Let Your Heart Be Light - Chapter 9 (Final Chapter)

By Friday, Lily's post-holiday blues are gone. She's back to her usual cheerful self, chattering everybody's ear off at breakfast, detailing what she hopes to say to her best school friend who isn't in her class at lunch today. Kate tries her best to follow her daughter's story, alternating between sipping idly at the coffee Castle had brought to her in bed - the half and half blend she's been sneaking instead of drinking the full-strength coffee they have in the house - and nibbling on a piece of buttered toast while holding out pieces of fruit for Reece and Jake to eat.

"That sounds like you're going to have an eventful lunch today, Little Flower," Kate murmurs. She reaches out, tapping Lily's plate. "Better eat up so you have the strength to do all that."

Beside her, Castle lifts an eyebrow. She knows what he's saying without needing him to say it: she should do the same, eat her food so she's prepared for her day, too.

Their day.

Before she'd told him, she'd been planning to duck out of work and go to the doctor while she knew Rick would be occupied getting the kids to school. That way, she would've had the definitive test results and hopefully an initial scan to show her husband when she presented her news. Now that he knows, though, they're taking the morning to get the kids to school and going to her appointment together. She'll put in an appearance at work afterward if she needs to, but otherwise, they'll come home and celebrate in private before they figure out how and when to tell the rest of the family.


"Yes, baby," she murmurs, answering automatically before even processing which child is calling her name.

It's Reece, as it turns out. He giggles, offering her a bite of scrambled egg from his plate. "I'm done."

"You're done?" she repeats, eyeing how much food is left on his plate. He's the grazer of the family, so she's not surprised to see more remaining than what's on Jake's plate, but she also knows it's fine; he'll have snack at the preschool around ten, and then lunch around noon before she and Rick pick them up. And if he gets hungry sooner, his teachers will let him have a little something to tide him over.

"Ya, Mommy. M'done."

"Okay," she agrees. Grabbing a napkin and then a wet wipe, she swipes at his hands, getting in between his fingers to make sure most of the stickiness of the fruit he's been eating is gone. "Go get your shoes and find your coat. You don't have to put it on yet but find it."

He nods, sliding off his chair and scampering toward the closet where they've taken to stashing shoes along with the coats.

"M'done, too!" Jake announces, looking up from his plate with his mouth half-full of eggs (which is a sight Kate would rather not see (ever really), especially not when her body has decided the reprieve from morning sickness is over).

"Chew and swallow your food, Jakey," she murmurs, lifting her coffee to her mouth and letting the rich aroma quell the churning in her gut. "Then we'll wipe your hands, and you can go get ready with Reece."

He nods quickly, making a show of swallowing his eggs before holding out his hands. She grabs a fresh wipe from the package Rick holds out, cleaning both of the boy's little hands and moving on to swipe his face as well.

"You certainly enjoyed your breakfast, didn't you?" she teases, tapping Jake's nose. "Okay, go get your shoes and your coat. How're you doing, Lil?"

Lily gulps down the last of her juice, setting the empty glass down with a dull thud. "Two more bites, an' then I'm ready."

Exchanging a smile with her husband as he starts to grab the discarded plates, Kate nods. "Good girl. Daddy and I'll finish up and then we can get you guys to school."

Her daughter's head shoots up. "You're coming too?" Delight spreads across her face. "Really? I thought you hadta go to work!"

Kate brushes her fingers over the girl's cheek. "I am. I really wanted to take you to school today. Is that okay?"

Lily nods eagerly. "Uh huh. That's so okay, Mommy. The okayest!"

Smothering a chuckle at the made-up word, Kate nods. "Perfect. And now that we're all done, it looks like we can get ready to go."

The first time they'd been here, when she'd first realized she was pregnant with Lily, he'd sat beside her holding tight to her hand, keeping them both grounded as all the possibilities for how badly it could go given everything that had happened to them in the previous months had raced through their heads.

The first appointment when she was pregnant with the boys, he'd been a bundle of energy moving from spot to spot in the room and examining all the posters and models. His excitement had made him bubbly and eager, and that, combined with their shared experiences had kept them both relaxed.

Now they're back here again. Sitting shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh in the chairs beside the exam table. This time, Rick is surprisingly still, but there's no tension in his body. He just seems content to be here with her, the way she's content with him.

"I'm surprised you're not making laps," she teases, bumping her knee against his. "Catching up on your reading."

He chuckles, catching her hand and lacing their fingers. "Eh, I read everything the last time we were here."

"I don't know, babe. Something has to have changed since we were here last."

"Mmm, yeah, probably." He squeezes her hand. "But I think we can read all of it together on the million and one pamphlets she'll give us in a few minutes."

Kate hums, resting her chin on his shoulder. "Yeah, probably. Maybe I'll just let you read it and give me the highlights."

She grins at his laughter, rubbing a hand over his bicep. "You nervous, Castle?"

She tries to keep the question light, but there's no question that her nerves are getting the better of her the longer they wait. She's already done her own reading, already started to fortify her heart for whatever might lie ahead for them.

"No," he says without a second of hesitation. "I'm not."

"Really?" Kate lifts her head, searching his eyes. All she sees in them is warmth, love, and the sparkle of excitement they've had since the moment she told him.

"Really." He kisses her forehead, her nose, then after a moment to see if the exam room door is going to open, her lips.

Which, of course, is when the doctor chooses to make her appearance.

"Kate, Rick, good to see you both. It's been a while since you've been in here for more than a yearly checkup," Dr. Kindregan says easily as they jump apart like a couple of teenagers getting caught in the back of the car. "And your last one wasn't that long ago."

They laugh. Kate pushes her hair behind her ear, licking her lips.

"Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are," Kate says, dropping her hand onto her husband's leg. "This one will say the universe had other plans, though."

Castle puffs up a little bit at that, making both women smile.

Dr. Kindregan glances down at the file in her hand. "Well, I would say the universe wants good things for you. Urine and blood tests both confirm what your home test said. You're pregnant."

Some of the tension in her chest releases. It's real, then. Not a mistake or a false positive.

"Hop up on the table, Kate, and we'll get the two of you a look at your new little one."

Releasing Rick's hand just long enough to climb onto the paper mat and get settled, she tries not to hold her breath as Dr. Kindregan gets everything set up and ready for her.

"Your tests are fantastic, Kate. You're in great shape; BP's good, weight is good, all other blood work is good, too. We will keep a bit closer of an eye on you because of your age and medical history, so expect more check-ups than you had with your first three, but I'm going to prescribe the usual prenatal vitamins and have you keep track of how you're feeling."

Kate nods. She can do that.

"Now, how are you feeling? Any spotting? Nausea? Anything you find concerning?" the doctor asks, glancing between Kate and Rick to see their responses.

"Good. I'm feeling good. Tired, but you try running after three kids and managing a precinct. A little bit of nausea; food started tasting weird the other day, and Jake showed me his chewed scrambled eggs this morning and I thought I was going to hurl, but other than that… I'm good."

Rick nods in agreement, scooting closer. Her fingers wiggle in invitation, inviting him to take her hand again. "She is. She's a superhero. And I don't blame her for the egg thing; that was gross. I wanted to throw up a little bit, too."

The doctor laughs. "That's to be expected. I'll send you home with a prescription for anti-nausea meds you can have filled if you want to."

"Thank you. It hasn't been terrible so far, but it wouldn't hurt to have something for when it flares up. It helped when I was pregnant with the other kids, too."

Dr. Kindregan nods. "Exactly. The twins are three now?"

"Yes. Finally out of diapers, dressing themselves - for the most part - and coming into their little personalities."

Dr. Kindregan nods, smiling. "Such a good age. And Lily's almost six, right?"

"Right," Kate confirms. "She's great. So smart and independent. The other night she cried because she didn't want Christmas to be over."

Rick squeezes her hand. "It's hard to believe. Feels like it was just yesterday that we were here for her."

"I'll bet. You'll have to tell me more about them in a little bit. But right now..." Dr. Kindregan reaches over and turns on the monitor, giving them their first look at something that never fails to take Kate's breath away. "Meet your baby."

Castle's mouth lands against her knuckles, but she knows his eyes are glued to the screen just as hers are.

"I'll get you some screenshots for you to put on the fridge and give everyone when you tell them. Everything looks good, Kate. And," she pauses to flip a switch and fill the room with quick, rhythmic swishes. "There's the heartbeat. Development is good, measurements look good - and consistent for nine weeks. I'd estimate an August 8-10 due date for you. We can split the difference and say August 9th if you want."

"August 9th," Rick muses, turning to meet her eyes.

She nods, hiding a wet laugh behind her hand. "My birthday, or close to it."

He laughs, leaning forward to kiss her, his lips soft and pliant, a little wet with the salt of tears (though whether they're hers or his is a mystery). "Happy Birthday to you."

Kate sniffs. "Way to play the long game on getting me a gift, Rick."

He grins. "I love you."

"I love you, too," Kate exhales, patting his cheek and turning back to the monitor. "Hi there, baby," she murmurs, swallowing hard. "Hi."

Rick's greeting is breathless, quiet against her hand.

"You were right, Castle," she says a moment later, watching as Dr. Kindregan makes a couple of notes. She still has questions to ask, but she can wait for a little while and let herself enjoy this. "You were right."

"About what?" he croaks. "I mean," he clears his throat, trying to get a handle on himself, "I always am, of course, but what was I right about this time?"

She squeezes his hand, pressing her thumb to his lips. "You definitely still had some Christmas magic up your sleeve."

And that, everyone, is a wrap for this little fic. I hope you've enjoyed it and that it has helped to make some of the cold, short days a little better.

Thank you for reading.