An Unexpected Gift
Disclaimer: I own very little.
Chapter Forty-Three: An Unexpected Gift
The first week or two after Caspian was gone, I did not experience any more discomfort or episodes similar to that at the port city. In fact, I had led myself to believe that Caspian's departure was what had caused my short sickness and that my life as a single queen would be a semi-painless transition, emotions aside.
That all changed as soon as the third week came about.
Never had I been so irritable or short-tempered in all my life.
I had no doubt that, by the end of that week, every person I came in contact with wanted to strangle me. I wanted to strangle me, as well. Of course, I tried to always be pleasant to the citizens or any visitors that we received, but it seemed as though my mind was spinning with all sorts of emotions. One moment, I was as happy as a lark, but the next I was ready to kill nearly anyone who stepped into my sight.
Emily kept on pestering me as to what was wrong, but I lied to her every time, trying to assure her of my well-being and that nothing was wrong. Deep down, I think I knew that she never had believed my little show and the one morning at breakfast with the other leaders was the final straw for her. I hadn't been sick at my stomach for quite some time, but it was at this breakfast that I became sick once more and had to excuse myself to the powder room.
Just as I reached the powder room, I heard Emily right at my heels. She entered just as I once again released nearly all of breakfast in meetimnto one of the buckets in the corner.
"Rosalie, you told me that you were fine," Emily scolded, pulling my hair out of the way as I continued to fight the sickness.
"I am fine, Emily," I still argued, refusing to admit to anything.
Another surge of sickness told us else wise.
Trina was the next to enter the powder room. I felt her tender hand on my back as my stomach calmed enough to where I felt comfortable standing upright. She tucked a stray hair behind my ear and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"You're not fine, Rosalie," Trina said maternally, urging me to sit on the stool in the powder room.
"Trina, I've got a country to run and a meeting to go to. I don't have the time to be sitting up-" She hushed me, even I knew that my case was growing useless. Finally, I decided it was pointless for me to argue against both Emily and Trina.
"Think of it this way," Trina said to me softly, grabbing a stool from the opposite side of the room so that she was face-to-face with me. "The sooner we find out what's going on, the sooner you can go back to ruling at your prime."
"And stop giving the rest of us a hard time!" Emily added.
I released a sigh of defeat as Emily leaned against the wall with her arms crossed. She seemed to be quite pleased with herself that finally someone was on her side. I knew that this was only for the best and moments later, the castle medic entered into the room with a concerned look on her face and satchel tossed over her shoulder.
"What seems to be the problem?" The elderly woman asked me as Trina donated her stool to the woman, where she laid out her supplies on the vanity.
She went through a list of procedure that seemed to never end. I never enjoyed receiving check ups as a child and that didn't prove to be any more pleasant. She asked many strange and unusually personal questions. I tried to keep in mind that this was merely her job, but her along with Trina and Emily answering questions on my behalf, it felt as though I was counting the minutes until this interrogation was over.
After seemingly eternity, she finally turned away and grabbed a piece of parcel from her bag. Her frail hand was scribbling away and when she finished writing whatever it was that seemed to be so important, she looked to me with a small smile on her face.
"How long has it been since Caspian's departure?" She questioned, looking over her spectacles at me.
"Three weeks," I answered tentatively, curious as to why she was smiling.
She scribbled more down and seemed to be nodding her head as she did so. Seconds later, she dropped the quill and looked at me, the smile still plastered on her face as she clasped her hands together," Well, though I cannot be one hundred percent positive, it appears as though you're with child, your majesty."
I swallowed hard as the words echoed off the walls. Emily released an excited squeal, as did Trina, but I gulped again and looked at the nurse with a look of disbelief plastered on my face," Ma'am, I'm sorry, but I don't think that's possible," I gaped, searching for words. " It-it just can't-how?"
The woman pulled her spectacles off her face and gave me another teasing smile," Now, now surely you are not so naïve to not understand how a woman becomes pregnant."
Immediately, I regretted asking the question and stayed silent as I tried to let reality sink in. Of course, I had known how it had happened, but I just wanted to know how I was suppose to cope with this in addition to the stress of running a country. There couldn't have been a worse time for this to be thrown upon us, but for some reason, this had happened. Everything had purpose; therefore, this wasn't by mistake. If I really was with child, then the path ahead was only going to become much more interesting.
All of a sudden, a wave of panic rushed over me.
How was this real?
How was this happening?
Why was this happening?
If the nurse was accurate, then I had a child growing inside of me. A child that depended on me in order to live. I tried to factor in how this could possibly go wrong. I was far too young to have much experience with being a mother. I was alone without my husband who may or may not have been returning for a while. Not to mention that I had the duties of queen being placed on my shoulders as well.
While Trina and Emily were congratulating me, I secretly was hoping that the nurse was mistaken.
I couldn't take on those responsibilities yet. As everyone else seemed excited, I couldn't be more anxious. Surely, the nurse was mistaken.
Despite my silent prayers, weight gain and excessive changes of my mood seemed to tell the nurse once and for all that I was, indeed, pregnant. It was very odd to have so much weight gain in seemingly such a little time, to me at least. It probably was not as quickly as it felt. Never had I been a very large person; therefore, putting on so much weight did not feel comfortable.
Naturally, my dresses were all altered to make room for the growing baby inside of me and perhaps I ate a little more than what I normally I would have, but my life alone and pregnant was not entirely painful. After the first few days…weeks of convincing myself of the reality in front of me, I finally came to terms with my condition and tried to make the best of the situation...tried being the key word of that phrase. Sometimes, I thought that it was all useless and that the idea of being alone and pregnant was simply too much. Even though there was nothing I could do about the situation, there were days that I wanted out. Mentally, that was for physically still had to set the example for the country. Outside, it had to appear as though nothing was wrong, but on some days it seemed as though the inside was winning.
Separation truly does make the heart grow fonder because for those months that I was on my own, I realized how much I appreciated Caspian. In fact, it may have been for the best that he left just so that I could see how much I truly did love him. Days without him may not have been normal, but we made do with the most normal type of abnormal we could muster up.
Eventually, I realized that I wasn't entirely as alone as I thought I was. The summer months came and I spent the days with Apollo and Trina making plans for Narnia and finishing any construction that needed to be done from the year before. Emily and I would also do plenty of work in the community as well as communicating with other regions to try to build strong relationships. We carried out our responsibilities just as Caspian would have done. I learned to trust them more and more. I learned to take away the pride I was building on my shoulders of being "the queen". It was unnecessary for me to think everything was to come back on me.
Though in the day, I pretended as though Caspian were present, it was the evenings when I remembered him by staying out on the balcony during the warmer months and moving the memorial into his study during the colder months when snow would cover the landscape.
In a strange, slow (and by slow, I mean very slow) way, I learned to feel blessed to be pregnant, reason being that laying my hand atop of my stomach and in later months feeling the soft kicks from the baby was my reminder of the life growing inside of me. I would go so far as to say that it was the small hope that still lingered in me that Caspian was out there. Though I may have never been promised a return from Caspian, the soft kicks of the baby were a reassurance to me. A reminder that my husband may have very well been on his way home. A little piece of him was still alive inside of me, both literally and figuratively speaking.
The summer months seem to fly by and after fall was gone, winter set in her deep roots. I knew that if Caspian was not home by winter, then he would surely not be home until spring was well settled in. I was due to have our child at the end of winter, beginning of spring and it appeared as though Caspian would not be around for us to see the child born for it was difficult to sail in cold, brutal weather, as mentioned before. Preparations for the birth of the child were still made without Caspian. Trina had plenty of advice to offer me and Emily tried to be as best of a help as she could.
I remember when the first day of the new year came about and the Christmas celebrations were winding down. By this time, I had packed on quite the weight from the pregnancy and had all sorts of gifts for the baby coming in from all regions of the country. Nearly every woman that I spoke with asked me for the latest updates and I truly believe that had it not been for the anticipation of this baby, then I may have had a harder time staying positive.
Whenever the second month of the year came about, we all knew that the child could come at nearly any time. Everyone seemed to be rushing about to get all of the supplies needed should we be caught unsuspected. A baby bed was moved into the royal quarters for safety and one of the spare rooms of the suite was converted by the servant girls into a beautiful room that either a little boy or girl would be suited in. Some of a the women would question me over whether I preferred to have a girl or boy. Honestly, I told them that either gender would make me a happy mother, though I somewhat expected a girl due to the vision I had seen with Caspian in years past.
Though we suspected the baby to come toward the end of February, since that would put me roughly at nine months, it seemed as though the child wasn't ready to enter the world just yet. As strange as it may have seemed, the pregnancy was not necessarily a typical one. Nearly every day, the nurse would come in to check on me and say that the time would come when the baby was ready. It was strange to me, but I couldn't make an argument. I hardly had a say in the matter.
It was the second week of March.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night and waking the nurse as quickly as possible before being escorted to one of the beds in the hospital wing. Emily and Trina were quick to rush to the scene, as well. Child birth wasn't something to look forward to, as nearly every woman in the town told me, but a sort of adrenaline rushed through me whenever I realized that would be the morning Aslan would bless us with a sweet baby. My prayers that Caspian would return for the birth of the child were not answered, but after the strenuous, stressful process was over and my body was released of the extra weight I had carried about for nine months, I could see my child, face-to-face.
I could very well go into the details of that morning, but it was not the most pleasant morning for all of us and some of the details become rather graphic. The only matter of importance from that morning is the fact that I was blessed with the one thing that would change my life forever.
Sweat dripped down my face as the tension was finally released and I watched, as a hawk watches its prey, the midwife take the child, the screaming, bloody, absolutely frightening-looking child, away to be cleansed. In some people's eyes, the scene would have been gruesome, but for me, even from the distance, I could not get enough of the sweet, screaming baby. Nothing did I want more than to hold that child. I had not felt such a strong wanting for one thing in all of my life. Was it possible that such passion could be formed in such little time?
I then remembered, that this was not a short process, but a nine month one, rather.
"I want to see him," I demanded, keeping my eyes set on the bundle that the midwife carried in her arms, as if teasing me with withholding the baby from me.
"Calm down, you're about to," Emily said, chuckling slightly at the sound of how irritable I was.
Trina was assisting the midwife in cleansing the baby and finally, after seemingly eternity, the tall woman brought the child into my reach. Softly, she placed the bundle into my arms and said softly," You're now a mother to a baby boy."
I was in complete awe of the tiny being settling into my arms. A permanent smile seemed to be etched on my face as I looked into the red face of the fussing child. He may not have been the most quiet thing in the world, but he was the most precious thing I had ever laid eyes on. I had seen quite a lot of events and beauties, but none of those even compared to the sight of our baby boy. He already had a thick head of dark hair and a fine set of lungs. After several moments, he seemed to calm down and stop his wailing, just for a few moments. His skin may have been red, but every little feature...his mouth, his nose, his ear, they were all so precious and sweet. Looking at this child made me feel joy I had never felt in my life. Sure, the process by which I got him may have been the most painful of my life, but seeing him was worth it. Seeing him and remembering that my husband, his father, was somewhere out in the world...gave me hope.
I never wanted that moment to end. I may have been young and completely unprepared to be a mother, but all that mattered was that the sweet child I had longed to meet for many months was safe in my arms.
I had fallen in love all over again.
Those first few days, or nights shall I say, were some of the most tiring I had ever experienced. It seemed as though our little boy was having a hard time adjusting to a new sleeping pattern in the new and big world. All day, every day there was a midwife at my side, helping to calm the fussing child. I would be lying if I said I was the happiest mother on those first few nights for I felt as though I was in over my head. I remembered those fears that I had at the beginning of my pregnancy.
One evening, in particular, I remember being alone on the balcony, for spring was welcoming us. The little boy was screaming as I walked him back and forth, trying to calm him. I kept a hand on his tiny back and tried with all of my might to calm the little boy in one way or another. All of my efforts, in combination with Trina, and the midwife, seemed to be useless. It wasn't until I sat down to feed him that he was quiet long enough for me to gather my thoughts.
After several moments of precious silence, Emily entered into the open air of the balcony and looked at me," Have you decided on a name yet?"
I looked down at the tiny baby and realized once more that I couldn't give him a name. I felt a slight ping of guilt, but then realized that I would never be able to name him until I first spoke with Caspian.
"I can't, Emily," I said, looking up from the baby.
She released a sigh as she sat on the ledge," You're really going to wait?"
"I have to," I told her firmly, looking directly into her eyes.
"You realize that could be-"
"A long time," I finished her sentence with a nod of my head. "Or never. Yes, I do realize that, but for now I cannot give him a name with a clear conscious."
I could tell by the look on her face that she wanted to argue, but she only smiled in respect of my decision let the matter drop for the time being. She turned away to speak with the midwife over something else. As she was gone, I gazed out over the land and prayed that Caspian would be back. I felt rather pathetic asking for such a thing, but it was true.
I felt the weight of the child in my arms. The depth of the bags under my eyes. I needed him in order to raise this child.
And for a moment, I heard a voice whisper in the night air:
All is well.
It frightened me greatly and when I asked the women if they had heard anything, they looked at me as if I had lost my mind and insisted that I go to bed. Arguing, I went to bed and tried to forget what I had heard. In my head, I believed this to be Aslan.
Two more long weeks of staying up through the night was what it took in order for the baby to finally get into a routine of sleeping at night and being awake during the day. I say this loosely for the child still struggled to sleep correctly. The midwife told me that he was one of the most active babies she had ever tended to, which may have been the polite way of saying he was the worst baby she had ever tended to. I loved the child more than words, but he was not the most well-behaved.
Spring was finally upon us and a year had passed since Caspian's departure. The baby was nearly two months old and he was still without a name, of course, I knew that he would need a name before long, but I could at least wait until spring was well in place.
I was thankful that I had.
"PREPARE THE PALACE! DAWN TREADER'S DOCKED! THE KING HAS RETURNED!" One of the servant boys yelled, running through the castle.
I was trying to calm the baby whenever I heard the loud noise. I predicted that the noise would spur a meltdown from the child, who was just starting to lift his head, in my arms, but I was wrong. He stayed perfectly quiet and as I looked down onto his cute face, I could have sworn his lips were curling up to a smile. His eyes, still a dark blue, but nearly changed to green, were fixed on mine with a perfect smile gracing his lips.
I got back to the quarters as quickly as I could and found Emily, cleaning up around the baby's bed. She looked up and instantly smiled.
"You heard?" She asked, her voice sounding as if it were dancing.
"He's come back!" I exclaimed, hearing a squeal come from even the little guy in my arms. He had been practicing plenty of noises, as well.
I had gotten to the point where life without Caspian may have just been normal. There wasn't any sorrow that I felt day after day. The most pain I was experiencing was the fact that I was taking care of a newborn baby with help, but from my maids and not my husband. I think that I always knew he would return, but I hadn't any time line as to when.
"Do you want me to watch him as you go greet them?" A servant girl, just entering the room, asked as I felt his tiny head start to wobble and adjust him to where he would no longer need to lift his own head.
I looked at her and mentally debated whether or not I should show Caspian the child just yet. It would have been much more exciting for me to surprise him, but looking at how alert the child now was, it seemed unfair that I should meet Caspian before he, but there would be plenty of activity down there, I was sure. It was only for the best that I not throw him into such activity yet.
"You may stay here with him," I told her, looking down and reluctantly placing him into her arms.
It was still strange to think of myself as being a mother, but I always knew that it was real by the feeling I felt when I had to give him up. Slight pain.
Moments later, Emily looked at me and started urging me out of the room. Reluctantly, I left, leaving my child behind with the servant, and went along with her to enter into the chaos that ensued on the main floor. Both Apollo and Trina seemed to be running about frantically, trying to figure out where to send everyone once the reunions were over. I hadn't much say in the matter, mostly because I chose not to become involved.
As soon as I entered the main entryway to the castle, it felt as though the room became thousands of times smaller from all the servants gathered around the door and pressed along to see the return of the king once again. I could hardly contain the excitement growing in my stomach. Finally, I wouldn't have to do this all entirely without my husband. We would all have the leadership we needed.
I wasn't able to wallow the thought for long because moments later, the doors to the castle were hauled open. I swallowed hard for even though I was seeing a loved one again, I still felt nerves. I prayed deep down that he had found everything he was searching for and could really stay in place this time around. We couldn't afford for him to leave anymore…at least, I couldn't.
The first one to enter through the doors was Stephen. He had always appeared to be very young in his face and structure, but he was no longer the teenager that I remembered seeing the year before. He was growing into a young man. I watched as his dark eyes searched the room and when he saw Emily, the rest of us may as well have been invisible as he ran to her and swept her off her feet.
After Stephen, the rest of the crew and its members came flooding into the main hallway, greeting family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time. Seeing all of the people made me smile, but I had yet to see the one I had waited for. Penelope was in the sea of crew and came running up to me.
Her skin looked even more tan than usual and I noticed several large cuts on the side of her face and neck. Not wanting to ask any questions, but simply glad at the fact that she was living. Her hair was knotted and thrown about in quite a crazy manner, but she hardly seemed to care as she tossed her body against my own.
"Rosalie!" She exclaimed, grasping me so tightly that I nearly lost all air circulation.
"Penelope!" I returned after catching my breath from the surprise.
She backed away and couldn't seem to stop smiling; she, too, was not a teenager anymore, but growing into her young woman years quite quickly.
"You won't believe the stories I've got for you!" She exclaimed, still seeming to be so incredibly joyful. Her hands were still on both of my shoulders, forcing me to look directly at her. "We got to see King Edmund and Queen Lucy again!"
"Really?" I asked, hardly able to believe her words. "I've got some stories for you, as well!"
"I'll explain all of the details later! You'll never believe it!" She cried, after patting my shoulder one last time and sidestepping out of my path. I watched as she seemed to skip away from me back to her own quarters, greeting her own friends as she did so.
I greeted person after person as they entered into the castle. Trina informed me between the spurts of people that there was going to be a welcome-home dinner tonight in their honor. I thanked her for telling me of the information and just as I turned away from her, I saw him. Caspian, the King, stood at the door, hair loose and looking as though he had been through quite the battle at sea. None of those details mattered, except for one.
He was home.
Author's Note: So, I wasn't intending on making this a chapter…but it got a little lengthy when I put it with the next chapter…so happy reading! And also, my tennis season is finally over so I can focus on writing my next story. I need to apologize for the breaks and also another detail in this chapter (part of the reason why it took me so long to write) was Rosalie's pregnancy. Part of me wanted to go into more detail, but then again I felt like if I did then I would have to really understand what I'm writing, if that makes sense, and since I have never been pregnant I didn't want to mess that up. I know it may have seemed a little "rushed", but I hope that you all will understand. I felt like this chapter was a whirlwind of events, but it was necessary, I think.
SIDENOTE: I do not know the EXACT length of the voyage of the DT, but a year just so happened to work into my time line of the story.
Drop a review and let me know what you think :D
Next Chapter and Epilogue: TOMORROW!