Neville and Hannah had been rushing around all morning preparing for their trip to St. Mungo's. Hannah was on edge because Neville had once again waited until the last minute to get Benji ready and insisted that playing was much more fun. This meant that breakfast was rushed, getting things tidy was rushed, and trying to get herself together to go... rushed. She huffed as she threw the diaper bag together 'diapers, wipes, bottle, teether toy...' she thought repeatedly in her mind.
"Neville!" Hannah called up the stairs, "the Ministry car is here!"
"We're coming!" Neville called back to her as he thundered down the wooden steps with Benji in tow.
Hannah grabbed the diaper bag and walked towards them.
"Let's go get this figured out." she said as she leaned over to give Benji a kiss on the cheek and then doing the same to Neville.
Hannah opened the dark, ebony-colored door to allow Neville and Benji to walk through it before she closed it tightly behind her. They walked down the cobbled side walk and to the car waiting out in the street. Again, Hannah opened the door allowing Neville and Benji to be admitted before herself. Neville got Benji all buckled into the child's safety seat as Hannah climbed in. They both buckled and the car zoomed off in the direction of St. Mungo's.
Neville looked apprehensive as he sat there next to Hannah. The pit in his stomach feeling heavier the closer they got to their destination. Hannah was pale, but determined to try to make some type of conversation.
"I'm glad the Ministry allowed us to use the car for the day. Makes things easier since Benji is so little. Harry wasn't cross that you wouldn't be in today was he?" She wondered.
"No, I told him what was going on with Benji and Harry understood. He always does. Harry is a great man. Besides, its been slow at the Ministry right now since most of the former Death Eaters have been caught. Ginny is pregnant by the way." He told her with a few shrugs in between sentences
Hannah smiled at the thought of Ginny Potter having a baby. She knew she would be a great mom coming from the size family that she had and the great role model that she was able to look up to while growing up.
After a few minutes of thoughtful silence that was only interrupted by Benji going "ahhhh yaa ya ya" they had finally arrived at St. Mungo's. When they exited the car Hannah instinctively grabbed the diaper bag and placed it back over her shoulder, Neville unbuckled the now mouth spitting Benji from his seat and they walked together as a small family into the hospital.
When they entered the waiting room it was to find the small, four white walled area, jam packed. Gran stood out visibly with her stuffed vulture hat on and red hand bag. They slowly made their way over to where she was sitting as it was obvious to them she wouldn't be able to see them in the mass sea of people. When she noticed them she smiled happily and stood up. Her vulture hat lurched alarmingly.
"Where do we need to go?" Neville asked her.
"I believe it's to the children's unit on level six." She said. "There is a directory over by the attendant desk, but I wouldn't ask her for help. I've been sitting here for twenty minutes and she has refused to answer anybody's inquiries." She glared at the young woman behind the desk who was twirling her hair around in her wand. "I hope she sets her hair on fire! It'll teach her for not doing her job properly." Gran said in a disgruntled voice.
Hannah stifled a laugh and Neville tried to not let the smile tug at the corners of his mouth as he led the way over to the lift carrying Benji tightly in his arms.
When they entered the lift they were packed in like sardines. It seemed like everyone decided that today was the day they all needed to go to the hospital. Or that they all needed to ride on this one and only lift. It closed and lurched upwards and stopped at each floor. Every time they would have to shift around trying very hard not to brush up against someone. Benji however, didn't mind in the least bit. In fact he squealed until they finally exited the lift at level six; children's unit the cool voice called out behind them.
They walked up to the desk, Gran in the lead.
"May I help you?" A woman healer asked.
"Yes, we are here because my great-grandson, Benji- Benjamin needs to be seen. His parents Neville and Hannah Longbottom," she pointed at each of them as she spoke before continuing, "are concerned with his development."
"Not a problem. If you will please follow me, Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom, I will show you to a room where we can go over what is going on." The healer said.
As they walked down the hall they were surprised to see how many children were around the ward. Some looked perfectly fine while others looked tired and weak. They turned a corner and walked into a small room where the healer was now summoning another chair for Gran. They took their seats and the healer closed the door with an echoing snap behind her.
"I'm Healer Ashford." She said proudly shaking each one of their hands professionally. Benji let out a raspberry to show his pleasure in meeting the new person in the room. They all chuckled at him.
"So, what brings you in today? You said that they are worried about his development?" She questioned.
"Yes, but I think the questions would be better fielded by the pair of them since they are Benji's parents." Gran stated.
Healer Ashford nodded politely, "What isn't he doing that is concerning you?"
"Well," Hannah began, "he isn't rolling over or sitting and he is seven months old. He is also using his right hand more than his left."
"Okay." She nodded in reply to Hannah's response.
Neville looked at her a little gobsmacked that she could be as calm as she was. He knew something was wrong with his son as did his wife, but here Healer Ashford seemed to him like she was brushing off their concerns.
"Well let me do a few tests. These won't hurt him at all." She rushed on to say as Hannah's faced turned to a saddened look.
Neville handed Benji over, but didn't allow his gaze to leave him as Healer Ashford performed some spells on him quite quickly. Within a couple of minutes she was bringing Benji back over to Neville's empty arms and depositing the boy there as she took her seat across from them again.
"Well Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom, I am sorry to be the one to tell you that I do not know what is the matter with your son. This is nothing caused by magic, so I am afraid that the only other option that you have left is visiting the muggle children's hospital. If you'd like we can send over some paperwork and get you and appointment today." She stated looking back and forth between the two of them for an answer to who was going to break first.
"What do you mean that there is nothing magically wrong with him? Why can't magic pick up what is wrong with him?" Hannah asked eagerly looking for a better answer.
"Well Mrs. Longbottom, there is nothing magically wrong with Benji, meaning that he hasn't been impaired by magic in any way, shape, or form. The reason as to why I cannot determine what is wrong with him by use of magic is because sometimes things can be wrong that magic cannot pick up on. It's just not that simple." She explained.
Neville glanced at Gran who was looking hard at Healer Ashford as if she were daring her to lie so she could curse her into oblivion. His heart swelled with pride, but the pit in his stomach gave an awful lurch as he looked at Hannah who was now, close to tears.
"I'm sorry." Healer Ashford said. "I'll go send you're paper work over to the children's hospital and make an appointment for you today. I'll be back in a few moments." She a sheet of parchment and walked to the door and swiftly shutting it in her wake.
"Hannah?" Neville said cautiously.
She glanced at her husband and saw the pain in his face through her watery eyes. She knew that he was hurting too, but was holding on for the sake of keeping it together for her and Benji.
"I'll be okay Neville." She said as tears ran down her pale, thin cheeks. Her long hair drooping down the sides of her face. Benji cooed and Hannah choked back a sob to try and laugh, but it came out as more of a hiccup. Gran's hand covered Hannah's and squeezed it.
"Stay strong dear. Whatever is going on with him as long as he is happy you can and will be happy. We will get through this." She smiled at her and her wise, old eyes twinkled with tears that were trying to hide themselves as she blinked quickly.
A moment later the door opened again and Healer Ashford came back into the room. "Your paper work is all taken care of and your appointment is in a half hour. They aren't very busy over there today. The best of luck to you all." she smiled and shook their hands again.
Neville walked over to Gran and asked, "Could you hold Benji and give Hannah and I a minute alone?"
"I'd be more than happy to hold Benji." She held out her hands as Neville handed him over to her open arms. "We'll be out in the hallway waiting." She walked out of the room closing the door quietly behind her.
"Hannah, are you sure you're okay?" Neville turned around and asked.
She nodded, but with tears forming in her eyes. "I just thought they would be able to tell us more or at least something."
"I know," Neville placed his hands on her shoulders and whispered, "it's hard not knowing, but at least they are pointing us in another direction rather than writing us off completely."
"True." Hannah stated. There was that confidence about him that she loved so much. Shining through again 'as I sit here and act like a blubbering idiot without a real reason to worry just yet' she thought.
"We should probably get to the children's hospital." Neville said in a calm tone as his hands massaged Hannah's shoulders.
Hannah calmed her nerves, though it took a lot for her to do so. Neville helped her stand up as he reflected to how the morning had already gone 'and I thought Auror Training was hard.' He lifted the diaper bag onto his shoulder this time carrying the burden of weight himself.
After Hannah was balanced on her feet, Neville grabbed her hand, and they walked out of the room. She squeezed it tightly to let him know that Hannah was still here and ready for the fight as they proceeded through the door and into the hallway where Gran stood against the wall with Benji. The little one in her arms was fast asleep in her arms. Healers that walked passed -mostly females- let out calls of 'awe' at the sight of him. Gran merely chuckled and swayed in a soothing motion doing everything that she could to keep him from being woken up.
Neville and Hannah made their way over to Gran and Benji and the four of them walked back to the lift anxiously waiting to get out of there as quickly as possible. The ride in the lift was just as stuffy as it was the first time. Hannah was feeling so anxious that she looked at Neville and said, "If we don't get out of here soon we'll be late!"
"It's okay Hannah we still have the Ministry car and they can get us there faster." He said calmly.
When they finally arrived outside of St. Mungo's, the car that Neville had from the Ministry for the day was sitting at the curb. When they approached it Benji started to stir in Gran's arms and sensing Hannah's anxiousness she handed Benji to her. He started to whimper and chomp on his tiny, right fist, drooling onto Hannah's shoulder. Neville held open the car door allowing the women to proceed into the car before him.
As they all buckled and settled in the car began to chug the six blocks needed to get them to the children's hospital. To pass the short time in the car, the adults entertained themselves by watching Benji. He was currently sitting lopsided in the baby seat, batting at a stuffed rememberall that was swinging back and forth with a woosh. Each time Benji would squeal and giggle in delight as the three adults chuckled, yet remained mum about their destination or the reason for their journey. It was one of those simple moments when one could reflect on what is the most important in life.
Finally they arrived at the Children's Hospital. When they stepped out of the car, Hannah, Neville and Gran stood in stunned silence at the vast size of the place. It wasn't until a loud raspberry sounded when their minds were pill out of their awestruck wonder and back to reality.
Neville scooped Benji up out of his seat, Gran grabbed the diaper bag, and Hannah stood there completely unsure of what to do. Gran took her hand and guided her in through the entrance after Neville and Benji.
When they entered, they saw Neville talking to a muggle at the check in desk.
"Yes, we have an appointment in pediatrics for Benjamin Frank Longbottom," they overheard him saying as they approached.
Hannah had a sinking feeling in her chest and she couldn't quite shrug off the feeling that something wasn't right, but Gran nudged her and she was pulled out of her stupor. She followed them over to the lift.
They rode it up to level three before it announced itself with three loud beeps. When they stepped off of the lift they walked through the double glass doors in front of them that read 'Pediatric Specialists.'
Gran, Hannah and Benji who had been transferred into Hannah's arms from Neville's, sat down in the colorful waiting area. Other parents were sitting chairs while they watched as some of their children played, watched a movie, or to Hannah's horror sat in a wheelchair, drinking from a bottle.
Neville again went to the desk to let them know of their arrival and the lady behind the desk smiled kindly before saying, " They should be out to get you shortly Mr. Longbottom."
He turned to make his way through the rows of chairs and tables scattered with muggle magazines. When a booming voice called out through the waiting area.
Neville stopped in his tracks and waited for Hannah, Gran, and Benji to catch up to him. Once the four of them were together, they walked apprehensively towards the portly, balding, doctor waiting at the door.
"Right then," He said as they stopped in front of him, "This way please."
When they rounded the corner the Doctor stopped and pushed open the door with one arm and gestured them in with his other one. Once they were all in and Benji gurgled and playfully tried to pull on Hannah's hair, he cleared his throat loudly as the door shut behind him.
"I'm Dr. Michaels." He started, but was cut off by a soft tap at the door. "Enter."
In came a short woman with a folder and handed it to him. When she turned to leave she smiled at those sitting in the chairs, but Neville being an astute Auror could have sworn he'd seen a wand handle sticking out of the top of her pocket. He was just about to whisper something to Hannah about it, but Dr. Michaels started to talk again. Looking through the folder as he did so.
"I see that it says here that Benjamin is seven months old. What types of things is he doing at home?" He asked.
Hannah sighed heavily, "He can't roll over on his own from tummy to back. He can't sit up and we have also noticed that he is only using one hand more than the other one."
"I see." He stated in acknowledgement as he scribbled down what Hannah was telling him. Stopping when completed and rubbing his chin he asked, "What does he do when you sit him up?"
Neville beat Hannah in answering this question.
"He tilts to the side. Usually his left side. We noticed it when he was sitting in his high chair." He finished.
"Okay," he said jotting down Neville's words, "Well, the best thing that we can do right now is run some tests and give him a physical. Since we aren't as busy today, we should be able to give you some of our findings today."
"If one of you could bring Benjamin over here to the exam table, we can get started."
Calmly, so as not to show his anxiety, Neville picked Benji up out of Hannah's lap and carried him over to the exam table. Neville carefully laid him down and backed up to give Dr. Michaels room to begin looking him over.
They watched as he measured his legs, moved them around, checking out the joints of his ankles, knees, and hips. Benji just laid there and cooed. He tapped his knees to check his reflexes, and ran his fingernail against the bottoms of his feet, looking for his responses. He checked his tummy, arms and head.
Gran and Hannah sat there holding one another's hand for comfort. Not having her mother alive anymore, Hannah heavily relied of the elder Mrs. Longbottom for support. Neville sat there with his hands together and fingers on his lips watching his son intently.
"Okay," Dr. Michaels said, "this part is all done." He handed Benji back to Neville. "I would like to get a scan of his brain before we talk about the findings. I also have a couple of other questions." He started looking at his notes, "was Benjamin a full term baby?"
"Yes." Hannah and Neville both replied.
"Okay, good." Dr. Michaels wrote done. "Were there any complications during labor?"
"No." They both replied again.
"Alright," He said as he jotted down more scribbled notes on a piece of paper. "Were there any problems during pregnancy?"
Hannah looked at Neville, as Gran squeezed Hannah's hand in a supportive way.
"Yes," she said weakly. "I was terribly sick and ended up getting an infection."
The Doctor nodded and jotted down more notes to himself. "About how many weeks pregnant were you at the time the infection occurred Mrs. Longbottom?"
"Please call me Hannah." She said politely as she recalled the information in her mind, "I was 32 weeks."
"I'm sorry Hannah." Dr. Michaels said with emphasis on her name to show that he acknowledged her request.
Putting the pen back down and turning his attention back towards the four of them again, he clapped his hands together. "Like I said, I think it would be best if we did a brain scan next and then we can go over the results. Is everyone okay with that?"
The three adults in front of him nodded as Benji let out a large noise from his diaper. Neville and Dr. Michaels both chuckled, Gran rolled her eyes, and Hannah said, "Benjamin!" The smell that followed was clearly disturbing, but Benji cooed, raspberried, and squealed in happiness all the same.
"I'll leave you to change him then I'll come back and get him for the scan." Dr. Michaels said waving his hand in front of his face.
"O-okay." Hannah choked out.
Neville grabbed the diaper bag, as Gran gagging from Benji's explosion quickly exited the room.
Neville got out a diaper, wipes, and Hannah bravely unpants the little one. They did a quick change and used their wands to clear the smell radiating around them in the room. They tossed the diaper in the bin with a scent spell cast on it.
Neville stuck his head out of the door to give Gran the okay and all clear. She re-entered the room followed by Dr. Michaels only moments later.
"The scan should only take about half an hour and we will be giving him some medicine to allow him to relax. This will allow us the best results necessary. I will need you to sign the consent forms." He finished handing the forms over to them to sign.
Hannah and Neville both glanced at each other before signing the forms. Their eyes briefly met yet, spoke volumes.
"Okay now that all of that is in order, I'll take Benjamin and get this under way." He stood up, "There is a cafeteria on this level where you can go and grab a bite to eat while you wait for us to finish up and we can meet back together to discuss our findings."
Gran reluctantly handed Benji over to Dr. Michaels, as Neville put his arm around Hannah's shoulder bracing her for Benji's absence.
"It's all for the best." Gran said to the both of them.
Hannah gave a small whimper as they followed Dr. Michaels out of the room and went their separate ways. The three adults had had a long day so far, and decided that the best thing to pass the time would be to visit the cafeteria.
When they arrived there ten minutes had already passed. It had taken them that long to find it. They picked out some food that looked somewhat appealing and Hannah purchased it, being a half-blood gave her a little more knowledge about some muggle things; money being one of them. They found a table and quickly ate wanting nothing more than to make it back as fast as possible to find out something and to see Benji. It was like the had silently agreed not to talk about it.
After fifteen minutes they all finished and cleared their trays from the table. They walked swiftly back to the office that they had come from.
When they entered Hannah hand that overwhelming feeling that something was seriously wrong. Neville felt the pit in his stomach grow large and drop lower. They went over and sat anxiously in the chairs and waited for another five minutes before Dr. Michaels reappeared with Benji who was asleep at the current moment.
"If you would like to follow me into the conference room we can go over what it is that we have found out." he said.
Every nerve in Hannah's body screamed at her as her limbs moved. That building ominous moments only minutes away.
They entered the room and sat in the comfortable chairs that stood around the circular table. It gave that feeling of FALSE comfort. Once they were all seated, Dr. Michaels turned and looked at them with a serious look on his face.
'This is it!' Hannah thought. As she quickly grabbed Neville's hand and Gran's. Neville felt Hannah's hand in his shaking from nerves.
"Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom, it is with my deepest regret to be the one to inform you that your son Benjamin has Cerebral Palsy." Dr. Michaels said with a somber look on his face. "We do not know how bad it is yet. The reason we did the scan was to see if there is an underlying issue. We won't know the results of the tests for three days. What I would suggest is that you prepare to start looking into support systems that are offered here. They are people who will advocate for you and help you with Benjamin as he grows."
Hannah couldn't listen anymore and broke into fresh, hot tears. She pounded her fists on Neville's chest. "Why!?" She screamed, "Why!? Not my sweet, innocent angel! Did I cause this!?" She broke down into sobs as Neville rubbed her back. Tears sparkled in his eyes as he watched his wife lose it right there in his arms.
He had never felt this hopeless even during the war. Never. He didn't know what else to say to ease Hannah's pain because at that moment that pit that lodged itself into his stomach over took him and his heart broke into pieces.
Gran watched them both as the Doctor still had Benji in his arms, asleep. It was everything she could do to keep it together for the both of them. Her mind raced back to when Frank and Alice had been tortured. Now she has to sit there and watch as her grandson and his wife learned the fate of their son. Tears rolled down her wrinkly face.
Dr. Michaels waited a minute or two before he spoke, " Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive disorder. We won't know what Benjamin's will be like as he gets older. You didn't cause this at all Hannah."
To Hannah this isn't how it felt at all. She felt like she failed Benji. Like she had done something wrong and hadn't protected him the way that she should have. Neville continued to console her as Benji woke up. It was that moment in their marriage that they were knocked down by an invisible force.
Author's Note: Again, this story is dedicated to 'D' you are my inspiration always! Please know that I do not imply that everyone who experiences this with a child that this is what the out come is each and every child is different. If I have offended anyone I am sorry. I would love to know what you think of this chapter! Thanks for reading!
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