My mother is a very strong woman. I've only seen her cry a few times, and they were all for good reasons. I remember she cried when my little brother was born, and when I graduated high school, and finally when I told her I wanted to see the world. She stands in front of me for the fourth time, ocean tears in her eyes as she looks between me and Daniel, who's hand is tightly clasped around my own. Ever since I told him about the baby a few weeks ago, he has barely left my sight--let alone my side. He's cautious; he helps me walk up and down stairs, makes sure I avoid cracks in the concrete as we walk through the gardens, and even spots me as I get into bed. I love him, and now that I know he loves me I feel wonderful, but it's starting to get out of hand. I'm barely even showing and other than morning sickness and my sudden aversion to tea--a Verilian Royal Baby folktale-- I'm doing fine, Even the doctors say so.
Trust me, I know. Daniel insisted I see five of them.
My mother wraps her arms around me. "Oh honey, this is so amazing. I am so happy for you both!"
I feel tears in my own eyes, this baby truly makes me more emotional than usual. "You're both gonna be grandparents." My dad rushes me too, his own eyes getting a little misty. Though, if you ask him, he'll one hundred percent tell you it's because of allergies or he "has something in his eyes". We engage in a group hug, both crying on my shoulders. I hug them tight. "I missed you guys, you'll have to visit more often."
They break apart from me, smiles on their faces. "Actually... There's another reason we're here."
I raise a brow.
"Your husband has offered me a supervisory position in the royal guard, and he found a job for your mother at Verilian National Hospital so..."
"So that means we're going to be moving here so we can be closer to you!" My mother finishes.
"Oh my gosh! Are you serious?" I turn to Max. "Wait, what about school?"
Max grins. "Don't worry Anne Of Green Gables, some of the best schools are in Verilia."
I frown. "But... What about your friends? This is amazing. I'm so happy to have you closer, but... What about the house? You guys have lives and friends back home."
My father places a hand on my shoulder. "But we have a daughter and a future grandbaby here. Our family is small, we're all we have."
I go to open my mouth to protest more when my Max shakes his head. "Stop it, Annie. We all want to do this. You're halfway across the world and I surprisingly miss having you across the hall from me. We all agreed, we all talked about it so don't feel guilty."
I try, I really try, but I can't help but feel bad. They're uprooting their entire lives for me. It makes me smile and I realize in that moment just how much I missed them and how much I rely on them to be near me. Max hugs me next, after my parents have attacked me with their affection. "So, my big sis is gonna be a mom, huh?"
He grins. "That means I get to be the cool uncle!"
I laugh. "Yes, you do." I look at him, even though it's only been a few weeks since I've seen my annoying little brother, I've truly missed him. I've missed all of them, and I'm so glad they're here with me because I know I can't do any of this alone.
Daniel squeezes my hand, but I haven't forgotten about him. I could never forget about him. He did this. Once again he surprised me with what I really wanted. He helped my parents get jobs here and I bet he helped Maxie find an amazing school. But there's still one more thing I need to clarify. I went back to my original question. "Wait, what about the house?" Max and I both grew up there. It's sentimental, and I'd hate for them to have to get rid of it just to afford the high cost of living in a foreign country--all for me. "And what about finding a house here?" It has to be way more expensive, and what about salaries?
Daniel strokes the back of my hand with his fingers. "I bought your old house from them so they have more than enough money to start here, and don't worry, Little American I made sure they got even better jobs. They're paid more now and your brother's school is discounted. I hired a wonderful real estate agent to find them a nice place near the Palace." He sighs. "Actually, I offered to let them live here, but like you, they're very stubborn."
We all laugh. "Surely you didn't think that was all her?" My mother grins and rolls her eyes, causing Daniel to smirk and my face to redden a bit. "It runs in the family so you, Papa, are in a load of trouble."
Daniel grins and shakes his head. "Oh trust me, I know." He leans down and kisses my lips softly. "And I couldn't be happier."
We find my family a wonderful house just outside the city. It's a large four bedroom home with a beautiful fenced in yard and back patio overlooking Verilian Square in Verilian City. My mother immediately falls in love with the new kitchen and spacious island, and my dad and brother take a liking to the two car garage and basement. Right away they claim is as a "Man Cave". In "retaliation" my mother claims her "She Shed".
The weeks pass by quickly. My family moves into their new house, sparking all kinds of rumors in the media. We move all their stuff into the house and it looks amazing. My family seems really happy and I have no one else to thank but Daniel for that. My dad starts his new job and my mother goes into the hospital for her first shift. Both can barely contain their enthusiasm. Max tells me everyday about how he loves his new classes as Verilian Prep Academy and about how he's made so many new friends. I was worried they wouldn't be happy, giving up everything for me, but they seem to be fitting in really well.
Suddenly we're past the time the doctors said it was safe to announce to the whole world that I am expecting. I was sure to tell everyone I knew in person before the official statement was sent to the news sources. The article dropped on a Tuesday, and it's a day I'll never forget because Palace life was even crazier than it was before. People were running around, the PR workers were all working on questions and requests for information from all the major world news outlets.
Daniel is never too far away from me. Ever since I told him I was carrying his child, he's been even more possessive and protective than he's ever been. He only lets a select few touch me, and only after they sanitize their hands. Queen Clarita rolled her eyes and pushed him away as he held out the sanitizer he's been carrying in his pocket since day one for her to take and scoffed. She wrapped her arms around me in a strong hug and cried. "I am so happy for you both. This is the best news we've received in a long time."
I hug her back, mindful of my small bump, feeling tears of my own. I have seriously grown to love Queen Clarita and I wouldn't want any other woman to be the grandmother of my child. I know she's going spoil them silly alongside my own mother. "Thank you. We are both very excited."
She pulls away and smirks. "I see my stupid son has come to his senses?"
I giggle and nod.
"Good." She pats him on the shoulder, Daniel frowns. "I hope you've thoroughly kicked his ass a bit, made him grovel?"
I grin and nod again. "Don't worry. He isn't too bad."
Daniel grunts. "I am right here you know."
We both laugh. Daniel bids us goodbye because he has an important meeting so he leaves me in the care of his mother. I know he's pretty much having her babysit me, but I understand. The palace is a dangerous place and he wants to keep me and our little one safe. It's very endearing. He kisses me on the forehead and rubs my belly for a bit before saying farewell to his mother and leaving us alone. I'm supposed to go for outside daily and get plenty of sun-- apparently I'm a plant now-- so The Queen decides to take me for a walk in the gardens.
Clarita gives me all kinds of baby tips and tells me she saved all of Daniel's old toys when he was a baby--even his crib that was expertly carved out of mahogany and engraved with mythical beings like unicorns and dragons. She tells me the best way to deal with morning sickness and tells me all kinds of stories about Daniel when he was a kid. We smile and laugh as we walk along.
"So, I'm sure you're aware of the conversation Daniel had with my husband, The King?" She asks, stopping to pick a yellow lily. She brings it up to her nose and smells it with all the elegance and grace she possesses. She's the perfect Queen, and it just hits me now, but I don't think I'll ever be as good of a Queen as she has been to her people. She's so beautiful and regal and everyone loves her. I clearly have huge shoes to fill-- shoes I don't think I'll ever be able to seamlessly jump into.
I shake my head. "Things have been a tad bit chaotic since the baby. He hasn't told me, no. Daniel's mostly concerned with making sure I don't trip over air or get some sickness." I joke.
She smiles. "I understand. Daniel's father was the same way when I was pregnant for the first time too. Men feel helpless during this time so they overcompensate. Just wait until your bump gets bigger, dear. Then he won't leave your side."
I sigh. "It's been kind of crazy. Sometimes I just want to tell him to beat it. I'm fine. All five of my doctors say so."
She raises a brow. "Five? Ha! I had seven!" We both laugh about the ridiculous men in our lives until we both sober up. "So back to my original point of conversation. I'm technically not supposed to tell you this, but right now Daniel is the front runner for King."
I can feel my eyes widen. "Really?"
She nods. "Yes. More so now that you both have a little one on the way."
I can't believe it. We did it. Daniel's going to be crowned the next King of Verilia. He has achieved his original goal. I can't help but smile even though now I'm more scared than ever. Daniel, my husband, is going to be King, and I'm going to be his Queen. I place both hands on my stomach. This little baby inside me is one day going to rule an entire nation. They're going to be a Prince or a Princess, and that's just so surprising. I never thought I'd be in this position and I'm terrified.
She places her hand over mine. "I know what you're going through, dear. I went through the same. You're nervous and scared, but you're surrounded by people who will help you."
I give her a watery smile. Of course she knows what's going on inside my head. She's felt the same at one point and she's gotten through it. Perhaps those shoes aren't so unfillable after all. As I feel her hand on my stomach, I don't feel alone and I don't feel so afraid. I feel like for once, I belong. I'm a part of this family. I'm a royal now, and my baby will be one too. I will once day be Queen and as I look at my mother in law, I feel an overwhelming sense of joy that nearly brings me to tears.
I do belong here.
This is my family.
And I'm never gonna let anyone push me away from it again.