The tests sat piled on a shelf in Piper's bathroom, left over from when Phoebe misread the one that sent them all into a panic, and as a precaution, her sister raced out and purchased several of the type that read, simply, Pregnant, or Not Pregnant.
Phoebe moved out, never using a single one of them, but Piper has. It'd become habitual: once a month, she unwraps another box, reads the instructions carefully as if they'd somehow changed in the last 28 days, follows them exactly, and then waits precisely three minutes, watching the seconds tick by on the old-fashioned clock she'd pounded to the wall for just this purpose.
Fact: She has two beautiful, amazing, exhausting young boys who are the most perfectly unexpected gifts she never could have predicted.
Fact: She has a full life with a time-consuming job, and a new mission to be Super Mom, joining committees, volunteering her time, baking, hosting as many events as she can, striking up new friendships, reviving old ones, doing her best to establish herself in the type of life she'd always wanted to lead, way back before she knew she was a witch.
Fact: She has the most perfect niece in the entire world, a little bitty baby girl named for her, who she can continue to spoil with all the pink dresses and adorable dolls she can get her hands on.
Fact: She has an amazing husband waiting on the other side of this door for her to yell "We're not pregnant, honey," like she has on these mornings for the last six months, and he will hold her in his strong arms, and will love her just as much, even if it always says Not Pregnant, from now until the end of time.
Leo. Even though there's only the slightest chance that this month will be different than the ones that came before, he is still there every time she does this, because for once, he's going to find out about her pregnancy before anyone else, and he's going to hear about it from Piper. She always felt a little bad that Phoebe, even Paige, figured out the meaning behind the Angel of Destiny's cryptic words before she did, and Leo had to find out from her shrieking sisters that he was going to be a father for the first time. With Chris – well, with Chris it was a hundred times worse, also from her sisters, but far, far later than necessary, and the fact that he handled it so well, a thousand times better than she would have if their places could somehow have been reversed, is one of the reasons why she was so willing to give their marriage a chance after that.
Two weeks ago, when they'd gone together to the hospital and Leo held their niece for the first time, Ciera all wrapped in a pink blanket and tiny, snuggled into his arms, Piper couldn't help it: she burst into tears. She played it off like she was crying with happiness, but something hit her, hard. Leo was meant to have a daughter of his own, to spoil and to love and to teach to be sweet and kind and caring and brave and to use her gifts wisely, whatever they may be.
Since her husband's been back and her family has been whole again, she's been so content, focusing on all the good she has in her life, and she's managed to compartmentalize this, so she only thinks about what she wants, what she truly, truly wants, one morning a month. This is the only time she allows herself to consider it: imagining herself, growing rounder again, stealing back all the clothes she's lent Phoebe, dealing with the morning sickness that terrorized each of her first trimesters.
Unlike the last time, or even the first time when he was still working so much, Leo will be there every day of this pregnancy. It will drive her crazy, but only on the surface: she'll know what it cost him, missing out on so much before, and she will do her best not to snipe too much when he's overly solicitous or overly protective or overly adoring.
She will be OK with it. She will be calm and rational and unemotional, and she won't scream at the boys or nag Leo or snap at her sisters because her hormones are out of control. She will go to yoga three times a week, she will faithfully watch her diet and not overindulge on the chocolate peanut butter ice cream she will crave, and she will paint the nursery a nice neutral color, like mint or sunshine.
She lifts up the hard plastic wand from the counter, and barely glances at it. She's so busy steeling herself against the disappointment, already putting it aside and thinking about her day: the club for a couple of hours, where she needs Leo to take a look at the lock on the back door while she confirms Thursday's deliveries, then down to North Beach to meet Henry and Paige for lunch, and finally be back at preschool to pick up the boys at three.
She barely glances down, and she's so busy knowing what she'll see, she at first fails to notice the word Not is missing.
She flips it around, holds it up at different angles, squinting her eyes, looking for the phantom word that has to be there, somewhere. Things are good, too good, and she doesn't deserve this, she doesn't deserve to have her husband back, her boys wonderful and healthy, her sisters safe and loved, and her deepest wish fulfilled. It's too much.
Leo's been watching the clock, too, she suddenly realizes. He slowly opens the door and stands in the doorway with his eyebrows raised.
"Pregnant," she says, holding the plastic stick up toward him.
He lifts her up as she drops the test down on the counter, swinging her around the small space, then kisses her through their laughter. She tastes the joy that echoes her own on his lips, tastes the elation and the satisfaction and the hope they'd both been waiting so desperately for.
"You proposed to me in this bathroom," she says, the memory hitting her suddenly. All that fear, all that apprehension. She barely remembers what it was like to be that woman, the one who couldn't say yes.
"It's a good bathroom," he says, his smile stretching all the way to his green eyes as he grins down at her. "So, should we be calling anyone?"
"Not yet." Her pregnancies have always been immediately shared, and for once, she wants to keep this one between them. Just for awhile. They're all so busy now, anyway – Phoebe and Coop with the new baby, Dad with his remodeling, Paige and Henry preparing to move -- that it's easy to justify. Not that she owes anyone anything, not that they'd hold it against her, but still. The only people she wants to know are way too young to understand, and it'd be too cruel to tell them about a baby sister they won't even meet for months, which would feel like a lifetime to Wyatt and Chris.
For now, it's theirs. Piper and Leo's. Just theirs.