This story is dedicated to Ranulf of the Tellius roleplay group. If it weren't for talking to him and listening to the song "In my Arms" by Plumb, this fic would not exist.

Time

Is it possible to love somebody before you have actually laid eyes on them? She thinks so. The moment she knew that he was coming, she knew that she loved him. She waited each day in anticipation of the moment she would meet him, face to face, this child of hers. What color would his eyes be? What sort of personality traits would he possess? Would he be male or female—for at the time, she did not know. The gender did not matter, nor the eye color, or even the personality traits. All that mattered was she knew that she loved him and that he would be loved. What more did either of them need?

When he was born, he was such a tiny little kitten. Unable to do anything for himself, but she wanted to do what she could for him. His happiness was her happiness. Not one tiny cry escaped without her hearing it and being at his side in the next moment. When he slept, she held him in her arms and smiled in soft wonder. How such a little creature could capture her heart in such a big way, she could never explain. Words could never express a mother's love for a child.

She would watch his huge, curious eyes as he explored the world around him. Everything was new to him, and he had to poke his nose into everything. What's this? He must investigate. He approaches things slowly and cautiously, as if they might pounce in his face at any moment. He looks inside a box, and she lightly thumps on the end of it, scaring him out of it. She laughs, and his shock wears off, and he laughs, too. After all, it was kind of funny. And he always knew he was never in any real danger.

Growing up, he becomes so much more independent. When he trains for battle, she always hopes that he will never actually see war. Even small scuffles with others his age fill her with anxiety. What if he should crack his head? One good bash to the head, and she would never see him again. She would shake her head. Of course that couldn't happen to her son. He is a strong, agile warrior. He can handle anything that comes his way.

Even though he's growing up, he doesn't forget his mother. She is more proud of him than anybody else. She is the rock he can always come back to for support. If he's feeling down about a bad day, he can come to her and she will ruffle his hair and tell him silly stories about when he was younger, and remind him that he was happy, and he can still be happy. When he's having a good day, she shares in that happiness. But no matter what, his mother loves him unconditionally. There is never any pressure on him to be anybody but Ranulf.

Time passes. He becomes more embroiled in his work. She can't begrudge him this, it's what he wants to do with his life. The time between their visits grows longer and longer. She waits for them everyday, even though she knows how busy he is. She starts to grow ill, but she never tells him. When he is visiting her, all she wants is to focus on him. She doesn't want to weigh him down with her worries. As the visits grow fewer and far between, she still doesn't tell him. She welcomes him with open arms each time. She asks him how his training is going, and about his interest in the beorc. She remembers everything he says, because everything he tells her is important.

As her illness gets worse, she knows… Time is short. She waits for his next visit, but each day passes… And no Ranulf. She wonders if it's just because she knows she has little time that it seems like it's taking so much longer than the last gap. She doesn't know of his newest mission. She can't leave her home to ask.

She waits… And waits. Still, she hears nothing, sees nothing from her son. She tries so hard to hold on, but death has come for her. Eventually, she must answer his call.

Her last thought is that she longs to see her son, just once more.

She just wants to say goodbye properly.

But she never really had the chance.