i_love_freddie: (Freddie)
[personal profile] i_love_freddie
There were always clothes to mend.

Whenever she sat down in front of the fire with a pile of torn clothes beside her, Valia would remember being a young girl and sitting in the warm kitchen beside her mother. Fascinated, she would watch the older woman cut and sew and effortlessly repair the garments worn by her two older brothers. “Boys will be boys,” she would say with an indulgent smile.

The plague had taken her mother's life, while the youngest of her two bothers had been killed by bandits. Estranged from her father and her other brother, Valia carried on with life the best she could – and continued with what she had been taught. She had boys of her own; not children, but her lover and the other men she travelled with.

They could look after themselves, but she did not like to think of that. She was no warrior. They tried to teach her to fight but she had never quite picked it up. She could not pick a lock or sneak effortlessly through the darkness. She could not hunt. Without them to protect her and feed her, Valia knew that she could never last in the wilderness.

But she could wash and mend clothes, cook delicious meals from whatever meat and vegetables they could find, and clean and dress their wounds. This she did willingly and happily with all the care and love that her mother had given to her brothers.

She liked taking care of them – her boys. It made her feel useful.

Because of the circumstances, it was impractical to carry too much extra baggage. Mostly what clothing they had was worn. So there were always things to mend.

-------

“Are you sure you don't mind doing that, Val?” Cory asked, his brow furrowed with concern as he watched her carefully stitch his cotton shirt. He had to admit, her careful handiwork was so much better than his clumsy stitching. “It's only a little tear.”

“It'll only get bigger if we leave it,” Valia said wisely, her slender fingers working busily. “I don't want you left without a shirt if this one tears any more.” She liked Cory – the young half elf always had time for her and was genuinely grateful for everything she did for him.

“Did your mother teach you to sew like that?” he asked, his blue eyes unusually solemn. She nodded, eyes fixed on her task. “I always figure that this must be like to have a mother.”

“Did you ever know her?”

“No, not really. She died when I was about three... but she was never around before then either. She had a job to do, and children born within the guild are raised almost – well, almost like property, I guess.”

“Can you fix my cloak, Val?” Pausing behind her, Kane gave her a brief kiss on the top of her top of her head in a rare display of affection. Not waiting for a reply, he dropped it on the pile and disappeared behind the trees.

Younger wolf man Phellan had been lying quietly, acting partly as Cory's pillow through the exchange. As his friend sat up to pull his shirt back on, the curious youngster glanced over to where his mentor was lying on the other side of the fire.

“Riandur? Why don't we wear clothes?”

Riandur – ever indulgent towards his young apprentice – did not laugh. “We don't need them, Phellan,” he explained kindly. “Our fur protects us from the sun and the cold, and having things on our bodies would just slow us down.”

“Oh,” Phellan looked a little downcast. Feeling sorry fr him, Valia put down her needle and thread.

“You know what, Phellan? Maybe you don't have clothes like us, but you are still wearing something – and that can be cleaned and mended just like Cory's shirt. So. I think it is time we gave you a bath!”

Phellan looked both pleased and alarmed. Cory couldn't help but smile. Across the fire, even he sombre Riandur grinned.
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