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last bit of fic today

Title: Endless
Fandom: Reign
Pairings: Mary/Francis
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Family
Words: 1898
AN: unbetaed, so the mistakes are all mine.
Summary: Mary, Francis & twins make four. For the 2/22 challenge in the Mary & Francis thread at fanforum the prompt is, "sleep eludes me."
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but the idea of Frary!Babies! makes me equal parts giddy and sad.


"Hand her to me," I say, holding my arms out for my whimpering daughter.

"I've got it," she shakes her head.

"Mary," I insist, my head lolling to the side. "She's fed and changed, and still screaming. You've done all you can. I can't feed her, but I can hold and burp her so you don't have to do everything. And you haven't slept in a day and a half. I can do this, give her to me," I insist.

"Fine," she sighs, her exhaustion so evident in the bags under her eyes and slow movements.

I cup Margot's head carefully as I take her into my arms, moving over to the cabinet to fetch a cloth for the spit-up that will settle her stomach and let her get back to sleep. I climb back into our bed, gently settling myself against the foot post, not wanting to jar her, starting up her crying again. I rub my hand against her small back, still cradling her head in its tiny cap, Mary having taught me in the last four weeks the correct way to sooth out the air from their stomachs to help them settle and get back to sleep.

Our grief and disappointment at Mary's miscarriage at five months was overwhelming. For a time it had seemed we put Nostradamus prophecy nonsense behind us. She cast it aside with a palpable relief. I was grateful for she no longer believed she would cause my death. The untroubled smile and lightness to her spirit, along with her growing belly - proof that I'd left something of myself behind with her even as she tried to destroy us in the name of saving me - was exactly what I needed to push aside my anger and resentment and let myself love her again. What I'd always wanted to do to begin with.

Her miscarriage and grief - both our grief - had caused a setback, but I'd been determined to not let it rip us apart again. Assuring her we would try again, we were young and healthy, a baby would come with time. When she'd discovered she was with child again this time it was filled with anxiety, that she would again lose the baby. All we could do was wait, but the tension slowly left her countenance as she moved past the time she lost our first baby and began to feel healthy and vibrant. The last few months of her pregnancy bringing us closer than ever, her happiness infectious to everyone who came into our orbit.

She'd tired easily, her feet became swollen daily, and as she entered the last months she felt ungainly, but no one could wipe the smile off her face. She'd hated going on bed rest the last few weeks, but was willing to do what it took to deliver a safe baby. I'd been in meetings with courtiers when I was given word that she'd gone into labor, sending me into panic. I had to steel myself to fulfill my duties before decamping to a hard little bench outside our chambers. I tried to see her, but between the midwife, my mother and Mary's ladies, no one would let me near her. A day and a half labor, during which I didn't sleep a wink, was incredibly tense. When I finally heard the cry of a baby through the door my body nearly collapsed with relief. But then panic overtook me upon hearing her screams again, I'd jumped up, ripping open the door to our chambers. Mary was clearly exhausted, covered in sweat, our bed covered in her blood. I'd rushed to her side, taking her hand asking what was happening. My mother took my shoulder, laughed and told me I was about to be a father to twins. Soon after I saw a bloody, squalling, strange looking creature slip between her thighs, the same creature who now entralled me, as I hold her in my arms.

Its amazing how quickly babies change. Mary had declared them both beautiful on sight, I'd agreed just because I couldn't disagree with anything she said at that moment. She'd just gone through months of carrying our babies and a day and a half of labor delivering them, she couldn't have said anything wrong just then. But to myself I admitted the looked a bit like shriveled red grapes. Only their mouths seemed to really be formed and normal looking.

But a month later they were both just as beautiful to me as they are to her. Even if they are exhausting us both. Sleep eludes us as she's decided on not having a wet nurse and caring for them herself. She has help in the day, but at night she insisted that we be left alone with them in our chambers. Just us and our little family. It's been equal parts wonderful and utterly exhausting. Neither of us has gotten a full nights rest since they were born. Though I have a few new skills to add to my repertoire. I know how to change a dirty diapre, it being necessary when we're alone and there being two of them. I've learnt how to do what I'm currently occupied with, soothing the air out of one of their stomachs so they will return to sleep. I've remembered lulibies my nurse sang me and Elizabeth to sooth us to sleep. Mary loves to watch me cradle one or the other while singing to them.

It's been a long and exhausting month, but I don't think either of us would change anything. We've become closer than ever, tag teaming two babies. And both of us have felt our love grow and expand as we get to know these enchanting creatures we created out of our love for one another.

"Just because you're done, doesn't mean you have to cover up!" I cheekily tell her, looking up through my lashes.

"Hmmm," she starts to giggle. "You and your obsession with my breasts, you'd have me walk around our chambers topless if you thought you could get away with it. I think you're just a bit jealous of our babies."

"Hey," I laugh, "don't knock my love of your breasts, it was very helpful in the making of these precious little bundles that don't let us sleep anymore. You know I can't keep my hands off you, and especially my favorite part of your body."

"Yes," she replies, mischief and mirth filling her voice, "they are definitely one of the results of your obsession with my breasts. And now our children have taken them away from you!"

"I happily give partial rights to them, they may be my favorite, but they're giving them sustenance and making them strong," I smile at her over Margot's head, just as she spits up again, and begins to quiet. The passage to sleep beginning. "I mean they're but a month old and they've already grown so much. I can't believe it."

"I know," she grins back, her exhaustion clearing from her face. "He's beginning to get a little hair, and her eyes are beginning to change. I think she's going to have my eyes and your hair, and he's going to be the opposite."

"A true blending of us," I can hear the wonder in my voice. A blending of us. Nothing could be more beautiful than that. I'd dreamt of a little girl that looked like her, or a little boy that looked like me, but now realize they each carry qualities of the both of us, it's like our own little miracle. "I'm still so happy she has your lips and he has mine," I grin back at her.

"True," she giggles. "My mouth wouldn't work nearly as well on a boy!"

"It's very kissable," I waggle my eyebrows at her.

"And biteable," she shoots back, making herself flush. I can tell, even in the dimness of our chambers. The way she tucks her chin into her chest - it's her tell.

"I think she's out," I whisper, gently moving to get up, not wanting to rouse Margot now that she's asleep. "I'm going to settle her back in her crib."

"Mmmmmmm," she sighs, settling down into the bed.

It only takes a moment. I softly lay my precious cargo into her crib, covering her well with her blanket before moving to check on her brother. James has a tendency to throw off his blankets in his sleep. After I cover him back up I stoke the fire before climbing back into bed with my wife.

"Get some sleep while it's quiet," I whisper, tucking her in close to me.

"Mmmmmmm," she answers, already half gone.

For some reason I'm unable to sleep now. Or perhaps I know why. Moments like this are my very favorite in the world - my wife tucked into my side, our precious little family peacefully asleep in their cribs. After everything we've been through in the past year and a half I love them all the more. Losing one another, anger and betrayal hanging between us, hope for renewal, and the grief at a lost chance, all of it seems worth it with the wife I adore and our two children peacefully at rest. These are the moments I treasure and which give me strength. Knowing we came through the fire, were tested, and came out stronger in the end - just like the steel I learned to forge years ago. These snatches of time are my reward for having fought for us, for knowing we will always be stronger, happier and better together rather than apart.

I'd never known what true peace was till a couple of days after James and Margot were born and Mary out of danger the four of us lay together in this bed. Each of us cradling one of them into our bodies; each of them tightly holding onto a finger of ours. We'd made it through and this peace and joy were our rewards - my reward for holding tight and never letting go.

Not a quarter hour passes before an all too familiar gurgling begins from the other crib, James is beginning to stir. It amazes me how they manage to sleep peacefully through one another's screaming, only to take the silence as a cue to rouse and demand their own bit of attention. They never seem to want to be fed or changed at the same time.

I unwind myself from Mary, gently situating her amongst the pillows on our bed and settling the blankets over her. I tiptoe to James's crib to rub his belly and scratch the bottom of his foot - both of which he loves - hoping to stave off the screaming I know is coming. He quiets and settles, letting me know I've succeeded - if only for a moment.

I climb back into bed, going to the other side, tucking myself around Mary from behind, snaking my arm around her belly which had carried our babies for all those months, finally giving into sleep myself.

I startle awake to the unmistakably lusty screams of our son. Mary is already stirring beside me.

"Stay there, I'll get him," I murmur in her ear, getting up to fetch my screaming son with a sigh - this night, it will be endless.


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