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Shades of Blue
“If your parents never had children, chances are you won't, either.” -Dick Cavett

It was raining, that’s the first thing I remember. It had rained all week and it was the kind of downpour that seemed to go one forever, alternating between a deluge and a faint mist. The rain made the first week of November miserable for most; for me however, it was the fact that my wife was overdue, losing her sanity fast, and taking me with her.
  
Six days past the due date Ginny woke me up at five in the morning, apparently having been inspired in a dream that we should rearrange the furniture. “Harry, the layout of the living room is not very functional,” she pointed out. “But the way I saw it in my dream… It would just be a better flow.”

My overly pregnant wife was having feng shui visions and I became her co-conspirator in madness because it was just so much easier that way. I was struggling with a million thoughts of my own and the least of it was the fact that I was becoming more certain everyday that I had no idea how to be a father. How could I judge her for her incomprehensible reasoning?   

So I moved furniture even though I wanted to point out that it was Saturday and therefore my day to stay in bed until eleven, as was my custom; even though I so badly wanted to tell her that the layout of our home was actually very functional, but I knew such protestations would be fruitless and might just serve to antagonize my pregnant wife more. So I kept my mouth shut and spent one of my few precious days off repeatedly rearranging our apartment, until it looked just as it did in Ginny’s dream.

The next day she woke me up to ask me if I could go get some peanut butter fudge from her favorite bakery, Panis Vitae. Naturally, her favorite bakery was on the other side of town and it was raining with a vengeance. I complied all the same because she was pregnant and she gave me that sleepy smile I loved so much and I was gone; I should be immune to that smile since it was part of what put us in this state to begin with, but I am not always a very rational creature when it comes to my wife. I know this and I have submitted to a higher power on this issue, but all the same I am not very optimistic to making a full recovery from my addiction to Ginny Potter.

Besides, this was the not the first time I had to make a food run for my wife by a long shot. There were countless times when I had to go on a quest for obscure food items and obscene combinations such as Pad Thai noodles with strawberry jelly.

I came back with her fudge, but by then she’d had lost interest in it. Naturally. She instead filled herself up on two-day old baguettes and jelly babies she melted in the microwave.

I have learned to put aside my aversion to my wife’s perplexing food amalgamations.

In fact, in the past nine months I’ve learned a lot of things I never knew. For instance, I learned that just because my wife asks my opinion, it doesn’t actually mean she wants it. Oh, there are times when she wants to know what I’m thinking, but there are just as many moments when she wants to me think what she’s thinking. Mercifully, she gives me clues when I’m allowed to have my own thoughts.

When she says things like: “What do you want to eat tonight?” She really wants to know what I want. However, it’s when she says something like: “The color of the nursery really isn’t a good color, is it?” See the difference? The answer is in the question and I should agree or else risk yet another Epic Battle Over Something Stupid, like what color the baby’s furniture should be and what middle name we would give him.

So I spent the rest of my Sunday, my other free day, repainting a room that I had only just painted a few weeks ago. I missed the Quidditch exhibition game I’ve had tickets to for over a month. Ron went with George instead. At least I have peace.

Hermione came round that night for Ginny. She made a casserole and sympathized with her being overdue. It was good she was doing it. I still had paint in my hair and strangely my capacity for sympathy was running low.

Hermione loved the new lay out of the furniture. Ron merely took one look at the living room and asked: “Why is all the furniture pointing away from the TV?”

I merely shook my head. How could Ron Weasley possibly understand the complex relationship between furniture and its location when I barely understood it myself? How could I explain to Ron, whose wife had yet to be pregnant, that I have been increasingly held hostage to a very moody and insane creature carrying my child? How can I tell him of all the Epic Battles Over Something Stupid that earned me nothing but annoyance and a very angry wife? Ron will just have to find this out for himself.

Hermione agreed that the new color of the nursery was much better than before. Ron, however, didn’t see a difference. “Wasn’t it always blue?” He asked confusedly.

“It was Robin’s Egg blue before,” I said tiredly. “This color is Ocean Breeze blue.” I didn’t tell him about the other four shades of blue we went through to get to a color Ginny found suitable.

Ron smirked, but said nothing. He was beginning to see the madness. I seized by a sudden moment of lunacy myself and wanted to tell my best friend to run away, to adopt, to always make sure Hermione doesn’t ever forget to take the pill each morning, to keep a healthy-sized emergency stash of rubbers, and to never believe the lie that its “just this once” because once is all it takes.

“My feet are killing me,” Ginny commented, sinking into one of the oft-moved couches. I knew that meant I was probably going to be massaging her feet after Ron and Hermione left.

“Oh, I bet,” Hermione said, sitting next to her. “When do you go to the doctor next?”

“Tomorrow. We may have to induce labor soon. I can’t wait to get him out of me. I’m so nervous, though,” she admitted. Ron and Hermione could not understand how nervous we were. I was going to be father, but I never really had one myself. How could I be any good?

Hermione and Ginny talked on about pregnancy which was of great interest to Hermione. As for Ron and I, we retreated to the kitchen and he filled me in one the glorious exhibition match, lovingly describing each spectacular score and save, declaring it as probably the best game he’d ever seen, and then added sheepishly: “It was good you weren’t there, though. All this rain made it freezing. I was really cold.” I knew what he was doing, but I could not be helped at this point. I was going to be a father soon.

I left work early the next day so I could go with Ginny to the doctor. Long before marriage and pregnancy, I used to think there were certain things about my body and my wife’s body that we would never have to talk about together. Every trip to the obstetrician continually proved to me how wrong I was. For any and all issues, problems, and concerns, Dr. Grace had an answer. Ginny, I suppose because she was a woman, had this weird, almost insatiable, need to share every aspect our lives with our doctor. 

“Many women have flatulence problem at this stage of the pregnancy,” she told us. To which Ginny said to me: “Well, now we know what my problem is, what’s your excuse?”

“Women’s sex drive often decreases around this time,” She informed us during another appointment. “There are some things you can do as a couple to help, er, release Harry’s tension. Would you like a pamphlet?”

“NO!” I shouted; Ginny took it anyway; it was a pink tri-fold brochure that had the title “Sex During Pregnancy: Some Creative Ideas.” 

“There’s also a great section on sex positions for pregnant couples,” Dr. Grace added. I wanted to melt into the floor at the moment, to disappear into nothing.  

Dr. Grace wanted to induce labor on Friday. I only had to hang on for three more days and then I’ll had to do was raise a child.

There have been moments during this pregnancy when I was prone to fits of paranoia; I would sometimes think about all the couples with children I knew and became irrationally convinced they were laughing at me behind my back. For all the congratulations and advice Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Percy, and George gave when we became pregnant, they somehow left out the part where life completely spirals into unrecognizable madness. They all gave me too many knowing smiles; I’ve suspected they were enjoying my misery of having to contend with my uncontrollable, pregnant wife and my jitters at my impending fatherhood the same way a sixth year enjoys watching fifth years struggle with their O.W.L.s examination.

Been there, done that.  

Two days before she was scheduled to be induced, Ginny got so mad at me she wouldn’t talk to me. It was my fault; I don’t know what possessed me to sabotage the peace and start up another Epic Battle Over Something Stupid. She asked me exchange her Peek-A-Boo bra that night because the one her mother got her was too small. (A Peek-A-Boo bra, by the way, is not nearly as fun as it sounds.) It was all too much and I refused.

“It’s raining!” I snapped. “I just got home from work. What did you do all day?”

“I was cleaning! This place is filthy.”

It really wasn’t and this annoyed me inexplicably. “It’s fine here. It’s all in your head. Just like everything else.”

“What does that mean?!” She shrieked. “Are you saying I’m crazy?”

“I’m saying that I now know why your father spends so much time in his shed in the backyard.”

“You leave my mother out of this!” She screamed.

“I will if you stop doing such a fine impersonation of her,” I replied scathingly. I knew this was a sore spot for my wife; Ginny had a secret fear that she would one day become her mother.

“I am not my mother,” she seethed. “And I’m not crazy!"

“HA! That, my dear wife, is a lie. A very fantastic lie. Pregnancy is socially-acceptable psychosis and you are the queen of the psychotics!” And I am your king, I thought wildly.

She roared angrily and in a flash, she reached for the nearest thing and threw it at me. The nearest thing happened to be her Peek-A-Boo bra; I was more shocked than anything else and just stood there, staring my furious wife through the bra straps wrapped around my face. I was suddenly filled this thought: I want my wife back. She wasn’t always this way- this ball of nerves, crazy mood swings, and disgusting food cravings. She was sexy and sane once. We were normal and free, I remember it. 

“His middle name is going to be Arthur, not Sirius,” she screamed before storming into our bedroom and slamming the door.

I defeated Lord Voldemort. You wouldn’t know it to look at me right now, a tangled, nursing bra on my head, Ocean Breeze blue paint in my hair, and a seething pregnant wife a room away. There was a time when I defeated one of the most evil wizards to ever live. I did it so people could live in a better world, a world that was more tolerant and peaceful. It was a very hard fight and I never once backed down from it, walking even to my kind-of death. I suppose in that way, my wife is a very remarkable person; all the death eaters and dementors, giants and werewolves, and even Lord Voldemort himself could not do what Ginny Potter has done: I surrendered; I exchanged the bra. The cashier gave me a knowing smirk and I almost throttled the kid.

When I came back home, my pillow and sheets were sitting on the couch. I laughed softly at this. I am a man who has done hard time on this sofa so this was no punishment. In fact, I thought as I settled in, I might actually get a full night’s sleep without sharing a bed with a noisy woman who was up every hour to go to the bathroom.  

Yet, my peaceful night’s sleep was interrupted by my wife. She woke me to apologize. This was the other part of the hormones- the weepy, reconciliatory hormones that come after the angry ones.

“I have to be at work in a few hours,” I complained.

“I’m so sorry I threw my bra at your head,” she said. Not nearly as sorry as I was that she did it, I thought.

She curled up next to me as best her belly would allow; she nuzzled my neck and made whimpering sounds. I remember this Ginny, I thought. This was the very same person who persuaded me to go ahead even though I didn’t have a condom and she was out of birth control because “it’s just this once.” I didn’t need much persuading at the time.

“Dr. Grace made a list of things we could do to help trigger labor,” she said suggestively. I knew of the list, it was full of things like spicy food and long walks, but I was particularly interested number two: Intercourse. I vaguely remember sex. I was quite good at it once, I think.

Even though it was four in the morning, even though I had to get ready for work in a few hours, I followed my wife in to our bedroom. She giggled and my heart lifted; I always loved her laugh and I had missed it so much these past weeks. I kissed her deeply and she moaned in pleasure, just like I remember; it was a beautiful sound.

“Stop,” she said suddenly, her voice full of fear.

“What did I do?” I asked quickly, terror rising in me.

“I need to go to the hospital,” she said quickly, sitting up.

“Did I hurt you?”

She shook her head and reached for her wand off the night stand; she flicked it and the end lit up. Her face was illuminated and there was a worried look etched in her countenance; she was clutching her stomach.

“My water broke,” she said numbly. I shook my head and mumbled “right”, not sure what that meant, but certain I was supposed to know. “I think I’m going into labor.”

The word “labor” hung in the air for a moment and then a feeling of dread and excitement curled inside my stomach, taking a tight hold of me. I helped Ginny into her coat, fumbled around for her most comfortable pair of shoes, sent an owl to her mother in shaky handwriting, and took her to the hospital. All the while, a small voice of blind panic was screaming in the back of my mind, saying all the things I feared to be true about becoming a father. I held Ginny’s hand during the labor, kept up a relentless flow of encouragement, silently battling my own quiet fears that this child had created in me.

"Would you like to hold your son?” The nurse asked me.

No, I do not want to hold my son. I want to go back in time before all this happened because to have a child is to face myself in a way I’d just rather not ever do.

Automatically and traitorously, my arms reached out for my son. He was wailing unhappily and his tiny fists were trembling. He was unbelievably small. I could not believe that something that small would one day grow into someone the size of me. I remember I was shaking a little at finally meeting the very person who had had me so wound up for the better part of a year.
His wailing subsided just long enough for him to briefly open his eyes and looked me straight in the face. He was so tiny he could not know what that look did to me, but it was that moment that it came to me, not like a force or a flood, but a quiet realization of something I think I knew all along, even before we became pregnant. I could be a father. Without warning, a fierce love welled up inside of me for my son. I am a father.

I continued to stare at him in wonder and understood why Ginny had obsessed over making everything perfect for him- cleaning incessantly, reading a million parenting books, asking our doctor a billion embarrassing questions, and painting the nursery five different shades of blue until she found the right color for him. Our son was worth it- all of it, all the madness.

“Welcome to the world, James,” I said because what else do you say to a person the first time they come into the world? You greet them. It’s just polite that way.   

I looked over to my wife who was staring at me jealously as I held her son. Her dark red hair was plastered to her face and neck from sweat. Her countenance was pale and strained, but her eyes were brimming with adoration. All the reasons I loved her came flooding back to me. 

“You want to hold him?” I asked.

She nodded and reached out for him, taking him greedily and pressing him to her chest. “Hello James,” Ginny whispered. “I’m your mother. I made you. Your father helped a little.”

I rubbed my face and laughed. I laughed hard for several minutes and the maternity nurses looked at me like I was mad. And I was, a little, but I didn’t care because after nine months, the laughter was cathartic.

I went into the waiting room which was packed full of anxious redheads. They all stood and looked at me quietly. “James Arthur Sirius Potter,” I said.

“What a name,” George quipped.

Arthur and Molly beamed.

Sometime just before we left the hospital, I was rocking my son to sleep. I thought of my father briefly and wished so hard, in a way I hadn’t done since I was a little boy, he was here. My parents had died for me, I have always known that, but it wasn’t until I met my son did I finally and truly understand it.

“Smile,” Hermione called; I looked up and was reward with a bright flash of light. Yet another picture.

Ron and Hermione were smiling goofily at me. They exchanged glances before she said: “You should tell him.” 

“Tell me what?” I asked tiredly.

Ron smiled at sheepishly. “Er, Hermione’s pregnant,” he said quietly.

“How about that? Congratulations.”

Hermione was beaming irrepressibly, her hand pressed firmly over her still-flat abdomen. “I’m so excited. I’m nervous too. Is that normal?” Ron asked. Hermione was anxiously waiting for my reply.

 I nodded. After another round of congratulations, Ron and Hermione excused themselves. As I as watched my best friends walk out of the room, seeing them at the very start of their journey toward parenthood, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Those poor idiots. They have no idea.”

It was strangely satisfying, like when I was in my sixth year.

Been there, done that.  

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