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Great and Terrible, G

Summary: He is a great and terrible bear.

Many legends have arisen around the great and terrible Lord Theodore.

He likes it this way. Or, so they say. That way, people are much less likely to suspect that he is lord of - well, nothing at all. That isn't to say he hasn't come very close to lording over a multitude of properties. It remains to this day the favourite threat of King Jonathan IV - "Raoul, if you decide to dress yourself in curtains one more time, I'm going to sign Goldenlake over to Lord Theodore".

Lord Theodore doesn't know this, however. Nor does he know that Douglass's yearmates termed him smug and arrogant, for the same facial expression that has always seemed kind and benevolent to the youngest Veldine.

For all his faults (and even Douglass has ascribed him a few), Lord Theodore is, above everything else, a good listener. Maura is quick to discover this, and Douglass happens upon her several times in those first awkward months, confiding her worries to the bear. He wonders if she notices that Lord Theodore is increasingly spending time alone in the hope of inviting these confidences. Perhaps she doesn't care, or perhaps the novelty of finding the lord one day engrossed in a chess game, and the next looking contemplatively out of the window is enough.

Eventually, Douglass trades places with Lord Theodore in Maura's confidences - for all Lord Theodore's virtues, the fact remains that he is not a good talker.

Sometimes, Lord Theodore's silence comes in useful - like when Maura wants to talk about Alan for hours on end, without Douglass's rolled eyes and sharp replies. She doesn't notice Lord Theodore's increasingly glassy eyes.

Alan, when he joins the family, likes to read Lord Theodore romance novels - partly to infuriate Douglass, and partly as an excuse to act out some of the more outlandish scenes. He explains to Maura that this is for and not with Lord Theodore, but never quite lives it down.

The bear cannot explain to Alan's daughter that he has heard these old stories before, but he likes it so much when she curls up with him by the fire that maybe he would not explain even if he had the means. Rilla is his darling, and she treats him with the sort of reverence befitting a bear of his rank. Or, this is how Douglass phrases it anyway. Lord Theodore does not share the same affection for Ansis, who firstly is complicit in Theodore the Younger's kidnappings of his namesake, and secondly - having growing fond of the art of theft - steals dear Rilla away from Dunlath.

Lord Theodore wishes he had warned Rilla of boys with dancing eyes and an affinity for romance novels - or were jokes Ansis's poison of choice? Nonetheless, when Theodore the Lesser continues his fiendish kidnapping ways (only now he likes to talk to the lord, rather than hang him in the well), Lord Theodore stays determinedly silent. He has learnt from Maura and Rilla that this is the fastest way to ensure Theodore the Considerably Less Significant's romantic entanglements are resolved, and he hopes (against hope, because Douglass tells him that Theodore the Brute will be Lord of Dunlath one day) that this will take him from the fief.

It doesn't. Theodore the Most Terrible Bore adds to the fief, bringing a girl of many names - Douglass and therefore Lord Theodore settle on 'Ducky'.

Lord Theodore hates her. She has an imperious way about her, and takes up so much room that there will be none for Rilla, should she tire of the Cavall boy. Douglass, traitor that he is, simply adores her, and devotes hours to teaching Ducky about the fief.

One day, Douglass goes away, and nobody explains to Lord Theodore when he will be coming back. He waits. The fief is quiet for a time, dark, and in these long hours, Ducky waits with him. She loses her sharpness, her edges, and sits on the floor of Douglass's study, hugging Lord Theodore to her.

Ducky is not such lively company as Douglass, and Lord Theodore misses his friend keenly. There are, however, echoes of childhood companions in her, and sometimes he might glimpse Cythera in the tender way she treats the Other Theodore, or Gary in the sharpness of her tone to Clarisse (the Monster).

It's not such a bad life, Lord Theodore thinks, as his rival finally catches up, and also becomes Lord Theodore. Ducky kindly differentiates between the two of them, though, and calls Theodore the Taller, "Teddy". Lord Theodore in his infinite wisdom knows that she does this for his sake.

Ducky's resistance is probably why he gets packed off to Corus with sticky-fingered Corene, but Lord Theodore finds, looking round at the familiar walls, that he doesn't exactly mind.


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