Cloud & Shade - Prologue

Mornië and Ariel walked arm in arm through the new elven settlement in Ithilien. There were still places that were incomplete, but the beauty of the city was already evident. "You really should come see me more often," Ariel nudged her friend in the ribs.

"Yes, I know, but..." her voice trail off suddenly.

"But what?" Mornië had stopped, and her face had paled. Are you alright child?"

Mornië nodded after a moment. "It's nothing," she brushed off her friends concern, "I've just not been feeling like myself lately." Ariel looked at the young she-elf suspiciously. Mornië was like a daughter to Ariel, and the older elf could tell when something was wrong. However, she didn't push the matter.

They continued walking for several minutes in companionable silence. Ariel became even more concerned when Mornië stopped again, her hand pressed to her stomach, and her complexion turning positively green. "Are you sure you're alright?" Mornië never answered. She ran to the nearest bush, bent double, and heaved her breakfast into the grass.

"Are you sick child?" Ariel asked when the she-elf finally straightened again, still clutching her stomach.

"No, no. It comes and goes. Mostly in the mornings."

Ariel nodded slowly and suspiciously. "How long has this been going on?" she inquired.

Mornië looked at her strangely. "A couple of weeks I suppose," she shrugged, "Why?"

Ariel grinned. "I think I know what's 'wrong' with you."

"There's nothing 'wrong' with me," Mornië produced a handkerchief and wiped her mouth. "I'm fine; it will pass."

"In about 10 months it will." Ariel examined a non-existent speck of dirt under her fingernails.

"What do you mean?" Mornië's face had gone completely blank.

"I think you know what I mean."

Understanding slowly dawned on Mornië's, but it was quickly replaced with a sick look as she rushed for the bushes again.

* * * * *

Athrun walked briskly through the halls looking for his wife. He wanted to tell her about the forthcoming celebration. The elves in Ithilien had decided they needed a temporary distraction from the constant work and building.

"Lord Athrun," A young elf ran up to him and tugged on his sleeve.

"What is it?"

"Lady Mornië and Lady Ariel wish to speak with you. hey said to meet them in the kitchen."

"The kitchen?" Athrun looked at the elfling curiously. What did they want with him there? Athrun, confused, made his way quickly to the kitchens. The last time he had made a trip there it was to rescue his wife from Ariel's cooking instructions. When he arrived, he was met by the odd sight of Mornië sitting at a table with Ariel, ravenously consuming a bowl filled with what looked like onions and peaches.

He wrinkled his nose in a rather undignified manner. "What's going on here?" he inquired, sitting down across from the two.

"Mornië has something she would like to tell you." Ariel smiled sweetly at him.

Athrun began to feel nervous suddenly. "What is it?"

Mornië stopped mid bite and looked at Ariel with a look that said "Do I have to?" Ariel elbowed her, and she swallowed, setting the food down. "Well, um... Athrun... uhh..." She flashed him a big innocent grin. "You're going to be a father!"

Athrun stared at her for several seconds, not saying anything.

"Athrun?" Mornië glanced worriedly at Ariel, who sat there watching the entire exchanged with a bemused grin on her face. There was a loud thump. Mornië whirled back to face Athrun only to find him lieing on the floor in a dead faint.

Ariel chuckled. "Men; they can face an army of foes without flinching, and suffer without complaint, but tell them that they're going to be fathers and they act like little girls. Congratulations dear." She patted Mornië on the shoulder and grinned, leaving the room.

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