A Story – part 105

Leo and Anthea returned from honeymoon very relaxed and rested, ready to tackle almost anything. They almost immediately settled into a routine, all of the charities and other organisations who wanted their presence were examined and carefully selected. Anthea was most involved in those looking after children and those handicapped by various physical disabilities, Leo with those involving the elderly and animal welfare.

Anthea became involved in a new project aimed at encouraging more youngsters who were talented to enter the world of science and engineering as careers. Leo became even more involved in the arts.

Between them they represented a broad spread of the country’s people. Everywhere they received such warmth and acceptance in their roles, that it only encouraged them to new efforts.

The press began to describe them as the “most involved young royals”. Their home life was happy, contented with each other’s company they often deliberately sought time alone together. Their bonds of love grew stronger.

In the spring with new life showing everywhere, Leo started to feel they were missing out on the new life syndrome.  The second morning that Anthea ran to the bathroom to be ill, Leo followed, holding her close and smiling. He put his hand on her stomach and said “now we will be a family, not just a couple.” She looked at him in surprise, and then began to cry. He took her back to bed and held her until she stopped. Then he sat away and looked at her, “What was that all about?” he asked.

“I’d begun to think I’d never fall pregnant” she said still hiccoughing a little. “Oh I am so happy”, and promptly burst into tears again. Leo just laughed and held her close.

Three weeks later, having tea in the garden with Gerard, all three happy to be outdoors again after the bitter winter, they were sitting holding hands. Gerard looked at Anthea and said “I invited your parents for dinner tonight, then you can tell us all your good news.” He beamed, got up and walked off quickly. Anthea had noticed though, a faint trace of a wobbly tear in his eye.

Dinner that evening was as happy an occasion as the night of their engagement.  With the exception that Anthea toasted in water, not champagne. Leo had become more solicitous and protective of Anthea, Gerard noticed this with approval.

The pregnancy progressed as normal. Week by week, the tiny baby grew and flourished, Anthea bulged forward, looking happy and excited. Leo smiled more and more. She would wake to find him sleeping with his hand on the bulge. He took to talking to the baby very early on. Playing all the right music for the developing brain, massaging her back when she was tired. Insisting she exercise correctly. He joined her in exercise classes in the swimming pool, and was delighted when the pre-natal classes started.

Anthea scaled back her public appearances, but remained involved in various organisations. 

Her mother made a point of visiting every two weeks, and the two of them spent a lot of time together, talking about Anthea’s own childhood. 

At about 36 weeks Anthea began to feel serious contractions. She was put to bed rest for a few days. Leo was very worried, despite all the reassurances from the doctor, his father and his mother-in-law. He cancelled all his appointments and spent the time sitting reading near Anthea. Then she was allowed up again, and he dogged her steps until she gently told him that HE needed a break. By then her mother was staying at the palace with them, all the palace staff were watching out for her. He went off to the gym for an hour, and she breathed a sigh of relief.

By the time he returned, she was sitting in their bedroom with her bag packed. He took one look at her and panicked. She sent him to shower and change. Then as she became only comfortable walking, he walked with her, up and down the palace passages until her water broke, at which stage she changed and then said “OK let’s go and get this done”.

Fortunately one of the security men drove them while Leo sat in the back with Anthea, holding her as though she were breakable. By then it was 2am.

Some hours later Leo faced the reporters to tell them that his son had been born; and that they had not yet decided on the baby’s name, though they did have a short list at this stage. Mother and baby were both tired but doing well.

Two days later, they and baby Paul Erik went home. Erik had been Leo’s brother who had been killed in the accident. They decided the baby could not have the name of a dead close relation, but the second name was a tribute to someone they had both admired.

When mother and baby were settled for the night, Leo and Gerard sat in the family room, having a nightcap and a chat. Gerard said “Now I think you are ready to learn more about how to protect your family. Remember that Philip chap who raped Anthea? Let me tell you how we have had our revenge.”’

At the end of the story Leo said, “You were right, I didn’t have what it takes back then, but now I would have no problem doing that to protect my family.”


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