I felt nervous, with all the eyes on me. I almost wanted to throw up but that would be worse. Much worse. But then I looked up and met Hal’s eyes, and all my fears and sickness disappeared, like waves washing them away.
“The worst is over, dear,” he whispered in my ear, as if knowing what was on my mind.
I squeezed his hand, smiling at him. “And the best is yet to come,” I replied, leaning over to kiss his cheek.
His face flushed and he just grinned, looking as happy as I felt. “I love you,” he said.
I began beaming even more. “I love you too.”
Our wedding reception was almost over, and soon we’d be able to return to our home. The ceremony had been wonderful, as we had had a very tiny ceremony with just my family. But the reception was a bit more nerve-wracking as we had invited more of his friends, and friends of my family. We hadn’t even sent an invitation to his family, as they had kicked him out of the family when he came out. That was why he missed a couple years of school, his family had cut off all money.
But that was in the past. As was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I felt that was a much more suitable title for him than for Voldemort. At least Voldemort didn’t lie about being an evil little–
“Now you look all worried,” Hal whispered, reaching up to touch my nose lightly.
I made a face. “I’m sorry! I guess I’m just anxious to get away from so many people.” I glanced over the crowd and shivered a bit. I was happy they were here, I was very grateful. But it made me nervous. Even on this special day!
“Mama, Mama, Mama!”
Duncan came toddling over, looking very miserable about something. He had started calling me by the feminine parental term pretty much as soon as he could talk. I didn’t want to dissuade him since ‘Daddy Seb’ seemed like a bit much, so I was now the maternal parent while Hal was ‘Dad’. Ah well. As long as the kids were happy, and they could choose to call me ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ when they got older. Though, come to think of it, Dad Seb sounded a bit weird.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, scooping him up. He was three years old, hard to believe.
“No kissy!” he wailed, burying his face in my chest. “Cuzzy Mel’dy kissyed me.” He tapped his cheek, looking very offended.
I rolled my eyes at Hal was was grinning. “I’ll wipe your cheek off,” I said, carrying him to the table and getting a napkin to wipe off the kiss. He seemed pleased by this and was happy to toddle back to the area for the kids, joining his cousins and his sister.
Hard to believe Serenity is already about a year and a half old, I thought. My babies were growing up!
Hal slid his arm around my waist. “You ready to head home?” he asked, half-grinning, half-smirking. I felt myself blushing, knowing what he was referring to.
I was rather looking forward to… this part of our life as well. Though it had been great having a relationship without it, as we both agreed to wait until marriage. It had me worried for a while since I was used to being with someone who focused a lot on the physical aspect of a relationship, but with Hal… it was just so… wonderful just spending time with him that eventually my worries faded away.
I let my parents know that we were going to be leaving since they were taking the kids, then Hal made a bit of an announcement. Everyone came out and threw rice at us (I did get conked in the head by a full bag which I swear Zari threw, though he’d never admit it) then Hal and I got into our car and headed to his house. This was going to be our honeymoon, just a couple days in our house with no kids and no work. Since we were planning on giving the house some renovations and adding another room, as we wanting to add on to the family, this was best.
“So, Mr. Danevbie,” I said when we got there, grinning at him for the millionth time that day.
Hal snickered. “Halbert Danevbie. There’s a name for ya.”
“I could have been Sebastian Conner, you know,” I pointed out.
“I’d rather be attached to a family that approves of our relationship, thank you very much,” he said, kissing my neck and then pulling me towards the bedroom door. I hesitated and he immediately let go. “Are you ok?”
“Yes…” I nervously went into the room, feeling rather strange. Scared of this. It wasn’t as if it’d be my first time, though I felt more scared now than I had on that night. But I loved Hal, more than I ever did Doug. So why was I so scared?
Hal carefully took my hands. “Sweetie, it’s okay, we don’t need to do anything tonight.”
“No–no, it’s just… I’m not…” I glanced up at him, very bewildered. “I want to be with you.”
“I understand,” he said with a nod.
“No you don’t. I don’t,” I said, taking a step back from the bed. How could he possibly understand when I didn’t?
But apparently he did, because he said, “The last time you gave yourself up to someone, he just took and took and abused you.”
He gently turned me around to meet my eyes and I gulped. “But I love you!”
“And I love you, but love has nothing to do with it,” he said, pulling me close. “It’s natural to be scared after that, even though it’s been so long. Once bitten, twice shy.” He stroked my hair and I closed my eyes. “I know you know this is a different situation, with a different person. But there are still going to be hurdles to get over. There always will be. And I will always be here with you, to help you over them.”
I breathed out, leaning against him and putting my arms around him. I was too overcome with emotion to respond. He was right, there would be hurdles. But I had him. I have someone who will actually help me through and take care of me.
Over the few months after our wedding, Hal and I had an additional room added onto the house since we planned on needing more room. He was providing a lot of the money as he worked full-time but I did the occasional article for the newspaper. It wasn’t much, but it helped. Otherwise I spent the time raising Duncan and Serenity.
After six months had passed, we decided it was time to try for our own child. Duncan was three and a half, Serenity was two. It’d be a handful but we both wanted this. Especially me. I loved Duncan and Serenity with all my heart, but I wanted a child with Hal.
Nine months later, we had a daughter. This pregnancy had gone a lot easier than my first girl (of course I wasn’t being physically hurt and I also didn’t get a shocker to put me into labor early) and after much discussion, we named her after our favorite characters from the same show that Serenity was named after. Kaylee Wash.
It was difficult raising three children, all under the age of four! But I was very patient and as before made sure to divide my attention between all three of them. Duncan didn’t like being alone, and Serenity was starting to learn things like talking.
Of course I had that tiny fear in the back of my mind that he would someday return but as the days wore into weeks and the weeks into months, the fear shrank and shrank until it was just a little pinprick that annoyed me at times. Well, sometimes it was a bit more than a pinprick. Especially at night when I was drifting into sleep, I would hear him or even see him. And when I had nightmares… Hal was always patient with me, holding me and whispering in my ear that everything was fine until the fears subsided.
Duncan was seven, Serenity five and a half….
And Kaylee was three. That was when we decided to add on another baby, and this time we got a bit more than what we bargained for.
“Twins!” Vi exclaimed when we brought the babies home. “I can’t believe it, I’m so jealous!”
“What, you want multiples?” I asked with a smile.
“You and Zari both have ’em,” she replied with a pout.
“Oh yes,” Zari grumbled. “You stay up until five in the morning taking care of triplets, and see how you like it!”
“Mom and Dad did it,” Vi replied sweetly.
Zari stuck out his tongue. “Mom and Dad didn’t have another kid already!” He paused then shrugged. “Julie wants to have another, though. She keeps going on about how wonderful it would be to have a big family.”
“It is wonderful,” I said, looking down at my second son and third daughter. “And don’t you complain about four kids, Zari, cause Hal and I now have five!”
Once again Hal and I turned to our favorite show for names, we couldn’t resist. After all we had Serenity and Kaylee. With a boy/girl set of twins we had to name them River Tam and Simon Tam. It was too much to resist. Then we decided that if we ever had more kids, we would choose a different name, not one from the show. Though I was rather hoping to add a Malcolm somewhere in there… Or a Shepherd, though that was a bit of an odd name to give a kid.
Still. You never know.