Slowly but surely, three more months passed, and the time had come. Except…..still no baby.
Ila was lying in bed, being a full six months pregnant and full term, but the baby had not made to show himself yet. As uncomfortable as she had been a month ago, that now seemed easy. Her feet had swollen and she could barely walk the short distances she had to make to the chamber pot and the bath tub. Walking was a misnomer; rather she had to waddle now.
No matter how she sat up or lay in bed she simply could not get comfortable. She didn't even want Thorin to hold her while they slept she was so uncomfortable in her skin and no position provided adequate relief. Her back hurt, her feet hurt, she couldn't hold her bladder long at all for her big baby pressing on it, and she was hot all the time. Everything zapped her energy, what little there was, even eating. Getting up was exhausting and she dreaded every time she had to do it. Dwala was required to be close by at all times now and a guard was posted outside her door. He would call for the Oin and then for Thorin when the time came.
If it would ever come. Ila was beside herself with impatience and cabin fever to boot. She had hoped he might come a day or two early but now she hoped he came at all. Thorin too was anxious, but constantly reassured his wife.
"Darling," he would soothe her, "he will come when he is ready and not a moment too soon. Best he is late and healthy than early and sickly."
Ila knew he was right, but that was easy for him to say when he didn't have a giant dwarfling in his belly.
Said dwarfling was rather anxious himself. He had begun to kick more and turn around and roll over inside there, at least it felt like that to Ila. Sometimes she could even see a foot or elbow protruding from her belly, and the first time had been rather shocking. She had hoped that meant he was making his way down to come out finally, but such had not happened yet. Perhaps he was just too comfortable in there, sleeping all day and getting all the food he wanted, to want to come out.
Whatever the case, Ila stared at the ceiling as she was prone to do now when she didn't have visitors. Dwala was tidying the antechamber and humming to herself as she did, and Ila knew she had terrible cabin fever too. She didn't say so but she knew she must and couldn't blame her. And of course she wanted to be with her husband, whom she saw very little of now thanks to her condition.
The only thing that had made said condition bearable in the past month were the visitors that she'd had. Kili had visited a few times a week to 'keep her entertained' as he put it, which he insisted was his most pressing and only real royal duty at the moment. Fili had also surprised her and visited a few times as well, just as she had hoped. And their mother had kept her word about visiting too. Her visits were usually filled with lots of baby talk, telling her what to expect and how to do everything she would have to do with a baby. Ila had not grown up around lots of babies, and dwarves did not reproduce very often anyway being there were so few females of course, so Ila was thankful for all the instruction. Dis gave her advice and Fili and Kili made her laugh. That had been a nice balance through the past few weeks, and she always had her love to look forward to every night, even if they couldn't enjoy each other fully for a while yet.
As Ila stared at the ceiling pondering nothing really, she felt the sudden urge to urinate. She sighed deeply. Not again, she thought. Drinking almost wasn't worth it anymore, given the fact that water went straight through her and the chamber pot may as well be a thousand leagues away.
Sighing again and throwing back the covers, Ila scooted slowly and awkwardly to the side of the bed. Dwala heard her moving from the other room and came to help.
"You are supposed to tell me when you want to get up. What if I hadn't heard you and you'd fallen?" she scolded.
"I declare I will be happy when this baby comes if for nothing else that I won't be treated like a little dwarfling myself anymore." Ila said but without any real irritation.
"I am fine, really." Ila said and waddled her way over to the tiny room at the other end of the great bed chamber. Dwala followed slowly behind anyway and kept an eye on her. While she waited she went to fluff Ila's pillows, though she doubted it would make any difference. Her attention was seized however when she heard Ila whimper loudly.
Dwala dropped a pillow and rushed over to Ila, who had emerged but was slightly bent over and clutching her abdomen.
"Ila, Ila is it time?" Dwala inquired anxiously.
Ila was still bent over, her eyes fixed on nothing and not looking at Dwala. "I….I…." and then her sentence was broken off by a groan of pain.
"Oh, oh, oh, it's time. It's time!" Dwala was repeating since Ila was at a loss for words.
"Can you walk?" Dwala asked but Ila whimpered again. She looked down and noticed fluid, what looked like water dripping onto the floor beneath Ila, and remembered that was a sign Dis had warned of. Dwala then summoned her courage and took Ila by the shoulders from behind and slowly guided her to the bed. Ila was breathing harder now and the journey across the room was painfully slow. When they reached the bed Ila backed onto it and just rested on the side for a moment, still holding her belly and breathing hard, her face strained. Another moment and she calmed a bit, and Dwala took the opportunity to run and tell the guard to fetch Oin.
Ila sat there in that brief moment alone on the side of the bed, absolutely terrified. She had been waiting for this moment for months, had been fretting over when it could finally come for weeks, and now that it was finally here she was scared.
What if I die? What if I can't deliver? What if my baby is not well? Will I be able to bear the pain?
Doubt and fear spun around like a whirlwind in her mind, so intense that she momentarily forgot the pain and discomfort she already felt. She wanted Thorin there, but knew that childbirth was nothing for males to be present for.
Dwala returned and began to rearrange the pillows, trying to make a nice support system for Ila to lie back on.
"Can you move? Can you lay down?" she asked and Ila took a deep breath and nodded that she could. Slowly she pushed herself back into the pillows and onto her back, panting a little and wincing as she lowered her aching and swollen body.
Ila said nothing, only closed her eyes and tried to brace herself for what she knew would be more pain. She thought about trying to control her breathing and tried even harder not to be scared. Dwala brushed the hair out of her face and grabbed a fan to give her a gentle breeze, seeing beads of sweat already forming on her brow.
Dwala silently hoped it would not take ages for Oin to climb the many steps that lay between him and this chamber. He was old and slow, and this was no time for dallying. She didn't know what to do…..perhaps she should run across the landing and get Lady Dis? Or perhaps Ila would not want her there… she just didn't know and now didn't seem the time to ask.
Ila began to whimper in pain again and reached for her belly. She kicked the blankets away, hotter and more uncomfortable than ever now. Worried and scared herself, she looked to her own stomach briefly, wondering if she too were of a certain condition. She didn't look different yet, but she had begun to feel a bit nauseous in the mornings and her body simply felt different, for lack of a better way to explain it. She was now rather afraid of being with child, seeing Ila stretched out in pain.
Dwala looked to the door. Where was that ancient dwarf?!
Downstairs, Thorin sat in council with Fili at his side and his advisors around the table as usual, each briefing the king in turn on items for which they were responsible. Thorin was listening intently as he always did, but not with his usual relaxed posture in which he typically draped himself across this great chair in these meetings. He was more alert, on edge even, as his heir was overdue and could arrive at any second. He was certainly eager for the time to come, first to hold his son but then of course to have his wife back. He actually couldn't say which he wanted more.
As Gloin was reading over the recent acquisitions from the weekly trading trip to Dale, a young guard hastily entered the room.
Thorin's head snapped up and he looked to the dwarf expectantly.
"Pardon my, my lord, but—"the dwarf began as he bowed but Thorin cut him off.
"Enough of that, speak your purpose," he commanded, hoping it was news of his wife.
The young dwarf choked a little after being interrupted by his king and Fili, anxious himself, cut in now.
"Speak!" was all he urged and all eyes were on the poor dwarf.
"My lord the queen is expected to give birth shortly—" he spat out as quickly as he could but Thorin hardly heard it. He practically erupted from his chair, nearly knocking into the table, and the dwarves around him cheered happily. Fili smiled widely and got up too to follow his uncle who was already making for the door.
"Has Oin been called for?" he demanded of the dwarf without looking at him.
"Yes your majesty he is on his way now." He answered.
Fili caught up with his uncle. "Shall I make an announcement?"
"No, not yet. It may be hours yet. Best not to excite everyone." Thorin replied, his face as serious as if he were walking straight onto a battlefield.
"Right. I will find Kili and then go to mother." Fili replied and went off to do just that.
Thorin continued towards their chamber alone now, not noticing a single soul as he did. The time had finally come. His love was about to bring their perfect child into the world. His heir, the heir of Durin, the continuation of the great line. He could not wait to hold him in his arms. And his wife.
His precious wife. He silently pleaded with Mahal to keep her safe. To keep her strong. To help her deliver. Keep her healthy, and keep her with him.
He saw no sign of Oin on his way to his bedchamber and hoped that meant he was already there and tending to his wife. He was taking three steps at a time up the stairs in his heavy boots, and once he reached the landing broke into a jog.
He entered his chamber and slowed as he approached the bedroom, the door open. Dwala peered through the opening and then spoke to Ila, telling her he had come.
Thorin entered the bedroom and was immediately disappointed to see that Oin had not arrived yet. That irritation soon passed though as he beheld his ailing wife.
Ila was moaning and whimpering, sweat on her brow and the covers kicked away from her. Her eyes were closed in pain and she didn't seem to know he was there.
Gently, he sat on the bedside and laid his hand over hers, which he noticed was trembling.
"My love," he said quietly and Ila opened her eyes and turned her head towards him.
Pain etched her face and her eyes were afraid. "Thorin…" was all she said.
"You are alight my love. Just a little bit of courage now." He assured her and then turned to Dwala.
"Fetch my sister, Oin is taking too long." He commanded and Dwala hurried from the room.
"Shhhhh, my love." Thorin tried to comfort Ila. She has closed her eyes again and her breathing was slowing a more normal pace. He held her hand and she didn't grip as tightly. He had never watched a dame in labor, so he honestly didn't know what to expect. This was probably normal but he had no idea. He cursed himself for not making provisional arrangements for Oin closer to their chamber and requiring him to stay there so he could quickly come to aide. Where was he? And where was Dwala with his sister? Thorin made himself remain calm though, knowing he must give his wife nothing to worry over.
Dwala knocked hard and purposefully on the door, hoping Lady Dis was not indisposed. A moment or two later it opened and she was met by her lady in waiting, Layla.
"His majesty asks for his lady sister to come to the queen's side. Her child pains are upon her and Oin is yet to arrive…" Dwala stammered out. Layla nodded and quickly turned to fetch her lady. Dwala stood there in the doorway for a moment, waiting or not knowing what to do, then shook herself and ran back to Ila. Dis knew the way, obviously.
Dwala arrived to see Oin still not there and sighed with annoyance. Ila was panting and moaning in pain again, Thorin looked worried sick at her side. Dwala wished she could tell him not to worry, but honestly she had never seen a baby dwarf being born and couldn't reassure him, or herself.
Dwala went to grab a basin and fill it with water, if for nothing else to cleanse her forehead and chest from sweat. Dis quickly entered the room then and threw her enormous skirts aside to sit on the bed next to Thorin.
He looked to his sister with pleading eyes, asking if all was well and normal. She knowingly placed a hand on his shoulder and reassured him.
"You should go, this is no place for husbands. Or any dwarf other than a healer." She said.
Thorin said nothing but made a face at her that said he didn't want to.
"There dear, you are fine." Dis soothed Ila, brushing her hair from her face.
"Here, you should sit up more, and tuck your legs a bit." Dis instructed gently and Ila slowly tried to do so. Layla had come to stand behind her mistress, waiting for any instruction. Thorin had not moved from where he sat, but knowing he probably did not want to actually see their baby being born. He had seen many difficult and bloody things in his time, but he imagined he'd have no stomach for childbirth. Still, he hated the thought of abandoning his wife in her hour of need.
Though, he wasn't much help. He was afraid to touch her for putting her in more pain, and she barely seemed to register that he was even there.
Finally, they heard footsteps and labored breaths coming near them, signaling that Oin had finally arrived.
He hobbled through the door with a bag in one hand, panting as hard as Ila.
"The stairs harder than they used to be?" Thorin said through gritted teeth, trying not to show his annoyance.
"Aye well I'm not getting any younger now am I? And nor are you." Oin returned.
"Now, now give the queen and I some space." He said gesturing at them all crowded around the bed.
"You should probably go, actually," He said to Thorin and Dis gave him a look to reinforce that statement.
Thorin looked to Ila and bent down to kiss her gently on the forehead. "I will be right outside my love. Be not afraid." He whispered and she squeezed his hand hard, opening her pain stricken eyes to blink pitifully at him.
Oin was right; he did not want to watch his wife in such pain, being powerless to help her. He knew this was the natural way of things but it didn't make him feel any better about what she had to face.
Thorin left the room and went to sit in their antechamber, listening for any progress on the other side of the door. There was no knowing how long this would take, it could take hours or even a couple of days in some extreme cases he'd heard of. He fiddled with his hands, looking at the floor, having no clue what to do with himself.
On the other side of the door, Ila was feeling a little better, the pain easing off as it had before, but she knew it would come again. She could feel the skin of her belly tightening and the baby moving inside her. The pain in her abdomen was worse every time, and she wondered how long before it became absolutely unbearable.
She was so focused on the pain that she hardly cared at what a compromising position she was now in, her gown pushed up to expose her belly that Oin had felt for the position of the baby, then a cloth spread over her knees to provide some privacy. Oin stood at the end of the bed, monitoring any progress, of which there was currently none.
Dis was at one side and Dwala at the other, trying to keep her cool and reminding her to breathe deeply. She wondered if she would know when to push, and Oin said it was not time yet. But when would it be? Would she even know how to push? Ila let a tear slip from the corner of one eye, which Dis wiped away.
"It is alright my dear, you are doing well. You won't even remember this when you see your baby." She encouraged her in a motherly tone, and Ila was very happy to have her there, being the only one in the room that had done this herself.
Dwala was nervous but hid it, staying strong for Ila and assisting Oin as he needed it. Her hand went to her own stomach to see if it felt different, but it didn't. She did however feel a bit sickly, but that could very well be due to current circumstances. She silently prayed this would be a quick delivery, but there was no way to tell yet.
Thorin was so lost in thought and worry that he didn't even hear Fili and Kili walk in.
"Uncle," Fili said and his head shot up. "Anything yet?
"No..." Thorin shook his head and went back to staring at the floor. "But it's not been long."
Fili and Kili sat across from their uncle on the couch that sat in the middle of the room, determined to wait it out with him. They both noted to themselves that they weren't sure they'd ever seen him that worried before, and Thorin had faced my trials and foes.
Kili was worried himself, but made sure to only display the appropriate amount of that. He had a cause to be concerned, that being his aunt and the heir, but no cause to be on the verge of vomiting which is how he really felt. He worried for her safety, as the childbed was a dangerous place for a female of any race. He looked at the floor too, not wanting to give anything away and not knowing what he could possibly say to make anyone feel better. Fili was the only that tried to make conversation, and he failed horribly. As such, the three of them just sat in uncomfortable silence.
As Ila had feared, the pain had gotten worse and worse. She was drenched in sweat and gripping the pillows, even when she wasn't in pain. Her belly continued to feel tight and her back ached and she dug her heels into the bed. It felt like it had been hours but it had only been about thirty minutes.
"You need to get up and walk around a bit between your pains," Oin said and Ila's eyes shot open.
"What?!" she called over her stomach at him.
"The baby is not ready to come out and you are not ready either. It will be a little while yet and it will could make things progress faster."
Ila rolled her eyes at the ceiling. She did not want to try and get up. But with Dis and Dwala's help she did just that, walking slowly in circles around the room, with Dis and Dwala each holding an arm to steady her, until her pains hit again. This was easier than she expected, and made the time pass a little faster, but Ila was growing extremely impatient.
Not that the baby cared, because this went on for another three hours. Ila finally reached the point where she could not walk anymore and she laid down for good. Oin checked and lowered the cloth again. "Almost time to start pushing your highness."
Ila exhaled and groaned as she shifted on her back. Dwala held her hand and fanned her some more. Outside, Kili and Fili were laying over the couch now and Thorin was laid back in the chair. Dwalin had come to sit with his friend as well. No one said much, but twiddled their thumbs or dozed off while they waited. That was until Ila's screams jolted them all alert.
Thorin looked with alarm to the door. He wanted to rush in there but two more screams and she was silent again. No one said anything but looked around nervously. Kili felt sick and Thorin pushed his hair back feeling sick too. Dwalin looked particularly uncomfortable and wondered how he would be able to deal with this when and if Dwala became pregnant.
Oin had declared with Ila's scream that it was finally time to push. With her legs tucked and Dwala and Dis supporting her from behind, Ila tried to do just that. She felt like her lower body was splitting apart. The pains were rapid now and she barely had time to rest between them. Her back was killing her and the pressure in her bottom was intense and painful. She was trying not to scream but she just couldn't help it anymore. Everyone urged her to push and Ila wanted to scream at them to shut-up. Lucky for them she couldn't talk anymore.
The constant chorus of screams had Thorin thoroughly unsettled now, and he had taken to pacing in the hallway but with the door open in case someone called for him. Kili feared that they were listening to Ila dying on the other side of that door and doing nothing to stop it. Fili and Dwalin looked horribly uncomfortable and finally Dwalin got up to join Thorin in the hallway. Kili wanted to break those doors open and help her somehow. He fidgeted in his seat and Fili shifted uncomfortably too before going to stand in the hallway too.
Now alone, Kili clasped his hands and prayed to Mahal to deliver Ila safely from this. He would give anything for her to be alright, take any vow in exchange for her life. He squeezed his eyes shut tight as he heard Ila wail again, pleading for the babe to come into the world already.
Ila suddenly felt a burning sensation and wailed harder than ever.
"The head is coming out," Oin narrated.
"Push Ila, push you're almost there." Dwala urged.
Ila was in excruciating and searing pain. She barely had the energy to scream, but she managed. Dwala and Dis pushed on her back and helped her. As the baby's head passed, Ila screamed so loud she was sure all of Erebor heard it, perhaps even Dale.
"Once more!" Oin cried and Ila fell back into Dis and Dwala's arms, sobbing and gasping for air.
They pushed her back into position and urged her on one last time. Ila summoned just enough energy from where she knew not, then finally pushed her baby free.
Ila immediately collapsed on the bed, chest heaving and breath erratic. Her whole body ached as though she had been trampled by herd of wild horses. She closed her eyes for a split second before she heard it and they snapped back open.
The cries of her baby. Ila looked down to the end of the bed, waiting to see, waiting to hold him. She held her breath as Oin lifted the babe.
Dis and Dwala looked on in breathless anticipation with her, ready to see the royal baby, the heir.
Oin's ancient hands lifted the healthy, squirming, crying, and not small baby dwarf up for them all to see.
"Congratulations your highness, it's a healthy baby girl." He said happily.
Time stopped. There was utter silence, and no one drew a breath. Ila felt like her heart stopped as she beheld the baby. Her baby. Thorin's baby. And not a boy. Not a son. Not an heir.
Dwala looked to Ila, eyes wide and waiting for her reaction. Dis looked to Ila as well. Dwala feared Ila might reject it and weep mournfully for a second, but after what was truly only a split second of hesitation on Ila's part she burst into tears and thrust her arms out for her baby.
Oin placed the babe in Ila's arms and she clutched it to herself as though she feared someone were about to snatch it away from her forever. The little dwarfling had very little blood on her and had shut her eyes as she wailed, not having wanted to leave the comfort of her mother's womb.
Despite wailing her head off, Ila thought the baby was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen. She only wished she'd open her eyes so she could see them, so she could see her mother. Ila no longer felt any pain and paid no attention to Oin still busying himself with whatever happened after the baby came out. Ila was oblivious to it. The whole world lay in her arms now.
But…..a girl was not what was wanted. Fear seized her heart. Thorin would be disappointed. Erebor would be disappointed. What if Thorin didn't love the baby? What if he couldn't forgive her for not having a son? Ila held her baby even closer now, pressing it to her chest.
Dis smiled warmly and looked in love too, reaching out with a hand to help support the baby.
"She is beautiful Ila, you should be proud," she said. Ila was still crying though, and afraid.
Dwala held Ila from behind, whispering words of praise and encouragement.
The baby was quieting a bit being in its mother's embrace, and finally opened her eyes. Thorin's beautiful blues stared directly up into Ila's hazel ones.
Ila cried even harder, blubbering practically as she fell instantly and madly in love.
Dis moved to get up and retrieve Thorin, but Ila realized what she was doing.
"Please! Not yet…..let me hold her for a moment longer before you tell him that—"
"Shhhhh." Dis calmed her. "I will speak with him. All is well my dear. You have your little one and she is well." Dis assured her, but knew why she felt afraid. She knew her brother however, and knew Ila was overestimating his disappointment.
Ila leaned on Dwala now, cradling her new born and waiting to see how Thorin would take the news.
Kili looked up expectantly as his mother entered the antechamber.
"Where is your uncle?" she asked.
"The hallway. How is Ila?" he demanded standing up.
"She and the baby are fine." Dis assured her youngest.
"Erebor has an heir then?"
"No," Dis said quietly and went from the room. Kili stood dumbfounded as he watched her go.
No heir. So…the line of succession still rested with Fili for the time being then. Not that it mattered, she would surely have a boy next time.
But…..how would uncle take it? He would have to be a little upset, perhaps so much that it would cause a rift between them….
Thorin was pacing all the way down to the other end of the corridor and broke into a run when he saw Dis appear.
Dis raised her hands to stop him and as he reached her concern marked his face with terror ready to follow.
"Calm yourself brother, and listen to me." Dis said as he came to stand in front of her, Dwalin and Fili close as well.
"What of the baby? How is Ila?" he demanded.
Dis took his hands and looked him directly in the eyes.
"Ila is well, as is your daughter." She said calmly.
Thorin took a moment to let that sink in. Ila was well, and so was the baby. His daughter. He had a daughter. Not a son, but a daughter.
Thorin exhaled in relief, and went to move from Dis to go to her, but she stopped him and stood in the doorway.
"Thorin, Ila is terrified. She is afraid because she didn't give you a son, because she didn't produce an heir. You must not let her see you are disappointed." Dis commanded.
Thorin looked at her like she had two heads.
"Disappointed? How could either of you think that? How could you think I would be disappointed?" Thorin asked with sincere disbelief.
Dis didn't know what to say for a moment. This was not the initial reaction she had expected. She didn't think he wouldn't be happy, but that initially he would be saddened by not having a son. Apparently, she had been very wrong.
Thorin didn't wait for her to answer and moved past her swiftly. Fili and Dwalin were left looking at each other in the same disbelief that Dis felt.
Thorin didn't notice Kili as he walked past and threw the bedroom doors open. Ila nearly jumped out of her skin as she looked to her husband.
Dwala braced herself for what she thought was going to be a less than pleasant reunion. Ila did the same, holding her baby and looking down at her, not at Thorin.
Thorin reached the bed, sitting down on the side and drawing Ila into his arms. Her tear filled eyes turned up towards him and he wrapped an arm under her arm to support the baby. The babe looked up at her father, being all calm and quiet now, and Thorin's mouth spread into smile that threatened to break his face.
Turning to Ila with the same smile, he spoke quietly into her ear.
"The world needs princesses too, my love," and kissed her on the temple.
Ila sniffled and let a single tear fall, relaxing into Thorin's arms, all fear and anxiety gone.
"She is perfect," Thorin gushed, "she is perfect my beautiful love." He said as he gently placed a finger in her hand for her to grab.
Dwala's heart warmed to see Ila so happy, but also to see Thorin being the dwarf Ila deserved. She was glad she didn't have to hit him over the head with a vase like she'd planned if he had entered the room being anything less than overjoyed.
Everyone's eyes were on the happy trio, and no one noticed Kili standing in the door. A slight smile played on his lips, relieved beyond words that Ila was well. But his heart was also heavy as he beheld the happy family, wishing beyond reason and infinity that it was him holding Ila, and his baby in their arms.
Ila opened her eyes to see Kili by the door and gave him a weak smile. He returned it and nodded, walking from the room and past his mother, brother, and Dwalin as they came to peak at the royal family too. Dwala went to her husband and he wrapped an arm around her, pulling her close. Kili kept walking, out of the room, down the stairs, and to where he knew not. He just kept walking.
Ila closed her eyes again, ready to fall asleep in Thorin's arms. Their babe was falling asleep too, warm and content in her parent's embrace. As Ila was drifting off, emotionally and physically exhausted, she realized something.
"Her name…..what is her name?" Ila asked Thorin.
Thorin gently stroked her face while looking at their babe. He looked to Ila and smiled.
"Thora?" he asked his wife.
Ila only smiled, too tired to answer any other way, and fell asleep on Thorin's chest. Thorin looked to their daughter and swore that she smiled too.