By: Zen Clarke
From:Fire by Kristin Cashore
Rating: All Ages
Summary: Fire's not been feeling well, and the cause is rather shocking. She's soon going to have to make a very hard decision, that might break her heart, as well as Brigan's. ***WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR END OF BOOK***
Fire cradled her head in her hands. She was sitting on her bed, breathing shallowly. She thought she might vomit at any moment. Brigan, her husband of two months, walked into their room, and froze when he saw her rocking back and forth.
"Fire?" He was quickly at her side. Musa, Neel, and Margo as it was not very fitting of the newly crowned Queen Mila to still be on guard for the Lady Monster did their usual blending into the surroundings.
What's wrong, love? he thought to her.
I'm just not feeling well, she replied simply. It was true. Her head was pounding, her muscles ached, and she felt endlessly nauseas. She managed to lift her head slightly to look at him and smiled softly. It's probably just pre-bleeding symptoms. I'm overdue
. Speaking of this stuff to him was awkward, but he took it in stride, and nodded. He kissed her softly on the head.
"Did you come in here for a particular reason, my Lord?" He nodded, clapping his hands together.
"Nash is throwing a birthday party for Liv." Fire smiled. Before the baby had even been born, Nash had taken on the roll of the child's father. Now that he truly was, by marriage, he felt that the twelve month old babe should have a spectacular party.
"When will it be?" Fire asked.
"One week's time. Think you'll be feeling well enough for it by then?" She smiled again, and nodded. "Lovely." He leaned close and kissed her softly. Fire's guard tried to blend even further into the walls. Brigan then turned on his heel, and walked out of the room.
"My Lady?" Musa asked softly.
"Would you like me to fetch a Healer?" She looked up into her older friend's understanding eyes.
"No, thank you, Musa." She nodded, then sat down next to Fire and rubbed her back comfortingly.
Fire was in fact not feeling better the next day, nor the day after that, nor the day after that. The day before Liv's birthday bash, Fire was doubled over in the bathroom, throwing up the remnants of Tess's once delicious French toast. Brigan squatted down behind her, holding her hair back from her face, and stroking her back softly. He sighed, sadly.
When she no longer had anything left in her stomach, Fire found that the cool tile floor appeared to be very inviting and laid her cheek against it.
"I wish you felt better, Love." He laid down next to her and held her hand.
"I wish I did, too. I don't know what's the matter with me." Brigan took one of her hands and kissed it softly.
"Would you like a Healer now?" She sighed, sadly, and nodded. He kissed her chastely, then stood and lifted her as well, carried her to their bed, and set her down.
The Healer came, green tunic and all, an hour later. He was an older man, with big ears and an even bigger nose. Fire had seen him many times before in the hospitals during her visits. He seemed to be one of the best. She shook her head with a small chuckle.
The first thing he did was kick Brigan out of the room. It was not an easy task, getting the Lord Prince to leave his ailing wife, but the Healer was persistent, insisting that he might feel uncomfortable with some of the questions he was required to ask.
"So, My Lady. When was the last time you had your bleedings?" Fire rubbed her head, thinking.
"Thirty-eight days, I believe." The Healer nodded, rubbing his chin. He asked several more questions over the next half hour, before he finally put down the clipboard he had been writing on.
"I think I ought to take a bit of your blood, and check to see if it might reveal anything more to us." She nodded, stretched out her arm, and turned her head away as she felt the needle break through her skin. And with one final sympathetic smile, the Healer shuffled out of the room.
Sayre, Garan's wife, quickly filled the doorway, quite literally. She put a hand to her large belly, and sat down on the edge of Fire's bed.
"How're you doing?" she asked, a warm smile on her face.
"I feel like I've been run over by Big," Fire said with a laugh. Sayre joined in on the laughing.
"I know that story." Fire felt Sayre's baby shift suddenly. It was something she hadn't felt happen in a while. There were many pregnant women around her, yes. But despite her growing reputation as the 'monster protector of the Dells' (a title that still made her want to crawl under her covers in embarrassment), the women still tended to avoid her. Not out of hatred now. More out of intimidation. Something occurred to Fire quite suddenly. So suddenly, in fact, that she was surprised she hadn't thought of it before.
"Rocks," she breathed. Sayre tilted her head, her smile disappearing.
"What is it?"
"I should've realized it sooner!" She laughed and shook her head. When she looked back at Sayre, the very pregnant woman looked puzzled. She smiled at her. "I know why I've been feeling so ill. It's because of you!" Sayre's face could have made her, at that moment, the poster child for Confusions 'R' Us. She laughed. "A little over one year ago, when Ladies Clara and Mila became pregnant, I was so close to them that I began to share
sympathy pains, I suppose you'd call them." She laughed again, and threw back the covers. "Now that I've realized that this is simply sympathy pains, I suddenly feel a lot better." Sayre smiled, but cocked her head.
"Are you sure they're
sympathy pains this time?" Fire's face fell.
"If only they weren't," she said softly. "I've longed to have a child for a long time. But I know that it would be too dangerous; for everyone. A monster can only bear a monster." She looked up with sad eyes. "I took the medicines to never have a child a little over one year ago. Besides," her face lit up suddenly, as Hanna ran through the door, "I already have a daughter."
"Fire! Daddy says that we get to get all pretty tomorrow night!" Fire reached down and picked the little girl up.
"That's right," Fire replied, smiling.
"Aunt Sayre, do you get to be pretty, too?" The other woman laughed and nodded to her niece.
"I thought putting on fancy dresses made you restless?" Fire tilted her head at her husband's daughter.
"It does," the girl confessed. "But I heard that Endal danced with Melke at the Winter Gala because she wore a pretty dress." She pouted. "I don't like Melke." The two older women shared a knowing smile.
"Well then," Sayre said, smiling, "we better make sure your dress is prettier than Melke's."
As the three of them discussed ideas, Fire thought, for a split second, she felt a fifth presence in the room. Her nose scrunched up in confusion, and looked around. There was Sayre and her unborn child, Hanna, and herself. It wasn't even a fully formed mind that she felt; just a sudden glowing of warmth and love, and she was pretty sure it wasn't coming from her own mind. Her eyebrows furrowed, as she tried to focus on it, but, as quickly as it had come, it vanished. She suddenly felt Hanna tugging on her hand, saying something about trying on dresses. She forced a smile, and tried to forget what had just happened.
As Fire sat next to Brigan the following night at Liv's birthday party, she came to the conclusion that even if you realized you were having sympathy pains, it did not stop them from continuing. She leaned her head on Brigan's shoulder.
If you don't feel well, we can leave, he thought to her.
I'm okay. Besides, I can't do that to Nash and Mila, she thought back. He sighed, and gave her shoulder a squeeze.
Brigan, Fire, and her guard ended up leaving shortly thereafter, as Fire found herself ready to throw up at the sight of the carrot cake. Brigan allowed Hanna to stay under the watchful eye of Tess and his siblings.
He called the Healer back to their room. When he came in, the old man was smiling knowingly.
"My dear, I've found the cause of your illness." Brigan took Fire's hand softly, looking at the Healer worriedly. "Don't fret, Lord Prince. This kind of thing happens everyday."
"Is it some kind of flu?" Fire asked, slightly confused. He chuckled, softly.
"Lady Princess, you are going to have a child."
The first thing Fire felt was worry. But then, even more powerfully, she felt complete and utter relief. She was overjoyed. It was one of the few things she longed for that she didn't and many times told herself she couldn't have. Then, she remembered the medicines she had taken before.
"But," she started, "I took the medicines to stop child bearing forever. I can't be pregnant." The old Healer looked at her, confused.
"My Lady, what ever made you think those would work on you?" He gave her a soft smile, as Brigan's eyebrows narrowed. "I mean no disrespect, your Highness. I simply mean that she is not exactly like everyone else." Fire felt herself leaning back into Brigan's strong arms.
"I don't understand." The Healer rubbed his scruffy chin thoughtfully.
"My Lady, your hair." She looked at him with wide eyes, touching her headscarf. "Have you ever thought of simply shaving it all off? Wear a simple brown or blonde wig, or even orange-red one that's not as bright as your hair?" She opened her mouth, but he continued before she had a chance to speak, "Because it grows back quickly. From what I've heard, when you got shot in the arm with an arrow, you were back to shooting arrows in little over a week. You heal extraordinarily quickly. So, while the medicine you took might have worked for a time, they were not permanent." He stood up and headed for the door. "Now, on the one hand, having your monster baby might be dangerous. But on the other hand, you weren't like your father. Everyone makes their own path. I can get you the herbs to terminate your pregnancy, but," he looked at Brigan for a moment, and then back to Fire, "I do insist that you think about it." And with that, he left.
Fire and Brigan sat on the bed for a long while, keeping their thoughts to themselves. After some time, Brigan spoke quietly.
"Do you want me to get the herbs?" She could hear the sadness in his voice.
"I don't know," she said honestly. "I need to think about this." He nodded stiffly, and quickly bent to kiss her forehead.
The next day, Brigan left with the First Branch. Hanna was at her lessons, and the rest of the royal family was busy with a very confused milk deliverer that had ended up at the front doorstep.
Fire found herself sitting on the bench in front of her house, staring up at the giant tree. Silence filled the air around her, except for the birds, and quite suddenly, the sound of heels. She looked around to see her grandmother, Tess, walking towards her with a book under her arm. She sat down next to Fire, and placed the book in her lap. Fire blinked at it, then looked up at her grandmother, confused.
"Well, open it," she said bluntly. The younger woman blinked again, then opened it, only to gasp sharply at what she saw.
"They're called photographs. They've been around for the past hundred or so years, but only the truly elite royalty have them. King Nash and Prince Brigan have been nagging Prince Garan to put more money into making the photoboxes that take them, but, well," she tilted her head and raised her eyebrow at Fire, "you know Garan." Fire laughed, before returning her gaze to the photos.
The one in the middle, and largest of the ones surrounding it, was of a woman, rather plain in appearance, standing next to a man who had an unnatural beauty. His hair was bright green, like the grass surrounding Fire's feet. In his arms, he held a baby, but Fire couldn't make out what the baby looked like.
"They're your other grandparents." Fire looked at her with wide eyes.
"So, then, the baby is--"
"Cansrel, yes." Fire turned back to the album and touched the photograph softly. "You know, Cansrel was nothing like his parents. Nax was nothing like his. And you, nor Prince Brigan, nor King Nash are like yours. Jessa, your mother, wasn't even like me sometimes." Fire looked up at Tess with sad eyes. The older woman took her hand in hers, and smiled softly. "The truth is, there's a bad seed in every bunch. You just have to trust that you raise your child right, and push them in the right direction. It's up to them to choose how they'll end up, just like you chose." She gave her hand a squeeze. With that, she stood and made her way into the green house, muttering something about lunch.
Fire watched her, a small smile breaking out on her face. She made her decision.
While Brigan was gone over the next two months. Fire wrote him often, but when he wrote back, asking what she had decided, she always danced around the question. He figured that she had decided to terminate the pregnancy, and was, honestly, deeply saddened. He had always felt that having a baby was one of the most beautiful ways to express your love (one of many reasons why he'd wanted to strangle the late Archer when he'd found out both his sister and best guard were impregnated by him carelessly). He also knew how Fire felt about the situation, and knew her mixed feelings on the matter. So you can imagine his surprise, when he came home.
The first thing he saw was Fire, as beautiful as ever, smiling at him. The next thing he saw was Hanna's black hair, as she flew into his arms and blocked his vision. He tried to calm her fast chatter, only catching bits and pieces because she was talking so fast. Something about
Blotchy being pregnant? Wait, didn't they get him fixed? And wasn't Blotchy a boy? Just as quickly as she had come, Hanna was down out of his arms, and moved out of the way for Fire to fill his arms.
I missed you, he thought to her softly.
We missed you, too, she replied gently. She pulled away and looked into his eyes smiling. He blinked, confused. Brigan
. She took his hand and held it to her stomach. He realized, with a jolt, that her stomach was slightly larger than it had been when he'd left. His eyes shot up to hers.
I couldn't. She smiled at him, and he returned it with a huge one of his own. He scooped her up into his arms and spun her around.
"Hey! Why didn't I get a hug like that?" Hanna pouted. Brigan laughed, kissed Fire on the lips, then picked up his daughter, keeping one arm around his wife.
"My girls," he said wistfully. They walked into the house together, listening to Hanna's constant string of words.
Sweat trickled down Fire's nose, and she breathed shakily, resting her head against her pillow. A baby's crying filled the air. The old Healer cleaned the baby, then Fire's arms were filled with the tiny creature. Brigan stroked Fire's matted red hair.
"It's a boy," he whispered to her softly. She opened her eyes slowly, and looked down at the child. His hair was the darkest blue she had ever seen. It reminded her of the midnight sky that she often looked up at while she and Brigan had one of their nightly chats. There were streaks of silver in it, which reminded her of the stars. She gave a small smile.
"He's beautiful." Brigan leaned over and gave her a soft kiss on the head.
"Just like his mother." She gave a shallow laugh. She decided the blue of his hair had actually come from Brigan. It was a dark blue, and had a few bits of black in it. While pure black wouldn't have been very monsterish, the blue was. At least, that's how she liked to think of it. "What shall we name him?"
"Don't you want to pick?" She looked up at him curiously. He laughed.
"We can name him together."
"I want his name to have something to do with the night sky," she said thoughtfully. He looked at the ceiling for a moment, thinking.
"Rajnish," he said after a moment. He turned his gaze back down to her. "It means 'lord of the night' in the Pikkian language." She smiled softly, and looked back down to the baby.
"I like it. Rajnish." She saw Hanna peeking in quietly around the door. She smiled at her daughter, and nodded for her to come in. The little girl scurried in the door and slowed, suddenly, as she approached the bed. She watched the baby shyly, reaching out a cautious hand to touch his tiny fingers.
"What's his name?" she whispered.
"Rajnish." She mouthed the word to herself in awe, and gave a small squeal when her baby brother wrapped his fingers around her one finger. She grinned a large grin.
Truthfully, Fire was grateful that she had had a boy. She would have loved to have a girl, but she knew from her own experiences that being a Lady Monster was much harder than being a Lord Monster. Plus, it would be someone to keep the boys away from Hanna.
Her thoughts turned to Archer, and her heart leadened somewhat. If he could see her now, she thought, what would he think? Would he be happy? Angry? Jealous? Proud? Witty? She sighed, softly, and snuggled closer under Brigan's arm. He gave her another kiss on the head.
He would've been proud, he thought to her, as if he could read her mind.
I thought I was the mind reader, she thought to him, a small grin playing at her lips. He returned it mischievously. He then took the baby from her arms, and took Hanna's hand.
"Come on, Love. Fire needs to rest," he said to her softly. The little girl nodded, and followed him to the door. She hesitated for a moment when Brigan began to lead her into the hall, and quickly ran back into the room. She stood on tiptoe and whispered quietly to Fire,
"I love you, Mama," and gave her a quick peck on the cheek, then scampered back out to Brigan's waiting hand. Fire lay in the bed, shocked, but with a warm, glowing feeling in the pit of her stomach. That was the first time she had ever been called 'Mama.' She decided she liked the sound of it very much.