The hospital was loud with noise, people hurrying in and out of rooms, voices shouting, demanding help. Soldiers came in on gurneys, weak and moaning helplessly, bleeding heavily as they were rushed into surgery. Some were already dead, having been unable to survive the journey from battle field to hospital. And yet more injured piled in, to the point they were tripled in rooms, cots being set up for there was no spare beds to be had.
And yet, with status came privilege, Lotor managing to snag a private room for Allura. He’d tolerate no other patient being near his love, suspicious of any and everyone that came to the room. Even now, as the nurse worked to remove the iv line from Allura’s arm, Lotor kept a watchful eye on the woman’s actions. His stare made the nurse nervous, the woman’s hands turning shaky as she worked.
“You’re scowling Lotor.” Allura pointed out, and he blinked, surprised.
“Am I?” He asked, and Allura nodded.
“Yes, you are.” He didn’t change his expression, leaving Allura to sigh sadly at him. “You’re still doing it!”
“I’m just being watchful.” He replied, eyes practically boring holes into the nurse’s hands. She finished with the iv, and pressed a cotton ball against Allura’s skin, soaking up the tiny dot of blood that welled up upon the IV’s removal. “Anything could happen, you know that.”
“I doubt it’s going to happen to me here in the hospital.” Allura retorted, holding onto the cotton ball with her finger. The nurse pulled out an adhesive from her pocket, peeling it’s papers back. She chased away Allura’s finger, pressing the Band-Aid down in place of the cotton.
“The doctor will be with you shortly.” The nurse said, not able to muster a smile in the face of Lotor’s open hostility.
“Thank you.” Allura said brightly, the nurse nodding as she turned to leave. She couldn’t move fast enough for Lotor’s liking, the prince staring at her retreating back right up until the door swung close.
“You’re looking better.” Lotor told Allura, studying her face. Indeed the color had come back to her cheeks, Lotor relieved to see Allura’s skin a healthy flush, the girl practically glowing with vitality. Several hours rest, and the transfusion of blood she had received had played their part well in restoring Allura to her health.
“I feel better too.” Allura admitted, smiling at him. Her injured wrist was tightly bandage, gauze replacing the strips of silk Lotor had hastily tied around the claw marks. “I hope I get to leave the hospital soon.”
“You will.” Lotor’s assurance made her laugh, Lotor pleased to hear it.
“How can you be so sure?” She asked. “You’re no doctor.”
“Call it a hunch.” Lotor answered, crossing his arms over his chest. “If you were badly off, the doctors would be in and out of this room, working non stop to keep you healthy.”
“So it’s a good sign that the doctor is keeping us waiting.” Allura said, and Lotor nodded. It had been hours since they arrived at the hospital, enough time for the lights to be restored to the castle, though the heat persisted. The computers for the most part were still down, although the hospital itself ran their programs on a separate system, the staff able to maintain all their patient’s conditions.
Communication with the world outside the castle was still not possible, the view screens and transmitters still offline, leaving the people inside the castle to wonder at the battle going on outside the castle walls. With all the witches down with magical exhaustion, there was no one to consult their crystal balls and give a detailed report on the fighting. Nor were the injured soldiers who were carried into the hospital, in any condition to speak about what they had last seen on the battlefield.
They were sitting in the dark, waiting and hoping for the best. At least the building no longer shook, Amazonia’s ships surely too busy fighting the lions to concentrate their weapons on the castle walls. The unknown of the outside world was a dangerous thing, the prince knowing it would be foolhardy to attempt to leave the castle at the moment. It was that thought alone that kept him from following his first instinct to flee the castle with Allura, Lotor wanting to get them as far away from his father’s agents as possible.
He was absolutely fuming with rage at the thought of Zarkon ordering Allura’s death, feeling horror at how close he had come to losing her. If he let the anger take control of him, Lotor knew he would make foolish mistakes, playing right into his father’s hands. His father WANTED him to be too angry to think, wanted him wild and out of control. An unthinking Lotor would be the end of them all, a disaster that led to the deaths of not only Allura, but all his allies.
He knew he had to play the game carefully, think about his next moves. Although right now his chief concern was Allura and their unborn child’s well being. The doctor had taken blood and urine from Allura, tests that they were waiting on the results for. Lotor had to fight to keep from growling in impatience, wondering what was taking the doctor so long.
He didn’t speak his impatience out loud, not wanting to worry Allura. So far she had no idea about the packed state of the hospital, Lotor knowing the girl would most likely be upset at his selfishness of keeping others out of the room. The curtains were drawn over the window, blocking out the scenes in the hall, and though Allura looked curious about the shouting that trickled into the room, she did not press him with questions.
At least not about the strangers, although Allura had plenty to say about her friends and Cossack. She asked him question after question until Lotor had snagged a passing nurse, dragging her by the arm into the room. He had spoken quietly, but harshly with the woman, ordering her to learn the fates of Haggar and his commander. That had quieted Allura down, the two of them waiting for the nurse to return with her news.
Cossack had gotten off easy in the attack by Cortana. If the hospital wasn’t so overcrowded, he would have been made to spend a few days on the floor. Instead he was released, with the strictest of orders to remain on bed rest for the next three days. The commander hadn’t been pleased with that prescription, protesting even as the nurses led him away, Cossack insisting he had plenty of work still to do.
The magic Cortana had used, had stunned him to the point of collapse, the electricity singing the hair on his arms but otherwise leaving him uninjured. He had suffered more bruises from when he had crashed face first into the floor, the witch had apparently not been trying to hurt him.
The slaves from Arus had been checked over as well, especially the twin who had been threatened with Cortana’s magic. No ill side effect was perceived, the girl shaken by the incident, but other wise fine. All four women had been returned to the harem, and were waiting on their next available opportunity to see Allura.
As for Haggar, she was the worst of them all, suffering magical exhaustion. Maintaining the castle shielding right up until the end had been the start of her decline, finishing off Cortana being the final nail in her coffin. She was currently drained of all her magic, and would take weeks if not months to recover it. The doctors were murmuring behind Haggar’s back, feeling a witch of her age might never get her powers back.
For her sake, Lotor hoped she did, the prince knowing he owed much to Haggar and her magical assistance. From the simple charm around his neck, that had helped him to withstand a direct onslaught of Cortana’s magic, to the powerful blast Haggar had used to kill Zarkon’s witch. Even if Haggar never recovered her magic, her place in Lotor’s court would be assured.
“Maybe I’ll make her an advisor or something…” He muttered thoughtfully under his breath. Allura cocked her head at him, confusion in her eyes. “Haggar I mean.” Lotor clarified, and Allura nodded. “She deserves a reward of some kind.”
“Yes, she does.” Agreed Allura, smiling. “She’s fought hard for you.”
“She’s fought hard for the both of us!” Lotor added, reaching to take Allura’s good hand. “Oh Allura….I shudder to think what would have happened if you hadn’t known how to erect a magical barrier.”
“See?” Allura’s tone was teasing, the girl squeezing his hand. “Haggar’s lessons in magic were a good thing.”
“Yes. Useful too. A lifesaver.” He acknowledged with a relieved smile on his face. “I was wrong to be so against her teaching you.”
“I would like to continue my lessons.” Allura said, watching him carefully for his reaction. Lotor kept his expression calm, merely lifting an eyebrow at her. “I think it would be useful, beyond birthing babies. Both Haggar and…and Cortana felt I have much potential.” She was starting to fidget, fingers playing with his hand as Allura glanced away from Lotor’s stare.
“We will see Allura.” Lotor said at last. “Haggar will need time to recover, and may not be up to teaching you anytime soon.”
“I can wait!” Allura quickly insisted. “In the meantime I will keep practicing my barrier…”
“But not until you and the baby get a clean bill of health from the doctor.” Lotor advised her sternly. She nodded, agreeing with him. They fell quiet, just holding hands, the minutes ticking by. Lotor continued to grow more and more impatient, wondering how long the doctor was going to keep them waiting.
Another hour went by, enough time for Lotor to want to risk leaving Allura alone to track down a doctor himself. He was just starting to stand when a knock came at the door, a man ushering himself into the room. “Well, hello.” He said, giving a slight bow to Lotor, who frowned.
“It’s about time!” Lotor huffed angrily, watching as the doctor checked the chart in his hands.
“I’m sorry, but there were other patients that needed to be seen.”
“Lotor, it’s fine.” Allura said, touching his arm as though to calm him. “I didn’t mind waiting.”
The doctor was still standing by the door, holding it open for an orderly who wheeled in a large machine. It came up to the chest of the man guiding it towards Allura’s bed, and was composed of a monitor that was attached via wires to a portable computer. A keyboard was on a shelf just below the monitor, and on a side tray was a microphone shaped device, a thick cord attaching it to the computer.
“What’s this?” Lotor demanded, eyeing the machine suspiciously.
“It’s the equipment for the ultrasound I ordered.” The doctor said, not blinking an eye at Lotor’s aggressive tone of voice. “Good news Allura, your blood work and urine analysis all checked out okay. I see nothing abnormal in your results.”
“Then why the ultrasound?” Lotor asked, and the doctor fixed him with a patient look.
“If my reading of her chart is correct, Allura has not had any checks ups since the announcement of her pregnancy.” He tsked, a reproachful look in his eyes. “I understand you’ve been busy, but we really need to keep a close eye on the little one. And not just when Allura is injured in an accident.”
“Accident?” Lotor scoffed, not liking the doctor’s choice of words. “It was no accident that brought her here.”
“Be that as it may, I intend to run the full course of tests on her.” The orderly had turned to leave the room, the doctor reaching for the bed sheet that covered Allura. Lotor stifled his unhappy growl, not liking when the doctor began to lift up Allura’s hospital gown, revealing her belly to the room. He was even less pleased when the doctor began applying some sort of liquid to her skin, the man speaking in a kind voice. “This will be a little cold…”
“Only a little?” Allura gasped in disbelief.
The doctor smiled, nodding at her. “Many of my patients have that same reaction. But it won’t harm you except to maybe raise some goose bumps.”
“What is that?” Lotor wanted to know.
“It’s a conducting gel. It won’t stain her skin, and it will help me move the transducer more easily over her belly.” Lotor felt a little lost at the doctor’s explanation, not knowing what a transducer was.
The doctor then turned to the machine, switching on the monitor. It whirred into life, a series of beeps as the computer activated. The doctor reached for the microphone shaped device, still speaking in that soothing tone. “This is the transducer. It uses a high range of harmless beams to form a picture of what’s inside you. Don’t worry!” he added before Lotor could raise any objections. “It’s not dangerous. She won’t even feel a thing except for a slight tickle when I move it.”
He pressed the transducer against Allura’s belly, and the screen immediately had a reaction. Lotor saw bits of white on a black background, blurry and changing with each movement of the device. Sound was also heard, and Lotor realized he was listening to a heartbeat. Was it Allura’s? A glance at Allura showed her staring at the screen, an expectant look on her face.
“Hmmm.” The doctor said, and Lotor realized he could hear more than one heartbeat. That second one must be their baby’s, and he felt the first flare of excitement within him. “Huh…”
Lotor frowned, not liking the sounds the doctor was making, the prince glaring at him. The doctor didn’t notice, too busy studying the screen. “Well, isn’t that something!” The doctor exclaimed, sounding amazed.
“‘What?!” Lotor hissed, not having a clue what they were looking at on the screen. “What do you see?! Is something wrong with the baby?!”
“No, not at all.” The doctor turned to smile at Allura, his eyes full of excitement. “Miss, are you aware you’re having twins?”
“Twins?!” Lotor gasped, and Allura made a questioning noise. Lotor realized she didn’t know the word in Drule, but before he tried to translate it to her, he spoke urgently to the doctor. “Are you sure?!”
“I’m posiitive.” The doctor said, and pushed a button on the keyboard, freezing the image. He set the transducer aside, and began moving the mouse, using it to circle two things on the screen. “This is one baby…” He pointed at one of the circles, though to Lotor it looked no different from anything else he was looking at. “And this is the other.”
“Twins?” Allura asked, a frown on her face. Lotor turned to her, his eyes excited.
“Allura! Two babies!” He held up two fingers in example, seeing her eyes grow wide with disbelief.
“Two?” She breathed out, and he nodded his confirmation. Her hands came up to her face, Allura covering her shocked mouth as she gasped. “Twins!” Lotor put his arm across her shoulders, hugging her against his side. The doctor continued to smile, placing the transducer back on Allura’s belly. A touch on the keyboard had the image moving once more, and Lotor listened in amazement at the sound of his children’s heartbeats.
Allura looked ready to cry, so moved was she by the news, staring in shock at the screen. The doctor seemed amused by their reactions, continuing to check over the babies inside Allura. “I can tell you the sex if you like.” He said, tone sly as he glanced at the prince. Lotor wanted to know immediately, but he glanced at Allura for permission.
“Do you want to know if we’re having boys or girls?” She hesitated, thinking about it, then at last shook her head no. Lotor couldn’t keep the disappointment from leaking into his voice, asking her why.
“I’d like to save some surprise for the actual birth.” Allura explained, and Lotor nodded.
“All right Alllura, we’ll wait.” He said, trying his best not to sigh.
She noticed his disappointment, and reached out with her hand, touching his cheek. “Thank you.” He nodded, and looked back to the screen, trying to study everything about the white and black images, thinking he could make out the shape of the babies now.
“All right.” The doctor said, pulling back with the transducer. “Your babies’ heart beats are strong, and they’re moving around inside of you. They appear to have suffered no damage from tonight’s mishap. Although I want to see you back in here for frequent check ups.”
“Done.” Allura promised before Lotor could say anything. “We’ll do everything to make sure our babies are healthy.”
“Now that’s the kind of attitude I like to hear.” The doctor said approvingly. He reached for some napkins off the side of the machine, using them to wipe the gel off Allura’s stomach. He then lowered the hospital gown, covering her once more. “I’ll have the nurse work on your discharge papers. But you should be free to go in about an hour.”
“Thank you doctor.” Lotor said gruffly, hearing Allura echo his words. The doctor smiled and walked out of the room, leaving the ultrasound machine behind. On it’s monitor was the frozen image of their babies, Lotor sneaking another glance at them. Allura was looking as well, growing misty eyed in the process. He pointed at the screen, finger tracing the outline of one of the babies’ heads.
“Can you see it Allura? Can you see the shape of our babies?” Lotor asked, and she nodded. She seemed too choked up to speak, dropping her uninjured hand to rub at her belly. He heard her whisper the Drule word for twin, a smile on her lips. He smiled too, and then his next question had Allura laughing out loud, Lotor wondering if they could get a picture off the ultrasound and frame it.
“It’s good to hear you laugh.” He told her, and hugged her once more. She snuggled against his chest, and his hand wandered down to her belly, rubbing gently at the lives growing inside it. He wondered how soon it would be before he could feel the twins kick, Lotor feeling full of pride to think he had made not one but two children with Allura.