This week’s flash fiction is about Banach and Rith. Here, we get to see the couple that’s the main focus of Rith’s Disciple (coming out in late 2019/early 2020) as they share the joy of discovering they’re going to be parents.
Banach pressed a hand to her flat stomach and stared at the midwife. “You’re certain?”
The midwife smiled. “Sweetheart, you missed three monthly courses, and you’re fitter than most. I’m positive.”
She looked down at her bare belly. “Really?”
“I can sense the life, my dear. So, yes, really. Isn’t it good news?”
Of course it was. She’d been hoping for this for so long. But at the same time, it was still a shock. She was going to be a mother. A mother? It just didn’t seem possible. But the midwife had confirmed it. And she knew Ranwen was skilled. She wouldn’t misread her patient’s condition.
She looked up at Ranwen and blinked. “Sorry. It’s just a shock. But it’s good news. Definitely good news.” A tiny smile lifted the corners of her lips. “How far along is it?”
“He’ll be four months along in two weeks.”
“But I’m barely showing. It just looks like I gained a little extra weight.” How was that even possible? It must be if Ranwen said that was the baby’s age. It certainly explained why she hadn’t noticed until now.
Ranwen smiled and patted her shoulder. “It happens sometimes. Don’t you worry. The baby is perfectly fine. But you need to take it easy. I’ll make you a tincture for the queasiness, but I can’t do much for the fatigue. Tell that husband of yours to make sure you rest.”
Banach slipped off the examiner’s bench with a smile. “He’s been particularly careful with me since I got sick. I’m sure knowing that it’s the baby will be a relief. I swear, the man thought I was dying.”
That earned a laugh from Ranwen. “He’s just overprotective and a little too sweet for his own good.”
She grinned. Her husband was certainly that. Funny how she’d once distrusted him so much. Now she couldn’t even imagine believing he would hurt her. “He definitely is. I’m sure I’ll be bundled in blankets and treated like china once he finds out I’m carrying his baby.” She sighed. “It’ll be bed rest for me, for sure.”
Ranwen snorted. “It most certainly will not. You need fresh air and moderate exercise in addition to plenty of rest and solid nutrition. If he tries that, you come to me, and I’ll straighten him out like I would my own son.”
She would. Ranwen had known Rith since before he became king of Faelkish. She didn’t take any nonsense from anyone, and she wasn’t afraid to give even the king a piece of her mind. Probably because she never did see him as a king as much as she saw him as the young man she had mothered after they’d arrived on Alcardia. “I’ll do that. And I’m going to tell him you told me to tell you if he’s babying me too much.” She grinned. “He might be commanding and regal with everyone else, but I swear he’s like a big baby when it comes to your scoldings.”
Ranwen shrugged. “Eh, the boy knows what’s good for him. Now, go on, or you’ll be late for lunch. You have something to tell him that can’t wait.”
Banach’s grin widened. “Absolutely. I’ll see you around, then?”
“Every two weeks until that baby comes, you hear?”
“Yes, ma’am.” She hurried to the door. “Thanks, Ranwen.”
“Any time. Congratulations.”
She shot Ranwen a smile and then rushed out the door. Her hand drifted back to her belly. They’d been trying for so long, but now they finally had a baby on the way. And a boy too. Her body felt weightless, and she wondered if it were possible to float due to happiness. It certainly felt like that was what she was doing.
Before she knew it, she’d arrived at the small dining room she and Rith used for private meals. The door was already open, and she could see her husband seated at the end of the table while the servants bustled about laying out the meal. She crossed the threshold and went to stand beside Rith.
He smiled at her. “You’re practically bubbling over. What happened? Good news at the appointment?”
She leaned down and pressed her lips to his for a second before sitting down at the spot beside him. “Very.”
“Ranwen knew what was wrong, I take it.” His brow furrowed. “Was she able to solve the problem?”
“Nope.” Banach helped herself to a plate of meat and cheese. For some reason, she’d found this was the one thing she could keep down consistently and always seemed to want. Maybe it had to do with the baby.
“No?” Rith’s frown deepened.
She smiled at him and started on her food.
“I don’t understand. If she can’t solve the problem, then why are you happy?”
“Because we don’t want to be rid of this problem.” She glanced over at him, fought the laughter bubbling up inside of her.
“Don’t need to be—” Rith reached out to press a hand to her forehead. “You don’t have a fever. Bane, what’s going on? You’re not making any sense.”
A laugh did escape her then. “I’m not sick, Rith.” She stood.
He pushed his chair back and turned toward her. “You’ve been queasy and tired all the time. Of course you’re sick.”
She shook her head and went to stand between his legs. “Not sick.” Taking his hand, she pressed it to her abdomen. “Expecting.”
His frown faded, and he stared up at her. For a minute, he didn’t say anything, and she wondered if he was happy. She was sure he was. It was probably just shock. He’d wanted a child for as long as she had. Probably longer since he’d been thinking about marriage and children long before he’d asked her. And he’d done a poor job of disguising his thoughts. Sort of like now. His thoughts slipped past his barriers even as he continued to stare at her without a word. I’m going to be a father?
Banach sat in his lap with a laugh. Yes. We’re going to be parents. I couldn’t believe it at first either.
He stroked her abdomen with a soft laugh. “Did Ranwen know the gender?”
She rested her head against his shoulder. “It’s a boy.”
“Do you think he’ll look like you?”
“I hope not. Do you have any idea how many of the people from your world thought I was a witch?”
“They’re old souls. The people here know better.”
“All the same, I’d prefer he has your hair.”
He pressed a kiss to the side of her neck. “Just as long as he gets your eyes.”
“Why? I like your eyes.”
“Because hazel is more unique.”
She opened her eyes and twisted to face him. “No, it isn’t. Your eyes remind me of the way the shadows dance when you Step.”
“And yours change hue depending on your mood and your outfit.”
She huffed and settled back against him. “Fine. You know what?”
“I don’t care what he looks like. He’s our child, so it doesn’t matter. He’ll be beautiful no matter what.”
“True.” He boosted her off his lap and turned her to face him. “You know what else?”
She bit her lip. “No. What?”
“You have once again managed to make me happier than I’ve ever been. Thank you.”
A smile lifted the corners of her mouth. “And you have made me a very happy woman.”
He smirked. “We’ll see if you’re still saying that in a few more months when he’s kicking. If he’s anything like me, it’ll be one bumpy ride. According to my mother, I was the most active of the three of us, and she said I caused her the most pain.”
Banach rolled her eyes. “Thanks for the warning. Let’s hope he’s tamer than you.”
“He’s my son. I should hope he isn’t. He’ll be ruling this kingdom when I’m gone.”
“All the same, I’m still happy. Other women have told me the pain pales in comparison to the feeling of joy that comes when you hold them for the first time.”
“I hope so.” He pressed a kiss to the inside of her wrist. “Now that we know what’s going on, you’re not to stress yourself out. I want—”
Banach returned to her seat with a smirk. “You’d better not try to lock me in our room or put me on bed-rest. Ranwen says I’m to engage in moderate exercise and get plenty of fresh air.”
He looked like he wanted to protest. Of course he did. He worried about her too much. But she wasn’t going to do anything to endanger herself or the baby. She’d do what Ranwen told her to, and she’d take care of them both. Rith stared at her with a sigh. “And I suppose that if I don’t cooperate, you’ll sic Ranwen on me?”
“Precisely.” Her smile softened, and she reached out to clasp his hand in hers. “Don’t worry. I’ll rest and take care of myself. And you’ll be around to help when I need you. Even when I don’t, I’m sure.”
He squeezed her hand with a grin. “As always.”
She sighed in mock exasperation. But deep down, she couldn’t be happier. They had a baby on the way, and she had a husband who would make a wonderful father. No matter what happened, she knew she’d be able to rely on him. She might not know anything about mothering, but she knew a lot about what not to do from observation. She’d learn the rest in time. Hopefully the baby would forgive her mistakes when he grew up. She rested her hand on her abdomen and resumed lunch with a smile on her face. Things would work out just as they should.
And that’s it for this week, everybody! I hope you enjoyed seeing a little more of this particular couple. Even if they are a bit sappy. If you have any feedback on this flash fiction Friday or a suggestion for a future flash-fiction, feel free to leave your responses in the comments below. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
Have a great weekend!