venerdì 20 gennaio 2017

The Bloom Baby


Illustrated by us, FuriaAndMimma

Alana took slow deep breaths, willing the nausea in her stomach to subside.
It was, frankly, embarrassing. Hannibal had taken her for her second ultrasound, and she’d felt so ill afterwards he’d insisted on taking her home with him.
Now she was curled in his bed with a cool washcloth pressed to her forehead while he pottered around downstairs.
Hannibal had been livid when he’d discovered Alana hadn’t eaten all day, and no doubt he was going to rectify that.
The room finally stopped spinning and Alana blinked as her surroundings came into view. The deep blue walls perfectly complemented the silky cream sheets. It was restful.
As if he had some kind of sixth sense, Hannibal came in with a tray, sitting down gently beside Alana and taking her temperature with the back of his hand.
“How are you feeling?” He asked as Alana slowly sat up.
She smiled gingerly “A little better.”
“Do you think you could eat something?”
Alana nodded, and Hannibal put a bowl and spoon in her hand.
“Stewed apples and porridge. They’ll keep you going for a while.”
She smiled her thanks, picking at the meal. Hannibal watched her carefully.
“I’m sorry about all of this. I bet you never thought you’d have to nurse me when you agreed to be my donor.”
“I don’t have any regrets. It’s unlikely I will ever father a child of my own, so I’m pleased my genes will live on in some form.”
Alana looked down into her meal, wondering if Hannibal had any idea why she’d asked him. Did he really think all he was to her was a respected colleague? Could he really be blind to the fact she’d been in love with him for almost as long as she’d known him?
Her silence was palpable.
“Alana?” He reached out, resting his hand lightly on her thigh.
“I was just...thinking.” She replied softly, looking up at him. “I want this baby, and I know I can do this on my own.” Alana swallowed hard as she gathered her courage. “The thing is, I don’t know if I want to.”
Hannibal let the words hang, pressing his lips together thoughtfully. “What are you asking me Alana? Do you want me to take a more active role in this child’s life? Or is there something else you need from me...emotionally perhaps?”
He’d long suspected Alana had a crush, but he’d never thought it would amount to anything. After all, they were colleagues and friends, which was more than he’d thought Alana would be willing to risk.
Of course she always surprised Hannibal, and no doubt he was a stabilising force at this time when her body was in flux.
Alana didn’t answer immediately. Calmly she set aside the empty bowl, her fingers grazing gingerly against his at first, until they interlocked. It was then she met Hannibal’s gaze, pure adoration in her eyes.
Hannibal brushed her hair back, cradling the side of her face as he leaned in and kissed her, patience and warmth radiating from his lips.
As he tried to withdraw, to drink in her perfect features, Alana’s mouth chased him. She was in no state to indulge her body’s carnal desires, but she liked kissing Hannibal.
Finally they parted for air. Alana’s cheeks were flushed, her breaths coming in short puffs, but Hannibal, at least externally, was calm as ever.
“We need to talk about this.” Hannibal said smoothly, though he didn’t let go of Alana’s hand. “You’ve always been independent. I wouldn’t dream of compromising that.”
Alana brought their joined hands to her racing heart. “If you only knew how I’d longed for this…” She trailed off, cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “You could never compromise my independence, Hannibal. I know you respect me too much to undermine who I am.” Finally, she looked him in the eye “If anyone would be at a disadvantage it’d be you. Saddled with a pregnant wife and soon enough an unasked for baby.”
As Alana realised what she’d said, she looked away, hoping Hannibal hadn’t noticed.
A joyous smile formed on his features and he drew her face back to look at him. “Do you want to be my wife, Alana?”
She didn’t answer straight away, humiliated that the feelings she had concealed for so long were being exposed so thoroughly. “Yes.” She whispered, as a tear rolled down her cheek.
Alana expected rejection, amusement, mocking.
Hannibal did nothing of the sort. He pulled her to him, kissing her tenderly until her tears abated. “Wait here.” He said, leaving the room.
Alana sat in shock, too stunned to be curious about Hannibal’s brief but notable absence.
He returned after only a few minutes, a ring box in his hand.
Alana backed up against the headboard when she saw it, going pale and feeling ill as Hannibal kneeled down in front of her.
As Hannibal opened the box, she saw nestled inside a brilliant sapphire ring, surrounded with diamonds.
“It belonged to my mother. It would have gone to Mischa.” Hannibal explained.
He took the ring from the box and took Alana’s hand. “Will you marry me, Alana?”
Alana could only nod, and burst into tears as Hannibal slipped the ring onto her finger.
“Now, now, Alana. No tears.” He got up and settled back on the edge of the bed, crushing Alana against his chest.

“I’m sorry, it’s just the hormones.” That was a lie, partly anyway. But she didn’t want to admit how moved she was.
Hannibal nudged her over so he could spoon up behind her. “Now we will be as we always should have been.” He murmured softly into her ear, tucking a curl of hair behind it.
Alana closed her eyes. She had never felt so happy, so safe as she did in Hannibal’s arms.
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