A/N: Thank you for joining me for this short prologue! One thousand thanks to literally the best beta in the world, oblivionbaby, and to Shayalonnie, whose encouragement where this story is concerned has rubbed off on me in a big way. This will be another novel length story, and will be rated M for good reason. It's (generally) not as dark as The Heir, but please note that I'm including blanket warnings here for sexual content and bad language, as well as torture and child abuse in early chapters. I will be trying for twice monthly updates, but I must warn you that my muse is a fickle, schedule disregarding scamp, and that some months you might see no more than a single chapter, or *gasp* even no chapter. I will also be attempting to update When Strangers Dance on opposite weeks, so if you're following that as well you should see something from me more frequently.
Notice Me Not Charm: I am not the owner of Harry Potter, and am therefore not entitled to make money off of any of this, or claim that I created the characters or world. I am playing joyfully in JK Rowling's tree-house.
The room was sweltering, but the windows would not open. No matter how many times the midwife flicked her wand at the shutters, they stayed stubbornly put, shielding the room's denizens from prying eyes. A bed dominated the room they occupied, but it was empty. The woman it was meant for was sitting instead on a low stool in the corner of the room, her eyes downcast and her face twisted in pain as she groaned aloud.
"That's the way," the midwife encouraged, keeping her place on the edge of the bed, a safe distance from the laboring woman and her companion.
"Merlin, Morgana, and Circe," the woman swore once the clenching, all consuming pain of the contraction had relented.
"Hush now, you don't want him to hear you like this." The blonde at her side spoke in hushed tones, barely raising her voice above the level of a whisper. Her role, it seemed, was to remind the them all of what propriety demanded.
"To hell with him," hissed the laboring woman, her dark hair swinging forward and clinging to her sweat soaked face.
"Don't say that," cried the blonde, reaching out to touch her sister's bare shoulder, only to be shrugged away again. "He'll hear you!"
"I don't give two damns!" The woman's voice spiked on the last word as another surge overtook her, her belly clenching, her body bearing down involuntarily as she arched forward over her midsection. Her chin touched her chest as she fell from the stool onto her hands and knees.
"Good girl," called the midwife. She stood, circling around to get a better look at the woman's progress. Luckily, she had shed her robes hours ago and was left bare to the midwife's gaze. "Not long now. I can see the head when you're pushing."
A soft knock sounded at the door, and the dark haired woman looked up only briefly at the sound as her contraction ended. Immediately, her sister rose, crossing to the door and opening it a sliver so that she could see the person on the other side. The conversation between them was too quiet for the midwife to hear, and it ended just before the next labor pain came.
"A message for you," the blonde whispered when she returned, stroking the dark haired woman's head as she stilled. "He says you're his for a reason, and that he has every confidence in you."
"He doesn't love me, he doesn't love me…" murmured the sweat soaked woman on the floor. Her sister leaned down to her, pressing their foreheads together and meeting her gaze.
"He does. In his own way he does. Now push."
The woman cried out louder than ever as her body swept her up in its intensity once more. Sensing the end, the midwife dropped to her knees behind her, using a hand to touch the crown of the head visible between the birthing woman's thighs. As the contraction ended, the patch of scalp and dark hair did not recede, and the mother whimpered.
"One more big push with the next one, and it will be all over," the midwife promised.
"Did you hear that?" asked the blonde, and her sister nodded.
True to the midwife's word, the child was born with the next contraction, its head emerging as the mother screamed aloud and its shoulders following with little trouble. Quick with her wand, the midwife cleansed the child as the new mother turned over with her sister's help, before reaching for the babe.
"It's a girl," she said, as she handed the infant over, settling it on the mother's belly. The babe was still attached to her mother by the umbilical cord which continued to pulse visibly.
"A girl," echoed the mother, clutching the child to herself, a panicked look on her face.
"I'll tell him now," her sister said, rising to her feet. "Help her into bed," she ordered as she crossed to the door.
Merlin bless this child, thought the midwife, beginning to hoist the dark haired witch up towards the bed, the poor thing will need it.