He held her for some sweet minutes.
She didn’t smell or feel any different, but it was only a matter of weeks before their child started to make an imprint on her body.
“I’m sorry I made you cry,” he mumbled against her hair.
Artemis snuggled closer. They were surrounded by destruction. The living room looked like a war zone. But she didn’t care. They could fix the broken objects in a matter of hours but it would’ve taken years to fix the broken woman Raiden would’ve left behind if he had rejected her.
“Go take a seat,” he requested. “Sol and I will clean this place up.”
“Actually, I didn’t volunteer to—”
Raiden gave Sol a glare that had him defeatedly stomping into the kitchen in search of coffee.
Artemis chuckled. “You’ve gotten plenty of practice at being a dad by dealing with Sol for so long,” she whispered.
Raiden grinned and ignored the nervous roll of his stomach when memories of Josh rolled in. He was incredibly awkward with children, so he didn’t even want to begin to think about what it would be like to handle a baby.
Sol groggily strolled back to their side. “Where’s the broom?”
Artemis pulled away from Raiden. “I’ll get it.”
Raiden locked onto her wrist and shook his head disapprovingly. “No. Go rest,” he ordered.
He hated asserting dominance to get his way, but he didn’t want to strain her any more than what he already had.
Artemis laughed. “It’s just cleaning. I’ll be fine.”
He shook his head. Just cleaning could result in a slip and an injury. He wasn’t risking it.
Artemis sighed at his protective nature before conceding and settling down on the nearest chair.
With a smile, she watched daddy Raiden and Uncle Sol clean up the living room.
“This is the most astonishing pregnancy I’ve ever seen.” Doctor Greene pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he continued to assess the scientific miracle.
“By definition, you’re only three months along but the babies are five months into development.”
Raiden stared at the screen presenting his children. He wasn’t surprised by the news that the doctor delivered. Artemis’ pregnancy was nothing near normal since she was carrying hybrid babies.
He looked at the soon-to-be-mother and found her smiling warmly at the product of their love. She was excited about the pregnancy; completely unaware of the terror that kept Raiden hostage at night.
The thought of sharing a roof with two epitomes of innocence nearly made his knees knock together. Sheer fear claimed his senses whenever he looked at Artemis’ protruding stomach. He knew that once the babies were out of the safety of their mother, they would be at risk of the instability of their father.
With everything in him, Raiden feared hurting the delicate breaths of life.
Artemis smiled his way before she focused on the twins again. Like a mindless fool, he immediately smiled back. He couldn’t help it. Artemis was the spark he had been missing for so many centuries.
“But,” the Doctor perked.
Both parents tensed.
“I’m a bit worried about this twin.” He pointed to the screen. “She is incredibly small, much smaller than her sister.”
Artemis’ smile became contaminated with horror but Raiden didn’t blink. The babies would be born healthy. If he had to threaten Luna or sell his soul to Hades to get the job done, he’d do it. He would fight both himself and the world until his limbs stopped working in order to keep his family safe.
Slowly, he bent down and pressed his lips against her forehead reassuringly. He then nuzzled his nose against the side of her massive bump- their massive bump.
Sparks buzzed at their point of contact. One of the twins must’ve felt them because they shifted their position.
Artemis laughed and stroked his thick black curls.
“It’ll be okay. We just have to have hope,” he told her.
Artemis grinned. “Hope. That’s what we’ll name her, Hope,” she decided as she stared at the smallest twin.
(A/N> For those of you reading The Tale of Pride, her name was originally Faith but I changed it to Hope.)“They’re having a party in me tonight,” Artemis chuckled.
Raiden stared at her trembling belly with a grin. The twins were indeed partying it up in there.
He sat up and slapped his thigh, urging her to sit on his lap. “Come on, mama.”
Artemis raised an eyebrow. “If you think my back is going to let me sit up, you’re out of your mind, papa.”
Raiden pulled his T-shirt off. “How about now?” he asked with a sheepish grin and skimmed a hand down his abs.
Artemis groaned. “Tempting. I would love to ride you right now but the girls are giving me more than enough bounce already.”
At their mention, one of the babies kicked particularly hard. Artemis clutched her stomach. “Let me sleep,” she begged at the were-lycan hybrids.
He grinned. His life wasn’t perfect. It still had cracks that his crippling insecurities and the distrust of pack members occasionally tore open. But he now had a family and friends. He was winning over pack members, slowly but surely.
His journey wasn’t over yet, but he’ll keep improving himself for the three women in his life.
“We’ve made it so far. Keep walking. I’ll be right beside you.”
He will never stop again.
He laid back down and shifted so that his face was leveled with Artemis’ stomach. He threw an arm over her thighs and kissed her trembling bulge.
“Let me tell them a story. Maybe it’ll help them settle down,” Raiden mused.
“Hmm...” he mumbled, thinking of which story he should tell.
There was some silence before his soothing voice began to rumble.
“In the ancient times, all the world had was the elements and the children of the earth: Animals and humans. There were no creatures of the moon. Yet.”
The shifting in Artemis’ stomach stopped.
“All of these creatures had a story. And as unique as they all were, one of them was so special it changed history.”
“What’s the name of this story?” Artemis interrupted.
Raiden thought over the question for a few moments.
He then answered with, “The Legend of Wrath.”
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