Chapter 1 : Bedtime Stories
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"Come here you little monster," I say, taking her by surprise as I scoop her up in my arms and swirl her round a few times. I then lift her high above my head and blow raspberries onto her belly making her squeal with laughter and kick her legs out. Dodging a smack to the nose I bring her back down in line with my face and kiss her forehead gently.
"That will teach you not to listen to any of Daddy's stories now, won't it?"
She looks back at me so innocently I can practically hear her saying 'who me daddy? I wouldn't ever dream of not listening to you'. Only eighteen months old and I can tell she's going to be a handful when she gets older. Beautiful red curls, chocolate brown eyes that are just like her mother’s and an expression like butter wouldn’t melt. Charlie keeps saying she will be a heartbreaker. I tell him I will break anyone’s face if they go near her. That’s a father’s job after all isn’t it?
I put her back down on the chair lightly, quickly removing her teddy to one side and out of her sight. She won't need it anymore tonight anyway; Daddy is going to entertain her and he can do it better than any rubbish muggle fairy tale. Cinderella, indeed.
"Right, Rosie… are you ready for this? I'm going to tell you a story now, a real story. One much better than from that silly book Nana and Grandpa Granger brought for you." She looks at me with interest, her chocolate brown eyes wide as she waits for me to continue. Sometimes, I swear she can understand every word we say. I often think though, if she has half the brains her mother has it wouldn't be that surprising if she could understand. I hope for her sake she does have her mother’s brains though. Although on second thoughts, I’m not so sure. I don’t know how I’d cope living with two people that are that much cleverer than me. Arguments would be nearly impossible to win.
"This story is much better because it has bravery, courage and standing up for what is right. Some of the most important traits you can have in life sweetie remember that. Picture the scene, Rosie. Mummy and Daddy had been on a, um... on a… on a treasure hunt! Yes, we'd been on a treasure hunt with Uncle Harry for a long time and we'd finally got back to Hogwarts, the most magical place in the world, having found nearly all the pieces of treasure."
Her eyes light up as she listens to me and I’m feeling quite proud of myself. Who needs a story book I think happily, I totally have this covered. Now I have her undivided attention I think carefully about what exactly I want to tell her. After all, I don't really want to go into all the details of the battle, most of them are too horrible to bring back, even as a light hearted bed time story. I figure the ending is pretty much the best part anyway and so I skip a few bits of the story and get onto the interesting part.
"Once we got there Mummy and Daddy went one way, but Uncle Harry went a different way and he got captured by the bad man,” I gesture towards her wildly with my hands. “The most evil man that ever lived Rosie... his name was Lord Voldemort," I whisper dramatically and see her face flicker with just a shadow of fear. I instantly kick myself for going a little too far; I hate to see that look on my baby girl's face so I quickly attempt to reassure her.
“Don’t panic baby, everything will be okay. Daddy doesn’t let the bad man hurt anyone,” I take her tiny fingers into my own and lightly brush my lips against them. I’m pleased when her face relaxes into the smile I love so much.
“Dada!” She says confidently, always so trusting. It makes my heart swell with love and pride.
“Yes sweetheart, Daddy will always protect you,” I start to stand up, creeping backwards so I can fully act out the rest of the story.
"So Mummy and Daddy searched everywhere but we couldn’t find Uncle Harry anywhere! But suddenly, we heard the bad man laughing outside and so we ran to him with everybody else and there he was with Uncle Harry! We had to get him back!”
Rose looks at me eagerly. It turns out with the right story she’s actually a great audience. She is literally hanging on to my every word.
“So, of course Daddy wants to save Uncle Harry, but before Daddy can do anything, Uncle Neville goes charging up to the bad man like a nutter and shouts something like give us Uncle Harry back! We will never join you! Dumbledore’s Army!” I punch the air just as Neville did that night, standing in front of one of the darkest wizards that ever lived. The man was bloody barmy that night, brilliant but barmy. I’m still in awe of what he did now. Rose sits clapping at my performance, stealing my attention back so I keep going.
“Well, as you can imagine, Rosie, the bad man didn’t like that. He didn’t like it one bit, so he set his horrible pet snake onto Uncle Neville!” I grab one of Rosie’s other teddies and slowly bring it towards me with a frightened look on my face. I’m seriously impressed with my acting skills by this point; I can see Rose is literally lapping up my every word.
“But Uncle Neville wasn’t scared for a second. He grabbed his sword…” I quickly draw my wand out of my back pocket, “…and chopped the snakes head off!” I swish my wand at the teddy, sending it flying across the other side of the room in a shower of green sparks. I look back at Rose with a grin on my face and she smiles back at me, clapping excitedly once again.
I laugh at her. “Yes, Rosie. This is where Daddy starts to fight! In fact, everyone starts fighting to stop the bad man!” I start jumping around the room like an idiot now, allowing small coloured streaks of light to leave my wand as I aim at nothing in particular. I don’t care if I look stupid though, Rosie is laughing her head off at me and if she finds me funny, that’s all that matters.
“Take that, and that, and that! Oh no, you don’t! You leave him alone! You’ll never stop us! Get off! Hey ya!” I keep slashing my wand through the air fighting with invisible Death Eaters. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself as I continue to dance around the room. I’m casting spells at Death Eaters from all sides twirling around and around until I do one last spin that leaves me facing the doorway to Rosie’s bedroom.
Stood in the doorway, leaning casually against the wooden frame with folded arms and that look on her face that’s somewhere between annoyed and amused at me is the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on. I freeze for a second, then follow her gaze that’s staring at the wand still in my hand and poised ready to strike the next Death Eater that dared to lay a hand on me. Her eyebrows raise just a fraction, and I instantly stand up and stuff my wand back into my back pocket.
“Is this your idea of a bed time story, Ronald?”
I smile gingerly and run my fingers through my hair. “Maybe…”
“So how does it end, you bold Gryffindor you?”
“Er… and then all the bad people went away and we won? The end.” I say tentatively. She still doesn’t look impressed but I can see a smile playing on her lips so I know I won’t be in too much trouble. It’s better not to throw fuel onto the fire though so I quickly add, “Come on Rosie, let’s tuck you into bed.” I turn back around to Rose and have to smile at the thoroughly disappointed look she has on her face now all the action has stopped. I swirl her all the way to her cot and lay her down carefully.
As I stand back up slender arms wrap their way around my waist and I automatically lift my arm so I can tuck Hermione neatly underneath. She fits there perfectly, like we’re two pieces of a puzzle.
“I hope you realise how lucky you are my sweetheart. Even though your Daddy is very silly, he loves you very much. He fought bravely so that you and Mummy can live safely.” Hermione rests her head on my shoulder and I can honestly say I’m the happiest man on the planet in that moment. I have everything I could ever want and everything I’ll ever need.
Rose gurgles softly but I can tell we’re losing her now. Her eyes droop in that cute way they do when she’s tired. I kiss Hermione on the forehead as we watch her, just like I do so often to Rose. She sighs to herself contently.
“So, I take it Cinderella wasn’t quite good enough for you?” She murmurs quietly so she doesn’t disturb Rose.
“We started it but Rose got bored and so I had to improvise. I think she liked my story better though,” I reply and she just laughs softly.
“I’m sure she did.”
We both stand there for a minute or two, watching our little girl sleep soundly. If I’m honest, I’m still astounded that something so amazing and precious could be my daughter. Yet there she is; the perfect mix of Hermione and me, if that’s even possible.
“Come on, we should leave her to sleep.” Hermione finally whispers, pulling away from me. I know she’s right but I can’t help but want to resist. I don’t want my perfect moment to end. We both bend down and place a kiss on Rose’s red curls before Hermione grabs my fingers and gently tugs me toward the door. I take one last look back at my baby girl fast asleep before closing the door behind us.
“She’s going to a special one,” Hermione says, pride filling her tone.
“That she is,” I answer back simply. There’s no doubt in my mind she’s right.
“Oh, and Ronald?”
“Please don’t tell my mother Rose doesn’t like the book she brought. I know you’re not the most tactful of individuals at times.”
I smile at her. “Right you are dear.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you could spare the time to leave a small review in the box below, I would appreciate it more than you can know.
This was written for the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin review battle 2014! Thank you to nott theodore for giving this a quick beta for me.
The ending was inspired by the film Zorro if any of you have read that!
Cinderella is a folk tale that has been retold many times but the most popular versions were published by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.
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