Nineteen

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It seemed to take forever before Ewen could return to Freya in the birthing chamber. There were so many men that protocol allowed to personally view the new prince and wish him well. Finally, protocol satisfied, Ewen was able to return to the chamber where Freya was.

He had looked immediately to the bed and was filled with an overpowering feeling of relief to see Freya lying in the bed. She was too pale for his peace of mind, but in the time he had been following the protocol of displaying his son to the kingdom, the midwife and her assistant had cleaned her up and changed the bedding that was stained with her blood.

As Ewen entered the room, Freya instructed her personal maid to elevate her slightly with pillows that she could see her son and Ewen better. Ewen moved towards her holding their son carefully. As he handed him to Freya, he saw the tears in her eyes as she looked down at him. Exhausted from his outraged crying, the heir had fallen asleep. In the chamber with Freya was the young wet nurse who had been tasked with the feeding of the heir, but while their son slept Freya took her time in looking at him and memorising his features.  His hair was dark like hers and Ewens but she could not see yet who he most resembled. Too soon he stirred and started rooting for milk. With a sigh, Freya summoned the wet nurse to nurse him.

Having given her some time first with their son, Ewen moved closer to her. He dismissed the maid that remained and asked for the midwife to attend Freya as soon as he was finished in the chamber.

Finally, Ewen could do what he had wanted to do all day. He bent down and kissed Freya gently on her forehead. He smoothed her hair and whispered loving words in her ear. His lips moved across to her mouth and he kissed her on her lips gently.

'I am so proud of you my love,' he whispered.

Freya smiled tiredly up at him.

'How do you feel?' he asked gently.

She smiled again.

'Like I rode a wild horse for a week without resting,' she said softly.

Ewen winced as he remembered her pain and the blood between her legs.

'I am so sorry my love,' he whispered with remorse.

Freya laughed softly at him.

'It was how it is for a woman,' she replied with a smile. 'At least with an heir I can avoid coupling with Augustus.'

Ewen laughed at that. He had not thought of Augustus yet that day, even with his ambassador present. Ewen thought somewhat ironically that the next idea that Augustus would have would be an alliance between their new son and his yet unborn daughter. It was after all, through alliances that kingdoms were kept secure.

Ewen realised then that they had not yet decided on a name for their son. Freya had suggested Ewens father's name, Owen for their son. Ewen was less certain and wanted to see their son before they named him. Perhaps some part of him was still concerned he would have a daughter instead.

Freya's thoughts mirrored his own. She said softly to him,

'What are we naming our son?'

Ewen smiled at her.

'Would Owen suit you my lady,' he enquired.

Freya smiled widely then. As she nodded her assent he saw her eyes tear up again. She wiped her eyes embarrassed by her lack of control.

'Shhhh,' Ewen comforted her, holding her head close to his chest. 'It is not every day you provide the heir to two kingdoms. You made me proud today.'

Too soon the wet nurse returned with Owen bringing with her the midwife and Freya's personal maid. Ewen felt the now familiar push of resentment in him as he left the birthing chamber. The affairs of state weighed too heavily on him at times.

That evening for the first time in nearly a year, Ewen sat alone at the head table during dinner. To his left the chair usually occupied by Freya was empty. He wondered how he would have managed had she died in childbirth. That chair would have remained empty until he could find the courage or desire to remarry.

Although Ewen had never liked the old King who was Freya's father, for the first time ever he had a glimpse into the life he must have had. A child who was his heir but an empty bed and empty life.

As Ewen left the Great Hall, having toasted as was tradition before moving down the long hall towards his private chamber, he felt an enormous sense of gratitude. In his chamber his wife lay sleeping as her body recovered from the ordeal of the day, his son in the royal nursery under the watchful eye of his nurse and the midwife.

Ewen got carefully into bed and kissed Freya gently on her temple. As he drifted off to sleep he felt profoundly happy.

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