The Best-Laid Plans

Author’s Disclaimer: When you see Claire, she’s gonna be huge. And I mean HUGE. Like third trimester huge, even though, story-wise, she’s only just begun her second trimester. Don’t read anything into this. I’ve got a weird glitch in my game where second-trimester pregnant Sims, if they appear in the game off their home lot (i.e. at a community lot or somebody else’s home), they look like they’re in their third trimester. *throws up hands* I don’t get it!

“Where are the brides?” Lady Guinevere du Lac asked as the Queen sat next to her. She gestured to the table, more overburdened with flower samples, wine samples, centerpiece samples, sample samples than it had been, in recent memory, with food. “Isn’t it their job to at least look through some of this?”

“You’re not getting out of this that easy, Gwen.”

“It’s a serious question!” Guinevere protested. “After all, Jessie and Lady Lynn are more likely to … well, they’re more likely to care about all this than my son is, that’s for certain.”

“Or than you are?” Alison chuckled as she smoothed her skirts.

“Well, I wouldn’t say that,” Guinevere replied, looking over the display of samples. “I appreciate a good aesthetic display as much as anyone. Though I do wonder just how we’re going to fit all the family colors in without causing an eye-searing mess.”

“Jess already suggested doing everything in lavender and calling it a day.”

“She would try that.”

“Indeed. It’s a good thing she’s met your son — if we had to marry her off to a Reman nobleman, she would have pined for the loss of her purple.”

“Or tried to coax her husband into usurping the emperor so she could get it back.”

“Or that.” Alison bit her lower lip. “Gwen, have I mentioned to you — in all seriousness — just how grateful I am that your son is one of us?”

Guinevere nodded. She knew how it was for Queens, to raise a daughter from babyhood just to the brink of glowing womanhood, then let her go and watch her move to a faraway land, perhaps never to be seen again. It would be hard enough, she knew, losing her Leona to the de Ganises — and they were close enough that she could ride over there on a moment’s notice and slap both Bors and Elyan silly, whenever they should need a good slapping. She couldn’t imagine how hard it would have been to watch her go to another country.

Though, while she was — mentally — on the subject of the de Ganises … “Have you heard from Lady Claire?” Guinevere asked.

“She did confirm she was coming, didn’t she?” asked Alison. “Though I must say, it was awfully sweet of you to have this meeting here, so she wouldn’t have to travel so far in her … delicate condition.”

“So you haven’t talked to her.”

“Not about anything more than pleasantries — why?”

Guinevere made a face. “I’m considering bribing the midwife.”

“What? Why?”

“Alison, I — look, you know Lady Claire doesn’t confide much in me, but Bors talks to Lance, and Lance — Lance has been over there for various things, and he’s worried. The — the child is being really rough on her. And of course Bors is no help.”

“I would think that this is the only possible occasion in which Bors would be any help — considering that the baby might be a boy, after all.”

“Yes, but though Bors wouldn’t care if she lazed around in bed all day, considering, he still expects his dinner to be on the table precisely at six, he still expects his clothing to be perfectly washed and pressed, he still expects to not find a single dust mote on the furniture.”

“Gwen, you’re exaggerating. Even Arthur wouldn’t mind a few extra dust motes if I was pregnant and couldn’t supervise the servants as well as usually! And he grew up in palaces!”

“Alison, Arthur is a reasonable man — and from what you tell me, he’s almost as bad as Lancelot on the neatness front. I swear you could put Lancelot in a pigsty and he wouldn’t notice the filth for at least a week.”

“Oh, Gwen.”

“All right, all right, I am exaggerating about Lance. He’d probably notice the smell in about a day or so. But where was I?”

“Bors not cutting Lady Claire any slack.”

“Right! Poor thing. I don’t know how to help her — I mean, you couldn’t give Bors some money to hire a halfway decent housekeeper, he wouldn’t accept it. Nor would Lady Claire. And even if I did bribe Kata Thatcher to put her on bed rest or something, either Bors would badger Lady Claire into resuming her ‘wifely duties’ –”

“Oh, Wright, don’t tell me he’s making her still do that!”

“No, no, not that wifely duty — that one, he knows, could injure the baby — or make a twin, I swear that’s how we got either Galahad or Leona — but anyway, not that wifely duty, just all the other ones. And Bors would badger her back into them, or else he’d demand that one of the other girls interrupt their studies to pick of Lady Claire’s slack.”

“What about Angelique? Surely the nunnery could spare her if it was to help out her own mother.”

“Oh, please, do you think Bors would ever be that sensible?”

Alison chuckled. “Touché, Gwen. So what do you think …” She trailed off as footsteps entered the room, and both women turned around to see the steward waiting patiently in the doorway.

He bowed once. “The Lady Claire, my lady — your majesty.”

“Send her in,” Guinevere replied, and both women leaned back and tried to wipe the guilt of gossip off their faces.

Slowly, another set of footsteps tread nearer and nearer to the door. Guinevere looked around the Queen to try to see the visitor. As for what she saw … well.

If all Bors wanted was a healthy baby, he was in luck, because he was probably due for a very sturdy and healthy baby. If he wanted a healthy baby and a healthy wife … there, his luck seemed poised to run out.

Lady Claire looked exhausted. She could barely seem to keep her eyes open as shambled slowly to the other side of the table, grabbing the nearest available chair that would put her directly opposite either Guinevere or Alison. Her already-pale face was even more so, and her cheekbones were unusually sharp and well-defined. Guinevere was not a betting woman, but suddenly she found herself in the position that she could probably safely wager a year’s pin-money that all the fat in Claire’s body had migrated down to her stomach.

The worst was when she tried to be polite and smile — her face became an obscenely grinning skull. It was all Guinevere could do to smile back.

Wright, this woman needs help!

“My lady — your Majesty,” Claire said softly. She took a deep breath. “Forgive me for not waiting upon your pleasure …”

“Oh, that’s no trouble at all,” Guinevere replied. “Please, please — a woman in your condition shouldn’t spend any more time standing than is strictly necessary.”

Claire tried to smile again.

“And how are you, my lady?” Alison asked.

“Oh, I’m quite well.” Claire rubbed her stomach as she spoke. Aye, that part of you is well, but how about the rest? Guinevere wondered. “And yourself, Majesty? Lady Guinevere?”

They both made polite murmurs of assent. Then the awkward silence set in — the silence in which both of the women on the side of the table nearest the fireplace, Guinevere knew, were trying to think of a polite way to suggest Claire take it easy, while the woman on the other side …

“Well, did I miss anything?” Claire asked with a faux cheerfulness.

Maybe the best thing they could do for her, right now, was to get this particular meeting over as quickly as possible so she could get home and into bed — or something. “We were just, um, discussing –”

“Flowers,” Alison broke in. “I was just asking Gwen, what flowers Will would prefer — if he would have a preference.”

“Ones that don’t stink,” Guinevere answered without thinking. “Er — I mean –”

“You don’t have to explain, Gwen, that’s pretty much what Tommy said in his letter — go wild as long as he doesn’t smell of them for the next week running.” Alison laughed and Guinevere wondered if Claire heard how on-edge it sounded. “Well, my Lady Claire? Has Gwendolyn any preference?”

Claire’s smile, this time, was of a slow, gentle variety — slow enough that Guinevere could get used to the effect. “She loves hibiscus.”

“Hibiscus. That won’t clash with — er — what is the Princess’s favorite flower?”

“Lilacs, what else?” Alison laughed. She turned to Lady Claire. “We were discussing, before you came in, how my Jessie had suggested solving the dilemma of using all the familes’ colors by decorating the church and reception area in lavender.”

“Blue, red and white, you see,” Guinevere put in.

“And purple happens to be my daughter’s favorite color, so … well, it was a rather transparent ruse.”

“Gwendolyn likes pink,” Claire murmured. “And periwinkle blue … she’s always had more of a preference for pastels. Not like Clarice, Clarice always goes for bold, rich colors, the boldest and richest her father can afford for her clothing … and Angelique …”

But Claire would not talk about Angelique. She turned slightly to the side, staring into space.

“It must be such a blessing to have daughters — I mean, daughters plural, because of course I know all the joys of having a daughter,” Alison said with a small and patently false titter. “But to be able to compare these things of taste … well … I’m sure Gwen will back me up on this, but boys are just no fun in that regard. Mine … mine will wear anything that isn’t torn, smelly or stained.” Alison sighed. “And sometimes not even that.”

“But even so, sons carry other blessings,” Claire murmured, still staring off into space. “Especially born early in the marriage.” She rubbed her stomach again and shifted in her chair.

Alison and Guinevere exchanged glances, and Guinevere swiftly changed the subject to the types of music that would be preferable at the service and reception.

They were able to get so carried away in this subject, naming the songs and dances that their children had begged to be played, as well as those which the children (and their parents) had insisted would not be played, that Guinevere didn’t even realize that Claire’s responses were getting fewer and farther between — not until Alison called out, “My lady, are you all right?”

Claire knocked her head back, blinking swiftly. “I — what?”

“Oh, my lady,” Alison murmured. “You don’t look very well. Are you feeling all right?”

“I — I’m so sorry — I just — I …”

Lady Claire — the poised, the polished, the so-bloody-unemotional-you-wondered-if-she-had-any, embarrassed! Discomfited! Confused!

And a bit greenish, now that Guinevere was noticing. She remembered what Lance had told her, earlier, about Claire’s morning-noon-and-night sickness, how during his short meeting with Bors, he had counted her running back and forth to the privy with a hand over her mouth no less than four times. Guinevere bit her lip.

“Lady Claire, would you like to lay down?” she asked. “Leona’s room is still clean and comfortable, I’m assured.” Cleaner than it ever was when she was living there!

“I — oh, but that would be so rude! When I came here specifically to help …”

“My lady,” Alison replied, with just a touch of the firmness that came out whenever she had to deal with the recalcitrance of her sons or her husband, “we are all women here. Surely, we can understand how … how one is not up to one’s usual stamina at these times.”

Claire looked from one to other, then, without further ado, murmured, “Thank you,” and began her slow, shambling way out of the room.

“Do you need any help?” Alison asked.

“No, no — thank you, Majesty — I’ll just call for a footman.”

Guinevere and Alison watched Claire shamble out the door, then, as soon as she was out of earshot, turned to each other. “We’ve got to do something,” Guinevere announced.

“I know. But wha–”

THUD!

“What was –” Alison started, but Guinevere didn’t give her a chance to finish — she was already up and running.

“Oh, Wright!” Guinevere called as she skidded to a halt.

“Oh, my goodness!” Alison added when she stopped, slightly behind Guinevere.

 “Alfred!” Guinevere called over to her shoulder to the steward — who had to be around here, somewhere, he just had to be. “Alfred, get the midwife! And get a footman to help us get her upstairs!”

Then Queen and noblewoman got on their knees, to give the prone Lady Claire whatever assistance they could.

 To be continued …

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15 thoughts on “The Best-Laid Plans

  1. Ah! Bors you ever loving! Ooooh! *starts swearing loudly and profusely and telling Bors to do things that aren’t even possible*

    *does best Hades in Disney’s Hercules impression* Alright! Alright, I’m cool!

    I like Jess and her not so slyness. And how Tommy and Will just couldn’t care less about flowers or colors or any of that. It sounds like most straight guys I know.

    You are terribly mean though, Miss Morgaine! You better not take half a week for the next update on this. 😛

    Poor Claire. OMG. Bors is such a dick! What’s he gonna do if Claire dies trying to carry to this baby? Just marry someone else and hope he doesn’t kill her before he gets his second son?!

    Update is great, and I’m nail chewing for the next one.

  2. Oh my God! 😯

    Yikes, if anything happens to Claire or the baby–hell, even if they’re both fine, for that matter–I vote that Guinevere and Allison both march right up to Bors and beat the living hell out of him. They could so pull it off, too. Someone really needs to show that sorry excuse for a man where to stick it 👿

  3. I nearly cried in the end! Ok, ok, we all now Bors is the biggest freaking idiot there is, but WTH? That guy needs a (very) rude awakening soon…

  4. Andavri: Who exactly would marry Bors? 😉 The only Sims who are of the necessary standing, aren’t married or engaged, and aren’t way too young (Nimue!!) are townies. And the only townies who could fake being the necessary standing are Socialites, who all have the Maxis face templates. NO THANK YOU! Bors bred pretty well with Claire three times, but I’m afraid to find out what would happen with a townie face!

    Van: Alas, I’ve already taken the pictures, and Alison and Gwen don’t get into a smackdown with Bors. Physically, mind you. Physically. Verbally there’s still quite a bit of room for a smackdown.

    Saquina: Aw, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to make you almost cry. 😦 Bors will get a couple awakenings this round, but I can’t guarantee that they’ll stick.

  5. … On the other hand, maybe this’ll make Elyan grow up a bit, however it turns out. He’s a little full of himself and something of an idiot, yes, but he loves his mother. He could yet be salvageable if he had the right catalyst to change.

    Lucky thing Bors believes that old wives’ tale about sex being bad for the baby. (The old wives’ tale about sex bringing on labor in the very latest days of a pregnancy, however, is true.) He’d make even more of a nuisance of himself otherwise.

    (I wonder how much of this is psychological and how much is physiological, but that’s cos of the whole thing where Mom’s a nurse with a particular interest in neonatal care and thus a fair bit of obstetrics. Some of Claire’s symptoms seem like they could be depression as much as ‘crappy pregnancy.’ Or possibly depression making a crappy pregnancy that much crappier, which sounds like the worst combo ever.)

  6. Not being an expert on this subject myself, and being further hampered by the fact that the actual real-life problems I can find would be mostly impossible to diagnose in Ye Olden Days, I’m thinkin’ your explanation — depression on top of crappy pregnancy — sounds good, Hat! 😉

    And yes, it’s very lucky that Bors believes that old wives tale. Gives Claire at least a nine-month (or more, really, because even he’s not insensitive enough to jump on her right after birth) break from that unpleasant duty!

    As for Elyan, we’ll hear from him in a couple of posts, so we’ll see if this matures him at all. 🙂 (Though it’s a post with his buddies, so … don’t expect a suddenly sympathetic and sensitive Elyan. Even if he DID have that much of a transformation, he wouldn’t show it to his friends!)

    I like answering the points of a post backwards. :mrgreen: It spices things up a bit.

  7. If you ever find yourself in need of a medical opinion, I’ve asked Mom before on behalf of fanfiction type things for other folk. And sometimes for myself.

    Difficult pregnancy coupled with age, depression (depression is of course always best with a side of guilt, since she doesn’t WANT another kid), and exhaustion from picking up after her noble son and husband? Sounds like a recipe for problems to me.

    Pfff he is a teenage boy, I do not expect him to suddenly turn into the white knight he thinks he is. But I know he’s got a spine; it’d be nice to see him use it when he doesn’t expect automatic capitulation. (I have a weakness for jerkasses. However, I look at Elyan and I don’t really see a jerkass; I see a spoiled kid who could become a jerkass if nothing happens to snap him out of it a little. He’s at least got the potential to be a jerkass with redeeming qualities.)

    I like random semi-related trivia! A few pieces: It was believed in Medieval times that regular sexual intercourse complete with orgasm was necessary to keep a woman’s humours balanced. If a husband failed to keep up with this duty, a wife had some legal recourse against him– to protect her own health. Because a woman’s health was a fragile thing– blood being the passionate humour, menstruation was seen as the body disposing of an excess of passion. A woman who no longer menstruated could be seen as dangerous (that crazy post-menopausal cat lady) or holy (nuns, who were generally either post- or peri-menopausal, restricted to a diet that didn’t leave sufficient body fat for menstruation, or both). Menstruation was usually connected with reproduction, given that it stops when a woman is pregnant, but menstruation’s actual purpose was not known until the mid 1800s.

    My browser history is very strange.

  8. I love that kind of random trivia too! In one of my Shakespeare classes we actually learned that in the Renaissance, they thought a great way to tell if she was pregnant was if she orgasmed — which could be really great or really bad, depending. And some authorities believed that what women saw could influence how their unborn children turned out — like if a woman saw a hare, the baby might come out with a hare-shaped birthmark.

    They also thought that women could influence how their unborn children looked by force of personality alone — there was a story going around that the reason why Julia’s (the daughter of Caesar Augustus) kids never seemed to “prove” the fact that she slept with half the Senate was because, when they were in utero, she made them all look like her. Not a bad strategy, if it works! 😉

    Thanks for the offer for the medical opinions, Hat! I might have to take you up on that. 🙂

    And Elyan … ought to be interesting. I don’t quite know how he’ll develop, but I do plan on making him more redeemable than his father. He’s definitely got a spine, and he does have an idea of how to genuinely love another person. Another person whose presence doesn’t directly benefit/make him look good, that is. So, yeah — it ought to be a fun ride. 🙂

  9. I read a thing once– damned if I can find it again, I may go a-hunting– where the author said that it was a common belief in Medieval times that orgasm was necessary for conception. Good for wives, bad for rape victims, that.

    I hadn’t heard that about Julia. That’s rather awesome. Puts an interesting spin on this one line from Much Ado About Nothing– “She who favors her father honors her mother.”

    Elyan has potential, as a character. I look forward to watching him grow up.

  10. Awesome, Hat! The link was fascinating!

    And now I feel that some of the plans I have for various characters aren’t quite as out there as I had assumed. 😀

    • Guinevere bribing the midwife! That is just soo her. And I can’t believe I forgot about that! (Of course, I did write this over two years ago, so …)

      But yes, Bors needs a swift kick to the groin. Amongst other places.

      Thanks, Princess Eternity!

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