The smell of baked apples and sprinkled cinnamon wafting in the air confirmed the time of year it has become on the Spiran calendar: autumn has arrived.
It sure didn't feel like it though. Truth be told, it’s still quite warm here -- so much so, that many of the travelers brought their swimsuits to the Moonflow to take a dip. Me? I neglected to bring mine, for rather obvious reasons. Tidus is rather disappointed, and understandably so -- he really looked forward to seeing the leaves turn colors like I promised him.
“Perhaps we should make for the Travel Agency on the northern banks?” He suggests. Inwardly, I'm thankful. We had originally planned to find our private spot and take in the view, but with as much effort as that would take, and as many people as there are here, there’s really no guarantee that our little spot would be unoccupied.
“I think it would be best…” I nod in agreement. Honestly, I’m looking forward to getting off my feet. I know Lulu said that exercise was best, and I believe her, but today just isn't the best of days. I'm sore, and I'm hurting. And honestly, Lulu had a much bigger -- frame to help cope than I do.
But I'm so thankful to see everyone out here enjoy the Calm. Looking at them, it makes me smile. Little kids, grandparents, teenagers and young adults alike connecting with each other, their stories intertwining and making connections, perhaps for a moment, or maybe for a lifetime.
We sacrificed so much for the Calm everyone now enjoys, an Eternal Calm. I couldn't have done it without my guardians and my friends, that's for sure. We were afraid we had lost it two years ago, when New Yevon and the Youth League almost went to war. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed, and the two factions continue to normalize relations to this day.
Only now can I hear the gossip around me. They don't think I can hear it, but I don't let it slip. I hear things phrases like “Maechen’ of Spira”, or something. I'm sure I didn't hear it right, but goodness, am I really that old? Perhaps Beclem was right after all. I hear another kid utter the phrase “Bacon of Spira” as he stared at me. That would certainly fit better. I feel like a pig right now. Or really, a shoopuf...
Speaking of shoopuf, it's time to cross the Moonflow.
“Yuna, are you okay?” He must have noticed. I wave him off as everyone steps aside, allowing me a clear path to the lift. Really? I'm just like you all! I don't deserve any special treatment! Even now, I just don't want it! I want to scream it out loud, but it would just make things worse. So I accept their courtesy.
We get lifted up onto the back of the shoopuf and settle in. Tidus holds my hand as I awkwardly take my seat, and then takes his seat beside me as a couple of other passengers climb aboard.
“How are you feeling, Yuna?” He asks as he pulls me into his grasp. From his tone of voice I can tell he’s seeing right through me. Perhaps I should tell him, but I really need to stretch first, then lay my head on his shoulder, and…
“Yuna! It’s time to get off!”
“Wha-- already?” But it takes a lot longer than this to cross the Moonflow! How?
“Enjoy your nap, sleepyhead?” A nap? Oh goodness!
“Oh! How long was I out for?” I ask, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
“Since before the shoopuf even took off! Come on, let's get to the Travel Agency!” He replies in that infectious, giddy tone, lifting me up with his arm around my back. He’s a lot more cheerful than he was before we had crossed. I wonder what he’s thinking about, but I decide not to question him as I follow close behind, our hands intertwined.
We both descend down the machina lift, and touch down on solid ground once more. Tidus leaves me momentarily to make sure we have all our belongings and then we’re off, only to be stopped by something I could have sworn I heard before.
“Mish Yoona, what can I do for yoo?” That phrase, is it really him? Our Hypello on the Celsius!
“Barkeep! I haven't seen you in forever!”
“Mish Yoona, yoo did recognish me!” It's hard for a Hypello to express themselves with their face, but I knew his excitement when he waved his hands into the air and started dancing. It's cute, really.
“How have you been?”
“I’sh been bushy workin’ the shoopupupuff ever shince the Shelshiush went out of conmishion, yesh?”
“My goodness! How’s it working out for you?” It’s really a lot of hard work to manage the shoopuf ferry day to day. I really hope he can manage it.
“It getsh diffificult at timesh, yesh? But I wouldn't tradesh it for anyshing! Plush I getsh to work wish Darling too, yesh?”
Oh my gosh! I completely forgot about Darling! “W-where is she? I haven't seen her in just as long!”
“She ish on the osher shide,” Barkeep shook his head longingly. So we missed her…
“I hope we can catch her on our way back through! We’re on a trip to Guadosalam, but we’ll be coming back through here soon!”
“Mish Yoona, you ish wish child, yesh?” Well, I didn't expect that level of tact from Barkeep, to be honest. What a pleasant surprise!
“Indeed! It won't be much longer now.” At least I hope that’s the case. I really can't wait to meet our child, and Tidus can't either.
“Congratulatationsh! Thish makesh me sho exshited!”
“Thank you. I'm very grasheful…” Wait. Did I really just go full Hypello there? Really? “I'm so sorry!”
“Whatsh there to be shorry aboutsh? Mish Yoona, perhapsh you should get shome resht?”
“Well, we are heading to the Travel Agency for the night, actually.”
“The new one just down the banksh, yesh?”
“Yes, that’s the one!!” I bow to the best of my ability and take my leave. “It was so nice to see you again!”
“Return to ush anyshime!” Barkeep shouts as he waves us off.
“You know you shouldn't be talking to a barkeep at a time like this.” Tidus quipped. I could just hear the devilish smile on his face without having to look at it.
“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean? That’s his name, you know! He...just happened to barkeep...on the Celsius.”
“Oh? So did you partake?”
“No!!!” I lie forcefully, and I can tell by his expression he doesn't believe it one bit. How does he always know? “Oh, okay. I maybe did, a little here or there. But nothing overboard, I swear!” Goodness, why do I feel so bad for admitting this? Honestly though, I don't think my stomach would be able to handle being around the smell of it.
“So, just like any other normal person might try?”
“You can say that.” I glance down at the ground, what little of it that isn't blocked by my stomach.
“I must say, Barkeep sounds like a pretty stand-up guy if you ask me.”
“Heck, he had you turning into a Hypello yourself! ‘I'm very grasheful!’” He poked with a hearty chuckle.
Okay, he got me there. I can't believe I did that, but goodness, I just can't help but shoot back along with him. “Hey, at this point I'll take being called a Hypello over being called a shoopuf.”
I shouldn't have said that.
“Who said that to you?” He demanded, visibly upset; fire in his eyes.
“No one, Tidus. I was just saying that it could happen, especially now.” I dared not elaborate further on what was a figment of my imagination. He’d say I’m being too hard on myself, and he’d probably be right, and I'd be too stubborn to change anyways. “Let's just get a room, okay?”
We meander through the recently carved path to the newly built Travel Agency and arrive at the front desk. Tidus works on checking us in. Meanwhile I am oh so tempted to sit on the nearby plush bench, but I fear if I do, I won't be able to get back up!
Tidus returns to me and points down the hallway with a grimace. The last room at the end of the hallway? I want to protest to the front desk, but with as many tourists as we’ve seen, we’re probably lucky to get a room at all. I don't think I could do the extra few hours to get to Guadosalam tonight, so I'll be thankful for these remaining few hundred steps. He offers to carry me, but with the day so close to being over with, I walk the distance, and proceed to plop down on the bed.
“Take a load off, Yuna!” He kneels down to kiss me on my forehead, and I respond with a smile. He trails off to what’s presumably the bathroom so I decide to take in the surroundings.
My goodness this mattress feels amazing! I need to find out who makes these! Or could it be that I was just that active for that long? I don't know. The room, however is very basic; no seasonal decorations of any kind, but at least everything is well-kept.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes. Truth be told, I'm not sure I even want to change into my nightgown at this point. I think I'll just sleep like this…
“Yuna! Its got a nice, spacious bathtub in it! You should check it out!” Okay, this changes things…
“Can you run me one, please?” A hot bath really sounds wonderful right now.
“Righto!” Tidus cheered, then ran back into the bathroom. I decided to take the opportunity to prepare. Removing my white blouse and sky blue skirt specially made for me proved easy enough. My boots were a stretch, literally, but I was finally able to kick them off. I fully intended to have everything removed and back in my nightgown by the time he was done, but he popped back out early, in time to see me struggle with my undergarments.
It feels like my cheeks are on fire, as I rush to cover up what Tidus has already seen on multiple occasions. Realizing it, I relent. “Can you help me?”
“Of course. If I may ask one thing, that is.” Tidus replied, folding his arms. What does he want? If it’s...you know...I don't know…
“What is it?”
“Let me carry you in there. You deserve it with all you're going through to have our child. And besides, your ankles!”
“Okay.” What can I say? He’s right. My ankles are indeed swollen and sore. And maybe, maybe just this once I should be spoiled.
He promptly helps me out of my undergarments and without the hint of a blush or snicker! Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not so sure…
I get my answer soon thereafter as he picks me up out of bed, daring to heft me to the bathtub. Despite it all, he still has that firm, sure grip on me he’s used time and time again. Would you believe I only recently found out that the first time he held me like this was in Bevelle? Unfortunately I wasn't aware, as I apparently passed out upon receiving Bahamut’s fayth.
Just like then, he’s wanting nothing more than to take care of me. And I'm so thankful. Ever since he stepped foot in Spira, every day has been such a blessing. But I still need to let him have it though! “You spoil me, Tidus!”
“Well, that's kind of in the job description, don't you know? As your husband, I'm contractually obligated to spoil you on a regular basis.”
“Is that so, Sunshine?” I want to be more straight faced, but his infectious tone has got me giggling like crazy! “Just drop me down into the tub!” I order as I catch my breath.
“Let me get this straight. You want me, to drop my wife, pregnant with our child, from this height?” Really Tidus? Really?
“You wouldn't!” I stick my tongue out at him and kick my legs, playfully squirming in his grasp.
I didn't expect it right then and there, but I welcomed it all the same as he pressed his heavenly lips against mine. I lean up to happily return the favor, and I see his relaxed expression, knowing that he’s made me content. He then lowers me down until I feel the relaxing warmth of the bath envelop my body.
“My goodness this is wonderful, Tidus…” I stretch and let the warmth soak in.
“Is there anything else I can do?” He offers with all sincerity.
“No, I think-- I'll be fine. Thank you so much, Tidus.”
“Don't mention it! Let me go get your nightgown and your towel.” He’s gone for but a moment, but returns quickly to place both items within my reach. “You know what to do if you need me, okay?”
“Of course, Sunshine.” He places a gentle kiss on my forehead, gives me a grin, and steps out, leaving me to relax-- and contemplate.
Tidus has really come through for me since we found out almost eight months ago. Anything I've needed, he’s tended to, whether I admit I need it or not. He’s taken wonderful care of me throughout my pregnancy.
To this day he amazes me with his devotion.
I'm still concerned though. No, not about anything pertaining to our relationship; I'm concerned about how he’ll get along with Trommell tomorrow. The last time the two met in Macalania Temple, it wasn't exactly on the best of terms. I've told him that Trommell was misguided, and has since proven his sincerity at every opportunity. Tidus is uneasy about it, and I understand. But thankfully he trusts me.
My goodness, I'm starting to get a sense of why it was so difficult for Wakka to pick out his son’s name! It's such a big decision, and the fact that we don't know the gender of our child, Tidus and I have to come up with two names, just in case! We haven't even settled on one possibility!
And almost on cue, there they are, pressing their foot against my abdomen as if to protest. Just kidding, I don't have any abs anymore! But our little one is healthy, and that’s what matters.
I should be whistling to him right now to help me out, but I'm too stubborn. It takes effort, but I manage. I won't mind if he comes in now, but I don't want to ask.
I finish up, and put on my favorite oversized nightgown. It's nothing fancy, just a cute lavender gown, loosely fit and comfortable to sleep in. I've grown into it in the last several months, but thankfully it has room to spare. Tidus bought it for me a couple of years ago, and it’s become one of my favorite gifts.
When I emerge, Tidus hands me an envelope sealed with the ornamental seal of the Office of Guadosalam of Spira. Underneath is ancient text, presumably the centuries old Guado tongue. I open it to find a card addressed to one Mrs. Yuna, and inside is a message inscribed in elegant calligraphy.
We are honored
And look forward to
Being graced by
We Guado wish to formally thank the
Matron of Spira
For her steadfast dedication in bringing and maintaining the
“Matron of Spira?” That’s a new one! Where could that possibly come from?
“Haven't you heard the gossip?” Tidus asks. He couldn't possibly be referring to the chit chat on the southern bank of the Moonflow, could he?
“Are you talking about earlier today? Honestly I thought they were kind of putting me down, calling me old or fat.”
“Yuna, that's not what they're saying! They're saying you’re the ‘mom’ that orchestrated this new era here in Spira! I didn't make the connection at first, but I'm guessing Guadosalam put it out there in anticipation for your arrival?”
“Matron of Spira...goodness I'm not fit for such a name! Plus it makes me sound old!” I protest by slapping my hands down on the bed as I climb in.
“Well, for the offense of making you sound old, how about we sleep in late?”
“Good idea! I like it!” I like the idea even more when he pulls me against him, wrapping me up in that firm, yet gentle embrace I can't ever get enough of.
“How’s our little one acting?” He asks, resting both of his hands on my stomach.
“Our little one’s been quiet most of the day, actually. They only really started getting active while I was in the tub.”
“They like bathtime already?” Tidus chuckled.
“No, they were letting me know they aren't happy that we don't have a name for them!”
“Oh…” Tidus swallowed as he patted my stomach, as if to apologize to our little one in my tummy. “We promise we’ll have a name or two for you by the time you enter Spira!”
Oooh!!! Whatever Tidus said, it sure got a response from our little one, who now began rolling around and pressing outward. I try to guide Tidus’ hands to the activity, and I feel it when our child’s hand connects with their father’s.
“Hey there…” He whispers, as if to speak directly to our child. I can feel Tidus light up in awe of such a precious moment. He pulls me in closer, making sure I'm snug in his warm grasp. I’m not sure I'll be able to sleep like this, but it's okay. Bonding moments like these are worth the lack of sleep.
Perhaps it took longer for me to find the Eternal Calm than it took for most others, but I wouldn't trade this for anything in the universe. I'm so thankful we’re together as a family, the three of us. I'm so thankful for my Calm.