Behind the bitterness on the face of her cousin, she could see pain. The anger was on the surface, but the turmoil within was so much more complicated. Ultimately, she could only offer support and comfort. The support, she knew Thea would accept, but the latter would need to be approached gently. Her cousin would not respond well to sympathy, which while Cordelia had, she knew it was not needed to display.
She found it interesting that the topic of Zev was avoided. Even in letters, mention of the baby Winterbourne had been brief and basic. It seemed that maternal instinct was not kicking in; but then again, she knew Thea never wanted to have a child. She could only hope that, as Zev grew and became more independent, and as Thea matured herself, the would be hope for a decent relationship between mother and son. That was, if the relationship was not damaged in the process.
"I would be happy to check in on Belcourt on my ride home. It's along the way. I can make sure things are situated and then be on my way. I know it is further from Redcroft than it is to Hart Helm, so I can make the occasional check-ins on your behalf. You may never want to return, but it shall become your son's some day."
She paused, the comment raising an idea.
"He is a babe, but you could name him Lord of Belcourt. You have Redcroft to your name. He can be raised knowing the duties of being a lord, appropriate of his station, and when he is old enough, he can make trips and eventually reside there. In the meantime, the steward can manage the day-to-day and you or I can make personal visits to ensure all is well. The boarders of the Hartlands and Beclourt are not far from each other, so I truly wouldn't mind."
It was fully in Dorathea's right to pass the title along. While it would not get the responsibility fully off her shoulders, she would never have to think of herself as Lady of Belcourt and perhaps, Cora thought, that would offer some relief.
"We both know why it didn't work last time.... Which is why we should do it differently this time. More... Properly. If you make the choice and it is reasonable, then Zuan will agree. I will be in your corner; I am his favourite - I'm sure that would help your case." She brushed a dark lock from her face before continuing. "If you want control over your life, this is how you do it. We are Winterbourne women. This station, whether you like it or not, offers us options. I was always going to be bond by Zuan's decision in regards to marriage. I am his first cousin and as an Everhart, I was a more... Appealing candidate. Eunice is gone. Zuan loves you. You may drive him to his wits end, but he does really love you. So... Find someone that's suitable and he will not say no.
Then you have your freedom."
Cordelia fell quiet, hoping her advice would at least be taken into consideration. Stubbornness was a family trait, but in the past year and a half, the two women had grown close again. Perhaps just close enough for Thea to listen.
The mention of tea drew her gaze longingly to the door, to find that the servant had yet to return with the tea. Disappointed, she looked back to Thea, realizing the shift of drinks in her statement. She could feel a bit of heat rise to her cheeks. She bit her lip out of amusement - a habit that she had stopped when she was a child that she found sprung back up around her cousins.
"Rum pairs nicely with this tea, so you could enjoy both together. I, however.. Will be sticking only to tea." She paused, face brightening and the heavy conversation from moments before long gone from her mind. "I wanted to tell you in person: I am expecting!"
Lady Cordelia "Cora" Zabel Winterbourne Everhart-Gellygen of Hart Helm, the Horned Wolf
Cousin to High King Zuan, Zhou, Ambra, Dahlia, Trinity, Serafay, & Thea
Big Sister to Elisabeth “Elisa” | Married to Rhozin Gellygen of Kiene