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Chapter 26: Chapter Twenty-Six
Hermione felt miserable. She was bloated, heavy, and her ankles were killing her.
She hung on to Harry’s arm as he guided her out of their car.
“I’m too tired,” she complained.
“No you’re not.” Harry smiled sweetly at her.
“Do we have to?” she asked miserably.
“Yes!” he answered her.
The door to the Burrow flung open and Ron stood smiling at them. “About damn time!” he called out and swung a butterbeer to his lips.
“Well, excuse me if I can’t move like I used to!” Hermione grunted and Ron laughed.
She came inside and was greeted by the whole Weasley family. Everyone started fussing about her huge stomach.
“How does it feel?” “Aren’t you tired of pregnancy?” “You look ready to pop!”
Hermione smiled politely but Harry could read her face too well to be fooled. “Here,” he offered her a chair. She smiled lovingly at him.
“So mum, when do we eat?” Ron asked his mother. She just waved and ignored him. He grabbed a bread roll to keep himself under control.
“Where is Mallory?” Harry asked and looked around.
“Here!” Ginny answered and came out from the kitchen carrying Mallory, who was now closer to a year.
“Give her to me!” Hermione said and reached out for Mallory. “I’ve missed you!” she kissed Mallory’s chubby cheeks. She buried her whole face in the plump cheek. Words couldn’t express her love for this child.
“She is lucky to have you loving her this much!” Ginny said unconsciously, and she sounded a bit sad when she said it. Her eyes glanced over to Harry as she said it.
“Is it hard being without her?” Molly asked, breaking the tension.
“Yes, I really miss her,” Hermione said, and the honesty of the words hurt her tremendously….
“And she’s missed you,” Hermione turned around and saw Draco standing in the door frame. Harry nodded a polite hello to Draco, who returned the gesture. Draco was walking with a crutch, still in a lot of pain after his punctured lounge and injured leg. He gave Hermione a kiss on the cheek.
“How are you?” she asked with concern.
“Better than you look,” he said and pinched her side. “How many pounds did you put on, you whale?” Hermione gasped and hit him playfully.
“A woman is never as beautiful as when she is pregnant!” Molly declared.
“I agree,” Arthur said.
“So is that why you knocked mum up so many times?” Ron joked and Molly tossed a breadroll at him. “Thanks!” he said and started eating his second roll whilst the others laughed at them.
They sat down and started eating. Ginny looked slightly envious at Hermione from time to time, but she didn’t say anything. Hermione doted with Mallory who was sitting in the highchair next to Hermione.
“You’re spoiling her!” she exclaimed to Draco.
“Why?” he asked pretending to be offended.
“She’s not eating any of the mashed veggies; she’s just reaching for the chocolate pudding!” Hermione pointed. Everyone laughed at Mallory, who was trying to crawl out of the chair and reach for the pudding.
“She deserves it,” Draco said thoughtfully and they all went quiet.
“You all deserve it,” Arthur said and raised his glass. Hermione drank from her pumpkin juice and looked around the table at all the smiling, happy faces around her. She looked over at Harry and found him watching her, she smiled at him. She really was so lucky; she and everyone she loved had survived and were now safe. Not many people would have been so lucky.
After dinner everyone got up to help Molly clear the table, but Hermione just moved to an armchair. Draco walked over and kneeled beside her. He put his hand on her stomach.
“Ready for your new adventure? he asked. They had never talked about what had happened when they thought he was dying, nor had she told Harry about it. She felt she hadn’t done anything wrong. She did love Draco; however, she did not love him the same way he loved her. She thought the memory was a beautiful one, and one she would always treasure deep in her heart. Draco surviving had been nothing short of a miracle, and Hermione just figured the universe had owed him that, after the life he had been put through.
“I am ready for a family, I just hope these adventures will be much happier ones,” she laughed.
“You are still an Auror, remember,” he joked and she nodded thoughtfully. “You couldn’t give it up.”
“I’m not so sure….” she added.
“Ha, you and Potter – not trying to save the world every second you can!” Draco mocked and laughed.
“Harry is the soldier, I just follow him,” she said it before she could think about what she was saying. But as she said it she knew it was true. She had never become an Auror because of him, but she had always followed him wherever he took her.
Draco looked at her and their eyes met. This was one of those moments when Hermione believed, she knew, that he had something his heart was dying to say. But she knew he would never say it.
“Talking about me?” Harry asked entering the living room, carrying a cup of hot chocolate for Hermione. Draco quickly yanked his hand off Hermione’s stomach.
She took the cup gratefully and drank from it.
“Don’t have such a big head, Potter, it’s very unflattering with that hair of yours,” Draco said and started to stand up. It took some effort and hurt him quite a bit.
Harry hurried forward to help him. Draco got to his feet. “Thanks,” he mumbled and walked back towards the kitchen, but just before he exited he turned and looked at Harry who was now caressing Hermione’s belly lovingly. He couldn’t stop himself; he just had to take a second glance….
“You all right?” Harry asked. She nodded, and pulled him down to a kiss.
“I’m just tired,” she complained.
“Jeez Hermione, one would think you’d be happy having all this time to read in bed.”
“I do enjoy it, but I also enjoy not peeing every minute and eating like a horse. These hot summer nights aren’t exactly comfortable for me!”
“I guess the next one will have to be born in winter….” Harry said and patted her head.
“The next one?” she widened her eyes. “Let’s see if we can manage getting this one out first.”
“We’re going to be a family soon,” Harry said thoughtfully.
“Indeed.” Harry knew she was trying to put some fear into him. But he felt none…. This was a dream of his. He had always wanted a family, kids, and a wife. But to be honest, he had never thought his best friend could be the one to share his dream. Stupid, that was the word…he had been so stupid! How could he not have realized the feelings that were bubbling inside of him? Well, there they were, true and never-ending. He could never love anyone else; he had met his soul mate. He had met her so very long ago, but being such a fool – he hadn’t realized….
Hermione was leaning back in the chair, obviously very uncomfortable, but he could just smile. There she was, his love. He looked at her beautiful brown eyes, the creek of her neck, the sway of her shoe as it almost fell of her foot while she dangled it across her other knee. She was rubbing her stomach uncomfortably, and he knew she just wanted it all to end. He leaned over and rubbed her belly as well, but all he felt was happiness. If he could see Hermione in one way for the rest of his life, it would be like this. Bloated, and so beautifully with child.
“Harry?” she interrupted uncomfortably.
“Yeah?” he mumbled.
“You’re not listening to me!” she scolded angrily.
“What was I saying, then?” she asked, knowing perfectly well that he had drifted of somewhere.
“Something about elf-rights,” he joked and she laughed loudly. “Oh yeah, that we should name our daughter Elvy, or our son Elfson.”
Hermione smiled and added: “Dobby would be such an honorable name!
Harry lay on his elbow watching Hermione lying next to him in the bed. Her chestnut hair was wild on the pillow. She was breathing calmly and her eyes fluttered once in a while. He almost lost his breath when he watched her, she was so incredibly beautiful. He looked down at the thin blanket covering her, her large stomach almost poking him. He gently caressed her shoulder and she shuddered a bit.
“I love you,” he whispered knowing she couldn’t hear him.
How he had ever managed to live without her, he had no idea. He had truly lived his life in shadows. All the things he had thought were true never had been….
Watching Hermione’s face made him feel like the sun was shining down on him. He could truly face anything now, even more than he had. Because he had her, his companion, the one he was supposed to spend his days with. In honesty he was happy that he hadn’t known… well, he had always known, but never comprehended, how important she was. If he’d known, he would never have allowed her to go to war, and he’d never told her his true hearts secrets unless…well, she was who she was, his true heart.
He fought the urge to wake her up, he just wanted to hug her, hold her, kiss her, and make love to her. But she got so cranky in the morning, having to pee all night, he thought best of it. He leaned forward and kissed the tip of her nose. Her eyes shot open.
“Are you doing that weird thing again?” she yawned.
“What is that?”
“Watching me when I sleep?”
“Liar,” she yawned again.
“I can’t help it!” She laughed and pulled him down for a kiss.
“Now let me sleep,” she mumbled and closed her eyes again. Hermione turned around so her back was to him. He snuggled close to her and buried his face in her hair. She smelled wonderful, she smelled like love, home and the future… he closed his eyes again, trying to figure out what exactly the smell was. There it was, she smelled like; Hermione!
“Do you love me?” he whispered in her ear.
“Yes,” she mumbled. Harry was not content.
“Harry….” she was halfway asleep.
“What?” he answered innocently.
“I’m falling asleep as we speak….” she muttered. He thought for a few seconds.
“No, nothing Hermione. Go to sleep.” She closed her eyes and immediately started to breath heavier. His heart jumped another beat. He looked down at her face.
“More than yesterday, less than tomorrow,” she answered, interrupting his thoughts and squeezed his hand.
AN: That was the end guys, hope you liked it. I sure enjoyed writing it! Just to clarify to those who asked; No the kisses Hermione gave Ron and Draco in the previous chapter wasn’t because of “those” kind of feelings.
I am working on a new story, my first AU – depending on how it turns out, I might upload it. I just want to thank everyone who reviewed once again, it is really great! And thank you Chelsey, I couldn’t have uploaded the story without you.
***This story is dedicated to my dear friend who passed away this summer***