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Thread: An Heir and a Spare - 7/11 morning, Firefell - Grant/Bradyn/Maera [open]

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    House Hepburn Grant Hepburn's Avatar  
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    An Heir and a Spare - 7/11 morning, Firefell - Grant/Bradyn/Maera [open]

    The woman came bursting out of the lady's chambers so fast that she nearly killed Bradyn with the swinging door. She made no apologies however, as she bustled by with a handful of bloody rags. The Lord of Stone Forge tried to peak into the door to see what was going on, but one of the midwives quickly slammed it on him. He was about to protest, when his brother-in-law, who was occupying himself by digging dirt from his fingernails with a dagger, looked over and shook his head. "Relax, Hallward. She's doing fine."

    But Bradyn Hallward was not so sure. He knew that his wife was strong, and that the two of them came from good stock, but all that blood was starting to make him nervous. "And what the fuck do you know about child birth, Hepburn? She's screaming so loud that they can hear her in Maple Glade!"

    Grant chuckled at that and rolled his eyes. "Well, I hope for your sake that you're wrong. If they can hear her in Maple Glade, then Satrina will be on her way." Of course, the man couldn't be sure that his grandmother wasn't already on her way. The old woman never needed an invitation to anything, and if she were scaling the mountain in her carriage this very minute, Grant would not be surprised.

    The nursemaid was passing through again, two buckets of steaming hot water in her hands. "What's going on in..." Bradyn couldn't finish the question before the woman was back in Maera's chamber and kicking the door closed behind her. He turned back to Grant and threw his arms up in the air. "Do you believe this? In my own house!"

    Hepburn smiled and sheathed his dagger. Moving to the table by the window, he poured a glass of wine and handed it to Hallward. "If you wanted to be in charge, Bradyn, you married the wrong woman." Grant knew first hand what it was to try and be lord of his own house while Maera resided there. "It won't be long, now. Let us toast to your child and your wife." Lifting the glass to his lips, Grant sipped and mumbled into it. "And many more years of screaming, I'd wager."

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Maera heaved an exhausted cry and collapsed back on the sweat-soaked sheets, panting heavily, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. "Just once more, milady, just one more great--"

    "Push?" Maera demanded. She didn't dare to take her hands from the straps that had been affixed to the bedposts, and consequently her tears mingled with the sweat of her cheeks and brow and burned her eyes. No one ever said childbirth was easy.

    "Yes, milady. You're almost there," said the chief midwife, leaning over to lay a cool cloth on Maera's forehead before resuming her position between Lady Hallward's legs. "Just one more great push and you'll be through it." Only that was a lie. It was four great pushes, in between which there was much cajoling and pleading to do it again, before Maera's first son was wrested from her, smacked on the bottom to elicit a stifled cry, then taken to be made presentable and swaddled. Meanwhile, Maera was too involved in producing the spare that remained to protest that her son was being taken to the next room to be presented to his father without her so much as catching a glimpse of him.

    "My lord," the junior midwife said with a broad smile as she emerged from the birthing room with the baby in one arm. "Her Ladyship is safely delivered of one son, and will soon deliver a second. The chief midwife says it shouldn't be long now. Would you like to take him?"
    Last edited by Maera Hepburn Hallward; 09-13-2013 at 09:31 AM.

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    The first soft cry from the baby made Bradyn turn and look in shock, though he was well aware of what should be happening. When Grant had heard it, he had risen and started crossing the room. "Congratulations, brother," he said, patting Bradyn on the back. He watched approvingly as Hallward was handed his son. "Looks like you," he added, but it was far too soon to make out the features that might or might not distinguish the boy as Bradyn's.

    Turning to face Grant with the baby, Bradyn nodded. "Thank you," he told the other. The child was warm in his arms, and the man held the boy carefully. "A son," he said to himself quietly, before turning back to Hepburn. "Your sister has decided to name him Grant. Would you like to hold your nephew?" Bradyn had no desire to let the child go, but he was trying to be polite, and to reward Hepburn for his patience and his company in the last few hours.

    Grant held up his hands in protest, curling the one around the wine glass tightly. "I'm flattered. But Maera says I'm a clutz who breaks every nice thing he ever had. I'd rather not press our luck," he told the other. He was about to go on when he heard a distinctive slap and the crying of another voice. "She's likely exhausted. You should go be with her."

    Hallward nodded. "Thank you," he said, a tear forming in the corner of his eye. As he turned through the doorway, he cradled the baby close, approaching the side of the bed. The nurse was cleaning the second child, and Maera already had the linens pulled up over her legs. She looked pale, and was covered in sweat, but she was still awake. Her hair was matted, and the makeup she had been foolish enough to put on that morning was running across her face. As he set the child in the crook of her shoulder, he bent over the bed to kiss the woman tenderly on the lips. "You're a beautiful, my lady. And I love you."

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    "Don't be absurd," Lady Hallward said, not looking up from her baby except to kiss her husband lightly before turning her attention back to the baby. "He's already hot hair," she whispered, half to herself and half to Bradyn, as if this were some astounding observation. The hand not supporting the infant's neck ran along the top of his head, brushing the downy stuff this way and that, and he fussed momentarily before settling contentedly against Maera's body. A tiny hand wrapped around Maera's finger and she felt a bizarre pang of some emotion that mixed equal parts unbridled joy and heartbreaking sadness.

    Could Maera be turning maternal?

    "How shall we tell them apart? This one was first, right? Do we need to tag them, perhaps?" She wriggled her finger in her son's grasp. It was bittersweet, for she knew eventually he would be taken from her and installed as priest in the temple, just as Bradyn's older brother had been. It was unusual, but Maera had married into rather an unusual family -- a price to pay for the influence and luxury she now enjoyed. And as she listened to the gentle, rhythmic breathing of her firstborn son, she tried not to think of the other price she would pay, the cost of her firstborn daughter, sacrificed to the flames to appease the traditionalists and their gods.

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    If Bradyn was struck by her dismissal, he didn't show it. His wife was a great many things, but she rarely accepted compliments. Especially from him. "We will make sure to keep them swaddled in different colors," he told her. The nurse was handing him the second child, his heir. He looked and the boy and turned for his mother to inspect him. Grant was pouring another glass of wine outside in the drawing chamber, which caused Bradyn to turn back around to face his wife. "Maera, love. Your brother is here," he said, though he couldn't be sure why the Hepburn man was so against coming in to see his sister.

    Striding to the doorway, Bradyn looked at the scribe he had summoned. "The Lady Hallward has delivered unto Stone Forge two sons. In her honor, there is to be a general amnesty granted to the populace, and a suspension of taxes for sixty days." The scribe nearly dropped his pen. It looked as though he were about to question the man, but Bradyn lifted the child to his shoulder and glared at the servant. "I know you heard me," he said in a warning tone. "And that extends to the Beaumarche prisoner as well." There would be repercussions for that. Only Bradyn knew that the eldest Beaumarche was in the dungeon. He was a well kept political secret.

    Grant was watching curiously, and Bradyn stopped when he caught the man staring. "You are my welcome guest, Lord Hepburn, and welcome to do as you please. That being said, I advise you to call upon your sister to offer your congratulations." There was something in his voice that made it clear that it wasn't a request, and Grant chuckled and patted him on the shoulder as he walked by.

    Bradyn followed him, and watched from the foot of the bed as Grant approached Maera and kissed her on the forehead.

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    "There you are," Maera said, smiling brightly at her brother and turning her face up to accept his kiss. "Did Bradyn tell you we'd like to name him after you? Grant Something. Bradyn wants Patrick--" She wrinkled her nose and thought she could see Grant pulling a face --"I know, but he's rather insistent. You know how he can be. Well I think they should each have one of each. So Grant Royston, I think, for this little one. And I like Bradley Seamus for the other." She straightened, then winced and settled back in the pillows.

    A moment later, the nurse came by and reached for the child. Maera's eyebrows furrowed. "Milady, they'll need to be washed up and measured. For posterity."

    Maera glanced over at Bradyn. "All right. But just be sure to keep them straight and don't get them mixed up." Maera handed off her son and stifled a yawn, leaning back into the pillows. "Goodness I'm tired." She sighed and reached over, grabbing her brother's sleeve and pulling him close. "Come down here." She leaned up to whisper in his ear: "They say it will be some time before..." She flushed scarlet. "Look. If he needs to take a woman, just be sure that it's someone he won't get attached to, all right? I'll want him back when--ah, there you are," she said, releasing Grant as Bradyn returned. "They've taken baby Grant to be washed and measured."

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    House Hepburn Grant Hepburn's Avatar  
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    "I'd have passed to Patrick as well," he commented to his sister, a small smile creeping over his face. "Just be glad you had no daughter. He'd have wanted to name her Satrina, and then where would we all be?" Maera had told Grant of the traditions of the Hallward family, and though he wasn't sure he approved, there was some part of him that would be curious to see how his grandmother would react to hear that the child they named for her was going to be tossed into a volcano. Likely, it would have been quite the spectacular melodrama, followed by a fierce conflict over the decision. Silently, Grant wondered who would win out.

    When she pulled him near, a worried expression came across the man, though as she went on, his smile slowly returned. As Bradyn came back into the room, Grant made a show of placing his hand on Maera's forehead. Turning to look at Brady, Hepburn frowned. "Lord Hallward, would you call the physician back? I believe your wife is spiking a fever."

    Bradyn flashed him the necessary concerned look, and handed off young Bradley to a nurse, before leaving again to search for the doctor. Grant turned back to Maera and scowled. "Have you lost your mind, sister?" She had just been through some ordeal, delivering twins after hours of labor, and so he didn't go too hard on her. "He'll do no such thing, and I'll be summoning Seamus to see to it. Bosleigh...well, he's a little occupied."

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    "I am not getting a fever," Maera said waspishly, but when she put her forearm to her forehead and instantly recoiled. "Perhaps a small one," she admitted, her eyebrows furrowing with concern. "Would you be a darling and see if there's any ice. Suddenly it feels so terribly hot." She shrunk back into the bed, shoving one of the heavy blankets off her.

    "Delaney says it's the natural order of things," Maera said defensively, glancing at their mother's letter, tucked back into its envelope on the bedside table. "If he hasn't got a mistress since I've been in confinement, she says he'll have one soon enough. If he needs a diversion, that's..." She took a deep breath. "That's fine. But not someone in favor of whom he could think to put me aside. Can't you get some distant cousin who will do as she is bid and go back to her hovel when her services are no longer required?"

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    House Hepburn Grant Hepburn's Avatar  
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    Looking back at the door and seeing no sign of Bradyn, Grant chuckled aloud. "So that I understand you correctly," he began, standing and pouring her a glass of red wine. They said it was good for blood loss, and if the number of rags leaving the room was any indication, his sister could use it. "You've received advice from a woman that you think is a shrew, with nothing in her head but fluff, and you are basing this ridiculous conversation on it?" He laughed again and handed his sister the glass, scooping a pillow from the side chair and placing it behind her back to prop her up. "Honestly, Maera," he said as he went back to pour himself one.

    Pulling the seat in closer to his bed, the man leaned into his sister and lifted her hand from her side, kissing it lightly. "If there is one thing that Stone Forge will not tolerate, it is a scandal. You should know this by now. If Bradyn has needs as your mother so eloquently puts it, I'm sure he knows where the local brothel is located. He certainly is not going to bring another woman here and let the servants gossip about it." Grant paused as a midwife came in and checked Maera's forehead, poured her a glass of water, and left. "Besides, Hallward is no fool. He's not going to cross the Hepburns. If he wasn't scared of our political might, Bradley wouldn't have arranged this marriage in the first place."

    Leaning back in his chair, Grant sipped his wine thoughtfully. "On top of that, I think he likes you." Bradyn seemed genuine enough, though it was hard to tell. His sister was very cold at times, and Grant never knew how close she might let someone get. There hardly seemed room for sentimentality. Either from her, or to be directed at her.

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    House Hallward Maera Hepburn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Maera glanced at her brother through the stringy hair that had clouded her face, then pushed it back off her forehead. "A brothel?" she demanded. "And suppose someone sees him going in? And suppose he brings something unpleasant back from the girls there? Do you want me to get a pox?" She heaved a sigh and twisted uncomfortably in the blankets, her body suddenly feeling very warm. A moment later, there was a rap at the door and the nurse came in with some cold rags. She laid them across Maera's forehead and gave Grant a glance.

    "Her Ladyship needs rest, Lord Hepburn," she said brusquely. "She feels feverish and she will need to sleep."

    "Where is Bradyn?" Maera asked, trying to sit up. The nurse managed to keep her pressed to the mattress.

    "I must ask you not t'upset her, m'lord," said the nurse, giving Grant the eye.

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    House Hallward Bradyn Hallward's Avatar  

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    Hepburn was smiling at the nurse as he rose and bowed. Turning back to the patient, he patted her hand. "I will summon your lord husband, my lady." Looking back to the woman shooing him from the room, Grant motioned towards Maera with a sweep of his hand.

    "She's asking for you, Lord Hallward," he told Bradyn as he came back into the waiting chambers of Lady Hallward. "I'll be out in the yard, if you need me," he added, making his way out to the hall.

    Watching him go, Bradyn frowned, and left his clerk to seeing about the amnesty, and made his way back into the woman's chambers. "My love," he said as he approached the bed, and noted the rags draped on her forehead. "Are you alright," he asked, looking to the nurse with daggers. Taking the seat where Grant had just been, he took her hand in his and patted it. "Your brother said you wanted to see me." He could tell the other woman was not happy about his presence, but he ignored her sighing for now. If she knew what was good for her, she would keep her tongue in check.

    Taking a moment to fluff Maera's pillow behind her head, he brushed a few stray of matted hair from her cheeks, and smiled. "I do not envy you the recovery, Maera," he said softly. She would no doubt be sore for more than a few days.

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