Thanks to everyone who's reviewed and is still following this story. This was one of the toughest chapters to write as I wanted to stay true to Lyn's 'prickly/difficult' character, but also show the vulnerability she feels in her marriage. Hope you enjoy!
Lyn sat there in stunned silence for a few moments as the healer continued to congratulate her on her pregnancy. Another baby? A second pregnancy? It all seemed so unreal. Then again, Lyn did some mental calculations in her head; it had been about eight weeks since her last course. She hadn't even noticed because she'd been so busy pondering her marriage and her future these last few weeks. And she had been feeling a lot more tired and emotional lately. It all made sense when she thought about it.
To Lyn's surprise, a memory bubbled up inside her. It was something from the deepest, darkest recesses of her mind. Something she hadn't thought about in years and years. She remembered that when she had been nineteen, she had nearly died whilst living in Snake Mountain.
Back then, on one of the lower levels of the mountain, there had been a room that contained a large pool. It was not the sort of pool one would swim in. It was murky and dark and rock-filled. It was only there because Merman sometimes used it- it contained a tunnel that led to the Sea of Rakash. Lyn liked to walk by the pool at night, when moonlight streamed through the cracks in the walls and reflected on the inky black water. It was a quiet place where Lyn could sit with her thoughts and lament the fact that she and her comrades were stuck behind the Mystic Wall.
On this particular night, Lyn had been unable to sleep, so she'd meandered down to sit on the rocks beside the silent pool and think about life. This had been years before she'd cut her hair short- it had been down past her shoulders then. She was wearing a silky black nightgown, the same shade as the water. It had happened so fast. She'd just been skirting the edges of the pool when she'd slipped. As she fell, she'd hit her head on one of the rocks surrounding the water's edge. She'd fallen straight into the inky depths of the water, unable to react fast enough to save herself. Everything underwater was black, she couldn't tell if her eyes were open anymore or not and she felt the water rushing all around her as she sank. She knew that she was losing consciousness because of hitting her head. Her last thought was how sad it was that no-one had seen her, and she was going to die here.
But she'd been wrong. Tri-klops had seen her. He'd been getting a drink of water when she floated past the kitchen in her nightgown, and curiosity had gotten the better of him- he'd decided to follow her and had seen the whole thing. He'd watched Lyn wander round the edges of the pool, seen her trip and hit her head and go into the water. Her white arms vanishing into the black depths. He'd leapt into action, racing to the water's edge and reaching down into the blackness to pull her out. She hadn't been in long enough to lose consciousness properly, but she'd choked and spluttered all the same once Tri-klops heaved her onto dry land. The tech scooped her soaked form up into his arms and carried her to his lab. He had stripped off her sodden nightgown and Lyn was in such a state of shock that she did not try to fight him, she did not even register the fact that she was stark naked before him. Tri-klops did not seem to care either- he was in what she called 'mechanical mode' when he felt nothing and only focused on what needed to be done- completing his 'rescue mission'. He had promptly wrapped her up in a towel and pressed a cup of hot tea into her hands, then scanned her quickly with a doomseeker to make sure she was okay. Then he'd gone to report to Skeletor on what had happened.
Skeletor had been unsympathetic and had berated Evil-Lyn for her 'stupidity'. He had then banned anyone other than Merman from going near the pool. She hadn't cared; it gave her a shiver to even think about that pool. She'd been a lot younger and softer then and it had taken her two whole days to recover from the shock of nearly losing her life. But she distinctly remembered giving thanks to Tri-klops.
"You saved my life" she'd said to him.
The tech had just shrugged, it was not important to him "Anyone would've done what I did."
No, they wouldn't have. Beastman and some of the others would have certainly let her drown, but she just gave Tri-klops a mysterious smile.
"Maybe next time the tables will turn" she said to him "Maybe next time, you'll be in danger and I can save your life."
But she hadn't.
Lyn didn't know why she remembered this all of a sudden. Her near drowning had been many years ago and it didn't seem to have anything to do with discovering that she was pregnant, and then she realised the connection. How she'd felt when she'd been submerged in that water- helpless and confused and losing control- that was how she felt now. It was as if her eyes were open and she couldn't see anything and didn't know which way to turn. She was waiting for someone to come and pull her up onto dry land. She hated feeling vulnerable- that was why she'd buried the drowning memory so deeply, but now she knew she was definitely vulnerable again. Alone in this palace, with a small child and a husband who wanted to be with his friends all the time, and another baby on the way. She sighed.
On the one hand, a part of her was filled with a kind of excitement and joy at the thought of a new baby. It would be good for Helen to have a sibling- a little brother or sister to play with. She was proud of her body, and what it could achieve. Proud that she was able to have another baby. He-man would be thrilled and Teela would be spitting blood, she thought smugly. She ran a hand tenderly over her flat stomach. She thanked the healer and left his rooms, still pondering the turn her life had taken.
During her last pregnancy, He-man had treated her just like a princess. He'd always been good to her, but once they found out she was having a baby, He-man started to treat his wife as if she were a delicate object that was made out of glass. He seemed to forget that she'd once been a warrior. Nothing was too good for her or too much trouble for him. If she had a craving for the Garua berries that grew on the eastern side of the Evergreen forest, she just had to say the word and He-man would fetch them for her. If she asked him to take a day off work to be with her, he would drop everything. Of course, she didn't really need all those things. But she was intrigued that she had her husband totally in her power for the first time. She made a little game of it- ask for something and see how long it would take him to do it. Now she was having her second pregnancy, Lyn was looking forward to being pampered by He-man again, she'd been feeling a little neglected lately. Some pampering and adoration were just what she needed.
But then again, the last few months of her pregnancy with Helen had been difficult, and now she was three years older. Would she be consigned to bedrest again? Lyn mused over this as she headed towards the nursery. She had given birth to Helen at home in her cottage and she had liked the fact that she had begun her 'family' in this place that was all hers. Wouldn't giving birth in the palace feel rather impersonal? Lyn wasn't sure that her husband would understand such things, and for the first time, she wished that she had a friend to talk to. But she had no friends.
She had the fleeting idea that maybe she could use her pregnancy to persuade He-man to move back to their cottage. He would probably agree to it- he would probably agree to anything that she wanted when she was in such a 'condition', but she was worried that He-man might resent her in the future for ruining his chance to live in the palace and be with the Masters again. Lyn knew full well that a baby could not patch up a broken marriage for anything longer than a few years. If she made He-man leave the palace, it would be one of those things that was always hanging over them, ready to be brought up in bitter, future arguments. She had to stay in the palace with him.
Of course, it was likely that when he found out about her pregnancy, he would be so devoted to her that it would leave any potential rivals for his affections out in the cold. But that thought didn't make Lyn as happy as it should and she knew why. She wanted He-man to love her like a normal husband and want to be with her because he enjoyed her company, not just because she was pregnant. But how would she ever know if he truly loved her? The second she told him she was pregnant, all their problems would be swept under the rug, forgotten but not gone.
'Unless you don't tell him that you're pregnant' said a little voice inside Lyn's head. That was a ridiculous idea of course. He would notice in a few weeks when she started to get bigger. She would have to tell him.
"But not yet…." The voice continued "…give yourself a few weeks first. By then you might know if he really wants to be with you. You might know the 'truth' about your marriage and where you stand."
The 'truth'? The idea of it made her shudder. How could she not tell her husband she was pregnant- the idea of such deception was beyond even her, wasn't it? She shook the thoughts off as if they were made of nothing more than dust and went to collect Helen from the nursery. She did not indulge in jovial chit-chat with any of the nursemaids. She was too afraid that her emotions might reveal themselves and give her away. Instead, she took Helen back to her room and settled down to read a children's book with her. Whilst Lyn pointed things out in the book and Helen exclaimed excitedly, she admitted that she felt a stab of pleasure at the idea that she was going to have a new baby. Helen seemed to grow up so fast; it was nice to think that she would have the chance to do this again.
Suddenly, the door opened and He-man walked in. He looked so stern and authoritarian that a shiver went down Lyn's spine. He clearly was still irritated at their fight earlier.
"Daddy!" Helen cried out, holding out her little arms and breaking some of the tension in the room. He-man walked over and scooped his daughter up. He looked so huge compared to the tiny child.
"Hello, my darling." He said to his daughter. He ignored Lyn.
"It's time for your nap, Helen." Lyn said, glancing at the clock on the wall.
"I'll take her." He-man said and it wasn't a question. He strode into the side room to put Helen to sleep. Lyn was left standing there alone in the middle of their bedroom. At a loss for what to do, she stripped off her fingerless gloves and placed them away, then she removed her shoes and went and sat on the bed. She knew what was coming.
Lyn had always been a firm believer in the idea of young children needing routine. Her father had always let her do whatever she wanted and she'd turned out wild and undisciplined. She wasn't willing to repeat his mistakes, so she had set Helen in a firm routine. Every day, Helen was put down for a nap at one o'clock. He-man knew that, so Lyn guessed that it was no accident that he'd come into their room just as Helen was about to take a nap. He obviously wanted to have a 'serious talk' with Lyn about what had happened that morning. She was not looking forward to this.
When He-man came out of the small side room, he still looked rather stern. He was so wonderfully handsome, even when he was angry, Lyn thought. He-man settled himself on the bed beside her.
"We need to talk." He said coolly.
Lyn felt an unwelcome jolt of fear. Pregnancy always made her feel much more vulnerable than she would've liked. Part of her wanted to fight He-man some more, part of her was tired of fighting and just wanted to ask He-man to take care of her, like a husband should. She let herself lean against her husband. He was a little taken aback at first, but he put an arm around her. He did not lift his gaze from the floor though. Lyn opened her mouth to try to tell He-man about the pregnancy and all she was feeling, but she just didn't have it in her to be that open and honest with him. She closed her mouth again.
"He-man- don't leave me." was all she managed. That was as close as she could get to telling him how she felt and what she wanted. He-man looked at her in surprise.
"Lyn, of course I'm not going to leave you." He said gently, kissing the top of her head "How could you even think such a thing?"
"I know we haven't been getting on so well lately…" she began, but then she trailed off, unsure of what to say next. She was trying to regain some sort of control over what was happening, but He-man had all the control and she was drowning once again, confused and needing to be pulled to shore.
"Lots of couples have ups and downs." He-man said soothingly. He was no longer stern. He-man was far too 'good' to stay angry for long. He always forgave quickly. Lyn flopped back onto the bed, feeling some of the tension dissipate. He-man lay down beside her and rested a hand gently on her stomach. She felt a tingly feeling and wanted to tell him about the baby, but they needed to have this conversation first. She turned so she was lying on her side, facing him. In fact, their faces were only inches apart. He-man kissed the tip of her nose gently.
"Are you really unhappy here, Lyn?" he asked tenderly.
"I don't really like it." She said honestly "But I know you're happy here."
"I am- I can't lie." He told her and her eyes slid sideways with discontentment.
Seeing the look on his wife's face, He-man considered something "How about a compromise? You give the palace a certain amount of time, say, three months or so? If you still hate it after that, we can go back to the cottage."
Lyn thought this through. Three months in this palace? She was sure she could last three months. Of course, she could have a tantrum and refuse and demand to go back to the cottage right now, but she didn't want He-man to resent her and think she'd ruined his chances. What choice did she really have?
"Fine- three months it is." She muttered grudgingly.
"You have to promise to really give it a chance!" He-man told her.
"I promise." She said, even more grudgingly. She wasn't happy about this, but at least she had a time-frame to work with. Three months and then hopefully, she and Helen and He-man would be out of this place. Where would her marriage be in three months' time though? She mused over this. Would Teela have tried to swoop in to claim He-man? Would the Masters have turned her husband against her? She tried to think that wasn't possible, but deep down inside, she knew that she really needed to discover where she stood in her husband's affections. She needed to know if he really wanted to be with her, without anything else influencing his decision. That meant that she wasn't going to tell He-man about her pregnancy anytime soon. It would be her little secret.