It was one of those rare days where Lotor had cleared his schedule of all work, the Drule needing a break desperately. His two aides acted ever so put upon, letting out long suffering sighs but acquiescing to his commands. He knew they’d get their revenge in the form of mountains of paperwork, the two Drules working hard to make sure ever little trifling whim of the nobles crossed Lotor’s desk.
He wasn’t looking forward to playing make up, wondering how his father had managed to run the kingdom. Or perhaps it was a sign of his father’s neglect that so many problems had been waiting for him when Lotor took the throne. At least the cities were moving along at a remarkable speed, the gold of the planet’s treasury doing wonders in motivating the people to rebuild.
Doom was slowly returning to it’s once glorious state, and not just with it’s cities. It’s armies were being remade, numbers added to it, both of people and ships. They called into service Drules from far off planets, even from the conquered Amazonia they forced it’s men and women into the military. It wouldn’t be long before Doom was back to it’s conquering ways, the Empire setting their sights on new planets just a few star systems away.
And if the forces mustered by Doom wasn’t enough, they now had Merla’s beam weapon to call upon, and the lions of Arus to use to press forth the advantages of one’s planet being acquired by the great Empire. Repairs had also started on the cities of Arus, Lotor intent on keeping his promise to Allura. The planet would prosper, and be more than just a holding pen for the lion’s power sources. Lotor would bring Arus out of it’s backwater roots single-handedly if need be.
But for today he was free of those responsibilities, Lotor unlocking the door on the opposite side of Allura’s apartment. It was the third chamber, the empty guest rooms that he had never made use of. Not until this last month, when servants busied themselves with starting the preparations he had ordered. Lotor stepped inside, and felt along the wall, finding the switch for the overhead lights.
The room flooded with light, and Lotor paused, staring with a discerning eyes at his surroundings. The room’s three walls were painted a pale lavender, a hue that would hopefully be soothing to young eyes. The fourth wall, which was at the rear of the room, bore hint of the lavender color. But it was overwhelmed by the darker shades of purple and blue, a starry night sky being painted to overlook a castle that was surrounded by a moat and a forest.
It looked very much like the castle on Arus, Lotor hoping Allura would appreciate the touch. Aside from the freshly painted walls, their paint fumes having long since faded, there was a variety of furniture spread about the spacious room. All were in the mid stages of being built, Lotor noting the cribs, so different from the one Cossack had gifted Allura.
They were painted a royal purple, lacquered wood smoothed down so that not even the tiniest of splinters could be found. Only one had been started, the base put together, though it lacked the bars and headboard. Lotor walked over to it now, reaching for one of the bars lying on the floor, intent on finishing what a servant had started.
In the Southwest corner of the room, sat an unfinished changing table, a matching basket that would hold diapers standing next to it. Bookcases lined the East wall, their shelves mainly empty save for one or two picture books. There was a row of stuffed animals on the top most shelf of the book case, colorful creatures, some even looking like the aliens the witches used to make Doom’s robeasts.
There was even a closet, empty for the moment, the wardrobe Lotor had ordered not yet having had time to be made. It was after all, less then two months until the twins would be born. Time enough for everything to be readied for the twins arrival.
Wrapped boxes lay piled up in one corner, with big sparkly bows, and signed name cards attached to the cardboard. Congratulatory gifts from various people, both friends and people seeking to garner Lotor’s favor. Every gift had been run through an intense scanning process, Lotor taking no chances with the safety of his family. Only the gifts that checked out were permitted in this room, the rest being shuffled off to a waste disposal unit. Palace guards were busy interrogating those whose gifts had not cleared through the check points, trying to determine their guilt at sending such dangerous items.
He continued to screw in the bars of the crib, a calmness settling in him as he worked with his hands. The purple color had been chosen both for it’s royal properties, and it’s neutrality, Lotor and Allura still not knowing if it was boys she carried or girls. He’d like it if she had one of both, Lotor thinking how perfect it would be to have a strapping young son like him, and a daughter as beautiful and talented as Allura.
A knock sounding on the door, Lotor pausing to glance it’s way. He couldn’t help himself, his features lit up, Lotor spying the very pregnant Allura waddling into the room. It was no exaggeration to stay her stomach was huge, proof enough of the twins she carried inside. He wondered if she’d get any bigger, Allura already having difficulty getting up whenever she sat or laid down.
Large stomach aside, or perhaps because of it, she looked radiant, the glow of impending motherhood about her. Lotor immediately set down the crib bars, and hurried towards her, hand taking hold of her arm to usher her towards one of the rocking chairs that lay completed in the room. It held white cushions with purple fringe on them, Allura sinking gratefully down into the chair.
“The nursery looks wonderful.” She said, clutching a small, leather-bound book in her hands. There was pieces of white paper sticking out of the sides, Lotor wondering if she had been scribbling notes down.
“It’s still not finished.” Lotor said in reply, gesturing at all the furniture that had to be put together. “There’s still so much to do…”
“It’ll be ready.” Allura said, sounding confidant. “I just know it will.”
“Ah but…will WE be ready?” Lotor asked her, not quite chuckling. “I find the closer we get to your due date, the more nervous I am about becoming a father. I’m not sure where to begin as a parent…”
“I too feel a bit lost…” Allura admitted. “But we have Haggar to help us…”
“What does she know about raising children, having never had a family of her own?!” Lotor demanded, making a scoffing sound.
“She’s helped birth a fair share of babies in her younger days.” Allura reminded him. “And she was around to see a young prince grow up on Doom.”
“Hmph.” Lotor was not convinced, thinking watching from afar was not the same thing as hands on experience.
“I think she’ll be a lot more helpful than those parenthood pamphlets you’ve been studying.” Allura added, smiling at him. He was almost flustered at her words, Lotor noting Allura smiled more often, and with genuine feeling to the expression.
“I didn’t know you knew about those.” Lotor admitted, wondering how she had discovered his secret. He suddenly grew suspicious, eyeing her up and down. “Has Haggar been using magic to spy on me again?”
“You know Haggar can barely work her crystal ball.” Allura reminded him. “She wouldn’t waste her limited magic on ferreting out your secrets.” He still frowned, hardly appeased by Allura’s words. “And look here…” She tapped a finger on the cover of the book, drawing his attention to it. “It’s a book of baby names from Arus. And Haggar has written down a wealth of Drule names as well for us to go over…”
“Baby names…” Lotor repeated, realizing they had yet to even start to try and pick a name. It was one of the things they left undecided, the two hedging around each other about how they were going to raise the twins. Lotor thought the most important decision to be made was if Allura would remain to be mother to them, but if choosing names for the babies would make her grow even closer to the twins, he was all for it.
“Have you given any thought to the naming of our babies?” Allura asked, Lotor sitting down on the half built base of the second rocking chair. “Do you have a preference for Drule names?”
“It might be nice to name them after my people’s names.” Lotor admitted. “Of course…I might find an Arus name to be particular nice too.” He hesitated, not quite fidgeting in place.
“What?” Allura asked, having noticed his nervous movement.
“I…I rather like my mother’s name. Adaline….perhaps if we have a girl…we could incorporate Adaline into her name.”
“Sweet Adaline…” mused Allura, sounding thoughtful .”I’ve no objection to that.” She opened the book, shuffling through pages both bound and unbound, until she found her notes. “I’ve been thinking…these are just some of the suggestions I have, but what if we gave them each names that matched ours?”
“What do you mean?” Lotor asked, glancing at the papers. The names were written in a mix of Arusian and Drule, Lotor recognizing Haggar’s handwriting for some of the words.
“Well…the letter A for Allura…and the letter L for Lotor.” She explained. “Like…perhaps for a girl, we could name her Alina or Arissa. Or Abrielle..that one sounds nice.”
“Or Levant or Lothon for a boy.” Lotor said, catching on.
“Yes!” She smiled, eyes on the page. “I have some boys name down too….Aaric, Anthony, Austin, Landon, Leon? Do you like any of them?” Allura looked hopeful at him, Lotor frowning as he thought.
“Hmmm….I’m not sure…maybe Aaric…”
“I’ll mark that one down as a maybe.” Allura said, scribbling out a star next to a name. “How about girl names? I particularly like Adaira, Ashlyn, Alessandra, Laila, Lia, Lyra, Liezal…”
“Alessandra sounds nice…but I have a suggestion of my own.” He said, seeing her look interested.
“Adora.” Lotor paused, watching as Allura repeated the name. “It’s a girl’s name. It means adored one.”
“Adora…” Allura repeated once more, smiling. “I like it. I think it would suit a daughter of ours. But what about if we have two? Do you have a name that is equally special?”
He had to think, frowning as he tried to pick a name that would fit the criteria they has established. “This is harder than I thought.” Lotor admitted at last. “Perhaps we should go with Alessandra…and she would bear Adaline as her second name. It would honor her greatly to wear my mother’s name.”
“All right..” Allura said, writing this down. “We’d still have to think of a second name for Adora..” A small frown crossed her face, but Lotor wrote it off as her being troubled by this naming business.
“We still need to decide on boys names too…just in case…” Lotor smirked. “You could be carrying two robust males in there!”
“From the amount of kicking they are doing, I’d be inclined to agree.” Responded Allura, placing a hand on the front of her belly. She was frowning again, and she shifted, trying to get comfortable.
“Are they kicking a lot these days?” Lotor asked, and she nodded, a put upon expression on her face.
“They’re playing havoc on my insides!” She let out a weary sigh, making Lotor feel guilty for his role in her pregnancy. To take her mind off her discomfort, he began listing more Drule names, hoping for her to pick one or two.
“Lobuntos.” Lotor said. “Or Lorrum. I wouldn’t mind a son named Lorrum.”
“Lobuntos..” Allura repeated. “Er…can you write it down for me…? Lorrum too?” She handed him the book and pen, Lotor reaching out for them. But before he could take hold, Allura was dropping them, a startled oh escaping her. She immediately put her hand on her stomach and look wide eyed at Lotor.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, hiding a smile. “Did one of the babies kick too hard?” She started to nod, and then Allura seemed to jump in place, not quite wincing. That made Lotor grow concerned, the King rising out of his seat to hover over Allura.
“Lotor..” She gasped out his name, seeming to hunch forward, both hands touching her belly. “I don’t mean to alarm you but…I think…oooooh no I’m sure…I think I’m having contractions…”
Lotor stared at her for a few seconds, not quite believing what he had just heard. “You’re what?”
“Contractions…” Allura repeated, wincing slightly. “I think I’ve been having them for a while…”
“I thought you said those were kicks!” Lotor cried out in protest.
“I was wrong.” She seemed to be breathing a little easier now, though she still remained hunched over.
“You can’t be having contractions!” Lotor protested, an anxious hand going towards the back of his head. He didn’t even realize he had done it, his fingers fisting up a thick handful of hair in the process. “It’s way too soon for this! You’re not due for another month and a half!”
“Babies can come early…” Allura looked up at him, somehow maintaining her calm in the face of Lotor’s starting panic. “It means they’ll be a little small but…”
“But nothing!” Lotor interrupted her. “Allura, you can’t go into labor now! We’re not ready! The nursery’s not finished, the clothes haven’t arrived, we haven’t found a nanny yet….”
“I don’t think that matters to the twins…” She told him, and it looked to Lotor like Allura was trying not to grin. That just made him frown, Lotor shaking his head rapidly, as though the action would deny what was happening.
“It’s too soon!” He insisted, voice lacking it’s usually commanding authority. Worries were plaguing him, about how he wasn’t ready to be a father yet. How this early meant the twins would most likely be underweight and small in size. But even more troublesome was the thought that their early arrival was throwing everything off schedule, including his attempts to woo Allura into staying with him!
“We still have two months.” He said, Lotor sounding almost helpless in the moment. “Two months to get ready…two months for me to….” He trailed off, and wisely Allura did not try to fill in his sentence though Lotor knew she could guess at what he had left unsaid.
“Lotor…” Allura held out her hands to him, Lotor almost numb as he moved to grasp hold of them. “It may just be something else….it could be a false labor…these things happen…”
“A false labor, yes!” Lotor latched on to that hope, helping Allura to ease on out of the rocking chair.
“Whatever the case, we need to get me to the hospital wing so a doctor can check me out.” It was more command than suggestion, Allura taking charge of the situation.
“Yes…” Lotor said, allowing Allura to lean onto him as they made slow progress across the nursery’s floor. “This will be good practice for when the real labor happens.” He let out a nervous laugh, the sound awkward in it’s loudness.
“I can’t imagine the real thing being any worse than the cramping I just experienced…” Allura murmured as they drew closer to the nursery door. Lotor pushed it open, spying the line of soldiers waiting in the hall. They immediately snapped to attention at the sight of their king, Lotor nodding to them.
“You there, go on ahead to the hospital wing. Inform that that the King and his…” He hesitated, not sure what title to give her. “Tell them that Allura and I will be down there shortly.”
“Yes, sire!” Said the chosen Drule, the man hurrying off so fast his braided hair bounced against his back. The rest of the king’s guard was surrounding Lotor and Allura, ready to walk at the girl’s slow pace to the hospital. They got only a few feet down the corridor when Allura let out a dismayed sound, Lotor feeling on the verge of a nervous break down when she said the following words.
“My water just broke!”
“Your what?!” Lotor stared at her, and indeed there was a very damp section on her skirt, and a puddle of water at her feet. Allura looked embarrassed, almost apologetic for this proof that she really was in labor. She held onto his arm, fingers practicing a death grip on him, Allura seeming to grow paler by the minute.
“Don’t worry Allura. I’ll get you to the doctor!” Lotor assured her, and tried to step quicker down the corridor. Allura moved to follow, though she walked at a considerably slower pace. Lotor was tempted to try and pick her up, and run all the way to the hospital wing, the king gasping as something else occurred to him. “We don’t even have a bag packed for overnight!”
“We can send a servant for one later.” Allura’s quick reassurance eased Lotor’s mind, the Drule nodding in agreement. They continued the long walk to the hospital, Lotor fearing that at any moment Allura would give birth out in the hall. He wondered how expectant fathers handled the stress, Lotor’s chest seeming to tighten with every gasp and wince from Allura. She assured him she wasn’t having a contraction at the moment, but he could barely stand to see her like this. Lotor could only pray that the actual delivery would be a relatively quick affair, Lotor not sure if he or Allura could handle a lengthy labor.