812 - Emma
Even, or maybe especially, when I'm trying to distract myself, my mind is filled with Lucien and my job. Probably because there's not much more to think about besides plants, but with Lucien subtly but strictly telling me not to add any more I try not to think about how cute another monstera would look in our dining room, or how I could definitely start growing some more herbs out on the balcony.
With Lucien at his internship eight hours a day and my suspension still ongoing, I have to find other ways to spend my time. I discover a newfound passion for bedding, sneakily adding a new colour or print to our collection without Lucien realising, washing every new purchase with our fabric softener and placing it somewhere in the middle of the massive pile of bedding we already own in the closet in the guestroom, pretending it has always been there.
When the closet almost breaks from all of the newly bought sheets and pillow cases, I create the perfect version of a new recipe and learn how to make my own pasta, channelling all of my frustration into the little balls of dough. I teach Lance a new command, and learn that it is actually much harder to train a dog than I thought it was.
When sitting at home starts to get monotonous and frustrating, I venture out into the world more, avoiding the garden centre as much as I can. Only twice I do end up bringing one or two more plants home, hiding them carefully between the other foliage so Lucien won't notice.
One afternoon, when the sun is shining bright and almost begging me to sit down and have a glass of wine, I find myself at the Griffin.
Because it's a normal thursday afternoon and most people are at work, the bar is pretty much empty apart from some regular guests and a few tourists.
"Linie!" Charles smiles, drying off a beer glass when he spots me. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"
He knows about my suspension, but in true Middleton style he has promised not to ask and definitely not to tell. If mum found out, she'd get so worried it might send her right into the hospital.
"I need a drink," I smile, sitting down at the bar. "Where's the wife?"
"In the back," he shrugs, his facial expression shifting enough for me to notice, no matter how hard he tries not to show it.
"Oh, I did not like that," I mumble, taking the glass of freely poured wine from him, way fuller than it would be for any other guest. "What's going on?"
"Just...," he sighs, going in to dry another glass. I know that all too well - keeping busy to pretend whatever it is that's bothering you isn't actually bothering you. "Some bumps in the road. We're fine, it's just a little rough."
"That doesn't make me less worried, Charlie," I tell him, studying his face closely. "If anything, it makes me more worried. What's wrong?"
"It's... complicated," he shrugs.
"What's complicated?" Selene sticks her head around the corner, carrying a box of glass bottles, excitedly moving around and banging into each other.
"Our...," Charles seems to get stuck on the right word, placing the glass down on the bar and moving on to the next. "Situation."
"Right," Selene mumbles, the smile on her face still sticking but a little frown added to it. "Why don't you come into the back with me, Em?"
There's a lot of scenarios flying through my head when Selene sits me down, pulling out an extra bottle of wine and pouring herself a glass.
"We haven't really told anyone about this, so if we could keep it between the two of us for now... Or well, Lucien can know, I could imagine you wanting to talk about it with him, but... we should be the ones to tell Reginald and Nancy, if we decide to do so..." she starts, biting down on her lip. I have never seen Selene this uncertain, which worries me even more.
"God, you're frightening me, Selene," I place a hand on her arm. "What's going on?"
"We...," she breathes in. "We've been trying to conceive, your brother and I. Even before we got married, we knew that that's what we wanted. Charlie grew up in a big family, of course, and I knew I wanted to be a mother from when I was a little girl, so..." she stares at the wall, as if she needs to gather the courage. "I.. we never shared this, because.. well, it's painful. Before we got married, around the same time you shared the news of your miscarriage, we found out we were pregnant, but we didn't... your news was so fresh, we didn't want to drop that on you, because it felt wrong and insensitive. And then not much later, we miscarried, too, at only nine weeks. It turns out...," she takes a deep breath in. "Apparently Charlie and I are a great match on every aspect apart from one. It turns out there's a lot of stuff wrong with my ovaries, and Charles... well, there's things going on there, too. We underwent a lot of testing, and... well, yesterday we heard there's little to no chance of us getting pregnant, let alone carrying a baby full-term. We're pretty much infertile, the two of us.."
All I can do is hug her when the tears get too much for her to hold back, my hands rubbing up and down her back. I understand her pain, even if it's only a little snippet of it, and have to fight to hold back my own tears. Out of pain for them, mostly, that they have to go through this. But selfishly for myself as well, the stabbing pain in my heart reminding me of Claire and frightening me for the future.
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