This isn't how the quote goes, but second time's the charm! I'm terribly sorry I deleted the previous sequel without prior notice. It's just, I feel like I wasn't writing it to the best of my ability and the beginning didn't start as well as I wanted. SO, I deleted it and started fresh, with new ideas. I hope you like this much more (And if not, I'll re-upload the past story and work from there)! It's given a new title, I felt it complimented the prequel much more. Plus, who doesn't love a few Lolita references now and then…
No need for more dramatic introductions, please enjoy the new sequel to Fire In The Shade!
Fire Of My Loins
The last thing she was worrying about was her appearance.
An exhausted Aria propped herself up on her elbows, her hair matted with sweat, her face shining, and her breathing uneven. She was a mess, wearing only her slip during the process. Next to her, the temporary maid, Guinevere, wiped the droplets of moisture from her face, whispering that she had done it. Aria cast her dark brown eyes to the court physician who had assisted her. She had debated on getting a midwife particularly for this moment but when it came down to it, she trusted the old man above all.
"Congratulations, Lady Aria," announced Gaius, a smile playing on his mouth, "It's a girl."
Aria tipped her head back and sighed in satisfaction. It was practically hell, the flurry of women who ran into her room, Gwen ordering them out as Gaius began the procedure, Aria feeling an intense pain as she gave birth to her child… the princess would always admire herself for how much time had passed since she had finally screamed out. But it was done. Her baby girl was born.
Gaius cradled the newborn in his arms, wrapped in sheets torn from Arthur and Aria's bed at the last minute. She had dark hair, rosy pink cheeks, and a healthy, throaty yowl that erupted from her lips when she came into the world. When the baby first opened her eyes, Aria was the first to notice the slits of pale blue. Her baby was beautiful.
"She's gorgeous, Aria," commented Gwen, eyeing the infant with admiration in her eyes. Gaius carefully handed her to the maid and she widened her eyes when the baby let out a small mewl in her arms. "She looks like you!" Aria smiled tiredly, shaking her head. She gathered herself up to lean against the pillows, doing her best to smooth down her disheveled state. The baby's mewls turned into yowls once more and Gwen gingerly handed her to her mother. "She wants you, my lady."
Aria looked down at her baby girl, and she quieted, now that she was with her mother. It was like they were the only two in the room, now that they were together. She gazed at her little girl, falling in love instantly. Aria held her close to her body, not taking her eyes off her infant. "You are the most beautiful girl I've ever seen," she said quietly to her. The princess felt tears of happiness sting her eyes but her instinct mind was tossed aside and she was suddenly very aware of who was in the room. Squeezing her eyes so as to push the tears back into their ducts, she looked up at Gwen and Gaius. She wanted to be alone with her child but at the same time, she wanted them there with her. The baby's father was not there.
"It's best you start feeding right away, my lady," Gaius suggested, cleaning up his hands. "It was a tough birth, she may need nourishment." He began to clean up his supplies that he brought, ready to go tell the king of the news. Gwen looked around, making a mental note to replace the sheets. Nobody would want Arthur coming home to his bed ripped up.
"Of course she does," Aria chuckled and Gwen followed, taking a seat next to her. She was the replacement after Aria's former maid Rose was killed by the Great Dragon's attack on Camelot about nine months ago. The two had grown close and Aria had no problem having her around during this time.
"What will you name her, my lady?" Gwen asked curiously, turning her eyes up from the infant to Aria. The princess had thought about names for a while now and had exchanged ideas with Arthur here and there on the rare occasion he was home. He had been waiting on a boy as they both knew it was what his father, King Uther, would have preferred. Boys were more desirable to take the throne. But on the chance that it was a girl, Arthur told Aria he could name her whatever she wanted. It was difficult to choose the perfect name for the perfect child.
Arthur was not here. He had been gone for so long with his knights and his manservant, Merlin. They had missed the birth and it upset her even though she chose not to dwell on it too much. Aria turned to look at the open window and then back into the lovely blue eyes of her baby. A smile tugged at the corners of her lips as the right name came to her mind.
"Naya," she said, the sound of it sweet and pure, "It's perfect."
Gwen's smile widened. "Naya it is."
King Uther could not sleep. He had been woken up in the middle of the night from the exciting news that his daughter-in-law, the Lady Aria, was about to have her child. He paced in the throne room, not sure whether he should go congratulate her or wait until the morning. These situations were rocky for Uther- all they did was remind him of the true nature of his son, Prince Arthur's birth. And what it had done to his wife…
"Sire." Gaius's voice pulled Uther out of his troublesome thoughts. He turned to face the old physician, clearing his throat. "How is she?"
"It took a while, but the child is healthy and well." The good news made Uther sigh in relief. That was good, very good. Ever since Aria's miscarriage, there had been doubts that she would ever produce an heir to throne. The king had noticed how it affected Arthur and Aria's relationship so when they heard the announcement that she was pregnant again, they approached this with caution. They had already lost a child, the last thing Uther wanted was for their marriage to fail after so much planning.
"This is wonderful," he said, smiling, hands on his hips. The stress of the past months faded a little. Uther had been suffering longer than he imagined and this was a small glimmer of light in the midst of such darkness. "Boy or girl?"
"A girl, sire," Gaius informed, holding his hands behind his back.
"Never what you want, is it?" Uther sighed, waving a hand, "No matter. They will have more, now that we know she can. When can I see her?"
"It is best we leave off visitations until the morning, let mother and daughter bond for a while," Gaius suggested, "But tomorrow morning will be just fine."
"Excellent," Uther nodded, happy to hear of it. "I will send news of the this to Arthur when he sends knights back. From his last word, I expect they have-" The king stopped, remembering why he had been so stricken with grief for a long period of time. Morgana… Morgana was not here…
Gaius noticed the shift in his mood immediately and did not have to guess what just crossed his mind. He exhaled slowly. "It has been nine months now, my lord. Arthur has not seen Aria for a very long time and he has missed the birth of his child. He must come home, he must see his daughter."
"He will come home," Uther insisted, turning back to the window. His elevated mood dropped back down to a state of gloom. "He will, Gaius, he will see his daughter. Just as soon as they find her."
"What if she is never found?" Gaius pointed out, hating to put Uther back into a state of distress. But he had to be honest, make the king see reason. If this continued, Arthur may not see his daughter for a very, very long time.
"I will hear no such talk like that," Uther snapped, "Morgana is alive and she will be found.
"And you, Gaius, would do well not to bring any negativity in this matter. Arthur will find Morgana and they will come and everything will go back to normal. That is all." The old man snapped his mouth shut as Uther turned away from him. There was no use giving it another shot. And so Gaius gave up and bid Uther goodnight. He had to go check up on Aria and make sure everything was fine with her and the baby. Uther stared out into the darkness of the sky, at the full moon and the stars. There was never any time left to enjoy the good things that happened in Camelot. Not when Morgana was missing. The king recognized that he was doing something upsetting, carrying on with these unsuccessful searches even though there were pressing matters at home for Arthur. He usually sent word of their whereabouts through one or two knights who would ride back to Camelot, bearing updates. Before Arthur had left, he made Uther promise he could take a break to come home and be there when his child was born. But Uther was relentless in his searches and Arthur knew this- that promise was broken the minute it was made.
He will get over it, Uther convinced himself. Once he finds Morgana and comes home, he will forgive me and all will return to normal.
"Naya," Arthur murmured, the name rolling off his tongue. Next to him, Merlin turned his head up to look at his master, a smile on his face. It was only the two of them around the fire as the other men mingled with each other all around. "A strange name, isn't it?"
"It's lovely," Merlin commented, "And you said yourself, Aria could choose whatever name she wanted."
"I did. And it is a pretty name. Uncommon, but pretty," Arthur agreed, sighing and staring into the fire. "I just wish I could see her." A few days ago, his wife Aria had given birth to their baby girl and she had named her Naya. Occasionally, Arthur would send knights back to Camelot to bring back supplies and an update here and there. Earlier today, when the two he had sent came back and informed him of his new daughter, he sprang up from his seat in surprise. His mouth flooded with questions and he threw them out anxiously. Unfortunately Sirs Vidor and Caridoc could not answer him as they had not seen Aria or the baby.
"Me too," Merlin murmured, looking down at his hands. Arthur looked at him curiously. "Do you now?"
Merlin looked back up, as if realizing he just said the wrong thing. "Well, of course! I mean… it's the heir to throne, you know!" He made it sound like it was the most obvious guess on the planet and exactly why he wanted to see Naya as much as Arthur did. The prince wanted to question him more but he let the matter drop. He was constantly on the alert whenever his servant and his wife were around each other. They did, after all, go against Uther's wishes to find the last Dragonlord months ago… together. Could anyone say Arthur didn't have the right to be the slightest bit suspicious of this?
"Right… but I doubt my father's as pleased as I'd like him to be. A boy was preferable. But no matter," Arthur said, dismissing the thought, "We're not going to have only one child."
"Thinking a bit ahead of yourself there," Merlin commented, "What if Aria doesn't want anymore?"
"Nonsense. She knows it's her duty. And why wouldn't she want more children?"
"One's already going to be a handful. Would she want another?"
Arthur narrowed his eyes. "I don't know, Merlin. Why don't you ask her the next time you two run off together on a dangerous mission?"
Merlin hung his head. "Still upset about that, are you…"
"Hasn't left my mind," Arthur snapped. It bothered him, how Merlin could speak so casually of Aria as if he knew more about her than he did. Arthur was her husband, for goodness sake. Of course he would know more than Merlin did and it was best he not act otherwise.
After their brief yet heavily awkward silence, Merlin spoke up once more. "I bet you can't wait to go home and see her."
"You couldn't be more precise," Arthur exhaled, shaking his head, "But we both know that can't happen until we find Morgana. Even if I were to split us all up into more search parties, my father would give me two days maximum to spend with them.
"Probably better we carry on with this quest then," Merlin said, "Two days isn't enough."
"Not at all. But how much longer am I expected to wait?"
Merlin was quiet for a second. "I don't know," he confessed. Arthur expected this. He wouldn't have thought anyone would know how long it would take before they would find Morgana. Arthur would have expected his father to give up- he was losing men. But this was Morgana they were talking about. She meant the world to him and he would not give up, no matter how many lives it cost.
"Who do you think Naya looks like?" Merlin interrupted Arthur's thoughts. The prince thought for a moment. "She'll look like Aria, definitely. Dark hair, warm brown eyes… she'll be beautiful." Merlin simply smiled at this, but it was an uncertain, nervous smile. He didn't speak after that, but turned his gaze to the flames. Arthur was grateful for this. Talking about his daughter when he hadn't even seen her was painful enough.
"What other news did Sir Vidor and Sir Caridoc bring?" Merlin asked one last question. Arthur stifled a yawn. "Just something about the city jeweler dying of a heart attack in his shop."
Merlin's head shot up. "Bran?"
"I think so. The man you went to who made Aria's wedding gift, that dragon necklace she never takes off."
"He's dead…" Merlin was speechless. Arthur shook his head. He had enough trouble understanding what went through his servant's mind these days, and now he was showing a lot more grief than needed for a jewelry maker he barely knew.
"Well, we've got a big morning ahead of us," Arthur yawned, stretching. "Best we go to bed. Go tell one of the men to take the first watch. I'll take over after them." He stood up to go to bed, tired and ready for sleep. Merlin got up as well, but went in the opposite direction. The prince closed his eyes, trying to shut off his mind for just a few hours. They would resume pestering him tomorrow, when he rounded up the rest of his men to continue their quest for Morgana.
The fire had died out. But Merlin still hadn't went to bed. His mind wouldn't let him.
Arthur didn't understand his loss for words when he said Bran was dead. Bran was the old man who had made Aria's necklace, the Dragon of Light crest of her house, Ricci. But the man wasn't just a plain old jewelry maker- he was also a sorcerer and he made the charm using his magic. He told Merlin what the warlock had assumed to be some crazy story about the charm being a connection between Aria and the person she loved, that person being the "light" when she was in the dark. Loosely translated, the person would be able to feel when she needed someone. Merlin found this ridiculous. Arthur did not have magic, how could he tell she needed him by some necklace? But Bran had stressed the word love.. leading Merlin to realize that it was him, not Arthur.
Merlin had felt it before, the night Arthur and Aria married and she went out to the forest, clearly bothered. He had felt in himself that he simply had to go out to back of the castle, where it had unofficially been there meeting spot. The other times when she needed him, Merlin had been there with her. He guessed in order to fully feel the effect of the magic of her charm, they would have to be separated.
The warlock stared into the black, charred pieces of wood where the fire used to be. About three or four days ago, he was pulled out of sleep in the middle of the night because he felt that feeling again- something he hadn't in over a year now. Merlin had laid back in worry, struggling to convince himself that nothing was wrong with Aria, or if there was, it was over. It wasn't until today when Sir Vidor and Sir Caridoc brought news from Camelot that Merlin was put at ease. What he felt wasn't bad- it was just the birth of Aria's child.
Aria's child. Not Arthur and Aria's child. Just Aria's. For now.
Merlin got up and went to lie down in his spot next to his master. When he heard Arthur stir, he knew it meant the prince's internal instinct woke him to take the next watch. He closed his eyes and turned to the other side. Truth was, Merlin wanted so badly to believe that Naya was Arthur's daughter. He prayed she had some of Arthur's features, at least the light hair and blue eyes. Or all of Aria's features, that would've been alright too. Anything to cover up their past. Anything.
Naya, Merlin repeated in his head, a tiny smile forming on his face. It was really a very lovely name and he knew she would be beautiful, like her mother. Spirited yet kind like her mother. Normal like her mother.
Oh yes, normal. That was key. Because if Naya was anything extraordinary… this would be a big problem.
A/N: This is awfully long to be a prologue… but it's the brand new start and let me tell you, I am more excited to go with this than the other sequel I wrote up! But of course, I hope that you are as pleased as I am with it. Again, if it's just not cutting it for you, I will be more than happy to continue with previous sequel. But I am confident that you will enjoy this more. Readers, I always tell you to trust me and my hope is that I come through in the end. So please, trust me again.
Please read and PLEASE review, tell me what you think of this major revision! Your feedback means the world to me. Cheers!