The Sugar Quill
Author: Fayth  Story: Child Of Mine  Chapter: Chapter 1: Bittersweet
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Child of Mine

Child of Mine

 

You who I cradle in my arms,

Asking as little as you canů

 

You will be who you want to be,

You can choose whatever heaven grants.

As long as you can have a chance,

I swear I'd give my life for you.

 

("I'd Give My Life For You", from Miss Saigon)

 

 

I am dying.

 

I knew that this might happen, but it is still hard to accept. It is one thing to know that death is approaching, but quite another to feel the life leaking out of you. Every frantic beat of my heart seems to pour away more of my fading energy, and I can still feel the blood spilling out of me. My only consolation, as I lie here in agony, is knowing that my life is given for the sake of my son.

 

My dear little boy. I never thought that it was possible for one person to hold as much love as I feel for him now. You could tear out my bleeding heart, crush it up into the finest powder, then sieve away the parts that belong to him, and all that was left would fit into a thimble, so little there would be left of it. You could do all that, and more, and still my flesh could not possibly ache any more than it does for him at this moment.

 

My body clings to him still, even as the last of my strength is slipping away from me. I feel as though I am guarding him against Death himself- and perhaps this is true, in a way. I wish I could be sure that he will live. He has a fair chance, true, with my own life offered in place of his, but can anything in this world be truly certain? Can I really let him go this soon?

 

If only his father could have been here, in these last few minutes. He is a good man- not without his faults, of course, for I will never forgive what he has put me through. But for all he is lacking, he is the father of my child, and I love him dearly.

 

I am so tired- so very, very tired. My body is so exhausted, as is my mind, even my very soul. I am so weak that I cannot help it; my eyes begin to slide shut. This is not death, I know, not quite yet, but it is so very hard to fight itů I drift in and out of consciousness, struggling to keep my focus on the boy, but at the same time some deep part of me is willing the darkness to claim me as its own. I have done all I can for him now, it says- now you can be free! Leave this pain behind, you have no need to stay any longer.

 

Somewhere underneath my weariness, I begin to panic. Please, I think. Let me wake. I have so few seconds left with my son, don't let me spend them drifting away through the silence of eternity. I need to wake; I must wake- for his sake if not for my own. There is still so much I need to do for him.

 

It is so dark now. I can almost see Death standing over me, his wand raised to claim my soul as soon as I stumble. That in itself is enough horror to be held by one mind, but it is followed by another terrible shock- what if he is here for my son, as well?

 

The painful thought is almost enough to startle me awake- almost, but not quite. I am very near the end now, and I fear I do not have enough strength left to protect my little one much longer. I do not have the power to open my eyes, let alone ward off this deadly apparition.

 

He hovers ever closer, moving like a Dementor, sliding across my thoughts and leaving not a ripple to mark his passing. He does want my child- I can feel it, taste it, smell his desires in his intolerable scent of rot and decay. He reaches out a filthy hand towards us, and although I cannot see his face I can somehow sense his grim smile.

 

Give me the boy.

 

No!

 

The realisation hits me suddenly, and runs through my dying body on veins of lightning. He will not have my son. I have already sacrificed myself, and I will not let all my labours have been in vain. I clench my fists with effort and I-

 

-I wake up.

 

It is over.

 

The doctor is standing over me, holding a tiny figure stained with much blood. My blood, I recognise dazedly. Still only semi-conscious, still panting in an attempt to regain what little breath I have left, I look my first upon my son.

 

The attending nurse must have noticed my eyes opening, for she gasps and tells me in a hushed whisper, "We thought we'd lost you!" She smiles, although it is a smile that does not quite reach her eyes. "Would you like to hold him?"

 

I try to speak, but my throat is too clogged with emotion, and all I can do is nod weakly. The doctor hands me the struggling form and my eyes begin to leak tears that I did not know I had left in me.

 

I cradle my son to my chest, clutching him with a grip tighter than any Grindylow could ever manage. No one will take you away from me, darling, no one. They will have to pry you from my lifeless fingers when I am gone, because until then I will not let you out of my grasp.

 

I hold him too tightly; he struggles, and starts to cry. Shh, my child, don't be sad. We have only moments longer, and I do not wish for my last sight to be your first tears. There will be time enough for tears afterwards, should you still feel the need to shed them.

 

The doctor is watching me sadly. I don't have much time left, he tells me. The birth was long and difficult, and the blood loss was too severe.

 

He sounds so straightforward, so matter of fact. It is hard to accept that he can be so calm as he tells me of my own impending demise, yet it makes sense- he has been through this many, many times before.

 

The doctor is still watching me. He wants to know what the boy is to be called, and I need only moments to think. My child will be named after his father, of course, and I tell the doctor just that. He nods quite serenely, jots it down on a loose sheet of paper, and then leaves me to die with my son.

 

I had never quite believed that this could happen to me. It seems such an old-fashioned death, to die in childbirth, almost medieval. I remember hearing stories as a child, and dismissing them almost immediately- stupid, pointless deaths, I thought, caused by ignorance and poor medical treatment. I had never really imagined that I could suffer the same fate.

 

But now, as the darkness gathers around me, I think I finally understand. All those women, torn apart in the creation of their own offspring- their deaths were not at all stupid or meaningless. They were beautiful. Women throughout the ages have offered their own lives so that their children might have a chance to breathe the free air. They died not because of ignorance and neglect, but because of love. They died for their children.

 

And as I go to join them, I am proud to be counted among their numbers. It is no shame for my own life to be forfeit so early on, not when I have a beautiful child to carry on for me. He will be great. I know it. I can see it in his half-closed eyes.

 

I love you, my son. My dear little boy, named for a father he may never see.

 

May you live happily ever after, dear child. My dear Tom Riddle.

 

//
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