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A Labor of Love

Writers: Heather, Suzee
Date Posted: 11th November 2015

Characters: Demir, Rethisa, Allera
Description: Rethisa goes in to labor and Demir decides whether or not he'll be the father.
Location: Hidden Meadows
Date: month 2, day 27 of Turn 8

It was a little more than a sevenday past the due date the Amber
Hills' healers had given her when Rethisa finally went into labor. Of
course, she and Demir had kept the fact that she was "late" to
themselves, delivering later in the month just solidified the idea
that the baby could be and _was_ Demir's.

Allera had already helped her change into a clean, linen gown and had
propped her up in the bed with some extra pillows behind her back.

"Let's get these braids out." Allera murmured as her fingers began
making quick work of undoing Rethisa's platinum tresses.

"Oh, Al, that's just an old wives' tale." Rethisa hissed through a
contraction, her eyes squeezed shut.

"No, ma'am, my ma always said braided hair causes the baby to get
tangled up." The maid vowed as she finished with her mistress's hair,
leaving it flowing down her back.

The midwife cut in, "Things are looking just fine, milady. It will be
a little while yet."

"Can I get you anything?" Allera tenderly stroked Rethisa's hair away
from her face, reminding Rethisa of something her mother would have
done if she were alive.

"Water, please." She requested, licking her lips.

When the cup of water was placed in her hand, Rethisa looked up at
Allera, "Where is Demir?"

"I sent a messenger to let him know. I am sure he is on his way."

But he wasn't on his way, at least not at that moment. The months of
pretending in public had taken their toll and there were times he'd
wished it could be real. He'd wished the child were his and he could
actually feel the joy he was portraying to everyone around him. But
his older brother Kobias had known something wasn't quite right.

They'd always been close and so if there were anyone he could talk to
it would be his elder brother. But at this moment Kobias was traveling
away from Hidden Meadows. So, It didn't surprise the Holder when he
ended up at the Tannery anyway. There he saw the beautiful
half-finished saddle he'd commissioned from his brother for Snow
Maiden. His fingers ran over the beautiful tooling and he could only
imagine how beautiful it would be when it was finally finished. A
beautiful saddle for a beautiful woman.

He hung his head for a moment. He'd wanted that beautiful vision so
much that he hadn't really paid attention to the signs. He was still
in love and knew it. Even with the betrayal and how she'd trapped him
he loved her. Yet it was obvious she didn't love him. She needed him,
yes. But she didn't love him and he should have seen it. He leaned
against the saddle stand and he knew what he had to do. There was one
person in this relationship that bore no blame for what had happened.
So he walked out, mounted, and rode back to the main hold.

"How is she doing," he asked the midwife as he walked into the room.

The midwife turned to face Demir, making sure to keep her voice
pitched low so that Rethisa did not hear, "It will not be an easy
delivery, milord. Your wife has small hips, yes? We'll do our best to
help her through it."

By this point Rethisa's platinum hair was dampened by sweat and
clinging to her forehead and neck, which Allera kept dabbing with a
cold cloth. From what Rethisa had seen and heard about labor this was
moving incredibly slow in her opinion. She'd hoped she would be one of
those women who suddenly went into labor with a baby who was in a
hurry to get out.

Being a beastcrafter Demir knew some things about labor and delivery
so the midwife's comment and look threw an immediate warning into his
mind. He gave her a short nod and then stepped to the opposite side of
the bed from her maid and kneeling down took Rethisa's hand. This time
the look of concern in his eyes was genuine. "How are you feeling?
Then he turned his eyes to her maid. "How long has she been in labor?"

Rethisa didn't answer Demir, she merely squeezed her eyes shut as
another contraction hit.

"Since the wee hours of the morning, milord." Allera glanced at the
time piece on the mantle, "About eight hours now."

**Only eight hours?** Rethisa couldn't believe it, it felt as if she
had been in that bed all day.

Her grip on his hand was strong as he'd expected but he didn't flinch
or try to pull away. Instead he leaned in and kissed her temple.
"You're doing fine sweetheart," he said softly for her alone though
his heart was pounding. **I can't lose her, not this way.** He looked
up at the midwife. "Is there anything I can do? Anything you need?"

"No, milord." The midwife shook her head as she resumed her seat. "It
will be a few hours yet."

'Hours?" Rethisa whimpered. "I can't make it that long."

"Hush that talk now, milady." Allera scolded, dabbing Rethisa's
forehead again. "You walked all those miles in the snow before that
rider found you, didn't ya? It's just like putting one foot in front
of the other. You can do it."

Allera's words transported Rethisa back to those lonely hours,
trudging through the darkness, through the slushy snow and cold rain.
She remembered the fear that had threatened to consume her then as she
faced the possibility to dying alone out there, and then she
remembered the intense relief when the shadow of a dragon had flown by
over head. She still owed her life to that brownrider. If she could
endure that, if she could endure those Turns of Verlow, she could do
this, couldn't she?

"Yes, you're right." She gritted out, with a bit more determination in
her voice than before.

Demir's head snapped up to look at Allera. **Miles in the snow?** But
now was not the time. He realized there was very much he didn't know
about his wife and continued silence wasn't going to help him learn.
He lifted her hand to his lips and then set it back down as she curled
into another contraction

Even though things had been strained between them ever since their
wedding night, Rethisa did take some measure of comfort from Demir's
presence. It wasn't his child, after all, so he could have left her to
get through the labor and delivery on her own.

After what seemed like an interminable amount of time the midwife
finally looked up at Rethisa and said, "Alright, milady, you're as
ready as you're going to be to start pushing. On the next contraction
I need you to push, right before time I'll tell you to take a deep
breath, and then you'll hold it for the count of ten as you push.

Rethisa was so ready to get this over with that she eagerly nodded,
"Yes, yes, I understand."

By this time Demir had been told enough about the process by the
midwife that he moved to his position behind her to help support her
as she labored. "You can do this," he whispered and kissed her temple.

Everything in the room seemed to fade from her focus as Rethisa
watched the midwife's face, heeding her every instruction as she urged
her to push. She could hear nothing but the pounding of her own heart
in her ears. She felt nothing but the excruciating contractions that
continued to plague her.

After several minutes of this she heard, as if in a fog, a collective
gasp from those in the room as the midwife suddenly lifted a bloody
bundle in her arms. She watched as Allera left her side and took the
babe from the midwife's hands, and when she reappeared the tiny bundle
had been cleaned and swaddled in the small blanket that Rethisa
herself had knitted.

"Congratulations, milady, a girl."

Demir smiled and hugged Rethisa. Then craned his neck to see the
little bundle in her arms. Then he realized that somehow during the
long labor he'd changed. This little girl had no knowledge of her
origin and a protective urge caused him to speak. "What should we
name her," he asked softly.

"I don't know. She's so beautiful though." Rethisa said with tears
slipping down her cheeks. The babe's head was dusted with light blonde
hair that was sure to be platinum like her mother's. "What do you

He tried to catch Rethisa's eye to show he was completely serious as
he answered. "How about Mirresa?" By including part of his own name he
was claiming the little girl as surely as if he'd fathered her.

Rethisa's heart caught, and she looked up at Demir with surprise,
which only added to the happy tears she was crying, "I think that
sounds perfect."

Last updated on the November 15th 2015

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All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are © Anne McCaffrey 1967, 2013, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author. The Dragonriders of Pern© is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.