Chapter Six: A Family

Firekeeper loathed how Derian could laugh in the face of her misery. Her morning sickness, matched with her frequent mood swings, odd cravings, and heavy, seven-month pregnant belly didn't put her in the most tolerant of moods.

After their marriage, Derian had easily reminded her of exactly who she was: a wolf inside of a human body. Firekeeper had rejoiced in the moonlight, barefoot romps that became nearly nightly occurrences. However, once she began to lose her stomach every morning, and found that there was another life within her, these outings were cut until they trickled down into none at all.

Derian and the other Carter family members – they were residing at the Carter home because Derian was inheriting the family business – had wisely elected to remain out of her way as much as possible. The only time Firekeeper ever really saw or spoke to her husband in recent days was when they slept together at night. Otherwise, there was almost no way she saw anyone else. Vernita and Derian had made her promise not to lumber out to the stables, saying it wouldn't be healthy for the baby.

Firekeeper had done her best to stay true to this pledge, and for the most part had done well. She felt like a shadow of her former self. She didn't really want anyone to see her like this anyway.

---

Observing Firekeeper, Derian began to doubt like her hadn't since before the wedding. This can't have been a good idea. Just watching Firekeeper glare at her stomach with so much contempt is sending chills up my spine. Who knows what she'll do to the child that comes out of her?

The other voice in his head attempted to reason with him. Firekeeper is a wolf. Wolves don't just abandon their pups for no good reason.

Yes, that's all very well, but what if now she's an unstable mix of human and wolf? It's all my fault if she is!

---

Firekeeper had to get out of the house. She didn't care if she broke the promise she had given. Anything was better than sitting here day after day, with nothing but thoughts to occupy her time.

"Firekeeper!" Vernita cried as her daughter in law walked into the stable, half in astonishment, half in displeasure.

"What are you doing here?" Derian asked, approaching, then softly, "You're so close to delivery. It's not safe."

"I don't care," she said resolutely. "I've been sitting around the house for seven months, ever since my stomach began to grow. I can't stand another minute."

"Firekeeper," Derian said urgently, "you're pushing nine months. This isn't good for you."

She sent him a glare that dared him to press his luck further.

He surrendered.

Firekeeper was strolling about the stable, admiring the horses, when she felt an abnormal wetness spreading from between her legs.

Reaching down to feel it through her clothes, Firekeeper turned to Derian to ask nervously, "Why am I leaking?"

---

The two squalling babies wriggled in her arms, deafening her with their cries. However, they were hers, and she couldn't be a prouder mother, or love them any less than she did. The pain of delivering the twins had even made her feel more like herself again, now that the two new life forms were out in the world.

"Good thing we had a spare stall handy," Derian remarked as he crouched by his wife. They both laughed as the twins – a boy and a girl – sneezed simultaneously at the straw dust.

"What should we name them?" Firekeeper asked, handing the babies to Derian.

"Hmm," he mused, as the little boy tugged his ear, and the little girl pulled at his lip. Firekeeper smiled. The nine months of torture had been worth it for her two little treasures. "I did come across a female name while pouring over our family ancestry. I thought you might like it. The name is Lycaenion. It means little she-wolf."

She sat up, laying her head on his knee. "I love it."

Derian kissed Lycaenion's forehead. "I also thought about Kyran for a son's name."

"Perfect." Firekeeper squeezed what she could of Derian's hand.

He helped her stand, and handed her Kyran so he could balance her with a free arm. They left the stall to a smattering of applause. Firekeeper glowed with such a light that no one could ignore her. Many congratulations were offered to the proud mother and father. She accepted them in stride, leaning against Derian, still weak from her experience.

Once they had accepted much praise, he guided his wife into the house. "Sleep, dear Firekeeper." He kissed her cheek. "You deserve it."

---

Firekeeper found that keeping up with two rambunctious five year olds brought back fond memories of her wolf baby-sitting days.

Lycaenion and Kyran had a natural tendency to climb anything in sight, whether it be trees, walls, or manure heaps. Their mother had her hands constantly full attempting to keep them out of their father's way while he was running the business. Often times, Firekeeper took them outside Eagle's Nest into a nearby forest to allow her children to play without disturbing anyone. She took great delight in teaching them about all kinds of creatures, and what plants were edible or not.

Even though they were twins, Lycaenion and Kyran did not resemble one another. Instead, they each took after one of their parents. Lycaenion resembled Derian, with her shiny, coppery locks, green eyes, and gangly height. Kyran was on the shorter side, and had dark hair and dark eyes. He was also a lot quieter than his sister, as well as more observant. He also enjoyed learning about the animals, while Lycaenion would rather climb trees. Kyran was fascinated by the falcons that circled above, and Firekeeper wished for him to someday be able to see Elation, or another like her, in full flight glory.

One afternoon, while on one such outing, Firekeeper sat her children before her. "I have a very important story to tell you. It's is about a wolf, and girl who loved him very much…"

THE END

A/N: That's the end of this story. I hope everyone enjoyed it. It took a while, but I'm glad it is now finally finished. But this won't be the end of my fanfiction days. If you've read this story all the way through, you're obviously a Lindskold fan. If that's true, please join your fellow fans at at the Lindskold forum at www. ibdof .com