And so we've come to the end. It's been so fun. Sorry it took so long to get this last chapter posted. Thanks for staying wil me and let me know what you think!
#40 Beginnings and Endings
It was a chilly autumn night when Kirra was suddenly awoken by a fierce pain. As she sat up gasping, Gawain woke at the disturbance and touched her shoulder, "What is it?" he asked his blue eyes dark in concern.
"The baby," Kirra managed to gasp before the next building wave robbed her of breath and concentration, "Get my mother."
Gawain's eyes widened at the news and he nearly fell out of bed in his haste, "Which one?" He asked, not really hearing what he was saying.
Kirra looked up at him, but was unable to answer. He shook his head and raced form the small cottage, barefoot and clad only in a pair of breeches. He would have to ride to the keep to fetch either mother and there was not a moment to lose.
Kirra had gone to bed complaining of an ache in her back, but that had been nothing out of the ordinary, it seemed that her hips or back were always aching lately. She had eaten a large dinner and besides the aches had been in a happy mood, humming and teasing Gawain relentlessly as she always did. He had felt her stir on more than one occasion during the night, but once again at her advanced stage, sleep had become hard to come by, so Gawain had thought nothing of it. Her sudden announcement both shocked and frightened him. He remembered all too well what Vanora had looked like during her last labor and delivery.
It was not long before he was back, followed by Tristan and Laina, with Lil clinging to him as he rode wildly through the dark night with not even a sliver of moon out to light the way. Kirra had managed to light a few lamps and stir the fire up, finding that moving helped ease the pain, but she was visibly relieved to see Lil and Laina bustle into the house. Tristan stayed outside to look after the horses while Gawain followed the women cautiously.
He knew that Kirra had made Bors stay during the birth of his last child and was half hopeful and half horrified that he would be allowed to do the same. Lil smiled reassuringly at him and stepped back from Kirra's side to let him near, but Laina frowned and no doubt would have sent him outside to wait with Tristan had Kirra not spoken sharply, demanding that he stay.
Laina looked at her daughter in surprise, but instantly recognized the determined expression on the young woman's face and relented. Her years as a midwife had led her to believe it was better to let the laboring woman have her way, even if it went against all she knew. If it strengthened the girl to have her man with her, then so be it, but it surprised Laina that neither Lil nor Kirra seemed to think it strange that a man would attend a birthing, so she swallowed her disapproval and went to work.
Kirra was young and strong; the babe in the right position for a smooth delivery so between the young woman's strength and the steady, experienced hands of Laina, the birth went surprisingly fast, for a first birthing. In the silent, gray hours just before dawn, the first mewling wails of an infant could be heard shattering the silence. Laina smiled as she cleaned her grandson, wrapped him snuggly in a blanket she had made and proudly passed him to his other grandmother.
"Oh, Kirra," Lil breathed as she peered into the face of her grandson and kissed his little head, "he's beautiful." She settled the infant on her daughter's breast and stood back with her arm around Laina's shoulder.
Kirra gulped back tears as she looked at the sweet round face of her son. His skin was unblemished and smooth unlike most newborns and his fine, soft hair was dark and curling. She stroked his little hands, kissed his already chubby cheeks, and grinned tiredly at Gawain who had knelt at her side. "Well, you have your son. Now what are you going to do?" She asked with a hint of her old mischief.
He took the small bundle and, to Lil's astonishment, looked to be a natural as he smiled gently down at his first born, "Let you rest and teach him to ride."
Laina clucked her tongue in disapproval, not knowing the man and his manner and Kirra raised an eyebrow, "At least wait until he's an hour old." When she had translated for Lil, her mother moved immediately to block the door and stood there with her arms folded across her chest and a fierce look on her pretty face. Gawain laughed. Lil may be unable to understand or speak but somehow the woman had a way of making herself understood.
As was tradition for their people, Kirra and Gawain had a feast on their son's naming day. The child, already a strong and hale little lad, would be called Daelin and it looked as though he was going to grow up in the image of his uncle Tristan, which made Kirra smile. Tristan seemed to have come to that conclusion as well and was never far from his nephew's house. His unexpected interest was amusing. As she held her sleeping son close and quietly watched her friends and family, she knew life was going to be good and rich.
Next to her, Gawain teased Galahad, who had his eye on a pretty young woman distantly related to Guinevere, but was still too shy and not quite drunk enough to approach her. There was finally a measure of peace in the youngest of the knights' green eyes. He no longer spoke of returning home and had found happiness in just being able to be who he desired to be, which turned out not that different from whom he had been before receiving his papers.
Arthur and Guinevere sat in a corner, holding hands and deep in a conversation in which they were the only two in the world. If Kirra knew anything at all, it would not be long before the two of them were preparing to welcome a little one of their own. They balanced each other and worked tirelessly as true equals to unite the land. Their child would be a welcome miracle.
An unhappy frown creased her brow when she spotted Lancelot staring with hopeless longing at the pretty queen, an empty cup before him. He had been restless as of late and she knew his would be a hard road. At the thought, Kirra sincerely hoped that he would not act in a way that would make her son's sacrifice for nothing. She knew the story, but also saw the adoration on Guinevere's face when she looked up into the eyes of Arthur. Kirra made note to speak to Lancelot.
The sight of Tristan gazing intently out from under his hair at a beautifully fair young woman, who would glance shyly back every now and then, caused her to brighten considerably. Peace was not the only thing her stoic brother had found out in the forest when Kirra had been unable to see anyone.
Bors and Vanora argued good-naturedly as the younger of their children loudly ran about wreaking havoc upon the great hall. The older ones sat proudly at the table with the adults, the couple's oldest daughter, a pretty red-head like her mother, could be seen now and again throwing shy, admiring glances in Galahad's direction and Kirra's grin grew.
Her heart swelled in happiness as she watched the last couple seated at the far end of the long table. It would seem a new romance was blossoming. As Lil smiled up into the calm face of Dagonet, her pretty features grew soft and she looked years younger. It was as if perhaps for the first time, she was truly happy. Kirra wished them well, but had already refused to call Dag 'dad'.
There was a touch of sorrow to be found this day as well. Laina had died peacefully in her sleep just days after Daelin had been born, but Kirra knew she had been happy. She had been able to find her children, see that they were well and help her daughter bring a precious life into the world. The cycle of life was continuing and Laina had been ready to go and join her loved ones.
Yes, for all the hardship life here posed, it would be a good life and Kirra looked forward to living and watching her small family grow and thrive. Gawain put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her tight against him, kissing his son's small head and then kissing her gently, his sparkling eyes full of the promise of the future. Kirra sighed happily and leaned against his solid warmth, time had indeed been good.