Epilogue - Five years later

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"Hmm."

"What is it?" I asked cautiously.

Naery's hand was warm and big against my busting belly. Her hand moved slightly, twitching, then settling back into a stiff position. I unknowingly bit my lips as her eyebrows crinkled together, adding wrinkles to her already creased face. Something was not right. I could feel it.

The summer light shone through the many windows opened around us. Our home had not been brighter and the air was clean and so was the dusty beds and cupboards and chairs lying around. After Father died, cleaning the house wasn't a high priority.

But it is now. Since Ethan had rambled on about how a pregnant woman shouldn't be in a dirty house. He had threatened to drag me to the much, much bigger home that is Valaria's castle. I almost shivered at the thought.

I focused on Naerys. "Tell me, Naerys. Is the child alright?"

Ethan, who was sitting next to me, tightened his grip on the humongous chair I was sitting in. It was twice my size and had ridiculous floral patterns.
I could understand why he was flustered and I, in return, felt twice as bad.

Naerys sighed and pulled back her hand from my exposed stomach. The child was only in me for three months, it looked like six. My heart thumped at the odds of the child being ill.

Calm, I tell myself as I leaned back against the almost liquidy chair, it was so soft. It won't be an illness. I won't let it.

Ethan sensed my worry and his hand immediately found mine and finding comfort, I didn't let him go. After all these years, his hand was ever warm and it still reminded me of the forest in summer. I made a mental note of visiting it later.

"So?" I quirked a pale eyebrow at Naerys despite the hard thumping in my chest.

"Strange, I sensed more than one life in there," she said, face wrinkled with deep confusion.

I almost rolled my eyes. "You forgot about me, Naerys. I count as one life too."

She shot me an annoyed look. "I know that, girl. I'm saying that there's more than one child in there!"

My eyes widen as something bursts in me and my tongue turns to sand. Ethan, who was quiet with distress, suddenly shouted, "Twins?!"

He turned to me with glowing emerald eyes and a teeth-filled smile. My husband never looked happier, but my heart thumped and banged as my mind burned back to Laila.

"Cathellyn," I could almost hear her purr. I willed it away, telling myself that it had been years, years since the incident.

Naerys stares at me with a concerned look, and she takes my hand softly.
Her hand is soft and cool. "Remember what I said, Cathellyn. Do not try to fight it, let it pass," she says in a soothing voice.

I broke out a smile. "I'm alright, I will be fine." For my child-- no, children. I say to myself. Children, gods. My mind is too full and cloudy as if there was a fog in my head.

Ethan noticed, leaned down and kissed my brow. He smelled like the forest, like mint and summer grass. "We'll be alright, love," he said softly. My heart calmed slowly, like a horse slowing down to a trot.

He smiled the smile I love, the one that showed how happy he was and this time he was tremendously happy. Then again, I love all his smiles.

Naerys seemed to be cupping her chin on the chair opposite of me, her forehead wrinkled. "No", she whispered so low that I could barely hear it. "It can't be twins, it's too large." Suddenly, her eyes lighted up and clapped her together with glee. "It must be three!"

"Three?!" Ethan and I exclaimed together. A lightness formed at the base of my heart. Three children? Three lives inside of me?

I rested my head on my fist, suddenly becoming extremely weighted. Next to me, Ethan's eyes shone like polished emeralds. He looked like a child that got his first toy. Only this time, the toy is three living, small humans.

I sighed, resting a palm on my protruding belly. It was soft and strong and when I first felt the little ones kick, Naerys told me our child would be like the womb. Soft. Strong. Like me and Ethan. Heirs of our mind and body. Grow well, I whispered to the lives in me. Grow strong. Be wolves and lions and dragons, but be kind, too. I can feel something blooming in my heart, something warm.

As if the children listened to their mother, I feel it moved in my womb and they kicked, twice. Ethan let out a short laugh at that, and strokes the smooth skin of my belly. "When they're born, I want to take you and them to the castle. Mourlin would love them, I'm sure of it."

I snorted. "They're not even born yet, Ethan." Mourlin is the daughter of Caspien and Ariella, and the future queen of Valaria. Blond haired, hazel eyes, and dimpled cheeks, the four-year-old girl was sweet and loved by all. Yes, Mourlin would love them.

Ethan grinned at me. "Six months is a short time for me."

I rolled my eyes at him but smiled inwardly, heart warming with the new passion for our children and the sweet love for Ethan. I don't think I would ever not love him.

Naerys broke me out of my thoughts. She was at the door and when she opened it, bright, warm sunlight poured in. "Take care of her Ethan, and you Cathellyn," she said with sharp eyes. "I want to see the children grow before I rot."

For me, it sounded like a wish than demand, and I nodded at the old, immortal woman, watching her as she walked into the almost otherworldly sight of summertime. As soon as she walked out, children swarmed her, laughing and playing around her. They were the orphans that Naerys had taken in. In a way, Naerys now has her own bunch of children. Something in my mind told me that she must've always wanted them after years of living alone in the forest.

Naerys didn't the close the door, and I and Ethan listened to the fading sounds of children laughing, the soft, melodious chirp of birds. It felt calm and peaceful.

I leaned on Ethan's arm, taking comfort in him. For a long time, we said nothing-- only listening.

Then Ethan broke the silence by looking at me with a smile and said, "We'll be happy, Cat, I promise." I loved seeing him smile, I loved it so much.

I pulled him nearer and planted a soft kiss on his cheeks and whispered, "I'm already happy."

The End.






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