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There’s nothing worse than this in between, Ginny thinks, staring at herself in the floor-length mirror. She shifts her weight, trying to ascertain if the dark purple bra fits her better than any of the others in the pile to Harry’s left. She slides her fingers beneath the strap and makes a face... because no, there’s still a space between the cup and the strap.

It doesn’t fit her — at least not yet.

For the past two weeks, she’s looked fat. Her face and body have swollen in odd places, and when Ginny looks at herself in the mirror, she doesn’t wonder why her changing body is a source of public speculation. At the moment, though, she doesn’t look pregnant; she just looks like she’s eaten nothing but butter for weeks on end while refusing to move from the sofa.

This awkward in-between phase is especially infuriating because they can’t dispel anything yet. Ginny can’t confront the shrewd stares and judgmental murmurs that follow her in Diagon Alley by announcing that she isn’t fat, thank you, she’s growing a human — she just happens to be in the yucky bit where she looks pale and bloated and sickly all the time.

The final blow to her self-esteem had arrived this morning as she’d dressed for their weekly Sunday lunch at the Burrow. Ginny’s still not sure how, but literally overnight, the tips of her breasts swelled over the cups that fit her perfectly last week. She’d only been able to stare at her reflection in the mirror of their bedroom — at the chubby little crescents bubbling over the lace — as she’d wondered why her own body now reminds her of a sausage burst from its casing.

Ginny’s never been the vain sort, but she can’t bear to watch herself bounce beneath her clothes, either. So with a determined look in her eye, she’d marched up to her husband and informed him she needed new bras before facing her parents for tea.

Harry’d responded like he has to every single one of her demands for the past two weeks: by gulping, nodding his head, and doing whatever the hell she’s asked.

Ginny hasn’t quite figured out what’s going on with his newfound sense of submission, but not for lack of trying. Harry’s shrugged off her attempts to reason through the uncharacteristic silence and brooding stares she hasn’t seen since he was fifteen. Of course, he’d never dream of being rude or unkind. He’s Harry.

Still, the whole thing — the fact that they’re actually having a baby — has been a thrilling, terrifying, unexpected whirlwind. Ginny doesn’t blame him for casting furtive glances at her puffy midsection when he thinks she’s not looking. She’s certain he hasn’t meant to hurt her feelings, either, but the wide-eyed, fearful look on his face each time has done absolutely nothing for her already plummeting self-esteem.

Thankfully, Harry’s concerns (which she’s been utterly unable to wheedle out) haven’t stopped them from shagging. Albeit much more gently. Ginny hasn’t missed the way he grips her hips less tightly, even when she’s on top. Or the way he double and triple checks it’s ok before he does anything. Or the way he slides off her as fast as he can afterwards, as if the slightest pressure might make her crumble and break.

She peers over at the man in question as he sits in a chair in the changing room. He’s hunched over on his elbows, pensively staring at his clasped hands. Ginny bites her lip as she wonders — for the thousandth time — what’s changed. He’d been so happy when she told him. He’d cried. He’d held her and told her how much he loved her and that he’d never been happier and...

No.

She swallows and blinks. She won’t let her mind go there. She’s just confused that he hasn’t looked up at her since she’s put this bra on. Which doesn’t make her feel better. Ginny huffs, turning to the side, and vows to get out of here as fast as she can. But bleh, staring at her profile only makes her feel worse...

“Looks nice,” Harry offers from his seat in the corner.

Ginny sighs as their eyes meet in the mirror. “No,” she mutters, “it doesn’t. It looks—"

“—You look beautiful,” Harry says earnestly, his eyes focused solely on her face. Like he’s trying to convince himself as much as he’s trying to convince her.

“Harry,” Ginny sighs — and although he tries to fight it, her voice breaks. “For once, can you just let me feel like rubbish?”

Shit.

There’s a pause as she swallows against the pang of hurt shooting from her chest and into her throat. She hates how easily everything upsets her these days. There’s nowhere safe. Nowhere she can hide. She cries when a mother bird feeds her babies. She sheds a tear when an old man limps down the street by himself. She bawls in a changing room when nothing fucking fits her and her husband won’t even validate her by admitting it.

Aaaand lovely, that one’s done it, she’s going off.

Ginny feels Harry before she sees him. His soothing warmth presses against her back as the first tear slips down her cheek, but she still can’t bring herself to look at him. The world swims in front of her, a hazy blur of blue carpet and her own pale, chubby reflection.

“I’m sorry,” she manages a moment later, blinking up at the lights. “This is so embarrassing. I’m—"

“No,” Harry whispers, his chin nestled on the crown of her head. “I’m the one who’s sorry.”

She gives his reflection a plain stare, pleased she’s stopped crying long enough to speak. “What have you got to be sorry for? I’m the one crying in a changing room because absolutely nothing fucking fits me, and—“

“—No,” Harry cuts across, his voice firm. She cocks her head and peers back, but the look on his face tells her not to interrupt.

“Listen,” he starts gently. “It’s just... this whole thing is....” He heaves a sigh, his eyes fluttering shut. When he looks up at her again, there’s a low, resigned quality in his voice. “You’ve got to understand, Ginny, that I’m not supposed to be here.”

She narrows her eyes. “I’m sure plenty of husbands accompany their wives into—"

“—What?” Harry looks alarmed.

Oh. She must’ve misread that.

“That’s not what I meant!” Harry insists. “I don’t care about — hang on, did you really think I’d care about being seen in here?”

Ginny just shrugs, looking away. Fine. Something else she’s been wrong about.

“I mean we’ve shagged in a changing room,” Harry continues. “More than once. Why would I suddenly care about that now?”

But between a sudden wave of nausea and how ghastly she feels standing on display like this, Ginny finds she hasn’t the patience. She gives him a plain stare. Get to the point.

“Right, right, but that’s not what we’re talking about.” Harry sighs, running a hand through his messy black hair. “Let me... let me explain, yeah?”

His concerned green eyes meet hers in the mirror, and Ginny nods back. Yeah.

Harry takes a few deep breaths to collect himself, to choose his words very, very carefully — and when he speaks again, Ginny knows he’s using deliberate emphasis.

“It’s just... I’m not supposed to be here,” Harry says, meeting her eyes. “In general. I’m not supposed to be—"

“Alive.” Ginny feels the whisper rip from her throat as a chill races up her spine.

She stares at the corner where the carpet meets the wall and tries to keep herself from crying. Again. Ginny hates this conversation, no matter how hypothetical. But at long last, she has an inkling of what he’s been going through.

“I was supposed to die when I was 17,” Harry whispers in a rush, his eyes downcast. She gets the distinct impression that, for some reason, he’s been holding this back.

“You were supposed to marry some faceless man, and I wasn’t supposed to kiss you again. I think that’s why I felt your lips when—“ He cuts himself off with a swallow, his breathing going ragged: He doesn’t want to cry right now. She gives his hand an encouraging squeeze. Harry doesn’t mind crying in front of her, but he wants to be strong; he wants to finish.

Harry lets out a delirious chuckle as the rest of the words come tumbling from his lips, even faster than the first set.

“I didn’t die, though,” he says, grinning again. “And neither did you. And I know we weren’t planning on this, but I’m... Ginny, I’m so happy.” His face splits into an enormous grin. “I’m so… I’m so happy. I never thought I’d have a family, but now we’re actually doing this, and it’s… it’s amazing, don’t get me wrong, but…”

Harry peers up at her cautiously, his hand continuing to brush against the newfound softness of her midsection. “You’ve got to understand. It’s a bit surreal, too.”

Ginny smiles back at him and glances at her stomach. Of all people, she certainly understands. Surreal is the least of it. Nearly overnight, the body she’d spent years working on and listening to and shaping has taken on a life of its own. It’s been hard — really hard — to accept that there’s an inherent grace in simply letting that go. Of abandoning that control.

“Is that why you’ve been so quiet?” Ginny ventures a moment later. It’s never been clearer they’re both been in their heads. She’s just been too distracted to notice.

“A little,” he admits, shifting his weight. “It’s just, the whole thing has been a bit abstract and mad, yeah? Like, ok, I saw the positive test, and I’ve watched you get ill, but it’s…”

Harry waves his hand and trails off; Ginny knows him well enough to know he’s searching for a metaphor.

A second later, he finds one.

Harry starts again, his voice more energetic than before. “Pretend there’s a new Firebolt being built, yeah?”

Ginny opens her mouth to wonder aloud if her husband is seriously comparing their baby to a broomstick.

He plows on before she gets that far.

“And that’s great and lovely,” Harry adds hurriedly, “but it won’t come out for a long time. I’m not the one in charge of making the Firebolt either, so all I can do is hear updates. Everyone says it will change my life when it comes out, and I believe them, but it’s hard to imagine.”

He pauses to draw a breath.

“But until a couple of weeks ago, it was a very… theoretical Firebolt,” Harry allows slowly, his eyes drifting to her stomach. “It was something that sounded amazing — but it just… it didn’t seem real. It seemed too perfect and brilliant and…”

He sucks in another deep breath, one that comes out a moment later as another delirious chuckle. “But here we are, yeah?” His thumb grazes her stomach. “There’s proof, right in front of me, that I didn’t die and Voldemort didn’t win, and you’re actually buying clothes because…” He swallows. “Because someone loves me enough to let me be a dad.”

There’s a heavy silence after his words.

Ginny shudders as the feelings wash over her — the love so fierce it’s painful, the hope so earnest it’s blinding, the swell of anything and everything she’s been fighting since they found out — but this time, she does nothing to stop the tears from flowing down her cheeks.

Harry continues staring at her stomach, oblivious (for once) to her tears. “But it’s scary, yeah?” he adds, his voice gruff. “It’s scary. Because I realized the other day that even though you’re basically showing, this could all just get ripped away from us. We could lose everything we’ve ever wanted, all before we’ve had—"

“—I know,” Ginny murmurs, eyes downcast. With a sinking feeling in her stomach, she finally understands what the circumstances and hormones have thus far failed to explain. Harry’s not scared because she’s pregnant; he’s scared because he knows there’s a chance (however small) that she might not be tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that.

In an odd reversal, she’s now the one reassuring him. Ginny wipes the tear tracks and clears her throat until Harry meets her eyes in the mirror.

“That’s not going to happen, Harry,” she says fiercely, as soon as they lock eyes. “Do you hear me? He’s here.”

She brings both of their hands over the soft swell of her lower stomach. Harry’s hand shakes slightly beneath hers. It’s almost palpable, she thinks… the way his anxieties and apprehensions are splintering, right in front of her eyes. The way his doubts are making a reluctant departure, even as they cling to the sides of his heart.

“I know you’re used to having everything go pear-shaped and watching horrible things happen,” Ginny says softly. “But, Harry... you need to believe this will work out. Because if you believe it, I’ll believe it. If we’re together on this, it’ll seem a lot less terrifying. Ok?”

She peers at her husband to see that his face has relaxed into another watery smile, his eyes flitting between her stomach and her face. Ginny grips his hand more tightly against her and feels an irrational amount of pride that it’s not shaking. Not anymore.

They stare at each other for a few minutes, grinning like fools, before Harry breaks the silence.

He?”

Ginny shrugs. In truth, she’s known for weeks. She knows it’s a boy with the same certainty she’d known Harry wouldn’t really die. With the same certainty she knows he loves her. With the same certainty she knows he always will.

Pretty sure,” she confirms, peering back at him in the mirror. Harry shudders behind her, gripping her even closer, and for several more moments, they just stand there — Ginny in an ill-fitting bra, Harry in a Weasley jumper — as the world finally, finally stops spinning. As everything starts to make sense.

As such, she’s so wrought and emotional that she doesn’t even complain when Harry flashes her a wicked wink, his lips traveling down her jaw. She doesn’t bat an eye when he brushes himself against the small of her back, his left hand coming up to caress her hip.

Harry pulls back a moment later, his eyes hooded, his breathing ragged for an entirely different reason. “Get the red,” he manages, nodding to the pile in the corner. “You’ve always looked stunning in red.”

Ginny just giggles and pushes him to the wall, her arms draped around his neck. All of a sudden, she finds she’s far more interested in Harry’s unabashed assessment of her changing body, in the proper evaluation she’s been denied for weeks.

And far less concerned with how her bra fits, after all.