ALICE CALVERT VILLIERS
There were times she wondered if her marriage might be different if her third child were to have never been born. Notwithstanding the near-death experience that was delivering her youngest, her third pregnancy had been the most difficult of them all. Surprising, considering how everyone and their house elves had insisted nearly the entire time her belly swelled for the first time that the first delivery would be terrifically arduous. It remained an elusive mystery why it was, then, with Oliver Henry and Tamsin, that she had been blessed with relatively quick, comfortable birthings.
Margo was a different story. From the set out, the strange, tingling sensation all over her body that had made her realise she was with child the first and second time was this time less tingling and more... literal pins and needles. For the next eight months, everything ached, as if her body was churning inside out in protest to having to carry yet another child so soon after the last. In hindsight, perhaps it had been a soundless cry of warning. Perhaps long before Alice herself saw the fissure cracks in her marriage that would eventually become an unbridgeable gulf, the most primal instincts of her biological existence had foreseen the future that would follow Margo's arrival into the family.
Then again, perhaps the fissures had started long before the Merlin-awful time in which she was juggling a young child and two babies, somehow unable to find any joy in motherhood and feeling even worser for it.
There was a name for it now, she heard—postpartum depression.
The pains she went through in carrying Margo made it small wonder that despite how unlike the sophisticated, self-assured woman she hoped Margo would be that Margo really was, and despite how Oliver and she had not quite began to drift apart until after Margo's birth no matter how early on signs had been there, Alice still loved her girl fiercely and dearly. In her mind, the mother liked to think that she loved all her children equally, but surely it cannot be done and any parent who dared claim to not have at least the slightest shade of preference must be a liar. Oliver certainly had his favourites. It took a blind, senile, and halfwit troll to miss the way her husband doted over their older daughter at his right side, the way the pair exchanged the odd look over some mention here and there in the conversation which suggested a secret or an inside joke only the two of them knew of.
At least no one had unleashed a snarky barb at another yet, or had put in the sufficient effort to keep any such barb artfully veiled, and they were already about finishing the main course in a five-course meal Alice had painstakingly devised to include all of Margo's favourite dishes. A successful birthday dinner, all in all, even if one did not wish to speak too soon.
(Though, fish and chips? What had she just been saying about Margo's anomaly? The matriarch insisted on using brill instead of cheap cod, but there was only so much one can do about fish and chips.)
"Don't stuff yourself if you're full," Alice reassured her birthday child who was given the seat of honour that Tamsin typically occupied on the left side of the family patriarch at the opposite head of the dining table. Margo's usual seat between her younger siblings was given instead to the littlest Eliza for the one special evening.
"We do have dessert, and cake, and might I say, I think the best dish for you is yet to come. Though now that I am saying it, that does rather give it away, doesn't it?" Instinctively, she glanced then to her fourth, her dearest, who sat right to her across from Oliver Henry on her left. For some reason, Arthur was the singular member of the family who despised anything overly sweet where the others had some degree of inclination toward a sweet tooth. "Don't worry, darling, we have something else for you, too, of course."
b. 1950 — pureblood aristocrat