Artemis and our moms during the last hour of the surgery. Ethan was holding up great.
"He's a fighter," the nurse said. "I'm very impressed."
Patty had thrown up several times and Evelyn passed her some chewable over-the-counter nausea tablets. At the last minute, the nurse rushed out. I started to shake at the look on her face. Had he-?
"He's out of surgery," the nurse whispered and Patty broke into loud sobs. "It was successful." She looked around at us all. "The doctor will be out in half an hour."
We all wept and Patty clung to me.
"He made it!" she kept sobbing. "My baby boy made it! He's alive! He didn't die!"
I shut my eyes as I hugged her tightly. My mom got on her other side as Artemis hugged Evelyn. None of us spoke. Patty was still crying when the doctor came out. He passed around a tissue box and sighed.
"This is not... standard practice," he said slowly, "but Ethan made a special request. He asked that, if you were here when he woke up, he wants to see you after he sees his mother. He also said that, if he didn't make it, he wanted you to know immediately." He turned to Patty whose sobs had doubled. He got on his knees and took her hands in his. "Your son is a fighter. I haven't seen a little boy as strong as him. The anesthesia will wear off in about two hours. We'll move him to a recovery room and you all can see him."
"Thank you," Artemis said. He was very pale. "And thank you for filling his request."
"I keep my promises," the doctor said and shook Artemis' hand. "A nurse will come get you when he's awake."
Two hours later, Patty went in first. We stood by the door so we could hear them talking.
"Hi, baby," Patty said quietly.
"Hi Mommy," he said weakly and I looked at the gift. No. Now wasn't the time. "Told ya I'd make it."
She laughed. "Yeah you did." She sniffled. "Did you have good dreams?"
"Uh-huh. I saw Dumbledore. He said I was goin' to Hogwarts?"
"I got to meet Harry Potter," he continued. "He's really nice." He paused. "Is Artemis here?"
"Yeah. He and Deidre are both here. Do you want to see them one at a time?"
"Nuh-uh. I wanna see both of 'em."
"Okay, baby. I'll bring them in."
She nodded to us and we walked in. The recovery room was bigger than his normal hospital room. He beamed when he saw us, his lips cracking. My mother dabbed up the blood and put some chap stick on his lips.
"Hi," he said.
"Hey there, little man," Artemis said, kneeling on the floor so he was eye level with him. "I'm very proud of you."
His eyes widened. "You're proud of me?"
"You bet your butt I am," he nodded vigorously.
"We both are," I said and kissed his cheek.
"Were you with Mommy?"
"The whole time," I promised.
"Is Daddy gonna come visit me?" he asked his mother who gulped.
"I don't know, baby," she said. "I hope he does."
For the first time since I met him, Ethan began to cry.
"He's never gonna come," he sniffled and my heart shattered.
"I'll be right back," Artemis said and I held Ethan's hand. When he returned, he nudged Ethan until he was on the bed with him. Ethan immediately cried into his chest. "I know it hurts, Ethan," he whispered. "I miss my Daddy, too."
"D-Did he leave you and your Mommy?"
"Not exactly," he said.
"Do you ever wish he would come back?"
"Every single day. My Daddy was my best friend."
"He was mine, too!" Ethan howled and Patty sobbed into the doctor's shoulder.
The doctor looked conflicted as if he wasn't sure Ethan should be so upset after surgery.
"You know what helps me?" Artemis and Ethan looked at him, gripping his shirt. "My mommy helps me. She's real strong. Your mommy is super strong, Ethan."
"Will you see your Daddy again?"
Artemis closed his eyes tightly. "I'm sure I'll see him some day. It's not when I want to, but I'll see him again."
"I wanna see my Daddy now! Right now!"
Artemis kissed the little boy's head. "I wanna see my Daddy, too. You'll see him some day. Until then, you've got your Mommy. She loves you so much, Ethan. She will never leave you."
Ethan sniffled. "You're gonna be a good Daddy." My heart jolted at his words. "Can I be your little brother?"
"Of course you can!" Artemis said. "And Deidre will be your big sister."
"I'm sleepy," he muttered. He looked to his mother. "Mommy, can you sleep with me like Arty is?"
"Every day of your life," his mom said and Artemis quickly got out of bed so she could lie beside her son.
I took her shoes for her then held Artemis tightly. He was shaking violently, holding in his tears so Ethan wouldn't see. He fell asleep and the doctor turned to Artemis. I was worried he'd yell at him.
"You've just done an amazing thing for that little boy," he breathed.
"Will he be in here for his birthday?" I asked.
"Yes. Why?" I told him about his gift and the doctor chuckled. "He'll be strong enough if that's your worry. Bring it on in."
"Thank you," I said and he nodded.
I hugged Patty tightly. "We're going to leave you with him for a while unless you want us to stay."
She shook her head mutely then grabbed Artemis. She gave him a long hug, sobbing into his neck. Artemis hugged her back tightly and I covered my mouth to suppress my sobs.
"Call if you need anything at all," Artemis said and she nodded, silent tears streaming down her face.
When we left to the recovery room, I pulled Artemis to me. Our moms had been at the door and were holding each other, sobbing hard.
"Cry, baby," I whispered as Artemis continued to shake. "Cry; let it out."
He hesitated then fell to his knees, sobbing into my neck.
A month later we went to visit Ethan on his birthday. He was looking much better. He was putting weight on and his hair was growing back. When he saw us, he grinned so wide I feared his face would split.
"So," I began, sitting down in the chair Artemis usually occupied. "Something happened while you were here."
"What?" he asked, looking nervous.
"We had a visitor," Artemis said.
"What kind of visitor?" I took the stuffed Hedwig out of the box and he squealed. "Hedwig!"
"She said she's sorry she couldn't stay," I said and Artemis squeezed my shoulders. "She has a lot of other deliveries to make, though, you know."
He nodded seriously. "She's helping a lot of other kids, huh?"
"Yeah, she is. But she left something else."
"What?" he asked excitedly, already having Hedwig tucked under his blanket with him.
I handed him the scroll. "This was tied to her foot."
He pulled off the purple ribbon and unrolled it. His eyes became as big as saucers.
"Mommy!" he cried. "Mommy, I'm goin' to Hogwarts!" He bounced in his bed and beamed at his mother. "Dumbledore said he's gonna come get me and take me! He said I'm not old enough to do the magic that Harry can do but I get to tour the castle! I also get to meet the real Harry Potter!"
"That is amazing!" Patty - who also looked ten times better - said, looking at the scroll.
"They've moved it, though," I said and he frowned at me. "It's not in London anymore."
He pouted. "Why not?"
"The Muggles found it," Artemis said with a pout. "So Dumbledore had to move it."
"Where is it now?"
"Florida," I answered. "As soon as the doctor says you can go, Dumbledore'll come get you."
"Will he let Mommy come?"
"Of course he will!"
"What about you and Arty?"
"We'll ask," I said. He yawned. "Happy birthday, Ethan. We're going to let you sleep, okay?"
"Thank you!" he said and we each gave him a hug.
When we got home, Evelyn got on the phone and finished making the arrangements with Orlando Studios to find out how much it would cost to get a Dumbledore lookalike here. My mom gave me an encouraging nod and I took a deep breath.
"Come with me," I said to Artemis, holding his hand.
"Okay," he said and we went to our room.
I closed the door and he hugged me. I hugged him back and closed my eyes tightly.
"There's something that I have to tell you," I breathed. "It's...."
I was struggling to speak and he pulled out of the hug, frowning.
"Deidre, what's wrong, baby?"
My lower lip trembled and I took a few deep breaths. I gulped.
"It's about- Well-" I sighed, frustrated. "Why is this so hard!? Gah!"
Artemis took my face into his hands. "What is it?"
I looked into his eyes and my throat glued shut. I sighed and took his hand from my face. He frowned as I put it on my stomach. Shaking, I waited.
He kept looking confused for about three seconds then his eyes widened. He stared at my stomach and we stood in silence for a while. I felt a stirring of fear, something my mom said was normal. I had noticed I skipped my period and told my mom.
"You're sure?" he whispered and I nodded.
"I took like, three pregnancy tests and went to the doctor twice," I whispered back.
"Do our moms know?"
"Yeah, I told my mom first." I shut my eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you first but I was scared."
He kissed me, wiping a tear from my cheek. "I understand." He looked at my stomach again. "Deidre, I'm fucking terrified. I mean, it was one time."
I laughed and put my face in the crook of his neck. "I am, too, but we have each other. I know we can do it."
He nodded, putting his hands on my lower back. "I know we can, too."