July 28th, 2010

Twenty-nine years, eleven months, and twenty-eight days.

Neville had always expected the thirtieth year of his life to be terrible. Didn't everyone? He knew exactly why the number thirty had struck him. He could clearly recall being eight years old, still shaking from being thrown out a window and triggering his accidental magic, and being taken to visit his parents at St. Mungo's to celebrate the fact that he wasn't a squib. It just so happened that his father's birthday was that week, and what a gift it would be to be told that he hadn't fathered a magical dud. Neville counted the birthday candles on the cake that his father stared at—unlit because fire wasn't allowed in the Janus Thickey Ward and for good reason. Thirty candles. Neville couldn't imagine being thirty. It looked terrible.

He learned better as he grew, of course, that thirty was just another number and nothing to be anxious about. However, Hermione would have quite a bit to say on the subject since she'd been thirty for just over nine months and got the most adorable crinkle on the bridge of her nose if she was reminded of it.

Ignoring the weird creaking noise in his right knee as he stood, pulling himself up against the fence surrounding Hagrid's pumpkin patch, Neville dusted his dirty hands off on his trousers and made for the castle. Seeds were planted, seedlings repotted, plants that needed harvesting had been harvested, and flowers that needed a little attention had been thoroughly entertained by tales of his youth, of his worries for the incoming first years, and of his concern for Hermione's stress levels since she'd expanded her research team to another ten people, including two from France and another from America, who were eager to learn the key to curing squibs.

She'd been running herself ragged for weeks. He was determined that once she'd properly recovered from the busy schedule that week, he'd lock her in their room and redden her arse until she was begging for mercy and promising to take it easy on herself.

Flooing home was easier than walking, and he made the excuse that since he was almost thirty he could do with just a little less strenuous activity. His creaking knee agreed. Kicking off his boots against the fireplace, he winced when mud fell onto the carpet. Looking around to make sure Hermione wasn't there to catch it, Neville flicked his wand and vanished the dirt.

Walking further into the cottage, he spotted the note on the dining room table.

Meet me at St. Mungo's. Labor and Delivery!

Eyes wide, Neville grinned and ran back through the Floo, forgetting his boots in the process.

"Where the hell have you been?!" Draco snapped when Neville stepped out of the lift wearing his professor's robes and mismatched socks. "And . . . no," Draco said, shaking his head and gesturing to all of Neville, "I'm not going to bother addressing this."

"I was at work," Neville defended himself, leaning down to pick up Scorpius. "Your daddy's a grump sometimes."

Scorpius giggled. "I'm three!"

"I know that, bud, I was at your birthday party," Neville said, following Draco down the hallway.

Astoria sat in a chair outside of a room reading a copy of the Daily Prophet discussing the Puddlemere versus Holyhead Quidditch game that occurred the night before. The headline read: Wood versus Weasley. He'd read the paper that morning, a ridiculous article speculating that Ginny and Oliver Wood had brought the supposed drama of their divorce—which Neville knew had been perfectly amicable—into the game. The Harpies had won by two hundred points, and Ginny was being lauded as a woman who'd risen above the oppressive nature of a more-famous-than-her ex-husband.

Astoria looked up as he, Draco, and Scorpius approached, putting the paper down on a table next to her. "Good! You made it. Hermione was worried."

"How's everything going in there?" he asked, handing Scorpius over to his mother.

"It was pretty loud for a while," Astoria answered. "The baby arrived about two hours ago. Perfectly healthy and perfectly magical."

"Not that it matters," Draco mumbled as he took a seat beside her, ruffling Scorpius's hair.

Neville knocked once on the door before cracking it open, looking for his wife. She was sitting in a large chair in the corner of the room, a tiny bundle in her arms. He smiled at the sight and slowly approached her, quietly closing the door behind him. "Boy or girl?"

She looked up and grinned. "Girl."

Neville chuckled softly. "Trouble."

"Don't you know it."

Neville peeked over her shoulder and beamed down at the babe in her arms. "How'd it go?"

She nodded her head, gesturing to the other side of the room, where Theo and Dennis were passed out together in one large chair; Romilda Vane, their surrogate, was asleep in the bed. "She'd been having false labour for several days, so none of them have been sleeping well. Mandy gave them all a mild Sleeping Draught and I promised to look after the baby while they rested."

"You thinking about having one of our own?" he asked her, watching as Theo and Dennis's daughter sucked on her fist. They'd talked about it over the years on occasion, but for one reason or another it just never felt the right time to get the test done. Neville was perfectly content to be the favourite uncle to Harry's, Draco's, and Ron's kids. Hermione was overjoyed to be named godmother to the little girl in her arms. It helped that for the majority of the year, Neville looked after several hundred children, and Hermione every so often came up to the school as a guest lecturer.

"I think we'll have our hands full," she said.

Raising a brow, Neville asked, "Are you . . .?"

Hermione snorted and shook her head. "Goodness, no. If I even suspected that I was pregnant, I wouldn't have let you do that thing you did last night."

Neville sighed happily. "I like that thing."

"I know you do," she teased and kissed him when he leant down to brush his nose against hers. "Actually, I think I've finally decided to step out of the research side of things. The serum is fully integrated at St. Mungo's, and other than needing to train people coming in from other Ministries, there's not much left for me to do."

His eyes brightened. "You're going to take Minerva up on her offer?"

Hermione grinned. "I'll start shadowing Septima when the new term starts."

Neville hugged her around the shoulders, careful not to disturb the baby. "I am so proud of you. It'll be great seeing you in the castle every day."

"Mmm," she agreed. "Eating all three meals together, patrolling the halls . . ."

"Broom cupboards?" he asked suggestively.

She smirked. "I was thinking Room of Requirement. Can you imagine the possibilities?"

His heart fluttered.

Thirty was going to be phenomenal.