Here’s some stuff.
“Are you pregnant?”
Cynewynne gave her mother a horrified look. “No, by the Depths of the the Dragon.” Her hands went in a blur, but her mother could deal. “I have oaths. You know, those words I spoke to my King?”
Her mother’s eyes rolled. “If you are, I’m not angry. I’ll even watch the squirt while you go off and save the world.”
Cynewynne roared, “I am not pregnant!” People stared. She returned to sign. “I just want to know if my children will or will not turn into bears.”
“And why are you asking?”
Cynewynne reddened. “It came up in conversation. Arion’s curious.”
Her mother then finally shocked her by signing, “Maybe.”
“What do you mean, ‘Maybe’?”
“I mean your children could turn into bears.” Then she gloried in her moment by signing, “Your father did, and he was mixed-blood.”
“Stop lying. Da never!”
“Oh yes he did. And your oldest brother.”
“I thought he was just telling fish tales!”
“Your brother turned into a bear. B-e-a-r bear.”
“Fur and claws and… bear?”
Cynewynne felt her gut lurch. She’d killed a bear or two without even trying to see if they were people. “Swear it.”
“You calling me a liar, Wynnelet?” Her mother looked like thunder.
“… right. Broddi?”
Her mother looked at her and said… nothing.
“Is Broddi a bear? Is Broddi a motherfucking bear?”
“Language! You keep a lady’s tongue in there if you want to last five minutes in Minas Tirith.”
“Is Broddi a bear?”
Cynewynne stood up, signing, “No. No, this is madness. This is pure…”
“Sit the fuck down.”
“Do I look like I’m moving to Minas Tirith? Sit the fuck down. Now. You’re not showing Beorning traits… much. You take after me. Your get will probably be normal. But you’ve gone and tied yourself to a man with old blood, and old blood does strange things with other old blood.”
Cynewynne stared at nothing.
“Does he object to bear-kin?”
Numbly Cynewynne signed, “No. He wants to buy sturdier cradles.”
“Don’t bother,” her mother signed. “They don’t start changing their skin until they hit manhood. Or womanhood. Either.”
Cynewynne stared. “And you couldn’t have mentioned this… earlier?”
“What’s the problem? He’s not leaving you over it. Sounds to me like he’d be keen on a few bear-children. Now, if that’s not a reason to make some for him, I don’t know what is. Which reminds me, you’re still living in infamy and people will talk. It’s the perfect time to make it official and pop out a…”
“No.” Cynewynne stood. “Go away and stop talking.”
“A man going into battle deserves descendants. If you loved him you’d…”
Cynewynne closed her eyes, pointedly, then stalked into the kitchen. The door slammed. Frithvail ate her pickled egg soup and dill-bread with a smug look.
Tremors. They still hummed through her flesh and soul with little rills of joy as she went humming about her apartment. Tremors and fire boiled through her still, filling her belly with pent up heat. He was under her and inside her and turning her into something new. Melted and pressured and gold-streaked. Old sediment fused and ran into meaninglessness, or buckled into rumples. Tremors.
Her skin smelled of ink and books where he’d been close. She kept her unwashed under-robe folded over her pillow, unapologetically. He’d asked. He’d offered. He’d handed her his heart.
“Governing Principle… is this the shape of things? Is this… ” She trailed off. His heart was fragile. His heart asked, but remained itself. He needed no revisions. She needed no revisions for him. Why now? Why now, and not when the plan said?
The Governing Principle crafts nature to its shape. Happiness is gained by living within the shape in which the creation is made.
And there, the paradox. She was not made to be adjunct while men of lesser quality had funding. She was not made to yield to such a banal thing as love. Was she? Why, cosmos? Why?
“He loves me. Ambition is part of me.”
She sighed as she shank into her bed and curled around the robe whose scent was already fading. Only an idiot would turn away from happiness for a dream that may never materialize. Would he be strong enough to bear success, if it came to her at last? Would she? The cosmos would unfold as it was meant.
“I am his. Beloved,” she said to the turtles, then blew out the lamp. To the night, she murmured, “I know how Beleriand was drowned in its own salt tears.”