Heart of Stone Ch. 13bypsyche_b_mused©
13. Seek and Ye Shall Find
Over the next few weeks, Mary began to feel physically better but she was having a difficult time adjusting to the new attention Aiden was lavishing on her. If she left the room for anything other than a trip to the bathroom, he would follow. He scrutinized her body and the changes that were just beginning to make themselves apparent seemed to fascinate him. His fascination embarrassed her and Mary found herself hiding in all the ways she used to when they were first mated.
At the same time, she was trying to cope with the other changes that the pregnancy brought about. Her abilities seemed to take over the role of protecting the child, whether or not she was concerned with his safety at that moment. Three weeks after her first visit with Nigel, she was coming out of the kitchen as Maureen was coming around the corner to enter. It was one of those moments when, under normal circumstances, both would have stopped short and laughed. On this particular day, Mary stopped and Maureen was knocked to the floor.
"I'm so sorry!" Mary offered the housekeeper her hand to help her to her feet.
"You didn't lay a hand on me, Miss." Maureen got up mostly on her own, but used Mary's proffered hand for balance. "I must have tripped. I don't know what else could have happened."
"It was me." Mary sighed. "In the last few weeks I feel like I have no control over my abilities. I worry someone who doesn't know about me or the baby is going to be around when something happens and then what am I going to say?"
"Sounds like nature taking it's course to me. Cup of tea?" Maureen asked.
"Yes thanks. Some of that herbal tea Aiden likes." She sat down at the table.
"Really? I've never known you to drink that." Maureen got the jar of herbs out of the cupboard and prepared the infusion. She used a regular tea bag for herself.
"I know. I used to hate it but the other night I made some for him and it smelled so good I tried it again. Must be a pregnancy thing." She found an apple in the bowl on the table and bit into it.
"I guess I was odd when I was expecting. I never had the cravings everyone talks about." She poured hot water into cups.
"I don't know if I would call them cravings so much as anti-cravings. I know what I don't want and everything else is okay. So far anyway."
"Do you take anything in this?" Maureen sniffed the tea and wrinkled her nose a little.
"No. Smells awful, doesn't it?" She smiled a little and took the cup.
"Are you sure you should be drinking that, Miss? What if one of those herbs is poisonous?" Maureen sat down across from her.
"I asked Nigel about it, he says it's probably better than regular tea or coffee." She sipped the hot liquid and sighed. It was horrible and heavenly at the same time. "Any ideas for a menu for the meeting next week?"
"Are you certain you still want to go through with it?" Maureen seemed surprised. True, Mary hadn't really mentioned the gathering or waking Esme very much since she found out about the baby, but that didn't mean the issue was off the table. Aiden wasn't being realistic about the whole thing. He talked about Esme being awake and helping with the baby, but he didn't like to hear about Mary waking Esme.
"Why wouldn't I?"
"Well, after what happened the last time-"
"That was because it was the first time I had ever done it, and because I was ignoring my physical symptoms. This time, I pretty sure that I'll have better control over the physical stresses. At least I know what to look out for." Maureen didn't look convinced.
"What are you going to tell Mr. Aiden?" She asked.
"I don't know." Mary responded. "I was thinking of bringing it up when Nigel is here the day after tomorrow. I really don't think can put off waking Esme at least without answering questions that I don't want to answer." Mary kept regular appointments at Nigel's office, but on weeks she didn't come to London, he came to the Hall. It wasn't a formal kind of medical visit, but she knew it wasn't entirely social either.
"Aiden, you're not being realistic about this." Mary sat at her dressing table and brushed out her hair. The light blue nightgown she was wearing was new. The wide elastic panel around her upper back was stretchy and comfortable. The rest of the fabric was voluminous and easily covered the small bulge in her lower tummy. Logically, she knew that she looked no different to anyone else at this point. Having lived with her own body for so long though, little things seemed very apparent. At least she didn't feel like Aiden was staring at her.
"I am being very realistic. The last time you attempted something like this, you fainted. Clearly, that means it is unsafe." The lights flickered and the power failed again. Mary sighed and listened to Aiden get up and begin to move around in the darkness. Mary had looked into fixing the power, but the cost was formidable and the time it would take to do the job right meant that this side of the Hall would be unusable for months. She had been putting it off, but she was starting to rethink that position. She was silent, waiting for him to light the candles that were scattered around the room.
"You know that's because I wasn't used to the aggregation and because I was so early on in my pregnancy. I wasn't really eating right and I wasn't resting like I should have been. That part of it has been taken care of now. I've felt fine for weeks." She watched him moving in the mirror and drew the brush slowly through her hair.
"It is still a risk." He shook his head and lit the final candle.
"So is everything else I do every day, in one way or another." She watched him stretch out on the bed. "Besides you know how my abilities have been lately. I don't think I'd be able to overexert myself." She put the brush down, walked over to his side and straddled his hips. He pulled her close.
"I worry for you, Child." His hands moved under the silky fabric to caress her back and bare hips. Mary shivered pleasantly, and relaxed. "And for the little one inside you."
"I worry too, but you know as well as I do that I'm healthy and as far as anyone can tell, so is the baby. I know that you want Esme to be awake when he's born, the rest of the group can't do it without me." His arms tightened. Mary sighed, her eyes closed.
"I know." He kissed the top of her head. "But I fear losing you, and the child. I do not think I could stand such a loss again."
"I don't feel like I'm taking unnecessary risks though, and I think spending the next few months on eggshells is going to be even worse for the baby. If I'm stressed, he is too."
"You always refer to the child as male." She looked up at him and smiled a little.
"Well, I can't just say 'it' and 'her' feels wrong for some reason. Does it bother you?" Her fingers stroked over his chest lightly.
"No. I rather like it." He kissed her lightly. Mary deepened the kiss. One of his hands cupped her bottom and she arched against him. His mouth moved down over the side of her neck, Mary moaned deeply as it made its way back to her ear. "I thought you no longer desired me this way."
"Why would you think that?" Her tongue tickled the spaces between the rings in his earlobe. He moaned deeply, his talons bit into the soft flesh of her hip until the wave of pleasurable tension subsided.
"You have taken great care to hide from me of late." He started to lift the nightgown over her back. Mary finished the task of removing it. She moved to lay next to him. He turned onto his side and circled the back of one talon around her nipple. Mary moaned softly, her eyes closed.
"Not because I don't desire you." His light touches were building a need for more.
"Then why?" His lips were next to her ear. Her fingers moved down over his torso to the buckle of his belt. His lips teased hers.
"It's hard to explain." She let him go reluctantly, he stood and shed his garment before getting back into bed again. Mary was relieved to see that his need was still in the beginning stages as well. She curled up against him.
"Try." He stroked her lower back lightly. Mary relaxed, her roving fingertips drinking him in.
"My body feels different." His lips brushed over hers. It was the only way that she could describe the feeling.
"You are as beautiful as the first time I saw you. How could you doubt that?" His tongue explored her mouth. One wing arched over her. Mary moaned against his lips, her fingers traveling over the outside of his hip.
"You look at me so intensely now, sometimes I feel like you're looking for the flaws to appear, or like they already have and you can't stop staring at them." He chuckled softly.
"Those changes are not flaws, Child. It gives me pleasure to see your body ripening. The only thing that will give me more pleasure while we are waiting for the child to be born is to be able to feel him moving inside you." He kissed her again, this time more insistently. Mary wasn't certain if this statement would make her less self-conscious. But the feeling of his tail insinuating itself between her legs inflamed her desire. Mary turned onto her back and opened her legs wider. Aiden followed, his wings rustled above them.
Mary stroked his hardening shaft, her fingers exploring the landscape of his manhood as if for the first time. They hadn't made love in the usual way since before she found out about the baby. She had pleasured him, but had been too self-conscious to let him return the favor. Now, as Aiden's lips teased her firm nipples and then moved lower, Mary's keen need wasn't about to be put off again.
Aiden's tongue teased her navel and made Mary squirm. As she moved, he settled between her legs. His lips lingered on the small bulge and then moved lower, over the front of her mound. She moaned and pressed his head lower with her hands, but Aiden didn't seem to want to move. He teased and nibbled the delicate skin there until Mary was whimpering and begging for more. Finally, he moved back and she was certain that he was going to give her what she so desperately longed for. But he didn't.
His lips and teeth lavished the same deliciously maddening attention on her right inner thigh. There were moments when his tongue came so close to her moist center that Mary cried out with need. When he moved to the left side, Mary was certain that she wasn't going to be able to stand it.
"Please, Aiden." She moaned, trying to move so that his tongue would accidentally contact her needy flesh. He chuckled and let the tip of his tongue tease her delicate folds. Mary groaned. Even that teasing contact was bringing her closer. Her hips rocked against his mouth, her eyes closed. Without warning, his tongue pressed deep inside her. Mary was so close to the edge she was almost certain that moment would end her torment. It didn't. Aiden seemed to be almost as focused on her release as she was now. His tongue left her warm passage and flicked over the hidden hub of her pleasure. Mary gripped the bedspread and cried out, her wet sex pressed against his hungry mouth. Aiden held her hips, supporting her weight while he lapped at the freely flowing juices. She closed her eyes and fell into a comfortable pleasure haze.
Mary felt Aiden moving her body to straddle his hips again. She moved forward, her mouth finding his, lingering there, tasting herself on his lips and tongue. She started to move down his body, but Aiden stopped her.
"Guide me." He said softly. Aiden almost never wanted her to be on top when they made love. Much as she tried, she simply couldn't move with enough force to bring him over the edge. That frustrated Mary because she knew he was frustrated.
"I fear I will hurt you." He stroked her cheek and Mary kissed him again, her tongue stroking his as her hand stroked his thick member. She pressed down against him, whimpering as the broad head pushed inside her. He groaned, his talons digging into her hips, his eyes closed. Mary took as much of him inside herself as she could, and then stayed still, her body adjusting. He moaned when she started to move, the rhythm and pace building with each movement of her hips.
Mary's sighing moans got lost in his rumbling pleasure growls. When the boundary of her pleasure was clearly defined, Aiden began to guide her hips, increasing Mary's pleasure and clearly his own. Her muscles squeezed him firmly as she got closer. When she was balancing on the edge, Aiden stopped her. Mary whimpered in frustration. He chuckled and wrapped one arm around her, holding her against his chest while he turned her onto her back.
Aiden moved back just enough to allow his mouth to find hers. Even the small movement made Mary squirm and whimper with need. He didn't make her wait long. He moved with move intensity than she had, but not with the sometimes painful insistence that marked their previous encounters. The waves of pleasure that washed over Mary made the whole world seem to throb in time with her heartbeat, but Aiden didn't pause. He held her legs open wider, taking advantage of the contractions of her inner muscles. His ragged growls and the way his wings trembled reached the edge of her floating consciousness. He was close. His movements were quickly pushing her toward the edge again and Mary fell into the pleasure without reservation. Her tensely quivering muscles finally drew his own release and the loud roar that always accompanied it.
Mary felt him retreat from her and she whimpered, not ready for the separation. He kissed her lightly and then retreated completely. She curled up on her side, her eyes closed, her knees drawn up comfortably. The thought of taking a shower when the bliss that surrounded her dissipated, but that seemed a long way off. As usual, Aiden seemed to read her mind. Before he returned to bed, he turned the shower on.
On Friday night, Nigel arrived right around dinner time with a folder and an air of excitement. He refused to tell her what he had brought with him, but it was clear that he was bursting to tell her something. All through dinner, she and Caroline both tried to draw it out of him, but he staunchly refused to say anything until Aiden was there too. He did assure her that there was nothing wrong though. That made it even harder to wait.
After dinner, Caroline excused herself and Mary and Nigel moved into the library. He had coffee, she had a cup Aiden's tea. She made a mental note to tell Aiden that he would need more of those herbs soon. Aiden joined them at a little after eight.
"Now will you tell us?" Mary asked. She knew she sounded like a child asking for a present, but in a way, that's how she felt. Aiden was immediately concerned. Nigel read his expression at the same moment Mary did.
"This is something good." He said quickly. "Or at least, very interesting. You both remember the blood and DNA samples I took from both of you a few weeks ago?"
"Of course." Aiden said. His hand was over Mary's wrist again. She wondered if was simply his need to have contact with her, or if there was something more possessive in it.
"I got the results back." He held up the folder. "A friend of mine runs a private laboratory. He processed the samples personally and won't share the results with anyone until you're ready."
"How can you be so sure?" Mary asked, suddenly terrified.
"I bound him, but even if I hadn't I trust him completely." Nigel said simply. Binding was something Mary had read about, but she had never tried it. In theory, it meant that any person or animal could be stopped from doing anything if the will of the magician was properly directed. It seemed a little too easy to Mary.
"Why do you have such trust in this man?" Aiden asked.
"I've never known him since I was a child and I've never met a more honest, forthright person. He swore to me he wouldn't say a word until we were ready, and beyond that, he agreed to the binding. There is another reason I chose him though. Mary, you remember I asked about your blood type?"
"Yours is the third sample he's seen with that particular anomaly. He told me about the other two, but I didn't think much of it at the time." Nigel was getting more excited and speaking more quickly. "Blood typing comes down to the presence or absence of certain antibodies in the blood plasma and antigens on the surface of red blood cells. A person with type A blood has A antigens on the cells and B antibodies in the plasma. You have A antigens on your blood cells, but you also have another antigen no one has ever seen before. Because Aiden has it too, we're tentatively calling it G. There are a few other differences too, but those are the major ones." Nigel looked positively victorious. Mary looked at Aiden and saw that he was just as confused as she was.
"Okay. So what does all that mean?" Mary asked.
"Forgive me." Nigel's face was flushed with excitement. "It means that your blood, and the blood of these two other people, is more closely related to gargoyle blood than human blood."
"How can that be?" She asked.
"Mary's parents were both human." Aiden said.
"For the others, I would put it down to genetic mutation." Nigel was calming down again. Mary moved to refill his coffee cup, Aiden released her wrist as soon as she moved and grasped it lightly again when she sat down. She decided he needed the contact. Nigel took a long swallow before continuing. "In Mary though, that would be a very convenient mutation. I tend to think there was something else directing it, but I have no idea who would have had the power to set something like that in motion."
"So this unusual blood type is why Mary was able to become pregnant with my child?" Aiden asked.
"That's a part of it." Nigel answered. "The DNA samples provided the other piece of that puzzle. Genetically, the chimpanzee was the closest human relative on Earth."
"Was?" Mary asked.
"Was." Nigel said firmly. "We share about ninety-eight percent of our genetic material with chimps. We share approximately 99.2 percent with Aiden. Again, Mary shares a bit more, either through spontaneous mutation or guided mutation. I still see it as an incredibly rare thing that she conceived at all, but everything seemed set up for it from the time she was born."
Even though Nigel had been reassuring, Aiden still wasn't completely comfortable with Mary's plan to wake Esme. Mary was equally determined to go ahead with the planned attempt. She still had occasional nausea when she didn't eat properly, but the crushing exhaustion was finally abating. Either that or she was getting used to it. She hadn't had any spells of dizziness since those first weeks. She knew that might change at any time though. That made going forward even more important to her.
During that week, Mary started to spend a great deal of time in the secret library. She didn't plan to do anything different than she had the first time when they moved the stone, but she was curious to see if there was any information about how her pregnancy might affect aggregation. It seemed to affect most other aspects of her life, including control of her abilities, so it only made sense that it would have some affect on aggregation as well.
Finding that information proved to be much more difficult than she anticipated. She hadn't had time to read every single book in the large room, but one thing that she had noticed about everything that she had read was that they would reference each other heavily. Gryston made reference to Jerreth, Kelvan, Dawes and Myrian in the same sentence. She began with the books she knew and worked her way, through the references, to the ones that she was unfamiliar with.
No matter what approach she took though, nothing seemed to work. She found information on illness, injury, mental difficulties, emotion upset and marital discord, but there was nothing on pregnancy. At least not that she had found.