Chapter 77 : Harry
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Fairly shortly, Lily got to the point where navigating the stairs was a hassle, and she got mildly out of breath towards the top of them. The baby inside her belly settled into a wonderful utero-gymnastic routine just around the time she settled into her bed for sleep, and wasn’t nearly as energetic throughout the day. Becky seemed to quickly recover from a mild bout of illness, after the fight, but Charles took early paternity leave from the Ministry and began placing protective charms on their house much the way the Potters had. Upon Lily’s insistence, they also took the Invisibility cloak, to use whenever Charles did have to step out from their house to get food or other necessities. They disconnected from Floo and rendered their house unplottable; Lily was often confused as to where their house actually was, because of the magic.
"Merlin, is it hot outside," James sighed, sitting on the back porch.
Lily was fanning her shirt over her chest, a mild sweat there, "It is. I can’t wait for August, it’ll start cooling off…"
"August is two days away, the weather won’t change overnight."
She swatted a had at him, "Don’t depress me."
The baby kicked, and another shot of pain went up her back. It’d been hurting from the weight more than normal, the past day or so, and Lily could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, as she was due in a week and a half. It was near dusk, so the heat was begging to subside for the evening.
"Tea?" she asked, straightening to go to the kitchen.
"Please," James nodded, stretching.
Lily waddled inside, digging through the cabinets for glasses. She was strangely pleased to realize that her stomach seemed as though it had finally settled down into her actual pelvis, and rather than riding right up to her breasts, there was a bit of space before the great bulge began. Smiling at this and enjoying a few deep breaths, Lily reached over and compulsively straightened a crooked stack of papers, and quickly re-wiped the counter, as it had a few crumbs on it. She then poured out two glasses of tea, drinking some of her own and re-filling it. Setting the jug back in the fridge, Lily grabbed the two glasses, ignoring another sharp pain in her back as she straightened from the fridge. Sipping from her cup, again, Lily turned to walk back outside.
Suddenly there was an intense contraction which ripped over her abdomen, robbing her of breath. Lily cried out in pain, unable to help it, and was so surprised that the drink glasses slipped from her hands and shattered on the floor. She bent over her middle, slightly, clutching her stomach as it rippled with pain, and heard three pounding footsteps as James leapt into the house. He rounded the corner and eyed her warily.
"Oh… Merlin…" she hissed, attempting to catch her breath.
She shook her head, teeth grit and eyes shut in pain. "No, I think- OW!- he’s coming- owww!!"
James was suddenly at a complete loss for what to do, and stood in the back doorway, attempting to recall any information which could be useful. A sudden, random and spectacular quidditch play from back at Hogwarts ran through his mind, and he was momentarily loss in the awe of remembering the game in which it had been implemented- a win of three hundred fifty to seventy!- but a sudden, sharp cry from his wife brought him back to reality.
"What do I do?!" he sputtered, scared. He didn’t know how to deliver a baby!
"Help me," Lily nearly shouted.
"O-okay, um… let’s get you to- to-"
"Mungo’s," Lily growled through her teeth.
James nodded, thankful his wife was so intelligent, and began to ran around the house, shutting and locking doors and windows. He grabbed a bag that Lily had insisted on packing a few weeks earlier, which had a change of clothes for them both and various other things she’d thrown in. By the time James thundered back downstairs with the old bag slung over one shoulder, Lily had managed her way out into the front hall and was panting as she tried to pull on some shoes.
"Come on, get your shoes on!" James hurried her, holding the front door open.
"You get your shoes on!" she shouted back at him, face red.
"Right, get your shoes on!" he nodded, glad they were on the same page.
"No, YOU get YOUR shoes on!" Lily said, pointing at his feet.
Confused, James looked down and saw that he was still bare-footed. He blinked at his own toes, before throwing the coat closet open and searching for his trainers. He tied them in record time, successfully knotting them worse than he’d ever knotted trainer laces before, and then stood, lunging out the door to where Lily was leaning against the door frame, one hand on her stomach, breathing deeply. She cast him an annoyed glance as he shut and locked the door, before they grasped hands- she squeezing his hand rather tightly- and disapparated to Saint Mungo’s.
Four hours later as the twilight stars were twinkling outside, Lily lay in a hospital bed, hand covering her mouth in a vain attempt to stifle her whimpers of pain. As she had the weakened cervix which had originally doomed her to infertility, her contractions were now too weak to actually make any progress. The healers had cast strengthening charms on the muscles of her abdomen and cervix, which in turn intensified her pain at least tenfold. James sat in a chair next to her, looking strangely shell-shocked and awkward. It had been a considerable amount of time with not a lot of progress, and he hoped that things would begin to speed up. The door opened and their healer walked in.
"Ahh, Mrs. Potter, let’s go ahead and check you…"
She reached under the blanket draped over Lily’s knees and looked up at the ceiling, as if it were whispering to her the answer, and Lily flinched a little. The healer retracted her hand, charming it clean and shaking her head.
"Three centimeters, darling."
Lily groaned in frustration. The healer began to cast some pain-relief charms on her, and then went out to get a sleep potion for her. As she left, Sirius’ hand caught the door and he swung inside, looking curious.
"Jamsie! Just got your owl. Oh wow, Lily, lookin’ good!"
"Shut up," Lily murmured, brushing her sweaty hair from her face.
Sirius considered them both for a moment, then moved aside when the healer stepped back in. She tipped a small vial to Lily’s mouth, enough for her to sleep for at least six hours without waking up from the pain.
"Alright, I’ll continue to check on you every hour, and we’ll wake you up if you get fully dilated," she explained.
Lily nodded, eyelids already drooping. The last thing she saw before she nodded off was James attempting to smile, looking nervous, and Sirius giving her a very hyped thumbs-up sign. They watched her drop off to sleep, then James sighed, standing and rubbing his face.
"I completely blanked," he murmured.
"Wha’d’ya mean?" Sirius asked.
James pulled the door open, intending to go to the cafeteria and get something to eat, "I panicked and started rushing round like a bloody idiot."
Sirius chuckled, following him out and down the hospital hallway. They were in the maternity unit, which was rather awkward as there were a few other heavily pregnant witches around, getting checkups and whatnot. Sirius clapped James on the shoulder,
"Aw, it’s alright, we all know you tend to panic a bit when you don’t know what to do in a tense situation."
James cast him a rueful glance, stepping onto the stairs to go up to the cafeteria, "Thanks, Padfoot."
They ate a late-night meal in the canteen, chatting idly about some quidditch team. James could barely force down food, nervous as he was, and he nearly jumped to his feet each time the door opened, sure that it was their healer coming to tell him Lily had woken and he’d missed the entire birth of his son.
"Son…" James said, for the hundredth time, shaking his head. "I can’t believe it."
"Mate, she’s been getting fatter and fatter for the last few months, surely you didn’t think this was an elaborate prank she and I were pulling on you."
He couldn’t give an answer, though, so they continued to drink some pumpkin juice. Eventually, they wandered back to the maternity ward, where Lily was sleeping a bit uncomfortably but sleeping, all the same. Corette was there, brushing the damp red locks from her forehead and just off a shift at work. She gave James a hug, saying something congratulatory, but he was too tired to take notice. Sirius forced him into a spare cot and waved, shutting the door as he and his wife left. James lay there, watching Lily sleep in the dark room, occasionally shifting in her sleep whenever a contraction came. He smiled to himself, unable to believe he was here, and slowly nodded off to sleep.
When James was awoken, hours later, it was to the sound of harried voices and a loud cry of pain. He very nearly jumped to his feet, wand out and ready to battle, but stopped himself as he remembered that he was in Saint Mungo’s. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was a bit after six in the morning, so Lily had managed to get some considerable sleep out of the potion. The healer had just woken her up, and another medi-witch was coming in to help her. She glanced up at him.
"Ah, good timing, James, shouldn’t be too long, now."
He stood and went to Lily’s side, taking one of her hands and not saying anything about how painfully she was wringing his fingers. She was trying desperately to catch her breath, as if she had just run a few miles without stopping, and he could visibly see the distress on her face. He watched, bemused, as the Healers strapped up Lily’s feet in some contraption so that she looked like a turtle that had fallen on it’s back, arms and legs splayed upwards in a most undignified manner. Thankfully, a sheet lat draped over her knees so that the Healers only got to see what kind of horrors were happening below.
"Oh Merlin!" she whimpered, eyes squinted shut.
"It’s okay, that means he’s almost here-" James attempted.
Lily completely ignored him, only aware of completely riddled with pain she was. Having felt a cruciatus curse in the fight the night before she got pregnant, she knew that it was almost the exact same kind of pain, but this time aided with a few calming spells. A few more contractions passed, making her cry out in pain loud enough for their friends out in the waiting room to hear. Corette and Sirius exchanged an awkward glance with Remus, who had arrived a few hours before.
"Merlin, sounds like a torture chamber in there," Remus muttered.
"You know, if Voldemort wanted to truly inflict terror, he could get all our women pregnant," Sirius mused.
Corette cast him a dark, disgusted look. "Don’t eeven joke abut zat. Zat ees… ees…" She shook her head, making a gagging face. They all looked up again as there was another cry of pain from Lily’s room. "Poor, poor Leely."
"You know, that very well may be James, she could be breaking his hand," Sirius said reasonably.
"Does James screem like a gurl?" Corette said skeptically.
Remus and Sirius glanced at each other, before the former said, "Well, there was that one time when he first saw me as a werewolf…"
Suddenly there was a great amount of shouting and yelling from Lily’s room, some of which vaguely sounded like a fan base cheering on their quidditch team, and the rest of which sounded like a wounded banshee. All three friends stared at the closed door, Sirius extremely tempted to start hooting and cheering as well. Corette cast him a glance, seeing the amused look on his face, and shook her head at him before he could even get started in rooting on his friend. He considered his wife’s disapproval for a moment before deciding to ignore it. He jumped to his feet and cupped a hand to his mouth.
"GOOOO LIILLYYYY!!!!" he yelled, causing the passing medi-witch to crack up in laughter. "YOU CAN DOOOO IIIITTTT!!!"
Remus, laughing, stood up and joined in, giving some quidditch-style hooting and both of them cheering madly as if "Lily" were the name of their favorite quidditch team and said team were playing for the world cup. Corette, face buried in her hands, was shaking her head, torn between embarrassment and amusement. They heard a few smattered laughs from the delivery room, along with a tired, anguished one they knew to be Lily’s. Eventually, Corette decided to join them, as she was outnumbered by them anyway.
"Coom on! Ze babee weel not coom out on ’is own!" she yelled at the door.
Sirius wrapped an arm around her, glad he had found a keeper, as he shouted, "THAT BABY BETTER COME OUT ON A BROOM, JAMES!!"
Remus started a chant which the other two picked up- "SQUEEZE HIM OUT! SQUEEZE HIM OUT!!"
The entire maternity ward seemed to be filled with noise, from their shouting and the healer’s shouting and Lily’s shouting. The ruckus could be heard from two floors up and other people were amusedly sticking their heads out other doors to see what was going on. They continued to chant and cheer, Sirius stomping his feet on the floor and waving his arms like he was in a stadium, until the voices reached a new height in the delivery room, causing the three cheering fans to become silent in anticipation, and then the entire floor of the hospital became quiet. For a few moments, there wasn’t a sound to be heard, before there was a faint, soft baby-cry.
"YEAAAAHHHHH!!!!" Sirius began jumping up and down as if they’d just won the world cup.
Remus and Corette joined in, sheering and hugging and high-fiving and jumping on the furniture. The healers came out of the room, laughing and taking off their smocks and watching them all in amusement. Sirius bounded over and kissed the head healer on the cheek, doing a very good moonwalk across the floor and acting the complete rock star he had been at Hogwarts. Soon enough they quieted down, waiting for James to appear, and Sirius could barely contain himself as the door swung open.
James stood there, fingers visibly red still and looking bemused but thrilled. His face was lit up in a way that it never had been, before, not even when he and Lily had gotten married. He gestured to them all to come in, and they flooded inside, to see Lily, exhausted and covered with a new blanket, laying in her hospital bed. She, too, looked happier than they had ever seen her, despite the fact that she was visibly exhausted. She held in the crook of her arm a little blue bundle, from which faint baby whimpers would emit. Everyone gathered around her, James kissing her forehead, and looked down at the little baby.
He was small, as he was a little early, and his skin was still a little red. His hand, as it moved around, was tiny enough to cover maybe half of Sirius’ pinky. He had a few wisps of dark hair, and looked exactly the way James had as a baby. His eyes, which blinked a few times, looking up at them all, were the same green as Lily’s, and Sirius felt his heart melt in an odd was as he saw his friend’s baby.
"Oh, wow," Corette breathed. "’e ees… so... Wow!"
The five friends stood there for a bit, in awe of the little boy, before Lily spoke.
"We named him Harry James," she murmured, stroking his little cheek. "After James’ father."
"Harry," Sirius mused. "Harry James Potter… It’s not quite Sirius the Second, but… it’ll do."
The next morning, Lily woke in a recovery ward, James still asleep on a cot near her, and Harry asleep in a crib next to her bed. A lone witch was sitting next to Harry’s crib, and if she had not recognized the blonde hair, Lily would have had a great moment of panic.
"Alice!" she gasped, sitting up. "You’re- you’re here!"
She hadn’t known if she had meant to say "you’re alive," but was glad that it came out in a much more pleasant way. Alice nodded, looking a bit tired still, and then Lily noticed that she had a baby draped over her shoulder and was patting his back gently. Lily could only assume that she had just fed him and was now burping him.
"I heard you were here," Alice murmured, smiling. "When I woke up. I wanted to come see."
Lily nodded, looking down at Harry. He was dressed in a diaper and little blue socks, one of which he had kicked off in his sleep. His legs were curled up to his chest, which rose and fell rapidly with his heartbeat. Alice gently leaned her own child forward and stood, setting him in the crib next to Harry. Lily could now see that Alice’s baby was dressed almost the same as Harry, but that instead of black hair, there was wispy blonde hair. Both babies had chubby cheeks, and they leaned together in their sleep as if they were meant to be side-by-side.
"He was born on the thirtieth. We named him Neville," Alice whispered.
Lily nodded, looking down at the two boys, born as the seventh month dies. "Yesterday, the thirty first… we named him Harry."
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