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Chapter 20 : Epilogue: The Joy of Children
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“Irena, Rose, get out of the bushes! You’ll get bitten again!” I yell at the two toddlers that I have to keep alive and unhurt. Irena turned to look at me with her huge, muddy green eyes, then took Rose by the arm and pulled her away from the bush. Of course it would be the kid that wasn’t my own that would follow my direction.
“Don’t you love how obedient your own children are?” Ginny asks me wearily as she watches her own two sons chase a chubby gnome across the garden after she’d told them to stop at least three times.
I shake my head as I sigh, “I think it’s because our kids know that we won’t get up to stop them anymore.” I answer truthfully. Rose has learned that over the past eight months my threats to physically stop her from doing wrong have lost meaning.
Behind the spot where Ginny and I sit, I hear the door slide open and turn to see Molly walking out carrying a tray of popsicles. Ginny and I groan simultaneously as we envision the mess that is about to be our children.
“Mum!” Ginny complains, “Are you seriously going to feed sugar-filled popsicle’s to a three year old and three two year old kids about two hours before bedtime?”
Molly sets the tray down then smiles and waves off her daughter, “Oh, please, I’m allowed to spoil my grandchildren. I don’t see them nearly enough! And it’s hot enough out here to make a scalamander stroke!”
I have to admit that it is incredibly hot for a May evening. Maybe a little hydration – even if it is in the form of a sugarized liquid – would be good for the kids.
“Every other weekend is more than ‘nearly enough,’” Ginny grumbles to me as Molly calls the children. “I wouldn’t mind if she took them for a few weeks, if she really wants them…” she adds and I barely manage to turn my laugh into a cough as Molly looks over at us suspiciously.
“Grandma’s got popsicles for all of the good kids who ate all their dinner!” Molly calls.
A stampede of toddlers along with battle cries of “I did, I did!” answer the call and soon Ginny, Molly and I are surrounded by excited toddlers.
“I can’t open it!” whined James as he waved his treat in front of his mother.
“Hold your hippogriffs,” Ginny sighed as she scoots to the end of her chair with difficulty and works to keep both of her sons happy.
I watch as Rose bounces in front of Molly, her shoulder length red ringlets spraying everywhere as she waits impatiently for her grandmother to remove the wrapping. I sigh wishing that my daughter would allow me to simply pull her hair back into a ponytail… but no. Apparently she gets this from me; whenever I get frustrated with Rose, my parents remind me that I didn’t like to have my hair put up when I was a kid.
I look down over my enormous belly as I feel a tap on my knee, “леля ‘Mione help?” Irena said in her soft Bulgarian accent. She stares at me with her round muddy-green eyes and I have to smile.
“Of course,” I take the popsicle and remove the wrapping then hand it back. She smiles at me in thanks then runs over to join Rose, Albus, and James where they are sitting on the patio. Irena plops down beside Rose and I eye the tan toddler’s long, straight brown ponytail enviously as I realize that, unlike my daughter’s hair, all of Irena’s hair won’t be stuck to her face when she’s through.
I sigh again. Oh, well. Both she and Rose were going to take a bath tonight anyway after playing in the dirt all day.
Ginny groans miserably as she sits back in her chair, “I wish this kid would stop playing beater with my bladder,” she says.
I nod in agreement, “At least our husbands can be sure they’ll be excellent quidditch players.”
Ginny mutters something about how ‘she didn’t care what Harry thought at this point, she was having his third kid and he’d better be happy with what he got’ as she mentally prepared herself for the long journey to the loo.
I smiled, knowing that soon enough I would have to get up and use the loo, too, then heard my name being called from the kitchen window. I turned to see Ron yelling at me from said spot, where he and Harry were currently cleaning up after dinner. “Do you need anything? Water? Ice?”
“No thanks, Ron. I still have my water from dinner,” I call back.
“Are you sure?” he asks. I nod and hold up my water glass to prove it. He looks me over then nods and closes the window back.
Ginny and Molly break into giggles as soon as it creaks shut.
I’m confused, “What?” I ask.
“You are so only having your second child,” Ginny laughs.
I must have still looked confused because Molly took pity on me, “By the time I was pregnant with Percy, if I wanted water, Arthur might perform the aquamenti charm as long as his wand was within reach.”
“That is so true,” Ginny sighs as she sits up a bit more. “Though Harry is pretty good about it as far as blokes go. He’s good about taking care of the boys now that I’m incapable of, well, moving.”
I laugh at that one. Moving has most definitely become increasingly difficult. I can’t imagine Ron not being overly helpful, though. He’s always checking up on me, wanting to know what he can do for me, Rose, the baby. I look back at my daughter who is waving her arms over her head – she’s apparently in the middle of a story. She gets her oh-so-wonderful story telling abilities from her dad.
The men (Arthur, Ron, and Harry) all walk out together having finished their assigned chores and conjure themselves chairs in our little child-watching line.
“You look a bit flushed, ‘Mione,” Ron puts his chair right next to mine and throws his arm around my shoulder. I cuddle closer to him as he whispers, “Do you want to go inside and cool off? I can watch Rose and Irena.”
I shake my head into the crook of his arm, “My face is always flushed nowadays,” I answer bitterly.
“You’re beautiful,” Ron kisses the top of my head. I’m sure that I blushed even if no one saw it. Molly is offering Arthur his chair, to which he keeps asking “What?” because his hearing is terrible and Harry is gently helping Ginny out of her chair so she can use the loo.
“I’m guessing that no one flooed while you were cleaning?” I ask him.
I feel him shake his head, “No – I’m sure the game is still going, though.”
“I know,” I say as I watch Irena and Rose stand up and walk over to the bin to throw away their popsicle sticks. “Tanya said she’d floo before bedtime, though. She’ll probably just catch us at the house.”
The sun was slowly setting and before an hour had passed, it was nearly too dark to see ten feet. Ron helped me to my feet and together all the adults gathered the children into the house.
“We’d better be going, anyway,” Ginny says as she balances Al on stomach. Harry nods as he maintains a grip on a struggling James.
“Us, too, Mum,” Ron answers and Irena yawns in his left arm and Rose rests her head on his right shoulder.
“I guess it is late,” Molly sighs as she leads us into the living room and to the fire. “Well, let me and Granddad say goodbye.”
Everyone says goodbye and goodnight to everyone else, which takes a good five minutes, then I insist on flooing with Rose and finally our little group of four is standing in our living room. Ron flicks his wand and the lights flick on in each room in the house. “Bath then bed?” he asks.
“Sounds like a plan,” I say handing over a very sleepy Rose. “Do you mind bathing while I get their pajamas and stuff ready?”
“Oh, if you insist,” Ron sighs playfully. He kisses my forehead again as he walks by with two half-asleep two-year-olds heading for the bathroom on the second floor. I follow him but keep going when he turns into the first door on the left and at the end of the hall enter the pink-and-sliver room that belongs to our daughter.
Under four silver letters that spell out her name, I open Rose’s dresser and find two pairs of short-sleeve pajamas and two nighttime diapers. Then I walk over to the oak crib and magically enlarge it a bit so that Irena and Rose will fit comfortably. By the time that I hobble down the hall to get blankets for Irena and back, Ron walks out of the bathroom and into Rose’s room.
“Come here, baby,” I say and take Irena from Ron. I set her on the changing table then toss Ron one pair of pj’s and a diaper. He sets her on the floor and begins to dress her.
“Are you cold?” I ask Irena, who is clutching the towel around her as if its her lifeline. She nods. “Well let’s do this fast, then!” I say. “One, two, three!” She giggles and releases the towel. As if trying to beat a clock, I put on her diaper then her PJ’s, “There!” I smile.
“Daddy!” Rose whines from the floor when she sees that Irena and I have ‘beaten’ her in getting dressed. Ron chuckles, “Sorry, Rosie, your mum is just the champion of dressing.”
She lets out a long agitated sigh as I smirk and brush Irena’s hair. When I’m finished I hand off the brush to Ron, who attempts to tame Rose’s hair as I dry Irena’s with my wand.
“NO!” Rose squirms and tries to avoid the brush as if it’s the death curse.
“Rosie, come on,” Ron sticks his tongue between his teeth in concentration. “Can’t – you – just – be – still – for – one – second!”
“NO!” she screams again and throws her hands over her head.
About to laugh at my husband and my daughter practically wrestling, I turn back to Irena, “Want to go see if your мама has flooed yet?” I ask her.
She nods and reaches her hands up to me. I pick her up with some difficulty and, as I usually do, I realize how much smaller she is than my Rosie. Rose definitely inherited the Weasley height.
“DADDY! ‘TOP!” I hear from behind me. Apparently she inherited the Weasley stubbornness, too.
I finally make it down the stairs and I toss Irena onto the couch gently before lowering myself into the comfy chair. She knows the procedure so she jumps off the couch and toddles over to climb into my lap. We sit there for a few minutes, watching the fire, before Ron comes down – his own hair a mess – but Rose’s all nicely brushed.
“I won,” he announces with a smile as he sits down on the couch.
I laugh, “Good job, Honey.” He looks so proud of himself; it’s one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen in my life. I take time to look at them now - the two most important people in my life sitting together with the color of their hair and eyes matching to the exact shade, the same splattering of freckles across their noses and I feel my heart swell.
I almost feel bad for this new baby. I already love him a lot but I can’t ever imagine loving this baby as much as I love Rosie or Ron. When I confessed this awful thought to Ginny, she said she felt the same way with Al at first but that it all changed when she saw him right after he was born. I hope that she’s right in saying the same thing will happen to me. I see her with her little family and know that she loves them all as much as I love mine.
Irena rests her head on my fat stomach and I comb my fingers through her hair. A few minutes later, after Rose as given up her protest against Ron and fallen asleep in his arms and Irena is just drifting off, a head pops into the fireplace.
“Sorry I’m late!” says Tanya immediately. “Is she already asleep?” she asks. I see the longing to be with her daughter in her eyes. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be away from Rose for even a night.
“No,” I answer half-truthfully. I shake her gently and she blinks awake. “мама’s here.” I whisper.
Irena sits up and rubs her eyes, “мама?”
“Hey, Baby!” Tanya coos. “Are you hafing fun vith леля ‘Mione and чичо Ron?”
Irena nods slightly, “Home.” She says.
“You’re hafing more fun vith леля ‘Mione and чичо Ron than here at Daddy’s boring tournament,” Tanya says. “We’ll be there to get you tomorrow early in the morning.”
I see Irena’s eyes begin to tear up and watch as Tanya’s face mirrors the agony her daughter is showing. “Why don’t we go to bed and then when you wake up, мама will be here!” I say.
“Yes, Irena, just go to bed and ven you vake up, мама and тате vill be there!”
Irena nods and wipes her eyes.
“I love you,” Tanya says.
“Love you,” Irena answers.
I smile and nod to Ron who gets up with sleeping Rose and takes Irena. “Goodnight, Tanya,” he says. She nods at him and he disappears out of the room.
Tanya sighs, “I hate being away from her.”
I nod, “Don’t worry, she’s been fine.” I tell her honestly. I can tell that that relaxes her, “How’s the tournament going?”
She rolls her eyes, “Long.” She laughs, “Viktor’s team is doing great. They von the first game easily – he caught the snitch in minutes, vhich I’m sure you figured when ve didn’t pick her up at the Burrow. The championship is this afternoon in about an hour.”
The tournament was being held in some tiny country I couldn’t recall the name of now. However, the small family of three still resided in the penthouse of the hotel; Irena’s Bulgarian was as good as her English, which never ceases to amaze me.
“Well don’t worry about us,” I told her. “She’ll fall asleep immediately, we’ll feed her in the morning, and then you’ll be here.”
“Thanks so much for doing this, Hermione. Viktor and I really appreciate it; you know that quidditch crowds are no place for toddlers.”
I nod, “It’s no problem.” It really isn’t; I owe her and Viktor so much more than just watching what could be the world’s most well behaved child (and Rose’s best friend that she isn’t technically related to) a few times. I’m just so grateful that we are all on such good terms.
When Viktor and I started talking again, I was worried about how he and Ron would get along. I didn’t let them interact until Ron and I had been married for a year and Viktor and Tanya for about six months. Surprisingly, Ron was overly friendly and at first I was really confused. I thought for sure he’d be mad at the man that married me when he left. However, later that very night Ron answered my unanswered question when he confessed, in all seriousness, that he owed Viktor his life for what he did – giving him me. I was so amazed by this fact I can’t even describe it. The best thing would be to say that I’m fairly sure that Rose was born nine months later.
Tanya opens her mouth to respond, then collapses in giggles. I look at her and raise my eyebrow. Half of her head disappears and I hear her say something in Bulgarian. I catch a few words that I remembered: stop, appropriate, and my name. Hmm. She comes back into full view and blushes, “I’m sorry. Viktor says ve have to go. Ve owe you so much.”
I smile, “It’s nothing, Irena’s an angel,” I say. “See you tomorrow. Tell Viktor good luck!”
“I vill. Goodnight, Hermione.”
“Goodnight, Tanya,” I nod as her head disappears.
I sit there and wonder how hard it would be on my back to just sleep in the chair. It would be a much better idea than having to get out of this chair.
But it would kill my back. And I can’t take pain potions this late in my pregnancy. I guess that means I have to get up. Damn. I brace myself against the arms of the chair and just as I start to push myself up, I feel two strong hands lifting my elbows. Ron helps me to stand up then wraps his arms around my extremely whale-like figure. I lay my head back onto his shoulder, glad that he’s hugging me from behind so that we don’t have my hill-sized abdomen in between us. “Are they already asleep?” I ask.
“Yeah, Irena was already half asleep when I laid her down,” he answers in my ear sending shivers down my back. It’s amazing how he can still do that to me. He chuckles.
“Not fair,” I tell him. He laughs again. He really needs to stop doing this. Actually, I hope that he never stops.
The words of my eleven-year-old daughter and her best friend float down the hall and into my room where I am currently doing the laundry for what seems like the whole Ministry. How can four people have this many clothes?
Oh, I remember - they have aunts and uncles and grandparents that enjoy spoiling them rotten.
I sigh as I fold another pair of Rose’s non-crested robes neatly. I can barely believe my little girl is going to be starting Hogwarts tomorrow. Seems like just yesterday we had to hold her down to brush her hair.
Apparently, Rose can’t believe it either: “I hate that we have to go to completely different schools!” I hear her whine.
“It’s not my fault that you live all the vay in England,” her friend pouts.
I hear them sigh. I really do hate that Rose won’t be going to school with her best mate. Irena is the only really good non-relative friend that Rose has. She and Hugo both have a few that go to the same muggle primary school they attend (attended in Rose’s case), but they aren’t really good mates. And while she’s very close to her cousins, I can see why she’d need someone outside the family to confide it. Then again, the Krums are practically family… but still.
“Don’t you want to go to Hogwarts with me?” Rose asks.
“My whole family’s gone to Drumstrang,” Irena explains, “and there’s the ‘I live in a different country’ thing.”
The house is quiet for a while. I relish in the rare silence. Ron and Hugo are spending this Saturday morning at George’s store – the weekend before school starts is always the worst. – then we are having a huge family dinner at the Burrow that includes everyone, including Viktor, Tanya, and Irena.
“What’s Hogwarts like?” I hear Irena ask. “тате says that Drumstrang can not be explained but has to be seen. Is it the same with Hogwarts?”
I finish folding the current load and pick up Rose’s clothes. I have to make sure that these go into her trunk otherwise, Merlin knows where it will be. She inherited Ron’s sense of cleanliness.
I walk down the hall and knock on the door to open it. Rose’s room has changed over the years – it is more a darker pink color and has various posters of Weasley Wizard Wheezes products, Quidditch teams, Wizard rock bands, pictures of family and friends all pinned to the wall in no certain order or form.
“I have your robes,” I smile at her as I walk in and the girls turn to look at me. Irena turns around, her long, agonizingly straight brown hair complementing her muddy-brown eyes. Rose blinks her father’s blue eyes up at me as she pushes the bushy, curly red hair she still doesn’t like to tie up out of her face.
“You can explain it better, Mum!” her eyes light up with this realization. “Tell us what Hogwarts was like!”
I set her clothes down on her trunk and smile. Oh, Hogwarts. My times there were not anywhere near what one would consider ‘normal’ so should my description even count? A majority, I’d say about eighty percent of what I experienced at Hogwarts I hope that Rose – and Hugo, and any of the other children – never have to go through.
But still, the place hasn’t changed. Hogwarts still looks the same (more or less). But I can’t really describe the beautiful courtyards, the historical classrooms and Great Hall. The closest thing would have to be –
“No, I can’t describe it,” I tell them. The eagerness slides off their faces. “But I could show you. Would you like to see pictures?” I smile.
The bounce off the bed before one could say ‘Hogwarts.’ “Where are they!?” Rose asks.
“In the attic,” I laugh.
Rose grabs Irena’s hand and the two run laughing down the hall and up the stairs to the third floor. When I finally catch up with them, Rose (the taller of the two, thanks again to the gangly, tall Weasley genes) is jumping up and down trying to reach the string that leads to the attic.
“Just wait, Rosie,” Irena is laughing.
Rose stops jumping, “You are way too patient!”
“Calm down,” Irena continues to giggle as she holds my daughter still by her shoulders.
“Thank you, Irena, wouldn’t want her bludgering the place,” I say as I reach up and pull the ladder down.
“I thought you might want your house in one piece, леля ‘Mione,” she says as she releases Rose, who scowls.
I chuckle as I straighten out the ladder and climb up first. As I stand up in the attic, I notice how long it’s been since I was last up there; dust covers everything like a wool blanket.
I hear the faint sounds of a shuffle from the bottom and guess that the girls are fighting over who gets to go first. Rose wins, and her red hair precedes her up the ladder. “Where are they?” she asks anxiously as she yet again pushes her hair out of her face.
I look around while Irena climbs up the ladder. I spot two I identical black trunks in the corner, “I’m pretty sure they are in one of those.” Rose rushes over to them and I try to recall what is in the other trunk.
Shrugging it off I walk over and unlatch the one opposite the one that they are working on. The latch sticks and by the time I wrench it open and realize this is the Hogwarts trunk I don’t register the two gasps from behind me.
I pick up my old uniforms, some old drafts of essays, and look to the bottom where I stuck all my old pictures. Pulling them out I smile and make up my mind to get frames for them soon. They are too special to be sitting in the back of an old trunk.
Just as I’m about to tell them to come look at a particularly funny one of Ron and Harry in the Common Room I hear an exclamation of, “мой бог! тате?”
My God! Daddy? Why is Irena… My heart skips a beat. I remember what was in that trunk now – all my old first marriage belongings.
“Mum, is this you and… Uncle Viktor?” Rose asks. I notice she’s holding a picture. Mine and Viktor’s wedding pictures.
“Er…” I answer, not sure how to approach this.
Rose looks at me in skeptical disbelief, “Mum, you have got some explaining to do…”
if you couldn't figure it out:
nenr-ish one: aunt
yuny looking one: uncle.
(sorry for the bad descriptions i'm just trying to get this posted fast - i'm at school. haha)
A/N: AHHH! it's over! i can't believe i finally finshed this! took like a year. which is actually a record for such a long story. haha. SO sorry this took so long to get up. i had like half of it written... then it deleted. but then i realized i wanted to do something else anyway, so yeah. I really hope that you guys liked my story! thanks to everyone that reviewed. i love you all so much. and i'm a bit upset that i lost reviews, but oh well. haha. thanks guys, you are all amazing. without such a great amount of feedback, i don't know if i'd still be writing!
thanks. please tell me what you think.
over and outt for the LAST time on this story! (ahh!!!).
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