Tiran was asleep, and it looked as though Taerin would soon follow. Lei'lira smiled sadly, and nodded.
"It was like a dream, wasn't it? Father used to always tell us that we might have been born nobles, but it was up to us to plot our own course. That we could be whoever, and whatever we wished. And above all else to be true to ourselves. But a noble...a noble is none of those things. And I can't do it. I really can't, Vivian. All those endless parties, and the talk of who is seeing who, or who is wearing what. It belongs to a world I will never understand. I don't even want to try. My biggest dream is to build a horse breeding farm that will one day rival Meadow Farms. I have no place in Andaris among the other houses. I can't pretend to be something I'm not. Nor can I attend a party that the king might show up at and pretend that everything is okay when all I want to do is scream at him for hurting Lazuli. I will never understand how Grandmother can support him. I'm no kind of noble. Perhaps I never was. And for that, I will never be more than a disappointment to our family. I could never hurt Lazuli, or you, but if it weren't for the two of you, I would sever all ties to the Warricks, and stop being a noble if I could. I can never be what they want me to be." she said quietly.
When Vivian asked about Drayas, Lei'lira paled. Her husband was a source of terror for her, and she was only too happy for him to stay in Andaris being the noble he wanted to be if it meant that he would leave her alone.
"Drayas is..." Lei'lira shuddered, and shook her head, trying to gather her thoughts.
"Drayas wants what a husband can be expected to want from a noble woman; an obedient wife who willingly warms his bed, gives him heirs, and supports him when he needs it. I'm useless to him in Andaris. I can't give him the connections he wants to the other nobles. I don't really know them myself, so how can I use connections that don't exist to further his business? And I can't..."
Lei'lira shuddered again. Even talking about sex was enough to terrify her.
"The bandits...I think they broke something in me, Vivian. The thought of having sex terrifies me. Actually giving Drayas what he wants...I can't do it. Not willingly."
Lei'lira was unaware of it, but she had begun to tremble as she spoke. Her voice faded to little more than a frightened whisper.
"So he takes what he wants. Every time he returns from Andaris, he..."
Lei'lira made a half aborted bitter sound.
"I would call it rape. Just like what the bandits did. But because we're married, it's legal. If you were to ask Grandmother, she'd say it was his right to claim what he wants because we're married. That I should want to please him...to give him the heirs that he deserves. And it hurts when he claims his "rights." Every single time. It hurts for trials afterwards, too. It angers him that I don't want him that way, so he uses the pain to punish me. If he's drunk, or if he's in a bad mood when he comes back...and he usually is...it's worse. Nothing I do pleases him then, and he's sure to punish me for that, too. I never know when he will return, so I never feel safe anymore. Not even here."
Her hand crept up to the right side of her neck. It was mostly faded now, but there was a large bruise that was suspiciously hand shaped that still lingered there from when he had tried to choke her into silence when he used her a few weeks ago. It had succeeded when she passed out, but she would always remember the sheer terror that had overwhelmed her when she had been unable to breathe.
"I can't fight back. I'm not strong enough. And when I try to resist, it drives him into a rage. His punishments are even worse, then. I tried to tell our family once. They told me that he was my husband, and that it was my duty to be a good wife to him. That I shouldn't shame our family. That's another reason why I can't trust them, Vivian. If they take his side again...I don't think I could bear it."
Lei'lira was crying softly now. She was exhausted, and still weak from giving birth. Her emotions were too close to the surface for her to have any hope of hiding them, as she might try to otherwise.