Rothen knocked quickly against the door before pushing it open.
“Sorry I’m late”, he said with a smile.
“No worries”, Sonea replied. “Everyone was a bit late, and we’re still waiting for Lorlen.”
“That’s not true!”
Rothen tried to stifle his laughter, though he didn’t manage to do it completely. Yikmo hid it better – behind his glass of sumi. Cery was sitting next to him. Dannyl was sitting farther, Tayend next to him, and Rothen sat down with everyone. He was about to speak when a panicked voice called:
The young woman startled, almost spilling her raka, before climbing the stairs quickly. They heard her laughter, loud and unrepressed, and soon she was coming down the stairs, Akkarin following her with their new-born child tucked against him. The mage was pale-faced, but Sonea was grinning widely. They all instinctively stood up to see the child better, though it wasn’t the first time they saw him.
Rothen was glad things had gone the way they had – they had come very close to a disaster, and his arm still ached a bit. Yikmo couldn’t thank his luck enough – he had been knocked out, and the Sachakanians hadn’t realized he was still alive. The fools. They had beaten them, when it seemed all but unlikely. Lorlen too could have died, if it hadn’t been for Yikmo’s power keeping him alive until they could stitch him back together.
Things had been hectic after that, but everything turned out… good. Akkarin and Sonea reintegrated the Guild as Black Magicians, the previous high lord teaching his student and lover until graduation. Neither of them had the right to go outside without an escort, but they were working hard in the Slums. People loved Sonea. They had seemed to settle into an easy rhythm, a bit aside from the Guild, more than probably still affected by what they had gone through – until the truth broke out: Sonea was pregnant.
Akkarin seemed a bit sick at the perspective, but long discussions about what it meant to be a father with Rothen had soothed the man. Sonea had called on her aunt for advice, and everyone had supported the couple for the unexpected surprise. A few months after that, a little boy was born, and Rothen was suddenly struck with the idea that it made him feel like he was a grandfather – and neither Akkarin nor Sonea had opposed the idea.
The baby was about a month now, and his parents were slowly settling into their roles – despite Akkarin’s panicked reactions every time something unexpected happened. They found highly funny that a man who had led the life he did was getting scared over such mundane things, yet he was getting all the help he could get.
A door opened and Takan appeared with appetizers, and more drinks. The conversations flew easily, about everything and nothing, until there was another knock at the door and Lorlen entered into what had been the high lord’s house – and was now Akkarin’s and Sonea’s. He smiled softly. Something had broken in his relationship with Akkarin, but they were working on it. Making it better.
“Administrator Lorlen”, Sonea greeted him, “please take a seat.”
They waited until he was settled, and silence fell down as all eyes turned to Sonea, Akkarin and their baby boy, squirming in Sonea’s arms. Sonea nodded at something – probably something Akkarin had said to her through their rings and Akkarin broke into his signature smile. He rose to his feet.
“You must be wondering why we gathered you here today”, he started. “It’s simple, really. I proposed to Sonea and… she said yes.”
The room erupted into cheers, laughter and congratulations.
“We figured it was about time”, the young woman said with a laugh, “now that I can fit in a dress.”
Rothen grinned. He was incredibly proud. Lorlen was smiling sincerely to Akkarin, a new light in his eyes. From the corner of his eyes, Rothen saw Dorrien lean towards Sonea. She nodded, and carefully handed him her son. Dorrien’s eyes widened, and he didn’t need any magic to read the “he’s so tiny” on his lips. The young mage grinned playfully. “I’m never giving him back, you realize that?”
Dannyl bent as Tayend whispered something to him, a smile stretching his lips. Rothen almost jumped when a voice pulled him out of his observations.
“She sure went a long way”, the voice said, and he turned to see Yikmo standing next to him while Cery joked with his childhood friend.
“She did”, Rothen approved. “I still remember the first time I met her, when she almost destroyed the Slums… It seems like it’s ages away”, he added with a sigh.
“It was three years ago and she wasn’t an adult yet”, the warrior replied. “Now, look at her. She’s a woman. A mother. And a magician. With Akkarin, no less.”
Rothen smiled. Things were not so bad, after all.