Drake's Lake - Jajen's Cottage

Some time has passed since Jajen last had Ha’ze clear out that spare room and since then the goldrider has been keeping busy… or as busy as her late pregnancy will allow. The room has since been cleaned and repaired and refurnished to be a wholly functioning nursery. She’s hung up the curtains Ha’ze brought too and they lend a pleasant color to the otherwise rustic room.

The day is a scorcher even by southern records. It’s muggy and hot, the air still and even being in the shade provides little comfort. The afternoon hours are dragging on and on and despite all the windows being open and even the door, the cottage barely remains comfortable. Jajen has resorted to using wet cloths pressed to her neck to try and ease her discomfort. So when things happen as they’ll happen, the goldrider can’t truly be blamed. She figured her discomfort was from the heat and humidity and the fact she slept so poorly. How was she to know? And those little contractions? She had them before and was assured they were false. Could be the same thing, right? Wrong.

« Kainaesyth! » Iaverulth’s voice rises from the inky depths of her mind and out over the distance, ringing like a silver bell in her elation and urgency. « You are needed and so is your rider. It’s her time! The babe is being born. » She? A worried, fussy queen? Hardly. Despite the darkness of her mind, it ripples with delight. Oh, there’s anxiety there too but at last there is an end and a new life will be sparked from this! And when Ha’ze arrives, he’ll find he’s the last to get there. The midwives are already attending to Jajen and from the sounds of things (and the look of the goldrider), she’s well into her labor now. At least he’s skipped the waiting part of things?

A riot of colors meets Iaverulth’s thoughts. The desert in full spring bloom, as lifegiving water falls, the faraway mountains giving up their bounty of winter snows. Purple, blue, and green dance through fragrant breezes as the gold is answered in a simple, « We come! »

Their actual arrival takes a bit longer though- has Ha’ze is going to follow through on his threat. Midwives? Over his head body. A slightly harassed looking healer has been drug out of the weyr proper by the bronzerider and forced onto Kainaesyth’s back with his supplies. He’s still protesting when they burst from between over the cottage and Kainaesyth spirals downards into the ground. “She’s still a Fort queenrider, even here. Stuff it.” Ha’ze isn’t taking any of the man’s arguments. At least he doesn’t have to physically drag the man to the door?

Ha’ze also forgets Jajen’s direction to STAY OUTSIDE. (Okay, he didn’t forget, he ignored it.) Healer in tow the bronzerider heads right into that cottage and then just…. stops inside the door. What is he suppose to do now? The healer has to edge around the bronzerider to go discuss with the midwives the progress of the birth so far. Ha’ze’s expression? Slight panic and confusion.

The midwives look confused to see a Healer brought in (and a male one at that. tsk!) but they’ll make do and since he asks the right questions, he’ll get the answers he needs and they seem capable of adjusting and letting him co-lead. None so much as look at Ha’ze, too busy with preparing and monitoring Jajen’s progress and condition. Jajen, however? She’ll notice once the last contraction passes and she has the energy to spare to turn her head. Gone is her snarky, tough as nails attitude. Her hair is damp and plastered to her paled, sweaty skin and already she looks exhausted, probably in considerable amount of pain and discomfort but worst of all? She looks scared. Young and scared. So maybe it is relief that flickers in her eyes when they focus on the bronzerider. “Ha’ze —” No time to finish her sentence. Another contraction hits and her breath goes with it, her head turning to face forwards as she bears down as instructed, ending only in an exhaled and whimpered cry of frustration between panted breaths. Whyyy is this taking so long?

Well, she’s not kicking him out. THAT is a good sign. The healer has inserted himself into the group and left Ha’ze all alone in that doorway. He’s been accused of having a hard heart and maybe that’s true. But when Jajen half says his name he finally walks forward to the side of her bed. He’ll reach out and offer him a hand- women in labour like to squish hands right? He vaguely remembers that being said.

Poor Ha’ze has no idea what he’s in for, does he? Jajen doesn’t reach for his hand immediately but only because it’s occupied in giving the bed a convincing crushing death grip as another contraction hits, a strong one, that has the goldrider making noises that are far from lady-like. In fact, she comes close to screaming but grits her teeth and muffles the worst of it to a more snarled like sound. When she can breath again, her eyes open and look up at Ha’ze and while most joke about how this is when the woman starts hurling insults and accusation and blame, Jajen does none of it. It’s like all the fight has gone out of her… which could be quite frightening. Now she takes his hand and yes, she grips hard but not consistently. Only in time with the pain. Meanwhile the Healer and midwives do their thing, watching her and coaching her through it, offering encouragement. As the contractions grow closer together and worse, Jajen seems to crack. “I can’t do it, I can’t…” she weeps between panted breaths, exhausted but unable to escape. The midwives look to Ha’ze expectantly. He should be supporting her! Hello?

Impassivity is something Ha’ze is really good at. So his expression only flickers when she puts all of that strengthh into his hands. She couldn’t break it- right? Her tears don’t reach him but when the midwives start looking he gets a bit of an itch of ‘what?’ Oh, wait, oh, uh, “oh… Jajen, you’re fine.” Not the most reassuring thing he could say but it is the best a feeling shy Ha’ze can manage to pull up.

Of all the times he has to feel shy, why now? Jajen’s not reassured at all. She’s many things right now and reassured is the very least of them. Thankfully she has Iaverulth, who steps in when she feels her rider slipping too close to panic and into giving up. So the goldrider finds her strength from her lifemate, not Ha’ze, to keep at it. Though she holds his hands and is aware he’s there, she’s now at the tipping point. One of the midwives at least will keep Ha’ze up to speed, along with Jajen to the progress of the birth. Which, apparently, is happening right on schedule. It’s not a glorious thing. Jajen screams… a lot, by the end and thankfully she’s covered from the waist down because it’s not pretty there either. The midwives will suddenly go quiet, the Healer looking over their shoulders and after one final push from the goldrider… it’s done. There’s a lull, a brief hush as Jajen sinks back against the bed, exhausted beyond exhaustion but then there’s a tiny new voice, nothing more than a few quiet garbled cries that grow steadily louder and fill that little hiccup of silence…

Ha’ze is slightly pale by the time Jajen finishes screaming that WHOLE LOT. His lips pressed together as he attempts to give some sense of reassuring by squeezing back just a little. At the sound of the new voice though, Kainaesyth does not hold his silence. Outside the almost flute-like voice that is the bronze’s greeting card sings out into the air. Just for the little one who he cannot yet see. This time Ha’ze doesn’t let go of his grip and just presses harder as he straightens from his slightly bend to look wide-eyed over at the small sound.

Jajen’s barely coherent and is kind of forgetting that Ha’ze is there as well as the midwives and Healer because the moment that little cry becomes a louder one… She actually laughs. Not a loud one, something akin to a chuckle and sob. “It’s a girl,” one of the midwives announces and there’s a sigh from the goldrider, her eyes closing as he mouth curves into a slack smile. So tired. Luckily the worst is over and the midwives will tend to cleaning the infant girl while the Healer checks things over. “Want to do the honors?” he asks, holding up a blade and it’s obvious what he’s offering: for Ha’ze to cut the cord.

Ha’ze needs to remember how to breathe, sooner rather than later. He’s staring, STARING as his grip finally goes slack. He doesn’t let go as he watches the baby slowly getting cleaned. It touches a chord Ha’ze isn’t quite prepared to deal with so he meets it with Silence as Kaianesyth’s song continues outside. The knife gets a LOOK (a stare) before he finally shakes it off. “Will it hurt her?” Not it, not a thing, it’s a BABY. A little girl. His little girl. Jajen’s. Mind. Blown.

Iaverulth’s voice will join Kainaesyth’s, a silvery song and bell like and there is no doubt that the gold is pleased. Thrilled even. A daughter! Nothing can be more perfect than a daughter. Back inside the cottage, Jajen is taking the time to recover while the midwives do their work but when she can keep her eyes open she is following their movements. The Healer shakes his head, “Not at all. It’s just the cord. I’ll show you where but it’s not necessary that you do it.” If Ha’ze wants to pass on that. No judgement!

Ha’ze is totally having a moment over there. He’s done some things with a knife he’s not particularly proud of (not that he’s ashamed mind- they just might not be stories he’ll tell his children ever). His time with Kainaesyth shows when his mind goes on a philosophical tangent. Maybe something like this could atone, just a little, for his spotty past. Leaving Jajen’s side Ha’ze steps forward and follows the healer’s directions to cut the cord, his eyes not leaving the baby that cries in the healer’s arms.

The Healer will gently guide Ha’ze and once the cord is cut, he will move in and finish the rest. He and the midwives move efficiently and soon enough the baby girl is cleaned and swaddled and… being handed to Ha’ze. “Here you are. Why don’t you bring her over to her mother?” One of the midwives says with a warm smile. They’re going to busy themselves with cleaning up and tending to other not-so pleasant side effects of a birth that need not be described.

"I… wait, no. What? But…" Ha'ze's objections to being handed the newborn fade away as his arms fold around the little girl. He holds her awkwardly as if he has never held a baby before. At least he knows enough that the head is going to flop around and he manages to get an elbow and under it. Then he turns back towards Jajen and walks slow, oh oh so slow, towards the mother. Dropping the baby is not on the agenda for the evening. Once he gets back back to Jajen’s side he looks at the baby looks, Jajen, then the back at her ,"I'm not sure how to hand her to you." his voice is low, concerned, and not really sure about what he should be doing next. But he's pretty sure that somehow the baby needs to get from his arms and into Jajen’s.

Apparently Ha’ze is doing just fine as no one comes rushing up to him to snatch the girl away from him or chastise him for doing it wrong. Jajen lifts her head and opens her eyes as he approaches and she smiles — still exhausted, but smiling — and lifts her arms. “Just lay her down against me.” she murmurs hoarsely. So she can cradle her.

It takes more than a little bit of shuffling and aborted attempts for Ha’ze to get the baby girl into Jajen’s arms, concerned as he is for the little thing’s neck and comfort. She’s quieted a bit from her inital cries, but the little moans she’s giving now could break anyone’s heart. “Is she okay? Should she make that sound?” Only once the baby is out of his reach does Ha’ze look up and around for the healer - who is very carefully not standing in grabbing distance as he cleans. Like he knows Ha’ze tends to grab at people when demanding their attention.

Jajen is too tired to start anything with Ha’ze and probably eager to hold her little girl. Even in the foggy sort of state she’s in now, just seeing the infant has sparked something in the goldrider. “She’s fine,” It’s not the Healer who says that, it’s Jajen and since no one refutes it, it must be true? “… she’s perfect.” Now that she can see her up close! She’ll move slow, half out of exhaustion and half out of awkward caution as she settles the baby in her arm and arranges things so that she can nurse. Instinct? Not really. She was probably given the run down of what to do by the midwives. Plus… common sense? With the cries quieted and the baby settled, Jajen will watch in a sort of awe silence before speaking again without so much as lifting her eyes. “She’ll need a name…” Duh?

Common Sense? Ha’ze is too muddled for that to actually be hitched on. “Name, right.” He reaches upwards to push his hand through his hair and frowns. “Don’t they usually be squishin’ names together?” His eyes are narrowed as he tries to make coherent thoughts together. “But…” he hates to admit this, “It’s your call.”

“That’s the traditional way, yes.” Jajen murmurs softly as she rests back against the pillows that a midwife comes up to adjust so she can be a little more comfortable while feeding her newborn baby girl. She’s too tired to even glare at him for putting the choice on her shoulders or even really argue about it. “It’s yours too,” she relents, still focused more on BABY than Ha’ze. “My full name is Jajenelja. Not much to go by, huh?” And now he knows why it’s Jajen she goes by!

“I’d be glad to be claimin’ her a little.” There’s a softness in his voice that has, so far, been exclusively reserved for private moments with Kainaesyth. Ha’ze is utterly smitten. Reaching out he will try to brush a finger against the little one’s cheek. “Hazelon. Though you knew that’un. Prefer Ha’ze.” A symbolic sheding of the past that Ha’ze has slowly accepted as fact. “Wel… what’s your favorite part of your name?”

Jajen’s head does tilt a bit for that softeness to Ha’ze’s voice but she holds her tongue. Even she’s not wanting to sour the moment with her usually abrasive behavior. She’ll allow him to touch, not even so much as giving him a disapproving frown. Maybe she’s thawed a little? Or she’s just… stunned. There’s a faint smirk. Of course she knew his name! “Jajen. Less of a mouthful. She shouldn’t half a name like mine.” Please spare her that headache! “Jaze? Half mine, half yours. Short.” And sweet. “Won’t matter if she’s ever a rider. Girls don’t elide.”

“Jaze.” Ha’ze rolls the word, the name, around on his tongue. It is short, and sweet. Very sweet. “Jaze. It is a good name.” Half his. The roughness of his fingertips, born of hard word, are contrasted sharply with the soft skin of the baby. “Yeah. She’s… Jajen. She’s perfect.” Ha’ze is a little lost at the moment. He wouldn’t, or maybe couldn’t, even attempt to rile Jajen up at this moment. Too many stars in his eyes.

Jajen nods her head in agreement when Ha’ze rolls the name round and repeats it. Yes. Yes, it’s fitting and now the goldrider does smile, fondly, to the little girl. Her little girl (and Ha’ze’s — yes, she’ll reluctantly admit that). “She is, isn’t she?” she murmurs and gently strokes the little one’s head and cheek and lightly touches the tiny wrinkly hand. Carefully, she will shift Jaze to the otherside, letting her feed there too until the infant is satisfied. It seems by then that Jajen can barely stay awake but she’s fighting it. “Ha’ze…?” Why is she saying this? The goldrider isn’t sure but the words escape her and she’s too out of it to stop them. “Stay here for the night? If you can … watch her. I — am so tired.” She needs to sleep, something which the Healer gently encourages upon hearing Jajen. “Everything is fine. She just needs her rest.”

Stay? The words take a while to sink into Ha’ze’s mind but the second they do the bronzerider is reaching out for the baby again. “I can stay. I’ll be stayin’ as long as you’re needin’ me.” If Jajen’s willing to give the baby up the bronzerider will gather her up into his arms. Gently, carefully, and probably not totally correctly.

Jajen seems to accept that answer and though she’s not really wanting to hand little Jaze over, she knows there’s no other choice for now. So she’ll watch as Ha’ze takes her and a midwife comes over to gently correct the bronzerider and then impart some advice and offer to bring the crib in this room if he wanted to keep everyone together? The Healer is packing his things and the other midwives are collecting the soiled linens and towels and all the other odds and ends that need to be taken care of. Jajen, by then, has fallen asleep.

“I’m not gonna be able to be takin’ you back to Fort tonight Healer.” Ha’ze’s voice is a whisper and he can’t keep his eyes off the bundle in his arms. Only when that midwife finally, and gently, guides Ha’ze to a chair does he sit, the baby still in his arms. The midwives will find a place for the healer, till the bronzerider is ready to go home. Silence envelops the pair for as long as the baby stays quiet herself.