"Will it ever stop raining?" Gwendolyn could barely hear her own voice above the rushing sound of raindrops on the stone overhead. She leaned back against the ruined stone wall behind her, letting it take the weight from her frame while she rested. The stone was cool and hard against her back, but the sensations were soothing after the tedious days of fighting she had seen.
She sighed, fingertips idly tracing wings where feathers were beginning to grow again, knowing she would soon be able to fly once more, even if not technically as a Valkyrie. She knew all too well the stones she had taken refuge amongst; they once comprised the great halls of Nebulapolis, her father's castle. Even now, she swore if she sat quietly enough, she could hear his voice calling her name. Sometimes, she wandered through the ruins looking for any signs of life asides from herself. But there were no others left in this city, none had survived save herself and Oswald…
Oswald. Her fingers stilled their idle motions as her thoughts strayed to her husband. He had brought her here, to one of the few places in Erion that could provide them shelter. He often left for significant periods of time to scout the surrounding areas; indeed, many times he returned after she had fallen asleep, only to leave again before she had awakened. Yet she knew he had been there, she didn't need to see him to know he was near.
She lifted her eyes back to the dull gray curtain of water that limited her view; not that there as much to view besides barren ground and rock. She recalled her father telling her she would be forced to love the man she was to marry. Well, if this emotion she felt was caused by a spell, she hoped it would never be lifted. Never in her life had she felt such warmth, such completeness, as she had with Oswald. He truly made her feel whole, like an individual instead of merely a warrior. She felt as though she had a purpose now, instead of wandering through her life waiting for someone to love her.
A purpose… She smiled a knowing smile, one hand moving to rest over her belly. She knew one purpose she had now, one born of their love. Her eyes closed, head tilting back as she remembered that night. They had just returned from the Netherworld, had just faced her father's anger over her refusal to hand over the ring Titrel. After exchanging words of love, they had shared a passionate kiss before at last consummating their marriage.
Her smile increased, a slight blush tingeing her cheeks as she recalled that night. He was both powerful and gentle, equally giving and receiving. It had easily been the most wonderful night of her life, and now she had a new appreciation for it, in the form of the new life she now carried. A life she would protect at any costs, as she would that of her husband.
Idly, she wondered how Oswald would react to the news that he was to be a father. Would he be happy? Would he be shocked? Or would he –as she secretly feared- be angry and refuse to acknowledge his child? No, she knew him better. He would not be so cruel as to abandon his own flesh and blood.
"Gwendolyn!" Oswald's shout roused her from her thoughts, and she opened her eyes to see him running toward her. He must have found something, else he would have still been out scouting. She sat up straighter, hands smoothing the edges of her dress as she waited for him.
He approached her quickly, barely even winded from his exertion. "Gwendolyn," he repeated, dropping to his knees. "I…I have the most wonderful thing to show you." He took her hands in his, squeezing them gently between his palms. "Will you come with me?"
"Now?" She raised an eyebrow, looking at the rain the still continued to fall at a steady pace. "Now, when it's still raining?"
He grinned, the gesture making her heart stop for a moment. "What better time?" he asked. Gently, he tugged at her hands, bringing her to her feet. "Besides, I think it would do you good to feel the rain on your face. Don't you agree?"
Smiling, she finally gave in. "Very well, Oswald," she replied. "Take me where you need to."
"How much farther is it, Oswald?" she asked, feeling the start of fatigue creeping into her legs. It felt as though they had been walking for hours; and both the walking and climbing over rubble had fatigued her limbs greatly. All the while, the dull gray rain surrounded them. "Are we almost there?"
He tightened his grip on her hand briefly. "Yes, we're nearly there," he replied, tugging at her hand with a bit more urgency. "It isn't much farther, only a few more feet."
Passively, she allowed him to continue to lead her, her eyes scanning her surroundings for any signs of what he might have discovered. She was so preoccupied with what was around her that she walked into him when he stopped abruptly. He quickly turned and caught her in his arms, but her momentum threw him off-balance as well, as the pair fell to the wet ground in an ungraceful heap.
After several moments, she finally felt her breathing return to normal and her heart rate slow. She shifted so she could look at his face, feeling herself blush a bit as she saw him looking at hers in turn. "S-sorry," she stammered out. "I wasn't paying attention, and…"
"You aren't hurt, are you?" His tone was low and soft, and she felt her breath quicken again as she heard it. Would she ever reach the day when his voice didn't elicit this reaction in her? She hoped not.
She shook her head. "No, I'm fine," she answered softly. "Thanks to you, I'm fine."
He smiled gently, a gesture that made her feel even more lightheaded. "Look over there, Gwendolyn," he whispered, helping her to a sitting position. "Look what I found."
As she turned her head, Gwendolyn felt her eyes widen a bit in surprise. There, amid the barren rocks, grew a single flower. Its blue petals reached toward the sky, toward the life-giving rain, while its emerald leaves spread parallel to the ground, as though attempting to drink even more of it in. Her lips formed a small circle of surprise, before melding into a smile. This had been worth coming out of hiding to see.
"It's the first of spring." She heard his words in her ear, even as she felt his arms slide around her, drawing her to lean back against him. "Remember spring? When everything is born and grows anew?"
"Yes," she whispered. "I remember." How could she have forgotten so easily?
As though on cue, she felt the rain begin to slow, a few feeble rays of sunlight piercing through the thick clouds. One errant beam shone directly onto the solitary blossom in front of them, its beauty making her gasp in delight. "Oswald, it…it's so lovely." She leaned back further in his arms, letting her head rest against his shoulder. "Thank you for bringing me here."
He didn't reply with words, but with his lips pressing gently to her forehead. She smiled, knowing what she wished to say next. "Oswald," she whispered, shifting her head where it lay on his shoulder.
"What is it, Gwendolyn?" His voice was a whisper as well.
"I…" she paused, searching for the right words briefly before deciding to just tell him. "I'm going to have a baby."
She felt his arms tighten around her, saw his smile even before his face turned to hers. "Are you?" he asked, his expression a mixture of disbelief and happiness.
She nodded. "I am," she replied.
She felt her heart race as a smile spread slowly across his lips, and as she felt those lips meet hers, she knew she had all she needed right here. With him.
Whoever sent the rain…Thank you.