Disclaimer: I have no claim on Inception, lovely thing that it is.
May 5th, 2013: Wedding Day
July 23rd, 2013: Second Wedding Ceremony (Evening ceremony, Cobb property, California. Phillipa really wanted to be a flower girl.)
November 14th, 2013: The Day Eames Tricked A Woman Into Marrying Him (Julian and Anuli's wedding, Cape Town. Be nice, Arthur.)
August 2nd, 2014: Henry Dominic Hamilton; 7 lbs, 4 oz. (10 fingers, 10 toes, 2 ears, utterly perfect)
February 12th, 2015: Michel Philippe Eames, 8 lbs, 1 oz.
October 24th, 2016: Beatrice Graves Hamilton, 8 lbs, 7 oz. (Lovely little thing. We call her "Bea," Henry calls her "Bebe")
November 13th, 2016: Dayo Aidan Eames, age 5, comes home (Adopted from Ethiopia)
March 17th, 2018: Ariadne wins design competition for Dubai Modern Art Museum (Guess what isn't fun—building a museum with a 1- and a 3-year-old. Arthur took some time off.)
July 21st, 2019: Museum receives Aga Khan Award for Architecture
December 24th, 2020:
Ariadne was rifling through Arthur's desk looking for a set of toy cars she'd stashed there earlier in the month when she came across the list. She'd seen it a few times over the years and added her own notes, but was always amused to find it again. She found it interesting that in Arthur's mind, all of their life success related to babies and architecture, when he'd had some successes of his own.
He and Eames had formally formed a partnership in January of 2014, a couple months after Eames had gotten married, and just after Ariadne had discovered that she was pregnant. It was something both men had discussed idly over the years, but apparently taking a dive into the marriage-and-family pool made them want something more stable. They were coming up on six years of working together in that capacity, and neither was dead yet, which Ariadne considered a great success.
She shut the drawer she'd found the list in and opened another. She could hear voices from the second floor, and knew that if she didn't find the cars soon, they wouldn't make it into Henry's stocking and then what would she do with them? But—ah—there they were. She dashed for the living room and shoved them into her son's already bulging stocking, then jumped when the Christmas tree to her left shook ominously and let out a yelp. Peeking into it, she saw not just Crash, but both cats clinging to the trunk of the Douglas fir.
"Oh, for crying out loud…" She knew from experience that her arms were too short for successful cat-tree extraction, and went to intercept Arthur where he was with the kids. It was Ella's first Christmas with them, and the last thing she wanted was for the girl to have to witness a repeat of last year's accidental tree fire.
Arthur was descending the stairs in a crowd of children, chattering away in French and English. Much had changed about their life in the ten years they'd been together. They had kept their flat in Paris, but had made their primary residence in the countryside, not far from where Stephen and François Miles lived. The house wasn't huge, but it was a much better fit for a family of four than the flat had been. This year, however, Henry had started school in the city, and they'd spent more time there. The longtime resident of the flat just above theirs had recently passed away, and they had decided to buy it and connect the two. It was the first real-world design project she had taken on since the Dubai museum (she found she still loved designing for dreams most of all), and she was having a good time. It was also the first thing she'd designed for their family.
Ariadne reached out the take Bea from Arthur and said simply, "Could you check the tree please?" He nodded with understanding and left them. Ariadne shifted her daughter on her hip and looked to the other two kids, practically shaking in their excitement to get to the living room. "Papa's going to make sure Santa's all finished up in there. Does anybody want some juice?"
They didn't of course, they wanted presents, but the promise of "just one glass, then it's time for presents" swayed them. She may also have offered a bribe of chocolate bells. Ella adored chocolate bells. The girl had come to stay with them about 3 months before, an orphan at 10, much as Ariadne had been at 12. She and Arthur had talked it back and forth for years, more so after Eames and Anuli brought Dayo home, but had finally asked Anuli for advice about it the previous fall. She had plumbed the depths of her non-profit contacts and found what she thought was a good fit for them—shy, bookish Ella. She'd been with them since September, and they had started the paperwork to adopt her permanently. She'd decided to take their last name, and would be Ella Juliette Hamilton. Another name and date on Arthur's little list.
A shout from the next room gave the all-clear, and the juice was abandoned as the three kids ran from the kitchen. Ariadne followed, and watched in amusement as Crash flopped down belly-up in the face of so much potential affection. The smaller cat, Io (which had been Bea's choice of all things—they had been working their way through a storybook of Greek myths), was still in Arthur's arms. She was much more timid and reacted to the stampede of children by clawing her way up his chest and perching, terrified, on his shoulder.
The look he cast her was unamused, and she swallowed a laugh.
"Ariadne, where is your sock? And the sock of Arthur?" Ella inquired. She had only spoken French when she moved in, and despite the fact that they all spoke it fluently, she had requested, and Ariadne had agreed to teach her English. It seemed she had a knack for languages, and it was coming along very well.
She reached out a hand to ruffled the girl's honey curls. "We don't have them, chou chou. Only the children. Our gifts are under the tree. We usually open from oldest to youngest, so why don't you grab your stocking?"
Henry made a face like he was going to protest, since he had always been the oldest, but Arthur stopped him with a frown. Introducing a brand-new older sibling into a family wasn't something you expected your kids to adjust to easily, but all told, they were doing a pretty grand job of it. Small pouts aside. Henry's eyes lit up devilishly as Ariadne watched, and she imagined that he'd just remembered that the Eames family would be by later for dinner, which meant Michel and Dayo, Henry's idol, would be there, which meant delicious retribution against the girls. Ariadne caught Arthur's gaze and rolled her eyes. He grinned back. He'd seen his son's face light up, too.
Arthur removed the Io claws from his neck, placed her in the kitchen, and then came back to settle on the sofa with Ariadne. He draped an arm around her shoulder, and they sat back to watch their kids open presents. Henry was dark-haired, dark-eyed, and lanky, with skinny little limbs. Ariadne imagined he'd look much like Arthur one day. Bea's hair had been an inexplicable white blonde all through her short life, though at four years, it was darkening to something approaching caramel. She was a mite of a thing, although already taller than Ariadne had been at her age. Ariadne had a sneaking suspicion that she would spend her life being the shortest one in this family. Ah, well. Ella said her mother had been small, so perhaps she'd have company.
She placed her hand on Arthur's knee and leaned to rest her head in the hollow of his neck. "Did you ever imagine we'd have this, ten years ago?"
"Never. Did you?"
She smiled. "Not even my imagination was that good. I think we've managed to assemble a pretty great family, though," she observed as Bea removed a chocolate bell from her stocking and generously offered it to Ella. The older girl's love of them was no secret.
A forlorn cry startled the little company on the floor, and Henry lifted the toe of his empty stocking to find that Crash had gotten his face stuck inside it. The kids dissolved into laughter.
Arthur chuckled, too. "And just think: it all started with an idiotic cat."
Ariadne laughed. "Oh, God."
April 14th, 2020: Ella Juliette Hamilton is ours.
November 2nd, 2020: Henry spells every word on his quiz correctly. (Guess who insisted that this be included?)
January 6th, 2021: Chantou Eloise Eames comes home. (Adopted from Cambodia.)
August 28th, 2023: Phillipa Cobb enters La Sorbonne. (She frequently comes over for Sunday dinners. Ella adores her.)
August 24th, 2025: James Cobb enters Stanford University. (This was something of a tug-of-war. Miles wanted him to come to Paris like his sister, but James is definitely a California boy. He still visits every summer.)
The list, and life, goes on, and on, and on, and on…
a/n: And that's that. This more closely resembles the epilogue I had planned initially. I like babies, and I like to tie up loose ends. So, you know. And I think Arthur very definitely is the type to keep lists upon lists of important events.
For the record, because I am the sort of person who thinks of these things: I am predicting a James/Ella pairing, and perhaps a Dayo/Bea one. Make of that what you will.
I hope the fic has lived up to everyone's expectations! It's certainly far and away from what I initially planned to write, but that's okay. Who knows, perhaps I will return to write snapshots of the A+A family life someday. We'll see!
A gigantic thank you to everyone who has discovered this little story along with me. Thank you for reading, for reviewing, for being faithful and honest with me. I could not have finished this without you. I tried to respond to every review I received, though I know I didn't always succeed. If you reviewed and didn't get a personal response, it wasn't because I didn't read it or appreciate it. Y'all are the best of the best! Now go on and have a happy new year-and keep an eye out for new stories! They are brewing. :D