A/N: I'm sorry about the long absence, school and life have just been kicking my butt lately, and I've also been working on my original novel (I'm in the process of looking for publishers, I can't believe I've gotten this far!). But now I'm back (oh dear Lord, help these poor people ;])! And I am ready to write again! I'm working on my other stories, but I thought I'd finish this for ya! Enjoy!
I'm in District 12 when it happens. Just sitting at the dinner table with Mother, Father, Annie, Luke, Hector, Jason, Asteria, and Finn. Over the past few months, my stomach has swelled to an incredible size. As if to protect it, I keep one hand on it at all times. But when I get my first contraction, I feel like I need to claw the baby out of me.
I double over in pain, and in no time I'm surrounded by everyone. Mother and Annie recognize what's happening to me, so they shout to someone to call Tereska and Ceres. I assume that it's Luke that does this, because everyone else is leading me to the nearest bedroom, which happens to be mine and Finn's. Finn and Mother lay me down on the bed, and Finn immediately grabs a chair and sits down next to me, one of his hands stroking back the hair on my forehead, the other in mine.
In no time, Tereska and Ceres run through the door. I'm surprised to see Celeste with them. She can't stand anything that has to do with hospitals because she's terrified of blood. Ceres, on the other hand, inherited her mother's talents. But I suppose, like Grandmother says, healers are born and not made.
The pain becomes almost unbearable, but I try to keep my screaming to a minimum. I don't want Asteria to have any memories of me cursing up a storm, and I don't want to do that to Finn either. I lock eyes with Mother for a moment, and she nods her head slightly.
"Hector, Jason, Asteria, can you all please leave? If she's anything like I was while giving birth, you're not going to want to be within ten miles of her," she says, and Father laughs.
"No, you're definitely not," he says, looking down at his hand. Mother told me she broke Father's hand every single time she was in labor. Mother blushes as she too sees where Father's gaze is. "I said I was sorry," she mumbles. Father laughs right as I scream, unable to hold anything back. I haven't cursed yet, and I make a promise to myself that I won't.
My labor continues, and although I've let out unearthly screams, I'm coping better than Mother did. Finn stays by me, never letting go of my hand, and this comforts me. His strength is mine, and with it I can do this. I can bring our child into the world where we can finally see him or her.
Thinking of our baby helps me contain my screams. I know that she'll be beautiful, and I want her to have Finn's eyes, and his bronze hair. Of course, Finn told me he at least wants the baby to have my eyes. We both also think that the baby will be a girl. I know that Mother thought I was going to be a boy so adamantly, she never even considered the idea of a girl. She tells me that she's thankful that she had me first though, because of how I acted around Finn. All the adults say that Finn and I were joined at the hip from the time we first saw each other, and that gave Mother hope that all she was doing at the time was the right thing to do.
As another painful contraction hits, I crush down on Finn's hand. I've done a great job at not swearing at him, but I've followed in Mother's footsteps with the aspect that I probably broke his hand. He doesn't seem to notice at all though, or at least not mind. He simply stares at me and my stomach, occasionally giving me sips of water on Aunt Tereska's command. I try to be brave for his sake. I don't want to say something I don't mean in the heat of the moment.
My labor is surprisingly quick. After four hours, Ceres tells me I only have about an hour left. As I get a break in contractions, Mother looks at me accusingly.
"Only five hours?" she asks. "You put me through nine! Not to mention that I almost killed Peeta then… but I could've handled five hours! You get all the luck," she exclaims. Father and I both laugh wearily.
"Katniss, you were screaming things at me not even two hours into each time you went into labor. Don't even try to convince anyone you would've kept quiet for five," Father tells her. Mother glares at him, but the effect is slightly ruined due to the blush creeping up in her cheeks.
"Shut up," Mother mumbles. "You know I hate when you're right." That's enough to get everyone laughing again, even me.
The next hour goes by in a blur, and I'm shocked when Aunt Tereska tells me I've completely dilated. True enough, my next contraction hits as soon as the words pass her lips, and these rip through my thighs. I let out my worst scream, and I can almost hear the bones in Finn's hand snap as I crush it. My back arches off the bed, and then a second later I almost double over.
Finn gets off his chair at the speed of light, trying to calm my flailing legs down. He rubs them until I manage to get them to lie still, and soon after I rest my head back on the pillow. I know I can't be flailing now, because Tereska tells me it's time to start pushing.
Mother told me how she used to push, so I use that technique. Take a deep breath, push, then repeat. I do this a few times until Tereska announces that my baby's crowning. I give one final push, feel mounds of tension being released, and then flop back down onto the bed, suddenly exhausted.
There's a faint crying sound from the other end of the room, and Tereska and Ceres have their backs to me, hands busily working on something I can't see. In a couple seconds, they call Finn over.
"Finn, come over here. You get to cut the umbilical cord," Ceres says. Finn squeezes my hand gently, proving that I didn't break his hand. I'm so thankful for that.
I hear a faint snipping sound as the umbilical cord is cut, then a small, yellow, squirming blanket is placed in Finn's arms. His eyes glow as he looks down at it, drinking up the scene. He quickly walks over to me, never taking his eyes off the bundle until he gently lowers it into my waiting arms.
She has my hair. Thin wisps are all that's on the top of her small head, but the strands are as black as midnight. She opens her eyes up wide, traces of tears still there. I wipe them away with one finger, and stare into her sea green eyes. Eyes that are exactly like her father's.
Somehow, I manage to tear my eyes away from my daughter's face long enough to look at Finn. My face breaks out into the biggest smile I can manage, and Finn leans down close to me and kisses me gently.
"What do you think we should name her?" he asks after we break the kiss. I look down at my daughter again, and she grabs my pinky finger in her tiny hand. Her eyes are wide open as she calmly scans the room. Some of the names we've been talking about float in my head, but only one seems perfect for this tiny girl lying in my arms.
"There's Chryssa, Thalia, Zinnia," Finn says, rattling off some of the names we discussed. "But if it's alright with you, I personally think she looks like a Kalei."
"Yes," I say, my voice barely above a whisper. "She's a Kalei for sure. Hey there, pretty girl," I croon softly. "Are you ready to see your father again?"
With that, Finn lightly takes her out of my arms and cradles our daughter into his chest. With one finger, he softly and tenderly strokes her cheek. Mother peers over his shoulder at her.
"Oh, she's beautiful," Mother says. She holds her arms out, clearly asking Finn for permission to hold Kalei. Finn lets her, but I can tell that he's reluctant to let Kalei out of his arms. He compensates by sitting down again and taking my hand in both of his own.
Mother and Father both stare at Kalei like the true miracle she is. I loathe to close my eyes for even a minute, but my exhaustion fights against me. As I struggle to keep my eyes open, Kalei is placed back in my arms, eyelids concealing her sea green eyes. I place a soft kiss on her forehead, then hand her to Finn. Knowing that my daughter will safe with her father, I close my eyes.
Later that night, I wake up again and everyone is gone, even my daughter. Feeling very well rested, I stand up, wobble a bit, then head out the door.
The first room I come to is the kitchen, and while there's no one there, I see two figures out in the backyard. Peering through the kitchen window, I see Luke and Celeste, and they seem to be holding hands. I smile. Luke and Celeste have liked each other for years now, though they didn't want to admit it. All they would ever do was get in huge arguments over small things, but according to Mother, they fought like "an old married couple". I'm glad that they seem to have finally gotten together.
Leaving Luke and Celeste to have their moment, I go into the living room. Mother, Father, and Annie are watching something on the television, so I assume that Tereska and Ceres have gone home and the rest of my brothers and sister are all in bed.
When I arrive in the meadow, I see a sitting human silhouette. Coming closer, I see the familiar gleam of moonlight glimmering on bronze hair. Finn looks up as I approach, and gets a smile on his face that could have lit up the dark side of the moon.
"Well, hello there," he says in a warm voice. He shifts his body so that I can see he's holding something in his arms. Just a second later, the bundle is placed in my arms, and I look into my daughter's face.
She's even more beautiful than before. Her eyes take in the world around her and the small strands of black hair flutter in the slight breeze. I can't help but smile when I see her.
Closing the rest of the distance between myself and Finn, I stretch on my toes to kiss him. He breaks away after a few moment, and he stands by me. And finally, Finn, Kalei and I stand as a family.
A/N: Woot! Little Kalei! I finally think that I'm ready to give up the MLMFMHMDML storyline up completely (AS IF!), so there's a 99.99% chance there will be no more updates with this. But I've had fun doing it! I'm expecting to work on Love With No Regrets next, and then gathering up all my lost information for my SYOT (I hate it when the flashdrive with all that information breaks) so expect to hear from me soon! In the meantime, though, it would warm my heart if you would… you guessed it… REVIEW! Haha, see y'alls soon!