The door to Maple Grove Manor opened as soon as Dru and Josh knocked on the door, as if those inside were eagerly awaiting their arrival. Jon greeted the pair with a wide grin and stepped forward to wrap his arms around his baby sister in a warm hug.
"Welcome home, Dru. We've missed you!"
Startled by the quick response, Dru couldn't help but laugh as her older brother pulled her into a warm hug, unsurprised to see Vicki lurking behind him, waiting to pounce on Josh the moment she could.
And pounce she did, 5'6" of cheerful redhead throwing her arms around Josh and planting a big kiss on his cheek. "Good grief, you're frozen! Come inside, both of you!"
"We only just got out of the car!" Josh pointed out with a chuckle as Jon and Vicki pulled him and Dru inside. It was cold out, but they hadn't really had much time to freeze just yet. He waited for the inevitable stampede of children that never came and looked a little puzzled. "Where are the troops?"
"Three at school, twins with Dani," Vicki told him in amusement. "We didn't think you would particularly want to be overwhelmed with children right from the get-go. They'll have plenty of time to crawl all over you in the next couple of weeks."
Smiling, Dru pulled back from Jon, undoing her coat as she did so. "Where's Humphrey?"
"In the study," Jon replied, moving to help Dru with her coat, beating Josh to it. "He's, uh ..." Jon frowned. "He isn't getting around so well these days."
"Is he okay?" Josh asked as he shrugged off his own coat, a concerned frown on his face.
"Winter always slows him down," Vicki said with a gentle smile, helping Josh with his coat. "Arthritis and cold do not get on. And he would never admit it, but he needs his afternoon nap in the study."
"So we should wait a while before we go and say hello to him?" Dru asked, smiling gratefully at Jon as he took her coat, wrapping her cardigan warm about her by-now quite prominent bump.
"That's probably a good idea," Jon replied, smiling as he got a look at Dru's bump. "Well, look at you. That baby looks like it's ready to pop any day now," he teased. "Boy or girl, or aren't we telling?"
"According to the doctor, we still have a month to go," Dru managed with a rueful smile, glancing over at Josh fondly. "We decided to be surprised. And that way, Jamie won't slip up and let it out of the bag before time."
"Is he liable to do that?" Jon asked, only having met Josh's older brother a few times and not knowing him very well. He took Josh's coat from Vicki and turned to hang them both in the closet.
"Let's just say, my brother has a hard time keeping a secret," Josh replied. "Hey, Vicki, how are you?" he asked, finally getting a chance to give his sister-in-law a proper greeting.
"Genuinely excited to see you two!" was Vicki's exuberant response. "Come on upstairs, I'll put the kettle on and we can have a comfy chat." She gestured for them to follow her, claiming Josh's hand to pull him up at her side.
Cosmo was nowhere to be seen or heard, apparently busy keeping Humphrey company in the study. It was a good time to visit, as the house was pretty quiet this time of day.
"After you," Jon said, ushering the pair on ahead of him.
"We were going to visit Des and Piper as well, but Lena said something about them going on vacation tomorrow?" Dru said as they walked up the stairs. "It didn't seem fair to just show up the day before they're gone for a week."
"How long are you planning on staying in Rhy'Din?" Jon asked, taking up the rear as the foursome made their way up the stairs.
"A few weeks," Josh replied. "We're supposed to be back before the baby is due to be born," he explained.
"Well, so long as the baby doesn't make a surprise appearance, you should have time to see them when they get back."
"We've got about thirty-three days until the due date, so I'd say we'll be here at least three weeks," Dru predicted. "We need this break before everything gets so much more hectic with a baby around."
"But you'll have help, right?" Jon asked, taking his time going up the stairs so as not to rush his very-pregnant baby sister.
"To a degree," Josh replied. After all, they didn't want someone else raising their child for them.
"I'm not giving our son or daughter to a wet-nurse and then not see them until they turn five," Dru pointed out. Just from her tone, it seemed she and Josh had already won this battle back in Tirisano. "They're just going to have to handle having a ... a queen who actually likes her family." That queen did not come out easily.
"Wait ... queen?" Jon echoed, coming to a halt near the top of the stairs. "Is your uncle really going to step down?" he asked. Or whatever the proper term was for a regent stepping down once a monarch was of age to take over the throne.
Dru sighed, nodding. "He hasn't really recovered from his stroke, although we've been keeping it quiet," she explained. "He'll abdicate, probably by the end of the year, and Parliament has voted to make Tirisano a kingdom, rather than a principality. So instead of the Princess, I'll be ... Queen."