"I'll take her for the day," Kestrel offered the weary parents.
Farscout and Brightwood exchanged unreadable glances, then looked at her and nodded.
Kestrel guessed that the lifemates would rest, some. She smiled to herself, remembering times when others had watched her own son when she and her lifemate had needed time alone, or just time to rest.
Farscout gently placed Copper into Kestrel's open arms, then looked at the elder and said, "If she gets hungry —"
"I know where to find her mother."
Brightwood nodded gratefully, then took Farscout's hand and pulled him toward the Dentrees. Kestrel watched as they made their way upward. Brightwood didn't glance back, but Farscout did, and Kestrel waved him onward, then sent, **She'll be fine! I promise.**
Kestrel knew it was hard for Farscout to leave Copper, even in the arms of the elder. But he was tired, too. And it would just be for the day. Chances were, Farscout would be up long before the sun set, and would reclaim his cherished daughter.
Looking down at the quietly squirming infant, Kestrel smiled. "Shall we sleep?"
Copper smiled at her and gurgled.
Copper wasn't crying, but she wasn't sleeping, either. Instead, she moved around just enough that Kestrel couldn't sleep, either. The elder was in the den alone. True Edge and Snowfall were out on a longer hunt together. At least Farscout's daughter was only keeping one elf awake this day.
"So this is why your parents are so tired!" Kestrel said softly, not at all upset about the sleep she was losing. It was a joy to have an infant so close again. Holding Cinder in the moments before and after Snowfall had nursed him had been a pleasure, but what Kestrel wanted more than anything was another babe of her own. But since that pleasure had not yet come to her, she rejoiced in every opportunity to hold or care for a little one. Even if it meant a sleepless day.
|Illustration by Beth K.|
Copper cooed and Kestrel looked down at her. "Do you want to see the toys fly again?"
Something about Copper's expression said that she did, indeed, want to see the toys fly again, so Kestrel obliged her, happy to be keeping Copper happy.
Farscout's send interrupted Kestrel's dreamless sleep, rousing her. She knew she hadn't been asleep longer than a few heartbeats, but still, she felt refreshed. The regular breathing of the infant in her arms made her smile. Copper had finally fallen to sleep, probably only moments before the elder, herself, had.
**Come in, Farscout. Your daughter's asleep.** The undertone of finally was in the send, along with Kestrel's joy and weariness.
**Thank you,** he sent as he stepped into her den. **Brightwood is still asleep.**
**You could have kept sleeping, friend,** Kestrel chided, smiling.
**No,** he smiled back, **I couldn't. I waited so long for them... for this little one.**
Kestrel used her powers to float Copper into her father's waiting arms. The babe didn't stir. Farscout nodded his thanks again, and slipped out of the den.
Kestrel smiled to herself, then leaned back into the bedfurs, thinking on what Farscout had just said. He'd waited so long for his daughter, and now he wanted to enjoy each moment with her while he could. Because life was too short, and too sweet to miss.
The ache in her heart for another child of her own swelled again, and Kestrel hugged herself tightly. High Ones willing, she would have a child of her own again one day. And she, too, would enjoy each moment. The wait would be worth it.
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