{ A/N: i subscribe to the fanon theory that sagi and milly are melodia's parents, and as such, verus, gena, and baelheit are her biological grandparents, and that calbren is simply her adopted guardian/grandfatherly figure. for the record, unless otherwise stated, anything i write about melodia will probably feature this! }

This is all so very rotten, Geldoblame thought as he sat in the Duke's study one evening. He stared sullenly at the shadows leaping on the walls in the candlelight and it was all he could think. Rotten.

The place was familiar to him by now, even with all of its little hidden things, but Calbren's study had always thrown him off guard, even when he was young and Melodia was still a baby. But then again, he had been so very stupid when he was young. He was not stupid any longer.

Now, he saw what these little things, these scattered trinkets, truly were. They were not a loving memorial to the prince and princess. They did not symbolize fond memories. Not any longer.

They were symbols of Calbren's shame. Fetid, decomposing memories. Rotten. Sagi and Milliarde were dead and their daughter was wracked with illness, and it was Calbren's fault. That was what these things, the photos and paintings and books and sheet music, were meant to say.

Geldoblame did not disagree with them.

Calbren came limping into the room looking old and tired and haggard, as always. He was as curiously old as Corellia was young. Geldoblame appreciated these things about both of them - Corellia was so beautiful and wise, and he was content to spend silent hours simply sitting on her balcony and watching the jungle shudder and shiver in the breeze. Calbren was old and prone to making dull conversation, always saying quite a lot with very little meaning, but Geldoblame appreciated that he barely ever had to exert himself mentally with the man.

"Melodia left for Reverence just before you arrived," Calbren said, slowly easing himself down into a chair. "She should be back in the evening."

Geldoblame nodded. "I see she has been given… more freedom, as of late."

Sighing, Calbren said, "Well, she is becoming quite the young lady, as we both know. She must go out and about, so that her people may see the girl who will become their Duchess. But, as her grandfather… I admit I still feel concerned when she leaves."

Geldoblame's hands balled into fists. Calbren did not notice.

"She truly is such a dear girl," he continued, a wan smile gracing his features.

"Truly," Geldoblame agreed through gritted teeth.

"And I am so proud to have such a lovely grandch - "

"She is not your grandchild," Geldoblame spat.

Calbren frowned, and said nothing.

They were silent for a long time, staring across the table at one another, Calbren weakly gazing at Geldoblame as he glared at him.

"She is not yours," Geldoblame repeated, the harshness in his voice somewhat diminished. "That is a delusion," he said lightly, as if simply stating a fact from a textbook, or recalling a bit of trivia.

"I know," Calbren admitted softly. "I do." He sighed again. "I suppose I'm just… so wrapped up in this lie."

The old fool really is quite pitiful, Geldoblame thought, and he sneered. "You tried to tangle me in it as well, years ago." He gestured to the lumpy piece of pottery to the right of the table. "For Uncle." He scowled. "I am not her uncle or her godfather or any such nonsense, and as it is, I haven't the patience for child-rearing. I have an empire to lead."

"Yes, yes," Calbren muttered, trying to placate him. "You're busier still than even poor King Ladekhan - of course, the two of you are so young, and took your respective thrones in times of such crisis; of course you have been busy…"

"But the difference between Ladekhan and myself is that Ladekhan has done nothing, where I have done everything," Geldoblame hissed. "His achievements are lowly compared to what I have done for Alfard. Insignificant. He has not suffered for Diadem."

Calbren sighed yet again and stared into the wood grain of the table. Silence settled over the two men.

"I am done with the pain her family has caused me," Geldoblame announced suddenly. He glared at the table, mouth twisting into a harsh frown. "I leave in the morning." Quietly, he added, "I shouldn't be here."

Calbren allowed himself the tiniest of smiles, for he knew that Geldoblame was lying.