Chapter 16 : Chapter 16: Understandings
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“And give her this purple potion one hour after she eats,” a lady at the front desk was saying as she banished a large corked purple beaker in front of Hermione’s face, “do you understand?” Hermione fought back the urge to curse the annoying lady in front of her. This lady been talking to her as if Hermione couldn’t tell the difference between a wall and a dragon.
“Yes, I think I do understand,” Hermione said in the calmest voice she could. She quickly scooped up three large bottles that contained the medicine Erin was supposed to take at various times of the day and shoved them into her rucksack next to a dirty set of robes, “Ready?” she called to Ron and Erin.
“Yeah!” they called back.
Walking over to the community fireplace, Hermione felt a huge burden lifted off her shoulders knowing that they were leaving. They were leaving, Erin was healthy, her baby boy was healthy, she and Ron were healthy, and Hermione was pretty damn sure that she the happiest person in the world.
Hermione stepped out of the fire after Ron and Erin and into her dark sitting room in time to hear Erin ask, “Daddy, why is it so dark?”
“WELCOME HOME, ERIN!” echoed through the room and the lights flashed on. Hermione looked for the source of the noise and saw Ginny, Harry, and Jami standing opposite them under the doorway to the kitchen.
“Jami!” Erin yelled and wiggled in Ron’s arms.
Ron set Erin down on the floor and looked at his sister and brother-in-law in shock, “Wha—you --- thanks, guys!” he stammered.
If she was the happiest person a few moments ago, right now, she was the happiest living thing on the planet, “Harry, Gin! Thanks so much. This is…” her voice faded as she looked around the room. On the doorframe that led to the kitchen was a huge orange banner with pink writing flashing ‘WELCOME HOME, ERIN’. There were pink and green streamers hanging from the ceiling that rained glittery confetti every few seconds.
Across the room, Erin released the tight hug she had been giving Jami and pulled on Harry’s and Ginny’s shirts. Once she got their attention, Erin said, “Thank you… er…” then she trailed off and Hermione realized that Erin had never called Harry of Ginny anything.
Ginny seemed to have picked up on this, too, “Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry?” she offered.
Erin smiled and looked up at them, “Thanks Aunt Ginny and Uncle Harry,” she said happily.
Harry beamed at her and squatted down so he was eye level with Erin, “You’re very welcome,” he told her. Erin smiled even wider, swayed for a second on her heels, then stepped forward and threw her arms around Harry’s neck. Harry took her tight in his arms and rocked her. Hermione thought she was going to burst with joy.
“My Daddy!” Jami cried indignantly and toddled over to Harry as fast as she could.
Erin stepped back from Harry so that Jami could walk up to him, “I know.” Erin then hugged Ginny. Ron and Hermione dumped their rucksacks on the couch as they made their way over to the doorway to thank and hug their relatives when Hermione stopped and sniffed, “Did you cook dinner for us?” she asked Ginny.
“Yes, nothing big, just steak and kidney pie,” Ginny grinned.
“Oh, Gin!” Hermione embraced her sister-in-law, “Thank you so much. For everything.”
“You welcome,” Ginny whispered. When they ended the hug, Hermione had to wipe tears from her eyes. At least now I can blame it on pregnancy hormones! Hermione thought, Wait, pregnancy, BOY!
“Merlin, I almost forgot,” Hermione gasped and looked at Ron.
“What?” Ron asked.
Hermione rolled her eyes, “The news. That we found out yesterday!”
“I think they know that Erin came home today, ‘Mione,” Ron sighed.
“No, Daddy!” Erin cried running to Hermione’s rucksack and pulling out a black and white picture, “Mummy’s having me a brother!” she said waving the picture around.
Ron’s comment of “Oh, that news!” was lost in Ginny’s squeal and Harry’s “Congratulations!”
“A boy! That’s great, Hermione!” Ginny rushed forward and squeeze Hermione into a hug again, and accept the picture from Erin as Harry thumped Ron’s back in a brotherly manner.
“He’s beautiful!” Ginny smiled.
“Isn’t he?” Hermione grinned back.
“Eat!” Jami exclaimed rubbing her belly.
“I agree, Jami, let’s go eat,” Ron said and swung the small red-head into his arms.
“Yeah,” Ginny started, “you all go sit in the dining room and I’ll go get dinner.”
“I’ll help,” Hermione told her. Ginny opened her mouth to tell Hermione ‘no’ but the look she received from Hermione made her shut it again.
“Can I have my brother back?” Hermione heard Erin ask Jami as she and Ginny walked into the kitchen.
Three helpings of pie and an hour later, Hermione sat in her dining room pretty stuffed. Ron and Harry were still in a heated discussion about something that called for many hand motions and stabs with forks full of vegetables.
“All gone,” said Jami after she swallowed her last bite, “Go play!” Jami looked at Erin, who was sitting next to her.
“Mummy, can we go play?” Erin looked over at Hermione.
Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but Ginny cut over her, “Not unless you don’t want cake.”
“Cake!” Erin’s looked at Ginny, her blue eyes sparkling.
“Cake?” Hermione repeated, “Gin, you didn’t make a cake too did you?”
“Hey, when you’re throwing a ‘Welcome Home’ party, might as well go all out,” Ginny shrugged and with a wave of her wand, the dirty dinner plates in front of them cleaned themselves, “I’ll be back,” she added as she left the dining room.
Hermione looked from Harry, to Ron, to Erin and saw that Erin was in awe, “I’ve never had a cake before!” she gasped.
“Never had a cake!” Ron asked looking at Erin in shock, “Are you serious? Blimey, we have some work to do, Hermione!”
“Here we are!” Ginny said as she burst through the door holding a blue heart-shaped cake, “I had to make a few adjustments,” she explained as she set the cake down on the table between Erin and Hermione. Hermione looked down at the cake and saw that on the left side of the cake, which was closest to Hermione, read It’s a BOY! and the right side, closest to Erin, read Welcome Home, Erin!.
“Ginny, it’s wonderful!” Hermione exclaimed.
“Aunt Ginny its so pretty!” Erin gasped.
“Well, since it’s your party, you and Hermione get the first pieces,” Ginny smiled and waved her wand. Two pieces of cake cut themselves, Hermione’s from the It’s a BOY! side and Erin’s from the Welcome Home, Erin! side.
“Thanks,” they both said as their cake landed in front of them.
“Welcome,” Ginny said and waved her wand again so that four more pieces cut themselves and flew to their respective plates.
“Yay!” Jami screamed when her piece landed in front of her.
“What do you say, Jami?” Harry asked his daughter.
“Dig in!” she cried and everyone laughed.
“Ron, you’re having a bad influence on my daughter,” Harry told his friend sternly.
Erin ate three pieces of cake and asked for a fourth before Hermione said, “I think that’s enough for now, Erin. We can always make our own cake later.”
“And you wouldn’t want to get a tummy ache,” Ron told her, rubbing his own stomach.
“Okay,” Erin sighed, “it’s just so good!”
“I’m glad you liked it, Erin,” Ginny said as she wiped her icing-covered, protesting daughter’s face with a wet napkin.
“Oh, and you can’t forget,” Harry began reaching under his chair, “where there is a party and cake, there must be…” he trailed off looking at Erin, expecting her to finish his sentence.
“Forks?” Erin tried, having absolutely no idea what her Uncle Harry was talking about.
“Well, yeah,” Harry said, “but most importantly presents!”
“You didn’t,” Hermione started.
“You got me a present!? But it’s not Christmas!” Erin asked her eyes wide in shock, “But… but…”
“Well it’s not everyday that you recover from having a Horcrux in your foot,” Harry smiled at Erin and put a medium-sized package on the table and pushed it so it slid down the table to Erin.
“Harry, Ginny,” Hermione said, again, “I can’t thank you e—”
“Save your breath, Hermione,” Ginny said, “Go on, open it, Erin!”
Erin carefully untied the string that held the brown paper in place then folded back the paper neatly. Laying on it’s side in the middle of the paper was a stuffed, gray hippogriff with a palm sized medallion hanging around its neck from a think chain. Erin stared at the toy for a second before picking it up and squeezing its neck in a hug, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she squealed.
Harry and Ginny beamed that Erin as she rocked the hippogriff side to side in her chair, “Your very welcome,” Ginny smiled, throwing the now dirty napkin on her plate.
“Go play!” Jami screamed again now that her mother was done torturing her face clean. Erin looked at Hermione, who smiled and nodded, then the two little girl bounced off their seats (Erin still maintaining a firm grip on the Hippogriff’s neck) and faint thumps could be heard as they scrambled up the stairs to Erin’s room.
“Thanks for all this, Gin, Harry,” Ron said as the thumps faded and he sat back in his chair.
“It was nothing. Much more fun than sitting at home all night, anyways,” Harry sighed as he too sat back.
“Really, I can’t believe everything that that little girl’s been through. She’s probably one of the bravest people I know and she’s only four!” Ginny added.
Hermione sat in her seat rubbing her stomach; she was exhausted. Yet, she knew that she should get up and clean off the table. Thinking that as soon as that chore was done, she could sink into the sitting room couch, she stood up and pulled her wand out of her pocket.
“The Chudley Cannons’ glory days may be considered by many to be over, but their devoted fans live in the hope of a renaissance. The Cannons have won the League twenty-one times – see, twenty-one times – but the last time they did so was in 1892,” Hermione heard Ron read from her bedroom as she washed her face in the adjoined bathroom, “But those gits that think the Chudley Cannons are no good, they’ll see. One of these days, they’ll be proven wrong, just you wait, Erin, just you wait.”
Hemrione rolled her eyes and walked back into the bedroom, turning off the lights to the loo as she went. If anything could be counted on to remain true, it would be that the Chudley Cannons will finish at the bottom of the league, she thought. But she would never tell Ron this, of course.
“Alright guys, time for bed,” Hermione said as she sat down on the bed beside Erin, who was still clutching her beloved new hippogriff.
“Can Lucky sleep in the bed with us tonight?” Erin asked hopefully.
“Sure, sweetie,” Ron answered as he lifted the covers back so he and Erin could crawl under them.
“Good,’ Erin said as she laid Lucky the hippogriff next to her on her pillow.
“Okay, I’m going to turn the lights off now, okay?” Hermione asked raising her wand as she stuck her legs under the comforter.
“Wait!” Erin cried as she picked the plush toy back up and pulled the large medallion off its neck. She held the thick chain in her hands and stood up on the bed so that her head was equal height to Ron’s. She unsteadily undid the large medal clasp then threw the chain around Ron’s neck and fastened it again, “There!” she said when she adjusted the necklace so that the palm-sized circle with a hippogriff engraved on it rested on Ron’s chest, “Do you like it?” she asked Ron.
“Er…” Ron said trying to look down at the monstrous medal that hung around his neck, “Yeah, I love it. Thanks, Erin.” He hugged Erin but over her shoulder gave Hermione a look that said ‘what has she done to me!’ Hermione tried not to laugh and shrugged.
“Now,” Erin said sitting back down, “don’t take it off, Daddy. Not ever.” she looked up at Ron.
“I won’t,” he answered. What could he do? This little girl he loved so much had put a hideous necklace on him, but he was going to wear it for the rest of his life. Just to make her happy. What I do for love. He thought.
“Promise?” she asked.
“Promise.” Ron repeated to Erin’s smile.
“Okay, now you can turn lights off, Mummy,” Erin announced. Hermione waved her wand and the room went dark. She lowered her head to her pillow, “G’night, Erin. G’night Ron. I love you,” she said into the darkness.
“Night ‘Mione, night Erin, love you,” Ron answered.
“Goodnight, Mummy and Daddy. I love you, too.” Erin whispered tiredly.
Hermione was the first to wake the next morning; staring at the clock she read nine forty-seven. She rolled over to her right side and smiled at what she saw. Erin lay closest to her, her thin blonde hair spread every which way on the pillow she was sharing with Hermione, her little mouth opened slightly, and her thin arms clutched Lucky the Hippogriff. On the other side of Erin, Ron was also facing her. Ron’s mouth was wide open and he had his arms wrapped around his pillow; the necklace Erin had given Ron was resting on his pillow next to him, the hippogriff on the medallion strutted about, winking. Hermione suppressed a laugh as she slowly and quietly backed out of bed, keeping her eyes on the peaceful scene. She slipped her robe on and put her wand in it’s pocket.
She tiptoed out of the bedroom and to the bathroom down the hall, knowing that her morning sickness was about to kick in and that if she was in this bathroom maybe Ton and Erin wouldn’t wake up to the sound of her retching.
After her little rondevu with the toilet Hermione brushed her teeth then headed downstairs to cook breakfast. She waved her wand and watched as two frying pans zoomed out of the cupboard and onto the lit stove. Walking over to the fridge she pulled the door open and examined the contents – Not much, she though to herself as she made a mental note to visit the grocery – she signed, decided that bacon and egg sandwichs would have to do, and grabbed a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, and a pack of bacon. She set the raw materials on the counter and waved her wand again so that the eggs and bacon began to cook themselves and the bread zoomed to the toaster.
She sat down at the small kitchen table and allowed her mind to wander to different things – names for the baby, Erin’s trial, decorating the nursery, Erin’s trial, writing to her mum, Erin’s trial…
“Don’t let that bacon burn, love,” Hermione turned and saw that Ron had walked into the kitchen. His hair stuck up everywhere and he was in his robe, too.
“Wouldn’t think about it,” Hermione answered as she stood up.
“How d’you feel this morning?” Ron asked through a yawn.
“Fine now, but earlier… ugh.”
“You can spare the details,” Ron smiled and kissed his wife. He then headed over to the stove and turned it off. Hermione brought over a large plate and a bowl. Ron dumped the eggs in the bowl and placed the bacon on the plate, “We make a good team,” he grinned.
“I know,” Hermione answered, “You bring this to the table and I’ll grab the toast.”
“Bacon sandwiches? You’re too good to me,” Ron exited the kitchen and Hermione collected the now-toasted bread. When she joined Ron in the dining room, she saw that Erin had awoken and that she and Lucky now occupied two seats on the left side of the table.
“Good morning, Erin,” Hermione greeted.
“Morning,” Erin replied before taking a bite of her sandwich that was completely unproportional to her tiny mouth.
After breakfast, Ron left for work after many protests from Erin. Hermione didn’t want him to go into work either, but she understood that he needed to check on things as he hadn’t maintained his usual hours in the past week. Hermione also remembered that she hadn’t been keeping on top of her work either so after she and Erin cleaned the breakfast dishes, Hermione told the little girl that she would have to play on her own for a while so that Hermione could work on a paper for her office.
“Why don’t I help you set up your toys in the sitting room so that I can write at the desk and you can play?” Hermione suggested, still uncomfortable with Erin being alone and out of her sight.
“Okay,” Erin agreed somewhat gloomily.
“It won’t be for long,” Hermione reassured her as she and Erin trudged up the stairs.
“I know,” Erin answered.
“Okay, so which toys do you want?”
Ten minutes later, Erin had half of the toys she owned spread all throughout the sitting room and Hermione sat down and began her paper on respecting centaurs. She got so wrapped up in her work that she spaced out all her surroundings.
Centars are thought by many to have only near-human intelligence, but in reality they know more about some aspects of magic than most of the human race. Thus has been proven by a study conducted recently by a witch named Jackie Wil—
She paused at a muffled scream that sounded as if it came from far away. Remembering that there was a illness-prone four-year-old in the room, Hermione whipped around and saw Erin yelling at the fireplace.
“You have to say it!” she yelled, “No! You’re not supposed to be on fire! Come back!”
“Erin!” Hermione said loudly to draw her attention, “What’s wrong?” she asked quickly.
“Lucky’s on fire!” Erin yelled pointing at the fireplace.
“Hurry!” the little girl shrieked as she watched the fire.
Hermione grabbed her wand off the desk, got up as fast as she could, and ran over to Erin, “Accio Lucky the Hippogriff! Aguamenti!” she waved her wand at the fireplace and the scorched plush toy emerged then was soaked with water. It lay on its side on the floor, dripping and missing an eye, a leg, and a wing.
“Oh, no!” Erin sobbed as she poked the deformed toy.
“Why was he in the fire?” Hermione asked, picking up the sopping hippogriff and attempting to dry it with the tip of her wand.
“I was trying to threw powder him to Jami’s house,” Erin explained quietly as she watched the steam from Hermione’s wand rise into the air, “but he wouldn’t say the house loud and then he was fire.”
Hermione tried very hard not to burst into laughter – she thought it might hurt Erin’s feelings, “That was nice of you, but you can’t floo unless you have an adult with you.” Hermione said when she could talk without giggling. She knew that you could floo without an adult, but she didn’t think that Erin needed to know this – Hermione didn’t want Erin to try and floo by herself.
“Oh,” Erin said, “Is Lucky okay?”
“Well, he’s lost an eye, a leg, and a wing, but if you take good care of him I think he’ll be okay. Maybe Aunt Ginny can fix him, we can ask tomorrow, okay?” Hermione handed back Lucky – if anyone could repair him, it would be Ginny. Hermione was never as good at sewing spells.
When Erin took Lucky and still looked sad, Hermione thought a story might cheer her up, “You know what?” she asked, “Uncle Harry, Daddy, and I met a real live hippogriff once.”
Erin looked up, “Really?” she asked in awe.
“Yeah. We were thirteen at first, but then, when we were fifteen, he lived with us,” Hermione explained, thinking about Number Twelve Grimwald Place.
“Whoa! Why did he move to your house?”
“Because he was in hiding. You see, he was supposed to be killed,” Hermione said before she registered what she was saying. She looked and saw that Erin looked scared at the thought of someone killing a Hippogriff, “But don’t worry,” Hermione added hastily, “Uncle Harry and I saved him.”
To Hermione’s relief, Erin smiled, “Good,” she said, “Why was he going to be killed?”
Hermione kicked herself mentally for bringing this up, “Well, when humans aren’t nice to them, hippogriffs get mad. And this one boy was being mean to Buckbeak – that was the hippogriffs name – so he kind of scratched him.” Hermione tried not to be happy at the thought of Malfoy being clawed by Buckbeak.
“Oh,” Erin said, thinking, “what was his name?”
“No, not him, the boy that was mean.”
Hermione frowned. She didn’t want to bring up him.
“Was it Draco?” Erin asked in a dark voice, unlike her normal tone.
“Er – yeah,” Hermione decided it best not to lie, “how’d you know?”
“He had a scar on his shoulder,” Erin whispered, “He probably deserved it.”
“He did,” Hermione said to herself. When she looked down, she saw that Erin had heard her and was smiling.
She is not going back to them. Hermione thought defiantly as she smiled back at Erin knowing that her fate rested on the trial that was two days away.
A/N: So I swear that i was planning on writing the trial into this chapter, but then it got too long (i mean its like 3000 something words on its own!) so i decided to split the chapters. I know what is going to happen at the trial i i think that its goooodd! haha. I also know that this chapter was kinda pointless and really fluffy, but i had to get one important thing in and i had to have more Ron-Hermione-Erin stuff before i end the story. SO all that said, please review and tell me what you think. The new chapter should be up soon, but first i'll probably update my other story (MDFF). ANYWAYS, this is a really long AN so i'll end it here. Please read and review -- it makes me happy. =]
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