Five years and seven months later
"Daddy!" I turn at the sound of my daughter's voice. It's my favorite part of the day: time to pick up Eve from day care. She's just turned four, and she's got me even more wrapped around her little finger than her mother has.
I crouch as she runs towards me with her arms out, leaping into mine. I kiss her round, soft cheek. Her teacher waves and I nod, standing with my daughter in my arms. She clings to my neck, wrapping her little legs around me and hanging on as I walk to the car.
"How was school?"
"Boring," she says, her voice muffled as she buries her face in my neck.
"Boring? Boring how?"
She lifts her head and fixes me in her serious blue stare. She has Guinevere's lovely almond-shaped eyes, but with my color. It's a unique and surprising contrast to her caramel-hued skin. Of course, to me, she's the most beautiful little girl in the world. Eve looks just like her mother. However, she could have green skin, yellow eyes, horns, and a tail and I'd still find her beautiful. She's part Guinevere, part me, and all her amazing self. "I'm not learning anything, Daddy. All the other kids don't even know how to read yet."
"Don't you like the art projects?" I ask, taking her little hand and looking pointedly at her paint-stained fingertips. "I see you did some today."
"Yeah, but that's the only fun thing. Today, we talked about the letter E," she says in a tone that suggests she is well beyond discussing individual letters. Then, she actually rolls her eyes. I sigh. She's far too young to be doing that already.
I pause a moment outside the car as a strange sensation steals over me. I find myself wondering if the egg salad sandwich I had for lunch was off.
I place Eve in her seat and help her buckle herself in. "I'll talk to the teacher. Maybe she can find something more challenging for you, all right?"
She smiles and nods. "Like reading my own books while they do that dumb stuff? I would sit and be quiet and not bother anyone."
"Well, I don't know that I like you calling it 'dumb stuff,' but your idea sounds good," I respond.
"Sorry, Daddy. But, gluing googly eyes on a construction paper E is dumb." She crosses her arms in front of her chest.
I'm inclined to agree, but say nothing. She doesn't need any encouragement.
I climb into my seat and drive, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the music on the radio. My daughter completely sings the wrong words in the backseat, but I don't correct her. At a stoplight, I smile at her in the rear view mirror and she makes a silly face at me. I make one back at her and she giggles.
Wait. Something is familiar. I feel like I've been here before. Like I've had this conversation with Eve before.
But, how could that be? Eve is our firstborn. I certainly wouldn't talk about googly eyes with anyone else.
My eyes drift to the wedding ring on my hand. I spin it with my thumb, watching the pattern move as it glints in the sun.
"Green light, Daddy."
I shake my head slightly to clear it. "Thanks, Sweet Pea," I say, driving another block, then parking the car.
"Are we surprising Mummy?" she asks.
"Yes," I tell her, lifting her down. She takes my hand and we walk to the familiar storefront.
We walk in, and Guinevere's back is to us, her hair in a braid. She's talking to Sefa, oblivious to our presence. Drea sees us from her place behind the counter and waves. I lift my hand and put a finger to my lips.
"Go get Mum," I lean down and whisper, and Eve runs the short distance, tackling her mother from behind, throwing her arms around her hips.
"Oof! I hope that's my daughter!" Guinevere exclaims, twisting around to look down at her tiny assailant. A warm, loving smile spreads across her face and she reaches down to smooth her hand over Eve's unruly curls.
"I like this surprise," Gwen says, stooping down to kiss and hug her little clone. "And you brought Daddy as well," she adds, smiling at me as she stands.
"I got done early," I explain, leaning over my child to kiss my wife.
"Mmm, I see that," she says. "How was the presentation?"
"Eh. I think it'll be fine," I shrug. "The council liked the idea for the senior living facility, so now we go to the next step."
"Sefa, you look like you're going to pop," I say.
"I feel like I'm going to pop," she chuckles, running her hand over her huge pregnant belly. "Next week cannot come soon enough. Percival is jumping out of his skin," she chuckles.
"Really? I'd think he'd know the drill by now. It's not like this is your first," I say, laughing with her.
"Yes, but you know him," she says, sighing happily.
"Auntie Sefa, is he moving? Can I feel?" Eve asks.
"He's sleeping now, Love, sorry," Sefa says, smiling down at her.
"You're certain there's only one in there?" I ask, teasing her for the thousandth time.
"Quite. He's a big boy. But, of course, look at his father," she chuckles.
"True," I agree. "You ready to go?" I ask Gwen.
That strange feeling is getting stronger now. This is all so familiar. I feel like I'm living something I've already seen. Like I'm acting in a television show. It's beginning to unnerve me.
"I have my own car, you know," she says.
"Leave it. I'll drop you off tomorrow morning. I want to take my two favorite girls out for dinner," I say.
"Yay!" a small voice exclaims, and my legs are trapped in a tight hug.
"Mrs. Pendragon," I say, pulling her towards me, "is that agreeable to you?"
"Mmm-hmm," she hums, smiling. I hook my finger under her chin and kiss her again, lingering over her lips a moment.
A moment too long, apparently, because there are small hands tugging at my trousers.
"Daddy!" a tiny but insistent voice exclaims.
"Okay, okay," I say. "This one had better be a boy," I mutter, ghosting my hand over Guinevere's still-flat stomach as we walk out. "Goodnight, Sefa, goodnight Drea," I call. They wave.
"You love giving in to your women," Guinevere teases.
"I do," I admit, grinning. Honestly, I would be 100% on board with having another girl. I would be just fine living in a house full of women. Even our dog is female.
However, if we have a son, I will bloody well make sure he knows how to treat a woman. I'll give him the guidance and support I never received.
And my daughters will not only know how to conduct themselves as ladies, but also how they should be treated by men.
She kisses me again, heedless of the tiny hand tugging me towards the car. "I love you, Arthur," she says.
"I love you, Guinevere," I answer, rubbing my nose against hers.
I secure Eve in her seat and slide behind the driver's seat.
Then, it hits me. I know why this is so familiar.
"Guinevere," I say, turning to her. "Remember my dream? That one I told you about a hundred years ago?" I ask.
"I seem to recall you had a few," she says. "Can you narrow it down a bit?"
I furrow my brows, trying to remember. "The... the first one. We hadn't been together very long."
"I think so," she says.
"The one with our daughter in it?" I prompt, the memories flooding back in a torrent. I start the car and she gasps. She must have remembered.
"Wait... You mean to tell me...?"
"Yeah," I say, still rattled by the experience. "I think it just happened. Picking up Eve. Coming to surprise you. Sefa talking about being huge. It was all in the dream."
"What dream, Daddy?" Eve pipes up, having heard her name.
"Daddy had a dream about you, Sweet Pea," I say. "It was a good one."
"Okay. I want to see Uncle Gwaine. Can we go to Rising Sun?"
Gwaine now owns the Rising Sun and has transformed it from a modest diner into one of the most popular restaurants in Camelot. He and Leon love Eve like she was their own, and she, of course, just eats up their attention.
I'm curious to see what will happen when she has to share them with a sibling.
"Yes, Love," Guinevere says. "So, your dream was a vision," she adds, softer now. Eve is obviously not old enough to learn all about my sordid past.
"I guess so," I answer. I shudder slightly. "It was a very strange feeling. I'm going to have to call Merlin later, I think. Maybe Morgana."
"If one of them doesn't call you first," she answers knowingly. I laugh. "So, at what point do you wake up?" she asks after a minute.
I steer the car into the parking lot of the Rising Sun and pull into a spot. I glance back at my beautiful daughter and look across at my beautiful wife. My Guinevere, with our second child growing inside of her.
I lean over and kiss her softly. "Hopefully, never."