The clock tolls finally cease to ring leaving a heavy silence behind and an unrestful feeling. The three Avery's glance at each other with grave expressions. There were certain superstitions that still existed in the wizarding world to this day. The ringing of the twelve strokes of clock bells was one, it was not a good sign at all especially when it occurred in such a manner that the conversation question asked was never answered by the individual in question. And rather suggested that the presence of death was rapidly nearing, and ready to take one of their souls.
Feeling suddenly apprehensive, Evan glances at his son to find his mother clutching her grandchild to her chest. Both father-son and glance at each other, but a loud thud causes them to startle at suddenly seeing the cantankerous looking midwife with a mole on her chin. There is a look of unexpected pity in her eyes as in French, she rasped, "I am deeply sorry Monsieur Avery, but neither the healers nor I were able to stop the blood loss of Madam Avery. We tried everything, but she is gone. We have cleaned her up, you may go in and see her now."
The midwife steps aside to allow Evan Avery to pass as he numbly stares into the bedroom of his wife. There is still a faint metallic scent in the air, but the bedroom has largely been cleaned from the bloodstains. There laying as pale as a corpse on the bed with not a drop of color on her face is the so very still figure of Marceline Avery with her eyes shut, and her hands clasped together and resting on her very still chest.
Evan can't hear himself let out a gasp of despair, but he hears his mother let out a loud cry of sadness as she says, "Oh my poor child!" Whether his mother was referring to himself or his son was irrelevant. They were both suddenly derelict of a very important individual in their lives. His son, motherless, and he wifeless.
Numbly without any strength Evan found the strength to move forward until his feet managed to somehow carry to the bedside of his wife. She looked so very young, but she was so very young only sixteen years old, really. She had so many dreams and now they were all dashed away like fragile magical crystals that had all scattered onto the floor impossible to repair with a simple spell.
Slumping down in the chair next to her, Evan with a rather dazed expression on his face simply stares at her. A tiny part of him still expects her to wake up and open her eyes, before laughing at him like she used to do. But that tiny hope was squelched as he reached over to touch her hand. Her hand was so very icy cold, there was not a single trace of warmth left behind. Her soul was gone, all that was left was an empty, cold physical vessel.
Evan hears the murmurs of voices in the background, but he can't make out what they are saying. He can only see what is in front of him and hear his own loud breathing. A feeling of despair, regret, anger, sadness, all seem to well up inside of him on the verge of exploding.
Was he the unspoken culprit to blame for Marceline's death? If he had only never asked her to marry him, then she would have not gotten pregnant. And she would not have perished in childbirth. Gripping a fistful of her bedsheets that still faintly smelled of her, Evans lets out a piercing cry as angry tears pour down his face wetting the linen sheets below.
A firm grip on his shoulder causes him to glance up with a snarl on his face. It was that of his father staring at him with sadness in his eyes as Evans anger vanishes as his voice breaks, "I-. She's gone. What am I going to do, father?"
Avery Sr. grips his son's shoulder more fiercely as he says, "You have us son, you won't ever be alone. And as for the rest, we'll start with the present matters at handing. Announcing the birth of your son and arranging the funeral of your wife."
Evan obediently nods his head as his father pulls him away from the final resting place of his wife. He did not know what occurred afterward or who spoke to him. But he somehow was laid to rest in his own bed and given a Dreamless potion to take. And which he was profoundly grateful for as he did not dream of Marceline that night and faded away into the blissful embrace of sleep.
The following days were a complete blur as he remained numb to the world. With emotionless eyes he watched his wife being buried in the ground. There were streams of countless mourners and he did not even feel the slap to his face that his mother-in-law gave him as she screamed into his face that he was to blame for her daughter's death. And he did not correct her for he too felt that he was to blame for Marceline's death, his wife, lover, and friend.
It was after the funeral and he was sitting out on the grounds at their usual spot. The sky was bright blue, the flowers were in full bloom, the birds were chirping, it was a glorious summer day. And yet, he felt so very cold inside that not even the heat of the sun on his face or on his dark mourning clothes seemed to warm him up.
A rustling sound behind him causes Evan to tilt his head to the side but not turn around. If someone wished to take his life, they were more than welcome to it. He'd not raise his own wand in his own defense. He more than deserved it.
"So, this is where you are hiding at," pointedly commented the voice of Avery Sr.
"It was her favorite spot in the gardens," Evan choked out. "Marceline said that it was the perfect sunning spot with the best view of the gardens."
"So, it would seem," Avery Sr. muttered as he took a seat next to his son on the cozy bench. But not before, carefully covering the sleepy face of his grandson swaddled in a soft, but light blanket.
Evan expressionlessly turns to study the face of his son that was already less red from his birth a few days ago. The baby wrinkled his nose in his sleep, before letting out a soft contented sigh. All that matters to a newborn is being safe, warm, sleeping, eating, and popping. The rest of the worldly complications would come with the passing of time, but for the time being everything should be as it should be.
"Here hold him," Avery Sr. instructed as his son tried to protest to no avail as he transferred his grandson to his father's arms.
Evan stiffly holds his son in his arms. He'd not held his son since his birth nor had he the courage to face him. He'd been afraid of what his newborn son would see in his own expression, fear, and guilt.
Letting out a sigh, Evan bitterly remarks, "She shouldn't have died."
"No, she should not have," Avery Sr. agreed. "But her water broke, and she did not call for the midwife and healers until hours later. By then she had already begun to bleed, and the midwife and healers could only do so much. That and her magic weakening certainly did not help the situation. In the end, she chose to give up her own life to birth your son or so the midwife told me. Don't invalidate her sacrifice by your guilt, son. She was a strong young woman, who knew exactly what she wanted and was willing to pay the price for it."
"I promised her freedom, a future, and education in exchange!" Evan rebuked his father. "Tell me, if all of that was worth her very life?!"
"She clearly thought it was more than worth it," Avery Sr. calmly explained. "And like I said before, she knew her own mind better than you or I."
Evan lets out a cry of frustration accidentally jostling the sleeping baby in his arms. Barnabas Avery lets out a soft whimper, before letting out another breath of deep slumber followed by a tiny snore. It was an adorable sound in all honesty which even managed to pull a faint smile from his father.
Glancing into the distance, Evan distantly says, "I know that we will be leaving for England after the week is up. But I would like to at least pack up some of her things for Barnabas to have one day once he is older."
"That is a good idea," Avery Sr. acknowledged, before broaching the subject. 'There is also the matter of electing a godfather and godmother for your son."
"Marceline wanted great uncle to be the godfather," Evans quietly replied.
"And the godmother?"
"Rowan or Georgine Prince."
"What?!" Avery Sr. bellowed in surprise causing the baby to whimper again at the shout. Quickly quieting down, he takes a deep breath to calm himself before asking, "And why exactly would you do so, taking into account the circ.u.mstances related to your abrupt departure from Hogwarts?"
"Two reasons," Evan solemnly replied. "One to make peace with her, and to offer Barnabas the best possible future. With Rowan Prince as his godmother she will more than amply fulfill her role her as godmother out of duty and ensure that he does not commit the same mistake of my own youth. She is a half-blood, no matter what her grandiose lineage."
Avery Sr. thoughtfully nods his head, before murmuring, "But you are making one mistake assumption, son."
"And just what is that?" Evan stiffly asked.
"You are assuming that Rowan Prince will accept in the first place," Avery Sr. pointed out.
"There is that," Evan admitted as he peeked at his still sleeping son. "But that is still why there is Georgine Prince as an alternative. I will even put aside my pride and beg on my knees if that is what is truly required of me."
"Very well," Avery Sr. finally said. "I shall arrange a meeting with the old Prince upon our return to England. He should be at least somewhat amenable to the idea and won't refuse us right away, but he is a sly old man. Nothing is ever as it seems with the old Prince."
"Thank you, father," Evan quietly said, before his father clumsily patted him on the back, before the two of them sat in silence for a great deal in the afternoon until Barnabas Avery began to fuss. After this, they quickly made their way back inside to ensure that the babe was properly fed, and then had his nappy changed.
It was a most shocking experience to say the least to Evan, which only caused his father and Solia to chuckle. What did he expect would happen? Really, young foolish fathers the whole lot of them.