Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Elantra. They belong to Michelle Sagara. The sole purpose of this fic is to release these plot bunnies into the world, and to help populate this section with Fanfiction.
Note: This story isn't about how Kaylin and Nightshade got together, because that isn't the idea I had, and I don't want to write the huge amount of words it would take to actually GET them together. I'll leave that to Michelle Sagara, since for once, I'm writing for a couple that actually seems to have some canon support for them. (I know, it's weird, given my track record for crack pairings, lol.)
This is set a few years after the timeline that the Elantra books are set in. I tried to keep this as spoiler-free for Cast in Ruin as possible, but some things, like the Barrani curse word she discovers, were too sweet to not add in.
And a quick note about Severn, I like him as a character and I really do feel sorry for him about Kaylin, but I'm a Nightlin shipper, so…yeah. I did attempt to tie up the Severn loose end a little in this case, and I hope that doesn't put anyone off to this story. I will attempt to explain how this happens later on. And you're all free to name the girl he ends up with. She doesn't appear in this chapter, and though I know what her personality will be like, I haven't named her.
Kaylin felt as if the ground had suddenly dropped out from beneath her, or as if the relatively sturdy wooden chair that the midwives' guild had provided for her would suddenly not be enough to bear her weight. Given the fact that she had sat here before to catch her breath after assisting with particularly difficult deliveries, the thought was unsettling. She clasped her hands together, very pointedly staring at a point on the floorboards instead of the woman currently speaking to her.
She was fairly certain that what the woman was saying was impossible—certain to the point that she would have been willing to bet her entire salary against it if it had ever come up in the office betting pools. But, she realized, with a stubborn scowl, impossible was a word that had steadily begun to lose its meaning over the past few years. Taking a Barrani true name for herself? Impossible. Meeting the Emperor…without getting eaten? Impossible. Willingly living in Castle Nightshade? Impossible. Getting promoted? Well, she would have bet that that was impossible.
And that was barely scratching the surface.
"Kaylin," said the woman, a little more insistently, and causing her to look up. The woman's frown softened slightly at the edges. "You should come in once in a while for a few quick checks to make sure everything's going smoothly." Her eyes flicked over to the door. "Does your Corporal know?"
She grimaced, getting up and reaching for her coat. The woman handed it to her, and she slipped it on over her shoulders. She really couldn't blame her for her assumption, but explaining the truth was going to be a little tricky. "He's not my Corporal," she said. "And he's married."
The midwife looked unconvinced, and Kaylin winced, not really being able to blame her. She must have seen dozens of cases where that wasn't exactly a mitigating factor. "He's not…it's not him." Her face was burning. She could tell. She shrugged her shoulders. It was a fief shrug, and her way of dodging the next question. "No, he doesn't know."
"I…see…" said the midwife. "I have some herbs that'll help with nausea if you start needing it. You know you're more than welcome to come by."
At the moment, Kaylin wanted nothing more than to end the conversation and leave. She nodded once, thanking the woman, and hurried out the door to where Severn was waiting. The midwives' guild had more or less plucked her off the street at the end of her beat to help with an emergency, and as men weren't generally allowed into the building unless they were fathers or relatives, Severn had to wait by the entrance. She was grateful that they didn't make him wait outside in the cold, at least.
He stood leaning against the doorframe, and although he didn't say as much, Kaylin could sense his impatience to get home. The healing had taken a little longer than it should have, partly because her magic was being so stubborn, and partly because she had had to stop and ask the midwife for…help with her current situation. Her face was still warm from that conversation, and her mind was still a tangled jumble of thoughts. Alright, so maybe she had had her suspicions, but she had expected them to be eased, not confirmed.
"Ready to go?" asked Severn, frowning.
"Yeah," said Kaylin, fiddling with the buttons on her coat. "Sorry for keeping you."
He shrugged, a fief gesture, and the two of them headed out the door. Almost at once, the chilly winter wind hit them, and Kaylin instinctively pulled her coat tighter around herself. She had been colder than this as a child, and at least now she had a coat, and a place to sleep that was decently warm, but that didn't mean it was pleasant. "Office?" he asked.
She nodded once. "Marcus'll want a report."
Severn frowned, looking up at the sky. "It'll be dark pretty soon…" he commented.
Kaylin cursed. She had been hoping to delay her return to the fiefs until she had collected her thoughts enough. She was a famously bad liar, and Nightshade was Barrani. He would sense her unease almost the instant she crossed the Ablayne.
"Can I stay with you?" she asked. "I really don't want to head back now."
Severn's eyes darkened, and his brows rose. He glanced over at her. "Kaylin…" he said.
She shook her head, immediately knowing what he thought was wrong. "No," she said. "It's nothing like that. He didn't do anything to me. I just…don't want to see him right now, that's all."
Severn looked unconvinced. Kaylin would have told him what happened, but they were nearing the Halls now, and she wanted at least a little bit of time to come to terms with it. "Look, I'll explain it later," she said. "Please? I'll even babysit Kaden. I know you need a break." She tried to ignore the pleading tone her voice too. Severn, however, relented, nodding once at her.
"I'll mirror home from the office," he promised, as they reached the Halls of Law.
Kaylin nodded back. The guards at the door—they were Swords this time, and Kaylin didn't know their names—let them pass without too much hassle and they made their way into the office. She noted that Marcus's desk only had a few more furrows in it than it had when they left this morning. It must have been a relatively good day. The pile of paperwork on it, though, wasn't getting any smaller, and from the way Marcus was glaring at it, there was probably something on there that he didn't like.
She immediately thought back to all of the things she had done in the past week, just in case the offending report had something to do with her. Since she couldn't think of anything and he wasn't…presently…growling at her, she let it slide, exhaling slowly and looking up at him as she and Severn stood at attention at his desk.
"Corporal," said Marcus.
To her credit, she didn't ask him which Corporal he was talking about, content to let Severn do to the talking this time. She half-listened as he went on to report, her eyes roving over the office. Caitlin was there, engrossed in conversation with a couple of human Hawks. She caught her eye and gave Kaylin a motherly smile, one that she half-heartedly returned. Her eyes landed on Teela and Tain, standing by the window. She felt her stomach churn. She really didn't want to talk to anyone about this, but she knew she had to at least talk to someone who was female, someone she knew well, and someone who understood Barrani customs. And since she really didn't feel like talking to two different people, there was only one person in the room who fit all three criteria.
"Corporal Neya, are you even paying attention?" growled Marcus. She quickly snapped her eyes back towards him, lifting her chin slightly and exposing her throat. Marcus growled at her, but didn't say anything further, and the two of them were dismissed for the day, with one threatening reminder of her next magic lesson with Sanabalis. She didn't say anything, because the thought of using magic right now made her distinctly uncomfortable. Her last attempt, besides the healing today, wasn't exactly something she wanted the Dragon Lord to know about. Severn left to use the mirror, and she took a deep breath, steeling her courage as she went over to the two Barrani Hawks.
"Teela, can I talk to you for a minute?" she asked.
The two of them looked up at her. Their eyes were green…for the moment, but they exchanged glances with each other. Finally, Teela rose gracefully and nodded, and the two of them walked to the other side of the room. She wasn't sure it was far enough to get out of Tain's hearing, but at least Tain had the decency to turn around and pretend he wasn't listening.
Fair enough. Whatever she told Teela would probably get to Tain anyway.
"What did you want to talk about, kitling?" asked Teela.
Kaylin took a deep breath. "I went to the midwives' guild today. They had an emergency…" She trailed off. Teela frowned at her, but her eyes didn't change color.
"Yes," she said. "And?"
"I…well…I was having some…suspicions…so I asked the leader of the guild…and…?"
Flecks of blue began to appear in the Barrani Lord's eyes. "Yes, kitling," said Teela, her tone a warning. "And?"
She took a deep breath again and exhaled very slowly. It didn't help. "…She said I was pregnant."
Kaylin could count the number of times she had seen Barrani eyes shift from emerald green to bright blue that fast. Usually, it didn't turn out well for the people they were looking at. She almost took a step back. Almost.
"That's impossible," said Teela.
"You're telling me," mumbled Kaylin. "But it made sense…at least it explains why my magic's acting up."
"I…set a room on fire trying to light a candle the other day," she said, still wincing in memory. It had been a room full of books. Old books. To say Nightshade hadn't been pleased would be an understatement. If she wasn't already used to seeing blue-eyed Barrani from all the odd occurrences she'd been put through over the past few years, she might have been terrified. He had remarked to her, as he gracefully stamped out a few embers from a book not as badly damaged, that it might be to her benefit to ask Lord Sanabalis to revert to the candle part of her lessons. "Teela, what do I do?"
"Well, have you told him yet?" asked Teela.
"No, I haven't told him yet. I—." She froze. The mark on her cheek suddenly warmed, making its presence known.
Teela muttered a few choice curse words under her breath, noticing her expression. Kaylin turned away from her, focusing on the voice she could hear in her mind.
Not her most convincing answer.
The sun is setting.
It wasn't hard to sense the subtle reprimand in his voice. Kaylin winced.
I got delayed, she said, There was an emergency in the midwives' guild.
She sensed his silent irritation. Normally, he would send Andellen to escort her back to the Castle at night, but she knew that Andellen couldn't be spared right now, due to some issue in the fief. Of course, it would help if she knew exactly what the issue was, but true to Barrani form, neither of them were very forthcoming.
I'll stay at Severn's for the night, she said. And I'll be back after work tomorrow.
Nightshade wasn't pleased with her answer, but he said nothing, and she felt the connection fade away. Kaylin sighed, her shoulders slumping as the warmth from the mark disappeared.
"He knows you're hiding something now," said Teela. Kaylin jumped, turning towards her.
"How…?" she asked.
"Because, kitling," said Teela. Her eyes were still blue, but her expression was less outraged and more contemplative now. "I could tell that you were hiding something, and I couldn't hear the conversation." She frowned. "You need to tell him. He already won't be pleased that you've spoken to me, the midwife, and Corporal Handred first."
Kaylin resisted the urge to inform Teela that she hadn't yet told Severn anything, nodding once. It was probably obvious that she was going to tell Severn at some point anyway. Teela sighed and raised a hand.
"Before you ask, no, I can't predict how he'll react. And I can't predict what…traits the…child will inherit. This has never happened before." Reading the expression off Kaylin's face, Teela went on. "Yes," she said. "There have been instances in the past where Barrani have taken an interest in mortals. They are few, and far between. None of those instances have ever resulted in offspring."
Kaylin fell silent for a long moment.
"Well…" she said, already knowing the answer to the question. "…Did any of those mortals have Barrani names?"
"No," said Teela, sharply. "And that is the only reason why I don't think you, and the midwife, are completely insane."
"You think the name is the reason why this happened?" asked Kaylin.
Teela raised an eyebrow. "I think you and I both know the reason why this happened," she said, causing Kaylin to turn red. Teela cut off her protest with a raised hand. "We don't yet know how the name affects you." And because Kaylin was expecting an answer, she nodded. "Yes, that would be my best guess."
"How long—," Kaylin began, but Teela silenced her with a look.
"About as long as in humans," she hissed under her breath.
A few moments later, Severn stepped out of the office, looking at them. If he thought anything about the bright blue glare Teela was sporting, he said nothing, turning towards Kaylin.
"Ready?" he asked.
She nodded once, and the two of them began to walk back out into the city.