Reversing what had become a common pattern for the two of them of late Einar finished making the supper that evening as Liz laid on the bed resting, preparing a good rich broth of goat, honey and serviceberries and grilling a few butterfly-shaped cuts of backstrap steak as well, leaving them to sizzle on a hot rock atop the stove which he brushed occasionally with bear grease to keep them from drying out at all. The meal ready he took it to Liz and sat with her while she ate, making sure she didn’t stop until she’d had plenty and then urging her to try just a bit more, focusing on the protein-rich portions of goat meat from the stew and those he’d fried. He did not much feel like eating, himself--mind was too busy with all the possibilities and potentialities of the present situation, both the new developments with Liz and the fact that snow had come, perhaps to stay--but got down a bite or two here and there because he knew Liz was watching him, and didn’t want to do anything that evening to upset her or cause her additional concern. Liz seemed to be doing better after supper, apologizing for her earlier behavior and insisting that she really was just fine, had simply been tired from the climb but her face still looked puffy to Einar, and he caught her trying over and over again to touch her thumb to the base of her little finger when she thought he wasn’t looking, and not meeting with much success. Such swelling, he knew--especially in the ankles, but elsewhere, too--could simply be a normal sign of advancing pregnancy in some women, and might not be a surprising thing to see in Liz just then, considering the past two days spent on her feet. It was the combination of symptoms that concerned him, though, the extreme tiredness, uncharacteristic shortness of temper and--though she hadn’t told him about it--the headache he suspected she was experiencing, judging from the way that she seemed intent on keeping her head turned away from the light of the open door. Wished he had a way to check her blood pressure so his concerns could either be confirmed or dismissed, but he could think of none.
Only thing to do was to try and let her rest, give her plenty of goat meat and other foods high in protein, and wait. Lack of protein, calcium and magnesium in the diet were, he knew, major risk factors when it came to a woman developing the problem Liz seemed to be showing the first signs of, and though he would have thought she was getting plenty of all three, the demands of their life had perhaps increased her needs beyond what she was able to easily obtain through her diet. If that was the case he knew he needed to be doing everything possible to help her get more, and to that end left the cabin briefly--had to go check on the meat hanging in the trees, he told Liz, make sure it was all secure for the night--and retrieved the half full jar of mountain goat’s blood that remained from the portion Liz had been able to salvage after their hunt. Pouring a good half cup’s worth of the thick, partially-congealed stuff into the cookpot he added water and honey, heating gently and stirring until the entire concoction grew smooth and warm. Muninn, still sitting on the perch Liz had made for him, watched curiously as Einar worked, twisting his head this way and that and, Einar was quite certain, doing his best to work out a way to get at the slowly heating liquid.
“You’d probably do it eventually, too, you old scoundrel, wouldn’t you? Mighty smart for a bird, and I don’t know that I trust you sitting there looking over my shoulder while I cook. Out! Out with you!” At which he opened the door, shooing the raven out into the snow and grinning when the great bird circled the cabin for a minute, scolding and rasping and generally making a fuss. You’ll be alright out there for a while. House was just getting too doggone crowded ,and besides, I figure part of your job is to help keep watch on the place during the night, make some noise if trouble shows up… The drink was ready, and he took it to her.
“Here. Vitamins. And minerals. Especially minerals. Give this a try and see if it sets alright with you.”
Liz gulped down a good half of the beverage, seeming to relish it. “Yes, it sits just fine. Probably shouldn’t even ask what it is, should I?”
“Ha! Nope, probably not. Just finish it up, it’s good for you.”
“Will you have some? You probably need this even more than I do, and besides, you didn’t get enough to eat tonight. Not even close.”
“Sure I did. I ate. But yeah, I’ll try a little sip of the stuff. Curious to see how it came out.” Feeling an immediate boost in energy and alertness with his first sip of the rich beverage, Einar had to admit that Liz was probably right about his needing something similar, the iron, especially, being something his body could really use just then. Well. Looks like I’d better be making more broths for both of us over the coming weeks, keep some always around so she can drink it and maybe occasionally partake of a bit, myself, but for tonight this has got to be enough. For both of us. Just need to go to sleep now.
Liz, it seemed, already was asleep or close to it, curled up in the bed and looking a good bit more comfortable and less distressed than she had most of the afternoon, which made Einar glad. Was starting to appear that she’d simply needed some rest, a bit of additional food after the stresses of their ridge trip; morning would tell, but he was hopeful that she’d be just fine. About himself he was less certain--ribs still pained him terribly, breathing remained labored and uncertain and his legs were on occasion refusing to cooperate, just as they had so alarmingly done while he waited for Liz to retrieve the elk hide on the last leg of their journey--but all of that could be dealt with later. For that night things were going well or at least reasonably close to it, and as he lowered himself into the bed Liz held back the blankets, curling herself around him and seeking to rub away some of the chill that always seemed to be there in his bones those days.
“It was good, that drink you made me. Just what little Snorri and I needed. We’ll sleep well tonight.”
They fell asleep to the howling of the wind outside as it worked its hardest to blow in another wave of storm--snow must not be allowed to melt, I know it’s early but winter is here to stay, will be here to stay if I have anything to do with it, the wind seemed to say, and as he drifted near sleep Einar thought he could almost make out the words--screaming and blasting and pounding the cabin, but they were secure within its walls, warm together