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Defying Gravity by momoe

Format: Novel
Chapters: 26
Word Count: 122,943
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ginny, Teddy, Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, Victoire, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing, Harry/Ginny, Rose/Scorpius, Teddy/Victoire, James/OC

First Published: 04/26/2008
Last Chapter: 12/20/2009
Last Updated: 12/20/2009


Seventh year Gryffindor Prefect, Albus Potter, and his girlfriend, Nat, have found themselves in an unthinkable situation: expecting a baby.  Murphy's Law applied, the next nine months will be filled with hardships starting with a pretty major one: telling the parents.

Chapter 17: 17..Skip a Beat

Defying Gravity
Chapter 17: Skip a Beat

James, in his rush to find Jennifer, nearly ploughed his mother down as she exited the spare bedroom with a stack of linen napkins in her arms. He spun quickly and caught her around the waist, helping her stand upright.

“James!” Ginny gasped, pressing her free hand to her chest while clutching the napkins tightly to her body. “What the bloody hell is wrong with you?”

“Have you seen Jennifer?” He shifted, antsy, from foot to foot. He had to find her. He had to tell her. James remembered that his parents didn’t know about Jennifer’s most recent diagnosis when his mother’s eyebrows knitted together in concern.

“Is she alright? Did you hear from that special Healer you took her to?” James nodded and looked at the floor as the flood of emotions came roaring back. Ginny could tell that James didn’t love that woman; he was her son! But she had raised him to be caring and compassionate, so she knew that this must be killing him inside.

“Yeah,” James whispered, his head raised and eyes rested on his mother’s brown ones. He felt like a little boy wanting his mummy. “Oh, mum,” he sighed and was tugged into her embrace. She was a lot shorter than him, petite, and he had to bend and manoeuvre just to receive a proper hug from her.

“James, what are you going to do?” Ginny’s tears shone in her eyes. She hadn’t particularly liked the woman, especially knowing that her son wasn’t in love with her either, but that didn’t mean she wished her harm.

“Mum, she’s going to die.” Ginny gasped and took a step back, bringing her hand to her mouth.

“But, there-” Ginny stopped, a sudden single tear fell down her cheek. “But there must be something…they have to do something…we’re wizards for Merlin’s sake! How can there be nothing…”

“Mum.” This time James wrapped his arms around his mother, holding her close as she cried into his chest. Ginny had always been a compassionate person, even though she might not always show it, and truly felt for Jennifer.

It took him ten minutes to send his mum on her way, towards the master bedroom to tell Harry – who had taken off work early complaining of a headache – the news. James took this opportunity to continue his search for Jennifer.

He found her in his childhood room, sitting cross legged on the bed, staring straight at the wall. Well, what did he expect? She just found out she was going to die, after all. Her brownish-blonde hair had been tied up tightly at her head, and her comfy sweats were hanging off her already thin frame.

“Jen,” James whispered, closing the heavy door behind him. Jennifer looked up and James saw the tears shining in her eyes. He sat on the bed next to her.

“Hey,” she whispered when the bed dipped beneath his weight. “Sorry I just ran off. I kind of got freaked.”

He bent his head and kissed her cloth-covered shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her back and pulled her against him. She snuggled into the embrace, and for the second time that night, James allowed a woman to cry against his chest.

Eventually she cried herself to sleep. James laid her against the pillows and covered her with his Gryffindor quilt – it has his initials stitched into the corners. He stood from the bed, careful not to jostle her awake, and crossed to the en suite bathroom. He showered quickly and redressed in his pyjamas.

Walking back into the room, James noticed a mountain of paperwork beckoning from his desk. It seemed his Quidditch contract needed revising – as he was only signed for a partial-season trial period. Also, his solicitor had sent him numerous endorsement deals he need to review.

On the bottom of the stack of parchments he found a folded note with familiar enough scratchy scrawl on the front. He recognized it as soon as he opened the letter. It was from Rose.

“Marauder’s Map, huh?” he shook his head. No way was he going to contribute to the delinquency of a barely-of-age witch. Not again.

James crumpled the letter up into a ball and tossed it in the general direction of the bin. When he turned, he noticed Jennifer’s piercing brown eyes staring back at him. She smiled faintly, and then sat up.

“Hello, sleepy head.”

She pushed the quilt off of her body and scooted to the side of the bed closest to James. She tucked her hands underneath her legs and leaned forward slightly.

“James, we need to talk.”

“Okay,” said James, a hint of confusion in his voice. He’d wanted to talk when he first went up there, but now that it was at her request he wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. He was going to say the wrong thing, he could feel it. The walls were closing in on him. His collar was getting tighter. His mouth was suddenly dry. “I-I dun…” he cleared his throat and swallowed. “A-about what?”

Jennifer fixed him with a look that said, “You know what, dummy!” and then smiled softly at him. He didn’t understand why she was smiling. She was dying. She was about to die and here she was, sitting on his bed all…happy. Okay, a smile doesn’t necessarily mean happy, but it doesn’t mean unhappy.

Then she began staring at him with a funny look and he realized that he’d been stuck in his thoughts for quite some time and she might be getting little worried. “Okay, shoot.”

“James,” she started, reaching out her pale, small hand for him to take. He did, and she guided him to the bed next to her. “In the past month that we’ve been married, you’ve been the best husband a girl could ask for.”

James began to protest and she held up her hand to let her finish. It wasn’t true, though. He hadn’t been a good husband. He hoped that’d he’d be better his second time around and then felt incredibly guilty for thinking that in the presence of a dying person. Nope, can’t think like that either, James.

“Are you quite done?” Jennifer wore the look that she got when she was pissed that she wasn’t the centre of attention, but for some reason it didn’t bother James as much at that moment.

“Sorry,” he muttered and nodded for her to go on.

“Like I said, you’ve been a really great husband,” she continued. “You’ve been attentive, caring; you brought me all the way to England, where I’ve never been. I met your parents. I met Harry Potter,” she said the last part with a little squeal and James was suddenly horrified at the prospect of his wife having a crush on his dad. “But most importantly, James, you made me feel wanted. You made me feel human. You made me feel…alive.”

“Come again?”

“Truth is,” she looked down at her hands, which were clasped together at her fingers in her lap, “I’ve known about the tumour for a long time; that’s why I put off taking a home pregnancy test. I knew I couldn’t be pregnant, that I’ll never have my own kids, but it was nice to pretend for a while.

“I was diagnosed last year. There was nothing they could do for me. The prognosis then was three months tops. So I started doing everything I could. I went skydiving, I swam with dolphins, I played a whole game of Quidditch, I became an exotic dancer…”

“So, you knew when you married me…”

“I knew you didn’t love me, James. I know you don’t love me. And I love you, but not like that. You’re hot, don’t get me wrong, and a fantastic…err, how do you say it here? Shag?” James snorted and nodded slightly.

“But then,” James started after they both laughed at her last comment. “Why did you marry me?”


“Yes please.”

“I wanted to know what it was like to be married, to share your life with someone else. I wanted a European adventure. I like how I feel when I’m around you: no death talk, no white blood cell count…you were real with me, James. For the most part, at least.” Tears welled up in her eyes and James put a hand on her wrist.

“What do we do now?” He wondered aloud. Jennifer reached up and wiped her tears away, stood, and took out her wand.

“I’m going back to Las Vegas,” she whispered. James shot off of the bed.

“No! You can’t die alone, Jen. I may not be the best husband, and I may not be in love with you, but I do love you. I can’t let you go off on your own.”

Jennifer smiled widely and stood on her tip toes to reach him. She pressed a kiss to his lips. “You are so sweet,” she whispered and kissed him one last time.

“Please, Jen, don’t go.” She couldn’t stand to see him beg anymore.

“My parents are there. Well, in Carson City, the capitol of Nevada. My dad’s a Real Estate broker and my mom’s a housewife. I have two sisters, Jessica and Jamie – I know, all ‘J’s right? – And the family cat, Pooky Pumpkin Pie Smith. I won’t be alone, James. It’s time for me to face them.”

For the first time James noticed that all of Jennifer’s things were gone. It made him feel even worse that it took him all this time to even realize it. Now that he thought back on it, none of her makeup or hair potions were in the loo; her clothes were missing from the armoire. How had he missed this?

“You mean your family doesn’t know?” She shook her head, almost afraid to speak. She didn’t know what sound would actually make it out of her mouth. “And you want to tell them? Alone? I’ll go with you, Jennifer! I’ll take care of you, I swear!”

Tears were streaming down her face now, and she did nothing to stop them. “You are such a great man, James Sirius Potter. One day you will make some witch incredibly happy.” She tugged him into an embrace and he wrapped his arms tightly around her.

After a moment of silence, they pulled away and Jennifer bent over to the bed side table. She retrieved the object and took James’s hand, pressing the cold circle into his palm. “I hope I didn’t screw up your life too bad, James. I’m sorry if I did.” She walked to the edge of the room by the door.

She was nearly gone when James opened his palm and saw the glittering diamond of her wedding ring staring back at him. He spun quickly, a snap decision made in his mind, and told her to wait. She did, patiently in the doorway. He crossed to her in two steps, took her hand, and slipped the ring back on her finger.

“Keep it,” he whispered, bringing her left hand to his lips and kissing her ring finger. “It may not have been the most ideal of circumstances, Jen, and Merlin knows it wasn’t perfect. But we both stood up there, Elvis impersonator or not, and we took those vows. And we are husband and wife, till death do us part. Do not let anyone or anything make you think otherwise.”

They hugged again, a crushing embrace. Both were crying, tears of sadness, tears of joy. James couldn’t believe the situation he found himself in. After only a little over a month. First married, then becoming a dad, and now losing a wife.

“What did I do to deserve you, James? Jennifer Smith, exotic dancer –”

“Nope,” James smiled, interrupting her. “Jennifer Smith Potter, wife.”

Then they kissed one final time. She left the house a few minutes later, without saying goodbye to Harry or Ginny. Saying goodbye to James was hard enough; she couldn’t bear to see the pity on their faces. James didn’t look at her like that, not anymore. And she couldn’t have been happier.

James watched Jennifer activate her portkey and disappear in his back yard. He stood and stared at the spot she’d disappeared from for what seemed like hours. Then he heard clomping down the stairs and turned to see his parents in the doorway.

“Where’s Jennifer?” Ginny asked her eyes red rimmed. James felt horrible for that. It was his fault she had cried.

“She’s gone. Jennifer’s gone.”

“Hugo Arthur Weasley!” The voice of Rose Weasley reverberated through the staircase and all the way up to Hugo’s fifth year dorm, so he wasn’t surprised when she burst through the door a few seconds later.

It sure took her long enough to get up there. He’d left her in the common room nearly an hour ago. By the tone of her voice, though, he figured she’d gotten a chance to talk to Nat. If Nat was so adamant that he not tell anyone, why did she go spouting her mouth off the first chance she got?


Hugo sat up from his resting place – lying back on his bed with his head at the foot of the bed and his feet at the head – and turned to glare at Rose as she began shooing his dorm mates. From their own room!

“What the hell, Rose?” Hugo yelled at her once John Preston was out of the room and the room was empty – save for one bed that had a pretty powerful (especially for a fifth year) imperturbable charm surrounding it so whoever was in there wasn’t able to hear Rose’s demands that they leave.

“Why…what…” her face screwed up in anger and it reminded him of their mum. If she didn’t look like she would tear his balls off, he just might have laughed. “What in the world possessed you to kiss Nat? Your cousin’s girlfriend! Who, by the way in case you haven’t gotten the most recent family newsletter, is pregnant! With twins! Al’s twins!”

“I know!” Hugo yelled right back at her, standing and towering over her. Being Rose, though, she didn’t back down. She just stuck her nose in the air to be able to look into his eyes. She saw the defiance and the stubbornness he’d inherited from their father in those pretty blue depths.

“I know, okay?” She said softly, sitting down on his bed. “I’d have been blind not to notice.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Hugo slumped next to her on the bed, Rose bouncing a bit with the added weight.

“You’re in love with her.”

His mind suddenly flashed back to the day Mattie had dumped him. She’d said those exact words too, but with malice rather than Rose’s understanding with a hint of pity.

“You love her more than you’ll ever love me,” Mattie had said with a tense tone, her blood shot eyes standing out against the stark white of her skin. “It’s a shame that you’ll never get the girl.”

“You don’t know that,” he spat back, but it was true. He would never have Nat. She was with Albus, expecting babies. She was going to get her happily ever after.

Mattie had just raised her eyebrows in response, and then held out her hand, palm up, and waited. He’d known that it was going to happen, and when he slid the cold, white gold band off his finger he was almost happy.

“Don’t tell her about your feelings, Hugo,” Mattie warned as he turned for home. “She won’t understand.”

Tell Nat about his feelings for her?

That was exactly what he didn’t want. He didn’t want Nat to know that he’d loved her since his first year and that sometimes when he looked at her and Albus together he couldn’t eat for days because it hurt so much. He didn’t want her to know that when she smiled, his heart swelled and when she cried…he cried.

He just hoped that no one else figured it out. He’d been pretty good at making it all of these years, he thought. Only Rose had figured it out. All Rose had to do was keep her big mouth shut.

“It doesn’t matter,” he finally whispered to his sister. “She can’t be with me. She’s with Him. That’s that. It’s over.”

“Hugo,” she whispered, placing a warm hand on his shoulder. He felt tears filling his eyes and shrugged her hand away. “You need to get over her.”

“What do you think I’ve been trying to do?” he growled back. “I’m sorry that I lost control earlier. I kissed her because I wanted to. Because I never get what I want. I always give, give, give to other people. And I wanted to kiss Nat, so I did. Do I regret it? Hell no. Do I take it back? Hell no. Am I sorry about the circumstances in which said kiss happened? I sure am. But it’s done and there’s nothing I can do to change the past, even if I wanted to, which I don’t. I got what I wanted. Well, partially; my virginity’s still intact.”

“You selfish bastard!” Rose suddenly jumped off the bed and rounded on her brother, her only sibling. “Do you even care what Nat thinks about that? Obviously she was pissed that it happened because she punched you in the face! You know what I think? I don’t think you love her at all. I think because she’s pregnant you see her as an easy lay. You just want to lose your virginity and who better to do it than the loose pregnant chick?”

“That’s a lie!”

The siblings were both on their feet, toe to toe, Rose staring up angrily at Hugo, and Hugo looking down at Rose with equal malice.

“If you cared it wouldn’t have happened! If you knew Nat at all, you’d know that, at the moment, she’s happy as a clam being with Al. If you knew Nat at all, you’d know that, even if the kiss was unwanted – which is WAS – she will feel guilty about it. Guilty for being forced to cheat on her boyfriend, the father of her kids. So guilty that she might stop eating, cutting off the nutrient supply to her babies, who would die, and then what? All that’s on you, Hugo. Congratulations! Now was that one, teeny tiny, insignificant little kiss worth it?”

Hugo didn’t say anything, but looked down in shame. Rose, her job done, slowly turned and walked towards the door. Her hand perched on the knob; she stopped and turned to Hugo.

“Or,” she started softly, “she could just break and tell Albus. And I’m only saying this because mum and dad would hate to lose their only son, but you might not want to be around when Al finds out you kissed his girlfriend.”

Saturday morning brought lots of things for Albus Potter. First of all, it was the best breakfast of the week. Normally during school days breakfast consisted of dry cereal or porridge. But the weekends brought scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, spicy sausages, mountains of toast and plates of kippers. It was one thing that Albus always missed over holiday: his usual Saturday morning breakfast.

He rolled out of bed early, around eight, and took a long, hot shower. He hadn’t had any alcohol to drink the previous night at the party – he was surely in the minority on that one – and the rest of the dorm was still sleeping off their hangovers. Except for Arnie Longbottom, who was suspiciously missing. In fact, now that Albus thought about it, Arnie was gone a lot these days.

Albus had just been too busy to notice.

He grimaced at the thought, rinsing shampoo potion out of his hair. Too busy was right. Busy with school, Nat, Prefect duties…etcetera. He hardly had time to breathe, much less do homework or worry about the whereabouts of his friends.

Ever the dutiful father-to-be, Albus picked up his latest parenting book off his bedside table after dressing in jeans and a maroon jumper and left the dorm, shutting the door softly behind him as to not wake any of his dorm mates.

He didn’t meet anyone in the Common Room and, assuming they were all still asleep so early on a Saturday after such a late night, he continued on by himself down to the Great Hall. The hall was relatively empty, aside from a few Ravenclaws who were making exceptional use of their time by eating their breakfast over their textbooks while reading them. A few crumbs never hurt, right?

Albus made his way to Gryffindor table, narrowing his eyes a bit when he saw Arnie and Lily sitting next to each other, heads bent over a single piece of parchment. He didn’t worry about it too much, however, because Rose and Nat were with them, also.

“’Morning ladies,” he smiled, kissing Nat on the forehead and sliding onto the bench next to her and across from Arnie and Lily.

“Good morning, Love. Sleep well?” Nat smiled faintly at him. She was probably just tired, he reasoned. That was why she looked less than thrilled to see him; looked as if something was bothering her. It had nothing to do with anything. Just the pregnancy.

“You know I haven’t been sleeping as well as I was over holiday,” he flirted, earning a shy smile from the intended. “What are you guys looking at?” He gestured to Arnie and Lily’s parchment with the serving spoon he was using to shovel scrambled eggs onto a plate.

“The list of names for the babies that you and Nat talked about,” Lily replied, not looking up from the parchment. Albus stood and leaned over the table a bit to see the page of names they’d listed with periodic lines eliminating name possibilities.

“Oi! Remember who’s got the final say in that!” Albus bit into a piece of bacon before he realized that Nat was looking at him oddly. “You okay, Love?”

“Just feeling a little bit green around the edges. You know. Morning sickness and such.”

“Book says that should be going away soon, Nel,” he leaned over and kissed her temple, leaving a greasy lip print on her pale skin. He grinned sheepishly and wiped it away.

“I cannot wait,” Nat replied without a pause.

“Athena?” Lily looked up from the parchment. Albus narrowed his eyes at his sister and friend. He could see both of Lily’s hands, but the two were sitting oddly close together and one of Arnie’s was suspiciously missing. The right one to be precise; the hand that should’ve rested on the table next to Lily.

“What’s wrong with Athena?” Rose protested, making her presence known. Albus snorted into his eggs. Athena was Rose’s idea, and one he’d nixed from the beginning. But Nat wanted to keep it on the list so that Rose didn’t feel left out. As if Rose had any say. They were his kids.

“Nothing except for the fact that you have Zeus, Eros, Artemis, Apollo…shall I go on?”

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with those names! They are strong, beautiful names and any child would be lucky to receive them,” Rose’s eyes blazed and Albus thought Lily ought to stop. He was definitely not naming his kids any of those names, but he’d give Rose her peace.

“Yeah, strong and beautiful if you lived in Ancient Greece and wanted to please the Gods. Come on now, Rosie, those are ancient names and should’ve been buried with their predecessors.”

When did his little sister learn such big words?

“That’s st-”

“I think Nat and I agree,” Albus cut in, pushing away his plate just as Emileigh, Bryce, and Kate all showed up, looking equally tired, and slid into the surrounding seats, “that we will not be naming our children after Greek Gods. Sorry, Rosie.”

Rose harrumphed, folding her arms across her chest. “But,” Nat started, trying her best not to roll her eyes and to appease her friend at the same time, “think of it like this: by not naming are children these names, we’re leaving them open for you to name yours!”

“So no Greek Gods in your future,” Bryce said, pouring milk from the pitcher over his Corn Flakes. “Got any other names in mind then?”

“Well, we’ve got a couple that we really like,” Nat looked to Albus for confirmation, who nodded and smiled slightly.

“Don’t you think it’s a little soon to be talking about baby names?” Emileigh cut in, putting a spoonful of yogurt on her plate and then picking up her own spoon. “I mean, you’re what? Three months?”

Nat cleared her throat. “The books we’ve read mention that it’s never too early to start thinking about names. Think about it: the names we choose now, these babies will be stuck with for their entire lives. It’s not something to be taken lightly.”

“Then you end up with a name like Albus Severus.” Albus grabbed her hand underneath the table, “Besides once school and homework picks back up again, not to mention NEWTs this year, we’re not going to have much time to think about it.”

“So what were the names you guys like? Maybe we can help narrow it down even further.” Kate shovelled a spoonful of porridge into her mouth, her brown eyes staring widely at the couple in front of her.

Lily cleared her throat, picked up the list, and held it in front of her. “For girls we’ve got: Abigail, Madison, Chloe, Dakota, Cailyn, Natalie, Delaney, Bianca, and Abrianna.”

“I think Bianca sounds too bitchy,” Emileigh cut in right away, shoving her plate, now free of yogurt, away from her and leaning her elbows on the table.

“I like Delaney and Chloe. Chloe Potter. It’s got a nice ring to it,” Bryce interjected before drinking half a goblet of orange juice in two gulps.

“Have you decided to go with Potter, then?” Kate’s eyebrows rose, her eyes trained on Nat. The group of students all turned to look at the couple at this.

“Of course it’ll be Potter,” Nat replied smoothly. With a toothy grin she added, “Come on. Do you think I’d actually want their last name to be Long? With my family’s history? No thank you. I don’t even want my own last name to be Long.” Her mouth snapped shut at this and she turned to look apologetically at Albus.

“I think that was a clue, mate,” Bryce chuckled at his friend.

“I’m sorry,” Nat spoke low so only Albus could hear her. In response, he squeezed her knee under the table and then turned to Lily. “What’ve we got for boys?”

“Um, err, right. Ah hah, for boys you’ve narrowed it down to: Gabriel, Elijah, David, Tristan, Dylan, Holden, Micah, Matthew, and Benjamin.”

“You forgot Albus Junior,” Bryce teased.

“You certainly have opinions about everything today, don’t you?” Emileigh joked, and Bryce shrugged.

“I’ve got two sisters and a brother. I helped choose their names.”

Oh yes, Albus remembered. The triplets from Oliver Wood’s second marriage. Oliver had divorced Bryce’s mum when Bryce was only three and remarried during his fourth year. The triplets (Macy, Madena, and Macon) were born the past summer after Lainey Wood had undergone many fertilization treatments.

“Well, I like David Potter. It has a nice ring to it. Or Benjamin. Of course, if it’s a boy and a girl, you could name the boy Albus Severus Potter Junior.” Lily laughed. Albus let out a bark of sarcastic laughter.

“Hell no! I would never curse such a retched name on another human being, much less my own flesh and blood.”

“I like your name,” Nat told him honestly. “It’s unique. Not like Natalya.”

“So you want our kids’ names to be unique?” Albus asked, and the rest of the group realized that the open forum was now closed.

“It’d be nice,” Nat shrugged.

“Okay,” Albus conceded and Nat kissed him softly. “Unique it is. That pretty much eliminates David and Benjamin, Lil. Sorry.”

“S’okay. Guess I’ll just have to wait to have a little one of my own,” she patted her stomach playfully, but Albus suddenly felt protective.

“You’d better be waiting a long while, Lily Pad. I don’t think mum and dad could handle the stress.”

“Don’t worry, Al. I plan on being married before I have kids. No offense,” she added when she saw Nat’s eyes briefly get darker. That hormonal woman could be scary sometimes.

Breakfast came to an end with a flourish of owls overhead. The post coming was a sign to finish off your plates and quick because they would be disappearing soon. Bryce, Kate, and Arnie all got letters or packages from various owls, as well as Rose. Then, as some owls were heading off to the owlery, one final tawny brown owl swooped in, a large package grasped in its talons.

The owl plopped the package down on the table between Albus and Nat. Albus had known right away that the owl was Seabrain, his family owl (don’t ask him about the name, it was Lily and James being immature and his mother’s form of compromise). What he didn’t know was what in the world his parents would be sending him – them – that would need that big of a box.

“It’s addressed to both of us,” Nat told him, reading the top of the box that was tied shut with twine. There was a letter creeping out. Nat pulled it the rest of the way from the box, unfolded it, smoothed it between them, and ran her eyes down the full page of his mum’s messy scrawl.

“It seems your mum and aunt Hermione want us to pick stuff out now so that when it comes time for exams we aren’t so bogged down with this stuff,” Nat told him after reading the note.

Albus had already opened the box. There must’ve been a catalogue from every baby store in Britain, muggle and magical. How were they going to find time to go through all of them with school and Prefect duties and…

“I’m almost done with my Potions essay. Do you want to get started on these tonight?” Nat looked so excited, like she was itching to pick out baby furniture and clothes from the retched catalogues.

“I’ve got rounds tonight. But you and Rose should get started on these, anyway. Just narrow it down and we can choose from there, okay?”

Nat nodded as if she hadn’t even heard him and continued to stare into the box full of booklets.

He felt guilty for lying to her, but it was the only way to make sure everyone stayed happy.

A/N: Edited for content 12/16/08