"Orlenth! Would you calm down?"
Orlenth scowled at his sister as he turned around and headed back across the foyer. He'd been pacing all morning, and Tinia, apparently, had gotten sick of it. "No," he answered. "I'm impatient."
"Wearing down the flagstones isn't going to make Rysem return faster."
Orlenth sighed. "I know, I know, but I can't help it." He stopped in front of her. "Maybe I should get a horse and go meet him."
"He still won't be here any sooner."
"I know." He sighed again and returned to pacing until he heard the sound of hooves outside and stopped mid-step to rush out the doors. Rysem had been gone for a month—the first spring trip he'd taken since…well, since…everything.
Tinia heaved an exasperated sigh behind him but followed him out.
Orlenth grinned at his husband and ran to catch up to him as Rysem headed to the stable at a slow walk. "Hi."
"Hi." Rysem smiled back at him briefly before reaching down in front of him and lifting the small girl sitting there and handing her to his husband. "Here. Hold her while I get down."
Orlenth raised one dark eyebrow at him, but took the child from him and rested her in one arm. She looked to be about two years old, perhaps three, with bright gold hair and chocolate brown eyes. "Hi," he said. "What's your name?
"Her name is Reilyna," Rysem answered, dismounting carelessly and handing his reins to Seril.
"That's a long name for such a little girl. What's she doing here?"
"Her parents died during the winter storms." Orlenth winced, the weather had been harsh even on the reinforced manor house. He knew Rysem would see devastation on his trip. "The town didn't want to take care of her anymore. She was the only foundling this year. Normally, I bring them to the orphanage in town where they can be taken care of, but I…I thought this year, maybe we could keep her."
Orlenth stared at his husband in shock, ignoring the tiny hand pulling at his hair. "What?"
"Well, I know you don't want to pick a child from the orphanage, but, well, she hasn't been there yet, and surely we could provide a better home for her here than…than that."
"No, I get that. Just…why didn't you send a message ahead or…or something?"
Rysem grinned sheepishly. "I wanted to surprise you?"
"I thought we agreed no more surprises."
"But I knew you would like this one."
Orlenth sighed. "But now we don't have anywhere ready for her! There's a good reason for having nine months warning!"
Rysem grinned. "Just because I didn't tell you doesn't mean I didn't tell the staff. They should have nice room for her set up by now."
Orlenth shook his head. "You're terrible."
Hissing, Rysem asked anxiously, "Is it really that bad, Orlenth? I thought…it would be okay."
The younger man sighed and shrugged, looking back at Reilyna. "It's fine," he said quietly. "How am I supposed to say anything else right now?"
"Good answer," Rysem said with a grin, leaning forward to give his husband a soft kiss. "How about we take her to her room so she can rest? She's had a long trip."
Orlenth nodded. "Would you like to take a nap, sweetie?" he asked.
The girl stared back at him quietly before nodding.
"Does she talk?" Orlenth asked, looking back at his husband as they headed inside.
"She's shy," Rysem answered. "And she doesn't know you yet. I'm sure she'll love you. Give her some time." He grinned and wrapped an arm around his husband. "Even I needed some."
Orlenth rolled his eyes. "You're terrible, Rysem. Why do I love you?"
"Because I'm wonderful."
Orlenth chuckled and looked at his new daughter and back at his husband. "Yeah. You really are."
A/N: So, here's that other epilogue to Political Engagement I mentioned. I decided to post it as a seperate story because of the time jump. At the moment, I have no plans for a sequel unless someone can actually offer me an idea. Which I'm not opposed to, of course, but...well, I don't have one.