Fic: A Brother Is Born for Adversity
Title: A Brother Is Born For Adversity
Summary: Being a Brief Correspondence between Lady Cordelia Vorkosigan and her Brother, Benedict Naismith, following Shards of Honor.
Disclaimer: The Vorkosigan saga and all its characters belong to Lois McMaster Bujold. I am but a humble student playing in her sandbox. I lay no claim to anything here except, perhaps, Ben's general character.
Notes: It's always scary writing in a new fandom, isn't it? On top of that, this is unbeta'd since my regular betas either haven't been introduced to the Vorkosigan saga (not for lack of my trying) or haven't read Shards of Honor. Please be gentle with me.
Cordelia's brother is mentioned a couple times during the series, but never by name, and we never meet him. So I decided to give him a day in the sun. This was the result. Pretty much all details about him have been made up by me.
What the hell were you thinking, running off without a word like that? We were worried sick! If you hadn’t written Mother we’d still be thinking you were dead in a ditch or kidnapped by evil Barrayarans or something like that. At least leave a note, Cordy. Tell us you’re only kidnapping yourself for the evil Barrayarans. Then we wouldn’t worry.
Seriously, though, are you all right? Safe and in one piece? Why Barrayar, of all places? Couldn’t you pick somewhere a little less crazy?
I send you all of my thoroughly exasperated love.
You try being drugged, manipulated, and threatened with forced hospitalization by your own side. Your own family even. See how you do, and then we’ll talk.
PS: We don’t even have ditches on Beta Colony. Nice try. C.
Okay, so, Mehta’s a nutcase. Even her own colleagues think that. She pulled strings to get your case, and believe me, if I’d known about that before you left I’d’ve kicked up a stink and a half. But you’ve got to admit that it does seem a little suspicious.
Not that you fell in love. Put your hackles down. I mean that you fell in love so fast—it was what, three days?—and, to be honest, who you fell in love with. A Barrayaran? A Barrayaran officer? Admiral Vorkosigan, the Butcher of Komarr? You have to see where we’re coming from.
In short, I don’t buy brainwashed, never did, don’t know why Mother did either (she didn’t discuss it with me, and believe me, I wish she had), but I am worried about you and I do want to know that you’re all right. Barrayar treating you well and all that.
Regarding your postscript, it is quite conceivable that you could have been dead in a ditch, regardless of the presence or absence of ditches on Beta Colony. After all, you did vanish off the face of the planet.
It wasn’t three days, it was, all told, a week. Maybe a little less. And don’t you call him that. There was a hell of a lot more to Komarr that you don’t know and frankly aren’t likely to find out unless you get a lot more open-minded and a lot freer with the bribes. Suffice to say that the story about the massacre isn’t true, and I don’t want to hear that name from you of all people.
To answer your question: yes, I’m safe, and yes, I’m happy here. You can relax now.
Now, to answer your question more fully: I’m not happy to be here, per se. Barrayar is extremely strange, coming off Beta Colony, and it takes a great deal of getting used to. But I promise you that I’m happy, and it doesn’t seem likely to change in the foreseeable future. I really am in love, so is he, we’re married, I intend to live the rest of my life with him, et cetera. Recall what you said about Emma when you first met her and reverse the genders, there’s a dear.
Thank you for believing me, by the by. I haven’t heard from Mother, and I have a sneaking suspicion that she still doesn’t think I’m of completely sound mind. Do me a favor and strive to convince her that I know what I’m doing and I stand by my decisions.
Please don’t call me Cordy. I never liked that nickname and you know it.
You are my baby sister and I shall call you what I like.
You never really seemed the type to get brainwashed, to me. I always pictured that happening to weak wimpy types, like Marianne Steele. Remember her? I wonder where she’s got to. Probably nowhere as interesting as where you’ve fetched up. You’re really happy there? Your Barrayaran is treating you well? Noted and logged about That Name, by the way; I’ll be referring to him as ‘your Barrayaran’ from here on out, if that suits your ladyship.
Emma sends her love. So does Mother, in a rather grudging, roundabout way (all right, so she thinks I’m writing to cousin Amelia, sue me).
Speaking of lawsuits. I’m thinking of bringing one against Mehta. Your marriage should be proof enough that all her fantasies were just that. Do you suppose it’d go anywhere? I’ll split the profits if it does.
I will do my best to convince Mother that you’re happy, healthy, and not remotely brainwashed as soon as you convince me that you know what you’re doing.
Don’t push me, Benedict Naismith. Remember that when I see the words “baby sister” or “Cordy,” my mind interprets them as “Cordelia hasn’t punched me enough lately.” Now, it is very hard to punch someone across six wormholes and God only knows how much space, but rest assured that I will find a way.
In order. Yes, I’m really happy. Yes, really. Yes, really really. That should take care of your next three letters, so kindly skip them.
Yes, my Barrayaran (his name is Aral, incidentally, and you might make an effort to remember that since he’s your brother-in-law) is treating me very well. I refuse to go into detail about that; I’m sure you can fill it in for yourself. We live at Vorkosigan Surleau, mostly—that’s the country house—but I’ve been up to Vorkosigan House in the capital every so often and it’s an impressive place. I’ll try to send pictures next time. That should convince you that I am neither mistreated nor starving in the street.
Send my love back to Emma, and kiss my niece for me. Same for Mother whenever you get around to telling her it’s me you’re writing to.
The lawsuit isn’t a bad idea, but I don’t think you’d get anywhere since you aren’t the wronged party. Sisters move away all the time, and if my move was a little more precipitate than most of them, well, that happens. I don’t think you could make a strong argument for my being wronged either, since I have materially bettered my situation as a direct result of Mehta’s actions. Anyway, I’m not technically a citizen of Beta Colony anymore. You could try for emotional damage, I suppose, and see if that gets you anywhere. Keep the profits, if any. I don’t need or want them.
Yes, Ben, I know what I’m doing. I knew what I was doing when I stuck Mehta’s face into my aquarium, I knew what I was doing when I sneaked onto that freighter and I knew what I was doing when I married Aral. I have, in effect, cut myself off from Beta Colony, apart from letters (and I wouldn’t be surprised if these are being read. Hello, counterintelligence! Hope you’re enjoying this little chat). Really, I think my mistake was coming back to Beta Colony at all. I should’ve just said yes the first time. Would have saved us all a lot of trouble.
I really don’t know how to convince you that this was the right and only choice to make, for me. I suppose I can only say that it was, and is.
See? No Cordy. Even a blockhead learns if you hit him enough.
It’s not that I don’t believe you, sister dear. It’s that I question your sanity. No, Mother hasn’t convinced me that Mehta was right. It’s just… Barrayar. Really? I can’t understand what you see in it, beyond your Barrayaran. If truth be told, I can’t understand what you see in him, either, but then I am your older brother. I gather I’m not supposed to.
I mean, yes, he’s rich. You’ll never want for anything again. Is that what you wanted? It doesn’t seem at all like you. None of this seems like you.
I guess I just can’t figure out what you want, Cordelia. I think if I could figure that out, it would be easier to accept.
It’s quite simple. I want to love and be loved, and to live with the man I love. That’s it.
His wealth or lack thereof has nothing to do with it (and really, Ben, I think I’m offended that you even brought it up. I’m not a gold-digger, thank you very much). I love him, and that is that. I can’t explain why or how any more than you could, when you fell in love with Emma.
As for what I see in Barrayar, it’s Aral. End of story. I don’t like the planet any more than you do, but you couldn’t pry Aral off it with a crowbar, so I’ll take the bad with the good. Besides, I think I can do some good here. Maybe change it for the better. I’ve got all sorts of interesting ideas.
So. That’s it. I love him, therefore I came to Barrayar, and I love him, therefore on Barrayar I will stay. Does that finally answer your question?
PS: Quite frankly, Lady Vorkosigan isn’t that great either. Have you considered using my name? C.
PPS: Oh, by the way, I keep forgetting to tell you that I’m pregnant. The doctor says it’s a boy. C.
I… think I see now. I’ll talk to Mother.
I’m glad that you’ve found love, sweetheart, honestly. You always looked so hard for it, and you never really got it, not that I could see. So if your Barrayaran loves you—really loves you—I’ll be willing to put up with a great deal for that, for your sake.
I wish you every happiness in the world.
Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan.
What is this about being pregnant?
Quit hiding the most important news in the postscripts, dammit! Or I swear I’ll come over there and do something unspecified but nasty!
You do realize other people read my mail, right? Threatening me is not the wisest of moves.
All my love;
I repeat, you are my baby sister and I shall threaten you all I like.