“Your majesty,” the old woman, Maga, said softly to me. “Perhaps you’d prefer to wait outside.”
I frowned at her as Arwen squeezed my hand harder. “No. I shall remain here with my wife.”
The woman blinked in surprise. “But your lordship, it’s most unusual for the man to remain.”
“Get used to it!” I thundered and diverted my attention back to the woman of my heart. I heard Maga scurry away.
Arwen grinned softly, her eyes dancing. “You were a bit harsh perhaps?” she teased.
I let out a long breath. “Yes. perhaps. But I’m in no mood right now. I’m fretful, and concerned. And I don’t need arguments!”
She raised a hand and brushed her fingertips along my lips. “Sshhh. It’s all right, Aragorn.”
I humphed, not understanding how she could be so calm. “Where is the blasted physician anyway?”
I looked up in time to see Allegar, one of my knights, turn from the window. “He’s just come into the gate, sire.”
“Took his time,” I grumbled and looked back down at my wife.
This time she had the audacity to actually giggle at me! My deeper frown quickly subsided her however. “Estel,” she breathed and was about to say something else when she suddenly gasped in pain.
I bent down as her hand crushed mine. “It’s all right.” I soothed running my hand along her cheek. “Remember what your maidens told you. Breathe properly.”
Arwen’s eyes were wide with a mix of terror, wonder and surprise. “I didn’t imagine it would hurt so much,” she managed to say.
Finally she made me smile. I merely shook my head, my eyes softening. Then I remembered the physician.
“WHERE IS HE?!” I hollered.
Alllegar jumped at the tone of my voice. “He-he’s at the entrance to the 7th level now, majesty.”
A hand against my cheek and I turned to look at my wife. “If you can’t calm yourself, son of Arathorn, I shall banish you from this room when the time comes.”
My eyes blazed. “You’re in no position to be dictating at the moment,” I replied tersely. “And need I remind you that as king I outrank you?”
I blinked in utter confusion when Arwen burst out with a lustful laugh. “True enough!” she said between peals. “But there’s other ways I could punish you, proud Dunadan. I could forbid you from the bed chamber!”
My face surely turned crimson at her bold statement. Hastening a glance around, I saw several of the knights and nurses smiling or chuckling quietly. And I had to admit that once again, the daughter of Elrond had put me in my place.
My reply was lost in the opening of the door. The physician rushed in. “Forgive me, your majesty,” he stammered out of breath. “I was helping a woman with triplets! Three! One after another!”
It took all of my reserve not to tell the man that I wasn’t concerned with how many others he was handling, only Arwen mattered to me, but I knew that would be wrong, so I let the comment die ere it reached my lips. My wife [whom I’m utterly convinced now can read my mind!], however, looked at me, her eyes dancing again.
In the meantime Sarvain was getting ready for the task at hand. He looked over at me kindly. “Perhaps you should go now, your majesty.”
“Don’t,” Allegar softly warned the man. The physician looked over at him in surprise. “Please.” He continued gently yet firmly, “The king is staying.”
So amused was I at my knight’s actions, I had to briefly cover my mouth with my hand lest anyone should see the smile. I forced my eyes down and looked at Arwen again.
Her beautiful eyes danced and she smiled up at me. Suddenly again, without warning, she cried out and curled forward.
“Oh my, my!” Sarvain declared, rushing to her. “I see the time has come hasn’t it?”
Arwen, trying her best to breathe properly, nodded. “The pains come more frequent now. And they’re getting worse.”
The physician nodded. “This is a good sign. If everyone who doesn’t belong would please depart, I’ll need room to work.”
My knights all looked at me and I nodded just once at them. Wordlessly they filed out of the chamber but I knew they’d immediately take up post just outside the door. I knelt down beside the bed, Arwen holding my hand tight.
“It’s going to be all right,” she said to me and for the first time I realized she was trying to reassure herself as well. “Sarvain is a wonderful man. And I’m in excellent health. There are no dangers.”
“There are always dangers,” the physician said gravely, approaching the other side of the bed.
I nearly bound up and strangled the man where he stood! Only Arwen’s grasping of my hand stopped me. Somehow the man caught the drift of his tone nonetheless.
“But-but everything here is just fine. Dangers are only for those less prepared and informed,” he quickly stammered.
Nice come back, Sarvain. It appeased me. Somewhat.
Again Arwen cried out, rather forcefully this time. My heart wrenched in my chest and I held her hand as tightly as I could without hurting her.
“Can I please get this over with!” she panted.
It took only a matter of minutes for the physician and his nurses to station themselves into proper positions. I was encouraged by Sarvain to hold my wife’s hand, whisper soft encouragement to her, and not really watch her agony lest I get upset. Blessed! The man knew me too well!
Before long it seemed as though Arwen would just go through one spasm of pain and another would hit her. After these became more and more frequent, she began to cry. Not sobbing, just gentle tears of pain. It broke my heart. I demanded a nurse wet a towel for me and I soothingly ran it over my wife’s face and throat. Her eyes beamed appreciatively.
“Not much more now,” I heard the physician say.
Arwen groaned and threw her head back on her pillow. “I can’t take anymore,” she whimpered.
I leaned forward and kissed her cheek. “Just a few more my love and it’ll all be over. And just think of what’s to come!”
She smiled. “I can’t wait.”
I smiled back at her and nuzzled my nose against hers. “Neither can I.”
Another spasm of pain and I went nearly deaf with the cry. Not to mention the fact that I could no longer feel any sensation in the hand that she had in her grasp! I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer asking for protection over my bride.
“This is the final one.” A nurse, who stood at the head of the bed, said soothingly. “When Sarvain tells you, you must go with the pain this time and endure it as long as you can. The pain will be worse than any you’ve felt thus far, but when it’s over…”
Arwen nodded. “I’m ready,” she panted.
The physician nodded. “Go with the next spasm then, your highness.”
A moment later such a spasm hit. Arwen shrieked in agonizing pain and my heart leapt to my throat. Grabbing my hand with all the strength she could muster [and amazingly this was a LOT!], she continued to go with the pain instead of trying to subdue it. Another cry and a yell from her and she slumped onto the pillows.
“ARWEN!” I cried out in alarm.
It seemed like eternity before she opened her eyes, and when she did her gaze fell not on me but to the physician.
I heard a young, but lustful cry fill the air and let out the breath I’d been holding for what seemed like an eternity. Closing my eyes again, I sent a prayer of thanksgiving.
Shaking, I managed to stand as a nurse approached me, a small bundle in her arms. “I’m proud to present to you, your majesty, your child. A son.”
A son! I had a son!
Trembling, I reached out for the small life. My hands felt huge compared to his smallness. I turned him towards me and was startled by the intensity of the keen gray eyes. He blinked at me, a small hand rubbing his tiny nose.
There was no way to stop the smile that alit upon my lips. He was beautiful. I could see her in his eyes, his lips. My chin and nose he seemed to have inherited, along with a good shock of raven hair. “He’s beautiful…” I breathed.
Turning towards my wife I knelt down and put the child in her arms. She looked at him lovingly and kissed the top of his head. My heart swelled with love at the sight and I felt myself faulter. Felt a lone tear trickle down my face. I cared naught. I was too moved by the sight that greeted me!
Arwen looked at me finally and smiled, her eyes brimming not only with tears, but also with love.
“Thank you,” I finally managed to say with a catch in my throat.
She said naught in return, just closed her eyes briefly.
“Do you have a name for him, your majesty?” I heard Sarvain inquire.
“I do,” I said proudly. “He shall be called Eldarion.”