Soft evening light trickled through the trees above the shimmering pool. The pale white lilies bobbed lightly on the tiny ripples cascading across the water. It was peaceful here and she could rest her mind and body. Soft cyan waves fell down onto her pale blue shoulders as she thumbed through her book. She had found the perfect spot to lean back against the stone so her toes trailed in the water. The fingers of her left hand found the image of Elune that dangled from the delicate chain about her neck.
Lilybeth looked out over the water at the large tree standing alone on the opposite shore. For a brief moment, she mused to herself about how much of a symbol for Kalithil it really was. He had claimed it as his space years ago. A place to think, he had told her. But it was so representative of the man himself at the time. Tall, strong, solitary. Is he even aware of it, she wondered. A small smile appeared on her face. Or he had ever thought it would become theirs.
With a sigh, she wriggled herself into a workable position and managed to get herself to stand. She wrapped her arms around her belly and smiled. “You two are making it very hard to move at all.” She giggled and started towards the inn. Some tea sounded lovely right now. Very gently she whispered, “I wish I could see your faces, my little Silverthorns. Your father will have made you so beautiful. All of your kind are.” Stopping to take a breath at the top of the hill, she looked around. He had given her a safe and beautiful place to live. Never in her wildest imagination did she ever think she’d have the run of a fortress. Not that I am running anywhere these days, she thought, wryly.
She continued along the path, plucking a flower by the fountain as she passed. Bringing it to her face, the sweet, deep aroma filled her nose, igniting her senses. She giggled to herself and raised a glowing hand. The arcane power crackled on her fingertips as she launched it into the air, creating dozens of shimmering blossoms to gently drift down onto the water. The fountain sparkled as they landed and they dissolved into an opalescent mist that rose and dissipated.
The moment was broken as a surge of pain warned her off her feet. She sat down on the edge of the fountain, taking a breath. Gerald moved to her side, offering his arm without a word. They moved slowly to the inn and he settled her into a chair and called for some water. “I’ll go find the Master for you,” he said, and he moved out the door.
A few minutes later, her beloved walked in. Concern was evident on his face and she tried to greet it with a smile. She pushed herself forward and started to stand as an odd expression suddenly passed across her face. “Lily? What is it,” he asked her. She looked down at the floor, a puddle growing at her feet. Her expression morphed into one of curiosity and amusement.
“So that’s what that feels like,” she chuckled. His gaze followed hers and he reached out for her. Taking her arm, he walked her towards the door, slowly. “But…wait! The mess, I should tell someone,” she exclaimed as he moved her away.
“The staff will handle it. You need to go lay down and I will fetch Kajeda. Are you all right?” She nodded. “Come, we must prepare you. Time has caught us.”
“Everyone has been saying that for weeks. Other than being more uncomfortable, not much has happened.”
“Your waters have broken, Lorlillui. We will be meeting them very soon.”
They made their way slowly past the fountain and over toward the garden. As they reached the blossom covered trellis, she cried out, her knees failing her. His hands under her arm were the only things preventing her from hitting the ground. “Oh gods….Kal?” She looked up at him, her eyes a mix of confusion and fear. “I think…they are…wanting to meet us now.” He summoned his strength and lifted her up into his arms. Carrying her the rest of the way, he placed her very gently down onto the bed.
She tried to remember what Kajeda had told her and took long, steady breaths. She never heard Kalithil call for Kajeda, yet somehow, moments later, she was there. She felt Kalithil’s hands, tugging at her robe, lacing being undone. Kajeda’s slender fingers on her belly, curls of magic infusing her skin. She felt oddly detached, all while feeling too much at the same time. Wet linen was pulled up over her head, a soft blanket wrapped around her. Kalithil’s beard brushing against her as his kisses gently met her cheek. Someone was pulling her legs apart, hands pressing against her inner thighs, hair brushing against her knee.
“We have a little time yet. But someone is in a hurry,” Kajeda said, smiling at the younger woman. She turned to Kalithil, “I’m going to tell the others and check the pool. Unless I miss my guess, we will meet the twins this night.” She gently placed a hand on Lilybeth’s leg. “Rest, child. You will need all your strength for what’s coming.”
The girl’s body curled in on itself as the pain crushed at her abdomen again. Her beloved pulled her legs down, and turned her on her side. He pressed against her lower back with his thumbs, speaking in quiet, reassuring tones. What is he saying? He told me something just now. Her brain swirled as she tried to comprehend his words.
“Breathe, my love.” His voice finally in focus. She worked to obey, realizing she had in fact been holding her breath. “Remember to breathe,” he kept working at her back as it subsided. “There you go.”
A unexpected giggle came from the doorway. Alsabe’s violet eyes shone brightly, matching her happy smile. “It’s about time!” She walked in carrying a small basket of ribbons and brushes. “Let’s get that hair out of your way. Come on. Sit up if you can,” Alsabe coached. Lilybeth lurched upright with help. The silver haired girl Lily called sister began to brush out the cyan locks. Lily raised her hand, pale violet beginning to glow at her fingertips. Her sister slapped her hand down.
“Save your energy. Let me do it.” Alsa laughed at Lily’s sigh of resignation. “You have two babies to push out, Sis. Time to let us do all the little things. That’s why we’re all here.”
Another head of silver hair poked in the door. “Ready for me?” Tindomiel held up a basket full of food. She walked in and poured out a glass of something golden in color. She handed it over to Lily. “Drink,” she ordered. “All of it, but go slow.” She walked over and embraced Kalithil. “You ready?”
He nodded, smiling. “I have been ready for weeks. It will be nice for something beautiful and joyous to happen in the face of what we’ve seen of late.”
“I agree,” she said gently. “Let’s not bring that up now. Let her focus on this moment.” He tipped his head. “Why don’t you go get prepared? We’re here.”
“I’ll be back in a…,” he began, just as another wave hit Lilybeth, stronger this time. He grabbed her hands and let her push against him as he talked her through it. “That one was longer. They are very eager.” Nodding for Tindomiel to take over, he said, “I’ll only be a moment,” and blinked out the door in a flash of violet light.
The pool was warm, comforting in the moments she had between the pains. The moon had risen high in the sky, creating sparkles on the water. She tried to follow one for as long as possible before choosing another. Oh Elune, I’m on fire! She leaned back hard against Alsabe, crying out into the air.
“All right, Lily. The first one is right here. I’ve got a beautiful little face. But I need you to push hard with the next contraction. Can you do that?” Kajeda instructed. The girl nodded, straining against the pain.
It was beyond description. And then she felt her body clamp down. She screamed to the stars, pushing with everything she had. Suddenly the pain stopped. She looked down at the pale purple form being pulled up out of the water by Kalithil. As the tiny head left the water, cries began immediately. She released the breath she was holding, reaching out.
“Not yet, my love. Her brother is coming next. Rest a moment while you can,” he said, soothingly.
“Oh gods…I have to do that again?” she cried out, hot tears running down her cheeks. “I don’t think I can do this…I…” She closed her eyes and sank back into her sister, panting. Alsabe quietly stroked Lily’s hair, as Kalithil brought the baby as close as he was able.
“She’s beautiful, Lorlillui. Look at her.” His voice broke, almost in awe.
“Kalithil, cut the cord and you can bring her closer,” Kajeda prodded. He did as she suggested, sealing it off with a flash of violet power. Floating closer, he brought their faces together. Lily gently stroked the pale silver fuzz on the top of the baby’s head. She smiled for a moment before it was time for the next. “All right. Here we are. You can do this, Lily.” Kajeda did her best to sound encouraging, but she knew how exhausted the girl was.
Alsabe adjusted herself behind Lily again, ready to provide whatever support she could. She reached down into the water, cupping it with her hands and poured it over Lily’s shoulders. She watched Kalithil move back toward Lily’s feet, cradling the tiny girl in the crook of his arm. She rubbed Lily’s back, trying to help relax the tension that was building as she prepared to bring the other forth.
Lilybeth shifted herself for a moment, as the burning sensation returned. She burst into tears as she bore down once more. “It’s all right, Sweetie. You can do this.” Alsabe whispered in her ear. Taking heavy, gulping breaths, she gathered what little she had left. She pushed and cried as the boy slipped free. “You did it. Kalithil’s got him. The bad part is done.” Alsabe embraced her from behind as they watched Kalithil lift their son from the water.
The boy started wailing immediately. His arms and hands flailed frantically as Kalithil attempted to gather him up. In the process, he had to sweep the girl closer so he had use of his other hand. As he did, the boy latched on to his sister, their tiny bodies snuggling together. The boy was larger, and already quite strong. Kalithil had to fight him harder than expected to free the cord and cut it. He carefully placed their children on their mother’s chest. The snuggling babes stopped crying as a soft breeze caused the long branches above them to sway. Elune’s light shone down on them all, bathing them in pure white moonlight. Lily smiled wearily, taking in her little family.
After a short while the newborns wriggled until they found Lilybeth’s breasts and began to eat for the first time. “Oh, that’s so strange!” She exclaimed as their tiny mouths worked. Kalithil wordlessly moved Alsabe away and took the place behind Lily. He brought his arms around her, watching the beautiful scene. The women quietly worked to get Lily cleaned up and prepare clothes for them all.
Once the infants were fed and clean, they made their way to the shore. Forosuul quickly wrapped Lily in a blanket as the others swaddled the babies or dried off. Kalithil swept up his children and moved to Lilybeth’s side. The usually stoic man was smiling, proud and happy. She smiled weakly and started to step forward, trembling, she nearly collapsed. Forosuul moved in, catching her as Kalithil’s face dropped. Forosuul made a move to lift her up. “No. I will do it,” Kalithil warned him off.
“Aren’t your hands a little full already,” came Forosuul’s laughing reply. Kalithil placed the two bundles in Lilybeth’s arms and gathered the three of them into his own. With a smirk, he walked away. Tindomiel gently patted Forosuul on the shoulder. “I supposed I deserved that.”
The cottage was warm and cozy. Most everyone had gone outside to give the new family some time alone. Kajeda and Tindomiel had repaired the damage they were able to on Lily’s body, but she was tired in a way she had never experienced before. She settled down into the bed, sore, but happy. The babies had eaten again, and the parents each held one in their arms. Lily played with their son’s tiny fingers, while Kalithil watched his daughter’s eyes.
“They’re perfect, Kal.” She sighed happily, looking up at him with a weary smile. Little gurgles and grunts came from one in her arms as he seemed to fight against the soft cloth wrapped about him. “It’s all right, my little bull. You’ll get used to it,” she whispered gently to him.
“They absolutely are, Lorlillui. You did so well,” he placed his hand along her face, stroking her cheek with his thumb.
“Have you decided?”
“On their names. You said you needed to see them first.”
“Ah, yes, of course,” His voice trailed off as he stood and ambled around the small room. Lowering his head, he spoke softly to the tiny bundle in his arms, “You know, little one, when you emerged from your mother, I was watching you very carefully. I wanted to see if you would show yourself to me. As I held you up, one of the moon lilies in the pond drifted by, and you, not yet 5 minutes in the world, opened your eyes. You could not take your eyes off that luminescent bloom.” Returning to Lilybeth’s side, he placed the little girl in her arms and said simply, “Her name is Kalimè.”
Smiling wearily, she said, “Shining Lily, I like it.”
Nodding and returning her smile, he picked up his son, who had once again clasped his sister in his little arms. He cried as Kalithil pulled him away. “And you! So strong! And yet with all your strength, you panic when your older sister is not close by. I foresee that you will be her arm, and she will be your shield. When you embraced on your mother’s breast, Elune shone down on you and bathed you in her light.” He moved to window, and held the infant boy until his eyes caught a beam of moonlight, shining under Elune’s gaze. “Æltihil. Your name is Ælithil. In the old tongue, it means ‘together under the moon’, and from what I see, you ever shall be.” So saying, he laid the boy down on his mother chest once more, where tiny hands reached out and clasped together. The twins soon fell asleep in each others arms.