[P] What news from the love front?
p. Calan
#1
Set days after the events of this thread (May 2021)[+459]
For all the fables of his tribe, and for the stories he’d heard from those of Caledonia both New and Old alike, these days the hardest to believe in was reality itself. So much has happened, and so quickly. He thought back to the vows they had spoken to one another, under the cover of twilight, with only the King and the Priestess there to witness them. The Starseeker and his Light.

Gradually, he was exiting the shelter of secrecy, letting the truth grow from a bud and extend tiny branches like a young sapling. Ierian was made aware. He seemed joyous, proud. So was Bellad, even if he found his vision veiled at times with worry. Or had he simply forgotten what an abundance of happiness so intense felt like?

But practicing talking about it helped. It reminded him that it was no mere dream he would not want to wake up from. He was Fennore’s husband. They were to have children. The Realm would have cause to celebrate with them, would it not?

But for now, careful steps made towards handpicked trusted souls. He made, or rather was about to make another one privy to the union and its upcoming celebration. His trusted friend wasn’t an unusual choice, but to practice speaking his truth a second time still felt daunting. In Bellad’s experience, sometimes all it took was taking enough steps that backtracking became impossible.

And he was too late to go back by exactly one request for a meeting and over half the path to Calan’s door. He wondered how much the flaxen-haired nobleman may have already taken notice of on his own. Though Bellad liked to think he’d been most discreet about the evolving affair he also did not want to underestimate the Brecours’ eye.

Time for thought and doubt drew short, and the path of no return brought him to his destination. Bellad lifted his hand and rapped on the wooden door. His entrance this time would be a far cry from the way he’d frivolously let himself in when they first met. A far cry from the way he’d looked back then too. This time he wore roomy pants not unlike those that Kalypso had lent him what seemed like years ago and since then introduced him to a cut that was sufficiently convenient for even the animalistic-minded healer to wear. A woman’s touch, Fennore’s to be exact, could also be seen in the way his long mane had been tended, still wild, but styled and partially tied into braids.

“Calan? It’s Bellad. May I enter?” He called out from the door, burning down another part of the rope bridge connecting back to where none knew of all the things on his mind.
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#2
There was a spring in the High Lord’s step around this time, one that wasn’t entirely due to the gorgeous weather they were having - though he surely was not complaining about the sudden yet mild May heat that hinted at a pleasant summer to come. No, this was a different kind of upbeat energy, one that only surfaced when he returned from a long and successful trip away; the confident swagger of a man having done his job well. The blond had spent the last few weeks on the road, travelling from trading post to trading post, searching for goodies to fill his shop and the Realm’s stores at large.

It had proven to be a fruitful one as well, if the large packs on Bro’s back were any proof. Inside were a menagerie of things that had caught his eye: empty notebooks, quills and ink, a few more pounds of salt for preserving meat, glass-paned lanterns and unused torches, fabrics for the Studio, both dyed and undyed, various bottles of liquor, and even a couple (albeit slightly cracked) mirrors.

The salt, torches and fabric had already been stashed away in the community storage, where they would no doubt be used up within a matter of weeks. Everything else he stored with the rest of his collection in the corner of his room, their contents nestled safely in old wooden crates.

Soon, Calan hoped, he would re-open his general store. He’d had to shutter it in March when he’d moved his residence here to the Bastion, leaving his much-cherished space behind for another to use. The Realm seemed to grow in size with each passing day, and as such, there was no space for anyone to be greedy. But if his talks with Torabera continued in the fashion that they were going now, there could be an option for them to start anew in Haven. All they had to do was find the right building and get to work. What could go wrong?

He had been in the process of heading to Haven the day before when Bellad had approached him on the path, requesting they meet. Calan had been more than happy to agree. It had been so long since he’d sat down with his old friend, what with their busy, ever-diverse lives, and they were far overdue to have a good catch-up session. The golden-haired trader remembered that he had raised his eyebrow at the formalness of the word ‘meeting’, but he’d more than learned to accept that as part of the Songthorn’s oldfangled style. If they had a chance to talk, even if it took arranging a specific time and place, Calan wasn’t about to complain about the semantics.

Besides, he had a sneaking suspicion he knew what this meeting was going to be about. If he was right, he was overjoyed. The blond liked to believe he had a keen eye for detail, but one didn’t need one to notice the difference in the healer’s appearance. Bellad’s new clean-cut appearance had not escaped his notice yesterday, just as the new braids in his hair didn’t escape his notice now, as Calan opened the door to his guest.

“Hi, Bellad! Of course, come in,” he chimed, opening the door wider so that the ebon-haired wolf could follow him in. The Lord was wearing his standard attire of violet robe and dangling earrings, but he’d let his hair down out of its usual ponytail, his usually honey-coloured hair almost white from the sun. A warm smile graced his lips as he walked over to where he kept his bottles and glasses. “Do you want something to drink?” He suspected he already knew Bellad’s answer to the question, but it would be rude of him not to ask anyways.

Once his houseguest had shut the door behind him, Calan invited him to sit on one of the large pillows he’d placed around the fireplace, their well-worn fabric still brightly coloured in vivid oranges and reds. If his fellow Lord had wanted something to drink, he handed it to him - otherwise, he carried his own glass of plum wine as he settled onto a pillow himself. Tucking a loose strand of hair behind his ear, he smiled.

“Now, what is this about?”
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Yay!! I hope these assumptions are alright for you!
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#3
ooc [+561]
From the very start of their greeting it seemed Calan was in high spirits. Though whether it was due to the visit from a friend or else some other cause for joy Bellad wasn’t sure. He didn’t exactly insist on the significance of his visits, unexpectedly pleased as he was to be a coveted guest. The healer wasted little time in entering the room, looking over it.

The Bastion’s accommodations were becoming more and more familiar. After all, he was in the process of moving in with Fennore, turning it into more of a home than an occasional place of learning and pleasing encounters. Whichever room he visited, it would always seem so different from the modest interior of the home he and his brother had been so graciously bestowed with. Ierian would come to use it alone. Though, perhaps, some future move was in the cards for him as well. Not so much to the Bastion, but to another Soul, growing increasingly in her significance.

The two of them had the chance to get used to one another’s stark contrasts and mannerisms. Even since before both climbed the ranks so that both stood now among the ranks of the Court of Dawn. They still remained two very different High Lords, but although Bellad was not consciously chasing after Calan Brecours, he was gradually narrowing the gap in looking civilized if nothing else. Still, among their mannerisms, little song and dance that they would do in good faith, was the sequence of kind offers and ever polite refusals.

It was then all the more surprising that when Calan offered him a drink, Bellad’s answer was both abrupt, as though to manage to voice it before his host could possibly withdraw the offer, and completely different from many, many prior instances.

“Yes please!”

An awkward pause hung in the air as Bellad contemplated what just exited his mouth. There was no embarrassed clamping of hands over his muzzle in an attempt to restrain further breaches of his typical behavior, but he did seem quite frozen in place for a time. “That is… if you would be so kind…” He followed up, slower and closer to his usual tone, but with neither ground nor composure yet fully recovered.

Be that as it may, Bellad still took his place on one of the pillows. He’d have been just as comfortable without such cushy conditions, but partook of the comforts the fellow High Lord was sharing. Briefly he pondered that he could have curled up on one of these pillows in Roaming Paw. But this wasn’t the time to shift. As for their drinks, plum wine was a fine choice. It was a sweet libation to be savored and enjoyed, scent, taste and all.

So the way Bellad downed the entire contents of his glass in a single mighty gulp must have looked utterly savage.

He paused awkwardly looking at Calan who took far more time to enjoy his drink, bringing the Songthorn to yet another realization that he’d not yet learned to properly take in the finer things in life. A question hung between them. How was he to even begin? With a nervous energy that seemed giddy if anything, he shuffled his tongue as if trying to find the words already in his mouth by touch.

“It is, well… About Fennore and I.”
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#4
It took a lot for Calan not to chuckle at Bellad’s exuberance, if only because the man’s eagerness ran so contrary to his prior expectations. He made sure to pour a little extra sweet wine into the Songthorn’s goblet, filling the crystal cup up to nearly the top. Hopefully it would be enough to whet his appetite and give him whatever liquid courage he needed to speak his mind.

Now that the blond thought about it, however, had he ever had a chance to drink with his fellow Lord? When so many of his relationships centred themselves around alcohol in one way or another - not so much as a dependence, but more as a social lubricant - its absence struck him as strange. Calan had just assumed its absence was by design, suited to the ebon healer’s personal life choices - though why on earth he’d thought that Bellad was a teetotaller, he had no idea. Something about his personage made him believe as much.

Beliefs, however, could always be changed. If changing meant that he got to share a good drink with a good friend, all the more reason to do so.

He watched with thinly veiled curiosity as Bellad settled himself in his seat, shifting around on the soft throw pillows. Their existence was just one of the many new things he’d added to his personal belongings since the move. A larger room meant needing more things to fill it up with - and when one threw as many parties as he did on the regular, sufficient seating was essential. Besides, what other excuse did he need to redecorate?

The trader made to clink glasses with his houseguest, aiming to propose a toast to their meeting at long last, but said houseguest had other ideas. Calan could only blink slowly in disbelief as Bellad downed the contents of his goblet in one deep, generous gulp. The action literally rendered him speechless, his own glass raised before him. Once it dawned on him that yes, that really had just happened, he let it slowly float back down to a normal drinking height. He wasn’t even offended - after all, it took a lot to offend him in the first place - but rather shocked, knowing full well the price tag for such an exquisite bottle of wine.

However slow or fast Bellad chose to drink his refreshment, its tongue-loosening properties seemed to do the trick. After a moment’s hesitation, his tentative friend began his reason for coming here. Calan nodded, his suspicions confirmed. “Yes. You’ve been spending quite a lot of time together,” he said, waiting for a story - but when one didn’t immediately arise, he prompted further. “Hasn’t she been teaching you for the past while?” He could have sworn that Fennore had been teaching the man to read… Though it seemed like a lot more had happened than just learning in those teaching sessions. Taking a sip of his wine, the sweet tang of fermented plum on his tongue, he waited patiently for his response.
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#5
ooc [+532]
Was he embarrassing himself? Most indisputably. He could not speak for Calan, but for himself he could write volumes. The High Lord’s throat burned with the heat of the wine, his tongue bathed still in the sweet aftertaste, but for one as large as he it would not bring about quite an immediate result. He set the glass down, not really knowing how to ask for a refill or if one was warranted or deserved. The wine was delicious, though also distracting. Maybe he needed both at this moment? Maybe he should have just gotten to the point.

Except it wasn’t a point. It was a humongous circle and he treaded along its vast outer edge, like an ocean shore that had so many places from which to walk into the waves. Where was it calmer? Where would sharp rocks not prickle at the pads on his feet? Where was there less risk to slip? Luckily, Calan had some ideas and prompts with which to stop Bellad from picturing boundless oceans and instead coax him into producing more words for the occasion.

“Yes, she offered to teach me literacy. I have been learning from her since.” The question was easy enough to answer. This was, in fact, part of the public information they could disclose without fear. Even so he remained quite proud of the fact. Though many in New Caledonia were educated enough to write entire passages, leave letters at the Messenger Tree or, much like Calan, write elaborate signage, to him the skill still lay like an ancient treasure covered in the proud patina only acquired with age. The skill of Elders, the Songthorns had called it. Now theirs. A great gift.

“I got better at writing I think. I no longer mistake the letters…” He was needlessly modest. In truth he’d improved across more aspects of literacy than that. But singing himself praises, however proper in scale when put against his actual achievements, was not what he was here for, genuinely happy as he was with what he’s learned. He thought instead to some of the other things that took up the time that he spent with Fennore. Would he blush if Luperci could? “Well I… anyway this is not all.” The tip of the proverbial iceberg.

“Truth be told we have reached an… an understanding.” He laughed. Yet another rare gesture, and ran a clawed hand through his hair. It was absent-minded, and when the brief exhale of laughter ceased, his expression settled into a smile. “We made an… I suppose an acknowledgment of a sort.” Calan didn’t need to know about the physical aspect. But he probably would anyway considering Fennore’s advancing pregnancy. But the verbalized agreement? The words that finally came through between the healer and the Isiltári? This he could probably voice.

“I love her, Calan and… She answered it.” It was perhaps the clearest statement he’s made, bereft of ceremony or archaic speech. And after uttering the words that felt increasingly more natural the more he sounded them out, he looked to his friend with a sort of confused afterglow. As if he still couldn’t believe just how it felt to acknowledge the fact.
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#6
The healer took his time in explaining his story, his meandering explanation as slippery as a snake’s tail. Ever patient, Calan waited for him to get to the crux of why they were having this meeting. He knew first hand how Bellad needed time to set the stage before taking a leap of faith. Hell, it had taken him a literal life-and-death situation for him to admit that he even had feelings in the first place.

The blond took first one sip, then another sip, as he listened to him tell of his… ‘understanding’. Calan fought the temptation to snort into his glass at his choice of wording. Only Bellad would refer to a possible relationship in such a way, and that was why he found himself endeared to the man all the more. Still, he chastened himself knowing how big of a leap his friend was taking in telling him of his heart’s desires. This was a far cry from the individual who he had first encountered all those months ago, closed off from any discussion of his inner feelings. The change was gradual but good, and Calan had no doubt that Fennore herself had had a hand in that development. Those two had been mighty secretive in their feelings for one another - the lack of rumours regarding their time together spoke for itself - but the positive effects were there, if hard to initially spot.

“That’s great! Wow, I’m happy for you two!” He beamed, already smiling. How lovely it was for his friends to find love, even if that meant yet another group pairing off and leaving him single. Feeling this news worthy of a toast, he stood up and walked back to the collection of bottles, reaching for the rest of the plum wine. He refilled the healer’s glass and his own before he sat down once more, his tone bubbly and light. “So what does that mean now? Does anyone else know, or am I the first?”

It wasn’t like the blond was about to go running through the hills telling everyone about their change in relationship status, but it was good to know if he could discuss their dating with others in the Realm. New relationships were always a tricky one, filled with a myriad of mini-steps and new labels. Sometimes someone needed more time to make up their mind that their partner was really the one. Calan, King of putting his foot in his mouth, wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t do any wrong. He owed Bellad and Fennore that much.

Two new friends discovering their love for one another, he thought once more - and here he was, just as single as always. Was that a thought that bothered him? He didn’t know. The idea of having one mate for life didn’t sit right in his stomach, what with his desire to be free, but age and time were starting to catch up to him. There would soon be no use for a lone bachelor like him when everyone had mates and children.

But should he be looking for someone just so that he wasn’t alone? Wasn’t that disingenuous, or going about it for the wrong reasons? His heart still panged when he thought about Oliver’s rejection, but more out of embarrassment than real affection. Or perhaps - and this was a question he would have to ask another who wasn’t as earnest as his Songthorn friend - that was really how everyone else felt too when embarking on their relationship quests? Maybe no one really went in to this for love, but rather out of a desire to have someone there for the fall and winter of one’s life… Or maybe that was still wishful thinking from an old coot who didn’t want to commit. He stored the thought aside for now, marking it for later reflection, over what was perhaps a much stronger drink.
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#7
ooc [+670]
The news, it seemed, was momentous enough for Bellad to earn himself another glass of the sweet smelling wine. He approved of the recognition even if there were no such generosity involved. As for what he could see of Calan’s joy, though to the healer it was not outside the realm of possibility, it made him think back briefly to the times he’d brought up Fennore before. The hesitance when he had asked Calan to bring his words to her if he was to perish in the Underthing and the merchant’s seeming disbelief, an insistence to clarify even as Bellad hesitated and struggled to find any actual words. The horrible gnawing fear of losing her to the gravity of his sins and Calan’s words of compassion that directed the healer to be healed. Now this. The most coveted bond with her announced to seeming elation. At least it’s what it appeared to be. On reflex rather than distrust, he found himself looking for a trace of professional courtesy in Calan’s smile. The man wasn’t beyond it when trading, or when trading news.

What he found in his expression instead was a subtle hint that his previous treatment of the wine had been an affront to a very fine drink. Though not considering himself beholden to the luxury of fine vintages, he would amend the mistake if only for the sake of a respected friend. Ever the fast learner, Bellad graced the drink with a sip this time rather than a gulp. This kind of simple shift to his behavior most likely wouldn’t deserve praise, but then the flavor that he could savor in slightly more detail this time was reward enough.

“You are among the first.” Bellad admitted rather openly in response to his question. “Though I have told Ierian. And of course Iomair and Vodeva are aware as they have officiated the-...” He cut himself off and his eyes fixed themselves on his host like he just walked in on him asleep, but in trying not to wake him now stepped on a particularly shrill-voiced floorboard that had gone altogether cantankerous with its age. Ah yes, he did forget how unorthodox their union was. Of course, when telling Ierian the news, he covered that part as well. Flexible of mind, his brother was not all too surprised and accepted the strange sequence in stride. Maybe one eyebrow raise. At most. Was Calan used to something else?

Whatever the case, he’d already cracked open enough of the eggshell thin conspiracy to let his friend catch a glimpse of the gold-colored yolk. He might as well surrender the rest, peel off the rest of the broken cover and reveal the whole thing. “We married and expect children in the near future.” Surely enough he could also simply cave the cover in with a single careless stroke. Back to gulps rather than sips, though this time ones imposed on Calan.

“Fennore insisted on a private ceremony prior to their birth so that they would be born to a united pair. She said otherwise they’d be… born buzzards?” There had to have been a different word. Or else Fennore’s faith in mysticism may have been greater than he was lead to believe. He really should have asked her. To be fair, he was too nervous to confirm semantics at the time. Understandable. She’d come to his door in fear, thoroughly unprepared to bear children. Even his.

It was already quite a bit to reveal, though the words came somewhat easier when he began. This was no longer so much a matter of his hesitance, but more a matter of once more attempting to read into Calan’s reaction, down to the pace of his breathing. Did he need a moment? The coming news, fortunately for both the listener and the teller of news, would be far lighter to bear. Even enjoyable perhaps? To make this anticipation just a tiny bit less awkward, he took another sip of wine. Maybe it helped. Maybe it didn’t.
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#8
It pleased the trader to know that he was one of the first to know about Bellad and Fennore’s relationship, because it told him exactly where he stood in his relationship with the two of them. There was nothing nicer than having one’s friendship validated. He smiled as he sipped his wine, listening to his friend explain who else knew. Ierian, of course, and Iomair and Vodeva, even if Calan found that a little formal - it reeked of asking the girl’s father for permission to date, but he wasn’t going to judge - and now him, privy to the news of… 

…Their marriage?!

The sound that came out of Calan’s throat was somewhere between a caw and a cough. He barely managed to keep from choking on his drink, though some did dribble down his chin. “Wh… Are you kidding me?! Wh-When did that happen?” His eyes were as wide as dinner plates as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, coughing all the while.

Bellad tried to explain more, but Calan was hardly listening. Instead, his mind was reeling at this sudden new information. While he’d been out trading cotton for rope, his friend had gone and gotten himself hitched. Married. ‘Sworn-to-protect’, ‘’till-death-do-us-part' sort of jazz. Meanwhile Calan had trouble picking what cloak he wanted to wear every day. How different the two of them were. 

“Bastards. They’d be born bastards,” he corrected, then realised what that meant. It was a good thing that he didn’t try to drink anything else, otherwise that, too, would have ended up on his person. “Wait, you’ve got kids coming? You? You’re going to be a dad?” And more importantly - Fennore was going to be a mother? It was literally impossible for Calan to conceive of such a thing.

This was far too much information for one sitting. This was… Well. This was great news!

Then he burst out laughing, the shock slipping away to joy. There was nothing he liked more than a good surprise, and this was one for the books. “You don’t do anything in small strides, do you? Gods almighty, you’re a married man,” he said, a twinkle in his eye. He couldn’t help himself: he reached across the impasse of glasses and cushions and hugged the healer, still chuckling. When he leaned back he shook his head in disbelief as the news set in.

But while someone else may have questioned the haste of their partnership - perhaps someone more hesitant or old-fashioned - Calan was just overjoyed for his friends. This was exactly the kind of chaos that he liked: wild decisions made with little time for forethought, but that lead to incredible results. He leaned in with huge, conspiratorial smile, greedy for more. “Okay. Start from the beginning again. Tell. Me. Everything. 
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<3
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#9
If you wish to continue, feel free to pp Bellad barely keeping up with suggestions, questions about his wardrobe and the like [+912]
The noise that Calan made forced Bellad to consider the mystical possibility of children indeed being born buzzards. Though he'd never think to call his friend that or believe him to have been so afflicted. Of course, later he would learn of the term “bastard children” and get to dismiss the thought as preposterous on multiple grounds. Calan was like the litmus paper with which to put this piece of news to the test and as Bellad examined his friend’s dumbfounded expression, he figured that the news was indeed somewhat hard-hitting.

“You… you have a… some of the…” But Calan was already wiping the wine off his chin, having mercifully spared the sampling of his delectable wine in the form a sudden shower. As nice as it would have made Bellad smell it would have most likely also made the pelt unpleasantly sticky. More importantly, he had been asked an actual question. “Less than a week ago.” He got more to add as soon as he learned the new word. “So the children are at risk of being born bastards no more.” He wasn’t sure how big or small a litter to expect, but he found the plural form was usually close to accuracy.

Bellad’s words punctuated each of the man’s questions. “I do.” He nodded, confirmed the coming of his kids. “Me.” Another nod as he confirmed the kids were indeed his. “I am.” And at that point something seemed to click, even crack, as though having moved past helping the reeling Calan recover from this sudden update on the Songthorn’s life he now took his turn to reel, not for the first time, at the flurry of events that he’d become submerged in head to toe. 

Him. 

A married man with children on the way. 

With Fennore. 

He didn’t even nod, rule of three violated as he instead got very still. “Oh Myriad I am a married man.” Probably the most respectful a rendition of the spirits’ name as he’d uttered under any recent circumstance.

Though sputtering into no wine, Bellad did look momentarily frozen like a cornered hare, eyes wide, posture stiffened to a stand-still. The difference from actual abject fear was that the shiver he was feeling was pleasant. Had he stopped to consider it, he’d have found excitement, even joy. Like the trill of a string in his heart. Before he could continue to fall apart or else sink deeper, something pulled him together and snapped him back to the room. Calan’s arms around him. “Ah…” He breathed out through a smile, expression unbinding itself from that of a retrospective stupefaction. He felt Calan rumble lightly with his chuckle. So much of his faculties did Bellad regain that before Calan withdrew he got the chance to return the favor, an arm wrapping around the man’s back with an amicable pat on the shoulder.

Though he couldn’t speak for the strong of the Realm who have officiated them, for every person involved so far, this has been a happy occasion to hear of. And the litmus test with Calan proved that as jumbled as the order of things may have been, it only put a surprising spin on what was otherwise still a cause for a celebration. It certainly was for Bellad, who smirked amicably and took to sating his friend’s curiosity.

Unsurprisingly Bellad took Calan’s request at face value, even if he wouldn’t satisfy it too explicitly. Not so much that he could compromise Fennore’s dignity behind her back. Besides, he was bashful still about instances too carnal, even if the occasional suggestively quirked eyebrow from Calan seemed to invite him to be more explicit. “To be together at night” was as tantalizing a description as he could count on. There was far more to the story for Bellad to focus on. Their lessons becoming coveted instances of closeness. His blunder at the Feast after which he’d visited Calan to salvage the still fragile bond before it could shatter. He alluded to him and the Isiltári confiding in one another, though, as secrets went, revealed no specifics. The story was not as solemn as one of the tales from his tribe, but it felt no less important to him. The retelling was not as theatrical as a performance, yet he was animated, both expression and body. Sometimes Bellad would turn a bit more quiet. Sometimes he would be excited. Sometimes he would laugh. And always he would seem happier than anyone could remember him.

“And… that is it now. We are married already, but wish to have a public wedding still. It is just that with the Olympics drawing close, to have the ceremony whilst many of the packs are outside the Realm… Well. More, most need to be present for such a thing…” The Songthorn was just about done, but having brought light to much of the recent past it was now time to cast a bit more light into the future. Such a thing, for all his oft exhausting self-reliance, required the help of an ally. “I have only seen Lady Kalypso’s wedding so far… Perhaps you could… I mean, you might know…” The future was clouded and so Bellad was less decisive on words to speak of it. “You could help.” At the last second the questioning tone turned to more of an affirmation of his friend’s powers where it came to celebratory ceremonies. And Bellad's trust in what he could do for his.
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#10
“Less than a week ago, and you’re only telling me now? he huffed, crossing his arms, though it was for show more than anything else. The glimmer of joy in his eyes was too strong and infectious to really be mad. He would have been more offended if it was anyone but Bellad, but having been friends for as long as he had with the healer, he knew that was generally the timeline for him to open up about important things. Waiting a week to say anything about his nuptials fit the bill, as unfortunate as that was.

Still, for as long as they remained friends, Calan would never let him hear the end of it. Public wedding or not, how dare he get married without inviting his best man?! What kind of romantic fairy-tale story was that? He bet Iomair and Vodeva didn’t even bring any alcohol to toast to them after their vows, the stingy bastards. What did they all do, shake hands and go their separate ways? Promise to reconvene in three months with snacks? Their kids would have the most boring story to hear about when they grew up.

Oh, gods. The kids. Plural kids, if luck would have it.

Calan tried to imagine what they would be like but failed. Would they take after their mother or their father more in looks? Or would they be half-and-half, splotchy and patchy like little cows? Knowing their parents, they’d no doubt be the most irritatingly well-behaved and over-achieving pups ever. New Caledonia wasn’t ready for the sheer level of their combined awesomeness.

He was about to imagine how he could teach these kids some real fun when Bellad spoke once more, launching into his tale. The blond listened with rapt attention as the Songthorn took him through the finer details of their romantic tryst… well, of sorts. It wasn’t the kind of juicy story that he had been hoping for, but that, too, was in line with what he’d expected.

Ever the romantic at heart, however, Calan ate it all up. Towards the end, he even had the slightest prickle of tears to his eyes. He wiped them away with a happy sigh.

“Of course I’ll help you. It’d be my honour to.” He placed his hand above his heart in solemn vow. Party planning was amongst one of his favourite things to do, and weddings were the ultimate treat - and the ultimate test of skill. Bellad and Fennore would be in more than capable hands with him in charge.

Reaching for a hair tie to secure his loose ends, the lord got to work. In moments he’d found a spare piece of paper and a quill for writing, and had already started to scribble down various notes in a fine hand. “Let’s see. Why don’t we start with what you’re going to wear?…”

They talked about clothing, then they talked about everything but clothing, Bellad struggling to keep up with the rapid-fire speed and lackadaisical nature of Calan’s various questions. In sure time they managed to find a rhythm for their discussion, peppered through as it was with various non-sequiturs and longwinded analogies. The day passed as such: two friends hard at work, lost in their ideas and each other’s company.

Outside, the breeze was warm, hinting at a marvellous summer wedding to come.
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Let's wrap this up here! Loved this!!
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