"Perhaps Hatice. There is more to giving birth than simply delivering the baby, I understand."
"Yes, yes, I know that," Nasir agreed impatiently. Though he had spent time in the harem as a small boy, the ways of women and childbirth had always been something of a mystery. A mysterious miracle, he'd always thought. Now that he was older, he understood the biology of it, but that had not done much to ease his worries. "But what is taking so long?"
Ezra chuckled softly. Now that they could hear the babies' cries, he was not so worried, having faith that the women of the harem would have come for them if there was any suggestion that Safiya or Teres were in difficulties. "Put yourself in their place, my friend," he suggested. "Would you want Safiya to see you immediately after spending several hours of hard manual work?"
Nasir blinked. As king, it was not necessary for him to partake of hard manual work, but he understood what his friend meant. He was not the kind of king who sat on his laurels and was unafraid to get his hands dirty now and then. "No, I suppose not," he admitted. "I am sure you are right."
"And they are women," Ezra added. "They care more for how they present themselves, I am sure." In fact, he was certain of that. He had watched Teres prepare herself for the day plenty of times by now, and it was still just as fascinating every morning as it had been the first.
Thankfully, Ezra did not point out the fact that the act of childbirth was a bloody business and that the women wouldn't want them to become alarmed by witnessing that. "I am sure," Nasir murmured in response, though he wasn't sure his friend's reassurance made him feel any better. He would feel better only when he saw Safi and their child for himself and knew that they were well.
They were kept waiting for another tense half hour, listening to the babies growing quieter all the while, before a flushed and smiling Baba opened the door to the harem itself. The old keeper of the harem was positively beaming as she bowed to the king.
"They are ready for you, majesty, lordship," she declared, stepping aside to invite the two men in.
Ezra glanced at Nasir, holding back to let him go first. The king needed to know just a little more urgently than he did, after all.
"Thank you, Baba," Nasir said, a faint smile on his face as she invited them inside. "Come, Ezra," he said, as he stepped through the door into the harem, his friend right on his heels.
The womens' quarters were abuzz with joyful murmurs, heads bobbing up and down as curtsies were made in Nasir's wake. Sasha was waiting at the door to the birthing rooms, looking decidedly more frazzled than Baba, and certainly more tired, but smiling all the same.
"You have a son, majesty," she told Nasir after a perfunctory curtsy she could only get away with because she was Idris' wife. "And you have a daughter," she added to Ezra.
Nasir nodded his head to acknowledge the other women before arriving at the birthing rooms, where Sasha was waiting. Though he outwardly looked the epitome of calm, inwardly his stomach was tied in knots, his nerves frazzled. He would only relax when he saw Safi and knew she was well. The news of a son took him by surprise though, and he exhaled in relief, turning a smile on Ezra.
"A son, Ezra. Bless the Goddess," he said, giving his friend's shoulder another squeeze.
"Indeed." Ezra patted his hand, jerking his chin toward the rooms behind Sasha. "Go ahead. I am sure we will meet one another in a few hours to celebrate in private."
"Congratulations, my friend," Nasir told the other man, happy for him, but happy for himself, too. Still, some nervousness remained and would until he saw his wife and son for himself.
"And to you. Go, I have my own wife to see to." It said a good deal about both men that their first concern was for their wives, rather than to glory over their newborn children.
"Give Teres my regards," Nasir told his friend, before turning and giving Sasha a nod to indicate he was ready to see his wife.
With Hatice already there to show Ezra to where Teres was resting, Sasha lead the way for Nasir, showing him into the light, airy room that overlooked the private gardens of the infirmary wing. Safiya was sat up in bed, tired, a little disheveled, but awake and well, a small wrapped bundle lying on the wide bed beside her. She met Nasir's eyes the moment he came into the room.
"Look what we did."
Nasir halted near the door, pausing a moment to take it all in - the sight of his wife, awake and well, a small, wrapped bundle beside her that had to be their son.
"We?" he echoed with a chuckle. "I am afraid I had very little to do with it," he admitted. Oh, he'd done his share, but it was Safi who'd carried the infant for the last nine months and who'd given birth. He crossed the room to her and took both her hands in his, kissing the palm of each hand. "I must confess I was worried, sevgili," he admitted, a little ruefully.
She smiled, her fingers combing tenderly through his hair as he kissed her palms. "It has been a long day," she agreed. "But I am well, and we have a son." The sheer joy of having fulfilled her duty at the first try was palpable as she smiled at Nasir, hoping he was reassured by the sight of her.
"A son," Nasir echoed, clearly relieved. All was well - they could pray for a daughter next time. "May I see him?" he asked, almost afraid to look, though the boy must be well, or she would not look so happy.
"Of course." She laughed, gesturing to the baby boy swaddled in soft cloth beside her. "He is your son, Nasir. You may even hold him, if you wish it."
"I do wish it," Nasir said, though he was not too sure how to pick up an infant, much less hold one. He supposed he would learn, as would she. "How do I ..."
"Here." She demonstrated, lifting the tiny boy up from where he lay to settle him into his father's arms. "He was very noisy when he first arrived - I am surprised you did not come bursting in at that moment!"
"I considered it," Nasir confessed, as he awkwardly took the small bundle into his arms. "He was born first then?" he reasoned, assuming Ezra's daughter came after.