"You stupid girl, can't you do anything right? You're a disgrace to my family."
"Don't hit her in the face like that, cher, the marks will show... strike her hands or arms, like I do."
"You slut! You've been leading me on all this time, and now you turn me down?! You're such a whore for everyone else, aren't you, so why won't you give it up for me? I'd take care of you. Just... hold still, I'll make it good for you, bitch--!"
"You will marry this boy, or you will never be allowed to do anything else in your life, ever again. You will not attend school any longer. You will never even get a job, let alone have a career. I will lock you in the basement of this manor if I have to. But you will learn to obey me, or you will learn what happens to those who cross the Winston family."
"I want a divorce."
"I've tried to work for you, I've tried to work with you, and now, all I have left is to work against you because I will NOT just keep giving like this! I want a divorce and I want custody, because if you're going to continue to be this self-centered with me working myself into a mental breakdown, then I don't want you raising my children. If you want out of my life, want me out of yours, goodbye! Get out! Good riddance!"
Gemma woke with a strangled little scream, clawing at the covers over her, drenched in sweat and half-crying from the nightmare-memories still clinging to her. She hadn't been able to escape from them until they'd run their course, a horrible parade of all her worst memories... The last one lingered especially, since the twins were coming any day now. What had she even done, then? Everything had blurred, at the time, a sensation like having the world suddenly disappear from under ones feet. Sofi, silent, paler than usual, had grabbed her arm, dragged her away, she knew that much. And she'd hidden in the bed of the Nosferatu attic for a day afterwards, though it hadn't been because of the idea of never seeing the man again... no, it had been because of the threat of her children being taken from her.
Her children. HERS. They had been her only comfort, all this time. The need to keep them healthy and well had been what had kept her going for this long. She couldn't care less what happened to her, especially now... but them, they were to be protected at all costs. And she would not give them up, not for anything in the world. Gemma knew that she definitely hadn't had good examples of parenting -- anyone who hit their children and told them how worthless and disgraceful they were wasn't a good parent -- but she would be damned if she wouldn't try her best. Her children's importance far outweighed her own, in her mind, after all.
... but the thought of losing them...
A sharp pain curled deep inside her, and she gasped, clutching the sheets, eyes widening. She'd been having small contractions for a while now, nothing out of the ordinary, but this was bigger... She'd passed her plug the day before, to her shock; so much for Wizarding health education, she hadn't even known that was something that happened, until Sofi had read an article to her through the bathroom door while she'd panicked on the floor. She'd been expecting the contractions to gradually get bigger, but there was more that was supposed to happen, right...?
It was only then that she realized that the sheets around her hips and legs were wet, and with far more than just sweat.
Gemma sat up sharply, throwing off the covers, staggering to her feet after seeing that, yes, the sheets and mattress were soaked with what could only have been her water. The stress of the nightmares might have finally pushed her over the edge... or had the growing pain triggered the nightmares? There was a clatter as she bumped into the nightstand, her wand falling off onto the floor, and the door opened slightly, Franco's head poking in. Pandora had finally gone back to her family, but Franco had joined Sofi and Gemma as Gemma's due date had approached, which meant that they'd all been moved to a somewhat larger Nosferatu safehouse, complete with separate rooms.
"Gemma? What's--" He spotted the state she was in, the state the bed was in, and came in quickly, calling for Sofi. Sofi burst in a few moments later, finding Franco supporting Gemma's elbow and helping her toward the door, and likewise took in the situation.
"Yes. Get the bag, please."
"We can't take 'er to Mungo's, Franco, they'll recognize 'er name right away..." Sofi grabbed the hospital bag they'd prepared, as well as some loose clothing and shoes for Gemma, and hurried after the pair.
"I know that. But he works for very well-connected Muggles, from what we know: they'd probably recognize her name at a Muggle hospital as well, we've been over this." Franco looked exhausted, still, from the loss of so much, but he was as protective over the young women as Gemma was of her children: he wasn't about to lose anyone else.
"Just... just take me to the Muggles..." Gemma mumbled, pulling on the clothes Sofi'd brought for her, trying to keep her hands from trembling, "He'll find out at some point, anyway... but my parents mustn't know. They'd... probably kill them. Please... please, just--" She looked up, dark eyes pained, and Sofi patted her shoulder.
"We know. They won't ever even see 'em, or know they exist: we'll make sure of it."
"Keep walking, dear, that's it..."
Gemma wobbled across the room yet again, trying to remember how to breathe. Things had apparently moved along far enough before they'd arrived at the Muggle hospital that they'd been willing to admit her, but in the four hours since then it seemed like time had come to a standstill. The contractions were getting a lot closer, now, and a lot worse, but she'd been told over and over that it wasn't time to actually try anything yet. Just keep walking. Just keep breathing. And stop looking at the door as though someone is going to burst through it...
I will not let anyone take you from me...
"It's a baby girl!"
"One more to go, now, let's push with this next contraction, alright? And... push!"
Stay with me...
"And it's a healthy baby boy, well done!"
"You can see them soon, let's just finish up here..."
I need to see you...
They were so small...
Her entire body felt like it had been run over by an Erumpant, but... they were here. They were laying on her chest, against her skin, and nothing else mattered, because they were there.
"... I won't let anyone hurt you... not ever..." Golden eyes looked up at her blearily in tiny faces, and Gemma cried in utter silence over her children.