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Arriving at the Tower - Noble Brat (pt. I)
Fri Dec 1, 2006 09:15 (XFF:

“A daughter?” The rasp held an unmistakable feminine quality as a crease appeared on the smooth forehead, hazel eyes still glazed over in pain staring at the pinched face of the squalling newborn. Lady Amerlis Saighan could scarcely believe it and the glare she directed at her sweating, nervous midwives clearly illustrated her displeasure. All that effort…all of that agony…wasted. And for what? This little screaming thing? Surely these common born idiots were mistaken. “Check…again!” That was forced out past gritted teeth as another fresh wave of pain assailed her.

Lord Kavin Saighan remained curiously silent. He remained at his vantage point near the open door, arms folded across his chest. Restless fingers plucked absently at the vertical stripes that ended just below his stomach. One did not need to see the slashes of colour to know his rank; it fairly oozed from the man. He idly traced out the scene before him, languid chocolate eyes meandering about the room with an unnatural sort of curiosity. Amerlis knew he watched and waited to see what she would do. He was quite familiar with her desire for another boy, a fifth son to strengthen their hand in Daes Dae’mar. Sons were infinitely easier to maneuver within the Great Game than daughters.

Amerlis would know.

“I…I…” The eldest of the midwives took a deep breath before speaking again. “There is no mistake, my Lady. You have a daughter.”

Wordless, Amerlis stared long and hard at the child, ignoring Kavin’s soft chuckle. Inwardly, she spared him a murderous thought or two before she pushed him completely out of her mind. Perhaps this would not be a total loss… The babe was healthy, that much was obvious from the ongoing, indignant screeching. Why was it that so small a thing could make such a hideous noise? The wide, unseeing eyes were a curious shade of golden-hazel, reminding Amerlis immediately of swirled, pale honey. The soft patch of fuzz that crowed the tiny head was dark, and Amerlis did not doubt that this – her daughter, she corrected herself quickly – would have the same raven hair that Kavin did. Her mind slowly began speculating as the pain began to ebb, leaving her body quavering and disgustingly weak.

“How beautiful do you think she will become?” Blunt. Straight to the point.

“Beautiful enough to attract an array of suitors, my Lady.” Amerlis stopped listening after that initial statement, though she heard what they did not say. It was still too early to say. Who knew how the child would ultimately turn out? But whatever the midwives thought of her question, it did not show in their eyes, their faces and their discussing voices carefully neutral. Amerlis repressed a little snort. These common born fools were not as foolish as she had thought.

“Clean her. I wish to rest now.”

Their murmurs of compliance were like a soothing balm to Amerlis. She sensed rather than saw Kavin chuckled softly again before slowly turning and exiting the room. Light help her, but he had gotten what he wanted. While he had expressed his wishes for a daughter, he had never really pressed… It was obvious to her that he was pleased. He did not understand that daughters did not make malleable pawns like sons did. This girl was a risk…a very large risk to their place within House Saighan. But even Amerlis had to acknowledge, however reluctantly, that risks and chances had to be taken in the Great Game. Only time would tell what rewards she would reap from her gamble. She would wait, but nothing said she had to participate in her daughter’s raising. She’d had enough trouble raising her sons.

A hesitant, quiet voice broke into her thoughts and Amerlis clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth in annoyance. “My Lady, have you thought of a name for her?”


“Diyari Jahdiel Saighan, what under the Light have you done to yourself?!”

Melina watched with a mixture of dismay and amusement as the eight year old child fought against the twitch of her lips, the expression threatening to split the little face in half. “Oh child, you’ve given me another grey hair…” that was spoken with a resigned sigh, the middle aged woman assigned as this little handful’s lead caregiver shaking her head. “Look at what you’ve done to your pretty dress!” Not to mention what the child had done to herself. What suspiciously looked like dirt was smudged all over her chin, smearing up one cheek before fading away. Small fingers bore several raw looking places, once perfectly manicured fingernails dirty with grime stuck beneath them. The braid that had held raven hair in place mere hours ago was disheveled, entire sections of loose hair hanging around Diyari’s face and shoulders. Creator give me patience…

“Oh Melina, it’s just a dress!” Diyari smiled disarmingly, completely oblivious to the mangled remains of what was once a skirt. The older woman had to clamp down on her emotions to keep the returning smile from appearing on her mouth. Light bless the girl, but she had a way about her. Melina had to concentrate to bring back the mild outrage and disapproval as she shook her head over the waste of such fine lavender silk. Practicality dictated that children should not be dressed in finery, but when had wealthy nobles ever followed practicality? This child especially, Melina could not help but think as she eyed Diyari. Even the girl’s matching blouse bore rips and tears, the seams at the shoulders suspiciously stretched out. Some had even snapped. Melina narrowed her eyes.

“Show me your knees,” she said slowly, unnecessarily, hands going to ample hips.

Sparkling golden-hazel eyes suddenly dropped, Diyari unable to hide the telltale flush of guilt that rose in her cheeks from Melina’s sharp eyes. “My…knees?” The girl echoed faintly, her hands going to clasp behind her back as she began to fidget. Dear child… Melina thought with a fond, inward smile before clearing her throat, replacing the budding smile with a rather convincing frown.

“Knees.” She ordered, the tone in her voice brooking no room for argument. A moment of hesitation before the girl obviously thought better of it. Obediently, Diyari unclasped her hands, yanking the tattered remains of fine lavender silk above bony knees. “I knew it!” She had to keep herself from chuckling as Diyari’s head drooped even lower at the evidence of skinned knees and bruised shins. “You’ve been climbing trees again!”

“Yes,” the child answered meekly, a tumble of raven hair falling over her shoulder as she let the torn silk fall back down. Her shoulders hunched unconsciously, like she was preparing to have a bucket full of ice cold water dumped down onto her head. “My brothers do it!” she replied with all of the sulky defiance her eight year old body could muster. Suddenly, her head whipped up, honey orbs perfectly wide. The little mouth worked for a moment before Diyari managed to speak, her voice a frightened squeak. “You won’t tell the Lady, will you?”

Melina’s mirth fled as quickly as it had come at the way Diyari had addressed her own mother. Her heart sank as she noted that the girl saw nothing wrong with it. It’s not your fault, dear girl. She shook her head, her expression unusually sober. “I will not tell your mother.”

Instantly relieved, Diyari smiled up at Melina with bright honey eyes, not the least perturbed that her most devoted nanny did not smile back.

“Come, we’d better get you changed and tidied up before your lessons with Master Elid.” Melina spoke brusquely, needing the change of subject to keep her away from dangerous thoughts. Who was she to tell a noble lady of Cairhien how to raise her daughter? Nobody, that’s who. she mentally scolded herself. What the nobles do is their own business. You were brought on to help keep the girl out of the Lady’s way and that’s what you’re going to do.

“But he’s boring and –”

“Be glad he’s also patient with you, girl. You’re as prickly as a thorn and you hold his lessons about as well as a water bucket with no bottom.”

“But…but!!” Without regard to Diyari’s shrill protests about Master Elid and boredom, Melina hauled the dress off the girl, sternly ushering her towards the bath in the next set of rooms.

“I can do it by myself,” the naked eight year old indignantly protested, baleful honey eyes peeking up at Melina through a thatch of unruly raven hair as the older woman undid the poor braid.

Melina hesitated a moment before relenting. “Alright.” The pout immediately disappeared from Diyari’s face. “But you will leave the door open so I can hear you. And if you don’t get rid of all of that dirt, you’re going to have to take another bath.” The girl’s face fell at that before twisting into an expression of adorable determination. Diyari marched into the bathing room as if she was ready to take on an entire army. “Don’t forget to scrub out that dirt under your nails!” Melina called after her, hovering near the door for when the child needed her.

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