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blossoming (into a new life)

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There was not a soul in London who would refute the claim that Anthony Bridgerton was every bit a family man.

He prided himself on that fact, as the eldest son of the notoriously large and tight-knit Bridgerton clan.

And, he kept having to remind himself — with no small amount of anxiety and excitement — as a father and the head of his own, albeit smaller, family.

Even now, it hardly seemed real. At nearly six months, Kate was demonstrably pregnant now, her belly round and strong with their child nestled inside. Her new condition agreed with her — her cheeks glowed, her hair was more lustrous, and her lips were even fuller than usual, which made them all the more tempting.

Anthony was not unused to seeing women in such a state, having been there to witness his mother do it seven times over. He knew how miraculous and beautiful it could be, as well as how delicate and precarious for all parties involved. One wrong move, one accident, one mistake — that was all it would take for Anthony’s world to come crashing down around him.

As such, he’d resolved to involving himself as much as possible.

He’d spoken to multiple physicians over the past few months as Kate’s condition progressed and poured into as many books as he could find on the subject — of which there were not terribly many to begin with, and he felt the medical scholars of the world should probably do something about that — and thus, he’d come to a very clear conclusion: he would do what he must to take care of Kate and make sure that her pregnancy was a successful one. He would be damned if he even came close to risking the chance of losing her.

Everything he did, he did for Kate’s wellbeing, and now for that of their child as well.

Which made it all the more infuriating that she was so incredibly cross with him.

She’d spent the past few weeks stiffly avoiding him, turning her nose up whenever he walked into a room and staring resolutely into her books, or her embroidery, or her painting. She’d never taken so many appointments in the entire time they’d been married, nor had she ever been such a socialite. It seemed all of London had descended upon Bridgerton house to fawn over her, and in turn she was out of the house every spare moment she was able. She woke late in the day and retired early to bed, leaving little time for idleness inbetween.

Bickering was one thing. They fell into it often, and it was an invigorating activity, particularly when it was clearly a precursor to something else entirely.

Real arguments, however, had never been a part of their repertoire — and Anthony had no idea what to do about it. The thought of making things worse was enough to keep him cautious — even if it meant they hadn’t truly spoken to each other beyond pleasantries in a fortnight.

As such, Anthony was of the opinion that fresh air and healthy conversation would do him well, and conveniently enough, the Duke and Duchess of Hastings had recently arrived in London. If visiting the happy couple also made a perfect excuse to escape the throes of his angry wife, then so be it.

Which was precisely how Anthony found himself in the Duke’s study, a glass of brandy in hand.

Daphne and him had enjoyed light conversation over tea and biscuits, and he’d even had a chance to play for a moment with his niece, Amelia, before Daphne had to excuse herself to nurse the child. Another responsibility Kate would have to deal with sometime soon.

It hadn’t been his first time being around a baby by any means, but watching his niece’s expressive, chubby face, the curl of her chestnut hair, it all suddenly felt… different. new. And very, very real. It warmed him from within and brought an easy smile to his face, given the new life that would grace his own in three short months.

Those thoughts, warm and pleasant as they were, only led him toward thoughts of Kate. He wondered what she was doing right at that moment. Had she already taken luncheon for the day? She was meant to be on a lowering diet to ease some of her symptoms. Was she feeling well?

In turn, these thoughts only made him remember how angry she was at him, and why he’d even bothered to visit his sister and brother-in-law in the first place.

“Alright then, out with it,” Simon said, shaking Anthony out of his reverie.

Anthony kept his eyes on the dark liquor in the bottle, swishing it absently. “What do you mean, ‘out with it’”?

“You’ve been staring at that glass as though it is trying to poison you,” he said, taking a sip of his own drink. “I can assure you, it is not.”

Anthony scoffed, though there wasn’t much heart in it. “I can assure you I’m perfectly fine,” he said, taking a heavy drink of the brandy for good measure.

Simon’s piercing gaze was as sharp as a tack, until eventually the silence caught up to Anthony and he found himself groaning, resigned.

“Kate seems to be cross with me, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.”

Simon barked out a laugh in response. “Ah, I knew it. Marital trouble.”

Anthony grumbled something unintelligible under his breath. His marriage was just fine. He was a terrific husband — when Kate was not angry with him, she loved to tell him so — and this was just a slight bump in the road. Surely, everything he’d been doing over the past few months as an expectant father was proof of this?

“I’m sure she’ll get over it soon. Being with child is a stressful time, you know. Hormones and body aches, and all that. It’s quite a sensitive condition.”

Anthony shook his head in disbelief. “Of course I know. That’s precisely why I’ve been so dedicated to making sure she takes care of herself. She was drinking four cups of tea a day before I started to intervene. Have you read of the dangers of caffeine? It is dreadful stuff.”

Simon eyed his friend warily. “I cannot say that I have. Alcohol is likely worse, isn’t it? And yet here we are.”

Anthony shook his head, his mind now swimming with thoughts of Kate and her condition. “It’s different when you’re carrying an entire life inside of you. Especially when that small, growing life exerts so much control over its host.”

Simon became contemplative. “It is not easy to have to watch our wives deal with all the difficulties of their condition, while we go about our days scot-free. We’re half the equation, after all.”

“Precisely,” Anthony grumbled. “I nearly wish I could do it all myself, and spare Kate the misery.”

“Alas, we are not seahorses, and nature is not so malleable,” Simon chuckled. “Perhaps the brandy is already getting to you.”

“Perhaps,” Anthony stifled his own laughter, only to quickly grow serious again. “I just wish I could do more.

“Have you been helping her… er, relax?”

Anthony’s brow quirked. “Are you suggesting I rub her feet?”

Simon coughed, and Anthony might have sworn his face was becoming impossibly red. “No, uh— I mean, that might be a good idea. Can’t possibly hurt. But I meant more, ah… intimate activities. In my… experience, limited as it may be, women become quite… insatiable during this time.”

Anthony’s eyes widened. Oh.

The two men might have spoken about such things freely in their youth, but now that they were both married— now that Simon was married to his sister—

Anthony stood up abruptly, making his way towards the nearest window to stare out at the courtyard, unable to meet his friend’s eye.

It hadn’t been a problem at first, any intimacy between them. But as she’d grown more delicate, and her symptoms more complex, Anthony had decided to let her take the lead. Which, given her exhaustion and general temperament, meant things had more or less cooled. This wouldn’t have been a problem for him so long as it meant Kate was content and satisfied — but now he wondered if he’d managed to fail at that as well.

He sighed, his eyes still watching the view outside the window, drifting instinctually in the direction of the Bridgerton home.

Anthony grimaced. “I will take your advice and ask that we end the conversation here. I need not know any more details about the intimacies of your marriage.”

Simon reached Anthony’s side and patted him on the back. “Kate is quite the ferocious woman, so it could be anything, but… How about just talking to her openly? That seems a good enough place to start. Always works for me.”

Anthony nodded, a burst of pride reaching his heart and warming him from inside. His wife was quite ferocious indeed.

All he needed to do was set things right with her, and things could go back to how they had been before. It couldn’t be that hard, could it?

“Say, when did you become such an expert on the politics of marriage?”

“You Bridertons are all more alike than you think. One must learn quickly if they wish to keep up.”

Anthony laughed, suddenly seeing the world with new eyes. “You’ll send Daphne my regards?”

Simon nodded, and Anthony made no haste in his turn out of the study and back towards his home.

There was a very important conversation he needed to have with his wife.

 


 

“No more calls for the day?”

Kate was sitting near the window when Anthony entered her sitting room, her dark hair elegantly pulled back at the nape of her neck. She never wore bonnets or caps indoors anymore, propriety be damned, and it still managed to thrill him every single time he managed a glance at her.

It took every ounce of his willpower not to cross over to her side and press his lips to the smooth skin in greeting. The way he’d done a million times before… well, all of this. She briefly met his eyes before turning back to her book and humming noncommittally in greeting.

So, she was still cross. He’d expected as such, and yet it still drove him mad to see it.

Anthony could handle Kate’s biting quips and witty remarks in his sleep. It was this — the silence, the glaring — that he was horribly unused to.

He walked over to the chaise where she was sitting, her book wide open in her lap. "Katharine, I believe we need to talk."

That was enough to capture her attention. Her eyes snapped up towards his and widened, staring in disbelief. "Katharine?"

What did it say about Anthony that he remained equally as attracted to his wife when she was staring daggers at him as he did when her eyes were soft and full of adoration?

“We need to talk,” he reiterated.

She sighed lazily, flipping through the pages of her novel, even if he knew she wasn't reading it. “I’m not sure what about. Everything is just fine, isn’t it?”

“No, I don’t quite think so.”

“Well,” she placed her hands on her lap, and smiled at him, seductive and infuriating all at once. "The problem seems to lie only with you, then, my dear husband.”

She closed her book with a forceful slap and stood up to leave, evading Anthony’s gaze. Before she was able to step out of the room, however, he managed to hold onto her forearm.

Anthony sighed. This was going horribly. He'd imagined he'd walk into the room, he'd apologize for his transgressions, and all would be well.

This was very much not that.

“The problem is that you haven't spoken to me in a fortnight and I’m not sure what the devil I am meant to do about it. I can’t go on much longer like this, Kate.”

For a moment a pang of something — sympathy, maybe? — flashed in Kate’s eyes, so quick he very nearly missed it. The return to ire was nearly instant. "And as your wife I'm meant to submit my every will to you? Is that it?"

Well, yes. That was, indeed, a part of the vows they'd taken. But when it came to Kate...

"Not exactly, but—"

"Have you stopped to think why your wife may have chosen to restrict communication? Do you have any ideas?"

Anthony felt his own temper rising, all the good advice he’d been given from Simon quickly thrown out the window. "Honestly? No, I cannot. I am unaware as to what I may have done to lead to... all of this."

“Perhaps,” she said, “it lies in the fact that I can barely move without you jumping into some lecture or another. If I merely sit the wrong way, or eat the wrong thing, or… or—”

“I’m trying to take care of you!”

Kate’s eyes widened. “I know very well how to take care of myself! Believe it or not, I am not the first woman to get pregnant, and I surely won’t be the last.”

She schooled her features and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. Anthony dared not speak.

“Do you know how hard it is, to grow another life inside of you?”

Anthony shook his head, the tips of his ears growing red. The tone of her voice was gravely serious, and he was starting to feel properly scolded.

“Well, I’m glad to tell you. My limbs ache in ways I’d never known them able, I am constantly feeling unbalanced and exhausted, and I can barely see my feet with the size of this bloody thing,” she pointed down at her swollen stomach, her cheeks growing red with frustration.

Anthony moved to speak, if only to help console his wife, except that she didn’t stop. Couldn’t. It was as though the past two weeks of silence had been a slowly boiling pot of water, and now the steam and hiss of the kettle had finally reached his ears.

“Women talk about these things, Anthony. I can gladly assure you there is nothing a fancy physician can tell you that Mary or Violet or any midwife in all of bloody England would not already know!”

Anthony remained silent, but this time it was because of the guilt that curled low in his gut. Still, Kate kept talking.

“Not to mention the fact that you’ve barely spared a glance at me as of late! I don’t particularly feel you owe me anything, of course, and…” she pouted, the anger giving way to something akin to insecurity. “Well, I know my form has changed considerably, which can’t be very appealing, but I never quite imagined you’d—,”

What?

Kate’s frown deepened, her embarrassment growing with the rise of heat blooming in her cheeks, which seemed to only leave her feeling more defensive. “Did I not speak in plain English?”

“I’m… just not entirely sure I understand where you’re coming from.”

“Forgive my impudence, but I’d like to see you experience the bodily changes I have, and then see if it doesn’t sting when your own husband can’t seem to look at you as a woman anymore! I mean, really, Anthony, I—”

Perhaps it was the fact that it had been so very long.

Maybe it was the fact that Kate’s words, uncomfortable as they had been to hear, had properly gotten to him — in his desperate attempt to do everything right and keep Kate and their child safe, he’d taken things a bit too far.

Or, it might have been the very simple fact that his wife, when angry, was quite an alluring sight indeed — her puckered lips, reddened cheeks and adorable scowl did little to to disrupt the almost gravitational pull she held over him, instead serving as an apt reminder of just how much he appreciated her.

And just how badly he’d failed her.

So, he kissed her.

Her very fiery words were extinguished the minute his lips landed on hers, her warmth and scent an immediate aphrodisiac, given the way his body was responding as desire rooted itself deep in his gut. It really had been far, far too long.

He wrapped an arm around her waist, nudging her so that she was as close to him as possible. Her hands curled into the fabric of his waistcoat, a soft, surprised sigh escaping her the moment he licked her lips to deepen the kiss.

Somehow, it always felt like the first time with her — exciting and passionate and terrifying in its intensity, all at once. Anthony would have been happy to continue kissing her forever, to feel the softness of her lips working against his as he teased her, coaxing more of those delicious sighs and surprised gasps for the rest of his life—

Until Kate froze, pulling away.

Her pupils were blown wide with desire, her bosom heaving, but she managed to furrow her brows as she stared up at him. “What was that?”

“Hm?”

“What— did you just kiss me so that I’d stop arguing with you?”

“No,” Anthony sighed, his hands reaching towards her chin and cradling her cheeks. If he pressed his legs closer to her skirts so that she might feel the imprint of him against her, then Anthony could only hope it further proved the point he was trying to make.

“I kissed you so that you’d have no reason to doubt my desire for you. I can promise it is very much still there. That it also had the effect of temporarily ceasing our argument is merely an added benefit.”

Kate let out a half-hearted chuckle. Anthony’s hand slid down to grab Kate’s, bringing it to his lips.

“I don’t think you realize,” he murmured.

“Realize what?”

His other hands moved to cradle her stomach. “Kate, seeing you grow our child — having everyone know that we did this, knowing that our family is growing because of you — you have no idea what that does to me. The restraint I’ve been practicing. However misguided it may have been.”

“Why practice it then?”

What was it Simon had said, about speaking plainly? Anthony was torn over whether or not to admit the truth behind his recent streak of protectiveness— the lengths that he’d gone to keep her as healthy as possible; the insistent, nagging feeling that if he didn’t, he’d fail them both; the deeply rooted fear that had first taken hold of his heart when he was eighteen, the kind he felt would never truly leave when it came to those he loved.

Then again — this was Kate. There was no one in the world he trusted more than her, and there was nothing in the world he couldn’t tell her.

His thumb ran softly across her knuckles. “In all honesty, I believed you to be feeling unwell and did not want to make it worse. As you expertly pointed out, I’ve been more… protective, than usual. I simply... worry about you and the baby, that is all. If I could take the aches and pains away from you, believe me, I would.”

Kate nodded, her own eyes warming. She seemed to understand the depth of what he was saying without him needing to say it plainly. They understood each other in that way. “All I need is the support of my husband. I am sure I can make it through nearly anything as long as I have that.”

“You have it. Believe me, Kate, you do.”

She smiled. “I know.”

“Good,” he smiled back. His eyes dropped to her lips as he inched closer. “Now that that’s settled…”

Kate swallowed, the effect of it doing very pretty things to her neck. Anthony leaned down, bringing his attention to the skin of her jaw and pressing his lips to her smooth skin, slowly making his way down towards her clavicle.

“I’m still slightly angry with you, you know,” she whispered, though her voice was heavy with a desire he knew well. She might have still been angry, but it was equally likely that the real anger and frustration had started to dissolve, leaving this — their own, special way of playing with one another.

Either way, Anthony’s goal was the same.

“You have every right to be,” he murmured, his lips now near her breasts. “I was an ass. Not to mention I committed the mortal sin of depriving my wife.”

Kate fully chuckled this time, her fingers at the nape of his neck, cradling his hair. “Mmhmm. A mortal sin, indeed. You should repent.”

He smiled against her neck. “Any ideas?”

She didn’t waste a single moment before wrapping her hands around his neck and kissing him. “I have a few options in mind. However, they all require a bed.”

Anthony grinned, leaning over to grab under Kate’s knees and picking her up in a bridal carry, delighting in her girlish squeal. Their trip made long only by routine stops to readjust Kate’s position and pausing to relish the kisses she was peppering across his neck after having ripped his cravat straight off and leaving it on the floor.

She was impossibly flushed by the time he finally placed her on their bed, her hair halfway out of its updo and the fabric of her sleeve slinking down her shoulder.

Kate’s arms grasped at her buttons before Anthony stopped her. “No,” he said. “Let me.”

He was a man on a sacred mission, unbuttoning her dress with a swiftness that would have rivaled a prized racing horse. When she was down to her stockings he stopped, his desire only made stronger by the sight of her, very pregnant and entirely naked except for the soft, cream-colored fabric around her legs.

“You,” he murmured, slowly peeling her legs apart. “Are a vision.”

His mouth found her quickly; at first in teasing, short kisses along the inside of her thigh, and then in languid, indulgent strokes, her body a map he’d studied in intricate detail, so well that he knew every curve and plane as though it were merely an extension of his own.

Kate consumed his senses — her sweet taste, her dizzying smell, the grip of her fingernails against his scalp. She was everywhere. He couldn’t believe he’d ever let a single day go by where he didn’t properly appreciate her.

Anthony tried his absolute best to go slowly while she writhed above him, to focus on her pleasure and her enjoyment alone, but it was no use.

“Please, Anthony,” she breathed. “I want — I need — to feel you inside.”

Not when she was saying things like that. Not when she looked like this, disheveled and pleasured and absolutely radiant.

With a less-than-gentlemanly growl he hauled himself upwards, ridding himself of his breeches as quickly as his hands allowed. Kate turned to watch him, her eyes dark and hungry.

“That, too,” she pointed at his shirt, tugging the fabric upwards. He obeyed wordlessly, practically ripping the few buttons that were left and returning to the bed.

The reflection of the slowly setting sun shone against Kate’s skin as she laid there, her stomach round and full. The light made her look like she was glowing from within, almost ethereal — as though she were plucked straight out of a work of art.

She giggled as he neared closer to kiss her again, her arms wrapping around his neck once more. Anthony was struck by the sound, light and carefree as it was. He tugged her closer and pulled away to stare at her, suddenly overcome by emotion.

This was his wife. Very soon, she would be the mother of his child. By some wicked, fantastic stroke of luck, they were bound together for the rest of their lives — what use did he really have wasting that time together by worrying?

He thought he’d learned that lesson already, but knowing that they would begin to grow a family together had alighted them all anew.

And yet it was Kate who assuaged those fears. The only person, in all actuality, who probably could.

“I love you,” he sighed, his forehead falling towards hers. “I’m sorry, about everything. I—”

“It’s alright. I know. I love you, too,” she smiled, closing the distance between them and kissing him. She pulled away after a moment, but only slightly, speaking against his lips. “However, if you are not inside me within the next minute, my love, I might have to murder you.”

Anthony laughed, stepping back slightly to get a better look at her. His wife was ferocious, indeed. “How would you like me?”

Kate’s eyes darkened, her desire turning sweet when paired with the soft smile on her lips. She turned over on her side, looking back at him to pat the mattress next to her. “As though you were holding me.”

Anthony positioned himself behind her, tenderly kissing her neck as a hand roamed across the curve of her waist, settling on her leg and widening slightly to grant him entrance.

His own desire was a live, warm thing that coursed through his veins and beat furiously in his chest. Her sharp sigh joined his groan when they finally connected, the sound of their bodies as Anthony began to thrust deeply into her interrupted only by the moans that escaped both of their mouths.

It was like coming home, Anthony realized, feeling Kate around him for the first time in so long. She was home. Kate seemed to feel it, too, clutching his hand and interlocking their fingers, connecting them over her stomach.

“You feel so perfect,” he grunted, as he slowly worked his way in and out of her, his pace controlled only by the furious desire to to give Kate everything she needed. Her fingers squeezed against his every time he reached that special place that seemed to draw out sharp yelps from deep within her.

Their lovemaking was equally frantic and patient, just as sensual as it was passionate — nips at her earlobe amid murmurs of how good she felt, a tender hand leaning back to cradle his jaw as she asked him to go harder.

They were skin to skin, heartbeat to heartbeat, the two of them connected by something grander than themselves, something so equally quiet and powerful it could only ever exist in a moment like this. Between them.

Anthony very nearly lost himself in Kate’s warmth as he chased his own pleasure — the fact that he’d lasted this long at all was a miracle in and of itself, given, well, everything — until he noticed her hand start to drift downward.

Gently, he urged her away, and in its stead he let his own hand roam towards the wetness between Kate’s legs, coaxing more moans out of her that grew in intensity until she was wailing into the pillow, Anthony’s release coming quickly afterwards in a burst of light.

As their breaths relaxed and their heartbeats slowed, he stayed inside her, the tangible feeling of their connection intoxicating and pure. Kate’s eyes were closed, but her hand found his again, slinging them both over her stomach with a content, sated sigh.

The sun was fully in its descent towards the horizon, casting the room in a thick, orange glow. For a few, perfect moments, it was as though they were the only people in the world. Him, his wife, and his child.

For those few, perfect moments — that was all he needed.

Anthony gently turned Kate over and tucked her into his side, pressing a soft kiss to her forehead. “Feeling satisfied?”

Kate smiled, but kept her eyes closed, leaning into his warmth. “Your performance remains exemplary. Congratulations.”

“Perhaps all you needed was a chance to release some of that pent up energy, then. You seem very sated and docile now.”

Her eyes opened, narrowing as they playfully glared at him. “On the contrary, it sounds like you’re asking me to become cross all over again.”

“Absolutely not,” Anthony gripped her tighter, stifling a laugh. “I missed you too much.”

She sighed, the puff of breath landing on his collarbone. “I don’t like it when we quarrel. Being angry with you isn’t as fun as it used to be.”

“Hurts more now, doesn’t it?”

She hummed. “Although, I refuse to surrender.”

“I wouldn’t ask you to,” Anthony bit back a grin, softly running his fingers across her cheekbones. “I shouldn’t have been so…”

“Overbearing? Patronizing?”

“Point taken. I must admit I let my fears take hold of me once again,” he said, swallowing the thick feeling that had materialized again in his throat. “The thought of anything happening to you, or the child… Kate, it’s more than I think I can bear.”

Sympathy warmed Kate’s brown eyes. She sat up on her elbow. “Anthony…

“I’m not proud of my behavior. I just… I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to help you.”

Kate took a hand to Anthony’s face, running her hands along his stubble. “You think I don’t feel it, too? Knowing that our baby is depending on me to keep it safe, to make sure it all turns out right. It’s scary — terrifying, really — but we can’t spend our lives worrying about every tiny possibility for failure. We’ll never manage to live that way.”

“But what if—”

She shook her head, already catching his train of thought. “We’ll never know. That is not in our hands. All that we can do is try our best today, and make the absolute most of today. It’s all we really, truly have, if you think about it.”

He tapped his forehead to hers, smiling. “You’re a well of wisdom, aren’t you?”

She smiled right back. “Absolutely. This is why they say you must always heed your wife’s word. Do that, and you will live a happy, long life indeed.”

“I suppose there is more than enough truth to that,” Anthony said. “Although, I still forbid you from drinking too much tea. It’s terrible for you.”

“I suppose,” Kate rolled her eyes, only for them to open suddenly in shock. “Oh!”

A smile illuminated her face as she hastily grabbed Anthony’s hand and placed it on her stomach, towards the lower right. “It looks like the baby is awake. They’re... kicking, I believe. That’s never happened before.”

Anthony raised an eyebrow, instinctively drawing closer so that his ear was attached to her stomach as well. “Are you sure?”

“I’ve only felt tiny hiccups in the past, but this was different, sort of like a— oh! There it is again, did you feel it?”

He did. Just under the palm of his hand, for a tiny moment, there had been a slight bump, like tiny feet pressing against Kate’s stomach.

It was the tiniest of movements. It only lasted an instant. If he blinked, he would have likely missed it.

And yet, that tiny, instantaneous movement was enough to change his entire life.

“Our baby is in there,” he said in disbelief.

She was smiling down at him. “Safe and warm and happy, you see? I’m sure he knows his parents have reconciled their differences and wanted to congratulate us.”

Anthony sat up. “He?

Kate blushed, running an absent hand over the swell of her belly. “Don’t ask me how I know. I could very well be wrong. It’s just… an intuition, I guess. I can feel it, somehow.”

Anthony’s mind quickly conjured up warm images of him with a son. Teaching him to walk, deciphering tiny babbles that would turn into ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’, helping him eat. A child that would be a mix of him and Kate, with dark hair and intelligent eyes.

His eyes misted of their own accord. “Well, I can’t wait to meet them. Whoever they are, they will be perfect.”

“You were made for this, you know,” Kate ran her other hand through his hair. “You’ll make a wonderful father.”

“If I manage to be half as wonderful a father as you will surely be a mother, then I think our children will be in good hands, indeed.”

Her hand drifted from his scalp to his neck, pulling him closer for a kiss. “It’ll all be different when he finally arrives. I’ll be busier, and we won’t have as much time for each other. We must make the most of it.”

Anthony nodded sagely. “No more quarreling. Understood.”

“No more forcing me to quarrel with you,” Kate corrected, narrowing her eyes but smiling all the same. “I want you to behave, like a good husband.”

“Even if it's an exciting sort of misbehavior?”

Kate smiled, laying back down so that she could nuzzle into him. “I will allow it. We should do a lot more of that while we still can.”

“Alright,” he pulled her tighter and pressed a kiss to his forehead. He was quickly growing tired, too, and ready to fall back asleep with his wife in his arms.

She was already asleep by the time he leaned over to kiss her forehead and tell her he loved her, but that was alright. He’d have a million more chances to do it, as their life slowly progressed. As their family grew, and birthdays passed them by and holidays were celebrated. They would treat each day as they came; the little moments and big ones, each disagreement and reconciliation, sharing their joy just as much as they would their sorrow.

Kate would be by his side for all of it, and he would be by hers. A new life, their life, as a family.

He couldn’t think of anything better to look forward to.