Chapter 9 : Cat: Bludger
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"That's not the bucket. My water just broke."
My plate crashed to the floor. This wasn't possible, not now.
"My water broke," Kiwi enunciated slowly.
"But you're not due before a week!"
"Do you honestly think the baby cares?"
I Vanished the pasta and shards of porcelain with my wand, granting myself some time to think.
"Okay," I breathed deeply, "what do we do?"
Kiwi laughed. "I'm supposed to be nervous, not you."
"It's not funny," I shrieked, "you're going to deliver on a measly kitchen floor in London, with no one competent to help you, and the baby will have fins!"
She started laughing even more, and eventually I gave in as well, until she doubled over in pain.
"Shit," I rushed over to her.
"I'm fine" she sat back up to a normal position. "It's just a contraction."
I looked at her doubtfully. "It's going to get worse though, which is why I repeat, what do we do?"
"I'm going to take a bath, then walk around the flat, then get to Saint Mungo's. It should take several hours seeing as this is my first child, so you can go to your match and come back without me delivering."
"I'll leave at the last minute, thank you very much. I'm not leaving you on your own, and I can miss out on Oliver's pep talk."
She grinned at me, a little weakly. "Why, are his speeches that bad?"
"You can't even imagine," I rolled my eyes.
Ever since she and Oliver had broken up a month ago, Kiwi had made huge efforts to talk about him normally, acting as if nothing had happened. Oliver refused to talk about her altogether, snapping and sulking whenever she was mentioned in a conversation. Getting them back together was proving to be impossible, as hard as we all tried.
And Merlin, had we tried.
Greg was bearing a bruise on his arm for having tried to corner Oliver and knock some sense into him. Tim had been assigned laps for asking about Kiwi. Benjamin had a black eye for loudly and clearly declaring in Oliver's face that now that Kiwi was free, he was interested – Oliver had "accidentally" hit him in the face with a Quaffle. I was thoroughly ignored, addressed only by shouts of "RODRIGUEZ!" when I had to cooperate with Oliver dearest.
On Kiwi's side, I had seen her walk out of her room with red and puffy eyes, blotchy skin, her arms cradling her round stomach. I had walked in on her packing, holding a photograph of Oliver and her with shaking hands, obviously debating whether or not she should take it to Canada. Eventually, she had decided against it and had thrown it into the bin.
Unknown to her, I had gone and taken it out again, fixing the shattered glass frame. The picture was one of the first that we had taken of them. It was in black and white, Kiwi with her hands behind Oliver's neck, Oliver holding her by the waist, Bludger in between. They were forehead to forehead, and both turned their heads to smile at the camera, Oliver dropping a brief kiss on Kiwi's cheek sometimes. The picture was now hidden at the bottom of Kiwi's suitcase, where I had stuffed it when she wasn't looking.
I didn't know what to think of Kiwi's departure. I was happy for her: she was part of an elitist program and would be doing what she loved the most. I was also a bit depressed, because she was my best friend and I wouldn't be seeing her anymore like I did now, every day, with the possibility of teasing her, laughing with her and sharing secrets. But most of all, I was angry because she was fleeing the man she loved, and was heartbroken about it.
Honestly, I know I'm a girl as well, but we have such a complicated logic.
Kiwi was walking around the living room, holding her back, while I watched her, anxiously biting my fingernails as she gritted her teeth through another contraction.
"How many minutes now?"
I checked my watch. "Seven minutes since the last one. You're almost there."
She gave a wry smile and continued her rounds.
An eternity after that – or so it seemed to me – I finally let out a victory cry. "Five minutes! Time to go!"
I caught her by the arm, her suitcase in my other hand, and turned on my heel, Apparating directly to Saint Mungo's.
On Healer Weber's orders, Kiwi had changed into the standard blue hospital robes, and was now walking around her room – again.
"This hurts!" Kiwi thundered, her hands pressed against her back. "I'm not going to – FUCKFUCKFUCK it's painful!" Her eyes narrowed. "Why are you still here?"
"I can leave if I'm not wanted," I huffed, annoyed.
"Sorry," she bit her lip. "I didn't mean it that way. Weren't you supposed to have a match though?"
"I'm not going," I shrugged.
"What? You have to!"
"I'm not going. I can't leave you to do this on your own."
She opened her mouth to retort, but let out a groan instead, and fastened her fingers around my wrist, gripping me tightly.
"See why I have to stay?"
"Yeah," she grinned. "What if you're fired?"
"I can't. They have to keep me at least two years."
She poked me in the arm. "You are a terrible manipulator."
"Eight centimetres, Miss Willows. You're almost there!"
"YOU'VE BEEN SAYING THAT FOR THE PAST FOUR HOURS, FOR FUCK'S SAKE!"
I pushed a strand of hair off her sweaty, strained face. "Shut up and let them do their job, grumble-guts."
She tightened her grip around my hand. "Cat?"
"Do you think Oliver will ever forgive me?"
"I don't know," I answered truthfully. "I think he will… One day."
Her eyes brimmed with tears. "I wish I'd told him before. I wish he was here with me... I mean, I'm glad you are, but…"
"I know. It should have been him," I whispered.
She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "It doesn't matter," she declared firmly. "I'm going to give birth to this baby no matter what, bring her up with or without Oliver, and if he's not there, I will."
She smiled weakly. "I think Oliver may have been right after all."
"Well, we'll be finding out soon," I squeezed her hand. "Hey, do you mind if I just go and get myself a coffee?"
"Course not. Go ahead."
I grinned. "Phew, I couldn't stand your hormones anymore."
The last thing I saw as I shut the door was Kiwi's raised middle finger.
The coffee was far too hot, and it burnt my throat, but I was glad to be out of the stuffy little room. Though I had been teasing, I really was having trouble being with Kiwi.
Ever since mum's death, I deeply hated hospitals. The heat, the agitation, the smell of cleaning products, the spotless white walls, all of it made me dizzy and brought back memories of mum.
She had been in a different ward. The room was neutral, too neutral: I knew it would serve someone else once mum was gone, and that was something I couldn't accept.
Mum lay, pale and small, her beautiful black hair shaved off to reveal a blue bruise covering the left side of her face. I had gingerly taken her hand in mine, trying to warm it up. Her wedding ring was still there, its blue sapphire glimmering against her white fingers, a shock of colour the exact hue of her eyes.
I told her how much I missed her. Dad wasn't the same without her. He never sang in the kitchen like he used to before. When I came back from Hogwarts every weekend to see mum, he would put on a brave face, but I could see wrinkles that had not been there before, signs of fatigue and despair. Maya had started her training as a Healer, spending her days working to try and forget about mum, but how could she when she knew that they were so close to one another?
I wanted so badly for mum to react, to flutter an eyelid or press my fingers, but there was nothing. She had been unconscious for almost six weeks, and there had been no progress.
That evening, we took the decision to stop maintaining her alive artificially, and I had shattered.
I angrily drew a breath, blinking hard several times to push back tears. Kiwi needed me, and that was the only thing that mattered now.
"BLOODY FUCKING SHIT AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGH FUCK SHIT FUCK DAMN SHIT FUCK HELP MEEEEEE!"
"Push, I can see its head, you're almost finished there."
"Oh my God, it is a baby! I see its head too!" Bleurgh. I should not have looked. Too much blood – it's disgusting.
"Of course it's a baby, you idiot, did you expect a broomstick?" Kiwi's red face scrunched up as she winced and let out another stream of curse words.
"Come on," I encouraged her soothingly, shutting up the panicked voice screaming inside my head for me to get out of the room. "Just a few minutes now, and your baby will be here."
She smiled through the effort, tensing, giving one almighty push, and then…
"It's a girl!" The nurse cried out happily. "You have a girl!"
Tears streamed out of Kiwi's eyes as the baby started crying, and despite her exhaustion she bore the widest smile I had ever seen on her face.
"Can I hold her?"
The nurse wrapped the baby in a blanket before handing her over.
Kiwi's mouth dropped as she carefully cradled the bundle. "Hi baby," she whispered. "I'm so happy you're here. I can't believe you're here. You're so beautiful, darling."
I couldn't help but feel like I was intruding until Kiwi turned to me.
"Yes, you! You're her godmother, aren't you?"
"I'm her godmother." I felt a bit faint. "I think I might need a glass of water."
My knees were shaking, feeling like jelly. I practically ran out of the room, hearing Kiwi behind me.
"Leave her alone, she'll come back. She doesn't like hospitals."
I smiled as the door banged behind me. Kiwi had just reconciled me with hospitals, I only needed space to think and let the emotions flow out. I leaned against the wall, burying my face in my hands, letting tears leak down my face. I was so tired, and so happy, and so confused, I didn't know what to think anymore.
A rough, warm hand stroked my cheek, and I looked up at him.
"How did you know I was here?"
"I guessed. You had to have a good reason to miss this game. Oliver is furious by the way, but that doesn't matter."
He pulled me to his chest, despite my hospital robes stained with sweat and tear and – was that blood? Merlin. I rubbed my nose against his shoulder, inhaling the familiar scent of grass and soap. "Did you win?" My voice was muffled by his body.
"Nope," he replied cheerfully.
He laughed, and held me tighter, the sound making my ears tingle. I looked up at him, realising how reassured I was to have him with me. "I have to tell you something."
"What, is it your turn to be pregnant?"
It was my turn to laugh. "Dear Merlin, no."
"I'm listening then."
"I love you."
His eyes crinkled, and he smiled, looking me in the eye. "I love you too."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure," he rolled his eyes. "And I know this is early, but I'm also sure about this."
I watched amused, then in shock, as he let go of me and dropped down on one knee.
"Carmen Margarita Rodriguez, will you marry me?"
"What?" I could barely register his words.
"We've been dating for eight months, Cat. I can't take it anymore to hide our relationship. And I love you, I want to wake up next to you every day and see you carry my children, and I know I sound cheesy, and it doesn't have to be now, because we're only eighteen but Cat, will you marry me?"
I stared at him in disbelief. Then blinked. Then grinned. Then crouched down next to him, catching his lips with mine. When I drew back, we were both smiling.
"Yes, Timothy Edward Bailey, I'll marry you."
I didn't go back to see Kiwi before the next day. When I walked into her room, she was sitting cross-legged on the bed, breastfeeding Bludger. She smiled at me, trying to see my face behind the enormous bouquet of poppies and wild daisies that I was carrying. After having set these in a vase, I bent over, giving her a hug while trying not to squash the baby.
"You left," she commented. "Why?"
"Too many emotions. I hadn't come back to a hospital room since mum."
She nodded. "I know. Thank you for having stayed with me nonetheless."
"You'd have done the same for me."
We had a moment of silent understanding, broken by Bludger who sighed happily and made a few bubbles. Kiwi wiped her daughter's mouth with a small cloth, then looked at me expectantly.
I carefully let her put the baby in my arms, resting her head in the crook of my elbow. Bludger had a small white cap on (I think it looked like a sock, but Kiwi didn't need to know that); a pair of striped pale yellow pyjamas; round, apple-like cheeks; tiny hands curled into fists with even tinier fingernails; and I melted at the sight of her.
"So, what did you call her in the end?"
Kiwi laughed. "I forgot you didn't know. Cat, meet Grace Helen Willows; Grace, Carmen."
"Willows?" I asked quietly.
"Oliver didn't turn up."
"This is getting dumb."
"Shut up," I clamped a hand to her mouth.
We laughed, and the noise made Grace open her eyes a crack, just enough for me to see them.
"Holy shit," I exclaimed, incapable of stopping myself.
"I know," Kiwi sighed. "It's going to make matters even more difficult."
Grace's eyes were an identical replica of her father's.
I came back regularly for the next two days, bringing home-made food, a change of clothes for Kiwi, and, eventually, Tim.
Kiwi's eyes almost fell out of her head when we walked in holding hands.
"Tim? Tim is your boyfriend?"
"Fiancé," I corrected, smiling.
"You… What? You're engaged? Since when?"
She looked a bit deranged, and I was starting to worry that she'd have a heart attack then and there.
"The second of July."
"YOU PROPOSED TO HER ON THE DAY GRACE WAS BORN AND YOU GUYS DIDN'T TELL ME ANYTHING?" Grace shifted in her sleep, and Kiwi immediately dropped her voice, whispering very loudly instead. "How dare you? Both of you!"
We grinned sheepishly.
"It's still very unofficial. I didn't even get her a ring yet."
"But that's just a detail," I added brightly.
Kiwi opened and shut her mouth, letting her jaw slack, before starting to giggle uncontrollably. "That is so typically you," she wheezed. "You are so unconventional, all I can think of right now is Liam's mum's reaction."
I roared with laughter, Tim looking puzzled by my side.
"She's a crazy, prim bitch," Kiwi explained through two bouts of laughter. "If you honestly plan to marry Cat, you'll see what we mean."
"You'd better have a good excuse, Rodriguez, for missing out on the game and all the practices this week."
Oliver was a wreck. I'd never seen him like this before, blue and black circles rimming his stormy eyes, his jaw set aggressively. His nose was still bruised from the punch he had received from the very person I had just visited in Saint Mungo's.
I decided to be exceedingly blunt. "Yes, I was at your ex-girlfriend's side while she delivered your daughter, and continued to go and see her after that for support considering that you didn't."
At the mention of the word daughter his expression flickered, softening for a very brief moment – before going steely again.
"I had no reason to go and see her. She lied to me."
"Oliver, spare me the blame game. You and Kiwi are both as dumb as one another in this situation, and just as responsible." He crossed his arms over his chest, angry, but I continued. "Kiwi has been crying her eyes out when she thinks I don't hear her. She barely eats anything, and only smiles when she's holding the baby – your baby, might I add. She tries to forget you, but it's not working. You haven't been sleeping since you find out Kiwi was in labour – don't deny it, Greg told me – , you're temperamental, snappy, look like you've come back from a war, and honestly, both of you are a pain in my arse."
"Well, it's a pity she can't forget me because, personally, I'm over her."
I could have bashed his head against the wall. "You're lying, and she won't forget you, Wood. Your daughter has your eyes, her middle name is your mother's, and genetically speaking she's half you, poor kid. "
"Well good for her," Oliver shrugged. "Like I give a fuck."
He was asking for it. I am not to be blamed for slapping him.
"OW!" He rubbed his reddening cheek. "What was that for?"
"For being a prick. Kiwi's leaving for Canada next week, if ever. I'll be at practice tomorrow." I fished around in my pocket. "And just in case you'd like to know what Grace looks like so you can see her at least once in your miserable twat life, this was taken this morning."
I placed the photograph on his desk and marched out. It was all up to him now.
"This is it," Kiwi smiled nervously. A baby carrier hung off her shoulders, but Grace was in Tim’s arms.
We were standing in the middle of the Ministry Atrium, looking completely out of place in comparison with the few wizards rushing past in their work robes. Kiwi wore short denim overalls, a white tank top, and open leather sandals; I was wearing a cherry-patterned summer dress; Tim was in shorts and had only pulled on a shirt because we had to leave (much to my regret).
I pulled her into a hug. "You’ll be fine."
She held me back, tightly. "I know."
"Write to me."
"I will," she promised.
She took Grace from Tim, slipping her into the carrier, and smiled weakly at us. "Bye, I guess." She pushed the door labelled International Floo Network – Canada, disappearing before either of us started crying.
I slipped my hand into Tim’s, leaning my head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around me.
I didn't see Kiwi for the next five years.
A/N: Hello, lovely readers! I wanted to get this chapter up for my birthday, which was on the 21rst, by the way, but real life got in the way again...
Plus, my neck is blocked, I couldn't pass my sports exam because of that, and all in all it has been a long week. But anyway.
So, how did you like the chapter? Yes, it was a girl since the beginning, and her name was always Grace. Are you happy? (Sorry Siriusly89, I know you wanted Noah!)
Did you like the insight on Cat's past? Her support of Kiwi despite her fear of hospitals? What about Oliver's (stupid) reaction and his (even stupider) decision not to see Kiwi and Grace off? Did you really think I would be nice and give them a romantic scene at the end (teeheeheeheehee)?
Most of all, who saw Cat/Tim coming? Who's happy about it? Who shipped her with someone else?
GIVE ME YOUR THOUGHTS, I COMMAND YOU (nicely).
You guys are so amazing. Do you think we can get to 100 reviews on this story? It should be around 15 chapters.
THANK YOU ALL, AWESOME PEOPLE :)
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