(This story is related to the "Three-Mating of Kestrel, Snowfall, and True Edge" storyline -- see listing for related stories.)
It was the sound of the wind which first roused True Edge from his dreams. He opened his eyes a bit to look about and see what the noise was, still not quite sure where he was or what was going on. It took him only a few breaths' worth of time to realize that he was in his own den, the one he shared with his two mates, and that a big storm was brewing outside. With him in the furs, in a warm and comfortable tangle of limbs, were Snowfall and Kestrel. They likewise began to make groggy, complaining noises as his shifting about and the sound of the weather outside disturbed their own sleep.
Slipping out of the furs, he crept over towards the opening in the den and untied the hide flap for a better look outside. Sure enough, the rain was coming down hard and the wind was strong enough that it would be hard to walk against. The sun was up, he knew, but one couldn’t tell it from looking at the sky. It was dark and foreboding, telling of more ugly weather to come. As he watched, lightning struck in the distance, and moments later a bone rattling peal of thunder followed.
“Does it look as bad as it sounds?” Kestrel mumbled from where she still lay under the furs with Snowfall.
“Worse, if you can imagine that,” True Edge replied. “It probably won't blow over till well after the moons are up.”
With that, he crawled back under the furs and settled in again. There had been plenty of warning of a storm coming in and the elves, being as nature-wise as they were, had stayed close to home and would wait for it to pass.
“Well, I’m glad for it,” Snowfall said as she wrapped an arm around each of them. “It’s rare enough that we all get to spend time together. It’s been what, six, maybe seven moons and we’ve only had a couple of hands of times we all three were here for more then a day together?”
It was true. The three of them had been together for the passage of half the seasons, but their duties usually kept one or the other away for odd stretches of time. It was uncommon for them all to be there at once and they had been making the most of it. That wasn’t to say that it was always idyllic between them. As expected, True Edge’s pride and Kestrel’s independence sometimes made the two of them butt heads. Snowfall always managed to play the mediator, though, and helped these two who were most dear to her to see past their differences. Much to the surprise of some, they had actually forged a strong bond of their own. This, when coupled with the bond they both had with Snowfall, was going a long way towards making them the family they were trying to build.
“It is nice,” True Edge agreed as he settled into a comfortable position. “At least one of us will always be here once Fadestar is back. That will make it easier on her.”
All was silent between them for a moment. Thoughts of Fadestar, who would join them once she was freed from the wrapstuff, filled their minds. True Edge felt a bit uneasy, not knowing if the girl would accept him as a parent figure or not, but he was determined to do what he could for her as surely as Kestrel and Snowfall would.
“You already sound like a father,” Kestrel murmured from the warmth of their shared embrace. “I’m glad. She will need us all, and you’ll make a good father for her, I think.”
True Edge chuckled a bit as he replied.
“Let's hope so. I did have some experience at it you know.” Then, kind of as an afterthought, he added, “At least I intend to do the best job I can. Parenting is never easy but nothing stops me when my mind is set to something.”
They both looked at him for a moment before Snowfall finally spoke again.
“True enough, beloved. You’re the hardest-headed elf I’ve ever known but your heart is kind despite your prickly manner.”
Kestrel tried to suppress a chuckle at that and failed. True Edge merely rolled his eyes.
“Prickly indeed. I might be stubborn but I never stop when I want something. How else do you think I won you?” he said with a playful poke to Snowfall's ribs.
“Recognition, of course. Though if anyone could have forced it I imagine it would have been you.”
Kestrel listened to their exchange until a thought occurred to her.
“Well, I don’t know about forcing Recognition, but he was always smitten with you, Snowfall. We all knew it, even if you couldn’t tell. When the two of you Recognized I was hardly surprised.”
Now it was Snowfall’s turn to sink into thoughtful silence as she considered this. She had always considered herself and True Edge to be nearly opposites at that point in their lives. They always argued if left alone for any length of time, but she had realized that he was attracted to her even then. It just seemed to be his way to be difficult to get along with till someone could get past the defensiveness of his mannerisms. Recognition had helped them past the hurdle that she was now trying to help Kestrel and True Edge clear through diplomacy.
“Yes, I remember now…..you were always underfoot and I never understood why. There were other girls in the tribe. Why did you persist so when all we did was fight? I’m glad you did, of course, but now I’m wondering. What drew you to me?”
He was silent for what seemed to be a long time. His two denmates could see what looked to be a slight frown play across his features and it was obvious that he was deep in thought. Finally, when it seemed that he wasn’t going to answer at all, he replied.
“Because I remembered you.”
Snowfall and Kestrel looked at each other in confusion and then back to True Edge. He was smiling now, as much at a pleasant memory as at their confusion.
“You were one of my first memories. Do you recall when I was very small? Maybe three or four turns of the seasons old. You often came to my parents' den to learn stories from Father.”
She nodded, though she seemed somewhat puzzled about where he was going with this.
“Yes, I remember. Cedarwing was probably the best storyteller I ever heard. I wanted to learn everything he could teach me.”
“And that was when you first realized how much you liked caring for children too, wasn’t it? I was one of the first cubs born after you were. You were a young adult by the time I came along.”
The silence stretched out for a long while till he spoke again.
“My first memory of anyone other than my parents was of you, my love. It was a stormy night, much like now, and you and Father were there. I’m not sure where Mother was, but knowing Lynx and Sunlight one or the other of them probably needed a good kick in the pants, and Mother was always willing to deliver it, even though they were both fully grown.
Anyway, Father was telling a story and you were listening. I watched the both of you, not really sure what was going on but still fascinated. Someone must have called for him just then because he asked you to watch me for a few moments. Then he left.”
“You remember all of that?” Snowfall asked in amazement. “You were so young then.”
“I do,” he replied simply. “That and more. Like I said, it was a really ugly storm and I remember being afraid of it. You held me in your lap and soothed my fears. You made me feel safe and I remembered that. When I was older I thought back on it when I didn’t always feel so secure. Following in Lynx’s footsteps wasn’t the healthiest place to be, after all, so I was often given opportunity to feel unsafe.”
He looked into Snowfall’s eyes and smiled, then shared a glance with Kestrel as well before continuing.
“I knew you would be a good mother and a mate, even if I wasn’t sure how to make you understand my intent. At least I was pretty good at hiding it when I was uncertain. Now I have two good mates and we will have another child as soon as she is well.”
Snowfall was silent, seemingly not knowing what to say. After a short pause, though, Kestrel spoke.
“So your argumentative nature was a defense. I guess growing up behind Lynx and being measured against him could be tough.”
“A bit, but I’d give most anything to have him back with us. We can’t change the past though, no matter how badly we want it,” he said as he wrapped his arms more tightly around them both. “None of us are cubs anymore but we are all safe here together. Is there anything more important than that?”
Judging by the smiles on their faces, he guessed that they couldn’t think of anything more important either.
by Trena D.