((I wrote this for Bricu last year, but I can’t remember if I ever posted it anywhere. Happy Winter Veil to all!))
Dalaran was covered in lights. Threnn was tired of the cold, tired of the snow, but here, with the reds and blues and greens reflecting from every window, she didn’t mind it so much. It seemed odd, all this festivity while the Bloody Prince’s presence loomed over damned near everything. And yet, the lights and the songs and feasting were exactly what weary soldiers would need when they returned from the front.
[i]Drinking and dancing. Good for morale.[/i] She grinned as she stepped into the Ledgerdemain Lounge and was greeted by a puff of warm air and a chorus of “The Greatfather’s Hat.” No one turned to offer the pregnant woman a hand with her tools, nor did anyone call out to see if she needed help carrying the unwieldly looking thing in her arms, but that was all right. This was very likely the last time anyone would let her do something like this on her own, at least for a few months. Rather than curse the lack of courtesy on the part of the Lounge’s patrons, she relished the opportunity.
It did, however, mean she paused during her climb up the stairs, and she reached the top with more than a bit of huffing and puffing. [i]Still so bloody out of shape.[/i] Only, that wasn’t true. She’d slept a long time, yes, but since she’d awakened, she’d been drilling nearly every day.
No, this was her body getting used to the baby’s weight, and its way of telling her it was time to put down the hammer, at least for a little while. She’d finished her final project on time; that would have to be enough.
Depsite the terrible racket she made as she pushed into their room, neither cat nor penguin acknowledged her entry. Someone had been in to light the fire, and Tirion and Sasha lay snoozing before it on the hearth, curled around one another. “Never know the two of you had a war in here two weeks ago,” she muttered.
She propped her newly completed project against the end of the bed, where Bricu would be sure to see it when he came in. She pulled a ridiculously huge red ribbon from her bag of tools and fussed with it until the bow was as perfect as she could make it. Then she turned away and set about putting her tools away for the rest of the long winter, wrapping them in oilcloth and placing them in a chest until all that remained were the smaller ones — good for minor repairs to armor and blades, but nothing that would require her to swing a hammer.
When that was done, she ventured downstairs, braving the crowd to retrieve hot mulled cider, two bowls of soup and a loaf of the Lounge’s fresh bread. The serving girl who brought the tray out from the kitchens insisted on carrying it up to the room for her. Threnn relented and accepted the help, tipping the harried-looking blonde well before sending her back into the fray.
Full dark had fallen; he’d be home any minute. Threnn arranged their places at the table by the window, leaving room for a few more small packages — a pouch of Northern tobacco, a silver jeweler’s loupe, and an old volume on the deeds of several Arathi kings she’d bribed away from one of the Abbey’s librarians.
Threnn settled into her chair and sipped at a mug of cider, looking out the window across Dalaran. Their first two Winter Veils together certainly hadn’t been the kind of picturesque holidays you heard about in songs and stories. Bricu had spent the first one in a three week long slumber of his own, dreaming dark dreams of Stratholme while his body reacted — violently, sometimes — to the sudden lack of alcohol. The second, he’d been tied up in duties for the Scryers. Oh, they’d allowed him to come home for a night, but the paladins had spent the night knowing he’d be gone again come morning. And Threnn had been distracted enough herself – the Light was gone, then. It hadn’t flowed back to her until after the year had turned.
But this year would be different. [i]Third time’s the charm, they say.[/i] She rested her hand on her belly and smiled. They’d earned a night or two of peace and quiet, and not even Arthas himself was going to take this away from her.
On the street below, she spied a familiar silhouette heading for the Lounge — Bricu’s broad shoulders, draped in her grandfather’s cloak. The handle of his axe peeked up from behind him as he finished his cigarette. He glanced up towards their window and caught her looking, gave her a wave before heading inside.
Moments later, she heard the tread of his boots on the stairs. The doorknob turned and in came her husband, stamping his feet to shake off the cold. His eyes fell upon the axe and he grinned. “Strewth, Threnny. Is that…?”
“For you,” she said, rising and bringing him a mug of cider. “‘s the last I’ll be making until early in the summer, at least. Hoping the weight’s all right. Haven’t made too many axes, myself.”
He stepped over to it and hefted it, leaving the bow in place. “Aye, it feels fine. I’ll let yeh know after a few swings, but I don’t think the innkeepers’d look too kindly on me testin’ it out inside.”
He put it down and returned to her, taking the mug from her hands and placing it atop a bureau. He gathered her into his arms and kissed her hello. “Yeh know,” he said after a time, “this’ll be the last night o’ Winter Veil that’s just the two o’ us. Tash’ll be here tomorrow, an’ Annie an’ Fin.”
She smiled. He’d been planning the menu for days, adding and discarding courses left and right until he finally found a combination that satisfied him. “And next year…”
“Aye. An’ next year…” He placed a hand over her belly and was rewarded with a kick. “Och. Happy Winter Veil, Threnny.”
Threnn lay her hand over his. Tomorrow was for family and friends, old and new. But tonight was for the two of them alone. “Happy Winter Veil, love,” she said, and drew him down for another kiss.