“I’m back,” I said.
“Hey everyone! We’re back!” said Nell.
After running our errands, thanking the Elrens, and giving them a few parting gifts, Nell and I finally found our way back to the village. As we wound up returning in the evening, we happened to find everyone hanging around the inn.
“Welcome back!” said Illuna.
“Whalecom back!” parrotted Shii.
“…Finally.” Said Enne.
“I see that you have returned,” said Lefi.
“Heya! Good timin’ guys, we were just ’bout to have dinner!” said Lyuu.
“I’ll speak with the staff and have them arrange for your portions as well,” said Leila.
“Thanks, ‘n sorry for the bother,” I said.
“Thank you, Leila!” said Nell.
I figured we were getting ready for dinner, so I started to get a move on, only for Lefi to tug on the hem of my shirt and speak in a whisper.
“Yuki, have you a moment? There is a matter we must discuss.”
“Sure, what’s up?”
Her eyes were glimmering with intense emotion, equal parts happiness and worry.
“It is… something. Come.”
She dragged me away from everyone else, to a place where we could be alone. Turning to face me, she opened her mouth, several times, faltering immediately after each.
“…Has your business gone well?” She eventually managed to squeeze out a few words, but not the ones she wanted to say.
“Yup, wrapped it all up without any problems. I even gave the sailors a few things here and there, as thanks.”
Two dozen high grade potions should be good, right? I mean, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be giving them out willy nilly, but I don’t really want them to die, so… I figured, might as well. I mean, they are in the military, so they’ll probably find a use for them eventually.
“How’d things go on your guys’ end?”
“Well. We have visited a number of their facilities, and I have found interest in many of them. It remains clear that this settlement’s people are Leila’s. There are many things that cannot be found elsewhere, and the young ones have been overjoyed to see them.”
“That sounds like plenty of fun. Nell and I should probably check it all out tomorrow or something.”
“An excellent idea indeed.”
I could tell that she had something to say. But she wasn’t getting to the point. But I didn’t prod her. I spoke with her about whatever she wanted, and waited until she was ready.
“…There is a matter I wish to inform you of,” she said, after we covered a number of different topics. “You would do well to remain calm.”
She lowered her voice and spoke in a timid, un-Lefi-like way.
“It appears that I am with child.”
I almost froze. It took a moment for me to finally respond.
“Indeed. It was a recent realisation, confirmed by one of this settlement’s medical practitioners.”
We’re going to have a kid?
I could feel an indescribable sense of joy well up from within as her words echoed through my mind.
“Holy shit… holy shit! That’s amazing!”
I pulled her into an embrace, hugged her as tightly as I could, and spun her around.
“We’re gonna have a kid! We’re gonna have a goddamn kid!”
“Y-you are holding me far too tightly,” she said.
“Uhhh oops, my bad. I’m really gonna need to be more careful about keeping an eye on your health. Oh, and we’re gonna need to think of a name too… Wait, is the kid gonna be a boy or a girl anyway?”
“Calm yourself, imbecile.”
Smiling, she smacked me on the forehead.
“You need not be in such a hurry. A dragon’s gestation is a lengthy one, and it is not possible to know of the child’s sex prior to its birth.”
“Right… good point. How long does it take anyway?”
“Two years are required for the child’s birth… That is how it would be if I had remained as a dragon. In my current form, I know not the details, as I am not so different from a woman of the races. But it shall be a wait regardless. As it stands, not even the doctor is capable of providing an estimate. We must be patient for any further developments before they will know for certain. And while we must make our preparations, they need not be immediate.”
Damn… it could take up to two whole years? I found myself slowly calming down as I listened to her elaborate. Still, I kept my arms wrapped firmly around her waist.
“Wait… you think this might have something to do with you not being able to turn back into a dragon anymore?”
I had always thought that she lost the ability upon earning her Humanoid Dragon title. But now that I think about it, getting pregnant seems just as good a reason.
“It is a possibility indeed. And while we have engaged in the act many times thereafter, I believe that the first was when it occurred, from what I have gathered from the timing.”
“Uhh… my bad, I guess. Technically, this is all my fault.”
“I see not why you are asking to be blamed. This too was a desire of my own. I am filled with joy and mind not the inconvenience, and I know well that you shall make up the difference,” she said, with her usual fearless grin.
Her eyes were filled with strength, with all the power of an unstoppable force.
“You bet your ass I will,” I said. “Even if it kills me.”
“The force of will I admire, but I would prefer that you refrain from perishing,” she said with a chuckle. “I would prefer for you to be present in the raising of our child.”
“Yeah, true. Let’s do our best and raise him or her together,” I said. “Alright, soon as I get home, I’m pumping up the dungeon’s defenses some more and making a room for the baby.”
“Need I remind you again that you need not be in such a hurry?”
She smiled wryly at me before continuing.
“But I suppose there is no reason to delay. It is possible that Nell and Lyuu shall give birth before I, for they require but a year to carry to term.”
“Huh… I guess that is possible, isn’t it?”
While I hadn’t exactly been boning Nell, as to not get in the way of her work, Lyuu and I had certainly found some time to ourselves. If Lefi’s gestation period ended up lasting the full two years, then it certainly did seem possible for us to end up with a baby warwolf before a baby dragon. If that’s even how that works.
“Well… everything else aside, I’d at least like to start thinking of some names. Might as well get started thinking about it now, right?”
“Indeed. A name is a matter of great importance, for it is a label that the child shall carry throughout their lives. No amount of thinking shall ever suffice.”
She put a hand on her chin and sunk into thought.
It was such a lovely expression that I couldn’t help but cup her face in my hands.
She looked up. Straight into my eyes.
And I stared back. At the most beautiful and precious person I had in my life.
“I just… wanted to tell you that I’m so hopelessly in love with you that I have no idea how to put it into words. It’s so bad that I’m almost starting to hate my own shitty vocabulary.”
“I mind not the inability. Hearing that alone has more than sufficed to convey your thoughts,” she said. “And it is a feeling that I find mutual. My affection for you is too vast for it to be expressed in mere words. And I am always happy to remain by your side.”
She wrapped her arms around my waist and buried her head in my chest.
Both, or perhaps even all three of our hearts converged.
We were all there. Father, mother, and child. And I’m supposed to be the father in that?
I wasn’t without my insecurities or concerns. I’d never once thought I was particularly decent at anything. I pretty much always just did whatever I wanted, in whatever selfish way I wanted to. Because that was pretty much all I could manage. If I really tried, I could conduct myself as would a responsible adult. But all that was nothing but a mask, a falsification. Because I knew that deep down, it was all just another lie.
But at the same time, I’d decided that I was long past the point of caring. Because we would be there for each other. To offer whatever support was needed.
Closing my eyes, I made a firm resolution.
Even if I couldn’t be man enough. I was at least going to have to make myself look the part.
I’d have to grit my teeth and push through whatever hardships came my way. Like a real man.
And put forward everything I could.
“We’d better get back, huh? It’s almost dinnertime, and they’ll probably end up waiting for us.”
I wanted to keep hugging her forever. But slowly, I let go.
“Indeed. It is regrettable, but let us return so that the others need not starve themselves any longer.”
Our fingers intertwined, we returned to where our family awaited.