(This story is part of the ”Trying to have a child outside of Recognition” storyline - see list for related stories..)
The sight of the Dentrees in the distance was most welcome, and Kestrel let out a small sigh of relief. She hadn’t slept very well the past few days, and just the thought of nestling into the soft furs encouraged her to glide faster. It occurred to her that her lovemates would probably be asleep already, so as she reached the entrance to the den the three of them shared, she made an effort to land as softly as possible. Slowly pulling aside the hide covering the opening, she stepped into the dark den and began to shed her hunting gear that she had brought with her.
“Where did you go this time?”
The elder turned to see True Edge lying alone in the in the furs, propped up on his elbow. She smiled and went back to setting down her things. “Sorry if I woke you,” she said.
“I wasn’t asleep yet,” he responded, still looking at her expectantly for an answer to his question.
“I didn’t go too far, only about a half a day’s flight from here.” Kestrel began to remove her clothing next in anticipation of sleep.
“I think Snowfall would like it if you talked to us about what’s bothering you instead of going off like that.” True Edge’s tone wasn’t accusatory; he was just stating a fact.
Kestrel turned again to look at him quizzically. “You both know me better than that. Where is she, anyway?”
“She’s off with a hunting party. I don’t think she was really feeling up to it, but we agreed it might help take her mind off of everything.”
Kestrel knew well he was referring to the threesome’s ongoing efforts to make a cub. Each time, Willow felt like she was getting closer, but without any tangible results after several tries, it was hard to keep an optimistic view about the situation. They had all prepared themselves for this very possibility, and they had all experienced disappointment far greater than this, but still, Kestrel could sense that it was chipping away at them slowly. “What about you?” Kestrel asked.
“How are you keeping your mind off of everything?” As she asked the question, she walked over to sit at the edge of the furs, drawing her knees to her chest.
“I’m just not letting it affect me as much,” he answered gruffly, avoiding looking her in the eye by lowering his head. Still, though he couldn’t see her looking at him, he could all but feel her gaze. The two had been lovemates for quite a few turns of the seasons already, and he still found her intense gaze disconcerting from time to time.
“You know I don’t believe that,” Kestrel said with a frown.
“Well, somebody has to keep a clear head about this,” he said with a low growl, this time lifting his head again to look her straight in the eyes.
“Hiding what you really feel isn’t the same as keeping a clear head,” she retorted, returning his stare. The two stayed like that for a minute, neither one willing to look away. At last, it was Kestrel who finally let out a small chuckle. “I suppose that’s something we both need to work on.” A small grin crossed True Edge’s face as well.
“Old habits die hard,” he said, still regarding her in the darkness of the den. “As I’m sure you’ve noticed.” His tone was serious, though his expression still showed amusement. “As old as the three of us are, we aren’t likely to change our ways much. You’re still a loner, and I’m still a contrary old son of a she-wolf. Yet we still make it work, don’t we?”
She returned his smile, though somewhat tentatively at first. Then, with more genuine mirth, she chuckled again. “Yes, we do, though I think the both of us tax poor Snowfall’s patience at times.”
True Edge nodded, apparently seeing the truth in her words. For a moment he seemed deep in thought, before he finally spoke again. “We do...but she wouldn’t have it any other way, I think. She loves us as we are, you know. We might fuss at each other, but I wouldn’t change you either. Just don’t begrudge me my time to worry when you have to fly away for awhile.”
It was silent then as the sun rose outside. They both were obviously tired and there was no more need for words at the moment. Kestrel yawned once as True Edge began to pull the furs covering him aside. Though her worries were still there, as always, in the back of her mind, her fatigue was finally starting to get the best of her. True Edge beckoned to her to join him, and she scooted over to nestle in his arms.
Just before sleep overtook her, another thought made its way into Kestrel’s mind. Perhaps there was something good to come out of this whole experience as well...through it all, the bond between the three elders had grown stronger than ever. She knew then that, even when it was all over, no matter the outcome, the bond itself would remain.