I went to my Mate’s side, relieved to see his red eyes open. He essayed a smile.
‘Well done, Aaspa my love.’
I put my hand on his face for one second, then I examined him carefully. I was relieved to find that there were no broken bones, and his life force was still strong. But hungry. He needed to Feed. Quickly. I am not fertile, so my breasts do not produce Sustenance. That left only my own life force. I ripped open my clothing and offered him my breast.
‘Feed’ I said.
‘No. I won’t Feed on your essence.’
‘It’s our only chance. I’m too weak to carry you home. If you Feed you can carry me.’
‘And you trust me to stop in time?’
‘You are my Mate. I trust you with my life.’
‘Literally’ he whispered, then swallowed, and bit. The pain was excruciating but I made no sound. I just put my hands around his head and cradled my love as he drained me. How long he fed, I don’t know, but just as my consciousness was slipping away, he raised his head. For a moment I felt bereft, then he picked me up in arms grown strong again and I heard the snap of his wings. I rested my head on his chest and allowed the blackness to fall.
I awoke in the comfort of our own nest with my head pillowed on my Mate’s chest.
‘She awakes’ a soft voice said.
I turned my eyes to see a plain-faced and small-boned young Mother seated neatly beside me. She smiled, and an imp peeped cheekily from beneath her vestigial wings. ‘Do you need more Sustenance, lady?’
I sat up and found myself surprisingly well. I had been tended while I slept.
‘No. I think not. But you have my thanks. Blessings be on you and on your little one.’
She coloured with pleasure and dipped her head shyly. ‘I will leave you then.’