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Chapter 65 : Year 7: October Storms
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Though it was the middle of a starry October night, James Potter’s nursery was crowded. He was there himself, of course; not in his cot but wide awake in his mother’s arms. Ginny was sitting in the rocking chair by the window, yawning and rubbing her eyes while trying to sing James back to sleep but, it seemed, without much success. Also in the room were Harry and Teddy – Teddy had woken up from a nightmare, heard James’ crying and marched into the nursery to offer Ginny his help, still crying from his bad dream as he did so.
The moon outside the window was large and full and reflected in Teddy’s still red eyes as he blinked up at Harry, listening intently to Ginny’s singing. No trolls or giants will come near, no curse or hex pass through… So close your eyes now, baby dear, and cry not, be not blue. The full moon did not have the same effect on Teddy as it had had on his father, but it always seemed to give him the most horrifying dreams, and on nights when the silvery orb hung low on the night sky, it was nearly impossible to get him to go to sleep. Harry had been expecting a sleepless night, and a sleepless night they had. It was the reason why their breakfast some hours later was a quiet affair, with Teddy’s eyelids hanging heavy as he forced down his toast, Ginny pouring coffee down her throat and yawning over that morning’s Daily Prophet, and Harry struggling to find the energy to lift his spoon from his bowl and up to his mouth every half minute or so.
Teddy’s grandmother showed up a few hours after breakfast. By then, everyone had had a nap up in Harry and Ginny’s bedroom and were feeling a little more refreshed; Teddy, though he hated to leave the Potters, rushed into Andromeda’s arms when she walked through the front door, eager to tell her all about how he had helped give James a bath and put him to sleep the night before. The old woman smiled, so that the skin around her eyes wrinkled like the dry leaves out in the backyard, and kissed Teddy’s sand-coloured hair.
“You are such a good brother,” she told him, straightening up to look at Harry and Ginny, who had come out in the hallway to greet her. “How was last night? Did he get any sleep?”
“Not enough,” Ginny replied. “But we’ve all had a nap, so I think he’ll be all right for a while.”
There was nothing Andromeda loved more than getting to pick up Teddy when he had been away for the weekend; even being in the house when he was there could be hard enough at times. Sometimes he would grin a certain way, or raise just one of his eyebrows when she scolded him, trying to make her laugh by changing his face into the funniest-looking one he could think of, and his grandmother would feel as if she was watching six-year-old Dora doing those exact same things. Teddy was so much like her; not just in the way he looked. It was painful sometimes to hear him laugh the way she had used to, or speak like her, but the memories of what Andromeda had lost seemed even more painful when Teddy wasn’t there. She knew how much he loved staying with the Potters, but on those weekends, it was just her and the ghosts of all she had once had in that house. It was always a relief when she got to bring him back again.
Of course, Teddy was always extra grumpy the first few hours after leaving Harry and Ginny, but as Andromeda bent down that morning to help tie the shoelace of his trainers, and he started pouting at her, she nudged him lightly in the side and said:
“Hey, we’ve got an exciting day today, remember?”
Teddy looked a little happier as he nodded. “Oh, yeah…”
“Have you now?” said Ginny behind them. “You haven’t told us about that, Teddy.”
“I forgot!” Teddy said, turning around and almost tripping over as his grandmother was still holding one of his shoelaces. “We’re going to a wedding!” he breathed when he had regained his balance.
Harry looked surprised. “Wow! Whose wedding, buddy?”
“Draco’s!” Teddy grinned, and Harry’s smiled faded as he turned to Andromeda.
“Not at their house?” he said, and she nodded firmly.
“Yes, at their house,” she replied, her tone short as she straightened up. “Ready to go, dear? Don’t forget to kiss Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny goodbye! And have you thanked them for having you this weekend?”
Teddy turned around again to do as she said, and Ginny bent down to hug him while Harry continued to stare at Andromeda.
“Andie, are you sure it’s such a good idea? You don’t know all the people he would invite to his wedding! Do you really want Teddy around them?”
“They don’t have a lot of people left to invite, Harry,” replied the older lady. “Believe it or not, but my sister has grown to care for Teddy. She wouldn’t put him at risk.”
“You mean like she never put her son at risk?” said Harry sharply, but just then, Teddy had wrapped his arms around his legs, and he was forced to turn his attention to him instead. Bending down, he wrapped his arms around his godson and kissed his cheek. “Thanks for coming to stay with us last night. You know how much we love having you over, right?”
Teddy nodded and wrapped his own arms around Harry’s neck. “Love you, Harry.”
“Love you too.” They let go of each other, and Harry straightened up to meet Andromeda’s dark eyes again.
“I appreciate your concern,” she said softly, “but I think I’m capable of keeping my grandson safe. You may not trust my sister, but I thought you would trust me. I love him more than anything, Harry. I would never do anything that could hurt him.”
There was a flash of anger in her eyes, and Harry felt the lines on his forehead soften. Perhaps she was thinking of that awful night she had had to spend in the gaol at the Ministry, accused of several murders that she may have wanted to commit, but never would have. Teddy was all she had, Teddy and the bittersweet memories of the family she had lost much too soon. Harry suddenly felt guilty as he thought of how she had left everything to be with Ted, to have her daughter – only to lose them both in the span of just a few months.
“I’m sorry,” he said, stepping forward to hug her too. “You’re right, of course. I don’t know why I worry so about him.”
Andromeda smiled as they let go of each other. “I do,” she said. “It’s because you love him like he was your own.”
The early morning remained quiet at the Potters’ after Teddy and Andromeda left, but it was to be anything but quiet at Maple Crest. Hermione had slept poorly all night, twisting and turning in bed and disturbing Ron’s sleep as well. In the last three weeks, she had already read three books on pregnancy, and she knew that nightmares and feeling sick and dizzy were all normal symptons, so she was not too worried; she was mainly concerned about the fact that she had a long day at work to look forward to, and she could really use a good night’s rest.
It was when she woke up for the fifth time that something was different. It was still dark outside her window, but she was bathing in sweat, the sheets were sticking to her legs, and there was a sharp pain in her stomach that she had never felt before. It was as if she was still half asleep, not entirely conscious, because she wanted to scream, to roll over and wake Ron, but she could not move a muscle. She had to do something, because this was wrong, this wasn’t in the pregnancy books, it was not supposed to feel like that…
And then it got worse, and her body twisted under the pain, and she opened her mouth to scream but it was just a hollow sound that she wished she had never made, and Ron moved beside her and then there was a light, he was pointing his wand at her and there was too much red. Ron’s hair was red, his face and neck, the sheets; everything was red.
Ron was yelling now, but Hermione couldn’t make out his words. Her hand had found her stomach, and they were pressing hard against it, trying to hold everything together because it couldn’t fall apart, she could not let it… And then there was another shot of pain, and the red disappeared from her view – the blood, and Ron’s hair, and the light that his wand had produced – it all got darker and darker until everything was pitch black.
That morning was strangely quiet – dark, because it was October and winter was nearly there, and quiet, as if all of London had decided to sleep in. In the waiting room at St. Mungo’s, there were some people awake, but they were not speaking or making much noise at all. Even the children were quieter than usual; James had fallen back asleep in Ginny’s arms, tired after his sleepless night, Freddie seemed content with sitting on his grandfahter’s lap drinking a bottle of warm milk, and even Victoire and Dominique appeared too sleepy to make as much noise as they usually would. Mrs Weasley was sobbing already before the news came – before the sun was up and in the shape of her son, whose eyes were even more tired and swollen with tears than his mother’s. In the same moment he appeared, half the family jumped to their feet, and Mrs Weasley rushed up to him, reaching forwards to grab both his arms.
“How is she?”
Her son smiled. “She’s all right.” And he bent down and opened up his arms, his smile growing bigger as his daughters rushed into them, one yelling, “Daddy!” and the other, “Papa!” Bill chuckled and kissed both their blond heads. “Come on, girls,” he told them, straightening up and grabbing both their hands. “Your little brother would really like to meet you.”
The rest of the family gave the new parents and big sisters some time alone with their newest addition before joining them in the delivery room. When they did, it was to the sound of gasps and sobs and astonished exclaims. The boy was just as beautiful as his sisters, with pale skin that seemed to glow like silver in the morning light and a peaceful look on his perfect little face as he stirred slightly in his father’s arms.
“A mini-Bill,” said Fleur, who was squeezed in between Victoire and Dominique on the small hospital cot. “At last.”
“Have you decided on a name?” Mrs Weasley breathed; she was already hanging over Bill’s shoulder to get a good look of the little one. “Oh, isn’t he just too sweet?”
“His name is Louis!” said Victoire proudly.
“Are we really taking him home?” asked Dominique, wrapping her arms tightly around Fleur’s neck. “Do we really have to?” she added in a whisper, and her mother smiled.
“You don’t know ‘im yet,” she said, leaning her head against Dominique’s. “But you will. And you will love ‘im so much once you do.”
Fleur remembered Victoire’s hesitation to her little sister at first, which had grown into a fondness and fierce protectiveness that reminded Fleur so much of her own little sister and how much she had loved having someone to share everything with. She turned her eyes to her baby son, who was now in Mr Weasley’s arms instead of Bill’s, and knew that both Victoire and Dominique would soon feel that same way about him. Perhaps, she thought, it was only a mother who could love her child that much before she had even held him. Bill had been as excited as she had each time they had been expecting, and she knew he had loved their children just as much as her from the first moment he had laid eyes on them, but she had known them for months before that, felt them grow, felt their hearts beat along with hers. She had loved them all since the moment she had learned they existed.
Fleur did not voice her thoughts, but simply kissed her daughters’ cheeks as she smiled at her father-in-law, who was in the middle of whispering something to her son. None of them knew that there was another mother in a bed like Fleur’s just down the corridor, a mother who had loved her baby since she had first learned that he existed, who had woken up just then and was blinking up at the white ceiling, her eyes struggling to focus on the figures bending over her.
Ron’s face became clear first; he was crying. Hermione wanted to cover her ears, because she knew just what they would tell her, and she did not want to hear it. She would have done anything for just a few moments of happy oblivion, a few more seconds of not knowing the worst thing in the world. She had loved her baby already. No one else had known him yet, but she had felt something, felt him, and she could not bear to hear what they were going to tell her now.
The healer next to Ron placed a hand on Hermione’s shoulder, and Ron turned his eyes away from hers. His lower lip was trembling as he reached up and wiped his cheek with the sleeve of his jumper.
No one else had known yet. Hermione had wanted to tell her father, but she had read in the pregnancy books that most people waited to tell anyone until the first trimester had passed. Therefore, she had kept her mouth shut, but she had imagined over and over the look on her dad’s face. She had pictured him being happier than he had been in the almost two years since he had lost his wife.
She could see her father now as she forced her eyes away from Ron’s tearstained, flushed face, grinning like she could not remember him doing for a very long time. “A grandfather?” he would say, and she would nod and probably burst out crying. “Hermione! Is it really true?”
It had been true, and Hermione needed it to still be true, but her arms felt weak and she could not lift her hands to her ears in order to cover them, and the truth had changed into the heaviest weight upon her chest as the healer said, “I’m so sorry, Mrs Weasley. I’m so very sorry, but you have lost your baby.”
A/N: So, heavier subjects are always difficult and I know that miscarriage can be upsetting for a lot of people. If you have the time to share your thoughts on that and the chapter, I would appreciate it very much.
As always, I am sorry for taking ages to update - I've had this chapter finished for a while but I'm travelling around SE Asia at the moment and have had terrible internet connection everywhere I've been. It's almost time for me to go back home now though, and that should make updating a bit easier.
Thank you, as always, for all your support, your thoughtful reviews, and for taking the time to read this story. It still means the world to me, if anyone had missed that! Xxx
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