"And if all the world was perfect,
I would only ever want to see your scars
You know they can have their universe,
We'll be in the dirt designing stars,"
-Darren Hayes, 'So Beautiful'
"Mine can do tricks."
"Mine's pretty too!"
"I'm sorry, do you really think that your offspring, with a head that makes up half his body weight and chocolate constantly smeared over his face, is prettier than my gorgeous little angel?" George questioned, as if aghast, holding up his baby and picking up one tiny little hand to wave cutely in the air.
"Hey, you have one, Howl has one and a half, but I don't have any, so you've both beaten me in this competition, isn't that enough?" William exclaimed.
"You're so pretty. Why are you so pretty? Oh yeah, because you had the best of the gene pool," George informed his child lovingly.
"Mine's pretty," Howl muttered petulantly, picking up his son, who was having a great deal of fun running three metres before falling on his backside. "You're pretty, Alex, aren't you? Do something cute," he commanded. Alex giggled. "See? Can yours laugh? I don't think so," he declared proudly.
"Mine doesn't need to. When you're this pretty, all you have to do is just sit there and look pretty," George replied factually.
"Well mine can talk, too. Alex, say something."
"Either your son is that guy Stephen Fry played in Blackadder, or he thinks he's a sheep. Congratulations. I would have expected nothing more from a Welshman."
"My son is not a sheep!"
"He's half Welsh! How can he be anything but?"
"Quick, Alex, bite him."
"Oh great, now you've taught your sheep to bite people. Keep your infant away from mine, it might give my precious little darling fleas," George commanded, stepping away from his friend.
"He's your Godson, in case you've forgotten," Howl pointed out.
"I know! I love him all the same. But you have to agree, mine is very pretty," he sighed happily, as his daughter gave a gurgle of approval.
"I feel left out," William muttered miserably.
"You can have one just as soon as they write a musical featuring a pregnant Australian soprano," Howl comforted his son-in-law, who rolled his eyes in annoyance.
"Only it won't be as pretty as mine."
"Are you two still competing?" came an exasperated sigh as the wives stepped back into the room, Antoinette with a hand held gently over the six-month belly of her daughter.
"Howl seems to think that his unfortunate infant is prettier than our darling, gorgeous, precious, angelic little Sienna," George informed his wife, who rolled her pale eyes.
"For the past two months I've not heard you say a sentence that didn't include the word 'pretty' and 'Sienna'," she muttered.
"You know what else, Howl? My wife is prettier than yours. And she can do tricks. Sorry, Antoinette," George called over to the sniggering female.
"No offence taken. But I can do tricks too," she retorted, wrapping her arms around her husband from behind.
"That she can. How do you think my 'unfortunate infant', not to mention Tadpole, came into existence?" he questioned with a raised brow.
"Ew. Please don't make me think Alex arrived any manner other than delivery from the stork," Eli questioned with a shudder, taking her place by her husband of just under two years. "And stop calling her Tadpole. She's going to be Princess-Sparkle-Muffins," she added firmly.
"I have the prettiest wife, the prettiest baby, and I'm infinitely prettier than the both of you, how do you even wake up in the morning?" George questioned William and Howl incredulously as he gently rocked his infant.
"Can you please take your husband home? He's starting to annoy me," Howl requested Emilia, who laughed.
"I was about to suggest that," she assured him.
"I want one. It's not fair, they're always competing and I haven't got one," William muttered miserably.
"Plenty of time for that in the future," Howl assured him.
"Alright then, I guess I'd better go home with my gorgeous, sexy wife, and precious little angel. Have fun being wiped out by natural selection here, gentleman, ladies, domesticated livestock," George declared finally, nodding each individual respectively.
"Bye-bye, unfortunate infant. Despite the fact that you're not as pretty as your cousin, I still love you," George assured Alex, picking up Sienna's baby-bag and swinging it over his shoulder.
"Sorry about my husband. I'm hoping his ego will deflate sometime soon," Emilia apologised, before bidding her friends goodbye, and following her husband out of the Llewellyn house.
Over the past two years many things had changed. George and Emilia had an official marriage ceremony in the spring after Alex's birth, and moved into a gorgeous London townhouse. Not long after Emilia's father, Henry Woodhouse passed away, his last words apparently concerning the theft of several chickens in the area. It was of course a difficult time for Emilia, but she was at least able to come to terms with his loss, and not ignore it, like she had her mother's death.
George took off well, several new boutiques opening around the world and stock appearing in high-class department stores, still maintaining its eco-friendly methods of manufacture, and it was a constant feature at Paris Fashion weeks.
George's company also took off with impressive speed; however, he hired a CEO to take over the hard work whilst he played a relatively minor roll in all that happened so he could spend more time with his wife and child.
The Pemberley School of Arts remained a summer holiday program, as it fit in comfortably with the schedules of both William and Eli, who moved in with Howl and Antoinette after the returned from Australia for their honeymoon. Eli got the position of second soprano at the theatre, and was moving to lead now that Heidi was announcing her retirement. It was her last season in second place before she took over the limelight.
William finally decided to combine his love of music with his dedication to the business world that his father had started in him, and made an independent record company, that was small, but going well, and he was happy to finally be involved in music once more. His and Eli's marriage was going better than could ever have been hoped, their love only increased with every day they spent closer together, and all arguments were solved with simple conversation. They were finally not suffering from problems of miscommunication and could love each other freely.
Antoinette didn't return to her former company, which was still headed by the 'Vermin' Vincent Lothian. Instead she was working freelance from home to look after Alex whilst Howl was teaching during the day. It was his last year in Rosings Park before he moved onto University lecturing in Musical Theory. Their second child, a girl, was expected sometime around March, and she was already very loved by her parents, brother and sister in both law and blood, and her 'Aunt' and 'Uncle' George and Emilia.
"We should have another one. I want to see if we can create something equally as cute," George suggested when they arrived home.
"You can be in charge of the birth then," she laughed.
"Aw, Mummy doesn't want to push a human being out of her again! She's so mean. But you must be so bereft without a little sister!" he exclaimed, bouncing his daughter up and down in his arms. She gurgled happily in response.
"I thought you wanted a boy next," she frowned slightly.
"Well, I want a boy and another girl. Either order. And then we'll marry the youngest girl off to Will and Eli's eldest boy, whenever they can get around to procreating, and together, they will breed a super-child," he declared. "Actually, no. You're already a super-child, aren't you, my pretty little darling?" he cooed to the infant, who reached out to grab her father's nose. "That means yes. She's agreeing," he informed Emilia eagerly.
"She's hungry. I'm going to feed her and put her down for a nap, can you take care of dinner?"
"Can't I just sit and watch her sleep?" he questioned petulantly. Emilia rolled her eyes and took her daughter from her husband with a small laugh.
"She's going to be so spoilt. She'll think the world revolved around her," she muttered.
"It does. And she won't be spoilt. I used to act the same way when you were a baby, but by the time you were old enough to understand I stopped," he informed her as they went into the kitchen, and he pulled open the fridge to find something to cook for dinner. Their reliance on take-away food was deemed unhealthy during Emilia's pregnancy (who had an awful time of it, like Antoinette), so they had both learnt to cook, at least a little.
"Why is that?"
"Well, you just weren't cute anymore," he sighed, before laughing at her aghast response. "I was worried you'd be selfish, so I stopped. But it was the same as it is now, I couldn't deny you, or Sienna anything. You're both so pretty," he sighed happily.
"Well just as long as she's not selfish, but not insecure," she warned.
"Of course. But my little baby girl is perfect. She doesn't need to be told that," he declared. "Oh, and Sienna too," he added with a grin. Emilia rolled her eyes, and sat down on one of the kitchen chairs around the bench to feed Sienna. "Oh, Mum called. She'll be in London for Christmas and wants to shower the bub with gifts – do we need anything?" he questioned.
"Nup. She's bought every single stuffed toy in the country and we're right for clothes," she assured him.
"Well she wants to go shopping with you, all the same."
"I suppose I could use some more clothes for myself–"
"- but the baggy look is in now so most of my maternity wear is fine," she finished, sending him a disapproving glare.
"It's ridiculous, you're swamped in it now, and no one can tell you have a figure," he objected, chopping up a few vegetables to make a stir-fry.
"I still have one kilo to lose before I'm back to pre-pregnancy. Until I lose it, baggy clothes stay," she said sternly.
"First of all, you only gained a few kilos when you were pregnant, and you needed to gain five more anyway before that. Most of it in height."
"I love you too, babe," she laughed, reaching forwards to snatch a piece of carrot from the chopping board.
"Well don't throw your maternity stuff out, you can give it all to Marianne," he rationalised.
"Chris bought her everything even slightly related to pregnancy he could find on this side of the planet the moment she told him. I think she's set," she laughed. "Besides. Antoinette has already taken most of it," she rationalised.
"Well considering how pleased Bobby Martin looks these days, Haley might need them pretty soon," he commented, tossing the veggies into a wok.
"Ew. Don't need to think about that," she shuddered. "And I already bet with Eli that Nellie would be knocked up again before Haley is," she added.
"Didn't she only have Emrys a month ago?"
"A year. She had him a year ago. You were at the Christening! You gave Edward a hug and tried to give Emrys a rating out of ten!"
"Hmm. That sounds like me," he muttered with a chuckle. "Actually, I think I enjoyed Nellie and Edward's wedding much more than Emrys' Christening. Everyone was drunk at the wedding," he added optimistically.
"Well I don't think I'm going to let you hang around with any of our friends who have babies – not when you keep insisting Sienna is so much prettier than all of them," she decided.
"But she is! I don't care what everyone says about Hamish, he's not nearly as cute as Sienna," he insisted.
"Hamish Weston is a very cute young boy. And you can't keep trying to compete with other parents. They'll stop talking to us," she scolded, attempting not to laugh.
"Hamish has hit that age where he's not old enough to be a toddler, but too old to be a baby. He's in the ugly age," he insisted.
"He's eighteen months. That's not an 'ugly age'," she objected.
"Whatever. All I know is that Sienna will have slim pickings when she's looking for a suitor around here. Everyone else's children just don't make the cut," he declared.
"You're terrible. I'm not talking to you anymore," Emilia laughed, turning back to her daughter with loving eyes. "But just between you and me, you are a lot cuter than Hamish, Emrys and Alex put together," she said quietly.
"Ha! I knew it! You can tell she's gorgeous too!" George cried triumphantly.
"Hurry up and finish dinner. You're corrupting me," she ordered with playfully sparkling eyes. George laughed, and turned back to their cooking meal with a small smile.
"I love you, Em," he informed her suddenly. She smiled.
"I love you too, George."
"Go on, admit it. Sienna's the prettiest baby that ever lived. Well, you were pretty cute too."
"I refuse to encourage you," she said firmly, but her eyes gave a clear indication that she agreed with him. He gave a confident grin.
"And the next one will be just as pretty."
"No next one."
"Yes! A hundred more!"
"I call dibs on sitting in the waiting room handing out cigars during the birth then."
"I was with you the whole time, and there were no cigars involved."
"Quiet woman, you're distracting me," he laughed, turning the wok off and filling two plates with its contents. He passed his wife a fork and her plate as if it were a tradition they were now used to.
For the happy couple, things had settled into a very pleasing domestic routine. They split the cooking duties and hired a maid so there wouldn't be any cleaning, George only went to the office a few days a week, and on those days Emilia worked from home. They juggled the duties of parenting, swapping working from home and working at the office so someone was always with the baby. They had a surprising amount of time to spend with each other, despite Sienna's need for constant care, so there was no longer any sort of 'gap' between them. They felt like the happiest family on earth.
Half an hour later, as Emilia was laying Sienna down for her nap, she felt the presence of her husband behind her and his warm arms wrap around her waist.
"She's so beautiful," he muttered quietly, resting his chin atop her head and staring at his daughter as if she were the most interesting thing on the face of the planet.
"Yeah. She is."
"You know, ten years ago this is exactly the kind of thing I wanted?" he said suddenly. Emilia laughed.
"You wanted to wake up at three AM every night to feed and change a screaming baby?" she questioned teasingly.
"I looked at you and thought, 'wouldn't it be nice if we ended up together. Like a family'. I didn't think it would be ten years in the making, but those ten years got us here," he sighed happily, running his arm slowly up and down his wife's arm.
"And where do you see us in ten more years?"
"We'll have ten more children, that's all."
"And you're pretty," he retorted in the manner that he always finished their arguments. She laughed against his lips.
"Well, so are you," she admitted finally.
"Want to go make another pretty offspring?"
"Shut up," she laughed, leaning forwards to capture her husband's lips in a kiss.
"Ah, shouldn't we relocate? Don't want to scar the little one," he pointed out, breaking their kiss for a moment to glance down to his daughter.
"Good point. Night, darling," she cooed, leaning over the cradle and giving her daughter a soft kiss.
"See you in the morning. Or most likely three AM," George added, smoothing back his little girl's hair, before smiling, taking his wife's hand in his, and leaving their sleeping daughter's room in silence.
It had been ten years in the making, but those ten years of pain, suffering, love and longing had created the most perfect family one could ever find. There was a great deal of moral to their lives and their stories, but no moral can ever truly encapsulate love. It was something intangible, uncontainable, and in the case of George and Emilia, all they needed.
A/N: Upon my word. Wow. It's finally over... I always feel a mixture of things when I'm finishing long fics, and this being my forth, I would have thought I'd get used to it – but clearly I'm not. Or maybe it's just because of the impending break from fanfiction?
So, if there were any of you hoping that it might just be a joke, I'm sorry. I've met some really awesome people on here who are incredibly talented and you should really read their stuff. I've had a blast here for the past year or two, and hopefully I'll be coming back in October, but you never know. I may decide to enter the real world, and write books with my own characters... hmm, sounds scary. Anyway, this next year coming up really terrifies me, but hopefully I'll be able to survive it. If you want to keep updated with how I'm handling things you could always check out my blog http: www . lejardindeve . blogspot . com / or just email or PM me. I may post some one shots or even a few of my older fics, but I don't really know right now. For the sake of my schoolwork, it'd be best if I didn't.
Anyway, I guess this is it. So, until October! I hope you enjoyed this story and my others, and I hope you find many other enjoyable fics to read!
xoxo evie xoxo