She let out a moan, her eyes doing a soft flutter that had flashes of light breaking up the darkness of her sleep. The lighting was dim enough not to hurt her eyes, Allura slowly rousing herself from her drug induced slumber. She tried to shift in the bed, hoping movement would chase away the remains of grogginess, and suffered a sharp pain for her efforts. The pain was harsh enough that she gasped, eyes snapping open fully to stare unfocused at a painted ceiling.
“Wh…where am I?” Allura whispered, not recognizing the room. The last thing she had been aware of was being inside the birthing room, the doctor placing a black plastic mask over the lower half of her face. It had pumped anesthesia into her mouth and nose, enough to knock her out in a matter of seconds, Allura gladly giving in to the exhausted state of her body.
Haggar had been standing behind her, the woman crooning to her in Arusian, assuring her that everything would be all right. Allura had been too tired to even worry, eyes falling close as the doctors prepared her for surgery.
But now she was awake, and looking around the room, seeing it was painted in the pale green and white colors of the hospital’s bedrooms. A sheet was drawn over the window, though Allura could make out a tall shadow pacing back and forth before it.
The room itself was quiet, the closed door doing much to block out the sounds of the hospital. Allura realized she missed the sounds of the monitors, those continuos beats of her babies’ hearts. “My babies!” She gasped, and almost sat up, pain causing her to remain still. Her stomach hurt, even with the pain medications they had surely given her, but Allura tried to ignore that now, wanting to see the children.
She turned her head to the side, spying the remote that controlled the room’s view screen, along with the call button for the nurses’ station. Moving determinedly, she stretched out her hand towards the bed’s night stand, ignoring the pain that flickered with the movements of her body. She sighed in relief when she had the remote in her hand, Allura running her fingers along it’s side.
She pressed the button, and held her breath, waiting for a reaction. None came, or at least not quick enough for Allura’s liking, the girl pushing the button two more times in quick succession. The door suddenly flew open, and an anxious Lotor stood on the threshold, the King looking wild eyed in her direction.
“Thank goodness you’re awake!” Lotor exclaimed, already hurrying towards her bed.
“How long have I been out?” Allura asked, letting the remote drop next to her on the mattress.
“It’s been a few hours.”
“Hours?!” Allura gasped in surprise. “How could I sleep for that long?!”
“You needed your rest. A birth and a c-section was a lot to go through.” Lotor soothed her, coming to perch carefully on the edge of the mattress. He smiled down at her, expression tender. “You did wonderfully Allura.”
“Did I?” Allura asked, wondering about that. She didn’t feel like she had done a particularly good job, just recalling how much pain she had been in. A pain she almost hadn’t been able to endure, Allura going weak with exhaustion once her daughter, once Adora was expelled from her body.
“You did.” Lotor assured. “You were brave and worked so hard. And both children are doing marvelously.”
“They are?” Allura looked at him for reassurance, Lotor nodding. “Have you seen them?”
“Yes, I have.” She felt a little disappointed to hear that, Allura having wished she had had the time to spend with her children instead of sleeping off the anesthesia. “They’re beautiful. Both our daughters…”
“Both?” A lift of her eyebrow, Allura staring at him amazed. “Two girls?”
“Yes.” Lotor smiled. “Two wonderful, healthy daughters! Adora and Alessandra.”
She needed a moment to take it all in, staring at Lotor, trying to see if his happiness was real or faked. “You’re not disappointed?”
“Disappointed?” He echoed, frowning.
“That you don’t have a son?” Allura clarified, and saw Lotor lower his eyes.
“I did want a son, but…that doesn’t mean we can’t try again for a boy in the future.” He touched her hand, but at his attempt to cover it with his, she pulled back making Lotor frown harder.
“I’m not sure I want to ever go through something like childbirth again.” Allura said quickly, tempering her refusal with the idea that it was the pains of labor that had her hesitating at the thought of making a son with him.
“Ah, but the pain of labor fades over time…” A nurse stood in the doorway, clipboard in hand.
“It does?” Allrua asked her, and the nurse nodded.
“Indeed it does. If women could remember clearly all the pain and discomfort of pregnancy, few if any children would have any siblings!” She chuckled at that, hurrying towards the bed. “Now, let’s get you comfortable.”
“Can I see my babies?” Allura asked, and both Lotor and the nurse nodded.
“Of course.” Lotor said, standing. “I’ll go get them.”
“Thank you.” Allura told him, watching as he walked out of the room. She would have stayed staring at the doorway in gleeful anticipation, but the nurse’s actions distracted her.
“Let’s get you started on a new bag of pain medication.” The nurse was already replacing the iv bag, the stream of medicines entering the corded line. “Are you in much pain dear?”
“A little…” Allura admitted, sighing. “It almost feels like I am still having contractions…it’s faint though, like when they first started.”
“That’s just your uterus contracting. It’s normal to feel some discomfort while it starts to shrink down.”
“Oh.” Allura said, and now the nurse began taking her pulse, fingers on her wrist as she stared at her watch.
“Heart beat is good.” The nurse said approvingly. “A little slow, but I suspect that’s from the anesthesia.”
“How long will it take to wear off?” Allura asked, finding she was tired of being so groggy.
“It shouldn’t take much longer. But you’ll still feel the grogginess for the next few days. But after what you just went through, it’s only natural!” The nurse told her. The woman began fluffing up the pillows behind Allura, helping the girl to get into a more comfortable position. Allura wondered what was taking Lotor so long, feeling increasingly anxious to meet her babies.
“Are they really beautiful?” Allura asked, the nurse cocking her head to the side. “My daughters I mean?”
“Oh yes.” Assured the nurse, smiling. “The little princesses are truly a product of the King and Allura’s beauty.”
“You can see that for yourself Allura!” Lotor called out from the doorway. Allura immediately looked in his direction, seeing Lotor carrying a small bundle wrapped in a purple cloth. She realized it was one of her daughters, the baby cradled carefully in both of Lotor’s arms. Behind him came another nurse, the woman carrying an equally small bundle.
She watched him walk towards her, Allura wanting him to hurry. But he took his time, not wanting to jostle the baby with fast movements. Allura held back her arms, not sure if she should reach out towards her daughters. It made no difference, Lotor was already pushing the bundle into her arms, eyes showing his excitement. “Well, Allura?” Lotor asked, taking the other baby from the nurse. “What do you think of Alessandra?”
“Alessandra….” Allura whispered, carefully tugging down the blanket so she could peer at the child’s face. The lightest shade of blue she had yet to see on a Drule covered her daughter’s skin, a powdery pale hue she had no name for. The child had delicate looking ears, with tips that were pointed. A matching purple hat was on her head, but Allura could see the faintest wisp of hair peeking out from under the knitting.
It was a very light shade of yellow, not quite as brilliant as Allura’s golden mane, but pretty all the same. Allura took a trembling finger to Alessandra’s cheek, stroking her gently. The touch woke the baby up, her mouth spreading open in a wide yawn. Her eyes opened, and Allura was taken aback to see a vibrant blue color that held Lotor’s cat like slit in the center.
“Blue eyes?” She questioned, wondering if it was a permanent color. Somewhere she had heard that all infants were born with blue eyes, and she wanted to know if her daughter would retain that color.
“Blue like their mothers.” Lotor said, bringing Adora close to Allura so she could look into that one’s face. Still cradling Alessandra to her, Allura reached out to stroke the chin of Adora, hearing the child let out a whimpery whine of sound. The child scrunched up her face, and Allura giggled to see it, Lotor beaming down at his family. Adora continued to make noises, seeming on the verge of crying.
“Looks like Adora will be the more vocal of the two.” Lotor said, and shifted the baby against him so that he could rock her gently. “At least while they are infants.”
“I remember…” Allura said, eyes flitting back and forth between her two daughters. “She had a strong scream when she was born.”
“Yes.” Lotor said, Adora starting to fuss more and more in his arms.
Alessandra stirred, seeming to react to the sound of her sister’s voice with a questioning noise. “Shhh…” Allura said, stroking the child’s face once more. She looked closely at her daughter, trying to memorize everything about her. “How much do they weigh?”
“Ah…nearly eight pounds, give or take a few ounces.” Lotor told her, voice a soft lilt as he tried to calm down Adora.
“Is that healthy?” Allura asked, worried. Her babies looked so small to her!
“It’s a perfectly fine weight for a child, especially ones who were born prematurely.” Assured one of the nurses.
“They’ll be growing faster than you like soon enough.” Added the other. “Childhood seems to pass by all too quickly for most parents.”
Adora scrunched up her eyes, her jaw dropping as she let out a fierce wail. Allura stared, worried, Lotor working to calm the girl down. “What’s wrong?”
“I suspect that the little princess is hungry.” Said one of the nurses. “Would you like to nurse her?”
“Yes!” Lotor looked at her, eyes hopeful. “Will you nurse Allura?”
She had a second of hesitation, but at the sound of Adora’s cry, Allura could not deny her daughter this. “All right.”
“Good!” Lotor looked relieved, Adora screaming harder.
“Let me get you into a position that will be less painful for you.” Said the first nurse, reaching for Alessandra. “Right now you can’t really rest your babies on your abdomen…so, it’s best if you lie on your side for this nursing.” She took Alessandra from Allura, the girl almost reluctant to hand over her daughter. She was calmed by the thought that soon Adora would be in Alessandra’s place, watching as the nurse handed the baby over to the second woman.
“‘Here…” The nurse’s hands were on Allura, easing her carefully onto her side, the iv line having enough cord to allow this movement. The woman then unbuttoned the top of Allura’s hospital gown, baring a breast to the room. She tried not to be embarrassed, but she felt the weight of Lotor’s gaze on her chest, the King blatant in his staring. He had to be reminded to hand over the wailing Adora, the little princess being set down on the bed next to Allura’s chest.
“Support your baby’s head…” advised the nurse, nodding in approval as Allura did as she was told. “That’s it…and gently ease her towards your nipple.”
It took a few tries, the baby too busy crying to notice the proffered nipple. Allura feared Adora would not eat, but finally the girl let out a discontent grumble, tiny hands touching her breast. Her mouth latched onto the nipple, and Adora immediately began sucking, doing greedy, hungry pulls on Allura’s nipple. It was different from when Lotor had sucked on her breast, Allura not feeling the arousing sensations with her daughter’s feeding.
But she smiled all the same, feeling connected with Adora in a way that was different from having carried the twins for seven and a half months. She stared down at Adora, listening to the sucking sounds she made, and realized she was tearing up.
“What’s wrong?” An alarmed Lotor asked, having taking Alessandra from the nurse. “Does it hurt?”
“No…I’m just…emotional…” Allura said, trying to keep the tears from falling over. “She’s so perfect….they both are….like little miracles…”
“They are miracles.” Lotor told her, looking relieved now. “Our miracles. Our precious children.”
“Yes, precious.” Allura agreed, risking running a finger down Adora’s back while the girl was busy feeding. “Is Alessandra not hungry too?” A concerned Allura asked.
“She’ll have to wait her turn if she is.” The nurse said. “That position isn’t good for feeding two at once.”
“You’ll have to be careful with how you nurse for the next few days.” Added the second nurse. “We don’t want to put any pressure on your abdomen, or upset the stitches. You’ll also have to use your hands or a pillow whenever you cough, laugh or sneeze. It’s to support the incision, so it doesn’t tear open accidentally.”
“Tear open?” Allura wondered if she paled at that thought, feeling frightened of doing something that would cause further injury to her body.
“It’s a common worry.” The nurse said. “But you should be fine with the two of us watching over you!”
“They tell me you have to remain in the hospital for the next four days.” Lotor sighed. “Just to be one the safe side.”
“And you’ll have to do plenty of bed rest even once you’ve been released!” added a nurse. “it takes longer to recover from a c-section.”
“I understand.” Allura said, noticing Lotor’s grumpy look. “What?”
“I just don’t like having to spend all this time in the hospital.” Came the king’s answer.
“Your highness, you are free to come and go whenever you like.” The nurse who had helped Allura onto her side, said. “You don’t have to spend every second here.”
“As long as Allura and our children are stuck here, then so am I!” Lotor announced, Allura’s widening in surprise.
“Are you sure that’s wise?” She asked, a tad anxiously. “I mean don’t you have business to attend too? Won’t Doom fall into chaos if the King is gone for that long?”
“I can conduct business inside the hospital.” Lotor answered, the nurses not daring to raise objections. “Anything that is important, my aides can bring to me.”
“Please Allura…” Lotor said, his eyes looking imploringly into hers. “Indulge me on this matter.”
“Okay.” She agreed, feeling Adora shift, her mouth starting to lessen the pressure on her breast.
“We’ll leave you four to bond.” The nurses said, performing curtsies to Lotor before leaving the room. The King waited until the door closed, than sat down in the chair next to the bed, just watching as Allura breast fed Adora.
“We still haven’t thought of a second name for Adora.” He reminded her, almost absentminded as he rocked Alessandra.
“A second name…” Allura murmured thoughtfully, trying to recall the names they had discussed. “Are there any you want in particular?”
“Oh no…you let me pick far too many names already!” Lotor chuckled at that. “It’s time you get a turn at the naming game.”
“All right…then…Liezal….Her name will be Adora Liezal.” Allura said, and at that moment Adora pulled away from the nipple to blink blue eyes at Allura. “Do you like that name, sweetie?” Another blink of her eyes, and then the baby made a strange sound, Allura unable to tell if it was agreement or not.
“Here, we need to burp her.” Lotor placed Alessandra on the bed, taking Adora in her place. He placed the child against his shoulder, and began rubbing her back, encouraging her to let out a loud burp. Allura was already guiding Alessandra to her breast, the child fussing for a few seconds before latching on with a much gentler care than her sister had shown.
“What happens now?” Allura asked, and Lotor glanced at her.
“Now?” He sighed at her nod. “Now we need to work on your recovery. There are preparations to make, celebrations to be had.” He smiled then, though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “It’s a time of excitement on Doom. Twin princesses have been born! There will be parades and festivities marking the occasion. The day of their birth will become an official holiday here on Doom.”
He was avoiding the real issue, but Allura found she didn’t mind. She still wasn’t ready to make her decision, anymore than Lotor was ready to hear it. She didn’t know how she could leave her babies behind, Allura knowing that every moment and act of caring for them would bind her closer to her daughters. But, there was one issue that still loomed large in her mind, an issue she was all too aware of, feeling Lotor’s interested gaze as he stared at her bared breast.