From what I could tell, Elvira was happy. She came down for breakfast every morning with a smile on her face. She hummed while she embroidered. She even went out of the house more to go visit the markets. Though she claimed she was going for some fresh air, I knew she was spending a lot of time at the blacksmith's.
Even though she would smile while Elvira was in the room, I knew Elvira's good mood was annoying our mother. When Elvira would leave, she'd get a sour look on her face and took to looking at the calendar more and more as the time passed. I knew why and it made me sick to my stomach.
Per my request, Thomas hadn't told Elvira of what my mother said. I didn't know if Elvira was terrified of the fact she might be pregnant and I definitely didn't want to ask her. Maybe she wasn't worried....
However, I soon realized I was wrong.
Someone knocked on my bedroom door and I groaned. I looked out the window and frowned. The sun wasn't even up. Perhaps had I imagined it? I yawned and rolled over to go back to sleep but my door opened.
Elvira's voice was trembling and I sat up immediately, glad I had decided to sleep clothed. I ran to my door. Her face was paler than normal and her hair was knotted.
"Elly, what's wrong?" I asked.
"I'm late," she said in a hoarse voice.
I frowned. "The sun isn't even up. What could you be late for?"
"No, Bryant. I'm late."
I was confused for a second then my eyes widened. Hers were filling with tears and I quickly pulled her in for a hug. She shook in my arms, crying quietly, and I stared in fear at the wall across from my door. My heart was hammering painfully in my chest.
"We'll call for the doctor," I said. "We'll have him come as soon as possible."
"Everyone will know!"
"No they won't," I said. "I promise. I'll take care of it." I held her at arm's length. "What can I do right now?"
"I want Thomas," she whispered and I nodded.
"I'll go get him. Go back to bed. Do me a favor and... don't tell Mother."
"Why not?" she asked. "I was hoping she'd-"
"I don't want her to worry yet," I lied. "She's still asleep."
"Right," she said. "Okay."
I made sure she was asleep before running outside, not even bothering to tuck in my shirt. The morning was cold; autumn had arrived. No one was on the streets and I ran the whole way to Thomas's house. I took a deep breath then knocked loudly.
It took him a while to answer but, when he did, he frowned.
"Mr. Rivers?" he asked, his voice heavy with sleep, and I rolled my eyes.
"How many times have I told you to call me Bryant?" I asked then shook my head. "No. That's not what's important. Elly needs you."
Any trace of sleep was gone from Thomas's face.
"Just... let me get Megan up. We'll have to bring her. She doesn't have school today."
"Okay," I nodded.
"Come on in while I get ready."
I stepped in and looked around. I hadn't spent an extended period of time in Thomas's house. He kept it very clean, even with a six year old sister. Their dining table was littered with pictures that she had drawn and I wandered over to them. Most of them depicted a large dragon breathing fire on a knight. I flipped through and my breath caught in my throat.
It was a black dragon breathed red and purple flames on a silver knight. Behind the knight, a girl in a dress was on the ground, cowering behind the knight. Above the knight in crooked letters, she had put Tommy and, over the girl, Elly.
Thomas came back out ten minutes later, Megan on his hip. She was groggy and yawning. When she saw me, she just waved and I smiled at her, leading the way to the house. I thought to Megan's drawing. Did she know what happened to Elly? I slowed down.
"Hey, Megan," I said quietly, "can I ask you a question?" She nodded, yawning again. "I was admiring your pictures. You drew one of... of my sister. Why?"
"She's sad," she mumbled sleepily. "I was gonna give it to her so she knows Tommy will protect her from her dragon. Just like he's keeping me safe from mine."
I glanced at Thomas. He was crying and kissed the top of Megan's head. He had told me their parents died in a fire but I didn't have much time to think about it. We arrived at the house just as the sun went over the top of the trees. My mother narrowed her eyes.
"It's a bit early to call on my daughter, don't you think?" she asked Thomas.
"Megan wants to see her," I lied. "She had a nightmare."
Megan opened her mouth and Thomas quickly ran up the stairs so she couldn't blow the cover. I was going to follow them when my mother stopped me.
"We should know any day now," she breathed. "I'm thinking about calling for the doctor. I don't think she trusts me fully yet."
And she shouldn't.
"I'll go visit him in a couple house," I said and she nodded, a smile curling on her lips.
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if it was a boy?" she breathed.
I went upstairs, not bothering to answer that despicable question. My mother hadn't always been like this. After our father died, she grew jealous of Elvira. That and the amount of money my father left behind twisted her mind. She was greedy, vindictive, and manipulated all those around her. It was enough to bring me to tears.
When I got to Elvira's room, I heard Megan whispering something and walked in.
"And he's got blond hair," she was saying.
Megan was curled under the blankets with Elvira, snuggled close. I assumed she was telling Elvira about the boy she had a crush on because Thomas also looked a little uncomfortable. I stood beside him and he just acknowledged me with a nod. I knew he was waiting for Megan to fall back asleep so we could speak openly with Elvira.
"He sounds like a handsome boy," Elvira said and Megan nodded, her eyes closing.
"He pulled on my hair," she said. "I almost hit him but Tommy said I-I-I-" She yawned. "I shouldn't do that to little boys."
Elvira giggled and smiled at Thomas. "Yes, he's right. Just ignore him, Megan. He'll stop soon and maybe you can become good friends."
"That'd be fun," Megan mumbled and soon she was asleep again.
"Are you all right?" Thomas whispered, kneeling by Elvira on the bed.
She shook her head, her lower lip trembling.
"I'm scared, Thomas," she whimpered.
He held her hand and kissed it. "I know, Elvira. But it'll be okay. Everything will be fine."
She sobbed a little and I glanced at the clock, running out of patience.
"I'll be back," I breathed. "I can't wait any longer. Stay with her. If our mother asks, you're keeping an eye on Megan."
He nodded and I rushed out. My mother was in the dining room, eating a large breakfast. She beamed at me as I went to the door. I ran again thought this time to the doctor. I wanted to get to him before anyone woke up.
I knocked frantically and he opened the door. I was glad to see that he was wide away already.
"We need you," I breathed, "but first I need to tell you something in private."
"Come in," he said. "Is this about your sister?"
"Yes but first you must swear to secrecy," I said firmly.
"Of course. You can trust me with anything."
I ran a hand through my hair. "Elly was... forced upon by a man."
The doctor's eyes widened and I nodded. "By whom?"
I shook my head. "No. I can't tell you that. Not yet. It's been over a month and she's late. I need you to come look at her. She fears she is pregnant."
"I'll come right now."
His face was pale as he packed up some things in a black bag. I waited for him, my heart racing.
"Ah, Doctor," my mother said, putting on a worried face. "I was hoping you'd come look at Elvira. I am concerned for her."
"Just go," I muttered, grabbing his elbow and leading him up the stairs.
Elvira began to sob when she saw the doctor come in. He smiled sympathetically at her.
"Hello, Miss Rivers," he said. "I hear you're a little worried." Elvira just nodded and Thomas kissed her hand. "Well, the best way to get an accurate answer is a little uncomfortable, I won't lie."
"What do you have to do?" I asked as my mother sidled in, barely containing her excitement.
"I have to look at her," he answered and Elvira's face turned deep red. "You can ask them to leave if you'd like," he said to Elvira.
"No," she said immediately. "Will you have t-t-to touch?"
"No," he promised. "I just have to look."
He sighed and moved the blankets. He looked at her in sympathy again. Thomas and I averted our eyes as he lifted her dress and told her to spread her legs. He got out a magnifying glass and my mother gripped my arm as we waited for his answer.