Through the Door

Gauwyn shifted nervously. He'd told Terfel to go ahead, he'd follow in just a moment, but now he hesitated outside the door.

That door.

The door that would truly lead him from one life into another. Was he ready for that? Was he ready to be a spouse, a parent, a regent? Terfel had never rushed his choice. Then again, Terfel had never explicitly asked. The wolf in Terfel had simply known, and Terfel had taken that as an accepted fact. Gauwyn, though, didn't have a wolf inside him to tell him that the Elf he'd fallen in love with was the one. All he knew was that Terfel made his heart race, his soul tremble, and his body melt. He knew that Terfel held the key to his happiness, his grief, and his fury.

Never, in either of his lives, had he felt so much as a result of one individual.

That's love, right? he thought. That's love. He didn't want a life without Terfel, even if the life with Terfel terrified him beyond rational thinking. What if he failed in every aspect of being a royal leader? Becoming the recognized mate of the king, a parental figure to the only heir—all while trying to remain Gauwyn—was a daunting task. Was he made of the tough material necessary to do that? Could he stand up the the Council? Could he work with the other Houses? Could he stuff away his memories and torments in favor of a family and kingdom?

If he wasn't sure—sure-sure—then he had no right to pass from the hallway into the large, airy chamber where Terfel and his son waited on this glorious, bright, brisk winter day. A day filled with gifts and warm foods and many sweets. A day filled with laughter and family and joy. Did he have a right to partake in those things when he wasn't sure, deep down inside, that he would partake a year from now? A decade? A century? Would Seirian, with eyes as blue as his father's, want to love him? He could never replace the mother Seirian had lost in the wars, but he could be something, couldn't he?

Gauwyn heard the tinkling of childish laughter followed by Terfel's deep, muffled voice through the door. The sound made his heart ache. He wanted to be a part of that. He wanted to share the familial laughter, tickle a son, and give his spouse a gift he'd spent a year working toward. Gauwyn wanted a family, and here one was. Here was a family that knew him, wanted him in return.

In that moment, his fear and hesitance seemed so silly. Terfel loved him, and he was sure Seirian was beginning to love him. It was harder with children, as Seirian still didn't fully understand where his mother was, but Gauwyn thought—if given time—Seirian could love him. Look to him for guidance and acceptance when Terfel failed to readily give such things.

He'd thought love and family had been lost to him when he died. He'd thought they would never be his as he'd been tormented and tortured by the House of Earth. But here, in the House of Wood, surrounded by feral Elves, Gauwyn was safe, secure, and cherished. He'd thought so much would never be his, but here it was, just waiting on the other side of a single, simple door. All he had to do was turn the knob and walk in.

Gauwyn reached out, grasped the latch, and lifted it. He opened the door. Just inside was a small tree decorated with an assortment of candies, cookies, and little glass ornaments. Under that tree was a healthy amount of gifts, all wrapped prettily in colored cloth and paper. Seirian was already playing with the little trinkets that had been left in his shoes overnight, and Terfel lounged like a resting wolf along one of the divans. The lazy blue eyes lifted to meet Gauwyn's gaze as Seirian squealed and rushed to Gauwyn.

Without thinking, Gauwyn lifted the small child up, resting Seirian on his hip. Seirian's cheeks were flushed, his eyes sparkling, and he spoke a mile a minute about the sweets he'd been allowed to munch on before breakfast. After a moment, Seirian squirmed down to the floor and returned to the small carved horse he'd been playing with.

Terfel stood and padded softly over to Gauwyn's side. Gauwyn almost moaned when Terfel wrapped his arms around him from behind and kissed his throat. It was familiar and wonderful, warming every inch of him. "Sorry I'm late," he murmured.

"You weren't late," Terfel whispered. "We could smell you outside the door." A smile curved the lips pressed to Gauwyn's neck. "I'm glad you finally came in."

A flush stole over Gauwyn's cheeks as he watched Seirian bounce impatiently near all the gifts. He smiled and leaned back into Terfel's embrace as a sense of joyful calm filled him. "So am I," he breathed.

All works contained here are copyrighted to S.L. Armstrong. No reproduction or usage is permitted without written, express consent by the author.