When Darim was born he didn’t scream at first and Altair has never felt more terrified in his entire life than in that moment, watching his son being laid on his mother’s belly, all blue and greasy covered in vermix and blood not moving at all.
He had stood in a far corner, watching the midwives doing their work and one had come up to Maria’s side, her hand moving across the infants face her finger dipping into the boy’s mouth cleaning him and then, finally, he wiggled his little hand and started crying – and god, did he cry. It was the moment Altair realized, completely realized that he had a son. A son. That little boy lying on his wife’s stomach crying as loud as he could was a sight which overwhelmed him and he slowly slid down the wall and crouched down, elbows resting on his knees, hands folded over his head and taking deep calming breaths.
He had a son, a little life he needed to take care of now, his own flesh and blood, something he and Maria created. How to describe such a feeling? The tips of his fingers tingled and it felt like as if he was falling fast but the impact never came, the rush of pure joy never stopped and Altair was high. He was falling in love, fast. The second he saw his boy he knew he would never stop loving him, could never stop loving him whatever he might do or not might do. This was his son, his own, his boy and dear god, he would protect him with his life, with everything he got and more.
“Grandmaster”, a voice called him, thin and worn out as the midwife was just as tired as Maria was. His son apparently hasn’t been very eager to see the light of the world and took his time – her water broke somewhere around the early evening’s hours and it was now early in the morning. As he looked up his eyes fell on his wife’s face at first and as he had assumed her eyes were closed, her breaths even and deep, the afterbirth already taken care of the umbilical chord cut through by one of the women. It wasn’t very common for a man to be there when a child was born – in fact it was quite the opposite but he had insisted staying with her, being by her side and to not miss a moment. He’d held her hand, he’d let her curse him, screaming at him just everything for her to find the strength to bring their son to this world. Maria had earned her sleep and he wouldn’t do anything to wake her up now.
“Your son – do you want to hold him?”, the midwife spoke again and he turned his head, his eyes meeting hers before they dipped down looking at the tiny bundle in her arms. His son cries had stopped eventually, turning into small mewls. Altair pushed himself off the wall and stood up, his legs numb and arms trembling.
“I’m sure it’s been a while since the last time you hold a newborn so let me show you”, the woman said, sparing him the moment of embarrassment to ask her how to hold his own son. “Like this”, she said and he watched how she held her arms, the infant’s head resting in the crook of her elbow holding him close to her body and she gently placed him into his arms.
Altair had to correct himself then – holding his newborn son in his arms for the first time was the most terrifying feeling he ever experienced. What if he dropped him? What if he held him too tight? What if he hurt him by accident? Was this woman mad for entrusting him with his son? She clearly must be out of her mind for letting him hold the boy.
“There”, she smiled at him not noticing the look on his face or choosing to just ignore it. She tugged a little at the blanket which was wrapped around the baby’s body, pulling it tighter around his shoulders before stepping back. She looked back up at Altair again, the smile still on her face but her eyes grew stern. “I know you insisted on staying Grandmaster but I have to ask you to leave for a few minutes at least. Your wife is torn and we have to stitch her. I’m sure you understand”, she nodded and bowed her head a little in a manner of showing respect.
He resisted the urge to scrunch up his nose in mild disgust at he picture painting inside his head. “No of course”, he murmured quickly, the weight in his arms almost forgotten as the midwife gently ushered him outside and before he could say something more or do anything at all the door closed behind him and he was standing outside in the barely lit hall, the moon’s light falling in silver waves through the high windows.
His son was squirming in his arms, one tine arm wriggling its way out of the blanket, a tiny fist making it through the surface. Altair looked down on him fighting down the panic. There was nobody but him in the hall. No guards, no brothers, no midwives, no Maria, no one. Just him and his son.
A soft smile tugged at the corners of Altair’s mouth pulling his lips upwards as he watched the boy blinking up at him, yawning and scrunching his nose.
“Well hello there”, he murmured softly and he stroke his finger across the infant’s naked arm up to his wrist. His fingers closed immediately around the digit, his grip strong and oh so tiny. The midwife had cleaned his face as good as she could do in such a short time but his hair was still wet [Altair would have never thought for a newborn to have so much hair] and tousled, his skin red and wrinkled and he just looked like as if he had the most miserable time of his life – he’d never witnessed something as beautiful as him even though he looked rather gross at the moment. He didn’t mind. He would never mind. He already loved this small creature more than anything else in his life.
Altair took small steps closer to the windows and into the moon’s light while he never took his eyes off his son’s face. It was quite in the fortress just as the night was and his son was looking around with big blue eyes and hair just as black as the sky outside the windows.
He couldn’t stop smiling and if somebody would threaten him to end his life if he didn’t stop Altair couldn’t. He just couldn’t. There had been a few moments in his life where he thought he would never forget them. Like the time he lost his finger or the moment when Al-Mualim stabbed his heart – but nothing could compare to this and he wanted to burn the picture forever into his memories.
“Welcome to the world little one”, he hummed in a soft voice and it sounded hoarse as if he hasn’t spoken in hours and it was only then that he noticed that he was crying. Maybe crying was a too strong a word as one single tear rolled down his cheek and fell down loosing itself into the infant’s blankets. He sniffled and his son sighed. He was only a few minutes old and the little weight in his arms felt already familiar and right. He belonged there, he belonged to Altair; his son, his first born.
“Darim”, he said and it was the first time he spoke the name out loud since he had settled for one. It was his right as a father to name his first born and as Maria wasn’t a woman who liked to be left out, who was strong and independent she had agreed to let him choose the name and when the letters rolled off his tongue it felt right and good, the name fitting the boy. Calling his son by his name only made it more real and Altair shifted a bit, holding Darim higher to his chest and cradling him in his arms.
Seconds turned into minutes and time moved on but for Altair it stood still, his eyes never leaving Darim as he hummed a small melody softly not knowing what song it was only that he liked it while he moved his arms ever so slightly from one side to the other his son obviously enjoying it. He didn’t notice how much time actually passed and as the dark sky turned into a soft blue and purple he didn’t pay it any attention while a new day was born.
The door opened behind him again, the midwife’s head appearing and turning her eyes on him.
“We’re done here”, she said softly and stepped outside, taking the baby from Altair’s arms. “It’s time for him now to meet his mother properly”, she said in a hushed voice as Darim was squirming and pulling his face into a mask of protest – he clearly didn’t want to be held by her. “As it is time for you to announce your son’s arrival”, she nodded at him a small smile flashing across her old wrinkled face when she told him what do and he was thankful for that as right now his whole world was turned upside down with pure amazement about his little wonder.
Altair nodded, his eyes set on his son and he reached for his hand again, his finger once more stroking across his palm and again, his fingers closed around the digit. He leaned forwards then, not minding the midwife and acting as if she wasn’t even there at all as he kissed the boy’s knuckles, his rough skin brushing against his soft one.
“Safety and peace Darim”, he said softly and he pulled back, the midwife taking his boy with her and walking back into the small room.
He stared after her for a few more moments even as the door was already closed again.
“I know your presence delivers me both”, Altair whispered and turned around heading towards his second-in-command to deliver the news.