However Differently: Courtship, Weddings, and Childbirth

by raenarcam

Lihn and I did a thing! A joint blog proposing that Lorillen and Dorsett met each other before they realized that being gay was a real thing. So first enjoy the early years of perhaps the most bittersweet anti-ship imaginable.

Courtship.

In a barn out on the Greenway a party was underway to celebrate that same barn’s new raising and fresh coat of whitewash and Lorillen Cropper, who had come to Bree six months previously and was not particularly good at parties, had stepped outside for a little fresh air. It was late summer, warm, and she rolled up her sleeves as she sat on the flagstone steps and pushed back pretty reddish curls with her hands. It was a fair bit quieter outside of the barn and a fair bit cooler and in August and that was really all anyone could ask for in life.

She had noticed Dorsett Lacewood at the dance, always surrounded by so much family and always so cheerful, but to be fair Lorillen didn’t really notice him that evening until he nearly tripped over her trying to escape the barn as well.

“Miss Lorillen!” he exclaimed, regaining his balance and looking appropriately embarrassed. “I– sorry. Are you all right? What are you doing out here?”

Lori jumped up, trying to catch him to steady him. “Oh gods are you alright? I’m fine, I just needed some fresh air. It’s wretched in there you know! I mean, it’s all good fun dancing and all but I just can’t stand in there, I was sweating through… Uh.” She awkwardly broke off. “What are you doing out here?”

Dorsett rubbed at the back of his neck and gave her a rather sheepish grin. “Um, well. Just needed some fresh air because it is so crowded and stuffy and– yes. Just what you said.
“I mean… I like dancing, I do. But that is a lot of people. And it is nice out, is it not?” he added, coming to a rather rambling halt.

Lori snickered a little at him. “Yeah, it’s really nice out. Hey, do you want to go for a walk? Probably best not standing on the flagstones, someone’ll get the wrong idea. Or trip over us or something. Oh! We should walk to the stream, I’d kill to stick my feet in some cold water, you know. Come on! It’ll be fun!”

Dorsett still looked a tad embarrassed, but the tension in him seemed to ease at her suggestion, and he nodded quickly. “I would love to!” he said, and began to offer her his arm, but seemed to think better of it at the last minute, and dropped it again. “I am glad someone– well, someone else did not want to be in there. It is not as if– as if I wanted to leave, you know. I just kept getting, er, knocked over.”

Lori burst into giggling and, picking up her skirt started down the path. If she noticed his arm she didn’t say, mercifully. “Someone ought to teach you to barn dance Dorsett. You were getting knocked down because you’re kind of… err… delicate. You have to square your shoulders up a bit, be tough.” She turned on her heel and demonstrated, making a comical grimace.

“I can barn dance!” Dorsett protested. “…It is just when people get too rough that–”
He broke off. “Well, anyway, if I need someone to clear the crowd, I can just send you in,” he muttered, instead of directly admitting that he was a wimp.

She cheerfully reached for his arm, aiming to hook them together. “It’s alright not being good at it, you’re good at plenty of other stuff! I mean, you’re probably the smartest bloke I’ve ever met, that counts for plenty.”

Dorsett let their arms be hooked, and went a little pink at her words. “I– thank you,” he said quietly. Perhaps feeling something was required in return, he added sincerely, “You really are very nice. Um. And I do mean that. I have never met anyone quite as kind as you.”

Glancing away, he tried a poor attempt at being light-hearted. “My parents are saying I should snatch you up before someone else does.”

Lori carried on walking and snickered. “Yeah, I bet there are a dozen boys a day I miss trying to court the nicest laundress in Bree.” Lori was not particularly well versed in sarcasm or bitterness and that left it unfortunately unclear whether she was joking or not.

“But if you wanted to try courting me Mr. Lacewood I sure like daffodils.”

“Daffodils…” Dorsett murmured to himself, and promptly stumbled over a stone as punishment for disappearing into his thoughts. He let out a quiet “Ow,” and stopped to roll his foot, but he gave Lorillen an uncertain look as he did so.

“I… we, uh, we really could, you know,” he blurted out suddenly. “I mean to say– well, I like you, Miss Lorillen. You are kind, and bright, and funny. And I think I might like to court you, if you would let me. We could… try it,” he added lamely.

“Did you hurt your foot or your head just now, Dorsett?” She asked and bent over to make sure he hadn’t crippled himself. “But anyhow I think you’re smart and handsome and cheerful and I guess if someone had to court me I’d like it being you.”

Dorsett looked a little relieved at her answer (and also slightly terrified), and set his foot down again. “Thank you,” he said, and then paused, because this response didn’t seem to fit. “I suppose I should… talk to someone about it. My parents, or your parents, or… er. …I have never courted someone before, as you might have guessed.

“But daffodils. I can bring you daffodils.”

“Well first I reckon you have to bring me flowers then keep making excuses to come round the laundry,” Lori started, rattling off a series of events quite reminiscent of the classic love story: The Last Flower of Evendim, in which the last king of Evendim, named Stauns, falls in love with a beautiful washerwoman. It was the only book Lori had ever actually read through. “After that you ask my Da, then you ask me, then you can take me out a few evenings and I’ll teach you to barn dance proper. It’s all in the elbows y’know.”

Dorsett gave her a rather soft smile. “I can do all of that,” he agreed. He had probably read the book as well. After a moment, he asked, “If we are courting, or, ah, going to be courting, should we no longer be alone together?”

Lori rolled this over for a moment and then shrugged, carrying on walking with the absolute certainty of a woman who knows just how the world works. “Y’haven’t asked my Da yet so I reckon we’re just friends still. And anyway I really don’t want to go back to that barn. I was sweating out my bones.”

“I suppose you are right,” Dorsett agreed, with all of it. “I suppose this will be good for us, this whole thing. I think… I think we could make a good team. That is what my mother says all good relationships are, a good team…”

Lori gave a quick snicker and nodded in agreement. “Aye, a good team. I’ll like being on a team with you, Dorsett Lacewood. Unless you end up being horrid,” she corrected at the end, grinning at him. And she was very certain she’d quite like being on a team with Dorsett even if he did end up being a little horrid.


Weddings.

The wedding had been enormous, comprising the joint bulk of both the Cropper and Lacewood families and a fair portion of the people of Bree it bordered on a record holder for the town. It was still carrying on, actually, in the late afternoon of early spring only now it lacked the main two guests. Lori and Dorsett, having been led away to Dorsett’s little flat were now blocked from leaving for the foreseeable future by a few rowdy and well wishing cousins.

Lorillen knew, objectively, the differences in anatomy between herself and Dorsett. She had lived on a farm and had seen all manner of mammalian intercourse over the years. But all of the romances she had read or begun to read and then put down seemed to end right at the act. The kissing and all, that was fine, but the prospect of what came after had a certain terror to it.

She stood awkwardly in her pretty yellow dress, curly hair crowned with daisies as she looked around and eagerly said, “So… It’s… It’s a really nice apartment! I’ve never seen this many books!”

“Thank you,” said Dorsett. His hair, smoothed back for the ceremony, was now starting to spring back in its usual cherubic fashion. “I, uh, I rather liked it. You know, it was completely empty when I got it! No furniture at all. I have been adding to it slowly.”

He nodded to the comfortable but mismatched chairs, and then slowly went over to pull the curtains across the windows.

“Oh well I really like it! I think that we might need a bigger table and… I mean, I think there’s plenty of space for… For babies and all I mean.” She turned a fine shade of red at the prospect and her mother’s voice resounded in her head: You can’t have babies if you can’t make them, Lorillen Cropper. She snatched up the nearest book to hand and started turning pages, pointedly ignoring the closing curtains. “Have you read all these books?”

“No! Not all of them,” Dorsett answered quickly, clinging to the topic of conversation like a lifeline. “Well, most of them. But sometimes I pick some up and mean to get around to them, and… well, then I do not. I try to organize them by subject, you know, but… well, that has not happened either.”

“We should organize them!” Lori declared with sudden fervor, holding the book up like a shield, though against precisely what she was not entirely sure. “By subject and then we’ll leave space for the ones you haven’t read and those can go somewhere else so you won’t forget them. Then when you’ve finished them we’ll put them away. It’s perfect!”

“Really?” Dorsett asked, eyes wide. “That could take all night! Maybe days. But– I mean, that is a really good idea! A really good idea, if you are feeling patient.”

“Well it’s a little dusty,” Lori carried on, she couldn’t possibly consummate her new marriage with dust in the room. She looked around from her position a perfectly reasonable three feet away from her new husband. “It would give us a chance to dust and all too, so that’s good. I think that’s really important. We should really start straight away.”

“Dust, yes. A lot of these books have not been touched in a while,” Dorsett said ruefully, his shoulders a little hunched and his arms folded tightly over his chest as one does when they’re comfortable and relaxed at home. “We could open the windows up– sweep some of the dust out–”

He broke off and looked down at his very nice wedding tunic, and then glanced very briefly at her. “I, er, suppose we should change out of these clothes. I will– let me see what I have for you…”

He retreated into the bedroom, closing the door behind him, and when he returned he was already dressed in his normal clothing. “I put out some of my smaller clothes for you,” he said helpfully. “Just… in there. I will look over the shelves while you do that. Change.”

She watched him close the door and relaxed visibly for a few moments before bringing the book up between them when he reappeared. “Oh! Yes! Wouldn’t want to get all dusty! You’re so clever Dorsey!” She set the book down and, as she passed she broke her previous three foot rule to press a very brief peck to his cheek. He was handsome, and he was smart, and he was kind, she just had to keep remembering that.

She disappeared into the bedroom and reappeared a few minutes later in a tunic and cuffed trousers, her hair pulled back and the daisies upset but still present. “That feels better though! Good idea! I much prefer trousers to skirts you know.”

Dorsett smiled at her as she reappeared. “You do not look half bad in them,” he said in a tone she took as fondness, and then turned to look at the piles of books. “I thought we could start over near the door, and work our way around the room. Oh, and I can make us some tea! I also have some biscuits a neighbor sent over. ‘Just for the new Mrs. Lacewood,’ she said…”

“We absolutely need tea, I think that blueberry wine we had just about put me to sleep. Do you have honey for it?” She started to dig through piles of books, looking at titles and opening one or two occasionally.

“What kind of biscuits? If they have walnuts in them I won’t share but otherwise I suppose you can have a few, Mr. Lacewood.” She burst out giggling suddenly over a book. “Lorillen and Dorsett Lacewood,” she said, suddenly, thinking it must be the most lovely set of names she’d ever heard.

Dorsett turned a little to look at her, blinking, though after a moment he started to smile. “What?”

“Well that’s… I mean, Dorsett and Lorillen Lacewood,” she repeated, switching the names experimentally, grinning up from the book. “I dunno, I just like it. We’re a good team.”

“Yeah, we are,” Dorsett agreed, his smile brighter. “A good team, yes.”

He looked back at the books, and clapped his hands together. “Well, Mrs. Lacewood, we have hundreds of books to get through tonight. Are you ready?”

“I should absolutely say I am, Mister Lacewood,” she replied and holding up the book in her hands gently set it down on the table. “That one’s a history about the north. Or is that too specific, Dorsey?”

“We could put it on the top of the history shelf!” Dorsett enthused. “And history about the east to the right and general history in the middle and so forth.”

Beaming, he created a pile on plants, and went looking for more. “I am glad I have someone to do this with me, Mrs. Lacewood,” he said. She hoped he never called her anything else again.

Birth.

Perhaps a year and a half after the marriage, so somewhat more than a year after the couple had managed with some difficulty to consummate the marriage, Lorillen was in the final throws of pregnancy. The best parts really, if her frequent wails were to be believed from the other room. She had been locked away in this bedroom, away from her husband and the rest of the house, on a mound of rags to keep from ruining the bedsheets, for what felt like years. All of the unpleasantness of pregnancy had led to this singularly unhappy moment surrounded by a fussing midwife and a fussing mother and she missed Dorsey the most already.

Finally she couldn’t help it and Lori let out a plaintive wail of, “Dorsey!”

Dorsett’s face appeared in a crack in the doorway. “Did– er– did you need something, Mrs. Lacewood?” he called weakly.

Her mother stood up as though to kindly usher him out and Lori gave another wail. “No! Don’t! Ma, he’s got to come in! They said it’s twins Dorsey! You’ve got to come in and-”

She wailed again, the midwife patted her leg. “There’s a good lass.”

“-And you’ve done this to me you have to help!”

Dorsett looked properly horrified, and sidled into the room only to stand there for a moment. “Help… I do not… what should I… twins…” he babbled vaguely, avoiding looking at the chaos in her lower regions, and then he moved over to take her hand. “What– what is it? What do you need?”

She clenched his hand in a vice-grip with both of hers. She wanted to tell him she needed someone to get these damned little monsters out of her but that probably wasn’t what people were supposed to say. “I don’t know! I can’t do it twice Dorsey and I told you I was too big for it to be just one!

“Here’s the first one, big deep breaths now,” said the midwife cheerily and, now without a hand to hold Lorillen’s mother began the troublesome business of getting water and towels ready.

“Just distract me!” Lorillen wailed, trailing off into another actual wail at the midwife’s urging to push.

“I, uh,” he began, fighting to think of something in the face of all this horribleness. “I borrowed another book from the Archives that I thought you might like. I was reading it earlier, a little. It is a bit of an adventure story, and the main character is a woman with hair the color of yours…”

“Oh that’s very good dear, very good…” The midwife carried on. Lorillen kept right on crushing Dorsett’s hand and punctuating any distraction she offered with pained wails.

Fortunately the actual birthing went with relative quickness. If it did not Lorillen didn’t actually notice, being in so much pain the whole thing went by in a desperate sort of blur. But first came one boy and then the messy bits. And then a second boy, and the messy bits.

“And that’s us done…” Murmured the cheerful midwife.

“It’s over right?” Lorillen asked Dorsettt, eyes wide. “That’s what she said?” She loosened up on Dorsett’s hand very slightly.

Lorillen’s mother sidled over, carrying two little boys wrapped up in towels. “Two boys! Here we are! I suppose since you’re already here we don’t have to come fetch you so you’d better do your job and hold one.” She said to Dorsett, holding one of the boys out to each half of the couple.

Dorsett slowly reached out to take one, holding him as one might hold an egg carton full of half-cracked eggs. “Two boys,” he echoed quietly, looking down at the one. “What are we going to do with two boys…”

Lori took the other, struggling to sit up properly in bed. She was immediately and completely besotted, running a finger over a tiny, grasping hand. All of the fears of a few moments ago were completely forgotten. “We should probably come up with names for them…” She whispered, brushing her finger over a tiny, chubby face.

“Names, yes…” Dorsett repeated again, looking less infatuated and more terrified than his wife. Lorillen didn’t really notice, Dorsett could have been ill and she wouldn’t have ever realized. “Just… nothing starting with an O. How… how are we going to tell them apart…?”

“They should start with a ‘D’, so they match you,” she suggested in a gentle whisper. “I suppose we’ll have to dress them different… or put a ribbon on one’s wrist… I don’t suppose it matters much right now though. They’re perfect aren’t they?”

Dorsett stared down at the one in his arms, which was whimpering but not yet screaming. “They… yes, they are,” he breathed, though he still winced a little every time the infant looked like he might cry. “I read a book recently with an explorer named ‘Dorian’…”

“Dorian’s good. I think the one you’re holding looks like a Dorian.” She offered, very gently rocking the infant in her arms. “And Dennet or… Oh, Dravin. That’s a good strong name. I think he’ll be a good strong lad anyhow,” she whispered, beaming at him.

Dorsett slowly sat down on the bed beside her, not daring to move his arms into a more comfortable position for fear of disturbing the baby. “We did it,” he said suddenly, as if in shock. “You did it. We have twins. And they are both well, and you are well, and… twins. We have twins.”

Lori looked up at Dorsett with wide, happy eyes and then back down at the babies. “Dorian and Dravin,” she said in a sing-song voice and very gently, cradling Dravin in her right hand, reached with her left to adjust Dorsett’s hold on the baby, so his arm wasn’t so twisted. He looked like he’d never even seen a baby before and that just wasn’t going to do. “They won’t shatter, y’know,” she whispered at him.

Dorsett looked a little sheepish, but his posture didn’t change. “They are so tiny,” he marveled. “I did not think they would be so tiny…”

“Well how big were you expecting babies to be?” She whispered back at him. “They’re just tiny little things, they get big later. We’ll have to get more clothes, and nappies, but now you’ll have a whole full audience to read to.”

Dorsett murmured she couldn’t here but he seemed absolutely mesmerized by the infant in his arms and that was a start. “I will… look into it. Clothes,” he said vaguely. “…I need to find books on being a parent. If they exist, I never found one…”

Cor, Dorsey,” she chided at him. “You don’t need a book for being a parent. You’re doing alright now, it just comes natural. You feed ’em and play with ’em and teach ’em reading and writing and you’ll be good at all that. Just do what your parents did.”

Dorsett looked slightly alarmed at the thought. “I do not remember what my parents did,” he realized, eyes wide. “Not with children under the age of ten!”

“Sh!” She whispered at him and then stifled a tired giggle. Very carefully she set Dravin to lay at her side on the bed and slid down to rest her head on the pillow. In the other room her mother had already piled up the dirty towels and mess of the birthing process. “You must remember what they did for you. Just do that, Dorsey.”

Swallowing a protest, Dorsett eased down beside her, leaving Dorian tucked between his arm and his chest. “Try to get some rest,” he told her, and he leaned over to give her a quick kiss to her forehead. “I love you.”

And he did, however differently.

And at Lihn’s blog check out Part II

However Differently: Children, Friends, and Anniversaries

Advertisements