A/N: Should I be posting this now? No, probably not. But what can I say? Starting another story when I have five papers (I kid you not, FIVE) to complete (two to completely write from the beginning) during the next week ... probably not my best idea. But considering it gives you guys something to read while pretending that Real Life doesn't exist ...
She had known the first time that she had gotten sick that she was pregnant. He had known about a week before, but of course she hadn't believed him.
DG rolled her eyes, thinking that after almost three annuals married to Wyatt Cain, and a little over four annuals of living with him, that she'd know when he was right about things like this. Now she had to go tell him that Leena said she was pregnant, too. That should be a great boost for his ego.
Not that his ego needed boosting, mind you. There was something about being married to the heir to the Goblin Throne, and already being "the Man" that seemed to have Wyatt's ego swelling to the size of the Bog of Eternal Stench. ... Except he smelled much better than that horrid Bog. He was better looking, too, now that she thought about it.
As she walked down the hall she heard a happy squeal from behind her. When she turned around she found a chubby toddler bounding toward her, arms outstretched. "DD!" the baby boy called happily.
DG smiled at her cousin's name for her as she knelt to pick him up. "Garret!" she responded, equally happy. It was always a pleasant experience to play with the bouncing lad -- it seemed as if it was impossible for him to get upset.
"Aha!" she heard another voice from the direction Garret had run from. "There you are, you little goblin," Jareth said as he approached his niece and his son with a smile. "I see he's roped you into helping him escape bath time."
"Oh, is that what he's escaping?" DG asked with a smile. "And here I thought I just radiated 'baby zone' or something."
Jareth's smile widened, a twinkle in his eyes at the news. "Have you told Wyatt yet?"
DG raised her eyebrow at her uncle, "Are you kidding? He's the one that told me last week."
Her uncle plucked his wayward son from her arms, motioning with his head behind her, "Well I suggest you let him know that he was right."
DG turned around to face her husband while her uncle and cousin made a hasty retreat back to the bath.
"I saw Leena today," she told him as she greeted him with a hug.
"Really?" he replied, a twinkle in his eyes. "And what did she say?"
His wife smiled up at him, standing up a little taller on her toes, she kissed him deeply. When she pulled back she said, "Wyatt, you're going to be a daddy. Again."
The joy in his face was more than worth having to listen to him mumble against her mouth, "Told you so."
Footsteps approached them, but husband and wife didn't relinquish their hold on each other until the owner of the footsteps cleared his throat, "What have I told you guys about doing that where I can see you? There's a reason your rooms have doors on them -- locks, too."
DG had to pull back at that, giving her step-son an amused look as she said, "Well I'm sorry, but you're just going to have to get used to it. I've been told that my hormones will be all over the place over the next few months and there's no telling what I'll do."
Jeb frowned at her, "Mom, what are you saying?"
She grinned at him, "Congratulations, Jeb, you're going to be a big brother."
He gaped at the two of them in shock, "What?"
"I know you haven't gone deaf in the past two seconds, son," Wyatt said, his own grin radiating his joy.
"A baby?" Jeb asked, wanting to make sure his ears weren't deceiving him. "Really?"
DG nodded, pleased he seemed to be taking it well.
She needn't have worried. If she was unsure of how he'd accept having a sibling at sixteen annuals, the hug he gave them both was strong enough to assuage her fears. Looked like they were going to be one big happy family.
The dreams started that night. DG had had dreams before, but these were more snippets of something larger, and more real than her other dreams were. She dreamt that she was five annuals old again, wandering the forest near Finaqua with Az.
She dreamt of the cave where they had met the Witch, and she dreamt that she let go of Azkadellia's hand.
DG woke with a sharp gasp, sitting straight up in bed as the image of the Witch entering her sister's young body filled her mind's eye.
"Dot?" Wyatt's sleepy voice asked from his spot next to her in bed. His hand came up to stroke her arm, "What's wrong?"
DG looked back at her husband with a soft smile: nothing could hurt her while his arms were around her. She leaned back down into his warm embrace, "Nothing, Wyatt. Just a bad dream."
He pulled her close, his mind waking up quickly. "Wanna tell me about it?"
She shook her head as she attempted to burrow further into his side, "No." He waited while she gathered her thoughts before adding anyway, "I dreamt about the cave ... and the Witch. I let go of Az's hand and the Witch went inside her."
Wyatt kissed the top of her head. "It's just a dream, darlin'. Nothin' can hurt you when I've got you, Dot. Nothing." He kissed her head again before shifting so she could more easily curl into his side.
As she fell asleep again, DG couldn't help but wonder if it was really only a dream.
Those first few weeks, when the morning sickness was at its worst, DG was terrified that she might miscarry. Her worries were made even more troublesome because of two things: one, Azkadellia was pregnant with her second child at the same time as DG -- it made no difference that she was nearly five months farther along than her younger sister; and two, the dreams weren't subsiding.
DG went through her days painting on a smile for her subjects and friends and family. She began to dread her nights. Not all of the dreams were bad -- some of them were quite nice snippets of some other life they all might have led if things had gone differently, but it was the nightmares that filled her thoughts. Nightmares about what might have happened to Wyatt, Jeb, Azkadellia, Jareth ... everyone that she cared most about, all centering around the Witch.
"You alright, Dot?" Wyatt asked as he approached his wife's perch on the edge of the wall that separated the fieries' forest from the rest of the inner Labyrinth.
DG looked up at her husband with a smile, one hand absently resting on her stomach (which was now, at three months along, starting to protrude quite cutely, if Wyatt did think so himself). "I'd be perfect if you stopped calling me Dot, Wyatt."
He groaned as he lowered himself to sit beside her on the wall, pulling her against him gently. "Why? The court doesn't like the idea of having a Queen DG, and you absolutely refuse to let people call you Dorothy. Dot is a perfect alternative."
"Queen Dot of the Labyrinth." She raised her eyebrows, giving him a look, "Oh yes, I'm sure it'll strike fear into the hearts of men and women everywhere," DG grinned at him as he put one of his hands over her stomach, covering her own hand quite thoroughly. She looked down at their hands and her smile turned introspective, "There was a day not that long ago when your hand covered my whole stomach."
Wyatt put his other hand under her chin, lifting her face so he could look his wife in the eye. "I love you, darlin'. Every day I love you more and more -- even if you're gettin' bigger because you're carryin' my baby inside you." He caught her mouth in a heated kiss. "It just makes me love you more."
She looked up at him with wide eyes full of unshed tears. "Do you mean that?"
He gave her a warm smile, "Always and forever."
She smiled back, her worries momentarily forgotten, "Then you can call me Dot. But everyone else has to call me Thia."
Wyatt chuckled against her mouth, "I'm sure your uncle wouldn't mind making a royal proclamation or somethin' of that sort."
"Peanut, darling, stay away from the edge. You don't want to topple off and hurt yourself," Azkadellia told her daughter as she toddled about on the gazebo.
Being a curious one annual old was hard work, but Imelda (called Peanut by all her family) was good at being one and didn't like how high up the gazebo seemed from the rest of the ground.
Azkadellia watched her little girl explore the inner workings of the gazebo -- and the numerous toys that had been moved out there for her to play with. It was hard for her to believe that her little was already almost eighteen months old. And already there was another on the way.
She grinned at the memory of finding out she was pregnant the second time. This baby was made solely out of the love between a man and a woman.
That's not to say that Peanut wasn't loved, nor wanted, but Imelda was a child born to rule a country, and she would do a fine job if her parents had anything to say about it. Azkadellia wouldn't and couldn't claim to love her husband, but Prince Consort Arrington Somerfield was a good man and a good father. Imelda was a lucky girl to have not only one but two loving, doting fathers and mothers.
It had been a bit difficult and awkward to get used to at first, but a sort of routine had developed with Arrington and Azkadellia ... and their consorts. It was not a secret that they both had lovers, but the very existence of little Peanut quelled the growing protests some of the members of court had about the marriage. It was a marriage of convenience, to be sure, but Az and Arrington had developed a friendship over the long months waiting for Imelda to be born. Their friendship, and their firm hand in dealing with the matters Nesa delegated to them, made them rise in admiration in the eyes of the people.
Azkadellia would be allowed her second consort, and Arrington would be allowed his consort, just so long as nothing happened to Peanut.
When the baby squealed in joy at something in the distance, Azkadellia rose slowly to see what had caught her daughter's eye. One hand was on her massively protruding stomach in an attempt to steady herself. No matter how many times she did this, she was positive that she'd never get used to the feeling of having a watermelon attached to her front side.
Az grinned when she caught sight of her sister, also noticeably pregnant even at only four months, and her family. She waved, knowing better than to run toward her sister in the state they both were in. Adrian would give her a tongue lashing if she tried to run while nine months pregnant.
Peanut started babbling happily as her cousin came bounding up and picked her up, twirling her around before settling her on his hip.
"How's my best girl?" Jeb asked the baby as she wrapped her chubby arms around his neck and plopped a very slobbery kiss on his cheek.
DG laughed as she listened to her step-son talk to Az's little girl, "I'm not sure the cook's daughter ... what's her name, Wyatt? Lya, isn't it? Anyway, I'm not sure Lya would appreciate hearing you talk like that about another girl, Jeb."
Jeb just smiled down at the little girl in his arms who seemed fascinated by his jacket. "Lya knows she comes in a close second, but Peanut will always be my best girl."
"Good to hear you've got your mind made up then," Wyatt teased his son with a grin. He moved to embrace his sister-in-law. "You look well, Az."
She smiled back at him, watching her nephew interact with her daughter, "Thank you, Wyatt. You look well, too." Turning her attention to her sister she frowned, "And you look like you haven't been sleeping."
Her younger sister shrugged, one hand absentmindedly rubbing her stomach. "I've been sleeping ... just having some bad dreams is all."
"Nightmares is more like it," Wyatt put in, giving his wife a hard look. "You wake up almost every other night in a cold sweat, darlin'."
"Oh, Deej," Az said, moving to give her sister a hug. She pulled back slightly, "I guess it should be Thia, then, shouldn't it?"
Thia smiled at her sister, "For you I'll always be Deej, Az." She glared at her husband, "Just like someone won't stop calling me Dot."
Wyatt just grinned, offering his wife and sister-in-law his arms to escort them back to the palace, Jeb and Peanut a little ways behind.
"When are they expected back?" Thia asked her sister as they relaxed in the sitting room, a fire roaring in the hearth while Adrian, Jeb, and Wyatt played a game of darts.
Az took another sip of her tea before responding, "Tomorrow evening. Father said Mother has to get something to fulfill some prophecy or other."
Thia and Wyatt exchanged a look. "The Emerald," Wyatt said softly.
"How do you know about the Emerald?" Az asked curiously, her brow furrowed, "Mother only told me about it a few hours before she left."
His eyes widened a little at he looked at his sister-in-law, "Dot's been dreaming about it. It's part of her nightmares. Why does your mother need the Emerald?"
Thia looked at her husband before turning to her sister, one hand resting protectively on her stomach, "The majestic queen of the O.Z.?"
Az nodded, picking up where her sister left off, "Had two lovely daughters, she. One to Darkness, she be drawn, and one to Light, she be shown."
"Double eclipse it is foreseen, Light meets Dark in the Stillness between," Thia's voice was sure and clear and sent a shiver down Jeb's spine listening to it.
"But only one and one alone shall hold the Emerald and take the throne," Az concluded. Her hands held her stomach as a grimace formed on her face.
"Az?" Adrian asked, his voice holding a note of fear that Wyatt could understand well. He'd been petrified when Adora had started having labor pains in the middle of the night. Adrian went to his lover's side, the consort ring on his finger glinting in the fire light as he grasped her arm. "What's wrong? Is it the baby?"
Az looked at him through the haze of what was beginning to happen. She gasped as she tried to force past the contraction that wracked her body, "I think my water just broke."
"You have great timing, sis," Thia said with a smile as Wyatt called for servants to come and help.
Az gave her sister a strained smile in return, "I try."
A/N: Just so you know, Peanut had four name changes before I settled on her name. If you don't like it, shove it, because I do.
Don't expect a post until next weekend. Fair warning, right? ... I might be able to swing a post before that, but seriously, no promises.