A/N: Follows straight on from the last chapter...well, almost...

I suppose I ought to warn people that this may be medically graphic. If House MD makes you toss your cookies, this chapter is not for you. If tampon ads on TV put you off your dessert, you may not like this. Oh, and there's a mild sexual reference as well, but nothing more than your average soap opera. What concerns me are Bella's HIGHLY INSENSITIVE comments concerning motherhood – they do not in any way represent my own views.


Chapter 10: Pas de Deux

She could feel the polished wood of the table under her sweat-soaked skin. She could hear gasps, grunts and groans, some of which were her own. There was a tangy taste in her mouth, and there was the scent of a man in the air. Yet she kept her eyes screwed shut, thinking, "If I don't look, I can pretend it's not him, if I don't look, I can pretend he's someone else…"

Bella detected the sensation of fluid leaking out from between her legs, her eyes snapped open, and she found herself tossed out of her dream. And nearly out of bed, too.

It had been more than two months since the events at the Ministry and at the Lestrange castle, and the memories were clearer than a crystal glass of vodka. On a drunken spur of the moment, she and Rodolphus had retreated to a deserted room, with the result that she was now pregnant with his child, to be married to him in about a month's time. Once this wretched "morning sickness" and such was over.

Even though it was the middle of the night, she was feeling slightly nauseous now; her imagination was telling her that she could smell fresh blood. She reached for her wand, whispering "Lumos" in her head.

Bella looked down, and realised there was blood on her sheets.

Her heart skipped a beat.

Perhaps the test had been wrong! Perhaps she wouldn't have to be encumbered for nine tortuous months! Perhaps she wouldn't be demoted to the status of "Mother"! Perhaps she even didn't need to be married to a man she couldn't love...

Over the next few days, Bella noticed that her body had returned to its usual monthly cycle. When her next appointment with the local Mediwitch came up, she thought it safe to break the news to Rodolphus.

"Rodolphus," she said over breakfast one morning, "I don't think we need to see the Mediwitch. I…I don't think I'm having a baby after all…"

"W-what? Bella, are you sure? We did the tests..." he spluttered, nearly choking on his porridge. Rodolphus had been ever so excited, and proud to whisper to the Dark Lord that he and Bella would be raising 'the next generation of noble purebloods'.

"They could be wrong," she replied, casually stirring her coffee. "Anything can be wrong...as you should know..." She was referring, of course, to the latest bungle. With envoys to the Giants and Dementors having been declared a blazing success, Karkaroff, Kelvin and Rodolphus, among others, were confident the Goblins could be won over twice as quickly. But the beasts had snubbed any displays of diplomacy, angering the Death Eaters so much that they slaughtered the entire family in their Nottingham home. While Bella thought their deaths no loss to magical society, she thought she would have done a much better job, avoiding her master's displeasure, and in addition she liked maintaining her reign over Rodolphus.

Rodolphus flushed, but maintained his overall composure. "Well then...you shouldn't be afraid of going to the Midwitch anyway, just to test if the test is wrong?"

Beaten at her own game.

It had been a recurring theme this autumn, which had included her twenty-fourth birthday. She might have snatched a few more moments of attention from the Dark Lord, but they came at the price of her position in the Inner Circle. As much as she loved it when he asked her how she and the baby were, she couldn't help but feel slightly miffed that she now didn't exist without the thing growing inside her. And although Rodolphus did his best to make her comfortable, he was also able to do his best on Death Eater missions, which made her feel useless.

Such as now, when, alone at a clinic in London, safely under the disguise of "Isabelle Lamotte", she lay down on the examining table and bared her stomach.

"Ten weeks, did you say, dear?" said Midwitch Pettigrew, poking about. Bella thought that the short, squat witch reminded her of a ferret. Or a mole. Or some other burrowing rodent.

"It was probably stress that made me skip a few...I've always been...irregular," she said, truthfully.

"And have you always had a bit of bloating with your cycles, dear?" asked the witch, still prodding her.

"Yes," said Bella, quickly and thoughtlessly.

The witch asked Bella a few more exasperating questions. How many days had she noticed bleeding for, exactly? How many days had her monthlies lasted for in the past? Had there been any pain? Did this pain radiate? What kind of pain was it? To say Bella was relieved when the hour was up was the understatement of the year.

"No, my dear, you're definitely still pregnant, but I think it's time we ran some scans…just simple, standard ones, of course…I'm referring you to a Healer…and it might be a good idea to bring your husband..."

Husband...Bella squirmed. But she had a suspicion that something was amiss, and thought the two of them ought to go.

Healer Abbott, whom they met at St Westwick's was the kind of man that made Bella feel sick. He was just too nice. He had blonde hair so bright and buttery that it gave the impression the sun shone out of all his orifices, and even though he must have been forty, he had the chirpiness of a four-year-old.

After applying a cool gel to her belly, the Healer placed what looked like a small, hand-held telescope directly onto her skin and pushed it about. Rodolphus, under the pseudonym "Roland", happily made small talk.

How on earth had she gambled on the wrong person? Rodolphus' tough external appearance was only compensation for his insipid character. Even Karkaroff probably had more nerve.

While she was pondering the disaster her life had become, she suddenly noticed that the prattle had disappeared, the two Healers in the room were speaking in hushed voices, and Rodolphus was holding her hand and looking at her as if she only had a year left to live.

"Mrs Lamotte, I'm sorry to tell you, but…"

It turned out the baby had as much will to live as Bella – by some twist of fate, instead of implanting itself in her womb, it had set up camp in one of the adjacent tubes. There was no choice but to get rid of it, for if it was allowed to grow, it would eventually kill her.

"The way we usually treat an ectopic pregnancy as such," said Healer Abbott, "is with the Extramote potion, which can make your body reabsorb it. The other option…"

"…it'll be fine," said Bella, interrupting him.

"Just listen for once, won't you?" Rodolphus retorted. Evidently stressful situations brought out the best in him.

"…I understand this is difficult for you," said the Healer, continuing to explain why she had to be "fully informed". Apparently there was a risk, either way, that she could be left infertile. It was greater with the Potion, but Surgery meant that she would be incapacitated for even longer, that this thing could happen again, that she would have a scar…

"You don't have to marry me anymore," said Bella, hardly daring to hope, when they had a moment alone together. "You know…how…how I probably can't give you children," she stammered, nearly uttering "now that I'm not pregnant with your brat anymore" by mistake.

"But Bella, I would love you whether you gave me a thousand babies or none…you're brilliant, bold, beautiful…" Rodolphus babbled.

"No, it's just that…"

But the words stuck in her throat, and all she could muster was a smile.


A/N: I did wonder why Bella said...or at least implied that she couldn't have children in book 6 to Narcissa.
I have an O&G tutor called "Abbott", and he's great, so here is my tribute to him. "Westwick" is a combination of the two Children's hospitals nearest to me. Lastly, "The Extramote" is an anagram for "methotrexate", which is used to treat some ectopic pregnancies. Yay for medical in-jokes. I have exams in three weeks and have not started studying. W00t.