Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters or this series and I don't wish to make any profit from this story.

Time Off

"I have informed the ministers you will not be available for the next week."

Irene raised an eyebrow at her husband's reflection in the mirror. The tips of the comb teeth prickled her scalp as it glided through her hair. It landed on the vanity table with a sharp tap and the queen of Attolia turned. "And why would you do that my king?"

Eugenides sat up from his perch on her bed. He raised one knee and wrapped his arms around it. "Because you need rest."

Irene pushed herself out of her chair and gripped the chair's arm to steady herself. "I am a queen, I don't need rest."

"You are also currently seven months with child." The king tapped his fake hand against his leg. "And when you consider your fainting spell today-"

"I was not fainting," Irene expressed in an icy tone. She directed her gaze to the bed frame as she made her way over and sat on the edge, never making eye contact.

The irritation of the incident still lingered. She had been heading to her meeting with Teleus when suddenly the long corridor began to spin. Phresine and another attendant caught her and let their queen grip their arms as the world around her spun and then began to solidify once again.

She spent the rest of the morning with petrified attendants fluttering around her like headless chickens with Petrus examining every inch of her body for any sign of an oncoming illness. He had been nervously coaxing her to drink herbs when her king came bursting into her chambers.

His pale and scared face brought back dark memories and she prayed never to see it again. The king's attendants hovered at her door, unsure if they should enter or not.

In the end, Petrus wrote it off as exhaustion and urged her to take bed rest and drink her weight in special herbs. She told him it would not be necessary. She spent the rest of the morning convincing her husband the whole ordeal was nothing to erase the worry from his eyes. It was clear she had failed in her endeavor.

The king crawled up next to his wife and blocked her view of the wooden frame. "You need to rest."

"You are becoming as bad as our dear Petrus. "

"Insults won't change the subject." Eugenides kept his stern frown. He reached out and cupped Irene's chin. The fear still lingered. "My queen, I would be eternally grateful to not be worrying of you becoming ill because you are pushing yourself." He kissed her cheek and his gaze softened. "Please, Irene." He sounded like a small child begging for reassurance that there were no monsters under his bed.

The queen sighed. If she said no, her husband's plea would haunt her for days on end. In defeat she laid her head against the king's chest. "Fine, but you shall have to suffer alone with the barons in the meantime."

"A small sacrifice." Eugenides pulled his wife down onto the pillow. "And I've been meaning to have a word with Baron Drakon anyway." He threaded the queen's hair through his fingers and gave a gentle tug. "If the baby is a girl, he has been planning on having our future daughter marry his son. His son is fifteen isn't he?"

"His sixteenth birthday was last month my king." She raised her head. "And what shall you tell him?"

Eugenides smirked. "That you would be more than happy to offer his son your wine glass at the wedding celebration." He laid his chin on her head. "Or would you prefer that I inform him I shall offer to shake his son's hand with my hook as part of my blessing?"

Irene closed her eyes. "No, your first suggestion shall do."

Gen kissed her cheek. "And if he's stupid enough to take that as a yes, I'll throw an ink bottle at his brainless head."

The two feel silent. Irene basked in the warmth of her king's body. Her right hand stroked her stomach as the small life within gave a kick. "We still need to pick a name."

"I thought we agreed to name her after my mother."

"A boy's name my king."

"Oh, that's simple. He'll be Eugenides the second."

Irene poked his chest. "No, that will be too confusing."

"Not for me."

"No," Irene replied firmly.

"Very well, you decide then since you allowed me to choose a name for a girl."

The queen lifted her head, meeting her king's gaze. "Are you hoping it's a girl?"

Eugenides tilted his head and brushed his bangs away from his face. "I honestly don't care. As long as he or she has ten toes and fingers and has your eyes I shall be content."

Irene stared at her round belly, continuously letting her fingers circle it. "A girl would be safer." She stiffened. "In the royal family of Attolia, the eldest prince hasn't lived to take the crown for three generations."

Eugenides's arms tightened around her shoulders, giving a tender squeeze. "That is true, but the next prince born will have a great advantage over his past relatives."

"And what is that my king?"

The king kissed her lips. "He shall also be the son of a thief and I shall teach him my tricks". He smiled.

Irene returned a small smile that few others have witnessed. She rested her head on her husband's chest. Perhaps it was a lie, but it was a lie she was willing to believe for the time being.