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Notes:See fic? See fic take a large step forward in time. See fic end. Bye, fic, bye!
She hated him. It was as simple as that. After fifteen years of marriage, it was a stunning, yet strangely satisfying, conclusion to come to. Tomoyo stared at his face, so well known by now, and thought viscously sweet thoughts about kicking him out of their bed.
Fifteen years and eight children they'd had together and most of it like something from a particularly sweet fairy tale, or a bride's dream on the eve of her wedding. He was still a gentleman, still a wonderfully loving husband, and there wasn't a better father to be found anywhere in the world. He was human enough to have bad habits, and to irritate her, but he never meant to be truly annoying, and quite truthfully the same could be said of her. Still, he was responsible for the fact that she hated him and would cheerfully see him spend the night on the floor if she could.
Which she couldn't and that was a yet another part of why she'd dearly like to. She was three weeks shy of having their ninth – and last, she'd vowed - child and it took her a good ten minutes to roll over. It took him a second. Just one second to move from one position to another and be completely comfortable. He didn't even have to wake up. He did it in one swift, simple movement, while she had to do it in stages; it was about as simple as dancing Swan Lake, and far less graceful. He was a jerk and she hated him like poison.
She sighed quietly, because she didn't want to wake him, and spent a small eternity getting out of bed. She had absolutely no desire to lay awake and watch him sleep when he could be helping her roll over. Not that she'd be comfortable for long, or get much sleep no matter how often she rolled over. She had someone sitting on organs that hadn't been designed for sitting on, after all. The early spring night might well have been late summer, too, because she was always hot when she was in her last trimester. She couldn't sleep and wouldn't not-sleep next to him.
The light was on in the kitchen when she waddled, and oh, how she hated that she truly was waddling, waddled down the stairs in search of peace and peach ice cream. Spinel was sitting on the countertop with a glass of milk and a small pile of arrowroot teething biscuits, one of which he extended wordlessly to her. She took it with a nod and a half smile, then sat silently sharing the bland cookies with him until they were gone and the glass was empty. He washed the glass, landed on her shoulder for just a moment, and then went back to bed. Tomoyo continued to sit in the quiet room and contemplate the ice cream in the freezer.
"Mum? Is everything all right?"
"Yes, fine, baby." Her oldest was still her baby, Tomoyo thought fondly, and remembered again how Sonomi had cried when the little girl was born. Not because she had a grandchild, but because Tomoyo suddenly knew exactly how her mother had felt about her all those years. God, she was weepy when she was pregnant, she thought irritably. "I just couldn't sleep. What are you doing up? You're not sneaking out to see some boy, are you?"
The girl blushed to match her hair. "Mum, no!" She pushed her glasses up, apparently trying to hide what Tomoyo had already seen. That there was a boy, but she wasn't at the sneaking-out-to-meet-with-him stage just yet. Tomoyo smiled knowingly and watched her daughter squirm.
"I was going out to sketch the trees in the moonlight!" Tomoyo watched her hold up a large sketchpad, a small penlight, and her case full of pencils as proof. She cocked her head when she was given that quiet look the girl had gotten from Eriol. "You want to come with? I can't promise I'll be very good company…but if you'd like…?"
Tomoyo sighed inwardly as she felt the prickle of tears; it was simply ridiculous to be moved to tears because her little girl would think to invite her pregnant, irritable, sleepless mother to watch her draw. "No, thank you. I should at least try to sleep."
"Because nobody will get any when the new baby comes, right," the teen nodded. "Okay, then, if you're sure. G'night, Mum." She darted in, kissed Tomoyo's cheek, and darted out again before Tomoyo could do more than smile.
"Good night, baby." She murmured, and went looking for ice cream cones. She really wouldn't get much sleep once the baby was born. The other children would try to help, but most of them slept through the crying. Eriol would be good at first, but he'd start sleeping through it, too, rolling over when he was tired because he knew that she would get up no matter how tired she was. It would go on like that until she just broke down and cried some night. And he'd apologize for it in the morning, would be diligent again for a week or so, but then it would start up again. A pattern for many parents, she'd learned.
"The baby isn't coming now, is it, Mum?" A sleepy voice asked from the direction of the patio.
"No, I'm fine. Have you been to bed yet, young man?" Her first son had never, ever developed a normal sleep pattern. The doctors had given up trying to explain it and just assured them that he was healthy. She and Eriol had given up trying to enforce a bedtime after he'd slept through his sixth birthday party and hadn't minded a bit that he'd missed it.
"Does falling asleep on the lawn count?" He laughed, her own laugh, and his eyes were bright as plums behind his glasses as he strolled in and set his books down. "I finished my homework out there this afternoon, then I guess I just drifted off. I'm going to bed now, if you're sure things are okay."
"I'm sure. You didn't get sunburned while you were out there, did you?" He was pale, like all of them were pale.
"I don't think so; I was under the big cherry tree out in back. Oneesama just woke me up and told me to use my bed."
"Ah. Did you say thank you?"
"Yes, Mum, I said thank you. Good night."
"Good night, sweetie." She followed him out into the entryway, heading for the stairs. He turned just before he started up, nearly sending her tumbling back because she'd been following to closely and her belly was always in the way.
"Oh, someone has a light on in their room. Want me to check it out?"
"No, I'll see about it. You get some real sleep."
"Okay. Good night."
She sighed as he loped off up the stairs, taking them three at a time. He was going to be tall, she thought; only nine and he was already at her shoulder. She leaned against the railing, absently pushing the baby's foot away from her ribs, breathing past the pain of that sharp kick, and tried to guess which child would have a light on. Their oldest might have left hers on by accident, the little ones had nightlights - that might have been what he'd seen, someone might have needed to use the bathroom, the middle two liked to read after bedtime, their youngest son might have played mad-scientist after dark with his chemistry kits…. With a sigh, she gave up and resigned herself to looking into every room until she found the right one.
She found the transgressor on her first try (and she had to admit, it was sweet to see that their littlest girl was trying so hard to make a special card for the new baby), but she went through each room in turn. With thirty extra pounds, she wasn't light on her feet, but she was quiet enough. This one had to be covered again, this one had left the window open and was chilled, just a hand on the forehead of this one, a slew of little faces that looked like her, and Eriol, and love. With each kiss given, she remembered when they'd come into her life. How much joy she'd felt then, and how much she still felt when she saw them. How they'd changed, and stayed the same. Her second daughter could still sleep through anything. Her fifth child who suddenly had to have the blankets snug at the neck in case of vampires, thanks to Yamazaki.
And finally, Eriol, the head that had just recently sprouted its first gray hair hidden under her pillow, still the same boy he'd always been, sly and sweet and somehow innocent. She shook her head over him and sighed. He came out to blink and yawn at her as she lowered herself carefully back into bed.
"I'm fine." How many times, during the last eight pregnancies and this one, had she said that? Just because she was almost too big to fit into the house did not mean that she was going to go into hard labor at any second.
"Mmm. You were gone." He waited until she was lying down before he wrapped himself around her, making her feel far too warm for her comfort. "Did I roll over again?"
"Yes." She couldn't help it; she shoved him away. "I hate you."
"I'll try to make it look harder." He proceeded to do a very accurate impression of her rolling over, complete with sound effects and facial expressions. "How was that?"
He probably woke up every time she rolled over, to know it that well. He probably didn't help her because she would slap him off, hot and irritable and tired of being so big and needing so much help. She looked at him and remembered their day together. Yesterday and the day and the week and the months before in an instant. He held her every time she cried, crying just because she was pregnant and her hormones were out of control and she couldn't help it. Even when he was frustrated himself because she was moody and he was the one taking care of all the children because she couldn't help them with so many things, he was there for her and loved her. And when the baby was born, he'd be so excited to finally know if it was a boy or a girl, so happy no matter which. He'd laugh, look at her the way he had when they'd had their first, the same way he'd looked at her on the day of their wedding….
"I love you." She propped herself up on one elbow and leaned over to kiss him when he turned again, effortlessly, to look at her in surprise. He hadn't expected that. She liked to keep him guessing.
"You always do, as I always love you." He smiled and kissed her back. "You're beautiful, Tomoyo-san. Did I tell you that today?"
"Eriol-san, we both know by now that I'm not the slightest bit attractive at this size." Which was perfectly true. The Earth-Mother-Goddess stage of pregnancy lasted about a week, then she was just big.
"You're not sexy, I agree, but you're still a beautiful woman." He laughed at her look of consternation – there was no way she could argue that, and she didn't know why she wanted to in the first place – and pushed her back down. "Go to sleep. I'll check on the kids."
"I already did. They're all tucked in."
"Okay." He got out of bed and found his robe. "What about whoever it was I heard go outside?"
"Our budding artist is working. Don't worry, she hasn't confessed to whoever he is yet."
"I'll have to drive her to school on Monday, see if I can spot him." He leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. "Go to sleep, love. I'm going to go check on everyone anyway."
Because he had every night since they were born, she knew. Tomoyo felt her heart soar as he walked out. She hated him, cheerfully, for not being pregnant. But if there was only one thing she'd learned since she'd gotten married, it was just how easy it was to feel two strong emotions at once. When she got right down to the heart of it all, Eriol was the only man she would ever hate the way she did, because he was the only man she could ever love just as deeply. She got up with a smile and turned the lock on their door. Just because she loved him didn't mean that he couldn't sleep on the couch for being such a wiseacre about rolling over.