She faced the Sea, in all it's beguiling mystery, and stared out at the empty vastness of water that stretched as far as her eye could see. She felt so lost, alone, and her worries threatened to crush her. The if only mocked her. If only she could carry a child longer than a few weeks, or a few months.
Her grief at losing her babies threatened to tear her to pieces. She closed her eyes against it, against the pain. Instead, she forced herself to concentrate on the sound of the seagulls far in the distance, and the feel of the Sea that reached out with cold fingers to grab at her toes and soak the hem of her dress. Sometimes if she listened hard enough, she could even hear the sounds of singing, a haunting melody of such beauty that it would often times soothe her soul. Tonight, she only heard the Sea.
She did not hear her husband's approach, until he was upon her, so intent were her thoughts. His softly spoken, "Ava?" startled her, and she turned to look at him briefly, before turning back to the Sea.
"Turin said I might find you out here." Ava remained silent, her eyes steadfast on the horizon. "He says you spend a lot of time out here, by yourself." Morgan said awkwardly, trying to fill the gulf of silence between he and his wife. "Ava," he said gently, "I'm not sure all this time you spend alone out here is good for you."
"What would you know of how I spend my time?" she asked sharply. "You are gone for weeks sometimes months, home a few days, and then gone again. You won't talk about what you're doing, or who you've been with..."
"Ava," Morgan sighed wearily. "We've been through all this before. It is War, I do not care to talk about it when I am home, I want to forget about the fearsome creatures that breath fire so intense, just to be within a few feet of its flames will burn you to a crisp. I do not want to talk of the Ogres that cross into our lands, and rip our people into shreds, or the many other horrors that have been leaving the Forbidden Forest these past ten years. For a few days I want to forget about all the fatherless children, and widowed wives, the death and destruction, and I just want to be with you."
"I just don't feel I am a part of your life Morgan."
Morgan grabbed her hand, and held it. "Ava, you are my life." He tugged her gently. "Come, walk with me."
"I have brought you a gift, I left it at home. It's a stray pup that I found, and he needs a good home. I have been calling him Rags, but you can call him whatever you'd like."
"A dog is not a child."
Morgan sighed again. "I know Ava. I know you grieve the loss of..."
"I do not care to discuss it." Ava knew her refusal to talk hurt Morgan, but she could not help herself. The pain was still too fresh, and too intense for her to give it words.
"Ava," Morgan said hesitantly, "it's been several years, maybe we should take a break, from trying to have children, I mean. You need some time to..."
"I'm expecting again." Ava said abruptly. "Best I can figure, I conceived the last time you were home, that means I am about two months along. It is still early, so the Midwife says I may still lose this child, as things are not as they should be. Turin tells me it is the Way of the Ever Living One, to give Life, and to take it back. I hate His ways." Ava said bitterly. "All I have ever wanted, was to be a mother, and I may never get the greatest desire of my heart."
There were many things he could say, the list went through his head, and he rejected them, one by one. "Ava, let this one be the last." he finally said. "It is taking a toll on you and me, and our marriage. You my dear wife, are more than sufficient, I do not need children."
"You need an heir." she said sadly.
Morgan shook his head no. "I do not need a biological one. Mayhaps we could adopt, when the time comes to where I need an heir. We are still young yet, there is time."
"There is still time yes, I may still be able to conceive and have your child, Morgan. One of your flesh, and of my own."
"That is not important to me, Ava, you are."
"It is important to me Morgan!" Ava said passionately. "What kind of woman, nay what kind of wife would I be if I am unable to have children? Isn't that a wife's duty? A Queen's duty?" Her voice started to rise in hysteria. "I will be known as the Barren Queen, and it breaks my heart!"
Ava shook her head wildly. "I will be incomplete until I have our baby in my arms."
Morgan sighed, sometimes there was just no reasoning with his wife.
The next day was spent mostly in stony silence. Morgan tried again and again to get Ava to see reason, but all he managed to do was upset her more. Finally he gave up, and spent some time with the dog that he had brought home as a gift for her.
It was with some relief that Turin told him his wife wished to see him in the Garden Grove. With a fair amount of trepidation, since his last talk had not gone so well with her, he walked to the Grove, and found her standing in the little gazebo, looking off into the distance. "Ava, you sent for me?" She turned towards him.
She smiled at him. "Isn't this a beautiful spot?"
He looked around him, "Yes, it's very nice."
She laughed softly. "What a polite answer! I know you are not into such things as I am, but the beauty and the color has helped remind me of what is important. Life, and all it's wonders." She spread her arms out. "Look at that sunset, and the flowers in bloom all around us, it is simply breathtaking."
Morgan looked straight at his wife, "I'll say." He directed his comment at her, and not the scenery around them.
Ava blushed. "I'm sorry for being so moody lately, can you forgive me?" She moved into his arms, and he tightened his arms around her. She buried her nose in his coat, and breathed in his smell. She loved the way he smelled, of pine forest and earth.
"I could be persuaded." he teased, relieved to see a sparkle back in her eyes instead of the bleakness he often saw of late.
"Well, let me work on my persuasion skills then." she teased back.
"Am I forgiven yet?" she whispered, several moments later.
"I'm taking it under consideration."
He laughed. "But of course, I only wish I could help you."
"I know you do, but, I just can't talk about things yet. But there is hope for this one that I am carrying."
"Hope, yes indeed." He twirled her around, and she laughed, enjoying the moment in the here and now with her husband. Her fears still clogged her throat, but she was determined that Morgan would not know. She swore she would be a Queen he could be proud of. One that was brave, independent, strong, not the fearful, melancholy person she still felt she was, on the inside, but she would make sure that Morgan remained unaware of that weak creature. "Dance with me?" he asked her.
"Well, there's no music for one."
"We do not need any." And indeed, they did not. They danced until the light faded, and then hand in hand, they walked home.
The next afternoon, Morgan cautiously and quietly opened the bedroom door, and then stepped in. He wasn't sure what to expect, only that Turin had told him Ava had been weeping inconsolably for hours. Though he was afraid he already knew the reason for her tears.
"Ava?" he whispered. She did not reply, her shoulders were heaving, and he could hear her harsh weeping. The sound felt like shards of glass in his heart. How he wished he could comfort her, offer some words of some kind, but there was so little that he could do. He sat on the bed next to her, and pulled her into his arms.
"I lost..." she started to say, but she couldn't complete the sentence.
"I know." he said softly.
"I thought for sure I could keep this one." she cried. Morgan didn't know what to say, or do, so he just held her tighter, and listened. "I just want a baby!" Suddenly, Ava turned in his arms and kissed him, startling him.
"Ava, I don't think this is such a good idea." he protested, even as she began to undo the buttons on his coat, even if his body was starting to think it was a great idea.
"I don't want to think." she murmured, and then she kissed him again.
"I have to leave in the morning, I have been gone from the battle for too long as it is. This time, I will probably be gone for months." he warned her.
"Then stop wasting our last little bit of time together by talking so much."
Ava threw herself into being a Queen that Morgan would be proud to have by his side. She locked her pain deep inside during the daylight hours, but at night, as she gazed at the Sea, it would come rushing back. Her tears numbered as numerous as the sands on the beach, or the stars in the sky, but she could not help them. She ached with the longing for a child of her own.
During the day she smiled, she laughed gaily, she played with the village children, she did whatever she must to hide the pain behind her mask. She cooed over the new babies, of which there were so many, but this one cost her the most. Today, today though, she had an errand of her own to do, so there would only be one person she was going to visit. She picked her pace up, eager to reach her destination.
She had not thought about consequences the night she and Morgan had last made love, she had only been thinking of her grief, of lost dreams and shattered hopes. She had wanted to only forget for a few hours, and it had worked. They had not slept much, for in her dreams she could see her children, their arms wrapped around her, giggling and laughing. So when she woke, the pain was nearly unbearable. No, she had not wanted to dream, or think, and her husband had obliged her.
Just four nights past, she had felt a slight fluttering in her womb. She had froze, and waited, sure she had only imagined it because of her fierce longing, but no, she felt it again. She did not know how it was so; so quickly after the losing the other child, but she knew it was so. She had been down this painful road so many times.
She spent countless hours, reading all that she could, on the hope of finding some secret to keeping her child safe in her womb until it could be born. She did not know if she could go through yet another loss. In her reading, she read that were some herbs and teas, that made it more likely to carry a child full term. The text gave some clues as to what the herbs were, though Ava had not heard of them she knew who to ask. The village had an herbalist by the name of Mimi Simms, she should know the herbs that Ava sought.
Ava found her, outside of Mimi's home. "Hello!" she waved to Mimi.
"Hello my Lady!" Mimi curtsied. If Mimi was startled to see her Queen show up on her doorstep she did not show it.
"Please, call me Ava." Ava smiled. Mimi smiled back at her. "I am sure you are aware, as is most of the Kingdom, that I have been unable to carry a child to term. Well, I discovered, " she hesitated, then continued on, "I discovered that I am expecting again. I have been reading a lot of lore these past few days, searching for some way that may help me keep this child, and I came across something. Some sort of herbs that if I eat them, it may help keep this child safe. The book said something about a chastity fruit, the root of a magical horn, and primroses, does any of that mean anything to you?"
Mimi was thoughtful for a moment. Then she said slowly, "Yes, yes, I think it does."
"The chastity fruit, there is an herb called Chasteberry. The root of a magical horn, well, that may be the Unicorn Root, also an herb. And then Primrose, well, those are plentiful. All of these herbs have been known to help with cramping and the likes, it just may help your problem. It is not a guarantee!" Mimi hastened to add, she did not want to give false hope to Queen Ava.
"I know." Ava smiled sadly. "But to do nothing will doom this child as so many before it. Do you have these herbs, or know where I may find them?"
"Yes, I have them in my shop! If you'll follow me, I'll get them for you, then you'll just need to crush them a bit, and make a tea out of it. A few cups of the tea a day, ought to do it."
On her way home from Mimi's herbal shop, Ava took a detour down towards her favorite beach.
She wanted to have a few private words with the Ever Living One. Turin had told her once, that He always had an ear open for His name. She hoped that by calling on him that she could enlist his aid as well. For if it was true that He gave, and He took away, she would prefer that this time He did not take this child from her.
The weeks passed by without incidence, and Ava began to really hope that between the tea, and her plea to the Ever Living One, she just may be able to hold this baby in her arms. She tried to keep herself distant from the child, just in case, but with each little kick and squirm, she knew it was too late. She already loved this child, as she had loved the others.
Lord Winter stepped into his wife's room, where he found her sitting in her favorite chair, deep in thought. "Belle."
"I have asked you to not call me that name." she snapped at him. "And why are you bothering me in my rooms? I have already given you your heir, if you require sex go find one of your trollops, for I am not in the mood tonight."
"Charming as always, my dear." Argus sneered. "But no, that is not why I sought out your delightful company. I just thought I'd let you know, as the whole town is speaking of it; it appears that our lovely Queen will actually manage to have this child that she is carrying now. So there will be an heir, only time will tell if it is a prince or a princess."
Belle cursed. It would have been better for her plans if the Queen had stayed barren. That and it gave her such pleasure to tell Morgan every chance she had; that she would have given him seven sons by now. Just look at her son, Timmothy, he was strong and healthy, smart as a whip. The only thing wrong with him was he had Argus for his father, and not Morgan. How she wished Timmothy was Morgan's son. "Perhaps we should send a congratulatory present." Now to think of what would make a suitable gift? Perhaps a poisoned bottle? No, no, Ava struck as her as the type that would nurse her child. Belle shuddered. Disgusting. Children were but pawns in the game of life, as were husbands. She eyed hers balefully.
"You know Morgan will not let either one of us within five hundred yards of his family."
"Oh, I know, but I have my ways. This little gift of mine will have to be extra special, as I doubt I could get two gifts past the King." She chuckled darkly. The humiliation she had felt when Morgan had refused to marry her, and instead had married someone else from a foreign land still burned her. Why was he allowed to be happy when she was not? She glared at her husband. He was an idiot. A fool. She had only seduced him because she had known it would hurt Morgan.
Argus was no Morgan, and Belle could barely tolerate him in her bed long enough to give Argus the heir she had promised him. With an heir, she tied Argus to her for life, it assured his future cooperation in all her plans. Once Timmothy was born, she had laid out to Argus the way things would be. He had shattered before her very eyes, crumpled into a weak, pathetic man, and he had disgusted her. He had begged, cried even, she curled her lip in the memory of it. She had so enjoyed reducing him to his current worm status. And worms did not belong in her bed. When she had needs, she turned to other men, and made sure that Argus knew it as well.
"Hummph." Argus grunted. He stared coldly at his wife, who, as usual, was ignoring him.
At one time he had thought well of her, had in fact fought for her when he thought Morgan had ill used her. He had been a bloody fool, and Belle was no innocent. Argus bitterly regretted the fight with Morgan, and wished he could erase his actions of that day. Belle, Argus enjoyed calling her that because it agitated her, and he had so little enjoyment in his life. Belle had lied about being pregnant with Morgan's child, in fact she had never been pregnant, she had lied about being raped by Morgan. She had even enjoyed throwing it in his face that he, Argus, would never be the lover that Morgan was.
Argus grinned to himself. She no longer said that, after the day he had learned to throw it back at her. To tell her that despite her many attempts over the years to get Morgan back into her bed, he had stayed faithful to his wife. Which must mean that Ava was a better lover than Belle. She had slapped him hard for that comment, but it had been well worth it. Argus envied his friend, for Morgan seemed to be genuinely happy with his choice of wife, even though Ava so far had not given him an heir. Argus could not say the same thing about his choice. "What are you plotting now Belle?"
She laughed at him. "As if I would tell you, the village idiot. No, run along now, and chase some skirts, at least you are good at that, for I have some real work to do." Argus slammed out of the room, her mocking laughter rang in his ears. He wished she was wrong in her assessment of him, but he knew she was partly correct. He was the village idiot, for he had married her, believing her to be something she was not. Morgan had tried to warn him that day, but he had not wanted to listen. Argus deserved his misery, it was his penance for his stupidity.
Morgan rushed into the room, "Ava!" he cried out joyously.
She had been warming herself by the fire, but at the sound of Morgan's voice she turned, and a smile broke out on her face. "Morgan! You are home!"
He kissed her soundly. "You should have sent word." he gently chastised her.
"For what reason? I had no way of knowing if this pregnancy would turn out any different than the others."
"We are going to have a child?" His voice shook with amazement as he carefully caressed her extended belly.
Ava nodded happily. "The midwife says this child will be born within the week."
He sank to his knees and pressed his face against her belly. "I can scarce believe it." he said. He smiled as the child kicked out. "Active little one!"
He looked up anxiously at her. "And you are well?"
"I am more than well." she smiled. She bit her lip nervously. "Are you happy, about the child?"
He smiled at her. "I am, more so because I know having a child was your fondest wish, and I am glad that after all these years, it is coming true." He stood up, and lightly kissed her lips.
Ava sighed contentedly. "I am glad too."
Morgan shadowed her everywhere she went, and Ava was glad that he had not been home to do so for her whole pregnancy. He was driving her crazy! It wasn't very long though, before the labor pains hit her.
Morgan, who was never far away from her, began to panic. "Ava! Are you okay? Aarg! You're in labor?!"
"Morgan!" Ava panted. "I. Need. The. Midwife!"
Morgan rushed down the stairs in a panic. "I need a midwife! I mean, my wife needs a midwife!" he told the first servant he found. Morgan waited impatiently outside in the rain for the arrival of the midwife. When she finally arrived, he urged her to hurry. The midwife, Rose Wynne, decided it best to do as the King asked of her, instead of taking the time to explain to him there was no need to rush; that first babies took a long time to deliver. She ran as quick as she could, the King was right behind her.
Morgan did not want to stay in the room, he couldn't stand to see Ava in such pain. But she begged him not to leave her, and so he stayed. He cringed a bit inside when she gripped his hand so hard he thought he felt his bones crack a little, but he never let it show. After half the night was gone, and the next morning came and went, the Midwife had him help support Ava as she sat up and prepared to push.
"I hope you are ready to become a father your Highness." Rose Wynne told the King. "Because your child is about to be born."
Morgan felt faint, and kept his gaze locked on Ava's face. He really didn't want to see what was going on below, but at the first cries of the baby, he turned and looked at the squalling red thing in the Midwife's arms. "Congratulations! You have a boy!" She snipped the umbilical cord; then quickly and efficiently cleaned the baby up a little bit, and swaddled him in a blanket.
Ava lay back against the bed and sighed happily. "A son! Morgan we have a son!"
Morgan's eyes widened as the Midwife carefully handed him his newborn son. "My son." He said the words with a mixture of awe and pride.
Rose quietly cleaned up and then left the new parents alone. Ava climbed out of the bed and walked closer to Morgan and her son. "He's so precious!" she whispered. "Here, let me hold him please!" She held her arms out eagerly.
Morgan smiled at her as he placed their son into her arms. "You did a terrific job Ava. He's perfect."
Ava stared at the little bundle in her arms. "He is perfect." She cuddled him, close to her heart.
"What shall we name him?" Morgan asked her.
"Taliesin." Ava answered right away. "It means radiant brow, for he puts a smile on my face and in my heart."
Morgan kissed her lightly on the lips. "Taliesin it is then."
"Hello Tal." Ava whispered. "I have been waiting a long time for you." Tal opened his eyes, and stared up at his parents. He waved a fist, as if to say hello. Then he gave a great big yawn, and closed his eyes again.
Notes: Sorry about the length. The first half was just so sad, I didn't want to leave it there! And if there were poses that existed that allowed the father to bring the baby to the mother while she laid in bed, Morgan would have done so, lol. But there isn't. I wish the father could at least hand the baby to the mother, like in Sims2, but alas, that is not possible either. So that one little scene took forever because I had to use a combination of poses, in game animation, plus put the baby on the floor, have the other parent pick him up, move everybody back to the approx location, and then take more pics. Overall, it turned out alright I think.
I had two ways this story was going to unfold, and it depended on whether or not they had a boy or a girl. Now that I know it is a boy--it is full speed ahead, lol! And if you read my How will it work page, you will know that Tal is the heir. I wasn't quite ready for them to have children yet, I thought I had shut off the autonomous options, but apparently, I did not, lol :P
Taliesin is also a *famous* welch poet/bard, though it is spelled differently then the way I am spelling it.
There is quite a lengthy war going on by the Forbidden Forest. I would show more of it---but---I am not quite that savvy to make dragons, ogres, goblins, and other things appear, lol. So it will have to be imagination only, sorry! :( For now I just explain it as Morgan does not want to talk about it, because he lives it.
I have been fortunate enough to not have suffered any miscarriages. My sister on the other hand, has had many miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. My other sister after five years of trying, finally found out she was pregnant last month. She doesn't know if she is going to miscarry or not, because her hormone levels aren't right, and even today, it is still touch and go. So Ava is not alone, my sisters have cried on my shoulder once or twice.
The herbs are real, Google is my friend.
Last note---yes, Belle is not so nice. She feels vindicated in what she does though, because she was hurt by Morgan. Would she have been the same way if Morgan had married her instead?, it is hard to say. He did have a certain way with her though. :)
Any thoughts, comments?
Thanks for reading! :)