Briseis way lying on the floor, holding her stomach in agony. Andromache and Helen were beside her, supporting her head and attempting to calm her down. Achilles bolted to her side.
"What happened?" he asked.
"We were walking down the hall after we put the children to sleep and she said her stomach did not feel right, so we stopped to rest for a moment and then she collapsed to the floor," Andromache explained.
"Briseis, I am here," he reassured her. "We need to move her to a bed and fetch a midwife. I think she is in labor," he said to Helen and Andromache.
Achilles picked up his wife and carried her to their bedroom, with Helen, Paris, and Andromache following. They sent a servant to fetch the midwife quickly to find out what was happening. When she arrived, she assessed the situation and turned to Achilles.
"You wife is in labor," she said.
"How can this be?" he asked. "It is too soon. We were not to have this child for another two months."
"Sometimes these things can happen, especially with your wife's small size. Go to her, comfort her, and prepare her for the birth. Normally, we do not allow men in the room when the women are birthing children, but I will make an exception for you," the midwife said.
Achilles nodded and thanked the midwife for her generous allowance. He turned around and went back to the bed, where Briseis lay, propped up against pillows to ease the backpressure she felt.
"What is happening?" she asked softly.
"Darling," he said, kissing her forehead, "the baby is coming early." Briseis began to cry. "No, no, no, it is not your fault. Everything is going to be all right. The midwife said that sometimes these things happen and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent them. She is going to allow me to stay right by your side through the whole birth."
"Achilles, what if the baby is too small to survive?" she asked tearfully.
"Briseis, the baby is going to be fine. You are strong and I am strong, so this baby is going to be strong," Achilles reassured her.
He kissed her lips softly and sat next to his wife to comfort her. During contractions, he allowed her to squeeze his hand until blood flow was cut off and cry on his shoulder when she needed to.
Briseis's labor went on for hours. It tortured Achilles to see his wife in so much pain and nothing he could do about it. As far as he remembered, her labor with Alex had not been near as long or painful. In between contractions, Briseis would rest and talk briefly with Achilles. However, these reprieves were few as her contractions came closer and closer together. Finally, after hours of endless agony, the midwife looked up at Achilles and Briseis with a nod.
"Are you prepared to meet your child?" she asked.
Both of them nodded in anticipation.
"Push, my lady," the midwife directed.
Briseis pushed down with all her might. Her stomach felt like it was being ripped apart and she screamed in pain. During her screams, she heard the midwife's voice.
"I have the head. There is a lot of blonde, curly hair. One more push and you will see your child," she encouraged.
Briseis pushed down once more and felt the rest of her child leave her body and enter the world. Piercing cries came from the baby as the midwife held it up in her arms.
"A daughter, my lady and she is beautiful," she exclaimed.
Moments later, she was wrapped up and in Briseis's arms. Briseis and Achilles looked into the eyes of their daughter for the first time and fell in love. Just as relief washed over Briseis's body and mind to see her baby safe, she felt something like another contraction rip across her body. The midwife, who was cleaning Briseis up, looked up to see her face marked with pain.
"My lord, take your child from your wife's arms," she instructed.
"Why? What is wrong?" Achilles asked.
"I am not sure, but I think there is another child in her womb still," she gasped.
"Another child?" he asked.
"Yes, now my lady, I need you to try and push for me a little longer to see your second child," she said.
Briseis was in shock, but nodded at the instruction and began to push once more. She pushed with all her strength left in her. Finally, after two or three more pushes, a second child came screaming into the world. The midwife took the baby and cleaned it up and presented it to Achilles and Briseis a few moments later.
"Another daughter, my lady and she is identical to her sister," the midwife said as she handed Briseis the second baby.
"They are both beautiful," Achilles said, holding the first born in his arms as he gazed at the second one.
Briseis smiled and said, "How are we ever going to tell them apart?"
"We will figure it out as we get to know both of them," he replied, kissing his wife.
"I told you it was going to be a girl," she said, smiling.
"Yes you did, but you did not say how many," he retorted, laughing. "That is probably why you went into labor early, because of your small size and the fact that there were two of them."
"How about names for our precious daughters?" she asked.
"What do you like?" he asked in reply.
"Well, for this one," she said, indicating the one in her arms, "I like the name Callidora Andromache."
"That is perfect," Achilles said. "And what of our first born girl?" he asked as he placed the infant in her mother's arms, next to her sister.
"Helen told me a name earlier that I have grown to love, Aria Lily. Do you think she would mind if we used it for our little girl?" Briseis asked.
"You should ask her. I am almost sure that she and Andromache are standing outside the door, waiting to meet our babies," he replied, as he walked over and opened the door to reveal Helen and Andromache waiting outside the door.
"Come in, both of you. Something wonderful has happened," Briseis said.
"What? No one would tell us what had happened in here," Helen begged.
"Achilles and I have been blessed not only with one little girl, but two," Briseis said, beaming at the two infants in her arms.
"Briseis, they are beautiful. What are their names?" Andromache asked.
"The second born, the one wrapped in pink, is named Callidora Andromache," Briseis said.
"What about the first born?" Helen asked.
"I wanted to ask you if we could use the name Aria Lily for her. I have fallen in love with that name and would love to use it for her," Briseis said.
"Of course. Besides, she looks like an Aria to me," Helen replied, beaming at her newest little cousin.
"Then this one, wrapped in violet, is Aria Lily," Briseis stated.
"They are both so beautiful, like their mother," Andromache said. "I think that it is time you get some rest. Helen and I will watch over Alex tonight so that you and Achilles can be alone with the new babies."
"Thank you so much," Briseis said.
"Yes, thank you. What would we do without the two of you?" Achilles said as Helen and Andromache left the room.
Briseis and Achilles were left alone in their room to gaze at the newest members of their family. Both babies had blonde curls and piercing blue eyes. Truly, they were the complete opposite of their brother. Callidora was asleep in her mother's arms while her twin; Aria began to fuss and cry.
"Achilles, take Callidora and let her sleep in your arms for a while. Aria is hungry and I need to feed her," Briseis said.
"Here," Achilles said, as he extended his arms out to grab Callidora from her arms. He held her gently and rocked her back and forth. "I can already tell who is going to be like you," he said, smiling.
Briseis glared at him for a moment before cracking a smile herself. She lowered the strap of her nightgown and began to feed Aria. All the while, gazing down on her daughter in amazement. After a while, Aria was content and fell asleep in her mother's arms. Achilles gazed at both of his daughters, amazed at their beauty and likeness to him. Daughters would be a whole new experience to him.
"They are both so beautiful, I am going to have a hard time keeping men away," he remarked.
"One would have been hard enough, but we have two," Briseis replied, smiling.
Yes, this would be the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, but Achilles and Briseis were looking forward to the next few years of their lives with a son and two daughters to chase after.
A/N: So, like the baby names? Hate them? Let me know what you think of it so far.