The room was unbearably hot. Thick black curtains lined the walls and hid the windows; the doors to the room were clicked shut tightly. A fire simmered quietly in the corner.
The woman in the bed groaned, her chest heaving as she twisted. She was naked from the waist down; beads of sweat gathered on her forehead and chest. Her thick, black hair was soaking with perspiration as she writhed in pain.
Royal Pains – Episode 1
A lone woman hovered above her, wiping her forehead with cool clothes, whispering words of encouragement to her. The woman was the Queen’s best friend; they had been together since childhood. Upon her marriage, the Queen had brought Rebecca with her, to be her companion and Lady-in-waiting. She was the only woman the Queen would trust in the birth room, besides the mid-wife.
The midwife was crouched beneath her thighs, muttering encouraging words. “Almost there, Your Grace, he’s almost here!” The Queen’s blue eyes were shut tight, turned away, her young body twisting and writing in pain.
The smooth skin of her face was contorted in pain as she screamed and screamed. It was turning out to be a difficult birth, unusual for one so young. But then again, it was her first time carrying a babe full term. She had miscarried her other pregnancies, all six of them.
“Please God it’s a son,” the Queen thought desperately. “Please, God.”
Outside the room, several of the ladies-in-waiting were gathered. The King had yet to be told his wife had finally gone into labor, as he was out hunting and could not be found. Several of the women clutched rosary beads in their hands, their heads bowed, praying for the safe delivery of Dokar’s next Prince, and its Queen.
And a Prince it had better be. The King had openly threatened the Queen that if this child did not live, he would have no choice but to divorce her for a more fertile bride. No man in Dokar could blame him; he had to have an heir.
Royal Pains – Episode 1
Dead babies were not going to cut it. Nor would a girl-child, a Princess. A girl to him was as good as dead, he had declared, publicly at a banquet one night, as he passed the Queen a plate of fried sheep lungs, thought to ensure the child in the womb was a son. His black eyes, normally so friendly and open, were filled with hateful determination and spite.
She was young, and beautiful. Jet black hair and dark blue eyes; smooth, white skin. Slim, but with child-bearing hips and generous curves. Perfect, really, for a Queen.
And yet, and yet… she was twenty-four. She had been pregnant six times previously, married since she was fifteen. And not once had she been able to carry the babe to full term. Not once.
This was her last chance. If the King divorced her, she would have to step aside graciously and go to a nunnery. A nunnery!
She groaned, aloud, fire spreading through her stomach up her body. “Let this be over soon,” she prayed aloud, her voice dripping with fear and desperation. “Please, God, it’s a boy.”
Down the hall, another similar scene was taking place. One of the Queen’s serving maid was also in the midst of giving birth.
Her husband, his hands wrapped tightly around hers, whispered sweet words of encouragement to her. “My love, it’s almost over,” he murmured, leaning down and kissing her forehead.
They were both young, only nineteen, but they had been married for over a year. Both worked at court; she as a maid to the Queen and he in the kitchens. They made good money and the court always provided them with food and a home; it wasn’t the perfect time for them to be extending their family, but it wasn’t a bad time, either.
Royal Pains – Episode 1
Justin was making enough money that Lucy could retire to her parent’s farm to raise the child, while Justin worked here at the court. He had never been a father before. And if it made their lives a little more difficult, then so what? This unexpected child was a blessing as all children were blessings.
Of course, the Queen had gotten pregnant at the same time as Lucy seemed an omen of extraordinary luck, and they already decided if they had a girl, they would name her Natalie, after the Queen. If they had a boy, however,
Justin wouldn’t mind naming him after his father; Richard. Boy or girl, it didn’t matter really.
Lucy, bit down hard on her lip, as she writhed on the bed. She was trying not to scream, but it was so hard. She had never been pregnant before, never had a child and while everyone told her it would be painful, no one had told her how much.
Her husband lovingly stroked her hair and forehead; Lucy wanted to punch him in his face. She raised her brown eyes to his. “Stop touching me!” she hissed violently and he shrank back. “Sorry,” he murmured immediately, taking a step back away from the bed. The midwife hid a smile.
“Okay, sweating, here we go, this is the hard part now – we’re almost at the end”
… To Be Continued