"This might be a bit out of the blue, but…" Ahiru bashfully addressed her two friends Pike and Lilie across an outside table at the Pizzeria, during a lull in the conversation. It was an early afternoon in July of the summer after they all had graduated from the Academy.
Both girls had their attention on Ahiru as they waited, but Ahiru hesitated, until she took a deep breath and said, "Ok. So you really need to tell someone something, but you have absolutely no idea how they'll react. If they'll be happy, or sad, or if they'll even ever speak to you again. How do you tell them?"
Pike and Lilie were speechless for a moment, but it seemed that nothing had really changed.
"Oh, Ahiru!" Lilie beamed at her, "Are you really going to confess? That's the spirit! You have to tell Fakir your feelings or you'll never be rejected! We'll comfort you, don't worry."
Ahiru turned red. "No! That's not what I meant, I-"
"Yeah! Just go for it, girl! You've got nothing to lose!" Pike pumped her arms in enthusiasm.
"Really, guys! That's not it!" Ahiru protested.
"Still in denial at this late stage?" Lilie gushed.
"NO!" Ahiru yelled, which finally got their attention.
"Then what is it, Ahiru?" Pike asked more calmly.
"It's…" Ahiru was turning redder by the syllable, "It's not what you think, I mean, I know what you think and I guess it's sort of like that – I mean I have to confess to Fakir but…"
"I KNEW IT!" Lilie screamed.
"Isn't that what we said before?" Pike asked.
"But what?" Pike shot sarcastically.
"I'm trying to…"
"It's ok, Ahiru! We know you get speechless when you're about to confess your love!" Lilie had somehow managed to end up behind Ahiru and was clasping her shoulders in a vice-like grip.
"THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT! WE'VE BEEN DATING FOR A YEAR!" Ahiru screamed to try to make her friends listen.
They listened all right. Both were looking at her like she had just turned purple… or sprouted feathers. In fact, most of the restaurant was…
When she realized what she'd said, Ahiru squeezed her eyes shut and covered her mouth with her hands.
Oh, stupid stupid stupid…Now what'll they think…?
"Then what is it, Ahiru?" It was Pike who said it, and this time her words had softened, "What's so important that you need to tell Fakir?"
"I… can't tell you…" Ahiru was torn. She shouldn't tell them, but she needed to tell someone or she'd burst!
They were still looking at her expectantly. Perhaps they hadn't heard her? She opened her mouth to say it again.
"I…I'm pregnant…" she finally said very softly.
Both her friends had heard her that time.
"You're WHAT?!" they shouted in chorus.
And so, Pike and Lilie knew.
Through a roundabout conversation that lasted at least another hour, both advised that she butter him up with some sort of surprise before springing the news on him.
It was when she was walking back to Charon's house, where she had her own room across the hall from Fakir's (though several times they'd bridged the gap between the two, when Charon was not there), that she met Autor.
He seemed to realize right away that something was wrong, because his voice lacked its normal sarcasm as he asked her, "What's wrong?"
She looked up at him with unspilled tears flooding her eyes.
For a minute she just stared at him.
"Trouble in paradise, huh?" Autor smirked.
"Not really…" and she told him.
And so, Autor knew.
His advice was to wait until Fakir noticed to tell him. He agreed with Pike and Lilie that it was a bad idea to just up and tell him.
Even more disheartened, Ahiru wandered through the doorway to Charon's and sat dejectedly down at the kitchen table, her elbows resting on the wood, her hands supporting her chin, staring gloomily off into space.
"Why so glum, Ahiru?" asked Charon cheerfully when he walked into the room to get something or other, "Is something wrong?"
Now she really knew she shouldn't say.
"It-it's nothing," she lied.
"Is it about Fakir?" the older man pressed.
"Yes… no… If there isn't anything it can't be about Fakir, can it? I mean…"
She stopped the oncoming flood of words when Charon sat down across from her.
"What's really wrong?" he asked.
Ahiru pressed her lips together in an attempt to keep herself silent, but this didn't last very long.
She poured out her secret, her fears about telling Fakir, and the advice of her friends.
And so, much to Ahiru's embarrassment, Charon knew.
He muttered something about changing the living arrangements, and how he should have known, and for a moment looked like he was about to be angry.
Ahiru was ready for it. She supposed he had a right to be.
Instead, however, he just said, frowning in concentration, "I think the best way to tell him is to give him hints. Don't just drop it on his head."
Ahiru sighed, rose from the table, murmured a thank you, and wandered out the back door to the lake.
There she sat, her knees pulled up to her chest, mulling over what it felt like, and all the different ways Fakir could react, seeing them in the water in front of her.
And then she thought of what everyone had said, and realized that Fakir was probably the only one by now who didn't know, and for a moment she panicked that someone else had told him by accident.
She had just risen and was about to run off to find him, no matter that she didn't know what she would say when she saw him, when she heard him call her name.
He was walking towards her with a slight smile on his face, until he got close enough to see her worried look.
Then he sped up to catch her in his arms and ask worriedly, "What's wrong?"
"Umm… Fakir?" What to do? Butter him up? With what? And what would he think if she waited? What if she dropped a hint? What kind of hint? And how would she drop it?
"I want to ask you something, Ahiru."
She looked up at him in surprise.
"Yes?" she asked, nervous. He looked very serious.
He let her go and for a moment she couldn't figure out what he was doing, until she realized he was down on one knee and holding a small velvet box to her.
"Fakir…" she breathed, heart beating at a breakneck speed.
"Please say yes," he coaxed softly, taking her hand.
"Fakir…there's something I need to tell you before I say anything."
"What is it?" He was concerned again. His dark eyes showed so much emotion that it melted her heart all over again.
"Fakir, I'm pregnant."
Well, it wasn't what any of them had said to do, Ahiru thought, but when Fakir picked her up and swung her around, beaming, then slipped the ring on her finger and kissed her, she couldn't think of any better reaction.
Now what was she going to tell everyone else about the ring…?