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Thread: As I've Been Thinking About The Future. [10/15 - After Dinner - Cailen & Nataliah]

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    House Shellten Cailen Shellten's Avatar  
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    As I've Been Thinking About The Future. [10/15 - After Dinner - Cailen & Nataliah]

    They'd only been there for two days but maybe Cailen had expected more. It could have been from him feeling sorry for himself or from pure frustration but he was becoming a bit angry. As angry thoughts do they start out at a rolling boil but end at a low simmer then calmer waters follow and he'd been through all the stages in just an afternoon.

    Being King is dangerous to one's health.

    He shook his head when a servant asked him if he wished for more to eat and allowed her to clean the place setting that sat before him. He looked up to Nataliah who sat across the table from him. She was a bit pregnant and he, for just one moment, allowed himself to feel pride. His wife loved him and they'd at least made a baby before he died. At least he had some accomplishment under his belt before he shuffled off their mortal coil.

    "I love you." He said out of the blue. Cailen made sure he was smiling when he shifted in his chair and he kept his voice light. "I'm not sure that I say that enough."


    @Nataliah

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    House Shellten Nataliah's Avatar  

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    Nataliah's stomach had finally settled from the journey, but her appetite was not yet what it had been. Dinner, for her, was something of a touch-and-go affair, her relationship with food iffy at best. Sometimes something sounded excellent but the smell of it would make her feel ill. Sometimes nothing at all sounded palatable. Sometimes everything sounded good, but the acid would rise in her throat and she would be unable to eat much of anything.

    She certainly hoped this child was male, because she was not at all sure she was willing to go through all of this again.

    Tonight's dinner, at least, had been successful. As the plates were cleared away, the queen reached for her glass, remembering what Evangeline had told her. No alcohol at all while she was expecting. It would make things easier, she'd said, keep her healthier. But the way things were going, Nat couldn't imagine her health being much worse, and she would have jumped at the chance to dull the senses for awhile. Unfortunately, Cailen had been told of Eva's recommendations too, so she couldn't shirk them without him catching her. And so, apple cider it was. At least it was fresh, though.

    Cailen's words caught Nataliah's attention, and she smiled slowly, although there was an edge of suspicion in her eyes. "I'm not sure I'd tire of hearing it," she replied, reaching out her free hand across the table to take her husband's. "I love you, too. How are you feeling?" She'd been good about not asking him constantly, although especially lately the worry was always there.

    ---
    @Cailen Shellten

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    House Shellten Cailen Shellten's Avatar  
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    Cailen dreaded the day that he would no longer be able to tell her how much he cared but for now he hoped that it was well in the future, though it did not feel as though it was. He wrapped his fingers around her delicate hand and just smiled down to the table for a moment. He memorized her warmth, the soft skin that pressed against his, and he took in a deep breath before he started to say that which he knew she did not really want to hear.

    "I feel unwell, Nataliah." Maybe it had been obvious to her all along but he no longer felt the strength he once had. He was no stranger to injury, how many attempts had there been on his life now? But he was growing more tired and even his wounds seemed angrier by the day. "I'm not sure that I'll recover from this. Not as sure as I had been before."

    That was probably the last thing a pregnant woman wanted to hear but he knew she was strong and he needed to tell her the truth. He needed to prepare her. It seemed he wouldn't be around for as long as he'd originally planned.

    @Nataliah

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    House Shellten Nataliah's Avatar  

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    "I'm not sure that I'll recover from this. Not as sure as I had been before."

    Although she'd seen it in his eyes, the frustration and the discouragement and the pain, to hear him speak the words was altogether different. Cailen did have a tendency to be pessimistic, it was true, but this...there was a conviction there. He wasn't just worn down - he truly seemed to believe that he wasn't going to get better.

    It hit Nataliah like a stab to the gut, and the seed of fear she'd kept tucked away swelled, although she fought against it. She searched his eyes, squeezing his hand, and she buried her fear once more. It would do no good to anyone, and she would not succumb to the weakness of fearing what had not yet happened.

    "You will," she said, her voice certain. "I know you hate to hear it, but it will simply take time. Time, and rest." Two things she knew her husband had no patience for. If she could have gotten away with it, she would have had him locked in their room, so that he could keep from trying to resume his previous life before he was ready. "You have to allow your body to heal, no matter how ready your mind is to get back into things. Nobody in their right mind can begrudge you that. Better to have a king who steps back and takes the time to get well again, than to have one who works himself into an early grave." She paused, resting her free hand on the rise of her belly. "Your people don't need that, your family doesn't need that, and perhaps most of all, we don't need that."

    ---
    @Cailen Shellten

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    House Shellten Cailen Shellten's Avatar  
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    He knew her reaction wouldn't be passive. Knowing Nataliah well enough to predict her moods was a benefit in it's own but then this was different. Cailen was admitting to his wife that he didn't think he'd live much longer and that was something that was very difficult for him to do all together. Then to add on the fact that he was admitting this to the woman that was having his child ... Well he simply felt awful no matter how the situation came to be.

    "And what if I did that?" He asked with a furrowed brow. "What if I did step back? What if I stepped down and let Vivienne take over Tuneric?" It was hard for him to ask, he loved his country, but the country needed someone who was strong enough to get things done. He was not that person anymore. He couldn't even stand from the table without considerable pain. With that thought he looked up to Nataliah and made eye contact with her.

    "What if I resigned and we went somewhere else to live? Someplace quiet." Someplace where I could at least live long enough to meet our child. "Tuneric needs someone who isn't weak. That isn't me, not anymore."



    @Nataliah
    Last edited by Cailen Shellten; 06-03-2014 at 02:10 PM.

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    House Shellten Nataliah's Avatar  

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    "And what if I did that?"

    For a moment, Nataliah was not sure what Cailen was saying. As he continued, though, the question became clear. Nataliah had not meant that he should permanently step down, when she had suggested that he take time to heal, but that was exactly what he was - hopefully theoretically - proposing. She opened her mouth to speak, and then closed it again; she needed to think about this, truly think about her answer.

    "Is that what you want?" She paused a moment, and then rose, moving around the table and pulling out a seat beside him. This was not a conversation she wished to have with a table between them. "That's a...a big step, and one you can't easily come back from." She took his hand, leaning forward as best she could. "You can step back, delegate your duties, and then retake your rightful place when you're better. That is an option." There were plenty of examples of kings who had sustained either injuries or illnesses who had stepped back out of the spotlight and then retaken their throne when they were well once more. There were not, however, many situations in which a king of Cailen's age abdicated on those grounds. "You know I will support you in whatever you decide you want to do. I love you, and I love you best when you're alive." She smirked, squeezing his hand and leaning back.

    "Where would we go?" It was the most comfortable question, of all those that his proposition had brought up. Probably because it was, at this point, the most theoretical. "Would we stay in Hebron? Come live here? Take a small holding somewhere else?"

    ---
    @Cailen Shellten

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    House Shellten Cailen Shellten's Avatar  
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    He watched her stand and move to his side of the table, take a seat next to him. Her words were sensible and he couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't taking in the full weight of his situation. She was willing him to recover and he could understand how much she wanted that for him. The reality was that he may not and with his hand in her's Cailen pressed his lips together in a fine line before he finally answered all of her questions.

    "I feel it would be best for me not to return to the throne. Vivienne will do well, and Tuneric needs a ruler who is not going to be stabbed every other month." He was trying to make a joke but his laugh was cut short by the pain.

    This was where he'd gotten thinking. Thinking that if he did die, he wanted Nataliah in her home, and safe. Traveling with a baby was hard so if he stepped down and they sailed for Balfour she could be with her brother by the time their child was born. If it came to be that Cailen did pass on then at least she would be with the family that could keep her safe. It wasn't that he questioned Vivienne but his sister was not truly Nataliah's family.

    "What if we returned to Balfour? What if we lived in your country?" Cailen gave her a warm smile though he felt as if his skin was cold and clammy. "I want the best for you Nataliah. I want you to make these choices with me."


    @Nataliah

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    House Shellten Nataliah's Avatar  

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    Nataliah hadn't quite accepted just how convinced Cailen was that he wasn't going to get better. It was hard to avoid the point now, though, and she looked toward the floor as she considered his words. He said Tuneric needed a ruler who wasn't going to get stabbed every other month, but what if it didn't matter who sat on the throne? Nat couldn't accept that all these attacks had been personal. The one at the joust had simply been against the monarch, and the most recent had been aimed at her. He'd only ended up injured because he'd protected her.

    "Have you spoken to Vivienne about it?" He sounded either as if his older sister wouldn't have a choice in her succession, or like he'd already secured her agreement. Although if she were honest, Nataliah couldn't really see his sister turning down the position even if she didn't want it. The girl had a strong commitment to both family and country.

    The proposition that they leave Tuneric entirely took Nat by surprise, enough so that she couldn't hide it. "Balfour?" He cared so much for his land and his people...had nearly given his life for them. And now he spoke of leaving? "I...I won't deny that I miss home, but would you really want to leave Tuneric completely?" She couldn't help but be concerned; this whole conversation was one surprise after another. "I would be happy to be a pauper, as long as you were beside me. Wherever it is that you feel like you could be comfortable, so that you can heal, so that you can grow old with me...that is where we should go."


    ---
    @Cailen Shellten
    Last edited by Nataliah; 06-08-2014 at 10:15 PM.

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    House Shellten Cailen Shellten's Avatar  
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    "I have not spoken to her." Cailen looked down to the table and closed his eyes. "I fear that she is the only other person who can take my place. Vera cannot ..." There was a long pause before he continued his thought. How would Vera deal with this in the end? How would Vivienne handle the change? "Vivienne is the strongest, out of all of us, and she can handle this the easiest."

    "If I am ever well enough we could travel, visit, stay for sometime. For now I just wish to know that you are somewhere safe." Larson had entered the room and must have noticed the tone as he backed out slowly and stood on the other side of the door. "I feel as if Balfour would be best. I just wished to talk to you before I made these choices. I wondered if you would still love me if I were not as obnoxious as I was when we first met." He gave her a crooked smile and as he looked up from the table he hoped he wasn't looking too worried.


    @Nataliah

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    House Shellten Nataliah's Avatar  

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    Nataliah thought for a moment, and nodded. "Vivienne would make a good queen. She has many of the qualities that will serve her well on the throne." The older princess carried herself with a confidence that would be vital, but on top of that and, perhaps, more importantly, she cared deeply for the country and the people. She was a person others could relate to, whose warmth could draw the peoples' love and sympathy, if she played her cards right.

    Despite all that, though, Nataliah was not sure how comfortably the crown would rest on the princess's head. She knew, and none knew better than Cailen, how the weight of that power and responsibility could press down on a person, how it could change them. Vivienne enjoyed a certain measure of privacy now in her life that would not be there if - when - she would be elevated to monarch. But in the end, Nat was fairly certain that it was a responsibility Vivienne would not turn down.

    The queen smiled wryly, squeezing her husband's hand. "You were still more of a boy when we first met," she said, teasing him. "Couldn't talk to a woman to save your life, much less figure out what to do with one if you had her attention...it's a wonder you found yourself married at all." She shook her head, tsking a few times, but all the while with a wry grin on her lips. "Lucky for you, I will love you any way you are, no matter what level of obnoxious you're currently at."

    Turning her mind back to the serious topic at hand, though, Nat thought carefully. "Perhaps it would be possible to retain some sort of house here...a small residence, or even just a few dedicated rooms in Shellten Castle. That way when you're well we can come visit for as long as we'd like, without being in the way." Leaning back, she thought of home, and what sort of situation they'd be in there. "In Balfour, would you want to just become part of my brother's household? Or perhaps there's a small holding somewhere nearby Moorford...you could try your hand at being a lord, and see how that title fits you." If they went back to Balfour, their roles would be reversed; he would no longer be a foreign king, with her no longer being queen, but reverting to princess. She wondered, vaguely, how Cailen would deal with the shift.

    ---
    @Cailen Shellten

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    House Shellten Cailen Shellten's Avatar  
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    "My sister is strong, beautiful, and loved. She will do well upon the throne. She's always had a certain amount of bravery that I wish I had." He was looking at the table but it was as if, while he spoke, he was looking off into the distance instead. His gaze never focused. "She will command a great Army, a fantastic Navy, and she will bring our country to greatness like I never could." With that thought Cailen looked at Nataliah with confidence. "Vivienne will be a strong leader for Tuneric and in my absence I know she will do great things."

    Nataliah teased him and he smiled, a genuine smile for the first time in days. "I remember when you said you'd marry me. I was sure I'd heard you wrong. I was sure you would never commit to my hand in any way." Cailen reached up to run the back of his fingers across Nataliah's cheek. "For a moment I thought, maybe Lochlan was making you say yes but I knew we'd already came to an agreement that didn't require your hand for an alliance between our countries. I just couldn't believe that a woman like you would want to be with a boy like me." He couldn't laugh at his own joke but he knew that Natliah would understand what he meant.

    He'd love her until his last breath. Which could be sooner rather than later, unfortunately.

    His Queen made suggestions as to how they could live and he listened while playing with a stray strand of her hair. What would it be like, being born a King only to become a Lord? It didn't really matter in the end though, did it? With his health continuing the way it was he wouldn't be Lord for long. He supposed the choice he'd have to make is where he wanted to be buried.

    While she leaned back, Cailen watched her golden hair slip over his finger and fall back against her skin. "You deserve a house of your own and our child deserves land, room, to learn and grow." His voice seemed confident yet distracted in some way as he added to her thoughts.


    @Nataliah

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    House Shellten Nataliah's Avatar  

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    Leaning into his touch, Nataliah smiled as Cailen recalled their shared history. It had taken her so long to see that this was her future, but when she had there was no turning back. All her worries, her fears about leaving home, all of that got pushed away, trumped by the love that would grow. She might have convinced herself that she hadn't loved him for quite a long time, but she could think of no situation in which she was happier to have been proven wrong. Even now, with all the troubles they'd had, their latest ordeal so fresh in their minds, she couldn't bring herself to regret a thing.

    Despite the confidence in his voice, he spoke with a fatality that broke his wife's heart. "I already have what I deserve. I have you." In the end it didn't matter where they settled, as long as he got well again. "If I remember, there was a small holding not too far from Moorford that had reverted to the crown's care...perhaps we could take that as our own." It was near the coast, if she was thinking of the right place, between Moorford and the lake that surrounded it and the retreat at Jacksonmoor. Close enough to family, far enough to have autonomy...it seemed a good option, if it was still available. "We can write to Lochlan, if you'd like...if this is really what you want to do."

    Sitting up again with a bit of an 'oof' under her breath, Nataliah reached out and took her husband's hands. "But I want you to be sure, absolutely sure, that this is what you want. I know you have my happiness in mind, but the thing I need most in this world is you. I need you to be where you think you'll have the best chance at healing. And," she cast him a look, one of those knowing looks that wives are so good at and husbands dread, "I need you to believe that you will get well again. If you start thinking you're doomed, the gods will take you at your word." She stopped speaking, but only for a moment, as her mind came upon a likely argument from him. "And don't just tell me you're being realistic. You can be realistic without being fatalistic." Her words were chastising, but her tone was light, keeping it well away from being a lecture. "I know you've got the strength to get through this. It will take some sacrifices, perhaps, but I feel sure, as long as you don't give up, that together we'll make it through this."

    ---
    @Cailen Shellten

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    House Shellten Cailen Shellten's Avatar  
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    He let her finish speaking her piece. A suggestion as to where they could live, a reminder that she was behind him completely, and followed up by a bit of a healthy reprimand. Maybe he was less confident than she these days but it seemed that as she spoke, Cailen felt his spirits lift a bit. Even if he never did heal, no matter what, his wife loved him. That was something he could hold onto and it was something to push him into getting better. It was something to live for. His wife and his child.

    There was a long pause before he finally answered and he looked up to meet Nataliah's gaze. "Yes. We should write to your brother." He carefully reached out and touched her stomach. "We should hurry though, the baby isn't going to stop growing."

    @Nataliah

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