Happily ever after, no kids


One of my romance spaces was talking about romances that don’t presume a child is necessary for the happily-ever-after of the romance. If you’ve read my work, obviously I’ve got a mix in here. I thought it might be interesting to talk about the variations. 

(I obviously think people can find happiness in a whole bunch of different configurations and life choices. My characters make a wide range of choices, both in the immediate aftermath of a book and further down the road.)

Cover of In The Cards displayed in a gleaming silver frame, with purple flowers on the right and a purple velvet high-heeled shoes.

A note, to start

Obviously, some of my romantic pairings have kids. While it’s possible to pass the land magic connections without having a bloodline connection, it’s a bit trickier and less certain. (It would likely be easier for an adopted child who’s grown up on the land than a distant relative who hasn’t, though.) That does mean that several families do have a certain amount of “We should try to have some kids” as part of their planning. 

For purposes of this post being a reasonable length, I’m just focusing here on those couples who don’t have kids and who aren’t in a parental role to anyone. (Alexander, for example, does not have kids of his own, but he’s in a semi-parental role to several in the 1930s and through the 1940s.) I’m also leaving out our teenage protagonists of The Magic of Four because they’re all fourteen in my head right now. I have no idea what their specific futures look like.

Life without kids

Since I don’t know what books you have or haven’t read, I’m listing the couples (alphabetical by first name) below and the book using spoiler codes. Click on the plus signs below to read the specifics for each couple and book.

Adam and Thalia : Mistress of Birds

Both Thalia and Adam are living with PTSD, more than a decade after the Great War. Both of them have trouble with sudden noises or shifts, and both of them have some physical symptoms that make taking care of small babies particularly challenging. They make the decision not to have children, but turn their home into a place where artists, writers, and others can get away for a bit and figure out their lives.

Anna and Una : A Dog’s Chance

Anna and Una are lesbian protagonists in a short story available through my newsletter extras. (Click on the link for more info on how to get it, or if you’re already getting my newsletter, links to all of the extras are at the top and bottom of every email since June 2022.) They have a small menagerie, a lot of artistic friends, and a very large dog.

Beatrice and Robin : Fool’s Gold

Beatrice has a generational curse on her, and she’s not sure how that’d interact with Robin’s nature as a Cousin. They’re unlikely to have children.

Robin might be a reasonably redeemed sort these days, but he does get into fits of ignoring the world due to painting, and that’s not great for childrearing.

Benton and Cassie : On The Bias

Both Benton and Cassie are committed to professional choices that make it difficult to raise children. They both also care about mentoring others in their respective fields, and prefer to do that with adults. (Though Benton, in particular, is also a respected adult for many of the kids growing up at Ytene.)

Cadmus and Vivian : Seven Sisters

Cadmus has been guardian for his nephew since Farran was about 10. By the time Vivian meets Farran, he’s more or less a grown up. Both Cadmus and Vivian have their own lives and they are not living together routinely (instead, for a week or two at a time, then on their own again, depending on the needs of the moment).

And Vivian’s a Cousin, so it’s harder to be certain, but she’s probably past childbearing age. (Honestly, with these two, I’m not sure what degree of sex or intimacy they actually settle on, beyond being in bed reading together. Which is a very fine form, don’t get me wrong.)

Cyrus and Mabyn : The Hare and the Oak

Cyrus’s wife Tanith died in childbirth with their daughter Gemma, and that had a huge impact on both Cyrus’s and Gemma’s life and choices.

Mabyn had one son with her late husband. By the time she and Cyrus become involved, she’s well past childbearing age, but also she wouldn’t want to try again if she could.

Gil and Magni : Four Walls and a Heart

I’m writing this as I get Four Walls and a Heart ready for publication. Honestly, neither Gil nor Magni particularly thinks about kids, though they very much like being uncles once Gabe and Charlotte are old enough for conversation.

Laura and Martin : In The Cards

Laura and Martin make a deliberate choice not to have children. It was possible to have children after extended care for tuberculosis, but there was a chance of pregnancy activating it again (and in Laura’s case, she had surgery with some scarring that would make shifts in the ribcage and torso more painful.)

They also both have work and commitments that take them away from home for a week or three at a time, much easier to juggle when it’s just the two of them.

Mason and Rosemary : Complementary

Elizabeth Mason and Rosemary Ditson are another lesbian couple, and don’t seek out options for that. Mason is committed to her work (and a lot of the magical work of a Penelope is a bad fit during pregnancy, due to the risks of unknown magic).

Rosemary is a midwife, but she likes the part where she can give the baby back to the loving parents and go put her feet up when things are settled.

Both of them do enjoy being chosen aunts to Gabe and Charlotte Edgarton, and later to their respective children. Again, when they get to give them back after a pleasant afternoon.

And a couple of secondary couples

(Several of these couples were dealing with difficulties around fertility and miscarriage, additional details in the spoilered notes).

Agatha Witt is not in a romantic (or sexual) relationship, saving her energy for her professional partnership with Elizabeth Mason.

Lapidoth Manse has spent his adult life in MI6, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for parenting. Or much else, honestly.

Livia and Garin Fortier

As noted in With All Due Speed, an extra for Thesan and Isembard’s courtship after Eclipse, Livia miscarried three times, and they have no children. This increased the pressure on Isembard to have children who could inherit the title and land magic.

Margot and Reynold Williams (Bound for Perdition and an upcoming title)

As noted in the upcoming Three Graces Reynold comes from the sort of family that breeds for magic. However, he and Margot have no children, for reasons unspecified.

Medea and Wallington Aylett

Alchemy labs are not particularly encouraging to pregnancy, especially when you’re doing highly experimental work. Both Medea and Wallington were spending a lot of their lives at that, until his death.

Temple and Delphina Carillon

It’s very likely that Temple and Delphina were dealing with infertility issues before the Great War, but Temple’s experiences during the war certainly didn’t help matters at all. More details forthcoming in Three Graces about what he was up to.

People I’m not sure about (yet)

There are also some couples where I’m not entirely sure about what they’re up to, or don’t have all the details yet.

Lydia and Galen (Point by Point) might have kids. They might not. Both of them have active projects of their own, of the sort that don’t lead to being home reliably. And both of them definitely need some time to figure out how to be partners before they’re parents.

Hippolyta FitzRanulf, well, I’m not clear if she’s married, partnered, or what. She does take an interest in her half-siblings and their children, but she’s deeply dubious of the concept of marrying for familial legacy reasons.

When Illusion of a Boar (coming in November 2023) opens, our four point of view characters are all in their thirties, and two of them married in the 1930s. Orion Sisley has two young children who have barely seen him since the start of the Second World War. Claudio Warren has a son in tutoring school and a younger daughter. (And the same problem with being posted away from them for year.) Cammie Gates and Hypatia Ward are unmarried and without children.

I have thoughts about what happens after the end of the book, and some of that will probably come out down the road.

Questions about any of this, please let me know! I’m glad to do a deeper dive into specific situations on request.

By Celia

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