A/N: Well, here it is, as promised: the long-awaited epilogue. It's not even remotely what I had been planning to do (which is part of why it took me so long), but this popped into my head and there was just no going back. I sincerely hope that you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And, again, thank you to everyone who has stuck with this story to the end. It means a lot to me.
Unbeta'd. I'm sure FullMetalRaven would have done it if I'd asked, but I wanted at least one thing in this story to come as a surprise to her. So… any mistakes are my own.
Teyla shivered slightly against the chill of the night air, taking a moment to slide a bit closer to the dying fire and pull the blanket tighter around herself. The embers glowed with a slow, deliberate heat, casting a ring of red light over the gentle folds of her skirt. Deep shadows danced across the thick mats. Her eyes slipped out of focus, then back again. A lazy smile curled across her lips. She was fading quickly into sleep; soon it would be time to head back to the village for the night.
She barely registered the footsteps behind her, the gentle thump as another body lowered itself to the ground. A pair of heavily muscled arms wrapped themselves around her; her mind tensed momentarily before relaxing as familiar fingers wove instinctively through her own.
"I haven't seen you in a few hours," she murmured softly, allowing herself to lean back against the warmth of Ronon's chest. "Are you having a good time?"
"Mmm." She felt the gentle warmth of his breath on the back of her neck as he kissed the skin beneath her ear. "The children captured me. I swear, if I have to give one more shoulder ride, someone's going to get shot."
Teyla chuckled quietly as her eyes slipped shut, turning her face into the curve of his shoulder. She felt the fingers of his left hand toying with her own, gently spinning the thin wood circling her ring finger. Her mind drifted slowly back to the memory.
Although rings were not traditional in either of their cultures, Ronon had taken a liking to the Earth custom. Not to say, of course, that he hadn't found a way to make it his own – their own. He told her later that the delicate metal and sparkling stones seemed too showy, too fragile. A woman as beautiful as Teyla, he had said, needed no glittering jewelry to draw attention. The dark circle he had slipped onto her hand seven months ago, carved from the rich wood of his sparring stick, was far more fitting in his mind. To him it would always represent everything he loved about her most: the fight, the fire, the spirit. In place of a stone, he had carved out the intricate symbol that had graced her neck last year. She had cried.
So had he.
So had Rodney, although to this day he wouldn't admit to it. But that was another matter entirely.
The deep rumble of Ronon's voice tugged her gently back to the present. "It's a shame, you know, that you couldn't speak this year."
"You did a fine job," Teyla yawned. "And you did earn it."
The quiet laugh that vibrated through his chest tickled against her cheek. "Yes, that I did. Although I have to say that the competition this year was disappointing."
"Was it really?" She copied his playful tone, turning her face up to watch his. "How so?"
"Well," he brushed his lips across her own. "It probably had something to do with the fact that my wife refused to compete."
She caught his eyes, watching the glow of the embers reflected there. "If I recall correctly, that was her husband's idea."
"And for good reason." He snorted, instinctively smoothing his fingers across the gently growing curve of her stomach. "No sense giving the little one battle scars before she can even defend herself."
"Mmm." Teyla lowered her head once more, nestling back into the folds of his tunic. "And here I thought you were just trying to avoid the humiliation of getting your ass kicked by a woman with morning sickness."
He sighed overdramatically. "Yes, well, that too."
A peaceful silence settled over them. Ronon brought one hand up to her neck, gently stroking the auburn curls that spilled over her shoulders. He could feel her breathing slowing down, approaching the quiet rhythm of sleep. He was about to lift her to her feet when the gentle murmur of her voice reached his ears once more.
"I suppose it's good practice." The mumbled words were slurred almost beyond recognition.
With a tiny sigh, she nuzzled even further into the opening of his tunic. He could feel the small puff of her breath against his skin. "The shoulder rides."
Ronon didn't even try to fight the silent grin that curled across the edges of his mouth. Some battles just can't be won.
A/N: Well, there you have it. Hope you enjoyed. Don't hesitate to drop me a note if you did. If you liked this story, do keep your eyes open, because I've got another in the works.