July 21, 2016 by Lyn
First Week of July, 2000
“It’s not exile, Shahin.” Yngvi and Ayla sandwiched her, hugging her tightly from both sides. “It’s a month, that’s all.” Yngvi, always rational, patted her shoulder.
“The doctors both said it would be good for you to see your family for a little while. And for Emrys to see his,” Ayla put in. “It’s not like it will be the whole month away from him, either, just a few days.”
“A few days…” Shahin trailed off. She wanted to say, in her most melodramatic fashion, a few days will seem like an eternity. But she didn’t. Instead, she hugged them both tighter. “I won’t see you guys again until September.”
“But have no fear.” Yngvi’s smile was dry and sardonic, as always. “You will see us then.”
“And maybe before that.” Carefully, Ayla touched noses with her. “Io and I are going to risk visiting my parents and hers, but we’re not sure how well that will go on either front. We may show up on your doorstep before long.”
“You know you’ll be welcome there. Both of you.” Shahin tightened the hug. “We made it,” she added, barely whispering.
“We made it through our first year,” Yngvi countered. “But you found your true love.”
She couldn’t help a bittersweet smile. “I did. Two of them.” She turned her smile on Arturo in his carrier. “You’ll find yours, Vi.”I’ve seen it. Telling him that, though, would lead into places she didn’t want to go, not today. Instead, she brushed a hand across his goatee. “Grow this out, this summer.”
“This isn’t the time of year to grow out a beard, Shahin.”
“Then Work it long when you come back to school.”
“More or less.” She smiled at both of them. “Thank you, guys, for everything.”
Ayla squeezed her again. “Emrys is coming. We should let the three of you say good…. say bye-for-now.”
“Thanks, Ayla. And… you know, if you and Io need it – or if your family gets too much, Vi – you can always come visit, here or at my mother’s home. We’d love to see you.”
“We’ll stop in, at least.” Ayla gave her one more hug. “Can’t let you go all summer without me around to calm you down.”
“Probably not.” She rubbed the back of her wrists uncomfortably. “I like to think that I’ve mellowed, at least for Arturo’s sake…”
“You have,” Vi assured her. “But you’re still a mellow… you.” His smile was warm and affectionate. “Not that I’m one to talk.”
“I love you both anyway. Come on, Vi, let’s leave them alone.” Ayla tugged her bother off as Emrys, who had been walking slowly to allow them their good-byes, finally made it to Shahin’s side. “Bye, Emrys.”
“See you next year, Ayla. Yngvi.” He wasn’t sparing them any attention, though; his eyes and his hands were already on Shahin. “Sheen, I…”
She kissed him, effectively shutting him up. They’d already gone over all the details. They’d already planned everything and precogged everything she could and lit everything on fire he could. They’d already written the dates on their calendars and bought the tickets and gone over contingency plans.
“It’s a visit home, Emrys,” she repeated, when she pulled back to breathe. “We’ll both survive.”
“You know Tolly and Dysmas promised to keep her away from Arturo.”
“I’m allowed to worry.” He kissed her cheek. “Sheen… we haven’t been apart since…”
“Since we got married.” It wasn’t what either of them meant, but she didn’t want to think about the other thing, not here at the train station, heading out into the world. “A little bit of distance will be all right.”
“Are you saying you won’t miss me?”
“Now you’re just being silly.” She kissed him, pressing her body against his, peeling her gloves off to touch his neck and his ponytail, tasting his sweet breath and the heat of his flame. “I will miss you every single moment of every single day.” She snaked one hand inside his jacket. “I’ll send you letters. I’ll send you pictures of your son.” A small smile crossed her lips. “It might be romantic… though, I’ll admit, it will be more so if you remember to write me back.”
“No promises.” His smile was warmer than she remembered it being, nearly a year ago, which made her smile in return, and touch the front of his throat.
“Remember our first kiss?”
“I do. You’re not dressed for another one like that.”
“Not near Addergoole, no. But once I get back, in the privacy of our own room…” She brushed her lips against his, a soft promise of things to come. “Then…?”
“Then.” He picked up Arturo in his carrier, and looked solemnly at the tiny baby. “You keep your mother safe for me, until I see you again.”
“Emrys!” She brushed aside the images of a thousand more times he’d say that, stifled a small sob, and hugged them both, carrier and all. “The train is coming.”