One day, Gruadh looks for Macbeth and finds him in the room where they keep falcons. She wants to know about his former wife, who he explains died in childbirth. Gruadh also asks him to send men to Fife to ask for her cousins Mairi and Bethoc to come help with her birth. She explains that she only trusts her own kin to deliver her child.
Gruadh wants to protect her child both because she already loves him, but also because her child is the last of her family line and as such is incredibly valuable. After so many attempts on her life and the lives of her family members, she is rightfully protective.
Macbeth is offended by the implication that he would sabotage the birth. Gruadh clarifies that she is more worried about King Malcolm. As they leave, Macbeth offers Gruadh his hand, but she does not take it.
Although Gruadh still suspects Macbeth killed Gilcomgan with King Malcolm, she has begun to trust Macbeth, having seen that he is repentant.
Three days later, Gruadh’s contractions wake her. She gets up to pace the fortress. She runs into Banchorrie, whose wife has had seven children, and so is familiar with childbirth. He offers to serve as her birthing chair. She also runs into Macbeth, who expresses concern. He wants to send for a local midwife, but Gruadh refuses his help.
Gruadh is stubborn and stands by her promise to only have her friends and family help her deliver her child. Sometimes her stubbornness helps protect her, but in this situation it puts her life, and her child’s life, in danger.
Over the next day and night, Gruadh labors but cannot deliver her baby. Maeve and Aella help her as best they can. Maeve invokes the goddess Brigid but it does not help, and Gruadh goes through a second day of unfruitful contractions. Maeve unties all the knots in the room and unbraids Gruadh’s hair to try and coax the baby out. She also performs various rituals to discourage fairies who might steal the child.
Unable to use her medical skills to deliver the baby, Maeve invokes Celtic religion and protection. Brigid, whose symbol is the triskele, is Gruadh’s protective goddess, but is unable to help. In this situation, superstition is a last-ditch effort to save Gruadh and her baby.
Although Gruadh stubbornly waits for her cousins Bethoc and Mairi, Macbeth eventually goes for a midwife himself. She arrives hours later and introduces herself as Catriona. Like Maeve and Aella, Catriona also prays to the goddess Brigid and performs rituals, but unlike those two women she is an experienced midwife and is able to turn the child, who was facing the wrong direction in the womb. With Maeve and Aella’s help, Catriona and Gruadh finally deliver a healthy baby boy. Relieved, Gruadh returns to bed. Macbeth visits his wife and stepson, and for the first time Gruadh sees him smile and warms to him.
Although Gruadh is not pregnant with his child, Macbeth sees her baby as his responsibility. He also cares about the wellbeing of his wife and does not want her to suffer and possibly die. Catriona uses Celtic magic and superstition to help speed the birth, but most importantly she has the medical expertise to safely deliver the child. Flooded with endorphins, and grateful that he helped save her life, Gruadh softens towards Macbeth even more.
Macbeth jokes that the baby looks just like Gruadh, and luckily looks nothing like Gilcomgan. Gruadh agrees that the baby is like a “small, perfect, fragile” mirror of herself.
Gruadh’s son is her only direct heir, and so both physically and in his obligations to his family, he is a perfect copy of his mother.