Red Dragon Inn
Dreamweaver's Lair => Dragon Spine => Motley Menagerie of Myriad Marvels => Topic started by: Delilah on August 04, 2020, 02:17:40 PM
There were times when Kit Wylie wondered why they hadn't just built a bridge between the house he shared with his wife and son, and the next door house where Dorian and Seren lived. Today was one of those times. While he had been as thoughtful as he dared to be, keeping Leo entertained over the course of yesterday's excitement, Delilah had spent the day rushing back and forth before finally bouncing back home at midnight to declare that Dorian and Seren were officially parents to a baby girl. If he'd thought that would keep his own wife at home today, he was sorely mistaken. Delilah had already been next door twice this morning, and this time, she was bringing Kit and Leo with her.
"Wait until you see her. She's adorable. So tiny and pink and cute," Delilah said, practically oozing excitement. "Just like you were when you were little," she added, tapping a finger against her young son's nose.
Leo, at the grand old age of eighteen months, wrinkled his nose at the tap his mother gave him, laughing his familiar little giggle. "Mamamama babbby?"
"A little girl baby," she told her son, turning her smile on her husband. "Next time, we are having a girl," she declared as if they had a choice about it.
"There's going to be a next time?" Kit asked teasingly, hoisting Leo higher on his hip as they passed across the little gap between their house and the Hadleys'. "I still think we should have some kind of communal sitting room built right here so we don't have to go outside in the winter to say hello."
"Of course, there's going to be a next time!" Delilah insisted. "As soon as you teach the little man how to use the potty." She hooked an arm through his, even as he balanced the toddler against his hip. "Perhaps we should build a covered walkway between our house and theirs," she suggested.
"Some kind of verandah, maybe," he mused thoughtfully. "I bet I could find someone who could make it convertible for summer and winter." His eyes went distant, trying to imagine what that might look like, even as Delilah drew him up onto the porch to the door.
"I bet you could," she said, confident her husband could do anything he put his mind to. "We will have to set some ground rules though. We do not want to intrude on each other's privacy," she pointed out, as she rapped her knuckles on the door to announce their arrival.
"Well, obviously," he agreed. "Like any room in any house, if the door's closed, knock first. Like this." He took Leo's little fist in his and knocked on the door as well, making the little boy cackle happily.
"I just did that!" she pointed out, giggling, unable to get angry at either of her men, the big one or the little one. They were both just too cute.
"Coming!" a voice called from inside the house.
"Sounds like Uncle Dorian is coming to tickle you!" she said, wiggling her fingers in Leo's sides.
The toddler crowed delightedly at his mother's tickles, squirming in Kit's arms as his father laughed. "If you're not careful, I am going to drop him on your head."
Delilah gasped in feigned shock. "You would never!" she said, giving Kit a playful whack on the arm. "Dorian! If you do not open this door soon, I am going to ... Oh!" She trailed off, one hand raised as if she was about to knock again, when the door opened in front of them.
"Oh, what a surprise! It's Lilah ... again," Dorian teased, looking a little tired, but happy.
"She's very worried about your privacy," Kit informed his friend over the top of Delilah's head, flashing Dorian a grin. He remembered only too well what that weariness felt like.
"I'm sure she is," Dorian remarked with a hint of sarcasm that was completely lost on Delilah.
"Can I help it if Kit and Leo want to see the little princess?" she said, pushing her way past Dorian into the house.
"Because this visit is all about us," Kit commented, letting Dorian step back before he followed his wife inside. He grinned at his friend. "How are you enjoying being wrapped around the finger of something smaller than your cat?"
"Are you talking about Delilah or the 'little princess'?" Dorian countered with a grin. He and Kit had always enjoyed teasing her, and that hadn't changed when she'd gotten married.
Delilah didn't seem to mind though, ignoring the men as she made a beeline for Seren and the baby in the living room. "There she is! How is my little angel?"
The redhead looked up from where she was sitting by the window, the little bundle wrapped in a patchwork blanket cuddled close in her arms. "Your little angel, huh?" Seren asked with a tired grin. "And here I thought you had one already."
"Yes, of course! Since I can't be an aunt, I am going to be her godmother, whether you say so or not," Delilah insisted with a cheeky grin.
"We haven't even asked you yet!" Dorian said, laughing as he led Kit and Leo into the room.
"We all knew it was a foregone conclusion," Kit pointed out, winking over at Seren. He wouldn't crowd the new mom, prepared to keep Dorian company in another room if necessary so there weren't too many people cooing over the new baby. "What's her name, by the way?" he added, glancing at Dorian. "Lilah hasn't said."
Dorian didn't seem to mind. Kit and Delilah were their best friends, after all, and he knew they'd want to get a good look at the baby. In Delilah's case, several good looks. "We are thinking about calling her Asha Maris," he replied, hoping no one's feelings were hurt by that.
"Asha for your brother?" Kit asked, impressed by the choice of name to reflect that connection. Left to him, the poor girl might have ended up being called Nevilla.
"That's adorable," Delilah remarked. "And Maris for Marissa, I assume. You're going to have to have another so you can name one after Emrys," she added with a cheeky grin, as she reached to rescue her husband from Leo - or vice versa. "Would you like to see the baby, baby?"
"Emrys and Demi will have to wait their turn," Seren said with a tired smile, shifting a little to let baby Asha's face be seen more easily as Leo went happily into his mother's arms.
"Baby," the toddler said seriously, peering down from Delilah's embrace.
"Yes, a baby girl. Maybe someday you two will fall in love and get married. What do you think, my darling?" she asked, though that was many, many years away and she knew he had no idea what it was she was asking him.
"Li' mumma an' dada?" the little boy asked, still peering down at the baby girl in Seren's arms. He wasn't quite old enough yet to immediately consider the idea of girls as being generally icky.
"Don't you think you're jumping the gun, just a wee bit, Lilah?" Dorian scolded.
"Hush!" Delilah scolded Dorian right back. "Si, just like Mumma and Dada, my love," she told the little boy, crouching down on the floor she he could get a better look at the baby girl.
"I told you she'd pick a wedding date if it was a girl," Kit murmured to Dorian in amusement, hands now in his pockets as he stood beside his friend. He caught Seren's lips twitching, content that his own wife didn't have lupine hearing to catch him dropping her in it.
"I haven't picked a date ... yet," Delilah pointed out, overhearing her husband, murmur or no murmur. Kit whispered like a buzz in a sawmill anyway, as far as Delilah was concerned. Besides, she knew him too well. "Isn't she adorable, chico?" she asked her Leo again.
Kit snorted with laughter, rolling his eyes as he nudged Dorian. "I'll go and get lunch started, then," he said, already turning toward the kitchen. "You've got Neville and Demi dropping by with the trio, too?"
"Not until later," Dorian replied. He didn't want to overburden Seren with too many visitors all at once. "Emrys and Marissa are coming by tomorrow."
"Just nudge me, and I'll pull her away with time for you two to rest a bit before your brother arrives," Kit promised him with a wink, ducking into the kitchen to go ahead and create lunch for their little group. Over by the window, Seren was gently lifting Asha up in the crook of her arm so Leo could have a better look at the baby girl.
Dorian glanced over at the women and deciding it was safe to leave them on their own for a bit, he followed Kit into the kitchen to help rustle up some lunch. In the meantime, Delilah was still ooohing and aaahing over baby Asha.
"What do you think Kit would say if I told him I was pregnant?" she asked Seren, lowering her voice so the men wouldn't overhear her.
"Before or after he threw you on the bed to re-enact the moment of conception?" Seren countered with a warm smile. "You know as well as I do that Kit would be as happy as you are about it. I assume you are happy about it?"
Delilah frowned. "Leo isn't even two yet," she pointed out, more worried about Kit's reaction to the news than anything else. "I told him we had to wait until he was potty-trained."
"Lilah, you're one of the most capable people I know," Seren pointed out affectionately to her best of friends. "If you are expecting again, you will rise to the challenge, and you'll be happy to. And Kit will be delighted, you know that."
"But will Leo?" she asked, looking to her young son who had yet to decide whether he liked the looks of the newborn or not. He wiggled his way out of her arms so he could properly get a better look at her.
Seren's smile gentled as she ended up with Leo sitting on one knee while inspecting newborn Asha in her other arm. "He's too little to fully understand," she reminded Delilah fondly. "But how many little kids are not totally in love with their little brothers and sisters?"
"Not many, I suppose," Delilah admitted, watching as Leo inspected the newborn. She didn't think he'd do anything to hurt her, but she stayed close by just in case. "I adore my boys, but I want a little girl," she confessed quietly.
"Then I guess you'd better take a test," Seren said softly. "So if it comes out negative, you can get right on that." She smiled at her friend reassuringly. "I don't think you have anything to worry about, Lilah."
"I'm gonna keep trying until I have a girl. I don't care if we have to have six boys to do it!" Delilah said, raising her voice just a tad too loud, if she didn't want to be overheard.
Seren laughed, the movement jostling Leo on her leg and drawing the toddler out of his contemplation of the sleeping baby in her arms. He giggled along with his adoptive aunt, opening his arms to Delilah once again.
It wasn't that she didn't love her son; she adored him, but she'd been the only girl in a family of boys, and seeing Seren with a daughter only made her want it all the more. She settled herself on the floor at Seren's feet and scooped the little man onto her lap, fingers moving to comb through his hair.
"Kit wants to take him for a haircut, but I love his curls!" she confessed further.
"Maybe a trim, then?" the redhead suggested with a quiet chuckle. "I mean, I know his mane is one of his glories, but he kinda needs to be able to see, too." The teasing warmth in her voice was affectionate as she looked down at her friend and the toddler, cuddling her own baby close. For a long time, Seren had been convinced that she would never be able to have a family this way, but Delilah had talked her through it and made it possible. How could she ever repay her?
"He's supposed to have a mane. He's a lion!" Delilah explained, turning to the toddler in her arms and giving him her best roar before lying him on the floor and tickling him. "Rwwrrrrrr!"
In the kitchen, Kit laughed at the sound of his wife's roar and the uproarious cackling laughter from his son that followed it, hands busily putting together cold cuts and salad bits and pieces to provide a meal that the wolves wouldn't turn their noses up at but was also balanced enough for the humans.
"Just wait - in six months, that'll be your wife and child making your ears bleed," he informed Dorian cheerfully.
"Leo is a little older than six months," Dorian reminded his friend, but he got his meaning. "Besides, you love it and you know it. You and Delilah should have been married years ago." And they probably would have been, if Kit hadn't been so afraid to ask her.
"I'm never going to live that down, am I?" the older man chuckled, shaking his head in cheerful denial. "We're here now. And I may be a very small bit jealous that you got a girl, but that's cool. I just have to talk Lilah into getting pregnant again."
"Jealous? Why?" Dorian asked, as he got out a bottle of juice and some glasses, including a sippy cup they kept on hand for nieces and nephews. "You have a happy, healthy son. What's there to be jealous of?"
"And I love him," Kit agreed. "Never thought I could love anyone as much as Lilah, but there we are. I just ... I want a daughter, too." He looked a little shame-faced as he said this. "Not that Leo isn't enough, because he's amazing. But ... a little girl would balance us out."
"You better work on that then," Dorian teased, an amused smirk on his face. As far as Dorian was concerned, they'd had a hard time conceiving and he was just happy they had a child.
"Sorry," Kit apologized, knowing he was walking a line. "I guess I'm worrying over nothing, huh?" He flashed his friend a smile. "Where are we eating?"
"Que sera sera," Dorian replied with a shrug of his shoulders. Whatever will be, will be. "The table is probably a good bet," he told his friend, stating the obvious. "You know, I really appreciate the way you and Lilah have taken to Seren."
"She's family," Kit said, one shoulder shrugging up and down. "She saved your life, got you all happy and domesticated, got all three of us settled in the city. Besides, I should be thanking you for introducing her to us. Lilah never had a sister before you brought Seren into the fold."
"Family's more than blood, brother," Dorian agreed. As a matter of fact, he'd known Kit longer than he'd known his own flesh and blood brother, Neville. He gave Kit's shoulder a brother squeeze, as if to reinforce his words. "Shall we call the girls in for lunch?"
"It's that, or we eat it all and blame them for being easily distracted when they complain they're hungry," his friend said with a grin.
"I heard that!" Seren called from the other room, her voice warm with amusement.
Dorian chuckled. "Never trust a woman with preternatural hearing not to overhear you," he told his friend, turning to go about setting the glasses of juice on the table, one at each setting.
"It's strange being the only one in this family without any kind of enhanced ability," Kit admitted, though he sounded genuinely tickled by the whole thing. "Keeps me on my toes."
"Are you counting Delilah in that, too?" Dorian asked. She had been known to have a few unique abilities, but as far as Dorian knew she was just as human as Kit was.
"Oh, yeah." Kit's smile was wide as he glanced at his friend. "There's something fae about that woman, and I don't mean figuratively."
"But she hasn't said anything about ..." Dorian started, falling suddenly silent as he heard movement behind him, worried Delilah might overhear, but apparently it was too late.
"She hasn't said anything about what?" Delilah asked as she joined them.
"Being a bewitching traveller from the great beyond," Kit informed his wife affectionately, wrapping an arm about her waist to pull her close with a smile. "What did you do with Leo and the girls?"
"They're right behind ..." Delilah said, jerking a thumb behind her and glancing over her shoulder as Kit wrapped an arm around her waist. "... me," she continued, turning back to her hunky husband with a smile and a kiss that promised more later.
And sure enough, there was Seren, newborn baby on her shoulder, Leo on the other hip, smiling as she slipped into the kitchen behind Delilah. "You're very lucky I had a healer look me over, woman," she informed her best friend teasingly. "Otherwise, I might have words for you leaving me with both children two days after popping one of them out."
"Leo knows how to walk, you know, Seren," Delilah reminded her friend. Somehow she managed to wiggle her way out of Kit's arms to reclaim Leo from her friend. "Hungry, chico? Look - Papa made lunch!"
Leo's eyes lit up at the prospect of lunch, hugging his mother about the neck with a cheery giggle as Kit leaned down to bump his nose to his son's. Seren watched them for a moment, no longer feeling the intense pang of pain in her heart that had once been a daily occurrence around their friends' little family. They had Asha now, a little family of their own, and leaning into Dorian with their daughter in her arms felt like the most natural thing in the world.
Delilah giggled at the look on her son's face. "You'd think we were starving him," she said as she settled the toddler into the booster seat they kept at their friends' house, for just such occasions.
"Like father, like son," Dorian remarked with a wink at Delilah.
"Says the man who can inhale half a cow without breathing," Kit defended himself, setting down the dishes on the table for each of them to serve themselves from.
"I take full responsibility for that," Seren said with a low laugh. "His first meal after turning was an enormous steak."
"What can I say? I eat like a wolf," Dorian said with a shrug of his shoulders, an amused smirk on his face. He was technically half-wolf now, after all.
"And I thank you for keeping that particular trait to yourselves," Delilah said. "Kit and Leo eat me out of house and home as it is."
Seren laughed again as she sat down at the table, Asha gently propped on her shoulder. Perhaps it was odd, the way the weres near constantly held their children when they were tiny, but it felt normal to them. Bonding didn't just happen during feeds, after all. "Why do you think we have such an enormous freezer?"
"So, when the moon is full, Dorian just goes hunting in the freezer?" Delilah guessed. She knew better than that, but despite their friendship, it was something she'd never really pried about. "You're going to need someone to watch that little one when the moon is full," she said, clearing her throat to drop a big hint.
Kit snorted, turning the sound into a cough as he took a sip from his glass. He knew perfectly well where this was going. Seren glanced at Dorian with a grin of her own.
"Well, you already have such a heavy burden at full moon," she teased their friends. "Between the triplets, the twins, their little brother, and Leo ... perhaps it would be cruel to ask you to take on one more."
Delilah merely smiled sweetly. "If you don't think we can handle them, just say so," she said before adding, "Besides, we need the practice handling a baby girl, don't we, querido?"
"Don't say so, she'll take it as a challenge," Kit advised, laying a plate in front of his wife before handing Leo a rolled up piece of ham to chew on. He caught his wife's look, a softer smile crossing his face. "That we do."
"No, I mean, we really need the practice," Delilah repeated, giving her husband a look that said he might want to think about that harder. Though she had no idea whether they were having a boy or a girl, she had missed one cycle and was pretty sure she was pregnant. Dorian took a bite of his sandwich to hide the grin on his face. If he understood what it was Lilah was trying to get at.
This time, Kit really coughed, catching on at the second attempt with juice spraying out of his nose.
Leo cackled, waving his handful of meat at his father. "Dadada bllllrrrrm!"
"Of course, girls aren't much different than boys until they're older, I suppose," Lilah continued. "Diapering is probably easier, and girls don't need to learn how to aim."
At this, Dorian couldn't help but chuckle. "Well, that's a plus."
"Seeing as Leo's aim is as good as his comical timing, I think we can breathe easier than you two," Seren agreed with Dorian, swallowing her mouthful with a smile.
Delilah merely smiled sweetly over at her husband and handed him a napkin to mop up the juice he'd just sprayed from his nose. "Dada is a silly man, isn't he, ninito?" she asked the toddler, not really expecting an answer.
Kit was laughing now, though, even as he wiped up his face. "He clearly gets his timing from his mother," he managed, sniffling in amusement. "I've always been more of a dramatic monologues man."
"Have you nothing to say about this, querida?" Delilah asked Kit with a pretty pout on her face. Dorian knew better than to butt in, but couldn't help but smirk knowingly over at Seren.
Ignoring the knowing looks between the other couple, Kit wiped the last of the juice from his face to smile over at Delilah. "It's a bit sooner than you told me to wait for," he said, his smile deepening. "But are you really expecting me to be anything but thrilled?"
"Well, I am sure Leo will be out of diapers by then," Delilah reasoned, perhaps more for her own reassurance than his. "I have not seen the midwife yet, but I am pretty sure."
"I'll get right on the potty training with a vengeance," Kit promised, reaching over to tickle Leo's chin. "You and me, kiddo, are going to learn all about the wonders of plumbing."
Leo giggled at his father's affection and tried and failed to repeat the word "plumbing". "You have about eight months," Delilah warned, the remark aimed at her husband, not their son. "But that is not why we are here. We are here to celebrate the birth of this lovely ninita," she said, looking back at Seren and the baby. "We are so very happy for you both," she added, speaking for both herself and Kit.
"It wouldn't have happened without you," Seren said softly, firm in her belief that it had been Delilah's intervention that had lead to this feeling of absolute contentment now she sat with her mate and their child. "And why can't we celebrate it all together? We're family, you're part of our pack. How many other couples can say they've got wolves for babysitters?"
"How many can say they babysit for wolves?" Delilah countered, smiling warmly at her friend, who she thought of as a sister.
Dorian lifted his glass of juice to toast their lives. "To us! May we live long and happy lives and have lots of children!" he said, though he'd be just as happy with one as with six.
"Hear, hear!" Kit raised his own glass, one hand wrapping Leo's pudgy fist about the handle of his sippy cup so the toddler could join in the toast with everyone else.
"To family," Seren agreed, laughing a little as Asha let out a perfectly timed fart as the toast was joined.
Dorian laughed upon hearing Asha put her two cents in. "To family," Delilah echoed, smiling with warm affection at her husband and friends and children. Deciding to settle down near their friends was the best decision they'd ever made.
For a moment, there was stillness, with each of them considering their own place in their strange but perfect family grouping, before Kit put his glass down, leaning forward on his elbows. "So what are we going to call our daughter?" he asked Delilah, not even considering that it might be another boy brewing inside her.
She smiled sweetly back at her husband, and without a moment's hesitation said, "We could name her Kitty, but that might be confusing." She had not really thought too much about names yet, just getting used to the idea of having another child.
"Christina," Kit corrected his wife playfully, chuckling. "Kitty sounds ridiculous unless you're eighty years old and embracing your long-lost youth with rainbow hair and flares."
Delilah pouted again. "I kind of like Kitty," she muttered to herself. "Christina Seren, perhaps?" she suggested. She'd rather name their daughter in honor of her closest friend than herself, which she thought was a little too egotistical. "Or perhaps Dorianna?" she teased, smirking over at their friend.
It was Dorian's turn to sputter. "Please, don't," he insisted.
"Lily's a good name, too," Seren offered with a soft smile. She shifted, carefully handing Asha over to Dorian so she could eat her own lunch now he was close to finishing.
"Lily as in Lilah?" Delilah said, with a suspicious furrowing of her brows at her friend. She knew her well enough to know what Seren was up to, but there was still plenty of time to discuss names. "Oh!" she declared, as Seren went to hand the newborn off to Dorian. "Let me!" she said, though she was still balancing Leo on her lap.
"What's wrong with that?" Seren asked innocently, content to let Lilah and Dorian wrangle over who got Asha for the time being.
Kit grinned on the other side of the table, waiting for the inevitable handing over of Leo when Delilah realized that two on one lap was a bit much.
It wasn't that Delilah didn't love her son, but the temptation to hold a newborn, even if for only a short while, was too much to resist. "Kit, would you mind?" she asked her husband sweetly.
Dorian said nothing, but took baby Asha for the moment, knowing Delilah was going to steal her the moment Kit took Leo.
"There's nothing wrong with it. What is wrong with Serena?" she countered.
"Nothing at all," Seren said, just as innocent as before, watching the game of pass the baby with amusement. It did not escape her notice that Kit took his own sweet time in cleaning his hands and moving his plate before reaching to take Leo.
Delilah gave Kit a look that said she was losing her patience, but held her tongue. "Then do not be surprised if I - er, we - name her after you," she told Seren.
"Don't you think you should wait until you know what you're having first?" Dorian asked.
"Party poop," Delilah countered, sticking her tongue out at Dorian.
"Ruin my fun, why don't you?" Kit accused him, finally taking Leo from his mother with a chuckle for the look Delilah gave him. "We've been replaced by a newborn, Leo."
"Only for a short while, querido," Delilah said, turning her attention to the newborn Dorian was carefully handing off to her. "Oh, my goodness," she whispered to the baby girl. "Aren't you the sweetest little thing?"
"I'm surprised you didn't reach up in there and pull her out yourself yesterday," Seren commented, deeply amused by how gooey the other couple could get over a newborn baby. She wasn't exactly immune herself.
Delilah made a face at Seren's remark. "Do I look like a midwife to you?" she asked, momentarily looking from the baby to Seren and back again. She drifted into her native language, which was sort of a Rhy'Din version of Spanish, to babble quietly at the baby.
Asha wriggled for a moment, rubbing at her nose with one tiny hand before settling into the new arms easily. Kit grinned, kissing Leo's hair as the toddler slumped back against him. "We're going to make a merry Christmas this year, aren't we?"
"With the whole family gathered together?" Dorian asked, chuckling. That family consisted not only of those presently gathered but Neville, Demi, Emrys, Marissa, and all their children, too. "We're going to need a bigger house!"
"We can go to Neville's place," Kit suggested with a grin. Of them all, Demi and Neville were the only ones with a house big enough to hold all of them without it turning into some kind of awkward orgy.
"You don't think we should all invite ourselves to Emrys and Marissa's?" Dorian teased, knowing it would be nearly impossible for them all to fit there, despite Emrys' additions to the cottage.
Seren laughed. "You get to tell them we're coming, if that's the plan!" she told her mate. Her brother would probably not welcome being crashed by the entire pack at once.
Dorian laughed. "I think I'll talk to Neville instead," he admitted. He didn't exactly want to go against the pack's alpha, after all.
"You see?" Delilah interjected. "This is why we came back to Rhy'Din," she said, smiling at the three of them. Sure, she had a bunch of brothers out there somewhere who she adored, but she had never felt so much like part of a family as she did here with Dorian and Seren and the rest of their family.
"It was easier than tracking down all her brothers and trapping them in a house for an afternoon," Kit deadpanned, flicking his teasing eyes to Delilah with a hidden smile.
"If you can track down all my brothers and get them in the same room at one time, you earn a prize," Delilah told him, which seemed to indicate that it was a next-to-impossible task.
"Ah, but you forget I have access to three wolves and a couple of very big cats," Kit pointed out laughingly. "Pretty sure Demi could pin down four of them at the same time when she's shifted. Gorgeous tiger, but boy howdy, she is big."
"I assume we are talking about her size as a tiger and not her boobs," Delilah said, just blurting it out. Of course, Delilah's feminine attributes were nothing to sneeze at either.
Dorian coughed to cover a laugh. He was not touching that one with a ten foot pole.
"Well, those are, too, but I was referring to the three hundred pound white tiger who pinned me to the stairs last month because you managed to make her think if I left the house without the shopping list, the world would end," Kit said with a grin.
Delilah shrugged, offering an innocent smile that was anything but. "Be glad it was only one tiger instead of two," she countered. Suddenly, she wrinkled her nose as she caught a whiff of an unmistakable odor. She didn't have to have any preternatural abilities to know when someone was filling their diaper. "Dorian, darling, I think your precious daughter has a present for you," she said, carefully handing the newborn back to her father.
"Uh-uh, you claimed her, you get to change her," Seren pointed out with a smirk. "You don't get to give her back when she whiffs."
"But what if it makes me nauseous in my very delicate state?" Delilah argued.
Dorian chuckled. "I thought you said you needed the practice," he teased his friend.
"Yes, but ... No, Kit needs the practice," Delilah pointed out.
"I have a sleeping toddler," Kit said cheerfully, decidedly pleased with how this was working out in his favor. Leo might be as heavy as an anvil when he fell asleep, but right now, Kit was all for it. "Besides, you're still going to have to deal with his smells. Asha's backside won't be anywhere near as bad as his for at least a month."
Delilah sighed, looking to Dorian for rescue, who threw up his hands in response.
"Don't look at me. I don't want to sleep in the doghouse tonight." Not that they had a doghouse.
"Oh, very well," Delilah muttered, sighing as she looked down at the baby. "Shall we get you cleaned up, pequeno?" she said, moving to her feet with the little one in her arms. How much could a tiny baby poop anyway?
"She's only a day old, bella, how bad could it be?" Kit added in amusement, watching as Delilah took the tiny girl over to the changing station the Hadleys had set up in the kitchen. At least everything was within arms' reach.
"Clearly you do not remember much about newborns, querido," Delilah countered, but she made no further complaints as she went about cleaning and re-diapering the newborn, oohing and aahing at her the whole time despite the smell.
"I'm sure you'll be happy to remind me in eight months' time," was Kit's lackadaisical response through his smile. She was right about one thing, though - being in Rhy'Din, so close to Dorian and his little family, it felt like home, and that was something they hadn't had in almost the entire time they had known each other. It was a good feeling.
"I'm sure I will," Delilah agreed. "Oh, look at that! She still has her little nub!" she said, regarding the nub of the umbilical cord that was still attached to the newborn's belly button. "Isn't that adorable?"
"Adorable is not the word I would use to describe that abomination," Seren said with a laugh. "Apparently it'll dry up and drop off in about a week?"
"Si, just make sure it doesn't stick to anything and come off too soon," she warned. Despite her complaints, taking care of a newborn the second time around was a piece of cake, especially when the baby wasn't yours.
"It stinks, too," Seren added in complaint, though she knew only she and Dorian could actually smell the umbilical remnant at this moment. Dying flesh never smelled good, but she had not expected it to be a formative part of her memories of becoming a new mother.
"It will be gone soon enough," Delilah assured her friend, tossing the soiled diaper into the bin. She squeezed a bit of hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed it in before picking the newborn back up. "There we go. Little girls should smell like sugar and spice and everything nice, not like a soiled nappy."
Asha cooed, happy with her clean backside, it seemed. Seren chuckled. "Have to say, it's nice having experts living right next door."
"Not experts," Delilah corrected. "Just a little more experienced," she said as she rejoined them at the table, the little one tucked into the crook of her arm. "Is he asleep?" she asked, looking over at her son in his father's arms.
"Feels like it," Kit said, glancing down at the toddler on his lap. Leo had curled up against his chest, thumb securely in his mouth as he napped. "I guess he decided it was nap time."
"He is such a good little boy," Delilah said with a smile and a sigh. Despite the newborn in her arms, it was no secret that her heart belonged to Leo. "Just like his father," she added with an adoring look at Kit.
"Would you two like a room?" Dorian teased his friends.
"Less of the little," Kit answered, but he was smiling again. Dorian's comment got a roll of his eyes. "Would you?" he countered, raising a brow in challenge. Magic was a wonderful thing, yes, but it could only do so much for sleep deprivation.
Dorian chuckled. "I wouldn't mind a few hours of sleep," he admitted. "Then, why don't you go take a nap?" Delilah suggested. "Both of you. We can handle things here for a few hours."
Seren hesitated, glancing at Dorian. They hadn't been out of the same room as Asha since she'd made her appearance yesterday morning; it was an oddly intimidating thing to consider.
"I am serious, hermana," Delilah assured the other woman. "Leo will nap for another hour or so, and we don't mind looking after the little one for a while. Do we, Kit?" she asked, looking to her husband to back her up on this.
"No complaints here," Kit agreed. "We'll even stay here in your house, so you can hear what's going on." He didn't quite understand the animal side of Seren and Dorian, but he could see that asking them to just hand over their newborn might be a little much.
"We need the practice," Delilah reminded their friends, though that was hardly the case. "Anyone can see that you are both exhausted. I promise we will wake you if we need you," she assured them.
Dorian looked to Seren, knowing she was even more tired than he was. "What do you think?"
Biting her lip, Seren looked at Asha for a long moment. She was exhausted, and it was a very generous offer from their friends. So she nodded reluctantly. "Just ... stay in the house?" she asked, feeling terrible for needing to ask.
"Yes, of course. We will be right here," Delilah promised. Where were they going to go, after all? If Dorian and Seren didn't trust them by now, they never would.
"It really isn't personal, Lilah," Seren tried to explain. "It's ... I hate saying this, but it's a wolf thing. I used to look after the newborns when I was a pup, and I never really understood why the mamas wouldn't leave the hut until their kids were moving around on their own. I guess it's the drive to protect the young, you know? It isn't that I don't trust you."
Delilah smiled warmly at her friend and reached over to give her hand a soft squeeze. "It is up to you, Seren. I will take no offense, whatever you decide. We only want to help."
Squeezing Deliah's hand, Seren looked to Dorian. She needed a little help to make the decision, it seemed. Kit glanced between them, wisely keeping his mouth shut.
Dorian shrugged. He hadn't been a wolf very long, and he didn't have the same maternal instincts that Seren had been raised with. "It's up to you, sweetheart, but we could use a little sleep."
"A couple of hours of sleep would be nice," she conceded. "She'll be safe with Lilah and Kit."
At this, Kit managed to produce something helpful. "Lilah will cuddle her for the whole time," he predicted. "I'll clean up and cook your dinner, how's that?"
"No, we will take turns cuddling her and cleaning, but you can do the cooking," Delilah agreed cheerily.
Dorian laughed. "This is silly. It's Lilah and Kit, for heaven's sake!"
Seren ducked her head, stung by Dorian's dismissal of her instinct. "Sorry," she apologized. "I guess I'm more tired than I thought. I'll go to bed." She rose, quickly slipping from the kitchen, as though trying to prove that she could leave her daughter with their friends.
Dorian frowned, watching as his wife made a hasty exit, but it was Delilah who reached over to reassure him with a touch of her hand to his arm.
"Be gentle. She has just given birth, and her instinct is to protect her baby," she told him. Not to mention hormones and lack of sleep, which would make her moody. "If you would prefer, you can take the baby with you, and we will just help clean and cook," Delilah offered.
Dorian was still frowning, as if he was unsure which decision to make.
Kit rolled his eyes at the pair of them. "Go and look after your wife, Dorian," he said. "Silly was not the right word to use there, I think. We'll be here, and Asha will not leave our sight. I think this is more to do with Seren's state of mind than any mistrust of us."
"I hope so," Dorian said, still frowning worriedly. "We will wake you if we need you. Promise," Delilah assured him again. Dorian nodded to them both, looking just a little hesitant, despite his own claim of silliness. "Okay," he said. "We really do appreciate the help."
"You'll get used to asking for it, too," Kit promised. "You won't sleep for long, and you'll feel better when you're up again. So will she."
Dorian nodded. "I guess so," he said. They'd been there to help their friends when Leo had been born, and he knew they were trying to return the favor.
"That's what friends are for, si?" Delilah asked, giving his arm another squeeze. "Now, go apologize to your wife and get some rest."
Kit gave him an encouraging nod, lifting a still sleeping Leo onto his chest and shoulder to hold him with one arm as he began to tidy up after the meal. He knew better than most how painful words could be in the wrong moment. He was just lucky Delilah was the most patient woman in the world.
"Yes, ma'am," Dorian replied, pausing to touch a tender kiss to his new daughter's head before turning to join Seren and try to get a little well-needed rest.
Delilah was tempted to hand the newborn back, and yet, she also knew from experience that the moments when the new parents had help and could rest knowing their baby was well cared for were rare. Hopefully, Seren wouldn't hold it against them.
Dorian didn't bother knocking on the door when he reached their bedroom, quietly stepping inside so as not to wake Seren if she was already asleep.
She wasn't asleep. She wasn't even in bed. She was standing next to the baby's crib, one hand on the soft blanket as she stared down at the empty space. Seren had always struggled with the duality of her nature, especially when it had been forcibly separate. It was little wonder she was struggling against the lupine instincts that demanded she cosset her pup away in a den for the next two weeks.
"Seren," Dorian started, calling her name quietly, almost tentatively. He didn't understand why she seemed so sad when they had finally achieved their dream of starting a family. Even if they only ever had one child, it was more than either of them could have ever hoped for. "I wasn't calling you silly," he attempted to explain, moving over to wind his arms around her waist. "It was a poor choice of words. I'm sorry."
At least he could be sure he could never startle her, those heightened senses they shared warning her of his presence long before he spoke. She leaned back into his arms as he wrapped her in his embrace, her hand releasing the little blanket. "I'm sorry I took it badly," she murmured. "The wolf is ... stronger than I expected it to be. It's hard to separate her instincts from my common sense."
"I am sure Delilah won't mind if you want her with us," he assured her, and he wouldn't mind either. They were a family now, and all he wanted was to make her happy.
Seren shook her head with a faint smile, turning to curl her arms about him in return, nose to nose with her mate. "No, you're right," she said quietly. "This is good for us. I need to take control of the wolf again - I don't want her to be this strong the next time I shift."
It was hard for him to understand, seeing as he was only turned a few years ago, while she was born what she was. Ironically though, she had never mastered her wolf form until recently. It was almost as though they were learning how to do that together, and with the help of their friends. "You should get some rest," he told her quietly, rubbing his nose against hers.
"So should you," she countered, nuzzling back to him tenderly. "I'm sorry I caused a scene. I'll get control of myself soon, I promise."
"You didn't cause a scene. We all love you and care about you is all and ..." He trailed off, a frown on his face. "I don't like to see you sad," he confessed, especially when she should be happy. They were both tired, though, and he supposed that was part of it.
"I'm not sad," she promised him. "I'm not sad, not at all. I'm happier than I've ever been. I just ... When wolves whelp, they stay in the den with their pressed close against them for weeks afterward. The wolf inside me wants me to do that, and she's fighting me about behaving like a human. That's all this is. It's her instinct against my sense, and right now, she's a little stronger than me at times. It'll get better."
"Oh, I see," he murmured, though he couldn't really understand it the way she did, as he hadn't experienced it. His instincts were mostly human, unless he was in wolf form, and that only happened during a full moon. "Is there anything I can do?" he asked, obviously concerned.
"You're already doing it," she told him with a gentle smile. "Reminding me that I'm not a wolf, and I don't have to be ruled by her instincts. That you won't think less of me for being ruled by her sometimes."
"I would never think less of you, Seren," Dorian assured her, though she seemed to know that already. "I love you, and I just want to make you happy. Help me to do that."
"I am happy," she promised, rising onto her toes to brush a kiss to his lips. "I just need sleep." Now that was the Seren he knew; the cheerful woman who laughed at her own weaknesses even as she acknowledged them, coming back to herself after a battle with the inner beast who didn't understand why they were fighting at all.
"Then you should sleep," Dorian replied, smiling into her kiss. "How does the saying go? 'Sleep when the baby sleeps'?" he quoted. It was good advice, if you were able to follow it.
"Come to bed, then," she countered warmly, giving him a gentle tug toward their wide bed. It was a matter of moments to drop down into the nest of blankets and soft sheets, always a tangle no matter what they did. Wolves liked to make their dens comfortable, after all.
There was nothing to argue with there, both of them needing a little extra sleep. He climbed into bed next to her, both of them burrowing deep into the blankets, though it was the middle of summer. "I love you, Seren," he told her again, his voice quiet and full of affection as they settled into each other's arms.
"Always love you," she murmured in response, nestling close into his arms. Her lips brushed his neck as she found her accustomed place, tucked close beneath his chin. "Still smell so good to me, baby."
"So do you," he murmured back, letting his eyes drift shut as he held her close.
Maybe he wouldn't fall into a deep sleep, but even a short nap was better than nothing and would help them get through the rest of the day. There were still things he wanted to say, things he needed her to know, but all that could wait. Right now, what she needed was rest and to know she was loved, and he was more than happy to provide that. They had all the time in the world.
Asha Maris - DOB 7/31/20