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Chapter 12: Bravery
All Was Well
Excitement hung in the already heavy, humid Greek air. They were surrounded by a sea of people, the tent city a hub for eager Quidditch fans.
It seemed the spectators were once again split quite equally; half the mass bedecked in the home side’s team colours of royal blue and white the other half opted for Ireland’s green and orange.
Harry wearily hammered the last of the tent’s pegs into the ground. Wiping his sweaty brow with the back of his hand, he stood back to admire his handy work before turning around to take in the spectacular views of the sparkling sea and clear blue skies. It was an ideal location for this year’s World Cup, even if the heat was sweltering.
With a drained sigh, he ventured inside the tent. It was his latest toy, much bigger than the infamous tent from his year on the run had been, and twice as flashy. Ginny called the tent his ‘indulgence’; he’d had it custom made in scarlet and gold with three bedrooms and a spacious living area which was at present occupied by the rest of their party.
“Ron,” Hermione chided from the kitchenette where she was preparing lunch, “I told you to help Harry with the pegs.”
Ron was sprawled out across one of the sofa with baby Rose resting on his chest. He was a picture of holiday sluggishness, dressed in shorts, singlet and sunglasses. “Huh?” He grunted in response, shaking his head groggily, “Well, looks like he’s finished now,” Ron replied with a nonplussed shrug.
Harry glared at him half heartedly, scooping up James from where he had been playing on the floor. He fell onto the other sofa where a heavily pregnant Ginny was struggling to remain upright in order to engage in a game of Gobstones with Teddy.
“I’m going to win,” Teddy confessed gravely as Ginny took her turn.
“He is,” Ginny sighed. “Looks like I’ve lost the knack. I used to be good at this.” She leant her head against Harry, trailing off, “I used to be able to see my toes as well...”
Teddy knocked the last Gobstone out of the ring with a guilty smile.
“Champion!” Harry congratulated Teddy, clapping him on the back.
“Right, well I might as well be useful.” Ginny groaned as she pulled herself up from the sofa. “Hermione, do you need any hel-”
Ginny buckled over, crying out in agony.
“Something is wrong.” She whispered.
Harry was already at her side, looking for some indication of what was causing Ginny this pain.
“Labour,” Ginny murmured, breathless.
“But,” Hermione protested from close beside them. “It’s much too early, a month too early.”
“There has to be a Mediwizard around here somewhere!” Ron cried, verging on hysterical. Rose began to cry.
“No, Ron. Didn’t you read any of the books I gave you?” Hermione demanded in exasperation, taking the screaming child from Ron.
“Yes – some!” Ron replied shortly, affronted.
Hermione rolled her eyes, bobbing Rose up and down to calm her as Ron and Harry took either of Ginny’s arms and lifted her back onto the sofa. “Labour for witches is bad at the best of times,” She explained. “But in premature cases, the anxiety and trauma of it all only aggravates the situation. The severity of Uncontrollable Magical Projections doubles!” Ginny stared at her in horror. “You need to get to St Mungo’s. Now.”
Harry’s heart was racing. It wasn’t right, it was too soon, and they were so far away from Britain. Would it be alright, coming this early? And how on earth were they going to get to St Mungo’s?
Harry looked from Ron to Hermione in search of answers, when his eyes fell on Teddy who had been holding a struggling James since Harry had rushed to Ginny’s aid. Terrified, the eight-year-old’s bottom lip quivered in fear.
Harry swallowed hard, making a decision; he managed to tear himself away from Ginny’s side to search for an official, someone who would know something about Portkeys. They were all the way out here Greece, there was no way they would be able to apparate with Ginny in such a condition, and there wasn’t a fireplace for miles…
Barely a second had passed before Harry caught sight of a Cup official in magenta robes embroidered with the international Quidditch league’s emblem a few tents away. Harry fought through the crowed with Ron at his heel, ignoring the gasping and pointing, until he reached the squat official.
“I need a Portkey!”
“I’m sorry, sir, the returning Portkeys won’t be available until after the match.” The official replied, with infuriating bureaucratic politeness.
“But there’s an emergency!” Harry exclaimed, his voice rising in aggravation.
“I’m sorry, but the Portkey service has been organised to run on a strict schedule-”
“We need to get to St Mungo’s!” Ron shouted, livid. He looked very much on the verge of punching the man.
“Why not apparate?” The official asked bemusedly, unaffected by Ron’s intimidating glare.
“My sister’s gone into labour!” Ron cried, “We need a Healer!”
Harry’s frustration was reaching greater and greater heights. “Merlin, don’t you know who I am?”
Gradual recognition dawned on the little man. “Of- of course I do!” He suddenly looked flustered and extremely embarrassed, as the realisation that their heated conversation had drawn the attention of the crowd at large. “Well- well, I’ll- I’ll have Timmins work something out. Give me a second!” He scurried off into the crowd.
Harry and Ron raced back to the tent. Inside, they found a stony-faced Hermione, Rose in tow, tending to Ginny who was distraught with panic. Across from them, Teddy hadn’t moved an inch.
Harry rushed over to his wife, kneeling down beside her. “They’re sending someone. Organising a Portkey. It’s okay.”
“How?” Ginny asked through gritted teeth, wincing.
“No one turns down Harry Potter.” Ron replied from Hermione’s side.
“You pulled the Harry Potter card!?” Ginny cried.
Faster than they could have ever expected, the short official burst into the tent accompanied by another magenta-clad wizard, presumably Timmins.
“Mr Potter, sir, we have a Portkey to St Mungo’s, sir.” Wiry Timmins eyed Harry and Ginny with a mix of adoration and tremendous fear while the other, annoying official lingered in the background. “It leaves in-” Timmins checked his prominent golden watch momentarily, “Fifty seven seconds.” He thrust forward the rusted tin can in his hands and smiled sheepishly.
Harry took hold of the Portkey appreciatively, muttered some thanks and set to work orchestrating this task as he would any Auror mission. “Ron, Hermione, stay here with the kids,”
“But-” Ron began, but was immediately cut off by Harry.
“Come as soon as you can.” Harry continued forcefully, before locking eyes with Teddy, who was still bravely holding James. “It’s going to be okay, Ted.” Harry told him emphatically, willing himself to believe his own words. Teddy nodded solemnly, frowning.
“You have ten-” Timmins began to count down, “Nine-”
Ginny was already holding onto the mangy can. “It’s going to be alright,” Harry repeated gravely, before they were whisked away by the Portkey, Ginny letting out a pained moan.
They landed softly in the St Mungo’s waiting room.
Harry raced to the welcome desk, leaving Ginny to fall into the closest chair. Wide-eyed and open-mouthed, the Welcome Witch behind the counter listened to Harry’s brief, panicked account of their situation. Anticipating the worst, she called for a Mediwitch to escort them up to Spell Damage on Level 4.
“I’m sorry, Mr Potter, but you’ll have to stay here.” The doe-eyed Mediwitch informed Harry reluctantly on approaching an intimidating set of large oak doors. She spoke to him in that half-reverent, half-fearful manner that was beginning to drive Harry quite mad. “You’ll be allowed to come in once the situation is under control.”
Harry barely had time to give Ginny’s hand a tight squeeze, meeting her anxious eyes with what he hoped looked like stoic reassurance, before the Mediwitch pushed her wheelchair through the doors and out of sight.
Twenty minutes passed, but it felt to Harry like it had been a torturous hour. The brassy, arm-laden clock on the wall ticked cruelly on, mocking Harry’s agony with every one of its ceaseless ticks.
Harry, sitting in the chair closest to the doors, tried to practice Legilimency on Healers that came and went through the doors. His attempts were in vain; a combination of their minds being a tangled web of images and his own troubled state of mind made it altogether impossible to see clearly.
The Healers were providing him little information, insisting over and over that he calm down, that the situation was under control. Harry was very, very close to throttling the lot of them.
Feeling completely helpless, Harry had begun to pace when Ron and Hermione came racing down the corridor. “What’s going on?” Ron asked, somewhat short of breath. Hermione placed a reproachful hand on his arm, looking to Harry with thoughtful enquiry.
Harry muttered an explanation, bemoaning his frustration at the lack of information and sank into the nearest chair.
“Neville arrived just after you left.” Hermione explained, falling into the vacant chair beside him.” He’s packed up the tent. Hannah’s taking the kids to Andromeda’s.”
Harry felt the slightest tinge of relief, that the kids were okay and that perhaps he hadn’t scarred Teddy for life with this frightening ordeal – the look on Teddy’s face had been enough to convince him that this was a possibility. Harry mumbled some thanks that he hoped sounded heartfelt, rubbing his eyes in frustration.
They sat in edgy silence.
“What are you three doing here?”
Harry looked up, drawn from the buzzing jumble of words that were currently making up his thoughts. He wasn’t sure how long the three of them had been sitting there. He was altogether surprised to see Katie Bell, clad in her dark green Healer robes, approaching them from down the hall.
Harry jadedly got to his feet. “Katie,” he greeted her, manners failing him at this time. “Ginny’s gone into labour – prematurely.”
His anguish must have been written all over his face, because Katie grimaced solemnly before placing a reassuring hand on his arm. She seemed to switch to professional mode, “Happens all the time,” She said with a gentle smile. “Really, she’ll be fine. Most likely, they’ll give her something to subdue the magic for a bit, fill her up with nutrients and the like and she’ll be done in no time.” Harry’s heartbeat slowed ever so slightly in relief. “Magic works wonders…” She concluded.
Hermione burst into full fact-finding action, finally having a brain to pick. “Why did it happen? She’s a month early.”
“Stress,” Katie suggested, “Heat, exertion,”
“We were at the World Cup, in Greece,” Ron interjected ardently, eager to help.
“Maybe you’ve got a keen Quidditch fan on your hands!” Katie joked to Harry, who permitted a small smile. “Anyway, I must get going - seems everyone goes a little mad with the Cup game approaching.”
“Thank you,” Harry said sincerely.
“I’m glad I could help,” Katie replied with a smile, continuing on down the hallway.
“Mr Potter! Mr Potter!” The same childlike Mediwitch from earlier came bursting through the dreaded oak doors, clutching something made of bright orange fabric in her hands. “She’s about to deliver! You’ll need to put this on,” She instructed, thrusting the phosphorescent cloak into his hands. He recognised the emblem on the tag, it was a shield cloak designed and manufactured by none other than Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
“How is she? Is she alright?” Harry demanded, tugging the cloak on over his shorts and t-shirt.
“She’s doing fine!” The Mediwitch chirped, evidently pleased with herself at the opportunity to provide the Harry Potter with good news. “Please hurry, sir!”
With encouraging smiles from Ron and Hermione, Harry followed her through the doors into the operating chamber. Like the rest of the St Mungo’s building, the stone walls were covered in a sterile whitewash; Ginny, with her cheeks just as red as her flaming hair stood out from where she was lying on a bed in the centre of the room. It became very apparent that the room had a very efficient silencing charm in place, as the cries that were being issued by Ginny had gone altogether unheard from the corridors.
But Harry wasn’t disturbed by this, enthused rather, as the scene reminded him so very much of James’ birth. The trauma of getting there, of the excruciating waiting seemed like a distant memory; Harry’s anxiety abandoned him, all traces of stress going out the window.
Everything happened very fast; no sooner had Harry reached Ginny’s side, the Healer was instructing Ginny to push. The blissful howls of their newborn baby rang out around the room.
Someone thrust a goblet of tonic into Ginny’s hands and she drank as a Healer took to the baby with a wand, taking a few measurements and checking for any problems.
It was a few moments before the faceless Healer brought their son over to them. Ginny took him in her arms, and the couple sat in awed silence for a minute. The poor thing was tiny, but already it was clear he was the spitting image of Harry.
Ginny gently stroked his fragile cheek. “You’ve been so brave.” She murmured weakly.
“Brave,” Harry concurred, thinking. Then it struck him. “Albus…?” he suggested.
Ginny gave a questioning smile, wrinkling her nose. “Albus,” She agreed, grinning. “Albus Severus,” She continued matter-of-factly, before meeting Harry’s eye pointedly.
Harry completed her thought for her, “The bravest men I ever knew.”
Author's Note: LONGEST CHAPTER EVER! I'm in awe of those authors who can pump out massive chapters, so for me 2000+ words is a big deal. Not much else from me, I'm going through a big writing phase at the moment and loving writing this story. Thanks so much to all the wonderful people who review, especially those super awesome reviewers who leave a review for every chapter. Please keep them coming! xx