Lady Cassandra's Fears

Disclaimer 1: This is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic results if they really want to.

Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.

Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here. Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.

Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.

Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these things.

Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.

It just had to happen, simply because Cassandra fears it so much.

Lady Cassandra's Fears

Elaith was actually uneasy about visiting Danilo and Arilyn, but it had to be done. Better to get it over with now, for all of them. Their first child had been due a week ago, but so far no message had come, no birth announced.

It hadn't worried the elf until that morning, though. After all, didn't one hear of human babies being born late or early all the time? And as far as he knew, being born late was usually better for the child. So he had assumed that all was well.

That morning, however, he'd had a business meeting with Lady Cassandra Thann and the way she had reacted whenever he'd mentioned babies, Arilyn or even just Danilo had very clearly indicated that something was wrong. Yet, there was no hint of the grief relatives usually showed after a stillbirth or when a mother died in childbirth. It didn't even seem that she was worried over a weak or sickly baby that might not survive or a mother struggling to recover after birth complications.

No, Lady Cassandra seemed uncomfortable, embarrassed. Was the child afflicted with a terrible disability or disfigurement then? That would be hard to cope with, especially since it was the firstborn and much as he would have liked to just pretend that he hadn't noticed anything and go on with his life, Elaith felt that he owed his friend and his princess whatever emotional support he could give.

In case of a disfigurement, he might even be in a particularly good position to do so as he'd been preparing himself to fake the proper appreciative noises one was expected to make upon first view of a child since the moment he'd first learned that Arilyn was expecting. He had never liked the fat, plump, red little things humans were born as and he doubted this one would look any more appealing just because it was Danilo's, even though Danilo was rather better looking than your average human. Not that Elaith would go so far as to call him good-looking. Certainly not by elven standards.

Danilo's halfling servant greeted him with the same slightly nervous attitude as always. Clearly whatever misfortune had befallen the household did not affect him enough to outweigh his fear of Elaith. Hopefully that meant that Lady Cassandra was overreacting. As far as Elaith knew Monroe was devoted to his master and surely his fear ought to have reduced due to frequent exposure by now.

Danilo appeared to be tired, but had a joke and a glass of elverquist ready for his visitor nevertheless. Elaith let him babble on about whatever inane topics he felt obliged to for a while, then politely inquired after Arilyn.

"Oh, she's in bed," Danilo answered casually. "No, nothing to worry about, just still recovering from childbirth and getting as much rest as a new mother can. Babies are rather demanding little things I've discovered. You wouldn't believe at what times they get it into their heads that they are hungry and will certainly starve unless fed right this moment. Makes me rather glad I'm not a woman I can tell you."

"Oh, so the baby's born then? I hadn't heard." And it seemed to have a healthy appetite in any case.

Danilo fidgeted. "Er ... well ... yes. I suppose I should have sent word, but what with all the excitement and loss of sleep ... It's a boy. We've decided to call him Arun after the founder of my mother's family."

And because it sounded elven? Elaith knew how fascinated Danilo was with his kind and Arilyn was a half-elf after all. He decided not to comment on that though.

"How lovely. Lady Cassandra must be pleased to be thus honoured," he said instead.

Danilo shrugged. "Not really. It is ... Well, I suppose she suspects that we chose it for uncle Khelben's sake and not hers. Though what else she expected us to do with all the Thann names already taken thanks to my numerous siblings and Arilyn's family certainly not wanting anything to do with our child ... unless ... we could have chosen Bran, of course. Yes, I believe our second son shall be Bran ..."

"Before we start naming children not yet conceived," Elaith interrupted gently. "Might I see the one already born?"

Danilo hesitated.

"You're worried about waking Arilyn?" Elaith guessed.

"Well, no," Danilo admitted. "We might wake him, though. Or maybe not. His sleeping rhythm is as unpredictable as his hunger."

"I might not be a forest elf, but I can sneak better than a human," Elaith promised. "I just want one little look at him."

Danilo still looked hesitant, but finally nodded and led the way to the nursery.

True to his promise, Elaith snuck in as quietly as he could, but they needn't have worried. Danilo took one look into the cradle, smiled, bent down and picked up a little bundle.

"He's awake."

But all Elaith could see was cloth. Trying hard to hide how nervous he was Elaith held out his hands for the baby.

Danilo hesitated again, cuddling his son close to his chest.

"I know how to hold a baby," Elaith assured him. "I held Azariah often enough. I won't drop him."

"I ... It's not that I don't trust you with him. I just ... he ..."

Elaith sighed and dropped his hands deliberately letting his disappointment show.

"Oh, don't," Danilo exclaimed and finally held out the baby.

He was tiny and light and looked up at Elaith with wide blue eyes and ...

"Why, he has elven ears!" Elaith exclaimed in delighted surprise.

"Yes, he takes after his mother a lot," Danilo explained hastily. "Lady Cassandra doesn't like that at all unfortunately."

Of course she didn't, Elaith realised and could have laughed at himself and his worries. He couldn't have gotten those ears only from a half-elven mother. It took more elven blood than that and Cassandra was probably as ashamed of her elven heritage as any proud elven family would be of a human ancestor.

"He has your eyes, though," he pointed out to Danilo. "And personally I think that's a fine combination. As for your mother ... I suppose his ears might look odd and crumpled up to someone not familiar with elven children. But you saw Azariah, you know how they'll straighten out once they harden, right?"

"I don't think that's her problem," Danilo admitted. "At least the floppy baby elf ears have always looked most adorable to me and I've never heard any humans say they disliked them."

"Well, whatever she might think, little Arun is the most beautiful human baby I've ever seen," Elaith said completely truthfully.

There was no need to lie. He might be a little too plump to compete with elven babies, but Arun was beautiful enough to pass as a half-elf and yes, his floppy long ears were indeed most adorable, just as Danilo had said.

"I guess it's just that she ... doesn't really like elves. You've probably noticed how hard she's always trying to be polite. I suppose she wanted to be able to pretend that her grandchild was fully human."

That wasn't the exact truth of course, but he didn't have to say anything more. Elaith understood. Too many people knew that quarter elves didn't have elven ears. It changed nothing for Elaith who'd never thought Danilo to be fully human. Not since he'd seen him cast spellsong magic at the very least, but even before that he'd been suspicious about the Arunsun family. Elven magic had always seemed to come just a touch too easily to Khelben Arunsun as well.

Nor would it change anything for Danilo who'd already openly married a half-elf, but there would be repercussions for his parents and siblings, once the more racist elements of Waterdeep's society saw this child.

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