To Look on That Was Lent, As If Mine Own

“Who’s a little sweetie? There’s me little sweetie!”

Kata smiled, glad her back was turned and she could busy herself with the teapot and cups. Roma could turn around at any moment, and she would only be embarrassed to see her mother watching her with her first baby with that fond, indulgent smile.

As if Kata wouldn’t understand! As if she herself had been any less silly and sweet with Roma when she had been Marie’s age! How much of a fool she had made over Roma, playing with her, cuddling her, kissing those pillow-soft cheeks and tickling that tubby little tummy. Kata had probably been worse. She had assumed for almost a decade that there would be no man who would have her, that the closest she would come to motherhood would be the first to hold and cuddle baby after baby as she welcomed them into the world. Then, when she married Jeremiah, when they moved to Albion, when she had Roma — then all had been perfect in her world. Even Jeremiah having to hide with her people was not so bad: when Kata had Roma in her arms, she thought she could and would take on the world if it made life better for her little sweetling.

Marie even looked like Roma had as a baby, too, even if Roma didn’t look much like Kata had. Fair skin — black eyebrows — blue eyes, even something of Roma’s baby smile. Good Lord, was it any wonder that when Kata looked at Marie on that blanket, the same blanket Roma had lain on (and Ella and Billy too), she thought for a moment that time had moved backward and she had gotten her first baby back?

And much as she loved the young woman her daughter had become, who could blame her for smiling at the thought of having both?

Kata took a deep cleansing breath. And when she announced, brusquely, as was her wont, “Tea’s ready,” there was scarcely a trace of huskiness in her voice.

“Oh, goodie!” Roma jumped to her feet and scurried to the teapot. Kata sent a wink at Marie, then made her slower way to the sofa by the fireplace.

The more that she thought of it, the more it was a good thing that babies were for the young. Kata’s knees would have laughed in her face had she even thought of trying to jump up as Roma had. They lodged serious protests at the mere idea of getting down to give Marie a little kiss. But then again, what were adult children for, if not providing one with grandchildren and then positioning said grandchildren in such a place where the grandparents could reach them?

Kata sat, and Roma jumped onto the sofa beside her. “Thanks fer invitin’ me, Ma.”

“Ah, it’s me pleasure! Sure ye know that.”

“Especially since Billy an’ Ella are both out,” Roma smirked.

“Ah, well. That’s got a bit ter do with it, aye. But ye know, there’s little better than the company of one’s adult children.”

“Ye think I’m that much more of an adult now than I was when I was livin’ with ye that last year or two?”

Kata glanced sidelong at Roma. Roma, certainly, had grown up fast after Jeremiah had passed. It hadn’t been too long before the two of them were the ones making the decisions, with Kata only occasionally exercising her veto power. Roma had certainly grown up faster than Ella had. As for Billy, Kata had put most of her efforts into making sure he didn’t have to go from child to man while skipping all of the parts in between, so his not sprouting upward as fast as his sisters had was a cause for triumph, not despair.

Still, Kata nodded. “Ye don’t really grow up, I don’t think, ’till ye’ve got someone else ter care for other than yerself.”

Roma nodded. “Aye, Ma. That makes sense. Lord knows I didn’t know nothin’ until I had Marie dependin’ on me fer everythin’.” She glanced over the high back of the sofa and smiled at the baby, lying still but for her deep baby breathing. Poor thing must have been tuckered out by the wagon ride over. Then Roma turned to Kata with a sideways grin. “So’s, Ma, I’m guessing that means ye didn’t grow up ’till ye were over thirty?”

Kata snorted. “Not hardly. I was takin’ care o’ me sister Esmé when I was younger than ye. Me ma died not long after birthin’ her, remember.”

Roma nodded soberly. “I remember, Ma.”

Not as well as Kata did — but that was only to be expected. Kata had learned midwifery from her mother. She’d brought four babies successfully into the world, her mother watching every move she made, before her mother gave birth to Esmé. For three days, mother and child had been fine. And then — childbed fever. It had been Kata’s first professional failure. But as her own mother had said, smiling a little, when she could still speak and think lucidly: That’s how it is, Kat, in midwifery. Ye win some, ye lose some.

Win some, lose some. Her mother had been wrong. That wasn’t just midwifery. That was life.

Kata had lost her mother. But she had been determined not to lose her sister. She had gone with wailing, hungry Esmé in tow to every woman she had helped give birth to her own child, not asking but demanding that these women do their part and help feed her hungry sister, since Kata couldn’t. In return, she’d made them mixtures to help them prevent their next pregnancy. The women had only been too happy to help. Kata had won that round.

Then, a mere nineteen years later, scarcely after she had gotten to have a baby of her own, finally, she had faced her next battle to keep Esmé alive. She had lost that one. She had not even managed to win Esmé’s baby.

And yet … not so long after that, she’d won Ella. And she had won Jeremiah back. With two grown-up stepchildren to boot. Oh, they were a bit leafy on top, aye, but at the end of the day —

“Ma?”

Kata started, the tea sloshing in the cup. “Eh?”

“Ye all right? Ye went right out o’ it fer a minute there.”

“Eh — just woolgatherin’. Rememberin’ days gone by.”

“Gettin’ senile in yer old age. I get it.” Roma sat back with a sage smile and a twinkle in her eye, waiting for the squawk of protest so she could laugh at it.

She would wait in vain. Kata was too busy staring at her daughter. She’d birthed three children and only three children. She’d survived every birth. So had they. They had survived to the age where they could tease their mother with impunity. How great a victory was that?

And what kind of loss would be required to balance it out?

Kata smiled and patted her daughter’s knee. “Ye’re a good girl, Roma, have I told ye that recently?”

Roma stared at her open-mouthed. “Good Lord, Ma! Ye really are goin’ senile!”

“I am not. Jest … countin’ me blessins. Unless ye think that makes me senile, lass, in which case, ye’ve got another think comin’ ter ye.”

Roma giggled. “I don’t think there’s nobody in the world who’s say there was somethin’ wrong with that.”

Good girl. Kata had raised this one right.

“Oh! Oh, Ma! Ye’ll never guess!” Roma suddenly called, nearly jumping from her seat in her eagerness.

“Never guess what?”

“Who Nicole’s mysterious ‘Erin’ friend is!”

“Oh?” Kata asked.

“Erin Shepherd! Marigold’s girl!”

Kata blinked. “Erin Shepherd? She’s the one what moved next ter Nicole?”

“Aye! Can ye believe it, Ma?”

“What did Erin say when she saw ye?”

“Oh, nothin’. She didn’t see me,” Roma shrugged. “But I saw a woman walkin’ across Nicole’s square ter jest the apartment Nicole pointed out ter me, with a little boy in tow, an’ let me tell ye, there ain’t no mistakin’ that red hair.”

No, no, there wasn’t any mistaking of that hair. “Hmm,” murmured Kata.

“What? Don’t ye believe me?”

“Believe ye? Honey, o’ course I believe ye. Makes a right amount o’ sense, it does. Don’t know why we didn’t put it tergether before.”

“Probably ’cause Nicole never mentioned that her friend has hair so red it puts the poppies to shame.”

“Well, there is that,” Kata chuckled. “But I think ye shouldn’t say nothin’, all the same.”

“What? Why? Erin must be right lonely, with Nicole bein’ the only close friend she’s got. She ought ter know that she’s got friends o’ friends around, friends who won’t judge none.”

“Oh, aye, there is that … gettin’ Erin an’ Lyndsay ter see each other an’ talk a bit might be doin’ both o’ them a service. But Roma, ye’d be best off not gettin’ involved.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ve helped bring enough Chevaux babies inter this world ter know ’em when I sees ’em,” Kata answered, “an’ believe me, that baby is either Pierre’s, jest like Erin said, or else Edmond’s been sneakin’ around, up ter no good in the ten seconds that witch Cerise would take her eye off ‘im.”

“Oh,” murmured Roma.

“Ye’re best off not gettin’ in the middle o’ that mess. Believe me.” Kata patted her knee. “Ye might get on Cerise’s bad side, an’ take it from someone who’s taken up permanent residence there, it ain’t no fun place ter be. An’ it would be worse fer ye, honey, much as I hate ter say it. I can sniff an’ walk on by that witch in the market. Ye’ve actually got ter put up with her.”

“He could be Simon’s,” Roma said.

“Eh — what?” Kata gasped.

“Wulf. Erin’s boy. He could be Simon’s.”

Kata blinked. “Roma, why are ye even suggestin’ such a thing –”

“Well, it’s not like it’s no insult ter me!” Roma gasped — or tried to gasp. Failed at gasping, really. Utterly and completely failed at gasping. “I mean, that kid’s old! Old as Meg an’ Pierre’s Basil! He were born long before Simon an’ I ever were somethin’ ter each other, an’ that means he must have been made nine months beforehand, aye? So it ain’t no insult ter me.”

Of course it wasn’t, when you looked at it logically. No woman in her right mind would be upset that her husband had gone and paid to relieve his urges before they had even been a couple. Hell, some might even be grateful, a willing whore could teach a man a great many ways to please a woman. The thing was, women weren’t supposed to be in their right minds when they thought of their husbands’ sexual pasts (unless the husband was a widower. Or she didn’t much care for him anyway). It was against Nature.

“Honey, why are ye even thinkin’ things like that?”

“Joyce Brogan,” Roma continued, musing on, ignoring the question. “Her man got with one of Marigold’s girls, got her in the family way, aye? An’ he took the baby. An’ now Joyce loves that girl like her own, an’ she an’ Berach are married, an’ they jest had their own baby an’ are happy as can be. Ain’t that what ye’ve told me, Ma?”

“Well, yes, but –“

“An’ ain’t it true?” Roma pressed.

“Yes. Yes, it’s true that things have worked out right well fer Joyce and Berach. But Roma –” Kata laid her hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “What the hell is goin’ on that ye’re even thinkin’ these things?”

“Oh, Ma, don’t ye ever imagine that ye’re somebody else? That — that ye’ve got someone else’s problems? Someone else’s life? An’ don’t ye wonder how ye would react?” Roma laughed. It was as brittle and false as a glass diamond. “It’s jest a bit of imaginin’. Nothin’ more.”

“Roma, ye know there’s a special hell fer Sims who lie ter their mothers.”

“MA! That’s somethin’ Cerise Chevaux would say!”

“So? I didn’t say she was a total idiot, jest mostly an idiot. Besides — I’m only half serious. She’d be all serious.”

“Oh, Ma,” Roma murmured, shaking her head. “Why does anythin’ need ter be wrong? Why can’t I jest be — wonderin’?”

Because women didn’t just wonder about things like that. Even the new mother who hadn’t had a real adult conversation in three days didn’t just wonder about that. They certainly didn’t wonder about it calmly, or seemed to be trying to find their way to be accept it, or not be bothered by it. Women might wonder about things like that, but the next thing they would be wondering about would be how to castrate their man while he slept or otherwise make his life a hell.

Unless … they had reason. And they had reason for not wanting to think about murdering their husbands. They had reasons to want to make it work.

Roma’s reason babbled on the blanket.

But Roma, clearly, didn’t want to discuss it. Kata made a mental note to grill Marigold at the next opportunity. She hadn’t said a word to Marigold about Simon beforehand, because the girl had to eat–well, she had to keep a roof over her head, at any rate. She couldn’t go chasing off paying custom, and Kata understood that. She counted many of the women she helped through birth as friends, and she had no doubt that she had delivered some of their husbands’ bastards. But if that Simon was doing anything to hurt Roma — and if Roma sensed something was off — then Kata had to know. A mother would do anything to protect her baby. Including castrating that baby’s husband.

“Anyway, Ma, I got a question fer ye. Keepin’ a babe on the breast is supposed ter keep ye from conceivin’ again, ain’t it?”

“It do fer a lot o’ women. But not fer everybody. Why?”

“Oh, no reason. But it’s normal ter not know whether ye’re comin’ or goin’ with yer courses fer a while after yer babe is born, right?”

“Oh, sure! Some women gets ’em quicker than they were used ter, some later … some gets ’em heavier an’ some lighter, and some skips months and some, aye, some are like clockwork right out o’ the gate, the bitches.” Kata winked and Roma giggled. “But ye an’ Simon are bein’ careful, right?”

There were plenty of things that Roma didn’t say. Those things were, “Oh, certainly!” and “O’ course, Ma, d’ye think we’re gurt fools?” and things of that nature. And because Roma did not say any of those things, Kata paid little mind to the wording of what she actually said.

“Roma! Ye’ve got ter be careful fer that first year!” Kata said, aghast.

“Why? I mean, one or two slip-ups won’t hurt none … right?”

“It could get ye pregnant again, an’ that could hurt. Yer body ain’t finished healin’ from Marie yet, lass. Trust me — the women who have ’em one after another, with hardly no time fer their bodies ter rest an’ heal up, those are the women who gets it worst. It ain’t good fer ye. It might not kill ’em, but it wears ’em out right fast.”

“Isabel Wesleyan waited two years after her first before gettin’ her second,” Roma murmured to her teacup.

Nice way to remind Kata of a professional failure. Kata sighed. “Bein’ careful ain’t no protection against everythin’. Nor is bein’ sensible. The only way ter keep from dyin’ in childbirth is ter be a nun.” Kata considered that. “An’ sometimes not even then. But, honey, there ain’t no reason ter be runnin’ risks when ye don’t have ter.”

Roma bowed her head. “We jest … slipped up a couple times … an’ Ma, it felt good ter be with Simon again! Ye knew he left me alone as I was gettin’ bigger! An’ after, when I was bleedin’ … I was startin’ ter miss ‘im fierce!”

Kata mused over that for a moment, then nodded. Roma and Simon were young. They were in love. They were bound to do stupid things from time to time.

So she thought carefully over her next question. “So … are ye startin’ ter be feedin’ Marie less? Gettin’ her on a few solids?”

“Aye …”

“Then ye probably got nothin’ ter worry about, if worryin’ is what ye’re doin’. Gettin’ ’em off the breast can cause near as much trouble down there as gettin’ ’em on it.”

“I doubt that, Ma.”

Kata snickered. “Well, maybe ye’ve got a point. But look, lass, ye start feelin’ anythin’ — sick in the mornin’, or tenderness in the breast, or whatnot — ye tell me, right? We can start takin’ care o’ ye right early, an’ even if it is a little early ter be havin’ another, well, we’ll get ye an’ the new little one through it right as rain.”

Roma smiled. “Thanks, Ma.”

“That’s what mas are fer, honey. Now, can I be takin’ yer teacup?”

Roma handed her teacup over without protest and followed Kata to the sink. But, of course, Roma stopped at Marie. “There’s me angel! How’s Mama’s best girl doin’?”

Kata smiled to herself as she dipped the cups into the soapy water. Yes, there was nothing like a mother and her first baby.

Marie was whimpering, though, and Kata could hear Roma shushing her. “Aww, poor baby, did ye get lonely? Don’t worry, Mama’s here now. An’ so’s Grandma. We’ll both make ye feel special again. Won’t we, sweet …” There was a sound suspiciously like a kiss.

Then —

“MA!”

Kata spun around with a squawk.

“Ma, she’s burnin’ up!”

“What — Marie?”

But it was Roma who had most of Kata’s attention. Roma, with her eyes wide and fearful. Nearing tears. “She were fine this mornin’! I swear! I wouldn’t have brought her nowhere if she weren’t fine! But now she — she –“

“Calm down, calm down. Let me see.” Without a word, Roma turned Marie around so Kata could get a closer look. But her hands, white-knuckled, trembled as they held Marie out.

Kata smiled only to keep Roma from panicking, and a panicking Roma wouldn’t be any good for a sick Marie. But as she looked at that baby … the red cheeks, the glazed, dull eyes … Kata swallowed.

She pressed her fingers against the baby’s forehead, and her heart did not so much sink as plummet.

But she couldn’t be upset. Not with Roma standing right here. “Ye know what, lass, I think Marie might be a bit poorly. But ye know what? It’s a good job ye an’ she are here. Why, ye can jest stay the next few days with me, an’ we’ll nurse Marie through this together, an’ I’ll show ye how it’s done, an’ she’ll be right as rain soon enough.”

That was what Kata said. And after Roma nodded, put Marie back on her shoulder and started to shush her and sway her and sing to her, Kata prayed.

She prayed that only she and the Lord Wright would ever know how baldly she’d lied.

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16 thoughts on “To Look on That Was Lent, As If Mine Own

  1. Oh no. Oh, oh, oh no, no, no. This is it, huh? It was interesting, seeing the conversation that lead up to the part I don’t want to think about.

    Of course Simon’s not sleeping just in his own bed, Kata. That gives him way too much credit. And I know it’s weird, but I think it’s better if Roma realizes that. I mean it’d suck if she were completely deluded about what kind of man Simon is. The more she realizes about him, the more she can be clear-headed in dealing with him.

    Poor Kata, though. Yeah, you maybe win/lose some, but it’s always harder closer to home.

    But hey, maybe I’m just being a pessimist, it could happen. Kids sometimes get sick…

    • This could be it. Or this might not be “it.” Frankly I’m not sure what “it” you’re referring to, so even if I didn’t want to be cagey … I’m not sure I could answer.

      Well, no, Simon’s not just sleeping in his own bed, that’s pretty much a given with him. And I think what Roma is trying to do is prepare herself for the time when she inevitably has to admit that he’s not been faithful. She’s slowly working her way up to admitting it, step by step. It’s probably the best thing for her, even if it makes Kata want to rip Simon a new one … several new ones.

      And it is true that kids get sick … we’ll just have to see how Marie fares.

  2. Yikes :S

    You know, when you first mentioned the possibility of an infant mortality, Marie and Stevie were the first two possibilities that came to mind for me–Stevie because I figured you might have taken his complexion and used it as some sort of symptom or Marie because of the apparent tension in her parents’ relationship. That and because Simon was so uncomfortable the one time we saw them together (Not feeling like a dad yet? Annoyed that he has to buy out a third indenture? Guess we won’t know until we get his POV?).

    That said, even if I was expecting it… 😦 Poor Marie and Roma and Kata. And Simon too, I would hope.

    I’m not surprised that Roma knows what kind of man she married, and I think that’s probably for the best. No sense in getting upset about things he did before she was even in the picture (and vice versa–even though, sadly, it is the times and that double-standard is still in play). But I can’t imagine Kata would let Simon get away with doing anything now, especially if the worst does happen and Roma has enough on her plate without Simon sowing wild oats. Actually, now that I think about it–I could see Marigold throwing him out on her own, even if Kata doesn’t mention it. I mean, if I was a brothel madame and I had a sister who’d just lost/could potentially lose a child, and her husband–said child’s father–walked into my place for a little rendez-vous… 👿

    Hoping Marie pulls through… but Kata would be the expert here and she doesn’t seem too hopeful, so I’m not either 😦

    • I can safely say that any infant mortalities in this or any other round are actually not entirely because of plotty reasons. They’re because of random death dates. Yup, I used a highly scientific process to randomize the deaths in my hood. (Excel =randbetween FTW!) And I made that announcement after the deaths for the round had already been set.

      But yeah, if Marie doesn’t pull through … poor everybody. 😦

      We will actually see the brothel in the next post, so I won’t say anything about Simon, Kata or Marigold’s potential reactions. However, Simon has paid visits to the brothel while he’s been married. Marigold has just tried her best to ignore it. Simon’s been smart enough not to request Marigold, though, because I’m sure he can sense that Marigold would slap him into next Tuesday if he even thought about it.

      As for Marie … well, we’ll see.

      Thanks, Van!

      • *le pout* I really do hope Marie is ok, and I will cry many tears if she isn’t. I guess I missed a post or two talking about how Roma and Simon’s relationship is rocky (I mean, yeah, he was a little uncomfortable with Marie, but I thought that was mostly because Roma thrust the kiddo at him before he could get his armor off? I didn’t see any problem with her checking on them, given that that was how I treated my husband when Kitten was younger. I just didn’t see the red flags that everyone else did, I guess? And now I wonder what that says about me. *laugh*). But if it is as rocky as everyone says (and really, Roma could honestly have just been wondering! I wonder about my hubby’s past sometimes even though I know just about everything), then Marie’s death will definitely not help things her miraculous recovery may or may not, but I hope it will. Either way, I’m going to hold my kiddo the whole next entry. *laugh*

        • It was mostly the discomfort with the baby … and people around here don’t necessarily view Simon as ideal husband material. (Can’t say I do, either, and I created him.) Simon also didn’t react very well when Marie accidentally got her finger in his armor, and the other characters in the room seemed to sense that something was off.

          Plus, there’s also his LTW, which people may be holding against him … and they should, because I created it to reflect his innermost desires. Seems like Simon just wants to get rich quick to get a nice elf-vampire mistress, and where does that leave Roma?

          But I’ll let you all judge how good of a husband and father Simon is over the next few posts.

  3. Oh! 😦 I really hope Marie pulls through! I know infant mortality rates are likely to be through the roof at this time, but I’d prefer to keep that to the statistics…

    As for Simon, well it’s sad that Roma’s so resigned to him already. I want their relationship to improve, but I can’t really see how it could if Marie dies.

    *crosses fingers*

    Emma

    • Yeesh, I couldn’t stand to be killing babies left, right and center. (Aside from not being able to take it, imagine, just imagine, all of those character files building up and clogging the computer …) But the times is the times, and, well, I feel I have to make some concessions to the times. We’ll just have to see if Marie is one of them.

      We’ll also have to see about Simon and Roma, just how resigned she is or isn’t to him. And what happens to their relationship after this.

      Thanks Emma. 🙂

      • You could always repurpose the dead Sims if you want to save space, especially Sims who die before we get a good sense of their faces. Seoth used to be Laralita’s first husband and Aspen was Lettie’s niece who died as a toddler (and the same Sim is now Ashe, because hacking character files is fun). Also Remiel was Thetis’s son Byrn and Severin’s guards used to be Dalston and Father Quartus. Works especially well with young Sims since the game doesn’t let you kill babies and toddlers anyway.

        • So far, every Sim who has died, I’ve killed off for real. (Morgause especially. We don’t need to see more of her! … Anytime soon …) Some of them have been glitched (poor Isabel Wesleyan), some of them have just been old and I’ve heard that Sims with too many memories can lag lots and such. Plus, we’ve gotten a pretty good look at all of their faces. 😉

          Most of my extras are townies, anyway. I have way too many of those. They’re the first in line for a makeover if I need somebody to fill a role. And sometimes … ok, a lot of the time … they don’t get a makeover at all.

          But I will be keeping that idea in mind for folks who, alas, die young, before they really grow into much of a face or get memories. 🙂 Thanks Van!

          • How was Isabel glitched, if you don’t mind my asking? My neighborhood is about to become a big old fireball, so I’d like to know what to look out for next time, when I actually set up the neighborhood properly. 🙂 Thanks!!

            • I’m not really sure what happened with Isabel in terms of “what glitched her,” but you know how when you click on a Sim, a bunch of self-interactions come up? (Like “blow bubbles,” “entertain,” and all of the cell phone ones.) Hers were drastically reduced in number. Also, if I moused over her when she was selected, she would stop whatever she was doing and rotate 90 degrees every time I moused over her. Very annoying.

              This has happened to other Sims, and I’ve solved it in a couple of ways:

              1) Quit without saving as soon as the problem is noticed. (This is a real PITA.)
              2) Use the batbox to force errors on all in-world. Use MoveObjects to delete the Sim. Save and exit to the neighborhood. Come back, and the Sim is fine.

              I wish I would have known that before I killed Isabel off … but I do like this storyline, so, eh, you win some, you lose some.

              I just hope that the Sims aren’t showing signs of impending doom for the hood, because if so, I am so, so screwed.

  4. Oh, that’s not good. I’d totally freak out if that was my Noah burning up (hell, he’s a little warm and I have to check his temperature immediately). I hope everything goes well and Kata will be able to save Marie. Poor little baby.

    • I’ve already posted the answer (and for that matter, you’ve already read it) to that question, so … no comment?

      But I will say this: thank the lord for antibiotics, and competent and knowledgeable doctors, and all of the medical apparatus we have today.

      Thanks Saquina.

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