Title: To Have & To Hold
Chapter: Twenty - Having it All.
Author's Note: A Huge thank you to all those that took the time to review and send feedback during the course of this story. You are all treasures and I enjoyed having you along for the ride. I'm sure this won't be my last PP adventure, but it's certainly been one of my longest.
Eight Months Later
Wendy stood on the headland and watched the ship tack its way into the cove, the people waiting on the shore looking like dolls as they waved to the incoming craft. Children were leaping off the wharf, swarming around the small craft preparing to go out and meet the Siren.
Absently she stroked her hand over her distended belly, the baby inside kicking vigorously as if feeling her fingers running over her body.
"Shhhh...you are far too eager." She soothed, both hands running in circles over her tightly stretched skin, the child inside slowing its movements as Wendy slowed her stroking. "There, so much better than trying to kick your way out."
The breeze making her hair stream out behind her, brought with it the scent of the sea and the cries of the people below, the Siren now dropping her two huge anchors as the small craft from the shore approached, her shrouds being rapidly furled against the long spars as her crew scrabbled amongst the rat lines and rigging.
The sun suddenly appeared from behinds a long cloud and a spear of light illuminated the ship briefly before spreading to the shore and finally to the bluff where she stood. Holding up her hand to shield her eyes she squinted down at the sea but quite failed to see what she was looking for.
"You're not supposed to be tramping about in your condition!"
His voice behind her startled her and she spun around, teetering until strong arms encased her and steadied her.
"You shouldn't frighten me like that you wretch!"
Wendy's half hearted protest was cut off by a pair of eager lips that rapidly dispelled any lingering fright or anger. Despite her heavy body her husband held her close and didn't let her go until they were both breathless and, in Wendy's case, quite pink.
"Now that's a welcome worth waiting for." Peter grinned, nuzzling her neck, his hand held firmly pressed to her rounded belly, a tiny foot kicking out to greet his touch. Crouching down, he head now level with her bulge, Peter put his cheek against it, his hand still splayed across the expanse. He was rewarded with another movement, this time right by his face. Wendy looked down lovingly at him, her fingers threading through the thick silky curls pressed against her waist.
"I'd just got him to settle down." She sighed, Peter lifting his head away and peering up at her. "He's been kicking the life out of me this last hour."
"Oh you know...he, she, it...the baby."
Turning back to face her stomach, Peter tapped it gently. "Hey you, don't be so unkind to your poor mother. Now settle down and let her say hello to me properly."
Wendy laughed at his mock stern expression as Peter rose to his feet and wrapped her in his arms from behind.
"Did you miss me?"
"Of course not." Wendy replied, smiling to take the sting out of her words. "I've been far too busy with everything to know you'd even gone."
"Liar." Peter whispered against her ear, his cheek against her hair. "I missed you too. But that's the last long run for awhile, as I promised."
"Did it go well?" Enjoying the feel of his arms about her, she ignored her sore feet and swollen ankles and the faint twinges coming from her abdomen.
"As expected. There's plenty to trade, and supplies enough for several months."
Another twinge made her press her hand to her stomach, wincing at the slight pain. Another followed in quick succession and she couldn't repress a gasp.
"Wendy? What is it?" Peter turned her around and saw her wince, his own heart rate soaring as a spasm contorted her face in pain.
Not waiting for an answer, he lifted her up in his arms and instantly flew into the air, Wendy holding onto her swollen belly with one hand while her other arm encircled his neck.
"Where's Harry today?" He asked her as they slowly flew down from the headland, Peter taking the overland route rather than over the sea.
"I'm not sure...Peter it's too soon...the baby's not due for weeks!" Wendy gasped.
Hearing the fear spiking her voice, Peter pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Don't worry...it's probably just what baby's do...a practice run...or...or something."
"Practice run?" Wendy queried, concentrating on his words to avoid thinking about the regular pains cramping her stomach.
"Yes...testing the waters to see if we're ready."
"Everything is ready...ooooh ow." Wendy panted as another spasm gripped her flesh.
They were approaching the village at the base of the bluff, the small painter's, loaded with boxes and barrels, plying back and forth between the shore and the ship. Peter set them down near a group of sailors who instantly turned to face him.
"Does anyone know where Harry is?" He asked them, the men taking in the situation at a glance, from Peter's strained expression to Wendy's white face.
"He was going to the village Majesty, they have a sick child."
Flying slowly upwards Peter set a course for the Indian encampment, Wendy curled protectively into his body, her lips pulled back from her teeth in a grimace of pain.
"Hurry Peter...please hurry!"
Speeding as fast as he dared he flew above the trees to where thin threads of smoke rose into the blue sky, the tips of a forest of tepee's appearing in a clearing by a familiar looking river.
"We're here Wendy, hold on, Harry won't be far."
Landing among the tents, Peter and Wendy were instantly surrounded by a crowd of natives, their warm welcome overshadowed when Peter ordered someone to find the Doctor and bring him quickly. The wife of the chief indicated for Peter to carry Wendy into one of the tents, laying her down on a thick mat of skins, Wendy's hand reaching for his as she stared up at him with fearful eyes.
"It's too soon...it's too soon..."
"Shhhhhh...Harry will know what to do."
They heard a flurry of voices then the flap of the tepee was thrust aside and Harry ducked under the low doorway.
Kneeling down beside Wendy he placed his hand on her swollen stomach and held it there. Under his fingers he felt the muscles contract, Wendy gripping Peter's hand until her knuckles turned white as the pain spiked suddenly, leaving her breathless. Harry turned to the Chief's wife and asked for a bowl of water and a towel, before turning back and meeting the prospective parents worried stares.
"Your baby is eager to be born...congratulations."
"But it's too soon." Wendy wailed, another pain gripping her with iron bands. Harry took her other hand and she squeezed them both unmercifully until the spasm passed. Peter was looking a little white around the lips and Harry indicated for him to give his hand a shake to get the circulation going before Wendy needed it again.
"Is she right Harry? Is it too soon?"
"Babies have a habit of choosing their own time to arrive Peter. Wendy is a strong and very healthy, there's nothing to indicate a problem. But I would prefer she was aboard the Nymph when she gives birth."
"I want to go home Peter...please..."
"Is it safe to carry her in this condition?" Peter asked worriedly.
"We have a little time yet. Here's the water, let me make an quick examination then we'll have a better idea what's going on. This will feel uncomfortable, I'm afraid."
While Peter supported Wendy, Harry folded her dress back above her knees and prepared to give her an internal examination. After a quick exam he washed again and sat back on his heels, pulling her dress back down.
"We need to get you to the Nymph right away." Harry told them, helping Wendy to get to her feet, both men supporting her as they walked out of the tent into the bright sun. A crowd had gathered outside and Wendy hid her face in Peter's shoulder when he picked her up in his arms again.
"Take her to the Nymph Peter...I have to gather some supplies. The ships berthed at the wharf, as usual. I'll meet you there soon."
"What about...?" Peter started to say, slightly panicked.
Harry patted him on the arm. "She'll be fine Peter...this isn't the first baby to be born in the world."
Turning away, the Doctor hurried off, the Chief's wife at his side, both of them talking rapidly. Peter wasted no time and flew into the air, traveling the short distant to Crocodile Creek in less time that it took to say its name. There he saw the golden ship that had become his and Wendy's home, moored to the wharf with no sign of anyone aboard. Alighting on the main deck, Peter hurried towards the stern, ducking through the hatchway and along the passage to their cabin.
Kicking open the door he carefully laid Wendy on the bed, her fingers unable to let go of his shirt until he gently pried them away.
"Don't leave me...please don't leave me...I'm so afraid."
"I'm right here sweetness, I'm not going anywhere... Harry will be here soon..."
Racked by another pain, Wendy drew her bottom lip between her teeth and panted, drawing her legs up as Peter sat beside her, their hand's joined once more. Wendy moaned when her muscles finally relaxed, her head falling back on the pillows, her eyes finding Peter's.
"Oh Peter...it hurts...so badly...where's Harry?"
"Shhhh sweetness, he'll be here soon...try not to worry." Bending down he pressed a kiss to her brow, his own eyes shadowed with panic as Wendy gripped his hand again, her back arching as another contraction squeezed her relentlessly.
Not long after Peter heard hurrying footsteps on the deck and Harry appeared soon after carrying his medical bag and another satchel. Behind the Doctor stood the Chief's wife, Mirima, who bustled around the cabin.
Harry was taking Wendy's pulse, one hand holding a silver pocket watch while the other held her wrist. Satisfied, he then withdrew a long wooden stethoscope and held it to Wendy's belly, listening to the baby's heartbeat. The prospective parents watched him with curiosity and some caution, Wendy willing away the pain to concentrate on Harry's prognosis. Mirima held out a basin and Harry washed his hands, drying them on a snowy piece of cloth.
"We need to get you out of that dress Wendy. The baby is coming hard and fast and I expect your water's to break any time now. Don't fight the pains, they're getting your body ready to give birth. Breath deeply and try to relax...Mirima?"
Between the three of them, they got Wendy out of her dress and into a light shift. Mirima has folded a square of cloth and placed it between Wendy's legs, only just in time as liquid gushed from her body, accompanied by another intense contraction that left Wendy sweating and crying out.
"It hurts...oh it hurts.." Wendy moaned, turning her face into Peter's arm, her other hand gripping the wooden bedstead above her head.
"Is there nothing that will help?" Peter asked, accepting the cloth handed to him my Mirima to wipe Wendy's face.
"There is something we use to ease the ordeal...it does not take away all the pain, but does help." Mirima told him, raising an eyebrow at Harry who only hesitated a second before nodding. Mirima quickly withdrew a pouch from around her neck and went to the kettle set up on a spirit burner, steam issuing from its spout. Taking a cup she sprinkled some herbs into it and poured on the hot water. Swirling it in her brown hands she carried it back to the bed and held it out to Peter, who sniffed it before holding it to Wendy's lips.
"Here love...drink this."
Draining the cup, Wendy fell back against the pillows, her face contorted with the pain gripping her body. Mirima changed the cloth between her legs, the amniotic fluid now reduced to a trickle. Harry indicated for Peter to position himself behind Wendy to act as her bolster, raising her up against his chest, his legs either side of her body, their hands entwined. Harry positioned himself at the end of the bed, Mirima bustling about, throwing open the windows of the cabin, letting in the smell of the sea and flowers, the sounds of birds and insects. Harry was muttering encouragement to Wendy, Peter whispering endearments into her ears as she strained, teeth gritted, to bring their baby into the world, her body taut as muscles clenched and flesh contracted, all the time pushing to expel the child within.
Peter wondered if he'd ever feel his fingers again as Wendy pushed back against him, her mouth open on a scream as a violent contraction squeezed her belly, Harry between her legs yelling at her to bear down.
"One more push Wendy...breath girl, breath...that's it...the head is crowning...relax now, relax...prepare yourself for one more...that's it...now PUSH!"
With a mighty effort despite her exhaustion and pain Wendy bore down, pushing with everything she had, her reward slipping suddenly into the world from the warmth of her body into Harry waiting hands, Mirima handing him the cloths to clean the baby's face and mouth of mucous. Wendy lay collapsed against Peter, her eyes closed as she panted, Peter staring at the Doctor and Mirima working on the infant at the end of the bed. Harry was tying off the cord and held a sharp knife, glancing up at Peter and getting his permission before cutting the umbilical and separating the baby from its mother. Mirima swept the child up in a soft cloth just as a thin wail announced its arrival in the world. Wendy instantly opening her eyes and crying out, struggling to lift her head to see her child.
Leaving Harry to deal with the afterbirth, Mirima leant over the bed and handed the tiny wrapped bundle to its awestruck parents, Peter unaware of the tracks of moisture running down his face, Wendy taking the child and holding it to her chest, parting the folds of material to peer in wonder at their creation.
Harry looked up and grinned at the young people so engrossed in staring at their new child, Peter reaching out a finger to touch the petal soft skin of the babies head, the silky strands of golden hair like fairy down on its scalp.
"Oh Peter...he's beautiful...so beautiful.." Wendy whispered, tears overflowing her eyes, her lips pulled into a smile of tenderness and wonderment.
"He?" Peter looked up at Harry, as if the sex of the child had been unimportant until that moment. "It's a boy?"
"Yes Peter...you have a son."
For a second Peter stared stupidly at the Doctor, then at Mirima, before a smile broke over his face like the sun rising, his eyes alight with love and awe at having had a part in so miraculous an undertaking as producing a son.
"Wendy we have a son."
"I know...isn't he just perfect?"
She had discovered a tiny starfish hand among the folds and was ardently kissing each fragile finger, the baby waving its arm about before Peter stroked its palm with a tip of his finger, the baby wrapping his own around his fathers with a sure grip.
"I just need to press on your abdomen to expel the afterbirth Wendy...there shouldn't be any discomfort...just relax." Harry instructed her, Wendy oblivious to anything but her baby as the Doctor completed the last ritual of birth, handing the bloody remains of the cord and placenta to Mirima to take care of. "You'll continue to pass fluid for the next few days, a bit like your monthly courses, so you'll need to wear a pad until they subside." Harry continued to tell the new mother, not worried when neither Wendy nor Peter acknowledge that he existed, they were too busy cooing and playing with their son to worry about the practicalities of giving birth. Shrugging, Harry turned to Mirima and the two exchanged a silent conversation. Happy that Mirima would take care of the new mother, Harry cleaned himself up and bundled the soiled linen into a pile to take deck side.
"Congratulations Peter, Wendy...have you thought of a name for the new prince of Neverland?"
"Christopher." Wendy announced without hesitation, glancing up at Peter who bent his head and kissed her.
Harry nodded his approval and turned to leave, pausing before leaving the cabin. "You'll need to rest Wendy, and before long he'll want to feed."
"Thank you Harry...I'm so glad you were here with us." Wendy's heartfelt gratitude brought a lump to the Doctors throat.
"I was glad I was able to help. Light meals for now, young lady, and sleep when you feel the need. Give your body a chance to heal."
Wendy only nodded, her attention already returned to the bundle starting to squawl in her arms. Mirima took the child while Peter extricated himself from behind, Wendy glad to lay back against the soft pillows and close her eyes while Peter took the baby from Mirima and rocked it in his arms. Mirima continued to bustled quietly around the cabin, replacing the soiled bed linen and checking the pad of cloth between Wendy's legs, tutting to herself as she worked. Peter kept out of her way and held his child close to his chest, marveling in wonder at the babies petal soft perfection, the child blinking up at him with its unfocused blue eyes. Pausing by one of the open windows, Peter gazed out across the water to the jungle lining the bank, sunlight sparkling on the limpid green waters of the creek, the song of the birds fluting through the air as if welcoming the baby into the world.
"Welcome to Neverland, Christopher...welcome to your world...my son."
Turning back from the window, he saw Mirima beaming at him, her nut brown face wreathed in smiles. Wendy lay on her side facing him, her eyes open, watching him as he walked towards the bed. Laying the baby down, he stretched himself beside her, Christopher between them. The child started to cry and Wendy flicked a glance up at Mirima who indicated to her chest, Wendy smiling her understanding and undoing her chemise, exposing her rosy tipped breast, the flesh full of milk.
With infinite care the new mother put her baby to the breast, the small mouth finding the nipple and greedily latching on, one star fish hand kneading the firm skin, Wendy gasped at the unfamiliar sensation, looking up wide-eyed at Peter who watched it all with undisguised curiosity.
"Oh my...he's certainly hungry!" Wendy laughed softly, watching her baby feed, his small mouth tugging forcefully at her flesh. Peter sighed deeply and reached over, smoothing back a strand of hair from her face.
"He's beautiful Wendy...as beautiful as you."
Glancing up, she smiled mistily at Peter, love shining from her face both for her new baby and for him, her husband and the father of her child.
"I love you Peter...for ever and always,"
"To have and to hold, never to be parted...my love, my Wendy, my Queen." He affirmed in a whisper.
Over the head of their child, Peter and Wendy kissed, not in passion or in desperation, but in love, the scene in the cabin repeated several more times over the coming years, their love unchanging and ever steadfast, having and holding on to each other for as long as they both did live.
And beyond the cabin, all of Neverland rejoiced.
Thank you for your company, dear readers, take care until we meet again.