Kyriala carefully climbed out of the warm pool in the Greater Bath, taking care that her sodden hair not pull her off balance. Farasha sighed in her sleep, over on the chaise, napping. Ky yawned and considered napping as well, but even though they were both suddenly very tired, she sometimes found it hard to sleep if she napped this late in the afternoon.
She unlaced her swimming costume while she was still in the water up to her hips and worked her arms out of the sleeves. There weren’t even servants to help her, unless she called, which was why she was getting out. It was silly, she thought, to be swaddled and constricted when there was no one to be offended by her nakedness. Certainly Farasha wouldn’t be, even if she were awake. She giggled to herself, thinking how scandalized people would be if they realized that the Imperial bedroom was a haven of nakedness for the four of them.
The swimming costume slowly floated down and she stepped out, up the stairs letting it drift down to the bottom of the pool. She’d go back for it in a moment. She let her hands slide over her belly, the growing child deciding that it was time to show.
“We’re suddenly getting bigger, hmmm?” Fara sat up and stretched.
Ky laughed, letting her hands glide over her bulging self and her aching, twitchy skin. “We went for so long that I was starting to wonder if there was something wrong.”
A brisk rap on the door announced Inensa and Daurama Liren. “Mo-ther! Step mother!” Kyriala retreated back into the pool, her braids floating up around her.
“Don’t be silly, daughter,” Daurama said briskly, holding up a towel. “Propriety goes out the window when there’s a pregnancy involved. Come along and get dry. We had a lovely visit outside the city but now, what with all the strange things going on, we have to get you set on your proper regimen. My goodness, you shouldn’t be swimming without someone to help you should you get tangled in your bathing costume or hair! Honestly, sweetheart!”
“Your safety is of vital importance,” Inensa said as she sat down next to Farasha. “Both of you, because you are proving that your relationship is viable for keeping my son balanced.”
“Oooooh! I’m not a baby, mother!”
“Inensa, I’m quite capable of helping Ky if she got into trouble swimming,” Farasha said snappishly.
“And who looks after you if you cramp?” Inensa sniffed. “We just tested for a number of girls to be here for you as your women’s Mahid.”
“They’re still settling in,” Ky said, but she sounded less than certain. “I… didn’t think of that.”
“Well, Captain Idiesas’s Girls are here now as part of your guard and we’ll have new schedules set up shortly.”
“Mother-by-marriage, they aren’t GIRLS. They’re women and warriors both!” Ky rose out of the water, letting her mother swaddle her in towels.
“And they have women’s parts. Granted. They are going to be guarding you more closely, daughter-by-marriage. They are even going to learn the women’s dances with you, that –“ she held up an immaculately gloved hand when Ky tried to interrupt. “I know you already know them, but it is necessary that you begin to practice them, every other day for now. And I’m told, Farasha, by your mother, that your people have women’s exercises for childbirth. She says that she’s willing to teach both of you and Daurama and I, though we aren’t looking to strengthen ourselves for more children.”
Farasha looked appalled and then began laughing. “Oh, Ky, they’ve decided we can’t grow these babies without help!”
Ky looked mulish for a moment longer then began laughing too. “I suppose I should be grateful that you’ve not brought in the herd of aunties!”
“Quite right, too!” Daurama said. “I put them all off by saying that you had a lot of help all of them wanting to attend you in the Marble Palace. But if you fight me, as your mother, I swear I’ll unleash them on you! And your Granny, too.”
“Mama, she’ll paddle me with her stick, as if I were first threshold!”
“Barely hard enough to put a dent in a pudding! Come along now. We’ll roust all your new guards and get them learning these exercises along with you.”
She sighed and leaned her forehead on her mother’s shoulder, smiling. “Yes, mama.”