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The pain started low in his stomach, quite near the base of his spine. Then they crawled - no clawed - their way upwards, digging painful little niches into each and every one of his ribs and burrowing deep. He could feel his sides bruising and he emitted a low groan, wrapping his arms around his stomach.

“Lily!” James shouted as another way of hunger pangs racked through his body.

When the redhead in question didn’t immediately respond to the raw pain, the fierce hurt in his voice, James frowned. What could she possibly be doing that was more important than his starvation?

Groaning, James rolled onto his stomach, one of the many throw pillows he loathed all but suffocating him. “Lily!” he called again, his voice severely muffled by the pillow. He hated the damn things. Every single one of them. They were usual and worse yet, they were going to be his death.

He lay there prone on the sofa, feeling like his body was going to start eating him from the inside out at any given moment. He shifted slightly, the metal edge of his glasses digging uncomfortably into the side of his face.

“Lily!”

“WHAT?” came his wife’s irritated voice from their bedroom down the hall.

Flipping onto his back, James blew the few strands of thick black fringe out of his eyes and stared up at the ceiling, feeling every bit as miserable as he sounded. “Could you hurry it up in there? I’m dying!”

He didn’t have to be in the same room with Lily to know that she was rolling her eyes and, probably, praying to whatever deity would listen to give her the strength not to march into the living room and pummel him. Silently, James hoped one of them listened; she packed a mean punch.

“Shut up, James. You’re not dying.”

“How do you know I‘m not? You‘re not out here, holding my hand as I suffer.”

She didn’t answer him, just as he suspected she wouldn’t. She tended to ignore him when he was being ridiculous, which was a decent majority of the time.

His stomach growled, a low and long sound, and he heaved an almighty sigh. Twisting as best as he could in his awkward position, James attempted to look down the narrow hall to see if his wife had left their bedroom. “How much longer are you going to be?”

“I don’t know? A while!”

That was enough to get him sitting up. He narrowed his eyes down at the hall and at their bedroom door, which stood open. “But we have reservations for eight o’clock! And it is now…” he trailed off, shaking back his sleeve to glance at his watch. His eyebrows rose at the time. “It’s seven thirty two.”

Something slammed shut in the bedroom. Lily’s head poked round the corner a few seconds later. From where he sat on the sofa, James could see that she still wasn‘t dressed. “So?”

“So?” he repeated, giving her an incredulous look. “So? At this rate, we’re never going to make it on time.”

“Then we’re not going to make it on time, James,” reasoned Lily, attempting to sound nonchalant about it. She shrugged her shoulders. “We can always go somewhere else; I’m not picky.”

James frowned. It was clear to see that there was something (other than him, of course) bothering her. Lily might have thought she was being discreet and hiding her anxiety from him, but he knew his wife better than he knew the back of his hand. It was in her eyes - her eyes always gave her away. However, before he could say anything, she gave him a small, tight smile and disappeared into the bedroom.

He didn’t like knowing that Lily was upset. It was almost as bad as seeing the actual tears fall, of feeling the brunt of her harsh words as they argued over something trivial. Licking his lips, James rose from the sofa and walked down the length of the short, narrow hall, stopping to lean in the doorway of their bedroom.

Lily was standing in front of the wardrobe in one of his old tee shirts and her knickers, rummaging through the clothes. There was already a hefty pile of cast-offs strewn across their unmade bed as well as the floor, and still, she continued to toss garments to the floor, but not after considering them for a few moments.

He folded his arms over his chest. “What’s wrong?” he asked, abandoning all pretences.

“I can’t find anything to wear,” Lily answered without turning around. She was entirely too focussed on the wardrobe to even spare him a glance - or at least, she pretended to be. There was something off about the way she stood, with her shoulders all tense and left foot hovering slightly off the ground.

James cleared his throat and repeated his question.

This time, she twisted round to look at him, flashing a poorly constructed smile. “I told you. I can’t find anything to wear.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Lily scoffed, cocking her hip and settling a hand on it, causing her shirt to ride up. “Why not? If I tell you I don’t have anything to wear, then I don’t have anything to wear. Why would I lie about that?”

James’ eyes roved over her face, ignoring the somewhat hostile stance she assumed and the small sliver of her exposed stomach. He searched the set of her lips, the clench of her jaw, and the narrowness of her eyes until he finally found what he was looking for. Despite himself, he smiled. “You’re flustered.”

“Of course I’m flustered, you prat. You won’t leave me alone!”

He ignored her less than pleased. “Yeah, but you’ve got more of a pink tinge to your cheeks than a red one.” Upon her questioning look, he added, “Your cheeks only get pink when you’re lying about something or when you want me to do that one thing -”

“All right!” Lily exclaimed, all but throwing her hands up in exasperation. “You win. I’m lying.” She raked her fingers through her hair, which hung about her shoulders in limp curls. Even if she found something suitable to wear, there was no way they were going to make their dinner reservation. “Are you happy?”

“Happy?” James parroted, sounding oddly offended. “Why would I be happy that you’re upset - and lying to me, for that matter?”

When he saw the tight line of her shoulders weaken and hunch forwards ever so slightly, he frowned once more. Unfolding his arms, he crossed the room to stand in front of his obviously distraught wife and opened his arms to her. Lily launched herself into them and began to cry almost immediately.

“Oh James!” was the only comprehensible thing he heard as she pressed her face into his chest and sobbed. He tried to comfort her as she clutched at his shirt, but he didn’t know what to say and the very last thing he wanted to do was upset her further. So, he made noises of agreement and rubbed soothing circles into her back until, finally, she quieted.

“Everything’s going to be all right, Lils,” James soothed, pressing a kiss to her forehead.

“No, it’s not! I don’t have anything to wear to dinner tonight, and now you’re going to be upset with me because we’re going to miss our reservations - reservations that you made a month ago!” She sniffled, dragging a hand underneath her nose.

“We can always reschedule,” he said, reaching up to smooth her hair away from her face. “It’s not a big deal.”

“But you were so excited to finally be able to celebrate our good news,” Lily responded, “and I wanted to look pretty for you.”

Rolling his eyes good-naturedly, James twirled the lock of hair round his finger. “Silly Lily, when will you ever learn?” He leaned forwards and rested his forehead against hers. “You always look pretty to me, no matter what.” He kissed her once, twice, three times on the lips and cupped her cheek in his hand.

Lily leaned into the warmth of his touch and sighed. “I just wish I had something nice to wear that actually fit. Everything’s getting a little tighter than I’m comfortable with.”

Moving his free hand away from her hip, James rested his palm against her stomach, his fingers fanning out. “Of course your clothes don’t fit, Lily,” he said, rubbing her belly, “you’re pregnant. They’re not supposed to fit you anymore.”

James realised a moment too late that he had said the wrong thing. That, not for the first time, his words of comfort completely backfired on him. At least this time there wasn’t a suit of armour for her to push him into. There was a cupboard, though…

Summoning a seemingly supernatural strength, Lily pushed away from James and met his gaze, her green eyes blazing with fury. “Are you trying to tell me,” she began in a scarily calm voice, “that you think I’m FAT!?!”

Bollocks. Now there was a red tinge to her cheeks, which meant she was furious. And with him, no less. This wasn’t good. Not at all.

James held his hands up, more as a defence mechanism than actually trying to silence her. Silencing an angry Lily was like silencing Sirius when he was drunk - impossible. “Now, Lily, you know that’s not what I meant-”

“’Not what you meant’? ‘NOT WHAT YOU MEANT’!?!?” She expelled a very angry breath and stomped her foot. If her nostrils started flaring, he’d make a run for it. Nothing good ever resulted after a nostril flare. “Just what the bloody hell did you mean then?”

He took an inadvertent step backwards. “I meant to say that it’s completely normal for a woman in your condition -” her nose twitched and he gulped “-which is to say, pregnant, of course, is supposed to gain weight. It’s for the health of the - OUCH!” James lifted a hand to just above his eyebrow, where a shoe had just dinged off. “What’d you do that for?”

“YOU CALLED ME FAT!”

“I did not!”

Lily prodded him in the chest. Hard. “YOU DID TOO!”

“Don’t poke me!”

Pulling a face at him, she gave him a shove.

“OI!”

“You said don’t poke you!”

“So you shove me!?”

Lily shrugged her shoulders.

James rolled his eyes. “You’re mean. And abusive.”

“I wouldn’t have to be if you didn’t call me fat!”

“But I didn’t call you fat!”

She arched an eyebrow. “Oh really? So you didn’t say something along the lines of ’it’s okay for pregnant women to gain weight’?”

James cursed under his breath. Even if he didn’t mean the words in the connotation she was insinuating, he knew there was no way out of this. She had him.

His wife laughed without mirth. “That’s what I thought. You did call me fat.”

“No, I didn’t! I just said that -” he cut himself off, not wanting to dig himself into an even deeper hole. Sighing, James took a step towards Lily, who gave him a challenging look. He reached for one of her hands, enjoying the sensation of her slender fingers intertwined with his. “I’m sorry?”

She stared at him for a beat, her hesitantly angry expression infused with something that resembled sympathy.

James blinked at her. “Lils?”

With a flick of her eyes, Lily nodded and pulled him towards her, wrapping her arms round his middle. “You’re a prat,” she said.

“The world’s biggest,” agreed James, kissing her soft hair. “I didn’t mean to call you fat. I was just trying to make you feel better.”

Nuzzling his chest, Lily laughed softly. “You have a funny way of going about it.” She pressed a kiss over his heart, and smiled when she heard its pace increase.

“If it counts for anything,” James began, pulling back just enough to look down at her. “I think this is the sexiest you’ve ever looked.” He nodded towards the old tee shirt and her knickers.

“Not even on our wedding night?” she teased.

He shook his head. “Not even then.”

Smiling, she returned her head to its previous position on his chest and listened to the beautiful thrum of his heart, which was interrupted by the loud and low growl of his stomach. Lily laughed and tilted her head to look at him. “Hungry?”

The wry grin she received sent a chill down her spine, made her heart beat just a little faster. She knew that grin. “Oh, you have no idea,” James whispered lowly, kissing her soundly and backing her towards their bed.



A/N: There’s the chapter! Sorry it took so long to get an update out! I was busy with finals and moving back home, and then I went on holiday…basically, I was busy, but I promise that updates will be a little more regular!

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