“Well, you’ve both been busy.”
Malik jumped, startling the baby in his arms. “Morgan?”
She span around happily, trying to take it all in at once. “Are these my new grandbabies?”
Malik placed Altair back in his crib, fighting the urge to reply ‘No, we stole them’. It wasn’t her fault he hadn’t slept much, after all. He turned and smiled at her.
“They are. The one in the green crib is Lyra, the yellow is Leo and this one in the blue is Altair. I’m afraid Leo is sleeping, but I’m sure the others would love to meet you.”
“Can I hold them?”
“I… is that possible?”
“I did with Ella a couple of times” she said. Malik looked at her in confusion. “I thought you two could do with some rest, so I kept her company some nights. Lissi did, too.”
“Thank you. That was really kind of you both.”
“Just because we’re dead doesn’t mean we’re gone” she said, smiling. “Now, this is Lyra, right?”
The baby cooed and waved her arms around happily as Morgan rocked her gently.
“You’re lovely, aren’t you little one?”
Lyra hiccoughed and began to whimper, screwing her face up before breaking into a high pitched wail. Morgan looked down at her in distress. “What’s wrong with her? Did I scare her?”
“She’s probably just hungry. Would you like to feed her?”
Lyra suckled hungrily at the bottle, and Morgan began to relax. Thank goodness she hadn’t been the reason for those tears. The baby yawned and snuggled into her arms before closing her eyes contentedly.
She’d missed this.
“Ellie-baby! You’ve grown so much.”
“Have you seen papa yet? He’s all small again.”
Morgan grinned. “No more babies in his tummy, then?”
“Not yet.” Ellie stepped back, smiling up at the ghostly face. “Maybe next time I’ll be big enough to feed and hug the babies myself!”
“Don’t wish your childhood away, love.”
“I won’t. I just want to be able to help more – they’re always so busy now.”
“Well, if they’re looking after the babies, they won’t have as much time for things like cleaning – maybe you could do that?”
“But that’s not as fun” she said, pouting.
“They’ll appreciate it though. Plus, if the housework is done, it means they can spend all the rest of their time with you!”
Ellie clapped her hands happily. “Really?”
Morgan looked thoughtful for a moment. Of course, they might want to spend a bit of their downtime alone together, but…
“I’m going to start right now!” she said. She ran inside, paused, turned around, ran back and hugged Morgan around the legs. “You’re the best.”
“Ok, so I’m going to tell you my super awesome secret plan, and you aren’t allowed to tell anyone!”
Leo blinked up at her and gurgled.
“I’m going to do all the cleaning and tidying to make papa and dad happy, and then I’m going to bring my art things in here and we can all play together!”
Leo wiggled happily in his crib.
“You’re lucky to have me as a sister, you know. But if they have any more babies, it will be your turn to do the cleaning.”
Lyra giggled from the cot on her left, so she decided to make sure that her baby sister understood, too. “You can do the washing up!”
Lyra sneezed, showing exactly what she thought of that idea.
Ella looked over at Altair, ready to reassure him that he wouldn’t escape the chores either, but he was asleep. She shook her head sadly before turning back to Leo. “You’ll have to pass the schedule onto your brother. Can I count on you?”
She bent over him, and he grabbed her nose. Was that a yes or a no?
Ellie held the bag as far away from her as her arms would allow. Why had she volunteered to do this? The bin was nearly as tall as she was! What if she fell in?
Still, it was kind of nice to have some peace and quiet again. The house had been so noisy recently… She gazed up at the clouds, and against her will her eyes began to close.
She woke up as the sun was setting. Maybe her dads weren’t the only ones who had needed a nap. She sat up and stretched, rubbing her eyes. Hopefully the babies were still ok. She stood, taking comfort in the fact that at least she’d finished cleaning before falling asleep. Maybe they hadn’t noticed she’d gone missing, and they’d think she’d been working all afternoon.
On that cheery note, she went back inside.
“Ellie, what are you doing up so late?”
“Can I stay here for a bit? I don’t have school tomorrow.”
Malik looked into her big round eyes and sighed. He was terrible at saying no.
“Ok, but only for a little while.”
This coffee machine was a lifesaver, Malik thought as the machine beeped happily at him. True, caffeine couldn’t replace sleep entirely, but it was so much better than having nothing at all. He poured himself a mug, thought for a second, and grabbed another.
“Don’t worry, I made you some, too.”
“What did I do to deserve you?” Lor said, smiling as he returned Lyra to her cot. He kissed Malik on the lips as he took the extra mug, before sitting down beside him.
They snuggled close to each other, ignoring Ellie’s looks of disgust from the other side of the room.
The babies were asleep, the room was blissfully calm and the only sound was the soft skritch-scratch of Ellie’s coloured pencils. If only it could be like this more often. Lor buried his face into Malik’s shoulder, pressed a clumsy kiss to his neck and began to snore.
“Are you asleep?”
“Let’s put that mug down, ok?”
“M’fine” Lor said, tightening his grip on his drink.
Malik smiled and gently took it away, putting it on the floor next to his chair. Better safe than sorry when hot liquids were involved. “No, you’re not, love. Maybe we should hire a nanny? You’re always so tired, now.”
Lor sat bolt upright, eyes wide. “No, I can do this” he said, then his eyes softened in worry. “Unless you can’t?”
“Why don’t you just ask Grandma Lissa and Grandma Morgan to help?” Ellie said as she poured macaroni onto her latest drawing. “They’re awake at night.”
Malik and Lor looked at each other, stunned. It was worth a shot.
Ellie shook her head as she reached for the paint. Adults were so dumb sometimes.
“Don’t worry, we heard the whole thing.”
“We were eavesdropping,” Lissa said helpfully as she floated up the stairs.
Lor could have cried with relief. Somehow three babies didn’t seem quite as overwhelming when they were here.
“Go and get some sleep, star boy. We’ll look after the little ones for tonight.”
Lissa hugged him. Morgan followed, whispering something in his ear before she let go. Lissa watched as he turned bright red, stuttered and fled the room. She turned to the other woman, who was wearing one of the most mischievous expressions she’d seen in a while.
“Momo? What did you say?”
“I might have implied that he should get going before the man in his bed fell asleep.” she said, grinning at the scandalised look on her wife’s face. “What? Like he wasn’t thinking it already.”
“You love me though.” Morgan said, nudging her gently with her elbow.
Lissa rolled her eyes and smiled. Of course she did. She always would.