Bonding Hearts

After over 2 years in the making, I'm pleased to present the final installment of my Robert and Sienna trilogy of Hearts stories!

Again, Robert and Sienna are property of Dan Brown.

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Not for the first time, noted symbology professor Robert Langdon found himself fearing for his life. Unlike the previous instances where he came face-to-face with his own mortality, which included nearly dying by being shot at, drowning while trapped in a small box, and even being nearly engulfed in an antimatter explosion hundreds of feet above the Vatican skyline, this time he genuinely felt as though he were in mortal peril as pain once again lanced up his arm.

"ROBERT LANGDON, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!"

Snarling at her husband, Sienna Langdon cried out as another contraction wracked her body, more painful than the last one. Wincing as her hand threatened to break his own, Robert Langdon simply gave his wife a pained smile.

Today had been just another regular day for the pregnant doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Due to the advanced stage of her pregnancy, Sienna had been delegated to desk duty in her office for her final trimester, finding the alternative of just sitting around in their apartment and waiting for Robert to come home every evening unacceptable. She had been in the middle of doing some mundane paperwork when her water had broken, and she was quickly rushed into the maternity ward. One of Sienna's colleagues had then called Harvard University, and was assured that Professor Langdon would be informed of what was happening with his wife as soon as possible.

The symbology professor had all but sprinted out of the classroom mid-lecture when the message was delivered to him by an out of breath grad student that his wife was going into labor. He had only just managed to stay within the speed limit as he raced along the nearly four mile drive from the campus to the hospital. Once he had put on the appropriate hospital scrubs that were handed to him by one of the nurses, he had not left Sienna's side since he had joined her nearly eight hours ago.

"Push, Mrs. Langdon!"

Her blonde hair plastered to her forehead with sweat, Sienna Langdon née Brooks cried out in agony as she followed the doctor's instructions. Taking a deep breath, she flexed the muscles she didn't even know she had 24 hours ago, and after the pain in her pelvis spiked excruciatingly, it quickly abated into a dull ache.

A few moments later, a loud cry filled the hospital room as her child took its first lungfuls of air.

"It's a girl!"

Slumping back against her damp hospital mattress, Sienna watched through bleary eyes as Robert shakily followed the doctor's careful guidance, and cut their daughter's umbilical cord. The crying infant was then handed to a nurse who took her to an adjoining room to be cleaned, weighed, and measured, as per hospital protocol. With nothing else to do for the moment, her husband retook his place by her bedside.

"You were fantastic, Sienna." Langdon softly murmured to her, as he placed a gentle kiss on his wife's drenched forehead.

"All thanks to you being here, Robert." Sienna replied tiredly, smiling up at her husband. Reaching up, she took Robert's large hand in her own as she settled back in her bed, eagerly looking forward to holding their newborn baby girl.

Suddenly, a contraction as powerful as the one that introduced their daughter to the world shuddered through Sienna's exhausted body. Her back arched slightly off the bed, and she couldn't help the pained cry that escaped her lips. Having not expected the sudden recurrence of her pain, she ended up squeezing her husband's hand harder than she normally would have, resulting in a pained yelp from the equally startled professor. Almost immediately, Sienna was surrounded by the nursing staff, having surged into activity at the unexpected renewal of Sienna's labor pains.

"W-what's happening to me?" Sienna gritted out to the obstetrician as another contraction pulsed through her. Taking a close look at the ultrasound and various monitoring equipment, and then taking a peek between her legs, the doctor quickly determined the cause of his colleague's pain, and looked up to address Sienna with a small smile growing on his face.

"Well Mrs. Langdon, it looks to me like your daughter had some company in there; I can see a second head crowning even as we speak."

"What?!"

The professor and his wife shared a stunned look with each other. Months ago, they had agreed with their doctor that, while they would submit to regular ultrasound examinations, they did not want to be told the baby's gender. The couple wanted to be surprised when the time for the birth arrived. Apparently, the examiner had assumed that they didn't want to know the number of children they were going to have, either.

At the moment however, Sienna couldn't care less about doctors, ultrasounds, or even her own husband standing beside her. All she wanted was to get this baby out.

And so with an almost inhuman effort, she clenched her jaw and flexed her pelvic muscles in the ways that she had been taught. Perhaps it was because she had already given birth, but Sienna found birthing her second child infinitely easier than the first. While still painful, it no longer felt as though she was going to be ripped apart from the pain. Sure enough, it wasn't long before a second cry of a newborn baby echoed in the delivery room.

"It's a boy!"

With an exhausted laugh escaping her, Sienna fell once more back into her now thoroughly soaked mattress, the room dissolving into a blur of colors and sounds as she gradually succumbed to the pull of sleep. The last thing she felt before darkness took her was the feel of her husband's hand sliding once more into her own.

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Several hours later, Sienna sighed contentedly to herself as the pressure that had been building in her breasts was alleviated by a pair of hungry mouths. Her daughter was eagerly suckling on her left breast, while her younger brother nursed at a more leisurely pace on her right.

After she had finished giving birth to her son, and the afterbirth had been expelled from her body, the new mother had been moved to a postpartum room on one of the hospital's upper floors. Set aside from the hustle and bustle of the more active wings, the postpartum floor of Massachusetts General served as a relatively quiet location to allow new mothers to recover from the physical trauma of giving birth, as well as to allow them to bond with their children during their stay at the hospital. The rooms included the basic amenities of a hotel suite, including a small bathroom, television, and a couch, upon which her husband was currently sitting.

Having not anticipated twins, Robert was currently on the phone with the dean at Harvard, informing him of the new additions to his burgeoning family, and to request additional leave of absence, in order to help Sienna and himself get settled after this unexpected development. While Robert had already been given paternity leave by the university, he had done so on the assumption that they were only having one baby. Luckily, Robert was a tenured professor, and had accumulated quite a large number of vacation days. From the smile growing on her husband's face, Sienna assumed that she would be able to spend much more time with him in the coming weeks.

"Yeah. That's great! Thank you so much, Rakesh."

Hanging up the phone, Robert stood up and walked over to Sienna, sitting down in a chair that was situated next to the side of her bed.

"Dr. Khurana says that I can take as much time off as I need, and that he hopes you and the babies are in good health. I told him that we're all over the moon, and that I'll be bringing him pictures as soon as I can."

Sienna beamed up at her husband, a title she was still getting used to using. The babies, having drunk their fill, settled down quietly in their mother's arms. The young doctor felt as though her heart was fit to burst with the amount of love she held for the three of them.

As Robert and her sat in comfortable silence, and her children quietly fell asleep in her arms, Sienna contemplated just how much her life had changed in the past seven months.

'We've certainly come a long way from where we were...'

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Their wedding had been a relatively quiet affair; neither Robert nor herself had very large extended families. As a result, they were able to have a small ceremony at a lovely little chapel in Martha's Vineyard; most of the guests were comprised of the couple's closest friends and colleagues from the hospital and the university. Afterwards, they had spent a weeklong cruise in the Caribbean for their honeymoon; Robert had been adamant about not spending it in France, and both of them had agreed that a honeymoon in Italy was out of the question as well for obvious reasons.

Upon returning to the States, they had both resumed working at their respective jobs, Sienna at the hospital, and Robert at the university. At the moment, they were both living in Sienna's modest downtown apartment, but Robert was confident that by the end of the year, they would be able to afford a house of their own in the Boston suburbs.

'A perfect place to raise our child - well, children.' Sienna corrected fondly to herself, as she looked at the pair of sleeping babies in her arms.

Her pregnancy had been fairly ordinary, by all accounts. She had experienced the stereotypical mood swings due to her fluctuating hormones, and Robert and her had attended Lamaze birthing classes near the end of her term. Between her own medical knowledge and what she was able to look up about the subject online, Sienna had kept herself in good physical health. While she had the anxiousness that all first-time mothers experience, she took great comfort in the fact that Robert had kept his word, and was with her every step of the way, hormones and all. He didn't even complain in the slightest when she had once asked him to pick up some mozzarella sticks and a side of lobster rolls one night.

'In spite of all the aches and pains, the tears and the cravings, it was all worth it in the end to have these two in my arms.'

Now that she was able to get a good look at her children, Sienna could see that their son had inherited her own blonde hair color, while their little girl had Robert's dark tresses. Likewise, in the instances when they opened their eyes, she could see that their daughter's eyes had acquired Robert's distinct shade of blue, and that their son had a soft shade of caramel that she instantly recognized as her own. Beyond that, their faces were a mass of slightly squashed pink flesh, their softer facial features yet to fully be defined. Looking at them, Sienna felt her heart swell.

They were absolutely perfect.

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A knock on the door roused Sienna from her introspection, as both she and Robert turned their gazes to the entryway. Standing there was a smiling orderly, carrying a small stack of papers in one hand, and a cup of coffee in the other.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Mr. and Mrs. Langdon. I just wanted to let you both know that the lab results came back and that your babies are in perfect health: they're the correct size and weight, with no signs of jaundice presenting itself."

The couple both let out a soft sigh and looked at each other in relief; while they didn't think their babies weren't healthy, it nevertheless felt good to have it confirmed by a trained professional. In spite of Sienna's personal experience as a doctor, she wasn't a trained pediatrician. After a moment, Robert broke eye contact with his wife and turned to address the orderly fully.

"Well, thank you for letting us know. Was there anything else that you needed?"

Placing his cup of coffee on the table, the man began rifling through the stack of papers in his arms. Seeming to find what he was looking for after a few moments, he pulled out two pieces of paper and handed them to Robert, who looked at them curiously.

"As a matter of fact, there is: the matter of your children's documentation. You didn't provide names for your children to the nurse at the time of delivery, so she had to leave that space blank. It's been a few hours now, and we were wondering if you had decided on what you wanted your children's names to be so that I can finish filling out their birth certificates for our files. If you both still need some time, I can always come back later if you'd like..."

The professor turned back to Sienna, who smiled and nodded at her husband. Mirroring the gesture, Robert returned his attention to the orderly.

"Well," said Langdon, "Sienna and I had a discussion a few months back, and we agreed that if the baby was a boy, that I could pick his first name, while she could pick his middle name, and that if the baby was a girl, she could pick her first name, and I could pick her middle name. We spent several hours coming up with possible name combinations for either scenario, but now it looks like we don't have to worry about that."

The couple shared an amused look with one another, as they gazed down at their sleeping twins. Gently brushing his son's soft blond hair, Langdon continued.

"Sienna decided to use names of people that, either directly or indirectly, were responsible for us meeting each other, while I went with a more classical approach, and went with names from Alighieri's Divine Comedy, since without his works, I wouldn't have had reason to have ever crossed paths with Sienna in the first place."

The professor paused to gaze lovingly down at his wife and children. Without looking up, he resumed addressing the orderly.

"We decided to name our daughter Elizabeth Beatrice Langdon."

Nodding, the orderly made the appropriate notations on the young girl's birth certificate.

"Alright. Elizabeth... Beatrice. Got it. And, your son's name?"

"We decided to go with Dante Bertrand Langdon."

At this, the orderly gave the pair a bemused look, unable to stop himself from raising an eyebrow; while the name Bertrand didn't have the same sort of stigma attached to it like a name such as Adolf would, the name would undoubtedly give people pause, considering that it had become somewhat of a household name in recent months. Virtually nobody these days with access to either a television or the Internet was unfamiliar with the name of Bertrand Zobrist, and what he had done to humanity as a whole. Likewise, due to several interviews that the couple in front of him had given over the past few years, as well as those from some key members of the World Health Organization, the Langdon's adventures in Italy and Turkey were also well documented. Nevertheless, he filled out the name on the certificate with the name he was given.

"Okay, that should just about do it. I just need to run this down to our records room, and you'll be all set."

Giving the foursome one last smile, he picked up his coffee and proceeded to head for the door. Pausing on his way out the door, the orderly stopped and turned to Robert with a somewhat intrigued expression on his face.

"Out of curiosity though, out of all the characters in The Divine Comedy, why did you choose Beatrice and Dante? Why not Virgil, for instance?"

The professor gave him a wry grin, pleased to have an excuse to share his reasoning with an individual familiar with Dante Alighieri's works.

"In Dante's Paradiso, Beatrice serves as a guide for Dante; helping him find his way through the course of his adventures. I can't think of a more appropriate name for an older sister, even if it is just by a couple of minutes, who will help her younger brother get by in the world as they grow up together."

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If someone had told Robert Langdon two years ago that he would be married to a beautiful blonde doctor, and that he would have a pair of twins with her, he would have suggested to that individual that they should go and get their head examined. Now however, as he looked at his sleeping family, he wouldn't want it any other way.

'I still can't believe that I'm actually a father...'

Currently, the symbology professor was seated in a comfortable olive green armchair situated beside Sienna's bed. In his arms were the sleeping forms of Dante and Elizabeth, both swaddled in soft blankets; Elizabeth in a pink heart-patterned one and Dante in a blue blanket with a star pattern. The arrangement allowed Robert to both bond with his children, and to give his wife a much-deserved and well-earned rest. Looking down at the pair of sleeping infants, he felt a great warmth in his chest. That he and Sienna could create something so incredibly beautiful, was nothing short of miraculous in his eyes.

'I've only known them for a couple of hours, and I'm already in love with both of them.'

Turning his gaze over to the softly dozing Sienna, he was unable to stop a loving smile from stretching across his tired face.

'I'd be tired too after ten hours of labor...'

When he had received word from a panting graduate assistant that his wife was going into labor, his immediate reaction was panic. In spite of Sienna's reassurances, in spite of all the information that they had gathered about pregnancy over the course of the past seven months, even in spite of the fact that Sienna was in a hospital at the time her water broke, all Langdon cared about was getting to her side as fast as humanly possible.

Vaguely, he recalled that he had immediately dismissed his class before hastily walking out of the lecture room. As soon as the door had closed behind him, he had all but sprinted his way to the employee parking lot. Despite the fact that the hospital was a mere four miles from the campus, fate seemed against Robert, as virtually every intersection had decided to turn red upon his approach. As such, it was nearly twenty minutes before he was even able to find a parking space at the hospital.

Robert considered himself fortunate that Sienna was so popular among her colleagues at the hospital; as soon as he had entered the building, he had immediately been told where to go by an awaiting nurse. On the way, he was handed a set of pale green hospital scrubs to wear over his clothes, and he nearly tripped trying to put them on while at the same time making his way towards the delivery room. The palpable relief that had crossed Sienna's face when he had entered the room drove him to immediately take his place by her side.

Eight hours later, a good portion of which included a substantial amount of pained screaming on Sienna's part and a nearly broken hand on his, Langdon was a father, and the excitement bubbling in his chest as he cut his children's umbilical cords made him feel almost giddy.

Now though, with his excitement having dwindled down to a much more manageable level, as he looked down at the sleeping twins, the professor couldn't prevent the pessimistic thoughts that were creeping into his consciousness. Irrational fears and worries primarily centralized around his ability of being a decent father to his children, considering that his own father had died when Langdon was twelve. While Peter Solomon had been a decent father-figure throughout most of his teenage years, it just wasn't the same, and considering how Peter's own biological child had turned out, asking him for parental advice seemed inappropriate.

"Penny for your thoughts, Robert?"

The professor was so deep in his own thoughts, he couldn't refrain from jolting slightly when he heard someone calling his name. Luckily, he kept his movement's restrained enough so that the twins slept on undisturbed.

Jarred from his thoughts, Langdon looked up to see the amused and loving chocolate gaze of his wife. Apparently sometime while he was lost in his own introspection, she had quietly woken up from her nap. He couldn't stop himself from returning Sienna's fond look with one of his own, in spite of his own current insecurities of being a good father to his children.

"Hey there, sleepyhead. How are you feeling?"

Sienna gave him a small smile.

"Still a little sore down there, but much better than I was feeling a few hours ago."

"I'm glad to hear it."

Her smile fading into a more concerned expression, Sienna continued.

"You didn't answer my question though, Robert. What's on your mind that's got you looking so anxious?"

Langdon sighed softly to himself. While normally, most people wouldn't be able to tell what he was thinking, somehow Sienna had the innate ability to read his moods like an open book. Privately, he suspected that it was an ability all wives possessed in regards to their husbands. Recognizing the futility of keeping his fears hidden from her, the professor decided to simply grit his teeth and get it over with. Bowing his head in embarrassment, he began his confession.

"I'm... just worried that I won't be a good enough father to Elizabeth and Dante. I've been an academic for nearly all of my life; I don't even know how to change a diaper, let alone anything about raising twins. Growing up, nobody ever taught me how to raise children. What if when they need me, I won't be able to help them? What if-"

Langdon cut himself off when he felt Sienna's small hand slip into his own. Glancing up, he saw that her beautiful brown eyes were looking at him with a gaze that radiated love, devotion, and an overwhelming amount of understanding. Without breaking eye contact, Sienna took full control of the conversation.

"You don't think I have the same fears? Of course I do! I have about as much experience in being a mother as you do in being a father! The thought of it is absolutely terrifying to me! But I do know that's what parenthood is, Robert. There's no one correct method to raising a child, and all the books and advice in the world aren't going to give us all the answers we need. All we can do is to help each other become the best parents we can possibly be, and our children will bloom like beautiful flowers because of it. Neither of us are going to be the perfect parent, but together, we can balance our strengths and weaknesses, and Elizabeth and Dante can only benefit from it. Sure, being a mom and dad will keep us from going on grand adventures like you and I used to do, but personally, I can't think of a greater adventure than that of being a parent."

Considering Sienna's words, Robert looked down at the pair of sleeping infants, and he couldn't help but agree. Silently, he squeezed Sienna's hand to convey his feelings. While the prospect of being a parent was a daunting one, so long as he had Sienna by his side, he was confident that together, they would be able to persevere through anything that life threw their way.

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"Tre cosi ci sono rimaste del paradiso: le stelle, i fiori e i bambini."

-Dante Alighieri

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And that's a wrap! Stay tuned for one last Author's Note with my final thoughts on my trilogy of Robert and Sienna stories.

Don't forget to Follow/Favorite this story if you liked it, and check out the first two parts in my Hearts trilogy if you enjoyed this one.

Oh, and please feel free to drop me a review!