Author Topic: Twins  (Read 381 times)

Miles Bradan

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« on: November 01, 2020, 01:08:34 PM »
Summers in Carib were brutal, especially on those who were not native to the heat. This particular summer had been virtual hell for Elspeth, suffering through the last months of pregnancy during the height of the summer heat, but finally, as the weather cooled just enough for comfort, the suffering was over. Well, over for her, anyway. She had a feeling that Miles had not enjoyed being kept busy while she labored to bring their first child into the world.

Miles had been worried, as most first-time fathers are, not only about Elspeth, but about the baby, too. He knew how dangerous childbirth could be, but he also knew she was in good hands and that the women of Cluaine Mor would be doing everything in their power to deliver their child safely. He had been restlessly pacing the floor for hours, pausing neither for food or drink, with only Felipe and Harry for company.

"What is taking so long?" he murmured, mostly to himself. Six hours was not really that long for a first time mother to give birth, but each hour, each minute was torture to an anxiously expectant father.

Of course, Elspeth hadn't quite been able to stand up against the overwhelming force of personality that was Caoimhe, the highest ranking of the Horse Lords' ladies, resulting in a labor that had been rather more active than she had been expecting. Still, the sheer amount of laughter rising from the birthing chamber every now and then must have been reassuring for the expectant father.

Felipe rubbed a hand through his own blonde hair, watching Miles pace back and forth, one eye on the crawling explorer that was his own seven month old son. "It sounds like she's making good time to me," he commented. "Better than Jane did."

The laughter coming from the birthing chamber did more to set Miles' nerves on edge than to soothe him, though he supposed silence would be worse. "What is going on in there?" he asked aloud, as though he hadn't even heard what Felipe had said.

"If anything was amiss, we'd know by now," Harry pointed out, moving to the sideboard to pour them each a glass of some amber liquid, strong enough to calm the most jangled nerves.

"And Lady Caoimhe is certainly experienced," Felipe added, bending to catch Robert before the boy disappeared under one of the couches. "Seven children, did you say?"

"Seven, yes," Harry confirmed, with a small frown. He and Brynhilde had yet to be blessed with a child, and while those around them seemed to be having no problem doing so, it was the king and queen who needed to produce an heir.

"I would be happy with one," Miles murmured, exhaling a breath.

"I know the feeling," Harry murmured in return, as he handed a glass to each of his friends.

Hiking Robert onto his hip, Felipe took the glass gratefully. "It will happen, Harry," he promised his cousin. "You've both been working hard for more than a year now, but things have finally started to settle down. You'll have the heir you're longing for by this time next year, I'll stake my rank on it."

"What is it like, being a father?" Harry asked of his friend with a glance to boy at his hip.

Miles paused his pacing to hear Felipe's answer and to take a sniff of the liquid in his glass before taking a tentative sip. He didn't really want to get drunk, but a little something to calm his nerves couldn't hurt.

Felipe paused, looking at the baby boy he held, who was happily gumming on the brocade trim of his father's doublet. "Terrifying and wonderful all at once," he said finally. "And exhausting. I thoroughly recommend a wet nurse if you can talk her into it."

Miles grimaced a little at the idea of a wet nurse, though he wasn't sure why. Becoming a father seemed like a huge responsibility, and yet, it was Elspeth who had to bear the brunt of it. "If it helps ..." he said, non-committally.

"Women have been having children since the dawn of time, Miles," Harry reminded his brother-in-law. "They know what they're doing."

In some ways, it was a shame the castle of Cluaine Mor had been built so well to withstand the heat of the plains; it also muffled sound to such an extent that only the loudest of sounds from the chamber beyond crept out to them.

"They would have come for you if anything was amiss," Felipe said, reiterating what Harry had said.

Across the room, another door opened, and Bryn stepped in, her bright eyes turning toward the expectant father. "Any news?"

"Not yet," Harry was quick to reply, though she had looked to Miles for an answer. "Why don't you take a peek?" he suggested, if only to soothe Miles' ragged nerves.

"Would you?" Miles asked, looking expectantly to the queen for help. At least, she could take a peek without being chased away.

The pale-haired, pale-eyed queen of Carib bit down on the urge to smile at the nervous suggestion from both her husband and her brother-in-law, inclining her head instead.

"I can do that," she agreed, pausing just long enough to brush a kiss to Harry's cheek before moving to the birthing chamber door. She didn't bother knocking, simply pushing it open to step inside, and a thin wail that was just quieting down floated out to the waiting men's ears before the door closed behind her.

Miles blinked in surprise at the sound of that wail, which sounded to him like the cry of a newborn.  "Is that ...?" he asked, the rest of the question trailing off. 

"Well, either that or there's a cat in heat trapped in the birthing room," Harry interjected with a wink at Felipe.

"Sounds like a baby to me," Felipe agreed with a chuckle. "No one shouted at her when she opened the door - that's a good sign." Of course, there had also been the sound of Elspeth straining, but he didn't pretend to know anything about the birthing process. Women went into a room pregnant, and usually a day later, they were clean and tired with a baby.

"Then it's over," Miles reasoned, frowning further as no one had yet opened the door and invited him inside to meet his son or daughter. Did that mean something was wrong?

Miles Bradan

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Re: Twins
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2020, 01:08:54 PM »
"These things take time," Harry reassured the other man, though he had no personal experience to go by. He was just as concerned for his sister's well-being, but there was nothing they could do but wait.

"I'm told there are other things involved in birthing a child beyond simply birthing the child," Felipe offered with half a shrug. He smiled reassuringly at Miles. "It won't be long now before someone comes to fetch you, I imagine."

"You know more about it than I do," Miles admitted. After all, Felipe and Jane had already been through this once, as evidenced by the toddler whose head had sleepily dropped onto his father's shoulder.

"You do remember what a mess I was, yes?" Felipe asked, not at all abashed by this memory. "I seem to recall you had to keep queuing up sparring matches to keep me occupied."

"Yes, well, I am in no mood for sparring at the ..." Miles started, trailing off as the door opened again, but it was only to allow one of the maids to exit carrying a pile of bundled up linens. Thankfully, he did not spy any telltale blood, but the door was open just long enough for the men to hear what sounded like more wailing.

"What are they doing in there?" Miles asked, clearly agitated. He took a step toward the door, before Harry pulled him back with a shake of his head.

"You'd best wait here. Bryn will tell us what is happening before long," he assured him.

Harry's faith in his wife was not misplaced. Though it must have seemed like an age, it was only around twenty minutes later when the door opened yet again, and Bryn stepped out. She smiled brightly at Miles.

"You can go in," she told him, glancing over at Harry and Felipe. "Give them a minute or two before you both rush in to see the new arrival."

"Is everything all right?" Harry asked worriedly. Elspeth was his sister, after all, and though she was wed to Miles now, it was no secret how much he adored her.

Bryn chuckled softly. "Fine may well be a bit of an understatement," she told her husband affectionately. "We may need an oversized shoehorn to get Jane out of there."

"May I?" Miles asked, gesturing toward the door, though Bryn had just given him leave to see for himself.

"I think if you do not, Caoimhe may come out here and drag you in herself," Bryn told him, gesturing for him to make his way into the birthing chamber encouragingly.

From within, they heard the formidable Caoimhe add, "By your britches, if necessary!"

Miles blinked, looking startled. "Yes, ma'am!" he said, handing his half-empty glass off to Harry, as he was closest and Felipe already had his hands full.

"Go on," Harry encouraged, with a reassuring smile. "If it was bad news, you would know by now."

Indeed, Caoimhe was audible muttering, and whatever she said raised a familiar giggle from the redhead who had been laboring for the past hours. That was reassurance enough, surely?

Despite Bryn's remark about Jane, the young mother was the next to exit the chamber, her face aglow with happiness for her dearest friend. "Miles!" she called, taking hold of his arm to drag him toward the door. "What are you waiting for?"

Miles looked nervous, and yet, all of this was reassurance that Elspeth and their child was alive and well, and so, he followed Jane into the chamber, feeling nervous but excited.

The room did not look as though it had been in heavy use for the past six hours or more. The shutters and windows had been thrown open, the afternoon shade offering a freshness to the air as light poured in. Tall Lady Caoimhe stepped back from the bed as Miles was pulled into the room, one last gentle touch given to Elspeth's fiery hair before she stepped away and out of the room herself. Her departure showed him what he was looking for - Elspeth sat up in bed, weary and smiling, and beside her, not one, but two wriggling little bundles tucked close to her sides.

Jane took one look at her friend, a soft smile on her face, and then she, too, disappeared from the room, leaving Miles alone with his wife. He paused just short of the bed, looking puzzled at the sight of two bundles, rather than one.

"Surprise," Elspeth said softly, watching Miles with an expression torn between pleasure and concern. It wasn't as though she had been expecting this, either.

"What ..." he said, trailing off again, speechless. It didn't help that he hadn't really had much to eat in the last day or so, and the mead had already gone to his head. He blinked again, wondering if he was somehow seeing double.

"We have a daughter," she said, still speaking softly, as though addressing a skittish horse that might bolt at any moment. "And ... we have a son."

"Twins?" he asked, his brain slow to state the obvious. He took an almost hesitant step closer, as if he might somehow break the spell. "Are you-are you well?" he asked, moving to her side finally and looking for her hand, so that he could take it in his, if at all possible.

Her fingers crept into his as he reached for her, giving him a gentle tug to draw him down onto the bed with his children. "Twins," she confirmed. "Unexpected twins. It appears that our son was not as energetic as we thought - he was fighting for space with his sister."

"Twins," Miles murmured again, obviously astonished by this unexpected development. He chuckled at last, feeling as if a great weight just lifted from his shoulders, though he had yet to consider how much more work would be involved in caring for two infants at once. "I was so worried," he told her, giving her hand a soft squeeze as he sank down on the bed, careful of the newborns on either side of her.

"I was in good hands," she assured him, relieved to see him smile as he absorbed the truth of the day's events. "Caoimhe is blunt, but she knows what she is doing. It was easier than I thought it would be,"

"I am just glad you are well," Miles said, bringing her hand to his lips for a kiss. "Twins," he said, chuckling again as he looked from one to the other. "May I see?" he asked, as if he needed permission to take a closer look at the pair of them.

Miles Bradan

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Re: Twins
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2020, 01:12:22 PM »
Her hand turned to caress his cheek tenderly as she relaxed against the pillows. "Of course," she assured him. "They are your children, Miles." The babies were very small, but perfectly formed nevertheless, dozing in their swaddled blankets.

"So small," he said, in wonder at the miracle in front of him, as he gently pulled back a blanket to take a peek at one and then at the other. He had seen newborns before, but never ones so tiny as these.

"That is our daughter," Elspeth told him. "She was the surprise. I was already crying with happiness holding her brother when Caoimhe said there was someone else on the way."

"We heard one of them crying," Miles said, looking back at her. "I was not expecting twins," he admitted, but then, neither was she. It was a pleasant surprise though. "Are they well?" he asked, though he assumed that they were or he would have been told otherwise.

"They are both perfect," she said, her smile brightening further as they talked. "Very healthy. Very loud." She laughed softly, reaching out to lift the tiny boy from her furthest side and offer him to his father.

Miles smiled in relief at her reply, brows arching upwards as she handed him his son. Though he looked a little nervous, he'd had a little practice over the last year with Jane and Felipe's son and knew how to handle a newborn, at least in theory. He took the newborn a little awkwardly in his arms, careful he was supporting his head properly and that there was no chance of dropping him. "Well, hullo there, little man," he said, as he peered down at the tiny red baby in his arms.

The baby boy wriggled for a moment before settling into Miles' arms, smacking his lips for a moment. Elspeth's smile softened as she watched him. "What do you think we should call them?"

Even Miles' expression softened, charmed by the tiny boy in his arms. "I don't know," he admitted, frowning a little at her question. They hadn't really talked much about names, deciding they'd wait to see whether they had a boy or a girl.

"I'd like to give our daughter my mother's name, if I may," she ventured hesitantly. "It doesn't have to be her first given name, but ... I would like to honor her with that."

"I am agreeable to that," he admitted, though he didn't have the first clue what to name the children. He was more inclined to name them for their friends than for their parents though.

In fairness, Arabella had all but given her life in exchange for Elspeth's, and the love her mother had raised both Elspeth and Harry with had left an indelible mark on both of them. It was a good name to give to the next generation. "Perhaps we can call her Ara, or Bella, rather than make her carry the full name."

"Do you think we should ask your brother first?" he asked, wondering if Harry and Bryn were planning on using that name if and when they had a daughter of their own.

"Oh. Perhaps we should." She bit her lip; it hadn't occurred to her that perhaps Harry was hoping to name a princess after their mother. "Yes, we should," she nodded in agreement. "But what should we name our son?"

"What would you like to name him?" he asked, unsure himself. He was not really attached to any name in particular, and was not so egotistical as to insist his son be named after him. "What about Henry Felipe?" he asked. Or was that too presumptuous?

"We have a lot of Henrys in our family," she said thoughtfully. "My father, my brother. If we could give him a name that is his own at the forefront of that pairing, I would be content with that."

"Hmm," Miles murmured uncertainly. He might have suggested honoring his father or even his brother, but they weren't particularly close. He was closer to Henry and Felipe than he was to his own family.

"I like the name Alistair," she offered shyly, though they had not really discussed names at all. It wasn't as though they knew anyone called Alistair; she just liked it.

"Do you?" Miles asked, considering her suggestion. "Alistair Henry?" he asked, or should he add his own name to that of his son's? Is that what people expected of them?

"Alistair Henry Felipe," she agreed softly, looking at the little boy in his arms. "Unless you would like him to bear your name as well?"

Miles arched a brow before shaking his head. "That's too much for such a little boy," he said. Three names were bad enough; he didn't think they needed to add a fourth. "I don't think either Harry or Felipe will be offended if we don't name him after them."

"Perhaps you are right," she mused. "Alistair Miles, or Alistair Henry? You are his father; it should be your choice."

"I am not sure," Miles admitted with a frown as he regarded the newborn in his arms. Harry and Bryn did not yet have a child, and Felipe and Jane's son did not bear his father's name. He felt close to them both, as Felipe was his closest friend and Harry was Elspeth's brother.

"Perhaps a compromise, then," Elspeth suggested softly. "Arabella Jane, and Alistair Henry. It is not quite giving our first son Felipe's name, but we will have others."

"I think you should name him for your brother," Miles agreed. "We can name another son for Felipe." A smirk touched his lips as another thought came to mind. "Or we could name her Arabella Felipa," he said, mostly in jest.

She giggled softly. "There is already one little Philippa in this family," she pointed out. "It is a big name to live up to."

Beside her, the newly named Arabella whined a little, drawing her mother's attention until she was cuddled close in Elspeth's arms once again.

"If we all keep having children, we are going to run out of names," Miles remarked in jest, though Harry and Bryn was lagging behind them a little. "Alistair Henry it is then. What do you think of your name, little man?" he asked, turning his attention back to the bundle in his arms.

The tiny boy had silently woken, staring up at his father with unfocused intensity in his blue eyes. Elspeth smiled faintly, enjoying the sight of father and son meeting one another properly. Perhaps now was a good time to broach a subject she had considered recently. "Miles ... would you mind terribly if we found a wet nurse?"

Miles Bradan

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Re: Twins
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2020, 01:12:38 PM »
Miles was so enamored of the connection he was making with his newly-born son that he missed her question. "Wet nurse?" he echoed, arching his brows at Elspeth. It was then he remembered what Felipe had told him. "Felipe suggested it actually."

"It is not that I do not love them," she rushed to assure him. "But ... I do not think I can feed two at once. I think, perhaps, it would be better to have someone who can, and to be more active in the rest of their care myself."

"Els, you do not need to explain. I think a wet nurse is a good idea. I do not want you getting exhausted trying to take care of two newborns on your own," he said. "I will try to help as much as I can," he added quickly, but he was not born with the equipment necessary to help with feedings.

"Truly?" She was relieved that he wasn't going to argue with her. "I know I was very vehement about feeding our child myself, the way my mother fed me, but ... she never had two at once."

"Truly, Elspeth," he assured her with a warm smile. "There is no reason why you should not have help." He hadn't thought about it much until Felipe had mentioned it, but now that they had two newborns to care for, it seemed like the best thing to do.

"Thank you." Shyly, she ducked her head, smiling with relief and pleasure. In her arms, Arabella smacked her lips, opening her eyes as her fingers flailed. "Oh ... did I wake you, sweetheart?"

"Have you greeted her properly yet?" Miles asked of their daughter. It hadn't been long since they'd been born, and though she had been carrying them inside her all these months, this was a surprise for Elspeth as much as for Miles.

"This is the first time I have held her," she admitted, glancing up at him. "She is so small. They both are." Which was a good thing, in a way - any larger, and today would not have been a good day for the mama.

"They will grow," he said, stating the obvious. Little Alistair made a small sound as he yawned, still in his father's arms, and Miles smiled. "Are we wearing you out, little man?"

"He's had a busy day," Elspeth said in amusement. She glanced toward the door. "My brother is still lurking out there, isn't he?" she asked with a faint grin.

"You've had a busy day," Miles corrected, leaning close to caress her cheek and touch a kiss to her lips, the newborn still cradled in the crook of his arm. "He was. He and Felipe both." At least, they were a short while ago.

She smiled into his kiss, relaxing all over again at the tender affection he showed her. "They will not leave until they see the babies," she predicted with a soft giggle.

"You need your rest," he said, a concerned frown on his face. She had just spent the better part of a day giving birth, and though she might not admit it, he knew she must be tired. He was tired, too, but he knew she was right. He sighed. "Very well. But they are not to stay long," he warned. King or no king.

"They will not," she agreed, looking up to nod to her ladies maid, seated quietly beside the door. The woman curtsied to her and moved to open the door, stepping through to welcome the king and queen, and their companions, to enter the chamber.

At that moment, Miles was grateful that they weren't alone, so that he didn't have to get up and fetch Harry and Felipe. "Do you mind if I stay with you tonight?" he asked, unsure how she'd feel about him sharing her bed after her ordeal. He was not expecting anything to happen between them; he just wanted to be close by.

"Oh, I should very much like you to," was her rushed response. "I know you are not supposed to, but I am always calmer when you are near me, and I will try not to soil you too much if I can help it."

"I am not worried about that," Miles replied with a frown. He didn't want to think too much about her statement or about the whole birth process in general, but he didn't want to leave her - even if it meant being woken by the sound of newborns demanding to be fed.

The door opened quietly to admit the hangers on - Harry being pushed in ahead of everyone else, since he was the one who had been worrying most of the four of them. Behind him, Bryn was grinning at something Jane had said, watching her husband to see how he was going to react to being an uncle.

"Ah, it seems we have visitors," Miles said, upon hearing the door creak open, no matter how quiet the foursome was trying to be.

Harry was first through the door, his gaze sliding from Miles to his sister, more concerned for her well-being than anything else. "We won't stay long," he promised, stepping inside to make room for the others.

Elspeth smiled at her brother, unwrapping one hand from Arabella to reach out toward him. "Come and meet your nephew and niece," she told her brother.

Harry looked relieved to see his sister sitting up in bed and smiling, proof that she had survived the birth. "Shall we, love?" he said, reaching for Bryn's hand to tug her along with him to meet the newest members of the family.

"I think we shall," Bryn answered, taking his hand to let herself be tugged into the room.

Behind them, Felipe was the last to enter, Robert still dozing on his shoulder as he beamed over at the new parents. "Smuggling twins into the royal house, I'm very impressed," he teased.

Multiple births did seem to run in the family, as evidenced by the triplets that had been born to Stephan and Marianne a few years ago, but Elspeth's twins had come as a complete surprise.

"Twins," Harry murmured, looking from one to the other and privately wondering if the same fate awaited them when they were at last blessed with children.

"How did we miss that?" Felipe asked, one arm looped about Jane's waist as they stood at the end of the bed. "It's not like none of us have been around a woman carrying more than one before."

Miles Bradan

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Re: Twins
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2020, 01:12:56 PM »
"They're small, and Elspeth did not get very big," Jane pointed out. It was the only proof she could offer, as she was no expert on birthing child, though she had one of her own. She took a light lean against Felipe, just enough to feel his presence behind her.

"Would you like to hold her?" Elspeth asked her brother, offering him the opportunity to embrace the youngest member of their bloodline.

Harry looked just a little terrified in that moment, but only for a split second before nodding his head. "May I?" he asked, as if needing further permission.

"Of course," Miles replied. "You are their uncle." Not to mention, their king.

Gently shifting the baby girl into Harry's arms, Elspeth rested back against the pillows with a fond, nervous smile. "Her name is Arabella," she said tentatively. "Arabella Jane. If that is permissible."

Harry had had at least a little practice with newborns and carefully cradled the baby girl in the crook of his arm, making sure he had a secure hold on her before showing her to Bryn.

Meanwhile, Jane's face lit up to hear Elspeth had given her daughter Jane's name. "Of course it is permissible. I am honored," she said, her gaze softening on her friend who she thought of as a sister.

"Arabella," Harry echoed in wonder as he gazed down at the newborn in his arms. "For Mother." 

"And this one is Alistair Henry," Miles added, regarding his newborn son.

"But we can find another name if you would like to keep Mother's for your own children," Elspeth assured her brother, not wanting him to think she was so wholly insistent on having her own way.

"What did I tell you?" Felipe murmured to his wife. "The pair of you are practically twins yourselves."

"No, no," Harry was quick to reply. "I do not mind, and I think Mother would be pleased." He looked back at the bundle in his arms, so tiny and precious. "She is lovely, Els," he told her, clearly enchanted by his new niece.

Meanwhile, Jane smiled up at her husband and rewarded him with a kiss. "We should let them be," she whispered up at him. "We all need some rest."

"We can do that," Felipe agreed, kissing Jane's brow. "Say your goodnights, sweetheart. I think I need to put you and your son to bed."

"Yes, dear," she told him, her smile widening. He might be planning on putting her to bed, but that didn't mean she was planning on going right to sleep. She slipped closer to the bed so that she could lean down and brush a kiss against Elspeth's cheek. "Good night, Els. Try and get some rest, and I'll be back to check on your in the morning."

Elspeth beamed at her friend, kissing her cheek in return. "Thank you for everything today, Jane," she murmured. "I couldn't have done it without you here with me."

"Nonsense," Jane told her. "You are the one who gave birth. We were only here to help." She straightened, turning her gaze momentarily to Miles. "I will ask about wet nurses for you," she assured him, placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder before stepping back to rejoin Miles. "Majesties," she said, offering a small curtsy to both Harry and Bryn, though it was hardly necessary.

Bryn chuckled at the curtsy. She had never been particularly big on formality, even in formal events, and was convinced Jane only curtsied to tease her anyway.

"Good night," she said, knowing she did not have to tell them to call her if they needed her, as it went without saying. She was only just down the hall anyway. The first night might be difficult, but they had plenty of help.

"Don't forget to sleep," Felipe added, moving to escort his wife out of the room with a fond smile for the new parents.

Elspeth smiled once again, leaning back against the pillows comfortably. "I am sorry I worried everyone so much," she said quietly. "It was not my intention to take so long."

Jane might have pointed out how six hours was not really all that long for a first birth, especially for twins, but she had already slipped out the door with Felipe to get some much needed rest.

"I think Miles was more worried than anyone else," Harry said, though he'd been worried, too. "Would you like to hold her?" he asked, offering the tiny bundle to Bryn.

"May I?" The pale-haired queen was not the most maternal of people, on the surface, but she was still susceptible to a little bundle of cuteness offered to her.

Elspeth exchanged a look with Miles, charmed by the shyness but aching just a little that her brother had not yet been blessed himself.

"With your permission," he said, looking to Elspeth for just that before carefully handing his newborn niece to his wife. That done, he looked back to Elspeth and Miles, his curiosity piqued by the other small bundle in Miles' arms.

"May I?" he asked, just wanting a peek really as the little boy looked perfectly content in his father's arms.

"Yes, of course," Miles was quick to reply, offering the firstborn of the twins to his brother-in-law and king.

Bryn took the tiny girl into her arms, settling herself down on the bed beside the new parents and her own husband as she gently stroked Arabella's nose affectionately. "It seems like such a lot of trouble to go through for such a little thing."

"It is nothing short of a miracle," Harry said, as he took a closer look at the newborn boy he was now cradling in his arms. He felt a strange swell of pride, as well as affection, not only for the children, who were his flesh and blood, but for his sister who had birthed them. "I could not be more proud to call them family," he murmured quietly.

"They will be very proud of their uncle," Elspeth predicted fondly, her fingers curling into Miles' grasp as she watched her brother and sister-in-law melt over the new babies.

Miles Bradan

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Re: Twins
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2020, 01:13:13 PM »
"Perhaps," Harry murmured, the hint of a worried frown on his face. He was slowly growing more confident in his abilities as Carib's king, but it was Bryn who was the true monarch. "Hopefully, we will give them a cousin before long," he said, daring to put voice to the one worry at the heart of the matter - that he and Bryn give Carib an heir.

"We will," Bryn said, though her voice was not as firm on the subject as it usually was. She let her confident facade drop around their family, after all. She just couldn't help worrying that she was the reason they had not yet had a child.

"I remember something my mother once told me," Miles interjected, content to let the king and queen get better acquainted with the newborns for the moment. "She said that the more you want something, the harder it is to attain. I think what she meant was that things will be as they will be, and worrying will not make something so."

"It is hard not to worry," Bryn admitted, though on the surface she seemed to be speaking directly to little Arabella. "For so many people, the only use for a queen is to provide an heir. The longer it is before I perform that duty, the more they will say that women are not fit to rule alongside men."

"But you are not that kind of queen, Bryn," Harry was quick to point out, in a quiet voice that was meant mostly for her.

"Yes," Miles said, in reply to Bryn's statement. "But perhaps you are merely trying too hard," he said, trying to make sense of his mother's words.

"Not that I can blame you," Elspeth added, with an impish touch to her smile. "Trying is the best part."

Bryn snorted with laughter, surprised to hear her timid sister-in-law come out with something like that.

"Do not remind me," Miles murmured, knowing it would be a while before he and Elspeth could "try" again.

Harry chuckled. "At least, you have two children to show for your efforts."

"You will, too," Elspeth promised her brother affectionately. "Perhaps the two of you should take a little time off. Your council can keep the country running for a week or so without trouble."

Harry arched a brow. "Take time off to ensure an heir?" he asked uncertainly. They had never really been able to take any time for themselves since they day they'd been wed.

"No." Elspeth shook her head. "You've never had any time to just be married to each other," she pointed out. "Every other monarch in the world has taken a few days here and there, a week or a month, to just be themselves away from court. The two of you have never done that."

Harry exchanged a glance with Bryn, brows furrowed, before looking back at his sister. "But where would we go?" he asked, looking puzzled.

"You have a private house you've never visited," Elspeth pointed out. "Seems like that would be a good place to go." She could see Bryn thinking it over, the spark of interest in the pale eyes starting to take root.

Harry looked again to Bryn, as if looking for her opinion on the matter. "What do you think?" he asked, finding the idea a tempting one. The pressures of the monarchy were not always easy to bear, and going away for even a few days might help them relax.

There was a moment of silence as Bryn gathered her thoughts before answering him. "I ... do not think she is wrong," she said quietly. "Every day we have had together has been spent working, one way or another."

Harry frowned, realizing she was right. Though they had been trying to conceive, he could not deny that by the end of the day, they were simply too exhausted to give it much effort. "Very well, then. I do not think Carib will fall apart if we go away for a few days." Or a few weeks, for that matter.

"We have given every day for two years," Bryn agreed thoughtfully. "They can give us two weeks, surely."

Elspeth beamed for a moment, quick to school her expression before they saw how pleased she was with their decision.

"It will take a few days to get there," Harry mused aloud. "And a few days to make preparations, but we could be there in a week or so," he calculated.

"Do you want to leave so soon after the birth?" Bryn asked him, more curious than concerned. She knew the council would keep the country in good hands, and that Elspeth and Miles would also be looked after.

Harry frowned uncertainly again. It seemed Elspeth was telling him to go and Bryn was telling him to stay, or at least, questioning the timing of a trip. "We do not need to go yet," he admitted, glancing at the baby boy in his arms, as if he might find an answer there. "We should be here for the blessing," he said. "In the meantime, we can prepare for the trip."

"I do not mean to say we should stay forever," Bryn said gently. "But if you would like to stay a little longer here, to enjoy being an uncle for the first time, I would not object."

"I would like that," Harry said, offering a soft smile for Bryn. "If you do not mind," he added, though it seemed she had already agreed.

"Then we will stay a while, and we will start the process of handing some of the responsibility to the council," she said. "Elspeth is right - we work too hard. I cannot remember the last time I sparred simply for fun, and not because I had to."

Harry couldn't help but chuckle a little at that statement, which was distinctly Bryn. "How like you to think sparring is fun," he said, an amused expression on his face.

"You don't like it when I'm out of breath and sweating?" she asked with all the innocence of a whore in a temple.

Elspeth choked on her laughter, turning her face away to try not to cackle out loud.

"I do not like to finish with cuts and bruises," he clarified, hinting at the fact that the queen was the more skilled of the two of them at such things.

Miles Bradan

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Re: Twins
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2020, 01:13:31 PM »
"You will have plenty of time to spar when you are away," Miles suggested.

"There are many ways to spar, it is true," Bryn agreed, flickering a teasing glance at Harry from beneath her lashes. She looked up at Elspeth and Miles, her smile softening. "You need your rest, both of you."

Harry smirked at his wife's innuendo, but made no comment. Instead, he turned to Elspeth and Miles, a fond smile on his face. "Congratulations," he told them both with sincere warmth. "I am very happy for you both."

"Would you like them back, or should we run away with them?" Bryn added cheekily, though she was already rising to hand the baby girl into Miles' arms.

"There may come a time when you are welcome to borrow them for a little while," Miles said. But that time was not now. Now it was time for them to rest before the small ones started to make their demands known.

Easing little Arabella into her father's arms, Bryn stepped back with a smile. "I look forward to it," she said confidently. "I intend to make sure your little girl knows as much about weaponry as your little boy."

"But we do not have to worry about that today," Harry was quick to point out, moving likewise to place little Alistair in his mother's arms. "You should get some rest," he admonished his sister gently. "Babies do not care if their mother is tired."

"I will," Elspeth promised him, cuddling Alistair close. "Harry ... would she be proud of me?" The question seemed to come from nowhere, but Harry knew his sister inside and out. The thought of disappointing their mother, even years after her death, was horrifying to her.

Harry looked momentarily surprised by the question, but was quick to reply. "She would be very proud, sweetling," he assured her, leaning close to brush a kiss to her cheek. "Now, get some rest. You deserve it."

His answer seemed to quiet some tension she hadn't yet mentioned, weariness finally allowed to make itself known in her smile as she let out a low sigh. "Thank you."

Harry did not go so far as saying he loved her, but it was implied in his words and in the tender way he kissed her cheek. She had Miles to take care of her now, but he would always be her brother. "We will see you tomorrow," Harry said, reaching for Bryn's hand before stepping toward the door.

"Try not to break the bed," Elspeth called after them, hiding her smile in a kiss to Alistair's brow as Bryn threw a laughingly dirty look over her shoulder at the new parents.

Thankfully, Harry was already out the door when his sister said that, but his chuckle could be hear echoing down the hallway as he and Bryn made their way to their own chambers. "Do you think they are jealous?" Miles asked, once they were once again alone.

"Envious, I think," Elspeth said softly. "Harry wants so much to be a father. It cannot be easy for him to see his friends and family bearing children while he and Bryn remain without."

"Maybe going away for a few weeks will help," Miles said. At least, he hoped so. If Harry and Bryn did not or could not have children, one of the two children born to Miles and Elspeth would likely become heir to the throne of Carib.

"Ever since they met, their lives have revolved around other people even as they were bound together," Elspeth murmured. "I think it would be good for them to spend even a few days just living for themselves. It may not be an immediate cure for what ails them, but it cannot hurt, surely?"

Miles frowned as he considered her words. "It must be a heavy responsibility wearing the crown," he said thoughtfully. It was a responsibility he was glad he didn't have to bear and one he didn't really want for their children.

"It's a responsibility Bryn was born for," Elspeth said softly. "I think Harry feels the weight more than she does, but they are so good for each other."

"How does he manage it?" Miles asked, knowing how Harry and Elspeth had not been raised to be royals. Then again, neither had he.

"I think he works too hard at it, personally," she said in a thoughtful tone. "He seems to think he must learn everything, do everything, to be a good king, even after seeing how our uncle does it in Pomerania."

"Hmm," Miles murmured, making no reply to that really. What did he know about how to run a country, when he was still learning how to run a duchy. "How are you feeling, love? Are you tired?" he asked, changing the subject.

She let out a defeated laugh. "I could fall asleep in the next moment," she admitted. "It has been a very long day, for all of us."

"You should get some rest then," he said, wondering just what they were supposed to do with the little ones. There was only one cradle, as they'd only been expecting one child. "Um, where are we putting them?"

She raised her head, blinking owlishly. "Will they not both fit in the cradle together?" she asked. "I did not think they were so big they would not."

"I suppose they will," he said, after a moment's consideration. "Shall we try?" he added, moving to his feet with one half of the twins in his arms.

"It is that, or they sleep in the bed with us tonight," his wife said with a sleepy smile. That was definitely not the optimal choice in her view.

"I think they would be safer in the cradle," he replied, afraid one of them might roll over onto the babies in their sleep, especially as tired as they both were. "Say goodnight to your mama, sweetheart," he whispered to their daughter, as he held her tenderly in his arms.

Arabella barely responded, already half-asleep in the warmth of his embrace as he carried her over to the cradle. She would be awake again in a matter of hours, no doubt, but for now, she was calm and quiet and the perfect baby girl.

Miles Bradan

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Re: Twins
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2020, 01:13:47 PM »
He touched a tender kiss to her forehead, reluctant to let her go as he hadn't had much time to hold her yet, but he had a feeling that would change in the days and weeks to come. "Good-night, sweetheart," he whispered again before very carefully laying her down in the cradle, pausing a moment to make sure she didn't stir.

The tiny girl did stir a little, wriggling as she settled on the cool padding before settling down once again. On the bed, Elspeth was murmuring a good night to little Alistair, fully aware that she would not be allowed to stand up and take him to the cradle herself tonight.

Once he was confident the female half of the pair was settled, he moved over to collect the male half. "Time for bed, little man," he said, as he carefully took his son from Elspeth's arms into his and moved him over to the crib, as well.

Alistair was more of a wriggler, it seemed, grumbling to himself as he was handed from mother to father. Elspeth giggled softly. "He is going to be a handful."

"He must get that from his mother," Miles remarked with a smirk as he lowered the baby boy into the cradle beside his sister. It seemed logical they might prefer being close, considering they were that way in their mother's womb.

His theory was certainly born out by the way Alistair barely squirmed as he was set down, one flailing hand brushing Arabella's as he let out a deep sigh. "I don't think I am so much of a handful, am I?"

He once again waited until both twins were settled, tucking a blanket about them both before making his way back to the bed. "Not so much," he assured her, still grinning. He paused a moment to take a peek into the other room, as if to make sure her maid wasn't watching before shrugging out of his doublet and tugging off his boots.

Her answering smile was fond, if sleepy, the last of her energy turned to adjusting the pillows so they could both lie together in comfort. "I am glad to know it," she said. "I should hate to become a burden on you, darling."

He didn't get entirely undressed, knowing her maid was right in the other room and that they'd likely be woken every few hours during the night. He slipped beneath the blankets, turning to face her, a soft smile on his face. "You could never be a burden, Els," he assured her, lowering his voice to that of a whisper.

She rolled onto her side to look at him, her fingers tenderly stroking against his cheek. "You are the greatest gift in my life," she murmured. "Thank you, for loving me."

"You are easy to love, Els," he told her, brushing a warm, gentle kiss to her lips. "Are you happy?" he asked, though that much seemed obvious enough.

Smiling into his kiss, she sighed contentedly. "I am very happy," she promised him. "Happier than I ever thought I could be. I hope you are happy, too."

"Very happy," he assured her, mirroring her smile. Why shouldn't he be happy? He'd been given a title, along with a duchy to run, he'd fallen in love with and married a princess, and now she had given him two beautiful children. Not bad for a man who as the second son of a baron had not been expected to achieve much in life.

And this was only the beginning. With the Goddess' blessing, they would have many more years together to build their family and their duchy, and make them both strong and true. But for tonight, it was just about them and their children. Tomorrow was another day, after all.