Blood and Water
Bregdur had never married or had children. Alduial believed that this was due to his inherent gloominess, after all, gloomy men did not court well and no one had ever forced him to marry so he had not bothered with it. Norinen suspected that perhaps they shared a similar sort of proclivity (after all a man in the bathhouses had once informed him it ran in families); not that the idea of his older brother engaged with anyone in anything beyond a firm handshake didn’t make him quite ill. Cefwen had once ventured to suggest some sort of horse-riding based damage that left him quite unable to go through the motions of conception.
None of these reasons were right and Bregdur had never been informed of them (nor of the partially-accurate-though-unrelated-theory Tessriel and Thalion had briefly shared that he was, in fact, secretly seeing a washerwoman). No, the reasons were much more exhausting and as he sat at his desk in his office, forehead pressed to his hands, the words his father’s second wife had said carried into his head. “You will look after the little ones,” she had said (for some reason she had always insisted on calling any of the children who were unmarried ‘little’ he never understood that). “You will never let them get hurt. “And then she had fallen asleep for a little while.
She wasn’t his mother, not precisely, but he had never actually met his own mother and Father had married her so quickly he had never actually known any other woman. But she had been a wonderful woman and she had never for his entire life treated him as anything less than her son and so he felt obligated, more so than perhaps he should have, to never let his younger siblings get hurt. It was the least he could do for her, after all, after everything she had ever done for him.
Tessriel never bothered him, but then she lived in Dol Amroth so that was fine. And Cefwen had her husband to keep her in hand (thankfully). No, the only two he had to look after were Norinen and Alduial and they were both completely exhausting.
He took a deep breath and looked up at Sellion by the door, waved his hand lightly and straightened up in his seat. The door opened and the two siblings made their way in after a bit of jostling to see who would get to go first. Norinen had forgone his ridiculous feathered hat and Alduial was wearing her Healer’s cowl (despite the fact that he knew she did not work until much later tonight). He gestured to the two chairs in front of the desk. (Not letting them get hurt means not beating them both to death with a rock).
While Sellion poured he let them stew in silence, over the years he had worked out most of his sibling’s weak points. For both Alduial and Norinen, similar as they were, it was silence, and really it was just a matter of which one broke first. He sat back in his chair, nodded at Sellion, and waited. His eyes danced over Alduial’s broken nose (Nearly got her out of trouble, that one. Nearly) and then over Norinen who was fussing with his wine. He counted down seconds while he waited.
(One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine…)
(Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen…)
“Now really what is this about?” Norinen asked finally. (Twenty-three, a new record.)
“Yes, really, Bregdur. Some of us have work to be getting on with,” Alduial added. (You do not work until nightfall tonight, it is only eight in the morning).
He waited another beat, to really drive in the wait. “I want you both to stop with all of this arguing about… everything you argue about. No more power-plays, no more trying to catch the other off-guard. No more wasting my time with your concerns,” he emphasized that part, looking pointedly between them.
Mouths were opened, protestations, he held up his hand. “No. Stop. Norinen apologize to your sister for trying to embarrass her.” (Children. I am dealing with Children.)
“For doing what?” Alduial asked in shock, staring at him.
“Oh, please,” Norinen replied dismissively, looking between them. “I just brought up one of your little affairs to Bregdur. Calm down, sis, really. But honestly some soldier from Pelargir…”
“You ass,” Alduial hissed.
(Think about the tavernmaid in Dol Amroth.)
“Well maybe if you do not wish to be seen you should not go hanging off his arm in a tavern.”
(The tavernmaid with brown hair) Bregdur raised his voice a little, “Apologize, Norinen.”
“Oh fine,” Norinen said, standing, and performing a mocking bow (Grey eyes with little flecks of blue). “I am terribly sorry for trying to embarrass you to our brother, sis. It will not happen again.”
Bregdur waved a hand. “Accept the apology.”
Alduial gritted her teeth and stood and gave a curtsy. “I terribly accept your apology.”
(Brown skin under a dress the color of summer wheat, always laughing). “Fine. Norinen go.” Bregdur waved a hand dismissively, Norinen left.
“Can you believe him, really?” Alduial asked, betrayed. “I mean, what did he even think-”
“Stop. We are done discussing it. We are on to your apologies now.” (White teeth, eyes like the sea)
“I have not done anything to him,” Alduial countered.
“Not him. I had to receive a very uncomfortable complaint from some… Miss Laerlin. That you are withholding her approval to move forward. Why?”
“I do not believe she is suitable,” Alduial replied stiffly.
“I find her to be disrespectful of the institution.”
“Is that all?”
“Just give the woman her damned approval. I will not have her marching down here to bother me again. I do not have the time. Make it as backhanded as you want, I do not care.” (Might read it though, she does have a way with backhanded compliments)
“What does it matter if she gets the approval? They will not set an examination before we are at war.” (Dead.)
“Good, then all the more reason to give her a meaningless note and keep her from bothering me again. If I so much as hear a breath of the name Laerlin I will personally see you are evacuated with Cefwen and her children.”
“You would not dare,” she hissed in disbelief. (No, that would be a little too cruel) .
“Consider it a personal thank you, to me, for not inquiring about whatever has happened to your nose.”
“Fine,” Alduial said, rolling her eyes. (She sang pretty songs in some foreign tongue, the tavernmaid).
“Good. That is all. I will see you for dinner in a few days.”
She departed in an irritable bustle of skirts and Bregdur waved Sellion along to follow her. Children. He was awash in children.