Since they are two years old, the children often play games with each other. It is exciting to see how, at least for very short periods of time, the bearfolk children are willing to play with the hume children. They understand that they are siblings, despite being different. Well, except Nanook, but he’s treated as family none the less.
My bearfolk daughter, Artio, often helps the hume boys onto Nanook and Odin, my bearfolk son. Then she gets on all fours herself, and Deneb, my hume daughter would get on her back. Despite Artio being several times smaller than her brothers, she has never lost in any of the games they play.
Honestly, it seems like the boys disregard her now, only competing with each other.
Watching them makes me happy. Seeing them run around… Wait, where did they get that stick from?! “Chrono! Put that down! No hitting with sticks!” I leap up and hustle over to where they are playing some sort of game of tag.
Chrono, one of my hume sons, crouches low on Odin’s back, not letting go of the stick, and Odin takes off in a sprint. He must be holding on tight because he doesn’t fall off.
Don’t make me chase youuuuuuuuuuuuu.
As I chase Odin and Chrono, the other kids chase after me. Deneb and Artio make a show of their exaggerated moseying. Seriously? Help more. Oh, really? Taunting Nanook and Vincent is your idea of helping?
Argggggggghhhhhhhh, there are too many of them?! How do Dubhe and Mika do it?
“RWAAAARRRRWAR.” Otsu roars, and all parties stop and line up in front of him. Why am I just the clown here? Listen to meeeeeeeee. I’m your father!
We happen to have stopped in front of the bathhouse. Huh, why is Melsy leaving the building? She said she was going to be a while to relax. It’s only been ten minutes or so. What’s going on?
Dubhe, Mika, and Ceres all follow quietly on her heels. Mika and Ceres’ hair isn’t even wet. Something happened. Everyone looks upset in their own way. Dubhe is slowly unsheathing and retracting her claws. Mika has a very furrowed brow. Ceres is looking at the ground, her ears red. Melsy, is crying?
“Hu-husband. We need to talk.” She chokes up a bit, but manages to eke out.
What did the other girls do to her? Was Dubhe being mean again? “Uh, okay, but I have to watch the kids right now. Er, Dubhe?”
Dubhe waves me off and calls to the children in some bearfolk grunt. I’m glad even the hume children can understand that, it all sounds like growls to me.
“What’s wrong, Hun? You look really upset.” I put my arm around her and we walk towards our small abode.
“Ah, can we talk about it, er, somewhere further away?” She looks at me apologetically.
What upset her so much? I’ve never seen her like this. I don’t really have any reason to say no though, so, why not? “Sure? Anywhere is fine. I’m just worried about you.” Seriously.
She unfurls her wings, and I activate some of my runes. Together, we fly off. I launch right after her, letting her pick the place. I want her to be at ease, er, more so than she currently is. I’ve never seen her like this, she’s never been so upset. I will be furious if Dubhe is bullying her again. I thought Dubhe had finally come to terms with her, but now they’re acting all weird again. I don’t want this to be a regular thing.
Maybe Dubhe is on her week? Do bearfolk have weeks? Er, I’ve never known Mika or Melsy to show signs either. Only Ceres. Maybe the different physiologies? This world. I don’t even know anymore.
We land a ways away from Lillia and the “village” outside of its protection. We’re still between the ice wall and forest though, so the wind is whipping something fierce. My hair is blowing in my face. I hug Melsy, but she pushes me to an arms distance, then looks in my eyes.
“Husband. You know I can’t have kids, right?” Her eyes aren’t moving, she’s staring at me.
“I wondered about that. That’s okay, I mean, is that a big deal to you?” Hopefully, I didn’t butcher that too much. If she can’t, she can’t. There isn’t anything to be done about that. Maybe Gaia or the Goddess could do something, but I’m not sure it’s such a big deal. I would certainly ask if it bothers Melsy, however.
“And, you know…dragonfolk are different… Right? Those parts…” She looks away when she says that, but then looks back to see my reaction.
“Uh, yeah, you have only one pipe… A cl- cloaka? Er, cloaca. It came up our first time, and that’s okay. It’s not like it’s a big deal, right?” It did explain why she didn’t like eating, though. Everything goes through the same pipes. So, thinking about it too much is probably not a good idea.
I rub her arm, trying to comfort her.
“S-so, Dragonfolk reproduce differently, and have different parts. A-and I can’t have kids. There was a mistake, but I thought maybe everyone knew. And you loved me, regardless, so I thought it was okay. But then it seemed like no one actually knew,” Melsy rambles on, but I’m not really following. A Mistake? Everyone knew, but they didn’t?
“And, it’s hard to talk about now, and I can tell from your face that you don’t understand. But you have to know, right?” Her tears had dried when we flew over here, but fresh ones have started coming down her cheeks. “What made you all so sure of it? I guess maybe I am a bit like that, but…”
Do I talk? Do I comfort and validate her? She pushed me away when I hugged her. Would it be interrupting to say “It’s okay”?
“I can’t say it though, I don’t want to say it. I love you and I don’t want you to not love me. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. So sorry.”
“M-melsy, it’s okay, I here for you and I love you too.” Dear Goddess, help me out here a bit. What do I say?
“I’m built differently from other races, all dragonfolk are. I-I can’t have kids with you. I can have kids, but not with you. It doesn’t work like that. Please understand. I can’t say it. I’m afraid.” She sobs into my chest.
I wrap my arms around her. She can’t have kids. With me? She’s built differently. But she can have kids with others. The girls all seemed upset.
Goddess damn it all.
Author’s Note: Thanks for the support!