Chapter 3 : Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
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"I still can't believe you brought him here with you," said Ron after Harry explained the reason he had brought baby Duncan to school. "They weren't the nicest people to you, were they? Why should you care?"
"I care simply because I'm related to him and that I don't want to be related to a Voldemort type person," said Harry exasperatedly. He pressed his fingers against his temple, as if the conversation is giving him a headache. "And I'm not about to help creating another one either. He is my cousin after all. Now, Ron, don't ask any more questions. Tell us about your new life as Head Boy. I'm sure you are dying to tell us."
Before Ron had a chance to talk, Hermione interrupted as the baby in her arms began to fall asleep. "Speaking of Voldemort, Harry. I know you'd have to do extra Defense as well as our normal classes to prepare for any possible battles. And now you have a baby to take care of. You’ll be worked to death. How are you going to manage that? Your time will be all cut up. I doubt you could find a nanny for Duncan during class time, not to mention your extra Defense class’s time. What if Voldemort really turned up? Where would you put Duncan if you have to fight? Have you thought about any of these?"
"No..." replied Harry slowly, his voice full of uncomfort and guilt upon Hermione’s questioning. His eyes gazed at his toes, trying to avoid Hermione’s stern glare. "I haven't thought about Voldemort all holiday...." Suddenly, Harry looked at Hermione pleadingly. "You will help me with Duncan, won't you? I know you've already promised to help, but...."
"Of course I will," answered Hermione briskly. "Honestly, can you think for a moment that I would sleep in peace, knowing that you've got no help with Duncan? And I do assure you I meant every single word I said before. In fact, I should probably ask Professor Dumbledore to get me a room near yours so I could come to your rescue in the middle of the night. Also, I'd have to draw you a carefully organized timetable for you this year. To think that you might even forget to feed Duncan! I would feel sorry for him if he had only you who'd look after him."
Apparently, Hermione had become very emotionally attached to the baby during the short time they had been on the train. She had been holding Duncan in her arms ever since she picked him up in attempt to calm him when the sudden movement of the train frightened him. Duncan smiled and grabbed Hermione’s cheeks lightly during Ron and Harry’s conversation. They were comfortable in each other’s company. When Harry offered to take Duncan off Hermione, it was very difficult to tell whom was less reluctant for Harry to take hold.
Harry gave Hermione a heart-melting smile. "Thank you so much.” He then turned to his other best friend, “What about you, Ron? Will you help me?"
Ron, who had just drawn a large piece of Weasley homemade pumpkin pie out of his pocket and was in the middle of chewing, said, "Ov' cors. Mine' you, I dun' knaw a fin' 'bout baby. I 'ave too 'any frefec' dooties an’way."
With one gulp, Ron swallowed the mouthful. He then burped loudly and contently in Hermione’s direction. He didn’t seem to realize that Hermione was throwing him daggers in her glare. To make the matter worse, Ron snorted and began to pick his nose.
Hermione was absolutely disgusted. "Ron! What a bad example you are before children! Shameful! Burping after eating without so much as a “sorry”! Snorting and picking your nose! Ron, you are the most disgusting creature I’ve ever come across. Where’s your table manners? Imagine what Duncan will do after seeing you doing that a few times! Harry, our friend is going to corrupt your cousin."
Harry smiled bitterly. "As long as Duncan is better than Crabbe and Goyle in terms of intelligence after following Ron's disgusting example, I'll be grateful."
"Humph!" Hermione turned away from the boys and began to mutter inaudibly under her breaths, as the two boys laughed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Harry felt nervous as the Trio, plus a baby in Hermione's arms, she was having too much fun with Duncan to let any take over, walked into the Great Hall of Hogwarts. Harry felt the whole school's eyes were upon Hermione, Duncan and himself. Harry knew that the news of him with a baby had probably traveled around Hogwarts twice already. Secretly he wondered if people would mistake Hermione for Duncan's mother. 'Very likely', he decided, 'just look at Hermione. She looks like a mother with Duncan in her arms.'
Glancing towards the Slytherin table, Harry could see Malfoy laughing among his friends with mirth. Malfoy’s arms moved all over the place as he told his Slytherin comrades tales of his adventure of the train. However, Harry was very glade to see a big bruise on Malfoy’s forehead to back up his tale.
The Trio quickly found themselves seats on the Gryffindor table as the sorting began. The song the Sorting Hat sang woke Duncan from his deep slumber.
“Ah-ah! Yee!” Duncan squealed loudly in the middle of the sorting ceremony. The entire hall of Hogwarts’ students turned their head towards the Gryffindor table. Some students sneered, others shook their heads, before turning back to the sorting. Hermione apologized to other students, while Harry patted and shushed Duncan, trying to make him quiet. Not really picking up the signals, he gurgled loudly as he stuck his fingers into his mouth.
“Ya… yah!” Duncan grabbed a handful of saliva from his mouth and smeared Parvati’s, the nearest person sitting on the other side of Hermione, sleeves with it.
“Yuck! Disgusting! That’s my brand new robe!” exclaimed Parvati, the unfortunate victim of the moment. She glared at the trio angrily as she moved away from them. She even gave Ron an evil look, who sat on the other side of the table and had nothing to do with this incident. Upon receiving the glare, Ron’s face, already pink when Duncan attracted everyone’s attention, began to steam.
Harry grabbed a napkin from the table and attempted to wipe Duncan’s face with it. Unfortunately, Duncan decided not to cooperate at that moment. He wriggled in Hermione’s arms and made even more noises, while Hermione struggled to keep him from falling off to the floor.
Duncan swatted Harry’s hand with his own saliva-covered hands. “Yee-ah!” he screamed. The voice of the sorting hat was almost drowned as it sorted Katherine Portagal into Ravenclaw.
Harry and Hermione did all they could to try and stop Duncan fretting. They used every method they could think of, including sweet talking, growling and slapping Duncan lightly. It wasn’t until the sorting was over than Duncan stopped moving due to exhaustion.
By this time, both Harry and Hermione, and a few unlucky people sitting around them, were covered in saliva. Hermione’s hair, naturally bushy, was now even more of a mess with Duncan’s saliva acting as hair gel in it.
Harry looked across the table at Ron, who was sitting lower than usual, and mouthed, “Where were you when we needed you?”
"Welcome back to Hogwarts," said Dumbledore as the sorting ended. Duncan’s little eyes darted around, searching for the source of the old professor’s voice. "I'm sure you are all hungry. So, tuck in!"
Food appeared on the table as usual. In front of Harry, there was also a goblet full of milk. Harry gazed at the milk for a minute, trying to remember what Aunt Petunia said about milk. Harry squinted his eyes, regretting not writing everything on paper while the memory was still fresh. Aunt Petunia said the milk can’t be cold, then it must be hot. And where the hell is the milk bottle Aunt Petunia talked about?
“Are you all right?" Hermione’s voice interrupted Harry’s train of thoughts. "Do you mind feeding Duncan while I get some food inside me? We should take turns in feeding. You can eat when I'm finished."
"Feed Duncan? Sure…” Harry mumbled a reply as he took the baby into his arms. Duncan smiled at his cousin, as he did so many times before, while Harry whipped out his wand and summoned the milk bottle. "Accio baby bottle!”
With the bottle in his hand, Harry felt the milk in the goblet. It was stone cold! “Just a little longer, Duncan, I’ll heat up your milk for you,” Harry whispered to the baby, when he stretched out to touch the empty bottle.
After heating the goblet with a heating spell for a few minutes, Harry poured the milk into the bottle and held it near Duncan’s mouth. “Open up, Duncan. Come and try your delicious meal your cousin prepared for you.” Harry was very proud of himself.
Duncan opened his mouth slightly and Harry tipped the milk into his little mouth. "Whoa!" screamed Duncan as a large quantity of boiling milk flow into his mouth. He screamed and spat out the milk as he pushed Harry and the bottle away violently with his little hands.
Duncan's cries immediately drew the attention of the whole school once more. People whispered, giggled and snickered as they watched a clueless Harry, who believed to have followed all instructions respectively, sprayed with milk, holding a crying baby. People on the Slytherin table laughed at Harry, while people on the Gryffindor table looked on with sympathy.
Hermione put down her food and began to dry poor Duncan's face with her napkins. "Harry, what did you do?”
"Er... nothing?" Harry looked around sheepishly. “I did exactly as I was told, you know, heating the milk….”
“Heating the milk? For how long?” Hermione exclaimed as she reached for the bottle. “This is way too hot! Harry, Duncan is a baby, not a teenager like you and me. A lot of things we can stand, he can’t. You must remember this.” She immediately used a cooling charm on the bottle and cooled it to the right temperature. She then handed the bottle back to Harry, who went back to feeding baby. Hermione turned back to her own food, shaking her head as she muttered under her breath, something about what a terrible father would make and what a poor girl his wife-in-the-future would be.
Ron stuffed more food in his mouth and looked away. He was totally embarrassed right from the start, as a friend of Duncan’s cousin. When Harry brought Duncan on the train, Ron only thought it would be difficult to take care of him. Never did he though a baby could behave so badly. He decided his observation of baby’s general behavior, with all the saliva and loud noises, was not good at all and had reached to a conclusion that babies are a million times worse than they look. He vowed that he would never have anything to do with babies.
Dumbledore smiled as he watched Harry, Hermione and Duncan. He nudged McGonagall, who sat beside him, and told her to look at the three. "Minerva, don't they remind you of something?"
McGonagall answered with grave concerns, "I don't know what possessed you to allow Harry Potter to bring a baby to school. You very well know how hard his life is without a baby to worry about. Really, we have enough to think about with all these students as well as the Dark Lord somewhere lurking around. Do we really need a baby here?"
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "You'll see, Minerva. You'll see." He then stood up and the hall fell silent once more. "Seeing that all of you are fed, I'd like to make a few announcements. The Forbidden Forest is, as usual, forbidden to all students. Also, as Mr. Filch would like you all to remember, magic is still not allowed in the corridors. Now, I'd like to announce the head prefects of the year. Please come up, Mr. Ronald Weasley and Miss Susan Bones. Let us give our congratulations to them!"
Harry and Hermione both beamed with pride as their friend walked to the front and took their place with the teachers.
"And as many of you have noticed, there is a baby among us this year.” Lots of people snickered at the obvious. “This baby is Mr. Potter’s baby cousin, little Mr. Duncan Dursley. Due to many reasons and all consideration, Mr. Potter decided that it’s all for the best to have his cousin here with him.”
Draco Malfoy called rudely, “Another Mudblood? Like hell we’d believe that!” He shut up immediately after McGonagall shot him a ten-points-from-Slytherin glare.
Dumbledore ignored Malfoy’s rudeness and continued, “Mr. Potter has promised to keep any inconvenience and disturbance to the minimum. However, he is still adjusting to his new role and responsibility. Please be kind hearted should any inconvenience occur. Can Mr. Potter and Miss Granger come to my office after the feast please? Meanwhile, it's bedtime for the rest of you," finished Dumbledore.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Ah, Mr. Potter, Miss Granger and..." Dumbledore peered at the half asleep Duncan, "Mr. Dursley. Have a seat. Lemon drops?"
"No thanks," Harry eyed Dumbledore nervously before he drew a chair for Hermione and Duncan to sit on first.
Dumbledore popped a Lemon Drop into his own mouth. "As you see, Mr. Potter. I've called you here in concerns of your cousin. As I have written on the letter to you, I would give you a room to yourself but will offer no further help. Your cousin will be your personal responsibility. However, I can see that you are struggling a little bit with the baby. Therefore, I would offer Miss Granger to live in a suite with you and Mr. Dursley. Will you take up the offer?"
Hermione blinked. She wasn’t expecting this. That sort of idea was forming in her mind, but she only wanted to live near, not with, Harry. After all, her relationship with Harry was nothing more than platonic. Perhaps this was the best option she could get, then she must take it up before it was gone. With that in mind, Hermione replied, "Oh, yes, of course. I was planning to ask you to let me live near Harry so I could help. Thank you."
"No problem," smiled Dumbledore. He then turned to Harry, "The Ministry of Magic wanted to be reported and notified about this. I have already written to the Minister of Magic and they are still deciding what to deal with your case. As you know, you are still a child and cannot legally adopt another child. However, this is a special case, with you having a really good reason of doing this and the fact that you are related to Duncan by blood. I will let you know what is happening as soon as I am notified. Meanwhile, good luck with caring for Mr. Dursley and I suggest that you get some rest soon. No matter what, you’ve still got to be prepared physically and mentally for school and everything else. Professor McGonagall will show you your suite. Good night!"
At this precise moment, Duncan opened his eyes and gurgled. "What a beautiful boy," said Dumbledore as Duncan grabbed a handful of his beard. "And look, he has green eyes just like you and your mother, Harry."
For the first time, Harry and Hermione noticed that Duncan possessed a pair of emerald green eyes, not unlike Harry's. Hermione loved Duncan even more, for, secretly, she adored Harry’s green eyes. She sincerely believed that emerald green was the best color anyone could have for their eyes. Harry, on the other hand, was a little worried. He was worried, partly because this will make Malfoy’s version of where Duncan truly come from more believable, partly because it made him realize how much Duncan was similar to himself. Harry just couldn’t help but think what this could mean. The two smiled as they waved goodnight to their Headmaster and headed out of the office to find McGonagall and their new suite.
"A perfect family," murmured Dumbledore as Harry and Hermione walked away.
A/N: Sorry, this chapter took me ages to produce and I know I promised a quick update last time. However, I had my mid-term exam at the beginning of this month. My previous Beta was getting way too busy to Beta for me any more. So, it took me even longer to find a new Beta. Nevertheless, here's your next chapter and I must add my thanks to Laurie for being my Beta. Hopefully, the next chapter will come out fast this time. A thousand apologies to my readers.
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