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Chapter 4 : World in His Arms
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“Thank Merlin mom came home, otherwise that would have been the most depressing story I have ever heard in my LIFE!” When he thought his father wasn’t watching, Teddy wiped a tear away from the corner of his eye. Remus dutifully pretended not to notice, but was silently touched that his boy had found the story moving. Ted had inherited a capacity for great empathy, very much like his father. “Like seriously dad, don’t downer me like that again, okay?”
“I can’t promise you that, son.” Remus said. “I am your old man after all. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t a huge downer every once in a while.”
“Yeah, but, I don’t think I can handle any more miserable stories in my life. In fact, my entire teenage life is already a tragedy all on its own!” He slumped dramatically on the chair.
Remus Lupin’s eyes sparkled as he laughed out loud. “Your ENTIRE teenage life is a tragedy? Already? What happened? Did you lose your sock?”
“Dad!” Teddy scowled. “Of course not! You know Victoire got that part in the play, and that Ravenclaw catcher, Samuels, he’s in the play too and I don’t trust that guy worth a thestral’s piss – I mean – I don’t trust him at all…” The sandy-haired teen blushed, not only because swearing around his father was generally frowned upon, but because he was admitting weakness to the man he admired most in the world. But Remus was pensive, and serious, in his reply.
“So you’re worried?” The headmaster reached for the photo album and started turning pages. “But, you know you can trust Victoire, and that is all that matters.” He added sagely. “Samuels is a Quidditch rival, but no more than that. He cannot steal a girl’s heart away if she has already given it to you. And, believe it or not, it is a great thing to that you define your girlfriend’s handsome costar as a ‘tragedy’. In fact, it is a wonderful thing.”
Teddy watched his father closely. He was clearly puzzled, but knew his father would share the rest of his thoughts when he was ready. Remus removed a picture of baby Teddy from the album. The infant had golden-orange hair (at that particular moment), and was reaching for a stalk of cheerful orange and pink lupins, the kind that grew outside of Grandma Andromeda’s house. Remus’ voice was hoarse as he fingered the worn edges of the photo, as he had done so many times before.
“You see, your mother and I fought against Lord Voldemort so that you could have these kinds of ‘normal’ teenage tragedies in your life. When I was younger, a tragedy was something else. It was seeing friends you grew up with, being slaughtered in the streets. It was the swoop and despair of uncontrolled dementors. It was being hauled into the Ministry and disposed of like a sick animal if you weren’t a pureblood, or if you had a condition like I do. That was not the world we wanted our boy to live in. We did not want our son to understand tragedy, in that way.”
“We need to take her to the hospital!” Remus exclaimed, banging on the door with all of his might.
“NO HOSPITAL!” Andromeda roared from the other side of the door. “YOU-KNOW-WHO’s people are in control of the hospital now! She is fine HERE!”
“She’s not fine! How can all that NOISE be fine!?” Remus shouted back, his heart lurching as his wife screamed in the painful throes of childbirth. She was dying, he knew it, and he was losing his mind. At a new scream, he slammed at the door again. “ANDY OPEN THE DAMN DOOR! SHE CAN METAMORPH AND GO TO THE HOSPITAL! NO ONE WILL KNOW IT’S HER IF SHE’S DISGUISED, NO ONE-”
The bedroom door suddenly flew open and Remus was face-to-face with the formidable, and rather frightening, Andromeda Tonks. Her hair was wild and frizzled, she was covered in sweat, and her lip was curled in a savage snarl. “SHE CANNOT METAMORPH YOU ASS!” She stormed forward, and Remus recoiled backwards, instinctively cowed by the woman’s rage and furious impatience. “SHE! IS! FUCKING! BUSY!” On cue, Tonks wailed behind her and Remus sprang to his toes to peek into the room, but all he could see was the back of Molly Weasley.
“Busy doing what?” He gasped, trying to get around Andromeda as she moved to block his way. “Dora? What’s going – ”
“BUSY! HAVING! YOUR! FUCKING! BABY!” Roared Andromeda, before retreating and SLAMMING the door in his face. Remus drew his wand. He was going to blast open that door, regardless of what charms and jinxes Tonks’ mother had placed upon it. But Arthur Weasley came up behind him just in time and pressed a glass of firewhiskey into his hand, while simultaneously pushing his wand down.
“Come on, Remus, Molly’s in there, you know she won’t let it get out of hand. Sit down with me, drink yourself into a stupor – it’s what I always do. You heard Andromeda – the ladies are busy having your fucking baby.” Arthur tried to maintain an air of seriousness, but Remus’ first-time fatherly panic was so familiar to him, it was somewhat funny.
“For the love of GOD!” Remus swore, his eyes bulging. “She’s screaming and panting and - ” He razed his hands through his rapidly graying hair. “Groaning and - shouting!”
“Well…” replied Arthur reasonably, “the way I understand it, childbirth… hurts.” He nodded his head slowly, as if this was the professional, medically accepted word on the subject. “Molly always used to say that it’s like having an umbrella shoved up your… eh…”, Remus blanched, “yes, there,” Arthur cleared his throat… “…and then having it opened, and then pulled out.” He shrugged apologetically as Remus gaped. “Molly was always so vivid in her descriptions. And Dora will be too. I’m sure you’ll hear all about it in no time at all, once your beautiful son or daughter is born, and your wife is back to her old self again.”
“If…” flustered Remus, “if everything is okay, then why are they keeping me OUT?”
“Well…” Again, Arthur was trying very hard not to laugh. “… when you pant and swoon at a laboring woman’s bedside, it tends to be… annoying... to the women... for some reason.” He shook his head sympathetically, as if he had no idea why this was true. Women were such a mystery! “Besides, Andromeda and Molly have done this before. You and I have not.”
“REMUS!” The door swung open and Molly waved him in. Remus was at Tonks’ side so quickly he could have Apparated there. The room was a disaster, Andromeda was on her knees on the bed, coaching and encouraging her daughter, and… oh shit, Molly was giving him instructions that he could make no sense of! Molly shook her head, clearly frustrated. “Nevermind! Just hold her hand, the baby’s almost here!” Molly pressed Dora’s hand into Remus’.
He smiled, in a besotted stupor, at his panting and pushing and cringing wife.
“Oh Dora, I love you so much. Does it hurt?” He asked breathlessly.
Dora SNARLED at him, and kept pushing as per her mother and Molly’s instructions. Remus decided, at that point, that maybe his wife just didn’t want to talk, and he gripped her hand, barely breathing as she labored hard with his child. A million thoughts raced through his head, each one making him dizzier and dizzier… How could I do this to her? What if something’s wrong? OH, ow, that scream… so much pain, so much hurt! Thank GOD I’m not a woman… and he felt himself going faint again, but he forced himself to take deep breaths and stay calm. He did not want to annoy the women, and wind up ejected again. Things were happening so fast, he couldn’t make sense of anything, but his eyes were only upon his wife as everything started to happen at once.
Arthur wandered into the room and mopped Dora’s brow with a wet cloth.
Andromeda squealed, “Just a little more, look at his hair! OH I’M GOING TO BE A GRANDMA!”
Molly cried out. “PUSH DORA PUSH! NOW! HARD HARD HARD! YES! GOOD GIRL! GOOD!”
Remus squeezed her hand. “You can do this. You can do this. I know you can do this.”
Dora gathered herself up and pushed as if her life depended on it.
The world held its breath…
A baby cried.
Andromeda laughed with joy.
Molly exclaimed. “YOU DID IT, DORA, REMUS! It’s a boy!”
Arthur slapped a hand on his back.
Dora fell back onto the bed with an exhausted victory shout.
Someone was telling him to cut the cord.
Misty grey eyes, so much like his own, looked up at him.
Someone told Remus to get water for his wife, but he stopped in the middle of the kitchen, forgetting why he was there.
He wandered back to the bedside, empty-handed and stunned.
Arthur smiled knowingly, and got the water for Tonks.
And soon, Remus was holding a glowing Dora, who was holding their beautiful, newborn son. And he realized, sobbing with joy, that at that moment, he held the entire world in his arms.
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