"Everything is fine Gwen. You won't need me anymore!
Gwen was happy yet unsure. Everything was different now. This would be the most life changing thing yet.
"Are you sure Gaius?"
Ever since she was young, Gwen dreamed of this moment. How exiting and exhilarating it might be. But now she was married to Arthur, everything seemed to be different than if he were an ordinary status man. She wanted to tell him the big news but – She was afraid. She was afraid that he would banish her from Camelot and make her swear on her life she'd never return.
"You're worried about Arthur." Gaius took hold of Gwen's soft hand and rubbed her on the shoulder.
"Gwen. I've known Arthur since he was born. I'm completely certain that he'll be overwhelmed with joy. You and I both know he is really a soft–heart on the inside!
"Thank you Gaius." Gwen smiled and hugged the physician without hesitation. But she still worried about her husband's reaction.
Gwen walked down the castle's hall with butterflies going crazy in her stomach. The word had come that Arthur had arrived from a private peace talk with another kingdom. She still couldn't believe what Gaius had told her. She felt a gentle poke on her back. "Merlin!" The man servant was grinning excitedly, clearly hiding something behind his back.
"Did you want something Merlin?"
"Actually I came to give you something."
From behind him he pulled out a fresh bunch of flowers. "Congratulations!" He walked towards her with his arms out wide, still grinning. They hugged each other; both giggling. These are for you. Gwen gazed at the violet flowers as if they were a puppy.
"Merlin, they're beautiful! Wait, how do you -?
"Gaius told me. I'm so happy for you Gwen!"
"Will Arthur feel the same? It's just that he never really talks about wanting children or this sort of thing."
It was true. The last time Arthur saw a child he shoved a sword in her face thinking she was an intruder! Although, he was very apologetic when the parents turned up. But this had always scared Gwen about Arthur mingling with the younger generation.
"When you tell him, he'll be the happiest man on this planet! I for one am overjoyed. Yet I am not even the farther. "
"Thank you Merlin. That really does mean a lot to me. Oh, and you never said – Why are you this happy?"
"I love babies! But never really get the opportunity to see them…"
Gwen noticed the disappointment in Merlin's eyes. It made her heart feel cold. He wanted a child very much. She hugged him gently.
"One day. Whenever it may be. You will be a wonderful father Merlin!"
20 years ago, Merlin's mother was in labour with his sister – May. The young Merlin waited anxiously outside the old wooden door with his ear pressed against the frame. His auntie Beth was also waiting with him. Beth gently put Merlin on her lap. He could barely stay still. The excitement about having a baby sister was really getting to him.
"It's not long now Merlin. She will be here soon."
"Can I go in?"
"Be patient Merlin!"
They waited for hours together outside the door. Never getting tired. Merlin felt something in his heart. Once again he put his ear to the door. The noise turned from screams into silence. He felt his heart pound in his chest. Then, he heard the magical sound of crying. Merlin gasped with happiness. His face was illuminated. He turned to Beth who gave him an encouraging nod. He peered in through the door. His mum was lying on the bed clenching wrapped up towels. He heard a faint cry. This surely would be the best moment of his life. His mum smiled warmly.
"It's okay Merlin. Come and say hello!"
Merlin carefully sat down on the end of the bed. He gazed at the infant in the arms of his mum. She was so beautiful! He couldn't wait to have his own.
"Can I hold her?"
"I was waiting for you to say that!"
Merlin's mum passed over the baby. She could tell he knew what to do from here. She smiled proudly at her son – He alone was a special gift! Merlin touched the cheek of his little sister. She had the most dazzling blue eyes he'd ever seen! Her hair was stunningly raven. She was so perfect!
"She looks like a May!
His mum kissed him on the head. She couldn't believe how fatherly Merlin was. One thing was for sure, Merlin was a very special boy. He deserved this more than anybody else!
"One day, you will be a wonderful father Merlin."
That voice sounded familiar. Gwen took deep breaths as the footsteps drew closer. The haunting thought that Arthur would banish her was creeping back. She knew this was almost impossible, but it still worried her. She looked down at her stomach and felt growing warmth. She was extremely proud that part of Arthur was living inside of her. She rubbed her hands on her belly with pride. At this moment Arthur burst through the doors which made her jump. "Arthur!" She cried as he ran towards her.
"Are you okay?"
"Arthur you've only been gone 3 days, I'm fine!
"I know but I missed you."
"I missed you to."
There was an awkward silence. Gwen had to tell him she was carrying his child but somehow couldn't find the confidence. She hadn't had time to rehears how she would say it. She looked over Arthurs shoulder to see Merlin standing in the hall smiling. He mouthed the words 'It's okay'. Gwen's confidence level went up drastically. She swallowed the fear and took a deep breath.
Arthur became worried.
She took his hands into her lap and stared into his bright blue eyes. Tears were already forming in hers.
"I know this is sudden and we haven't been married very long but –
She began to stutter. The butterflies came back. Once again she looked over to Merlin who gave her a friendly smile. He knew she could do it.
"Arthur, you're going to be a father."
Arthur's face lit up. She'd never seen him this happy before! He put his hands on his head in disbelief.
"Yes, Gaius told me yesterday."
Arthur kissed her like he'd never done before. Gwen felt his love for the child inside her. Merlin was still watching from the hallway. He was happy for Arthur. Although he hadn't said to anyone before, Arthur has talked to him about wanting a child. But he would only say things like 'What do you think about Aldor as a name, or what he'd do if the child was sick. But Merlin was concerned that Gwen's pregnancy would slow down their friendship. Merlin snapped out of his day – dream and noticed Arthur with his head on Gwen's shoulder crying. It had to be something pretty big to make Arthur Pendragon cry. Merlin stuck his head round the door. "Everything okay in here?" Arthur raised his head and stared at Merlin.
"Merlin, GET OUT!"
Gwen was more tired than usual. The baby had been kicking her ribs all night long. Gwen was enjoying being pregnant until now. The baby kicked again. This time it was more painful than the last. It made her flinch.
"Is everything alright Guinevere?"
Arthur rolled over to face her.
"No! Trouble has been hurting mum!"
Arthur laughed. He pointed at Gwen's bump and scolded the unborn child.
"Now listen here, you don't hurt mum she's very tired!
They looked at each other and began to laugh. Gwen held Arthur's hand and put it on her stomach. This was the first time Arthur had felt their child. He would always shy away before. He started to feel things moving.
"Did you feel that?.. And that? Arthur was intrigued by this alien sensation.
"Arthur, I feel everything!"
He was still fascinated with everything going on inside her. He put his head to her belly and listened to the sound of his baby's heartbeat. "This is amazing!" He shed a single tear. Moments like this he could never forget.
"I love you Guinevere…"
Arthur had just finished training. He was sweating like a pig and needed a bath. "Merlin!" The king shouted to his man servant but he got no response. "Merlin I need my bath water filled." Still no response. He headed down to Gaius' chambers. Maybe Merlin was down there.
"Gaius, have you seen Merlin anywhere?"
"Sorry sire, I haven't seen him for a while."
Merlin was always unpredictable. One minute he's loyal, then clumsy, then he's your best friend, then he betrays you?
"I'll check in the stables. He can't have gone far. Arthur searched the whole castle. Then he heard a small echo come from the kitchen. He burst through the door to find Merlin crying in the corner.
"Merlin, what happened?"
"By the looks of you it's not!"
"You'll think I'm stupid."
"I promise on my baby's life I won't think It's stupid."
Merlin was in much discomfort. He slid down the counters and rested on the floor. He hung his head.
"When my little sister was born, it was the best time of my life. I waited 9 months for her. And when she came, I never felt better. She was so beautiful. And she was mine. Whenever I held her, my troubles would melt away. Then the diseases came. And she got ill. I said to mum I would protect her. But the disease got worse and… I lost her…"
Merlin was in hysterics. Arthur felt like crying as well. He kneeled down to Merlin's height.
"I'm really sorry Merlin. I didn't realize. But why are you so upset now?"
"Just seeing you, and Gwen. It reminds me of what I did. I killed my own baby sister. And I can't ever get her back."
"Merlin, don't blame yourself. It wasn't you."
Merlin put his head in his hands. Arthur felt all his pain. He knew how horrible it must be to lose someone you were so close to. He put his hands on his back and whispered softly,
"You are one brave man, Merlin."
"But I killed her."
"No you didn't. You were young. I don't know anybody who could look after an increasingly sick child like you did. You did everything in your power, Merlin. Don't beat yourself up."
Merlin wiped the tears from his eyes. He was amazed at how understanding Arthur was. But it's not like Arthur hadn't felt the same. His father died in his arms as May did in Merlin's. Arthur opened his arms and gave him a big man hug!
"You should have told me earlier. Please don't sit here on your own. Talk to someone."
"Thanks Arthur, but Gwen needs you more than I do right now. She needs more support than any other person."
Arthur wanted to stay with him, but knew Gwen really did need him. He tapped him on the back quietly left the room. He hoped the old clumsy Merlin would be back soon. It saddened him to see Merlin so emotional. But the fact that losing a baby made him feel even worse. How could his best friend sit in the dark on his own and cry. Arthur felt terrible that he wasn't there when Merlin needed him.
Arthur returned to his chambers. He slowly closed the door behind him. "It's alright Guinevere I found Merlin." It wasn't alright. Gwen was lying on the floor gasping for air. Arthur panicked. He threw his armour on the floor and ran towards her. He put his cape around her and cradled her.
"Guinevere, what happened?"
"I was just making the bed and I got this pain, it was worse than any other. Arthur what do I do?"
Gwen was clenching her stomach hard and whining. Arthur kissed her on the forehead. He was probably more panicked than she was! He slid his arms underneath her and scooped her up.
"I'll take you to Gaius. Just hold on to me and keep breathing. Everything is going to be okay." The weight of Gwen and the child inside of her made him stumble. Arthur held her tight and set off to find Gaius. He had never felt so close to Gwen before. He loved her so much. And in return she was going to give him a child! Life for Arthur was so magical! Gwen screamed louder. Arthur wished he could take away all the pain, but unfortunately there was only so much he could do. "Gaius!" The physician pointed at an empty bed and ran to a shelf full of chemicals. Merlin was sitting on a small stall reading an old brown book. He peered over the pages and saw Arthur and Gwen holding each other. Merlin jumped up from his stall and ran over to them.
"Don't worry, Gaius is getting things sorted. Gwen, where about is it hurting?" Gwen rubbed herself near the bladder area.
"Right here. It's like a burning feeling…"
"Okay, it's just contractions. Tell me, how many months gone are you?"
Gwen thought hard. She hadn't really paid attention to counting days. Arthur interrupted Gwen's thinking.
"It's 9 and half months…"
Merlin wasn't surprised. Arthur had secretly been counting the days since Gwen told him! Gaius returned with many pots and towels. Gwen knew she was safe now. She looked at Arthur who squeezed her hand. Merlin swabbed her forehead with a cool cloth which he then handed to Arthur. "Swab her head every minute. This will help with stress." Arthur was amazed with how fantastic Merlin was. How could someone who was too depressed to move, suddenly turn into a confident nurse? Gaius called from the other end of the room,
"Merlin, go and fetch some forceps."
"I'm on it!"
Merlin sprinted across the room. He knew how much that baby meant to Arthur and Gwen. He scattered around in the old dusty draw and pulled out the forceps. Gwen screamed again. Merlin and Gaius ran over a quick as they could. Gaius asked her to prop up her legs.
"You're fully dilated!" Arthur tipped back his head and let out a huge sigh of relief. Merlin reached over Gaius' shoulder and grabbed a bottle of blue liquid.
"Here, drink this. It should ease the pain."
"Thank you Merlin."
Gwen was already growing exhausted. Arthur swabbed her again. He didn't know what to do but, at least Merlin and Gaius did! Arthur was clearly trying to hold back tears. Very soon he would be a father to the prince or princess of Camelot! Gaius could tell that they were both exited. But the hard part was yet to come…
"Okay Gwen, the next time you feel that burning sensation, I need you to push as hard as you can and listen to Merlin very carefully. Arthur – you know what to do."
Gwen was very nervous, she had no idea what the birth would feel like.
"Arthur, stay with me."
"I'm not going anywhere. I'm always here."
Arthur and Gwen gazed at each other. They both realized how lucky they were to have one another! Gwen felt that burning feeling again. And she panicked.
"Gwen you have to trust me. Take a deep breath and push!"
Gwen clenched Arthur's hand and pushed as hard as she could. Arthur stopped holding back the tears. He didn't care about what people thought of him. He was still a man! Merlin interrupted.
"Breathe Gwen. You're doing so well! Do you want to have a look Arthur?
Arthur hesitated. He didn't know whether he wanted to look or not. At this point Gwen let go of his hand. She wanted him to see everything she was feeling. Arthur walked over to Merlin. He couldn't believe what he was seeing…
"Oh my god! I – Is that the –
"Yes Arthur. That's your baby's head!
Gwen started to hyperventilate. Merlin rushed over to her and told Arthur to hold her hand. She was so close to having a child in her arms. Merlin could tell she only needed on more push.
"You're so close Gwen. Another big push and the baby's here!"
Gwen was so tired. Her heart was pounding; her words became muffled.
"I can't do it Merlin. I can't…"
"I know you can do it. But you must not give up. Otherwise this child will die. And losing a child is the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone."
Arthur kissed Gwen. She was strong. He of all people knew that she would never give up. "Guinevere, listen to Merlin. He knows what he is doing." Gwen gritted her teeth and faced Merlin. She put all her trust with him.
"On the count of 3, you have to push. 1, 2, 3!"
Gwen sunk her head into her chest. She groaned as she pushed harder. Arthur whimpered as his hand got crushed – but he didn't care! His child was so nearly born.
"Come on Guinevere, keep going!"
Gaius mopped his head as Gwen screamed. He called for Merlin to join him. Gwen screamed louder. Merlin grabbed some towels in preparation. Gaius and Merlin looked at each other and grinned. Gwen had stopped screaming. Arthur waited for a response. "Is everything alright?" Merlin looked up at the new dad.
"Everything is perfect!"
Gaius lifted up some blankets from which came crying. The physician handed the infant to Gwen.
"Congratulations, it's a girl!"
Gwen cradled her little girl and felt warm all over. All of the pain was worth it. She wouldn't want anything else. Just her daughter. She looked over to Arthur who had his head in his hands. He couldn't believe what he had been blessed with.
He looked up. Gwen was holding up their baby. She gently passed her over to him. He slowly rocked from side to side. And gradually, she opened her eyes. Arthur began to well up. Her big blue eyes overwhelmed him.
"Hello. I'm your daddy!"
Merlin sat down next to Arthur. He could see how beautiful she was. It was like seeing May all over again. Merlin became emotional yet again. Arthur could tell what he was feeling. He remembered what Merlin had said about when he held May all his worries would go away. Arthur asked him to hold out his arms. He laid his child with Merlin. Merlin was surprised that Arthur let him hold his little girl. Never the less, it made him feel amazing!
"She looks like you Arthur! What are you going to name her?"
Gwen and Arthur looked at each other. They both knew how much Merlin wanted to be a father. Gwen smiled at him.
"Actually Merlin – Arthur and I would like you to name her!"
Merlin blushed. He couldn't believe his ears!
"I – I can't she's your daughter not mine!"
"Arthur told me about how you lost your sister. We thought this might make you feel close to her again. After all, you are her godfather!"
"I'm the godfather?"
"Yes. If anything happens to Arthur, she'll have you there for her."
"Thank you so much! I cannot begin to tell you how much this means to –
"Merlin, please. We don't need a speech! What are you going to name her?
Merlin looked upon the face of the princess. He thought to himself how lucky he was to have this honour.
"I think she suits Nancy!"
Arthur looked at his daughter and smiled. Merlin really was very fatherly! He couldn't wait to bring up his child.
"Welcome to the world Nancy Pendragon…"
End of part 1.