Chapter Eight

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A/N -- Yes, I know this took a long time. Again, I'm sorry. I've had a lot on my plate. But as consolation, here's a painting of Ghost that I did for you guys!

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Iris took a long breath. It had been six weeks to the day Roslyn and Aislyn were born. She looked around, her tired eyes checking for anyone around. It was before dawn. In those weeks, she'd had all the late nights she never wanted, all the visitors she loved with her, and all the crying that she could take. It was entirely exhausting at the same time that it was wonderful.

But right now, it was her time. No one else's. Hers. She was outside. Rhalla had refused to train her in any regard, fitness or combat, for at least two more weeks, due to 'health hazards'. Kayde had been keeping a close eye on her activity too, making sure she wasn't doing too much. She'd managed to sneak outside though for the past four days for her early morning runs, though, because fuck it she felt fine and she'd do what she damn well wanted to.

Her body hadn't quite yet returned to its former state, but for all intents and purposes, she was still fit. She had kept up her exercise for as long as possible during the course of her pregnancy. Her arms and legs still curved with muscle. But by all the gods, the loose bit that accrued over her lower abdomen drove her nuts. She had been told what felt like a million times that it was hardly even noticeable --and more than a million that she was still very beautiful, but she didn't think it.

So she ran. She used all the creams and salves religiously Sorella had given her to lighten her marks and tighten her skin.

The run almost reminded her of the times she'd ran with Kayde before dawn during her soldier training. Ah, but believe it or not, she'd hurt more then than she did now. So she went until the sun rose, feeling naught but the wind in her hair and the breath in her lungs.

In the time she ran, she thought of her family -the family that had grown tremendously in a year's time. They were all good thoughts. That is, until she broke the trees from her morning to find Rhalla waiting for her at the front doors of the sanctuary. She could tell that her sister was indeed waiting for her by the look on her face.

Seems she couldn't keep any secret from Rhalla. Iris decided the moment she saw her sister that she wouldn't be the cat caught in the cream, so to speak. She brazenly continued to run until she was within touching distance, which might have not been wise.

"Good morning," Rhalla said, her brow raised.

Iris took a deep breath. "Likewise."

"How are you feeling?" came a question that almost caught Iris off guard. She'd expected some sort of reprimand.

"Exhausted," Iris admitted. "But that's nothing new, I guess."

"Ah, yes," Rhalla chuckled, uncrossing her arms. "Children do that. How's your mindset?" The question was to the point.

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