Six months later, on a bright fall morning, the entire kingdom breathed a sigh of relief when Queen Guinevere of Camelot safely delivered a healthy baby boy.
And a healthy baby girl.
Rumors circulated throughout the five kingdoms that both infants look exactly like the King, except for their darker skin tone and curled wisps of hair.
King Arthur had been beyond worried for his queen and was even haunted by dreams of her suffering the same fate as his mother. He was so relieved Guinevere survived childbirth he did not fully comprehend their double blessing.
Close at her side on their bed that afternoon, he ponders their little bundles, one in each of his wife's arms, as she sits propped up on pillows against the massive headboard.
Guinevere shifts slightly, a slight moan escaping her lips.
"Are you terribly sore, Guinevere?" Arthur asks softly. He cannot even begin to fathom what it is she went through this morning. And late last night, when her water broke as they were preparing for bed.
Yes. She's much stronger than I'll ever be, he decides, looking again at the two – two! – tiny people who have just joined them.
"Yes, I'm sore. But it was worth it. Twins. I can hardly believe it."
"Neither can I." Arthur turns and reaches for a vial on the nightstand. "Gaius left a remedy to aid in your recovery, if you'd like it," he says, offering her the draught.
"Hands are full," she says pointedly. Arthur smiles and lifts his daughter from Guinevere's arm, holding her gently, as though he was born to it.
"Thank you," Gwen answers, shifting her son up to rest against her chest. She reaches for the vial, peers at it a moment, and removes the stopper. She sniffs. "Oh, dear," she sighs, tipping it to her lips, drinking it slowly at first, then quickly finishing it.
"Ugh! That is truly awful!" she exclaims softly, making a pinched face. Arthur, trying not to laugh at his wife's face, takes the vial and returns it to the nightstand. He then moves closer to Guinevere's side, wrapping his free arm around her, pulling her gently against him. She sighs and rests her head on his shoulder.
"I love you, Guinevere."
"And I love you, Arthur."
"Thank you for giving me our beautiful children."
Guinevere smiles. "You're welcome, my lord." She sighs and continues, "Thank you for naming our son Thomas."
Arthur chuckles. "Thank you for naming our daughter Ygraine," he returns and kisses her softly, sweetly.
They take a moment to enjoy the quiet, knowing their children will want to be fed soon. Guinevere had insisted, with Arthur's full support, that she, not a wet nurse, would feed their babies and tend to them as much as her duties would allow. Arthur has determined said duties will be greatly reduced for the next several months.
"Guinevere," Arthur asks, kissing her temple, "did you have any idea you were carrying two babies?"
She shakes her head in wonderment. "No. I felt huge, very tired, and did I mention huge? It was especially difficult during this last month, but I thought it was because of my small stature."
Arthur, pondering this, tightens his arm around her shoulders. Little Ygraine scrunches and squeaks in her sleep, and a moment later, as if he sensed it, little Thomas does the same thing. Arthur smiles, the reality of this still not sinking in.
All he knows is whatever gods were looking out for his wife deserve some sort of amazingly decadent offering. He obviously knew of the dangers of delivering one baby, but two? He squeezes his eyes shut, banishing from his mind the previous months' gut-churning worries of looking forward to the birth of their child, but dreading it all the same.
Guinevere, reacting to the effects of double-childbirth and Gaius' draught, starts to doze off against Arthur's shoulder, but his deep voice pulls her away from sleep.
"I asked Gaius."
"I asked Gaius if he suspected anything out of the ordinary," Arthur whispers, trying to remind himself that all is well.
"What did he say?"
"He said each time he examined you, all the signs pointed to one baby."
Guinevere shakes her head. "None of us – Gaius, the midwife, me – knew or suspected."
"Incredible," he sighs. "Though the way Merlin was acting, you'd've thought he knew all along. He was downright smug, for some bizarre reason."
Guinevere chuckles. "He's just happy for us. You know he's going to love these children as much as we do."
"I know," he admits, lovingly kissing her forehead and inhaling her sweet scent, finally starting to relax. "Do you know what else Gaius said?"
"He added, 'It appears, Sire, that one of the babies was hiding.'"
Guinevere quickly looks up into her husband's twinkling blue eyes, a slow smile spreading on her face. "Hiding?" She raises an amused eyebrow at him.
"Indeed," Arthur smiles and deeply kisses his Guinevere.
A/N: Special thanks must go to my beta/story editor and dear, dear friend for most of the content of this little epilogue! I was going to leave it after the last chapter, but she presented me with this little bit of loveliness, and I knew I had to share it with the world. :)