The silence echoed hauntingly after the commotion only minutes before. Katina lay exhausted on blood-crusted sheets. The last of her energy spent, but her job done. The placenta a strange echo of the baby that had proceeded it. A baby she had still not heard cry. This could just not be happening; already four miscarriages, but this one she carried to term. It must be aright, it just had to be.
She raised a shaky hand. "Give me my baby." Though her hand was shaky her voice was strong.
There was tears in Tatiana's eyes, as she laid the baby in her arms. "I'm so sorry Katina, he won't last the night. Take this time, and say goodbye to your son." With that she drifted out of the room leaving Katina alone.
Holding her baby boy close, she let the tears flow, her boy the only witness of her weakness. "Hello my little Nathaniel, I have been a pretty crappy mom so far, I could not even deliver you into this world save." What was she doing, crying never solved anything. With more force then was required she wiped her eyes dry. She kissed his small, delicate head, "But I will be damned if I accept this, you will live. I will make sure of that." Rocking the baby in her arms she started to sing.
"Sleep, little dragonet, and fold your wings,-
Little yellow dragonet with moonbeam eyes;
Sleep to the singing of mother-dragon swinging-
Swinging the nest where her little one lies.
Away out yonder I see a star,-
Silvery star with a tinkling song;
To the soft dew falling I hear it calling-
Calling and tinkling the night along.
In through the window a moonbeam comes,-
Little gold moonbeam with misty wings;
All silently creeping, she asks, "Is he sleeping-
Sleeping and dreaming while mother sings?""
The struggled breathing of her little boy stopped, but she did not allow herself to stop.
"Up from the sea there floats the sob
Of the waves that are breaking upon the shore,
As though they were groaning in anguish, and moaning-
Bemoaning the ship that shall never come.
But sleep, little dragonet, and fold your wings,-
Little yellow dragonet with mournful eyes;
Am I not singing?-see, I am swinging-
Swinging the nest where my darling lies."
Laying the still body in the crib, she tucks Nathaniel dead body in. "Just wait my Darling, and I will come wake you soon."
She let the bloodied birthing robe hit the floor, walked to the dresser, and quickly pulled on a clean dressing gown. There was no time to waste.
Opening the door she sees Manuel crying on the floor. Kneeling on the floor before her husband, she takes his wet cheeks into her hands. "Don't give up my love, we have magic we can utilize." She brushes away the tears, "Our wedding present from Serbia."
Manuel jerks his head away, "You can't be serious! That bobble is nothing but that, we stand pure, without the tint of magic tainting the land. This country will never follow a king saved by magic!" Shaking his head sadly he lowered his voice, and pulled her to him. "Let him go. We can always try again."
She let herself take comfort in his embrace, but, she just couldn't try again. She had promised herself that this was the last time, and she had been so sure that everything was fine as she passed the third term with barely a fault. Nathanial was breathing when he came out. By the moons divine light he would be again. Steeling herself to betray his trust, she reached a hand (hidden in the action of their embrace) to the necklace around his neck. "I'm sorry Manuel." She ripped the key from him, as she broke his embrace. "I promised our son that I would try."
She dashed back into the room, and grabbed Nathaniel from his crib, cradling him to her breast. Turning, and finding the door blocked by Manuel, she spun on her heal, and headed for the secret passageway. She used her shoulder to push the rotating wall in. As soon as she was in, she quickly closed, and locked the wall, with the metal bar.
'Not even you will stop me husband' she thought as she ignored Manuel shouts. She ran blindly down the stairs, tripping as often as not, but not even that was enough to slow her flight. She had to get to the vault before Manuel alerted the guards to stop her.
When her hand on the wall met empty space, she dashed in the opening, halfway there. She passed another fork, and took the next one. She forced herself to slow, so she could count her steps. Twenty steps in, she stopped, and took a minute to collect herself. Then felt along the wall for the doorway that she knew was there. The seventh shove met with little resistance and light flowed in.
She peeked into the slot, the two guards looked at ease. She sent up a thank you to the goddess, she had beat the alarm. She pushed the passage door all the way open, and slid through. Walking up calmly to them, she nodded to them both.
They showed no reaction to her being here, they bowed, and stepped aside. "Mistress, congratulations."
She thanked them, and walked up to the vault. She merged Manuel's key with hers, and unlocked the vault with the now combined key. She closed the door behind her.
Slumping against the doors she breathed a sigh of relief. She had beat any warning to block her way. Grabbing a tiara off a nearby shelf, she arranged it into her red locks. A believable cover story, for why she was here. She could now turn her attention to the real reason she was here.
She used the key again in a small chest, and withdrew the glass container within. The magic potion that Serbia had gifted them at their wedding. Lifting it up she studied it, it did seem magical. A deep red broken periodically with odd burst of light as is swirled around in its bottle.
Felling that she would get caught in a trance if she stared at it much longer, she put the container between Nathaniel's blankets.
She gave a nod to the guards as she left, and locked the vault. She did not rush her steps, though her heart beat rapidly in her chest. Word could come at any second, and though she was a queen, it was in title only. They would follow their kings orders. but running would only bring suspicion, so she walked the corridor with all the confidence she could fake.
When she was sure she was out of sight, and hearing, she speed up. At the last bend she found the corridor completely deserted. The relief almost broke her, "Nothing will get in the way of us being together now." She whispered down to Nathanial. In minutes she had locked herself within the castle's library.
Knowing that she could work faster if she had both hands, she laid Nathanial on the seat by the fireplace. Continuing to the back of the room, she used the combined key to open the locked bookshelf.
Everything that was deemed to sensitive to be public knowledge, was locked behind the bars. Books from Romania's spies for example.
Her eyes roamed the bookshelf for a small leather-bound book, dyed a dark blue. She knew it was the one that contained Serbia spells. Finding it on the second shelf, she slipped it out from the two large books it was squished between.
She clutched the book to her chest, and sent a quick prayer above, if she did not find a spell in here that would help her son; all hope was lost.
Sitting down from across from her son, she cracked the book open to read. She had only finished skimming the first three pages when the banging on the doors started.
"Katina open this door, before I order it to be broken into!" Manuel shouted, his voice sounding hollow threw the door.
"Go Away!" She quickly walked to the bookshelf closest to the door; and started pulling down the books. Trying to be as quiet as she could, not wanting to alert the guards.
"You know I can't do that." After the first shelf was cleared, she tried to push the bookshelf onto the door, amazingly she found the strength to do so. It made a loud crash as it toppled to the ground before the door; blocking it.
Letting loose a laugh, she called out to her husband, and the guards "I would like to see you try forcing your way in now!" Going to the bookshelf on the other side of the room, she did the same with it. As the thud of a ram on the door started, the noise was doubled by bang the second bookshelf hitting the first bookcase. Confident that it would hold for quite some time, she went back to the task at hand; Saving her son.
She had read the first half of the notebook, when the sound creased "Finally..." She muttered, she almost winced at the cattiness she heard in her voice.
With the quietness of the library she was able to read much faster, and only a few had minutes passed, and she was about three quarters of the way through, when she was sure she had found what she was looking for, her heart almost skipped a beat. There in black and white was a strengthen spell. It would work, it had to. 'Now what do I need? An animal sacrifice?' "Oh fuck! How the hell am I going to get something like that in here?" Her eyes drifted to a fox throw cover, "That might work, I can substitute the potion for the animals blood to draw the symbols."
Tucking the book under her arm she went, and picked up Nathaniel, unwrapping him from the covers. Laying him naked onto the table in front of her, she grabbed the fox throw cover, and went through the preparations for the spell. She gently pushed Nathaniel's head to one side, and laid the stuffed fox head next to him, nose to nose. She then took the paw and placed it in Nathaniel's small hand. Taking a steadying breath she popped the cork from the bottle.
She had just started to draw, when the most unexpected happened; a squeeze to her posterior. It shocked her enough to jump to get away from the offending hand, and messing up the symbols she was drawing. Heart pounding in fear and rage she twirled around. Seeing an unfamiliar man, she did what came so easily when showing female rage to a man, she slapped him.