So, I've seen several posts that have Esmeralda with a 'twin' brother (some beautiful genderbend work), so I just had to write something for it.
Please read, review and enjoy ?
Childbirth was a risky business, everyone in the Court knew that.
Clopin more than anyone.
Even he knew the story about how his mama died giving birth to his baby brother, who passed away not long after the event.
Drumming the fingers of his left hand against his thigh, he fidgeted nervously, unable to remain completely still as he waited for the screaming in the 'royal' tent to stop.
Everyone else looked as nervous as the fourteen-year-old felt.
Two women to his left were washing clothes, intensely focused on the task, as though the warm water would help to block out the noise. A man, who was standing next them, seemed close to tears himself.
Vaguely, Clopin remembered that the man had lost his own love to the pain of childbirth not too long ago.
An elderly couple across from him, who had always been very lucky when it came to their own children, sat there in both excitement and fear.
If this birth was successful, the Romani's and other travellers would have two more members of the 'royal family'.
Clopin sighed quietly and focused on his kneecaps, retreating into his imagination… until a shadow fell over him.
"Hello little prince…" Jehan teased, knowing how much Clopin hated the nickname as he sat next to him, "…. Gold penny for your thoughts?"
The teen shrugged and remained silent.
"… Thinking about your new baby brother or sister?" Jehan asked, not seeming to care that Clopin wasn't speaking, "Because what you're thinking is natural."
"You don't know what I'm thinking."
"Of course I do!" Jehan placed an arm around Clopin's shoulders and pulled him closer, "Younger brother or sister who's going to get all the attention for a while, and then when you get older, you know you'll probably have to take care of them…. I bet my brother Claude felt exactly the same, but most younger siblings aren't that bad."
"…. You ran away from him and fell in love with a gypsy, who he hates." Clopin smirked at him, "You are last person who should be saying younger brothers and sisters aren't that bad."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
Before Clopin could even think about teasing the older man further, a hand landed on his shoulder, snapping him out of his thoughts.
It was then that he realised the screaming of his Papa's second wife had stopped.
Looking at the person who had their hand on his shoulder, Clopin suddenly felt a little bit sick. Blood stained his Papa's blue tunic, his face was pale and his breathing was slightly laboured. Before Clopin could say anything, the King of the Gypsies suddenly fell to his knees as Jehan went to catch him.
"She's dead…" The King whispered weakly, and Clopin's heart sunk to the bottom of his stomach, "... Maria's dead… she's dead."
Not again… his Papa shouldn't have had to go through this all again.
Knowing that he had to be strong, Clopin wrapped his arms around the older man, remaining silent despite the burning question on the tip of his tongue.
What about the child?
"Saber…" Jehan spoke up before Clopin could, "… What about the child?"
Clopin and Jehan's eyes widened at this as Saber continued. "Twins. One girl and one boy…. They're okay but- "His voice trailed weakly, his hands gripping at the blood-stained material on his chest as though seeking some sort of anchor.
"What… what are we going to call them?" Clopin eventually spoke up after a few moments of muted sobbing from his Papa, trying to stop his Papa from retreating into himself.
Saber just shrugged, prompting Clopin to try a little harder.
"How about Esmeralda for the girl?" he asked, knowing that his Papa once had a sister with the same name, "And maybe… Saphir for the boy?"
Saphir…. The brother who died all those years ago would have been called that.
Saber just nodded, his eyes still shut and pressed his face against the top of Clopin's head.
"It's going to be okay Papa." Clopin tried to promise him, wincing as his Papa shook his head and groaned.
"No… no it's not."
"… Such a shame…"
"…. Only fourteen years old… "
"… so much responsibility…"
The happy news of the new-born twins was soon moved to one side when the rest of the gypsies realised just how badly the death of his second wife had affected their king, and what Clopin was having to do to keep everything afloat.
Bouncing in place, humming a nonsense song he'd heard long ago at one of the parades at around three in the morning, Clopin desperately tried to get three-week-old Esmeralda to get to sleep.
Who knows what had upset her this time.
The small baby let out a high-pitched wail, and Clopin rubbed the back of her head soothingly, stopping for a minute to sway side to side, as though leading the baby through a waltz… and probably looking a little foolish as he did so.
His ears were starting to ring, and he could only pray that her twin brother was alright in his basket. They could be just as fussy as each other sometimes.
He also hoped that his watery eyes were from lack of sleep, or he'd be screwed.
Locating a nearby blanket, he lay her down and checked her nappy with the hope that maybe all this fussing was only due to her feeling uncomfortable. It had only been changed a few hours ago, but he'd be willing to hand-wash all of the cloth nappies in order to stop the crying.
Seeing that she'd not even wet it, Clopin groaned in despair, the sound seeming to echo throughout the hideout.
"Please Esme…" he begged, "… I don't know what you want!"
Lifting her back into his arms, he sat on the stone ground and started to rock back and forth, slowly rubbing her back as he ignored the sympathetic looks he was getting from the nearby women.
Less than ten minutes passed before she fell asleep from exhaustion.
Slowly, he got back to his feet and headed back into the main tent, and gently placed her back in her basket, laying her next to her brother... who was only really half-asleep.
Well, at least he wasn't crying.
…. Okay, now he was.
Clopin turned to the tent entrance, as Jehan's wife, Rosella, entered, her heavily pregnant stomach protruding outwards.
"Do you want me to get some milk for him? I think Rose's cow has been milked recently?"
In exhaustion, he nodded wearily, giving her a sleepy smile as he lifted Saphir into his arms, desperately hoping the boy didn't wake his sister up.
Rosella returned quicker than what he expected, handing over the milk and watching as Clopin expertly placed the bottle in his little brothers' mouth and started talking to Saphir.
The tone was soothing and clearly intended to be child-friendly, however, unlike other careers, Clopin didn't make his voice any higher or plaster a fake grin on his face. He talked about the parade that was going to happen later on that day, the best trees for climbing, the puppet shows he had planned.
Saphir watched his big brother with half-lidded eyes, the milk already settling in his stomach, enough to make him drowsier.
Rosella couldn't help but smile at the scene, the smile only widening as Clopin finished feeding the baby, patting his back until he burped, before rocking him back to sleep.
"It's so humid outside…" he muttered, "… I'm trying to keep them cool, but I don't know how!"
"Get rid of the blankets and try and keep their clothing light."
When Clopin gave her a curious look, she shrugged and gave him a reassuring smile. "I looked after a lot of babies before I met Jehan… just trust me on this. I'll help you get cool, and then you should get some rest. It's bad enough your Papa will probably miss the parade, but there's no reason why you should as well."
Clopin stood there for a few moments, staring at her and remaining completely still, clearly trying not to wake Saphir again. Eventually, he sighed and placed the baby next to his sister, watching to make sure he wouldn't wake up again, before flopping into his own bed wearily.
"Rosella…" he whispered, just before she could leave, "… do you think my Papa's gonna be alright?"
It was times like this, when Rosella realised just how young Clopin really was. No fourteen-year-old should have this much responsibility.
"I believe so…" she eventually answered, "… we are all praying for him. I believe that God will not let him suffer for long. He will find peace, I promise."
"… Merci Rosella."
As she left the tent, she chose to ignore the muffled sobs of the young boy within.
Let Clopin keep his pride.