4: Juline

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Sighing, Biana climbed back into bed, wondering if she'd be able to fall asleep again. Phillip, who was currently sitting on her bladder, had made her get up to pee for the fourth time that night, and she was getting pretty fed up with this whole pregnancy thing, even though she still had two months to go. She felt enormous and like her organs were packed too tight with a squirming baby crashing around inside of her at odd hours of the day, and loathed the different habits she was forced to take on to accommodate her enlarging belly. The constant need to pee, sleeping on her side to keep Phillip from weighing on her spine, her ankles swelling up, the way she waddled instead of walked -- she was sick of it, wishing her due date would come sooner. A wish that wasn't so crazy with all the stress with the Neverseen and Sophie and Fitz's condition.

Everyone in the palace had been busy and tense since the siege, leaving Biana feeling isolated from her loved ones. Outside of their daily "parlor meetings" for lunch, Biana only saw her brother and his cognate at dinner, and she sorely missed the company of her best friends. She understood they needed to heal, but she still selfishly missed them nonetheless. Her parents and Keefe were busy with the royal duties of the palace, and though Biana constantly asked if she could help them, they always politely turned her down, insisting she needed to rest instead of worrying about politics.

But Biana didn't want to rest. Phillip was coming into the world in only a few short months, and she wanted him to come into a better world. A safer world. One without sieges and loved ones constantly getting hurt. One without worrying that with every good thing that happened to them, something equally bad would follow. She was tired of everyone putting their lives on the line to protect her and her son and watching them struggle not to lose their own life in the process. Some succeeded. Others... didn't. The Neverseen took her husband from her. They would not take her son.

Every day, no matter how tired she was, Dex and Biana began sword training. It was only with wooden swords so no accidents could happen while she was pregnant, but she made sure to treat the wooden sword like it was steel. She didn't want to be unprepared. Even if her ankles were too swollen for her to stand and she had to get a stool to sit on or if she had to take five pee breaks during the training, they always practiced for at least an hour. Because with every hour, she got better, and the better she was, the safer Phillip was.

Biana and Dex had decided to keep their training sessions a secret, so no one (particularly Fitz and her father) could stop them, saying they were being reckless or that Biana was worrying about things she didn't need to. So, to keep the secret, they woke up with the sun every morning if they weren't already awake to train in the depths of the palace garden, away from prying eyes when everyone else was asleep or too busy to investigate the garden to find the source of the distant conversation and cracking of wood on wood. Besides, few people actually knew about the little glade within the tall palace bushes. Biana only knew about it because it was where she and Tam would sneak off to kiss when they were courting.

The glade brought back many memories for her, and sometimes she couldn't help but marvel at how much her life had changed in less than a year, but she found it fitting that it was now where she was learning to wield a sword from his right hand man. Knowing that Tam would be pleased at this arrangement gave Biana a fuzzy feeling in her chest that was always a challenge to shove aside so she could focus on her sword techniques. When she lost focus, she often missed her target or hit Dex a little too hard. She always profusely apologized, but he was always proud of how hard she'd hit and wore the bruises like medals, explaining to anyone who asked that they were from his training, never mentioning the purple and green marks were a gift from Biana in order to protect their secret. Dex had been especially tense after the argument with his mother, so seeing him find a positive in something was, in Biana's mind, a miracle.

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