Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me.

Author's Notes: Sorry for the delay. Surgery was had, time passed, it's here now;) Enjoy, and thanks so much for all your kind reviews...they mean so much.


Until Such A Time

by Kristen Elizabeth


"Here, love. Bite down on this." Harry ran a piece of ice Emma had retrieved from the freezer across his wife's lips. "You need to keep hydrated, too."

"You bite the ice," Hermione snapped. "I'm trying to keep your spawn from splitting me open."

He tried to smile. "So, when the baby's being a pain, it's my spawn?"

The contraction faded away a moment later and Hermione let out a long sigh of relief. "Oh god, Harry. I thought that one was never going to pass."

"But it did," he soothed. "And soon it'll all be over and we'll have our baby." Harry tried, but he couldn't keep himself from sneaking a look at Emma just then. She was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, staring at the laboring woman with a complete look of shock.

"And you'll be here for it." Tears wet her cheeks. "I was so worried, Harry. I didn't know what happened to you. I thought...all sorts of horrible things."

"Shh." He smoothed her hair back from her forehead. "I'll explain everything that I can as soon as possible. Right now, we need to call for someone. A medi-wizard...a Muggle ambulance...we can't do this without help."

But Hermione wasn't entirely listening to him. Her attention had also suddenly turned to the strange girl watching her. "Harry, darling...who is that?"

"Um..." Harry cleared his throat. "That's...Emma."

His wife struggled to sit up a bit more. "Let me be more specific. How do you know her and why is she here?"

As Harry searched for an answer, Emma blinked and stepped forward. "It's complicated, Mu...um...Mrs. Potter. Basically...I come from the place where your husband's been during...the time he was gone." She smiled tightly. "Mr. Potter, can we talk? In the kitchen?"

Harry looked back at Hermione. "Will you be all right for a moment?"

"I'll survive."

He stood up from his kneeling position next to the couch. "I'll be right back. If you need anything, call out." Harry picked up his wife's hand and brought it up to his lips. "I love you, Hermione."

"I love you, too, Harry," she whispered.

In the kitchen, Emma was working on a massive panic attack. "What have I done?" she repeated several times as she paced back and forth. "I'm here...I should be there. But I don't want to be there. She's dead there. But here, she doesn't know me...doesn't want me around." She glanced up at her father. "And I'm about to witness my own birth!!"

"Emma, calm down," Harry ordered. "Look, we'll get everything straightened out as soon as the baby...er...you, I guess...as soon as you're born. All right?"

Wiping away hot tears, Emma sniffed. "Yeah." Her lower lip trembled suddenly. "She's so young...and beautiful. I never knew what she went through for me."

"And she did it without me," Harry said. "Emma, do you realize that we've already altered the order of the future? I'm here...I'm going to be here when you're born. In your past, I wasn't."

"But..." She hesitated. "You'll still have to face Voldemort."

"And Ron." Harry blinked. "That's it. I'll send for Ron."

Emma stared at her father. "You're joking. Right?" In response, Harry reached for the old-fashioned Muggle phone sitting on the far end of the counter. "Right?!?"

Harry dialed quickly. He'd bought the two phones early on in Hermione's pregnancy in case of emergency, and given one to Ron, as well as picking up the phone bill and teaching Ron that he didn't need to shout to be heard over it, so they could be in constant contact.

"I can't believe you. Ron is...evil! He killed my mother!! You can't bring him here; who knows what he'll do!" Emma protested.

While the phone rang, Harry leveled his daughter with a look. "In this world, he hasn't gone completely over yet. If there's even the slightest chance that I can keep him from doing so, you had better believe I will damn well try." He paused. "He's my best friend. He's meant to be your godfather."

Emma blinked. Clearly this was a new revelation for her, but Harry had little time to think on that.

"Oh, I see you've decided to come back, Harry" Ron asked immediately upon picking up the phone.

"Ron." The bored tone in which his friend addressed him made Harry's throat close up. When he could speak, he continued, "It's happening. Hermione's in labor."

Whatever was worming its way into his friend's heart wasn't yet powerful enough to stop him from exclaiming with a fair amount of joyous surprise, "Bloody hell!"

"We're at the cottage, but I'm not sure whether to call for an ambulance yet," Harry went on.

"An ambu-what?"

Harry smiled. "Never mind. Will you come? Help us?"

He could hear Ron sigh. "I can't imagine what I'd do if I were there. I don't care for blood...or children, for that matter. I'd probably just get on Hermione's nerves."

"We want you here. You're our friend. The baby's godfather."

"Yeah, about that. I think you'd better look for someone else, mate."

Swallowing a rising lump in his throat, Harry shook his head. "You don't mean that."

"Why would I say it then?"

Harry glanced at Emma. Her arms were folded across her chest as tightly as possible; she refused to meet his eyes. "I don't know, Ron. There must be a reason. And whatever it is...we can work through..." A sudden scream from the living room cut him off. Harry nearly dropped the phone. "Hermione!"

Emma took a breath. "I'll go," she said, without thinking. "You can keep talking to my bastard godfather." Without giving Harry time to reply, she ran to her mother's side.

Hermione was caught up in a fresh contraction, even more painful than the last. Gritting her teeth, she tucked her chin against her chest and fought against it, but it was too much. She fell back against the pillows Harry had carefully stacked behind her, unable to keep a moan from escaping her lips.

"Mrs. Potter." Emma approached her. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Grab a pair of tongs from the kitchen and pull this child out of me!"

"It's really that painful?"

Hermione's eyes closed. "No, it's wonderful. The miracle of life, right?" Her voice dripped with sarcasm.

Cautiously, Emma kneeled down a few feet away from the couch. "I could do a spell...to make it stop hurting."

"Sweet offer, but it won't work. This is the price of motherhood." Hermione's fingers clutched the couch cushion until her knuckles turned snow white. "Besides...I want to be able to hold this experience over Harry's head the next time he smashes his finger with a hammer or some such thing and whines for three days."

Emma suppressed a giggle. "He does that?"

Her mother's face softened. "No, not really. In truth...he's wonderful." Tears joined the perspiration on her face. "I don't know what I'd do without him."

"I think..." The corners of her lips turned up. "I think you'd do better than you think you would."

Hermione opened her eyes, and for the first time since she and Harry had arrived, she took a good look at the strange girl. "Why do I feel like you know what you're talking about...when we've never met?" She frowned. "Who are you?"

"A friend," Emma replied after a moment. "I just want to help. Um...with the general situation of things. Not with the actual, you know, birth. Because...well, trust me...it'd be weird."

"We need to call Molly Weasley," Hermione said, abruptly. "She gave birth six times."

"Seven. If you count each twin." Harry re-entered the living room, his expression grim. "And you're right; we should call her."

Emma's eyes narrowed. "Ron's not coming?"

"No, he's coming," Harry said. "He just doesn't realize it yet."


"I'm going to get him and bring him here by whatever means necessary." Harry walked to the couch and bent down to kiss his wife. "I'll only be gone for a little while."

Hermione bit her lip. "Please don't go, Harry."

"I have to." He stroked one finger down her cheek. "For reasons I can't get into right now...Ron has to be here."

She grasped his hand with hers. "You'd better be glad I trust you with my life, Harry Potter." Lightly squeezing, she released him. "Go, love. I'll be fine."

Harry swallowed. "Emma will be here with you. I'll be back straight away, I promise." Dropping his head, he gave her a soft kiss.

Emma wanted to be a normal child and look away, faking sickness at the thought of her parents being intimate, but she found she couldn't. It was too beautiful. They were so deeply in love...it was easy for her to see now how her mother's bloom had faded without her soul's partner.

Finally, Harry stood up. "Emma...take care of her."

Their daughter smiled with just a tinge of mischief. "Like she was my own mother."


Harry didn't bother Apparating on the street; he wasn't that patient. Instead, he chose to appear directly inside Ron's London flat. Unfortunately, he hadn't anticipated what sort of scene he might stumble into. When his senses cleared, Harry found himself face to face with his best friend...as he walked out of the bathroom, buck naked.

"Bloody hell!" they both shouted at the same time. Harry quickly turned around and Ron dove for his robe.

"Harry, what the blazes do you think you're doing?"

When he was sure that Ron was covered, Harry turned back around. "I'm sorry." He paused. "No, I'm not. It's your own fault. If you'd come to help us out of the goodness of your heart, I wouldn't have had to witness your little peep show."

"I was about to take a shower. And hey...I'm in my own bloody flat, I am!!"

Harry ran a hand through his hair. "Let me remind you once again that Hermione, my wife, our best friend since we were eleven years old, is currently giving birth."

"Yeah, I got it the first time." Ron crossed his arms as he sat down on his unmade bed. "I still don't see what it has to do with me."

This wasn't the Ron he thought he knew, but neither was it the Ron he'd encountered in the horrible future. He was somewhere in the middle and still, Harry hoped, salvageable. If witnessing Emma's birth didn't clear up his head...Harry had no idea what would.

"We want you there. We want you to be a part of this." He looked Ron straight in the eye. "We're a team, aren't we?"

"Getting her pregnant wasn't a team effort, so neither should getting her...um...un-pregnant." Ron stood up. "Since when do you care all that much about the three of us doing things together?"

Harry frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Have you been paying attention the past couple of years, mate?" His friend chuckled bitterly. "We haven't been team; the two of you have been a couple. What's that saying? Three's company?"

"Two's company, three's a crowd," Harry corrected him. Realization began to sink in. Could Ron's complete transformation from friend to enemy in the future...be his fault? "Ron, I know things changed when Hermione and I got married, but do you really think we've been leaving you out in the cold?"

When he shrugged in reply, he was entirely Ron, as he had been during their years together at Hogwarts.

"You have to believe that if we have been, even in the slightest degree, we never meant to," Harry continued.

"Oh yeah. No, I get it. You two were just caught up in your great, epic love. No harm done, Harry. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to put some clothes before..."

Harry cut him off. "But harm was done! I mean it will be!" Ron stared at him, confused. "Just...trust me. We've got to work this rift out, Ron, and get back to what our friendship's really all about. What it's always been about."

"And what's that?" He cupped his hands around his mouth like a megaphone. "Presenting the Great Harry Potter!" His voice lowered considerably. "...and with him, as always, is Ron."

Frustration clouded Harry's face. "You know, I thought we worked out these issues when we were teenagers."

"Issues? I haven't got any bloody issues!"

"Just a massive inferiority complex."

Ron's cheeks grew red. "I'm not inferior to anyone."

"You're right. Least of all to me."

Ron's anger dropped in surprise of Harry's simple words. "Then why do I always feel that way when I'm around you, mate? And even more so when I see you with Hermione?"

"I guess..." Harry blew out a breath. "Now that we're married, she and I are connected on some other level."

"Some level I'm not meant to be on," Ron interjected.

"It doesn't make you inferior."

His friend scratched the back of his head. "No. It makes me jealous."

"Ron, I..."

"The three of us used to be on the same level. Friends...getting into the same scrapes and sharing everything." He shrugged again. "We don't anymore. We can't. So, guess who's left out?"

"You should have told us how you were feeling a long time ago."

Ron chuckled. "When? While you were on your honeymoon? Or maybe when you were settling into your new place? Perhaps I should have brought it all up when you found out Hermione was pregnant. That would have been great timing on my part."

There was a long pause before Harry replied. "Whatever's going on our in lives, if we're ever too distracted to listen to our best friend, then we're completely in the wrong."

Unable to come up with an answer, Ron sniffed and looked away. "Well, yeah."

"Please come back with me? Be a part of this with us?"

After another long moment, Ron looked back at him. "I'd like to, mate. But Serafina's coming over and..."

It wasn't the right time to tell him the truth about his new girlfriend, the woman who would help lead him down the path to darkness. Harry knew that if he started in on her, the precarious truce with Ron would be destroyed.

"Leave her note. Buy her flowers later," he advised. "I'm sure she'll understand. And if she doesn't..." He let the thought trail off, unfinished.

Ron hesitated. "All right. Just let me get cleaned up and dressed, all right? Hermione doesn't need to see all my bits and pieces."

"No, she's already in enough pain."

A wide grin spread across Ron's face. "Bugger off, you."

"Hurry up." Harry started for the door to give Ron his requested privacy. "I don't know how much time we've got."


Silence greeted Harry and Ron when they arrived back at the cottage. Worry instantly struck Harry's heart. Had something gone wrong?

"Hermione?" he called out. "Where are you?"

Ron shrugged out of his coat and hung it up. "She might be up and walking about a bit. Mum always said that helped her."

"I'm not sure she could get up in this state," Harry told him.

"I think Hermione can do just anything she puts her mind..." He was cut off when Emma suddenly appeared in the hall. "Who're you?"

Harry blinked. "Emma? What is it? What's going on? Where's Hermione?"

"In the living room," Emma whispered. Her eyes were open, but she looked as though she saw nothing. "Go on in; she wants to see you."

Harry and Ron exchanged a look before Harry gently sidestepped his daughter and ran to find his wife, Ron right on his heels.

"Hermione!" He burst into the living room. "Are you..." He stopped.

"Shh," his wife hushed him. "She's asleep."

Instead of in the middle of labor as he had left her, Hermione was propped upright on the couch, her arms forming a cradle against her chest. And in that cradle lay a baby. Their baby.

Ron summed it up best with, "Bloody hell! You went and had the kid!"

"Believe me, Ronald," Hermione replied, rather frostily. "I tried to hold it in, but she's got her father's stubborn streak."

Harry hadn't moved, hadn't even really breathed during their whole exchange. Finally, he spoke. "She's so beautiful."

Hermione's pursed lips relaxed into a joyful smile. "I wanted you to be here, love. She had other ideas. Come here."

He moved forward without thinking and kneeled on the ground next to the couch. "You did this...all by yourself."

"Not all by myself. I couldn't have done it without Emma here to help." Hermione blinked back tears. "Do you want to hold your daughter, Harry?"

Harry nodded and before he quite knew what was happening, his wife had placed the tiny little girl into his arms. His hand cradled her soft head; she squirmed within the soft pastel blankets. "Hi there," he whispered to her. "I'm your dad." The baby woke just then, staring up at him with cloudy blue eyes. They must change later, he thought. Emma's eyes were hazel. "I'm your dad...and I'm never leaving you. I swear it."

Hermione reached out and ran a hand through Harry's tangled locks, a puzzled frown on her face. "What's wrong, love?"

"Nothing." He shook his head. "Nothing can possible be wrong right now." Harry looked at her and on impulse, leaned forward to kiss her. "I love you so much. Thank you."

A creak in the floorboards broke the moment. They both turned to see Emma. Caught watching the scene, she paled, turned and fled towards the kitchen. Harry cursed to himself. "I'll be right back," he told Hermione, passing the baby back to her.

As he left the room, he heard Hermione ask Ron if he wanted to hold the baby, but he didn't hear his friend's answer. Harry entered the kitchen to find Emma sitting at the breakfast table. She was slumped down in the chair, looking away from him.

"Emma," he said. "I'm so proud of you."

She looked back at him and he noticed the tears coursing down her cheeks. "Why? Because I helped my mother give birth to me?" She lifted her shoulders. "What good daughter wouldn't?"

"I can't even imagine how this must be for you." Harry took a seat across from her. "Strange, probably."

Emma shook her head. "Don't try. You can't imagine; leave it at that." There was an awkward pause before she brushed away her tears and looked at her father. "What now? You got Ron here." She couldn't hide the disgust in her voice. "It's a start, right?"

Harry leaned back with a tired sigh. "I still wasn't here though. I still missed your birth."

"What do you think that means?"

"I don't know for sure. But I have a feeling it might change everything. Only now, we won't know what to expect." He stared up at the ceiling. "Things could get a whole lot worse before they get better."

Ron entered the kitchen, and Harry could literally feel Emma recoil at the man's presence. When she noticed that Ron was carrying the baby she'd just helped birth, she looked away. "She wants to see you, Harry," Ron told his friend. "Hermione...she says it's damn important."

Harry stood up. "I'm coming." He glanced at Emma. "Are you going to be all right?"

"Yeah," she replied curtly. "Don't worry about me."

Harry entered the living room to find Hermione waiting for him. "What is it, love? Ron said it was important."

"It is." She held out her hand to him and he took it in his as he sat on the edge of the couch. "Our daughter has no name." Hermione squeezed his fingers. "She has to have a name, Harry. She can't just go nameless!"

He had to laugh. "Calm down. It's all right. She won't be known as the nameless Potter kid, I promise."

Hermione relaxed a bit. "I have an idea, but I need your approval on it." He nodded, indicating for her to go on. "I was thinking...because she was so much help...maybe we could name the baby Emmaline? Emma for short. What do you think?"

Harry swallowed. "I think that'd be just perfect."


To Be Continued