by SJ Longtaile
A wizard's wife reflects on her present life.
|My husband is the Lord Wizard, protector of the valley, and the word I would use to describe him is volatile.
Power comes at a price, so he says.
He sees things that normal people don’t, terrifying things from what he tells me.
“How are the voices today?” I try to ask him every morning. If he answers me it’s not too bad, but if he doesn’t answer me…well, then I know to be wary. When it’s that bad, he’s bound to break, when he does, all I can do is wait, and be there to pick up the pieces.
He doesn’t love me, not like that, and nor I him. Our marriage was strategical, arranged by my father who thought he could gain access to the Lord Wizard’s power and social standing. How wrong he was, once I became the Lady Wizard, my father had no more access to me or my husband than anyone. That’s because I wanted it that way. My husband cares for me and my wellbeing, he adheres to my requests if I ask politely, he respects me and treats me well, so I do what I can to return his kindness.
“Ingis! Ingis!” His children call me by my name, I may have birthed them, but I am not their mother, and I could not bear it if they called me as such. They adore me and I them, still, I am not their mother.
“Vita! Mortin! Get back here! You can’t go in there, Ingis is busy–“
Ardin freezes at the door.
He is their mother, he mothers them enough to be, and given his place in my husband’s life, has earned that title.
“I–I’m sorry, Ignis. I tried to stop them,” he apologizes, looking flustered as he bows low.
He treats me as everyone else does, he treats me as the Lady Wizard, he treats me as if his status is lower than mine and to most, it is, but within this house, it is I who should be bowing to him. I’ve asked him to stop doing it, at least in the house, and for the most part, he does, but it’s times like this that habit takes over.
“It’s quite alright,” I say, dismissing the valley’s council,”We were just finishing.”
Today, I have stepped in to fulfill my husband’s duties, for today is a Black day. When a day is Black, my husband is unable to be the Lord Wizard, he secludes himself in his chambers and sometimes does not come out at all. When a day is Black, the voices are at their worst, and my husband is close to breaking if not already broken, and on these days, often not even Ardin can help. On these days, all we can do is wait.
Vita and Mortin are tugging at the ceremonial robes I wear in their father’s place, demanding my attention.
“Look! Look! Mortin made it for me!” Vita proclaims excitedly while Mortin beams proudly beside her.
A radiant sapphire rose with gold rimmed petals is presented to me on small open palms.
“Oh how lovely,” I coo, kneeling down so I am level with them. The shining gem is placed in my hand and I hold it up to the light, watching it glow and shine. “It’s beautiful,” I smile, handing it carefully back to Vita and placing a hand on Mortin’s shoulder,”You best take good care of it young lady.”
“Don’t worry! I magicked it so it won’t ever break,” Mortin states, positively overflowing with pride.
“Did you? Oh how wonderful, your father will be so proud,” I compliment him.
Mortin inherited his father’s magic and would soon grow into his power, one day he would take his father’s place as the Lord Wizard. He’s been studying under his father’s tutelage, and was learning fast, faster than his father had, so my husband said. My husband has high hopes for Mortin, I only hope Vita’s awe and admiration for her brother would not turn to jealousy, I knew all too well the pain and strife jealously could bring.
“You mustn’t ignore Ardin, children. He is your mother and he knows best,” I tell them as we head for the doors where Ardin still stood.
“Aren’t you our mother?” Mortin asks.
Mortin’s other studies were going well, he’d been learning about the world and how it worked, and that included how most families worked as well.
“No, Mortin,” I reply, smiling kindly.
“But you gave birth to us,” he argues.
Beside me, I see Ardin's shoulders slump and his head tilts down slightly. He feels inferior to me because he cannot sire children himself, I’ve tried to assure him that it does not matter, but in the end, I cannot change his feelings.
“That does not mean that I am your mother,”I insist,”It is not I who takes care of you, I do not feed you, nor do I clothe you, therefore; I am not your mother."
I know they are too young to completely understand yet, but I think it’s better to start early so that it becomes ingrained in them as they grow older.
Mortin frowns a little,”But you play with us, you look after us when Ardin and father aren’t around.”
“Yes. I suppose that makes me more of an aunt to you, perhaps a nanny would be a more suitable title for me,”I say.
“But you’re father’s wife,” Mortin protests.
“Yes, but that does not make me your mother,” I respond,”I may be your father’s wife, but it is Ardin who holds his heart. That, children, is what makes him your mother,” I explain,”So please, be kind to him and listen to what he says.”
Mortin still looks like he doesn’t fully understand, and he won’t, not for another several years, he’s only six after all. Nonetheless, he nods, moves to Ardin’s side and takes his hand.
“I’m sorry, Ardin, for not listening. I won’t do it again,” he says, looking genuinely apologetic, peering up at Ardin with those big amber eyes.
Ardin always goes weak in the knees at those eyes, to be honest, I believe everyone does, even myself. Mortin definitely got that from his father, even if he uses my eyes to do it.
Smiling sweetly, Ardin bends down to place a loving kiss on the boy’s forehead. “Thank you for apologizing, it is much appreciated. Now, will you do me a favor?”
After placing a reciprocating kiss on Ardin’s cheek, Mortin beams at him, nodding.
“Take Vita out to play in the gardens and bring Tora with you?” Ardin asks.
Mortin nods enthusiastically, collecting his sister’s hand out of Ardin’s.
“Come on Vita, let’s play!” he says, tugging the little four year old along.
Ardin and I watch them run down the hall, dodging one of the waiters carrying a silver platter with a tea pot and a tea cup of fine china. When they disappear around the corner, all giggles and squeals of glee, Ardin turns to me, that sugary sweet smile of his in place, crinkling his mismatched eyes.
“Thank you, for your help. I really appreciate it,” he says, tilting his head in a respectful little bow.
I take his hands in mine, returning his smile,”You are very welcome. I’m happy to help anyway I can.”
Ardin and I don’t speak very often at length, just short and simple exchanges, I think he’s still a little uncomfortable with me, which is understandable, but we are pleasantly civil with each other which I am glad for, he has every right to hate me, yet he doesn’t. He respects my social standing in regards to his lover, far more than he should, he feels insecure around me which is what I think is what causes his discomfort, so I try to be as kind and open with him as possible in the hopes of easing his discomfort.
The waiter comes up to us, clearing his throat a little,”Master Ardin, Lady Ingis, Lord Zedwin has requested tea,” he states, looking between us as if asking is either of us wanted to take the tea to him ourselves.
Ardin hesitates, looking at me uncertainly.
I nod encouragingly at him,”Why don’t you take it? He’ll be happier to see you. Perhaps you can read to him, I think he’d like that,” I suggest, releasing his hands.
Ardin beams gratefully at me, he turns to take the platter from the waiter,”Thank you, again,” he says as he continues down the hall.
I watch him until he disappears through a set of double doors at the end that led to Zedwin’s chambers, then I turn and head down a branching hallway towards my own with plans of retiring to the evening. Filling in for Zedwin is very taxing, I never truly realize just how much responsibility he bears until I have to shoulder it myself, it always manages to reaffirm the admiration and respect I have for him.