To Fear the Dawn: Chapter 30
Vidcund and Charity’s wedding was a quiet affair, with only close friends and family in attendance.
Vidcund wasn’t disappointed about that, though. Large gatherings were never his forte, and he was happy just to be getting married to the woman he loved. Besides, time was growing short if he wanted to ensure they were married before the birth of Charity’s baby, which could happen any time. The less preparation they had to do, so much the better.
They exchanged rings and vows, and Charity only had a brief recollection of another wedding ceremony, held in the light of the moon, surrounded by quiet water and set to the magical symphony of night creatures. She shut her eyes and willed the memory out of her head.
She was getting married this day in the bright light of the sun, to someone she unquestionably loved deeply, and who she knew loved her more than words could express.
And if Charity had a moment of surprise when her new husband kissed her and she didn’t feel the gentle sharpness of elongated canine teeth, it didn’t last very long. She smiled at Vidcund, and lightly stroked his cheek. We’ve been through so much to get to this day. Surely this is meant to be.
“You want Pas and me to take off tonight with the kids for a while?” Lazlo asked Vidcund after the reception was over and the guests had left. “You know... so you two can be alone…” He grinned at his brother lasciviously.
“It’s not necessary,” Vidcund told him, smiling, “but thanks for offering. I think we’ll manage.”
Lazlo was the only person Vidcund had confided to in regards to the fact that sleeping with Charity so far had been just that. Sleeping. It rather embarrassed Vidcund that his baby brother had far more experience than he, but it was the way it was.
Now, in addition, Vidcund was being faced with the not-so-small obstacle of a late-term pregnancy. He knew he’d have to handle things carefully, but if he was honest with himself, he knew he didn’t really know how to handle things at all, let alone make any special allowances.
Haltingly, he mentioned his concerns to Lazlo.
“Sorry, can’t help you there, bro.” Lazlo said, clapping him on the shoulder. “I’ve never done it with a pregnant chick.” He grinned. “Although I have heard it can speed things along...”
“What?” Vidcund cried, alarmed. Oh, I really didn’t need to hear that. “Are you sure?”
“It’s just a rumor, Vid. I think. I wouldn't worry about it....” Lazlo said.
“Well... maybe we shouldn’t...," Vidcund said worriedly, looking toward the bedroom. "I mean, I wouldn’t want anything to happen if...”
“It’s your wedding night, man!” Lazlo said, exasperated. “Now get in there and give it hell!” He playfully shoved Vidcund toward the bedroom where Charity was lying on the bed, resting after the ceremony.
I’d hardly call it ‘giving it hell,’ Vidcund thought, taking a deep breath.
He badly wanted to do this, of course, but he was so afraid he’d hurt Charity or cause problems with the baby, that it didn’t set things up for a very confident performance. Nervously, he peeked into the bedroom, and then he smiled an indulgent smile.
Charity was fast asleep on the bed, still in her wedding gown. He roused her enough to get her into her nightgown, and then she promptly fell back asleep again.
She must be exhausted, Vidcund thought affectionately.
He changed into pajamas himself, curled up next to his wife as they had done so often, and sighed drowsily.
There’s no way I’ll ever be able to live this down, he thought sheepishly, but he smiled as he drifted off to sleep.
Two things awakened him. One was the bright morning sunlight streaming through the window. The second was an anguished moan from Charity.
“Vidcund... oh God! Vidcund! It’s time! The baby’s coming!”
Vidcund jumped out of bed. “It’s okay... don’t panic! I’m sure everything will be fine!” He wasn’t sure if he was speaking more to Charity or himself. This is it, he thought. Oh, God...I hope we're ready for this...
“This can’t happen now!” Charity sobbed. “It can’t!
Vidcund! The sunlight! What if the baby... Oh, God...what if the baby can’t...” she trailed off as another wave of pain washed over her. Breathing hard, she bent over and braced herself on her knees until it was over, then she looked up at Vidcund desperately.
“Please help my baby.” she whispered, her eyes wide and frightened. “Vidcund, I’m so afraid! I was praying I wouldn’t have the baby after the dawn came...”
She cried out again and Vidcund flew to her side, trying to calm and support her. He wasn’t inexperienced when it came to labor and delivery, but Charity’s coming baby remained an enigma that worried both of them and somehow made her pain that much worse.
“Charity, please calm down!” Vidcund begged. “Take it one step at a time, okay? Just concentrate on getting through the birth, now. There’s nothing that can be done about the sunlight, I’m sorry...”
“Vidcund, no! My baby...please, do something! We can’t let my baby die that way! You have to do something! You promised me! Damn you! You promised me!”
Vidcund pressed his forehead to Charity’s and held her face in his hands while they both cried. “I’m sorry...I’m so sorry, Charity!” was all he could say.
“Oh...God...” Charity cried, panting and laying back on the bed. “It’s coming now!”
She moaned as she gripped the bedcovers tightly in her fists and gave herself over to the birthing process. She really had no other choice. It was going to happen no matter what she did. Much as she desperately wanted to keep her baby safely inside her until sunset, she knew she could not, and she reached deep inside herself and found the power that all mothers possess... that unique ability that gives them the strength to face whatever they have to face for their children... because they must.
Vidcund steeled himself and prepared to assist with the delivery of the child.
He wanted it to be over quickly for Charity, although he knew nothing would be able to ease the pain she would feel to watch her baby burn to death in the light of the sun. All he could offer her was the comfort of his presence, his gentleness, and his prayers.
Within moments, although for the two of them it seemed time had slowed to a standstill, Vidcund was cradling a pale newborn in his arms and Charity was trying to trying to catch her breath. The infant lay quietly, unmoving, as Vidcund wiped away blood and fluid, and Charity braced herself to look... to see if...
“It’s a boy,” Vidcund said quietly. “and he...he’s...”
Charity shut her eyes painfully... dreading to hear, dreading to see...
“He’s fine.” Vidcund gasped.
Charity’s eyes flew open. “What?”
“Charity, I think he’s okay!” Vidcund cried in a voice strained with tears and relief. “The sunlight...it doesn’t seem to bother him! Look at him, Charity! Just look!”
Charity sat up and looked at her son. A faint dark fuzz over the baby’s head proclaimed he would have the ebony hair of his father, and the boy’s skin was as pallid as the grave. However, he lay comfortably in his stepfather’s arms in the wash of sunlight from the windows, and did not appear to be in any distress whatsoever.
Charity put her hand softly over the baby’s head. “Vidcund...the sunlight doesn’t affect him! Do you think this means that he...?”
“I think it’s a very good sign!” Vidcund cried with relief, snuggling the baby close and laughing. “Hey, little guy...are you ever going to open your eyes for us, huh? Don’t you want to see this big, bright, beautiful world out here?”
Almost as though he understood, the infant stirred and his eyes fluttered open. Charity and Vidcund both bent close to look.
“Vidcund... his eyes are green!” Charity breathed, her voice full of awe and wonder. “Oh my God... they’re green!”
Vidcund and Charity spent some time just staring at their pale, green-eyed new arrival. Charity kept touching the baby’s face in amazement. “I’m just so happy he’s not a...”
“Well,” Vidcund cautioned, “there’s still some things we don’t know yet, Charity.” He thought for a moment, cuddling the newborn. “You know, if you wouldn’t mind, we could all go down to the lab later today and run some tests on him. I think I might be able to tell just how deeply the vampirism runs in him... if you’d like.”
“All of us?” Charity quipped, grinning. “Since when have mere mortals such as myself been allowed into that laboratory?”
“I have a lot more say down there than I used to,” Vidcund said with a laugh. “And if you don’t believe me, you can ask an idiot in Research named Melvin.”
A soft knock sounded on the door. Vidcund gave the baby to Charity and opened it to find Lazlo standing there.
“Whoa!” Lazlo exclaimed, advancing into the room and gazing at the newborn in Charity’s arms. “When did this happen?”
“At dawn,” Charity murmured, kissing the baby’s forehead.
“Dawn, eh?” Lazlo said, looking over at Vidcund and grinning suggestively. “Guess that rumor was true, eh, bro?”
“Um... yeah,” Vidcund said, smiling. “Yeah, I guess it was...” No need to let him find out any differently, either.
“Boy or girl?” Lazlo asked Charity, touching the newborn’s hand with his forefinger. The baby immediately clung to Lazlo’s finger and Lazlo chuckled gently.
“It’s a boy.” Charity answered.
“Is he all right?”
“I think so,” Charity murmured. “Vidcund is going to run some tests on him later.”
“Well, the sunlight doesn’t seem to bother him, at least,” Lazlo stated. “I must admit, I was worried about that. I was really hoping you’d give birth at night.”
“So was I,” Charity replied. “I went into labor right at sunrise, and I thought I was going to lose him, I really did.”
Pascal and the children came in to see the baby then, and Pascal took the infant from Charity and examined him, as Vidcund had done. “I can’t believe it, Charity,” Pascal said, “he’s all right!” Pascal cuddled the baby with relief. “I was really worried he would --”
Just then, the baby started to wail.
“I think he’s hungry, Pascal,” Charity said reasonably, taking the baby from his step-uncle and settling down to feed him.
She began to bring him to her breast, but suddenly, she stopped and looked at her husband. “Vidcund, I just thought of something... do you think he drinks...?”
This is the next barrier to overcome, Vidcund thought, sighing. “There’s only one way to know, Charity, and that’s to try. When I run the tests, we should be able to tell if he has any, um, other nutritional requirements.”
“Right.” Charity whispered, and, with the rest of the household hovering nervously about, she resumed her attempt to coax the baby to suckle. The baby’s wails ceased abruptly and Charity smiled.
“He latched on,” Charity whispered with relief, stroking the baby’s downy forehead with her free hand. “Look at him go!” She continued to feed him until his bright green eyes grew heavy and finally closed with sleep. Then, gently and carefully, Charity carried him to his crib and lay him softly down.
“Sleep well, my little one...
My little Lucas, born in the light.”
To Be Continued…