Tales by the Firelight
When she was younger, her father used to tuck her in every night. He would often shove open their small, wooden cottage doors with a grand flourish, the bitter air howling behind him in the winter nights, making her ever more thankful for the fire in their hearth. Snow, more often than not, dusted his clothes and hair.
“Papa!” she would cry, leaping to her feet, and then into his arms. He’d give her a tight bearhug, tickle her cheeks with his flaxen beard, and then slip his paws under her arms to swing her in an arching circle.
“Sweet Sindire! Have you been good for your mother today?” he would ask.
She would answer, “I have, I have!” and then giggle when he set her back on her feet and tousle her mop of hair.
Her mother would greet him with a small peck on the cheek before offering him the baby in her arms. Sindire’s father would sigh and smother the infant boy in kisses with his chapped lips.
“What about you, Elwyn? Have you behaved as well as your sister?”
Elwyn could never answer with more than a blink of his owlish green eyes, but their father apparently understood the language of the mute, for he would always say, “I knew you’d be! That’s my boy!”
After Elwyn was laid to sleep in his cradle, Sindire’s parents would settle beside her on her own mattress of hay and straw.
“Quiet now, child, for the sun is gone and we must rest.”
Some nights, or rather most, when she was feeling particularly restless, Sindire would pout and argue, “But Papa just got here, and I want to play!”
She was only ever met with tired smiles and ruffled hair from her mother. What Sindire did not understand was their aching bones and sore muscles, or the emptiness of their stomachs.
To appease her, her father would say, “But wouldn’t you rather hear a story?”
She would gasp, and her eyes would grow wide and bright. “Yes!”
He’d chuckle and pull her into his lap. “I have a great one for you. It’s about a princess.”
“Yesterday’s was about a princess, too!” she’d giggle. All of her father's tales were about princesses.
“Was it? My, you’ve a good memory! Well, then, let’s begin. Once upon a time…”