A while back, I was part of a Secret Santa exchange, for which I had to write four different fics thanks to my Pinch Hitter position. Now, I'm at last finished with that fourth and final fic. This one has been in development hell for well over a month longer than it should have been, and the original author never even made an attempt to actually write his, so I hope I fill the void all right for my recipient, Kody! Please enjoy this fic, and I cannot apologize enough for its hideous tardiness.
The relationship between Lon'qu and Panne was a union of broken souls, filled with trust issues, silent tea times, and several sleepless nights during which one or both of them would wake up in a cold sweat, rocked once again by those persistent nightmares. It was a wonder the two of them managed to maintain a relationship, considering one of them was terrified of women and the other held an entire other species in contempt for its past crimes. The idea that these two broken, mentally unsound individuals somehow managed to create and (sort of) raise a kid in a separate future was a bizarre one to Lon'qu. He, reasonably so, was highly skeptical of how capable Yarne had said they were in his future, and he had no real desire to even try to put those alleged skills to the test. Unfortunately for him, Panne didn't entirely share his mindset, which became apparent one night soon after the downfall of the evil that had brought them all together in the first place. It began like any other night, with Lon'qu jolting awake in the dead of night, a deceased friend's name on his lips and sweat on his brow. He managed to calm himself slightly before looking to where he knew Panne was laying. Before he could decide whether this warranted waking her up or not, she said, "you're awake."
Taken aback by her tone, Lon'qu swallowed hard and nodded. "Yes. And from the sound of it, you never slept."
Panne gave a grunt of confirmation and turned to face him, her face barely visible in the darkness, save the twinkle in her eyes. "I haven't been able to," she replied curtly.
"Dreams?" Lon'qu asked. When Panne told him no, he raised an eyebrow, forgetting that she wouldn't have been able to see. Or maybe she would have...how good was a Taguel's night vision?
Regardless, Panne sat up and leaned against his shoulder, which caused him to instinctively flinch. "Actually, for the first time in a long time, that's not why I'm still awake."
Lon'qu struggled to find words for a moment before finally deciding on, "that's good."
Panne gave another positive sound before pressing onward. "This is something that needs to be discussed though," she said.
"Is now really the time for that?" Lon'qu asked.
Panne shrugged, which Lon'qu only knew about because he felt her shoulder move against his. "You're awake now, so I don't see why not."
"Point taken," Lon'qu grumbled. "What is it?"
Then came the words he was hoping to never have to hear. "I want a child." A moment of silence passed during which neither of them spoke a word. Finally, with a sigh, Lon'qu resumed his resting position, attempting to go back to sleep. "Lon'qu," Panne pressured.
"No," was the immediate reply.
Panne huffed and shook Lon'qu to keep him awake. "Come on, you had to know this conversation was going to happen eventually."
"If I sleep, then it doesn't have to happen until I am awake enough for it," Lon'qu replied, keeping his eyes firmly shut.
Undeterred, Panne only continued her treatment of shaking her partner to keep him awake. "You are not usually the type to run away from problems like this, or at least so I thought. What seems to be the problem anyway?"
Finally succumbing to the ancient Taguel practice of persistent shaking, Lon'qu sat up and heaved a deep sigh. "I don't want kids. Is that good enough for you?"
"Of course not. Elaborate."
If it was brighter, Panne would have seen the angry look she got, but she could tell Lon'qu wasn't exactly beaming. "The trouble in telling you is that I don't even know where to start."
"Then let me help you," Panne said, earning an exasperated sigh. "Does your fear of women factor into that at all?"
Lon'qu huffed and started losing his composure. "You're very lucky I even stay around you, so what makes you think for even a moment that I can possibly...do that with you?"
A hand rested on his that he instinctively withdrew from. "A man-spawn wouldn't be my first choice for this matter myself, but do you see me complaining? Look, I'm the last Taguel."
Lon'qu flung, "incorrect," as if he'd been waiting to for several years. "Yarne's still here."
His eagerness to point out their son was something Panne was quick to capitalize on. "And how do you think he got here, hm?"
"Damn it," Lon'qu grumbled.
Panne chuckled a moment before resuming her serious tone. "Lon'qu, please see it my way. I would be doing a disservice to my entire race if I didn't make at least one child. If your concern is with how good or bad of a father you would be, we'll have plenty of time to talk that out."
Lon'qu shook his head vehemently. "Absolutely not. It is not a matter to talk out. I would be a horrid father, and that's the end of that."
"I disagree," Panne said quickly. "There's only one way to see who is right, is there not?"
"This is undebateable."
"Then allow me to prove it."
Despite how tired as he was, Lon'qu raised his voice as he spat, "Absolutely not! If I cannot protect one person unrelated to me, there is no way I can protect someone as important as my child!"
The couple sat in stunned silence for several moments, the weight of Lon'qu's outburst settling over them. Finally, he turned back to try to sleep once more while Panne remained unmoved. Just when he thought he was out of the conversation, Panne spoke in a voice much smaller than he ever imagined she could speak in. "You've protected me. And I think you have done a good job of it." Several more minutes passed, Lon'qu remaining as still as he could in the hopes that Panne would think he fell asleep. "I can hear your heart beat. I know you are awake."
Reluctantly, Lon'qu sat back up. "You do not need protection. Not when you can turn into a giant beast."
"But you have protected me," Panne countered. "Just because you failed the one time does not mean you will fail every time. Do not doom yourself to an unfulfilled life just because you are too scared to try."
That was the point that finally got to Lon'qu. With a heavy heart and heavier eyelids, Lon'qu at last agreed to Panne's wishes. "If it is truly what you want, it would be wrong of me to stand in your way."
"I'm glad we came to an agreement," Panne said.
Lon'qu swallowed hard and looked at Panne nervously. "We don't have to...right now, do we?"
"I'd like to," Panne responded plainly.
It wasn't an easy task by any means, but in the same night, Lon'qu had been convinced to both have a child and conceive one.
The second bit wasn't as bad as he thought it would be, not that he would ever admit to it.
Of all the mistakes Lon'qu was terrified he and Panne would make considering their child, the worst by a mile was telling any other Shepherds that they were expecting a child. More specifically, when she learned the news, Miriel's eyes lit up, immediately filled with sceintific wonder, which caused the expecting pair to shrink back nervously. "My my," Miriel started, gleefully intertwining her fingers. "What a momentous occasion and a fortuitous opportunity to study more about another species."
There she went with the big words that prevented Lon'qu from understanding half her sentence. Before he could protest, Panne made sure to on her own account. "Wait, you want to study me?"
Miriel's nod made Lon'qu's heart sink. "Of course! There's so much we don't know about Taguel, and their gestation period is the perfect springboard to begin research."
Lon'qu had but a single question: "why?"
And that was when Miriel's husband joined the conversation. "Because, you big dolt! She's a different species, so of course her pregnancy will be different."
"Don't call me that," Lon'qu grumbled.
Henry barked a laugh and continued, undeterred. "What's more is that this will be the first ever documented Taguel hybrid baby! We absolutely have to know how this will affect things!"
Miriel nodded agreement. "I even have a human analog to compare your term with, as our very own tactician has just delivered the revelation that she too is expecting an infant."
"Oh great, so we're making our child a freak show now," Panne sighed. "If you must do this, can I ask that...he not be involved?"
She shot a look at Henry, who misunderstood completely. "What a weird decision, but sure! We can take Lon'qu out of the equation for you."
"Enough of this," Lon'qu said, taking Panne's hand and turning them away. "We're done here."
"Oh please!" Henry called after them. "We promise our experiment would be as un-intrusive as possible. You won't even know we're there."
"We'll know," Lon'qu said curtly. "So you won't be there."
"Please reconsider," Miriel said, covering Henry's mouth to get her point in. "If you are to resurrect your species, it would only be wise to gleam as much knowledge about it as you can so the process can proceed smoothly. If we study your gestation, you will be able to help your future Taguel offspring through it when their opportunity to reproduce comes as well."
This reasoning was enough for Panne to wrest her arm from Lon'qu's grasp and actually seriously contemplate Miriel's suggestion. The look on her face made Lon'qu's heart sink. "You're not actually considering this madness."
Panne shrugged. "She has a point. It is my responsibility to oversee the restoration of my kind. I cannot afford to mess that up. I think she can help."
Miriel smirked. "I'm elated that you see it my way. Now, this would require us being in closer proximity with one another more often, so would it be too much trouble if I requested that you stay here in Ylisse with us and put off returning to Ferox until your child is born?"
"This also makes it so we can more easily compare you and Robin when your bellies get huge!" Henry inputted.
"I'm okay with that," Panne assured Miriel, earning a loud groan from Lon'qu.
Temporarily moving to a different country was hard enough (especially when the time came to explain it to Basilio;) but with the added pressure of having a pregnant wife and two overly curious scientists to deal with, Lon'qu wasn't sure he'd survive long enough to make it back to Regna Ferox in one piece. Luckily, the Exalt of Ylisse was kind enough to lend them all rooms once he learned that his wife would be part of the experiments, so it wasn't like Lon'qu was paying for the move out of pocket. He also assumed that since the experiments were being conducted on his wife, he didn't have to be there.
Oh, how wrong he was.
When he ran this idea past Panne one day while she was getting ready to see the mages, she gave him a murderous look and shook her head. "I don't know what gave you that impression. You're coming with me."
Lon'qu grunted in a fashion that told Panne he was displeased with what she had said. During their time together they had formed a sort of nonverbal communication through which they conveyed how they felt through grunts of various tones. However, when Panne raised an eyebrow at him, it became clear he had to expand on his thought. "I do not wish to interact with either of those two."
"What makes you think I do?" Panne shot back immediately. "If you come with me, perhaps I will be able to resist the urge to kill them both."
Lon'qu sighed and reluctantly started mentally preparing himself for the day. "I guess you have a point."
Panne gave an agreement grunt. "Plus, Robin has to be there, so perhaps Chrom will come along too. We like Chrom."
"We do like Chrom," Lon'qu agreed, making for stunning conversation. "Fine, I will come."
Chrom was not present at the meeting.
That left Lon'qu to sit and watch the insanity all on his lonesome. Fortunately, that particular day's session was merely comparing Robin and Panne as far as progression into the pregnancy was concerned, so it didn't last too long. It was still too lengthy if Lon'qu was to be believed.
As the pregnancy wore on, checkups became more and more common, which meant fewer opportunities to avoid Miriel and Henry completely. It wasn't exactly their fault, though, because they weren't the ones experiencing a bizarre pregnancy, they were just observing it in the form of comparing Panne's progress to Robin's, which was an adventure in itself.
Strangely, Panne was months ahead of Robin developmentally, as when Robin's stomach finally started that iconic growth, Panne's had already been like that for a while.
This revelation became clear around the turn of the new year, when Panne was noticeably pregnant and Robin was only starting to show her belly if one looked really closely (which Lon'qu did not do.) This stumped Miriel and Henry, who spent altogether way too much time mulling over what this could mean. Finally, Henry had a possible explanation.
"Wait, I've got it! Bunnies have like, super short gestation periods," he said, happily thinking about the fluffy rodents. "So, since Panne is part bunny, does that mean her pregnancy is faster than a human's?"
Miriel nodded sagely. "Perhaps, but if that's the case, how much faster is it?"
"This is preposterous," Panne huffed.
Robin nodded. "I think it's a bit far fetched as well. Just because she shares rabbit qualities doesn't mean she's exactly like one."
Henry puffed his cheeks out and put on a disappointed face. "Awe, come on, the scientific method frowns upon stomping my arguments down, guys. Science hates a party pooper."
"I would hardly call you two fawning over an unborn child 'science,'" Lon'qu grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Someone has to be excited about your wife's baby," Henry shot back.
Lon'qu narrowed his eyes at the dark mage and bit his lip. "I don't like your tone."
Before Henry could respond, Miriel snapped her fingers in front of his face to bring him back to the topic at hand. "Focus, Henry," she chided. "We must solve this dilemma."
Robin coughed to catch their attention. "If it helps any, I feel much different than I did when I was this pregnant with Lucina. It feels like it's progressing at a different rate than last time."
Miriel gasped, her eyes filling with scientific wonder. "Oh, now it makes sense. An additional pregnancy with a second child must be an expedited process, because the body is already acclimated to providing refuse for children."
Henry's eyebrows shot up and he cackled. "Oh, so in learning about Taguel pregnancies, we accidentally just discovered something about humans! Oh, how ironic!"
Panne rolled her eyes, unimpressed with the apparent breakthrough. "This isn't helping me much., and frankly, I did not agree to this so you could learn more about humans."
Henry shrugged. "We'll get to you later. Don't get your ears in a twist." He poked at one of her ears playfully, to which she responded by snarling at him, causing him to jump back.
"Sincerest apologies, Panne," Miriel said. "We made the mistake of utilizing two test subjects with different birthing experiences, unaware that a second pregnancy is different from the original. It was not the smartest decision, but we will find ways to amend the situation through whatever means necessary."
"You better," Panne shot. "I did not temporarily move away from home to waste my time."
Miriel held up a hand to calm Panne's seething anger. "Do not fear. We will figure this out."
"You better," Lon'qu grumbled before storming out of the meeting.
"Geeze, what's got his smallclothes in a twist?" Barking a laugh, Henry shook his head and continued observing Panne and Robin, the former currently snacking on a carrot while the latter rolled her eyes at the theatrics.
The months wore on, finding Panne's progress handily outpacing Robin's, the point that it became obvious Panne was going to give birth before Robin could even dream of it. This reality setting in did not have a positive effect on Lon'qu, who got noticeably more nervous as time wore on and Panne's child came closer to being born. Finally, the time came to have a talk about his insecurities. It was an early March evening, and after what was suspected to be the last baby experiment meeting wherein both mothers were still pregnant, Panne found Lon'qu sulking alone in their temporary room. He had long since stopped going to the meetings, which lead to many nights of Panne finding him already deep in slumber. Fortunately, this particular night, he was merely sitting on the bed, unable to even close his eyes for more than a moment. When asked what the problem was, he merely sighed. Panne raised an eyebrow at him and informed him that he wasn't going to get any sleep until he answered her. His retort came in the form of him laying down on the bed and saying, "watch me."
Unimpressed, Panne merely pushed him off the bed, watching him crash to the floor, cursing on the way down. "Now answer me."
Lon'qu breathed a deep, prolonged sigh. "It does not matter. My troubles cannot be helped anymore. I have no choice but to face them."
"Talking about them will help, I think," Panne insisted. "Now tell me."
With a grumble, Lon'qu climbed back onto the bed and sighed. "Alright. You know this, but I am not ready to be a father."
Panne nodded along patiently. "Right. We should probably sort this out before you have to accept it regardless."
"I'll be fine. Always am."
Suddenly, he was on the floor again, a still unamused Panne sitting on the bed above him. "I'm going to keep pushing you off this bed until we talk this out, Lon'qu. So either start talking, or get comfortable on the floor." Despite this threat, Lon'qu remained unmoved, baffling his wife in the process. "I can't believe you. You would sooner sleep on the floor than confront your fears with me. You are impossible."
"How do you think I survived so long being afraid of women?" Lon'qu closed his eyes and prepared to try to sleep on the hard ground, hoping that he had ended the conversation. Instead, he felt an immense pressure press him into the ground, startling him to the point that he reached for a sword he didn't have. "What the hell?" He looked up to see a giant rabbit sitting on his side, as casually as if she was taking a mid-battle break. The only difference between the two he could see were the slight bulge in her stomach and he fact that she was laying on him.
In her echoed beast voice, Panne spoke, determined to get an answer. "Now let's talk this out, shall we?"
Lon'qu groaned and tried in vain to push Panne's furry hide off of him. "Get your ass off me so I can sleep."
"Neither of us are sleeping until we talk about this," Panne insisted, sounding angry enough to put her beast form to use. "Now talk. You are scared of being a father, right?"
"It is not being a father I'm scared of," Lon'qu insisted.
"Then what is it?"
Lon'qu attempted a sigh, but his breath caught in his chest and he struggled under Panne's form. Once she freed him, he explained. "I told you before. I am going to fail miserably."
Transforming back into her human form, Panne helped Lon'qu into a sitting position and leaed against the bottom of the bed with him. "We will do fine. I am not cut out to be a mother, but we can combine our talents, just like we do on the battlefield."
"This is raising a human being, not cutting down a zombie," Lon'qu said. "Those are different things."
Panne shrugged. "Perhaps, but we can still do it. Raising a child is no different from having a pet for the first few years. Have you ever had a pet?"
"Does a pet Taguel count?" The grumble was barely audible, but it still earned Lon'qu a punch to the shoulder.
Panne smirked, not aiming to apologize anytime soon. "We will do fine at parenting, and we will do it together. Got it?"
Lon'qu scoffed. "Fine."
A moment passed during which neither of them spoke, but Panne's eyes grew steadily wider as time went by. Finally, she said, "are you ready?"
Lon'qu's answer came in the form of a plain, "no."
Panne nodded. "Well, you should get ready. Now." The way the words were delivered caused Lon'qu to look at her with wide eyes, to which she nodded a grave confirmation.
The child was coming.
The birth was relatively uneventful, with the exception of the surprise the parents got. They were expecting another, present-timeline version of Yarne, but somehow, the child they gave birth to was nothing like him, screaming loudly, biting at those who were helping, and with a different set of specific organs.
Perhaps the most bizarre part of the early-march birth is that it preceded the arrival of Robin's second child by nearly two full months. She insisted that while her second pregnancy wasn't the same as the first, it definitely wasn't two months slower, which confounded Miriel and Henry so much that they all but forced Panne and Lon'qu to hang around longer than agreed upon. Despite their anger, Miriel managed to come up with a satisfactory answer. "So our previous results were initially voided due to our test subjects experiencing fundamentally different pregnancies, but now it is a reasonable conjecture that Taguel experience shorter gestation periods due to their partial rodent biology."
Henry smiled bigger than usual and hummed happily at this. "So that means my initial idea was right!"
"I'm so happy for you," Panne said flatly.
Henry laughed before he spoke, clearly pleased with his response. "Awe, don't be so dead-panned!" He cackled at his own poor pun while Lon'qu and Panne merely grumbled between one another.
"Can we go now?" Lon'qu asked, preparing to disregard whatever nonsense was about to come out of Henry's big mouth.
Panne nodded agreement, shifting where she was holding her newborn child. "I agree. As much help as this experience has been—which wasn't much—we should be getting back to life as we know it."
Miriel sighed and waved them off. "Fine, fine, you're free to go. I'm elated that I could be of some assistance, at least."
Henry joined in the good-bye eagerly. "I wish I could see you off, but Ferox is so cold, I'd freeze my buns off! You three be careful not to freeze your bun off as well, okay?"
"And we're done here."
Lon'qu suspected that part of his nervousness was caused by being way from home, a suspicion that proved to not be entirely far-fetched once they settled down once more, ready to return to their regular life. Despite the extra mouth to feed, the familiarity of it all helped Lon'qu settle down, calm himself, and grow more ready for his role as a father to an actual child.
He was still scared of failing his offspring (whom Panne agreed to name after his long lost childhood friend Ke'ri,) but once he started actually providing for her, he found it to be much easier than he has imagined. Perhaps, he thought, it wouldn't be so hard to keep her safe after all. It didn't hurt to have a fearsome rabbit woman by his side at all.
It also helped that the adorable child would eventually be able to make that transformation herself.
For my first time ever actually writing Lon'qu or Panne, I had fun and sure hope you think I did them justice. c: