The Sugar Quill
Author: K. D. Palmer  Story: Utterly Useless  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Author's Notes: First of all these characters do not belong to me, they belong to J. K. Rowling.

This is my being my first published story I would like to thank all those who encouraged me to enter the author drive back in October. Without your push and your faith in my abilities I would have never had the guts to do this.

Last but not least, I cannot say how much I'd like to thank my beta Stubefied. I wouldn't have been about to this without your help.

Utterly Useless

Ron stood in the Burrow sitting room staring blankly out the window. He’d heard nothing from upstairs in the hour since Fleur had sent him downstairs to ‘rest.’ Even now he laughed at the word. How they expected him to rest at a time like this was beyond him. He heard bits and pieces of conversation going on behind him, but decided not to join in. It didn’t feel right to him, that he was down here with his family while Hermione was doing all the work. He’d started a few times to go back upstairs, but stopped himself. He secretly suspected that Fleur had sent him out for being in the way and if that were so, then it was best he stay away, no matter how badly he wanted to help.

Just then a sound broke his concentration as a puff of green smoke filled the fireplace and a smiling redhead appeared holding an infant.

“Hello,” Ginny said as she stepped out. “Are we too late?”

“No, dear,” Mr. Weasley answered, standing to kiss his daughter and the baby in her arms. “You’ve made it in time.” Arthur took the diaper bag from Ginny’s shoulder and placed it on the sofa as Harry and three-year-old James arrived.

“Granddad!” the young boy called, reaching for Arthur. “Can I hold baby now?”

“Not yet,” Arthur laughed, taking his grandson in his arms and sitting on a tattered old chair beside the fireplace. At his feet, a pair of silvery-blonde girls played with their dolls.

“How’s Hermione doing?” Ginny asked.

“Ginny, is zat you?” a distinct French accent called from upstairs. “Ginny, ‘ermione ‘as been asking for you.”

“I’ll be right there. Harry, will you take Albus?” Ginny handed the baby to Harry and followed Fleur’s voice up the stairs.

Ron’s face was sullen as he watched his sister ascend the stairs. His suspicions were confirmed; Hermione hadn’t asked for him. She really didn’t need him.

“How is she doing?” Harry asked, sitting down and removing a bottle from the diaper bag beside him to feed Albus.

Arthur answered when Ron did not. “She’s fine,” he said setting James on the floor to play with Victoire and Brigitte. “Molly and Fleur have been tending to her. Ron came down about an hour ago.” He looked at his son. “He hasn’t said much.”

“I remember what it was like the first time,” Harry laughed, looking from Ron to James. “I wish I could tell you it gets any easier.”

“I’ve been through it seven times,” Arthur chuckled. “If anything, it gets worse. You spend nine months helping, you get her whatever food she could possibly crave at any given time, you rub her feet when they hurt, you compliment her so that she remembers that even though she can no longer fit into her favorite robes she’s still just as beautiful as she ever was and then this moment comes when you think she’ll need you the most and you suddenly become…”

“Utterly useless,” Bill interrupted, entering from the kitchen with a tray of tea and biscuits.

Ron’s eyes rose as his brother’s words hit the mark.

“Exactly right,” Arthur said as Bill handed him a cup of tea. “You stand there and feel like you’re in the way. You touch her and she screams and you think it was your fault.”

Harry grinned ruefully, taking his own cup of tea. “When Ginny was having James, I tried to comfort her by saying how great she was doing, and she threw a glass of water at my head.”

Ron took a cup of tea and sat next to Harry. Now he was starting to think it was a blessing that Fleur had sent him away.

“Just be glad Molly had enough sense to take Ginny’s wand away beforehand. When Molly was having Bill, her mother forgot to take hers. She hit me with a Leg-Locker Curse for calling her Mollywobbles. Her brother Gideon had to drag me out into the sitting room to perform the countercurse while Fabian tried to pry the wand out of her hand.”

“I was lucky,” Bill added. “I was at work when Fleur went into labor with Victoire. By the time they found me down in the vaults and I made it back here, she was already born. With Brigitte, I had them keep me above ground for the last few weeks. When I did get the call, Fleur said she’d done so well without me the first time that I should just stay out of the room this time as well. When Mum called me in, Fleur had gotten her wand back and freshened herself up and dressed Brigitte. Her propriety comes in handy sometimes.”

“I don’t know,” Harry said, turning Albus to burp him. “I’ll admit that I could do without water glasses flying at my head or threats of hexes I’d receive if only her mother would return her wand, but I wouldn’t have missed being there with Ginny for anything.”

Ron’s entire body seemed to sink deeper into the sofa.

“Harry’s right. Molly was a bit of a handful with each of you, but I cherish the memory of your births. I’ll never forget,” Arthur said amidst his own amusement, “the day she had Fred and George. Fred had just been born and she was resting. Then she let out this horrible scream. Your grandmother handed Fred to me and said, ‘All right, Molly dear, we’re not done yet, looks like we’ve got another one.’ Molly just looked at her and said, ‘Another what?’”

The three men burst into laughter and even Ron couldn’t suppress a slight snort.

“What’s so funny?” George asked as he came through the front door with an armful of luggage and a diaper bag draped over his shoulder.

“Dad was just telling us how Mum used to call you a ‘what,’,” Bill said, still chuckling.

“Used to?” His wife Verity remarked, entering with an infant of her own. “The morning of our wedding, Molly asked if I knew exactly what I was marrying. To this day, I still wonder that myself.”

Then amidst the gales of laughter, a couple walked cautiously into the sitting room.

“Hugo, Evelyn,” Arthur said, standing to greet Mr. and Mrs. Granger. “So good to see you, welcome to the Burrow. I trust you had a good trip.”

“The scenery on the train ride was quiet lovely,” Evelyn remarked. “We really have lived in the city for too long. Where is Hermione?” her mother asked impatiently.

Ron straightened up, seeing this as his chance to make his way to his wife’s side.

“She’s just upstairs,” Bill answered. “If you’ll follow me, I can take you to her.”

Ron slouched back down with a sign as Bill escorted Mrs. Granger upstairs and George and Verity excused themselves to the kitchen to prepare lunch.

“Some tea, Hugo?” Arthur asked, offering Mr. Granger a cup.

“Yes,” he replied, sitting down beside Harry on the sofa. “Thank you. Ron, my boy, how are you feeling?”

Ron shrugged, unable to make eye contact.

“He’s feeling a little left out, I think,” Harry said knowing Ron would prefer the subject changed.

“Ah,” Hugo nodded in understanding, “and how have you been, Harry?”

“I’ve been well,” Harry answered. “Busy as you can probably see,” he said, gesturing towards the sleeping baby on his shoulder.

“I do see,” Hugo smiled. “Hermione said you and Ginny had had a second son. What’s his name?”

“This is Albus.”

“Ah,” he said, tickling the infant’s chin, “what a noble name you have, Albus! You must be excited, Arthur, all these grandchildren so close together. How many will this make?”

“Well,” Arthur said, preparing for the long list, “Bill and Fleur’s girls, Victoire and Brigitte, are the oldest.” He motioned to the two girls playing quietly at his feet. “Then our son Percy and his wife Penelope’s girl Petra. Then Harry and Ginny’s son James, George and Verity’s son Fred, then Albus, now Ron and Hermione’s.”

“Could Percy and his family not make it?”

“Percy had to work,” Arthur said, “Penelope contacted us earlier to say they’d be here just as soon as he comes home.”

“What about your other son?”

Arthur nodded. “Charlie, he moves around so much with his work that I don’t know if he’s thought about settling down.”

“I must say, Arthur, I’m jealous,” Mr. Granger said as Bill returned and took a seat on the floor with his daughters. “You have such an amazing family.”

“Thank you. Molly and I have been very blessed.” Arthur took a sip of tea. “Did you ever think of having more children?”

“Evelyn and I had talked about it, but it just never happened. Hermione was such a demanding child. It seemed like if we turned away for one moment, something was happening; it wasn’t until later that we understood why. Evelyn came back to work once Hermione started school and then we just kept putting it off. Every birthday, Hermione said she’d wished for a baby sister, but then when she turned thirteen, she stopped asking.”

“She gave up?” Arthur asked.

“No,” Mr. Granger shook his head, “she met Ginny. You’ll never know what your daughter’s friendship did for her.”

“You’ll never know what your daughter’s done for Ron. I would have never imagined him so happy.”

Ron blushed.

Hugo sat back, smiling at the compliment. He looked around the room at the children playing and the two infants now sleeping soundly.

“I can’t believe it,” he sighed. “I can’t believe my little girl is going to be a mother. It seems like only yesterday she was born. I drove Evelyn to the hospital at about four in the morning. The nurse put her into a wheelchair and took her to an examination room. After a bit of waiting the doctor - Hermione said you call them Healers. The doctor came in to check and make sure that Evelyn was okay. He asked if she wanted something to ease the pain.”

“Like a potion?” Bill asked, intrigued.

“Sort of,” Hugo said, trying to think of a way to explain it. “Only you don’t drink it. They take this cylinder with a needle and fill it with the medicine.” He paused, thinking of no better way to put it. “And then they stick the needle into her back and squeeze in the medicine.”

Arthur winced. “Sounds painful. I’d rather have a potion.”

“From what Evelyn said of the experience, I’m sure she would have shared your opinion, but for us, it’s better than nothing. It took a little while, but the medicine finally set in, and then the doctor said it was time to push. Before I really knew what had happened, I was holding Hermione.”

“Well,” Arthur said with a thoughtful look, “there are some differences, but in the end, it’s essentially the same.”

“What sort of differences?”

“Well, most witches give birth at home or, rather, at the family home. Take Hermione, for example. When it came time, she and Ron used the Floo Network to come here; Apparition is not safe for pregnant women. When she arrived, Molly made her comfortable upstairs and I contacted everyone. If the pain is too much, Hermione will be given a potion that is safe for the baby. Though, from what Ginny’s told me, she’s doing just fine without it.”

“So, have all of your grandchildren been born here?”

“Yes.” Arthur nodded. “The twins, Ron and Ginny were born here too. After Percy, it was much easier to bring the rest of the family here than to try and get all of the kids to Molly’s parents’.”

“What if there are difficulties or if the mother or child is ill?”

“In that case, a Healer would be summoned and would respond instantly.”

Hugo nodded. “Respond instantly?” he asked. “You’re certain of that?”

“Quite certain,” Arthur comforted. “We had to summon a Healer when Percy was born. He came nearly a month early. He was very small and didn’t cry. Molly’s mother was a very talented witch, but she was worried her skills wouldn’t be enough. Within moments of our sending a summons, a Healer was standing in the room with all manner of potions and tools. After about five minutes, Percy was pink and screaming; the Healer gave a bow and was gone. Very efficient bunch, they are.”

Just then Ron gave a loud sigh drawing everyone’s attention.

“Ron?”

“What?” Ron looked up, seeing that everyone was staring at him. “I’m sorry. It’s just-” He paused. “Is it always like this?”

“Yes!” all of the men said in unison, George yelling his response from the kitchen.

“How do you do it? If this goes on any longer, I’m going to pass out. I don’t know how Hermione’s doing it. When I left she wouldn’t even take any of Mum’s potions. She said she wanted to do it on her own.”

“Molly’s mother made her take it. She said there was no sense in being in pain when it could be avoided.”

“Well, I avoided it,” Verity said, bringing a plate of sandwiches from the kitchen and placing it on the table in front of Ron. “As soon as Molly got me settled, she offered me a potion. I had three bottles before Fred was born and never suffered a moment.”

“I hope Hermione took some,” Ron said, taking a sandwich. “I doubt it, though. Mum kept offering, but she just kept turning it down.”

“My daughter is very stubborn, Ron,” Hugo chuckled. “You of all people should know that. If she gets it in her mind that she’s going to do this without potions, she’ll do it.”

“I know,” he said, pushing the plate towards the children as Victoire, Brigitte, and James started asking for sandwiches. “I always knew she was stronger than me,” he sighed. “I just never imagined how much stronger.”

“You’re doing great, son,” Arthur said, putting his hand on Ron’s shoulder. “It’s tough when you want so badly to help and realize there is nothing you can do.”

“I just feel like she doesn’t even need me.” Ron heaved a great sigh, allowing his head to sink into his hands.

Finally, Ron heard Fleur beckoning. “Ron, come ‘eer. ‘ermione needz you!”

Without a word, Ron sprinted up the stairs.

The minutes passed in agonizing silence as everyone’s gaze stayed fixed on the landing until Ron appeared again, eyes glistening and a smile stretched across his face.

“I have a daughter.”

//
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