Actions

Work Header

watch the queen conquer

Chapter Text

            “Why can’t we just do it normally?” Lena grumbled into the phone, the hospital gown doing nothing to stop the chill of the tiled room, her skin rippling with goosebumps.

 

            “Because we both need an heir,” Kara exasperatedly replied, a few rooms over in an identical gown.

 

            Making a small sound of protest, Lena frowned slightly, “ you need an heir. I’m not inheriting any thrones, so technically, this is all on you.”

 

            Her laughter reaching Lena through the phone, Kara let out an amused sigh, “come on, you can’t say you wouldn’t like a kid that’s half you. Besides, King Alexander doesn’t have an heir yet, which leaves you next in line. What if he dies a lonely old man? Our little princess could be the future of both of our lines, which means it needs to have Luthor blood.”

 

            “Technically I gave up my claim to the throne to marry you, and well, Lex should get a move on then, shouldn’t he?” Lena prudently replied.

 

            “Well yes, but they’ll rope you back in if they need you. And are you going to back out now? I never took you for a coward, Your Highness. How about we make a wager?”

 

            “Are you goading me into giving up my eggs?” Lena laughed.

 

            She felt a nervous flutter in her stomach at Kara’s warm laugh, her heart filled with love, despite the slightly nauseous feeling. They’d decided to have their DNA combined to ensure the survival of both of their bloodlines, at Kara’s insistence, which meant that their future daughter could inherit either throne. Lena had tried to coerce her into just using a sperm donor, but Kara had been worried about the logistics of their child inheriting titles and thrones with ties to just one royal house - Lena tried to reassure her with the fact that she was a bastard and was still a princess - and Lena had slowly been brought around to the idea of a baby girl that was half her and half Kara. A part of it was her own vanity, thinking about having a child that was a little bit of her, but she could also see the logic in Kara’s reasoning, and it would leave no qualms about inheritance of thrones if something happened to her brother.

 

            “No, I wouldn’t feel right doing that,” Kara sighed, “and you know I’d be okay with you not doing it.”

 

            “Well I’m already wearing the stupid gown now,” Lena muttered, the stiff fabric crinkling as she ran a hand over it.

 

            A part of her was terrified - not just at the procedure, but at becoming a parent in general - and she was just relieved that carrying their child was something that Kara wanted to do. It made the prospect a little more bearable with the weight of giving birth lifted off Lena’s shoulders, but she couldn’t deny the fact that she had never been one to favour the idea of motherhood. Still, she’d known the day would come - maybe not at the end of her second year of marriage, but she’d known it would come regardless - and so, here she was, about to have her eggs harvested so their DNA could be put through some complex, relatively new and rarely tried procedure so that they could have a beautiful daughter without the interference of a third party.

 

            “It’ll be quick,” Kara assured her, and then the muffled sound of someone talking drifted through the phone, and she was back a moment later, sounding a little breathless, “okay the doctor’s here. I have to go. Just … try not to think about what they’re doing, okay? I’ll see you afterwards. I love you.”

 

            Lena wanted to let out a hysterical laugh at the prospect of trying not to think about the procedure, an amused look on her face as she shook her head. “Good luck. Try not to worry about it, okay? It doesn’t matter if … well, we’ll get there. I love you too.”

 

            Hanging up, she let out a shaky breath, running a hand through her curls and worrying at her perfectly painted red lips with her teeth as she waited for her own doctor to come and perform the exact same procedure on her.

 

---

 

            “It was difficult, given the circumstances, but we got some viable eggs,” the doctor said, and Kara let out a sigh of relief, feeling a little woozy from the drugs. It hadn’t hurt, but she felt a bit uncomfortable as she sat in her own clothes, listening to her doctor report the success of the procedure. “Once we’ve fertilised your egg with Her Highness’ then we’ll implant it and hopefully have an heir on its way. We’ll give you a course of drugs to help with your condition, and keep our fingers crossed that the procedure works.”

 

            “Thank you,” Kara murmured, her stomach twisting with nerves.

 

            She knew she wasn’t the best option for carrying their child - as soon as they’d decided to get a headstart on parenthood, with the multiple tests and exams it hadn’t taken long for them to find cysts - but Kara knew that Lena didn’t want to carry their child. So she would try and carry it anyway. The thought of having a daughter was enough to motivate her to try at least, and the knowledge that it didn’t always work the first time anyway gave her a reminder not to worry straight away. It was still possible for her to get pregnant, but it just might take a little longer. Viable eggs was a good sign though.

 

            Her own procedure had been a little longer than Lena’s, despite it starting first, and a few minutes later, Kara was leaving the room, her retinue of guards all standing to attention at the appearance of their Queen. Closing in around her, they walked down the hallway, where Lena’s own personal guards were waiting, and a few moments later she appeared as well, looking pale and mildly alarmed, and Kara immediately reached out for her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.

 

            “They said it would be like a visit to the gynecologist,” Lena hissed, and Kara had to stifle a laugh.

 

            Raising their entwined hands, Kara kissed the back of it, a small smile on her lips, “well, that’s the worst of it over for you.”

 

            “How was it?” Lena asked in a hushed tone, “we shouldn’t have both had it done on the same day. I should’ve had mine done next time so I could look after you.”

 

            “I’m fine, Lena,” Kara quietly assured her as they walked down the deserted hallway. The whole building had been shut down for the two royals, with only the staff present for the time being, and Kara gave them all polite smiles as she took in the wide eyed look of them. “The sooner this is all over with, the sooner we’ll have a little princess.”

 

            “That’s not a terrifying thought at all,” Lena muttered.

 

            Letting out a quiet sigh, Kara gave her a pointed look, “if you don’t want a baby then just say so.”

 

            A small flicker of guilt crossed Lena’s face and she rolled her eyes at Kara, “don’t jump to conclusions, darling. I didn’t say I didn’t want kids, but the thought of having them is mildly frightening, to say the least.”

 

            Laughing, Kara gave her hand another quick squeeze and walked out into the waiting room, where Alex and Sam both rose to their feet, alongside Eliza and Astra a few seats down. They’d all insisted on coming, and Kara gave them a small reassuring smile as they walked towards them, ignoring the slight curtsies that she still despised after all these years. Lena was all business, and with a few curt words, she was guiding Kara out into the mild day, and the door to their car was being pulled open. A few journalists and photographers were milling around, and they burst into a flurry of mingling voices as they scrambled to ask questions, momentarily blinding them with camera flashes, before they were safely shut into the dark interior of their car, Alex and Sam across from them. Feeling drained from the procedure, neither of them said much, sitting on opposite sides of the car, their heads resting against the windows, and let themselves be taken back to the palace.

 

            The drive passed by in a blur, and soon enough they were passing through the towering gates of the palace, and a detachment of guards were waiting, ushering them up the front steps and through the massive front door. The comforting feeling of home washed over them as they stepped into the entryway of the lavish palace, the reds and blues of Krypton’s colours, and the burnished yellow of buttery gold a soothing sight after the sterile whitewashed rooms of the doctor’s clinic. Even better was their sprawling suite and silk pyjamas, both of them laying side by side on their massive bed, cups of tea in fine china and jam and cream spread on scones as they were waited on by their staff, everyone tiptoeing around them as if they were made of fragile glass.

 

            “What if it doesn’t work?” Kara hesitantly asked after a long stretch of silence, both of them watching the muffled news as they relaxed.

 

            Turning to face her, Lena gently brushed a blonde lock of hair out of Kara’s face, softly kissing her on the forehead, and giving her a wry smile. “They got twenty of those little buggers out of me; it’s going to work.”

 

            “Do you want it to work?”

 

            “Have I ever been in the business of not getting what I want?”

 

            “Well, you never wanted me. Not in the beginning.”

 

            Laughing, Lena arched an eyebrow and gave her a slight smirk, “and much like the idea of becoming a mother, you grew on me. Now, eat your scones and stop worrying before there’s even anything to worry about.”

 

            Grimacing, Kara took a small bite of her scone, her stomach roiling with nerves and curbing her appetite, and she solemnly nodded. “You’re right,” she agreed, tilting her head to the side so that it was resting on Lena’s shoulder. “Well, almost.”

 

            Making a small sound of discontent at the thought of being wrong, Lena turned her head and peered down at Kara as best as she could, her forehead furrowed slightly. “Oh?”

 

            “We’ve got that state dinner tomorrow.”

 

            Groaning, Lena tipped her head back against the pillows and scowled, “fuck. Thanks for reminding me. Do I have to go? I’m only the Princess, and only by marriage, so it doesn’t even involve me.”

 

            “Hey, if I have to go, we’re all going,” Kara laughed.

 

            “You bloody tyrant Queen,” Lena laughed, smiling as she took a sip of her tea.

 

            “You can’t possibly think I would suffer through one of those stuffy dinners alone,” Kara scoffed.

 

            “It sounds positively dreadful, dear.”

 

            Laughing at the seriousness of Lena’s tone, Kara turned her head and pressed a kiss to Lena’s shoulder, a content smile playing on her lips as she lay beside her wife. It had been a peaceful two years, filled with meetings and charity work, signing endless stacks of official documents and hosting events, making appearances and travelling the world, and every moment had been perfect. They’d had their struggles, of course, and getting used to married life as royals had been a challenge, largely steered by the fact that their history hadn’t exactly been a smooth path up to it. It had all been quite rushed if they were being honest, what with most of their dating being a front for the contract their parents had signed on their behalf, but it had all worked out perfectly in the end. The next logical step was, of course, having children. It hadn’t exactly been subtly hinted at, and both Kara and Lena felt the pressure of the need to have an heir, and with a grand total of three years together under their belts - three years of them together without the addition of the contractual obligations - they had decided that they should bite the bullet and get on with it.

 

            And here they were, maybe rushing into it a little sooner than a normal couple would’ve, but doing their duty nonetheless, and Kara couldn’t stop the nervous excitement stirring inside her at the thought of the palace filled with the sounds of footsteps and childish shouts. They’d already survived an arranged marriage contract, months of fake dating, assassination attempts and numerous other dramas, how hard could pregnancy and motherhood be? Cuddling up next to Lena, Kara let her thoughts get swept up into ideas of baby names and nursery designs, the kinds of clothes she’d dress their baby in and which languages and hobbies they’d teach her. It was a nice dream, and she couldn't help but get ahead of herself. First things first, she needed to get herself pregnant.

Chapter Text

            It was a balmy early summer day, the palace gardens flowering and perfuming the air with the smell of roses as Kara and Lena sat around a small table set up for them. Alex and Sam had also joined them, the four of them drinking tea in the warmth of the sunlight, finger sandwiches and berry tarts on tiered stands and pots of tea in fine china as they relaxed. Well, somewhat relaxed, because Kara was a bundle of nerves, taking tiny bits of the tuna and cucumber sandwich on her plate, her appetite all but gone as her stomach tied itself into knots. Lena’s hand on her arm made her jump slightly, breaking her out of her thoughts, and Kara gave her a sunny smile, hoping it was believable as reached for her teacup and saucer.

 

            “So how many do you think they’re going to place in?” Alex asked.

 

            “Two,” Kara said, “I’m young so apparently it’s got a higher chance of working. Imagine putting five in and we end up with a whole polo team on the first go. I think Lena would drown herself in the lake.”

 

            They all laughed, and Lena gave her a reproving look, one eyebrow arched as she smiled around the rim of her own cup of tea. “Your words, darling.”

 

            “Well I can’t imagine having five babies inside of you would be fun ,” Sam laughed, “God, having one was bad enough. Ah, I mean, well, I guess you can make your own mind up about it. And at least, you know, you’re married and not sixteen. That probably helps.”

 

            “You make motherhood look so easy ,” Lena said, giving her friend an appraising look, “I still don’t know how you did it, but I’ll be taking tips if you have any to offer.”

 

            “I’m not even pregnant yet,” Kara mumbled, the twisting feeling in her stomach growing stronger as she felt her insides tie themselves into knots.

 

            They’d waited four days since they’d had their eggs extracted, giving the embryologist the time to combine their DNA and choose the best embryos, and tomorrow, on the fifth day, Kara was having them implanted. Just two, so the risk of multiple births was lower, but the chances of getting pregnant just a little bit higher. Of course, it would’ve been even higher if they’d had five implanted, but their doctor had advised them against it, assuring them that with Kara’s age, two would suffice. There was still the high chance that it wouldn’t work, but with two, it was a safer bet, and if both embryos implanted, then they were in for a shock with two little princesses straight off the bat.

 

            Reaching for her hand, Lena picked it up and gave it a gentle squeeze, running her thumb across the bumps of Kara’s knuckles as she gave her a soft smile, “well, we’ll get there.”

 

            “Right,” Kara said, giving her a tense smile.

 

            Glancing at Alex, who was smiling, filled with happiness at the prospect of her sister having a baby, Kara realised that it didn’t quite reach her eyes. She hated the thought of Alex being upset about it, and would just as happily have not divulged the information about her and Lena’s pregnancy plans, but Alex had been supportive every step of the way, aside from a hesitant enquiry as to whether Kara was sure that her and Lena were ready for kids. Kara just wished that her own sister had better fortune, and couldn’t help but feel sad at the fact that her sister was recently single and heartbroken. After everything she had been through with Maggie, kids had been the one thing that had gotten in the way - not their engagement, which they’d promptly broken off, or the fact that Maggie was in the spotlight non-stop thanks to her proximity to Kara, but the thought of kids - and Kara was mad. She’d pulled strings and gone out of her way to make Maggie titled and more suitable for Alex, for the benefit of others rather than her own opinion of their relationship, and Maggie had saved her life, which meant that, really, she couldn’t be mad.

 

            Still, Kara couldn’t help but feel nervous for tomorrow, regardless of who was or wasn’t having kids, and knew that she wouldn’t fully be able to relax until she found out the results in a few weeks’ time. The only thing she could do for the time being was try and relax, and not get herself too caught up in the whole thing. Of course she had her hopes up - it was only natural - but a small voice at the back of her mind was telling her to be cautious. Having everything riding on her getting pregnant, with the complications of her polycystic ovaries, was a lot of pressure, and Kara had willingly put it onto herself, wanting the chance to carry her own child if she could. Her highly publicised life was going to add more stress though, and the thought of reporters and photographers invading this very personal experience for her was already making her feel even more anxious at the thought of trying to get pregnant. The press hadn’t caught wind of the reason for their trips to the doctor’s office - there were hundreds of reasons, health and charity wise, so they were safe for the time being - but she knew that soon enough, whether by announcement of a pregnancy or an inside source with a loose tongue, they would find out, and they’d be hounding her and Lena for details. It was an unprecedented circumstance for any royals, what with them both being women, and the press would have a field day with the news, which meant that if Lena could have it her way, their daughter would be in high school before anyone even found out she existed. Kara would just be grateful for a child, no matter what the circumstances.

 

            For now, the warm breeze and soothing tea was enough to calm her wild thoughts, and she settled back into her chair, picking up her sandwich and taking dainty bites as she looked out at the lake, watching the lily pads and leaves drift across the glassy surface of the dark water, feeling completely content in her home. It had been a while since she’d had anything overwhelmingly stressful to cope with, and as she’d settled into her crown and life of marriage, everything had seemed to mellow out. Telling herself that she would be content to wait until she fell pregnant, no matter how long it took, Kara listened to Sam talk about her upcoming return to the Thorul, and Lena made a snarky comment about her brother and mother, before letting the conversation carry onwards towards talk of Alex’s trip to Germany. Letting the comment slide, Kara was silent about her sister’s comings and goings, travelling the world alone as she tried to get over her heartbreak. A small part of her was glad that she was doing something though, because the first few weeks had been rough, and Kara hated to see Alex in such a dark place. With a quick idea and a casual shrug, she suggested that Alex accompany Sam to Thorul and play the part of ambassador for Krypton, making it seem like their countries were closer than ever. It would mean that someone could keep an eye on her sister, and she saw the conspiratorial glance between Lena and Sam, quickly cottoning on to her idea and wholeheartedly agreeing.

 

            Reaching down to ruffle the fur of the massive Irish Wolfhound laying at their feet, now fully grown and more like a very hairy horse than a dog, Lena gave Kara a small smile, and Kara wrinkled her nose slightly as she gave Lena a loving look, her blue eyes crinkling at the corners. It was a reassuring smile, and Kara knew that everything would work out in the end. Not just for herself and Lena, but Alex too, and Sam. She felt sure that the four of them would find whatever it was they were looking for, and they would help each other through it. For now, tea and raspberry tarts were a good start to help chase away their problems.

 

---

 

            “Are you okay?” Kara murmured, coming up behind Lena and wrapping her arms around her waist, resting her chin on the short woman’s shoulder.

 

            “Mm, just thinking,” Lena quietly replied, staring out into the night, the streetlights breaking up the darkness, while the sounds of the city drifted in through the open window with the slight breeze. There was a quiet air about the night, the sluggishness of summer making the city sleepy, and if Kara listened closely, she could hear the quiet hum of crickets in the sprawling gardens below.

 

            Turning her head to the side slightly, Kara hummed, pressing a gentle kiss to Lena’s cheek, “what about?”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Lena turned around in Kara’s embrace, wrapping her arms around her neck and staring up at her with a smile playing on her lips. “Someone’s full of questions tonight. If you must know, I was thinking about you. About tomorrow. It’s all happening so fast.”

 

            Resting her forehead against Lena’s, Kara laughed, “last chance to back out.”

 

            Stealing a quick kiss, Lena wrinkled her nose, “if I was going to back out, I would’ve done it before I had to suffer through someone stealing my eggs from me.”

 

            “Hey, you’re just lucky you don’t have someone putting them back ,” Kara grumbled.

 

            Laughing, Lena broke out of her embrace and shut the window, before taking Kara by the hand and pulling her onto the bed. It was late, and the warmth was almost suffocating, and Lena quickly turned on the air conditioning, both of them grateful for the cool air blowing out of the vents as she leant back against the pillows, Kara’s arm instinctively going around Lena’s shoulder and pulling her close to her side. Eyes closed, she breathed slowly, her mind immediately turning to the procedure tomorrow, wondering whether or not it would work, and whether or not she could bear patiently waiting two weeks before taking a test. At the gentle feeling of warm fingers caressing the strip of tanned skin between the silk shirt and shorts pyjamas she wore, Kara’s eyes flew open, locking onto the pale fingers tenderly stroking her stomach.

 

            “It’ll be worth it, right?” Lena asked, her voice sounding small in the stillness of the room. “You’re okay with doing this because it’s what you want to do, not because you have to have an heir.”

 

            Picking up the hand tickling her stomach, Kara brought it up to her lips, pressing a soft kiss to Lena’s curled fingers, and giving her a loving smile as a pair of green eyes peered up at her, filled with concern. She almost laughed at the idea of her going through with this for the sake of her royal bloodline, and a smile curled her lips as she sat upright, forcing Lena to sit up with her, both of them cross-legged in the middle of the massive bed as they sat across from each other. Reaching out for both of Lena’s hands, Kara ran her thumbs across the knuckles, her golden skin from a summer spent outdoors in contrast to Lena’s slender, porcelain fingers, and she gently squeezed them.

 

            “You know I’ve always wanted kids,” Kara told her, “do you remember our talk in France? Back when we were still trying to be civil to each other. You told me you’d never wanted kids, and that I’d be the one to raise them. It was all hypothetical then, and I said I thought I’d be having that conversation with someone I loved, not you.”

 

            “God, that’s … what, four years? Four years ago now. Who would’ve guessed, huh? I suppose you were right though, but talking about wanting children isn’t the same as raising children. This might be the true test of our relationship.”

 

            Laughing, Kara reached out and cupped Lena’s cheek in her hand, giving her a tender smile, before she shuffled closer to her, their knees knocking as the mattress jostled beneath her. “Do you want to know a secret?”

 

            “Mhm.”

 

            “After you told me you wanted children, I asked Sam if she thought you’d make a good mother,” Kara admitted, “and she said you’d be an amazing one. I think you will be too, so whatever happens, at least I know that our baby will have two parents who love it.”

 

            Smiling, Lena leant forward and kissed her, pushing her back down onto the mattress and hovering over her, dark locks of hair falling around her face and tickling Kara’s cheek as she leant down and deepened the kiss. Holding her by the waist, her hands firm against Lena’s hot skin, Kara kissed her back, her heart fluttering in her chest and the urge to be closer to her growing. When Lena pulled back, sitting in Kara’s lap, she smiled down at her. “I love you.”

 

            Sitting up, Kara brushed her hair out of her face, cupping her cheeks and pressing a delicate kiss to the tip of Lena’s nose. “I know you do, and I love you too.”

 

            “You should get some rest,” Lena murmured, her lips brushing against Kara’s cheek while she absentmindedly played with a lock of golden hair.

 

            “Only if you stay with me.”

 

            Laughing, Lena let out a soft sigh and pulled the covers, which had already been turned down by their maid, back, waiting for Kara to scramble beneath the sheets before she tucked them both in, switching off the lights and settling down against her pillows. Kara cuddled up next to her, her head resting on Lena’s chest as she listened to her steady heartbeat, the sheets cool against her skin and the tension in her muscles fading slightly. Feeling the brush of soft lips against her forehead, Kara felt the air rush out of her lungs, and she clung to Lena just a little bit tighter.

 

            “I’ll be right beside you the whole time,” Lena whispered, and Kara knew she meant in everything, not just for tonight.

 

---

 

            Wearing a paper thin hospital gown, identical to the one she’d worn less than a week ago, Kara sat on the edge of the chair, a lump in her throat as her pulse thudded loudly in her chest, the sound of blood rushing in her ears. Her palms were clammy, one of them held tightly in Lena’s hands, and the other one clenched into a fist to stop it from trembling. She wasn’t sure why she was so nervous - this was what she wanted, and she knew that some of the nervousness was also excitement - but she was nervous nonetheless. Perhaps it was the thought of it not working. She had her heart set on this, and even though mentally reminded herself not to get ahead of herself, she couldn’t help it. It was only natural that Kara get her hopes up, even if there was a relatively high chance that it wouldn’t work.

 

            “Hey, look at me,” Lena gently interrupted her, giving her hand a quick squeeze, and Kara gave her a questioning look, watching as Lena’s expression softened, “I want you to know that I’m grateful to you for doing this for us. I know you wanted to, but I am anyway.”

 

            Smiling, Kara nodded, giving her hand a squeeze back in return. Then the door opened and the doctor walked in, a middle aged woman with a gentle smile and a soothing manner as she politely greeted the two royals. Within minutes, Kara’s feet were in the stirrups, her knees parted as she stared up at the blindingly bright fluorescent lights, breathing in the distinct smell of bleach, antiseptic and the metallic tang from the stainless steel equipment that was unique to doctor’s clinics and hospitals. Listening to the soothing voice of the doctor, with Lena’s hand clutched tightly in her own, she stared straight up, until a gentle hand reached out and brushed her hair out of her face. Turning her head to the side, Kara stared at Lena, taking in the loving look in her jade eyes, as well as the fear and concern she was trying so hard to hide too, and gave her a reassuring smile.

 

            At the doctor’s announcement that she was all set to begin, Kara made a small sound in acknowledgement, trying not to tense up a few moments later at the feeling of the catheter being inserted. She struggled to keep her face neutral at the mild cramping, keeping her eyes on Lena’s as she smiled slightly, feeling the awkwardness of the moment growing, and then it was all over.

 

            “Great, all done!” the doctor said, the snap of her latex gloves being pulled off reaching Kara’s ears.

 

            Turning her attention to her, Kara raised her eyebrows slightly, “that’s it? It’s done?”

 

            A quick, warm laugh off the doctor, with the assurance that it was over and Kara felt a weight lift off her shoulders. It hadn’t been bad at all, just slightly uncomfortable, and she listened as they were given a rundown of how things would progress over the next few weeks and given a date and time for their next appointment to find out whether or not the embryo had implanted itself - or possibly both of them.

 

            Soon enough, they were in the back of a sleek car, the smell of leather and cool air washing over them as the sunny day beat down on them, and Kara turned to look at Lena, who was watching her closely, and gave her a nervous smile. “And now we wait.”

Chapter Text

            The two weeks seemed to drag by, and Kara was brimming with nervous the entire time. They had a charity event at Argo City’s children’s hospital, posing for photos as they sat beside the children and talked to their parents, and then there had been a new art exhibition they’d donated to at the museum, which they were obligated to attend to unveil the new additions, and that evening they’d attended a performance of Jane Eyre at the Royal Theatre, which Kara had thoroughly enjoyed, if only because she was so enraptured in the performance that she forgot to worry that it would be ten days in the morning and long enough for it to give a positive answer on a pregnancy test. The worry was back when she went to bed that night, curled up beside Lena with her arm thrown across her wife’s stomach, her heart beating a mile a minute and a lump in her throat. It was a warm night, and she could barely handle the thin sheets pulled over her as she listened to Lena flip the pages of the novel she was reading, reading glasses perched on her nose as she read in the yellow glow of the lamplight. It was a quiet night, and Kara knew that if she was outside she’d be able to hear crickets humming in the garden, and there wouldn’t even be a wind to rippled the surface of a lake. It was like the whole world was holding its breath with her.

 

            As if sensing the tautness hidden beneath Kara’s stillness, Lena marked her page and set the book aside, taking off her glasses and rubbing her eyes as she set them down on top of it. Kara was still wearing her glasses and she felt gentle fingertips graze her skin as they were plucked off her face, before the feeling of soft lips brushed her forehead. “Don’t worry about it,” Lena mumbled against her skin, her hands stroking Kara’s tangled hair in a comforting manner, “worrying won’t help things. Besides, it’ll give you wrinkles.”

 

            “Well if it works then I’ll take the wrinkles,” Kara grumbled, burying her face in Lena’s neck.

 

            “Just hold off until the morning, okay?” Lena murmured, sounding nervous as she reassured her wife.

 

            Nodding, Kara sighed, trying to force her muscles to relax as she told herself that it wouldn’t help anything to worry - Lena was right - and she listened to the gentle thumping of her steady heartbeat to calm herself down. If Lena wasn’t that worried then Kara shouldn’t worry either. It was easier said than done, and long after Lena had turned the light off Kara was still thinking about the morning. She wasn’t supposed to be having a blood test until the start of next week, but ten days would be long enough for it to show up on a pregnancy test, and Kara was of course way too eager to wait until the official test to find out whether it had worked. Eventually she managed to get to sleep though, her mind sinking into unconsciousness as the tiring day caught up with her, and with the warm embrace of Lena making her feel safe, she slept soundly.

 

---

 

            “Have you peed on the stick yet?” Lena’s muffled voice came through the bathroom door, and Kara stared down at the pregnancy test balanced on the edge of the sink.

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “Well what does it say?”

 

            Letting out an exasperated sigh, Kara rolled her eyes, “nothing yet. It’s only been ten seconds.”

 

            “Can I come in yet? I don’t know why you wouldn’t let me in in the first place,” Lena complained outside, and Kara crossed the bathroom to open the door for her, giving her a withering look.

 

            Stepping into the room, Lena walked over to the marble sink, picking up the stick and peering down at it as if she could will the answer into existence. Walking over to her, Kara plucked it out of her hand and set it back down on the edge of the sink. “Because watching your wife pee on a stick isn’t exactly attractive.”

 

            “Yeah, well, I’m going to have to watch you give birth, which is decidedly even less attractive, so I think you have bigger things to worry about in the future,” Lena said, and Kara grimaced as she crossed her arms over her chest.

 

            Feeling the nervous flutter in her stomach, Kara had to fight back the nausea that rose at the thought of the test result, and Lena reached out and grabbed Kara by the shoulders, giving her a gentle shake as she gave her a slightly amused smile. Stepping closer, she kissed Kara on the cheek, her expensive perfume enveloping them in a cloud, and let out a quiet laugh, making Kara’s heart flutter slightly.

 

            “Don’t worry too much.”

 

            “I know you’re only saying that so you can pretend like you won’t care if it’s negative,” Kara sighed, “but I am worrying. We have to have an heir. What if it doesn’t work?”

 

            “Slow down you silly cow,” Lena laughed, “wait until the test result first, okay?”

 

            “Right,” Kara agreed, her forehead resting against Lena’s as she inhaled slowly, steadying her nerves.

 

            The three minutes were torturously slow, and Kara couldn’t bring herself to check the stick still perching on the edge of the sink as three minutes came and went, and when Lena picked it up, she didn’t have to ask what the result was, because the quiet, disappointed murmur, followed by a few moments of heavy silence was enough to let her know that it had been negative. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Kara nodded, leaning back against the sink, the cold marble digging into her back as she tried to come to terms with the disheartening results. Softly sighing, Lena tossed the test into the small bin beside the counter and reached out to grip Kara by the shoulders, giving her a tender look as she looked up at her.

 

            “Well … maybe the test is wrong,” Lena hesitantly said, giving her an encouraging smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “The blood test will be more accurate. We should wait until then before we jump to conclusions.”

 

            “Lena, it’s okay,” Kara said, giving her a tense smile, “you don’t have to sugarcoat it.”

 

            Kissing her on the tip of her nose, Lena soothingly rubbed her arms before folding her into a gentle hug, and Kara buried her face into Lena’s shoulder. “I’m not sugarcoating it, I just- well, we don’t know yet. Ten days might be too early. Just … don’t give up before we know for certain.”

 

            Returning the hug, Kara felt the knot in her stomach unwind slightly. It was rare for Lena to be the optimistic one, and Kara felt grateful to her for attempting to make her feel better, even if it didn’t entirely work. But four days later, at the two week mark, when she got her personal doctor at the palace to draw her blood and send it off for testing, the test results came back negative, and Lena’s false positivity wasn’t enough to make her feel disheartened and upset about the fact that she wasn’t pregnant, no matter how many times she tried to tell Kara that they’d try again, and maybe next time it would work.

 

---

 

            After the results of the blood test, Kara was feeling too crestfallen to feel like doing anything productive, and she spent most of her afternoon doing mindless paperwork in her office while Lena disappeared on her own errands, at Kara’s insistence that she not hover too much. By lunchtime even signing her name became too tedious, and she retired to the main sitting room to read, undisturbed until a couple of hours later. With a gentle knock the door to her suite opened and Jess stepped inside, dipping into a slight curtsy as Kara looked up from where she was reading a novel on the sofa. “Your Majesty, your sister, Lady Alex, is here to see you.”

 

            Brushing past the assistant, Alex rolled her eyes slightly, “as opposed to your other sister. I’m back from Thorul.”

 

            “How was it?” Kara asked, setting her book down with the page corner dog-eared, and sitting up straighter as Alex walked towards her. Backing back out of the room with another slight curtsy, shutting the door behind her, Jess left them to it.

 

            Dropping down onto the sofa, Alex made herself comfortable as she settled back against the pillows, giving her sister an expectant look. “So?”

 

            Grimacing slightly, Kara gave her a miniscule shrug, “negative.”

 

            “Aw, Kara, I’m sorry,” Alex said, giving her an empathetic look as she reached out to give her sister’s knee a gentle squeeze, “I know how much you wanted it to be positive.”

 

            “Well there’s always next time,” Kara said, trying to scrounge up some optimism, a flicker of hope inside at the thought of it working next time. Surrounding that spark of hopefulness was a sea of disappointment though, and she couldn’t help but feel dejected as she curled up on the sofa, her chin on her knee as she wrapped her arms around her legs.

 

            “Where’s Lena?”

 

            Sighing, Kara gave Alex an exasperated look, “off doing God knows what. I think she’s trying to find me something to cheer me up.”

 

            “Oh … good,” Alex slowly said.

 

            “What is it?”

 

            Casually shrugging, Alex gave her an innocent look, but her eyes were filled with guilt, making Kara raise her eyebrows expectantly. They were interrupted a moment later by the door opening and Jess slipping inside with a tray held aloft, silently coming to place it on the coffee table before Kara and Alex, dipping her head in acknowledgement of the thanks sent her way, and Alex leant forward and poured them both a cup of tea while Kara piled some of the biscuits and tarts onto a plate. Sitting back against the pillows, a blanket draped over her lap, Kara bit into a lemon tart and narrowed her eyes as she stared at Alex.

 

            “I, uh, I maybe, kind of, might’ve, maybe -”

 

            “Alex, cut to the chase.”

 

            “So there’s a slight chance that Sam and I …”

 

            Groaning, Kara covered her face with a hand, squeezing her eyes closed as she filled in the blanks of her sister’s trailing sentence. With a sigh, Kara put the half eaten lemon tart down on the rose patterned plate and gave Alex a stern look, dusting the crumbs of pastry off her fingertips as she swallowed her mouthful. “Please don’t tell me you slept with Sam.”

 

            “Well I- there’s a slight chance-”

 

            “Alex!”

 

            “I’m sorry!” Alex said, a sheepish look on her face, “we were just- we were alone in her house, and there was wine - a lot of wine - and we were talking, and then one thing led to another and …”

 

            “And you slept with Sam!”

 

            Her sister winced, shrugging apologetically and Kara let out another groan, giving her a withering look. Listening to Alex justify her actions, Kara groaned even louder, giving Alex a pointed look as her sister hastily drained her cup of tea to stop her aimless rambling. “I thought we agreed no staff or close friends after what happened with Maggie!”

 

            “I know we did,” Alex sheepishly replied, “but I didn’t mean to, and it’s not like we see each other all the time - she’s Lena’s friend - so it changes nothing and no one has to know.”

 

            “No one meaning Lena?”

 

            “Exactly.”

 

            “You’re a pain in the ass,” Kara sighed.

 

            “I know it’s bad timing to piss you off. Sorry.”

 

            Sighing, Kara shoved the rest of her lemon tart into her mouth, scowling as she chewed quickly and chased it down with tea, contemplating eating the whole plate of cakes to make herself feel better. Deciding that she deserved to treat herself after such a disappointing day, Kara picked up a blueberry friand, the powdered sugar sticking to her fingertips as she took a bite, listening to Alex talk about the rest of her trip to Thorul. She seemed happier than she had in a while - she always did when she came back from her trips away - and Kara couldn’t really bring herself to feel mad about the situation, and knew that she was more frustrated with the whole pregnancy test result that morning than what her sister had gotten herself caught up in the next country over.

 

            Alex was still talking about the party she’d gone to with some other minor nobles she vaguely knew when the door was opened and Lena bustled in ahead of a few palace staff members. Raising her eyebrows, Kara took in the armfuls of bags, the bouquet of flowers and the breezy way Lena walked into the suite, an air of confidence about her as if nothing was wrong at all. She smiled at Kara as she walked over to the sofa, bending down to kiss her on the cheek, absentmindedly saying hello to Alex before ordering the staff to put everything down on the dining table, except for the flowers, which she took from the man carrying them and rounded the sofa, depositing them in Kara’s lap as she stole a scone that her wife had just spread jam and cream on. Ignoring Kara’s spluttered protests, Lena sat down beside her on the sofa, putting her feet up on the coffee table as she smiled up at her wife.

 

            “I’ve got posies and glazed donuts,” Lena announced.

 

            “From that bakery around the corner from that bookshop?” Kara asked, sounding hopeful.

 

            “Mhm, but now I see that you’ve been filling up on all the cakes here, I guess I’ll eat them all myself.”

 

            Quietly laughing, Kara climbed to her feet, the pale pink flowers cradled in her arms, and she walked over to the table, digging through the bags until she found the white box from the bakery. Fishing a donut out of the box, she carried them over to the sofa and offered them to Lena and Alex, before wandering back over to the table to peek in the other bags.

 

            “What have you been buying?”

 

            Shoving her donut in her mouth, Lena walked over to the table, producing a white cashmere blanket, nestled in pale yellow tissue paper, before she moved onto a few pairs of pink silk pyjamas, a few novels - some for her and some for Lena - and then she picked up a little bag and handed it to Kara. Licking her fingers clean of the donut glaze, Kara pulled a tiny finely crafted stuffed rabbit, the soft ivory material and beige stitching of the highest quality, and she felt her eyes prickle as she fought back the urge to cry.

 

            “We’ll get there,” Lena murmured, “the blanket’s for it too. For when it happens.”

 

            Staring down at the little rabbit, Kara couldn’t help but smile, feeling a twinge of sadness but an overwhelming feeling of love as she reached out for Lena’s hand, aware of Alex watching them with interest from the sofa. Just the simple act of her wife buying their unborn baby’s first teddy was enough to fill her with the feeling that everything would work out fine. Lena believed it, and so would she. It didn’t matter how they got there, or how long it took, they were going to have a family of their own, and the thought was comforting as Kara clutched the teddy to her chest, giving Lena a loving look as her heart melted at the sweetness of the gesture.

 

            “For when it happens,” she agreed.

Chapter Text

            It didn’t work the second time either, or the third, and Kara’s patience was wearing thin. The fertility hormones were giving her headaches and mood swings that were giving Lena whiplash, and she felt nauseous and fatigued constantly. The worst part was all the side effects never paid off, and it just made her feel worse for it. She’d had her heart set on it working quickly, and each failure was a blow to her hopes, making her doubt whether it would actually work. She’d taken hormones and vitamins, changed her diet and cut out alcohol at the mere mention of trying to get pregnant, yet it made no difference because it just wasn’t working. After the fourth, she was ready to give up all together.

 

            Summer was on its way out, ushering in autumn with russet and scarlet leaves and a chill to the air, and the looming approach of winter didn’t help improve Kara’s mood. She’d spent the morning wrapped up in a knitted cardigan, sketching outside while Lena tended to her precious flowers, hot tea never far from her hand with the staff waiting on her ever need. It was with some bitterness that she let them bring her soup for lunch, in the finest china that money could buy, made by one of the best chefs in the world, because money could buy her everything she wanted, except pregnancy. For all of her wealth and power, her money could buy her a way to get pregnant, but only if she could actually get pregnant, and in her sullen mood, Kara soon abandoned her half eaten food and went back up to their suite.

 

            By the time Lena made it back up to their room, having stayed kneeling amongst the earth and plants at Kara’s insistence so that they could both get some space, Kara was wearing freshly laundered pyjamas and wrapped up in a blanket, a fire roaring and making the room almost stiflingly hot as she watched TV. At the appearance of her wife, Kara gave her a small smile, watching Lena kick off her shoes before she tracked mud through the suite, and then she climbed to her feet, walking over to the liquor cabinet and pouring them both a finger of whiskey. Walking over to her, Lena took both glasses and set them down on the table, giving Kara a stern look.

 

            “No alcohol.”

 

            “Well it’s not working either way,” Kara curtly replied. "What's the point in being one of the richest people on the planet if I can't use it to get pregnant? I can buy a new house on a whim, hell, I can buy an island, but I can't pay for someone to get me pregnant when my body just- it just doesn't want to be."

 

           "That's not how money works," Lena said, giving her an empathetic look, and Kara made a sound of disapproval, as if it should work that way.

 

            Sighing, Lena reached out to take her hand, but Kara pulled backwards, not feeling like being touched right then. Her most recent blood test had been yesterday, with another negative, and after a failed fourth round, she wasn’t much in the mood for being comforted. It would’ve been easier if Lena wasn’t trying so hard to make her feel better, and she knew that Lena had adopted a much softer manner lately purely to help ease Kara’s growing frustration and anger with herself. She was doing it again right then, and it irked Kara more than usual.

 

            “Hey, you just- you have to give it more time. Just be patient for a little while longer. We’ll get there.”

 

            “That’s all you do! You just stand there and say ‘it’ll work, you’ll see’ ,” Kara said, adopting an accent that was supposed to somewhat sound like Lena’s.

 

            “I hate it when you do that,” Lena grumbled, “I don’t even sound like that.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Kara sank down onto the sofa and picked up her sketchbook. Flipping to the half finished one of the palace gardens in full bloom, she added detailed touches to the drawing of Lena kneeling before a flower bed, tending to the roses as she had been that morning. “Well it’s true. You don’t say anything useful.”

 

            “Christ, Kara, what do you want me to say? That it’s not going to work. We should just give up now,” Lena exclaimed.

 

            “Well it’s what you’re thinking!” Kara said, and Lena spluttered as she sat down on the sofa across from her. Making hard marks with the pencil as her frustration got the better of her, Kara stared intently at the sketch in her lap. “And it’s not like you ever wanted kids anyway.”

 

            Lena made a small sound of indignation, trying to bite her tongue but settling for keeping her temper in check as she evenly replied. “You know as well as I do that I’ve changed a lot since we first started … dating, so if you’re trying to say that this doesn’t upset me as much as it upsets you, then you’re being ridiculous and maybe you should go and lay down until you’re in less of a mood.”

 

            Huffing in frustration, Kara tossed her sketchbook aside, along with the pencil, and gave Lena a dark look. “Don’t be so condescending.”

 

            “Well then stop being a stroppy cow and tell me what you want me to say! If trying to make you hopeful isn’t working, and telling you that it won’t work isn’t what you want to hear, then what can I say? Do you want me to tell you that I think you’re being too impatient? People do this for years and we’re lucky we can afford to do it as many times as we’d like. Three isn’t very many rounds at all . Do you want me to tell you that we should keep trying? That it’s too soon for you to be giving up. Or do you want me to tell you that I’ll do it?”

 

            Scoffing, Kara shook her head as she laughed slightly, “no, you know I’d never ask you that, just like I know you’d never offer.”

 

            “I am offering.”

 

            Kara jerked her head up and met Lena’s intense stare at the words, staring at her for a few moments as they fell into silence. She was waiting for the rest of the joke, but Lena just stared at her with an expectant look on her face, and Kara’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You’re serious?”

 

            Climbing to her feet, Lena walked over to her, moving the sketchpad and sitting down beside her. Reaching out, she brushed the hair out of Kara’s face and cupped her cheek, giving her a grim smile, “I know you want to do it, and I won’t lie, you know I’d prefer not to, and we both know that a surrogate would just cause problems for us with how things should be done in our lifestyle, so yes, I’m being serious. If you can’t … I will. If you’re done, then I’ll try.”

 

            Feeling conflicted inside, Kara frowned as she covered Lena’s hand with her own, staring at the necklace hanging around her wife’s neck as she turned the thought over in her mind. At what point was it time to give up? Four rounds didn’t seem like a like, but it was in terms of how long it was taking and how long they could afford to wait. Kara would be thirty soon, and with each passing year, her chances would decrease. Would it just be better to call it a failure and let Lena try? If it meant that she could be a mother, did it really matter if she got the experience of carrying her own child? With a small sigh, Kara met Lena’s worried green eyes and gave her a strained smile.

 

            “You don’t have to,” Kara said, knowing that it had taken a while for Lena to come around to the idea of having a child to begin with, even with the knowledge that she wouldn’t be the one to carry it.

 

            “I know,” Lena murmured, leaning forward to gently kiss her on the cheek, before she rested her forehead against Kara’s, still cradling her face in her hand. Closing her eyes at the comforting feeling of being close to her wife, Kara seemed to unwind at her touch, feeling stupid for snapping a few moments before. “I want to. I want to do this for us . For our heir.”

 

            Letting out a shaky breath, Kara reached up to cover Lena’s hand with her own, soothingly rubbing her thumb across the bumps and dips of her knuckles. “Are you sure?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “Lena, are you sure?”

 

            “Yes! I know it’ll be hard - harder for me than most - and I know I’ll have to make some changes. No alcohol, like half of my diet will be gone, no occasional cigarette, no race cars or fencing. I’m sure. I’ve thought about it a lot, just as a precaution, you know.”

 

            “And when you have to push a watermelon sized baby out of-”

 

            “You’re supposed to be talking me into this, you silly mare, not trying to scare me away!” Lena interrupted her, sounding horrified at the direction Kara’s sentence was going, “and I’d rather not think about that, thank you.” Kara gave her a pointed look, and Lena rolled her eyes. “If I didn’t want to do it, there’s nothing on earth that could make me do it.”

 

            Laughing, Kara’s eyebrows rose slightly and she gave Lena an amused look, “except a contract.”

 

            “Maybe you should have one drawn up so I can’t back out,” Lena dryly replied, “god knows, my mom will say you should. Apparently I’ve never been able to commit to anything for too long.”

 

            “Huh, so when’s the divorce happening then?” Kara teased her, and Lena shook her head, sighing as she pressed a kiss to Kara’s forehead.

 

            “If I’m pushing a baby out of me for you, I’m not letting you go anywhere.”

 

            A warm feeling in her chest, Kara threw her arms around Lena, knocking them both down onto the sofa so she was laying on top of her, and propped herself up slightly to pepper Lena’s face with kisses. Laughing, Lena squirmed beneath her, until she was out of breath and Kara was laughing too much, her presence a warm weight on top of Lena, and she shifted so she was half off her, her head resting on Lena’s chest as she listened to her heart race. Feeling a spark of hope that it would work, even if she was still a bit upset that it wouldn’t be her, Kara hugged Lena tighter, feeling her wife’s arms slowly wind around her and hold her closer. The gentle brush of lips against her forehead spoke volumes, and Kara knew that no matter what, she’d always have Lena anyway, and that would always be enough.

 

---

 

            Things moved quickly after that, because as much as Kara was tempted to try it just one more time , she knew that it would just be another crushing blow if it failed, and wasn’t it better to just let Lena try? She didn’t have any problems and she was still young too, so the success rate was going to be as good as it would ever be, and they couldn’t fathom waiting longer if Kara wasn’t going to give another round a go. With matured eggs ready to go, they only had to wait a couple of weeks before it was Lena at the clinic, their roles reversed as she wore a thin gown and Kara tightly held her hand, kissing her knuckles as Lena tried to keep her face impassive. She knew how big of a deal this was for Lena, and Kara couldn’t help but love her more for her selflessness, feeling a rush of adoration and gratitude to her every time she looked at Lena. They weren’t even sure it was going to work, but just the thought of Lena being willing to carry their future princess was enough to fill Kara with such warmth that it almost made her forget about her own sadness at the fact that she wouldn’t be the one to carry their child.

 

            When the procedure was over, they went straight back to the palace, and Kara sent Lena straight to bed, her wife willingly going with mild amusement at Kara’s sudden protectiveness. When she had rooibos tea and eggs benedict with salmon brought up for lunch, insisting that they were good for pregnant women, Lena snorted with laughter, but obligingly ate every bit of it to please Kara, and Kara had a sneaking suspicion that Lena liked being looked after. She’d never had the kind of parents that Kara had - biological and adoptive - so she didn’t know what it was like to have someone take care of you, not until she’d met Kara, and if it worked - if - then Lena was going to be the most spoiled princess in the world. She would be waited on hand and foot by the dozens of palace staff, but most importantly, by Kara. If there was one way she could express her gratitude to Lena for doing this, it was going to be through completely and utterly spoiling her with everything she could possibly ever want or need. Kara couldn’t wait.

 

            First things first though, they had to wait and see if it worked or not, and Kara could tell that Lena was nervous right from the moment they’d left the clinic. She’d called Sam for some moral support for Lena, as the only one of her friends who even knew the couple were trying to get pregnant, and Alex and Eliza were never far from the palace anyway, which meant that at least they had people they loved nearby to dash over and check up on them. Once Lena was actually pregnant, and the news broke, they knew that the palace would be flooded with friends and other dignitaries and nosy guests, but for now, it was just a few people who were in the loop, and they were both happy to keep it that way for as long as they could, knowing that they would be hounded by reporters and photographers even more than usual.

 

            For that night though, it was just the two of them, and as dusk descended outside, they lay on the bed, watching The Crown and drinking tea. Kara was absentmindedly sketching too, starting a new one of Lena, who was stretched out across the bed, holding the tiny stuffed rabbit that she’d bought, with a brooding look on her face. Softly smiling, Kara reached over to tenderly brush her dark hair out of her face, and Lena looked up at her with wide eyes, her expression softening at the love she saw in Kara’s eyes. Kissing her on the top of her head, Kara shuffled closer, wrapping an arm around Lena’s shoulder and reaching out for the rabbit.

 

            Lena rested her head on Kara’s shoulder, closing her eyes briefly and letting out a soft sigh. “We’ll get there.”

Chapter Text

            Smiling as she pressed delicate kisses to Lena’s shoulder blade, one hand absentmindedly trailing over the warm skin of her waist as Lena hugged a pillow, her eyes shut as an amused smile played on her lips. “You know,” Kara mumbled against her skin in between a kiss, “it’s been ten days today.”

 

            “Mm, I’m aware,” Lena replied, one eyelid opening to reveal a piercing green eye as she rolled over slightly and delicately arched an eyebrow.

 

            “Don’t you want to know?” Kara asked, an excited look on her face as she hovered over Lena, her blonde hair tumbling around her face and tickling Lena’s cheek.

 

            With a quiet laugh Lena sat upright, pushing Kara up with her, and reached up to brush her hair back and cup her cheeks. A serious look in her eyes, she gave Kara a gentle smile, tenderly smoothing her cheek with a thumb. “If it comes back negative, you’re going to be upset for the next four days until I have my blood taken, so no, I don’t particularly want to know,” Lena lightly told her, trying not to be too negative as she gently kept Kara grounded. Lena was always the realist, if not the pessimist, and she knew that Kara had her hopes set on her getting pregnant now, and Lena would be lying if she said she was worried about disappointing Kara.

 

            “But you’re late, aren’t you?” Kara said, raising her eyebrows slightly as she gave Lena an expectant look.

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena gave her a stern look, “barely. We’ll find out in four days.” Kissing Kara on the top of her nose she guided her wife off her lap, briefly pinning Kara beneath her as she gave her a soft, lingering kiss, before climbing off her and hopping down off the high bed. “Now, it’s time for a shower. We’re having lunch with Alex today - don’t forget.”

 

            Sighing, Kara rolled over and got off the bed too, following after her as Lena walked towards the bathroom. “I know, and I’ve got that meeting with Cat Grant before that. You’re lucky you don’t have to bore yourself with as many meetings as I do.”

 

            “Mm, I’ll think of you while I’m with Sam,” Lena teased her, giving Kara a wide smile over her shoulder.

 

            “Sam?” Kara asked, a puzzled look on her face as she stepped into the bathroom, watching Lena turn the hot water on in the shower.

 

            “Yes, I told you she was getting here today. I invited her to lunch,” Lena briskly replied, one hand under the torrent of water as she waited for it to turn hot.

 

            “Lunch? Lunch with Alex?” Kara asked, her stomach lurching slightly at the thought, “Sam’s coming too?”

 

            Giving her a bewildered look Lena let out a confused laugh, shaking drops of water off her hand before walking towards Kara and grabbing her hand. Pulling her towards the shower, Lena stepped under the water, letting the water plaster her hair to the face as Kara joined her under the hot water. “Yes. Is that okay? You don’t sound very pleased about seeing her.”

 

            Letting out a quick laugh, Kara slicked her wet hair back, giving Lena a bright smile while she internally thought about how much of a disaster this lunch could be with Lena in the dark about Alex and Sam’s tryst in Thorul, and Kara being the uncomfortable knowing third party in whatever tension there was going to be between her sister and friend. “Of course it’s okay,” Kara said, reaching out to pull Lena close, “you know I love seeing Sam.”

 

            Smiling, Lena raised her chin slightly, pushing herself up onto her tiptoes to kiss Kara. Brushing her wet hair back, Kara cradled Lena’s face in her hands and kissed her back, the hot water pattering against her back as she stood under the torrent of water, the shower glass fogging up in the steam. Laughing as Lena pushed her backwards, Kara went willingly, letting out a small sound of protest when her back touched the cold tiles, and she jumped slightly, breaking the kiss as Lena laughed. With a small sigh, Kara wiped away a drop of water on Lena’s cheek, giving her a grim smile.

 

            “You’re going to make me late for my meeting.”

 

            “So? You don’t want to go anyway,” Lena murmured, stealing a kiss.

 

            “I know,” Kara groaned, “but I have to.”

 

            “You’re the Queen of Krypton,” Lena reminded her, her lips leaving a trail of hot kisses along Kara’s jaw, “you don’t have to do anything. Tell Prime Minister Grant that taxes and policies can wait.”

 

            Reaching up to encircle Lena’s wrists with her slender fingers, Kara moved her back, giving her an exasperated look. “You know that I would if I could, and you’re cruel for teasing me when you know I can’t.”

 

            Giving her a slightly smug look, Lena shrugged and turned around, walking over to the row of expensive bath products. Taking as much time as she could spare in the shower, Kara chatted away while she let Lena scrub her clean with a pomegranate scented shower gel, the occasional encouraging hum prompting her to continue as she complained about the meeting from the night before. It seemed like there was a never ending stream of them, and Kara took her job seriously, even with the knowledge that she had little real power to make big changes to her country. It was important though, and she wouldn’t be caught slacking, even if it was tedious work. After quickly washing her hair, she got out of the shower, stealing lingering kisses from her wife as Lena stayed beneath the warm water, tempting Kara to stay. It was with grim resolution that she stepped into the steamy air of the bathroom and wrapped a heated fluffy towel around herself, wrapping another one around her hair and fetching a clean robe from the rack.

 

            Five minutes later she was sitting at the dining table, reading the morning newspaper that had been left waiting for her by Jess and absentmindedly scrolling through her schedule for the day as she waited for Lena to emerge from their bedroom. Aoife was laying by Kara’s feet, tongue lolling and tail occasionally thumping against the floor as the massive dog waited for Lena as well, and Kara complained to the dog about being hungry as she thought about breakfast waiting for them in the small dining room they preferred for their meals. She was feeling a little grouchy that morning, not enough sleep and a busy day making her sunny personality a little subdued, and Kara would’ve loved nothing more than to go back to bed for a few more hours and cuddle up with Lena.

 

            At the sound of the bedroom doors being thrown open, Aoife climbed to her feet and bounded over to Lena, who strode out in a pressed casual suit, buttoning up the olive coloured shirt and carrying her suit jacket over one arm. “Oof,” she muttered as an excited wolfhound bumped into her legs, excitedly snuffling as she waited for some attention, and Lena’s face lit up as she ruffled the fur beneath the dog’s chin, glancing up at Kara who was softly smiling. Straightening up, Lena walked over to her and wrapped her arms around Kara’s shoulders from behind, her chin on Kara’s shoulder, enveloping them both in a strong cloud of perfume. “What’s happening in the world today, darling?”

 

            “People are dying. The planet is dying. People are poor. The government is awful. Politicians aren’t to be trusted,” Kara wearily summarised, tossing the newspaper onto the table and leaning her head back against Lena’s shoulder.

 

            Tutting, Lena straightened up, looking down at the wet patch from Kara’s damp hair and tapped her wife on the shoulder, “come on, I’ll blow dry your hair for you before breakfast. And you’d better finish getting ready, your meeting’s in an hour.”

 

            “Yes, Your Highness,” Kara grumbled, pushing herself to her feet and following Lena into their bedroom, her stomach rumbling.

 

            By the time they were both dressed and ready, looking picture perfect for whoever they had to encounter during the day, Kara had to meet with Cat in twenty minutes, which meant that breakfast was rushed. Sitting at the head of the table in the sunny dining room, Kara prodded her boiled egg with a neat rectangle of toast and a brooding look on her face, feeling decidedly unhungry for eggs, and reached for some of the bacon amidst the spread of food cooked for them. In place of coffee there was a lemony tea that was supposed to be good for early pregnancy, and seeing as they were taking no risks, Lena was consuming as little caffeine as possible, which meant that of course Kara had agreed to go along with it too to make it fair, and she murmured a quiet thank you as Lena refilled her cup for her. Absentmindedly sipping at the tea and taking small bites of bacon, Kara watched Lena, listening as she talked about the art gallery she was going to with Sam, smiling softly as she watched her vaguely gesture with her spoon, a serious look on her face. No matter how busy their days were, they always ate breakfast together, even if it was a bit short like that morning, and Kara loved their uninterrupted early mornings, appreciating it more than she ever thought she would. Sometimes the startling thought that there had been a time where they knew each other and weren’t in love came rushing back to her, and it was shocking to think that she could ever have thought that being with Lena was the worst possible thing that could happen to her.

 

            “What’s so funny?” Lena interrupted her thoughts, and Kara blinked in surprise, realising that she was staring at her wife with an amused smile curling her lips.

 

            “I love you,” Kara blurted out.

 

            Laughing, Lena shrugged slightly and drained her tea, the cup rattling against the saucer as she set it back down, “well I should hope so. I’d hate to prove my mother and your aunt right.” Dabbing at her mouth with a finely embroidered napkin, leaving a red lipstick mark on the white fabric, Lena pushed her chair back and climbed to her feet. “You’re going to be late if you don’t hurry up. You’re being awfully slow this morning.”

 

            “I’m tired,” Kara whined, tilting her head to the side so that Lena could place a gentle kiss against her cheek, “have a good day. I’ll see you at lunch.”

 

            “Try not to be too grumpy,” Lena whispered, barely concealed laughter in her voice, “I love you.”

 

            Turning her head to the side, she let Lena give her a lingering kiss before she left, and Kara quickly shovelled down the rest of the bacon in a rather unflattering manner, realising that she had five minutes to make it to her meeting room. She set a brisk pace through the palace, her guard, Vasquez, trailing after her with a serious look on her face, and Kara arrived at the hallway leading to the room slightly out of breath, even though she hadn’t really been rushing that much. Taking a few slow breaths to calm herself down, she walked down the length on the carpeted hallway, plastering a polite, friendly smile on her face as she looked at the blonde woman waiting outside.

 

            “Good morning, Your Majesty,” Cat said, dipping into a slight curtsy at the arrival of Kara, along with the rest of the occupants of the hallway.

 

            “Prime Minister,” Kara nodded, sweeping into the spacious room as the doors were opened by the palace staff.

 

            Lyra was there, and she followed Kara and Cat in, along with Cat’s personal assistant, and Kara took a seat at the head of the long mahogany table, thanking Lyra as she set a file of paperwork and an expensive pen down in front of her. Seating herself at Kara’s right, Cat had a similar spread of files and paper before her, a pair of glasses perched on her nose as she rifled through them.

 

            “I thought we could begin with the National Housing Agreement,” Cat said, pulling out two papers and setting one down in front of Kara, “unless you’d prefer to start somewhere else.”

 

            “No, no, that’s fine,” Kara mumbled, picking up the stapled stack of paper and flipping over the first page.

 

            The rest of her morning followed in a similar fashion, with different policies, agreements and laws being discussed by the two women, and Kara felt herself becoming grumpier as the morning progressed. By the time they’d gone through everything, Kara was sick of talking about politics and a dull throbbing at her left temple signalled the start of a headache as she leant back in her chair, sipping at a glass of water. She had been nothing but polite though, managing to keep her frustration under wraps when her points were overlooked or dismissed, and as lunch approached, she found herself feeling relieved at the thought of spending time with her family and friends. First she had another quick meeting with her Lord Chamberlain to organise a state visit from Lillian, which she knew Lena wasn’t too happy about, but as far as the rest of the world knew, they were a completely civil family, which meant that for appearances sake, they had to make an effort. Kara had decided on a garden party to enjoy the last of the warm weather before autumn well and truly took hold, and with her trust placed in her Lord Chamberlain to oversee everything went according to plan, she was finished with that meeting and filled with relief at the thought of a small reprieve for lunch.

 

            She was making her way through the ground floor of the palace when she bumped into Lena and Sam, a warm smile breaking out across her face as she walked over to them, her worries seeming to disappear at the mere sight of her wife, and even more so when Lena turned at the sound of her approach and gave her a loving smile. Stepping forward, Kara embraced Sam, warmly greeting each other - without the curtsies, much to her relief, as it had taken a while before her friend had stopped reverting to protocol in casual settings - and then she kissed Lena, who turned her head slightly to let her lips land on her cheek, inquiring about the art gallery as she fell into step with the two of them. Two guards and two assistants followed behind, leaving a respectable gap for privacy, and Kara threaded her fingers through Lena’s, letting her wife lead her towards their lunch.

 

            “I had them set up a table at the pavilion on the west side of the lake,” Lena said, not sounding very thrilled at the prospect of lunch, “I thought we could enjoy the warmth. It’s a nice day outside.”

 

            “Sounds perfect,” Kara beamed at her, a slight feeling of confusion welling up inside despite her sunniness, and she cast a quick look at Sam, who was walking on the other side of Lena and gave her a tiny shrug at the silent question in Kara’s eyes.

 

            Lena’s mood was drastically different to what it had been that morning, and Kara was unsure whether it was just her usual dismissive and curt manner or if something had happened. She didn’t want to pry in front of everyone though, because she knew that Lena was private enough with just the two of them, let alone with a retinue of people following after them, and she told herself that it was fine. They made their way through the warren of hallways until they came to the main one running along the back of the palace, taking a side corridor and heading towards the large french doors letting in bright sunlight and beckoning them out into the garden. Two guards opened the doors and Kara stepped outside into the warmth, the fresh air clearing her mind as she breathed in deeply. The air was strongly perfumed with flowers from their blooming garden, and the smell of the leaves starting to die and the murky damp smell of the lake lingered in the air as she stared out over the sprawling mass of green, orange and reds. The palace in the full bloom of summer was beautiful, but there was nothing quite like it at the start of autumn, where the leaves were just starting to change colour, but hadn’t fallen yet, and the flowers were still intact, clinging to the last vestiges of life.

 

            Turning left as they came to a fork in the paved path, they bypassed the lake and followed the curve of the path, passing by peachy roses and pastel pink dahlias, butter yellow daffodils and periwinkle bluebells. The garden was Lena’s pride and joy, even if for the most part other people took care of it for her, but she handpicked which flowers were planted there, and kept a collection of greenhouses further out in their sprawling mass of buildings and gardens on the vast property, to tend to by herself. Walking past neatly trimmed grass and extravagant topiaries perfectly shaped, they saw the white wooden pavilion hidden amongst a few weeping willows along the bank of the lake, their trailing branches creeping towards the water and obscuring the building from sight. They heard Alex before they saw her, her laugh ringing out as they followed the path, and a few moments later Kara laid eyes on her sister, trying to wrestle a branch off of the massive Irish wolfhound. At Lena’s sharp whistle, Aoife’s ears pricked and she tore the branch out of Alex’s hands, bounding over to her owner as she tore up grass beneath her massive paws.

 

            Alex looked over at them and seemed to freeze as her eyes landed on Sam, a wide eyed look of guilt crossing her face before a hesitant smile spread across her face. Trying to seem casual, Alex slowly walked towards them, fussing with the cuff of the silk shirt she was wearing, “about time. I was starting to think you’d forgotten.”

 

            “The traffic was bad on the way back to the palace,” Lena sighed, giving her an exasperated look, seemingly oblivious to the slightly tense edge to Alex’s smile.

 

            “Sam,” Alex said as she finally reached them, “I, uh, I didn’t know you’d be joining us.”

 

            “Neither did I,” Sam said, her smile just a little bit too warm, and Kara had to bite back a smile as she watched the two women try and act normal around each other so as not to tip off the royals. She didn’t think that Sam knew that she knew, and it made it all the more amusing to watch her try and stamp down the panic as they followed after Lena, who was making a beeline for the pavilion.

 

            Climbing up the steps, Lena took a seat looking out over the lake and everyone else gathered around, falling into conversation as a waiting staff member filled crystal glasses with sparkling water and a line of staff appeared, bringing an assortment of dishes and placing them on the table. Kara let them serve her first, eyeing the little quiches, tarts and vegetable dishes with interest, feeling even hungrier at the arrival of the food. There was a white wine as well, and she offhandedly covered her wine glass with a hovering hand as a waiter tried to fill her glass for her. Lena waved him on as well, both of them content to drink their sparkling water with little fuss, even though Kara knew that Lena quietly mourned for her late night martinis and old fashioneds in their sitting room as they unwound after a long day. She hoped it was made more bearable by the fact that Kara was encouragingly partaking in the new strict pregnancy diet - for the most part. It was a few more minutes before they were finished being served for the time being, and the staff all vanished into thin air, except for one waiter, who waited outside the pavilion with the bodyguards in case they needed anything. With the early autumn warmth and the sunny blue sky, they were content with their lunch, and fell into easy conversation as they picked at their food. Kara grumbled about the meeting with Cat Grant, Sam told them about the trip to Spain she was taking with Ruby in a few weeks, and it was Alex’s clumsiness that got her into hot water when she made a passing comment about remembering Sam mentioning it.

 

            “Huh, I didn’t know you were going to Spain,” Lena said, absentmindedly shrugged as she took a sip of water.

 

            “Yeah she decided on it when I was in Thorul with her,” Alex said, and Kara closed her eyes for a moment, hoping that Alex hadn’t just tipped Lena off.

 

            “Oh, Sam said you were staying at Kara’s house there,” Lena said, a mild look of surprise on her face, “I didn’t realise you went to her place to hang out.”

 

            “Yes, we, uh, well we were just at the same … party. Veronica invited us both to hers and we-”

 

            A puzzled look on her face, Lena frowned slightly, “Ronnie had a party? She didn’t invite me. I always get an invite, even if I can’t go. Have I done something to piss her off?”

 

            The table was silent for a few moments, and Kara shifted slightly in her seat, waiting for someone to react. She wasn’t going to tell Lena what they’d really been up to, and she gave Alex a pointed look, watching as a spasm of worry crossed her sister’s face.

 

            “I slept with Sam,” Alex blurted out, and Kara put her head in her hands, groaning at her sister’s blunt honesty. Giving Alex an exasperated look, Kara shook her head slightly, wondering why on earth Alex had taken her look as one encouraging her to be honest with Lena, on today of all days when it was so obvious that she wasn’t exactly in the best mood. Sam’s mouth dropped open in surprise, and she floundered for a few moments, trying to find some justification for Alex’s words as she gave Lena an innocent look.

 

            “Oh for fuck’s sake,” Lena huffed, “really? With my best friend? With my sister-in-law?” She turned her attention to Sam, who gave her a sheepish look, shrugging helplessly as she grimaced.

 

            Kara cleared her throat slightly, laying a gentle hand on Lena’s arm, “it’s fine, it’s none of our business, and it was a one time thing that changes nothing, right Alex? Sam?”

 

            She got a chorus of agreements from the two women, tripping over themselves in their rush to assure Lena that it didn’t mean that things in their perfect quartet had to change. The fact of the matter was that without Maggie, the four of them had become even closer, because Alex was more reliant on Kara, and Sam and Lena had always been each other’s confidants, and Kara knew that Lena wasn’t one to trust easily and treasured her friendship with Sam dearly. She could understand completely why it was more of a deal for her than most people when they found out that two friends had decided to hop into bed, because being wed to Kara complicated things further. If things became uncomfortable, their foursome would turn into alternating between time with Alex or Sam, and three was never as fun as four when two of them were married. If things surpassed uncomfortable and became tricky, it would mean having to choose between her best friend or her sister-in-law, and that would place Kara in a difficult place too, because of course she’d always pick Alex and of course Lena would pick her friend.

 

            But Alex had assured Kara when she found out that it was only a one time thing, and none of them were too eager to break the good thing they had going on. The four of them did everything together when they were in the same place. There were parties and holidays, lavish dinners at upscale restaurants and days spent out on somebody’s yachts. Ruby was a constant companion too whenever Sam brought her to visit or they decided to go to Thorul, and it suddenly clicked for Kara that of course Alex was always the one occupying the girl. She was a teenager now, filled with happiness and a wildness to her that Alex only fuelled, teaching her how to shoot when they went along with Lena, or steer the yacht and urging her to take up polo. Kara wanted to kick herself at the sudden realisation that Alex hadn’t just slept with Sam - she’d become an important figure in Ruby’s life too - and perhaps she’d been blinded with her preoccupation with having a child, or maybe she’d just assumed that Alex was too deep in her grieving for her lost engagement to Maggie to even look twice at another woman, but there was the inkling that she’d missed some signs.

 

            At the sullen look on Lena’s face Sam started to laugh, and then Alex and Kara joined in, finding the who situation too amusing not to, and Lena’s scowl deepened as she picked up a tart. “You’re all arseholes,” she grumbled before taking an aggressive bite.

 

            They quickly changed the topic after that, but Lena’s dour mood didn’t lift, not even at the talk of Kara having a free morning the next day to do whatever she wanted to, and she wasn’t very talkative for the rest of lunch. Kara was happy to let her brood over the surprising news, knowing that Lena wouldn’t be annoyed for very long, and she happily chatted away with Sam about her trip to Spain, giving her a list of a few places she should visit while she was there. They lingered in the pavilion as long as they could, their plates whisked away and a pot of hot tea brought out for them, but eventually they had to leave, Kara reaching out for Lena’s hand as they walked back towards the palace. There was another meeting - there was always another meeting - and Kara had a bit of time to kill before she had to head to her office, saying goodbye to Alex and Sam before she followed Lena upstairs.

 

            As soon as she made it into their suite, the doors shut behind them with a soft click and the thumping of an excited dog’s tail banging against the sofa as Aoife climbed to her feet and wandered over to Lena, and Kara stared at Lena’s back as she watched her wife walk across the Persian rug in the open space of their vast quarters.

 

            “What is it?” Kara asked, tilting her head to the side as she gave her a searching look, “you can’t be this upset that Alex and Sam-”

 

            “I don’t think that I’m pregnant,” Lena blurted out, turning around to face Kara with a nervous look on her face. "I know I've been in a shit mood, I just ... I didn't know how to tell you. I didn't want to tell you."

 

            Blinking in surprise at the sudden change of topic, Kara gave her a confused look of concern, “did you- did you take a test? I thought you didn’t-”

 

            “No,” Lena huffed, “I just … I’m not late. I don’t think it worked.”

 

            “Oh … well, we’ll wait until the blood test anyway, and if not then we’ll just- we’ll try again,” Kara said, giving her a hesitant smile and reaching out for her. Lena willingly went into her arms, burying her face in Kara’s shoulder as Kara tightened her hold on her, rubbing gentle soothing circles on her back.

 

            “I’m sorry.”

 

            Choking on a laugh of surprise, Kara pulled back, gently urging Lena’s head up and giving her a tender look, her eyes full of love. “Don’t apologise. I love you.”

 

            “I know you want this,” Lena murmured, her brow furrowing as she looked down at the necklace around Kara’s neck, fiddling with the pendant as she avoided Kara’s gaze.

 

            Kissing her on the forehead, the cheek, the temple, everywhere but her lips, Kara wrapped her in another hug, gently swaying them side to side as she let out a soft sigh. “I do, but you’re more important to me than a baby we don’t even have yet. Are you okay? Do you want me to run you a hot bath? I can have Jess go and fetch you some coffee if you’d like.”

 

            Extracting herself from Kara’s embrace, Lena gave her a tiny smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes, cupping Kara’s cheek in her hand as she ran a thumb over her cheekbone. “I’m okay,” Lena insisted, a firm look on her face. “I think I just want to lay down.”

 

            “Okay,” Kara murmured, giving her a slight smile, “come on, go and put your pyjamas on.”

 

            Nodding, Lena gave her a quick peck and turned around, walking towards the bedroom and opening the double doors. It was only early in the afternoon so their bed hadn’t been turned down yet, and Kara followed Lena in, removing the absurd amount of pillows from the bed and pulling back the covers for Lena to slip beneath a few minutes later when she’d stripped off her suit and changed into a pair of silk pyjamas. Looking down at her with a soft look in her eyes, Kara leant down and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead, before she walked out into the main room and then into her office, calling Lyra on the phone sitting on her desk and telling her to cancel all of her appointments for the rest of the day. Making her way back to her bedroom, she slipped off her suit jacket and climbed onto the bed, kicking her heels off and shuffling over to Lena, who gave her a surprised look.

 

            “Don’t you have meetings?” Lena asked.

 

            Brushing a few stray hairs out of her face, Kara gave her a loving smile, “ you are more important than any meeting. I’ve cleared the rest of my day. We can do whatever you want.”

 

            Exhaling forcefully, Lena turned her head slightly and let her forehead rest against Kara’s shoulder, “I just want to be near you.”

 

            “Don’t you worry, I’m not going anywhere,” Kara told her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and holding her close.

 

---

 

            Four days later Lena still had to go and get a blood test and confirm the fact that it hadn’t worked, and Kara went with her, standing in one corner of a room in the palace’s medical wing, watching as a tourniquet was wrapped around Lena’s upper arm, the spiderweb of her veins looking greenish against the pallor of her skin, and a thin needle was inserted into the crook of her elbow. In the sterile blandness of the monochrome room, the vivid redness of Lena’s blood was a bright spot of colour, and Kara watched as vial after vial was drawn and whisked away for immediate testing while a ball of cotton wool was taped to Lena’s arm.

 

            As a priority it wouldn’t take very long for them to get the results back, and they retired to a small sitting room near the medical wing, waited on with tea and freshly made biscuits while Kara amused them both by playing the piano, something she rarely had time for these days. Lena quietly read on a window seat, occasionally looking up to watch Kara absentmindedly play. It was a little over an hour later when there was a knock on the door, and the sound of the gentle music cut off as Kara’s head snapped up. Both of them climbed to their feet and walked out of the room, Kara’s hand pressing against Lena’s lower back as she ushered them down the hallway after the nurse that had been sent to fetch them.

 

            In the office of the head doctor, they seated themselves in the two comfortable chairs sitting in front of the desk, apprehensive looks of their faces as they waited for the doctor to tell them the results of the test. The woman bustled in a moment later, dipping into a curtsy and bowing her head, before she seated herself down behind her desk, a friendly look on her face. “Congratulations, Your Majesty, Your Highness,” their doctor said, giving them a genuinely warm smile, “the blood test came back positive. You are pregnant.”

 

            Blanching slightly, Lena stared at her with wide eyes, looking pale in her shock as she opened and closed her mouth a few times. “No. There has to be a mistake. I was spotting the other day.”

 

            Brushing aside Lena’s protest with a quick laugh, the dark haired woman gave her an understanding look, “I know it must’ve seemed like it didn’t work, but spotting can be common when the embryo is implanting itself. It’s nothing to worry about, and well … congratulations, it worked.”

 

            There was a few moments of silence, with Kara tightly holding onto Lena’s hand, trying to process the information as the couple came to terms with the fact that it had worked. Neither of them said anything, and the doctor just sat there, shifting awkwardly as she waited for some reaction off the royals, and Kara quietly cleared her throat when it became apparent that Lena wasn’t going to say anything. She was too busy staring at the wall behind the woman as they sat across from her at the desk. “Are you sure? Can we- is it too early for tests?”

 

            “Oh, well, um, it’s a bit early for an ultrasound, but we have the equipment here and I can perform a scan right now and confirm it for you, if you’d like.”

 

            “Please,” Kara nodded, giving Lena’s hand a quick squeeze.

 

            Turning to look at Kara with wide eyes, Lena blinked slowly, and Kara gave her a hesitant smile, her heart hammering in her chest at the excitement that it might be true, but not quite letting herself believe that it was. It seemed like Lena was going through a similar shock, but perhaps a little more frightening, seeing as she would be the one to carry their baby. Turning back to the doctor, Kara climbed to her feet, dragging Lena with her, and followed the woman out of the office and through the medical wing of the castle, stopping at an unmarked door and walking into the sterile room. They had virtually everything they could need for anything other than major surgery at the palace, and Lena quickly crossed over to the table, which was partially inclined to a slight seating position. Kara dragged a stool over to the table and sat down beside her, watching as a curtain was dragged across the room, on the off chance that someone came in, and Lena unbuttoned her pants, pulling the waistband down slightly to reveal the pale skin of her flat stomach.

 

            It was a few minutes of waiting while the machines were turned on and their doctor prepped everything. Warming the gel up slightly, the woman squirted it onto Lena’s stomach and then pressed the transducer against her stomach, moving it around in the gel until the screen showed an image on its screen.

 

            “There!” she triumphantly exclaimed, and Kara and Lena both stared intently at the monochrome swirl on the screen, an eager look on Kara’s face and a slightly more terrified look on Lena’s. “Do you see that black dot? That’s your baby.”

 

            “Are you having a bloody laugh?” Lena spluttered, pushing herself up more slightly as she stared down at her flat stomach and then looked at the screen. It was a hazy picture in white and black, and just off to the left was a tiny black dot.

 

            “No, Your Highness, I’m being completely serious,” the doctor said, giving Lena an amused look as she removed the wand and wiped the gel off the princess’ stomach. "You can see for yourself. Right here. There's definitely a baby in there."

 

            Kara let out a laugh of surprise, her eyes prickling with tears as she stared at the screen in surprise, and then down at Lena’s startled face, meeting a pair of wide green eyes, filled with shock and disbelief, and Kara knew her own face mirrored her wife’s. “It worked,” Kara said, giving Lena a tearful smile, filled with love and so much joy that Kara felt like she was going to burst. “We’re having a baby.”

 

            Giving her a look of wonder, Lena finally smiled, albeit a nervous one, with a dazed look in her eyes as she sat up and cupped Kara’s face, roughly kissing her before pulling back. Their foreheads resting against each other’s, Lena moved their entwined hands down to her stomach, letting out an incredulous laugh as Kara tenderly touched the slightly sticky skin.

 

            “We’re having a baby.”

Chapter Text

            The next week and a half passed by quickly with giddy excitement. They both quickly grew accustomed to the very real idea of a child, and they shared in that with Alex, Eliza and Sam. Kara knew that she should’ve told Astra, as head of her state affairs and her personal spokeswoman, but Kara’s relationship with her aunt was still somewhat tenuous. There would be time for more people to be looped in when it became necessary, and two weeks was still very early. Still, when it came for Lena to go on her diplomatic trip to France, to meet with the Prime Minister in Paris and make a public show of the strong friendship between Krypton and France, Kara was reluctant to let Lena go.

 

            “I can just send Alex,” Kara suggested, not for the first time.

 

            “Alexandra,” Lena sighed, still somewhat annoyed at her sister-in-law, “is not the crown princess of this country, and that’s who they’re expecting. This trip has been planned for months - I can’t just not go all of a sudden. They might take offence.”

 

            With a soft sigh, Kara gave her a sombre look, “but should you be going in your condition?”

 

            “Bloody hell, you make it sound like I’m dying,” Lena laughed, ruffling the fur beneath Aoife’s chin before straightening up and picking up her handbag.

 

            She was dressed in a shale grey suit with an olive coloured shirt, her makeup pristine and her dark hair pulled into a neat bun, and she looked as sleek and businesslike as usual, rushing around the place as she looked for her glasses and her purse, making sure her red lipstick was in her bag and checking her reflection in a small compact mirror encrusted with diamonds. Kara was dressed demurely for a meeting with the Archbishop, a duty that Lena was glad she didn’t have to subject herself to with her less than favourable view of religion, and she brushed a hand over the skirts of her dress as she climbed to her feet, picking Lena’s glasses up from beside the Russian novel she’d been reading the night before and handing them to her wife. Planting a grateful kiss on her wife’s cheek, Lena shoved them into her back and gave Kara a warm smile. At the serious look on Kara’s face as she opened her mouth to protest, Lena covered her mouth with a hand and cut her off before she could even say a word.

 

            “No, no, you’re not allowed to treat me like I’m made of glass yet,” Lena said, giving her a stern look, “not until I can’t see my toes and I’ve got a terrible waddle. Me and Princess Peach will be fine for a week.”

 

            “Princess Peach?” Kara laughed, pulling Lena’s hand off her mouth and giving her a bewildered look.

 

            “I know it’s silly, but well, we can’t keep saying it , can we? And I don’t want to name her because we already know it’s a her and naming her is going to be the most exciting part. If we pick a name now and call her that then it’s going to feel like she’s been here for months, you know?” Lena babbled, a mildly embarrassed look on her face as she tried to explain herself, her cheeks slightly pink and her eyes sparkling.

 

            Biting her lip as she tried not to smile, Kara gave Lena a look filled with pure love and took Lena’s hand in her own, giving it a slight squeeze. “I like it.”

 

            Raising their joined hands, Kara kissed the back of Lena’s hand, smiling against her skin, and Lena leant in to kiss her. She pulled away a few moments later and looked down at the expensive watch on her wrist, grimacing slightly as she met Kara’s innocent blue eyes. “I have to go. The jet is waiting for me.”

 

            “Call me when you land,” Kara said, “and eat as many croissants as you can for me. Also try not to get into too many debates, and stay safe.”

 

            “Of course, Your Majesty,” Lena smiled, wrapping Kara in a tight hug, “I’ll be back before you know it.”

 

            “I’ll still miss you though.”

 

            “I’ll miss you too.”

 

---

 

            She missed Lena even more than she thought she would, the vast bed feeling far too big for just one person to sleep in as she wrapped the silk sheets around her at night, sleeping on Lena’s pillows, which still smelled like her even after the sheets had been changed. Alex came to stay at the palace while Lena was gone, and Lucy was visiting too to discuss legal business with Kara, so her days were spent entertaining her sister and friend in between official business. The gardens were a beautiful array of reds and oranges, the wind creating ripples on the surface of the lake as it swept through the grounds, and she busied herself at the stables, checking on their prized horses, and wandered through Lena’s humid, flowering greenhouses, went to an art gallery with Winn and met up Veronica Sinclair one evening when she game to Krypton for a business deal. Still, all she could think about was Lena, wondering if she was enjoying her trip and taking it easy, and Kara wished that she had more time to call her, or better yet, that the week would pass by quickly.

 

            The day Lena was arriving back in Argo City, Kara arranged lunch at Sunstone palace with Alex and Eliza, deciding that a relaxing day with her family would be a welcome break from paperwork and meetings that filled her morning. She made special requests for the kitchens, making sure her head chef knew to make sure their were scones and other foods that Lena liked and were safe for her to eat. It was a relief when she finished her last meeting of the morning, locking all of her documents in the box in her office and taking a few moments to rest in her chair. It had been a full week for her and Kara felt exhausted, and would’ve liked nothing better than a quick nap, but she was also craving the lemon tarts that she’d asked to be served at lunch and that was enough motivation to get her up on her feet and making for one of the parlours at the back of the east wing of the palace. Along the way she was greeted with the sight of her wife materialising at the end of a carpeted hallway.

 

            “There she is!” Kara beamed at Lena as she watched her stride down the hallway, reaching out for her. Lena went willingly into her arms, and Kara was filled with ease at the safe return of her wife. “I missed you.”

 

            “I missed you too,” Lena murmured, drawing back slightly to smile up at her. Her eyes widened slightly and she drew back, “and … I brought you a gift. Here.”

 

            She pulled a box out of her handbag and opened it, pulling out a beautifully intricate glass blown bottle with some liquid inside, smiling as she sprayed it in the air before them. The sweet smell of sandalwood, freesia and vanilla perfumed the air between them. It was overpoweringly strong and Kara opened her mouth to reply when a wave of nausea washed over her. Turning, her eyes landed on a small milky white and cobalt blue vase on a mahogany table and she darted towards it, cupping it in her hands as she vomited into it.

 

            “Kara!” Lena exclaimed, rushing over to her and pulling her hair back for her while Kara drew in a shaky breath. She closed her eyes at the gentle feeling of Lena rubbing soothing circles on her back, and straightened up, clutching the vase in her hands. “Good God, love, are you okay? Do you have a tummy bug? Oh you poor thing.”

 

            Turning around, Kara gave Lena a reassuring smile, “no, I think it was just the perfume.”

 

            “The per- well you could’ve just said you didn’t like it! You didn’t have to ruin a Ming Dynasty vase! And I had the perfume made specially for you while I was in Paris. I thought it was quite nice,” Lena grumbled, taking the vase and handing it off to one of the nearby staff members, with a clear warning that its value was over a million dollars and it had better come back in one piece. Taking Kara’s hands in her own, she held them tightly and gave her a look of concern. “It’s just the perfume?”

 

            Sighing, Kara shrugged slightly, “I don’t know. I mean … I’ve felt a bit off all week. I think I’m just tired, and aching. I should’ve skipped pilates yesterday.”

 

            Making a pitying sound, Lena reached out and cupped her cheek, giving her a mildly concerned look as she stroked Kara’s cheek with her thumb. “You should take a break. How about for the rest of the day, we go outside and we have a picnic near the lake and maybe we can even take one of the rowing boats out?”

 

            “Sounds perfect, but I invited Eliza and Alex to lunch in one of the parlours.”

 

            “Sounds perfect," Lena echoed with a smile.

 

            Nodding, Kara gave her a loving smile, cupping her face in her hands and resting their foreheads together. Lena moved forward to try and kiss her then and Kara gently pushed her back, covering her mouth with her hand as she shook her head. “Sorry. I just really need to brush my teeth first.”

 

            Laughing, Lena darted in and planted one on her cheek instead, her eyes sparkling with amusement, and she entwined their fingers, slowly drawing Kara down the hallway. “I really did miss you, you know.”

 

            “I know.”

 

            Hand in hand, they walked the rest of the way through the palace, with Lena insisting that she was as well as ever, before she reported on her official duties in Paris, with the promise of future moaning when she had the chance to get into the details of her trip. Passing by gilt frames and expensive vases, old paintings and long Persian rugs, they made for a nearby bathroom, where Kara rinsed her mouth out, before carrying on to the parlour in the back corner, the doors opening for them as they approached, before they walked into the airy, white room. It was filled with plants, making the whole place smell fresh and like something that was distinctly green, and Kara immediately moved over to one of the massive windows, soaking up the sunlight that shone in through the large panes of glass as she looked out at the grove of orange trees and daffodils planted outside, making the room seem sunnier. Fiddling with the tassel tying back the pale yellow curtain, Kara felt Lena come up behind her, wrapping her arms around her waist and rest her chin on her shoulder, and she smiled, momentarily closing her eyes as she relaxed back against her wife’s chest.

 

            They were interrupted a few minutes later by the door opening and Jess announcing that Alex and Eliza had arrived, followed by the two women stepping into the room. With kisses on cheeks for her adoptive mother, Kara sat herself down, followed by Lena and the rest of her family, the four of them sitting around the round mahogany table laid with a crisp, white tablecloth and fine china. Footmen brought in the food, lining it up along the table beneath a large portrait of an old queen, before their cups were filled with an earthy dandelion tea, which Kara snuck a spoonful of honey into.

 

            Once the pleasantries were out of the way about how Lena’s flight back to Krypton had been, they all fell into easy conversation. Alex was off to London for a week next month, and Eliza voluntarily offered to go to Daxam on a diplomatic matter to meet with Queen Rhea, which Kara was endlessly grateful for. She was still mildly embarrassed about the prince’s infatuation, which Lena liked to tease her about, and which Kara liked to tease her about in return for her jealousy towards him, and she wasn’t too eager to go to their dry country to the south. Then there was the baby talk. It seemed like an inexhaustible topic, with Eliza gushing about her first grandchild, and Alex insisting that she be godmother, and talks of names and whether the baby would look like Kara or Lena with their mixed DNA. It was exciting, and Kara was eager to talk about it, although she was conscious of Alex, reading her body language to judge when her sister had had enough of being reminded of the fact that she wanted a kid and didn’t have one. Alex was happy for them both though, with an endless stream of questions. The latest was about Lena’s early pregnancy symptoms, which were surprisingly few beyond a bit of tiredness for now.

 

            “I’m fine, honestly. I’m more worried about Kara,” Lena sighed, “she had a bit of an upset tummy just before. Right into a Ming Dynasty vase.”

 

            “Oh, are you coming down with something sweetheart?” Eliza sympathetically asked, a look of concern in her eyes. “Have you been to see the doctor?”

 

            Kara laughed, waving away her concerns as she took a soothing sip of tea. “No, no, I’m fine. It’s just been a busy week. I’ve just been running around and not getting much sleep. I’ve been feeling a little queasy all week but I think that was just from worrying about what my wife was getting up to in another country. I’m surprised she didn’t cause an international catastrophe.”

 

            “Queasy? God, it sounds as if you’re the pregnant one,” Alex said, before she realised what she’d said and winced, “sorry, I didn’t mean-”

 

            “It’s fine,” Kara said, giving her a strained smile, her eyes creasing at the corners, “if the test hadn’t been negative, I might’ve thought that myself.”

 

            “Mm, that actually happened to an old friend of mine. She had a false negative and the next thing she knew she was taking another test and actually was pregnant, and was off to the registry office to tie the knot before people could start talking,” Eliza mused.

 

            Lena let out a humourless laugh as she gave them all a wry smile, “Sam skipped on a wedding for herself. She said she’d rather be a single mother than tied down to a boy she didn’t love at sixteen.”

 

            “It was for the best I guess,” Alex said, and the hopefulness in her tone wasn't missed by Kara or Lena.

 

            Kara bit back a groan at the slightly frosty look Lena gave Alex, and Kara quickly changed the topic. Lunch progressed without a fuss, and Kara loaded her plate with lemon tarts - not a usual favourite of hers, but she’d been in the mood for them all day and couldn’t help herself - and their teacups were refilled once more. There was a nagging thought at the back of her mind though, and she couldn’t voice it at the table or do anything about it until later that night.

 

---

 

            They’d spent the rest of their afternoon lounging about outside, with Lena sitting beneath a parasol and the other three women soaking up the sunlight as they amused themselves. At one point, they’d broken out the croquet, and Kara was barefoot, her feet sinking into the thick carpet of lush grass as she lined up the mallet with a little ball. She managed to get it through the little arch and held her hands up in triumph as she won again, curtsying at the smattering of applause from her wife, mom and the bodyguards and staff gathered nearby. Alex huffed as she rolled her eyes, insisting that Kara was cheating and challenging her to a tennis match, knowing that she was a better tennis player because they’d both taken lessons growing up.

 

            After a few matches, which Kara graciously lost, they sat on blankets on the bank of the lake, watching the orange light of the setting sun reflect off the dark surface of the rippling water while they sipped iced tea. Sometimes Kara missed not being able to be with her family all the time, and it was nice to be able to do mindless things while she relished in their company, feeling secure with the knowledge that she had people who cared about her. Alex and Eliza were staying the night at the palace, and it was just the four of them for dinner, slipping inside once the wind grew too cold and the sun had all but faded, leaving them peering into the darkening dusk as they listened to the crickets hiding in the bushed.

 

            Changing for dinner, they all ate in one of the lesser dining rooms, two glasses filled with wine while the other two held water, and the food was as good as ever, with the salmon cooked perfectly for their main. Each course was presented to Kara first, and she tried to take her time so everyone else could finish theirs before she decided she was done - it was a stupid rule, but very rarely did they not subscribe to the etiquette drilled into them from young ages - and eventually they were all full to bursting and retired to the drawing room. The rich smell of wood and leather filled the cozy room, with a fire lit in the grate adding the smoky smell of burning wood to the aroma while they played poker and billiards, Alex with a glass of scotch never far from hand and the soft sound of jazz music in the background.

 

            By the time they all said goodnight, the hour was late and Kara’s weariness was bone deep. She would’ve retired hours ago, to escape the tight dress and heels for the comfort of her silk pyjamas, but the thought of spending more time with her family was too good to pass up. Still, when she pulled the diamond hair pins out of her hair, she couldn’t help but let out a satisfied groan as she ran a hand through her hair, her scalp aching from the tight chignon her hair had been pulled into. She slipped on the pale blue floral pyjamas in the cool bathroom, removing her makeup in the spotless mirror above the sink, looking at the freckles sprinkled across her nose and realising that they were more prominent than usual, even after the fading summer that had turned her skin golden. The nagging thought from dinner came back as she observed herself in the mirror.

 

            Nausea, tiredness, aching, missed periods - which admittedly wasn’t unusual for Kara - and the slight bloating over the past few days. They all pointed in one direction, but her blood test had pointed towards another. Eliza’s words at dinner had made a flicker of unease run through her, and she couldn’t shake the thought as she pulled open a drawer in the bathroom counters, pulling out a pink box. A thing wrapped stick fell into her hand and she quietly shut the door, tearing open the packet and crossing over to the toilet. She knew she wouldn’t be able to put it to rest unless she knew the truth, even if the fact of the matter was that it had been a month since her last blood test, and six weeks since she’d had the fertilised embryos implanted. The chances of it being negative were very high, after all, the blood test should’ve picked up on the hormones if she was pregnant … but there was that flicker of hope and doubt, that maybe the levels had been too low. There was a reason why they tested two weeks after implantation, even if you could take a test at ten days and get a positive result. For some people, their levels were too low, or implantation was a few days later, and Kara couldn’t help but wonder.

 

            A knock of the door broke her out of her thoughts and she jumped slightly, looking up at the blank wooden door, still closed because Lena would never barge in. “Are you almost done?”

 

            “Yeah, just give me, um, three minutes,” she said, staring down at the stick she held in her hands. Quickly peeing on it, she flushed the toilet and washed her hands, before splashing her face with water and bracing herself on the edge of the sink, taking a deep breath as she stared down at the stick balanced on the edge.

 

            Reaching for her toothbrush, she started brushing her teeth to calm herself down as she waited for the time to pass, listening to the sounds of Lena talking to her from their bedroom. Kara didn’t want to cause a fuss where they might not be one. Spitting out the toothpaste a few minutes later, she wiped her mouth and took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she calmed herself down, before she opened them again, giving herself a hard look in the mirror, before reaching for the pregnancy test and picking it up.

 

            She stared down at the cross on the stick and let it clatter down into the sink as it slipped from between her numb fingers. It was impossible. Yet there was a positive test, so clearly visible from the white stick sitting in the stick. With a shaking hand, Kara picked it up and looked at it again, feeling lightheaded and more than a little nauseous, and she could hear Lena still talking to her from the bedroom, telling her about one of the dinner parties in Paris, but Kara’s ears were ringing slightly. “Lena.”

 

            “Honestly, you would think he had no table manners at all . I thought he was positively rude,” Lena babbled on, not hearing Kara’s quiet calling.

 

            “Lena,” Kara said louder, her voice surprisingly calm as she stared at her pale reflection in the mirror. She turned around at the appearance of Lena in the mirror, staring at her with wide eyes as she jerkily held the pregnancy test out towards her. Lena rolled her eyes as she walked into the bathroom.

 

            “Please don’t tell me you’re going to keep every little sign of this pregnancy. Ultrasounds are fine, but that has my wee on it and it’s not exactly cute memorabilia, darling. You can throw it away,” Lena breezily replied, waving a hand dismissively at the stick.

 

            “It’s mine,” Kara hoarsely told her.

 

            Sighing, Lena reached out and took it off her, her hand catching Kara’s in her own as she gave her hand a quick squeeze. Her fingers were warm and her eyes filled with sadness as she stared at her wife, but she still gave Kara a small smile. “I don’t think keeping them is a good idea either. Unless you-” Lena froze as she glanced down at the stick, cutting off mid-sentence. When she looked back up, her eyes were wide and she had a wary look on her face. “This is yours?” Kara numbly nodded. “When?”

 

            “Just now.”

 

            “It’s positive.”

 

            “I’m aware,” Kara dryly replied, her hands balled into fists as she tried to stop herself from shaking. She was surprised and still trying to piece everything together, and Lena was silently going through her own silent processing of the situation. It felt like an eternity before Kara cleared her throat slightly and Lena looked up form the pregnancy test. “I was thinking about what Eliza said at lunch.”

 

            “The nausea, the tiredness and aching. I guess it explains it all,” Lena replied, reaching past Kara to set the test down on the bathroom counters.

 

            And then she grabbed Kara by the shoulders and gave her an intense stare for a moment, her expression unreadable, before she wrapped her in a tight hug, burying her face in her wife’s shoulder. It caught Kara off guard and she started crying, returning the hug and sobbing into Lena’s shoulders. Of all the reactions Lena had expected off her wife, it hadn’t been sobs that wracked her entire body, and she drew back slightly, her warm hands lifting Kara’s face up so that they were staring into each other’s eyes. Letting out a shuddering breath, Kara stared at Lena as her tears were wiped away, and she took in the tender look on her wife’s face, her heart spasming slightly.

 

            Drawing her into another gentle hug, Lena rocked her slightly, murmuring about how they should see the doctor, and Kara nodded. It was a lot to process, especially after she’d given up, and Kara wasn’t sure what to think of the positive pregnancy test, but all she could think was that all the others had been negative and this one wasn’t. She’d done everything right; she’d given herself painful injections every day, prepping her body to be suitable for the embryo, and changing her diet and giving up some of her more strenuous hobbies, and nothing had worked. And then Lena had wanted to try, and it had worked, and Kara had subtly avoided doing things that Lena wouldn’t be able to do so as to make it easier for her. Soft cheeses, cured meats and sushi had been banned, and alcohol in the evenings and strong coffee in the morning was exchanged for water, and all the while, Kara might’ve been pregnant too. It was either a stroke of luck that she’d been selflessly trying to help motivate Lena, and in turn helped herself, or the test was a mistake, and she was getting ahead of herself and hoping once more.

 

            With a warm kiss pressed to her cheek, Lena slipped out of the bathroom, and Kara could hear her talking on the phone, before she returned a few minutes later, a pair of flat shoes for Kara and a thick knitted cardigan to wear over the pyjamas she was wearing. Gratefully taking them, Kara slipped them on and then let Lena take her hand, following her out of their suite and down the hallway as their night bodyguard followed along after them. Five minutes later they were in the medical wing, their mildly surprised doctor letting them into a room and shutting the door behind them. This time it was Kara on the angled table, staring at the screen of the ultrasound machine as cool jelly was applied to her stomach and she was prodded with the wand. This time it was Lena tightly holding her hand, an anxious unreadable expression on her face as she stared at the black and white swirl on the screen. And there it was, a little blob, but undeniably in there, and Kara felt like she was going to pass out from shock. She was six weeks along, and Kara numbly stared up at the harsh fluorescent lights overhead as her ears rung, taking shallow breaths of the antiseptic and bleach smelling room in through her nose as she tried to quell the feeling of fear and the wave of nausea. This had all gone disastrously wrong, in the best way possible. She was pregnant . She could barely stamp down her excitement, and she wished that she didn’t have to, but Lena was already pregnant.

 

            They didn’t linger in the doctor’s office, beyond surprised congratulations off the doctor, what Kara hoped was a reassuring kiss off Lena, and a quick printed copy of their scan. In a daze, Kara wandered back through the mostly deserted palace, not even registering the bows or curtsies thrown her way by the staff that quickly stopped and pressed themselves up against the wall at her passing. She was too busy staring down at the swirl on the paper with the little white dot, trying to understand how it had happened. She knew how it had happened, and they’d been given a brief rundown on false negatives, late implantation, and how everything should be okay, but she was just shocked at the whole thing. Kara had given up. She’d been defeated by the painful needles and Lena’s unwavering hopefulness - a rare thing to begin with, and somewhat tedious after a few months - and had resigned herself to the fact that cysts on her ovaries were going to make it too complicated to ever happen for her. She hadn’t realised that the last pregnancy test, and the last blood test, hadn’t picked up her very low levels of hCG, but nonetheless, the implantation had worked .

 

            She walked into the suite ahead of Lena, as protocol dictated, even if they rarely subscribed to what was right and proper unless in a public setting, and a moment later the doors were shut and Lena leant back against them, letting out a small sigh. Kara closed her eyes, pausing in the middle of the room and swallowing the lump in her throat. She couldn’t face her wife, who had been mostly silent throughout the whole thing, but the silence was killing her now and Kara had to say something.

 

            “I’m sorry,” Kara murmured.

 

            “Sorry?” Lena asked, her forehead furrowing in confusion, “why? I was right. It worked . And you know how much I love to be right.”

 

            Kara let out a surprised laugh, turning around to give Lena an uncertain look. “I’m pregnant , and so are you . This is … not exactly going to plan.”

 

            “When have things ever when it comes to us?” Lena sighed, pushing off the door and walking towards Kara.

 

            “What do you want to do?” Kara asked in a tiny voice.

 

            Reaching out, Lena laid a gentle hand against Kara’s flat stomach, not yet giving the barest hint at the baby growing inside her, and Kara looked down at the pale hand against the blue of her shirt. With a small smile, Lena leant up and kissed her on the cheek, “let’s go to bed.”

 

            “Lena,” Kara said, stopping her from pulling away, “what are we- how- do you-”

 

            “What’s wrong?”

 

            “I’m pregnant!” Kara exclaimed, giving her a wide eyed look of panic, “I’m pregnant and I’m not supposed to be, and now you are as well, and I’m supposed to be supporting you through all of this, but now I’m … what are we going to do?”

 

            Taking her by the hand, Lena led her over to the sofa and they both slowly sank down onto the stuffed cushions, angled towards each other as their knees knocked. Resting their joined hands in her lap, Lena gave Kara a soft look and smiled. “Well, first of all, you’re going to tell Alex and Eliza, and then we’re both going to spend a few months getting fat and then we’ll have … well I don’t suppose it’s twins, but we’ll have two princesses.”

 

            Opening and closing her mouth a few times, Kara gave exhaled forcefully when she couldn’t find the words to reply, and her eyes prickled with tears. A lump formed in her throat, and her heart seemed to swell twice its usual size as she gave Lena an adoring look. “Two. Two. Are you ready for two?”

 

            Running a hand through her hair, Lena shrugged helplessly, “I mean, we were okay with two, right? We both had two eggs for better chances, even if both of them might’ve implanted. I don’t think I’m ready for one yet, in terms of being handed a baby right now, but I guess … that’s the whole point in having months to get used to it. And well, this is what you always wanted. You wanted to carry our baby, and I spent months making up my mind about whether or not I wanted to do it if it didn’t work for you, and just because it has now, it doesn’t mean that I’m just going to not want to anymore.”

 

            “What if it’s three? Your hCG levels were high. Both of your eggs might’ve implanted and it could still be a bit early to know.”

 

            “Well if it’s three then at least we won’t have to worry about making sure our line is secure, and I’ll have the other three members for my royal polo team,” Lena joked, giving Kara a lopsided smile.

 

            Letting out a snort of laughter, Kara shook her head as she smiled at Lena, before she let out a quiet sigh and let her eyes wander. Silent for a few moments, Kara looked down at their hands and nodded, still stunned at the shocking news. “I still can’t- I’d given up.”

 

            “I know,” Lena murmured.

 

            “And now both of us. Oh God, the press will have a field day when this breaks. I’m going to have to tell Astra so she can make preparations - and she still doesn’t even know about you - and your mom is going to be asking questions. And-”

 

            “And you need to slow down, love, before you get too wrapped up in this. I’m barely even pregnant, and you’re only six weeks along. Just … take it slow. Don’t worry about the press or my mother, or your aunt. Let’s just keep it to ourselves for a while. Let’s just … go to Ireland for a week and enjoy it. We’re having babies, Kara! Two of them.”

 

            Lena’s voice was filled with awe as she spoke, and Kara couldn’t stop the wide smile that spread across her face, her hand subconsciously going to her stomach. “Princess Peach and …”

 

            Laughing, Lena rolled her eyes, “I don’t know … Princess Pea?”

 

            “Perfect,” Kara laughed.

 

            “Everything,” Lena murmured, kissing her on the cheek, “is going,” she punctuated it with a kiss on the forehead, “to be fine.” She kissed Kara’s other cheek and then slid off the sofa, kneeling before her wife and looking up at her with a shining look of pride in her eyes as she reached out and cupped Kara’s stomach in her hands. Brushing the shirt up, Lena leant in and kissed just below Kara’s bellybutton, making her wife squirm at the ticklish feeling of her warm lips against her stomach.

 

            They were both laughing when Lena pulled back, and Kara hunched over, cupping Lena’s face in her hands and giving her a rough kiss, feeling Lena’s hand on her stomach and her own going to Lena’s. It was going to be strange. They were both pregnant, and it was going to be maddening and confusing and neither of them had a clue about any of it, but in that moment, neither of them cared. It was just the two of them, laughing - half out of playful love and half out of the absurdity of the moment - their hands on each other’s stomachs and the thought of a family, and Kara couldn’t help but tear up as a wave of love washed over her. Everything felt perfect in that moment.

Chapter Text

            The next morning, Kara was woken up by a knock on the door, grumbling as she groggily shifted upright, rubbing her tired eyes and turning her attention to Lena, who was propped up on her pillows, a pair of glasses perched on the end on her nose as she finished off a book. She was already wide awake, her voice carrying across the room as she permitted Jess to answer - they didn’t have to ask to know who it was - and then she turned to Kara, giving her a bright smile.

 

            “Good morning,” Lena said, setting her book aside and giving her a gentle kiss as the door opened. Slipping off the glasses, she turned to watch the dark haired woman step inside and curtsy. “Good morning, Jess.”

 

            “Good morning, Your Majesty, Your Highness. It’s seven o’clock. This morning’s newspaper is waiting for you on the dining table; will you be having breakfast in the main breakfast parlour this morning?” Jess asked.

 

            Kara mumbled a vague greeting and smashed her face down into the pile of pillows as Lyra swept into the room, respectfully curtsying and greeting them before she pulled the curtains open and let in the dazzling sunlight. Listening to Lena’s reply, as well as a request for a bath to be drawn for them, Kara wrestled with the knowledge that she was pregnant. It hadn’t been a dream or a cruel joke, she was pregnant. She couldn’t help but smile as she stretched, her muscles aching slightly, and the sound of water pouring into the large tub reached her ears a moment later. As tired as she was, which now made sense, the thought of a warm bath and breakfast was enough to rouse her, along with the feather light touch of Lena’s fingers brushing against the silk pyjamas.

 

            “So … last night was definitely not a dream then,” Lena conversationally said, her lips tickling Kara’s neck when she leant down to kiss the underside of her jaw.

 

            With a laugh of surprise, Kara pushed herself up onto her elbows, giving Lena a look of awe, “can you believe our luck?”

 

            “Well we’ve never done anything by half,” Lena shrugged, giving her a wry smile, “I should’ve known there would be a twist.”

 

            “A good one, I hope,” Kara said, giving her a hesitant smile.

 

            She was over the moon about it, but a part of her was trying to keep her excitement under wraps, because no matter how much they’d wanted a child, this was a little different to how they’d planned it. It should’ve been one of them, and Kara was for from being ungrateful about the whole situation, but Lena was taking it surprisingly well and that’s what bothered Kara. Her wife was stoic and stubborn, with a strong flair for the dramatics, yet she’d been so calm about everything last night that Kara almost felt stupid for worrying. She’d wanted a child, and now they were having two. It seemed perfectly surreal.

 

            “Well it’s not how we planned it, but we should know that our plans never work out properly. I mean, I never planned to fall in love with you, and that was the most shocking thing of all. Anything else seems kind of … unsurprising at this point. And we were never going to have just one anyway, right? May as well get it all out of the way now.”

 

            “You make it sound like an inconvenience,” Kara snorted.

 

            “Well … I mean, not to sound ungrateful, but isn’t it? Being pregnant hardly sounds fun ,” Lena said, “I’m sure it’s a wonderfully meaningful experience, but I just know that there’s so much I won’t be able to do. I’d much rather get it all out of the way now so we can enjoy our family and go back to our normal lives.”

 

            Spluttering, Kara gave her an amused look, shaking her head slightly as she sat up and kicked the covers back. She was fine for a few moments as she stretched her lithe muscles like a cat, but then there was a twinge in her stomach and she all but fell off the bed, lurching towards the bathroom with a hand clapped over her mouth. Her knees hit the tiled floor hard, and she was dimly aware of the dull pain that would undoubtedly leave bruises, before she emptied her stomach into the toilet bowl. It burned her throat and she blinked back stinging tears as she gagged slightly, before practical hands were pulling her hair back and Lyra was asking her if she was okay. Lena was right behind her, shooing her away and gently brushing Kara’s hair back as she took the other woman’s place, and Kara wiped the back of her mouth, knowing her cheeks were red with embarrassment.

 

            “You know what, you’re right,” Kara weakly joked, giving Lena a grim smile, “this isn't very fun.”

 

            Snorting with laughter, Lena tenderly kissed her on her brow and helped her climb to her feet, flushing the toilet and nudging Kara towards the sink. The bath was still filling, no steam rising from the water, and they both lingered in the bathroom, going through their usual morning routine while Jess hovered in the doorway and Lyra made the bed.

 

            “Should I ask for ginger tea at breakfast, Your Majesty?” Jess asked as soon as Kara finished brushing her teeth, an expectant look on her face as she waited for instructions. “It’s been known to help reduce nausea. I could ask the chef to bake ginger biscuits and cookies too, if you’d like.”

 

            Clearing her throat as she wiped the back of her mouth, Kara turned and gave their assistant a friendly smile, “oh, no, it’s fine. Just a passing thing. I must’ve eaten something funny last night; I feel much better now.”

 

            Shifting slightly, Jess gave her a cautious smile, choosing her words carefully as she slowly spoke. “With all due respect, Your Majesty, I know about your current, ah, situation . Both of yours, if I may be so prudent to say.”

 

            Spluttering, Lena spat out a mouthful of frothy toothpaste and rounded on her assistant, her green eyes wide with alarm. “How?!”

 

            Ducking her head down, Jess shrugged slightly, “I’ve made multiple appointments for you with your doctors, ma’am, and then there were the pregnancy tests in the trash while Lyra and I were-”

 

            “Fuck,” Lena muttered, and Kara gave her an amused look.

 

            Apparently they’d both been rather careless around their assistants, but Kara was unbothered by it. They’d both known about the contract, which would’ve been a lot more damaging to their reputation than their joint pregnancies leaking, and she just carelessly shrugged. “Well, you both know protocols for our personal lives. There may be a few odd requests added to your duties, but other than that, things continue as usual, Jess.”

 

            “Of course, Your Majesty,” Jess said, giving her a quick nod before hesitating slightly, “may I offer my congratulations on the matter?”

 

            “Thank you, Jess,” Kara smiled.

 

            The other woman returned the smile and gave them a shallow curtsy before silently disappearing, leaving Kara and Lena alone in the vast bathroom, shutting the door behind her. Lena sauntered over to the tub and passed her hand beneath the running tap, quietly laughing as she shook her hand free of the drops of water and straightened back up.

 

            “What?”

 

            “Those sly buggers,” Lena said with amusement, shaking her head slightly as she glanced over at Kara, “they’ve known this whole time. The water is hardly even warm. We’re not supposed to have hot baths. And now that I think about it, there’s been a surprising lack of cheese on our tables.”

 

            “What’s the bath got anything to do with it?” Kara asked.

 

            Stripping off her pyjamas, Lena climbed into the tub, settling down in the water and resting her head back against the rim as she waited for Kara to join her. It was only a few moments before she’d let her own clothes puddle on the tiled floor and cross the room, her skin prickling with goosebumps, and slip into the water, which was just warm enough to be relaxing without it being hot. Kara suspected that she’d miss the hot baths with steam rising off the top if she wasn’t supposed to have them. The bath was so wide that they were both comfortable laying down, each angling to one side of the bath and letting the water soothe their muscles.

 

            “You shouldn’t be in water that’s too hot,” Lena softly sighed, her eyes closed and her fingers gripping the side of the tub as bubbles rose with the steadily filling bath. The water drummed against the rising levels, sloshing back and forth as they moved, and Kara smiled slightly at the comforting smell of rose water. “It’s not good for the baby. It makes your core temperature rise, and then there’s the risk of birth defects, of course, and it can lower your blood pressure too. We might have to postpone some spa trips for a while.”

 

            Kara stared at Lena with a mild look of surprise on her face, watching her wife spout knowledge as she relaxed with her eyes closed and her head thrown back. “Oh … how do you know this?”

 

            Opening one eye, Lena gave her a slightly smug smile as she arched an eyebrow, “those pregnancy books your bought.”

 

            “You read them?” Kara asked in surprise, her face lighting up.

 

            Scooting upright, Lena opened her other eye and gave Kara a soft smile, “of course. I mean, I read a few while I was in Paris - the flight was long - and I’ll obviously read the rest, but … yeah, I’ve been reading them. Of course I have, why do you sound so surprised?”

 

            A sheepish look on her face, Kara bit her lip, “ because I haven’t read them yet.”

 

            “But you’re the one who wanted to buy them!” Lena exclaimed, giving Kara a look of betrayal.

 

            “I know, but they’re so boring. I mean, I know I wanted us to be prepared, and we’ve got ages to go, but … do we have to read all those books?” Kara asked, an innocent look on her face.

 

            As soon as they’d made an official decision to start the process of having a child, Kara had insisted on buying a stack of books on parenthood and pregnancy that covered everything that she thought they’d need to know. She’d started with the dietary one to help make changes to their diet, but after that she’d been so swamped with work that she couldn’t even find the motivation to read them in her spare time. Apparently while Kara was filling out paperwork, Lena had dutifully dedicated herself to making her way through some of them. They thought of her taking this so seriously was heartwarming to Kara, and she felt a rush of love towards her wife, as well as the small guilty feeling that she should really try and read some more. After all, they were in this together now, in more ways than one.

 

            “Well I said we didn’t need them in the first place,” Lena reminded her, “what’s the point when the nanny’s will just be looking after them?”

 

            “For the last time, we’re not letting nanny’s raise our children!” Kara exasperatedly replied.

 

            “It’s not like it’s a bad thing!” Lena defensively replied, “people in our situations always let nanny’s raise their children. I had eight nanny’s and I- oh, okay, so we’re not letting nanny’s raise our children.”

 

            Letting out a quick laugh, Kara splashed water at her, shaking her head as she smiled with amusement. Spluttering at the dots of water flecking her face, Lena made a sound of indignation and splashed Kara back. Like little kids, they spent the better part of five minutes splashing each other, until they were both soaked and decided on washing their hair. It was the most normal Kara had felt in months, and by far the happiest, as she hugged her knees to her chest, letting Lena rub shampoo into her hair, her gentle fingers massaging her scalp. Everything was perfect. Somehow it had all worked out, again , and it almost felt too good to be true. After months of injections and doctor’s visits and disappointment, they were having two babies. The elation Kara felt was unparalleled by anything except perhaps the day she married Lena, knowing that they both truly loved each other. She assumed that holding their babies in her arms would only surpass that. Turning her head, she leant back against Lena and pursed her lips for a kiss, smiling when Lena laughed and leant down to softly kiss her, her soapy fingers caressing the side of Kara’s neck.

 

            They couldn’t stop smiling all through getting ready for breakfast. Kara would catch Lena’s eye in the bathroom mirror while she let Lyra curl her hair and find herself smiling as she watched Lena apply a deep red lipstick to her own lips, which would curl into a smile when her green eyes found Kara’s blue ones. When Kara slipped on a pleated navy skirt, she couldn’t help but smile when Lena zipped it up for her, her hand drifting around to her flat stomach to gently caress it for a brief moment. Neither of them could stop the tender touches and loving smiles, even as they walked down the hallway hand in hand, making their way towards the parlour for breakfast. Alex was already lounging in a stuffed armchair near the windows and Eliza appeared behind Kara a few moments after her own arrival, kissing Lena on the cheek and giving her a motherly smile before curtsying to her daughter.

 

            “What’s wrong?” Alex asked, giving her a wary look as she took in the barely controlled neutral expression on Kara’s face.

 

            Silently gesturing to their seats, Kara let hers be pulled out by a footman and seated herself, followed by everyone else, and let them be offered tea and coffee. A cup was filled with Earl Grey for her and she reached for the milk, adding a splash and stirring in one sugar. Lena took hers black and Alex and Eliza were poured fresh espresso into little cups. Waving away the waiters, Kara dismissed them and insisted that they would serve themselves - everything was already spread out for them anyway - and they were soon left alone in the little parlour. They were silent for a few minutes, reaching for the food prepared for them in heated tureens or silver platters. Scooping some porridge into a bowl, Kara added some raspberries and picked up her spoon, absentmindedly stirring for a few moments as she tried to calm her nerves. She wasn’t sure why she was so nervous - they already knew Lena was pregnant anyway. Taking a small bite, she set the spoon down and gently cleared her throat.

 

            “So,” Alex prompted.

 

            “Well you see ... we’re pregnant,” Kara said, giving the two women across from her a nervous smile.

 

            They both gave her expectant looks, little cups of coffee in hand and slightly raised eyebrows. When Kara didn’t elaborate, Alex rolled her eyes. “We know you’re pregnant, well, Lena- are you going to be referring to yourselves as pregnant, or was-“

 

            “I’m pregnant,” Kara impatiently interrupted her sister’s rambling. “As in me . Myself. Not as a couple.”

 

            “I don’t understand,” Eliza slowly said, “Lena-“

 

            Letting out an amused laugh, Lena gave her stomach a gentle pat, “it turns out my little peach is baby number two . We had quite a surprise last night.”

 

            “Wait, what? So both of you …” Alex asked, her eyebrows shooting up as she looked at them both with wide eyes.

 

            “Yes,” Kara said, giving her a wavering smile.

 

            “So you’re both-“

 

            “Yes!”

 

            There were a few moments of dumbfounded silence as Alex and Eliza stared at them both with open mouths, taking in the surprising news. It wasn’t exactly a common situation, although it was far from uncommon too, but it was definitely a first for a monarchy and Kara knew it was going to put them in quite the predicament with the press. One royal baby was cause enough for them to be the headlines for an entire year, but two, one carried by each of them, was going to be bedlam. If her own sister and adoptive mother were speechless at the news, Kara could only imagine what other people’s reactions would be, and none was more daunting than the thought of Lillian’s reaction. No doubt she’d have something to say about the matter. Right now, Kara was nervous enough for her own family’s reaction.

 

            Gently clearing her throat, Lena put her teacup down and primly folded her hands on the table as she leant forward slightly. “This is usually where we’d be congratulated.”

 

            Alex let out a loud laugh, a wide smile splitting her face as she looked back and forth between them. “Oh no, this is just perfect. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds. This is … this is just brilliant.”

 

            Eliza gave her daughter an exasperated look and then turned to give Kara a warm smile, reaching out to take her hands in her own. “I think what Alexandra means is that we’re so happy for you. Congratulations to both of you.”

 

            Smiling, Kara climbed to her feet, the other two women rising while Lena continued to dip perfectly sliced pieces of toast into the boiled egg she was eating. She was ushered to her feet by an insistent Alex though, and Lena resigned herself to hugs off the two women as well, while Kara practically glowed, a shine in her eyes as she seated herself back down at the table.

 

            Once they were all seated again, Alex gave them both an amused look, “I mean it though; Her Majesty the Queen - warm, calm, rational for the most part - and Her Royal Highness - cool, sarcastic and just a little bit dramatic? Can’t wait to see how the next eight, nine, months pan out. I might have to make permanent use of my rooms here so I can watch this all unfold. Hey, maybe you could do a reality show about it!”

 

            “Very funny,” Lena grumbled.

 

            “We’re keeping it under very tight wraps right now,” Kara said, shooting Lena a quick look, “so far only the four of us and the doctors know. I know Astra knew I was trying but, well, as far as she knows it didn’t work, and I don’t trust her not to tell everyone like she did with our engagement.”

 

            “Honestly, I don’t see why you still keep her around,” Alex sighed, “she’s nothing but a pain in your ass.”

 

            Rolling her eyes at the triumphant look on Lena’s face as Alex sided with her on an argument they’d had more than once, Kara grimaced. “She’s the only family I have-“

 

            “That’s not true,” Alex interrupted.

 

            “From my biological family, and she’s been an ambassador for Krypton for years. It wouldn’t do for me to push her out; she knows too much and it would start rumours circulating. Don’t worry, she spends most of her time in Daxam anyway.”

 

            “I wouldn’t be opposed to her being further away,” Lena disapprovingly sniffed.

 

            Sighing, Kara gave her a stern look, “I know, but she’s no threat, honestly. Besides your mother is our next door neighbour too.”

 

            “I wouldn’t be opposed to her being very far away either.”

 

            “I take it she hasn’t been informed her either?” Eliza politely inquired.

 

            “Not yet,” Lena hedged, a wary look on her face as she picked up her toast, “I’m hoping to avoid that conversation for as long as possible. You know how she gets when there’s something that can be exploited. Not to mention the fact that I’ve managed to beat my brother to marriage and an heir. Who knows, I might even be promoted to priority child number one.”

 

            Alex let out a snort of laughter and Kara grimaced, giving her an exasperated look. All she was hoping for was a smooth pregnancy, but she knew that was a long-shot with the dramatic nature of their personal lives. If her Aunt Astra didn’t cause any problems for them, Lillian undoubtedly would, and Kara didn’t want to admit it, but she was worried about what the stress of their lives could do to their babies. It had taken all this effort for her to get pregnant, and she’d immediately started taking some of Lena’s prenatal vitamins they’d hidden in the bathroom cupboards that morning so that she could make sure her baby was healthy, but there was a large part of her that was frightened. She didn’t tell Lena - her wife looked completely unbothered by anything, sticking to her strict vegetarian diet with her easy conception - but Kara was more worried than she’d thought she’d be about being pregnant. There was no denying her happiness, but there was also no denying her concerns. She just hoped that her glowing happiness right now was enough to cover up the anxiety she felt inside, because she knew she wasn’t that good of an actor, and Lena would see through her in a heartbeat if she let it show in the slightest.

 

            It was no good worrying though, Kara knew that, and so she told herself to enjoy the moment. With the first few symptoms of her pregnancy already starting to show - admittedly not very pleasant ones - she knew it was only uphill from then on, and she tried to relax as she listened in on the excited pregnancy chatter coming from the other three women. Picking up her cup of tea and taking a small sip, Kara smiled at the tug of excitement inside. She was having a baby, and she had a wife who loved her, who was also carrying their baby. She had a family who loved her, and everything she could ever dream of. With all of the surprises and bad news in her life, she deserved this happiness, and she vowed to take advantage of it while she could.

Chapter Text

            Two weeks later and Kara was feeling decidedly less excited. She was two months pregnant, and her morning sickness had fully kicked in. Every morning, like clockwork, she had to scramble for the bathroom, falling hard onto her knees and giving herself new bruises that she was grateful her stockings somewhat hid, where she proceeded to vomit while Lena held her hair back for her and rubbed soothing circles on her back. The worst part of all was the fact that it wasn’t just in the mornings, and Kara was outraged at the fact that she had to keep ducking out of meals and meetings to find the nearest bathroom. Lena had been particularly amused by her rantings about that, made even funnier to her by the fact that a little over a month into her own pregnancy and she was yet to feel any of the symptoms that Kara had been feeling around that time.


            In Kara’s case, she was getting more . In just two weeks, so many things had changed. She was hot and flustered all the time now, despite the cooling weather of the mid-autumn weather, they’d had to add gingersnap biscuits and ginger tea to their tea parties, her moods were a little more irritable than usual and Kara was starting to look and feel like she was bloated all the time, until she realised with startling surprise that it was the baby. The morning that her skirt felt a little bit too tight around her waist, Kara was struck with the sudden thought that she really was pregnant. It abruptly became a reality to her.

 

            With a hand pressed to her stomach, a slight frown on her face as she looked at herself in the mirror, Kara stared at her reflection. All of her clothes were perfectly tailored for her, each item usually costing more than was probably reasonable to spend on her wardrobe, which also meant that if she was bloated, she looked bloated. And if she was starting to show just the tiniest bit, then sooner or later people would start talking, and in the fitted pencil skirt she was wearing, it would definitely be sooner.

 

            As she brooded over her appearance, warm arms wrapped around her from behind, and Kara looked up from her stomach to meet Lena’s eyes in the mirror. Her wife smiled at her before she kissed along Kara’s bare shoulder, her hands and lips warm and slightly ticklish. “What’re you looking so worried about this early in the morning?” Lena asked between her gentle kisses.

 

            “My skirt is a little bit uncomfortable,” Kara sighed, an annoyed look on her face as she pouted, “and it’s one of my favourites.”

           

            “Don’t worry, you’re not even showing yet,” Lena assured her, “it’ll be at least another month before you’ll actually be able to tell. You just look a little bloated is all.”

 

            Huffing, Kara pulled herself out of Lena’s arms and gave her a betrayed look, “you’re supposed to tell me I don’t look bloated!”

 

            Lips curling up into a smile, Lena let out a quick laugh, her eyes lighting up as she reached out to take Kara’s hands in her own and pull her closer. “You’re turning into an awfully moody cow lately,” Lena murmured, stretching up slightly to kiss Kara.

 

            Pressing her lips together to try and stop herself from smiling, Kara gave Lena an unimpressed look, but it didn’t have much effect because her lips were twitching at the corners and her eyebrows were raised slightly with amusement. “I’m going to be the size of a cow soon enough. God, of course I’d start showing early, wouldn’t I? I’m going to need some bigger clothes.”

 

            “Might I suggest a mumu?”

 

            “What on earth is a mumu?”

 

            “You know, those dresses. The floaty ones. Make you look like you’re going to coachella or make your own soap. Entirely inappropriate for a queen, but you could be six months and the press wouldn’t hear a word about the baby. Although, you’d probably have a lot to answer for with the fashion magazines,” Lena said, looking more amused by the second, “which sounds even more fun. Perhaps I’ll get Jess to go shopping for you.”

 

            Scoffing, Kara rolled her eyes, holding Lena by the waist as she smiled, “not for you?”

 

            “I wouldn’t caught dead in one, darling,” Lena laughed kissing her on the tip of her nose before pulling away. “Now, I’ve been thinking-”

 

            “That never bodes well for me.”

 

            “That’s fair. Well, this time, I think you’ll like it. I cleared my schedule for the next two weeks. No meetings, no appearances, no lunches or dinners.”

 

            A knowing smile on her face, Kara reached for the pressed shirt hanging up on the rail in the massive closet, slipping it off the hanger and pushing her arms through the sleeves. She started buttoning up her shirt as she turned away from the mirror and faced Lena, watching her browse the row of pigeonholes holding her heels, selecting a pair to go with her plum coloured suit. “You want to go to Ireland.”

 

            Sitting down on the little ottoman, Lena slipped her shoes on and fluidly rose to her feet, walking over to Kara and brushing her hands aside as she finished buttoning the shirt up for her. It had an ascot attached to it, which Lena tied in a neat, loose bow, before running her hands over the ivory silk, giving Kara a hopeful look. “I do. I didn’t want to tell Lyra to clear your schedule just in case it wasn’t a good time for you, but I think we could both do with a break from the palace. You’re rarely allowed to leave it. We haven’t been in months .”

 

            Reaching out to tuck a strand of Lena’s curly hair behind her ear, Kara gave her a loving smile, “I’ll get Lyra to clear my schedule.”

 

            Face lighting up, Lena leant in for a kiss, and Kara smiled into it, cupping Lena’s face in her hands and gently caressing her cheeks. When they broke apart, foreheads touching as they both tried to prolong the moment, Lena gave her a breathless laugh, “so, when do you want to go?”

 

            “In the morning.”

 

---

 

            It was little trouble for them to drop everything and catch a plane to Ireland. It wasn’t exactly responsible for Kara to cancel so many appointments on such short notice, but one of the perks of being a queen was that she could do whatever she wanted to, even if skipping a state dinner meant that her lack of an appearance would cause a bit of a stir with the tabloids. Still, as she instructed Lyra what to pack in one of the expensive leather suitcases laying on the bed, half-filled, Kara’s thoughts weren’t on public appearances and meetings with people who ruined her country for her, but instead on the thought of a couple of weeks in the lush green countryside and the modestly sized house where they had to fend for themselves. It was always times like that, where she craved the urge to do things herself, that Kara realised how ridiculous she sounded. People would kill for the chance to have everything handed to them on a silver platter - quite literally that at meal times - and to her it felt almost suffocating sometimes. One of the things she was most grateful to Lena for was the small glimpses of freedom she offered Kara.

 

            Lena likewise looked happy to be leaving as she breezed into their room, Jess trailing after her, making noted on the tablet she carried in her hands as she listened to Lena rattle off a list of instructions. Aoife was trailing after her, tongue lolling and tail wagging, and Kara reached down to scratch the dog behind her ears when she bumped into Kara’s legs, seeking some affection. They had to leave within the hour, and Kara was already brimming with excitement at the thought of their time away together, although the fluttering in her stomach seemed more like the telltale signs of her queasiness than excitement, and she was a little apprehensive about the flight. An airplane toilet wasn’t exactly her first choice of places to be vomiting all day, not even if it was on a million-dollar private jet.

 

            “I just got off the phone with Sam,” Lena said as she sat down on the edge of the bed, leaning back on her elbows as she turned to look at Kara, her dark hair tumbling around her shoulders as she exposed her pale neck. “She wants to come and visit when we get back. I think she’s hoping you’ll be showing by then and we’ll be well and truly into baby fever mode. We’re going to be having bloody baby talk non-stop for the next seven months, I think.”

 

            Laughing, Kara raised her eyebrows slightly, “you already sound sick of it.”

 

            “Well there’s only so much to talk about when it’s not even a baby yet,” Lena snorted.

 

            “You’re so cynical sometimes,” Kara sighed, “aren’t you a little bit excited? I mean, you don’t even have any symptoms yet, so you can’t be that sick of it already.”

 

            “Of course I’m excited, you silly mare! And thank god I’m not vomiting every morning. Not that I’m glad that it’s you, but, well, maybe I’m a little bit glad it’s not me. For your sake, of course. I can’t imagine I’m going to be very fun to be around when it settles in.”

 

            Rounding the bed, Kara gave her a loving smile as she reached out for her, taking Lena’s hands in her own as her wife reached out and met her halfway. Pulling her to her feet, Kara gave her a soft kiss on the cheek, mindful of their assistants trying to invisibly pack their belonging for them in the background. “I always think you’re fun to be around,” Lena murmured, “and I can’t wait for us to go through it all together.”

 

            Laughing, her warm breath hitting Kara’s neck and making her shiver slightly, “you might wish you’d never said that.”

 

            “Never. Now, come on, you need to finish getting your stuff ready.”

 

            “Jess is doing it.”

 

            Tutting, Kara rolled her eyes, looking over at Jess, who was happily gathering the few things Lena would need to take with her. Namely, it was all of the prenatal vitamins and a few of the pregnancy books Lena was currently reading, because they already had wardrobes stocked with clothes that weren’t suitable for their lives at the palace at their house in Ireland. It didn’t take too long before their suitcases were being closed and their assistants were carrying them downstairs for the chauffeur to stow in their waiting car. Attaching a lead to Aoife’s collar, Lena laced her fingers with Kara’s and they swept out of their suite, acknowledging the maids’ curtsies with polite nods as they swept down the carpeted hallway.

 

            They left behind the lavish wealth of the palace for the cool confines of the backseat of the car, sinking into the leather seats with the knowledge that they would be free to say and do as they pleased for a couple of weeks. No trying to talk about their pregnancies in hushed tones, lest a lower staff member leak the story, and the freedom to wear jeans . It was the little things that made Kara feel grateful, although she’d never complain about what she did have. They’d both fought so hard to keep it - before they fell in love, that is.

 

            Soon enough they were in the air though, Hector and Vasquez sitting at the far end of the comfortably sized jet to give them some space. Feeling tired already, despite the fact that she’d only woken up a few hours ago, Kara stretched out alone the long row of leather seats stretching down one side, closing the window shades and making herself comfortable with a pillow and blanket that had been fetched for her by Vasquez. Lena sat beside her, a massive Irish wolfhound faithfully curled up at her feet, making her way through one of the pregnancy books with a pair of glasses perched on the end of her nose and a glass bottle of coconut water clamped between her knees as she read. Kara watched her for a while, memorising her so she could draw her later, even though she knew Lena’s profile by heart, before she drifted off to sleep. She woke up once, promptly vomited into her hands as she lurched across the close quarters of the jet, had to exchange the shirt she was wearing for the two sizes too short white shirt Vasquez was wearing, leaving her bodyguard in her undershirt and suit jacket, and then fell back asleep as soon as she’d cleaned herself up in the bathroom. Lena explained it to the two bodyguards as the strange air inside the plane, because of the high altitude. Kara wasn’t sure if anyone bought it, but she was happy to let the lie continue as she let Lena tuck the blanket securely around her, gently rubbing Kara’s arm until she drifted off to sleep again.

 

            The next time she woke, they were already descending into Ireland. Snatches of a deep midnight blue sky could be seen through the small windows, pinpricks of light mapping out the stars, and Kara groggily tried to shake away sleep as she buckled her seatbelt and watched as they were quickly plunged into the complete darkness of night. And then the lights of the small airport were cutting through the black and Kara shivered in the cold as they touched down, bouncing along the tarmac as the plane came to a screeching halt and they were jostled in their seats. It was a relatively smooth landing but Kara was starting to feel a bit queasy again and the change in pressure had made her ears pop.

 

            A car was waiting for them outside, and Kara hugged her coat to her as she quickly crossed the airstrip, an attendant holding an umbrella over her head, and slipped into the backseat, murmuring her thanks to the man holding the door open for her. It was drizzling slightly and tiny beads of rain misted on her coat, filling the air with the smell of something distinctly wet. Ordinarily she wouldn’t have minded, but she was tired and starving - they’d only had snacks on the plane, and she hadn’t been in the mood for peanuts, truffles or the exotic cantaloupe imported from Japan - and was in no mood to be shivering in the back of the car. Lena was beside her a moment later, muttering under her breath, before a massive dog was squeezing into the town car with them, filling it with the smell of wet dog. Kara was just praying that Aoife didn’t decide to shake herself dry.

 

            It was still a good hour or so in the car, driving through the narrow twisting lanes of the Irish countryside, pitch black without the sun and startlingly bright wherever the headlights swept over, and Kara was feeling slightly better as she dozed with her head against the window and warm air blasting out of the vents. Hector drove, carefully making the familiar trip to Lena’s house with ease, and Kara felt a rush of affection towards the yellow warmth of the welcoming lights as they made it to the wrought iron gates at the end of the driveway. They parted at the input of a code and soon enough the car was coming to a halt outside the front door and Vasquez pulled an umbrella out and sheltered Kara up to the door and into the welcoming warmth of the house, before going back to fetch Lena. An excited Aoife bounded inside, leaving wet footprints on the wooden floorboards, and Kara let out a sigh of content at the welcoming feeling of the comfortable house.

 

            “Oh god, it’s good to be back,” Lena moaned as she stepped inside, kicking off her shoes and dumping her coat onto a hook. She immediately went to help Kara with hers, a smile on her face as hung it up beside hers. Hector came in behind them with their cases, making his way straight upstairs to deposit them in the master bedroom, while Vasquez took up guard inside the closed front door. They’d make themselves scarce while they were here, unless it was necessary for them to have a guard, and Lena confidently strode through the house, making straight for the kitchen. “How about some tea? And pyjamas.”

 

            “Sounds perfect,” Kara happily sighed, turning towards the stairs as she listened to Lena fetch the kettle and fill it up with water.

 

            She took the steps two at a time, walking down the familiar hallway and bypassing Hector on the landing, who gave her a slight bow, before she walked into the bedroom. Everything was exactly like they’d left it last time, right down to the book Kara had left on her nightstand. It had been cleaned, of course, and someone had come to change the sheets and dust that morning at the news that they were coming, but it was nice to have something that remained unchanging even when they weren’t there. She went straight to the massive closet and pulled out a pair of warm pyjamas and thick woolly socks, fetching some for Lena as well and leaving them laid out on the bed. One of the best parts about Ireland was the comfort of everything. It always felt more intimate and relaxing and Kara loved it.

 

            Dressed in her pyjamas, she went back downstairs and kissed Lena on the cheek as she watched her finish making their tea. With a grateful smile, Kara took the cup offered to her and then picked up Lena’s, before carrying it into the smaller living room. It was their favourite one for intimacy - still a generous size, but smaller and cozier than the larger one - and a fire had already been lit in the hearth, giving off the welcoming smell of burning wood as she set their cups down on the coffee table. Pulling a thick knitted blanket off the back of the sofa, Kara curled up, a hand resting on her stomach as she thought about bringing their kids there one day. It was a nice thought.

 

            She was still faintly smiling about it when Lena returned, slipping beneath the blanket and covering her legs with it. She set a bowl of porridge down in Kara’s lap, and Kara looked up at her, holding the warm bowl in her hands and breathing in the sweet smell of the oats as her stomach grumbled. Lena always knew just what she needed, almost before Kara knew it herself. “What’re you smiling about?”

 

            “Oh, just that, you know, one day we’ll be bringing our children here. It’ll be the four of us. Quite soon actually. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?” Kara said, her smile growing as she looked to Lena.

 

            Her wife’s expression softened and she held a hand out, which Kara quickly slipped hers into, giving it a quick squeeze. “It sounds perfect,” Lena quietly replied, her eyes full of love.

 

            Sitting by the fire, eating their porridge and drinking their tea, they talked in hushed voices, making plans for the future and jokes about the silly ones, until Kara could barely keep her eyes open. The fire was already burning low in the grate, just smouldering orange embers, and Aoife was stretched out in front of it, looking up at them with wide black eyes when they called it a night. Slowly plodding upstairs, feeling perhaps even more bloated than that morning, Kara rubbed at her burning eyes, feeling like her arms were leaden, and all but fell onto the bed. Quietly snorting with laughter, Lena pulled the blankets out from under her and slipped beneath them herself, before she covered them both with it and switched the lamp off, plunging them both into darkness. Kara turned to face her, waiting for the gentle brush of her lips, which came a moment later as Lena blindly cupped her face in her hands.

 

            “Goodnight, I love you,” she whispered, and Kara hummed in content, smiling when Lena briefly rested her hand against Kara’s stomach.

 

            “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

            She woke up late the next morning, the weak sunlight already streaming in through a slit in the curtains, and Kara groaned as she reached out for Lena, finding her side of the bed empty and cold. Slowly pushing herself up, she looked over at the vacant spot and frowned slightly, blinking away sleep as she sat up, stretching her aching muscles and yawning widely. Her yawn was cut off by the lurching in her stomach, and Kara clamped her teeth together, clapping a hand over her mouth for good measure as she stumbled for the bathroom, the tiles cold beneath her feet as she burst into the room and made for the sink directly in front of her. The bitter taste of bile coated her tongue and she quickly brushed her teeth as she let the vortex of cold water rinse the sink clean.

 

            The door creaked behind her as Kara rinsed her mouth out and she straightened up to look in the mirror, smiling as she reached for a hand towel and wiped her mouth. Lena stepped inside as Kara turned around to face her, and cool fingers brushed her sweaty hair back from her face, feeling refreshing with her high temperature. “Good morning,” Lena murmured, a soft smile curling her lips as she gave Kara an appraising look, making sure she was okay.

 

            “Good morning,” Kara said, tenderly thumbing the curve of Lena’s cheekbone, “you were up early today.”

 

            “I didn’t want to wake you. You look tired, are you sure you don’t want to rest a while longer?” Lena asked, taking in the dark circles ringing Kara’s eyes.

 

            Shaking her head, Kara wrinkled her nose slightly as she smiled, “I think I’d prefer breakfast.”

 

            Stealing a quick kiss, Lena nodded, “of course, darling. What’ll it be? Bacon? Eggs? Pancakes? All three?”

 

            “Bacon, yes,” Kara agreed, “god, I feel like I could eat a whole pig.”

 

            “Come on,” Lena laughed, plucking the toothbrush out of her hand and setting it down in the little holder.

 

            Lacing her fingers with Kara’s she gently led her out of the bathroom, through the bedroom and out into the hallway. The floorboards were cold beneath her bare feet as she let Lena lead her towards the stairs, a few steps creaking as they descended through the house. It was so peacefully quiet, and Kara relished the fact that they were alone, for the most part, left to their own devices as they made their way into the kitchen. Their cupboards had been fully stocked for their visit, and they began to pull out boxes and packets from everywhere as they fell into companionable teamwork. At one point, Lena turned on a small radio, tuning it into the nearest station and filling the room with the staticky sound of thick Irish brogues that Kara could hardly follow. A moka pot sat on the stove top, brewing fresh coffee - the one cup they would allow themselves per day - and Kara scrambled eggs in a large skillet while Lena mixed flour, eggs and milk in a bowl, a light dusting of white on the front of her pyjamas. Aoife sat on the fringes of the busy kitchen, tail wagging as the smell of cooking food filled the large room, taking the edge off the chill as they made breakfast.

 

            Soon enough, they were sitting at a table for two in a conservatory overlooking the gardens behind the house. It was like a glass box, and so cold that they each had to fetch thick dressing gowns and woolly socks to sit near out there, staring out at the red and orange leaves crowding the medley of trees, and the neat flowerbeds of varying plants, tended to by the groundskeeper. They would undoubtedly be going for a walk through them later on, and Kara made a note to take her sketchbook with her. For now, they sat in the weak late morning sunshine streaming in through a dozen windows, eating eggs and toast and pancakes, with a heaping plate of crispy bacon for Kara, who slipped a few rashers beneath the table for the grey dog waiting at her feet. She felt marginally better with a full stomach, even if she still felt like she could use a quick nap, although she knew that it was just a side effect of her pregnancy - one which Lena was yet to exhibit.

 

            In fact, her wife seemed much the same as always, with her brusque attitude and casual indifference. She drank her coffee with a healthy dose of milk now, and not quite as strong, was as strict in her vegetarian diet as she had been the day Kara had entered her false courtship with her, and still rose at the crack of dawn on most days. A few weeks earlier than Kara, and she was showing no nausea - which she surely would’ve complained of if she had - had yet to start darting off to the bathroom what felt like every few minutes to use the toilet, or complain about aches and pains. Kara was quite offended at the way that Lena seemed to be going through the early weeks of her pregnancy. If Kara hadn’t seen it on a scan herself, she would’ve doubted the truth of the matter. There were no signs at all, except for the fact that there was a baby growing inside her wife. It had only been a few weeks, and she was still trying to come to terms with the fact that they were both having babies. It was a strange thought to think that they would have two princesses in a little over half a year.

 

            “What’s got you so lost in thought, hm?” Lena asked, shaking Kara out of her musings.

 

            Shrugging as she set down her coffee, Kara gave her a searching look, “are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

 

            “Of course I’m sure,” Lena scoffed, her brow creasing slightly, “why? What’s wrong?”

 

            “Nothing’s wrong , it’s just … you’ve been looking after me, and I don’t want you to think that you’re not allowed to be, well, pregnant. I know I’ve got morning sickness now, but are you sure you’re not starting to feel it? I want to look after you too. We’re in this together.”

 

            Quietly laughing, Lena reached out across the table, holding her hand open for Kara to take it, and gently ran her thumb across Kara’s knuckles. “Yes, we’re in this together. Of course we are, I know that you silly mare, but I really am fine . As fine as one can be when they know they’ve got … well, I suppose mine’s like a tadpole right now. Not much is happening right now. Princess Pea on the other hand has got webbed fingers and toes right about now.”

 

            “Tadpoles and webbed fingers? You’re making it sound like we’re having frogs, not babies,” Kara spluttered, a vaguely amused look on her face.

 

            “Well it’s not a baby yet, is it?” Lena reasonably argued, “give it another couple of months and it might start looking like one. Just think, our next scans will have heartbeats. I suppose that will be exciting.”

 

            “You’re so nonchalant sometimes,” Kara sighed, shaking her head as she gave Lena an amused look. “Are you going to stay this way the whole time? What about when they’re born?”

 

            Flashing her a smile as she arched an eyebrow, Lena took a bite of toast with a generous spread of apricot jam spread across it. “If I stay this indifferent through pushing a child out of me, I think you might have married a sociopath, darling. And I suppose when they’re born … they might be cute, I guess.”

 

            “Might? What, you think we’re going to have ugly kids now?” Kara laughed.

 

            “Not to be arrogant, but have you seen me? Have you seen you? Have you seen our fortune?” Lena laughed, “it’s probably impossible for us to have ugly children, but if we do - if - then I don’t know, we buy them a plastic surgeon and a fashion designer. I mean, what can’t you buy with money these days? Half of Hollywood had the same treatment. When they’re born … that’s another matter though. You know when they come out all gross? I’m not touching them until they’ve had a good wash and actually look human .”

 

            Choking on a laugh, Kara gave her wife an incredulous look. “Lena!”

 

            Gesturing helplessly, Lena gave her a wide-eyed look, “what?! Do you want to hold a baby that’s covered in blood and other nasty goo?”

 

            “I mean, no , but-”

 

            “See!”

 

            “But , I want to hold my baby - our baby,” Kara said, her face lighting up and her eyes misty-eyed as she envisioned it. “I can picture it. It’s me first. It all goes well and she’s tiny and perfect, and she fits into my arms like they were made to hold her. Sometimes she looks like me and sometimes she looks like you. And we have a couple of weeks with her, just the three of us, and you like to hold her while you rest because your stomach is too big and you can’t do anything anymore. And then you have our little peach. And I’m right there the whole time, and I watch them lay her across you and I know that I’ll be crying, and you’ll be crying, and then there’s four of us. I don’t think about the gross parts. I think about what it’ll be like when we have our little family.”

 

            Lena was quiet for a few moments as she stared at Kara, leaning back in her chair slightly as she gave her a piercing look, her lips curling up at the corners in a faint smile. “Are you trying to make me seem like a stone-cold bitch?” she laughed, before she fell quiet again, letting out a gentle sigh as her expression softened. “I think about that too.”

 

            “You- you do?”

 

            “Of course I do. And I think about after. Whether they’ll have my eyes or yours, and whose hair they’ll have. Whether they’ll like piano like you, or falconry like me. What they’ll be scared of, and whether they’ll like being princesses or want something more . If they’ll pronounce things like me or you, and if they’ll like it when we bring them here. I think about whether I’ll be a good mom. What it’ll be like teaching them how to walk, and what their first words will be. I think about a whole lifetime with them, watching the grow up with a family that I didn’t have. And what we’ll name them - I imagine you’d want to name one after your mom - and I worry about protecting them from it all too. I’ve never worried about it before because it’s always been easy to ignore, but I worry about them growing up in the spotlight, and it’s strange because I’ve never been a worrier. That’s always been you. And the only thing I’ve ever worried about is you falling out of love with me, but … I’m not even a mom yet and I’m worried. I can protect myself, but it’s scary just how much this is dependant on me.”

 

            She had one hand on her stomach beneath the table as if she was protectively shielding her unborn child, and Kara gave her a tender look, setting down her coffee cup and reaching out for her. With a quick raise of her eyebrows, Lena balled the napkin draped across her lap into a ball and set it down next to her half-eaten breakfast, before she slowly pushed her chair back and rose to her feet. Rounding the small table she dropped down into Kara’s lap. Tilting her head back, her hands cradling Lena’s waist, Kara pursed her lips as she gave her wife an expectant look. Shaking her head as she let out a quiet laugh, Lena gave her a slow kiss, and Kara could hear her heart pounding in her ears. It was beating a lot faster these days.

 

            “I love you,” Kara murmured against her lips.

 

            “Mm, I love you too, Now, if you’re finished with breakfast, how about a bath?”

 

            Tangling her fingers in Lena’s hair as she brushed it out of her face, Kara gave her a chaste kiss, “how about you go and start running it and I’ll clean up down here.”

 

            “Don’t take too long,” Lena whispered, climbing off Kara’s lap and making her way back into the house.

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara started clearing away their plates, feeding scraps to Aoife and finishing off the rest of the bacon, before she neatly stacked the dishwasher and cleaned up the mess they’d made cooking. They rarely cooked themselves - only when they were in Ireland - and they weren’t exactly good , but they loved to muddle their way through basic recipes from some of the cookbooks Lena had in the kitchen. Kara was already wondering what they were going to have for lunch. Hopefully something with pickles - she really felt like pickles for some reason. Washing down the counters as she let her mind wander, she quickly finished up tidying up the kitchen, before opening one of the doors leading out to the backyard, letting Aoife out for some fresh air in the garden, and made her way upstairs to join Lena in the bath.

 

            She could barely see her wife’s dark hair amongst the sheer amount of bubbles in the large tub, and Kara snorted with laughter as she stripped off her dressing gown, safely hanging it up on the bathroom door, before stripping off her pyjamas and walking over to the bath. Lena gave her a bright smile, carving furrows in the bubbles as she lay with her head against the rim of the porcelain tub, dark hair piled up onto the top of her head while stray strands clung to her damp skin. Raising her eyebrows slightly, Kara hesitantly dipped her toe in, before the rest of her followed and she sank into the mountain of foam, laughing as the water sloshed back and forth and she was enveloped in the soothing warmth of it.

 

            “Ugh, I love this bath,” Kara sighed, a content smile on her face as she stretched her legs out, her arms draped around the rim of the tub and basked in the faint smell of vanilla from the bath salts Lena must’ve added to it.

 

            “Mm, it always reminds me of the first time we came here in love,” Lena murmured, letting out a wistful sigh, “I wish I had that glass of wine now though. God I could murder a bloody drink.”

 

            Giving her an exasperated look, Kara nudged Lena’s leg with her foot, “feeling stressed?”

 

            “No, I just miss my whiskey,” Lena complained, pouting slightly, “this is the longest I’ve gone without drinking since I was sixteen.”

 

            “The legal drinking age is twenty-one. And Ireland’s is eighteen.”

 

            “What’s your point?”

 

            Kara opened her mouth to reply when a ringing noise started coming from her dressing gown, and she glanced over at it, before turning her attention back to Lena. Reaching over the side of the bath she picked up a fresh bar of pomegranate scented soap and slid closer to Lena, ignoring the ringing until the call ended. Slowly, she kissed Lena while lathering up the soap, carefully rubbing it into her skin as she washed her, interspersing her gentle touches with even gentler kisses scattered over her neck, jaw and shoulders. Trying to keep still, Lena would occasionally squirm as Kara’s hands hit a ticklish spot, and she breathlessly laughed. The phone rang again while Lena was returning the favour, her fingertips running over the bumps of Kara’s spine and ribs, the side of her waist and her slightly bloated stomach. They ignored all of the calls as they took their time, until the water was nearly cold and their fingertips had started to wrinkle. Wrapped in a fluffy towel, Kara was brushing her damp hair when her phone started ringing again. With a heavy sigh she walked over to the door and fished her phone out of the dressing gown pocket, groaning when she read the name on the screen, but accepting the call nonetheless.

 

            “Aunt Astra,” she curtly greeted her.

 

            “You Majesty,” her aunt replied, her voice coloured by her impatience, “thank you for picking up.”

 

            “Sorry, I’ve been indisposed,” Kara brusquely replied, not feeling particularly warm towards her aunt at that particular moment.

 

            She loved her and appreciated Astra’s work in her name, but Kara was still somewhat bitter at her aunt’s easy betrayals of her trust, and Kara found it difficult to be as warm towards her as she used to be. In the early days of her reign she’d relied heavily upon her, especially to help plan and arrange things with Lena so that they could convincingly portray their relationship, but it had become apparent to Kara that she was nothing more than a puppet being guided by her dead parents’ wishes and her aunt and Lillian’s plans. The closer she’d become to Lena, the more she had realised that, and the further she had withdrawn from her aunt’s plans, only for Astra to leak private information to try and gain some control over Kara’s life once more. It hadn’t sat well with her, and she had been hesitant to be so trusting since then, even if she enjoyed her fleeting visits whenever they occurred. They were few and far between, which was not uncommon, considering the fact that she had been a passing figure in Kara’s life since the death of her parents.

 

            Kara stared at her reflection in the mirror, watching as Lena came up behind her, wrapping her arms around her from behind and placing a hot kiss to the side of her neck. “I’m about to be indisposed again,” Kara said, feeling her stomach lurch and her heart rate pick up, feeling a little hot despite the coldness of the tiled bathroom. “Is it urgent? Or can I call you back another time, when I’m free?”

 

            “It’s urgent.”

 

            “What is it?” Kara asked, an anxious note in her voice that made Lena pause her trail of kisses leading down her neck and across her shoulder.

 

            “I’ve been informed you’re in Ireland at the moment.”

 

            “And what of it?”

 

            Astra made a sound of disapproval, sighing before she replied. “It’s come to my attention that you’re no longer going to the clinic. You or Lena. I was hoping that perhaps there was something for you to tell me. A reason for your vacation. Perhaps a ... celebration?”

 

            “If there was something I wanted to share with you, you wouldn’t have to ask,” Kara snarkily replied.

 

            “So you’re not … you know,” Astra hedged, dancing around outright asking.

 

            “What’s she saying?” Lena asked, mumbling against Kara’s skin.

 

            Pulling the phone away from her ear, Kara pressed it against the towel, muffling the sound of her voice as she whispered to Lena. “She wants to know if one of us is pregnant.”

 

            Snorting with laughter, Lena took the phone off her and gave Kara a quick wink, before leaning against the sink and pressing the phone to her ear. Biting back a groan, Kara ran a hand through her damp hair, giving Lena a warning look. She knew her wife’s temper could get the better of her sometimes if someone irritated her too much, and Kara had a feeling that if Astra pushed her even the slightest, Lena would bite back immediately. Still, she couldn’t help but think that maybe that would be a good thing - maybe her aunt would stop prying into their marriage if Lena lost her composure and bit her head off.

 

            “Astra. Hi. Yes, Kara’s still here. Well, you see- no. No. I think you should remind yourself of where your place is. It’s not any of your concern. If the Queen has something to share with you, she’ll do so when she feels like it. Not when you wish to know.”

 

            She hung up without another word, and Kara assumed she didn’t let Astra reply before hanging up. Giving Kara a bright smile, having thoroughly enjoyed herself by the look of things, Lena handed her the phone and pecked her on the cheek.

 

            “What did she say?”

 

            “Nothing much. Just said she was anxious to know about the continuation of the royal line. Wanted to express her interest into her only niece’s life. Was hoping that we could all have tea when she visits, which is apparently going to be soon. Not that you can’t, but I’d prefer if you could leave me out of that one, darling,” Lena said, giving Kara a lopsided smile. “Now, you said that we were about to be indisposed? Because I have my own ideas about what that means, but I’d like to know for sure.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Kara kissed her, cupping her cheeks in her hands as she smiled into it. “Get in bed.”

 

            “Are you tired again? Is it nap time?” Lena teased her, one eyebrow quirking up as she smirked.

 

            “You’re hilarious,” Kara dryly replied, turning her around and giving her a gentle nudge towards the door, but not before she pulled the towel Lena had wrapped around her. At the yelp of surprise and the accusing look Lena threw her way as she half-turned, wrapping her arms around herself as her skin rippled with goosebumps, Kara laughed. “Keep walking. I like to watch you leave.”

 

            Giving her a mocking bow with a flourish, Lena flipped her off and turned back around, walking into their bedroom. “You’re turning into a tyrant, Your Majesty.”

 

            “I can’t let you be in charge all the time,” Kara said, pushing off the counter and following after her, letting her own towel drop to the tiled floor. Giving Lena a mocking smile, she gave her a teasing kiss, before kissing along her jaw and up to her earlobe, pressing a hot kiss in the hollow behind her ear before she laughed. “Should I remind you where your place is?”

 

            Lena didn’t think it was funny having her words used against her, in fact, she looked like she found it very exasperating, but she couldn’t help but smile as she rose to her feet, surprising Kara, and wrapped her arms around her wife’s neck, her skin warm to the touch. “I don’t need reminding,” Lena scoffed, “it’s right beside you.”

Chapter Text

            “Are we getting out of bed today?” Lena asked, pressing a kiss to Kara’s shoulder.

 

            Laying on her stomach, her hair fanning around her head in a golden halo, Kara hummed into the pillow, enjoying the feeling of Lena’s warm hands and lips on her bare skin. It was nearly lunchtime, and aside from a quick trip downstairs to get bowls of cereal for her and Lena, as well as a packet of Ritz crackers and some blueberries for herself. They’d had hot chocolate in bed, courtesy of Lena, and if her wife had any thoughts about Kara precariously balancing blueberries on top of the crackers, she kept them to herself as she silently watched. They hadn’t moved since then though, wrapped up in the warmth of each other’s embrace and the layers of heavy blankets, talking as they watched TV and occasionally drifted in and out of sleep.

 

            “No,” came Kara’s muffled reply, “I’m staying here forever.”

 

            With a snort of laughter, Lena hovered over her, her long hair tickling Kara’s back, before she settled down on top of her, squishing her into the mattress and pile of pillows as Kara laughed. “As much as I’d love to keep you prisoner in our bed, we do have to go back tomorrow,” Lena quietly said in Kara’s ear, her warm breath tickling her. “And you do have to get out of bed sometime today. I have a surprise for you.”

 

            Pushing them both up, Kara wriggled beneath Lena, until she was flat on her back with Lena sitting in her lap. Looking up with raised eyebrows and an expectant look on her face, Kara smiled, “a surprise? What is it?”

 

            Laughing, Lena leant down and gave her a lingering kiss, before drawing back and giving her a teasing smile. “Well the point in it being a surprise means you’ll have to wait and see.”

 

            “I hate surprises.”

 

            “Tough.”

 

            “Did you know that I’m the Queen?”

 

            “Really? I hadn’t heard,” Lena dryly replied.

 

            Sitting up, Kara brushed Lena’s hair out of her face and gave her an amused look, leaning in to kiss her shoulder. “Well, you see,” Kara said, kissing the hollow of Lena’s collarbone, “I have my own country. And people have to do what I say. Because I’m the boss lady - figuratively speaking - so … you have to tell me, or it’s treason.” She kissed a path up Lena’s neck, starting at the v at the bottom of her throat, all the way up to the sharp angle of her jawline, before cupping Lena’s face in her hands and crushing their lips together.

 

            Laughing into the kiss, Lena pushed herself back slightly, “you know, I don’t think that’s technically how it works.”

 

            “No? Well then, how about you tell me anyway.”

 

            A thoughtful look of deliberation on her face, Lena pursed her lips slightly, glancing up at the crown molding of the airy bedroom, before she looked down at Kara and gave her a wide smile. “No,” she firmly replied, laughing as Kara flopped back down onto the pillows, her arms spread wide open as she sulked.

 

            Her hands pressing into the pillows on either side of Kara’s head, Lena hovered over her, her lips curled up into a smile as her green eyes sparkled with mischief, and Kara groaned as she laughed, closing her eyes. “You’re such a tease.”

 

            She opened her eyes again to stare up at Lena, her heart leaping slightly at the sight of her messy haired, wild-eyed wife, with her teasing smile, and Kara drew her down to kiss her. They stayed in bed for a little while longer, until Kara’s stomach started rumbling mid-kiss and she let out an embarrassed laugh, shrugging as she gave Lena a helpless look when her wife drew back. Joining in on her laughter, Lena glanced down at Kara’s stomach, now looking even more bloated after two weeks tucked away in Ireland, and she slid down the bed, propping her chin up in her hand and reaching out with her other hand to gently cup the slight swell of Kara’s belly.

 

            “Looks like Princess Pea is hungry,” Lena said, a tender look in her eyes as she rubbed gentle, soothing circles on Kara’s stomach. Kara’s heart melted as she watched Lena lean over and place a delicate kiss to the side of her bellybutton, and she was overcome with a sudden rush of emotions, making her eyes prickle with tears for some reason. Scrambling into a sitting position, Lena climbed off the bed and searched around for her pyjamas, tossing Kara her own too. “Come on, let’s get some lunch in you.”

 

            Pulling on her clothes, Kara slipped out of bed and gathered up the remains of their breakfast, following Lena downstairs. A fire was burning low in the grate from where Lena had lit it that morning to warm up a few rooms downstairs, and Aoife was curled up in front of it, her ears twitching at the sounds of footsteps. Kara stacked the dishwasher and let Aoife outside to run around the garden, while Lena made them both lunch, waving away Kara’s help whenever she drifted too close.

 

            Retreating to one of the leather armchairs in the main living room, Kara relaxed in front of the embers of the fire, still radiating warmth, and scratched Aoife’s muzzle as the dog plopped her head down in Kara’s lap for some attention. It wasn’t too long before Lena was calling her back to the kitchen, and Kara quickly climbed to her feet, eagerly making her way towards the food as the shaggy grey dog followed at her heels. She was handed two glasses of sparkling water with mint leaves swirling amongst the ice cubes and ordered out into the garden, and Kara was all too quick to obey, stepping out into the mild weather and squinting in the weak sunshine. It was their last day in Ireland, probably for a while, and Kara knew Lena would want to make the most of the still-flowering garden before they left and winter crept in on them.

 

            Following behind, Lena carried two plates piled high with a variety of foods, and they wound their way through flowerbeds and rose bushes, coming upon a wrought iron table with two matching chairs set onto a little patio nestled amongst the trees and plants. Taking their seats, they started picking at their food, and Kara let out a snort of laughter at the selection of healthy foods Lena had prepared for them. Neat carrot and celery sticks, marinated olives and little stuffed peppers that had been delivered by the housekeeper, kale chips that made Kara wrinkle her nose, slithers of smoked salmon for Kara, a mixture of seeds and nuts, and all manners of other picnic foods.

 

            She picked up a stick of cucumber and took a bite, raising her eyebrows in amusement as she looked at Lena. “Are we trying to get rid of the baby weight before we even put it on?”

 

            “Eating healthy is never a bad thing, darling,” Lena said, giving her a stern look, “and I don’t want our future heirs to come out with two heads. Besides … I felt like celery.”

 

            Blinking in surprise, Kara gave Lena a knowing smile, “did you- is that a craving , princess?”

 

            Lena was two months pregnant now, and so far she hadn’t exhibited a single symptom of it. Her tailored clothes still fit her perfectly - although the sweaters and pants weren’t exactly form-fitting anyway - her morning sickness had yet to kick in, and even if she was tired, she was still up at the same time every single morning. Despite her relief that she didn’t have to put up with hormonal mood swings, knowing how snarky and flippant Lena could be in her bad moods, Kara was a little peeved that somehow she’d had all the bad luck. Her morning sickness wasn’t confined to her mornings, she was feeling even more bloated and exhausted, and had become fussier with what snacks she wanted. She wasn’t even a third of the way through yet, and Kara was starting to realise that it was going to be decidedly less fun than she had thought it would be. In her mind, being pregnant had always been a rose coloured ideology of happiness, with that glowing aura and a gentle calmness of someone who was prepared to be a new mother, but the tinted glasses were off, and at ten weeks in, she was starting to realise that not everything was quite as pretty as that. As soon as her fitted dresses and skirts stopped fitting, she knew it would only go downhill from there, but at least her nausea would start easing up soon. Still, she was a little bit envious that Lena was so far unaffected for the most part, with her craving for celery the first inkling that she was pregnant.

 

            Giving her an exasperated look, Lena dipped a stalk of celery into some hummus and bit the end off, chewing with a satisfied look on her face. “I think it might be. I’m quite glad it’s for something normal. I was reading about pregnancy pica - God, it sounds bloody awful. Imagine wanting to eat tissues or sand.”

 

            “Oh good, something to look forward too,” Kara wryly said, giving her a smile, “I mean, if either of us is going to get it, I bet it’s me.”

 

            Waving away her concerns, Lena bit off another piece of celery and chewed quickly. “Don’t worry, some of them will start going away soon. Give it another few weeks.”

 

            “That’s easy to say when you’re not vomiting every morning. And my boobs , God , I didn’t realise they’d be so sore at the start. Are yours hurting yet?”

 

            Shrugging in a vague way that let Kara know that no, she was fine, Lena picked up her glass and took a sip, giving her a sympathetic look. “Sorry. I know it’s not fun, but we’re in this together! Whatever you need, it’s yours, you just have to say it.”

 

            Reaching out across the table, Kara held her hand out for Lena to take, and gave it a gentle squeeze, a grateful look on her face as she looked at her. Sometimes she couldn’t believe how lucky she’d gotten, or how the Lena she’d been thrown into the contract with was the same warm, loving woman who doted on her. After everything they’d been through, it all came down to the two of them, loving each other wholeheartedly, and sticking by each other’s side no matter what. Pregnancy was just another thing for them to navigate their way through, and it might take some muddling, but they’d get through it together. No matter what difficulties were thrown their way, Kara knew she’d have Lena to lean on.

 

            “There’s one thing I need,” Kara said, a hesitant look on her face.

 

            Giving her an expectant, willing look, Lena patiently waited, and Kara had to bite back a smile. “Anything.”

 

            She looked as if she was about to pull out a cheque book and buy her an island if Kara said it was going to make her pregnancy easier, and she adored her all the more for it. “I need you to tell me where we’re going later.”

 

            Letting out a heavy sigh, Lena rolled her eyes and let out a small groan, “Kara! I thought it was something serious!”

 

            “It is serious!”

 

            “Well, Your Majesty, pick something else,” Lena primly replied, giving Kara a stern look, “I won’t let you sweet talk this one out of me. You’ve ruined enough bloody surprises with those innocent eyes, you charming cow, but not this time!”

 

            Pouting, Kara gave her a pleading look, but Lena just gave her a stern look. Letting out a sigh of resignation, Kara rolled her eyes and slumped slightly in her seat. “Fine. Do we have mustard? I feel like mustard all of a sudden.”

 

            Laughing, Lena climbed to her feet, setting the fine silk napkin down beside her plate and dropping a kiss onto the top of Kara’s head. “Mustard I can do. Sit tight.”

 

            She was only gone for a few moments, during which, Kara managed to sneak Aoife some of her least favourite vegetables, which she was determined not to eat, no matter how much Lena prompted her. Upon her wife’s return, Kara gave her a bright smile and tilted her face up for a kiss as Lena presented her with a little jar of dark yellow English mustard. Scooping out a generous amount, Kara put it onto the side of her plate and dipped a kale chip in it, humming with content as the strong, sharp taste satisfied her craving for the condiment. Lena watched with thinly veiled disgust, dipping celery in more hummus as she watched her wife ruin perfectly good kale chips and a variety of the other snacks on her plate with the spicy condiment.

 

---

 

            They spent a few hours relaxing around the house, with Lena reading in an armchair and Kara sketching Lena reading from her own armchair, cups of tea within arms reach and a small fire warming the draughty, high ceilinged room. Kara felt like she was just killing time as she waited for Lena to let her know what they were going to be doing, and the moment that Lena declared that they should leave, Kara was on her feet, swiftly moving down the hallway to put on her boots and a thin parka to keep the cold at bay. Lena laughed as she followed after her, giving Kara a grateful smile as her wife graciously helped her into her coat, before she fetched the keys to the bottle green vintage sports car she kept there and they walked out to the garage.

 

            Lena drove them towards their destination with a pleased smile on her face, the sleek black car with their bodyguards driving closely behind, tailing Lena no matter how fast she was going as they passed through the endless green countryside. Kara suspected that they were going to the cliffs of Moher again, like they did every time they visited, and like they had a few days ago for a relaxing walk in the bracing sea air. When they started to slow, the sky already starting to darken slightly as sunset threatened to descend, Kara was smug at her correct assumptions, but she’d only figured out half of the surprise, and her face split into a bright smile of surprise as she looked at the massive red beacon of light set a hundred yards back from the edge of the cliffs.

 

            Lena gave her a smug smile of her own as she killed the engine and climbed out of the car, leaving Kara to follow suit while their bodyguards parked close by and joined them. Kara stared at the colourful hot air balloon with excited awe as they walked towards it, turning to look at Lena with a bright smile on her face. “What’s this for?”

 

            Taking her by the hand, Lena ran her thumb across the wedding band and diamond ring on her ring finger, a smile curling her lips as she stared at Kara with unabashed love in her green eyes. “I realised that we never really celebrated properly - just the two of us. And seeing as we both know we’re big on over the top dramatic romantic gestures, I thought that I should do something special for us.”

 

            “But you’re terrified of heights.”

 

            “I’m not planning on looking down,” Lena laughed. “Now, come on, we need to get up in the air before the sun starts to set. I’m betting it’s going to be the best one we’ve ever seen.”

 

            Stealing a quick kiss, taking Lena by surprise, Kara let out a laugh of delight, tightening her grip on Lena’s hand and quickly towing them towards the little wicker basket beneath it. A man was waiting there and he gave them a somewhat awkward bow, unsure what to make of the two royals unaffiliated with his country, and opened the small gate set into the side of the basket. Vasquez slipped in too, and Lena rolled her eyes at the need for security against a hot air balloon pilot when they were up in the air, but kept quiet as the man shut the little gate, leaving Hector to keep watch on the ground.

 

            The four of them clustered in the little basket, and Kara looked up at the colourful stripes of the inflated balloon, taking in the small flame keeping it puffed up. With a quick rundown on how it worked, the pilot soon had them lifting off the field they were in, and Kara smiled down at Lena, who had her eyes squeezed shut as she clung to Kara’s arm. The basket swayed slightly beneath their feet, and Kara carefully wrapped her arms around Lena, holding her from behind as she looked over her shoulder, watching the ground drop away and the vast stretch of blue come into view as she looked out at the sea. The wind whipped at her hair, and Kara’s cheeks turned rosy from the chill, but near the warmth of the flame bringing them higher and higher, and with Lena in her arms, Kara didn’t feel the cold. She was too excited.

 

            When they were high enough, drifting towards the edge of the cliff, until they were hovering above the heaving waves as they drifted with the wind, Kara gave Lena a gentle squeeze. “Open your eyes.”

 

            “Will I be sick? If I’m going to be sick, I don’t want to,” Lena said, her voice strained as she gripped onto the wicker rim of the basket.

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Kara gave her a quick squeeze and she knew Lena had opened her eyes from the small gasp of awe. The trip had been planned perfectly, down to the minute, because the sun was starting to sink low on the horizon, painting the sky beautiful shades of oranges and pinks that reflected off the rolling waves and made it look like the world was on fire. It was a breathtaking view, and Kara couldn’t help but smile, the wind ruffling her hair and Lena’s sweet perfume enveloping her in a comforting cloud, and she let out a happy sigh of content. She didn’t need moments to reflect on how perfect everything had turned out for her, but there were moments like this that reminded her just how lucky she was.

 

            Turning her head to the side, she planted a firm kiss on Lena’s cheek, before turning her attention back to the sky to watch as the sun continued its slow path down to the horizon, seemingly sinking below the waves with nothing but a faint yellow smudge, before that vanished too and they were plunged into the inky blackness of night. And then it was beautiful in a different way, with the star studded sky, the waxing gibbous moon washing everything white and the warm reddish glow of the hot air balloon burning brightly above them. Kara would’ve been happy to spend the rest of the night up there, but eventually her stomach was grumbling and Lena looked ghostly white, partly due to her natural porcelain skin bleached by the moon, and partly in terror at the impen darkness below, with only the shimmering silvery sheen of the moon reflecting off the sea to let them know what lurked beneath them.

 

            The pilot maneuvered them up and down, following the feel of invisible air currents as he tried to bring them back towards the edge of the cliffs. It was a slow process, but eventually they were settling down onto a patch of green with a gentle bump, and they waited inside the basket, politely rejecting offers of champagne to end their trip, until Hector arrived in the black car to retrieve them from their impromptu landing spot. In the backseat of the car, Kara gave Lena a lingering kiss, her cheeks flushed and eyes bright as adrenaline coursed through her body.

 

            “Thank you, that was unbelievable. It was definitely the best sunset we’ve ever seen, that’s for sure.”

 

            “You’re welcome,” Lena murmured, tucking a lock of hair behind Kara’s ear as she looked pleased with herself. “I wanted us to do one last exciting thing before we both end up fat and bedridden.”

 

            Laughing, Kara rested her head on her wife’s shoulder, giving her knee an affectionate squeeze as she closed her eyes. “I love you.”

 

            Gentle lips brushed her hair and Kara smiled softly to herself as she listened to Lena reply. “I love you too.”

 

            They didn’t go straight back to the house though, they went back to the original place they’d boarded the hot air balloon, where Hector had seemingly been busy, because on a patch of grass, a safe distant away from the edge of the cliff, blankets had been spread out with pillows and lanterns dotted around. Kara let out an elated laugh as Lena led her over to the blankets, their bodyguards hanging back, and they both sank down. A wicker picnic basket lay nearby, alongside a radio that Lena quickly tuned into, and soon enough they were eating the extravagant dishes that Kara knew Lena hadn’t prepared for them, but loved it all the same for the effort she’d gone through to make their last night special.

 

            They’d had a few evenings like this, on the edge of the cliffs, and while there was less wine this time, it felt just as magical and special to Kara. Eating until they were full, they took silly photos together, sang along to the music, reclined on the pillows and talked as they watched the stars, and when a slow song came on the radio, they danced high above the waves, quietly laughing as they slowly made small circles, their hearts light and full of love.

Chapter Text

            They arrived back in Krypton around lunchtime, sheets of rain coming down as they were ushered from the jet into the back of a waiting car, giving the circling photographers a quick wave before they were pulling away from the airstrip, making their way back towards Argo City. It was a grey day, with the biting cold of autumn making them shiver in the back of their stuffy car, and Kara felt like it was appropriate for their homecoming. As much as she loved her lavish lifestyle at the palace, with her own bed and a whole cohort of people at her beck and call, their escapes to Ireland were few and far between, and she sorely missed the freedom it offered her. As they sped through the city with their police escort, it felt like a sombre march towards her gilded cage, and she knew that it would only become more suffocating once news of one or both of their pregnancies dropped.

 

            As the gilt gates parted for them, Kara stared at the buttery sandstone blocks of Sunstone palace, leached of their colour with the drabness of the day, and couldn’t help feeling a small comfort at the sight of the elegant carved stone. No matter her feelings about leaving Ireland, it was always nice to come home. And for what it was worth, Sunstone palace was aptly named, because as she watched, the rain stopped and a few rays of bright sunlight slipped through the clouds, making the yellowness of the stone shine brightly. The thought of tea in her favourite parlour with the large windows and one of Lena’s favourite pieces of art made her perk up slightly, and she gave the footman a tired smile or gratitude as he opened the car door and stood to the side, taking a demure stance as he waited for her to climb out.

 

            Hand in hand with Lena, they quickly crossed the courtyard of the eastern entrance to the palace, an excited dog chasing after them through the light drizzle that misted on the umbrella held over their head by the footman. Kara nodded to the guards flanking the open doors as she breezed inside, unbuttoning her coat as she strode down the plush red carpet creating a path down the hallway. Everything was gleaming after a fresh polish in her absence, and she breathed in the smell of fresh flowers, eyeing the blooming white lilies clustered in vases at intervals. The sweet smell seemed almost too strong to her sensitive stomach, and she considered asking for different cuts of flowers, thinking about which ones Lena might like as Lena complained about the long flight. On their way towards their suite, they were intercepted by Jess, looking pleased to see them but composed, letting Kara know that nothing had gone amiss while they were gone.

 

            “Your Majesty, Your Highness,” she greeted them, dipping into a curtsy as she smiled, “can I fetch you some tea before you join Lady Alexandra and Lady Samantha?”

 

            “They’re here?” Lena spluttered, a look of surprise on her face.

 

            “Oh, forgive me. I assumed they had made prior arrangements to meet you for lunch.”

 

            Kara brushed aside their assistant’s concerns, giving her a warm smile as she reached down to ruffle the fur under Aoife’s chin. “Where are they now?”

 

            “In the Green Room, Your Majesty,” Jess quickly replied.

 

            “We’ll have tea with them there,” Kara told her, “and would you mind having Aoife walked, please.”

 

            With an obedient curtsy, Jess stepped aside as the two royals altered their course and made for the room where the other two women were passing the time. The palace was full of staff, and Kara nodded to everyone who bowed or curtsied, promising her Comptroller that she would meet with him to discuss the reviewing of her Royal Guard in a few weeks’ time when she passed him in the hallway. Lena was a little standoffish as she walked alongside Kara, almost pulling ahead, despite the fact that protocol dictated that no one should come before the Queen. As they approached a pair of large white doors, carved with all manner of plants and flowers, they were pulled open by the palace guards at the beck and call of the ladies within.

 

            Sweeping into the room with the easy comfort of authority and ownership, Kara shed her coat and tossed it over the back of a bottle green velvet armchair near the door, smiling at Alex and Sam as they looked up from the game of chess they were playing. The room glowed with a greenish yellow light from the old fashioned lamps, the walls papered with heavy cloth wrought in the pattern of green palm leaves, and potted ferns were stuffed in corners or on surfaces. It smelled fresh and woody inside the room, with the smoky smell of a fire and a fresh breeze blowing in through the slightly cracked open windows.

 

            “This is a nice surprise,” Kara brightly smiled. Alex had told her she was thinking about going to Daxam for a week or two, and she was surprised to see her there. “Hi, Sam. When did you get here?”

 

            They’d both risen to their feet at the arrival of the queen, and Kara dismissively waved to them both as she helped Lena out of her coat. Sam looked a little nervous as she settled back down onto her seat, looking at Lena while Alex moved her black rook on the checkerboard.

 

            “Two days ago. Ruby wanted to come and see the ballet,” Sam said, giving them a sheepish look.

 

            Lena had a brooding look on her face as she eyed the two women, and Kara sighed, rolling her eyes as she walked over to emerald green leather sofa set before the fire. Collapsing onto the embroidered pillows, she craned her head backwards, smiling at them over the back of the sofa. “Don’t mind her, she’s just annoyed that we had to come back.”

 

            “And that Sam is here with me, no doubt,” Alex snorted.

 

            “That too,” Lena snarkily replied, rolling her eyes as she lingered in the doorway.

 

            “Tea is being brought here,” Kara casually said, giving Lena a pointed look.

 

            Walking over to the sofa, Lena sat down beside her, primly crossing her legs at the ankles as she watched the game of chess wrap up, and the other two women join them around the fire. It was a few minutes later when a tray of tea was brought into the room, set down on the cherry wood coffee table and they were left to it.

 

            Filling fine china cups with a blackberry tea, they all helped themselves to cakes and biscuits, and Kara found herself suddenly craving chilli and ice cream. She silently kept that to herself as she ate lemon tarts, chatting about their relaxing two weeks away while Alex filled her in on the gossip she’d heard whispered throughout the court. One piece of news she gave somewhat hesitantly, a disapproving look on her face, and Kara sighed at the general air of displeasure that came off Lena and Alex in waves - Sam didn’t have as much of a strong opinion on the matter, although she’d surely listened to Lena’s rants before - as Alex revealed to Kara that her aunt was in town.

 

            Kara had the sneaking suspicion that Astra was there to see her, hoping for that tea she’d been talking about over the phone, before Lena had hung up on her. It would be inevitable that she would seek an audience with Kara sooner or later, and she’d been hoping for a bit of time to come up with a lie as to why she wasn’t pregnant with an heir yet, but it wasn’t long before her tea was interrupted by a knock on the door. Lyra opened it with an apologetic look on her face, curtsying to Kara and explaining that Lady Astra had arrived with the hopes of being received by her niece.

 

            “Tell her to make an appointment,” Lena offhandedly replied, her teacup halfway to her lips.

 

            “Tell her,” Kara exasperatedly replied, picking up Lena’s free hand and dropping a kiss onto the back of it, “that I shall receive her in the Marble Room.”

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara brushed the creases out of her pleated skirt and threw her shoulders back, steeling herself for her aunt’s brazen personality, With a regretful look at the rest of the lemon tarts, and a rush of love when Lena picked one up and offered it to her with a knowing look. Laughing, Kara took a bite and then gave her the rest, tenderly cupping her cheek as she gave her a loving smile.

 

            “Be good.”

 

            “Oh don’t worry,” Lena said with a slow smile, rising to her feet, “seeing as Sam is here, perhaps today’s the day she’ll beat me at fencing.”

 

            Scoffing, Sam sighed and climbed to her feet, “please, I’ve beaten you before.”

 

            Once. And only because Kara distracted me,” Lena crossly replied.

 

            “What’ll be your excuse this time then?” Sam asked, raising her eyebrows in amusement, “you’re pregnant?”

 

            “Is that an excuse, or a fact?” Lena asked, giving her a brief smile.

 

            Letting out an exasperated sigh, Kara shook her head, “I’ll leave you to it. See you later, darling. Please be careful.”

 

            “Yes, dear,” Lena exasperatedly replied, making Kara smile.

 

            Stepping out of the overwhelming greenness of the room, Kara started walking down the hallway, a determined look on her face. She was tired from flying, her skirt was a little tight around her stomach, and she wasn’t in the mood for navigating a difficult conversation with her aunt. Still, she carried on walking towards the room she’d sent Lyra off to bring Astra to, and by the time she reached it, walking up the few marble steps leading up to the open mahogany doors, her aunt was already there. Lyra curtsied and backed out of the room at the sight of Kara arriving, while Astra turned and smiled, dipping into a curtsy.

 

            Nodding to her, Kara walked across the marble floor, her heels clicking until she reached the Persian rug set in the middle of the room. Sitting down on a sofa, she gave Asta a polite smile. She loved her aunt, of course, but there had been one too many misunderstandings between the two of them to make her a bit wary of her aunt’s ulterior motives. As she eyed the middle-aged woman, standing proudly before her with a streak of white through her dark hair, and Kara gestured towards the sofa opposite the one she sat on. If it had been Lena in her place, she knew her wife would’ve had Astra standing throughout their whole meeting, but Kara couldn’t bring herself to act so high and mighty, no matter how she felt about someone. Despite her crown, she didn’t have the haughty bearing or vain arrogance that Lena’s upbringing had given her.

 

            “Your Majesty,” Astra deferentially greeted her, opting for politeness as she took a seat across from her, “how was your trip to Ireland?”

 

            “Enjoyable,” Kara smiled, “how’re things in Daxam?”

 

            “Quite well,” Astra cordially replied, giving her a smile, “Queen Rhea is hoping to plan a visit soon, with your permission, to cement relations between our countries. I think it would be a good idea.”

 

            Nodding thoughtfully, Kara made a note of it, thinking it a good idea. Public diplomatic visits were always good for publicity, and if she agreed to Astra’s suggestion, then perhaps she’d get off Kara’s back about her getting pregnant. Not that she had anything to worry about, because her hopes for an heir were in the process of being fulfilled, even if she didn’t know it. Keeping her mouth shut on that particular subject, Kara pursued safer topics of politics and other royal affairs, finding it easy to talk to Astra about those easier subjects, as opposed to her personal life. Still, she could feel Astra brimming with the urge to say something about it.

 

            Things were winding down, the conversation reaching a natural lull, and Kara could almost feel her aunt bursting with the need to ask. With a heavy sigh, Kara decided to tackle it head on, rather than waiting for her to stop hedging around the question for any longer.

 

            “We haven’t given up on the idea of an heir,” Kara slowly said after discussing the charity gala that upcoming, and she saw Astra’s eyebrows rise slightly. “But it is a personal matter, and I know you mean well, but it’s none of your business.”

 

            Bristling slightly, Astra seemed to be biting back her words in an effort to be polite, and Kara couldn’t take it any longer. “Say whatever it is you’re trying not to say. I won’t hold it against you; I promise.”

 

            “With all due respect, I’ve spent years serving this country in your family’s name, and your mother put everything into making sure that your line would endure. You might think that it’s a personal matter, but it is also a public one. The continuation of your line depends on you having a child, and that involves your family, your household and your government. You cannot have a crown and your privacy. As much as you don’t like it, and even though you didn’t ask for it, this is your life now, and there are dozens of people investing all of their time and effort into building up a brand based off of your name and image, and you need a child for that. Without it, it’ll all be worthless. If you don’t have one, then when you die, your crown passes to the Prince of Daxam, or his heir, and that brings a whole other lot of complications with the merging of two crowns. It would either be that or the abolishment of the monarchy. Pardon me for saying it, but your mother risked it all to see you succeed. It would be an insult to her memory to fail her.”

 

            Opening and closing her mouth at the disarming frankness of her aunt’s words, Kara was still spluttering at the arrival of Jess, looking a little flustered, her dark eyes wide with mild alarm, but trying to keep her composure as she dipped into a curtsy. She looked as if she’d run the whole length of the palace, her breathing shallow as she straightened back up.

 

            “Forgive the intrusion, Your Majesty, but Lady Sam has asked for a moment of your time,” Jess politely but firmly said.

 

            Kara was on her feet in a moment, with Astra jumping up with her, and she understood the unspoken words behind Jess’ words without further explanation. Lena had been with Sam. Jess knew enough not to divulge anything in front of Astra, and knew that Kara had been aware of the fact that the two women had gone to fence. A moment of panic seized control of her at the thought of Lena and the baby, but Kara told herself that Jess would be a little less composed if it was something serious, and she would’ve been alerted more quickly than their assistant running through the palace.

 

            Still, Kara spared Astra a quick look, giving her a grim smile and excusing herself with apologies, embracing her and kissing her on the cheek in a moment of forgiveness, with the promise of dinner one night before she went back to Daxam. Astra was still curtsying when she swept out of the airy marble room, feeling warm as she walked through the palace, with Jess a few steps behind her, quietly informing her that she should go to the hospital wing, while Vasquez perked up, on guard for anything amiss.

 

            Her heart felt like it was about to beat out of her chest as she tried to keep her poise, although she felt like breaking all pretenses of calm and collected in favour of kicking of her heels and slipping down marble hallways in her stockings. The knowledge that she had to keep some dignity stopped her from rushing down a dozen hallways, ignoring everyone they passed, until the slight smell of antiseptic and bleach filled her nose as they stepped into the sterile medical wing. Jess directed her to the right door, and Kara burst in unannounced, startling the four occupants of the room at her sudden intrusion.

 

            The doctor, Alex and Sam both leapt to their feet, while Lena, who was hysterically crying while sitting on the angled table, her shirt untucked and rucked up around her ribs, while her white fencing pants were unbuttoned and pulled down slightly. A fencing jacket was abandoned on the floor, and Kara stepped over it as she rushed over to Lena’s side, white with fear. Sharply dismissing everyone, Kara felt her eyes prickle with tears as she cupped Lena’s face in her hands, wiping away her tears as she tried to hush her. The sound of the door closing behind her made her relax a little, knowing that they didn’t have an audience watching.

 

            “Hey, hey, what happened?” Kara softly asked, perching on the edge of the table, her eyes roaming Lena’s face. "What's wrong? Is it the baby? Did you hurt-"

 

            She was leaning back against the inclined table, nearly sitting upright as she drew in a shuddering breath, hitching slightly with a silent sob as she cut Kara off. “I’m pregnant,” Lena cried, more tears cutting a path through her ruined makeup.

 

            Sitting there in silence for a moment, Kara frowned. “What?”

 

            “I’m pregnant,” Lena sobbed.

 

            “I know,” Kara stupidly replied, feeling like she was missing something.

 

            Wiping at her face, looking angry and embarrassed, Lena gave her a hard look, drawing in another shuddering breath. “I thought that I- I thought I wasn’t.”

 

            “What do you mean? Why?

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena scowled as she furiously wiped at her cheeks, still crying as she blubbered through her words. “I don’t feel pregnant. I-I thought it was a mistake. You’d had symptoms for weeks by now, and I don’t have any of them! And then we went to fence and I put on all of my gear and it just- i-it wouldn’t bloody fit. I thought that I- well, I thought the tests had lied but then my clothes wouldn't fit! I don’t have any signs of it, except now I’m a fat cow , and that c-could just be all the scones that you get them to bring us, and so I thought that- I thought that maybe it was a phantom pregnancy and I was just putting on weight b-but I wasn't actually pregnant.”

 

            Sitting in stunned silence, Kara opened and closed her mouth a few times, before a laugh of surprise bubbled up, and she had to clap a hand over her mouth to stop herself from dissolving into a fit of it. Biting back a smile, she gave Lena a tender smile, her expression softening as she leant forward and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.

 

            “Oh sweetheart,” Kara tutted, letting out a soft sigh as she stroked Lena’s hair and looked at her with amusement flickering in her blue eyes. She didn’t want to dismiss Lena’s obvious worrying, but she found it hard not to find it somewhat funny. “What- how- you really thought you weren’t- but you had a scan. You saw it.”

 

            “It was a bloody black and white swirl, Kara!” Lena exclaimed, “it wasn’t anything!”

 

            “Okay, okay,” Kara soothingly calmed her, shifting closer on the crinkly paper and drawing Lena into her arms. She rubbed her back in gentle circles, her lips brushing her hair, and rocked her slightly until Lena’s crying was reduced to hitching breaths.

 

            Only once she’d calmed down and stopped did Kara let her go, and Lena leant back against the slight incline, her head ducked down as she fiddled with her fingers. “Sorry. I overreacted. I just- I’ve been thinking about it for weeks … how it doesn’t make sense. I know that the tests said … but that was- that was weeks ago. When my clothes didn’t fit I just ... I-I had to find out.”

 

            Letting out a pent up breath, Kara gave her a grim smile, “why didn’t you tell me you’ve been worrying about it? We could’ve gotten you another scan as soon as you doubted it. You could have a scan every day if you wanted to! I know you’re worried about all of this, but anything you want is yours. Anything.”

 

            Shrugging self-consciously, Lena mumbled something unintelligible, and Kara reached out to carefully cup her chin in her hand and tilt her face up. Her eyes were red and she looked embarrassed, giving Kara a slight smile. “I know. I just ... didn’t want you to worry. I wanted us to have fun in Ireland, and I thought that maybe I’d feel it more if I just had a couple more weeks for it to kick in. I guess being back just made all of my worries come crashing down on me.”

 

            Picking up her hand, Kara kissed the back of it and gave her a loving smile, reaching out to touch Lena’s exposed stomach, her fingers trailing over the slight swell of it, glistening with the gel from the ultrasound. “It’s real.”

 

            “I know,” Lena heavily sighed, slumping slightly in her seat, “the little bugger is really in there. I feel like a daft cow now, but I thought … well, it’s not often that I’m wrong.”

 

            “Is it alright if you have another scan?” Kara quietly asked, raising her eyebrows slightly as she gave her wife a hopeful look. “Only, this is the first proper one, and I’d like to see our little Princess Peach.”

 

            Letting out a tearful laugh, Lena nodded, “sure. I didn’t get very far into the last one before I started crying. I think Sam thinks there’s something wrong with me. I bet there’s not many pregnant people, who already know they’re pregnant, who cry when it’s confirmed that they are in fact pregnant.”

 

            Leaning in to give her a quick kiss, Kara laughed, “well you’ve always been a bit over dramatic. I’d hardly expect anything else from you. It looks like your mood swings and messy emotions might’ve started kicking in though. Now who said you didn’t have any symptoms, huh?”

 

            Weakly laughing, Lena rolled her eyes, leaning forward for another kiss, before she gave Kara a gentle push. “Go and get the doctor, before he starts spreading rumours about my hysterics.”

 

            Sliding off the bed, Kara walked over to the door and threw it open, giving the patient doctor a grateful smile and letting him back into the room. Taking a seat beside the bed, Kara tightly held her hand while more gel was applied to Lena’s stomach, and together, they watched the grainy image appear on the screen. The black and white swirl had transformed into a distinct humanoid shape, and Kara felt her eye prickle with tears as she excitedly crowed about the little arms and legs that she could make out on the monitor. Lena couldn’t help but shyly smile with excitement as Kara commented about the little blob on the screen.

 

            And then Lena insisted that Kara get one too, so they could see how the other baby was developing, and Kara inhaled sharply at the cold feeling of the gel, staring down at the small bump over the waistband of her skirt. She gingerly clung onto Lena’s hand as she watched the screen on the monitor show the slightly more distinctly human shape inside her own stomach, and by the time the scan was finished, they were both laughing at the alien looking baby. Kara could see the relief in Lena’s eyes though when the doctor confirmed that both were developing well and right on track for how they should be at their current stages within their pregnancies, and when they walked out of the office, looking more presentable than they had been inside the room, they both proudly held out their copies of the scans for Sam and Alex to see.

 

            The meltdown was forgotten after that, along with thoughts of fencing, and Kara insisted that they all have ice cream and take a stroll through the gardens to get some fresh air. Lena made a few self-deprecating jokes about her appearance, Kara reassured her that she was beautiful and Alex and Sam silently came to their own conclusions about the rapid change in moods from the pregnant women. The rest of their afternoon passed by with little fuss, and more than a little bit of smugness as the two of them kept putting their heads together to gush about the scans Lena had in her pocket, tracing fingers over the beginnings of developing features and feeling warm inside at the prospect of their growing babies.

Chapter Text

            A week later they were both climbing into the back of a car, on their way to the Guard Tower near the centre of the city, so that Kara could review the Royal Guard. It was an annual event, but she still felt a little nervous as she thought about the spectators watching, afraid that the dress would be too tight around her stomach, and worried about riding her horse. She knew she was just being paranoid, and it would be over within half an hour, leaving her free to meet a few dignitaries before retiring to the lawn in the middle of the tower courtyard for some tea with her guests. It was the same every year, and she couldn’t help but envy Lena, sitting primly on the leather seats in her sapphire coloured dress, the prospect of the event already boring her before they’d even left Sunstone Palace. There were some days when Kara found the whole Queen business tedious, but there were so many traditions that she knew she couldn’t let fall to the side, so she put up with them anyway.

 

            With her stomach nervously fluttering, Kara relaxed in her seat, watching as they passed through the gates and started driving through the city, the elegant architecture of the old buildings near the palace giving way to high-end fashion designers and expensive jewelry shops, the best restaurants Krypton had to offer, and a few of the classier bars. Then they were on the other side of it all, and an old stone tower, made from the same creamy stone as the palace, rose up amongst the office skyscrapers. They were driven through the crowd of citizens that had come to catch a glimpse, passing beneath the raised portcullis and stone archway into the cobbled courtyard of the tower.

 

            Stepping out of the car as the door was opened for her, Kara breathed in the fresh air, the smell of impending rain carried on the wind, along with the smell of oil and horses. The sky was white, and the wind ruffled her hair and tugged at her clothes, but it was a mild day, and she could see the pavillion already set up in the distance, small tables and chairs neatly arranged around chaise lounges, while palace staff made miniscule adjustments. Everything seemed to be in order, and Kara strode towards the door she always used for her visits, nodding to the members of the Royal Guard as she passed them by, taking in the red, blue and gold of their perfectly tailored uniforms.

 

            Stepping into the cool interior of the old stone building, her heels clicked on the ceramic tiles as she walked towards a pair of double wooden doors, which were pulled open for her, with Lena following behind, her hand in Kara’s. Jess and Lyra were already inside, setting everything up for her, and Kara gave them both a warm smile as they dipped into polite curtsies. Guiding Lena over to a stuffed sofa, she gave her a quick peck on the cheek and let her wife make herself comfortable, and Lena quickly grew bored.

 

            The ceremonial dress that Kara wore every year was on a mannequin, the fitted bodice hugging the torso of the dummy, while the full, heavy skirts flared out to the floor. It was wrought in the colours of Krypton, predominantly blue, but with panels of red and yellow and golden embroidery in the shapes of national flowers and animals, and Kara gave it a brooding look, wondering if she’d fit in it properly, or if it would be a bit snug this year. With a sigh, she kicked off her heels and let Lyra take her coat and unzip the plain yellow dress she’d worn to the tower.

 

            “You’ll be careful, won’t you?” Lena asked from the sofa, as Kara stepped up onto a small pedestal in her underwear and stockings, her arms outstretched as she waited for her assistants to dress her.

 

            “Hm?”

 

            The sound of Lena shifting on the sofa reached her ears, and Kara looked at her reflection in the tri-panelled mirrors, giving her a good view of herself and the dark haired head poking over the curved back of the sofa. Lena had a sombre look on her face, the colour of her green eyes slightly washed out by the richness of the blue dress and small fascinator pinned in her hair, but no less beautiful, even if they were swimming with concern.

 

            “On the horse,” Lena said, “you’ll be careful.”

 

            Turning as she balanced herself on Lyra’s shoulder, raising one foot as both women helped her step into the first petticoat, Kara gave Lena a confused look. “Of course I will. What do you mean?”

 

            Sighing, Lena pushed herself to her feet and walked over to Kara, her face pale in the mirrors as she came up behind her, and then rounded the pedestal and assistants, coming to a stop in front of her. Kara was usually a few inches taller than her, but on the pedestal she practically dwarfed Lena, giving her a soft smile as she reached out to cup her face in her hands. “What’s bothering you?”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena took a step back as she watched the few layers of tulle be pulled up to Kara’s waist and fastened at the back. “I just- I know I’m not a serious person, or one to worry, and I know I can be …”

 

            “Dismissive?” Kara supplied, arching an eyebrow in faint amusement.

 

            “Yes,” Lena sighed, “dismissive, sure. But … please be careful. I know that you are pregnant, so it doesn’t matter now, but I know how hard it was and … I don’t want anything to happen to you or the baby, okay? Don’t overexert yourself just to keep our secret under wraps.”

 

            “Lena, I’m going to be sitting on a horse,” Kara calmly replied.

 

            Huffing, Lena gave her a stern look, “that’s not the point I’m trying to make, Kara.”

 

            With a small smile curling her lips, Kara bent nearly in half and pressed a quick kiss to Lena’s lips, her fingers gentle as she cradles her face in her hands. “I’m going to be fine. You can even tie me to my horse if you’d like, so I can’t fall off.”

 

            Smiling, Lena tilted her head to the side as she stared up at her, “that might make me feel better.”

 

            “I don’t like it when you worry,” Kara sighed.

 

            “Would you prefer it if I made a few snarky comments?” Lena laughed, and Kara gave her an exasperated look as she bent over and raised her arms, letting a corset and the attached petticoat be slipped over her head. Poking her arms through, Kara straightened up and let Lyra straighten out the skirts, while Jess walked around her and began to lace up the back of the corset. “Careful, Jess. Don’t do it too tight, or my baby will be coming out with a dented head.”

 

            Kara let out a withering sigh while Lena laughed, walking back over to the sofa and sitting back down, while Kara let herself be laced in as tightly as she could stand it. Afterwards came the heavy gown that almost made her feel like she was being dragged down towards the ground. The full skirt flared out from her small waist, and she let out a sigh of relief at the fact that she fit in it with only mild discomfort - nothing unbearable - and without showing. Her hair had already been elaborately braided at the palace to save time, and she let a small golden crown encircle her brow, while a variety of golden rings signifying different things were slipped onto the appropriate fingers. Usually she only wore her engagement, wedding and family ring, but the occasion called for something more appropriate. The last touches were a pair of small black riding boots and a white silk sash with her medals and awards pinned to it. Lena was brought her own, as well as a small tiara, and once they were both ready, they made a striking pair in their deep blue dresses and finery.

 

            With a quick kiss, Lena left her to go and stand with the other dignitaries, and Kara felt reassured knowing that Alex and Eliza would be there with her, but she just hoped that Lena wouldn’t pick a fight with Astra, who would be standing with them as well, as part of Kara’s family. Pushing her family affairs to the side, Kara strode through a side door, walking down a narrow hallway as her skirts were carried after her by her assistants, while Vasquez trailed after them. It almost seemed redundant to have a bodyguard at the Guard Tower, but Kara knew better than to argue the matter, especially under her new circumstances. If she wasn’t doing it for herself, she would do it for her heir.

 

            Following the familiar path, she found herself in the antechamber of the stables, the soft whickering of horses reaching her ears, along with the strong smell of horses, hay and leather. Saddles were neatly displayed along one wall, all expensive and for ceremonial purposes, and she found the empty space where hers had been taken off and saddled on the horse she’d be using for the ceremony. Waiting patiently in the tidy room, listening to the hum of voices coming in from outside, Kara fought back a wave of nausea, and the thought of her morning sickness getting the better of her in front of the crowd made her stomach spasm with panic. She stamped down her fears as the back door opened and a guard bowed, stepping aside to let her exit.

 

            A beautiful chestnut mare had been saddled for her, golden bells jingling from the black and red bridle and the matching saddle, wrought with gold leaf and fine stitching in elaborate patterns. A small set of steps had been arranged next the horse, and Kara was helped up onto the horse with some difficulty, until she was sitting aside the horse in a demure side saddle position, both legs gracefully falling down the left side of her horse. A golden sceptre was handed to her, which Kara gripped tightly in her gloved hands as she took hold of the reins as well, and with the blue skirts fanning out across the flank of the horse, she was ready.

 

            Everyone except Vasquez was dismissed, and her bodyguard looked serious in her sleek black suit, standing close to the horse’s head as Kara urged it into a gentle walk, the steady clopping of hooves on the cobblestones echoing in the small courtyard behind the stables as she lurched into motion. She knew it was a mistake the moment she got going, with the bumping motion making her feel nauseous, and before they’d even turned the corner, she’d vomited over the side of the horse, taking her and the other woman by surprise, but with nothing else to do, Kara had kept going. Luckily, she hadn’t gotten it on her dress of the horse, but the taste of bile coated her tongue, and she felt a little hot in her snug dress. Letting out a shaky breath, she arranged her face in a blank mask as they rounded the corner and came to an archway.

 

            A man in full uniform announced her with all of her names and titles, and Kara felt herself sweating beneath all of her layers, suddenly wishing that the day had been even colder. She felt a little shaky, and if she didn’t know any better she would’ve discounted it as nerves, and she was just hoping that no one else could see that she was feeling unwell beneath the layers of makeup and finery. As soon as the man finished speaking, she urged her horse onwards, exiting the archway and clopping along the cobblestoned courtyard as she made her way towards the next lines of guards. It was only a fraction of them, standing perfectly straight with their ceremonial swords glinting in the weak sunlight, their rifles cradled in the crook of their elbows as they stared blankly ahead. She passed down the middle of them, taking her time as she passed by dozens of men and women, nodding her head with a serious look on her face as she listened to murmured conversation overshadowed by the sound of the few guards keeping up a steady drumbeat, cameras clicking and flashing from the group of gathered photographers and reporters, while the rest of her guests were all standing behind the ranks of guards.

 

            The procession was over a few minutes later and the guards all filed away in a synchronised march, heading back towards the barracks and their posts. Kara was led back towards the stables and helped down off her horse, feeling weak with relief and a little claustrophobic in the thick layers of heavy material. Jess and Lyra were waiting for her and picked up the skirts of her dress as Kara strode back through the hallways, finding herself back in the room she’d gotten ready in. She was quickly undressed and relaxed in relief at the freedom from the tight corset and heavy dress, putting her yellow dress and matching coat back on and making her way back out through the main door.

 

            Everyone had moved onto the green in the middle of the courtyard, milling about and chatting as they waited for Kara to reemerge. No one had taken a seat yet, waiting for her to arrive, and there were shallow bows and curtsies thrown her way as she crossed the uneven grass, a polite smile gracing her lips. She went straight to Lena, dropping a gentle kiss onto her wife’s cheek as she tried to ignore the camera flashes out of the corner of her eye, and drew in a deep breath as she readied herself for the endless conversation she was about to undertake with everyone present as she made the rounds.

 

            “Hm, and you were always the patient one,” Lena murmured at the weary look on Kara’s face, a wry smile curling one side of her mouth as she accepted a flute of champagne off a waiter, picking one up for Kara as well. Hesitating slightly, Kara gave her a slight frown as she took the glass off her, knowing that they couldn’t drink it, and Lena clinked their glasses together with an amused look in her eyes. “Well we can’t refuse it. We’ll have rumours circulating within the hour.”

 

            With an exasperated look, Kara nodded, turning at the sound of approaching voices and smiling brightly at her sister. Alex fell into conversation with Lena a few moments later as Kara greeted Eliza and Astra. She spoke with them for a few minutes, before having to move on, making for Cat Grant next, showing her Prime Minister the proper respect her status afforded her. They talked about an upcoming state dinner for a few minutes, as well as a few pleasantries, such as Cat’s sons and a new orphanage that the monarchy had funded, before Kara moved on again.

 

            Over and over again she moved through the crowd of people, clutching her champagne flute in her hand, until it had warmed in her grasp, and she nibbled at a few of the hors d'oeuvres, wishing there had been some pickles present, or some lemon tarts. It only lasted a couple of hours, and then she was saying her goodbye’s and taking Lena’s hand, promising Alex she’d see her the next day for dinner with a world renowned Chinese chef who was coming to the palace to cook for them. It was with some relief that Kara sat in the cool interior of the car, feeling exhausted and irritable as she closed her eyes, listening to the door being gently shut behind them and the car jerk into motion.

 

            They both commented on gossip they’d heard as they’d mingled, or interesting pieces of information they’d gathered, feeling a lot less tense as they made their way back towards the palace, and Kara was looking forward to some peace and quiet, perhaps in the comforting cosiness of the library. As they sped down the road with a police escort, the city flying past them in a bur, her stomach lurched and Kara’s eyes widening slightly, her mouth going dry as she looked around in a panic. The only thing in the back that would even be remotely suitable was the clutch that Lena held in her lap. “Give me your bag.”

 

            “What?” Lena said, giving her a mild look of surprise.

 

            “I’m going to throw up. Give me your bag.”

 

            “Kara, this is an eight thousand dollar purse,” Lena spluttered, “I’m not letting you throw up in it, you daft cow. Let me see if Hector has anything.”

 

            Lena pushed the button for the partition giving them some privacy in the back, the barrier sliding down. Her mouth opening to protest, Kara felt the lurching feeling again as her stomach roiled, and she clamped her lips together, fighting back the wave of nausea as she swallowed the lump in her throat. Letting out a shaky breath, she gave Lena a frantic look. “Lena, give me the fucking bag. Now.

 

            Either her swearing or the urgency of her tone made Lena all but shove the purse into Kara’s hands, and no sooner had she opened it, she had it held up to her mouth and promptly vomited into it. Sighing, Lena made a sound of protest, her cool hands brushing Kara’s hair out of her flushed face. It passed as quickly as it had come, and Kara straightened up, fishing a monogrammed handkerchief out of her coat pocket and wiping at her mouth as she drew in a shaky breath. Closing the clutch, she handed it back to Lena, who looked down at it in disgust, spluttering as she gave Kara a look of disbelief.

 

            “Are you having a laugh? I don’t want it back.”

 

            “It doesn’t match my outfit,” Kara whined, “I can’t carry it back in with me, or they’ll wonder why I’m carrying your purse for you.”

 

            “How about you tell them you vomited in it,” Lena snarkily replied, a look of irritation crossing her features.

 

            Looking offended, Kara held onto the bag and frowned as she pouted slightly, looking sullen at Lena’s bad mood. They were silent for a few minutes as they rode through the city, and Lena mercifully cracked open a window, letting in a stream of cold air. After the tension grew too heavy in the air, Kara let out a sigh and gave Lena a doe eyed look of innocence.

 

            “Are you angry with me?”

 

            Making a small sound of disapproval, Lena shot her a dark look. “You’re forever ruining my wardrobe, you know.”

 

            As they went in through the side gates of the palace, coming to a stop at the foot of the stone steps leading up to the open doors, the car door was opened for her, and she turned to look at Lena who held out a hand for the purse. With a sheepish look on her face and a quiet thank you, Kara climbed out of the car, followed by Lena, who gingerly held the bag in her hand and trailed after Kara, a few steps behind. As soon as they walked inside, Lena handed the bag out to Jess, who was waiting inside the doors for any orders.

 

            “Get rid of this and you’ll have a bonus in this week’s paycheck,” Lena briskly explained, “and I wouldn’t open it if I was you. Also, I’ll be needing a new phone. Thank you.”

 

            A look of alarm on her face as she gingerly held the purse, Jess nodded, “yes, Your Highness. Um, would you care for some refreshments in the parlour?”

 

            “I’m going to lay down for a bit,” Lena dismissively replied, and Jess bowed her head slightly in deference.

 

            With an exasperated sigh, Kara watched Lena stalk off, and shared a look with Jess, who looked mildly concerned about Lena’s mood swing. With a grim smile, Kara rolled her eyes. “Well, I guess we know what symptom is kicking in now.”

 

            Fighting to keep her face blank, Jess bowed her head slightly as Kara followed after her wife at a slower pace. She dismissed Jess at the doors to her suite, leaving Vasquez posted outside with Hector, and she swept inside, listening to the sounds of Lena closing the curtains, the open doors to their bedroom showing the gloomy sight inside. Slowly walking through the open living space, Kara was met by Aoife, who trotted out of the bedroom, and scratched the dog beneath the chin, before moving onto her bedroom.

 

            “Are you tired?” she quietly asked Lena, watching as her wife fetched some pyjamas and laid them out on the bed.

 

            “Yes,” Lena tightly replied, and Kara let out a gentle sigh. She knew that Lena wasn’t really angry with her, she was just having a mood swing, and Kara had been having a few uncharacteristic ones herself, but she knew that she’d get over it soon. This was Lena normally, so it made sense that she would be a little more sensitive with her hormones going haywire.

 

            Watching as she struggled to reach for the zipper, Kara walked over to her and brushed her hands aside, helping to undo it for her. Her fingers trailed down Lena’s exposed spine, following the bumpy dips and ridges, and she placed a delicate kiss on her shoulder. Stepping back, she let Lena drop the dress to the floor and step out of it, and Kara gave her a small smile, reaching out to trace the silvery scar leftover from her surgery a few years back. If it ever came up, Lena would proudly declare it her moment of victory over her mother, and Kara was always sure to tell her that it wasn’t unsightly, as Lena sometimes said. Her warm hand trailed up Lena’s side and she gave her a coy smile, raising her eyebrows slightly.

 

            “I was going to take a shower. Would you like to join me?”

 

            “Not now, I’m tired,” Lena wearily sighed, and Kara realised that she really was tired. There were faint smudges of dark circles beneath her eyes, looking even darker in the gloomy room, and her eyes looked tired too. It had been a long day, and when she’d woken that morning, Lena had already long since gotten up. She must’ve been exhausted, and a nap would work wonders for her short temper.

 

            “Okay,” Kara murmured, smiling when Lena gave her a quick peck.

 

            Kicking off her own heels, Kara walked towards the bathroom, undoing her own dress and stripping off her stocking as she ran the hot water in the shower. She needed to wash away the uncomfortable feeling of sweat and vomit, although she knew it was just her own self-consciousness that made her do so, and she safely put her hair up, before stepping into the steamy shower and picking up her soap. Careful not to have it too hot, or to ruin her makeup and hair, she quickly washed herself, watching as a dark figure moved across the other side of the steamy glass. The sound of a tap running reached her over the sound of the shower, and she took a step towards it, her skin rippling with goosebumps as she stepped out from the warmth safety of the water. Drawing two dots and a long curved lined, Kara pressed her face up against the smiley face and looked out at Lena, who was brushing her teeth. A muffled snort of laughter reached her ears and she joined in, wiping a hand across the glass to see her wife properly.

 

            “You’re ridiculous,” Lena sighed, giving her a tender look.

 

            “You’re very serious today.”

 

            “I’m sorry, I just- I’m tired, darling. It’s been a long day.”

 

            Shutting off the water, Kara stepped out and grabbed a towel off the heated shelf, wrapping it tightly around herself and crossing over to Lena, leaving a trail of water in her wake. “I know. Do you want me to have some tea brought up for you? Perhaps hot chocolate? It might help you sleep better.”

 

            Giving her a soft smile, Lena shook her head, reaching out to cup Kara’s face in the hand not holding her toothbrush. “No, I’m fine, darling.”

 

            “I’ll just get dressed and then I’ll leave you to rest.”

 

            “Thank you,” Lena murmured.

 

            Walking back out into their bedroom, she stepped into the massive closet on the opposite side and fetched herself some underwear and stockings, before picking out a plain white shirt and a blush coloured skirt that fell almost to her knees. Fetching the smallest pair of heels she could find, in the hopes that her feet would ache less, she dressed and rolled the sleeves up, feeling a little warm still, and knowing her temperature was just getting the better of her. Fixing her hair into something more presentable, Kara slipped out of the closet and looked over at Lena, who was dressed in her pyjamas and climbing in between the sheets.

 

            Tucking her into bed, Kara placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and closed her in the dark room, softly calling Aoife over to her side and slipping out into the hallway. She gave Hector strict instructions not to let anyone disturb the princess, and was soon walking down the hallway with a faithful shaggy wolfhound and a bodyguard following after her. Craving some clean fresh air, Kara made for the gardens and settled into a slow meandering pace through the rose gardens, taking in the flowers that were starting to die off as autumn tore through the greenness of the place, slowly turning everything brown. The smell of decaying leaves was already starting to fill the air, minging with the damp smell of the lake and the sweet perfume of the flowers, and she knew it would look beautiful when winter began to creep in, painted in all fiery shades.

 

            “Your Majesty,” a familiar voice said from behind her, and Kara whirled around to see Astra striding towards her, her pace brisk as if she’d been hoping to catch her.

 

            “Aunt Astra, I didn’t know you were coming back here,” Kara said with surprise, waving aside her aunt’s attempts to curtsy. “You should’ve said; I would’ve had tea set up.”

 

            With a slight smile, Astra fell into step slightly behind her, joining Kara on her walk as they carried on following the path. “I won’t be staying long. I was just hoping to discuss something with you before I’m on my way. I’m going to Thorul tomorrow.”

 

            Nodding, Kara gave her a warm smile, pushing her glasses back up her nose, “what do you want to talk about?”

 

            “You’re pregnant,” Astra blurted out, a gleam in her blue eyes as she looked at Kara with satisfaction, “aren’t you?”

 

            Spluttering, Kara felt her cheeks redden slightly as her palms turned slick and her heart began to race. A dozen objections were on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t find it within herself to speak any of them, and resorted to idiotic stammering instead. “I-I, um, I-”

 

            “You gave yourself away too easily,” Astra calming replied, resting a hand on her niece’s arm. “Carrying around an untouched glass of champagne. Taking the smallest bites of food. Touching you stomach all the time. You’ll need to be more careful.”

 

            Kara was about to protest again, but she knew that Astra wasn’t lying. She hadn’t so much as touched the champagne she’d carried around for hours, until the golden liquid had warmed and she’d abandoned it before they left. For the sake of appearances, she’d picked at a few pieces of food, but hadn’t enjoyed any of it. And of course there had been the stomach thing, feeling self-conscious in both of the dresses - although the yellow one was a lot more loose fitting without its corset - and she knew her hand had kept fluttering to her stomach to nervously reassure herself that she was fine. It would’ve gone unnoticed by everyone else, but of course her aunt wouldn’t have missed it. This is what she’d been pushing for.

 

            “It’s none of your concern,” Kara tightly replied, a feeling of panic welling up.

 

            “I just want to help you,” Astra quietly told her.

 

            Pausing, Kara turned to her and gave her a hard look. “Your helping always seems to be against what I want. I won’t have you meddling in this. Lena and I are capable of making our own decisions and doing what’s best for us . I don’t take kindly to you poking your nose in where it doesn’t belong, Aunt Astra.”

 

            “Kara, look, I know I’ve made mistakes in the past. But right now, my priority is making sure you mother’s plan is completed and you have yourself an heir. An heir to an entire country, mind you. I would think that our interests align in this. I love you like my own daughter, my dear, and I care about you and this child.”

 

            She knew that her aunt was telling the truth - she’d never doubted that Astra cared about her safety, only her privacy - but Kara was still filled with uncertainty as she looked into the earnest blue eyes and the identical face of her mother. Her resolve wavered as she thought of her mother. Surely it couldn’t be too much of a mistake to trust her aunt again? It wasn’t as if Kara would be trusting her with much either, only the promise of keeping her pregnancy a secret for a little while longer.

 

            Hesitating for a moment longer, Kara slowly nodded. “Okay. But you won’t speak a word of this to anyone. Anyone at all . If I so much as hear that you tell Lillian while you’re in Thorul, I’ll strip you of your title and you’ll never step foot in my presence again. I might be a political figurehead, but I can make life very difficult for you. You have the benefit of the doubt, and my trust in this. If you break my trust again, I won’t give you a third chance.”

 

            Dipping her head, Astra had the decency to look embarrassed, and she nodded quickly. “Of course. I won’t interfere in this again. I give you my word.”

 

            “Good,” Kara said.

 

            “May I offer you congratulations though?” Astra asked, looking up and arching an eyebrow as she smiled.

 

            Kara let out a quick laugh and held her arms open, letting Astra hug her, commenting on how happy she was and how proud Alura would be of her. It gave Kara a warm feeling inside to hear it, and they kept walking while she filled Astra in on her part with her pregnancy, making no mention of Lena’s situation, although she did share that she was just as excited as Kara when Astra enquired about it. It was actually a nice feeling to be honest with her aunt, instead of being on edge about her finding out, and Kara hoped her trust wasn’t misplaced this time. She had a feeling that Astra had learnt her lesson, and her eagerness to please made her think that she regretted meddling with their engagement. Things between them hadn’t been the same since then, and Kara missed her guidance.

 

            True to her word, Astra didn’t stay long, and soon it started spitting out in the gardens, so Kara quickly made her way back towards the palace before she got soaked. A cold wouldn’t help her feel better about her pregnancy, and she wasn’t sure her being moody around a moody Lena would make things easier. She took to wandering around the bottom floor of the palace, wandering in and out of lavishly decorated rooms, enjoying her favourites as she passed through with Aoife on her heels.

 

            In the end, she ended up in the ballroom, making Vasquez wait outside, while Aoife laid down on the cold floor, watching as Kara walked into the middle of the large room. The high ceiling with its massive chandeliers made the room feel cavernous, and Kara stared at the oil paintings in gilt frames, the marble floor make each slow footstep click in the quietness. The row of arched windows showed a peek of the lavender sky as it darkened, and the dark shadowy shapes of trees from the sprawling garden. She had many memories associated with the ballroom, including the first time she’d ever kissed Lena with any sort of meaningfulness behind it, even if it had only been on the cheek. She could almost envision the room filled with people in fine dresses and tuxedos, the sound of and orchestra playing soft music, and with her hands clasped over her heart and her eyes closed, Kara swayed slightly, a small smile on her lips.

 

            “Would Her Majesty like to dance?” Lena’s soft voice came from behind her, and Kara’s eyes flew open in surprise.

 

            Whirling around with a hand to her racing heart, Kara inhaled sharply and let out a shaky laugh, “Jesus Christ, you frightened the life out of me. How did you sneak up on me so quietly?”

 

            Raising the heels held in her hands, Lena smiled, giving her a small shrug. “My feet were aching. Come on, take yours off.”

 

            Obeying, Kara tossed them aside, and laughed as Lena gave her a mocking curtsy with a flourish of one hand. Dipping into a polite curtsy of her own, one edge of her skirt held out as she dipped her head, Kara smiled brightly as Lena took her in her arms. Their hands came together and Lena rested her chin on Kara’s shoulder, letting out a gentle sigh.

 

            “Are you feeling better?” Kara murmured.

 

            “Mm. I had a very nice nap. I'm sorry about my moodiness earlier.”

 

            “If I didn't want to put up with moodiness, then I definitely married the wrong person. I'm just glad you got some rest.”

 

            “What’d you get up to?”

 

            Kara hesitated slightly, gently spinning her around as they waltzed, in perfect sync after so many balls and dances. She quietly wished they had some music, but it was no less sweet of a moment for the lack of it, and she caught the quick glimpse of Lena’s smile before they came back together.

 

            “I … went for a walk. And then I had a chat with Astra.”

 

            “What was she doing here?”

 

            “She knows I’m pregnant,” Kara calmly explained, watching surprise and irritation flicker across Lena’s face as she pulled back and frowned up at Kara. “No, I didn’t tell her. She figured it out herself, and I have her word that she won’t tell anyone.”

 

            “Bloody hell,” Lena sighed, a look of anger in her eyes. “Good lot that’ll do. Her word means nothing to me.”

 

            Pulling her close again, Kara rocked them slightly, letting her lips graze against Lena’s hair. “I believe her this time. She says our interests are aligned, and I made some quite convincing threats. I think you’d be proud.”

 

            With a quiet laugh, her warm breath blowing against Kara’s cheek, Lena pressed a gentle kiss just beneath her earlobe, her voice a low murmur as she spoke. “I’m always proud of you.”

 

            “Don’t worry, I didn’t tell her about you either,” Kara assured her, “I weighed my options and figured that if I couldn’t deny it, at least I could own up to the truth and try and keep you out of her reach while she focuses on me. You’ll have a few more months of peace and quiet from her plans. No doubt she’ll have her opinions of when I should go public, and where the christening should be and all of that.”

 

            “Well I only care about your opinions anyway,” Lena loftily replied.

 

            Laughing, Kara spun Lena around again, her expression softening as she gazed lovingly down at her, watching as a delighted look crossed Lena’s face. “We should have a ball soon. Perhaps for your birthday.”

 

            “Why?”

 

            “Because,” Kara said, kissing her on the tip of her nose, “I like dancing with you.”

 

            Lena quietly laughed, pulling her close again. “I’ll dance with you anytime you’d like.”

Chapter Text

            As October passed by, Kara’s worry started to grow. She was nearing the end of the first trimester when the dreams started. First it was vague flickers that nagged at the back of her mind when she woke, unable to put her finger on what it was she had dreamt about, but as weeks passed by, they took the forms of bombs, guns and cars careening off the road. It was with silent panic that she started fretting over their unborn children and their lives. Lena never knew a word about it, sleeping soundly beside Kara, even when her wife slipped out of bed in the middle of the night to splash some cold water on her face and calm herself down after another nightmare. Kara didn’t want her to know either. Instead, she tried her best to keep her composure, brushing aside Lena’s concerns for her and focusing on other things.

 

            One of their main topics of conversation was Astra, with Lena intent on distrusting Kara’s aunt, despite Kara’s best efforts to change her mind. More than once, they’d ended up arguing over it, neither of them willing to admit the other was right in some respect, leaving them with heavy silence and their pride as they avoided each other in various areas of the palace. Most of the time, Kara was busy with meetings anyway, and was always too worn out by the end of the day to even bother arguing with her.

 

            She found herself more drained than usual, and sore all over, her temper uncharacteristically flaring up more often, which didn’t fit well with Lena’s snark and endless sarcasm, and Kara was looking forward to her morning sickness abating. It didn’t seem to be going anywhere for the time being though, making her even more cranky as she had to duck out of meetings and excuse herself from dinners. The worst part was that there were still only a few people who knew, so she could hardly use it as an excuse to weasel her way out of things she didn’t want to do, which left her even more irritable when she was stuffed into fitted dresses and skirts to visit hospitals and orphanages, or attend charity galas. Lena refused to attend any.

 

            In fact, the only good change during the end of her first trimester was her increased libido, which she’d been expecting, but was still surprising to say the least. Lena was only a couple of weeks behind her, with her limited pregnancy symptoms making Kara feel a little offended, but her heightened hormones made her equally as happy to indulge Kara in as much sex as they could squeeze in around days filled with meetings, and exhausted nights after their sullen silences all day. Still, as good of a mood as it put her in, Kara still found herself worrying, more so as the weeks slipped by.

 

---

 

            She looked around at the marble floor, taking in the patent leather Mary Jane shoes she was wearing, just like the pair she'd owned when she was younger, with the feeling of unease hanging heavily in the air as she let her eyes wander. There was a family portrait on the wall, that had hung there since she’d been born. It was familiar, with the dark hair and piercing blue eyes of the woman, the softer features of the fair haired man, and the white frilly dress of the newborn baby cradled in the woman’s arms.

 

            She felt scared as she stood in the middle of two columns of guards, their ominous march echoing in the long hallway, and she felt like a child as she followed them along in silence. Stopping in front of a towering pair of doors, they parted beneath her touch, revealing a spacious sitting room. It was comfortably furnished, the way she remembered it, with stuffed settees and the large fireplace with orange light spilling out of it from the crackling flames. The place had smelled like leather and flowers. It was all so familiar to her - it was her home - and the woman sitting in a wingback armchair, legs neatly folded and crossed at the ankles, was just as familiar. A wave of relief washed over her.

 

            “Mom?” Kara asked, taking a hesitant step forward, her voice sounding young and innocent to her own ears.

 

            And then the dark haired woman turned, and Kara saw a streak of white in her hair and realised that it wasn’t her mother, it was her Aunt Astra. Aside from that one streak, they were identical, and Kara paused for a moment, the troubled feeling welling up inside her again. Where were her parents?

 

            “Kara,” Astra sighed, a sad look on her face. “I’m sorry.”

 

            Realisation dawned on her, and Kara opened and closed her mouth, feeling herself shaking with sobs. Turning around, she ran out of the room, but instead of finding herself in the hallway, she was running down the front steps of Sunstone Palace, skittering to a stop at the bottom as she looked at the figures all lined up in the middle of the courtyard. Her grandfather was there, tall and regal, as well as her aunt and uncle, her cousin, and Lois Lane. She opened her mouth to let out a cry of relief, taking a step forward, but then pain blossomed in her heart, and she stared down with wide eyes at the vivid red stain spreading across the front of her white shirt. Finding herself speechless with shock, she looked up again, looking at her family with fear in her eyes. Her grandfather took off the small golden crown he was wearing and held it out to her. Numbly shaking her head, Kara stayed rooted to the spot, her hands clasped over her heart as blood ran over her hands, soaking through her clothes and dripping down onto the floor.

 

            “Kara?” a voice asked from behind her, and Kara whirled around, choking on her fear as she took in the sight of Lena standing on the front steps of the palace, two little blond girls in her arms and a loving smile on her face. “Aren’t you going to pick?”

 

            She looked back at the crown her grandfather was holding out to her, and then back at her wife - at her family - and took a step up the staircase, watching a wide smile spread over Lena’s face. That single step triggered a loud ticking noise, and Kara whirled back around, just in time to see a blast radiate from behind her family, obliterating them all in the force of the bomb exploding. She let out a small sound of surprise, watching as the golden crown, unharmed by the explosion, clattered to the ground with a dull, ringing sound, skittering to a stop near her feet. Knowing that it was left for her, Kara stepped towards it and scooped down to pick it up, clutching it tightly in her hands.

 

            A soft gasp of surprise came from behind her, and Kara whirled back around to watch as Lena fell to her knees, a red stain blossoming on the front of her shirt, the little girls gone, and her wife looking ashen as she stared at Kara with accusing eyes. Letting out a hoarse shout, Kara ran up the steps, almost tripping over her feet in her haste, trying her best to reach Lena. It felt like there were a thousand steps, and each one she took, another appeared. But then she was there, reaching out with a bloody hand, while Lena reached out for her, their fingertips stretching, aching to reach each other.

 

---

 

            With a start, Kara bolted upright in bed, her chest heaving as she breathlessly gasped for air, feeling her heat pounding in her chest. Reality came flooding back to her as she became aware of the fact that she was in her bed, in her room, with Lena sleeping beside her. She couldn’t see much through her blurry vision and the darkness of the room, but she could hear the soft rhythm of Lena’s even breathing, and Kara reached out to gently touch her, feeling her stir beneath her touch. Choking on a breathless sob, she squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head, trying to shake the memory of the dream from her mind.

 

            And arm was thrown across her waist, and Kara jumped slightly, jostling the bed. Looking down at Lena, she watched her stir slightly, cuddling up against her, and Kara swallowed the lump in her throat as she reached out to tenderly stroke her hair out of her face. With a sharp inhale, Lena raised her head slightly, and Kara realised that she was awake.

 

            “Kara? What’re you doing?” she mumbled, sounding annoyed and still half asleep.

 

            “I- nothing,” Kara murmured, slipping out from underneath Lena’s arm and leaning down to press a kiss to her forehead, “go back to sleep.”

 

            “Where are you going?”

 

            “The bathroom.”

 

            “Oh.”

 

            She was asleep again a moment later, snuggled up beneath the blankets, her dark hair in contrast to the pillow as Kara cast her a lingering look. Reaching her a silk robe draped over an armchair, she shoved her feet into her slippers and grabbed her phone. It was five o’clock in the morning, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep right then and decided to take matters into her own hands. She couldn’t rest - she’d been troubled by these dreams for weeks now, and they were only getting worse, making her fret over their safety - so she snuck out of the bedroom, quietly tiptoeing past Aoife asleep in her basket, and settled down on a sofa.

 

            Within minutes, she’d phoned her head of security and made arrangements to tighten security around the palace, as well as herself. It made her feel a little more relieved, although she wasn’t sure how long that would hold. Especially when Lena found out. Kara had grown up with her parents’ bodyguards, and then Maggie as her own when she was older, and becoming queen, with dozens of guards watching her every movement of lining the streets for big events, had been a big adjustment that had left her feeling smothered and like her privacy had been violated. Every room they entered had a bodyguard posted outside, and when they left the palace, there were six other guards accompanying them, not as closely as Vasquez or Hector, but there nonetheless. It had taking some getting used to, and neither of them liked it, and Kara knew Lena wouldn’t like this either, but she told herself it was necessary.

 

            Passing the time by sketching the shadowy features of the room in the lamplight, the empty fireplace filled with cold ashes, the books that they’d been reading the night before strewn across the coffee table, along with fine teacups with the cold dregs of tea in them. She drew it all, and then she drew Lena, holding the image of her in her mind, sketching the slight swell of her soft stomach, and the tiny scar beneath her eyebrow, her shallow dimples and ever smirking lips. That was how Lyra found her a couple of hours later, quietly letting herself into the suite, on her way to politely wake the young royals up, when she spotted Kara sitting on the sofa.

 

            “Leave her to sleep,” Kara murmured, giving Lyra a small smile, “we’ll take breakfast later today, please.”

 

            Dipping into a curtsy, Lyra nodded, “of course, ma’am.”

 

            She retreated from their quarters, leaving Kara alone again, her thoughts still troubling her, and she took to going over Lena’s birthday party plans to pass the time. It was a week away, and she’d been planning a masquerade ball for her, following through on her suggestion that they put the ballroom to more use. Lena had been happy to let her plan it, and even helped Kara choose their gowns, settling on gold and white ones that complemented each other and flattered them both. The guest list was into the hundreds, and the ballroom and adjoining rooms of the palace would be filled with the colourful clothing and matching masks of their closest friends and the notable guests they’d been obligated to invite, or else risk offending. It helped calm her mind to go over which wines they’d serve with the salmon, or which flowers would fill the rooms that would be in use, or which string quartet would provide the music for the evening.

 

            By the time Lena rolled out of bed at eight o’clock, her nerves had settled enough for her to convincingly smile at Lena without her thinking that something was wrong. Walking over to her, Lena leant down, cupping Kara’s face in her hands and placing a gentle kiss on her lips, before straightening up. “I wasn’t woken,” Lena said, an accusation in her voice.

 

            “I thought it’d be good for you to get some more sleep,” Kara softly smiled up at her, reaching up to place her hands on her waist, “I told Lyra we’d take breakfast later. My first meeting isn’t until twelve anyway.”

 

            “Don’t forget Winn is coming to visit today,” Lena reminded her, collapsing onto the sofa beside her.

 

            Sighing, Kara rubbed at her forehead, “ah, yes, that’s right. We’ll have lunch inside. It’s supposed to rain today.”

 

            Shifting in her seat, Lena gave her a tired smile, “yes, Your Majesty.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Kara let out a snort of laughter and climbed to her feet, holding out a hand to Lena. “While I’m ordering you about, let’s have a shower.”

 

            They lingered beneath the hot water, discussing what they each had planned for the day - Kara had a few matters to attend to, while Lena planned on enjoying tea with Veronica, who was stopping by Argo City for the day - and they dressed quickly. Kara let Lena zip the back of her dress up for her, and she nimbly buttoned the shirt that Lena was wearing, and then they both decided it was time for breakfast.

 

            Stepping out into the hallway, they were met by four bodyguards in total, and Lena paused for a moment, before hurrying along after Kara. In their usual small dining room, they were helped into seats by the footmen waiting for them, while the butler oversaw their breakfast being brought in through a passageway leading to the kitchens. Two of the royal household guards were outside the doors in their dress uniform, alongside the two new additions to their personal security detail, while Hector and Vasquez took up new posts inside the room with them. Kara spotted the tops of heads of two other guards outside the windows, standing in front of the neat flower beds outside. The footmen served them porridge, perfectly boiled eggs nestled in egg cups and neat rectangles of toast to tip into the yolks.

 

            With a flourish, Lena set her napkin in her lap, gesturing for one of the waiters to pour freshly squeezed apple juice in a glass, and she eyed Kara with amusement from her place at her right hand. It wasn’t until they were left alone by the waitstaff that she voiced her thoughts.

 

            “So … anything I should know about?” she conversationally started.

 

            Kara glanced at both bodyguards, standing still, as if to be mistaken for statues or a piece of furniture, and then gave Lena a reassuring smile. “No.”

 

            “Kara-”

 

            “I’m just taking precautions, Lena,” she interrupted.

 

            “Precautions about what? How long am I going to have to have even more shadows lurking about? I swear I can’t even bloody go to the bathroom by myself anymore.”

 

            Sighing, Kara gave her a stern look, stirring some milk into her tea and pulling the saucer closer. “It’s … permanent,” she hesitantly said, waving away Lena’s objections before she could voice them. “Look, I know it’s not ideal, but it’s for everyone’s sake. Ours and the babies. It’s not unreasonable for me to want to make sure that we’re all fine.”

 

            Pursing her lips, Lena accepted Kara’s point, but she still frowned slightly, looking displeased at the thought of having more people following her every movement. She struggled more than Kara did with the caged life they lived, especially when even being princess of Thorul had afforded her more freedom that being the wife of the queen did, and she hadn’t exactly been pleased about the constraints placed on her life in Thorul.

 

            “Four personal guards though, darling. Come on, doesn’t that seem a bit too extreme?”

 

            “Not at all,” Kara protested, “nothing is extreme when it comes to the safety of our heirs. Or you. We’ll have four personal bodyguards, and when we leave the palace, there’ll be an armed escort of eight.”

 

            Spluttering, Lena’s eyes widened slightly, “you want us to go everywhere with eight guards?”

 

            “Yes. Eight, plus our four bodyguards.”

 

            “Kara!”

 

            “Lena, please, be reasonable.”

 

            “Me be reasonable?” Lena choked out, a hysterical laugh falling from her lips, “twelve guards just to go out of the front fucking door? That’s ridiculous. Hector has served me well for years . I think it’s insulting to even think he’d let someone hurt me.”

 

            Giving her an exasperated look, Kara set her teacup down and demurely folded her hands on the table as she looked at her wife. She wasn’t sure how she could explain it to Lena without bringing up her dreams, and she didn’t want to bring the dreams up. There was another nagging thought that had been bothering her for a few weeks too, and it involved Lena, and Kara didn’t want to give her wife any reason to doubt her trust for her. It was easier if she just glossed over it as a simple security concern, as opposed to her revealing her fear that something might happen. It wasn’t the first time someone in her family had fallen victim to an attack on their life. She was the only one left. It was those exact circumstances that had led her to sit on the throne anyway, and if she had to wear the crown, then she’d do everything in her power to make sure that she used her privilege to protect her wife. Her dream wouldn’t come to fruition. The meaning had been clear - the crown or her future family - but she could have it all.

 

            “This isn’t an attack on Hector’s skill or dedication,” Kara calmly told her, “it’s a safety precaution for the babies.”

 

            “No one even knows yet!”

 

            “That’s beside the point! Am I not allowed to make sure that nothing bad happens to you?”

 

            “Not when I feel like I’m suffocating,” Lena huffed, “honestly, Kara, they’d have to make it through the front gates firstly, and then into the building. Who’s going to hurt us in our own home?”

 

            Giving her a tight smile, Kara picked up her spoon and dipped it into the porridge. “Well I hardly expected anyone to ram my parents off the road, or blow my family up, but forgive me for not realising that nothing like that could ever happen to you. It’s not like we’ve been shot at before.”

 

            Pushing her chair back, Lena fluidly rose to her feet, dropping her napkin onto the table and stalking over to the door. She ignored Kara calling her name and stepped out into the hallway, with Hector quickly following after her, sketching a hasty bow towards Kara in his wake, and she heard Lena’s haughty dismissal of the guards that tried to follow after her. Feeling her eyes prickle with tears as her heightened emotions got the better of her, Kara tightly gripped the spoon in her hand and ground her teeth together as a lump formed in her throat. She forced herself to swallow the porridge, which felt thick and got stuck in her throat, before she gave up on breakfast, knowing it would be on its way back up within the hour anyway.

 

            As soon as she was done, she left the dining room and walked up to her office on the second floor, her retinue of guards following after her and posting themselves outside the door as she swept into the massive office. Lyra had already been in and arranged things for her, leaving her locked box on the massive mahogany desk. Taking a seat behind the desk, Kara opened the box and pulled out a stack of documents that needed her signature and seal, as well as a few letters the needed the same. For the next hour, she dutifully read through everything and attached her name and a small blob of wax, which she pressed a golden stamp with her crest into the hot wax.

 

            A neat stack accumulated on her desk, and aside from a bathroom break, she remained seated at the desk, busying herself with her work and trying not to dwell on Lena’s irritation towards her. Both of them were easy to offend these days, and she didn’t hold it against her, knowing that she’d get over herself soon, and Kara knew that Lena was right in some regards, but Kara was right in her reasons for protecting them both too. Still, she felt even more justified in her reasonings when she thought about the bomb that had killed the rest of her family and the car crash her parents had been in. When she’d been shot at, the person who had done it had been caught, but whoever had set off the bomb had never been apprehended, and while Kara told herself that their investigations had been fruitless because it was a one off occurrence, and she wasn’t the next target, she couldn’t help but think about the dangers of bringing children into a lifestyle that could but them into the middle of a plot against their lives. Monarchies weren’t exactly as popular or powerful as they’d once been, although with the modern age of technology, it was easy for her to have raised the popularity for herself with her social media posts and her face plastered on every news outlet whenever she so much as set foot outside the door.

 

            Then there were her parents. Whoever had rammed them off the road had never been found, and it had always haunted Kara, knowing that she couldn’t do anything, because by the time she was old enough to realise that it wasn’t just a plain car accident, the trail had been cold for years. All of her family had died in successful assassination attempts, and it would have to be over her dead body before she saw the same happen to the new family she’d built for herself. Alex and Eliza were never far from her sides in important social events, and they were well within the reaches of the target that would be painted on her, and Kara couldn’t help but feel like there was something she was missing. All attacks were different, but how many groups and organisations could’ve wanted them dead? How many powerful people had her family threatened or pissed off?

 

            She needed someone to look into it for her. Kara knew she wouldn’t be able to rest easy until she’d had someone turn over every stone, feeling like a child who needed the closet checked before bedtime, but there was also the issue of finding someone to undertake the task of chasing ghosts. No one could know, and it couldn’t get back to anyone at the palace. If word got out that an investigation was underway into the deaths of her family, it could tip off anyone involved, and it would paint Kara in a paranoid light. She needed someone discrete, who she could trust to be loyal and quiet, and have her family’s best interests at heart. Vasquez would’ve been a perfect choice if it hadn’t been for the fact that she was Kara’s personal bodyguard, and not at liberty to disappear for hours at a time to look into things and do her research. It’d have to be someone else.

 

            Kara was still pondering the issue, an idea brewing in her mind as she was filled with guilt and unease, when there was a quick rap on the door, before Lena breezed in. She looked a little aloof as shut the door and strode across the Persian rug, her arms folded across her chest as she gave Kara a haughty look. Her resolve wavered though as Kara looked up at her, pushing her glasses up her nose, and Lena dropped her lofty act, unfolding her arms and letting her shoulders sag as she walked towards the desk.

 

            “Fine. I’m sorry, I understand why you’re worried about our safety, and I didn’t think about that when I spoke,” Lena blurted out, “but it would’ve been nice if you’d consulted me on the matter first. You know how I feel about … all of this.” She waved a hand around in a vague gesture of their life. “One bodyguard has always been enough for me. Let alone the prison walls and the Big Brother cameras. I don’t want to feel trapped.”

 

            “I know, and neither do I,” Kara quietly replied, screwing the cap onto the expensive gold pen she held, before she set it carefully down onto the desk and climbed to her feet. Rounding the desk, letting her fingers trail across the varnished surface of the wood, she gave Lena a pleading look. “But I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to you. And when we have children … they’re going to be the most important things in our lives. I don’t want to put them through what I went through with my parents.”

 

            Softly sighing, Lena drifted closed towards her as Kara perched on the edge of her desk, giving her a sad smile. “I know. I worry about it too and it’s still so far off. I’m not even a third of the way through yet and there’s so much I think about going wrong. I want to protect them from our lives just as much as you do, but I won’t lock myself up inside and wrap myself in cotton wool because I’m having a baby.”

 

            “Okay,” Kara sighed, “but when you leave-”

 

            “I’ll have the extra guards when I leave the palace,” Lena agreed, extending her arms and wiggling her fingers slightly as she waited for Kara to reach out for her. "But the rest of them can bugger off while I'm safe inside."

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Kara took hold of her warm hands and pulled her closer, finding herself eye level with Lena from her perch on the edge of the desk, and she smiled as she slowly kissed her. Her hands went to Lena’s waist, brushing against the waistband of the suit dress pants, and Kara felt her heart speed up as Lena’s lips became more urgent against hers. Pulling herself back, Kara gave her an amused look, her blue eyes sparkling as she raised an eyebrow slightly.

 

            “I’ve finished all my paperwork and my first meeting isn’t for another hour,” she said, leaning forward to steal a kiss.

 

            “That’s plenty of time,” Lena mumbled against her lips, and Kara laughed into the kiss.

 

            “Just … let me finish up here,” Kara hesitantly told her, a pressing matter on her mind, which would potentially ruin the mood if she couldn’t take her mind off it while being undressed by her wife. She gave Lena a quick peck and a coy smile. “I’ll meet you upstairs.”

 

            With a slightly smug look, Lena raised her eyebrows, almost as if in a challenge, before kissing her once more and walking backwards out of her grasp. “Don’t keep me waiting too long,” she ordered, before turning on her heel and walking out of the room with as much haughty pride as she’d walked in with.

 

            Shaking her head, Kara bit her lip as she let out a quiet chuckle, her blood rushing in her ears as desire swept over her. She’d have to be quick about her business. She knew she needed to do what had to be done, even if it meant keeping a few secrets that would put her on the wrong side of her sister and her wife, and it filled her with guilt to dig into Lena’s dealings with her anti-monarchist organisation, but Kara needed someone to see if they were a threat. Not that she thought Lena was a threat to their unborn babies’ lives, but the group could still be lingering in the shadows. Just because you cut the head off a snake, it didn’t mean that a new one wouldn’t come and take its place.

 

            There were too many different attacks for her to even be sure which way another one would come from. Were any of them connected? Were any of them still real threats, ready to bring down the House of El for good? If Kara died then her crown would be offered up to Daxam, as the nearest blood relations to her, or the monarchy would be abolished. She found both ideas horrible. Her plan was much better, and all she hoped was that she could get the help that she needed.

 

            Picking up her phone, she called a number that she hadn’t used in a long while, hoping that it was still the same one, and listened to it ring with some relief. Her call was answered almost immediately, with a few moments of staticky silence stretching across the connection, before a wary voice spoke, almost sounding as if it was a mistake that Kara was calling them.

 

            “Your Majesty?”

 

            “Maggie. I need your help.”

Chapter Text

            “Bloody hell, why did I agree to this?” Lena muttered, standing on a pedestal as she laced on a pair of black leather pants.

 

            “For the dancing,” Kara replied, wincing slightly as the corset was tightly laced up. “A little looser please, Lyra.”

 

            The laces gave way just a little, and she watched as Lena put on a white shirt with billowing sleeves and ruffled cuffs. Pearl buttons lined the front and they were quickly buttoned up, while Kara let herself be helping into a few more petticoats. Lena glanced over her shoulder, giving Kara an exasperated look. “I don’t even like dancing.”

 

            “Correction: you only like dancing with me.”

 

            “Well, yes,” Lena agreed, “but because it’s a ball, I’ll be forced to dance with everyone else too. And my feet are already sore enough. Thank God I’m not wearing heels.”

 

            “They’ll have to pry you out of my arms, and lucky you,” Kara dryly replied, holding her arms up as a heavily embroidered pale pink dress was slipped over her head and buttoned up at the back with a row of pearls.

 

            The embroidery was silver, lavender and powder blue, in the patterns of leaves and flowers, complementing the detailing on the dove grey frock coat that completed Lena’s costume. Kara pulled on ivory coloured gloves while Jess tied a silk regency scarf around Lena’s neck, beneath the stiff collar of her shirt. Both of them had their hair curled and pinned up in differing styles with little diamond hair pins and silver tiaras nestled in their hair. They looked every part the eighteenth century couple, ready for a ball, and with the finishing touches of little matching masks, they were ready for the party.

 

            All of their guests had started arriving half an hour beforehand, and they took a few minutes to take some professional photos before joining the party. It wasn’t Lena’s birthday until the next day, but Saturday night was a more suitable night for a ball. The gentle sound of string music reached them first, drifting through the hallways with the hum of chatter and laughter, as they were escorted through the palace in their costumes. The thick red carpet muffled the sound of their footsteps, and Kara smoothed her skirts, feeling nervous as she walked arm in arm with Lena. Her mind was distracted - she had been for the past month or so, with the anniversary of her parents’ death coming and going, made worse with her pregnancy brain and crazy hormones - and she was feeling a bit bloated, resisting the urge to anxiously touch her stomach, as she readied herself for a long night of socialising and a secret matter that made her nervous.

 

            “You look beautiful, by the way,” Lena murmured, giving her a smile.

 

            Breaking herself out of her thoughts, Kara gave her a dazzling smile, cozying up to Lena as she gave her arm a squeeze. “So do you.”

 

            Lena gave her a smile, her green eyes shining from behind her grey mask, and she leaned over to give Kara a quick peck on the cheek. A feeling of warmth spreading through her, Kara perked up slightly, feeling a little less nauseous and a little more inclined to pull Lena into one of the sitting rooms lining the hallway. If they didn’t have a whole room full of guests waiting for them, she might’ve done so, but they were already fashionably late, and the last of their guests had already arrived.

 

            Continuing down the hallway, they heard the sound of a man announcing their arrival, and Lena cast a look at all of the guards milling about in the hallway between the ballroom and the large room opposite it serving as the dining room for the evening. The doors to the dining room were closed at present, but gentle music spilled out of the quiet room as the man stopped talking and they appeared in the doorway, arm in arm. Shoulders back and chins up, they glided into the room, making a striking pair in their costumes, and they took in the sea of guests facing them. A riot of colours mixed together, a variety of different costumes all accompanied with a mask, and Kara smiled and nodded to everyone as they all respectfully greeted them with shallow bows or curtsies.

 

            Pastel flowers decorated the room, with pink roses and blue hydrangeas clustered together to match the colour of Kara and Lena’s costumes. Silver chandeliers gleamed in the yellow light coming from tiny polished light bulbs, gilt frames caught the light, shining brightly while the faces of generations of the House of El stared out from the walls. The string quartet started up again as the royals moved further into the room, and the hum of conversation started up again. The lesser important guests hung back, waiting for Kara and Lena to come to them, and Kara made the correct assumption that the blonde and brunette who came forward first were Eliza and Alex. Her sister was wearing an elegant masked pirate costume in dark colours, while Eliza was wearing a deep blue dress.

 

            Lena let out a quiet groan as her attention was caught by more figures moving towards them, and she greeted Eliza warmly, before turning her attention to her mother. Lillian was tall and intimidating in her heels and an extravagant dress in a dark shade of green. Even with the mask, it left no secret as to who was behind it, and Lena gave her a brittle smile, while Kara made a somewhat better effort to be gracious towards her mother-in-law. She nodded politely to Lex too, as the king gave his sister an affectionate kiss on the cheek. Lena just rolled her eyes and Kara pressed a reassuring hand to her lower back, a gentle reminder for her to keep her temper in check.

 

            “Happy birthday, Lena,” Lex said, a charming smile flashing across his face as he held her at arms length, “you’re looking well. When are you going to come home and visit?”

 

            “Perhaps when you get married,” Lena curtly replied, and Lillian let out a sigh, giving her daughter an icy stare. “Perhaps mom will stop pestering me about kids then.”

 

            Lex laughed, and Kara gave him a hesitant smile, knowing that she didn’t need to apologise for Lena’s behaviour to her own brother. He’d grown up with her, and knew better than anyone else how Lena’s moods turned at the drop of a hat. Of course, he didn’t know that they were more susceptible to change these days, or the reason why. One of Lena’s biggest concerns for the evening were that her mom would try and pry too much into that area of their relationship, although Kara had soothingly assured her that she would be more than willing to throw herself under the bus and reveal her own pregnancy to Lillian if it would help ease Lena’s mind.

 

            “Perhaps it’ll be sooner than you think then,” Lex said, gesturing to the tanned woman with dark hair on his arm. She was pretty, but didn’t look meek as she met Kara’s curious stare. She knew the woman, of course, having seen the tabloids covering Lex’s latest fling, and having attended multiple events where she was present. “May I present Lady Helen Bryce.”

 

            “Charmed,” Lena frostily replied.

 

            Kara held her hand out to shake the woman’s hand, trying to ease the tension between the family, while her own watched on. She could feel the eyes of other guests watching them, although none were close enough to eavesdrop on the quiet conversation, and even if they were, it was only their closest friends, next in line to be greeted once the Prime Minister was out of the way.

 

            “Lady Helen,” Kara said, giving her a friendly smile, “it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

 

            They lapsed into silence for a few moments once the niceties were out of the way, and Lena looked her brother up and down, taking in the deep purple suit he was wearing, accented with a deep green waistcoat and mask - the two colours of Thorul - and she let out a sniff of contempt, in a manner so much like her mother that it surprised Kara. “You look like Willy Wonka,” Lena finally said, before she turned her attention to Alex.

 

            Choking back a laugh of surprise, Kara excused herself from the presence of her in-laws and greeted Cat Grant, drawing her into the conversation Lena was having with Alex, who had roped in Sam. There were a flurry of hugs and kisses, a few comments about politics before Cat excused herself for some wine, and then their other friends were there. Winn was there with his latest date, Lucy appeared with James, making vague comments about their two sons, with knowing looks on their faces. Kara had chosen to tell Lucy, trusting her lawyer to keep it a secret, and by extension, had told James. Winn currently didn’t know, with his bad habit of talking far too much.

 

            After that came Gayle Marsh, and Kara smiled when Lena’s face lit up. Out of all of her friends, she rarely got to see Gayle, and Kara was happy the other woman had taken the time to fly in from New York for the party. They’d all celebrate properly together at a private dinner with just their friends, but Lena was happy enough to see her at the party anyway. It didn’t take long for the rest of Lena’s friends to find them.

 

            “Lena,” Jack said, approaching with a smile on his face, giving both of them a courteous bow, “don’t you look … dashing.”

 

            “A regular Mr Darcy,” Veronica snorted as she followed after him, dipping into a shallow curtsy.

 

            Kara let out a snort of laughter, while Lena exchanged cheek kisses with them both, assuring them that she was fine for drinks when they noticed the lack of alcohol in hand. They were all unaware of the pregnancies, what with Lena’s tenuous relationship with having friends, and Kara called over a waiter in a white tuxedo, murmuring a quiet request for two champagne flutes of sparkling water to help them blend in with the partygoers nursing drinks. If Astra had cottoned on because of Kara nursing a warm glass for a couple of hours, then surely more would notice when neither of them were drinking at a birthday party. Especially given Lena’s reputation as a partygirl.

 

            Making the rounds through the throngs of guests, making polite conversation with some, and conversing about more genuine topics with ones that Kara personally knew, sipping at her sparkling water and listening to the string quartet playing from the corner. The doors to the dining hall were opened not too long after, with guests slowly making the trip across the hallway to dine on the selection of fancy foods made by some of the top chefs in the world that Kara had flown in for the occasion. She’d added a few strong flavoured foods to the menu, with recipes featuring pickles, mustard and peanuts, giving into their cravings in a manner that wouldn’t be too obvious with the creative dishes the cravings had been disguised amongst.

 

            She was speaking with Hank Henshaw, the Chief of General Staff in Krypton’s military, discussing matters of their country’s defence, along with Astra, who was still trying to worm her way back into Kara’s good graces, when Lena interrupted her. Stealing the fine china plate out of her hand and passing it off to a waiter, despite Kara’s protests at the deviled eggs with the mustard filling that she’d been saving until the end. She threaded her arm through Lena’s, giving her an amused look as they slowly wound their way through the guests, politely nodding and smiling as they passed by with a regal air, until they were back in the ballroom, where Lena led her onto the dancefloor. She obliged Kara with three dances in a row, before they were both asked the honour of dancing with some of the other guests. Kara was gracious enough to accept the offer of everyone who asked, dancing to song after song flooding the room, until her feet were hurting and she could feel herself starting to sweat beneath the heavy layers of silk and tulle.

 

            By the time it was announced that their seated dinner was ready to begin, she was more relieved than she cared to admit, feeling the need to sit down and rest awhile without seeming rude. Sweeping from the hall a little faster than was exactly ladylike, Kara soon found herself seated at the head of the table, with Lena by her right and Lex by her left as a show of respect to her brother-in-law, who happened to be a king. It was a necessary arrangement, with all eyes upon the family and close friends present at the table, and she couldn’t afford to sleight people just because Lena didn’t exactly care for her family, although she was somewhat fond of her brother. They were served five courses, each one melting in Kara’s mouth, and she tried her best to eat slowly for the benefit of everyone else, but she was so hungry and her cravings were so strong that she would’ve devoured it all in a heartbeat if she could’ve. She doubted Astra would approve of her manners if she did though, or Eliza for that matter, having raised her for over half of her life. She was a model queen instead, politely cutting bite size pieces and making conversation with Lex and Lena as she tried to keep a bright smile plastered on her face. Luckily Sam was on Lena’s other side, which meant that Lena was likewise happy, wedged in between two of her favourite people.

 

            Once dinner was over, having ended with a baked cheesecake - Lena’s favourite, with the slight alteration that it was baked to ensure that it was safe for the two of them to eat with the dairy in it - they returned to the ballroom again. More dancing ensued with her wife, and Kara couldn’t help but bite back a smile at the slightly cross look on Lena’s face when she saw Alex dancing with Sam, making a few grumbling comments. Kara thought it was amusing more than anything, and knew that Lena was just more irritable than mad at the obvious strengthening relationship between her best friend and sister-in-law, but she couldn’t help but think that it would complicate things. She kept quiet though, and tried to quell Lena’s irritation about it, feeling guilty for what she was about to do behind her sister’s back. Kara needed Maggie’s help, and the least she could do was try not to come between her sister and Sam when she was about to secretly rope in Alex’s ex for her own benefit. Kara hoped that it would help ease her conscience a bit, but she was already feeling guilty and nothing had come of her phone call yet.

 

            The feeling only grew when she slipped away from the party later on. It was dark outside, the view beyond the windows an inky darkness as the party raged on inside, guests growing less stiff with their manners and words as the wine and whiskey loosened them up a bit, and Kara passed Lena off to Winn for a dance, excusing herself to use the bathroom. Instead, she slipped out into the hallway, turning right and walking down the hallway with Vasquez in tow, taking a right when two hallways intersected, before she ducked into her small office for her private use, as opposed to the grander one for her royal duties. It was close enough to the party that she could sneak away for a few minutes while being close enough to reemerge without rousing suspicion, and she gave Vasquez orders to keep anyone out, before tightly shutting the heavy oak door behind her.

 

            “Your Majesty,” a quiet voice said from the corner, and Kara had to muffle a shout, her heart stumbling slightly, before picking back up at a faster pace.

 

            She peered into the darkness, the dark figure peeling away from the shadowy folds of a curtain, and she hesitantly smiled. The small stature and gait as the short woman walked towards her was a familiar comfort, and Kara felt a flicker of warmth inside, taking in the black mask and cape of the costume. She almost looked like Batman or Zorro.

 

            “Hi Maggie,” Kara murmured, her voice coming out as a small sigh of relief.

 

            With the flick of a switch, the antique lamp on Kara’s desk bathed the room in a yellow light, and the dark figure was only slightly more distinguishable, due to the disguise of her costume. She was tempted to ask Maggie to remove the unnerving black mask, from which her dark eyes stared intensely at Kara. She felt safe with the woman - she’d been Kara’s bodyguard for years , and had taken a bullet for her, so Kara didn’t doubt her intentions - but there was a sense of unease between them. Kara hadn’t seen her since Alex had broken things off with her, and there was a slight feeling of unease hanging between them.

 

            “Thank you for coming,” Kara softly told her, “would you like to sit down?”

 

            Nodding at the courtesy Kara afforded her by allowing her to sit in her presence, Maggie took a seat in the wingback armchair to the left of the settee Kara settled down on, carefully arranging her skirts around her. Ordinarily she would’ve had tea or perhaps some whiskey available, but given the nature of the meeting, and the fact that there was a party raging on down the hallway, it didn’t seem appropriate. They didn’t have the time for it either.

 

            “I apologise for the secrecy,” Kara said, giving her a hesitant smile, “um, how are you?”

 

            “Not bad,” Maggie said, giving her a tense smile, two dimples furrowing her cheeks. “Can I ask … how is she?”

 

            “Keeping busy,” Kara said, giving her a grim smile as she shrugged slightly. “She’s been, ah, travelling a lot.”

 

            “Good,” Maggie murmured, “that’s good. I’ll be honest, I was a bit surprised to hear from you.”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Kara gave her a weary look, her laughter dying off as she sighed, “I wish I hadn’t had to call.”

 

            Shifting slightly in her seat, leaning forward with her elbows on her thighs, “Kara. I mean-”

 

            Waving away her concerns, Kara gave her a wry smile, “don’t worry yourself about formalities. You were almost family. You saved my life. I haven’t forgotten about that - that’s why I trust you to help me. I need your help, Maggie.”

 

            “With what?”

 

            “I need you to investigate something for me. I need you to be discrete about it - no one can know - and I need you to be thorough. Whoever killed my family, I need you to find them. Not just the bomb, but the car crash with my mom and dad too. I need you to see if it’s connected, and I need to know that I’m safe.”

 

            Tilting her head to the side, Maggie gave her a hard look, her expression unreadable behind her mask. “Why the sudden concern for your life? Has something happened? Is security-”

 

            “I’m pregnant,” Kara blurted out, interrupting Maggie’s speculations in order to move the conversation along quicker. She only had a small window of time to explain everything to Maggie, and no time to waste on keeping secrets. She trusted her with her life, and her unborn baby’s life. “So is Lena.”

 

            Despite the mask, the surprise that flashed across Maggie’s face was evident, and her mouth opened and closed a few times as she searched for something to say. “Congratulations.”

 

            “Thank you,” Kara quickly replied, moving on to the next point. “You have complete freedom to do whatever you need to do to investigate. You’ll have diplomatic immunity in every country I’m at liberty to grant it to you in, in my name, and anything else you need. Money. Transport. Accommodation. I need you to be a ghost. No one else can know. No one else even knows I’m asking this of you - not even Lena - so I need you to swear that you won’t speak to anyone else about this. You don’t report to anyone but me. This is how much I can pay you for it. Anything else you want, I’ll do my best to give it to you too.”

 

            She rose to her feet, walking over to her desk and pulled an already signed cheque out of the desk drawer, before walking back over to Maggie and handing it to her. Brown eyes widened at the obscene amount of money written on the piece of paper, and Maggie gave her a hesitant look, unsure if Kara had meant to write down that much. Kara would’ve emptied her bank account to keep Lena safe.

 

            “Do you know what I’m looking for?” Maggie quietly asked, “you think it’s related, don’t you? That you’re next?”

 

            “Yes. No. I don’t know,” Kara sighed, resisting the urge to run her fingers through her hair and mess up her carefully pinned curls. “I just … I was shot at once. If I have a baby, I don’t want that to ever happen to them.”

 

            “I understand,” Maggie murmured, “I’ll do it. If you have anywhere you think I should start then-”

 

            A loud, insistent knocking on the door made her cut off mid-sentence, and both of them jumped to their feet. Hissing as she ushered Maggie back to her hiding spot amongst the heavy velvet curtains, Kara neatly arranged the skirts of her dress and moved over to the door. Opening it a crack, while she listened to lithe footsteps and swishing of fabric, Kara poked her head outside, eyes widening slightly with panic as she took in the sight of Eliza anxiously waiting outside, a look of concern on her face.

 

            Opening the door wider, Kara gave her a small smile, “Eliza-”

 

            “You need to come with me,,” Eliza interrupted her, “Lena’s fainted.”

 

            Paling slightly, Kara gathered up the hem of her dress and rushed out into the corridor, muttering under her breath as she hurried down the well lit hallway. Eliza followed after, explaining what had happened, and Kara was relieved to know that it hadn’t been seen by many people. It was clear that she would’ve fainted because of her pregnancy, whether it be sudden low blood pressure, or perhaps high body temperature, and Kara knew that if everyone had been watching, it would’ve been Lena’s worst nightmare. It didn’t make her less worried though as she moved further down the hallway, bypassing the open doors of the ballroom and dining room, where guests were dancing, drinking, eating and laughing together. A couple of men that Kara knew from attending Lena’s polo matches spilled out of the dining room, pausing to let her by with deferential nods of their heads, and she gave them a thin smile as she passed by.

 

            Just a few rooms down from the party, Hector stood outside a door, giving Kara a nod as he stepped aside, opening the door for her so she could walk in. As soon as she stepped inside, half a dozen faces turned her way, but she was only looking at Lena, who was already sitting up, snapping at Lex as he tried to help prop her up. She couldn’t have been out for too long, because Kara assumed that Eliza had fetched her instantly, and her long frock coat had been removed, strewn over the arm of the sofa, with her mask not too far away.

 

            “Lena,” Kara quietly exclaimed, dropping to her knees beside the sofa as she tentatively reached out for her wife, “what happened?”

 

            “Well, you see, I fainted,” Lena curtly replied, a slight sheen of sweat covering her skin, despite the layer of makeup on her face. The short, fine hairs along her hairline were damp and her pale skin was a little more flushed than usual.

 

            The door opened and Alex stepped inside with a glass of water, a look of relief on her face when she saw that Kara was already there, and she crossed the room to hand it to Lena, who muttered her thanks and drained the glass quickly, ice cubes clinking together at the bottom. She swung her legs around, booted feet planted firmly on the floor, and made to stand up, before a few pairs of hands kept her at bay, much to Lena’s irritation.

 

            “Hey, just stay there a moment,” Kara gently murmured, “give it a second to pass. You should get some sugar inside you. Are your ears still ringing?”

 

            “I’m fine, Kara,” Lena sighed, giving her a reassuring look, although she looked uncomfortable as she pulled at the front of her shirt. “It’s just- it’s these bloody trousers. God, it feels like they’re stuck to me like a second skin.”

 

            She hurriedly untucked her shirt and started unlacing the tight leather pants, much to everyone’s surprise, and Kara quickly glanced around at the gathered faces. Eliza, Alex, Sam, Winn, Lex, Lillian and Astra. People they trusted and family. It wasn’t going to be making headlines tomorrow, which was a relief, although Lena looked irritated at the presence of her family and Astra, although that had less to do with fainting and more to do with her general opinion of them.

 

            “You should fetch a doctor,” Lillian suggested, a look of mild concern on her face as she stared down at her daughter.

 

            “I’m not dying, mother,” Lena tersely replied, “I’m just pregnant.”

 

            There was a shocking silence, which hung heavy over everyone assembled as Lena’s words sank in. There was mild surprise from a few gathered, who knew the truth of the matter, and then there was the stunned looks of disbelief from Lena’s family, Astra and Winn. It stretched on for a few more moments, with Kara tugging Lena’s boots off, knowing that the fitted calf high leather boots must be making her feel even more claustrophobic and hot, and she could feel an accusing pair of eyes on her back.

 

            “Pregnant?” Lillian finally exclaimed.

 

            “Wait, you told me you were pregnant,” Astra chimed in, her words for Kara, who glanced over her shoulder with a hard look on her face.

 

            “Yes.”

 

            Winn let out a spluttering sound while Alex groaned, the whole situation falling even further into chaos. “Wait, what? You’re pregnant?” he asked, an alarmed look on his face as he toyed with the mask held in his hands. He was dressed as some sort of elf, looking comical with his raised eyebrows and pointy ears.

 

            “You’re pregnant too?” Lillian sharply asked, glancing at Kara.

 

            “Can someone please just tell me who’s pregnant,” Lex drawled from the armchair he’d taken up residence in after Lena had brushed his help aside. He had his top hat in his lap and an amused look on his face as her surveyed them all, looking every inch like a haughty king from his seat.

 

            “We both are, now would you mind being quiet ,” Lena snapped, “everyone out. Now.”

 

            With a sigh, Kara nodded to her friends and her family, avoiding Astra’s hard stare as she retreated without protest. Lex pushed himself to his feet with a theatrical sigh, jamming his hat back down onto his head and throwing an arm around Winn’s shoulders as he escorted him out. Sam gave Lena a soft smile, giving her shoulder a slight squeeze before she pressed her hand to Alex’s lower back and guided her out. The dark look Lena shot at their backs didn’t escape Kara’s notice, and she gave her wife’s knee a gentle squeeze of warning and a pointed look, which Lena rolled her eyes at.

 

            Everyone except Lillian left, the older woman giving her daughter a look of annoyance, the muscles in her jaw twitching slightly. “You-”

 

            Holding up a hand, Lena closed her eyes, grinding her teeth together for a moment. “I’m not having this conversation with you,” she quickly interrupted her, “if I’d wanted you to know, I would’ve told you. I don’t owe you any explanations. All I ask is that you don’t tell anyone else. You’ve done enough damage to my life; let me have this small bit of privacy before I start showing.”

 

            Much to Kara’s surprise, Lillian slowly nodded, bristling slightly at the dismissive tone in her daughter’s voice. “And how far along are you exactly?”

 

            “Eleven weeks,” Lena replied in a clipped tone. “If you must know, Kara is thirteen.”

 

            “Ah,” Lillian muttered, casting the kneeling queen a sceptical look, as if she was trying to tell by her flat stomach whether Lena was telling the truth or not. Nothing in their appearances would give them away.

 

            She left without another word, and Lena flopped back against the decorative pillows, one arm trailing along the back of the sofa as she closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath, before letting out a withering sigh. The room felt a lot less claustrophobic with just the two of them, and Kara was silent as she climbed to her feet and sat down next to her wife, looking at her with wide, cautious eyes.

 

            “I could murder a brandy,” Lena finally muttered.

 

            “Do you want me to fetch more water?”

 

            “No.”

 

            She let out a small sigh, a look of regret on her face as eyelids flew open to reveal green eyes, and she gave Kara a tired smile. Reaching out to take her hand, Kara gave her a grim smile. “Why’d you tell her?”

 

            “She was getting on my bloody nerves, and at least now she'll stop asking,” Lena muttered, a frown furrowing her brow as she gave her a disgruntled look, “where were you anyway? I was looking for you.”

 

            Opening her mouth, Kara felt a flicker of guilt well up inside. It wasn’t like she could’ve stopped Lena from fainting, but she should’ve been within easy reach of her wife to have known without having to be fetched. Giving her a sheepish look, Kara squeezed her hand. “I was just … checking on something. I’ve got a surprise for you later.”

 

            The way she phrased it made it seem like the two were connected, but that was far from the truth, although she did have a surprise. It wasn’t so much a surprise though, but an expected tradition, and Lena would be anticipating it for her birthday anyway. Fanning herself with her hand, Lena grimaced, plucking at the front of her shirt with her other hand as she cast Kara a sceptical look.

 

            “Aren’t you hot in that?”

 

            “Boiling,” Kara admitted with relief, rucking the thick layers of skirts up to expose her stockinged legs.

 

            Huffing, Lena gave her a pout, “how come you haven’t fainted beneath all that? I was bloody excited to be the one in trousers, and with no fucking heels for once, and of course you’re the one who’s completely fine, you lucky cow.”

 

            Laughing, Kara leant over to give her a gentle kiss on her flushed cheek. “You say that now, but I’ve had to excuse myself to vomit three times this evening already,” Kara grimly told her. “Thank God for breath mints.”

 

            Tutting, Lena climbed to her feet, slowly pacing back and forth, her unlaced pants turned over at the waist, while her shirt hung wrinkled and loose around her, making her look very dishevelled. Kara quite liked it. In fact, she liked it a lot, and she held her hands out to Lena, drawing her into her lap with a smile playing on her lips.

 

            “You know what, Jack was right. You do have a bit of a Mr Darcy look going on,” Kara laughed, tilting her head up to kiss Lena, her hands going to her waist, “I like it. It’s very … handsome.”

 

            “Ah yes, handsome, the very best compliment I could ever receive,” Lena scoffed, “although, it is quite dapper, I’ll admit. I never realised you had a thing for the eighteenth century. Perhaps I should dress like this more often. It’s very traditional, I’m sure everyone would love to see the monarchy regress.”

 

            Sighing, Kara gave her an exasperated look from behind her mask, reaching up to fix the collar of Lena’s shirt, stroking her fingers over the silk cravat tied in a regency bow. “You’re very cynical.”

 

            “That’s not how I’d describe myself right now,” Lena murmured in her ear, placing a kiss below Kara’s earlobe as her hands grabbed hold of the skirts bundled up in Kara’s lap. “You’re not allowed to wear this many layers again, just for the record. It’s very impractical, and I’m very impatient.”

 

            Letting out a snort of laughter, Kara shook her head slightly. “As much as I’d love to help make it easier for you, I don’t think ending up in my petticoat three doors down from your birthday party, after you’ve just fainted, is a very good idea. Your mother will be back any moment with a doctor, demanding an ultrasound so she can plot the future of the Luthor line.”

 

            Sighing, Lena climbed off her lap and gave her an exasperated look, hastily tucking her shirt back in and lacking her trousers up very loosely. A few moments later, they were both fully dressed and presentable again, and Kara murmured a cautious word for Lena to steer clear of dancing for the rest of the night, and led them back into the ballroom. She plied Lena with water for the rest of the night, keeping close to her side and good naturedly dismissing anyone who asked her for a dance, apologetically explaining that Lena was hers for the evening. Her mind was torn between her vigilance for Lena’s health and the secret plot that she had in motion with Maggie, and Kara found herself spending the rest of the night going through the motions.

 

            At midnight, there was a raucous round of ‘happy birthday’ by the guests who were still present - a large number, despite the elderly guests who had already retired for the night - which was badly off key for the most part, but much appreciated by an exhausted looking Lena, who cut into a five tiered cake that was half of her height and covered with decorative flowers matching the decor. After that, the party started properly winding down, with the music more subdued and slow, while everyone clustered around tables in the dining hall, drinks in hand, curls dropped and bow ties loosened.

 

            During the lull, Kara whisked Lena away, leading her out into the bitterness of the early November night. In their heavy costumes, it was actually pleasant to have the chill seeping into their clothes, cooling them down as they wandered through the dark garden, passing trees with withering brown leaves and flowerbeds that were lacking the colourful blossoms of summer. Neither of them spoke as they walked through the dark, their bodyguards following after them at a safe distance, until the reached a clearing in the middle of a copse of trees. Neatly chopped logs had already been stacked for them, alongside a stack of paper tied with some string, and Kara caught a glimpse of Lena’s white teeth in the dark as she smiled.

 

            Standing back, Kara let her wife kindle a bonfire in the middle of the clearing, bathing the night in the orange warmth of the flickering flames, casting dancing shadows over everything as it made them look eerie in their costumes. One by one, they read out the titles of articles that had been published about Lena, and more frequently, both of them, and tossed them into the fire, watching the flames eagerly lick at the paper, the edges curling and blackening as they were eaten up. It was warm inside the circled of the fire’s warmth, and they were both thoroughly entertained by what the tabloids and others had said about Lena over the past year.

 

            By the time they were finished, they were both ready for bed though, and Kara escorted Lena back through the gardens, into the palace and up to their suite. It was a struggle to get out of her dress, but Lyra was there, half asleep and waiting to help her dress for bed, and Kara could barely hold her arms up as she let her maid unbutton and unlace her, removing layers of tulle and removing millions of dollars worth of jewelry to be returned to their places amongst the rest of the crown jewels. Washing her face clean of her makeup, dressed in lavender silk pyjamas, Kara checked her phone in the bathroom, finding a message off Maggie.

 

            ‘I’ll be in touch with an update’

 

            She let out a sigh of relief at the confirmation that Maggie was onboard, smiling as she reached out for her toothbrush. She couldn’t stop smiling as she stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, brushing her teeth with a feeling of relief building inside at the knowledge that someone would get to the bottom of this for her. Maggie would figure it out, Kara had faith in her, it was just a matter of being patient and letting her do her job. For now, she just hoped that the strange dreams her pregnancy brain had been tormenting her with would go away so she could sleep peacefully.

 

            “What’re you smiling at?” Lena hummed as she came up behind her, wrapping her arms around Kara’s waist and reached past her for her own toothbrush.

 

            “Nothing,” Kara mumbled, spitting into the sink and rinsing off her toothbrush, before she turned to Lena, grabbing her face in her hands and roughly kissing her, the taste of mint strong on her breath. Blinking in surprise as Kara pulled back, Lena gave her a bemused look, letting out a quiet laugh. “Happy birthday, darling,” Kara whispered, tendering cupping Lena’s chin in her hand as she gave her a loving smile and an adoring look. “I love you so much.”

Chapter Text

            They’d had a week of constant rain, confining them to the luxurious rooms of the palace, which by no means helped improve Lena’s mood as they weathered the storm. She was grouchy and snarky, unable to fence, or practice archery or play polo, and Kara tried her best to keep a level head so as not to make matters worse with both of them in dark moods. Lillian had made a few attempts at visiting too, stopping by the day after the party, under the guise of visiting Lena for her birthday, and then again the following two days when Lena refused to make an appearance. Kara was forced to enjoy tea with her mother-in-law and brother-in-law, inviting Astra to join them, because at least her aunt would be able to navigate things with Lillian better than she could. She made up the excuse that Lena was sick in bed, although Lena hadn’t had a whiff of morning sickness yet, and was approaching the end of the typical period for morning sickness. Kara had no such luck.

 

            While Lena was overwhelmingly grateful and relieved to be spared uncomfortable lunches with her family, she was otherwise moody and irritable, mostly due to the fact that she was cooped up inside as torrential rain poured down outside. There were a few scathing comments and petty arguments, but the sun finally made a weak appearance and they’d decided to make the most of it, with Lena all but dragging a bleary eyed Kara out of bed at the crack of dawn. Her nightmares had settled a little, and she’d impatiently messaged Maggie for an update - to no avail - so she was feeling somewhat more agreeable to leaving the palace.

 

            When Kara called Alex, letting Lyra curl her hair for her as she sat in a silk robe, staring at her reflection in the mirror of the vanity, she was surprised to hear that Sam was in town again too. Clearly Lena didn’t know, or else Kara would’ve had to listen to her complaints, which made it all the more worse, because Sam had clearly made a secret trip to see Alex. Still, Alex agreed to lunch, with a nervous promise to bring Sam along, and Kara had to lightly break the news to Lena, who wasn’t particularly pleased.

 

            “Oh come on , Lena,” Kara sighed, dismissing Lyra as she ran a wide comb through her curls, “let them have their fun. They’re both adults here.”

 

            “It’s not their age I’m worried about,” Lena grumbled, pulling on a pair of black slacks and struggling to do the zip up, “they could find fun somewhere else, with someone else, and I’m pissed off that they’ve made it personal. They’re obviously both going to be the godmother’s, but then what if one of them fucks everything up and suddenly out children have one less person who’ll love them for them?”

 

            Sighing, Kara rolled her eyes, “you can’t control them. You’re acting like they can’t make their own decisions, like how everyone acted with us . You sound like your moth-”

 

            “Don’t finish that sentence,” Lena tightly replied, her eyes flashing a warning as she looked up at her wife, a brief wounded look flitting across her features. “Please don’t finish that sentence.”

 

            Closing her eyes, Kara slowly breathed in, before she let out a soft sigh and opened her eyes, reaching out to cup Lena’s face in her hands. “Okay, that’s not what I meant, but you know what I mean. Why is it so hard for you to just ignore it?”

 

            “It took my years to get to a place where I’m happy with my life, Kara,” Lena quietly replied, reaching up to cover Kara’s hand with her own, “and I don’t want anything to ruin that for me now. I’m scared that it’s all too good to be true. My life has always been … secrets and lies, and not a lot of love. I’m still getting used to it, and I know you love me, darling - I’m not saying it has anything to do with you - but it’s only been a few years and I don’t want something to muck it all up for me.”

 

            With a quick laugh, Kara stole a quick kiss, reaching down to help jerk the zipper up, laughing again as Lena quietly swore at the tightness of them. They’d need to look into new wardrobes, sooner rather than later, because they were slowly running out of things to wear that fit them properly with their bloated stomachs. Her laugh was a little strained though, thinking of the secrets she was keeping from Lena - secrets she would lie to keep in order to protect her wife - and the feeling of guilt crept back up on Kara. It was for that reason that she was more open to siding with Alex being happy with Sam, although she truly did understand Lena’s reservations about the idea. Their lives were so public, and their friends and family were heavily featured in their spotlight too, and even a small mistake reflected badly upon the royals. She wasn’t in charge of her sister though, and Kara knew better than to interfere there, knowing it would be selfish to do so in the first place. They’d just have to hope that the press didn’t catch wind of the budding relationship between the two women, and that if things fell apart, it was likewise swept under the rug.

 

            “Nothing’s going to be ruined,” Kara reassured her, kissing her on the tip of her nose, “you are my top priority. You and our family. No one else can mess that up for us, because I say so, and I’m the Queen.”

 

            “Are you a queen? Really?” Lena dryly replied, her lips quirking up into a smile as Kara rolled her eyes. “You should’ve mentioned, darling.”

 

            Sighing, Kara gave her an exasperated look, “very funny, sweetheart. Now, which dress is more appropriate for an art gallery? The blue one, or the pink one.”

 

            “Hmm, blue,” Lena answered, “I love the way it brings out the colour of your eyes.”

 

            Taking her wife’s advice, Kara quickly dressed, grateful for the loose fitting dress, and buttoned her coat up. With their larger than usual retinue of guards, they left the palace, sliding into the back of the car while the guards split up into another two cars. Their own car held four, with Hector and Vasquez sitting in the back with them, blank looks of indifference on their faces as they tried to blend in with the cool leather seats. Neither of them spoke as they drove towards the hotel that Sam was supposedly staying at - Kara wasn’t sure if that was entirely true - and their small army of bodyguards secured a clear path towards the door.

 

            Inside, there was a flurry of activity. Their coats were taken, their guards split off to take up different positions around the room, looking dangerous in their uniform black suits as they glanced around at the other guests eating breakfast in the restaurant. Alex and Sam were already there, and they were quickly shown to their table, the chairs pulled out by waiters, who quickly filled their glasses with fresh water. With her stomach growling, Kara wasted no time perusing the menu while she muttered her hello’s. Deciding on the avocado toast with poached eggs, and a side of bacon that made Lena give her an exasperated look with all the fat on it, Kara gave her sister a smile across the table.

 

            “So, what’re your plans for today?”

 

            “We’re going to an art gallery,” Kara told her.

 

            Alex glanced around at all the guards and turned her attention back to Kara with raised eyebrows, “huh. Okay. Is it a dangerous art gallery?”

 

            Blushing slightly, Kara shook out her napkin and delicately laid it across her lap. “I’m just taking precautions.”

 

            “Overly dramatic ones,” Lena added. “But for good reason, I suppose.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Alex smiled, “well I guess you don’t want to take your goddaughter ice-skating then?”

 

            Grimacing, Lena gave her a dark look, “I’ve been banned from anything strenuous . No race cars, no polo, no kickboxing. I’m not even allowed to hold my falcons.”

 

            “Birds are dangerous and they carry diseases,” Kara curtly interjected, “I’ve never understood your hobby with them anyway. It’s not like you use them to hunt.”

 

            “It’s a rehab centre for injured birds,” Lena reminded her, “I just happen to have a few birds of prey there too. It’s fun to train them.”

 

            “Fine, but still … diseases.”

 

            Tutting, Lena rolled her eyes, “yes, dear. I swear, you’re going to ban me from getting a bloody cold this winter if you keep it up. You’ll have the whole palace in quarantine mode.”

 

            “Perhaps I will,” Kara loftily replied, giving her an amused look as her eyes sparkled slightly.

 

            They took their time at breakfast, during which time both pregnant women had to excuse themselves multiple times to use the bathroom, and Kara ended up sheepishly ordering a serving of toast and fruit salad, which Lena slyly pinched freshly cut pieces of watermelon out of. Teacups were refilled over and over again, and everyone seemed to be content as they chatted, and Kara relaxed at the chance to unwind outside of the palace. For all of her worrying about security, it was like being freed from a cage, and it was a relief to be out doing something for the sake of fun, rather than one of her endless charity event appearances or social events.

 

            Leaving with Alex and Sam, they said goodbye with reserved hugs and cheek kisses for the cameras that had amassed outside the hotel windows to sneak pictures of them, with an invitation to dinner the following evening, and slipped into the back seat of their car. It started spitting as they were driven through the city, making for the art museum where the latest exhibit had been unveiled, showing a gallery of abstract pieces. They were rushed inside the large building with the pillars and arches, their heels clicking on the marble floor as they were escorted through the lobby of the museum and into the exhibit with marble busts and exquisitely shaped vases. Reaching the floor, their bodyguards fanned out, covering all exits and wandering amongst the few other visitors, who were now suddenly ignoring the colourful artwork strewn around the white walls of the room in favour of ogling the royals with wide eyes. A few blinding flashes signaled the photographs some of them tried to sneak.

 

            Taking their time, they slowly wandered around the room, discussing the paintings and making increasingly pretentious comments as they tried not to laugh. This was a regular occurrence for them, and Lena always won, deadpanning her pompous critiques with terms from her fine arts degree, but it was no less amusing each time. Kara just enjoyed the simple act of looking at a new piece, eyeing the brushstrokes and slightly raised bumps of dried oil paints spread across the canvases. It was so very different to her own sketches, but she occasionally picked up paintbrushes and put the easel Lena had bought her to good use whenever she felt motivated to do something else. Whenever she did, they were always of Lena.

 

            After they’d finished the gallery, they wandered through other hallways and exhibits, their bodyguards following after them like silent shadows. Neither of them were willing to go back to the palace so soon after tasting freedom, and they even went as far as to visit the cafe on the ground floor for tea in heavy china mugs instead of the dainty fine china they were used to. They split a blueberry muffin, sitting in the back corner while their guards closed ranks around them. It would’ve been an unusual sight, seeing the Queen of Krypton doing something so ordinary , and Kara started to feel uncomfortable before long, with the blatant stares thrown their way, feeling out of place in the normalness of the setting. They’d done normal things together before, but that was when she was still freshly thrown into the deep end of being a queen, and had let Lena drag her into her games, like escaping the palace. It had been years since then, and Kara had grown accustomed to the weight of her duties, and drinking cheap tea in cheap mugs was the sort of thing that was far beneath what was expected of her. If Astra knew what her niece was up to, she would’ve disapproved.

 

            It was after lunchtime when they returned to the palace, giving a waiting Jess instructions for a late lunch to be prepared for them, while they both retired to one of the drawing rooms on the ground floor of the palace. Kara thumbed through a book as she sat in a comfy leather armchair, while Lena threw darts at a board encased in mahogany, rambling on about the state dinner that was being held in a few days’ time. They had new dresses picked out, mercifully fitting them properly, and Kara was hoping that her stomach would be settled enough to keep her in her seat for the entirety of her dinner. Lena had promised not to complain about having to make an appearance, just as long as Kara agreed to go to the Opera with her in a couple of weeks’ time. Graciously agreeing, Kara assured Lena that she’d have Jess make arrangements for them. They already owned a private box at the Grand Theatre, so it was just a matter of organising more new dresses and fetching some of their flashier pieces of jewelry from the vaults. The conversation turned to their pregnancies after that.

 

            “So, you want Sam as godmother then?” Kara asked, a smile curling her lips as she raised her eyebrows slightly.

 

            “Of course,” Lena said with a smile, lining her dart up with the bullseye, one eye closed as she tried to aim, “the real trouble will be picking godfather’s. I’m assuming you want Winn? I had thought perhaps Jack, but then I thought you might like James too.”

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara picked up Lena’s hand and placed a tender kiss to the back of it, before giving her hand a squeeze, “I don’t want to be greedy. Winn and Jack are good choices, and it’s only fair to have one from each side. Now, the hard part is picking names.”

 

            “Hard?” Lena asked, tilting her head to the side as she gave Kara a surprised look, “I assumed you’d want Alura, for your mother. A traditional Kryptonian name, because I know you like all that traditional stuff.” She waved a hand dismissively, before pressing it against her stomach. “And for our little peach, another traditional one I thought you’d like is Elizabeth for Eliza. She’s as much your mother, and it’s only fair.”

 

            Tears pricked at Kara’s eyes and she gave Lena a soft smile. “But what do you like? Nothing old and stuffy. Don’t you want something Irish? I mean, they’re going to be royal, which means they’re going to have about … six names. My parents gave me seven names, so we have a lot to choose to keep up with the expectations.”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Lena shrugged, a thoughtful look on her face as she deliberated for a moment. “There’s … Ailish, or Aisling. Other ones are too weird. I know I’m not traditional in that sense, but I don’t want them to have something too outlandish, you know? They’ll have the bloody life tormented out of them, the poor things.”

 

            Rubbing her thumb across Lena’s knuckles, Kara smiled. “I like both of those. I guess we’re going to need to figure all of this out, huh? And we haven’t even started buying anything yet. God , we’ve got a whole nursery to plan. And the baby clothes …”

 

            “Fuck, the bloody baby clothes,” Lena groaned, “thank God we’re rich, because they’re never wearing the same outfit twice. They’re going to be so spoilt. And loved. We’re going to love them so much, right?”

 

            “So much ,” Kara murmured, feeling overcome with emotions as her heart seemed to swell to twice its size. “We’ll love them so much that they won’t feel anything else. It’s going to be me, and you, and both of them, and we’re going to be so happy. You’ll never want for anything, Lena, and neither will they. Everything I have to give is already yours, and I know that every piece of my heart it yours right now, but it won’t be long before it belongs to them too.”

 

            Lena reached out, cradling her face in her hands and crushing her lips against Kara’s. “I’m not ready to share you yet,” she whispered as she pulled back, a teasing smile on her lips as she looked at Kara, “you’re still mine for now, and I’m very selfish.”

 

            Understanding where Lena was about to take things, Kara pursed her lips slightly, running a hand over Lena’s stomach, where the unseen swell was hidden by her shirt. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to be selfless for the next half an hour. I’m absolutely starving, and it’s probably a good idea that we don’t give Jess a reason to quit when she walks back in and tells us lunch is served.”

 

            Choking on a laugh of surprise, Lena gave her a quick kiss, letting out a dramatic sigh, before turning to throw a dart at the board. It thudded into the black wedge beneath the twenty. “Twenty minutes,” Lena said as she turned to give Kara a smirk, arching an eyebrow slightly. “You’d better eat fast, You Majesty. If not for my sake, then for our little pea’s.” She rested a hand against Kara’s stomach and pushed herself up to steal another kiss.

 

            Kara quietly chuckled, listening to her phone vibrating on the end table where she’d abandoned her book. Walking over to it, her laughter died off as she picked up her phone and stared down at the screen, reading the message lighting up on it.

 

            [Maggie]: We need to meet. Somewhere private.

 

            “Mm, who is it?” Lena asked, making Kara jump as she wrapped her arms around her from behind, her chin lightly resting on her shoulder.

 

            Feeling guilty, Kara quickly jerked her phone down and turned in Lena’s arms, giving her a bright smile as she leant in to give her a quick kiss. “Lucy. She wants me to meet with her soon to talk about some of my legal documents. Nothing to worry about, she’s just double checking everything’s in order. Cleaning out files and the like.”

 

            “Oh. Sounds utterly boring,” Lena said, brushing the topic aside. “Hey, we should invite her and James over one night. Perhaps Winn too. Or just invite all of our friends and have a poker night. Something fun, you know?”

 

            “I was actually thinking,” Kara said, her mind spinning as she quickly concocted a plan, “maybe we could go to Bokos Palace. I know we’ve only gone there twice before, but it’s where I was raised, you know? It’s my parents’ palace, and I think it might be nice. Help me feel closer to them with all of this .” She gestured at her stomach as she smiled at Lena, the lie rolling off her tongue with surprising ease. “We could all go. Kind of a weekend getaway. No one would disturb us up in the mountains. I won’t even make you go hiking.”

 

            “Sounds perfect,” Lena beamed at her, looking relieved at the idea.

 

            Reaching out to tuck a lock of hair back into its neatly coiled bun, Kara gave her a soft smile, feeling guilty as she deceived her. It would be easy to meet with Maggie all the way up in the remote mountains, with Lena occupied by entertaining their friends, and no one would ever have to know. Not even Lena, and especially not Alex.

Chapter Text

            It took them a couple of weeks of planning before they actually managed to get away from Sunstone palace and make the trip through the desolate countryside and up to Bokos palace in the mountains. Up north, the landscape was the picture of winter, with a dusting of fresh, white snow and evergreen trees filling the air with the smell of pine as late November was ushered in. They’d taken the train, as Kara always had, piling into the private carriage with a full escort of guards, with their friends joining them. It took a few hours and Kara was exhausted by the time they reached the small mountain palace, but it had been fun nonetheless. Everyone, save the two pregnant women, drank rum and whiskey to stave off the chill seeping in as the air turned bitter outside the train windows, and they played cards and chatted over the buffet prepared for them by the chef Kara brought along with her. She spent most of her time sitting near a window in the corner, idly sketching fleeting scenes that passed by in a blur outside the window.

 

            It had been a rough few weeks, with emotions running high between the two royals. The night of the state dinner, they were stuffed into dresses and sat stiffly beside each other, drinking water that they wished was wine as they charmed the guests sitting on either side of them, pretending that they hadn’t had a fight a few hours earlier about which night they could attend the opera. Then there had been a fitting for new wardrobes, as the slightly bigger sizes they’d already been outfitted in grew tighter and Kara’s stomach grew bigger still, the prominent bump now undeniably caused by her being pregnant. Lena’s wasn’t quite as visible with her being couple of weeks behind Kara, but it was there nonetheless. Standing on pedestals, they’d had measurements taken, clothes brought in on racks, and were dressed and redressed dozens of times, growing more and more frustrated with each other as they tried to find clothes that would flatter their changing body types. They’d had fun when they finally managed to get to the opera, enjoying the singing and enjoying their night back at the palace even more, but there had been half a dozen more times where there had been tears and biting comments. One of them always apologised, and they always made up for it, but tensions were running high as their busy schedules and exhaustion from their pregnancies made them both irritable, lonely and tired.

 

            At four months into her pregnancy, Kara was starting to lose the rosy glow of it, especially when her morning sickness continued, couple with the new addition of heartburn and her swearing her bladder shrunk a bit everyday. Sitting in meetings with endless people of varying importance, the thermostat set a little colder than was comfortable for everyone else just so she could stop herself from sweating as her body temperature rose, making her feel claustrophobic and restless. Spending hours running over plans for the upcoming Christmas events, just a little over a months away, and ensuring that everything would be in order for it. Lena stubbornly refused to help with their Christmas plans, flippantly making comments about how little she cared about their annual duties to go to church and for Kara to make a speech. It was maddening, to say the least, and Kara vented to Alex on more than one occasion, assuming that Lena was doing the same with Sam. It helped a little. It made their arguments shorter, because they were both reasoned with and sent to apologise and make up.

 

            When they arrived at Bokos palace, it had been with much relief after the cramped, stuffy train car, and the long drive up through the winding, tree-lined roads, and Kara was grateful for the chance to stretch her legs as she led Lena up to their rooms. Their friends likewise spread out, led off by Lyra, who showed them all to their respective rooms. Jess went to arrange tea and a light meal to be served for them.

 

            Altogether, there were ten on them, which made their time there lively. Dinners were loud and full of laughter, as were lunches, although breakfasts were usually subdued as nearly all of them were nursing a hangover every morning. Shouts, laughter and music flooded the rooms of the palace, with the white sheets protecting the old furniture from dust being removed so that they could play pool or poker, eat dinner in one of the more comfortable dining halls, and spend their nights drinking by the log fire in one of the spacious living rooms stuffed with armchairs, sofas and old oil paintings. Their days were lazily spent lounging around, being waited on by the handful of staff present, enjoying the warmth of the castle and the occasional brief trips into town, or outside to play around in the snow like they were children. Kara and Lena were careful not to exert themselves too much as everyone chased each other, tossing snowballs at each other and tripping over into the soft piles of snow. Frozen and pink cheeked, Kara and Lena would climb into a warm bath and relax amongst the bubbles, feeling happy and relaxed. But Kara couldn’t shake the tension and nervousness as the day she planned to meet Maggie approached.

 

            On a Wednesday afternoon, towards the end of their trip, with everyone scattered throughout the palace, taking some time after their lunch to relax, Kara slipped away, silently making her way up to the third floor and stepping into a room. The old easel was there, and the pastel pinks and lilacs, everything still exactly the same as when she’d lived there with her parents. Most of the furniture was covered with white sheets to keep the dust off, and she pulled them off the velvet sofas and the coffee table, taking a seat and letting out a heavy sigh.

 

            “Maggie?” she finally called out, her voice quiet as it carried throughout the suite. She hadn’t told Vasquez who she was there to meet, but she’d instructed her to keep anyone out regardless, and was careful to keep her voice down so as not to let her words be audible through the heavy wooden doors.

 

            There were a few moments of silence following her tentative calling out, before she slow sound of footsteps came from what had once been her old playroom. She hadn’t been in that room for years, but Kara knew that there was a dollhouse in one corner, in front of the panel in the wall which opened to a secret passageway. The older palaces that belonged to her family were riddled with secret passages, and Bokos palace was no different, which had made it easier to sneak Maggie in. And there she was, stepping into the main living space of the suite, dressed in a heavy sweater and a pair of jeans, a polite smile on her face as her eyes landed on Kara.

 

            “Your Majesty,” Maggie murmured, forgoing a bow and dipping her chin in a quick, courteous nod. Kara gave her a brief smile, gesturing to the small loveseat across from the identical one she was sitting in, brushing her fingers over the crushed pink velvet of the seat as she watched her old bodyguard gingerly lower herself onto the seat.

 

            “Thank you for coming all this way,” Kara quietly said, her voice grave at the seriousness of the meeting.

 

            Nodding, Maggie hesitated slightly, her teeth worrying at her bottom lip as if she was wondering where to begin, or if she should begin where she was thinking of beginning. There was an anxious look in her eyes, and her shoulders were tense, despite the impassive look on her face. Kara had spent years with her as her bodyguard, and more years with her as an almost sister-in-law, and she found herself surprised at the fact that it was so easy to pick up on the miniscule signs of Maggie’s uneasiness. She hadn’t even known she knew that those signs were there, but there was a tautness to the slight women sitting on the other side of the coffee table, and it had Kara instinctively on edge.

 

            “You’re starting to show,” Maggie blurted out with surprise.

 

            Kara grimaced at the tactful diversion, pressing her hand against the bump that swelled against the fitted sweater tucked neatly into her skirt. She’d had Lyra order her new clothes that she’d picked out from a dozen magazines, and they’d been altered by her personal tailor, who she knew she could trust, and standing up, it would have been barely noticeable with the high waistband of the pleated skirt. Sitting down though, the bump was prominent as her stomach ballooned out slightly, and Kara protectively wrapped her arms around herself. She would need to wear looser sweaters once winter fully arrived, and she was glad that the cold weather would allow her and Lena a few extra months to hide their pregnancy. They'd been planning announcing it at five months, but they could possibly even push for six.

 

            “What have you found?” Kara asked, pulling them back on topic. She wasn’t sure how much time they had, and it was riskier with fewer eyes about, and the eyes she didn’t want about there with her. It was less risky than have dozens of eyes watching though, because Kara couldn’t think of a good enough reason to have Maggie visit the palace that would be believable to Alex. At least this way she would be able to sneak in without hordes of reporters snapping photos of it, and tipping her wife and sister off about what she was getting up to.

 

            Hesitating for a moment, Maggie give her a solemn nod, as if resigning herself to the fact that she’d have to be honest with Kara. Nothing else would be acceptable in this situation. “I started with the anti-monarchist group that made an attempt on you a few Christmases ago. I thought that maybe they were connected, because you’re worried that you’re next, but someone’s already tried to kill you once.”

 

            “And are they connected?” Kara slowly asked, a feeling of unease growing at the thought of Maggie stumbling upon the truth, which was that Lena was tangled up in the anti-monarchist group. Of course, she had never known it would go that far, and Kara knew that, but no one else, except Lillian, knew anything about it. If word got out, it would’ve brought their whole image down around them and ruined the carefully cultivated life they’d built together. She would have to find a way to steer Maggie away from that line of investigation.

 

            “Yes,” Maggie firmly told her. “It’s just … it was easy . It was almost too easy to find a link. If- if people were looking into this before, when your parents died and the rest of your family, they would’ve found this. They would’ve found a thread at least. It doesn’t ... feel right.”

 

            Her curiosity piqued, because she only knew about Lena’s part, and what Maggie was talking about seemed a lot more sinister, Kara shifted slightly on the seat, leaning forward. “What did you find?”

 

            “Money. Lots of it. It’s been filtered through a dozen bank accounts, here in Krypton, as well as in Thorul. There’s quite a few in Thorul, and as far as I can see, it’s coming from an account there. I think … it’s possible that it’s coming from them.”

 

            “Be very careful what you’re insinuating, Maggie,” Kara sharply told her, “she’s my wife .”

 

            “I know,” Maggie quickly backed down, her small smile strained, “I know, but you asked me to look into this, and there are things that don’t add up. There’s money traced to accounts in Thorul. In all three cases.”

 

            Pausing for a moment, Kara swallowed the lump in her throat. “All three?”

 

            “The car accident, the bomb and the shooting. You were right, someone’s got it out for you, and there’s money from Thorul that’s funded all three. I think … I mean, I’m not saying Lena - the timelines wouldn’t even be right - she was even younger than you when your parents …  but would her mom?”

 

            Sitting in silence for a few moments, Kara let the weight of Maggie’s words settle on her. Would Lillian have done something like that? Did she had any need to kill Kara’s parents? What would she have gained from that? She’d already ensured her husband’s bastard child a marital contract with Kara by that point, easily dusting her hands of Lena when she turned twenty-five. Kara’s parents didn’t even factor into that equation. Neither did her family. And then it hit Kara, and she felt the blood drain from her face.

 

            If her grandfather hadn’t been killed, he’d still be king. Until he died and his son, Jor-El took to the throne. That would’ve put her cousin, Kal-El, in line after his father. The only way Kara would have inherited was if they’d died and her father had assumed the throne. The only way Lena could’ve become queen was if Kara had been the only heir to the House of El. Her stomach twisted in a nauseating way and her breathing turned ragged as her heart thudded loudly in her chest. Surely Lillian hadn’t had her whole family killed so she could pawn her daughter off to Kara and have her give up her claim to Lex’s inheritance, to ensure that the daughter she’d never asked for wouldn’t steal it out from under her son. Not even Lillian was that cold. But then again, she’d sold her daughter for a bit of popularity, so who was to say she wouldn’t have taken more drastic measures. It didn’t sit right with Kara though. Something didn’t make sense. Why would Lillian have tried to kill her if she’d been pushing them together? She was about to voice her doubts when the sound of voices drifted through the wooden doors, make Kara’s stomach drop.

 

            “Sorry, Your Highness, no one is allowed to enter,” Vasquez’s muffled voice said.

 

            Kara leapt to her feet, and Maggie likewise followed, looking at Kara with wide brown eyes as she watched the blonde make shooing motions at her, mouthing unintelligible things. Lena’s haughty voice followed a moment later.

 

            “What do you mean I’m not allowed to enter? This is my palace. I can go wherever I damn well bloody please.”

 

            Wincing at the sharpness to her wife’s words, Kara grabbed Maggie by the shoulder and half dragged and half pushed her across the room, making for one of the heavy velvet drapes neatly pulled to one side of the large windows. She couldn’t hear Vasquez’s reply, but heard the quiet hum of her bodyguard’s voice as she no doubt tried to come up with an excuse, and Kara shoved Maggie behind the curtain, thankful that she was short, and quickly arranged it to ensure that it didn’t look like a person was hiding behind it, before silently tiptoeing back across the room and reclaiming her seat.

 

            “Vasquez, do you like your job?”

 

            “I do, Your Highness.”

 

            “Then you’d do well to stand aside before I have you fired.”

 

            Casually reclining on the small sofa, Kara rolled her eyes. “Let her in, Vasquez,” she called out, her voice carrying across the room.

 

            A moment later, the door burst open and Lena stormed in, slamming the door shut behind her and pausing as she took in the sight of Kara stretched out, her feet dangling over the arm of the sofa, while she had a few pillows piled up beneath her head. Heavy eyebrows drew together in a scowl, and Lena crossed her arms over her chest as she gave Kara an irritated look.

 

            “What the bloody hell was that all about? No one’s allowed to enter? What, I’m on a leash now, am I?”

 

            Letting out a withering sigh, Kara covered her face with her hands, taking a few moments to steady herself. “I have a headache, Lena. I just wanted some peace and quiet,” Kara replied in a clipped tone, “and this isn’t our bedroom. This is my childhood bedroom, and I’m entitled to have a few minutes to myself to remember my life here without someone barging in on me.”

 

            She didn’t mean to be so irritated, but she found herself irritated nonetheless, with her hormones making a mountain out of a molehill. Unfortunately Lena was likewise ready to blow things out of proportion, snapping immediately as her irrational anger got the better of her.

 

            “Well excuse me for coming to check on you,” Lena tightly replied, “we were all going to play cards in the games room and I didn’t want you to miss out. Perhaps you should go and lie down instead. We’re going out tonight - don’t forget.”

 

            “I haven’t forgot,” Kara testily replied, an irritated look flashing across her face, “and I don’t need a nap. I’m not being sent to bed like a child.”

 

            “Well then what? Do you have a headache or not? If you do then go and take a nap, and if you don’t, then stop moping around in here and come downstairs. Everyone’s waiting for you.”

 

            Letting out a huff of frustration, Kara pushed herself to her feet, smoothing out the pleats of her skirt and giving Lena a dark look. “You’re being very insensitive today.”

 

            Making a sound of indignation, Lena frowned at her, “well you’re being very rude by sitting up in here when we’re supposed to be entertaining our guests. It was your idea in the first place and now you’re acting all funny, like you don’t even want to be here. You’ve been distracted for days - you weren’t even paying attention when we were playing Trivial Pursuit last night.”

 

            Kara choked on a laugh, giving Lena a look of disbelief, “well excuse me for ruining your winning streak. How about you partner up with Sam tonight instead, and I’ll find something better to do.”

 

            “What, so you can just disappear again? All you do is- is go to meetings, and work . This is supposed to be for us to relax and enjoy some time with our friends before we’re sucked back into things for Christmas, and you’re not even trying to enjoy it.”

 

            “Of course I’m enjoying it! I get to spend more time with you, and that’s all I ever want. I just- I have a lot on my mind, Lena, and so much is different now. I mean, it’s good . I know we both keep snapping, and I know it’s just the babies and our bodies messing with us, but everything’s going exactly the way we want it to.”

 

            Furrowing her brow, Lena gave her a serious look, her shoulders dropping as she let out a pent up breath. “I know,” she sighed, her voice weary as she stepped towards Kara, reaching out to cup her face in her hands and give her a searching look. “I just didn’t think it’d be so hard. I don’t feel like myself anymore.”

 

            With a small smile, Kara’s expression softened. Perhaps parts of what Maggie said were true, and the conclusions Kara’s mind had jumped to might be true too, but her trust in Lena was unwavering. Her love for her was immeasurable and Kara’s heart thudded loudly in her chest as she tried to calm herself down, her fear that everything could be torn away from her at any minute creeping up on her. That was why she was doing all of this. Lena might not know, or understand it, but Kara was doing it all the same.

 

            “I know, but it’s okay, I still love you all the same.”

 

            Letting out a small laugh, Lena tenderly stroked her cheek with a thumb, her lips twitching slightly with the ghost of a smile. “I love you too. Please forgive me for being a moody cow.”

 

            Stealing a quick kiss, Kara joined in on her quiet laughter. “I’d forgive you for anything. Always. And I’m sorry too; I know I’m a lot crabbier than you’re used to me being. Now, come on, we shouldn’t keep everyone waiting.”

 

            She made to move past Lena, waving away her wife’s objections and insistence that she should rest until her headache passed, and Kara assured her that she was fine, and it had in fact already passed. Kissing her again, Kara felt the warmth of Lena’s stomach against hers as she pressed up against her, and with startling fear, as she realised where things were about to lead, with Maggie hidden behind one of the curtains, Kara quickly jerked backwards. Eyebrows rising slightly with surprise, Lena gave her a questioning look, and Kara let out a hesitant laugh, giving her a sheepish smile.

 

            “Sorry, it’s just … this is my childhood bedroom,” she said, wrinkling her nose. “I feel like it’d be a bit weird.”

 

            Letting out a loud laugh, Lena pulled her close and rested their foreheads together for a fleeting moment, before pulling back and taking Kara by the hand, dragging her towards the doors. “Come on then. We’ll have to be quick, or someone will come looking for us, and I’m not sure who I’d prefer it to be. All options are equally scarring.”

 

            The moment of hesitation that crossed Kara’s mind went unnoticed by Lena, as did the backwards glance over her shoulder as she looked at the pink drapes hiding her ex-bodyguard, and Kara pushed the thoughts to the side as Lena pulled open the door and led her out into the hallway. Maggie would get in touch with her to finish their conversation, and she was smart enough to let herself out. If Kara tried to pull away from Lena right then, for no apparent reason, it would make her suspicious. Besides, the kiss had kindled heat within Kara, and she was desperately overcome with the need for her wife’s touch. Every other thought went out the window as they quickly made their way towards one of the more lavish guest suites they’d taken up residence in, leaving a trail of clothes towards the bedroom door in their haste, and despite their initial plan to be quick, they took their time. In the end, it was an impatient Sam who banged on the door to the suite, her voice distant and muffled as she complained. The two of them laughed as Kara peppered Lena’s face with kisses beneath the blankets.

Chapter Text

            It was only a week later when it all came crashing down. Maggie had messaged her after slipping out of the palace through the tunnels, assuring her that she’d keep searching, although Kara gave her a thinly veiled warning about poking around in the royal family of Thorul, worrying that she’d accidentally dig something up on Lena. After that, she’d enjoyed the rest of their trip up in Bokos palace, and by the time they got back to Sunstone palace in Argo City, winter had fully arrived and they came back to a palace decked out with decorations for the holidays and the smell of pine and cinnamon filling the hallways.

 

            Filled with relief at being home, Kara fell back into the piles of work, making final preparations for her Christmas party in two weeks time, as well as the half a dozen events that she was obligated to attend. She was so busy that any thoughts of checking in on Maggie went out of her mind. She barely had time to spend with Lena, who was growing increasingly moodier as her stomach grew and the baby started moving, proving to be far more active than the one Kara was carrying. That week passed by in a blur, and after a night at the Argo City Symphony Orchestra, listening to the performance from their private box, Kara was looking forward to an early night. She hadn’t even made it out of her elegant silk dress before Lena strode into the bathroom, her reflection in the mirror pale and wide-eyed.

 

            “What is it?” Kara absentmindedly asked, pulling jewelled hair pins out of her curls and setting them down on the marble countertop.

 

            “Lex just messaged me. Maggie’s being detained by Homeland Security in Thorul. She’s been caught hacking into my family’s private information and is insisting she has diplomatic immunity,” Lena tensely explained.

 

            Kara felt her stomach turn and the blood drain from her face as she stiffened in front of the mirror. And then she turned around, brushing past Lena in a hurry, stumbling slightly as she struggled to get her heels off. “Shit, shit, shit.”

 

            “Kara? What’s going on?”

 

            “Jess? Lyra?” Kara called out, ignoring her wife’s questions as she trailed after her.

 

            Lyra opened the door to their bedroom, dipping into a curtsy as she gave Kara an expectant look, politely trying not to stare as she watched the queen strip down to her underwear. Tossing the blue dress aside, Kara gave her assistant orders to clear her private jet to fly as soon as possible, before disappearing into her closet and rifling through her clothes. It was cold so she settled on a trim pair of slacks and a thick knitted sweater over a freshly ironed shirt. It hid her bump well but she could feel the strange lurching motion as the baby moved inside her, and had to fight back a wave of nausea. She was unsure whether it was because of the baby or the fact that her plans were about to vanish down the drain. Beneath her worry, there was a flicker of anger, and she yanked a coat off a hanger and slipped it on, turning to find Lena standing in the doorway of the closet, arms folded across her chest. She was still wearing the plum coloured dress she’d worn to the symphony.

 

            “Kara,” she firmly said.

 

            Crossing over to her, Kara cupped her face in her palms, giving her a pleading look. “We can talk when I get back. Please, Lena, just … I have to go and sort this out. I love you.”

 

            She kissed her quickly, her hand briefly cupping her stomach, and then she was gone, leaving Lena spluttered protests behind her. Wincing at the thought of the conversation they’d have later - probably tomorrow, by the time she got back - Kara slipped out into the hallway and her night guards fell into step behind her. She set a brisk pace through the palace, and a tired looking Vasquez, who had just knocked off for the night, met her in the foyer, dipping her head in a respectful nod as she took her customary place behind Kara. Wherever Kara went, so did she.

 

            The main doors to the west courtyard were pulled open by two uniformed guards standing to attention, and Kara turned to look at Lyra, who had followed after her, carrying her bag and shifting her schedule around for her in the morning as she plied Kara with questions about how long she would be and who had priority when rearranging meetings. Taking her bag, Kara gave her a stern look.

 

            “Make sure the princess gets some rest and don’t let her leave the palace tonight,” Kara ordered her, and Lyra quickly nodded.

 

            Without another word, she was walking down the steps, her retinue of guards closing in around her as the biting wind tugged at her coat, and she was ushered into the back of a waiting car. Hot air blew out of the vents and Vasquez settled down onto the leather seats across from her, as serious looking as ever, and Kara let her head fall back against the headrest, her eyes closing as she unbuttoned her coat and rested a hand on her bump. She was nearing five months, and it was a relief to be halfway done with it, although she’d never be ungrateful enough to say that she was tired of being pregnant. With all of the struggles to get her there, she was just praying that she could keep everything together for a few more months. It occurred to her that perhaps she was being a little overbearing with the security and worrying, and she was even more worried about Lena than herself, but she couldn’t help herself. And with Maggie being detained, it felt like all of her hard work was about to become undone. Or Maggie had stumbled upon something she wasn’t supposed to.

 

            The city flew past her window in a blur of bright lights and darkness, and soon enough she was at the private airstrip where her jet was stored. The door was open and she climbed the rickety metal steps and stepped into the luxurious interior, greeting her pilot and taking a seat in her favourite spot. Her guards crowded in after her, hulking figures in black suits taking up various positions at the far end of the plane, and the door was sealed shut a few minutes later. It was a cold night with an edge to the wind, and Kara shivered as the cold seemed to seep into the plane, the air cold as cool air filtered into the pressurised cabin. She buckled her seatbelt and tried to relax in her chair, tilting her head back and taking shallow breaths as she focused on loosening up her hunched shoulders. The sound of the turbines whirring made her look out the window at the inky blackness, lit up by the beacons lighting the runway, and a few minutes later they were in the air.

 

            She was restless the whole flight. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t sleep, although she spied a few of her bodyguards resting their eyes from their seats. Making five trips to the bathroom and eating four packets of salted peanuts, she was feeling crabby as they started to descend into Mercer City. The lights spread out below them, a yellow glow as the network of street lamps and roads becoming distinguishable as they dropped down. The touchdown was gentle, jostling her slightly in her seat, and Kara was off the plane a few minutes later, finding another car waiting for her to take her straight to the palace.

 

            Lyra had called ahead to announce her visit, and she was immediately cleared to enter within the walls of the palace as soon as they reached the gates, and a side door was standing open, spilling warm light across the steps as an attendant waited for her arrival. She quickly strode across the courtyard, inclining her head to the waiting man, and swept down the carpeted hallway in as much of a regal manner as she could bear after the uncomfortable flight and her troubling thoughts. She’d only been to the palace a few times, so she let the man direct her, and a few minutes later they approached a pair of double doors, which were opened as she was announced.

 

            “Alexander,” Kara politely greeted Lex as she was shown into a sitting room he was relaxing in, looking tired at the lateness of the hour, but no less composed in his sharp suit.

 

            “Kara,” he said, climbing to his feet and walking over to her, giving her a courteous peck on the cheek, before pulling back. “You’re looking well. How’s the baby? And my dear sister? She didn’t come with you?”

 

            He placed a gentle hand against her back and gestured towards one of the sofas, guiding her over to it and taking a seat on the across from her once she was settled. Despite the tension between Lena and her family, Kara knew that she was at least somewhat fond of her brother, and Lex had never been anything but welcoming to her on the rare occasion that their paths crossed, and Kara felt at ease in his presence, even if the troubling thoughts of Maggie hung over her head.

 

            “She’s well, and so are the babies,” she replied, “ and I thought it was best to come alone.”

 

            He nodded thoughtfully, glancing down at his watch. “My mother should be joining us in a moment. Shall we have some tea?”

 

            It wasn’t so much a question, but a courtesy, and a moment later he had rung a small bell and told the butler that stepped into the room and bowed to bring tea for three. They made idle chit chat for a few minutes, talking about matters of politics or social events while they waited for Lillian to join them, but Kara could feel the tension growing the longer they pretended that she wasn’t there for Maggie.

 

            The door opened and they both looked over to watch as Lillian swept in, looking as haughty as ever as she gave Kara a polite nod and took a seat beside her son, her sharp eyes trained on her daughter-in-law. Murmuring a greeting, Kara stayed silent until the tea arrived a heartbeat later and was set down on the low, mahogany coffee table separating them. Lex reached forward and poured the three of them tea, offering a plate of biscuits to Kara, which she refused - she already felt like she was going to be sick - and they sat in silence for a few more moments. Nursing her cup of tea in her lap, Kara gently cleared her throat, giving Lillian a hard look. She knew who was really in charge here, and who knew the ins and outs of the entire royal family and other political agreements. As far as Kara was aware, Lex was too busy wooing other women and enjoying his parties to care much about his country, so she would be dealing with Lillian.

 

            “I came to bring my bodyguard back with me, if you’d be so kind as to turn her over to my custody,” Kara quietly explained.

 

            “Ex,” Lillian said with a slight smile, “ex-bodyguard. And ex-fiancee to your sister. Which begs the question what is she doing with diplomatic immunity, and why did Homeland Security catch her hacking into the palace’s private network and going through private documents? As I understand it, she was looking through financial records.”

 

            Mouth going dry, Kara took a quick gulp of scalding tea to try and steel herself, before she gave Lillian a cool look and raised her chin imperceptibly. “Because I asked her to.”

 

            Lex cocked his head to the side, a confused look on his face as he looked back and forth between the two women. Turning to look at him, Lillian murmured something too quiet for Kara to hear, and he tried to protest but ultimately gave in to his mother’s wishes, setting his tea down and climbing to his feet. Kissing Lillian on the cheek, he rounded the coffee table and stooped down to kiss Kara on the cheek as well, giving her a charming smile.

 

            “Take care of yourself, and make sure my sister does as well. You should consider visiting in the new year.”

 

            She made a vague sound of agreement, wishing him a goodnight, before she was left alone with Lillian. Swallowing thickly, Kara leant forward and set her tea down on the coffee table, knowing that the polite conversation was over, and the shrewd Queen Mother was about to steer the conversation in a very different direction. Lillian gave her an appraising look for a few moments, her ankles crossed as she leant on her hand, elbow propped up on the arm of the sofa while the hint of a smile made her lips twitch. Her eyes held an eager spark in them, like she was excited about questioning Kara.

 

            “So,” Lillian finally said, breaking the tense silence, “what reason could you possibly have for getting your ex-bodyguard to hack into my private files?”

 

            Biting her bottom lip, Kara quickly ran through what she could tell Lillian. Not all of it, of course, but she’d have to give enough of the truth to placate her mother-in-law, who would see through any lies in an instant. Sighing, Kara gave her a grim look. “I’m trying to ensure the safety of your daughter and our heirs. That includes chasing any leads linked to the murder of my entire family.”

 

            To her surprise, Lillian let out a loud laugh, an amused look crossing her face as she arched a perfect eyebrow. “And you think I’m responsible? My dear, let me be the first to tell you that you’re looking in all the wrong places. If you think I, or anyone in my family, had anything to do with it, then you’re mistaken.”

 

            Despite her scepticism, Kara couldn’t help but believe her. Lillian was never one to shy away from the truth, and even if she had been responsible, there was nothing Kara could do about it. She was married to Lena, who was the sister of the King of Thorul, who wouldn’t charge his mother with the murder of the royal family of Krypton, which would mean the only option would be for Kara to start a war, which she wouldn’t do. Essentially, she would be left to silently hate Lillian if it was her. But if it was her, Lillian probably would’ve been forthcoming with the truth, knowing that there was nothing Kara could do, purely so that she could dismiss Kara’s paranoid thoughts. Lillian would lose no sleep over Kara despising her, and while she probably wouldn’t gloat about it, she’d at least be honest. Frowning slightly, Kara nodded.

 

            “I didn’t think it was you,” Kara admitted, “but there was money- what Lena did … Maggie Sawyer found a trace and chased after it. It’s not the only link to the murders to trace back to your country.”

 

            Lillian’s face hardened slightly and she shifted in her seat, before giving Kara a glib smile and waving her hand dismissively. “I hardly think your own wife would have conspired to have your family killed. Not only because she was twelve at the time of your parents’ death - and as smart as she is, I don’t think she would’ve managed to get away with that - but because she loves you enough to risk her own life for you. My daughter doesn’t love easily, but she loves you, that much I’m sure of. And Lena protects what’s hers.”

 

            “I know,” Kara meekly replied, feeling embarrassed at the insinuation that she would ever assume that Lena bore her any ill will.

 

            “You’ll find nothing incriminating in my files,” Lillian continued, “I’ll spare you the effort of looking and tell you what Miss Sawyer would’ve been chasing. My own investigations into my daughter’s … pastimes led me to a bank account I believe my investigators found was connected to that group she was investing money in.”

 

            Kara drew in a shaky breath, nodding as she processed the information. “It is all connected.”

 

            “I can’t tell you who is to blame, but yes, they’re all connected,” Lillian agreed. “That’s all I can give you. The only money traceable to my family comes from Lena’s own sloppy trail. You should look closer to home for some answers.”

 

            “I’m sorry,” Kara said, a serious look on her face as she apologised. “I didn’t know what Sawyer was going to do. I would’ve stopped her if I had known she was going to hack into your files. I can’t have her getting arrested for this though, you understand.”

 

            Lillian brushed aside her concerns with a wave of her hand, giving her a sharp smile, “Lex has already gone to get his assistant to make the call. It would reflect badly on both of our countries if something suggested that there was any tension between Thorul and Krypton. It would be best if you took your little friend and went home. I should warn you though, don’t let her step foot in Thorul again.”

 

            “Understood,” Kara quickly agreed, sagging with relief at the fact that Maggie was going to be turned over to her. Climbing to her feet, Kara gave Lillian a polite nod. “Thank you. I won’t waste anymore of your time.”

 

            Giving her a nod of her own, Lillian followed her to the door, and right as Kara was about to pull it open, she spoke, and Kara’s stomach lurched. “You’d better pray that Lena doesn’t find out about this, Your Majesty,” Lillian ominously warned her, “she won’t take it well. I know my daughter better than she thinks, and she won’t take this well at all . No matter how much she loves you. And frankly speaking, you can’t afford to mess things up now with two babies on the way.”

 

            Kara stiffened slightly, pulling the door open and stepping out into the hallway. She didn’t acknowledge what had been said, but a shiver ran down her spine at the truth to Lillian’s words, and icy fear coiled in her stomach, making her feel even more nauseous than before. Lena would be waiting for an explanation when she got back, and Kara wasn’t sure what to tell her. It’d have to be some semblance of the truth, but the whole truth would bring everything crashing down. All she’d been trying to do was ensure the safety of the few people she loved she had left, and it was a tenuous situation, and the slightest mistake could ruin everything she’d worked so hard for.

 

            Trying to calm herself, if not for her sake then for the baby’s, Kara walked through the palace and found herself back in the freezing cold. Hurrying towards the waiting car and the warmth of its interior, she settled onto the back seat and let herself be whisked away to the airstrip her jet was waiting at. Once onboard, she fidgeted as she waited impatiently for Maggie to be dropped off by Lex’s driver that he’d text her about. She didn’t have to wait too long before the slight figure stepped over the threshold of the private jet, along with the last of Kara’s security detail, and the door was shut. Maggie looked guilty and nervous as she walked towards Kara.

 

            Stopping a few feet away, she gave her a sheepish look, shifting uncomfortably as she wrung her hands. Kara gave her a stony, silent look. “I’m sorry,” Maggie apologetically began, falling silent when Kara held a hand up to stop her.

 

            “I told you not to pull on that thread,” Kara tightly replied, her voice brimming with anger as she tried to keep her composure, if only so as not to cause a scene with half a dozen guards at the opposite end of the plane.

 

            “I know but-”

 

            “I’m not finished,” Kara snapped, and Maggie gave her a stunned look at the haughtiness in Kara’s voice. She was never one to act so high and mighty, but her temper was short and her anger was directed at the short woman standing across from her. “I specifically told you not to follow this lead. You were supposed to be careful, not stick your nose into one of the most secure systems in the world and get yourself caught. I asked you to find whoever killed my parents, not pry into the private files of my in-laws, who by the way, did not kill my family.”

 

            When Maggie opened her mouth to protest or defend herself, Kara cut her off with a sharp look. “Don’t. You’re dismissed. And if you talk about this with anyone , I’ll have you arrested myself.”

 

            Maggie gave her a shallow bow, and Kara saw the flicker of irritation on the other woman’s face at being talked down to, but she was too mad to even care. She’d never spoken to Maggie like that, not even when she’d been Kara’s bodyguard, but she felt sick to her stomach to think about Alex or Lena finding out about everything. It wasn’t bad , so to speak, but they wouldn’t see it the way Kara did. It wouldn’t be a fun or easy conversation to have, and the thought of angering two people she loved dearly made her panic. She couldn’t even bear to look at Maggie as she walked further down the plane, not quite sitting with the other bodyguards, who she knew well, but staying far out of Kara’s way. While Kara was angry with her, and rightfully so in her mind, she was angry at herself for trusting someone else to handle the situation delicately. Perhaps if she’d enlisted Lena’s help from the start, it wouldn’t have left her with the guilty feeling that she’d done something wrong.

 

            The sun was rising when she made it back to the palace, bathing the monstrous structure in a weak yellow light as she was driven in through the gates. Tugging her coat tighter around herself as she climbed out of the car, she walked across the icy cobblestones of the courtyard, her breath misting before her as she shivered. Slipping in through the doors, she let out a sigh of relief at the warmth that washed over her, her eyes feeling gritty from the lack of sleep and the thought of her bed sounding so inviting. It wasn’t to her bedroom that she went to first though. Instead, she made her way up to her office to steal a few moments alone and build up the courage to face her wife. She wouldn’t be able to lie this time.

 

            Apparently Lena wasn’t willing to give her a few minutes though, because Kara had barely had enough time to lower herself down into the chair, kick the heels off her aching feet and let out a heavy sigh, before the door burst open and her wife stormed in. Lyra trailed in after her, an apologetic look on her face as she gingerly lingered in the doorway. “Princess Lena, Your Majesty,” she uselessly announced, before quickly retreating and shutting the door behind her.

 

            “Good morning,” Kara wearily mumbled, rubbing her tired eyes as she swivelled her chair around to face Lena head on.

 

            “Good morning? Good morning?” Lena bitingly said, her face stiff with anger, “what the bloody hell are you playing at, Kara? I’ve called you a dozen times since you rushed out last night. Just one fucking text would’ve been nice .”

 

            Sighing, Kara gave her a pleading look, “I’m sorry, I just- it was important. I had to go.”

 

            Lena made a sound of disapproval at the back of her throat, crossing her arms over her chest as she gave her a hard look. “You didn’t have to do anything. Whatever trouble Maggie got herself into, it’s not your concern anymore. Alex won’t appreciate you meddling with her ex anymore than I appreciate you running out on me last night with no explanation.”

 

            “You don’t understand,” Kara said, before Lena interrupted her.

 

            “Don’t speak to me like I’m a bloody child.”

 

            “I’m not-”

 

            She didn’t have the chance to say anything else before the sound of raised voices in the hallway reached her ears and the door burst open again, this time with her furious looking sister striding in, while Lyra meekly followed her in. “Lady Alexandra, Your Majesty.”

 

            At the dismissive gesture off Kara, Lyra gratefully made herself scarce, leaving Kara alone with the two people she loved most in the world - the two women she’d been lying to for weeks to avoid this exact situation. She silently cursed Maggie for her careless snooping about.

 

            “Alex,” Kara lightly greeted her.

 

            “Cut the shit, Kara,” her sister snapped, “what did you do?”

 

            “I didn’t-”

 

            “Lena already told me why you went to Thorul. Why were you with Maggie? Why did she get arrested?”

 

            Lena gently cleared her throat, making her presence aware and giving Alex a meaningful look. “The stupid cow has decided to try her hand at hacking. To be specific, my family’s private files. Kara here decided to go and bail her out because Maggie apparently had diplomatic immunity, which I find quite funny, considering the fact that she’s neither a diplomat of any kind, or the queen’s personal bodyguard anymore, and has no right to diplomatic immunity, unless it was granted for other reasons.”

 

            Silently sitting behind her desk, Kara spread her hands out on the dark wood, taking a deep breath as she stared down at the sparkling diamond ring sitting above the wedding band on her ring finger. She knew that Alex was still heartbroken, although things with Sam had started to ease the pain, and she knew how Lena felt about lying, and her family. Kara would have to tread lightly and hope they understood.

 

            Alex made a spluttering sound of objection, frowning at Lena as she crossed her arms over her chest. Kara rubbed at her forehead, feeling a headache coming on from a lack of sleep, and blinked back the burning feeling at the back of her eyes as she found her patience growing increasingly thinner.

 

            “Hacking?  Maggie wouldn’t-”

 

            “I asked her to,” Kara interrupted, closing her eyes so she didn’t have to look either of them in the eye as she admitted it. “She’s been investigating the deaths of my parents and the rest of my family. I asked her to. I gave her diplomatic immunity to do it. I met with her in private and I kept it a secret.”

 

            The silence that followed her statement was deafening and she opened her eyes to find two pairs of eyes giving her looks of disbelief, betrayal and shock. Without a word, Alex turned around and started walking back to the door, and Kara let out a soft sigh, deflating slightly in her seat as guilt welled up inside.

 

            “Alex, wait-”

 

            Whirling back around, her sister pointed an accusing finger at her, her dark eyes shining with tears as the muscles in her jaw clenched and unclenched with anger. “I asked you to do one thing for me, o ne thing , and that was to stay away from her while I tried to get over her, and you couldn’t even do that for me.”

 

            “It wasn’t about you!” Kara exclaimed.

 

            “No, of course it wasn’t, it was about you ,” Alex retorted, “it always is.”

 

            “Alex!” Kara called after her as her sister yanked the door open, walked out into the hallway and slammed it shut behind her with enough force to rattle it in its frame.

 

            She had half risen from her chair, one hand on her stomach as she pushed herself up with the help of the desk, and she let out a defeated sigh as Alex left. But Lena was still there, and when Kara met her gaze, a feeling of shame washed over her and she rose the rest of the way to her feet, an urgent, begging look on her face as she rounded the massive desk, arms extended as she reached out for her wife. Lena took a step away from her, the message clear in that one small movement: Kara shouldn’t dare take another step closer. Hands falling uselessly to her sides, Kara gave her a pained look.

 

            “I’m sorry,” she said, the desperation for Lena to understand clear in her voice. “Please just let me explain.”

 

            Lena closed her eyes, her eyebrows drawn together in a frown as she held one hand up to silence her. No one else would have the courage to behave like that towards Kara, but this wasn’t just anyone, it was Lena. It was her wife, who had always been brutally honest, outspoken about her hatred of lies, and didn’t trust people lightly. For the first time since she’d roped in Maggie’s help, Kara was afraid. Not for their safety, but for their relationship.

 

            She tried again. “I did it for us .”

 

            Eyelids snapped open to reveal hard green eyes, a glimmer of anger held within them as Lena gave her a scathing look. “Don’t. Just don’t. You didn’t do this for anyone but your bloody self.”

 

            “Wha- of course I did! I told you that I was worried about keeping you safe. I was doing this for us , to make sure that there were no threats!” Kara exasperatedly explained, her heart racing in her chest as she quickly tried to explain.

 

            “My family being the threat, right?” Lena said with a tight smile.

 

            “Maggie found your trail of money from-”

 

            Lena let out a sharp laugh, a look of disbelief on her face as she stared at Kara. “What, you think that I- you think I might have something to do with this? That I would ever hurt you or our babies? Is that what you’re saying?” Her words were bitingly bitter, and a wry smile curled her lips.

 

            “Of course it’s not!” Kara hotly protested, “you know I would never-”

 

            “But you did . You let her carry on, you let her go after my family because of what I did. You’ve become that paranoid that you’re seeing threats that aren’t there! No one is trying to hurt us!”

 

            “I am not paranoid. I have good reason to do what I did, and you’re too blinded by the fact that it was your family to realise that maybe they could’ve done it. Did you ever stop to think about why your mom picked me? I was fourth in line to the throne when they made that contract. Why would your mom pawn you off to a princess who would never touch the throne unless her whole family died?”

 

            Lena paled slightly, recoiling at the thought, but stiffening slightly as she set her shoulders and stood her ground. Kara could see that what she said had made sense, but Lena was apparently having none of it. Her anger was making it hard to reason with her and Kara ran a hand through her hair in frustration, her blonde curls awry as she grabbed a handful and clenched her teeth.

 

            “Why can’t you see that I’m doing this to protect you? That I would put your safety before anything else. You’ve always been my top priority-”

 

            “That’s a load of bollocks and you know it!”

 

            Kara made a sound of indignation, a scowl appearing on her face as she gave Lena a dark look. “And what’s that supposed to mean?” Kara snarkily asked, her voice rising along with Lena’s.

 

            “You’re not the woman I married!” Lena exclaimed, and the words hit Kara harder than a slap in the face.

 

            She opened and closed her mouth, unable to make her voice work as her tongue felt thick in her dry mouth. Swallowing the lump that rose in her throat, Kara numbly shook her head, her palms feeling clammy as she clenched her hands into fists, her heart racing in her chest as fear coiled in her stomach. “You don’t mean that.”

 

            Letting out a heavy sigh, Lena threw her head back, one hand against her lower back as her stomach poked out a little and her eyes closed. She breathed in deeply, rubbing her forehead and then stared at Kara, a miserable look on her face as she met her eyes. “Yes, I do,” she quietly admitted. “You’re not the same. You’re never around anymore. There’s always a meeting, or- or an event or a dinner. I miss you. I thought that having a baby would fix things, but you’re just- you’re too busy to have time for anyone else. Everything is about appearances and making headlines.”

 

            “I’m the queen of a country,” Kara stiffly replied, her lips barely moving as she spoke, “I have my duties. You knew this when you picked me.”

 

            “Yes, I picked you . I didn’t pick the crown. You know how I felt about this life, but I chose you anyway, because I love you.”

 

            Kara let out a strangled laugh, wiping at her teary eyes as she gave Lena a tight smile. “Well sorry to break it to you, darling , but I am the crown. You can’t have me without it. You knew that when you picked this life.”

 

            “But you didn’t have to lie to me,” Lena softly replied, her eyes brimming with tears as she gave Kara a wavering smile. There was a wounded look on her face and Kara’s heart ached as she reached out for her.

 

            Lena retreated further back from her, her face crumpling slightly, and Kara realised how much she’d really hurt her. It wasn’t the fact that she’d done what she had - although involving Lena’s family had been a risky business anyway, knowing that it was a sensitive area - it was the lying that stung. It made it look like she didn’t trust Lena. Not with her safety or the safety of their unborn babies. After everything they’d been through, it made it look like Kara held her past ignorant mistakes with the anti-monarchist group against her, and Lena drew in a deep breath as she looked at Kara, her face a blank mask. There was no love in her eyes, only hurt at the betrayal and a simmering anger that made Kara wince.

 

            “I’m sorry,” Kara whispered, her voice breaking as she wrapped her arms around herself. “I just want to keep you safe.”

 

            “I know you are, I know you do,” Lena said, her voice cold and the space between them seemingly insurmountable. “I just hope it was worth it.”

 

            She turned around and walked back towards the door to the office, slipping back out into the hallway and leaving Kara alone. Letting out a cry of frustration, Kara swiped at the antique lamp sitting on her desk, sending it clattering to the ground and smashing on the hardwood floors, the tinkling sound of broken glass filling the silence as she blinked back tears. She wouldn’t cry over it. She’d brought this on herself, and she needed to find a way to make it up to Lena. Taking a few deep breaths to calm herself, Kara rubbed at her tired eyes, the prickling feeling reminding her that she hadn’t slept yet, and she decided that first things first, she needed to get some rest. She was irritable and cranky and nothing would be fixed while she was in a bad mood, and she had a lot of fixing to do.

 

            Mustering up as much pride as she could, she left her office with a dignified air about her, her guards falling into step behind her as she made her way up to a spare bedroom made up on the second floor. She hadn’t even remembered to put her heels back on and the plush carpet was soft beneath her bare feet as she slowly padded upstairs and into the elegantly furnished bedroom, removing her coat and falling into bed fully clothed. She was asleep before she could even begin to process how spectacularly she’d messed up.

Chapter Text

            She woke up from her nap feeling more rested and meekly left the guest room, padding barefoot through the palace with her guards in tow. Her rest had helped calm her down, and while she didn’t regret her actions or feel guilty, she was sorry nonetheless. It was no secret that Lena hated lying, and Kara had known that the whole time, and that was the only thing that she was willing to bend her stubborn pride enough to apologise for as she marched up to their suite with her chin up and shoulders thrown back. Hector wasn’t standing guard outside when she reached there, and it only took her a few moments upon walking through the doors to realise that Lena wasn’t there. Crossing the living area and throwing open the doors to the bedroom, a quick glance around was enough to let Kara know that some of Lena’s things had been packed up and she had gone while Kara slept. She hadn’t even said goodbye.

 

            Angry tears welled up in Kara’s eyes, directed at herself for hurting her wife, and she sat down on the edge of the bed, her shoulders slumped as she wiped at her teary eyes. A part of her knew that it was only because of her hormones, but the sadness that welled up was so overwhelming that she couldn’t brush all of it off as her being pregnant. The worst part was that ordinarily she’d go to Alex for comfort, before she calmed down enough to fix things with Lena, but in this situation, her sister had even less reason to forgive her. Alex would only see the fact that Kara had roped in her ex to sneak around, and not the bigger picture, and Kara was even more frustrated.

 

            Letting out a forceful breath, she blinked back her tears and climbed to her feet, padding into the giant closet, ignoring the gaping spaces on Lena’s side, and selecting a pair of thick, comfy pyjamas. First things first, she needed to wash the night off, although it was nearing sunset by now, after she’d nearly slept through the whole day in her exhaustion, and Kara traipsed back through her room and turned the taps on in the large tub. She wasn’t allowed the water too hot, for the baby’s sake, so she wallowed in the lukewarm water, washing her hair and scrubbing her skin with sweet smelling soap, before wrapping herself in heated towels. She felt more refreshed by the time she was in clean pyjamas, with the minty taste of toothpaste lingering in her mouth and the nutty smell of shea butter on her skin.

 

            Leaving her hair in damp, wavy locks, she climbed back into bed, called Lyra and asked her to get her two cheeseburgers, with extra pickles, a large fries and a strawberry milkshake. It had been months since she’d had anything even remotely that unhealthy, but in her bad mood, with her wife’s current whereabouts unknown, Kara didn’t care about sticking to the strict diet they’d been limited to. Eliza found her in bed, watching The Crown amidst burger wrappers and fries on the gilt silver tray spread across her lap, quietly rapping on the door and poking her head inside at Kara’s grouchy bark.

 

            Setting down her cheeseburger, Kara swallowed the lump that rose in her throat as her adoptive mother stepped into the room and shut the door behind herself. Kara had given strict orders for no one to disturb her, but that didn’t extend to family, apparently, and she wasn’t sure anyone would deny Eliza entry. Wiping her greasy fingers on a napkin, Kara fumbled for the remote and paused the giant TV, plunging the room into silence as Eliza neared the end of the giant bed.

 

            “Are you here to disown me?” Kara gloomily asked.

 

            “Kara,” Eliza flatly said, her tone scolding and serious, and Kara winced slightly. Despite the fact that she’d been a mother to Kara for longer than her own, Eliza had always strictly followed the protocols befitting their status, as she was raised to do so as a minor noble, but she wasted no time breaking it to chastise her adoptive daughter for her words. After all, she’d taken Kara in and raised her as her own daughter, and the snarky comment insinuating that Eliza would take Alex’s side was uncalled for.

 

            “Sorry,” Kara mumbled, feeling her cheeks redden, “that was rude of me to say. I assume Alex told you what happened though?”

 

            Sighing, Eliza rounded the end of the bed and took a seat on the edge of the mattress, giving Kara a grim look. “She did. She told me her side. Now, I’d like yours, please, because I know you’d never hurt your sister on purpose, and I don’t want you two to fight.”

 

            Closing her eyes, Kara leant back against her pile of soft pillows, letting out a soft sigh. She quickly ran over everything she’d done leading up to their fight, and then haltingly recalled the fight as her eyes burned, her voice low and hoarse as she tried not to cry. Eliza didn’t pass judgement as she listened to Kara explain herself, and even afterwards she didn’t take sides - ever the pacifist - and she reached out and gave Kara’s hand a gentle squeeze. She coaxed Kara out of bed and called for some tea to be brought up, ushering her out of the dark, stuffy bedroom and away from the greasy remnants of her meal. They sat around the fire, drinking tea and eating ginger snap biscuits to help settle Kara’s stomach, and Eliza let her rant and complain and justify her actions until her frustration was spent and she was left with a bone deep weariness. It was dark outside when Eliza finally left, kissing Kara on the forehead, telling her to rest and leaving her with the hesitant advice that perhaps she should call Lena.

 

            Knowing that she was right, Kara curled up on the sofa with her phone, missing the heavy weight of Aoife, who had the habit of sitting on Kara’s feet, with her head resting on her legs, no matter how many times they’d tried to keep her off the sofas. It took her a few minutes to pluck up the courage to call her, and she started tearing up at Lena’s voicemail. She didn’t leave one, and tried again. She tried six times, with no avail, before she left a voicemail.

 

            “Hey, it’s me,” she said, her voice cracking as she blinked back tears. “Listen, I know that you’re mad. I know that I- … I shouldn’t have lied. I’m sorry. Please call me back.” She hesitated for a moment, as if Lena was going to call her right then, and then she let out a soft sigh. “I love you.”

 

            Hanging up, she tossed her phone aside, resting her head back against the arm of the sofa and pressing the heels of her palms into her eyes. She cried for a while then, for no other reason than she was feeling sorry for herself, and when the baby starting vigorously kicking, she just started crying more, tenderly cradling her stomach as she stared up at the ceiling. She didn’t even remember falling asleep on the sofa, but she woke to the sound of the door quietly opening and winced at the harsh brightness of the room, shifting into an upright position and squinting at the door.

 

            “Lena?”

 

            “Your Majesty,” Lyra murmured, and Kara blinked back the gritty feeling in her eyes as she focused on her assistant sinking into a curtsy.

 

            “Oh. Lyra,” Kara said, the disappointment clear in her voice. “Good morning.”

 

            She rubbed at her eyes, swinging her legs off the side of the sofa and climbing to her feet. Her phone was at the end of the sofa and she quickly scooped it up, her heart sinking in her chest when she saw that Lena hadn’t called her. Breakfast was placed on the table, and Kara’s stomach rumbled at the smell of food. Walking over to the table, she sank down onto a chair, running a hand through her hair as Lyra poured her coffee from a carafe. Draping a napkin across her lap, Kara picked at the bagel, eating the salmon out of it and leaving the cream cheese, and turned her nose up at the green smoothie that made her stomach wrench. As she sipped at her coffee, she fiddled with her phone, and with a heavy sigh, she called Lena.

 

            Much to her surprise, the phone was answered after five rings, and she almost spilt her coffee in her lap as she hurriedly set her mug down. “Lena?”

 

            “Your Majesty,” Jess’ apologetic voice came through, and Kara’s hope of talking to Lena was snuffed out immediately. “The Princess is indisposed right now.”

 

            “Put her on, Jess,” Kara said, ignoring the other woman’s words.

 

            She could hear another voice on the end, the words muffled but the tone undeniably Lena, and Kara’s heart ached at the sound. Jess was back a moment later. “I’m sorry, Your Majesty, she, ah, she doesn’t want to talk to you at the moment.”

 

            Kara grit her teeth, and let out a huff of frustration. “Where are you right now?”

 

            After a moment of muffled conversation, which Kara patiently listened to from the dining table, she got her reply. “Ireland.”

 

            “Ire- tell her to come back now!” Kara spluttered, an incredulous look on her face at the thought of Lena flying across half of the world after just one fight. “Actually, you know what, I’ll come to her.”

 

            She hung up halfway through Jess’ spluttered protests, and was in the midst of trying organise a flight for herself - Lena had taken the private jet - when she received a text off Lena. She assumed it was off Lena because it was a text and not a phonecall, which meant that she didn’t have to hear Kara’s voice, and it was nowhere near as polite as it would’ve been if Jess had written it in Lena’s stead.

 

            If you come here and try and force me to leave, I’ll never come back.

 

            Wincing as if she’d been slapped, Kara slammed her phone down on the table, face down, and stalked off to the bathroom. A quick shower helped unknot her tense muscles, and she changed into a thick dress that still hid her protruding stomach, before heading downstairs to her office. If Lena needed space, then Kara would give it to her. She had a country to run anyway.

 

            The palace felt empty and unwelcoming as she walked through the halls, and not because of its usual quietness, but because of the knowledge that it was empty. Since she’d had to take up residence there, she’d been constantly kept busy with Alex’s frequent visits, her friends coming and going, and at first, Lena’s snapping or snappy comments, which had given way to her endless compliments and showers of gifts. Now, Alex wasn’t speaking to her, her friends were all busy with their own lives, and Lena was in Ireland with no plans of returning anytime soon and no desire to speak to her wife. It left Kara in a sour mood as she walked through the hallways. The lamp she’d smashed the day before had been cleared up and replaced with a new one, most likely brought up from storage, and she collapsed into the leather chair behind her desk and pulled the metal box towards herself. Unlocking it, she pulled out all of the documents that were waiting for her seal and signature and got to work with grim determination.

 

---

 

            A few days passed in that fashion, until she was overcome with loneliness and so tense with frustration that she had to summon a masseuse to work out the kinks in her back. On Thursday, she worked until after lunch, meeting with two of her advisors about Christmas and taking a quick break for a panini stuffed with turkey, pickles and mustard, and half a dozen toilet breaks for her tiny bladder. Her mood didn’t improve until she called it a day and was walking back through the palace, only to bump into Sam in the hallway as she was being led to a sitting room to wait and see if Kara would see her. Overcome with relief, she went straight towards her friend and gave her a hug, stopping Sam from curtsying in the process, letting out a gentle sigh as she closed her eyes for a moment.

 

            “Am I glad to see you,” Kara said.

 

            Sam withdrew and gave her a grim smile, “how’re you holding up?”

 

            It had been a solitary few days, as far as socialising outside of her duties had gone, and Kara pulled a face as she slowly started walking down the hallway, dismissing the butler that had been guiding Sam towards a sitting room. Making for one of the smaller parlours with large windows overlooking the snow dusted gardens, Kara took a seat by the unlit fire, looking out at the grey sky and downpour of rain splattering against the plants outside.

 

            “So, she’s talking to you then?” Kara said, giving Sam a rueful smile.

 

            Shrugging slightly, Sam gave her a sheepish smile in return. “Barely. I don’t think her or Alex really want to listen to me try and reason with them.”

 

            Kara delicately arched an eyebrow, fiddling with an arm of her glasses as she gave Sam a look of surprise. “You were … defending me?”

 

            “I mean, I was trying to help them see your side of things. I think all of you are too stubborn for your own good, and won’t even try and look at it from everyone else’s point of view, so I thought that maybe a third party might help.”

 

            “Oh no, I did think about it,” Kara said, letting out a sharp laugh, “I just let my fear get the better of me. Still am, as a matter of fact.”

 

            “Look, Kara, can I be honest?” Sam sighed, an expectant look on her face as she waited for Kara’s nod before continuing. “You have a good reason to be afraid. More reason than anyone else, and that includes your sister and your wife. Lena knows that, and so does Alex, just like you knew they’d both get upset. And I think they’re allowed to be upset, and you’re allowed to do what you did, and you all have to be okay with that until you can forgive each other. Personally, if Ruby was in danger, I’d do exactly what you’re doing, and I can guarantee you’ll probably go even more overboard when baby one is born, so I can’t fault you for that. But you also know that Lena hates lying, and Lena hates confronting her problems until they actually become problems , because deep down, she cares a lot more than she lets on, and if you convinced her someone was going to blow the palace up with you both inside, she’d probably turn grey from worrying. And Alex … well, she’s still caught up on Maggie-”

 

            “She's with you now,” Kara quietly interrupted.

 

            With a small smile, Sam nodded, “yeah, but those old feelings don’t just disappear when you start sleeping with other people, especially when things didn’t end because they didn’t love each other anymore. That’s a lot more difficult to figure out.”

 

            “Neither of them will talk to me.”

 

            “They’re mad. It’s better that you don’t talk to them right now,” Sam sighed, “but they’ll both get over it. You need to get over your pride too, and admit that you put their feelings in second place to put your safety first. And I know you did it for you and Lena, but that’s not how she sees it right now, and if you insist that you were thinking about her when you did it, then she’s just going to stay mad.”

 

            “But I can’t tell her or Alex that when they won’t answer my calls!”

 

            Calming her down with a placating gesture of her hands and a mellow look, Sam gave her a warm smile. “I’m working on it. I’ll bring her back to Thorul. She can stay with me for a few days, or in her house in Mercer city, and then come back to you for the Christmas stuff you have to do. And Alex will be at yours for Christmas anyway, because you can be sure that Eliza will drag her there by her ankles if she tries to break your tradition.”

 

            Letting out a heavy sigh, Kara deflated in her seat, grimacing as she nodded. Sam seemed to have it all planned out, making it seem easy to just wait it out until the worst of the anger had passed and everyone was more level headed, but Kara was already tired of the emptiness on the other side of the bed and the spontaneous visits off her sister. She missed nights at the ballet and family dinners, and curling up with Lena and feeling the babies kick, or shopping with Alex.

 

            “Are you still coming here for Christmas?” Kara asked.

 

            “Yeah, of course. Ruby won’t stop talking about it, she’s so excited.”

 

            Kara smiled - the first genuine one in days - and the conversation drifted away from her problems with her family, and onto the lighter topics of the approaching holidays. She stayed for dinner, and Kara was relieved to have some company as they ate in her suite - it seemed stupid to have a dining room set up for no reason - and by the time Sam left, flying back home to Thorul, Kara was in a much better mood. In fact, her mood was improved so much that she picked up her phone and finally returned one of the missed calls she had off Maggie. Her anger towards the other woman had been unwarranted, and now that it had died off, she wasn’t above being the bigger person and apologising. There was also the issue of finding out what she’d found.

 

            “Your Majesty,” Maggie’s hesitant voice came through the phone as Kara called her a moment later.’

 

            “I’m sorry,” Kara blurted out immediately, “I was wrong to blame you. I shouldn’t have had put you in this situation anyway, but you were the only person I could trust, and I’m sorry for snapping at you for doing the job I asked you to do.”

 

            The line went silent for a few moments, and Kara almost thought the line had gone dead when Maggie finally replied. “Oh, um, well, that’s alright. I’m sorry for being stupid enough to get caught. I should’ve known that they would’ve had the tightest security money could buy.”

 

            Kara let out a quick laugh, “well, I mean, Lena’s family definitely has a lot of secrets, so I know why you would’ve assumed. I just- I didn’t want to bring her into it.”

 

            “I really messed things up for you, didn’t I?”

 

            “No, I did that myself,” Kara bitterly muttered. “It’s fine. As soon as I have my proof that I’m not being paranoid, Lena will realise that I was right to do what I did. Did you- did you actually find anything?”

 

            Maggie was silent for a moment, and Kara heard the deep breath, feeling her stomach know with worry as she waited to find out what Maggie knew. “The money … I traced it to Daxam. The account that some of the money coming out of Thorul went to led back to an account there. I think it’s the Daxamites.”

 

            Making a small sound of surprise, Kara’s heart thudded loudly in her chest and her eyes widened with surprise. “Daxam? Wha- but why would they- oh . Mon-El. He’s a distant relative. He’s next in line after me.”

 

            “They’re trying to steal Krypton for themselves.”

Chapter Text

            Leading up to Christmas, things didn’t improve, and it only worsened Kara’s mood. Her usual sunny personality was practically non-existent as she spent her nights anxiously pacing back and forth in her empty suite, the cold bed unwelcoming and the dreams of blood, betrayal and death scaring her away from sleep. The baby would kick up a storm as she rubbed a soothing hand over her swelling stomach, now undeniably distended with pregnancy, murmuring quiet things in the dark as she avoided sleep. During the day, she would vomit so much that it felt like there wasn’t even a point in eating, she had developed bad heartburn and indigestion, and in between her meetings, she’d steal fifteen minutes of sleep, never making it into a deep sleep and having to suffer through her terrifying dreams.

 

            Eliza made the drive into Argo City nearly every day over the next week, making sure that Kara wasn’t always alone, even though she felt like it, fretting over her adoptive daughter as she took in the sunken eyes and hollow cheeks. Looking at her, you would’ve thought she’d lost Lena forever, but there were so many troubles weighing down on Kara that she couldn’t even bring herself to take care of her body. She gave into every craving, eating whatever she felt like, which only made her feel worse in hindsight, and she agreed with everything her advisors suggested for the upcoming Christmas celebrations, not having the energy to debate whether red or white would go better with the green garlands of winter flowers for the dining hall.

 

            The day before Christmas Eve, she was having a dinner party for a few hundred guests - a tradition that she’d started with Lena - and the palace was busy with a flurry of activity. Chefs were busy baking in the kitchen from the crack of dawn, footmen were polishing crystal champagne flutes and bringing out the best china, maids were dusting chandeliers with a hundred tiny bulbs or buffing up the marble floors. Kara was left to her own devices for most of the morning, occupying herself with angry sketches of anything her eyes landed on. She drew the lamp on her desk, the fireplace with its empty hearth, her empty bed that she loathed so much, and the table with the remnants of breakfast for one. She missed Lena so much it hurt her heart to think about her. She missed her touch too, and craved it more than ever as she found herself growing so easily frustrated. It wasn’t that she hadn’t tried to call her again and apologise, because she had every day, but Lena refused to answer the calls. One call off Sam had informed her that she’d coaxed Lena back to Thorul, with the reasonable argument that if something happened, she needed to be near people who could help her, instead of tucked away in the endless green countryside half a world away. She never came home to Krypton though. Not even for the party.

 

            “Where’s Lena?” Kara asked as soon as Sam entered her suite alone, a frown wrinkling her brow as she rose to greet Sam with a friendly kiss on the cheek.

 

            She’d just gotten out of a fresh bath, her skin still warm and smelling like roses, and as she sat in her fluffy robe, waiting for her hair and makeup team to arrive, Kara couldn’t help but feel like something had gone wrong. Lena was supposed to be there too, because they always put on a smile for the benefit of everyone else, no matter how much they’d been fighting recently.

 

            Giving her a sheepish smile, Sam gingerly winced, “I’m sorry, Kara. I tried, really I did, but she won’t come. She said she wants to spend Christmas by herself.”

 

            Spluttering, Kara felt her hopes sink faster than she’d got them up, a hollow feeling spreading inside as she realised how foolish she’d been to think that Lena wouldn’t be stubborn on this matter. “She isn’t coming?”

 

            “I’m sorry.”

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara ran a hand through her damp hair, wiping it on her gown as she paced back and forth with a troubled look on her face. “She has to. What will people say when they realise she’s not here? I can’t have people thinking that we’re separated or- or that we’re having problems. I can’t have that kind of negative press.”

 

            “But … it’s the truth,” Sam softly said, her voice quiet and a pitying look on her face.

 

            Kara winced slightly. They were having problems, but it wasn’t that serious. It had only been a little over two weeks - they’d spent longer apart before - and it wasn’t cause for rumours to be spreading about marital troubles yet. She ground her teeth together in frustration, because even when they’d been at their worst during the contract, they’d both fulfilled their part and presented themselves as a couple, but now, a vow made with love and rings wasn’t enough for Lena to feel obligated enough to try and work through things with her wife. Letting out a huff of frustration, Kara closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath, before letting out a heavy sigh.

 

            “It’s fine. This is fine. I’ll just- I’ll say she’s come down with a cold, and then I’ll … I’ll announce my pregnancy. No one will care that she’s not here if I’m walking around with this ,” she said, staring down at her stomach. “Everyone at the party will leak the news to the press, then I can have my Aunt Astra release an official statement on Christmas Day after I give my speech. I’m five months along now anyway, so I can’t hide it for much longer.”

 

            “Kara,” Sam sighed, “is that such a good idea? I mean, I know Lena wanted her privacy for as long as she could.”

 

            “And I’m giving it to her,” Kara tightly replied, “no one will be looking at her. They won’t even suspect that she’s pregnant too. She can shut herself up in her estate and sulk like a child, if that’s what she wants, and I’ll do my best to fix everything and make sure no one plants a bomb on her doorstep.”

 

            Sam didn’t say anything after that, and Kara summoned Lyra to get a new dress for her. The one she’d been intending to wear flared out at the bottom of her ribs, hiding her bump well, but if she was planning on letting everyone shockingly find out the news and leak it to the press, then she was going to need something tighter. Half of the items in her closet had never been worn, or altered yet, so it wasn’t too hard to find a deep bottle green dress that wasn’t too tight over her stomach, but was sleek and fitted in all the right places. The colour was perfect for Christmas too, and she grimly accepted that she was going to do what was necessary to ensure their safety, in all things, not just their physical safety. It was just as important to not let the media drive a wedge between them, or hound them for quotes on whatever rumour was circulating about them at that moment. If they caught wind of Lena’s walking out, neither of them would be able to leave their homes for a month.

 

            They were soon joined by a team of expert stylists and Kara sat down before her vanity and let her hair be blow dried while a woman got to work on her face. By the time they were finished, her hair had been curled and partly pulled back with tiny diamond and emerald encrusted hair combs brought up from the treasury, and she had the massive necklace Lena had first given her for her coronation hanging around her neck, matching the diamond earrings and the stone on her left hand. Her makeup made her look better than she felt, hiding her bags and her bad skin, but still, Kara thought her face looked a bit puffy beneath it all. It would do though, and she wryly thought that no one would be looking at her face anyway; the main focus of the evening would most definitely be on her stomach.

 

            As the sun set outside the palace windows, bathing everything in shadows as the yellow warmth was leached out of the stone of the building, Kara was gathered in a sitting room with a few of the people she trusted most in the world. Alex, Eliza, Sam, Lucy and Astra were all there, all for various reasons on Kara’s behalf, but there for the same purpose.

 

            “So, if anyone asks, you tell them Lena has a cold. She’s in Thorul to escape the stress of the party, but she’s fine and I’m going to join her there for the holidays. If they ask about me , tell them that I’m five months along, happy and healthy. We’re both excited. We’re planning on going to Bokos Palace in the spring when they’re born so that we can enjoy our time as new parents. Tell them I’m naming her after my mother or whatever lies you want to spin. I don’t care. The more bullshit that leaks, the better.”

 

            Everyone listened with mild looks of concern on their faces, and Astra was the first to pipe up, a wary look in her eyes as she stared at Kara. “Where is Lena?”

 

            “In Thorul,” Kara curtly replied.

 

            “Yes, but why is she in Thorul. She should be here.”

 

            “Because we’re taking a break,” Kara bitterly admitted, having to dislodge the words from her throat when they got stuck. Clearing her throat slightly, Kara gave her aunt a tight smile. “Nothing to worry about. Just a small argument, but it’ll all resolve itself soon.”

 

            Alex let out a snort of laughter, “right, because that’s what we do. We smooth things over and pretend like it never happened so that you can live your rose-coloured life.”

 

            A few moments of silence followed Alex’s dig at her sister, before Lucy uncrossed her legs and climbed to her feet, giving Sam a pointed look. “Samantha, didn’t you say you had a question for me? About the … thing .”

 

            Leaping to her feet, Sam eagerly nodded, “yes, of course. Let’s go and join the party and we can talk over drinks. Astra, would you like to come?”

 

            “I just have something to ask-”

 

            “No, you go,” Kara cut her off, giving her aunt a soft smile, “we can talk more tomorrow. We’ll need to talk more about the statement you’ll release anyway.”

 

            Without a word, although she gave Kara’s shoulder a firm squeeze and gave Alex a pointed look, Eliza filed out of the room with everyone else, leaving the squabbling sisters behind. Alex was standing in the middle of the room with her arms folded over her chest, while Kara lounged in her green dress, careful not to wrinkle the fabric as she rested a hand against her stomach. As soon as the door shut, Alex moved towards one of the sofas and Kara made a sound of warning, her irritation at her sister making her feel petty.

 

            “I haven’t given you permission to sit.”

 

            Shooting her a glare, Alex stiffly stood in front of the sofa, and Kara let out a weary sigh, rubbing a hand over her forehead. She wasn’t very good at holding a grudge, and she gestured at the sofa a moment later, watching as Alex sank down onto it, a stony look on her face as she stared back at Kara.

 

            “I know you’re angry with me,” Kara slowly said, a pleading look in her sad, blue eyes, “but I’m sorry, Alex. I know you’re still trying to move on, and it was unfair for me to be sneaking around with … Sawyer.” She couldn’t bring herself to use Maggie’s name, because it only made it more personal. “I just needed someone that I could trust. It’s not about you, I promise.”

 

            “Because everything is always about you, right? Whether you intend it to be or not. I had to ask for your fucking permission to propose to her, just in case you had some big announcement that too precedence. You had to knight her so that she wouldn’t embarrass you. You just- you’re selfish, Kara! I’ve spent half of my life living in your shadow, while you get everything and I’m left with nothing! You have a country and a crown and a wife, and you’re going to have little blonde babies - everything that most people couldn’t even dream of - and that still wasn’t enough for you. You had to mess around with other people’s lives.”

 

            Eyes shining with tears, Kara gave Alex a haughty look, although her voice cracked when she spoke, ruining the effect. “Well I’m sorry that my parents died and my family didn’t want me, and your mom was good enough to take in her goddaughter. You never asked for a sister, I get it, and I’m sorry for coming in and ruining the perfect life you had with your parents. I’m sorry that the rest of my family died and I got thrown into this and have to follow their shitty rules. I have to worry about everything little thing that happens - everything that you do, and Sam does, and Lena does - to make sure that it doesn’t reflect badly upon me, and I have to worry about people killing me-”

 

            “No one is trying to kill you, Kara! Lena was right; you’re being paranoid. You’ve deluded yourself into seeing danger everywhere you go, and I get it, you’re having a baby and you want to keep it safe, but is the price of your marriage and what’s left of your family really worth it?”

 

            Kara let out a cold, humourless laugh, a rueful smile curling her lips as she looked at her sister, trying her best to mask the pain that made her feel like she’d been kicked in the chest. “If that’s the case, that I’ve lost you all, then next time you see my wife, you can tell her yourself that my dear distant relatives in Daxam might be trying to poach my kingdom. She won’t listen to me, but I’m sure the two of you could have a lovely scathing chat about me and my paranoia.”

 

            She turned around to leave then, a feeling of bitter regret welling up inside, but Alex lunged at her and grabbed her by the shoulder before she could take more than a couple of steps. “Wait, what? What’s going on with Daxam.”

 

            Arching an eyebrow, Kara shrugged her sister’s hand off, taking in the ashen look on Alex’s face, her eyes wide with shock and her lips pressed together so hard as she clenched her jaw that they were a thin, pale line. She looked scared at Kara’s words, like for the first time she was realising that it hadn’t truly been personal, but had just involved a part of her personal life.

 

            The rational side of Kara’s mind, which wanted to reconcile with her sister and let everything go back to normal, went out the window though, as her anger at the dismissive way Alex treated her concerns flared back up. She hadn’t wanted to listen before, but at the hint that maybe Kara was onto something, she suddenly cared enough to stop and hear her out.

 

            “No,” Kara bitingly said, “you don’t get to call me paranoid and then ask questions.”

 

            “Kara-”

 

            “Don’t even bother, Alex. I asked for Maggie’s help because she was the only person I could trust to find out the truth in secret, and if you think it was for any other reason, then you have a really shit opinion of me, and that hurts. I’m not going to tell her to stop until I have the answers I’m looking for, so unless you can live with that, there’s really nothing else to say. I told you I was sorry, but that doesn’t mean I was wrong.”

 

            When she turned around to leave again, Alex didn’t stop her, and she swept out of the room with as much grace as she could manage, but her shoulders slumped as soon as she turned the corner and was out of sight. The urge to cry was suddenly upon her, and she made directly for the nearest door, slipping into a powder room and sinking down onto the silk ottoman, before bursting into tears. It seemed like all she wanted to do these days was cry, and a feeling of loneliness washed over her, her heart aching for Lena. Trying to get it together, knowing that she shouldn’t sit or she’d wrinkle the fine silk dress and make her eyes go bloodshot, Kara sucked in a deep breath, holding it in until she felt like her lungs were about to explode, before she shakily let it out. Breathing in and out until her hysterics had passed, she talked herself into being brave just for the part. Afterwards, when her makeup had been taken off and Lyra had helped her out of her dress and turned down her massive bed, she could fall apart on the soft mattress, all alone with no one to see.

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara stared at her reflection in a large ornate mirror, tilted her chin up, and walked out of the powder room. Vasquez and the other guards acted as if nothing was out of place and fell into step around her as she started walking down the carpeted hallway. The sound of the wavering melodies of the orchestra wafted towards her as she neared the party, ready to make her grand entrance, alone, and Kara plastered a bright smile onto her face, resisting the urge to fiddle with the heavy necklace hanging around her neck as she neared the open doors. People were milling about in tuxedos and fancy dresses and they all turned to look at her as her presence was announced.

 

            Slipping straight into the room, ignoring the shallow bows and curtsies, she kept her smile in place as everyone straightened up. The music had started back up again, but only the conversation towards the back of the ballroom had as the guests neared to the door stared at her stomach in shock. Cat Grant was the first person bold enough to approach and congratulate her, and a professional photographer took their photo as they posed, Kara’s hand resting lightly on her stomach as she smiled. Answering a few polite questions from the Prime Minister, Kara excused herself and moved on to other guests. Over and over again she made the excuse that Princess Lena was unwell and had gone to her estate in Thorul to recuperate in peace, that she was five months along and they were both very excited to be parents, that they hadn’t picked out a name yet. She accepted congratulations off foreign diplomats, minor royalty from overseas, old friends from boarding school, senators and businessman alike and spun the lie over and over again. It was tedious, and she was growing tired of the party before they’d even sat down for the seven course meal prepared for them.

 

            She ate slowly so everyone else could enjoy the food, trying not to toy with her food even though her appetite escaped her - she could’ve devoured a pint of ice cream and a twelve pack of donuts if allowed though, and for some reason, she thought that mustard would be nice with that - and she half-heartedly made conversation with Astra to her left. Alex was on her right, in Lena’s usual place, but she didn’t say a word beyond a comment about each dish to make it look like the sisters were as close as ever.

 

            When the night finally ended, she was so tired that she didn’t think she could make it up all the stairs, deciding to hole up in a smaller bedroom on the first floor instead. Lyra fetched her warm pyjamas and a dressing gown, helping remove all of the combs from her hair and fetching products for Kara to remove her makeup. With a cup of tea cooling on the nightstand, Kara was unwinding for the night, feeling the baby move around inside, as annoyingly active as always, when there was a knock on the door. Tiredly rubbing at her eyes, she sighed.

 

            “Enter.”

 

            Lyra pushed her way into the room with Kara’s cellphone in hand, dipping into a curtsy. “Your Majesty. The Princess has been trying to get in contact with you.”

 

            If she’d been holding her cup of tea in hand, Kara suspected that she would’ve dropped it in surprise, because Lena had been so purposely avoidant that Kara had never imagined that she’d willingly call her. She was the most stubborn person Kara knew, especially when she had been hurt, and it was surprising that she’d called. Holding her hand out, she let Lyra approach and hand her the sleek phone, before retreating at Kara’s dismissal. And there were three missed calls, lighting up the screen with Lena’s name above it, and Kara felt her stomach lurch with nerves as a deep ache throbbed in her chest. Pressing the little phone, she watched as it started to call and pressed the phone to her ear. It rang four times before it was picked up, with nothing but silence on the other end.

 

            “Hello?” Kara hesitantly asked.

 

            “Why didn’t you tell me that you were going to do that?”

 

            At the sound of Lena’s voice, tense and annoyed, Kara felt relief wash over her, although the aching feeling intensified, and she had to choke back a sob. They’d never gone so long without talking before, even when it had all been fake, and Kara let out a shaky breath as she closed her eyes. Underneath it all, she supposed that she should feel annoyed at her.

 

            “If you’d shown, I wouldn’t have had to.”

 

            “You know bloody well why I didn’t show,” Lena snapped, “and a fucking phone call wouldn’t have hurt.”

 

            Kara made a sound of indignation at the back of her throat, “a phone call? You want a damn phone call , Lena? You could’ve answered any of the dozen times I called you. If you’d answered and had the decency to tell me you weren’t coming, I wouldn’t have had to let it slip that we’re having a baby. In case you forgot, this is your baby too.”

 

            “Don’t try and make me into the bad guy here for leaving. You know why I left. You know why I won’t come home.”

 

            “Lena, I’m sorry . I’m so sorry, really, I am.”

 

            “Bollocks. If you felt sorry, you would’ve called Maggie off. Yes, Kara, I’m not a pissing idiot, you stupid cow, I know she’s still looking. Daxam? Really? Now you think you’re about to be ousted by some guy who’s barely even related to you? Do you know how paranoid you sound?”

 

            Softly sighing, Kara realised that Alex had told her, because of course she would. No matter how angry the three of them were, it wasn’t for lack of love, and they all cared about each other. So of course she’d told Lena what Kara suspected, because Lena would want to be kept in the loop where it considered her wife. Perhaps she wanted Kara to be right too, so it would hurt less to think that she’d lied. At least if Kara was right, it would’ve been for a good reason. It didn’t sound like Lena believed her though.

 

            “If you know so much, then how come you never said anything?” Kara quietly asked.

 

            A sharp laugh on the other end preceded Lena’s words. “What, so you really do think I’m bloody involved now, huh?”

 

            “Don’t be ridiculous,” Kara snapped. “You’re acting like a spoiled child because you don’t want to admit that you’re scared that I’m right. Grow up, Lena. You can’t run away from all of your problems. You’re going to be a mother soon and you still spend half of your time trying to spite your own like you’re still a teenager. I love you, and I’m sorry for hurting you, but I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe, and I won’t apologise for that. I won’t force you to come back here, not if you don’t want to - that’s why we broke the contract in the first place - but we are having two babies together, and I will not let them only have one mother because of this. Be a grown up for once in your life, figure out what you want me to do to prove that I’m sorry, and get back her and fix this.”

 

            The line went dead before she got a reply and Kara cried herself to sleep again that night, so tired that it was nearly dawn before the nightmares started again.

Chapter Text

            Christmas Eve arrived the next morning, and Kara greeted it with a bad mood, showering and pulling on her new Christmas sweater despite herself, and walking through the quiet palace. As per usual, she’d be spending the holidays with her family, as well as a few friends, but she was restless and a little bit angry as she walked the dim hallways, waiting for dawn to arrive. Her sleep had been fitful, her dreams filled with Lena, and as she silently roamed the palace with her silent guards prowling along behind her, she couldn’t help but think about her wife. Of all the stupid fights they’d had, this was by far the most ridiculous, and Kara felt tears prickle in her eyes as she thought about it. It was Christmas, and Lena was going to let something as silly as Kara caring about their safety to keep them apart for the holidays. They were usually one of the best times of the year for Kara, but despite the heavy scent of pine mingling with the flowers and polished wood.

 

            She stopped in an alcove near a window overlooking the sprawling gardens, waving her guards away to take positions further down the ends of the hallway, and took a seat on the small velvet padded bench. The waistband of her skirt cut into her stomach and she shifted uncomfortably, feeling the baby stir inside as she stared out the window. It was still semi-dark outside, with only the first touches of dawn lightening the inky blackness to vague shadows. Slowly but surely, the indistinct shapes took the form of snow capped mounds where the neatly trimmed hedges hid, or the skeletal branches of oaks and willows, and the surface of the lake was frosted over with a thin sheet of ice. It was the perfect picturesque winter wonderland, and Kara pressed a palm against a pane of glass, feeling the freezing cold beneath her touch and watching as it fogged up slightly around her hand, as she watched the dark sky lighten to a rose colour, a faint golden glow emanating from the rising sun as she watched it wash over everything.

 

            At a particularly forceful kick, Kara placed a hand against the bump, a glum look on her face as she sighed. “Looks like it’s just you and me, my little Pea,” she murmured.

 

            By the time she had finished off her breakfast, the first of her guests for the holidays started arriving, beginning with Eliza and Alex. Before they’d even made it past greetings, in which Alex stubbornly refused to mutter more than a few words, Eliza had sat them both down and made them both apologise to each other, under the stern warning that they weren’t allowed to spoil the holidays over a petty argument. Kara could see that despite her stubborn urge to stay angry, Alex wanted to forgive her, and she sheepishly apologised profusely, until her sister had lost her frosty demeanour and was willing to have a somewhat civil conversation.

 

            At the appearance of Sam and an exuberant Ruby, tea was being poured and the two sisters were already digging into mince pies and gingerbread cookies, looking far more relaxed than they’d been the night before. As if making a point, Alex chastely kissed Sam as she walked into the room, and Kara silently drank her tea, knowing that her sister deserved her happiness, and Lena wasn’t here to make fret about it ruining their relationship. Kara had already possibly ruined it herself, so what did it matter if Alex and Sam were together? She was past caring at that point anyway.

 

            For the rest of the day, she moped around while everyone drank peppermint schnapps, having to restrict herself to hot chocolate with Ruby, while she brooded over thoughts of what Lena would be doing. She wouldn’t be with her family, that was for sure, which meant she would be all alone in her estate, probably reading by the fire, an Irish wolfhound curled up by her feet as she picked at the meal her chef made. She should’ve been with Kara, enjoying the warmth of the palace while it snowed outside, schooling everyone at chess while carols played in the background and a pile of gifts accumulated beneath the towering pine tree in their favourite sitting room. Her Christmas sweater would’ve perfectly matched Kara’s red one, and they’d both curl up together in bed that night, thinking about the busy day the next day, and the roast they’d all cook in the kitchens, while their absent staff enjoyed their own holiday’s at home.

 

            Instead, she lingered in the corner, watching everyone enjoy themselves from the fringes with Astra and Eliza, who were less exuberant with their festivity. They dined on the platters left assembled for them in the kitchens, and once it was late enough to be acceptable, Kara excused herself under the pretense that she was tired and retired up to her suite. She was tired though, her whole body feeling drained as she changed into freshly laundered pyjamas and slipped into bed. It still took a long while for sleep to come though, and when it did, it wasn’t accompanied by comforting dreams.

 

---

 

            The next morning, she was the first awake, and wandered downstairs to the kitchens to put on a fresh pot of coffee and try and get breakfast started. It had become a Christmas tradition by now, and she was happy to do something useful as she wallowed over the fact that this would be her first Christmas without Lena since they’d started their whole charade. She’d even been there for that first fake one, which only made her absence even more hurtful.

 

            Alex joined her shortly, helping herself to a cup of strong coffee and standing beside Kara as she helped fry bacon in a pan, a look of concentration in her face as she made sure she didn’t burn it. They always settled for simple foods, having little skill fending for themselves in the kitchen - the extent of Kara’s cooking were her and Lena’s trips to Ireland, or cooking on Christmas Day - and aside from a few burnt pieces of toast, after they got distracted discussing when they should put the turkey in, they had a decent spread of foods for breakfast. Eliza and Astra had joined them by that point, helping scramble eggs, butter toast and fry sausages as they opened and closed cupboards and drawers in the unfamiliar kitchen.

 

            Along with Sam and Ruby, the only other non-family guest was Winn, who was as part of the family as any of them in Kara’s eyes, and after he was dragged out of bed, he helped set the table. Breakfast was a slow affair, with everyone still half asleep, except for a bright-eyed Ruby, who was nagging Sam to let her open her gifts, and they were mostly silent as they chewed on their food, preparing themselves for a busy day. Astra engaged Kara in a serious conversation about her speech, as well as the personal statement she had planned on Kara’s behalf, while everyone else half listened.

 

            After they finished eating, presents were opened, and the living room floor was strewn with colourful wrapping paper and discarded ribbons, while each person present accumulated a pile of gifts, and kisses and hugs were exchanged all around. Kara and Lena had gifted Ruby a new horse, along with the other presents, and Kara promised to take the teen out to the stables afterwards to see her new mare, but it had to wait for the time being, because Kara’s hair and makeup team had arrived, and she was being ushered into her suite to be made ready for the day. Hair was brushed and treated, until it gleamed gold in the warm light of the room, and her dark circles were hidden as well as could be by the layers of makeup, and soon enough, she was slipping into her dress, and giving herself a once over in the mirror. Satisfied with her appearance, and the way it made her bump look, she exited her bedroom and froze at the sight of a figure sitting before the fire.

 

            Dismissing her hair and makeup team with genuine gratitude, Kara silently met Lena’s level stare, feeling her heart rate pick up in her chest as they looked at each other in heavy silence. Once the last of the stylists had left, their wheeled bag disappearing out through the door with a last curtsy, Kara took a wary step closer to Lena.

 

            “You- you’re back,” Kara stated, shocked at the sight of the brunette lounging in a chair with her hair perfectly styled and her immaculate makeup.

 

            Climbing to her feet, Lena drew herself up to her full height, and Kara realised that the green dress she was wearing hugged the curve of her bump. Despite the fact that she was only two weeks behind Kara, her bump was considerably smaller, which meant that Lena had purposely worn the figure hugging dress for people to see. She looked beautiful, the sharpness of her jaw softened by the pregnancy, and her pale skin was almost glowing beneath her makeup. Lena looked like how everyone envisioned themselves pregnant, and Kara felt puffy and awful standing in front of her. The awfulness was mostly due to the fact that she’s spent two weeks pining for her wife, and now she was within her grasp, but the cool look in Lena’s eyes kept her at bay with a silent warning.

 

            “You were right,” Lena managed to get out past her pride, her chin stubbornly jutted forward as she crossed her arms over her chest. “We’re in this together, for the babies sakes, and I have every intention of being there for both of my children.”

 

            “Oh,” Kara softly murmured, the words not quite what she’d been hoping Lena’s return meant, but enough to quash she loneliness she’d been dwelling in. “And the dress …”

 

            Lena set her jaw, a spark of anger in her determined eyes as she pressed her lips together in a grim line. “If you’re making your first appearance with yours, then I may as well announce mine now and be done with it. Otherwise the news about you will die down, only for us to have to bloody go through it all again with me.”

 

            Slowly nodding, Kara fiddled with the rings on her wedding finger, her eyes burning slightly as she stared at Lena. They fell into tense silence, the distance of a few feet separating them, and Kara couldn’t help but think about how they’d never spent so long apart since they’d been thrown together all those years ago. They’d never spent so long apart without coming back to open arms and the feeling of home as they kissed. Instead of feeling relieved at Lena’s return, Kara couldn’t help but feel all wrong . Her wife hadn’t kissed her, hadn’t hugged her, and couldn’t even muster up a warm look of love when she’d stared at Kara. It made a lump rise in Kara’s throat, and she desperately wanted to reach out to her, but knew that Lena would have none of it.

 

            When she couldn’t take the silence any longer, the tension almost palpably humming between them, Kara let out a pent up breath, her shoulders sagging as she gave Lena a yearning look. “I miss you.”

 

            There was the slightest crack in Lena’s anger at Kara’s words, and she swallowed thickly, her eyes shining with a sheen of tears. “I miss you too.”

 

            “Then come home,” Kara softly pleaded, taking a step towards her with her hand extended.

 

            Letting out a quick laugh, Lena gave her a tight smile, shaking her head slightly. “You don’t get it, do you? You think that if I’m mad at you, then I can’t be missing you, and if I miss you, then surely I’m not still mad at you. Well I am, Kara. I’m bloody angry with you, you silly mare, and I’m allowed to be angry.” The tears dissipated quickly, and her face hardened, all sharp angles despite the softness of pregnancy, and she gave Kara a frosty look as she kept her hands to herself. “I’m not angry that you want to keep us safe, I’m angry that you lied. You did this all wrong. All completely wrong. And your excuse that you lied so I wouldn’t worry is complete bollocks; you were just afraid that I’d be angry with you. Well congratulations, Kara, now I’m worried and angry.”

 

            “You don’t believe me anyway! You’re saying I’m paranoid!”

 

            “I believe that based on your past, and with your body playing tricks on your mind, you believe that we’re in danger, but I don’t believe that there’s an imminent threat, no,” Lena curtly replied, “and I don’t think Daxam is trying to steal your throne. Come on, Kara, seriously? And Maggie, fucking Maggie , your ex-bodyguard, is the best person to investigate this for you? Not Homeland Security, not the fucking army, but your sister’s ex? That’s what makes this all so … so stupid .”

 

            Making a sound of indignation at the back of her throat, Kara crossed her arms over her chest and pressed her lips into a thin line as she tried not to pout at Lena’s chastising. “She used to be a member of the armed forces, and now she’s a private investigator. I trust her more than anyone else. I trust her more than anyone I don’t personally know. How many of our people do you think the Daxamite government has in their pocket? I’ve got a dozen of my own people in their government, and you can bet Mon-El has the same. If I asked intelligence officers to investigate, they would find out, and then what? If I’m right then they could move their plans forward and hurt us. If I’m wrong, they’ll be offended, and they might try and start a war for the sake of it, because this is Daxam we’re talking about. So yes, Maggie was a safe bet. It’s cruel to say it, but she was also disposable, and she’d take all the blame. I’d pardon her, obviously, but I wouldn’t have to implicate myself . Alex knows this, she’s just being … difficult.”

 

            “Alex is jealous,” Lena tersely replied. “She’s just mad that you get to dictate everyone else’s lives, and then you can do whatever you like. You get to warn her off Sam, because we don’t want any tension between the four of us if it ends up going south, yet you get to drag Maggie back into the fold, as if she’s not going to be pissed about it. She’s jealous because you get to see Maggie and not feel upset, and she still loves her and wishes that she could see her and not have to feel all of those things. Just like I’m jealous of everyone who gets to be around you and not be mad. But I am mad at you. I’m your wife , and you made this decision on your own, and worst of all, you said you’d do it all over again. So until you realise that I didn’t marry the queen , and I’m not going to be some docile wife that you can make plans for, instead of with, no, I won’t come home.”

 

            “What, so you’re just going to leave again?” Kara spluttered.

 

            “I have my own house, Kara,” Lena stiffly replied, “I have everything I need there.”

 

            “What about Aoife? You’re taking our dog too?”

 

            “She was my birthday gift.”

 

            Huffing in frustration, Kara ground her teeth together as she tried to blink back tears. “How can you expect me to make it up to you if you won’t even give me the chance?”

 

            Arching an eyebrow slightly, Lena gave her a hard look. “Find me some proof. Just one shred of concrete evidence to validate your reasons, and I’ll forgive you. Until then, there’s nothing to even suggest that we’re in any trouble.”

 

            “And the bank account in Daxam?” Kara asked, desperately clutching at anything to try and make Lena second-guess her decision to stay away from the palace. From her.

 

            Scoffing, Lena rolled her eyes. “If I was going to plan an attack on someone from another country, I wouldn’t fund the money into a bank account in my own country. Even if you are right, you’re wrong about this. Or Maggie is, anyway. Perhaps we’ll find out at the church.” Her words were slightly mocking and Kara fought back the colour that flooded her cheeks. “With our track record, it’d be just our luck. Shall we?”

 

            Stamping down her irritation, Kara walked over to the doors and pulled them open, stepping out into the hallway with Lena in tow. They walked side by side down the hallway, a few inches separating them until they reached the grand staircase, and then Lena looped her arm through Kara’s, holding onto her arm tightly. The only staff around were the security detail, and there was a rather large number of them milling about, while the rest of Kara’s family waited in the foyer. No one commented on the couple as they swept towards the doors, which were opened at a word off Lyra to the guard at the door. Stepping out into the weak, wintery light, Kara plastered a smile onto her face as she walked towards the first step with Lena on her arm. Turning to look at her, she found Lena smiling back at her, all traces of their bickering and anger gone, although there was a nervous look of fear in Lena’s eyes. Camera flashes blinded them as they walked down the steps, looking every inch the happy couple with their protruding stomachs, and Kara couldn’t stop her hand from fleetingly touching her stomach, reminding herself that in less than half a year, there would be the four of them. Given her current predicament, she couldn’t help but worry. This wasn’t how she wanted to start a family, and she had to find a way to fix it quickly.

 

            Escorted to their car, Kara slid inside first, followed by Lena, and they fell into tense silence as the car pulled away from the front steps. Reporters had flocked towards the palace at the mere hint of a rumour of Kara being pregnant, on top of the usual crowd their Christmas tradition drew, and camera flashes were dazzlingly bright as they slunk down in their seats, trying to ignore the paparazzi behind their blacked out windows. Tentatively clearing her throat, Kara braved a few questions about how Lena was, getting curt answers in reply, and a few begrudging questions in return, although there was an anxious look in Lena’s eyes whenever they briefly made eye contact which let Kara know that Lena was just as worried about her as she was about Lena. Of course, they both knew that if anything had happened, they would’ve told the other. They weren’t that childish. Still, it hurt to have to ask if Lena had been sleeping okay, or if she’d been having strong cravings, because she should’ve been at the palace for Kara to already know that answers. Instead, they were both waking up in different beds, one side cold and empty, in different cities a country apart.

 

            They didn’t have much time to make conversation on their way to the hulking cathedral in a straight line from the palace gates, and soon enough they were coming to a stop outside. Citizens dressed up in Christmas gear, hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple, were waiting behind railings, calling out their names before they’d even exited the car. There were even more shouts when they stepped out, their open coats not quite hiding their stomachs, and from behind the barrier separating the media from them, a dozen questions spilled from eager lips. Lena slipped her hand into Kara’s, and recognising it as a nervous gesture, Kara gave it a slight squeeze in return. While the rest of their entourage pulled up behind them, they took a few moments to sign autographs and shake hands, easy smiles on their lips and casual touches to each other’s backs and hands, making sure they were okay. It felt normal, and while Kara was on edge about how exposed they were, itching to disappear into the safety of the old stone building, it eased her mind to have Lena beside her.

 

            Soon enough, they were disappearing through towering wooden doors and into the cool interior of the building. The cold seemed to seep from the worn stone, the high, vaulted ceiling high above them as they walked down the centre aisle, taking their seats in the narrow pews. Lena always hated the required trips to the church, and sitting on the uncomfortable bench, she shifted uncomfortably throughout the whole service. Kara was still and stoic throughout the whole thing, fighting the urge to excuse herself for the bathroom as she numbly followed along with the hymns, fighting back the urge to let her eyelids flutter closed as the Archbishop spoke, and after she’d excused some wine and accepted a wafer and a blessing, they were freed from the dusty interior and into a smaller antechamber. Briefly engaging in a polite exchange with a few members of the church, they were escorted back outside to meet their family, posed for a few pictures with the clergymen, and then made the return trip back to the palace.

 

            Stepping back through the front doors, their whole party seemed to sag with relief. It had gone off without a hitch, and Kara’s hands trembled slightly as she strode off through the palace, leaving everyone to slip off their coats as she made for an empty room. Throwing off her own coat, feeling hot and stuffy in her tight dress, she sank down into an armchair with relief, knowing that she still had to give her annual speech in an hour’s time. For now, she had a moment to herself though, free to try and calm herself down. Everything had gone according to plan, and no one had been injured, and she told herself that perhaps she was worried over nothing, because this would’ve been the perfect time to plan an attack if it was going to happen. It was one of the few guaranteed public events that she would attend every year, but there hadn’t been so much as an angry shout off a protestor.

 

            The sound of the door opening a few minutes later broke Kara out of her thoughts, and she looked up to watch Lena poke her head inside, her hesitant look changing to one of relief at the sight of Kara lounging in the armchair. Stepping inside, she shut the door behind herself and let out a heavy sigh, walking over to the sofa adjacent to the armchair and dropping down onto it. One heel dangled off her foot and her hair splayed messily over a cushion, and she rested a hand on top of her stomach as she laid in silence for a few moments. Kara quietly watched her, drinking in the sight of her, her fingers itching to sketch the scene before her, while she waited for Lena to say something. She wouldn’t have sought her out unless she had something to say.

 

            Eventually it came, and Lena pushed herself up slightly, her dress bunching around her waist as she propped herself up on her elbows and gave Kara a hard look. “You know, I’d forgotten how good we are at pretending.”

 

            Flinching slightly, Kara frowned at Lena, a reproachful look on her face as she gripped the arms of the wingback chair until her knuckles turned white. “I wish we didn’t have to pretend.”

 

            “So do I,” Lena said with a rueful smile, one eyebrow arched sardonically, “it reminds me of the good old days though. Perhaps it was stupid of me to think that we’d put all that behind us.”

 

            “In case you’ve forgotten, you lied to me too back then. About that group, and about your feelings. I never held that against you though,” Kara stiffly replied.

 

            “Yes, we all know that you’re the bigger person.”

 

            Letting out a huff of frustration, Kara climbed to her feet and walked over to Lena, bending down to lift her outstretched legs and sit down, placing her legs in her lap and giving her a pleading look. “Please don’t make this more difficult than it has to be. If not for my sake, then for the babies.” She reached out and placed a hand on Lena’s stomach, half expecting her to bat her hand aside, but she didn’t. Fingers splayed over the fabric of the dress, Kara felt a lump form in her throat. “All of this stress isn’t good for either of them. Or us. What if something happened? I’d never forgive myself.”

 

            “Let’s be honest, if something was going to go wrong with either of us, it would be with you. It was already hard enough for you to get pregnant. I asked you more than once to slow down, to stop working so hard over stupid things that other people could do for you, but you insisted on locking yourself in that office all day anyway. I don’t have anything to stress about. It’s you I’m worried about. Kara, you look bloody awful, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. When was the last time you slept properly?”

 

            Hot tears welled up in her eyes, and she let out a choked sound as she tipped her head back, trying to blink them back before they could slide down her cheeks. “I don’t know. I don’t- I can’t sleep without you. It feels wrong . All of this is just … it’s not us, Lena. I miss you, every second, and I worry about you. I just want you to come home. I don’t want to have to go through all of this alone.”

 

            Having the gall to look ashamed, Lena ducked her head, her forehead puckering with the grave look on her face, and she pushed herself further up, staring at Kara’s stomach with sad green eyes. “You won't have to. I'll be here, I promise, I just- give me a little more time. We’re both so irritable all the time and I know that I- if I come back now, I’ll just- I’ll get mad at something else, and it’ll get worse. I don’t want to be mad, and I need space to ride this out- to think about what I want.”

 

            “What’s there to think about?” Kara asked, her voice sharper than she intended as she gave Lena an accusing look. “What, do you not want this? Do you not want a family?”

 

            “Don’t be ridiculous,” Lena hotly replied, a look of anger flitting across her face. “You know I’d never agree to something I didn’t want to do.” At the sound Kara made, she gave her an exasperated look, before amending herself. “If I had a choice . I love you, Kara, and that’s not just a silly feeling that I can’t control, it’s a choice . I choose to love you, and I choose to make it work with you, and I make that choice every day. That doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to feel other things, or dismiss everything else that goes on in our lives. It’s about fixing things, and talking - God, all of this bloody mess could’ve been avoided if you’d just told me - and so I’m telling you that I need space if we want to fix this. Let me do it in my own way. Don’t push me just because you’re angry with yourself and you want to forget that this all happened.”

 

            “So you’re just going to go again?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            Knowing that it would be futile to try and change Lena’s mind once it was made up, Kara abruptly climbed to her, smoothing her hands over her dress and trying to swallow her pride so she wouldn’t have to admit that it was wounded. Still, there was a stinging feeling of rejection, and she tried her best to hide it, but Lena saw right through it as she carefully climbed to her feet with a stern look on her face.

 

            “Where are you going?”

 

            Setting her jaw, Kara gave her a hard look. “I have to go and give a speech and let my aunt announce that we’re both expecting. Congratulations to the happy family, I guess. You can see yourself out.”

Chapter Text

            Lena stayed until the day after Boxing Day, sleeping in the quarters directly across from Kara’s room, which rankled Kara’s pride at the obvious snub. Although, seeing as she wasn’t sleeping very well, if at all, she supposed that perhaps Lena had other reasons for sleeping in her own bed, because when she did manage to sleep, Kara was restless and fitful, and Lena was a known light sleeper. She didn’t press the matter, and was just grateful to have her wife back in the same palace, feeling some of her worries dissipate. They were even perfectly civil, eating meals together while they planned for their first interview after the news of their pregnancies had gone public, discussed which date they should have their next scans on, and even exchanged their Christmas gifts that they’d bought before their argument had broken out.

 

            And then Lena left again, and Christmas passed by, and the happy bubble Kara had been living in vanished with it. Her annual speech had gone off without a hitch, and there hadn’t been the slightest whisper about anyone causing any troubles or concerns for their safety, which made Lena’s parting even more bittersweet for Kara. It was almost unbearable to walk her to the front door and let her leave, but she was back less than a week later for a New Year’s Eve party, where they hosted their friends and other acquaintances, putting up the facade that they were the perfect happy couple, and went for joint ultrasounds the next day, to find both babies perfectly healthy.

 

            The only improvement in her circumstances was with Alex, who had taken up her near daily visits again, sweeping away Kara’s loneliness as if she’d never even left. Things had been a bit awkward at first, the weight of their argument weighing heavily on them, but it quickly dissipated, and they fell back into their easy sisterly relationship, drinking tea and chatting as the cold, wintery weather raged on outside the warm confines of the palace. It was early in the new year and they were doing exactly that, while Kara complained about how things were with Lena, feeling sorry for herself. She’d just come out of an irritating meeting with Astra, where her aunt had pried and prompted, until Kara had been honest about why Lena was spending so much time in Thorul. Contrary to the excuse Kara had been using, that Lena was sick and on bedrest away from the stress of the palace, it wasn’t for that reason, and she had been embarrassed to tell her aunt, and even more irritable when Astra had lectured her about fixing things for the sake of appearances.

 

            “Think about it, just for a second,” Alex cut her off mid-rant about how she couldn’t fix things if Lena wasn’t willing to let her, and if she could easily fix things, like Astra seemed to think so, then she already would’ve. Her frustration was growing with every second of her rant. “Think about it from her point of view.”

 

            “I have! I thought about her the entire time I made my decision.”

 

            Alex scoffed, giving Kara a stern look. “Did you? Did you really? Did you think about how this is a woman who, until meeting you, had forsworn any kind of love? Was the godmother of her friend’s child, but refused to even call her a friend because she was afraid of losing her, and having walls was a much better idea? Who has been manipulated by her family for her entire life, and never wanted to be a princess, because all it meant was having to act for the entire world and live in a pretty cage while she had to lie about how perfect everything was. Every still thinks that she gets along great with her mother and her brother, that’s how tightly they wove their web of lies. And she’s always hated having to lie, having to listen to other people make decisions for her, and be told how she was feeling and then have to pretend that it was true. She was sold into a contract with you when she was a child. She wasn’t raised like you .”

 

            Spluttering, Kara opened her mouth to defend herself, but Alex held up a finger to stop her. “No, just wait a second. Just think about all of that. Everything you know about her. Now think about how it’s felt for her to have fallen in love, not only getting married, but wanting to have a family with you. To be stuck as a princess, forever standing by your side and agreeing to go to all of the important events with you, because she loves you. She’d do things she never wanted to do, because she loves you and she’d rather do them than not be with you. Only for you to fill the palace with guards like it’s fucking Alcatraz, so she can’t even step foot outside without a dozen people crowding around her, filling her head with thoughts of people trying to kill you. Spending all of your time signing documents and planning parties, so it feels like you’re never around, and she has to sit around and wait until you’re free, or book a fucking appointment to see her own wife. Then to have you keep the truth from her, and dig into her family, as if she doesn’t deserve to know that her own mother might have wished her dead. Just think about all of that, and tell me is she wrong to be upset? She’s given up a lot for you, Kara, and she did that willingly, without hesitation, because she knew that you would never give it all up because you made a promise to do your duty and be a public figurehead. The least she expected was a bit of trust.”

 

            Gritting her teeth, Kara clenched her hands into fists, almost unwilling to let the words fall from her mouth as she scowled at Alex. “I understand why she’s upset, but come on, Alex, she’s being childish. She can’t just run away to Thorul and magically hope things get better.”

 

            “Kara, you’re a billionaire . Between the two of you, you own like twenty palaces, fourteen houses in five countries, have three luxury yachts and a private jet. Every single one of your needs is catered to by a team of staff, and you’ve got so many guards watching your every move that I’m surprised you can go to the bathroom without one of them accompanying you. What’s here that she doesn’t have in Thorul?”

 

            “Me! I’m here! Her pregnant wife.”

 

            With a triumphant look on her face, Alex gave her a pointed look, her voice patient and borderline condescending as she spoke. “Exactly! Which is why she’s better off a country away at the moment. You’re both pregnant. You’re both hormonal. You haven’t stopped bickering and arguing for months - it’s not like this is all over one fight, it’s all the little things building up - and you’re not around anyway, so she’d be just as lonely here as she is holed up in her own estate. The only difference is that there’s less stress on the babies because you two aren’t arguing every two seconds whenever you have a free moment to actually spend time together not doing some charity event or something.”

 

            Shoulders slumping in defeat, Kara gave her sister a wounded look, feeling the crushing guilt hit her as Alex pointed out all of her failures as a wife. “So I’m just supposed to be okay with it?”

 

            “No! Of course not. Find a way to make her come home! Just because you two are in a position where you can be separated and be fine, it doesn’t mean you should accept it. Get off your ass and go and grovel on your knees. Buy her another boat or a fucking dog or make one of your sappy paintings and go and get her.”

 

            Shaking her head, Kara grimaced, “no, she’s really mad this time, Alex.”

 

            “Yeah, no shit. And when I get a minute alone with her, I’ll make her see it from your point of view. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll drag you both into the same room and knock your heads together and see if you manage to transfer some common sense into each other. Stupid stubborn royals, I’ll tell you.”

 

            “Excuse me,” Kara bristled slightly, “up until two weeks ago, you were being just as stubborn. What changed?”

 

            “Mom scolded me, and Sam told me that she wouldn’t be second best to someone who wasn’t even here anymore, so there was that.”

 

            Blinking in surprise, Kara raised her pale eyebrows slightly. “So you and Sam are actually …”

 

            “Yes,” Alex curtly replied, “and I’ll thank you to not interfere in my relationship. I know that I was rash with my anger, and I let my temper blind me to the bigger picture, and the thing is … I still love Maggie, and perhaps a part of me always will, because she was the first person I ever truly loved. But I know that I’ve burned that bridge, and there’s no point going back to fan the flames over something that can’t be fixed. Truth be told, if she was in this room right now, I wouldn’t be angry. I think I’d wish her well and know that I’m happy with my life as it is now.”

 

            “Oh, well that’s very … big of you,” Kara murmured.

 

            Rolling her eyes, Alex climbed to her feet, walking over to Kara and kissing her on the top of her head, “besides, letting a woman come between us was stupid. We’re sisters. It doesn’t matter if there’s a crown on your head sometimes, and I’m sorry for acting like you asked for all of this to happen to you. I love you, Kara, you’re my best friend.”

 

            She grabbed hold of her sister’s hand and gave it a quick squeeze, smiling softly up at her. “For what it’s worth, if it had to happen, I’m glad I got a sister out of it.”

 

            “Yeah, me too. Now get your shit together and fix this. Stop moping around - you’re a queen.”

 

            Sighing, Kara rubbed a hand over her weary face, her mind burdened with everything that Alex had so clearly pointed out. The truth was that Kara didn’t want to look at it that way, because it would just make her feel worse about excluding Lena from her plans - which wasn’t to say that Lena wasn’t equally as culpable in this, and stubbornly refusing to see things from Kara’s point of view too - but it was no good pretending that her reasons were good enough to invalidate Lena’s feelings about it. Feeling sufficiently chastised for the time being, she bid her sister goodbye and was left alone to her thoughts.

 

---

 

            It was a few days later when Lena appeared at the palace again, ready for an interview with Leslie Willis to publicly talk about their pregnancies for the first time. They were already setting up the camera equipment in one of the rooms in the palace, and Kara had just finished getting her hair and makeup done, and with Lyra’s help, had squeezed into a white dress that showed off her bump well enough for the cameras to catch. She rose to her feet at Lena’s arrival, a small smile on her lips as she took in the sight of her.

 

            “Hi.”

 

            Looking antsy, yet as beautiful as ever, Lena gave her a grim look, nervously fiddling with her hands. “Hi.”

 

            “You’re not wearing your rings.”

 

            Her voice sounded hollow to her own ears, and Kara’s stomach dropped as she looked at the empty left hand of her wife, where Lena was fiddling with nothing. An emptiness filled her, and Kara felt the blood drain from her face.

 

            “My fingers started to swell,” Lena grimaced, “the rings were cutting in. Don’t worry, they’ll be back on for the interview.”

 

            “Lucy said you- you met with Alana,” Kara said, a question in her voice and a look of fear in her eyes as she nervously wrung her hands. “Why- is there a-a reason why you’re meeting with your lawyer?”

 

            Lena paused for a moment and fixed her with a confused look, before realisation dawned on her face and she closed her eyes, letting out a huff of frustration. “I’m not divorcing you, you bloody drip!”

 

            Feeling almost weak with relief, Kara let out a pent up breath, “you’re not?”

 

            “I love you, you silly mare,” Lena groaned, “do you really think I’m that dramatic that I’d file for divorce over something like this?”

 

            “I mean … that’s why we broke the contract, and you’ve moved out so ...”

 

            “We broke the contract so if we, I don’t know, didn’t love each other anymore, or- or you cheated on me, those kinds of things- not a pissing argument! Bloody hell, if people got divorced over one fight, no one would be married.”

 

            Giving her a sheepish look, Kara shrugged slightly, “it’s not just the one fight though, is it? You’re not happy.”

 

            A peeved look crossed Lena’s face, the muscles in her jaw working as she grit her teeth. “No, I’m not happy, about a lot of things, not just us . But I was meeting with Alana to go over my will. I know we both had to sign prenups, even though if anything happened to me you’d get everything anyway, but I was going over everything to set up trust funds with some of my inheritance and to write in a clause about my heirs. I assumed you’d be having Lucy do the same for you.”

 

            “Oh … right, of course. I assumed we’d do that together.”

 

            “Of course we are. That’s why Alana called Lucy, so they could arrange a meeting for us all to be there.”

 

            “Oh, okay, that makes sense.”

 

            “Anything else?”

 

            Kara paused for a moment, taking in Lena’s pale skin - paler than usual - and the fitted black dress, pursing her lips for a moment. “I don’t think a black dress is exactly uplifting for an interview about how we’re starting a family. You look like you’re attending a funeral.”

 

            “I’m not wearing a bloody pink dress and pretending like everything’s all rosy and fine,” Lena tightly replied, “the dress stays.”

 

            Holding her hands up defensively, Kara shrugged, “fine.” Glancing down at her watch, she looked up at Lena and gave her a determined look. “They’ll be wanting to get started soon. Shall I call for tea in the meantime?”

 

            While they waited to be summoned for the interview, they chatted over tea in the living room, debating over whether they should make the same birth plan or different ones for themselves, but they didn’t get very far into the finer details of the conversation, before Jess knocked on the door and curtsied upon entering, coming to fetch them.

 

            Making their way downstairs, they politely greeted Leslie and made small talk with her as they allowed mics to be clipped to the collars of their dresses and the lighting and sound was checked. With a few swipes of makeup to perfect their looks beneath the new lighting, and their positions on the sofa arranged, they were all set to go. A copy of the questions had already been sent ahead beforehand, so that they could be coached on their answers, and while they didn’t have a script to stick too, knowing that it would sound far too formal and rehearsed, they answered the questions with the casual, practiced ease of people who knew which direction the conversation was going to take. It flowed perfectly, and their relaxed demeanour wasn’t entirely fake as they answered question after question.

 

            “When did you know that you wanted to start a family?” Leslie asked.

 

            Kara looked at Lena and let out a quick laugh, flashing a bright smile at her before looking back at the woman sitting across from them. “I think from the very beginning I knew that she was the one I wanted to be the mother of my children. There was just an instant connection, and we’ve always complemented each other so well, and it was like I could see my whole life planned out with her, so I’m beyond thrilled that my dreams have come true.”

 

            “So was it love at first sight then?”

 

            A smile curling her lips, Lena bit her lip slightly, tilting her head to the side as she looked at Kara. There was an unreadable expression in her eyes, although her face was a polite mask. “That sounds very cliche, but no, it was something more than that.”

 

            “It was … like I had found someone who understood , and that’s a very rare thing,” Kara said, “and she was so different to me that it was like a breath of fresh air. Yes, I think that’s a good way to describe it. She’s always been very wild and carefree, and more progressive than traditional, and a lot of the strength of our relationship was formed during a very dark period of my life, and I know for me, it was during that time that I realised how precious what we had was. There were so many changes in my life, and Lena was always right there beside me, holding me up and supporting me. And she’s done exactly the same throughout this very long process of starting a family, and I know she’ll be right there beside me while we try and navigate parenthood.”

 

            The words were like ashes in her mouth, the panic that it wouldn’t be true making Kara’s stomach twist with fear, but she kept the delicate smile on her face, a look of blissful happiness and content making her seem every bit in love as her words made her sound. One hand on Lena’s knee, she turned to find her wife gazing up at her with a soft look in her eyes, and Kara gave her a knee a quick squeeze.

 

            “I have to say, it’s an unusual circumstance,” Leslie said, her voice full of amusement as she looked at them both, “how did you come to the decision to both carry at the same time?”

 

            “By complete accident,” Lena dryly replied.

 

            “We knew that we wanted to have more than one,” Kara hedged, scrambling for the scripted answers they’d rehearsed beforehand, “and we both spoke about whether carrying was something we were both interested in doing. It’s a daunting process to go through, so we decided to do it together, and here we are. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but people have twins all the time, and I have the best partner to tackle motherhood with. I feel so lucky.”

 

            “So very lucky,” Lena agreed, “I couldn’t do it without her.”

 

            There were a few more questions, and they graciously answered them with small amounts of humour, before wrapping the whole thing up. Taking a few minutes to thank Leslie and make their goodbyes, as gracious and refined as they were expected to be, they were freed from the interview room and allowed to go and relax after the taxing affair. Interviews were always nerve wracking for both of them, for different reasons, and the relief was visible as they both dragged their feet, making their way upstairs.

 

            They both went up to their suite after the interview, where tea had already been set out for them, and Kara sagged with relief as she kicked her heels off, her feet aching after wearing them for so long. “Thank God that’s over,” she grumbled.

 

            Lena speared a strawberry on a fork from the platter of fruit waiting for them and took a bite as she poured tea with her other hand. “Don’t forget the Vanity Fair interview and photoshoot in two weeks. We’ll have to do it all over again.”

 

            Letting out a heavy sigh, Kara pressed one hand against her lower back, wincing slightly at the tenderness of it, and Lena glanced over at her as she stirred some honey into their tea. It was peppermint tea, and the smell was comforting in the coziness of the rooms, with the sleet and blanket of snow outside the windows.

 

            “Don’t remind me,” Kara grumbled, “I didn’t realise how much we’d have to do for the sake of a baby. I wish it was still our secret. It’s only been two weeks and the world’s already stolen them from us.”

 

            “Are you okay?” Lena asked, abandoning the tea as she briskly walked over to Kara, “sore back? I’ll get Jess to get a masseuse, and maybe a chiropractor.”

 

            Kara gave her a wary look as Lena reached out and turned her slightly, her hands warm as she steadied her with one hand and brushed Kara’s hand out of the way with her other, gently massaging the aches from carrying the weight of the baby around with her. It was the closest they’d been to each other in weeks, and Kara so desperately wanted to wrap her arms around her wife and hold her close, to feel the way she perfectly fit into her arms, and breathe in the familiar smell of her perfume. It hurt more than it should’ve to be parted from her, but Kara knew it wasn’t the physical distance that was the real problem, it was the distance between the two of them when they were standing right beside each other that made it feel like an ocean was separating them.

 

            “You did very well today,” Lena quietly complimented her.

 

            Nodding as she let her wife tenderly rub the sore spots, letting herself sink into the gentle touch, Kara turned her head slightly to look at Lena. “Thank you for coming.”

 

            “Of course,” she murmured. She fell silent again, opening and closing her mouth once, as if she was about to say something, but she didn’t.

 

            “What is it?” Kara prompted her.

 

            Looking up and finally meeting her gaze, Lena let out a gentle sigh, a needy look in her sad green eyes as her hands stopped working and she carefully held Kara by her waist. “Did- did you mean what you said today? All of those things about me, and us. I mean, not the snide remarks about the contract, but ...”

 

            Giving her a tender look, Kara gave her a tiny smile, “of course I did. Of course I feel that way about you. We’ve always been so strong together, and this is just- this is a rough patch, but I trust that we won’t let ourselves fall. I love you so much that I just want to protect you, and I know you don’t want to hear it, and that you’re not made of glass or whatever, but I can’t bear to live without you. I have always been strong, and I’ve lost so many people, but to lose you … I would break. It was like a breath of fresh air to meet you, and falling in love was even easier than breathing, and I know this life is suffocating sometimes, but never when I’m with you.”

 

            “You should learn to put your feet up more often,” Lena quietly reminded her, and Kara rolled her eyes. “I’m serious, Kara. Sooner or later, you’ll have to stop working. My mother hung up her queenly duties the moment she got pregnant with my brother - not that that stopped her scheming and plotting, but still, she did that with her feet up. Are your feet starting to swell yet?”

 

            “Mhm. Do I not look all bloated? I feel like it. You don’t though. Do you have any symptoms? Has your skin started itching yet?”

 

            Shaking her head, Lena smiled slightly, “not yet. That sounds awful though.”

 

            “Well make sure you rub lotion onto it when it starts. It helps. And how’s your appetite? Are you eating enough? You don’t look like you’ve gained much weight.”

 

            “Much?”

 

            Letting out a snort of laughter, Kara arched an eyebrow at Lena. “You have a baby growing inside you, you can’t expect everything to stay the same.”

 

            “My appetite is just fine, thank you for asking.”

 

            “How’re the bacon cravings?”

 

            “Bloody awful.”

 

            She felt some of the tension fade as Lena’s warm hands gently kneaded her back, and it was almost like things were normal. Her chest felt lighter, and Kara let out a quiet sigh. “I wish I didn’t have to ask. I wish I knew if you were snoring in your sleep, and whether you’ve got insomnia or not.”

 

            “I’ve never snored a day in my life, thank you very much,” Lena indignantly replied, a smile curling the corners of her lips as she gave Kara a reproachful look. “And I’m not sure if the insomnia is from the pregnancy or … well, I have that, at any rate. And dreams. They’re very … vivid.”

 

            “Tell me about it,” Kara bitterly muttered.

 

            An uncertain look passed Lena’s face and she frowned slightly, a crease forming between her eyebrows as they drew together, and one hand moved from Kara’s waist to gently cup the large bump. “You know, I-I can’t remember the last time that I kissed you.”

 

            “Before I left for Thorul,” Kara murmured, a look of embarrassment on her face as her cheeks turned pink, “I think about it a lot. I should’ve given you a better kiss before I left.”

 

            “I know you kissed me then,” Lena softly said, “but properly. I can’t remember the last time I kissed you properly. Was it that morning? The night before? I miss you. I miss your touch and I miss touching you .”

 

            Her hand slowly travelled upwards, and Kara could feel her heart racing and a hot flush sweep through her body as she took in the hungry look in Lena’s eyes. Their lips came together at the same time, hot and needy, and Kara pulled her wife as close as she could with their baby bumps in the way, a hand knotting in Lena’s hair as she pushed back against her. Lena still had her heels on, making them roughly the same height, but as Kara pushed against her, she clumsily kicked them off, pulling her wife with her. Without breaking apart, the stumbled towards the bedroom, and as soon as they were through the double doors, Lena pushed Kara up against them, the soft click of the door shutting.

 

            Breaking off the kiss, both of them breathing hard, their chests heaving, Lena gave her a hard look, her cheeks flushed and a spark of longing in her eyes. Kara didn’t dare to move as she tried to catch her breath, Lena’s warm breath fanning her neck and the urge to kiss her again nearly overwhelming her. She’d resigned herself to the fact that she would have to be patient and not push her, no matter how demanding the clingy side of her was to beg Lena to come back, and Kara was still as she let Lena make her own decision.

 

            “Don’t move,” Lena murmured, leaning in closer and closer, pressing a gentle kiss to Kara’s cheek.

 

            Her lips were soft and warm, kissing their way down to Kara’s jaw, following the curve and then trailing down her neck. She let out a small gasp as Lena bit her, turning her head with the intention of capturing Lena’s mouth with her own, but Lena’s hands had circled her biceps, pressing her back against the wood, and Kara let out a shaky laugh when she realised she couldn’t move, letting her head fall to one side as Lena pushed aside the shoulder of her dress and kissed her collarbone. As things got heated, losing themselves in the feeling of touching each other for the first time in weeks, dresses were practically torn off and they made it to the bed, while Lena’s cup of tea was long forgotten as if cooled out in the living room.

 

            Afterwards, long after they’d exhausted themselves, they lay side by side, their skin flushed and hot to touch, breathing unevenly as they silently basked in the feeling of the other’s presence. When Lena pressed a hand to her stomach, murmuring that the baby was moving, Kara shifted and pressed a hand to the pale expanse of skin, smiling as she felt the fluttering kicks and peppering Lena’s stomach with kisses. She almost forgot that she was going to leave again. It was almost worse than before, knowing that things could’ve been fine, could’ve been better than fine if the past couple of hours were anything to go by, and she felt her heart sink when Lena finally moved. The perfect moment was shattered as she swung her legs over the side of the bed, stretching like a cat as her messy hair spilled down her back.

 

            “You ripped my dress,” Lena sighed, holding up the black garment with the torn buttons on the back.

 

            Scooting closer to her, Kara brushed her dark hair aside and kissed her on the shoulder, smiling against her warm skin, “I’ll buy you a new one. Maybe a pink one, for when everything’s all rosy and fine again. And I guess it’s a good thing you have a closet full of clothes here anyway.”

 

            Lena shivered as Kara gently ran a hand over her ribs, before moving around to the front to press it against her stomach. The baby was still inside, but Kara could feel the tautness of Lena’s abdomen, and she felt a rush of love and a strong urge to protect her. They only had three months left to fix things. To get back to where they had been, and prepare themselves for motherhood, and it felt like there was so much that needed to be done. Kara was suddenly afraid that their babies would be born into a family that wasn’t ready. There was still so much that had to be done. They still hadn’t decorated the nursery - Kara had texted Lena colour samples for paint, which sparked a debate about whether pearl or ivory was a better shade of white - and they hadn’t even thought about a baby shower.

 

            Pulling Lena back down onto the bed, Kara trailed her fingertips along the underside of Lena’s jaw and kissed her sweetly, pouring all of her love into it in the hopes that Lena would feel it. But of course, it wasn’t for lack of love that Lena left, and it seemed like she understood why Kara had done it, which begged the question why she was going to leave again. There was the nagging feeling that there was something else. Something that Kara couldn’t quite figure out. More than one unsavoury thought had crossed her mind when she was in one of her black moods, but she knew that Lena would never intentionally hurt her as some sort of petty revenge, and she knew that whatever it was that she was missing, there would be a good reason for it. Or Kara wouldn’t be able to be mad about it at least.

 

            “I have to go,” Lena whispered, brushing Kara’s hair out of her face and cupping her cheek.

 

            “Won’t you at least stay for dinner?”

 

            With a soft smile, Lena leant in and stole a quick kiss. “I’ll be back soon.”

Chapter Text

            Leaving the palace with a lighter heart, Lena was driven straight to the private airstrip where their jet was waiting for them. Every piece of her wanted to go back to Kara, to cuddle up in her arms and let everything return to normal, but she had to go back to Thorul. She had more than one reason to leave, and she wasn’t quite ready to swallow her pride just yet. The flight felt longer than it was as she lightly dozed in her seat, a glass of mineral water on the table and a book open to the page she was on, the spine cracked as it lay face down and abandoned. She hadn’t been sleeping well, and not just because her heart ached for her wife, or because she was pregnant. There was an undercurrent of uneasiness that had made her antsy and on edge, and she blamed Kara for putting the nagging thoughts into her mind. Even her dreams had taken a darker turn. Still, it was all about to come to fruition.

 

            As soon as she landed in Thorul, a waiting car drove her straight to her family’s palace, Mercer City flashing past as she grew tenser with each passing second. Lena had a difficult relationship with her home city, having spent only her school holidays at the palace, and then a few years after college in her own estate on the outskirts of the city, and it didn’t really give her a feeling of home . That was reserved for Ireland, and wherever Kara was. Her estate was a safe haven in Thorul though, and she was grateful to have somewhere to stay, aside from the palace, when she had to come home, but it didn’t make the trips to the palace any easier, knowing that she could leave whenever she wanted to. It was a necessary unpleasantry though, and she resigned herself to a brief moment of suffering through her mother’s prickly personality in order to get what she’d come for.

 

            Stepping out of the car as it stopped outside the side entrance to the palace, she mounted the steps and walked in through the open doors. While Sunstone Palace oozed warmth and comfort, with its golden coziness and snug corners of comfort with roaring fireplaces and deep armchairs, the palace in Thorul had always made Lena feel unwelcome. Walking down the marble hallway, taking in the deep greens and purples of the country’s colours, she had the same feeling that she’d always gotten there, and she felt like a child again. It wasn’t that the place wasn’t as lavish and rich as her home in Argo City - if anything, it was even more obscenely ostentatious - it was just the feeling that she’d never had a loving family here, had been sent away at every opportunity, and would find no love from her mother here. Still, she let a butler escort her straight to her mother’s office.

 

            Her arrival was announced, and Lena stepped into the office with a haughty look on her face, her shoulders thrown back and chin stubbornly raised. “Mom.”

 

            Lillian was sitting behind her desk, the setting sun filtering in through the window behind her, and she beckoned Lena closer, taking a pair of small glasses off and setting them down on the large desk. The room was mostly mahogany, the smell of wood and polish mingling with the floral smell coming from the vase of fresh cuttings on a small table off to one side. Lena slowly wandered closer, taking her time as she steeled herself for the incoming conversation.

 

            “You’re looking a bit peaky. You need more sunlight,” Lillian said, barely glancing at her daughter as she shuffled the papers in front of her. “You look like you haven’t been sleeping either. You should meet with a specialist. I had a good one when I was pregnant with Lex, he-”

 

            “I don’t need your medical advice,” Lena curtly interrupted her, lowering herself down onto the chair across from Lillian, one hand on her stomach as she settled herself down. Ordinarily, she would’ve stayed standing so that she could leave quicker, but her feet and back were hurting, and she was tired enough already. “Do you have what I came for?”

 

            Lillian pinned her to the seat with a hard stare, her disapproval radiating off her in waves, and she made a small sound of dissent at the back of her throat. “You would think that you could muster up even an ounce of courtesy, given the fact that I’m doing you a favour.”

 

            “It’s not a favour when I have to pay for it.”

 

            “I do something for you, and you do something for me in return. That’s how this works, Lena. It’s not a gift, and if you’re not willing to play nice, then you can keep searching on your own.”

 

            Letting out a huff of frustration, shifting uncomfortably in her seat as the baby started kicking, she ground her teeth together. She was doing this for the baby, both babies, and for Kara too, and there was no price too steep for her family. “I agreed to your terms, didn’t I?”

 

            Nodding, Lillian opened a drawer in her desk and pulled out a thin manila folder, holding it in an almost taunting manner as she smiled at her daughter. “Make sure you don’t double-cross me, Lena. I agreed to help because I want you to ensure your safety and not let this ruin your marriage, but you will give me what I want for this.”

 

            “Yes,” Lena tightly replied, “I promised didn’t I? It was you that instilled it in me to never break a promise.”

 

            “Good. So you’ll be here for Easter with the babies?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “And you’ll name one after me?”

 

            “Middle name.”

 

            “Yes, yes, you made that quite clear. And your brother will be the godfather of one of them?”

 

            “Yes,” she impatiently agreed, “now give me the name.”

 

            Handing the folder over, Lillian gave her an intense look, watching as Lena opened the folder and stared down at the name printed on the paper. There was a grainy black and white image printed on it too, with a description of the person. That was all there was, but it was all Lena needed to conduct the rest of her search, without her mother’s help. There was only so much that she was willing to agree to, until it was necessary to go any further. But there on the paper, she had a name, and that was worth a great deal.

 

            “Tor-An,” she murmured, staring at the image of the man. “A Daxamite name.”

 

            “Or Kryptonian,” Lillian added.

 

            Lena swallowed the lump that rose in her throat, shutting the folder and climbing to her feet. She paused for a moment, giving her mom a wary look. “Thank you.”

 

            “If you need anymore help, you know where to find me. Now, get back to your wife before people start asking too many questions about your absence.”

 

            Nodding, Lena turned and walked out of the room. She shoved the folder into her handbag, her mind racing as she tried to connect the dots. This was the end of the thread so far, and she hoped that this would unlock new information. All she needed was to find the answers that she needed, and then things could go back to normal. Still, she was already cracking, and caving in to her needs, because it was safer to keep Kara out of this, so that she wouldn’t have to worry about offending a strong martial country, but she didn’t want to be away from her anymore. She had been torn between putting her marriage or her wife’s safety first - in all manners of speaking - and she knew that it was eating away at Kara too, to be parted from her, and that had made her mind up for her. Wearily resigning herself to a night of little sleep, Lena exited the palace, not even stopping to see her brother, and was walking down the steps to the car parked in the massive courtyard, when it suddenly exploded.

 

            She wasn’t close enough for the blast to hurt her, but the ear splitting sound was deafening, and the next thing she knew, she was on the ground, with Hector crouched protectively over her while her ears rung and black spots danced across her vision. The choking, thick smell of smoke was nauseating, and black clouds billowed up from the burning wreckage of the car orange flames licking at the metal husk. Her mind was reeling as she was swarmed by guards in an instant, being helped to her feet and practically carried back up the steps and into the palace. The only thought she had was about her baby. Her whole body felt numb with shock, and she hadn’t even acknowledged the fact that she’d been tackled, before she was already on the cold, hard steps, and she felt panic well up inside at the thought of something happening to her baby. It wasn’t kicking, which wasn’t unusual, but it made her mouth go dry with fear as she shook all over, being settled down onto a sofa in the nearest sitting room with no windows.

 

            “My baby,” she gasped, clutching at the sleeve of the nearest guard.

 

            Hector was there, an attentive look on his face as he barked out orders. Already, the palace was going in to lockdown, and Lena was on the verge of tears, her chest heaving as she breathed heavily, the shock numbing her to almost everything that was going on.

 

            “G-get me a-a doctor,” she stammered, “where’s Jess? Get me my assistant.”

 

            “I’m right here, Your Highness,” Jess said, her way barred by half a dozen guards as she stared at Lena with wide eyes.

 

            “Th-the baby.”

 

            “The palace doctor is on her way. I’ve already sent for her, Princess. You should try your best not to move, Your Highness.”

 

            Her ears were still dimly ringing, and the room swayed as she cast her eyes about, feeling nauseous and dizzy, trembling all over with fear at what had just happened. Her breathing was loud to her own ears, blood pounding as her heart raced, and her tunnel visioned as the thought of her baby took hold in her mind. People had lost their babies for less than being tackled to the ground during an explosion, and she didn’t even know how to react to her situation as she lay on the sofa, the hum of conversation washing over her as her lips silently repeated the same words over and over again.

 

            “Lena.”

 

            The sharp sound of her mother’s voice was like a slap in the face, and she was dragged out of her shock as easily as if a bucket of cold water had been tossed in her face, and she sucked in a ragged breath as she stared up at the figure looming over her with wide eyes.

 

            “Mom,” she gasped, “mom, the baby.”

 

            “It’s alright,” Lillian dismissively told her, “the doctor’s here. They’re going to move you to the medical wing. You,” she snapped her fingers at Hector, “report to the palace security for questioning. You,” she beckoned a hulking man forward, “you’re delegated to the Princess’ private security. You do not leave her side.”

 

            “Yes, ma’am.”

 

            “You,” Lillian barked at Jess, “call the Queen of Krypton immediately.”

 

            Lena was being gently lifted onto a gurney, every precaution being taken, and she struggled to push herself upright, her face ashen as she looked at Lillian with fear. “No! You can’t bring her here.”

 

            She was gently, but firmly, pushed back down onto the gurney, the doctor’s words falling on deaf ears as she was wheeled out of the room. Her new bodyguard was close by, half a dozen more following after her, and Lena stared up at the crown molding and crystal chandeliers as she was wheeled through the palace. She knew when they reached the medical wing based on the smell alone, the sharp scent of bleach and antiseptic mingling as the wheels squeaked on the tiled floor.

 

            As she was wheeled into a room, all of the guards standing vigilantly outside the door and along the hallway, Lena felt the tiniest flutter in her stomach and let out a strangled sob. Pushing herself up onto her elbows, she pressed a hand against her stomach, feeling the reassuring kick against her hand. She had dissolved into relieved sobs before she could even try and get a handle on her emotions, the doctor murmuring gentle reassurances as she rubbed her arm. It took her a while to calm down, her breathing hitching and her eyes raw from her tears as she laid on the thin mattress of the thin padded mattress.

 

            While she calmed down, she was hooked up to an IV with a saline solution to keep her hydrated, a heart rate monitor clipped onto one finger and her dress rucked up over her stomach. The pale skin was taut over the bump, and she stared at it with wide eyes as she watched the woman squirt a cold gel onto her stomach, the ultrasound wand spreading it around as she gave Lena a look at her baby. The image bloomed to life on the screen in black and white, the echoey sound of a strong, if a little fast, heartbeat eliciting a strangled sound from Lena, who fell back against the bed, which had been angled up slightly. Covering her eyes with her hands, she sharply exhaled, listening to the quiet, soothing voice of the doctor as she assured Lena that her baby was fine. Her heartbeat was strong, Lena hadn’t been injured at all by the explosion, and neither had the baby. All she needed to do was wait for the shock to pass. Still, as a precaution, the doctor insisted on running a few other tests to ensure that everything truly was fine.

 

            Despite the relief at the fact that her baby was okay, Lena was still restless with worry, wishing desperately that Kara was there. She should’ve been there with her. Lena shouldn’t have left in the first place. She had so desperately not wanted to believe that Kara was right, and she felt foolish for trying to deny it and being angry, fighting back tears as she was left alone in the hospital room. Her mom came in briefly to make sure that everything was okay, and Lena assumed that she’d already interrogated the doctor, and Lex came by a little later, wearing a tuxedo from the dinner party he’d abruptly been pulled out of for his own safety. Lena had stubbornly made them both leave, waiting alone impatiently for her wife to arrive. Of course Kara would come for her, even though Lena didn’t want her to. What if it was a double attack?

 

            Still, the moment the door opened to reveal the pale, shaking form of her wife, Lena let out a quiet sob, unable to stop herself from breaking down again as the aching in her heart vanished, and an overwhelming feeling of relief washed over her. “Kara,” she said, her voice cracking as her wife ran to her, both of them with their arms outstretched, seeking the comfort of each other.

 

            When Kara came into her arms, it was like everything was okay. Breathing in the smell of her perfume, her head against her chest from the uneven height differences, Lena hugged her tightly, sniffing as she let herself be cradled by her wife. Kara kissed the top of her head over and over again, squeezing her so tightly, as if she was scared that Lena wasn’t real and needed to reassure herself that she was, and she let out a choked sob. Pulling back, Kara cupped her face in her shaking hands, her teary blue eyes giving her a searching look, her face ghostly with fear.

 

            “Are you alright?” she hoarsely asked.

 

            “I’m fine,” Lena said, the words sounding hollow even to her own ears. She pressed a hand against her stomach, which had been covered with a scratchy, generic hospital blanket. “The baby’s fine. We’re both okay.”

 

            Kara opened and closed her mouth a few times, before she broke down. Her legs went out from under her and she sank down to her knees, her knuckles white as she grasped at the blanket covering Lena, her shoulders shaking as she sobbed. “Oh God, Lena, I thought- I thought- come home. Please come home. I’m begging you. I miss you. I miss you so much, and I’m so scared. I can’t do this without you. Please. I’ll- I’ll do anything, just-”

 

            “Kara, get up,” Lena spluttered, her eyebrows shooting up as she looked down at the top of her wife’s head. She slipped off the bed, the tiled floor cold against her bare feet, and Kara clutched at the hem of Lena’s dress as she hurriedly pulled it down over her exposed stomach. “Kara, you daft cow, get up . I am coming home. I only came back to tie up some loose ends. I- I’m coming back. I just … there were things I had to do here first.”

 

            Looking up with wide eyes shining with tears, Kara gave her a confused look, sitting back on the floor as she pulled away from Lena. “Y-you are?” she asked, her breathing hitching as she wiped at her wet cheeks.

 

            “Yes, you dolt. Now get up off the floor,” Lena exasperatedly exclaimed, reaching down to awkwardly help Kara to her feet.

 

            Cupping her wife’s face in her hands, Lena gave her an exasperated look, leaning in and gently kissing her, before wiping away the last of Kara’s tears. Climbing back up onto the bed, Lena sat down and patted the space beside her, her hands nervously fluttering around Kara as she settled down beside her. Taking her hand in both of her own, Lena gave her a small smile.

 

            “I only left Krypton to come here and pack up all of my things. I was- my mom … I needed her help,” she hesitantly explained, “I was so convinced that you were paranoid. I’ve spent weeks investigating this, and there was just … nothing. And then today …”

 

            “You’ve been investigating?” Kara sharply asked.

 

            Lena gave her a pleading look, “yes. I know how that sounds, but I just wanted to keep you safe. You and your reputation. I know I don’t give a shit about the monarchy, but you do, and I didn’t want you to be implicated.”

 

            “So you weren’t angry with me? You were just doing it by yourself?”

 

            “What? No! Of course I was angry with you!” Lena spluttered, “not because you did it, but because you lied . I didn’t want to believe you, but of course I was going to look into it. I want you to feel safe. I just- you’re not like me, Kara. You’re good and noble and all of that, and I love that about you, so much , and I didn’t want you to have to lie and sneak about. Quite frankly, darling, you’re bloody awful at it, to begin with, but me … I was raised on lies and secrets. There are ways to do things, and I know how to do them. I’ve had the best private investigators looking, used all of my links to the intelligence agencies here in Thorul and … nothing. No one has heard the quietest whisper about anyone trying to hurt either of us. And after the pregnancy announcement, that was as good an opportunity as they would get to take us out before we have any heirs. And still nothing. Not even at Christmas. I was going to bring you proof of that, so you would finally see that it’s just- that your body was playing tricks on you. On your mind. And then today …”

 

            Kara was looking at her with so much worry that Lena gave her a shaky smile to try and let her know that she was fine. It was a scary thought to think that a bomb had made it inside the walls of the palace, but she was fine. Hector had sprung into action immediately, and he must’ve been especially careful with tackling her, because she couldn’t feel so much as a tender spot or a bruise yet. She hadn’t even made it into the car before it exploded. It raised a dozen questions that Lena would have answered, but for now, she had a different question. Who was the man that her mother had dug up?

 

            “My mom …”

 

            “What did she do?”

 

            Tentatively clearing her throat, Lena gave her a sheepish look. “If there’s one person who I know has a finger in every pie, and is an expert at blackmail and manipulation, it’s my mother. As a last resort to prove that I was right, I made a, ah, a deal with her.”

 

            With a stern look, Kara raised a delicate eyebrow. “What kind of deal? Shouldn’t you have asked me first?”

 

            Sighing, Lena grimaced. “It’s nothing too arduous. She’d like us to spend Easter here, for the babies’ first Easter. She’d also like for one of them to have her name as a middle name. You already suggested that we couldn’t have your mother without mine, so again, not an issue. And finally, Lex is to be the godfather of one of them. I suppose that’s to make it look like we’re all one big happy family.”

 

            “Lena,” Kara sighed, “you should know better than to try and bargain with your mother. Last time it cost you part of your pancreas!”

 

            Rolling her eyes, she smiled slightly, “and it permanently freed us from our little contract with no fuss at all, aside from a few stitches and bedrest. Besides, it’s not as if I hate my brother. He’s an annoying little twit, but I do care about him. It’s not as if it’ll change anything; we won’t have to see my family except at important events and the occasional visit to make it look like we actually give a shit about each other. I think it’s rather a good deal if it gives you some peace of mind.”

 

            Kara slowly nodded, a wary look in her eyes as she stared at Lena. “And has she found anything?”

 

            “A name. A man. Tor-An. Could be either Kryptonian or Daxamite,” she curtly explained. “Not from Thorul. Although, I never suspected my family anyway.” Her tone was a little tense as she gave Kara an accusing look. “If my mother wanted us dead, I very much believe that we’d already be dead and buried, and she’d be honest about it if I asked her outright.”

 

            “Did you?”

 

            “Of course. It wouldn’t have made any sense though. Why would she try and force me to marry you, only to try and kill us both before having an heir? She’d gain nothing from it. If she was going to do it, she’d do it once we had a daughter to claim the throne, probably as some sort of martyr movement. The poor princess with her two dead mother’s, heir to two kingdoms that her parents united. Some bloody awful thing like that.”

 

            Letting out a weak laugh, Kara gave her an apologetic look that conveyed all of her guilt for even suspecting Lena’s family. She forgave her for it immediately, knowing that it wouldn’t have been impossible for Lillian to concoct a plan like that. It just didn’t make sense in the timeline of instances. Especially not now. Feeling uneasy, Lena gave Kara a quick once over, her stomach tying itself into knots at the thought of something happening to her wife. All she’d ever wanted was to keep her safe, the same as Kara had only wanted to keep her safe. They both had their ways, and Lena felt like hers had been the better way to do it, and the distance had given her time for her anger to abate too. All that remained now was a rising feeling of fear.

 

            “So … your mom found this name out? How?”

 

            “If I had a foot in the door with intelligence agencies here, then she has the door wide open and people waiting for her commands. It’s part of the reason why I went to her. She had her lackeys digging up as much as they could - I would’ve had her turn over every rock - and the bank account in Daxam was opened under the name of that man. The real name. It took a while for them to identify him properly, but they had CCTV footage from the bank he opened it at in Daxam - probably from one of the officers she has in her pocket over there - and they ran it through facial recognition software and the like until they got a hit. That’s all she could get for me, well, all that she was willing to give me at this point, but it’s enough of a place to start. We can run it through the system back in Krypton.”

 

            Shoulders sagging, Kara let out a forceful breath, a drawn look on her face as she nodded. “I wish I wasn’t right.”

 

            “Me too. I guess you can say I told you so now.”

 

            “Lena-”

 

            “No, Kara, you were right. You were right, and you made it seem like I didn’t care at all, like I wouldn’t have done everything to keep you safe, and I didn’t want you to be right, and I didn’t want you to lie to me.”

 

            “You lied to me about this.”

 

            “You lied to me first,” Lena said with a wry smile, “and I did it to protect you. The same as what you were doing for me. So, now that we’ve established that I was a complete and utter cow, and you were right, I’m sorry for being mad. I’m sorry, Kara, and I know it was- it’s been horrible, and I was mad, but I just- I don’t want our relationship to be full of lies. I don’t care if you think my mom is some fairytale villain; you tell me and you let me deal with her, okay? I know how to play this game, and I don’t want you to have to give up parts of yourself to keep us safe. I don’t want to lose the woman that I married to the evil games that our people have played for years. They’ll tear you apart at the slightest chance, and I know you know that, and things could’ve gotten really bad if my mom didn’t want to sweep anything that could tarnish her reputation under the rug. It’s so easy to lose yourself in this life, and I don’t want you to change to do the dark things that need to be done to keep us safe. Please, just … promise me that you’ll tell me next time. I can protect you, Kara. I will fight tooth and nail to keep our family safe.”

 

            Letting out a shuddering breath, Kara shifted closer to her, cradling her face in her hands and resting her forehead against Lena’s. Eyelids fluttering closed, Lena relaxed beneath Kara’s touch, her hands warm against her cheeks, and the urge to cry welled up again as the day caught up with her.

 

            “I love you,” Kara fiercely whispered, “never leave me again. I mean it, Lena. Getting that phone call off Jess … I’ve never been so scared in my life. Nothing has terrified me so much. I wasn’t sure- I mean, she said that you were okay , but … don’t do that, okay?”

 

            Choking on a laugh, Lena kissed her slowly, cherishing the feeling of Kara’s soft lips beneath her own. It was surprising how much her heart could hold, filling with so much love that she thought she would burst, and she murmured quiet assurances that she wasn’t going anywhere against her wife’s lips. They would have to spend the night at the palace, the whole place on lockdown and crawling with guards and probably the military too, as investigations immediately went underway. Reporters would be circling like vultures, waiting for a glimpse of a member of the royal family, an official statement, or the mere snatches of anything that fell from the loose lips of some of the guards. A bomb going off in the west courtyard of the royal palace would be worldwide news, and Lena expected to be hounded about it for weeks. It seemed like their names and faces were splashed over every major news outlet recently, for a number of different reasons, and she could feel the iron dred coiling in her gut as she thought about how tense things were lately. She didn’t want to worry or stress - it wasn’t good for either of them, or the babies - and she desperately wanted to fix this so that they could bring a family into a safe world.

 

            “We’re safe in here for now, at least,” Kara said, tracing the curve of Lena’s cheekbone with a gentle fingertip, “except for dinner with your mother.”

 

            “Ah fuck,” Lena groaned.

 

            “Try not to stab her with a fruit knife, please,” Kara quietly laughed, before she sobered up slightly, the smile fading from her lips. “What are we going to do about that man? Do you think it was him?”

 

            “I don’t want to think about that right now,” Lena heavily sighed, brushing Kara’s hair out of her face as she gave her a grim smile. “If I do, I’ll go crazy. We can figure it out tomorrow, but in the meantime, I want to go upstairs to my room, have a hot bath and put on something comfortable, and then I want to hold you close and never let you go.”

Chapter Text

            They were both restless all night, sleeping in a guest room - Lena wouldn’t go within ten feet of her childhood bedroom - and trying to relax enough to fall asleep, exhausted and drained from the events of the day. Dinner had been a tense affair with Lex and Lillian, Kara taking it upon herself to keep up a steady stream of polite conversation with her brother-in-law in order to diffuse the discomfort, with little success, and after they’d finished eating, with Lena barely touching her food, they went upstairs to their room. Kara coaxed Lena into the waiting bath, and then straight into bed, worried that the stress of the day might be too much for her body, and unwilling to let her strain herself further.

 

            Lena looked disgruntled amongst a nest of soft pillows and a pile of blankets, her dark hair undone and a little unkempt as she let her wife fuss around her. Kara suspected that she only allowed the near-smothering fussing because she’d missed her so much, but she finally toned it down as Lena started to get short with her constant questions about how she was feeling, and the multiple attempts to ply her with tea and biscuits. In the end, Kara climbed into bed with her, holding her close and feeling somewhat relieved, despite the electrifying feeling of danger coursing through her body as she thought about how close she’d come to losing Lena. It made her stomach lurch, a feeling of nausea washing over her, so strong that she thought she was actually going to be sick, but she just tightened her hold on her wife and mentally kicked herself for triggering the series of events that had led to putting her in harm’s way. Kara told herself that she would never have let something like this happen in Krypton, let alone within the walls of Sunstone Palace, but dread knotted her stomach as a tiny voice intruded on her thoughts, telling her that she couldn’t protect them from everything.

 

            Speaking in quiet voices, they lay in the dark for hours, talking about anything that wasn’t about the bomb or the investigation - baby names, where they should vacation in the summer, whether they should request poached eggs for breakfast, or if they might prefer an omelette instead - until they descended into silence, with Lena nestled up against Kara’s side, her head tucked into the crook between her neck and shoulder, while Kara absentmindedly stroked her arm in a soothing manner. Drifting in and out of sleep, the hours slipped by slowly with lots of tossing and turning, terrifying nightmares, and frequent bathroom trips due to the babies, until it was a few hours away from dawn and they silently stared at the ceiling, wrapped up in each other’s arms as they waited for the day to greet them.

 

            Showering and dressing in easy silence for the first time in weeks, with the occasional gentle touch as they moved around each other with familiar ease, they made their way down to breakfast. While Lena would’ve preferred to have a tray brought up to her room, even she glumly admitted to needing to talk to her mom again, and Kara struggled to keep up with her brisk pace, waddling slightly with her bigger stomach, until Lena breezed through the doors of the dining room. Lex and Lillian both broke off mid-conversation at their arrival, and the king climbed to his feet, a slight smile on his lips as he stepped away from his chair and pulled the one to his immediate right out, and the one beside that one.

 

            “Good morning,” he cordially greeted them, “I hope you slept well. There’s plenty of food, so help yourselves.”

 

            He ushered Lena into the one furthest away, dropping a kiss onto her head, before helping Kara into the seat at his right and giving her shoulder a quick squeeze. Taking his seat again, he resumed eating, and everyone was silent as a serve stepped forward with a pot of steaming breakfast tea and filled their cups. Freshly buttered toast was procured, and they both started helping themselves to the spread of food in front of them, Kara piling hers high and then sneaking more onto Lena’s plate, prompting her to eat more after her meagre meal the night before.

 

            Lillian dismissed the staff after that, the four of them alone with a retinue of bodyguards crowding the hallway outside. Clearing her throat, she took a sip of coffee and set her cup down, giving them an unreadable look. “You both look terrible.”

 

            “We need to talk,” Lena brusquely replied, cutting up her omelette with more force than was necessary, “or rather, you’re going to tell me everything you know. I don’t give a shit about your stupid favours and prices, I know you know more than you’re letting on, and you’re going to tell me right now .”

 

            With a sigh, Lillian leant back in her chair, giving her daughter a shrewd look while her son carried on eating as if no one had spoken. He seemed disinterested for the most part, no concern for his safety inside his palace, and Kara shifted slightly in her seat, feeling uncomfortable at the tension in the air.

 

            “Fine. That man, Tor-An, he opened the bank account. There was another, called Mor-Ur, that my investigators found, who was driving the car of Zor-El and Alura when it crashed. And another called Gor-Ul, the new personal bodyguard of them both, replacing their old one a month before they died.”

 

            “And?” Lena bluntly asked.

 

            “They’re all ex-military,” Lillian told her, taking a demure bite of her food, “and they all died within a week of each other.”

 

            Kara frowned as she set her cup of tea down, “what does that have to do with anything?”

 

            “It means someone infiltrated the palace and is trying to cover their tracks,” Lena muttered, “someone with enough knowledge to influence your parents. To convince them to change bodyguards, to have enough power to get someone to open a bank account for them, to organise a driver for them. To cover up the investigation as soon as it started. Their killer was never found, which means that someone high up didn’t want them to be found. The same with the rest of your family, no doubt.”

 

            Her voice grew harder as she spoke, a stony look on her face as she stabbed at a cherry tomato, a muscle leaping in her jaw. Kara rested her hand on her knee and gave it a gentle squeeze, feeling her mouth go dry. “But what would anyone gain out of this, unless it was actually Daxam?”

 

            “Oh, you naive little girl,” Lillian laughed, her eyes sparkling with amusement as the corner of her lips curled up into a tiny smile, “who do you think? The bomb on the car? It was remotely detonated, which means that someone didn’t want to kill Lena. The bullet that nicked your arm, just grazed you. They don’t want to kill you, they just want to scare you. Tell me, why would someone try and blow up my daughter?”

 

            Scoffing, Lena gave her mom a hard look, “well I wouldn’t be surprised if it was you trying to force me to go home to Krypton by proving Kara right. And seeing as it wasn’t, who else- oh .”

 

            “No,” Kara mumbled, “she wouldn’t.”

 

            “Oh but she would,” Lena stonily replied.

 

            Pushing her chair back, Lena climbed to her feet and walked off without another word, roughly yanking open a door and slamming it shut behind herself. Kara let out a quiet sigh, giving the rest of her breakfast a look of regret, and Lex and Lillian apologetic looks, she excused herself and followed after Lena at a slower pace. It wasn’t too hard to find her, with Lillian’s appointed bodyguard standing beside Hector - who had been questioned and returned to his duty - and she bid her own guards to wait outside, nodding to Hector, who gave her a grave nod in return, and walking through the door that was opened for her.

 

            Kara warily hovered just inside the door of the sitting room Lena was in, watching as her wife angrily paced back and forth, clenching and unclenching her hands, waiting for her to say something. She’d obviously heard Kasra enter, but made no move to acknowledge her for a moment. Walking over to a sofa, Kara sat down and patiently waited for Lena to speak, her own mind clouded with conflicting thoughts.

 

            “That conniving little cow,” Lena seethingly exploded, pacing back and forth as the muscles in her jaw worked and her stomach strained against the fabric of her shirt. Kara watched on from her seat, a stony look on her face as she tried to piece it all together, figuring out if it made sense. “That evil scheming bitch .”

 

            With a sigh, Kara pressed a hand to her stomach and pushed herself to her feet. “Lena-”

 

            “No! Do not defend her to me,” Lena snapped, anger burning in her eyes as she whirled around and pointed a finger at Kara in warning, “I could’ve lost our baby, Kara. You’ve protected her time and time again to me, and this time I won’t hear it. I swear to God, when I get my hands-”

 

            “I’m not going to defend her,” Kara curtly interrupted, giving her a reproving look, “I was going to tell you to sit down and rest, for our little peach’s sake, if not your own. You’ve had a rough twenty-four hours.” As she spoke, she walked closer to Lena and reached out to press a hand against her stomach, gently cradling the bump and giving her wife a concerned look. “This stress isn’t good for either of you. All of us .”

 

            Huffing in frustration, Lena seemed to deflate as some of the anger bled out of her, although Kara knew she would be fuming for the rest of the day and she tenderly cupped Kara’s cheek and gave her a tight smile. “You’re right. I could murder a glass of scotch right about now.”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Kara chastely kissed her, tucking a lock of hair back into Lena’s updo as she gave her a grim smile. “Well the best I can do right now is a good cup of tea while they ready the plane, and the promise that I’ll buy you the most expensive bottle of scotch when the baby is born.”

 

            Laughing, Lena gently rested her forehead against Kara’s for a moment, her eyelids fluttering closed, before she threaded their fingers together and pulled back, leading her wife over to the embroidered sofa and sitting down. Kicking off her heels, Lena reclined against the silk pillows, and Kara shook her head in amusement as she let her put her feet in her lap, her behaviour as proper as always, and Lena tipped her head back, letting out a heavy sigh as she rested her hands on top of her stomach.

 

            Tea was brought for them, as promised, and Jess quietly interjected to update Kara on the status of their private jet. They would be leaving in half an hour, which left plenty of time for them to enjoy a few biscuits as much as they could in their tense, dull mood, while they sipped at cups of tea, stewing in their anger and confusion. Kara was hesitant to place all of the blame on Astra, but there was the disturbing thought that perhaps her aunt had had something to do with it, and she was silently reflective on everything that had happened over the past few years and beyond. It would make sense for her to set off a bomb to scare Lena into believing Kara, thus saving their marriage and their public image, but she wouldn’t have killed her own sister. She wouldn’t have nearly wiped out a whole monarchy just to instate her niece on the throne; she didn’t gain anything from it. Still, Kara wouldn’t be stupid enough to dismiss the notion, knowing that it was hard to trust anyone under her circumstances, and it wasn’t like Astra hadn’t betrayed her trust and done questionable things in the past. Murder wasn’t out of the question just yet, but Kara desperately hoped that the nagging thoughts and icy fear welling up inside were wrong.

 

            By the time they were on the plane, Kara was mentally exhausted, her back was aching, and her feet were sore from the heels she was wearing, and she dropped down onto her favourite seat, relaxing on the soft leather as she nudged an excited wolfhound away, Aoife’s wet nose making Kara flinch slightly as the dog nuzzled against her leg. Kicking off her shoes and putting her feet up on the seat beside her, she let out a small sigh, listening to the sounds of the last preparations being made before take-off, while Lena likewise made herself comfortable on the seats across from her, a small table separating them. Kara’s phone rang a few times, but she ignored them all, seeing Astra’s name flash on the screen more than once, and she dozed lightly to pass the time, able to relax knowing that Lena was on the plane with her, returning back home to Argo City. Amidst everything else, that much was a relief, and a huge weight off Kara’s shoulders.

 

            Yet she was still weighed down by all of her other problems, and as soon as they arrived back at the palace, she determinedly strode through the hallway, making straight for the office that Astra used whenever she was in Krypton to conduct business as an ambassador and manager of some of Kara’s private affairs, firmly telling Lena to go upstairs, before she burst into the office without waiting to be announced. Her aunt was seated behind the desk, as expected, and jumped to her feet at Kara’s arrival, a smile freezing on her face at the hard look on her niece’s face.

 

            “Tell me you didn’t do it,” Kara wearily asked, a pleading look on her face as she strode towards the large wooden desk.

 

            “Do what?” Astra asked, her eyebrows rising slightly, but the innocence in her voice sounded false to Kara’s ears.

 

            Drawing herself up to her full height, Kara took another step forward, almost bumping into the desk, and gave Astra a sharp look. “Tell me you didn’t try and blow up my wife,” she bitingly said.

 

            There was a flicker of surprise in Astra’s icy blue eyes, and not at being accused, more at the fact that Kara had found out, and Kara stepped backwards, her mouth falling open in surprise as she gave her aunt an accusing look. A choked sound fell from her mouth as she opened and closed her mouth, her eyes burning with tears as she felt the stab of betrayal in her heart.

 

            “Why?” Kara hoarsely asked, her voice cracking as she gave Astra a heartbroken look.

 

            “Kara, it’s not-”

 

            “No, you do not get to excuse yourself. I am your queen , and I want the truth. Now.”

 

            Astra let out a small sigh, bracing herself on the desk as she looked down at the paperwork spread out in front of her, her shoulders taut as she avoided her niece’s gaze and gathered her thoughts. “I know you want to live a normal life as much as you can, but you’re a political figurehead. You might not be important in the day-to-day runnings of your country, but you are the symbol of your country. Everything you do, reflects back on Krypton, on its government and its society and that includes your family . So yes, I had a bomb planted by one of your guards accompanying Lena in Thorul, with no intention of letting her come to any real harm, because she was being ridiculous and risking everything because she didn’t believe you. So I made you be right so she would come back here and nip the rumours of your separation in the bud before people started speculating why your wife was living a country away when you’re about to be starting a family. Your entire life depends on you being perfect; it’s what keeps the monarchy relevant, and what keeps the economy here flowing. I did what was necessary for the crown. She was never in any real danger.”

 

            Kara choked on a laugh, giving her an incredulous look, “ never in any real danger? She could’ve been hurt , she could’ve lost the baby - our baby - all so you could do what was necessary for the crown? I am the crown and this wasn’t for my benefit. She was already on her way home, did you know that? That she’d been investigating on her own with Lillian’s help? Your fake little display did nothing.”

 

            “Investigating,” Astra blanched slightly, her eyes widening with shock.

 

            Giving her a tight look, her throat bobbing as she swallowed the lump in her throat, Kara’s face turned ashen. “Wha- no , tell me you didn’t have my family killed too. Your sister.

 

            “Of course I didn’t,” Astra sharply replied, an angry look flitting across her face, her eyes flashing a warning. “I love my sister more than anything. I’ve loved you like you were my own daughter. I’ve been nothing but loyal to my family.”

 

            “No,” Kara tightly replied, clenching her jaw as she blinked back tears, “no, that’s a lie. You’ve only ever been loyal to yourself and what you think is best. I forgave you once, but this is- you’ve gone too far this time. Do whatever you want to me , but don’t you ever touch my wife. I want you gone.”

 

            “But-”

 

            “Immediately . Go back to Daxam. You’re relieved of your position here. You’ll never step foot inside this palace again, and if you come within ten feet of me again, I’ll have you arrested on the grounds of treason.”

 

            She didn’t wait for a reply, although it didn’t stop Astra from spluttering her protests, begging Kara to listen, she just stormed out of the office as fast as she could with her slight waddle, and briskly sped back through the palace. The devastating knowledge that it had been Astra weighed heavily on her as she made her way up to her suite, striding into the room with tense anger, until she abruptly stopped just inside the doors and burst into tears.

 

            Lena had been reading on the sofa, patiently waiting for Kara to come up, and she awkwardly leapt to her feet, maneuvering around the sofas and coffee table and walking over to Kara. Wrapping her in a tight hug, as best as she could with their stomachs in the way, Lena stroked her hair, and Kara let herself relax into the warm embrace. Sniffling as she buried her face in Lena’s shoulder, Kara grit her teeth together in anger, trying to get her haywire emotions under control as Lena made soothing sounds to her.

 

            When she finally pulled back, pushing up her glasses and wiping beneath her eyes, Kara took a deep breath in and exhaled sharply, vowing to herself that that was the last time she’d cry over her aunt who had betrayed her one time too many. She believed Astra when she said she’d never had her family killed, although for a moment she’d thought the worst of the woman, but that didn’t excuse the fact that she’d set Lena up and endangered her. She didn’t have to tell Lena that Astra had done it, because it was written all over her face, and she could see the stiff anger on her wife’s face, although Lena was trying her best to keep her composure for Kara’s sake.

 

            Leading her over to a sofa, Lena called for something to eat and drink and then fetched Kara some pyjamas. Stripping off her dress, Kara carelessly tossed it aside and slipped into the silk pyjamas, before letting Lena drape a cashmere blanket over her and press a kiss to her forehead. The only light came from an antique lamp on the end table, but soon enough Lyra had bustled in after Jess, dropping to her knees and starting a fire in the grate, bathing the room in a warm orange glow. It was comforting and made Kara unwind as she cupped a mug of peppermint hot chocolate in her numb hands and picked at the chocolate covered pickles on the tray that Jess had brought up. The coziness of the moment, and the desire to escape everything for the time being made her push herself up, her stomach ballooning out over the waistband of her pyjamas as she tugged down the shirt, the buttons straining across her stomach, looking at a pensive Lena, who was sitting on the Persian rug, her legs outstretched as the fire warmed her feet and Aoife rested her head in her lap. At the sound of Kara moving, Lena turned her head to the side, her wide green eyes filled with concern and questions.

 

            “I think … it’s time for me to go on maternity leave,” Kara quietly said, her voice rough from crying, “I want to go to Ireland. Just you and me, for the next couple of months.”

 

            “Kara,” Lena quietly sighed, “I’d love nothing more than to spend the rest of our pregnancies in Ireland, away from all of this, but … you just lost the only person you trust to run your affairs for you. And besides, we can’t do everything by ourselves, I mean, look at us.”

 

            “Cat is the Prime Minister, and she’s the real leader here, so it makes no difference what I’m doing,” Kara brushed aside her concerns, “and we can … I don’t know, we’ll take Jess and Lyra this time. We can take a chef and if we need anything else, like a- a tailor or a masseuse, doctors or midwives, then we’ll just bring them to us. It doesn’t matter where we are, we can still have everything we need. I’ll ask Alex and Sam to take charge of nursery decorating here, we can send them all of our plans and have everything delivered here. And we can just … get away from it all until the babies arrive. We can stay there for a month after they’re born. Adjust to it all away from here. It’s what’s best for everyone, I think.”

 

            Giving her a stern look, Lena raised her eyebrows, “and what about your family? Our friends?”

 

            “They can visit, of course,” Kara laughed, “usually we go there on vacation, but if we’re there for four or five months, then of course we’re not going to live in isolation. This way we just- we can get away from all of this . No more appointments, or surprise visits to try and get favours from us. Just you and me, and our little peach and pea.”

 

            Lena was silent for a few moments, her attention turned to the flickering flames, her skin bathed a warm orange, and then she reached up to take Kara’s hand in her own and gave it a slight squeeze, a soft smile on her lips. “Okay.”

Chapter Text

            It took a week to make arrangements to leave for Ireland, with a warning from their doctor that they shouldn’t fly anywhere else once they were there, with both of them already into their third trimester, and the need for them to both remain as relaxed as possible. Kara tied up any loose ends with her meetings, cancelling unimportant ones and rearranging the important ones so that her advisors could meet with them on her behalf. Extra clothes were packed, their favourite belongings flown to Ireland to be neatly put away for them, and they left Krypton behind, feeling relieved - and in Kara’s case, somewhat guilty - as they were flown halfway around the world. It was only a six hour flight, but they were exhausted when they landed, and lightly dozed as they drove through the desolate countryside, soggy green fields stretching out beneath grey skies, and Kara placed a hand against her stomach, feeling the light patter against her palm as she rested her eyes.

 

            Since everything had figuratively and literally blown up, things had calmed down considerably. Between having Lena beside her again, making plans to relocate to Ireland for a few months, and the ever-present wariness that filled her when Astra had been around now gone, Kara felt more at ease than she had been in months. They’d immediately utilised Krypton’s Homeland Security, using all of the power the crown afforded them, which was a lot, to have them investigating the three dead men that Lillian had presented them with, and while nothing had come of it during that week, Kara felt better about being in Ireland, knowing that she was far away from Krypton, with people working around the clock to ensure her safety.

 

            While miles separated her from her homeland, she still had two dozen guards on rotation at their estate in Ireland, and while Lena didn’t call her paranoid anymore, she saw the discontent in the grim line of Lena’s mouth as they passed through the guarded gates. Still, it was nothing compared to the scale of their life in Argo City, with the sprawling palace, endless stream of staff and guards at every turn, and it was a relief to be away from it all, even if they were living a scaled down version of that life. With only a handful of staff and a dozen rooms in the small mansion, it was comfortably lavish, and they stepped over the threshold with overwhelming relief.

 

            The chill had been chased away by a fire in the main living room, and Kara helped Lena out of her coat while the sound of footsteps drew nearer. Jess curtsied to them both, rushing to help take their coats, informing them that tea was waiting for them in the kitchen, and asking if they needed anything else. Dismissing her, they both made their way towards the cozy kitchen barefoot, sitting at the table and resting their swollen feet up on the chairs, their bellies getting in the way as they stretched towards the plate for fresh scones spread with strawberry jam, a dusting of crumbs scattered across the tops of their stomachs as they unwound after the long flight. While Sunstone Palace was undeniably their home, there was a sense of peace gained from the estate nestled in the middle of the countryside, with no one to bother them.

 

            Two weeks passed by in blissful ease, the only discomforts coming from their pregnancies and restless nights. While Kara was sure that they were safe, peeking out the windows at odd hours of the night to see the shadowy figures patrolling along the fence encircling the estate, visible down the distant length of the driveway only due to the tiny sweeping beams of light from their flashlights, she couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something was wrong . They spent their days walking through the garden, still in the midst of its barren winteryness, the thorny bare brambles and bleak, gnarled branches offering little in the way of beauty, playing chess indoors near the roaring fire, or sketching and reading. True to her word, Kara had brought along her head chef, and they ate as richly as they had back in Krypton, as well as having Jess and Lyra to take care of their every other needs. It wasn’t the usual reprieve that they enjoyed in Ireland, but it was a breath of fresh air to be away from politics and duty for a small while.

 

            After the novelty of it wore off after two idle weeks, Kara found herself restless though, itching to give her advisors orders when they made their weekly call to keep her update on the runnings of her kingdom. She was unused to being away from the office for so long, having been devoted to her position since the moment it had been thrust upon her, and besides a few weeks of vacation throughout each year, she had spent every day in meetings, shut up in her office, or going to some public event. Still, all of that spare time was spent with Lena, and it was a relief to be able to do something normal, without the tension and the anger that had permeated their life for the past few months.

 

            Every morning, they woke up beside each other, regardless of how well they slept, they ate all their meals together and napped in each other’s arms, their stomachs slowly growing, making it harder for them to be as close as they wanted to be. Their family and friends visited, with Alex being the most frequent guest, and talk about the babies was the primary topic. Hours were spent planning colour schemes, ordering clothes and furniture, and while both women were strongly opinionated, causing more than a few heated arguments, they managed to finish the nursery plans, leaving their team of staff to do the hard work, under Alex’s supervision. There was countless other baby things to be done before they arrived, and with the time to finally work out the finer details, they spent hours with their feet up, talking and browsing websites together over cups of tea, and Kara felt the excitement rekindled again. Lena was somewhat more willing to surrender to Kara’s wants too, with Kara suspecting that perhaps she was trying to make up for her behaviour and lessen her guilt, although there were the occasional remark that made things strained between them.

 

            By the time they’d been there a month, Kara was into her seventh month, and Lena close behind, and both of them in blissful happiness at their freedom and the fact that they were wrapped up in each other’s company all the time. They rarely left the estate, and when they did it was only for brief trips to the cliffs of Moher to stand near the edge and enjoy the bracing salty air and the stretch of steely blue water spread out before them, otherwise they wandered around the garden and tucked themselves into little nooks around the house to their heart’s content. Lena was prone to daily walks through the gardens with Aoife, while Kara preferred to sit on one of the benches and sketch the first blooms of the approaching spring, or the the robin sitting on a branch, both of them enjoying their own company as much as each other’s. Slowly, the dark circles beneath their eyes disappeared, and their cheeks took on a healthy glow, with each check up from their doctor going as well as expected.

 

            Kara knew that she shouldn’t have expected everything to go so smoothly though, and it was a quiet Tuesday afternoon when there was a knock on the door, which perked up both of the royals lounging in the smaller sitting room. As far as either of them were aware, none of their friends were flying in to visit them, and Kara hadn’t heard that Alex or Eliza were planning to come to Ireland at that moment either. Sharing a sceptical look, they patiently waited for the guest to arrive, and an apologetic Jess curtsied in the doorway as she intruded in on their peaceful afternoon.

 

            “Excuse me, Your Majesty, Your Highness, Lord Non is here requesting an audience with you.”

 

            “Non?” Kara asked, her eyebrows shooting up in surprise. “What does he want?”

 

            At the sheepish look on their assistants face, she waved away Jess’ concerns and bid her to show him to the sitting room, sitting up straighter in her chair as she tried to make herself as presentable as a seven month pregnant queen could be under the circumstances. It was a small mercy that expensively tailored clothes, million dollar jewelry and luxury accessories were at her disposable, so even in the remote southern reaches of Ireland, tucked away in the small mansion, Kara was a sight better than she ought to have looked, if a little puffy and flushed from the effects of the baby. She shifted in her seat, her hands neatly folded in her lap and her ankles crossed, watching as her uncle appeared in the doorway.

 

            “Your Majesty. Your Highness,” Non said, sketching them both a courteous bow as he stepped into the room, his hands clasped behind his back as his suit jacket strained across his broad chest.

 

            “Uncle Non,” Kara said, disapprovingly greeted him as she pushed herself to her feet, her brow wrinkling with confusion. “What’re you doing here? We’re not receiving guests at the moment; not even family.”

 

            Her gave her a stiff smile, his eyes tightening at the corners, and gestured vaguely with a large hand. “There are delicate matters which your aunt thinks might interest you.”

 

            Lowering herself back down onto the armchair, brushing stray curls of hair out of her face as she scoffed, giving him a reproachful look. “I have no interest in anything she has to say. I wouldn’t trust a word out of her mouth.”

 

            “Everything she has done has been in your best interests. You might not see it, but she loves you like you were her own daughter. There are things you don’t understand-”

 

            “Don’t patronise me,” Kara snapped, her patience wearing thin as she propped her feet up on the footstool before her armchair, her swollen feet aching and her back sore as she winced, rubbing at a tender spot at the bottom of her spine.

 

            She still had another two months left, and she was far from the elegantly refined queen she had been this time the year before, and all of her changes weren’t physical. Her forgiving nature had been tested too many times, and she’d learnt that things weren’t always as they seemed, and she had become aware of the fact that sometimes she had to make the hard decisions, even if it cost her. It wasn’t always easy, but she had become stricter and more stubborn, and in this case, it served her well.

 

            “She’s never lied to you,” Non calmly reasoned with her.

 

            “No, indeed, she’s been quite forthcoming with her bloody plans to frighten us both into an early grave,” Lena dryly replied from her spot in the corner, flippantly turning a page as she remained absorbed in her book as much as the conversation.

 

            Making a sound of indignation at the back of his throat, Non cast Lena a wily look, “if only they were her plans, but they’re not. It’s not without difficulty that she’s done the things she’s been ordered to, but she’s done her duty anyway, and protected you as much as she could. Not that you were ever in any real danger, but she did her best to limit the damages.”

 

            Spluttering, Kara gave him an incredulous look, leaning forward in her armchair, her hands gripping the arms as if she was about to launch herself to her feet. “Limit the damages? Limit the damages? She damn near cost me my wife , not to mention my unborn child. What are they? Just necessary sacrifices?”

 

            “If you’re looking for someone to blame, then by all means, speak to your aunt and she’ll tell you the truth. But she wanted me to warn you that you wouldn’t like what you uncovered. If you keep investigating, it won’t bring you any satisfaction.”

 

            “I won’t believe any of her excuses,” Kara haughtily replied, a dark look in her eyes.

 

            Non gave her a small smile and shrugged half-heartedly, “perhaps not, but your mother-in-law might be able to convince you.”

 

            Out of the corner of her eye, Kara saw Lena’s dark head rise, shooting the man a sharp look, before she turned to look at Kara. An uneasy feeling in her stomach, Kara slowly turned to meet Lena’s wide eyes, an apprehensive look in them, and a shrewd glimmer of suspicion. Turning back to Non, Kara cleared her throat slightly, her knuckles white on the arms of the leather seat. “Jess?” she called out, her voice carrying through the lower rooms of the house.

 

            The woman hurried into the room, a pleasant look on her face as she waited for instruction, and Kara flicked her hand at her uncle, a look of contempt on her face as she dismissed him. “See Lord Non out.”

 

            With a curt bow, Non straightened up, his eyes flashing a warning. “Your Majesty. Your Highness.”

 

            Eyes trained on his back, Kara watched him leave the room, his heavy footsteps receding, followed by the quiet sound of the door shutting, and a car starting a few moments later, and the tension bled out of her as she sank into her seat. Running a hand over her face, she let out a heavy sigh, pinching the bridge of her nose and trying to calm herself down as she felt herself getting all hot and bothered.

 

            “He’s right; she knows something else,” Lena’s quiet voice intruded through her muddled thoughts.

 

            “It doesn’t matter,” Kara muttered, “don’t worry yourself about her right now.”

 

            Sighing, Lena closed her book with a muffled thump, setting the book down on an end table with a thud. “Well it does worry me. This is something that’s been bothering you for months . You’re still not sleeping properly because of it, and if it’s going to get you some closure, then I’ll drag my mother here by her hair and force the answers out of her, one way or another. I didn’t want to believe you, but I have no choice, and it irritates me as much as it does you, and you know how I feel about mysteries.”

 

            “I wish we could skip ahead and read the ending now like one of your crime novels,” Kara wistfully sighed, a sound of regret in her voice as she ran a hand over her unkempt hair. “But no, I won’t bring her here. We’re safe enough for now; it can wait until after the babies are born.”

 

            “Kara-”

 

            “This is your home, Lena,” Kara cut her off with a tender look of understanding, “the one place that she’s never been able to ruin for you. She can’t reach you here, and seeing as we can’t go to her, I won’t have her here, invading the only place you’ve ever that’s yours completely. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable just for a few silly answers.”

 

            Lips quirking up into a tight smile, Lena gave her a strained look, “but it’s not silly, is it? It’s the answers you never got. Answers you’ve wanted for over half of your life.”

 

            Letting out a quiet huff of frustration, Kara set her jaw and pressed her lips into a thin line, a hard look in her eyes as she met Lena’s eyes. Her expression softened slightly and Kara’s shoulders slumped as she gave her a loving look. Pushing herself to her feet, Kara grimaced, pressing a hand against her lower back and another beneath her stomach as she made it upright, before waddling over to Lena, who was watching her with thinly veiled amusement and mild concern. Her own bump was considerably smaller, despite the two weeks between them, and she reached out to press a hand against Kara’s as soon as she was near, feeling the taut skin and shifting forward to press a kiss against the fabric of the thin sweater Kara wore.

 

            “Mommy’s being stubborn again, little pea,” Lena stage whispered, a smile curling her lips as she briefly looked up at Kara, who rolled her eyes in exasperated humour. “You should block your ears for this one; we don’t want you picking up any bad language.”

 

            Laughing, Kara gripped Lena’s chin and gently jerked her head up, arching an eyebrow at her, “you’re the only one with bad language here, darling.”

 

            Giving her a wry smile, Lena shrugged nonchalantly, “I know, and if you insist on being stubborn, I’ll use all of my colourful language, until you see sense.”

 

            Bending down as much as she could, looking very uncoordinated and unflattering, she kissed her on the tip of the nose and then on the lips, before straightening back up. “Me being stubborn? Oh please . You’re the most stubborn, pig-headed person I know,” Kara laughed, brushing Lena’s hair out of her face, “and I love you enough to stop you from letting it hurt you. We need to rest - that was part of the reason why we came here - and you being around your mom is like … well it’s definitely not relaxing. Besides, I’m not sure what else we have on offer besides body parts, and she’s already had some of your pancreas. I’m not sure we could afford her price.”

 

            “She’d probably want our firstborn child, the old witch,” Lena darkly huffed, running a hand over her own bump.

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Kara kissed her again, before mumbling about going to fetch them a snack. The matter was put to bed, and neither of them mentioned it again as the weeks slipped by, each moment dragging as they suffered with their own discomforts. Things they had taken for granted were made difficult by their baby bumps, and it was fortunate that they had a massive bed, because their nights were fitful and irritable, with both of them spread out on their backs, sighing as they impatiently waited for sleep. Lena would often wake with a start, her chest heaving from a nightmare, and Kara didn’t have to ask what it was about, her own nightmares filled with the exact same thing. While both of them were sleeping better beside each other, it was by no means restful, and they were both haggard, although the sunken, haunted look had vanished from both of their faces. Still, it was less than ideal, and more so less given the fact that they were pregnant, and while Kara needed that closure, she wouldn’t bring Lillian further into the folds of the investigation to do it.

 

            It made no difference though, because as another month passed by, much in the same fashion as the last, there was another unsuspecting knock on the door. Unsuspecting for Kara, who was reading one of the parenting books they’d brought with them, alone in the sitting room as the fire crackled merrily in the grate. Lena was elsewhere, occupying herself for the time being, but at the sound of the knock, she appeared a few moments later with a tall woman following behind her.

 

            “What-”

 

            “You wouldn’t bring her here, so I did,” Lena brusquely replied, waddling into the room and settling down onto her favourite armchair, while Lillian lingered inside the doorway, looking around the room with interest.

 

            She was wrapped up in a fitted coat and a pantsuit, her arms folded over her chest and a regal air about her, as if she commanded everyone there, even if it wasn’t even her own home. Weak sunlight filtered in through the long windows, making Kara look even more haggard as she drew herself up in her chair, as if it was her throne. Lillian gave her a polite nod, arching an eyebrow slightly as she took a slow, measured step into the room.

 

            “Your Majesty,” she curtly greeted Kara, “to what do I owe the pleasure? It’s not like my daughter would willingly invite me here, so I’m assuming it’s important.”

 

            Hesitating for a moment, Kara gave her a cordial smile, “should we talk over tea?”

 

            Waving a hand in a dismissive gesture, Lillian gave her a pointed look. “There’s no point wasting time over silly niceties. I know that you’ll want me gone as soon as possible, and despite Lena’s insistence that I want to meddle in every area of her life, quite frankly, I have no desire to be stuck here anymore than you want me here. God knows why you’ve holed yourself up in the middle of nowhere for this long.”

 

            She sniffed disdainfully and Lena rolled her eyes, giving her mom a cool look. “Well I had every intention of never letting you step a bloody foot inside these gates, for starters.”

 

            Lillian brushed off her daughter’s snide remarks, her focus on Kara, who shifted uncomfortably in her seat. With a sigh, Lillian walked over to the loveseat set at an angle to the armchair Kara was in, settling down on the cushions and primly crossing her ankles as she eyed the two of them.

 

            “The babies are well?”

 

            “Obviously,” Lena tightly replied.

 

            “The last time I saw you, you’d just been in an explosion,” Lillian said, casting her a reproving look, which made Lena sink back into the pillows, a sulky look on her face as she crossed her arms over her chest, resting them on top of the prominent bulge of her stomach.

 

            Clearing her throat, Kara gave Lillian a hesitant smile, “everything is all well, thank you for asking. It, uh, well, it’s partly about the bomb that we asked you to come here. I have some questions that I need answering, and I think you’re the best to do it.”

 

            Letting out a sharp laugh, Lillian arched a slender eyebrow at her, a smug smile curling her lips as she cocked her head to the side. “Not Astra?”

 

            “I’m not sure whether I’d believe what she had to say.”

 

            “You should.”

 

            “So you know who killed my family then?”

 

            Lillian hesitated for a moment, an amused smile curling her lips as humour flickered in her eyes, “no.”

 

            With a quiet huff of frustration, Kara leant forward in her seat, an insistent look on her face. “But you suspect?”

 

            Scoffing, Lillian rolled her eyes. “Of course I suspect, you foolish girl. I suspect a hundred different things. It’s not without calculating shrewdness that I managed to make it to where I am today, or stayed alive. It could’ve quite as easily been my family dead and buried, so of course I had people sniffing around for answers, just in case we were next.”

 

            “And?”

 

            Giving her a searching look, Lillian was quiet for a few moments, tapping her slender fingers on the arm of the sofa as she pursed her lips. Finally, she let out a small sigh, a wry smile on her lips as she gave Kara a hard look. “Why did you think it was me?”

 

            Off to Kara’s left, Lena let out an impatient sigh, making a low sound of frustration at the back of her throat. “Why wouldn’t she? It’s not like you’d be above killing off a whole family to make sure that one child was king and the other a princess with heirs in line for another throne. That would make you one of the most powerful women in the world.”

 

            With a cold laugh, Lillian gave them a sardonic smile. “I already was . What did I have to gain from this? No, it wasn’t me.”

 

            “To kill to give your children the best opportunity in life … that’s not above you,” Kara slowly said, “but you didn’t know that I was going to be queen. That wasn’t in the contract you signed when you sold your daughter off to Krypton. So why?”

 

            “You’re right, I would do anything to give my children the best opportunity in life, as any mother would, and marriage to a princess was a good deal for both parties. Krypton has always been a good ally and it was beneficial to both parties. Of course, I offered up Alexander first, but your mother declined. She didn’t want a future king for her daughter.”

 

            Brow wrinkling in confusion, Kara’s lips tugged down at the corners as she tried to piece it all together. “But … why would someone want the second in line when they could have a king? I mean, I’m glad of it, but my mum couldn’t have known that I would- oh . No. No, no, no. That’s what you suspect?” Her face had gone ghastly white for a moment, before it flushed hot with anger as Kara gave Lillian an accusing look. “You think that my mother orchestrated this?”

 

            Spreading her hands in a helpless gesture, Lillian gave her a grim smile, her smugness more subdued now as she watched Kara try and grapple with what she was implying. “Think. You’re a smart girl.”

 

            Kara open and closed her mouth as she tried to fit the pieces together. If she suspected that Lillian would do anything to put her children on top, then why would her own mother not have done the same? The things that had happened had been a series of events that had put Kara right on the throne, and the contract that her parents had made with Thorul over a decade before that, was made with Lena in mind, not Lex. At that point in time, she was fourth in line to the throne, and a perfectly reasonable distance away to warrant her marrying a king, because the chances of her sitting on her own throne were slim. Yet her mother had refused, and paired her with Lena, who was more likely to sit on the throne of Thorul than Kara had been in Krypton. An uneasy feeling filled her as she fitted things together.

 

            “But … she wouldn’t have killed my dad. She wouldn’t have killed herself .”

 

            “You underestimate what a mother would do for her child. She would’ve had to, to avoid suspicions,” Lillian pragmatically replied, “and who would ever blame you when you’d lost both parents at thirteen, and the rest of your family later on? You were free from suspicion that way. You’re the most powerful woman in Krypton, alongside your Prime Minister. Your mother ensured that for you.”

 

            “No, she wouldn’t-” Kara objected, her eyes prickling with tears as she shook her head. “My mom wasn’t- she was good . She wasn’t … insane. She would never do that. And my dad … he wouldn’t kill his own father, his own brother.”

 

            With a patient look on her face, as if she had all the time in the world to apply reason to Kara’s objections, Lillian gave her a solemn look. “I don’t think your father knew. But your mother … well, she didn’t get where she was through kindness and the good of her heart. Neither did I. We’ve both had to tear down other people to make it to the top. I understand that it’s hard for you, but your mother isn’t the woman you hold in your memories. You were too young to understand but-”

 

            “Don’t be so condescending,” Kara snapped, her voice growing shrill as her heart pounded in her chest. “You’re lying. I know you are.”

 

            The look she received was almost pitying. “If you don’t believe me, then ask your aunt. She would know more than I, and no doubt she’s been carrying out the plans your mother set into motion. Astra knew from the very beginning. Those three dead men were even plucked from your uncle’s army unit.”

 

            “You knew this all along?” Lena growled from the corner.

 

            “I suspected , but again, I was never certain of anything. I tried to lead you in the right direction, giving you what you’d need to find the truth on your own, but I was never sure. At any rate, I never thought you were in any real danger. Astra was obviously trying to keep you in line, following whatever instructions your mother left her with.”

 

            Kara’s mind turned to her conversation with Non a month beforehand, where he said that Astra was only carrying out orders. Could those orders have been the last wishes from her dead mother, left behind to ensure that her daughter didn’t stray from the duty unwillingly thrust upon her. Then came the unbidden memory of the warning Non had relayed for Astra, about how Kara wouldn’t like the truth she uncovered if she kept digging for the truth. A hysterical laugh got stuck in her throat, because if it was true, then Kara very much didn’t like it. Her mind was reeling with the influx of information, courtesy of Lillian, but she wasn’t sure if she should trust the word of her. There were so many things that didn’t make sense. If everything was connected, then Astra was to blame for all of the attempts on her and her family’s life, whether they were intended to be fatal or not. Abruptly climbing to her feet - or as abrupt as she could be with her massive stomach hindering her - Kara set her jaw, a hard look in her eyes as she called out for Lyra.

 

            “Ready my jet, please,” she told the blonde as soon as she appeared in the doorway.

 

            “And where exactly are you going?” Lena asked from her armchair.

 

            Kara turned and paused for a moment, her anger faltering for a moment as she looked at the round face of her wife, one eyebrow arched and a fierce look in her green eyes. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Kara gave her a steady look. “To Daxam.”

 

            Spluttering, Lena pushed herself to her feet, brushing strands of hair out of her face as she pressed one hand against her lower back to steady herself. “Daxam? You can’t bloody fly! We’re supposed to be relaxing, you silly mare. I’m not letting you fly halfway across the world when you’re thirty-four weeks pregnant!”

 

            “I wasn’t asking for permission,” Kara tersely replied, before biting her lip and closing her eyes. She exhaled forcefully and walked over to Lena, reaching out to take her hand as her expression softened. “Sorry. I don’t mean to snap, I just- I have to know.”

 

            “Well call her on the phone!”

 

            “No. I want to look her in the eye and watch as she tells me the truth.”

 

            “Then bring Astra here!” Lena exclaimed, a look of irritation on her face as she scowled at Kara. “You don’t have to go to her to get the answers you want. You’re the queen, you can make her crawl on her knees, begging to give you the answers, if you want. We decided when we came here that this was going to be a way for us to relax-”

 

            Softly sighing, Kara reached out to cup Lena’s face in her warm hand, a pleading look in her blue eyes. “Exactly. And how relaxing is it going to be for you to have a woman you hate in your home?” Lena’s eyes involuntarily flitted to Lillian for a moment, although Kara knew Lena didn’t so much as hate her mother, but wasn’t particularly fond of her company. “How relaxing is it going to be when I’m shouting the house down? She set off a bomb ten yards away from you. I don’t want her in the same country as you, let alone the same house. But she- she loves me, in some warped way I know she truly does, and she won’t hurt me. I’m not due for another six weeks, I’ll be safe, the baby will be fine, and I’ll be back by tonight. Just there and back, and I’ll leave as soon as I have the answers I need.”

 

            She could see the struggle in Lena’s eyes, torn between trying to protect her wife from her own stupidity, and letting Kara find the closure that she needed, and in the end, for all her stubbornness, she sighed in defeat. Reaching up to cup Kara’s face in return, Lena gave her a severe look. “Okay.”

 

            With a wary look on her face, Kara tilted her head to the side, giving Lena a prompting look, “okay?”

 

            “Go and put this to bed,” Lena quietly agreed, “I’m tired of this hanging over us. Find out the truth, smack the old cow for lying to you, and then come back here in one piece. And I swear, if you do something to endanger either yourself or our baby, you won’t need to look far to find out who’s trying to kill you.”

 

            A surprised laugh fell unbidden from Kara’s lips and she nodded earnestly, resting a hand against Lena’s stomach and drawing her in for a kiss. “If I’m not back within fifteen hours, I’ll willingly sign the divorce papers you’ll no doubt be drawing up.”

 

            Lips twitching, Lena fought back a smile and gave her a stern look, although her eyes were dancing with amusement. Resting their foreheads together for a moment, she sighed, her body relaxing beneath Kara’s touch, and Kara found some of the tension fading from her own tense muscles in response.

 

            “I swear to God, Kara,” Lena murmured, “you’re going to be the death of me.”

 

            “Not just yet,” Kara shakily laughed, kissing her on the cheek, “I love you. Please rest while I’m gone. Lay down and play some Mozart for my little peach. I won’t be long, I promise.”

 

            Sighing, Lena pulled back, nodding as her eyes ran over Kara’s face, as if making sure she was sure. Swallowing thickly, she gave Kara’s hand a quick squeeze, before lowering herself back down onto the puffy armchair. “I love you too.”

 

            Turning around, Kara paused for a moment as she took in the sight of Lillian watching them both, seeming a little uncomfortable by the intimacy of the moment, and she gave her a hesitant look. “Thank you for your help.”

 

            Lillian silently nodded, making no move to leave, and Kara walked towards the doorway, her hand lingering on the doorframe as she glanced back over her shoulder, taking in the tense scene before her as mother and daughter sat in awkward silence. Lena met her gaze for a moment, a soft smile curling her lips, and Kara returned it, feeling her heart swell and a forceful kick within. With that last look, she was gone, letting Lyra help her into her coat, while Jess set out a pair of comfortable shoes for her to slip on. With her phone in her pocket, she left the house, the coldness in the air nipping at her exposed skin as she hurried down the steps as quick and as carefully as she could, her protruding stomach giving her a waddle as she carefully picked her way across the cobblestones and into the dark interior of the car. The smell of leather and pine washed over her as she buckled herself in, guards climbing in and surrounding her in uniform blackness, and she settled back against the seat, feeling the car purr to life beneath her.

 

            Passing through the gates, she quickly messaged Lena a reassuring text, and watched as they drove away from the estate. The countryside passed by in a blur, and Kara was thinking about how perfect their morning had been. They’d woken up at the crack of dawn, squeezing into the shower together, barely fitting, and only due to the vast size of it, and then they’d gone downstairs to fluffy Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries, rich coffee steaming on the table. Kara had retired to the sitting room after that, and had barely made it through a chapter of the book when Lillian had intruded and flipped her life on it’s head with tales of her dead mom killing herself and the rest of the House of El. It was a nauseating thought, and Kara just wanted to cry as she thought about it, her eyes furiously burning, although she wouldn’t let herself cry. Not only because she had four guards cramped inside the back of the car with her, but because her pride wouldn’t let her. Not yet. Not even with her hormones raging and muddling her feelings, until she wasn’t sure what to think.

 

            Of all the plane rides she’d ever taken, the one to Daxam felt the longest and most daunting. Even the one after the bomb had gone off in Thorul hadn’t been that unsettling, because at least she’d known that Lena was alive and safe, even if overall it had been worse. But sitting there in the wide leather seat, alone and jittery as she made for her aunt’s house, she couldn’t remember feeling more frightened of the truth before in her life. This wasn’t the answer she had wanted. Her own mother wouldn’t have set this up and killed herself, and left plans for her to be intimidated and scared her into obedience by the only surviving family member she had left. It was sickening to even think of the warm woman who used to read her bedtime stories and hold her when she’d scraped her knee being so cold and cruel.

 

            But the more she thought about it, the more that Kara found that there were little things that fit the picture that Lillian had painted for her, with her parents frequently gone during her childhood, delegating her to her nannies and governesses, and the way that she’d always been pushed to be perfect, taking up respectable pastimes and moulded into the perfect princess for the cameras. When she thought about her childhood, the warmest memories were with the Danvers. Could she have blinded herself to so many of her mother’s faults over the years? Using her death as an excuse to paint her as a saint, looking back on her childhood through rose-tinted glasses. It didn’t sit well with her, and Kara had to make frequent trips to the bathroom to vomit, feeling icy fear coiling in her stomach, her skin turning clammy the nearer they drew to Daxam.

 

            When they finally landed, she was numb as her guards escorted her to the car, sitting stiffly between them, her back ramrod straight and her stomach ballooning out beneath her coat, and she had to stop herself from gouging crescents into her palms with her perfectly manicured nails. Taking shallow breaths to stay calm, she watched the few familiar glimpses of the city flash past, until they came to a stop outside a large manor house. Astra’s Daxam residence. Kara had never visited there - had never needed to - and she was a little apprehensive as she stepped out of the car and made her way up to the door, which had already been opened upon the arrival of the first car of her guards. As quickly as possible, she was ushered up the path and into the inviting hallway of the house.

 

            “Your Majesty,” a young man bowed to her, “Lady Astra is being informed of your presence, she’ll be with you shortly. If you’ll allow me-”

 

            Ignoring his extended hands, waiting to take her coat and no doubt tuck her away in some room until Astra had collected herself enough to meet her after her unannounced arrival, Kara brushed past the man, striding through the house with an almost arrogant air about her, as if she owned the place. Walking through unfamiliar hallways, passing dark mahogany doors and exquisitely painted vases holding neutral arrangements of sweet smelling flowers, gilt mirrors and old oil paintings, Kara opened and closed doors as she went, while the young man followed behind her retinue of guards, calling out polite suggestions that they retire to a sitting room and await her aunt’s arrival. Kara was done waiting, and she finally found the right room, after causing enough fuss to warrant Astra poking her head out into the hallway to see what was going on in her house.

 

            She stepped out into the hallway, eyebrows rising with surprise and then wrinkling in concern as Kara strode straight towards her, looking quite a sight with her forthright pregnancy and flushed face darkened with a scowl. When it was clear that she was coming in, Astra backed into the room and Kara stormed in after her.

 

            “Tell me it isn’t true,” she hotly demanded, her eyes pricking with tears, despite her earlier efforts to stem them. “Tell me my own mother didn’t have my family killed.”

 

            “Kara-”

 

            “Tell me!” she roared, her face red with anger that was slowly disappearing down the collar of her shirt.

 

            “She can’t.”

 

            If it wasn’t for the fact that she was facing Astra, and didn’t see her lips move, Kara would’ve sworn it was her who had spoken, the voice identical in every way, and for a moment, the ridiculous thought of ventriloquism crossed her mind, before she turned around and stared at the woman standing in the corner, evidently having been there the entire time, and most likely been conversing with Astra before Kara rudely barged in. Pausing for a moment, Kara studied the woman’s face, taking in the warm brown curls, the kind brown eyes and rounded face. They were all unfamiliar features, yet there was something eerily familiar about the face, and an icy shiver ran down Kara’s spine as she studied her longer. Those brown eyes were the exact same shape as hers. That nose was her nose, and that forehead and chin too. Feeling as if she was about to pass out, Kara stumbled backwards, the redness fading from her face as a sickly ashy whiteness took its place and she struggled to draw in a breath to speak.

 

            “Mom?”

Chapter Text

            “Kara,” Alura said, her face splitting into an overjoyed smile as she held her arms open to embrace Kara.

 

            But there was something off about her, and Kara didn’t move as she stared numbly at her mother’s face. Except it wasn’t her face. Astra moved to her sister’s side, and Kara stared at the two of them, noting all of the ways they were no longer identical. Before, it had just been the white streak, but now, her mom’s hair was a warmer chocolate brown to her sister’s raven hair, her piercing blue eyes were the colour of caramel with the help of some contacts. Her cheeks weren’t as high and sharp, making her face seem rounder, and that wasn’t the nose Kara had inherited. It was all wrong. If it hadn’t been for her voice, so alike to Astra’s, Kara wouldn’t have spared Alura a second glance, and definitely wouldn’t have realised it was her mother.

 

            “My little girl. Oh , look at you! I’m so proud,” Alura said, taking a step towards her.

 

            Scrambling backwards, Kara cradled her stomach with one hand, her eyes wide with shock as she watched her mother advance. The room suddenly seemed small and stuffy, her breathing ragged and shallow as she tried to make sense of things. Her skin prickled with a cold sweat, her heart hammering in her chest, as the thought of Lillian’s words being true made Kara’s legs buckle. Hands immediately reached for her and she shied away from them, collapsing onto an armchair as she stared at her mom with owlish eyes, her face ashen as the room seemed to sway slightly around her.

 

            “Kara?”

 

            “Don’t,” Kara firmly said, squeezing her eyes shut as she shook her head. “Don’t talk.”

 

            She flinched at the feeling of a warm hand gently resting on her shoulder, slamming back into the cushions of the armchair as she tore herself out of her mother’s grip, a flash of anger racing through her as her eyes shot open. “Do not touch me,” she hoarsely warned her.

 

            Alura’s hand hovered mid-air as she gave her daughter a pleading look, and she slowly withdrew it, wringing both of them nervously in front of her as she lowered herself down onto the edge of the sturdy coffee table, while Astra hung back, a wary look on her face.

 

            “I’ve waited for this moment for years,” Alura quietly continued, her corners of her lips tugging up into a smile as her eyes turned glassy with a film of tears, “you have no idea how much it hurt to be away from you.”

 

            “Don’t I?” Kara stiffly asked, giving her an accusing look as she clenched her teeth, the muscles in her jaw working as she glared at the woman sitting a few feet away. “I thought you were dead . For over fifteen years I thought you were dead, and you’ve just- you’ve been here the whole time! Where’s dad?”

 

            She angrily looked around, waiting for her patient father to appear out of thin air, his calming, solid presence so strong ingrained in Kara’s mind that she was sure he’d be along any moment to placidly explain everything to her. Perhaps she was mistaken in what had really happened. After all, Lillian was just speculating, and she hadn’t even known that Alura was still alive.

 

            “Your father’s dead,” Alura gently told her, breaking the news to her as calmly as if she was telling her that the weather was going to be rainy today.

 

            Wincing slightly as the hope that had flourished inside was quashed by her mother’s words, Kara swallowed the lump in her throat and dipped her head in a quick nod of acknowledgement, telling herself that, objectively, nothing had changed.

 

            “How? How’re you alive and he’s not? Tell me you didn’t- tell me that I’m wrong,” Kara said, her voice cracking as she looked at Alura with fear in her eyes.

 

            She was unbelievably angry that her mom had been in hiding this whole time, but she was praying that it wasn’t because she’d had her husband killed and faked her own death. If it was anything else, any other reason, Kara could forgive her, because it was in her nature to do so, but that was the one thing that would leave her mom dead to her, even if she was very much alive, just out of reach as they faced each other.

 

            “Go on. Tell her,” Astra flatly said, a hard look on her face as she held back, watching the exchange with tense shoulders and her lips pressed into a thin line of disapproval. “There’s no point pretending now. You should’ve let me-”

 

            Turning her head slightly, but not enough to look over her shoulder, Alura’s face hardened and her knuckles turned white on the edge of the coffee table as she gripped it. “It wasn’t up to you,” she stiffly told her sister, her words sharp and dismissive.

 

            “Oh? But it was up to me to terrorise her into doing whatever you asked me to force her to do, like some sick puppet master? Controlling everyone to fulfill your twisted plans,” Astra laughed, the sound hollow and her eyes shining with anger. Her gaze softened for a moment as she turned her attention to Kara. “I’m sorry. I know that I lied to you too, but I didn’t want to hurt you. You were just a child, and-”

 

            Choking on a sob, Kara climbed to her feet, rounding the armchair as she tipped her head back, grasping a handful of her hair as she ran her fingers through it. “Oh God , y-you actually did- you killed dad, all of them,” she said, her voice cracking as her bottom lip trembled.

 

            Her stomach twisted as the sickening truth hit her hard, and she scrambled for the edge of a nearby unit as her knees shook, grabbing a decorative bowl and vomiting into it as she gasped for air. Gentle fingers brushed the back of her neck, feeling cool against her flushes skin, but Kara whirled around, pressing up against the unit as her face contorted into a look of anger. Pushing Alura away, she took a threatening step forward, tears pricking her eyes as she grit her teeth together. Her mouth was dry and she opened and closed it a few times, trying to form a sentence. When her mom took a tentative step back towards her, Kara unfroze slightly and pushed her away again.

 

            “No. Don’t you- you don’t get to touch me,” Kara snarled, pointing a finger at her in warning.

 

            “Kara,” Alura softly said.

 

            The stinging slap caught everyone off guard, and Kara blinked as she stared down at the numbed palm of her hand, before looking up to stare into unfamiliar brown eyes. They were the same shape as hers, but they weren’t hers. Her mom’s cheek was quickly reddening as she stared at her daughter open-mouthed, one hand reaching up to touch her cheek, before she let out a quick laugh.

 

            “You were always such a warm child, so obedient and well mannered, but it looks like you’ve grown a backbone.”

 

            “Stop it,” Kara warned her, a lump forming in her throat as she struggled with the conflicting emotions inside. “You don’t get to talk to me without my permission. You should be on your knees right now.”

 

            “I’m your mother ,” Alura replied, her voice a little stiffer as she lowered her hand and gave her daughter a stern look.

 

            A laugh of surprise fell from Kara’s lips as she blinked. “And I’m a queen. Besides, you gave up any right to call yourself my mother when you abandoned me. Eliza’s been a better mother to me than you ever have. You’re dead to me. I buried you a long time ago. You’re just- you’re nothing. I don’t even know you.”

 

            “Everything I’ve done has been for you.”

 

            “I didn’t ask you to do it for me!” Kara shouted, her face crumpling slightly as a breathless sob got stuck in her throat. “I never wanted this - this life. I’ve nearly lost everything because of it, over and over again. I didn’t want this. Whoever you did it for, it wasn’t me . You’ve only ever done things for yourself!”

 

            “I made you the most powerful woman in the country, and one of the most powerful in the world. You have everything you could ever dream of. That’s something that most people would kill for, and you’re lucky enough to have a mother that did that for you,” Astra sharply replied.

 

            Kara made a choking sound, her voice strangled as she gave her mom a look of repulsed look of disbelief, finding it hard to reconcile this hard, callously cruel woman with the one who put her through ballet lessons, taught her how to sit and walk like a lady, and spoke to her in Kryptonian to ensure that she was properly educated in Krypton’s native language. The woman who stood before her wasn’t that woman, not in looks or personality. She wanted to be sick again. Since taking to the crown, she had become less naive, less trusting and gullible, yet she felt foolish in that moment, finding out that her mother was never the woman she’d thought she was.

 

            “I can’t-”

 

            A knock on the door interrupted what Kara had been about to say, and she whirled around with a hard look of anger on her face, staring at the wood as she tried to compose herself.

 

            “Enter,” she called out, her voice a little too hard, and she watched as Vasquez poked her head inside, looking mildly ruffled as she pushed the door wide open, her eyes trained on Kara.

 

            “Your Majesty,” Vasquez said, lingering uncertainly in the doorway. “It’s the Princess. She’s gone into labour.”

 

            Kara froze for a moment, her brow furrowing in confusion as the words settled in her mind, and then she let out a spluttering sound of surprise. “What? No. She’s not due for another eight weeks. It’s too early.”

 

            “Jess has been calling, Your Majesty. Her water broke a half hour ago.”

 

            Fumbling for her bag, Kara fished out her phone to find a dozen missed calls off Lena, Lillian, Jess, Lyra and Alex, as well as thirty messages. Swearing, she pushed herself to her feet with as much urgency as she could, her heart leaping into her throat as a leaden feeling of worry took hold in her stomach. It was too early. Even she wasn’t due for nearly eight more weeks, and it made her stomach twist sharply at the thought of something being wrong. Even more worrying was the hundreds of miles separating her from Lena, and Kara was overcome with panic as she moved as fast as her waddle would allow her, face pale and hands shaking.

 

            “Get the plane ready,” she breathlessly commanded Vasquez, the woman nodding and ducking back out of the room.

 

            “Kara,” Astra said, her voice full of concern, “let me come with you.”

 

            Slinging her bag over her shoulder, Kara cast her aunt a frosty look, trying to mask the heartbreak she felt inside at the fact that the only family she’d thought she had left had been lying to her the whole time, and she angrily buttoned up her coat over her bulging stomach, the fabric straining to stay closed. “We’re done. If you think that I can forgive you for what you’ve done, just because you were following someone else’s orders, then you’re wrong. You risked my wife and my baby’s life. You’ve lied, and manipulated me for years. I blame you for all of this. Just as much as I blame you.”

 

            Her eyes slid to Alura’s, and a spasm of pain ran across her face. There was a part of her that wanted to cry in relief that her mom was alive, the part of her that was ten years old and idolised the woman she thought her mother was. The other part of her wanted to call in her guards and every cop in the area and take the stranger in front of her into custody for murder, lock her away and let her ruin the reputation of the House of El, but Kara was hesitant to do so on a whim. Conflicted, she paused for a moment, but then thoughts of Lena rushed in and she remembered that she had more pressing matters to attend to at the moment. Without another word, although Alura and Astra both scrambled to talk over each other, trying to reason with her as the followed her to the door, Kara left, a low twinge in her stomach making her wince as she fought back a faint feeling of sickness. She wasn’t sure what she’d come to find out in Daxam, but it hadn't been that . And it was far from over.

 

            “Ma’am,” Vasquez said, giving her a stern nod, before ushering her through the house. It was bright outside, given the fact that Daxam was a few hours behind Ireland, and Kara was led down towards the car, slipping into the cool interior and impatiently waiting for her band of guards to climb in after her. It had never seemed like an inconvenience to have so many guards around, until she was itching to slam the car door and urge the driver towards the airstrip they’d left the jet at. All she wanted in that moment was to be with Lena. The best she could do at the time was return one of the calls, feeling anxious as she fished her phone out of her purse and listened to it ring once before being picked up.

 

            “Kara? Where the bloody hell are you, you dozy cow?!” Lena snapped on the other end.

 

            “Lena,” Kara said, her voice cracking on her name. She drew in a shuddering breath, trying to scramble for something reassuring to say. The car pulled away from the curb with maddening slowness, and Kara had to swallow back an angry comment about the chauffeur's driving as he eased them into traffic.

 

            There was a slight pause on the other end of the phone at the sound of her name, and Lena’s voice was hesitant and laced with worry when she replied. “Are you okay? What hap - oh fuck, that- what happened? Where are you?”

 

            “I’m on my way,” Kara shakily replied, her eyes flooding with tears as she tried to blink them back, “I’ll be there soon. I promise.”

 

            Lena let out a strained laugh. “You’d better be. I swear to God, Kara, if you miss the birth of our child, I’m divorcing you.”

 

            “I’ll be there,” Kara said, trying her best to keep her voice even, “hey, I love you, by the way.”

 

            “Yeah, I love you too, you silly mare,” Lena sighed, “now hurry up. I can’t do this without you.”

 

            She reluctantly hung up as they flew down the highway, teary eyed and trembling all over from the shock of the day. Things were far from how they’d been yesterday, and Kara was trying her best to keep it together, conscious of the four bodyguards crowded in around her as she tried to hold back her tears. They’d be at the airport soon enough, and she’d be on her way to Lena then. There wasn’t much else she could do but sit tight and try and be patient. Trying not to worry would’ve been too much to ask, and she knew that she ought to relax, because the stress wouldn’t be good for her or the baby, but she was rigid in her seat, her knee jiggling with anxiety as the city flashed past them.

 

            It was a six hour flight back to Ireland, and every minute seemed to be an eternity. She spent some of the time pacing back and forth the luxurious confines of the plane, and made a few trips to the toilet to breakdown for a few minutes, trying to hide her red and puffy eyes when she reemerged to her company of guards all trying to awkwardly avert their gaze. When they finally touched down on the tarmac, Kara was on her feet before the engines had even come to a stop, impatiently waiting at the door for them to open. As soon as they did, letting a flood of fresh country air wash over her, the smell of fresh rain and grass hitting her with the welcoming feeling of home, she all but ran down the steps, her giant stomach being the only thing stopping her.

 

            A car was already waiting, and it was another thirty minutes through the picturesque countryside before they neared the hospital. It was a small facility, but the closest one to Lena’s estate, and they’d had their doctors on stand-by since they’d gone to Ireland to wait out the rest of their pregnancies. Kara was relieved that they’d had the foresight to bring them for their check-ups and scans, because at least Lena was with familiar faces while she waited for her wife to get to her. She supposed that Lillian was there too, and was probably getting on Lena’s nerves, but Kara was even grateful for her presence if it meant that she hadn’t left Lena alone to suffer through her worries about going into early labour.

 

            Still, as reassured as she was that Lena wasn’t alone, she was frantic as the car stopped outside the hospital, almost about to climb over Vasquez’s lap if the other woman didn’t exit the car fast enough, and despite her waddle, her bodyguards had to hurry to keep up with her as she walked towards the front doors of the hospital. If the staff at the front desk were surprised at the sight of the frazzled monarch bursting into the reception of the building, they hid it well, and a cheery blonde woman immediately led her down a hallway, towards the ward that had been cleared for Lena’s use, quietly offering her congratulations as Kara walked towards the guards milling around outside the door to the room Lena was being kept in.

 

            “Lena!” Kara exclaimed as she hurried into the room, an anxious look on her pale face as she took in the sight of her wife’s flushed face, the ill-fitting hospital gown covering her as she lay on the bed, her lips pressed into a thin line.

 

            “Kara!” Lena breathlessly exclaimed, sagging slightly as she held a hand out for her, and Kara eagerly made her way over to her, taking her hand in her own and kissing it, before leaning down to kiss her on the forehead. “Thank God .”

 

            With a quiet laugh, Kara brushed a few strands of dark hair out of her face as she gave her a crooked smile, “I told you I was on my way. How’re you feeling?” Her other hand drifted down to press against Lena’s stomach, still smaller than Kara’s, and she felt her stomach lurch with worry. “You shouldn’t be- is- is everything okay? What’s the doctor said? Where’s your mom?”

 

            Letting her head fall back against the pillows, Lena closed her eyes as she slowly breathed out. “She was getting on my bloody nerves, so I sent her to wait somewhere else. The old cow is probably already getting the reporters on the phone. And it was stress. All the bloody stress! The baby is far enough along to be okay, and they- they gave me some hormones to help her lungs when she- it’s too early though.”

 

            Kissing her hand again, Kara lowered herself down onto the edge of the chair that was brought forward for her. “Did they- can they stop it? If it’s too early, sometimes they can stop-”

 

            “No,” Lena said through clenched teeth, her face twisting with pain as she squirmed slightly on the bed, going tense for a few moments, before sagging with relief, breathing heavily as Kara pushed her hair out of her face. “M-my contractions are too close together.”

 

            Turning to look around for one of the nurses she saw lurking around earlier on, giving her an expectant look. “How far apart are they? Can you fetch a doctor please?”

 

            “Ten minutes, Your Majesty,” the woman replied in a thick Irish accent, “we’ve a doctor checking in every thirty minutes. Her Highness is only at three centimetres at the moment.”

 

            It had already been eight hours since her waters had broken, and Lena was looking frantic already, her eyes wide and her face drawn with discomfort, her lips turning down at the corners as she grimaced. There was a cup of water on the cabinet beside the hospital bed, and Kara handed it to her, trying to coerce her into staying hydrated - she was sure they were going to be in for a long night, and it was going to be a hell of a lot worse for Lena.

 

            “I can’t do this,” Lena gasped, her flushed face covered in a sheen of sweat as she shook her head, one hand knotted in the sheets of the bed.

 

            “Hey, it’s okay,” Kara murmured in a soothing tone.

 

            Shaking her head more insistently, Lena let out a shuddering breath through tight lips, “no. No, no. I’m not- I’m not ready to be a mom. I can’t- we should’ve waited longer.”

 

            Smoothing her hair back and wiping at her face, Kara stroked her hot cheek, giving her a reassuring look, even as her own stomach twinged. “I’m not sure it’s something you can be ready for, my love,” Kara shakily laughed. “It’ll all be fine though.”

 

            Lena let out a sharp laugh, her eyebrows rising as she gave Kara a fierce look, “oh yeah? Let’s see if you’re saying the same when - fuck - when you’re pushing a fucking baby out of you in a few weeks.” She let out a strangled sound, blinking back tears as she tensed again. “I’m not ready. I’m not- I’ll ruin her. I don’t know h-how-”

 

            Kara reached out to take her hand, giving it a hard squeeze before pressing a kiss to Lena’s white knuckles. Her eyes were shining with her own tears, and her voice trembled slightly as she spoke, her voice a hoarse whisper. “Listen to me, you are going to be a great mom. I-I know it’s scary, I know it’s a little early, but we … we’ve got this. Think about all of those books you-”

 

            “Those books are shit!” Lena snapped, “how the fuck is paper going to help us with a pissing baby? I-I don’t know how to hold them, or- or how to change a diaper. Those classes were a load of bollocks. I’m going to be my mom , oh God.

 

            “Okay, okay, take a deep breath,” Kara said, giving her hand another squeeze, “you are not your mom. You’re going to love our little peach so much , and that’s what matters. We’re going to give them … everything. We’ll give them everything that we never had. I know you’re going to be a great mom, okay? I know it, because I know you , and you’re perfect to me, and y-you’re always right. So if nothing else, you’re going to be an amazing mother, because you’re too damn stubborn to be wrong. Okay?”

 

            “Okay,” Lena said, her voice hitching slightly as choked on a small sob.

 

---

 

            Hours dragged by after that, the contractions growing closer and closer as Lena cursed her way through the labour pains. Mostly she swore at Kara, blaming her as if she had gotten Lena pregnant, occasionally she was quiet as she tried to steady her breathing and ignore the contractions, her face twisted with silent pain, and the rest of the time she was too busy biting back shouts of pain.

 

            The sun was starting to rise again when she was dilated to seven centimetres, her contractions only a few minutes apart, and dark shadows beneath her and Kara’s eyes spoke of a sleepless night. While Kara was restless and uncomfortable, her lower back aching and her stomach occasionally twinging, it was nothing compared to Lena’s groans of pain between clenched teeth, sweaty and red faced as she writhed on the sheets, twisting them in her white knuckled hands as her chest heaved with the effort. All the while, Kara murmured quiet, soothing things to her, calming her down whenever Lena started to cry, and motivating her whenever she got too tired to carry on.

 

            Given the fact that the baby was almost eight weeks early, she was monitored closely, a close eye kept on the baby’s heart rate in case it went into distress, and with everything as well as could be expected for a premature baby, they were content to let Lena wait it out. She was hooked up with so many wires that Kara was afraid to touch her, going only as far as letting her wife squeeze the life out of her hand, or touching her back when Lena made a few laps around the closed off ward to try and speed things along. The rest of the time, she was on the bed, given gas and air as she breathed through her contractions.

 

            It was almost a relief when she made it to ten centimetres, aside from the crying and the shouting, and Kara was right beside her the whole time, tired to her very bones and very sympathetic towards her wife’s plight.

 

            “You have to push now, Your Highness.”

 

            “No! I can’t. It’s not time for her to come out yet.”

 

            “She’s ready,” the midwife soothingly said, sitting at the end of the bed.

 

            Adamantly shaking her head, a stubborn look on her red face, Lena looked at the midwife with a look of panic over the top of her knees. “No, it’s too early. She can’t-”

 

            Rising to her feet, Kara dropped Lena’s hand to reach out and grab her face in her hands, giving her wife an urgent look. “Lena, you have to, okay? It’s just a little while longer, and then it’ll all be over.”

 

            “I’m so tired, Kara,” she croaked, laying back against the pillows with her eyelids fluttering closed.

 

            “I know, darling,” Kara murmured, leaning down to rest her forehead against Lena’s, her fingers gently cradling her hot cheeks. “You can do it though. Just a few pushes and our little peach will be here.”

 

            Lena let out a muffled sob as she clenched her teeth, her lips pressed into a thin line, making her lips go white, and a groan of pain steadily grew louder as her face twisted with pain, her eyes screwed shut, dark strands of hair sticking to her forehead as she grabbed at Kara’s arm. Kara’s cheeks were wet with her own tears as she urged her wife on, her heart hammering in her chest as she watched with wide eyes, equal parts excited and worried, holding onto Lena as much as Lena was holding onto her. It was a few minutes of pushing before there were a few exclamations of relief and happiness, followed by the soft squawking sound of a baby crying.

 

            Feeling pale and weak with relief, Kara let out a delighted laugh, looking down at Lena, who had sank back against the pillows, all of the fight fading out of her for the time being, and she gave her a teary smile, cupping her face in her hands as hot tears ran down her cheeks. At the sound of the baby crying, Lena gave her a tired smile, her own cheeks wet with tears as her chest rapidly rose and fell. They were given a few moments to themselves while the umbilical cord was clamped and cut, casting expectant looks towards the trio at the end of the bed as they waited for a glimpse of their daughter. Kissing her on the forehead, and then raising their clasped hands to pepper the back of Lena’s with soft kisses, Kara laughed again, looking over to where the doctors, nurses and midwife were bustling about, making sure the baby was okay, given the fact that she was nearly two months too early.

 

            “Congratulations, Your Majesty, Your Highness,” the doctor said, “you have a daughter. Five pounds and two ounces.”

 

            Kara squeezed Lena’s hand, exchanging a proud look with her as they watched the doctor hand the baby off to one of the pediatricians present. A flicker of panic ran across Kara’s face as she watched them lower the tiny baby into an incubator, taking note of the jet black hair and pale skin covered with blood, and a nurse started to wheel it towards the door with a few other medical personnel in tow.

 

            “Wha- where are you taking her?” Lena rasped, pushing herself up on the bed as Kara took a step towards the incubator their daughter had just been laid in.

 

            With an apologetic look, their doctor gave them both a grim smile, while the midwife waited at the foot of the bed. “Forgive me, Your Highness, but your daughter needs to be given a proper check up. She’s a healthy weight, given the premature nature of her birth, but there can be … issues with the lungs and heart at this stage of development. You’ll get to see your daughter very soon.”

 

            Lena let out a hitching breath, and Kara drifted closer to her bed again, her eyes locked onto the incubator as it was wheeled out of the room. Her guards were already under orders to accompany the baby, having been briefed on their birth plan weeks ago, and Kara trusted that they’d protect her heir. At that moment, as much as she wanted to hold her baby girl, she had to be with Lena, knowing that there was nothing she could do, and she stood at the bedside, holding her hand as Lena was gently coaxed through pushing out the placenta. Her face was glistening with sweat as she cleaned up afterwards, the room startling empty after the claustrophobic crowdedness of it only minutes before, and Kara felt woozy where she stood, partly relieved and partly anxious as she stared down at her wife.

 

            “You did it,” Kara softly told her, her voice wobbling as she cracked a smile, looking down at Lena in loving awe.

 

            “We have a daughter,” Lena breathlessly said, letting out a weak laugh, “an heir.”

 

            “I love you so much.”

 

            They were both laughing and speaking in quiet voices, feeling elated and excited, despite their exhaustion, when the doctor interrupted, eyes gently reassuring, but laced with panic as she stared at Kara.

 

            “Your Majesty,” the doctor quietly said, “you’re bleeding.”

Chapter Text

            At the doctor’s words, Kara looked down with a mild look of surprise on her face, trying to see past her stomach to see, without any luck. Feeling a little faint, she looked at Lena, who was staring at her crotch with wide eyes, her face pale, and Kara was struck by the thought that this was bad. Pressing a hand against her stomach, earning no reassuring kick in response, she felt a flicker of panic deep inside. “Oh.”

 

            She didn’t even have time to move before the doctor had summoned a flood of people, a gurney being wheeled in, and before she knew it, she was being helped onto it, her mouth dry with fear as she looked at Lena. As their eyes met, it seemed to snap her wife out of her still shock, and Lena swung her legs over the side of the bed, her feet finding the freezing cold floor and her legs buckling as a wave of exhaustion swept over her. “Where are you taking her?” she asked, a firm demand as opposed to a question.

 

            “Your Highness, you need to get back into bed,” their doctor calmly ordered, leaving Kara’s side to go to her, gently trying to guide her back onto the bed. “Her Majesty is possibly in labour.”

 

            Spluttering, Kara pushed herself up onto her elbows, already being wheeled out of the room, despite Lena’s loud protests behind her, and Kara suddenly felt even more afraid as the thought of being alone through it swept over her. Her water hadn't even broken, and she hadn't been having contractions, just a lot of lower back pain and a few painful twinges, and she felt icy fear slide down her spine at the thought of losing her baby. She wanted Lena by her side, and she let out a breathless sob as a nurse firmly pushed her back down flat onto the thin mattress on the gurney. She was taken to another room, a flurry of activity around her as everyone essentially ignored her for the most part. Monitors were hooked up, her rapid heart rate visible on a small screen, while she was hooked up to an IV. She didn’t care about any of that, she only cared about her baby.

 

            “My baby,” she managed to choke out, her voice hoarse and barely above a whisper.

 

            Her shirt was tore open, exposing her stomach, and Kara had to swallow her pride as her pants were removed as well, shivering at the cold gel being squirted onto the stretched skin as an ultrasound monitor was brought forward.

 

            “Baby’s heart rate is fast,” a doctor announced to the room, but Kara was just relieved that there was a heartbeat. “It looks like … a complete placental abruption. We need to prep for a cesarean, immediately.”

 

            “N-no,” Kara stammered, feeling the blood drain from her face, “no, I don’t want-”

 

            A face loomed over her, a kind smile on the man’s face, “Your Majesty, your baby is in distress and you’re bleeding severely. There’s no time for you to give birth - for you and your baby’s safety.”

 

            “It’s too early,” she tearfully replied, her voice shaking as she tried to breathe slowly. “Can’t you s-stop-”

 

            “I’m afraid not. It’s the safest course for a healthy delivery. We shouldn’t delay any longer …”

 

            Nodding, Kara swallowed the lump in her throat, blinking back tears as she stared up at the blinding fluorescent lights overhead. “Okay.”

 

            As soon as she’d given her consent, the room was a flurry of activity again. An anesthesiologist appeared, giving her an injection in her spine that numbed her entire body from the chest down. Next, she was given something to drink, the chalky substance making her scrunch up her face as she drained it as ordered, before she had a catheter inserted. At that point, she gave up any pretense of pride, letting herself be wheeled to the operating room, where a curtain was pulled across her mid-section to block her view. It was both a relief and unnerving, but Kara assumed that she wouldn’t want to watch it anyway.

 

            A commotion near the doors caught her attention, and she craned her neck as best as she could, trying to look past the collection of medical personnel in the room. And then she caught sight of Lena, looking pale and exhausted, sitting in a wheelchair with a pair of scrubs on. She couldn’t help the sob that fell from her lips as she watched her wife get wheeled towards her, and Lena gave her a tearful smile.

 

            “It’s going to be fine,” she told her in a shaky voice, reaching up to take Kara’s hand in her own, just like Kara had done for her. “I love you.”

 

            “I know,” Kara said, her voice cracking slightly.

 

            She looked at Lena the whole time, not having much else to look at anyway, while she strained her ears to listen. Aside from the blur of voices, there wasn’t much to listen to, and with a sharp pinching feeling, she realised that they’d cut her open. It was an odd feeling, and odder still, as she felt herself being prodded, although it was completely painless.

 

            Before she knew it, there was the soft whimpering of a baby, and she hesitantly smiled at Lena, letting out a shaky laugh. She didn’t even catch sight of her daughter, before she was whisked away to the other side of the room, being cleaned up and checked over, and she swallowed the lump in her throat. There was an audible feeling of relief when the baby was declared perfectly healthy, the doctors and nurses smiling, and their obstetrician walked towards her with a little bundle cradled in her arms.

 

            “Congratulations, you have another healthy daughter,” she said, leaning down to place the baby against Kara’s chest. “Five pounds, eight ounces.”

 

            She couldn’t stop the strangled sob that worked its way up her throat, her hand coming up to cradle the shock of dark hair, just like her sister’s, and Kara shook with laughter, turning to look at Lena, who had shakily climbed to her feet, reaching out to stroke the baby’s cheek.

 

            “Our little pea,” she whispered in awe, her face splitting into a wide smile as her eyes shone with proud tears. “She’s perfect.”

 

            Ushered back down into her wheelchair, Lena cried as the baby was lifted off Kara and briefly placed in her arms, giving her a moment with her daughter, that she hadn’t had with her other one. It made Kara’s heart flutter to watch Lena gently cradle the baby against her scrubs, a soft, loving look on her face as she stroked their daughter’s cheek. And then it hit her that she had a daughter . Two of them. It was a surreal moment, with everything having happened so fast, and the exhaustion slammed into her, her eyes dragging open as she forced herself to stay awake.

 

            The baby was taken then, placed into an incubator and whisked away, no doubt to join her sister, and Kara’s doctor was back to stitch Kara up. It was a slow procedure, with the dissolving stitches taking longer to close Kara back up, and afterwards, she was given a few moments with Lena, her wife resting her forehead against Kara’s, both of them looking ridiculously tired in their scrub caps, and they cried as they quietly marveled over the fact that they had two daughters. She was shaking all over, and felt a little bit nauseous, and was soon taken to a recovery room, hooked up with a heart and oxygen saturation monitor, where she stayed for half an hour as the feeling slowly returned to her legs, bit by bit. Her skin also started to itch a little as the anesthesia wore off, but she was too tired to care, dozing lightly, before she was taken to a private room.

 

            Lena was in the room too, propped up in her bed as Kara was wheeled in and took her place beside her, and Kara’s tiredness vanished of the sight of Lena holding a little wrapped bundle in her arms. She beamed at Kara, every inch the proud mother, even if her dark rimmed eyes were a little apprehensive. “Our little peach,” she said. “Our little Crown Princess.”

 

            As soon as Kara was settled in her bed, a nurse took the baby from Lena’s offering arms and placed her in Kara’s. She stared down at the baby with adoration on her face, taking in the smaller size of her compared to her sister, and smiled as she took in the blue eyes. Her eyes. Her stomach twisted uncomfortably at that, as thoughts of her mother crashed down on her.

 

            “So … which one is Lirael and which one is Alura?” Lena asked, a playful smile on her face as she raised her eyebrows expectantly.

 

            “No,” Kara sharply replied, blanching slightly at the sound of her mother’s name. They were planning on naming one of them after her, knowing that it would be expected of them, but that was before she’d found out who her mother really was.

 

            “Wha-” Lena mumbled, a confused look crossing her face as she took in the stiff look of anger on her wife’s face, “oh … it’s true.”

 

            Shaking her head, Kara held her daughter out to the nurse, her heart twinging slightly at the sight of her, and let her be placed back in her incubator and wheeled out of the room. They were left alone then, and Kara sank back against the pillows, tilting her head back slightly as she let out a shaky breath.

 

            “Kara?”

 

            Lena’s voice was gentle, and just the sound of her name held so much love coming from her lips, and Kara promptly burst into tears, her shoulders shaking as she pressed the heels of her palms into her eyes. The sound of movement made her drop them, turning to watch her wife struggle out of bed, and Kara gulped down a lungful of air as she shook her head.

 

            “No, no, get back into bed, Lena,” Kara thickly ordered her, “you need to rest.”

 

            “Move over, you stupid cow,” Lena said, dragging her monitor and IV stand with her. Her tone was brisk and the hard look on her face broached no argument, and Kara gingerly shuffled over on the wide bed, watching Lena awkwardly scramble onto the mattress. “Fuck me, that’s going to burn for a while. I swear, if I hadn’t held them both in my arms and had them wrap me around their little fingers, I’d be so pissed.”

 

            Kara let out a weak laugh at Lena’s grumbling, letting her head loll to the side, resting on Lena’s shoulder as soon as her wife was comfortable and their wires were all safe from accidentally being pulled out. They were silent for a few moments, and Kara blinked back the gritty feeling in her eyes as she wiped at her face with trembling fingers.

 

            “Come on,” Lena gently prompted her, “what happened?”

 

            “My mother’s alive,” Kara said, her voice cracking as she drew in a shuddering breath, exhaling completely as she sagged into the thin mattress.

 

            “You- what?!”

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Kara wiped at the salty tracks left on her cheeks. “Your mom was right. She did it.” And then Kara let out a halting laugh, until she was laughing uncontrollably, possibly due to shock. “Can you believe I blamed your mom for being a power hungry, murderous bitch, when she looks like a fucking saint compared to mine.”

 

            Her voice had taken on a bitter edge, and Lena stroked her arm, her lips warm against Kara’s forehead as she kissed her softly. They were both sweaty and sore, tired and somewhat relieved, but none of it mattered as Lena held her as close as she could.

 

            “It’s okay,” Lena murmured, “we’ll … sort this out.”

 

            “How?”

 

            Pausing for a moment, Lena let our a weary sigh, “I have no bloody clue, to be honest with you, love. All I know is that Eliza is your mom, and she’s waiting outside to see her granddaughter’s, and that woman will never come within two miles of them. We’ll talk about this more later, but for now, you need to rest. You just had a major surgery.”

 

            Sighing, Kara burrowed her face into Lena’s shoulder, closing her eyes as she breathed slowly for a few moments. They were disturbed not too long later by their doctor. She came to assure them that both babies were well, given the preterm nature of their births, born thirty minutes apart and both strong. Their little peach was slightly more underdeveloped than her sister, born two weeks earlier than her, but with the hormones Lena had been given in labour, her lungs were strong, strong enough for her not to need the oxygen they were still giving them both as a precaution. Despite the placental abruption, attributed to stress, as well as Kara’s condition that had made it so hard for her to even get pregnant, their pea was fine too, a healthy birth weight for one born six weeks early, with strong longs apparently.

 

            It was a relief to be able to relax, knowing that all four of them were safe, and as they listened to the doctor explain, gently helping escort Lena back into her own bed, a weight was lifted off their shoulders. When they were finally left alone to rest, after another check up, and some morphine for Kara, they were both content to lay there in silence, their bodies all but useless as the sun sank lower outside the drawn blinds of the window. They weren't allowed any visitors for that day, and although Kara was a little disappointed that she didn't get to proudly show off her new daughter's to her family, she knew that she was too tired to carry much of a conversation with them anyway. She could barely keep her eyes open as it was.

 

            “I’d like to name her after Eliza, if that’s okay with you,” Kara said after a long while, unsure if Lena was actually asleep, or just lost in her thoughts.

 

            “Hm?”

 

            “We agreed to name one after my mom, so I want to name her after Eliza.”

 

            Lena’s head turned towards her, and she gave her a tired smile. “Elizabeth?”

 

            Letting out a quiet laugh, Kara shook her head, “no, we decided nothing too traditional, remember? I was- well, I thought perhaps Eilis. It’s a form of Eliza, or Elizabeth, or whatever, but it’s also Irish. Irish and Kryptonian, for both of our homes.”

 

            They were silent for a moment, and then Lena’s face split into a smile, her eyes sparkling with tears. “Eilis and Lirael. I like it.”

 

            “I love you.”

 

            “I love you too,” Lena quietly chuckled, “now, get some sleep. I can’t imagine we’ll be getting any for a while.”

 

            Letting out a quick laugh, Kara let out a sigh of content, thinking about the two dark haired babies and the pair of blue eyes just like hers. It all felt surreal, and too perfect, and she slipped into sleep thinking about their little family. It was far from how she’d thought it would happen - the whole entire pregnancy from start to finish - but now that they were both here, and the four of them were okay, it all felt suddenly right. Although she’d only had two brief moments with each of them, they’d already taken hold in her heart, and it was strange to have lost the feeling of her daughter squirming around inside her stomach, but stranger still to have been able to hold them. When she was finally dragged into sleep, going willingly as the exhaustion of the past two days caught up with her, her last glimpse of the room was her already fast asleep wife, and she fell asleep with the ghost of a smile on her lips. She didn’t think she’d ever loved her more.

Chapter Text

            Despite their desire to sleep for a week, both of them were woken up only a few hours after drifting off to sleep, two nurses coming in to check on them and, more importantly, check and see if their milk had come in. With the babies born early, neither of them were able to express anything, and they soon found themselves struggling to keep their eyes open, murmuring vague nonsense to each other as two incubators were wheeled in and they were each handed a small bundle and a bottle. With some awkwardness, they were coached through the correct way to hold the bottles, half asleep as the babies sucked on the bottles with only slight difficulty, given the fact that they were premature. Cradling the warm bundle against her chest, Kara felt a warm flicker stir within her, and she couldn’t help but feel surprised at how quickly both babies had managed to wrap her around their little fingers. The strength of her love for them both was only rivaled by her love for Lena.

 

            All too soon for her liking, the swaddled baby was removed from her arms and gently placed back inside the incubator, despite Kara’s anxious wish to have them both stay in her and Lena’s room. Instead, she listened to the wheels squeak on the linoleum as the baby was wheeled out, followed by the second incubator as Lena relinquished her hold on the other baby. The bottles were taken off them, the lights switched out, and Kara was halfway through forming a sentence when she drifted back to sleep, her few hours of sleep not having made a dent in her exhaustion. She was asleep before she could even be sure the door had shut behind the nurses.

 

            It was light the next time her eyelids fluttered open, and her head lolled to the side to find Lena propped up on a pile of pillows, two dark-haired bundles sleeping in her arms as she studied their faces. At the sound of rustling blankets, Lena’s head whipped around to face her, and Kara winced as she gingerly pushed herself upright, the stitches across her stomach pulling beneath the bandages. The shared a smile as Kara rubbed at her tired eyes, feeling hot and bloated, and still tired, although the feeling in her limbs gave her the impression she’d been asleep for a while.

 

            “Morning,” she mumbled, stretching and blinking back the last vestiges of sleep. “What time is it?”

 

            “Good morning, darling,” Lena warmly replied, clearly in a good mood, “it’s ten o’clock. They brought the babies in an hour ago for feeding. You looked so peaceful that I didn’t want them to disturb you.”

 

            “Mm. Are they okay? How’re you feeling?”

 

            Lena let out a quiet laugh, looking back down at the babies cradled in the crook of each elbow. “They’ve been sleeping the whole time. Haven’t so much as cried, so the doctor said I could keep them for a while. I’m feeling … more myself. I imagine more so when I get to wash my hair and have a shower. I probably smell bloody awful.”

 

            Laughing, Kara quietly groaned as she flopped back against her pillows. “God, I could kill for a nice bath. And a strong cup of coffee. Three coffees. Ugh, I want everything I haven’t been able to have for the past year. Camembert cheese! And sushi, and salami. And you can finally have that bottle of scotch I promised you.”

 

            Letting out a withering sigh, Lena gave her a wry smile. “Thank you, darling, but I won’t be doing much drinking for a while. Can’t be getting pissed up and breastfeeding. Assuming I actually do , if my bloody milk decides to come in. Although, I probably shouldn’t complain yet; it’s supposed to hurt like a bitch. Then again, after pushing a whole fucking baby out of me, everything else should be a breeze, right?”

 

            “Excuse me, I’ll not have you being a bad influence on my daughter’s before they’re even a day old,” Kara laughed.

 

            “Do you want to hold them?” Lena asked, a tender look softening her face as she looked at Kara. As much as she was enjoying the sight of Lena with their daughter’s in her arms, Kara was eager to hold them herself, having had so little time with them as of yet, and Lena carefully slipped out of bed, her hospital gown riding up as her feet touched the cold floor.

 

            “I’ll just take one,” Kara said, a little nervous about managing an armful, and she paused for a moment. “Which one is our pea?”

 

            Lena carefully handed off the slightly bigger bundle, placing a gentle kiss on Kara’s forehead, before she tenderly stroked the baby’s face. “This one. We really ought to get onto naming them. We can’t keep calling them peach and pea.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Kara gave her an amused look, watching as Lena climbed back into bed, wincing slightly with the soreness of the movement as she tried not to jostle the baby. “I suppose it’s just a matter of picking which name suits which baby best.”

 

            She looked down at the baby, jumping slightly in surprise as she found her eyes open, staring curiously up at Kara. In the dim sunlight worming its way through the blinds, Kara watched as her daughter slowly blinked, her small puckered lips stretching open in a yawn as she screwed her face up, and then stared up at her again.

 

            “Oh, look … her eyes ,” Kara said with surprise, her eyes widening slightly as she stared down at the two eyes peering up at her. One was the same piercing blue as Kara’s, and her sister’s, except the left one was as green as Lena’s eyes. It was striking in the tiny face looking straight up at her, and Kara smiled as she traced the baby’s round cheek.

 

            Craning her neck as she tried to look from her own bed, Lena frowned slightly. “What? What colour are they?”

 

            “Blue and green.”

 

            “Oh, like a mix of both of ours,” Lena beamed at her.

 

            Shaking her head, Kara smiled as she carefully cupped the baby’s head in her palm, holding her up in front of her to study her face better. “No. One like mine and one like yours. One of each.”

 

            “Heterochromia?” Lena asked, blinking in surprise.

 

            Nodding, Kara turned to give her a smile. “This one,” she said with surety, “this is Lirael.”

 

            Lena smiled as she stroked the cheek of the baby she was cradling in her arms. “And this is Eilis.”

 

            There was a sense of satisfaction as they came to an agreement on which baby was which, after so long of referring to them as peach and pea, and they shared a smile as a feeling of rightness hit home. Reveling in the feeling of their perfect little family, they quietly talked while the babies drifted in and out of sleep, until the nurses returned and the babies were taken back to the NICU. They were staying in hospital for a few days, and Kara and Lena were being kept there with them, a matter of convenience for everyone involved.

 

            Once the babies were taken away again, they both finally ventured out of bed. The tiny bathroom connected to their room offered a spacious shower stall, made to accomodate wheelchair access, and Kara gingerly held onto the rail along the tiled wall as she showered, the hot water a blessing as she washed off the antiseptic smell of the hospital with the expensive soap Lyra or Jess had packed for her. Even more satisfying was washing her hair, the familiar vanilla smell of her shampoo helping her feel more herself, and by the time she climbed out from under the hot water, turning it off and using one of the thick towels that had been packed for her to quickly dry herself off. Her stomach was still protruding, and it was a strange feeling to not feel the heavy weight of her baby moving around inside after living with that sensation for so long, but Kara found herself feeling more like her old self again.

 

            Changing into one of the cotton nightdresses in her overnight bag, she slipped a soft dressing gown on over the top and shoved her feet into her slippers. Brushing her teeth and drying off her damp hair brought back some of the normalness to Kara’s life, and she emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of expensive perfume and sweet moisturiser, a stark contrast to the shuffling, grimy feeling woman who had entered it half an hour before. She’d let Lena use the bathroom before her, and she shared a knowing smile with her wife, taking in her soft blow dried dark hair and fresh pyjamas that Lena was wearing, noticing how much more refreshed she was looking, despite the shadows beneath her eyes.

 

            Jess was there, and she dipped into a curtsy at Kara’s entrance, quickly volunteering to blow dry her hair for her. Settling herself down onto the edge of her bed, Kara let their assistant pamper her for a few moments, her limbs aching and her stomach throbbing slightly with a dull pain from her surgery. While Jess worked her magic on taming Kara’s damp hair, Lyra arrived with two covered silver trays, courtesy of their private chef, who had taken it upon herself to deliver their meals to the hospital, cooked in a food truck parked outside in the parking lot. The smell of fresh food, that wasn’t the standard rubbery scrambled eggs and dry toast of the hospital fare Kara had seen before, made her stomach rumble, and she was quick to devour the bacon and soft poached eggs delicately placed over buttered English muffins and covered in hollandaise sauce. Washing it down with fresh orange juice and two cups of tea, Kara obediently swallowed the two painkillers a nurse brought her, and allowed her doctor to exam her and make notes on her chart.

 

            She could’ve done with a few more hours of sleep, and Lena looked just as tired, if not more so after a long labour, but they had kept their family and friends waiting long enough. With politely phrased orders to have their daughters brought to their room, they were handed one each, and the door to their room opened to permit wary looking visitors. As they watched, Alex and Eliza entered the room, dipping into shallow curtsies before approaching Kara’s bed, which was nearest to the door.

 

            “Hi,” Kara said in a hushed tone, giving them both a tired smile.

 

            “Congratulations,” Alex said, an eager look on her face as she peered down at the baby bundled up in Kara’s arms. Her eyes flickered over to Lena’s, and she watched as Eliza walked over to her, showing just as much excitement and fuss over her too. “She’s perfect.”

 

            “May I present Her Royal Highness, Eilis Alexandra Lillian Nyssa Marie Luthor, Crown Princess of the House of El,” Lena said with delight, her eyes sparkling with pride as she handed the little bundle over to the excited grandmother.

 

            Kara let out a quick laugh, before relinquishing her hold on her own daughter. “And this is Her Royal Highness, Lirael Samantha Elizabeth Lyta Alura Luthor, Princess of the House of El.”

 

            “Quite a mouthful,” Alex quipped, although the smile curling her lips was one of genuine delight. “You’re naming them both as Luthor? And they’re both having Marie for you, I suppose?”

 

            “They’re as much a part of House Luthor as House El, so it’s only fair. It’ll be a sort of … surname, I suppose, even though we don't technically have one,” Kara shrugged, “kind of like how I used Danvers when I was a child.”

 

            Alex nodded, before arching an eyebrow as her eyes slid over to Lena, “and does your mother know that? She might think you’re after your brother’s crown.”

 

            Scoffing, Lena rolled her eyes, “I’m sure she’ll have something to say about it, although she might be pleased about it too. God knows that insufferable woman loves a bit of gossip to flatter herself with more attention. Where is the old cow anyway? I’m surprised she hasn’t barged in yet.”

 

            “She’s at the house she’s staying in,” Eliza murmured, staring down at her granddaughter’s tiny face as she gently swayed with her in her arms, already enamoured with her, by the look of things. “I’m sure she would’ve demanded to be shown in first otherwise, as deference to the crown.”

 

            “I’m surprised you named one after her,” Alex commented.

 

            “An old promise,” Lena waved aside the comment, “now, how about you hand over Lirael to your mom and meet your goddaughter.” She laughed at the happy smile that crossed Alex’s face, handing the baby off to Kara in order for her to accept the slightly smaller bundle off Eliza. Kara gazed down at Eilis’ face for a moment, before handing her off to Alex.

 

            They all cooed over the babies for a few minutes, while Kara and Lena wearily answered questions about the birth, making disgruntled comments about the whole situation, and making dry remarks about how of course they would both be incapable of even having easy pregnancies and labours. During that time, Sam arrived, smiling excitedly as she slipped into the room, offering quiet congratulations, before she walked over to Alex to fawn over the tiny swaddled infant in her arms. They repeated the introductions, and Sam was prompted to hold her goddaughter by a smug looking Lena, repeating the same answers to all of Sam’s questions that they’d given to Alex and Eliza.

 

            “They’re so tiny,” Sam whispered, “you should’ve seen Ruby when she came out. I swear she was the size of both of these put together.”

 

            “Well, personally, I’m quite glad,” Lena said, looking mildly horrified at the thought of pushing a baby bigger than she had out of her. “The doctor said they’re both quite well developed, given the circumstances too. No health problems. They didn’t even need breathing tubes, but they thought it would be good to, as a precaution.”

 

            “They’re perfect,” Eliza softly said.

 

            “Eilis means Elizabeth in Irish, you know,” Kara tiredly told her, watching as surprise flickered across her adoptive mother’s face. Eliza seemed to deflate slightly, her eyes shining with tears as she was overcome with emotion. “I was going to name her after-” Kara ground her teeth together for a moment, trying to keep her voice steady, “after my mom, but then … you’re more of a mother to me.”

 

            Eliza nodded slightly, a wary look on her face as she gave Kara a small smile. “I was wondering- I thought you’d follow tradition and name one of them after family members that had passed.”

 

            “No,” Kara flatly replied, feeling her stomach involuntarily clench as she was assaulted by memories of her mother.

 

            “Is everything okay?” Alex asked, her eyebrows rising slightly in surprise as she gave her sister a mild look of concern.

 

            Letting out a shaky breath, Kara blinked back tears as she shook her head. “No. No, not really. There’s something I have to tell you. You especially, Eliza. And I need your promises that you’ll never tell a soul. This never reaches anyone else’s ears.”

 

            They all firmly agreed, although they looked a little alarmed at the severity of Kara’s tone and the insistence that they all swear that they would keep it to themselves, under punishment of treason. It would’ve almost been laughable, if her and Lena both hadn’t looked so grave. It clearly wasn’t a laughing matter, and silence blanketed the room as Kara haltingly explained what had transpired on her trip to Daxam. It helped answer everyone’s questions about why she had decided to take a quick trip halfway across the world at eight months pregnant, because they all knew that a social visit to Astra alone wouldn’t have warranted the time or effort on Kara’s behalf. When she was finished explaining though, they all sat in stunned silence, none more so than Eliza though, who had been Alura’s closest friend in life, and had been entrusted to raise her daughter upon her death. It was shocking for her to hear that her old friend had abandoned her daughter to her, and had been living a life of secret luxury a country away the entire time. Kara wasn’t sure if there were any words of comfort she could offer Eliza - she still hadn’t been able to find any for herself either - and the silence stretched on for a few minutes, the babies quietly sleeping while the adults all dwelled on what Kara had told them.

 

            “What’re you going to do?” Alex eventually asked, a pitying look in her eyes as she looked at Kara with concern.

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Kara shrugged half heartedly. “I don’t know,” she whispered. “I just- I guess it’s a relief to know that my children are safe. That no one is trying to hurt them. But otherwise … I don’t know. I always said that after the whole contract thing, if my parents were alive, I’d be able to forgive them for putting me through that. For signing me off to someone else. But this … I can’t forgive her for this. But I can’t bring myself to let her rot in a prison cell for the rest of her life. She deserves it, but I can’t- for the sake of my family, and what that kind of publicity would bring, I couldn’t do it.”

 

            “It’s okay,” Eliza soothingly replied, handing off Eilis to Sam as she stood up from the seat she’d been occupying, going over to Kara’s bed and perching on the edge as her maternal instincts kicked in. Stroking her daughter’s hair, she wrapped an arm around Kara’s shoulders, while Kara let out a shuddering breath, feeling hollow and tired. “You’re safe, and you have two beautiful daughters. That’s all that you need to concern yourself with at the moment.”

 

            “Right.”

 

            The door opened and Lillian swept in with an air of superiority, her eyebrows rising slightly in surprise at the cluster of women gathered around the two new mom’s. Everyone paused for a moment, looking at her with thinly veiled wariness, before she met her daughter’s eyes and gave her a sharp smile. “Well, isn’t this quite the party. Congratulations. Now, let me get a look at my granddaughters.”

 

            With some reluctance, Alex handed over Lirael, giving Lena an apologetic look as they played a series of pass the parcel with the sleeping infants, and Lillian eyed the baby with something that almost looked like affection, before handing her back to Alex, and holding her arms out for Sam to hand over Eilis. She gave her a one over with the same mild warmth, as close to tenderness as any of them had seen the Queen of Thorul come to, before she handed her back to Sam too.

 

            “Their names?”

 

            “Eilis and Lirael. They both bear your house’s name, and the Crown Princess has your name too.”

 

            Giving Kara a curt nod, Lillian glanced at Lena. “And Lex will be godfather to one of them.”

 

            “Yes. As promised,” Lena brusquely replied.

 

            “Good. I’m staying at an estate not too far from here. It belongs to an old acquaintance of your father. I’ll come by tomorrow.”

 

            Lena didn’t reply, and Kara hesitantly thanked Lillian for stopping by, before the Queen Mother disappeared just as quickly as she’d come, having stayed for barely five minutes. It was a small mercy for which Lena was grateful for, but Kara suspected that Lillian was going to prove more of a nuisance than either of them would like. She couldn’t blame her for wanting to show some interest in her granddaughter’s lives though, even if it was bothersome meddling, because at least she wasn’t the cold hearted sociopath Kara had tried to accuse her of being. She’d found her opinion of Lena’s mother had warmed somewhat of late, coincidentally coinciding with her newfound shock at her own mother’s horrific acts of terror. A meddling, power hungry woman paled in comparison to a murderer. Still, the relief from both her and Lena was almost palpable as soon as the door clicked closed behind Lillian.

 

            They were given another fifteen minutes with their visitors, before their doctor made another appearance and shooed everyone out, fussing around the two royals and insisting that they need their rest and quiet. With kisses on cheeks, and promises that they’d be back later on in the evening, they were left alone with their daughters, both of them content as they held one each and reclined on their pillows.

 

            “They’re cute, right?” Lena blurted out a little while later, as Kara groggily turned to look at her.

 

            “Hm?”

 

            “They’re both cute. Like, I’m not being one of those blinded mom’s who say their child is cute when they know they’re bloody not. We made cute babies, didn’t we?”

 

            Kara let out a burst of laughter, clapping her free hand over her mouth when Eilis stirred in her arms, and she let out a sigh of contentedness, looking down at the pink faced baby with her little button nose, tiny pout and rosy cheeks, her tiny fingers clutching at the edge of the finely knitted shawl wrapped around her. “They’re absolutely perfect, in every way. Just like their mother.”

Chapter Text

            They stayed in hospital for a week, before both mom’s and babies were released. Retiring back to their estate in the Irish countryside, they were afforded another two weeks to themselves, while the news of their births was kept tightly under wraps. It was somewhat a struggle to adapt, with both of them insisting that they take care of the princesses themselves, but having no clue how to do so. Eliza, Alex and Sam visited every day, and the three of them, along with Jess and Lyra, would make suggestions as they watched the two royals fumble through learning how to change a diaper, how to bathe them and breastfeed them - only Eliza and Sam were any help there - or swaddle them properly. On top of the baby, their own bodies were slowly returning back to how they’d been before, with a few days of uncomfortable bleeding, and the angry pink link across Kara’s stomach. Their stomachs slowly deflated too, and Lena smugly found herself back in some of her earlier pregnancy clothes, much to Kara’s disgruntlement, having been somewhat significantly more pregnant looking due to how she had been carrying.

 

            Despite the exhaustive amount of books they’d managed to get through, and the few lessons they’d taken to prepare themselves, it was a rather daunting few weeks.

 

            Still, even with the dark circles under their eyes from multiple sleepless nights, it was hard to complain. Everytime they so much as looked at one of the babies, dressed in tiny crocheted cardigans and thin lace and cotton dresses, their dark lashes fluttering against round cheeks as they slept, their hearts swelled with love, and they couldn’t find a single thing to complain about. Things hadn’t gone according to plan, but it had all worked out rather perfectly, and their two weeks in Ireland were even more so perfect.

 

            Late at night, after they’d both been fed, they’d pace up and down the dark hallways until they fell back asleep, the floorboards creaking and the house toasty and warm, a baby in the arms of each woman with a blanket swaddled around them. In the mornings, their assistants would have breakfast ready, and copious amounts of tea and coffee, and they’d take turns showering and dressing, while the other got the babies dressed and washed. They bickered as they stumbled through their new roles as mother’s, and they would sit in a living room with the fire crackling, classical music softly playing while Lena read one of her poetry books aloud and Kara dozed with a baby nestled in the crook of each elbow. Despite the amount of effort it took to look after two newborns, their days were lazy and slow, with little else to do but catch up on lost sleep and receive guests.

 

            Their friends slowly trickled into the country, only permitted entrance into the house upon confirmation that they had all been immunised, bringing an abundance of gifts and flowers, and falling upon the babies with congratulations and compliments. At this point, they had no choice but to formally announce the birth of their two daughters, knowing that it would inevitably leak if they didn’t get ahead of it, especially with Astra’s knowledge of the fact that Lena had gone into labour - although she’d been mysteriously silent since Kara had left her in Daxam - and there were dozens of messages and requests off royal dignitaries and all manner of state officials to visit them and pay their respects. It was at that point that they knew they needed to go back to Krypton and officially present their heir and daughter to the court. As much as they wished they could stay in Ireland, it was time for them to come home, and it was bittersweet to be leaving. Each of them had hoped for a couple of months there after they’d given birth, but they were content with three weeks.

 

            It seemed that the two newborns didn’t want to leave either, and while their doctor flew with them, and both babies were placed in incubators again as a precaution against any bacteria on the plane, it seemed like a much longer flight than it was. They cried and fussed in their incubators, and were fed twice more than expected to keep them quiet, and Kara and Lena were both irritable. Kara more so because of the discomfort of her slowly healing cesarean incision site, and Lena, well … because of who Lena was as a person. Although, both women were feeling remarkably more like themselves, which was a huge relief for themselves, and to those who were close to them. It was an even greater relief when they landed back in Argo City.

 

            When the private jet touched down, both babies were quickly changed into the pristine, expensive clothes they’d be photographed in for the first time, and Kara and Lena changed into their own pressed dresses, having had their hair and makeup done on the flight. They made a striking couple when they stepped out onto the steps of the ladder connected to the door of the jet, Kara dressed in pale blue and Lena in a dove grey, with a white bundle in the arms of each woman. Photographers and news reporters were held at bay by security guards and railings, and camera flashes and questions were hurled at them as they posed for a few moments, before descending. Four cars were waiting for them, and they parted ways, a baby and a mom in each car, as a precaution, while guards piled in with them, and the doctors, family and staff were ushered into the other ones. As they filed out of the airport, a military and police escort accompanied them, lights flashing on the police motorcycles, and soldiers cradling rifles hidden by the dark windows of the military issued Humvees.

 

            Once they arrived at the palace, they were driven in through the front, the heavily guarded wrought iron gates parting before their cars, the sprawling elegant palace a warm, buttery yellow in the mild mid-March weather. The flag atop the centre of the palace flapped in the breeze, the bold colours of the Krypton flag and the coat of arms of the House of El making Kara feel even prouder as she brought home her daughters. There was a sense of satisfaction, knowing that she had done her duty and secured her line, and the smile that spread across her face as she carried the tiny bundle up the steps was genuine. Lena was right there beside her, and they paused for a few moments to face out at the photographers, reporters and citizens pressing in on the gates to get a glimpse of the royal family. Giving gentle waves and proud smiles, they played their part, posing for the people, before they were swept inside.

 

            Immediately, the babies were taken away to the fully renovated nursery, with Kara and Lena hurrying after their assistants, waving away footmen’s attempts to take their coats, and the multitude of staff members bowing politely and offering refreshments. They didn’t relax until they’d seen the babies settled down into woven wicker bassinets with white hoods, finely knitted blankets pulled over them, and both of them fast asleep with pacifiers looking comically big on their small faces.

 

            Looking around at the room, they admired the effort Alex had put into decorating, and Kara smiled as she took in the sight of it in person. They’d been shown around over Facetime, but it was something else to be stood in the nursery, with its eggshell white walls, the expensive Spanish palomino rocking-horse that had been custom made, the large wingback armchair, perfect for nursing, and the hand carved whitewashed furniture. There were touches of pastel colours, hints of pale pink blankets, lavender cushions on the white velvet loveseat, and the lightest shade of blue on the ceiling, a visage of a sky with puffy white clouds painted on it, amongst rich crown molding, and the large chandelier that made it look like the sun, radiating in the middle of the vast room. Everything they could want or need had been thought of, and Kara sighed as Lena wound her arms around her waist, resting her chin on her shoulder as they watched their daughters sleep in their home.

 

            They hosted their family and closest friends for lunch, but for dinner that night, it was just the two of them, and a spread of every food they’d been craving for the better part of a year. Both of them ate until they could barely move, so happy and giddy with love that they almost pitied the guards that trailed them back up to their suite, as they walked hand in hand, whispering and giggling together on their way. Two bassinets were waiting for them inside their bedroom, Jess and a newly hired nanny lingering about as they watched over them, and they were dismissed as soon as the royals entered their suite. After months away from the palace, Kara had to admit it felt good to be home, and after a quick shower to wash off the flight, she changed into freshly laundered pyjamas and climbed into bed, the mattress familiarly sinking beneath her weight, and she groaned in relief as she rolled over onto her stomach and buried her face into the pillows. Her wife joined her not too long later, and with a content sigh, Kara wrapped an arm around her and fell asleep in her own bed, her two daughters sleeping for the time being, and everything felt right.

 

            Of course, it wasn’t. The threat of her mother still hung heavily over her head, and it was like she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Kara had gone into more detail, recounting the entirety her conversation with Alura for Lena, as well as Alex, Eliza and Sam, and while none of them could offer her any insight into what she should do, it didn’t stop Kara from thinking about, almost to the point of obsession. With no choice but to keep her composure, she spend the next week sitting on the red velvet throne in the throne room, while Lena sat beside her on her own smaller throne, and they received guest after guest, allowing them to greet the newborn princesses and pay their respects and offer congratulations. At a month old, both babies were doing extremely well, putting on a healthy amount of weight onto their small, preterm frames, happily gurgling and waving around tiny clenched fists as strangers cooed over them.

 

            The two moms were completely enamoured with them, spending hours cuddling them and babbling nonsense - more so Kara, as Lena preferred to speak to them in multiple languages, reciting facts about Imperial Russia or talking about art styles, much to Kara’s amusement - laughing as they tickled them and watched as they babies gave them toothless smiles. It was like a dream come true for Kara, and the impending doom that had seemed to be closing in on her, closer and closer, over the past few months, had been swept away like an angry storm cloud blown away to reveal the sunshine and blue skies. She didn’t worry for their safety anymore, and it was partly because she knew who was behind it all now, and knew her mom didn’t bear her or her family any ill will, and because she was no longer hormonal to the point of paranoia from carrying her baby. Things were much more relaxed around the palace.

 

            And then Astra arrived, her presence announced to Kara and causing a bitter argument as she had her aunt dragged from the premises as inconspicuously as possible, despite her protests that she needed to talk to her. Urgently. Kara was almost tempted to let her speak, plead her case or whatever it was she had to say, but Astra had lied to her one too many times, and she wasn’t eager to let her do it again.

 

            She’d been about to have afternoon tea when Astra had turned up, and feeling irritable, she decided to go up to the nursery for a few minutes and calm down, before joining Lena in the parlour. They’d already been fed, and they’d been left with their nanny as soon as they settled down, and as Kara quietly pushed open the doors she realised that the nanny wasn’t in the room. But someone else was.

 

            “Put her down. Now,” Kara flatly commanded, trying to keep her voice from trembling as she moved further into the room.

 

            She didn’t have to ask who it was. Even in the dim light of the curtained nursery, she could see the dark hair curling past the shoulders, and the familiar set of shoulders, the height that had seemed so tall as a child, but was now equal to her own. Although she knew that her mother wouldn’t hurt her daughter, the sight of her cradling one of them in the dark sent chills down Kara’s spine. Moving with cautious unease, she warily crossed the room, careful not to create a fuss that would wake the babies, or rouse the palace guards. Anger burned within her as she moved towards her mom, but even Kara knew that she couldn’t have her mom arrested in her palace. It would be breaking news before morning, even if she was only thought to have been a staff member apprehended. It wouldn’t take long for people to figure out the truth from there on.

 

            “She’s like you,” Alura said with an almost smug pride in her voice. “In fact, with all that dark hair, she looks like me . You took after me, but you had your father’s fairness.”

 

            Bristling slightly, Kara ground her teeth together. “She’s not like you. Give her to me. Now.”

 

            “I won’t hurt her, my dear. I just wanted a few moments with my granddaughter’s. I wanted to see what my sacrifices bought me.”

 

            Her voice was almost regretful, but not quite, and the casualness at which Alura spoke of her plotted murder made Kara’s stomach sharply twist. It was quiet inside the palace, and even more so inside the nursery, which made Kara feel even more on edge as the stifling silence weighed down heavily on her. All it would take was one quick shout and the room would be flooded with guards.

 

            As she neared Alura, the other woman turned around, her face a shadow in the dimness of the room, but Kara had the vague sensation of her smiling, and she paused for a moment, waiting for her mom to make the next move. One of the little bundles was swaddled comfortably in her arms, no doubt asleep and unaware of what kind of monster was holding her.

 

            “Call your guards if you must,” Alura said, and Kara knew from her mother’s tone that she knew that Kara wouldn’t.

 

            “I don’t care if you go free,” Kara bitingly replied, “just give her to me. That’s all I want. I don’t care about you .”

 

            Alura let out a quiet laugh, rocking the baby back and forth, before she turned and walked back towards the bassinet, carefully laying her back down and tucking a knitted blanket in around her. Eilis , Kara realised, watching her mom lay her down in the bassinet on the left. They’d kept Lirael’s on the right, to make it easier to know who was who. With a soft sigh, she turned her attention back to Kara and strode towards her as if she had all the time in the world, as if she wasn’t trespassing, having somehow found a way to sneak past the guards, and it irritated Kara as she lingered in the middle of the room.

 

            “What’re their names?”

 

            “Eilis and Lirael.”

 

            “Ah, so not after me then?” At Kara’s stiff silence, she carried on walking towards her, unbothered by the tension. “Now, darling, I’m assuming you want to talk?” she pragmatically asked, reaching out to stroke the queen’s face as she gave her a quick smile.

 

            Jerking back out of her reach, Kara scowled at her, casting the two bassinets another look, before she narrowed her eyes at her mother. “How did you get in here?”

 

            Laughing, Alura waved a hand around in a vague gesture. “Well, there’s more than one secret passageway in the palace. Of course the royal nursery needed a secret escape route, in case of a coup or invasion. It was all too easy to slip away from your aunt and your lax guards and find one of the old entrances. It looks like I’m the only one that’s used it in years. The dust was awful. You should consider new maids as well as guards. And perhaps a new nanny - she was far too willing to leave when I ordered her to.”

 

            “What do you want? I told you never to step foot inside this country again. I told Astra that same.”

 

            Tutting, Alura sighed, walking over to the velvet sofa nestled against one wall and making herself comfortable. “We never finished our conversation. I thought perhaps I could explain it more and answer your questions for you.”

 

            “What more is there to explain?” Kara quietly exclaimed, seething with anger as she walked over to her mom and dragged her to her feet. Holding her by the front of her coat she faltered for a moment as a lump formed in her throat. “You killed my family. My dad. You let me suffer - alone. You sold me into a contract when I was a child.”

 

            Patting her cheek, Alura gave her a condescending smile, the brown contacts in her eyes even darker in the greyness of the room, and looking even more alien in the altered face. It was unnerving the second time around to see the rough likeness of her mother paired with the foreign features, and a flicker of uncertainty ran across Kara’s face as she watched her mom’s lips spread into a smile.

 

            “And look how well that turned out for you. You have a wife that you love, and two beautiful daughters. I did that for you.”

 

            “No you didn’t,” Kara hissed, “we did this ourselves. You have no right to take credit for something that I’ve worked hard for. All you did was make things harder for me. You made your own sister manipulate me, scare me into submission to whatever plans you made her carry out. You started an anti-monarchist organisation and scammed money off people who wanted to see me dead, and you planned fake assassination attempts to cover your own ass.”

 

            Letting out a quiet huff of impatience, Alura pried Kara’s fingers off the front of her coat and forcefully pushed her backwards a few steps, some of the fragile warmth gone from her demeanour as she shed all pretences of niceties. “I covered your ass too. You think that your pathetic attempts to convince the world that you were in love would be enough to keep the world invested in our small country? Everyday, you have to compete with the British monarchy and the United States for headlines and publicity. Without me pulling strings and keeping the country running from behind the scenes, the economy would’ve crashed. Your grandfather was a senile old fool, your uncle would’ve been a pathetic attempt of a king, and God , that boring nephew of mine would’ve followed right in his footsteps. You think the world needs more men leading? No. What I have built is an empire of women. I could’ve sold you to Thorul to marry Alexander and be a queen there, but I gave you your own country. How many women can say their mothers have done the same for them?”

 

            Scoffing, Kara gave Alura a wry smile, no humour or warmth in it as she gave her a frosty look. “And you think I’m going to thank you and sing your praises for that? I told you - I never asked for this. I wanted my mom! That's all I wanted, just to have my family back, to have you be proud of me and have you be there on my wedding day and be a grandmother to my kids! And instead ... you make me feel sick. Even the crown- I sit on a throne won with blood, and every time I think of that, it makes me want to get rid of it, so I'm not tainted by your actions.”

 

            “Then abolish it. Tear down centuries worth of the House of El. Let it end with you and raise your daughter’s up north in the mountains, while the country collapses and the economy fails. All because you’re angry at me.”

 

            Opening her mouth to reply, Kara paused for a moment at the sound of rustling blankets, before a hand on her sleeve made her whirl back around. Jerking her head towards the door, Alura quietly moved, her footsteps muffled by the thick carpet, and Kara followed after her, casting a quick look at the two bassinets before she pulled open the door, letting a yellow beam of light illuminate the room for a moment.

 

            If her guards were surprised to see her emerge with another woman, they didn’t show it, and Kara gave the two bodyguards assigned to the princesses a curt nod, before striding off down the hallway with Vasquez following after them. No one spoke for a few minutes, and Kara could just see her mom taking in the relative sameness of the palace from where she trotted along, half a step behind the queen. Kara had made very few changes, with the wealth of the palace already extravagant enough for her taste when she’d inherited it as her own, and she couldn’t help but wonder what it must’ve felt like for Alura to be walking through the halls again. She wondered if her mom felt the ghosts of the royals she’d killed to instill her daughter on the throne.

 

            “I was thinking tea, perhaps,” Alura eventually said, her tone conversational and unbothered, and Kara’s lips twisted with a bitter smile as she was given an answer to one of her thoughts. Her mom didn’t care in the slightest.

 

            “You’re not in a position to be making requests,” Kara curtly replied, keeping her head facing forward as she spoke, her spine rigid with tension and her nails digging into her palms as she clenched her hands into fists.

 

            On and on through the hallways, she made her way towards the parlour where she knew that Lena was currently hosting a late afternoon tea with some family members. It was in one of the western parlours, with tall windows displaying the magnificent orange and pinks of the first hints of sunset above the sprawling gardens, old oil paintings crowding the walls and an antique rug covering most of the marble floor. At Kara’s sudden entrance, everyone rose from the circular table, napkins quickly grasped in hands before they could slide to the floor as they rose to their feet. Turning to all but drag her mother into the room, before slamming the door shut as Vasquez joined Hector on guard duty just outside, Kara gave Lena, Eliza, Alex and Sam a tight smile.

 

            “I have someone I’d like you to meet,” she said, gesturing to the woman hesitantly lingering behind her. “This is Alura.”

 

            The first slap was Alex, charging forward with her face taut with anger, a red handprint blossoming on Alura’s face before Kara could even register what the sharp sound had meant. Nodding, her mom rubbed her cheek, a quiet laugh working its way up her throat. And then Lena slapped her, and Kara winced at the dark look in her wife’s eyes as her mom worked her jaw, her thin eyebrows raised in mild surprise. Lena was seething with anger as she backed away and moved back over to the table, taking a seat and giving Astra an icy stare. Eliza was frozen in shock, standing just in front of her chair, and Kara watched her with bated breath as her adoptive mother slowly stepped away from the table, circling around it until she was standing a few feet away from her old friend. And then she slapped her too.

 

            Grimacing with pain as her cheeks smarted from the slaps, Alura turned to Sam and gave her a slightly mocking smile. “What about you, dear?”

 

            Clearing her throat, Sam set her napkin down, casting everyone in the room a wary look, as she hesitantly walked over to her. “This is, uh, a … family matter. I think I’ll take my leave now. If you’ll excuse me, Your Majesty. Highness.”

 

            Kara gave her a warm smile, reaching out to give Sam’s arm a quick squeeze, before the other woman hurriedly fled the room and the building tension within it. No sooner had the door clicked shut behind her, did Eliza take a measured step forward, her face pale and stiff with anger. It was unnerving for Kara to see her so angry, and so different to the woman that had raised her, but there was a sheen of tears in her blue eyes, and she realised that Eliza was just as hurt as she was.

 

            “She was a child ,” Eliza firmly said, the muscles in her jaw working as Kara slipped past her, walking over to Lena and placing a hand on her shoulder, giving it a slight squeeze. “Your own daughter. You abandoned her. I held her in my arms while she cried, for months after you died, and you just- you weren’t even- you just left her.”

 

            “Oh come on, Eliza,” Alura condescendingly replied, giving her a sharp smile, “you always were a little soft. It’s why I picked you to raise her. I knew you’d do a good job. You were always far more maternal than me. I’m not so sure that it was a good idea, now that I think about it. Perhaps you made my daughter too soft.”

 

            Spluttering, Eliza slapped her again. “She is not your daughter. You gave up any right to call her that when you left her and had her shipped off to me. I’m her mother, not you. You are nothing to anyone in this room. You are not the woman I befriended all those years ago, Alura. And that’s the saddest thing about this all.”

 

            She turned around and walked over to the table, her eyes shining with tears as she took a seat and reached out for her cooling tea with a trembling hand. Kara moved from Lena’s side to go to her, gently giving her shoulder a squeeze and leaning down to rest her head against Eliza’s, trying to put as much love into the silent gesture as she could. She’d said as much to Alura herself.

 

            “I, on the other hand, have much to thank you for,” Lena coolly said, idly stirring her tea as she looked at Alura with narrowed eyes, as if she was trying to draw any similarities to Kara, or the woman she’d seen pictures of. All eyes slid to her, widening with surprise, and Lena let out a fleeting laugh, a smirk curling her lips as she picked up her tea and took a sip. “Please. Come and have some tea.”

 

            Spluttering, Kara opened her mouth to protest, and at Lena’s dismissive gesture towards her, promptly shut it with a snap as her teeth ground together. Sensing some trap, but unsure what it was, Alura warily edged closer to the table, sitting down on the chair to Lena’s immediate right that the princess had pulled out for her. Everyone was silent as they watched Lena reach for the teapot and pick up the clean cup of fine china that had lain waiting for Kara, filling it halfway with steaming amber tea, and adding a very generous amount of milk, turning it almost pearly as it eddied in the cup. Keeping a firm grip on the handle of the cup, drawing it closer to herself by the saucer, Lena gave Alura a wide smile, her green eyes flat and cold.

 

            “You see, if it hadn’t been for your murderous tendencies, and impeccable foresight in planning, I would never have crossed paths with your daughter again. We were roommates at boarding school, did you know? Yes, well, we never got on. Can’t say I would’ve looked twice at her again. Well, I had , at the few events were together at, but I thought she was such an insufferably good person, I wouldn’t possibly dream of trying to charm her. No offence, darling, but it’s not as if we got on, did we?”

 

            Unsure of what Lena was doing, Kara stared at her with unmasked worry and apprehension, giving her a small nod in agreement as she watched whatever was happening unfold before her. Giving her an endearing smile, Lena reached out with her free hand, and Kara obligingly placed her own hand in it, her lips curling slightly at the corners as Lena pressed a soft kiss to her knuckles. With a small sigh of content, Lena held onto her hand, but turned back to Alura, her cool mask back in place.

 

            “Well, that little contract you made … now, that changed things. It put things into perspective. So I feel like I ought to thank you for coming to that agreement with my dear mother. But , that wasn’t enough, you see. I didn’t realise I loved Kara for quite a while, and I feel like I owe that to you as well. Can you begin to think about when it was that I realised? No? Well, I’ll tell you. See, on Christmas Day, about six months after you had your in-laws blown up and Kara put on the throne, you hired an assassin to take a shot at Kara. Now I realise that you hadn’t planned on your daughter being killed, but at the time, I watched that bullet graze her and my heart stopped in my chest. I knew it, with certain clarity, as I ran out of the palace and clung to her for dear life, that I loved her. So again, my thanks to you for that. And again , I should thank you for my daughters, or more specifically, my youngest. You might be wondering why I should be thanking you for that, because it was hardly your doing, getting Kara pregnant. But you see, you did play a hand.”

 

            Lena let out a quick laugh, a small smile playing on her lips as she stared at Alura with that cold look in her eyes, and when she spoke again, her voice was devoid of that playful warmth. “When Kara went to visit Astra in Daxam, and ran into you , well, the stress of all of that made her go into premature labour, and our little girl was born after that. Premature, mind you, by six weeks. If it wasn’t for you , she’d still be growing inside her mother’s stomach, but oh no, thanks to you , my wife and my unborn child were put at risk. You see, Alura - may I call you Alura? - well, Alura, you see, there are few things I care about in this world, but I care about my family. Not my mother, but my family with Kara’s family - sorry, that doesn’t include you - and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my family. I feel like you and I are alike in that sense, because I think that I would kill for them too.”

 

            Everyone was rigid in their seats, and Alex over near a large ornate vase in the corner, and Kara was feeling increasingly agitated as she watched Lena, her wife dropping her hand and reaching for the small clutch resting beside her plate with a slice of passionfruit cheesecake. Opening it, Lena pulled out something silver and compact, and it took a few moments before Kara registered what it was, and her mouth went dry with fear as she looked at the tiny pistol Lena was holding, pointed straight at Alura. She couldn’t bring herself to say anything, and she felt Eliza further stiffen beneath her touch as they helplessly watched.

 

            With the handle of the cup of warm tea held nimbly in one hand, looking for all intents and purposes like they were having a quaint tea party, and the tiny silver pistol aimed at Alura in her other hand, which wasn’t trembling in the slightest, Lena’s face hardened into a look of anger so intense that Kara was sure she’d never see her so angry. In a sudden blur of movement, Lena had thrown the contents of the cup of tea in Alura’s face, standing so quickly that Kara and Eliza jumped in sync at the unexpected motion. Leaning across the gap between them, Lena grabbed a handful of caramel hair and jerked Alura’s head back so that she was looking up at the princess dangerously looming over her.

 

            “So listen closely, you twisted, scheming bitch; touch my family again, and it will be the last thing you do. The next thing in your face, will be a bullet. So thank you, Alura, for helping me realise the lengths I will go to for the people I love. Because of you, I know with certainty what it feels like to almost lose everything I care about, and I won't make the same mistake twice. I can assure you.”

 

            Pulling back, untangling her fingers from Alura’s hair, Lena plucked a napkin from the table and deposited it in the soaked woman’s lap, a dark look on her face as she slipped the safety back on the gun and put it back into the little purse.

 

            “Now, I think it’s about time that you left. And you’d do well not to come back.”

 

            Mopping at the rivulets of tea running down her face, Alura sat red faced and livid with embarrassment, and slowly climbed to her feet, a slow smile spreading across her face as she dipped into a shallow curtsy. “Well … I got what I came for, and you're quite right; I think I've had my fill of the capitol. By your leave, Your Majesty, Your Highness.”

 

            She left without another word, the lapels of her coat and the neck of her dress wet with tea stains, and the relief echoed throughout the room was almost palpable. Deflating as the tension bled out of her, Kara weakly lowered herself into one of the empty chairs, one hand clapped to her chest as she let out a shaky breath. She’d thought her knees were going to give out beneath her as fear coiled in her stomach, and she drew in a deep breath as she tried to calm herself down, the beginning embers of anger sparking to life now that the danger had passed.

 

            “Oh, great idea Lena,” she sarcastically said, “let’s threaten the woman that’s killed a total of five of my family members.”

 

            “Oh come on, it’s not like it was boiling hot tea. It was mostly milk! I’m not a sociopath,” Lena reasoned, rolling her eyes as she picked up her own tea sniffing disdainfully. “Besides, I wasn’t actually going to shoot her in a parlour over high tea. She wouldn’t be worth the amount it would cost to have the Persian rug cleaned.”

 

            “Very funny,” Kara tightly replied, although Alex let out a snort of laughter, trying to muffle it by a hand quickly clapped over her mouth. “What if you’re next? I have my two heirs. My line is secure, so what’s to stop her from getting you out of the way now? Don’t you want to see your daughters grow up? Are you that impulsive that you’d rather piss off someone who could hurt you than let me handle it myself?”

 

            That seemed to sober Lena up slightly, and she gave Kara a sheepish look of apology. “Sorry, darling, but you’re wrong though. She won’t touch a hair on my head if she knows what’s bloody good for her.”

 

            Snorting derisively, Kara arched an eyebrow, “or what? You’ll put a bullet in her from a grave?”

 

            With a tight smile, Lena scooped up a forkful of her unfinished cheesecake, “no. Because she’d be too scared of what you’d do to her. As long as she doesn’t antagonise you any further, she’s safe from arrest and prosecution. She likes her freedom too much to risk sabotaging it. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going upstairs to see my two little bundles of joy, and then I’m going to stare at the alcohol cabinet in the game parlour and fondly recall the days when I could enjoy a stiff drink.”

 

            Heavily sighing, Kara gave her a reproachful look, her lips twitching slightly at the corners, and she shooed Lena off, with the promise of joining her shortly. Eliza was still numbly sitting in the chair, and Kara wanted to make sure that she was alright. It was one thing to hear that her closest friend had been faking her death the entire time, but to see her standing there was like seeing a ghost, and Kara suspected that perhaps she could do with a stiff drink. As Lena walked towards the door, she called after her, asking her to get the first passing servant to fetch a glass of brandy, and gave her wife a grim smile before the door shut after her.

 

            Staying with Eliza until she’d managed to drain two healthy measures of brandy, while her and Alex fretted around her with mild concern, Kara left her with her daughter to recover from the shock. They’d had a quick conversation about the shocking turn of events, and Kara wanted nothing more than to go to her own daughters, her heart heavily weighed down and her feet dragging as she was escorted through the hallways. She was halfway up the first grand staircase when Lena came into sight at the top, frantically running towards her, her face white as a sheet and her bottom lip trembling as tears coursed down her cheeks.

 

            “She’s gone,” she choked out between a sob, collapsing into Kara’s arms as she grabbed at her wife’s dress, another sob getting caught in her throat as she clawed at the fabric with frantic urgency, “Lirael’s gone.”

Chapter Text

            Kara felt Lena’s words like they were almost a physical blow, her legs buckling slightly as she held up her sobbing wife, giving her a gentle shake as she tried to calm her down. Panic was rising within her though, and her voice was hoarse as she looked down at Lena with wide blue eyes. “What do you mean? Lena, what do you mean she’s gone? I was just up there-”

 

            “She’s not in her fucking crib, Kara!” Lena exclaimed, her voice shrill as she gave her a frantic look, “I mean she’s gone!”

 

            Alura’s words about how she’d gotten what she came for came to the front of Kara’s mind, and she opened and closed her mouth, her face blanching as she realised why she’d come, and she whirled around to Vasquez. “Stop the woman who just left the parlour. Put the palace into lockdown. Don’t let a single car enter or leave this place, and ground all planes. No one sets a foot outside of this palace or country until the princess is found.

 

            She was still giving orders as her bodyguard relayed her own, a radio unclipped from her belt as she repeated Kara’s orders for every palace guard to hear. Taking hold of Lena’s hand, Kara ran upstairs, her heart pounding in her chest as she dragged her wife back to the nursery, bursting into the room to find both of the babies’ personal bodyguards standing inside the room, Jess holding a swaddled figure with a look of barely concealed worry on her face. She looked up as Kara burst into the room, rushing over to the assistant and taking the baby off her, before she looked down into the other bassinet. It was empty.

 

            “How?” she tightly asked the two guards. Alura had only left the parlour room five minutes before Lena had. Even if she’d made it up to the nursery in that time, she wouldn’t have managed to get back out again.

 

            “No one entered the nursery between the time you left and Her Highness entered, Your Majesty,” one of them said, giving her a stiff bow, “I swear it, on my honour.”

 

            “Well she didn’t just fucking disappear!” Lena exclaimed, her voice hysterical as she ran a trembling hand through her hair. “She was here not half an hour ago! You were bloody in here with her.”

 

            She directed the last part towards Kara, who froze as she looked at Lena, a look of understanding dawning on her face. “No. No, no. I didn’t see- she was holding Eilis. I didn’t check-”

 

            “What do you mean you didn’t check?” Lena sharply asked.

 

            Ignoring her, Kara ran over to a wall, pushing against it as she recalled Alura’s talk of secret passageways. Kara knew of a few - the escape routes in her own suite, the ones from her office and the throne room - but she hadn’t even checked the ones for the nursery. Her mom knew about it though, and the nanny had been gone when Kara had arrived at the nursery. Alura would’ve been escorted out through the side doors, one of the main entrances of the palace, and she wouldn’t have had time to whisk her granddaughter out of the palace in that time. She would’ve had to do it before, and stalled long enough to ensure that the baby was long gone from the palace by the time Kara had even realised her daughter was gone. She’d played right into her mother’s hands, making her leave the nursery, letting her keep talking.

 

            “The passageway,” Kara desperately said, pushing uselessly at a section of the wall.

 

            Moving along the walls, she kept pushing, her breathing turning ragged as she tried to find the hidden door, choking on silent sobs as she tried to swallow them. Lena was swearing and snapping at the guards behind her, on the verge of hysterics as she accused them of aiding Alura in the kidnapping. Ignoring her, Kara flashed from one part of the room to another, Eilis cradled in one arm as she fumbled for hidden seams with the other hand.

 

            “What’s going on?” Alex anxiously asked from the doorway, her face pale as she stepped into the room, a frightened looking Eliza hovering behind her.

 

            In short order, the matter at hand was explained to the two women, and Eliza had taken hold of Eilis, drawing Lena over to the velvet sofa and forcing her to sit. Kara was at a loss of what to do, feeling her heart torn in half with fear, watching as Alex purposefully walked over to one of the armoires holding a manner of baby items. It was firmly planted on the ground, and Alex reached through to the back, pushing against the wood, which swung open to reveal a yawning pit of darkness.

 

            “I found it when I was helping redecorate. Thought it would be better to hide it, so it was less obvious,” Alex said, giving Kara a grim look.

 

            Rushing over to it, Kara paused for a moment, turning to look at her wife and quickly walking over to her. Dropping down to her knees, Kara reached up to cup Lena’s face in her trembling hands, wiping away tears as her wife gave her a broken look. Letting out a shuddering breath, Kara brought their foreheads together, holding her close for a moment as she listened to Lena’s stifled sobs.

 

            “I’m going to bring her back,” Kara firmly said, her voice uneven and thick with emotion, “okay? I’ll bring her back, and I- I’ll find her. She’s going to be fine. You just- promise me that you’ll stay here.”

 

            “I’m coming with you,” Lena said, her voice cracking as she stubbornly insisted.

 

            Shaking her head, Kara gave her a pleading look as she pulled back. “Please, Lena. I don’t want our little girl left alone. One of us should stay.”

 

            “Then I’ll stay,” Lena said, her willing agreement taking Kara by surprise, “but you have to promise me something.”

 

            “Anything.”

 

            Lena took one of Kara’s hands off her cheek and pressed something small and cold into it, a flat look in her bloodshot eyes as she gave Kara an unreadable look. “You’ll do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.”

 

            Looking down at the pistol nestled in the palm of her hand, Kara curled her fingers around it, swallowing the lump in her throat as her mouth went dry. Did she have what it took to kill her mother? If the need should arise. With a glance to her left, she took in the finely crocheted blanket nestled in Eliza’s arms, and she knew with deadly certainty, that she would do anything for her children. Turning back to Lena, she gave her a stiff nod, her face crumpling slightly, but her resolve firm, and she quickly pressed her lips against her wife’s, trying to put as much love into it as she could. Reaching out, she gently cupped Eilis’ head, and then climbed to her feet.

 

            Stepping towards the armoire, Kara found her way barred by Alex, her sister giving her a cautious look. “Kara, you can’t go.”

 

            “Get out of my way, Alex.”

 

            Reaching out to gently take her sister by the shoulders, Alex gave her an insistent look. “Listen to me! They’re not going to let the queen go after her! They’re not going to let you set foot outside of this palace. Get every single guard, get the fucking military and homeland security. But you need to stay here.”

 

            She knew that her sister was right, but Kara couldn’t bear the thought of idly sitting in the palace, waiting for news of her daughter’s fate. Alura didn’t want to hurt her, that much she knee, in her bones, but her mom had no intention of bringing her back either. Kara couldn’t let someone else do it for her. No one else knew who they were dealing with, the deep nature of this secrecy, they didn’t know where she would go, or who she really was. No one but the people gathered in that room, and Astra, knew.

 

            “You’re right,” Kara said, and Alex’s shoulders drooped in relief, but Kara gave her a grim smile, “but I promised my wife, and I promised I’d always protect my children. So I need you to move out of my way, or I’ll have Vasquez move you for me.”

 

            With a quiet laugh, Alex stepped aside, shaking her head as she gave Kara an exasperated look. “I thought it was worth a shot at least.”

 

            “Really?” Lena tearfully snorted.

 

            Alex paused for a moment, a thoughtful look crossing her face before she gave her sister-in-law a wry smile. “No. But if something bad happens, I’ll feel better knowing that I tried to stop her.”

 

            Darting in to kiss her on the cheek, Kara gave her a tight smile, “and I love you for it. Please stay with-”

 

            “I won’t let either of them out of my sight.”

 

            “Your Majesty, I’d like to request permission to take precedence with this,” Vasquez said, stepping up to Kara’s side and staring at the ominous tunnel leading away from the nursery.

 

            Nodding, Kara watched her bodyguard slip into the gaping passageway, a tiny flashlight illuminating the suffocating darkness, and with a sparing glance at Lena, Kara followed after her guard.

 

            The tunnel was dusty and narrow, built from the same neatly cut yellow stone as the rest of the palace, and she hurried after Vasquez, following the beam of light as hulking figures followed after her, their own lights illuminating the passage. They followed it all the way down to a corridor in the West Wing, coming out into the empty hallway and pausing for a moment. Kara knew that they would’ve had to take another secret tunnel, probably one leading down to the basement, and out through a service tunnel, but she wasn’t sure where all of them were. It was a massive oversight on her behalf, because although her and her security detail were informed on all of the ones that would’ve been useful to them, they didn’t know where all of them were, and her mom clearly had the upper hand here. Still as her guards milled around, their sharp eyes trying to spot a doorway like the one they’d just come out of, Kara realised that there was a similar panel of wood on the other side of the hall.

 

            Walking towards it, she paused as someone called out to her. “Your Majesty.”

 

            Turning, she watched as Lillian strode down the hallway, a vaguely pissed off look on her face as she was trailed by a few of her own guards and a few of Kara’s. “What’s the meaning of this? I’ve been detained in the foyer for five minutes.”

 

            Waving away the guards doing their best to stop her with their words, unwilling to so much as lay a hand on the Queen Mother of Thorul, Kara took a few steps towards Lillian. “Lirael’s been taken. By our … mutual friend.”

 

            “Let’s not waste time on secrets, dear,” Lillian scoffed, looking mildly startled by the news, “your mother was here?” At Kara’s nod, she let out a heavy sigh, tutting as she gave her a dour look. “One day, your mistakes will be your undoing. Say what you want about me, and your mother, but we always think two steps ahead.”

 

            Bristling slightly as her cheeks reddened, already barely hanging on by a thread as the fear of losing her daughter filled her, Kara felt even worse as embarrassment wracked through her at her failure to protect her family, from her own family. “I’ll never make this mistake again, I can assure you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”

 

            “Go?”

 

            “Go and find my daughter.”

 

            She turned around and made for the panel she’d seen earlier, pushing on it and hearing a satisfying click as it swung inwards on creaky hinges. Feeling somewhat relieved that they were on the right path so far, although they hadn’t made it outside of the palace yet, Kara waved Vasquez through. She was about to follow her, stepping over the threshold, when a protest behind her made her turn and look as Lillian stepped up behind her, her height even more so menacing than that of her guards.

 

            “You cannot seriously think that you’ll be of any use out there? What’re you going to do? Sit in the back of a car while your guards follow fake leads? Get the military, create checkpoints at the border of the city. Let them comb the countryside for her. She won’t stay in Argo City, that much is for sure, and you’ll have no chance of finding her. Stay here. Go to Lena and let your staff do their job.”

 

            “My child is missing,” Kara snapped, on the verge of tears again as the words hit her like a slap in the face.

 

            “And I’ve had mine taken from me too,” Lillian prudently replied, “Lena was five. She was gone for four hours, and my national guard did their job while I enjoyed a nice glass of brandy and made sure Lex was tucked into bed.”

 

            “That’s because you don’t love her!”

 

            She couldn’t see Lillian’s face, but she felt her stiffen, her tone turning frosty as she grabbed Kara’s shoulder and turned her around, giving her a push into the dimly lit passageway. “If you think that I don’t love my daughter, then you have a very narrow view of love. I didn’t say I’ve always loved her in the right way, but I’ve always put her best interests first. Your mother and I have that in common.”

 

            Her voice was low and hollow in the hallway as her heels clicked after Kara. “What’re you doing?”

 

            “Well if you won’t go back inside, then we’re wasting time arguing, so I might as well come with you and see my granddaughter back in my daughter’s arms. The way I see it, I’m no longer the worst mother in existence, so I might as well capitalise off of that.”

 

            Letting out a snort of laughter, the hysterical sound bubbling up before she could stop it, Kara shook her head, a slight smile gracing her lips in wry amusement. Lillian wasn’t wrong; compared to Alura, she was positively nurturing and sweet. It struck Kara again at how she’d been so wrong . She had never even considered her own family, not even Astra, although she’d had reason to there, and she felt ashamed at how quickly she’d been willing to throw Lena’s family under the bus. Especially now that Lillian was offering her help.

 

            It was an uncomfortably quiet walk through the passageway, turning cornes and walking down steps as they moved deeper into the dank coldness beneath the palace. Kara was all too aware of how much time was slipping by, and considering the fact that there was no confirmation that they’d stopped Alura or anyone else with a newborn, Kara assumed that she’d slipped out of the palace before they’d managed to enforce the lockdown. She was brimming with unbridled anger when they reached the basement and made for one of the service tunnels. All of the secret passageways came out into the cold cellar beneath the palace, the panelled walls hiding a number of doorways, and she cast a look around at the collection of dusty boxes and crates, holding supplies and deliveries that hadn’t been taken upstairs to the kitchens or wine cellars yet.

 

            They took the main service tunnel, the wide space able to fit a whole truck through it, and broad sweeps of Vasquez’s flashlight illuminated the dank tunnel, until tiny fluorescent lights came into sight. They followed the asphalt, the damp patches of water and oil catching the light as they walked on and on. Kara wanted to curse how big the palace was, filled with the thought of being too late to find her daughter. She should’ve know that her mom was after more than just a conversation and a chance to see the babies. She should’ve known, and she was kicking herself for her stupidity.

 

            Still it wasn’t long before they made it to a gated underpass near the gates of the palace, the gate, two large doors crafted out of two feet of steel and all but impenetrable. There were guards with rifles outside, much like every other entrance in the palace, but they turned their attention to a small door set within the confines of the tunnel, unguarded and leading down deeper into the bedrock of the city. It was another five minutes of walking before they started climbing back up, and Kara found herself stepping out into a comfortable foyer, the black and white marble floor stretching out beneath her feet as she stepped out from the cupboard beneath the curving staircase. A chandelier cast a halo of light over them as they all blinked at the brightness. It was a safe house just across the street from the palace, an old building that was typically empty, and kept fully stocked in case they needed to slip out unnoticed, yet still near enough for them to be close to the guards crawling over the palace.

 

            “She’s not here,” Vasquez said a moment later, her flashlight having briefly illuminated the front sitting room, while the other guards fanned out to check the other rooms on the bottom floor.

 

            “Of course she’s not,” Lillian huffed, “what idiot would sit around waiting, knowing that she could be discovered at any moment? The real question is where would she go from here? She has limited resources. Everything that once belonged to her would’ve been claimed upon her death, and is now in your possession. She couldn’t have bought anything here, because she’s been in Daxam for over a decade, relying on her sister’s fortune and that God awful anti-monarchist hate group to fund her.”

 

            Kara pulled her phone out of her pocket, her fingers trembling as she scrolled through her contacts and found Astra’s number. She pressed call and listened to it ring three times, before it was answered. “Where is she?” she asked, skipping the niceties.

 

            Her aunt paused for a moment, “what did she do?”

 

            “Don’t act as if you don’t know.”

 

            “I don’t. I promise you, I don’t know. I knew she was going to do something , but I wasn’t sure what. That’s why I was coming to tell you to be on your guard. She wants something, and I’m not sure-”

 

            “My daughter,” Kara tightly replied, “she wanted my daughter. And she has her. So if you know where she is, or where she’s going - if you’ve ever loved me for even a moment, like you say you have - tell me where she is.”

 

            She heard her aunt’s indrawn breath and soft sigh, the knowledge that she had to choose between her sister and her niece, and Kara had to strain her ears to listen to her reply. “She’s not coming back to Daxam with me. I saw that she had two train tickets for the Kandor line.”

 

            Hanging up without another word, Kara turned to Lillian, her face taut with anger and her blue eyes burning with fierce determination. “She’s going home. Bokos Palace.” Turning to Vasquez, she gave her an urgent look. “Get a car. Break the windows and hotwire it if you must. Just get the first car you see and get me to the train station immediately.”

 

            Everyone was a flurry of activity, and the guards outside didn’t seem surprised in the slightest as the queen emerged from the modest townhouse. They were as much on alert as the palace guards, and they bowed as she passed by, following after Vasquez as quickly as she could, her bodyguard running over to the first car she saw parked on the curb. It had tiny little Kryptonian flags attached to the front of it, and she barked an order to one of the guards on post outside the front doors of the house, catching the keys that were thrown towards her. There were too many of them to all fit inside the car, and Kara and Lillian crammed themselves in alongside five guards, while another four went in search of their own car.

 

            It was an uncomfortable ride towards the train station, with everyone practically seated on top of each other, the bulky muscles guards trying to give the royals as much room as they could, despite the fact that there was little they could do to shrink in size, and Kara was sure that Vasquez broke every road rule as she tore through red lights, cut people off and was pushing twice the speed limit. Police were everywhere, as well as military trucks, and Kara peered out the tinted windows with relief and fear. She had a whole country at her disposal, and thousands of people whose job it was to find her daughter, yet she was racing against her mom, and someone who had managed to stay dead for over a decade wasn’t someone to be trifled with.

 

            She called Alex on the drive there, relaying what had happened so far, although it had been less than an hour since she’d left her, and asked her to tell Lena. She wasn’t sure if she could keep her voice even enough to tell Lena herself, and she didn’t want to worry her wife further. It would’ve been killing her not to know what was happening though, and Kara had to let her know. She left out the part about Lillian being there for now though - it didn’t seem important - focusing on the fact that she was going north, up to the mountains, where she was sure her mom would be hiding out, at least for the time being. No doubt that was just a small stop on her way to some secret location where no one would find her, but she needed somewhere to go right now.

 

            Another call was made on Kara’s behalf, to cancel all trains leaving Argo City, and when they pulled into the parking lot of the train station, they were greeted by armed police officers and escorted to the platform where the Kandor line departed from. The last train had left twenty minutes ago, and Kara blinked back tears of frustration, knowing that her mother would’ve been on that one. Commandeering another train, it was another half an hour before she found herself anxiously pacing back and forth in the first class cabin. Despite the fact that she was breastfeeding, she couldn’t stop herself from pouring a double of sherry, knocking it back and filling the glass again. Lillian was silent as one of her own guards brought her a glass of deep red wine, and the colour made Kara sick as she thought of the small gun tucked in her pocket.

 

            It was with perfect clarity that she knew that she could kill Alura for this. The thought frightened her, but she knew she could do it, and she poured herself another drink to keep the tremors at bay. It was going to be a long ride, and it wasn’t until after the first hour of pacing back and forth that Lillian impatiently snapped at her to sit down. Shocked by the scolding, Kara sank down onto one of the plush seats, separated from Lillian, who was sitting across from her, by a wooden table, and she tried her best to swallow her fear as the purplish blue of dusk turned everything to shadowy blurs outside the moving carriage. Lillian pushed another glass of alcohol towards her, and Kara considered the fact that she’d already had three doubles in the past hour, but threw all caution to the wind and decided that she needed it to stay calm, because if she dwelled too much on the roiling nausea in her stomach, and terrifying thoughts swirling around in her mind, she would be a mess long before the train ride ended.

 

            Much to her surprise, she didn’t recall much of the rest of the train ride, and as she dragged her burning eyelids open, finding a tall woman standing over her as the train screeched to a grinding stop, Kara realised that she didn’t remember anything after the drink she’d accepted off Lillian. “You drugged me,” she thickly slurred, her thoughts muggy with the last vestiges of sleep as she pushed herself to her feet.

 

            “Yes.”

 

            They left it at that, with Kara having more important matters to focus on, and realising that she wasn’t really that mad, considering the fact that she’d mercifully been knocked out for the past five hours or so. She could be made after she had her daughter back. Right now, she was pleasantly warm from the buzz of alcohol still coursing through her body, enough to keep her calm instead of jittery, and she was steady as she stepped off the train at the last stop.

 

            The car ride through the twisting and climbing foothills at the base of the mountain range made her regret drinking, but made her grateful for the fact that she’d never made it through the afternoon tea, because her stomach was mercifully empty. The snowcapped mountains grew bigger as they sped towards them, the car seeming weightless for a few moments whenever they crested the top of a hill, and Kara kept her eyes squeezed shut, silently praying that Alura was still there. She wouldn’t know what to tell Lena is she was too late. It could take them months, or even years, to track her down, if they did.

 

            Eventually they slipped through the open gates - a good sign - and pulled up outside the front of the palace, Kara having ordered them to cut the headlights as they approached, and she swallowed the lump in her throat as she stared at the dark car parked in the shadows of the pine trees encroaching on the winding path. Unbuckling her seatbelt, Kara took a deep breath to try and quell her nerves, her heart hammering in her chest. The interior of the car was deathly quiet as Vasquez cut the engine.

 

            “Everyone stay here. I’m going in alone,” Kara quietly ordered them.

 

            “Your Majesty-”

 

            “It wasn’t a request. Give me a chance to talk her down. If I’m not out in an hour, then come in.”

 

            Lillian’s guard opened the door and climbed out, letting Kara slip out after him, pausing for a moment as Lillian’s hand snaked around her wrist, and the older woman gave her a cold order to be careful. Her sharpness reminded Kara of her mother, and it occurred to her that Lillian understood Alura. She wasn’t quite on her level, but she understood her motives, her thoughts and actions. Her warning wasn’t idly given.

 

            Without another word, Kara was walking across the gravelled courtyard, the dark palace looming out of the night, and she shivered in the cold mountain air, wishing she’d brought a coat. It didn’t matter right now though, and she quickly climbed the steps and let herself into the palace.

 

            It was dark inside, and the sound of the door closing behind her echoed faintly in the large foyer, every sound seeming even louder in the quietness of the place. She’d only ever been there when it had been full of life, with bustling servants in the background, her friends and family’s shouts and laughter echoing down hallways, and bright lights and fires making the place seem warm and homely. In the early spring weather, without any fires in the empty grates, the air was frigid, and the blanket of night was impenetrable. Still, Kara had grown up in the palace, for a while, and she retraced familiar steps in the dark, her hand gliding along the varnish wood of the bannister as her footsteps were muffled by the carpet. The only sounds she could hear were the howling wind outside, the creaks and groans of the ancient building, and her own pulse in her ears.

 

            She didn’t know how she knew, but she just knew that her mom would be in the nursery, purely because it was the most logical place to take a newborn baby. By now, Lirael would be fussy and crying to be fed, needed to be changed, and tired. She’d probably exhausted herself out on the train ride, and the first thing Alura would need to do was get her sorted out. The old nursery of the third floor would supply her with a crib and a changing table, and she no doubt had everything else already prepared for the kidnapping.

 

            Moving as quickly as she could, although a little wary and hesitant as she made her way upstairs, passing furniture draped in white sheets, giving the palace and even eerier feeling, she soon found herself standing outside of the nursery door, listening to the whispered sound of her mom singing to the baby. Pausing in her tracks, Kara was hit by strong emotions as she realised it was a Kryptonian lullaby Alura had used to sing to her at night, for as long as Kara could remember, and tears stung her eyes as she listened. Blinking them back, she reaching out and gave the door a gentle push, the oiled hinges silently swinging in, as the bottom of the door ever so slightly dragged on the thick carpet, disturbing the quiet singing with a small hissing sound, announcing Kara’s arrival.

 

            Stepping into the room, she took in the silhouette of her mom sitting in a wingback armchair, no doubt like she’d used to when she rocked Kara in her arms, in that very same chair. Feeling all of her anger fade away, Kara’s shoulders slumped, and she let out a shuddering sob, an overwhelming feeling of sadness rising within. “Please.”

 

            “I’m surprised you came yourself,” Alura murmured, sounding as calm as ever, as if nothing fazed her. Her dark hair hid her face from sight as she stared down at the shadowy face of the baby.

 

            “She’s my daughter. Why would you take her from me?” Her anger was rising again and she blinked back angry tears, feeling hot as she started to get worked up.

 

            Her mom’s head rose, and Kara found herself staring at the pale face with dark features, still just as alien as before. She couldn’t read the expression on Alura’s face in the dark, and she was scared for the first time that maybe she’d misjudged her mother’s love for her. All of a sudden, it didn’t seem quite so safe to be there alone. Slipping her hand into her pocket, Kara wrapped her fingers around the gun, drawing comfort from the knowledge that she could defend her daughter if the need should arise.

 

            With a sigh, Alura tilted her head to the side, cradling the bundle against her chest, making Kara’s chest tighten with the urge to lunge forward and take Lirael from her arms. Her mouth was dry with fear, and she couldn’t move as she listened to her mom talk.

 

            “You’ve been away from her for less than eight hours. It hurts, doesn’t it? That knowledge that you might never see her again? Imagine knowing that you wouldn’t see her again for seventeen years.”

 

            “Is that what this is about?” Kara sharply asked, her voice trembling slightly, “you want me to understand what it was like for you? Well I don’t. You gave me up. She was taken from me. Those are two very separate things. Give me back my daughter, and I’ll let you walk free.”

 

            Alura let out a quiet laugh, the sound airy and full of delight, as if Kara had said something surprisingly funny. “You know nothing of my pain, darling. This is just a glimpse at what torture I went through. Watching you on the TV, in those interviews, and in the paper. Your photo everywhere, watching you grow up without me there. I’d resigned myself to the fact that I would never see you again. I did that for you. I sacrificed so much for you, and could you honestly admit that you wouldn’t do the same for her? For both of them. Give them a chance at a better life.”

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Kara shook her head, her voice hoarse as she replied. “No. I wouldn’t- I could never hurt Lena. I’d do anything for them, but that . You- all of your pain, you brought it on yourself. I have no sympathy for you.”

 

            Rising to her feet in fluid motion, Alura froze as Kara found herself pointing the pistol at her mom, her heart seizing with panic as her hand shook. With a snort of laughter, Alura shook her head, her face splitting into a smile as she gave Kara glimpse of perfect white teeth. “Oh, you foolish, little girl. We both know you could never bring yourself to hurt me. You couldn’t even stand fox hunts. Just the thought of hurting someone always made you cry. You’re too soft at heart, my darling, and it’s okay. You don’t need to do the things I’ve done. I did them for you, to spare you.”

 

            Kara closed her eyes for a moment, drawing in a shuddering breath, filling her with courage, before her eyelids snapped open and she gave her mom a hard look, jaw clenching as she ground her teeth together to stop her voice from shaking. “You’re wrong, you know. I said I could never kill Lena , but you’re right that I would do anything else for them. Even if it meant hurting you. Now, give her to me. This is your last chance to give her to me and walk free. I have guards waiting outside that’ll arrest you if you give up now.”

 

            “I just want a second chance with you,” Alura sighed, a yearning note in her voice as she gave Kara a pleading look.

 

            Faltering for a moment, Kara’s bottom lip wobbled, and she blinked back tears of heartbreak. “It’s too late for that now. If you’d- I might’ve been able to learn to forgive you, eventually, if you hadn’t- why did you do this?”

 

            Angry tears slid down her cheeks, and Kara angrily brushed them away, her gun hand shaking so badly as she tried to keep it trained on her mom. “I needed you. I didn’t need a- a crown, or a country, I just needed you . You think that you gave me a better life, but you made it worse. The only things I can say I’m thankful for are my wife and the Danvers’. So if you want me to thank you for what you did, then thank you. Thank you for giving me a sister, and a mother that actually loved me, because whatever- whatever this is, it is not love. It’s sick and twisted, and I don’t want anything to do with you. You’ll never come near my children again, do you hear me?”

 

            “I could take her if I wanted to,” Alura simply stated. “You and I both know that thing in your hand wouldn’t be able to stop me.” She drifted towards Kara, almost murmuring to herself as she slowly crossed the distance, looking down at the baby with a fond look on her face as she rocked her. “You’d know how much it truly hurt then. You’d lose your wife too; I don’t think she’d be able to forgive you for your family.”

 

            She came to a stop a few feet away from Kara, who held her arm out for Lirael, trying to stop herself from shaking, and Alura looked up at her, a flicker of regret passing across her face, and she held the bundle out towards her. “But I do love you, and I don’t want you to live the life I have.” Kara scrambled to take her daughter, relief washing over her so intensely that her knees buckled beneath her. “I don’t want you to live with that kind of pain.”

 

            Kara gave her a stony look, the gun shaking in her hand as she kept it pointed at her mom, and she opened her mouth to say something when a loud, ear-splitting noise filled the room as the gunshot broke the hushed quietness of the moment. Jumping as a warm spray of blood spattered her face and chest, Kara stood there gaping, a scream caught in her throat as the gun fell to the floor with a muffled thump. Alura opened and closed her mouth, black looking blood spilling from her mouth and dripping down her chin as she stared at Kara with wide eyes, her hand frantically rising to her throat as she fumbled for the dark ragged edges of the bullet hole.

 

            Eyes wide with shock, Kara numbly watched as her mom fell to her knees, clawing at her throat as she made pitiful choking sounds, hot blood coursing out of her mouth and staining her hands with it. Stumbling backwards in a hurry, Kara stared at her, transfixed by the sight of the dying woman, before warm hands were urgently shaking her. Blinking herself out of her frozen state, Kara’s mouth uselessly made the name of the short woman standing in front of her.

 

            “Kara!” Maggie snapped, her voice urgent as she shook her, a drawn look on her face as she breathed heavily. “You need to go. Now.”

 

            Stiffly shaking her head, Kara drew in a shallow breath, the coppery smell of blood clinging to her skin making her feel nauseous, and she looked down at the crying baby in her arms, her stomach turning at the sight of a few dark flecks on her daughter’s cheek. With unsteady fingers, Kara clumsily wiped the blood away, choking on loud sobs as her mind tried to process what had just happened.

 

            “Give her to me,” Maggie insisted, reaching for the baby, which Kara quickly jerked out of her reach, listening to the sounds of Alura choking on the carpet.

 

            Sinking down to her knees, Kara reached out with her free hand, cupping her mom’s cheek in her hand as she turned her head towards her. Wide dark eyes met her own, round with fear, and Kara let out a pitiful moan, even as Alura’s face split into a bloody smile, her eyes sparkling with tears as she licked at her bloody lips. Her mouth tried to form Kara’s name, and Kara let out another sob, the sound hitching in her throat as a blood slicked hand reached out to touch her cheek. Maggie’s hand was on her shoulder, trying to urge her away, but Kara was frozen, watching as her mother died. This time, for real. It seemed a long time, and Kara couldn’t help but think about how they made it look so quick in movies. Death was anything but quick, and full of suffering. She stayed kneeling on the floor, her daughter cradled against her blood spattered chest, until the heaving chest of the woman stretched out on the floor stopped, a wispy breath escaping bloody lips and the body stiffening as death took hold.

 

            Maggie was shaking her again, her grip insistent as she tried to pull Kara’s limp form to her feet. “Kara. It’s time to go. There’s nothing you can do for her now. She’s already gone.”

 

            “She was my mom,” she numbly murmured, her eyes glassy as she finally climbed to her feet at Maggie’s urging, her legs threatening to give way beneath her as her knees wobbled.

 

            She felt Maggie stiffen beside her, a choked sound of surprise falling from her lips as she looked at Kara with wide eyes. Oblivious to her surroundings, Kara didn’t notice, and didn’t care, turning around and walking out of the nursery without further delay. She had what she’d come for.

 

            They were just walking down the main, curved staircase when dark figures with their guns drawn slipped in through the open doors, and at the sight of Kara with the bundle in her arms, they all froze for a moment, still on edge as they took in the figure escorting her downstairs. A few of them seemed to recognise Maggie, and they lowered their weapons, falling in around Kara as she numbly walked towards the cold wind sneaking in through the door. It was time to go home.

 

            Lillian didn’t utter a word as Kara slipped in beside her, although her wide eyes took in the blood covering Kara’s face, and she reached out to touch her granddaughter’s cheek for a moment. Maggie slid in beside Kara, taking the seat of one of the other guards, and the rest folded their bulky forms into the other car that Alura had taken there. Without further ado, they set off back down the frost covered driveway, slipping out of the gates and pulled over at Maggie’s insistence. A nearby field held the distinct shape of a helicopter, reflecting the moonlight as it stood waiting, and Maggie helped Kara out of the car and began to usher her towards it. Lillian and Vasquez followed without question, as well as one of Lillian’s guards. With quick words into her radio, Vasquez ordered the rest to take the train back to Argo City, and their small party soon found themselves strapped into the helicopter. Kara had refused to let go of Lirael, even to climb into the chopper, and she pressed the baby’s warmth to her cheek, the blood already dried to her skin now, and breathed in the smell of her.

 

            The flight back to Argo City was quicker than the train ride out of it, and they were landing within three hours of taking off, the city spread out beneath them in a web of lights. She’d been unable to talk on the phone on the way back, too consumed by her own thoughts and wrapped up in the feeling of her daughter in her arms, but Lillian had made a few calls on her behalf, assuring Lena that they were both okay and calling off the city-wide lockdowns. By the time they made towards Sunstone Palace, the military humvees that had been patrolling the city streets were all gone, and the flashing police lights and sirens were the ordinary kind of first responders racing to incidents. Everything was just as it usually was as they drove through the city, the heavy silence hanging over the occupants of the car, and soon enough they were pulling up to the gates of the palace. Guards were crawling around the place, even in the lateness of the night, and after it was confirmed that Kara was inside the car, they were waved through without hesitation.

 

            Relief at being home hit her with such intense relief that she nearly keeled over on the steps of the East Entrance, and filled with a bone-deep weariness, she forced herself to keep going. Up a small, winding staircase, down the hallway, up another staircase, and a left and then a right later, she was pushing open the door to the nursery, quiet as possible as she poked her head in. Lena was stretched out on the sofa, Eilis swaddled against her chest, and Eliza and Alex were both lightly dozing in armchairs. At the sound of the door opening, Lena’s head jerked around, and with a small cry of surprise, she was on her feet in a moment, startling the two sleeping women as she flew across the room and barrelled into Kara, mindful of the two princesses.

 

            Dissolving into tears, Lena reached out to take Lirael from her, drawing in a shuddering breath as she let Kara take Eilis off her, and they both held onto their daughters, basking in the feeling of having them both safe there with them. Then Lena looked at Kara again, and her face crumpled as she took in the blood dried to Kara’s face, reaching out to hesitantly trace her cheek with cold fingers. “Kara,” Lena hoarsely murmured, an ache in her voice as she gave her wife a look of such heartfelt sadness.

 

            “It’s okay,” Kara whispered, reaching up to cover Lena’s hand with her own, closing her eyes for a brief moment, before she turned her head and pressed a soft kiss to the palm of Lena’s hand. “It’s okay.”

 

            She looked up as Alex walked towards her, giving her a wary look before giving her a gentle hug, while Eliza came over to her too, a sad look in her blue eyes as she came to the conclusion what the blood meant. She gave Kara a small nod, reaching out to cup her cheek for a second, before doing the same to her granddaughter. As Alex moved away from Kara, she followed her gaze to find Maggie standing behind her, wearing her customary dark suit and lingering uncertainly just inside the doorway.

 

            Alex opened her mouth to say something and Kara quickly cut her off, resting her hand on her sister’s arm. “She helped. Don’t be mad-”

 

            Much to her surprise, Alex let out a quick laugh, her anxious eyes filling with amusement for a moment. “I know, you silly girl. I called her.”

 

            “Y-you did?”

 

            With a tight smile, Alex nodded, giving Maggie a smile as well. “You needed someone you could trust.”

 

            “I didn’t know she was your mom. I thought she- she was dead,” Maggie quietly said, her voice hesitant and apologetic. "I would've- I thought she was going to-"

 

            “It's okay, Maggie. I buried her a long time ago,” Kara said, giving her a grateful look. She hadn’t had time to process the fact that Alura had been giving up, had already handed Lirael over to her when Maggie shot her in the throat. But she wasn’t angry. She would never be angry at Maggie for coming to ensure that her daughter was safe. “Thank you. Thank you for being there.”

 

            “We made a deal,” she said, giving Kara a half-hearted smile. “I protect you and your babies. Alex called me to tell me where you were going, and that you might be in danger.”

 

            “I’m sorry,” Alex whispered, “I didn’t want you to have to be the one … I wanted to spare you that at least. She’d already hurt you so much. I didn't have time to tell Maggie-”

 

            Reaching out, Kara pressed her forehead against her sister’s, finding herself choked up with emotion, and she blinked back the burning feeling in her eyes as she wrapped an arm around Alex and held her close for a few moments. Pulling back, she let out a weary sigh, rubbing the sleeve of her shirt across her forehead and blanching slightly at the lingering smell of blood.

 

            “I need- I have to go,” she blurted out, turning around and making for the door, stepping out into the hallway with Lena frantically hurrying to keep up with her.

 

            They walked down the hallway, just a few doors down, and slipped into their suite, and Kara promptly burst into tears. Jess poked her head out of the bedroom, an apologetic look on her face as the sound of running water reached Kara’s ears, and she made herself scarce, leaving Kara alone with her wife and children. Lena guided her over to the sofa, sitting down beside her and wrapping an arm around her, before resting her chin on Kara’s shoulder. It was late and they were both tired, the overwhelming fear they’d endured making them even more exhausted, and Kara handed Eilis over to Lena.

 

            “She needs feeding,” she murmured, nodding her head at Lirael, “I couldn’t- I drank on the train. Sorry.”

 

            Placing a gentle kiss to her cheek, Lena gave her a sorrowful look, her green eyes circled with shadows, and her lips curled up into a tiny smile. “It’s okay, you don’t need to apologise. Go and get in the bath, I’ll come and help you in a minute.”

 

            Nodding, Kara did as she was told, shuffling into the bedroom, then on into the steamy bathroom, her clumsy fingers unbuttoning her shirt, before she stripped off the rest of her clothes and stepped into the hot water. It helped her stiff muscles relax slightly, and she slipped beneath the surface for a moment, slicking back her hair and resting back against the porcelain rim of the tub. She hadn’t looked at her reflection - she’d been too scared to see what she looked like - but she watched as pale pink drops fell into the bath, eddying as the blood mingled with the bathwater. Reaching up with a trembling hand, she pressed her palm against her cheek, much like her mother had, and let out a choked sound as she lowered it again, staring at the traces of blood clinging to her wet hand.

 

            Lena came in not too long after, both babies only the next room over, fed and content as they rested in their bassinets, and she knelt by the side of the bath, giving Kara a concerned look as she reached for the bar of soap and a white flannel. As tenderly as if she was bathing one of the babies, she wet the flannel and carefully started to wipe the blood off of Kara’s face, her fingers gentle as she gripped Kara’s chin to carefully tilt her head this way and that. The bath quickly turned pink with blood, and Lena pulled the plug, before refilling it. Scrubbing her wife clean, and then washing her hair, she helped Kara out of the bath, fetching a fluffy robe for her and pressing a lingering kiss to her soft lips.

 

            By the time Kara emerged from the bathroom, she was squeaky clean and smelling faintly of rose petals instead of blood, her frazzled hair had been washed and blowdried, and she was wearing her favourite pair of pyjamas. The covers had already been turned down on the bed, and a mug of hot chocolate was steaming on the nightstand, an absurd mountain of marshmallows piled on top of as they melted into the drink. Two bassinets were neatly lined up against one wall, and she walked over to the, to stare down at the dark haired babies sleeping peacefully in them. Reaching out she, picked up the bunny rabbit that Lena had first bought all those months ago, when they were still having trouble getting pregnant, and tucked the blankets up under Lirael’s chin, before setting the rabbit back in the bassinet beside her. Gently stroking Eilis’ raven hair, Kara nestled in the soft grey bear they’d got for her and tucked her in tighter as well.

 

            As she stood there watching them both sleep, the sharp feeling of tears pricking her eyes again, she felt warm arms wind around her waist and a chin come down on her shoulders, and Lena gave her a gentle squeeze as they watched the young princesses sleep. Letting out a heavy sigh, weighed down with confused feelings of grief and relief, Kara rested her head against Lena’s, and for that moment, everything was almost back to normal again. And even if it wasn’t, they were all together and safe.

 

            “Well … maybe we’ll have one, just one , month of peace and quiet now,” Kara eventually said, and Lena kissed her on the cheek in a reassuring reply.

Chapter Text

            For the next week, Kara was almost a recluse. Rumours had circulated about the lockdown on the palace and the heavy military and police patrols that night, but they’d been smoothed over by Kara’s head of Public Affairs, as well as a statement from Hank Henshaw on behalf of the military. The headlines attributed it to nothing more than a security breach of the Crown’s personal servers, containing confidential files. A woman had been apprehended, and as Kara stared at the face of the nanny who’d made off with her daughter, she felt a flicker of satisfaction, knowing that she’d be prosecuted and locked away for a long time. She couldn’t help but wonder how much Alura had offered her. Her mother’s body had been recovered at Kara’s request, and a few days later she’d secretly been buried in her family’s mausoleum, with no service or ceremony, already supposed to have been dead. It was the most that she could offer Alura, given her conflicted feelings about her.

 

            No statements were given by any of the Royal Family, or close friends, and Kara didn’t make any appearances outside of the palace. Most of her time, she sat in the nursery, with Lena, stretched out on the carpeted floor with the two princesses, now a month old, nursing them in the armchairs, or Kara would sing little rhymes and Lena would speak to them in different languages. For the most part, the newborns slept intermittently, blissfully unaware of the two mom’s anxiously watching over them, but when they were awake, they were happily snuggled without much fuss. They never made much of a fuss. It was a relief for Kara, to have a bit of peace for herself, but it also gave her too much time to think.

 

            She’d been sat in the nursery, sitting in the patch of weak sunlight streaming in through the large window, both babies in their bassinets, when Lena walked in. Mid-morning tea was brought in behind her, with a collection of fruits and tiny, perfect cakes, and she gave her wife a tired smile as Lena walked over to her, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. A small table was set up for them so that they could enjoy their tea, and Kara quietly let Lena pour a cup of Earl Grey for her.

 

            “I’ve invited Alex and Eliza for lunch,” Lena eventually broke the silence, gently blowing on the steaming cup as she waited for Kara’s reply.

 

            With a small sigh, she grimaced. “I’m not that hungry.”

 

            As she reached for one of the small cakes, Lena jerked the plate out of reach and gave her a reproving look. “Then I’ll send these back to the kitchens, shall I?” she asked, arching an eyebrow. As Kara opened her mouth to object, Lena let out a quick laugh and slid the plate back towards her, her expression softening slightly. “You haven’t seen them all week, Kara. Alex thinks you’re avoiding her.”

 

            “I am.”

 

            “Oh?”

 

            Swallowing the lump in her throat, Kara pulled her hand back from the little lemon cake topped with whipped cream, her appetite somewhat diminished as she settled back in her chair. She didn’t know what to say, how to properly explain what she was feeling, and she wished that Lena would stop looking at her.

 

            “That’s why you’ve been shutting yourself up in here so much?”

 

            “No, I just- I don’t want to leave them alone. It’s not about Alex, not really.

 

            “She wanted to protect you, you know. She thinks you blame her for … well, Maggie.”

 

            Shaking her head, Kara gave her a conflicted look. “No. No, I could never blame her for that, or blame Maggie either. I just … I feel guilty. I feel guilty, because for the first time since I was thirteen, I’m not afraid anymore. It’s like … like this giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I didn’t even know I was carrying it, because it just got heavier and heavier as the years went by. And I thought knowing that it was her … I thought that had made it all okay, but it didn’t. There was only one way this could’ve ended. I realise now that if I’d let her go … I’d spend the rest of my life afraid. And I feel guilty, because I’m relieved . I’m relieved that my own mother is dead, and I shouldn’t- I don’t feel bad . I feel guilty because I should be mourning her, but I just … I can’t. I spent too long doing that - all those years - and she’s been dead in my mind for so long, and now … I don’t know what I’ve lost. I’m confused, because I’m upset, but I think I’m only upset because I should be upset. I don’t feel … well, anything. This past week, I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about it, and I just feel light , and that frightens me a little.”

 

            Slowly climbing to her feet, Lena rounded the table and sank down to her knees, reaching out to brush Kara’s hair out of her face, a soft look of sadness in her green eyes, and she gave her a wavering smile. “It’s okay to be confused. The past couple of months have been … bloody crazy. I wouldn’t expect you to be okay .”

 

            “But you are.”

 

            “I haven’t gone through the same things you have. The most stressful thing I’ve had to go through over the past year was early labour and my daughter being kidnapped. You … well, you went through that and more . And I’m not nearly as okay as you think I am; I’m worried about you.”

 

            Letting out a soft laugh, Kara gave her a smile, covering her hand with her own as she leant into Lena’s warm touch. “You don’t have to worry about me.”

 

            “Of course I do,” Lena brusquely replied, “I’m your wife. You’re mine to worry about. And right now, I’m worried that you’re shutting yourself off too much.”

 

            Wrinkling her nose slightly, Kara smiled, “are you giving me advice on opening up? I might be the queen of Krypton, but darling, you’re the queen of isolation.”

 

            “I know, so I know how it feels. Just … have lunch with your family. Take a break from the nursery, and let people who love you, and our daughter’s, show it. You still have a family, Kara.”

 

            Leaning forward, she gently kissed Lena, feeling some of the tension fade as she pulled away and let her forehead fall down onto Lena’s shoulder. Arms wrapped around her shoulders, and Kara exhaled heavily, sagging slightly in Lena’s embrace. The comforting smell of familiar perfume enveloped her, and she could almost hear her wife’s heart beating strongly as they stayed that way for a few moments. When she pulled back, Kara gave her a convincing smile, waving Lena back to her feet and offering a hand to help her. Returning to her seat, Lena watched her closely for a few moments, and with a smile, Kara picked up the little lemon cake and took a bite.

 

            “Well, at least it’s all over now,” she said with some finality, her voice light as her eyes crinkled slightly at the corners.

 

            “Thank fuck for that. I swear, it was like a game of bloody Cluedo for a few weeks there,” Lena half-heartedly joked.

 

            “I wish it had been Colonel Mustard, with a candlestick, in the Ballroom,” Kara snorted, “at least that would’ve been easier.”

 

            “I wish it had been my mom,” Lena quietly admitted. “I think that would’ve made both of us feel better. She’s always been a right cow, and it would’ve given me a more valid reason to hate her. It would’ve let your memories stay in the past.”

 

            Grimacing, Kara arched an eyebrow slightly, and the grimace couldn’t help but turn into a slight smile. “Your mom’s actually been quite nice. I mean, she drugged me, but aside from that, it was nice to have some company outside of people I personally care about. I feel like she would’ve rained hell on her , if she needed to. I’m just glad she wasn’t at the palace for the confrontation.”

 

            Shaking her head, Lena frowned slightly, although her voice was full of amusement and mild bewilderment when she spoke. “She’s an odd one, for sure. I never know what she wants, or what she’ll do next.”

 

            “I do. She wants us to go to Thorul for Easter.”

 

            “Ah … well, at least we don’t have to worry about that until next year.”

 

            “Next year. God, can you imagine them being one? They’re still so tiny.”

 

            “I wish they didn’t have to grow up. I want the world to be kind to them, and I don’t think it will be. But they’ll have us to love them enough to make up for it.”

 

            Kara took a sip of tea, casting a look in the direction of the bassinets. “It’s enough to make me want to give all of this up. This life.”

 

            An uncertain look flickered across Lena’s face, and Kara knew that a small part of it was hope, but mostly a wariness, as if she wasn’t quite sure if Kara was joking or not. “We could. If you wanted to, I mean. You know I wouldn’t stop you.” She let out a quick laugh, a wry smile curling her lips. “But I also know you, and I know you don’t really mean that.”

 

            Sighing, Kara set her cup back down, giving her an exasperated look. “No, I don’t. I don’t think I could bear all of this being for nothing. If I abolished the monarchy, then everything that happened … it was all pointless.”

 

            Tilting her head to the side with a thoughtful look on her face, Lena slowly shook her head. “No, not entirely. If you abolished it, we’d still have each other.”

 

            Letting her eyelids flutter closed, a small smile graced Kara’s face and softened her expression, her heart aching a little as it swelled with love. “It might be selfish of me to say it, but I wouldn’t trade you for anything. There are few good things that came out of what she did, but you, the babies, Alex and Eliza … my family was one of them. It makes it hurt a little less.”

 

            Climbing to her feet, Lena held out her hand, which Kara slowly reached out to take, letting herself be pulled to her feet. They made their way over to the bassinets, and Kara smiled as she saw Lirael staring up at her, green and blue eyes open and slightly unfocused. She was the quieter of the two babies, content to lay in the crib until she needed to be fed or changed, and Kara reached out to smooth the tuft of dark hair down as she glanced over at Eilis, fast asleep and tightly wrapped up in her blankets. Reaching down to carefully pick Lirael up, Lena transferred her over to Kara, her fingertips lingering just a moment longer, before she rested her chin on her wife’s shoulder and joined her in staring down at the quiet baby. Kara gazed down at her with love and pride as she cradled her daughter against her, the solid warmth a comfort to ease the occasional bout of guilt.

 

            “She’s the best thing to come out of this,” Lena agreed, “both of them. I’d sign a thousand contracts for this. This feeling. It’s funny, I never thought I’d ever feel this way. That I’d ever be maternal . Could be a wife and love my children.”

 

            “I never thought it would feel like this,” Kara murmured in agreement.

 

            Eyebrows rising slightly as Lena stole a kiss on the cheek, Kara smiled, feeling better with every moment spent with her small family. A few minutes with Lena, being open and honest, had chased away the heaviness in her heart and her brooding mood, and she slowly walked over to the low sofa, with Lena torn for a moment as she looked from Eilis to her wife and other daughter, before scooping up the sleeping baby and shrugging at Kara.

 

            “They need feeding soon anyway.”

 

            Grimacing, Kara nodded as Lena walked towards her, her face brightening up as she stared at the other princess, a slight frown puckering her forehead as she restlessly squirmed in Lena’s arm, tiny hands clenched into fists. Swapping over babies, Kara lovingly watched Eilis sleep, running a gentle finger over one round cheek, slightly flushed, giving her pallid skin some colour. So far, it had been agreed that for the most part, they both looked somewhat more like Kara than Lena, except for their dark hair, porcelain complexion, and one green eye. So far, Kara was having a hard time seeing it, and she couldn’t help but wonder what they’d look like when they were older. Maybe they’d look the same, or one of them would take after Kara, and the other, after Lena. It was an exciting prospect, and Kara could envision their future as a family as she sat there nursing the baby. It was a good future, and she finally felt free of the anxiety that had plagued her for years, but more so during her pregnancy, knowing that it was safe for her to paint a picture of that life for them.

 

            They sat in comfortable silence for a while, Kara eventually drifting in and out of consciousness as she lightly dozed, while Lena fed both of the babies. It was a mild day, the sky a pale blue and the gardens filled with the perfume of freshly blossoming flowers, but in the nursery, it was dark and shadowy, the curtains drawn and the windows tightly shut, as they had been for the past week. Kara was fully woken by Lena gently shaking her, a stern look on her face as she told her they were eating lunch in the gardens. Without complaint, knowing that she did miss her sister and Eliza, Kara sluggishly climbed to her feet. It wasn’t quite time for lunch yet, but the gardens were starting to look beautiful with a fresh crop of flowers and rich greens, so they carried a baby each through the palace, and were met with a wide pram. Settling them both down, side by side, Lena pushed them through the hallways, with Kara’s arm looped through hers, and they stepped out into the mild sunshine.

 

            Slowly ambling along the curving stone path, they passed by magnolia trees bearing pale pink flowers, perfect peach rose bushes and yellow daffodils sprouting from the flower beds. The air was fragrant with the smell of them, slowly mingling with the dampness of the lake, sparkling a brilliant blue in the near distance as willow trees trailed their branches in the shallows and ducks quacked as they splashed about on the surface.

 

            “Just think, next summer they’ll be big enough to take out on the lake,” Kara brightly smiled at Lena.

 

            Letting out a snort of laughter, Lena gave her a reproving look. “They’re not going out on the lake until they’re at least seven and are strong enough to swim back to shore after you capsize them. I don’t think there’s been a single time I’ve gone out there with you where you haven’t tipped over the boat.”

 

            “I just get excited about the koi fish,” Kara reasonably argued, “besides, two years ago I distinctly remember us safely racing Alex and Ruby across the lake. I mean, we lost, but we made it.”

 

            “We lost because you fell overboard!” Lena quietly exclaimed, a laugh getting caught in her throat, “and I had to row the rest of the way by myself. They’re both taking swimming lessons, and rowing lessons, before they’re allowed out on there.”

 

            “I guess it’s time to bubble wrap the rest of the palace too. I don’t want them to so much as bruise their perfect skin.”

 

            Scoffing, Lena gave her an amused look. “Well now that’s a little unrealistic.”

 

            Laughing, Kara gently bumped her with her shoulder, squinting slightly behind the dark lenses of her sunglasses as she watched one of the geese chase after one of the palace staff members carrying a tray of chilled water to the pavillion. She smiled at the sight, finding it amusing, and she let out a small sigh. “I want to keep them safe, from everything and anything that could upset them in the slightest. I know it’s impossible, but I think about when they’re older and they break an arm falling off a horse, or have their heart broken for the first time.”

 

            “All we can hope is that they don’t have to suffer through everything that we have. Hopefully, this is the last of it.”

 

            “We’ll make sure of it,” Kara assured her, leaning down to press a kiss to her cheek.

 

            They crossed the rest of the gardens, following the path to the foot of the pavillion, where two staff members helped carry the pram up onto the raised platform, the sleeping babies safe from the sunshine as Kara and Lena settled down on the chairs pulled out for them. Water was poured into glasses for them, and they were served fresh fruit as they waited for their family to arrive. Watching the surface of the lake ripple in the cool breeze, Kara plucked grapes off the bunch while she enjoyed sitting outside in the fresh air. She had to admit it felt nice after cooping herself up inside the stuffy palace for a week. The close air and drawn windows had started to feel slightly suffocating, but she had been too consumed by her thoughts to motivate herself to go outside. Ever the restless one, Lena had given her a nudge, after firstly giving her her space, and she was grateful for it.

 

            Still, when Alex and Eliza appeared, Kara felt tense as she watched them walk up the wooden steps of the pavillion, both sinking into shallow, respectful bows. Eliza kissed her and Lena on the cheeks, before going to peer down at her granddaughter’s, and Alex warmly greeted Lena, before giving Kara a somewhat uncertain smile, as if she wasn’t sure what kind of welcoming she was going to get. Gesturing to the chair on the other side of her, Kara gave her a smile in return.

 

            They ate salmon and salad, iced tea sweating in glasses as they talked, everything normal as they steered away from uncomfortable topics, and they ate freezing cold sorbet as the last remnants of their lunch was cleared from the table. Bottles of baby formula were brought down at one point, and the two royals delegated to the other two women, letting them bond with the babies while they relaxed. It felt normal, for the first time in a while, and Kara felt some of her old lightness return to her as she joked with her sister, who looked gratefully relieved as she happily indulged her.

 

            After a couple of hours outside, and a nice lunch together, they moved back into the palace, with Kara asking for a car to be brought around to take Eliza and Alex back to their respective homes. Hugging the older woman, Kara made a promise to bring the babies to her in a few days, giving her a smile as she pulled back. Before parting ways with Alex though, her sister asked her if they could talk for a moment, waving her mom on to take the car. Giving her a questioning look, Lena took the princesses back up to their suite, giving her a few minutes alone with Alex.

 

            Walking to the nearest sitting room, Kara walked inside and walked over to an armchair, demurely perching on the arm of it while she watched Alex close the door behind her and give her a grim smile.

 

            “I’m sorry.”

 

            “Don’t be,” Kara brushed the apology aside with a smile, “you have nothing to apologise for.”

 

            Shaking her head, Alex gave her a pained look. “I do. I should’ve told Maggie who she was. I should’ve told her to take her alive. There just- there wasn’t much time, and I was scared that she might-”

 

            Climbing to her feet, Kara walked over to her, grabbing her by the shoulders and giving her a gentle shake as she gave her an earnest smile. “Alex, it’s okay. I don’t blame you, I don’t blame Maggie. There was only one way this was going to end. If it didn’t … I think I would’ve been worried about her for the rest of my life. I would’ve been worried that she’d take one of them whenever they were out of my sight. That she’d take Lena, or you . And I loved my mom - I loved the woman I thought she was - but she’s been dead to me for longer than she was alive, and I wouldn’t risk you, or anyone else I love, over whoever-”

 

            “But still-”

           

            Letting out a breathy laugh, Kara gave her a strained smile, cupping her sister’s face in her hands as she gave her an insistent look. “But nothing! I should be thanking you. Thank you for setting your pride aside to call Maggie. Thank you for sparing me the possibility of having to do it myself, because for my daughter, I would’ve, and that would’ve made all of this - everything I’ve been feeling - a lot harder. And thank you for being my family. I love you for it, and I don’t think I could ever tell you how grateful I am - have always been - for you.”

 

            Wrapping her in a hug, Alex seemed to deflate as she held Kara tightly for a moment. “You know that I’d do anything for you. Even put aside my feelings and my pride. I know I’ve been an ass about it before, but there’s no one I would trust more than Maggie to keep you safe. There’d be no one better than her to protect my nieces.”

 

            “Are telling me to make her their bodyguard?” Kara laughed, getting only silence in return. Pulling back she frowned at Alex. “You’re not serious, are you?”

 

            With a smile and a small shrug, Alex replied, “well someone has to, and like I said, there’s no one I’d trust more. Clearly there’s no one you trust more either, seeing as you secretly hired her.”

 

            “But that would mean she’d be around all the time. And she doesn’t even like kids.”

 

            “No, she doesn’t want kids, and we’ve both moved on, Kara. We’re adults. She can do her job, and I can visit my family, without us causing a fuss. I told you last time; I’ll always love her in some way, but we both decided to end it, and we’re both moving on. And now, you need someone you can trust to watch over them, and there’s someone who’s willing to do everything to protect them. You already know who to hire.”

 

            “I suppose you’re right,” Kara quietly replied, “and thank you. Thank you for putting their safety before your feelings. I know it can’t be hard, even though you say you’ve moved on.”

 

            “Well, like you said, I wouldn’t risk you over someone who’s hurt me.”

 

            Letting out a quick laugh of surprise, Kara gave her a wry smile, giving Alex’s arm a quick squeeze, before she moved towards the door. She was glad that things were okay between them, although in her mind they always had been, but she was glad that she could tell Alex that she didn’t blame her. Things never felt right unless things were right with Alex. She’d come to realise in the early months of her reign that she needed her sister in her corner, and she always would. She walked her through the palace and to the western entrance, hugging her goodbye with the knowledge that she’d most likely be back tomorrow to dote on her nieces. Afterwards, Kara slowly made her way back upstairs and walked into the sight of her wife slowly pacing their main living quarters with a tiny dark head resting on each shoulder, quietly singing a nursery rhyme to them in French while an Irish wolfhound followed at her heels.

 

            “Everything okay?” Lena quietly asked, returning back to English as she gave Kara a searching look.

 

            “Everything,” Kara said, quickly crossing the room and cupping Lena’s face in her hands, before giving her a hard kiss, “is just right .”

Chapter Text

            “Lena! Will you get them off that stupid dog and make them sit still!” Lillian barked, her patience wearing thin.

 

            Muffling a laugh as she pressed her lips together, Lena lazily shrugged, lounging on a pile of pillows on the thick blankets spread out across the lawn in the shade of a large elm tree. A smile tugged up the corners of her lips as she watched the two princesses squeal with laughter as they threw themselves on top of Aoife, the large shaggy dog a patient victim as she laid in the sun. Kara tutted, getting up from the elegant whitewashed lawn furniture and walked over to their daughters.

 

            “Come on, sit nice for some photos,” Kara said, picking a squirming Eilis up, the toddler kicking her legs as the layers of petticoats were ruffled by the movements.

 

            “No!”

 

            “Eilis,” Kara said, a slight warning in her voice as she settled her on her hip, “be a good girl for mommy.”

 

            “No!”

 

            Sighing, Kara shook her head as she looked at Lena, who was still lounging about, her green eyes sparkling with amusement behind the dark lenses of her sunglasses. “Lena, please come and get your children.”

 

            Rolling her eyes, Lena climbed to her feet, stepping out onto the spongy grass and relishing the feeling of it beneath her bare feet as she walked over to her wife. “How come they’re always my children when they’re doing something wrong?”

 

            “Because you’re the one who spoils them too much.”

 

            Scoffing, Lena crouched down a few feet away from Aoife, who had two arms wrapped around her neck as a two year old tried to get her to get up and walk, as if the dog was a horse. Tongue lolling, Aoife looked unbothered by the insistent tugging on her fur. “Lirael, are you going to give mommy a hug?”

 

            Two different coloured eyes turned to her, and the young princess gave her a gap toothed smile, sliding off the dog with some difficulty and not much elegance, before tripping over her feet and staining the white skirts of her dress with green grass stains. A round of amused laughter came from the assembled guests - all family - except for Lillian, who scowled. Barrelling into her mom, Lirael wrapped her arms around Lena’s neck and let herself be hoisted up. Giving her a kiss, the toddler laughing as Lena tickled her, she neared Kara, running a hand over Eilis’ long, dark curls and planting a kiss on her cheek too, while the princess reached for her.

 

            “Are we going to have some nice photos for Grandma?” Lena lightly asked, giving her daughter a stern look.

 

            “No!”

 

            Kara let out a groan as Alex laughed from the table she sat at beneath the gauzy gazebo. “Of all the words to be their favourite, why did it have to be no?”

 

            “They get it from their mother,” Lillian dryly replied, shaking her head as she took a sip of golden wine, the photos forgotten for the moment.

 

            “I completely agree,” Lena lightly replied, a smile curling her lips, “Kara can be such a stubborn cow sometimes.”

 

            She met her mom’s flat look and arched an eyebrow, while Lillian let out a withering sigh and turned her attention to Sam, who had her lips pressed together and was trying to keep a serious look on her face as Lillian trapped her in conversation.

 

            “Cow!” Lirael exclaimed.

 

            Groaning, Kara’s eyes fluttered closed and she sighed, before giving Lena a pointed look as her wife laughed. “Yes, cow. And what do cows say?”

 

            “Moo.”

 

            Walking towards the collection of tables and sofa beneath the gazebo, Kara shook her head, a fond look on her face as she made her way back towards the group of people, all dressed in creams and pastels, as was the custom for Easter and the warmer weather. Lena had initially complained about coming to Thorul for Easter, having followed through on her promise the year before, but her mother had gone to further extents than she’d thought, decorating the gardens with large handcrafted bunny statues, exquisite chocolate eggs made by Swiss chocolatiers, and had even had a hundred trained rabbits released onto the sprawling lawns, the floppy bunnies hopping around on occasion, but mostly basking in the sunlight as they enjoyed their Easter lunch. She’d begrudgingly agreed to come again this year, to much the same lavishness. It was for her daughters that she did it, knowing that they should have the chance to have a Grandma in Lillian, even if Lena would never be too fond of her mother, and while she still held her grudges, her mom doted on the two girls. That was all that Lena cared about.

 

            Taking a seat at her chair, Lena held Lirael securely in her lap, moving crystal glasses and silver cutlery out of her daughter’s eager hands, while Kara took a seat next to her, passing Eilis off to Alex, who beamed down at her niece as she reached out for her. There was a ring sparkling on her finger, and Lena looked at it with begrudging satisfaction. She’d given the ring to Sam the year before, with stern orders not to hurt her sister-in-law - Lena was rather fond of Alex, even if they butted heads at times - and had let her best friend do the rest. It wasn’t as bad as she thought, the two of them being together, because even if it didn’t work out, she was sure that things wouldn’t change. She had proof in the fact that Maggie stood a few feet away, dressed in her customary black suit as she watched over them - specifically the young princesses - making conversation with Eliza while her dark eyes darted around, ever watchful. It hadn’t been nearly as uncomfortable as Lena had thought it would, having Maggie a constant shadow to their little family, and it was actually nice to have her around again.

 

            A lot had changed over the past two years. Not only had Lena found herself softening due to motherhood, even more so than she had after falling in love with Kara, but they’d both relaxed more. Kara had been right in saying that she would’ve been afraid forever if her mother had been set free, an ever-present threat looming over their heads, but without the threat, they had become much more lax in their tight security. They still had numerous guards, but no more than any other royals went about with. Their life had become a lot less suffocating.

 

            It had become more interesting too, muddling through diaper changes and breastfeeding, before they turned to trying to feed mush to squirming babies that didn’t want to eat, and keeping one eye on two crawling, giggling babies at all times. Never had Lena been so relieved to have been in her position, with a fleet of nannies and Jess and Lyra constantly keeping close track of the two princesses. After they’d started walking, both of them there for their first steps, it had become a constant game of trying to keep them away from expensive vases and statues, holding their hands wherever they went so that they didn’t run off and cause chaos. Slowly but surely, their babbling nonsense had turned into vague words, and then a couple stringed together, the two of them chattering away together as they sat on the nursery floor, pretending to pour cups of tea for Kara and Lena, and fetching them different toys with smiles on their faces. Their bed was often occupied by four, instead of two, and the weight of two squirming toddlers would wake them up in the morning, sleepy smiles on their faces as they cuddled them and tried to coerce them into going back to sleep.

 

            There were tears, laughter, bickering arguments between Kara and Lena, and an endless amount of love during that time, and it was so easy to forget about all the pain and trouble it had taken to get there. It was so easy to forget, but sometimes there was the hovering about, not wanting to leave them with a nanny, or the anniversary of one of the horrible days Kara had gone through, to remind them of what had happened. She didn’t like to admit it, but Kara still brooded over it occasionally, especially at family gatherings, as if she was imagining a life that she could’ve had with her mother there, the rest of her family too, without the weight of a crown and a kingdom pressing down on her shoulders. Still, Lena also knew that she dismissed thoughts like that quickly, knowing that she would never trade the family she had now for the false ideals she kept in her head of the people she’d once loved.

 

            On the dark days though, Lena was grateful for their daughters. They had a way of making everything seem lighter, their laughter echoing through the palace hallways as they chased after Aoife, the two moms following at a brisk walk as they laughed at the joyful sound. No matter what dour mood they were in, one of the princesses would do something funny to banish the dark thoughts and bring a smile to their faces. It was still odd for Lena to think about the kind of person she’d been before meeting Kara, when she was so happy and full of love now. Before, she’d never thought she’d love anyway, or be even remotely good at being a mother, but the little girl wriggling in her lap as she pointed at a bunch of grapes was testament to how wrong she’d been. One of the few times, but one that Lena was endlessly grateful at being wrong about.

 

            She shared a smile with Kara as her wife reached out to pluck a few grapes and neatly sliced them in half, putting them on a plate in front of Lena, while Lirael reached out and picked one up. Eilis was too busy squealing with laughter as Alex bounced her on her knee and sang one of the silly songs Jeremiah had sung to her when she was little. Kara poured Lena a fresh glass of iced tea, putting it outside of the reach of tiny grabbing hands, and put a few finger sandwiches on Lena’s plate for her. She hadn’t eaten much, being too consumed by the dozens of sketches she’d been drawing on the blankets in the warm spring air. Most of them were vague shapes, the ruffled skirts of the white and pink dresses the girls were wearing, unidentifiable people clustered around a table with wide brimmed hats, or a shaggy haired dog with blurred features. Then there were the detailed ones of Kara laughing as she held both girls in her lap, or Lex sitting beside his new wife, already pregnant and smug at the possibility of a new heir for Thorul.

 

            As much as the feeling of being back at her childhood home made Lena feel grouchy, unable to stop herself from acting like a petulant child at times, she had to admit that it was nice upon occasion. Lillian had organised an Easter egg hunt that morning, with tiny wrapped chocolate eggs hidden amongst flowerbeds or in the spongy grass of the lawn, up to foil wrapped eggs bigger than her granddaughter’s were, piled up with plush rabbit and duck teddy’s, handmade dolls with tiny lace outfits made in Russia, and little ponies that they couldn’t ride yet , but Lillian insisted that every princess should have. Lena had rolled her eyes but thanked her mom anyway, letting Kara feed them white chocolate to distract them as the ponies were led away. Fortunately, they were easily distractible by chocolate, but the sugar had made them excitable, although Alex and Sam had risen to the task and taken them down to the impressive water fountain to look at the koi fish swimming around in its depths. It had been a near perfect day - not quite, but nearly - and Lena had enjoyed a few glasses of wine, giving her a pleasant buzz as the smell of fresh flowers and the droning of bees accompanied the nice afternoon.

 

            “Will you get them to sit for a photo now?” Lillian brusquely asked, “please.”

 

            “The photographers already have a hundred!” Lena protested.

 

            Giving her a stern look, Lillian arched an eyebrow, “and? It’s for Vanity Fair , Lena. They’re going to need nice candids for the article.”

 

            Grumbling, Lena pushed her chair back and climbed to her feet, keeping a tight hold of Lirael as Kara took Eilis back and they allowed the photographer to arrange them on one of the low sofas. It had been much like this for the past hour, rotating through different people in different poses, sometimes all of them gathered around the table, sometimes the Thorul royal family, and sometimes the Krypton one. They’d all been primped and dressed early that morning, pushed into expensive dresses while their hair and makeup had been done, a familiar process for all of them, and both princesses were growing tired of it now - all three , if Lena was to be included. Trying to hide the grass stains on Lirael’s dress, although the photographer assured her they’d be edited out anyway, Lena smiled next to Kara, trying to get both toddlers to look at the camera. It was an effort and a half, bought with bribes as Eliza crouched behind the photographers and waved tiny macaroons around to get their attention.

 

            Wrapping it up as quickly as possible, both toddlers wriggled their way off their mom’s laps, racing over to their kindly grandma for their rewards, while Lena sank into Kara, sliding her sunglasses back on as she felt her wife’s arm wrap around her shoulders. With a sigh of content, Lena let the conversation from the nearby table wash over her, children’s laughter mingling with the voices, the barking of Aoife as she caught sight of a goose, and the photographers holding a quiet conversation nearby as they checked their photos. It was a quiet afternoon, one of the rare peaceful ones they were afforded, with Kara back to her full-time duties as Queen - although not as jam packed as before, her desire to not miss a moment with her daughter’s forcing her to cut down on her meetings. After the mess of events after the babies were born, Kara had said she just wanted one peaceful month, and Lena was blissfully happy as she nestled into Kara, picking up her wife’s hand and pressing a kiss to the back of it. They’d nearly had a peaceful two years now, and Lena couldn’t remember ever being happier.

 

            Lena jumped slightly as a mop of dark curls raced towards her and Eilis clambered up into her lap, given some aid by Lena, while her sister wasn’t too far behind, reaching up for Kara to help her up, and the four of them nestled together on the sofa.

 

            “Mom,” Eilis said, holding up the macaroon, which Lena pretended to take a bite out of, much to her daughter’s amusement.

 

            “Oo that’s nice,” Kara said, her tone softening as she smiled at her daughter, “did Grandma give it to you? Yeah? Are you going to share with mommy?”

 

            Nodding, she held it out to Kara, who pretended to eat some as well, an offended Lirael making a sound of protest as she held the rest of hers up for Kara to eat as well. Lena shook with silent amusement, shaking her head as she ran her hand over her daughter’s soft hair. They both looked like Kara, she thought, except for that hair and porcelain skin, and she tightened her grip around her daughter as her heart swelled with love. They stayed seated on the sofa until both girls had fallen asleep and Lena found her eyes growing heavy as the urge to doze off crept up on her in the warmth of the day. Kara was likewise growing drowsy, her head on Lena’s shoulder while she cradled Lirael in her lap, the events of the day having caught up with them. Turning her head to the side, Lena pressed a gentle kiss to her wife’s forehead.

 

            “Well, it’s been an exciting day, but I think it’s time to wrap it up, Your Majesty,” Lena murmured, resting her cheek against the top of Kara’s head.

 

            Humming in agreement, Kara let out a soft sigh, “Your Highness.”