Twins will not always do everything together.
This time, when Teja quietly slips into the homestead of his people, all but Gotho are making ready to leave, even though it is evening, to ride over to the farm of one Agilulf and one Martialis Romanus -- Teja remembers them, oh indeed he does! -- for a feast, but worrying about one of the twins, who is crying without pause, as she is teething. The other one, little Myrtia, already has two teeth; Valeria only has one tiny tip breaking through, and is crying in pain, even though Liuta gave her soft wood to chew on, and has a tincture to rub on the gums.
Teja, who cannot go with them, as there will be many who would know him by sight, offers to watch the crying child so she will not mar the feast; in the end, Gotho leaves but little Hilde stays with him, as one must at least pretend to be watching the teething baby.
Teja sings to them. Hilde, who would much rather stay with the king than go to a boring grown-up feast, snuggles beside them on the bed-bench, and soon falls asleep to the long, repetitive ballad of battles and hero-names.
Little Valeria yowls out her discontent for a long while, throwing her chewing wood, turning and flailing, showing the dead king just how much strength there can be in the tiny body of an eight-months-old child that wishes for something, or wishes for something to stop.
Finally, she quietens down, from the singing and the gentle rocking that goes with it, and chews her piece of wood, looking up at Teja with large fascinated eyes, the hard little skull with the soft bit of fluff sinking against his cheek.
But he is not allowed to stop, as then, she would start up again.
It is many hours, well into the night, until the homesteaders return, and Teja is singing the many, many stanzas of what would turn into the Lay of Hildebrand.
While he sings, all the words flowing freely from his memory, he muses how very odd this is, considering who he was and who he is elsewhere: - how should those that followed him into death have taken him in earnest, how will those he must keep the peace among still feel awe of him, if they saw him like this, singing to a sweet, now-happy and smiling baby, softly rocking her in his arm. And he feels he must be smiling, gently, his grim heart soothed by the trusting little person on his lap.
All grimness would be lost at that sight.
When his friends return, he stands; he hands the baby back to Gotho, will hear nothing of apologies, and promises to come again another day.
He wanders back up the barrow-hill and through his tomb into Milliways, still pondering.-