(This story is a sequel to ”Here All Along”.)
(Ed. Note: Snowdrop is a former name for Snowfall.)
Snowdrop could not remember the last time she had been such a jumble of conflicting thoughts and emotions.
In the days following her flight with Kestrel, she found herself avoiding contact with most of her tribemates, preferring instead to mull over the new feelings that she was almost positive were there. She had thought that the glider would perhaps seek her out, but day after day went by and no such conversation happened. After a few more days, Snowdrop was no longer even sure that they had both felt what she had. What if it had been one-sided only, and Kestrel would have shared her gliding power with any of her friends in that same situation?
Now, the glider had gone on a week-long scouting trip, and even the goodbye between the two of them held no mention of that meaningful night. Snowdrop had to admit that she was stumped, and more than slightly frustrated.
Tired of keeping this to herself, and wanting some advice, Snowdrop decided to take the issue to her mother. Though perhaps likely to tease about it a little, Snowdrop trusted her mother to keep it to herself until her daughter wished otherwise.
“I had a feeling something was going on with you, my daughter. Lately, you’ve been withdrawn and sometimes I feel as though your mind is somewhere else, though you are looking straight at me,” Dreamberry said with a grin when Snowdrop brought up her need for advice.
The younger white-haired elf hadn’t even realized she had been that obvious, and her face flushed a little as she wondered who else might have noticed.
“Now, tell me what’s going on, my little snowflake,” Dreamberry said with an encouraging smile, moving aside her loom that she had been using to focus her full attention on her daughter. Snowdrop had to roll her eyes a little bit at the nickname, but took the offered place. Immediately, the story began to pour from her mouth, everything from her conflicting feelings about Moss to the conversation with Kestrel and the events that followed, and she felt that it was a relief to share the burden with someone else. Dreamberry listened intently, not speaking until Snowdrop had finished.
A few moments went by as Dreamberry mulled over her daughter’s words, and then an excited smile spread across her face.
“I don’t think I ever would have guessed it...you and Kestrel. But it does make perfect sense. Despite being many years your elder, and mine for that matter, you two do have a lot in common,” she said.
“That’s what I thought!” Snowdrop responded, a hint of exasperation in her tone. “But she has yet to say anything about it. I’m starting to think I imagined it all.”
“You haven’t said anything either,” Dreamberry said pointedly.
“I don’t know how to say it to her. I wanted her to bring it up first, because...what if I’m wrong?” Snowdrop said quietly, her fingers nervously playing with the end of her braid. “Kestrel hasn’t had a lovemate in a long time, and she practically said that lovemating wasn’t for her.” Snowdrop didn’t want to think about how it would feel if Kestrel told her these emotions had all been in her head.
Dreamberry nodded sympathetically. “It’s true that Kestrel’s the solitary sort, but...there’s an exception to every rule. Lovemating is about finding the right balance between two elves, and I think the two of you fit perfectly. But whether she agrees or not, you have to say something. Sooner or later, others are going to wonder just where your head has gone,” she said, tweaking her daughter’s ear and provoking a reluctant smile out of her.
“You’re right, mother. Thanks for talking some sense into me.”
“That’s what I’m here for!” Dreamberry responded cheerfully, pulling her daughter into a tight hug. “Now, Kestrel isn’t due back for a little while yet, right? Care to help your mother finish up her weaving project?”
Snowdrop, feeling much lighter now that she had shared her thoughts, nodded. Though she wasn’t much for weaving, she felt like it would be all she could do to keep busy until it was finally time to tell her love just how she felt.
The wind felt much cooler this high up, but Snowdrop hardly even noticed it with how preoccupied her mind was. She had climbed one of the tallest trees she could find, one that allowed her to see as far as possible in every direction. Now, Snowdrop was obsessively rehearsing in her head everything she would say to the glider upon her return. Sure, she could wait for Kestrel to return to the Holt, but Snowdrop knew there would be others vying for her attention then, and she felt she would lose her mind if she had to wait another minute to get what she was feeling off her chest.
The older glider first appeared as a dot on the horizon, but as she came closer and closer, Snowdrop was able to recognize the colors of her clothing and her facial features. Kestrel had taken to wearing green more often lately, her hair in a long, loose braid, and Snowdrop had to admit the colors and style made her seem...different. Younger, perhaps? More carefree? She wondered, now, if the change had something to do with her, and the thought gave her a bit more confidence.
Hesitantly, Snowdrop sent to Kestrel, letting the glider know of her presence, and she saw the auburn-haired elf’s direction shift slightly. Though still a ways away, Snowdrop thought she could detect a smile on the older elf’s face?
**What a lovely sight you are,** Kestrel sent back, and Snowdrop thought she felt her cheeks heating up. She reached a hand up in greeting and Kestrel brushed it with her own before coming to land on the branch beside the younger elf. **To what do I owe this greeting?**
Snowdrop swallowed hard. She had rehearsed what she was going to say so many times, and yet all of a sudden it seemed that all of those carefully prepared words had flown.
**I had something I needed to say that just couldn’t wait,** the white-haired elf began, feeling that it was more important to get the words out than to say them in a specific way. She sat down on the branch, motioning for Kestrel to do the same. **Ever since that night when you shared your gliding power with me, I haven’t been able to get you off my mind. I realized then that...I think I’ve fallen in love with you.**
Snowdrop paused at that moment, checking to gauge the reaction of the elf beside her. She thought she recognized a smile tugging at the corner of Kestrel’s mouth, but she couldn’t be completely sure.
“You have no idea how much I hoped you would say that,” Kestrel spoke. The sudden switch to using her voice was slightly suspicious to Snowdrop, but the words themselves were music to her ears.
“But then why didn’t you say anything? This whole time I’ve been afraid that I was the only one who felt anything,” Snowdrop asked, her tone of voice belying her frustration.
Kestrel was no longer looking at the younger elf. “I suppose that I, too, was afraid.”
Snowdrop’s eyes widened. It hadn’t occurred to her that Kestrel, who always seemed so confident, would have had such worries.
“I knew you were so conflicted about Moss, and I was afraid that anything I said about my feelings for you would influence your thoughts one way or another. Your first lovemate is a special thing, and I wanted the decision to be yours first and foremost.”
Snowdrop couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of the situation. All of the obsessing she had done over the past couple weeks, it seemed, had been needless. But now it seemed unimportant; hearing that Kestrel did, in fact, feel the way she did lifted the weight of her worry off her shoulders.
“So, for me, you’d be willing to break your viewpoint that you’re better off without a lovemate?” she teased, taking Kestrel’s hand in her own and entwining their fingers.
**I have no doubt in my mind,** this glider responded through send, and suddenly Snowdrop realized why Kestrel hadn’t been sending until now. With the reply came the overwhelming feeling of her love for the younger elf, and Snowdrop closed her eyes, willing the sudden tears not to come. How many times lately had she imagined this moment? And yet, somehow her imaginings had never even come close to the reality of it. **And you, willing to lovemate with a reclusive elf so many years your elder?**
Snowdrop leaned over, resting her head on Kestrel’s shoulder.
**There’s nothing I want more.**