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Catherine Smith for Percival Adlard Jr..
The peppiest of widows~
It was a pity he wasn't a woman, so then he might have had a chance of seducing his friend and marrying into his pocket, as it happened in the scandalous, poorly written novels that Christobal sometimes painted covers for. Christobal Vainart in Jackie & Wilson
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Melody hadn't known what to expect in the silence that lingered after her rushed words, but it certainly hadn't been that. An almost apology for disappearing on her. "Okay." She nodded. It was more than she presently deserved. "I won't make important decisions without you, either." Melody wasn't going to badger him with every decision (beef or chicken for supper? Yellow or blue wallpaper for the bedroom? Already, she could feel the ire if she did.)

Hesitantly, as though she was going to regret even raising the issue presently, she picked up the potion again. "Do you want to talk about this further?" The decision was made on both their parts, or so she thought. Now, Melody wasn't so sure.

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]
Ben let out a long breath as he looked at the vial in her hands. He didn't want to talk about it, or even think about it, but — that was him giving up again, he knew. Pushing this off onto her to deal with on her own wasn't an option if she was willing to include him in the conversation. It wasn't as though she had the option to not deal with it, after all; it wasn't going anywhere for her.

"I don't know if I have anything else to say," he admitted honestly. "Obviously neither of us is ready for this." Ben hadn't ever given any serious thought to whether he even wanted children, because he had never expected to find himself married, so he didn't even know if he wanted them in the abstract — but he certainly didn't want one in seven months and some change. He couldn't even imagine feeling truly settled into married life at that point, much less ready to take on an additional challenge.

The one big unknown, though, was what this potion would actually do to her. Ben hadn't done any research on this, but he couldn't imagine these sorts of tactics were safe, or else why wouldn't anyone use them? Unplanned pregnancies happened both in and out of marriage, and if the alternative was readily available and free of consequences, they wouldn't. So there had to be a catch, and he imagined it had something to do with her health.

"Is it... safe? For you to take it?" he asked hesitantly, glancing from her to the vial in her hand.

Set credit to MJ! <3
In short, no. The potion wasn't a safe alternative to pregnancy. Its description included a great many warnings that left Melody half wondering if they existed only to deter women waffling on the idea of motherhood. It might leave her sterile, or cause some hemorrhaging that only experienced healers could stop. Its purpose was to dissolve the baby, which was why time was of the essence. The longer she postponed taking it the lesser the chance the baby would be fully dissolved, leaving her to birth a half-formed child.

Despite all the warnings, it was still the safest option she discovered in her few weeks of research. There was some ghastly muggle way using a metal hook, but Melody didn't see how thaf was any safer than this potion. Had she more time she might have been able to find yet a different way, but her body was already changing. She needed to act quickly.

"As safe as such a potion can be." She said quietly. "It has risks — every method I've found thus far carries risks. It seemed the safest of the options." The drawing depicting the metal hook would haunt Melody forever. How such a tool was inserted baffled her completely.

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]
Her answer wasn't surprising, but he supposed he'd been hoping for something a little less vague. This wasn't information he could do anything with, really, but he didn't know that he had the time or energy to educate himself on the subject. In order to make an informed decision about whether the risk was worth the potential payoff, he'd need to know what the alternatives were. Ben knew hardly anything about pregnancy, despite the fact that his sister had gone through two of them. He certainly didn't know anything about the range of potions or other methods available to cause an abortion.

"Well," Ben said uncertainly, "If you think it's safe enough... I, uh, don't have any objections, I guess."

Set credit to MJ! <3
Well, that was it then, wasn't it? Ben had no objections, and the few she still weren't enough to overcome her intense fear of motherhood. No one other than he would ever have to know. They could live with this tragedy (she was murdering a baby, after all) buried in their closets for all eternity. "Okay." She nodded. Perhaps it was better he knew. Perhaps not telling him was why she hadn't been brave enough to take it on her own in the first place.

The pop of the vial's stopper was the only sound in the room. It was better this way, she reminded herself for the umpteenth time. No child would flourish with Ben and she as their parents, not in their current state anyway.

Wordlessly (and before she could talk herself out of it again) Melody drank the potion.

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]
Ben watched her drink the potion, feeling like he should be doing something but not sure what it would be. He'd contributed just as much to this pregnancy, although he of course hadn't anticipated the consequences when they'd had their liaison. Even so, the burden of physically doing something about it rested entirely on her. If there were any negative consequences from this, they would be impacting her, not him. He'd been so focused on the decision making part of it — the mental strain that she had insisted she was trying to spare him from — that this was perhaps the first time he was really thinking about that component of it.

She drank it; he waited. Nothing seemed to be happening, at least from the outside.

"Come here," Ben said softly, an invitation rather than a directive. He shifted in the bed to make plenty of room for her to sit, and gave her time to move before he spoke again. "What happens next?"

Set credit to MJ! <3
The past two weeks brought about a singular purpose: find a solution and execute it. So long as the solution was effective, Melody didn't quite care for the aftermath. Every answer she found shared common themes of heavy cramping and bleeding, the one she had just taken was known to lead to severe fatigue as well. With any luck, though, she would manage through the next few days and come out the other side unscathed. Hopefully they weren't too late.

Melody placed the empty vial on the table with a heavy hand and moved to sit on the bed. Already, she could feel the beginning twinges of her menstrual cramps. Somehow, though, she doubted these would be as mild as those.

She rubbed her eyes tiredly and turned to face him. "It...it's supposed to dissolve the —" baby. Despite being certain of her decisions to rid herself of the pregnancy Melody couldn't help the wave of emotions at the thought. One potion, one foolish fear, had just murdered their baby. "The effects should be at their peak anywhere between an hour and a half a day from now. It reacts differently with every pregnancy." Her voice was quiet and sad, the weight of their decision obviously sitting on her heavily.

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]
Her mood settled over him as she joined him on the bed. Ben still didn't know how to feel about the idea of a baby in general terms, and so what he was feeling at the moment was just a gaping emptiness where a large emotional reaction should have been. Relief? Grief? Something in between? He might figure it out sometime in the next few days, but for now he was just feeling the tension and gloom in the air.

"Are you... going to feel it, when it happens?" he asked, quietly.

Set credit to MJ! <3
Discussing this was something they should have done before she took the potion, not after. For now all she dreamed of doing was curling up into the tightest ball imaginable and riding out the tidal waves of grief. However, Ben seemed intent on talking her through it, and she had no fight left to give.

"Yes." Melody sighed. "The book said it would be painful, more akin to birth than  the normal monthly pains..." She trailed off, uncertain of what Ben knew (if anything) about a woman's monthlies. Surely he hadn't had to have this conversation before? Melody frowned. Had he had this conversation before?

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]
Ben considered her answer. A part of him thought that if she was going to be here in pain, he ought to at least offer to stay with her (though whether she would find his presence comforting or not, after everything they'd just gone through, was debatable). Another, more practical part of him knew that he had to go do his job, or risk losing it. Jameson was a fairly lenient boss, but if Ben lost this lead that he had worked so hard to obtain and came back from France empty handed, after having taken off without a moment's notice — well, even that would be too much, Ben figured. And Aldous wasn't going to get him a job, given that he'd just pissed off the American liaison by stealing his fiancee away a week before their wedding. None of his friends were well-poised to find him employment — hell, Art was nearing the point of retirement himself. Ben really needed to keep the job he had.

He couldn't offer to stay with her, but at least he could be here now, and for the next few hours or so. Awkwardly, Ben scooted a little closer to her and wrapped his arms around her. It seemed like the right thing to do, but the impulse had been a mental one, not one he felt in his gut. Maybe it wouldn't matter; maybe it was the thought that counted. Or, maybe it at least counted for something.

"I'm sorry," he said. "Is there anything I can get you to help?"

Set credit to MJ! <3
Not even twenty-four hours ago Melody was contemplating how to cope without Ben in her life, and now he was embracing her on their bed. It felt awkward and wrong, mainly because she didn't believe it was genuine. Offering support for someone in pain was just something one did. The situation hadn't changed — Ben still likely wanted rid of her (not that she blamed him for it). There were still mountains to climb before they got back to where they were last week.

They still had to get through this.

However, shrugging off his touch felt like more of an insult than allowing it to continue did. Melody turned further into him, her knees shifting into his lap. "No, I'll be okay." She mumbled quietly. The pains were gradually becoming more intense and she really ought to prepare herself for what was to come, but she stayed as she was wrapped in his arms. Some comfort had to be better than none, even if it was falsely given.

Beautiful set credit goes to MJ
[Image: rVeL1F.png]

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