She had been his first friend. Thinking about Honey, he could remember when she was Trip, peering down at him when he was still too little to chase after her. He could recall her helping him as he toddled, and splashing with him at the riverside as their parents fished. Honey had been there the first time he'd cast a net. Aside from his mother, she'd been the first elf whose hair he had played with — she had been so patient with him when he worked to untangle knots he had inadvertantly placed in her hair while trying to style it. She had been the first elf he had been intimate with. Looking back at those happier, more innocent times made him smile. Though his lifemate was not always pleasant, especially toward those she might view as competition for the love she craved, she had always been there for him. Though she could be petty, she could also be profoundly giving, patient, and caring.
He looked across the river toward where his lifemate stood this warm spring evening, hand on her rounded belly, a joyful, quiet smile on her face as she spoke quietly to their unborn daughter. She was truly beautiful, and at the current moment, the only thing Greenweave wanted to do was to go to her and hold her close; to whisper the assurances of his love and dedication. He needed to do it — and not just for Honey. For himself.
Their Recognition had led to their lifemating, and to his leaving his lovemate, Cloudfern. That had been painful for both of them, but Greenweave had known it was what Honey needed. And, he realized, maybe what he needed as well. Moments like this, where he was sure of his decision, were starting to occur more frequently, and he tried to make the most of them.
Pulling his net from the water, and laying it carefully on the shore, Greenweave headed downriver to a pass of rocks that would get him to the other side, and to Honey. He could sense her gaze as she realized he had stopped fishing, and he looked toward her with a smile as he picked his way across — his smile growing wider as he neared her. When he saw her reach back to untie the top she was wearing, letting it drop to the ground next to her, he grinned appreciatively.
In just a few more strides, Greenweave was holding Honey as closely as her rounded stomach would allow him. He could feel his cub kicking, and he laughed. Taking one of Honey's hands in his own, and using his other to cup her face, he quietly said, "I love you, Ahla."
He worried only for a moment that she would ask him to send it — he wasn't sure he could hide the fact that he still loved Cloudfern, or that his love for her was different from the love for his once-lovemate; but this time, she didn't. Instead, she grinned, and threw her arms around him happily. He returned the embrace, and allowed his hands to drop lower. She growled her pleasure in his ear as she allowed her hands to roam over his chest.
"Here?" he asked.
**Yes,** she sent.
Later, as the sky lightened above him, Honey lay asleep in his arms. He watched the changing colors and listened to the birds sing, smiling to himself. His choice hadn't been a bad one, he decided. When Honey was happy, her smile was like the sun. They had been friends as long as he could remember. There was a joy in knowing that they were Recognized. The pang of heartache and regret that sometimes plagued him was nothing compared to the happier moments. And Greenweave knew that he would make the most of the happier moments as often as he could.