As always, the Carpathian universe belongs to Christine Feehan, I'm just playing it a while. I have proofread and edited, so please forgive me if I have missed any mistakes.

Heart of the Dragon

Chapter 1, Birth

Deborah panted with exertion then gave a final, powerful push. Blaine held her up and gave her his strength. He had blocked the pain of childbirth as much as possible. Childbirth for Carpathians was truly a team effort for the parents. Francesca sat cross-legged with her hand on Deborah's abdomen, sending her own strength in to the push while blocking the pain with Blaine.

As the baby's head came out of the birth canal, Shea quickly felt around her neck to make sure the umbilical cord was clear. She used a suction bulb to clear the infant's mouth. The tiny body turned to allow the shoulders to be delivered and the baby was out with a gush of amniotic fluid.

A shrill cry filled the atmosphere of the healing cave as the tiny girl made her presence known. Shea clamped the umbilical cord, cut it, and handed the baby off to Gregori so he could check her over carefully. She helped ease the placenta from Deborah's body and, with Francesca, began the healing process that would leave her as firm and tight as if she had never been pregnant.

In a chamber next to where the birth was taking place, a crowd of Carpathians waited, aware of everything that was taking place, sharing their strength with the couple in the birthing chamber. When he heard the infant's first cry, Mikhail walked into the chamber. He came out a few minutes later carrying a tiny, wrapped bundle. Holding the child up so she could be seen, he said, "Carpathians, come and meet our new daughter."

The baby, still damp from from the birth fluids, opened her eyes to look around. She strongly resembled her mother but had elements of her father in her features. The resemblance would increase as she lost the newborn look and her features refined. With her blue eyes and soft, fine white hair, Mikhail believed she would be blonde like her mother.

They all, mated and unmated, gazed upon the tiny face, this little miracle, who might be a life mate to one of the males. Mated pairs stood with arms around each other and poured all the love and support they could muster into the child. The unmated males sent her their hopes.

The child opened her mouth and wailed. Mikhail carried the baby back into the chamber and placed her in her mother's arms. Blaine gazed at his daughter in adoration. He offered his wrist to Deborah to give her nourishment. He would not use the more intimate way of feeding her in front of people. Mikhail offered his own wrist to Blaine so he would not have to leave his little family to feed.

This child's birth had been anxiously anticipated and Deborah had been smothered with attention and protection from the Carpathian people. With Belle's ability to find and destroy the parasites in the soil as well as the people, this child had an excellent chance at survival. She would be the first in centuries to be nourished by her mother's milk and hopefully go to ground with her parents.

Samantha came in to see her new little sister. She was eager to baby sit and really missed Tamara. Her adopted sister had gone with Maryann and Manolito back to Brazil. Genetic testing by Shea showed that Tamara was indeed Lycan and the adults thought Maryann was best equipped to help her deal with her abilities. It helped that Maryann and Tamara seemed to adore each other.

When everyone left to give little family some privacy, Deborah put the baby to her breast. The first fluid before the milk let down would provide important nutrients for the baby. They would wait a few days before taking the infant to ground and she would be monitored the entire time. Samantha would help Gary and Jubal take care of the baby during the day, but Deborah and Blaine would stay up as late as possible and get up as soon as possible to be with their child.

A/N: This was going to be longer but I decided to end it at a natural point. Some chapters will be really short and some will be longer. I will try to let the words flow and I hope you all will read and review.