Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ruin: Paternity, Part Five

The nursery was busy, and surprisingly full. The woman in charge -- a round-faced human with a kind expression -- looked up as they entered. "Time already?" she asked, then frowned. "No, you're early. Nothing bad, I hope."

Ruin watched as Aesa smiled. "Nothing bad," she said. "But we need to take ours back for tonight. There are introductions to be made."

"Oh?" asked the woman, glancing briefly at Ruin. "More of your true elves?"

"He's their father," Anica said, from Ruin's left, and the woman's expression went blank with surprise. 

Then she smiled, and approached. "Imara DuChamp," she said, extending a hand to Ruin. 

He took it, offered a gentle handshake, and withdrew his grip. "My name," he said, "is Ruin." It hadn't been, not really; Ruin and Regret and all his other moods had just been fill-ins, ways to call him while he decided. But Ruin had stuck with him, and Ruin was what everyone else used. And here he was, telling a human who likely hadn't the slightest clue about any of this that he was choosing it for his adult name. 

"Right, well, yes, first of all I'm terribly sorry it's so crowded in here, it's just that when the elves took over the city we had to close the orphanage and move all the children into the temple. Safer that way, but crowded."

Ruin made a vague gesture. "This is all new to me anyway," he said. 

Imara glanced at Anica, then at Aesa. "I'll fetch your children, then," she said, then stepped back and turned away. 

Ruin glanced at Aesa, then at Anica. "You keep them here during the day?" he asked. 

Anica nodded. "Sometimes overnight, if we're away on business. Mostly we all gather in the evenings, though, and let the children play together. It makes it easier, if one of us can watch them while the others prepare the meals and get everyone set."

"So it's the two of you," said Ruin, frowning slightly as he puzzled through this, "and...?"

"Tarric and Werendril," finishes Aesa. "They're--" She glanced at Anica. "--helping us out."

Anica sighed. "It's a bit more than that."

Ruin opened his mouth to ask, but at that moment Imara returned, holding a toddler in each arm. "See?" she said, looking from one child to the other. "I told you your mothers were here." 

Small, round-faced and pointy-eared, the two children twisted and lifted their arms, and Anica and Aesa stepped in to grab them. Ruin swallowed. 

"Come on," said Anica. "It's family time. We'll introduce you there." 

"It was a pleasure to meet you, Ruin," said Imara. 

Ruin nodded back, dazed. "Likewise." Being told he had children was one thing; seeing them was something else again. And he had no idea how Werendril and Tarric were part of this, though they obviously were... 

Still shaking his head, he followed Anica and Aesa back to their chambers.

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