It was a beautiful, sunny day outside. Winter brought with it such a clear, bright shade of blue to the sky of Wallachia that it had been easy for Sypha to fall in love with the season the first time she had truly seen it, years ago. For the first time in her life, she had spent winter safe, sheltered, warm and comfortable, enjoying the season rather than surviving it.
That experience had marked her deeply. That was when it hit Sypha that her roaming days were through for good. She had felt so damn happy, but there was also this sharp pang lingering deep in her heart.
A small part of her would always miss living in a caravan, of course. She missed her family dearly and would like to invite them to visit one day, but that was a distinct feeling from missing the road itself. Grandpa certainly would understand and appreciate the difference.
Hopefully he would get to meet his great-granddaughter soon.
Sypha hummed an old travel song, her heart a bit heavy with longing, and finished bundling up her child. Simona made a little noise as she was picked up, but she didn't cry. The wraps kept her safely pressed to Sypha's breast and the shawl was warm and fluffy.
The way to the kitchen was already lit when Sypha left their room. Simona played with her shawl as she walked the hallways, easily distracted by small things as all tiny children were.
She stopped at the door and frowned. There was no one in the kitchen.
Sypha wasn't sure what to make of it. She looked out the window as she started making breakfast, which should be tea and oatmeal for both of them today. No sign of them outside, but there were dirty dishes in the sink still.
"Where are your daddies, baby?" she asked idly, gently pushing the little girl's curls off her eyes. "What are they up to?"
"Ta-ta?" babbled Simona, giving her a mostly toothless grin. There were only the hints of a few teeth there still. "Whe' tata?"
"That's right, Tata, where are your Tatas?" repeated Sypha with a smile.
Once everything was ready Sypha sat at the table with Simona on her lap, always mindful of her little grabby hands as she ate and fed the toddler. Every other bite ended up on Sypha's blouse or on Simona's chin and hands anyway. Aside from the stains, which she had already learned to accept, it was nothing a rag couldn't fix.
Adrian walked into the kitchen just as she was sipping the last of her tea. "Oh, hello," he said, guilt evident on his face as he hid something behind his back. "I didn't realize you were already here."
"Clearly," said Sypha, raising an eyebrow at him.
"Ta-ta," called Simona, reaching for him. "Pis?"
"Good morning, little bumblebee," said Adrian, setting down the bundle on the table to hold their daughter. Sypha was about to poke the thing when he added "Careful, that's sharp."
"Oh, is it another toy for Trevor?" she asked and pulled her hand away, mildly disappointed.
Adrian didn't answer, busy nuzzling Simona for a bit, blowing raspberries softly on her to make their baby laugh. That always worked on her, even when she was upset, and Sypha wondered to herself if it was because Adrian had done that on her belly so often while she was pregnant.
She took that time to start cleaning up, already thinking about scolding Trevor for skewing his duties later.
"Leave that," said Adrian amid baby giggles. "We're going outside."
"We are?" asked Sypha, adding the dishes to the pile but glad she wouldn't have to wash them. "Good thing I bundled her up extra well today, huh?"
"Oh, Simona is very warm indeed, aren't you?" asked Adrian while pinching their kid's cheek gently, even though she could barely babble a few broken words. He'd turned into the softest, silliest person once she was born. "Come on, let's go find Trevor for your Mama's surprise. Grab that, please?"
Now that was exciting. "Ohhhh, a surprise? Where?" replied Sypha eagerly, taking the mysterious items from the table without unwrapping them. They were a bit heavier than she expected but nothing she couldn't carry. She would let the boys keep their secrets, for now.
Adrian just smirked and led the way out through the castle with Simona in his arms. He stopped before they reached the front door to take Sypha's shawl for the baby, just to make sure.
"How long until she's walking around in the snow with only a light coat on?" asked Sypha thoughtfully, stepping out into the cold morning air.
"Maybe a few months. I don't remember when I stopped feeling cold very well, but I must have been around two, so…"
Sypha bit her tongue, not wanting to bring up Lisa this early and while he was in such a good mood. Adrian always got a little quieter when they talked about his mom. Not as much as Trevor when either of them brought up his family, but still. Of the three of them, she was the only one not to recoil at the mere mention of the topic.
Her gaze flitted to Simona. She clung to her dad, seeking refuge from the crisp breeze as they trudged through the snow. It was only for them that Adrian wore anything more substantial in the winter, because otherwise he'd be a walking icicle.
They made their way around the castle until the river was in view. Trevor was a burly, brown silhouette in the distance, leaning on a shovel with his back to the sun.
"Finally!" he yelled from the riverside. "I was starting to think something was wrong."
Sypha had no idea what they were doing outside, but he sure looked excited. Both of them did. "Well, we're here! What's my surprise?" she yelled back, because why not. It was just them and the woods out here anyway.
Adrian chuckled and sat at the bench they'd placed there by the river last spring, pointing at the stuff in her arms. "You're carrying it. Well, part of it. I'm amazed you didn't peek."
"Haha," Sypha retorted, scrunching her nose at him. It made Simona giggle again, standing on Adrian's lap while he held her by the armpits. She laid down the mystery bundle on the bench under the boys' watch and unwrapped it to find… "What's this?"
Trevor turned to Adrian with his worst victorious smirk. "Told ya she wouldn't know."
"Those are called ice skates," he told her, rolling his eyes and waving Trevor off. "Newer ones, with sharp edged blades rather than flat ones."
None of that made a lick of sense to Sypha, which was a very unusual and infrequent experience. She liked that. Learning new things was always amazing. "Okay, and what are they for?" she asked, turning the skates around in her hands, careful not to displace the protective leather covering the blades.
"Put them on, I'll show you," said Trevor, picking one of the pairs and sitting beside Adrian.
Sypha considered them, watching him pull his own boots off to quickly swap them for the skates. How he managed to stand up and walk on those things was beyond her, especially with his size and weight. It looked pretty damn dangerous, but also fascinating and, at the end of the day, Sypha trusted her lovers. She picked the smaller pair, clearly intended for her, and put them on as fast as she could. "Fuck, it's cold."
Simona stopped paying attention to Trevor, who'd been playing with her by making silly faces, and turned to her. She pointed at him, saying "Mama, up!"
"One of these days she's going to say a bad word and I'm blaming the two of you," Adrian informed them, deadly serious.
"It's all Trevor's fault, I didn't curse as much before I met him," argued Sypha, taking her lover's offered hand and standing up on wobbly legs. This was harder and scarier than she'd first imagined. "Oh, gods."
"I've seen you use wind magic to literally fly over a horde of night creatures," Trevor said, steadying her with a hand on her waist. It was almost like they were dancing as he led her towards the frozen river, except instead of pointy, sharp heels, Sypha was standing on pointier, sharper blades. The fact that she was awful at walking on heels seemed like an indicator of where this was going.
"That's different. My magic is natural; this is decidedly not."
"Quit whining, you can do it."
"Do you want to see your mama fall on her ass?" asked Adrian behind them and Sypha would have thrown a fireball at him if her daughter wasn't sitting on his lap. She settled for flipping him off. "It's a rite of passage, my love."
Before Sypha could tell him what she thought of his 'rite of passage' shit, her feet touched the ice and her focus switched entirely, out of both fear and wonder. She looked up at Trevor, who smiled back at her.
"First let's make sure you can stand on your own," he said and she nodded. With Trevor's help, they took a few steps so she could get used to the sensation of standing on the ice. Her legs almost spread comically, her feet sliding in opposite directions, but Trevor held her firmly and pulled her close to his chest right in time to prevent a fall. He smirked down at her. "Almost."
Sypha laughed nervously. "Almost."
He squeezed her just a little. "Find your balance, hold steady, you know how to do this," Trevor murmured, slowly letting go of her. "Like when we spar."
"Like when you throw me around like a sack of potatoes, you mean," Sypha hissed back between deep breaths, opening her arms wide in search of stability and balance. She was not going to fall on her ass and give them the satisfaction.
"You're doing great, Sypha," said Adrian from the sidelines. She risked a glance in his direction and saw Simona with a lock of his hair in her mouth, chewing with intent. He didn't seem to mind, though.
"Hey, hey, eyes on me, babe," said Trevor. "Let me show you how it's done."
Sypha turned back to him, a little bit surer on her feet.
Trevor was graceful as fuck when fighting, in her opinion. She could see the beauty in it, in the way he moved during a battle and while sparring with them. He was sharp, strong, brutal but also fluid, flexible and focused. Skating around her with such ease, literally showing off, just opened Sypha's eyes to a new facet of him.
"I had my doubts, but you can in fact skate, huh?" Adrian commented.
It really seemed like a lot of fun, judging from Trevor's huge grin. Sypha took a deep breath, paid close attention to how he was moving, and gave it a try. She glided a little bit further than she'd expected and panic almost took over, for just a second, before she flailed herself upright again.
"Babe?" asked Trevor, stopping right next to her, ready to grab her in case she fell.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," said Sypha, waving him off. "I can do this."
The fact that he stayed close by helped. It gave her the confidence she needed to try again, feeling her body find and settle into the rhythm. She glided slowly at first, learning how to keep her balance through a few slight stumbles and slips until it clicked.
And then she was flying on the ice.
Trevor's voice barely registered with the rush of blood in her ears. "I think you're a natural, Sypha."
She felt amazing. It was tiring in a good way and when Sypha tried a light spin, the world looked magical around her, covered in snow and sunshine. Everything had this unique glint in the mid morning light, with nary a cloud in sight and the pine trees as the only hint of color for miles. Most of the river was frozen solid, the ice clear enough to see the dark waters below and even a few fish swimming about. Her breathing was getting harder from excitement and exertion, condensing in the cold air, and she found herself marveling at the idea of doing this whenever the river froze.
Her eyes landed on Trevor, watching with his arms crossed and a smug grin on his face. Then she saw Adrian, further away on the riverbank, looking so pleased that she was enjoying herself while holding their little girl in his arms.
They could do this as a family every winter.
Then it occured to Sypha that she had fucking magic flowing inside her. She could freeze a chunk of the river whenever she felt like it, whenever her lovers requested it. She could just have a permanent skating area inside their castle and the sheer insanity of that idea made her laugh out loud, spinning with her arms wide open in the ice.
"Look what you've done," said Adrian with mirth. "She's gone mad."
"Why had you never told me about this?" asked Sypha, skating closer to him and eyeing Trevor as he joined them. "This is so cool!"
"Well, I just found these skates stored in one of the rooms we don't use two days ago," he replied, his smile soft and full of nostalgia. That explained where the skates had come from, then. "And since Trevor assumed--"
"--yes, love, correctly that you had never skated before, we decided to surprise you."
Sypha swallowed the tears that threatened to fall, but they could surely see it anyway. Her voice cracked a little as she mumbled "Thank you, you two."
"Yeah, yeah," Trevor said, looking down bashfully. He took her hand, kissed her knuckles softly, and turned to Adrian. "Show her some fancy moves, will ya?"
"Why do you assume I know any fancy moves?" asked Adrian, pretending to be offended because if they stopped bickering, they would drop dead on the spot.
"Oh, I don't know, mister floating vampire, why would I assume that?"
"You're a pain in the ass."
Trevor grinned at him like there was anything to be proud of in that exchange. "You'd know it."
"God, you're annoying," groaned Adrian with a deep sigh. He waited until Trevor was sitting on the bench to hand him Simona, who grabbed onto her dad's big fur coat immediately. "Be careful, she's bitey today."
"Are you, now?" Trevor asked her, lifting Simona to get a good look at her. "How bad is dhampir teething? Are you gonna bite daddy's hand when I try to comb your hair after your bath, huh?"
"Baba, goo'. Baba," said Simona, placing her hands on his face. "Ohhhh!"
Sypha giggled and then Adrian was pulling her by the hand, making her giggle even more as they glided together on the ice. He easily pulled her into his space, pressing Sypha to his chest.
Momentum carried them and it was, indeed, straight up dancing all of a sudden. She could almost hear music playing, one of the ballads of star crossed lovers that they'd heard in a tavern at some point. Without thinking, Sypha started humming the melody while spinning around with Adrian on the ice.
"What song is that?" he asked, holding her by the waist with one hand as he skated by her side.
"I don't remember the name, but it seemed fitting. Romantic, you know?"
Adrian smiled and nodded slightly in understanding, then pulled her close and kissed her. His lips were a bit cold, out here and so long after his last feeding, but Sypha loved it. She loved him. Her hands slipped around his neck to get him closer, to change the angle and deepen the kiss.
They parted and rushed to Trevor, who was examining his bitten hand.
"I don't see any blood," said Sypha. She turned to Adrian and saw him shake his head. "There's nothing there, honey."
"It hurt!" argued Trevor in a whiny tone.
"She bites my tits every day, Trevor. Have some shame," Sypha said, stepping out of the ice and noticing how strange and unnatural it felt to walk on snow after the freedom of skating. "Let's go back inside. I'm getting hungry."
"Just you wait until her fangs come out," said Adrian and both of them shuddered.
After lunch, they sat together in one of the drawing rooms. The fireplace bathed everything in warm, orange light and there were several blankets, cushions and pillows on the rug for them.
Sypha wouldn't dare move a muscle. Her feet ached in a completely new way, unlike the swollen mess of pregnancy or the new calluses of a long day on the road. Thankfully she had Trevor there to massage them with scented oils while she sprawled decadently on a pile of cushions.
Maybe this was how queens felt.
Simona tapped her father's nose. "Awoo," she demanded, her little hand insistently poking him as she sat in a comfy, soft throne of blankets of her own.
"No," said Adrian sternly. Well, trying to sound stern. It lost the edge with him trying to hold back a smile.
"Simona," he tried, pleading, as if toddlers knew mercy.
Their child pouted adorably. "Pis, tata, awoo?"
Adrian took a deep, dramatic sigh, shifted into his wolf form and curled up around her. Simona squealed with glee, cuddling with him. She rested her face next to his neck, where his fur was thick and soft, and closed her eyes with a happy sigh. He simply laid his head down on the blankets and followed her example, ready to share a nap with Simona.
"I'll never get tired of seeing that," Trevor commented, keeping his voice low. He pulled one of the blankets over their daughter, then got back to rubbing Sypha's feet.
She just sighed, relaxing more and more under his attention.
They stayed like that for a while, until Trevor was mostly just lounging there with her feet on his lap and his back to the couch. It was nice, quiet and cozy.
Sypha yawned and poked him gently with her foot. "Do you think I could make the upstairs hallway into a permanent skating space?" she asked, apropos of nothing.
"No," said Trevor immediately. Adrian raised his head and glared at her, doing his best to express the exact same reaction as a wolf.
She just laughed in response, already thinking of ways to convince them. Skating was too good to be a winter-only thing and Sypha could make ice with magic. Besides, this was their own fault.