The bags under Tiadrin’s eyes were getting more pronounced by the day. It was so unlike her to admit to being tired. At three months old, Rayla was fussier than ever and she was waking up mum and dad at all hours of the night.
Her cries echoed through the room in the treehouse Tiadrin and Lain shared with Runaan and Ethari. Thankfully, their room was far enough away to stifle any sounds. “Shh shh, Rayla. It’s alright sweetie.” she crooned, as she rocked her gently back and forth. Tiadrin startled a bit when she felt a gentle hand on her back. Lain was out cold and she had slipped out of bed very quietly.
Tiadrin whipped around, nearly whacking Ethari with her elbow. “Tiadrin - it’s the sixth night in a row Rayla’s been refusing to sleep. Let me take a turn. I can see how tired you are. Please.” She tried to refuse, but Ethari had already scooped up Rayla with one arm and begun pushing Tiadrin back towards bed with the other.
She felt a little guilty as she slipped back into bed. However, the exhaustion soon caught hold of her and she snuggled up to Lain before she dozed off.
Runaan woke up rather suddenly and quite confused as to why his husband was not asleep next to him. He strode out of the room with purpose, hoping to catch Ethari before heading out to train. He cherished his lazy mornings with Ethari and was always disheartened when the spot next to him in bed was empty.
He found Ethari rather quickly, lounging in one of the oversized chairs in the treehouse’s interior. Rayla was curled up on his shoulder, sucking her thumb. Of course he was taking care of Rayla, his soft husband was always looking out for others. Ethari’s eyes met his and gave him the purest smile. Runaan still couldn’t help the flushed feeling that this brought to his cheeks. Runaan squeezed Ethari’s shoulder as he walked past to begin preparing breakfast for the three of them.
It had been a long day for all of them. Ethari had just finished his fifth weapons commission of the day, Lain had been taking care of Rayla all afternoon, and Tiadrin and Runaan still had not returned from afternoon training. Rayla’s ears twitched ever so slightly as the three of them heard steps approaching the treehouse. Tiadrin and Runaan ran through the door and raced towards the couch. Runaan beat Tiadrin by a fraction of a second, taking the spot next to Lain. “Just this once,” muttered Tiadrin, annoyed that she still hadn’t caught up to Runaan’s speed again.
Ethari rolled his eyes as Lain playfully laid his head on Runaan’s shoulder. “Hey bro. Did you miss me at assassin training today?” Lain asked.
Runaan sputtered. “Did I what now??”
“You know, miss me. Notice the lack of my presence. Wish I were there.”
It was Tiadrin’s turn to roll her eyes. “You’re so insufferable, Lain.” Runaan nodded in agreement, pointedly ignoring Lain’s questions. Tiadrin shoved Runaan over slightly, making shooing motions with her hands, and proceeded to slide Rayla into her arms.
“And how did my baby girl do this afternoon?”
“Much better than last night. She’s all playful and sweet during the day, but what I wouldn’t give for a full night’s rest.”
Ethari walked into the room and pulled Runaan into a chair with him. He knew that even though Runaan didn’t show it, this was his favorite part of the day - the time they spent together in the evening talking and laughing.
It had been about two years since Tiadrin and Lain had officially moved in with them. The Silvergrove was home to several families and it wasn’t uncommon for close friends to live together. Even then, Tiadrin and Lain were more like family to Runaan and Ethari. When Runaan had first moved to the Silvergrove, they had been so kind to him – too kind. It felt good. Foreign, but good.
Runaan stood up, pulling Ethari with him. “We’ll be right back.”
Lain couldn’t resist the chance to get in a tease. “You know, if you needed some ‘alone time,’ you could at least ask first. We know how lovey dovey you get when you’ve been apart.”
“I DO NOT-” groaned Runaan, as he disappeared into the room after Ethari. For someone who was apparently sleep-deprived, Lain was too good at getting a reaction out of him.
Dinner at the treehouse was Ethari’s favorite moment of the day. He loved sitting around the table with his best friends, smiling and laughing. It felt good to see Tiadrin and Runaan let down their guard a little and just be. He had never felt so at home in a place. He loaded up his plate and passed the bowl of potatoes to Tiadrin, scooting a little closer to Runaan.
“So, Tia,” Ethari asked, “what trouble are you and Lain going to get up to tonight?”
“Other than pummeling you for calling me that?” Tiadrin hated the nickname, but she let Ethari get away with it occasionally. “Considering we have a three month old baby, we’ll be lucky to even get a word in before we crash.”
Ethari laughed. Tiadrin could be so blunt. “Well, lucky for you – Runaan volunteered to take the early morning shift with Rayla.” Runaan glanced at Ethari, knowing he had not agreed to any such thing.
“Uh, yeah, Tiadrin. Ethari and I just want to make sure you and Lain get enough rest.” Tiadrin looked at Runaan suspiciously, noticing the hesitation in his voice, but she didn’t say anything.
“So, I hate to break up this little after dinner party, but the little monster needs bathing.” Lain looked around the room hopefully.
Well, that wasn’t surprising. Amid their chorus of avoidance, Runaan, Ethari, and Tiadrin had quickly vacated the kitchen.
Lain prepared for battle as he carried Rayla toward the bathroom. “Looks like it’s just you and me again, Rayla.”