Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  Heero decides to act on his feelings.  Meiran takes care of Quatre.  



Servitude, Retribution, and Enchantment



Part Forty-Nine


"A gift of life, my little brother.  You are carrying his son."

Quatre blinked, certain that he had heard wrong.  "What was that?"  He wrenched his hand away from Meiran's as if burned.

Meiran moved her hand to his cheek, her other hand clasping his upper arm to keep him from moving away.  "Dekim Barton
wanted an heir of Winner blood, a powerful child with the gift of magic rooted in his very soul.  He wanted a mystic that he
could fully control."

Quatre's heart ached and his stomach churned.  To know that his body would have been used for such a despicable plan.  "I
don't know if ... if I can do this."  He shook his head and pushed himself up, moving away from Meiran.  He scooted over to the
other side and threw his legs over the edge.  The pale blonde bent forward and wrapped his arms around his middle, fighting
back the stinging tears that threatened to come forth.  

This was all too much.  How was he supposed to deal with this knowledge?

The bed shifted and Meiran's kind hands came to rest on his shoulders.  Quatre flinched at the tender contact, but couldn't find
the will to purposely move away from her again.  He slowly relaxed into her touch, not really noticing that he was crying until
the first salty droplet hit his hand.

Meiran's voice was full of tenderness.  "Is it so very horrible, my little brother?  I know that it is not the way you would have
wished things, but Trowa is a good man."

Quatre wasn't about to argue that fact.  He knew that Trowa was a good man.  A good, brave and kind man.  Trowa had shown
him nothing but kindness and consideration in their time together.  Still, he couldn't help the pang of guilt that he felt.  "He
already feels obligated to look after me as it is.  I ... I don't know if I can do this to him."

The young queen's laugh was gentle and kind.  "Oh, Quatre ... I'm sure that Trowa would be overjoyed to learn that you are
bearing his child."

Quatre turned to meet her eyes.  He could not keep silent.  He had sensed the truth when they had met again at Duo‘s home.  
Why she was hiding it, he didn‘t understand, but he had kept his silence all the same.  Now, he wanted answers though.  "Just
as I am sure that Treize would be overjoyed to learn that you are bearing his.  Why do you keep it hidden?"

Meiran's smile faltered.  "You must know.  There are ... complications.  I am uncertain as to how to go about things right
now."  She placed a hand on her belly and sighed.

Quatre nodded in full understanding.  He had forgotten.  Women - or men - as powerful as Meiran were could not bear
children.  "That much I have learned.  I know that pregnancy within sorceresses has always been forbidden because of how the
magic works."

Meiran looked truly heartbroken by his words.  "Yes, the magic works through my entire being.  If I were merely a witch,
perhaps I could ... but this is the sacrifice I made for the power I possess.  I will never be able to bring a life into this world
with my own body."  She closed her eyes, her fingers lightly stroking her own stomach.  "But I know that there is no way that I
can willingly destroy this precious life within me."

"But you can't," Quatre argued, fearing for his friend.

A frail smile curled her lips, fading away within an instant.  "My powers will rip apart this frail flicker of light within me,
returning me to the hollow creature I have always been since I sacrificed myself in my quest for vengeance.  Or perhaps I will
die in the process as well, as the child destroys the core of my magic and myself along with it.  Either way, the child will not
survive.  I have very little time left."

Quatre heart skipped and he reached out to his friend, to his sister.  "Is there nothing you can do?  There must be some way to
preserve yourself, your magic, and your child.  I've never heard of a way, but there must be one."  He sighed, dropping his head
into his hands.  "I wish I were a true prophet, then I could give you the answer here and now."  He shook his head, his
shoulders trembling.  "But you know my visions of the future are foggy, at best, and come when they want to.  I have no
control over them."

"In time you will," Meiran whispered, lightly stroking her fingers through his hair.  "I will find a way, my dear friend.  There are
ways, but they each come with a risk that I do not know if I am willing to take.  I do not want my loves to suffer ... and many
spells require that they do so."

Quatre grabbed her hands, holding them with both of his.  He stared into her eyes, her own eyes swimming with crystalline
tears.  "Do you not think they will suffer upon your death?  To know you have kept such secrets from them?  And that you did
not go to them in your hour of need?"  He fixed her with a look, hoping that it would sway her.  "I will keep your secrets my
dear sister, but know that it weighs heavily upon my already weary shoulders."

Meiran choked on a sob, a single droplet sliding down her pale cheek.  "You break my heart, Quatre."  She smiled brokenly at
him.  "I will tell them, I swear that to you.  But I do not have the heart to do so now.  Please, allow me time?  And let me see to
your well-being before I worry about my own?"

Quatre shook his head.  "You ask me to betray you for my own selfish needs.  I cannot do that.  I will not place myself before
your own life."

Meiran laughed once and just once, wiping her tears away with a trembling hand.  "You win, dear brother.  I will tell them."

"When?"

"Today.  The moment I leave this chamber, I will seek them out.  Perhaps my own willingness to confess will urge you to speak
to Trowa.  He will not abandon you in your need of him."

Quatre nodded, reluctantly.  He didn't truly want to, but if Meiran was willing to tell her own lovers of her problem, then how
could he not?  Quatre wasn't dying, as Meiran was, but Trowa did deserve to know of his impending fatherhood.  "I will.  I do
not know what I will say to him, but I will speak to him."

"Good," Meiran nodded.  She took a deep, steadying breath.  "Now that that's all settled, allow me to treat you?"

Quatre nodded.  "As you wish."

Meiran wiped her face again, her hands continuing to tremble.  "Good," She smiled, but it was obviously forced for his benefit.  
Quatre could sense the deep inner turmoil within her.  She cleared her throat before speaking and moved her hand to stroke
along his arm.  "The reason you have been feeling so poorly, my brother, is that the one who put this curse on you wanted you
to suffer in every possible way."  Her smile brightened somewhat, finally reaching her warm eyes.  "I also happen to know how
to counteract that part, so you will be feeling better in almost no time."

Quatre sighed in relief.  He'd hated feeling like a stranger in his own skin.  He hadn't felt so weak since he'd first come into his
empathic abilities.  He reached out and delicately touched Meiran's still-flat stomach.  "I hope you find a way.  The joy this little
one would bring ..." He smiled at her then, even as he felt the jab of sadness echoing from her soul.  He decided to change the
subject.  "I can't tell you just how happy it makes me to learn that you found your Wufei."

The light that entered her eyes was brilliant and the strength of her bubbling love enfolded him in a warm embrace.  "True
serendipity.  I just happened to be passing where he was."  She sighed then, her beautiful loving emotions fading from around
him.  "You'd best get some rest as I attend to you.  The incantations and potion that I'll need to counteract your suffering should
be ready by the time you awaken."

Quatre nodded and lay back in the bed.  He didn't argue, not wanting to strain the woman he had come to love as dearly as one
of his own sisters.  He closed his eyes, feeling as she lightly covered him with a blanket and rejoiced in the feel of her tender
fingertips stroking through his hair.  He was quick to fall asleep.


*****


Duo awoke to the feel of someone shaking his shoulder.  He cracked open his eyes, his head pounding as a face came into focus
in front of him.  Hilde.  She was bouncing where she stood, calling his name and smiling brilliantly.

"Hilde?  What's got you so happy?"  He asked, pushing himself up with his elbows.  He looked to his side and saw Heero rubbing
his eyes, his every motion portraying weariness.

"Look!" she exclaimed, lifting her tunic up until she almost exposed her breasts to view.  She ran her free hand over her belly,
over the small mound that was just beginning to appear.  "Look!  You can actually tell now!"

Duo grinned, reaching out to run his fingers softly over her stomach.  "Yeah, you're getting huge already."

Her response was to slap him upside the head.

"Ow, come on Hilde.  Don't abuse the ill people."

Hilde glared at him, but was still grinning.  "Well, you ill person, you should learn to be nicer to us pregnant people."  She looked
down at her stomach again.  "I can't wait until it starts kicking!"

Heero spoke then, his voice quiet and a little rough from being awoken so abruptly.  "May I feel?"

Hilde giggled and went around to the other side of the bed.  "I could hardly believe I was pregnant before now.  Some of the
horror stories I've heard ..."  She shook her head as Heero started stroking her stomach.  "But I'm lucky because I have a
competent midwife looking after me and Duo's been so considerate."

Duo smiled as he watched Heero and Hilde talking and behaving like they were the best of friends.  It was hard to remember the
animosity Hilde had once had for Heero when looking at them now.  And Heero ... Duo frowned slightly at the expression on
Heero's face.  It was one of ... longing?  "Heero?  Are you all right?"

Heero jumped a little and swallowed.  "I wonder ... if my own mother was as happy to carry me."  He shrugged.

Duo could tell that there was more to it, but he knew that Heero wasn't lying to him.  He'd wondered the same thing once or
twice.  Such thoughts usually started him down the trail of self-doubt that got him drinking.  Instead of doing so right now, he
held his arms open for his beautiful slave, feeling grateful when Heero came into his embrace so easily.

"I understand," he told the slave.  "I can't tell you for sure, but ..." He cleared his throat.  "I'll tell you what my brother once told
me about my own mother.  If she hadn't wanted you, there are ways to be free of an unwanted pregnancy."  He shook his head
at that statement.  "Although such a rule probably doesn't apply to a Queen since she would be carrying an heir to the throne.  
But a kind nun once told me that there is no love that can compare to that of a mother towards her child.  Neither of us will ever
be truly satisfied with reassurances like that, but it sometimes brings me comfort."

Heero didn't say anything in reply.  He merely nuzzled his cheek against Duo's chest, his fingers lazily sliding along the other
man's side.

Hilde chuckled.  "Well, aren't you two all cozy and cute?" She shook her head, letting her tunic drop again.  "I'll just leave you
two be.  Trowa's still sleeping, so you don't have to worry about any other disruptions."  She winked.  "I'll spread word around
not to disturb you two for a few hours."

Duo glared, though it was hardly scathing.  "Hilde, behave."

Hilde merely giggled and turned away from the bed.  She practically skipped away as she left.

"How are you feeling?" Heero asked, his warm breath sending a shiver throughout Duo as it caressed his bare skin.

"Despite a pounding headache and a lingering weariness, I can honestly say that I feel better."

Heero raised a hand, pressing the backs of his fingers to Duo's cheek, then to his forehead.  "Your fever's gone.  Lift your hand."

Duo did as told and was mildly surprised when it didn't tremble greatly.  There was still a quiver to it, but it was far better than
just yesterday.  He laughed, wrapping his arms tight around Heero's trim body.  "Your sweet kisses must be a cure-all, my
beauty."

A blush dusted Heero's cheeks.  "I did nothing special," he whispered, burying his face against Duo's chest again.

"Nonsense," Duo replied, hooking his fingers beneath Heero's chin to tilt his face up.  He wanted to look into Heero's wondrous
eyes.  "You gave me a reason to keep on living."

Heero smirked.  "You just want to screw me into this bed."

"So true, so true," Duo hummed.  He bent closer until his lips were a mere breath from Heero's.  "And if I said I wanted to do it
now?"

There was a quiver to his thighs, but Heero wordlessly spread them despite his obvious anxiety.  He threw one leg over Duo's
body, rocking his bare form against his master's.  "Then I say do what you will with me.  B-But, please don't be hasty.  I'd like
to enjoy it, if possible."

Duo slid his hand down Heero's body, pushing the blankets away as he went.  Soon enough he had exposed one hip to view and
settled his hand there.  He couldn't say that he didn't want to throw Heero down and ravish him now, but he also wasn't a fool.  
Heero was too nervous, too frightened.  He was a shy virgin and Duo wasn't about to rush things.  He'd savor his time with the
beautiful man and made sure that Heero loved every instant of Duo's attentions to him.

"Let us take a bath first.  And then, perhaps a massage."  He couldn't honestly say that he was fully healthy again.  He was still
tired and his body ached.  But he wanted to worship Heero's body and show him just how much he was cherished by the
Queen's most loyal jester.



To Be Continued ...