Chapter 6 : Around A Cradle
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When Molly saw the owl flying towards the kitchen window, her mother instinct told her it had to do with one of her children. Then, somehow, she knew that Hermione was having the baby. Her cup of tea fell from her suddenly nerveless fingers and crashed to the floor. She waved her wand absentmindedly at it, saying: "Reparo!" while she was opening the window for the bird with her left hand. It landed on the table and extended a leg so she could take the note tied to it. Her hands trembling, Molly read it and called: "Arthur!"
She put out the fire under the cooking pot and ran to his little study. Arthur was trying to put back together the Muggle toaster he brought home the night before. "Yes, Molly dear?" he said. Seeing her flushed face, he stood up, slightly alarmed.
"The baby!" she squealed. She had tears in her eyes, but she was smiling.
Her husband paled. "Again?"
She clicked her tongue impatiently and smacked his arm. Men could be so dense
"No, not me, of course not! Ron and Hermione’s baby!"
Arthur audibly gulped. "Now?" He had thought it would be easier to become a grandfather than a father… it was not.
"Yes! Hurry up or it will be born before we can get to Hogwarts!"
They apparated before the school gates and walked briskly towards the castle. Molly knew Charlie was waiting for them – in his haste, the poor boy forgot to write down his name at the end of his message, but she had recognized his handwriting. She smiled. She didn’t know what happened that day in the hospital, but he was intent on taking care of Hermione and of the baby – and some unknown force seemed to make sure that he was always there when the young woman help.
Molly and Arthur entered the Hall and headed towards the Hospital Wing. But Charlie was nowhere to be seen. Could he…? Molly smiled again. She had never been so proud of her son.
Madam Pomfrey had taken Hermione to one of the two small rooms off the main one for more privacy. Charlie had followed suit, holding the young woman’s hand. She had drunk the potions the matron gave her, and now she was doing everything she told her to do. The young man could see the shadows under her eyes darken with every contraction of her abdomen, but she hardly let a groan or a cry escape her lips. He didn’t know how she could be so brave and so courageous – he’d never been so scared in all his life and he’d spent years taking care of the most dangerous creatures in the Wizarding World! And yet… he was witnessing the miracle of life. Soon, he would have a nephew or a niece. Soon, a new life would take a breath for the first time. A new life, so many promisses…
"I can see the head… now push, Hermione!" Madam Pomfrey said.
The young woman obeyed, groaning and panting.
"Good," the matron cooed. "You will be done soon."
Charlie wondered it it was just a way to reassure Hermione, but he found out a few minutes later that it wasn’t. The newborn started to wail as Hermione was falling back down on her pillows. Tears were running down her cheeks now, but she smiled through them.
"It’s a beatiful baby girl," Madam Pomfrey announced.
"I want to see her," Hermione said in a small voice.
The matron was already putting her daughter down on her stomach.
Charlie swallowed hard. She was so… tiny. Everything about her was tiny. Her hands, her fingers, her feet, her ears… but she had a strong voice!
"She’s a Weasley alright," he chuckled.
"Now I have to ask you to wait outside, young man," Madam Pomfrey told him.
Charlie nodded and left after a last look above his shoulder to his baby niece and her courageous mother. The latter had her hair plastered to her head by sweat, her eyes were red and her cheeks blotchy. Yet she is beautiful, he told himself.
As he was coming back in the main room of the school infirmary, his mother’s voice cried out: "Charlie!"
He had forgotten about his mother and father. He approached them with a sheepish expression.
"Mum, I’m so sorry. I forgot…"
"I know," she interrupted, pinching his cheek – he really would like her to stop doing that. "So?"
"They are fine, mum. Hermione and the baby are fine," he assured her.
His mother gave him a bonecrushing hug. Then his father cleared his throat and asked: "Do I have a grandson or a granddaughter?"
Charlie laughed. "A granddaughter… and she already has the Weasleys’ voice – or should I say the Prewetts’?"
His mother gave him a mock glare. "Only if in addition to that, she’s a big baby."
"I doubt it. She’s so… tiny."
Hermione was dozing when Madam Pomfrey came back with her daughter. She awoke with a start and took the baby in her arms. She was clean now, and asleep, exhausted by her first big adventure. The young woman smiled tenderly at her daughter, marvelling at how beautiful she was. Her head was covered in fine short titian hair.
"Yes, you’re a true Weasley, Charlie was right," Hermione whispered, kissing her softly, her lips brushing her brow. She was flooded by a love she never knew existed.
"Welcome to the world, Damia."
It was a wonderful world, but tough too, and her daughter needed a strong name.
There was a knock at the door, and at first, she was annoyed. She wanted to stay alone with her baby. Then, hoping it was Charlie – she really needed to thank him for staying with her through it all –, she called: "Come on in!"
The door half-opened and Molly’s head appear. "If you’re not too tired…"
"Come in," Hermione repeated with a warm smile. She was happy to see them. And so proud to introduce them to their granddaughter.
Molly, Arthur and Charlie walked in. The latter closed the door behind them. His mother had already reached the bed when he turned towards the room again.
"How are you, honey?" Mrs Weasley inquired sollicitously, cupping Hermione’s cheek. But it was obvious her eyes wanted to stray towards the new born at her side.
"I’m fine." The young woman picked up the baby. "Do you want to hold her, Mrs Weasley?"
"Ah, Hermione, I think it’s time to call me Molly, don’t you think?" Molly told her, taking her first grand-daughter in her arms, her eyes filling with tears of joy. "Oh, Arthur, look at her! She’s so beautiful!" she cooed. "Look at her perfect tiny hands!"
"Yes, she is perfect," Arthur nodded, blinking hard.
Hermione knew most people underestimated Arthur Wesley because he was ever so calm by comparison to his ebullient wife. They thought he was weak. But if you threatened his family or his friends in any way, you had better be prepared for a fight. She knew Ron would have been that kind of man – gently strong, loyal, a man a woman could count on any time. Even if it was just to make her smile.
The only difference was that Ron had been obsessed with Quidditch, and his father was with everything belonging to the muggle world.
"I’m not sure they’ll give her back to you, you know," Charlie joked.
Hermione chuckled, then sobered. "Thank you."
"No," he shook his head. "Thank you."
They looked at one another, and some kind of understanding passed between them.
Harry and Ginny came to see Hermione and her daughter after dinner – Madam Pomfrey refused to let them in ealier.
"Another red-haired Weasley," Harry observed, feigning to ignore his girlfriend’s glare. She had heard the ‘a redhead, you must be another Weasley’ too many times.
"Well, Harry James Potter, since your own mother was a redhead, and I’m a redhead, our children will probably be redheads," Ginny stated. Then she realized how it sounded, and she blushed.
Harry guffawed. "I guess you’re right. But then people will say: ‘A redhead, you must be a Potter!’"
Hermione’s parents came the next day – once again, Charlie took them to their daughter’s bedside. But this time, it was for a far more happy occasion.
But not a peaceful one, for the afternoon turned into a grandmothers’ ‘war’.
"Oh, look," Mrs Granger cried. "She has Hermione’s ears!"
Molly looked at Damia and finally said: "Maybe, but she has Ronald’s mouth."
And they kept on and on during the next two hours. After half an hour, Hermione could have screamed, but she kept quiet and tried to ignore them. They both loved Damia, and if they had to do that to prove it, well, there was nothing she could do to stop them, short of kicking them out.
But when the grandparents were all gone and Charlie arrived, Hermione was fuming.
"Hey," he said, sticking his head inside. "Can I come in?"
"Yeah, if you can swear to me you won’t tell my daughter that she has your brother’s nose and my eyebrows!"
"Ah," Charlie smiled, understanding. "They were that bad?"
She shrugged. "Worse!"
"Well, you will never hear me say that Damia has little Ronnikin’s nose… because I really hope she doesn’t!"
They laughed, then he handed Hermione a parcel. Inside, there was a teddy bear.
"It’s exactly like the one Ron had when he was a baby."
Hermione smiled. Then she leaned over and hugged him with tears in her eyes
"Thank you! I’m sure she’ll love it… At least if I can keep the twins away from it."
"Ah, you heard about the stuffed bear turned into a spider."
"More than once!" She rolled her eyes.
At that very moment, Damia started crying, and Charlie immediately looked in the cradle to see if anything was wrong.
"You haven’t taken her in your arms yet," Hermione observed.
"She’s so... small." He was dying to take the baby in his arms, but he was afraid too. However, feeling Hermione’s gaze on him, he did.
The next day, Harry and Ginny brought her a photo album, so she could start it with the photo Colin took of her and the baby the day before. Then she was very surprised to see Luna enter her room, Neville on her heels.
"Neville!" Hermione squealed, happy to see her old friend. She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek, making him blush.
Luna went straight to the craddle and her eyes went huge. "Why haven’t you protected your daughter, Hermione?" she asked, her tone almost accusatory. Her carrot earrings were dangling disapprovingly.
"Um, I don’t…" Hermione was at a loss for word. She knew Luna was a bit deluded and very serious about her delusions.
"She could have been snatched by the Banthee!"
Hermione gave a questioning look to Neville, who shrugged.
"Uh, right… Remind me what are the Banthee again?"
Luna rolled her eyes. "And I’ve heard people said you should be in Ravenclaw. It was in my father’s magazine two month ago. They are spirits like sickly yellow clouds that take your baby and leave a changeling in its place. It is rumored that Scrimgeour is one of them."
"A Banthee?" Neville asked, feigning to be interested in the conversation.
"No, one of the babies who have been changed!"
Hermione hid a smile. Luna would always be Luna. "And how do you protect your child?"
"With… this!" Luna produced a sprig of heather. Then, smiling dreamily, she made it stick to the baby’s craddle with a charm.
Hermione was relieved. The protection wasn’t that bad. Knowing the kind of things you could read in the Quibbler, she feared the worst. At least, she wouldn’t have to bath her daughter in some foul potion to make Luna happy. Then she noticed something and looked at her friends. Luna had taken Neville’s hand.
Luna nodded, and Neville looked uncomfortable. "We didn’t want… Ron…" he gulped.
Hermione burst into tears. It hurt, yes, but still, people had any right to be happy. And she told them so. "I’m so glad you two got together." The clumsy boy and the gullible girl. But they were so cute.
After the battle, the surviving members of Dumbledore’s Army had been taken to St Mungo’s – for minor injuries, in most cases. Then they had all gone their separate ways. They needed time for their mental wounds to heal. Except those of them who had found each other during the crisis, like Fred and Angelina, who had started to date seriously a month before Christmas, after the girl came to their shop to buy gifts for her little cousins, Lavender and Seamus, who got married at the beginning of the year… and Neville and Luna.
When her friends left her, Hermione reflected on her own life. In a couple of days, it would change drastically.
When Charlie entered the Hospital Wing that night, after work, he found Hermione alone. Her eyes were puffy and her cheeks still red. She had been crying. Of course, he knew women could be depressed after giving birth, but he suspected it was something else.
"What’s wrong, Hermione?"
"I’ve been thinking about how much I’m going to miss Hogwarts," she said.
Ah, yes, she couldn’t stay at Hogwarts now that the baby was born. A dormitory was no place for a new born child.
"Uh, what have you decided to do?" Charlie inquired.
"Not much of a decision," she sighed. "I’ll live with my parents, and Ginny and Harry will send me copies of their notes by owl post."
"Your parents will probably be happy to have you at home again," he observed cautiously.
"They are never home that much. I think that’s what scares me the most… being alone all day long. Well, not really alone, because I’ll have Damia, but…"
"I know what you mean." He thought again about that crazy idea of his, then blurted out: "You could live with me!"
"What?" Hermione sounded incredulous.
"I have a spare room, and it’s not so far from the castle. You could go to school everyday. I’m sure you could find some arrangement with Headmistress McGonagall for Damia during the day, here, at Hogwarts."
"That’s the best idea I’ve ever heard!" Ginny exclaimed from the doorway. "Oh, please, say you will, Hermione!"
Hermione smiled. "Are you sure, Charlie?"
Of course he was sure. He’d been thinking about that for months. "Yes."
In the morning, when Headmistress McGonagall came to see her, as she did every morning, Hermione told her about Charlie’s offer.
"I guess Damia could spend the day here, in the infirmary. Poppy would take care of her with the help of a house-elf," the Headmistress mused.
"Oh, that would be wonderful!"
McGonagall watched the girl during a minute, then said: "I’m glad you found a better way to finish studying for your N.E.W.T.s. It would have been a shame if our best student had failed."
"Thank you, Professor," Hermione told her. She new that behind that strict façade of hers, McGonagall was always concerned for her charges. Her heart was truly in the right place.
The next day, Hermione and Damia moved in with Charlie, and a new life began for all of them.
A/N: I just couldn't make it a boy. I mean, can you imagine being called Ronarld Percy??? LOL. Then, I hesitated during a long time, because I wanted to find a strong name. I thought of Aeron, the Welsh Goddess of War. But then it would have been a nit too much. So I looked at Greek names, since Hermione is a Greek name, and it reminded me Damia was one of them... and the name of the Goddess of the Forces of Nature. haha. With a name like that one, and red hair... oh, well.
I hope you liked this new chapter. Again, sorry for the delay. Please, leave me a review - I love reading what you thought of my fic.
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