Chapter 3 A Reason for a Change
Flash. Rattle. Mumbles. Darkness. Light. Slowly coalescing words. "Ron, can you hear me? Ron?"
"Wha'?" He blinked. "Mione?" His voice sounded rough, far away.
"Auror Weasley? Answer me. Ron!"
"Yeah, 'Mione. Yeah..." He struggled to go back to the darkness. It was comfortable there, quiet, no pain.
"Auror Weasley, I need you to wake now. Come on. You can do it." The persistent tenor voice just wouldn't leave him alone.
"No, I don't want to go. Tell Mum I don't want to." His head thrashed about.
"Auror Weasley, Ronald, I need you to wake up. Do you know where you are?"
Ron's eyes fought against the crustiness that tried to glue his eyelashes closed. "Who, wha'?" he mumbled. Realizing he sounded like a git, he coughed, "No, where am I?" He tried to shift, to move, but he could feel restraints.
"Don't try to move, sir, you're at St. Mungo's Auror Ward. Do you remember what sent you here?" the disembodied voice kept talking.
"Probably like all the other times I've been here. What happened this time?" As he asked, his mind started to awaken, and he could remember flashes of Erik, truck, big house, blades. "Did everyone get out?"
Harry pushed the healer out of the way and leaned over the bed. Ron smiled in relief. "Yeah, Jones fell down the stairs and broke a leg, but is okay. You, on the other hand, are going to be out for a bit."
"The raid, tell me," Ron said shortly. This wasn't the first time he awoke in the Auror ward, probably won't be the last. He was getting tired of it.
"We caught 'em. Like we thought, it was a school. Like the D A. Remember Marrietta? Cho's friend? She was there. She wanted to get back at us. We're still getting reports. No one else is down." Harry knew from experience that this report was needed before anything else. Aurors don't rest until the job was done.
"Okay. Now what?" Ron asked, nodding towards the cup of water nearby. His arm was too weak to reach out to it.
Harry helped him take a sip. "You decided to chop yourself up into a salad. It's a good thing you woke. We were drawing straws on who was going to tell Hermione you bought it."
Ron tried to relax against the pillow. "How bad?" If his pain level was anything to tell by, it wasn't good.
"Auror Weasley, you might want to rest some more. I can get you some potions now." The young blond-haired kid dressed as a full Healer looked frightened.
"Talk," Ron demanded. Harry smiled big and stood back. No one dared beating around the bush with an Auror. Tell it straight, tell it full. All the healers in the ward knew that, well…except this one apparently.
"Uh, sir, you have received numerous lacerations and broken bones. several bones needed regrown. We put you to sleep while the potions worked, but you need to mend for a time."
"You see? That wasn't too hard, right?" Ron smiled like a shark, he wasn't nice when in pain. "How long?"
Nervous, the Healer moved half a step back." You've been out for three days now and Head Healer thinks you might be here for another week or two. Now, there shouldn't be any lasting damage, but we can't be certain for a while." He glanced around. "I think I heard your wife in the hall, I…I'll go get her." He turned and ran out the door.
"What do you think, third year Hufflepuff?" Ron nodded to the door.
"I'd have guessed second, but then I'm not so sure anymore." Harry shared in the ancient joke how these Healers were getting younger every year. The houses depended on how brave they were. Physio-therapists, they agreed, were all be from Slytherin, possibly trained by Umbridge.
"Send an owl to the others. I'll talk to them later," she told someone in the hall. Hermione turned and nearly dropped her stack of papers, "Ron! Ron!" She flung her things into Harry's hands as she ran, or rather waddled, to Ron's bedside. "When?"
"Just now. I think I scared the infant Healer out there. He just ran out of here like he was chased by Filch."
"I keep telling you, dear, be nice!" She kissed him soundly. "I'm glad you're back. These guys were afraid I'd curse them if you didn't wake up." She leaned in closer, "And I would have too," she whispered just loud enough for Harry to hear.
"Had to be kept under three days. New record." She settled into a chair. Her big belly strained against her suit jacket. "What am I going to do with you?" Hermione asked over her shoulder.
Harry was smart enough to not answer. If he could, he would have pretended not to exist. But she caught him breathing. "Yeah, you, Harry. What am I going to do with you?"
"I…er…say goodnight and let me go home to my wife?" He edged to the door.
"Sounds like a plan, only because I'm too tired to fight you right now. Remember to duck next time you see me. Fair warning." She didn't even bother looking at him as he opened the door behind him.
"Fair warning." He laughed as the door clicked shut.
Harry came in every day with updates on the case. A whole ring of Neo-Death-Eaters were being identified. But Ron couldn't get up the enthusiasm he felt he should have.
Eric and his wife sent a card, wishing him to get well. It was nice, but he wasn't getting well fast enough.
Ron grew bored with staring at the ceiling, doing therapies and reading the mystery novels that Hermione had got him hooked on. There was still too much time to think. And what he was thinking on was too serious to ignore anymore. Ten days in one room was too many. The boredom made sleep feel exciting.
"Ron, wake up! It's Hermione. It's time!" He heard in the distance of his mind.
He opened his eyes, "Wha'? It's bloody midnight!"
"It's only ten. She's downstairs, I've come to get you. I got you a chair. Come on!" Ginny swung a wheelchair around and went to grasp his arm to help him up.
"I'm sitting here with my bare arse flapping about, at least hand me a robe," he demanded, as he swung his bandaged legs about. He grabbed it out of her hands and wrapped his bare backside like a towel then dropped into the chair. Before he could get settled, he was yelling for Ginny to go faster to the lift.
Rosie was on her way! Daddy's coming!
"You could have taken a bit longer, Ronald. Maybe even put the robe on the right way." Hermione laughed. "This is going to take hours." She reached out her hand. "But I'm glad you're here."
"I know, but I didn't want to miss a minute of it." He reached over and grabbed her hand.
Hermione squeezed his hand as a contraction rolled over her belly. "Ugh. Sorry, love. That one caught me off-guard." She touched the scratch she had made on his thumb. "Ginny, how long was that one?"
"Four minutes. This might take less time than you thought. Guys, any bets?" Ginny looked up from her watch to her brother and husband. Judging from the glares off Hermione, the men decided not to join in on the game. "I think by five this morning. I'm going to update the family." She turned to Ron, "You get to time her now." She tossed the stopwatch at him. "Okay kids, no hanky-panky. Send out some sparks if you need anything."
"No hanky-panky? Well, that just ruined my evening," Hermione teased, then grimaced as another pain overtook her.
"Babe?" Ron worried. What can he do? They had their plans, but he can't massage her now, he can't walk her around the room, how can he be of any use to her now? He just barely learned how to stand upright. "Love? What can I do?" He felt lost. He couldn't even use his wand. It was busted up in the tractor and he couldn't buy another until he could walk. The third replacement since he started this job.
"Just be here. That's all I need." She held up her wand and a red spark flew out the door.
Ginny poked her head in. "Yeah?"
"Can you angle him better? He can't even reach me." Ginny fussed with the chair until he was placed just right for Hermione's hand.
Less than two hours later, and no one checking on them, Ron noticed something. "I thought this stage was supposed to last hours, you're going fast. That last one was less than two minutes."
"Yeah, it's starting to feel different, too. Can you get the midwife?" She panted as she looked over at Ron, who couldn't walk well, let alone move his chair easily on his own. "Oh, yeah." She sent out another spark.
This time, Molly came in with a smile. "Yes, dear. What can we do for you?"
"Can you get the…oooof, owowowow…" She bent over her belly. "Midwife." She breathed out. "I think…I think…"
In the hall, she could hear her mother-in-law yell, "Healer! It's time!" Before she could catch her breath, she felt like another was waiting for the next to arrive.
"Molly!" Hermione screamed. "Help!"
Molly ran to her side. "Tell me what's going on," she said calmly.
"I've want to pushhhhh."
"Okay, breathe, just like they taught you. No one was in the hall, I'm sure someone with be here soon." Molly moved her wand over Hermione's belly. "Here comes another one. Relax and ride it through. Don't push just yet. That's right. Breathe." She sent out some more sparks through the door.
Ginny ran in. "There's an emergency down the other end, no one is coming. They wouldn't believe me when I said you're ready now."
"I can't wait. This baby's coming now!" Hermione curled into herself and breathed hard. Ron sat, stunned at her power. When she was released, she looked wildly over at Molly. "I need you. I can't stop this." Knowing that Molly was a trained midwife made this her best choice.
Molly prepared her hands. "I'm going to get you a bit more comfortable, alright?" She raised the head of the bed a bit.
Hermione nodded and caught her breath as she coiled up again. Molly waited and as soon as the contraction eased, lifted the sheet up.
"Well, look here, it seems we're going to have another ginger. Hermione, dear, a push or two and she'll be here. Yes, take a deep breath, hold it, there you go, push, harder, push, okay, relax. Ron, do you want to see this?"
With his big nod, his mother flipped a lever on the rear tire then wheeled him around, so he could see the crowning glory of his daughter's head. The next contraction caused the little girl to slide into her grandmother's arms. With a flip and rub on the back, the baby breathed in and let out a screech that could have shattered glass. Molly gently laid the baby on Hermione's chest. "Congratulations, she's a Weasley!"
Ron reached over and grabbed his mother's wand out of her pocket. He ignored her proud look, as he clumsily held it over the cord. "Relashio Gravitum." The cord sealed and separated. The baby girl calmed down as Molly covered her with a small blanket. Shaking, Ron handed his mother back her wand. "Thanks, Mum," he whispered. "Can you…?"
She pushed him closer, so he could touch his daughter.
A Healer rushed through the door. "So, you think you might be close to the end?" He didn't even look at her until he heard the baby start crying again. "Oh, got a bit impatient there, did you?" he said good-naturedly as he lifted the blanket and checked the baby. "I have to apologize. A mother down the hall had some troubles. Everyone is okay, but it was close." He smiled. "Looks like we've got a healthy girl here. How's mama doing?" He lifted the sheet. With his wand he said a charm while Molly assisted in pressing gently on the belly. With ease, the afterbirth was dealt with. "Good job, Grandma. When I saw you in here, I knew she'd be okay."
"How did you know each other?" Hermione said, glancing over her daughter.
"He was my instructor when I became a midwife." Molly smiled down at little Rosie. She tried to wipe a tear from her cheek, but the bloody hands reminded her that she had work still to do. "Now, let's get you both cleaned up, then I can play Grandma."
The Healer checked Hermione's vitals and did an in depth look at the baby, "Alright. Everyone looks perfect. Molly, a dose now and another in an hour. They should be fine."
Molly stayed with them for the first hour. She made Hermione drink a certain herb in sweetened tea that helped promote healing. She bathed the baby, and washed Hermione. Ron needed lessons on how to hold his daughter. The baby needed to learn how to latch on. This was done mainly to take up the time Molly needed to watch for any side effects of birth. After the hour, all was well. Grandma Molly had only one more thing to do. She turned behind her and looked over the printed certificate on the table. Under the line of attendant, she had signed her own name. With a wave of her wand, it was sealed.
Molly noticed Hermione stir in her bed. "Well, little Rosie Jean is needing to rest. You two rest also." She smiled at the new little family. "Sleep well."
"I love you, Mum," she heard Ron say as the door closed.
It was five in the morning. Hermione was sleeping, and Ron had his daughter draped gently against his bare chest. The only illumination was the lights of London shining through the gauzy curtain. Dawn was not far off. Not even the hospital sounds disturbed their peace. He knew he should get some sleep. They would be going home that afternoon. But there was too much going on in his mind, and in his heart.
"You know what, sweetheart? I don't think there's ever been a more wonderful woman than your mama," he whispered.
Her head, all covered with short, wild, red hair, arched up until she faced her daddy. Huge dark blue eyes stared into his.
"One of these days, I need to tell you how amazing she is. You should've seen her. Not even one swear word out of her. I guess I need to quit swearing myself, huh? Don't want to scorch your perfect ears just yet. Grandma Molly would be happy about that. She's been trying for over twenty years." He rocked and stared out the window, deep in thought.
"Rosie? I'm coming to a decision. You see, I'm in a dangerous job right now. I've been hurt more times than I can count. What if I get hurt too much to come home to you?" He used his hand to wipe his eyes. "It's been a long time coming. Your Mama has even been talking about this. Well, a few days ago, Uncle George offered me a partnership, again. Just like he's done every time I've been here. I think…I think it's time to accept. What do you think?"
The new baby wiggled her bum and cooed.
He heard a stir from the bed. "I agree with her. If this is what you want, I would love for you to accept," Hermione whispered in the dark.
"I'm sorry, honey. I didn't mean to wake you." He braced his daughter on his lap and wheeled the chair closer to his wife. The chair was much easier to use now that Molly had released the brake.
"It's okay. It's almost time to feed her." She reached down and took the baby back into her arms. "What makes this time different?"
"Her. Rosie. What if I don't come home one of these times? What if I piss off the wrong person?" he asked. "What if I don't duck in time?"
There was a long pause as his wife settled the baby. He saw a single tear fall down her cheek. "I always tried to ignore that question. I'd never allow you to leave if I thought about it. It had to be your decision." Hermione snuggled the baby closer to her breast.
"I don't know how Harry does it. He has Jamie, and now baby Al. How can he go to work, knowing he might not…?" Ron's voice caught roughly.
"He has Ginny. That's the difference." Hermione sighed. "She grounds him, gives him the strength to go on. Just like you ground me, Ron." She kissed the little red curls. "I wouldn't be able to do what I do without you. Your support is my magic. But, I noticed something this past year, you keep saying over and over again that you were tired. Your nightmares are coming back. You're sleeping less. What do you want?"
He raised his eyes to the ceiling, wondering if his answer was printed on the tiles. "I'm good at what I do. I'm part of a great team. We're still shorthanded. But, babe? I'm beginning to hate it. I hate the uncertainty. I hate the violence. I hate what I face daily. I hate ending up here several times a year." He smiled at his family. "Most of all, I hate the crazy hours away from you."
"Well then, if you hate it, what the hell are you doing there?" she asked, her logical reasoning went straight to the point.
"Your folks will have a hissy fit. Me giving up this high-status job to work in a shop," Ron chuckled. "Leaving you to be the main breadwinner of the family."
"Who cares? It has nothing to do with them." She patted the baby's back. A big burp sounded in the silent room. "See, that's what she thinks of your high-status job."
"You hear this, Rosie? You just convinced Daddy to quit his job. What do you think about that?" Ron rubbed the little back.
Her response was to fill her nappy.
A/N Thanks for sticking to the end. I'm thinking of adding more chapters, dealing with the new family and how they adjust to changes in their lives. Please leave a review. Pretty Please? I really want to know what you think on this. Again, Thanks Beedle. Your advice and critique has been spot on!
P.S. Also, I won't forget about Eric and his wife Linda. They'll be visiting us again, I'm sure.