Born in the Glade

Epilogue

The first thing Emily noticed was the smell. It was one she recognized – like the scented oils she used to surround herself with, but amplified a hundred times. She was lying in a field of wildflowers. When she cracked her eyes open, the world looked very similar to the one she'd left. There was grass and sky and, of course, all the boys she knew and loved. But all the colors seemed richer, more saturated, more… real. The air smelled fresher and was laced with a sense of unpredictability, of wildness, of freedom.

When Minho saw her eyes open, he jogged over, holding a small bundle. "Good morning, beautiful," he sang. His voice, his smile, his eyes, they all seemed to glow and shimmer in the absolute perfection of that moment. She had to reach out and stroke his cheek to make sure he was real.

"Is this heaven?" she asked, sure that the man leaning over her was some sort of angel.

He laughed, and it was musical and magical. "No. But I can see why you'd think that."

"Minho, what happened?" she questioned, confused and trying to take it all in. A wave of sadness crossed over his features.

"I almost lost you. We defeated the grievers, and I ran to you. In time to witness the birth of our daughter," he said, the grin returning. "But she came out a little too quickly. You lost a lot of blood."

"Where are we?" Emily asked, running her hand through his hair, around his ears; she couldn't touch him enough.

"Paradise," he revealed, waggling his eyebrows. She smacked him lightly on the arm and waited for him to explain further. "The grievers were guarding a portal. When we stepped through, it took us here," he said, gesturing to the magnificent landscape surrounding them. "There was a note from the Creators explaining that the Maze was a test. There was a parallel test being run at another location, with mostly girls." Emily looked around and noticed that their group had doubled in size… and gender. She smiled as her eyes fell on Newt and Thomas cuddling under a large oak tree. "They said if we survived, found our way out, then they'd have what they needed," he continued. Emily looked at him skeptically and he shrugged. "This was our reward – to live out the rest of our lives in peace," he said.

The little bundle in Minho's arms began to wriggle and mew, drawing Emily's eye. Suddenly her mind was flooded with memories from their last few hours in the Maze – the fear, the pain, the loss. "Is that…" she cut herself off, unsure what she'd do with the answer.

"Our daughter," he finished for her. "Would you like to hold her?" he asked, and a look of sheer terror entered Emily's eyes. "It's okay, Em. We're safe. The portal is destroyed and no one will touch us." Yes, Emily was afraid for their daughter; but more than that, she was afraid of her. Every insecurity she'd ever had about being a mother caused her to shrink further into the warm earth, away from the small child that she had no idea how to care for now that it was outside her body. Minho snuggled closer, which immediately calmed her. "We can be a family now," he said gently, pushing back the blanket slightly to reveal the delicate features of their child's face.

Emily gasped and quickly snatched the girl from Minho's arms. He laughed, and gladly replaced the contents of his arms with his beloved, enveloping her in his strong embrace. "She looks just like her daddy," Emily whispered reverently, lightly tracing her fingertips over every detail of her daughter's innocent, angelic face.

"She still needs a name," Minho sighed, content to finally be holding both of his girls in his arms.

Emily leaned into his chest and he nuzzled his face in her fine, golden locks. She looked around at all the bustling spring of life that surrounded them. Because of their daughter, Minho had found a way out of the Maze. Because of their daughter, Emily had a new family to replace the one that she was forced to forget. Because of their daughter, they had all discovered an inner strength that led them to a life worth leading. Their daughter had given them…

"Hope."

"Hope," Minho agreed, grabbing her tiny hand between his two fingers. Emily twisted so that she could see his face, and her heart fluttered and soared at the awed devotion she saw there. She pulled him close and covered his mouth with hers; his lips parted in welcome. "Careful, now," he warned when she pulled away. "That's how we got here in the first place," he finished with a wink.

She stared deeply into his mischievous chocolate eyes, then down at her darling Hope as she slept – safe and at peace. "Then we must have done something right," she countered, claiming his lips once again.

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