Chapter 26 : Out In The Open
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Hermione buttoned up the last few buttons on Aphrodite’s sleeper before placing the baby in the bassinet next to her own bed. Hermione turned when she heard her door open and found Draco entering the room as Aphrodite started to fuss. Hermione sighed and picked her daughter up again.
“The prefects have arrived and are waiting downstairs. We don’t want to leave them waiting too long,” Draco said placing his hand on Hermione’s lower back and brushing Aphrodite’s cheek with his finger.
The little girl, who was calmer now in her mother’s arms, looked at her father in interest before turning her face towards her mother.
“Alright,” Hermione said and placed her daughter back in the bassinet.
She walked over to her dresser and picked up the folder containing all her Head Girl notes for the meeting and a plain silver banded ring.
“What’s this?” Draco asked indicating to the new piece of jewellery on her hand.
“Why, are you jealous that someone else might be giving me jewellery?” Hermione asked smiling. “No, it’s an old ring of mine. I’ve charmed it to give off warm pulsing waves when she gets fussy,” Hermione explained. “This way I’ll know when she needs me; instead of me constantly coming up here to tend to her multiple times and having everyone get so suspicious of what could possibly be so interesting up here.”
“Yes well, it may not stop pulsing tonight,” Draco said looking at their daughter who was fussing again.
“I don’t know what to do,” Hermione said walking back to the baby girl. “Thank Merlin for that silencing spell. Otherwise all of Hogwarts perfects would hear her.”
“She just wants to be held,” Draco said. “She picked a good night though. You try and calm her, I tell them some excuse.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said picking the baby up yet again. “I’ll be down as soon as I can get her sleeping.”
Draco placed a kiss on his daughter’s head before kissing Hermione, “hurry up.”
“You can’t hurry this one up,” Hermione said smiling. “She’s a mind of her own.”
“And the stubbornness of her mother,” Draco added quickly before duckling out of her room.
Draco walked down the stairs to the group of conversing prefects that here gathering in the living area.
“Everyone take a seat please,” Draco said helping himself to one of the chairs.
The prefects broke apart from their conversations and seated themselves among the many spare chairs that were conjured for the meeting. “Quiet down please. Thank you. Hermione is currently tied up with another matter at the moment, she’ll join us shortly. For now I’m going to start things off. We’ll start with you Harper.”
The first twenty minutes of the meeting passed dreadfully slow for Draco, who usually didn’t pay full attention to the prefect’s reports. Though with Hermione currently absent his attention was unfortunately required. He was relieved to finally hear her bedroom door open and close and turned to see her hurrying down the stairs before taking the empty seat next to him.
“Sorry, I’m late,” Hermione said settling into the chair. “Please, Padma, continue.”
“Took long enough,” Draco whispered to her while Padma continued with what she had been discussing. “I actually had to pay attention this time.”
“It may do you some good,” Hermione responded in the same whisper. “I don’t think she’ll stay sleeping long though.”
“Well thank Merlin tomorrow is Saturday, cause if that’s the case there will be zero sleeping tonight,” Draco responded before the two Heads turned their attention back to the prefects.
Sure enough, at twenty after eight, with only ten minutes left of the meeting, the ring on Hermione’s hand started giving off pulsing warmth.
Hermione sighed, “Can you finish up here?”
Draco glanced down at the ring then back to her and nodded, “yeah go.”
Hermione quickly excused herself and made her way back into her room. As she walked into the room and through the silencing spells barrier, the conversations of the meeting below her was cut off and the cries of her daughter filled her ears.
“Shh, don’t cry, it’s alright mummy is here,” she said softly picking up the distressed child.
After a few moments in her mother’s arms, Aphrodite calmed down, balling her hands around Hermione’s shirt. Hermione walked over to her bed and lay down, placing the soothed baby on her chest. Hermione relaxed into her bed, rubbing Aphrodite’s back softly.
Once all the prefects had left, Draco extinguished the lights and made his way up the stairs to his room to change before proceeding through the bathroom, where he stopped to brush his teeth, to Hermione’s room. A smile made its way onto his face when he saw Hermione asleep on the bed with their daughter on her chest. Still smiling, Draco crawled onto the bed, moving in between Hermione and the wall, not disturbing either of the two sleeping beauties of his life.
“All done,” Madame Pomfrey announced. “Everything is looking good. She is perfectly healthy.”
Hermione smiled and tickled her daughter lightly on the tummy, “just what mummy wants to hear.”
Madame Pomfrey smiled, “I am glad to see she’s getting bigger. These weekly visits may not be as necessary soon; perhaps we can change her check-ups to every other week.”
“So soon? She’s only a few weeks old,” Hermione said looking at the Medi-witch as Draco got up out of his chair and placed his arm around Hermione’s waist.
Madame Pomfrey smiled again, “we can continue the weekly check-ups if you wish, but I don’t see them as necessary. She is doing quite well. Not to mention, she is in here five days of the week as it is. And don’t even start apologising about it. I am more than happy to care for this little one. There are not always students in here and she is quite a pleasant patient.”
“You wouldn’t be saying that if you had her last night. We weren’t able to set her down till nearly two thirty in the morning without her kicking up a fuss. She was only content if one of us was holding her,” Hermione said and Draco picked up their daughter.
“That sounds like an interesting night you had then,” Madame Pomfrey said. “It is possible that she just wanted to be held as a reassurance that someone was there. Sometimes a form of noise, whether it is music or the humming of some item, is enough to calm them. It worked wonders for my niece.”
“I guess that is why a lot of mobiles come charmed with music or sounds of some sort,” Draco said shifting the baby in his arms.
“Well maybe we should give it a try,” Hermione said slipping her finger into the sleeping baby’s little hand before placing alight kiss on her forehead.
The door to the hospital wing opened suddenly then and a wave of voices flooded in with the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff quidditch teams. Everything moved quickly, Ginny walked in holding her right arm against her chest and with some help from Ron, managed to get herself seated on a bed. Louise Hoffer, a fifth year Hufflepuff chaser and captain, was levitated in by professor Flitwick and placed on a bed. Through all the sudden flurry of activity, Madame Pomfrey hurried away to tend to the unconscious chaser. All the unexpected activity and noise startled Aphrodite from her nap in her father’s arms and she started crying; silencing the hospital wing almost immediately.
“She’s not a secret anymore,” Draco said quietly enough for only Hermione to hear. “She’ll be all over the school by, well its two thirty now, so I say by supper time the whole school will know.”
“You should take her back to the common room,” Hermione said. “I’m going to see Ginny.”
Draco nodded his head in agreement and walked over to the fireplace; returning to the head common room in green flames. Hermione hurried to Ginny’s bed, conscious of all the student eyes that followed her.
“Ginny what happened? Did you get hit by a bluddger?” Hermione asked.
“No, no bluddger. I think I dislocated my shoulder, though on the plus side, I caught the snitch,” Ginny said smiling before wincing in pain.
“How in the world did you manage to dislocate your shoulder then?” Hermione asked.
“I was chasing the snitch, we, the Hufflepuff chaser and I, were pretty much just skimming along the ground and they were so close to getting it, so I jumped for it. I guess I didn’t land right and now my shoulder is dislocated and Merlin does it ever hurt,” Ginny explained with a pained expression on her face.
“Bloody stupid of you if you ask me,” Ron said.
“well I’m not asking you,” Ginny said. “And anyways if Harry had done this, you wouldn’t be giving him hell.”
“You’d be giving him quite the opposite actually,” Hermione added.
“Well Harry is not my little sister,” Ron stated. “you could have broken your neck.”
“Well I didn’t and we won so drop it,” Ginny said.
Ron grumbled under his breath, but dropped the subject.
“So everyone knows now,” Ginny said.
Hermione looked up and quidditch players of both colors averted their eyes from the Head Girl.
“Yeah, maybe it’ll be easier on us now, not having to sneak around,” Hermione said returning her attention to the two redheads. “we really didn’t need to keep it all quiet anymore, but just didn’t want to deal with the student pressure,” Hermione said. “we’ll be the talk of the school for weeks.”
“Let them talk then,” Ginny said glaring at the staring students as Madame Pomfrey came over to examine her shoulder.
“Anyways, I’ll see you guys at supper,” Hermione said before walking out of the hospital wing; enjoying possibly the last time students wouldn’t be watching her and whispering about her as she passed by.
When Hermione walked into the Great Hall that evening for supper, the Hall quieted almost instantly; starting with the students closest to her at the door all the way to the students near the staff table. Ignoring the glares she was getting from the Slytherin table, she walked between the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw tables to where Ginny and Ron were sitting.
“So this must be what Harry felt like all the time,” Hermione said sitting down as the whispers picked up around the hall.
Ginny smiled and adjusted the sling around her neck, “where’s Draco?”
“He stayed with Aphrodite in the common room,” Hermione replied helping herself to the food in front of her. “He’ll come down after I get back. How’s your arm.”
“Fine, a little stiff though,” Ginny responded.
“Well that’s to be expected,” Hermione stated.
Ginny nodded and watched as a lone owl flew into the hall and headed for their table.
“A little late for post,” Ron said as the owl dropped the letter in front of Ginny.
“It’s from mum,” Ginny said before hastily flipping it over and opening the envelope.
Ron shrugged and turned back to his plate, shovelling food into his mouth almost faster than he could swallow.
“Really Ron, do you even taste what you eat?” Hermione asked incredulously.
Ron paused mid shovelling and looked at his friend. Hermione was grateful that for once Ron swallowed before talking.
“Sometimes,” he answered.
Hermione shook her head and turned to Ginny, “what did your mum have to say?”
Ginny looked up a smile splitting her face in two, “harry woke up.”
“About bloody time,” Ron said.
“We should be able to go see him tomorrow,” Hermione said smiling.
“I hope so, these past few weeks have been torture for us all,” Ginny said.
Hermione turned to find Lavender and Pavarti sitting in the empty spaces beside her.
“Yes Lavender?” Hermione said and the great hall quieted down, all their attention focused on the two Gryffindors.
“Uhh...I was wondering if...”
“Lavender, Hermione has places to be and you’re holding her up. So spit it out so she can finish eating and be on her way,” Ginny said and Ron momentarily choked on his food.
“Right, I- I mean, we were wondering if the rumours about you and Malfoy were true,” Lavender said hastily.
Hermione turned full body to lavender and looked her in the eye, “so Hogwarts gossip girl has decided to finally get the facts before passing around the dirt has she?”
Ginny this time, who had been taking a sip of her pumpkin juice, choked on her drink.
“Well?” Hermione pushed.
Lavender and Pavarti stared at the Head girl shocked before they both started stuttering out random noises, not really knowing what to say.
“Yes it’s true and if anyone has a problem with it, they can keep it to themselves,” Draco said coming up behind the two silenced Gryffindors. “This silence is very becoming.”
“What are you doing here?” Hermione asked fighting the smile on her face.
“Blaise is in the common room watching her,” Draco said. “I couldn’t leave you down here by yourself to deal with all these idiots.”
Hermione smiled as Draco sat down by her, “thanks, I think it might be kind of nice to be out in the open now.”
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