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Few valuables were left to the Vorkosigans. Piotr could remember elegance from his childhood: a sense of material abandon. Jewels around his mother's neck, her gorgeous satin gowns. Their wealth now was in their reputation, their honour, their service to the Emperor. Nothing was left of their past glory - yes, the Vorkosigan family had been wealthy in the past. Art that no longer existed - or perhaps existed on someone else's walls. He had heard his father's stories. Conspicuous consumption, a time of glamour and glory without stint.
Now, with a civil war behind them and the Cetagandan invasion before that, and the crippling taxes of Mad Yuri - the Vorkosigans could hardly be called paupers, but they were not materially wealthy. Piotr knew the value of going to bed with a full stomach. He'd had the other kind of life, often enough.
They were mostly debt-free, but money-poor. The Vorkosigan family jewels were down to a few pieces, the rest stolen or sold. His own signet remained. And this wedding band... It had been his mother's . The thugs who had killed his wife had not stolen it from her finger; loyal servants had brought it back to him, and it had gone to Aral's bride, the lovely Renée Vorrutyer.
What a bad idea that match had been: the scheming slut. Piotr suspected, now, that she'd married Aral for the money he thought he had - and then punished him cruelly for his poverty and his dedication to duty.
At the time, he'd watched Aral put the ring on Renée's hand with a warm mixture of pride and relief. At last, Aral had found a woman he could love - and he did love her, you could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice. There would be in time, he had thought, Vorkosigan children in the house once again, replacing those taken long ago by war and disease.
Ashes now. The lying whore was dead, childless but bringing no more shame to the family. And Aral - too hurt to recover, too angry to trust another wife, too honest and too inclined towards men to truly want another marriage - Aral had at least stopped bedding her brother, a wild young man who could only bring him more heartbreak and shame than even Renée had managed.
The Vorkosigan marriage ring lay waiting for the second wife Aral would almost certainly never have.
With a sigh, Piotr put it back into its satin bed. Patience was the key. Whatever fate awaited Aral, there was no way to rush it.
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Character: Aral Vorkosigan
Fandom: Vorkosigan novels by Lois McMaster Bujold
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