Disclaimer : The Harry Potter characters in this story belong to J.K. Rowling. Many thanks to her for letting them roam about in the world I created for a bit.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to everyone who has stayed with this story and offered their much appreciated praises!
EPILOGUE – Breathe
I can feel the magic floating in the air; Being with you gets me that way; I watch the sunlight dance across your face and I've; Never been this swept away – Faith Hill "Breathe"
It's funny, you know, how people around you (friends, family and even sometimes complete strangers) throw advice your way, even though it may not really be wanted. 'Those shoes really don't go…' 'You know if you just…" "You should really hold her like…' Well, you understand. Many times, it is unsettling and infuriating, especially when the advice is unsolicited and from a complete stranger.
However, some of the advice, even the superfluous advice, can really be useful. By far, the best, most palpable advice I have ever received or given for that matter is simply…"Breathe."
I know it sounds like it would be the most absurd advice anyone could give out, because if we didn't breathe, we'd be dead. Right? But sometimes it's the most common of things that we need to be reminded of. Because many times when we are hurting, upset, scared, or even ecstatic, we tend to hold our breaths which in turn reduces the oxygen supply that reaches our brains which in turn makes it difficult to form a clear thought. So really it is sound advice to live by.
Even through some of my toughest times in life, I'd stop and make myself take three deep breaths. I don't know why I chose three, but it almost always worked in calming down whatever emotion I was feeling at the time. Looking back on the major events in my life, I remember the advice either being given to me or by me…Breathe…Just Breathe.
The first time I remember ever giving the advice to myself was when my name was called during the Sorting ceremony my first evening at Hogwarts. As I sat down on the stool before the Great Hall, I closed my eyes. 'Breathe, Hermione!' I remember the words coming to me as Professor McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat on my head. Within mere moments, I was placed in the house of Godric Gryffindor, which put me on a one-way course to becoming best friends with two of the greatest wizards of my age. Of course it was those two wizards that had me repeating that same advice to myself several more times over the years, for several different reasons.
Several years after that seat under the Sorting Hat, the most memorable time I used the advice where those wizards were concerned, well really it was just with the one, was about a week after my parents had been murdered. I had crawled in bed with Ron, much as I had the previous two nights and had a good cry. Though, that night, unlike the others, I had no intentions of leaving his arms or their embrace until the first light of morning. Of course, upon entering his room, I had never thought that the night would take the path that it did. When those three little words passed from his lips, my shock found me once again thinking 'Breathe, Hermione' as I made a decision that would change both of our lives forever.
It wasn't until several months after that night, that I found myself first receiving the advice from another. I remember lying in the bed at Boston Memorial Hospital quickly approaching my twelfth hour of labor with the twins when the labor pains were beginning to become quite unbearable. I had taken the breathing classes and such, but when you feel like something is trying to claw its way out from inside of you times two, the last thing you can remember is how you are supposed to be breathing to keep calm.
I did what many women in my position do…I held my breath. It was the soothing touch of Eleanor Chase and her simply saying, "Breathe, sweetheart. You'll only make it worse if you don't," that made me take the three calming breathes as the next contraction hit. Two hours later, I had two precious angels.
It was nearly five years later that I first gave the advice to another. It was an understatement to say that I was completely shocked when I watched Ron fall down a flight of stairs after fainting from learning that he was going to be a father…again. I wasted no time running down the stairs to his aid while his family rushed up the stairs to see what had happened.
Had the circumstances been different, I would have enjoyed the look of shock on Fred's face when he asked, "Bloody, hell, Hermione! What did you do to the poor bloke?" Needless to say I was a little concerned with the fact that Ron could have broken his neck to process the situation right away.
However, as I was on my knees bending over Ron while assessing the damage he may have done in the fall, it dawned on me that everyone other than Mr. Weasley was looking at me as if they believed that I had pushed the youngest Weasley son down the stairs. Just as I was about to explain what had happened, Ron sat bolt upright gasping for breath.
He looked at me wide-eyed, with little-to-no color in his face. He appeared as if he was about to say something when he started gasping for air. In his apparent panic, he was beginning to hyperventilate. I quickly grabbed his cheeks with both of my hands and began soothingly caressing them with my thumbs. "Calm down, love, and breathe. Okay, now, deep, slow breaths….Just breathe."
Well, Ron eventually calmed down and I gestured to the whole lot to move down the stairs into the sitting room before any explanations were attempted. As his family turned and made their way down the stairs, Ron, with tears in his eyes, turned to me and asked, "I'm going to be a dad?"
I smile a softly at him. "Yes, Ron, you are going to be a dad, again."
"But we used…"
I gave him a knowing smile and cut him off. "Not both times."
His eyes went wide and I was sure that he was going to start berating himself; however, he surprised me by leaning in and capturing my lips in a searing kiss. He was just beginning to deepen the kiss when I realized that we were still sitting on the stairs and his family was waiting for us. I pulled away and pulled him into a quick hug. It was then that he sighed a long sigh of dread and said, "I am such an idiot. I can't believe I fainted. I'm never going to hear the end of it, you know?"
I kissed the top of his head and said, "Well you're my idiot, I hope." He pulled back so that he could look me in the eyes and nodded. I flashed him another brilliant smile that turned slightly devilish before standing and pulling him to his feet as well.
"And, you'll hear the end of this…when you do something else to give your brothers ammunition to use against you."
I had took a step or two down the stairs when I realized that Ron wasn't following. I turned to find him beginning to hyperventilate once again. I reached for his hand and said, "Deep breaths, love. Remember deep breaths."
He finally took a step down as well and asked, "Is there anyway we could not tell them that I fainted? Maybe tell them that I was so excited I tripped and fell?"
I turned and began descending the steps, Ron's hand still in mine. "Not on your life."
As expected, Fred had taken the mickey out on him just as bad as he had expected and continued to until the next week when Fred was throwing up in the bushes from nerves before his wedding. Then the tables were turned and the brothers called a truce.
In the spring of 2003, Ron and I were married. At the time, I was seven months pregnant and felt like I was as big as a house, but Ron had reassured me that I was absolutely stunning and that he truly missed getting to see me pregnant with the twins. He even went as far to say that he wanted me to keep my wedding dress robes and wear them every time I was pregnant.
My response was "Exactly how many more times do you plan on impregnating me, Mr. Weasely?"
My heart melted when he responded with, "A fair few more times, Mrs. Weasley." Then he had kissed me and continued to move me gracefully, well as gracefully as a seventh month pregnant woman can move, around the dance floor to some classical music.
In the couple of months before the wedding, I had struggled through deciding what I wanted to give my husband for a wedding gift. I didn't even know if gift exchanging amongst the bride and groom was necessary, but I knew that I wanted to give him something that would make the day extraordinary. After all, he had given me the most precious of gifts, our children.
About two weeks before the wedding, I received a visit from Mark who wanted to RSVP for the wedding in person. He stated that Joe would be accompanying him and that Joe had wondered if we had any entertainment lined up for the reception. When I told him that we really hadn't, Mark suggested the band. My heart leapt at the prospect of seeing all the guys again, but I quickly declined.
"Mark, don't get me wrong. I would love to see the guys again, but I just don't know if we can risk that many Muggles coming to the wedding."
"Joe is the only Muggle…the others are wizards…just like me working for the Bureau."
Obviously I was a little shocked by this news. I would've never guessed any of the band members were wizards. They were so…. Muggle. But then again, so was Mark, and I guess that was part of their job…coming across as Muggle as possible. When the shock wore off, a brilliant plan had formed concerning what I could give my husband as a gift.
Approximately halfway through the reception, I had excused myself from Ron and our table of friends and made my way to the makeshift stage on the fair side of the tent that had been constructed for the celebration. I charmed the microphone to work and asked for everyone's attention.
"You know, I've struggled for weeks trying to decide what I could give my husband as a gift to honor our marriage." I ran my right hand over my swollen stomach and brought it to rest on the top of the bulge just under my left breast. "As you can see, he's already given me his gift." The crowd erupted in laughter.
"Finally a couple weeks ago, it came to me…what I thought he might enjoy the most and that he would remember for years to come. However, I'll need a few of my friends to come up here and help me out. Gentlemen, if you would?"
Everyone had watched as Joe and the other band members made their way to the stage and took their places. As Joe passed me on his way to his spot behind the drums, he gave me a chaste kiss on the cheek and said, "Just breathe, sweetie." He laughed at the irony and I just shook my head.
Once the members were in place, I announced my intentions to the crowd. "Well, I don't know if many of you know this, but while I was on my extended vacation in America, I became quite fond of singing. As a matter of fact, the first time my Ronald saw me after nearly five long years of missing from the wizarding world, I was on stage performing. So my gift to you, my dear husband, is a song."
I then began to sing Breathe by Ameican Muggle recording artist Faith Hill. By the time the song was over there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
'Cause I can feel you breathe
It's washing over me
Suddenly I'm melting into you
There's nothing left to prove
Baby all we need is just to be
Caught up in the touch
The slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be
I can feel you breathe
June twenty-ninth was the first time I ever really scoffed at the advice that I had given and received so many times and had found such solace in.
It was about six hours since the contractions had started and I had progressed to hard labor much quicker than I had with the twins. It was Ron who was offering the comforting advice of "deep breaths, love, remember deep breaths" when I suddenly didn't find the words very comforting at all.
I had grabbed Ron by the shirt collar and pulled his face close to mine so that I could look him square in the eyes before I growled, "This is your bloody fault and if I could get up out of this bed, you'd be wearing you bollocks around your neck." I heard the Healer who had come in to check on my progress chuckle under his breath. "If I want to hold my bloody breath, I'll hold my bloody breath."
Bless his heart, Ron had taken my verbal abuse in stride and not even two minutes later I had gone from nearly violently aggressive to weeping and pleading with him to make the pain stop. He soothed me when I needed calming. He allowed me to scream at him when the pain got to be too much. Most of all, the thick prat continued to tell me that I needed to breathe every contraction I held my breath.
After seven hours and thirty-three minutes of labor, Orion Charles Weasley took his first breath and suddenly all was right in the world once again. Well that was until Ron fainted once again. Ginny, who had been helping the healer during the delivery, had quickly went to him, slapping his face in an irritated manner. I actually laughed when she said, "Honestly, Ron, you have got to learn breathe in situations like this."
As the Healer was attending to me, I glanced down at my husband lying on the floor as he was struggling to sit up. "Yes, love, remember deep breaths."
Now eighteen years after first meeting the only man that I ever truly loved and ever truly will, I stand on Platform 9 ¾ watching steam flow from the Hogwarts Express II (the first had apparently been destroyed in the Final War against Voldemort) as it begins to slowly creep away from the station.
With tears running down my cheeks, I wave one final time at the two little faces I fell in love with eleven and a half years ago. As they begin to disappear out of sight, my right hand rests on my once again swollen belly as my left gingerly runs through the hair of my six-year-old son as he continues to wave to his brother and sister. I take a ragged breath and feel the now familiar touch of my Ron's arm around my waist.
"Just breathe, love," he whispers as he kisses me lightly on the temple.
Through teary eyes, I look at my husband who is holding Molly Magdeline Weasley, our two-year-old daughter whom we named after her grandmother who had passed away about four months after Orion was born.
I close my eyes and lean into his shoulder and take my three calming breaths.
'Yes,' I tell myself. 'Just breathe.' And in that moment, I truly understand the words of the song I sang for Ronald on our wedding day. I can feel the magic…the magic of life and of love…in the air and just as I've always been with him, I'm swept away.
Once again I'd like to thank JK for allowing her characters to frolic in my story for a bit; Cheryl Crow, Leann Rimes, Michele Branch and Faith Hill for their brilliant songs that helped inspire my story and many times were the supporting characters in the story.
I'd also like to extend my extreme thanks to everyone to has stuck with this story…those who have left their reviews and those that have simply enjoyed the story anonymously.
Currently, I have no intentions on a sequel, but as I have mentioned before it is definitely at the back of my mind.
Shortly, I'll be posting the first chapter in my story called "Deuces Wild." This will be an Alternate Universe sixth-year story that I think will be good for some laughs.
Again…thank you everyone……keep on reading and enjoying the world of fan fiction!