Lord Girau felt his world swim around him. He should have been proud that the Royal family would accept the hand of a member of his family. Instead, he felt only dizzy and wondered if the scene would ever settle before his eyes. He had hoped and prayed this day would never come; he had come firmly to believe his guilt was long past and well buried. But it had come back to haunt him, and how.
Would they ever forgive them, forgive him? Here he was being selfish again, thinking only of himself, only of his pain. What of his son, what of that pretty child? What had he done to them?
He thought of the cruel fate, that fate which had at the time seemed sweet, but was only really waiting, like a snake in the grass, to make him pay for his crime. When the duke had asked his friends, the Lord and Lady Girau of Reeve to take the young, newly-motherless, girl under their wing together with their own large family, it had seemed fate played a kind hand to him. A kind hand!
He glanced over to his youngest son who stood at the wide window overlooking the gardens. They were in full bloom, the flowers and shrubs waving slightly in the afternoon breeze, and they usually helped him to relax after a busy day. This day they only helped to remind him of how lonely he felt. He brought his gaze back to Jhond, leaning both his hands and his forehead on the cool glass. His handsome son, tall and strong; with eyes of deep blue that could somehow look violet in certain lights, and light blond hair. Girau was sure his son wasn’t really seeing the beautiful garden; he was seeing another vision, a vision of his lovely lady. What Girau had to say would only hurt his beloved son. However, it would do no-one any good to delay the inevitable. He gathered his courage around him like a shield. He would need it. He swallowed and rose slowly to his feet. He moved quietly to stand a few feet behind his son.
“Jhond,” he said quietly. For a moment Girau thought perhaps his son hadn’t heard.
Then Jhond turned around. There was an odd look in his eye, as if he suspected his father had more to tell him. Girau swallowed again, and straightened his shoulders. “I’m sorry but you can’t marry Gallia. She is… she is.” His courage failed him, until he saw the look of consternation in his son’s eyes. He took a deep breath and began again. “It’s forbidden by the laws of the secular and the religious for any man to marry his blood.”
“What?” Whatever Jhond had expected it had obviously not been that. “My blood?” he asked, looking utterly perplexed.
“Gallia is the daughter of the Duchess, but she is also my daughter. You can’t marry your own half-sister,” Girau finished, his voice husky and breaking.
For a moment it looked as if Jhond hadn’t understood, then his face went whiter than the thrice-bleached curtains draping the window behind him.