Turning every which way to assess the situation she saw staring back at her, Misty tried her hardest to contain the noise that threatened to leave her at the sight she saw in the mirror. She couldn't seem to wrap her brain around it, and scrutinised her body from every angle to make sure that her eyes weren't just playing tricks on her. When she was sure that the sight was definitely real, Misty reached for her phone and immediately opened up a new message and typed urgently to Zoe.
ZOE can you come up here please?! I need your help!
She kept the text vague for the moment, knowing that Zoe had been helping Cordelia with the decorating of the Christmas tree all afternoon and she did not want to risk any possible chance that Cordelia could see it and figure out what was going on. Misty had worked too hard to keep this secret from Cordelia for this long, intending to reveal all to her on Christmas Day in the early morning hours, when time seemed to slow down just for them and they spent a few quiet, lazy hours by themselves in bed, basking in sleepy good morning kisses and cuddling to keep warm. But as reality set in for Misty and she finally recognized just how different she looked, she knew she couldn't hide the arrival of their new addition for the two more weeks before Christmas came.
They had been planning this for almost a year to the day with several late night conversations, after Misty had been given the most beautiful engagement ring from Cordelia earlier that Christmas Day afternoon and confirming that it was what they both wanted one hundred percent, and it was the most logical next step for them even before marriage, as they'd agreed that when they did finally get married, they wanted it to be a whole family affair.
They'd even gone as far as choosing a donor and a doctor, and Misty had almost immediately begun rounds of treatment and taking every vitamin under the sun to make sure her body was ready for their little miracle until one day, two months into their seemingly smooth process, Cordelia sat Misty down and revealed that she had gotten too anxious and was no longer ready to continue with the plan, and hoped that Misty would be okay with putting a pause on it all until the feelings passed. Misty had tried everything to see if there was anything she could say or do to quell her fears, but Cordelia had insisted that there was nothing and it was just what she felt they needed for the moment.
She had eventually conceded, though she couldn't deny the part of her that was heartbroken because of it and the non-reasonings Cordelia had given her for asking it, even though she had always been aware of and respected Cordelia's anxiety induced boundaries and walls that she put up whenever she felt a spiral coming on, no matter what had caused it. For weeks on end after that their love seemed strained to the other members of the coven, and without consciously intending to Misty distanced herself from her fiancée, and that had been the start of what Mallory had once called their very first "rough patch".
Simple distance eventually became sarcastic under-breath remarks which turned to fighting over the silliest of things, all of which never seemed to end in peaceful resolution, but instead with one or both of the lovers vacating their bed each night to sleep apart after the fights. Eventually, half-assed apologies were exchanged and they continued on in what had become their new, distant normal, until one day three months into the awkwardness that had grown between them Cordelia had run to Misty in the middle of tending to the greenhouse in tears, saying that she couldn't take it anymore and that she was sorry for whatever it was that she had done, and that she just wanted to have them back. Misty had equally as tearfully forgiven her and apologized just as profusely with no hesitations, and from that day forward they worked together to power through Cordelia's fears and rebuilding their relationship, until eventually she could walk by baby stores and see parents to newborns in public without Misty having to talk her through an anxiety attack.
She had decided to wait until Cordelia brought it up first before suggesting they make another try, and finally in June that year, after a celebratory end of the schoolyear barbecue when everyone else was exhausted and passed out in various positions around the house and sprawling backyard, Cordelia pulled Misty aside in private and gave her the softest, most romantic kiss they had shared in months before quietly confessing that she was really ready this time, that she wasn't going to back out anymore and to call the doctor to set up another appointment.
Life had gotten in the way since that night, and it wasn't until August that Misty had a chance to make the necessary phone calls, in secret when she had decided that the only appropriate gift she could give Cordelia for Christmas his year was the gift of the knowledge that she was going to finally become a mother. Luckily she had gotten another appointment quickly and because she had already been taking all of the necessary medication, Misty found herself faced with a positive pregnancy test on their bathroom counter by early September.
Since that night she had confided in Zoe about her plan, and they spent many hours on Zoe's computer reading blogs and watching YouTube videos of other mothers sharing their experiences of being pregnant, helping Misty make sense of all that her near future would hold.
Suddenly pulled from her thoughts Misty heard footsteps at the door and quickly tugged her shirt down over her belly, whirling around to see Zoe at the door with a grin on her face.
"What's up?! You okay?" She asked, her voice hushed in case someone were to pass by and overhear.
Misty simply nodded, biting her lip nervously. "I... Yeah, of course! But you gotta... Just look at this." She proceeded to lift her shirt again and arched her back a little to dramaticize the change in her body, and Zoe had to hold a hand to her mouth to cover any excited screams that threatened to leave her throat.
"Misty, holy shit! When...?! Oh my god! When did that happen?! You look... Wow!"
"God, I dunno, feels like overnight... I didn't know I could show this early, I wasn't expectin' to look like this for at least two more weeks after all we read... What do I do? She's definitely gonna feel it in bed tonight, if she hasn't caught on already. Oh, lord, what if she already knows?! I was tryna save this for Christmas, but if this is the rate I'm growin' they'll be huge by Christmas Day... Help!" Misty laughed a breathless, tense laugh, at which Zoe simply sighed and squeezed Misty's arms in an encouraging, light gesture.
"Relax, Mist, you're fine! If she had noticed anything she definitely would have told me already, and she's been spending so many nights up late that by the time she's in bed she's probably delirious and just wants to sleep! Hey, she's putting the finishing touches on the tree and should be done any minute... Just go on down and hang out with her! Even if you don't want to tell her today, I know how being together calms you both down. Think on it, and I'm sure you'll come up with some kind of way to tell her that's just super sweet and romantic!"
Thanking Zoe for her encouragement Misty gave her friend a hug and proceeded to transmute down to the first floor of the academy, turning down the hallway to find Cordelia alone in their lavish sitting room, organizing a stack of books on the end of the coffee table, next to the sofa they preferred to snuggle on together, claiming it was the comfiest in the house. Misty approached her slowly, gazing at the stack of books on the table Cordelia had just laid down and tracing her fingertips across the gorgeous hardcover copy of The Night Before Christmas Cordelia put out every year in the hopes someone would ask her to read it.
"Y'know..." She spoke softly, giggling when Cordelia jumped and then settled back into a smile at the sound of Misty's voice, "I've never actually read any of these. Missed last year's reading when Stevie came to visit, and before that... Just didn't have the right kinda childhood to've been read stories about Santa Claus."
Cordelia pouted softly at the tidbit of information, stepping closer to her fiancée to hug her sweetly around her neck, pausing briefly on her way backing out of the hug to give Misty a soft, lingering kiss on the lips.
"Well, my darling... I don't want you to have to go another minute this Christmas without knowing how The Night Before Christmas goes. How about you and I curl up on the couch, grab a blanket and two cups of hot chocolate and you let me read it to you?" She offered softly, her fingertips still lingering at Misty's chest, dancing featherlight circles over her skin.
"I would absolutely love that, sweetpea." Misty grinned at the adorable proposition, and she felt a few tears spring to her eyes at the tenderness Cordelia always treated her with, nodding and backing up from the embrace and heading to the kitchen before she could catch her hormone-fuelled emotions and wonder what was wrong.
A few minutes later she returned to the living room with dry eyes and two steaming cups of hot chocolate in her grasp, turning the corner to see Cordelia had dimmed the ceiling lights and let the Christmas tree provide them with all of the reading light they'd need, and the Supreme herself was curled up underneath a ridiculously soft-looking green blanket patterned with gingerbread men, pulling a corner of it back when she saw Misty come into view and lovingly patting the seat next to her.
"Did it just the way you like it... May or may not have slipped a little something in there just to end your night off right." Misty giggled as she double checked the mugs to make sure she handed the spiked one to Cordelia and kept the plain for herself, setting them both down on the coffee table in front of them and snuggling up by her fiancée's side, immediately wrapping her arms around her waist and laying her head on her chest, smiling softly when Cordelia let out a chuckle.
"Don't fall asleep on me, okay?" She joked, reaching one hand up to begin to comb her fingers through Misty's curls as the other opened the book on her lap, turning once more to her lover and making sure she was ready to start.
"I won't, honeybee, I promise."
Misty did her best to listen to the story as Cordelia began to read each page, her voice soft and low in her ear, but she couldn't help but let her mind wander every few minutes with possibilities and ideas as to how she could give Cordelia her gift and make it as romantic and exciting as possible, knowing that was what Cordelia deserved after waiting so long for it to be a reality.
Eventually, when Cordelia had just reached the part where the father hears the reindeer on the roof, Misty came to the conclusion that she really didn't need an elaborate plan, and if she was going to start showing more and more before Christmas she just needed to do it before Cordelia figured it out first.
Heart pounding in her ears Misty gently untucked herself from Cordelia's embrace and straightened up, swallowing repeatedly as her throat began to tighten nervously.
"What's wrong, honey? Something I said?" She asked softly, sensing Misty's nervous energy and wanting to do whatever she could to quell it.
"Nah, that was beautiful honey. You just made me feel all festive, and I just remembered somethin'. Would it be okay if I maybe gave you one of your Christmas gifts early? It came earlier than I thought, and it's gonna be pretty hard to hide so I'd rather give it to ya now, if you don't mind!"
"Oh? Yes, that's alright my love." Cordelia gave her a questioning smile, her gaze flitting around them as she tried to spy out whatever it was that Misty was about to give her. When she agreed Misty chuckled nervously once more and gave Cordelia a soft, deep kiss, cupping her beautiful face in her calloused hands and stroking her thumbs across soft cheeks, gazing into those eyes that she loved more than anything else on earth.
"Okay, so you gotta close your eyes or I can't give it to ya! And no peeking, alright? I been planning this a long time and I can't have ya gettin' too eager and ruining the surprise!" Misty instructed, and Cordelia nodded as her eyelids closed obediently.
"'Kay, now hold out a hand for me?" Cordelia did just that, resting her hand in Misty's palm up. Taking one final anxious breath Misty shifted just a little so she could pull her shirt up over her belly just enough that there was a space for Cordelia's hand to rest, and after a split second more of hesitation along with a quick prayer to God that Cordelia would react well to the news she pulled their hands slowly towards her until Cordelia's warm palm came in contact with her skin, fingers immediately forming to the curve it felt there.
"Okay, open." Cordelia's eyes shot open at the confirmation, wide and confused as her gaze flitted between Misty's face and her exposed belly, mouth dropping open in shock as what was happening seemed to finally dawn on her. Misty chuckled at the bewildered look on her fiancée's face, unable to help herself as she leaned in and cupped her cheek with her free hand, smiling as she kissed Cordelia over and over.
"Misty, what... What are you... I'm...?" She stammered, confused and unable to get a full string of words out. Misty simply nodded at each sentence fragment Cordelia spoke, her uncontainable smile becoming contagious until Cordelia couldn't help but smile too, though she was still confused and waiting anxiously for Misty to explain why in the hell she was holding her belly and why it seemed to feel as though there was something, or someone, occupying it.
"Merry Christmas, Dee... You're gonna be a mommy. We're gonna have a baby." Misty finally spoke, her voice low and sweet as she revealed the news in words.
Cordelia stayed frozen for a moment, processing the words until she suddenly pulled her hand back from Misty's belly as if the touch had burned her, and Misty panicked thinking the news had been taken in the wrong way until Cordelia reached back in and wrapped her arms around Misty's shoulders in a tight, loving squeeze, sneaking kisses all along her cheek and down her neck as she did before pulling back again to stare at her, still bewildered.
"We... Really? You're pregnant?! We're really having... You're really having a baby?! ...Our baby?" She questioned, worry taking over somewhere in the back of her mind as the last question tumbled from her lips before she could stop it, having to make sure that this was all actually real, and that the baby truly was theirs.
"Mhm! I really am, an' we really are... It's our baby. We're havin' a baby. I love you, Cordelia." Misty added the final profession softly, and her voice broke by the time she reached her lover's name and she couldn't help but begin to sob as every emotion they had felt together since the start of this part of their journey overtook her, wrapping her arms around Cordelia's neck and holding her tightly, burying her face in her neck as she cried it all out.
"Oh, Misty... Honey, shhh... I love you too, angel. I love you so much, I'm so happy... Shhh, it's okay... I've got you, my love... I love you, I've got you." Cordelia comforted quietly, rubbing her back and doing everything she could to keep Misty's tears at bay. It took a few more minutes of soft touches and soothing words, but Misty finally quieted and now lay curled up against Cordelia's chest, still shivering and sniffling as she came down from the cries.
"I was so scared..." She confessed softly, "I knew you said after the barbecue that we should make another try, but after I did it and it worked I was so worried you'd be mad I went ahead without you and wouldn't want this after all, after everything we went through and all the fightin' that we did... And I started showin' so early and I wasn't gonna tell you until Christmas but I got so big so fast and I thought that if I hid it any longer and you figured it out you might've thought--" At that Cordelia pressed a finger to Misty's lips, silencing her anxious explanation.
"Shh, darling... I know. I do want this, Misty sweetheart I'm so happy. I couldn't be mad, this is what I've always wanted... And what I've always wanted with you, especially. I'm sorry I took so long to come around, I was just so afraid and I didn't want you to go through the same things that I had before, I didn't want to put you through that same pain that I'd felt just to satisfy my selfish desires. I got anxious and thought it would be best for us to pull the plug before we got hurt... But I know you and how strong you are, and I know you were ready to take the risks. I'm sorry that doing all of that hurt you in the process anyway, angel. But now it's happening for real and you're pregnant, oh my god... I can hardly believe it. How far are you, my love? When are we due?" She asked softly, finally turning her attention back to Misty's belly and beginning to rub soft, slow circles along the sliver of skin she had exposed, finally feeling for the first time just how beautiful and different her body already felt beneath her hands.
"Shhh, shhh... None of that anymore, sweetpea. All'a that doesn't matter in the slightest now, cause we're here and we get to focus on this little jellybean from now on. An' the doctor thinks I got pregnant in August but I didn't take my test until September, so I guess just about four months? He says we're due in May... the 20th, he guesses." She smiled, leaning up to press a kiss to Cordelia's jaw at the warm touch of her lover's hand.
"Four months... Almost halfway there... Wow."
"Halfway there and they're healthy as can be and happy as a clam in there! I started feelin' some of those lil flutters last week for the first time, they'll probably start to kick me like crazy soon enough. Here... Wanna see if you can feel? Doc said it might be awhile before anybody else can feel them from the outside, but maybe, just for their mommy, they'll kick just enough that you'll be able to." Misty grinned at that, scrunching her nose up adorably as she caught Cordelia's eye when calling her the name.
"Mommy... We're really gonna be mommies." Cordelia stated again, breathless. "Thank you for doing this for me, Misty... This is the greatest gift I ever could have gotten, I love you so much."
Misty grinned at Cordelia's consistent bewilderment, loving how excited she was allowing herself to be that she knew it was real and their baby was as healthy as they could be. "I love you too, Cordelia. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Misty."