< — The Beginning and the End — > (3)
Hugo was sleeping but because of the body moving around next to him, he woke up. When he saw Lucia sitting up on the bed, he was surprised and sat up.
“What? Is something wrong?”
“I can’t sleep.”
Hugo inwardly thought to himself, ‘Well, you slept so much during the day, makes sense sleep won’t come.’
It had been three weeks since the day she was diagnosed as pregnant and the time Lucia spent asleep had increased. She slept almost all day. She slept early in the evening, woke up late in the morning and also took a nap in the afternoon. It was a lifestyle drowning in sleep as if she was getting a lifetime of sleep in advance.
These days, Hugo had barely seen anything but his wife’s sleeping face.
“Is there something I can do?”
“It’s not only that I can’t sleep, I keep thinking of food…”
“What do you want to eat? If you tell Jerome, he’ll get it ready for you soon.”
“I told him, but he said he couldn’t get it.”
A food that Jerome couldn’t prepare. Hugo had a slightly ominous foreboding.
“What is it?”
Spring had only just arrived. The winds outside were still chilly. Grapevines were yet to sprout proper leaves.
“You can’t get it either?” (Lucia)
Hugo was confident that he could comb through the entire world to find anything she wanted. However, no matter how talented he was, he did not have the ability to make fruits that had not sprouted yet. Deep down in the south, there was a country with warm climate but now wasn’t the harvesting season for grapes.
However, Hugo just couldn’t say no to his wife, who was looking at him with clear eyes full of expectation. So, he bluffed and said.
“…I’ll look for it.”
She threw her arms around his neck, hugging him, and as Hugo wrapped his arms around her in embrace, he broke out in cold sweat.
‘Damn, I’m in trouble now.’
* * *
Kwiz heard from the Queen that the Duchess seemed to be pregnant. After hearing that, he learnt that the Duchess had stopped her activities outside and guessed that she must indeed be pregnant.
However, even though he met with the Duke of Taran almost everyday, the Duke of Taran didn’t seem to have any intention of telling him the good news and it had almost been a month. At this rate, it seemed like he would only be told of the pregnancy after the child was born.
Kwiz lightly brought up the subject first.
“Gong, this king heard that you will be becoming a father soon.”
“It has been a long time since I became a father.”
“I heard you would be seeing a second child.”
“Some people, really. You have to tell good news like this quickly. Congratulations. The Duchess is doing well?”
“Yes. There are no big issues.”
“I’m glad to hear that. When the Queen was pregnant with the princess, she couldn’t eat properly so she suffered a lot. They say such symptoms are common if the baby is female, how is the Duchess faring?”
“She isn’t troubled too much.”
“I guess the child is gentle like the Duchess. I wonder if it will be a boy like you, Gong, or a girl like the Duchess. You know, this king made a bet on it with my adjutant. I bet it would be a boy. This king believes in you, Gong.”
It would seem that Kwiz had terrible luck in gambling. As Hugo looked at Kwiz who was guffawing loudly, he inwardly muttered to himself, ‘It is a girl’.
He thought that the yet-to-be-born child should definitely resemble his wife. Otherwise, it wasn’t worthwhile to go through all this trouble.
Hugo roughly ignored it when the King boasted and gushed about the princess’ loveliness whenever he had the chance. His thought process was, ‘What does the loveliness of someone else’s child have to do with me?’. In fact, he was going through agony before his own child was born.
One month had passed. It was only just a month, but one month was really a long time. There were still six to seven months left until the child was born. This situation was like standing on a narrow ridge, with an abyss of darkness at your front and back, and the gloomy prospects make you unable to go forward or backwards.
Lucia’s morning sickness was not severe enough to make her refuse food. Although she refused meals with strong smells, she usually ate quite well.
The doctor had said several times that it was fortunate that she wasn’t like some mothers who had almost nothing but water during their pregnancy term and slimmed down drastically after giving birth.
Hugo agreed wholeheartedly. He felt like if he watched his wife suffer from morning sickness that made her throw up everything and not eat properly, he might dislike the child.
However, nothing in the world was easy. Lucia’s morning sickness was light, but her nerves were relatively sharp.
Still, from the standpoint of others, it wasn’t to the extent that it was unusual. Her tone was curt, and her irritation had only slightly increased. But because it was such a contrast to her gentle personality, it seemed like such a dramatic change. Especially for Hugo who experienced his wife’s change firsthand, he was dealt a great deal of shock.
* * *
Today as well, Lucia was not among the people who came to greet Hugo upon his return home. Jerome gave his master the same answer he gave yesterday.
“The Madam is sleeping.”
“What about dinner?”
“She has not had it yet. She has been sleeping since afternoon…”
Hugo was becoming worried that his wife was sleeping too much. So he recently asked the doctor if it was okay.
[Feeling easily fatigued and sleeping a lot are typical symptoms of early pregnancy. Although the Madam is sleeping a lot, you do not have to worry. The Madam is actually going through the early stages very smoothly.]
Hugo couldn’t agree with the doctor saying that it was going very smoothly, but he was relieved and also disappointed by the doctor’s answer that it was normal. After all, normal meant that the excessive sleep couldn’t be lessened with treatment.
He couldn’t remember when he last sat down with his wife and had a conversation. If he was at home during the day, he would be able to see her awake, but Hugo’s busy schedule had him leave in the morning and return in the evening so there was no room to slack.
A few days ago, something happened that got Hugo more depressed. He had been able to soothe his regret by sleeping with his wife in his arms, but she began to get annoyed by such contact. He put his hand in her nightwear a few days ago and touched her a little (by his standards) but she couldn’t stand it and told him not to come near her at all.
Hugo didn’t know where to resolve his bafflement and grievance. So he asked the doctor again. Nowadays, the doctor was acting as a consultant for the Duke.
[In the early stages, an expectant mother may have an extreme reaction to her husband’s physical contact. It may or may not improve in the middle stages of pregnancy.]
The doctor’s advice wasn’t helpful at all. Hugo thought again that the doctor must be a quack. He was harboring a grudge against the innocent doctor.
Hugo entered his wife’s bedroom. He approached the figure lying down on the bed in the dimly lit bedroom and carefully sat on the bed.
While he was just looking at her, Lucia, who had her back to him, tossed in her sleep and turned around to face him. He unconsciously stretched out his hand but hesitated unwittingly and felt ashamed. Why couldn’t he touch his woman as much as he wanted?
His gaze went down and stopped on her stomach, covered with the blanket. A mysterious creature, invisible to human sight, was growing in her womb and driving him to the greatest crisis of his life. However, Hugo knew very well, that he should not ever make the mistake of letting the words of blaming the baby leave his mouth.
He had thought too simply about having a child. He had simply thought that if they have a child together, the child grows, it is born and that was it.
He couldn’t help but admire the king who had gone through this process four times.
Hugo gathered his courage and stretched out his hand. He touched her soft cheek, caressed her forehead and swept a hand through her hair. When Lucia made a droning noise, signaling that she was waking up, he got nervous. And when he watched Lucia blink her eyes, he held his breath.
Her reaction was gentle. Hugo inwardly heaved a sigh of relief. His wife’s mental state was like thin ice, so he felt tenser than on a battlefield. Just a few months ago, his wife was always smiling at him and he missed her like that a lot.
Lucia gave him a bright smile and stretched out her arms. Despite thinking ‘what’s the occasion’, Hugo promptly reciprocated. As he embraced her soft, warm body and took in the fragrance brushing past his nose, he realized that happiness could come from something so trivial.
“I saw my mother in my dream. She looked young, beautiful and happy.”
“Then I have to hope she appears in your dreams every day. Young, beautiful and happy.”
Lucia chuckled like she heard a joke, but Hugo was serious.
“You have to eat dinner before you sleep. Shall I have them prepare it now?”
“I don’t really have much appetite.”
“I heard you didn’t have much at lunch either. Is there anything you want to eat? If there’s something in particular on your mind, tell me.”
‘The baby in your stomach is sucking up all the nutrients in your body,’ Hugo mumbled to himself, adding a strong sentiment onto what the doctor had told him.
“Mmm…there is something. If it is that then I think I will have the appetite.”
Hugo was nervous. He wanted to tell her to please ask for something he could get this time.
Last time, he eventually could not get the green grapes. When he saw her looking sullen for a few days, he felt like he was on thorns and had to realize his own incompetence.
“There was an opened night market in the village I lived in as a child. The grilled skewers that Mister Peter made were really delicious.”
It was a sudden request, but Hugo was relieved since it didn’t seem impossible. Night market. Peter. Grilled Skewers. He put down the key words in his mind.
“Oh wow. Then we can have that for dinner.”
“If not now then…?”
Hugo gazed at Lucia who was returning the question for a moment, then he swallowed a sigh. He immediately called Jerome and instructed him. Jerome personally took a few servants and went to the village where the Madam had lived as a child.
A few hours later, Hugo received the delivered grilled skewers and took them to the second floor, personally.
Lucia was in the receiving room making clothes for the baby and when she saw the dish her husband brought, she was delighted. Seeing her like this brought a smile to Hugo’s face. However, after taking just a few bites, she put it down and said her stomach was full.
“When will green grapes be ready for harvest?”
That damn green grape. Hugo seriously considered whether he should buy a farm.