Summary: “You go.” Dreaded words, Juliet knew that, but Adam simply had to admit that this night’s duty had lain heavily on her shoulders and to understand it was his turn to pacify their unhappy child.
Word Count: 1000
The wail woke them both. Not that either of them had been sound asleep anyway. No one dared to sleep deeply when there was a three-months-old around who had decided that nights weren’t for sleep, and that being awake was more satisfying when someone provided him with food or entertainment.
Food had been served several times that night already, most recently about twenty minutes ago; so both providers knew little Henry thought it was now time for entertainment.
Which would not be given.
Certainly not, Juliet had proclaimed. Henry, or Attila the Hun, as his father had addressed him half an hour earlier, had to learn that entertainment occurred only in the daytime, while at night respectable people, three months old wailers included, slept.
Of course, Henry’s assessment of the situation differed distinctively from his parents’. And so he wailed.
Dreaded words, Juliet knew that, but Adam simply had to admit that this night’s duty had lain heavily on her shoulders, as did most night duties that included feeding their seemingly insatiable offspring. Now that it was obvious that no more food was wanted, Little Attila’s father had to understand it was his turn to pacify their unhappy child. To Juliet’s eternal relief, Adam heaved himself out of the bed without an argument (he couldn’t refrain from sighing dramatically, though) and crossed the room to where the crib and a comfortable chair were placed close to the fireplace.
“No fuss, Adam, remember: no fuss. He has to learn nights are boring, and that there won’t be any activities,” she reminded him.
“I know,” Adam said, and she heard him roll his eyes. “We talked about that. I’m not completely lacking in common sense.”
Thanks to some merciful deity, Juliet’s mumbled reply was muffled even more by the pillow in which she had buried her face or surely Adam would have taken up the gauntlet only too eagerly. Both their nerves were lying bare lately; they snapped at the tiniest disturbance. And as much as Juliet appreciated a good row under normal circumstances, at this moment she preferred sleep. Sleep had become the one imperative in her life, and she was prepared to take it whenever she could get it. Like now.
Soon all she heard was Adam’s cooing. No more wails, no more commotion, just Adam’s dark baritone mumbling unintelligible words. It soothed her as much as it soothed their son, and she felt herself drifting towards Morpheus’s arms. Half asleep, she pulled her blanket even higher, snuggling into its warmth. As she was on the verge of dozing off already, she realised that the warm blanket was not quite the kind of comfort she was seeking, and so she turned to the other bedside to reach out for her husband.
Who wasn’t there.
Which meant that he still was at his son’s crib, most probably fussing.
Instantly Juliet was wide awake. I’m not completely lacking in common sense, she heard Adam’s earlier words in her mind. Well, this time she would prove him wrong. This time she would take no prisoners.
She moved silently. The blanket fell from her body without a sound, and even the bedsprings cooperated. She turned around to the fireplace, and there she found the evidence.
Henry, of course, was nowhere near his crib. Instead, he sat astride his father’s right foot. Adam had seated himself in the comfy chair, his right leg crossed over the left, and held Henry’s hands in his, keeping him from falling off. He moved his foot up and down in a slow rhythmic motion, rocking Henry as if the baby was riding a horse.
All Juliet could do was stare. Henry looked completely happy, as did his father. Their eyes were locked and they both were grinning like madmen: Henry toothless and wet, Adam broad and dimpled. Their grins had spread to their eyes, making them dance with joy.
It was a picture to behold, and not for the first time Juliet wished that her drawing skills at least remotely matched her husband’s. She would have loved to keep this scene in a sketch.
She slid silently behind Adam’s chair, snuggled her arms around his broad chest and nuzzled her face into where his neck melted into his shoulder.
Adam acknowledged her with a soft nudge of his head and a short stop in the motion his foot as it had reached its highest point, so Henry and Juliet could have a good look at each other. As his mother’s face came into Henry’s line of sight, his grin grew even wider, as impossible as it seemed.
Then Adam resumed the previous pace. “He’s a natural born rider,” he said; and Juliet smiled at his fatherly pride. He meant it. “He’ll be the best horse breaker here one day.”
Juliet kissed that spot below Adam’s ear, then straightened herself. “Yes, he truly is his father’s son,” she chuckled, running her fingers through Adam’s sleep-dishevelled hair. “I’ll make tea.”
The procedure of tea-making in the quiet, dimly-lit kitchen soothed her even more than the scene in the room upstairs, and while she handled kettle, teapot, water, and tealeaves, she marvelled about her two men, about the bliss and the beauty that had been lavished upon her life, and she knew with certainty that she was the richest person on earth. She finished her tea ceremony with bleary eyes, added biscuits to the tea utensils on the tray, and carried the midnight picnic upstairs.
By the time she and Adam were on their second cup of Darjeeling, Henry had fallen asleep curled into a round warm bundle on Adam’s lap; and they sat quietly side by side, wrapped in a blanket, her head on his shoulder, his arm around her waist. A family.
Sleep, Juliet thought fleetingly, was overrated.
We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. ~ John Wooden
A/N: With many thank to Sklamb for the beta-read!