The Storm in his Highland Heart – Extended Epilogue
The noise inside Kindrochit Castle was deafening.
It was as if every soul within was so full of joy that they couldn’t keep from crying out. Laughter, friendly chatter, whoops of joy, all this filled the air like a blessed chorus. The time had finally come! Davinia had taken to her chambers to give birth to twins. It was only a few hours past sunrise when she had stirred Kadrick from sleep, her deep blue eyes wide with surprise and pain. The early rays of the sun had begun to stream into the windows, illuminating the stones of their beloved home. Soon the snows would come again, but today the sun was bright and the sky a vivid blue.
In the highest part of the Laird’s tower, Kadrick Macinroy watched with excited amusement as his wife paced back and forth across her chamber floor, her hands perched on her hips. This was not her first battle, and she seemed more a seasoned general now than she had been with little Eelidh.
Speaking of the girl, Kadrick heard her little voice from the doorway, where she was struggling with her Nurse to try and gain entry.
Their eldest daughter was two now and just as headstrong as her beautiful mother. When Eelidh was born, Kadrick had been gripped with abject fear, but Davinia had taken to childbed like a fish to water. Eelidh’s birth had been quick and clean, and there had been almost no complications. The Laird of Kindrochit had wept tears of joy as he held his wife and newborn daughter in his arms, thankful to God that they had come through their travails unharmed. It seemed so long ago now that he’d stood in this very room, desperate for entry, just to watch the life drain from Annot’s eyes. Now he walked over to his daughter and cradled her in his arms. She squirmed and cried out.
“Where is Mama? Where is?”
Eelidh had inherited her mother’s dark hair and blue eyes, but her face reminded him of Lorna when she was a wee bairn. She was a sweet child and bright as well. Kadrick was very proud of her and spent hours wandering the castle with her dangling from his arms.
“Mama is very busy today, child. Hush now.”
Lorna entered the room and planted a kiss on her niece’s head. Though she hadn’t been present at Eelidh’s birth, she’d insisted on coming to Cairnwell for this second labor, as this time Davinia was pregnant with twins. The whole pregnancy had been easy, just like with Eelidh. Still, neither of them could forget what had happened to Annot that fateful night, and neither was willing to take any chances. Even though Lorna herself was a few months pregnant with her first child, she’d made the journey and would stay with them for a few weeks after the birth if Davinia needed her.
Davinia had been nervous this time around, as her own birth had been too much for her late mother. Though she had not suffered giving birth to Eelidh, she had still spent many sleepless nights thinking about what might happen if anything went wrong. They’d talked about what he would do if anything happened to her, though Kadrick had been loath to have that conversation. Now that he’d spent these few years with Davinia by his side, the Laird of clan Macinroy could not imagine any sort of life without her. He shook the thoughts from his head and smiled at his younger sister.
“She is impatient to have it done.”
At just that moment, Davinia let out what could only be described as a snarl. Her eyes were alight with fire, and she paused in her pacing, leaning forward to rest her hands on her thighs.
“I think it’s time!”
Lorna rushed forward, and Kadrick passed Eelidh back to the nurse. The girl started crying, but Kadrick couldn’t focus on her right now. She would be fine once she saw that Davinia was alright. Davinia had to be alright. He, Lorna, and the village midwife helped Davinia to the bed. Kadrick could see sweat beading on her brow, and he watched in wonder as her giant belly rose into the air. She’d grown great with child very quickly, and they had suspected early on there might be two babes within her womb.
He met her eyes, and she smiled, but then her face grew serious again.
“Remember what you promised me.”
In the time since Eelidh’s birth, they’d often talked of their own parents, and how they saw many things differently now they were parents. It had been hard for Davinia to come to terms with the fact that her mother’s death might have led her father to resent his own children. She cared so profoundly for Eelidh that she could never imagine subjecting her to such treatment, no matter the circumstances. But they had helped each other heal and promised never to repeat the mistakes their parents might have made in the past.
“Don’t speak of such things, woman. Ye’ll come through this just as well as the last time.”
He surged with pride, remembering how bravely she’d faced her first time in childbed. She was the strongest, most amazing woman he’d ever known. Nothing would take her from him. God would never allow it. The happy life they’d begun to build here would not end in blood and grief. He felt it in his soul. They’d both seen enough pain to last a lifetime. Their happy days had only just begun.
Davinia took a deep breath, and the smile was back.
“Do ye think they’ll both be girls then?”
They laughed together for a moment, as they’d often joked about how they hoped to have a castle full of girls so they would have to name one heir. She’d worried at Eelidh’s birth that her inability to give him a son might have upset Kadrick, but nothing could be further from the truth. As long as she was the woman bearing his children, he didn’t care if they were girls or boys. As long as they were theirs.
“More than likely. We all see how Eelidh drives you to distraction. If God has any sense of humor, he’ll send us two more.”
She stared up at him with love in her eyes, and he leaned down to place a kiss on her forehead. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath of her scent. He noticed her flinch in pain as he rose, and Lorna stepped forward, placing a wet cloth on her brow.
Davinia obeyed and drank the little vial that Lorna offered. Her face wrinkled at the taste of it, but she swallowed it with no issue. After a moment, she leaned back on the pillows, and Kadrick noticed her body begin to relax, though she was still flinching in pain every few moments.
“We’re close now, back up, brother.”
He obeyed as well, though Kadrick was loath to leave her side. The world seemed to slow down as he heard Davinia cry out, and he felt his head spin as the midwife hurried over, placing herself between his wife’s legs. He tried to steady himself. Though labor had begun, it might be hours yet before-”
“I see a head!”
Lorna looked shocked, and Kadrick heard Davinia let out a roar, her hands gripping the bedclothes and her whole body shaking with the effort.
“Push Davinia! Push now!”
Davinia grunted and braced herself. Kadrick went to her side and gripped her hand.
“It’s too fast! It’s happening too fast!”
Her breath was starting to come in short spurts, but Kadrick shook his head and stroked her face, making soothing sounds to calm her nerves.
“Hush now, no, now. They are eager to meet us, that is all, do not fear.”
That seemed to harden her resolve, and he felt his heart swell with love as she bore down to make another attempt. He felt her grip his hand with a surprisingly strong, strong enough to almost hurt. That had to be a good sign. His woman was a fighter through and through.
“Ah!” the Lady of Kindrochit cried out and gave one last valiant push before falling back onto the pillows.
After a second, Kadrick heard the shrill cries of his child fill the room, blending in with Davinia’s panting. He turned to her and then to Lorna.
“Davinia come, ye must rally! Push again!”
Davinia took another breath to rest, and then she was back up off the pillows, bearing down for another assault. Kadrick couldn’t help but smile. She was no wilting flower. She would fight till her last breath.
“Ye can do it. I love ye Davinia, come, finish this quickly now.”
She rolled her eyes at him, and he laughed again, but then his smile fell as her face contorted with pain. Lorna sucked in a breath, and he felt dread fill his belly. He didn’t even have time to ask about the first babe when he heard the midwife call out.
“Brace yerself, my Lady, I’ll have to turn the babe.”
He didn’t know much about childbirth, but Kadrick knew that meant the second babe was flipped upside down in the womb with its feet facing outward. He watched in a panic as the midwife reached inside Davinia to turn the baby on its head. Davinia screamed, and he leaned down, placing his mouth near her ear.
“I am here. I am with ye. I’ll never leave yer side.”
Kadrick wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw her nod, even as she was experiencing this agony. He hoped his words gave her strength. He needed her; he could not lose her now.
“Now, my Lady! Push! Push!”
She did push, and when he heard the second cry and felt her fall back onto the bed in exhaustion, Kadrick felt tears begin to roll down his cheeks. Only then did he turn to Lorna, who was now standing before him with a bundle in her arms. Behind her, the maids were busy cleaning the other squalling baby.
“The first was a boy,” Lorna said softly.
“And the second!” the midwife cried out from between Davinia’s legs, where she was packing his wife’s womb. “Two healthy, bonny boys! Praise the Virgin!”
Kadrick heard Davinia laugh from the bed and reached out to Lorna. He was in awe as he gently took the little bundle from his sister. As with Eelidh, he was amazed that something so small and delicate could exist. It was half of him now resting in his arms, little eyes wide and a perfect mouth curling up in a confused smile. He watched as the midwife brought the other boy to Davinia’s side, resting him in his mother’s arms.
“What are we to name them?” she looked up to him, her eyes low with fatigue but her smile beaming with joy. “One shall be Angus, of course.”
Kadrick felt his heart constrict with gratitude and love. His wife was going to be fine; his children were healthy; his family was safe.
“And the other Thorkel.” He lifted his first-born son in his arms. “Our sons.”
“Our sons,” Davinia repeated, staring up at Kadrick with devotion evident in her tired eyes.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. It opened, and Kadrick’s new general walked in.
“Yes, Gawain?” Kadrick asked softly so as not to startle little Thorkel, whose eyes were now slowly closing. “What news?”
Gawain smiled at the scene before him, but then his face sobered.
“Scouts have seen storm clouds on the horizon. A winter wind blows in quickly from the east.”
Kadrick looked down at Davinia and then at Lorna. He knew that they would never be able to truly wash away the memories of that fateful winter storm, but this was a new day. All of them would survive because when they were together, nothing was impossible.
“Fear not,” Kadrick said softly. “There is no storm we cannot weather; all will be well.”
For the first time in his life, after everything he had experienced, Kadrick truly believed the words that he spoke. He feared no storm without and no storm within, not when they had their love and their family to keep them safe and warm.
Kindrochit would stand, and they would stand within it, all of them, bound safely together in any season, through any raging storm.
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