"Philip... We're going to have a baby."
You're all amazing. Thanks for hanging in there for all this time! We're approaching the end of my story, now... don't be too sad!
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I could hear blood drumming in my ears as the sudden shock overwhelmed me.
"Oh, he looks like he's going to pass out." Commented Erin, sardonically.
I thought we had been left alone.
A hoard of sisters tumbled into the cavern, all whispering excitedly to each other and I leaned against the rock behind my back, knowing full well that if I had legs right now, they would be shaking like leaves... or kicking each sister out of the cavern as fast as they could.
"Philip, calm down... You're causing a tsunami." Claudia instructed me, pulling me away from the wall.
I stuttered a few syllables and Syrena sighed, "Girls... could you...?"
Claudia straightened up and pointed to the exit, "Absolutely. Come on, give them some more time to talk, please."
There was a round of disappointed grumbles before they filed out of the cavern, leaving me alone with my pregnant... mermaid.
Oh, good grief. I had got a mermaid pregnant!
I suppose I should have felt sorry for procreating outside the legal bonds of marriage but... I'd already had this discussion in my head when I first decided to be with Syrena – and it was all fine, right?
Well... however I was supposed to feel... it didn't matter. It wouldn't change anything.
"Are you... alright?" She asked, suddenly concerned.
"No." I admitted, drifting towards her bedside and when I sensed her worry increase, I placed my fingers on her cheek.
"You're not?" She asked, not in the least bit surprised as her fingers combed through my hair.
"Well... I'm overwhelmed." I told her, "But I'm happy."
I saw her let out a relieved breath before bringing her hand to rest on my neck, "You're happy?"
"Of course I am. I'm going to be a father!" I leaned down and kissed her lips, "And you're going to make one amazing mother, Syrena."
"What makes you so sure?" She asked, her brow creasing.
"I just know." I told her, the certainty clear in my voice.
"Well... maybe you won't be so happy when you realise we have to tell my Father." She looked up at me, smirking.
"Oh." I said, simply.
Supporting her back as she sat up, I came to sit on the edge of her flower bed.
"Honestly, it won't be that bad." But even she didn't sound too convinced.
For some reason, I didn't feel better at all...
"Okay. No, it'll be fine. I'm sure your Father won't be too mad that I got his favourite daughter pregnant."
Rolling her warm brown eyes, she lightly shoved my shoulder, "Don't be stupid. For one – I'm not his favourite daughter. Elaine is. For two – he'll be pleased. I'm sure of it."
"Well, alright. But when do we go see him?" I asked, still not reassured in the slightest.
"Tomorrow." She shrugged, "If you want. I mean... it's not like we have long before the baby's born."
Oh? "How... how long, exactly?"
She looked up at me and let loose a small laugh, "I sometimes forget you've only just become a merman..."
My jaw twitched tentatively, "So... how long do I have before I'm a Father, Syrena?"
"Well... about... a week. Eight days to be exact."
My heart stopped dead.
She was joking.
She had to be joking.
A week?! That was... impossible!
"A week." I repeated, faintly.
Her fingers slid down my arm and rested on my wrist, "Eight days. Yes, Philip. Look... I know it's hard to accept. I don't even know why it's only a week. Maybe it'd be different if I conceived it in human form – but this baby was conceived in water."
"What makes you so sure?" I asked, hoping that I'd have a little extra time to prepare for a baby.
I mean... a week!
It was completely and utterly absurd!
"Because I just know... Stop asking stupid questions."
Then I felt something else consume me. The feeling was entirely alien.
The blood bond.
I glanced at Syrena and her eyes had closed, her temple throbbing.
"Syrena?" I ran my fingers through her hair, "What's happening?"
But I could feel myself wavering and I knew it wasn't just my emotions, "You're not ready, are you?" I asked, cupping her cheek as she drew her lower lip beneath her perfect white teeth.
Drifting over her, I took a hold of both her hands and stretched out behind her on the bed. Bringing her to rest in my arms, I kissed her hair, "Syrena, I know you'll be fine."
"No, you don't." She replied, quietly, "Unless you can see into the future – you have no idea."
Managing to smile against the back of her neck, I whispered, "Are you sure I never told you I was a psychic?"
I felt her body twist around and her face came level with mine, her beautiful brown eyes wide and frightened, "Philip, this isn't a joke. I'm not in the slightest bit ready to be a Mother. I have one week to prepare. They say it's the worst week of a mermaid's life. My cousins have children but not my sisters. Some clans are more orientated on families rather than just the actual... event."
Smiling gently at her, I spoke, "Both are completely beautiful things. The mating is beautiful – and having a family is beautiful. You are beautiful, Syrena."
"But already I'm showing." She complained and I drew away from the warmth of her body to look at her stomach..
Dipping my head down, I placed a small kiss against the small bump, "Well, I think it looks beautiful."
She took hold of my shoulders and pulled me up to face her again, "Philip... tell me truthfully... Are you... alright with this? Are you happy?"
"I've never been happier." I told her, earnestly.
It was true. I was going to be a Father in a week. I was going to have a beautiful baby!
Okay... sure I never expected to have a child with flippers as feet... but I shouldn't be picky, should I?
"Are you still going to be happy when I tell you it means no mating for at least another three weeks?"
Well, I wasn't expecting that.
I suddenly felt my merman hormones surge through my body, "What about once... now?"
The way she bit her lip was more than inviting and the immediate rush of desire I felt coursing through my veins was almost overpowering my whole body. Forcing myself to remain still, she shook her head, "No. I don't really feel up to it."
Leaning my head forwards, I brushed her skin with my lips, "So... why are your eyes red?"
"Because I'm a mermaid and I thrive off pleasure..." She clicked her tongue, rolling her crimson filled eyes, "But I don't feel like it right now, Philip."
"Alright..." I shrugged, "We'll just have to wait, I guess."
Her hand rested on my chest and I almost thought she was going to change her mind, when she slipped into an exhausted slumber.
Come to think of it... I was feeling sort of sleepy myself.
Before I knew it, I too had joined Syrena in a blissful sleep.
If there was one thing I learned about being a merman, it was to expect change in how I felt from one minute to the next.
Emotions were so complex and rapid as a merman, it was difficult to control. As a human, I was able to know how I was feeling.
For example, if something good happened – I was happy. If something bad happened – I was upset.
But as a merman, if something good happened – I might be happy, confused, smug, and a whole load of other emotions I didn't even know existed all in one! Sometimes it was great... but other times, it wasn't.
However... the one thing I learned about living with a pregnant mermaid was that their emotions were even worse.
It was on this particular morning that I woke up to see Syrena sitting on the edge of the flowerbed, staring at the cavern walls, that pained expression twisting each of her features – and I could feel how she felt.
I had never felt so low in my life, so I couldn't imagine exactly how she felt.
But the second I asked her what was wrong, she turned around, a huge smile plastered on her face, eyes as bright as the moon and the elation I felt within myself made me believe I could soar way above the sky.
Blood bonds weren't so bad, after all!
But then – then Syrena had a much better plan in mind. Her fangs lengthened and she dragged them down my neck, sucking the blood from my skin, causing me to feel such intense pleasure that my eyes must have rolled into the back of my head at least five times in that small moment.
Finally! I wrapped my arms about her, prepared for a wonderful lovemaking session when she pushed me back down onto the flowerbed and retreated to the other end of the cavern, horror curtaining her face.
"What is it?" I asked, sensing her sudden alarm.
"I can't do this! I already told you I'm not ready! Philip, we spoke about this last night! I'm pregnant! What are you trying to do to me?" Suddenly, she launched her body at me and I clenched the flowers with my fingers, utterly aghast.
Winding her arms speedily about my neck, I was sure she was about to kill me.
Her head nestled into my shoulder and she kissed my neck, "I'm sorry for shouting. I love you. Let's go tell my Father the great news. We're having a baby, Philip!"
Feeling a little – okay... very dubious as to what I should do next, I gingerly placed my hand on the small of her back, "Wonderful idea. But maybe first you ought to... take a break."
She flinched, hurt, "What? I'm fine."
"Oh, of course. I know you are. If you're wanting to go see your father, we should do it now, right?"
"He'll kill you. Oh my word, Philip! You got me pregnant! He's going to hate you!"
I couldn't cope with this.
I couldn't cope with it for a second longer.
Being a merman meant my patience wasn't the most dominant quality I held in my arsenal. Recognising the irritation rise in my body, I straightened up, "Syrena, you stop this right now. You're making me dizzy with your sudden mood swings! I can't – I can't do this!"
I swam towards the opening of the cavern, small whirlpools circling my clenched fists when I felt two hands touch my shoulder.
I stopped and looked up, "Wha–"
"–Be quiet." Claudia stared hard at me, "We need to talk."
Submissively, I bowed my head and followed her from the cavern as though I was a misbehaving child.
I was going have a child.
My goodness, I wasn't ready for this.
"Listen, Philip," Claudia interrupted my chaotic train of thought and slapped my cheek to regain my attention, "you need to understand something. Being pregnant isn't easy. The emotions you get are incredible. You're happier than you've ever been one second – and the next, you've never felt so bad in your entire life."
"Well, you're talking as if it's me who's pregnant." I told her, attempting a smile – but Claudia really wasn't that impressed.
"Syrena is struggling. She needs you to maintain your equilibrium so she can maintain hers."
"How do I do that?"
"You're focusing too much on how she feels. If you keep calm at all times, she'll sense that through the blood bond and it'll help relax her. You need to learn how to do this – especially towards the end of her pregnancy. It'll only get worse."
'Only get worse.'
Oh, kill me now.
"How can I help her when she's running circles around me? I've never felt so confused in my whole life!" I grumbled, suddenly noticing just how bewildered I actually was.
"See – now that's probably Syrena. She's probably confused as to why you aren't back in the cavern with her yet." Claudia said, off-handedly, "You need to learn to separate your emotions from hers. It's hard but you're a merman now. You'll find things become much easier to control if you learn how. But she needs you. Believe me... she's going through a lot more than you can fathom." She trailed off, her voice bitter and pained.
"What? How do you know what she's going through? I know you're this high-up, knowledgeable prodigy or something," I could hear my voice increasing its volume and the anger bubbling up within me, "but how can you possibly understand what any of this is like?! You don't get how hard it is! So–"
"–Enough." Claudia barely even flexed a muscle, but the authority rang in her tones and I bowed my head once more, feeling the annoyance subside, "I know more than you think I do. I understand it's hard. But you're gong to have to cope with it. It's just for a week. Besides, Syrena really wants to visit Father. So, you'll take her there as soon as you get back to the cavern. Do I make myself clear?"
I nodded, obediently.
"Good." She spoke, her voice harsh, "Don't lose your head, Philip."
"I'll only lose it if your Father chops it off... which I don't think is impossible at all."
"Just stop talking..." She told me, firmly.
Then without another word, she span around and swam off towards her own cavern.
I was about to turn back to Syrena, but became suddenly aware of a presence behind me.
I knew exactly who it was – and it wasn't Syrena.
"Yes, Cynthia?" I asked, not bothering to face her. I couldn't be bothered to owe her that pleasure...
"You knew it was me?" She asked, acidity powering her tone, "How very clever. But of course – you're a merman now. So smart... so strong... so handsome..."
One finger pressed against my back and I swivelled around, catching her arm in my hand, "You'll leave both me and Syrena alone or next time, I'll snap this off."
Her full lips pouted, "Oh, that's not what I like to hear. All I wanted to do was congratulate you on getting my darling sister pregnant. It didn't take long, did it? Well, I'm just itching to see my new niece or nephew – personally, I think it's going to be a girl. You should call it Cynthia after me."
Pulling my lips back over my teeth, I growled, "If we're naming her after you, I think 'bitch' would be more appropriate."
She placed a hand over her mouth and gasped, "What an awful thing to say! Philip – I thought you were supposed to be a do-gooder. I'm sure your god wouldn't want you using words like that, would he? Shame on you."
"I think he'll make an exception just this once. Now leave me alone." I sped forwards to the cavern where Syrena was sitting down on the bed, her shoulders slack and face pale.
Draping an arm around her, I kissed her head, "I'm sorry for leaving."
"No... I don't blame you. You can go ahead. I'm a miserable–"
"–Hush. I don't want anymore talk of this. You know why? Because I can hardly wait to tell your Father the excellent news. Come on, let's go."
She managed a small, slow smile, "Sometimes, Philip, I don't think I deserve you."
"Sometimes, Syrena, I want to throw you out a metaphorical window."
It was a risky thing to say to her at a time like this, but luckily, she just laughed and took my hand, "Well, It's a good job there aren't any metaphorical windows around."
I'd decided that it'd be a long swim for Syrena to do when in the state she was in. So, I'd managed to catch a beluga whale for us to ride on – and fortunately, the beluga didn't mind at all.
At least... that's what Syrena said.
She was making soft clicks and whistles to the white whale and running her fingers along the side of its head.
"You know, Philip. Shark hunting is ridiculous."
"What makes you say that?" I asked, raising my eyebrows.
She shrugged, "It's just pointless. You know... most fish in the sea will do what you ask them to, anyway. But mermen have this idea that if you force a whale or shark to do your bidding, it makes them these all-powerful beings. Personally, I prefer asking."
She took hold of my hand and brought it to the side of the beluga, "Look."
Running my hand along its side, I felt it give what I assumed to be a happy shudder and it moved faster towards our destination.
"Wow." I murmured.
"Yeah." She leaned back against my chest and sighed.
I felt quiet repose wash over me and I knew Syrena was at peace.
I had to remember this emotion.
I had to store it in my mind just in case she changed... which was highly likely.
"You know... it's at times like this when I realise why your name is Syrena."
"Why?" She asked and I shrugged.
"Because you're so serene."
"Your name should be 'original'... You know how many people use that joke on me?"
Here came the change.
Kissing her neck, I mumbled, "We're nearly there, I think."
Momentarily distracted, she nodded, "Yes – we're very close. Oh, Philip, I am a little nervous as well as excited."
"I know." I replied, "But it'll be wonderful."
"Right." She sounded completely uncertain and I gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze, determined not to let her sense my own doubts.
"See, look. Here we are."
The beluga stopped outside the huge, grand cavern and I assisted Syrena into the entrance, suppressing any fears I had at that moment in time.
Almost as soon as we arrived, a huge booming voice greeted us, "Syrena! I was wondering when you'd visit again, my dear child!"
She managed a weak smile as her Father powered towards us, "Come, let us sit down!"
He barely even noticed her precariousness as he welcomed us into his cavern, "And it's marvellous to see you too, Philip."
"Thank you, Sir."
"I've already told you to call me Theodore – or even Father, if you want!"
His over-enthusiasm was a little unnerving.
"Thank you... Theodore." I replied to which he sent me a hearty grin.
"Now, what brings you two lovebirds here today?"
Syrena faltered and avoided her father's eye. Reaching over, I took her hand in mine and Theodore observed this gesture and his happy smile slowly began to fade, "What is it?"
"Well... I have news."
"Good news?" He asked, tentatively.
Sending him a shrug, Syrena sighed.
"What is it? Tell me. Is it Elaine? Is someone hurt?"
"Hey, what's going on, Syrena? It's good to see you!" Adam drifted towards us and then placed a hand on my shoulder, "Good to see you too, Philip. What's happening?"
Theodore was concentrating on his daughter's face, nervously, "Syrena has news."
"Good news?" Adam asked, brightly.
"Well, I don't know. She's not talking." The king set his jaw, "Come on, Syrena."
Although Syrena looked a little downcast and worried, I could sense her positivity.
She was enjoying keeping her father in pure anticipation.
What a little minx
"Well... it's just that... you're – you're going to be a grandfather." She smiled affectionately at Theodore who widened his eyes, dramatically.
"I'm – I'm what?! Oh, joyous day! Who is with child? Is Claudia pregnant again?"
But she didn't have a child.
Well... clearly not if Syrena just announced that Theodore was going to be a grandfather.
Well... I was sure Syrena would explain that to me later.
"No..." Syrena hesitated, "...I am."
His eyebrows rose so high above his eyes, it looked as though they would reach the surface.
"Are you?" Then his searching eyes landed on me and I felt awfully exposed and vulnerable, "I suppose you are responsible for this, are you?"
Stumbling over my words, I replied, "Well – I certainly h-hope so, Sir – Theodore. Sorry..."
The sheer shock painted on his face was soon washed away and his open mouth morphed into a huge beam, "I'm going to have a grandchild!"
"What?" Adam blinked, craning his neck over my shoulder, "What did he say?"
"I'm going to be a grandfather!"
"What? Is Claudia pregnant again?" Adam asked, and I realised just how similar he was to his father.
"No... Syrena is!"
His face fell and he turned to look at me with pursed lips.
Defensively, I held my hands out, "Hey – don't look at me. I wasn't completely to blame."
Syrena laughed and moved to my side, "Adam, you're going to be an uncle."
Then a small, slow smile worked its way onto his face before he punched my arm, lightly, "Nice going, Philip. I'm going to be an uncle!"
"Who's going to be an uncle?" Henry poked his head into the cavern, interestedly.
"I am! You are! We all are!" Adam replied, excitedly.
Henry cupped his hand around his mouth and called out into the deep, "Hey, we're going to be uncles!"
There was a sudden babble of voices and a small crowd of mermen tumbled into the grand cavern, bombarding questions onto their brother, and the most common one seemed to be, "Who's pregnant?"
"Syrena, of course!" Adam told them, "Where's Symon? His face is going to be hilarious."
"I'm here." Symon's dark voice erupted from behind them, "Where's that runt of a merman?"
I was not in the mood to be entertaining idiots right then.
Turning around, I caught Symon by the arm, "This is a really happy moment for me. Come any closer and you're going to ruin my day. If you ruin my day, I'll ruin your whole life."
There was a chorus of cheers as Symon glanced about him, bitterly.
"Fine." He spun around and moved towards the exit, leaving a small cloud of bubbles behind him.
I looked over at Syrena who was smiling through tired eyes. Tapping the king on the shoulder, I spoke, "Theodore, I fear she may be over exerting herself. Perhaps I should take her back."
"Theodore? I insist you call me Father! My Syrena expecting! But you're absolutely right. Take her home. Keep her happy and well. It's not easy being pregnant."
"Why, have you been pregnant, Father?" I asked, smirking.
He looked at me with a creased brow before bursting into peals of laughter, "I'm glad it's you, Philip. I'd much prefer you to be the father than Symon."
"I whole-heartedly agree."
I was receiving pats on the back and then I wrapped my arm around Syrena's shoulders, kissing her head, "Come on, Syrena. Let's go."
She nodded into my chest, "You read my mind."
"One of my many talents." I murmured, "It's been wonderful to see you all. Please come visit us in about a week or so."
There was a round of agreement before I finally decided it was time to get out of the cavern.
Syrena was completely exhausted and I was feeling really tired myself.
As we made an exit, Syrena clicked her tongue and whistled. Before I knew it, the beluga had returned and we climbed aboard.
Pressing herself against my chest, Syrena sighed, "Oh, I don't know if I can take another week of this..."
"Oh, that reminds me... what did your father mean when he asked if Claudia was pregnant again?"
"Didn't I tell you?" She asked, a little breathlessly.
I shook my head, "No."
"She was pregnant, but the baby died about five days into the pregnancy."
I kept quiet for a moment, feeling guilty.
"What is it?" She asked, resting her fingers on the back of my hands.
I exhaled, "It's just... I was talking to Claudia earlier and she was telling me how hard it is for you and that I needed to be there for you and everything... and I got angry and asked her what she knew about it. She seemed a bit annoyed... well, very annoyed, but she didn't say why. I expect I ought to apologise the next time I see her."
"Yes... It's made her scared to attach herself to others in case she loses them too..."
I nodded, understanding exactly how she felt.
"Slightly unrelated question here, but what do you want to call the baby?" The excitement of the prospect of me being a father was really starting to get to me.
"If it's a girl... Iris. I would name her after my Mother, but I don't feel that she can ever be replaced... I'm not sure... I think it'd be nice to have a reminder of her, but at the same time, it would... hurt. But if it's a boy... probably Theodore after Father. What about you?"
"For a boy... I would like James after my Father. But I do like Iris. I like Iris a lot for a girl. My mother's name was Alyssa, after the flower."
"They're beautiful names. Do you want it to be a girl or a boy?" She asked, curiously.
Well, I had to be honest, "A boy. It would be nice to have a male around. I think all the mermaid hormones are rubbing off on me."
She laughed and lightly slapped my arm, "Well, I hope it's a girl."
"Definitely going to be a boy, though." I insisted, smirking.
"Oh, you wish. It'll be a girl. Trust me."
Shrugging, I responded, "Whatever keeps you happy. But it will be a boy."
She settled against me, about to reply before she clutched her stomach in agony.
Alarmed, I straightened up, "Is everything okay?"
She nodded and relaxed, "Yes... I just sometimes get sudden pains. It's normal Claudia says. I just really don't think I can do another day never mind over a whole week..."
"Be thankful you're not a human... you'd have to cope with it for nine months."
"Really?" She asked, "I bet they don't feel like this."
"Who knows? Well... I intended it to be a comforting statement, anyway."
Her laugh was no longer chiming but a soft breath, "Thanks... it was very... comforting."
"That's also one of my many talents."
"Well... after all this, I really want to see the rest of your many talents."
Kissing her cheek, I replied, smiling, "Oh, believe me. You will."
I wasn't going to lie. That was the hardest week of my life.
Give me Blackbeard again.
Give me anything.
Anything but a turbulent, hormonal, pregnant mermaid!
Fair enough, I was fairly sure she was going through worse. I welcomed work the next Tuesday. Syrena was due tomorrow and I really needed a small break. I did offer to stay and look after her, but she quite literally forced me to come to work.
It was nice to be around someone who remained in a calm state constantly just for a few hours.
I was looking forwards to going back to Syrena, but I wasn't looking forwards to her throwing another rock at my head... or pushing me out the bed every night...
Wiping my hands on the dirty rag, I turned to the blacksmith, "All done."
"Listen, do you think you could come back tomorrow, Swift?" He asked, placing his hammer down and I nodded without thinking.
"Of course – same time?"
"Yes. That would be great." Then he turned to the door and shook his head, "Sorry, Miss, we're all closing up."
I turned and saw Claudia standing in a long coat at the door, "I need Philip. His... sister is about to have the baby."
"You have a sister?" The blacksmith asked me, raising his eyebrows.
"Apparently." I replied, faintly.
But the baby was early!
"I – I don't think I can come in to work tomorrow... or the day after. Maybe you could give me a couple of weeks off... if that's alright?"
Shaking his head, the blacksmith laughed, "Go on to her. It's fine. Just come back when you're ready, Philip. You know I always have a place for you to work here."
Grasping firmly onto his hand, I smiled, "Thanks a lot."
"Now, go on. You don't want to miss her having the baby." He gave me a knowing grin, "Being a Father isn't easy. But your secret is safe with me."
Uneasily, I nodded, "Thank you."
Then I turned and ran towards Claudia who was waiting impatiently, "Oh, hurry up. She's in a state and needs us."
I didn't doubt it.
"Where is she?"
"By the cliffs."
"What? Why?" I asked, following her out the door. I don't think I've ever ran so fast in my life!
She didn't reply until we stopped by a secluded clearing in the cliffs.
"Because we don't lay eggs like other fish. We have to give birth as though we are humans. The children do come out with legs, but you have to put them in water within the next few minutes or they'll die."
Oh, well that was news.
"He's here!" Claudia grabbed my arm and pushed me to the small gathering of mermaids.
Erin was sitting beside Syrena, wincing as she gripped onto her arm.
"Philip!" Syrena gasped, "Please."
I supported her back with my arm and her nails tore down my arms, breaking the skin.
I could feel almost exactly what she was going through. Damn the blood bond...
I clamped my teeth down on my lip, screwing my eyes shut, "Come on. You can do it, Syrena."
I expected her to be screaming or crying or something, but she just remained almost silent, bearing the pain.
I could feel my love for her expanding as she just pushed with all her might.
Come on baby James! You can do it!
After several minutes of encouragement, heavy breathing, and a lot of pain, I heard a small sort of squeak.
Looking down, I saw Claudia supporting the head of a small baby.
Please be a boy, please be a boy!
"Get her in the water." Claudia instructed to Erin who nodded and cradled the baby in her arms, "Oh, she's beautiful!"
Although I was slightly disappointed, I still felt indescribably happy. I was a father!
Kissing Syrena on her cheek, I smiled, "Welcome to the world Iris Alyssa."
"I... I told you it was... going to be... a girl..." She sighed, and the exhaustion in her eyes was so clear that I was about to sit her up before her fingers tightened on my arm.
"What is it?" I asked, alarmed.
"I... I think..." She began, cutting herself off, biting her lip.
Claudia widened her eyes, "There's another?"
Syrena's arm reflexively wound about my neck and I was fairly sure she had every intention of breaking it.
Again, I felt a clenching at my stomach and I attempted to keep myself from doubling over with the pain.
I watched Syrena drop her head back, eyes rolling upwards,
"Come on, Syrena. You can do it! I know you can."
"There's another one?"
"What's going on?"
Voices surrounded us and I felt irritation spark, "Just give her a minute!" I told them as her grip on my neck tightened.
Then a similar squeak to the last one sounded and I looked down seeing a baby covered in blood and other bodily fluids
Claudia whisked the baby away and passed it to Erin, "Get him into the water!"
I inwardly punched the sky, a huge beam spreading on my lips, "And welcome to the world, James Theodore... Hey, Syrena. I told you it'd be a boy." I smiled, a little smugly but I don't think she heard me.
She had completely passed out in my arms and I picked her up, "I'll go clean her up. Take care of the babies. We'll be back soon."
Holding her against my chest, I waded into the crystal water, letting Syrena's sister's fight over who got to hold my children.
As I brought her towards her cavern and lay her down on her bed, I combed my fingers through her soft brown hair.
Her eyes peeked open, "I need to see them."
"Just rest now."
"But – I really want to see them. Bring them to me? And please only bring them..."
Nodding, I turned away after leaving a small kiss on her forehead, "You did brilliantly."
I swam back to the surface where all Syrena's sisters were passing my newborns back and forth, that scary, broody expression in their eyes.
"Excuse – excuse me." I tried to make my presence known over the loud babble.
Feeling irritation build within me as I watched them all ignore me completely, I shouted very clearly, "Syrena wants to see her children!"
There was a silence and humbly, but reluctantly, the babies were passed to me and unsure of what to do, I held one in each arm before nodding and swimming back down to the cavern.
"Who do you want to hold first? Iris?"
She nodded, weakly, holding her arms out. Carefully, I passed Iris over to her Mother, smiling tenderly at the way Syrena held our daughter.
In that moment, everything was good – right up until the point when I could feel that very same, unwanted presence I sensed earlier.
Clutching James tighter to my chest, I spun around, my teeth bore.
"Oh, calm down, Philip." Cynthia told me, a little spitefully, "I just want a word with my sister."
Bristling, I shook my head, "You aren't going anywhere near her."
Her fangs lengthened and I narrowed my eyes. Running a tongue down her smooth, white teeth, Cynthia drifted closer, "Get out. Just for a minute. I'm not going to hurt her."
I stayed at bay, awaiting my orders from Syrena.
"Philip, it's okay. Go. She won't hurt me. If she does, she'll have to answer to every one of my brothers, sisters, adopted family and of course, you."
"Fine. You just call me if you need me..." I growled, still keeping James safely in my arms. Making my way out of the cavern, I could hear Cynthia speaking softly.
Straining my ears, I listened in to the conversation and could hear just about everything from outside the cavern.
"Syrena... I just really want to say... congratulations. I'm... proud of you. What are their names?"
Cautiously, Syrena replied, "Iris Alyssa and James Theodore."
There was a gentle silence before Cynthia continued, "I couldn't see James properly... but Iris... she's beautiful. Really, congratulations."
"What's all this about?" Syrena asked, evidently suspicious.
"Look... I'm here to say... I'm sorry. Alright? I'm sorry. I've been unfair and unkind to you and I'm here to say I'm sorry. Will you forgive me? I can understand if not..." She blurted out, quickly.
There was a slight pause before I could feel Syrena warm towards Cynthia, "Yes, I'll forgive you."
"Thank you." Not two seconds later, Cynthia swam past me, not bothering to catch my eye, but I smirked at her all the same.
"So..." I began, moving back to Syrena's side, "...How are you feeling?"
Weighing this question out in her mind, she responded, "Good. I'm really good. How about you?"
Smiling at her, I thought about our accomplishments together. We had come a long way.
Although I was nowhere near completing my duties on this Earth, I looked down at our children and felt a rush of pure gratitude power through me, "Me too."
As I replied, I observed my new family and I knew this is how God intended it to be.
He wanted me to be happy.
And the truth was... I had never been happier.
There we have it! I'm sorry for the delays and stuff – but here is the complete Philip and Syrena story! I really hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Please, please, please review! Let me know how you feel and thank you all so much for your continued support! I really appreciate it!
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