Chapter 18 : Sophia
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But just as the Floo delivers the Potters back to the house, my body decides it’s time for a particularly painful contraction, and James charges into the room while I’m doubled over and gasping for air.
“Cassia!” He rushes to my side, raising his arms as if to hug me before thinking better of it and instead hovering awkwardly beside me. “Mum, we have to get her to Mungo’s, now!”
Our mums exchange glances. “I think it’s time,” Mum says. “Even if it’s just to keep the kids from worrying.”
The kids? The kids? We’re about to become parents ourselves, we’re not kids!
“Whatever the hell you’re doing, hurry up!” I yell.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Ginny decides. “Cassia, we’re going to take you to Mungo’s now—”
“I’m right here, I heard the whole bloody conversation!”
“Right. Athena, if you take Cassia and James and I will be right behind—”
“Nuh-uh,” I say firmly, grabbing James’ wrist. “He comes with me. This is your kid too, Potter, and I’ll be damned if I’m suffering alone.”
I march determinedly into the Floo, holding my belly with one hand and my boyfriend with the other, ready to get this thing over with.
I don’t know what I expected at Mungo’s – maybe that I’d get there and there’d be something special in the air that would mean I’d be ready to give birth in five minutes, but I’ve been here for hours and I hate my life and everything in it. I’ve never been in so much pain before in my life – it feels like Sophia is systematically shredding my insides, and Anna, my Healer, informs me that there’s still a long way to go. I’m pretty sure I’ve broken up with James seventeen times since we’ve been here – it gives me something to count other than minutes between contractions – and yelled variations on the theme of ‘get your fucking arse back in here right now, James Potter, you will not walk away that easily’ eighteen times, so I take it that means we’re together for the moment.
I kicked Ginny out of the room about two hours in, but she didn’t seem too offended and it gives James someone to talk to when I kick him out, so everything’s just hunky dory. My mum, on the other hand, has been in this room the entire time I have, not even leaving to fix her fingers after I accidently broke them holding her hand during a really bad contraction. She healed them herself, conjured me a stress ball instead, and politely told Anna that she didn’t really give a fuck about the ‘no magic in the maternity ward’ rule and if anyone had a problem with it they could take it up with her in a duel.
I love my mum. But I hate everything else.
My eyes catch hold of James hovering anxiously in the doorway. “You!” I bellow. “You arsehole. You fucking prick. I would not be here if it wasn’t for you, fucking horny bastard—”
“I’ll wait outside,” he says, and flees.
“Who the fuck put you in Gryffindor?” I yell after him. “Cowardly little shit!”
“It’s nearly time,” Anna informs me.
“Time?” I repeat hopefully. “You mean I get this damn thing out of me now?”
Anna frowns. She doesn’t bat an eyelid at the abuse I shout at James, but apparently it’s unacceptable to refer to the source of your pain and suffering as a ‘damn thing.’ I don’t care. I’m beyond caring. What is killing me right now is a Damn Thing that is all James Fucking Potter’s Fault and maybe once it’s out of me I’ll think of it as a baby but if I think of it as Sophia now she will have the most miserable upbringing in existence, so help me God.
“Yes,” Anna confirms. “Nearly time to push.”
I remember James outside, trying to decide whether the smidgen of love I still have for the bastard is enough to let him in again, amidst my overwhelming manic hatred.
“James fucking Potter!” I yell, making my decision. “Get your arse—ow!”
“In here now!” Mum yells, finishing my sentence for me.
James comes in rather cautiously, and I almost feel sorry for him.
That sympathy is gone by the next contraction.
Mum pulls James aside. “Potter, she’s going to start pushing soon. And no matter what abuse she screams at you, you are not leaving her until that child is safely in her arms, you understand?”
“I want to stay,” he says firmly.
“How very noble of you,” I mutter, glaring at him. “Staying doesn’t involve any pain, does it? Hold my hand, James, I want to break your fingers.”
James stares at me, then glances over to Mum.
“She’s done it to me already,” Mum says with a shrug. “She’s not actually going to make a conscious effort.”
Anna informs me it’s time to push, and James reaches for my hand. I can’t tell if it’s an instinctive move or a conscious decision to let me break his fingers, but for once I’m actually glad he’s here as I start pushing.
I’m dead. I’m dead and either heaven doesn’t exist or it’s a really shitty reproduction of the maternity ward at St Mungo’s.
“It’s a girl!” I hear a faraway voice that sounds like Anna’s announcing.
Something rouses me. “We know, you told us that weeks ago.”
There’s no response, only a bundle of something being placed in my arms, and I look down and oh Merlin it’s her.
She looks slightly less alienlike than in her scans, but she’s red and wrinkled and has an unbelievably massive head, but apparently my eyes and brain aren’t connected very well because something else is telling me she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I stare at her for as long as I can, and there are voices babbling in the background and people probably talking to me, but they seem so far away and it’s like she’s the only other person in the world. She has black hair – not much of it, but it’s black – and blue eyes, but I was told that most babies have blue eyes at birth so that doesn’t really tell much.
“Cassia?” Anna’s voice cuts through my reverie. “Would you like to feed her?”
Her words bring me back to reality with a bump. “I…don’t know how.”
“You’ll need to undo your top first,” she says patiently.
I fumble with the buttons, trying to undo them while holding Sophia at the same time – I’m so terrified I’ll drop her, or hurt her in some way - when James speaks.
“Here, I’ll take her for a sec.”
I’d almost forgotten about him, and hesitate, not wanting let go of her when she’s only just arrived. But James is her dad, and with some reluctance I pass her over.
I feel weirdly exposed, sitting there with my top undone, until I remember that all the people in this room just watched me give birth. I take the baby back off James, holding her up to my chest, and look at Anna. “So what now?”
“She should latch on. It’s instinctive…just hold her up a wee bit higher, remember to watch her head…”
It should be instinctive for me too, shouldn’t it? But I can’t hold her right – it feels clumsy and awkward, and she’s not latching on…
“It takes a bit of practice,” Mum says. “You’ll get the hang of it soon.”
“What if I don’t? It’s not working…Mum, she’s crying…”
“Just relax, you’re doing fine.”
My arms are hurting from holding her – surely there’s a better way of doing this? Everything hurts, I’ve never been more tired in my life, and she’s crying and I can’t fix it because I’m doing something wrong and I don’t know what it is—
“You’ve got it!” Mum says, and I look down and she’s right, Sophia’s feeding.
I feel like a real mother now. Not just some pregnant kid, but a real mum and I can feed my baby and maybe I won’t be a complete failure as a parent. I gaze down at her, marvelling at her. She’s a part of me. I made her, I carried her, I gave birth to her, and now I’m everything she has in the world and I don’t know if that fills me more with excitement or wonder or terror. She’s mine. Sophia Grace Potter – my daughter, my baby. And I’m her mother.
It’s the most amazing thing in the world.
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