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Harry is cooking dinner with Zayn’s help when Louis wanders in, his face scrunched up in discomfort. “Haz, seriously, your baby is like attacking my ribs or something, can you help me out here?”

Harry immediately puts down his knife and reaches out to help Louis lower himself into a nearby chair. With only just over a month left of pregnancy, Louis is ‘whale-sized’ (his words), ‘so uncomfortable I want to die’ (also his words), and ‘absolutely beautiful’ (Harry’s words).

Louis makes a pained noise as his lower back protests the movement, and Zayn frowns sympathetically. “Do you need anything, Lou?”

Louis shakes his head. “Just for Baby Tommo in here to settle for a bit so I can nap in peace,” he says. “Thanks, though.”

Harry kneels in front of Louis’ chair and his big palms spread over the bump of his stomach, warm and soothing.

“Hey, kiddo,” he says softly. “What’re you doing, huh? You torturing your dad? Hmm?”

“I’m pretty sure he’s secretly an acrobat,” Louis says solemnly, reaching down to rest his hand over Harry’s on his belly. “Our child is going to run off and join the circus the moment he’s born.”

“No, no,” Harry murmurs, still gazing at Louis’ stomach like it’s the most amazing thing he’s ever seen. “You won’t do that, will you, baby? Won’t run away and join the circus, leave your dad and I at home all alone? You know when I was a kid I went to the circus, and there were elephants and lions and clowns…not that you know what any of those things are, sweetheart, but we’ll teach you, don’t you worry.”

Harry just keeps talking, his deep voice slow and melodic. It only takes about a minute for Louis to sigh in relief. The baby responds to Harry’s voice more than anything else, recognises it instantly and always calms upon hearing it.

“Oh, thank you,” Louis says fervently as the baby settles and the pain beneath his ribs dissipates. He strokes his fingers through Harry’s hair, scratching lightly at his scalp with his nails until Harry’s eyes half-close like a happy cat.

Harry presses a gentle, fond kiss to Louis’ belly as he stands. “C’mon, you should be resting. Let’s get you into bed.”