Luthien was warm and cozy, a subtle heat nestled against her as bare legs bent into hers, broad chest rising and falling against her back. A heavy arm fell over her to draw her in tighter with a soft groan and stretch, but it was the cold, tiny fingers on her shoulder and the sweetest voice she’d ever heard that stirred her from sleep.
“Mama, are you sleeping?” she whispered, shaking her again. “Mama? Da said we could go to High Hrothgar today and climb the strunmah to see Paarthurnax.”
A gruff, tired voice muttered against her ear, body scooting closer, strong arms tightening around her. “I never said any such thing, Freya. Go back to sleep, it’s still dark.”
“I’m not tired, Da. I’m too excited. I have to go to the strunmah and see the dragon.”
“Freya…” Luthien opened her eyes, a pale, beautiful face dotted with a spattering of gentle freckles stared back at her with wide green eyes. “We can’t just go to High Hrothgar in one day, my little love. It is a long journey to Ivarstead and an even longer trek up the seven-thousand steps.”
“Da is big and strong. He will carry me on his back. Won’t you, Da?”
“Master Arngeir only allows students of the Voice to climb to the Throat of the World to study with the great, white dragon,” Luthien explained, stretching the aching muscles in her back.
“I have a voice, Mama,” she said matter-of-factly, crossing her arms and tilting her head as the soft, dark red curls of hair fell into her face. “I’m using it to talk to you right now.”
“You’re using it to wake everyone in Whiterun, little flower.” Farkas laughed and withdrew his arm, rolling onto his back to make space between them for their child. “Climb in and snuggle with your mother and father.”
She kneed up onto the bed, crawling across her mother’s legs to nestle in between her parents, who turned in to face her and each other, arms entwined across her tiny body. “I don’t want to snuggle,” she protested, squirming restlessly as Farkas drew the blankets back up to cover them all. There was a nip in the air, the first frosts had come and it wouldn’t be long before even Whiterun was blanketed in a soft layer of snow. “I want to go to the strunmah. Uncle Vilkas would take me. Uncle Vilkas says he will take me wherever I want to go when I’m…”
“Uncle Vilkas is in Morrowind,” Farkas interrupted her, adding, “probably getting a good night’s sleep.”
“Or hunting Cliff Racers,” her eyes gleamed with adventure. “I want to hunt Cliff Racers with Uncle Vilkas in Morrowind. Can we go to Morrowind, Da? Please?”
Luthien stifled her own laughter, lifting her head to look down at the squirmy little girl taking up more room in the bed than her father, who was ten times her size. “I thought you wanted to climb the strunmah and see the dragon.”
“I want to go everywhere, Mama. Can we go everywhere?”
“Maybe one day, Freya.” She laid her head back down and found her husband’s hand, fingers tangling together beneath the blankets. “When you’re older.”
“I want to go now,” she asserted with stubborn determination.
Farkas leveled his gaze across the bed at her, one eyebrow raised as if to say, she’s your daughter. “Maybe when the sun comes up, we’ll go down and watch the mammoths roam.” He stifled a yawn into his shoulder before resting his head next to Freya’s again.
“Will the giants be there?” She turned into him and curled her body into his as the yawn gripped her like a contagion.
“Can I pick them flowers and leave them by the stone so they know we’re friendlies?”
“We’ll see.” He stretched with a gentle groan. “You know we can’t get too close. They like their space and privacy.”
“Can Lydia come? And Mama too?”
“Of course, little one, but right now Mama is tired. Let her sleep.”
“Da?” she yawned again, lifting her hand to rest against his cheek. Luthien watched her tiny fingers stroke through his beard with such devotion and adoration. “Where do giants come from?”
“You’ll have to ask your uncle when he comes home.”
“Uncle Vilkas knows everything,” she crooned with reverence. “I hope he comes home soon.” She was quiet for a time, no doubt daydreaming about the wonders and presents her uncle would bring back for her from Morrowind when he returned. That silence actually tricked Luthien into believing she’d fallen asleep and then, “Da?”
“Yes, Freya?” He was a good father with a never ending stream of patience, far more patience than Luthien herself had. She had faced the end of the world and come back to tell the tale, and yet there were days she was convinced the spirited little girl she and Farkas had brought into the world together would be her undoing.
“Will you sing me a song?”
“I suppose, but only if you promise to go to sleep,” he sighed, clearing his throat. “The wind was brisk, the night was long and snow covered the ground, but even as she crossed the ice she never made a sound. He never heard her coming ‘til she reached down for his hand and led him to her icy tomb beneath old Irkngthand…” Despite his gruff, throaty tone, he had a smooth singing voice that comforted even Luthien. Little Freya had quieted quickly too, breath drawing into long inhales and slow exhales, and when he slowly lifted his head to look down at her, a gentle grin drew at the corner of his mouth as he met with Luthien’s eyes. “She’s asleep,” he whispered.
“Gods be praised.” She rolled slowly onto her other side and drew his hand across the bed to rest it over her stomach. “This one in my belly is restless though. He’s like a little warrior, kicking and rolling.”
He gently stroked and soothed the fluttering movement that rippled there, helping her relax. “No doubt he will be as headstrong and curious as his sister.”
“No doubt,” she mused. “Though it feels as if he’s training for war in there. All those Stormcloaks in the city must make him restless.”
“Let’s hope Ulfric Stormcloak’s war is over long before our children are old enough to fight in it.”
The soft patter of rain began to drum on the roof, lulling her despite the restless agitation of the life growing inside her. There in the warmth and comfort of her home, of her husband’s arms, she felt safe, and she was happy. It was a simple life, and her husband was a simple man, but he loved her fiercely and she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was a life she looked forward to waking up to every day, a life her father would have wanted for her, Gods rest his soul in Sovngarde.
“Lu?” Farkas’s hand caressed along the curve of her belly in gentle strokes. “You asleep?”
“No,” she whispered. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he said softly. “I just love you.”
Smiling to herself, she squeezed his fingers tight and said, “I love you too.”