Chapter 62 - Epilogue

The crowd was waiting in the courtyard, and they were restless.

They were awaiting news of the birth of the crown prince or princess.

Inside the palace Alistair paced nervously. Fergus and his bride Leliana, were sitting watching his pacing and had tried to make conversation but had met with a wall of nervousness, as Alistair simply had not responded to their comments or answered with a "What?" at everything they had said.

Alyssa had simply been screaming too loudly and the sound of her screams had his nerves frayed and taut, almost reaching a breaking point. Fergus had tried to explain that it was normal, that all women went through this pain during labor and childbirth but he simply could not take it any longer.

As a result, Fergus had had to stand up on several occasions and restrain him by putting an arm around his shoulders, steering him father away from the door. But Alistair was stubborn, and kept going back to the closed door, which, fortunately for them had been locked.

This, however wasn't necessarily a deterrent. Fergus knew that his brother-in-law possessed the raw strength to bring the door down if he got desperate. So he remained on edge and continued to restrain Alistair the best he could, while Leliana helped him.

All this had gone on all last night and had continued all day today. Alistair was so nervous, that every time Fergus cleared his throat to speak, he had literally jumped.

"I'm sorry, what?" Alistair asked for the hundredth time.

"Alistair, you have to sit down for a moment. You're going to wear that floor down."

A servant appeared with fresh linens and another after her carrying more hot water.

Alistair tried to catch a glimpse of the room when the door was opened, but the door shut firmly on his face.

He bristled visibly, then sighed and finally sat down.

Another servant appeared as if on cue, carrying a tray with food and drink and offered some to the king. He took some cheese and nibbled on it absent-mindedly, keeping his eyes on the offending door.

Pawn was sitting beside him, watching the door too. Fergus could not help but laugh at the similarities between the dog and Alistair right now, though he felt guilty when Alistair transferred his gaze to him and shot out the only word that he was apparently capable of at this moment.

"What?"

Fergus shook his head but still grinned at his bewildered face.

Alistair frowned slightly and reached for another piece of cheese.

"I just remembered about that time when you wanted to put cheese in everything while we were cooking one night at camp, Alistair," Leliana's sweet voice cut in.

"He tried to put cheese in the food you were cooking?" Fergus asked, knowing the story well, but was hoping that Alistair would focus on the conversation, than on the noises coming from the other side of the door at the moment.

"We were having rabbit stew, and he wanted to put a large piece of cheese in it," Leliana giggled.

"Eww," was Fergus's comment.

Alistair snorted. "Everything tastes better with cheese," he said, sounding slightly offended and popped the last piece of cheese he was holding in his mouth.

Fergus smiled. Alistair was finally relaxing a little.

Teagan entered the room they were in, and his questioning glace fell on Alistair, who shook his head and sighed.

Teagan sighed as well and sat next to Alistair. "Kaitlyn is making sure Heather eats her dinner. She'll be here shortly." Alistair nodded and smiled.

The screaming started again and Alistair shot up, determined this time to get through the damn door, even if he had to bring it down by force. As he moved towards it, another sound, a new one floated through the air and reached his ears, making him stop still in his tracks.

The sound of a baby crying.

More screams and then...the sound of another baby crying joined with the baby that was already crying.

Wait! TWO babies? Maker's breath!

"Twins!" Fergus laughed.

Alistair's eyes widened when he realized that and then, after several minutes, slowly, oh, so very slowly, the door was finally unlocking and opening.

Anders stood there, grinning, as he held the door open for him.

And then, in a dream-like state, Alistair was suddenly standing before her as she lay on the bed, her long hair down and her flushed face smiling up at him. One tiny baby in her arms and the other in the midwife's.

In the same dream-like state, he gazed upon the babies-his babies and thought he had never seen anything so tiny or so perfect. He put out a hand carefully to the baby nearest him, gently touching the small hand and it grabbed one of his large calloused fingers, its tiny fingers curling around it tightly and strongly, its eyes closed shut.

He felt something wonderful tugging at his heart, filling it completely, and a gentle smile appeared on his face.

Tearing his eyes from the baby, he moved closer and sat on the bed quietly, leaning over his other child, watching as Alyssa opened her tunic to bring it to her breast. He watched in fascination as the baby sought the nipple and then caught it and started suckling.

He continued to watch quietly and reverently as the midwife took the child after it had fed and replace it with the other one who did the same with her other breast.

Alyssa looked radiantly happy. She beamed up at him.

He leaned over and gave her a gentle kiss.

"Twins," she murmured. "I hear that twins are a handful." She gave a short laugh.

"I'm here, I'll help every minute of the day and night," Alistair said truthfully.

Truth be told, wild horses would not tear him away from them, even if they could.

...

The crowd had been gathered for two days now, as they waited patiently for news.

The doors to the balcony above them suddenly opened, and the king appeared before them, carrying a bundle in his arms, his eyes tenderly on it. The queen appeared beside him, carrying another bundle. The crowd broke into cries and cheers.

A messenger called out and asked them to quiet down.

Teagan joined them on the balcony and cleared his throat to speak out to them all.

"Citizens of Ferelden. The King and Queen of Ferelden happily announce the birth of their twins: Prince Duncan Theirin and Princess Aurora Theirin. May the Maker bless them and keep them in good health."

The crowd cheered and went crazy. Alistair and Alyssa grinned and gazed into each other's eyes for a moment before they faced the crowd again and then left the balcony after a few moments.

Once inside they head off to the nursery, which was next to their room and gently set each of the twins into their small cradles. Then they stood there, arms around each other, lovingly looking down at them.

They turned to the nurses that walked into the room and smiled, then walked out towards the banquet hall, where a group of nobles and their friends waited at the celebratory gathering to honor the birth of their children.

Alistair held her hand firmly in his all the way.

He never let go.

THE END