Wow. Only two chapters to go!
Yawning into his hand, Hiccup fumbled to unlock the front door of their home and managed to get his key in, so tired he contemplated sleeping there in the hallway. Locking the door up behind him, Hiccup took off his shoes and padded through to the living room, where he found the sort of sight he lived for.
Astrid was fast asleep on the sofa, top hiked up to expose her swollen, rounded belly. Lillian was curled up next to her, arm loosely draped over the bump as she slumbered on too. Smiling at their sweetness, Hiccup moved more carefully so as not to disturb them, biting back a chuckle at how no matter what, Lillian fidgeted in her sleep but Astrid was so used to it, it didn't risk waking her.
The pregnancy hadn't been without its trials and tribulations; Astrid's job came with a lot of limitations when the gym found out she was expecting, to cover themselves if anything happened so it wouldn't be blamed on her physical activity there. She kept her job, but the active woman found it frustrating how many things she couldn't do as her belly grew. And of course, that was before the dramatics of going for tests and scans as a three-person relationship.
Hiccup still wished they'd gotten a picture of the bewildered technician when both Astrid and Lillian walked in. Then there was having to explain that yes, they wore rings and yes, the twins had taken his last name but as polygamy was still illegal, they weren't 'technically' married. Astrid had to put Lillian down as her birthing partner just so nobody would fuss about her being there when Astrid eventually went to deliver, on the advice of a more sympathetic nurse who had seen a few polyamorous groups have some hassle with 'only the father' in the room.
It wasn't like Astrid could broadcast that Lillian was as much her wife as Hiccup was her husband, at least to them and their family. Not in quite the same way, but everyone recognised that Astrid and Lillian had made vows to each other to always share Hiccup fairly, and that was good enough for them.
And the last six months especially had been a whirlwind; Hiccup graduating university and hunting down a job because he was about to be a father, and that was without the added stress of moving house, from their 'first time living together' two bed into a 'family home' four-bed. They got it at a lower price because it needed a fair bit of work doing, but with any luck they wouldn't have to move again, unless they suddenly ended up with a whole mess of kids. And that hopefully meant no new neighbours to explain their relationship to...
Hiccup's engineering job was demanding and tiring, and then they spent a lot of time doing the house up, though thanks to a family of helpful and skilled types, it was probably a lot easier on them than it could have been.
But they'd been settled in time to celebrate Samhain in their new home, and photos covered walls and Astrid's ultrasounds were up on the fridge, charting the growth of their first child through the last seven months. And their childcare was, for the moment, not a concern, since his mother had pointed out that she worked from home and would be only too happy to get lots of time to spoil her first grandchild. They had a lot of other offers too... Hiccup was starting to wonder if they'd have to actually schedule time to have their own child home, with how excited the entire family was. It had been a whole year since anyone had a baby, so it seemed they were all getting broody.
Changing into comfortable clothes, Hiccup snapped a photo of the twins napping on his phone when he got back downstairs, then went in search of food. Astrid was on maternity leave so she was home a lot, though quite often she'd be dropped off at Valka's if there would be nobody home but her all day so she wasn't alone. Lillian had been off work that day, and it showed in the baked goods in the fridge (all missing slices or with gaps in the pattern on the plate that just had Astrid's name written all over them).
He was due time off soon too; since Hiccup and his family didn't celebrate Christmas, he'd got landed with the Christmas Eve shift nobody wanted but it meant he got a couple of days off for Yule, and since it was so close to when he'd be going off for paternity leave, he wasn't complaining.
"Ughhhhh, Lils, I love you, but I have to pee and I am trapped."
He heard Astrid wake up, chuckling as Astrid struggled to extricate herself from her octupus-like sisters embrace. Heading out, Astrid lit up at the sight of him.
"Hiccup! Come help me up, Lils is not helpful."
"Is she even awake?"
Lillian mumbled as she drew away from Astrid, letting Hiccup help her to her feet. She cradled her heavy bump, groaning before remembering she was getting up to pee and rushing off. She was still pretty quick on her feet, though she did struggle with moving from horizontal to vertical and the sofa was both her best friend and greatest enemy (her words, not his).
Stirring fully, Lillian stood and wrapped her arms around Hiccup, still yawning.
"Mmm. Astrid's nesting so we were fussing around with the baby stuff for hours. Packed and unpacked and repacked the hospital bag a bunch of times."
Hiccup chuckled, smile widening when Lillian nuzzled her face against his neck and squeezed him.
"Missed you too."
Astrid came back and used both Hiccup and Lillian to sit comfortably, before asking about Hiccup's day and grinning when he plucked at the tunic she was wearing.
"Has mom been making more clothes?"
"Yeah. She said it's absolutely not too much, because she's pretty sure we won't stop at one so we'll need maternity clothes again. And this is so comfy, I might actually wear it after I pop anyway. You, little thing" Astrid hadn't wanted to find out the sex, and Hiccup didn't care either way, so they had a range of neutral nicknames for the baby "had better stay in there til after Yule. I already can't drink, I at least want to eat my weight in sun cookies and honeycakes before I'm a slave to your feeding cycle."
Come Yule, Astrid found herself touched by how several of their baskets of gifted food contained alcohol-free drinks, so she'd be able to drink them even if she was pregnant or nursing, and Hiccup smiled at how the twins accepted things like that now, rather than early on when they were surprised by the level of inclusion and thoughtfulness they were shown.
"You must be fit to burst by now, surely lass?"
Astrid nodded at Stoick, rubbing her stomach as he handed her a plate piled up with cakes and biscuits.
"Feels like it. Not sure they like the pork pies, so I guess I'm on sweets."
"Oh, I am sure that is such a hardship for you."
Having spent so much time at his mothers house lately, Astrid had inevitably spent a great amount of time with Mala too, and turned with a smile toward that regal Australian voice.
"Mala, what are you implying?"
"That you have the sweet tooth of an adolescent and yet the physique of somebody with a diet far healthier?"
"Not right now I don't. I look like I swallowed a beach ball. If this kid is as tiny as Hiccup was, I'll be annoyed that I'm this big."
Hiccup stuck his tongue out.
"I was premature, you're already basically to term."
A hand rubbed through his hair, Hiccup turning to smile at his mother.
"And look at you now."
"Where has Lils got to? I saw her there but she has gone."
Astrid pouted, visibly debating moving the plate that was resting on her stomach to go in search of her twin.
"I'll go find her."
Her pout became a smile.
He felt content leaving Astrid with both his parents and Mala, who would become his stepmother in a few months time, when Beltane rolled around again. Hiccup marvelled at how different things would be compared to that years Beltane celebration, which had been he and the twins second anniversary, and the day Astrid said she was pregnant. Next year would be their third anniversary, his mothers handfasting, and they'd have a child celebrating all their firsts.
The twins almost white-blonde hair stuck out quite well against a mob mostly with varying shades of red or brown hair, a few grey and other more ash-blonds here and there, so Hiccup didn't expect to have trouble picking Lillian out. He couldn't see her near the food or in the kitchen, but knew some were outside getting the log burning ready. He found her, immediately concerned.
"Lillian, are you alright?"
She was clutching her stomach, one hand braced against the wall and her face was contorted in pain.
"I don't know, I came out to see if anyone needed help with the fire and it just hurts."
Her voice was strained, knuckles standing white against her skin. Hiccup had his hand in his pocket for his phone to call an ambulance, quietly freaking out before Lillian straightened up, face and posture relaxing completely.
"I don't think it was me."
Before Hiccup could ask what she meant, he was stopped by someone calling his name, and the house had fallen eerily silent. As soon as he rounded the door, people parted so he could see Astrid now clutching her stomach, parents urging he and Lillian over.
"What's going on?"
"Well, I think I ruined the seat but I also think my water just broke."
It took about three and a half seconds for Hiccup's mild panic to let the words permeate his brain, and then he realised what Astrid was saying.
"Oh! Ok! Uh... what do we do?"
There were several pitying looks thrown his way before Hiccup's brain kicked in and he realised what a daft question that was. Lillian patted his shoulder, then nudged him toward the door.
"Go get the car, we'll bring Astrid."
People yelled congratulations as Hiccup hastened to get outside, looking for his car amongst all the others and feeling relieved it wasn't hemmed in by questionable parking. Heart pounding in his chest, it was a show of how Hiccup was equal parts anxious idiot and organised adult that he'd intentionally stayed sober just in case this exact thing happened, and yet the actual happening had almost knocked him over.
He wasn't that surprised that rather than have Astrid try and walk (which she probably would have tried to do anyway if it was anyone but Stoick), his dad had just picked her up and carried her out. Lillian was clearly beside herself and trying to look calm, helping get Astrid in the car. She was obviously in some discomfort already, gripping Lillian's hand tight as soon as it was in reach.
"Go, go, we're right behind you son."
Hiccup went, almost forgetting which way he was even going for a minute.
"How are you feeling Astrid?"
"Like something large and wriggly is trying to escape my uterus."
Lillian snorted with laughter, and he caught a tight smile cross Astrid's face in the rear-view mirror before turning his eyes back to the road. He could hear Lillian soothing Astrid, caught glimpses of her stroking her sisters hair as roads raced by at barely legal speeds. The view of the hospital was a great relief, and Astrid naturally insisted on walking from the car to the entrance rather than let him go get her a chair.
"My wife is in labour!"
Hiccup blurted in panic, thinking right now wasn't the time for strangers to gawk at the identical twins but not caring so long as someone made sure mother and baby were doing alright. Astrid growled at the first implication only Hiccup would be allowed in, and wisely, the nurse backed off long enough for Lillian to say she was Astrid's birth partner anyway.
After the manic rush there, someone checked Astrid over and said she was only about halfway dilated so they could catch their breath for a minute, which was easier said than done when Astrid's contractions were rapidly growing closer together and more intense.
"Go tell the crowd that everything is ok, cus you can't have your phone on in here."
Lillian urged him, and Astrid nodded with a warning to hurry back. Hiccup ventured back out, finding both his parents and their respective partners hovering in the waiting room nearby.
"Everything is moving kinda quick, but they seem torn between saying not long now and it could be a while. I'll... let you know, I guess."
His parents gave him bracing hugs and reassurances, joking about the family left behind to make him smile before shooing Hiccup back to his wives, entering the room just in time to hear Astrid's retort to whatever Lillian had said before.
"Next time, definitely your turn!"
"In my defence, this baby wasn't planned."
Astrid stuck her tongue out, but she didn't stop leaning into her sister all the same. They both looked up at Hiccup, who wasn't entirely sure what to do with himself.
"Mom, Mala, dad and Hanna are here. Others wanted to come but dad managed to convince them the hospital wouldn't appreciate a horde of drunk pagans, and that photos will be circulated via text or internet as soon as we feel up to it."
Wincing as she adjusted herself on her pillow pile, Astrid rolled her eyes.
"Everything is such a family affair, it's like being adopted by fifty people all at once."
"Well, you married into this motley crew, don't blame me."
Astrid had had to stop wearing her rings a few weeks ago, as the mix of cold and pregnancy made her hands swell sometimes and the wide bands dug into her fingers. She kept them with her still, and they knew the rings would go back on as soon as they fit her. It hadn't stopped her from joking it looked more like just Hiccup and Lillian were married, while Astrid was knocked up.
"It doesn't say married here."
Hiccup jumped as a voice materialised from behind him, the voice transpiring to belong to a medical person holding Astrid's records.
"No, not legally but that's a long story for when I'm not about to put a new human in the world."
As if determined to throw all their expectations of a first delivery aside, Astrid progressed through labour quicker than they were anticipating and tried to break the bones in Hiccup's hand with her next three contractions, then began insisting she needed to push.
There was a lot of screaming and Astrid threatened Hiccup with both death and castration at various points, and he could see Lillian on her other side trying not to laugh when Astrid was catching her breath between each push. He could feel the indentation of his own rings branded into his fingers from Astrid's squeezing his hand, but given what Astrid was going through, Hiccup kept quiet and hoped to the gods it was over soon. He hated seeing her in so much pain.
And then there was a head, and shoulders and body all covered in goop, wailing in indignation at being out of the warm cosy home Astrid made for them and Hiccup had never heard such a beautiful sound. Astrid sagged in relief and Lillian was definitely crying a little bit, goopy messy baby immediately placed in Astrid's arms to hold them close for those precious first skin-to-skin moments.
When he was allowed to, Hiccup was invited to cut the cord. It wasn't as easy as it looked on TV, but it went eventually and the amazingly calm midwife managed to extricate the baby from Astrid's arms, taking them for a quick clean and weighing and a little name tag before returning them to the anxiously waiting parents.
In all his (not obsessive, no matter what Astrid said) reading, he knew post-delivery Astrid could still be in some pain, but if she was, he couldn't tell. She was teary and flushed and sweatiing, hair stuck to her face. Hiccup couldn't imagine when she'd ever looked more beautiful, glowing as she stroked their baby's cheek with her finger.
"Well, they're not tiny like me."
"Nope, definitely not."
In fact, Hiccup thought some of their smallest newborn clothes might not even fit them, looking at their chubby cheeks and arms and legs.
Still dazed and beaming, Hiccup eventually peeled himself away from their sides just to go and update the waiting family, already aching to go back and just look at them.
"Bouncing baby girl Haddock. Looks just like her mothers, and I think she's about twice what I weighed. Maybe more."
He held out his phone, switched on to airplane mode so they could take a photo to show to excited grandparents. There was cooing and squealing - mostly from Stoick - over it, and once she promised not to send it out yet he sent the picture to his mom, so they could carry on looking while Hiccup headed back. Astrid had shifted to sit more comfortably, nursing the baby at her breast with a peaceful look on her face.
"Hey. Everyone alive out there?"
"Well, they're all absolutely gooey over the baby but yeah, I think they're alive."
Astrid smiled, eyes falling back down to watch their daughter.
"So, what do you think we should call her?"
"Hold still you little monkey."
Astrid chuckled to herself as Hiccup shifted how he was holding their daughter, Aura just over four months old and definitely not old enough to appreciate quietly respecting handfasting rituals going on only feet away. Luckily, the women in question being bound were two of her very proud grandmothers (which Astrid found absolutely hilarious when Mala was only nine years older than Hiccup, a decade younger than Valka, but they were so clearly a brilliant match).
Aura settled just enough not to interrupt the binding itself, but as soon as the cheering went up when the knot was tied, she was very unhappy and started making a lot of noise herself. Astrid reached for her, recognising the way she sucked at her fingers.
"I think she's hungry, I got it."
Hiccup handed her over, Lillian surrepitiously keeping Astrid from being stared at undoing the ties on her tunic, one of the ones Valka had made her when Astrid was still pregnant with need to breastfeed in mind. As soon as Aura realised there was food available, she latched on and quieted down. Hiccup was congratulating... well, Astrid supposed the newlyweds were their mothers, since Valka had long since called the twins her daughters, and so that made Mala their stepmother.
In a show of gratitude for all the efforts Valka had put into their handfasting, Hiccup had somehow found the time to make both womens dresses since they didn't have parents to do it for them; all the more impressive when he'd only had two months of work, and was a hands-on dad every available minute. Then again, Astrid was pretty sure none of them had actually slept since Yule, when Aura was born.
Aura was a beautiful little thing though, all Astrid and Lillian in the face but the shock of red-brown hair was all Hiccup's line, and Astrid fully expected a hearty dusting of freckles to match the proud dad as Aura got bigger. Astrid hoped she had Hiccup's smile, though Astrid was reliably informed Aura had Astrid's scowl down to a T.
Muslin cloths helped protect from baby spit up when Aura was winded, and Hiccup happily took over holding her again when given half the chance. He smiled at the bracelet Astrid wore around her wrist, identical to the one Lillian was wearing. Third anniversaries were traditionally leather gifts, and they had already recieved new leather boots from Stoick (handily timed as their old ones were getting worn out), and gorgeous leather bound photo albums from Valka, one of the adults complete with graduations and their handfasting and any other pictures lying around, and another clearly just getting started as it was filled with all the photos she had of Aura so far.
Hiccup had made them leather bracelets, intricate and beautiful and reminscent of the cords that were used for their handfasting. Hiccup didn't own a lot of proper coats as he didn't like the bulk of them, so Astrid and Lillian gave Hiccup a nice, durable leather jacket. It was a totally happy coincidence that watching him try it on had made Astrid want to jump him that morning, but he had to go help his mom get ready for her handfasting.
Fed and cuddled to her satisfaction, Aura was a little less fussy when it came to heading back for the usual Beltane celebrations, though she wasn't too sure about being passed around excitable relatives and Lillian rescued her when she started getting irritable. She absolutely adored Valka though, content to listen to her grandmothers soft lilting voice as Valka cuddled her gently and stroked her hair.
"Oh, she's so beautiful."
"Well, with mothers like them, who's surprised?"
Astrid shared a smile with Lillian, leaning in to her sisters side and feeling Lils slip an arm around her, both resuming watching Valka and Hiccup coo over Aura. Much like they had, Mala opted to change out of her dress once the ceremony was over, not really accustomed to wearing them and looking relieved to be back in trousers again, but sporting a soft gold tunic to keep some of the colour scheme.
"And here's your other grandma!"
"A peculiar thing to hear when I have neither birthed a child of my own nor reached forty years of age, but I will accept a cuddle from this lovely young girl nonetheless."
Mala was as smitten as anyone else with Aura, the usually small smile wider when holding her, and despite how ridigly neat Mala was, she didn't seem to mind getting drooled on. Astrid wondered, but didn't think it her place to ask if they thought about kids; Valka couldn't have more after Hiccup, and now he was a grown up with wives and a child of his own. And it wasn't as though Mala would get pregnant accidentally like Astrid had.
Either way, she was quite sure they were blissfully, ecstatically happy to be married, Valka wrapping her arm around Mala as they both fawned over little Aura. Naturally, they were quite keen to hand her back when Aura needed changing. Hiccup, because he was wonderful like that, offered to deal with it and scooped up daughter and baby bag before heading to the bathroom.
Slipping away to give Valka and Mala their quiet moment, Astrid felt Lillian lace their fingers together, something everyone around them had seen happen countless times by then and never questioned. Some undoubtedly had suspicions about the arrangements that went on, but it was never brought up.
"Love you Lils."
"Love you too Astrid."
Hiccup reappeared a few minutes later, invited into their little embrace and pressing kisses to each of their temples.
I know Aura is a kind of Extra name, but I had two reasons for choosing it. One I think is kind of clear, but I'll be very impressed if anyone can figure out both reasons.