written for fiefgoldenlake dot proboards dot com's Autumn Bingo challenge!

"I knew I'd find you out here." There are heavy footsteps behind her, then a sigh as their owner sinks into the pile of leaves. "It's a bit chilly, no?"

"It's just wind," Kel says, playing with the fringe on her scarf. "I'm fine."

"As you always are." Dom leans into her side, a warm hand placed at the small of her back. Kel breathes in the crisp, leafy scent in the air.

"I can't believe Kita has started page training. I'm sure that somewhere Lord Wyldon is going into shock."

"I couldn't believe Neal's face when she told him," Dom chuckles. "I think half of Corus heard him bellowing about his youngest daughter and how insanity must run in the family- though I will admit that's a given."

"He's got Eoin and Midora for his mages," Kel says. "And I will admit I'm happy my goddaughter is following in my footsteps."

"As is Hollyrose's daughter- how many godchildren did you have at last count? Six? Eight?"

Kel's grin is crooked. "Nine, I believe. My friends just keep on having children."

He lays a hand on her knee. "Do you ever want one of your own?"

She turns. "Dom-"

"We've been dancing around each other for fifteen years, Kel. That's as long as you've had your shield." She knows without looking at his face that he's entirely serious, and that this is something he's been thinking about for a while.

"But the Own," Kel says, the response that always jumps to the front of her mind when she allows herself to speculate. "I've never wanted to be the reason you gave it up." She sighs. "Which I'm assuming you knew."

"And a decade ago that made sense," Dom replies, "so I didn't try to- explain, or ask for more than you were willing to give. And back then I was satisfied with what we had."

She looks up at the sky, looks at the moon and pinpricks of light shining through the clouds. "Then what's changed? Why now?"

"I don't want to be forty and die in the field with nothing to show for it," Dom says. "And look at you. You've accomplished more in a decade and half than most people do in a lifetime."

"You're making me feel old," Kel says, a trace wryly. "Is that really what you're intending?"

He pulls her closer. "But we're not old. We have so much time in front of us- there's years of tormenting my cousin ahead, and you realizing that I actually am a decent cook. We can go to the Yamani Islands and visit your nieces, or we can go to the desert and see the Bazhir tribe that's adopted half the Own- and there's and mothering other people's children or maybe even having some of our own so that Lord Raoul can have a captive audience for his stories-"

"You knew what my answer was going to be when you came out here," Kel accuses. Dom's grin is unrepentant.

"And do you care?" He asks.

She shakes her head. "Not really," she says, and kisses him the same way she will for the rest of her life.