It’s Hug Your OC Day! Considering that it’s been a while since I wrote and I left my Hawke family on relatively happy endings in the meantime, I’ve decided to offer preemptive hugs to young!Metis and his wife Mara, on account of the pain that there will be if/when I finally write down their backstory.
“You keep Varania occupied,” said Mara, “and I shall wash
“I can help,” Metis began to insist, carrying dishes in a
tenuous stack toward the basin.
Mara shook her head, intercepting him to take the pile. “And
while you do that, she’ll be out in the herb garden trying to dig a tunnel to
He considered with a smile at that memory. “Right. Well
then, I’ll just go…supervise any digging. Keeping it strictly imaginary, of
Mara’s ears followed the sound of their progress as she
worked through the dishes. Her husband’s laughter pursued the squeals of their daughter
from one side of the yard to the other, deftly steering her away when she came
too near what remained of their kitchen herbs. She grinned when she heard the
wordless shrieks and giggles give way to a shout of “I fly, Papa! I fly!”
Through the window, Mara caught a glimpse of the tiny girl lifted aloft in her
father’s arms, zooming around the yard.
When the dishes were washed and dried, Mara took advantage
of the cottage’s emptiness (astounding how thoroughly a tiny two-year-old
seemed to fill any space where she was) to extend the tidying-up to the rest of
it, sweeping out one little room after another, returning to their places the
chairs Varania had dragged together in an attempt to climb up to the counter
where Mara kept the remnants of yesterday’s sweet biscuits. As she gathered
clothes for washing (Varania’s dress from yesterday thoroughly muddied from her
tunneling attempts in the garden), the patter of footsteps announced their
return indoors. Passing through the front room with the laundry basket under
her arm, Mara saw them seated before the hearth as Metis made up some story for
the wide-eyed girl on his lap.
All was quiet when she returned some time later with the
empty basket, leaving the laundry behind on the drying line. Glancing towards
the fire, she saw that they hadn’t actually moved. Metis was sprawled on his
back, one arm behind his head, the other draped over Varania, snuggled on his
chest and sound asleep. Mara stepped closer, unable to resist the urge to
straighten her daughter’s rumpled dress and smooth the red hair out of her eyes.
Neither of the sleepers stirred at her ministrations.
She left them to it, eventually, and went to fetch a blanket
from a chest, spreading it carefully over them both before she went on about
her business. There was mending to finish before the daylight faded (Varania’s dress,
torn three days ago when she caught it on the fence she was trying to squeeze
through). Settled down in a chair near enough the hearth to keep an eye on
them, Mara sat and stitched till only firelight remained. They shifted in their
sleep from time to time, but neither woke.
Mara went to get ready for bed herself, peeking at them from
time to time, biting at her lip as she considered waking them. Varania was
young enough to sleep anywhere, she supposed, but Metis would be stiff in the
morning from sleeping on the floor. Best to send them back to bed, then—but,
approaching with that intent, she saw Varania still curled up on Metis’ chest,
her head tucked beneath his chin, her small fist twisted in the fabric of his tunic,
and Mara could not bear to disturb them, whatever morning might bring.
She returned to the bedroom, but as comfortable and enticing
as the bed’s softness was after the day’s work, it seemed all too much. She lay
there wide awake for a time, staring out the window and straining to hear the
sounds of the Seheron wildlife, before finally pulling herself to her feet with
a huff of resignation. “Spoiled me for sleeping alone, you two have,” she
muttered, gathering the blanket and pillows from the bed and stumbling with her
load back into the front room.
The tableau before the hearth was unchanged. She spread the
second blanket over them before crawling in under it herself, attempting to
slide a pillow under Metis’ head without waking him.
She nearly succeeded, but he stirred as she finished and curled
herself against his side. Metis hummed, blinking blearily at her, and Mara
shushed him. “Go back to sleep, darling. It appears we’re camping out.”
Half awake, he glanced at her and then at the fireplace
behind her. “Or in, it seems.” The hand that had been stretched behind his
head, he now rearranged to hold her closer to his side, while Varania, still
stretched out on top of him, sighed in her sleep. “You should know, Mara,” he
murmured, “this daughter of yours is a demanding taskmaster. Had me flying her
around the yard till we wore both ourselves out.”
“As demanding as her father is obliging,” Mara muttered
wryly. When there was no response she glanced over to see that the obliging
father had already fallen asleep again. “Lucky girl,” she added in a whisper,
with a kiss to his cheek before she settled in against his side for the night.