Uluki and Rollick couldn’t help but smile at Asra’s enthusiasm. You rarely saw such excitement over digging… except for Zee, but she was quite unique. Uluki was pleased that Asra seemed to be settling in so well, and that she was so eager to help. That spoke well of her.
“Yes, we’re fine, thank you.” Uluki answered. “We’ve received news that one of Rollick’s friends is ill, so we’re concerned, but I think he’ll be alright. It doesn’t sound too serious. We’re going to check on him this evening, so you may not see us around for a bit, but there’s no need to worry.”
Rollick nodded his agreement. “And yes, of course you’re welcome to go back and help. It was kind of you to let us know you’re doing well.”
“If you’ll excuse me, I should get ready to leave.” Uluki had some preparations to make.
“I’ll talk to Merohl and Metellus about accompanying us. I think they’ll be willing, and they can help if things… don’t go as planned,” Rollick said, mostly to inform Uluki but making no attempt to hide his words from Asra.
“Perfect. I’ll see if Rosemary can babysit tonight. Dash has been watching him all day and Zee has been working hard too, so I’m sure they could use a break. I’ll change too, and we can go.”
“Thank you for your help, Asra,” Rollick said.
“Yes, it’s much appreciated,” Uluki agreed, before the couple took their leave of Asra with nods and smiles.
Having settled on the basics of a plan with Rollick, Uluki went upstairs. She washed her face and hands, and then, feeling nervous about the evening and wanting to look her best, her hair.
Once she was clean, she washed her dress. Luckily the bloodstains came out easily; that was something she always looked for in a fabric. She would have hated to see her new clothes ruined. It would take awhile to dry, so she pulled the other new dress on instead. Such pretty colours! She admired the bright yellow and deep green, turning this way and that to see how it looked in the light. It had been awhile since she’d had any new clothes, and she was enjoying it immensely.
She wasn’t able to distract herself entirely from her nervousness, however. Rollick was worried she would get hurt, would be in danger, but that wasn’t her concern. She wanted to make a good impression on Panterras. She wanted to make him understand why Rollick had married her. She didn’t want to embarrass Rollick, or make Panterras think less of him for the wife he’d chosen.
With this in mind, she cast an unusually critical look at her figure. Normally it just didn’t register in her mind as a potential worry. She had a husband who would say she was beautiful even if she was shaped like a potato, and she assumed no one else would have any reason to be concerned about it.
Would she look different than she had when Panterras last saw her? Ten years passing wasn’t enough to change one of the Fae significantly, but having a baby was. Her hips had more shape now, and her breasts were fuller, which was nice— but they suffered the effects of gravity more, which wasn’t. She doubted her belly would ever again be as flat as it had been before her pregnancy.
It wasn’t just the baby, though, she didn’t think. Her face and eyes were different. She had seen more, felt more, lost innocence but gained wisdom. It seemed like maybe she looked more peaceful, somehow. Uluki hoped she looked different. She hoped she looked like a woman, mature and responsible, not a confused girl who ruined things.
Strange that she was so worried about looking her best for the sick old man… but it wasn’t for him, really. He wasn’t the one she wanted to please. It was Rollick whose happiness she was concerned for. However well or poorly things went with Panterras, she wanted to do her best. If it went wrong, she didn’t want to be the inadvertent cause. Like she had been last time…
As she continued to fret, Rollick came in, wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, and planted a kiss on her cheek. “You look nice.”
“I’m going to take my hair down.” She fussed with it a little, trying to see if she could get it into a shape she would consider more acceptable before taking that drastic measure.
“Why? It looks good that way.”
“No it doesn’t. It looks funny.”
“You don’t look funny at all. You look lovely.”
“I don’t want to embarrass you.”
“You couldn’t if you tried.” His arms still around her, he nuzzled his face against her cheek, giving her soft kisses.
“Stop that! Or I’ll forget to be nervous,” she joked.
“That was the point, my love. Although I suppose I could
stop if you really want
to be nervous…” He started to pull away.
Uluki decided anxiety was overrated, and wrapped her small hands around his wrists and pulled his arms back around her. She felt her worry ebb a little. “Are the girls downstairs?” she asked casually.
“Yes. They seemed quite occupied when I last saw them. I doubt we’ll see much of them any time soon.” He started kissing her again, and she kept her hold on his wrists, keeping him close.
“Do you think they’ll miss us downstairs if we… stay here for a few minutes?”
“I can’t imagine they would,” he managed to get out between kisses.
“Are you sure I look alright?”
He murmured, “You’re the fairest of the Fair,” though his words were slightly muffled by her hair.
She turned to face him, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. “You’re so wonderful,” she breathed. “I’m so glad you’re with me.”
“Me too, dear one.” He cupped her face in his hands, and she smiled at him.
“If we have a little while… can we…?”
He nodded and took her hand, leading her gently toward the spot where they slept.
A short time later they went back downstairs, arm in arm. Uluki’s hair was a little less perfect, but she was no longer so worried about it. She would do her best, and whatever happened, and it would all turn out alright.