After scrubbing one and a half shelves-worth of assorted vials and phials, Leafsong was bored out of her mind. Cleaning cloth in hand, ignoring the lapping of nausea in her belly, she peered over her shoulder surreptitiously. Her husband, reading glasses perched on the tip of his hooked nose, was sitting in the centre of the battered velvet sofa with storybook in hand. Flora and Loredar were huddled on his lap; Loredar appeared fast asleep but his sister’s round, bright eyes were fixated on her father’s face. Mirae was sitting to his left, the year-old girl absorbed in fiddling with the velvet edgings of his sleeve, her small fingers stroking the dark silk covetously. Only Analith was paying attention to his father, his ears pricked and expression alert.

“….And so the littlest Sentinel had the thanks of the whole regiment for beating the nasty Demon Lord. How her warrior friends cheered! “We are sorry for judging you based on your size,” the tallest one said. “We promise never to do so again. We are all equal!”

Aphel put the scroll down with a contemptuous snort, then raised it again as it was guided towards Mirae’s gummy mouth. “What a ridiculous tale. Runts are biologically and physically inferior. They are Nature’s mistakes. A drain on resources. Such a weak woman would never have been admitted to an elite Sentinels unit.”

Leafsong snickered at him, turning back to the shelf. “Oi. I weren’t exactly a strapping lass myself. I remember you called me “runty” in ‘Yjal!”

Tiring of tedious tidying, she quickly rearranged the shelf, shoving all grubby vials to the back. She noticed with some dismay, that her distorted reflection was sporting a lurid red spot above the right eyebrow.

“Well, you’re hardly ‘runty’ now.” observed Aphel archly, laying the storybook aside and extracting a strand of greying hair from Analith’s fist. His mate stopped poking at her forehead and turned to face him, flashing her snaggletoothed grin. At over seven foot, the height difference between them was negligible.

“Eh he, hardly. And the little ones, they ain’t runtish, neither. No weaklings in our litter!” she said proudly, wiping her fingers on the grubby cloth. Aphel nodded, looking down at the four warm, chubby infants; like fat little dumplings. For a brief second he felt the lurch of shock that struck him still from time to time; that -at eleven thousand- he was a father. This new responsibility nevet ceased to alarmed him. Now, in the years where he by all rights should be settling down to retirement, he was looking after not only a young wife, but four -four!- little offspring. They were so helpless, he reflected, looking at the tiny clenched fist of Flora. At least his mate, though skinny and sickly in youth, had proved to be surprisingly hardy. It was a cruel irony of her upbringing in extreme poverty; that it weakened your body and shrunk your stomach, but if you survived it, you grew resilient.

“Are you lookin’ at my spot?” Her gloomy voice interrupted his musing. He looked up, his grip tightening reflexively on Flora as he felt someone try and lift her away. Leafsong was hopping from foot to foot, looking grumpy, one hand clamped over her forehead. Shyla was attempting to extract the babies from his grip, to put them down for their nap. He leant back, allowing her to remove them one by one, ignoring the smile she shot him from beneath her lashes.

“I got decades left of this.” bemoaned Leafsong, turning around once more to study her reflection in the curved surface of a vial. “Centuries, probably! I am a repulsive leper.” She let out a hefty sigh and began fiddling with her pale green fringe, in need of a wash, trying to disguise the offending pimple.

A moment later, she felt arms encircle her waist, gripping her belly. Warm breath parted the wispy hairs not caught up in a ponytail, tickling the back of her neck.

“My darling,” he crooned, rubbing his thumb up and down her ear. “Remember last summer, when you had the Azerothian pox? You had many more spots then, and I still came to your sickbed in the middle of the night. You weren’t repulsive then, and you certainly aren’t now.” He leant her back against his body, resting his chin on her bony shoulder.

She nodded slowly, peering at his reflection in one of the gleaming vials. “I remember. Though if you hadn’t developed an immunity long ago, I doubt you’d’ve been so quick to mate.”

He grinned, pressing his lips to the bare skin of her shoulder. “Perhaps, perhaps not. Regardless-” here he pushed the worn strap of her vest down, sliding his palm over her breastbone. “- you make this old man very happy, spots or no.”


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Aphel said,

    Leafsong, just like you to me, makes Aphel very, very happy ^_^ ❤

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