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A Leap of Faith - Chapter 3

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October 1116 – September 1117

When I told Bran in October that I thought I was with child I think the whole household knew at the same time.  He let out a massive whoop, and swept me up in his arms – a little uncomfortable for me as I was sick and tender – but I was pleased that I had made him so happy and hopeful that this could be the turning point for us.

For a time he was the model husband - he fetched and carried for me, bade my ladies take good care of me, and could hardly have been more caring.  Despite the tiredness and the nausea, I think I had not been happier since our wedding.  We would soon have a child of our own to bind our marriage and hopefully it would prove to be the longed-for heir to Marley.  If anything was to bring us closer and cement our relationship, surely it would be this.

I sent word to Rheljan about the baby and received back a delighted and excited letter from my parents.  When Bran handed it to me I sensed the tell tale tingle of magic, and took it to open privately so that I could read the message of loving support in the seal.  

I tried to keep active, although I was largely confined to the manor and its immediate area.  Bran would not hear of me riding, or even travelling by litter or by carriage, for fear of hurting the baby.  I was frustrated by the restrictions, although I wouldn’t have dreamed of breaking them, and threw myself into managing the estate.  In truth I would not have travelled far over the winter anyway, but it meant that when Bran travelled to Rhemuth for Christmas court he went alone.  

When winter released its grip and the first signs of spring were peeking through, I could feel the first flutterings of life inside me.  Soon enough, my condition was clearly visible and I was being heartily kicked by the infant inside me.  At times my belly would bulge as cramped limbs tried to stretch, and this made Bran even more convinced I carried a boy.

“As active as that must mean a son, surely, Richenda?  A girl wouldn’t kick like that, would she?  It must be a boy, for certain.”

We had settled on Brendan for a boy’s name.  My own name was a blend of both my parents’ names and I had suggested Brendan as a combination of Bran’s and my own.  I knew by this stage that I did indeed carry a boy and Bran was reluctant to consider girls’ names, so insistent was he that we were to have a son, but to disguise my foreknowledge I got Bran to agree to my grandmother’s name of Ysabeau for a girl.

As the days passed my maid laced my dresses less and less tightly, until at last they strained at the seams.  When I reached that stage we slept apart, for I was restless at night, finding it hard to get comfortable and Bran, always a light sleeper, complained of the disturbance.  Brendan kicked a lot more at night than during the day, so I napped in the daytime, expecting to be kept awake at night.  I was happy with this arrangement, preferring to sleep alone than disturb Bran, and I found myself many nights sitting watching the fire in the next door bedchamber and feeling our child move inside me.  

As the time of my confinement approached, my mother came to stay in Marbury.  I was grateful that she was there, having no close female friends of my own in Marley.  

When my waters broke Bran summoned the midwife.  The chamber had been cleaned and prepared and we retired there to await the arrival of my child.  The curtains were closed and candles lit, and a fire was set even though the day was warm.  

The cramps started a couple of hours later, not too bad at first, then more strongly as the day wore on.  At first I walked up and down and cautiously tried to use my powers to relax myself to help with the discomfort, but soon I could not concentrate enough to do anything more than deep breathing, and before long even that was not enough.  I ended up kneeling on the floor by the hearth, wrapped in a sheet and rocking to relieve the pain.

Now I found a major benefit to having a Deryni mother.  No-one thought anything of it when she cradled me in her arms as the spasms hit me, each stronger than the one before, but she dulled the worst of it for me and helped calm me when I thought I couldn’t bear it any longer.  It was more than she had dared do in human company before, and I was thankful that it was something she could do with no outward show and minimal risk of exposure.  She rocked with me, murmuring encouragement and crooning to me as I whimpered with the pain.

As my labour progressed, my ladies muttered prayers for a swift and safe delivery, but still I laboured well into the night.  Just as the birds were awakening, and the sun was rising, the feeling changed and the midwife urged me to push my son into the world.  I cried out as he emerged, knowing that the end was near, but that I was desperately tired.

“It’s a boy, My Lady.”  The midwife wrapped a towel around my son and handed him to me.  He was a hearty healthy babe, and I marvelled at his tiny fingers and toes, before putting him to the breast where he nuzzled happily until my final pains came.  My mother came to my side and watched him, and the midwife satisfied herself that all was well and then went to find Bran, who was waiting outside for news.  The other ladies withdrew to give us some time together.  

“Ah, Richenda, he is perfect.  He looks just like you did.”  My mother’s eyes shone with tears as her grandson gripped her finger tightly.

“I hope he has brown eyes, like Bran’s.”  Brendan already had a smudge of red hair, like mine and my father’s, and I wanted Bran to see something of himself in the son he so desperately desired.

“Well, most babies start off with blue eyes, you know.  And with that colouring, it wouldn’t surprise me if they stayed that way.”

When Brendan had fed, the midwife gently took my son from me to bath and swaddle him.  The maids had brought in a tub and filled it with warm water – not too hot, for I was still faint.  My mother helped me bathe, washing the blood and the sweat away, and then gave me a mug of caudle to sustain me after labouring through the night.  She brushed out my hair and dressed me in a fresh night rail, ready for Bran to come in and see his son.

My mother and the ladies withdrew while Bran met our child.  He was dishevelled and had evidently spent the night in the adjoining room, alternately pacing and trying to sleep in an armchair, but his face glowed as he saw his son.  

“Richenda, it is a boy!  I was sure it would be!  Thank you, my darling.  He shall be called Brendan, as we agreed.  The next boy can be Ryan for my father, and the one after Richard, for yours.  What do you say to that?  Then both sides will be kept happy.”

 “Can I not have a daughter, my lord?  Must I only bear boys?”  I tried to keep my tone light and teasing, but I knew his views on the matter already.

“Women like little girls to dress up and teach pretty manners to, don’t they?”  He sounded less than enthusiastic at the thought, but I had provided him with a son and he was well disposed to be agreeable.  “Yes, you may have your daughter, my dear, in due course.  But I shall leave the choosing of girls’ names to you.  They are all too fancy for my tastes.”

That night, my mother sat with me as I held my son and watched him sleep.  He had only been born that morning and already I was worried for him.  A child of mine was highly likely to be Deryni – how could I ever conceal that from his father?  I knew that any talents would take time to emerge and that I would have four or five years, maybe even more, before I would need to deceive Bran about Brendan, but how on earth would I manage to do it?  

Could I tell yet if he was Deryni?  Would there be clues I could pick up on, even now?  I stroked my son’s forehead, and reached out gently to him and found –

 Pain.  Bright.  Hungry.  

My hand drew back as if I had been burned.  His mind was a churning mass of the most basic thoughts, wholly unlike the ordered minds I had touched before.  My mother saw me start and confusion cross my face.  

“Not yet, Richenda, he is too young yet.”  She put her hand on my arm.  

“Tell me I haven’t hurt him, mama.  I didn’t know...I didn’t think.”

“He will be fine.  You just can’t read much from his thoughts until they go beyond basic instincts, and they won’t be very coherent for quite a while yet.  And you certainly won’t be able to tell if he us...for a long time.  Wait until he is three, maybe a little more, then you’ll be able to check him now and then and see if you can detect shields forming.  You may not be sure until he is much older, though.”

My father arrived a few days later, to collect my mother and to meet his first grandchild.  As they left for home, I held Brendan so my mother could see him as they rode away, and then went back inside the house with my beloved baby.  Deryni or not, Brendan was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

I was determined to be a good mother, and to try to raise Brendan myself as much as possible, to make Bran proud of me.  But bearing Brendan had taken much of my strength, and Bran was soon in Rhemuth again, leaving me with the running of Marley.  I struggled on, often with whispered asides from my ladies about obviously not being able to manage, and without a close friend of my own to confide in.  Many nights I cried myself to sleep, if I slept at all, for Brendan was a fretful baby, and more than once I used my forbidden powers to make him sleep.  His nurse did much for me, of course, and I loved Brendan with all my heart, and outwardly I remained the composed and capable Countess of Marley, but sometimes my responsibilities got on top of me and I wanted to go home and hide my face in my mother’s skirts and have someone care for me instead.

It is a measure of how concerned Bran was that when he returned he sent straight to Rheljan for my mother.  I cried on her shoulder when she came, and she could see right away how tired and depressed I was.  She called in the physician, who gave me hops and lavender and camomile to put in my pillow to help me sleep, and a tea made with St John’s wort.  My mother sat with me while I ate, as left alone I would have eaten little, until as the days passed the bloom returned to my cheeks and I began to feel stronger again.  

Shortly before my mother left to return to Rheljan I had cause to worry about her, in a strange turn around of our roles of nurse and patient.  She was carrying Brendan upstairs to bed when suddenly she became breathless, and sat gasping at the top of the stairs.  She laid Brendan on the floor, in case she fainted and dropped him, and tried to recover herself.  I found her sitting there on the top step, and when I took her arm her pulse was racing.  Maids helped me get her to her room, and I sat with her for a while, going into rapport with her to try to slow the pounding of her heart.  After resting, she assured me she was better, and she certainly seemed to be, but I made her promise to consult her own physician when she got home.  She had helped me to get better – it was my turn to be concerned about her.

Bran adored Brendan.  He was a devoted father, even when Brendan was tiny, and many times I would find him at Brendan’s bedside marvelling at our little son.  

“He looks so like you, Richenda.  Look at his eyes, they are so blue, and his hair is so like yours.  Maybe next time you can make one that looks more like me, eh?”

That last comment had a barb to it.  I was almost embarrassed at how much our son favoured me, although his hair was a shade or two darker, yet not as dark as his sire’s.  Bran would have liked a miniature of him, I was sure, and Brendan’s eyes had stayed resolutely blue, but he was a beautiful child and we were both very proud of him.  The next Earl of Marley could hardly have had two parents more devoted parents.  It was a shame we were not yet more devoted to each other.  Chapter 4

I love the initial mental impressions from trying to "read" Brendan.  Yep, she wouldn't be getting much more than basic instincts and sensations from a newborn!   :D

Many people still find St. John's Wort an effective remedy for mild to moderate depression.

Great chapter.  The near collapse of Richenda's mother on the stairs is probably the first manifestation of the illness that would claim her life.  Bran definitely has a marked preference for boys over girls.

Poor Richenda.   She and Bran united in love for their child, but very different personal expectations for each of them, it seems.  You do wonder at what was the reality behind her words that Bran did 'come to love her after a while in his own fashion', especially given her reaction in TBH to the news of Kelson's likely marriage to Sidana.  And what it must have been like for her, as a fully trained Deryni, to have to hide that part of herself from Bran.


--- Quote from: Alkari on December 19, 2010, 07:36:52 PM ---And what it must have been like for her, as a fully trained Deryni, to have to hide that part of herself from Bran.
--- End quote ---

Was her training up to doing memory-modifications on Bran to cover up any slips?  Or to put geases on the servants like Kelson did on his squires to prevent them from tell anyone if they did see anything?


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