Charles paced by the fire while Henry sat, watching the stairs. He knew that at any moment Lizzie would come down those steps and tell him his child was here. It had been a long, hard labor that had started late in the night. It was now going into the second night. He watched the sun as he walked by the window one more time. Henry looked at him when one of the other midwives ran down the stairs. Both men were on their feet in a matter of seconds.
"She's alright," the woman said quickly as she ran to the kitchen.
"And the child?" Charles asked suddenly worried.
"Will be here soon."
Henry walked over and clapped his father on the shoulder. Charles turned to his soon with a look of worry etched on his face. Henry pulled him over the chair and forced him into it.
"She's strong, Father," he said. "I would ask you for a game of cards but I know your heart wouldn't be in it."
Charles looked at Henry when he heard a gut wrenching scream from up the stairs. The sound made him sick, but it only lasted a minute and then there was silence. Henry tried not to look at the stairs, knowing that it would only make his father do the same. He gently folded his hands and started to pry. He couldn't bear the thought of anything going wrong. His father's life had improved so much in the last few months that he never wanted to think about what would happen if something happened.
Suddenly there were footsteps on the stairs. Charles looked up to see Lizzie running down the stairs. She had a huge smiled plastered on her face. Charles looked at her, telling her not to hold anything back and tell it quickly.
"It's a girl!" she shouted from the stairs.
Charles felt himself smiled and hug his son. Henry bear hugged his father and smacked him on the back. He had a sister. He had a mother again too. He liked that fact more than anything.
"Is Olivia alright?"
Lizzie's grin widened. "They are both fine. Go see her."
Charles ran up the stairs, leaving Henry and Lizzie to look at each other. Henry slowly climbed the stairs up to her and gave her a dashing smiled. Everyone knew that they had fallen in love only a few weeks after they met. Charles thought about telling them that it couldn't happen, but he didn't have the heart to deny his son the person who made him smile. He reached out and touched Lizzie hand with a gently squeeze.
"Is she really alright?"
Lizzie nodded and kissed his cheek. "Things are wonderful. Your sister is beautiful."
Henry nodded and looked at Lizzie for a long time. None of the servants were around. He took her in his arms and kissed her passionately. His father meeting Olivia had brought his father back to life and brought him happiness. He couldn't wait to marry Lizzie next spring. He held her close until he heard a nearby door open. He turned to see Father coming out.
"Come see your sister," he said.
Lizzie pushed him into the room and followed Charles. Olivia was sitting up in bed, holding her new baby girl. Henry looked at the babe and smiled softly. She was the most perfect thing he had ever seen. She had a small amount of dark hair and soft green eyes. Charles sat down next to his wife and kissed her head. Olivia leaned back against him and looked at him.
"I think I know what I want to name her," she said softly.
Charles looked at her and nodded. "What my love?"
Charles smiled. They had talked about that name often. Mary was the whole reason they had met. He thought back to that day. The name was perfect. The little girl would bring and keep spring in Charles's heart at all times. He looked at Olivia and gave her a knowing smiled.
"I think it is perfect," he said, giving her a small kiss.
Olivia rested her head on Charles's chest as their daughter began to fall asleep. She never dreamed that she would be where she was at this moment. She was happy with a wonderful husband and now a great family. She watched as Henry and Lizzie kept giving each other sweet and adoring smiles. It was too perfect. She never thought that Lizzie would fall in love with someone and least of all Charles's son, but she did. And he really loved her. She turned to Charles to find that all he cared about was his new daughter. Olivia looked up at him.
"Are you happy?" she asked with a smile.
Charles ran a hand through her hair and then touched his daughter's cheek. He never thought he would be this happy again. He had found the most wonderful woman in the world and now she had given her a family. He couldn't be anything but happy.
"You already know the answer to that."
Olivia did. She looked out the window and saw that the trees and the flowers in the garden were blooming. It was spring just as she had known it would be. The winter had been long, but it had not been nearly as hard as she thought it would be. She knew that the seasons would change again. But in her heart it would always be warm and spring. She never knew that she could feel that way. She never even knew she could feel alive. Now, she couldn't imagine a life any other way. She turned to Charles.
"You know that I loved you from the first moment I saw you," she said.
Charles started to answer but Mary began to fuss. Olivia snuggled her in hopes to soothe her, but Charles took her and held her close. The child whimpered only a little more and then fell back asleep. Olivia felt her own eyes becoming quite heavy. She watched Charles hold his daughter and make himself more comfortable on the bed. He was a natural father. She could see that now. It was not long before she was asleep, dreaming of nothing but her new family.
Olivia looked at Lizzie in the mirror with a maternal smile. The young girl was once again fighting back tears as the last servant left. Her long white dress hung to her form in perfect position. It was so perfect. Olivia took a step forward and held out a box. Lizzie looked at it and felt tears in her eyes again.
"You can't give me anything else, Olivia," she said softly.
"I can and I will," Olivia said and handed her the box. "It will make your veil hang better."
Lizzie smiled and opened the box. Inside was the most perfect tiara she had ever seen. It was filled with pearls and diamonds. She put on her head and found that it really was perfect for her hair style. It looked like it was made just for her.
"You look so beautiful," Olivia said and came over, kissing her cheek. "You look very happy."
Lizzie laughed a little. "I am happy. I love him so much."
Olivia smiled and nodded. She knew that there was no one else in Lizzie's life but Henry. The young man was so lucky. Olivia gave Lizzie a tight hug. She couldn't believe that things had turned out like this. Lizzie hugged her back and tried not to cry. Happiness was something that didn't come to people like her and Olivia, and now they were both happy. The door to the bride's room suddenly opened to the sound of a screaming child. Olivia realized Lizzie and turned to find Charles with her child. Little Mary was screaming from hunger and wanting her mother. Olivia came over and took her. Charles had a look of relief when she did. He walked over to Lizzie with a smile.
"Are you ready?" he asked.
"I think so," she said with shaky smiled. "Thank you for this."
Charles smiled. "You are welcome. You make my son very happy."
Olivia finished nursing Mary and walked into the chapel. Charles was standing at the front giving Lizzie to his son. She watched as he gave the girl a kiss on the cheek and turned to look at her. He was older now. Older than when she had met him. His hair was graying all over and his face was etched with lines. They were laugh lines and not heartbroken stress lines. He saw her in the back and smiled. She returned it as she always did. She watched the ceremony, knowing things were finally complete. She was happy, Charles was along with Lizzie and Henry. It was spring. She Not that it was never not spring anymore. She looked up as Lizzie and Henry kissed.
It was amazing had how things turned out. She felt Charles take her arm and looked up at him. He was smiling like he always did. She was so glad she had found the way to chase winter from his heart. He held on to her and looked at her.
"Are you still happy, my love?" he asked, kissing her hair.
"Of course I am."
And she really was. She had a family, a husband, and heart that was so alive not even the coldest, longest winter could harden it. She watched as the new couple started to dance. Charles leaned over and kissed Olivia. It was the same kiss that he had given her the first time. She held on to him for a long moment and then looked at the flowers blooming. She said a silent prayer, thanking the Lord for Charles and the eternal spring that he brought to her heart.