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Chapter 76 : Year 8: Rosie
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It had been exactly three minutes and twenty-seven seconds since a silver otter with a message had appeared in Ron’s office at the Ministry. During this time, Ron had spilled an entire bottle of ink over the report he had been working on, cussed loudly, and run all the way to the lifts. Only once he stepped inside one did he realise that he had left his wand on his desk and had to rush back and get it. He Apparated from the atrium to a small meadow behind his house, and sprinted all the way into the orange kitchen—only to find Hermione at the table, eating yoghurt and greeting him with a relaxed smile as he skidded in through the back door.
“What are you doing?” he shouted accusingly, panting for air as he leaned against the kitchen island.
“Filling up on energy,” said Hermione, smiling again as she brought a spoonful of yoghurt to her mouth. “I reckon I will need it tonight.”
“Have you lost your mind?” Ron exclaimed, still breathing heavily. “I thought you were supposed to be in labour!”
“I am,” Hermione nodded. “I’m between contractions. Which is why I need the energy, by the way. So I can get this baby from in here,” she made a gesture towards her round stomach, “out here.”
Ron looked as if his head was about to explode. “Why aren’t you freaked out then?” he bellowed. “The baby’s not supposed to be here for another month!”
“Oh, that’s perfectly normal,” Hermione assured him, filling up her spoon once again. “Why don’t you get something to eat too? We might have a long night ahead.”
As was often the case—anoyingly often—she was right. It was a very long night; in fact, Hermione couldn’t remember one that had felt longer. Ron was on the verge of losing it because Hermione wasn’t twisting in pain, and then, when she actually had another contraction, he was so upset he forgot to eat altogether. Once the Healer arrived at their house at three in the morning, both him and Hermione were near tears; Hermione because she felt as though someone was trying to rip her body in two, and Ron because he couldn’t help her.
It was when Ron asked Healer Blishwick for the forth time if he was dead sure that the baby was big enough to survive on its own that Hermione had enough. She sat up in bed, ignoring her husband’s and Healer’s loud protests, stood up, and raised her index finger, her face almost as red as Ron’s ears.
“Will you just stop? You sound like you’re the one in pain—not to mention that you look like you’re about to faint any second now—but in case you haven’t noticed, I’m in labour, not you! So quit complaining and just be quiet for a while, will you?”
Ron did shut up for a good ten minutes or so, but then he went back to rambling, and Hermione went back to wanting to curse him, but the pain had become even worse, and she was not about to stand up on her feet again then.
It seemed to go on forever. Hermione had read every book she had got her hands on about pregnancy in the last year or so, but nothing could have prepared her for how utterly exhausting it was. Everything hurt, and every bit of her wanted to stop; so many women had told her that once it was over, she was going to forget it had ever hurt so badly. She did not believe it for a second.
And then the baby entered the world, and everything was silent.
Until there was a cry. “She’s got strong lungs, I’ll tell you that,” chuckled Healer Blishwick, and he placed the baby on her chest, and Hermione was already forgetting the pain.
She had only held her for a few seconds, but she already knew her. She knew that tiny little nose, which was probably going to be long and full of freckles one day. Hermione knew the way her daughter furrowed her brow as she blinked up at them. She knew her tiny lips, all ten of her fingers and all ten of her toes, and she had always known them; she had been missing her so badly for so long, and now she was there. She was holding her daughter for the first time, and though they had never met, all Hermione felt was overjoy over finally meeting her again.
As for Ron, there may have been a time when his emotions had fit into a teaspoon, but what he felt when he bent down to kiss his little girl’s forehead was immensely bigger. She was almost bald, and slightly blue, and her arms and legs were worryingly thin, but every tiny bit of her was perfect.
“Here’s the library—if you’re anything like your mum we’ll have to drag you out of here when you’re older—and you know that room, that’s where you were born… And this is your very own nursery. You’re fine in our room for a while, Rosie, but if you ever want a brother or a sister, you’re going to have to move out one day…”
Hermione smiled from her spot on the couch, from which she had a perfect view over Ron walking in and out of the rooms down the corridor; he was giving Rose her first proper tour of her home. She had been crying for the past half hour, until Ron had discovered that carrying her around was the only thing that seemed to soothe her, so there he was now, cradling her in his arms and telling her in detail about every little corner of the house.
Hermione was battered, as though she had been in a physical fight (not that she had ever actually been in one, but she imagined that getting beaten up felt quite similar to having given birth). Everything was sore, but she had never been more grateful for pain in her life.
She was currently crawled up on her couch next to her father, with her head on his shoulder and his arm around her. The Healer had told them that morning that the infection risk was much lower now, and maybe they could have a few people over to see the baby soon. Mr Granger had driven to Maple Crest as soon as Hermione had called. There was something beautiful, Hermione thought, about resting her head on her father’s shoulder while they both watched her own daughter, her tiny little baby who was going to grow up and always get to rest her head on them both.
Ron and Hermione had argued over it for a few days before finally agreeing on the name Rose. Ron liked it, because it was as close to his suggestion—Ronnie—as Hermione would go. Hermione liked it because it reminded her of the colour red, which reminded her of Ron; and it went well with the middle name that had been obvious from the start. Emily, like Hermione’s mum.
Hermione grieved her mother in a new way since Rose was born. Before Healer Blishwick placed her baby on her chest, all smudgy and blue and helpless, she had never known how much a mother could love her child. She had never truly known how much her own mother had always loved her until that moment.
The grief she had felt in the first few months after Mrs Granger died had been violent, almost suffocating. It had caused her to break down in tears or have horrible anxiety attacks, but it was different now, even more so in the last few days. It was a quiet spectator, just walking next to Hermione wherever she went; a cold hand touching her cheek every now and then and reminding her of what she had lost.
When she looked at Rose, or when Ron came over and placed her in Mr Granger’s arms and Hermione saw the pain she was feeling too in her father’s eyes, she knew that she would have given anything for her mother to be there. Mrs Granger was only going to be a story to Rose; she was never going to know her, and just the thought of that was enough to break Hermione’s heart.
That same evening, Harry would get to meet his goddaughter for the first time, and for a little while when he was holding her, he was going to forget his troubles. But he had a few more hours at work before he would receive Ron’s owl, and they were far from as peaceful as the evening ahead.
There hadn’t been any apparent changes at the Ministry since the new minister had taken office. Harry, however, had been very concerned about what might be going on in the Department of Mysteries, and had spent almost the entire week trying to find an Unspeakable who was willing to talk to him about it. So far, his attempts had been unsuccessful, and Seamus Finnegan had suggested that afternoon that maybe they should give up.
And just then, Gawain Robards had called for a meeting at the Auror Office, where he informed them of some new duties that they had been assigned. It was with an ominous feeling in his gut that Harry joined the others at the large wooden table in one of the head offices.
“Unfortunately, Minister Burke couldn’t be here himself,” Gawain said, stroking his unusually unruly beard as he took a seat at the end of the table. “But he is starting up the process of making a new registry of Squibs in the country, and he has assigned us Aurors the task of bringing them into the Ministry upon request.”
“To do what?” asked Hestia Jonas sceptically.
“Perform tests, at this stage,” Gawain replied. His voice was flat, as if he was reading out loud and didn’t really believe his own words. “And eventually get the magical gene transplant, as I understand it.”
“No,” said Harry loudly. “Burke’s whole agenda is absolute madness, and I won’t be part of it.”
“Me neither!” said Seamus Finnegan, who was sitting a few chairs away from Harry. “I don’t care if he won the election. He’s a real git, isn’t he?”
A few people hummed agreeingly, and Gawain grimaced, as if he was trying to keep himself from speaking to soon. Then, taking a deep breath, he said:
“I hear you. The only problem is, Burke is my superior now. He’s your superior too, and I have no choice but to pass on his orders to you.”
“But we do have a choice!” Harry exclaimed. “We have a choice about whether or not we submit his orders, or speak up against what’s obviously wrong! A registry for Squibs? That sounds a lot like the Muggle-Born Commission to me. Which was set up by—please, remind me—oh wait, I think I do remember. It was set up by Lord Voldemort.”
“Harry,” said Gawain sharply. “I think you’ve made your standpoint clear. Your job as an Auror, however, is not to take sides. And we must all remember—“
Before he could finish the sentence, there was a knock on the door. Gawain stood up again and strode over to open it. Harry was too busy clenching his fists to pay attention to the new visitor until the Head Auror spoke again.
“Ah, if it isn’t our new Head of Administrive Registration. The Aurors that do end up working with the Squibs will also be working side by side with Mr Weasley here.”
And he took a step aside to reveal the tall, thin man standing in the doorway, wearing a perfect set of new robes and neatly combed hair. It was Percy.
“Yes,” said Harry’s brother-in-law now, walking past Gawain to the end of the table, where he stopped, straightened his back and let his gaze sweep over the faces staring up at him. “I am sure that this cooperation between our offices will go smoothly and effectively, to the best of Minister Burke’s wishes. I’ve got a new office just down the corridor from you, and I want you to know that my door is always open.”
Harry caught himself gaping in amazement. He had never been Percy’s biggest fan, but he would have never taken him for a Burke supporter. He certainly liked him better now than when they were younger; but the Percy standing in front of the Aurors now, proud as a peacock over his promotion, reminded Harry much more of Percy fresh out of Hogwarts than the new version of him they had all come to know after the war. Ginny would drag him out of here and scold him if she were here, Harry thought.
But he wasn’t Ginny, and maybe there was a reason Gawain was telling him to play along. Harry considered himself as one of the people who knew the Head Auror best, after all, and he was fairly sure that his submissive behaviour was an act. Percy may have surprised him, but there was no way Gawain Robards was truly on board with Hamish Burke and his grand ideas, Harry was sure of it…
So he remained quiet while Percy continued to talk, but couldn’t help but hurry after him when he walked out. Harry waited until the door to the rest of the Aurors slammed shut behind him, and then he called out, “Percy!”
Percy turned around, smiling faintly at his sister’s husband as he raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”
“What… what was that?” asked Harry, still clinging to the hope that it was all a big joke, because what was he going to tell Ginny? It would crush her if Percy let the family down again; Harry wasn’t so sure that she would be as forgiving a second time. And then there was Mrs Weasley. Mrs Weasley really didn’t deserve fragmentation in the family, not again, so it had to be a joke…
But Percy looked uncomprehensive as he blinked at Harry and shook his head. “I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about, Harry. I do hope our personal relationship won’t affect us working together, though. You could always request to work elsewhere in the Auror Office, if it bothers you. I better hurry off now, though. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s been a busy week.”
And he turned on his heel and scurried down the empty corridor, leaving Harry standing just outside the door to the head office and shaking his head to himself. After everything that had happened in the last months, from Burke being elected Minister, to Ron and Hermione having their baby much sooner than expected—this was the biggest surprise of them all.
Harry was still contemplating whether he should tell Ron a few hours later, when he was sitting in Ron and Hermione’s living room with baby Rose in his arms. Ginny had met up with him in London that afternoon after dropping the boys off with her mother, and he just hadn’t been able to tell her then. She was currently sat at the dining table with Hermione, Ron and Mr Granger; Rose had just woken up crying, and Harry had volunteered to sit with her while the others finished their food.
Ron had begun to suspect that something was going on in the Department of Mysteries just when Albus had been born, Harry recalled. But he hadn’t told Harry, because he had wanted him to focus on nothing else but his family. It was only fair that Harry gave Ron the same time with his wife and daughter.
“But this concerns his brother too,” Harry mumbled to Rose, who seemed to be falling asleep again on his chest, and he couldn’t help but smile at her, despite of the mess that was spinning around in his head. “You’re more important though,” he added, stroking her little cheek with the back of his hand as his smile grew wider. “You’re the most important thing in his world, really. So I guess I need to figure this out on my own, don’t I? At least for a few more days, until your daddy comes back to work.”
“Has she got anything interesting to say?”
Harry looked up and found that Hermione was on her way over to them, and he smiled and moved over to make room for her on the couch. “Lots,” he told her. “I wouldn’t expect otherwise from any child of yours, though.”
“Oh, rubbish,” Hermione grinned. “Do you know anyone who goes on and on about things you’re not the least bit interested in more than I do?”
“Well, there’s always Percy!” Ron called from over the table, and there was a strange pain in Harry’s stomach, but he still laughed with the others and looked down at Rose again. Yes, he thought, he was going to have to figure out how to tell Ginny, and he was going to need Ron’s help eventually—but for now, his new little niece was the most important thing in the world, and he wasn’t going to tear his best mate away from her until he absolutely had to. After all, she was only going to be a few days old for a few days, and Ron should get to be there for all of them.
A/N: As always: thank you so much for reading this. And for writing reviews. You are all lovely, I hope you know that!
I would love to hear your thoughts on Rosie's arrival, and Percy. Did he surprise you?
Also, one you left a review telling me how you introduced your brother to Harry Potter recently, and it just made me feel so nostalgic and I realized (yet again) why I love the stories so much. When I was very young, my mum read the first books to me and my brother, and I was so wrapped up in that world and so sure that I would get a letter from Hogwarts when I turned 11. I even remember my brother teasing me about it. My reponse was, well, we know you're a Muggle, don't we, because you're 12 and you never got your letter!
Then we got a little older and read the rest of the books on our own. Whenever a new one was released, we would argue over who would get to read it first (it was always him, because he was older and a faster reader). He would then tease me and say he was going to spoil the ending, or let it slip who dies and who kiss each other at the end, and I was always furious but he never did spoil it.
And last month, my brother was in London with his girlfriend and called me when they were at the HP Studio tour, because he needed to know what Hogwarts house I was in, and when he got home he had bought me this Hufflepuff keyring. And somehow it was one of the sweetest things he's ever done because Harry Potter reminds me so much of our childhood and our relationship, and I think that's part of what made the books so special to me.
To anyone making it this far in the author's note, I'm impressed! And would love to hear about your memories of the books and movies. Did you discover them recently, or did you grow up reading them as well?
Oh, and in case I forgot to say it, you're amazing. Thank you for reading this story!! Xxx
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