Nothing Dearer than a Daughter

Radenth 21, 1013

“Dance with me, Uncle Lamorak!” cried Nimue.

Pellinore could not see his son’s face, but he could imagine the smile as Lamorak raised his hands. “Of course, sweet pea.”

Pellinore chuckled under his breath. He exchanged a glance with Eilwen, and knew that she was thinking the same thing: heaven help Lamorak if Garnet’s baby was a girl. If he turned into this big a pile of mush over a niece, he would be doomed with a daughter.

“Why do you call me ‘sweet pea’?” asked Nimue. “Is it ’cause of my dress?”

“You do wear a lot of green …”

“But your doublet is more pea-green than mine!”

Lamorak chuckled. “That’s true. Maybe you should be calling me sweet pea!”

“Uncle Sweet Pea!”

Eilwen laughed, softly enough that neither Lamorak nor Nimue would hear — not with all the other activity in the room. “Well. She is seven years old today. About time for her to be showing some cheek.”

Past time,” Pellinore agreed. “Although I must protest that our Nimue was cheeky from the day she was born.” Adorably cheeky — a man was entitled to think that about his first and thus far only granddaughter — but cheeky all the same.

Part of him still couldn’t quite believe that seven full years had passed. He still remembered the day she had been born — well, he hoped he did, to do anything else would mean the approach of a particularly cruel senility. But he remembered being allowed to hold her for the first time. It wasn’t like holding your own first child. Pellinore was an old hand at babies, even ones a lot smaller than Nimue had been, given how little Delyth had been when she was born and Dilys too. There had been none of that nervousness.

But there had been the wonder, perhaps an even greater wonder than with your own child. When you held your own child, especially the first, you were amazed that you, pitiful you, could have possibly had a hand in creating something so fragile and so perfect at once. When you held your own grandchild, there was still that wonder, mixed with a greater wonder: that the good Lord had shown you, pitiful you, enough favor to live to see this day and hold this little miracle.

And then, of course, once you had your fill of looking at the baby, you looked at the parent — Dindrane, in this case. Dindrane had been still in bed, exhausted, dark circles under her eyes. But she’d been watching the baby with the anxiety only new parenthood could bring. And then she saw Pellinore watching her — and she had grinned. Pellinore had known then that it didn’t matter that he practically wrote most of the statutes of Albion himself, or that he’d been Chief Justiciar for almost twenty years, or that he and his office had turned a lawless hinterland into a well-run, safe country. This was his proudest moment.

He hoped Dindrane would get that  kind of proud moment soon — well, not too soon — but some sort of realization that despite all her troubles, she was doing a wonderful job with her children. She still cast that anxious, worrying look at Nimue, at Gawaine, and at Gareth far too often for Pellinore’s taste.

She ought to be enjoying herself today … for as long as possible, anyway. Since it was Nimue’s birthday, Mordred would be coming to the celebration. There was no keeping him away, and Pellinore ought to feel guilty for wishing he could. Yes, yes, children ought to have both father and mother — but he and Lamorak and Aglovale when he came home from Camford at the end of next month ought to be plenty of healthy male role models for Nimue, Gawaine, and Gareth.

Just look at the boys! They were young, but any fool could see that both of them were far more Gwynedd than Orkney — and a good thing, too. Garnet was the only jewel to have come out of that family. Well, and possibly Agravaine. He was so young — it wouldn’t be right to judge.

Gawaine was talking with Dilys now, earnestly detailing the latest of his exploits with his friends. “An’ then Lionel and I decided we were going to play dragons. Auntie Dilys, did you and Auntie Delyth ever play dragons when you were little?”

“All the time,” chuckled Dilys. “I’d be the princess who needed rescuing, and Auntie Delyth would be the knight.”

“But — but who would be the dragon, then?” asked Gawaine, head tilted to one side.

Dilys giggled. “Well … usually your Uncle Lamorak …”

Eilwen laughed below her breath, and Pellinore shot her a smile. They remembered the same thing: how Lamorak, despite being an adolescent, despite being far too old for childish games, despite the fact that his friends would never let him forget it if they found out, generally dropped all those protests if Dilys looked up at him with quivering lips and tear-filled eyes and squeaked, “Please?” He made quite a good dragon, too. Sometimes, when he’d roar, the dog would go running to hide under the bed or the couch.

“But if your Uncle Lamorak was busy,” Dilys continued, “Auntie Delyth would usually get Charity to be the dragon.” Dilys frowned. “But it did … spoil the illusion when Charity would start to lick Delyth’s face. Or mine.”

Gawaine gasped. “We get Bleoberis to be our dragon! Lionel’s dog! ‘Cause–”

Knock-knock.

It was a soft, utterly polite knock. But a pall fell over the party anyway. Gawaine looked at Pellinore. “Is that — Father?”

Dindrane answered. “Probably. I’ll get it. Best …” She didn’t finish. Pellinore watched her anxiously as she twitched her shoulders and hurried to the front door. It also did not escape his notice that he was not the only one watching her.

Still less did it escape his notice that when Dindrane pulled the door open, it was discovered that Mordred was not alone.

“My apologies for lateness,” said Mordred. “But I’m sure you can appreciate the difficulties of traveling with four children in tow. Children — greet Lady Dindrane.”

“Hello, Lady Dindrane.” That was Agravaine. Good that he spoke first — as far as Pellinore was concerned, he was the only one of them with half a right to be here. The rest of the children added their greetings in turn.

That bastard dared — he dared bring his other children anywhere near this place —

“Lou! Han!” cried Nimue, skipping up to the door. “Father, I didn’t know you were–”

Nimue stopped. Pellinore could not see why. But he could see the way Dindrane’s hand came down to rest on Nimue’s shoulder. And he could see just how stiff and shocked his little granddaughter’s spine had grown.

He also saw the way the only girl in Mordred’s group was looking directly at Nimue. And he saw the way that Mordred was playing with that girl’s hair — just as Pellinore had stroked the hair of Dindrane, of Dilys, of Delyth time after time. Just as Pellinore liked to stroke Nimue’s hair.

Just as Pellinore had never seen Mordred stroke Nimue’s hair.

Nimue turned away without a further word and walked back to Lamorak. “Uncle Lamorak … will you dance with me again? Please?”

“Nimue–” Mordred started, stepping into the house. But Dindrane waylaid him and hurried him to the side.

In the meantime, the children piled into the already-crowded room. Gawaine went skipping off to Agravaine. Gareth watched the bigger boys with huge eyes. And the lone little girl, Mordred’s other daughter …

She kept watching Nimue with a huge and hopeful smile.

“Oh my –” Eilwen murmured. She turned away, one hand pressed against her mouth. “My goodness,” she gasped.

Dilys moved to stand up. Pellinore laid a hand on her knee. “Stay here.”

“Papa …” Dilys looked again at the other girl. “She’s just a little girl. The boys can play with each other, and Gawaine’s got Agravaine, but …”

“Nimue is just a little girl, too,” Pellinore replied. And if anyone was going to taking the other little girl in hand, it ought to be Garnet. Garnet was her aunt, and as little as Pellinore liked the idea of anybody from his family having anything to do with that family … he couldn’t begrudge any children, even these, from the attention of their own blood relatives.

But Garnet looked to be of little help. She was still seated at the Mah-Jong table, her jaw fallen, staring at Mordred with an expression that could only read, What the HELL were you thinking?

And as Garnet stared, the little girl tilted her head to one side, marched up to Nimue with a stride only an utterly fearless small child could muster, and tapped her on the shoulder. Nimue dropped Lamorak’s hands and spun to face her.

The little girl ducked her head. “My papa says it’s your birthday.”

Nimue blinked. “It is.”

The little girl grinned. “Happy birthday!”

Nimue didn’t answer — not until Lamorak tapped her shoulder. “Thank you.”

“You’re seven, right? Just like Melehan and Melou?” The little girl rocked on her heels, grinning at Nimue.

“Yes.”

“But they’re older.”

“Yes.”

“Do you like dolls?” the little girl went on. “Papa let me bring my dollie. Her name’s Sarah. Mama sewed her for me, and she’s gonna teach me how to make pretty dresses for her. Because Mama’s going to run a dress shop, did you know?” The little girl kept grinning. “What’s your dollie’s name?”

“I don’t like to play with dolls.”

That, Pellinore knew, was patently untrue — or at least, he hoped it was. Part one of Nimue’s birthday present had been the dress she was now wearing. Part two, to be given to her after dinner and cake were served, was to be an exact copy of that dress in doll-size.

But even though that was almost certainly a lie … Pellinore would not reprimand her for it. Perhaps one was never too young to learn that while lying was bad, there were times when it was less hurtful than the truth. I don’t want to play dolls with you was certainly a sentiment hurtful enough to justify a little lying.

“Oh …” The little girl cocked her head to the side. “What do you like to play?”

“With the boys,” Nimue snarled.

Unfortunately, the boys with whom Nimue might want to play — the boys that were probably Mordred’s excuse for bringing all of his other children to invade Nimue’s party — were now more than a little occupied.

“Papa,” Dilys whispered, “please just let me –”

“No.”

“Mama!” Dilys hissed. Pellinore blinked. Trying to divide and conquer was generally not Dilys’s style. That was one of Delyth’s favorite ploys. If she truly felt this strongly …

But Eilwen never got a chance to take Dilys’s side, or take Pellinore’s, because Mordred took that moment to wave aside Dindrane’s concerns, walk away …

And take a seat by them. “Good morrow,” he said, very politely, given the circumstances.

Eilwen took up the banner of politeness. “Good day, Sir Mordred. I trust you’re well?”

Pellinore … ignored it all. He looked to Dindrane …

Lamorak was already there. Good.

And Mordred’s other daughter was still — there was no other word for it — bothering Nimue. Blast. Pellinore had no idea how to stop that. Other than let Dilys have her way and distract the little girl, which would never do. Perhaps Garnet …

“No, I don’t want to play skipping-rope,” Nimue snarled, and Pellinore’s gaze snapped back to his granddaughter.

“But why not?” asked the other little girl. Her jaw was almost quivering. If she was any other little girl, Pellinore would have felt sorry for her.

… Maybe he felt a little pity for her anyway. But not too much. Not as much as he felt for Nimue.

“We’re sisters, right?” continued the little girl. “That’s what Papa–”

“No!” Nimue shouted. “I don’t care! Leave me alone!”

“Nimue!” snapped Mordred. “Come here!” And, then, more gently. “You too, Aimée-angel.”

Pellinore thought he had never been closer to throttling another Sim than he was in that moment.

Nimue marched over, shoulders slumped. “Father …”

“Is that how you treat your sister? Your only sister?” Mordred asked.

Nimue winced. “I don’t …”

“You don’t what?” asked Mordred in that tone parents always employed when they knew precisely what the answer to their question would be, knew they wouldn’t like it, and needed to hear it anyway.

“Sir Mordred–” Eilwen tried to intervene.

“I will thank you to not interfere with the raising of my children, madam, as I have never interfered with the raising of yours,” snapped Mordred. “Now. Nimue. You don’t … what?”

Nimue’s head snapped up, and something in her posture — Pellinore could imagine that her eyes were blazing, just as Dindrane’s did whenever she perceived that she was suffering an injustice. “I don’t want a sister!”

“What?” gasped Aimée, staring first at Nimue and then at her father in disbelief.

“It’s all right, Aimée-angel, Nimue will be apologizing shortly.” Mordred cast an expectant glance on Nimue.

Nimue stomped her foot. “No!”

“Nimue–”

“No! I’m not sorry! And I won’t be! And you can’t make me!” Stomp, stomp, stomp. It was almost too bad she was standing on carpet. Those stomps should have rang out across the kingdom, or at least loud enough to penetrate that man’s thick skull.

Mordred started to snarl. “Nimue …”

“Mordred! Leave her be!”

And there went any chance for Mordred to win this argument. It would never happen when Dindrane was arrayed against him. He might be able to make Nimue behave as he wished, grudgingly, in his presence — but her heart? That was lost.

“Dindrane,” Mordred rolled his eyes, “you will continue to poison my children’s minds against me when I am not around to defend myself, but while I am here –”

“You dare, sir!” Pellinore shouted. He was almost on his feet, but Dilys grabbed his arm.

The look Mordred turned to him … Pellinore’s heart leapt into his throat. He’d never seen such hatred on another Sim’s face.

In a flash it was gone, leaving Pellinore wondering later if he had imagined it.

And Garnet decided to step in.

“For heaven’s sake!” She flung her tiles to the board and tried to leap to her feet — not easy with her girth. “Like you, Mordred, have any right to lecture anyone on how to treat their sister!” Then she looked at Aimée, and her voice was much more gentle. “I’ll play dolls with you, Aimée. I know Nimue has some upstairs, because people insist on giving them to her.” She winked at Nimue — Pellinore hoped that Aimée didn’t notice. “She’ll let us play with them, won’t you, Nimue?”

“Aye–aye.” Nimue was a sharp girl. She knew her best chance to get out of trouble when she saw it. “I’ll–I’ll show you.” Then she darted upstairs, leaving Aimée to follow and Garnet to waddle behind.

“Who — who are you?” asked Aimée of Garnet as they headed up the stairs.

“I’m your Aunt Garnet.”

“I have another aunt?”

Good Lord, Pellinore thought. Could this possibly get any worse?

They were scarcely gone for a moment before Dindrane murmured, “I’d best go check on them.” She, too, disappeared upstairs.

And she was barely gone for half a moment before Sister Margery pushed back her chair, stood, and hurried to the stairs without a word.

Pellinore watched her go. And so did Mordred.

“Papa …” Dilys murmured as soon as Sister Margery, too, was gone. Pellinore wrapped an arm around her shoulder without a word, and Dilys leaned next to him. At least he could be strong enough for one of his daughters.

The rest of them sat in awkward silence — except for the boys, still running around and laughing, even Gareth trying to join in on the fun and chase Gawaine and Agravaine. It was the sort of silence that happened when a thunderstorm had blown over, but the air was still heavy, the sky still yellow. The storm wasn’t over. It was just taking a break.

Only a few minutes passed before Nimue tore down the stairs. “Come on, Lou, Han!” she called out, dashing for the door. “Let’s go play on the swings!” The boys needed no persuasion to run after her.

The door slammed shut. Other than the boys, nobody said anything.

And then Eilwen pronounced judgement. “Pellinore. Go up there.”

Pellinore nodded, unwrapped his arm from Dilys, and strode to the stairs.

He could hear Mordred’s sigh. “For the love of the Lord–”

“There are times,” Eilwen interrupted — Pellinore turned back to see her toss Mordred the most withering glance Pellinore had ever seen from her — “when a girl needs her father. No–her papa. And if you could grow to truly understand that, Sir Mordred, then I think your daughters would get along much better.”

Hear, hear.

Pellinore marched up the stairs. It did not take long to find Dindrane. Her bedroom was the first door off the stairs …

And no father worth his salt couldn’t pick out the sound of his child crying from that of a hundred others. A mere door was nothing compared to that.

He opened it without a word and slipped inside. Good–at least Dindrane wasn’t alone.

“What am I going to do?” Dindrane murmured to Sister Margery. “If Garnet hadn’t stepped in …”

“She did, though. And you know she cares about you. And Nimue. And–and Aimée too. She’ll help you. She’ll help all of you.”

“It’s not her responsibility …”

“Hang responsibility,” replied Pellinore. Both women turned to him with a gasp. “When one is confronted with as big a mess as … Sir Mordred has made, then all must do their part to clean it up, whether we made it or no.”

Then he closed the door behind him. “Dindrane, is there anything I can do to help?”

“I …” The look that she turned to him was so beseeching that Pellinore did the only thing he could think at the time: walk closer and embrace her.

Dindrane fell into his arms, trembling. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Don’t worry. You have us — all of us — to help you.”

“You have been helping me … but Nimue … and someday soon, Gawaine and Gareth … what if there’s nothing we can do, Papa?”

Pellinore couldn’t answer that. But he could hug his daughter more tightly.

And with all his heart and all his might, he could pray that she was wrong.

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22 thoughts on “Nothing Dearer than a Daughter

  1. Gah! You. Stupid. Fuck. God, Mordred, if someone hung you up by your balls and beat you with a clue bat, candy’d poor out of your skull before it’d help you. You… I can’t even. I have absolutely no words to describe the depths of your utter stupidity and callousness. Isn’t it bad enough he loves them better? But to have it rubbed in her face, on her birthday. What in god’s name did you hope to accomplish by this, sir?

    Even José was never that fucking stupid. And that’s setting the bar so low an anorexic limbo champion would have a hard time going under it. I. Just. Can’t. with him anymore. I hope that Nimue gets a chance to lay into Mordred. Even though I’m sure that he’d just put it down to being “poisoned” by Dindrane. Why does Dindrane have to poison Nimue’s heart against him, when Mordred’s doing a bang up job of that all. on. his. own.

    Poor Nimue. That poor girl. I’m just going to be wary any time I see a girl with hair like Nimue’s, because her life is gonna fucking suck at times. (Or in Nimue’s case most of the time, except when her father hopefully soon meets his end. Hopefully painfully.) I mean it’s Leah’s hair too, and she’s got a pretty hard row to hoe.

    But at least she looks really pretty in her new dress. And I hope to god that Pellinore and Lamorak can make it up to Nimue later.

    PS. I’m seriously so mad I’m crying right now.

    • Mordred hoped mostly to piss Dindrane off, and to cement the bonds between his legitimate kids and his illegitimate ones. And the sad thing? If he’d just brought the twins (and Agravaine, who nobody minded having there), and not Aimée … it would have worked.

      Nimue would have been thrilled to see Lou and Han there. Her best friends come to see her on her birthday! They would have had a ball. It’s Aimée who (innocently) threw a wrench in the works. Aimée being super thrilled to have a big sister … and not understanding why Nimue wouldn’t be super thrilled to have a little sister. (Which … she’s four. And Nimue’s only seven. They really aren’t going to be understanding each other very well at this point, I don’t think, especially since they aren’t used to each other.)

      And I think Mordred has a MASSIVE blind spot when it comes to his own treatment of his kids. As with all the rest of his faults …

      Pellinore and Lamorak will make it up to Nimue later. Nimue will definitely love that doll’s dress. 🙂

      Thanks, Andavri!

  2. …you know, maybe this is why I have that random swollen eyelid right now. My body was anticipating the shock of that picture with Rosette’s kids at Dindrane’s door and swelled up the lid so my eyeball wouldn’t pop right out of its socket. 😯

    I hate that the poor kids are going to be made out to feel vilified (poor Aimee! I hope she and Nimue make up at some point, though this is NOT the appropriate venue for that; maybe Sister Margery can have separate talks with them at school? She knows Dindrane well enough to know what to say to Nimue, and fuck what Mordred thinks), but this was a dick move on Mordred’s part. DICK. MOVE. The only reason he could possibly have for bringing any of his kids with Rosette to a party full of Gwynedds is to spite Dindrane and Pellinore and Lamorak. As usual, he didn’t think about what his doting over Rosette’s kids would mean for Dindrane’s kids. Hell, he’s not even being fair to his preferred family here! He’s just using them in an attempt to push Dindrane’s limits. What load of crap did he have to feed Rosette so she’d let him bring them?

    I hope Mordred gets the tongue-lashing of a lifetime from Eilwen–not that it would do him any good at all, since the only adult he even thinks he respects (and I still think he doesn’t, since he treats her like a toddler) is so far in denial she can taste the salty waters of the Mediterranean. Maybe Garnet will make slightly more of an impact when she gets Mordred in a kid-free environment, but someone needs to distract Aimee, and like Mordred listens to any sibling of his with the gall to not co-chair the Morgause Fan Club. I can see the twins making their own brands of effort, but those will no doubt fall on deaf ears as well.

    You know who I wish was here? Aglovale. He’s made of sterner stuff than Lamorak, plus he’s probably been biding a lot of frustration since marrying Babette. A too-big-for-his-britches Mordred who ruined his niece’s birthday party would have been the perfect outlet. Pellinore might have even let him stab the douche. And why not? He is the law.

    I wonder if there’s any way Dindrane could… attempt to limit Mordred. I mean, she probably can’t get a full-on restraining order against him (or, more like, she could never get one to force him away from the kids in this day and age, and if the kids have to see him, I know she’d rather be around to keep him in line), but maybe some sort of conditional visitation deal. Or at least a document barring him from her property. Not that Mordred respects the law any more than anything else.

    • Oh man, I thought a nice long shower would take my mind off this post, but it didn’t. I have to add that I hope that Garnet and Aimee hit it off, and that maybe Garnet will visit Aimee and her siblings in the future (er, at Rosette’s house; not at the Gwynedd Keep). I’m thinking Garnet could be the person to cast Dindrane in a more sympathetic light for them, and to explain Nimue’s (and her brothers’?) feelings in a way that doesn’t immediately paint Mordred as evil and therefore stop them from listening right off the bat. But who knows, maybe Mordred will tell Rosette to ban Garnet from her house if she has a black-haired, green-eyed daughter and names her anything but Morgause (yes, it all keeps coming back to Morgause; nature plus nurture is a bitch sometimes, eh, Mordred?). If Rosette has another daughter, I hope he at least has the decency to let her use “Cerise”.

      Also… I don’t think I can ship Frandred any more. Frankly, a scheming, pompous idiot who makes a sport of offing his half-brothers and who is dumb enough to willingly and publicly take the blame for a political assassination he had nothing to do with is much too good for Mordred. Maybe Mordred can have a four-way of stupid with Bors, Tuck, and the ghost of Mommy Dearest.

      Also, now that the shock of “WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU DO THAT?!” has warn off, I think the most surprising thing about Mordred’s behaviour here is that he apparently knows Nimue’s birthdate.

    • Yikes! I didn’t think this one would strike that much of a chord … although I guess now you know how I feel whenever Ietrin and poor, poor Jeda (who deserves SO MUCH BETTER) end up in a post together?

      Maybe we should trade Sims into each others’ games. You get Mordred, I get Ietrin, we both get to torture the other to our hearts’ content.

      I think, however, Mordred was able to convince Rosette to go along by pointing out that Nimue would be thrilled to see her brothers. (And she would have been, if Aimée wasn’t there to strip away Nimue’s last defense of why her father doesn’t like her as much: saying it’s because she’s a girl and the boys are, um, boys.) And I’m sure Mordred told the kids all about the cake, and the presents, and the toys, and the nice dog who would be wagging her tail at them and licking their faces … which, let’s face it, he may have been right about the dog, since I can’t imagine Dindrane having a dog in the house who didn’t like kids. He probably got the kids so worked up that Rosette couldn’t say no without being the bad guy.

      As for Dindrane being able to keep Mordred away from her house … I don’t know if she’ll be able to do that. Her best way of succeeding would be to get Morgan to set up some kinds of wards around the property. (Since Mordred wouldn’t respect the law, why not just not use the law?) Which … if things get much worse, she might just consider that.

      So … yeah. Fun times all around.

      Thanks, Van!

  3. … He’s still setting his affairs in order, only this time he’s trying to see to it that all his kids get along. That’s why he brought Aimee, not just the boys. Nimue is friends with Melehan and Melou, so clearly Mordred hoped she’d hit it off with her sister, too. Pity the time to spring ‘here’s your half-sister’ on a girl is NOT on her seventh birthday, which is a day that is supposed to be all about HER and not anybody else, especially not another little girl.

    (I hope someone explains to Aimee that Nimue probably said she doesn’t want a sister because she doesn’t know what having a sister is like. You can’t know if you like a new food until you try it, but gosh some people can be awfully stubborn about not wanting to try things, can’t they, Aimee?)

    It’s just a pity that Mordred’s mental casting of the world includes making a seven-year-old girl into a rational and inherently selfless being (news flash: no, kids are still pretty self-centered at that age) and an estranged wife into a vicious shrew (news flash: not spinning things in your estranged husband’s favor doesn’t actually count as poisoning people’s minds against said estranged husband).

    I’m on the fence about this one in some ways. It’s sort of equal parts dumb move and fair move, and I can imagine his thought processes and exactly where he started to veer from fair (they should know each other and get along and love each other and not be enemies) to dumb (Nimue’s birthday is the perfect time to do this thing because I am expected and nobody will be rude enough to say boo and if Nimue will be happy to see her brothers, why, she’ll be delighted to meet her sister). I am all in favor of all Mordred’s kids being friends– it lessens the chance of any of them growing up to be supervillains– but that cunning that so often makes Mordred so darned entertaining just sort of… fell apart like a Lego Katamari.

    But that’s Mordred. Mordred thinks if the world is currently revolving around something else, he can make it revolve around him with the right application of charisma and magic. He always has.

    I am deeply disappointed in Pellinore. Dude, that is a little girl and an innocent in the whole Mordred/Dindrane mess. Aimee can’t help who her parents are, she certainly can’t help her father’s drama, and she absolutely can’t help that her father probably built the whole ‘meeting your half-sister’ thing up to be an awesome and momentous and wonderful occasion in Aimee’s life that would be all sunshine and rainbows and playing with pretty dollies. Pellinore only made it worse by not letting Dilys get up and defuse things between Aimee and Nimue.

    And if a defused explosion would’ve been playing into Mordred’s hands, so what? Do not punish little children for being used as pawns by their parents. Zombie cheeses, it’s not like understood the situation.

    Thank Wright for Garnet, not wanting to let Aimee feel like the unfavorite.

    • I never saw that episode of Mythbusters. Seems I missed a good one.

      Pellinore’s refusal to have anything to do with Aimée (or let Dilys have anything to do with her) was not one of his finer moments. But I have a hard time seeing him doing differently. His opinion of Mordred has soured so much that it’s gone out the other end, and that took his opinion of Mordred’s illegitimate kids with him. He definitely should have let Dilys step in before Aimée’s feelings got hurt and Nimue got humiliated by her father … but as far as Pellinore is concerned, those kids shouldn’t exist, and they certainly don’t deserve to be noticed by anyone in his family.

      He might have eaten those words, though, as soon as the party was over. *sigh*

      As for Mordred … yeah. Mordred. This hit him right in the blind spot. Like you said, he probably thought Nimue would be delighted to get closer to her sister. He certainly didn’t foresee this kind of jealousy (because I do think that’s a good part of what it is) on Nimue’s part. Somebody with that kind of cunning should really do better …

      But Mordred might not be able to. Because he expects the world and the people in it to be and act a certain way … and woe betide them when they don’t.

      Oh well. At least, as you said, there’s Garnet to start picking up the pieces. She can at least keep Aimée occupied for the party, and I don’t think it would take a lot for Aimée to start hero-worshiping pretty, young, sophisticated, glamorous Aunt Garnet. Hopefully Garnet will be willing to pursue the relationship … Aimée (and the boys) can use all the sane presences in their lives that they can get.

      Thanks, Hat. 🙂

      • I hope Pellinore did have to revise his sentiments. Those kids have every right to exist. Mordred’s the one who screwed up here, by breaking his Legitimate Kids Come First agreement with Dindrane. It isn’t the FitzOrk kids’ fault that papa’s life is divided into ‘world that must be faced with snark and bitter determination’ and ‘warm snuggly happy family locked up safe in a Rapunzel tower.’ I’ma say it’s Morgause’s fault.

        Oh, I’m sure plenty of it is jealousy, and the open affection Mordred shows Aimee– but there’s also just a sort of sense of injustice that doesn’t have anything to do with jealousy, when a parent (even a parent you don’t like) has an obvious favorite. … Especially when you’re the oldest.

        Luckily, Nimue is seven and Aimee is four. They have time to figure out a relationship, particularly since Nimue is already friends with Lou and Han.

        And? I don’t think Aimee and Garnet getting fond of each other throws any kind of wrench into Mordred’s long-term plans, either– that’s a noblewoman willing to step in for one of his children, should worse come to worst, and okay, so Garnet had a complicated relationship with Morgause and married someone Mordred is intensely less than fond of (now). She’ll still be the next Lady Gwynedd, and the next Lady Gwynedd is a powerful ally for Aimee to have. If Mordred isn’t considering the possibility of Aimee becoming a lady-in-waiting to Garnet once she’s the lady of the house, it’s probably only because there aren’t really a lot of ladies-in-waiting in Albion.

        (And if Aimee has to pick an aunt to idolize, it might as well be the dark-haired witch, right? You get that ‘oh my gosh, I could be like her someday!’ thing going on. It’s good for little girls to have role models with their coloring around; it makes them feel like it isn’t only blondes or redheads who get to be beautiful and glamorous and have adventures and romances.)

  4. I’m all teary eyed.

    I keep putting myself in Nimue and Aimee’s shoes. I feel so bad for both of them.

    Nimue gets along with her half brothers. But she was younger when she met them, and she was friends with them before she found out they have the same dad. It was almost like, oh neat, he’s my dad too. If she had met them through Mordred, she might not be so friendly with them.

    Nimue may not have know about Aimee…maybe she was briefly mentioned when Dindrane first talked to her about Mordred’s other kids…and maybe she remembers that. But on her birthday she gets to see her father loves Aimee more before he even walks in the door? I know she isn’t close to Mordred, but that must have broken her heart. How can she love someone associated with such pain?

    And poor Aimee! She has surely heard stories about Nimue from her brothers. She has probably been looking up to the sister she never met since she could barely put a sentence together. Surely her whole family, Mordred especially, has told her how much she is going to love her sister…and of course she will love you dear Aimee! It was probably her first party ever. And on this day she finds out the girl she most looks up to doesn’t want her for a sister.

    Mordred would have done better to intoduce the children early or not at all. Hat is right though. This is setting his affairs in order. It only looks incredibly stupid. It’s really rather crafty. I hate to admit it, but Mordred is not trying to cause his kids pain. He’s trying to make things as smooth as possible. It would not be in his best interests to do otherwise.

    If anyone can bridge this gap it’s Melehan and Melou. But that may take many years Largely because at first they will likely have zero interest in getting the girls to get along. They are older brothers – they’d much rather their little sister not interfere in playing with their friends.

    In the meantime I’ll just have to cry for the 2 little girls – who might never find anyting more than hurt by the mere sight of the other..

    • Nimue knows about Aimée: they both go to the school, now, and they’re still in the same class because things aren’t strictly divided up by grade level. And since she knows that Aimée is Melehan and Melou’s sister, she’s definitely put the pieces together. But Nimue has been studiously avoiding Aimée ever since Aimée started, and Sister Margery has been keeping them apart. (After all, there’s no hiding what side Sister Margery is on.)

      Mordred is definitely all in favor of all the kids getting along, and I think he especially wants Nimue and Aimée to get along — he’d also want all the boys to get along, too, but he’ll settle for an absence of hostilities there. With Nimue and Aimée, he sees (or saw) hope to get the whole brood together … but it may not be to be …

      Poor girls, like you said. They’re in for a world of hurt … a lot of it from each other, and I don’t think there’s much chance of that turning out otherwise, at least for now. :-S

      Thanks, Chicklet! 🙂

  5. What! The! HELL!! You complete and utter jerk, Mordred! How could you?! Did you not even try to think of what this would mean to your children? What it would mean to Nimue to spring this on her freaking BIRTHDAY?!
    Gah, let me at him! I don’t know what I would do but I want him to hurt. A lot! Andavri’s suggestion sounds very very good to me just now. A Mordred-pinata! Let’s call all the simselves and have a party! *evil laugh* I’m sure we’ll be able to think of more good ideas before we’re done with the first one.
    What really makes me mad is to see how differently Mordred treats his daughters in direct comparison. He is so clearly on Aimee’s side from the start that it really doesn’t matter what Nimue does or doesn’t do. She will always be the one at fault. 😦

    • If he was expecting an adverse reaction from anyone … it was Dindrane. And he was kind of looking forward to that. He’s an ass and I think he’s gone over the edge in some significant ways.

      … You know, I was going to put Mordred and Francis up on the Keep with Freddy, but the more and more I think about it, the less that seems like a good idea … 😉

      Although — if it would help y’all get your stress out with regarding Mordred, it would probably be a good thing!

      I know, it’s really sad how on Aimée’s side Mordred is. *sigh* Not that she did anything wrong … but Nimue didn’t do anything wrong, either.

      Thanks, Ann. 🙂

  6. How utterly awful for everyone involved. It’s just so incredibly sad. Mordred, no matter what his motives where, doesn’t matter. And in a way neither do any of the other adults – it’s a horrid situation and everyone has to deal with the fallout, as Pellinore pointed out, but the kids are the ones who won’t understand and who are being manipulated, and in particular for the girls it’s just so sad.

    I don’t think I can insult Mordred any better than any of the others above me so I’ll leave that for now. But seriously. What an idiot.

    Emma

    • It is very sad for the girls. And the boys, for all that they didn’t have a lot of drama at the moment. That might come more as they get older and get a clearer handle on all the heir/non-heir stuff.

      But yeah, the fallout from this … from the whole situation, it’s not going to be good. At all. There’s really no way around that.

      Thanks, Emma. 🙂

  7. Right, okay, that was…awkward.

    I hope Nimue and Aimee do actually become friends, though. They are sisters, after all, and they shouldn’t be deprived of that relationship just because their father is Mordred.

    • As someone who never had sisters but envied those who did (I only had a brother ^_^), I concur: it would be nice if they became friends. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I think Nimue sees Aimée as … almost a focal point for everything that’s wrong with her father. Or, if those are emotions a little too sophisticated for a seven-year-old to process, then I think whenever Nimue sees Aimée, she thinks one thing and one thing only:

      Why does Father love HER and not ME?

      Not exactly a strong foundation for a lovely relationship.

      But hey, both the kids are very young. Things can change. We can hope.

      Thanks, alveus!

  8. Hat I didn’t read your full comment last time. I’d like to reply about Pellinore’s reaction. I saw it in a different way.

    I completely agree Aimee is a little girl, innocent as well, etc.

    When Pellinore wouldn’t let Dillys run to the rescue I thought that it was for Nimue’s sake. So there won’t be any “thanks; you took my dad, now my aunt, who is next?”

    I figured that Pellinore wanted Mordred to see how bad an idea this was. Frankly so did I. The best chance that Mordred might aborb that hurt Nimue is to witness that hurt. Unfortunately he didn’t get it; just thought she was naughty.

    I thought that maybe Pellinore was letting Nimue get it all out. Dindrane keeps it all in more than is good for her. Perhpas it was a way to help her.

    Pellinore couldn’t make himself feel sorry for Aimee but he did pity her. I think he has some hurt wrapped around her like Nimue does. I’m certain staying out of it was about the best Pellinore could do.

    I love Garnet but she is a rather stuck up noble. When she didn’t get up for a long time I thought she found a mistress’s children beneath her notice. It seemed a little out of character for her to take Aimee under her wing and admit she is her aunt. I’m so glad she did. Perhaps her own childhood pain pushed her out of her chair.

    • I’m pretty solidly sure Pellinore was acting out of sheer passive aggression, but the trouble is, ‘you have made your shitstorm, Lord Orkney, and now you shall weather it’ doesn’t hurt Mordred. It hurts– hurt, actually– essentially everyone but Mordred, but especially Aimee and Nimue. I seriously doubt Pellinore was preventing Dilys from rescuing Aimee to protect Nimue. If protecting Nimue had occurred to him, he could’ve done that by making sure Nimue got rescued, and still stayed on his high horse about pretending the FitzOrk kids were invisible.

  9. Jeez, Mordred, try using your brain, maybe? I feel bad for Aimée though, none of this is her fault. Even if her dad does love her more than her sister. Still not her fault. (And Aimée looks so much like Mordred, wow!)

    he was the only one with of them –> I’d delete that with
    I don’t want to play dolls with youwas certainly –> missing space

    • Not at all poor Aimée’s fault — or Melehan’s fault, or Nimue’s fault, or Melou’s fault, or Gawaine or Gareth’s fault. Those kids all got screwed by the genetic lottery thanks to having Mordred as a parent. 😦

      She does look like him, doesn’t she? (If you only knew how many tries it took to get a black-haired girl out of Rosette …) Nimue looks like him, too. At least we know that Mordred’s genes translate well to girls!

      Thanks, Eva. 🙂

  10. Oh boy does this ever remind me of what I went through with my stepsister! Now I feel guilty for pretty much acting like Nimue most of the time, but my mother did essentially replace me and my brother with her step kids. We lived with our dad and Mom raised my step bro and sis and seemed to have more of a bond with them. It used to tick me off and I was so nasty to my stepsister too. Of course now we’re good friends, but growing up…you don’t get over that sort of jealousy easily. Not when you feel like your own parent loves you less. It’s a good thing that my mother and step dad didn’t have a kid together because I don’t think I would have taken that well.

    But yeah, I feel bad for Aimee and while I get where Nimue is coming from (and she’s only seven) she shouldn’t have been so mean. Aimee is four! On the other hand, so was my cousin when I tortured her at ten…I’m coming to the conclusion that kids are just MEAN! Still, poor little girl. So happy Garnet stepped in.

    And as for Mordred, I think he just shares the same brain as my mother, because she would totally pull a stunt like that. In his mind he probably thought Nimue would like having her sister and brothers at her party and Dindrane would look like the bad guy if she turned them away. And I don’t see him thinking that he did anything wrong.

    Overall it’s a very messy situation and even with my experience with something similar I still don’t know how they’ll fix it. Mostly Nimue is going to have to realize her father isn’t going to change. He will never understand. But that doesn’t mean she can’t accept her sister the same way she did her brothers. It’s not Aimee’s fault, and besides, Lou and Han should stick up for their baby sister, or at least try to help Nimue see reason.

  11. Oh, no he didn’t No, no, no he DIDN’T! Even Mordred can’t be so pig-headed as to bring his mistress’ children to his wife’s house. I just…I can’t even…..

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