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Thread: Volcanoes out of molehills - 6/17 evening, Firefell - Bradyn/Maera [closed]

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Volcanoes out of molehills - 6/17 evening, Firefell - Bradyn/Maera [closed]

    "Well, you may tell your lady, that the answer is still no," Bradyn scolded the servant girl, even though Maera was standing only a few feet away. It was as though the man believed that having the argument through an intermediary were somehow better for his wife's health, and therefore she would be less likely to have any unwanted complications to her pregnancy. The last couple of failed births weighed heavily on them both, and though the war had done wonders for his image among the nobles, the death of his father coupled with Maera's inability to produce an heir, weighed heavily on the Lord and Lady of Stone Forge.

    Maera had been insistent on traveling with him, when the call had come down from Cailen that the lords should assemble in Hebron on the twentieth. But with the plague still making its way through Tuneric, Hallward was not willing to risk exposing his wife to it. "And furthermore, she should already be in her rooms, resting," he told the girl. While he had lived, Bradley had instilled in the woman a sense of responsibility for them both, though Bradyn had long since stopped the immaturity that he had fostered at the time of their wedding. They had grown into partners. Loving, and caring, and well suited for each other.

    This pregnancy had gone smoother than all the rest, and Maera was larger by far, in fact almost double, of any size she had previously been. The physicians, judging by the way the kickings had come, were sure that she was carrying double, and that even at this point, if she were to deliver, that at least one of the children would live. But that too gave him pause, because even with an heir, Hallward could not imagine going on without Maera, should there be complications.

    But for now, there was the matter of his coming trip to Hebron, and the fact that she would be remaining here with Allison. Like it or not.

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Maera was sweating--it seemed that all she did these days was sweat, as pregnancy had done what the hottest summers never could--as she adjusted her standing position to shift her weight from one foot to the other. Her bach ached fiercely, but she refused to let it stop her, especially when she was so adamant about remaining at her husband's side. According to Delaney Hepburn, Maera's position was tenuous at best. Two failed pregnancies and a disappointed husband was all she had to show for her marriage, and Delaney was sure (and had told Maera so in a letter) that Bradyn was likely looking for a mistress, someone he could take public when he put Maera aside for her inability to produce an heir. And what better place to start looking for one than at court? Though she trusted Bradyn implicitly, she felt uneasy, especially now that Bradley, who had been Maera's champion, had passed.

    "My Lord, release Jeyma to her duties," she said waspishly. "She need not be subjected to this, and the servant's hall need not be privy to our... discussions. Jeyma, you may go," said Lady Hallward, smiling with as much grace as she could muster. The girl curtsied and then left, leaving Maera to cup her belly before her and stare across at Bradyn. "I will not go to the childbed without you here. If you insist upon Hebron, then so do I. Have I made myself perfectly plain?"

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    "As plain as punch, my dear. But I'm afraid that you'll just have to live without me for a few days," he told her, not seeming overly upset that the girl was gone. "You won't be going to the childbed in the next week, I don't think," though he wasn't a doctor and couldn't be certain. "And what would be worse, delivering here without me, or delivering in a carriage on the side of the mountain. Be reasonable, my love," he told her, and there was genuine concern in his voice. "It is fine to play in front of the help, but we really must consider your health above all else."

    He would have little to add at the council anyway. Stone Forge had escaped the plague relatively unscathed, and had Bradley stayed at home, rather than travel to Hebron to discuss the Remington issue, he would likely be alive today. "Besides that, I can hardly leave Allison in charge while we are gone. The week of our wedding, she spent forty taels of gold on nothing at all. Someone has to be in charge while I am gone, and I trust none more than you."

    In fact, he trusted himself less than he trusted her. But he would never admit to that. Maera did wonders running a house, moreso than Delaney or Satrina would have had him believe. "Besides. When I return, you will be ready to give me the heir we so richly deserve, and we shall focus on being a family." He hadn't known until recently that this was what he wanted, and still wasn't sure it was what his wife wanted. But there was no avoiding it now. If it were a girl, there would be another fight, he was sure. But he was hoping that a male would spare him that issue until a later date.

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    "Don't think I don't know what you're doing," said Lady Hallward. "You're trying to make me feel that it would be useful for me to stay so that I don't put up a fight. Surely having been married to me for as long as you have has given you some more insight into my personality than that, although perhaps night. All right, all right." Maera pursed her lips and looked to the side. Clearly she would not win this argument. It was time to take another tack. She heaved a sigh and then went to sit down on a plush chair, cradling her swollen belly lovingly as she settled in.

    "I am your obedient wife and I will do as I am bid," Maera said, though she clearly was not happy about the particular direction that he was bidding her. "But I will expect something pretty from Hebron for my compliance. And something expensive for when I have delivered safely of your son, gods willing." She tried to sparkle, tried to smile teasingly, but her eyes were dark. There would be no reward if she failed. She was determined to give Bradyn an heir or die trying--but the thought of her own death frightened her less than the thought of another miscarriage.

    She smoothed her dress and then looked around for something else to distract them from the specters of her failed attempts. "You will behave yourself in front of His Grace, won't you, my Lord?"

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Circling around her, Bradyn rested his hands on the back of the chair, before kissing her lightly ont he cheek through a smile. "I shall be as delicate as I would speaking with your grandmother," he whispered before kissing her a second time and rising back to his full height. "As for gifts," he said, crossing back in front of her and taking an opposite seat, "I shall do my best to find something befitting your beauty and charm, though I fear nothing would properly compare."

    Lord Hallward lifted his tea cup to his lips and sipped casually. Since the latter stages of the pregnancy, Maera had abstained from wine, and in support of her, Bradyn never drank when she was present. "But in return, you must promise me that you will not exert yourself in my absence. Jayne and Allison are both still here, and even though I don't consider them your equal, you must learn to let them do some of the things that you would normally trouble yourself with. Resting is important. And Firefell has survived greater tragedies than you taking an afternoon or two off, my love."

    In the short time since Bradley's passing, things at Stone Forge had been relatively peaceful. Bradyn had transitioned well to lord, despite what others had viewed as a political problem that was likely to have a devastating effect on the landscape of Tuneric. Maera got much of the credit for that, as the young man was nowhere near as brash as he used to be.

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Maera sighed at her husband and leaned back in her seat. Pregnancy was exhausting without having to deal with Bradyn running off to Hebron, and was she hormonal or was everything he saying completely wrong. Furrowing her brows as if trying to puzzle through his statement, she said: "So what you're telling me is I must stay behind in order to serve as your chatelaine, but that under no circumstances must I exert any effort whatever in order to keep the estate in good working order. Honestly, I think I have the picture of things."

    The Lady of Stone Forge would have, in pre-pregnancy days, stalked out of the room and waited for Bradyn to come and whisper his sweets in her ear, and they would reconcile, but with her hormones running rampant she felt rather insulted, as if he simply didn't want her presence. Add to that the complication that she was too large and too tired to haul herself out of the chair.

    "Very well. I think I'll have a bath before dinner. Will you tell the maids on your way out?"

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Hallward could do little but chuckle at the woman's difficult nature. "It should hardly be a problem for you, my love. After all, you seem to make maintaining the house look effortless as it is. We have plenty of servants, I don't see why you can't manage things from the comfort of your couches." Bradyn sat beside her and rested his hand on her belly, rubbing his hand in a circle over it. "I shall return before you have had time to miss me love, and I will do naught but miss you while I am gone."

    Standing, he folded his hands in front of him. "I shall see you at dinner, then?" She had said as much, but Bradyn had learned a while ago that Maera did what she wanted, when she wanted. It was somewhat comforting to him, that she had seemed to be so much like Bradley. Making his way to the door, he informed the ladies in waiting to pour a bath for their mistress. "I'll be in my study until dinner, love, if you have need of me." He smiled at her and backed out of the room with a bow, as though mimicking the actions of a valet.

    Turning the corner, Bradyn whistled lightly. It was all he could do to keep from worrying over his wife. It would not be much longer now, and everday seemed more tense than the one prior. For both of them.

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Maera watched Bradyn go with stormclouds gathering on her brow, then reached for the silver bell that she rang to get her maid's attention. Rosamund appeared at her mistress' side. "Don't just stand there, dear, help me up. They're drawing me a bath."

    "It won't be long now, milady," Rosamund said in a reasonable facsimile of encouragement. Was it Maera's imagination, or was every servant in the castle ready to bury her? The mistress leaned on Rosamund as the maid helped her up, murmuring to the maid, "Don't be defeatist, my dear, it's very middle class."

    After a good, long soak in the tub--punctuated by vibrations in the water caused by the firm kicking of her child--Maera felt reinvigorated, and though her back still ached, she allowed Rosamund to lace her into a slimming gown of dark green and wore her best emerald necklace and gold circlet for dinner. Perhaps by appearing to be a firm and functional Lady of Stone Forge, she could convince everyone, including herself, that she was. Ahead of dinner, she went to Bradyn's study and knocked lightly on the door, leaning close so that she could hear her husband's response, if it came.

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Bradyn had been perusing his shelves, contemplating packing a book or two for his trip. It was only a few days ride, and he wanted to make it himself, just to cut down on time. But, Maera had insisted he take a retinue, and so he would, just to keep her happy. His own destrier was hooked to his carriage, so that should he need to fly back to Firefell, he would have the mount for the job.

    The soft knock on his door didn't surprise him. All sorts of attendants had been bringing him all kinds of information. Weather reports, traveling routes, itineraries for his stay. This was bound to be something else. "Enter," he called toward the door. He turned to see Maera as she entered and he smiled, despite his surprise. Was he perhaps late for dinner? He glanced at the window, but didn't think he had missed the meal.

    Moving to her side, he placed his arm under hers and led her to the small couch opposite his desk. "You look lovely, my dear. Here, sit, make yourself comfortable."

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    "I'm afraid the comfort would be more than offset by the trouble it would take to get back up again. Besides, we don't have much time before we'll need to go down to the hall for dinner." Instead, Maera went over to the desk and sat leaned against the heavy wooden piece, taking a little breath before cradling her belly. "It won't be long now," she murmured, more to herself than to her husband, and she felt a kick against one of her hands. It was reassuring to know that the baby was still moving about.

    "Anyway, I'm only here because I need to talk to you about something and I'd prefer not to have another row in front of the servants," Maera said. "Of course, there will be no need to have a row if you do exactly what I want," she added, smiling sweetly. "I'd like to write to my brother, Grant, and invite him here after the Council. I'd like you to bring him back from the capital." She stretched her neck, then adjusted her emerald necklace.

    "Not Bosleigh. Not Seamus. None of my wretched cousins -- well, Sir Gavin is all right, but still -- just Grant. And of course if Granny catches wind she'll expect to come along as well and we can't very well tell her not to come. Perhaps best not to let her in on it."

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    The Lord of Firefell looked a little confused for a moment, but he did his best to quickly dismiss the expression. Bradyn had never had any issue with Grant, and so he wasn't sure why Maera would think that this was a difficult request, or why any kind of row, ruckus, fracas or a fray might come of it. Perhaps she just knew how well her husband got along with Bosleigh, and therefor thought it best that she make it clear that she was only looking for her elder brother. And Bradyn still believed him crafty enough to avoid the old crone if he had to, and in his mind, he had to.

    "It shall be as you say love, and I shall inform the ravenmaster to send your correspondence as soon as it is written. Does he know how to pack for a trip here? If it is to be an extended stay, you know how quickly the winds can change here in the late summer." Hallward was not concerned with how long his brother-in-law might stay. There was plenty of room, and Bradyn was often up and down the mountain with his guard, running patrols or in town. It would be good for the two Hepburns to spend some time together.

    "Was there anything else, my love," he asked as he came to stand before her, resting his hands on her belly with a smile.

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Maera gave a relieved smile. This was less of a row than she had expected. She leaned over and kisses her husband lightly on the lips. "You're a darling and I love you," she murmured before straightening and curling her hands around her stomach protectively. "I know how much you enjoy Bosleigh, but I think we'll have enough excitement and noise here with the babies coming. Perhaps he can come and visit once things have settled down." Over my dead body. She smirked; she might put that to the test.

    "I'll write to him after dinner. Speaking of dinner, we'd better go down. They'll be waiting for us." She took Bradyn's arm and sighed happily. "It will be nice to see Grant again. I'll be sure to include some instructions about what to pack so that he'll be comfortable." Maera squeezed his arm. "And I know you're just dying to see Granny again." She smirked to herself and adjusted her circlet with her free hand. Goodness, there might be fireworks after all.

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Bradyn laughed aloud at the speculation and shook his head. "Indeed. I'm surprised we've seen her as little as we have during the pregnancy." Perhaps the previous misfortunes had convinced the old woman that it was bad luck to fuss any longer, less she jinx her granddaughter's apparent good luck in this instance. And while it was true that Maera's grandmother could be a little obstinate, Bradyn didn't have any dislike for the woman. Perhaps it was his status as an in-law or a man that made it easier for him. Apparently the women in the family didn't get on as well with each other. "Perhaps we should have Delaney as well," he teased his wife, reaching down and pinching her bottom as she walked beside him.

    It didn't concern the Lord of Firefell if the servants, or the rest of the family for that matter, was waiting for them. They would either wait, or they would not. And if they had finished before the lord and lady arrived, then at the very least the two of them would have peace as they shared their meal. "Provided Grant doesn't have extended business in the capital, it should be a short trip. Hopefully not more than three days."

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