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Question: More Bitter Than Sweet


August 9, 2016 by Lyn

Question for Regine: Have you ever been in love? If so, dish. If not, what’s the closest you’ve come to experiencing it?

Regine begins:
Love is an irrelevant emotion in general, and certainly, while useful in others, nothing but a hindrance to my current pursuit if found within myself.

VanderLinden interrupts:
That’s not what Liv asked, Regine, and you know it.

Regine complains:
I don’t see why my emotions have anything to do with the current project. Especially love. Look what a mess people make of their lives out of love!

VanderLinden counters:
And my emotions are any more relevant? Or Luca’s? Listen, you made this deal, and you agreed to be part of it. That means when the girl asks you a question, you dish, same as when Ké asks me or Luca a question, no matter how much it makes you squirm.

Regine asks:
And if I don’t?

VanderLinden threatens:
You will.
Look, ‘Gene, I know this isn’t easy for you. But you’ve got to do it. I can’t very well answer this one for you.

Regine snaps:
If you know so much about me, it seems as if you might very well be able to answer it!

Oh, very well. You ask the most impertinent questions, Olivia.

When I was young, the world was a different place. Not so different, perhaps, as when Linden was young, but not the free place it is now, either. My family was affluent and well-known, and it would have been unheard-of for me to not marry.

I told my father I didn’t want to marry a Grigori, which, since he had married a human himself, he thought he understood. Since there were no other pure-blooded Grigori in the city in which we lived, that made it an easier agreement to reach.

I married at sixteen, to a relatively clever man of twenty-six who had established himself in business. He was a former student of my father’s, and he had been coming to dinner at our home for several years; I found him pleasant, tolerable, and indulgent of my desire to study, all important characteristics in a future husband.

I confess, I hadn’t expected to be fond of him. He had his business, and that kept him out of the house most of the time, and out of my hair.

Gideon. His name was Gideon, and our first daughter was named Adalberta. By the time she was born, I was beginning to suspect that my Becoming had been a fluke – one of my brothers had gone through his Becoming and emerged a half-breed, not quite pure enough to be Grigori; the other, a year older than I, had yet to show any signs at all of a Change. And, in my youth and naiveté, I thought that that would be all right.

My mother was still alive, you see; and, while she was my father’s second wife, that didn’t mean so much in those days as it might now; many women died in childbirth. So I confess that, while I had accepted on an intellectual basis that I would outlive my husband, my mother, my brother, and possibly my daughter – I hadn’t thought about what this would mean to me.

I grew very close to Gideon. I loved him, the way, I suppose, that humans love each other, whole-heartedly. No, Grigori are not naturally without emotion, and I was, after all, very young. For two decades, I was very happy.

Gideon was what I’d asked for – a human man. And, like any human, he aged, and by the time it became clear to me that neither of our daughters, Adalberta nor her younger sister Gwennora, would be full-blooded Grigori, my beloved husband was reaching the end of his days.

And there was nothing I could do to stop it… damn you, Linden. Damn you.

VanderLinden answers:
That’s been done long since, Lake-Queen. And I’m sorry, but it’s the rules. Was Gideon the only man you ever loved?

Regine sighs:
You are a horrible person, Linden-Blossom, and I hope someday that the fate you so richly deserve comes down upon you. No, which you well know and Olivia probably knows as well. Gideon was not the only man I ever loved, just the only one for a very long time.

VanderLinden says softly:

Just as softly, Regine answers:
Ambrus, yes. I didn’t expect that. I really did not expect to love him. He was a tool to be used and then, I’d hoped, set on his own feet to find his own way. But he had no concept of, no desire for, no skills for being on his own. So I kept him.

I did my best to take care of him. He had grown used to physical attention and, while I have little desire for sex, it wasn’t sex that he wanted, so I simply spent time holding him.

There’s something pure about that, just holding someone who depends on you. I know, with what was done to him, “pure” is not often a word that comes to mind. But those were things over which he had no control; the man himself is not those things.

So, yes, I love Ambrus. What that will mean for us in the long run, I do not know. The skill of seeing the future has never come to me.


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