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Chapter 21 : 21. Family
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Except that it wasn't.
It was only the beginning, I came to notice. A very, very, very good beginning, too. Everyone kept saying how beautiful and perfect the baby was. Anyone who saw him couldn't hold back a disgusting 'aww'.
Fortunately, I kind of saw their point - otherwise I would've hauled their asses out of the room at once.
So it was no exception when Em stopped by with more flowers, and even more chocolate, her entire face one big smile. The kid - that's what I called him - was sleeping in the tiny, tiny crib next to my bed, as I dangled my bed over the bed, just watching him. Em shoved the gifts in my arms, and I felt the familiar feeling of pride take over, as I watched Em lean over the crib, her mouth already ready to say the usual 'aww!'.
"He's so cute!" she whispered, gently touching his nose. "He has your nose, though."
I glared. "Oi!"
"Just saying," she sighed, sitting down next to me on the bed. "I never thought I'd live to see the day Susie Q becomes a momma!" she said, shaking her head.
I rolled my eyes. "Say that one more time and die."
"So," Em said, as the kid moved in his sleep. "Can you pick him up? Can you, can you, can you?"
I avoided Em's eager look, as I concentrated on the tiny freckles on the kid's nose - where he had got the freckles from was beyond me. The truth was that I hadn't exactly held the kid yet. It had already been a week, and I hadn't held him. I wanted to - but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I dreaded the fact of holding the tiny creature in my arms, the tiny, delicate and fragile little thing. What if I dropped him? What if he sensed I would be a horrible mother? What if he got hurt by something I couldn't protect him from?
So it was a real miracle I had avoided the confrontation for this long.
"Erm," I said, feeling my face grow hot. "He's sleeping."
Em stared at me. "He's a heavy sleeper," she said firmly, blinking. "I know this, because last time I came by, Midwife Flow did some tests on him, and he slept right through it! Why can't you pick him up now?"
I couldn't avoid her eyes anymore. "I'm scared to," I whispered, feeling ashamed.
"You're af--" Em began, before she sighed. "What are you talking about? Why on earth--"
"You don't know what it feels like," I cut off, glancing at her. "You don't know what it feels like to suddenly be responsible for another human being, someone who is more precious to you than anything else - the feeling is overwhelming, the feeling of knowing that there are things you can't protect him from, things that could hurt him, things that... that..." I stammered, swallowing with great difficulties.
"He's not going to die if you hold him!" Em said. "Don't be silly."
"How do you know that?" I demanded, shaking my head. "You can't know for sure, Em..."
Em watched me closely, as I hovered over the baby, my hands reaching carefully towards me - before I pulled myself back again. This went on and on, until Em sighed. "You're suffering of a postpartum depression," she stated. "Better known as 'baby blues', Susie," she added, as I stared at her blankly.
That was a familiar word - according to Kadhi, I had a 'negative vibe' that would easily be the 'passage to baby blues'.
"I'm not depressed," I said slowly, as if Em had difficulties to understand me otherwise. "I'm trying to protect my son," I told her.
"You're going through a tough stage in life, when--"
"I AM NOT DEPRESSED, DAMN IT!" I yelled at her, and to my horror, the baby moved in his sleep - but didn't wake up.
"Okay, that kid is not normal," Em whispered - as if she needed to do that after my small outburst. "Okay, here!" she suddenly said, picking the small baby from his crib. Before I knew it, she had shoved him in my arms, and I held him helplessly.
"O-okay," I stammered, already feeling my palms sweat. "What do I do now?" I said, looking at Em in panic.
"Hold your kid," she adviced, sitting down next to me. "Just look at him, Susie... he's precious."
I looked down, observing every delicate feature on his tiny face. I knew them like the back of my own hand, of course. All this time, all I had done was watching him; every move and sound was like oxygen to me. And now, I could see them upclose, feel him move slightly in my arms.
And then he opened his eyes, and looked directly at me.
"Hi," I whispered, automatically smiling at him. "What's up, kid?"
Em smiled, as she stood up. "I'll leave you two alone..."
I didn't even notice her leaving, as I held the baby's gaze firmly. "Looks like it's just the two of us now, huh?"
The baby didn't answer - obviously. But in his own special way, he signalled to me that it would all be okay. I extended my index finger to him, and he grabbed it, giving it a slight squeeze. I smiled, and he smiled back brilliantly.
"I have a perfect name for you, you know," I cooed, touching his cheek. "You're going to hate me for it when you get older... but I like the name," I said, shrugging carefully. "It's a family name."
I watched him in silence, as he suddenly yawned. I smiled, watching his brown eyes slowly close, and his small mouth letting out the strangest sound I had ever heard; snoring.
"You sure snore like your daddy," I said, feeling a weird sadness in my entire body. A gentle knock on the door startled me, and I looked up. "Come in," I said, expecting Em to burst back into the room.
Instead I saw Mr R - my dad - come into the room with a massive set of flowers and the Daily Prophet tucked under his arm. For a moment, we just stared at each other - until his gaze landed on the baby in my arms, and his entire being seemed to melt. No one could resist the kid, that's for sure.
"That's him, then," he said quietly, taking a step closer. He froze, and eyed me carefully. "C-can I...?"
I nodded slowly. "Of course," I said, trying to shift the baby expertly in my arms so that he could see him better.
"Let me," he said quietly, carefully picking up the baby. I watched in awe, as he easily held the baby, as if he did it everyday. I watched in silence, as Mr R stared at the sleeping boy, his eyes wide as plates. His eyes were filled with such devotion that even a blind man could see it; he was totally and utterly taken by him. "He's perfect."
I smiled. "Yeah," I said proudly. "It's your first grandchild, Mr R."
He looked up at me with a frown. "I'd prefer if you didn't call me Mr R... I mean, if you don't mind--"
I shook my head, silencing him. "I'm not sure I'm there yet to call you... dad," I said, wrinkling my nose at the word. "I'm eternally thankful for being there at my time of... need, I suppose," I said with a small shrug. "I don't... expect anything from you. In fact, because you were there, I've decided to... to... abandon my plans of... ruining you and your career. I realize now that it wasn't your choice to... to abandon me. The letter... I... I see the bigger picture. But I don't expect anything from you," I hurried to add, as he opened his mouth. "Nick," I finished lamely.
He smiled a small smile. "You're nothing like your mother, Susie," he whispered, quickly looking down at the baby again. "Thank you," he said.
I wasn't sure if he thanked me for not ruining him, or for giving him a grandchild - either way, it didn't really matter. My eyes zoomed in on the abandoned newspaper on the bed - a certain article, actually.
I slowly unfold the Daily Prophet and stare at the picture in front of me. There they are; Lily and James Potter, with a small baby in their arms, smiling right up at me. So they had their baby already? As soon as the thought went through my mind, I felt a snort escape my mouth. Of course they would've had their child! What did I expect - that the rest of the world would stop to exist just because I left an entire lifetime behind me?
I couldn't stop the smile from appearing on my face, as I scanned the article. I wasn't sure what I was looking for - but whatever it was, I couldn't find it, because there was nothing much more to it. Just some trivial facts about the Potters, where they lived these days and so on.
"Friends of yours?" Nick's voice surprised me.
"No," I said at once, shrugging, as I dropped the newspaper. "Just... someone I used to know," I muttered. "They also had a baby."
"Having a baby is a true blessing," Nick mused, gazing back at his grandson.
"Which reminds me," I said. "There's someone I'd like you to meet."
"Yes," I said, nodding. "Someone... close to me."
I pushed the pram slowly forward, Nick matching his steps with mine. We walked in silence, with only to gravel under our shoes echoing on the graveyard. Both of us stopped at the right grave, and stared down at it in silence.
A beloved husband, father & grandfather
"Dad," I said, my voice thick. "I found him, dad. I found my real dad..."
Nick remained silent next to me, as I put down the flowers on the grave. "Thank you, Richie," Nick said, his voice serious. "Thank you for looking after our Susie. For raising her, for loving her as your own daughter... in a way, she really was your daughter, and always will be - there's nothing that can change that fact," he said, and to my horror I felt my eyes fill with tears. "Thank you."
We stared at the tombstone for a few more minutes, until the baby made a gurgling sound, making us both clear our throats awkwardly.
"Shall we...?" Nick asked quietly, and I nodded stiffly. We walked down the same path in silence, and I became suddenly aware of Nick taking in his surroundings. "So this is England."
I chuckled darkly under my breath, clutching the pram tighter. "Disappointed?"
"It's lovelier than I expected, to be honest," he admitted. "So, have you decided on a name yet?"
I grimaced. "Yes," I said with a sigh. "And no, I won't tell you. Even the godparents don't know - it's a secret."
"Nothing stupid, I hope," he said.
I glared at him. "No," I said defensively. "I don't even want to think about the christening - it's so far away!"
"It's not that far away," Nick reminded me. "But you're right," he hurried to add, as I gave him a look. "You should just enjoy this time - enjoy motherhood!"
How was I supposed to know that 'motherhood' would involve several sleepless nights and many, many mental breakdowns?
A/N: Once again, I apologize for the long wait. I hope there still are eager readers out there - and I thank you all for sticking with this story for so long :) Someday, it WILL be finished, I promise ^_^
- Lily xxx
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