"I think I've seen you more times on your back this week than I have on your feet."
Scowling, I nudge him with my foot. "Don't be crude."
He chuckles as the door opens and Paddy enters, a large smile on his face. He and Charlie shakes hands, their movements comfortable and familiar. After exchanging a bit of small talk, Paddy looks at me. "How are you feeling today?"
"Fine." I tense when he goes to part my gown to expose my stomach and then force a smile when he glances at me.
"It's not going to hurt," he assures me and I release a slow breath before nodding. I've noticed my stomach isn't as flat as it used to be. It hasn't quite...popped out yet, but it was becoming a bit more rounded. The "pooch" Charlie pretends not to see. "Muggles use these machines called Dopplers to hear the heartbeat," Paddy continues, making more small talk as he gets his wand and performs a quick charm. "Part of the fun and convenience of being a Wizard, is that we don't have to mess with buttons and electricity for something so simple."
I wait with bated breath as Paddy runs the smooth tip of his medical wand over my stomach. Charlie is silent as Paddy works I see the anticipation in his features. His arms fall to his sides, then he crosses them again restlessly as he moves from foot to foot every few seconds. I shift my gaze to Paddy as the room remains silent. His brows are quirked, his lips pursed in concern.
Paling, I start to realize that we should have heard a heartbeat by now and just as I am about to push myself up on my elbows to ask him, a soft pulsing sound fills the room. It's steady and strong and when I see Paddy's expression relax, I exhale quickly with relief, my smile uncontrollable as I listen to the heartbeat of our baby. It was a strange experience, one I wasn't sure I was ready for. It was easy to say I was pregnant, that I was having a baby, but this made him, or her, real...I had a living child inside of my body, something I never thought I would do, despite what my vows showed me. I didn't know what to think, or feel...except joy.
"You have a strong one," Paddy says, a grin on his face. I look at Charlie and my smile widens when I see him staring at my stomach, a lopsided smile on his face. "Bloody hell."
"Hard to believe you're going to be a father, eh Chuckie?" Paddy jokes and Charlie snorts at the nickname before he reaches out and places his hand on my stomach. "I've timed the heartrate to be about 145."
"Is that bad?" I ask and Paddy shakes his head.
"Very good actually. Anything between 130 and 160 is considered normal. Damn, Charlie, knowing your family, I was half expecting to hear two heartbeats." Charlie's eyes open and I see a bit of hope in them.
"Don't even joke about that," I groan, but continue to smile as I push myself up slightly. When Paddy pulls his wand away from my stomach, the heartbeat disappears and I fight the disappointment as he reaches for my file. "When can we find out the sex?"
Paddy glances at my chart, confusion settling across his face for a moment. "Well...according to your chart, you're only about eleven weeks pregnant, Aveline, which surprises me as usually we can't hear the heartbeat properly until about thirteen, so your pregnancy is moving right along. I'm surprised I didn't catch this at our last visit. The sex can be accurately determined at twenty weeks, but with your information here, we may be able to find out a bit earlier." He trails off, humming curiously in his throat as he flips through the parchment.
"Is everything all right?" Charlie asks quickly and Paddy looks up, giving him a reassuring smile.
"There's nothing to worry about, your baby is healthy." Paddy places my file down and pulls my gown back over my stomach. "We'll see you both again in a couple weeks and we'll see how you are then."
Charlie shakes his hand again. "Thanks, Paddy."
"Anytime. Firecall me when you have a free night, Charlie, we'll get a drink and catch up."
"I'd like that."
I wait until Paddy is gone before I sit up and take the trousers Charlie has handed to me. "You don't think the baby is growing at a rapid rate do you? Do you think something is wrong and he's not telling us?"
"Paddy would be upfront with us if he thought something was wrong. Don't worry." Charlie leans over to kiss my forehead and I decide to believe him, as I can't deal with any undue stress right now. I dress quickly, placing the gown on the bed before I slip on my shoes. We leave the hospital, walking together and enjoying the spring air.
Before long we find ourselves in Hogsmeade, walking toward Madam Puddifoot's where Charlie wants to say hello to his former landlord. Phyllis seems overjoyed to see him and I wait, off to the side as she smooches his face, leaving red lipstick on his cheek before she rushes into the back. She appears seconds later with a two foam cups with plastic lids.
"Decaffeinated," Phyllis explains as she hands me the cup that smells heavenly. "Jasmine and lavender tea. Good for the baby."
"How did you--"
"Your mum was here a few days ago visiting Fred and she stopped in. She's beaming you know," Phyllis explains with a wide smile that wrinkles the skin at her eyes. "Just beaming. 'Going to be a strong, healthy boy', she says and then two breaths later, 'A beautiful, little girl with freckles and ginger colored curls', although she would be blessed to have your colour," she says to me, admiring my hair. "A lovely shade, suits you."
"Thank you," I manage before Phyllis sighs happily and hugs Charlie.
"Don't be a stranger to me, do you hear? It's been lonely since and you Nymphadora parted ways."
I wince slightly but Charlie grins and kisses Phyllis' cheek. "I'll come in more often, I promise." She pats his cheek and kisses mine before we find the right moment to escape back into the village.
"That was an experience."
Charlie laughs and reaches down to take my hand as he sips his drink. "She's always been like a second mother. She's a good woman."
I inhale the scent of my tea again before Charlie stops unexpectedly in the street. I look at him curiously and see his eyes have grown more serious as they study me. "What is it?" I glance around at the witches and wizards passing us, all immersed in their shopping. The bright sign of Zonko's is nearby, I see a cat run down the street after a mouse and the noises of the day seem to disappear the moment Charlie cups my chin and kisses me. I stiffen, but only for a moment before I sink into him. My lips part under his and I'm not embarrassed by the public display like I would have been before.
I can feel my toes curl in my shoes and my body respond quickly when he deepens the kiss, holding the nape of my neck to pull me closer to him. His body is hard, and warm...and safe. I moan softly in my throat and am disoriented when he pulls away. Opening my eyes, I focus in on him and see him looking as flushed as I am.
"Want to skivvy off work and go home?"
I nod, swallow hard and immediately forget the mountain of paperwork I had waiting for me on my desk.