The winter was a long and snowy one. Satinalia was a happy holiday, the modest festivities the village got up to greatly enjoyed by all. The village was astonished to find out that Leto could actually play the lute, which he obligingly did at the Satinalia dance. Rose and Amalia spent a certain amount of time using Burning Hands to clear paths and walkways, and Rose finally took up her study of healing with Moira Tirsden, as did Amalia. It was fun for Matthias' daughter, so long Rose's pupil, to be a pupil with Rose, who despite her overall competency had a lot to learn about this new branch of magic.
By unspoken agreement, the village continued to refer to the Champion and her husband as Rose and Leto Thornwell. It seemed safest if the Hawke name was allowed to sink into obscurity. And Rose pointed out that Leto was actually Fenris' real name and the one he preferred, as Fenris was a name given him by his late, hated master.
Nothing much ever happened in Honnleath. Amalia would have thought that people used to as much excitement as the Champion and her husband would eventually grow bored and restless. But it did not happen. Rose and Leto Thornwell took each day as it came, enjoying the small pleasures and milestones, such as Bethany's first tooth. The two of them twined theirselves even more tightly into the heart of the village. Leto formally took up learning smithing from Coris Blaylock, for which it turned out that he had a decided talent and Patience Murray finally succeeded where Leandra Hawke had not, and taught Leandra's daughter to sew a straight seam.
Rose's plans for her garden the upcoming year were extremely ambitious, and she was looking through some of Wilhelm's old books for information on permanent enchantments. She had an idea that if she could enchant stones to give out a permanent level of heat and light, then she could make some sort of hothouse for plants. Wilhelm himself had done a little bit of that in the windmill for his magical plants, and Rose wanted his plans. She was speaking of raising fresh vegetables in basements in the depths of winter…Such things could not be sold in Serrenfield-the town was too small to have the market for them, and to take them farther afield would require magical preservation that might arouse questions the villagers didn't want asked. But Honnleath would certainly enjoy them!
Amalia herself was feeling restless, and as spring slowly began to manifest, found herself out walking the boundaries of the village more and more. One morning, as she walked the road going out of town by the blighted field, she saw something that caused her to stop in her tracks. A small spot of green, well in from the field's un-Blighted boundary. Turning to look across the field, she saw the faintest verdant mist. It wasn't entirely even, but there were patches of it all across the field.
Turning, she ran back to town to find her father. He was at the smith, helping Blaylock and Leto put a new wheel on the town wagon.
"Father, come with me! There's something you need to see!"
The wheel slid onto the axle and Matthias straightened. "What is it, butterfly?"
"It's a surprise! Come see! You too, Leto, Coris!"
"I'm good," Coris Blaylock said. "I'll just pin the wheel and you can tell me later. Go on if you like, Leto."
Leto dusted his hands and joined them. He'd gone barefoot or the next best thing most of the last year, but Coris had insisted that he wear thick boots in the smithy and he'd finally become accustomed to them.
Coming out of the smithy, they ran into Rose, Bethany bundled in a sling and a basket full of baked goods on her arm. Even Moira Tirsden was hard-pressed to match Rose's ability at distilling potions, but as a baker she was hopeless. She'd finally settled on just paying Deanna Shadwell to do the baking for the Thornwell family.
"Oh, Rose! Good! Come with us, you need to see this!"
Leto took the basket from his wife. "Amalia is all excited about something. I have no idea what it is."
"Well by all means, let's go see," Rose said amiably, and they followed Amalia out to the blighted field.
"Well I'll be!" Matthias exclaimed, when he saw the new growth. They walked out into the field, examining the crop of tiny baby weeds. "The question is-is it growing because the Blight is just wearing off, or because of all the magic you and Amalia have been doing out here, Rose."
"I'm thinking the magic," Rose said. "It can't be coincidence."
"It remains to be seen if it will keep growing," Leto said. "I've heard that sometimes things start to grow in Blighted land, and then wilt."
"Thank you, wet blanket!" his wife said. He cocked an eyebrow at her and Rose responded with a fond smile. "Just enjoy the moment, Leto!"
"Nothing has so much as offered to sprout before," Matthias said. "I think we'll just let this lie fallow and see what happens this year. I'm not sure I'm ready to eat anything from this field for a while."
"The good news is that we might be able to put this field back into production eventually," Leto intoned. "But in my capacity as official village wet blanket, I must point out that there is a down side to this." Matthias, Amalia and Rose all looked at him. He grinned that rare, transformative grin of his.
"As soon as Farrin Marsh sees this, he'll want the girls over at that patch of Blighted land on his farm, doing their magical practice there. And that's quite a hike!"
Bethany gurgled and laughter rose into the cool spring air.