Chapter 3 : Chapter Three - Birthing Babies
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Harry came down the hallway at a run, skidding to a halt in front of the master bedroom entry. He reached for the door and pressed against it. It opened easily, and Harry stepped around it hesitantly, surveying the room.
The three Mid-wives were conversing worriedly across the room with the elder Healer. Molly was at Ginny’s side, mopping her forehead with a damp cloth, and Hermione was standing only a few paces inside the room, holding James, who seemed to be weeping into her shoulder.
Harry stepped up behind Hermione and collected his son from her arms as she turned. James nuzzled into his father’s shoulder, and continued to cry lightly and quietly. “Tell me what’s going on Hermione,” Harry asked, his voice filled with strength and compassion.
Hermione fell against him in a hug, tears streaking her face, but she quickly pulled away and answered him. “There is something wrong with the babies… something wrong inside... Their umbilical cords are tangled.” Hermione’s voice cracked, and she wept more profusely. “The Healers have tried several time to reposition the babies, but they don’t seem to be able to do it right. They are afraid that to deliver the first baby will kill the second.” Hermione continued to weep.
Harry stepped forward in a daze as the news processed in his head. He stepped up and looked down at Ginny. She was covered in sweat, her hair matted down against her head. Her eyes were sunken with exhaustion and she looked very pale and weak. She was either sleeping or unconscious. Mrs. Weasley seemed to be in a daze as well, she kept dabbing at her daughter’s brow with a cloth, as though to stop would be somehow giving up.
As Molly became aware of Harry’s presence, she reached over and took him by the wrist. “She’s been refusing to deliver the first, if doing so might harm the second,” Molly said resignedly. “She has completely exhausted herself, Harry. They fear she has weakened herself so much that she may even be in danger at this point.”
Harry nodded, indicating understanding, but he was not at all sure he really did. Witches have been giving birth for thousands of years. How is it that this one has to be so difficult?
As if in answer to the unspoken question, the elderly Healer, the one he had not met, stepped toward him. “Asa Hollis, Mr. Potter,” he said quietly, offering his hand. Harry shook his hand, rather automatically.
Asa was a tall, narrow man, with silver gray hair and a bushy beard. His eyes were a very gentle, but intense blue. “I am very sorry about all this. I am a specialist in internal organ manipulation,” he smiled. “The Mid-wives called for me to consult on your wife’s case. It appears that during the pregnancy, the babies’ umbilical cords have become twisted together.”
“Hermione told me,” Harry commented airily.
Unruffled, Asa continued, “I have attempted to move the babies in the womb, but this is a very delicate and dangerous bit of magic, the slightest miscalculation could hurt the children, or the mother. I am afraid I have done all I can do Mr. Potter. I am extremely sorry.”
“So, what does this mean? What are you telling me?” Harry said, already knowing the answer, but needing to have it spoken so that his mind could really understand it.
“Unfortunately,” Asa replied resignedly, “It is most likely that the birth of the first child, will in effect, suffocate the second, causing either severe damage or death.”
Hermione stepped to Harry’s side. “Harry, what about a Muggle hospital? They could perform a cesarean birth,” she said.
Harry looked at Hermione, not comprehending. It had not occurred to him that there could be a Muggle solution to this problem, but before he could consider it further, Agatha Chumcum interrupted rudely.
“A Muggle Hospital?” Agatha gasped, obviously highly offended by the notion. “It is bad enough that we already have the Father and Son in the room! Highly irregular and I must say, scandalous!” her voice cackled and squeaked with anger, suppressed to an enraged whisper. She pointed a finger at Hermione. “How could any self respecting Witch even suggest something as barbaric as a Muggle Hospital?”
Harry felt an old rage bubbling in his chest, and he could see fire forming in Hermione’s eyes. But before either could respond, Asa had laid his hand on Agatha’s shoulder and swung her around to face him.
“Agatha,” he scolded in an obviously angry, but somehow gentle tone, “You will hold your tongue!” Asa’s manner reminded Harry momentarily of Albus Dumbledore, and he immediately felt a welling of appreciation for the man. “Haven’t you any idea just whom you are addressing? I realize that you are the chief Mid-wife at St. Mungos, and have been birthing babies for something in the order of one hundred years, but whether you like it or not, times change. If you cannot keep your traditional ideas and prejudices to yourself and respect the home and persons you have been given the honor of attending, then I will have to ask you to leave.” Asa’s gentle eyes were icy cold, and Agatha, defeated, shrunk away with a bowed apology.
“I am so sorry Mr. Potter,” Asa said, the warmth returning to his eyes. “Some of our Mid-wives cling to an age-old traditionalism that, even in the Wizarding world, has passed out of fashion.” He turned to face Hermione. “Mrs. Weasley, I am aware of the Muggle procedure you suggest, but I am afraid that Mrs. Potter’s condition may already be too weakened to get her to a Muggle hospital, even if there is one nearby.”
Harry reflexively hugged James a little tighter. James had stopped crying and was clinging to his fathers shoulder, as though some one might try to snatch him away at any moment.
“There must be something that can be done,” Hermione stated matter-of-factly.
“Well, Mrs. Potter is going to have to deliver,” Asa said resignedly, “I have suppressed her labor and caused her to sleep with a charm, but in advanced labor, this cannot last for very long,” he turned back to Harry. “Perhaps, Mr. Potter, you should speak with your wife.”
“Yes… thank you,” Harry replied. Hermione reached out to take James from Harry, but James clung tightly to his father’s neck. “It’s okay Hermione; James can stay with me… Why don’t you see what you can do with Mum?” Harry’s eyes flashed to his Mother-in-law at Ginny’s bedside as he hugged his son tightly.
They stepped over to Ginny; Hermione put her arms around her Mother-in-law, and with comforting words, lead her away as Harry stepped to the opposite side of the delivery bed. Asa swished his wand over Ginny, and then quickly stepped away to consult with the three Mid-wives gathered across the room.
Ginny stirred. Slowly, she opened her eyes. At the sight of her son and husband, a small smile curled the edges of her mouth. “Hi,” she said very weakly.
Harry took Ginny’s hand, raising it his lips and kissing it. “Not having a great time are we?” he said feigning a light hearted tone. Before Ginny could respond in any way, Harry continued, “Ginny, the Healers have explained everything to me.” He could feel hot, heavy droplets emerging from the corners of his eyes. His voice wavered. “My darling, you must stop fighting and deliver the babies… I cannot loose you.” Harry lowered his head.
Harry had rested James, sitting, on the delivery table. James had turned and gently laid one hand on his Mother’s belly. “Babies are okay,” he said matter-of-factly. “Everything will be okay. Daddy will help.”
Harry and Ginny both looked up at their smiling four year old, their eyes widening.
“I am not a Healer, honey,” Harry said gently to his son. “What can I do?” Harry was, of course, not expecting an answer from his son, but James pulled at Harry’s arm that was still around his waist, and gently taking his father’s hand, he opened the fingers and laid it palm down on his Mother’s belly. Harry felt the soft linen sheet covering his wife’s taut flesh, and suddenly, he felt a movement within. James placed his hand over his Fathers, and Harry felt a warm sensation slowly creeping up his arm. The sensation reached his shoulder and seemed to pour into him like a liquid, splashing down to his toes, churning and bubbling and slowly filling him up.
As the warmth reached the top of Harry’s head, he began to feel more odd sensations. Relaxing and concentrating, he felt rhythmic pulses flowing into him. With greater concentration, he realized that these were heartbeats, and he quickly became aware of five distinct rhythms. He identified each, easily finding Ginny’s tired and hurried, James’ fast and steady, his own fierce and powerful, and the babies’, fast and frantic. He focused on these last, and he found images of small, tightly confined bodies, pressed hard together, forming in his mind. He could see them clearly…his daughters.
Ginny’s voice came to him through his concentration, unheard, but realized as clearly as if she were whispering in his ear. “Harry, can you feel them, love?”
“Yes, love,” he responded easily, “They are so beautiful.”
Harry followed the pulsing of his daughters’ hearts, searching for the problem described by Hermione and Asa. He located it easily, two umbilical cords coiled about each other several times. “I have found the problem Ginny,” he willed to her, “are you ready?”
“Yes,” came the response.
Harry opened his eyes and saw that Hermione and Molly had both stepped nearer, and they were looking at them with curiosity. “I believe we are ready,” he said simply.
Mrs. Weasley quickly stepped to the table and took Ginny’s free hand in hers as Ginny’s eyes opened, and her face grimaced with the onset of a new labor pain.
Hermione waved for a Mid-wife, and Agatha stepped forward quickly. Harry stopped her in mid-step. “No, thank you,” his voice was loud and clear. “I believe Megan will do nicely.”
Agatha looked thoroughly scandalized, but said nothing. Megan, blushed fiercely, and quickly took position at the end of the delivery table.
“Megan Jones?” Hermione asked, recognition dawning upon her. Megan nodded.
The labor pain flashed through Harry like a living, constricting thing. He let it flow through him, bearing it, willing the pain to himself, drawing it away from Ginny. He could feel Ginny squeeze his hand, and he took it as a thank you. He remained focused on the point at which the babies’ umbilical cords were coiled, willing them to adapt to the pulling pressures as he felt his first daughter quickly move into the birth canal.
Molly supported Ginny as she grimaced again and pushed hard, a deep moan growling through her lips.
Megan, at the end of the table, was encouraging Ginny. “That’s it Ginny, the head is here, one more push.”
Harry and James seemed to be in trances at Ginny’s side. Harry, in total concentration, was willing the two cords to remain open, forcing blood to pass evenly through both. Another pain washed over him, and he welcomed it.
“That’s it,” Megan cried as the small newborn slipped into her waiting hands.
Patricia was standing ready at Megan’s side, and she quickly flicked her wand against the short length of umbilical cord, about two inches from the baby’s belly. A small spark alighted from Patricia’s wand tip and the umbilical cord shriveled and separated cleanly. Megan flicked her wand, clearing the baby’s airway, and the powerful cry that followed seemed to reassure the entire room.
Harry felt the pressure on the umbilical cords release, followed almost instantly by the most precious sound of his daughter’s confused and irritated wails. “One more, love,” he thought to Ginny. He mentally nudged his other daughter toward the birth canal, feeling her heartbeat quicken with the unrestricted flow through her umbilical cord. After several more minutes and a dozen or so more labor pains, the second baby was delivered, her cry filling the room as loudly as the first.
Harry snapped back, the magical connection to his wife and son gone. He felt Ginny’s hand still clinging weakly to his own. He felt his son collapse against his shoulder, and he caught James up in his arms.
Asa was there at Harry’s side. He waved his wand over James, seeming to consider for a moment. “He has simply fallen asleep,” Asa said gently, “tuckered himself out completely. This is one amazing little Wizard you have here.” Asa’s smile and manner again reminded Harry of Dumbledore, and he smiled his thanks at the kindly man, who had a hand on his shoulder. Asa nodded.
Harry noticed that the room had suddenly become active and busy around him. Hermione and Agatha were attending the newborns, cleaning them up and wrapping them in swaddling blankets, carefully charmed to the exact comfortable warmth. Patricia was attending Ginny with a drink, some sort of potion, carefully mixed from the prepared kettles which were still fuming on the cart. Whatever it was, it seemed to do Ginny an immense amount of good, flushing her pale demeanor with a healthy pink.
Harry turned to Ginny and lowered James so she could kiss him on the cheek. “You have an amazing son here Mrs. Potter,” he said quietly through a broad smile.
“You too, Mr. Potter,” Ginny beamed back at him.
Harry stood up and stepped around the table, toward Mrs. Weasley. “Mum,” he said to a smiling Molly. “How would you like to put your grandson to bed?” Mrs. Weasley accepted the sleeping child into her loving arms. “I would say this amazing little man just saved the lives of both his Mother and Sisters, so he deserves a good nap.” Harry brushed back the familiar mop of black hair, smiling proudly at his son.
Molly, smiling and nodding, turned and headed for the door. As the door swung open, Harry noticed a concerned looking Winky standing in the hall. He marveled at her unwavering devotion to his son, as she trotted after Mrs. Weasley.
Harry turned back to Ginny. He leaned down to kiss her gently. “You are amazing, too, my love,” he whispered.
Ginny looked into his eyes and pulled him into another kiss. She didn’t have to speak a word.
“Okay, you,” Hermione said pulling Harry back with a hand on his shoulder. “How about the two of you meet your daughters?” She delivered a sleeping bundle into Ginny’s arms.
Agatha was there handing Harry an identical bundle. Harry looked down into the swaddle in his arms and beheld the round cheeks of his pink daughter. She was sleeping contentedly in the warm blanket, her little head crowned with a wisp of fiery red hair. He brought the baby down to Ginny’s other side and let her hold them both together, two identical, beautiful sleeping babes.
Ginny and Harry beamed at one another and the babies for a couple of minutes, until Patricia stepped forward to take them back to the prepared cribs. “Time for you to let your wife rest Mr. Potter,” she said, as she lifted the babies away.
Ginny smiled at Harry. “Time for me to get cleaned up,” she said with a wink. “Why don’t you go announce the birth of your daughters to the rest of the family? Someone will come get you when you can come back.”
“Okay,” he smiled, squeezing Ginny’s hand in his, smiling gleefully.
Ginny turned to Hermione, who was standing nearby. “Hey, sis, why don’t you take my husband here back to the Library?” Hermione, with a smile and a nod, stepped forward and pulled at Harry’s arm, tugging him toward the door. “And see if you can’t wipe that stupid grin off his face before the brothers see it, otherwise they’ll never lay off him,” Ginny called after Hermione as she pushed Harry through the bedroom door.
As Harry and Hermione entered the Library, the room fell silent. The men, still gathered in the wingback chairs, all stood and looked at them in anticipation.
Hermione patted Harry’s arm, “I think I’ll leave you to this lot yourself, and go check on the ladies and the children.” She quickly crossed the room and was out the far door toward the nursery.
Harry sauntered over to his Brothers and Father-in-law and slid in place in front of the wingback chair he had occupied earlier. He reached down and lifted the decanter tipping a hearty quantity into his waiting glass. He pulled his wand from his pocket, and with a quick swish, refilled all the other glasses.
Harry lifted his glass, and smiling broadly, announced, “Would you please join me in a drink, to my lovely wife, your sister and daughter, respectively,” Harry nodded to Mr. Weasley, who grinned back at him, “And to two, perfect, red headed baby girls.” Harry tipped his head back draining his glass. They each drained their glasses as well and the small gathering became a whirl of handshaking and back slapping.
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Happy Birthday Babies Potter
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