Paradigm - June 1997
Paternal Duties - michael
The Mage - michael
(page 4/20)

Paternal Duties

It's the cold that wakes me - chill - down my back, across my spine. Everything's dim, smooth and blurred with sleep - blinking slowly clears it and as I raise my head, I can see the screen's part open - the binding's snapped again. Irritating. Scent blows in - cool and fresh - it cuts through hers like a knife, invading, disrupting. Sleep and satisfaction lie heavy on my bones - I don't want to move. But the cold will wake her. I sigh and rise slowly, gently, untangling limbs from limbs, stretching cat like once I'm free. She stirs, but curls her head towards me - no more than that.

At the screen, I look out - snow - cold and white - fresh and new - shiver, traveling's going to be hellish - pretty though. It's dawn, golden sun in a clear sky it should warm up soon. I hope so, I hate the cold. As I open the screen a little more, light flows into darkness - I turn and look. She's beautiful, exquisite - she's mine!

No. No she's not - not any more. I've left it too late as it is - almost a year now. Last winter, how can I forget? It snowed then too, she loves the snow - white and gold - I sometimes think it loves her.

My eyes dance across her body, the curve of pregnancy is fairly obvious, as obvious as it's going to get - not long now. And I know the rules. I can't be here at the birth, she'll have no time for me, only the child - I'd be in the way, an annoyance, a threat, to her, to it.

I'll return of course - midsummer sounds right, she'll be less protective then and I can see my child. Touch it - yes! - I want that, very much. We'll be a family then - imagine! The time will go fast - it'd better.

Won't wake her - 'tis not fair - she'll understand.

I close the screen and move over to her. A last caress - a touch - a brush of fingers - neck, flank and belly, soft skin, deep red and rich gold, beautiful. I stoop to kiss her, muzzle to muzzle - her breath is sweet, scent, musky - breath deep to remember. And as I leave, I hear the soft rustle of wings on stone - as, still sleeping, she moves to enfold my warm shadow to her.

Time to fly.


The Mage