Epilogue, Part 3
Of course, going back and forth in a carriage is exhausting. But there is nothing I wouldn’t do for the sake of our friendship, thought Yulia. She sometimes felt this, but Siana used to blame her for not feeling guilty for some other things. It would probably be the same this time, too.
However, Alan seemed to have decided that it would be better for her to come. So that’s why he contacted me. The more I know it, the more I feel it, but it’s intense. They say they’ve been friends since childhood, but they are more like strangers. Just enough to become familiar with each other’s faces.
But this sort of favor isn’t easy to ask. All Yulia could think of was how huge it was for Alan to have asked something like this.
Now I know why the girl who said she would never get married suddenly got married.
Yulia thought it wasn’t just because of his handsome face. Yulia, who was struggling to hold on to the letter, felt that her motion sickness had gotten worse after opening it. Unable to endure anymore, she eventually opened the window facing the horseman’s back and yelled at him to pull over for a moment.
* * *
When Yulia arrived at the mansion on the Lagarde estate, her face was pale, and she felt weak. The motion sickness had been so bad. She had overdone herself this time. Her physical condition wasn’t good.
Yulia exited the carriage and she tried to catch her breath, and Alan, who had been waiting, came out to greet her. “Welcome, Yulia. Thank you for accepting my request.”
“She is my friend, so I had no other choice… Thank you for inviting me, Alan.”
“First, let’s get you inside so you can rest a bit. Sia just laid down for a nap.”
“Thank goodness,” said Yulia, “I had a hard time with the motion sickness. I want to relax a bit before she wakes up.”
“Of course! A maid will take you to your room. And I will let you know when Sia wakes up later.”
Yulia nodded half-heartedly. She was in desperate need of a place to rest right now. Following the maid to her room, Yulia fell onto the bed without even unpacking her luggage.
There was a knock on the door. Then, again. Yulia frowned at the continuous knocking. The sunset was visible from the window when she opened her eyes half-heartedly. She seemed to have collapsed onto the bed and fallen asleep.
The knocking persisted and Yulia yanked herself up from the bed, dragged herself to the door and opened it, half-asleep. The person at the door was the same maid who had previously shown her to her room.
“My apologies, Countess Linen, but Lady Siana has woken up.”
“Oh… please wait a minute,” said Yulia. Sia is awake. She fixed her disheveled hair, smoothed out her dress and left the room to follow the maid into Siana’s bedroom.
* * *
The maid led her to Siana’s bedroom door. Alan was already there. Seeing her arrive, he greeted her.
“Did you sleep well?” he asked.
“Yes, thank you,” said Yulia, “But does Siana still not know that I am here?”
“No. She still doesn’t know.”
“Won’t she be shocked when she sees me like this? Will the shock be healthy for her?”
“It will be fine. Because, like you said, Siana isn’t weak.”
Alan smiled calmly at her and Yulia accepted his reasoning. Alan always smiled like that when he talked about his wife.
“Well, if you say so,” said Yulia, “Should we go in now?”
“Yes,” said Alan and turned the doorknob, opening the door to Siana’s bedroom. The room was bright;y lit by lanterns on the walls. Siana was there on the bed, not quite lying down but not quite awake either.
“Alan, YULIA!?” Siana’s eyes widened at the sight of Yulia as she called her name.
“Hi, Sia. It’s been a long time.”
“How did you get…”
“I asked her to come,” said Alan.
“Without telling me?”
“Sorry. I thought you’d feel better with your friend here. And Yulia said yes.” At Alan’s explanation, Siana opened her mouth to say something and then closed it with a frustrated look on her face.
She was panicking. A few days ago, Alan had asked her if she wanted to contact her friend, but she had refused. As the delivery date approached, she felt more anxious than ever. She felt bad complaining to Alan so much and she wanted to spare her friend the annoyance. But now, he had secretly invited her without her knowing…
However, Siana understood why he did it and she was actually grateful that Yulia was here. “Thank you for coming such a long way, Yulia,” said Siana, “You must be exhausted.”
“It was nothing,” said Yulia, “Are you feeling okay?
“I am now,” said Siana, smiling at her friend.
But Yulia knew her friend. She was sad to see that not everything was fine. Siana had lost so much weight and her cheeks were sunken. That was why Alan was worried so much that he wrote me a letter.
Yulia had heard that pregnancy was hard, but she had no idea that she would lose so much weight during the time they hadn’t seen each other. Siana was supposed to eat a lot and nurture herself along with her unborn baby. Where the hell did all the food go? Yulia wondered and stopped short as her gaze fell upon Siana’s belly.
Siana’s bump was so very swollen. Yulia wasn’t even sure if someone’s belly could get this big even if they have a small build. What in the hell…. She recalled other women she had met in the past, she didn’t remember them having this big a belly in their pregnancy.
Siana chuckled. “Not what you expected?” she asked. “It seems I am having twins.”
“Yeah, that’s what the doctor said.”
Yulia couldn’t imagine how painful it would be to birth twins. It was painful enough birthing one baby. Siana smiled awkwardly. She gave Yulia time to process things. She had been as shocked and as happy when she had first heard about it from the doctor.
Most people, who heard the news, showed the same expression. Siana smiled at her friend and suggested that she should eat something after such a long journey. Siana wouldn’t be able to accompany her. She couldn’t sit properly and had to stay propped up on the bed. Alan fed her.
Yulia had her meal in the dining room, alone. She didn’t mind it. But she was concerned for her friend. From the looks of it, Siana forced herself to eat what Alan fed her but she didn’t eat much and couldn’t move properly, too. She had lost so much weight that she looked sick. Yulia was very worried for her.
When Yulia finished her meal, there was the sound of a door closing behind her. Is Siana here? Yulia wondered and turned around, almost getting up from her chair to help her friend. But the person who had come in the dining hall was not Siana but Alan.
What am I even thinking? There is no way Siana can come down here on her own. She felt stupid. It was almost impossible for her friend to get out of bed on her own. Despite that she felt a little disappointed but brushing off her feelings, she greeted Alan warmly.
“Good evening Alan,” she said.
“My apologies for interrupting your meal,” said Alan, “But I came here to thank you.”
“Why?” asked Yulia.
“Because you came all the way for us,” said Alan,” I am so sorry for making you travel all the way and not accompanying you properly for the meal.”
“No, no,” said Yulia, “It’s perfectly alright. You don’t need to treat me so special.”
“Thank you for understanding,” said Alan.
Yulia wasn’t sure what to say next. There was this awkwardness between them.
“Have you eaten yet?” asked Yulia.
“Not yet,” said Alan.
“Do you want to eat here?” she asked, “I am almost done but I can accompany you.”
“That’s alright. I just came to make sure you were being treated properly,” said Alan, “I have to return to Siana. I will eat there.”
It was actually a very polite gesture on his part. Yulia liked that he was so polite and took care of everything. She was also grateful to see that he cared for Siana so much.
“Then I shall head back up,” said Alan, “I hope you enjoy your meal. Please don’t hesitate to tell me if there is any problem at all.”
“Thank you,” said Yulia. She took her time and finished her meal. She later thought that she should have asked about Siana’s condition, but Alan had already left.
* * *
It was getting difficult for Siana to move around day by day, and Yulia felt sorry that her friend was confined to the bed all day because of her condition.
“It’s difficult, right?” she asked.
“Yeah,” said Siana, laughing, “Still, it’s manageable.” Yulia didn’t laugh along with her. It was astonishing to see her friend smiling even when she had to deal with this. “I didn’t like it when Alan contacted you without telling me,” said Siana, “I thought it would be a nuisance to you, making you travel all the way. But now that I think about it, I think he did the right thing. You being here makes me feel better. I am so glad you came, Yulia.”
“Of course!” said Yulia, “Call on me whenever you need me. Believe me, a call from you is never a nuisance to me.”
“Thank you for saying that,” said Siana. “I thought of the babies’ nicknames!”
“Really?” said Yulia, “Tell me!”
“First and Second,” said Siana.
Yulia, who had been thinking about several cute nicknames, froze as if she ad been stabbed. “What kind of a nickname is that?” said Yulia, “Don’t people normally think of real names so they can decide on a nickname?”
“But I don’t know their genders yet.”
“Then you haven’t really thought of names either, have you?”
“No,” said Siana, “I was thinking of doing that after they are born. Alan agreed, too.”
“Well, I guess ‘First’ and ‘Second’ could work for now,” said Yulia.
Siana smiled at her. “Oh, it’s so good to see you here Yulia,” she said, “To be honest, I get scared thinking the delivery date is near.”
“Why do you feel that way?”
“I… just, you know, I might die during…,” stammered Siana, “I am afraid of it.”
“What? Why are you even thinking about that?”
“Well, I heard from midwives before,” said Siana, “That some mothers die during childbirth because of complications. I am worried because I am having twins. What if I…”
Yulia was indeed worried about her friend. What she said was true. Women often died during childbirth. “Have you talked with Alan about it?” asked Yulia.
“No,” said Siana, “But he probably knows. I overheard the doctor talking to him about it.”
“Oh….” Now Yulia realized why Alan had sent her the letter.
“Sia, you aren’t going to die,” said Yulia.
Siana smile. “Of course, I don’t want to,” she said, “With Alan and the babies. I want to be here.”
Siana told her not to worry about it that it might not really happen to her but Yulia could see that her smile was forced.
After spending the day talking with Siana, Yulia returned to her room. But the words kept repeating in her head. Sia might die. Yulia had never ever thought about her friend dying. It was why she never had worried about Siana when she travelled to the Legarde estate. But now, she was scared that she might lose her best friend.