As it turned out, Queen Azula really was with child! We were all a little startled given the vast age difference between John and this new baby but the King was over the moon and the Queen gave every appearance of being happy. A small part of me suspected her of some sort of plot - perhaps she was hoping for a Prince that could some how become heir if Adam were out of the picture. I couldn't help but be leery of her though - she had made it quite clear from the onset that she had no love for me, nor would she ever.
Of course, it wasn't long at all before I was feeling rather under the weather myself.
While I would love to believe that I was also with child, I couldn't imagine it would happen that quickly! We'd only been married a very short time after all. So I put the notion out of my mind as much as possible. Soon the nausea seem to go away and I was surprised at how sad I was about this. Though I hadn't let myself believe I was carrying a little prince or princess, the idea that I WASN'T depressed me.
I turned my attention to the piano, as I often liked to do when I was feeling at all emotional. Adam told me he could tell when I was angry with him, though I couldn't ever remember a time that I was angry with him, based on the tone of my songs. I suppose he must be right though as the King himself stopped me to ask me what was the matter on that day.
I smiled sweetly at him and assured him that I was just fine - though a little melancholy. With a fake smile I asked after the queen and made small talk until he was called away on some purpose or another and I returned to the seat in front of the piano.
I was halfway through another lengthy piece when I was struck again by the nausea - this time it was much more intense though!
I waited another week before I consulted with the royal physician and, based on my symptoms, he confirmed my suspicions. I thanked him many time times before I ran off through the castle looking for Adam.
"Princess!" the physician called after me. "Mind the running!" he cautioned but I was already so far away that I barely heard his caution. I wish I had though as I found myself winded quickly and very light headed. I stopped and leaned against the cold wall while I composed myself. After a moment's respite, I continued on, this time more slowly.
Finally I spotted my beloved and smiled broadly as I approached. "What's got you so very happy today my love?" he asked, kissing my cheek in greeting.
"Well, I've just been consulting with the physician as I've been feeling so poorly...and we both agree that I'm with child." I announced.
Adam was thrilled and immediately crouched to touch my (non-existent) belly and talk to the little prince or princess. I couldn't help but to laugh at him as it was unlikely the babe could hear him but it was charming to watch. "What would you like my love?" he asked, "A little prince or a darling princess?"
"Oh whichever" I said with a smile, I wasn't really particular. "I'm sure, in time, we'll have at least one or two of each."
Adam nodded and then pulled me close to him. "You have made me very happy this day." he said, "As you do every day."
The pregnancy was a happy time filled with parties and feasts of all kinds. The kingdom was overjoyed as the news of not one but two royal pregnancies spread. I found out rather quickly that I was hungry - all the time. It became such a bother to constantly be calling for food that I began asking them to leave bowls of fruit so that I might have an easier time getting a snack. Apples were a particular favorite of mine and soon almost every bowl contained primarily apples to try and please me.
The Queen, though she generally appeared content with her pregnancy, did not seem so overjoyed as I might expect. I chided myself every time I thought such things but it couldn't be helped, I simply couldn't find the will to trust the woman!
The illness that had gripped the king before returned, taking him to his sick bed. The physicians argued for some time about what was to be done as both the queen and I were too far progressed to travel so very far away and the king was too ill to be moved. They feared that such a journey would be devastating for all of us. So the King was quarantined to his apartment and neither the Queen, nor I, were allowed anywhere near him lest we become ill ourselves. As much as I longed to go to his side and comfort him or read to him, Adam assured me this was for the best and that he was well tended.
"Now my dear, how are you and how does our little princess fair?" he asked, rubbing my belly.
"You don't know she's a princess." I teased. For some time Adam had settled on the notion that we would have a Princess first and that Princes would follow her.
"Oh but I do." he replied. "She'll be fair and beautiful like her mother, with golden hair like the sun."
"With pink tips?" I asked fingering my own hair.
"Of course." he said with a smile. His smile faltered when he saw me arching my back and rubbing a particularly sore spot. "Let me help.." he said as he began the most enjoyable back massage I'd ever had.
The king's health did not improve as everyone had hoped and the whole household was thrown into a bit of disarray. Where the piano used to bring me comfort, I found it arduous instead and stomped away from it after only a few moments. Adam, on the other hand, seemed to find some comfort in it - though he wasn't particularly good.
In an effort to find my own distraction, I picked up a book in the library. I put it down again after I stared at the same page for some ten minutes without having read a word. I pitted myself against one of the knights in a round of chess. I imagine I would have lost if the knight hadn't done all he could to ensure my haphazard victory. It simply didn't suit.
As the stars sparkled in the evening sky, I returned to the very scope Adam and I had gazed through before and turned my eye to the heavens. And there I found my comfort. Somehow, though I can't fathom how, the stars kept my mind so engaged that I was able to pass the evening without worrying about the King's worsening condition.
The king had been ill for some weeks and Queen Azula had taken to her confinement recently as her babe was due soon. Adam looked particularly trouble that evening as he paced our room. "Come sit with me." I suggested. In spite of everything, I couldn't help but smile as the baby was kicking around in my expansive belly.
"They are making funeral plans." Adam announced as he sat beside me. "He hasn't passed and they speak of my coronation..."
I had no words to comfort him but I curled against him and placed his hand on my stomach so that he might feel his child moving around so eagerly. Soon his tension eased and his eyes closed.
At least I could bring him some small peace on this night.
Suki's confinement began not long after my step-mothers. She was none too pleased with the idea of being secluded in a darkened room until she birthed the babe but everyone had reassured her that this was simply how it was done. It was best for the baby, they said. I was reduced to visiting her only in small segments of time - though I could exercise my will over everyone if I truly wished. I too wanted what was best for the baby and listened to the advice of others and kept the visits short.
As I had also been attending to all my father's duties and visited him in his sickbed often, I rarely had more than a few moments to spare anyway.
My father - may he rest in peace - had stubbornly refused to admit he was sick and pushed himself too far most of his final days. He knew that his wife's time was drawing near and wanted to visit her. It was not to be though, as I found him crumbled on the floor near his dresser.
I sought the physicians and King Thomas Albert Stewart was declared dead soon after.
All the eyes in the room had turned to me then and there was a sweeping sensation of dread as I realized what had just happened - I was the king now...
I sent a messenger to my step-mother's chamber to deliver the news but thought it might be better if she heard it from me so I left the small crowd to catch the lad. When I walked into her apartments, I found Queen Azula pacing the room like a caged animal and most of her maids looking somewhat anxious. "M'lady..." I said, clearing my throat to catch her attention.
I realized, when she turned to me with pain etched across her face, that her time had come at last. I considered not telling her of the King's passing at such a time but she could see it on my face. "He's dead isn't he?" she asked between waves. I nodded and she bowed her head in silent prayer while I was ushered away by the women. This was not a place for me to be at this time.
"Majesty! Majesty!" a page ran up to me, his whole body was bubbling with energy of some sort when I turned to him expectantly. "The Princess...Princess Suki, her time has come!" he practically shouted the last bit and I stumbled back. Suki wasn't due for nearly a month yet!
I paced the halls of the castle for some time, desperate for some service to do but, for the first time in weeks, no one sought me for anything at all. It was as if all life outside the castle had ceased to be important on this particular day. My father, the king, had died and two queens - as Suki would soon be queen - were bringing new life into the world!
Both queens labored for some time before a page, a different lad this time, came to me. "Queen Azula has delivered a baby girl Majesty." he said with a sweeping bow. I followed him to the Queen's apartments. All the maids bowed. One of them brought forth the baby girl. "The Queen is in hysterics." she said softly. "But she has named the Princess Bellatrix."
I cradled the tiny bundle, swathed in pink and smiled. "Hello sister." I said tracing a finger along her tiny nose. "I've never had a sister before - and you, so tiny, will soon be an aunt."
Though not soon enough. Suki's labor was long - too long they said. They spoke of having to cut on her to remove the baby. "But that would surely kill her!" I shouted at them. They hurried off and I slumped in the throne, cradling my head. If I had to choose between my child and my wife...who would I choose? Could I choose?
Would I even be given the choice? I may yet lose them both!
Nearly a full day and night had passed since she began to labor when a very relieved looking physician approached. "She has safely delivered twins my leige - a prince and a princess."
"Twins? Two babies?" I sputtered. I was sure he had more to say but I shoved past him and ran to her apartments, eager to see her face once more and that of our children. Children...as in two!
The doors to the bed chamber were firmly shut and the maids that attended her looked tired and frightened mostly. "Majesty" they all said quietly. I waved them off before they began bowing and saw the two infants, mewing quietly in their bassinets.
My eyes darted between them and the doors that barred my entrance to where Suki surely lay. "My wife..." I said softly, looking around the room. No one raised their eyes to meet mine.
"She's ill." the physician said, he was panting as he had run after me. "It was a very long and hard labor - it will take her time to recover sire."
"But she will recover." I said firmly. I stared at him and willed him to argue with me. He merely bowed his head, making no statement. I ignore their objections and pushed through the doors. Suki was asleep and her body was so still I was sure she'd left this Earth but as I approached I heard the ragged breathing and her eyes seemed to flutter a moment as my boots met the floor boards. Could she hear me?
Hours passed into days and still Suki fought off the infection that gripped her body. She was awake rarely and lucid even less. When I tried to talk to her she muttered things I couldn't understand. I could do nothing for her but try to be with her and hope she was not taken from me.
The babies had all been turned over to wet nurses and attendants so I rarely saw them as I stood vigil at their mother's side. I heard whispers from the others about goings-on but I gave them no thought - I cared little what happened in this world if Suki was not in it.
The haze finally lifted and I opened my eyes to see sun streaming through my window. I felt terribly weak and couldn't even raise my head so no one in the room seemed to know I was awake. I tried to work my way through the murky memories and finally remembered giving birth...there had been two I think..."Bab...Babi..." I croaked out. My voice was harsh and my throat stung with the release of the words - such that they were.
"Majesty!" someone shouted, coming quickly to my side and clutching my hand. Two maids carefully helped me sit up some and I waved them off as their presence was like a swarm of bugs, quickly attracting more bugs - well maids. I adored all my ladies but they rarely knew when to leave me alone.
One of them must have run off because it wasn't long before I heard the doors slamming open and a near frantic Adam rushed into the room. I was still in the bed trying to orient myself when he scooped me into such a tight embrace I was sure to be ill on his jacket.
"Oh I was so worried!" he said over and over again. I couldn't really tell what he was so worried about but assumed that the delivery had not got on so very well. "Thank you for coming back to me!"
Some time later, after all had settled down, my still unnamed babies were brought to me. They were healthy, though a bit on the small side due to the early birth. "I would like to name this one Rowena" I said, cradling the Princess in my arms.
"And our little Prince?" he asked. The Prince in question was currently sucking on his father's finger. "How about Godric?" he suggested. The name sounded vaguely familiar and I recalled that it was his great-great gandfather's name...or some number of greats back.
"Perfect." I said. "But what of Queen Azula?" I asked, suddenly recalling that she'd been laboring at the same time I had.
Adam's face darkened and he looked away from me. "She left, a few days after delivering a baby girl - she left and has not been seen since."
"And the baby?" I asked, frightened that something may have happened to her.
"Azula left her here." Adam said with a frown. "Apparently she could not be burdened with her." We quarreled for a bit as to what ought to become of Bellatrix - Adam intended to set her up in a household in the country where she was be well tended and cared for but mostly out of sight. I couldn't accept such a notion and insisted she be brought to me. Unwilling to argue with me in my fragile state, Adam agreed finally and Bellatrix joined her niece and nephew in the nursery.
The coronation of Adam as King and me as Queen was postponed only long enough for me to be recovered from the fever and illness. As soon as the physicians declared me fit, all chaos erupted in the castle as preparations were under way. The King - may he rest in peace - had been entombed while I'd still been ill so nothing stood in the way of the ceremony and feast.
Though I had very little part in all of it, I found myself anxious as the day drew nearer. How could I be a Queen? Sleep seemed hard to come by for both Adam and I the night before it was all to take place.
We were woken early and returned to the very church we'd been wed in less than a year prior. As tradition dictated, we spent the early morning hours in contemplation and prayer.
At noon, there was a royal procession from the church to the castle. While there was a great deal of joy on the faces of the people, it was bittersweet. For a new king to be crowned - one had to pass first and King Thomas had been beloved by many.
The ceremony itself was short. The priest blessed us and our lineage before he asked Adam to take an oath. Soon he asked me the same things and then we sat on the thrones on the dais.
Adam was crowned first as he was royal by blood. After his crowning was my own and as the crown was placed on my head I couldn't help but shudder. I was a Queen....how did THAT happen?