Aedeminar Silvertree Reed stood on the porch of her borrowed cottage, gripping the handrail and staring off across the fields. She knew with the certainty of both a healer and a creature half-wild that labor was upon her, but she hadn’t seen fit to tell anyone about it yet.
Mostly because she was allowing herself to briefly indulge in a good ragesulk, deeply aggrieved that her child wouldn’t be coming into the world where they belonged, in the verdant woods of Ashenvale.
There was nothing, and everything, wrong with Westfall.
(Wasn’t the child as much of Westfall as Ashenvale? This place was no less appropriate. But it wasn’t home, so the druid angrily shoved the thought away, in no mood to be reasonable.)
Besides, Ambrosine had warned her that labor was mostly a long and boring process. She loved Jander down to the marrow of her bones but if she called him too early she would, probably, bite him.
(Once a feral druid…)
So instead Mina stripped naked and went for a swim, despite the shorter days having cooled the ocean more than she would normally like. It was worth it to be buoyant and almost graceful again. Only one farmer was briefly scandalized.
But at some point the regularity of contractions drove her ashore, and she padded across the dunes to the cottage Unaara had claimed for herself. Unaara was always her calm port in a storm.
It said a lot of about the shaman’s personality that she didn’t even blink when a dripping, naked druid appeared on her doorstep. “Here, dearheart,” she said, pulling Mina inside even as she wrapped her in a towel. “It’s time then? No, I’ll call Jander. You just drink this tea.”
The draenei gently pressed a warm mug into Mina’s hands and picked up the radio from the kitchen counter.
Jander was in the middle of filling out an invoice for new reagent requisitions at the Templar outpost in Boralus when his radio buzzed.
“HOLY SHIT!” He immediately launched himself from the desk, dragging his hand across the stacked paperwork in such a way that all of the documents flew up in the air.
His portal back to Westfall was wrenched open before the scattered papers had even fallen back down to the floor.
A draft of warm air rushed out from the other side, signalling that the portal had safely stabilized and the way was open for him. Without any further hesitation, he decided to run up and *dive* headfirst through it, leading to the loud commotion of him face planting on the wooden floor on the other side.
“IT’S TIME!” He loudly declared, though no one else had even made it back to the house yet. “IT’S TIME IT’S TIME IT’S TIME IT’S TIME IT’S TIME!”
It wasn’t time. Not quite yet, at least.
Mina let her carefully nurtured rage melt away as she sat on the cushioned stool and sipped honey-sweetened tea. It was hard to stay too wrought up in the face of Unaara’s relentless calm, and worry was waiting in the wings to take over, anyway.
But even that was muted, here in this cozy home cluttered with Unaara’s tea and mugs and potted plants and carefully arranged mementos. (It was almost like Unaara had not been a whirlwind of furious lightning flinging, fighting the Legion.)
Mina looked up as Unaara rested a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s get you back to your place,” she said. “Jander’s coming, he’s just grabbing help.”
Mina huffed as she slid down and drained the last of her tea. “I don’t want help,” she muttered, setting her mug down with a clatter in the sink. “I can handle it. Jander and I will be fine.”
“You’re a fine healer, dearest, but you’ll have other things on your mind. Jander will be more at ease if he knows there’s help nearby.” The sandy path between their homes had only just begun to form a rut.
“I’ll bite all of you,” Mina muttered, stalking up the steps and sweeping into the house like an indignant whale.
Jander’s interpretation of ‘grabbing help’ was especially literal that day.
While Ambrosine was busy in the kitchen of her Surwich farmhouse, the telltale humming sound of a portal tearing a gateway through space and time rang out from behind her.
The mage didn’t even bother stepping all the way to the other side, he simply leaned halfway through it while keeping his feet on the ground in Westfall. Taking advantage of the element of surprise, his upper body stretched out so that his arms could wrap tightly around the unsuspecting Death Knight’s waist. Then, with a grunt of exertion to match her yelp of surprise, he pulled back to yank her through the portal with him.
“THERE’S NO TIME TO EXPLAIN!”
There was, in fact, plenty of time to explain. Jander figured his way was a lot more fun though.
“That was completely unnecessary, Jander,” Ambrosine said blandly. “Nevermind the fact that startling me can be a dangerous proposition.”
Jander seemed completely unfazed by her complaints. He was much more focused on finding the glass bottle of vibrantly hued red liquid that he’d specifically stashed away for this occasion.
“Aha!” Holding it up to the light, he shook it a few times, to watch the way his concoction swished about. “This ought to help with her stamina…”
“Jander, what did you do?” Unaara looked up from Mug of Tea #5, blinking.
“Popped out of a portal, in my house, and just…grabbed me and dragged me through. Which I’ll admit is somewhat impressive, as I am not a small lady, but still.” She pointed a finger at him. “Bad mage.”
“Did you expect anything else?”
“Not really, no.” Ambrosine shook her head and walked into the kitchen to wash up.
Jander wasn’t paying attention to the conversation. He was too busy using his Templar stone to update the entire guild on what was happening.
“A death knight midwifing has to be one of the strangest things,” Ambrosine said, shaking her head as the cautiously rejoined the others. “I mean…it’s been a decade since I was on hand for the birth of something with only two legs, but I suppose my experience is still relevant anyhow,” Ambrosine said dryly. “And she can bite me all she wants, horses bite harder. And kick. I’m not too worried about her kicking me.”
“I will prove you WRONG.” Mina paused in her pacing to glare. “I will kick you and you will regret it.”
“Kitten, if you kick me now you’ll fall over.”
Mina just hissed and went back to restlessly walking. Everyone else was content to leave her to it, for now.
Labor was, indeed, a long and boring process. Except for all the parts that hurt. And there were a lot of those parts now, almost constantly, and Mina had reached the point where she regretted almost everything.
She felt sorry for Jander’s hand, because she was not being kind to it, at the moment. (But then things hurt again and she was less sorry.)
While allowing Mina to slowly crush and eviscerate his right hand with her bear trap of a grip, Jander held a book open with his left. It wasn’t just any book though, this was the latest entry of the Dusty Cogbox adventure series, something they were both longtime fans of. In an effort to keep Mina’s mind distracted and to help pass the time, he read aloud from the book, happily performing the various silly voices for all of the different characters. Every so often, he set it down and picked up a damp rag to gently dab his wife’s forehead before reclaiming his reading duties again.
Ten minutes past the point when Mina was convinced that this was the worst idea she’d ever had, and she was DONE, thank you very much, the baby made her entrance. And like all babies, she was gravely offended at the cold, baffling world that awaited her.
She was even more offended at the quick, shaman-summoned shower she was given.
Despite his widened, curious gaze watching the way Ambrosine and Unaara tended to the infant and the rest of the tasks involved, Jander made no attempts to get in the way. Instead, he focused on quietly congratulating Mina on what a good job she’d done, and attempted to soothe her as best as he could manage. It was a surreal feeling for him, knowing that his first born child was alive and well, only a few feet away from him. The feeling of butterflies in his stomach was difficult to ignore, so his efforts to care for Mina served as almost as good a distraction for him as it had been for her.
“Ah yes, one terribly disgruntled little girl.” Ambrosine presented a freshly wrapped infant to Mina, and then quietly made herself scarce in the kitchen.
Mina’s initial reaction was bewilderment–and no small amount of panic at the reality of it all. At least being held instantly calmed the baby, and thus Mina, too. “Well…hi there, little rib kicker.” She stared, gently booping the little nose and ruffling the still damp hair. “Jander. Jander look what we made.”
All of the air seemed to rush out of Jander’s lungs in that moment. Trying to fully process what his eyes beheld, he struggled to breathe, and found some unexpectedly intense emotions welling up enough to choke in the back of his throat. From his position cradling Mina’s head and shoulders in his lap, he simply watched the swaddled infant with a glassy-eyed gaze. It was a rare occurrence for the excitable, outgoing mage to be at a loss for words, but he found himself struggling to formulate anything worth saying. When faced with the view of his newborn in his wife’s arms for the first time, he truly was overwhelmed.
Unaara surveyed the scene and smiled. “And now it’s time to rest and get to know each other. I’ll be nearby, hmm? So I’ll see you in a little bit.” She kissed each on the head–mother, father, and baby all–before sliding out the door with Mug of Tea #12.