The hours dragged on forever to him, and each one that passed made his heart sink a little further, made his pulse a little more rapid.

It was taking too long, he was sure of it.

Something was wrong. It had to be.

His pacing took him swiftly back toward the bustle outside their bedroom chambers, of young boys and girls being sent for more clean cloths, or more hot water, or any other thing the midwife demanded. He’d been one of those running about, helping, until Maebh had cried out so brokenly and in such blatant pain, that he dropped an entire bucket of scalding water all over the floor.

He should be in there with her, in case she needed him. In case something went wrong.

Something nearly had gone wrong two months ago, and all he could do then was pray and hold her hand too tight while the healers looked her over. 

He didn’t know what more he could do now, but dammit, he should be in there anyway.

So wrapped up in worry and tumultuous thoughts, only once he stopped pacing did Sebastian abruptly become aware that the hall had gone quiet, as had the closed-off room every pair of eyes was focused on.

Tight claws of panic gripped his heart, dug into his lungs, snatching the breath from his throat. No.

No no no no no, the mantra echoed through his mind as he pushed past the frozen people in his way to the door and forcibly shouldered his way into the room.

The only sound in the room was the quiet sloshing of water, and Sebastian felt tears mapping wet trails down his face.

The midwife’s back was to him, washing her bloody hands in a basin beside the bed, the latter in which Maebh sat, propped up on pillows and hair matted against her sweaty face. She held a bundle in her arms.

Four long strides were all that Sebastian needed to cross the room and reach the wide bed, heart pounding in his throat. When Maebh noticed his presence, she looked up at him, tired but still smiling, their newborn cradled in the crook of her arms.

“It’s all right,” she said to his quiet tears, now at odds with the smile splitting his own face. “We’re both all right.”