Carefully Cearalaith adjusted the frame above the mantel for what felt like the millionth time that day. She eyed it, stepped down from the chair, took three steps back, and peered at it again.
Perfect. Finally. Thank the gods.
The apartment was small by most standards, and even combined their possessions were not many. But with her and Corael so often in the field it had taken her nearly a year to finish properly unpacking — she’d gotten the bulk of it done just in these last two weeks, as she found herself on unexpected extended leave. The portrait of the two of them on their wedding day had been the final piece in what Cear had found an especially aggravating puzzle, and she was inordinately pleased and content that it was done.
She sighed, looking around the living room. The dining room was more of an alcove next to the kitchen; she had actually set up a small table on the balcony where she expected them to take most of their meals, as even winter nights were mild in Silvermoon and the ambient lighting from the Bazaar below provided a pleasant glow even after the sun had gone down. The master bedroom — such as it was — was cozy and comfortable, and she had turned the second bedroom into an office, with a desk for her husband and a small workbench for herself, with her jewelrymaking supplies all neatly labeled and sorted and organized. Now that it was empty of boxes, the third tiny bedroom held only a bed and a dresser and a hurricane lamp, and the extra linens… but she had such plans for it.
First things first, of course. Cearalaith hummed to herself as she put on the kettle for tea and sat down at the tiny kitchen table to wait with pen and paper. I finished decorating our home today, she wrote, continuing the letter she’d begun that morning. It looks so lovely! I can’t wait for you to see it. This place seems so big when I’m here by myself, though…
She paused, gently biting her lower lip as she thought about what she wanted to write next.
I’ve been thinking more about… what we talked about, the last time we were home together. And I’ve been thinking about it and… and Corael, I think I’m ready. If you are. I know we’re both young, and this is a big step, but — I love you, and I don’t know what we’re really waiting for! And life is so uncertain. You go on these classified missions, and I don’t hear from you for months (going on six now), and… I worry, so much. I don’t want to have any regrets, Corael… I don’t want to miss out on something that I know means so very much to both of us, because I was scared.
I know I won’t get your answer on this until you’re done with… whatever it is you’re doing now, Cearalaith smiled to herself as she wrote, feeling a tad foolish. But… I had to tell you. Cor, I love you. I’m ready. Please come home soon.
The kettle whistled at the same time there came a knock at the door, and briefly Cearalaith looked between them in confusion. “Just a moment!” she called as she jumped up from the table, knocking her pen to the floor. She grabbed a hot pad and pulled the kettle from the fire, setting it on a trivet on the counter, before dropping the pad on the table next to her letter as she dashed back across the living room. “Sorry!” she chuckled, opening the door, “the kettle was on, and…”
Cearalaith trailed off as she looked up at the two sin’dorei on her doorstep, both Argent Crusaders she had never met before, in full dress armor. The male knight looked at her with a weathered face and proud eyes, his hands folded behind his back, and the female held a slim silver box with the emblem of the Crusade embossed upon the lid.
“Lady Dawnbreaker,” the man said in a firm, deep voice, and both he and his companion snapped to attention and saluted her, though she could see by the marks on their plate that both knights significantly outranked her. The male knight said something else that Cearalaith couldn’t quite hear over the sudden rushing in her ears, though she made out the word husband at the same time she noticed the name C. Dawnbreaker engraved on the box the woman held, above the seal.
Cearalaith looked up at the knights’ faces, still and proud. She sucked in a deep breath, feeling as though all the air had just escaped from her tiny apartment that would never be full again. Her hand tightened on the doorknob, and with an effort of will she straightened her back.
“Please,” she said in a voice that sounded far away, “Won’t you come inside, and have some tea.”