Summary: An elf watches his wife struggle to bring their son into the world.
Author's Note: In my series, the terms man, woman, boy, girl refer to gender, not race.
Wisps of Gold
By Nieriel Raina
Frantic scrambling seemed to echo around the bedroom. A hand reached for another clean, white cloth that was quickly soaked red.
An anguished cry broke the ominous stillness, and Ëarel leaned forward to whisper encouraging words, as his wife gasped in her labors. Outside he was the picture of an elven husband, calm, encouraging, lending his strength to his mate. Inwardly, he tried to keep his panic in check and fought to remain calm.
He squeezed Lávallalië's hand, lending her as much strength as she needed while the midwife's assistants scurried about their business.
Too long had she struggled against the pain of childbirth. Even he knew that. Something was wrong. He could see it in the eyes of the older women.
Then one called for someone to find Mornalindë and to tell her to hurry.
A maid ran from the room, and Ëarel gulped, trying to swallow down the bile that rose unbidden. If they called for Mornalindë, already detained in delivering one of King Finwë's grandchildren, then things had taken a life threatening turn.
He fought to remain calm, for Lávallalië, brushing the sweaty golden hair from her face and wiping a cool, wet cloth over her forehead.
She turned pain-filled, fearful eyes to him. "What is happening?"
Before he could answer, the door was thrown open, and Mornalindë entered the room.
She wasted no time, but moved to examine her patient. Ëarel watched the swift, confident motions, finding some relief in knowing she had come at last. The stern, but gentle midwife had overseen his beloved's pregnancy from the beginning. He had great faith in her, for she awakened beneath the stars at Cuiviénen. Her experience included delivering most of the royal family and many of the lords and ladies of the court, including himself and his siblings.
"What is happening?" Lávallalië repeated, tears falling from her frightened grey eyes.
Mornalindë sighed, and looked up from her work. "It is as I feared, my lady. Your son is larger than most, and with your build…"
She broke off her statement, not needing to say more. They had discussed this possibility a month ago, when his beloved's belly expanded further than most women carrying only one babe.
Mornalindë set her jaw and narrowed her eyes. Laying her hands on his wife's swollen abdomen, she began addressing the unborn elfling. "You will be born today, and you will stop causing your amillë so much grief. She has much work to do yet, and does not need your shenanigans."
Ëarel felt his jaw drop at the midwife's words. It would seem even she sensed what he and Lávallalië had from nearly the moment of their child's begetting.
Mornalindë looked up and winked at him, before getting back down to the business at hand. He felt his wife's chuckles as she sat back, a brief respite given from the incessant contractions, and he knew the words had been spoken to lighten her heart. Inwardly, he prayed that the child would listen, that the Valar would offer some assistance. He did not want to lose either his wife or child this day due to such rare complications.
Mornalindë moved Lávallalië from the birthing chair to the bed. She began to sing an ancient song as she reached for her tinctures and ordered her assistants to bring certain tools. They had discussed what might be necessary, and he prepared himself for what was to come, bringing his wife's fingers to his lips and whispering calming, soothing words. And as the song built in power, he felt Lávallalië succumb to the sleep of which Mornalindë sang.
She reached for a small, sharp knife, and he averted his eyes. He did not wish to see what would happen next. It felt invasive, inflicting such harm on his beloved, and yet, it would be the only way to ensure either she or their child lived. He focused on Lávallalië's face, reached across their bond to succor her spirit, and also touched that bond between he and his child, calming the tiny life that was now panicking in distress.
Lávallalië groaned, her breathing short and quick. How much longer must this go on? he wondered. The sounds coming from the end of the bed were disturbing.
Then Lávallalië gasped and went completely limp. Ëarel reached for her, fearful that everything she had endured had been too much for her, when a smack resounded and a lusty cry filled the room. He tore his gaze from his wife's pale face to see Mornalindë smiling as she held out the squirming infant to an assistant who wrapped the babe in a soft cloth and stepped away to a table where they would tend the newborn.
Ëarel blinked then looked back to his wife whose breathing was shallow but steady. He glanced back at Mornalindë, the unspoken question in his gaze.
"She will be fine," Mornalindë said as she lifted a threaded needle and began sewing as she began a new song.
"Your son, my lord," the assistant told him, holding out the bundled babe to him.
Ëarel, hesitant, took the bundle, cradling it against his chest. He could feel the recognition in his son, even though this was the first they beheld one another. Blue eyes met blue and Ëarel used a finger to lightly trace down the soft cheek.
"I want to see him." Lávallalië's soft voice brought his eyes up and he smiled at her, relieved to see her awake, and alive.
He scooted closer and shifted the babe to the bed beside her where she could gaze down on him.
She smiled, a contented sigh escaping her lips. Her fingers reached, trembling, to stroke the soft golden hair already curling about the crown of his head as it dried.
In awe, as he gazed at the miracle that was his family, Ëarel also reached out to their son, and laughed when a flailing hand grasped his finger. He had seen newborns before, and always thought them wrinkled and red and rather uncomely.
"He's beautiful," he said, and found he meant it.
Tearing his eyes from his son, he gazed at his wife and found her smiling tiredly back at him. He felt exhausted himself, but nothing could overcome his joy at this moment.
A sudden fear stole over him, as he noticed how pale his wife's features had become, the dark circles under her eyes and the shaking of her limbs. He cast another questioning glance at Mornalindë, who had just finished tying off the final stitches.
"They will both be fine," the midwife assured. " Lávallalië will need to rest long to recover her strength, but she will heal." Mornalindë looked down at the bundle cradled between them. "So what will you name this one, I wonder?" she asked.
He beamed as he leaned forward and kissed the babe's brow. His son's hair had now dried and begun to curl into wisps of gold. What a fetching boy this one would make one day!
"Laurefindil," Ëarel whispered as he lifted his son into his wife's waiting arms. "Yes, he will be Laurefindil, and he will be strong and mighty and do great things."
Laurefindil ignored his father's words, intent on his first task in this new world. He nuzzled against his mother's warm flesh, and began to nurse, unaware of the future before him.
: - :
Ëarel – 'sea star', a member of Arafinwë's Privy Council. He is Noldor
Lávallalië – 'laughing golden blossom', Ëarel's Vanya wife. She is distant kin of Indis.
Mornalindë – 'dark song', the head midwife of Tirion.
Laurefindil – Glorfindel's Quenya name.
Author's Note: The royal grandson of Arafinwë that Mornalindë was delivering before being called to help with Laurefindil's delivery was Turgon.