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Beyond the Shadow by Gryffin_Duck
Chapter 25: Baby Shower
I didn't join Dillan for anymore Tuesday dinners with his sister. Tuesdays were just too impractical since they rarely allowed me to leave St. Mungo's before eight. But Dillan did join me for every Sunday dinner with my family. He soon became a fixture at our dinner table, one that Mum enjoyed seeing very much.
For the first time since their start, my support group was scheduled to meet right before a full moon. Two days before, to be exact. As soon as the kids started trickling in, I knew that this week's meeting was going to be different from meetings in the past.
For one, Izzy arrived with tears streaming down her face. She was the first one there and sat down at the table, sniffling as she did so.
“Izzy?” I asked. “Is everything okay?”
“No.” Izzy shook her head. “My brother is sick. Full moons are always worse when he's sick.”
I was all too familiar with that fact. “The moon is still two days away,” I told her. “He might be a little better by then. And if it is a bad moon, we'll fix him up here.”
“I know, but it's just always bad when he's sick,” Izzy said.
“He'll get through it,” I assured her.
Izzy nodded and wiped the tears from her face. The Hogwarts contingent walked in next, all looking a bit more subdued than usual. Kate Young was missing. Liane was carrying a stack of books. She sat down and immediately started reading.
“Does anyone know where Kate is?” I asked.
“I think she used one of those portable swamps in the dungeons,” Tyler said. “Someone did anyway and I heard rumors it was her. She's probably in Kendrick's study.”
I sighed. She still had yet to make any progress.
“Is the lycanthropy support group meeting tonight?” Scarlett asked.
“No,” I said. “They're putting it off until next week.” Matt and I had both agreed it would be best not to have them meet two days before the full moon. Plus, Matt had woken up with a fever so he wouldn't have been able to lead it.
“Is it easier when you're in Hogwarts?” Izzy asked the group.
“What do you mean?” Scarlett asked.
“The full moons. I hide out in my room during them and right after. I just wonder if it will be better when I'm at Hogwarts next year.”
“It won't be,” Tyler said immediately. “You'll still worry and you'll have to wait for your parents to owl you to find out how the moon went.”
Scarlett and Vinny nodded in agreement. Liane didn't look up from her books. I sat back and let them take control of the conversation. It always seemed to work better that way. Usually they talked about school or Quidditch, but today they spent the entire hour discussing how they deal with their worry during full moons.
“What about you, Amy?” Scarlett asked toward the end of the hour. “What did you do during full moons at Hogwarts?”
Everyone was looking up at me expectantly and it struck me how much these kids trusted me and relied on me. Even Liane, who had been reading the entire hour, now looked up from her book. There were only four people in the world who knew what I did on full moons during my first year at Hogwarts and they were Matt, Victoire, Madam Pomfrey, and Healer Norlam.
“Well, during my first year at Hogwarts, which was when I was a fourth year, I went to the hospital wing. I couldn't sleep so I'd help Madam Pomfrey. She was the only one in the castle who knew about my brother, so she understood. I didn't always stay the night. Sometimes I would go back to Gryffindor and stay up all night in the common room or in my dormitory. I never slept. Not even after that year.”
“I don't sleep either,” Liane said. Everyone else nodded in agreement.
“I still don't sleep,” I told them. “It's okay if you don't. You may never sleep during them.”
Vinny, Scarlett, Tyler, and Izzy continued to talk about full moons while Liane went back to studying. I glanced at her book and saw that it was a N.E.W.T. potions review book.
“Potions?” I asked. “That was my favorite subject.”
Liane glanced up from her book. “It's one of my favorites. I need an O on my N.E.W.T. I've already been accepted to the healer program, but if I want to pick up brewing, too, I need the O. Not to mention the other N.E.W.T.s.”
“They're not as bad as everyone makes them out to be,” I assured her. “You'll do fine.”
“Do you teach any of the classes for healing?” Liane asked.
“No,” I said. I'd been asked to many times but I just didn't have the time. “I've given a few guest lectures, though.”
Liane nodded. “I hope you do some next year.”
“I'll try to,” I told her.
“I've heard that we're supposed to shadow a healer next year for a certain number of hours.”
“That's true,” I said. I followed Morris around when I did my observation hours.
“Do you get to pick who you observe?” Liane asked.
“Not usually,” I said, “but certain healers have requested specific students. Healer Sterling requested me since I'd known him since I was fourteen and he knew I had an interest in creature induced injuries.”
“Would you be willing to request me?” Liane asked quietly. “I know you're busy, but-”
“Of course,” I assured her. “I'll put in a request to the School of Healing right away.”
“Thanks.” Liane smiled. She didn't say anything else, but instead returned to her studying for the remaining few minutes.
The more I got to know Liane the more of myself I saw in her. She was so determined and worked so hard, but I did worry about her. I worried that she would find herself in the same place I did one day, realizing that she'd pushed aside everything else except her career. It took me a long time to figure out that that had been a mistake and I didn't want that for Liane.
When I arrived at Victoire's house the day after the full moon it looked like a tornado had hit it. I'd never seen it in such a state, even immediately after the full moon. Victoire hadn't even answered when I rang the bell, so I let myself in to find the huge mess, as well as Victoire and Sophie asleep on the couch.
I usually tried to stop by Victoire's the day after the full moon just to check on Sophie, despite the fact that her mum is a healer. I wasn't always able to, but this month's full moon happened to fall on a Saturday and I hadn't been called into work.
“Victoire!” I said as I gently shook her awake. “Victoire!”
Victoire opened her eyes and groaned. It took her three tries to sit up, given her very swollen belly. She was already as big as she'd been with Sophie at full term, and she still had a month to go. Sophie stirred as her mum got up, but didn't wake.
“How is she?” I asked as I helped Victoire off the couch.
“Fine,” Victoire said through a yawn. She looked exhausted.
“And what about you?” I asked.
Victoire sighed. “Hold on. I'll meet you in the kitchen.”
Victoire waddled toward the bathroom and I walked to the kitchen, which was just as much a mess as the living room had been. I located a clean kettle and put it on the stove. Victoire returned a few minutes later and collapsed in one of the chairs. She laid her head down on the table for a full minute and when she finally raised it, there were silent tears streaming down her face.
“Victoire!” I exclaimed as I sat down next to her and wrapped her in a hug. “What's wrong?”
“Everything,” she moaned. “I thought when I stopped working last month I'd get a handle on things but I'm just so tired all the time. I can't get anything done.”
“When does Teddy get back?”
“I don't even know. That's half the problem. He used to get nice, simple missions where he'd be gone for two days and I'd know when he would get back. But now, I guess since he's more experienced, he's gone for weeks and I never know when he's going to get back.”
“He's been gone for two weeks,” I said. “He must get back soon.”
Victoire groaned. “Merlin, I hope so. And it's just going to get worse after the twins are born. I don't think I'm ever going to get back to work. At least not until the twins are in school.”
“You don't know that now,” I told her.
“Yeah, I kind of do,” Victoire said. “Remember with Sophie? She was over at my mum's more often than she was with me and Teddy. I can't do that with the twins. I can't expect Mum to take care of two babies as well as all the other kids she takes care of during the day. Not to mention call weekends. If one of those lined up with one of Teddy's missions, and let's face it, that'll happen more often now, Mum would have to watch Sophie and the twins.”
“You know your mum would love that. Or even your Nana Molly.”
Victoire put her head in her hands. “I know, but I can't ask them to keep doing that. And then when I really think about it, I don't want to miss anything with the twins. Remember, I missed Sophie's first steps.”
I did remember that. Sophie took her first steps while Victoire was on call and Victoire had been upset about it for a full week. I didn't even have kids and knew that I'd want to be there for that milestone.
“I can't miss anything, Amy,” Victoire said quietly. “I missed so much with Soph and I regret it. I don't want to miss anything this time.”
I nodded. “It's completely up to you. Just make sure you're doing it for you, not because Teddy's so busy. You know he'd ease up on the missions if you asked him to.”
“I don't want to ask him to,” Victoire said. “He loves going on missions. He isn't going on any for about three months after he comes home, though. They've given him a desk job so he can be home when the twins are born.”
“Good,” I said. “Now, I'm going to make you a large cup of tea and you're going to relax while I clean your house.”
“Don't protest,” I said. “You're exhausted. I don't mind.”
“No buts,” I replied as I stood up.
Victoire sighed, but looked relieved. I made her a steaming cup of tea and got her settled back on the couch. She was asleep in five minutes.
It took me half the day to clean Victoire's house. By the time I finished Sophie was waking up and looking much better than she had the previous day. Victoire was as well, and insisted upon ordering a pizza to repay me for cleaning her house.
We were just finishing up when the front door opened. Victoire dropped the pizza box and walked to the door as fast as she could. Sophie beat her there. I followed, but waited just inside the kitchen.
“Daddy!” Sophie exclaimed.
There was Teddy, standing in the doorway, a rucksack on his back and at least two days' worth of stubble on his face. His hair was bright turquoise, but he looked as exhausted as Victoire had earlier in the day.
“Sophie!” Teddy shouted. He dropped the rucksack and hoisted Sophie up into his arms. “How are you?”
“Better now that you're here,” Sophie said as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
Teddy walked inside and shut the door. He set Sophie down on the floor and embraced Victoire, who was crying again. Sophie now had her arms wrapped around Teddy's legs. I smiled as I watched their reunion. They'd be okay. They had their issues, with balancing both of their work schedules and Sophie's lycanthropy, but they'd be okay.
I quietly stepped around them and gave Victoire a wave as I left the house. Teddy would be home for three months now and they needed that. More than anything, the Lupins needed three months of stability, where everyone was home.
The following Wednesday was Victoire's 30th birthday, but she told me multiple times that she didn't want a surprise party. Being as pregnant as she was, I didn't blame her. I think birthday celebrations were always slightly awkward for her since May 2nd was also the anniversary of the Final Battle and Voldemort's death. That meant that it was also the anniversary of Teddy's parents' deaths. This year her mum and sister decided to throw her a combined birthday party and baby shower the Saturday after her birthday. It wasn't a surprise and Victoire insisted it be small.
Small by Weasley standards would be considered huge by others' standards, especially for someone with a family as small as mine. However, I'd spent enough time with the Weasleys to not be surprised to find that Victoire's parents' house was packed on Saturday. It was only filled with the Weasley women, but even if you half the number of Weasleys, you still have a lot of Weasleys.
Victoire's mum and her sister, Gabriella were there, of course, along with her Nana Molly. I assumed they'd sent Bill off to one of his brothers' houses for the day. All of Victoire's aunts and female cousins were there, as well as the wives of a few of her male cousins. A couple nurses and healers from St. Mungo's were there as well. All in all, I guessed there were at least thirty people packed into the house.
Fleur and Gabriella had done a beautiful job decorating. They'd asked if I wanted to help, but given my schedule and my lack of artistic talent, I turned them down. Streamers and balloons were hanging up everywhere, all blue and green. Candy dishes filled with bottle shaped candies were set out on every surface. However, the funniest decorations of all were the cakes made out of rolled diapers that sat upon the dining room table. There were three of them. One blue, one green, and one yellow. Rattles and other assorted baby items decorated the tops of the diaper cakes.
I knew I was the last one there so I set my present down on a table and hurried over to the couch, where I squeezed in next to Rose. I was glad she was there. I'd been meaning to talk to her about the lycanthropy study.
“Oh, good, everyone's here now!” Gabriella exclaimed. “We're going to do games first, then we'll eat, and then Victoire can open her presents.”
Rose and I exchanged looks. Baby shower games were always kind of ridiculous. Gabriella planned Victoire's shower for Sophie, too, and that one had been filled with games.
“First we're all going to guess the babies' weight. Remember to write down two weights, since it's twins. Victoire, you haven't decided on names yet, have you?”
Victoire was seated in a rocking chair next to Gabriella. “Er, not yet.”
“All right, just label the guesses 'baby 1' and 'baby 2. Remember to put your names on them. Whoever is closest to both twins' weights at birth gets a prize,'” Gabriella said as she started to pass around slips of paper and pens.
“You know,” I whispered to Rose. “All the nurses and healers have an advantage over everyone else.”
Rose laughed. “Oh well!”
I got my piece of paper and pen and thought for a moment. If I was remembering right Sophie was 7lbs 8oz at birth, so the twins would be quite a bit smaller. I scribbled down 6lbs 3oz for one twin and 6lbs 5oz for the other and figured it was a decent guess. Gabriella sent around a basket to collect the answers.
The next game was Pin the Diaper on the Baby, which wound up being quite hilarious with thirty plus people involved. Victoire's cousin, Angie, came the closest to getting the diaper in the right spot so she won a package of bottles.
Angie is only 21 and doesn't have any kids, so she gave them to Victoire.
The afternoon continued with more funny games including the purse scavenger hunt and a Weasley tradition- Guess the Weasley Baby. This one was a take on the Muggle shower game of Guess the Celebrity Baby. Gabriella held up pictures of every single Weasley baby and we had to write down on a piece of paper which Weasley we thought the baby was. I was awful at this game, but it was fun nonetheless. Nana Molly won, just as she had at the shower when Victoire was pregnant with Sophie. I had a suspicion she won most of the time.
Lunch time finally arrived and I wandered around the house until I found Rose in the kitchen. She was talking to Lily. I gathered a plate of food and waited for her to be done.
Our study on lycanthropy had been stuck in data collection for months since she relied upon werewolves willingly coming into St. Mungo's to speak with her. There were a few reliable patients who came in every month, but it was a slow process since data could only be collected once a month. However, I was getting anxious to analyze the data since my Wolfsbane research had been in a rut for months.
“Rose,” I said after Lily drifted away.
“Oh, Amy, hi!” Rose said. “Lost you after Pin the Diaper on the Baby.”
I laughed. “I'm surprised I even managed to get the diaper on any part of the baby.”
“Yet, somehow, I don't think a diaper would help on a baby's head,” Rose said. “I meant to find you after the moon, but you were never in your study when I passed by.”
“It's been a busy week,” I said. “I've been meaning to ask you about the data collection.”
Rose laughed. “That's what I've been wanting to find you about. We've almost got all we need. I'd guess that another two moons will get us enough.”
“Oh, good,” I said, very relieved. At least in two months I'd be able to feel productive again.
“How is the Wolfsbane going?” Rose asked.
“Not well,” I said. “I'm stuck. I keep going over the information again and again, but nothing's jumping out. I swear, it's going to be something really, really obvious.”
“You'll get there,” Rose assured me.
“It's just so hard, month after month, seeing him,” I said quietly.
Rose nodded. “I still remember when I figured it out, first year. I thought it was so obvious, but Albus and John, they were clueless.”
“He didn't do the greatest job of hiding it,” I said. “I tried helping, but he's never been good at keeping secrets.”
“It all worked out, though,” Rose said.
“I swear the only reason he got through Hogwarts was because of you and Albus, and the others,” I pointed out.
“But he did,” Rose said. “And you're going to fix the Wolfsbane. Just keep thinking about how great it will be when you do it.”
“I try. But at least we'll have a distraction soon. The twins will be born soon!”
“Yes!” Rose exclaimed. “I can't wait! It's been two years since we've had a Weasley baby.”
For the Weasleys, that was a long time to go without someone having a baby. Rose and I continued to talk until it was time to open presents. We were all given baby bingo cards and instructed to mark off spots if one of our spots matched a present Victoire opened.
Opening presents took a good hour since someone got baby bingo every ten minutes or so. I even won one round, earning me a baby bottle filled with Bertie Bott's.
Victoire opened my present toward the end. I got her two sleepers, one with ducks on it and the other with dinosaurs, and a package of diapers. Matt also contributed to the gift with two unrealistically cute wolf stuffed animals.
“Those are from Matt,” I said as Victoire pulled them out of the bag.
Victoire laughed and smiled at me. Next to me, Rose smirked and shook her head. We were the only three in the room who understood why that was so funny, but no one questioned it.
After presents Fleur brought a birthday cake out of the kitchen and we spent another half hour eating cake and talking. I didn't manage to talk to Victoire until after everyone else had left.
“Merlin, Amy, that was exhausting,” she said after the last few people trickled out the door.
“But fun,” I said.
Victoire smiled. “Yes, very fun. I think we're set now, for baby clothes.”
“And for diapers, for maybe, a week?” I said as I gestured to the huge mountain of diaper boxes stacked in a corner of the living room.
Victoire laughed. “Diapers are the best baby shower gift. Seriously. People don't realize it until they have kids, but diapers are probably the most important.”
“Amen to that,” Nana Molly said as she picked up stray pieces of wrapping paper. “Vic, dear, in a week you're going to be having those babies. If I were anything like George I'd bet on it.”
“Nana, I'm not due for another three weeks.”
Nana Molly smiled. “I've had seven kids and watched them have countless grandkids. I've even watched a few of you have my great-grandkids. Trust me. You've got less than a week.”
Victoire groaned. “Twins. Merlin. The labor is going to be awful.”
“At least you'll get two at once,” Nana Molly said. “Better to get two out of the labor than one and have another later.”
“You did that and then had two more,” Victoire pointed out.
Nana Molly shrugged. “Well, don't listen to me, then.”
“I'm done after this,” Victoire said. “Three will be plenty.”
“I'm going to have to get going,” I said as I located my purse. “I've got a stack of paper work at St. Mungo's calling my name. But I'll see you Wednesday.”
“Wednesday?” Victoire asked.
“I'm cooking dinner for you, Teddy, and Sophie, remember?”
Victoire smirked. “You mean bringing us take-away?”
“Same thing.” I grinned and gave her a hug. “Take care, and keep those babies inside a bit longer.”
Victoire smiled. “I'll try.”
A/N: Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed this!