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A/N: Hey, guys! This is the first chapter of the sequel to The World According to Triple Chocolate Ice-Cream. It's just a very short follow up to that story, fifteen chapters (probably), thirteen of which I have written right now. I really, really hope you like it! And thanks for all the amazing reviews for the epilogue. They made me cry in a very good way. ~writergirl8
Ever since the war, Hermione had accidentally become obsessed with normal. It was an unfortunate love, mainly because her normal day was fairly boring. But, indeed, Hermione Weasley's idea of a perfect day was a normal day at work, dealing with normal issues, normal clients, normal paperwork, and normal cases. And that was just the way she liked it. Surprised, unprecedented circumstances... none of them had place in her life. Her desk was orderly, her day was orderly, her life was orderly. That was the way she wanted it. Of course, being best friends with Ginny Potter always made it a little bit harder to avoid surprises. But Hermione had gotten pretty good at it. In fact, she had realized long ago that one of the factors of her excellency at her job was the fact that she hated being shocked. In order to avoid being shocked at all costs, she would over do her research. Her opponents could never use the element of surprise. It drove most lawyers crazy.
Of course, for a person who didn't like surprises, marrying Ron Weasley probably wasn't the wisest thing to do. Still, as one of Hermione's best friends, Rose, always said, the heart wants what the heart wants. And, to state the glaringly obvious, Hermione's heart wanted Ron. When she'd married him, she known, of course, that there was going to be a schedule change. Ron and her living together would mean that she'd have to make dinner every night on a schedule, that she couldn't stay late at work without warning him, and that they would go home and have lunch every day. The latter change was good, Hermione loved that tradition. But it did mean that she had to be responsible about taking her lunch break on time.
Her hands flew across the document, expertly writing in everything she needed to and moving through her work. It was just simple, mindless paperwork, nothing really special, but Hermione found herself savoring this part of the day. It was the part where she could let her mind wander after she'd gotten into the rhythm of things. She'd been at this job for so long, the paperwork had become second nature, like the instinct that told you to brush your teeth before you went to bed. At first, it had taken sometime to get used to, but after a while Hermione could think about stuff other then work as she worked. Like, what to cook for dinner that night, or whether or not they would be too tired that night to... do stuff.
Yes, young married life was very exciting. They'd only been married for about a year and three months, so they were still in a slightly less glorified version of the Honeymoon stage, but Hermione was enjoying it immensely. And she thought Ron was too. She hadn't gotten used to being called Mrs. Weasley yet, and she always laughed or grinned or became a total sop whenever anyone used that name on her. Ron, too, loved it when someone called her Hermione Weasley, or she used it to introduce herself to someone. As a matter of fact, the day that plaque outside her office had started to read 'Hermione Weasley' instead of 'Hermione Granger'... well, Hermione wasn't going to go into details, but she didn't think she'd look at her desk the same way ever again.
It was that thought that was interrupted when her intercom clicked on and her secretary's voice flooded through the tiny speaker.
“Yes?” she said.
“Your husband is here to see you.”
“Alright. Send him in.”
She put her pen down and looked up just as Ron's fiery red head came through the door. He flashed her a grin, and Hermione felt her heart start to beat just a little bit faster. It didn't usually do this, but probably because of what she had just been thinking about when Ron walked through the door, Hermione was a little bit more emotion prone.
“Hi, sweetheart.” Ron said, coming over to kiss her. Hermione thanked Merlin for the fact that she wore stilettos to work and wrapped her arms around Ron's neck.
“Hi right back.” she said, nuzzling his nose.
“I need to talk to you.” Ron said, pulling back and going to sit at the love seat that was in the corner of her huge office.
“Are you okay? Do you need law consulting?”
“Well, that's always good. Just stuck at work?”
Ron always came to visit Hermione when he had a headache about his job. But this time, he shook his head.
“No. This is more personal.”
Hermione look at him, then narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms.
“I think I know what this is about.”
“You do?” Ron said, looking a little bit guilty and nervous.
“Yes. Ron, we've already addressed this. I'm not willing to have quickies in my office! It's my place of work, and-”
“Hermione, that is not what I came to talk about.” Ron interrupted, causing Hermione to turn bright red.
“Oh.” she said.
“But I don't see why not! I mean, I'd offer up my office but it's really only a cubical, and-”
“Right. Er-” Ron cleared his throat, then gestured for Hermione to sit down on the couch across from him. She complied, looking at Ron curiously, and he watched her sit down, his hands curled into little balls on his lap. “So... I've chosen to have this discussion here and instead of at home because it's basically neutral ground. And, also, you can't hex me at the Ministry of Magic.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow.
“You're scaring me. What could you possibly want to talk to me about here that you wouldn't want to talk to me about at home?”
“Well-” Ron started to say something, then stopped himself. He gave Hermione a pained look. “Mione, I prepared a speech and everything. Please don't make this harder on me.”
“Just shut it for about ten minutes, okay?”
“Fine.” Hermione said, sighing and smoothing her skirt out on her lap.
“So, we've been married for... what, a year and three months?”
“It would appear that way.” Hermione said before she could stop herself. Ron gave her a look. “Sorry, love. Natural instinct.”
“You're right, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have expected you to be able to keep your mouth shut when someone asks a question. It isn't in your nature.”
He waited for Hermione to reply, but she didn't. Remembering that he'd demanded she shut up for this, Ron plowed on with his speech.
“And, this year has been really great, right?”
Now he was looking at her expectantly, as if waited for an agreement. Hermione stared right back, looking a little smug.
“Right, Hermione?” Ron said again, looking a little wounded about her lack of enthusiasm. Hermione threw her hands into the air.
“Yes, it's been wonderful, but you told me to put a sock in it, and now you keep expecting me to answer questions. Make up your mind, Ron!”
“Fine. After this, I won't ask any more questions.” Ron said. He gave a very Umbridge like 'hem hem' and then began his speech for the third time. “Alright. So, we've both agreed that this marriage has been really excellent so far.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and made a hand gesture that clearly said 'get on with it'.
“Yeah, but, anyway, I was thinking that there might be a way to make this even better.”
He paused and stared up at her guiltily.
“Hermione, I want to have a baby.”
No emotion registered in her face, and she didn't say anything, either.
“Oh, you can talk now.”
“Sure. We'll have one in a few years, yeah. That'll make it great.” She stood up and started walking back over to her desk. “Is that all? I was thinking meatloaf for dinner tonight, we haven't had-”
“Hermione, you misunderstand me. I don't mean in a few years. I mean... let's start trying now.”
Only now did the shock that he had been waiting for come. Hermione's eyebrows both flew up, and her mouth opened slightly. Almost instantly, she closed it, and her emotions contradicted themselves as she started to frown.
“Oh. I... Ron!”
“That's... that's ridiculous! We're not ready! We've been married for year...”
“We've known each other for about thirteen years.”
“So? We haven't dated for thirteen years... and we're not ready.”
“Hermione,” Ron said, a little exasperated now. “The whole reason we got married was to have kids. Nancy and Cam, we had such a great time with them. And we wanted ones that were actually ours.”
“I know, but... no. Seriously no.”
“Why?” Ron asked, looking at her. “Why is now not as good a time as some other time would be?”
“Mainly because we haven't been married for all that long. We haven't been preparing at all. And we haven't... so many things.”
“Hermione, how prepared can you really be for something like this?”
“Really, really prepared! Ron, do you think we have enough money right now to put a child through Hogwarts?”
“Okay, how about enough money to raise a kid? Do you realize how much that would cost? I mean, we spent a hell of a lot of money on that wedding.”
“I was actually looking through the figures of our joint accounts last night. I think we'll be able to scrape by with what we have.”
“Do you really want to have to scrape by, Ron?”
“It might be fun to do some scraping.”
“You think so?”
Hermione put her hands on her hips and glared at Ron.
“Hermione, I know you like to think things through. I know that, I've always known that about you. But we'll have nine months to deal with this. Both of us have secure, very well paying jobs. And, let's face it, most of the money spent on our wedding was from the Robinson case. Those people payed you a hell of a lot of money, and the wedding barely even made a dent in our funds. We have a house, and plenty of friends and family that can babysit. We have rooms picked out for all of our children, and you already made that ridiculous babbity rabbity wallpaper purchase. What about this doesn't make sense?”
“I'm not ready to quit my job.”
“I don't want to have a nanny take care of our baby!”
“I don't know what to tell you. Are you ever going to want to quit your job, Hermione?”
“So why is this going to be easier in three years?”
“I don't know. It just will.”
“I think you're scared.” Ron challenged.
“Maybe I am.” Hermione whispered defiantly. And then Ron did something that really surprised her. He scooped her up into a hug.
“I know this frightens you. I mean, I was raised in a family that breeds like hippogriffs, and you're an only child. I've always known that I wanted to have zillions of little kids-”
“Zillions?” Hermione said in a high pitched voice.
“Well, maybe not zillions.” Ron amended.
“That's good.” Hermione squeaked.
“Look, the point is... I know it's not up to me. I mean, you're the one who's going to be puking and getting stretch marks and mood swings and going through the miracle of birth and all that. But... I just want you to think about it. Because... I love you. And I want us to have someone that's you and me running around. You know what I mean?”
Unfortunately, she did.
“Just think about it.” Ron whispered. And then he kissed the top of her head and left the room.
All day, Hermione struggled with it. She went through her paperwork thoroughly distracted, and it got to the point where she had to fix her mistakes with her wand because she couldn't get anything right. That said, Hermione was glad when, around six thirty, her secretary beeped into the room with a distraction.
“Mrs. Weasley, you have a visitor.”
Hermione bit her lip.
“It... it isn't Ron, isn't it?”
“No. It's Mr. and Mrs. Halliwell.”
Hermione's expression cleared.
“Oh, wonderful. Send them in.”
She stood up and straightened her skirt. A second later, a woman and a man, looking very much in love, swooped into the room and both gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“Hi, Hermione!” the woman said, and Hermione laughed joyfully.
“Hi, Lydia! How are you guys?”
“We're great.” the man said.
“Look!” Lydia said. “Warren!”
Hermione's eyes suddenly flitted down to the bundle that she hadn't noticed in Lydia's arms before. The couple's adopted baby boy. There'd been some trouble with the adoption a few months ago, and Hermione had gladly helped the two out. Now, they had their baby and were blissfully happy.
“Congratulations!” Hermione squealed.
“Would you like to hold him?” Lydia asked. Hermione recoiled. The honest truth was, she didn't really want to be around babies after the conversation she'd just had with Ron only a few hours ago. But the McGowans were looking at her so expectantly she couldn't resist.
“Of course.” Hermione said, albeit in a smaller voice. Mr. McGowan handed her the baby carefully, and Hermione took him in her arms. “Hi, Warren.” Hermione said quietly. “It's nice to meet you.”
The baby cooed, and the couple laughed.
“Hermione, you're a natural.” Mr. Halliwell said.
“You'll make a wonderful mother.” Lydia agreed.
And it was that observation that forced Hermione to make her decision.
He was seated on the couch, reading a Quidditch magazine. Hermione dropped her purse onto the designated table and walked over to him, slipping her hands around his shoulders and giving his neck a kiss. Ron, who hadn't heard her come in, immediately gave a little start, but calmed almost instantly when he realized who it was. He grinned at her nervously, and Hermione kissed him. She was a little glad that he was afraid of her wrath, but, of course, she wasn't going to be keeping him waiting for his answer for a while. She knew how hard it was to put yourself out there like that. After all, she'd done the same thing when she'd kissed him during the Final Battle. She'd had no way to know how he was going to react, and she didn't even get a proper answer until after the battle had ended, which had been awful for her. She wasn't going to do that to Ron.
“How was your day?” Ron asked. Hermione uttered a tired moan as she sat on the couch and slipped off her shoes.
“So-so.” she replied. “I was really distracted most of it, though.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah.” Hermione said, looking at him meaningfully.
“Sorry.” he said. And he truly did look sorry. Hermione exhaled.
“It's fine.” she said. “It... it isn't your fault. You were right in everything you said. I mean, yeah, it is ultimately my decision, because it will be my body and all that. But you're going to be the dad. It's also sort of your choice.”
“That's what I thought, too!” Ron said, looking enthusiastic. Hermione looked away from him and started staring at the wall above the empty mantle.
“Still...” Hermione said, looking at the wall. “Stretch marks, and morning sickness, and... everything will change. I'll have to go on maternity leave, I'll become fat, I'll have odd cravings...”
Ron's heart sank. She was saying no.
“God, this is tight.” Hermione said, undoing the zipper on her skirt. “Better.” she sighed.
Ron stayed silent, not even taking advantage of the fact that his wife had undone the zipper on an article of clothing. He stared at the same piece of wall Hermione had been looking at a few moments ago. And that was when he felt a tap on the shoulder. Ron turned towards his wife. She was looking at him expectantly. He gave her a quizzical look. What did she want him to do? What did she want him to say? She'd let him down. And he was a little disappointed, although he was trying not to look it. But Hermione was right. They'd have time.
“Well?” Hermione said suddenly.
“Well... what?” Ron asked, confused.
Hermione slipped the skirt off.
“Aren't you going to knock me up?”
“Honestly, Ron, I have no idea how you can watch this trash.”
“You have to look at it from the funny point of view, Hermione. Then you'll understand.”
“How is a television show about men intentionally trying to hurt themselves amusing?”
Ron considered this for a moment. Then he shrugged.
“Dunno. It just is.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, wondering what kind of filth she'd married, and turned back to the eight hundred page novel she was reading. That, she knew, was real entertainment. Something had just gone wrong with Ron's brain during development. But that was okay. She still loved him. A sudden scream of pain from the TV made her look up, and Hermione winced at the sight she saw.
“Vile.” she muttered under her breath.
“What was that?” Ron asked, turning to her. There was another shout from the set.
“I said vile. This makes me sick.”
“Oh, come on, Hermione. It really isn't that bad!”
Hermione fired up immediately.
“It isn't? Oh, really? Well, I'll have you know-”
But exactly what Hermione was going to have Ron know he would never know, because at that moment Hermione leaped up from her spot on the couch and made a run for the bathroom. Ron sat there for a few moments, wondering, but sudden retching noises made something in his brain click into place. He sprang up, bolted over to the bathroom, and immediately gathered Hermione's hair back, using his hand as a ponytail holder. With the other hand, he stroked her hair and made soothing noises. Hermione continued to be sick. When she was finally finished, Ron grabbed a cup of water and filled it up, then handed it to Hermione, who had sat herself on the floor. Ron sat down with her and held her while she drank. When she was finished, she didn't say anything, she just sat there, staring at the wall.
“When you said the show made you sick, I didn't think you meant it literally.” Ron said, trying to make light of the fact that his wife had just thrown up. Hermione didn't look at him.
“I need to see something.” she said finally, getting out of his arms and leaving the bathroom. Ron stared after her, but then shrugged it off. She must have had something bad to eat when she was going out to lunch with some business associates. He went over to the sink and brushed his teeth, then changed into his maroon plaid pajama bottoms and crawled into bed.
Hermione came back into the bedroom a few minutes later, looking a little bit faint. Ron sat up quickly, his eyes trained on her face.
“Are you alright?” he asked, but Hermione ignored him, walking into the master bathroom and brushing her teeth. When she came out, she was wearing pajama pants and a tank top. And she looked excited. “What's going on, Hermione?” Ron asked. She smiled at him.
“For what? Did we have somewhere to go tonight?” he frowned. “You're smiling about being late? Who are you and what have you done to my wife?”
“I didn't want to tell you, but that's the third time this week I've thrown up.” she smiled wider, her eyes urging him to get the hint. He didn't.
“And you're happy that you're puking your guts out because...?”
“I think it's morning sickness.”
“It's eleven o'clock at night, Hermione.” Ron pointed out helpfully. Hermione rolled her eyes.
“Morning sickness isn't limited to the morning, Ron.”
“Well then why do they call it morning sickness?” Ron asked indignantly.
“Solely for the purpose of making your life hell, Ron, is it working?”
Ron opened his mouth to retort, but Hermione beat him to it.
“I didn't name it, okay? I don't know.”
She sounded tried.
“Okay, so anyway, let's get back to it. You're late and you're happy about it, you're a serial puker and you're happy about it. Please explain, because unless this is opposite day, I could not be more confused.”
“I think I'm pregnant.”
It took a few moments for that to sink in.
“Wow.” Ron said weakly. “That was... fast.”
“I know. I must be extremely fertile.” Hermione said sarcastically. Ron looked offended.
“My contribution is not to be forgotten!” he said. Hermione rolled her eyes and kissed him.
“Of course not. You're very important to this whole process.”
“I know I am.” Ron said smugly. “And I do my part well, don't you think?”
“Oh, definitely.” Hermione responded.
“So, anyway, how do we find out if you've got a bun in the oven?”
“A bun in the oven?”
She crossed her arms and gave Ron a look that he never actually saw. He was too busy concentrating on how good her cleavage looked when she crossed her arms in her little white tank top. Hermione snapped her fingers to get his attention, feeling annoyed but also a little bit pleased with herself.
“Ron, eyes up, please.” she said. He looked up at her.
“Sorry.” he said, although he didn't too sorry at all. “So, how do you find out if you're pregnant, then?”
“Well, I just sent an owl to my Healer requesting an appointment. But, for now, I think I'm going to use the old muggle trick, because, while there is a spell, you need to be trained to be able to do it. It's very difficult, and only Healer approved. Most witches just choose to wait until we can get to the Healers, but some of us more impatient ones pee on a stick.”
“Oh. Well, I can go see if I can find one in the back yard, but I don't fancy looking around for it at ni-”
“Ron, I don't literally mean a stick!” Hermione said, exasperated. She shook her head. “You were the one who wanted the baby so bad, and now it seems as though I know more about this then you do.”
“Hermione, I know how the baby is made, and I pretty much know how to deal with it when it arrives. Before that, though, I am completely lacking any form of knowledge, other than what I heard Ginny complain about while she was pregnant with James.”
“Real reassuring. So what do you think?”
“About what?” Ron asked.
“Should I pee on a stick, or should we wait?”
“Just wait. It's not like the answer will be different, or anything, and it's eleven o'clock at night. We both have work tomorrow, and I have a meeting at ten.”
“You sound thrilled at the idea.” Hermione said, throwing back the expertly made covers and crawling into bed. Ron waited for her to assume the usual position, her head on his chest, her knees nearly touching her chin, but instead Hermione attempted to sleep on her back. He was slightly disconcerted. This was unprecedented; Ron couldn't remember the last time he'd slept without Hermione cuddled up next to him. He stared at her, a little unnerved, but she was staring up at the ceiling, looking uncomfortable on her back. Finally, he shrugged, turned from his back to his side, and attempted to fall asleep. But Hermione was constantly letting out little moans of annoyance at her current position on her back, and trying to shift around to make herself more comfortable. It was obvious that she was afraid to sleep on her stomach, which Ron found ridiculous. He was almost positive that you couldn't harm such a small fetus by sleeping on your tummy... then again, what did he know? Hadn't he just admitted only a few moments ago that his knowledge on babies was rather negligible? So he tried, again, to fall asleep, but Hermione's tossing and turnings were so loud and annoying that Ron was going crazy. He tried several different sleeping positions, such as lying on his stomach (which he didn't like), lying with a pillow over his head (which he also didn't like) and a combination of the two, lying on his stomach with half the pillow bent over his ears (which he really didn't like). Finally, he reached breaking point. He arched his back upwards and banged his fists against the pillow.
“Hermione, just pee!” he cried.
“Oh, no, I can't, Ron, it's nearly twelve o'clock!”
“Mione, does it look like either of us are getting any sleep?” Ron asked pointedly.
Hermione didn't need to be told twice.
“Okay, fine.” she said, flushing and getting out of bed. She stumbled over to the bathroom, flicked on the light, and bent down. Ron heard her rummaging through a drawer. Then, a second later, she ran the faucet and Ron heard her gulp something. Suddenly, she called his name. Groaning to himself, Ron got out of bed and lumbered dutifully over to the bathroom.
“Keep me company?” Hermione pleaded. Ron nodded.
They both sat on the bathroom counter and waited. At first they were silent, but then they started talking. About work, and Quidditch, and Hermione's book (as you can see, they did their best to compromise on subjects, although Ron couldn't resist teasing Hermione just a little bit about reading an eight hundred page book) and eventually James, Harry and Ginny's son. They were in the middle of laughing about Luna's latest boyfriend when Hermione went silent, and her features grew unreadable.
“What is it?” Ron questioned. There was a long silence before Hermione answered him.
“I... I'm scared.” she said at last.
“Of what?” Ron asked, surprised.
“What if it says no?”
“How could it possibly say no?” Ron said. “We've been doing it like bunny rabbits.”
“Yes, thank you, Ron, for that lovely analogy.” Hermione said sarcastically. Then her voice became a whisper again. “What if I can't get pregnant?”
“Weren't we just celebrating your fertileness in the bedroom, Hermione?”
“Yeah, but this is the bathroom! It's a totally different world in here!” her voice was just a little bit desperate.
“Hermione,” Ron said quietly, “if you can't get pregnant, we'll adopt. Or do whatever needs to be done. You want this baby, don't you?”
Hermione nodded, and swallowed.
“At first I didn't, but now I've really latched onto the idea.” she said nervously.
“And I want it, too. So we'll do whatever it takes. It'll be fine.”
And just to prove his point, he hopped off of the counter and opened his arms. Hermione gave him a weak smile and fell into them, inhaling deeply. Ron breathed in the sent of her hair, savored the feeling of his chin on her head, and her small little body pressed against him. His arms were wrapped around her, and he knew for a fact that he could stay like this forever and ever and-
“Ron?” said a small voice.
“I have to pee.”
“In order for me to pee, you have to let me go.”
“Oh, yeah, right, sorry.”
He opened his arms a little resentfully and let her grab the stick, then go over to the toilet. He leaned against the doorway and waited, but after a few seconds Hermione bit her lip and looked up at him.
“Can you leave?”
“Why?” Ron asked, slightly offended.
“I can't pee while you're here, you're making me nervous.”
He rolled his eyes and walked back over to the warm covers, mumbling incoherently about the fact that he had seen her pee many times before and she'd done just fine then. But, of course, the one time he actually really wanted to be there, she kicked him out. Women.
A few minutes later, Hermione joined him in the bed.
“What now?” Ron asked.
“We wait.” Hermione said simply. She placed her hands on her stomach and stared up at the ceiling again, moving her lips as if counting the seconds. Finally, she glanced over at the clock. Ron looked, too.
“Okay, time to check.” she said. But she seemed frozen in place. Ron knew that she couldn't look. She glanced over at him, her eyes begging.
“Please? Look at it for me?”
Ron sighed. He was almost asleep, and frankly he didn't see why this couldn't wait until morning, or why Hermione, at least, couldn't look. It wouldn't be different no matter who looked at it, and the result wouldn't have changed at eight o'clock in the morning, either. It would be so much nicer to be able to celebrate then instead of at twelve o'clock at night. However, he couldn't turn her down now, not when her eyes were so pleading and vulnerable. So Ron got out of bed, went over to the bathroom, turned the light on, and checked the stick. Then he turned the light off, walked out of the bathroom, and lay back down in the bed, where Hermione was looking faint with anxiety. He turned over a few times, plumped his pillow, and adjusted the blankets. He finally shifted himself so that he was in a position with his back facing Hermione. He didn't actually want to sleep like this, he was just doing it for dramatic effect. He lay his head down, and, fully aware that Hermione's eyes were watching him rabidly, proceeded to attempt to fall asleep. He had just started to breathe evenly when Hermione poked him, just having realized that he had no intention of turning around.
She stared at him some more. He stared at her right back.
“Well?” Hermione asked anxiously and, it had to be said, a little thrown off by her husband's behavior.
“Well what?” Ron echoed.
“What did it say?” Hermione asked insistently.
“What did what say?” Ron inquired, pretending not to understand.
“The test!” Hermione cried, jumping up. Now that she was towering over him, Ron thought it might be in his best interest to give the information up as soon as possible. “Am I pregnant or not?”
“Oh.” She sat on his stomach, looking extremely nervous, suddenly. “Well, yeah.” Ron said.
Hermione stared at him blankly.
“Am I pregnant... or not... which was that a yes to?” she sounded slightly hysterical.
“Careful, Hermione.” Ron said in a calming voice. “I hear too much stress can effect the baby.”
Hermione's face broke out into a smile.
“Does... does that mean what I think it does?”
She screamed and kissed him, then threw her arms around his neck. He stroked her hair and for some reason found that he was crying a little bit, perhaps because she was crying, perhaps because he knew he was going to be a father, perhaps just because of the idea that Hermione was carrying his baby. The thought made him love her even more. Ron kissed her lips, then her chin, then a spot on her neck. He kissed the spot where her heart supposedly was, and then, finally, her stomach.
“We're going to be parents.” Hermione whispered, her voice more awestruck then excited. “In nine months, we're going to be parents.”
A/N: This is modeled after my parents' own baby story, which is quite similar to this one. I wrote this chapter two summers ago when I was visiting Canada, which ought to tell you how long it's been since it was finished and TTIC was finished as well. It's been forever. Anyways, I hope you're all enjoying this and War of the Exes and hope that you will continue to read and review. ~writergirl8
Her fingers tapped incessantly against the table, and Ron resisted the urge to A) Reach over and cover Hermione's hand with his own, or B) Strangle her. Hermione had been going crazy the whole morning, and Ron couldn't help thinking that this was much too different from the mushy lovey doveyness that they'd been so enjoying ever since the pregnancy test that Hermione had taken around midnight a few nights ago. And the test after that. And the test after that. And the test after that. Yes, anyone would agree that Hermione was absolutely anal when it came to... well, most things. But really, really anal when it came to statistics, specifically the statistics that stated whether or not she was pregnant. Sometimes, it was too much for a husband to bear. At first, he had revered the stick. The second time he'd been respectful of it. But by the fifth pregnancy test, Ronald Weasley would have been happy never to see a bloody pregnancy stick again. And, for the love of merlin, Hermione acted the same every single time! You'd have thought that she would have known the result by the sixth positive test, but no! She was just as nervous, just as excited, as she had been the first test. Ron liked to be the only one who called Hermione bonkers. But by the eighth and final pregnancy test, he was opening the floor for discussion.
“Mr. and Mrs. Weasley?” a gentle voice said, and Ron looked up to see a brunet woman with lime green Healer robes addressing them. He was about to answer yes when Hermione beat him to it.
“We are. Are you Healer Jennings?”
The woman nodded. “Yes. Come on in,” she said. Hermione stood up and nervously scampered into the room after her. Ron followed suit after taking a big breath and praying to merlin that he whole visit would go as smoothly as possible. The room was of medium size with lime green floors and white walls. Unlike muggle hospital rooms, there were no beeping machines, but the Healers did use a special type of wand. It was long, clear, and a little lethal looking. Come to think of it, Ron had no idea why they used special wands. He was sure that if he asked Hermione she'd be off like a rocket, but he didn't want the Healer to be offended. Instead, he made a mental note to ask his wife later. In the meantime, he turned his attention towards the two women who were situated around the table. Hermione was lying down, her shirt lifted up to reveal her stomach. Ron noticed that it seemed a little, just a teeny-tiny little bit bigger then he remembered it to be. But that didn't make sense. They'd only been trying for a month. The baby would be roughly the size of his fingernail, no- smaller, right? Hermione hadn't seemed to notice the difference. She was watching Healer Jennings with fascination on her face, which made Ron inwardly laugh. Only his Hermione. He walked over to the table and joined the two. Hermione took his hand and he squeezed hers, but she held a death grip to his, and that was when Ron finally began to understand just how nervous his wife was. This made him hold on even tighter, and they stayed like that until the Healer started asking questions.
“Are you two hoping for a certain gender?” she asked conversationally. Both shook their heads.
“I knew when I married Ron that the chances of having a girl were very slim.” Hermione said. “It's something I've come to terms with.”
Healer Jennings laughed. The Weasleys were notorious for their many children and lack of females. The comment could have offended Ron, but luckily he laughed too.
“And do you know how far along you are?” Healer Jennings inquired.
“Not really,” Ron said, shrugging. “Can't be more than a month.”
Healer Jennings directed her attention to something her wand was projecting onto her clipboard, frowning.
“How long did you two say you've been trying?” she asked carefully.
“Just a little over a month” Hermione replied.
“Well, Mrs. Weasley, you're two months pregnant.”
Hermione's smile froze in place.
“Two months?” Hermione asked, shocked. “How... how is that possible? We hadn't stopped using the spells before a few weeks ago...”
“Well, it must have been an accident, then.” Healer Jennings said. “Because you got pregnant sometime in January.”
“January...” Hermione said faintly. Comprehension suddenly dawned on her face. “Ron! You idiot!” she shouted.
“Why is Ron an idiot?” Healer Jennings asked, but Ron was already yelling right back at Hermione.
“I'M an idiot?” he asked. “Me?”
“YOU! I ALWAYS do the work! And the ONE TIME I don't have my wand and need you to do it, you screw it up!”
Ron suddenly seemed to remember that time.
“Oh yeah...” he said faintly.
“Now you've lost us A MONTH, Ronald!”
“Don't you Ronald me, I'm sorry, okay?”
“How could you be so idiotic?”
“Have I ever been able to get a spell right the first time I tried it? What the hell were you expecting from me?”
“I do the absolute best I possibly can, Hermione, and-”
“We won't be prepared! Our baby will resent us and hate us and run away and join the circus...”
“...Accept that then it's just too damn bad, but...”
The light in the room flicked off and Healer Jennings gestured towards the wall. Hermione and Ron both turned, and suddenly became transfixed with the image splayed out on the white plaster wall.
“This,” Healer Jennings said gently, “Is your baby.”
Ron sunk down on the stool next to Hermione, his eyes transfixed on the image.
“It looks like a kidney bean.” he said softly.
“Oh, I can zoom in.” Healer Jennings said, waving her wand.
“Now it looks like a zoomed in on kidney bean.” Hermione breathed.
When Ron looked at her, he was not at all surprised to see tears in her eyes. That was their baby. Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley had a baby together. Hermione, the Hermione he'd known and loved all those years, was carrying his child. In her stomach. He thought back to the first time he'd met her, when he'd had dirt on his nose, and she'd been a bossy little thing. She still was, but he'd gotten used to it. Back then, though... if someone had told him that twelve years later he'd be married to Hermione leviooohhhsaaa-not-leviosaaaaa Granger with a baby on the way, he would have laughed them off of the Hogwarts express. If someone had told him in his fourth year, he would have turned bright red and walked away. If someone had told him in sixth year, he would have muttered for them to shove off and cast a nervous glance in Hermione's direction to gauge her reaction. And if someone had told him when he was seventeen, Ron would have made a sarcastic comment, then run off to a secluded area to happily contemplate the idea for as long as he could before he was interrupted. During the war, Ron had thought a lot about the future because he'd been forced to admit that he might not have one. He'd realized he wanted kids, and he also wanted Hermione. So during those lonely months in the woods he'd think of Hermione with a baby, Hermione kissing him. Hermione in a gorgeous white dress. Now that this was a reality, Ron was torn between the two opposing desires of running away as fast as he could and never, ever leaving Hermione's side again. Ever.
He turned to Hermione, wanting to say something, wanting to tell her everything he felt, but he couldn't put it into words. She seemed to understand, though, by the look on his face, and she gave him a watery smile. Ron wished that he was crying like her, but he never cried. For some reason, this made him feel guilty. But he couldn’t' remember the last time he'd cried, maybe his wedding, and so it wasn't anything personal to Hermione or the baby. He loved them both- Hermione was just generally more leaky then he was. Ron didn't know why, but somehow that made him love her more. He imagined her heart growing bigger and bigger, like that classic muggle Christmas story that Hermione loved to watch. Of course, Ron knew from Ginny that the mood swings were going to drive him mad. Hermione would anger easily, cry more easily. But she'd also be happy more easily, and Ron's favorite part was that sometime during her pregnancy Hermione was going to become extremely horny. The only disadvantage to that, Harry said, was that Ginny was already a little fat and less flexible by the time she wanted to shag him every single second of the day. That was the thing Ron was looking forward to least. He loved Hermione's figure, and he didn't want to change anything about it. Her flat stomach made everything fit her perfectly. And the highlight of his day was quite honestly looking at her butt as she bent down to get something out of the oven for dinner.
“For the record, for future visits, you know, do you want to know the sex of the baby?” Healer Jennings asked, bringing Ron back to the time and place. Neither he nor Hermione tore their eyes away from the image of their baby while they answered the question.
Both of them turned to look at each other.
“Why would you want to know?” Ron asked.
“Why wouldn't you?” Hermione replied.
“Oh, merlin.” said Healer Jennings.
“It's a tradition in my family!” Ron said, starting to look alarmed. “Where do you think the story of my mum telling them to get rid of me when I was born came from?”
“But without knowing the gender, we won't be able to decorate the nursery, or ask for baby clothes, or-”
“Do you really want to dishonor a longstanding Weasley tradition?”
“Yes.” Hermione said, crossing her arms.
“No!” Ron cried in exasperation.
“You owe me for me not going to my parents' for summer vacation ten times in the past twelve years.”
“I didn't make you do that, and we spent Christmas with your parents last year.”
“You didn't make me do it?” Hermione said thunderously. “You didn't make me?”
And then she was full out yelling.
“Ever since you sacrificed yourself during that bloody chess game during first year, everything I've done has bloody been for you! Brewing the polyjuice potion, because, while I was afraid for myself, I was scared they'd go after you because you're a blood traitor. And when we were back in time, do you think it didn't kill me to watch you get your leg broken and cry out in pain and not being able to do anything about it? And in fourth year, with the Yule Ball, I tried so hard to get you to ask me and you didn't! And Dumbledore's Army? That was for you, Ron. I was worried to pieces that you wouldn’t be able to defend yourself. Not Harry, not me, you! And why do you think I didn't blow Lavender Brown to bits? I thought she made you happy! And every day on that bloody horcrux hunt I had to prepare myself for the idea that you might not make it and I'd be left on this earth without you. That only made me try harder to protect you, but, god, Ron, how the hell do you think I felt having to think about that? Do you think, Ron, that I wanted to spent summers and Christmases without my family? Do you think I wanted to go months and months without seeing my parents? I used to be so close to them! Do you think I had to help you with your bloody homework every single damn night of the school year? No, I bloody did not! So every thing I've ever done since I've known you has been completely for you, and if I ever hear you saying that it hasn't been I'll bloody divorce you!”
She cut off, breathing hard and glaring at her husband, whose mouth had long ago fallen open into a very Ron like expression. Healer Jennings shifted uncomfortably, not knowing what to do. Crying happily and mushy love, that she dealt with every day. Annoyed teenagers angry to be there, that she could work with. This she had no idea how to handle. Even some people who didn't really want their baby seemed to melt at the sight of it. So never, in all her years as a Healer, had Healer Jennings seen anything like this. She wasn't trained for it, she wasn't expecting it, she wasn't used to it, and, frankly, all she could think about right now was getting the hell out of the room so that the Weasleys could talk this out.
“I... do you guys want photos?””
Ron was still staring, unmoving, at Hermione, so the wife was the one that answered the question, in a normal, quiet, sweet voice.
“Yes, please. That would be wonderful!”
“Right. I'll make a few copies, so that I'll be out of the roo- I mean, so that you'll have more to give to your family.”
“Thanks.” Hermione said, and then Healer Jennings whirled around and left the room, closing the door tightly behind her. Hermione turned towards Ron, ready to apologize for snapping at him, but as soon as her head turned around a pair of lips were on hers, and he was kissing her. Surprised that this hadn't taken longer, Hermione took a little while to shut her eyes. Once she did, she sunk into the kiss. Kissing Ron was like renewal. Every time she kissed him like this, she remembered why she loved him, no matter how angry she was at him, no matter where they were, and no matter what was going on. Ron seemed to know this, and enjoyed using it against her, which never failed to make Hermione a little more giggly and a little less angry at her husband. The anger, of course, was instead directed towards herself for being so easy to win over. She still hadn't figured out Ron's weakness yet, but that was probably a good thing. Whenever he got angry, it was for a really good reason, while she became ticked off for the little things.
“I'm sorry.” Ron said, pulling back. “I never should have said that, you're right.”
Hermione smiled at him, but she didn't say anything. She was waiting for something.
“And we can find out the gender of the baby. I don't care about stupid old Weasley traditions anyways.”
She smiled wider and reached up to kiss him again, slow and soft. She pulled back, her arm wound around Ron's neck, Ron hovering over her, bending over the lime green hospital bed.
“Ron,” she said. “That's really sweet. And that's exactly what I wanted you to say. But-” she kissed his nose lightly. “We'll wait to find out if it's a girl or a boy.”
Ron's face broke out into a smile.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because marriage is about compromises, and this compromise will make you happy. Plus, I'm a Weasley now. It's my tradition, too.”
“You're brilliant.” Ron whispered. “But this is going to drive you crazy.”
“I need to grow out of it. Being driven crazy by lack of control is long overdue for me.”
Ron opened his mouth to protest.
“No, really, Ron.” Hermione said, holding a hand up. “I've spent so much of my life doing things for you. And I really want to do this. I love taking care of you like that.”
Ron looked like he was about to argue, but instead he bent down and kissed her.
“Okay. Thank you.” he said.
“See, now, was that do hard?”
Ron pulled back and grimaced.
“Yes. I've always found it extremely difficult to get my way. I'm selfless like that.”
A/N: So, did you like it? I hope you did! I think this chapter is adorable. Also, I want to apolagize in advance (or maybe not, I could have already screwed it up) for how little I know about babies. I did a bit of research but... god, there's a lot, and I'm a student so I don't have all that much time to be researching. However, if you see anything wrong with the facts in the chapters, feel free to tell me. ~writergirl8
“I am so sick of puking all over the place.” Hermione said blandly, staring at Ron's breakfast with a repulsed look on her face. Her husband set down his fork and gave her an annoyed look.
“Mione, I've given up eggs for you, and I've given up bacon for you, but there is no way in hell I'm going to stop eating sausage.”
Hermione stood up and sighed.
“It was worth a try.”
“If you say so.” Ron said. Hermione loosened her shoulders and went over to kiss Ron. “What was that for?” he asked. “I thought we were going to fight!”
He actually seemed a bit disappointed. Hermione slapped his arm.
“I hate going to work angry at you. That's my favorite solution.”
Ron smiled peacefully.
“Mine too, come to think of it.”
“Great minds think alike, then.” Hermione told him, laughing.
“Guess what I'm thinking right now?” Ron asked, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Hmmmm...” Hermione said, twisting his hair around her fingers and kissing him.
“Damn, you're good at this.” Ron murmured, pulling back.
“I have my moments.” Hermione smirked. “What am I thinking?”
“'I want to stay home all day with my husband and break in our new bed?'”
“I'm pretty sure it's pretty much broken in. So, no.”
“Then probably, 'if we don't stop snogging we're going to be late for work, so we'd better get going.'”
Hermione closed her eyes and smiled.
“I just remembered why I married you.”
“Oh, I'm so glad.”
Hermione laughed and leaned down to get her purse, teetering in her stilettos.
“Whoa!” Ron said, catching her.
“Sorry. As my stomach gets bigger, it's harder to see my feet and balance and all that.”
“I understand that you want to be professional, Hermione, but I find it pretty ridiculous that you wear those torture contraptions when you're with child.”
“I can't stop everything just for the baby, Ron. I have to go about work as I've always had. That means heels.”
“Yeah, but I don't think it's safe. I may not be very smart, but I'm not stupid.”
Hermione shook her head.
“These heels made me successful. I'm not going to stop wearing them.”
She started to walk towards to door, but Ron grabbed her waist.
“Okay, I'll make you a deal.” He said, his breath tickling her ear. Hermione shivered a bit, it tickled, and she loved how Ron's voice sounded so close to her ear. “We'll ask mum and Ginny about it, and you have to listen to whatever they say. Deal?”
“Deal.” Hermione agreed. “But, um, first we have to tell them that I'm pregnant...”
Ron slapped his forehead.
“I completely forgot we haven't done that! Why haven't we done that?”
Hermione turned around to face him, winding her arms around his neck.
“Because we've been having random snogging sessions whenever we were both at home and didn't want to risk getting the urge for another one while near family,” Hermione said in a tone of voice that would suggest she was answering a question in Charm's class.
“Right.” Ron said, smiling fondly.
“But maybe we should tell Ginny first? I mean, remember what happened when we wanted to tell her we were back together at the same time as the family?”
“Vaguely.” Ron said, wrinkling his nose. “But I think this is different. We haven't kept this secret since the Hogwarts Reunion.”
“We were so good at that.”
“Yeah.” Ron said, kissing her nose. “We were excellent.”
“Wouldn't it have been fun if we'd eloped, kept the secret we were married until we got pregnant, and then just sprung it all together on them?”
“If you'd suggested that, I would have asked if you were trying to kill my mother and Ginny in one go.”
“Haha. You're so funny, Ronald.”
He raised his eyebrows at her. Hermione blushed and shrugged.
“What? What? Can't a wife call her husband by his full name occasionally?”
“Because it's just so sexy?”
“Oh, and Ron is?” Hermione snorted. Ron narrowed his eyes at her, and Hermione swallowed and looked guiltily up at him. “I love you?”
Ron considered this for a few seconds. Then he shrugged and leaned down to catch her bottom lip in both of his.
“Okay.” He glanced at his watch and groaned. “We really do need to be going, now.”
“So responsible.” Hermione said, patting his arm lovingly. She took his hand and they apparated together. Once at the ministry, they headed to the lifts and stood with Ron's arms around Hermione until they came to his floor.
“Be careful.” Ron muttered into her ear. A final kiss to the top of Hermione's head and Ron left, whistling as he went. Smiling softly to herself, Hermione waited five more floors until she finally reached her own. Then, she walked over to her office, opened the door, and threw her purse onto her couch, feeling fuller then she had in quite a while. She immediately sat down to her work until about a half an hour later when she heard the buzzer.
“Yes?” Hermione said, frowning. She was on a roll with her case research, and she didn't want to be interrupted without an appointment.
“Mr. Kennington is here to see you.”
Hermione's eyes widened. Her boss rarely came to see her anymore. He spoke to her through owls and secretaries, because he trusted her enough not to have to waste his time actually talking to her all day. It was a system that worked well for both of them, because then Hermione got raw facts on paper, anyways. But she knew that if the man actually came to speak to her, it was big.
“Send him in.”
She stood up, finger-combed through her hair, and straightened her skirt. As Mr. Kennington walked into her office, Hermione went to shake his hand, smiling brightly at him.
“How are you, Mr. Kennington?”
This was exactly why he didn't like communicating with her, Hermione knew. She always had to make pleasantries. It was just the way she'd been raised.
“I'm doing very well, thank you, Mrs. Weasley,” he said. “But as you know, Kathrine, who's the Head-of-Department, is going to be retiring soon. I don't know what I'll do without her.”
Kathrine Adleson held the second highest position in the department, right under Mr. Kennington. Hope started to curl in Hermione's stomach. Was this going where she thought it was?
“Hopefully you'll find a suitable replacement, sir.”
“I already have.” Mr. Kennington. Hermione's heart sunk. She hadn't even thought to put herself out there for the job, and now it was gone. But Mr. Kennington smiled at her and raised his eyebrows, and suddenly Hermione understood. “Would you like the job, Mrs. Weasley?”
“I... yes! I'd love it!”
This would be huge, absolutely huge for her. She laughed gleefully and shook Mr. Kennington's hand when he offered it.
“Great. So, you'll get a pay raise, and you'll get to expand your office, and... what?”
He'd just noticed that her face had fallen.
“I... I'm going on maternity leave in a few months. You might need someone else to take the job.”
Mr. Kennington considered this for a few seconds. Then he said,
“It's fine. You're worth it. Katherine will stay until you're ready to come back.”
“Thank you! Thank you so much!” Hermione said, and the man nodded at her before turning away to leave the office. As soon as he was gone, Hermione rushed out of her office and to the elevator so that she could get to Ron's office. He wasn't there, so she headed to the auror conference room. Three men were in there, arguing over something heatedly and facing a map.
“For the love of god! We've checked there about eight times!” Ron said, banging his fist on the table in exasperation.
“To do it again would be a waste of funds.” Harry agreed. “Cross it off.”
The man crossed something off of the map, then threw his pen down and stormed out of the room.
“Merlin, does he have a temper.” Harry sighed.
“Mmmm. Glad we're above him. It'd be awful to have to work for that jerk.” Ron added, while Harry nodded. Hermione crept up behind Ron and placed her hands on his shoulders, beginning to massage him. Ron closed his eyes and muttered a little “Thanks.” Then, suddenly, his eyes popped open. “Er- you'd better be my wife. And if you're not, please go away, because... as I just said, I have a wife.”
Harry opened his mouth to tell Ron, but Hermione made a little shushing noise at him. She opened her mouth to speak in a thick Russian accent.
“But in a few months, your wife will be a fat pig, and you will not want her anymore!”
“Now, see here-” Ron said, turning around. He saw Hermione, laughed, and hugged her.
“That was a test.” She whispered in his ear.
“Did I pass?” Ron wanted to know.
“With flying colors. But I knew you would.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“So, do what to we owe this pleasure?” Harry asked.
Hermione pulled away from Ron.
“Can't I just come downstairs to visit my husband and best friend every once in a while?”
“You never do.” Ron pointed out.
“So what is it?” Ron pressed. “Good news or bad news?”
“Sit down, boys.” Hermione instructed, rubbing her hands together. They sat. “I'm being promoted.”
There was an explosion of sound as the two men started congratulating Hermione. Both got up to hug her, and there was an awkward beat as Ron and Harry went to do so at the same time. Harry laughed and stepped back.
“You go, she's your wife.”
It was just one of the examples of how their friendship had changed since they were at Hogwarts. They'd known each other double that amount of time, but old habits had died hard. Whenever Harry was around now, he was shunted aside by Ron for Hermione, and Hermione for Ron. None of them had ever wanted it to be that way, but that was how it turned out. And, anyway, with Harry and Ginny Ron became least important. So Hermione was really the person whose dynamic was least effected by marriage.
“Nah, mine'll take longer.” Ron said, his eyes twinkling. Harry chuckled and hugged Hermione, then stepped back as Ron engulfed Hermione in his arms and snogged her good and well. “I'm so proud of you.” he whispered in her ear, causing her to start kissing him again.
“Thanks.” she said. Then, aware that they had just snogged in their workplace, Hermione cleared her throat and stepped back. “I get a bigger office and a pay raise! I can't wait to tell everyone.”
“Just don't make it all about work tonight.” Ron warned. “Tonight's about the baby.”
Hermione widened her eyes and placed her hand delicately on her heart.
“Yes!” both Harry and Ron said simultaneously.
“Fine.” Hermione grumbled.
A/N: So, I must say, lately I have been loosing my faith in my ability as a fanfic author. I just haven't been feel as good about my writing. However, two things have happened to completely turn that around. First, I went back into World According To and read some of the reviews. You guys were absolutely amazing and kind and unbelivable. It almost made me cry again, especially seeing your reactions to certain things. You had no faith in my love for our ship, haha. So, anyways, thanks for that. Looking back on those helped so much. I pounded out another one-shot that night.
Also, my cousin made me the most wonderful stocking present ever. She made this book called "The Illustrated Works of Writergirl8" in which she found pieces of fanart and lined them up with pieces of my writing. So there's a beautifully illustrated piece of fanart and then a quote from any one of my novel-lengths and one-shots right next to it. It's just... breathtaking. I wish you guys could see it!
Just want to let you know that I have a new one-shot up. It's a crack!fic called Harry Potter and the Lord Who Shipped. It's about Voldemort shipping Romione. I find it to be absolutely brilliant, but that's just me. Maybe.
Anyways, I love you guys. Thanks for sticking with me. Happy New Year and a great 2012 and the next chapter will be up soon. ~writergirl8
“Hi, Molly! How are you doing?” Hermione said, hugging her mother-in-law.
“Wow, you're getting better at calling her Molly.” Ron commented, shaking his father's hand.
“Yes, well, it's become a bit harder for me to call her Mrs. Weasley, seeing as that's me now, too.”
“It's weird for me, as well. So many other women running around as Mrs. Weasley... I'm simply not used to it.”
“Ah, mum. It's going to be like that for the rest of our lives, so just figure it out.” Ron said, and Molly swatted his shoulder and pulled him into a hug.
“Oh, Ronnie, you have something on your cheek.” she said, reaching up to get it. Hermione glanced over.
“Oh, that's my lipstick. I've got it.” she said, doing it for Molly. The four suddenly paused as everyone stared at each other. It suddenly felt natural that Hermione take over that role for Molly, but Molly was still so very used to being Ron's mother. No one knew what to do, so Hermione turned to Mr. Weasley and said, in her loudest voice,
“Hi, Hermione.” he said. Molly, bright red and looking a little teary, turned around and went to the kitchen. Hermione frowned and bit her lip.
“What do I do?” she asked Arthur and Ron desperately. Ron, to no one's surprise, seemed at a loss for words. Mr. Weasley shook his head.
“Hermione, you just proved to Molly that her youngest son has completely replaced her and doesn't need her a single bit anymore. She probably feels like no one needs her... I mean, Ron, besides Charlie, who she holds no hope for, was the last to get married.”
“She has grandchildren.” Ron pointed out, winking at Hermione over his father's shoulder. She rolled her eyes and mouthed, not the time!
“It's not the same, Ron.”
“I'll go.” Hermione said, and she placed her coat on the little coat hanger and went into the kitchen. Molly had evidentially shooed everyone out, for she was alone. “Molly?”
“Oh!” Molly quickly stowed her handkerchief back in her pocket. “I was just starting the prepare the...”
“He still needs you.” Hermione said, cutting her off abruptly.
“Hmmm?” Molly asked in a light tone.
“You're his mother. He'll always need you. I haven't replaced you in one bit... I... I mean, yeah, it was my instinct to rub my lipstick off of his cheek and everything, but... I'm not his mum. He uses me for entirely different things, I promise.”
“Oh.” Molly said, this time a little more tired. “I know. But he was the last one. Ron was always the most awkward of my boys, the underdog, and therefor he was the one I felt needed the most protection. I prepared myself to Mother-Hen him all his- my- life. But now, there's someone else to do such a similar job for me, and it's taking my all not to tell you what foods he does and doesn't like, and how he likes his meat cooked, and the fact that he always forgets to hang up his towel, and that he has trouble unbuttoning those collard shirts that he wears to work, and-”
“You think I haven't noticed all that?” Hermione asked softly. “I know everything there possibly is to know about your son. I could write a five hundred paged book on him, full of completely accurate information. I could tell you anything, anything at all, about that man.”
Another sniffle. Then Molly gathered Hermione into her arms in a gesture that could only be described as motherly.
“I remember one day in the summer after your fourth year. You'd just come to Grimmuald Place, and Ron walked in on you writing a letter to Viktor Krum. He was up in arms about it, ranting and raving to me, fuming, for hours. And that was when I first realized he had feelings for you. I think my first thought was, 'Merlin help us. Ron has discovered his hormones'. Turns out I wasn't far off base in my prediction of how he'd be. But in the end, everything was worth it. Even all the fights I had to listen to, the names I heard him call you, and the idiotic way he acted over jealousy that I had to hear about from poor Ginny... because I see the way you act around each other, and it's nearly surreal. And, merlin, I don't underestimate you. It's one thing to love Ronald Weasley, but to keep loving Ronald Weasley... well, it's no small feat.”
Hermione shook her head.
“It really isn't. Thankfully, as we got older it became easier. And now, after the game show, it's become effortless.”
“I'm glad. You deserve it. Harry and Ginny, they've lived a fairy tale, I'd say they could use a little drama. But you and Ron just need peace and tranquility for the rest of your lives.”
“We still fight, mind you!” Hermione laughed. “Don't ever say we have peace, we really don't. He honestly refuses to pick his underwear off of the floor, and I need to constantly remind him that I'm not a house elf.”
“Who's a house elf?” Ron asked, coming into the kitchen. He walked up to Hermione, placed his chin on her head, and held her to his chest.
“Not me.” Hermione told him, leaning her head all the way back so that she could see him. Mrs. Weasley turned the sink on, and there was a general clattering of pots and pans.
“Hmmm. Okay, I agree. I wouldn't knock up my house elf.”
“What was that, Ronnie?”
The sink had turned off in the nick of time.
“I said, I wouldn't sock up my House Elf.” Ron said hurriedly.
“To, you know, give socks.” Hermione said supremely, while Ron stuttered.
“Where did that come from, Ron?” Molly asked, looking confused.
“I... er... gave Hermione socks this morning.”
“Why?” Molly inquired.
“Yes, Ron, why?” Hermione repeated, twisting around in his arms so that she could see him.
“Well, er, Hermione moves her legs around while she sleeps, and so her cold feet keep on touching my legs in the morning. I figure, if she's wearing socks, it'll just be much nicer.”
“Mmmmm. You're probably right.” Hermione said. Ron pressed his lips to the top if her head so he could mute his laugh.
“By the way.” he muttered under his breath, “You seem to be having an easier time calling my dad Arthur, too.”
“Yes, well, now I've come to associate the name Mr. Weasley with some wild and wonderful fantasies that I really wouldn't want your dad to have anything to do with.”
Ron froze and swallowed hard, just as Hermione jumped out of his arms to go greet Ginny, apparently oblivious to the effect she'd just had on him.
“Ginny! How are you?” she asked, still smirking a little.
“Pregnant.” Ginny moaned. “Uhg, wait till it happens to you, Hermione. You'll hate it.”
“Er- yeah. I'm sure I will.”
“I'm so close to being released from this hell.” Ginny sighed. “And for what? I'd bet it'll be another boy. I so wanted a girl.”
“Sorry.” Hermione said. “Ron and I are waiting to figure out the se...”
She cut herself off.
“What?” Ginny said sharply.
“Ron and I are waiting to figure out the section of the house we want to renovate.”
“Why are you renovating?” Ginny asked, frowning. “You love that house.”
“We... we're building a new section just for your kids!” Hermione said cheerfully. Ginny looked at her oddly, but went over to kiss her mother without commenting. Once everyone was at the Weasley household, they all sat down for dinner outside. The start of dinner was the time for news, when everyone had just started eating and there was a general, familiar clatter of forks against plates. As Hermione looked around the obscenely long table, she couldn't help feeling her heart fill up with adoration for the wonderful family she'd married into.
“So, news!” Mrs. Weasley said, once all the plates had been passed around. “Percy, Audrey, anything?”
“Uhg, they're all the way on the other side of the table. I'm going to visit the loo, I'll be back in time for our turn. If they get to you before I'm back, just tell them.”
“Alright.” Hermione said, and she turned back to her plate. But suddenly it seemed as if no one had news, and all too soon the attention was tuned to her.
“Do you have anything to tell us, Hermione?”
“Er- yes.” Hermione said. “I have big news and little news. Which do you want first?”
“Big.” Ginny announced.
“Okay!” A beam stretched across Hermione's face. “I've been promoted!”
The smile slid off of Harry's face, and he rolled his eyes and banged his head on the table. Hermione coughed. She knew this wasn't the big news, but at the moment it was on her mind so much, she found it impossible to think of it as small. Luckily, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley both stood up and went to hug her, saying how happy and excited they were for her. Unluckily, this was the moment Ron chose to come back from the bathroom.
“Oh, so she's told you?”
“Yes, the big news.” Harry said pointedly. Ron didn't get the hint.
“That's great! Of course, I wanted her to wait for me, but I told her she didn't have to, so-”
“Why would she wait for you? She's the one who it's happening to.” Ginny said, looking a little annoyed at her brother for being so selfish.
“That's not entirely true! I mean, she's the one throwing up and stuff, but I'm a big part of it.”
“Are you really that nervous?” Fleur asked, frowning.
“Um-” Hermione said. She desperately met Harry's eyes, but he shrugged at her and attempted to stop grinning like a fool.
“Do you think she should keep wearing heels, though?” Ron said, directing his question to the females of the table by meeting each of their eyes questioningly.
“Er- why wouldn't she? If anything, they're more important then ever at this stage.” Audrey said in an 'isn't it obvious?' tone.
“Really?” Ron responded, looking surprised. “Well, she'll be out of them once she goes on maternity leave, in any case.”
The comfortable chatter around the table stopped.
“Maternity leave?” Ginny asked slowly.
“Er- yeah.” Ron said. “What were... Hermione!”
“Yes?” Hermione asked lightly.
“Which. Bit. Of big news. Did you tell them?”
“Er-” cough “Not the part about me being pregnant.”
“I'm sorry, I'm sorry!”
“We told you, Harry and me told you... didn't we tell you? Didn't we tell her?”
“We told her.” Harry confirmed.
“You're pregnant?” Molly asked suddenly.
“Er, yeah.” Hermione said.
“Oh, RONNIE! HERMIONE!” Molly shouted, and then she pulled them into a hug with a thrilled look on her face.
“Mum, I'm glad you're pleased, but you're choking us.”
“Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! But my ickle Ronnie...”
“Ickle?” Ron cried angrily, at the same time Ginny said,
“Hermione, you can't wear heels anymore! No way!”
And then general Weasley chaos erupted once more.
“Well, I think that went considerably well.” Ron said later, flicking on the light to their bedroom.
“Mmmm.” Hermione agreed as she put on her t-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms. She didn't think it had gone well at all, but she'd let Ron think what he wanted.
“Although, if that woman calls me ickle one more time, I swear I'll kill her.” Ron added, loosening the buttons on his collard oxford. Hermione walked over to do it for him. “I mean, I'm about to be a father, for the love of merlin! Isn't it obvious that I'm not an ickle anymore? You'd think that after it became apparent that I wasn't some virginal weirdo anymore she would have stopped, but-”
Hermione kissed him as she slid the shirt off of his arms.
“You need to stop talking about this.” she told him. “Your mum is your mum. She'll probably always call you ickle, but it's not the worst thing that could happen to you. What if your wife called you ickle? Or your sister, or your coworkers?”
“When did you get so wise?” Ron asked, looking down at her admiringly.
“Hmmmm.” Hermione traced a light pattern on his shoulder. “I can't exactly pinpoint it...” she started. Then she met his eyes and smiled mischievously. “But it must have been either before or after it became apparent that I wasn't some virginal weirdo anymore.”
“This is the last one, I promise!” Ron said as calmly as he could.
“Oh, it could be!” Hermione shouted. “What if it has to be, Ron, hmmm?”
“Really, Hermione? You're playing the death card?”
“I'm not going to die! That's ridiculous, and you know it.”
“Is it Ron? Is it?”
“Yes! I've been lucky so far. Why shouldn't I be lucky now?”
“Because luck runs out! That's just the way it is! That's the way life goes! Look at us. All our lives, we were so close to getting together. And then something would just step in the way. We'd be lucky, and then everything would get ruined by something or other.”
“You know what else happened in our school days?”
“Do I want to?” Hermione asked sarcastically. Ron ignored this.
“You doubted my skills.”
“I doubted your skills.” Hermione repeated, monotone.
“You doubted my skills.” Ron reaffirmed.
“Quidditch! You never believed in me!”
“You had the most severe confidence issues in the world, Ron! And I completely believed in you.”
“So then why not believe me now?”
“I... Ron, this isn't about your bloody skills! This is about the fact that I don't want you going on a long term, high danger level mission when I'm about to have a baby.”
“Would you call four months pregnant about to have a baby?”
“Oh, please forgive me.”
“Look, the point is, if something happens to you, I'm going to be raising this child on my own. And, scratch that, I might lose the baby if something huge like that happens to upset me. Then, if that happened, I wouldn't even have a reminder of you to keep me going. I'd fall to pieces.”
Ron sighed, deflated.
“I get that, Hermione. But I've been signed on for this a while now. And I'm at at the point in my career where I can't turn down a mission for what might be. But as soon as this is over, I swear I'll switch to training.”
“That was his and Ginny's decision. And that, my love, besides the fact that he's Harry-Bloody-Potter, is why he is going to get promoted to department head and not me.”
Hermione's nostrils flared.
“Fine!” she snarled. “Go on your precious mission!”
And then she spun around and headed up the stairs and into their room, slamming the door behind her. Ron stayed stationary for a few seconds, staring at the door, before he lowered himself onto a kitchen chair and pressed his forehead against the darkened window. What was he supposed to do? He'd been signed on for this for almost a year now. You couldn't give up a mission after all that prep. Besides, it was his last one before he settled down to the solitude of training young Aurors and the crazy ride that was fatherhood. He was looking very much forward to it. And, anyways, he had to believe that Hermione would be a little more forgiving of his situation if, A) She was less hormonal, and B) She was getting more sleep. The brunet was constantly waking up in the middle of the night, sweating and screaming about Bellatrix terrorizing her child or her baby being turned into a horcrux. The first time this had happened, Ron had attempted to make light of it by telling her that if it was a horcux, Bellatrix would be hard pressed to try to kill it, so it wouldn't matter anyways, but that hadn't gone over very well. Ron had been reduced to holding her in his arms and promising her that the Death Eater wasn't alive, and it wasn't really happening, and that their baby would never, ever be made into a horcrux, because that event was a surprisingly rare occurrence.
He did the best he could. She couldn't complain about that. And, besides, Ron had several bruises that he told people were from his job, but were really from Hermione kicking and punching the hell out of him in her sleep. That, along with all the comforting, listening of dream telling, and waking up in the middle of the night to hear her screaming that he was doing made Ron believe that he should win the husband of the year award. He knew, though, that Hermione wasn't the only one with these dreams. Ginny had them too, but less about the war, and more about Tom Riddle. So Harry would probably win that award. Simply because he was Harry-Bloody-Potter. Yes, sometimes, when they were going through the exact same trials and suffering, it was hard not to be bitter.
Ron shook himself from his thoughts and decided to think about something different. Hermione had given up on her end of the fight, now he had to do something for her. He did like to be a good sport with these things. Deciding quickly, he got out of his chair, headed to their bedroom and knocked before sticking his head in the door. Hermione was curled up on their bed, her nose buried in a book one of her work friends had written about the pros and cons of freeing house elves. Ron remembered how excited Hermione had been when she'd been asked to contribute to the pro side. Now, the young woman was featured on the winning side of the novel. Sometimes, Ron wondered if the book had simply gone that way because Hermione was so passionate about her subject, and no one on any other side could possibly stand a chance. She was passionate about everything she did. That was one of the reasons Ron knew that the woman he'd married would be a great mother. She'd work at it, because she'd have to be the best at it, and she'd care about it more than anything, maybe even her work. But it wasn't just motherhood, and work, and house elves. It was even the little things, the trivial things. Like the decorating of the room, for example. Ron remembered that because she'd driven him crazy. Nothing was good enough unless it was absolutely perfect. It was the room Hermione had taken the longest on, had agonized over the most.
“Ron, don't you understand what this is? This isn't just a room! This is where we're going to make a baby, and where we're going to argue over who has to get up and get the baby to stop crying, and where our children will come when they have bad dreams and need to sleep between us. This is going to be the only place we can escape from everything else and just have each other, because mark my words when I say everywhere else in our house will be child central. This room could make or break our relationship.”
Of course, after she'd proven her point to Ron about why she worked so hard on it, he'd understood perfectly. And he'd almost been as worried as about it as she had. But not quite.
“I'm going out, alright?” Ron said after clearing his throat politely.
“Fine.” Hermione said.
“Don't fall asleep while I'm gone, okay?”
“Fine.” Hermione said again. Ron pulled his out of the room and left the house.
The office was curiously quiet at this time of night. Ron almost felt like an intruder, because his clumsy footsteps were echoing down that hall at an alarmingly loud volume. But he continued on anyways, thinking about how he'd be returning to leave in less then twelve hours. He barely bothered to focus his eyes as he tromped down the familiar hallways, right to the director's office. There, he knocked on the door and waited for the answer he knew would come. Robards didn't go home until very late, because he had nothing to go home to. That was the main reason he had stayed a field auror his whole life.
“Come in,” came the expected grunt. Ron opened the door slowly. “Weasley? What are you doing here this time of night?”
“I've decided to resign, sir.”
“From... where? The entire department? The entire ministry?”
“No. I'm no longer going to be a field auror, that's all.”
“That's all... hah.” Robards said, putting his quill down. “If you back out now, Weasley, you'll have to go through training all over again if you want to come back.”
“I understand that. But I definitely don't want to be doing long term missions anymore, and while I'd like to do some small things every now and then, I'd rather be teaching high level trainee aurors. And I know there's a position open, because the man that was teaching decided to go to field work.”
“Hmm.” Robards said. “Well, if you're sure, I'm sure we can bend some rules for you so that you'll be able to go on little, day-only missions. Here's the application.”
He pushed the paper across the desk. Ron took it, swallowing.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Weasley... may I ask why?”
“My wife's pregnant. She gets worried. I can't tear her apart anymore- it's hard enough just because I'm her husband, but with a baby... And, besides, I promised I'd do this when we got married. It was an unspoken condition.”
“Wife. Baby. That's why I never got either of them. I spent my time at the office, and in the training rooms, staying in shape. Even after all these years, most aurors would be retired to something else. But not me. What drew you to it, anyways? That path of life? I've never understood it, always wanted to know.”
“Well, I have a big family. So I always knew I wanted children of my own. But, other than that, I've loved her since I was fourteen.”
Robards considered this.
“Fair enough.” He said, finally. “I wish you all the best, Weasley.”
“Thanks.” Ron said, turning to the door.
“Er- what's in the bag?” Robards asked quickly, pointing to the plastic one in Ron's hand.
“A damn good apology. I'll see you tomorrow, sir.”
A loud crack of apparation sounded through Godric's Hollow, announcing Ron's arrival into his yard. He breathed in quickly, and looked up at the large house he called home. All the lights were off, including the bedroom ones. Although he couldn't see the bedroom (it was in the back of the house), he could tell because not one bit of light flooded through the windows. The usually welcoming and beautiful house seemed forlorn and sad, so Ron took his time approaching it. As soon as he got in, however, he was greeted by the unwelcoming sound of Hermione screaming. Cursing under his breath, Ron flew over to the bedroom, going as fast as his feet could carry him. He burst through the door and flicked on the light, dropping the bag on the floor as he rushed over to a thrashing Hermione's side.
“Mione! Wake up! C'mon! C'mon, love!”
She finally woke up, whimpering and gasping, her eyes blinking blearily up at her husband.
“Yeah. It's alright. It was just a dream.”
She sighed in relief and began crying again, although why Ron didn't know. He lifted her form up, placed her in his lap, and pressed her head against his warm green sweater, glad he was wearing something so soft. Hermione rubbed her cheek against it a few times as she cried, and when she was finally done she turned to look up at Ron with an awful look in her eyes.
“What did you dream?” he asked, wiping away her tear with his thumb. She closed her eyes at his touch.
“For once, I don't want to talk about it.” Hermione admitted. “Mainly because this one's much, much more realistic then the others. But it also wasn't about the baby.”
She pressed her face against his sweater again, and Ron made soothing noises as he stroked her hair.
“It's okay,” he said, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “I think I know anyways.”
“What's in the bag?” Hermione asked a few minutes later. Ron suddenly straightened up, grinning, and looking rather proud of himself.
“Sushi. Pickles. And Triple Chocolate Ice Cream.”
“You're kidding?” Hermione asked delightedly. Ron shook his head, and Hermione climbed off of his lap to go over to the door and grab the bag. She rifled through, letting out excited squeals as she saw the items she had been craving most over the course of her pregnancy so far. “Hey, what's this?”
She had pulled all of the items out of the bag and was now looking at a stark white piece of paper.
“That is an application for the auror training department.”
“You're going back into training?” Hermione asked, confused.
“No, not at all. I'm going to be teaching it.”
She flew over to the bed and ran to hug him, pressing her face into the crook of his neck.
“So,” Ron whispered in a low, seductive voice, “I thought we could make a night of it. You know... sushi... pickles... ice cream... editing my spelling...”
“Ron, don't toy with me!” Hermione warned excitedly.
“I wouldn't dare.”
“Oh, yes! I'll go get my wand.”
As he watched her go, he lay back onto his bed and shook his head.
“Oi. What I do for love.”
It had been six days since Ron left for his final mission, and Hermione was still nervous. This wasn't his first mission as her boyfriend, or even his first mission as her husband, but it was his first big mission as the father of her unborn child. She had been so glad when he'd come home from work the night before he left to proudly tell her that he had submitted his application. She knew it'd get accepted, because she'd edited it into next year, and, besides, he was Ron Weasley. He could do anything... or, at least, that was how she looked at him. Of course, it would be weird not working with Harry anymore- this would be the first time they wouldn't have the exact same assignments since their first year at Hogwarts, for the love of merlin- but she knew he'd find it worth it and rewarding to be there for every step of their child's life. Well, he wouldn't find it rewarding every second, because the baby was bound to cry... and eat a lot, if it was anything like the other Weasleys. And there would be times that they'd both be too tired, too grumpy, too sick of it all. Those were the times Hermione would simply pull the labor card and immediately guilt her husband into doing everything. Simple, really. But, truth be told, she knew they were facing eighteen years of being driven crazy. She was just glad that she got to face it with Ron, because there was no one she'd rather ally with the fight with their child.
She knew it would be a fighter, because it had that coming to it on both sides.
Hermione walked into her dark house and put her keys in their bowl. It was ten o'clock at night, and she was absolutely ready to go to bed. She'd been avoiding being home, because it induced sleepiness on her, and she hated sleeping these days. Besides, Hermione liked working so hard that she had to go home at ten o'clock at night. It reminded her of the old days. Now, she had fewer cases, but they were harder then the ones she handled back then. As she made her way up to her bedroom, she found her eyes involuntarily closing. Oh, merlin. Not sleeping was going to be harder then she'd initially thought. Plus, it was unbelievably cold. It was surprising, because it was early April, but Hermione couldn't remember the last time she'd been this cold. She immediately knew why, though. She always curled up against Ron at night. This time, he wasn't there. Instead, Hermione was forced to put on two layers of socks, a long sleeved shirt and a Hogwarts sweatshirt of Ron's over her tank top, and her warmest pajama pants. To add to that, she went over to the guest closet and dragged a huge comforter over to the bedroom, which she proceeded to put on her bed. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. She lay there, shivering, and it went on long enough that she was glad to finally succumb to sleep when it came to her.
She was smiling. Her wild black hair stuck out in fifty billion odd and different directions, but she didn't seem to care as she screamed and cackled. Hermione watched as her proud brown eyes flitted over her prisoner's body, looking for other places that she could hurt. And the lethal wand raised again as Bellatrix Lestrange went to curse her.
“CRUCIO!” she bellowed, and Hermione flinched as the curse hit her. A thousand knives poked at her body, and she fought for breath as her head once again hit the floor. A cry of pain, and a wail of fury from Bella as she repeated the same words. “Where. Did. You. Get. That. Sword!”
And the curse hit Hermione over and over again. Everything was black with a tint of gray and red, and her eyes were filled with tears that danced down her face, escaping for good. Kill me. That was all she wanted. To die, and to never feel this pain again. Her parents wouldn't miss her, what did she have to live for?
“HERMIONE! HERMIONE! HERMIONE!”
Ron. Ron was what she had to live for. Because she was in love with him. Because if they had to give up on her, they'd use him instead, and she couldn't let that happen. If she gave up, it would be like giving them permission to hurt the only person she'd ever fallen in love with. The person that mattered the most to her in this whole mess that was her life. So instead of letting go, instead of giving up, instead of bottling her emotions and waiting for herself to explode, Hermione screamed. She let out a loud, earsplitting scream that shook the manor and made Ron yell her name even louder. She let out a bloodcurdling scream that caused Bellatrix to roar in anger and slash at her with the silver knife. And she screamed again and again, for Ron, and for herself, for Harry, and once more for Ron. All for Ron.
And then a strong pair of arms were around her, and he was carrying her bride-style, and as the blackness consumed her, Hermione imagined. She closed her eyes and she imagined that Ron was really carrying her like this because it was their Honeymoon, and they were going over the threshold, and the words he shouted were really him yelling to the rooftops that he had finally married the girl of his dreams, Hermione Jean Granger Weasley. In a few seconds, he was going to let her open her eyes so that she could see the exotic location that he'd brought her to, and then he was going to kiss her and touch her cheek and whisper that he loved her and kiss her again.
It was Ron that ruined it for her. He touched her neck instead of her cheek, to feel her pulse. He let out a sigh of relief and slumped to the ground, laying her down gently in the grass. Her hair fanned out behind her, and she felt the cool substance tickling her cheek. It soothed the burning a little bit. It also made her itchy.
“BILL!” Ron roared. “BILL!”
And he fell into the grass next to her, and she could smell him right near her, and she thought that this might not be the worst way to die. The boy you loved desperately hoping that you would make it, his scent wrapped around you like a blanket.
“Hermione,” Ron whispered. “Hermione, come on. You'll make it. Can you talk?”
But why couldn't he let her die in peace? Didn't he know that the only reason she was still conscious was because he was everywhere around her? Didn't he understand that the pain of everything, the weight of everything, was absolutely too much to bear? One of his hot tears slipped from his face and onto her nose, and Hermione realized that he did understand. He was experiencing something similar to what she was, emotionally, not physically. He was doing the exact same thing she would be doing, had the situation been reversed. So she willed herself to speak, to do as he asked. She said the only thing that she could think of.
And he was sobbing harder in relief, because he thought he wouldn't have to live without her, but Hermione didn't understand how he expected her to get over the wizarding worlds' worst pain used against her to the point that people usually died at. His lips were suddenly pressing against her forehead, and Hermione was nearly angry, because that was the first time that his mouth had touched her in any way and she really hadn't wanted it to be in this circumstance. And it was all her fault, because she'd never told him, and he'd never know. How could she possibly feel after this?
“I love you.”
His voice ripped through the air, softly sending trickles down her spine. Hermione's breaths grew shakier.
“I've loved you forever, and you're going to get through this, because I need you. I couldn't last two days without you. Now more then ever. And I know you can't hear me, but I hope you know that I love you if...”
If you don't make it. Just the weight of the implied meaning of the sentence made Hermione want to collapse in more pain. This conversation, she knew, was never to be mentioned if she made it. And what did it really mean, anyway? It meant that he was caught up in the emotion of the moment and he didn't know what to do except say what he thought might be. He didn't love her the way she loved him.
“No.” Hermione whispered, and she heard Ron's breath catch in his throat.
“Hermione? You heard...?”
“No.” She said again. You don't love me like I love you. You don't. You won't. You never will. You'll never know this pain, and you'll never understand how I feel when I'm around you, and I'll never know even if you do, because it hurts so much, Ron.
She could still see gray and black and red tinges on her eyelids, but she could tell without opening them that Ron was pleading. Ronald Weasley was pleading with her, desperate for her, willing to do anything for her in that moment. She needed him to know. What if she fell asleep and forgot everything? It had been known to happen.
Just those two words made pain explode through her body, and the cut around her throat was starting to sting as his tears fell onto it. Instead of speaking, Hermione tried to move her hand, to catch his with hers. Instead, she let out a gasp of pain and everything went black.
She became conscious of everything else around her a few minutes later. Her nose was pressed into the heavenly aroma that she'd smelled in that amortentia potion, and his tears were falling fast onto her face.
“Ron, let go! Fleur needs to treat her!” Bill cried in exasperation.
No, Ron. Don't.
“NO! I WON'T! I'M NOT LETTING GO, BILL!”
“Let him carry her,” Fleur whispered softly. “Can't you see?”
“See what?” Ron demanded, but Bill simply said,
And then there was a lurch as he started carrying her up the stairs. She let her head roll against him, because that was the only thing she could possibly do at this moment in time. She couldn't move or speak, she could only listen and exist and wish that things were different.
“Set 'er on the bed.” Fleur commanded. “You may want to leave. You may not want to see this.”
No, Ron. Don't.
Ron wordlessly did as she asked, lying Hermione on the bed, then stubbornly taking Hermione's hand. And Fleur was examining her, and there was more pain, and she was crying out because it hurt almost as bad as the curse itself, and all she could concentrate on was how cold she was and how Ron's voice kept on calling her name, over and over again.
Her eyes opened and she saw him looking at her, his beautiful blue eyes curious. He was different. He was somehow older, somehow more fit and better looking, and his hair wasn't long and uncut like it had been during her dream. Slowly, it began to register to Hermione. This happened six years ago. Bellatrix Lestrange was dead by the hand of her mother-in-law. Hermione was married to Ron. She was going to have a baby with him.
“Hi.” Hermione said, and she wrapped her arms around his torso and pushed him back onto the bed so that she could curl up against his body heat.
“Hi.” Ron breathed. “I'm sorry I didn't wake you sooner. I didn't realize you were dreaming badly until I saw you crying. You were unusually still.”
She was barely aware of the fact that his chest was bare as she pressed herself harder against him. All she knew was that her husband was home, he was safe, he was warm, he'd left her for six days and now he was back, and he was always there for her when she needed him the most.
A/N: Good day, friends! It's been a while since I said hello to you, so I figured I'd write something. Things are going good over here. I'm kind of trying to power through this story so that I can start posting Sleepless, so it should be finished pretty quickly. I hope you're enjoying it. This is pretty much as dramatic as it gets! By the way, a few new one-shots coming soon. I wrote an AU crossover where Ron and Hermione get selected to go into the Hunger Games, and I might post it over here if I can, so keep an eye out. Please, please, please, please, please review. ~writergirl8
“IT'S KICKING, RON, IT'S KICKING!”
A loud curse, then muffled grunts. A second later, Ron ran from the bathroom, a tissue pressed against his cheek, a hysterical look on his face. This wasn't the first time the baby had kicked, but Ron was never around for the kicking. It was driving him mad. Hermione gestured frantically for him to run faster, but by the time he was able to get there and place his hands on her abdomen, the kicking had stopped. Hermione sighed and gazed apologetically at him.
“Sorry, love. It seems like the baby just doesn't want to kick for you.”
She yawned and stretched luxuriously, her short silk nightgown moving over the baby bump easily. Seeing as they really were doing their best to save money, Hermione was glad that Ginny had loaned her some maternity clothes. The redhead was carrying much bigger this time, while Hermione was carrying small, so some of the clothes that Ginny couldn't fit into anymore had been passed onto Hermione. Most of them were just a little too big, and the sleeves and straps quite often slipped off of her shoulders, revealing more then Hermione normally would, but seeing as she only wore the stuff around her husband, it didn't really matter. And Ron didn't seem to mind, either.
“I'm starting to think you're bloody making the kicking up, just to get a rise of me.”
“No, really, the book says-”
She abruptly stopped talking, looking guilty, sheepish, and a little afraid. This Ron was reminding her of teenage Ron, and she didn't really want that one back. The adult Ron was was much better tempered and loved her even more than the other one did. This one was mature enough to raise a baby. Teenage Ron really wasn't. Hermione bit her lip and sat up to kiss him.
“I'm sorry. It's my security blanket.”
She was, of course, referring to the book. Her reading was driving Ron crazy. Hermione kept her nose stuck in a book day and night, and it was taking over everything. Work, relationships... she hadn't talked to Harry or Ginny in days. She was just too afraid that she'd mess something up. Hermione absolutely needed everything to be perfect. If it wasn't, she was sure that all hell would break loose. On the contrary, Ron was a more go with the flow type of man. He thought that everything would come to him naturally, and Hermione, too.
“Haven't you ever heard of maternal instinct?” he asked her now.
“What if I haven't a maternal bone in my body? That's where the reading comes in!”
“Every woman has a maternal bone in her body. It's just the way it goes. Just like every woman is a good cook, and every woman does her husband and children's laundry...”
“Ron, that's your mum!” Hermione snapped. “Some mums are career women who hire maids and don't cook at all. Or do laundry. Ever.”
Ron frowned, considered this, and then kissed her forehead.
“If you say so.” he said.
“Seriously, Ron? You've never met anyone who didn't do that?”
“No. It's what I expect out of all women. It's what I expect out of you.”
He grinned at her unknowingly, then walked back into the bathroom, anger forgotten. Unfortunately, Hermione's was just getting started. She leaped out of bed with only a little bit of difficulty (Ginny, at nearly nine months, was having much more trouble) and went over to lean against the bathroom door frame. She stood there, glaring at an oblivious Ron, who just continued shaving, looking at himself closely in the mirror as to not cut himself. Finally becoming fed up with his behavior, Hermione flicked the bathroom light on and off, forcing her husband to pay attention to her.
“What? What?” Ron asked, looking around at her.
“What do you mean, what you expect of me? I do what I do for you because I love you, not because it's an obligation. But if you piss me off, Ron Weasley, I swear I will stop at the drop of a hat.”
He rolled his eyes.
“It's the Weasley woman's job, Hermione! I go out, earn income. You bake, and cook, and clean, take care of the children, and do my laundry! All while having a career! Because you’re brilliant and amazing like that.”
“If you think that raising a child isn't going to be a joint effort, then I'm leaving you for Viktor Krum for real this time.”
Ron looked stricken.
“You... you know that's not really what I meant.”
“Well... I mean...”
“I earn income, too, Ron! I love earning my income! I'm giving up a lot to let you go out and earn the income so I can stay home and raise YOUR baby!”
“C'mon, Mione. How hard could it be?”
“Oh, you don't remember Nancy and Cam? Wait, that's right. You did NONE of the work then! It was me, cooking, cleaning...”
“And it's been working out so well so far!”
“You couldn't last a week doing what I do for you. You would fail miserably.”
“I'll make you a deal.” Ron said suddenly, slamming his razor onto the bathroom counter.
“Let's hear it.” Hermione said with a touch of sarcasm in her voice.
“For the rest of the week, I'll do all of the cooking, cleaning, laundering, etc cetera. If I can do it and still think it's easy, you have to stop pulling the bloody Viktor Krum remarks, and you must make me brownies every week for the rest of our married lives.”
“In that case, I'll just divorce you and marry Viktor.”
“See! This is exactly what I mean!”
“Okay. And what do I get if I win?”
“The best sex you'll ever have.”
“Ron... that's still rewarding to you! You won't be able to lose at all in this bet! You'll be happy either way! No, I want blood.”
“No, not literally. It's a phrase!”
“Is it really?”
“It is...isn't it?”
“Hmmm.” Hermione stood there, biting her lip for a full three minutes, before she realized what he'd done. “No, Ron! You distracted me!”
“I'm so good at it, too.” Ron said, pleased.
“I have something. If you win, I'll stop making Viktor threats and I'll make brownies, blah blah blah. But if I win, I'm going to make you sign a legal contract making you say, 'Hermione is always right, Ron is always wrong' whenever I ask you to. Deal?”
“It's on.” Ron said, sticking out his hand to shake hers. Hermione wrapped her arm around his neck and kissed him instead. “Better.” Ron admitted, and she laughed before telling him to go get dressed. She turned towards the sink to brush her teeth and suddenly caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was bushier then usual. She hadn't waxed her eyebrows in a while. And, merlin, she was fat! Slowly, she raised the hem of her nightgown so that she could look at her pregnant belly. It was awful. Hermione stared at herself with a look of horror on her face, her mouth open a little bit. Ron emerged from the closet a few minutes later, whistling and straightening his tie. As soon as he saw her, he raised an eyebrow. “What?” he asked. “What's wrong?”
“I'm a cow.” Hermione said, her voice wobbling. Ron stood there, confused.
“Er- I don't think you're making milk yet, are you? MERLIN’S PANTS ARE YOU?”
“No, what I meant was... I look like a cow.”
“Don't be silly! You don't have ears, or a tail, or stand on four legs, or have black spots-”
“RON, I'm the SIZE of a cow.” Hermione barked. “I'm huge!”
“Well, if you'd said that earlier, we would have saved a lot of time.”
She didn't turn towards him to glare at him for his failed attempt at humor. She didn't meet his eyes in the mirror, even though his reflection was quite close to hers. She just stared at herself, horror struck. Ron scratched his head. He didn't get this at all. She was... she was pregnant.
“You're pregnant!” he said, bewildered. “Aren't you supposed to be a cow?”
At his words, Hermione finally looked up at him. As soon as she met his eyes, she burst into tears. Ron's eyes widened, and he began to feel scarily beyond any level of comprehension. This was... ridiculous. Hermione gripped the edge of the counter as she sobbed, and Ron finally got the sense to grab her waist and spin her around so that he could cradle her in his arms.
“I'm... so.... ugly!” Hermione wailed.
Now he was truly vexed. Where would she ever get that idea? Would he honestly have married her if she was ugly? And even though her body had changed, she was going to have a baby! She'd get it back. Even if she didn't, it was worth it, wasn't it? They were going to have a baby! He'd said that before, right?
“Hermione, you're not ugly.” Ron said quietly, not knowing where else to go with this, seeing as he really wanted to call her an idiot.
“I am, I am, you're going to leave me!” cried Hermione, and louder, more desperate wails filled the room.
“Why the hell would I leave you?” Ron asked, beside himself. Now he was on the verge of taking her to a therapist.
“Because... you... haven't... changed... at all and... I have!”
“YOU'RE PREGNANT, YOU BARKING WOMAN!” Ron finally shouted. “WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DID YOU EXPECT?”
She slid down his body and curled herself into a ball on the floor, rocking herself back and forth as she cried. Ron ran his hand through his red hair, pacing back and forth.
“Oi. Harry got a woman who stayed in the horny stage forever and was barely hormonal. Mine doesn't seem to be hitting the horny stage at all, and her hormones are in overdrive.”
He looked up towards the ceiling and whispered,
“Merlin, why do you hate me?”
After telling her over and over again that she was the most beautiful woman on the planet, not even seconded by Aphrodite (Which he'd obviously been prompted and prodded by Hermione to say, because Ron had no idea who Aphrodite was), Ron got Hermione off of the bathroom floor and into her work clothes. They flooed together and at the last minute Ron decided he was going to take her out to lunch.
“I'll meet you in the atrium at one, okay?”
“Alright.” Hermione said, and Ron leaned down to kiss her lips, then her nose, before heading off of the elevator. The doors clanked shut, and Ron watched the elevator slide down before shaking his head and heading to his cubicle. Harry was sitting there in Ron's good chair, waiting for him, sipping coffee to wake himself up. Ron grabbed the mug that was his and told Harry to get his arse out of his chair, which Harry scurried to do.
“Rough morning?” he asked as he got out.
“Hermione thinks she's ugly.” Ron said, shrugging his shoulders and showing Harry a perplexed face. “She called herself a cow.”
Harry nodded wisely and patted Ron on the shoulder.
“It's one of the phases. It won't last. Just be sure not to even look at another woman, or else she'll bite your head off.”
“Literally?” Ron asked
“Oh, I wouldn't know if it's literally. Gin threatened, but I never found out, as I simply kept my eyes on my radiant wife.”
“Really?” Ron said skeptically.
“When she was around. That's the key.”
“How're you feeling?” Ron asked tentatively as Hermione skipped up to him.
“Wonderfu! Oh, my day's been phenomenal so far.” He looked at her disbelievingly, but Hermione merely slipped her hand into his and kissed Ron on the cheek. “So, where are we going?”
“There's this wrap place I wanted to try, if that's okay with you.”
“Fine, fine.” Hermione said lightly. “Oh, Ron, you've got a bit of ink on your nose,” she added with a giggle, before licking her finger and rubbing it off. Then she headed towards the exit, leaving a wide eyed Ron in her wake.
“What just happened?” he growled angrily. “I'm so confused!”
His coworkers looked at him oddly, but Ron just gave them all annoyed looks and hurried after his wife. A few minutes later, they were at the restaurant, and Hermione was talking happily about the newest case she was handling. Ron was pretending to listen, but he was really just looking into her eyes, which were bright and shining. The corner of his mouth started to quirk up, just looking at her enthusiasm about her job. He stared at her right until the waitress came to their table.
“Hi! I'm Maria, and I'll be serving you today.”
Ron's eyes flicked to her, and then her did a double take. Long, golden blond hair... deep blue eyes... a thin, thin figure... this girl looked familiar. He stared at her until he remembered.
“Oh! You model for some muggle clothing line!”
“Muggle?” she frowned. “I... I don't think I know that word.”
“It's- er- a new term. Means wicked, cool, stuff like that.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, how muggle of you to recognize me! Thanks.”
Then she winked at him and asked him if he wanted anything.
“Er- yeah. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here.”
The waitress let out a loud, high pitched giggle.
“Oh, you're so funny! That was excellent.” she chirped.
“He's also an excellent lover.” Hermione said pointedly. She leaned over and covered Ron's hand with her own, a possessive look on her face. On it, a wedding and engagement ring glittered. Ron didn't think it was a coincidence that she chose this hand. The waitress's smile faltered while Ron tried not to burst into laughter. He hadn't seen jealous-Hermione in years.
“Er- right. So, what did you want?”
Ron opened his mouth to order, but Hermione spoke first.
“A BLT for both of us, please. Thanks, hun.”
The waitress left, a little red faced, and Hermione leaned back in her chair, looking satisfied.
“What was that?” Ron demanded.
“We're married!” Hermione said in answer.
“She was flirting!” Hermione whispered the last word like it was a dirty curse.
“Only I can flirt with you, because I am your wife!”
“Oh, Hermione. She didn't know.”
“Oh, right. Because a ginger man sitting with a pregnant brunet woman... who is she, his sister?”
“Could be. She had no way of telling.”
“And why's that, Ron?”
“Because you always forget to put your bloody wedding ring on after ickle auror training! I mean, honestly. No one knows you're married! As a matter of fact, I'm adding that to the terms of the bet. Wear your wedding ring 24/7, or else I swear I'll spank you.”
“Cool.” Ron grinned. Hermione rolled her eyes.
“No, I take it back. I'll find some form of punishment that you won't enjoy.”
Even though she was angry, Ron expected a full, perfect meal waiting for him when he got home. Instead, all he found was Hermione sitting in her study, reading a book. He knocked on the door softly, and Hermione looked up at him, her face relaxed and peaceful. Until she saw him. Her expression immediately became hard and almost snobbish.
“Hi, Ron,” she said, looking briefly at him before turning back to her book. Ron stood there, fixing his gaze on her. “What?” Hermione asked, looking up at him after a few minutes.
“I'm hungry.” Ron said simply, expecting the usual thing to happen where Hermione got up and apologized for not making him something to eat faster (well, that was his fantasy... she never actually did the apologizing part). What he did not expect was what actually ended up happening. She shrugged her shoulders and asked him,
“What're you going to do about it, then?”
Ron stared at her, shocked.
“Hermione! You always cook... I mean... what?”
“Remember this morning?” Hermione asked complacently.
“Yeah! This morning, you went absolutely barmy and started sobbing all over the place.”
“No. This morning, you agreed to do all the cooking and the cleaning under a few conditions. So, Ron, dinner's on you, and there's laundry to be done, too.”
Ron looked like he was just beginning to remember.
“Er- can I just forfeit?”
“Sure. I'll be drawing up the contracts tomorrow at work, then.” Hermione said, getting up and looking satisfied.
“No!” Ron cried hurriedly. “I forgot about that! I'll fix dinner.”
“Right then.” Hermione said, and she settled back in the read her book. Several minutes and swears later, Ron came to the study to fetch her. He looked extremely pissed off and was not wearing a shirt.
“Dinner's ready.” he said. Hermione sniffed.
“What burned?” she asked.
“Basically everything.” Ron said grumpily. “Including my shirt.” He ruffled his hair and gestured for her to follow him. Hermione stood and went to the kitchen to find... a salad.
“Oh.” she said. Ron expected her to immediately start lashing out, but instead she went to the fridge and got out her favorite dressing. “This looks delightful, Ron.”
“Everything I tried to make burned,” Ron reiterated. “This was all that was left.”
“It's so yummy!” Hermione exclaimed, making noises deep in her throat. Ron looked even more confused.
“What's your angle?” he blurted out.
“Angle?” Hermione asked lightly.
“It's a salad. No one enjoys a bloody salad that much.”
“I do! I love salad. Mmmmm.” said Hermione. When she was done, she kissed Ron on the cheek and thanked him.
“Have fun with those dishes, sweetheart.” she added as she left the room. Ron looked towards the burnt pots and pans and cursed as he took his wand out. This was going to take forever! He almost gave up then and there, but he wasn't willing to give Hermione the satisfaction. Instead, he scoured for an hour, until he was finally done. Then, he headed back to his and Hermione's room and flopped onto the bed.
“Ron,” Hermione sang, and he peeked one eye open to see his wife hovering over him in her most skimpy maternity nightgown. He sighed inwardly. She was still gorgeous, even though she did have swollen ankles. She had this glow to her, and she seemed happy even when she was angry.
“Hmm?” Ron asked. She kissed his nose and whispered,
“You haven't done the laundry yet.”
“Can I do it tomorrow?”
“No.” Hermione said, and she kissed him again, this time on the lips. They hadn't snogged like this in a while, and Ron soon found himself completely lost in his wife. He hadn't enjoyed himself with her like this since before she'd had the Healer draw up charts that would help them out. Hermione seemed more into it, too. Unlike before, when they had been trying to get pregnant, they weren't doing it for anything but pleasure. Which was why Ron was very surprised when Hermione pulled back from his lips and slipped her nightgown back on before anything much could happen.
“What?” Ron asked, looking unbelievably frustrated. “What now? Is it about that waitress earlier today? Because I swear, Hermione, I've never been in love with anyone other than you and I think you're ten times more beautiful then her, and even though she's thinner then you, that's okay, because you are carrying my child, and I'll never have that bond with some random waitress, and-”
“Ron,” Hermione said abruptly. “It's not about the waitress. I'd actually forgotten about her in the- er- heat of the moment.”
Ron turned the famous Weasley shade of red, causing Hermione to kiss him again.
“You need to do the laundry.” she whispered.
“Laundry?” Ron mumbled stupidly.
“Yeah.” Hermione murmured. “Sorry. Maybe another night.”
“Are you sure?” Ron asked. “It would be easier if we just-”
“Sorry,” Hermione said. “Laundry needs to be done. Unless, of course... but, no. That wouldn't be fair.”
“What?” Ron asked.
“Well,” Hermione said, choosing her words carefully. “I know we haven't really made love in a while... but the laundry needs to be done... however, if you give up the bet I could do it with a flick of my wand, whereas you'd have to do it the muggle way...”
“Okay! I forfeit! You win!” Ron said, and he leaned down and began snogging her. He could feel Hermione's smirk as he did so, but he was beyond caring. Afterwards, something occurred to Ron. He stopped stroking her hair long enough to glance down at her sleeping face. “Hermione?” he whispered. “Are you awake?”
“I am now.” Hermione said, a little sarcastically.
“Did you finally hit the horny stage?” Ron asked.
She woke up enough to peek an eye at him, taking in his face and considering it.
“I think I've just hit the point in our relationship where I feel comfortable using sex as a weapon.”
“But the fact that you want to... it means you've hit the horny part now, yeah?”
“Yes, I suppose I have.” Hermione said, looking thoughtful. “Goodnight, Ron.”
Then she snuggled as close to him as her stomach permitted and fell asleep. What she didn't witness was her husband looking out the window and at the starry night sky as though it was a gorgeous sight that he'd never seen. Finally, looking at the moon, he said,
“Thank you, merlin. Thank you so much.”
And then Ron Weasley promptly fell asleep.
A/N: Okay. I don't exactly love this chapter. Basically, my explaination for it is that Hermione is hormonal and Ron is going crazy with all of the pregnancy stuff, plus he grew up in an old fashioned household. I know they're kind of OOC, but I didn't want to rewrite the whole thing because I'm lazy and because I wrote this story like a year ago. So feel free to hate this chapter. Yeah. I'll make up for it in the next chapter- there's a really really cute flashback that I think you'll all love! ~writergirl8
A/N: Before I forget... there's a new one-shot up on my page called Just You. I absolutely love it and it's probably my new favorite and it would be amazing if you could go and tell me what you think of it! Okay, enjoy the chapter :) ~writergirl8
“What I don't understand,” Rose said as she took a sip of her drink, “Was how he ended up calling you Mione, and you went as far as to marry him! I mean, you always hated Mione, you know? You never let me call you a nickname, or your mum, or your dad, or-”
“Yeah, I get it.” Hermione said, laughing and throwing a pillow at Rose. The four of them, Hermione, Ginny, Luna and Rose, were sitting in Hermione's bedroom, talking. Ron had been banned to the Burrow for some man to man time with Mr. Weasley and Harry and his other brothers so that Hermione could have some girl time, and she was quite grateful. While she loved Ron more than life itself, sometimes it drove her crazy to have only him for company for months at a time, and she'd been terribly reclusive since she'd found out she was pregnant. She hadn't seen any of her best friends in a while, so when they'd all come to her house demanding she let them in, Hermione had been extremely happy about it.
“We bring booty!” Luna had said happily. “Pickles and ice cream, which, as well as being yummy to a pregnant woman, wards off nargles.”
“And romantic movies!” Ginny added, holding up her bag.
“Aaaand nail polish,” Rose said, grinning as she took a color out to show Hermione.
“And alcohol free strawberry daiquiris!” the three said together.
So here they were. Talking, laughing, and nail painting just like a group of teenagers, not a bunch of women who were either engaged or married and in various stages of motherhood.
“Actually, it started in third year.”
“Third?” Ginny frowned.
“Yeah... but he really only called me Mione in private most of our lives.”
“How did it happen? And, bloody hell, how did you come to accept it as your nickname from him?”
“Basically, at that moment in time, I would have let him call me Dung Sack.”
“Shut up!” Rose laughed. “No, seriously. Tell the story!”
“Okay.” Hermione said, grinning mischievously. “But when I'm done, none of you can call me Mione. It's a Ron-only name, got it?”
“Got it.” They all chorused.
Hermione looked around the classroom, her eyes swiveling back and forth at her nervous classmates. She wondered if she got the same look on her face when she was about to take an exam as they did. Come to think of it, her exam face was probably worse. She was usually a wreck before an exam, and Harry and Ron always tried to calm her down, but they never succeeded. Perhaps the fact that she had a crush on Ron made this even worse... maybe, whenever he payed that much attention to her before an exam, she started to get butterflies for an entirely different reason then the test.
No, probably not. Hermione Jean Granger was not likely to get distracted by anything or anyone before a test. Not even Ronald Weasley.
At the thought of him, Hermione glanced over at the line of students, all in pairs. Ron and Harry were up next. Hermione had gone first with Hannah Abbott, and both had preformed the charm rather successfully. Now, they were seated in chairs next to each other, watching their classmates worry and fret over how well they knew how to do a cheering charm. Hermione loved the feeling she got when a test of some kind was over and she knew she nailed it. Of course, she wouldn't relax until she got the actual results back. But for now, she knew that there was nothing else she could really do about her grade, so why not enjoy the 'People Watching' this test seemed to supply?
“Potter, Weasley.” Flitwick squeaked, and Hermione's two boys stepped forward, both looking apprehensive. “Potter first, please.”
Harry cleared his throat several times before Ron gave him a look that clearly said he needed to get on with it. So Harry said the charm with as much enthusiasm as he could, his wand pointed at Ron's heart. Everything seemed fine until Ron burst out into hysterical giggles, causing everyone in the class to startle and turn towards him. Flitwick asked him to be quiet, but Ron couldn't.
“Mr. Potter, you seem to have overcasted the charm.”
“No, really?” Malfoy muttered under his breath. Hermione and Harry glared at him. Ron laughed in his direction.
“Ms. Granger, would you mind taking Ron to an empty classroom until he is ready to perform the charm?”
Hermione nodded and stood up, feeling slightly smug that she had been assigned such a wonderful task. Seeing Ron like this meant infinite blackmail later, didn’t it? Plus quality time, of course. She grabbed Ron's arm and led him out of the room, trying to keep her face straight as he giggled happily.
“Hermione Granger, skipping class!” Ron chortled. “Baaaad Hermione!”
“I'm not being bad, Ron.” Hermione said, looking at him in a rather scolding manner. “I'm directly following orders. Here.”
She knocked on a classroom door, got no answer, and stuck her head in. No one was in there, so she tugged Ron in and pulled the door closed behind her. Ron looked around.
“Why are we in an empty classroom, Mione?”
She turned to him, her eyebrows raised. Mione? No one had ever called her that before. It was a little ridiculous.
“Don't call me Mione.” she said shortly, turning to face Ron. “It's awful.”
“Mione. Mione, Mione, Mione.” Ron said, skipping around in a circle.
“God, you're immature.” Hermione sighed, sitting down on the teacher's desk and crossing her arms. “I don't think this is the charm, I think you just always act like this.”
“Whatever you say. Mione.”
She opened her mouth to reprimand him, but suddenly closed it. Mione. Mi-onee. My own. It sounded so romantic to her fourteen year old ears, Hermione shrugged her shoulders and said,
“Fine. Call me whatever you want.”
She briefly considered calling him Ronniekinz just then, but decided not to fight fire with fire. It really wasn't worth it. Ron walked over to her and sat next to her on the desk. Hermione sat up extremely stiffly as he sat down. He was so, so close to her. Their arms were brushing together, and she could count every freckle on his face.
“You know,” Ron said, “This is the first time I've been alone with a girl in an empty classroom.”
“Oh.” Hermione said, not exactly sure where to go with this. “That's... nice.”
“Do you know what people usually do in empty classrooms, Mione?” Ron whispered. Hermione coughed.
“I can guess.” she said quietly. Ron brushed her hair back and leaned in close to her ear as if about to tell her a secret.
“They snog.” he whispered. Then he burst out into hysterical giggles and jumped off of the desk.
“I think this charm is actually strengthening.” Hermione moaned to herself, while Ron skipped around in a circle screaming 'SNOG!' at the top of his voice. “Ron, shut up, I can't hear myself think!”
He turned to her like a wounded puppy, looking absolutely desolate that she had reprimanded him.
His look was so sweet Hermione's knees almost melted, and she swallowed.
“It's okay.” she whispered. Ron laughed happily and went over to the desk to sit next to her again.
“Why're you so obsessed with books, Mione?” he asked.
“I... I just am.” Hermione told him.
“No.” Ron shook his head. “There has to be something more. There has to.”
“Why're you so obsessed with Quidditch?” Hermione counted.
Hermione laughed warmly.
“You tricked me! Now you owe me one.”
“I tell you what, Ron. I'll tell you why I'm so obsessed one day when I think you deserve to know.”
And when I think there might be absolutely no chance of you ever fancying me, anyway, so my obsession won't be ruining it.
“Deal.” Ron said happily. “I love you, you know.”
“What?” Hermione whirled around and looked at him, her startled brown eyes meeting his blue ones.
“Not like that!” Ron said, giggling. “Like friend, you know? I love you... like a friend. Do you love me?”
“I don't know.” Hermione said.
“Well... do you love Harry?”
She was silent.
“Yes, I do love Harry. Like a brother.”
“Well... why don't you love me like a brother?”
“I ask myself that question every day. My life would be so much easier if I did.”
Ron stared at her for a few seconds. After a while, he sighed.
“I don't get it.”
“You might someday. Probably not.”
“Okay.” Ron said. Then he paused. “Maybe I don't love you like a friend.”
Hermione couldn't meet his eyes, so she concentrated on his brilliant red hair.
“I mean, you're more than that. You're one of my best friends. We've spent every single day together for three years. That's 1095 days, you know.”
“You're good at math, Ron.” Hermione said, because she couldn't say anything else.
“But more than a friend is a sister...” Ron continued as though she hadn't interrupted him. “And I really don't need another sister. I love Ginny, and all, but she's a sibling, and I have lots of those. Harry's my brother, too, I guess.”
Hermione had to wonder if Ron would be saying any of these things if he had been in his right state of mind.
“So... where does that put you?” Ron asked, more to himself then to her. “Not friend, not sister...”
Girlfriend. Crush. Date. Significant other. Hermione thought.
“Dunno. I'll be...” she took in a deep breath. “I'll be whatever you want me to be, Ron.”
“Okay.” Ron said, and then he turned towards the window and started humming the school song. Hermione waited and waited, but Ron didn't say anything.
“Er- Ron. Did you decide yet? What am I?” Hermione asked. Instead of answering, Ron said,
“Usually in empty classrooms people snog.”
Hermione blushed scarlet, thinking about snogging Ron in this very empty classroom. But her thoughts were interrupted when he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. It was so close to her mouth the corner of his lips brushed against hers. Hermione felt a jolt of electricity at this, but then Ron pulled away and walked out of the room, still humming the school song.
“And thus came the birth of my favorite nickname.” Hermione announced.
“Wow,” Rose said, sighing. “So sweet! You two really were meant to be.”
“I'd like to think so, seeing as we got married, and if we weren’t meant to be then there would be real problem here,” Hermione laughed, hugging the pillow she was holding tighter against her chest.
“Did you ever talk about it again after that?” Luna asked mildly. Hermione shook her head no.
“We were fourteen, you know? What third year wants to talk about that? I know he was embarrassed. Once the charm wore off and he was back to himself, he wouldn't look me in the eye for days.”
“You know, it kind of parallels what he did to you during The Perfect Match,” Ginny mused.
“Yes, well, my humiliation was public, his was in an empty classroom.”
Ginny laughed. She laughed hard. Then suddenly, she let out a gasp.
“What's wrong?” Rose asked, startled.
“Nothing,” Ginny said, a strange look crossing her face. “I must have gotten a cramp from laughing or something. More daiquiri?” she inquired brightly. They all nodded and gave Ginny their glasses.
“Ginny, you're nine months pregnant. Do you think maybe...?” Hermione said.
“No, no, no. I'll be fine, Hermione, really.” she said, and then she left the room and traipsed downstairs over to the kitchen. A few minutes later, the girls heard a shriek. They flew down the stairs as fast as they could to get to Ginny's aid. She was staring, horrified, at a puddle on the floor.
“Did you spill something?” Luna asked, confused.
“My water broke.” Ginny said weakly.
“How early are you?” Rose asked, shocked.
“Well... not early, exactly. Today's my due date, but...”
“GINNY!” the three of them screamed.
“What? What!” Ginny asked in a horrified voice. “Who ever actually has their baby on their due date? No one! I thought I was just going to be late!”
“Oh, what do we do, what do we do?” Hermione asked, panicking.
“Luna, you bring Ginny to St. Mungo's. I can't go, I'm not a witch, so I won't be able to get in. Hermione, you write letters to all the Weasleys. You know them, it should be easy for you. Got it?”
They all nodded, dumbstruck at how calm Rose was being.
“Well then... GO!” Rose yelled.
“RON! RON!” Hermione cried, rushing into the Burrow as fast as she could. Since she couldn't apparate, she had to drive, and she'd never driven so fast in her life. “RON!”
He came running down the stairs, his eyes wild with fear, and as soon as he saw her he ran over to her and grabbed her shoulders.
“HERMIONE! WHAT'S WRONG? WHAT HAPPENED? ARE YOU OKAY? DID YOU HAVE THE BABY?”
Hermione stopped flipping out long enough to give her husband a look of disdain.
“Ron, if I'd had the baby, I wouldn't be up and running like this, and my stomach wouldn't be as big. You would definitely be able to tell.”
Harry chortled behind Ron, rummaging through the fridge for a drink. Ron stuck his tongue out at his best friend as Harry took a drink, and then turned back to Hermione.
“Well, what is it, then?”
“Ginny's gone into labor.”
Harry instantly spat out his pumpkin juice and swore loudly.
“Ginny. Has gone. Into labor.” Ron said slowly, rolling his eyes. “Honestly, Harry, this is what I was just saying, you have to listen-”
But Harry was gone, bolting out the door, and with a crack they heard him apparate away.
“Er- that went well?” Ron said, looking out the window.
“He's probably going to St. Mungo's. Where's James?”
“James?” Ron said blankly. “Oh, right. Upstairs, napping, I think.”
Hermione pointed to the stairs.
“Go get him.”
“Why? Can't you?” Ron asked.
“No! I'm pregnant, and I just ran all that way! Go, Ronald!”
The sound of Hermione saying his full name seemed to make Ron understand the seriousness of the situation, and he immediately bolted for the stairs. Satisfied, Hermione sat down at the wooden table she knew so well and started writing out a letter telling everyone what was going on. Then, using a copying spell, she duplicated the note and hunted around the house until she found an owl. She wasn't even sure whose it was, but by now there were so many children, spouses, and grandchildren it was extremely hard to tell. Hermione gave the owl all of the letters and told him to find the immediate family. She bit her lip and hoped it was a good delivery bird, but she supposed she'd be finding out in a bit anyways.
Ron emerged from upstairs with James, and they set off for St. Mungo's in the car, Hermione driving as fast as she could and Ron hanging onto the seat in honest fear for his life.
“I like it better when you're a careful driver.” he announced as Hermione narrowly escaped a red light. “I mean, merlin knows you need to let loose, but when it comes to driving, stick to your normal, anal ways, won't you, love?”
Hermione considered this for a few moments.
“I... I'm not sure whether I should be offended at the dis or proud of you for finally accepting that some things are better done carefully,” she admitted, slamming her foot on the gas.
“This can not be good for someone so pregnant.” Ron said, glancing at her belly.
“It's fine,” Hermione said, hitting her foot against the gas and causing the car to lurch forward. They reached St. Mungo's in good time, though, and were up in Ginny's ward soon enough. They were the last of the Weasleys to get there, but neither of them minded, as they knew it was going to be a long wait. Hermione and Ron sat themselves onto one of the couches, and she leaned her head against his shoulder.
“Hey, remember what happened the last time we were at St. Mungo's?” Ron whispered in her ear. Hermione smiled.
“Yeah. We snogged in a closet because we were remembering what happened the time before that time.” she said.
“We should do that again.” Ron whispered enthusiastically.
Hermione turned around to look at him, her eyes full of adoration.
“Alright. If we get bored, I promise the option is up for grabs.” she said quietly.
“Brilliant.” Ron hissed victoriously.
A sudden wail interrupted their muttering, and the whole family turned towards the room where Ginny was about to give birth.
“Uhhhrrrrggg!” she screamed, and everyone winced. Ron glanced over at Hermione and saw that her face was especially pale.
“Hermione?” he said questioningly, but she shook her head and didn't say anything. After a while, Ron saw her eyes flit down to her stomach, and he suddenly understood. In three months, this was going to be them. Harry and Ginny would probably be out here, and Ron and Hermione would be in there, going through the awful things the other couple was undertaking in that room.
“C'mon. It can't be that bad,” Ron said, leaning down to Hermione's ear so that no one would hear him. “I mean, if it was, my mum wouldn't have done it seven times, right?”
Hermione chose not to say anything. She instead turned to the door, where reporters were standing outside of, trying to figure out a way to get into the waiting room outside the place where Harry Potter's second child was being born.
“It's going to be just like this,” she said softly. “I'm going to be doing this the exact same thing.”
“Oh, not the exact same thing,” Ron said in a light voice. “I'm sure the reporters won't care that two of the people in the golden trio mated, as long as one of them isn't Harry. We'll be press-less, in any case.”
It was a warm, light day at the Weasley household, and Hermione was sitting in her attic book room, curled up on the lightly worn leather couch. Her nose was buried in a book about babies, her eyes flitting quickly across the page as she attempted to take in as much information as she could in a very little amount of time. Ron stood on the entrance stairs, watching her happily. At seven months, she was big. Really big. And he loved it. He loved thinking about what their baby would look like, and guessing on who it would act more like. He also liked watching his wife read. If there was one time in the world that Hermione's face was alive with excitement and peace at the same time, it was this. She was just sitting there, happily reading, soaking in information and trying to fulfill her yearning for knowledge. It was something Ron would never understand. It seemed odd that he could be married to someone and not understand the biggest part of her life. But so far they'd managed to do very well, and almost two years into their marriage, Hermione and Ron were stronger then ever.
He knocked on the wall and she looked up, her bushy hair flying around as she turned to look at him. Her face lit up, and she grinned at the sight she was seeing. Ron, just showered from his Friday full of ickle training, was carrying a tray with two iced teas up to her. He'd been doing this a lot lately. They'd sit on the couch, opposite sides because it was just too hot to cuddle, and talk about anything and everything baby. Sometimes, they'd go as far as to talk about its future, and what was going to happen to it when it became older. They predicted it's job, it's hair color, it's eye color, it's IQ, and even tossed around the idea of who it might marry, thinking about fellow Hogwarts students who were all having babies around the same time as they were.
“Thanks, I need a break.” Hermione said, patting the couch next to her. Ron hastened to go sit next to her and handed her an iced tea. She sighed and leaned back, then put her legs on his lap. He let her do so, after all, it was the least he could do for her. He wanted to express in as many ways he could his gratefulness for the fact that he would not be the one going through the pain of labor. They sat there for a while, then Ron leaned down and lifted Hermione's shirt up so that he could see her stomach. He placed his hand on it, and suddenly felt the baby kick. It wasn't the first time, but Ron still let out a delighted laugh at it. Their baby was kicking. It was like the child knew he was there and was saying hello. So Ron decided to say it back.
“Hello, baby.” he said.
“Hi.” Hermione replied. “Since when did you call me baby?”
Ron looked at her, his mouth open at the fact that Hermione Weasley, the brightest witch of her age, was having a daft moment, but he saw her eyes twinkling down at him and he realized she'd done it on purpose.
“Do... do you think I should talk to it?”
“Sure,” Hermione said, shrugging. “I play Beethoven to it while I'm at work. It can't hurt.”
“Okay.” Ron said, and then he sat there, staring at her stomach for quite some time. “Er- hi again. I'm daddy. I... er... like Quidditch. I don't like books. Your mummy likes books, but not Quidditch. We really don't understand each other on that front, but we still love each other.”
He could hear Hermione laughing at him, but he payed no mind to her. He was basically in his own little world, just him and the baby, and he'd be dammed if a laughing Hermione was going to ruin that for him.
“I hope you look just like your mum,” Ron said. “Because if you do... well, everything will be perfect. I hope you're a girl, and you look just like your mum, but you're a clone copy of me, personality wise. Except, no wait, you should be a smart copy of me.”
Instead of telling him that he was, indeed, smart, Hermione focused on another part of Ron's sentence.
“Of course, we don't care if you're a boy. That's quite alright with both of us. Isn't it, daddy?” Hermione said, shooting a glance at Ron.
“Oh. Er- sure. I mean, it'd be okay if you were a boy, but quite frankly I want a few of each. But, yeah, be a boy if you want to.”
“Oh, Ron,” Hermione sighed, shaking her head and smiling as she tugged her shirt back over her stomach.
“What do you think it will be?” Ron asked her.
“A boy.” Hermione answered immediately. “It's going to be a boy.”
“How do you know?” Ron inquired, frowning. Hermione looked at him skeptically.
“Ron, have you ever seen your family tree? Ginny was a bloody miracle.”
“But Bill and Fleur had a girl first try. And so did Percy, and so did George and Angelina.”
“That's exactly why I think it's going to be a boy.” Hermione said. “You can only get so lucky in one family.”
Ron looked at her for a second.
“Face it. You want a girl.”
“I don't!” Hermione argued. “Look, Ron, I've said it before. I knew I was in for a life of boys when I married you. I knew I was destined to be a football mum-”
“Oh, er, a Quidditch mum, then. Anyways, I knew I was destined to be a Quidditch mum, and I knew that I was going to be constantly yelling at them for getting too dirty and playing pranks... I've always wanted a girl, but I don't think the odds are with us. But it's okay. You're worth it. I'll love our children whatever gender they turn out to be, because they're ours.”
“I think you shouldn't give up hope just yet.” Ron said.
“It's a boy, Ron.” Hermione said. “I just know it's going to be a boy, and I really haven't got a problem with that. I think if it was going to be a girl I'd just know, anyways. My mum did. She knew I was going to be a girl, even before she found out from the Healer.”
“Well, did your mum ever take divination with Trelwany? Because that might have something to do with it.” Ron teased. Hermione smacked his arm with her book. “Um, ow!” Ron said, looking at her, aghast.
“Sorry.” Hermione shrugged, laughing. “I guess old habits die hard.”
“I'll let you get away with it. You're hormonal.”
“Uh hu.” Hermione said, and she leaned over to kiss him before settling into his arms, heat be dammed. After a while, Ron started to massage her back, and Hermione sighed gratefully before opening her book and going to read another chapter on breast feeding.
“Hermione,” Ron said in her ear. Hermione didn't take her eyes off of her book.
“Get your nose out of the bloody book.”
“Why?” Hermione asked, swiveling around to look at him.
“Because this is supposed to be... I dunno... sexy, romantic, and you're killing it by reading.”
“On the contrary, reading really turns me on.” Hermione told him, wiggling her eyebrows.
“Very funny,” Ron said, and Hermione chuckled. “I'm so tired of you reading so much about... about...” he leaned over and looked at the page she was reading. “Euurg!” Ron cried a few seconds later. “That... Hermione... what?” He looked sideways at her and took in her smug grin.
“It's a breast pump, Ron.”
“It looks... painful.”
“I wouldn't know, I haven't tried one. So I'll get back to you on that.”
“I wish you could just stop reading for a few hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Years.”
Hermione looked horrified at the thought.
“I would never!” she said. “Ron, these are educating me on how to raise our child, and what's going on in my body right now, and even helping me think of names for the baby! I can't not use them!”
“I dare you.” Ron said. “C'mon. We'll figure out a way to distract you, and you'll be fine without them.”
“I don't think I'm taking you up on that.” Hermione said looking dignified as she opened her book again. “Dare declined.”
Ron grabbed the book out of her hand and threw it across the room.
“Seriously?” Hermione cried, annoyed, but Ron knew he had won because Hermione hated getting up once she was comfortable and sitting down these days. “Fine, let's bloody talk! What do you want to bloody talk about?” she asked angrily.
“Er... how about baby names?” Ron said. “Girl names first.” Hermione seemed to like this subject, so she immediately jumped in.
“I was thinking something elegant and old fashioned, like Elladora!”
“Elladora? God, that's awful. I want something more interesting, like Raina. It sounds like Rain, we can call her Rain or Rainy for short, even!”
“I'm not naming our child something out of weather. But maybe Annalise! Isn't that pretty?”
“It's stupid, really. Maybe something with an i like Anni!”
“No. Every time I talk to her, I'll want to start singing. What about Gemmalyn?”
“That's absolutely hideous... how about Wetta?”
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah. You know, I thought I'd continue with the rain theme. And, let's face it, Wetta's a triple threat. It sounds like someone saying 'wetter' with an accent, and it it's rainsh, and it sounds like Gretta! Plus it's totally original.”
“There's absolutely no way. I will die before you give my child the name of Wetta. I'd rather die, really. The shame of having a little girl named Wetta!”
“Fine, then. Let's switch to boy names.”
“Sounds too much like Hermione.”
“What? No. Easy, simple does it, Hermione.”
“No more Greek Gods, Hermione!”
“Well we can't use Roman Gods!” Hermione replied indignantly. “Our boy will be a planet then, and that'll just be embarrassing.”
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Hermione shouted. “Those names are crap!”
“Your names are crap!” Ron said angrily. “Mine are awesome. Easy, simple, nice. Spell-able.”
“Oh, don't even go there!” Hermione retorted.
“Okay, stop!” Ron said, throwing a hand up. “Let's... let's do something else. Do you want to...?”
“Read a book? Yes.” Hermione said, starting to get up. Ron trapped her to him quite easily.
“How about go shopping for the nursery?”
“No, not today.” Hermione told him.
“Mione, we only have three months.”
“Bloody hell!” she was up in a surprisingly fast time for someone so pregnant, and after a few minutes of waddling down the stairs, putting make up on, and trying to get her hair right, Hermione joined Ron at the door to their house. They opened the door and got into the car (Hermione driving, of course) they had bought for Hermione's pregnancy and the raising of their children. Since babies shouldn't apparate or floo, they had decided a car was the best way to handle the situation, and after month six of a pregnancy a witch couldn't do either of those things, anyway. They made their way down Godric's Hollow, waving to their neighbors as they drove. Ron and Hermione reached the rode that led to Harry and Ginny's, but didn't turn down it, for once. Finally, they reached the store they were using for most of their baby needs and walked in. Inside was, of course, baby paradise. Hermione smiled delightedly as she walked through the store, looking at all the things they could use for their baby.
“Oh, look!” Hermione squealed. “That looks just like the cradle we had for Nancy and...”
But she suddenly stopped short, realizing something.
“Ron, I've only just remembered! We have a cradle and toys and clothes and everything down in the basement. We can just bring all that up, we don't need to buy anything new!”
“From what?” Ron asked, confused.
“The Perfect Match,” Hermione hissed, and both winced at the name of the game show.
“Right,” Ron said. “There's just one hitch.”
“What's that?” Hermione asked.
“Nancy and Cam are in those boxes, and I don't... I don't want to see them.”
Hermione looked at him for a moment. Then she went over to him and put her arms around him, rubbing a circle around his cheek with her thumb as she pressed her head against his chest.
“Ron,” Hermione said quietly, “We're having our own babies now. They don't matter anymore. They aren't our only chance. We're married, and we're having a baby, and neither of us are sad or lonely or desperate or scared. It's going to be different. If anything, we should think fondly of them now, instead of sadly. They brought us together so much. I think, without them, we might not have ended up together by the end of the show.”
Ron looked at her for a few seconds, but then nodded.
“Okay. But you need to come to the basement with me!” he warned. Hermione placed her hand delicately on her heart.
“Me? In my delicate condition? I couldn't.” she said, widening her eyes.
“Hermione, four words for you.”
“It's leviooooosa, not leviosaaaa!”
“Point taken.” Hermione said, and she took Ron's hand and led him out of the store. They drove back to the house, parked the car, and went straight to the basement. Hermione and Ron both lit their wands with Lumos before remembering that they had lights. Hermione coughed and directed her wand towards the switches, feeling a little embarrassed. But she was so nervous. She hadn't seen Nancy and Cam in forever, and now that she was about to be a mother there was something else entirely new that was making her afraid of looking at them. She and Ron walked through the dark room until they found the boxes labeled 'Baby'. Then, they both took deep breaths before levitating the boxes with their wands and carrying them up. They levitated the boxes over two flights of stairs before they put them down in the baby's room, which Ron had already decorated with a soft yellow Babbity Rabbity wallpaper.
“Okay. Ready?” Hermione asked.
“Ready.” Ron confirmed. And at the same time, they both opened the boxes. Nancy and Cam looked exactly like Hermione and Ron remembered, besides the fact that they were not at all moving.
“I wonder if our baby will look like them,” Hermione said in a hushed voice, picking up Cam and placing him on her baby bump as if that could make her child look just a little bit like the boy that she had coveted as the perfect baby.
“Maybe.” Ron said in reply, lifting Nancy out of the box and staring at her as if he expected her to start crying any second. Hermione took in a shaky breath and stood up, placing Cam gently back in his box.
“Alright, then. Let's get started.”
They took everything out of the boxes besides the babies themselves: the crib, the shelves, the clothes, the toys. All it did was a few wand points and Hermione and Ron had set up everything, making them stand fully and perfectly. They spent a few good hours playing around with the setup until they decided on the perfect nursery. It really was beautiful. It was just like Nancy and Cam's, minus the second crib, and Hermione knew that it would have even more books and toys then Nancy and Cam did. By the time they finished, it was dark. Hermione lit a lamp they had just plugged in and smiled as it bathed the room in a warm glow. She went over to sit in the comfortable rocking chair, sighing contently to herself.
“This is perfect. Once we figure out the gender, we can make it a little more towards that... and when the baby comes we can put pictures all around of it with different people.”
“Good idea.” Ron said. His eyes were circulating the room in a frenzy, their usual twinkle muted.
“What is it?” Hermione asked.
“It's just... this is happening.”
“Most definitely.” Hermione told him.
“It's really happening.”
“Ron-” Hermione said, but he had turned around a ran out of the room. Somewhere in the house, Hermione heard a door slam, but she wasn't sure which one.
She expected Ron to come back in a few hours, but he wasn't appearing, and it had been two days. He'd run off Friday evening, and it was Sunday night. Hermione had spent the whole time she couldn't find him cleaning around the house and rearranging the nursery just a little bit, trying to think about even the littlest things. On Saturday afternoon she checked all the rooms in the house, but she still couldn't find Ron. She'd even gone up to her attic book room to see if he was there, but from what she saw of it she wasn't. All in all, Hermione was beginning to despair a little bit. Had Ron done the worst and actually left her because he was in shock? She was almost sure he was gone for good. That is, until she heard a loud crash from upstairs. Hermione took the stairs two at a time as she struggled to reach her attic. She threw open the door and looked at the scene before her with wide eyes. Ron was standing there, wearing the same clothes he'd been in on Friday, throwing books around like they weren't beautiful, amazing... oh, merlin, she had to stop him.
“Ron! RON!” Hermione yelled, and he turned around to look at her. She hadn't seen him so unshaved in a while, and it never failed to surprise her when she saw the makings of a ginger beard on Ron's face. Sometimes, she still thought of him as the third year boy that kept blaming her cat for trying to eat his rat. “Are you alright? What's wrong? Where have you been?”
“Here. All this time,” Ron said grimly. “Behind a bookshelf so you wouldn't find me. And, no, I'm not alright, Hermione. I'm so unprepared for this. I thought I was ready, you know? I thought everything was going to be okay, because I've grown up around kids. But they weren't mine! I didn't go home with them and live with them 24/7. We're twenty six, Hermione. This is just insane for us to be doing.”
“Oh, Ron,” she said, and she moved towards him and sat down on the couch. Ron sat down on the floor and he put his head in her lap so that she could stroke his hair. “We're going to be fine, sweetheart. We will, I swear. Lots of people do this at twenty six, and not all of them are as strong as we are.”
The hand that wasn't stroking his hair moved down to gently trace his jawline, to trace the scar that he had gotten during the final battle and had hated so much.
“You said to me when you were trying to convince me to have a baby, 'Hermione, how prepared can you really be for something like this?' Ron, you know that's true. How prepared can you be?”
Hermione felt something wet on her jeans and looked down. She didn't know why, but he was crying. Perhaps it was because he was scared, perhaps it because he'd gotten no sleep, perhaps it was just the whole emotion of the situation... Hermione didn't know, but she didn't care. She could talk him through all of it.
“You saw how awful it was when Ginny was giving birth. We're going to have to do that, Mione. You're going to have to do that. You'll be in pain, and it'll be all my fault.”
“I love you. And it's our baby. And that's all that matters. How long have we wanted each other, Ron? Since we were fourteen? Fifteen? It's been so long... we deserve this! We deserve to have trivial little problems and late night arguments about who has to get up and feed the baby. After all we've done to be together, this baby is going to be everything. This is the product of suffering through the jealousy of Krum and Lavender, and getting through you leaving me and Harry during the Hunt, and doing that stupid game show, and surviving the final battle, all of which we did together. Even if we fail miserably, which we won't, it'll be ours, and we'll never be able do this with anybody else and have it mean so much.”
“I'm so scared. What if I fail? What if something happens to it? What if Draco Malfoy's a better father then I am?”
Hermione laughed shakily, pressed her lips together, and let a tear slip down her face. In the darkness, Ron wouldn't have known, but it landed on his nose, so comfortably placed in her lap.
“First of all, Draco Malfoy could never be a better father then you,” she told him. “He's a ferrity prat. And second of all... whatever happens, Ron, we're in this together. What you go through, I go through. We're going to watch our child follow the same path as we do: Hogwarts, and love, and broken hearts and failed tests-”
“Failed tests? That's what you're most worried about?”
“Oh, shut up.”
Ron straightened up and kissed the salty tears off of Hermione's face.
“Are you better now?” she whispered.
“No. Still scared.”
“Two weeks. Two bloody weeks.” Hermione said miserably, a scowl on her face. She looked around the room as if challenging her family to undermine her suffering. No one did. No one even bothered. Ginny had been pregnant just three months ago, and she knew how awful it was. And Molly had carried during the summertime, too. She understood how horrible it was to be late in the hot, sticky August weather. Crookshanks slunk into the room and leaped onto Hermione's lap, but the woman stood up immediately and pushed him off of her. “Are you kidding?” she screamed at him. “Do you know how hot it is? Do you know how terrible this is? That's right, you don't! You'll never know, because you don't have swollen ankles!”
With that, she fell back into the chair, angry tears streaming down her face. Ron glanced at his mother and sister, both of whom shrugged at him guiltily. They couldn't do anything to improve his wife's temperament. Molly stood up.
“Hermione, would you like me to fetch you a glass of water?”
“Yes, please,” Hermione said. Ginny stood up, too.
“I'll be right back. I'm going to- er- check something. Coming, Ron?”
“Do I need to?”
“Yes. Yes, you do.”
“Okay.” Ron said, and throwing Hermione a look that suggested he wasn't too sure whether he should be leaving her side or not, Ron left the room. As soon as he exited, he rounded on Ginny.
Ginny threw her hands up.
“I just wanted to see how you were faring. But if you don't want my sympathy, I'll just be on my merry way, and-”
“No, I do.” Ron said quickly, running a hand through his ginger hair. “I just... want this to end. It's been way too long, and the fact that this is August doesn't really help at all.”
“For better or worse, Ron,” Ginny said softly. “This is the worse, believe me. But I promise it'll get better. As soon as you see that baby... oh my god. You'll fall in love in a totally different way.”
“I'll take your word for it,” Ron said, smiling happily for the first time in a while. “I wish I had something to relieve my stress, but I can't risk leaving the house long enough to play Quidditch or anything. I don't want to go, and I don't think Hermione wants me to, either, although she hasn't said anything. But if she did I'd agree with her. She's due to pop any second.”
“You know we'd get you immediately if anything was about to happen,” Ginny said, nudging him with her foot.
“Yeah, but what if Hermione was alone? She can't apparate to the hospital, she needs to be driven, so...”
“Come to think of it, Ron, how are you going to go about that?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, most witches and wizards use pregnancy brooms. But Hermione doesn't like heights, and you haven't got a clue how to drive.”
“Right. That's why her mum came to stay with us a few weeks ago, right before Hermione's due date. But she had to go, and now we're caught between a rock and a hard place over here. It doesn't really help that Hermione hexed the car when she was trying to teach me how to drive, and we can't figure out how to fix it.”
“You mean she tried to help you by charming it?”
“No, I mean she was so frustrated she took her anger out on the car instead of me. Which I greatly appreciate, seeing the state the car's in now.”
Ginny winced sympathetically.
“You're so good at this, though.” she said finally.
“What do you mean?” Ron asked incredulously. “I'm not! Not at all.”
“Ron, do you honestly think most men would stay by their wives sides without any poking or prodding from the woman? You were a mess at getting the girl, in fact, it was a bit of a catastrophe, but once you figured out who the girl was and married her, you were just perfect. You know her so well that you can practically read her mind, and you're simply doting to her.”
“Whenever I start to resent her,” Ron said quietly, “I just have to think of her screams as she was tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange. I just have to think about the game show, and how hard we worked to get here, and how difficult it was when we weren't a couple. Then I just stop thinking about how pissed off I am at her and count my blessings that she chose me.”
“God, you're making me miss Harry.” she leaned over and peered into the living room, where Hermione was talking to Mrs. Weasley. “Hey, Ron. You say you miss flying, and you can't go because you're worried about Hermione going into labor without anyone there. But what if you got to play Quidditch and everyone was there?”
“What do you mean?” Ron asked curiously.
“I mean I think it's time for a Weasley-Potter Quidditch event.”
“Feeling better, dear?” Mrs. Weasley asked as she handed Hermione her glass of water.
“Not really,” Hermione sighed, taking a sip. “Thanks,” she added as an afterthought.
“I understand,” Mrs. Weasley sighed. “Imagine doing this with twins.”
“I hope I never have to,” Hermione admitted. “I don't think I could stand it.”
“The first time was awful for me, though. I was so young, much younger then you and Ron, mind, and Arthur and I were very scared.”
Hermione looked at the woman who was her mother-in-law, respect written all over her face. Mrs. Weasley was a woman to idolize, Hermione knew. She'd managed to grow the biggest and most wonderful family, full of lovable children and lots of laughter. She'd gotten through so many awful times with this family, and they were still as whole as physically possible, Fred notwithstanding. Mrs. Weasley was an excellent cook, an excellent mother, and an excellent wife. When Hermione had been searching for things to do to help the House Elves, she had decided on knitting because Mrs. Weasley did it. Hermione had thought that, maybe if she did something a little like Ron's mum, the boy might notice her as girlfriend material. And it did happen, but, at the time, Hermione was not aware of it. Neither was Ron, really, for that matter.
“It must have been hard,” Hermione said quietly. “Especially since there was a war going on.”
Mrs. Weasley nodded.
“But you and Ron were more active in the war then any of us were, bar Harry, of course. My little Ron... I never knew. Everyone thought he would never be able to measure up to his brothers, that even if he did what they did, it wouldn't be interesting because they'd already done it. But leave it to Ron to find the one thing that his brothers haven't done. And he found you,” Mrs. Weasley added as an afterthought. Hermione couldn't help blushing happily. “It was so interesting watching the two of you fall in love... I always thought it would be either Harry or Ron, you know. But I'm so glad you picked Ron.”
“It was never any other way,” Hermione said loudly. She was keen to make that clear to everyone. It had always been Ron.
“You make my son so happy. And just watching you over the years... the little hints, the foreshadowing... I just knew. I think Arthur's told you this, but you act so much like we did when we were younger. Except it took us a lot less time to end up married and together. That, I didn't see coming. I thought you'd be together by the end of fifth year, but, alas, you made me wait another two years.”
“I made you wait,” Hermione scoffed, laughing. “He made me wait, and it wasn't more nerve wrecking for anyone. I was the one who initiated the bloody first kiss!”
Mrs. Weasley grinned.
“Well, dear, you know I don't like to play favorites, but...” she leaned over. “If I had to pick a daughter-in-law to be my favorite, you'd be the one.”
Just then, Ginny and Ron came bursting into the room, wearing identical looks of excitement that caused their relation to each other to be more prominent then usual. Both expressions slid off of their faces when they saw the shocked and teary look on Hermione's face. Ron immediately went over to her side to make sure she was alright, and Ginny turned to her mother and mouthed, what did you do? Mrs. Weasley shrugged, but her eyes were twinkling mischievously.
“So, what's with the happy face?” she asked her daughter as Hermione assured Ron- in a loud, over exaggerated voice- that she wasn't going to stop breathing and the baby was fine. These days, it was taking her roughly ten minutes to explain to Ron that she was just emotional whenever she started to cry, so Ginny plowed ahead on her own.
“We've decided to have a Weasley-Potter Quidditch Game. Everyone's going to come. It'll be really fun!”
“When?” Mrs. Weasley asked.
“Today!” Ginny said, skipping out of the room. “I'm flooing everyone now.”
“You have to get Percy's gang!” Ron called after her, abandoning Hermione temporarily for the excitement of Quidditch. “If you don't get them, we can't do it. Not enough players.”
“Got it!” Ginny called, and they heard the door slam shut.
An hour later, due to a good combination of excitement, sports adoration, and threatening on Ginny's part, the whole family had turned up in the muggle field behind the burrow. The little ones were needed to play, so the Quidditch hoops were lowered and the rules changed to ensure that the adults didn't outplay the kids too much. Everyone had to fly low, with the exception of the seekers, who just had to follow the snitch. This was very well, anyways, because the muggles could easily spot them if they flew too high.
“SHUT UP, EVERYONE!” Ginny called, getting on top of a table. Everyone was silent. “Okay, here's the list. There are two seekers, me and Harry,” Everyone started groaning at once. “Fine,” Ginny said, starting to leap off of the table. “We won't play.”
There was a general outcry of annoyance as she said this; apparently, more plans had been canceled then Ron could count on his fingers for this game. Ginny, looking very smug, clambered back onto the table.
“There we go,” she said. “Now, as I was saying, Harry and I are seekers. On Harry's team, we have Ron as keeper, Audrey, Lucy, and Angelina as chasers, and George and Percy as beaters-”
Percy let out an indignant cry.
“Why am I a beater? I've never been a beater before!”
“Perce, you have so many issues,” George said, turning to him, “But no way to express your anger. Just imagine that the bludger is the minister for magic's head. Then, you can take him out and the position's free for you to take over.”
Percy turned bright red, but agreed to try it out.
“Right, then,” Ginny said. “On my team, we have Charlie and Bill as beaters-”
“But I'm always seeker!” Charlie growled.
“My game, my rules,” Ginny told him. “Anyway, they're beaters. Teddy's keeper, and Fleur, Dom, and Victoire are chasers.”
“We have this in the bag,” Ron muttered to Harry, who grinned at him.
“And, don't forget, about dad!” Harry called to his wife.
“Oh, right. Dad's reffing. So let's have a nice clean game, hmmm?”
Ron walked over to Hermione and Mrs. Weasley, who were sitting in cushioned chairs on the edge of the field with all of the children who were too young to play Quidditch. Hermione had her hands resting on her belly, and she looked peaceful for the first time in the last two weeks. Ron thought he knew why. She had a lot to be happy about, with her family all around her, a fan blowing her her hair back and keeping her cool, and a chair right next to the table with the food Mrs. Weasley had made and the fresh lemonade Fleur had brought. Ron knelt in front of her and stretched so that he could kiss her.
“How're you doing?” he asked, pulling back when he remembered that his mum was there. Unfortunately, Hermione could make him forget very easily that he had any reason at all to stop kissing her.
“I'm good,” Hermione said, smiling serenely at him. “I'm happy Ginny thought of this. You've seemed so cooped up lately, and I was starting to feel really bad.”
“Starting?” Ron asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Okay, I've been feeling bad for a while. I just couldn't let you think I was turning into a softie.”
“Of course not,” Ron grinned. He had that look on his face that he got whenever he wanted to kiss her, so Hermione closed the distance for him. Then she pulled back and ran her fingers through his hair once before clapping her hands together and telling him to go have fun. The next hour was one of the best that any Weasleys had ever had as a family. Mr. Weasley enjoyed himself thoroughly, in spite of the fact that he was constantly being forced to pause the game since many of his sons kept fouling. The Weasleys were extremely competitive, and Hermione kept comparing and contrasting the situation to the Quidditch World Cup. Once, Harry nearly knocked Ginny off of her broom as they were going for the snitch, causing her to yell at him for about ten minutes while the family was forced to sit there and watch. Mrs. Weasley turned to Hermione, smiling.
“If we ever do this again, we're putting those two on the same side. A competition like this could break up a marriage, and we can't have that.”
“Figures. Two children, six threatening older brothers, near death, torture, and a war stands in their way, but the thing that really pulls them apart is a Quidditch game.”
Mr. Weasley glanced over at the two chortling witches, grinning himself.
“I think maybe we'd better end this before one team wins- or loses. This could just be toxic for their married life. Maybe George has a decoy detonator on him!”
“Oh, Arthur, you know fully well he doesn't. Remember what happened the last time he flew with one of those in his pocket?” Mrs. Weasley asked. The three glanced at each other, then started laughing again. Hermione couldn't remember the last time she laughed so hard. Oh, no, she could. She and Ron had been lying in bed talking the night before her due date. They'd been so nervous, thinking that it was coming fast. They'd had no idea how long it would take, then, and they'd been so excited. Hermione remembered laughing until her stomach ached at some joke Ron told, and then falling asleep with him spooning her, because he couldn't cradle her in his arms like he used to, on account of her large stomach.
A sudden roar startled Hermione from her thoughts, and she looked around to see nearly every Weasley on the field screaming at each other. Teddy and Victoire were yelling in each other's faces, closest to the ground on their tiny little brooms. Fleur and Audrey were going at it, and Dom and Lucy were screaming at each other, too. Ginny and Harry were making angry faces at each other, and George, Percy, Bill, and Charlie were all in a group, bellowing at each other. Hermione had never heard so much noise in her life, and she slept in the same bed as Ron.
“What happened?” she asked, watching Ron join Harry and Ginny's fight with much enthusiasm. Mr. Weasley shrugged, looking at his family helplessly.
“We turn our backs for one second,” Mrs. Weasley sighed. “Arthur, why didn't you watch more carefully?”
“Molly, you distracted-”
And then they were off too, and Hermione, having no one to fight with, was just standing there, listening to the babies cry at the sound of their parents arguing over something as stupid as Quidditch. Hermione's stomach dropped. Suddenly nervous, she looked down at the grass underneath her, eyes wide. Then she looked up.
“YOU CAN'T DO THAT, IT'S ILLEGAL IN QUIDDITCH!”
“I DIDN'T MEAN TO DO IT SO HARD, GOOD MERLIN!”
“Sonorus!”Hermione said, pointing her wand at her throat.
“HE WAS FLYING RIGHT AT ME, WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO-”
“GUUUUYS!” Hermione screamed in her magnified voice. Everyone turned to look at her, and she smiled sheepishly, then swallowed hard.
“I think my water just broke.”
A/N: So... I think the chapter after this one will be the last one! There might be an epilogue, but other then that it seems like a really good place to end it. ~writergirl8
Everyone was frozen in midair, staring at Hermione. No one had actually seen this coming, as a matter of fact, Bill and Charlie had both bet that Hermione wasn't going to give birth for another three days. Hermione looked up at all of them, trying to remain calm. She trained her eyes on Ron. The father of her child was hovering in the air, staring down at her with wide eyes and looking like he was about to pass out. Bill and Charlie seemed to notice this, too, because they both flew over to Ron and gripped his arms as they helped him to the ground. As soon as he got there, he stood, quite limp, just staring at his wife. And all of a sudden he started going crazy.
“What do we do? What do we do? What do we do... Oh god! Oh god, oh god, oh god! Oh my GOD!”
Harry started chuckling, and Ginny immediately smacked him arm to get him to shut up and landed next to Ron.
“C'mon, it'll be fine.” she said. “But we can't just stand here! We have to do something!”
And then everyone sprung into action. Some Weasleys pushed Hermione into her chair. Some people pulled her out of it. Everyone was arguing over what to do with her, and all Hermione could do was ignore the pain she was feeling in her stomach and sit there, helplessly searching the crowd for her husband, who seemed to have vanished. There was a lot of yelling, and after a few minutes they decided. Several comforting and encouraging hands touched Hermione, but all she wanted was Ron. Since none of the hands were his, she didn't care that much.
“Ron?” Hermione said loudly. “Where's Ron?”
“He's- er- looking ill. Mum brought him inside.” Ginny said in a worried voice. A knot started to form in Hermione's stomach, and she tried to breathe slowly to force herself to remain calm. Good god. This was really happening.
“Bring him here,” Hermione said as firmly as she could manage. “Let me talk to him.”
Ginny hesitated, but Hermione raised her eyebrows and said,
She nodded, vanished, and then came back pulling a wide eyed Ron. Ginny forced him to sit in a kneeling position at Hermione's feet, and then motioned for everyone to back off.
“Er- I'm not sure we have time for this,” Bill pointed out, but Ginny shushed him.
“Don't worry, we have plenty of time. It could be hours until she actually goes into labor.” Angelina said.
“Still, it might be prudent to get Hermione to the hospital in a timely manor, given the fact that-”
“Shut up, Percy,” Audrey barked. “Your brother is about to be sick all over his wife, and all you can think of is being on time?”
Percy, looking quite shocked at being reprimanded this way by his own wife, clamped his mouth shut immediately.
“Honey, are you alright?” Hermione asked quietly. Ron's blue eyes were trained on her face, not flicking anywhere else, just staring into her brown eyes. He looked like he was about to pass out, and Hermione bit her lip, feeling awful about this. “Ron, come on. It'll be fine. I'll be fine. Just be calm.”
This, she knew, was asking too much. How Ron could ever be calm in this situation was beyond her, especially when he hadn't mastered calming himself down in all the years she had known him. How many times had they been caught in a situation where it was life or death and Ron hadn't been able to calm himself? How could she had fooled herself into thinking he'd be different with this? She leaned down and kissed his forehead, then took his hand and said clearly,
“We need to go.”
He nodded, then immediately sprung up and bellowed, “LET'S GO!”
There was a general cheer from the Weasleys, and everyone started moving.
“WAIT!” Fleur yelled. “HOW ARE WE GETTING HERMIONE THERE?”
“We need a car,” George agreed. “And we don't...”
Suddenly, he started running towards his father's garage.
“GEORGE, NO!” Mr. Weasley yelled, sprinting after George. George threw open the door and there was general gasp, then silence for a good few minutes as they all trained their eyes to Mrs. Weasley.
“Arthur Weasley,” Mrs. Weasley said, suddenly coming behind him. “I do not believe this.”
“Er- really, Molly, I...”
But he didn't know what to say.
“How did you get that?” Harry asked, his mouth open. Because there it was. The old Ford Anglia, sitting there with its broken windows and scratched paint, just as it had been the last time Harry and Ron had seen it.
“I... well... I came back and got it after a few years. I missed it, you know?” Mr. Weasley said guiltily.
“Oh my god.” was all Ron could say.
“Well, everybody who's having a baby... in,” George said cheerfully.
“Audrey can drive, right? Because you're a muggleborn?” Charlie asked, turning to his sister-in-law.
“Yes,” Audrey said, looking dignified as she went to the front seat of the car. “Hermione, in back. Ron, you might want to sit with her. Molly, I'd like you to come with us just in case. And as for everyone else- meet you there.”
It was a long drive, and Hermione had already started having contractions once they had gotten there. By her third one, Ron's eyes were so wild she almost considered kicking him out of the car in order to give her and him some relief. But he was holding her hand, and he let her squeeze it when it hurt too much, so she couldn't do that. Wind was streaming in through the broken windows and making all their eyes water, but it didn't effect Audrey's quick and careful driving. Audrey and Mrs. Weasley helped her out of the car, and Bill and Charlie hurried out of the hospital window to support Ron, who was starting to hyperventilate. There was a long line for the welcome witch, and Ron, feeling panicky, tried to rush up to the front, past all the people with lesser problems who were waiting.
“Hey, get to the back of the line!” cried a wizard with antlers.
“MY WIFE IS HAVING AN EFFING BABY!” Ron shouted in return.
“Maternity ward!” yelled the welcome witch, standing up. “Get her there, just walk straight, it's straight ahead! I'll notify a Healer.”
Ron nodded, sprinted back to Hermione, and forced her into a wheel chair that a mediwizard was wheeling by.
“Hey!” the mediwizard and Hermione said at the same time.
“I can walk, Ron!”
“That's not yours to take, young man!”
“I'm twenty six,” Ron told the Healer, “And no you can not walk, now shut up!”
Ginny and Harry watched from the door to the maternity ward, not sure whether to look amused or not, but the looks vanished off of their faces as Hermione cried “OUCH!” and squeezed her eyes shut in pain. Ron wheeled her forward as fast as he could, and Mrs. Weasley and Audrey hurried after the couple, looking a little alarmed at the rate Ron was pushing his pregnant wife. Healer Jennings was waiting for them as they burst through the door, and she took Hermione's chair from Ron immediately and wheeled her into a room, slamming the door shut behind her. Ron made to follow, but backtracked at the sight of the closed door, and then collapsed onto a couch with his head between his hands. A few minutes later, all the Weasleys looked up as Healer Jennings came out of the room.
“She's at six centimeters.” her face registered surprise at Ron still being in the waiting room. “What are you doing out here? Shouldn't you be in there?”
Ron nodded and catapulted himself into the room.
“I'll- er- go get some ice chips,” Ginny said, and she left the waiting area, looking quite shaky. An hour later, Hermione had moved barely a centimeter forward, and everyone except Ron was panicking much less. He was pacing in the room Hermione was waiting in, treading the same area back and forth in much agitation. She watched him, her eyes following his face and never leaving it except when she felt pain. She couldn't believe she was this calm when she was about to give birth, and she knew it was driving Ron absolutely crazy to see her not going crazy. Then again, that was why they were good for each other. They really balanced each other out. Which was, of course, why Hermione was accepting of Ron for being so insane for this event. Right until the Healer came in, told Hermione she was at eight and a half centimeters, and then tried to leave the room.
“ARE YOU BARKING?” Ron bellowed, running after her. “ARE YOU BLOODY MAD? EIGHT AND A HALF AND YOU'RE LEAVING?”
“It could be quite some time-”
“WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? GET BACK IN THERE, YOU INSANE LITTLE-”
“RON!” Hermione screamed from the other room. “SHUT UP AND LAY OFF HER!”
“Oh, it sounds like she's in transition,” Luna said happily, walking through the waiting room door. “And, come to think of it, Ron might be, too. Hello, Hermione!” she added, poking her head into the open door of the room. “How are you? Rose sends her love! Oh, and I brought a gurdyroot for you for luck!”
“AUUURRGG!” Hermione yelled, and Healer Jennings took the opportunity to leave the room.
“Ron?” Harry said, walking over to Ron. “Can I talk to you mate?”
Ron nodded, and Harry gently pulled him over to the side. Then he slapped him across the face.
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR?” Ron yelled.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?” Harry shouted back. “HERMIONE IS IN THERE HAVING A BABY, AND YOU'RE FREAKING OUT! YOUR WIFE NEEDS YOU CALM FOR THIS, YOU ASSHOLE! HOW STUPID CAN ONE GUY BE? CALM THE HELL DOWN!”
Ron stared at him in shock. He'd never been spoken to that way by his best friend before.
“CALM DOWN, YOU BLOODY COWARD!” Harry yelled again, and then he shoved Ron back into Hermione's room and closed the door behind them. He sat back on the couch and picked up a book, pretending to be oblivious to the general amazement occurring around him.
“That... was... unbelievably sexy,” Ginny said finally. “Wow.”
In time, the Healer came into the room and told Hermione she was at ten centimeters. Several assistant Healers came into the room, ready to help Healer Jennings deliver the baby. The door swung shut once and for all, and all the Weasleys sat outside it, waiting until another being joined their ranks.
“This is going to be a boring few hours,” George complained. “Ang, can we-?”
“Yes, please, let's,” Angelina said, standing up and heading for a closet. But a sudden roar from Hermione's room made them turn around, and George grinned broadly.
“Yes!” he said, sliding back into his seat. “They forgot to sound proof the door! Oh, this is going to be good.”
So the next hour or so was spent in high entertainment listening to what was going on behind the door. Such as,
“I AM, YOU BLOODY MANIAC!”
“NO YOU'RE NOT! YOU'RE NOT PUSHING HARD ENOUGH!”
“I'M NOT? OH, I'D LIKE TO SEE YOU PUSH A BABY OUT OF YOUR-”
“I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!”
“I LOVE YOU TOO, HONEY!”
“NO, I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!”
“I FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY, SWEETHEART.”
“RONALD WEASLEY! YOU ARE NEVER... TOUCHING ME... AGAIN!”
“I LOOK FORWARD TO IT, MIONE! NOW PUSH!”
The entire Weasely family was wincing quite a lot, but everyone was surprised at how Harry was taking this, seeing as Hermione was one of his best friends.
“It was worse when she was being crucio'd,” he said, shrugging. “This is really nothing. Plus, the death threats to Ron are fascinating. I've never even heard of half those things.”
“Yes, well, she's been very into reading books about The Dark Ages lately,” a very pale Ginny supplied.
“One last push, Hermione, you can do it,” Ron said enthusiastically. “C'mon.”
Hermione, sweat drenched and with tears running down her face, looked up at him with big eyes. He looked at her, holding her gaze, practically challenging her to look away. He'd been the best coach possible throughout this whole thing, and Hermione couldn't help wondering if it was the class they had taken or just Ron. He'd been sweet and enthusiastic, and even when she'd threatened to murder him in his sleep, he hadn't shied away at all, which was probably more then she could say for herself if the roles were reversed.
“We're almost there, love. Just a little push, and it'll all be over.”
Hermione looked down at his hand, stretched out so that he could reach hers. She nodded, closed her eyes again, and pushed.
“Almost there... almost...” Healer Jennings muttered. “And... we have a baby!”
Ron cheered, and Hermione's head fell back onto the pillow. She was too exhausted to bother holding it up anymore.
“Holy merlin, it's tiny,” Ron said in awe, and he heard a tiny laugh over in the direction of Hermione.
“Would you like to cut the umbilical chord?” Healer Jennings asked, and Ron nodded excitedly and took the pair of scissors she offered him before chopping the chord. The baby was whisked away, and Ron sighed and walked over to Hermione to lay another cold washcloth on her head, his hand still clasped tightly in hers. They smiled tiredly at each other, but didn't say anything. That was when Ron remembered. He glanced in the directions of the Healers, trying to see the baby, but they were blocking it.
“What gender is it, by the way?” he asked.
Healer Jennings looked up, surprised.
“Oh, I didn't tell you?”
She grinned and picked up a pink hat between her thumb and forefinger.
“It's a girl.”
Ron let out a whoop and threw open the door of the room, bursting out into the waiting area where his family was.
“I'M A DAD! I'M A DAD! IT'S A GIRL! I'M A DAD!”
Mrs. Weasley burst into tears and sprung up to hug her youngest son, Mr. Weasley following. Harry started to get up, but was hindered when Ginny, not wanting her brothers to see her crying, hid her face in his shoulder. He gave Ron a thumbs up, instead, which, from the look on Ron's face, was just as good.
“Congratulations!” every one of his brothers said, coming up to clap him on the back, and Harry wondered if he'd ever seen Ron so happy in his life. Once everyone had said something to him, Ron backed out of his mother's arms and walked back into Hermione's room. What he saw nearly took his breath away. She was sitting up in the bed, the sweat wiped off of her face, and her hair had evidentially been dried and brushed out by an assistant Healer. It was looking extremely bushy. And she was holding their baby, wrapped up in a little pink blanket, sleeping soundly in her arms. Hermione's eyes were on their baby girl when Ron walked in, and her finger was gently tracing her soft cheek. He closed the door to their family and locked it, because he knew his mum was going to try to get in, and he wanted some time with Hermione first. He drew up a chair beside her, took her hand and pressed his lips to it, then held it in both of his.
“How are you?” he asked quietly.
“Tired,” she told him honestly. For a few moments, they just looked at each other. Hermione and Ron. Husband and wife. Mummy and daddy.
“I'm so proud of you,” Ron said in a croaky voice. “You were amazing. You are amazing.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said, her eyes welling up. “You too.”
It was one of those moments where they both couldn't believe how much they loved each other, couldn't believe how much they felt for the other, and couldn't believe their luck that the other one felt the same way.
“I love you so much, Hermione. I love you so, so much.”
She laughed shakily and kissed the top of his head.
“So what do you want to name her?” Hermione asked.
“Not sure. I haven't really thought about it since the last time. Do you have any new ideas?”
Hermione hesitated. Then she said,
“I do, actually.” She swallowed hard, nervous. “Well, there's one person, I think, who really played a huge part in getting us back together after we broke up. And without her, I don't think we would be here today. And that person is Rose.”
“Rose?” Ron repeated, thinking he knew where this was going.
“Yes,” Hermione said earnestly. “Rose was the person who finalized and laminated my choice to get back together with you. She was the only one who's judgment I trusted enough, because she wasn't bias like Ginny, and she doesn't think like my mum. Without her, I wouldn't have kissed you that night at Hogwarts, during the Final Battle Reunion. Plus, she was the one who thought of the church my parents got married in to have our wedding. She made my wedding the best wedding that I ever could have had, and we owe her so much, and I did make her a bridesmaid, but I was thinking... why don't we name our little girl after her? Rose? Rose Nancy Weasley.”
“After the doll, or your mum?” Ron asked slowly.
“Maybe both,” Hermione said, smiling mischievously at him. He leaned down and kissed her, careful not to jostle their baby.
“I love it. It's perfect. And the name Rose is great. Plus, it starts with the same letter as mine does.”
“Only you,” Hermione said, endearingly rolling her eyes. “Do you... do you want to hold her?”
“Yeah, sure.” Ron said, trying to seem calmer then he was. Hermione hesitated, seemingly about to remind him to hold up Rose's head, but then thought better of it and just handed him their baby. Just then, Mrs. Weasley finally got into the room, and she ran at him and the baby. All the Weasleys filed excitedly in, surrounding Ron and Hermione and chattering happily. They inquired after how Hermione was feeling, how Ron was feeling, and what the baby's name was.
“Rose,” Ron said, puffing his chest out proudly. “Rose Nancy Weasley.”
“Do they usually sleep this much?” Ron asked in a hushed voice. Hermione immediately looked over him, about to reprimand him for talking during this peaceful moment. She saw that he was grinning at her, and she cracked a smile, too.
“I think so,” Hermione laughed, and they both turned towards Rose, sleeping away in her crib. “Although I also hear they cry a lot. And I'm told that sleeping is preferable.”
Hermione and Rose had arrived home about three hours ago, both exhausted. Rose had gone right to sleep, no problems there. But Hermione hadn't been able to. The fact that she had a baby- that she was someone's mother- felt so surreal. She couldn't get enough of looking at Rose and trying to see either her or Ron in her. Was it even possible to tell this early on? Hermione thought so, especially because of the small smattering of ginger hair on top of Rose's head. And her little girl had Hermione's brown eyes, too. Hermione had always wanted a red headed child, or, at least, that was how she'd envisioned her and Ron's children being. So this came as a huge relief. Sighing contently to herself, Hermione turned back to the wall, where she was hanging up pictures. There was one of Rose with Aunt Harry and Uncle Ginny, one of Rose with her Weasley grandparents, one of Rose with all her Uncles, and one of Rose with her parents.
“Speaking of pictures,” Hermione added. “Rose The First and my parents will be coming over tomorrow, so we'll have two more for the wall.”
“I was thinking,” Ron said, tearing his eyes away from his daughter for a few moments to look at his wife. “What if we put some pictures of us as young kids in here? You know, throughout all the stages of our life.”
“Er- why?” Hermione asked. “I don't see the need to-”
Almost immediately, Rose started crying. Ron turned to Hermione and raised an eyebrow.
“It wasn't me! I was whispering,” Hermione said, scurrying over to the crib and picking up her little girl. She rocked the baby back and forth, making little shushing noises, but Rose didn't stop crying.
“Check her diaper,” Ron suggested.
“Nothing,” Hermione told him.
“Maybe she's hungry.”
Hermione, who had just gotten Rose to start breastfeeding, proceeded to feed her. Ron didn't know whether or not he should look away, but he felt that, as the father of the baby and husband of Hermione, it wasn't violating any form of privacy. Besides, he reckoned that in a few months he would be used to it.
“This is why.” Ron said when Rose was done feeding and still hadn't quieted.“We're going to be sitting up here, all bored, and trying to quiet our child, and in a bad temper. We'll be sitting in the rocking chair, unsure of what to do with ourselves, and contemplating throwing Rose out the window.”
“No, let me finish. So, that is why I made... this.”
He waved his wand and a large frame appeared right in front of Hermione. Her eyes widened.
“Look,” Ron said proudly. “Here's you and me in first year. You know how mum would always insist on taking pictures of everyone together after every year finished? Well, there's one for each of the six years we went to school. Oh, and us dancing at our wedding! I think this was taken when you were telling me what flavor the wedding cake was... and then here's one of us together after the battle.”
“Wow,” Hermione said, raising an eyebrow. “We really couldn't keep our hands off of each other.”
“We can take that one off once Rose is old enough,” Ron suggested. Hermione smacked his arm.
“Honestly, Ron, we're only holding hands. And snogging.”
“Well, thank you so much for making this. It's amazing,” Hermione said, smiling at him. She inched her head forward and tried to kiss him with the baby between them, but was so nervous about crushing her Hermione pulled back almost immediately, practically blushing red.
“It's okay, we'll practice,” Ron told her, smirking a little bit. She sighed and went to put Rose back in her crib, then headed over to the picture frame. They stood there, studying it for a while. Then Ron said,
“God, I hope she doesn't have your teeth.”
Hermione turned towards him and put her arms around his neck.
“Oh, you romantic, you.”
He laughed and kissed her, and they stood there for a long time, just kissing and talking until the two of them were two tired to do anything else but go to sleep. So they headed into their bedroom and curled up in the position that they'd slept in before Hermione's baby bump had arrived.
“I missed this,” Ron whispered into her hair. Hermione nodded tiredly.
“Me too,” she agreed. Then she said, “By the way, I got myself a membership at the gym. I don't want the extra baby fat.”
“It's not a big deal, Hermione, I really don't care.”
“Oh, no, honey. It's not for you. It's just, all my work clothes will be fitting a bit awkwardly if I keep the extra fat, and the idea of going shopping with Ginny again is absolutely horrifying.”
Ron sighed and shook his head.
“I don't know whether to be offended or amused. I'd let you go and give you the silent treatment, but...”
“But what?” Hermione asked teasingly. “I think I know. It feels too good to have me back in your arms again.”
“No, they've just temporarily stopped working.” Ron said stubbornly, and Hermione laughed. Suddenly, a wail came from Rose's bedroom.
“Oh, so, since your arms have stopped working, that means you have to get up with me, because you can't let me go.”
Ron sighed, contemplating this for a few minutes. Then he said,
“Only because you just gave birth, I will get up and attend to the baby. Unless she's hungry, and then I'll need you.”
“Check the diaper, first, then. I don't want to have to get up.” Hermione said sleepily. Ron nodded, kissed her hair, and got out of bed. He went to Rose's room, and sure enough, the little girl was wailing.
“Shhhh, shhh!” Ron said softly, lifting her up. “Be quiet, mummy's trying to sleep.”
Good merlin. Hermione was mummy. When the hell did this happen?
“And daddy's the poor sucker that got roped into having to calm you down,” Ron added as Rose continued to scream in that adorable way of hers. “Honestly, I wonder how much longer mum is going to be playing the 'I gave birth card'. Probably forever. But that'll be okay, I guess, because I love mummy, don't I, Rosie? And if she does that I can play the, 'You broke up with me and practically made me want to die' card. No, really, if that worked it'd be bloody brilliant.”
Rose had stopped crying. Ron's eyes opened wide in surprise, and he quickly pumped his fist into the air. She was staring up at him with Hermione's eyes, and he almost felt, as he looked at them, and only them, that he was holding a miniature version of his wife. He tried to lower her into the crib, then, but Rose immediately started crying. He lifted her back out. Silence. Lower, sobs. Lift, silence.
“Oh, I see how it is,” Ron sighed, putting Rose into a more secure position in his arms. “Right, then. Let's try to make this painless, shall we?”
He started walking in a circle around the room, just looking at her, and she looked at him, her attention straying no where else.
“You're just like your mum, you are,” Ron said to Rose. “I don't think you got this type of attention span from anyone on my side. And you seem to have inherited your ability to go for long periods of time without blinking from Luna, haven't you? Although that doesn't really add up... she's one of the few people I know who isn't related to either me or Hermione. Then again, maybe it just feels like that because my family's so big. Maybe I do know a bunch of people who I'm not related to by blood or law, but the fact that I have so many people who are makes that number pale in comparison. I mean, bloody hell, even my childhood best friend is my brother! It's ridiculous, isn't it, Rose?”
Rose blinked at him.
“Finally, she blinks,” Ron said. “Wow- I guess I have to train myself to stop swearing around you, don't I? I mean, it's okay around Hermione, she's gotten used to it... mind you, it was the price of marriage. It was me and my mouth or none of me at all. Besides, I think she's desensitized herself to it by now. And it's not like she doesn't have any flaws that I have to deal with. But I suppose the point it we can deal with each other's flaws, and we still love each other, and that's what matters, right, Rosie?”
He ran a finger along her cheek, and she gave him a coo.
“Mummy and I have sometimes talked about who you were going to marry. What do you think? I hope your love story will be easier then ours. I have my money on Oliver Wood's son, by the way. He's just a year older then you and a lovely baby. He has a pair of pajamas with broomsticks on them. Go with him, Rose. Of course, mummy wants you to marry the son of some Ravenclaw, but I don't know about that. Ravenclaws seem awfully stuffy, don't they, Rose? I tell you what. We'll decide your story right here, right now, just you and me. And you have to stick with it, okay? Because I don't want you to ever, ever have a broken heart, or a broken leg, or have any reason at all to cry. And you're not going to have to face dangerous things like me and mum did. And you're not going to have bad dreams, either. All of your dreams are going to be excellent, got it? Just so long as you remember to stick to the plan.”
He took her little hand in his big one and shook it quickly.
“There. You've made the deal, now here's the plan. You're going to have hair like Ginny's, somehow, and you're going to have your mother's eyes. You're going to not mind my swearing, but you won't swear. And you're going to have your mum's little buckteeth until you're old enough to date, and that's twenty. So when you're twenty mum will shrink your teeth. And before that, you won't even look at boys. You'll concentrate on your Quidditch skills 24/7, okay? No, well, actually, I take that back. I know this is our plan, Rose, but if mum found out about it and there was nothing about studies she'd kill me. So you're going to concentrate on Quidditch skills and getting all 'O's on your O.W.Ls and N.E.W.Ts. And, let's see... people will call you the brightest witch of your age, like they did mum. So, when you're twenty, after mum shrinks your teeth-”
Rose let out a sudden cry.
“What? What! I'll have you know that I thought those chipmunk teeth were adorable! I love chipmunks. And squirrels. But I didn't look at mum as a girl I'd want to date until the teeth were gone... therefor, I am convinced that your teeth will remain like that until you're twenty. And then some guy will notice you and want to marry you. He'll be a part time Healer for mum and a part time professional Quidditch player for me. So that way, your husband will be smart and rich. How does that sound, Rosie? Now, you're going to not do what mum and I did and wait to sleep with this man until your honeymoon, okay? We deeply regret not waiting.”
“No, we don't,” Hermione said, walking into the room with raised eyebrows. She kissed Rose's forehead before looking at Ron expectantly. “Do you?”
Ron looked scandalized.
“How much of that did you hear?”
“I came in around the time you started wondering whether or not your social circle was limited to those related to you, and I've been in the door frame ever since.” Hermione said coolly, but a small smile was threatening to come in around her mouth. “I like the plan, by the way. It's perfect. Unachievable, but perfect.”
“Who knows?” Ron said, looking lovingly at their daughter. “She might be superwoman. You may have just given birth to superwoman!”
“Oh?” Hermione asked lightly. “Should we alert the media now, or wait until the suit comes in?”
“Wait for the suit, definitely.”
“Seriously, though, you regret sleeping together before marriage?”
Ron made a shushing noise at Hermione, then placed Rose carefully in the crib. He covered her little ears with his hands before he turned back to Hermione to answer her.
“No, of course not, I have no reason to, but she doesn't need to know that!”
Hermione laughed until she was wheezing, leaning against Ron for support.
“Ronald- Weasley- you are- completely- ridiculous!” she chortled.
Ron looked highly affronted.
“Well, that's just the way-”
But he couldn't finish his sentence, because Hermione had kissed him. She stood on her toes so that she could reach him and pressed her mouth firmly to his, and it was such an intense kiss they could both feel their hearts beating just a little bit faster when they finally had to pull away for air. Hermione turned around and leaned against Ron, facing their baby, her hand wound around his neck and playing with the hair on the back of his head. Instead of concentrating on their daughter, for the first time in a while, Ron closed his eyes and concentrated on the way Hermione's hand felt in his hair, the way her back felt as she breathed against him. The past six months, they hadn't really had time to just be with each other like this. They'd spend a lot of time together, yes. Practically too much time. But every time they had snogged, each had their mind on the baby, somewhere in the back. And now that she was here, and they were both tired, and they weren't worried about Hermione giving birth or having the nursery ready on time, snogging immediately became more fun.
“It's hard to believe that this innocent little creature is someday going to be just like us,” Hermione whispered.
“What do you mean?” Ron asked, a little disappointed that the moment had passed, but game for conversation, anyways.
“I mean, one day she will start swearing, and she will fall in love, and she'll find out about the battle and the game show-”
“Er- let's not tell our children about the game show.”
“Please. Unless we figure out some way to erase Ginny's memory or frighten her into keeping her mouth shut, she'll blab. You know her, she credits herself for getting us back together, when it was really mostly our feelings combined with Rose's advice.”
“It was bound to happen sometime, game show or not,” Ron agreed.
“What do you think she'll say when she finds out her mum and dad were on The Perfect Match?”
“Dunno. We don't really know her, do we?”
“We know her better then anyone else does, but that's not much.”
“I'm excited to get to know her,” Hermione said, turning around to look at Ron with sparkling eyes. “I think even more then seeing how she looks. I mean, who will she be more like? Will she take after one of us more then the other, or will she be a perfect balance? What exactly is a perfect balance?”
“I don't know.” Ron said again. Hermione took a deep breath and wrapped her arms around Ron's neck. He rubbed her back, and she buried her face in his shirt and they just stood there, rocking left and right at a slow, smooth rhythm.
“Let's have more of these,” came Hermione's muffled voice.
“Babies?” Ron asked. Hermione nodded. “Okay.” Ron agreed.
“I mean it,” Hermione said, looking up at him. “I want four or five! And I want dogs, and cats, and owls, and I want this house to become another version of The Burrow. I want horses, and chickens, and I want to use the lake outside every day during the summertime. I want to quit my job and learn how to knit better, and sew better, and bake better. I want this house to be completely full of crazy children running around with toy broomsticks and reading books on the swing set out back. I want them to all come into one room at night so that we can read them bedtime stories, and I want them all to all have separate rooms that we'll have to go to, one by one, to tuck them each in.”
Ron didn't know why, but they were both getting a little choked up at this.
“Okay,” he said again. “I want that, too.”
“Good,” Hermione said, and then she kissed him again as if that might seal the deal for both of them.
A/N: Well that was it! My little epilogue. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you enjoyed the ride that was the World According to series. Stay tuned for more of War of the Exes and then Sleepless! Thank you for everything. ~writergirl8