The name of this story is borrowed, with blessings, from the lovely author of the same name who kindly translated my stories into Russian. This story will be long, rambling, and in no rush, but at this time it's about 80% written and sitting snug and happy on my computer. I should update fairly regularly, but if there are no signs of life out of me, don't hesitate to give me a poke. All mistakes -and I'm sure there are plenty - are mine. I hope you all enjoy.

Prologue: Setting the Scene

"He's late."

"No, he's not."

"It must be nigh well on midday at least!"

"Look at the sun. It's barely halfway to noon."

"He should be here by now."

"I'll remind you, brother, his letter said to look for him in time for tea and that he expects coffee instead."

"Halfway to noon is appropriate for tea. Perhaps he's forgotten."

A patient sigh sounded.

"How could he when you've written more letters confirming his plans than the Nancy ever wrote him two years ago? The Bats won't come near the smithy any more for fear you'll send them off to Cair Paravel to confirm what you already know. Again."

"I simply want to be sure nothing happens to him. He might have been ambushed. Waylaid!"

"By some picnicking Fauns and Hedgehogs, perhaps."

"Look what happened to him a year after Beruna!"

"I was there. La, I saw. You know full well his brother dealt with that pasty-faced wench's poor excuse of a curse. Look at him now – or, rather, when he gets here. He's perfectly healthy and growing like the most annoying sort of weed that he is. Cease this worrying, Brickit! Do you actually think Edmund won't approve?"

Another sigh sounded, though from a different breast and fueled by anxiety, and that was answer enough.

"La, you do! What fault could he possibly find?"

"None, but . . ."

"He's a son of the Clan, named so by you, and rightly and proudly so. He'll be as happy as we are – or as we would be if you'd cease this very Nancy-ish display of nerves."

"What if she doesn't like him?"

"What's to dislike but everything?"

"What if he doesn't like her, Brint?"

"Then you've adopted a fool, Chief Smith, and you know full well you haven't. Edmund," he added softly, "is the least of your problems."