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Chapter 33 : A Spot Of Discomfort
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“Mum, is it really as sore as they say, having a baby?” I asked my mother. We had just been to see baby Lucy in the hospital, and Auntie Audrey looked as if someone had hit her over the head with a greasy frying pan while performing the Cruciatus Curse on her.
“No,” said Mum flatly, “It’s worse.”
“She’s exaggerating,” Dad assured me.
“Excuse me!” Mum rounded on Dad, her eyes now bulging, “When you have pushed two watermelons out of your you-know-what then you can say I’m exaggerating!!”
“I don’t have a you-know-what…”
Dad never did know when to shut up.
“EXACTLY! Rose, when I was eighteen years old, I was tortured under the Cruciatus Curse by Bellatrix Lestrange, and I can safely say that it was like a day in a beauty spa compared to labour! You’ll know someday when you’re older…”
I keep having this same recurring nightmare of a conversation I had with my Mum when I was around five or six. Ever since I came home from Hogwarts – a whole two days ago – I keep thinking I’m going to go into labour any minute, even though I still have two weeks until my due date. These nightmares aren’t even the worst of them. Last night I dreamt that I accidentally left my baby on top of the Hogwarts Express and then it started moving, but Scorpius caught the baby just before it fell off. This leads me to think that Scorpius is going to be a better parent than me. The worst nightmare I’ve had so far is where I go into labour, the Healer tells me to push and then starts screaming like a madman that it’s an antichrist! It’s not a baby at all!
So now I’ve stopped sleeping.
Scorpius is at home in Scotland at the minute. He’ll be coming to stay here next week, just in case the baby comes early, or just in case I need anything. He’s a good friend, that Scorpius. I wonder how I’ll break it to him if this kid is the antichrist – maybe I’ll just leave it on top of a train if that’s the case.
I’ve been reading up on stuff like this, actually. Apparently there was this woman who abandoned her baby in a park, but she wasn’t charged for it because of postpartum depression. Another lady actually transfigured her child into a goat, and again she wasn’t sent to Azkaban.
“Hello!” Aunt Ginny’s voice echoes around the empty house. Mum and Dad are at work, so I generally get around thirty thousand visitors a day checking up on me. Even Hugo checks in from time to time, taking time out from his busy schedule of doing nothing.
“In the living room!” I call and Ginny bustles in with a basket of fruit and muffins. She’s such a Nana Molly.
“How are you feeling? Are you comfortable? Do you want anything?” She starts fluffing the cushions behind my back and then summons me a glass of water. It’s literally been ten minutes since Uncle Harry was here doing the same thing. These people really worry too much.
“I’m fine,” I say, “Look at this – a woman almost murdered her two year old son with the Avada Kedavra curse, but was not sentenced due to a case of postpartum depression. Two years later!”
“D’you think you’d still get off eighteen years later?” Ginny asks, “James is driving me up the wall with this new Quidditch contract. All of a sudden it’s as if his NEWTs don’t matter! He doesn’t even care about the results!”
This probably isn’t the best time to tell her that he studied for all of his exams the night before. Yes, she’s definitely better off not knowing.
“Ginny, what if I get postpartum depression?” I whisper fearfully, “It says here that up to 25% of women suffer from it.”
Ginny looks at me sympathetically. “Love, it’s possible,” she says, “But if it happens, we’re all going to be here to help you through it. And there’s a 75% chance you won’t get it, isn’t there? Look on the bright side.”
Looking on the bright side really isn’t my thing. Ginny can see that I’m still not comforted by this.
“Can I let you in on a secret?” Ginny asks, and sits down on the couch beside me, “And this is something that absolutely nobody in the world – except for Harry – knows. Your parents don’t even know about this.”
“Of course. I won’t breathe a word.”
She takes a deep breath.
“I could barely even look at James when we first brought him home from the hospital,” she tells me, “Every time he’d start crying, I’d completely ignore him. I used to wonder how the hell my mother put up with seven children; I couldn’t even deal with one. Harry used to tend to his feeding, his changing – everything. And I’d barely even hold him. Only when the family were around would I pretend that everything was okay, but once they’d leave, it was all up to Harry again. I felt so worthless – even Phlegm…er, I mean, Fleur picked up on motherhood way quicker than I did.”
“How long did you feel like that?” I ask, now even more terrified than ever. If it can happen to someone as strong as Ginny, it could easily happen to me. I’m emotionally unstable at the best of times. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Ginny cry.
“It lasted about three weeks. But then one day I looked at him, and I mean really looked at him,” she smiles, “And the depression just sort of faded away. I was lucky I suppose that it did go away. I know I go on about how much I want to kill James sometimes –” I raise my eyebrows at her. “– okay, all the time, but I couldn’t love that boy more.” It looks as if she hasn’t spoken about this in a long time. “Sometimes I think he feels closer to Harry because of it…sometimes I think he can sense that I couldn’t love him for the first few weeks of his life.”
“Ginny,” I say softly, “James is a Mummy’s boy. He might pretend otherwise, but he is.”
Ginny smiles at me. “I hope you know that I’ll be here if you do ever feel down about it. And also…could you not tell James about this?”
“Of course I won’t!” I cry, “I won’t ever tell a soul!”
When Ginny leaves, I throw away the article about postpartum depression, deciding that the more I think I’ll get it, the greater chance I have of getting it. I’m starting to enjoy having a quiet house to myself when –
There is only one member of my family who would use a phrase like ‘yoo-hoo’. One highly unwelcome member.
“Rose, you are glowing!” Auntie Audrey beams as she marches into the living room with a tub of soup in her hands, “I’ve brought you mushroom soup with extra mushrooms!”
I hate mushrooms.
“Thanks Auntie Audrey,” I say politely, “I’ll have some a little bit later –”
“There’s going to be a small get-together at The Potters’ this evening,” she says, “To celebrate James’s little Quidditch thing.” There she goes with the use of the word ‘little’ to undermine everything, as usual. I’d hardly call being seeker of the Chudley Cannons ‘little’ myself. “You don’t have to come, if you don’t want to. It’ll just be the family, so if you want to give it a miss everyone will understand –”
“No, I’ll be there,” I tell her, “I wouldn’t miss it.”
“Great! I’ll pencil you in!” She takes a little notepad out of her handbag and scribbles my name down.
“You’re organising this?” I’m a little surprised. Audrey generally doesn’t like to get involved with the Weasley side of the family. And she’s never had much time for James.
“Yes, well James was going to do it himself, but I thought I’d help out instead!”
Okay, it’s true that James couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, but I really don’t see why Audrey needs to pencil the names of family members in for a family get-together. Oh well, I am in no condition to try and ponder the brain-workings of Auntie Audrey.
“Wait a second, does Ginny know about this?” I ask suspiciously. It seems odd that she didn’t mention it just now.
“No, no she’ll be fine with it,” Audrey brushes off my question, “I must dash, darling, lovely to see you! Percy will be stopping by later on!”
Oh joy – Uncle Percy. Before Audrey is even out the door, Teddy floos into the room. There is really no chance of peace and quiet around here.
“Bye Audrey,” Teddy calls as she rushes out the door. She ignores him. “Wotcher Rosie.”
“Hi Teddy,” I grin. He sits down beside me to hug me so I don’t have to get up. “Do you all have strict orders to check up on me or something?”
“Well…yes,” he admits, “Lily made up a schedule. Want to see?”
He pulls a bit of parchment out of his pocket.
Dad (Harry), Mum (Ginny), Audrey, Teddy, George, Bill, Victoire, Dom, Nana, Mrs Tonks, Fleur, Percy, Fred, Grandad, Me (Lily), Roxie, Angelina.
“Wait…is this for the week?”
“No, it’s just for today,” Teddy admits.
“You’re telling me I have…” I count them, “Thirteen more visitors for today? And that’s not even including Mum, Dad and Hugo! Teddy, I’m going to go insane!”
Teddy jumps up, grabs a piece of paper and starts scribbling. When he’s done he throws it down on the coffee table and extends a hand to help me up. “C’mon, we’re going out.”
I glance down at the note.
George, Bill, Vic, Dom, Mrs Weasley, Nan, Fleur, Percy, Fred, Mr Weasley, Lily, Roxie and Angelina,
I’ve taken Rose out for the day. No need to check up on her, she’s fine.
“Where are we going?” I ask as Teddy grabs my coat.
“I don’t know,” he shrugs, “Anywhere.”
We end up at the Muggle Arcades in town playing vintage pacman for most of the day like we used to do when we were younger. I get plenty of stares. I suppose they don’t get many heavily pregnant women in here playing pacman with the bloke they used to be in love with. Afterwards I get such a craving for ice-cream, so we go to one of those American-style diners that seem to have opened everywhere recently, where they serve the best ice-cream sundaes ever. It has all these pissed-off looking waitresses on skates dressed up in stereotypical American diner uniforms, but then they come to take your order with their bored south-London accents and it sort of kills the atmosphere.
“We should do this more often,” I say as we sit and scoff our ice-creams, “We should play arcade games and eat ice-cream more.”
“We should,” Teddy agrees, “Only you’re about to become a mother…”
“I’ll get someone to babysit,” I shrug.
“…and in about seven months, I’m going to be a father.”
I drop my spoon. Then my jaw. He grins at me, but I can’t say anything. I just stare at him for what has to be at least two minutes straight.
“Teddy!” I gasp when I finally find my voice, “That’s fantastic!”
“I know!” he says excitedly, “We haven’t told anybody yet because it’s still early days – but I just had to tell you.”
“This is the best news since…since...sliced bread!” I don’t really get that saying, because I’m not sure what’s so great about sliced bread, but it seems fitting here. “Congratulations!” Why the hell am I more excited about Teddy’s child than my own? It’s probably something to do with the fact that I don’t have to give birth to his (despite the fact that months ago I was more than willing to do so).
“I’m so excited, Rosie,” he grins, “I mean, I’m scared shitless –”
“Hey, welcome to the club.”
“But I’m going to be a dad! I’m going to have a family!”
I’ve never seen Teddy Lupin so excited, and I can understand it. He’s never had a normal family – you know, two parents and kids. He’s going to have that finally and I couldn’t be happier for him…and for Victoire too, I suppose. I can’t believe Dom’s going to be an Aunt and Louis an Uncle! We’re all growing up – and it’s terrifying.
It’s getting dark by the time I arrive home. Mum and Dad are home from work and are getting ready for James’s celebratory get-together at the Potters’.
“Did you have a nice time with Teddy today?” Mum asks, putting in her earrings.
“Yeah, it was just like old times,” I smile, “Er, Mum?”
“Is…is having a baby really as sore as they say?” I ask the same question I asked when I was five.
“No, it’s really not that bad,” she says, but she avoids my eyes as she says it, “You should really get ready to go, Rose.”
“Well…I’ve heard that it’s worse than the Cruciatus Curse.”
“That’s nonsense. Who on earth told you that?” she says nervously.
She sighs and finally makes eye contact. “Honestly, it’s just about the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do. But you know it’s only going to last around fifteen to twenty-five hours, so –”
“F-fifteen to twenty-five?” I stutter, “I thought it’d just be…I don’t know, four?”
“Four?!” she laughs, “Yeah, maybe on your ninth it’ll be four. It’s always going to take longer with the first.” She sees the look of pure terror on my face. “Relax, you’ll do just fine. Try not to think about it.”
“How long were you in labour when you were having me?” I ask. I can’t not think about this. I’ll be doing this in two weeks.
“Oh I don’t know,” she shrugs, “Around six hours…plus another thirty…”
“Thirty-six hours?!” I cry, “That’s a whole day and a whole night and the whole bloody next day! THIRTY-SIX HOURS?!” So that’s why I was grounded so much as a child…
“Rose, don’t worry about it. Once it’s all over, you’ll forget about the pain and have a beautiful little baby…”
I’m not listening anymore. Thirty six hours. How can anyone survive that much pain? Why do I want a natural birth? Why did Mum have another baby after being in labour for thirty-six hours the first time? I keep asking myself these questions on the way to the Potters’ house, and I can barely even hear Dad’s random ramblings about how broomsticks aren’t half as reliable as they were in his day.
“…my old Cleansweep was a good broom – not as fast as the Firebolt, mind, but steady and reliable. The flying charm still hasn’t worn off. I hear the new Nimbus only has a two-year guarantee…”
I will be pushing a person out of me in less than two weeks and all he can talk about is broomsticks. I know it’s fitting, given the circumstances, but I mean – thirty-six hours of non-stop labour! That has to be illegal, doesn’t it? I mean, after say eight hours shouldn’t the Healer have to just pull it out?
“…now Harry’s Firebolt is still going strong, much stronger than the Firebolt 360. Absolute scam, if you ask me. They think they can put a fancy neck on a crappy broom and people will fall for it – well not me!”
I don’t know exactly how the Healer would pull it out – maybe using an ‘Accio’ charm? Or maybe if I just pointed my wand down there and cried ‘Accio!’ the baby would just shoot out! I know it’d be sore at first, but it’d be like pulling off a plaster – painful, but quick. Maybe I’ll try it later when we’ve come home from the party. If I do it now, Dad might give out to me for getting blood all over his new car.
“…I hear the new Cleansweep 3000 is supposed to be superb. Hugo, if you get all ‘O’s in your OWLs, I’ll get you a Cleansweep –”
“Dad, I’m not doing my OWLs for another two years…”
Or maybe I won’t have to go through any pain at all – maybe I’ll be the first woman in history not to feel any pain while having a baby. There’s a first time for everything, after all. It could happen. Maybe the baby will just walk out, smiling happily. There will be no blood or pain or placenta. Everything will be coming up kittens.
“…you know, the Chudley Cannon’s problem is their broomsticks – they all use Firebolt 360s! Maybe I’ll suggest to James that they should switch to Cleansweeps…”
I need to stop thinking about it. I can almost feel the pain by thinking about it. But by the time we pull up in the Potters’ driveway, the thoughts of giving birth are pushed out of my head. There is a red carpet leading up to the front door, where a very large wizard is standing with a clipboard, letting people inside. There seems to be a lot of people queuing up too – I thought this was only supposed to be family?
“What on earth is all this?” Mum wonders aloud as we all climb out of the car. We make our way up the red carpet (skipping everyone else) to the house we’ve been in as many times as our own. The large wizard holds up a hand to stop us from going in.
“This is my sister’s house, mate,” Dad snaps, “Let us in.”
“Nobody gets in unless they’re on the list,” the wizard says roughly.
“We’re the Weasley family,” Mum sighs tiredly. Can’t he tell by mine and Dad’s red hair?
“Which ones? I got Bill, Charlie, George, Percy and families down,” he looks at the clipboard.
“Ron! Ron Weasley!” Dad complains, “Why aren’t we on the list?! I’m only bloody godfather to the bloke the party is for…”
“Ron, calm down – look, here comes Harry!” Mum cries and starts waving frantically so Uncle Harry will see us. Harry rushes to the door.
“Let them in!” Harry demands, looking very stressed.
“They aren’t on the list!” the wizard insists, “I’m under strict instructions –”
“This is my house!” Harry bellows, “Let them in!”
The wizard steps aside and lets the four of us in. The house is completely crowded with people I’ve never seen before in my life, sipping some random pink drink and chatting. ‘Just family’ my arse.
“I have no idea what’s going on,” Harry exclaims, “I come home from work and there’s loads of random people in my house! Audrey has a lot of explaining to do…”
“Audrey invited all these people?” I ask.
“Yeah,” says Harry darkly, “They’re all ‘VIP’s apparently. See him?” he points to a tall, bald wizard talking to two women, who giggle at something he says, “He’s the head of the Quidditch Association of Britain. And she –” he points to a middle-aged woman dressed in very fancy red dressrobes, “is tipped to be the next Minister for Magic. And he –”
“Oh my God!” Dad cries, “Harry, that’s Dragomir Gorgovitch! He’s manager of the Cannons! He’s one of the worst players the Cannons have ever had!”
It’s true too. Gorgovitch holds the record for the most Quaffle drops in a season. He only became manager because nobody else wanted the job. Why are we even celebrating the fact that James is on the worst Quidditch team in the league?
“I know, and the team are here too,” says Harry, but he doesn’t sound too happy about it, “I think Ginny’s about to burst a blood vessel – I wouldn’t want to be Audrey right now.”
“Why would anyone want to be Aunt Audrey?” says Hugo.
I can’t believe the Chudley Cannons are here. They might be a bunch of losers, but there are some really good-looking ones. I know I’m almost nine months pregnant and everything, but still, a girl can dream. I break away from my family and go in search of some gorgeous, but terrible, Quidditch players. Instead I find a very frightened looking Jenny standing in a corner of the kitchen, sipping pumpkin juice.
“Rose!” she cries when she sees me, “Thank God! I don’t know anyone here! It took me ages to get in because my name wasn't on the list...but I didn't know there was a party on, Al just invited me here! He went to get a drink and he hasn’t come back…how are you feeling?”
“I’m fine,” I reply quickly, “Have you seen Ollie Uliack? He’s gorgeous…”
“Who’s Ollie U-”
“He’s keeper of the Chudley Cannons! He’s only blocked four goals all season, but he has the nicest eyes…”
“Rose, focus,” Jenny snaps her fingers, “I am terrified.”
I know that the fact that the house is full of complete strangers is sort of intimidating, but I wouldn’t go so far as to use the word ‘terrified’. “Er…why?”
“Because!” she cries frantically, “I am meeting Al’s parents for the first time tonight!” Oh, I forgot about that. “And it’s not just like meeting normal parents! It’s Harry Potter! I can’t just be like ‘oh, hello Mr Potter, we learned about you in History of Magic!’”
“Calm down,” I try, “Uncle Harry’s very down-to-earth, and Aunt Ginny is lovely –”
“AUDREY!” Ginny’s voice bellows throughout the kitchen, “I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!”
Wow, talk about bad timing.
Jenny goes very white and takes another drink of her pumpkin juice. Al runs into the kitchen after Ginny and holds her back as she goes to lunge at Auntie Audrey, who is chatting to an important-looking man.
“Audrey! How could you invite all these people to my house without consulting me or Harry?!”
“Darling, you have to stop being so selfish,” says Audrey, “This night is about James and his achievement –”
“James isn’t even here!” Ginny yells, “This isn’t about James! This is about you wanting to impress the Ministry so you can get promoted!”
“Oh Ginny, don’t be ridiculous –”
“GET THESE PEOPLE OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
“Mum, relax,” Al tells her quietly, “We’ll deal with her tomorrow – you just have to calm down…”
Al’s always been good at calming people. Ginny visibly relaxes, but the dirty look she is shooting at Audrey doesn’t soften. Audrey leaves the kitchen, thankfully having the common sense to do so, and Ginny starts to breathe deeply to calm herself down.
“Er, Mum, this is Jenny…”
If Jenny was terrified before, I can’t possibly imagine how she feels now. She has experienced the wrath of Ginny Potter. It could have been worse – she could have experienced Harry’s wrath.
“Oh, Jenny, lovely to finally meet you,” says Ginny politely. I think Jenny is sort of shocked as to how quickly Ginny’s temper has changed. It is sort of spectacular how she does it.
“Lovely to meet you too Mrs Potter,” says Jenny. She’s good at this meeting the parents stuff. I can’t say my meetings with Scorpius’s parents went as well…
“Please – call me Ginny, dear, Mrs Potter makes me sound old…”
Jenny and Aunt Ginny chat away for a few minutes and Al and I look on in interest. They seem to have a lot in common…it’s kind of weird. They even say some things at the exact same time. And they’re laughing at all the same things.
“They have a lot in common,” I say quietly to Al, who is apparently trying to ignore the fact and just grunts in reply, “If you think about it, their names even sound the same…they say that some blokes tend to go for women exactly like their mothers…” Al’s eyes widen in the shock of the realisation that his mother and his girlfriend are basically the same person. “Well, I’m off to find Dom!” I try not to laugh at the look on Al’s face as I walk off.
I can’t find Dom, but I do spot Ollie Uliack talking to a rather pretty girl in the living room, and I try my best not to feel insanely jealous. After a few minutes, the word has spread that Audrey completely staged this whole party for her own benefit and when people discover that James isn’t even here, everyone starts to leave. Audrey is standing at the door, begging Ministry officials not to leave. Something tells me that this has done more damage than good for her career. Oh well, I don’t think I’ll lose sleep over it.
“Rose, we’re leaving,” Hugo appears beside me to tell me, “Mum and Dad reckon we should go before Aunt Ginny goes off again…”
The next day Dad stays home from work with me. I appreciate his efforts and everything, but he’s going a bit over the top. I don’t even have two minutes alone to read my book because he keeps checking in to see if I’m alright. I know he’s just worried, but it does get annoying. I’ve read that the last few weeks of pregnancy are the most uncomfortable, and it’s true, especially considering it’s the middle of summer. It’s so warm, Dad has loads of fans turned on around the house and all of the windows thrown open.
On top of that, the baby is kicking non-stop, which I know is a good sign but is still really uncomfortable and it's starting to hurt. At lunchtime, Teddy stops in to see how I’m doing. I’m sprawled out on the sofa at this stage with a cold facecloth on my forehead.
“You two really have to stop worrying about me,” I tell Dad and Teddy firmly, “I’m not going to go into labour for another two weeks! At least! Mum says the first is always late!”
“You can’t blame us for worrying, Rosie,” Teddy grins, “You’d be the same –”
“Yes, you’re right, I’m always fussing over you two when you’re pregnant.”
“Nine months pregnant and still has her sense of humour – that’s my girl!” Dad says proudly, “How would you like some of Dad’s Homemade Pancakes? You know I’m the pancake master.”
Dad’s Homemade Pancakes do sound tempting. “Have we got ice-cream to put in the middle?”
“We certainly do!” says Dad enthusiastically, “Teddy my boy, I’m about to show you how to make pancakes like a pro!”
Dad and Teddy run into the kitchen to make the pancakes. At least I get a few minutes to myself. I return to my book –
Was that a contraction? Where is my book on labour? I need my book! I can’t just jump to conclusions…it probably wasn’t a contraction. It didn’t feel like anything was contracting…no, it was nothing. These weird little pains can happen towards the end. It’s probably just another little Braxton Hicks-y thing. I go back to reading my book.
Ouch! Fuck, that was worse. And it hasn’t gone away like the last one – okay, just breathe. Do not panic. Remember what that weird woman with the dreadlocks taught you…in through the nose and out through the mouth…good…it’s gone. Thank god. See, nothing to worry about.
“The trick is to beat the eggs properly…it’s all in the wrist…” I can hear Dad telling Teddy, “Put some oil in the frying pan…”
Everything is normal. It’s just another normal Wednesday afternoon. Back to my book – maybe I’ll get through more than two pages this time.
OUCH. I let out a little yelp at this one. Why are these pains so close together? And why are they so much worse than what they were this morning? I mean, the ones this morning were nothing to worry about. They weren’t contractions, were they? They were just routine pains that you have to deal with in life - like James Potter. They’re nothing serious.
Oh Merlin. Am I really that thick? I’m in labour and I didn’t even know!
“D-Dad?” I call, “Teddy?”
Dad runs into the living room, wearing Mum’s pink apron and holding a bowl full of pancake batter and Teddy runs in after him holding the frying pan.
“What is it, Rosie? Are you alright?”
“I…I think it’s time.”
A/N - It's time! After 33 chapters it is time! I feel this chapter is very fitting and coincidental considering my cousin went into labour today - I'm still waiting to hear if it's a girl or a boy! Hope you enjoyed the chapter, I'm off to wait by the phone! (",) PLEASE review!
NOTE: To those who are about to say 'Hermione was 17 when she was tortured by Bellatrix' I reply - no, she was 18. Hermione turned 18 that September, just as she turned 12 in September of first year. And to those who said Rose shouldn't be 17 and in sixth year, remember that you must be eleven on September 1st to start Hogwarts, so she would have turned 17 in her sixth year, just like Ron did in his sixth year (see HBP). It's all about the maths!
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