When we last left our heroine, she and Professor Lupin discovered they were having twins, and Melinda performed her "detention" admirably. Plans were made for the birth, and now they only have to wait until she goes into labor. I don't own anything Harry Potterish, although Melinda Rhoades Lupin is 100% mine.


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XXIII: The Conclusion

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Two weeks before my due date and the full moon in June, Harry, Ron, and Hermione again came to stay with us at the boarding house. This time, Ron and Hermione both had their own rooms downstairs, but Harry opted to sleep on our sofa. He didn't mind in the least. It was far better than his cupboard under the stairs with the Dursleys, he said. Our three visitors were even interested in watching me prepare the Wolfsbane and anti-anaemia potions. If not for their collective dislike of Professor Snape, they probably would have enjoyed Potions class. Remus expressed concerns about the potion fumes being bad for the babies but, after another secret consultation with Snape, these fears were laid to rest. And the two weeks before my due date passed with only one incidence of false labour.

The night of the sixteenth, Remus took his potion and then brushed his teeth, kissing me tenderly before going to the Shrieking Shack. He took the anti-anaemia potion with him, as well as a sleeping draught, hoping if he slept through most of his transformation, he would be able to join me at the hospital as soon as possible after the birth. If I went into labour whilst the moon was still up, however, that would only make the situation worse. But we couldn't very well bring a wolf along, regardless of whether he was asleep or not. I doubted claims of a seeing-eye wolf would get us very far with the hospital staff. Besides, because of Professor Snape's warnings, we weren't completely sure Remus was safe around humans, despite taking the Wolfsbane Potion.

At around ten, I said good night to Harry and waddled to bed. Thankfully, wizarding robes make perfect maternity clothes, and this was all I wore by this time. I was fully as big as a house, and I just hoped I would go into labour soon. I certainly didn't want to go overdue. At this rate, I felt I would be the size of Hogwarts castle in another week. Sometime later, I drifted off to sleep and woke at a little before five, in excruciating pain and sopping wet.

My water had broken.

"Harry!" I called from the bedroom. "Harry, ring the doctor!"

Harry jumped from the sofa, wide awake from a dead sleep only seconds before. You have to love the boy for that—always ready at a moment's notice. He was better than a Boy Scout.

"Don't panic, Wart!" He had the receiver to his ear, dialling, as I waddled from the bedroom with my suitcase in hand. His command, I think, was more for his benefit than mine.

"I'm not panicking. I just wanted to make certain you were awake."

"Breathe, Wart! Breathe—"

"I'm breathing, Harry, I'm breathing! Whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo."

"Hello, doctor? This is Harry Potter. Yes, Mrs Lupin is in labour."

Harry covered the receiver momentarily, whilst listening to the doctor's instructions, and pulled his wand to cast a charm on me. Instantly, I was dry and fully dressed. He hadn't told me he'd practised this charm, and I smiled whilst still breathing in short bursts.

"All right. Okay. Thanks awfully. We'll see you soon." He hung up and immediately rang Ron and Hermione's rooms. "Get dressed! It's time!" was all he said to them but, when he'd replaced the receiver, he told me the doctor would meet us at the hospital in twenty minutes. He took my case and he proceeded to help me downstairs. Ron and Hermione joined us in the car park within five minutes, and we were on our way. Hermione drove, Harry coached, I breathed, and Ron fretted.

"What time is it? Whoo, whoo, whoo," I said as we pulled into the hospital's car park.

"Five nineteen," Ron said from the back seat.

"Good. Whoo, whoo, whoo. The moon will set in—whoo, whoo, whoo—twelve minutes. Whoo, whoo, whoo."

"Moony might make it after all," Hermione said, turning off the engine.

"I certainly hope so. Whoo, whoo, whoo."

Inside of another five minutes, I was put into a wheelchair, wheeled into a room for observation, changed into a hospital gown, and placed in bed. I breathed and Harry kindly let me claw his arm to pieces during each of my contractions. On the first check, my cervix was at three centimetres and my contractions seven minutes apart. Ten minutes later, I was at five centimetres and five minutes.

"Do you want me to go back and wait for Moony?" Hermione asked.

"No, Herm. Whoo, whoo, whoo. There isn't time. Whoo, whoo, whoo. He'll Apparate here."

At the next check, after another ten minutes, I was at seven centimetres and three minutes. Then, looking pale and exhausted but extremely happy, Remus walked into the room. He rushed to me and kissed my hand.

"Moony! Whoo, whoo, whoo. I'm so glad you could make it."

"You know I wouldn't miss this if I could possibly help it! Oh, Wart! I love you so!"

"Would you two like a moment alone?" Ron asked.

"I doubt there will be time for that," the doctor said from the doorway.

After one final check, she concluded she was right: ten centimetres and two minutes.

"Remus needs to change into his gown, doesn't he?" I asked as they began to wheel me out of the room, still clinging to his hand as well as Harry's arm.

"I'm afraid you're only allowed one person in the delivery room, Melinda," the doctor said. "Harry is your coach, isn't he?"

"Remus is the father and Harry is the godfather. I insist that they both be there."

"Best not to argue with her, doctor," Remus interjected. "She's frightfully stubborn."

"All right, under the circumstances," the doctor answered, shrugging.

A nurse bundled Remus off to change, and I was wheeled into the delivery room, with Harry telling me to breathe every step of the way. After another few minutes, Remus entered, dressed identically to Harry. At a time like this, it is amazing the things that go through one's mind. I raised my head as Remus walked in and marvelled at how good he looked in his green hospital gown. My legs up in stirrups and with an audience to boot, which has to be one of the most embarrassing postures a woman can affect, I pushed when the doctor told me and only breathed when she said not to push. With every contraction, I felt as if I were being ripped apart from the inside out.

As I am told women in my position often do, I said the most dreadful things to Remus—things that made Harry blush. I didn't mean any of them, of course, and they both knew that. But that doesn't make me feel any better about it now. Also I begged the doctor to simply "get them out of me," and I feel badly about that, too, although the doctor assured me that was normal as well.

I breathed and pushed for what seemed an interminable amount of time, only to have to breathe and push some more afterward. By the time Remus Junior was born at 7:02 A.M., I felt as if I'd had all I could take, but I had to bear down once again. Thankfully, Romulus didn't take nearly as long, as my birth canal had been thoroughly prepared. He was born nine minutes later.

Remus leant down, removing his mask, and kissed me tenderly, and Harry wiped sweat from my brow. I held both of my babies briefly before they were taken away to the nursery and I was taken back to my room. My husband wanted to stay with me, offering to sleep in the hospital room chair. But I told him to go home, take his anti-anaemia potion, and come back the next day when he would no doubt be feeling stronger.

"I'm a big girl, Remus," I reassured him. "I'll be quite fine until tomorrow. Besides, if I'm not, I'm in a hospital!"

Eventually, the four of us convinced Remus to return home and rest and, when I was finally alone, I fell quickly into an exhausted sleep. I woke around ten to find my four visitors were back, along with many more. Remus' parents, Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall, Hagrid—who I understand raised more than a few eyebrows among the hospital staff—and some other students from Gryffindor house. My cheering section apparently spent a great deal of the time they were supposed to occupy with sleeping by sending out owls. My bed was also surrounded with flowers and plants, the most charming arrangement of which was brought by Neville Longbottom, Gryffindor's resident Herboligist. The only person I missed seeing was, of course, Professor Snape.

Whilst leaning on Remus for support, I felt strong enough to walk down to the nursery, so our motley crew headed that way. Everyone ooed and ahed over the bundles of joy with which Remus and I had been blessed, and my husband kissed my forehead no less than twenty times during the brief ten minute viewing. I enjoyed the company, but I tired quickly. Before the nurses had a chance, Professor Dumbledore very sensibly suggested our guests should leave and let me rest. Before the headmaster left, however, he handed me a small package and suggested, with the usual twinkle in his eyes, I should open this one when I was alone. He then pecked my cheek before smiling and turning to leave.

I sent Remus, Harry, Ron, and Hermione away for lunch at noon and opened the mysterious package. The neat, methodical handwriting on the enclosed parchment told me immediately who the sender was: Professor Snape.


Melinda,

I would like to offer my most heartfelt congratulations on the birth of your twin sons. I regret I could not be there to tell you this in person, but I know you understand. Hopefully someday soon I may openly visit and hold them on my knee. Perhaps they will even call me "Uncle Severus." I've always thought I might like that.

In the meantime, please accept this colic potion I've prepared (just in case). It should work much better than the analogous Muggle remedies. I've also enclosed the recipe, which should give you no trouble whatsoever. I'm looking forward to our next "detention." Until then, I remain

Your devoted friend,

Severus


I smiled appreciatively and put the letter and the colic potion away before the remainder of the gang returned. The next afternoon, I was discharged. The three Lupin males and I returned home. Over the previous months, Remus had shown himself to be as capable a carpenter and decorator as he was a businessman. When I was at school, he whiled away his time converting our office into a nursery. My husband was more than indispensable. He was a Godsend.

Not only did Remus change diapers, but he also volunteered for the majority of the feedings in the wee hours. And he still had the patience and energy to nurse me through postpartum depression. He was not superhuman, despite being a werewolf. Nevertheless, it seemed like it through the first few months. I think his delirious happiness of having his own family allowed him to tap into reserves of energy he'd been saving up all his life.

At times, I was even jealous of how good Remus was with the twins, or rather how well they behaved for him. They never cried when he held them, although they often did for me, the temperamental twits. Don't get me wrong—I love my children dearly, but they were so much better for their father than for me. The only time they were consistently quiet for me was when they were nursing.

As absolutely potty as we were about Romulus and Remus Junior however, Remus and I decided two children would be enough—at least whilst I was still at school, and we decided I would resume my birth control as soon as the doctor advised. Soon I would be a third year at Hogwarts, and the thought of three or more babies along with homework was not a pleasant prospect.

When term started in September, Professor Snape managed to bully me into a detention within minutes of beginning the first class. I prepared for said detention by bringing photos of the babies, and this quickly became our preferred method of communication. As long as I wasn't scheduled along with another student, which Snape was careful to avoid, we could talk freely.

On more than one occasion, Professor McGonagall expressed concern about my receiving so many detentions. I assured her, however, that I thought Professor Snape only had it in for me or—perhaps because of my consistently competent performance in his class—he was looking for an excuse for help with some of the more disgusting tasks he must regularly perform. I added how I much preferred his requiring me to gut toads or skin newts to his taking points from Gryffindor House. She could not fail to see the wisdom in this, and I persuaded her for the moment to not speak to Snape about my proliferation of detentions.

In the past my conversations with Professor Snape, while not always focusing on light topics, had at least the virtue of being relaxed. But now he was back in the thrall of the Death Eaters, and his role as spy was taking its toll. Even though Snape wasn't especially afraid of my telling Remus the things we discussed any more, he knew he could trust me not to relate the information to anyone. As a result, he confided almost everything to me.

Snape needed a friendly ear and comfort on more than one occasion. And these I attempted to provide the best way I knew how. I worried about his position daily, almost hourly, but he seemed to be holding up exceptionally well under the pressure. I only hoped my counsel and understanding would provide him the strength he needed to carry him through in the following months, as I hoped it would also help Remus.

But what my husband and my dear friend had to do, to endure, in order to fight Voldemort, I will save for another tale. So for now, this is

THE END.