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Worth It (1505.06.30): Malaamig gets his puppies home to meet Larli.
~ 825 words, Created by: Ellen Million (Writer), Edward Cammarota (Patron), Posted: 11/01/11  

"Malaamig!" Larli's lilting voice was full of joy and delight as the door banged shut behind him. She hated that her betrothed stayed away for such long stretches, but it made his homecomings worth it.

She flung herself at him, hugging the big man awkwardly around the box he was carrying. A box that... squirmed and whined as it was jostled. "You found the puppy you wanted? Did you get the marriage license? Is it... official?"

Malaamig was smiling foolishly, and looked guilty, a combination that Larli found adorable and highly suspicious. "Tell me what you've done," she demanded, tossing her curly hair. A relatively tall woman, she barely came to Malaamig's chin, and he still cowered before her as she put her hands on her hips.

He didn't answer, just put the box on the table of the kitchen and began digging through his license pouch. Unable to resist the scratching noise, Larli tipped the lid of the box back the tiniest bit. "Malaamig!" she scolded. "I thought you were getting one puppy! How much did these cost?"

One of the small creatures was scrambling at the side while the other, larger one sitting back in a corner looking up at her with its tail wagging intensely. "Oh, aren't you adorable?" She couldn't help but removed the lid entirely, and scoop up the most active puppy for wiggling puppy cuddles. Abandoned, the other gave a yelp of dismay and began jumping at the side of the box.

Larli turned, and saw that Malaamig was holding out a license of rich, thick paper, wrapped in thin tissue. There were two copies. "Oh," she said, her mouth going round. She forgot about the puppy in her arms, ignoring the tongue licking at her face, and reached for the paper with her free hand. Malaamig handed her one of the copies.

"Oh," she said again, and this time she could feel her mouth curving into a smile. She read the text on the license through vision that unexpectedly blurred with tears. "We're... we're..."

Malaamig spoke at last. "Married." His low voice was music to Larli's ears, all gruff and familiar.

There was a squeak that Larli belatedly identified as her own voice. "Married!" she echoed. "And, oh, Malaamig! It has a child license allowance!" She put the precious paper on the table with shaking hands, and deposited the soft, squirming puppy back into the box with its companion. They whined greetings to each other and sniffed nose to nose.

"Malaamig," she said softly, and he finally swept her up into his arms and kissed her. He lifted her right off the ground with his embrace, and spun her around with a husky laugh of delight.

"Darling Larli," he said in her ear. "Do you forgive me for bringing home two of them?"

Larli laughed back with all the breath he'd left her. "I think I should make you suffer a little longer," she whispered back.

They kissed again, and when Malaamig finally set her on her own feet, Larli gave a contented sigh and lay her head against his chest, keeping her arms twined around him. "A baby. Oh, Malaamig, we could have a baby!"

Malaamig unexpectedly gave a strangled, very unhappy sound and pushed her away. In alarm, Larli looked up, and saw Malaamig reach for the table, where one of the new puppies had begun chewing on the crisp new marriage license. "Bad dog!" he scolded. "Not a chew toy!"

The license was still readable, but bore several new punctures and a distinctly dampened look to the corner, some of which was missing. A paw had rumpled the center of the license, and some of the ink had smudged. "Oh, Larli," Malaamig said, and it was with as much guilt as he'd had when he first arrived.

Larli took the chewed license with dismay, looking at the damage in concern. It was still a legal document, not in bad enough shape to require a re-print, but a far cry from the beautiful flawless license it had been just moments before. The puppy in question cowered in dismay, and piddled on the table before Malaamig whisked it, and the box with the other puppy, out the door, growling in frustration.

By the time he returned, Larli was laughing weakly. "Oh, Malaamig," she said with warm humor. "It's not so bad. A baby will be twice as much trouble as a puppy," she warned. She put the license in her pouch, front and center where she could touch it easily. It already looked as worn as her other licenses, or worse.

"And twice as worth it?" he asked hopefully. Larli liked the sheepish look on his big placid face.

"At least," Larli assured him, and she laughed as he lifted her into another tight hug. She realized as he did so that he never had told her how much he had paid for the pair of puppies.

Author's Notes

Prompted by Edward Cammarota at the October 2011 Muse Fusion Fusion. He wanted to see something that wasn't supposed to be a chew toy...

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Characters Featured:
Larli, Malaamig,

Story collections:
A Challenging Commute
A Man of Dogs
A Challenging Commute
All Empire Stories and Art
A Broken Token

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