As if her body was grieving Nathaniel's departure, Katherine fell sick the next day. Although she had never been seriously sick before, she didn't know what else it could be.
It was breakfast when it started. Lady Brandon just told her about the custom of the husband kidnapping his wife in her home at the Glaciar Coast - the unsuspecting wife was allowed to fight with sword and dagger against the barehanded man - when a bout of nausea hit her.
"Sorry, Ella, I'm..." Struggling with the bile in her throat, Katherine jumped up. Her eyes searched for a toilet, a basin, anything. With her hand in front of her mouth, she knew that she wouldn't come far. Fortunately, Ella reacted swiftly and helped her onto a chair to reach the small window, high up in the wall. The vomit fell all the way down into the inner courtyard. Katherine pressed her eyes shut, ashamed that the guards down there might look up and see her.
The soothing hands of Ella held Katherine's hair and rubbed her back which was sweaty under the fine fabric.
"Maybe... there was poison in the food", Katherine mumbled breathlessly when she came up again. "My magic might've detected it and throw it back out... Did you eat the ham as well, Ella?"
Ella shook her head, but her gaze was complicated. "Is this the usual reaction of your magic? Did you perhaps get poisoned before?"
"Um... I'm just assuming", Katherine admitted and slumped down onto the chair. The nausea went nearly as fast as it had come, leaving fatigue behind. "I was never poisoned before. But I never got seriously ill as well, not to the point of, well, what happened just now. So, why should it change? Isn't it more reasonable that someone tried to poison me? At least I think so..."
"Maybe...", Lady Brandon agreed with a thoughtful gaze. "but it might still be something else. Anyway, how do you feel now?"
With one hand, Katherine rubbed her eyes. "Like someone sucked me out of energy. Maybe I should've gone to bed sooner yesterday. This room is just too cold compared to -"
Suddenly, she broke off and a deep blush colored her cheeks.
"Yes? Compared to what exactly?", Ella asked with a teasing grin. "I believe tents are usually colder than this place... at least if you sleep in them alone. Should I imagine what you did to heat it up?"
"Ella!" Both women burst out laughing, resulting in Katherine holding her belly. "Aya, I'm not feeling well enough for jokes yet!"
For the rest of the day, Ella fed Katherine with bred and fruits like a real maid would do and her jokes and tales of the Glaciar Coast successfully averted Katherine's attention. The nausea was nearly forgotten until it hit her again the next morning, spot-on at the same time as the day before.
"I didn't even eat any ham today!", Katherine complained, holding the bowl her wise friend had prepared beforehand. "Why did it get worse? Did they poison the - "
Another round of nausea broke her off. When she raised her face again, she didn't have the energy to complain anymore. Her head was swirling.
"Well...", Lady Brandon said and dapped Katherine's sweaty face with a handkerchief. Her mouth was twitching. Luckily, Katherine had her eyes closed, or else the anger might empower her again, seeing how hard her friend tried not to laugh. "I guess that confirms my theory. But let me call for a doctor, just to be sure."
"Theory?", Katherine repeated weakly, and tried to catch Lady Brandon's sleeve, but the latter was already out the door. The wildest guesses popped up in Katherine's mind. Was she truly ill? It had to be a devious illness if it could fight her power. Now that she thought about it, she didn't see the slightest glow, however bad she felt.
Nervously, she fiddled with her magic and was only satisfied when a thin glow spread through her skin. But as soon as it did, her insides cramped together and she dry-heaved over the bowl. What a terrible plague was this?!
"Pregnancy", the doctor answered curtly when he finished the examination. He was a middle-aged man with a black ponytail, and an expression as if he smelled something rotten was constantly edged on his face. "What a pain. I went to a place full of men so I would never have to face it again in my career, and now look at this."
Katherine, though, was too stunned to register his complaints. With wide eyes, she turned from the doctor to Lady Brandon. "Pre... pregnancy? What?"
Lady Brandon grinned. "That's what you get if you warm up your tent all the time. It can't be that surprising, right? Though the timing is a bit bad..."
"It couldn't be any worse!", Katherine burst out, yet her hand cupped her flat belly with an instinctive protectiveness. Noticing it, she bit her lip. "I mean... is it really... are you sure?"
The doctor rolled his eyes. "What am I, a quack? Women are just so..."
He cut his sentence short when he noticed both women glaring at him. Grumbling, he packed his bag. "This is no place for a child. You should leave before it's too late. Five months in and you can't even travel anymore. Don't count on me to help you deliver then. I tell you, I've got bad luck with childbirth. Better you leave now when it is only a few weeks old."
"That's so fast...", Katherine mumbled. "Will it be alright? What, uhm, what else do I need to take care of? How can I avoid this morning sickness? And just previously I... I think it reacted to my magic. Is there such a case?"
The doctor hummed, then he listed a few rules and advice for her daily life. He told her that morning sickness was natural and - for the safty of the child - should only be treated by natural means, like focusing on fruits and simple food in the morning. In the end, he said: "I support the view that fire and ice magic are bad for the child's growth. There is a reason the gods of this world preach restraint. Though, if you've heard the rumors, you might know Loki thinks otherwise. I can't believe they are urging parents to inject magic into unborn children lately!"
"Loki?" Katherine's head perked up as she heard the name of the organization. She knew that it was the same one as the one in the Icelands, though it was unnamed there. "What do you know about Loki?"
The face of the doctor darkened omniously. Unwilling, he shook his head. "Only things that I plan to forget."
Before Katherine could stop him, he took his bag and left. For a few seconds Katherine pondered over his words, then the other news brushed the frown from her face. Gingerly, her hand touched her stomach. It felt as flat and soft as always. "Ella, do you really think there is a child? I can't believe it. Shouldn't it feel more... well, different?"
With playful grin, Ella berated her: "If you prefer it, you might become the fattest, most uncomfortable mother ever in the future. Be glad that you only have morning sickness for now."
"You are some friend, you!" Katherine grinned, her face bright with bliss. That was until she remembered Nathaniel. Instantly, her brows locked again. "I really hope everything goes well. What do you think Nathaniel will say? We never talked about children and now is not the best of times..."
"Hush!", Lady Brandon silenced her doubts. "If he didn't want a child, he should have thought about contraception! After all, he is seven years older than you and knows the ways of the world."
Blushing, Katherine lowered her head and her eyes fell on her belly again. Maybe she should have thought about contraception as well, however... she was not unhappy that it happened this way. Tiny amethysts glittered on her finger when she couldn't help stroking her flat stomach again.
Suddenly, she looked up with a start. "Phoenix's grace, Ella, please hurry and tell this doctor to keep it a secret. My cousin absolutely can't hear about this!"