The lighting in the hospital room is surprisingly dim when my eyes finally flutter open. It takes a while for my eyes to focus. The blurriness makes my head hurt and I bring my hand to my head, cringing when I realize that there's an IV taped to the back of my hand. The cord leads up to a bag of clear liquid and for a brief moment I wonder what is wrong with me. Why I'm in a hospital bed and why I have medicine set up to flow through my body? I only wonder about me before I remember my daughters and a panic builds in my chest, causing me to sit up too quickly and letting out a cry when a shot of pain rips through my stomach.
"Norah?" Gale whispers in the darkness and some of the worry and fear subsides. He sounds like he's been sleeping and if Gale is relaxed enough to sleep in a Capitol run building, than there can't be anything too wrong with me or with our daughters.
"Gale," I reply. My voice is thick and hoarse. When's the last time I was awake?
There's a small amount of shuffling and I'm able to make out Gale's outline in the dim room. He stands slowly, his limbs cracking as he stretches out like he's been sleeping curled up. The bright fluorescent hospital lights finally flick on and I close my eyes quickly. "I think you just blinded me."
Gale chuckles as I rub my eyes, doing my best to adjust to the sudden change in lighting. I slowly open one eye at a time before I can fully focus on Gale, "Norah," Gale says quietly again, he seems relieved to have me looking at him. He reaches out and takes my hand into his, being very careful of the IV.
"What happened?" I ask, using my other hand to run my fingertips across the stubble that's built on his face. It looks like he hasn't shaved in a few days. I wonder if he's even gone home at all.
"You lost a lot of blood from the C-section. Your heart stopped," Gale says slowly and I stare at him. "You're okay though. Everything's fine now. Your heart's fine. You're just going to be really sore because of all the staples in your stomach."
Gale continues to study me, like he's trying to memorize every little detail about me. I rub my thumb over his cheekbone and he smiles lightly at me, "Don't scare me like that again," he whispers to me and I lick my lips.
"Wasn't planning on it," I whisper back to him. Gale leans forward and presses a kiss to my forehead, his lips lingering on my skin for a few moments.
"What about our daughters?" I ask when Gale sits back in the chair next to my hospital bed. He smiles and looks at his hands.
"They're beautiful, perfect, and healthy little girls." Gale answers and I feel every bit of panic that built in my chest turn into relief, a weight lifting from my shoulders and allowing me to fully rest into the pillows.
"And their names?" I ask, feeling my eyes become heavy with sleep but I fight to keep them open.
Gale smirks and I stare at him waiting, "I swear Gale if you don't answer me." I say, attempting to sit up, but the movement proving to be too much for me. Gale puts a gentle hand on my shoulder, a chuckle escaping from his lips as his other hand reaches for a water cup on the nightstand.
"Drink some of this and then I'll tell you," Gale says and I sigh, lifting my head up to suck from the straw in the cup. The water quenches the dryness that I must have subconsciously grown accustomed too while I was unconscious or still a bit delusional from the medications.
"Thanks," I say yawning and Gale smirks, leaning back in his chair and yawning himself. "Names," I say impatiently and Gale smiles, shaking his head.
"Eden Persi Hawthorne," he answers and I nod my head, knowing that the name Eden was obvious. Both of us wanted it. "And Rosie Hazel Hawthorne," he says and I smile at him.
I move my hand to tell him to come here and he does, leaning forward so that I can use the hand that isn't attached to the IV to pull him even closer. I press my lips lightly to his and even though my lips are badly chapped he continues to kiss me gently.
"Thank you," I say when we pull away from each other and Gale smiles at me.
"You should probably get some sleep," Gale says as he stands up to turn off the fluorescent lights above our heads. The room dims again and I find it even harder to keep my eyes open.
"How long have I been here?" I ask, listening to Gale as he carefully makes his way back to the armchair that he's sleeping in.
"Tomorrow will be day three. They had you drugged on a lot of medication. You've woken up a few times, but every time you were in so much pain that they kept knocking you back out with pain killers. This is the first real conversation we've had without you talking about the birds painted on the ceiling," Gale say and my eyes shoot up to see if there really are birds painted there.
Thankfully there are birds on the ceiling and I sigh in relief, listening to Gale chuckle at me as he turns the lights back off. I look over at his silhouette that's now curled up on the armchair. "You're not crazy, you were just a little sick."
"I just wanted to make sure," I reply, pulling my blankets up higher. I uncover my feet which causes me to grumble as I struggle to recover them underneath the thick sheets that don't seem to be long enough to cover the bed. "Have you gone home at all?"
"Only once to grab a bag with clothes for you and me," He answers and I bite my lip, feeling guilty that he's been sleeping on that little armchair. "I even took the past few days off from work."
"Gale you didn't need to stay here," I say, suddenly worried about him. He hates to miss work, hates being stuck anywhere near Capitol residents, and probably has a sore back from sleeping in that chair.
"Norah, I promised I wouldn't leave you and you know I don't make promises I don't intend to keep," he says and I feel a lump rise in my throat but I smile, knowing that Gale loves me so much.
I never thought it would be possible to fall in love with a human so quickly, yet here I am. When my mother and Annie would attempt to explain what it's like loving their children they would always simply say that the feeling is indescribable and now I can finally understand why. Eden and Rosie couldn't be more perfect or more beautiful; they're two little pieces of Gale and me, which makes them even more special.
Eden and Rosie have a thin layer of black hair on their heads, it's soft to the touch and I know already that they're going to look a lot like Gale. I can just see it - they'll have his dark hair, and olive toned skin, but my eyes. They'll have my brown eyes and I smile, running my finger lightly over Eden's cheek. She stirs a little in her sleep but doesn't wake up. I pull my eyes away from her fresh face to look at Gale who has yet to take his eyes off of Rosie.
He's studying her. There's a line of concentration crinkling between his brows as his eyes sweep over her small features. Gale loves them so much already too and I think that's all I could really ask for.
"I'll trade you," I whisper and Gale smirks, glancing up at me briefly.
"Alright," he stands up from the hospital chair slowly and carefully hands me Rosie before taking Eden. "I hope they're not identical," he says as he settles back into his chair.
I look up at him, lifting my brows in question. "Well, just think how hard it's going to be to tell them apart." Gale says and I smile at him.
"We'll be fine." I snuggle Rosie closer to me and Gale lifts his brow.
"Really? Who are you holding right now?" Gale asks and I roll my eyes at him.
"I think I can tell my daughters apart Gale." He leans back, a smirk forming on his face.
"Then just tell me which one you're holding because honestly I have no idea." Gale says and I look down at Rosie, suddenly second guessing myself.
"This is-" I say, trailing off and thinking for a moment. I know they have their little hospital bracelets on their ankles but there's no way I'm going to be able to un-swaddle her from her blanket to check without Gale noticing. I decide to just go with my gut, "This is Rosie."
"Are you sure?" I nibble on my bottom lip, still second guessing myself. He must know something that I don't and that's why he's asking.
"I think so," I say and he lifts a brow, his smirk widening.
"You think so?" I sigh, leaning against my pillows.
"Actually," I say, dragging out my word, "can I change my answer?" I ask and he nods, smiling at me now. "This is Eden," I say, looking down and running my finger over her cheek.
"Final answer?" he asks and I lick my lips, feeling not so confident anymore.
"Final answer." I state and he unswaddles the twin he's holding to check the anklet with the name.
"This is Eden," he says with a chuckle and I glare at him.
"So I was right," I say and Gale shakes his head.
"No, you changed your answer," he points out as he wraps a now squirming Eden back into her blanket.
"Only because you made me second-guess myself," I say and Gale chuckles, leaning back and holding Eden closer to him.
"Which you do, a lot." Gale says causing me to roll my eyes, "See, neither of us can tell, by this time next year Rosie will be Eden and vice versa."
"Maybe they can keep the anklets on them for us, until we can find a distinguishing trait between them." I say and Gale shakes his head.
"No, those anklets are the trackers," Gale says and I roll my eyes.
"You sound like my father. They wouldn't put trackers on little newborn babies," I say and Gale nods his head knowingly.
"Why do think we receive those annual shots every two years? Because the trackers die out in our bodies." Gale says and I do my best not to laugh at him.
"No, it's so we don't get sick. They're flu shots."
"Then why do hundreds of people die from some kind of germ every year?" He asks and I glare at him, shaking my head because he shouldn't be talking about this at all. You don't question the Capitol in a Capitol run building.
"I never said the shots were effective." I say evenly and Gale lets the topic go.
"They still won't let us keep the anklets on them." Gale says quieter now, "Tomorrow when we leave, they'll snip the anklets off and give the girls their 'flu shots'."
"They're paper anklets Gale," I say, refusing to look at him now. I'm a little angry at him; he knows how I feel about treasonous talk. "And I'm done having this conversation."
"Alright." Gale says, standing up and placing Eden in the little cradle next to my bed. "I have to go, finish getting the house ready for them and then head over and tell the foreman for the mines that I'll be returning to work in two days."
"Gale you really don't have to miss any more work. We'll all be home tomorrow," I say, playing with a loose thread on the bed sheet. I know how he feels about missing work, especially now with our daughters. He feels like he can't afford to skip work and not be paid and he's right. A few missing days meant money we wouldn't be receiving and we need all the money we can get now.
"You can barely move still. Two more days isn't going to kill us." He rubs his forehead as he talks and I can already see the places where his wrinkles will form, right between his brows.
"Okay, you'll come back right?" I ask, knowing full well he will, but I just need reassuring. I don't like being here by myself.
"I'll be back this evening," Gale says as he takes Rosie from me and puts her back in the cradle as well. A nurse will come and take the girls back to the nursery soon anyway; they liked to have an eye on all the babies there, as though they were scared someone would leave with them.
"Okay" I say as he leans down to press a kiss to the top of my forehead. I grasp his shirt for a moment so that he doesn't leave so quickly. I want to make sure he isn't angry at me, when I find no hint of anger in his eyes I pull him back down to me to kiss him again. "I can't wait to go home."
"Same, you can only sleep on that chair comfortably for so long. Do you need anything from the house," he asks and I think about it for a moment.
"No I don't think so," I say and he nods, kissing the top of my head again. The door opens and Gale sighs in relief, he loves leaving right when the nurse arrives.
"I'll see you later," Gale says as he slips out the door.
Verona smiles at me as she picks up Rosie from the cradle. I always feel better when Verona is the one to take the girls back to the nursery. She's careful and sweet and my favorite nurse here, "I think these are the prettiest babies I've ever seen." She says, smiling down at her.
"I bet you say that about all the babies." I say and Verona smiles at me as she rubs a gentle hand over Rosie's cheek.
"Just the special ones," Verona says and I smile looking at Eden and Rosie. Verona places Rosie back in the cradle next to her sister and I shake my head, trying to find anything that separates the two.
"I have no idea how I'm going to tell them apart." I say and Verona lifts her brows, she studies them for a minute before turning back to me.
"The only thing I can think is that Rosie's a bit bigger than Eden, but Eden will probably catch up soon. You two will figure it out. As the girls get older they'll start to develop different personality traits and it will be much easier to determine who is who," Verona says with a reassuring grin.
"How can you be so sure?" I ask and Verona shakes her head at me.
"I've seen a lot of babies, Norah, a lot of twins and all the parents say the same thing in the beginning, but parents know who their kids are. You've just got to give it a little time. You've only been a mom for five days now, three of which you were unconscious." Verona says and I sigh, rubbing my forehead and yawning.
"I have no idea how to be a mom," I say and Verona chuckles lightly. She pats my knee and fixes my pillows for me. My stomach is still extremely sore from the staples.
"Oh, you'll figure it out. It's an instinct. It'll take a lot of practice, some mistakes, but you'll start to understand them. When they cry you'll know what they need, when they move a certain way you'll know what's bugging them, when they make a face you'll know what they're thinking. It takes practice but you'll get it, you just have to trust yourself." I nod my head, understanding or at least hoping to understand.
"I wish my mom could be here to teach me everything," I whisper suddenly very aware of my words and how they must sound to a Capitol born woman but Verona just sighs looking at me sadly.
"You're not the first District woman to wish that," she says and I lick my lips, looking over at my girls again. In eighteen years they'll be where I am and the idea of that is absolutely terrifying. "Did you already nurse them?"
I nod my head and she smiles, "See you're already a natural at that. It takes some moms a few good tries before they can get their babies to nurse."
I shrug my shoulders and Verona smiles at me again. "You're doing just fine Norah, things can only get better," she says as she lifts the brakes on the cradles and begins to push my girls back to the nursery. "We'll see you in two hours, try to get some sleep."
"Does the room feel cold to you?" I ask and Gale sighs, looking at me.
"Norah, it's August," I shrug my shoulders.
"It can still be cold." I say as I place my hands on both Eden and Rosie to see if their little bodies are war enough.
"Norah, relax," Gale says as he sneaks his arms around my waist, being incredibly careful to not touch my sore stomach. "They're beautiful aren't they?" Gale says as he rests his chin on my shoulder.
"They sure are," I say kissing Gale's cheek. Hazelle has been a lifesaver and knitted pink socks for Rosie and purple socks for Eden. She even embroidered their names on them which is perfect because, like Gale had said yesterday, the nurses hadn't let us keep the anklets on the girls. Gale was sure to whisper the word 'tracker' in my ear as the nurse pricked our girls with the needle for the flu shot and a part of me wanted to believe him too.
"The new train of Contracts are coming in a few days," I say and Gale groans a little in my ear.
"That means you've been here for a year already." I nod my head slowly. "Do you still miss District Four?" he whispers. I can hear the uncertainty in his voice, like he still wasn't sure if I'm happy here or not.
I turn to face him, wrapping my arms around his neck. "There's always going to be a part of me that misses District Four, but that's not my life anymore. I'm happy here, with you, and now them. Gale, we've started our own little family together. You can't keep worrying about me missing District Four because I do, but being here with you makes me a lot happier." Gale smirks, resting his forehead against mine.
"We're going to have a lot of good years together aren't we?" Gale asks and I smile, kissing him gently.
"Yeah, I think we will."
Year Two is starting up in hopefully the next chapter. I feel like a lot of this is just a filler, so yeah.
Let me know what you think.