To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 29
Warning: some nudity, sort of. It's medical, so does that count?
Charity sat on the edge of the table at her doctor’s office, her legs dangling. She had already provided a blood sample for testing and was just waiting to hear the doctor confirm what she already knew. She turned her head at the sound of the door opening and smiled at the doctor.
“Hello, Mrs. Cavendish,” the doctor said kindly, smiling and reaching to shake her hand. He glanced down at the chart in his hands and nodded. “Well, well... we have the results back from your blood tests, and congratulations! You are, indeed, pregnant!”
“I knew it!” Charity cried joyfully, but the expression on the doctor’s face curbed her enthusiasm. “What is it?” she asked. “Is there something wrong?”
“Not necessarily,” the doctor said, continuing to consult Charity’s chart. “It is only that your iron levels are extraordinarily low. Probably one of the lowest counts I’ve seen. Now, that’s no cause for alarm necessarily; it can be normal at this stage in pregnancy. However, we’ll put you on an iron supplement and get you back in here for further testing, just to be on the safe side.”
“What do you think it means?” Charity asked.
“It’s probably nothing,” the doctor said in the manner of one who had reassured many frantic mothers-to-be in his day. “Just be sure to take the supplements.”
Charity worried about it as the doctor finished the exam, but then decided to put it out of her mind. She was certain she was not the first pregnant woman to become anemic in the first trimester. Surely the iron supplements would help. Yet, a small nagging voice in her head reminded her she had not informed the doctor of her child’s unusual parentage. How was Charity to know this was just a normal pregnancy complication and not something more?
Vidcund was waiting for her in the lobby, casting embarrassed glances at the pregnant women all around him.
He stood up quickly when Charity walked in.
“Everything okay?” he asked.
“Yes,” Charity said slowly, frowning. “I think so.”
“What do you mean? Aren’t you... ?” He gestured toward her middle.
“Oh, oh yes. I defiantly am,” she interrupted, smiling and patting her abdomen. “It’s not that. It’s just...” she trailed off. She didn’t want to make it seem like more than it was.
“What?” Vidcund asked, worried.
“Does he know your history?” Vidcund whispered as he walked with her out to the parking lot and they got into the car.
"No!” Charity said vehemently. “There’s no reason for me to tell him that! This is just a normal complication... it has nothing to do with Reginald!”
Vidcund looked at her thoughtfully as he started the engine. “I hope not, Charity.”
Charity’s next doctor visit did not provide encouraging news.
“Mrs. Cavendish, I don’t understand this, but your iron levels have not improved at all,” the doctor said seriously. “Are you taking your supplements?”
“Yes!” Charity insisted. “Every day!”
“Are you keeping them down?”
“Yes,” Charity replied. “The nausea has gotten a lot better lately.”
“Well, we need to increase the dosage, then.” the doctor ordered, “and see you back here shortly for more tests.”
Charity left the office with a heavy heart. Why weren't her iron levels going up? She was taking so much iron already that she constantly had a metallic taste in her mouth and going to the bathroom had become a completely new experience... how much more could she possibly need?
“What do you think it means?” Charity asked worriedly at dinner that night as she toyed with her food. Lazlo was out somewhere and the children were sleeping, so it was just Charity, Vidcund, and Pascal at the table.
“It’s probably nothing to worry about,” Vidcund reassured her.
“I just don’t understand it,” Charity replied. I’m eating nothing but meat, and I take those awful iron pills every day. I can’t think of what could be wrong with me… ”
Pascal was clearly debating whether or not to say what was on his mind. Finally, he stopped eating and sighed.
“I hate to bring this up,” he said gently to Charity, “but I think we need to consider the possibility that your child might have significantly higher iron requirements than the average fetus.” He raised his eyebrows at her for emphasis.
“What are you saying?” Charity cried. “Do you mean... ?” She covered her middle protectively with her hands. “No, Pascal! I refuse to believe this baby is a monster!”
“I didn’t say that.” Pascal said. “There is, however, a very...”
“Pascal, that’s enough.” Vidcund said quietly, looking at Charity’s frightened expression. He carefully took her hand and squeezed it. “Come on, Charity. You’re exhausted. Why don’t you go to bed?”
“Yes... I think I will,” Charity replied in a shaky voice, clutching his hand. “Will you come?”
“In a while,” Vidcund said. “Go on.”
After Charity disappeared into her bedroom, Vidcund turned to Pascal angrily. “Why do you insist on saying things that upset her?”
“I’m not trying to upset her,” Pascal said defensively. “...but we can’t keep ignoring the fact that she has a very unusual pregnancy, and...”
“There’s nothing unusual about being anemic!” Vidcund argued.
“Under normal circumstances, I’d completely agree with you.” Pascal said. “However, we all know this pregnancy is different.”
Vidcund rubbed his forehead wearily and didn’t reply.
“We have to face the facts, Vidcund,” Pascal said quietly. “The best outcome we can hope for is some sort of hybrid between human and vampire. The worst would be, well...” Pascal sighed, then continued. “The worst would be all of this starting all over again, with possibly a different strain of the virus. One that isn’t so easily controlled, or, perhaps, not controllable at all.”
“Are you saying she might be pregnant with another Grand Vampire?” Vidcund exclaimed in a horrified voice. “That can’t be, Pascal! The baby is part of her, too!”
A short time later, Vidcund quietly slipped into bed beside Charity, curled close to her sleeping warmth, and sighed. He put his arm around her, his hand sliding its way down over her smooth bare skin to her lower abdomen. Gently, he curved his hand across the small, firm roundness he found there.
He could not bring himself to believe the woman he loved was carrying another Grand Vampire in her womb. However, talking with Pascal had him worried sick, and sleep would not come.
It would devastate Charity, he knew, to give birth to such a creature, and Pascal was right... what would they do if she did? How could they sustain a vampire child’s lust for blood? How could they nurture it, love it, and then unleash it upon the world to be the genesis of another plague of death?
He heard the door slam and the unmistakable sounds of his younger brother in the front room.
Lazlo was home from wherever he had gone, and even though it did not sound as though he had returned alone, Vidcund considered getting up and going to talk to him. He really wanted to discuss what Pascal had brought up at dinner and get Lazlo’s opinion on all of it. Somehow he felt his younger brother would be a bit more optimistic than his older one and Vidcund really needed that reassurance right now.
Vidcund desperately wanted to hear that everything was going to be okay. He wanted to hear that when Reginald consumed the antidote, it had somehow created human gametes within him that united with Charity's to produce offspring...
But he wasn’t human, remember? That’s why the formula didn’t cure him to begin with...
Charity roused a little, realized Vidcund was there, murmured something unintelligible, snuggled closer to him, and then fell back into a deep sleep. He decided not to get out of bed and risk disturbing her, because she really needed her rest. Instead, he wrapped his arms even closer around her and closed his eyes, concentrating on the sound of her breath. Although they had been sharing the same bed for a while, their relationship still had not progressed beyond holding each other throughout the night.
He just hoped they would have the chance.
Charity began her second trimester of pregnancy feeling somewhat better... at least physically. Her iron level finally stabilized, and although it wasn’t nearly as high as what the doctor wanted to see, it was at least maintaining itself, which was something.
Emotionally, however, she wasn’t doing as well. As her pregnancy progressed, instead of feeling more confident and secure, as was usual among pregnant women, Charity became more frightened and worried.
Vidcund also had a separate issue weighing heavily on his mind.
He very much wanted to ask Charity to marry him, and had ever since he had brought her back from the vampire’s home. The fact she was pregnant with another man’s child didn’t lessen his desire to make her his wife whatsoever. In fact, his worries over her pregnancy made him want to marry her before the child was born even more, as though by giving the infant his name, he would be also giving him or her a chance.
Deep down, of course, he knew even if the child was born a Curious, it wouldn’t change the fact he or she was conceived a Cavendish. Still, the idea somehow made Vidcund feel better. Not only that, he felt the family badly needed some kind of positive event. He just hoped and prayed Charity would say yes.
He honestly wasn’t sure if she would.
Oh, he had no doubt of her love for him, but he also knew how much she had loved her first husband. There were mornings when Charity looked at him over the sunny breakfast table like she was in some kind of alternate reality.
Sometimes at night, too, he would hear her murmuring the vampire’s name.
It cut through Vidcund like a white-hot blade, but it only served to make him hold her closer to him, only made him all the more determined to make her his bride.
The morning he had decided to propose, he woke up later than usual due to his nervous, fitful slumber, and Charity was already out of bed. The children were all in school, as his twins’ aging had been the night before.
The house seemed very quiet and empty. Pascal was at work, and Lazlo was in his room talking on the phone to his latest girlfriend, a woman he’d met Downtown who Vidcund thought was named Nina. Or was it Dina? Vidcund shrugged inwardly... could be both, for all he knew. It was no secret his youngest brother enjoyed dating.
Vidcund finally found Charity outside. She was sitting in one of the lawn chairs at the outdoor table, drenched in sunlight, her face turned skyward, her eyes closed. Her hands were resting on top of her distended abdomen, and Vidcund could see from where he was standing how much the unborn child was moving inside, nearly knocking Charity’s hands away.
Vidcund didn’t remember his own babies moving that much at this point, but, he realized his alien pregnancy may have been much different than Charity’s. Who knew if a fetus could move as much within the confines of the bio-capsule implanted by the aliens as it could within a natural female womb? Yet to Vidcund, it almost seemed as though Charity’s child was uncomfortable, but how could that be? He shook his head in disbelief as he walked over to the table.
“You have no idea how much I missed this,” Charity murmured to him without opening her eyes. "Sometimes I feel like I want to just sit in the sunlight all day, without moving, and just soak it all in...” She sighed as Vidcund slid into another lawn chair at the table.
He took one of her hands in his and said nothing.
“There’s something else I’ve been thinking about.” Charity said drowsily, “I wonder... do you think the baby will... you know... be able to see the sun?”
“I wish I could tell you, Charity, ” Vidcund sighed, looking at her belly, which was still jumping and moving from side to side, as though the being within was fighting to be free.
“It’s terrible, having to hide from it,” she said gloomily, lightly rubbing her bulging abdomen with her other hand. “To fear the coming of the dawn every morning. It’s a dreadful life to lead. So isolated. So misunderstood. So alone.”
Vidcund pressed her hand in his and swallowed hard. She seemed so melancholy. Perhaps his proposal should wait.
“What are you thinking, Vidcund?” Charity asked, inclining her head toward his to try to see into his downcast eyes. “You look as though you want to say something.”
He took a deep breath. It’s now or never. “I do. Well, actually, I want to ask something.”
“Really? What is it?”
His heart racing, Vidcund slipped a hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out the velvet box he had been hiding there. Gently, he placed it on the table and slid it toward Charity.
Her eyes widened in shock, and before he could lose his nerve, the words tumbled out of him. “Charity,” he said, “ I love you more than I thought I could love anyone. We’ve been through so much, and I love you more now than I ever have. You should know there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you, and now I’m asking you to do something for me. Would you do this for me, Charity? Would you become my wife?”
“Oh!” Charity gasped, staring at the beautiful diamond engagement ring in the velvet box. “Vidcund... are you sure? I mean, the baby...”
“The baby will be a Curious.” Vidcund said firmly. “Charity, I know how worried you are about this pregnancy. I am, too... but we can face those fears together. I promise you, I’ll do everything I possibly can for your baby. Everything that is within my power to do.”
He placed the ring on Charity’s finger and she sighed.
“Yes, I will marry you, Vidcund,” she said.
To Be Continued…