All eyes are on the small ball of flesh and softness in Chaol’s arms, wrapped in a blanket.
“Yrene?” Chaol calls out, view drawn tight as he sits stiff on the golden couch. “Could you come out now?”
“Don’t you order her around,” Hasar hisses. “She had a baby, for god’s sake. To think you made her deliver it herself-“
“We were in the forest!” Chaol whispers back, just as worried about waking the babe. “What did you want us to do?”
The former cadre members, Borte, Aelin, Aedion, Hasar, Elide, Kashin, Sartaq, Nesryn, Manon and Dorian all sit in the barely-finished living room of the still-being-built house, staring at the child in Chaol’s arms.
“Multiple kingdom’s stopping for one baby,” Chaol mutters, sinking back into the couch, clutching his child to his chest.
Yrene frowns as she enters the room, a tray of food in her hands as she looks around the gift-filled room. Hundreds of gifts and presents litter the floor and furniture, all of different sizes and shapes (some with ancient inscriptions, but they’re trying to ignore that).
“Congratulations,” Gavriel says softly to Chaol, sitting next to him. “You must be proud.”
“I am,” Chaol nods his head. “Thank you for agreeing to be her godfather-“
Chaol blinks at Kashin and Sartaq. “I… I asked Gavriel to be the godfather considering the support and advice he gave me when we first found out about the pregnancy. Yrene picked the godmother.”
“I will annihilate anyone who tries to harm my godchild,” Hasar smiles, bright and threatening.
Muttering, everyone in the room settles once again, Kashin and Sartaq mumbling their own promises of protection. Fenrys stands to take the plate from Yrene, Gavriel moving so that she may sit next to Chaol and take the child herself.
“None of you needed to bring gifts,” Yrene holds the babe to her chest, running her eyes over the piles of presents.
“Open them,” Aelin demands, ignoring Rowan’s jab in the ribs.
“You can open them later,” Nesryn rolls her eyes. “Let us hold your child.”
It takes some prying, Chaol uncomfortable handing his baby to anyone but Dorian and Yrene, but finally the baby is passed around the group. Hasar smiles brightly down at the child, somehow surprising no one with how gently she handles it.
Chaol clasps his hand over his heart when Aelin takes the child, earning him a glare, yet Dorian readily takes the baby, giving her a minute less time then everyone else.
Of course, Aedion gives everybody an all-out heart attack when he holds the baby over his head, lifting the child up and down while making funny faces and sounds. They all relax once the babe starts laughing and squealing, instead of crying rather enjoying Aedion’s actions. Everyone is surprised, until Aedion explains that he would go comfort the children during the war when any were upset.
Everyone slowly trickles out of the house as the day ends, it not having near enough rooms to hold them all. Soon only the Terrasen court is left, ready to leave.
“Here,” Yrene hands her child to Lorcan, only the former cadre members standing in the room. “We’re just going to show Aedion, Elide and Aelin the pond. You all watch the baby.”
She closes the door behind her, leaving the cadre with the child, Lorcan holding it while as stiff as a rock.
“Someone,” Lorcan says through gritted teeth, “Take it. Gavriel, you have a child.”
“Aedion doesn’t break if I drop him,” Gavriel eyes the baby, holding his hands up. “And I can’t break him or pick him up. I can, however, break that. I’ve never held it without Yrene or Chaol here.”
“You’re the godfather,” Rowan growls lowly, stopping once the baby squirms. “And don’t you have experience with children?”
“Yes,” Gavriel hisses back, eyes alight with panic, “but never one so young. Usually they’re at least a year or two old.”
“Fenrys,” Lorcan hisses, walking towards the male with slow, jiggering steps. “You take it.”
“No!” Fenrys backs away a few steps.
“Don’t give it to Fenrys!” Rowan hisses in full agreement. “Why the hell would you do that? We’ve been trusted to care for a child!”
“Yes!” Fenrys hisses. “Do you want to make that decision a bad one?”
“Why would they even give it to you?” Rowan snaps to Lorcan. “Do the have no common sense?”
“I feel as though we’ve made a bad decision,” Chaol frowns down at the small fish pond.
“It’ll be fine,” Yrene rolls her eyes, turning back to their guests.
“Chaol, it’ll be fine. I’m sure four of the greatest warriors in history can handle a baby.”
“Why don’t you hold it, all great and mighty king?” Lorcan snaps. “You held it before.”
“With other people around! I don’t know what to do now!”
“Everyone remain calm,” Vaughan orders, though he seems the most panicked, face pale and eyes flickering left to right. “Just… No one drop it. Everyone hold very, very still.”
They all freeze, holding their positions. The baby remains asleep against Lorcan’s chest, clearly at peace.
“Why,” Gavriel’s voice breaks the silence, “don’t we try to move to the couch, so Lorcan can sit down?”
“Good idea,” Fenrys hisses, nodding. “Less of a fell for when he drops it!”
“You. Are. Not. Helping,” Lorcan snarls through gritted teeth, yet begins to inch his way towards the couch.
“Careful!” Vaughan says as Lorcan begins to let the baby’s head go lax. “You need to support the head! I heard their skulls aren’t fully put together yet at this age?”
“If you know so much why don’t you hold it?” Lorcan offers, holding out the babe.
“No!” Rowan steps forward, aghast. “Lorcan don’t just hold it out! Sit down, sit down!”
With two more quick steps Lorcan makes it to the couch, sitting yet still holding the baby in the same frozen position as before.
“I want to hold my baby,” Chaol mourns to Aelin.
“Eh, let them suffer a little longer.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I hate your family,” Lorcan hisses to Rowan and Gavriel.
Rowan growls back while Gavriel appears to be quite affronted.
“One,” Rowan growls, “Aelin isn’t related to Chaol or Yrene through blood. Two, you married into the same family!”
“Oh my gods,” Fenrys laughs a little. “Rowan and Lorcan married into the family while Gavriel sired a child into it. What’s the chances of that?”
“Astronomical,” Vaughan agrees, grinning. “Technically, this is your family mess.”
“This isn’t about that,” Gavriel keeps his voice steady, a soothing balm to the tension. “It’s a young infant. We’ve handled much, much worse in our few hundred years of experience. Yes, we have no experience with children this young, but we do with toddlers and other children. All we have to do is be careful and ensure the babe’s safety. We can manage that.”
Tension leaks out of everyone’s shoulders, even Lorcan relaxing slightly and appearing less anxious.
Then the baby starts screaming.
“I keep telling you that you did nothing wrong,” Chaol frowns at the four shell-shocked, on edge males. “It was just feeding time and our baby was hungry.”
Still, the four pale males keep sending glances towards the babe, Fenrys shuddering as he remembers the horrific sound that exploded from the small being, unable to aid in any way.
Chaol and Yrene bid their final guests farewell, putting the baby to sleep before chucking gifts off their golden couch to collapse upon it.
“Well,” Chaol pulls Yrene close, “I think that went as well as it could have.”
“Agreed,” Yrene laughs.
They lean in close, lips brushing. Chaol lowers Yrene back on the couch, her hands rising up his back into his hair-
And the crying starts again.