Rayne was a healing mage who specialized in midwife magic. She was known far and wide as the best midwife in the entire kingdom, but she lived in the remote village where her mother had been born.

Somehow the king's men still found her. They demanded she come with them and she obeyed, fearing that they would harm the other villagers if she refused. She needn't have feared; the King simply wanted her to watch over two of his wives that were with-child. They had both miscarried before and he wanted nothing to go wrong this time.

In her new room that night, Rayne sighed. If he had simply sent a letter, she would have come on her own.

For two months, she watched over the two women. Their due dates were close together, so she wouldn't have to wait too long in between. During that time, another wife had become pregnant as well, so Rayne's stay would have to be extended until the third gave birth.

It was the last month of the two wives' second trimesters that they were attacked. A rival country managed to make it to the capital city, and began ransacking the palace.

Rayne hid in a closet as the soldiers ran past, listening to crashes and screams outside. How long she was there, she never knew, but she did know what finally drove her out of the closet. The enemy had set fire to the palace and the smoke would have suffocated her if she hadn't opened the door.

Coughing, she opened the door and found the room beyond on fire. Her first thought was of the girls in her charge. Rayne ran into the hallway to find that on fire as well, but there was a clear enough path in the direction she wanted to go. She stopped only once as she ran; in the throne room, she found the king dead on the steps before his seat. All of his personal guards lay around him.

Finally, she reached the first wife's room. The woman lay on the bed, one arm draped over her belly, the other stretched out towards the door. The midwife ran to her and pressed her fingers into the neck and belly. The mother was dead, but the baby...

It was a rumor across the kingdom that the midwife Rayne could take a child from one womb and put it in another. Most people didn't believe it, thinking it too outrageous. Taking a child from one woman and putting it into another? What sort of fool would believe in that sort of thing?

Rayne's village benefitted from her powers. She could give barren wives the children they desperately craved, while ridding another of an unwanted burden without harming the child in any way. In this way she saved more children from abortions that she could count.

Normally Rayne put the essence of a baby in a special pouch to keep until it could be reinseminated but Rayne couldn't go back for it. There was only one place she could put it to keep it alive and safe.

She pressed both hands to the wife's belly and whispered the words. When she pulled her hands away, there was a ball of soft light in between them. After a moment of hesitation, Rayne thrust the light into her own body.

A wave of warmth spread over her, but that was the only part of the spell that Rayne could wait for. She had to make her way to the other wife to see if she was safe. As she walked out of the room, her body continued to feel fevered.

She passed a few more rooms and her belly began to feel full and then tight. She could only press a hand to it as she walked, feeling the slight swell that was already forming. Luckily, she had worn one of her more flowing nightgowns, but soon she would have to unbutton her overrobe.

Her belly continued to grow until she finally felt compelled to stop and rest. With both hands, she held her growing abdomen. Her uterus visibly shifted upwards and she felt her belly button pop beneath her fingers. It finally stopped when her fetus was seven months old.

For a moment, she stayed still. Inside her, the baby tried a few tentative kicks and flutters. Rayne smiled and rubbed back, trying to calm it, murmuring to it that they were both going to be ok.

Soon she had to move again and began to waddle her way down the hall. The second wife's room was near, if she could only reach it.

The sight inside was even more tragic than the first. This wife was still alive, but not for long. She saw Rayne and her new belly and nodded weakly. She managed to stay alive to see Rayne perform the ritual before giving a little sigh as her life gave way.

Rayne stared at the light in her hands. It was brighter than the first; it contained more than one baby. There were at least two, but Rayne had long suspected there might be three. It would certainly hinder her progress, but she had no other choice. Again, she thrust the light into her body.

She had not gone far when someone grabbed her; Rayne turned to see the third wife tugging at her elbow.

"We have to leave!" she cried, "The whole palace is coming down!"

Rayne nodded in agreement and tried to waddle after her, but by now her belly was growing just like it had the first time. The second wife's first baby was already formed and was being closely followed by the second. Her womb stretched beneath her hands. Anyone who glanced at her would have thought she looked full term.

"They are dead, aren't they?" the third wife asked quietly. She didn't wait for Rayne to nod before saying, "Give one to me, I will share the burden."

Rayne hesitated, but then pressed a hand to her belly. She called two babies forth and placed the light against the third wife's navel. Even as she did, the third triplet finished its growth and began wriggling violently in its new womb.

The third wife moaned, and her skinny belly began to bulge outwards. Both women cradled it as it grew, becoming taut and full against her gown. It shifted, her belly button popped out, and Rayne could feel the first baby tossing and turning as it grew bigger. Again.

She began to lead the other woman away, still helping her hold onto her belly as the second baby began to catch up to the first. Together, made their way to a secret passage that had been built for times like this. It stretched out under the city and all the way down near the docks. Hopefully there would be a ship there that they could escape on.

When they got there, there was a servant leaning against the wall. Her face was fatigued and sweaty, and with good reason.

"So the rumors are true," she said as she saw the women approach. "Now will you rid me of the little bastard?"

Rayne didn't bother correcting the maid. She was pregnant with twins. Rayne had refused to transfer the babies once; it was the maid's own fault she'd gotten pregnant and she hadn't asked nicely when she'd come to Rayne for help. Besides, she knew of no one who wanted children and couldn't have them, and she'd been trying to downplay her reputation.

There was no reason for it now.

The midwife sighed and beckoned the maid forward. When it was done, the maid bolted without so much as a thanks, leaving Rayne and the king's wife to fend for themselves. Rayne only shook her head and moved on.

*****

They managed to reach the docks safely. There was a boat there that had been missed by the siege, and they agreed to take the two pregnant women on board. They also agreed to find transportation to Rayne's village once they got to the next port.

Rayne didn't ask why they were treating them so kindly. One of the crewmen had recognized Rayne and the king's wife. There could be no doubt as to why both women were together, and why they were more pregnant looking than any other women any of the crew had ever seen.

Now both women stood on the deck, leaning on the side and looking out over the water. Inside the wife's belly, three children kicked and strained beneath her skin, calming only when she lifted a hand and stroked them. She had asked Rayne to magically help her original child catch up to its new triplet siblings; now all three of them were seven months formed and growing stronger each day together. Her belly was a wondrous orb on her still somewhat slim body.

It could not compare to Rayne's belly though. All four of her new babies were nearly nine months formed; the maid had been a month shy of full term. They were quiet right now, but Rayne knew that once she was hungry, they would start wriggling, just as they always did.

She turned and arm in arm with the king's wife, who was now pretending to be her sister, went down below to find something to eat.