Old July 2, 2018, 03:54 PM   #16 (permalink)
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It was with a sense of determination then, that Calanon reached for Niven’s feet and brought them into his lap, his fingers pressing and kneading away some of the strain and tension that he could feel. Whilst at first his touch was hesitant and he glanced up frequently to gauge the reaction of the owner of said feet, he soon began to see the wisdom in the midwife’s plan, albeit grudgingly.

He was glad to have something to do, and the activity of rubbing small circles on Niven’s feet was oddly soothing, and stopped any of the more nervous fidgeting he knew he had a tendency to fall into when he was worried. And the elfess? Well surely she had borne enough over the past months to be entitled to a little nurturing herself?

Tenderness even.

The elf frowned a little at the thought, stole a glance toward Niven. It was true that they had found some semblance of ‘normal’ amongst the unorthodox situation they had ended up in, had broken down the distance that had been the alien factor in their unique circumstances, but Calanon had been cautious in their friendship. How could he not, when the lives she carried were such an obvious reminder to everyone of the night they had shared? The future they now shared. He had tried to walk a fine line of building trust with Niven whilst wanting to shield his love from the sometimes unpalatable reality of this whole thing, and he wondered now if it had been too much, if he should have offered Niven this, before. There was not much else he could do after all, to ease the burden her body carried in this.

He did not hesitate then when she seemed to tense with another contraction
to gently shift her feet back to the couch and move so she could crush his hands in a death grip again. He even tried not to grimace, but instead reminded her gently to try and breathe, half hoping for expecting Alliane to reappear and hustle him out of the way.

She did not though, and Calanon did his best to try and soothe Niven until a little while later, he caught the voice of his beloved joining with the quiet murmurs from the kitchen and his head swivelled toward the door just as she walked through. When had she gotten here? His expression asked the question for him, part relief, part startled deer, part plea for rescue.

“Kailin” He’d half risen to go relieve the woman of the buckets she carried, not quite with it enough to consider she may well have used her magic to make her far more efficient than he. But Kailin’s focus on Niven reminded Cal that he’d been otherwise engaged, and somewhat guiltily, he too turned his focus back to the blonde. She looked weary, and he found himself hoping that she might get some rest, for the fact of it was, no one else could do what she was about to have to do.

Nor did he want to think about it in great detail.

Instead, he flashed a quick smile at Niven, and then very firmly took one of the buckets from Kailin, shooting her a look that would brook no argument. A moment away from that strange intimacy with Niven would be welcome.
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Old July 7, 2018, 06:34 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The feeling of Calanon’s hands kneading her feet was soothing. While she had nodded to his question, she too had felt some trepidation. Memories of the electricity that they both had felt in the forest were still relatively fresh and though they had touched in passing a few times, the druidess secretly held anxiety every time he had done so. And while there had been some anxiety before his first touch now, she had reached a place where she was just too distracted by the situation to care too much. Slowly she began to relax and enjoy the small circles and gentle pressure.

In the time between contractions, there was silence as Niven tried to take Allaine’s advice and sleep. She leaned back into the cushions and closed her eyes, trying to go to a place where she wasn’t alarmed and afraid of what was to come. Alliane hadn’t seemed worried, so Niven tried to channel the elder woman’s calm.

She had come to be able to have something of a sixth sense when it came to her contractions, able to sense them before they came. It seemed that Calanon had too for every time she opened one eye, he was already starting to move her feet towards the couch and reach for her hands. Perhaps he could feel them as her body started to tense? Niven wasn’t certain, but she did appreciate his strength in those moments.

It was at the last contraction's abation that Kailin’s voice broke through. Niven was surprised, unsure when her friend had arrived, her expression betraying as much. But Kailin’s presence was not unwelcome. Had her hands not been full with buckets of hot water, Niven might have reached for her. The relief in the room was almost palpable between Calanon and Niven.

“A bath sounds lovely,” she said, thinking of the warm water surrounding her and soothing her. A bit of calming lavender oil added to the water and it would be perfect.

The elfess’ hands were dropped to her lap as Calanon released them to rush to Kailin. “Nice,” she thought, a small frown upon her lips for a moment. She met his eyes as he looked at her, but said nothing. He seemed to be in his own thoughts. There was a quick smile, though, and then he went to Kailin’s aid.

Niven didn’t have much time to think about it further as Alliane came in with water.

“Thank you,” she replied with a grateful look as she reached out and took the cool drink from the woman.

Niven thought of what she might need, but her thoughts were muddled by fatigue. Between the walk earlier and the contractions, she felt exhausted. But every time a contraction hit, she was brought out from the brink of sleep. There was a sincere hope that she might be able to get a nap of some kind in. She expected to need it.
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Old July 17, 2018, 02:32 AM   #18 (permalink)
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The tenderness in Kailin's expression deepened and was joined by a glimmer of amusement that she could not keep from her eyes as the elven pair both turned to her with relief standing stark in their expressions. The quiet focus that had come to pervade the room made it impossible to laugh at them, but as Calanon rose to his feet while still gripping Niven's still-tense hands in his own (contraction having just abated), and very obviously only belatedly realized what he'd done and dropped them, she did flash her friend a quick grin, eyes rolling skyward as if to say, 'male folk, eh?'

"Good. We're hoping it helps to ease the contractions... and it shouldn't take me more than a few more minutes to get it ready." She lifted the two large buckets as if they weighed nothing, then watched as Calanon turned back to Niven with a smile before stepping toward her and reaching for one of them. About to pull it back, for she needed no assistance, she glanced at his expression and her arm stilled, holding it in place for him to take the heavy thing, one brow shooting upward in lieu of what he could guess would otherwise have been a snort of mirth.

"With help, it'll take even less time." She quipped to Niven, turning to head up the stairs just as Alliane approached with the water.

Above, as the hot water sluiced out of the buckets into the bath, Kailin met her love's eyes and her smile gentled into something bordering on concern. "It will be a while yet. They explained that, already? How are you, melamin? It looked... peaceful, when I came in." There was something in her expression, or maybe her tone, that came close to pride as she said it, and if her heart ached a little at the tableau of him holding that space for Niven, and for what could have been with their own child, Kailin was absolutely determined to let none of it show. Not this brightening.

Back below, the midwife passed across the cool liquid before perching next to her charge, taking Niven's free wrist in both hands and laying one set of fingertips over the pulse point gently. It was something she had done at each visit, eyes going distant as she seemed to listen to whatever the surge of blood was telling her, before finishing the task with a small smile and a pat of Niven's hand, which she then placed back in the elf's lap.

"Good... feeling strong and healthy, Niven," and as Kailin and Calanon made their trips to fill the bath behind them, the half-elf once again began to rub slow, strong circles to soothe her low back and sacrum, talking her through her next contraction as it hit, then going back to those slow circles as the footsteps sounded up and down the stairs.

Finally, Kailin went to put the buckets back outside the kitchen door before walking around the couch to stand before her friend, hands held out to help her up. "It's ready. Let's get you up and and Alliane can get you settled, maybe even before your next contraction hits. We should have a fair few minutes yet."

Alliane would stand when Niven did, helping to support her bulk from behind as Niven made it back to her feet for the first time in a bit over a candlemark. Then they paused to be sure she was okay before they walked her to the stairs. Tehna appeared then, a couple vials of oil in hand and a smile on her face, and she stepped in behind Niven, Alliane staying by her side as they walked her up to the bathing room. Kailin and Calanon were left on the main floor alone, watching the trio disappear above, and her friends' voice followed her, "I'll be here if you need me, Niven. Try to get some rest, dear, and we'll see you when you wake."

Then she gave a quick, startled laugh, and called up again, "oh! Is there anything you're craving? Anything you want for afterwards?"

Then, neither woman thinking anything of modesty at this point, the midwives got Niven into the bathroom and assisted her out of her clothing and into the bath, both far more concerned about what a fall could mean for the Sylrosian than whether she might be shy of their presences. The whole time, Alliane kept up a soothing string of encouragements, not rushing her... making sure she was able to relieve her bladder if necessary, and holding her hands as she finally climbed in and sunk into the warm water.

And none to soon, too, as the next contraction hit only a minute or so after she climbed into the sweet relief of the weightless environment. Given Niven's smaller stature and Kailin's enduring love of baths, it was a blessing of no small proportions that her friend had spared no expense on her bathing facility, for the elf could fit easily in the tub, sinking all the way to her neck and taking much of the pressure off of her already fatigued form.

Abdomen growing taught with the next contraction, there was little question that the encasing water eased the sensation somewhat. Alliane encouraged Niven to grip the edge of the bath and talked her through her breathing again, arm submerged and rubbing slow circles again as Tehna dropped a few drops of two separate oils into the water. As the scents diffused into the air around her, Niven could pick out the calming scent of lavender floating above a more woody, clean, resin-scented oil that reminded her all of a sudden of the forest.

The two women stayed with her, waiting until it became obvious that her contractions were growing milder and farther apart, but not by any means stopping entirely. Finally, Alliane seemed satisfied and recommended that she try to get some sleep while the effects lasted. Then came the process of getting her out of the bath, dried off, and down the stairs to her bed, where Niven finally found the surcease she craved, both physically and mentally. It would be a good few hours before she woke, brought up to consciousness with a surge of pain that could not be ignored.

It seemed that the contractions were growing more intense.
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Old July 20, 2018, 08:38 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Ok, so the bucket was fething heavy, and Calanon narrowly missed sloshing a good portion of it over his feet as he hurriedly readjusted his grip, not daring to look at Kailin as he did so. Nevertheless, it gave him the excuse he needed to break away from the quiet intensity that had been the atmosphere downstairs, and he felt like sucking in huge breaths , as all at once the reality of what was actually in progress returned to him.

By the time the bucket had been upended into the tub upstairs, the elf glanced up to catch Kailin’s concerned look, and he held her gaze, for she was something steady and trusted in all of this. Calanon sighed.

“What’s a while though?” he asked, wondering if was truly terrible to want to hide away up here until it was all over. And at Kailin’s assertion of the tranquility that had seemed to slip into place downstairs, he searched her eyes with his own, wondering if she felt uncomfortable with it. Again he was struck with just how backwards this all was, and he shook his head. “ It just feels so odd that it is happening..now. I thought I had….I thought I was ready but…” He stopped short then, all of his worries and fears fighting for a voice so that for a moment he could not filter through them. “ What if something goes wrong?”

That was one valid concern, and Cal glanced away and then back to his love as another played out. “ What if I can’t do this….I have failed at it before, Kailin.” And he wondered how she would look upon him if he did again, how he would look her in the eye, look Niven in the eye. Turning away from her under the pretence of wiping his hands on one of the plush towels that had been laid out, anxious hands folded and refolded it when he was done, a sure sign of his distress, for Kailin would know better than most: Calanon Siluvanade did not fold.

But it appeared he had decided he had gifted himself long enough to indulge his own fears, for the next moment, the elf had turned back towards his lover and drawn her close, breathing in all that was good and letting it settle him, his hands coming to rest at her waist as he dropped a featherlight kiss atop her head.

“...it is not about how I’m feeling though is it?” he acknowledged, thinking of the woman downstairs who was in the very midst of all this. And he looked, really looked at Kailin then , for this had to be difficult for her too. Because of what she’d had and lost in Lillia, and what it changed in the future they might have imagined. But it did not seem the time nor the place to talk of it, so he simply squeezed her a little tighter before letting go so they could get the bath full for Niven.

Once that was done and the elfess had been taken away to bathe and then to sleep,Calanon had stolen away himself. Not gone, for he sat outside the back door, knees bent up and back pressed up against the stone of their little house. But he appreciated a moment away from Alliane and her young helper, and from the so very expectant mood that had taken hold inside. And as he absently tugged at a couple of weeds that were resiliently clinging on between the stonework, he realised with a sudden pang how very much he missed his own family. His Mother in particular. How wrong it felt that she was not here, not part of this.

Mostly, their absence was something that he had grown used to, a silent sort of sorrow was just there. It had made itself known when he had met Kailin’s tribe of course ,for how it could it not when he was reminded of what that felt like- family….But still, they were not his own. And right now, he felt it more sharply, thought on how these babies would not know their grandparents, their heritage. Doubly so, in fact, for Niven too was poised to welcome new family whilst having none of her own to support her.

At least..not in any traditional sense. Though they had carved a little niche that was all their own in the cycles that had followed the blonde elfess’ arrival to Port Alyxandrya, and he supposed this was crunch time. The reckoning. To see if their little alternative family could stand up to the challenges about to arrive.
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Old July 20, 2018, 10:59 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Niven relaxed some as Alliane took her pulse and deduced her strong and healthy. Niven gave her midwife a weak smile. That was good, she supposed. Better than the alternative.

The slow circles on her back were soothing and Niven tried to simply breathe into them calmly. At one point they even seemed to coincide with the sounds of footsteps going upstairs with the water for her bath. The thought of the bath brought a smile to the elfess’ face. She had never learned to swim, but she did enjoy the feeling of weightlessness that the water produced, especially since being pregnant. Perhaps if swimming was much like that she’d ask Calanon or Kailin to teach her and then, eventually, the children.

And all of a sudden Kailin was before her, telling her the bath was ready. Niven sighed happily and placed her petite hands in her friend’s only slightly larger ones. Getting up off the couch from her reclined position was a little more challenging than she expected and was grateful for both Kailin’s strength and that of Alliane. For an older broad, she had some muscle to her yet!

Slowly Niven made her way up the stairs, gripping Alliane’s hand firmly for support. If the elfess was honest, there was a part of her that was greatly relieved the time had come for the babies to join the world. She was so tired of being pregnant, struggling to do simple tasks like climb stairs and dress. Kailin had been more than patient, assisting her when she had needed it. It would be a relief to be closer to her normal size again.

Kailin’s inquiry about any requests she had were met with a grateful look, but a slight shake of her head. Niven wasn’t hungry, thirsty, or….

“Oh. Perhaps my lavender dressing gown and a clean shift?” she asked. She would likely not want to be dressed again after, but she didn’t want to walk around the house in her shift either, at least not so long as Calanon was around the house.

The sight of the large bathing tub filled with steaming water brought a smile to the druidess’ lips. Oh, how glorious a bath would feel. The two women started to undress her and Niven thought about being modest for a moment before dismissing the thought. They were all women here and Niven was fairly certain all concerns of modesty would be out the window by the end of this ordeal. Carefully, the elfess stepped out of her clothes, at the same time swiftly plaiting her hair into a braid that she then twisted up to the crown of her head, borrowing one of Kailin’s pins and pinning it in place. The women helped her relieve herself before assisting her into the tub, lest she fall.

As the elfess sunk below the water, she could feel the comforting warmth on her skin, enveloping her body, making her feel further relaxed. She enjoyed the buoyancy but held the edge of the tub lest she sink too far. When the contraction hit, it felt very different. It still was painful, but a little less. Niven continued to follow Allaine’s coaching through her breathing.

The addition of the oils to the bath were nice, but it wasn’t until the woodsy scent was caught did tears start to form in her eyes. Two tears of gratitude rolled down her cheeks as she looked at Tehna. She wondered if the girl would ever understand the depth of what she had done. The scent reminded her immediately of home, a smell that was comforting but stirred grief at the same time. For now, Niven desperately wanted her mother. It hit her that her mother wouldn’t be here to soothe and to comfort her as she brought two new lives into the world, that she would never meet her grandchildren, dote on them, spoil them. What started as two tears became many more as they silently trailed down her face.

The bath did wonders for her contractions and Niven was pleased to find them getting milder and milder. Once the midwife seemed satisfied, Niven allowed them to help her out of the bath and dry her off, dressing in her shift and dressing gown. As she tied the silk sash around her waist, above her bump, Niven was momentarily reminded of Dante. The robe had been a gift from him and Niven had loved it from the moment she laid eyes on it. But now was not the time to be thinking of him, and Niven pushed him from her mind. Dante had given up his right to be here for this and she would be damned if she would let him in, even in thought.

Assisted back down to her chambers, Niven allowed Alliane to get her settled into her bed. It was no longer than a few minutes before Niven drifted off.

In her dream, Niven dreamt of her mother and aunt, both women expressing their pride in her. They wished her a safe delivery and promised that they would be there even if she couldn’t see them. The druidess reached for her mother and allowed herself to be caught in her embrace, and then that of her aunt as the latter wrapped her arms around both she and her mother.

The embrace only broke when Niven started feeling pain again. It was a few moments before the elfess realized that the pain wasn’t in her dream, but happening in the waking world. Her eyes opening, Niven tried to breathe through the pain as she had been coached, but the pain was intense and eventually, she gave up and held her breath through the contraction until it finally passed.

Juno, who had been laying next to her, stood and started to whine as he saw his mistress in pain and he nudged her with his nose. Niven reached for him and scratched him behind his ears as she worked to catch her breath again.

Once she could breathe somewhat normally, Niven pushed herself up into a seated position and tried to stand. The dog didn’t seem to think that was such a good idea and started to bark at her, worry in his eyes.
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Old July 27, 2018, 05:58 PM   #21 (permalink)
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"It's hard to know, especially with twins. Especially with elven twins, as rare as they are." Kailin dumped out her own bucket with no visible effort, then reached across to settle a hand on his forearm briefly, "it could be a new brightening before they make their appearance, or they might come late this darkening. You should try to get sleep if you can, love, when Niven does."

Then the paired affection and amusement she couldn't help but feel crept into her expression, and she let her arm fall away, taking the handle of the bucket in both hands as it hung before her. "You were never really given the chance to succeed before. The only failure is if you do not love them, if you are not there for them. And you will love them, more than you can possibly imagine.

A soft snort as Kailin shook her head, her tone rueful as she continued, "No one knows what they're doing, Calanon, and there is no 'ready'. Not for this. Though one does tend to feel ready to be done with pregnancy, as I am certain Niven has been feeling for the past couple of cycles, at least."

"And Alliane and Tehna are the best... Alliane has been birthing babies since long before I was born," one of the benefits of the longer lived races, "and I am here, too. Should things go really wrong, I will do what I can." Barring the miniscule amount of magic she'd used to strengthen her arms, Kailin had been careful to keep her magic in reserve, just in case it became necessary. There was a very real danger here, given the rarity of multiples in the elven races, and Kailin couldn't pretend otherwise. Yet she felt confident in a way that she would not have an era before, in her own magic, and in her ability to work with the midwives if it were needful.

Her smile widened as she watched him fidget with the towel, and as he moved toward her, she stepped in to curl into him, letting the bucket hang to one side as she wrapped an arm around his waist. Feeling the press of his lips against the crown of her head, Kailin made a small sound of contentment, realizing that she'd needed this since the moment he'd shown up at the office. He could feel her deflate with the sigh that left her, and then the small vibration of a chuckle at his acknowledgement.

"Of course it is about how you're feeling, a'mael. Your children are being born, and that is no small thing. But yes. Niven and those babies need most of our focus just now." A pause as she pulled back enough to look up at him, seeing the consideration with which he was gazing at her suddenly, and her cheeks warmed. A small smile, a quick shrug, and shake of the head were her mute response, before she leaned up to press a grateful kiss to the tension that had settled into the corner of his jaw. He need not add her to his list of concerns just now.

As the stepped toward the door, buckets in hand, she cast a glance sideways at him. "Perhaps you could spend some time in prayer... surely it would not hurt to have Phedos' blessing as you bring two more of his children into the world?" It was offered somewhat tentatively, as Kailin had yet to truly come to terms with Calanon's building relationship and devotion to his god. At the very least, perhaps it would give him some comfort.

*****

"I hope you're not thinking of getting up without my help, mellonamin," Kailin quipped from behind the elf a few candlemarks later, her slightly accented elvish coming from the floor next to the bedroom's door. There came the shuffling sound of paper, then the soft clatter of wood against wood, before Kailin groaned her way back to her feet. She was still rubbing feeling into her backside as she came around the bed to stand before the Sylrosian, both dark brows arched.

"That one looked painful... Worse than the others, or just a rude awakening?" Holding her hands out to Niven to assist her to her feet, she dropped her gaze to address Juno, smile affectionate, "everything's alright, pup, but if you're going to work yourself into a tizzy, we'll just have to put you outside where you can keep Calanon company, hmm?" Though she would only truly do so if the dog was getting underfoot, for Kailin was all too aware that he was Niven's only rock in all of this, the only carry over from her life before aside from Ilianthe, and she would do all she could to keep him part of this for her.

"I'm glad you got some sleep. How are you feeling?" Pale green eyes locked onto Niven's and there was that inflection in Kailin's tone that made it clear that the question was meant to ask after more than just Niven's physical wellbeing.

Try as she might, it was hard not to think of Lilia, and the stark differences between this situation and her own on the brightening of her daughter's birth. Orrian had been no reluctant father, and if there had been fear or hesitation in him, it had only been concern for the health and wellbeing of mother and babe. Despite the cycles she'd had to process her new reality, Kailin was sure that Niven must have had moments, already, of looking for a Dante that wasn't there, and could only hope that his lack wouldn't color this experience for her. There would soon be two little ones who needed all of her love.

Gods. Two babies.

A rush of gooseflesh - full of her own excitement - ran up the human's arms as she thought of how their lives would change in the coming candlemarks. Unable to contain the grin that bubbled up then, she did what she could to soften it as she looked down into the emerald green eyes, their settings puffy and shadowed, almost bruised looking with the fatigue of carrying such a load, "it will be worth it, Niven. Worth everything, the moment you hold them in your arms." It was the best encouragement she could give just then, and the words rang with the ferocious belief of one who had lost all that Niven was about to gain, and who would choose to do it all over again, even knowing the loss that would come.

"I thought I heard voices... is she awake, then?" Alliane's voice preceded her into the room as she peeked through the door, then stepped in upon seeing Niven upright. "Since we're here... I thought we ought to take a quick look and see how you're progressing."

"But first..." Tehna followed behind, flashing Niven a smile as she lifted the chamber pot like a trophy. "I'm going to guess you need this."

Kailin, laughing, stepped back from her friend. They had shared much in the last months, and Kailin was happy to help out, but knew when to get out of the way, too. And both of the midwives were barreling toward the Sylrosian with determination on their faces.

"I'll be back shortly, then." With food. And fresh cold water, she thought. But first, she would check on Calanon while the midwives did their work.

Which was to help Niven take care of the necessities, before getting her comfortable on the bed and checking to see exactly how much work her body had done thus far, with the contractions. They had slowed down nicely after the bath, but it seemed it wasn't to last much longer, as within another quarter candlemark Niven was bent over with another fierce contraction.

Eventually Kailin came back in bearing food and water. And so the next many candlemarks passed with the contractions growing ever closer together and more and more intense. Niven was encouraged to sleep between them, as she could, or walk. And she had never less than two women with her in a rotating cast of caretakers.

As the hours grew long and dark around them all, Kailin wandered out of the small room to find Calanon, a gigantic yawn cracking her jaw as she settled a hand on his shoulder. "Can you sit with her for a while? She's getting closer, and since we, all of us, need a quick nap, I thought you might keep her company."

It was true enough that they all needed sleep, and would need it more before the darkening was out, but Kailin also wanted Calanon to feel a part of what was happening, and was not content to let him hang at the fringes the entire time. Certain it would do him good, and Niven too, Kailin had spoken to Alliane and gotten her approval before leaving to find the dark haired elf. At least one of the midwives would be just down the hall, after all, on the couch.

"Just wake us if the contractions are lasting longer, around a minute each, and coming every five minutes or so." An almost devilish grin, then, spurred as much by Kailin's tiredness as by her assumption of what her next words would do to her love's confidence, "or if she starts saying she can't make it or do anymore, or she hates you... give a shout and we'll be right in. That'll mean she's ready to start pushing." A quick kiss, a pat on his shoulder, and Kailin went to crawl in bed for what she imagined might be a short nap. "You can do this, melamin..." she tossed back to him, before yawning again.
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Old July 29, 2018, 07:41 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Calanon looked doubtfully at Kailin. He could not imagine sleeping anytime soon, not as keyed up as he was. But he did try and take some comfort from the rest of what his beloved had to say, normalising what he was feeling, reassuring him as much as she could when everything was so uncertain.

And her words regarding prayer eventually had him shake off the gloominess that had set in outside, and instead the elf let himself sink into meditation, offer his benedictions to He who had created them in the very beginning. Asking Him to see the safe delivery of the two bright souls not yet born, who surely deserved a chance to shine.

By the time he had risen, somewhat stiffly, and stretched out cramped muscles, activity had begun again inside the house. Niven was awake it seemed, and from what he learnt from Kailin as he found her in the kitchen, it appeared things were still very much in progress. He’d lingered with Kailin, doing what he could to assist her in preparing some food, though he didn't have much of an appetite himself, and then settled in the living room.

The Sylrosian tried, and mostly failed, to read a book. Then he played around at sharpening blades that were already killing sharp. And then he gave up at pretending to be doing anything other than worrying and paced the walls like some caged creature, fractious and unsettled. He wished fervently then that he had pursued some hobby...some something that he could do to while away what felt like an insurmountable amount of time. And whilst both Allaine and the girl and Kailin did their best to keep him updated, there was nothing that could really prevent him feeling a little isolated and at sea as they busied themselves taking care of Niven.

His nervous energy had burnt itself out enough that, by the time Kailin came and laid a hand upon his shoulder, Calanon was leaning against the counter in the kitchen, nursing a cup of tea. He kept boiling the kettle in some fruitless attempt to be useful, and so had finally decided to make some use of the copious amounts of hot water. Eyes lifting to rest upon his beloved as she came in, his face betrayed his surprise at her request.

“ She wants me in there?” And then because that was not what Kailin had specifically said, hi gaze narrowed a fraction. “Or….you want me in there?” Torn between liking the idea of somehow contributing, and panic that he would feel as out of place with Niven as he did out here, the elf hesitated.”Surely if it is nearly time then it should be Alliane? Or you?”

But then he realised he was letting his own fears rule him in a situation that did not have space for them. The midwife and her assistant, Kailin too, all had been supporting Niven throughout the past candlemarks. And Niven herself had been enduring for hours now. It was nothing really, to ask him to overcome his own worries and be there at her side.

Calanon took a gulp of the tea, wished it was something stronger and then glanced across at Kailin before he sat the mug of tea down and pushed off the side. “ Very well”. He thought himself resolved then, but the grin that spread over the face of his beloved should have warned him, and his expression shifted again at Kailin’s words. “If she..”

Hates me?

Looking more than a little dismayed at the idea any of those things happening, he scowled at Kailin, only for his expression to soften as he saw how tired she looked when she leaned in to kiss him. She had done so much

“It will be fine. I will be fine. You rest.”
He let her go with a rather tight smile, one that showed his willing to push aside whatever reservations he had, if not quite his success at doing so. And then, as he watched Kailin disappear up the stairs, the elf paused outside Niven’s room, taking a deep breath before he knocked softly and pushed the door open.

“Niven? Ta naa amin. Amin caela tul a ham- yassen lle y' re'na.” Niven? It’s me. I have come to sit with you a while


It seemed such a ridiculous offering as the elfess within went through the rigours of labour, but it was really all he could do. Stepping inside, he sought out the blonde elf, the mother of his children, and moved toward her.

"Nyara amin mani lle anta" Tell me what you need. He was at her disposal then, a hand to hold, someone to lean against, someone to rail against if she wanted. Calanon resolved that he would bear any or all. For weren't both of them meant to be in this together?
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Old July 29, 2018, 04:43 PM   #23 (permalink)
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The female voice coming from the door made the elfess’s head snap up in surprise. She had not expected that she would not be alone. Sounds of parchment and of what she could only assume was a pencil hitting the floor and rolling a little reached her and Niven couldn’t help but smile. "Ever the artist, even now,” the elfess thought the idea bringing a hint of a smile to her lips. She wanted to ask what Kailin had been sketching, but Kailin's question interrupted that train of thought.

“Worse, I think,”
she replied, placing her hands in Kailin’s and allowing her friend to assist her to her feet. The babies felt low, almost lower than they had before. Her abdomen felt heavy and her back was sore. She let out a heavy sigh.

Once standing, Niven looked down at her canine who was looking at her with concern in his chestnut eyes. She gave him a weak smile, even though it was his barks that had betrayed her to Kailin. ”Traitor," she thought, not really angry. He was worried about her, as he had been her entire pregnancy, never leaving her side unless necessary.

Looking up into her friend’s eyes Niven could see she meant more than just how she was physically. But Niven had no words. She didn’t know how to express how deeply she wanted her mother, how much she wished she was not alone in all of this. And she wouldn’t let herself think of Dante. But who knew how long she would be able to spare that any of her strength. In the void of words, Niven’s eyes started to swim with tears.

Kailin’s reassurances elicited a small melancholy smile and a nod from the birthing mother. A delicate hand came up and brushed away the tears before they could fall. Another heavy sigh then, before she squeezed the hand of her friend. Niven wondered if Kailin would ever truly understand how much she was appreciated. She was certain that without the strength of the woman she would fall apart.

Alliane’s voice broke through and Niven managed to tear her eyes away from Kailin and look upon the ageing midwife who had just entered. “Alright,” she said, a little nervously. Was she close or was there still much time to go? Niven didn’t know how much more of this she wanted to endure.

She released her friend as the two women came towards her and shot her a quick smile before Kailin’s dark head passed through the doorway. She then allowed the midwives to assist her in answering nature’s call and getting settled into the bed again. The elfess frowned upon learning that she was not as far along as she might have hoped, but supposed that this was just the way things were. There was no way to speed things up. Or was there?

Niven would have asked, but another contraction hit and her breath was stolen from her as her back and abdominal muscles tensed. The elfess gripped her sheets in a death grip, her knuckles going white as her eyes squeezed shut and tears simply trailed down her face.

Kailin eventually returned with food, which Niven wanted none of, and some water, which she took and drank in little sips. Each candlemark brought more contractions, closer together. Sleep was elusive as she barely had a chance to drift off before another contraction hit, causing her to simply feel exhausted. Walking was more beneficial, so the elfess chose to do that as much as possible until the ability to be on her feet was taken away between the pain and the fatigue.

She had her head back, leaning against the headboard of her bed, her eyes closed, when Calanon entered. Her pale hair was starting to curl a little at her temples from the sweat that had started within the last candlemark or so and her breathing was slow and even. Juno raised his head from his position laying next to her bed, but he only looked at the elf before laying his head down on his paws again.

At his words, her head turned and her eyes slowly opened.

“Calanon,” she breathed, her usually bright lilted voice heavy with exhaustion. A weak smile accompanied the name. “Tul a ar’ hama,”Come and sit came the invite. Calanon could either choose a chair or the bed, it mattered little to the elfess.

When he settled, Niven took hold of his hand and simply tried to take comfort from his presence. A part of her didn’t want him there, in fact a part of her physically rallied against it. But Niven knew this was as much about him as it was about her and his absence over the past few candlemarks meant that he, too, was nervous and perhaps a little frightened, so she fought those feelings, beating them down. It was her own pride that wanted him away, the mortification that she was not at her finest, she was no longer strong and formidable as she usually presented herself. This experience was stripping everything away, leaving her vulnerable and frightened. And though Calanon was not her enemy, she was not certain she was ready to expose herself thusly to him. As afraid as he had been to touch her for fear of the vulnerability it might elicit, this was her fear of the similar kind.

"Ron nyara amin ta naa il- a' be ann am’,”They tell me it will not be long yet she told him, barely above a whisper. "Ta naa amin estela tanya naa ikotane. Amin uma il- sinta sut sai- ner amin cen sana.” It is my hope it is so. I don’t know how much more I can takeHer eyes closed again slowly before opening again.

“Lle naa tereva?” You are ok?she asked, searching his face for confirmation that he was coping alright. It had been a long brightening since he’d come upon her in the kitchen.
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Old August 4, 2018, 09:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Kailin was smiling as she retired to her bed up the stairs, though with no one around, she did not fight to keep the pain from pinching the corners of her eyes to slits. It was almost time, and she had taken little enough of it for herself, honestly not thinking she'd need such a thing, not after the months of getting used to the idea that Calanon and Niven were having children together.

So perhaps it was only the fatigue that was getting to her, making her feel suddenly vulnerable, that made room for the tendrils of self-pity to attach themselves to her heart-strings. Whatever it was, she reasoned that a few moments alone, even a few moments of sleep might set her back on her feet. For she was determined that this be as happy an occasion as it could be, as full of love for those babies as it should be.

Thus, as Calanon entered the room below, where the mother of his children labored in order to bring them into the world, his lover laid her head down and purposefully succumbed to the few tears necessary to allow her to slip into a doze.

*****

It was quiet, the time of the darkening where false dawn was just around the corner. And with the fatigue that lay heavy over everyone (though no one moreso than Niven), it would not have been too hard for the elven pair to believe that they were well and truly alone aside from Juno's watchful presence.

Niven had been resting for a few minutes already by the time that Calanon entered the small chamber, and as they began to talk, she would know that the next contraction was not far off. Her brow was damp, and on the small table next to her bed there sat a bowl filled with cool water and a wet cloth.

They had some time, then, to speak with one another before the contraction hit. When it did, it was immediately apparent to Calanon that - however intense the earlier contractions he had kept her company through had been - Niven was in a whole other world, now. It lasted longer, much longer, and as the sweat beaded on her brow, was clearly much more painful, too.

For Niven's part, once the contraction passed she was left trembling and slightly nauseated. It would be another five minutes until the next one hit, and over the course of the next candlemarkWhich you two can go ahead and detail out as much as you like, they would grow closer together, until Niven felt that there was very little time to rest between them, and began to feel like - perhaps - she wouldn't be able to do this, afterall. Sweating, shaking, with this most recent contraction lasting well over a minute, Niven just wanted it all to stop. It was all wrong. It wasn't supposed to be like this. It was taking too long, and what if the babies weren't okay?

In other words, it was almost time.

oocI'm going to let you two go back and forth now. Feel free to work through as many contractions as you like. This will all be during the hour during which they're heading toward transition, and I will jump back in when it seems like it's time to throw Niven into the deep end. So you can totally start taking her that direction by the time that you two are finishing up and ready for me again!
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Old August 5, 2018, 06:41 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Calanon had paused upon laying eyes upon Niven. She looked weary, and he felt somehow guilty that he had not been in until now. Until Kailin had told him to. As he made his way across the room toward her, the male glanced between the chair and the bed, making his decision last minute and perching on the edge of the mattress, facing towards the blonde elfess.

His fingers closed lightly around the small hand that took his own,and Cal dropped his head. “I’m sorry...I would have come before..I did not know if you would want me, in here.”

He still wasn’t sure if she did, but he would try anyway, and he watched her as she spoke, noted how the fatigue she clearly felt seeped through into her voice, into her resolve. It had been a long brightening for her…..

“You have done brilliantly for all I have been told” he said in reply, squeezing her hand gently. And when she asked after him, he gave a short laugh and shook his head.

“ I am surely getting under everyone's feet” came the quiet observation that so neatly summed up how he had felt these past candlemarks. But there was no bitterness there, and Calanon leaned forward, and with his free hand, reached for and wrung out the cloth that sat in the bowl of water by the bed.

“ But, they are resting now, and so here I am. May I?” He paused, waiting for Niven’s assent before he wiped the cloth over her brow, some small thing he could do for her in this moment of quiet.

“ I prayed for you,for the babies. That the All Father might bring them safely to us. I will keep doing so.”

Again, it seemed so little in the face of all she had endured, and still would. He’d had many minutes, after all, to think upon how easily this most natural of things had made everything he had learned useless. He could not help in this with his magic. There was no place here for sword. He was flying blind, and it was not a feeling he was fond of, nor ever had been.

So if Niven was feeling stripped, lacking strength she might usually expect of herself? Well the male sitting opposite her might understand that well enough. It was this humbling perhaps, that made it easier for him to offer her the tenderness that had been lacking before.

For what else did he have to give?
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Old August 5, 2018, 07:35 PM   #26 (permalink)
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His apology elicited another weak smile. He was likely correct. She probably wouldn’t have wanted him anywhere near her before this, but it was hard to say because he hadn’t tried. And she had worked to keep him as in the loop as possible, so perhaps she would have done what she did now.

She kept her heavy eyes fixed on him as he reported to her what the others had said. She was too tired to smile and the next contraction was coming, she could feel it. She sighed heavily, her fatigue getting the better of her.

Her eyes never left his face as he laughed, but the sound was music to her ears. She hadn’t realized how much she had come to enjoy the sound of Calanon’s laughter and the look of a smile on his face. A far cry from the awkwardness that had plagued the beginnings of their friendship.

“I cannot imagine that is the case. I’ve hardly seen you, nor heard anyone utter your name,”
she replied but knowing it was likely more that he didn’t know what to do to help than the fact that he was actually being a nuisance to the ladies in the house caring for her.

The sound of the water dripping off the cloth and back into the bowl alerted the elfess to the fact that he wished to soothe her by dabbing the damp cloth over her face. She closed her eyes and gave a small nod when he asked permission. The cloth felt cool on her warm skin and Niven was grateful for it.

Slowly her eyes opened again as he revealed he had petitioned Phedos for the safe delivery of the children. The gesture brought warm tears to her eyes that quickly spilt over. “Thank you. You don’t know what that means to me.” Her slender fingers tightened and then released around his hand.

But for no more than a moment before she tightened her grip on his hand once more as a contraction overtook her body. She made no sound, but silent tears fell from her tightly closed eyes mixing with the perspiration from her brow, wetting the pillow below.

When at last the contraction abated, Niven started to pant as she had been completely unable to breathe through it. A slight whimper then as her body relaxed, her grip on Cal’s hand loosening as well.

“I’m sorry for your hand,”
she said, giving him an apologetic look. She hadn’t meant to squeeze it as hard as she had.
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Old August 6, 2018, 05:24 PM   #27 (permalink)
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What Niven had meant perhaps as reassurance, Calanon felt as a criticism, and he glanced away. He had made himself scarce, he knew, and thought now that it did not reflect well upon him. But, he was here now, and so he would do what he could to make up for his earlier reticence.

That she was pleased with his offering of prayer to Phedos gladdened him, and he shook his head at her gratitude. “ You need not thank me . It is what little I could do…” It seemed so insubstantial at that. Not long though, for him to think on it, because the woman was tensing again, and Calanon found his fingers trapped once again in a death grip, the small hand belying its strength.

And yet, the male found himself more concerned with how much Niven seemed to be facing with this contraction, as she fell silent and seemed to freeze in the face of it, still and immobile aside from the tears that forced their way from behind closed eyelids.

“Breathe, Niven” he urged, for he was almost sure that this freezing up was not going to help. And when it had ended, he passed her a glass of water and did not mention the fact that he was almost certain he would never be able to straighten his fingers again.

“It is harder now? To bear? If you would rather I fetch Alliane or...” He swept that cloth over her face again, talking as much to stop his own fear getting the better of him than anything else. “Kailin said it will not be long...so focus on that, each one is taking you closer to being done, to meeting those babies.”

Hearing himself, he looked up at her then, a glimmer of excitement cutting through the nerves. He only dared let himself feel it for a moment, but it was there nonetheless and he set his hand atop Niven’s again. “ That is what you are working for, remember?”
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Old August 6, 2018, 05:57 PM   #28 (permalink)
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She heard his urging to breathe, but could not. The contractions were far too intense for that. The time for breathing through them had gone.

The water was welcome and Niven took it and brought it to her lips, taking only the smallest of sips to wet both them and her tongue. She had no interest in taking in more fluids lest she have to try and use a chamber pot in the middle of a contraction.

“They are harder, yes,”
she confirmed, raising her chin slightly as Calanon brushed the cool cotton over her skin. “But do not bother them yet. Let them sleep a little longer. She told me they would come quicker and closer and I would start feeling the need to push when it was time. There are still a few minutes between them.”

Niven nodded at his encouragement. Tears started to fall again and she started to cry in earnest, partially out of exhaustion and partially due to the surging hormones in her body.

“Calanon, what if I can’t do this?” she asked him breathlessly, her voice cracking. “What if something goes wrong?"

More tears fell as her fears all started to come to a head. Twins were incredibly uncommon for elves, Niven had only heard of one other and the mother had not lived to see them. The reality that her fate could be the same frightened her.

"Promise me…. promise me if something happens, they’ll save the babies. Promise me!” she begged him, gripping his hand with both of hers, her eyes searching his for his assent to her wishes. “Promise me you will care for them and tell them of me."
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Old August 7, 2018, 07:32 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Calanon balked at the tears that started to fall, pulling back a little as he looked at Niven in concern. “What’s the matter?” The contraction had ended, was she still in pain? Should he call for Kailin?

And then the elfess began to speak and the male could only look on helplessly as her words became more frantic, almost an echo of those he had expressed to his love earlier that day. For a moment, Calanon gazed at her, wide eyed like a startled deer as she gave voice to the exact fears he had been nursing. What if…

The movement of Niven’s other hand to close around his was what jolted him from that, and with a deep breath , the male quashed his own panic. It was not needed, and what he had to do was try and calm the frightened girl before him.

“ All has been well so far Niven. You have an experienced midwife…..Kailin’s magic at hand. It does no good to dwell on those things that frighten you,”
Or me he added silently.

Was this what Kailin had warned of, the feeling she could not do it? Or was this just a moment of panic in amongst the weariness? Calanon wasn’t sure. Warily, he leant forward to wrap his arms around the blonde, as well as he was able from where he sat. “ But yes, of course.”

Saying it made him feel more than a little sick - surely they had all, between them, borne enough loss to last a lifetime? One hand rubbed what he hoped were soothing circles on Niven’s back, and he drew her face into his shoulder. It meant his own expression wasn’t visible to her, a fact he could be glad of because he wasn’t sure he could keep the calm mask in place as his thoughts skittered down paths he did not want to wander.

When he thought he had mastered it again, he pulled back gently, letting his arms slip from around the petite elfess, unable to think it was particularly comfortable for her.

“ I wish I could take some of this burden from you” he said quietly, hating that there was so little he could do or say to give her comfort. From the physical pain of the labour to the fears she held, he felt ill-equipped to help with either.
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Old August 18, 2018, 03:54 PM   #30 (permalink)
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As Calanon drew her to his breast, Niven buried her face into his shoulder, curling her body as best she could into him and sobbed as she needed to release all that was within her that was sapping her strength.

There were her feelings about Dante not being here with her, the comfort of his arms and soothing voice to calm her fears, not to mention his calm spell to ease her anxiety about her job ahead.

And her feelings about her mother not here, a loss she felt more keenly than anything else. She wanted her experience, her presence as a source of strength and her knowledge. While Niven was confident in Alliane’s skills, Isilrá had assisted in every birth in their family and it felt so wrong not to have her present.

And then there were the fears she held about the survival of the three of them. There was nothing so dangerous Niven had done in her entire life than this. One would have been enough. Two was almost impossible.

Not to mention her pure exhaustion from candlemarks of pain mixed with lack of sleep. Her body was beyond spent and her mind was worn out from purposely keeping her thoughts of her loneliness in this task at bay.*The nap she’d taken after her bath felt like it was brightenings ago. All she wanted to do was sleep, but there was no chance of that with the intensity and frequency of her contractions.

All of these things bled out in her tears as they soaked the shoulder of Calanon’s shirt as the elfess took what comfort she could in the presence of her kinsman.

It was unclear if it was purely the physical sensation of strong arms around her or if it was that coupled with the emotional release but it wasn’t long before the elfess' sobs had turned into hiccoughing sighs. Calanon released her and Niven sat back, using the eyes of her palm to wipe away her tears and push back the hair that had fallen in her face. Some tendrils still stuck to her forehead, but she didn’t notice.

“I’m sorry.” She took a few cleansing breaths, though the intense release of emotion only served to further feed her fatigue. “You’re right. It does not do to dwell on those thoughts.”

His next words brought a soft smile to her lips. “You just being here helps,” she replied before another contraction hit.

No longer having Calanon’s hand to hold, Niven gripped her blankets. Only her white knuckles and pained expression gave away the severity of the contraction. Tears started about halfway through. She tried to breathe through it, but her breaths came more like gasps for air than slow even breathing.

Juno looked up at her and gave a soft whine in sympathy.
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