She had yet to agree to be his lifemate, but he liked to think he was getting closer to convincing her. In fact, True Edge had stayed behind — not gone on the family hunt — because she had asked it of him. Snowdrop had wanted his support because her lovemate, Kestrel, was away scouting. Her request had been a hard one — the family hunting trip was a tradition he didn’t like missing. But he desperately wanted to show her that he would be there for her and for their child.
Sunray was sleeping, tightly bundled against his father’s chest, in a sling – he had taken the babe for Snowdrop, offering her a chance to sleep a little more soundly between feedings. True Edge padded through the soft, new-fallen snow, spear in hand. Although he was a hunter, he had talked with Snaptwig, who agreed to let him check the traps and to keep what he might find.
It hadn’t been hard to convince him — Snaptwig had been more than willing to share anything found in the traps when he learned it was for his granddaughter. He was proud of Snowdrop, and he would have gladly given what he found to the nursing mother.
Sunray would need to eat all too soon, and True Edge knew he wouldn’t have time to check all the traps. The hunter hoped to find a mink, or even a rabbit or two, in the first few on the path. He planned first to feed his beloved Snowdrop, and then to get Doeskin to help fashion some new, warm boots for her — showing her that he cared, and that he was observant about what others needed.
True Edge's thoughts went back to his beloved Recognized again. He wondered how he could get her to agree to lifemating with him, especially given that she already had a lovemate. Two turns of the seasons, while they had waited for Sunray’s arrival, he had stood by her, hunted with her while she could, and for her when she could no longer. True Edge had been there for his son’s birth, and he had done all he could think of to gain his Recognized’s acceptance and trust. They argued, certainly, and there were times when she stubbornly refused to see things his way — but there was love, he was certain.
“You’re quiet,” Dreamberry interrupted his thoughts with her own.
“I’m thinking,” he responded to Snowdrop's mother. The brewer had overheard him talking to Snaptwig about checking the traps and had offered to help him. He hadn’t denied her — checking traps with the babe alone would not have been the wisest of courses. That, and the fact that Snowdrop had once accused him of being too independent and proud to work with others. Checking the lines for Snaptwig, and accepting Dreamberry’s help, was certainly one way he could prove that he could cooperate with others.
“I think you’re winning her over,” she offered, her voice cheerful and full of confidence.
True Edge looked at her, wonder in his eyes — how had she known he was thinking of Snowdrop? He wondered if he was really that transparent. Deciding not to ask about that, he asked the more burning question, “Has she said anything?”
Dreamberry smiled, but shook her head. “No, but I know my daughter. You are winning her over.”
True Edge tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress a groan.
“Love takes time, True Edge,” she said softly.
He nodded. “And it must be patient?” he asked, though he knew the answer already.
“Yes, patient. And it thinks of the other first, just like you are doing today. Ever since you two Recognized, there has been a change in you.”
He paused, puzzled. “What do you mean?”
She put a hand on his arm, moving closer. “You are direct as ever, and your opinions are sharp as ever. But… you listen a little more — especially to my daughter. If you didn’t care about what she says, would you be here now, checking traps with me, instead of out with your own family? That subtle change is making a difference.”
He nodded, not wanting to spoil the moment with words or argument. He hoped that the brewer was right. He hoped that the changes he had made were helping woo Snowdrop as her mother had said.
“Three rabbits?” Snaptwig asked, seeming surprised after True Edge had told him they had only checked two traps.
True Edge nodded, smiling broadly. Conscious of making sure he gave credit where it was due this time, the hunter said, “Dreamberry had a lot to do with it. Only one was found in a trap. The other two, she caught with a combination of speed, and skill throwing a knife.”
“Ahhh,” Snaptwig said knowingly. “She’s good at many things. Glad she was with you – made it worth the long walk in the cold, eh?”
True Edge nodded. He hoped that the whole day would be one more piece of proof to Snowdrop that he could work well with others, and that he cared about others and could recognize their accomplishments, too! He also wanted her to see that he thought her family was important as well.
Snaptwig motioned his head toward where Sunray slept, but was starting to stir. “Hand me the rabbits — I’ll skin them for you.”
Genuinely grateful for the elder's help, True Edge quietly said, “Thank you,” as he handed over the rabbits. Then he made his way toward his den — Snowdrop was denning with him while her lovemate was away. He hoped she had gotten some rest.
When he entered, his Recognized was awake. She reached out and he delivered the cub into her waiting arms. “Did you have a nice walk?” she asked.
He smiled at her, nodding. “Your mother, Sunray, and I had a good time checking the traps. I’ll have some fresh meat for you in a while. Snaptwig is skinning the rabbits for me.”
He felt joy inside when her icy blue eyes lit up at the mention of meat. That was thanks enough, but he was even happier when she reached out with her free arm to take his hand and pull him close. He put his arms around her and their son, smiling to himself. Maybe Dreamberry was right — maybe by this time, next turn of the seasons, he would have a lifemate.