trusted that she heard and believed in them became what she resented, even as weeks passed and she made herself hand Zaimika over to her nannies for longer and longer periods of time.

She could not say that she wanted to go through it all again.

But her body was healed and Zaimika was weaned from her milk just as early as any, more distant, Lady’s daughter would have been. And she was running out of time. From what she understood of the situation, C’aol was still in no state to attempt siring another child on her – and she had no intention of travelling to ask and risk having to go through the whole thing without the haze of Yukijiath’s needs to tell her body what it wanted. It felt like too soon for any of it, yet she knew of wives who supplied their husbands with a child a year. She could be like those women. For her Hold and people, and for Zaimika to have a sibling close in age, she could do the same. She could try.

But she could not say that, this time, she knew how to ask or where to start.

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