"Ginny, I'm convinced I've tried every dress in the United Kingdom. It's sorted, I'm not going." Hermione said, frustrated. She dropped her hands to her sides and looked over at Ginny. Ginny returned Hermione's gaze with sympathy.
"What about Harrod's, Hermione? We haven't looked there yet!" Ginny offered hopefully.
"The wedding is in two weeks. I don't want to wear dress robes like an old hag and I've yet to find a dress that doesn't make me look huge. I just give up." Hermione replied.
Ginny bit her bottom lip. "That last one, the blue…was…ok…" She wished she sounded more convincing.
Hermione put her hands on her hips, "Ginny, I thought Captain Ahab was going to chase me out of the changing room with a harpoon." She said flatly.
Ginny's shoulders started shaking as she held her laughter in but she soon broke out in good-natured laughter and Hermione joined her.
"It wasn't as bad at that!" Ginny said wiping her eyes on her sleeve.
"Well it wasn't great." Hermione replied. She rested a hand on her belly and turned to the side, observing herself in the unforgiving mirror. "You didn't show this early on with Albus, did you?"
Ginny shrugged, "It's different for everyone but typically, you show more quickly after the first one. My nephew is going to be a big baby." Ginny said with a smirk.
"Why are you so sure it's a boy?" Hermione inquired. For weeks now, Ron and she had both been referring to the baby as "her" and "she".
"Just a feeling I have. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong." Ginny said. "You just look like you're carrying a boy to me."
A shorter blonde woman paused near them. She smiled at Hermione. "I don't mean to eavesdrop, but I agree with your friend. You're all belly! From behind it doesn't even look like you're expecting!" Ginny nodded at the woman.
"I didn't look this big until 5 or 6 months along when I was pregnant with Rose…" Hermione asked, catching her reflection in the mirror. She turned to view her profile.
Ginny hesitated. "Oh, no Hermione. You weremuch bigger with Rosie." Hermione shot her a look.
"Thanks ever so much, Ginny." She said, her words dripping with sarcasm.
"No, I mean…well…you weren't huge or anything but, your hips were rounder."
The older woman nodded her head. "That's the old wives' tale. Girls make you gain all over, boys make you glow. You, my dear, are glowing." She added before smiling sweetly at them and continuing on her way.
"What am I going to do, Gin?" Hermione asked, crossing her arms over her chest. "Neville's getting married, I have to go!"
"We'll find something. Pregnant women go to weddings looking beautiful all the time. I'm not going to let you go wearing a circus tent, I promise." Ginny said sweetly.
Her attention drawn back to her reflection, Hermione sighed.
"Just look at them, Ginny. They're huge. I swear I'm about to start mooing." Hermione joked with her hands on her breasts.
Ginny laughed, "And I'll just bet my brother is enjoying every second of it."
"It's the only time he's really seen me with actual breasts." Hermione joked.
Ginny put her arm around Hermione's shoulder and they looked at themselves in the mirror. She bumped Hermione's hip with her own. "Harrod's. Come on. The boys have had the kids all by themselves all day long, do you know what a wreck my flat is going to be?"
"Jamie – where does Mummy keep the extra baby powder?" Ron called out from Lily's nursery.
"Dunno!" James replied.
"Well, where does she put the dirty nappies?" Ron asked.
"Dunno!" James answered again.
Ron grumbled under his breath as he held Lily's legs in the air. He'd gotten the worst of it done. A nappy explosion of the first order. He and Harry were in the middle of trying to prepare lunch when they both nosed the situation emanating from Lily as she squealed and giggled in the bouncer.
"Not it!" Harry yelled as he touched his finger to the tip of his nose. Ron groaned.
"Aw, come on! I just kept Rose and Al from climbing the bookcase – I'm a hero! I shouldn't have to be on Nappy Duty."
"All's fair in love and war, mate!" Harry said, keeping his finger to his nose. With his free hand he added raw pasta to the pot of water that had boiled over on the stove.
"Harry!" Ron called out. He heard footsteps rushing down the hallway. Harry ducked his head into the room.
"Powder?" Ron asked shaking the empty container.
"One minute." Harry ducked out again and returned with a fresh container. He handed it to Ron who shook some onto Lily.
"And where do you put that lot?" Ron gestured with his chin to Lily's fouled nappy.
Harry wrinkled up his nose and carried it to a covered pail in the corner of the room.
"Aw, fucking shit." Ron said, stomping his foot. "Lily, naughty girl." Ron said sweetly to the giggling baby.
"What?" Harry asked, approaching.
"What was it you said? Oh, I believe it was- NOT IT!" Ron said handing Lily to Harry and touching the tip of his nose with his finger.
Harry looked down on the changing table and groaned.
"No way! Not fair! You clean that! You didn't get the fresh nappy on fast enough!"
"Sorry, mate – can't hear you – don't want the noodles sticking together!" Ron said as he rushed to wash his hands and attend to lunch.
"Lily, you were supposed to wee on Uncle Ron, not on your changing table." Harry said, teasingly. He nuzzled his nose against Lily's and she tapped her chubby hands on his head.
After she was clean and dry, Harry slipped a lightweight dress over Lily's head and carried her on his hip back into the kitchen. Ron was straining the cooked spaghetti in the sink.
"Don't forget, the boys like it with only butter, Ron." Harry reminded him. He put Lily down on the floor and she immediately flipped onto her stomach, determined to crawl.
"How many shops do you reckon they've gone to?" Ron asked Harry as they cleared the lunch things away.
Once back at home Hermione put her new dress in the closet. Ginny had been right, Harrod's had a much better selection of non-tenty dresses.
Ron and Rose were playing in the living room. Hermione heard her daughter's squealing laugh which told her that Ron was probably tickling the daylights out of her.
She leaned against the wall with her arms crossed over her chest and watched them. Laying on his back Ron lifted Rose up in the air and she held her arms out as if she was flying.
"Chudley Cannons new star, the amazing Rosie Posey!" He said mimicking the voice of Chudley's announcer. "The greatest Keeper Chudley's ever seen!"
He placed her feet back on the carpet: and she immediately said, "Again, Daddy!" Ron laughed and had her back in the air, narrating the athletic exploits of Rosie Posey, champion Keeper.
Hermione cleared her throat and Ron tilted his head back and saw her. His lopsided smile made her giggle.
"Did you two have fun today at Uncle Harry's?"
Rose nodded enthusiastically. "Me 'n Albie cwimed the books, Mummy!"
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "You did, did you? And where was Daddy?"
"Daddy was keeping James from setting fire to the whole place with a book of matches Aunt Ginny left in the kitchen. I swear, why they bother with matches at all is beyond me. We spent our whole adolescence looking forward to the day we could use magic for everything and now that we can, they're doing things the bloody Muggle way." Ron said. He started pulling faces at Rose to make her laugh.
"So, I'm afraid to ask but how high on that bookshelf did they actually get?"
Ron considered for a moment. "Oh, not very high. Only about…to my knee. Maybe mid-thigh."
As the bookcase was taller than Ron, Hermione decided it wasn't the time to lecture Ron about keeping a closer eye on Rose. She knew how hard he tried.
"Did you find a dress you like?" Ron asked, getting up from the floor. He held Rose on his hip and she snuggled into his chest.
Hermione nodded. "I like it well enough. I can't wait to get my figure back. Buying clothes at this size is terribly depressing. No one will be looking at my anyhow, they'll all be looking at the bride."
Ron leaned down and kissed her swollen belly. "Hi, Baby. Be nice to Mummy. Tell Mummy she's gorgeous. Tell Mummy that Daddy won't be looking at Hannah; he only has eyes for the cute know-it-all he fell in love with at school."
Hermione put a hand on her hip and smirked at Ron. "Why thank you." Rose wiggled around in his arms, indicating that she wanted to be put down. He lowered her feet to the floor and patted her head before she ran down the hall to her bedroom.
"Welcome. We're going to have a grand old time, Mione. You'll look beautiful as always. I'm really happy for Neville. Hannah is a sweet girl, I like them together. Good to know he's getting some at long last."
They laughed. "I have to say, I agree with you. Once Neville blossomed…he did it rather nicely." Hermione said with a grin.
"Eh? You trying to tell me something?" Ron asked, pretending to be offended.
"Not at all. If anyone besides Harry is like a brother to me, it's Neville. He was nice to me when no one else was – present company included." She shot back with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I was a stupid git. I made up for it, didn't I?"
"Yes you did, my love."