June 19, 2013 by Lyn
Addergoole will return next week! In the meantime, here is a guest story from Rix Scaedu.
Wednesday, 2nd June 2004
Hylakaros met Lemon at the end of her magic class. She was revisiting abatu this week so he collected her from her Mentor and his Keeper, because Doug was both, with a questioning look over her head to the other man who nodded in return. Beautiful, fertile, little Lemon, due to produce twins any time now, who seemed to believe that she was less fragile than he and Doug did. Doug had her doing forms at practice, Luke had her walking laps and doing yoga in gym and Hylakaros made sure he was there at the end of every class, even the ones whose teachers wouldn’t let him sit in, so he could carry her books between rooms. Since he was carrying books anyway, he also carried book bags belonging to some of her almost equally pregnant friends between a few classes. Personally, he thought the halls looked as if there was going to be a required summer school class in early childcare with the children to be provided by the students.
At the moment though, it seemed that Lemon was right to come home, have a snack and then nap before she made dinner. Magic class necessitated the snack, but the nap was due to her pregnancy. Up until now Hylakaros had had very little experience with pregnancy and he found the medical advice contradictory. Exercise and rest seemed self-cancelling but it seemed that they weren’t. “Hello,” he smiled down at her.
“Hi,” she smiled back up at him and reached for a kiss, which he bent to give her. They argued sometimes about who was kissing who; Hylakaros was used to a level of interpersonal politics and power plays in relationships that Lemon seemed oblivious to and her stated assumption that they were kissing each other as equals was becoming…seductive. It wasn’t less complicated than Shenera Oseraei practice but it was definitely less life threatening and also oddly pleasurable not to have to dominate or guard against being dominated.
Lemon kept smiling up at Hylakaros after they’d kissed hello. The dear, sweet man, who vehemently denied being sweet, seemed to think that she was too fragile to walk home on her own from magic class. If she didn’t enjoy having him walk her home, she might have stirred herself to object. Doug was just as bad, they both seemed to think that she’d go into labour at the drop of a hat or something. Right now though, what she wanted to do was go home, eat something and nap.
“See you at eight, Hy,” Doug gave another nod at Lemon, “unless…”
“Right, Boss.” Hylakaros nodded. “Will do.”
The walk back to the suite went at a leisurely pace. Almost there, they gave way to Penny, a young woman in the senior class, who was bringing her four children home from Lady Maureen’s. Lemon smiled, her hand resting comfortably on her bump, because although she didn’t know Penny well, she did like what she’d seen of the children. Hylakaros nodded politely as they went past. Penny returned Lemon’s smile but acted as if Hylakaros wasn’t there.
“Why does she do that?” Lemon asked the question quietly after the other student had passed, meaning it rhetorically.
Hylakaros answered anyway, “Doug mentioned that a Hunter had grabbed her as prey, but she managed to kill him instead of remaining his victim. If the lady has drawn her boundaries to exclude me, I should be wise enough to respect them.” His tone changed back to a lighter note when he added, “I still think she has your eyes. Do you think you could be cousins or something?”
“We could be,” Lemon agreed, “after all, Cody’s related to a quarter of the school and Bel’s related to at least half. If she’s ignoring you though, it might be best if I don’t go asking her questions about her family, she might take it the wrong way.”
“Indeed,” and he tucked her hand into the crook of his arm for the rest of the walk home.
Lemon snacked, napped, cooked dinner, ate and then studied while someone else cleaned up. She and Hylakaros went through their work for Chemistry and History, because Professors Pelletier and Valerian insisted that if he was going to sit in their classes then he was going to do the work. At quarter to eight he packed up his books, kissed Lemon goodbye and headed over to his Keeper’s flat where he spent the next couple of hours leaning against Doug’s legs while they watched Key Largo.
By the time he got back to the suite, Lemon was ready to pack up her own books and go to bed. “I could wish that exam time and baby due time weren’t the same,” she complained. “I don’t want to study, I just want to sit in front of television and be amused!”
“You’ve been saying that for the last month,” Hylakaros dropped a kiss on the top of her head.
“I’ve felt like that for the last month,” she stood up into his arms to kiss him back and a baby kicked him in the stomach.
He looked down at her stomach and said in a mock serious tone, “Look I’ve told you two before, I’m perfectly happy to rough house with you, but you have to be born first and you’ll probably need to put on some size as well.”
“They probably don’t have any idea of what you’re saying, you know that, don’t you?” Lemon was looking at him with sleepy affection.
“Oh, I’m sure of it,” Hylakaros nodded. “Come get in the shower with me and I’ll scrub your back?”
“Yes please. That sounds lovely.” No-one had ever smiled at him like that before he’d met Lemon.
It was just after one in the morning according to the fluorescent numbers on the alarm clock sitting on Lemon’s bedside table when her stirring woke Hylakaros, who was spooned against her back. “What’s wrong?” He whispered that softly in her ear, in case she wasn’t awake.
“My lower back’s playing up,” she complained quietly but awake, “and I can’t get comfortable. I’m sorry I woke you.”
“That’s alright,” he shifted himself a little and then murmured “Idu Tlactl Lemon cy’Doug.” Then he was silent for a moment as the Working told him the answer to his question. “Instead of trying to get back to sleep, I think I should help you get to the clinic.” Lemon didn’t say anything and he added, “You’re definitely in early labour.”
“I am? Now? But class tomorrow…” Her voice trailed off.
“Will happen without you,” Hylakaros said firmly. “You’ll be busy with the other ‘graduation requirement.’ If Luke comes looking for you in the clinic, Dr Caitrin will probably send him to get hot water, or something.”
“I know you’re right,” she sighed, “but guilt trip ‘cause it’s class…”
He kissed the top of her head. “We really need to work on some of the things you think good girls don’t do.” He chuckled then added, “But good girls in your state go straight to the clinic, do not pass Go and do not collect two hundred dollars. Do you need help getting up?”
“No, I think I’m right. Do you want to get the light?”
It didn’t take them that long to get to the clinic, Lemon wrapped in a dressing gown over her nightgown while Hylakaros had taken just enough time to throw on clothes. It was, though, enough time for the ache in Lemon’s lower back to develop a certain rhythmic quality, but it wasn’t until Nurse Jo had shown them into a labour room that the contraction that felt like it meant it happened. If Hylakaros hadn’t been holding her, Lemon would have dropped to all fours.
“Well, you’re in the right place,” said Nurse Jo briefly. “We’ll just get you settled, then I have to go back to Akaterina.”
“I’m staying,” said Hylakaros flatly, “ and Tlactl’s one of my best Words, though Idu’s so-so. If you can tell me what to keep an eye out for…”
“That would be helpful,” Nurse Jo acknowledged. “Can you do this?” She rattled off a complex working at him and Hylakaros repeated it back, a little slower but accurately, or so it seemed to Lemon.
“That should be good enough,” the nurse nodded. “Press the buzzer if you get any red flags. Now, you remember your pain relief options, don’t you Lemon?”
“Yes.” Lemon breathed through another contraction.
“That’s the way dear. Now, if you decide to use the shower, it’ll work best on your lower back and only one of you needs to be under it.” Another decisive nod. “I’ll be back to check on you in about half an hour.”
It was almost an hour before Nurse Jo returned. “Sorry about that,” she briskly apologised as she examined Lemon, “but Akaterina’s eldest tried to be inventive. It complicated everything a bit.”
“Are they alright?” Lemon didn’t want anything going wrong tonight for anyone.
“All of them are fine and so are the three of you,” Nurse Jo reassured her. “Now, things are coming along nicely but you’ve a way to go yet before you’ll be ready to push, several hours at least I expect and probably more, so I’ll leave you here with your young man and go back to help Dr Caitrin with Akaterina’s second one. Push the buzzer if anything changes.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Hylakaros acknowledged the instructions meekly.
When she’d left the room Lemon looked at him quizzically and asked, “Why so meek and mild? You don’t normally sound like that.”
“Nurse Jo is one of the two people standing between me and having to deliver the Dynamic Duo here, and for that I am truly grateful,” he told her. “She and Dr Caitrin aren’t in any danger but if I got it wrong and something happened to the three of you, I’d be looking at a long, slow dismemberment at the hands of a Dragon and two Hunters.”
“They’re not-,” Lemon began to protest.
“Lemon,” Hylakaros interrupted firmly, “if I did something that result in harm to any of you three, you’d soon see how little difference there is under the skin between Daeva and Dragons, Mara and Hunters. Body parts as trophies, that sort of thing. Luke has his vow and you’re Doug’s Student. Vanderlinden is…older than he lets on, I think. Still waters and all that.”
Lemon repositioned herself under the warm water a little. “I wouldn’t call Professor Vanderlinden still waters.”
“I think at least some of what’s going on in plain sight with him is distraction. The trick is picking what’s deliberate and what’s not, and I don’t have that pegged yet.”
Lemon giggled then explained, “I just thought of cy’Linden as an enormous distraction, jumping around in plain sight and drawing everyone’s attention…” She trailed off thoughtfully.
“I don’t think they’re that,” Hylakaros said seriously, “but if you wanted a distraction, you could do worse than a cy’Linden party.”
“At the moment I wouldn’t find that distracting, I’d find it annoying,” Lemon told him tartly.
For which she got, “That’s my girl,” and a warm smile.
It was only a few hours later and she’d been out of the shower for a least one of those when Lemon said, “I think I want to push.”
Hylakaros hit the buzzer and Dr Caitrin was there a few minutes later, muttering a Working as she came in the door. “You are ready for us then,” she smiled at Lemon. “It does usually take longer than this the first time, but everyone’s different. Nurse Jo will be here in a minute, once she has Akaterina and her two settled. Young man,” she addressed Hylakaros, “you need to move, thank you.” He shifted out of the way in the indicated direction and let the expert get to work.
It was almost an hour later, during which time Lemon came to appreciate the truth of Robin William’s comment about passing a bowling ball, when Dr Caitrin announced, “I can see the top of the head. Now, next contraction should do it.”
Two contraction/pushed later Lemon saw the doctor lift a baby clear of the bed between her knees. Given what she could see, she asked, “A boy?”
“No dear,” Nurse Jo replied while Dr Caitrin worked something with Idu and Tlactl, “a hermaphrodite.”
“That’s not surprising, really,” Lemon said, “but I might have to get copies of some of those books in the library.”
“You’re a clever girl,” Hylakaros squeezed her hand, leant down and kissed her. “I said so when I arrived here. One more to go now.”
“Would you like to hold your baby while I cut the cord?” Dr Caitrin was offering her the newborn cradled in a towel.
“Can I?” Lemon reached out.
“You are the mother,” Dr Caitrin smiled and carefully put the baby into her arms so it was resting against Lemon’s chest.
While Dr Caitrin took care of the cord, Lemon just looked down at the bald baby in her arms then, when the doctor had finished, she said, “Hi, I’m your Mommy. Who are you going to be?” That was followed by another lot of breathing-through-the-contraction and, “Whoa, I think your partner in crime wants to join the party as soon as possible.” Lemon looked around the room, “Perhaps someone else should take him now?”
“I need to take some observations,” chimed in Nurse Jo, “so I’ll get those handled now.” She whisked the baby away and Lemon got down to the business of brining the second of her twins into the world.
A little over half an hour later she addressed the second baby she’d held that morning, saying, “I can see that the two of you don’t see the need to be the same, you’ve even got hair.”
“I’ll mind them while you go shower,” offered Hylakaros.
“Would you?” Lemon smiled gratefully at him. “I’m worried that with their diapers on, I won’t be able to tell them from Akaterina’s babies yet.”
Hylakaros settled into a chair and said, “Load me up with babies then.” It wasn’t quite a look of fear that crossed his face when he found himself holding a tiny newborn in the crook of each arm.
Lemon kissed him on the top of his head, added, “Now you two be good for Hylakaros,” then padded off to have a shower.
While she was coming back from the bathroom she could hear Hylakaros’ voice murmuring quietly and when she got closer she heard him comment, “I meant what I said about rough-housing when you’re bigger, but I must say you two have a very effective immobilisation technique going on here. You just lie there and-,” he looked up and smiled, “You’re back. Feeling better?”
“More together,” Lemon agreed. “How have they been?”
“Good, I think they’ve been listening. I didn’t dare stop talking because I didn’t know what else to do with them.”
“It’s the pitch and tone of voice at that age,” Nurse Jo came in, carrying a tray of breakfast for two, “and you had those right. Now, let’s see about getting the four of you fed.”
A little while later both twins were pursuing their introduction to breast feeding. Hylakaros looked at Lemon and grinned. “I said they had an effective immobilisation technique. Here, while your hands are full, let me get you some toast.”
“I can wait till after they’re finished,” Lemon said stoically.
“You won’t let me feed you?” He was still grinning. “They look like they’ve settled in for the long haul. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some toast?”
“Why,” suggested Lemon with a glint in her eye, “don’t you feed yourself, then you can go tell people they’ve been born at class change over. You might even be back to help with their first diaper change.”
“We should, as a matter of courtesy, tell Professor Vanderlinden as soon as possible,” Hylakaros agreed soberly.
“That doesn’t sound like you,” Lemon looked at him sharply. “Wait, this is part of ‘Professor Vanderlinden is more dangerous than he acts,’ isn’t it?”
“Yes.” It wasn’t quite a change of topic when he asked, “Who else do you want me to tell? Doug, your crew?”
“Bel, Timora and Miryam. Timora and Miryam agreed to be fairy godmothers.”
“Fairy godmothers?” He was amused. “There’s a story behind that isn’t there? Though shouldn’t it be three, just to be traditional?”
“They were the other people who were there when it happened.” Lemon blushed.
“Ah. I should eat then.”
“Yes, you should.” She smiled up at him then turned her attention back to the babies.
It seemed only sensible to sit down and eat. Several times he looked up as Lemon glanced across and they smiled at each other but he ate quickly and efficiently. Done, he pushed the plate away, rose and kissed her. “I think I’ve got time to see Doug first, but I’ll definitely get Professor Vanderlinden at the ten o’clock class changeover. Take care till I get back.”
“I will,” Lemon promised him. “I think they’re falling asleep.”
“They’re still drinking,” Hylakaros observed, “but yeah, they look like they could be drifting off. Want me to send Nurse Jo in on my way out?”
Doug was easy. Hylakaros found his Keeper in his office. “Um, Boss?” He waited for Doug to look up. “Lemon wanted me to let you know that she’s had the twins and they’re all fine.”
“Good.” Doug grunted. “Boy? Girl?”
“Hermaphrodites.” Hylakaros didn’t suppress his grin.
“Heh.” Doug smirked. “Good luck with that.”
“They’re still babies.” Then Hylakaros added reflectively, “Nice babies. Good listeners, I think, and so far they haven’t cried.”
Doug smiled. “Ever had children before?”
“No,” Hylakaros grinned ruefully, “and I know they will cry. It’s just that so far… Look, Boss, if it’s okay with you, I want to catch Professor Vanderlinden at class change over to pass on the news?”
“’Kay, go on.” Doug made a shooing gesture. “We can talk babies later.”
“Thanks.” Hylakaros gave a half salute in farewell and made his way to the room where Professor Vanderlinden was teaching the second class of the day. The class still had a few minutes left to run, so he leaned back against the wall in the hall outside to wait.
The class ended and the students poured out to get where they needed to be next: Lily, Lethe, Kees, Judith, Sofia and half a dozen more. Finally only Vanderlinden was left, “Excuse me, Professor. If I might have a word?”
“Of course.” Professor VanderLinden gestured Hylakaros in.
“Thank you.” He took a deep breath. “Lemon asked me to tell you that she had the twins this morning and that they’re all well.” Hylakaros paused then added, “She didn’t, wouldn’t, ask but I think she would appreciate a visit when you have time.”
The professor’s smile was a stunningly beautiful thing. “Wonderful! I’ll stop by after classes, then.”
Hylakaros’ return smile was involuntary in the face of that beauty. “Thank you. As I said, I think she would like that, but she wouldn’t ask.”
“She’s an… interesting woman.” The Daeva’s voice held appreciation in multiple levels.
“She’s still young,” Hylakaros’ voice was almost fond, “and I look forward to seeing what she’s going to become.”
The professor nodded. “I do, as well. I’ll see her after classes. And the babies.”
Lemon’s crew and her friends dropped into see her at lunchtime. Hylakaros spent the afternoon, he said, at Doug’s flat sleeping on the couch. He’d only just returned when the professor arrived.
“Professor Vanderlinden,” Lemon sounded pleased and surprised, though more the first than the latter, making it a pleasant tone to her voice rather than a discordant one.
“Lemon. Hylakaros told me the babies had come.”
“Yes, they’re in their cribs at the moment. I think they’re still asleep after their last feed. I keep checking them to make sure they’re still breathing,” she admitted.
The professor smiled. “I remember that feeling. It never really goes away.”
“Would you like to hold them?” As she made the offer Lemon realised just how anxious someone else holding her babies made her feel.
“If you feel all right with that.”
“I need to get used to people I trust holding them.” Her mind diverted for a moment, “Interesting, Hylakaros doesn’t seem to be a ‘person other than me’ in my mind.” She smiled at both men.
“Well, that makes sense.” Professor Vanderlinden shifted until Mike was Michelle. “Here, it’s easier for me to handle them like this.”
“One at a time is probably best,” puts in Hylakaros. “Both of them at once is sort of immobilising.”
The professor laughed. “Ah, yes, Tya’s twins with Jaya were something like that, too.”
“Pick one to start with,” suggests Lemon.
“The… one on the left?” she tries. “Oh, a thousand would-be gods, I’m going to have to name them.”
While Hylakaros got the professor a chair, Lemon asked, “Will you want them both at once for that or one at a time?”
“Both at once, I do believe.” She settled into a chair and held her arms out. “Sometimes the names fit together when they’re twins.”
“Is it rude of me to ask if you can name them sooner rather than later? I just don’t want fall into the trap of giving them nicknames to go on with that they might get stuck with.” Lemon looked as if she was worried she might have asked for too much.
“Would tomorrow night be soon enough? I don’t want to take them from their mother before that.”
“That would be fine, unless something medical comes up,” Lemon looked relieved.
“Should I be picking names leaning towards one gender or the other?”
“Probably not. Didn’t Hylakaros tell you?” Lemon looked at her other half and then back to Professor Vanderlinden. “Neither of them are either.”
“Genderless?” She raised her eyebrow. “Or hermaphrodite?”
“Hermaphrodite. Both of them.”
“Well, then. I can work with that.” She looked very pleased.
Hylakaros smirked and added, “Professor, I think this is where you tell Lemon that she’s been a very clever girl.”