Genre: Romance, m-preg, au
Disclaimer: I do not own Arashi, only these words.
Summary: Jun is given in an arranged marriage to Lord Sakurai Sho. Against the odds, love blossoms.
A/N: I never meant for this to happen but this has now turned into my first chaptered fic. I have no idea where this is going or where it will end but you are welcome to come along for the ride.
Hellooo, I am posting early this week because it's my birthday today and I've just come home from an enormous dinner with lots of wine. I need to sleeeeeeep, but first, enjoy.
Previously: Ch 1, Ch 2, Ch 3, Ch 4, Ch 5, Ch 6, Ch 7, Ch 8, Ch 9, Ch 10, Ch 11, Ch 12, Ch 13, Ch 14,Ch 15,Ch 16 ,Ch 17
Sho was surprised to find that Jun was no longer abed when he woke. Jun had been quite restless during the previous night, obviously struggling to find a comfortable resting position so he had imagined that he would still be asleep beside him.
Jun's body had been placed under enormous strain over these last days, his pregnancy causing him to tire easily and sleep for large portions of the daylight hours. He was no longer fighting their urging for him to rest and not tire himself outdoors in the garden. Masaki had warned them of this when Jun's pregnancy had first been confirmed. It was most unusual for a male of his tender years to successfully carry his baby to full term and they had all been quite filled with nervous anticipation over the last week.
Wondering where his love had disappeared to at such an early time of day Sho climbed from his bed, intent upon dressing and seeking out his husband with immediacy.
"Masa, why do you stare at the window so?" Nino asked from their bed, only his head visible above his cosy nest of pillows.
"His Majesty's Healer should have made his presence felt by now. I fear that the inhospitable weather of recent days has delayed his arrival," Masaki replied with a frown.
Nino shifted his bulk slightly to ease his backache. At seven months into his pregnancy the twins already nearly overwhelmed his small frame and the muscles of his back were struggling to support the weight of their ever-growing bodies.
"Why do you worry so? You have delivered many infants without assistance in the past," Nino said as he slowly began to unravel himself from the blankets.
"Jun's case differs because of his age and the emotional turmoil he has experienced. It is nothing less than a miracle that he has so far retained his good health throughout this pregnancy.” Masaki replied worriedly.
Nino was instantly alert to a possible problem with his best friend and struggled to raise himself up from the bed.
Masaki instantly moved to calm him. “Kazu, do not distress yourself. Jun is in no immediate danger. We must just be on the alert for signs that his labour has begun.”
“But…” Nino wheezed.
Masaki sat beside Nino and pulled him into his arms, “My dearest, please do not upset yourself. You must rest also. You have our own children to think of.”
“Do you think that I could ever forget them when I am like this?” Nino replied, gesturing angrily at his swollen belly.
Further argument was forestalled by a knock at the door of their chamber.
When Masaki opened the door after making sure that Nino was decently covered by the bedlinens, he was surprised to see Sho standing before him with a wild look upon his face.
“Sho? Is something amiss?”
“When I awoke this morning Jun was no longer abed. He is nowhere to be found.”
“Perhaps he has decided to bathe early? He has found it most soothing recently for his muscle ache.”
“Masaki I am not a complete fool,” Sho replied angrily. “I have searched in all of the obvious places and still he remains hidden from view.”
“Calm yourself, my friend. We have perhaps been overzealous in our attentions towards him just lately. Our concerns have left him with little privacy. I am sure that he will reappear at the breakfast table. Pregnant people rarely miss a meal willingly.” Masaki appeared to have momentarily forgotten who was also present in the room.
“Are you implying that I eat too much? You think that I am enormously fat don’t you?” Nino spat angrily.
Sho decided to beat a hasty retreat and wait for Jun in the dining room as Nino’s angry voice followed him down the corridor.
Sho paced the room restlessly, starting at every noise in the corridor. His concern for Jun was making a cold sweat break out upon his brow.
Nino burst into the room, his eyes still ablaze with anger at the perceived slight that his husband had offered him earlier.
Masaki was trailing along behind his husband with a most contrite expression writ upon his face as he carried the special cushion that Nino had become accustomed to using when his back was particularly painful.
A hearty breakfast was set out upon the table but as yet sat untouched. Nino was unable to resist the lure of his favourite crumpets and graciously allowed Masaki to assist him to take his place at the table and pile his plate high with his preferred foodstuffs.
Sho, however, was in no mood to eat. “Masaki, I still have not yet laid eyes upon Jun this morning. What if he has fallen down somewhere and injured himself? Or perhaps he has collapsed?”
“Do not fret. I shall assist you in seeking out his whereabouts,” Masaki said, squeezing Nino’s shoulder supportively as his husband blanched at Sho’s words.
“I shall also help,” Nino said, struggling to rise from his seat.
Masaki and Sho exchanged a look over Nino’s head, worried that Nino would exceed the limits of his strength whilst searching for his dear friend.
“I think perhaps someone should wait here,” Sho suggested, much to Masaki’s great relief. “If Jun returns here it would be of great help if you could send a servant to seek us out so that we may call a halt to our searching.”
Nino grudgingly gave his approval to this plan and under Masaki’s urging continued to slowly partake of his morning meal.
Surprisingly, it was Masaki who found Jun in his hiding place and not Sho, who was searching outside the Manor with the garden staff.
A suite of rooms near to the nursery had been prepared for the delivery. One had been rendered completely spotless and emptied of all but the most essential of furniture and equipment and was to be utilized as the birthing room. The larger connecting room next door was to serve as bedroom and sitting room for Jun and the baby for the first weeks whilst Jun was recovering from the procedure. It also contained a comfortable armchair for Sho to utilize whilst Masaki and Nino assisted King Ohno's healer to undertake the operation to safely deliver Jun's child. It had certainly not been anticipated that the unseasonal fall of snow would cause Masaki to deliver the child with only Nino for assistance.
The bedroom had a bay window with a padded window seat that was partially obscured by the heavy velvet curtains. It was in the very corner where Jun was curled, almost entirely hidden by the window coverings.
He looked at Masaki with wide and frightened eyes, but did not speak. His breath came in shallow nervous gasps, as if he was barely able to contain his emotions.
Masaki settled himself beside Jun and they both looked out over the snow covered grounds as he waited for Jun to be ready to communicate with him. He knew by the way that Jun was holding himself that his suspicions were correct and that he was indeed experiencing the early stages of labour.
"It is a most beautiful day is it not?" Masaki asked softly.
Jun did not reply, biting his lower lip and tensing his body as he felt a pain that rippled across his whole lower half.
"We have been worried about you. Sho was most disturbed to wake and find you absent. At what time did the birthing pains commence?"
"H-how did you know?" Jun asked in confusion.
"I can tell just by looking at you that your child is determined to arrive today."
"It cannot be so...I am not prepared."
"My dear you do not have much choice in the matter. Once begun there is no turning back, and think of how happy you will be when you hold your child in your arms."
When Jun next spoke his voice sounded hollow, "If something goes wrong please ensure that my baby lives, even if I must die. My life is of little importance to Sho in comparison to having an heir to carry on his name."
"Jun, Sho loves you with every fibre of his being. How could he live without you by his side? You are every bit as important as the new life that you nurture. I will not allow anything disastrous to befall either you or your baby. I give you my word."
"I know that you cannot guarantee any such thing and I would not wish you to live with such guilt if proven wrong. It is important for me to know that if I do not survive you and Nino will help Sho to raise my son in the way I would have wished. He will be angry and saddened by his loss and I would not want my child to suffer because of it."
"Jun...I...I promise that it shall be so if the worst was to happen. But I am equally confident that all will be well," Masaki replied, finding it hard to speak around the lump in his throat.
"Thank you. I have been worrying about this recently and now you have set my mind at ease," Jun said appearing much calmer than before.
"Shall I find Sho and bring him to you?"
"I think that I would like to go downstairs if I may? The pangs are very far apart and if I remain here I am likely to dwell on what might possibly go wrong," Jun asked, hoping to delay matters for as long as possible.
"Of course, I think that it will be many hours before the time to deliver your child has arrived. There is no reason for things not to continue as usual until you feel the time is right to return here," Masaki replied, happy that Jun seemed more at ease after their talk, but worried by Jun's feeling of impending doom.
Nino was squirming nervously upon his seat. It seemed as if an unreasonable quantity of time had passed since Masaki and Sho had commenced their search for Jun when he had failed to make an appearance at the breakfast table.
Sho burst worriedly into the room after an unsuccessful search of the grounds nearest to the house. Considering the depth of the snow surrounding the building the possibility of Jun being out-of-doors was remote at best but he had needed to reassure himself that his beloved one was not lying stricken upon the ground somewhere.
A few moments later Masaki and Jun entered the room calmly, as if there was nothing amiss and as if the household had not been in complete uproar for the past hour searching for Sho’s wayward husband.
Sho and Nino both made to speak at the same moment, but a fierce look and a subtle shake of the head from Masaki quelled their voices as he guided Jun over to the chair nearest the fireplace.
“Sho, I think that perhaps we should partake of breakfast whilst it is still edible,” Masaki said, pointedly ignoring the look that Nino was sending his way.
“Oh, um, yes. I am most particularly hungry this morning,” Sho replied stiltedly as he took his place at the table.
Before they could settle themselves, Jun rose from his seat, blushing as he excused himself to go to the bathroom. Sho and Nino were fit to burst with curiosity and were pleased for the opportunity to speak with Masaki once he had taken his departure.
“Masaki, what is the meaning of this?” Nino hissed quietly, not wishing Jun to overhear.
“Why did neither Jun nor you offer any explanation of his absence?” Sho complained. “This is not acceptable behaviour.”
“Jun has gone into labour,” Masaki replied calmly as he took a piece of bacon onto his plate.
“What?” Nino squawked, his eyes becoming large.
“Why did he not tell me this rather than run away and hide from me?” Sho asked, his heart pounding loudly in his chest.
“Because it is the very early stages and his pains are infrequent. He does not wish for any fuss and I think that we should abide by his wishes,” Masaki said attempting to reach for a crumpet only to have the dish snatched away by his extremely angry husband.
“How can you sit there so calmly and tell us this?” Nino was embarrassed by the high pitched nervous squeak to his voice.
“Should he not be abed?” Sho asked.
“Please calm yourselves.” Masaki said, taking Nino’s hand into his and squeezing it gently. “If you make a fuss you will only make him anxious. I found him upstairs in the delivery suite and we spoke for quite a considerable amount of time. He is already nervous enough, and if you make a fuss over him, you will only worsen the situation.”
“Please do as I ask and allow him to cope with this in his own way. Rest assured, as the pains strengthen he will be more than happy to return upstairs but until then I would ask you to respect his wishes and behave as if everything is completely as usual.”
“But I am his husband and the father of this child; does he not think I have the right to know?” Sho was confused and afraid that in some way he had failed his husband.
“Nino and I will go upstairs for a time to ensure that the birthing suite is fully prepared and allow you two to be alone. I am sure that he will tell you in his own good time,” Masaki said as he placed his bacon on a slice of bread and taking that in one hand and Nino in the other, departed the room.
When Jun returned a few minutes later he was surprised at the absence of the other two. He had assumed that Masaki would have spoken on his labour pains and that Nino would have pounced on him upon his return. Instead Sho was sitting at the table calmly eating his breakfast and drinking a cup of tea.
“Would you care for anything my love?” Sho enquired politely.
“N-no, thank you, I am not hungry this morning.”
“Y-yes perhaps a little would be nice.”
As Jun picked up the delicate porcelain cup he stilled, holding his breath, seeming to be frozen in time as he felt another contraction tighten his belly.
Sho wished for nothing more than to scoop Jun into his arms and soothe him until the pain was gone, but he remembered Masaki's words well and pretended that he had noticed nothing amiss with his husband.
"Is the tea too hot for you, my kitten?" Sho asked hoping that Jun had not noticed that he was aware of the reason for his sudden pause.
Taking a deep breath, Jun summoned all of his courage and replied, “It is not the tea. Your son has merely decided that it is high time that he meets his Papa."
Sho was out of his seat in an instant, suddenly lost for words, kneeling at Jun's feet and pressing his lips to the back of his husband’s slightly trembling hand. "My love."
Jun swallowed visibly and blinked back tears as he softly replied, "I am equally excited and terrified at the prospect, but with you by my side I know that I will not lack for support."
"My most beloved one," Sho breathed as he stoked Jun's belly with the lightest of touches as if afraid of causing him further discomfort.
"I still have a very long way to go before we may hold our child, but I promise to do my utmost to ensure his safe arrival."
"What can I do to ease your pain?" Sho asked as he cupped Jun's face and searched his eyes for a sign of what was required of him.
"All I wish is be in good company until the time comes for me to venture upstairs to the birthing chamber."
Sho smiled and stiffened his spine; if Jun was being so brave then he must follow suit. "In that case drink your tea before it becomes too cool."
Jun smiled and nodded in return, feeling more relaxed in that moment than he had all day.
An hour later when Masaki and Nino retuned back downstairs Sho and Jun had removed themselves to the drawing room and were sitting comfortably together upon the love seat.
Nino's eyes were still slightly red from crying after he had burst into a flood of nervous tears as soon as they had begun to prepare the surgical instruments for the surgery.
It had taken all of Masaki's abilities to return his husband to a state of calm after allowing him to vent his fears and worries until he ran out of things to say. Masaki had simply held him tightly to his chest and run his hand across his back until his tears finally dried up.
Jun on the other hand was remarkably calm as he sat listening to Sho reading to him from a book of fairy tales that had been purchased for their baby.
As Nino moved to take a seat Jun tensed and clutched Sho's hand, gasping as another pain gripped him. Masaki held his husband back and firmly pressed him into the chair ignoring the fierce look he received from Nino in return. They had agreed between them to only attend to Jun upon his request apart from the regular examinations required to be performed by Masaki to gauge the progress of Jun's labour.
As Sho continued to read in a gentle voice Jun's head gradually drooped as he fell asleep on Sho's shoulder. The lack of sleep from the previous night was catching up with him at last. Sho placed the book down carefully so as to not disturb Jun's slumber. He smoothed his hand over Jun's soft locks of hair as Masaki moved forwards and ran his hands over Jun's belly.
Sho and Nino both looked at Masaki hopefully, but he shook his head in response. "It will be quite some time yet. I suggest that we have some luncheon and then Kazu should also try and sleep for a time."
Nino immediately bristled, but his complaint was once again cut off by his husband. "My dearest I know that you do not wish to leave Jun's side for even a moment, but it may still be some hours yet and I will need you to be fully alert when we deliver the infant."
Finding himself powerless to argue with this new, dominant version of his gentle husband Nino meekly agreed.
"Sho, I think that it is time to go to the delivery chambers," Jun said softly, finally surrendering to the pain.
It was nearing nightfall and they had all done their best to keep Jun distracted from the increasing frequency and severity of the contractions.
Nino had run through his entire repertoire of card tricks after awakening from his short sleep, taking over from Masaki. His husband had produced a harmonica out of one of his pockets and played a selection of cheerful tunes for Jun; not always completely in the right key but with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Sho had hovered protectively by his husband’s side, rubbing the base of Jun’s spine when he hissed with pain and allowing his hand to be squeezed tightly when a particularly bad contraction struck. Over the past few hours things had gradually worsened until Jun was possessed with the desire to lie down in the specially prepared bed. Nino and Masaki had already made their way upstairs, leaving Sho to assist Jun to join them at his own slow pace.
Sho wrapped his arm around Jun's waist and supported him with his other hand as they made their slow way towards the stairs. There was a nervous cough behind them and when they turned, the young kitchen maid who had assisted Jun when all were stricken with fever was standing there.
"Cherii, is there something amiss in the kitchens?” Jun asked drawing to a halt, ignoring Sho who was tugging impatiently upon his arm.
"No sir. I am sorry to disturb you at such a time, sir, but I have made this for the baby and I wanted you to have it. I meant to give it to you earlier, but Cook is ever so strict and I had to wait for a moment to slip away," she said as she proffered a messily wrapped parcel. "I am sorry if I am intruding upon a private moment with you and His Lordship," she added with a deep bow.
Sho frowned at her and looked as he was going to speak, but Jun cut off his words. He knew that his husband was still not fully aware of the close bond that he had formed with some of the staff during his absence. "Now is the perfect time," he said as he took the package and carefully unwrapped it, smiling for the first time all day as he saw what it contained.
It was a toy bear, sewn from scraps of soft velvet and it looked up at him with such an eager and cheerful expression stitched upon its face that Jun giggled at the sight, all pain momentarily forgotten.
"I am sorry that it is such a jumble of colours, but I didn't have enough fabric of any colour to make the whole thing," the girl said, shifting nervously from foot to foot as she awaited Jun's reaction.
Jun could barely contain his delight at the simple gift. To him, the bear was a perfect rainbow of cheer. The arms and legs were green and yellow, the body purple and red and his head was of bright blue with a neatly embroidered black nose, smiling mouth and two carefully stitched eyes that seemed to gaze back with a cheeky expression.
"It is absolutely perfect and I am sure that it will become our child's steadfast companion," Jun replied a moment before another contraction caused him to double over in pain, clutching tightly onto his husband for support.
With a squeak the girl bowed once again before turning and scuttling back downstairs, embarrassed to have interrupted such a moment of intimacy between Lord Sakurai and his husband.
Nino assisted Jun to change into a light nightshirt and helped him into bed. It was not yet time to move to the room set aside for the delivery even though Jun was beginning to suffer most severely from the contractions. As the pains increased in intensity Jun clutched a small brightly coloured bear as if seeking reassurance. Nino had no idea whence it had sprung from, but was pleased that it seemed to bring his friend comfort.
Sho hovered about the edge of the room unsure of how to handle Jun's pain wishing that he could take it onto himself, since he had become accustomed to coping with it after suffering many wounds and injuries of his own and roughly treating those of his comrades in battle over the years. But knowing that he was the cause of it made his stomach churn with a sickening feeling of guilt. He had always been aware that birthing was a painful and bloody process but he had not been mentally prepared to witness the suffering that Jun was enduring so bravely. His heart ached to see Jun suffer so and his own feelings of inadequacy threatened to overwhelm him.
As Jun silently writhed upon the bed with tears of pain leaking from the corners of his eyes Masaki checked his pulse. He was concerned by the fluctuations in its rhythm he had been feeling over the last few contractions.
Nino had already noticed Sho’s reluctance to approach Jun and decided that it was time that he did his part to offer Jun succour during the next contraction.
Sho was drawn out of his gloomy thoughts by Nino taking hold of his elbow and steering him to the far corner of the room.
“He needs you,” Nino said firmly. “You must not leave him to our care alone.”
“I cannot bear to see him suffer so and I do not know how I may be of any use.”
“And he cannot bear this suffering any longer without your support.”
Sho tiredly rubbed his hand across his eyes and replied softly “I fear that I am letting my kitten down once again.”
“Then do something to alter that. When you rode away to battle, you gifted him with a ring. And with that ring you left him an assurance that you would be by his side during every minute of his confinement. He treasures that ring and he treasures your love. Please do not abandon him now when his need is greatest.” Nino’s face had flushed as the words had spilled unbidden from his lips. He knew that he had overstepped the boundaries of propriety but his love for Jun outweighed all else.
Instead of losing his temper with Nino, Sho bowed respectfully towards him before pulling himself upright and walking over to Jun with a determined stride. He lay upon the bed next to Jun and wiped his sweat covered forehead with a damp cloth, pulling Jun’s tense body flush against his own as the next contraction made Jun groan and arch backwards as the pain gripped his body once again.
Seeing Nino's face suddenly blanch at the sounds of distress issuing from his friend, Masaki insisted that he take a seat in the armchair and consume a little water. As if by magic Masaki produced small honey cake from his pocket and insisted that Nino eat. After muttering a token protest Nino took the food and gratefully gulped it down; the room had been spinning around him before Masaki's timely intervention.
Whilst Nino rested and Masaki perched on the arm of the chair stroking his hair Sho continued to support Jun through his subsequent contractions.
Jun felt as if his body was being slowly and painfully rendered into two halves. The room became a blur and it seemed as if the others were speaking from a great distance. His world had become one of unrelenting pain and the only thing that anchored him to consciousness was the steadying touch of his husband. Sho held him firm, murmuring words of loving encouragement into his ear and wiping the sweat from his eyes.
Time had lost all meaning for Jun, he only knew that time had passed when he was gripped by the next contraction, barely able to rest before being gripped by the next.
When released from its grasp Jun spoke breathlessly, "Sho, I do not think that I can bear this pain for much longer. I am sorry..."
"My love, your courage puts me to shame. If I had only half your strength I should count myself to be a most fortunate man," Sho replied, pressing kisses to Jun's sweaty neck, noting with concern as he did so that Jun appeared to be developing a fever.
After Sho cast him a concerned look over Jun's shoulder Masaki came and once again checked Jun's pulse and palpated his abdomen causing Jun to whine weakly and try and shy away from his touch.
Masaki hummed soothingly as he brushed a stray lock of hair from Jun's eyes, checking his forehead for fever as he did so. An almost imperceptible frown crossed his face quickly replaced with a reassuring smile as he spoke. "Jun, would you like to meet your baby?"
Jun's eyes lost their exhausted glaze as he turned to face his husband. Sho smiled back at him with a proud and loving expression as Masaki continued, “The muscles in your belly have been sufficiently softened by the contractions. I think it best to perform the caesarean before you become too stressed from further labour pains."
"I think I would like that very much," Jun replied, his words ending in an agonized cry as the most powerful contraction yet ripped through his exhausted body.
They helped Jun from the bed and assisted him to move to the next room where Masaki bade him to drink the special elixir that had been prepared for this moment. Jun would sleep deeply enough and for just long enough to permit Masaki to safely deliver his baby and close the wound.
Sho cradled Jun in his arms and spoke softly to him as Masaki and Nino doubly ensured that everything they would require was safely at hand.
Jun felt the pain ebbing from his body as he was overtaken by lethargy, barely able to form words, but he still managed to murmur parting words of love to Sho. "I have loved you as well as I could. I am sorry if I failed you in any way."
"My love, no one could love better than you. You are my world and my reason for living and my love and admiration for you knows no limit. Be calm, my kitten for soon you shall hold the proof of that love within your arms."
Jun did not reply; he had already drifted away from consciousness.
Nino took Sho by the arm and quickly but gently guided him from the room. Sho barely seemed to even notice as he was pressed down into the armchair before Nino left him, closing the door to the other chamber firmly behind him.
Sho was insensible to his surroundings as Jun's parting words to him echoed repeatedly in his head. They had seemed like a final farewell rather than words of a brief parting.