[RO] I was worried this wouldn't last
but it was okay in the end
At L'Autre Cour, featuring Mayne.

They were slowly, but surely, approaching their first birthday. Where had the time gone? Where had the long days and night fluttered off to while they grew? It felt like it had only been yesterday when four chubby puppies ran around the house, getting into mischief before falling asleep in piles.

So many milestones had come and gone in the blink of an eye.

They were born on a rather mild late winter day, the sort of day that seemed more springlike than frosty. Sariya had gone into labor quietly despite both men being present. Without batting an eye, she delivered two of the four before either of them realized she had been oddly silent. After their fussing had been seen to, she finished delivering the second half of the litter to the men’s guilty shame.

Sariya stayed with them for the first eight weeks or so before she returned to her home fully. The pups were weaned and no longer needed her for nourishment and she wanted a semblance of normalcy to separate them. The men had repeatedly told her that they had no issues with her presence in the children’s lives and she insisted that it was easier for her to pull away from them.

Whatever else she thought of the situation, she didn’t tell them. Their biological mother’s decreasing frequency of visits hardly registered for the growing pups; their two fathers made up for the lack as they had originally intended. Eventually, she became more of an aunt than mother. If it bothered Sariya, she still said nothing about it, merely grinning over the whole thing as a fond aunt might have.

Mayne was the disciplinarian and Alessan the easy-going doter, though it was more to do with Alessan aging. The gray and white that had sparked the whole creating offspring endeavor continued to spread on his face. It was inevitable that the white would grow the more he aged. Unlike some of his siblings and cousins, Alessan’s generally monochromatic coloration meant the change was more obvious. He had no light creams that hid the increasingly white hair.

He was older than his father had been at the time of his death, but he still felt more intact in comparison. His mind still churned neatly and his memories weren’t snatched away from him. Mayne assured him of that, but he still feared ever forgetting everything that had happened.

Mayne, in comparison, seemed as spritely as ever, but he was nearly a year younger and still kept up with his old tumbling routines for fun. It certainly seemed to keep him spry and Alessan’s heavier work as a vintner was less forgiving. He could still do what he needed to, but the pains and aches took longer to fade. His sons were happy to help with the physical side of things and it eased the burden on his joints.

At least his time hadn’t come yet. He didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, not when he was still alive and relatively well.

Two of his siblings were dead. Thyri died after giving birth to three girls, taking one with her. Myrkr had died soon after from a history of overindulgence of alcohol that had destroyed his body. That one had certainly stung since it had been his profession for so long. But Myrkr had never been an easy spirit regardless of how similar Myrkr and Alessan looked.

He didn’t think anyone else was dead, but it could have been wishful thinking. Last he had heard was that all was well with the small family that remained in New Caledonia, so what could he say? They wouldn’t have wanted to join them in Portland and he didn’t bother sending messengers to tell them about the children. When they were older, perhaps the six of them could take a long trip to visit, but that day wasn’t going to happen with snow on the ground to impede travel and four kids not even a year old yet.

“What are you thinking?” asked the wolfdog as he sat down next to the earthen wolf that was his spouse. Mayne had a set of unfinished wood dice in his hands and a carving knife in his lap.

“I’m thinking that I’m not sweeping up after your wood shavings.” Alessan took a sip of his mug of tea, hiding his smirk when Mayne rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Nearby, Celeste and Aurora were furtively whispering to one another while gesturing with both of their hands. The boys were outside, chopping wood since it was their day for the chore.

Mayne leaned against the Stormbringer, nudging him lightly with an elbow. “You think they’re gossiping about that southern boy that’s come to town?” He was just audible enough for both girls to hear him and Celeste squeaked with embarrassment.

“Dad! We are so not!” countered Aurora with a bluster that suggested they totally had been. Alessan chuckled at her, which only made her puff out her cheeks and huff. Celeste, meanwhile, looked at the table as though the grain was horribly interesting. If the boys had heard them, the teasing would have been tenfold.

“Right, right. Sorry, we’re just talking,” replied the wolfdog with a wide grin. Alessan settled his hand on the man’s thigh fondly, squeezing without saying a thing. The girls gave them one last glance before they returned to their hushed whispers with renewed vigor.

Alessan sat for a few more moments, leisurely drinking the tea to the sound of popping logs, a knife on wooden cubes, and the distant buzz of their sons talking outside.

His heart felt warm.

“I’m thinking this is a good life,” he said out of nowhere, softly so that his husband could hear but not the two girls. Mayne’s knife stopped whittling for a moment before it resumed again after he gave a light chuckle.

Yeah, it was a good life.

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<div class="title">ALESSAN STORMBRINGER</div>
<span style="margin-bottom:1px; font-family:'Amatic SC', serif;">And I cannot decipher between the thrill and the fear. I want to stop but I like it too much to let it stop here</span><br>
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