Turtle dipped a cloth in the bowl of water and wiped the sweat from Lacewing's forehead. It was the middle of the hot season, and she was in labor. She smiled at him, thankful he was there at her left hand. She extended the smile to Strand, who knelt at her right. It was the hot season, and it was time. Soon, the three of them would hold their little one and introduce him to the rest of the tribe.
She felt the next contraction starting and closed her eyes. She began sending to her cub, and she felt him reach out with his mind to touch hers. The tender moment was made even moreso when Turtle and Strand joined her. There was no pain in the process, only the joy of knowing their third son would soon be born. At the end of the contraction, Lacewing gasped as she felt him move even lower in the birth canal.
"It's time," she whispered , her eyes glowing with excitement. She had done this before, and she knew that in moments, the birthing process would be over. Recalling Turtle’s deafness, she sent to him, sharing what she had just spoken. He smiled and moved closer.
Dove moved closer, prepared to assist in catching the little one if necessary, but Turtle and Strand had both witnessed births before, and they knew what they were doing. When Lacewing closed her eyes and began sending, each one moved into position, ready to catch the baby. They watched in awe as Lacewing's folds spread to make way for a tiny head. They sent encouragement as she bore down. Turtle reached out to guide the head, and Strand reached out to support the tiny body.
The baby's wailing caused all four elves to let go of the breath they hadn't realized they were holding. Tears streamed as Lacewing reached to take hold of her son. Her lifemates moved to their respective sides, putting arms around her and reaching to one another, the tiny family in an embrace. The babe, still wet with the effects of birth, squirmed a little and moved to suckle at Lacewing’s breast. She sighed and smiled, content and happy.
Dove took a small blanket and placed it over the baby and his mother, then sent, **I’ll be right outside,**and stepped quietly out of the den.
Turtle and Strand exchanged glances, both eager to get another glimpse of the child. Lacewing was aware of their eagerness, and she sensed that her little one had fallen asleep. She carefully pulled the blanket down from her chest, exposing the tiny baby. Something about his appearance gave her pause, and a quizzical look passed over her face.
“What is it?” Strand asked, at the same time sending the question so Turtle would know what he said.
**I’m not sure,** she responded. **Hand me the cloth.**
Turtle took the damp cloth his lifemate had referred to and handed it to her. Carefully, she began wiping the birth stains away from the newborn’s head. As she did, the furrow in her brows deepened.
**His hair — it’s white as snow!** she exclaimed. ‘Maybe we’ll name him Snow,’ she thought privately. White hair was the last thing any of them had expected.
Strand took the cloth from Lacewing, dipped it into the bowl, then took over the process of cleaning their baby. Moments later, the babe stirred, and the child’s eyes—a transluscent blue with a hint of pink shining through—opened, locking on Lacewing’s. The furrow in her brow relaxed, and a radiant, loving smile, came over her. **He’s perfect.** she whispered. Her lifemates nodded in agreement.
Birdcatcher and Glint sat near the entrance to the den, waiting to be called in to greet their new little brother. Both were excited, and bets were on between them as to who the babe would look like. Sometime during their mother’s pregnancy, they had secretly taken to calling the unborn babe “Newt,” and now they were anxious to see “the little lizard.” Dove had stepped out a long time before — or so it seemed — and let them know that the child had arrived.
Glint had set to carving as a means to pass the time, but he was almost done with the impromptu project — a wooden newt — a toy for his baby brother. When he finished, Birdcatcher took the toy from him, stating, “It’s been long enough. Let’s go in!”
Glint’s green eyes sparkled in merriment at his brother’s impatience. His response was cut off by the sound of their mother’s voice calling them in.
Glint grabbed the toy back from Birdcatcher and the two shoved into the den at the same time. Birdcatcher moved to stand near Strand, and Glint went to Turtle’s side. They peered into the tiny face of their little brother.
“White hair?” the brothers asked in unison. Glint sent the question to his father.
“He’s special,” their parents agreed.
Birdcatcher laughed a little, then looked at Glint. **Well, brother, little Newt doesn’t look anything like you! Guess I won the bet!** he sent openly.
Lacewing looked up. **You named your brother Newt?** she asked both her sons.
Their eyes sparkled. **Yes,** they admitted.
**How long have you been calling him that?**
**Well,** Glint began.
**You see,** Birdcatcher added.
Strand chimed in, **They’ve been calling him that for about a turn now — even before they knew it was a boy.**
The brothers gaped.
Turtle added, **Don’t look like that. You don’t think your fathers are completely unaware, do you?** They shook their heads, looking down. Turtle added, **I might not be able to hear any more, but I know what’s going on around me!**
Glint met his mother’s eyes. **You don’t mind, do you?**
**Of course not, it’s just, I was going to name him Snow… but now, I think ‘Newt’ fits him better somehow.**
**That it does,** Turtle agreed.
Strand nodded, and it was decided.