londo_mollari: (LondoTimov)
When I was a young and foolish Centauri – two adjectives that for a long time I thought were in fact married to each other, until Vir proved otherwise, though I do think at times a bit more foolishness would ease his heart – and convinced my life was over, I went into a tavern and was determined to drink myself into a stupor. Which was when one of the dancers there smiled at me, kissed me on the head and said: “Whatever it is, it can not be that bad.”

It was a gesture both kind and unexpected, and certainly moved several parts of me. It also proved enormously helpful when trying to combat gloom in other people, though my good friend Mr. Garibaldi threatened me with physical harm when I told him this story. However, the most unexpected kind act I have experienced occurred many years later; about two years ago, to be precise. I had summoned my three wives to the station in order to divorce two of them – and naturally to enjoy my marital rights for the last time, yes? – and in the best Centauri tradition, one of them promptly decided that a widow’s gown was far more suitable and tried to dispatch of me. This caused another of those times in med lab which neither Dr. Franklin nor myself enjoy. In fact, when I woke up I was convinced I had ended up in what humans are prone to call hell: my three wives were standing around me, Dr. Franklin was probing me with some instrument, and the décor of this habitat of the infirm was as ghastly as ever. What would you have thought, hm?

Once the ladies had withdrawn and Dr. Franklin had provided his application to marry me as well by telling me to stuff it, I put my mind to contemplation of the situation I was in. I had been poisoned, and a blood transfusion must have been necessary. But Centauri Prime was three days away, even for the fastest of ships, and only one day had passed. True, Dr. Franklin had some Centauri blood stored in his den of drugs, but my blood type happens to be a rare one, and I did not think there was another Centauri on the station who shared it, which made it unlikely the good Doctor had it on the ready, yes?

And then, as the humans say, the proverbial means of payment dropped. There was one Centauri on the station right now who did share a blood type with me. In fact, my father had been quite firm on this; the first bride he had found for me was to have my children, and so he knew her DNA, blood type and entire medical history before he could be bothered to share as much as a portrait. Not that I had sense for either blood type or portrait at the time; I was in love with another woman altogether, the charming lady who had kissed me on the head, in fact. But it was Timov whom I eventually ended up sharing decades of marital combat with.

She had saved my life. Once I realized this, I knew she would not want me to know; it would be embarrassing to her, even though I did not doubt she had done so for entirely unromantic reasons. Timov would have saved the late, unlamented Lord Refa if he had been the one requiring a transfusion; she is that kind of person, which undoubtedly explains how ill we are suited for each other, for I am decidedly not.

Now there had never been any question of divorcing her. I might be a fool in many things, but given a choice between my darling backstabbing vipers, Mariel and Daggair, and Timov who if she finally decided to kill me would always do it after due warning and to my face, I knew which lady would remain entitled to sharing titles and little else with me. Besides, I must admit that I would miss the confounded woman; I am a swordsman, with words as much as with a blade, and there is only one other person who is as splendid a sparring partner as Timov.

But what she had done for me demanded more than just the lack of a divorce which would not have been on the menu anyway. And yet I could not say anything, for to do so would have been a selfish indulgence on my part; honouring her kindness had to be done in other ways, not in words. But I could not think of a suitable way, and this was most vexing. When I was about to take my leave of her, I was still wondering what to do, but then she asked me why I had not divorced her, and suddenly it seemed ridiculously easy.

“Because with you,” I said, “I always know where I stand.”

And I kissed her hand. She did not slap be, but departed from the station in bemusement. Now if I had known this was the way to disarm Timov, I might have used it earlier and avoided losing some arguments… but then again, I would not have had a way to repay her kindness, for a weapon often used loses its edge, yes?

Writing about her makes me realize I miss her again, which raises the uncomfortable suspicion she won this round of our ongoing battles after all. Women. Clearly, the Maker has put them at an advantage.
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

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