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have a happy ending

Chapter Text

November 2000

Her hips pressed against the cold porcelain of their bathroom sink, her eyes were drawn straight down towards the countertop. The many sounds of the night and the sound of the pounding in her chest filled her ears. Her fingers tapped the counter to the rhythm of the ticking timer beside her as an attempt to take her mind off her nausea and nerves.

A chin rested on her right shoulder, and two arms snaked around her middle with a loving yet firm squeeze. “You know staring at it isn’t going to make it go any faster, Poppins.”

“I know, I know. It’s just… I can’t stop looking at it,” Dani replied meekly. The floor creaked against Jamie’s black boots as she stepped back. She grabbed Dani’s hand and started out the door.

“Babe, come on. It’s only been two minutes. We’ll go sit. I’m afraid you’re gonna burn a hole through the sink by staring at it that much,” Jamie joked with a smirk as she pulled Dani out of the bathroom. Dani loosely followed her without ever removing her sight from the countertop.

“But… Jame… what if…” Dani began to protest as they made their way down the hall to the couch in their living room. Jamie faced her, placed her hands firmly on Dani’s shoulders, and sat her back onto the couch. She knelt in front of her, her knees immediately disapproving the hard surface of the floor under her. She let out the slightest groan as she repositioned while letting her hands fall down the route of Dani’s arms. It led to her palms where she placed her own atop hers.

“What if what Dani?” she asked in the same tone she always did when she wanted to express how deeply she cared and worried for her. Her eyes tried to keep track of the blue ones that kept darting nervously around every area of the room they were in. They seemed to look in every direction but Jamie’s because of the sheer embarrassment of having to repeat what she has always said every time they have had to go through this. Every time they would think they got so close, only to be disappointed again.

“What if it happens again Jamie?” she questioned after lots of hesitation. Her lips repeatedly parted as she visibly tried to find the words to follow that question, “I don’t think I can do it again Jamie…” her voice started to crack with her last couple of words. A crack that Jamie would stop at nothing to mend. She hated to see Dani cry. She saw too much of that over the years, and for some reason, it was the only thing she hadn’t mastered fixing. She could fix the busted pipe in their kitchen, or fix the cracks in the drywall, or find out just what was wrong with Dani’s dear, and very old, Volkwagen that seemed to always act up. However, no set of instructions or expertise could prevent the sadness that Dani possessed. Jamie could put a bit of plaster on it, but after time the plaster always leaked. Jamie promised herself she would stop at nothing to make sure Dani was happy, which meant repairing any rut she found herself in, including this one.

“You don’t know that,” she began a bit sternly. Dani squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head away. Jamie continued as she followed Dani’s gaze, “Hey, hey look at me, Poppins.” Dani did as requested and her blues fixed on the greens in front of her. Jamie gave her a small, reassuring smile. “This could be it, we don’t know – I mean we’ll know soon, but for right now I think we should just be optimistic about this.”

“But what if it happens again?” Dani asked, almost pleading. She needed Jamie to just tell her what she needed to hear. She needed Jamie to tell her that she was right, that this dream was just too good to ever be true. That this sixth time would be the same as the other five. That they would never have what they wanted. Instead, Jamie cupped Dani’s cheek and let her thumb brush away the little tear that escaped the corner of Dani’s eye.

“Well if it does then it does, and we try…”

Dani cut her off, “There won’t be any more trying Jamie. We’re getting older,” Dani said matter-of-factly, then she scoffed, “no I’m getting older. I’m almost 40, Jamie.”

“Not for a few more months,” Jamie reminded with a chuckle. She thought that would provide a bit more lightness in the air, but it did quite the opposite. Being reminded of her age, and the plummeting of all chances from that fact, caused Dani’s eyes to scrunch together to prevent oncoming tears. She took in the most frustrated, hitched breath, and with that, the tears began to violently well. She didn’t want to cry, it was a waste to cry over this, but her mind had other plans. Suddenly, the burning of the tears and the lump in her throat became too much to bear, so she began to softly cry. Her eyes fell to her lap, and her hands covered her face.

Jamie clicked her tongue against her teeth and gave a pitiful sigh. She quickly rose to sit beside Dani, and she let her fall into the comfort of her arms. She rested her chin on the top of Dani’s head as she hushed her and soothingly rubbed her hand up and down her arm. “I’m sorry. Hey it’s okay, it’s gonna be fine,” she whispered into Dani’s ear. She placed her lips against Dani’s temple to give it a kiss when a loud dinging interrupted her. Dani quickly peeled from Jamie’s arms and she whipped her head around to face the direction of the bathroom.
The loud timer sound startled Jamie and her hand was firmly placed against her chest in reaction. “Fucking hell,” she cursed. She mirrored Dani’s gaze towards the bathroom. “Well sitting here isn’t gonna do us any good, Poppins,” she said as she stood up, her head nodding towards the bathroom with a beckoning gesture. She grabbed Dani’s hand to pull her up, but she became dead weight. She shook her head, and Jamie looked at her confused. “You don’t want to see?”

“Jamie, I can’t. You go look, please,” she begged. Jamie just stared down at her, at the woman she loved so dearly. She couldn’t help but softly laugh at how nervous Dani was as expressed by her wide eyes and flushed face. She nodded her head and began to walk toward the bathroom. Dani watched her the whole way. Her thumb had reached her lips absentmindedly, and she began to nibble at the nail. Her knee bounced up and down anxiously. She kept her neck craned towards the door as she waited for any sign of emotion from Jamie. Come on Jamie, what is taking so long? Come on. She heard a subtle rustling of paper and a box. Dani’s heart started to race when she heard the slightest, “Blimey,” come from the bathroom. Jamie was surprised given the choice of words and tone of her voice. Dani pleaded with the universe that it meant whatever she saw was a good thing.

With one big step, Jamie emerged from the bathroom doorway, pivoting to face Dani’s direction. Her eyes were glassy as they peered down at the stick in her hands. She sniffled and let out a soft chuckle. “I reckon you were cryin’ for nothin’, Poppins,” she said as she took slow steps toward her wife. Her tear-filled eyes steadily looked up at Dani.

Dani’s lip trembled as she shook her head, “You’re joking, Jamie,” she said softly in disbelief. She turned around and settled her knees on the couch, her entire body facing Jamie. Jamie responded with a shake of her head and a shocked scoff as she looked back down at the stick. Dani launched herself over the back of the couch and hurried over to Jamie to look. Sure enough, two pink lines stared right back up at her. She snatched the test out of Jamie’s hands, holding it closer to her eyes so she could see it more clearly. She scurried to the bathroom to check the instructions to make sure two lines meant what she needed them to mean.
“Babe, I checked all of that alrea…” Before she could finish, Dani was already out of the bathroom and leaping into her arms. Jamie laughed with the most joy she had ever felt in her life. Dani did the same except it was paired with sobs. It was the only time Jamie was pleased to see and hear those sobs because they were only filled with relief and pure euphoria. Dani’s arms linked around Jamie’s neck, and Jamie held her around her waist.

“We’re having a baby, Jamie, a baby!” she exclaimed, as she looked deep into Jamie’s eyes. She grinned wide at her brown-haired wife before her, and Jamie could only muster a smile in return. She picked Dani up off the ground and spun her around which warranted a roaring laugh from her. Dani wrapped her legs around Jamie’s waist and leaned down to place a searing kiss on her lips. Jamie reciprocated, letting out little giggles into her lips.
Dani placed kisses on both of Jamie’s cheeks and kissed down her jaw before burying her face into the crook of her neck. Jamie’s hand settled on the back of Dani’s head, her fingers combing the long blond hair there. She whispered into Dani’s ear about how happy she was and just how much she loved her. With each phrase of affirmation, she couldn’t help but add a breathy, stunned, “A baby? My god, we’re having a baby.”
The tickle of Dani’s soft kisses and faint giggles into her neck began to die down, so Jamie carefully put Dani down and held her face within her hands. She placed another, gentle kiss on her lips and pulled back with the widest grin on her face.

“I guess I shouldn’t do that, spin you around like that anymore huh?” Jamie chuckled with a small sniffle. Dani replied with a laugh. Jamie just kept her eyes on Dani, and Dani kept hers on Jamie. Both of them began wiping at their eyes as they simply shared each other’s gazes. Jamie let the moment drag on just a bit longer because she couldn’t get over the way Dani looked before her. She had never seen her any happier than she was at that moment. Of course, that was understandable. With all of the trauma she had endured over the years and the corruption her body had to tolerate after their time in Bly, it was only expected for Dani to be met with the normalcy of exhaustion and misery.

But with the hard times, good times coexisted. They were in love, and they were devoted to one another. There were the good days like when they moved into the apartment in Vermont or opened the florist shop. Not to mention the day Dani buried the ring in the roots of the potted plant which sealed their commitment to one another. Or the one that ensured they’d be able to carry on with one another without time limiting them. It was the calm at the end of their storm. It happened a few years prior when at the end of the storm, Dani emerged with not a mismatched pair of eyes, but with those two blues that Jamie had grown to deeply long for. She was free of the Lady’s presence and it was only her left. But this moment was in no way comparable to those. Of course, this moment would cease to exist without the others, but this was the crescendo to end a symphony. Jamie and Dani would finally have what they had waited so long for.

Neither Jamie nor Dani had parents to look up to for reference. Dani had an absent mother and a dead father, and Jamie a deadbeat mother and a father who couldn’t care for them. Regardless, Dani adored the idea of motherhood. She surrounded herself with children whether it was becoming an au pair to care for Miles and Flora or being the best fourth-grade teacher in the city of Burlington. Add Jamie into the mix, and that sealed the deal for Dani. She wanted nothing more than to have a family with her. To have it be them and a child, and with that, the world would be theirs.

Despite this coveted ambition, Jamie was hesitant. The thought of having children was one that chilled her to the core. What if she was a horrible parent? What if she made all of the same mistakes her parents did? She would panic at the thought of disappointing Dani or being the cause of parting their family.

It took time and grueling bouts of encouragement from Dani, but by ‘97 she was on board. However, every agency came up with a list of excuses as to why they wouldn’t grant adoption to the couple, and if they tried to find loopholes they always turned up empty. So, their only option was one of them having the baby themselves. Dani immediately volunteered. Which led them to that very moment in the living room of their apartment. The moment that they got the news they had wished to hear over the last three years, they were going to be a family. A perfect one at that.

Jamie’s hands slid from Dani’s cheeks down to her hips where she let her thumbs draw circles over Dani’s stomach. Dani looked down and softly smiled. She placed her hands atop Jamie’s and let out a sweet, content sigh. Her glistening eyes admired the wonderment of Jamie’s gaze.

She expected Jamie to be happy, but she never imagined this level of elation from her. In fact, sometimes she found herself worrying that if it ever were to happen that it would scare Jamie off. She knew how skeptical Jamie was of her potential as a parent. But when it became their reality, Jamie was grounded by it all.

Jamie leaned down and kissed where her thumbs were. She straightened back out and took a step back. She looked around at their place and shook her head with a scoff as she teetered back and forth on her boots. She gazed at Dani from the corner of her eyes. Her lips curved into a simper and she gave Dani a wink. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger place, Poppins.”

Chapter Text

February 2001

Jamie let out a long sigh and settled her elbows atop the counter, her chin falling to rest in her palms there. For the hundredth time in the last three minutes, she looked at the clock. It was 4:30, and the shop wouldn’t close for another half hour. She let out a strenuous groan and dragged her hands down her face. She paced a bit as she played with the Claddagh ring on her finger, her impatience continuing to curse her. 

She contemplated whether or not she could close early, but being one of the only, and the best, florists, in town meant it was quite the bustling front that night. There was a great explanation as to why it was so busy, it was Valentine’s Day. Person after person entered the shop, mostly men hurrying in asking for a last-minute bouquet of her best flowers.

In all honesty, Jamie found the day to be sickening. She was unsure if she always felt that way, or if working at the shop really instilled that belief in her by having to watch the people storm in and buy flowers begrudgingly. She mostly felt sorry for the flowers because they were bought as such a waste, and they’d be dead in a couple of days' time. Nevertheless, she also pitied whoever these people were going home to if that was their intention, to trudge into a store in order to bring home a bouquet of flowers to the wife as a half-hearted gesture. 

It all just seemed so robotic and insincere, so the holiday never had the intended effect on her. She also wouldn’t dare go that soft for anyone. She loved Dani dearly and doted on her in excess every day, but she was too embarrassed to show up with all of those mushy gifts, the pink boxes of chocolates and cards decorated with tooth-aching messages and glittering hearts. That was where the line was drawn.

There was one thing for sure, she and Dani hardly celebrated it. In the beginning, they’d maybe go to dinner, but as years carried on Jamie would only bring home a bouquet of their shop’s flowers and hand them over ironically to poke fun at all of the people who did celebrate. Dani would laugh at the small, lighthearted gift with the usual endearing shake of the head, and they were content with that. They’d go on with their night as they normally would. They insisted that was far better than any special Valentine’s day. Anyways, their love was too special to be only limited to one day for exceeding adoration. They found it was more fitting to do that on any given day rather than just one day of the year. 

However, this year was different. Jamie found herself obsessing over giving Dani a special Valentine’s day. She conceived of the most grandiose and special gift to give her. She was sure if there was a competition for best Valentine’s gift she’d win first prize.

While that was true, she hadn’t dared tell Dani what she had up her sleeve. She couldn’t decide if it was because she was too embarrassed to admit that she had gone so tender this year, or if it was because she was diligently keeping her gift a surprise. She wanted to keep it so much of a secret that Dani even knowing that there’d be a gift was not possible. 

 Every time she tried to self-evaluate this newfound interest in the holiday, she realized it had to be because of the baby. Dani was always remarking that their baby was months from even existing, but she was already turning her soft. And Jamie knew she was right. 

Standing at the counter, she found herself reflecting and a small smile upturned her lips, her teeth softly nibbling her lip as she reminisced. She remembered when she found herself just days earlier staring at Dani in awe of her carrying their child.

 


 

She stood there, leaned against the doorframe as she watched Dani grade her student’s papers. She was in a deep focus, so she didn’t notice the other women standing across the room. She bobbed her head side to side and whistled perfectly to the 70s tune coming from the radio. 

Jamie studied Dani’s profile. Beginning at her perfect, glowing, rosied face down to the little bump that was barely visible through her chunky, blue sweater. The sight suddenly launched her into an overwhelming sense of reality. This was their life, and boy was she grateful. Little Jamie all the way up to the stubborn, reserved Jamie never would have thought she’d ever make it here. Not after the abandonment, not after watching love crumble, and certainly not after thinking Dani wouldn’t always be around. But there she was, living with the love of her life on the brink of motherhood. Who would have thought? 

 She found herself getting teary-eyed, and she gave Dani quite the start when she cleared the silence with a sniffle. Dani turned her head to face Jamie, immediately a look of worry marking her features. “Jamie, what’s wrong?”

Jamie laughed and sniffled again. She had no idea how to explain what she was feeling without looking like a fool. Instead, she went with a shrug and she responded with, “I just love you, Poppins, that’s all.”

Dani tapped the end of her pen to her lips and gave Jamie a quizzical look. She stood up and walked over to her. Grabbing Jamie’s hands, she searched her green eyes. “You walked in here and started crying just because you love me?” she asked with a chuckle. 

Jamie blushed at that. She was caught red-handed. She swore she’d never let her hard exterior crack, but now it seemed to be melting more and more each day. 

“Well this is quite embarrassing,” she mumbled as she looked at her feet. Dani lifted her chin with her index finger. Jamie’s eyes were met with a fond smile from her.

“No,” she disagreed as she curled a piece of Jamie’s fringe with her fingers. She stood slightly on her tiptoes to kiss Jamie’s nose. “She’s making you all mushy isn’t she?”

Jamie felt her cheeks grow hotter and she looked back down. “I just still can’t believe it you know? That little gremlin is in there, right now,” she laughed as she let her hands rest against Dani’s hips. She began to sway them lightly to the music playing softly behind them. 

Dani gasped playfully as her arms linked around her wife’s neck, and she let her guide them to the rhythm. “I’m aware of that, and she is not a gremlin, Jamie,” she laughed. 

Jamie gave her a smug smile and a shrug. “Only time will tell I guess, Poppins.” 

Dani gave her a playful smack to the shoulder. “You better behave yourself, Jamie, or I’ll…”

Jamie interrupted her with a kiss to the lips. “Or you’ll what?” she asked with an impish grin and gave her that look that drove her absolutely crazy.

Dani felt her cheeks warm as she looked away with a blush. She found it astounding that Jamie could still get her to react this way. She drew in a breath as her eyes locked gazes with her once more. “Oh, Jamie,” she sighed before letting them connect with a fervent kiss, soon they were shuffling blindly towards the bedroom, never once parting. 

 


 

Jamie shook her head from the memory; however, the loving grin stuck. She peered at the clock once more, still ten minutes to go. Her restlessness got the better of her, and she reached for the light switch to close up the shop. 

“Ah Fuck it,” she exclaimed as she reached for her jacket and keys. She briskly swung her jacket on, and she was halfway out the door when she realized what she’d forgotten: the entire gift. She cursed at her foolishness as she quickly grabbed it. Jamie hurried out the door, locked it swiftly, and lightly jogged the block to their apartment. 

 


 

Jamie stood in front of the apartment door. She could hear music playing from inside, and the smell of something good cooking rose from under the door. She stared down at the present in her hand and started mentally rehearsing how she’d give it. After standing there for much too long, she internally commented on how stupid that was given they’d been together thirteen years, and she’d gifted her enough things in that time. 

Why was she so nervous then? Maybe it was because the present was the most important thing she’d ever give her. That realization sent her back into the cycle of nerves, but she did her best to push them aside. She put the gift behind her back as a means to hide it, and she slid her key into the lock to open up the door. As she pushed it slightly ajar, she heard a loud gasp and footsteps quickly closing the space between them. 

“No, no, you can’t come in!” Dani shouted as she blocked any view of their apartment from Jamie. 

The frenzied commotion coming from her wife surprised her almost as much as the door slamming on her just moments later. She jumped back in shock, and her mouth fell agape in confusion. She was trying to find the words to say to Dani, but she could only muster a “Dani? What was…” before just pursing her lips to think over what she just witnessed. Did her wife really just slam the door on her face?

“I’m sorry! Just-erm-just hold on!” Dani yelled from the other side. Jamie pressed her ear to the door to get a good listen, and she heard, what she guessed, were the clanking and chimes of dinnerware, the screeches of chairs, the crashing of cabinet doors, and numerous bangs that she couldn’t define. 

“Have you got a bloke in there you’re trying to hide from me? Because I don’t think he’s going to fit in the cupboard, love,” Jamie joked as she tried her hand at the door again, but Dani had locked it. She let out a frustrated huff and put her hand in her pocket as she waited.

“Very funny, Jamie, very funny. What are you doing here so early, anyway?” Dani asked, sounding breathless. 

“Uh, thought I’d close shop early, got tired… I guess?” she excused nervously as she scratched her temple, a tick she’d always had which prevented her from producing a believable lie. She was thankful Dani wasn’t there to see it. 

It seemed like a couple more minutes had passed, and Jamie was growing restless. She banged her fist on the door twice. “You gonna let me in, Poppins? I promise I won’t bite,” she playfully begged as she leaned against the door. 

Suddenly it swung open, causing her to subtly stumble before balancing back on her feet. She looked at her wife before her. Dani’s blonde, curls fell so effortlessly down her shoulders and atop the pink, turtleneck sweater she was sporting. She somehow looked simultaneously flustered and beautifully poised. “Maybe I wish you just would,” Dani smirked as she brought Jamie into a peck on the lips. 

Jamie let her hand rest on Dani’s back as she looked down at her, “Oh yeah? Someone’s in the spirit already,” she chuckled as she dove in for another kiss, one for her lips and another for her neck which sparked a giggle from Dani. The blonde pushed her away gently. 

“Okay, okay, that’s enough,” she said as she pulled Jamie by the hand towards the kitchen. She looked behind herself at Jamie and scanned her. She noticed the arm hiding behind her back. Dani stopped in her tracks and tried to look behind Jamie. “Whatcha got there, babe?” she questioned curiously. 

Jamie quickly dodged her and spun so she couldn’t see, “Hey, not yet. You can’t look. It’s a surprise,” she said as she put a guarding hand out to prevent Dani from coming any closer. Dani gave her a small pout, but she understood what that meant. Jamie had a gift to give. Dani put two hands over her eyes. 

“Well go hide it somewhere then because I have something to show you,” she told her and shooed her elsewhere with her hand. 

Jamie obliged and hid the item in the closet nearest the door. When she turned back around Dani still had her eyes shut but both of her hands were outstretched ready to be grabbed by Jamie’s. Once they were hand in hand, Dani pulled her the rest of the way to their dining table. She spread out her arms to present the spread of food across their dining table. Jamie’s eyes lit up, and she was so flabbergasted that all she could do was laugh. Laughed not only at how sweet this was of Dani but at her choice of dinner. In fact, it wasn’t dinner at all. It was a full English breakfast. Platters of pork sausages, bacon, (no black pudding because the sight of it in the butcher shop almost had Dani vomiting right then and there. She blamed that one on her finicky morning sickness), the most perfect eggs, roasted tomatoes, an array of toast, and Jamie's favorite, baked beans.

“Valentine’s Day English breakfast, innit,” Dani said in the most awful Cockney accent which left Jamie softly chuckling and putting her face in her hands in a less-than-serious disappointment. She seemed to genuinely adore at the same time as cringe every time she did that awful accent.

She pulled out a chair for Jamie to sit in. Before resorting to her own chair she bent down to kiss Jamie’s cheek. “Oh! I almost forgot,” she blurted as she jumped up from her seat to hurry to the kitchen. She came back with a mug.

“Is that tea?” Jamie asked, a bit of uncertainty in her voice. It was universally known that Dani couldn’t make tea to save her life. Dani nodded and shakily set it down. 

“So, this time it should be good. Because I’ve learned that if it tastes really bad then it is good, and I don’t really know how that is,” she rambled as she contemplated that last thought, “so I hope to fucking God it’s good.” 

Jamie rose the mug to her lips and took a hesitant sip as she squinted an eye. Her eyes quickly popped open as she registered the taste of the tea. “Dani...” she scoffed in surprise. “It’s actually good.” She looked down at the tea and studied it. She couldn’t believe that the woman who butchered tea her whole life suddenly had it mastered. 

Dani gave a cheeky grin and crossed her arms. “Hah, I knew I could. You just wouldn’t let me,” she insisted. Jamie shook her head and put her arms up in defeat, their banter dissolving into shared laughs. 

After both of their plates were full and they were enjoying their dinner, they went on as they normally did. Each asked how their days were and talked about whatever interested them. After their laughter died down post one of Dani’s many jokes, Jamie piped up with a question, “So, you cooked an entire English breakfast for me for Valentine’s dinner?” 

She was still trying to piece together why of all meals to make, she picked this one. She wasn’t disappointed, not in the slightest. Actually, she had missed this so much, and she couldn’t ever seem to find a place in Vermont that could do it justice. Somehow, Dani managed to. 

“Well when we woke up this morning you told me you missed this, so I decided I’d make it for you,” she said simply as she put a forkful of sausage and eggs into her mouth. She used her fork and knife in place of her hands as gestures, waving them about as she spoke, “and I was craving it too, and, well, you know how that goes,” she chuckled as she pointed her fork towards her belly with a raise of her brows. And yes, Jamie knew. The past couple of months had Dani craving the most random things, and it always meant Jamie was forced, at ungodly hours of the night, to go to the market to grab whatever she wanted.

Dani looked down at her plate to sort out her next bite, which gave Jamie the chance to stop eating. She put down her fork and knife and let her chin rest in her hand, her elbow set on the table. Her heart was full at the thought that one little, passive remark she made that morning inspired this, this unconventional Valentine’s dinner. She never thought she’d be celebrating the day of love with eggs and beans, but, alas, there they were, and she wouldn’t want it any other way. Jamie reached out for both of her hands. Dani looked up and clasped their hands together. 

“Did I do okay?” Dani asked shyly. Her big, blue eyes looking for an immediate answer in Jamie’s. 

Jamie brushed her thumbs over Dani’s hands. “More than just okay. This is one of the greatest nights I’ve ever had,” she smiled. She brought one of Dani’s hands to her lips to lay a kiss on her knuckles. She took in a hefty breath to disperse her anxiety for what was to come next. “I have something to give you, Dani.” Jamie stood and made her way to the closet. Upon emerging, she presented a bouquet of honeysuckles and lilies wrapped in a sheet of brown paper that was tied with a dainty strand of twine.

She took steady steps forward and handed them over to the woman before her. Dani took them and admired their beauty with a soft gasp. “Jamie, they're beautiful,” she said as she lifted the yellow, petals to her nose. “The honeysuckles, they mean devoted affection, you know? I read it in that book you gave me,” Dani commented. 

Jamie had wandered off to the kitchen to find their best crystal vase, and she began filling it with water. She smiled at the knowledge that Dani had read that boring old book about flowers she’d given her. She gave a knowing hum in response to her question. Of course, she knew that. It was exactly why she picked them for they would be part of her expression of said affectionate devotion. 

She approached Dani with the filled vase, and set it on the table in front of her. She kneeled in front of Dani. “I think you should put them in there,” she recommended as she gave the vase her side-eye. 

Dani knew she was up to something by the unsure look she gave her. She gently set the bouquet on the table and carefully untied the twine. She unfolded the paper and revealed the stems that were held together by a ring of keys. Her fingers traced the gold keys and she looked over at Jamie, puzzled. “What's this?” she asked as she slid the keyring off the flowers. Jamie bit her lip and lifted the bouquet in the vase. The paper once covered by the flowers had 475 Irving Street written on it. Dani’s eyes grew wide and her mouth fell open, she was at a loss for words. Tears welled in her eyes as she covered her mouth with a quivering hand. She shook her head in utter disbelief and faced her wife. “Jamie,” she sobbed. 

 


 

475 Irving Street just so happened to be the modest, old, blue house Dani would point out every time they passed it. She was borderline obsessed with it and the prospect of someday calling it theirs. She’d always tell Jamie about how she'd fantasize about them living there, and Jamie would chuckle at it every time. She was almost certain she loved that house more than she did her. But she couldn’t help but feel a rush of delight every time Dani expressed how much she loved that home, so from that moment forward, Jamie swore to herself that she’d make it theirs. 

After seven years of waiting, Jamie walked past the house to see a,  For Sale, sign up front. It stopped her dead in her tracks, and it summoned a level of diligence in her she had no idea she had. She didn’t give a damn how much that house cost, she was going to get it. It didn’t matter if she had to starve for weeks, burn holes into her boots working, beg, borrow, or steal. She was going to get that house for Dani. Especially now that the apartment couldn’t suit both of them and a baby. 

Over those seven years, she had started secretly saving money in hopes whoever was robbing them of that house would just move out. And a few weeks after she saw that sign, she walked into the realtor’s office with the down payment check. She set it on his desk with a sense of pride and victory. The house was theirs. 

When she stood on the sidewalk in front of the house just after the realtor handed her the keys, she couldn’t help but fall into every single one of those fantasies Dani had devised for them. She could imagine them chasing their little girl around the house, a fit of giggles echoing in her imagination. Or all of the movies they could watch in the living room with the big television they’d be able to fit there. She thought about how big their garden would be with the abundance of land that backed the home, and she thought about all the nights sitting on the porch drinking tea and enjoying each other’s company as they listened to the cicadas sing. 

Jamie tossed the keys up and caught them, she shook her fists in a move of triumph and looked to the sky to thank whomever for granting her this much happiness and prosperity. 

 


 

The brunette matched Dani’s tears and let out a joyful laugh as she rose slightly to pull Dani into a kiss then a warm embrace. Dani clung to her for a few moments before pushing away. Oh no, Jamie thought, this isn’t good. Dani’s arms flew up and fell back down to hit her legs. She looked back and forth from Jamie to the keys. “You bought us a house, Jamie?!” she cried. 

“You’re mad,” Jamie muttered disappointedly, her shoulders slumping. “I knew I shouldn’t have..” she trailed off. 

Dani quickly dropped to her knees beside her. She cupped Jamie’s cheeks and brought her eyes up to meet hers. “Jamie, I don’t think you know just how much this means to me,” she sobbed. “Baby, we have a house. You got us a house.” Dani couldn’t take the separation any longer, so she latched her lips to Jamie’s. Her hands roamed Jamie’s shoulders before settling one at the side of her neck and the other tangled in her loosely pinned hair. 

The kiss was passionate and intensely filled with every emotion Dani had bottled up. Every word that was lost before it could reach Jamie was expressed through this very kiss. It was a proclamation of her love and an ardent token of her gratitude. 

Jamie detached to catch her breath, and she gently put a piece of hair behind Dani’s ear, her hand sliding to brush away the tears streaking her face. They sat in silence, both staring in wonder at each other. Both somehow sharing the same thoughts of the infinite love they had for one another and how grateful they were for this life. 

Dani leaned forward to rest her head on Jamie’s chest. “Thank you,” she whispered repeatedly, ending it with the sweetest, “I love you so much, Jamie.”

Jamie left a lingering kiss atop her head and stroked her hair. Her other hand came down to rest where their baby was. “Anything for you, my love, anything.”



Chapter Text

April 2001

Jamie turned out the lights with her elbow as she made her way up the staircase of their new home. Her eyes peeked into the dimly-lit nursery that was still a work in progress. She walked in and, on her path, examined the soft, yellow walls and the beginnings of painted trees and leaves adorning the walls, certainly Dani’s effort. She smiled as she envisioned all of the work Dani must have put into it while she was away at at the shop. She took one last look around, picturing her and her wife hovering over the crib in the corner, admiring a baby girl that would be lying within it in just a couple of months. After a content sigh slipped from the brunette’s lips, she turned out the lamp.

She sauntered through their hallway, the oak floors creaking under her every step. Her eyes were glued to her copy of Wuthering Heights , and a cup of tea steadily reached her lips. Suddenly, her ankle got caught up on the corner of one of the moving boxes they still had laying about the house. “Shite,” she cursed as she managed to steady herself and the tea. She shook her head, remembering how many times she’d asked Dani to unpack it only to be assured with empty promises that she’d do it soon.

Jamie’s little outburst caught Dani’s attention, and she watched her wife inch closer to their bedroom. Dani was sat up on the bed, back leaned against a plethora of pillows, her ankles crossed, and her arms settled right atop her prominent bump. She gave her a greeting smile and reached out for the mug of tea that Jamie had so graciously prepared for her, and stolen a couple of sips from. 

 “I about killed myself on that box out there, Poppins,” she said with a joking malice, knowing it was filled with Dani’s things.

She sipped the tea and gave her the best innocent eyes she could muster as a response.  “I know nothing about said box,” she insisted. Her wisecrack made Jamie shake her head and softly chuckle. She crawled onto the bed and plopped herself directly against Dani, her eyes falling back to where she left off in her novel. Their limbs immediately became a tangled mess, and Dani lowered her fingers to softly trace gentle shapes on Jamie’s forearm. The blonde placed a kiss to her collarbone then laid her head on her shoulder, snuggling close as she let out a tranquil hum. 

“What’re we watchin’?” Jamie asked as she took a moment away from her page to observe the screen. Of course, she knew exactly what she was watching because it just so happened to be the third time she had to sit through it that month. But, she always loved to hear Dani happily talk about the films she loved. She could analyze every word, every piece, every step of the movie in her own particular way, for hours on end if she had the chance, and Jamie would listen in admiration, honored to be the receiver of all the knowledge Dani had to offer. 

“Oh you know, just Breakfast at Tiffany’s ,” she responded as if it were just another one of the nightly activities she partook on any given day. Jamie wondered for a moment how many Hepburn movies Dani would make her sit through. First Sabrina, to My Fair Lady , a few viewings of the Children’s Hour , and now this one. She could tell by the way Dani’s eyes lit up at the character’s building the story before her eyes that this one was the one she adored most. In fact, as most new couples do, Jamie had asked her all those years ago what her favorite film happened to be. Dani immediately responded that it was this one. She had reminisced wanting to be Holly Golightly when she grew up and how she used to curse the gods above as a child for giving her blonde hair instead of brown. Jamie ended the little moment offering to let Dani borrow her brown locks which enticed a little cackle from Dani. 

Jamie turned the page and grinned as she listened to Dani do her best impression of Holly as she recited part of the character’s nonsensical tangent. She crossed her arms triumphantly knowing she had completely nailed it. “Holly,” Dani said under her breath afterward. Catching her attention, Jamie looked up at her curiously. “I always loved that name. Holly.”

Jame lightly simpered. “Yeah?” she asked as she closed her book, turned to her side and curled a hand around Dani’s middle. Jamie had been wondering day in and day out about what they were going to name their daughter, and each time Dani would become flustered because she hadn’t one name to contribute. She remarked that it was nonsense that there were so many names in the world, and she could only pick one. It was all too much pressure, and, not to mention, she had the most indecisive nature apparent in a person, so that further prevented her from picking one. So, Jamie thought this little mentioning was enough to push them into this conversation again in hopes they’d come out with a name.  After all, it was a problem they now only had three months to solve.  “What are we going to name this little sprout, anyway?” 

Dani smiled at the little nickname Jamie had come up that time for their daughter and placed her hand on top of Jamie’s, pursed her lips and shook her head. “Certainly not Holly,” she giggled. 

“No?” Jamie questioned. “I think it’s kind of cute. Holly Clayton,” she said, overemphasizing the name as it left her mouth. 

Dani politely shook her head. “I don’t think so, Jame. It’s too simple. She needs an elegant name, one with purpose. She’s too special to just be called Holly.” 

Jamie pondered the response and felt her heart warm when Dani insisted their daughter was too special for such a little name. She propped her head on her hand with her elbow resting on the pillow then snatched the mug from Dani’s hand as she was about to take a sip. The blonde gasped lightly as she watched her stolen tea make its way to her wife’s lips. “Well I reckon it’s about time you figure out something, Dani,” Jamie said as she gulped a bit of it down and turned to place it on the side table. 

“I think this whole having me pick is ridiculous,” Dani declared as she looked over at Jamie, then back at the television. She seemed genuinely frustrated at the fact that she couldn’t come up with a name for her daughter, something that she thought should come so easily for her. With maternal instinct there should have been a natural name selection skill, but Dani hadn’t received that aptitude. She was sure she never would, and it certainly didn’t please her any more that Jamie left her with the responsibility to come up with one. 

It wasn’t because Jamie didn’t want to contribute, she just reasoned that if Dani was doing all the work to give them a child then it was only right for her to name her creation. Only seeing that it was a fair reward for all of Dani’s hard work. She compared it to the way an artist, upon finishing a painting, gave it a name. 

When Dani would continually fuss about her  not helping her, Jamie always persisted that she didn’t have the expertise needed to name a child, and she figured she’d only come up with something foolish. Dani always hated the doubt Jamie carried around with her and reminded her that she never gave herself enough credit. The affirmation didn’t budge Jamie in the slightest. 

“Well you’re doing all the work, and we already agreed that I choose her middle name, so it’s only fair, love,” she said simply. Dani huffed in response and folded her arms. A rare side of Dani’s was her stubbornness, but it seemed to lift to the surface as her emotions got the better of her in pregnancy. She was determined to set this straight which meant Jamie was going to have to help her out one way or another. 

“But Jamie,” she pouted and pondered what to say next that would successfully coax her wife. After coming up with nothing feasible, she groaned. “Haven’t you come up with anything at all?” 

“Sure I have, just a second ago in fact.” Dani’s eyes lit up at the prospect of a name until she saw that little smirk turn up the corner of Jamie’s mouth. She recognized the look immediately and knew a joke was on the brink. She already started to roll her eyes playfully as Jamie carried on, pointing in the direction of the television, “I reckon we pull a Golightly and just call her Baby,” she said, referring to the character’s inability to name her orange, tabby cat resorting to simply calling him Cat. Dani gave her a teasing glare before letting out the little delighted laugh that Jamie loved hearing in response to her jests. Jamie felt a bit smug knowing she could get Dani out of her blues with any simple joke. 

“All of those jokes are making you sound a lot like my dad,” Dani chuckled fondly. Jamie smiled at the knowledge of her unlocking another parental trademark: the dad jokes. She watched as Dani’s features took on a more serious look as she swept a stray hair away from Jamie’s face. She presented her with the most tempting pair of puppy-dog eyes. “Say, I’ll give you five bucks if we trade and you get to pick her name.”

“A fiver. That’s it? Cheap,” Jamie scoffed as she began to turn over to her back to face away from Dani. 

Dani groaned and gently pulled Jamie back to face her by her shoulder. “Please,” she begged. “If you leave this to me our baby is going to be named Jamie Jr. because that’s about all I have on my list right now.” Jamie laughed and playfully shrugged to express her content with another Jamie running around the house. Of course she’d never want that, but the fact that she made it seem so gave Dani quite the irking. The blonde began shaking Jamie’s shoulder light-heartedly for effect. “I swear to god, Jamie,” she whined.

Jamie’s laughter amplified at the sudden movement. She gripped Dani’s watch adorned wrist to steady all of the shaking. “Alright, alright. I’ll tell you what I’ve thought up. It’s quite embarrassing though,” she warned, her cheeks turning the lightest shade of pink as she began preparing how she’d tell Dani what she’d come up with. 

Dani grinned and settled on her side to fully face Jamie, an arm wrapping around her waist. “I’m all ears.”

Jamie drew in a contemplative breath and itched her forehead before looking back up at Dani. “I think we should name her after a flower,” she blurted, immediately giving her lip a subtle nibble, one of her many nervous ticks. She cringed at her own idea knowing that it sounded totally out of left field coming from her. It was an idea sweeter than saccharine, and that didn’t pair well with Jamie’s nature. She was also sure it would come off as too cliché because of her being a gardener. However, it was all Jamie could think about. She thought about how perfect it would be to name her after a little flower. It would encapsulate everything she imagined their daughter would be. Jamie had yet to meet her, but she imagined she’d be so small like a bud, only to grow into the most beautiful and pure being, just like her mother. 

Jamie couldn’t face whatever look Dani had waiting for her, so the bedding became awfully interesting to her as she began picking at its loose threads. “I mean we don’t have to do that, Dani. It’s just a stupid, little idea,” she muttered, hoping she would successfully backtrack from her previous proposition which so happened to be a defense mechanism of hers. If she was unsure, she could never stand to ground herself in her thoughts. She’d find ways to back out of every little hesitant thought she shared. 

Dani smiled warmly at the sight of Jamie stumbling on her words, looking so timid and unsure of herself. She couldn’t help but find her little fit of distress mildly endearing, but she pulled herself into action in order to settle her down. Sliding down the bed, she found the perfect angle, so she could find Jamie’s eyes with her own. She gave her an affectionate stare hoping it would send much needed reassurance. “No, it’s not stupid at all,” she said honestly, her hand gently caressing Jamie’s arm to ease her tension. Dani considered the idea for a moment longer and she smiled as she imagined all of the names they could choose from. She sat up and crossed her legs. “Daphne, I like that one. Or, Lily? Now that one is beautiful. I love lilies,” she began as a means to show Jamie how willing she was to follow through with her idea. 

Jamie watched her jump through different names that they could choose from. Her eyes followed the way her hands scattered about in gestures to support her enthusiastic explanations of the meanings of the potential names. Jamie let out a slight enthused huff as Dani hopped from name to name in her customary indecisiveness. As she watched Dani adorably ramble, the small smile on Jamie’s face rose to a grin as a sense of adoration dispersed through her core and left a soft burn in the pit of her stomach. 

“What do you think?” Dani asked her, snapping her out of her daze. Jamie met a pair of glistening eyes with her own, not really having registered a single word she had said as she was so lost in simply studying her. Dani realized this upon recognizing the familiar lost and fumbling look on Jamie’s face. “Of the name Lillian? Then we call her Lily,” she repeated. Jamie twisted her mouth and raised her eyes to the ceiling as she thought about it. Sure, it sounded nice, but now was her chance to come clean and tell her she’d already thought of a name that she thought was just perfect. 

“I was thinking of Magnolia,” she offered, hoping Dani would like it too. Dani tilted her head as she considered the name, imagining the way the flower's blushed beauty would parallel what she reasoned her baby would look like. A pair of rosy cheeks like the petals and deep, pink lips resembling the pistil. Instantaneously, she could vividly imagine herself with the tiniest bundle in her arms, looking down at the little pair of blue eyes that matched her own, and calling her by the name for the very first time. Jamie would be there to greet her with the name just as she had presented it moments before. She continued to paint about numerous scenarios within her mind, one being of them calling after the little girl who she was sure would have gotten her adventurous self into some kind of mischief, a trait she predicted she’d inherit from Jamie. Perhaps they’d even call her Maggie, she proposed. She softly let the name Magnolia Clayton roll off her tongue and it fell so perfectly. 

All of the images she created sent a shiver down her spine as everything began to make perfect sense. They had found the last little piece to complete the puzzle of their family, her name. An identifier that cemented that this was all real. There wasn’t anyone who would pinch her and pull her from this life she had only ever dreamt of. 

Dani faced Jamie with a pair of eyes that were brimmed with tears that were threatening to fall. She nodded and sealed the deal with a faint, “Okay.”

“Yeah?” Jamie beamed as she rose to her knees to reach Dani’s level. After receiving confirmation through sure nods from the blonde, she cupped her hands around her face and pressed her forehead against Dani’s. Both of their laughs intertwining into a jointed sense of jubilation. Jamie tilted Dani’s face to pepper gentle kisses on her lips, pulling away to rest her head against Dani’s again. “Magnolia,” she whispered. Their lips came together once more, exponentially deepening into something more passionate with each passing second. With a supportive hand to her back, Jamie gently guided Dani to lay down on the bed, a small moan escaping into Jamie’s mouth as her hand gripped the back of her neck to pull her closer. As Jamie had just let her eyes close in pure ecstasy at their contact, Dani let out a startling gasp into her mouth, two hands suddenly gripping onto her shoulders to push her away. 

Jamie jumped back from the start, “What?! Are you okay? Did I hurt you?” she asked in concern as she scanned Dani’s body then her face for any apparent, involuntary harm. Dani shook her head, her eyes radiating with delight and exhilaration. She grabbed Jamie’s hand and swiftly pulled it to rest on her lower belly. Jamie’s stunned and tensed form quickly softened as she felt a distinct and foreign movement under her palm. 

“You feel that?” Dani asked softly as she searched Jamie for a reaction. Still straddling Dani’s hips, she placed her other hand directly next to the other to confirm if what she felt was really there. Sure enough she felt another little surge of movement, and her mouth fell agape in astonishment, both hands coming up to cup her mouth. Her eyes took turns looking at Dani and the bump in shock. 

“That was fucking mad,” she declared, not having the capacity to say much more as her hands went back for another feel. “Goddamn, that’s our baby in there, Dani,” she laughed as a single tear rolled down her cheek. Dani nodded and reached her thumb up to brush away the tear, her hand lingering to cup her cheek. She mused at the women above her, and they silently shared endearing gazes, both knowing just how loved they were by one another. 

After leaving a kiss atop Dani’s belly, eliciting a little giggle from the blonde, Jamie fell over to lay on the bed and settled on her side. She opened up her arm, prompting Dani to claim her new position as little spoon. Jamie’s leg latched around Dani’s as a protective lock and her arm rested over her middle. “Cheeky thing couldn’t even let her mums have a moment,” she said with a shake of the head. Dani closed her eyes as she giggled at her joke, bringing her perfectly veined hand to her lips to leave a kiss at her knuckles. She let their fingers lace together and felt herself begin to doze off. 

“You know this means you have to pick her middle name now?” Jamie whispered. Dani groaned knowing it would only mean they’d through the same cycle they’d gone through previously.

“Let’s just leave it at Jamie, Magnolia Jamie, yeah I like that. Okay goodnight,” Dani said shortly with a yawn, but Jamie knew there was a smile growing on her lips. 

“Yeah no, ponder it in your dreams and tell me what you come up with in the morning, Poppins,” Jamie responded. 

The two continued to sleepily banter until their breathing evened out as they were simultaneously grasped by slumber. And they laid there in their bed, bodies entwined into a perfect mold, and a new day together only on the horizon. 



Chapter Text

July 3, 2001

The sky was a deep, dark blue with the faintest stars scattered about. The night was warm and humid, and the softest wind swished the leaves of the trees lining the street. The distant music from the band playing in the field filled the air, and every half a minute or so a loud crack from the countless firecrackers from around the neighborhood would sound. 

The soft yellow lights of the street lamps led Dani and Jamie’s path back to their house. The pair strolled down the road of their little downtown, watching all of the folks taking part in the little festival in their town. It was an event that happened every year on the night before the Fourth of July. Every year, Jamie and Dani always went. Mostly because Jamie would set up a little booth where people could come by to buy flowers. The said booth they had just shut down for the night so they could have the rest of the evening to themselves, especially now that Dani would grow tired easily. 

Jamie wrapped an arm around Dani’s shoulder, and in response, the blonde’s hand latched around the brunette’s waist. She turned to place a kiss on Jamie’s temple, not even holding care in the world that they were out in public for everyone to see. They had no reason to worry, for the entire town knew them and accepted them whole-heartedly.

“I can’t believe you insist on rubbing it in my face that we lost,” Jamie scoffed in reference to Dani always wanting to celebrate the holiday. Dani shrugged with a small, smug smile. Before she could come back with a wise remark, her attention was caught by the sounds of laughter and stomping footsteps barreling closer to them. She smiled endearingly as a few small children ran up to them with glowing sparklers and paper snaps, some being thrown on the ground as they ran. Dani immediately recognized them as her students. 

“Hi Miss Clayton,” one little girl with dark brown curls greeted happily. 

“Well hello there Maya,” Dani said as she bent over to her level as best as she could manage. The little girl handed her one newly lit sparkler and handed Jamie the other. Dani tilted her head and gave her a sweet smile, warranting the little girl to blush. “Thank you very much, that is so sweet of you,” she said. 

Maya ran off with her friends again and shouted, “You’re welcome, Miss Clayton!” 

Jamie spun her sparkler in the air in numerous shapes. Dani laughed at how captivated she was by the sparkler given they went through dozens every year they had been in America. “I fucking love these bloody things,” Jamie said as she whipped her arm about so the sparks would form a ‘D’, then an ‘A’, followed by an ‘N’ and ‘I’, each one dissipating before they could ever be deciphered. Suddenly, the sparks died out and Jamie frowned, watching as Dani’s was still ablaze. “What a scam,” she spat in a light-hearted manner, leaving Dani giggling. The blonde offered Jamie hers and planted a kiss on her cheek. 

“You’re cute when you’re mad,” Dani observed as she looked over at Jamie who returned a playful glare. The look transformed into an overexaggerated, vicious scowl with a scrunched nose, exposed teeth, and bulging eyes.

“How about now?” she asked through gritted teeth. 

A guffaw rang from the blonde as she placed a hand over Jamie’s face to hide it, shaking her head. “Put that away!” Dani yelped in her laughter. 

Jamie’s features softened into an admiring grin into the palm over her face as she watched Dani’s giggling continue through her slotted fingers. She peeled Dani’s hand off her face and mirrored her laughter. As they approached the hovering darkness of the tree just in front of their house, Jamie placed a loving kiss to her lips, two hands placed at Dani’s hips, her neck craning to reach over the bump between them. 

Jamie fumbled for the keys in her flannel pocket as Dani stared at her reflection in the window on their porch. “I look like a whale,” she whispered as she turned to the side to examine herself, her hand following the roundedness of her middle to accentuate its shape. Jamie looked over at her as she slipped the key in the lock, a small frown down turning her lips. She always hated it when Dani would say that about herself, knowing that Dani was unbelievably beautiful and looked just as she was meant to. 

“You certainly do not.” she said genuinely as she gently pulled the distracted Dani by the hand, kissing it, then leading her through the front door. She helped Dani out of her denim jacket then hung it by the door. She gave Dani a quick peck on the lips, and gave her a much needed compliment. “You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, love.” 

Dani blushed lightly and sighed contentedly. She was happy to be home. “I gotta get this little thing out of me I think,” she said with a chuckle, and Jamie mirrored her small laugh. She followed Jamie up their staircase, both of them silently acknowledging that they were tuckered out from the day and needed some sleep. 

Jamie stalled at the middle of the stairs and reached her hand out for Dani. “Two more weeks,” she reminded with a reassuring simper. Once they were linked, they sauntered up together.  

Jamie’s own reminder had her heart dropping to the pit of her stomach, suddenly feeling it being encompassed by overwhelming anxiety. It seemed so easy when they had months to go, but now that there were only weeks before their home was gaining another being, she couldn’t help but feel the panic slowly settle in. Like a little beast that was slowly eating her up, telling her how badly she was going to be at all of this, being a mother, a good wife. All of the same intrusive thoughts that bombarded her mind before they had ever decided to start a family. The same thoughts she had so successfully stowed away those years ago and hoped they’d never hop back out of their drawer. 

Her eyes glazed over as the little voice berated her over and over. She stared blankly in the same direction as Dani, who’d stopped at the top to watch a firecracker erupt in the sky from the window. Jamie was suddenly snapped from her invasive mind as Dani began to speak. “I remember my dad used to set those off all the time when I was little. Mom hated it so much,” she reminisced fondly, her blue eyes reflecting a burst of light as another shot up into the sky. Jamie came over and placed her body against Dani’s back, feeling a sense of comfort there as her warmth dispersed through Jamie. Her hands came to rest around her middle, and a chin rested on her shoulder. “I remember he let me light one once, I was six I think. I was barefoot and some of the sparks came down and burned my toes. Oh, I wailed and wailed. Mom came out and, boy, was she mad,” Dani said with a breathy chuckle. She kept looking out the window, mostly because she could feel the heat of tears in her eyes as the memory played through her head. It was one of the few that remained of her father. 

Then, she went on to mimic her mother’s voice from the memory, “James, I told you not to do that!” She followed with a warm laugh. After a pause, she continued. “Dad was so upset with himself…  He was a good Dad. Mom was good too until, you know,” she said softly, then she looked over at Jamie with a smirk. “I’m rambling aren’t I?” 

Jamie looked into her eyes and saw the glisten of tears in them. She gave her a reassuring shake of the head and an unfeigned smile, hoping she’d continue. Jamie cherished the moments where Dani would talk about her childhood because of how sparse they were. She knew a lot of her past was touchy, and she never pushed her to open up. No matter how curious she was, she knew it wasn’t her business until Dani made it hers. For a short moment, Dani returned the fond smile before it fell away.

“I’m scared Jamie,” Dani said, only able to muster a whisper, her face serious as it gazed into Jamie. A single tear fell from her eye, and she looked away quickly in the slightest embarrassment. She’d cried hundreds of times in front of Jamie, but she felt too vulnerable then. She felt so put together through all of this, so sure of herself and her abilities. But she felt overcome by this burdening fear of losing grasp of something she hadn’t even touched yet. Of failing her child the way her parents had. What if she put her through the same thing her father did, what if she left like that? Or what if she confided in a vice the way her mother did and neglected her? It all made her feel exposed in a way that she hated; so small and dejected. 

Jamie’s personal distress fell away momentarily, a sense of determination to prevent Dani from crumbling replacing it. She turned Dani to face her and cupped her face with her hands. “You have nothing to be afraid of, Dani,” she assured. An assurance meant not only for Dani but herself as well. She searched the blue eyes before her and watched her features soften, illuminated only by the subtle light seeping through the window. “We’re gonna be just fine,” she said as she brushed away tears from her cheeks and wiped the ones that fell to her chin. She placed a kiss to her cheek, then a lingering one on her lips, hoping a sense of confidence would be translated through it. 

“Are you scared?” Dani asked. Jamie felt her heart stop briefly as she pondered what to say. She didn’t want to make it seem like both of them were ridden with fear, but she couldn’t lie either. No matter how much she thought about something to say, some way to portray poise, she couldn’t. 

“Words can’t describe how scared I am,” Jamie said as her hands fell from Dani’s face to her sides, finding a home in her pockets. She felt a bit ashamed announcing that. 

In one fell swoop, all of those thoughts returned. Almost enough to get Jamie to stiffen and seize. The urge to run, to leave now, seemed overbearing. She must have inherited that from her parents. Her dad hid away and her mom ran from her issues. The apple couldn’t have fallen far from that tree. “I sometimes- I think I’m not cut out for this,” she confessed, instantly regretting the words as they left her mouth. One more thing to scare Dani: an apprehensive wife. 

“What do you mean?” Dani questioned with concern. Jamie stumbled over her words with no ability to give her a coherent reply. How could she possibly tell her about the stresses she’d had for the last couple of months? The will to just run off in the middle of the night because of her fear of making a mess of something so perfect crossing her mind on multiple occasions. How could she ever explain that Dani, especially if she couldn’t explain it to herself? 

Of course she’d never act on those thoughts. There would be no way she’d leave Dani or their baby. There was not one thought, one person, one thing that could rip that woman from the two people she loved most. But it didn’t make the thoughts any easier to handle. 

Dani searched Jamie’s expression, hoping she wasn’t serious. “Jamie,” she said softly as a hand came out to caress her arm. “Of all people, you’re....” Jamie shook her head and scoffed with enough vigor that it stopped Dani from continuing. Jamie looked to her feet, and she realized her eyes had that familiar burn and her cheeks felt the sensation of trickling tears. She subtly licked them away as they reached her lips.

Jamie couldn’t face this tension any longer and turned to walk to their room. Dani gripped her arm and turned her around, a bit more aggressively and desperately than she intended. Jamie’s face sent a rush of fear through her. She hadn’t seen it before, but she could read it like she’d seen it a thousand times before. It was the look of giving up, the look of being unsure, too unsure. “What are you so afraid of, Jamie?” Dani asked gently, her hold on Jamie loosening. Her face was visibly shown with concern and a need to comprehend.  

“I fuck up,” she snapped as if it were such an obvious answer. “I screw up and do something wrong. What if I-What if I pull all of the shit my parents did, huh? I couldn’t even take care of my brothers when it mattered.” The volume of her voice sent Dani subtly jumping back in shock. Jamie instantly regretted the way she had spoken to her, but her stubbornness ensured her aggravation would remain. 

Dani’s posture lightened, and she pushed forward, trying desperately to calm Jamie down and reassure her. She attempted to grab Jamie’s hand, but the brunette refused it. Dani let out a dispirited huff. “Jamie, you were just a kid,” she said with a tinge of annoyance, but still that characteristic genuine manner remained. Jamie shook her head, her energy to continue this argument quickly depleting. She knew she’d dug herself a hole, and she didn’t know how to explain herself now. Or, maybe, she didn’t have the will to. She turned again and made her way to the bedroom, trying to escape the conflict. Before she could make it in, Dani was pulling her around again. “Hey, don’t you go running of on me now, Jamie,” she warned. 

Jamie glared at her. “I’m not running off,” she objected with a grimace. 

“You’ve got that look, Jamie. I’m not stupid. You want out, and you can’t do that, not when…” she rambled angrily until Jamie interjected. 

“Don’t do that. I hate it when you do that!” Jamie shouted with a finger pointed at Dani. “You act so sure of yourself. I never even said that!” she spat. 

“Jamie, you’ve made it very clear over the last couple of weeks,” Dani insisted through oncoming sobs as she intently rubbed away the tears staining her face. With that, Dani realized she was only getting a rise out of her. Sure Jamie had been a bit distant here and there, but she knew there was no way she would really leave. Why would she? She’d been there every moment for the last fourteen years. They were devoted to one another. They’d promised to stay by each other’s side for the rest of their lives. Everything had always been so perfect, so there was no possible reasoning for Dani to think Jamie would leave. However, she couldn’t ignore her fright caused by Jamie's newly established worry and hesitance. 

“How? How have I made it so clear? By taking care of you? By being there for you every fucking moment, Dani? For being excited?” she condescended, waving her arms about to gesture her frustration. “I can’t be scared? Now that’s bullshit, Dani!” Jamie shouted with a crumbling voice. She inched closer to her wife. “For you to think, Dani- For you to think that I would ever leave,” she said and then scoffed before continuing, “That is one hell of a blow.” Jamie gave a final turn which cemented the end of their fight. “I’m going to bed,” she mumbled as she walked into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her. 

Dani stood in the hallway, speechless. She hated to admit it, but she stood a while longer just waiting. Waiting for Jamie to come back out so they could reconcile and fall into the consolation of each other's arms, but this was different. It was easy to reason why it was different because it was so rare for them to fight. So rare that she could probably count on both hands how many times they’d had a serious argument over the last fourteen years. And this one time, well it was surely one of the worst fights they’d ever had, no matter how short it had been. 

Suddenly, the blonde was falling apart into sobs, her shoulders sunken and shaking. She meandered through the hallway and took her time down the stairs. She stopped at the couch and laid herself out on top of it, crying until she dozed off. She felt like a fool, holding a ton of regret upon her shoulders. There was no reason to start a fight, but they’d done it anyway. And at the worst time a couple could ever fight. Just weeks before they were bound to become a family. 

However, other plans were in place for the couple as it turned out. An hour or so must have passed when Dani was jolted awake by a cold sensation underneath her. Something undeniably wet. She sat up quickly and examined the couch, touching the part of her soaked dress to observe it. She knew immediately what it was, and the knowledge sent a debilitating rush of panic through her bones. She shook her head as her breathing picked up pace. 

“No, no, no, no, no. Not yet.” 

 


 

Jamie laid awake in their bed, tossing and turning. She was far from feeling tired because her mind was fueled by all the remorse she felt for the way she’d spoken to Dani. How could she be so mindless? Her poor wife was elsewhere in the house, sad and alone. And she started it. She could have just sucked it up and kept her feelings to herself, but she had to go and run her mouth. 

She finally settled on her back, and stared at the ceiling, the darkness making her vision fuzzy and static-filled. She decided being that stubborn wasn’t worth all of the trouble, so she started to roll out of bed to go find Dani. She froze as the door came creaking open, startling her. Her head whipped to its direction. A figure, the shape of Dani, inched closer. The closer she got the louder the sniffles, heavy breathing, and sobs were. “Jamie,” she croaked. 

The sound of her voice was enough to send Jamie upright and she turned on the bedside lamp. The sight of her had her out of the bed in seconds and running over to her. Dani was sheet white and in a panic, her breathing was ragged and quick. 

Jamie gently pushed Dani’s hair away from her eyes and guided her face so their gazes could meet. “Dani, what is it? What’s wrong?” Jamie asked, voice ridden with concern.

In a fit of sobs, Dani managed to stammer out, “My-my-water.” That was enough for Jamie to understand. She looked down at Dani’s dress and noticed it right away. Her own bout of nerves started filling her up, and everything they had prepared for seemed to slip their minds. Suddenly, they had no idea what to do. 

Jamie quickly led her wife over to the bed and sat her down. Both of her hands came to cup her cheeks. “Hey, hey. It’s okay,” she said and took in and let out a breath for Dani to mirror. Jamie repeated that until she had calmed her down enough. She pulled a now significantly more tranquil Dani into her chest, and held her close. “I’m right here, Dani,” Jamie reminded, solely as a way to get Dani to understand that it would always be that way. That no matter what, she’d be there. Jamie gently pushed away from the embrace and looked deep into frantic blue eyes. “We’re going to be okay,” she reassured with a sure smile and a small chuckle. She let her knuckles softly caress her cheek. 

Dani nodded and her lips upturned into the slightest smile. “I know,” she said and closed her eyes to take a moment to breath again. 

With both hands attached to Dani’s face, Jamie put her forehead against hers. “I love you so much,” she whispered and placed a couple of gentle kisses to Dani’s lips. Every one a reminder of her love and an apology for her actions. 

“I love you too,” Dani muttered and leaned into Jamie’s forehead again. “I’m so sorry.”

Jamie pulled away and gave Dani a simple shake of the head, a way to tell her there was no reason to apologize. Dani’s face formed into a pained grimace and she winced, she’d been hit with her first contraction. Jamie looked at her concerned, and held onto the small of Danis back as she rode through the pain. 

“Jamie, I love you, but I think we need to go now,” Dani said as she took huffing breaths. 

Jamie nodded and stood up. She carefully pulled Dani up and helped her over to their closet. She pulled the green dress over Dani’s head and helped her into a pair of joggers and a sweatshirt. They took a moment to look at themselves in the mirror. 

“Last time we’ll look like this Jamie,” Dani sighed. “Just the two of us.” As much as she liked the sight before her, the vision of them standing just there but with a baby was enough to have her preferring that instead. She kissed Dani’s cheek and laced their hands together, leading her out the door. 

When they were out of the bedroom, multiple commands to grab this and that came from the blonde as they made their way downstairs, and the brunette was quick to follow through with each one. 

Jamie’s previous troubled feeling from their conflict fell away so easily now that she knew there was something huge about to happen. Something so unbelievably exciting and new. She could feel her heart swell at the thought of them having a child in mere hours –that she was aware would come and go before she knew it. Come tomorrow, they’d be walking into their home as a set of three. 

The fear that she was ridden with seemed to evaporate once they were finally in the car. She grabbed Dani’s hand, gazing at the woman before her with joy and confidence. She gave her a big smile. “Let’s go have ourselves a baby.” 



Chapter Text

July 4, 2001

Jamie paced the big hospital room, having done a lot of that for the past twelve hours she’d been there with Dani. She’d stop to fidget with something, whether it was the picture frame on the wall needing to be straightened, the bottles on the sink counter needing organization, or the blinds needing to be shut to block out the sun. 

She couldn’t deny how uneasy she felt being there. She hated hospitals, with all the beeping and thumping coming from the numerous machines in there. She especially hated having to watch whenever Dani was distressed, which had already happened quite often. 

She tried to avoid eye contact with the nurse in the room, but she found herself nervously staring as the woman poked and prodded at her wife, eliciting small little winces from Dani. She bit at her thumb nail, her eyebrows lifted in a face of concern. She heard the nurse comment on how she was progressing and that she’d be back in a while. Dani watched as she left the room, then looked at Jamie directly across from her, who’d turned around to fix up the bulletin board behind her, pushing the images straight and erasing left over marks on the whiteboards. It was just another way of fiddling away at her nerves. 

Dani watched her lazily, almost in a trance. She’d been so willing to go about the labor naturally until she began wailing through the pain only a few hours later, demanding that she get something to take it away. It was quite a traumatic experience for Jamie, having to watch Dani in that much pain. She must have pushed the nurse call button a hundred times until they came rushing in. 

So, as of then she was deep into all of the medications they’d put her on. Half of her body was numb, and her head felt like it was floating. She giggled softly as she watched Jamie move onto another spot in the room to fix it up. “Babe stop that, come here,” she said calmly as she patted the empty spot beside her on the bed and beckoned Jamie over. 

Jamie turned on her heel and looked at Dani. She gave her a nervous chuckle in the slightest humiliation before sauntering over to sit beside her. She leaned back and felt Dani’s head settle on her shoulder. Jamie watched the screen beside them and saw a big spike on the monitor, it was a contraction. She looked over at Dani who hadn’t a care in the world. “You didn’t feel that?” Jamie asked with surprise. Dani lifted her head drowsily and eyed the monitor then back to her.

“Babe, I can’t feel a damn thing,” she said as she plopped her head back onto Jamie’s shoulder, the quick movement giving her a head rush that elicited giggles from her. Jamie mirrored her small laughter upon realizing exactly how high she was. “Do you-do you-um,” she stumbled and then laughed when she realized how hard it was for her to formulate her sentences. She hadn’t done much talking until Jamie came to sit next to her. She took in a settling breath in order to find the poise to continue. “Do you remember that pot we smoked in Paris?” she whispered as if it were a secret no one in the world could know. Jamie gave her an amused smirk then nodded.

“Yeah, I remember,” she chuckled. And she sure did remember. She could clearly recall being in their hotel room and Dani was stoned out of her mind. She could distinctly remember her being slumped over on the bed, belly laughing to the point Jamie was afraid she may kill over from the lack of oxygen. They’d just finished a joint that Owen had given them and also warned would probably destroy their brains. Jamie was worried that he was actually telling the truth. She felt fine, just high enough, but Dani… Well Dani was nearly dead she thought. She ended up falling to her back on the carpet as her eyes just shut into a mode of the purest zen. She slurred how her body tingled and her head tickled. Then she passed out, not to wake up until the morning.

“Well it’s like that, but so much better,” she declared, drawing out the ‘so’ for inflection. 

Jamie admired the dazed look on her face, her hand coming up to rest on her cheek as she leaned in to place a soft kiss on her lips. However, before they could meet, a knock sounded at the door and a woman walked in, another nurse. 

Jamie rolled her eyes, growing very tired of someone walking into their room every fifteen minutes. She understood it was because they considered Dani to be high risk because of her age. She was fourty, making her much older than most mothers. So, they had to keep their eye on her as much as possible. Jamie was thankful for it, but wished they could just be left alone for a while. To prepare and spend these last moments by themselves. 

They pulled apart quickly and cleared their throats. Dani smoothed out the covers on the bed and folded her hands just below her belly. Jamie sat upright, crossing her legs to make it seem she was in the at position the entire time. After all, they still had to play it cool around strangers, they were never very open about their relationship. 

“Hi,” Dani greeted with a welcoming smile as the woman approached them.

The nurse, an older woman with greying auburn hair, checked her clipboard and lifted her eyes to look at them. “Very nice of you to have your sister with you, Miss Clayton,” she remarked as she went back to writing down Dani’s vitals.

If Dani were drinking water just then, she was sure she’d be spitting it out in shock. She felt herself freeze, and a hand came up to latch over her mouth. Mostly to keep any laughter from slipping through, she didn’t want to embarrass the nurse. 

Jamie and Dani’s eyes went wide and they quickly met each other’s, silently conveying their confusion and surprise to one another. Jamie faced the nurse. She parted her lips to speak but found herself at a loss for words. She hadn’t heard that one before, and rightfully so. Jamie and Dani, first of all, looked nothing alike. And they thanked God for that. Of course, they’d run into their fair share of assumptions from people. Namely, people admiring their ‘close’ friendship, or how amazing it was that they managed to be roommates for so long. But this? Sisters? That was new. 

She gave a playful smirk, willing to play along now. She hooked an arm around Dani. “Yeah, we’re twins actually,” she explained, her mind running quick to find the rest of her witty remark. Dani gave her a confused expression, not knowing at all where she was taking it. She looked over at Dani and furrowed her brow. “It’s crazy though, because Mum somehow had me all the way across the pond, up in Manchester. Flew back here, and had you 10 minutes later. Wild, innit, Dani?” she said dramatically with the utmost sarcasm included. Dani bit her lip to suppress her laughter, a much harder feat now that she was higher than a kite. 

The nurse’s face went utterly puzzled and she shook her head, realizing she must have made a mistake. She didn’t find the patronizing entertaining the way either of the two women did though, so she quickly went through the rest of the analysis then was out the door again. They watched as she went, and as soon as she was out the door, the pair was erupting into laughter. 

“Sisters?” Jamie scoffed in disgust, her voice falling into another fit of giggles. “That has got to be the worst one I’ve heard yet.” Dani used her knuckle to wipe the tear from her eye that was caused by her laughing. She then pulled Jamie by the shirt so she’d lay down again beside her, letting their previously interrupted moment resume. With a hand shaping Jamie’s jaw, she urged her forward so their lips could tenderly meet. They peppered a couple pecks to each other’s lips before settling both of their heads against the pillows, Jamie turning to her side so she could fully face her. She caressed the blonde’s cheek with the back of her hand before leaving a gentle kiss to her nose. The soft touch sent a chill down her spine as presented by the slightest shiver. 

Dani gazed into the woman’s eyes before her, cherishing this small moment between them. She felt herself go a bit drowsy as her mouth parted into a yawn. Soon, the need to rest her eyes overcame her. She slowly turned to her other side, tugging on Jamie’s arm so her body could press against hers until they were spooning, their bodies always perfectly molding together like they were meant to be together. Jamie moved a chunk of Dani’s hair to expose her neck so she could place a kiss there. “Close your eyes,” she whispered. “I’m gonna grab a drink.” She patted Dani's hand and sat up. Dani gripped Jamie’s arm which halted her from leaving the bed. 

“Don’t go,” she mumbled sleepily. The small desperation in her voice had Jamie lying back down, her hand brushing Dani’s arm to lull her to sleep. She knew she’d need the rest given what she’d have to put herself through soon and all of the gruelling months to follow of them having to care for their daughter. 

Jamie pried her hand from Dani’s grasp once she felt her breathing even out. She peeked around her to ensure she was asleep, left a kiss to her cheekbone, then tiptoed out of the room. 

 


 

She made her way down the hallway, awkwardly smiling at nurses and doctors as they passed. The smell filling the air and the piercingly bright white of the tiles and walls were enough to make her feel uneasy again. She’d think it a million times if she could, but, once again, she reminded herself how much she hated hospitals. 

To escape it, she entered the bathroom for a moment. She stood against the sink and stared at her reflection. She was surprised to see frizzy hair and eyes with dark bags. She fixed the collar of her blue and brown flannel, and straightened the tank top she had under it. With a turn of the faucet, water was running into her hands and she splashed it onto her face to give her a much needed jolt. She reckoned she’d been up over 24 hours now, and she could feel the exhaustion begin to seep into her bones. With her damp hands she smoothed her hair, then looked back into the mirror. Only slightly more pleased with her reflection, Jamie grabbed a paper towel and used it to dry her face and hands before departing the restroom. 

She made it to the end of the hall where the water machine was. She grabbed a cup and filled it with water, bringing it up to her lips to take a sip. Turning on her heels, she took a moment to observe her surroundings. The waiting room, in particular, grabbed her attention. The sight of groups of people mingling happily overwhelmed her for some reason. Maybe because they were all there for the same reason: to celebrate new life. There to support all of the couples welcoming children that very same day, an extra special day given it was the Fourth of July.

Jamie felt a rush of disappointment fill the pit of her stomach as she yearned for that, other people to share this moment with. To have a semblance of a bigger family to celebrate this joy with. She wondered what it would have been like if Denny and Mikey were still in her life. Would they be there? How would they react to seeing their little niece for the first time. She let her mind dive deeper into imagining the lives her brothers were living, where they were, and if they had families of their own. The irrational guilt of knowing she was the cause of their being split up kept her from thinking any longer about it.

Instead, she thought of the people Dani and her knew mutually. She thought about Miles and Flora and how happy they would be to meet the newest addition to Dani’s and her life. And Owen, she was sure of how happy he’d be to meet her. In fact, he was the only one she still kept in touch with regularly. They’d talk all the time, especially recently. Owen became increasingly excited to hear about the baby’s arrival. It reminded her that she needed to call him. She locked the reminder in her mind as she downed the rest of her water, threw the cup in the trash, and turned the rest of the way to head back to the room. Not paying attention, she ran into a figure in front of her. The contact startled her and she looked up at the man. He was tall, dressed down in a pair of Levi’s and a leather jacket. His black hair was buzzed but still recognizably tightly coiled. 

“Oh dear, I’m so sorry,” she said, cheeks lightly blushed with embarrassment. 

He shook his head with a reassuring smile and in a low voice responded,  “No worries at all, Ma’am.” As they made eye contact, Jamie immediately knew this guy would be the conversational type. Mostly because he didn’t walk away, instead he kept standing there right before her. She could see he was filled with excitement, maybe he was a new father. She could tell he wanted to share that with the world, to find another person to confide in. She happened to be perfect bait it seemed. Jamie wondered briefly if he was in the same predicament as her, no one else to celebrate with except for his partner. “Uh, who you here for?” he asked as his head gestured towards the big windowed room before them. Jamie looked over, not even noticing before that just across from her was the nursery. Jamie approached the window and looked at all of the brand new babies either asleep or wailing as they’re being attended to by nurses. She shook her head with a simper. 

“Not here quite yet,” she said simply. She looked up at him. “You?” she asked. 

He looked around the room until he spotted his own. He pointed at a tiny baby boy. “Right there,” he beamed proudly with a wide grin that radiated so much happiness that Jamie couldn’t help but smile herself. “His name’s Dylan, he’s my first.”

He started to walk towards the balcony doors and pulled a carton of cigarettes out of his jacket pocket, tapping them against his palm. He looked around his shoulder at Jamie. “You smoke?”

“No, not really,” she responded, not having smoked in months, especially now that a baby was going to keep her from ever continuing with the habit. However, a cigarette sounded just about the nicest thing she could have right then. 

“Neither do I,” he chuckled as he opened the door, standing to keep it open, cascading his arm in front of him as an invitation for Jamie to join him outside. She walked out the door and leaned against the railing of the balcony, admiring the view of countless neighborhoods and parks.

The man let the door shut behind him before joining Jamie against the railing. He slipped a cigarette between his lips then offered the carton over to Jamie so she could take one, which she did happily. He lit the cigarette and took a drag. Upon exhaling, he looked over at her.

“I’m Paul by the way,” he introduced as he handed Jamie the lighter. 

She lit her own cigarette and took a long hit, handing back the lighter as she did so. She savored it for a while before exhaling. “Jamie, ” she said as she reached out her hand to shake his. 

“Nice to meet you Jamie.”

“Same to you, Paul,” she smiled. 

“So what brings you to the delivery ward? Sister having a kid?” he asked as he tapped the ash off his cigarette. 

With a scoff she brought the cigarette back to her lips. She internally wondered what it was with all of these people thinking they were sisters. 

Before admitting why she was there, she looked him up and down. She could usually recognize immediately whether or not someone would be judgemental. While other gay people had strong ‘gaydar’, she had the best ‘homophobe-radar.’ But with his calm and kind demeanor, she reasoned he wouldn’t think anything negatively of it. 

“My partner actually,” she admitted, her thumb coming up to itch her temple. She felt a bit of nervousness settle in the pit of her stomach in hopes that her character assumption was correct.

“Oh fuck, I’m sorry,” he laughed in response to his very incorrect presumption. “I forget that... you know...” he said, stopping as he realized whatever he was about to say would come off extremely wrong and not the way he intended. 

“That lesbians exist?” Jamie asked, her eyebrow raised in a false annoyance. She watched him grow a bit flustered and she just laughed, patting him on his shoulder. “I’m just fucking around.”

His posture quickly relaxed and he sighed in relief, dissolving into laughter. He brought his cigarette up for another drag. “Your first?” he asked her. She nodded. “Yeah, first baby.”

“Bet you’re scared shitless,” Paul chuckled. Jamie took in a confirming breath as she gripped the railing, teetering back and forth. 

“I am about ready to implode, Paul,” she laughed, shaking her head. “I didn’t really think I’d ever make it here to be quite honest. Having a partner, let alone bein’ a mum,” she admitted. 

“Oh neither did I. I never had my life sorted out, never had much of any family to lean on. I was idlin’ up until I met Nadine, my wife. She changed my life. Then Dylan,” he said as he pointed his thumb behind himself in the general direction of where the nursery was inside, “Not even ten hours old and he’s changed me beyond belief. I was so scared I was gonna fuck up, be a bad father. But I just look at him, and I hold him you know? And I just think ‘this is it.’ My whole life, no matter how fucked up it was, led up to this moment. And I know that nothing else matters but him. That I have to do everything I can to do right by him,” he said, looking over at her. He shook his head. “It’s crazy how life works, man.” 

Jamie watched him and listened to him as he spoke, immediately recognizing similarities between his life and her own. She too felt like she was idling before Dani. No matter how many times she claimed she liked the way her life was when she was alone, it was all a farce. She was bitter about not having anyone, but she was afraid of being vulnerable. Sure she had lovers,  there were plenty of women before Dani. But none of them had the same effect on her. Not even close. Even with Dani, Jamie vowed she would never let her in. But Dani changed her completely, she never thought one person could have the capacity to do that for her. She made her genuinely happy for the first time in her life. 

Both of their heads turned towards the door as it flung open, a nurse peeking out. “One of you a Jamie?” she asked. 

Paul looked over at Jamie and the brunette turned around fully to face her. “Uh, that’s me.”

“A Danielle Clayton needs you. Looks like you’re having yourself a baby,” she smiled. 

Jamie froze in place, her face flushed and hands immediately feeling clammy. It was time. They were going to have their baby. Paul put an affirming hand to her shoulder. “Go on now,” he said. She flicked her cigarette over the balcony and bolted forward past the nurse. “Good luck!” he shouted after her. She flung up a hand to wave at him. 

She ran down the hall faster than she’d ever run before, a million thoughts racing through her head. She got to the room and barged in. The sight before her was something she hadn’t prepared herself for. Dani was laying there, knees perched into position. Her eyes were wide with panic, and her breath was fast and ragged. “I’m not ready! I need Jamie, where’s Jamie?” she cried desperately as nurses were scurrying around her, prodding and touching her. Surely they were scaring her and overwhelming her, the last thing she needed. 

Jamie raced over to her side. “I’m here, Dani. I’m here, baby,” she reassured as she softly ran a hand down the side of her face to calm her down. Wide, distressed blue eyes stared into her own. 

“Where the hell were you?” she cried as she gripped Jamie’s offered hand. “Were you smoking?” she asked, taken aback by whatever Jamie had to have been doing.

Jamie was at a loss for words knowing that she was in big trouble. She should have expected that in all honesty. Before she had the chance to give her excuses, Dani was doubling over in pain from a contraction. 

“We’re going to need you to start pushing, Miss Clayton,” the doctor said as she took hold of her knees. She nodded and looked over at Jamie, her eyes welling with fearful tears. She looked so afraid and it broke Jamie’s heart. She wished she could transfer all the confidence and the strength she had in her, but only her words would do. 

“You can do this Dani. I know you can. It’ll be over before you know it, baby,” Jamie said as she looked deep into her eyes and kissed her forehead. Dani nodded, and let her body lead the way. She let out a piercing grunt as she went into her first push, gripping Jamie’s hand with all of her might.

A full thirty minutes must have passed, but neither woman cared to comprehend the time. Both were intently motivated to have this baby. One, Dani, doing it herself, and the other, Jamie, rooting her on.

“I can’t do it, Jamie. I can’t,” Dani cried, her body at a loss of energy. She swore it was the worst pain she’d ever felt in her life, and she begged for it to be over. 

“Yes you can, Dani. You’re almost done,” she told her as she kissed her forehead. “You’re almost there.”

She was crushing Jamie’s hand with every push, and Jamie was sure her hand was going to fall off with the amount of circulation that was lost. But she endured it and kept softly encouraging her in her ear. Telling her how good she was doing and how proud she was. She slid the sweat slicked hair out of Dani’s face, kissed her cheek, and counted her through another push. 

Almost as quickly as it began, or so it felt, it ended. With one final yelp, Dani’s head fell back onto the bed in relief, heaving breaths following. Seconds later, wailing filled the room. The distinctive cries of their baby girl sounded like music to their ears. The most joyous tears fell from her eyes as she gazed lovingly at Dani. She pressed a passionate kiss to her lips before smothering her entire face with kisses, certainly not giving a damn about the opinions of anyone else in the room. 

“You did it, my love!” she exclaimed as she let out a giddy laugh. Dani returned an exhausted smile.

Jamie looked over at the baby who was whisked away to be examined. She was already captivated by her. So much so, that she found herself instinctively walking over, before even registering she was doing so, to make sure she was alright. Hovering over the nurses, she looked her daughter over, counting fingers and toes as she did. She was absolutely perfect. The nurses carefully placed the swaddled infant into Jamie's arms, her wails turning to significantly smaller whimpers.

Dani was suddenly enveloped in the most elated and overwhelmed sobs as Jamie put the little baby on her chest; the infant’s distress dissipating instantly. The love Dani held for her newborn daughter engulfed her completely, and she was determined to protect her and love her with every ounce of her being. She was a mother. A title that she never imagined she’d be lucky enough to hold.

“Hi, baby girl,” Dani greeted with a wide grin through sobs. Jamie sniffled and admired her wife and baby. Her family; the most wonderful one at that. She planted one more kiss to Dani’s lips, then pressed a feathery light kiss to the baby’s forehead. 

Soon after, the nurses and doctor cleared the room, and only the three of them were left. Dani gazed up at Jamie with tired eyes, she gave her a smile and rested her hand against Jamie's cheek, wiping away the stray tears that were still falling. "We've got a family, Jame."

Jamie smiled and nodded, not having the ability to answer with the lump in her throat. Her eyes held the answer though. Glowing with so much love.

“I’m a mum,” she finally managed with a sniffle, chuckling in disbelief. Leaving Dani to chuckle drowsily in amusement.

 


 

Eight hours old. Jamie couldn’t believe it as she looked down at the baby girl in her arms, peacefully asleep with Jamie’s pinky in her hand. The two were sitting in the chair across from Dani’s bed, the subtle light of the moon shining over them. 

She admired the infant in her arms, looking so tiny and delicate. She squirmed slightly and yawned, Jamie freezing in response as to not wake her. Jamie gazed down at her adoringly. “Oh Magnolia,” she cooed. “I don’t think you know just how loved you are, little sprout.” 

Jamie looked over at her sleeping wife, sure to keep her voice quiet enough as to not bother her. The first bout of maternal panic set into Dani, so she refused at first to sleep in fear of something happening while she was down. Jamie assured her that she wouldn’t let a thing happen. So, Dani had been napping for a few hours by then. 

Magnolia’s pair of blue eyes opened and with a squint stared up at Jamie. “Oh hello there, little love,” she smiled, the overwhelming sensation of love almost sending her into another fit of tears. She rocked back and forth in the chair to attempt to lull her back to sleep. She peeked up at Dani to make sure she was still sleeping because she knew she couldn’t let another soul see what she was about to do. “Don’t you ever tell Mama I did this,” she said as she began softly humming, thinking of and altering the lyrics to pertain to her daughter, and then she started to sing to her, a talent she never let the world know she had. “Born with the sun in Cancer. Choose her a name she'll answer to. Call her green and the winters can not fade her. Call her green for the children who have made her little, green,” she sang just above a whisper, and Magnolia’s tiny eyes fluttered shut in response. 

She continued to sing, so entranced by Magnolia that she didn’t notice Dani wake up. The blonde lazily turned her head to the direction of the soft singing. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The entire fourteen years they’d been together, Dani had never heard her sing. She was sure Magnolia could get her to do just about anything, though. She saw the change in her already, the way her heart opened up and held a piece that belonged just to their daughter. 

The sound of her rolling over to face them made Jamie look up at her. Seeing her awake and realizing she must have heard, made her gulp and her cheeks turn a bright pink. 

“Singing her some Joni, huh?” Dani chuckled quietly. 

“Gotta start her early,” Jamie shrugged with a smile as she carefully stood up and walked to Dani, placing Magnolia just beside her. She cradled her with one arm and held the other over her tiny body, running a knuckle lightly down her plump cheek, kissing her tiny nose, and smiling down at her. 

“She’s so beautiful, Jamie,” she croaked as a tearful lump caught up in her throat, her gaze never leaving her. Her fingers softly curled the little tufts of blonde hair on her head. “I can’t believe she’s ours.”

Jamie adoringly watched them, wanting to hold the sight forever, longing to capture it like a photograph. 

A bright light caught Jamie’s attention from the corner of her eye, and she looked out the window. A huge blue firework erupted in the sky, followed by another, and another. Jamie watched them in awe, fantasizing that the city was celebrating their daughter. She believed she was important enough, but, of course, it was just the finale to end the Fourth of July. 

“Help me up,” Dani said as she slowly struggled to sit upright. Jamie held her hand and supported the baby in her arms as she helped her stand. Dani took Jamie’s hand and steadily walked them to the window so they could watch the fireworks, their first as a family. Jamie wrapped an arm around Dani’s waist and kissed the side of her head.

“Baby born on the Fourth of July,” Jamie said, shaking her head in a fake disappointment. 

Dani grinned up at her. “She’s undeniably American, Jamie. You have to learn to face it, babe,” she joked. 

“My daughter, an American?” she scoffed in jest. “Never.” 

Dani laughed softly and leaned into Jamie. “Magnolia Elaine,” she said, her eyes leading hesitantly to look at her wife. Jamie looked over at her shocked. It was the first time she was hearing of her middle name. She was actually certain Dani would never come up with one and their child would cease to have a middle name. The name brought tears to Jamie’s eyes and she tilted her head, not believing Dani could possibly mean that. 

“Are you serious?” Jamie asked. 

“Yeah, I think she should get your middle name, and it has a ring to it. Magnolia Elaine,” she said simply, repeating the name just to hear it again. Sounding just perfect enough to know it was exactly what they’d name her. Magnolia Elaine Clayton. 

Jamie brought Dani into a kiss to show her thankfulness, and she pressed their foreheads together. Dani gave her a picturesque smile and, with her thumb, wiped the stray tear that had fallen down her cheek.

“I love you, Jamie,” she whispered, wanting to drill that idea into Jamie’s brain. Of course Jamie knew, but she wanted her to know just how thankful she was for her and how appreciated she was. To express the fact that without her she wouldn’t be complete, that she gave her the strength to live a genuine life. She made her realize that there was room to love, and she had no idea how to thank her for that. But a part of her knew Jamie was aware of it already because they were just that for the both of each other. 

“I love you too, Poppins,” she replied with a sniffle, letting their lips join for one more kiss before both their gazes fell down to the baby in Dani’s arms. 

And so they both stood, transferring stares between their daughter, each other, and the blossoming fireworks in the sky. Both of them in pure disbelief and reverence that this was their life. They had been lucky enough to share it with each other, with the purest devotion, support, and love. Now, they had a product of that. A daughter that they could love and raise, cherish and teach. Both women lost focus simultaneously as they dipped into their own fantasies and visions of their family in the future, as soon as what was to come tomorrow, all the way to years ahead. But no matter what was to truly come, they’d always be together. There would be nothing to get in the way of that, nothing to pull them apart. They were sure that their little family was all they’d ever need.

Chapter Text

July 4, 2004


Crawling on her knees in the green grass of their backyard, Dani made her way around one of the flower beds of their garden, her view perfectly hidden by the rows of three-foot-tall sunflowers before her, and, given the golden hour was upon them, the sun was barely bright enough to shine a vibrant light. 

She could hear the tiniest giggles move quickly through the tall flowers, the sound of the brushing leaves on the path. 

Dani and the little girl were in the middle of one of their many unsolicited games of hide and seek. Their matches were never planned. Instead, it always played out where Maggie would spontaneously run off somewhere, either trying to get out of something or just solely because she thought it was the most entertaining thing watching her mothers desperately try to find her.

The first time Maggie decided to play the game, it wasn’t so funny as both women were convinced their daughter was somehow kidnapped from their own home when she randomly disappeared one day. They tore the house apart and were about to call a search party for their daughter, when Jamie found she was in their closet the whole time, hiding under a pile of dirty laundry. She laid there, giddy for her mothers to discover her hiding place, only to be very confused as to why both of them were bawling their eyes out when they found her, begging her to never do that to them again. But, the little girl ceased to quit. 

Nevertheless, Dani continued with the game, finding it to be endearing the longer she did. The little girl’s mischievous and rambunctious antics were characteristics Dani was sure she inherited from Jamie. She didn’t mind it though. In fact, her heart swooned at the realization that their daughter was already turning into a mini Jamie. Not only that, but she seemed to be infinitely curious and smart as a whip, at least for a three-year-old. Or maybe Dani was just biased because she was her daughter. Either way, the little girl was special in every meaning of the word.

“Maggie,” she called out, drawing out her name in a playful manner. She continued creeping around the flowers, trying to find the little girl. She had an idea of where she was, but she decided to draw it out longer because of just how joyous those little giggles were. Certainly, the tiny laughter was the best song she’d ever heard, and she’d keep it going forever if she had the power to do so. 

Dani weaved through a few of the sunflowers and rounded a corner of the flower bed where she could hear Maggie running to. Dani caught sight of her running towards her, blissfully unaware that her mother was there to find her. She could only imagine how clever her daughter felt at that moment, thinking her mother had no clue where she was. But, Dani jumped up, eliciting a startled squeal from Maggie, who immediately turned to run away, not wanting the game to be over just yet. But before she could even take a step, Dani lifted her into the air. “Gotcha, little bug,” she laughed as she tickled her sides and smothered her face in kisses. The little girl erupted into shrieking laughter as she wiggled around in Dani’s arms. 

“No, Mama, no!” she squealed through her giggles, and Dani, although hesitantly, obliged by her little pleads. 

“Alright, alright,” she smiled, planting one more kiss to the girl’s cheek before settling her on her hip. “Let’s go see Mumma, yeah?” she said as she flattened out the girl’s wrinkled, green sundress. Maggie’s little arms came to link around Dani’s neck and she nodded as she looked over to where she knew Jamie was. Her face immediately lit up at the sight of her other mother who was just inside. 

Jamie watched from the kitchen window, smirking as she cleaned up the remnants of Maggie’s birthday, cake and dishes mostly. She watched as Dani spun around with Maggie, dancing through the grass outside to the music they were playing from the stereo on the porch. Just as the pair were approaching the porch, Dani dipped her back quickly to the music and brought her back up leaving the little girl falling into a fit of laughter from the head rush. 

Jamie was certain Dani would do just about anything to get their daughter to laugh. Neither of the women could deny how infectious it was. It was a sound akin to the birds chirping in the morning, possibly even more comforting and beautiful than that. And, of course, it was a display of her joy which was all they could ever wish she’d have. They wished she could hold onto that happiness forever, with no sadness or anger to impede on it. To have her avoid any of the pain or struggles they had to endure as children, to just ensure she was kept purely happy. So, if it meant they had to stop at nothing to get those little grins or those tiny giggles, they surely would. 

Jamie pulled her hands from the sink water and dried her hands on her jeans. She expected her girls to walk through the backdoor at any moment, but when there was no arrival, she walked outside to investigate. The first thing she saw was the pair sitting in the grass, never even have made it up the porch. Dani had her legs sprawled apart, leaned back with her arms supporting her, smiling in adoration at the sight before her. Which happened to be Maggie, sitting between her legs, already fascinated by the many adornments of their lawn. Happily picking away at the grass and newly grown dandelions that Jamie internally cursed at their return, as she had already picked the last of the pesky weeds just a week before.

Like mother, like daughter, Jamie thought. Both too whimsical and enthralled by the beauties of the world to not be instantly distracted by every little thing. She swore if everyone else settled within their one-tracked minds, Maggie and Dani were barely settling into the ten or twenty they had created for themselves. 

Jamie approached the pair which sparked both of them to look up at her, both of their faces immediately radiating with happiness at the sight of her. Jamie bent over to place a kiss on Dani’s lips, then bent further to place one atop Maggie’s blonde hair. 

“Thought my girls forgot about me,” Jamie jokingly frowned as she settled beside her wife and daughter. Dani’s face upturned into her special I would never smirk.  

Maggie offered Jamie a fistful of all of the dandelions she’d accumulated. “Here you go Mumma,” she said in her sweet little voice that somehow managed to take from both Jamie and Dani’s accents. Some words sounded just like Jamie, others just like Dani. Both knew that she’d fall out of the shared accent and fall into the common Vermontian one, so they held onto what they had dearly: the small, evident parts both women had given their daughter. 

“For me?” Jamie asked as she put a hand to her chest in an overexaggerated gratitude as if the gift was the most unique and special one she’d ever received. In all reality, it was an all too familiar moment. Maggie often did that, picked the dandelions, and gifted them to Dani and Jamie. She must have caught onto the way Jamie would always do that for Dani, pick some of the flowers in their garden and bring them to her, each time garnering a heartfelt thanks. 

Jamie took the offering happily and smiled sweetly at her daughter. “Thank you, Sprout.” The little girl looked at her triumphantly, and Jamie offered her a reward through the placement of one single dandelion into her hair. “Well isn’t that adorable,” she said as she ran the back of a finger down her cheek then cupped her chin gently with her hand to admire her work. They continued to make small conversation just about the dandelions and little random tidbits of information that Maggie decided to bring up. Just a child's talk. No beginning, no middle, no end; just jumbled information that seemed to form its own little language that Jamie could decipher with ease. Whether or not the little girl could speak so coherently, Jamie still talked to her as an adult, just as she would to anyone else. 

Dani observed her wife before her, surprised at the way she had changed so much over the last three years. Emotionally she’d changed since the arrival of Maggie. Her behavior had grown gentler and sweeter. Physically, she changed too. After all, they weren’t getting any younger.  Her voice had grown huskier and lower. With each smile came new lines around her lips and eyes, and her now straightened hair was peppered with grey among what was left of her brown. Among all of this, Dani believed Jamie had grown more beautiful. She’d watched her blossom over the years they’d been together. She met a woman so reserved and stony back at Bly, and now, she was tender and protective. 

She found herself slipping into old memories of Jamie and little Magnolia, namely the first few months they were home, surprised by how quick she was to settle into the contentment of motherhood. How seemingly natural it was for Jamie, someone who had been so terrified of the opposite happening. It was as if there was a piece of her heart that was empty her whole life that was just waiting to be filled with Magnolia. 

Dani could vividly remember the nights where she'd wake up, no Jamie by her side. Knowing there was only one place she could be. 


Dani sleepily turned over and reached her hand out towards Jamie, or to where she thought she would be. Only, her arm fell to the bed, finding nothing. The vacant bed woke her up in a jolt, and she patted around. No Jamie. 

She sat up, looking around the room to no avail. Turning to the side table, she picked up the baby monitor, and from it, she could hear the softest rustling and whispering. She softly smiled and slipped out from under the covers, sauntering out of the room. 

Dani crept down the hall and halted in the doorway of the nursery. She watched Jamie hovering over the crib, the sound of soft cooing coming from within it. The sound of Jamie’s hoarse whispers, still ridden with sleep, were too small to interpret. 

“Jamie?” Dani questioned softly, watching as Jamie’s head swung around. The gardener’s usual greeting smile followed, then her attention was grabbed once again by their daughter in the crib. “What are you doing?”

“Bad dream, nothing really,” Jamie said shortly, a voice that possessed that characteristic passive tone. It meant she didn’t want to discuss it. Either it was really bad, or she felt too embarrassed to continue.  

Jamie felt two hands squeeze around her middle and a pair of lips meet her bare shoulder. A touch that was so soft that she felt a chill ride from her head to her toes. It was enough to make her unravel, to let all of the emotion that was building up come out. She felt the tears well in her eyes, and she sniffed them away. 

Dani’s chin rested on Jamie’s shoulder, and she watched the brunette’s fingers gently run through the tufts of blonde hair belonging to their two-month-old Magnolia, fast asleep in the crib. Jamie’s hand came down to pull the blanket further up to her chin, a hand coming down to rest on her chest, just to feel it rise and fall. The softest, dream-filled sounds came from the infant as she was deep in sleep. 

Dani pivoted her head to look at the side of Jamie’s face. The gleam of light shown through the window perfectly presented the glisten in her eyes and the small tear threatening to fall. “Jamie, what’s wrong?” Dani asked. 

“Oh,” Jamie began, wiping at her eye with her palm. “Just a stupid dream, Dani. That’s all. Shook me up a little.”

“Yeah?” Dani asked as she placed a kiss on her neck, willing her to continue. 

“She was gone. Just gone. No idea where she went, or if someone took her. It was so dark, Dani. And she was-she was gone. You were gone too… I felt so alone,” she murmured with furrowed brows, puzzled by her own nightmare. With a sigh, she tried to find the will to continue through her tired delirium. Obviously presented through her short speech. “So I came in here… to make sure… you know, and, of course, she was here,” she said as her finger gently traced the features of Magnolia’s face. Barely above a whisper, she continued, “I hate that she’s in here, so far from us.” 

Dani softly smiled at that. Jamie was so scared that their daughter was so far away even though they only had a hallway’s distance between them. Seconds apart really. But in the maternal sense, a hallway away felt like miles. 

It wasn't the first time Dani found Jamie here. Nor would it be the last she’d come to find out. But she could understand, especially because she found herself in the same irrational fits of terror. Running down the hall thinking something awful must have happened. 

So suddenly both women were thrown into such extreme protectiveness of their daughter. About every moment they found themselves worrying about her. She was so new, yet they couldn’t imagine life without her. So, constantly they found themselves in fits of baseless fear that something would happen to her. Knowing that this little piece of their being could be snatched away without them expecting. Scared that if they took their eyes off of her that the next moment they’d look back to reveal there was nothing left. 
Both of them knew the feeling of it actually happening, and they couldn’t bear the thought of such a thing happening to their daughter, their most important person. It may have been completely illogical and a really depressing thought process, but the women couldn’t shake the feelings. 

“She’ll be okay, babe,” Dani reassured into her ear. “I promise.” The blonde stepped back and hooked her index finger around Jamie’s pinky to pull her out the door. Jamie looked at her reluctantly and hesitated to move. “She’ll be crying in another hour anyway,” she yawned. Jamie obliged by her pulling and followed her, not before stalling at the door frame. “Just another hour,” Dani reminded, to which Jamie nodded. 

Hand in hand they walked back to their room. “She’s pretty cute, you know?” Jamie said.

“Thank you,” Dani proudly smiled to which Jamie jokingly responded with rolled eyes. “What?” she scoffed in a laugh. “I made her, Jamie.” 

“Oh I’m aware,” she said as she kissed Dani before climbing into bed again. They laid facing each other, bodies touching, legs tangled, and arms laced around waists. Jamie’s lips came forward to place a gentle kiss on her forehead. “And I thank you for that, every day.” 


The sun had come down, and the little family was laid out in the grass atop a blanket on their lawn. They had been lying there for a while, even past Burlington’s fireworks, the ones they watched every year. Jamie’s arm was under Dani who was on her side, lying closely to Jamie. Well, as close as she could get given their daughter was tucked between them, fast asleep. Jamie’s fingers gently danced along Dani’s arm, both of them staring up at the night sky in their comfortable silence. 

“How did we get here, Jamie?” Dani finally whispered, not wanting to wake the little girl in between them. 

Her hand came to settle on Jamie’s chest, her fingers tracing her collarbone and dotting every freckle exposed between the undone buttons of her shirt. The soft-touch sent a shiver through Jamie, and she looked over at Dani confusedly, wondering what she meant by her question. Dani reached over just enough to leave a soft kiss on her shoulder. “I think we’re pretty lucky,” she said, her hand stilling right at Jamie’s heart.

Dani was right in that regard. They were lucky. Lucky to fall upon each other the way they did. Just so happened that they both ended up in Bly, both so lost and living aimlessly. Seeing no future, only remembering the misfortunes of their pasts, drowning in them it seemed. But they found each other there, somehow two people among the billions in the world ended up at the same place, at the same time. Who would have thought they were each other’s soulmates?

“I don’t know how we got here, Dani,” she said as she carefully turned over, her arm pulling Maggie closer to her, and she looked into Dani’s eyes before her. “But I never thought I would. Never thought I deserved it.”

Dani furrowed her brow and looked deep into the woman before, her eyes searching. “Why do you say that?” she asked.

“Oh, I was no good, Dani. Bitter, alone,” she explained simply, looking down and away from Dani. She felt fingers run through her hair tenderly, and she gazed back at her wife. “You changed that, though. From the moment I saw you, Poppins.”

She could tell Dani blushed in response to her sweet remark, just based on the subtle, pleased huff she could just barely hear. She rarely kept up with the nickname as time went on. It faded along with their life in Bly, but every so often when it would pop up, it would send a rush of butterflies to flutter in Dani’s stomach. Leaving her to remember that first couple of years, the most wonderful yet uncertain. Neither of them would have thought they’d end up where they did. Still together, glued together really, and they had a family. A child of their own. A dream Jamie never really knew she had; although, quite juxtaposed with Dani’s intense will to have a family. 

Jamie peeled Maggie’s latched arm off her waist and sat up slowly, quietly cursing the pressure to her joints as she stood up. She put a hand out for Dani to take. “Come on, I want to show you something,” she said.

Dani took her hand and stood up, following Jamie. “She’ll be fine,” Jamie said, knowing the blonde’s eyes were latched on the sleeping Maggie as they walked, whom they were leaving behind. 

They made their way up the slight hill of their yard, past the garden, and to Jamie’s makeshift greenhouse. It was nothing more than an old, paint-chipped shed. The walls mostly knocked out in place for windows. 

Jamie opened the door and blindly grabbed the flashlight as if she’d done it a thousand times before. Like it was a nightly repetition for her to come into the greenhouse at this time of night. Quite frankly, it was.

She pulled Dani in further, guiding her through with the light until they were standing just before a portion of a wall with a wooden column, covered in vines. 

Dani grinned wide at the sight in front of her. Tens of pointed, blossomed, white flowers staring back at her. So rare to be bloomed as they were, making the moment all the more special. “The moonflowers,” she smiled as she took the petals of one into her hand, her thumb running over them gently. 

Jamie wrapped an arm around Dani’s shoulder. “Worth the effort, I suppose,” she said, a content smirk lining her lips, aware that Dani knew what she meant. It meant just the same as when she said it the first time seventeen years ago. 

It was a wonder how they could ever converse with such few words. Some days they’d ramble on and on for hours, and other days, with moments just like this, a few words could speak more than a million. 

The moonflower, a rare thing, something that took work. A symbol of their love. Symbolizing both parties’ need to accept, forgive, and let go. Things they were too stubborn to do on their own, but the presence of the other… well that was enough. Enough to make them bloom, just the way patience and nursing were necessary for the moonflower’s blossom. 

“But tomorrow, they’ll be gone,” Dani said in a voice so small and ridden with disappointment. She wondered how something so beautiful could last so briefly and only exist in these hours of the night. How could nature bestow something so unfair onto the flower?

Truthfully, her disappointment was a façade for the real fear she felt. She was cognizant of the fact that the moonflower represented them, it always had. Once a year they’d go through this little affair over and over again, coming into the greenhouse to see if they’d finally bloomed. It was a tradition of sorts –one that helped them recognize their roots. But she had to face the fact of the other metaphor it carried besides their love. Just like the moonflower’s dying after one night, one of the women would do the same at some point. That one day, one of them would wake up without the other. She was aware that it was inevitable, and also that it was so far away. But she couldn’t help but feel it as if it were impending. She supposed it was the lingering fear of what could have been all those years ago when she came too close to being pulled under. Taken away much to her chagrin. But she hadn’t, she was safe and happy. 

“But we won’t be,” Jamie assured with lips close to Dani’s ear after she realized that solemn look on Dani’s face. She wished to remind her that they had so many more years. Decades upon decades. 

Dani looked over, and before Jamie could process that yearning look on her face, a pair of lips were sealed to her own, so passionate and eager. Hands reached to hold the other’s faces. Jamie’s thumb brushed Dani’s jaw as she parted her lips, taking all of what Dani had to offer. The overwhelming sensation of every emotion her wife embodied washed over her through that very kiss. 

Suddenly, her body was pinned against another wall, hands freely roaming around her. Along every trail Dani took with her fingertips, a track of goosebumps followed. 

Jamie gripped Dani’s elbows and pulled away, looking her in the eye, pupils dilated with desire and adoration. “We’ll finish this later,” she whispered huskily, pulling Dani in for one more taunting peck. “We should get her to bed though,” she said as she gestured her head towards the window where their daughter laid just on the other side. 

Dani nodded, feeling a bit guilty that they got lost in their ways in the greenhouse when their kid was out on the lawn. 

She followed Jamie out the door. She watched as Jamie gently picked up Maggie, evoking the smallest tired groans from her as she sleepily clung to her mother’s neck. Jamie softly hushed her as she ran her fingers through the girl’s hair. 

Dani followed them up the stairs, watching as Jamie placed Maggie into her bed. She bent over to pull the duvet to her chin and placed a kiss on her forehead. Dani came over to do the same. 

Before they could even make it out the door, they could hear the rustling of sheets behind them, so they turned to see what it was. And the sight before them was of their daughter, propped up and looked sadly at her mothers.
 
“What is it, Sprout?” Jamie asked; although, she knew exactly what she wanted just based on the look on her face. A face that wondered how they could even dare leave her behind to sleep in that room alone. Especially because it was her birthday. She knew that meant she could get away with anything, not like she couldn’t on usual days, but she knew she was extra special that day. 

She rubbed a fist tiredly through her eye, and got out of the bed, frowning up at her parents as she tugged at Dani’s sweater and the blonde sighed, she knew exactly what she wanted. “Okay.” 

Dani bent down to let Maggie climb onto her back. Her little legs barely wrapped around her waist, her arms locked around her neck, and her head rested against her shoulder blade. Lifting her up, she meandered her way after Jamie to their bedroom. “The monster’s under there, Mama,” Maggie said softly. 

“Oh is he now, even after Mum yelled at him?” Dani asked as she opened the door, smiling to herself of the recent memory. One where Jamie had gone to her knees to yell threats to whatever beast Maggie had dreamt up under her bed. “Oi, get out from under there you creep!” she’d shout as she lifted the bed skirt, leaving Maggie to fall into a fit of laughter.

Jamie chuckled as she remembered as well, lifting up the comforter as she did so. Maggie hopped off Dani’s back and crawled under, settling herself in the middle, her own little spot that seemed to belong just to her. Both women climbed in on either side of her, their arms wrapping around her. 

With Maggie between them, so suddenly fast asleep, Jamie and Dani laid awake to talk softly to each other, making sure not to wake her. 

“I can’t believe she’s three, Jamie,” Dani whispered as she moved a piece of Maggie’s blonde hair out of her face to reveal her features, so closely resembling her own. It was a wonder how much she looked like her. Same blonde waves, same big blue eyes, same nose, same everything it seemed. “I don’t know what happened, it’s like yesterday she was a little baby and now she’s so big.” 

The slight tickle of her touch had Maggie drowsily rubbing at her forehead and turning over to face Jamie. 

“She’s going to be a teenager before we know it, Dani,” she said as she looked from Maggie to Dani, the latter’s face looking less than pleased at the thought. Dani shook her head, and before she could protest, Jamie pressed on, much too pleased with teasing her about this. “Then she’ll be eighteen, and she’ll leave us,” Jamie ended woefully but still lightheartedly. 

“Jamie, stop,” she said as she cupped her ears. “I don’t want to even think about that,” she laughed softly. “I wish she could be this tiny forever, Jamie,” she said, surprising herself as she became suddenly tearful. 

“Well, we’ll get to watch her grow, Dani. Get all big and smart, turning into you and me in her own ways. But she’ll be her own self, and we get to be a part of that,” Jamie said as she gazed into Dani’s eyes. 

“She’ll talk right too,” Dani joked in reference to the remnants of Jamie’s accent still in Maggie’s voice. 

Jamie scoffed. “She already talks right, until she says something stupid like water,” she said, over pronouncing the ‘r’ in the last word in a nasal tone to mock the American pronunciation of it. “That’s when she talks wrong, Dani, and you know it.”

Dani’s foot came forward to kick Jamie’s shin playfully. Jamie responded by faking a wince. 

“I gave her that accent, and I’m very proud of it Jamie,” Dani chuckled. 

“Oh, you did huh? Wasn’t all of the Vermont folks brainwashing my child to sound like that?”

“We’ll just blame it on them,” Dani smiled. “And I’ll just happily talk like this around her if you want,” she said in her terrible Cockney accent. 

Jamie cringed and put a hand over Dani’s mouth, feeling her softly laugh into her palm. “Yeah no, I can’t have her sounding like Dick Van Dyke,” she said, referring to his poor accent as Bert. 

Dani peeled her hand off her mouth, revealing a pleased grin. “Well, babe, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to face her being American. She’s gonna sound like it and she was born on the most American holiday. I’m sorry you’re still in denial, but face the facts,” she said in a jokingly condescending manner with a shrug, lips pursing to portray a don’t know what to tell you face. 

Jamie snapped her finger in a false disappointment and shook her head. “I guess I will, won’t I?” she said, ending it with a smile. 


Dani bit her lip as she observed her smile, the smile she loved so much, more than most things really. She seemed to adore it so much more when it was mixed with tired eyes. It was cuter in a way. 

Her hand reached over and cupped her wife’s cheek, a thumb brushing back and forth just against her soft skin. “I love you, Jamie.” 

“Dani, you flirt,” Jamie smiled, her hand coming up to settle on top of Dani’s, sliding her head over so her lips could leave a kiss at her palm. Dani shook her head and closed her eyes with a subtle delighted huff. Jamie embraced her body with her arm, squeezing the small of her back lovingly. “But, I love you too,” she said, then paused to ponder the rest of her words. She reasoned she could come up with an entire chapter of words to express just how much and why she loved her. But she knew Dani already knew that, and she was much too tired to go down that path anyway. 

She looked forward, searching Dani’s blue eyes before her, not perceived much as blue given the lack of light in the room, but after seeing them every day for seventeen years, she could perfectly picture them. She could imagine the way they had to be twitching back and forth in response to her statement, taking in Jamie completely.  “And I’ll love you tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, ‘til it’s been about a hundred years,” she said. 

“You’re going to stop loving me in a hundred years?” Dani laughed. 

“God no, I just reckon I’ll have to take a damn breath, Dani,” she chuckled. The blonde mirrored her laughter. 

A content moment of silence grew between them, both just gazing at one another. 

“Are you happy?” Dani asked, her face turning serious, eyes searching Jamie’s for the answer.

Jamie thought about the question. The answer was obvious, but her mind was filled with the reasons why. Her beautiful wife across from her being the first person who made her genuinely happy. The first in her life to make her feel like something mattered, that there was a reason for waking up every day and living on and on, no matter how repetitive or minuscule. 

Then she thought about Magnolia, the one thing she never imagined in a million years she’d ever be lucky enough to have. She may have not been a piece of her like she was Dani, but Jamie’s heart was one of those pesky unfinished puzzles, and Maggie was the piece that put it at all together. The one that fit so perfectly and made the entirety make sense. Jamie considered that for a moment. Magnolia and Dani made her life make sense. Helped her mold her life into something intelligible and worth something. 

Jamie felt a small tear run from the corner of her eye, and the slight light peeking through their window shined on it as it fell. Dani recognized it immediately and caught it with her thumb, wiping it away. Her face grew concerned at why she was crying, but before she could ask, Jamie pressed her lips to hers. Leaving one kiss after another, each one like a small message reading every reason why she was so happy. 

Jamie pulled back and looked admiringly into her eyes before simply answering, “Yeah.”