(This story is part of the ”Trying to have a child outside of Recognition” storyline - see list for related stories..)
It was nearing that time again. Snowfall, True Edge, and Kestrel had almost finished with their preparations for Willow’s arrival. This has become a routine, Snowfall realized as she stole a glance at her lovemate’s and lifemate’s faces. In them, she found no trace of that original apprehension mixed with tentative hope that had been present in all of them in the beginning. Kestrel’s expression was hard to read - Snowfall had a feeling her elder lovemate was keeping any emotion she might be feeling inside. True Edge, on the other hand, seemed to be frustrated, and perhaps a little anxious to just get it over with.
“Are we ready?” True Edge asked, even though he already knew the answer. Kestrel started to send to her granddaughter, but Snowfall put a hand on her arm, wordlessly asking her to wait.
“What’s wrong?” Kestrel asked, her concern apparent.
“I don’t know if we are ready. To do this again, that is,” Snowfall answered.
“Why not? We have everything set up, don’t we?” True Edge asked, though whether he truly didn’t catch his lifemate’s meaning, or whether he was deliberately avoiding addressing her statement, Snowfall couldn’t quite tell. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked down for a moment, gathering her thoughts.
“I know you both can tell that something has changed since the first time we did this. Our hope is no longer as strong as it once was,” she said rather quickly, knowing that if she didn’t, the words might not come. It was something that was hard to admit, but the elders and the healer had tried more times than they could count on both hands with nothing tangible to show for it. The other two were silent for a few moments. As much as they might have liked to deny it, they both knew what she was talking about.
Finally, Kestrel stepped forward to place her hand gently on her lovemate’s arm, while True Edge came over to Snowfall’s other side, gripping her hand tightly. “Willow did say that she felt like she was closer to understanding what to do last time,” he said firmly.
Kestrel nodded in agreement. “One thing our years have taught us is to have patience. Our hope may not be as strong as it once was, but it is still there — and as long as we all are still united in this, it will never truly leave us.”
Snowfall smiled, feeling comforted, then squeezed the hands of her lovemate and lifemate. No more words were needed between them - they were ready to try again together.
When the lovemates finally lay spent, it was only reluctantly that they moved away from each other and turned to face the young healer. The “task” itself was a pleasant one, and it didn’t take long to forget Willow’s presence, but this was the moment they all were looking forward to with equal parts of dread and hope. This was where Willow ruled whether they had been successful, and all too often — every time — the young healer had had to tell them they had failed again.
The sight that met their eyes was a familiar one — Willow sat against the den wall, her face drawn with exhaustion, and there was little apart from it in her expression that might have given them any clue about her thoughts. The healer opened her eyes and looked at them with the same earnest, guarded expression they had come to associate with former unsuccessful attempts, and Snowfall had a hard time not to allow her disappointment get a hold of her already. Willow hadn’t checked yet, she told herself fiercely. Still, she usually seemed to know if she had been successful before she did...
Nevertheless, Willow reached out to touch both Kestrel’s and Snowfall’s stomach with her hands, the light of her magic starting to shimmer around them as she did. Both lovemates held their breath, waiting anxiously for her verdict. Each time seemed to take longer than the last…
Finally, the light of Willow’s magic faded, and the healer looked up to them, an expression of surprise — or was it shock? — on her face. Then, almost immediately, she broke into a wide grin. “We did it!” she exclaimed. “Snowfall, you’re with cub!”
For some moments the threemates just looked at her. For all that they had waited for this announcement, now that it had been made, they didn’t know how to react. It couldn’t be real... could it?
True Edge was the first to recover.
“We did it, then! We really did it!” he exclaimed, clapping Willow on the back so hard that the exhausted healer almost toppled over, and Kestrel quickly stretched out a hand to stabilize her. The spell broken by True Edge, she turned the helpful gesture into a warm hug she enveloped her granddaughter with. “Thank you,” she said, simply but heartfelt. For once, all of her emotions were plain on her face and in her voice.
Snowfall was the next when she released her, clasping Willow’s hand in both of her own. “Thank you,” she echoed Kestrel, and like her lovemate, her voice betrayed more of her emotions than usual for the reserved elf. It was impossible to convey in words just how grateful they felt towards the healer.
Willow waved her hand as if to tell them to shut up, it was nothing, but her expression hardly concealed the pride and satisfaction she felt at their success. Their patience had paid off, and in a relatively short while, the threemates would finally have the cub they so longed for. Soon, they would announce the good news to the rest of the tribe, but for now... the four elves remained only in each other’s company, sharing in their triumph.