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Almost Happily Ever After by Jet LaBarge
Chapter 35 : The Birth of Kreacher’s son Fletcher
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1

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The last Saturday in October Harry and Ginny came home from Ginny’s Quidditch game. They went up to their bedroom to make up for not being together much during the week, and then came down to the Living Room/Library, which was just a much cozier room when it was just the two of them. They were nicely settled when Dobedo knocked. “Come in” said Harry.

“Azalea has had her baby” Dobedo announced.

“That’s great news!” Harry enthusiastically replied.

Ginny had been studying Dobedo’s facial expressions and body language, and thought that something might be wrong, so she asked “Is everything all right, Dobe? You look worried.”

“Baby small” Dobedo said. “Azalea carried seven months, as long as house elves supposed to be carrying baby. Baby supposed to be two and a half pounds. Fletcher only just under two pounds. Also sickly.”

“Can we get help?” asked Harry, always trying to solve a problem.

“Dobedo does not know” Dobedo answered. “Maybe Kreacher knows. Maybe Mrs. Hermione Weasley knows.”

“May we see?” asked Ginny.

“Masters can see. Masters can tell parents to throw baby away” Dobedo sullenly remarked.

“NO!” exclaimed Harry. “We will get help! What can we do?”

“Come see” Dobedo said, and he led Harry and Ginny upstairs. They found Azalea asleep in the bed she shared with Kreacher, and next to her the smallest baby either Harry or Ginny had ever seen. Kreacher was sitting on the edge of the bed looking at his mate and baby.

“How is baby Fletcher” Ginny gently questioned Kreacher.

“Born early this morning” Kreacher replied sadly. “Small, weak. Needs to eat strongly to get big fast, eats a little at a time, not much.” Kreacher turned to Harry and Ginny with defeat and resignation in his eyes. “What does master want Kreacher to do? Not good to let house elves waste time on a weak baby.”

“NO!” shouted Ginny. “You can’t let little Fletcher just die!”

“What will it take to keep little Fletcher alive, to give him a chance at life?” asked Harry.

“Other house elves taking care of Azalea so she can do nothing but take care of Fletcher” Kreacher replied. “A house elf healer, if there is one who knows something about babies.”

“We’ll do it” Harry sadly said. “Whatever it takes.”

A little alarm rang and a groggy Azalea woke up. Kreacher motioned Harry to leave with him, leaving Azalea and Ginny in their room. Ginny saw Azalea wake up Fletcher and put him on her breast to nurse. The tiny baby tentatively nursed a little, but seemed to have a hard time latching on, and he did not seem to be able to take very much milk at a time.

Ginny thought back to how vigorously Teddy had nursed. The first few times Ginny could not believe that a two week old baby could produce that much suction. It was a strange and in the beginning a little painful, until you got used to it. Actually once you got used to it the sensation was quite pleasant, and it was always reassuring when Teddy latched on firmly.

Azalea spent twenty minutes trying to keep Fletcher awake, getting some milk into him. Eventually the baby fell fast asleep again, and Ginny took him and held him and tried to see if she could get a burp out of him. She did get a little burp, and the tiniest bit of milk came back up, before she put Fletcher back down in a tiny crib next to Kreacher and Azalea’s bed.

Once they got downstairs Ginny called Hermione. “Hello Hermione” Ginny said on the cell phone, still amazed that she was using this mostly Muggle contraption. “Do you have a little time to talk?”

“What is on your mind?” asked Hermione.

Ginny said “Azalea, Kreacher’s mate, has had her baby. He is small and not nursing well, and the house elves are worried about him. Is there a house elf healer we could get?”

“We need healers for house elves in Britain” Hermione replied. “There are a few on the continent, but the best are in North America. I’ll do some research and give Harry a call.”

“That would be fantastic, Hermione” Ginny said. She hung up the phone and said to Harry “Hermione is going to try and find the best house elf doctors in the world, and then let you know where they are.”

“Great” Harry replied. Harry really wanted to see what they could do for Fletcher.

The next morning Hermione saw Harry and Ginny at the family breakfast at the New Burrow. “I think I have found out where Kreacher and Azalea need to take the baby” Hermione said. “Mayo’s Magical Medical Clinic in an out of the way place in North America.” Hermione brought out a map and pointed out where Rochester, Minnesota was.

Harry was incredulous. “What is a magical hospital doing there?” he asked.

“One of the best Muggle hospitals in the world is there” Hermione said. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer and nothing is close. For house elves and certain magical illnesses and injuries nothing in the world comes close.”

“What do we have to do?” asked Harry.

“I’ve already contacted Mayo Magical, and as soon as Azalea and Fletcher show up they will see them. I said you would pay for it. I’ve also contacted St. Mungo’s. They have a medical transport ready for us, something that four wizards can take through the floo network to Rochester. The last, well it’s a closet not a floo in North America, but the last closed comes out right at the main reception of Mayo Magical.”

“Who all has to go?” asked Harry.

“You really ought to go” Hermione said to Harry. “You don’t have to stay, but no one at St. Mungo’s can believe you are making such a fuss over a sick baby house elf.”

“What happens to baby house elves when they get sick?” asked Harry, worried that he knew what the answer was going to be.

“They die, or sometimes the masters kill them” Hermione said, defiance in her voice. “IT’S WRONG, of course. That’s why this is so important!”

Monday morning first thing Harry went to Kingsley’s office. As usual he was waved in.

“I need to take my house elves and their baby to Mayo Magical Medical in North America” Harry said. “The baby is sick. Hermione says I do not need to stay long, just long enough to let Mayo Magical know that I am serious about wanting the baby healed, no matter the cost.”

“Another big change in the treatment of house elves” Kingsley said. “I approve. You are doing more for the magical community in Great Britain and the Continent by doing these type of things than by all the talking in the world.”

“Thank you, Kingsley” Harry said.

Harry then approached Gawain Robards office. Again he was waved in.

“I need to take my house elves and their baby to Mayo Magical Medical in North America” Harry said. “The baby is sick. Hermione says I do not need to stay long, just long enough to let Mayo Magical know that I am serious about wanting the baby healed, no matter the cost.”

“You’re doing this for a HOUSE ELF BABY?” Gawain asked incredulously. “I’ve never heard of anyone being that worried about a house elf baby.”

“You want me to have them just throw the baby away in the trash?” Harry said fiercely.

“Well, no” Gawain said. “That’s a little extreme. It’s just real strange treating house elves as PEOPLE, instead of treating them like house elves.”

“They are not just THINGS” Harry forcefully said. “They are beings with feelings too, even if they have been ordered not to express them.”

“I guess you’re right, Harry” Gawain replied. “Lots of things are changing. I’m just having a hard time adjusting to all the changes.”

Gawain motioned for Harry to sit down. “I’ve been an Auror for a lot of years” Gawain Robards said. “In all that time I was told not to worry about house elves and goblins. House elves were the property of the owners, and it did not matter what the owners did we had no business getting involved.

“We knew, of course, that some witches and wizards were cruel or worse to their house elves, but we just did not have to do anything about it. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just a little worried that we are going to have to enforce laws on house elf rights, and have house elves testify at trials, and witches and wizards will be on opposite sides and we will have a big mess on our hands.

You are probably doing the right thing, but it’s going to cause a lot of problems.”

Tuesday afternoon Harry found himself on the 3 ½ floor of one of the medical office buildings of the Mayo Clinic, at Mayo Magical Medical, Elf Division. They were greeted by an Elf, and Harry could see by the sign that her name was Delores Joseson EA.

“Fletcher, Kreacher and Azalea can go right in” she said waving the house elf family in. “I have some paperwork for you to fill in, Harry.”

Harry filled in the paperwork saying that he was financially responsible for the entire family. When asked for status, free, owned, affiliated, or other, Harry asked “How many categories of house elves are there. At Hogwarts I thought there were only owned and free, and house elves really did not want to be free.”

“Oh it’s much more complicated than that” Delores said. “Look at the house elves on staff here. Some are totally free, most of them with the last name FreeElf although some have taken surnames like we have.

Others, like my husband and myself, are formally affiliated with a group. Like being members of a co-op or credit union, we belong to each other and to the practice. In this case the practice is owned partly by a group of witches and wizards and partly by us Elves. In practice we are pretty free but legally we are not actually free. We have given ourselves surnames too, sort of a step on our way to freedom.”

“That’s why you are Jo-se-son?” Harry asked, sounding out the name.

“Ho-say-son” Delores, said, “Spanish.”

“Oh” Harry said, “Like Hay-suis instead of Jesus. Delores Joseson like Katrina Rios.”

“Jose Babuska, all kinds of strange ethnic combinations here” giggled Delores.

About an hour later a kindly looking witch came out. “May I speak to you alone, Mr. Potter?” she said, and she let him to a small conference room.

“We want to spend a couple of days doing tests” the witch said. “I can tell you right now that it looks like your house elves have a very weak baby that will not live very long. With lots of good care he may live a year or two, or he could die at any time.”

“Sick little human babies are taken care of” Harry said, “And I do not see why sick little elf babies should not be taken care of as well.”

“As long as that is the reason you are doing it we will do everything in our power to make sure Fletcher has a comfortable and happy life, and lives as long as he can as comfortably and as happily as he can” the witch said.

“Throwing sickly elf babies away is wrong!” Harry said.

“I agree with you” the witch said, “But everyone does not. There really is no reason for you to stay here. We will send your elf family home as soon as we can.”

“Thank you” Harry said.

“Thank you for caring enough to bring them here” the witch responded.

The first Saturday in November Harry and Ginny were down in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. The weather was bad, and Ginny had played through some of the worst weather she could remember. They had gone to their bedroom as soon as they arrived at home, to make up for not seeing each other and ‘get warm’ in bed with each other.

“I still haven’t warmed up from the game” Ginny said. “And after the workout we had upstairs that is saying a lot!”

“I can’t say I’m all that eager to go out myself” Harry said. “I feel like I’ve been halfway around the world this week, and staying in suits me just fine.”

“Mabel” called Ginny. “The house elf appeared with a crack. “Could you fix us a dinner, some of your famous soup, the kind that is different each time because you use whatever we have in the house, please.”

“Soup takes time, an hour to blend and be good” Mabel said.

“That’s fine” Ginny replied, and Harry agreed “An hour would be fine. Even more if it takes you a little longer.”

Harry and Ginny went up to the Living Room/Library. A little over an hour later Mabel walked into the room. Mabel looked like she wanted to say something. “You can talk to us, Mabel” Harry gently said. “You may work for me, but you are not a slave, and I want to know what you are thinking.”

“Fletcher” Mable said, with tears starting to form. “Why you care for Fletcher?”

Harry answered “We care for Kreacher, and Azalea, and Dobedo, and you. You are not possessions, you are beings like us, with feelings. Kreacher and Azalea had a baby, not a thing but a baby, and the baby is sick, so we are going to do everything we can to make the baby well, because we love Kreacher and Azalea. We would do the same for you.”

“Mabel owned by farm family, when Mabel was young” Mabel said. “Not the worst. With a newborn baby at harvest. Stopped to feed the baby, and master said ‘no stopping during harvest.’ Saw the baby and took and threw her into the scrap with the parts of the harvest that were damaged, to be ground up for fertilizer, and told Mabel to get back to work. House elves have to obey.”

Mabel was standing right in front of Harry, and he pulled her into his arms and said “That’s just horrible! You must have cried and cried over that poor baby.”

“House elves ordered not to cry, just work” Mabel said.

“You may cry if you want to” Harry said.

Mable took a deep breath and let out a huge wail, sending up a cry of total agony. It seemed to Harry and Ginny like years and years of built up grief came pouring out, about ten minutes worth of grief, before Mabel stopped and said “The soup is ready.”

“We can feed ourselves” Ginny gently said. “We can wash the dishes. You go and have a good cry.”

Ginny noticed Dobedo standing watching. Dobedo said “Dobedo take grandmum up to her bedroom, and we both cry, for all the bad masters, and for the good Harry and Ginny Potter, and Hermione Grainger. Thank you.”

Mable looked at Harry, and hugged him again, and said “Thank you” in a voice so soft it could hardly be heard, and then went over to Ginny and hugged her and said another “Thank you” in the same tiny voice. Mable then started to cry again, a much quieter cry. Dobedo took his grandmother’s hand and together they slowly walked upstairs.

November 18 Harry walked into the office to be met by a jubilant John Dawlish. “Last night a team of us used your maps to capture Nott. There was one area where we needed to know if anyone was there, and I made a map, not a very good one mind you, but it was good enough and we did find someone there and captured him! Didn’t even have to wake you up! Need more blank map paper though.”

Everybody in the office was thrilled by this development. Harry went back to his house and made more mapping paper, and made sure Ron and John Dawlish each has a small supply of it.

The obvious raids on Muggles or Muggle born diminished until it was hard to tell if the problems were just background violence that would happen even if all the death eaters were captured. There were a few more episodes in France, but as they began to use the cell phone and other advanced technology in France a couple of known French sympathizers of Voldemort were captured and the level of violence diminished there as well.

There was still no sign of the Lestrange brothers and others, including Delores Umbridge. Harry had a very personal grudge against Delores, since she not only caused the scar on his hand but was one of the people causing Ginny’s scars.

November 20 was not a particularly long game, but it was not a pleasant one. The weather was bad, and the contest was rougher and less sportsmanlike than usual. Somewhat to both of their surprise Ginny and Donna Lionheart were naturals together on the Quidditch pitch, so although Ginny was not a starter she was getting a fair amount of playing time.

Ginny and Donna were both playing at the end of the game, and when the game ended they both flew down to the players bench exhausted. As they sat down Ginny saw Bill Lionheart come up and present Donna with a small bouquet of roses, saying “Happy Birthday, Donna.”

Donna said “I’m thirty five, Bill.”

“I know you are, Donna” Bill replied.

“We were going to save enough money with both of us playing that I could retire and we could start a family when I was thirty five” Donna said.

“We still could” Bill said. “We’d have to be more careful but we still could.”

“I don’t know, Bill” Donna said. “I just don’t know.”

“I can do stuff, Donna” Bill said. “I know I’m slower but I can do stuff. I’m working at St. Mungo’s. I’m helping people. It’s not famous work but it’s important. Come and see.”

“I do love you, Bill” Donna said. “I know we have to plan for a life after Quidditch. When you got hurt my timetable was just all messed up and I’m not sure I can face … Bill, I’m doing my best.”

“So am I, Donna” Bill said. “So am I. So am I. I love you.”

Bill held Donna, and Donna cried real tears. Ginny quietly left Bill and Donna. There was more to Donna Lionheart that the bitch that yelled at other players, obviously.

November 27 was Ginny’s last Quidditch game until March. Formal training would start in February, but if you wanted to stay in shape you had to work out in the Harpies gym or some other gym almost every day, and schedule informal practices with team mates 2 or 3 times a week. You were a lot freer than during the normal training and season times, but not really free. Ginny was explaining this to Harry Saturday evening after Teddy was in bed, and Harry finally asked Ginny what had been bothering him since she had started with the Harpies. “Ginny, how much do you weigh now.”

Ginny looked a little defensive, and said “The team doctor said my weight was fine for someone who had been training as hard as I have.”

Harry answered “I’m not saying you’re unhealthy. I’ve just noticed that I can see your ribs, you are obviously much lighter than when we were first married.”

Ginny said “I’m 89 or 90 pounds. But I still have breasts, they are just smaller. I still have hips, they are just smaller. Everything is a little smaller.” Harry thought the breasts were a lot smaller, but some of the Harpies were so thin that they did not have any visible breasts at all. Over the next few weeks it came out that Ginny’s periods has also stopped. She had developed the body of women who were exercising to build up tremendous stamina. It was not unhealthy, but you were too thin to get pregnant.

Harry did not say much. This was Ginny’s dream, and if he preferred a Ginny with a little more padding, her sexual drive had not diminished. They even had a few occasions to try a little more of what his mother-in-law’s book had described, although they were hardly as adventuresome as Hermione and Ron.

“Harry” Ginny said “I am closer than ever to getting some serious playing time. One of the veteran chasers is retiring, actually being retired, and will not be back after the winter break. I’m almost certainly going to move into the 2nd group of chasers instead of Carla. Carla’s not a bad chaser, but I’m not sure if she is going to be back next year.

“Donna Lionheart and I are naturals together! Sometimes I hate that bitch and sometimes I think I feel sorry for her. She’s a really good player and there is a lot more going on in her life than you see at first, with Bill and I think more than that. Harry, life is just a lot more complicated than you think at first.”

Harry never felt that life was all that simple. Attending the same school as his cousin, navigating the minefields around the Dursley home, not to mention the challenges of the Hogwarts years. He turned his attention back to Ginny.

Ginny continued “Mary Sue is seriously talking about retiring the end of the spring season and becoming an Auror. I think that the job was only part of the attraction.”

“You think that maybe Patrick Prewett is maybe more of an attraction than the job?” Harry asked, grinning at Ginny.

“I would almost be more surprised if Mary Sue didn’t become Mary Sue Prewett soon” Ginny giggled. “She’s got it bad. Real bad. If Mary Sue leaves I think that I will get more playing time in the spring, and will probably be first alternate or maybe even a starter next season.

“There is one problem with my opportunity to get more playing time. Instead of exercising part time during the off time I am going to be exercising and then spending extra time practicing with Mary Sue and Donna Lionheart. Donna in particular is not only eager to spend extra time practicing but is really pushing me to spend most of my free time flying.”

“Good for your career” Harry said.

“Hard on US” Ginny said. “I’m supposed to be married, and I am, and after me complaining about how little you were away from me when I was at Hogwarts here I have hardly been here for YOU!”

“The Harpies have you for a few years, but I have you for a lifetime” Harry said. “Any time you get tired of it quit.

I have two classes I have to take. Could you come with me to San Francisco while I take the Magic & Muggle Technology class in January?”

“I couldn’t commute back to England” Ginny said. “It is just too far and too complicated. I could however commute to the Fitchburg Finches in Massachusetts, although it takes about half an hour each way. The Firebolt Broom Company wants to show off the Special Edition.

“Hudson Harrison volunteered to visit the Finches a couple of times to help further adjust my broom and maybe sell a couple of Special Editions as well. He is trying to talk me into visiting a couple of the other teams, to combine practice with selling.”

So by the end of November it was arranged, and on Sunday January 9 after the usual breakfast Harry and Ginny were going to go to San Francisco, Harry for classes, Ginny to commute and practice with some of the Finches.

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