Mother of the Evenstar - Sequel to "Daughter of the Golden Wood," part two

Celebrian gritted her teeth, trying not to cry out in pain as the contractions began again. Mannaurwen, who luckily was skilled as a midwife, didn't make a sound as Celebrian gripped her hand tightly, only said, "Push, my lady! This baby won't come out by itself, you have to help it!" The matter-of-fact, almost scolding tone of her lady-in-waiting was oddly comforting to Celebrian. She obeyed as best she could.

"There!" Mannaurwen cried triumphantly. She tugged free of Celebrian's grip and knelt on the floor, below Celebrian's upright body. "I see its head!" Celebrian clenched her fist so tightly her bones ached, and pushed again. Mannaurwen gently took the baby and pulled carefully, to help it come out. The body slid out easily after the head, and Mannaurwen handed her mistress' child to her assistant, who began to wash the infant. Mannaurwen reached to help Celebrian.

"No!" cried Celebrian sharply. "No. It's not done - " She gasped at a contraction, then finished, "Yet."

"Not done yet?" Mannaurwen gasped.

Celebrian shook her head. Tiny beads of sweat gathered on her forehead as she gathered her remaining strength and pushed again. All her thoughts were concentrated on getting the other baby out. She couldn't help it: a cry escaped her as she pushed again.

"Once more," Mannaurwen murmured from below her somewhere. "Once more, my lady - " Celebrian's eyes teared up, but she let the tears fall and pushed...

And the second child slid out. Mannaurwen caught it gently and gave it, too, into the care of her attendant. "Well done," she praised, turning to Celebrian. "Well done, my lady - my lady!"

Celebrian heard Mannaurwen call to her, but from very far away. There was a roaring in her ears, and her knees felt weak. Funny, she thought dazedly, I don't remember feeling so sore. Then she fell backward onto her bed in a dead faint.

***

Her vision was hazy, but there was something she wanted, something she had to have..."Elrond!" Celebrian called. "Mannaurwen!" Her voice sounded thin to her ears. She was unbelievably tired.

"What is it?" That was Elrond's voice, and it was close. Celebrian was relieved that he was near.

"My - our - children. Where are they?" Celebrian blinked, and her vision cleared enough to see Mannaurwen and her helper, arms folded, let out identical sighs of relief.

"They were wondering if you were ever going to wake up and ask," Elrond explained, smiling, as he put one bundle in one of her arms and a second in the other. Now Celebrian could see very clearly, and the faces of her babies seemed perfect to her. "Both boys," Elrond added, sitting on the bed beside her.

Celebrian touched the wrinkled nose of one, the tiny, perfect fingers of the other. "Twins," she said, a little helplessly. "What will I do with them?"

Elrond laughed. "That's why you have me, Celebrian," he teased. "Actually, you could say it's good that we have two, because now we don't need to argue over what to name the one!"

Celebrian laughed - weakly, but it was a laugh. "What names were you thinking of?" she asked.

"I've always liked the name Elladan," Elrond replied. "I sometimes wish I had been named that instead of Elrond." Celebrian laughed again, more strongly this time. "And you should name this one," he added, touching the head of the second one.

"Hmm..." Celebrian ran through her favorite boys' names in her mind. "What about Elrohir?" she suggested. "I think that's a nice name."

Elrond smiled. "It's a wonderful name," he approved.

Elladan woke up and began to yell. That woke Elrohir, and he copied his brother, squalling loudly. Celebrian looked pleadingly at Mannaurwen. "They have to eat, my lady," the Elf-woman pointed out.

Celebrian blushed - why hadn't she realized that? - and let Elladan and Elrohir suckle. Elrond put his arm around her, and she lay back against him, drowsy and blissful and contented.

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