Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Slayers Expecting ❯ Chapter 3 ( Chapter 3 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

AN: Slayers is owned by people who are not me.
Warning: Graphic depiction of birth. If you are squicked by this, then do not read.
“I hate to break it to you, but your worries have just begun.” Rick told Gourry as he showed him how to hold the newborn, Garrett, while bathing him.
“Huh?” Gourry said stupidly. Infants, it turned out, were squirmy little things, and Gourry was afraid he was going to drop him.
“Think of it this way. Lina is probably the toughest person I've ever met. She's shown she can take care of herself over and over again. Yet you still worry about her, right?”
“Every day.” Gourry replied, “It's been so bad lately I've been having nightmares.”
“Well, wait a few more months till the baby is born. Then you'll have to worry about Lina and a small being who is completely helpless.”
Gourry looked down at Garrett, who was now a month old, and had to concede that Rick had a point. Lina could cast a spell if threatened. All Garrett could do was scream helplessly. Gourry shuddered as he thought of all of the powerful enemies he and Lina had made over the years. Would one of them try to hurt them through their baby?
Rick had continued, “And then it could affect your wife in ways you could never expect.”
“Like?” Gourry asked as he sponged off Garrett's shoulders.
“Well, when Syl had Uruk, things were fine at first. But a few weeks later we hit the anniversary of the destruction of Sairaag. It's always a tough time of the year for both of us, but it was really bad that year. She started obsessing about how much her father would have loved him and how sad it was that Uruk would never know his grandparents. I'd come home and find her crying inconsolably. She'd stare out into space for long periods of time, it was hard to get her motivated to do anything, even to care for Uruk.
“I took her to a healer, and she said that it was a bad case of the baby blues and that there wasn't much to do but wait for it to pass. Princess Amelia helped out a lot, taking Syl for walks in the garden and helping me take care of Uruk at night so she could get some uninterrupted sleep, which the healer advised. Eventually she snapped out of it.”
Gourry quietly washed the baby for a moment before asking, “So does every woman get these baby blues?”
“According to the healer, yes, but not as bad as Syl did. And even then, when Syl had our Lina she was fine. When we had Maria, though, it was worse than it was with Uruk! This time things have been fine so far. I'm hoping they stay that way.”
“I had no idea.” Gourry said as he took Garrett out of the water to towel him dry. “Whenever we were here she seemed to have it all together. It's been intimidating Lina.”
“She was the daughter of Sairaag's Head Priest. She was raised to maintain a calm façade to the outside world.”
Gourry shook his head. Lina, Sylphiel, and the rest of the women were down the hall enjoying Lina's shower. Phil had decided to hold some sort of Justice Camp for his grandsons and had invited Sylphiel and Rick's three older children along. Rick had offered to take the time to show Gourry some basic infant care techniques so he'd be more comfortable when the baby came. Instead, Gourry was feeling more nervous. He could never imagine Lina depressed and inconsolable. Yet he could never imagine Sylphiel that way either, and he had been there in the days immediately following Sairaag's destruction.
“Hey!” Rick said, clapping Gourry on the back, “Great job bathing Garrett. Aren't you feeling more confident now?”
………………………&# 8230;……
It was a set of crib bedding. Lina couldn't fault the material. It was a fine, smooth cotton. She couldn't argue with the pale blue hue of the material either. Nor could she deny the quality of the bedding. Whomever the seamstress was who worked on it knew her craft well as the stitches were tiny and straight. The embroidered seal of the monstrous Zoalmelgustar right smack dab in the middle was another story. “Um, thanks Martina. You shouldn't have.”
“I know. I spent a lot of money on the best seamstress in the land to make them.” Martina, who had held up remarkably well through the years, replied as she daintily sipped her tea.
“And they're hideous.” Added Michelle, Martina's teenage daughter, who looked like she would rather be somewhere else. Anywhere else.
Lina and Amelia exchanged a glance, and had to bite down on their laughter as Martina turned red. “Now look!” Martina shouted, “You may think that Zoalmelgustar is some joke but…”
“When are you going to introduce me to Gourry?” Michelle interrupted as she took off her hat. It could easily have been the one that Zangulus wore. In fact, Lina wondered if Michelle had taken it from him. Strangely, though, Michelle looked like a clone of Martina, their personalities were a complete 180. While her hair was the same shade of green, rather than putting it in elaborate curls, Michelle held it back in a simple pony tail. And she wore comfortable, practical traveling clothes.
“Why do you want to see Gourry?” Lina asked warily, remembering Martina's tendency to be overzealously boy crazy in her youth.
“He's the best swordsman in the world, isn't he?” Michelle replied.
“I think so.” Lina said, just as Martina humped in annoyance, “Hardly. He's no match for your father.”
Michelle turned to face her mother, “But Daddy admits that Gourry beat him in a match, so that would mean Gourry is the best.”
“There were extenuating circumstances…”
“Oh please.” Lina said.
“Anyway,” Michelle said, turning to Lina, “I want to be the best, so I want Gourry to train me. Daddy has already taught me a lot, but I feel like I'm reaching a plateau with him. I need someone to really challenge me.”
Lina regarded the young woman, wondering if she was going to regret this. Logically she knew Gourry would never cheat, but she was huge, hormonal, and temperamental while Michelle was young, thin and adoring of Gourry. And if she did have a trace of the boy craziness her mother used to have… Finally deciding that she was being silly she said, “Well, he gives lessons when we're in Zefiria…”
“Great, when will you be back in Zefiria?”
“You can't go to Zefiria!” Martina interjected, “You have royal duties at home!”
“Junior can take care of those.”
“And you should learn from your brother's example…”
“Oh boy,” Lina said as she cradled her head in her arms.
“Here Miss Lina, I think you'll like this.” Filia said as she handed a beautifully wrapped package.
Lina perked up and tore the paper off, revealing an unassuming brown box. Lina opened it and removed quite a bit of packaging material before pulling out a small white jar that was encrusted with pearls. On the front, in gold lettering, was Lina and Gourrys' names with their wedding date. Lina was a bit puzzled. It certainly looked expensive, which she liked, but she could not for the life of her figure out what a baby would do with something so breakable.
“It's a family jar.” Filia explained. “Once the baby is born you can take it to Jill's Jar Shop and get his or her name engraved, along with the date of birth. Same with any of your future children. And don't worry about paying for the engraving, I worked a deal out with Jill already.”
“Oh, wow. Thanks Filia!”
“So, how is business going?” Amelia asked.
“Great!” Filia said as she sat down on the nearest couch, “It's been so busy that I wasn't sure I'd be able to get away, but Jilas insisted he could handle it.”
“That's good. Has Valgaav hatched yet?”
“No, and he won't for awhile. Human lives go by far more swiftly than those of dragons'.”
“But I don't want to manage a kingdom!” Michelle yelled, interrupting their conversation.
“You're so lazy! Just like your father, all you do is play with your sword…”
“Oh dear.” Sylphiel sighed.
“Why did you invite her, Amelia?” Lina asked.
“I didn't.” Amelia explained, “She heard that you were pregnant and decided to stop by.”
“Well, here's what I got.” Sylphiel said, shaking her head at Martina and Michelle and hoping her own children's teenage years would not be as turbulent.
Sylphiel's gift was a set of baby clothes and diapers. Lina marveled at how tiny they were for a few moments before turning to Naga's present, which was a deadbolt. “You'll thank me once that baby can walk and open doors.” Naga explained when Lina and the others sent her a puzzled look. “Trust me.”
“Well,” Amelia said, her voice a little too perky, “My Daddy's gift are these apartments we're currently in. They're larger and have more room for a growing family than the ones that you're currently in.”
“All right!” Lina exclaimed as she surveyed the rooms they were in. The living room was larger, and Lina was fairly certain that there was an extra room or two, even a spare bathroom. Plus, they came furnished in a manner that living in a palace provided. In Lina's mind, it was the best gift yet.
“So do you think it's a boy or a girl?” Filia asked before Amelia could give her present.
“It's a girl.” Lina said definitively.
“Are you sure?” Gracia asked. “You're carrying all wrong for it to be a girl.”
“Of course I'm sure!” Lina yelled, causing Martina and Michelle to stop their fight and stare at her, “I'm carrying this child after all. One night I woke up and I knew, it's a girl.”
Naga's eyes narrowed, “I'm not so sure, have you been craving sweets or salty food?”
“Well you had bad morning sickness, didn't you?” Martina interrupted, “For once I agree with you, Lina, that means you're having a girl. Junior's pregnancy was a breeze. Michelle's, on the other hand…”
“I still say she's carrying all wrong for a girl. I carried low with all of my pregnancies like her, and they were all boys.”
“Well, I carried high for all of mine, and I had both.” Sylphiel said, “There's really no way to tell for sure until the baby arrives. And I had the worst morning sickness ever when I was pregnant with Garrett. All told, my Lina's pregnancy was the easiest.”
“Which is why I'm not relying on those superstitions.” Lina said, arms folded over her belly, her manner rather aloof, “My woman's intuition, which I've learned to trust through the years, says girl.”
“Miss Lina's right, a woman should always follow her intuition,” Amelia said supportively, “Why don't you see what Zel and I got for your daughter? It's in the room to your right.”
“You mean I have to get up?” Lina asked dryly even as she hauled herself off the couch and waddled over to the indicated room just as Naga asked about baby names.
Lina ignored her. The last thing she needed was someone critiquing the name that she and Gourry had spent so much time reaching an agreement on. She opened the door and looked inside and felt her jaw drop. Indeed, it was nice to be friends with the royal family, not to mention in their debt. The cradle that was inside was the most beautiful and ornate looking crib she had ever seen.
Lina felt as though her legs would detach from her pelvis at any moment. Sylphiel had said that her joints were loosening to prepare for birth. It was a strange sensation, neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but merely disconcerting. Lina had always been very comfortable in her body, she knew its reflexes well and had always been oriented in space well. It was important to be so when you were bandit hunting. But now it was as if someone had taken her brain and transplanted it into a new, foreign body. Her sense of space was skewed, her legs didn't seem to move the way they used to, and simple things like walking or getting up took longer.
At least this still feels heavenly Lina thought to herself as she sank into a bath filled with hot water. She leaned her head back and felt herself relax, letting the water work its magic on her joints, enjoying the feeling of buoyancy. Gradually worries over what else would change and which of those changes would be permanent faded as she relaxed.
After the shower Gourry had gathered their things and moved them into the larger apartments. Lina had then started to organize the smaller room next to theirs to prepare for their imminent arrival. Lina had been seized with a desire to make sure everything was perfect, and Gourry wisely decided to stay out of her way.
After deciding she had done enough for one night and raiding the kitchen with Gourry she finally took to opportunity to unwind in the tub. But like so many things these days, it wasn't long before she had to stop to go to the bathroom. With a sigh, she heaved herself out of the tub, answered nature's call, and dressed for bed.
Lina slid in beside Gourry so that she was lying away from him on her left side, one leg propped up with pillows. He turned in his half-sleep state and put an arm around her swollen belly. “I felt that.” He muttered sleepily.
“Yes, that was a definite kick.” Lina confirmed. The downstairs neighbor was lively at the moment, proudly making her presence known. Lina smiled warily. She was rather tired and wanted to sleep, and knew full well she wouldn't until the baby calmed down. At the same time, she knew that if junior was not moving, she'd worry about whether or not she was okay. So Lina amused herself with the reminder that the baby was alive and well and, once quieted, found herself drifting off to sleep.
Only to wake up a few hours later with the urgent need to move to her other side. She sighed. Before she got pregnant, rolling over in her sleep was easy because she could do it on her stomach. Now was a different matter entirely. She'd never realized how hard it was to roll over on your back until it became a regular nightly exercise. And she always felt as awkward as an upside down turtle when doing it. With a bit of huffing she turned and tried to fall back asleep.
Yet the growing pressure on her bladder refused to let her. She tried to ignore it, hoping that if she fell asleep it would just go away. Only it got more persistent, and finally fearful that she would pee all over herself she got up and walked to the bathroom. Once finished she slid into bed again and finally drifted up.
She had been dreaming a nice dream that this thing called pregnancy was over and that she now had a beautiful baby to show for all of her suffering when she woke up again a few hours later, once again because of the need to use the bathroom. She sighed. It had been like this for several weeks now. She'd known that once the baby was born she wouldn't be getting uninterrupted sleep for awhile, but she never thought it would start before the baby had even arrived! The time when she could easily get six to seven hours of uninterrupted sleep was fast becoming a distant memory.
With the sad realization that it would be a long time before she would be able to sleep for more than four hours straight without something waking her up, she got out of bed and headed towards the bathroom once more.
“Hey Zel, where are you going?” Gourry asked.
Zel folded a map and put it back into his knapsack. “The kingdoms of Dils and Lyzeille are having some squabbles. They requested a Seyruun delegate meet them in Atlas City to negotiate an agreement. Phil decided that this would be a good time for me to expand upon my duties.”
“Wow, sounds like he really trusts your abilities.”
“I suppose.” Zel replied lackadaisically as he put the saddle on his horse.
Gourry considered him a moment before asking, “So, is everything okay? You don't sound too excited.”
“I am, to be on the open road again at least. But being in a room full of stuffy delegates who are going to be at each others' throats.” Zel gave a wry laugh, “I thought I knew what I was getting into when I married a princess. I was a fool. You can't make anyone happy in politics, much less everyone. Everyone always knows your private business. And you're always having to watch your appearance! I don't know how Amelia keeps such a positive outlook on life while dealing with it all!”
“May be you should ask her how she does it. I'm sure she could give you some good pointers.” Gourry suggested.
“I suppose.”
Gourr's eyes narrowed. He opened his mouth to say something but closed it when Amelia walked up. “All ready to go?” she asked cheerfully. A bit too cheerfully.
“Yes. Just waiting on the all clear from the Captain and then we'll be off.”
Gourry left them to their goodbyes, worrying about the state of his friends' marriage as he did so.
“I can't believe this!” Lina exclaimed as she sat her fork speared sausage down at breakfast.
“What?” Sylphiel asked.
“I can't finish my breakfast! I'm already full!”
Sylphiel smiled, “That's to be expected. Your baby is getting so large that she's pressing against your stomach so that it's smaller and you can't eat as much.”
“But you're supposed to eat when you're pregnant!” Lina grumbled, “You're supposed to be hungry all of the time and have thirds and forth servings of everything and no one is allowed to complain to you because you're eating for two!”
“Well, now you'll just have to enjoy more snacks throughout the day.”
“I guess.” Lina muttered.
“So is the baby giving you some good kicks?”
Lina laughed wryly, “I feel like she's going to break a rib sometimes!”
“That's good. It means she's getting bigger and will be ready to come out soon.”
“It can't come soon enough! My back hurts, I can't sleep at night, and now I can't even finish my breakfast.” Lina sighed and pushed her plate away. She might say she was ready, but she was still nervous about actually giving birth. She was starting to wish she could somehow skip that part and go straight to the having the baby out and caring for her part.
“Are you all right?” Sylphiel asked.
Lina smiled, “I'm fine. Just a bit of indigestion, that's all.”
Gourry couldn't help but smile as he watched Lina organize the nursery for the umpteenth time. His pride had seemed to grow along with his wife as the proof of her condition became more apparent with each passing day. The fact that they were about to become a family seemed more certain. He could feel the tiny life kicking within her now, could see it dance within her belly. And while he regretted the discomfort it caused Lina, he couldn't be happier.
After the disaster that had befallen his own family he never thought he would have the opportunity to start anew. For awhile he thought he'd die some unknown mercenary in some strange land. But then he'd met Lina. And then he fell in love with her, but feared that she'd never settle down and start a family with him. Yet that changed with the years, and here they were. And it was incredible.
“What are you grinning about?” she asked as she paused briefly. She was moving the crib sheets from the third shelf to the fourth after much deliberation.
“You. You've only rearranged this whole nursery ten times.”
“It's something to do.” She sighed, “Honestly I'm getting bored. With Phil deciding that I can't be a bodyguard in my condition, added to the fact that all of my research is at our house in Zefiria, there's not much for me to do here. And I'm sick of reading about babies and parenting! After awhile all of the advice books start to sound the same.”
“So you're just going to reorganize the nursery for the next month?”
Lina shrugged, “It's still not perfect yet.”
Gourry thought that it looked fine to him, but decided not to say anything to her. As the weeks passed Lina eventually decided that the nursery was perfect and focused her attention on the rest of the apartment. It was a welcome relief, therefore, when Amelia arrived one day dressed in her traveling clothes and suggested a jaunt into the city for a shopping trip. Lina was only too happy to harp on the opportunity to spend some time away from the palace and in the city.
As usual, the shopping district was abuzz with activity. Lina soon contented herself in a magic shop, replenishing ingredients and finding a few pieces she was sure would come in handy with her research. Once again she was in her element as she haggled fiercely with the store owner.
“That store had some great stuff!” Lina commented to Amelia as they left, their packages carried by some royal henchmen. “I'm glad you suggested this. I really needed to get out.”
“I'll say. Life in the palace can get so stifling.” Amelia replied.
“At least you have stuff to do. I've been bored stiff. Hey, is that an ice cream stand?”
“Amelia!” a voice rang through the crowd.
Lina and Amelia exchanged a glance before turning around to find Zelgadis and the rest of the delegation that had left a month ago riding up to them. Amelia smiled and waved excitedly. Lina raised her hand to wave when she noticed a small boy riding on the same horse as Zel. “Where did he come from?” Lina asked.
“Huh?” Amelia asked, and then noticed the child. “Oh. I don't know.”
Zel pulled up to where they were and dismounted. Lina eyed him cautiously. Something had changed. He was smiling for one thing. He seemed a little taller as well, as though some burden had been lifted from his shoulders. As she watched him carry the child off the horse, she realized she had never seen Zel this happy before.
No sooner had Zel set the boy down than did Amelia jump in his arms and give him and enthusiastic kiss, which to Lina's great amazement he actually returned. Zel was usually such a prude that it was surprising to see him so open with his emotions. Lina still remembered how embarrassed she felt for Amelia during the `you may now kiss the bride' part of their wedding!
Lina rested her hands on her enormous belly and watched them bemusedly. When they eventually parted Zel grabbed Amelia's hand and pulled her to the small child, who could not be more than three. “There's someone I'd like you to meet. We think his name is Benny.”
“You think?” Amelia asked.
Zel nodded solemnly, “While we were on our way back we stumbled upon the ruins of Esouh, a small town. Bandits had raided it and slaughtered most of the townspeople.”
“What?” Amelia exclaimed.
“Great,” Lina muttered, “I can't hunt bandits for nine months and they crawl from the woodwork and destroy peoples' lives. See, I always told you guys that what I did was a public service and I should be thanked for it.”
“Anyway,” Zel continued, “He was one of the few survivors. He's an orphan now. One of the people in our retinue came from Esouh and visited regularly, and was fairly sure his name was Benny, but we don't know for sure. He's been so traumatized that he's not said a word since we found him.”
Amelia's eyes welled with tears as she knelt down so she was eye level with Benny. “You poor thing!”
“I kept thinking about what you said about adopting.” Zel said so quietly that Lina could barely hear him, “And I thought we could really help him. We've made some inquiries to see if we can find any relatives, but so far nothing. And if you don't want to I'm sure we can find a good family for him in Seyruun. But I've become attached to him.”
Amelia's eyes burned sapphire blue flames and she bunched her hand in a fist, “Well of course we can provide him with a family! It's the least we can do to help someone who has been dealt such an unjust blow so early in life! We'll do whatever it takes!”
Lina smiled as Amelia continued in that vein, “Look what you started, I haven't heard her utter a Justice speech since I got here!”
“I'm relieved to hear it. Things have been so stressful for her this past year that she wasn't quite herself.” Zel replied, the smile not leaving his face, “Besides, I've always found her speeches rather bemusing.”
Lina and Gourry helped Zel and Amelia organize a room for Benny. For his part, Benny seemed to have bonded well with Zel and refused to leave his side. He never said a word, but watched everyone warily with his big green eyes. At dinner he didn't eat much, preferring to watch everyone cautiously. Eventually the noise and the mayhem that accompanied dinner became too much for him and he broke down crying, and Zel and Amelia had to excuse themselves and take him to bed.
“So, how's it going?” Lina asked Amelia a week later as they sat in Amelia's living room while Benny napped in his room.
Amelia took a long sip of her tea before setting the cup down. Lina noted the dark circles under her eyes, even though those eyes sparkled with life that she'd not seen in awhile. “This morning was horrible! He's refused to leave Zel all week and didn't want to have anything to do with me. Finally we decided that Zel had to get out today so I rearranged my schedule to take care of him. Benny screamed for Zel all morning. He finally wore himself out and went to sleep. It wasn't the bonding experience I was hoping for.”
“Ouch, that sounds rough.”
Amelia nodded, looking rather careworn, “It's not all bad. Some things have been wonderful. Zel and I aren't fighting anymore. And the pressure to have a child is gone. At the same time, I really thought he'd like me, and that he'd be speaking by now.”
“Give him time.” Lina said as she bit into a cookie, “The poor kid's been through a lot.”
“I know.” Amelia said, “He's been having night terrors every night.”
“No wonder you look wiped.”
Amelia smiled wryly, “You don't exactly look so rested yourself.”
Lina snorted, “I can't get more than two hours sleep in a stretch now! In some ways I envy you. At least when your child arrived you were well rested. I'm going into late night feedings without having gotten a good night's sleep in months!”
“At least you get the experience of sharing an existence with your baby before he's born.” Amelia countered, “I'll never know what it's like to carry a child. You two get to bond before he's even born!”
“Yeah, you're right. At least you get to keep your body, though. I'm starting to worry that I won't be the same anywhere.”
Amelia smiled brightly, “But at least you now have the bust size that you've always wanted.”
“If my magic weren't on the fritz I'd fireball you.” Lina muttered as she put her feet on the coffee table, moaning slightly as she did.
“Are you okay, Miss Lina?”
“Oh, my back's been killing me! I'm just stretching it out is all.”
“Oh, okay. Then I won't ask you to take your feet off my table.” They grinned at each other before Amelia continued, “I know it's hard for you now, but I'm still envious. Benny doesn't see me as his mother. Because I'm not. I didn't carry him, and I didn't care for him for as long as he can remember. And he was taken from his mother in the most unjust manner. My mother was assassinated. I know what that's like. And I know I can't replace her. And part of me thinks I'm being idiotic for even trying! Especially after a morning like this. And then I feel horrible for feeling so jealous of her. For being mad that I've already missed the first few years of his life, all of those milestones. You'll get to be there for all of that.”
Lina took of a sip of her tea before saying, “The past is the past, there's no use in moping about it. So you weren't his mom for the first few years of his life, but I'll bet anything that his mother would rather he be raised by someone who can love and provide for him considering she can't rather than the alternatives. Bandits aren't so kind to foundling children you know, it was lucky Zel found him before they did. Kids are resilient, and he'll come around soon. And you need to think about what you can do to help him along.”
Amelia smiled, “You're right. It's just, I thought having a child would make everything better. I just didn't think it would be such a huge adjustment.”
Lina chuckled, “I guess no matter how you enter parenting, it wrecks havoc with your life.”
“What's all this?” Lina asked as she entered the library and found Zel buried deep in a pile of books and parchment.
“I convinced Phil to let me open a school to teach Shamanist magic. I want to make sure Benny is able to get a good foundation in it.”
Lina frowned as she sat in one of the comfier chairs, “Why, he's a little young to be showing aptitude in any sort of magic.”
“I know.” Zel said, “But I want it to be up and running in case he does. Seyruun is great if you're interested in White Magic, but not much else.”
“I know what you mean. It's useless to even think about researching Black Magic here.”
“I was able to convince Phil and the ministers that Seyruun would be stronger if it diversified its interests a bit. And to make it even more enticing I threw in the offer to teach orphans and economically disadvantaged youth for free. That got Amelia's firm support, as well as Phil's.”
“So now you're planning on teaching?” Lina asked skeptically.
“Yes, the life of a diplomat was not for me. I still don't know how Amelia puts up with it.”
Lina frowned, “No offense, but I just never saw you as the type who would enjoy teaching children.”
“I used to like children, before Rezo turned me into a chimera and they ran away screaming at the sight of me that is.”
“Oh.” Lina said. An awkward moment passed before she asked, “So, need any help? I have nothing to do but wait for this kid to be born and I'm going a little out of my mind.”
“Pull up a book.”
“I'm going to be pregnant forever.” Lina whined as she sat facing the back of a chair while Gourry rubbed her back.
“Sylphiel said it could be any day now.” Gourry said reassuringly as he started to list the signs that labor was just around the corner. “Your magic is gone, you're carrying low, and…”
“Yes, she said all three weeks ago! And she's been saying it every day since! Why hasn't this kid been born yet? I'm ready! You're ready! Why isn't she here?”
Gourry tried to think of something to say. Privately he agreed with Lina. He was usually very patient, but even he was tiring of waiting. They had been waiting for so long. And he hated seeing Lina so uncomfortable and tired all of the time. Plus, living with a grouchy Lina was not exactly easy. He admitted to thanking his lucky stars that sorceresses lose their powers right before they give birth. He was sure it was a survival mechanism for their spouses. All things considered, he was ready for the baby to arrive. “May be she got lost.” He suggested.
Lina groaned, “How can she get lost? There's only one exit. Unless she inherited your brains.”
“There are worse things.”
There was a knock on the door and Lina smiled, “Come in!”
Sylphiel and Rick walked in, four kids in tow. “Are you two ready?”
“You bet we are!” Lina said as she turned around and grabbed her shoes, which were now too small for her feet, and shoved them in awkwardly.
“We've been looking forward to this all week!” Gourry added.
“I'm rooting for Zefiria this year.” Lina said.
“We're sad to hear it.” Rick said playfully, “Because Seyruun is going to crush you!”
“No way!” Lina challenged, “Zefiria's champion is a prodigal talent this year! Seyruun is going to get thoroughly whipped by the time we're through!”
Gourry helped Lina to her feet and, talking amiably, the group headed out to the Kingdom's Champion Tournament. Every year all of the kingdoms gathered in Seyruun, each one sporting a champion who was the best that individual kingdom had to offer. The champions then competed against each other for the glory of their kingdom in a two day tournament to see who was the best. King Phil said it fostered good relations between the kingdoms and helped ensure the peace. Lina and Gourry just liked the opportunity to watch a lot of sports while eating a lot of good food. And this year it would provide a welcome diversion from waiting for a baby to arrive who was determined to stay put.
The courtyard was abuzz with activity as people eagerly made their way to the stadium, exchanging statistics and making guesses about who would win this year. Street vendors hawked their wares, and the group made a stop for ice cream. By the time they got to the stadium it was already crowded, and people still seemed to be filing in. One of the benefits of being friends with the Seyruun royal family was that they got good box seats that were fairly comfortable.
“Too bad Mr. Zelgadis, Miss Amelia, Miss Gracia and Mr. Charles are to preside over the games and can't be here with us.” Sylphiel said as she got her children settled in.
“Yeah, and those thrones they have to sit in always look so uncomfortable.” Lina added and she sank into her cushioned chair and put her feet up.
“They are. I overheard Mr. Zelgadis complain to Princess Amelia about it once.” Rick added.
“Gourry! Funnel cakes! There's a funnel cake vendor over there, go get me some!” Lina exclaimed excitedly as she pointed to her right. She rubbed her stomach as she ignored a mild cramp.
“Sure thing. Anyone else want one?”
He took everyones' order and left with Rick to get some food. Lina and Sylphiel chatted amiably, raising their voices to hear each other over the noise of the crowd and children. Gourry and Rick returned shortly, arms laden with food and drinks, and quickly distributed it among the occupants of the box. As if on cue, by the time they were settled King Phil stood up to deliver his opening speech.
As usual, it was a long, drawn out speech about justice, and Lina found herself grow impatient for the opening ceremonies to start. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat as she started cramping again. “You okay?” Gourry asked.
“Just tired of listening to this speech. Whew, he's winding down.”
King Phil ended his speech and sat down. The speaker announced each of the champions, and each got their time in the sun as they circled the stadium while the anthem of their kingdom was played and their kinsmen cheered them on. Lina started cramping again as the champions returned to their huts and some dancers came out. Sighing, she got up and started to pace in the back of the box. Fortunately it seemed to help, even if it was back by the time the dancers had finished.
Lina furrowed her brow. This was unusual. “Hey Sylphiel, I keep getting these cramps.”
“Time them.” Sylphiel said calmly. “You might be in early labor.”
“What?” Gourry exclaimed.
“Might?” Lina asked simultaneously.
“They might just be practice contractions or you might be in early labor. We won't know until you time them.” Sylphiel explained.
“Should we go back home?” Gourry asked.
“We'll be fine if we stay here. These things take a long time Mr. Gourry and there's nothing to do at the apartment that we can't do here. When they get close together and stronger then we should head home.”
Lina spent the next hour watching the game and timing contractions. “Sometimes they're twenty minutes apart, other times fifteen, sometimes sixteen.” She sighed.
“Stop timing them for now then. If they get closer together and stronger then we'll time them again. We can go home if you want, or stay here.” Sylphiel said.
“I'm staying here.” Lina said firmly, “I'm tired of the apartment.”
Gourry didn't look too happy but didn't say anything. Sylphiel smiled, “A good choice, this will be a good distraction. Just make sure to get up and walk the box every now and then.”
Lina nodded, and sat back down as the champions lined up on the field to participate in the discus throw. Soon Lina was lost in the competition, cheering on Zefiria and hugging Gourry excitedly when her home kingdom won the first competition. She had some more contractions, but it was no biggy. If this was how contractions felt like then Lina wondered why she had been worrying so much. It was a bit discomforting, but nothing she couldn't handle.
The day drew on. The champions competed valiantly. Lina's contractions kept coming, but they remained irregularly spaced and mild and she was able to thoroughly enjoy herself, even if she was a bit disappointed that when they finished for the day she didn't seem to be any closer to having the baby.
“It's your first time, it will be awhile.” Sylphiel consoled as they walked home. “And even though they aren't much closer together it doesn't mean you didn't get any work done. You're much closer now to holding your baby than you were this morning.”
“Yeah,” Lina said, “I guess. Still, I'm torn. I want this thing out, and I want to see who wins tomorrow. Zefiria has only a narrow lead.”
“We'll give you constant updates!” Uruk piped in.
Lina laughed and ruffled his hair, “Thanks.” She sighed, “Why couldn't this have happened earlier in the week?”
“Babies come when it is least convenient.” Sylphiel said by way of answer.
“So, what should we do tonight?” Gourry asked, his arm protectively around his wife.
“Try and get some sleep. Especially you, Miss Lina. Once those contractions get closer together and more intense you won't be able to. And when they do get stronger, don't hesitate to send for me, no matter what time it is.”
Much to her own surprise, Lina was able to get a good four hours worth of sleep before being woken by a contraction. Her eyes shot open and she put a hand on her stomach as her breath hitched. Gourry sat up, instantly alert. “You okay?”
“Fine.” She gritted, “It's stronger now.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
The pain faded, and Lina relaxed, “Send for Sylphiel and Amelia?”
Gourry patted her hand and grabbed his robe, wrapping it around him as he walked out of the bathroom. Lina lumbered out of bed and to the bathroom to answer nature's call.
“Okay, the guard just left to summon Sylphiel. How are you doing?” Gourry asked as he stood in the frame of the doorway a few minutes later while Lina pulled her long red locks back.
“Fine!” Lina said. She had expected to be more nervous when labor started, but now that it was here she felt relieved that this thing called pregnancy was finally coming to an end. And the energy rush that came with it was powerful! “I popped my mucus plug.”
“Your what?”
Lina rubbed her temples. Of course he wouldn't know what she was talking about. “It means that the baby is getting ready to come out.”
“Now!?” Gourry asked, rising panic in his voice.
“Well, not this very second, no!”
Gourry took a deep breath and relaxed, “Okay, when then?”
“I don't know! A few hours may be.”
Sunshine started to crawl into their apartments a few hours later as Lina's grip on Gourry tightened. He leaned down to kiss the top of her head, rubbing her back gently as he did so, wishing he could do more. They were in their bedroom, dancing slowly, swaying back and forth. Sylphiel said it would help position the baby correctly in Lina's pelvis and was a good way to pass the time during early labor.
While he enjoyed being so close to his wife, he hated it whenever a contraction overtook her. He felt so helpless knowing that she was in pain and there was nothing he could do about it. Worse still, he was responsible for it. If he hadn't gotten her pregnant she wouldn't have been holding him so tightly at that moment. Yes, she had been an equal and willing participant, but nothing he went through compared to what she was going through. And a slight pang of guilt was gnawing at him for it.
It didn't help that the interval of time between contractions was growing shorter. He knew it was actually a good thing, that it meant that Lina was getting closer to having the baby. But it also meant that she was in pain more often now. Her grip loosened and he sighed in relief.
Lina exhaled deeply and nuzzled closer to her husband. She was a little disappointed that the day was starting and she still was not in active labor. When Sylphiel had had Garrett, labor had begun and ended by the time it had taken Lina's own contractions to be spaced ten minutes apart to six. The enthusiasm she felt when she first woke up was starting to wane. As the contractions grew stronger and closer together she grew more and more wary of facing the next one. She was ready for it to be over already, but deep inside she knew she had a long way to go.
She thought about calling out to Sylphiel who was with Amelia in the living room, ready to be called in when needed to ask why she wasn't holding her baby yet. She knew too well what Sylphiel would say. Babies take their time, it was her first pregnancy and labor takes awhile, yadda yadda yadda. Lina didn't want to hear that it would be awhile, she wanted it to be now!
There was a knock on the door. “Yes?” Lina called.
Amelia walked in, looking concerned, “I have to leave for a little bit, just to get the tournament started. I'll be back as soon as I can, unless you really need me to stay.”
Lina felt her stomach drop a bit at the mention of the tournament. Right now she would much rather be heading down there to watch it than stuck in her apartments assaulted by wave after wave of pain. “I think we've got it. Knowing my luck this kid won't get here for awhile. Try not to have too much fun.”
Amelia walked over and patted her on the shoulder, “I'll be back as soon as I can, I promise! Do you need me to send Sylphiel in?”
“Nah, we're fine.” Lina said dismissively.
No sooner had Amelia left than did the pain start to build again, from the top of her stomach down to her pelvis. Lina moaned and held Gourry tighter, “It's not fair, I really wanted to see Zefiria win…”
Her voice trailed off as the pain peaked to the point that she couldn't speak anymore. She squeezed her eyes shut as she stopped swaying as she wondered desperately when it would end.
“Lina?” Gourry asked, trying to keep the alarm from his voice. When she didn't answer he called for Sylphiel.
The pain subsided as soon as she entered. “I'm all right.” Lina said as she caught her breath, breaking away from Gourry to sit on the bed. “That was just a strong one.”
“Is that normal?” Gourry asked.
Sylphiel smiled, “It probably means you're moving into active labor.”
“So in other words I can expect more like it?”
Sylphiel put an arm around her and gave her a side hug. “Why don't I draw a bath for you? It helps.”
“I'm willing to try anything!” Lina exclaimed.
By that afternoon Lina was thanking her lucky stars she had insisted on traveling to Seyruun so Sylphiel could be her midwife. Lina wasn't sure what it was exactly, but being in the water helped. She was convinced that it was the one thing that made it endurable.
Gourry was sitting just outside the tub, holding her hand and talking with her between contractions, and offering words of support and encouragement while she was going through one. She had just finished having one when Sylphiel walked in with some water and jello. “Are you up for a little food?”
“I'll take some water.” Lina muttered.
Sylphiel handed her the cup and left the plate of jello by the tub in case she changed her mind. “Lunch has been brought up and is in the living room, Mr. Gourry.”
“It's lunch time?” Lina shrieked as she sat up a little straighter, “And this thing still isn't out?”
Gourry looked at Sylphiel worriedly. Sylphiel remained calm as she patted Lina's knee, “These things take time.”
“These things take time.” Lina spat back mockingly as she fought back tears, “Just go already and eat your lunch, both of you!”
Gourry opened his mouth to say something but Sylphiel put a hand on his arm and led him outside. “Don't take it personally.” She said once they were settled into the living room. “She's tired and all sorts of hormones are coursing through her. I'm surprised it took her this long to snap at us considering how short her temper is when she isn't in labor.”
Gourry grabbed a drumstick and bit into it without his usual appetite. “I just feel so useless.”
“Right now the best thing we can do for her is give her some space. She'll let us know when she needs us again.” Sylphiel replied as she grabbed an apple and inspected it.
“That doesn't change the fact that I feel about as helpless as I did when Copy Rezo nearly killed her.” He said through another bite of chicken.
“And you got through it.” Sylphiel reminded him.
Gourry smiled, “Yeah. And the prize then was rather sweet. She survived.”
“And this one will be sweeter still.”
They both jumped as someone knocked on the door. Sylphiel exhaled, “Thank goodness, I think Amelia is finally back.”
“Come in.” Gourry said.
Sure enough, Amelia walked in, her cheeks flushed as though she had rushed to get there. “I'm not too late am I? It was harder to get away than I thought it would be!”
Sylphiel laughed a little, “I think Miss Lina would prefer that you were too late. She's in the bathroom, hard at work.”
“While you two slack off and have lunch?” Amelia asked.
“She got a little upset when she realized it was the afternoon and the baby hadn't arrived.”
“Oh, I see, she gave you the boot!” Amelia said as she grabbed a drumstick for herself. “Do you think she'll mind if I pop in there and give her an update?”
“You're welcome to try. At your own risk.”
“Who is winning?” Gourry asked.
“Zefiria.” Amelia replied.
“She'll definitely be glad to hear it.”
“I'll see how she's doing then.” Amelia said as she finished her chicken and set the bone down on an empty plate.
“Good luck!” Sylphiel called out.
Lina was leaning forward in the tub, eyes squeezed shut and hands wrapped tightly at the edges when Amelia walked in. Tears leaked from her eyes as she focused on her breathing. Amelia quietly sat down beside the tub and waited until her friend relaxed again. Eventually she slouched back and took a deep, grounding breath. “Every time I think that they can't get any more painful, another one comes that proves me wrong.” Lina said, her voice drained of energy.
Amelia grabbed a washcloth and dipped it into the water and started to wipe her friend's brow. “It sounds horrible.”
“It is!” Lina exclaimed, “And do you know what's worse?”
“Usually when I'm in pain, someone or some monster is causing it, and I can turn around and hurt them right back and make them stop! But now it's my own body, and I can't do anything but let it happen and breathe through it!” Lina stopped herself then. She didn't want to voice how powerless she felt. “Can you help me out? The water is getting cold, and I'm getting tired of being in here.”
“Of course.” Amelia replied as she stood up and gave Lina a hand. “Zefiria is in the lead.” She said casually as she handed her a towel.
Lina smiled as she wrapped it around herself, “That is good news. Was it an exciting match?”
Amelia put an arm around her for support as they walked into the bedroom and Lina grabbed one of Gourry's shirts and put it on. “It was too easy for Zefiria's champion if you ask me. No real drama about who will win.”
“That's because you're rooting for Seyruun.”
“Eh, I guess I'll forgive you. But only since Zefiria is winning. So, how…”
She was cut off by another contraction. Following nothing but her instinct that it would help, she knelt over the bed. Amelia moved to help support her, rubbing her back and saying a bit too cheerfully, “My sis liked this position when she was in labor. She spent most of her time in it. You're doing great! Come on, keep breathing…”
“Shut…up!” Lina finally managed to spit out, and Amelia complied, waiting quietly for it to pass.
“This sucks!” Lina spat when it finally did. “I'm tired of doing this! Hasn't it gone on long enough?”
“May be we should get Miss Sylphiel…”
“Sylphiel, get your ass in here!” Lina yelled at the top of her lungs.
Amelia back away a little. She remembered whenever Gracia would get to this point, and it was never pleasant. Sylphiel walked in calmly, Gourry following looking panic stricken as he knelt beside Lina.
“What is it?”
“Why isn't she out yet?” Lina demanded, “I've been at this for over a day now, why isn't it over?”
“I don't know…” Sylphiel began.
“It's my hips, isn't it? They're not big enough.”
“No, that's not it at all, Miss Lina. It took me three days to have Uruk. Some labors take their time. Yours is one of them.”
“Three days?” Lina groaned, “I don't think I can do that this long.”
Sylphiel moved closer to Lina and put a hand on her back, “You're strong. You've done things no other human has done. You've slain Dark Lords that no human ever dreamed of defeating. You've channeled the power of the Dark Lord of all Dark Lords and lived to tell the tale. You've nearly died how many times and came back fighting. Ordinary women don't do those things, yet they have babies every day. You're stronger and more powerful than them, therefore I know you can do this.”
Lina's eyes took a more determined look as she weighed Sylphiel's words. Then she felt silly with herself. Wasting away in self pity wouldn't get this baby delivered. “Okay, but is there anything I can do to speed this along?”
And so the day dragged on. Lina and Gourry took a walk, stopping every time Lina had a contraction so she could focus on it. Lina spent some time squatting during contractions with physical support from either Gourry, Amelia, or Sylphiel. She swore she went through Sylphiel's repertoire of birth positions, but as day turned to dusk she felt in her gut that the child would not arrive that night.
She eventually lay in bed on her side, her left leg supported by pillows. She was too tired to yell and scream. Gourry walked over to Sylphiel, and with a nervous glance at Lina asked quietly, “Is there anything you can do.”
Sylphiel nodded, and walked over to Lina. “Do you mind if I check to see how much you've dilated?”
“I thought you said that was usually discouraging in slow labors.” Lina replied, her voice devoid of its usual spark.
“It is.”
Lina shook her head, not sure where Sylphiel was going with it but not really caring by that point, “Go ahead.”
Sylphiel frowned as she checked her friend, “I hate to tell you this, but it's still going to be awhile.”
Lina groaned. Gourry grabbed her hand and patted it. Sylphiel continued, “I think it might help if I put you under a light sleep spell. You're exhausted and I'm afraid you won't have any energy to push when it's time.”
Lina gawked, “You can put me under a sleep spell? So you mean I could have slept through all this?”
“Labor isn't a precise science. You could have been slow to progress one moment and, faster than you can believe, read to deliver the next. It's a little risky so I usually don't advise it unless someone has been laboring as long as you have and still looks as though they have a long way to go.”
“Risky?” Gourry asked.
Lina ignored him, “Do it!”
Sylphiel smiled comfortingly at Gourry, “Don't worry, it's only a light one. It won't hurt her or the baby.”
Gourry looked torn. He didn't want Lina to suffer anymore, and he didn't want the sleep spell to make it worse. He looked at Lina and noted how tired and drained she looked. “Whatever she wants.” He eventually said.
“Sleeping!” Sylphiel yelled, and Lina went limp. Gourry rubbed a hand along her arm, hoping that it would help.
“You should get some sleep too, Mr. Gourry. And you, Miss Amelia. I'll stay up to make sure everything stays okay.”
“I can trade off with you in a few hours.” Amelia said as she headed to the living room to sleep on the couch.
“Thanks.” Sylphiel said as she settled into a comfortable chair and pulled out a book she had brought.
Gourry slowly settled beside Lina in bed and drifted off into a nervous, light sleep.
Something wet was coursing down her legs. Lina's eyes flew open as panic seized her. Had she wet herself? Then she remembered the long hours she had spent in labor. Her water must have finally broken! Before she had time to look at the clock to see how much time had passed, a contraction hit her like a pile of bricks. The intensity of the previous ones didn't hold a candle to it and she screamed.
“Lina!” Gourry cried as he grabbed her hand. She held it so tightly he felt it would break.
Sylphiel said. “This is good.”
“Good?” Gourry shot back as Amelia stormed in. “She's shivering.”
“She's transitioning.” Sylphiel replied. “Miss Amelia, you ought to break out the blankets now.”
“Right!” Amelia replied, and off she raced to the bathroom.
Lina relaxed, “What the hell…”
“You're transitioning. It means you'll be pushing really soon. It's almost over.” Sylphiel said reassuringly.
Sylphiel smiled, “This is the worst part. I promise it will be over soon.”
“It's so cold. Oh my…” she leaned over the bed suddenly and threw up.
Sylphiel took it in stride, “Well need a few more towels, and some cleaner!” she called out to Amelia.
“That's normal right?” Gourry asked.
“You didn't, when you had…oh dammit!”
Gourry rubbed her back with one hand while the other felt as though it was being crushed. He decided that Sylphiel had better be right when she said this would be over soon. Sylphiel and Amelia cleaned up the floor as Lina made it through another contraction.
The next ten minutes seemed to be some of the longest in Lina and Gourrys' lives. The contractions were coming hard and fast, and Lina barely had time to rest between them. Eventually she stopped shivering and Sylphiel proclaimed that it would not be long now and that when she felt the urge she should push.
Not trusting her legs to stand, Lina lay on her left side, with Gourry sitting on the bed beside her so she could see him. A sudden surge of energy ran through her, followed by a strong urge to push. Lina grunted and surrendered to it, relishing it slightly. Before the contractions had seemed like some overpowering force that she had to submit to. But now that she had to push there was something to do. Something that she could control. She felt as though she had regained her power and pushed with everything she had as Amelia supported her left leg and Sylphiel spoke words of encouragement.
Lina was on the homestretch, she could feel it in her bones. While she used to relish the time between contractions, now she was annoyed by it. She just wanted to push and push and get it over with and behind her.
Gourry held both of her hands, glad to see that Lina was rallying. She definitely had gained her momentum back. Gradually the worry and concern became replaced with pride in the woman he had chosen to marry. When Sylphiel finally announced that she could see the head his heart seemed to swell.
Lina sighed in relief. It wouldn't be long now. There was another contraction, and she suddenly felt a burning sensation as she was stretched further than she ever dreamed possible as the baby crowned. She screamed, and held Gourry's hands tighter. Finally she her nether regions went numb and she exhaled. Now that that unpleasantness was over she was ready to push despite not feeling the urge. She was that close and she just wanted it out! Therefore, Sylphiel's directive was rather unwelcome, “Breathe it out, do not push!”
“What do you mean do not push?” Lina spat back. “I have to get her out!”
“You'll tear.” Sylphiel said as she applied counter pressure, “Just blow out one contraction, I promise.”
“Dammit, Sylphiel, I…” yet Lina found herself blowing out through the next contraction, cursing Sylphiel in her mind the whole time as she did so. As soon as it past she opened her mouth and let a stream of expletives fly in Sylphiel's direction.
Sylphiel ignored her. “Miss Lina,”
“You're good to push as much as you like now.”
Lina snarled. Boy was she ever ready! When the next contraction hit she pushed with all she had. This time it was Gourry who squeezed her hands harder. “The head is out!” he said, his voice tinged with a hint of awe.
“That's it, Miss Lina, the hard part is over, it's all downhill from here!” Amelia exclaimed encouragingly.
“Thank goodness!” Lina muttered. Another contraction and she felt her child slide from her. A cry pierced the air, and for the first time that night it was not from Lina. Lina collapsed onto her back and closed her eyes as a great feeling of relief washed through her. “I did it!' she whispered.
Sylphiel put the baby on her stomach. “You were right, Miss Lina. It's a girl!”
“A future champion of justice is born!” Amelia added.
Lina opened her eyes and felt them well with tears as she stared at the tiny baby on her belly. A rush of love like nothing she had ever experienced coursed through her. Gourry slid an arm around her and kissed Lina's forehead. She looked up and found that tears were running down his cheeks as he reached out to touch his daughter.
Lina looked back down and watched in amazement as the baby crawled up her belly and to her breast. “Try to feed her.” Sylphiel said encouragingly.
Lina barely had to try and do anything. The small baby seemed to instinctively find her breast and latched on, sucking eagerly. Lina felt tears erupt from her like a dam as she cradled her. All of the pain and agony of the previous days was forgiven.
Sylphiel smiled, “Amazing! It took me a full month to get the hang of feeding Uruk. You two seemed to know what to do instantly.”
“Well, she is Miss Lina and Mr. Gourrys' daughter, of course she'd be born ready and knowing how to eat.” Amelia said jovially.
Lina looked at Sylphiel, her eyes shining. She wanted to thank her. But the words wouldn't come. Rare were the times when she was too overwhelmed to speak. This was one of them. She was distracted by Gourry nuzzling his head against her neck. Like her, he seemed too wound up to speak.
Sylphiel and Amelia exchanged a tired glance and backed away a bit to give the new family their bonding time. There was still plenty to do, but it could wait.
………………………&# 8230;.
“Here they are!” Amelia said perkily as she lead Zel, Phil, Rick, Gracia, and Charles into Lina and Gourrys' room.
“Took you long enough.” Zel said teasingly to Lina.
“Yes, I decided to be stuck in labor for forty hours just to keep you in suspense.” Lina said dryly.
It was hard to tell that just a few hours ago the room had been a torrent of chaos and frenzy as Lina had given birth. Sylphiel and Amelia had cleaned up the bedroom quite nicely. Once the placenta had been delivered, Sylphiel had cast a healing spell on Lina while Gourry bathed and dressed the baby. Lina had then taken a bath herself and donned a fresh set of pajamas and had washed, dried, and combed her hair. Now the room seemed a sea of calm and happiness.
“Can I hold her?” Gracia asked.
“Only if you promise not to break her.” Lina replied as she handed the baby to her.
“What are you going to call her?” Phil asked.
Lina looked at Gourry, who smiled as he said, “Lucia. After my grandmother.”
“A good name! I like it when people honor their ancestors in such a fashion.” He said approvingly.
“Wow, she's beautiful, Lina.” Gracia said, and then with wicked glint in her eye added, “She looks just like her Aunt Luna!”
Lina sat up straighter, panic in her eyes, “No she doesn't!”
Zel walked over to Gracia and examined Lucia closely. “Purple hair, can't tell about the eyes because you never see Luna's. It's hard to say for sure but I think Gracia is right. She does resemble Luna. It's a rather eerie resemblance actually.”
“Zel!” Amelia said warningly.
Lina's eyebrow ticked as she gritted, “She does not look a thing like my sister!”
“Okay guys,” Sylphiel cut in, “It's been a rough few days, let's lay off.”
Phil took a long look at the newborn and said genuinely, “Well, my daughter is right about her being beautiful. Congrats!”
Gourry couldn't stop grinning as he watched Lina feed Lucia after all of their guests had finally left. He couldn't begin to put into words how proud he was of his wife. Sylphiel might be right that women have babies every day, but that didn't make what she had just done any less incredible. He often felt in awe of Lina. He'd first felt it when she defeated Shabranigdo. And again when she had used the Ragna Blade against Gaav. He used to be surprised when she found a new way to amaze him. Now he just wondered when the next time would be.
And this time it was different. Before she awed him by defeating powerful monsters. Now she had brought a new life into the world. Life instead of destruction. And from someone with Lina's reputation, it was even more amazing.
Better still, the child was his. They were finally a family.
Lina looked up and saw him staring at her. “What?” she asked with a smile.
“Can't I just stare in amazement at the two women I love most in the world?” he asked as he slid in bed beside her.
“I guess.” She said teasingly as she finished feeding Lucia, caressing her cheek as she did so. Her heart melted again as she yawned. Part of her still couldn't believe that she was actually here, despite all of the work she had put into bringing her there. “So you're happy it's a girl?”
“Delighted!” Gourry replied as Lucia drifted off to sleep.
Lina raised an eyebrow, “Oh?”
“Now that you have her you won't want to dress me up all of the time!”
Lina laughed, “Come to think of it, I got the cutest gown that she'll look adorable in!”
He turned her face slightly so he could kiss her on the lips. When they pulled away Lina rubbed his arm. “Love you.”
“Love you.”
“I guess I should put her in the bassinet and we should get some rest.” Lina said as she gazed at her sleeping daughter.
“In a little bit. I want to look at her for a little bit longer.”
“Do you want to hold her?”
Gourry reached his hands out in response, and Lina handed Lucia over. Lina watched them silently for a moment. She'd never doubted that Gourry would be a good father. Yet watching him with their own child was overpowering. There were moments in life when you knew that you made the right decision, this was one of them.
“You don't think she looks like Sis, do you?” Lina asked.
Gourry smiled, “I think she looks like you!” he lied.