Chapter 1 : November Rose
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I remember the day that you came.
It was raining; hard, cold rain pelting down from the blank-eyed iron stare of the November sky, causing the people to rush by, collars turned up against the wind, heads bowed to shield their faces from the downpour.
Morning had arrived. We’d woken, Ron and I, dressed, and were eating breakfast, talking of something; the news, the rain. A familiar owl tapped at the window, a folded newspaper clutched in its beak and I rose briefly to pay it. Sitting back down, I scanned through the headlines- I forget what they were- but as I settled down to read... you came.
You announced your arrival with a sharp kick of pain that twisted through my abdomen, doubling me up in surprise and panic. A cry escaped my lips, followed by Ron’s query of concern and then the sudden expression of shock as we realised you were on your way.
I learned later that it was a difficult birth, that the Healers feared for my life and for yours over the course of the hours I spent with them. At the time it was all a blur of colour and hurting and sound, the concerned and caring faces of the people around me, the simple whiteness of the plainly robed Healers and the voices of my family members, by turns anxious and excited with the air of expectancy permeating their hushed tones.
Most of all, I remember Ron, and his ridiculous expression of horror mixed with delight and anxiety that even in the middle of all the pain made me want to laugh out loud and I remember the softness of his hand pressed into mine as I clung onto him for dear life. (He later informed me that he’d feared for his fingers.)
And in the middle of it all, I remember you.
You slipped through the noise and the drama and the fuss with barely a flicker, you passed through the pain and the clouds and the drumming of the raindrops upon the roof, shedding it all like a second skin in your simplicity. And seeing you there, for the first time, nothing hurt, nothing was scary or threatening, nothing could be wrong with the world. The smiling Healer placed you in my arms and it was as if the volume had been turned down; suddenly all else seemed distracting and irrelevant because there was you.
You were the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, your tiny fists clenched and flailing wildly, your lips, your nose, you mouth, all fragile and perfectly formed, as if cast in porcelain. Your skin was soft as silk; your hair a downy crown in a hue I already knew would be a delicate echo of your father’s. I cradled you, hugging you close to me, in awe of your perfection, drinking in every minor detail of your existence as if there were nothing else possible in the world. Carefully, hesitantly, you opened your eyes. I caught my breath. They were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen, deep, sparkling pools of lapis lazuli, shot through with breaths of gold. I could drown in those eyes.
A movement at my shoulder and I turned, remembering suddenly that you and I were not alone, that there was somebody else... Ron’s eyes shone as they took you in. He reached down with trembling fingers and gently touched your face, your satin soft cheek and before we knew what was happening he was crying and I was crying and holding you and I was aching and exhausted and happy, oh so happier than I’d ever been before.
Those early days, I couldn’t get enough of you. I watched you wake, sleep, feed, yawn, stretch, sneeze and smile until I thought my heart would burst for love of you. Ron’s family rarely left in the weeks after you were born; Molly was invaluable with advice, help and support and was almost as enamoured with her latest grandchild as I was, despite Ron’s protests that we “could do fine anyway!”
Fleur blew away all my teenage disapproval of her with her frequent visits, bringing gossip, sunlight and cake and doting over you whilst five-year-old Victoire and one-year-old Dominique played quietly on the floor. George and Angelina visited with their own new baby, Fred, and George cracked jokes whilst Angelina rolled her eyes indulgently. Harry and Ginny were never away, already adopting you into part of the extended Weasley family. Your cousin James was fascinated by you, sitting with you for hours on end, holding your tiny hand and telling you enthusiastically about everything he’d been doing since he last saw you and reading from my old battered copy of Beedle the Bard. Harry, Ron and I smiled nostalgically at one another when we saw that, remembering another time when that book had been useful to us.
“I think I’m going to call him Albus,” said Ginny conversationally as we laughingly discussed the wizard who had given that book to me.
“What?” spluttered Ron. Ginny gave him a dignified look.
“The baby,” she explained, gesturing to her growing bump, “It sounds cute.”
“We don’t know it’s going to be a “he” yet,” objected Harry. Ginny threw him a withering glance, not without similarity to the one she had just subjected Ron to.
“Of course it’s a “he”,” she said firmly. “Trust me.”
Her words couldn’t help but bring back the most pressing problem of Ron and I’s. Two weeks had passed since your birth and we still had failed to agree upon a name for you. We had been thrown suggestions from everyone, from Adelia to Zariah and Walburga to Ronalda but I had yet to hear anything that sounded... right.
I thought about it a lot. The hours I spent holding you, rocking you, singing you to sleep in my arms and yet I still could not decide what name to give you, how to name the mystical rain child that slipped into our lives one dark November day. Your dark blue eyes stared accusingly up at me- what name could be good enough for such a being? What name did justice to the half-moon dimples in your cheeks? To the growing amount of sunlit hair, which I could already tell would one day be just as bushy as mine had always been?
Two days after Harry and Ginny’s visit, my own parents came to see you. They had put off the visit, not exactly mistrusting but not quite welcoming either of the magical world that their only daughter had been swallowed up into. They liked Ron, and they certainly liked Harry and were anxious to see you, their first granddaughter, but seemed cautious as to where they were placed in our way of living.
I remember the light in my mother’s eyes as she first saw you, a light that had nothing to do with the sun streaming in through the open window. I remember her hand on your forehead, her fragile gasp of wonder as suddenly and for a time, all reservations about the magical world were put aside as she gazed at you.
“Oh Hermione, she’s beautiful!” she breathed. I lifted you into her arms and you stirred, woke, began to cry.
“Shhh,” murmured your grandmother, “Shhh...” She rocked you gently and you relaxed, your crying ceasing and your breathing easing up as you fell back to sleep. She held you for a time and then passed you to your Granddad and there were tears in his eyes as he eventually laid her back in my arms.
Ron slipped quietly into the room and they greeted and congratulated him with wide eyes and smiling voices.
“Does she have a name yet?” asked Mum. Ron and I paused.
“Not yet,” I sighed, “We can’t seem to find anything that sounds... right.”
“Yes I can see that,” she said, sensibly, “It was the same when you were born- Dad and I were just stumped for weeks afterwards!”
“And then you came up with Hermione?”
We all laughed.
“Rose.” Said Mum suddenly.
“Rose,” she said again, sounding shyer this time, “I don’t know... if you don’t like it that’s okay but... she just looks like a Rose...”
“Rose...” Ron rolled the word experimentally over his tongue, trying it for size. “That’s not bad actually! I really like it! What do you think, Hermione?”
Rose... I looked down at you, cradled safely now back in my arms. I thought of your deep lake-like eyes, of your skin and your hair and the features on your face.
And it fits.
“I like it.” I said. “I really like it.” A pause and then, “Shall we settle on it?”
Ron grinned, in that way I love, the way he has since he was eleven and probably still will be doing when he’s one hundred and eleven.
And thus, Rose, are you named.
There are times after that, days and weeks and months and years fading into more days and weeks and months and years, seeing you grow from infancy to childhood, from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence into adulthood.
But it’s those times that come back, now, the first days of your existence, the first time I felt the flutter of your heartbeat or saw the radiance of your smile. The world will take what it can from you, but those moments, Rose, those moments will always be ours.