Chapter 11 – The happy news
He tensed his jaw in response to the question.
“I don’t usually like personal questions,” he warned him. “Is it relevant?”
Dana showed a strange half-smile.
“It could have something to do with what happens to Elaine,” he warned in return, making Ban stiffen up.
“Shoot,” he said after a couple of seconds.
The doctor inspired.
“Elaine and you, as husband and wife–” Ban smirked, “You know, do you have–‘intimate relationships’?”
At first, Ban thought he was pulling his leg. But when he saw the seriousness that permeated Dana’s gesture, a strange shudder ran down his spine from top to end. Suppressing an outburst, Ban chose to lean discreetly on the table behind him and crossed his arms across his chest.
“I don’t know how much of your business this is, doc.”
Dana grimaced with irony.
“If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t still be a doctor, and you wouldn’t have come to me, would you?”
Ban looked at him for a while, weighing up his options. Something in that conversation was beginning to tell him where the shots might go, but he didn’t want to get his hopes up too early. Humans and fairies could be somewhat similar physically. But, beyond that– He wasn’t surprised, however, when he heard himself say, in a low voice:
“Yeah, we do.”
Only then did Dana’s face seem to relax and give way to a much more confident expression.
“I’ll call my assistant. Then we’ll go up and have a look at Elaine right away, okay?”
Ban, still not knowing what to think of all this and somewhat apprehensive about the doctor not asking him anything else, other than whether he was sleeping with his wife, nodded and thanked the doctor before heading back to the bedroom. Elaine had obeyed him and tucked in between the sheets, wrapped in her travelling dress. Unwittingly, the picture reminded Ban of challenging days. His wife extended a hand in his direction upon detecting it, and he accepted it immediately, sitting down next to her on the mattress. It took Dana and her assistant just two more minutes to appear.
“Hello, Elaine,” said Dana naturally, as if they were talking about the weather and not about what might happen to her. “Ban told me that you woke up feeling nauseous. Is that true?” The fairy nodded shyly. “Has this happened to you more times?”
At that question, there were two seconds of uncomfortable silence before Elaine, red as a tomato, whispered:
“Only once, but I didn’t give it a second thought–“
“Elaine–!” Ban scolded her, without pungency, before anxiously locking her fingers between his hands.
She seemed to blush even more.
I’m sorry, I didn’t want to worry you if it was nothing, she replied in his mind.
He sighed, not convinced at all; but Dana’s voice brought them back to reality at once when he said:
“My assistant and I have to do some checking before we can determine what’s wrong with you, Elaine. Can we?”
After exchanging a glance with Ban, the fairy nodded in agreement. However, when the assistant asked her to lift her dress, the young woman turned red and could not help herself. Although, neither Dana nor the assistant made any mention of her lack of underwear. On the contrary, Dana sat down next to her and asked her a series of questions, always under Ban’s watchful eye. Had Elaine noticed anything strange apart from nausea and dizziness? How often? Was it the first time?
“It doesn’t hurt,” said Elaine when the assistant felt her lower abdomen. “Although–“
The fairy bit her lip, unsure. If she said what she felt out loud, they would think the fool out of her, for sure.
“Although–?” Dana encouraged her. “Elaine, everything can matter to know what’s going on with you, you know that?”
In response, the fairy hesitated for a few more seconds before whispering:
Ban suddenly inhaled.
“Something– Like what?” Dana said, probably sensing the same thing as everyone else in the room.
“It’s–I don’t know how to describe it. Like–a consciousness–As if something is–“
Overwhelmed by the possibility that had just awakened in her mind, Elaine fell silent and looked at Ban with her eyes like plates. He, in turn, watched her with genuine surprise painted on his face. Dana, on the other hand, could only smile broadly before announcing, delighted:
“Well, young couple–Then it seems to me that we have some wonderful news to tell you.”
Elaine was the first to see what was going on in the doctor’s mind, and she put her hands to her mouth, incredulous. Ban alternated between her and the doctor, distressed that the latter would finally release the confirmation of his greatest dream–Or not.
“Elaine,” Dana turned to the fairy and smiled warmly. “Congratulations. You’re pregnant.”
Despite seeing it in the doctor’s mind and, on the other hand, having always harbored a little hope that this might happen, Elaine was so shocked that only Ban’s hand, leaning on her thigh barely covered by the sheet, brought her back to reality. He looked into the void, also incredulous, but with the emotion clearly on the surface.
A child, he thought, repeatedly.
Elaine gulped. Of course, it seemed incredible. How many cases of half-breeds between fairies and humans would there have been in history? Meanwhile, without them seeing it, the doctor gave his assistant a confident signal. He then turned to the two lovers again and announced to them:
“Well, young couple. We leave you alone for a moment. My assistant will now go for the test to make the final confirmation”. Before Elaine’s strange look, he added. “Don’t worry, it’s just a routine check. You won’t even notice it. I promise.”
The fairy, still tense, slowly nodded and then stared at Ban. As the doctor and his assistant disappeared, her fingers slipped into the hand he kept over her leg.
“Ban–” she called out to him, making him look up.
However, no one added anything else for several seconds. At least, until Ban whispered, almost inaudibly:
“But–How’s it possible?”
We’ve always been careful, haven’t we? He added in his mind, almost feeling stupid a second later.
Why was something like this envisaged? One of his greatest dreams had just come true, ain’t it?
Elaine, for her part, sighed, insecure. It was true that, despite the uncertainty, the two had preferred to apply the standard methods used by any human to prevent pregnancy and to be able to decide when, if ever, they wanted to take the next step. Had they not been safe enough?
“I wasn’t sure this would happen either–“, she confessed softly.
Ban snorted. Incredulous, but not angry.
“Yeah, neither did I–“
Then, as if by reflex, the stunned looks of both of them rose and crossed in time, before smiling almost in canon: first it was the left corner of Elaine’s lip that rose, then Ban did the same; until both of them were laughing as two idiots and Ban threw himself into her embrace, without a glance.
“Oh, Elaine–” he sighed into her hair, barely holding back tears of emotion. “Elaine–“
She sheltered her face in the hollow of his shoulder, no longer holding back the tears either. But there were tears of happiness, stuck in her throat almost since they had got the happy news.
“Ban… “she gasped, euphorically. “We’re gonna–We’re–“
He parted without stopping smiling and took her face.
“Yes, Elaine. We are gonna have a child,” he snorted, incredulously. “Damn, I didn’t think it’d feel so good to say it out loud–“
The fairy laughed almost in a gasp, trying to regain her lucidity without fully achieving it. It was like a dream come true.
“But–So–” she added, touching her still flat belly as if by instinct. “What do I have to do now? I mean–” Before Ban’s questioning eyebrow, the fairy blushed and passed her hair behind her ears. “I don’t have much experience in how humans have children–“
Ban shook his head without losing that grimace between funny and happy on his face.
“Well, you don’t need to worry about that now,” he said, holding her chin with one finger. “Now, the most important thing is that you take care of yourself and that you’re well. And whatever comes next–we will see. It may grow up to be a human baby–or we’ll end up raising him as a fairy child“. Ban smiled half-heartedly again. “But whatever it is, we’ll deal with it together, okay?”
Elaine imitated him, touching her belly again and looking at hit with curiosity.
“Okay,” she agreed.
However, before she could say anything else, the door opened again, and Dana’s assistant entered with a strange device in her hands. When Elaine saw it, she tensed up; but when Ban changed his position and passed an arm over her shoulders, the fairy saw in his heart that she had nothing to worry about. So, she relaxed and decided to obey the other woman’s instructions. The ‘confirmation’ procedure, as Dana told her, was not uncomfortable – not too uncomfortable, at least. So, a couple of minutes after that, Elaine and Ban were reassured about their greatest dream coming true.
“Now the most important thing is that Elaine rests, at least until you decide to leave–” said the assistant affably. When you do, I’ll give you some directions for the next few days and months, okay?”
Months? Elaine thought, somewhat terrified.
How long did a human pregnancy last? But Ban’s arm tightened more tightly on her back in that instant, almost instantly diluting any concern. Thus, the fairy caught herself nodding with a confident smile as the assistant left the room. Then the two lovers looked at each other again, laughing almost immediately like two idiots. In time, Ban’s hand slipped over Elaine’s belly, and his lips searched for hers without violence, possessing them for two minutes that lasted too short.
“Are you happy, Ban?” Asked Elaine when they parted, although her inner vision could easily see that his heart was about to burst.
As she must have supposed, he arched a sardonic eyebrow.
“Well, well…Can’t you see it, missy?”
Elaine blushed and lowered her face, caught in a false sense.
“Well, yes–But I’m so excited that everything I perceive seems like a dream. So–“
Ban then laughed and hugged her tighter before placing a tender kiss on her hair.
“I’m not happy, Elaine. I’m delighted!” He confessed then, to her delight too. “This is–like a dream come true. I want to have this child. You have no idea how much I do–“
She leaned against his chest.
“Me too, Ban. I can’t wait to hold him in my arms.”
Ban smiled and lifted a finger to her face again.
“We will, my love. And I’ll be with you all the time. Whatever happens,” he promised sweetly.
“I know,” she acknowledged softly, before kissing him again for another long minute. “I love you, Ban.”
He rubbed his nose with hers.
“And I love you, Elaine. I swear to you,” he added, touching her still flat belly, “that I intend to protect you both with my life. That is my life-goal from now on.”
She, for her part, on hearing that sincere statement and while she remembered unwillingly that first time, when she asked him what his life-purpose was, smiled, moved, before announcing:
“Well, that makes two of us then–Don’t you think?”