I

Life fell into a normal routine rather quickly and the month off slowly faded into the background. Alternating between scirmishes, moving and setting up, they had very little time left for much more.

With the knowledge that Jacey spoke Targo, the men loved her even more. She became likened to a sister. Although they sometimes asked her to do favors for them, like mending patches that they do themselves, they returned the favor with presents. It was her that they looked for when they came back and it was her they prefered when they were injured after the battle.

However, Jacey began to show soon after they left Targo. At first it was only a barely disgnisable lump that Heddwyn barely saw even when she only wore a nightgown but it quickly became something large enough that it showed through her dress. At that time Heddwyn, rather reluctantly announced her preganancy, along with an explation as to why he was not sending her back that actually seemed believable, even if it was a lie. Even now, everyone was feeling the tension between Aldroa and Targo, the fact that he feared for her seem reasonable enough.

In fact, the tension between Targo and Aldroa bothered both Jacey and himself. For some unknown reason, the tension between Aldora and TArgo only increased  News from that country was difficult to come by, and few Aldroians dare ventured into the area with Heddwyn in it. He wished he could go there himself and discover the problem, but that would look too much like a spy mission and would hardly help. So he had to pretend that everything was fine and ignore Aldora.

INstead, he forced himself to focuse on his task at hand. But being on the western side of Ketekey, away from any millitary target of worth, made anything that he did seem pointless. There was pratically nothing effective he could do. Although he constantly tried to argue his positioniong with the concil, he was met with resistance and silance. Apparently, they knew something more than he did, but did not wish to tell him.

And so the months passed. Winter slowly slipped into the warmness of spring. They shed thier winter cloacks for lighter ones to keep off the evening chill. And every time that they came back from a scirmish, Jacey waited for him with a smile and an ever-growing stomach.

*********

“Look, Heddwyn.” Jacey grinned and showed him one more pair of baby yellow baby socks. Eva, in her intellgance, only sent them very neurtal colors for the baby clothes, in spite of Jacey’s insistance that it was a boy. With how much the little one kicked, it had to be a boy, she said.

Heddwyn looked over the letter and nodded, feeling sick to his stomach. He always did each time he saw something else she finished, for even the child was not guarenteed to survive.

Sighing, she lumbered up and walked over to him. With only two months left, he could help but notice her stomach each time she stood, no matter how much he tried not to. With a smile, she plopped ont the floor next to him and leaned her head against his chest.

“You don’t like them.”

He looked at her, her hair falling down her back and over her shoulders. He shook his head. “They look fine.”

“But…” She looked up at him, her grey eyes questioning.

He brushed back her hair. “But I’m not too sure about this whole father thing, yet, I suppose.” It was a lie but he had been doing that a lot recently about the baby.

She brushed back his hair. Long ago it had begun flopping into his eyes, like it always did after two months or so. Her eyes sparkled with mychieviousness. “I think you’ll like it, if you didn’t have to be gone all the time.”

“You forget, Jacey.  I never wanted a family.”

Jacey leaned up and kissed him. “But you married me. That has to count for something.”

“Is that so?”

Jacey nodded and then whinced. With a sigh she rubbed her stomach. “I can put up with it most times but when it just gets the right spot….” She shook her head.

“Perhaps you should slow down a little bit. Myabe not do as much.”

She shook her head. “No. I’m fine. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t do anything besides rest. I’m just having a baby.”

Just. Like every other woman in the world. Heddwyn glanced at the letter again. Jacey took his hand and gently kissed it. Then, suddenly, she placed it on her stomach and a small tap returned it.

Heddwyn stiffened and looked at her. Something tapped against his hand  Up until now, he tried to avoid this. He wanted nothing to do with this child. And yet, Jacey had pratically tricked him into it.

Jacey smiled. “See? It’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Heddwyn began to pull his hand back, The little taps followed his hand as it began to drop. He shook his head. “I–I don’t know, Jacey.”

“Don’t know what?”

He swalllowed. “It’s too soon. We aren’t ready.”

“Are we ever going to be ready?”

He shook his head. “Probably not. But maybe it’s still foolish to rush it.”

“We don’t have a choice anymore. Before… we did. But now, we don’t.”

Heddwyn swallowed and brushed back her hair. She wrapped her arms his neck and pulled him close, kissing him. He shuddered and closed his eyes, just trying to breath her in and forget it all.

Someone knocked outside the tent door. With a sigh, Heddwyn pushed her back. “Come in.”

Major Pauldor ducked into the tent. “You’re needed, sir.”

Heddwyn nodded and rose. Jacey already began to pull back her hair. Queitly, he left.

His hand still tingled where the child touched it. He  both wanted to love the child and wanted to hate the child. But Jacey, not knowing better, loved it. She put up with so much because of it, never complaining. He often felt her tossing in the middle of the night, no longer able to curl into a ball. He had seen her whince at the pain in her back when she stood. Still, she did everything as before, helping where she could and always with a smile.

But he knew better and because he knew better, he found himself hated it That child would take her away from him. It would take away her smile and her laugh. It would take away her shining blue eyes and gentle hands that rubbed his shoulders when he was tense. Everything that he needed in Jacey would be gone and the child would not be able to replace it.

He sighed and glanced at Major Pauldor. “Everyone was right. I was a fool for marrying her.”

He turned and looked at him. “You can hardly consider yourself a fool because she is now with child. It was risk that you kenw, even if she didn’t.”

“But–” Heddwyn paused, catching himelf midthought. “I didn’t think it would happen.”

“Why not? She loves you enough she would do anything for you.”

Heddwyn blushed and swallowed. “I didn’t want her to give me a child.”

“But that’s what she hears. Targo has this history of always needing people, which is probably why everyone has such large families. Children are a part of our culture.”

Heddwyn frowned and ran a hand through his hair.

“I would just be grateful you’ve been able to keep her situation a secret from the capital. Everyone here knows you’re taking a risk, and enough of them doubt it’s because  you fear for her as an Aldroian.”

“And they are probably all covering for me.”

“Yes. We want her here as much as you do.”

Heddwyn sighed agian. “Well, in one month it will be all over and we’ll be back home.”

“In one month, you have one less month with her.”

Heddwyn shook his head. “I’m trying not to think about that part of it.”

–Next

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