A/N: This is the entirely fictional biography/full backstory of a character I created for my Fantasy Island stories on FanFiction, under my pen name of MagicSwede1965 on that site. Lilla Jordsö is a small island country that exists solely in my imagination (the name means "Little Earth Island"); its language is a variant on Swedish, much as American English is an offshoot of British English, so if there are any native Swedish-speakers who happen to read this, that's why it will look as if I've mangled your language. (smile) Thanks to a very special friend, Gordon, for his encouragement and enthusiasm. I hope all readers and reviewers will enjoy this story as it unfolds.
§ § § - November 30, 1957
"You are with child, Princess Susanna."
The words shocked the princess into silence. This couldn't be possible, she thought. She was forty years old, and Ulf was forty-two; they already had three children and needed no more. They'd agreed after young Arnulf was born that once they got a daughter, they'd stop. Anna-Laura was four now; both Ulf and Susanna had been content with their three children, all attractive and good-mannered, assets to the royal family. So what did they need with another baby? She must have paled, for the castle physician asked with concern, "Are you all right, Your Highness? May I get you anything?"
Susanna finally found her voice. "No, doctor, thank you…" She drew in a breath and stared pleadingly at him. "Are you very certain? It's not something else?"
"You show exactly the signs that you showed in your previous three pregnancies, Your Highness," the doctor said gently. "The blood test bears it out. This is why you have been so ill for the past two weeks. And now that you are forty, you must be especially careful that you are not debilitated by your condition." He paused a moment. It was no secret that Prince Arnulf and Princess Susanna had not wanted more children; it had been made plain to all and sundry that little Princess Anna-Laura was to be their last child. He found himself hoping that the prince and princess wouldn't come up with some scheme to try to lose the child. It wasn't unprecedented in jordiska history, unfortunately. "It is very risky for you to be with child at this time in your life, but you wouldn't be the first to have a child at such a late age. We shall take all the best care of you and the little one."
"Perhaps I don't want 'the little one'," Susanna said, frowning.
The doctor shifted his weight nervously. To hear Princess Susanna say such a thing was frightening indeed; she was known for her gentleness. "It's your decision," he said with great reluctance, "but it could be the greater risk for you to try to…" He stopped and shook his head, seeing the gleam of tears in Susanna's eyes. "The king will be delighted."
"The king is not the one who is bearing this baby," Susanna retorted. "Perhaps I'll not tell him of this…condition. Perhaps I'll not even tell Ulf. I will leave now." She swept out of the physician's quarters, on the main level in the south wing of the huge old castle, and strode at a brisk pace back to the family's living quarters in the north wing. Pregnant again. She stopped just short of the great entry and blinked back angry tears. She had been so upset that she hadn't even asked when this child was due to be born. To have a baby on her hands when her other children were so much older… Why, by the time this child was born, young Arnulf would be ten years old. Even Anna-Laura would be five by the time Susanna gave birth. She glanced behind her, shook her head and determinedly crossed the great entry. I don't want to know anything about this child, she thought. I don't even want the child at all. Perhaps I'll miscarry…
Then she stopped again, horrified at herself. The shock of finding out she was pregnant must have scrambled her mind. No, she wasn't happy about it, but now that it was a fact, she must see it through. And she couldn't get out of telling Ulf or his parents, for they all knew she had been unusually and frequently sick lately, and they would want to know why. Susanna gave a great sigh and continued into the hallway toward the suite she shared with Ulf. She knew the king and queen would be there waiting for word, and it was better just to get it over with.
Sure enough, Ulf's parents sat at leisure with him at the ornate old table in the living half of their suite, taking tea from a servant. Ulf sat up and brightened. "Susanna, my dear! What news? Did the physician give you medication?"
Susanna shook her head. "No medicine can cure this," she said a little bleakly. "Ulf, we are expecting another child."
Ulf went stock-still and gaped at her. King Lukas VI and Queen Julia looked at each other and brightened. "Another grandchild!" Julia said in delight. "This castle will ring with children's happy laughter for years to come yet. What wonderful news, Susanna."
"It's not wonderful at all, Mother," Ulf said, making Lukas and Julia both stare at him. "You both know perfectly well we meant to stop having children after Anna-Laura was born. What makes this good news?"
"Any baby is good news, son," Julia said gently. Her tone was one they had all heard before, and indeed were accustomed to hearing when she spoke to him. Lukas and Julia's only child was hardheaded, opinionated, and sometimes judgmental, and was much too quick to anger. It was just as well the children were docile and obedient, for Prince Arnulf was a stern, strict father who demanded royal protocol at all times. Susanna herself, though she loved her husband, sometimes thought that royalty had gone to Ulf's head from the moment he was old enough to understand he was a prince.
"Not this baby," Ulf said, scowling. "Can't something be done?"
Lukas was an easygoing, cheerful king, beloved by his people—but cross him, Susanna had learned early on, or rub him the wrong way, and his temper grew to epic proportions. Now the king got a dangerous glint in his eye and pinned his son with such a sharp glare that Ulf seemed to shrink slightly in his chair. "The only thing that will be 'done', Arnulf Henrik Justus Enstad, is to make certain Susanna receives all the necessary care she will need to see this pregnancy through. If you do anything whatsoever to hinder its progress, you can be assured that I will take action, regardless of whether you are my son. Am I very clear to you? I am still king and I intend to remain so for some time yet to come, so you had better think very carefully about your answer."
Ulf, put in his place, inclined his head at Lukas. "As you wish, Father."
Lukas nodded sharply once with satisfaction. "Very good. Now, Susanna, when can we expect the latest Enstad to arrive?"
Susanna looked sheepishly away. "I'm not certain, sire. I too was quite shocked to learn the true cause of my bouts of sickness, and I'm afraid I didn't wait to find out."
Lukas shook his head. "It's the way of nature," he said firmly. "Now that it's a fact and you two are to have a fourth child, you must accept it. And never forget that this baby deserves your love and attention as much as your older children do. Speaking of the older children…Jan, go and fetch them immediately. They are to be told at once."
"As you order, Your Majesty," the servant said with a bow and hurried out of the room. Lukas gestured toward a chair.
"Sit, Susanna, sit, have some tea. Perhaps it's ill-advised for you to be on your feet. Has the doctor said anything at all about special care?"
Susanna reddened. "I must return to his quarters," she murmured, abashed. "I didn't wait to receive advice or further information at all."
Julia shook her head. "Susanna, my dear," she said, "I realize you're old to be an expectant mother, but it's done now and there is no changing it. We will be certain the castle physician is available at all hours in case something happens. There will be no argument from you, Ulf, as your father has just told you. Losing the baby may cost you your wife, and I know very well you would be lost without Susanna. Ah…here are the children now."
"Hello, Grandmother and Grandfather," the three children chorused as the servant pulled the door closed behind them. The boys bowed and the little girl bobbed a perfect curtsy; Lukas laughed and held out his arms, and the two younger ones came for hugs. The oldest remained back, already following in his father's aloof footsteps at the advanced age of nine. This was Prince Arnulf Isak Felix Enstad, who would one day be king after his grandfather and his father; and he shared more with his father than his first name. They were quite similar in temperament and outlook, and the elder Arnulf—who usually went by Ulf, at least within the family—doted on his firstborn, sometimes to the detriment of his other children. Susanna tried to make up for it when she could.
"We have news for you," Lukas said jovially. "Susanna, do the honors."
Susanna looked at the children, glanced at a dark-faced Ulf and sighed gently. They would just have to make the best of it. "I'm going to have another baby."
Young Arnulf stared at her in surprise. "I thought you didn't want any more babies."
"We didn't," Ulf said shortly.
"But this baby is a welcome surprise," Julia said very firmly, giving her son a look that told him to keep quiet. "Never think it's anything else, Arnulf."
The younger boy—seven-year-old Prince Carl Johan Lukas Erik Enstad—suggested, "Maybe it will be a girl. Then we'll have the same number of boys and girls, and Anna-Laura can have a little sister to play with."
"Now that's a sensible attitude," Lukas said cheerfully, tousling the boy's dark hair. "An excellent thought, Carl Johan! What do you think of that, Susanna?"
Susanna stared at her younger son in amazement. Why hadn't that crossed her mind? It would be ideal if this child were another girl. Anna-Laura was the first daughter born since King Carl IV's sister, Princess Dorotea, in 1844. If they could have a second daughter, it would be wonderful news throughout the country. "Of course, Carl Johan, that would be very exciting, wouldn't it?" she asked, a smile blooming for the first time. The boy nodded, grinning at his mother.
Four-year-old Princess Anna-Laura Charlotta Enstad, a sweet-faced little girl with long dark-brown hair, clapped her hands from the shelter of her grandmother's lap. "A new baby will be so much fun!" she exclaimed. "I can help take care of it, can't I?"
"Of course you can, little one," Julia said, beaming at her granddaughter's enthusiasm. "You'll be a great help to your mother, and I know she'll be glad for it."
Susanna nodded. "That I shall. Think of it, Ulf, it will make the burden much easier to bear. All little girls love babies."
Ulf shrugged. "So be it," he said, resigned. "I can do nothing about it."
"Indeed you can't," Lukas agreed pointedly. "Well, now, and when your mother finds out when your new royal sibling is to join us, we can begin to prepare for that happy day. In the meantime…where is that Jan? It's nearly dinnertime."
‡ ‡ ‡
Within the week Susanna learned that she was due to give birth sometime during the last week of June, and was given vitamins, detailed instructions, and warnings in regard to caring for herself during her pregnancy. Julia and Anna-Laura made a project of collecting all the magazines and newspapers they could get hold of that contained announcements of Arnulf and Susanna's impending new arrival, and tucked them away in a shoebox that Julia kept hidden in the suite she shared with Lukas. Susanna grew intrigued by the idea that she might have a second girl, and even Ulf mellowed towards the pregnancy, mollified somewhat by the prospect of another daughter. He loved his three children, but needed no more sons: Arnulf was, of course, going to hold the throne one day, and Carl Johan had been a nice bonus. They were no longer living in an age in which half a dozen boys were needed to ensure the succession and the continuation of the family name.
But Julia was a little worried, and confided quietly to Lukas one evening just before Christmas, "My dearest, suppose they have a boy?"
Lukas smiled. "They'll deal with that too," he assured her. "I have no care whether the child is male or female. It's our grandchild."
"Of course," Julia said, troubled. "But they're so set on a girl, and nature may decide to spite them and give them another boy."
Lukas paused to regard her. "Do you suspect they might be less welcoming of a boy than a girl, then?" he asked.
Julia nodded. "That's exactly my thought. If they have another son, you and I may have to be prepared to step in. Ulf's attitude leaves far too much to be desired, and even Susanna herself is ambivalent. For the child's sake, I hope it's a girl."
§ § § - June 25, 1958
"Your Majesty, Your Highnesses? Our warmest congratulations. Princess Susanna has given birth to a fine, healthy boy."
The royal family grew silent with surprise. King Lukas—now widowed and still in the throes of grief for Julia, who had died of a broken neck after a fall from a horse three days after Carl Johan's eighth birthday in March—cast his son a quelling look, knowing full well what Ulf was likely to say. For the moment Ulf just looked shocked. Young Arnulf sighed loudly and rolled his eyes; Carl Johan and Anna-Laura looked at each other, both clearly wanting to be glad about the baby but unsure what to do in the face of their father's and brother's lack of enthusiasm.
Lukas realized then that Julia's words from December had been prophetic. Susanna had had a very hard pregnancy this time around, and the only thing that had kept her going was the hope that she was carrying a girl. She had been constantly in and out of the hospital due to repeated and sometimes violent vomiting episodes; she'd had to be treated five times for gestational anemia and dehydration; and since the beginning of April she had been confined to bed, so that Anna-Laura's fifth-birthday party late that month had to be held in the suite she shared with Ulf. He was glad to hear that his newest grandchild was healthy, and knew that the doctors here would bring Susanna back to optimal health. But what would be the fallout? The child had had the temerity to be born male, and something told Lukas that Ulf would never forgive him for it.
Lukas arose, taking advantage of Ulf's speechlessness. "That, my dear doctor, is very happy news," he said. "How is the princess?"
"She is asleep—very tired and drained from giving birth, Your Majesty, as you might expect. It is our recommendation that she be allowed to rest as long as possible; but if you wish, you may all see the baby." The doctor bowed.
"I won't," Ulf declared unexpectedly.
"Neither will I," Arnulf promptly seconded.
"You most certainly will, young Arnulf," Lukas contradicted, glaring at him. "If your father wishes to shortchange his newest son, that's his loss. But I refuse to allow you to treat your baby brother in the same way. You'll come with your brother and sister and me to see the baby and welcome him into the family." Startled by his grandfather's temper, which the children rarely saw, Arnulf gave in without a fuss.
"Whose children are these, then?" Ulf demanded, sitting up.
Lukas paused long enough to give him a blazing glare, even more furious than the one he'd aimed at his grandson. "If you choose to be stubborn, Arnulf, that's up to you. But as long as I draw breath, as long as I hold the throne, I will do my utmost to have whatever influence I can on my grandchildren, for you're far too stern and unyielding. Young Arnulf especially is in danger of turning out just like you, and that's not something to be proud of. I hope at least you'll find it in what little heart you have to forgive Susanna for bearing another boy." This last came out with such sarcasm that the doctor looked away in embarrassment, and Ulf subsided, though he was clearly very unhappy.
Carl Johan tried to smooth things over. "What should we name the baby?"
"Hjusa!" Ulf spat, shocking everyone within earshot. It was the worst curse there was in the jordiska language. "A name for that creature? Just call him Carl—it's quite good enough for him."
Lukas' glare somehow grew even hotter. "I will deal with you later," he promised, low and furious. "You can count on that. Would that I could skip you in the succession and give the throne directly to your son!" He waited just long enough to register Ulf's look of alarm and nodded sharply once. "Come, children, let's visit your new brother."
Anna-Laura slipped her hand into her grandfather's as the doctor led the king and the children back to the elevator. "Grandfather, we can't call the new baby Carl," she protested. "Carl Johan already has that name. And it's so common."
"She's right," Carl Johan agreed. "I learned in school about all our kings named Carl, and my teacher said that there are many boys named Carl after those kings. And it's true. There were two boys in my class named Carl and three more named Karl, with a K."
Young Arnulf grinned reluctantly. "I suppose lill'syster is right. There were four boys in my class with the name as well."
Lukas rolled his eyes and the children giggled. "Well, that will certainly never do. I know your father won't discuss the subject, so we must speak with your mother. I expect she'll have a much better suggestion."
"But the doctor said to let Mother rest as long as possible," Arnulf pointed out, glancing at the medico standing nearby in a polite silence. "It will be days and days before we can give the baby a proper name."
Lukas laughed. "I don't think your mother is that exhausted," he assured the boy. "As soon as she is able, we'll see her and find out what she thinks."
To their great surprise, when they reached the sixth floor where the maternity ward was located, they were met by a nurse who curtsied deep the moment she realized King Lukas was there. "Your Majesty," she said. "It's good that you and the children are here. Princess Susanna is awake and insists that she see all of you, and also the baby."
Lukas seized on this, shot the doctor a look that warned the man he would brook no argument, and nodded at the nurse. "That will be excellent," he said, seeing the chance to have the older children develop a bond with their new brother. "See to it that the infant is brought to Princess Susanna's room; we will be waiting there."
Lukas, with Anna-Laura's hand still in his, led the children to Susanna's hospital room behind the nurse, while the doctor went to bring back the half-hour-old baby. The nurse had been right; Susanna, though pale and looking utterly wrung-out, was awake, and she smiled happily at sight of her children and father-in-law. "Have you seen the baby?"
"They are bringing the child straightaway," Lukas assured her, "so that we can all meet him. Anna-Laura says we must find a good name."
"Him?" Susanna echoed, eyes widening, face sagging with despair. "It's a boy?"
Lukas nodded, watching her warily. Anna-Laura spoke right up: "Mother, when the doctor said it was a boy, Father said a very, very bad word and said we should just call him Carl. That's not right! We already have Carl Johan, and lots of boys are called Carl, and we don't need another one. Help us think of a better name, Mother, please!"
Susanna blinked at her only daughter, registered Lukas' cooling gaze, and seemed to get the message. "Of course. Herregud…Ulf actually said to name him Carl? Doesn't he remember that it's been the most popular boy's name in Lilla Jordsö since 1930?"
"I strongly suspect he does," Lukas said with particular meaning, and Susanna's blush lent her too-pale face some healthy color. "Well, Anna-Laura, since you said we need a better name, what do you think we should call him?"
Before Anna-Laura could speak, the doctor returned with a small bundle. "Princess Susanna, your new son," he announced, carefully settling the baby into Susanna's waiting arms. "All of us here wish to give our warmest felicitations to you, and welcome to our newest prince." He returned Susanna's acknowledging smile and bowed. "Please excuse me, I am sure you wish to be left in privacy." He quickly departed.
"Let's see the baby," Lukas said expectantly.
Susanna shifted the little bundle in her arms and lifted a corner of the soft cotton blanket away from the baby's face. For the first time they all got a look at the newest prince of Lilla Jordsö. The infant was asleep, eyes closed, mouth relaxed; his little round face was red but smooth-skinned, and there was a wispy whorl of black hair on the top of his head. Anna-Laura, too short to see, pleaded to get a look, and Lukas lifted her from the floor and very carefully settled her onto the bed. "Move gently, Anna-Laura, so that you don't jostle your mother too badly," he cautioned. Anna-Laura crawled toward Susanna and the baby with excruciating care that made Susanna chuckle.
"You can move a little more quickly than that, little one," she assured the girl. "Can you see your baby brother now?"
"He's all red," said Arnulf doubtfully. "Is he supposed to be so red?"
"Most new babies are quite red," Susanna said, still gazing at the infant's face. "You certainly were…you were much more red than this one, actually." Carl Johan cackled gleefully at that and poked his brother, who shot him a haughty, superior look.
"We have to give him a name, Mother," Anna-Laura insisted. "Father said Carl. Do we have to call him Carl?"
Susanna frowned deeply. "Only Carl," she muttered, shaking her head. "I knew he wasn't happy about this baby, but it's not the child's fault. I suppose, to keep him from becoming even angrier, we had better let the baby carry the name, but we should certainly add other names to it. Boys, what do you think?"
Arnulf shrugged. "I don't care," he said.
"I can't think of anything good," said Carl Johan. "We had lots of Eriks too, and we have a Lukas because that's Grandfather's name, and we can't call him Arnulf, or Henrik, or Isak, or Justus, or Felix, or…"
Lukas laughed aloud. "There'll be nothing left by the time you're finished, boy." Carl Johan grinned sheepishly at him.
"I know," Anna-Laura exclaimed, making the baby stir and wrinkle his tiny nose in his sleep. "Mother, let's name him Tobias, like in my book!" Anna-Laura had a favorite storybook about a boy who defeated a bear, a retelling of an obscure jordisk legend, which she still liked to have read to her each night before going to sleep. The boy in the legend was named Tobias, and she was quite enamored of him.
Susanna looked at her in surprise, then smiled. "That's a very good idea, Anna-Laura," she said warmly. "I don't think there's been a Tobias in the Enstad family since memory can recall. Yes, we'll give him the name Tobias…but somehow it sounds awkward. Tobias Carl. I don't know…" Her voice trailed off and her gaze lost focus as something came to mind, and the children looked at her curiously.
"Something, then, Susanna?" Lukas prompted.
When Susanna focused on him, her eyes had gone a little misty. "It seems a sign that I should have remembered him now," she murmured. "Sire, I don't believe I ever told you and madame, even before Ulf and I were married. I was not in fact my parents' only child. I had a younger brother, but he didn't live long. He was killed by polio when he was just fifteen months old. I want to give the baby his name, to honor him."
"What was his name?" Anna-Laura asked.
"Christian," said Susanna softly. "That will be your brother's name. Sire, I beg of you to call the doctor. This child will be Prince Christian Carl Tobias Enstad."
Lukas smiled. "A truly princely name. Well done, Susanna, and very good of you as well, Anna-Laura, to think of such good names. We haven't had a Christian in the family as far back as memory recalls, either. Let me find the doctor." He arose and left the room, while Susanna and the children gazed at tiny Prince Christian.