It’s the 1950s and a time for maternity homes. I’m not giving this a place and leaving that open to interpretation. Maybe it’s in the U.S. or London or someplace else. Inspired by Call the Midwife, an episode of the Dolly Parton series, and Virgin River, among other stories. Yuuri had a short marriage before his mate, Dr. Sueng-gil Lee, died suddenly from the illness he was treating. Yuuri miscarried due to stress shortly after. It was Minako who helped him to find purpose, training him as a midwife. Yuuri took his inheritance from his mate and put it to good, something he knew his mate would approve of. Honoring the alpha’s memory, he opened the maternity home to provide a place for omegas that found themselves without a place.
Yuuri washed his hands. It had been a bad pregnancy from the start. The baby tucked away in Yuuri’s bag, wrapped in a blanket, never taking a breath of air. Yuuri’s heart hurt. He knew where the omega was at, even as he watched him curl up on his side, tears sliding down his cheek.
“Just a little more, Viktor. Then the last of them will be gone.”
“I...still remember them, how they touched me, the way they pushed in on me. But...I didn’t hate her. I just...I knew I couldn’t love her.”
The midwife knew. The way male omegas were treated as if they were born to be whores in a world that failed to value their intelligence...this was something Yuuri knew. He’d fought hard after his mate passed on to get his foothold into the world. And now, his home provided a landing place for other omegas lost in the world.
“I don’t know where to go.”
“No one is putting you out. This is a safe place.” Yuuri remembered when Victor stumbled into his front door, his hair all stringy, the streets hard on him. He needed help and Yuuri was relentless when it came to helping other omegas. Perhaps it was a bit of his own mother in him. Or his strong sister. His teacher Minako who showed him the beauty of childbirth even as his own baby slipped away from him. It was Minako who took a broken, eighteen-year-old omega and trained him to stand on his own two feet.
“There is no baby,” Victor argued.
Yuuri smoothed his hair. “The baby was never the reason for my door to open to you. This became your home because you need to be here. That hasn’t changed.”
Victor’s sniffed but then he felt the quickening of the afterbirth. “W-why?”
“Because this is nature’s way of cleansing our body and making us whole again. Just let it go.”
Yuuri guided Victor to finish this omega’s work. “There you go. You are doing well. You’re amazing. I’ve got you.” And the business was cleared away without Victor even seeing it, another nurse taking it and the baby. “Now let’s get you cleaned up and into your cozy bed.”
Victor stared out the window, the yellows and greens that permeated the room should be cheery. The omega felt anything but cheery. He felt hollow, the emptiness inside growing. A soft knock on the door admitted the midwife.
“How are you?” Yuuri asked softly.
Victor shrugged. He hadn’t lived at the maternity home long. He managed to hide the pregnancy from the boarding house matron until the last minute, the beta quick to throw him out on the streets “like the whore that he was.” He didn’t know where to go. He had nothing. He had no one. He carried his small bag of belongings until he reached the church. The cathedral housed him for the night and the priest referred him to the nuns at Nonnotus House leading him to Yuuri. The midwife even came to pick him up. With no judgment, Yuuri brought him home and helped him settle in.
The maternity home had an entire wing dedicated to residents. Some of them were waiting for their babies, some learning to care for their babies, some trying to find their feet after giving their babies away. And then there was Victor. He ached for the child he lost. She was going to be someone in the world to love him. He didn’t care how she came about, she was his...and Victor had no one. Not for a long time.
And now there was Yuuri, checking to make sure he was healing after giving birth. He settled Victor and remained, quiet, thoughtful, looking for his words. “I don’t know how you came to us, what path led you here. I do know...I’ve lost my child. That’s a wound that doesn’t heal easily. And you’ve indicated you don’t have a place, a person to look out for you. Why don’t you stay?”
“It’s so hard,” Victor breathed, thinking of all of those babies...babies that weren’t his. But what choice did he have? “What would I even do?”
“I...need help. This whole house falls apart when I’m not looking. I need someone that I can lean on.”
“I don’t have any kind of training.”
“I will see to your training, if that’s what you want. But there is more to this house than midwifery.”
Yuuri smiled and shrugged. “Call it a feeling. I just think...this would be a good place for you.”
“Does it include a room?”
“If you don’t mind sharing...I live on another wing. You would have your own room and then there is a shared sitting room. But then...there’s this whole house.”
Victor considered the offer then nodded. “Okay.”
That evening, the Russian omega gathered his meager belongings and followed Yuuri down the hall and into the opposite wing. Yuuri opened a door and Victor’s eyes widened at the homey space. A pot bellied stove warmed up the corner, a pot of water with bits of fruit and spices simmering and releasing their scent in the room.
“Oh, this smells nice.”
Yuuri hummed thoughtfully, walking over to the picture of his deceased mate. “He smelled like apples. He said my cinnamon mingled well with his scent.”
“Were you together long?”
“I met him when I was sixteen. He was a new doctor trying to talk my mentor into becoming his nurse. I don’t think he expected me. Our town nurse gave dance lessons on the side. And...he was taken with me...talking to my parents about marriage. I didn’t really have any prospects in the country so...I agreed.”
“You were sixteen?” Victor asked, now realizing the omega before him was very young. “How old are you now?”
“Twenty-seven. I was widowed by eighteen and trained as a midwife over the next two years. And now I’m here with Nurse Phichit and Nurse Minako. Dr. Celestino is on call as needed.”
“Minako was your teacher?”
“Yes...when she learned what I wanted to do, she joined me.”
“So...what would I do?”
“Whatever needs to be done. You’ll find your place. Don’t worry.”
“You said...you lost a child?”
Yuuri nodded, his expression sad. “Not too long after losing my husband. They said it was the stress.”
“I’m sorry.” He looked towards the window, the lacey curtains waving from the breeze coming through the window. “I...was forced.”
Yuuri put a kettle on and waited for Victor to continue. This was his story and he chose when and if he wanted to tell it.
“I had been out with friends but we were separated and then I was surrounded. There had been this one alpha. He...he had been flirting with me all evening and I admit, I flirted back. But I...I didn’t agree to this. Two of them held me down while he forced himself on me.” He sniffed back his tears, refusing to let them take root. “My friends found me and tried to get me to medical care. I could...feel the doctor’s judgment. So...when I started showing signs, I hid it.” He blinked his eyes before looking up at Yuuri. “Is that why my baby died?”
Yuuri now had a cup of tea prepared and handed it over to Victor before taking up his own cup. “There are many causes for infant mortality. You could have been injured during the rape.” He shook his head, feeling anger rise up in him. “To think you were put out on the streets.” He shook his head, feeling the anger go through him. “That’s why this place exists. So many...too many omegas out there with no place to go. Do you see why you belong here?”
“What makes me different from the others?”
Yuuri shrugged, a soft smile on his lips. “I can’t really say...but I know. You have a purpose here in this place.”
Victor looked around the room that was now his home. The bed held a hand-stitched quilt. The window had more of those lacy curtains. You seem to like lace, Yuuri. A chair sat in the corner with a couple of handmade dolls. One was a rabbit with long legs and arms and ears made out of unbleached muslin and wearing a dress of gingham and lace. He reached for it, gathering it to his heart.
I miss the feeling of home. Maybe...I can start again here.