Scorpius finished the painting of Gideon Crumb, and then one of Heathcote Barbary's children. Kirley Duke was slated for a Christmas portrait of his family. He seemed to have become the official portrait painter for the Weird Sisters. Apparently when Rose had agreed to help Lenny Graves with his murder charges, she'd inadvertently set off Scorpius's career as well. The portraits made them enough money to keep Rose home for the duration of her pregnancy, and probably a while after that.

But as predicted, she was bored.

And when Rose was bored, she was rather unpleasant. Especially since she'd developed that Weasley pregnancy habit of saying whatever was on her mind. She really needed a case to work on, to keep her occupied, but that was impossible. Auror novels helped a bit, but she read really fast. Rose simply wasn't made to sit idle.

The baby began to move, which distracted her for a time but then they both got used to the baby kicking and there was nothing new to capture Rose's attention except reading novels, complaining about her relatives and everything else she caught sight of, and waiting for the birth.

By the time she was eight months along, tempers were rather strained indeed.

Her mother was still stopping by with pregnancy and childbirth books, but much to Scorpius's relief, Rose had stopped trying to read them, having decided she knew quite enough about pregnancy to be getting on with, thank you very much, and was stacking them in the back of the closet in the baby's room.

He'd read most of them, though, just in case she'd missed something she did need to know. He could see why she'd freaked out. Some of those chapters on delivery were terrifying, and he wasn't even the one who had to actually do it.

Fortunately, the debut of Dominique's book arrived in Rose's thirty-fifth week of pregnancy to distract her from her pregnancy-mandated boredom at home. It got her out of the house, at least for an afternoon, and kept her busy with a running monologue about how annoying Dominique was since she'd become a celebrated author. Dominique's appearance on a morning Wizarding Wireless Network talk show had been fodder for Rose's grumbling for two days.

They went to Flourish and Blotts for the book signing, at Dominique's invitation. It was quite crowded with witches of all ages, waiting to meet Dominique Weasley and have her sign their copies of her book. It seemed her plight had struck a chord with witches everywhere who had also felt – as the title of her book said – Bewitched and Betrayed. There were very few men in the crowd.

This was not really a place Scorpius cared to be, but it was occupying Rose so she wasn't complaining of being bored or demanding that he entertain her, and that was enough reason to go.

They made their way through the crowd, heading toward Dominique, and ran into Rose's cousin Roxanne with her musician husband/boyfriend (no one seemed sure if they were actually married or not), Perry Chilcott.

“Oh hi you lot,” Roxanne said breezily as she caught sight of them. Her eyes fell on Rose's belly, or maybe on the pink unicorn t-shirt. Scorpius was still congratulating himself on having found one in a maternity size. “Nice shirt, Rose.”

Rose managed not to make a face at Roxanne. “Hi Roxy. Hi Perry.”

Perry waved to them. Despite both Roxanne and Rose looking rather annoyed, he seemed to be amused. He often did, from what Scorpius had seen. Perry's ability to find the quirks of the Weasleys entertaining probably boded well for his joining the family successfully. They could drive anyone mad.

“We've just come from bloody Dominique,” Roxanne said, glancing over her shoulder. “Can't believe she got her book out before mine.”

“Are you writing a book, Roxanne?” Scorpius asked in surprise.

The two Weasley women looked at him as if he'd grown a second head.

“She's been writing it for months,” Rose told him, as if he should have known this all along.

“Dommie had to go and get the jump on me and get hers out first,” Roxanne added. “Typical, isn't it. Well, I can't take any more, I'm leaving. See you later.”

She tugged on Perry's arm and they disappeared into the crowd. Scorpius turned to Rose, who was rubbing her breastbone with a small grimace on her face.

“Bloody heartburn,” she said.

“Probably guilt,” he needled her. “Didn't tell me about Roxanne's book?”

Rose burped delicately behind her hand. “Oh, stuff it. I've been busy, you know. I'm growing an actual person in here.”

He grinned and kissed her on the temple. “Let's go say hi to Dominique so we can get the hell out of here.”

Dominique was sitting behind a table loaded down with copies of her book, a large silver quill in hand ready to sign autographs. There was a large poster behind her of the book cover, with Bewitched and Betrayed in red letters above a photo of her face. In the photo, she wore an expression obviously meant to be tragically brave but seemed a bit smug to Scorpius. Rose looked at the poster askance and opened her mouth, so Scorpius headed her off before she could say something offensive to her cousin.

“Congratulations on the book, Dominique,” he said loudly.

Rose gave him a look.

Her cousin smiled widely at him. There were always a lot of teeth when Dominique smiled. “Thank you. Did you get the copy I sent to you?”

He nodded. “Yes, of course. Thanks for that.” Rose had used it to prop up their uneven coffee table, but there was no need to tell her cousin that.

Rose opened her mouth again, probably to tell her cousin the book had been the perfect height to repair the wobbly table, and Scorpius jumped in before she could speak. “We'll let you get back to your fans. Congratulations again.”

“Bye Dommie,” Rose added, looking disgruntled.

Dominique waved to them with her fingertips.

“You never let me have any fun,” Rose told him as he led her away.

They bumped into Rose's cousin Lucy then as she bustled past with an armload of books. Lucy was the assistant manager at Flourish and Blotts. Out of all of Rose's cousins, Lucy kept the most to herself, so Scorpius knew her the least well. She was friendly enough, though.

“All right there, you two? Can you believe this?” Lucy waved her free hand to indicate the crowd. “Honestly. It's almost as bad as when Hilarion's manager did that book about him. At least Dommie actually wrote her book, I suppose.”

Scorpius had nearly forgotten that Lucy's husband had a book of his own. Well, a book of photos of him, anyway. From the look on Rose's face, she hadn't forgotten. Lucy's husband was almost as famous for his looks as he was for his Quidditch skill. Normally Scorpius would have felt a bit jealous, but since Rose was currently hugely pregnant with his child, he didn't care if she thought her cousin's husband was good-looking.

“You look well, Rose,” Lucy added with an encouraging smile.

“I look bloody enormous,” Rose corrected her. “Go on, you can say it. Huge. Like a planet.”

Scorpius grinned. “But a very pretty planet.”

“Know what you're having yet?” Lucy asked.

“A planet,” Rose muttered. “Or an elephant.”

“We're keeping it a surprise,” Scorpius told her cousin.

Lucy rolled her eyes. “You and Victoire, honestly. I'd find out straight off. I like to know things.”

Normally Rose did as well, but she didn't want to know whether the baby was a boy or girl. So long as there was only one, she'd said, but the Healers assured them it wasn't twins. This was something of a relief for Scorpius. Rose's family had a history of twins, but apparently identical twins weren't genetic. One never knew with Weasley genes, though.

“I've got to get back to work. See you later.” Lucy was off then, and Scorpius decided it was safe to leave, before someone in the crowd bumped into Rose and she told them off.


Rose's due date was fast approaching. She was counting down the days, though Victoire had said several times that a due date was only a vague guess at best and not a contractual obligation for delivery. Rose hadn't listened, of course. Heavily advanced pregnancy seemed to be making her more mental than ever.

At twenty days remaining, Rose ate nothing but bacon for an entire day.

At seventeen days, she sat on the couch all day crying over advertisements on the WWN.

At twelve days, she woke at dawn all in a panic to count nappies in the nursery and then slept all afternoon.

At nine days, she came in their room and announced she was having contractions in the same tone of voice she generally used to inform him he ought to do the washing-up.

She'd had contractions before – or thought she had, anyway – so at first he didn't take it too seriously, which seemed to annoy her. He went back to reading his book while she ranted about everything from how often he swept the kitchen to the state of his paintbrushes. Rose's version of the infamous pregnancy 'nesting' seemed to be telling him what he ought to clean next.

She was in mid-lecture when her water broke.

“Dammit,” Rose said in heartfelt tones, looking down. “I really liked these shoes.”

Scorpius stared at her as another contraction took hold and she scowled, both hands on her belly.

This was for real. She was actually having the actual baby. Now.

“You're in labour. Rose. Rose, what do I do?” he asked, feeling a bit panicky as he jumped out of bed. There were things he was supposed to be doing, weren't there? He couldn't remember. His brain wasn't working. Things seemed strangely out of focus. He wondered if he was about to faint.

Rose slapped him on the back of the head. The world sharpened abruptly, and the buzzing in his ears quieted.

“Thanks,” he told her.

“Get the bag and take me to St. Mungo's, you idiot,” she said.

He got the bag.

As they were leaving their flat, Rose remarked in a voice that sounded halfway between a whinge and a complaint, “It's supposed to be my job to get all freaked out. You're the responsible one.”

“Sorry. Lost my head for a moment there.”

The Healers got Rose situated in a comfortable room with plenty of potions for the pain, so she was happy for the first nine hours, if a little impatient for it to be over. They even let her watch a Quidditch match on the WWN, and the suggestions on how to play that Rose yelled to the teams were particularly violent.

But then she went into transition.

When her contractions returned, they were far stronger than before, and this time the Healers told her it was too dangerous to take the stronger pain potions and offered her a milder version. Two of them left when she threw it at their heads.

Scorpius wasn't entirely certain what to do, and Rose wasn't helping things. One moment she was clinging to his hand, and the next she was telling him to go away because the sound of his breathing was annoying her.

But as soon as he made for the door, she yelled out, “And where the hell d'you think you're going? Come hold my hand!”

He was almost as eager for labour to be over as she was. But he stayed beside her, and held her hand when she told him to, and tried to hold his breath when she told him to stop breathing so loudly.

Fourteen hours in, her contractions began to come hard and fast, and Scorpius started feeling a bit panicky. No one else in the room seemed concerned, so he tried to relax, but his heart was beating much too fast, and anxiety was making him breathe fast and shallow.

Rose's hair was plastered to her face with sweat, and her chest and face were flushed. “This is awful,” she told him as one contraction let her go from its grip. “I don't want to do this after all. I want my mum. I want to go home.”

“Um, Rose, I'm pretty sure that's not an option any longer-”

Another deep contraction began then, and she hunched forward, squeezing his hand until he thought he heard a bone creak. Her lips pulled back on a snarl. “You bastard!”

“They all say that sort of thing,” the Healer assured him, still looking rather gloriously unconcerned by the proceedings. “Miss Weasley, you can push now.”

Rose let out a blood-curdling scream, the pitch and volume rising as she bore down, and Scorpius looked down at the Healer and saw blood, and then the world seemed to recede, tunneling into nothing but the blood and the scream, and then blackness.

“That's the third fainting father today,” was the last thing he heard as he went down, falling backward into the blackness.

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