Disclaimer: I don't own either the Harry Potter series or the Valdemar Universe. I own the books though. Those are pretty cool.

Rant: I think this came out pretty good, though the focus is mostly introspection from two characters, rather than any actions that further the story very much. Darian comes to term with something pretty big, and our heroine gets her Hawkbrother name. Anyway, You'll probably getting a chapter of Gambler or Aspen-Creek Raised, next.

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Darian and Keisha were curled up together in a large and comfortable chair in front of the fireplace in his ground bound ekele. He marveled at the texture of the skin beneath his hands, her lovely visage cast in the soft glow of the firelight, and he couldn't help but have a bone-deep sense of satisfaction at having the most wonderful person in his world curled up like a kitten in his lap. As he felt the rhythmic inhalation and exhalation of her drowsy breath from her back to his chest, he gazed into the dancing and crackling flames and saw into the past.

He watched how the trappers' brat had been raised in the forest, taught to track, to hunt, to trap, and most of all, taught to thrive in the wilderness that was the Pelagiris Forest. He saw the disappearance of his mother and father in one of the Mage Storms, and his apprenticing by the villagers of Errold's Grove to the seemingly ineffectual Wizard named Justyn, and all the trials and tribulations that went into trying to learn magic under the old man's tutelage. He saw the heroic and of the irascible old Wizard and his scruffy familiar, and his meeting with Snowfire while on the run from some of the same group of men that the Old Man had sacrificed himself against to protect the people of Errold's Grove. He watched, seeing himself get taken in by the odd group that was investigating the forest for tainted land - he had been so young back then. After defeating the mage leading the invaders, he had joined the Tayledras, also known as the Hawkbrothers, and spent several years cleaning up bad spots in the Pelagiris Forest left behind after the Mage Storms, all the while learning real magic on the side.

He saw himself bonding to Kuari, his owl, and going to k'Vala Vale and learning under Starfall, before returning to Valdemar and founding the k'Valdemar Vale. Not to mention apprenticing under the famous Healing Adept Firesong. He had been knighted, become a master mage, and had met his lovely Keisha upon his return, as well – and then the two of them had saved the Northern Ghostcat Clan from a terrible disease. Then, they'd gone off on a quest to find his family, and saved them from the remnants of the very people who had invaded Errold's Grove so many years prior. The group had returned, and he and Keisha had married. A few years after that, he had reached Adept status, as well.

All those years gone by, and here he was curled up with the love of his life, a sense of contentment settling over him as he lightly kissed her forehead. At the moment, nothing that happened outside these walls mattered; nothing did, but the girl in his arms. Neither the Council and its worries, Mayor Lutter from Errold's Grove and his sense of self importance, nor the members of the Northern Clans coming down for healing or on a pilgrimage to meet with the holy deheli. Not even the odd, abused little girl that had appeared in their Vale, the one who was living with his old teacher Starfall – a fact which worried him greatly, because no child should be treated so poorly – and whose circumstances seemed to be even a trifling bit more important than the girl in his arms because –

…He was going to be a father in eight months.

Still, the child that had appeared from out of nowhere made him think, and a determination filled him to the brim – he swore on his life that his child would grow up happy, and secure in the knowledge that he or she was loved.

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Frostfall. That's what these strange and wonderful people were calling her now.

She liked it, not only because it was radically different from her old name – and therefore, everything that was associated with it, including her past – but also because is was so similar to the kind man who had taken her in.

Starfall, in her humble opinion, was the most awesome guy in the world. Not only was he tall, colorful, and handsome, and had a cool bird as a pet, but he was also a mage! That was pretty much as diametrically opposed to the plain, obsessive normality that the Dursley family had dedicated their life to.

Apparently, the name came because the day she arrived here in k'Valdemar Vale was the first day this year that the Frost had coated their little corner of Velgarth (the world she was apparently now on), but also because of the fact that when she popped into this world, she fell onto Starfall's floor, right in front of him. Plus, it sounded pretty cool. Frostfall.

The Vale was cool, too. It was beautiful and safe, but her favorite part of the Vale was nothing was that it did not have the rigid, unnatural order that had been imposed on Privet Drive. Everything there had been bland and cookie-cutter perfect – almost disgustingly so. One or two story houses with pastel walls, a patch of grass, and maybe some bushes struggling to survive all behind a decorative and useless waist-high picket fence. The people had been all the same, too – upper middle-class, with the man going off to work and women staying at home, and children sent off to daycare or school and rarely interacted with; moreover, they all seemed to have radiated this irritating smugness that practically shouted "I'm better than you" to everyone not living just like they were.

The food was all tasty, and the freshest things that she had ever eaten before. Everything she had eaten before coming here had been chemically altered fruits and vegetables, or processed meats and boxed foodstuffs from a grocery store. Here, though, everything was as fresh as can be – if it hadn't been caught that day or harvested in the last season, it was still only a few days old or heartily preserved in salt, or pickled.

She was grateful that Tyrsell, the King Stag of the dyheli had given her the written language along with the ability to speak it With that gift, she was learning all sorts of new things. The best part of it was that she didn't get in trouble for doing her best – like she had if she ever outperformed Dudley back in Little Winging. Instead, she was pushed to do her absolute best, anything less was considered an insult to whoever was teaching her or to all the work that the author of the book she was reading put into writing it. The very concept of it was revolutionary to her, and she relished the change occurring within her.

It wasn't to say that everything was easy, or that it all fell into place like in some fairy tale; in fact, even now there were concepts these people were introducing to her that were just beyond her comprehension. Things like how striving to be normal and average was not something one should do, that she had worth, that what the Dursley family had done to her was not only wrong and unfair, but evil.

"Stop holding yourself back; I know your smarter than this," demanded Starfall.

The habit of years was a hard thing to break.

"Everyone has worth," they told her.

She couldn't comprehend it.

"Their actions were wrong, and should have been stopped long ago. No child deserves to be treated like that."

"The world doesn't work that way," she had replied.

She had made quite a bit of headway on many of her issues, or so they told her. She wasn't quite as sure about the whole thing, but she decided it would be better off if she took their word for it.

After all, even if she couldn't quite comprehend why they were doing the things they did, or acted this way, she couldn't bring herself to say that she disliked it.