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Chapter 6 : The Night
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"Go get her things, Prongs, what the hell are you doing just standing around?" Sirius shouted while he held Hermione's hand, gritting his teeth as she squeezed and nearly broke his. "Prongs! Prongs! Will you... bloody hell, James Potter, earth to you, mate!"
James stood, staring at Hermione's scrunched face. His own face lost color and his limbs tingled. She was screaming in pain only a few minutes ago and now she was breathing heavy and James couldn't tell if he should be by her side like Sirius or if he should floo ahead to the hospital. He barely heard Sirius yelling at him in the distance.
"Oi! Potter!" Sirius yelled in another attempt to gain James's attention. "We need to move! Now!"
Hermione whined and clasped Sirius's hand harder. "My children hate me! They bloody hate me!" She breathed out heavily and sucked in another breath.
Sirius put his hand to Hermione's head and kissed her temple. "You'll be alright if you can't break my hand, yeah?"
She barely nodded and kept her eyes closed. When Sirius's hand left hers, she slumped against the wall and gripped her stomach. James seemed to snap out of his fright and ran after Sirius, leaving Hermione completely alone. The pain was slowly receding, but the aftershock of her first painful contraction was still coursing through her body.
"What did I get myself into," she whispered, biting her lip. They, these children that were trying to rip her body in half, were evil. "SIRIUS!"
He came running into the room and tripped over the rug on the floor. His chin hit the ground first and a deafening crack filled the tense room. He laid on the floor, unmoving.
"Padfoot?" James asked quietly, running into the room and crouching down beside Sirius. "You alright, mate? Padfoot? Padfoot? Padfoot?"
"Will you shut up? Just shut up!" Hermione berated James and stood tall. "Use your wand, you daft twat and float him with us to Mungos." She shook her head and ripped her things from James's hand. Mumbling under her breath, Hermione vented her irritation as she paced to the fireplace. "Bloody men, no more useful than a two ton, great rock. Oh, let's fall over, crack our heads open and have a jolly good time." She was seething, the pain in her abdomen started coming back more intense than the last round. "I'll just stand around and be completely useless! That will help!"
In a flash of green light, she was gone to the hospital. James quickly followed her, Sirius floating crookedly by his side. They walked together, Hermione wincing on the way, to the receptionist's desk. She stopped and put one hand on her back, half-heartedly glanced back to James and then eyed the witch at the desk skeptically. She seemed much too happy with that annoyingly large smile on her face and her chewing gum popping around in her mouth. Hermione tried not to narrow her eyes.
"Oooh, looks like someone's about to have a baby," the witch chirped, and then looked quickly to James and then to Sirius, who was unconscious next to him. "And, oh my, what happened here? Looks like he'll have to go to another ward. You two, floor six. I'll have someone take him where he needs to go."
Tears pooled in Hermione's eyes. "He's the father! He has to be there!"
James put his hand on her shoulder and awkwardly patted her. "I'll be there and Sirius will wake up soon and be there for the birth, eh. We can make it through the hard parts together, okay?"
Dejectedly, Hermione nodded and turned around to head for the maternity ward. But the witch at the reception desk stopped her. "You'll need to be transported there by medical staff, dear. You shouldn't be so quick to walk on your feet! Triplets are a heavy burden-"
"I'm having twins!" Hermione scowled and glanced down at her very large and round, aching stomach. "Two. Not three." She turned to James. "Do I really look that fat?"
James sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "No, love. Not at all."
"Hermione's having her babies," Lily shouted to Remus from the bedroom. "The coin is glowing red!"
Remus ran to Lily's side, a soft smile on his face. "Do you think they managed to get her to the hospital in time, then?" He took the coin from Lily's hand and played with it between his fingers. "It's remarkable that she knows how to do this sort of magic, isn't it? I don't think I could perform this kind of charm work."
Lily swiped the coin back. "Honestly, Remus, what were you doing in charms? We learned the Protean Charm in our seventh year. It's very simple. All you have to do is swish-" Her voice froze and her eyes darted to Remus, down to the ground and then back to Remus. Fear flooded her body, causing her hands and legs to tremble.
"Lily?" Remus asked, stepping just a pace closer to her. He leaned down slightly so that he was looking directly in her eyes. "Lily, are you alright?"
She seemed to snap from her stoic state and catch Remus off his guard. "Never better. Um, Remus, would you be a darling and get my bags. We need to go to the hospital and check on Hermione." Lily smiled sweetly, holding in the urge to run to the loo and vomit. "You never know what those two will get up to and I'm sure she needs some moral support..."
Remus barely inclined his head towards her and gave her a curious look with an eyebrow raised. "Of course."
As soon as he was from the room, Lily began to pace the room, one hand on her hip, the other on the bulge of her stomach. Her eyebrows furrowed together and her lips formed a straight and pallid line. Pain. Leaking. Not good.
"Think. Think. Think. Stop thinking about the pain. The burning, ripping, contracting pain." Lily whispered to herself under her breath, quickly taking in deep breaths. "The magical properties of the coriander root. Think. Obsession. Compulsion. Determination. When combined with powdered root of asphodel it creates something similar to the Draught of-"
She stopped talking abruptly when she felt Remus's hand on her wrist, holding tight. "Are you in labor, Lily?"
"No, no, everything is fine, Remus, don't worry." Lily put on a fake smile and gently took her hand away from him. "See, I'm not having this baby until I'm ready. And I am not ready. The books never said anything about it hurting this badly..."
Remus's eyes were wide while he watched Lily talking to herself, talking herself out of labor. Part of him wanted to shake her, get some sense into her and make her see that she was acting childish - that she needed to get to the hospital now instead of wandering around their house in circles. The other part of him wanted to hold her tight and comfort her. He settled, in short, for the median.
"W-we, uh, w-ell, we should, Lily." He put his hands up and then down and then pointed to the fireplace and then ran his hand over the back of his head. Remus stared at Lily as she walked to the fireplace, holding her back and stomach as if to keep them in tact. He made his way next to her and nodded at her stomach. "Baby."
Lily sucked in a breath through her teeth and scrunched her eyes closed. "Are you just going to stand there?" she gritted out angrily. "Hermione is having her babies and we need to be there to help her."
Remus tried to comfort her with a hand on her arm, stroking her gently, but she pulled away. "We need to get you to a doctor, Lily. You're about to give birth, love."
Lily snapped her head to face Remus and opened her eyes. They were dark green, narrowed and furious. "You will take me to the hospital before I put you in it!"
In a matter of seconds, the pair had apparated straight into St. Mungo's. Remus, whose face was as white as a ghost, held Lily's hand and refused to let go. He approached the receptionist witch, a fearful stutter in his voice. "W-we-we're looking f-for H-he-hermione Granger. She's h-having twins."
The witch peered at Lily and back to Remus. "Is this young lady Hermione? She looks as though she's ready to have her babies."
Lily crushed Remus's hand in hers and let out a furious grumble. "I am not having twins. I am not having any child at all. How dare you insinuate that I look like a pregnant woman! The nerve of some people. Remus," Lily turned to him, eyebrows raised high, "Are you just going to let her speak to you like that? She thinks I'm Hermione. She thinks that you're moronic!"
"Oh, thank God," another voice trespassed into the conversation, saving Remus from utter humiliation. "Oi, where the hell have you two been? Lily...Remus, is she alright?"
Remus turned to face James, his mouth dangling slightly open, eyes wide. The plead for help did not go unnoticed. "Prongs? Where's Hermione? Is she alright? Sirius - is he with her? Lily's in labor, and she's...Ow! Oi, Lily! That's my hand that you're trying to break!"
Lily pressed his hand between her fingers a little harder and then threw his hand away from her. "I am not in labor. I still have two weeks!"
James glanced back and forth between the pair of them. "Right. Well," his eyes lingered on Remus, "Hermione is in the maternity ward, getting sussed out by the medi-witch. I reckon she'd like to see a few familiar faces while Sirius is getting stitched up-"
"Stitched up?" Lily asked, breathing heavily. "What did the git do now?"
James smiled, though it didn't quite reach his eyes. "We were trying to get Hermione here and he tripped and knocked himself out. Hermione will go mental if she's left alone too long. Let's get you in to see her, eh?"
Lily nodded, her eyes squeezed shut for a moment. "Right. Just... can I sit down for a minute? My stomach must be really upset." She gave a dry chuckle and then winced in pain. "Must have been the ice cream last night or something."
Remus rolled his eyes. "Yes, it was the bloody ice cream that induced your labor, Lily."
"I am not having this baby!" She screamed at Remus, waddling closer to him. "Do you think this is funny? Do you fancy pushing a quaffle out of your-"
"Okay!" James interrupted in an overly cheerful tone. "Hermione's room, anyone? Right, follow me, it's not far down the hall. Lily," James held out his hand and allowed Lily to crush it while they began their walk down the hallway. "Will you let a healer check you out while we're here, at least? Help me to not worry about you?"
Remus walked behind the two and listened as they spoke calmly to each other. He tried to ignore it, tried not to see the connection they shared, but it was palpable all the way to the maternity wing. And once James got Lily up on the cot, he still remained next to her, soothing her hair.
"I don't want the ice, I want these babies out of me now or so help me, Merlin, I will curse you all!" Hermione's voice rang through the maternity ward, like fire blazing through a forest.
James tore away from Lily and stood by Hermione's side. "You need to be nice to these people, love. They're the ones that are going to help you through this the most."
"Them?" Hermione questioned, furrowing her brows. "Where's Sirius? When's he com--oh!" She pressed her hands into the cot and semi-lifted herself off of it, the pain of the contraction coursing through her back. "Find him! Someone bloody find him or-"
She stopped talking and began a painful screech that filled the room. Lily stared at Hermione and then to James and Remus. "Well! One of you - off you go! Find that sod and bring him back here!"
Remus jumped and nodded. "Allow me," he whispered to James, winking and scurrying off quickly.
"Brilliant," James said in a hushed voice, standing between the two women. His fingers squeezed the bridge of his nose, just under his glasses. "Alright, Lily, the healer will be here in a minute, why don't you put on this gown and try to relax, yeah?" Without waiting for an answer, James turned to Hermione. "You need to calm down. No one is going to want to help you if you keep screaming at them. Okay?"
Both Lily and Hermione nodded, sharing a bashful look between them. James drew a chair with his wand and placed it in the middle of the girls, and prayed to God he would make it out alive.
"Alright, up you get." Remus put his hand under Sirius's arm and helped lift him from the cot. "How in Hades' hideaway you managed to need so many bloody potions for cracking your head against a wall will always be a mystery. You clumsy git."
Sirius grinned and steadied himself against Remus. "I'll be fine in a minute, Moony. Just need to get my balance back is all." He pulled away from Remus finally and put his hand to his head, as if trying to stop the spinning. "I told her that we didn't need the sodding rug, but does she ever listen?"
"James seems to be doing alright with the pair of them. They listen to him for some insane reason." Remus tried to keep the spite out of his voice, but Sirius caught on quickly and clapped his friend on the back, shaking his head, effectively moving the stray hairs from his face. Remus sighed, unable to say much more. "'Least I got out of there. Sure you want to be in there, mate? It's like Grindelwald and Voldemort joining forces in there."
Laughing, Sirius began walked toward the door, out of the healer's ward. "I thought you said James could handle it, mate. We've got nothing to worry about with him handling the bad bits."
They wandered down the hallway in silence, glancing left and right at the injured wizards and witches that lined the different wards. Sirius held back a cackle at a witch who looked very similar to his cousin, Bellatrix, who seemed to have sprouted little feet on the top of her head. Remus tried to keep his eyes away from the ward which held those who had been bitten by magical creatures, but couldn't keep his curiosity hidden. He shuddered when he saw a man who looked to have a werewolf bite and quickly turned his head away.
The awkward feeling between the two men started to grow as they moved closer and closer to the maternity ward. Remus put his hand on Sirius's shoulder to stop him from going any further and turned to him, a serious frown on his face.
"What is it about Prongs? Why can't I get to Lily like he can?" Remus asked, looking at his feet fidgeting on the ground. "I mean, we're brilliant together, but James always seems to know what to say..."
Sirius nodded, understanding well. "Prongs is the same way with Hermione, mate. He has a natural talent for helping women."
"Does it bother you?" Remus finally looked up.
"No," Sirius shook his head. "I reckon it's good to have him around when the missus wants to argue. Keeps us together and happy, I think."
"So the key to your relationship is actually James?" Remus asked, amusement etched in his smile.
Grimacing and rolling his eyes playfully, Sirius inclined his head. "He should have been a Hufflepuff."
"Oi, no need to be nasty!" Remus laughed as he opened the door to the maternity ward.
Hermione was sitting up in her bed, sweat starting to drip from her hairline. Lily was fighting with James, adamantly smacking his hands away from the bed. Sirius and Remus strolled into the room, taking in the scene as best as they could, trying to be inconspicuous. No luck.
"Get the damn healer to get my bloody potion or-" Hermione screamed, narrowing her eyes as if to curse the men.
Lily smacked James's hand. "Get away from me, Potter. Get away. Remus! Remus, get this man away from me! He thinks I'm going to have this baby now and I don't want to have it now, it's still too early and I'm not prepared, Remus, get him away. Potter, oi, get away!" Lily batted at the edge of the bed as if to warn James to stay away.
Remus put his hand on James's chest and moved him away, apology in his eyes as he turned away from his friend. He sat down by Lily and kissed her temple. "You need to relax. You're going to hurt the baby if you keep going mental like this. No one appreciates it and least of all those of us who are trying to help. So, stop being a brat and deal with the fact that you're going to have this baby now." He played with her fingers in his hand as he spoke and gently caressed them, up and down. "Breathe, Lily. Deep breaths."
James stared as Lily allowed Remus to coddle her. And then looked to the other couple and sighed.
Sitting down next to Hermione, Sirius took her hand in his. "Sorry 'bout that, gorgeous," he whispered to her, trying to get her tone lowered. "Knocked myself out pretty well, I reckon."
"Lots of help you were!" Hermione spat back, unaffected by his calm treatment. "I'm dying here, Sirius. These children want me to die!"
Sirius took her hand and kissed the back of it. "You need to relax, love. It's only going to get worse if you keep yourself so tense and... scary."
Hermione giggled, snorting a little in her throat. "Sirius, I have two babies trying to rip me apart from the inside out." She tried her best to stay calm, but could feel the pain rising in her voice. "Please help me."
Sirius put his arm around her shoulder and ran his hand up and down her gown. "We'll get through this. Just breathe and relax, yeah? Deep breath in, breathe out." He coached her through the breathing the best that he could. The moments when it would become excessively painful, he could feel her squeeze anything she could get her hands on. "There can't be much longer left to this, Hermione. You're doing great."
"Push," Sirius hissed, holding Hermione's leg behind the knee. "Stop screaming and push!"
Remus sat behind Lily, holding her hands above his. The sweat between them caused their apparel to stick. "Come on, Lily, breathe and push."
James ran between the girls and applied damp cloths to their foreheads, sneaking one for his every few strides. As the healers prepared for the birth of the babies, James watched the crowning and the gross labor things that he promised himself he would never, ever participate in. Hermione was the first to make headway with one of her babies. She screamed and panted, cried and nearly gave up.
"I don't want to do this anymore," she sobbed against Sirius's shoulder. "I... can't. I can't do it. Sirius... you do it."
James laughed when he reached Hermione's side and grabbed her other hand. "C'mon. Not much left to do. Deep breath..."
The healer requested that Hermione push as hard as she could and in a few moments there was crying filling the air. Lily and Remus glanced over and Hermione looked over to them and smiled slightly, relishing in the feeling of removed pressure. She stared at her baby, a boy from the look of it, and began to cry, already knowing that she would never love anything as much as she did that little boy.
"He's perfect," Hermione said happily, watching as they took him away to give him a cleaning.
"Yeah, he looks just like you," Sirius said and kissed Hermione's forehead.
"You only have a few minutes before the next one starts," the healer warned Hermione. "I suggest you brace yourself."
"Make it stop! Make it stop, Remus, make it stop!" Lily shouted over the healer's advice.
James ran from Hermione's side, dodged a tray in the middle of the room and gripped on to Lily's free hand. He tried to recall the words Sirius used with Hermione, but couldn't quite form the words. "Don't worry, Lily, only a few more minutes and the pain will be gone. This is the worst bit, right here. It doesn't get any worse than this."
Lily took in a deep breath and glared at James while Remus smoothed her hair. "What. the. hell. kind. of advice. is that?" Lily ground out as she forced all of her weight down to try and remove the baby from her body.
Remus shook his head very minutely at James, who opened his mouth to retaliate.
"Oh god, I can feel it-" Lily yelled and crushed James's hand as hard as she could. "Make it stop! I don't want to do this!"
Hermione spoke over the noise, pleading for Sirius to take her place. Both girls were panting and grunting, trying to rid themselves of the babies. And after a moment, a sound came from Lily's side of the room. A little baby, screaming, was being lifted to its mom for the first time. As Lily adored her baby and grew quieter, Hermione continued to push.
"That's it. One more little push, Hermione," the healer said calmly. "One. Two. Three."
She could feel the pressure relieved at once. But there was no crying. There was no sound of healthy lungs. The maternity wing was silent to Hermione as she strained her ears to listen for the coo of her newest addition. No sound came.
Sirius stood from the cot and sped to the healer and medi-witch. They shook their heads and rushed the baby away. Hermione watched after them, straining herself to see where they were taking her child, but she couldn't focus. She needed to hear the baby cry. Not the boy, not Lily's child. She needed to hear this one. She had to know he or she was okay.
"Hermione, you need to lay down." Sirius said in the distance.
She didn't realize that she was starting to stand from the cot. "My baby!"
Sirius took her in his arms and held her tight. James came over to the bed and held Hermione's hand. Remus and Lily watched on as they found comfort in each other, Lily looking down occasionally to the bundle in her arms.
"Where is the boy?" Hermione asked suddenly, her head jerking up.
Sirius pointed to a baby, wrapped snug in a blanket, lying just a few feet away. He cooed and snorted every few seconds and Hermione was thankful he was alright. But she was missing one. One of her children...
"I want my baby," she croaked. "Sirius, go after the baby. Please. Go."
He was already near the door when she asked. But she didn't know. All she could feel was a loss of closeness. And that closeness had been there for eight and a half months.
"I'm sorry, Mr Black, but this doesn't look good," the healer said apologetically. "There was a loss of oxygen to the second baby's brain while we delivered the first baby and I'm afraid that she may not be...normal... even if she does survive."
Sirius slumped against the wall of the hospital, nodding and letting out a sigh, trying to pull himself together quickly. "Is there anything that anyone can do...?"
"The next two days are crucial," he informed Sirius gravely. "I would suggest that the family, you, Hermione and Mr Potter, all take time to see her as much as you can." The healer took off his glasses and rubbed them with his shirt. "Go back to her, Sirius. You've done all you can do here."
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