Perfect Panda waited outside his house as he watched the sky. He could see the small cloud car getting closer with each passing moment and the shine of a glowing aura that indicated a magical shield. He and Proud Heart had been married in the Kingdom of Caring two days ago, a short and simple ceremony with some of his friends from the valley in attendance. They had agreed to have it up there since Proud Heart wouldn’t be able to visit for a while once their children were born, which would be any day now.
Proud Heart still refused to use the Rainbow Rescue Beam this far into her pregnancy, even with assurances that it was completely safe, so she was flying down with Sage Heart Bear and Life Heart Unicorn, who had left their twin children Meek and Wild Heart to be looked after by their second child Sweet Heart Pegasus.
Perfect’s anticipation finally paid off when the cloud car landed, the magical barrier that kept the wind and cold out popping like a bubble as it touched down. Proud Heart carefully extricated herself from the cloud car as Perfect almost ran right into her, carefully catching her in an embrace and giving her a big kiss.
“Eager to be at my side again?” Proud Heart giggled.
“Very much so,” Perfect ran his hand over her taut tummy, “And eager for our children to be here as well.”
“That’s why I’m here.” Sage Heart stepped out of the driver’s seat, “I just need you two to show me how expand your house.”
“Yes, thank you.” Perfect nodded and helped Proud Heart into what was now their house as Life Heart opened the trunk of the cloud car and pulled out Proud Heart’s possessions with her magic.
Inside the house, Sage Heart only had to make a few sweeping motions to create a doorway and open up a larger bedroom for the couple and a separate room for their twins, as well as expanding parts of the house to accommodate them. Perfect had several wedding gifts from the villagers which he used to furnish the rooms. Their bed was a thick fur rug set across a raised stone square with similarly fashioned pillows and blankets. The babies’ cribs were hand made out of wood and lined with a similar fur.
Proud Heart took a moment to examine Sage Heart’s handiwork. “It’s purrfect,” she ran her hands across the walls. “No bumps or seams, just smooth stone.”
Sage Heart smiled, “Just ask again if you need renovations on short notice,” Sage Heart turned to see Life Heart bringing in a suitcase and a cardboard box.
“It’s all here. Shall we leave you two alone?” Life Heart asked.
“Yes please.” Proud Heart was about to crouch down to pick up the box when Perfect picked it up for her and set it on a shelf that Sage Heart had created for them.
“Thank you,” Perfect said as the two left them alone and he opened the box. “Your seeds?”
“Yes, mostly stuff you already have down here but I want to create my own garden with you. Oof!” Proud Heart rubbed tummy as the unborn children kicked, “When we can find the time.”
“Perfect! They’re here!” Good Luck Bear all but burst into the house, only stopping when he saw Proud Heart standing there. The green bear had the biggest grin on his face as he picked up, “Polite just gave birth! Our Cubs are here! Twin girls!”
Proud Heart stepped back in shock but smiled as Good Luck and Perfect hugged, “My nieces are here, and my mate!” he let go and gave Proud Heart a big kiss, “I don’t think this day could get any better.”
“Let’s go see them, com’on!” Good Luck turned and bolted out of the house.
Proud Heart smiled and took Perfect’s hand, “We should go see them. After all our children will be cousins.” She rubbed her belly.
Perfect agreed and they set off to Good Luck and Polite’s home.
Big Mama Tantan was there with a couple assistants who were bathing the twin panda girls, one with green and white fur and the other the opposite, black with green fur (save for her white tummy).
Polite seemed to be in bliss as she lay on their bed when Good Luck skidded to a stop then walked in calmly. “Is everything alright?”
“Don’t worry, Lucky,” Big Mama Tantan turned to the green bear, “The babies are very healthy and Polite is doing just fine.”
“Just tired,” she smiled, “it didn’t hurt. Thank you,” she turned to Big Mama Tantan as Perfect and Proud finally arrived.
“I do the same for every mother here.” Big Mama Tantan turned as she heard the two newcomers arrive, “And it seems I will have to do it for you soon too, Proud.”
Proud Heart rubbed her belly, “Yes, but not too soon I hope.” She turned to Good Luck, “So what are their names?”
Good Luck had walked over to where his daughters were sleeping, “The black and green one is Charm Panda and the green and white one is Fortune Panda.”
“We picked names out a few days ago,” Polite seemed to be relaxing rather well despite having just given birth.
“How are you still awake?” Proud Heart asked.
“That’s my secret, a little brew I make for all the new mothers here,” Big Mama Tantan pointed to a small pot where a somewhat thick liquid still sat. “It makes the birth far less painful and helps you recover.”
“Maybe we should get some to Take Care,” Proud Heart giggled, “better than pain, ouch!” Proud Heart suddenly winced in pain bending over for a moment.
“Proud Heart!” Perfect was helping her upright, “What was that?”
“Just a pain, it’s passed,” Proud Heart waved him off and smiled.
“Maybe not,” Big Mama Tantan was at Proud Heart’s side, checking her over, feeling her baby bump and sides. This went on until Proud Heart felt another lance of pain several minutes later. “Looks like you need my help now then, Proud. Here.” She picked up the pot and gave it to Proud Heart, who had her hands on her tummy.
“Now! Right now?!” Proud Heart was shocked.
“Yes, now drink up unless you want it to hurt,” Big Mama Tantan didn’t pull the pot away. Proud Heart took the hint, and the pot in both hands which she downed. She almost gagged at the taste but forced herself to swallow it.
“Uck…” she couldn’t help the noise.
“Better bad flavor now than pain later,” one of the assistants said.
“Let’s get you back home, Polite needs her rest and so will you.” Perfect helped Proud Heart turn around and out the door.
“OK, thank you,” Proud Heart began waddling out the door as fast as she could.
Proud Heart stopped three times on the way back to her new house as more contractions hit. The third and fourth hurt as much as the first two but the fifth one just felt like intense pressure. “I think her brew is working,” Proud Heart commented as she was laid down on a soft blanket in what was going to be their living room.
“Of course, it always works.” Big Mama Tantan and her assistants had followed right behind her and were busy preparing for the birth. “Just relax until I tell you it’s time.”
Proud Heart just nodded and laid back. It was actually nice; she didn’t think she would be able to feel this safe outside of Take Care’s hospital when the time came; she still would have preferred that Take Care was here but Big Mama Tantan was so reassuring that she almost didn’t mind. Part of that was probably whatever she gave her to take the edge off.
Proud Heart shuddered again as she felt a contraction, once again no pain, just pressure. “This isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”
“Just relax, Proud Heart, I’ve seen Big Mama Tantan deliver babies for almost all the villagers,” Perfect took Proud Heart’s hand in his own.
Though there was no pain but the exertion was making Proud Heart sweat. “How long does this brew last?”
“Not as long as it should, that’s why I’m making more,” one of the assistants said. “Should be ready in a moment.”
“Thank you,” Proud Heart lay back and stared at the ceiling.
Hours passed and Proud Heart took two more doses of the pain easing brew as the contractions got closer and closer.
It had become dark outside and torches were lit inside the stone house to allow everyone to see what was going on as Big Mama Tantan checked Proud Heart. “It’s time, now push Proud.”
“Yes. Hnnnnnnnn!” Proud Heart grunted as she began to push. It still didn’t hurt in fact, “It tingles,” Proud Heart panted slightly as she stopped.
“Then the brew is working, just push like she says,” one of the assistants said.
“Yes,” Proud Heart bared her teeth as another contraction hit and she pushed again.
“You’re doing very well, this is going so smoothly, and there!” Proud Heart had pushed harder than she intended and the first child slid out into Big Mama Tantan’s waiting hands: a white and orange female panda bear. A moment later the cord was cut and the baby started to cry as one of the assistants took the cub to bathe it.
“One down, one to go,” Perfect still held on to Proud Heart’s hand.
“Still doesn’t hurt,” Proud Heart smiled, “Big Mama Tantan, can we give this brew recipe to Take Care Bear in the Kingdom of Caring?”
“If you want, but for now focus and push.” The matronly woman kept her eye on Proud Heart.
“Thank you. Hnnnnnnnnngggggg!” Proud Heart pushed once again. “Still tingly,” she panted. “I can do this now.”
“No just wait, don’t wear yourself out. The pain may be gone but the effort is real,” Big Mama Tantan said.
Proud Heart just lay back and waited for the contraction. It came sooner than expected and she pushed as hard as she could, feeling the cub slide out of her into Big Mama Tantan’s waiting arms: a black and orange striped male tabby kitten. Proud Heart just lay back as she listened to her children’s cries as they were cleaned and dried off. But they didn’t stop crying.
Proud Heart sat up and reached out, “Give them here, they’re hungry.”
“How does she know?” one assistant asked.
“Mother’s instincts,” the other assistant smiled as they handed both the panda cub and kitten to Proud Heart.
Proud Heart held the twin to her chest where they latched on and immediately started nursing from her.
“Alright, we’ll leave you two alone, but call if you need help,” Big Mama Tantan said as she and her assistants left.
Proud Heart just lay there as she let her twins feed off her. “So, Perfect did you have any name ideas?”
“Just one,” Perfect stroked the kitten’s head carefully, “How about: Precise Heart Cat?”
“I was going to go with Prince Heart Cat, but I think that would work.” Proud Heart smiled.
“Let me guess, you want to name the girl Princess Panda?” Perfect looked at the orange and white panda.
“Exactly.” Proud Heart nodded.
“That’s just purrrfect,” Perfect chuckled.
Proud Heart rolled her eyes, “No cat puns unless you are a cat,” Proud Heart playfully admonished him. The twins finally finished nursing and Perfect took Precise Heart from his mother and carefully burped the kitten over his shoulder while Proud Heart did the same for Princess.
Proud Heart may not have been in pain but she was too tired to get up so decided to sleep on the living room floor while Perfect took the twins to their cribs.
A couple days later Take Care visited the valet alone, coming on request from all four new parents to give the cubs a check-up.
“I trust the medicine here, but I don’t take chances,” she said as she gave the APGAR test to Proud Heart’s cubs, who were unusually cooperative for only being a few days old.
“I know, and thank you Take Care,” Proud Heart stood by to make sure her children didn’t raise a fuss, “So how are they?”
“As healthy as Good Luck and Polite’s cubs.” Take Care stepped away from the cribs. “Tenderheart said he’d be down to give them their tummy symbols later, after Love-a-Lot’s check up.”
“One more thing,” Perfect entered the room and produced a piece of paper from his tummy symbol, “I had Big Mama Tantan give me the recipe for her ‘birth brew’ as some of the villagers call it.” He passed the paper to Take Care, “It helps them give birth more easily and without pain.”
Take Care checked the page and the ingredients therein, “Did you use this, Proud Heart?”
Proud Heart nodded, “Polite did too. It works trust me.”
“I do. I’ll see if I can make use of it back home.” Take Care folded the paper and put it in her tummy symbol, “I’ll see then again when they’re old enough for their shots.” She quickly took her leave, ready to be back home.
Later that day, Tenderheart did pay a visit and gave all four new cubs their tummy symbols: a charm bracelet for Charm Panda, a rainbow leading to a pot of gold for Fortune Panda, a heart wearing a tiara across the full top for Princess Panda and a heart with a smaller heart inside being picked up by tweezers for Precise Heart Cat.