Something that bothers me in popular YA fiction is that most of the parents in novels are jerks. Or they’re dead. Or just ‘don’t understand’. Or they’re control freaks. Or they just barely even exist. I know a lot of teenagers feel that way about their parents, but in truth, not all parents truly are that.
I wanted so bad to NOT fall into that stereotype. I wanted my characters to have cool, awesome, wonderful parents. At first I didn’t know how to make them that way, so most of them got killed off, but I’ve noticed in my book Illuminata, Nevaeh’s parents are great. I didn’t even mean for them to be so, it just happened.
This post is not to brag about my accomplishment in this area, but to give an example how characters parents can be good, but they don’t hinder the storyline or try to break up the couple. (Okay, maybe Regent tried a little, but that’s not the point.) Nevaeh’s parents accepted Regillion and forgave him. They didn’t ground Nevaeh for a month and forbid them from seeing each other. Yes, they were both reprimanded for their inappropriate actions, but not because her parents wanted to control her. It was because they loved her and wanted to keep her safe.
Nevaeh turned her head toward her mother and smiled. “I missed you, Mumma.”
Monnami sat down on the bed and ran her fingers through her daughter’s hair. “I know you did. I missed you too.”
Nevaeh sighed and closed her eyes, soaking in Monnami’s touch. “Now I know why Regillion likes it when I pet him.”
The queen smiled. “He really means something to you, doesn’t he?”
Nevaeh’s eyes opened and she looked up at her mother. “Yes… I think so.”
“Your father wouldn’t agree with me, but I think this experience has been good for you.”
“You’ve changed, Veh. You’re more confident, outspoken. You’ve always been strong willed but now you aren’t a spoiled child. You’re a beautiful woman and you’ve learned how to use your strong will for good.”
Nevaeh looked up at the ceiling again. “I can tell I’ve changed… certain things aren’t important to me anymore and others are… but I don’t understand–”
“You will, child.” Monni said, gently placing her fingertips on Nevaeh’s lips. “When you’re a mother and you see your daughter grow up, you’ll understand.”
Monnami’s voice halted the king as he entered their dim tent. His eyes searched the interior until her body was illuminated by a slight glow, revealing her sitting on the low table.
He tossed his outer coat off and dropped into a chair to pull his boots off. “I know you’re not happy with me.”
“I didn’t plan to talk about that.” She answered, still glowing.
He leaned back with a sigh. “What do you want to talk about then?”
“Do you know who Regillion is?” She asked, not looking at him but instead fixing her gaze on some middle distance between herself and the door.
“Monni…” Regent groaned, passing his hand over his eyes. “Are you really going to bring him up again?”
“Yes, I am.” She replied. “There are things you do not know about him.”
“Like what?” He asked, resigned to the fact that she wouldn’t let him go to bed without listening to her.
“The fact that he’s crying right now.” The queen said calmly.
Regent frowned. “What?”
“He’s crying right now, Regent. He hasn’t made it back to his home yet. He’s near the coast, laying on the ground, with the dragon nearby, sobbing his heart out.”
“You can see him?”
She nodded and beckoned him closer. Regent rose and came to stand behind her. After a moment he saw what she had been staring at. In the same green-ish glow that illuminated her, he saw his daughter’s kidnapper prostrate on the ground, his shoulders shaking. The dragon lay beside him, one wing stretched over his master. Though the vision came with no sound, it was no less disturbing or gut wrenching.
“He’s a man.” Regent whispered in near disgust. “Reduced to tears because he let his captive remain with her family?”
Monnami spun around and the scene vanished as her gaze left it. “Regent, can you not see?” She demanded, staring up at him, her gaze intense and irises as grey as stone. “He loves Nevaeh, and Nevaeh loves him. He needs her. She tried to tell you but you wouldn’t listen. He was unstable before, now I fear for the very lives of whoever lives with him. Regent, you have no idea the haunting fears that plague him every day. Nevaeh was his light. She chased that dark abyss away. He knows this. He knows he will crumble into a worse mess than he was before he took her. And yet he still left her here because he thought it was what she wanted. He thought it was best for her.” She stood up, towering a foot over her husband. “At his own loss he gave her back; forced her to stay. Is that not the very definition of love?”
The queen smiled. “He loves you, child.”
Nevaeh glanced down at the floor, idly picking at the coverlet of her bed. “Not… like… romantically though, right?”
Monni gently cupped her daughter’s chin and tilted her head up. “You tell me.” she whispered, her gaze locking with Nevaeh’s. “What does your heart tell you?”
The princess blinked but held her mother’s gaze. “I love him.”
Monnami smiled. “I know you do.”
“I could tell the first time I saw you two together. When you hugged him right after getting off the dragon. Everyone can see it.”
Nevaeh’s eyes flew wide. “Everyone?” She gasped.
“Why do you think your brother hates him so much?”
Nevaeh dropped the last page on her bed and clamped her hands over her mouth, trying to quell her sobs. A movement by the door caught her eyes and she looked up to see Monnami there, watching her.
“Mumma,” she choked out. “Mumma, read these.”
Monnami came forward and cleared a space on the bed for her to sit beside her daughter. “I don’t need to.” She whispered, stroking Nevaeh’s hair. “I know what they say just from this.” she caught one of Nevaeh’s tears on her finger.
“He said he wanted to kill himself because he was hurting the servants.”
Monnami smiled, her eyes a warm sunshine-yellow. “He’s a beautiful person, child. I know he’ll take good care of you.”
“You’re not worried because he has fits?” Nevaeh asked.
Her mother shook her head. “In time, those fits will go away, with your help. He just needs someone to anchor himself on, to stabilize him, and he’s chosen you.”
Nevaeh rested her head on Monnami’s shoulder and slowly her breathing returned to normal. “I’m so glad he’s back.” she whispered. “I was so worried.”
“I know you were. Because you care about him.”
“What’s father talking to him about?”
“Probably the problem of him breaking into your room in the middle of the night.”
Regent roughly wrapped his arms around the duke’s shoulders, feeling the quivering Regillion was trying so hard to hide.
Regillion gasped but didn’t push away, momentarily shocked. “Why don’t you hate me?”
Regent pulled back and placed his hands on the younger man’s shoulders again. “Your father and I were very close friends. I remember you as a boy. Monni and I both do. We know what you went through, and though I don’t approve of everything you’ve done, I believe you could have turned out a lot worse.”
Regillion squeezed his eyes shut. Would his father have embraced him, had he lived? Would he be ashamed of what his son had become, or would he be–
“Your father would be proud of you.”
A tear slipped down his face, but he wasn’t ashamed. Slowly, he turned away from Regent and walked toward the door.
“Aren’t you going to ask me something?” Regent called.
Regillion stopped. “I can’t expect that much from you.”
“You might not, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to give her to you.”
He turned around and looked at Regent again. “You’ll let her marry me?” He whispered.
“Yes, I would, son.”
He stood for several minutes, unable to speak. When he finally could, all he could ask was, “She doesn’t deserve me.”
“She wouldn’t have anyone else.”
He swallowed, breathing raggedly through his mouth, and pulled her closer so he could lean his forehead against hers. She felt his breath wash over her face and closed her eyes.
They stood together in the hallway, both having lost track of time, and no one disturbed them. That might have been partially due to Monnami watching them through her visions and telling the servants to block off that portion of the hall to that no one would see them.