'Did you--'

“Did you – ”

Lady Lili had almost asked her husband whether he had seen his son, but it seemed a cruel question if he had not.

Indeed, he stared down at her smile with a blank expression, long enough that she began to fear he had worse news than having failed to see Finn – worse news than if it had not been Finn at all.

She began to fear he had worse news.

“Was it he?” she asked hesitantly.

“It was he.”

He turned and sat heavily on the edge of the bed. Lili stopped forcing a smile, since he could no longer see it. She studied the way his heavy hair draped over his shoulders, and the way his shoulders drooped.

Lili stopped forcing a smile, since he could no longer see it.

“What did they say?” she asked.

“I talked to Vash. It was he. He’s been missing for days: since the night after the last full moon.”

“And they never told you?” she gasped.

Egelric snorted, which was all he would say about that.

Egelric snorted.

Instead, he said, “It’s a clever young devil he is.” His teeth flashed when he spoke, and his voice was low with malicious pride. “For some reason the elves won’t be able to find him until the next full moon, and he knew it.”

“Where is he going? What will he do?”

'Where is he going?  What will he do?'

“I don’t know, henny,” he sighed. He stretched out beside her on the bed and patted her belly in greeting to his youngest son or daughter. “I have the feeling those pointed-​​eared devils know something they’re not telling me, about what he may have planned.”

“Do you suppose he’ll come here?” she asked timidly.

“I don’t know.” He turned his head to her, but he seemed to hesitate to speak. And then he spoke eagerly and low: “He might! My Lady Margaret told him his Da lives in the castle across the lake, and loves him, and wants to see him. He might come!”

'He might come!'

“God bless her!” Lili squealed.

“God bless the girl for her quick thinking! For fourteen years they’ve been lying to the lad, and in thirty seconds my lady made it all for naught! He pretended he wasn’t Finn, but the elves call him Vin – he must have known she was speaking of him. He pretended not to care, but he knows now, and he’ll be thinking it over.”

'He will surely come!'

“He will surely come!”

Egelric scooped her up and squeezed her. “They’ve been keeping him fairly under guard since he was old enough to walk – never let him go out alone or with his young friends. They knew he would run off the first chance he got. Didn’t I run off at least once a fortnight when I was his age?” he laughed.

'Didn't I run off at least once a fortnight when I was his age?'

“What did he look like?” Lili begged. “Did the girls say?”

“Poor devil looks like his Da, with his Mama’s freckles. My Lady Gwynn was quite disappointed. And, oh, henny, he has a bit of the old devil in him for certain. He made fun of Gwynn for reciting her love poetry, and called her a ‘cockaninny’ and said she was shaking her tail!”

Lili laughed at the humor of the scene, but more than that she was laughing to see her husband so gleeful. His grim face when he had come in must merely have been due to his own superstition about letting the gods see him too happy.

“The poor girl was crying to tell of it, and I thanked her for it, and said there was no more certain proof that it was my own son than to see that he liked to make the girls cry.”

'I thanked her for it.'

“I thought you liked to kiss them when you were fourteen,” she said.

“So I did, but they’ve been treating the lad like a baby for fourteen years, so we shall have to give him a little growing-​​up time before he moves on to the kissing part. He was quite offended that my lady would ruin a perfectly good poem with kissing!

He tipped Lili back onto the pillows and demonstrated the foolishness of youth by kissing her delightfully all down her neck.

“The kissing is the best part!” she laughed.

'The kissing is the best part!'

“Who needs the damned poem?” he asked her before kissing his way down the other side.

“Ach, Egelric!” She tried to push him away – more for the pleasure of feeling the futility of struggling against his strong arms than to truly rid herself of him. “You are the most un–romantic man I know.”

“I’m not the one who’s in love with me,” he reminded her.

'I think you are, at least a little.'

“I think you are, at least a little,” she taunted. “Oh!” She squealed as he lowered himself quickly to bite the tip of her nose. “If that son of yours has even a wee bit of the old devil in him, those three girls are in trouble!”

“Are you in trouble, henny?”

“Not yet,” she giggled, “but I think I’m about to have a wee bit of the old devil in me!

Now you’re in trouble!” he gasped. “You said wee!”

'You said wee!'