Chapter 10 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Temmin numbered among Issak's attendants for the next few days as the twins recovered from two possessions in as many spokes. Anda had once said they treated the Embodiments like glass for a whole spoke after Nerr's Day; the other six Embodiments carried their Gods once a year, and while it took a toll on them all it was doubly so for the Obbys. While the other Embodiments might serve twenty or even thirty years, the twins would last perhaps ten. They did little but eat and sleep for the first week after Nerr's Day, regaining their strength.

Temmin told himself concern for Allis made him wait for the others to leave so that he might sneak through the door between the twins' apartments. Allis's pinched and exhausted face blooming again as she slept touched him in a way that Issak's did not.

It troubled him. It went against Temple practice. He loved others in the Temple--Anda and Issak especially--but he loved Allis in a way he should not; jealousy raged inside him when she spent time with others, and he could not stop nor could he confess, not even when he was sitting with his back against the bed and Allis touched his hair. "Tem, what are you doing here?"

He jumped up and he could feel the guilt on his face. Control, control. "I'm…I was just..it was in case you needed anything."

"Anda, Penna and Justinna are on the other end of this bell pull. You shouldn't be here, Tem. Why are you here?"

"I don't know," he mumbled.

"I think you do. I know I do." She sat up, keeping the covers pulled up around her. "Well?"

His face crumpled. "I'm trying, Allis, but I don't know what to do. I've talked to people, I've distracted myself with others and I'm trying not to feel what I'm feeling, but I don't know how not to feel something."

"What are you feeling?"

"I'm feeling…" The knot in his stomach crawled up into his throat. I can't, I'm not supposed to, I can't! If I say, I'll make it real!

"Temmin," she began, "when young men first have sex--"

"No! No, don't ever say that, never say that! I'm not most young men, I've had a great deal of sex since then with many others, and that's not how it is." Temmin sank on his knees beside the bed. "Why are you avoiding me?"

"I haven't avoided you, I have duties. So do you. What do you want, Tem? You have to name it before you can begin to heal."

The words came out in a rush. "Heal? How can you heal from loving someone? Because I love you, and I can't stop, and I'm not sure I want to. I'm not asking you to belong to me and only me forever. I know it's not possible, for any number of reasons. Just tell me this one thing. Do you love me? Not as a petitioner, or a Supplicant, or a fellow human being--do you love me? Do you love me, Allis? I need to know. That's all I need to know."

She searched his face, her green eyes sad and bright. "Oh, Tem. You'd best go. This is between us for now, but I urge you to speak with Barik or even Most High Gan. Don't ever ask me that again. Please."

A rustle made Temmin twist on his knees to face the door to Issak's bedchamber. "There you are, Temmin Supplicant," said Senik, his face blank. "You're needed in here."

Temmin rose from the floor, flustered and angry. Of all people to catch him, Senik was the last he would have chosen.

Senik appeared a few days later summoning Temmin to the Most High Beloved's chambers.

The old priestess sat on a low, wide couch propped up on pillows. "I'm perfectly able to sit upright on my own, but Senik likes to spoil me, don't you, dear? Well, Temmin Supplicant!" she said once they were alone. Malla took his hands in her own, her skin cool, soft and papery. "We have not spoken one on one in some time. How is your life here at the Temple?"

Temmin bowed his head over her hands and kissed them in reverence. "I'm told I'm progressing well in my studies and I'm enjoying them, Most High." Perhaps there had been a complaint about his work? Still not good, but better than what he was dreading. "Has anyone reported otherwise?"

"In a way," said Malla, sipping at her tea. "Your studies include freeing yourself from possessiveness, Temmin, and I am told you are failing in this regard. I have seen you failing in this regard myself."

"Oh."

"Well?" she said after a pause.

"I'm not sure what you mean. Perhaps you might tell me what the observers have found fault with in my dealings with petitioners."

Malla chuckled. "Never practice on the practiced, sweetheart--you can't evade me. The fault is not in your dealings with petitioners. With them, you are exemplary. With others..."

Comments

DiDi's picture

*sigh* I see the main issue with him now. When I remember it. He doesn't want to get over his emotions. That's the problem. Perhaps if he'd really desired it, things would have been different.

Amy's picture

Supplicant

You might be right about his lack of genuine desire to get over his feelings. But have you ever tried to get past your feelings of devoted love for someone when you not only see them every day, but often take very practicle and hands on sexual education from the one you are trying to get over?? It's almost impossible. Add in his families long standing history of loving very deeply and usually for all thei lives...and we are adding to Temmy's troubles...

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... about the near impossibility of the task set before Temmin. And given his future as King of Tremont, I wonder how... desirable completely ridding himself of "possessive love" actually is.

I can't shake the feeling that the Temple is failing him here. No-one even acknowledges that he already is unusually un-possessive and understanding of the limitations he's facing (even taking into account that he may very well be partially deluding himself). The only thing that's apparently good enough is 100% success.

DiDi's picture

No question. I can't even begin to imagine.

I just felt it would have behooved him to want to try and get over. I have no idea if Allis was avoiding him or if it was just happening conveniently but for example, reacting as he did when he wondered if that was the case...

Might have made it worse for him maybe. He could have went with that and used it to try and distance himself. Issak is a good example. Notice how good he's been at shutting himself down from Temmin, even though he obviously is a bit attached too? Temmin failed a bit there when he questioned by the other man was distancing himself so. It's as if Tem doesn't understand even though he oughta by now.

As for seeing how he's good in the other areas, I'm sure they've noticed and said stuff about it too. It's just that they noticed this stuff too and it seems to be a major issue. And major issues tend to have precedence.

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