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Chapter 23 : And So It Begins
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The next afternoon, Kira was sitting in her bed in the Otter River Memorial Hospital, feeding Georgia Molly. She looked over at George as he sat on the chair beside her bed. He was holding Fredi Madelaine out in front of him, looking at her quizzically.
She still couldn't believe it was over, that he had found her. Although Kira had wanted to return to the Burrow with George and his family, the medical techs in the ambulance Jack had called had insisted upon transporting Kira and the babies to the hospital. The doctors had examined them and declared that they were perfectly healthy for having been born under less than perfect circumstances.
Kira had been given a private room due to the notoriety of the case. The hospital had permitted George to spend the night in her room. They had hooked up an IV line to more efficiently get some nutrients and electrolytes into Kira. George had nearly fainted at the sight of the needle. He had thought it barbaric, but Kira had said for him to let it go. He still cringed to look at it, though.
Then, this morning, a knock had come at the door. It was Jack and a woman prosecutor from Exeter. They had needed to take Kira’s statement.
George had sat and listened as she had related how Lockslip had tricked her into coming into the library to get a book by a favorite author. He had grown angry as she had related how Lockslip had deprived her of light, heat and even food to compel her compliance. He had found it hard not to cry when she had told them about how he had molested her. But he had to put his own anger aside to comfort her as she broken down when she spoke of her mother's murder, and how she had been forced to help dispose of the body.
After Jack and the prosecutor had left, two nurses had brought the twins into the room in their little plastic beds on wheels. They were tightly wrapped in pink blankets and had little pink caps on their bald heads that were no bigger than one of his mum’s tomatoes and just about as red.
"You're sure they ARE going to get some hair, right love?" he asked.
"Yes, George, they are going to get hair," she said, for the fourth time that day, reaching over to punch him on the arm playfully.
"Did you see that, Fredi? he asked, "Your mum just hit me. Do you see the abuse I have to endure?" The next second he wanted to kick himself as he saw the laughter leave her eyes at the word abuse.
Kira was quiet a couple minutes, but she seemed to shake the bad memories off and said, "This one seems to be done. Let's switch. It's Fredi's turn."
George handed off Fredi and took Georgia. He walked her a few minutes, and she quickly fell asleep, so he carefully placed her in the little bed on wheels. He turned and looked at Kira as she nursed Fredi. He didn't think he'd ever tire of watching her nurse their children. It was the most amazingly beautiful and feminine thing he'd ever seen.
That was, he realized, what he had missed most while she was gone. She had brought curtains and lace and teacups with pretty details into his life, things only women notice or care about, but things that, in their absence, make a man's life somehow emptier and barren. George pondered on how different things would be if Fred had not been killed.
George had been silent so long that Kira finally asked, "What are you thinking about?"
"Fred. How different things would be for all of us if he hadn't died. He would be sitting here now, and I'd only be stopping in to visit, as a brother and uncle. He'd be husband and father. I love you so much, Kira. I wonder if I could have stopped myself from loving you if he had lived to marry you. I wonder how I would have managed, if it would have driven a wedge between Fred and me."
"I doubt it," Kira answered. "You would never have done your brother wrong. Then there's the fact that you would have hidden your feelings too well. You were always better at that than Fred. He had no self-control. He even knew it. He once told me that if he didn't have you there, keeping him in check, he'd probably end up in prison."
"Actually, I probably would've ended up in prison over something he did. I remember once, in our sixth year, he'd put a Ton-Tongue Toffee on our Potions professor's desk. I got caught sneaking in there to get it before the nasty old git had eaten it, and I ended up getting detention for it."
"But worrying about what might have been is a waste of time, George. It only steals our joy of the present. Maybe, if things had been different, I wouldn't have made that blanket out of Fred's old jumpers, and your mother would not have recognized the pattern on the jumper Whack-job was wearing, and you and your family would be planning another funeral today. Three funerals, actually."
A knock came at the door and Molly walked into the room, carrying Kira's green velvet sewing bag which she had filled with blankets and clothes she had knitted and crocheted for the babies. Everything was blue.
"Oh, I'd better take care of that," she said. She took out her wand and swirled it over the items, saying, "Colorerosa." Everything immediately turned to a delicate shade of pink. "I knew you'd need some things to bring them home in tomorrow. I've spent the entire autumn knitting. I always knew we'd get you back, Kira. Arthur is down in the lobby. They have some odd rules about allowing only two visitors at a time."
Molly immediately went to the hospital bassinet and picked Georgia up. George got up so his mother could sit and cuddle her granddaughter. "Oh, George, we had an owl from the Minister today. It's in Kira's bag there on the bed. Ginny will be stopping in before she leaves to return to Hogwarts. Harry is escorting her back to school. I have to remember to send an owl to the Headmistress thanking her for letting Ginny stay home. Oh, and Healer Whitney is coming to look you and the babies over, Kira. I got hold of her by the Floo Network."
"I can't wait to show Healer Whitney my babies. I was wondering how Ginny came to be there last night," said Kira as George read the letter from the Minister of Magic.
"Oh, the Headmistress let her do all her lessons by owl so she could help us find you," George explained, looking up from his letter a moment.
“What does the Minister say?” asked Kira.
"Kingsley sends his congratulations and says that he will take steps to remove the threat to our family. He writes that he fears the Muggle court will merely send him to a mental institution for a short period and then release him when he manages to convince them he is cured. He...he doesn't say what he is going to do to him, though."
"You don't think they'd really let him loose, do you?" asked Kira nervously.
The door to the room opened and closed though nobody came in. Then, Healer Whitney removed the Disillusionment Charm she had placed on herself. "Hello, Kira," she said. "I was so thrilled when Molly's face appeared in the grate to let me know you'd been found. Did you ever imagine you'd be delivering your first grandchildren yourself, Molly?
"I rather think I made a good job of it too," said Molly as she relinquished Georgia so the Healer could examine her. Then, Fredi had finished feeding, so Kira handed her over. After declaring both babies perfect, Healer Whitney attended to Kira. As she worked, George began pestering her about when he might expect them to grow hair.
The door opened again. Harry and Ginny appeared as they swept the Invisibility Cloak from over their heads. Ginny immediately went to the bassinet and picked Fredi up. "You know what the best thing about all this is?" she asked.
"What?" asked George.
"As all you boys marry, more girls are being added to the family. And now there are two more girls. Bill says that Fleur is so sure she's having a girl that she isn't even considering boy's names. They have settled on Victoire. Pretty soon you guys are finally going to be outnumbered."
"Well, I'll have to put a stop to that with the next set then, won't I?" said George, walking over to Ginny and running his finger along the baby's cheek. "What do you think, Georgia?" he asked. "Would you like a pair of little brothers?"
"That's Fredi, George," said Kira. "Mum's got Georgia."
"Really? How can you tell?" he asked. "They're both bald as bludgers."
"Fredi's a bit bigger and she sticks her whole fist in her mouth, knuckles first, like that. Georgia puts her four fingers in. Really, George, how could you not be able to tell them apart?" said Kira, in a mock scolding voice.
A quick knock came at the door. Once more it opened and closed. Arthur, Ron, and Hermione came in and removed their Disillusionment Charms.
"I met these two down in the lobby," said Arthur. "The hospital has some odd rules about not allowing more than two visitors up at a time. They also said visitors to the maternity ward are limited to fathers and grandparents as well. So, we sneaked up. How are our newest girls?" He walked over to Ginny and relieved her of Fredi. "Which one is this?" he asked.
"That's Fredi Madelaine, Arthur," said Molly. "This one is Georgia Molly."
The door opened and closed again. Sam Jorkins and Verity appeared as they removed Disillusionment charms from themselves.
Verity held out a small pink-wrapped box toward Kira. "Sam came to Hogsmeade to see me straight off," she said. "He wanted me to be the first to know that you'd been found and about the babies being born. I got you a couple baby rattles. They're really just ordinary Muggle ones, but I enchanted them to keep changing colors to keep babies entertained."
"Thank you, Verity," said Kira as she opened the box. She held the rattles up, transfixed as they changed from pink to violet to blue to green to yellow to orange to red each time she shook them. "These are really cool."
"Yeah," said George, picking one up to play with it. "This would make a great addition to the Mothers' Household Helpers line. I'll give you a cut of the profits, of course."
"What I'm really wanting is to be able to go back home," said Verity. "I miss the Diagon Alley store and my friends in London. Also, Sam and I have our own wedding to plan." She held up her hand to show off the diamond ring Sam had given her just that morning.
Once more the door opened and closed again. This time it was Merkel and Luke. They came to say that Kingsley had assigned them to handle Nathan Lockslip.
Kingsley had decided that they would remove Lockslip from the jail in Exeter and take him to the Forbidden Forest. Then, he would be released into the Dementors' Sphere of Confinement. The Dementors, acting according to their nature, would engage in a battle among themselves to consume his soul. Many would be killed in the frenzy, thereby resulting in a double benefit to the world, fewer Dementors and the virtual demise of Nathan Lockslip.
Afterward, Patronuses would be sent in to remove Lockslip's shell, and he would be returned to the jail before morning. The Muggles would assume he had gone into a permanent psychotic or catatonic state.
"This is, actually, the best way to handle it," said Merkel. "He won't be fit to stand trial, so it will save you from having to testify. We are going to apparate into his cell tonight, stun him, then do a side-along to the Forbidden Forest to take care of the job."
"The man is a danger. Once Mrs. Weasley's Silencing Charm wore off, he began screaming that you belong to him and he'd see everyone dead for keeping you from him. If he ever gets out, he'd come right after you again, or the family. It's best to neutralize him now," said Luke.
"What happened to 'let the law deal with him,' Luke?" asked George, who was still itching to take Lockslip out himself.
"The law is dealing with him," said Luke. "Kingsley deliberated with representatives of the Wizengamut. As your wife, Kira is afforded the same protections under Ministry law as if she were one of us, so the disposition of the case was not outside their sphere of influence. They decided that the Ministry has the right to determine punishment. The fact that your wife was subjected to months of terror, abuse, and stress while pregnant made them most perturbed. They think this punishment is appropriate. He has received due process in our court."
"It seems such a terrible fate, worse than death," said Kira. "I mean, he is mental, after all."
"Don't feel sorry for him, Kira," said George. "Think of what we all went through, what he did to your father and mother. Then there's our girls. He didn't care if they lived or died."
"Just because someone is crazy, doesn't mean they get a free pass to do as they want," said Ron.
"Ron's right," said Hermione. "I mean, let's face it, anyone who thinks they can kill and are somehow justified in doing it is, on some level, insane."
"Exactly," said Harry. "Tom Riddle was insane and he had to die to be stopped. Think of all the Muggle dictators who have killed millions. They didn't stop until they were dead. If Nathan Lockslip gets a pass, so does Riddle, Hitler, and the rest. They were all insane."
"Yes, I suppose you're right," said Kira. “It is the best way to make sure we are safe. The very idea of Dementors terrifies me though.”
"In our world, justice is faster and more to the point, Kira. We can’t kill him outright without causing undue suspicion," said Arthur, who was looking down at the button to call the nurse, playing with it with his free hand.
They were interrupted once more by the door opening. But, this time the Head Charge Nurse stood in the doorway, her hands on her hips and a look of shock and anger on her face.
"HOW did all of you get into this room?" she asked, advancing into the room. "TWO visitors at a time! Two, and only fathers and grandparents are allowed! Now out! Out! OUT! OUT!"
Arthur hurriedly handed Fredi over to George, and everyone except George and Molly ran out the door, calling back goodbyes. Ginny gave Kira a quick kiss on the cheek and told her she'd be visiting as soon as they moved into the new house in Hogsmeade. Merkel got so flustered he ran into the small bathroom by mistake, slamming the door behind him loudly. The sound covered the noise made by his disapparition.
The nurse opened the bathroom door and found it empty. "But...where...where did he go?" she asked.
"Where did who go?" asked Kira, innocently.
"Why, the...I mean, nothing, never mind,” said the nurse who left, casting a rather odd look back at them.
Kira, George, and Molly laughed once the door had closed behind her.
They sat, companionably talking about the new house and how much work they had in front of them to get all the furnishings situated and the nursery in order.
Kiraand the babies were going to be released the next day. She, George and the girls would be spending the next couple days at the Burrow. Then, on Saturday, they would be taking the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade and their new home. Arthur would be retiring in a few more weeks, just as soon as his replacement was trained. Until then, he would travel to the ministry from the new house by the Floo Network. Percy and Penny were arriving Friday to take possession of the Burrow.
"Oh, I almost forgot," said George, getting up. He carefully settled Fredi back into her little bed and took out his wand.
"What are you doing?" asked Kira.
"I want to place a trace spell on you and the twins," he said. "It's a simple charm that will allow me to easily find any of you should anyone turn up missing again. A simple Point-Me spell will let my wand home in on you. It will be wand specific, meaning that only I can find you. It won’t hurt. I’d never do anything to hurt you. I won’t do it without your permission, but…"
"I highly doubt that there are any other lunatics out there waiting to abduct me, George. I don't even understand why he got so obsessed with me. It's not like I'm some supermodel or anything."
"Just humor me, all right? And you're gorgeous and you know it, so stop fishing for compliments."
"If you want to put a trace on us, then go ahead. It will come in handy when the girls start to walk." She watched as George placed the trace on one twin and then the other. When he came to her, she looked up at him and smiled coquettishly. "Do you really think I'm gorgeous?" she asked.
"I am not going to pander to your overweening vanity," he teased, as he placed the spell on her.
She reached up and grabbed the front of his shirt, pulling him down to her. "Oh, you will if I want you to," she said.
"You're probably right," he said, kissing her. Suddenly, his face lit up. "You know, I could do a hair-growing spell on them too."
"No! You leave their hair alone!" she said.
"That's the point," cried George. "What hair?"
"But you can lie here, next to me, and kiss me some more," she said.
"I am still present in this room, you know," said Molly, getting up to put the sleeping Georgia back in her bed. "But, I'm going home now anyway, so carry on. Arthur is going to rent a Muggle car to come pick you up tomorrow morning, Kira. We’ll be here at ten."
His mother gone, George climbed onto the bed next to Kira. She snuggled her head on his chest, luxuriating in the feel of his arms around her. She felt safe for the first time since she had been abducted.
George closed his eyes and just breathed in the scent of her. Together, George and Kira allowed the exhaustion of the past months catch up with them. They began to drift into a nightmare-free sleep for the first time in months when, suddenly, both babies awoke and began crying at the same time.
George groaned. Kira sat up in the bed.
"And so it begins," he said, getting up to check on them. "I guess we're going to have to get used to this. I think they need to be changed. "
"Yes, so it begins," said Kira as she held out her arms to take Fredi from her father.
I hope you liked the story. I wanted to show the students in my writing group how one can develop and change a character from a flat stereotype into a much more rounded one through plot and narration. I will be starting a new one called Keeping Emma. It is a Severus/OC ship set during the first year after the murder of the Potters.
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