“Lou, can you pause it, please?”
“Again? What’s wrong with you, Haz? Have you got an upset tummy or something?”
“No, Louis, fucks sake, don’t ask things like that. I just need the loo again.”
“Oh, please. I watched you push a human being out of your body, and I’ve seen you puke more times than I can count. I think we’re past being shy, don’t you?” Harry just sent him the middle finger as he sauntered out of the room towards their downstairs loo. Louis sighed and reached for the remote to pause the movie, knowing Harry wouldn’t want to miss any of it.
It wasn’t long before his husband returned and curled back into Louis’ side, pulling the blanket back over his legs again, the room lit only by the Christmas tree in the corner. Photos of their family littered every flat surface, and Louis let his arm pull Harry’s body closer to him again as they focused on the action on the screen. Harry was cowering away since the movie was Louis’ choice, something a bit scarier than Harry would usually choose.
“Louis, do you want some pretzels or something?”
Louis glanced across, shaking his head at Harry’s whispered question. He left the movie playing as Harry pushed the blanket off and crept away, the light in the kitchen going on as Harry hunted out some snacks, coming back just a few minutes later, a couple of bowls in his hands.
“Got you some in case, you’ll only steal mine anyway.” Harry pecked Louis’ cheek as he started nibbling on his snack, clearly having lost interest in whatever was happening in the film by now. “Pass my Fanta, please?”
Louis sighed and leaned forwards, grabbing the tall glass and handing it to Harry. “You’re a right fidget tonight, what’s wrong with you?”
“I dunno. This movie is shit, for starters. But I don’t know. I’m really hungry.”
“You ate two lots of pasta for dinner, Haz. Did Ivy have you running laps at baby gym or something, make you work up an appetite?”
“No, what are you trying to say, Louis? That I’m fat? Your dinner was just delicious, and I was very hungry, sorry for-”
“Hey, I’m just playing.” Louis frowned, wondering why Harry was being so sensitive all of a sudden. Usually, he took Louis’ banter in good faith, but he’d snapped back, which wasn’t like him. “I’m sorry if I upset you, love.” He gently carded his fingers through Harry’s curls, hoping the touch would soothe his snippy husband.
Harry sat up and peered back at Louis, a blush spreading over his cheeks. “It’s okay, Lou. I didn't mean to snap at you. I love you, I’m sorry.” Louis just cupped Harry’s cheek with his hand and pulled him close again, Harry sighing in comfort when he was curled into Louis’ side. They both stilled as they heard something from upstairs, but when no further cries followed, they settled down, sure their daughter would make her presence known if she had woken up. “I don’t feel like myself, Lou. I really am sorry.”
“It’s fine. Let’s just watch, okay?”
Harry nodded but was fidgety again, so Louis paused it.
“I’m sorry. No more fizzies for me, I think they just go right through me... “ Harry mumbled as he ran off again. Louis checked his phone as he wondered why Harry was in such a strange mood that night. He’d been oddly emotional for the past few days, but now the out of character snapping, and frequent toilet runs were ringing alarm bells in Louis’ mind. He was sure he’d seen these things before in his husband but he couldn’t for the life of him remember why or when. He pushed it to the back of his mind as Harry came back into the room, pulling off his thick jumper before he sat down.
“Right. No more breaks. I’m ready to watch until the end. Press play, baby.”
Louis did but something told him there was going to be at least one more interruption before he got the end of the film, and resigned himself to possibly never finding out if the world on his TV was going to end in an apocalypse or not.
The next day, Louis stood and watched as Harry bent down, a hand on his lower back as he started stacking the recently wrapped presents underneath their huge Christmas tree. Louis still wasn’t convinced that they needed such a large tree, but Harry had been absolutely insistent when they’d gone and picked one out, and Louis never could resist Harry’s pouty lips, and big green eyes. He’d reluctantly paid for the monstrosity, asked for a couple of much taller men to attach it to their car roof, and now, it was in the middle of their living room, taking up much of the space to the displeasure of Louis, and the delight of Harry and their daughter.
It was even more laughable due to the fact there were barely any decorations around the bottom half of the tree at all, as their inquisitive ten month old daughter Ivy found it far more amusing to unhook the pretty baubles and roll or throw them around than she did to admire them on the tree, as Harry so happily encouraged her to do. Eventually, he’d just removed them, leaving just the lights and tinsel, something Ivy hadn’t taken such an interest in, to Louis’ relief.
“Haz, do you want a hand? Have you hurt your back again?”
“No, just a twinge. It’ll be fine, Lou. Can you pass me that one for Gemma, please?” Louis looked across and scoured the tags, picking up the beautifully wrapped gift for his favourite (only) sister-in-law and handed it to Harry, who positioned it just so. They worked as a team to put the last few gifts underneath, and Harry sat back on his knees, admiring it before he stood up. “There. I wish they could stay there, looks so pretty when there’s lots of pressies underneath.” He struggled to get up, and Louis hurried over, offering a hand that Harry quickly grabbed to steady himself, allowing Louis to pull him into a cuddle afterwards. “Only a week to go, Lou.”
“I know, love. Good job you’ve got us all organised.” He tiptoed up and kissed Harry quickly, pulling apart when he heard a familiar wail float down the stairs. “I’ve got her. You go and rest, you look knackered, darling. You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine. Go and get Ivy, and I’ll start dinner in a bit.” Louis nodded and patted Harry’s bum before he walked out of the room, heading up the stairs to their daughter’s room. Her door was decorated with wooden letters bearing her name in a soft lilac, and he opened the door enough to poke his head in. Ivy was already stood up, little fists grabbing the edge of her cot as she started to bounce in excitement at the arrival of her Daddy.
“Dadadadada,” she babbled, sending Louis a gummy smile as he walked over, a matching smile on his face. Her soft curls were messy, her cheeks still bore the creases from her bedsheet, but she was utterly beautiful, and Louis felt like the proudest Dad in the world. She held up her arms and Louis obliged her, lifting her up so she could nuzzle his chest as she always did.
“Hello, sweetheart. Did you have a good sleep?” She just buried her head against his soft blue jumper, and Louis grabbed her blanket, wrapping it around her back before he turned and walked back out of the room, deciding to leave her in her babygro given she was warm and cosy. He walked carefully down the stairs and smiled when he saw Harry already asleep on the sofa, curled up on his side with one of their cosy blankets draped over his legs.
Louis set his baby daughter onto the floor and stood with his arms folded, watching on as she crawled eagerly to her other daddy, using the edge of the sofa to pull herself up, wobbling before she found her feet. She wasn’t walking yet, but Louis knew it wouldn’t be long based on how strong her legs were, and her willingness to get up onto her feet at every opportunity, cruising around the furniture as much as she could. She placed a pudgy hand on Harry’s cheek before she tugged on his hair, stirring him from his sleep.
“Who dares wake me from my sleep?” Harry muttered before he grabbed his daughter, making her laugh loudly as he dumped her on his tummy, tickling her mercilessly. Louis thought her laugh was the most beautiful sound in the world and walked further into the room so he could get a better view. Harry soon stopped his tickles and Ivy laid down, her soft cheek on Harry’s chest as he stroked up and down her back gently. “I love when she’s cuddly like this, Lou.”
“Me too. She gave me a good hug when she woke up.” He noticed Harry winced as Ivy placed her head on his pec, and he frowned, again worrying about his husband. “Babe, everything alright?”
“I think I’m coming down with something. I just ache everywhere, bit sensitive where she put her head. Nothing to worry about, just typical December illness.” Louis nodded but didn't let his worries drift too far to the back of his mind. Harry was normally so healthy, and the only other time he could remember Harry’s chest being sore and sensitive like this was when he was pregnant with their daughter nearly eighteen months ago now. It had been one of the first signs, and he remembered them both getting excited about it, googling his symptoms on Louis’ laptop in bed together, chuckling happily when they found out it was one of the early signs of possible pregnancy. The test they’d taken only two weeks later had confirmed the fact, and Louis had thought he might burst with how proud and excited he was that they were having a much longed for baby.
Louis pondered on it for a few more minutes before he startled and sat up straight in his chair and grinned to himself, realisation of what was going on with his husband dawning on him. Harry was pregnant. They were always careful when they had sex, sure, but thinking back, there was that time a few months ago when they’d been so caught up in their arousal and need for each other, they’d forgotten the condom, Harry promising mid-sex that just the once wouldn’t hurt. It hadn’t hurt, exactly, but it looked like they’d certainly been left a permanent reminder of that night inside Harry’s belly.
As Harry stood up, their daughter on his hip, Louis craned his head to see if there was any sign of a swell in his tummy, but Harry’s baggy Christmas jumper and his too-big joggers were masking any sign, making Louis sigh in annoyance. Harry’s eyes flickered over to Louis and he plastered on a smile, about to say something about Harry’s probable pregnant state when Harry cut him off.
“You need to take this little monkey so I can start dinner. You want to go to Dada, darling?”
“Dadadadada,” Ivy babbled again as Harry walked over to Louis, handing over their little bundle, who whined when Harry moved away again. “No no, dadadada-” She used the same term for both parents at the moment, although Louis and Harry had decided that Louis was to be Daddy, and Harry was Papa. She couldn’t yet use the p sound, so dada it was, not that either of them were complaining. “No no no-”
“I’ll be back soon, my love.” Harry bent over with a wince and kissed her head, running his fingers through the few curls on top of it, pecking Louis too before he righted himself and disappeared into the kitchen, a hand on his sore lower back.
“Shall we tell your daddy he’s pregnant, Ivy, or shall we wait and see how long it takes him to realise, hmm?” She all but ignored Louis, making a beeline on the floor towards the tree, and Louis dashed over to grab her again, determined that yet more baubles wouldn’t make the dramatic fall to the floor courtesy of her grabby hands. “Nope, not for Ivy. We could play with your train?” She grinned and Louis sat them both on the floor, the wooden transport toy sat between them as she pushed it back and forth. “God, you’re going to be a big sister already. Not sure we planned it this soon, but this baby will be just as loved as you.”
Ivy pointed to herself, and Louis laughing, tickling her under her chin, his daughter giggling happy back to her happy Daddy.
“That’s right. Just as loved as you.”
Louis awoke the next morning to Harry perched on the side of their bed, elbows on his knees, head in his hands as he rocked side to side, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Louis blinked blearily at the alarm clock on his bedside table, pleased to see it said 7:02 as he sat up, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes. He reached for his top and pulled it on, sitting up next to Harry, a gentle hand resting between his shoulder blades as he listened for any sign that their daughter had woken up already.
“Harry, what’s wrong?”
“Feel a bit sick. Not like I’m gonna be sick, but just… I feel shitty, Lou.” He moaned lowly as he rocked himself back and forth again, and Louis knew instantly it was just like the nausea he had with Ivy’s pregnancy. Harry seemed to have skipped the full-on vomiting last time around, instead, nausea had hung around for hours at a time, which Harry often deemed worse than full on being sick and getting the feeling out.
“Oh, I’m sorry, love. You, uh, you got any idea why?”
Harry shook his head, letting out another slow breath. “No. I mean, you’re not sick so it can’t be the dinner last night, right?”
“Nah, I’m fine, sweetheart. Shall I grab you a drink of water?”
“Please. Sorry, Lou, I know you don’t want to be with me like this on your first few days of Christmas holidays.”
“Hey, don’t say sorry. I’m your husband, okay? I like to take care of you. Sit tight and I’ll grab your water, then I’ll wake Ivy up or she won’t nap later on.” Harry nodded and Louis got off the bed, pressing a kiss to Harry’s curls before he hurried downstairs, filling a glass half full of cold water before he returned upstairs, sitting it on Harry’s nightstand before he walked into their daughter’s room, pleased to see her still asleep. “Up you get, little lovely. Wakey wakey, Ivy…”
She stirred as Louis lifted her up, whining in her cute little voice, blinking her big green eyes sleepily. She had Louis’ temperament, bubbly and loving chatting to people, a little social butterfly, but appearance wise, she was all Harry. Louis absent-mindedly wondered if their new baby would look more like him, and it was Harry who startled him from the daydream of himself holding another little girl who had blue eyes and straight brown hair, but Harry’s quiet and calm nature.
“What’s making you smile like a right dope?” Harry asked, standing up slowly, reaching out to brush a finger down Ivy’s warm cheek, deciding not to hold his daughter in case the sickness came back. He blew her a gentle kiss, and she smiled, resting her head against Louis’ chest once more.
“Just thinking, nothing to worry yourself about, sweetheart. Coming downstairs with us? Maybe a bit of toast or something will settle your tummy?”
Harry nodded and followed Louis and Ivy down the stairs, taking his daughter as Louis went into the kitchen, flicking on the kettle as he set about making Ivy’s favourite banana porridge. Louis thought it looked vile, but like her father, she seemed to love the stuff. It was a pretty easy routine by now, and everything was ready and on the table all at once. Harry padded through and popped Ivy into her highchair, and Louis sat next to her, deciding to let Harry just feed himself today. Ivy sometimes got a bit messy, and it could be a little disgusting, especially when porridge got in her hair. They talked and ate, and Louis was pleased to see the colour returning to Harry’s cheeks as he ate the plain toast, and sipped on his warm tea.
They talked about their plans for the day, picking up the final few presents from town and taking Ivy to the park since the weather was supposed to be fine, and Louis decided it was soon time to discuss his thoughts about Harry being pregnant with his oblivious husband.
“Harry, do you think-”
“Oh god-” Harry pushed back from the table all of a sudden and darted out of the room, his chair banging on the floor as it fell backwards. Ivy burst into loud tears at the commotion, and Louis felt torn. As much as he wanted to run and help Harry, he knew his daughter came first and he pulled off her bib before he removed her from her highchair, holding her close.
“Don’t cry, love. Papa’s okay, he’s just got a poorly tummy. Your brother or sister is making him feel a little sick, but I’m not sure he realises that they’re in there just yet.” He shushed her gently, rocking her side to side until her loud sobs subsided to big, silent tears rolling down her cheeks. Louis mopped them up with the hem of his own t-shirt, and Harry came back in, looking a little off again, rubbing his belly in small circular motions that made Louis fight back a smile.
“Sorry, but God, I feel like death.” Louis put Ivy back into her highchair and walked around, crouching down next to Harry, who felt quite warm to the touch. “Louis, why do I feel like this?”
Louis knew now was definitely not the time to tell Harry his thoughts, so he settled for stroking his thigh gently, and taking his hand. “I… I think we need to stay home today, or at least, you do. I’ll take Ivy out to town and get the last bits you wanted, but you need to rest. Sleep it off, a bit?”
“Are you sure? I’m sorry…”
“Baby, it’s fine. It’s what I’m here for, yeah?” Louis’ eyes drifted down to Harry’s belly, where he could see an ever so slight swell bulging under his t-shirt, and he longed to touch, to connect with the new life growing inside his husband, unbeknownst to Harry apparently. “Go on, lay down. I’ll sort out Miss Ivy, won’t I, darling?”
She babbled happily, banging her hands on the tray in front of her before she grabbed her sippy cup, guzzling some of the water inside. Harry stood up and opened his arms for Louis to go into. Louis used it as an excuse to put his hands on Harry’s hips, drifting one over to his tummy slowly, rubbing it under the pretence of taking away Harry’s nausea.
“Thanks, Lou. I love you.” Harry kissed Louis’ lips softly before he walked away, leaving his husband and daughter in the kitchen.
“Just you and me, hey, love?” Louis asked, and Ivy just screeched back at him, which Louis took as a happy confirmation of her excitement. “Let’s go and clean you up, my little pickle. Off we go.”
Louis sprinted up the stairs, certain that from Harry’s tone, something was terribly wrong. “What is it, is it the-” He stilled in the doorway at the sight of Harry trying to force the clasp of his trousers together, a furious look on his face. Louis bit back a smile, knowing the reason for Harry not being able to get his trousers fastened. However, Harry’s expression didn't look like he’d appreciate Louis surprising him with the news right now.
“Um, you need some help, or-”
“What I need, Louis , is for you to stop doing the washing. You’ve shrunk my bloody trousers again. I really needed these, and now they don’t fit. Look!” He stomped over and again attempted to get the two ends to meet, failing miserably, his little belly sat sticking out towards Louis.
“I didn't, not after the time I shrunk Ivy’s dresses, I promised I wouldn’t-”
“Well, how do you explain this then, hmm?” Louis floundered, entirely perplexed as how to answer without blurting out the news. “Oh, I give up.” He could only watched as Harry shoved them down, kicking them across the room before he reached for another pair that were still a strain to do up. “I mean, maybe I’ve eaten a few too many mince pies when Ivy’s been napping and I’ve been working, but still… have I got fat, Lou?”
Harry walked over to the floor length mirror on one wall and put his hands on his hips, eyeing himself up and down. Louis walked over and stood behind Harry, going up onto his tiptoes so he could hook his chin over Harry’s shoulder, hands at the edges of his husband’s broad shoulders.
“You’re not fat, Harry. Not at all. You only had a baby ten months ago, remember. That changed your body, for the better I might add. But you’re perfect. And who cares if your fucking trousers are too tight? Just buy some bigger ones. Life’s too short, babe.”
Harry gave him a wobbly smile, trying to wipe away the tears threatening to fall at Louis’ lovely words. “Fuck, and now I’m crying. God. What a mess.” Louis laughed softly and turned Harry around, pulling him into a hug, arms wrapping as far around his boy as he could, Harry’s toes coming to rest on top of Louis’. Louis gently wiped away a tear, and kissed each of Harry’s cheeks in turn. “Sorry, Lou. Are we still going to see Santa now?”
“Only if you’re up to it. We don’t have to.”
Harry jerked backwards, looking at Louis with what could only be described as a look of disgust. “Louis, of course we have to. It’s Ivy’s first Christmas, and I booked this months ago. She has to see Father Christmas, she has to. ”
Louis nodded, not wanting to face the wrath of a pregnant and hormonal Harry. It was bad enough when Harry knew the reasons for his fluctuating emotions, let alone when he was confused and clueless as he was right now. “Alright, we’ll go. Let’s give Ivy a little while longer to nap though? She had me up a few times last night, so she must be tired.”
“Did she? She didn't wake me up? Give me a nudge next time, I don’t mind going.” Louis shook his head, knowing Harry slept like the dead when he was pregnant, to the extent that Louis thought he’d fallen into some sort of pregnancy coma in his sixth month of being pregnant with Ivy. He’d called his Mum in a panic, telling her Harry was unconscious until Harry did a very ungraceful snort and cough and woke himself up, wondering why Louis looked like he was ready to call an ambulance.
“If you say so. I’m gonna jump in the shower before we go, coming?” Louis wandered through to the bathroom, pulling off his clothes as he started up the shower, steam soon filling their small bathroom. Harry wandered in just as Louis stepped into the cubicle, leaving his own clothes on the floor as he stepped behind Louis, the swell of his tummy pressing against Louis’ lower back. “Nice of you to join me, Mr Tomlinson.”
“As if I’m going to turn down a shower with my husband. Not often Ivy lets us do this, usually she’s screeching and wanting attention.” Louis reached for the body wash on the shelf and squirted a puddle into his hand, about to press it to Harry’s chest as he usually did. Suddenly, Harry clamped his hand over his mouth, taking a step back, moving as far away from Louis as the cramped space allowed. “Oh my god, Louis, what is that?”
“What? A bad smell?” Louis wrinkled his nose, wondering what the heck had upset Harry this time. “I mean… the bodywash?” He offered his hand towards Harry who just leaned in and pulled back just as fast, nodding quickly. “It’s our usual one, Haz?”
“Louis, get rid of it, I’m gonna throw up.” Louis quickly washed the scent off his hands and opened the door, throwing the bottle into the sink so Harry wouldn’t be any more put off. He wasn’t exactly sure how Harry wasn’t realising what was going on now, but still, his husband looked entirely unaware, relaxing now the awful, evil bodywash had gone. “Sorry, but maybe it’s gone off or something?”
“Gone off? It’s not a pint of milk, Harry.” Louis rolled his eyes as he stepped back out, grabbing one of the bars of Ivy’s baby soap from the sink, hoping that wasn’t going to be as repulsive to his husband. He gingerly extended his hand and let Harry sniff it, a small smile crossing his lips. “This one okay, then?”
“Yep. Smells like our little girl.”
“Yeah, cos I want to smell just like our ten month old daughter, Haz…” Louis chuckled and quickly soaped up his hands, running them over his husband’s chest and tummy, lingering slightly on his little bump. He saw Harry frowning down at it, and he quickly moved away, lest Harry think he was making some comment on Harry’s (pregnancy) weight gain. “Beautiful.”
“My turn, gimme,” Harry mumbled, snatching the soap away from Louis. It was slippery and it shot out of Harry’s big, clumsy hand, landing on the floor. He made to pick it up but Louis stopped him with a hand on his chest, knowing how Harry got dizzy when he bent over too fast when he was pregnant. “Louis, I’m not an invalid, I can get the soap from the floor…”
“Well, I just… let me help you more, okay?” Louis pecked Harry’s lips as he handed him back the soap, closing his eyes as Harry’s hands started moving over his body, washing him gently. There wasn’t really anything sexual in it, but Louis enjoyed the sensations anyway, humming as Harry pushed him under the spray, wetting his hair quickly so he could use his shampoo. Louis cracked open an eye as Harry squirted some out into his hand, pleased when he didn't seem to flinch at the scent of that as he had done with the bodywash.
When they were done, they stepped out, Louis holding out his hands for Harry to take as he stepped from the slippery floor. Harry just shook his head in despair, clearly not getting why Louis was being more attentive than usual. They’d just dried off and walked to their bedroom when Ivy started to grizzle, a low, painful sounding cry. Harry quickly dropped his towel and pulled on some boxers, sighing when they wouldn’t come up on his belly as far as they usually did before he practically ran out of the room to get to his daughter.
“Slow down, you need to be careful!” Louis hollered after him, knowing he had a clumsy husband at the best of times. Harry returned moments later with a very unhappy looking Ivy, her cheeks bright red and green eyes full of tears. She stretched her arms out for Louis, who took her gladly, laying down with her on the bed, the baby on his chest as his fingertips danced over her little back. “She’s really warm, Haz, I’m gonna take her babygro off.”
He sat up carefully, supporting her head and he laid her on her back, between his legs, stripping off her onesie and vest, leaving her in just her rather full nappy. Harry must have had a similar thought as he set the wipes and a fresh nappy next to Louis, letting him do the honours. It didn't take more than a minute to clean and change his daughter, bringing her back to his chest afterwards, where she started to settle. Harry got dressed and then switched places with Louis, taking their daughter so he could get dressed.
Ivy had woken up properly after a little while, and after a bottle while she was cradled in her papa’s arms, they dressed her and got her excited for her first ever visit to Father Christmas. She fell asleep on the car journey, warm and cosy under her blanket knitted by her Nanny Anne, and when Louis and Harry arrived at the garden centre, Louis made sure to carry her out and put her into the pushchair that Harry proudly pushed along in front of him. They accepted lots of coos over their daughter, lots of older women leaning in, claiming she was stunning, that she looked just like Harry, which just made Harry stand up even taller, puffing out his chest in pride.
They waited their turn in line, Harry clutching the printout of his booking email, certain they wouldn’t be turned away. Louis had tried to talk him out of it, telling Harry everything was electronic these days, but in Harry’s words, ‘you just can’t be too careful, Lou. Imagine if she misses her first visit to Father Christmas because all the email went down’. Louis had stopped arguing at that point.
When it was their turn, Harry unclipped Ivy from her pushchair and proudly strutted forward with her, leaving Louis in his wake to snap photo after photo. The little girl looked happy enough as Harry sat her on Santa’s knee, talking for her. He looked every inch the proud father, and Louis couldn’t believe that next year, they’d be back here with two children. The thought actually made him a little tearful, and he sniffed back his tears, seeing Harry beckoning him over. He handed his camera to a festively dressed elf and knelt on the other side to Harry, grinning at the camera.
He checked the photo over and thanked the elf and Santa, leaving Ivy in Harry’s arms as they wandered through the rest of the garden centre. The little girl was fascinated by the plethora of pretty lights and decorations, making a grab for anything remotely in her reach, giving Harry a mini heart attack every time she lunged for something. After a while, he set her back down in her pushchair and walked over to a display, taking a small white wooden ornament between his fingertips.
“Lou… I wanna get this for Ivy. Be nice to start a tradition, maybe buy her a new one every year while she’s growing up?” Louis took the ornament from Harry and smiled down at it. It was white, and had ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ cut into the wood, a pattern etched around the words. It was beautiful, and Louis knew Harry was buying it, no matter what he said. “You like it?”
“I love it, and that idea of buying her one every year.” Harry grinned back at him and handed it to Ivy, who clutched it in her hand as they walked around a while more, admiring the beautiful displays, listening to the Christmas tunes playing in the centre. They paid for the decoration and Harry pocketed it before Ivy could put it in her mouth, making her whine until he handed one of her toys from the changing bag hanging from the handle. “Ready to go home?”
Harry yawned and nodded, covering his mouth with the back of his hand as he did so. He let Louis put Ivy into her car seat behind his own chair, and he watched in the mirror as Louis folded up the pushchair, expertly putting it back into the boot. He slid into the seat next to his sleepy husband and started the engine, resting a hand on Harry’s thigh quickly. “This was a great idea, Haz. Definitely be lovely to look back on. We’ll have to print one of those photos, put it on the windowsill with all our other family pictures.”
“Sounds good, Lou. Sorry, just so tired-” he said before he yawned again, settling back into his chair as Louis started driving, heading for home. “Think I might join Ivy in a nap when we get back, if you don’t mind?”
“Not at all, I can get a bit of research done for the next season, don’t worry. You do whatever you need to, Haz, you’re the one-” He cut himself off, realising what he was about to say. “Uh, you’re the one looking after our daughter most of the time.”
“Love you, Lou. I love doing it, you know, staying at home with her. Love being a daddy so much.” Harry’s eyes started to shut and Louis looked across, smiling fondly at the sight of his worn out husband, the seatbelt stretched across the swell of his belly, keeping two of his three most important people in the world safe from harm. Every time he thought about the fact Harry was carrying another of his children in his belly, he shuddered slightly, knowing it was him who put that baby inside Harry. He’d always wanted a family with Harry, since they were young and realised they wanted to be together for the rest of their lives, and now, everything was falling into place. Soon, he and Harry were going to welcome a second child into their already perfect family, and Louis wasn’t sure it got any better than that.
It was now only 3 days until Christmas, and Harry had whipped himself up into a bit of a stress frenzy over getting the Christmas food shopping, and the last few presents while Louis had popped out to sort out something at work. He worked at the local radio station as the sports announcer, and as the local teams had all finished for the Christmas break, he’d been off for the past few days. It was typical then that Harry had chosen to take on too much while Louis was away at work for a few hours.
It was the middle of the afternoon when he arrived back home, pleased that the heating was blasting into the hallway as he walked in out of the chill, pulling off his coat. He quietly closed the door, since it sounded like Ivy must be asleep, a distinct absence of either her TV shows or baby CDs playing in the background as there often was when she was awake. He flicked on the kettle before he went back upstairs, and poked his head in Ivy’s room, happy to see the little girl sound asleep on her back, her favourite rainbow unicorn clutched in her fist.
“I love you so much, precious girl,” he whispered as he tucked her blanket back up around her chest, pulling the door nearly closed behind him as he left. There wasn’t much sound coming from their bedroom either, so Louis assumed Harry was having yet another nap. He still hadn’t figured out the reason for his constant tiredness, aching limbs and sore chest much to Louis’ amusement, and Louis couldn’t wait for it all to dawn on Harry, for him to put two and two together and finally come up with four.
He hadn’t expected to walk into his bedroom and have his husband greet him wearing just one of his silky black shirts, and the tightest pink boxers Louis had ever seen. His belly stuck out above the elasticated waistband, and Louis longed to touch, shoving his hands into his pockets to stop himself pressing his palms to the firm skin of Harry’s baby bump.
“Oh my god…”
“Hello, darling.” Harry waggled his eyebrows and swayed his hips as he walked over to Louis, brushing his lips up against his husband’s for a fleeting moment, the promise of more lingering in the air. “Been waiting for you to get home to me…”
“Looks like you have,” Louis muttered, his hands coming up and resting on the curve of Harry’s waist without him really realising it. He loved Harry’s pregnant body, he had to admit. The way Harry’s curves became more prominent, how the normally flat skin of his stomach became softer and rounded, how he just glowed from the inside out. It was something Louis wished he could see on Harry every day, but he’d happily settle for nine months for now. “And now I’m here…”
“Now you’re here,” Harry whispered back, pulling their bodies closer together. Louis was all too aware of how his body was responding to the proximity of a nearly naked Harry, and he allowed himself to fall into the kiss, his erection restrained behind the jeans he was wearing. Harry’s hand crept down and cupped his bulge for a moment, pressing in as Louis parted his lips, letting Harry deepen their kiss for a minute. “God, can we, Lou? It feels like it’s been forever, and Ivy’s not due to wake up for another hour or so…”
“Yeah, fuck, course,” Louis mumbled, letting Harry undo his jeans and push them to the floor while he struggled out of his jumper and shirt, leaving him in the same state of undress as Harry was. They kissed as they made their way to the bed, and Louis was just about to push Harry backwards onto the mattress as he usually would before he realised what he was doing, that he couldn’t shove a pregnant Harry around. He parted from the kiss, and indicated the bed. “Lay down, then.”
“Not gonna manhandle me today then, hmm?” Harry asked, crawling up the bed, laying on his back and looking down the bed at Louis, who was too busy admiring Harry’s body to really pay much attention to the words falling from his lips. “S’ok, you can come take care of me anyway.”
“I can do that.” Louis fetched the things he needed, chucking the condom back into the drawer without thinking, and Harry sat up, quickly noticing.
“You don’t want to use a condom?”
“Oh. Um, yeah, course I do, wasn’t thinking.” Harry just shook his head and blinked, palming himself now, clearly desperate for Louis. “Gonna take those off for me then?” Harry nodded and wriggled out of the underwear and the shirt, leaving him naked and on the bed. Harry’s hands flew down, covering the tummy he seemed all too aware of lately, and that little gesture broke Louis’ heart just a little bit.
He took the chance while he had it and he bent down, removing Harry’s hands before he kissed all over his tummy, wishing he could feel the baby move inside Harry as he did so. Harry’s hands relaxed and allowed Louis to touch him, enjoying the closeness as he realised he had nothing to hide from his husband. “Don’t cover yourself up. You know I love every bit of you, all the time. This-” he pressed a kiss to Harry’s tummy “-is mine. And you are mine. And I love you… all of you.” His words encompassed not only Harry’s body but the gifts of life it had given him too - his children, one in the room next door to their own, and the other safely inside Harry’s tummy.
“I love you, too. Kiss me, please?” Harry’s voice was soft and vulnerable, and Louis had to indulge him. It wasn’t long until his fingers were working over Harry’s length, stroking and touching, Harry over-sensitive as he was during his last pregnancy. He was gasping and bucking up into Louis’ touch, and Louis was feeling more unsure as he went on, knowing how easily Harry could get overwhelmed when he was in this state. “Louis, please-”
“Love, just… slow it down, please? I’ll take care of you, but I don’t want you to hurt yourself-”
“Louis, why would I hurt myself? We’ve had sex like a billion times, I think I know what I’m doing by now.”
Louis bit his tongue, fighting back the words that wanted to erupt, to warn Harry he needed to take it easy as it wasn’t just him he had to think about. “Alright. But just.. Let’s be slow, okay? Wanna make love to you, make you feel good.”
Harry gave in, nodding and letting his legs splay open, inviting Louis to begin opening him up. Louis struggled to take his eyes off of Harry’s belly as he slid his fingers inside, enjoying the noises that came out of Harry as he did so. He could feel Harry’s body clench around him, inviting more inside, needing more. Their sex life had always been amazing, and during his pregnancy with Ivy, Harry had craved sex more often than he usually did, which was no mean feat. They’d had to be creative with their positions, particularly during Harry’s final trimester, when he preferred to be on top, not liking any pressure on his huge belly. Louis decided then that he’d let Harry on top now too, wanting to take care of his bump.
He slowed his fingers without realising, and Harry sighed, pushing himself up onto his elbows as if he sensed something was wrong with Louis. “What is it now, Louis?”
“What? Nothing. Sorry, baby, I’m here.” He slid in a second then a third finger as Harry continued to rock himself down on Louis’ digits, moaning and touching himself as he did so, cheeks flushed bright red with pleasure. “Ready? You want to go on top?”
“Oh. Uh, why not?”
“Cos I want you to fuck me, Lou. Please? Just really need it today, need you to take care of me.” Louis sighed and nodded, rolling on the condom before he got into position between Harry’s legs, his husband bare and exposed for him, entirely trusting Louis to look after him. Louis swallowed and gently pushed forwards, watching every flicker on Harry’s face to make sure he wasn’t hurting him, knowing how much more sensitive his body was when he was pregnant. Louis didn't pick up the pace too much, instead letting his thrusts become deep and meaningful, slow and thorough. Harry felt warm and tight around him, and Louis lost himself in the sensations for a few moments, stroking his hands up and down Harry’s bare thighs.
“Why are you fucking me like I’m made of glass? Come on, Louis, harder-”
“You don’t like this?”
“I do, just… I don’t know what’s wrong with me Lou, but I just want you so much right now, want you to fuck me harder-”
“Oh geez, thanks so much, Harry. Always nice to hear...”
“No, you dick, I didn't mean it like that. Just… you’re not being your usual self, normally you’re flinging me all over the place by now but you’ve barely touched me.”
“Shit. Come with me.” Louis pulled out and sat up, holding Harry’s hands as he pulled him to his feet and towards the bathroom, both entirely naked, hard cocks bobbing as they walked. Louis flicked on the shower and stuck his hand inside, waiting for the temperature of the water to get to an acceptable level before he dragged Harry inside and under the spray. “Fucking kiss me.”
Harry did, their erections grazing against each other as they kissed, hands roaming across their bodies. Harry had loved sex in the shower when he was pregnant before, and Louis could sense he was getting more aroused by being in here, and that somehow, being in there had calmed Harry down somewhat too, his body relaxing under the warmth of the water.
“Turn around, Haz.”
Harry did, his hands up against the glass surface as Louis lined himself up, knowing Harry didn't need any more prep. He pulled Harry’s hips back slightly, making him shuffle his feet back so his belly wasn’t pressed against the glass. Louis smiled to himself at the thought and gently pushed up, his cock sliding into Harry’s waiting body with ease.
The hiss of the water muffled any noises they made as Louis thrust into Harry, his hands moving around Harry’s sensitive nipples, almost praying they didn't start to leak as he had done in Ivy’s pregnancy. Judging by Harry’s size, he wasn’t quite at that stage but Louis decided not to push his luck and slid his hands down, clamping them on Harry’s hips now. “Feel so good for me, darling. You like this, hmm?”
“Fuck- yes, love it, Lou. Always love having sex in here… god…” Harry threw his head back against Louis’ shoulder, stilling his body, letting Louis guide their every moment. It was just what Harry needed - rough enough that he could feel it, but gentle enough that Louis didn't fear for the baby inside him, that he wasn’t pushing his expectant husband too far. With that knowledge, Louis let go a little bit, stroking Harry’s cock as he mumbled dirty words into Harry’s ear, driving them both closer to their climaxes.
“Oh god, Louis, I-” Harry was breathless now, and he looked down, his hair saturated by the water, and Louis became mesmerised with the water rivulets running down the firm planes of Harry’s muscular back to where they were so intimately connected. “Make me come, please-”
Harry was practically begging now, and Louis decided to let him have what he wanted. His grip on Harry’s cock tightened as he touched him, fucking up harder now, Harry’s palms pressing against the glass, keeping himself upright. Louis watched over Harry’s shoulder as he came with a shout of Louis’ name, covering the glass in his come. Louis went to pull out but Harry shook his head, looking back at him over his shoulder.
“Sure?” Harry nodded so Louis began again, flicking his hips with abandon, Harry’s head lowering so his chin was almost touching his chest. Louis kept his gaze on where he could see himself disappearing into Harry’s body over and over, and it was this that pushed him over the edge, coming hard into the condom, his free hand linked with Harry’s against the glass. “Oh my god… that was amazing.”
He reached down after a moment of catching his breath and held onto the bottom of the condom as he pulled his cock from Harry’s body, Harry visibly slumping when he did so. He turned around and leaned back against the glass wall of the cubicle, smirking at his husband. Louis’ eyes took in how red cheeked Harry was, how blown his pupils were but how utterly gorgeous he looked.
“Thanks for that, babe. Just couldn’t stop thinking about you, and really needed you. Don’t know what’s got into me lately.”
I do, Louis thought to himself as he removed the condom, knotting it and opening the door to throw it into the sink to deal with after their shower. “Don’t apologise for wanting sex, Haz. You know I love it when you want me..” He kissed Harry, letting the water run over their bodies before they pulled apart to wash themselves, Harry massaging conditioner into Louis’ hair before they were stopped by a loud wail. “I’ll go. You finish up in here, and join us, okay?”
“Best husband ever,” Harry mumbled as Louis stepped out, quickly drying off before he yanked on his boxers and went to Ivy’s room. He greeted her with a big smile that she quickly returned, arms in the air for her Daddy to pick her up. She grabbed hold of his still wet hair as he hoisted her up, setting her on his hip as he walked over to her changing unit, quickly putting a fresh nappy on her and changing her wrinkled onesie for a clean outfit of a little jumper and pink dungarees.
“Perfect. Shall we go and find your Papa, then?”
“Dadadadada!” she screeched, and all Louis could hear was Harry’s laugh filtering down the corridor, making Ivy’s eyes light up. “Dadaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
“Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to Daddy, Happy birthday to you!” Louis grinned up at his husband and daughter who were stood behind the cake that Harry had spent yesterday baking for the three of them, and he closed his eyes, making a wish before he blew out the candles Harry had stuck all over the top of the cake. “Yay! Can you clap for Daddy, sweetheart?”
Ivy attempted a clumsy clap, and both parents grinned, applauding her efforts before Harry handed Louis his daughter, returning to the kitchen for a knife. “Are you going to let her have some cake, Haz?”
“I think so, just a little bit won’t hurt.”
Louis smiled and pointed at the cake, opening his eyes. “You want some cake, love? It’s going to be yummy, Daddy made it!”
Harry cut up three slices before he placed one onto the tray of Ivy’s highchair, lifting her into it next to Louis’ chair. He pulled off a small piece of cake and held it up to Ivy’s lips, letting her take it from him, slapping her little lips together. She looked pleased and grabbed another handful, making a mess. Louis could sense Harry stressing about the mess already.
“Harry, she’s fine. She can have a bath after, let her have fun, okay?” Harry sighed and nodding, picking up his fork and eating his own cake now. “Thank you, though, for this, and for today. I’ve had a fab day with my two favourite people in the world.”
“Good. I’m glad you liked it, Lou. I’m just bloody pleased I got the right subscription. Do you have any idea how many bloody football magazines you read?”
“A few?” Louis teased, shoving another forkful of cake into his mouth. “God, this is delicious, Haz. Is this different to normal?”
“Yeah,” Harry mumbled, swallowing his mouthful before he spoke again. “It’s got beetroot in it.”
Louis stilled mid-chew, staring at Harry as he reluctantly swallowed, grimacing at Harry. “Beetroot? In my birthday cake? Are you joking?”
“It’s healthy, Lou. And if I hadn’t said anything, you’d never have known. Now shut up and eat it.” Louis sighed, realising he was right, he wouldn’t have guessed had Harry not revealed it to him. Harry’s cravings had certainly been weird up to now, the younger man eagerly dipping pretzels into balsamic vinegar last night when they watched Gogglebox, followed by ice-cream in a bowl garnished with red grapes. Weird, but Harry was happy and who was Louis to argue. Beetroot in cake, however, was a new one, even to Louis.
Ivy made a complete mess of her cake, but she looked happy afterwards, the cake smeared all over her face and hands, her curls littered with cake crumbs. Louis had snapped a couple of photos of her, sure she’d love them for it when she was older, and carefully lifted her out, stripping off her top and leggings before he carried her up to the bath in just her nappy, resigning himself to the cake smudges all over his own shirt by now. It wasn’t anything that wouldn’t wash out anyway.
He bathed the little girl, watching her splash gleefully while Harry cleaned up downstairs, despite his tiredness. Afterwards, he scooped her up into her fluffy purple towel and took her into her bedroom, putting her into the new Christmas eve onesie Harry had brought her just for tonight. Louis had to admit she looked gorgeous in the bright red and white striped cotton outfit, her eyes shining, curls soft from her baby shampoo. “Got a bit of a surprise for Papa tomorrow. Will hopefully make him realise your baby brother or sister is growing inside him, you never know.”
Ivy just shoved her hand into her mouth in response, eyes wandering around the room as Louis lifted her up, cuddling her to his chest. He carefully walked out of the room and down the stairs, holding his precious cargo in his arms. She wasn’t sleepy enough for bed just yet, and he could hear Harry in the kitchen, no doubt making her night time bottle. It was one of their favourite moments of the day, settling down with their sleepy daughter, feeding her for the final time of the day.
He came into the living room just as Louis had settled into the corner of the sofa with Ivy in the crook of his arm, the pair just staring at each other in some sort of wonder. Louis knew she had no idea about tomorrow or what Christmas really was, but still, he was excited to spend his first Christmas as a dad, with his baby girl and his husband.
“So, how does being twenty six feel, Lou?” Harry asked, handing Louis the warm bottle of milk. He expertly slid the teat between her lips, watching her guzzle hungrily despite the cake she’d devoured not long ago. “Always feels weird when there’s three years between us again.”
“I know, makes me feel like an old man. Still, you’ll be twenty four soon, love. Catching me up.” Ivy’s hands came to grip on the bottle now it was slowly emptying, all but supporting it herself now. “And in just two months, this little one will be a whole year old. Yes, you will!” Ivy grinned around the bottle and made both of her parents laugh.
“How did that happen, Lou? I remember finding out I was pregnant like it was yesterday, and now she’s nearly one.” Louis sat very still, wondering if this would be when Harry revealed he knew he was pregnant after all, that he’d been stringing Louis along this whole time with his apparent lack of realisation. “Best day of my life, you know… when I found out we were having this little one.”
“Mine too,” Louis confessed, reaching out and taking Harry’s hand in his own, bringing it to his lips to kiss the soft skin, followed by a peck to the platinum wedding band on his ring finger. As he did so, Harry suddenly winced and clutched his belly, making Louis panic, sitting up and looking at Harry for any sign of pain. “Harry, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing… just a cramp, I think. Ouch!” He rubbed at his lower belly again, and Louis realised in that moment just how pregnant he looked. He wished he could take a photo and shove it in Harry’s face, making him realise what was going on. “Blimey, my body is playing havoc with me at the moment. I’m fine, Lou, will you stop looking so worried?”
“I’m allowed to worry, Harry-”
“You’ve been so weird lately… Louis, what on earth are you doing?” Louis looked back up into Harry’s eyes, his free hand rubbing in small circles on Harry’s belly.
“Uh, just trying to help?” He hoped Harry wouldn’t think too much of it, and it didn't seem he did as he settled back, letting Louis continue to rub his tummy, sliding up under his jumper to touch the soft skin underneath, brushing over the hair of his happy trail that led into his trousers. “You alright now?”
“I am, thanks babe. I reckon if this doesn’t stop in the New Year, I’ll have to go to the doctors and get a check up.”
“Yeah, might wanna do that, love,” Louis mumbled, sitting Ivy up as she finished off her bottle, removing his hand from Harry’s tummy so he could burp his daughter. “Shall we put her to bed?”
“Er, no?” Harry got up and ran off, soon returning with a few things on a tray. “She has to put things out for Father Christmas, Lou, come on. Surely you know all this stuff?”
“She’s not even one, Haz. She probably thinks you’re making her another dinner.”
“I don’t care. Come on, grumpy pants.” Louis just watched as Harry took his daughter and put her on the floor beside him, talking quietly to her as he put down a small side plate with a mince pie and carrot on, setting down a glass of milk next to it. Ivy reached out to grab it so Harry took her, sitting her on his thigh. “Not for you, sweetheart, it’s for Father Christmas and the reindeer. See? The mince pie is a good snack, and the reindeer likes carrots for their big teeth. And the milk stops Father Christmas getting thirsty. I think you’ve been a good girl this year, so I bet he’ll bring you lots of lovely things just like you deserve.”
Louis’ heart had melted into a puddle by now, and he sniffed, a little emotional at the sweet moment happening in front of his eyes. It didn't matter that Harry seemed to have no idea he was pregnant, not in that very moment. It was all about them, and Ivy, experiencing Ivy’s first Christmas together, starting a tradition that would hopefully continue for many years to come. He quickly wiped at his eyes when Harry turned away, standing up and popping Ivy onto his hip.
“C’mere, Lou.” Louis got to his feet and walked over to his family who were now stood by the Christmas tree. “I love you both very much, I’m so happy to be celebrating Christmas with you two this year.”
“We love you too,” Louis replied, knowing he meant the message from the three of them, not just the two Harry could see. “First family Christmas of many, darling, I promise. Got a kiss for Daddy, Ivy?”
Ivy leaned in and gave Louis a bit of a wet kiss on his lips, laughing when he pulled a funny face afterwards, giving the same to Harry who pulled a similarly silly face just to draw a smile out of his daughter. “Time for beddy byes, darling, or Father Christmas won’t come.”
“Will he come for me?” Louis asked, and Harry just raised an eyebrow, looking back at Louis over his shoulder.
“Give me about half an hour and come into our bedroom and find out.” Harry ended his teasing statement with an exaggerated wink and turned straight back to their daughter, kissing her cheek as he climbed the final few stairs, leaving a dumbfounded and slightly horny Louis in his wake.
Louis blinked at the clock on the oven, wanting to cry when he saw it was still only seven in the morning on Christmas Day. It hadn’t been his over excited baby daughter who had woken him up at a godforsaken hour. Oh no. It was his over excited twenty three year old husband. He’d managed to keep Harry in bed until just after six, but Harry had given up shortly after, springing up to grab their daughter from her cot despite Louis’ protestations that they should let her sleep for a bit longer given she had no idea what day it was. It fell on deaf ears, and Louis just sighed, following his bubbly husband and daughter down the stairs, yawning wearily.
They made quick work of helping a overwhelmed Ivy open her gifts, the little girl preferring to eat the wrapping paper surrounding her rather than paying attention to the colourful plastic toys, and variety of books they’d bought. Still, Harry had a lot of fun opening each of them, exclaiming excitedly about them and showing Ivy before he set them to one side. They hadn’t gone too mad, and the gifts were just enough to give her new things to play with without being too spoilt. Louis felt pleased he’d managed to rein Harry in a little bit on their numerous shopping trips.
“Hurry up, Lou, I wanna do our gifts!”
Louis sighed and grabbed a black bag from the cupboard, opening it up before he walked into the living room, gathering up the paper and sellotape around the floor, even pulling a piece up from underneath Ivy’s babygro clad bum. When he was done, he set it to the side and sat opposite Harry on the floor, who’d now dragged his daughter back into his lap, a shiny green present between her hands.
“Happy Christmas, Daddy!” Harry cried, grinning madly at Louis as he encouraged Ivy to hand over the present, already covered in a bit of baby dribble. Louis took it and smiled back at his husband and daughter, thanking them both. He tore into it and grinned when he opened the box to find the new football boots he’d been eyeing up, something he hadn’t been able to justify the expense of, so the fact Harry had saved up and bought them anyway meant a lot to him.
“Oh Haz… thank you, babe! I really love them.”
“They’re the ones you wanted, yeah?”
“Yeah, definitely! God, I can’t wait to get out there and have a kickabout now, thanks, love.” He got onto his knees and leaned in, kissing Harry and Ivy quickly, grinning back down at the bright blue Adidas boots. He reached behind him and picked up a not-so-beautifully wrapped package for Harry, popping it on the carpet in front of him. “Um, Merry Christmas, Haz.” He lifted Ivy from Harry’s lap as he began to peel back the paper gently, the antithesis of how he’d ripped open Ivy’s parcels.
Out tumbled the leather satchel Harry had been eyeing up every time they’d gone to town. Louis knew he thought he’d been subtle about it, but Harry’s heart eyes every time he saw the chocolate brown leather bag had easily given him away. Louis knew it was the right size for all his folders and paperwork he had to take around when he was with clients for his event planning business, and the way Harry was staring at it now made the effort he’d gone to sneakily buy it completely worth it. Suddenly, though, Harry burst into tears and covered his face with his hands.
“Oh, don’t cry darling-” Louis said, shuffling across, resting a hand on Harry’s knee to calm his emotional husband. A crying Harry was a common thing anyway, but when he was pregnant, Harry’s emotions were off the charts, and he often cried at the drop of a hat.
“Louis, I- oh my god. Thank you so much.” Ivy surged forwards and ashed her little hands down on it, looking up at her papa with wide eyes trying to work out what the bag was. He wiped at his eyes, sniffing before he took a deep breath to steady himself. “How did you know?”
“Spotted you looking at it every time we were in that store. I know you wanted it for work, right?”
“Yeah… god. You’re amazing, you know that?” Harry carefully put it down on the floor next to him and leaned in, making sure he didn't nudge Ivy as they kissed slowly, Harry’s cheeks still damp from his tears.
“That’s not all. Wait there.” Louis plonked their daughter on the floor between Harry’s legs, watching the pair of them playing with a few strands of ribbon on the floor as he darted out of the room, grabbing the parcel he’d secreted away under the stairs where he knew Harry wouldn’t find it. He walked back in to find Ivy sat with a shiny gold bow stuck to her forehead, Harry laughing gently at his daughter. “Here you go, sweetheart. It’s for both of you, actually. Merry Christmas.”
“What’s Daddy got us, hey?” Harry helped Ivy grab hold of the end of a piece of paper and watched her tear it away, baby clothes tumbling out onto the floor. Harry smiled at the colourful items before he held them up, frowning at the size. “Um, Louis…”
Louis’ heart was thudding in his chest now as Harry held up the items suitable only for a tiny newborn baby, in varying colours of the rainbow. He’d very much enjoyed his trip to BabyGap to buy the new things, and he’d spent far more money than he’d ever intended to. Ivy grabbed at one, trying to shove it in her mouth before Harry snatched it back, an odd expression on his face. Louis wondered if things were finally clicking for Harry, that he was realising exactly why Louis had bought these clothes.
“Louis, seriously? I mean, I know you find shopping for Ivy a bit tricky, but even so… this is ridiculous, even for you!” Louis felt gobsmacked as Harry flicked through, pulling out the item that Louis felt was the icing on the cake… a purple onesie in Ivy’s current size with ‘ Best Big Sister’ emblazoned on the front in silver glitter. “Oh for god’s sakes…”
“What? It’s lovely, isn’t it? I loved the colour…”
“Do you not look at anything, Lou?!” He turned it around, stretching out the fabric to show off the slogan across the chest. “She’s our only child, Louis. Honestly. This is why you’re not allowed to go shopping on your own!” He threw the clothes onto the floor and stood up, leaving a dumbstruck Louis sat on the floor, Ivy clutching a piece of wrapping paper, shaking it around as she squealed in utter delight.
Louis shook his head, deciding to give up. Even with it directly in front of his face, Harry clearly had no idea what was going on. That, or he just didn't want to see. Louis was sure that soon enough, Harry would realise and he’d be happy about the pregnancy. He’d probably even laugh at how naive he’d been, how blinkered his view was. Hopefully, anyway.
A few hours later, Harry had cheered up again and was dancing around the kitchen in his Christmas jumper, singing away to himself. He’d moaned at it being more snug than he’d remembered as he’d pulled it down over the small swell of his tummy, but Louis had kept his mouth shut, just shrugging, blaming it on the mince pies and sausage rolls he and Harry had been sharing every night instead of the obvious fact it was their new baby making Harry’s clothes tight.
Harry had dressed Ivy in her little Mrs Christmas outfit that he’d bought her and even Louis had to admit she was the cutest thing he’d ever seen. She had a velvety red dress on, complete with white tights, shiny red shoes and the few curls she had were held back with a little red headband. She looked like the epitome of Christmas, and Harry couldn’t wait to show her off to their families who were coming around for Christmas dinner in a short while.
Louis had been ordered out of the kitchen, and was entertaining his daughter, making sure she didn't get into too much trouble, or dirty her dress before everyone could see her and take some photos. Home Alone 2 was playing on the TV in the background, and Louis was rearranging the presents under the tree, pulling the ones for his youngest siblings to the front, knowing they’d been impatient for their gifts, as was their want.
“Oi, come here, little monkey,” he called, chasing after Ivy, who was almost at the kitchen doorway by now, her hands and knees working in tandem to get her to destination as quickly as she could. She stopped and used the dresser to stand up, reaching for the pile of baby clothes Harry had left there, paying them no more attention after he’d pretty much told Louis off. “Well, I thought they were a good idea, love. Thought it might make your Daddy realise that he’s pregnant, that you’re going to be a big sister. But maybe he’s more naive than I thought.”
Louis stepped a few paces away and stuck his head into the kitchen, smiling at the sight of his husband with a pinny wrapped around his hips, chopping the carrots on the board in front of him. “Yes, love?”
“Can you get the wine I asked you to get the other night?”
Louis gulped, realising this was quite probably going to start another argument, but he ploughed on, knowing it was for the best. “Uh… I didn’t get it?”
“What do you mean, you didn't get it? You literally left the house the other night just to buy that wine. What did you buy instead?”
“A tin of Quality Street.” Louis swallowed, trying to keep a straight face. He knew if he’d bought the wine that Harry his requested, his own personal favourite, that he’d indulge in more than just a glass, and in his state, he couldn’t allow that to happen, especially if Harry was none the wiser about his pregnancy. “Sorry, I just got distracted…”
Harry just exhaled slowly, his eyes closing, hands stilled on the knife. “Right. Well, it’ll be squash and coke all around then, won’t it?” He gave Louis a tight smile and turned back to his chopping, let Louis slip back out just as the doorbell rang. “Are you getting that?”
“Yeah, me and Ivy will answer it. I’m sorry, love.” He picked up his little girl from the floor and set her on his hip before he walked to the door, opening it with a big grin. Ivy squealed loudly when she saw her Nanny Anne stood on the doorstep, along with Robin and Gemma. Louis grinned, handing over his daughter to Anne who grabbed her eagerly, holding her close against her coat. “Merry Christmas guys, come in!” He stepped away and let his in-laws into his home, kissing Anne and Gemma’s cheeks and shaking Robin’s hand.
They walked in as Harry emerged from the kitchen, grinning widely when he saw his family, and his daughter in his mum’s arms. Louis couldn’t help but notice Harry definitely had a glow about him, and he just looked stunning as he headed over, greeting everyone with cuddles and kisses as he always did. He stood next to Louis afterwards, an arm around his husband’s waist as the family removed their coats and shoes, walking into the living room. They all sat on the sofas and Louis and Harry quickly sorted out cups of tea for everyone, explaining they’d wait for Louis’ family before they did any present opening.
Luckily, the doorbell rang again only half an hour later, and Harry answered the door this time, walking back into the living room with Ernest and Doris on his hips, both children cuddling up to their brother-in-law clad in festive jumpers, with antler headbands on their head. They waved shyly at Louis as Harry set them down, and Louis knelt, letting his youngest siblings run at him.
“Hello, love, Merry Christmas,” Jay said, kissing Louis’ head as he hugged his baby brother and sister. “The girls said they’ll call you from Mark’s later on, they’re sorry they couldn’t be here today.” Louis just nodded and got back up, shaking hands with Dan, who was now greeting Harry’s family too. Ivy was relishing in all of the attention from her family, and was crawling around the floor, no doubt ruining the knees of her formerly pristine snow-white tights. “Oh, I bought some wine, I’ll pop it in the kitchen!”
Louis groaned, wondering how he was going to get out of Harry drinking a glass of that now without making his pregnant state too obvious. Instead, he gave his mum a tight smile, calling out thanks as she wandered off to put it away. He turned back to his daughter and siblings, smiling at the three children in front of him.
“Who’s ready for some presents?” Louis called, and Doris and Ernest ran off towards the Christmas tree, Jay and Dan just managing to haul them back in time before they grabbed gifts not intended them. “I’ll be Father Christmas, then…” he mumbled as he settled down next to the tree, reaching for the first gift.
“Do you want a hand?” Louis asked as Harry started plate up the food, making sure each one had an equal amount on, bar the smallest children’s plates of course. They had their own special melamine Christmas plates that Harry had found on another of his shopping trips, happily shoving 3 of them into their trolley, with matching cups and bowls too. Louis had fonded over Harry’s cuteness over something as small as Christmas themed plates.
“Thanks, sweetheart. Can you cut up the kids food, I’ve already served theirs so it can cool, but it’d be good if it’s ready for them to eat.” Harry nodded towards the table where the three plates were sat, and Louis walked over, grabbing a knife and fork on the way, making quick work of chopping the food into bitesize chunks and drizzling a little gravy over it. There wasn’t a lot of Ivy’s plate, mainly soft veggies and a few small roast potatoes covered in gravy given she hadn’t shown much interest in meat just yet.
Louis took them through and set them down on the beautifully decorated Christmas dining table, a small extender table sat at one end thanks to the amount of people. Harry had set up Ivy’s highchair next to his own seat, and there was even little place card names on the festive napkins Harry had laid out. He smiled at the sight, and imagined next year the four of them sat eating together, just him, Harry and their children. The thought settled happily in his chest as Harry walked through, another two plates in his hands.
“Grab any plates Lou, they’re all the same, Gems doesn’t have any sprouts on it though, so don’t get that wrong. I didn't put any on mine either, made me feel a bit sick when I dished them up so I thought I’d leave it.” Louis’ eyebrows flew up at that remark, knowing it was another pregnancy aversion for Harry that he’d missed yet again. Before long, the table was set and Louis called for the family before collecting his daughter from her auntie Gemma and putting her into the highchair, fastening a festive bib around her neck to protect her beautiful dress.
Gemma slid into the seat next to her brother, and Louis was opposite his husband, sat next to Anne, Robin and Dan taking their places at either end of table, Jay with the twins on either side of her next to Anne. It was a bit of a squish but everyone seemed happy enough with the arrangement, cooing excitedly over the beautiful meal, taking it in turns to pass the gravy and cranberry sauce. Harry was already feeding Ivy, who had a piece of carrot wedged in her fist. There was laughter as everyone popped their crackers, shoving paper hats onto their heads, listening as terrible jokes were read out, Harry the only one laughing at them. The excitement of his daughter eating wasn’t something that had worn off for Harry, and he’d promised that she’d never eat jarred food, instead making and pureeing her all of their own meals, freezing them in little boxes he’d bought specially. He was in his element, and Louis loved watching him be such a natural father. He shivered slightly at the thought of watching Harry with yet another baby in a few months time, and smiled to himself, pouring a puddle of gravy onto his plate when Gemma passed it across the table to him.
“Ooh, yes please, think I deserve a glass today,” Harry smiled, holding out his empty glass to Robin who poured in a good measure of the rich, red liquid. Louis just watched with wide eyes as Harry swirled it around, setting it down before he had a sip much to his relief. He made a snap decision a moment later and reached across the table for the salt, purposely knocking over Harry’s glass, the wine bleeding into the table cloth.
“Oh, Louis, for goodness sake!” Harry cried as he jumped up, blotting the wine with a bundle of napkins, Gemma jumping in to help. “What is wrong with you today, Lou?” Louis just shrugged as he picked up the gravy boat, letting Gemma swipe the cloth underneath it.
Harry was more upset at the fact there was no more wine left for him since between the adults, they’d used the bottle. Louis had practically run into the kitchen to mix him an orange juice and lemonade, another favourite of Harry’s, and he’d received a forgiving kiss for his actions, grateful he’d diverted yet another pregnancy disaster.
Everyone chatted easily as they ate, devouring the food Harry had spent hours preparing for them. Louis noticed his husband had changed into the ‘Elf’ t-shirt Louis had jokingly bought him, probably far too hot in the kitchen in his thick woolly jumper once the cooking was underway. Ivy was bashing her little hands on her tray by now, and clapped her hands, making everyone laugh at her big smile. She blew Louis a kiss which he returned, and he shared a secret smile with Harry across the table. Louis mouthed ‘love you’ at Harry, and his husband blushed, turning back to his food.
Harry kept itching his arm as he brushed up against a fluffy silver jumper Gemma was wearing, and had a frown on his face as he did so, trying to join in the conversation as well as entertain Ivy. As soon as Louis was done eating, he stood up and rounded the table, picking up his daughter and releasing her from her bib before he sat her on his knee, entertaining her with a clean napkin so Harry had a bit of a break. He didn't stop scratching at his arm though, and in a moment of silence around the table, he blurted out his thoughts as he scooted his chair slightly further away from his sister.
“Bloody hell, Gem, I hate that stupid jumper. It made me itchy before, do you remember? When I was pregnant with Ivy, and I couldn’t- oh… oh my GOD.” His eyes flew open and he looked at Louis, his jaw dropped as everything finally fell into place. “Oh my...”
“And... there it is.” Louis grinned triumphantly and sat back, still bouncing their daughter on his knee as everyone looked between them in confusion, trying to work out what was going on.
“You knew ?!”
“And you didn't?” Harry just shrieked and slammed his hands on the table, making everyone jump.
“You didn't think to tell me, Louis?!”
“I tried! Bloody hell, I haven’t stopped trying to tell you for a week or so, Haz!”
“Is someone going to clue us in?” Anne asked, taking Ivy from Louis now, the little girl getting restless now.
“I… uh, I think… oh god-” Harry sighed, rubbing his hands over his face before he dropped them back into his lap, looking over at Louis again. “How the hell did I just not figure it out? Oh god, it’s been right in front of my face the whole time, what if I did something wrong, or-”
Louis could sense he was starting to panic and he went to get up, his plans foiled by Harry’s sister who had put a calming hand on her brother’s forearm, anchoring him back in reality for a moment.
“H, whatever it is, we’re all here, okay? You’ve got all of us. So… will you let us in on the secret?”
“Well, um, apparently I’m pregnant,” Harry confessed, a small smile crossing his face as he said the words aloud for the first time. “Wow…” He looked down and cupped the swell of his belly, biting his lip before he locked eyes with Louis. “We’re having another baby, Lou? You really think I’m pregnant?”
“I do. It’s the same as before… your aversion to things you usually like, being tired all the time, peeing all the livelong day, sore chest… and you’re more emotional than usual. I put two and two together last week when Ivy laid down on you and your chest hurt. It was the first sign when you were pregnant with Ivy, and then everything else just kind of fell into place. Plus... you’ve got a little bump, babe.” He pushed back from his chair and came round the table, pulling Harry to his feet and resting his palm on the slight bump. “See?”
“Oh my god…” It came out as just a whisper, tears springing up in his eyes now as his hand came down and rested on top of Louis’. “Louis, we’re having another baby… Ivy’s only ten months old…”
“So? We can do this, sweetheart. We love that little girls to bits, and we’re going to love this new baby just as much.”
They turned around at the silence that fell, the eyes of all their family and friends fixed on them now.
“Congratulations!” Jay cried, and Harry burst into tears again, pulling Louis close and crying into his neck as everyone started hugging each other, thinking it was the best news they could have ever had at Christmas. Harry eventually pulled away, a wobbly smile on his lips, hand still pressed onto his belly as he was taken by his mum into a cuddle, listening to her whispered words of congratulations. Ivy was now with Robin, who was sitting back, taking it all in, letting the little girl play with the hem of his Christmas jumper, entirely unaware she was going to be a big sister.
“We can book an appointment for you next week, love, get everything checked out?” Harry nodded, and Gemma got up, letting Louis take her seat next to his husband, their fingers laced together and resting on Louis’ leg. “You’re happy about this, yeah?”
“Of course I am, Lou. You know I’ve always wanted a big family with you… I just… I’m really pregnant again, Lou. I’m having your baby.” They both laughed again, leaning towards each other, pressing their foreheads together before they shared a sweet kiss. “We’re gonna be daddies again.”
“Yeah, we are, sweetheart. And you realising is the best Christmas present you could have ever given me. I love you, so so much.”
“I love you too, Lou.” Everyone started to clear the table around them, leaving just Louis and Harry, and the three children, Ivy now back in her highchair. “And someone’s gonna be a big sister, aren’t you darling?!” Ivy screeched and bashed the tray again, not understanding a word being said to her but it made her parents laugh, realising soon enough they’d be doing this all over again with a newborn baby.
“Maybe you’ll have a quiet one next time,” Gemma mused, the gathered adults chuckling softly as they couldn’t drag their eyes off the beautiful little girl.
“They’re Louis’ kids… they don’t come quiet,” Harry joked, making Louis gasp in mock indignation. “I wouldn’t have them any other way.”
Five days later
Louis shut and locked the front door behind him as Harry carried their sleeping daughter into the hallway and up the stairs to her bedroom. It had been a very emotional afternoon, and the little girl had fallen asleep on the way home in her car seat. Louis headed into the kitchen and made two cups of tea before he padded up the stairs with the cups in his hands, avoiding the creaky stair as he didn't want to wake Ivy up just yet.
Her door was pulled to so Louis bypassed it, walking straight into their bedroom, nudging the door open with his toe. He grinned at the sight that greeted him. Harry had divested himself of his shirt and was stood in front of their mirror, turning every which way so he could look at the belly he hadn’t been able to stop touching since he’d realised it was a baby bump on Christmas day. He put the hot mugs down on his chest of drawers as he watched Harry with curious eyes.
“I’m sure I was much bigger than this at twenty one weeks with Ivy,” Harry mused, cupping his big hands on either side of his bump, pushing it out a little bit, making himself laugh. “I just… I can’t believe this is real, Lou, it’s so surreal.” He stopped looking and walked over to the bed, climbing on and laying next to Louis, who immediately starting kissing the bare skin of Harry’s tummy. “Can I have the scan picture please, babe?”
Louis nodded and reached for his jacket, pulling the scan picture out of his inside pocket before he handed it to Harry, grinning at the sight of the perfectly formed little human being happily ensconced in his husband’s belly. Louis carried on kissing down Harry’s tummy as Harry stared in awe at the photo, the pair still coming to terms with the exciting news they’d received just over an hour ago.
“Hello, my little boy,” Louis whispered to Harry’s tummy, a gentle hand resting on the top of his bump. “I’m so happy you’re in there, and I can’t wait to meet you in a few months. I already love you so much, and I can’t believe you’re so big already. Gonna be my little footie star, aren’t you?”
“He can be whatever he wants to be, Lou,” Harry gently chided, his hands running through Louis’ soft hair. “But I can’t believe we’re going to be lucky enough to have one of each. That’s the dream, isn’t it? A son and a daughter?”
“It is, love. You’re making me the happiest man in the whole world, do you know that?”
“I’m just so glad everything’s okay. I really am. I think I’m still in shock a bit, that I got to five months and didn't have a clue. Honestly, how dense was I?”
“Pretty dense,” Louis laughed, propping his head up on one hand, leaning on one elbow now so he could look at his husband’s glowing face, eyes still shining with the joy of the past few hours. “I still can’t believe you didn't realise you were pregnant. I honestly thought it was so obvious, especially when I gave you the new onesie for Ivy on Christmas morning…”
“Well now I know what you were up, I feel even more stupid, but there we go.” Harry just giggled and brought the picture up again. “I wonder if he’s gonna be a mini you, since Ivy is mainly me? I hope he is, I’ll have the most handsome boys in the world.”
“He’s our little miracle, alright.” Louis meant that in more ways than one. Harry had had quite a traumatic delivery with Ivy when she was born, and they were warned that getting pregnant again might be quite hard for them, so they’d all but resigned themselves to having just the one child, sad but happy they’d been blessed enough with one baby. Now, though, fate had smiled upon them again and given them their much longed for second child, albeit a little earlier than planned. Harry had sobbed when the sonographer had given them the news that their second baby was a boy, but he’d soon laughed when Louis fistpumped the air, secretly having wanted a boy, a brother for his little girl. “And so are you, for giving me two perfect children. I love you, both of you.” He kissed Harry’s lips, then bent to press another kiss to Harry’s belly button, hoping somehow his son knew it was for him.
Harry pulled Louis down so his head was resting on Harry’s chest, their limbs all tangled together in a mess on top of the covers. Their hands were placed on either side of Harry’s bump, gently supporting it as they spoke, keeping their voices low so they didn't disturb Ivy. “We made another baby, Lou.”
“We did, my darling,” Louis mumbled, eyes fluttering shut in the warm embrace of his husband. “Made from love.”