[This post is from Thom’s point of view.]
Thom rose early the next morning, despite or perhaps because he and Marin had spent most of the balance of the previous day in bed. He crawled from the covers carefully, trying not to disturb her. Their son had woken only a few hours before, inconsolable, screaming and crying for no reason either of them could discern. Thom had tried for the first two hours, then Marin had taken over, finally crawling back into bed and his arms after whatever nightmarish thing had afflicted their infant had faded and their son fell back into what seemed like normal sleep. Thom turned up the lamp slightly as he limped around, finding clean clothes and peering at his sleeping baby. Lin lay swaddled there, one arm free of the blanket shroud, breathing deeply and evenly, apparently fast asleep. Whatever had disturbed him hours earlier was gone now.
The helpless feeling still lingered, though, and he hated it. He reached down to gently brush his fingertips along his son’s head, ruffling the soft, downy baby hair there. He’d seen his son enough in visions to know what Lin would look like someday, a spirited boy growing into a gangly teenager slowly becoming a young man of more wisdom than his father had ever had or ever would. There was a little part of him that regretted already knowing, but in other ways, it was a relief.
Thom glanced back at Marin, curled on her side, a lock of hair that had escaped her braid hanging across her face. The sight brought a faint smile to his face.
How the hell could I have ever thought I’d really be able to quit her?
He’d been such a fool a year ago—a year and more.
It still haunted him, even though she’d told him more than once that he shouldn’t let it bother him, that it was in the past. In some ways, that dark storm had made them stronger together. Maybe it was the same for some of the others, for people like his cousin and Teague and Neve and Cameron—even Sif and Thordin and Leinth and Seamus—who had lived through their own storms, though different from what he and Marin had gone through.
“A year,” he murmured softly, hoping he wouldn’t wake her even as he stared at her, wringing a clean tee shirt between his hands. “And what a year it’s been.”