Don't ask me why, but this really reminded me of Lupin and Tonks when I was writing it - probably the man buggering off to self-loathe somewhere and the woman being left to her gestational devices. It's not meant to be happy, but it is meant to be hopeful.

Your Hands Can Heal, Your Hands Can Bruise


The first few weeks are earmarked for optimism, for hope, for celebrating every tiny improvement and staying silent about the pain, the concentration, the shame. The first few months are the same, like fall-coloured trees trying to cling to the leaves of summer. These just happen to be the first few months when they're celebrating every tiny movement in her belly too, so there's more to him than the pain, the concentration, the shame. The joy comes, blossom buds opening early, but the joy recedes, and the leaves fall.


It gets harder. That's what they say, isn't it? 'It has to get worse before it can get better'. 'It's always darkest before the dawn'. If there is a light at the end of this tunnel, it's too far away be captured in lamp or candle, to brighten their bedroom. She keeps her mouth smiling and he keeps his mouth shut, and they still have each other's backs. They still have each other, in the dark of the night. They still have their someone, in the dark of the womb.


Progress begins with a bang, not a whimper, but not the kind of progress he wants, not the kind of progress that puts a scalpel back in his hand and peace back in his heart. Progress is shouting into the pale pretty face she offers when she's too tired to shout back at him. Progress is shouting into the cold, dead centre of the snowstorm, where everything is muffled, swaddled, hidden until spring. Progress is the worst kind of progress, watching something that seemed as strong as a mountain shake, watching it crumble.

/i will find my/i will find my way back/

Tears run down her face, over her cheeks, off her chin, tears she doesn't bother to hide. She sits in a tangle of innocently stirred up bed sheets with her arms wrapped around herself, crying quite calmly and quietly, not asking, not begging, her eyes on him and her expression as smooth and transparent as glass.

"You'll come back to me."

He doesn't reply.

"You will," she insists. "And you'll remember this conversation, so I want you to remember this part especially: I'm not letting you go, I'm letting you wander for a while, and when you go too far, and you want to come home again, you'll find your way back to me. When you're done hating, when you start hurting and want to heal, you can come back. You don't even have to call. Just find your way back to me, and I'll be right here – probably in this same spot." Tears slide and spatter, raindrops over a windowpane.

"Don't wait for me," he says into the sweaters he's packing, not to her.

But she does.