Until It’s Gone

Ververe 4, 1013

Never before in his life, Elyan thought, had he been half so nervous.

He paced the colored cobblestones in front of the great Cathedral of St. Robert. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. He was being kept waiting, and he hated that enough when his stomach wasn’t gnawing itself in two. Perhaps the delay was at least partially his own fault, since had had come early — he couldn’t risk being late himself. But somehow, that thought just made everything worse.

He could think of nothing else but, I could screw this up. I could screw this up! Then it would be my fault — mine, mine, mine, and no one else’s!

Elyan was waiting for a young lady. All he knew of her was her name — Lady Clemencia Abraham — and her description. But if all went well, she might be his wife after he graduated.

And if it didn’t … he would have lost another potential bride, and he couldn’t blame his father for this one.

Not that Leona was much of a loss, or so Elyan told himself again and again. Sure, losing her dowry was quite the blow. Lady Clemencia’s was nowhere near so large. And even Elyan had to admit that Leona could be quite pretty when she put an effort in, which she rarely did in any case. But Lady Clemencia could be just as pretty, or even prettier. There was nothing stopping her.

And surely Lady Clemencia would be calm, not always flying off the handle like Leona was apt to. She would be respectful. Obedient. It seemed that every country but Albion knew how to raise its daughters. Elyan would be fine. Just fine. He just needed to —

Oh, Lord!

Red hair — dark skin — a pink dress — that had to be her!

Except … did it? She was walking with a young man. What woman would come to meet a prospective partner with a young man in tow? No, this had to be someone else. There had to be more dark-skinned, red-haired ladies who favored pink in Camford than just Lady Clemencia. It stood to reason.

The eyes of the young man fell on Elyan; embarrassed, he ducked his head and examined his cuticles in mind-numbing detail. He thus did not see the glance the young man sent to the woman. He did not see the nod. He did not see the way the young woman’s eyes lit up, and he did not see the way she looked at him.

Luckily for Elyan, he did see the white stockings of the young man coming closer and closer to his field of vision, so he was able to compose himself and look up before he looked like a complete idiot.

The young man stuck out his hand. “Sir Elyan de Ganis, I presume?”

“Yes — yes, indeed, sir.” Elyan shook the young man’s hand, trying very hard not to look beyond him, to the young woman sighing beatifically. Could she be …?

“Greetings. I am Olyver of Cotsworth, and this …” Olyver stretched a hand behind him, somehow managed to find the small of the woman’s back, and guided her to Elyan. “This is my cousin, Lady Clemencia Abraham.”

“Lady Clemencia!” Elyan smiled. “Greetings, my lady. How are you, on this …” Elyan groped for an adjective. “Fine day?” he finally settled for.

“Oh!” Lady Clemencia giggled. “Oh, very well. And yourself?” Her voice was high and squeaky, like a songbird’s without the melody.

“The same. I …” Elyan cast a sidelong glance at her cousin. “I must thank you for coming. I …” He groped for her hand to kiss, but she didn’t seem to notice. He grinned foolishly, and she only grinned back. Then she leaned in closer, lips puckered …

Elyan kissed her very quickly on both cheeks before anything untoward could happen. He could feel her cousin’s eyes on the back of his head the whole time.

But when Elyan turned around, Olyver’s face was as close to impassive as a man could want. Elyan heard a giggle — he turned his head to see Lady Clemencia holding a hand to her mouth and delicately tittering, all the while looking at her cousin like a child who had just gotten into the cookie jar and been caught … by an indulgent uncle, almost certain to let her off with a wink if she reacted just right.

Somewhere in the depths of Elyan’s soul, a voice he had mostly learned to ignore murmured, Oh, boy.

Olyver coughed, and Elyan turned back to him. “So. Sir Elyan. Where were you planning to take my lady cousin on your outing?”

Elyan panicked. He was supposed to take her somewhere? Such as — where? Where could he take her? More to the point, where could he bring her that wouldn’t cost him any money?

“Sir Elyan?”

“Er …” Elyan remembered, suddenly, the reason why he had suggested this spot as a meeting place. “I was actually thinking the cloister gardens, sir.” Elyan gestured to the walled gardens to their left. “It’s quite the beautiful spot in this season. I’m sure Lady Clemencia will love it.”

Olyver didn’t answer. Instead, he looked at Lady Clemencia. After a confused moment or two, Elyan looked at her, too.

She was pouting. “I was hoping to go to the shops …”

Elyan’s heart dropped to the pit of his stomach. No, he couldn’t do an unauthorized shopping trip right now! And he would have to buy her something flashy and expensive, to prove that he was interested, wouldn’t he? If he did that, how was he to pay his share of the maid’s wages? These Camford maids would walk right out on you if you couldn’t pay …

“But — but, my lady,” Elyan replied, “surely the shops would be better for a wet day, or a cold one. Today the sun shines, and the gardens are quite lovely, I assure you. Besides, the shops are back in the direction from which you came. I would hate to tire you out unnecessarily.”

Lady Clemencia still looked unconvinced. Elyan scrambled for another reason. “Besides … in the shops, it is so crowded — entirely with the wrong sort of people, of course. Why, we should scarcely be able to hear ourselves think, let alone hear each other speak. But the cloister gardens are quiet and calm. I think it would be a wonderful place for us to get to know each other better … do you not, my lady?”

Lady Clemencia still frowned … then, all of a sudden, she shrugged. “All right!” She grinned at Elyan, then shot a glance at her cousin. “Will you be chaperoning, Ollie?”

What — no! Elyan didn’t want to have to talk to this girl with her cousin breathing down his neck every minute!

Olyver shook his head. “The sanctity of the spot should be chaperone enough. And if you need me, I will be in the cathedral.” He gestured. “You know what today is.”

Lady Clemencia made a moue, but she didn’t argue. “All right. Shall we, Sir Elyan?”

“Naturally.” Elyan extended an arm to her, especially to help her up the steps and back down again, but she didn’t take it. Olyver followed them up the stairs.

He did not follow them down, but before Elyan and Lady Clemencia took their leave of him, he grabbed Lady Clemencia’s arm and whispered something into her ear. She nodded once. Then Olyver went into the cathedral, and Elyan and Lady Clemencia went into the gardens.

Elyan had not been lying when he said that the cloister gardens were a beautiful spot this season, though the walkway into them was plain and austere. Legend had it that St. Robert himself had laid the plans for them, even when his church was just a simple hut with a thatch roof, indistinguishable from all the others in the village until you walked inside. He had said that while his monks and nuns were to cut themselves off from many worldly pleasures, the beauties of nature were not one of them. He used to give services of thanksgiving to the Lord, praising Him for sending St. Robert and his followers from their harsh desert home to this fair green land, with all its flowers.

“Oh!” Lady Clemencia gasped as she and Elyan entered the garden. “It really is pretty! Look at all the roses!”

Elyan looked. There were indeed a lot of roses — pale pink ones, growing in vines over the white walls. He wondered if the legends stating that St. Robert had planted them himself were true. If so, he had to wonder at the man’s taste. The whole of the gardens were rather …

Elyan stopped that thought right there. He was fairly certain it was blasphemous to imply that the holy St. Robert was in any way … effeminate.

However, it certainly wasn’t blasphemy to think that some monks were … well … not the most masculine of creatures. Most likely, St. Robert had designed some simple gardens, and later monks had come along and turned it into … this.

He supposed it could be worse.

“You know,” Lady Clemencia remarked, “how odd it is, that I’ve never come here before. Have you ever been here before, Sir Elyan?”

“No, my lady,” Elyan replied.

“Why not?”

He blinked — surely that was a more direct question than was strictly warranted? Er even allowed on so slender an acquaintanceship? “I … suppose …” Elyan hunted about for an answer. “I suppose I was always too occupied with my studies.”

“Oh? And what are you studying?”

Elyan almost breathed a sigh of relief — this was more like it! Leona had never asked after his studies. He always had to go through the trouble of bringing it up. “History,” he replied, “particularly military history.”

“Oh,” Lady Clemencia replied.

Elyan stopped — mentally, if not physically. “… Oh?”

“Well …” Lady Clemencia batted her lashes at him and shrugged. “That’s awfully dull, isn’t it?”

Elyan knew not what surprised him more: that a well-bred lady (other than Leona) would come out and say that, especially on a first encounter, or that what she said mirrored precisely what he had thought many, many a time.

“I mean,” Lady Clemencia went on, “Ollie is studying the same thing. He says he’s studying to be a great knight and general, I say nobody every learned how to be a great anything from a book. Don’t you agree, Sir Elyan? Don’t you think that books don’t really teach you much at all?”

“Well, I –”

I, for one,” she continued, not bothering to wait for his response, “I don’t think I’ve learned anything by reading! Anything at all! Whenever I try to sit down with a book, my mind wanders so many different places, I’ll read the same page over time after time without understanding it! I don’t see the point, really. If you’re going to learn, you need to learn by doing it, not by simply reading about it.”

Elyan didn’t answer. He was too busy trying to determine just how one went about getting a Camford education if one despised reading. Elyan didn’t like to read very much, but at least he understood its value. Mother Julian’s ruler had drilled that into his head (and knuckles) quite nicely.

“I’m always so glad I chose to concentrate my studies in music,” Lady Clemencia went on. “As long as I practice enough, why, I need never open a book at all, and still pass all of my classes!”

“Music?” Elyan asked.

“Oh, yes, I study music — why, didn’t I tell you that before?” Lady Clemencia turned to him, batting her lashes. “Such a silly goose I am! Why, I’m surprised you didn’t ask!”

“I –” Elyan began, but never had a chance to finish — which rather proved the point he was too cowardly to make.

“My papa says that a musical education is the best possible investment a young girl can make,” Lady Clemencia went on. “Especially if she’s like me.” She giggled. “Everything about my head that’s good is all on the outside, you see.”

Elyan blinked. “Your — your father says that about you?” Surely … surely that wasn’t the sort of thing a father was supposed to say to his daughter, was it? Oh, his own father had told his sisters, Clarice especially, that it was a good thing they were so pretty, else they would have a hard time finding a husband if they insisted on being so clever. But surely calling your own daughter dumb

“Oh, yes! I’m my papa’s little chowderhead!” Lady Clemencia laughed. “But that’s all right. There are only so many brains to go around in a family, after all. It’s a lucky thing my brothers got them! Could you imagine? A woman who’s so much brighter than all of the men? Where would that get anybody?”

“I … haven’t the least idea,” replied Elyan, as he rounded another corner with Lady Clemencia. They were making a constant circuit of the cloister gardens, going around and around the same flowers, the same trees, the same vines creeping over the same walls.

“Papa always says,” Lady Clemencia kept talking, “that a girl like me — pretty face, pretty voice, pretty … well, you know!” She tittered. “All of that, a pretty girl like me is made to marry an old man, with lots of money, somebody with an establish estate that practically runs itself, so all I have to do is look pretty, sing pretty, and provide him with a few children. Then, once he dies, I would get my jointure and live as well as I pleased, with a handsome steward to manage all of my affairs for me!”

“How … nice …”

“But I never agreed! I always said, I want a young man!” Lady Clemencia giggled and patted — Elyan thought it was meant to be a playful slap, though he couldn’t be sure — his arm. “Like you!”

“How lucky for me.”

“And for me!” Lady Clemencia laughed. “Papa would have had me married off to old Baron Herbert, you know. The betrothal papers were signed and everything! But then Baron Herbert’s estates were all ravaged by the soldiers, and Papa ripped up the betrothal papers. And I had to go before monks and swear that my virtue was still intact, that Baron Herbert and I hadn’t done anything! Ugh! As if I would if we weren’t married!” Lady Clemencia shuddered. “Anyway — that’s why Papa decided to look for somebody outside of Glasonland for me to marry. He says he wants to keep one of his children out of the war. He would have even taken a Reman, he says!”

“I … I see,” replied Elyan. He was not trying to be rude. But he had learned the hard way that the civil war was not something you brought up with Glasonlanders. Some of the young men of knightly stock had left Camford to fight, but there were still plenty left, most under strict orders from fathers or other guardians to stay where they were until it was clear which side would be the winner. And among those men, there was nothing that would start a brawl faster than good news from the front … for the wrong side. Elyan and Aglovale had already had to sidle out of more than their fair share of barfights, thanks to that.

Lady Clemencia suddenly stopped. Elyan stopped as well, perforce, and faced her in some confusion. She sighed. “I don’t blame Papa. Not after Eachann left.”

“Ea–Eachann?”

“My brother.” Lady Clemencia sighed. “He’s fighting with Lord Francis.”

Lord Francis — the strongest of all of King Vortigern’s bastards. “My — you have my sympathies, my lady. And my prayers for his safe return.”

“Oh, you’ll pray for him?” Lady Clemencia gasped. “You will? Truly?”

“I …” Elyan shrugged. “… Of course?”

“Because Papa won’t,” Lady Clemencia murmured, picking at her nails.

“He — he won’t?”

“Because Issac is fighting with the King, you see. Which is where Papa told him to fight. Papa can’t fight anymore himself — his gout is too bad.”

“I–I see.”

“But if you’ll pray for him,” Lady Clemencia went on, smiling slightly with only the corners of her lips, “that — that makes two people praying! And that makes the Lord twice as likely to listen, doesn’t it?”

“Who — who else is praying for him?”

“I am, of course!” Lady Clemencia gasped.

“You — you are?”

“Of course! He’s my brother!”

Elyan barely held back a flinch. Would — if he had incurred their father’s wrath, would any of his sisters pray for him? Their father had trained them all, so well, to be obedient. Would their natural affection for him outweigh their duty to obey their father?

“However,” Lady Clemencia went on, “I don’t tell my papa. It will only make him angry. So I think — what he doesn’t know, won’t hurt me!” Lady Clemencia laughed.

… She thought that was funny? That kind of dishonesty? Of — cowardice?

Leona wouldn’t do that, whispered the voice that Elyan so often tried to ignore. As happened so often, that voice was correct. Leona would have broadcast her defiance to the world. In fact, Elyan thought glumly, she probably would have done more for the erring brother than just pray for him. That was the kind of firebrand Leona was.

Still, that voice was whispering to Elyan that there was, perhaps, something to be said for an honest firebrand, when compared to a sly … what?

“Well — I’m sure your brothers, both, will be fine, and will come safely home again,” Elyan replied. “If we’re all praying for them.” He glanced at the progress of the sun. “But — but I should be getting you back to your cousin, shouldn’t I?”

“If you insist!” Lady Clemencia chirped. Elyan extended her his arm, and she took it with a smile.

They walked back to the entrance of the gardens, Lady Clemencia prattling on about inconsequentials. How could she go from something so deadly serious as her brothers on opposite sides of a war to something so silly as a pretty hat she had seen on Milliner’s Lane? It defied logic — reason — and if women had no part in either, as his father often insisted, then it defied emotional sense!

But there she was, talking and talking and talking …

And when they finally arrived at the entrance of the gardens, Lady Clemencia turned a simpering smile onto him. “I had such a nice time, Sir Elyan,” she crooned. “It was so kind of you to take me on this outing …”

“My — my pleasure,” Elyan replied. He glanced out of the corner of his eye. “Er, your cousin is here …”

“But, Sir Elyan,” Lady Clemencia pouted at him with sad puppy eyes, “aren’t you going to bid me farewell?”

Elyan hesitated. But in the end — what could he do? Lady Clemencia had a decent dowry. She was of good breeding. She might not be as obedient as she seemed … but she was defying her father in order to pray for her brother. Surely that was a symptom not of willfulness, but of dutiful love.

Still, there was a knot in Elyan’s stomach as he lifted her hand to his lips. “Farewell, Lady Clemencia.”

And that voice he so often ignored was practically screaming at him.

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13 thoughts on “Until It’s Gone

  1. Lol, (Don’t know what you’ve got) until it’s gone. How apt. I think our dear little Elyan is going to find himself missing Leona quite a bit as he sorts through shallow, fluff-headed, pretty girls with whatever dowries that Bors can find.

    Well now we know why Clemencia’s father calls her dumb. It’s a fairly apt description…

    I wonder what that voice he won’t listen to will be telling him after a parade of Clemencias and their empty heads… Oh well, Elyan, old kid, you got yourself into this mess. Think of it this way, the more boring you are, the less likely she’ll want to marry you. As Ron White points out, you can’t fix stupid… Though plastic surgery might be in the hands of the demigoddess rather than surgeons, you still can’t fix stupid.

    • And just think, Andavri — the only reason Elyan even has pretty girls to choose from at all is because I have face template replacements in. πŸ˜‰ If I didn’t, he’d just have shallow, fluff-headed, ugly girls to sort through!

      (However, for my own sake as I breed these Sims, Elyan will at least have pretty girls to choose from.)

      No, you can’t fix stupid; however, Elyan didn’t get himself entirely into this mess. His father did a good bit of the job. Elyan certainly dug the hole a lot deeper, but if it wasn’t for Bors being … Bors, Elyan might have a shot at better types of girls. He might even be able to prove himself worthy of them.

      Though I have to say, are you sure Elyan being boring is the best way to ward off the likes of Clemencia? I would imagine a girl like Clemencia might not want an interesting guy. An interesting guy might want to talk every now and then, instead of letting her chatter and chatter and chatter …

      Oh, this will be fun. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks, Andavri!

  2. Ohohoh… what a twist, Elyan. What a twist. You finally meet your father’s definition of a “perfect” woman, and what do you know? She does zilch for you.

    Really, all of Bors’s brainwashing aside, Elyan is not a stupid boy. If he doesn’t have someone who can keep up with him intellectually, someone who can keep him on his toes, he’s going to get very bored very quickly. I’m glad he met Clemencia, and you know what? I hope he tries seeing her a few more times. The more he sees of Clemencia, the more he’ll appreciate Leona, and–more importantly–the more he’ll begin to understand that A) the world isn’t what Bors thinks it is and B) really, it would be damn dull if it was.

    And oh, I hope he switches his major when he has the chance! That would be a great first step for Elyan in the whole becoming his own person and figuring out the world for himself thing. The fact that it would piss off Bors? Happy bonus. πŸ™‚

    • I don’t know if Clemencia quite meets Bors’s definition of a perfect woman — a perfect woman, in Bors’s eyes, is chaste, obedient, and SILENT. πŸ˜‰ However, I think Bors is going for “two out of three ain’t bad” in regards to Clemencia (or else he doesn’t really care about her personality much, since she checks all the other boxes). It would be interesting to see how Elyan would react given Bors’s true ideal type.

      That’s a good point about Elyan needing someone of his own intellectual caliber. He’s not a book-smart guy (mostly because he has no interest in being one), but he’s no dummy. He’s also been rather spoiled by all the intelligent noblewomen of Albion. He has no idea what depths of dumb truly are out there. πŸ˜‰

      It would be a great first step for Elyan! He may have even already done it in-game. He may even be smart enough to do it without telling his father. πŸ˜‰ Wouldn’t THAT be fun and interesting.

      Thanks, Van!

  3. Leona’s starting to look pretty good huh. I have to say though, no matter how much he may need her and will probably want her back after all, he’s been treating her like crap for too long and I hope she doesn’t end up marrying him. Ever.

    • But, Eva … they both have such good genes … they’re almost certain to make pretty babies! (And this is the Sims! NOTHING is as important as making pretty babies! … Or terrifying freaks of nature, if your taste extends that way.)

      However, yeah, Elyan would still have a lot of shaping up to do if he ever wanted to win Leona back. If Leona truly enjoys being a sea captain, she might not want to get married to anybody. She would not appreciate being landbound because of pregnancies … plus, if she had kids, I’m not sure how keen she would be to leave them for months or even years at a time. I think Leona’s personality would force her to choose one or the other: family or career (given the constraints of her time and place, that is).

      That being said, we shall just have to see what the future holds for these two. At this point, even I don’t know where their road will lead.

      Thanks, Eva!

      • I do agree that Elyan will have a ton of making up to do if he ever decides to pursue Leona again, on the off-chance she even lets him pursue her again. However… if Leona did decide she wanted kids with whoever, I’m sure she’s enterprising enough (and perhaps just impractical enough) to engineer a situation in which she could indeed have the best of both worlds. Not suggesting that she takes a baby on a warship (no one is that impractical!), but who knows, if it’s peaceful times and decent weather and not too many pirates about, maybe Leona Jr. can tag along on an economic or exploratory trip. If nothing else, the crew’s reaction could make for an interesting post. πŸ˜‰

        That, and Leona doesn’t strike me as the type to want a ton of kids, even if she does end up wanting one or two, or the type be absolutely careless about reproduction (nor, for that matter, does Elyan, despite what he may think he thinks about ideal offspring numbers at this point), so I don’t see her hesitating to make the trip up to Morgan’s if she decided to take some precautionary measures. Or hell, even her own mother; her parents are at it like rabbits and only got pregnant twice, so they must be doing something right.

        That, and there are plenty of military women today who do have families back home, just like there are military men in the same position. If the passion is there, there are ways to be found. That said, kids aren’t for everyone, and if Leona decides she absolutely does not want any ever, that’s cool too. πŸ™‚

      • I’m sure you can find other sims Leona can make pretty babies with, if she absolutely wants babies. I’ll make you a new sim if that’s what it’ll take! πŸ˜› You could always say he’s a foreigner she picked up on her travels.

  4. Well, maybe Elyan will be thinking even more about Bors’ life view and how ridiculous it is. As for him and Leona… well, I’ll watch with interest, because it looks like he probably will come to view her in a much more favourable way, but even if/when he does, whether Leona will agree (although she did seem to see it as her ‘duty’, didn’t she, and was kind of unsure about romance without Elyan there to hate/pity). So we’ll see. But I hope for his sake that Elyan shapes up.

    Anyway, I’m back at uni now and am meant to be revising hard for the exams that are gonna arrive in three weeks, so commenting may slow. However, I’ve just spotted the ‘like’ button on here so if I can’t comment but have read I’ll try to remember to click that – I’m not sure if you can see it though?

    And wow, Lady Clemencia really is quite stupid. Still, at least she accepts it, I suppose? I mean, she doesn’t seem unhappy being at that level.

    Emma πŸ™‚

  5. …why does Elyan like Leona? After all the girls his father’s picked out for him, of course he’d start to realize that he’d like someone who’s intelligent, but why would that be Leona? I mean, have they ever had a conversation? (And the ones where she’s pushed him into fountains or yelled at him for being a jerk don’t count! An actual conversation, like about navigation or history or something smart that they’re both interested in.) It seems like he should be trying to find a girl who’s as intelligent as Leona, but not quite as “temperamental” – I really hope they don’t end up back together.

    My vote is for Leona to have a caller at every port, like a real sailor!

  6. You know, I bet Elyan is wondering the same thing. His mind surely tells him they are not well matched. In fact he is trying desperately not to realize that he has feelings for her.

    I think Elyan both admires and hates some of her traits. Like he really hates that she will say her opposing opinion at the worst possible moment even to his father, right in front of him. It humiliates him and then later his father will blame it all on him for not “controlling her”. (Which is surely why Elyan is so “fun” to be around.) At the same time…he admires her for it. He knows that if Leona thinks something is wrong she will openly oppose it and try to do something about it even if the odds are against her. It’s a lot like a knight’s code of honor. Also if they were married and she sees him being in the right about something, she would support him and help him regardless of the costs.

    Oh damn. Now I can see another possible scenario. Elyan and Leona get married and by some wonderful miracle they learn how to work together instead of against each other. Then the couple is in a delicate situation. Some truly dangerous and vicious says something horrible to Elyan, in front of Leona. She blows up. Worrying for her very life Elyan tries to hush her up. This of course makes her even more mad. She gets worse with every “hush!” Then, disaster.

    By the way, many of the pics crack me up in this chapter. Olyver looks like the protective escort in places.

    I also had to respect Elyan a little for not wanting to kiss the hand of this woman. Even if they don’t get together I admire that he has feelings for Leona.

    Oh and one more thing…no really! I think Elyan will make a better man than Bors. More and more in his own mind he is giving himself permission to see his father’s words and actions (parenting, financial, wives, how to treat women) as not the best way. Even if he does feel guilty for not giving his father the proper respect, even if it is just his thoughts. That’s why I have hope for him. He’s starting to see through the cloth over his eyes.

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