londo_mollari: (Default)
The first time I saw my wife Timov was on the day the two of us were wed. This was not due to tradition; despite our custom of arranged marriages, a man is expected to present himself a few times to his betrothed before actual vows are taken. In fact, it was due to Timov.

There had been some financial strains on my father which compelled him to accept my uncle’s advice and do what the nobility always does when the situation is dire; present their eligible offspring to rich new arrivals in the Centaurum who want to mask their origin with such a marriage. Now he did suggest my younger brother first, but Timov’s father Algul was adamant; only the heir of House Mollari would do for his daughter. He wanted the glitter of nobility, yes, but he also did not want her to be unhappy, and judged that if she were the wife of a younger son in a household where she was only added because there was need of money, she would be looked down upon. In short, he was a good man and as far from a courtier and politician as anyone I was ever to meet before encountering Vir, yes?

Not that I met him often. I might not have met him at all. While my father was busy arranging the financial salvation of House Mollari, I had fallen in love, rashly, inconsiderately, and fervently, though not, alas, with Timov, whom I had never met. The object of my devotion was a dancer, and I, foolish young man that I was, thought I could defy tradition and duty in one romantic gesture. I ran away with her and married her. For a short while, I was deliriously happy. Then reality caught up with me, in the shape of my father, my uncle, and my father’s three wives, including my mother.

The end of the affair was that my father took even more credit on his future wealth to bribe enough courtiers so my marriage would be dissolved as quickly as it had been made, and struck from the official records, and that I agreed to marry Timov, as was my duty. I died for the first time then, telling my beloved it was over, that I had chosen duty above her. I have died many times since.

Despite drinking quite a lot during those days, I did go to the house of Algul to present myself to his daughter, only to be told she did not want to see me before our marriage. Algul tried to explain this by maidenly shyness, but the way of gossip revealed the truth to me even before I encountered Timov and had the chance to find out nobody could ever have described her as shy. My friend Urza’s sister had taken to visit her since our engagement was first announced, and she told me that Timov, in that inimitable diplomatic way of hers, had declared me a heartless rake and a coward when told I had run away with a dancer and then given in to my family’s demands. She had told everyone she had no intention of seeing me sooner than she absolutely had to.

Now if this were one of the tales I was fond of reading as a young boy, this news would have spurred me to regain my honour and reputation in the eyes of my betrothed, I would have insisted on a courtship, and we would eventually fallen in love, yes? But naturally, no such thing happened. I thought that if a woman whom I had no wish to marry did regard me as a cowardly wastrel, I might as well exceed her expectations. And thus I did not see her before our wedding day, at which time I was so drunk Urza had to support during most of the ceremony. She did not want to dance, so of course I insisted on it. I sang, badly, and paid court to every lady in the weeding party, while feeling as profoundly miserable as she looked. And she did look miserable. A white, pinched face, I thought, disapproving lips pressed together into thin lines, and quite small. Not attractive at all. (She thought as much about myself; being Timov, she told me so once we were alone in our wedding chamber.)

I had no idea that on this day, I had met one of the very few people in whose honesty and courage I would come to trust absolutely. Youth is blind, I know, but I was blinder than most, for I could have seen then. The bravery that was necessary to face a complete stranger who was behaving in a boorish manner, knowing that on that day, he acquired complete power over oneself; the truthfulness that made it impossible for her to even pretend her newly acquired nobility would be enough to make up for this. It was a remarkable day, more for what I did not see than for what I did. I was full of anger and bitterness then; and yet, decades later, I cannot wish it undone.

The universe likes to play these kind of jokes on us.


londo_mollari: (Default)

July 2010

11121314 151617


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags