Chapter 18 – Lancelot
“Look, did you see it?”
“Yup–He’s got your hand again!”
Elaine and Ban laughed together as Lancelot continued to look around with a strange curiosity painted in his slightly slanting eyes, like Ban’s. Both parents were in such a state of excitement that the world could have collapsed around them, leaving the three of them in their parallel universe. At least until the little one began to sob in a way that they had not heard before. Elaine, like a good new mother, was immediately tense.
“What’s wrong? Why is he crying?”
“Hey, don’t worry,” Ban reassured her then, without losing his cool, before stroking the little one’s hair. “Something tells me he’s just hungry, right, champ?”
Elaine turned to him, unsure.
“Hungry?” She repeated, “But–what does a human baby eat?”
Or half-bred, in this case, she thought, without being able to say it out loud.
Ban, for his part, made a sly face before replying:
“Well, as envious as I may be, I think it’s something you have now and didn’t have before–Not that much, at least.”
After a second of strangeness, Elaine understood this and looked down–Specifically, at the bulging breasts. As expected, her cheeks took on a nuclear red hue as soon as she understood, more or less, what she had to do.
“Ban–You’re not kidding, right?”
Her man, to her relief, maintained the serious but kind gesture.
“I wouldn’t think of joking about the welfare of my child, would I? Come on. Do you want me to help you, or do you want me to tell Jericho and Gerharde?”
Maybe among women, it’ll be less violent, the man thought, unable to avoid it.
Elaine, in her shame and of course having heard his thought, showed a grateful little smile.
“I’d rather have you help me,” she said gently before looking down at Lancelot, whose moans grew louder by the minute. “I think–I sense that”, she corrected herself, “this is something too private to ask of anyone else, at least for the time being. Don’t you think?”
Ban imitated her gesture.
Elaine nodded and leaned back a bit more on the branch behind her back while Ban made sure to hold the baby in one hand and advised his wife to slowly lower her dress’ neckline. Taking a deep breath and red as a tomato, Elaine obeyed and uncovered her torso very carefully. Ban, without grimacing, just placed the little boy back in his mother’s arms, making sure to hold his head securely at all times.
Then Elaine saw something that would never erase from her memory. As she leaned the baby against the soft skin of her breasts, he turned as if by inertia towards her and, in just two seconds, found the food he was so desperately looking for.
Elaine gasped at the first tug. Nevertheless, she soon realised that as she was probably the first fairy in history to breastfeed a baby, that was only the natural way to happen.
When the little one finished eating, his tiny fists rose in the air as he yawned and huddled against his mom’s body, all smiles and happy. Elaine then put her dress back on, without stopping smiling, before letting herself be taken into Ban’s arms, relaxed as never before in her life. She noticed how both of them unintentionally began to fall into a sweet sleep as the sun rose on the horizon. The star was already high in the sky when they woke up, and Lancelot demanded food again. Now more trained, after saying good morning to a Ban who had not let her off his arms all that time, Elaine worked hard to repeat the process of a few hours earlier, with the same result.
“Hi, guys! Good morning,” Jericho’s head popped out of the ‘bedroom’ entrance, grimacing when she thought she’d woken the boy. “Am I disturbing you three?”
Ban smiled, conciliatory.
“No, ‘course not. The toddler just went out like a light, so don’t worry.”
Jericho grimaced similarly, though more apologetically, before rising and sitting on a low branch.
“How are you? Everything in order?” Asked Gerharde, appearing from the side.
Elaine nodded before looking at Ban with complicity.
“He behaves beautifully,” she said, before looking sideways at Jericho. “Hey. If you want you can go for a walk, Ban.” The fairy then pointed her chin at the young human, who blushed unwillingly. “I’m staying with Lancelot.”
Ban turned immediately to Jericho, looking puzzled. And this one, caught unawares, barely managed to respond:
“The truth is that I think Elaine caught me”. And to Ban’s greatest surprise, she added: “I had brought you a gift from Liones, but I didn’t want to interrupt for such a silly thing–We’ll have time if you like.”
With mixed feelings, Ban then looked at Elaine. He didn’t want to part with her or the child, but something in Jericho’s attitude intrigued him and made him want to know more.
“Go, silly,” Elaine urged him, without reproach.
He gulped softly, still hesitant.
“Are you sure, Elaine? You sure that–You don’t need me at all?” He asked, not knowing whether he wanted her to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
The young mother, for her part, grimaced and denied.
“I don’t. You have to be with humans once in a while too,” she smiled, and he almost blushed. “And anyway, if anything happens, Gerharde is around to help me out, right?”
She nodded joyfully. Ban, however, still bit his lip inside, uncertainly, for a couple of seconds, before giving in to her confident expression. But he didn’t leave until he had kissed her lips gently and carefully stroked the clear head of his son, who was resting in absolute peace in his mother’s arms.
“Anything, just call me, okay?”
“Don’t doubt it for a second. Go on, get out, you two!”
“So–let’s see–what is so important that you had to show me?” Ban said ironically, almost laughing when he saw Jericho’s cheeks turn a fiery red.
“It wasn’t my fault, okay?” the girl defended herself without looking at him as they advanced through the forest.
Jericho hadn’t left the package far behind, though she had threatened Puora with many bad things if he thought to let it get lost. But the young woman saw that the fairy had kept his promise when, as she pulled out a bush, she saw the package tucked away in its hollow and perfect condition.
“The truth is–” she added as she picked it up in her arms, “I learned some time ago that someone cannot live without this, and I thought it was a nice touch–You know–“
“Oh, Jericho!” Ban laughed before almost hugging her again when he saw the gift the girl had brought him. “You shouldn’t know me so well. You know that, don’t ya?”
She made a sly gesture.
“Come on–Who doesn’t know the two biggest weaknesses of Fox’s Sin?” She joked, making him laugh the hardest before taking the half dozen beers in his muscular arms.
“Then you also know that I’ll run out before you leave, right?”
Now it was Jericho’s turn to laugh, and Ban chanted it as they both returned to the Sacred Tree.
“Come, I want to show you a place where we’ll be quiet,” said the human.
To the young woman’s surprise, he began to climb quickly, although he didn’t go to where Elaine, Gerharde and the baby were. On the contrary, he circled the trunk on the other side, jumping from branch to branch and without the packet of beers upsetting his balance in the least. At least, before stopping in a strange clearing placed almost twenty metres above the ground. Jericho, containing her slight dizziness, followed him obediently until she was standing on the soft grass – if something similar could grow up there. Then she turned to look at the landscape at the mute gesture of Ban. As was evident, she was speechless.
“It’s–beautiful,” she whispered, completely forgetting vertigo and almost where she was. “Wow, no wonder you like living here, Ban.”
He chuckled as he opened two little bottles, sitting with his legs dangling in the void.
“The truth is that I’ve got better reasons than the view to live here,” he said, “but it’s a great incentive, no doubt.”
Jericho shook her head in amusement before sitting down next to him, albeit cross-legged and at a safe distance from the edge of the clearing.
“You make me jealous, Ban,” confessed the girl as soon as he passed her his beer, but when he laughed softly, Jericho suddenly explained herself. “Hey! No–I mean, I didn’t mean that–You know–“
Ban laughed louder, implying that he was only trying to piss her off.
“Don’t get so upset, Jericho,” he asked, still laughing. “I know what you mean.”
The young woman went from embarrassment to relief in an instant.
“What I wanted to say is that–I hope that in the future, something as precious as what has come to you and Elaine will come to me,” she smiled comradely. “After so much suffering, you deserve the best.”
Ban observed her at length before responding:
“You know, I still remember what Elaine asked me when I first met her.”
“What was it?”
Ban seemed to linger for a second in his memory, with a wistful expression.
“She asked me why I was looking for the Fountain of Youth. I told her that I thought that–If I lived long enough, at some point, something good would come to me.”
Jericho gulped softly when he fell silent, sensing what was behind those words without effort.
“And you discovered that you didn’t need the Fountain for that, did you?”
Ban cocked his head before laughing again and taking another shot at his beer.
“You’re a very sharp girl, Jericho.” She imitated him, proudly, before he got serious again. “The truth is when I lost her–That’s when I understood that I was wrong. And that I don’t care how many years I can live anymore–As long as I can do it by Elaine’s side. Every moment I live with her, whether it’s for the next ten, twenty or fifty years–will be unique and unrepeatable. And the day I have to leave, I know that I’ll do it happily because she was there.”
Jericho pursed her lips, moved.
“What your child will not lack is a family that loves him madly, that’s for sure.”
Ban smiled with some hidden emotion.
“That’s for sure. I couldn’t ask for anything more and,” he whispered, “I intend to ensure with my life, if necessary, that this is so.”
I promise that until the end of my days.