by Molly Raesly
"What's the good of news if you haven't a sister to share it?" ~Jenny DeVries
"Mmnrphm," I groaned as I felt a nudge in my back between my shoulder blades. My back muscles contorting in response, I rolled over to avoid the contact.
I closed my eyes as I focused on drifting back to sleep the way a log floated down a barely rippling river.
I felt my alerted muscles start to relax back into submission. Despite the outside chill of November weather, my pillow smelled like the sweet perfume of summer flowers in warm, thick air, and I dimly recalled the image of white tents with twinkling lights.
"Lily," a voice coaxed. A wet, hot mouth caressed my ear as I drowsily registered my name being repeated. I tuned it out like static from the radio as my eyelids grew heavier and heavier with sleep.
I moaned softly and rolled over so that my body was lying sideways across the expanse of the king-sized bed. Every part of my belly felt ensconced by accommodating mattress. I was sleeping on a marshmallow.
"C'mon, Lily," the voice urged me. More fingers stroked my forehead and my hair.
Part of the very back of my brain told me to grab my wand from my bedside table and attack the intruder, but I hushed the little Moody inside of me into silence. The voice was familiar, and the hands were loving.
My consciousness slowly started to rouse. I heard a few muffled footsteps in the dark and one "oww, my toe" before the sound of the springs in mattress cried and the bedframe groaned in protest.
I shifted over to my side on the right to avoid the advancing figure, but moments later I felt warm arms encroach around my torso to envelop me into a hug like I was a Lily-shaped piece of parchment.
I moaned softly in response as I snuggled my sleeping face into the crook of his neck.
"Lily," James hummed with a sigh.
I felt his hands move up the sides of my extremely worn t-shirt, exposing skin to the dark room, before they settled at the base of my throat. "I'm home," he told me before kissing my lips.
I had been about to open my eyes, but they stayed closed as I hooked my hand into his hair and pulled him in for another sloppy, wet kiss. My mouth moved slowly as I tried to slowly rouse my tired brain until synapses started firing in all the right ways, and my body was pushed as close to his as possible.
Breathing a little heavy, James pulled away from me.
I inched closer to him to regain the warmth and to smell the familiar scent of grass and cinders against his bare chest.
James kissed the top of my head before he leaned us both back into the sheets, stealing the fabric from me to cover his long legs.
"What time is it?" I asked blearily, dreading the answer.
"Late," he mumbled as he took off his glasses and placed it and his wand on his nightstand. "Past four."
I groaned. "I have to get up in two hours," I realized in tone filled with as much abhorrence as I could muster at the hour.
"Damn Moody for making us work separate shifts."
My mind flashed with images of Moody finding James and me letting off some steam in an unused office after the final exams for the Auror Academy were completed last spring. The subsequent punishments of that were severe, but nothing compared to the dreadfulness of rarely getting to see my husband.
I sat up slowly, despite the screaming protests of my motor functions.
"What are you doing?" James asked me groggily. His arm moved across my navel as he attempted to pin me to the spot. "Stay," he pleaded as he rested his head on my chest.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him forward so that he was almost sitting.
Next, I reached over to my nightstand and floundered my fingers over what felt like my latest book and a telephone before I grabbed my wand. I murmured an incantation, and a small light appeared from the tip of my wand. I maneuvered it so that I could see James's face.
I ran my fingers along the fresh cut on his left cheek.
James bit back a hiss of pain. "Little late on the dodge," he said. "We were on the raid in Newcastle where Bellatrix was rumored to be along with some of the other Death Eaters. She wasn't feeling particularly friendly."
I traced my finger slowly along the bleeding area. "Be more careful," I told him before I healed the scrape with my wand. "It takes too long to find more Jameses in the world."
"Yes, dear," James sighed.
I inspected the healed skin, and once I spotted no scarring, I gently pulled his chin down so that I could kiss it.
He hummed as I ran my fingers along the purple bags under his eyes.
"You should sleep. You look awful."
James laughed weakly before he pulled me into his bare chest. He put his lips on my throat and inhaled. "Not just yet," he whispered across my skin.
I squirmed in our burgundy sheets as his hit breath hit my neck. I shifted so that I could see his sleepy hazel eyes without the protection of his wire-rimmed glasses. He could barely keep them open, but the dim light cast by my wand let me glimpse his green and gold familiar irises.
James ran a hand through my long, red hair that I had not had time to get trimmed since before our wedding. He squinted so that he could see me, both in the dark and without his old man prescription lenses.
"Moody reckons we've got them on the run. Not to mention what we've been doing for Dumbledore on the side."
I snorted. "Sounds dirty."
James chuckled lazily.
"Wasn't that funny," l I announced as the pads of my fingertips traced the familiar scar on his chest.
"But I am that tired."
I hummed in agreement. I was exhausted, as well. Being a full-fledged Auror was much more arduous than I had expected it to be back in my seventh year at Hogwarts. With Voldemort still on the rise and Death Eaters causing mayhem every which way, our department was splitting at the seams trying to just to tread through it all. Everyone was putting in ridiculous hours to try to stay on top of everything, and yet, not a day went by when something horrible hadn't happened. Some days it was innocent people we had failed to protect. Some days it was one of our own.
With everything shattering around me, I was completely run down lately as I tried to pick up the pieces and glue them into some sort of life.
"What'd you do during your hours off?" he asked me as he stifled a yawn.
"Slept mostly," I answered truthfully. "But I went out to lunch with Hest."
"How's London looking since the attack?"
"Not good," I answered, purposefully glossing over the lack of shoppers and scared shop owners.
I felt his arms tighten around me protectively.
"I was careful though, promise."
"How's she dealing with the breakup?"
I sighed. "Better. She didn't cry this time, but she had on another new pair of pumps. You know how she likes to shop when she's miserable. She's coping. Says she'll move on and date other, more deserving blokes. Though, I don't think this break up will last any longer than the last one did."
James hummed reflectively as he flicked his hair back and forth. "Sirius seemed pretty serious about it, though. Seems to think this time it's for good."
I laughed as though he had just finished a hysterical comedy routine. "Serious Sirius," I chirped through chortles.
"You are sleepy, my Lily."
I struggled stubbornly to keep my lazy eyelids open. "And then my mum called."
"How're your parents?"
My fingertips began their soothing circles across his chest once more. I knew talking about parents was hard for him since the attack. "Good," I answered delicately. "Mum's getting ready for a little play her kids are putting on."
"Did your dad get that Quidditch Weekly I sent him?"
"He says 'thank you.'"
James hummed in response.
"Mum wants you to take a day off to visit her."
"Were you included in this offer?"
I snorted. "After a fashion."
James grinned and kissed my temple as he pulled me into his arms.
I took a deep breath as I prepared myself to reveal the last bit of information.
"She gave me an update on Tun-Petunia," I said finally. It stung to just say her name. I hadn't spoken to her in years, with the exception of a Christmas card two years ago picturing her and Vernon on some island with fruity drinks in hand and snobbish smirks on their faces. Yet, not a day went by when I didn't think about her. It happened in odd places. I'd see someone on the street wearing a skirt I'd know she'd hate or I'd pass by the hummus display in the grocery store. At first, just seeing someone rubbing their arm made me want to cry. I was getting better, though, with time. Now I would just freeze for a moment, sigh sadly, and then continue on with my life.
"Oh?" His voice piqued at the end, giving away his obvious attempt at sounding casual. "Anything of interest?"
James sat up as quickly, as though he had been hit with a stunning charm to the chest. "Really?" All traces of sleep were gone from his voice.
"Really," I replied as I propped myself up against my pillow.
"Is it a human child?"
I shrugged. "I hope it comes out with a mustache."
James laughed. "What did you say to that?"
I shrugged once more. "I really didn't know what to say. I've never seen Petunia as a mother. She always hated playing with baby dolls. I guess I'm happy for her."
"As long as it resembles your side of the family."
"And deprive Vernon of a miniature whale?" I quipped, allowing myself to sink back into immaturity for old times' sake.
James reached over to ruffle my hair. "I can't believe it."
"Me either," I agreed. "Petunia's going to get so fat."
The last time I had seen my sister since she was packing up her stuff and getting ready to move out of the house after her honeymoon. Ever the subtle one, Mum had been feeding me information about her during our phone calls. I knew that she desperately wanted us to reunite as a family, but it was as unlikely as the sun and the moon sharing the sky. I had made my choice.
James shifted uncomfortably. "You didn't say anything about us, did you?" he asked accusingly.
"Like what?" I asked.
"Like make up a lie saying that you were pregnant, too, to keep up with what they're doing?"
I laughed lightly. "James, I'm not seventeen anymore. I don't need to make up big, extravagant lies to compete with my big sister."
He grinned apologetically at me. "I know," he backpedaled as he tugged at his hair. "I just wanted to make sure. We have been known to do very stupid things in the past."
James slipped underneath the covers and assertively grabbed my right leg as he started to kiss his way up my calf. His callused hands deftly pulled my knees apart. "Just in case I needed to assist you in the lie," he added amusedly as his lips rose precariously high so that I could feel the stubble on his face on my inner thigh.
My eyes fluttered close as his hands roamed up the old scarlet Quidditch jersey, bringing it upwards to reveal my knickers.
"Mmm," I sighed as I stretched my arms above my head and onto my pillow.
"You know, in case I had to offer my husbandly services," he continued as he nipped my skin teasingly.
I shrieked and pulled his face towards mine. I kissed him fully as his tongue met mine, and he trapped my upper body by bracing his hands against the mattress.
I sifted my fingers through his hair as one of his hands roamed up and the other went down.
He flipped us over so that I was lying on top of him.
"You're not saying anything," he said huskily as we broke apart to breathe. His hand reached up to remove the strand of hair blocking my eyes.
I pressed my hands against his chest, but he rolled over so that my back was against the mattress once more. I sighed and let him guide my legs around his waist to clasp against the elastic of his boxers.
His back arched above me. "We could fool them real easily," he promised silkily into my ear.
I kissed him as I untangled myself from around him as our lips slowed. "That's not really the issue."
"Why?" he asked as he started kissing up my earlobe. "I think it might prove to be extremely," he paused as his hands started to roam underneath my t-shirt once more. "Extremely satifsfying."
I concentrated on remembering how to speak for a moment before I began. "Well, I'd like to think that I've outgrown lying to prove a point to my sister."
"Growth," he commented distractedly as he continued to kiss me purposefully.
I felt his lips curl into a smile against my skin, and I grinned automatically in response. "And there was no need to lie," I said before taking a deep breath. I bit my lip and shut my eyes tightly. "Because I am pregnant."
James froze with my bottom lip still in his mouth. "What?" he asked.
I squeezed my eyelids together. "I'm pregnant," I repeated anxiously as I felt my heart sink into my spleen.
James sat up in the bed. He turned on a nearby lamp and shoved his glasses onto his face before turning to me with an inscrutable expression. "You're pregnant?"
"Yes." I tried to decipher the unfathomable look, but his hazel eyes left me stupefied.
I grinned nervously. "You know how."
He ruffled his hair furiously. "Well, obviously," he added, smirking a little despite himself. "But we were always so careful with contraceptive spells."
I sighed. "Remember that time about three weeks ago when we had just come home after a raid?"
He grinned as he recalled that night.
"Yeah," I said obviously.
"So you're pregnant," he said.
"I'm pregnant. Healer confirmed and everything."
"You went to a healer without me?" James asked with concern as he caressed my cheek with his thumb. "Why didn't you say anything?"
I shrugged. "I thought it was just the flu. I never thought it'd be-"
"A baby," James finished for me. He ducked his head and took a deep breath, and I bit my lip as I waited for what seemed like a lifetime to see his expression.
James was smiling. "We're going to have a baby," he announced reverently.
"A baby," he repeated for emphasis.
"I know," I said hesitantly. "Are you okay with this?"
He rolled his eyes. "You are the dimmest, most ridiculous, most wonderful person in my world," he told me.
I exhaled in relief.
James let out a hoarse cheer before he grabbed the back of my neck and kissed me triumphantly. He lifted up my shirt and then planted feather-light kisses along my stomach. He hummed along my heated skin. "There's a baby in here. Our baby."
"Yeah," I replied, unable to suppress my joyous laughter.
It took us almost thirty minutes to calm back down.
I rested my head against James's shoulder and we interlocked our ringed hands before we both settled down for some much needed sleep.
James kissed my temple and exhaled sweetly, my body rising and falling against his chest. "I love you so much."
I hummed contentedly as my eyes started to close.
Somewhere far away, Petunia was probably in a similar position, a baby dreaming inside her belly, as well.
My free hand rested on my stomach as I listened to the sound of James's heartbeat against my ear.
I was going to be a mother.
Thank you for reading.