The queen looked around, now actually feeling ill. "Stop moving so fast, please." The servants and maids slowed their activity a notch, but only sped back up when the queen went pale trying to stifle coughs.
"You need to cough." One of her trusted maids, known as Piper Lockett, placed a damp cloth on her head. "You'll choke not trying."
The queen managed to roll her eyes between the spasms. "I know." She heard Piper stifle in giggles. Piper had always found it amusing to see the queen behave so childishly. "Where's Phillip?"
"He's still looking. Or well, ordering men to look more carefully." Piper said, looking at the queen with a reproach. The queen stifled the urge to roll her eyes again. She could always tell when her servants looked at her differently. There were casual glances, and then there were She's getting weaker glances. The latter annoyed her.
"I'm not going to die." The queen said, letting a little bit of her annoyance seep into her tone. Her hand went to her belly protectively. Being with-child had always seemed like some sort of gift when it wasn't you. Now it seemed like a curse. Phillip sometimes looked at her with such fear in his eyes that it made her scared.
"Well, of course not, your Highness." Another servant, his name was Jared Frost, smiled.
The queen wanted to say, "No need to humor me," but stayed silent.
Piper shooed the other servants away, except Jared. He lingered by the threshold. "Would you like a bath?"
The queen looked at the washroom and then nodded. "All right," her voice was barely a whisper now. She was suddenly filled with fear –what if she fell in?- but shrugged it away. She looked at Jared. "Can you tell Phillip where I am if he comes home?"
Jared smiled, though it didn't reach his eyes. "Always."
Piper helped the queen undress and commented lightly on the size of her belly. "No wonder he or she," she winked, "is giving you so much trouble!"
The queen managed a grin before sinking into the ivory tub. "I'm just glad that they're growing." She sometimes wished the palace didn't worry so much. Some women were ill like her during pregnancy, and they still were alive to deliver healthy babies. God only gives us what we can handle, she remembered her late father.
"I'll leave you be, but call for me when you want to come out." Piper fixed the queen with a glare. Piper had been a civilian like the queen had before Phillip had whisked her off her feet. He had been born royalty, and the queen hadn't. Because of her tight bond with Piper, Phillip had ordered Piper her own room and a role to serve the queen. In other words, he made best friends take care of each other.
The queen laid her head back against the tube, her eyes closed and one hand on her belly. Some days, it was too easy to imagine that it was a normal pregnancy, and that she wasn't ill. She didn't think she was ill anyways. She just got bad headaches –migraines, Piper had called them- and coughing fits. Sometimes she'd go through a day of having morning sickness again. She hated those days with a passion.
"Amelia?" Piper knocked on the door. Amelia answered. Not too many people called her by her birth name. Some called her Leah, which was one of her many nicknames.
"Are you well?"
The queen felt confused. "Of course, I'm well. Why do you ask such a thing?"
"I've been knocking for five minutes."
"I must have fallen asleep. I'll get out now."
"No! Let me help you!" Piper flung the door open.
Amelia groaned. "Piper, watch it!"
Piper turned the door that she had nearly yanked off its hinges. "Sorry, Door." She kissed the doorknob, earning a giggle from Amelia.
"Why do you worry so much?" Amelia frowned, taking the long towel. She draped it around her body.
Piper's blue eyes went dark. "You don't ever look in the mirror?"
Amelia looked away. "No. I don't ever want to."
"Come on, then." Piper tugged Amelia the few feet it took to be in front of the mirror. She began to dry Amelia's hair with another towel. "Look, Amelia."
Amelia sighed and looked at her reflection. She wasn't prepared at all. Her cheekbones were sunken in, making her green eyes look huge. Her skin was pallid like she had hardly been outside though she walked with Piper or Phillip every day through town. Her cheekbones looked sharp and she hesitantly ran a shaking over on her cheek, letting it linger.
"And you can see your ribs though you eat enough for a horse." Piper spoke, sorrow in her blue eyes as horror dawned on Amelia's face.
"I didn't know I was so ill." Amelia confessed, trying to stop the shakes. "I thought everyone was exaggerating. With-child women sometimes become ill like me, right? More so even?"
"The ones who get sicker than you get help though, Amelia." Piper put the towel aside and began to help Amelia dress in a cotton gown. "You need help, which is why Phillip is out looking."
"What if he doesn't find it?" Amelia asked before she was too afraid to.
"Then eventually, you'll push the baby out. Or not." Piper frowned.
"The baby will be dead?" Amelia paled when Piper nodded somberly.
Amelia sat down on the bed when Piper left to find Phillip. She had heard from one of the servants that he had arrived home while Amelia was bathing.
Amelia had no idea what to think. If Phillip hadn't found the flower, which was a bit unlikely because they had scoured the woods and plains around Corona, she would push the baby out, or she wouldn't. If she didn't go into labor, then she would. . . Die?
And if she did push the baby out, then there was a chance that the baby would be a still-born. If she had to choose between the options, which would she choose? She made up her mind quickly. Of course she would push the baby out. There had to be a chance that the child would live, and she wanted to give the baby that chance.
The baby. They hadn't had time to think of names.
"Leah?" Phillip's voice filled the quiet room. Amelia jumped.
"Phillip!" She stood up quickly and held her arms open. Phillip's green eyes glowed and he caught her in a hug. He spun her around carefully. "I've been missing you."
"You have?" Phillip smiled. His hand went to her belly. "I believe I missed you more."
She smiled and felt it reach her eyes. "Whatever you say, your Highness."
The happy atmosphere did not last long.
"Did you find it?" Amelia looked at Phillip from where she sat on the bed. He was pacing the room rapidly, his hand in his dark brown hair. He was worrying. Why?
Phillip looked at Amelia. "We found it. There's a slight problem."
Before she could even smile about the fact that the flower was found, there was a problem. "What kind of problem?"
"The flower can't be used like we need it to." Phillip groaned in frustration. He had every right to be worried. Their lives were on the line, the queen and her child's, and here was the remedy right in front of them but now they had to find another way to use it.
"What other ways are there?" Amelia asked.
Phillip looked at her. "There are none."
She couldn't look at him.
"So it's obvious the baby will be dead when it arrives?" Her voice was cold. She was breaking on the inside.
"Amelia!" Phillip looked stunned at her harsh words.
Tears trickled down her face. "Don't tell me it will be okay! We've. . . We've tried for ages and we finally get a baby but it won't make it because I'm sick! Humor me, Phillip. The baby won't live, all right? I'll be too weak to push it out." She started crying.
"Amelia, we can always try again-"
"But this baby is actually here! I can feel it growing! And now it will stop because it won't be alive anymore!" Amelia wailed. "He won't even take his first breath!"
Phillip drew her close to him, rocking. He didn't say a word, and he was right to be silent.
You can't say anything when such terrible things happen.
"We should come up with names!" The queen turned to Phillip and Piper. Jared gazed at her with an amused expression on his face. But like most smiles these days, it didn't reach his eyes.
"Why?" Piper demanded. "You'll only break your heart."
Amelia begged. "Please? Just a few."
Jared and Piper turned to Phillip. Phillip shrugged. "All right. Jared, bring some paper please."
Amelia grinned and sat down carefully. She was seven months along now. Phillip sat directly across from her. Jared delivered the items and then he and Piper left them in the library.
"So I was thinking Phillip." Phillip said like he had put thought into the name. The queen burst out laughing.
"Really?" She giggled. "I was thinking Amelia."
"She'd have to be in ballet to have such a name." Amelia smiled.
Phillip wrote something down on the paper. He tore the piece away and set it in front of her so she could read. 'Ballet Queen' was on the paper.
Amelia smiled and grabbed her own. She thought aloud. "I want her to know how to bake."
"Write it down. Write 'Expert in kitchen'." Phillip grinned when she gasped in realization.
"That's perfect." She scribbled it down.
It was quiet while they wrote.
'Rapunzel'. "Rapunzel?" Amelia looked at Phillip's handwriting.
"It's a pretty name." The king smiled. Amelia nodded. It was very pretty.
"Rapunzel Idalia." Words came to Amelia's mouth.
Phillip clapped. "I love it. That made me think of the flower." He wrote down something on another slip of paper. "She should be a gardener."
"She should also be good with making friends." Amelia wrote down, 'Friendly to a fault'.
"To a fault?" Phillip arched his eyebrows in confusion.
"She can't be perfect." Amelia smiled. Phillip nodded and smiled, adding that piece of paper to the rest.
"I want her to have your smile." Phillip's eyes lit up.
"I want her to have your green eyes."
"She needs to sing."
"She should be a happy bride when the time comes." Phillip scowled at that, but then smiled.
"What else?" They sat up in thought. "Should she be a painter, too?"
"Yes!" Amelia smiled. "I was terrible with a brush and you were better than me."
"I was not. You drew a red apple. I drew a blue one." Phillip smirked.
"Okay. How about instead of gardening, she'll paint?"
She burst out laughing when Phillip added 'to a fault' as well.
"Love and be loved." Amelia offered when she had herself under control. At Phillip's nod, she wrote it down.
"One more thing." Phillip smiled. He covered the piece of paper he had written on. "You'll like it."
He pushed it in front of her.
It read, 'Never give up'. Amelia smiled.
Phillip found an empty box in the library cabinet. He put the scraps of paper inside. On 'Love and be loved', they had drawn a heart. He closed the box back, and looked at her.
"Shall we?" He took her hand and led her to the gardens. The gardens was a large meadow right outside of the palace. There were trees on all sides.
The sky overhead was clear, and Amelia saw that rain was far off. The sun lit the sky up a pretty orange color as it set.
When the box was buried, Amelia went back to the Dining Hall. They ate wordlessly, the happy mood from the library long gone.
When she went to bed, she found herself in tears.
"It hurts to think about what could have been." She sobbed to him when he asked what had brought the tears forth.
He rocked her to sleep before going to bed himself.
Amelia woke up to rain pounding on the roof of the palace. Her hand went to her belly protectively, and she sat up, confused.
Her belly was perfectly flat.
She had a second to feel panic as her eyes registered how dark the room was. Something was standing in the doorway.
"Who's there?" She called, fear in her voice.
"It's me, Leah." It was Phillip. "The thunder woke me up."
But there wasn't a cloud in the sky! Amelia thought back to how clear the sky was when they had been in the gardens. She got up. "Phillip, my belly is empty."
"What do you mean?"
She stifled confused tears. "There's no baby."
"That doesn't make any sense. How-" A thud sounded on their right.
Amelia bit back a squeal and moved to the dresser to find some candles. She lit one and stared at the bed.
"Weren't the sheets washed yesterday?" There was fresh mud on them. Phillip looked dumbfounded.
"They were. I remember Piper bringing them back." He mumbled.
Amelia followed Phillip around the palace as they checked in some of the empty bedrooms. "We should call the guards." Phillip said, his voice a little loud in the silent hallways.
"But we don't know if it's a thief or not."
They went into the nursery. Right when she had told Phillip the news, he had ordered a nursery to be built in the palace. It pained her heart to even walk in it now.
Phillip eyed her belly, holding a candle himself. "What happened?" His hand went to it slowly.
She shrugged nonchalantly, though her head was spinning with questions. "I don't know."
They turned to the crib the same moment it fell down. A mud-covered body tumbled out. The tiny person sat up, looking around.
"Oh my." Amelia nearly fainted when its eyes reached them.
"Hi." The person stood up, and Phillip politely turned his face. Amelia looked at the mud on the little body and the long blond curls. The girl had green eyes, the exact shade as Phillip's, and her smile stunned Amelia.
"Hello." Amelia stammered, catching Phillip's gaze.
The little girl smiled again. "I'm Rapunzel."
Amelia and Phillip were frozen.
"That's a common name," Phillip whispered to Amelia. She nodded numbly, though she really felt like shaking her head. How many Rapunzels do you know?
Amelia looked back at the girl. "Let's get you clean up, hm?"
"Yes." Rapunzel's smile faltered. She looked around, confused. "Do you have a towel?"
"I-I can do that." Phillip excused himself, nearly walking into the wall.
The little girl looked even tinier in the long towel.
Phillip came back into the room. "Hi there." He smiled at the girl. "Look who cleans up nice."
Rapunzel blushed and smiled.
"There's something you need to see." Amelia turned to Phillip.
"There's something you need to see." Phillip whispered to her.
How had the child come from the gardens? Amelia found herself demanding when she was walking back to the washroom. She knocked on the door and found Phillip staring at the girl's legs.
"Look." Phillip pointed. Amelia got onto her knees and gazed at the flower petals that decorated Rapunzel's legs up to her knees.
"M-may I?" She looked up at the Rapunzel. She nodded and Amelia gently touched one. It was surprisingly soft. It almost felt like she was touching silk. She pulled at it a little, and Rapunzel yelped. "Sorry!" She yanked her hand back.
"I came from the garden." Rapunzel said while Amelia flitted around the room. Amelia found one of her smaller nightgowns –she had never thrown her tiny gowns once she had started to become too big for them- and helped the girl put them on.
"Hungry?" Amelia was unsure what to say. The little girl nodded a little and smiled once more when the two made eye-contact. Amelia led the child to the Dining Hall.
"We eat plenty of vegetables from our gardens and we try to cut back on the pork. Do you like pork?" Amelia was babbling.
Rapunzel took a bite from the cookie. "Pork? Is it a type of bird?"
"No." Phillip said. "How're the cookies?"
"Great." Rapunzel smiled.
After an awkward silence, Amelia spoke up.
"This is Phillip. I'm Amelia."
"You're free to call us Phillip and Amelia." Philip helped.
Confusion colored Rapunzel's face. "Why would I?"
Amelia backtracked. "Not a problem. You can call us the queen and the king. Or-"
Rapunzel's green eyes twinkled. "Mother, really?" She turned to Phillip and smiled. "Father, really?" She fixed them with an adorable scowl.
Amelia and Phillip went silent. Amelia grabbed at Phillip's arm. "I need to talk to you." She managed to smile at Rapunzel. "We'll be right back."
Phillip closed the door behind them.
"We only wrote down one name." Amelia stammered. "And it was. . ."
"Rapunzel." They said together.
Amelia's hand went to her flat belly. She felt well-rested and more healthy than she had a few months ago. Maybe Rapunzel was the baby that they were supposed to have? "Is she for us?"
"I have that feeling." Phillip nodded seriously. Both of their heads turned back to the door.
Amelia peeked in and saw that Rapunzel had fallen asleep. She cooed when she saw Phillip's face soften. The past few months had aged him considerably. He looked like he was in his teens again.
She watched him gently scoop Rapunzel up in his arms. He followed her to their room. She stroked Rapunzel's blond curls when she was set on the bed. Phillip got on Rapunzel's right and Amelia was on Rapunzel's left.
She kissed both of their cheeks, feeling whole and well.