However Differently: Courtship, Weddings, and Childbirth
She stood awkwardly in her pretty yellow dress, curly hair crowned with daisies as she looked around and eagerly said, “So… It’s… It’s a really nice apartment! I’ve never seen this many books!”
“Thank you,” said Dorsett. His hair, smoothed back for the ceremony, was now starting to spring back in its usual cherubic fashion. “I, uh, I rather liked it. You know, it was completely empty when I got it! No furniture at all. I have been adding to it slowly.”
He nodded to the comfortable but mismatched chairs, and then slowly went over to pull the curtains across the windows.
“Oh well I really like it! I think that we might need a bigger table and… I mean, I think there’s plenty of space for… For babies and all I mean.” She turned a fine shade of red at the prospect and her mother’s voice resounded in her head: You can’t have babies if you can’t make them, Lorillen Cropper. She snatched up the nearest book to hand and started turning pages, pointedly ignoring the closing curtains. “Have you read all these books?”
“No! Not all of them,” Dorsett answered quickly, clinging to the topic of conversation like a lifeline. “Well, most of them. But sometimes I pick some up and mean to get around to them, and… well, then I do not. I try to organize them by subject, you know, but… well, that has not happened either.”
“We should organize them!” Lori declared with sudden fervor, holding the book up like a shield, though against precisely what she was not entirely sure. “By subject and then we’ll leave space for the ones you haven’t read and those can go somewhere else so you won’t forget them. Then when you’ve finished them we’ll put them away. It’s perfect!”
“Really?” Dorsett asked, eyes wide. “That could take all night! Maybe days. But– I mean, that is a really good idea! A really good idea, if you are feeling patient.”
“Well it’s a little dusty,” Lori carried on, she couldn’t possibly consummate her new marriage with dust in the room. She looked around from her position a perfectly reasonable three feet away from her new husband. “It would give us a chance to dust and all too, so that’s good. I think that’s really important. We should really start straight away.”
“Dust, yes. A lot of these books have not been touched in a while,” Dorsett said ruefully, his shoulders a little hunched and his arms folded tightly over his chest as one does when they’re comfortable and relaxed at home. “We could open the windows up– sweep some of the dust out–”
He broke off and looked down at his very nice wedding tunic, and then glanced very briefly at her. “I, er, suppose we should change out of these clothes. I will– let me see what I have for you…”
He retreated into the bedroom, closing the door behind him, and when he returned he was already dressed in his normal clothing. “I put out some of my smaller clothes for you,” he said helpfully. “Just… in there. I will look over the shelves while you do that. Change.”
She watched him close the door and relaxed visibly for a few moments before bringing the book up between them when he reappeared. “Oh! Yes! Wouldn’t want to get all dusty! You’re so clever Dorsey!” She set the book down and, as she passed she broke her previous three foot rule to press a very brief peck to his cheek. He was handsome, and he was smart, and he was kind, she just had to keep remembering that.
She disappeared into the bedroom and reappeared a few minutes later in a tunic and cuffed trousers, her hair pulled back and the daisies upset but still present. “That feels better though! Good idea! I much prefer trousers to skirts you know.”
Dorsett smiled at her as she reappeared. “You do not look half bad in them,” he said in a tone she took as fondness, and then turned to look at the piles of books. “I thought we could start over near the door, and work our way around the room. Oh, and I can make us some tea! I also have some biscuits a neighbor sent over. ‘Just for the new Mrs. Lacewood,’ she said…”
“We absolutely need tea, I think that blueberry wine we had just about put me to sleep. Do you have honey for it?” She started to dig through piles of books, looking at titles and opening one or two occasionally.
“What kind of biscuits? If they have walnuts in them I won’t share but otherwise I suppose you can have a few, Mr. Lacewood.” She burst out giggling suddenly over a book. “Lorillen and Dorsett Lacewood,” she said, suddenly, thinking it must be the most lovely set of names she’d ever heard.
Dorsett turned a little to look at her, blinking, though after a moment he started to smile. “What?”
“Well that’s… I mean, Dorsett and Lorillen Lacewood,” she repeated, switching the names experimentally, grinning up from the book. “I dunno, I just like it. We’re a good team.”
“Yeah, we are,” Dorsett agreed, his smile brighter. “A good team, yes.”
He looked back at the books, and clapped his hands together. “Well, Mrs. Lacewood, we have hundreds of books to get through tonight. Are you ready?”
“I should absolutely say I am, Mister Lacewood,” she replied and holding up the book in her hands gently set it down on the table. “That one’s a history about the north. Or is that too specific, Dorsey?”
“We could put it on the top of the history shelf!” Dorsett enthused. “And history about the east to the right and general history in the middle and so forth.”
Beaming, he created a pile on plants, and went looking for more. “I am glad I have someone to do this with me, Mrs. Lacewood,” he said. She hoped he never called her anything else again.
Finally she couldn’t help it and Lori let out a plaintive wail of, “Dorsey!”
Her mother stood up as though to kindly usher him out and Lori gave another wail. “No! Don’t! Ma, he’s got to come in! They said it’s twins Dorsey! You’ve got to come in and-”
She wailed again, the midwife patted her leg. “There’s a good lass.”
“-And you’ve done this to me you have to help!”
Dorsett looked properly horrified, and sidled into the room only to stand there for a moment. “Help… I do not… what should I… twins…” he babbled vaguely, avoiding looking at the chaos in her lower regions, and then he moved over to take her hand. “What– what is it? What do you need?”
She clenched his hand in a vice-grip with both of hers. She wanted to tell him she needed someone to get these damned little monsters out of her but that probably wasn’t what people were supposed to say. “I don’t know! I can’t do it twice Dorsey and I told you I was too big for it to be just one!
“Here’s the first one, big deep breaths now,” said the midwife cheerily and, now without a hand to hold Lorillen’s mother began the troublesome business of getting water and towels ready.
“Just distract me!” Lorillen wailed, trailing off into another actual wail at the midwife’s urging to push.
“I, uh,” he began, fighting to think of something in the face of all this horribleness. “I borrowed another book from the Archives that I thought you might like. I was reading it earlier, a little. It is a bit of an adventure story, and the main character is a woman with hair the color of yours…”
“Oh that’s very good dear, very good…” The midwife carried on. Lorillen kept right on crushing Dorsett’s hand and punctuating any distraction she offered with pained wails.
Fortunately the actual birthing went with relative quickness. If it did not Lorillen didn’t actually notice, being in so much pain the whole thing went by in a desperate sort of blur. But first came one boy and then the messy bits. And then a second boy, and the messy bits.
Lorillen’s mother sidled over, carrying two little boys wrapped up in towels. “Two boys! Here we are! I suppose since you’re already here we don’t have to come fetch you so you’d better do your job and hold one.” She said to Dorsett, holding one of the boys out to each half of the couple.
Dorsett slowly reached out to take one, holding him as one might hold an egg carton full of half-cracked eggs. “Two boys,” he echoed quietly, looking down at the one. “What are we going to do with two boys…”
Lori took the other, struggling to sit up properly in bed. She was immediately and completely besotted, running a finger over a tiny, grasping hand. All of the fears of a few moments ago were completely forgotten. “We should probably come up with names for them…” She whispered, brushing her finger over a tiny, chubby face.
“Names, yes…” Dorsett repeated again, looking less infatuated and more terrified than his wife. Lorillen didn’t really notice, Dorsett could have been ill and she wouldn’t have ever realized. “Just… nothing starting with an O. How… how are we going to tell them apart…?”
“They should start with a ‘D’, so they match you,” she suggested in a gentle whisper. “I suppose we’ll have to dress them different… or put a ribbon on one’s wrist… I don’t suppose it matters much right now though. They’re perfect aren’t they?”
Dorsett stared down at the one in his arms, which was whimpering but not yet screaming. “They… yes, they are,” he breathed, though he still winced a little every time the infant looked like he might cry. “I read a book recently with an explorer named ‘Dorian’…”
“Dorian’s good. I think the one you’re holding looks like a Dorian.” She offered, very gently rocking the infant in her arms. “And Dennet or… Oh, Dravin. That’s a good strong name. I think he’ll be a good strong lad anyhow,” she whispered, beaming at him.
Dorsett slowly sat down on the bed beside her, not daring to move his arms into a more comfortable position for fear of disturbing the baby. “We did it,” he said suddenly, as if in shock. “You did it. We have twins. And they are both well, and you are well, and… twins. We have twins.”
Lori looked up at Dorsett with wide, happy eyes and then back down at the babies. “Dorian and Dravin,” she said in a sing-song voice and very gently, cradling Dravin in her right hand, reached with her left to adjust Dorsett’s hold on the baby, so his arm wasn’t so twisted. He looked like he’d never even seen a baby before and that just wasn’t going to do. “They won’t shatter, y’know,” she whispered at him.
Dorsett looked a little sheepish, but his posture didn’t change. “They are so tiny,” he marveled. “I did not think they would be so tiny…”
“Well how big were you expecting babies to be?” She whispered back at him. “They’re just tiny little things, they get big later. We’ll have to get more clothes, and nappies, but now you’ll have a whole full audience to read to.”
Dorsett murmured she couldn’t here but he seemed absolutely mesmerized by the infant in his arms and that was a start. “I will… look into it. Clothes,” he said vaguely. “…I need to find books on being a parent. If they exist, I never found one…”
“Cor, Dorsey,” she chided at him. “You don’t need a book for being a parent. You’re doing alright now, it just comes natural. You feed ’em and play with ’em and teach ’em reading and writing and you’ll be good at all that. Just do what your parents did.”
Dorsett looked slightly alarmed at the thought. “I do not remember what my parents did,” he realized, eyes wide. “Not with children under the age of ten!”
“Sh!” She whispered at him and then stifled a tired giggle. Very carefully she set Dravin to lay at her side on the bed and slid down to rest her head on the pillow. In the other room her mother had already piled up the dirty towels and mess of the birthing process. “You must remember what they did for you. Just do that, Dorsey.”
Swallowing a protest, Dorsett eased down beside her, leaving Dorian tucked between his arm and his chest. “Try to get some rest,” he told her, and he leaned over to give her a quick kiss to her forehead. “I love you.”
And he did, however differently.