A/N: Alright, this is it, guys! Thank you to those who have reviewed and followed this story throughout its entirety! I appreciate the kind words and support! I hope you enjoy the last, and final chapter. =)
Winter came in full swing in the following years. Everything seemed quieter, almost muffled during this time as majority of folks remained in their homes to keep away from the cold. It was quite eerie, but nonetheless comforting for winter also came with its natural beauty. Everything seemed to glisten as colors appeared brighter against the pure white blanket that spreads as far as the eye can see. The air smelled pure and fresh as it provided a sense of serenity in the atmosphere. The roads were covered in a white layer of fluffy powder that resembled the hazy clouds in the sky. Blades of grass poked through inches of falling snow as the tremendous cold and freezing wind lightly blew at his face, sending shivers in all his nerve-endings. He felt every limb go numb despite the many layers of clothing he wore to protect himself from the fierce cold, but yet he enjoyed the calmness and the gentle breeze that winter had to offer.
He inhaled deeply, filling his lungs with cool air as he shut his eyes to revel in his surroundings. The garden that was once filled with bright colored roses and daffodils during the long summer months was now covered in fresh fallen snow. The branches of trees hung low with the heavy load they were carrying as they bend towards the ground.
He smiled, embracing the temporary moment of solitude, though a part of him wished he hadn't experience such beauty alone. He felt a sudden longing building up in his chest as a dark cloud hovered over him. His peaceful thoughts invaded by darkness as his heart squeezed in pain. Whenever he thought about the fear of losing her…he tried to avoid it, flee from it. But he learned that life has a way of being unpredictable and full of surprises as it only precipitated his fear of the unknown. He lost a great love once during a time a felt the most happy. He wasn't going to lose another.
A deep sigh escaped from his trembling lips as he became lost in thought and consumed with sorrow. He fell so deep; the sounds of approaching footsteps crunched beneath the snow went unnoticed.
"Father, father!" Came that familiar young voice that rang in the air as he quickly returned from his brief reverie and turned his head to the direction of the sound. He felt the corners of his lips turned upward into a genuine smile as he watched the young boy with short raven-black hair run excitedly towards him. He kneeled to the ground and embraced the boy with open arms, providing warmth to his now tender heart.
"Aye, Son. What are you doing here? It is cold out." He said, pulling away from the boy as he easily lifted him off the ground and carried him. He placed a kiss on his son's forehead, smiling lovingly at the child as he could see her right through him, causing his heart to skip a beat at the obvious resemblance. "Where's William?" He asked as the young boy looked at him hesitantly, choosing to remain wordless and emitting only a small giggle.
"Running away from me I'm afraid, your majesty." A husky, disgruntled voice answered as the Duke's son appeared from behind scattered trees. He stood in front of them, slightly bent over with his hands on his knees to subside his heavy breathing. "He runs bloody fast for a three year old." William groaned despondently causing the King to smile proudly at his son.
They stood in silence for several moments as he pondered immensely, his mind racing in all sorts of direction before finding the courage to ask his male companion what has been occupying his thoughts as of late. "Any word yet from my wife?" He asked painfully, trying to keep his emotions at bay. "How is my beloved Snow White?"
William's gaze softened as the raw display of emotion rendered him speechless. He parted his lips to speak when a cry from a distance suddenly alerted his senses.
"Your majesty!" Both men turned their heads in unison as Greta ran frantically towards them, stopping just a few feet to catch her breath. "You must come quickly!" Her eyes went wide open towards the King as her frantic expression accelerated his heart some more. "Snow White is in labor."
He waited anxiously in front of his bedroom chambers, his heart hammering uncontrollably in his chest. Minutes turned into long, excruciating hours as the wait became unbearable; he wasn't sure how much more of it he can endure. He could hear her painful cries resonating through the wooden doors as he had to refrain himself from knocking them down and entering to help her.
"You mustn't, Eric." William placed a comforting hand on his shoulder before he even tried to make his way pass the guards and through those doors. "Your presence won't do her anything good. She needs to be reassured that you will be there for Prince Magnus." He groaned quietly in frustration as he turned to face him, struggling to swallow the large lump of emotions that were rising in his throat.
"I should be in there with her." He spoke adamantly, allowing his heartache show through intense eyes. "She needs me."
"I understand," William said carefully, trying to provide comfort and reassurance to his male companion, "but your son also needs you."
They stood in silence for several moments; neither really have anything else to say after that. Eric slowly averted from William's concerned gaze as he stared longingly at his son from a distance who was sitting in the corner and reading intently from a book. He soon felt a wave of guilt and his own selfishness washed over him. He loved his son, and would do anything for him. But he needed his Queen, and it frightened him terribly.
A set of doors suddenly creaked open as both men automatically turned their heads with their breaths slightly hitched in anticipation. Greta stepped outside, causing Eric to suddenly grow stiff. She looked at him and smiled, ridding any doubts that clung to his very soul. "Snow White is asking for you, your majesty."
He looked at William, mirroring the same relieved expression on his face. The younger man smiled, giving his King an encouraging nod; one of camaraderie and with utmost respect. "Go on. I will look after Magnus."
Eric stood in silence for a moment and gave him a weak smile. William saw in his eyes sincere gratitude, and without thought, he watched his King step forward and give him a hug. It was a gesture that took him by surprise as he returned the embrace and slightly patted him on the back. "Thank you for all that you've done, my friend."
He forced himself to breathe evenly as he stepped inside the room. It was nearly quiet with only the sounds of rustling and shuffling movements coming from the Queen's handmaidens working diligently to clean up the mess. As soon as they acknowledged his presence, they all stopped with their tasks and bowed respectfully before him; their smiles radiating from their fatigue faces. He could feel his heart flutter at the comforting sound of a piercing cry that broke through the brief silence. It was the sound of new life; one he became familiar with during the birth of his son as it melted his heart.
The mid-wife suddenly appeared with the little child cradled in her arms and securely wrapped in a warm blanket. He watched in awe as the elder woman gently placed the child into the Queen's arms. She looked up at the King and smiled, bowing before him and leaving the room to give them privacy.
And then he saw her, for the first time in days. So delicate and fragile. Her face was pale with the rush of color slowly reappearing on her cheeks. Her long, raven-black hair was damped in sweat as her fatigue, emerald eyes were evident from sleepless night. But despite the days of being bed bound and in labor that have considerably drained out much of her energy, she looked beautiful. He simply stood there in silence until his eyes met hers with nothing but love and pure joy in them.
"Come, my King." She spoke weakly as she stared back at the child in her arms. He slowly approached them, carefully sitting on the edge of the bed beside her. His heart clenched as he gazed down at his daughter for the first time, tears suddenly filling his eyes with happiness.
"She's so beautiful." He whispered breathlessly as he turned to Snow White and smiled, gently stroking her cheek with the back of his hand. "Just like her mother."
"Oh, my love…" She uttered as she cupped one side of his cheek and filled his heart with warmth. "She has your eyes."
He grinned, taking her hand in his. "Have you come up with a name?"
She looked back at their daughter and smiled, pausing briefly to revel in the moment. "Yes. Her name is Sara…"
He stared at his wonderful wife, surprised at first, and overwhelmed with the realization of how much he loved his Queen. Her kind heart was always in the right place, and he loved her even more for keeping Sara's memory alive. He then thought about their son, and how much of a blessing he was when he first came into the world. And then he looked at their beautiful daughter, so many hopes and wishes came rushing through his head for her. He finally had a family he never dreamed of having in all his life, and he couldn't be anymore happier. "Sara…" He whispered in approval as he gazed back down at their child and smiled. "Welcome home, Princess…"
A/N: Thanks for reading!...I hope you guys liked it! Please don't forget to leave a final review! Till next time...=)