By: Manna


This Is the Fault of: Xirysa

Zero (zîr'ō, zē'rō): A cipher; nothing; naught.


The sky was dark, cloudy, and rain fell from it with wild abandon. Lyndis, soaked completely through, entered her home before closing the door behind her.

Tears threatened to spill from her eyes, though it was terribly hard to tell such a thing thanks to the drops of water that slid down her face. She shuddered, chilled, and passed by several empty, unused rooms before she made her way into her bedroom.

After peeling off her drenched, cold dress, she changed into something else before stumbling in the dark once or twice, eventually managing to slide under the blankets on the bed; the warmth was comforting, she supposed, but not nearly enough.

She kept to her own side, burying her face in her pillow to soak up the tears that had begun to fall.

Warm, bare arms wrapped around her from behind.

The gesture was supposed to make her feel better, was supposed to console her, but it only made her cry harder.

"Lyn," he whispered after a time, his voice low and soft and very sleepy.

She felt ashamed for waking him up; he worked so hard every day for her sake. It wasn't fair of her to fail him in so many ways. Certainly, she was nothing like what he had expected out of her as a wife.

Raising himself on one elbow, he moved closer to her and pushed her wet, messy ponytail out of the way, taking its spot. His chin settled on the top of her head, heedless of her damp hair, and his right elbow rested on her waist; his hand gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze.

She wanted to tell him to go away.

She wanted to tell him that she was sorry.

She said nothing for a long, long time.

"Lyndis…" He almost had an accent like hers, now. How long had they been out on the plains together? Five years… Five beautiful, glorious years; there was only one exception.

"Kent," she moaned sorrowfully, turning over slowly before hugging him to her. He was a quiet kind of strength, and his chest—scarred as it was from the war—was a familiar place to rest her head. Her warm tears snaked their way down his skin.

He smelled like sunlight and the grain he had spent the last few days harvesting.

His breath tickled her neck, "What's the matter, Lyndis?" After inhaling and receiving no answer, he breathed again, "What is it?"

She closed her eyes and held him closer, pressing his bare skin against her face as his hands rubbed her back. "I-I'm not… I'm… Again…" It was all that she could force out of her mouth, but she knew that he understood.

"It's okay." His voice was gentle, calm, soothing. Most women might have been comforted by it; they might have even felt content. But more tears fell at hearing them. For a long time, all she had heard from him was how good she was, that she was far too good for him. But the truth all along had been that he was too good for her.

Maybe, if she had said so from the beginning, if she had admitted that, then he could have found a better wife, and she could have returned to the plains, living her life alone as was fit for a woman in her situation.

"No, no it's not…" she sighed, wanting to cling to him and wanting to pull away at the same time. She found a medium; she chose to simply lay there in his arms. "It's been five years, and not…not one…"

He nuzzled her face with his, and pulled away, tilting her chin up to force her to look at him. "Lyn… We don't need children. It's okay if we don't have any."

She bit her lip and blinked watery eyes at him, nodding but not agreeing. It wasn't okay, it wasn't okay at all.

He must have known by the look on her face, because the next thing he said was, "I won't be upset if we never have children. I won't be angry. Lyndis…I love you, and having or not having children cannot change that."

She buried her face again, against the warmth that his body offered her, and she let him pull the blankets over her. She would feel better in the morning, she knew. She had been hoping—praying, pleading with any deity that would listen—that this time, she really would be pregnant, but she had started her cycle again.

Never had she hated the sight of blood so much.

If the Lorca had survived, if she had taken Kent to live with them, she would be forced to let her husband go because she could not provide an heir for him. Five years… Oh, women her age usually had several children, but she had none.

She had been pregnant before, three times, but all three times, she had lost the baby. Kent should have, by all means, punished her in some way for failing to carry his children. It was his right as her husband, but no matter how many times she tried to explain it to him, he just didn't understand, opting to show affection to her instead.

She told him that she would feel better if he'd hit her or make her sleep outside. Appalled at the idea, he had nearly cried, holding her close to him as if he thought maybe she would slip through his fingers like sand or water.

They had been trying so hard to have children. He would like to have them, she wanted them, so it was only natural. But five years had passed and she had been unable to produce a single one. By Lorcan law, he was allowed to send her away to take a new wife.

He would never do it, she knew that. And the Lorca were gone.

But she couldn't forget, couldn't change the things that had been imprinted on her mind.

She disgraced him by not giving him children.

She was failing in her duty as a wife.

Maybe, she told herself, Kent took her duty as a wife about as seriously as she had taken his duty as her vassal. The thought almost made her smile—almost.

Pulling away slightly, she noticed his brown eyes watching her; he looked so sleepy that she did smile, softly, before kissing him and settling back into his arms. "I love you, too, Kent…"

The corners of his lips turned up against her hair, "We'll sleep in tomorrow," he promised.

Yes, in the morning she would feel better.


Author Notes:

Ah, the most depressing one. Well, first of all, I think it's perfectly plausible for Lyndis to be unable to have children, considering being poisoned put her into a coma for ten days. Second, a lot of cultures sadly did allow for men to marry a different woman if their wife couldn't produce children within so many years. (Some cultures it was less than five, some five, and some between five and ten years.) Third, in most cultures, especially until recently, it was disgraceful for a woman not to have children. Finally, Kent letting them sleep in? Is supposed to be something rare and something Lyn enjoys.

So, this is the last one. I hope you enjoyed this little set of letters! There is another set to come, but it will take longer to post than this one, I'm afraid.

Feedback would be very much appreciated! Please take care!