Part III

A/N: Lots of thanks to everyone who read this and encouraged me before I finished! :) Also, thanks to everyone who reviewed and read…I appreciate it muchly. Thanks again to Zsenya for beta reading!

Part III

Finally, Ron thought as the bus screeched to a halt at his desired location. He hastily gathered his things and hurried toward the door, muttering all the way.

As soon as he was on the sidewalk, he went in search of a deserted alleyway that would allow him to Apparate home. At least there he would have Hermione to yell at, because it was all her fault that mothers at work were staring at him and commenting to each other about his shape, and kids were laughing at him, and his boss looked at him strangely every time they passed in the hall because he had requested pregnancy leave... He shuddered as he thought of that.

"Hello, Dr. Kline," Ron nervously greeted his boss.

"Hello Dr. Weasley," Dr. Kline replied, sizing him up. "What was it you wanted to see me about?"

"Pregnancy leave. I'll need from…" Ron trailed off, watching his boss's face change expression. "What's wrong?"

He shook his head quickly, and then smiled. "Sorry, I was just thinking how it would be funny if it were you that was pregnant…you have all the tell-tale signs, you know…"

"Well…"

Ron shuddered. No more of that, he thought. Because of the aforementioned reasons (and, in addition, the obnoxious old women on the bus, and the constant staring he felt on his back everywhere he went), he was, indeed, in rare form.

He banged the door open, at least expecting the smell of some sort of dinner to waft into the hallway - pizza, Chinese takeout, or a foreign dish whose only fan was Hermione. Hermione, as one may infer, was not a master of the culinary arts. However, the only thing he smelled was the faint remnants of a fire that had been smoldering since the night before. Even more offended by this injustice, Ron angrily hollered, "HERMIONE!" and stormed into the kitchen. "You know, I've had a very bad day today, and you know I'm starving when I get home! I know you're all about the career woman thing, but you could at least be nice! I'm eating for two bloody—" He stopped short as he heard a tapping on the kitchen window. Looking to his right, he saw an owl. Grumbling, he moved to let the creature in, and snatched the note from its talons.

Dear Ron,

I'm really sorry, but there's been a disaster at work involving a miscasted fashion charm and horrendous clothes, which are now grafted onto the bodies of several test subjects. I need to stay late - I'm really sorry again.

Love,

Hermione

"DAMMIT!" Ron yelled angrily. This was too much; he was having the worst day of his life, and, to top it off, he was very, very hungry, and, apparently, he was going to stay that way. After kicking the bathroom door several times, breaking a large hole through the aforementioned door, and cussing very loudly, he heard a loud, angry knock on the door. Still very upset, Ron muttered a charm to repair the hole (he did not notice that, in his rage of uncontrollable emotions, he had turned the door purple in the process) and stomped toward the entrance to the apartment. Looking through the peephole, he saw one of the last things he wanted to see: his very angry next door neighbor, Mrs. Clark.

He opened the door, tried unsuccessfully to control the rage on his face, and coldly questioned,

"May I help you?"

"May you help me?!" Mrs. Clark snapped while, unlike Ron, making no effort to control her countenance. "You can start by keeping this horrible racket down! I've heard nothing but swearing and barging around and yelling from you and that girlfriend of yours, living in sin already—"

"Wife," Ron interrupted hotly, but he didn't get a chance to continue before she opened her mouth again.

"I don't care what she is; I only care that both of you are awful and loud!" She threw her hands up in the air and began to count her annoyances on her fingers. "My children can't sleep at night! They can hear swear words through the very thin walls, and they are scared half to death of both of you, because when you're not swearing, yelling, stomping, and breaking furniture, you're playing some kinky game involving witches and wizards! Don't try to explain, because I don't want to know," she continued, seeing Ron begin to open his mouth again. "I've tried quietly knocking on the walls, I've tried complaining, I've tried calling, I've tried nice visits, and I've had it! Look at yourself, you can't even bring yourself to work out enough to bring that horrid body down to a decent size! What the hell are you going to do when you have kids? I hear through the bloody wall every day that you're wife is pregnant, but you seem to be showing more than she does! You, my neighbor, are going to be a horrible father! I wouldn't be surprised if your child turned out to be a delinquent, or at the very most an overweight bastard with an uncontrollable temper!"

Ron had had enough. He was now so angry that he couldn't even yell; the only thing he could do was stand there, fuming, with his veins throbbing and his eyes bulging out of his very deep red face. Ron finally recovered enough to scream a few well-chosen words into Mrs. Clark's face, too upset to think of anything that might personally insult her. Apparently, the basics were enough in this situation; as Ron slammed the door, he saw her lunge toward him and scream. Taking out his wand, he slid it under the crack in the door and muttered, "Silentium." He did not care what the consequences would be if the Ministry or Hermione ever found out that he had used "unnecessary magic" on a Muggle. To Ron's immediate satisfaction, the yelling stopped (unfortunately, he noted, it would only last for a few minutes). After banging on the door for a minute in frustration, she left, and Ron went back to being very, very angry in peace.

"Damn Mrs. Clark, doesn't know what she's (fudging) talking about. I'm too bloody complex for her to (flipping) understand," Ron growled, kicking the wall extra loudly in hopes of angering her even more.

"I'M A WIZARD! I LIKE TO EAT CHILDREN! THAT'S WHY I HAVE SUCH A BIG (FRICKING) BELLY!" Ron yelled menacingly as he gave the wall three especially loud kicks. That will show her, he thought. Hermione is going to kill me, he continued. Hermione is at work, when she knows that I'm pregnant and that the bloody due date's in two weeks, and my feet are killing me, he flopped onto the couch, and my back is killing me, he rolled over to his side, and I have to piss every 10 minutes, he ignored the tell-tale feelings in his bladder, and she isn't here! Just as mad as before, Ron reached over for the book on the coffee table (So, You're Pregnant; Now What? The Modern Wizard's Guide to Conception and Beyond) and opened to where he had left off, highlighter in hand.

"At this point, Mummy will be going through a very emotional period…blah blah blah…Daddy should do everything in his power to keep her happy," Ron muttered triumphantly, uncapping the highlighter and marking that sentence, along with others that followed, such as "Mummy needs Daddy around to give her moral support," and "Daddy should help with things around the house, like dinner…." Ron drew several arrows to that, and screamed a few more profanities and hit the wall with his book as he remembered just how hungry he was.

He didn't think he could bear standing up for any more time than what it would take for him to advance from the bathroom to the couch and visa versa, and it would take at least a half hour for a delivered dinner of any sort to arrive. His immense anger was just turning into tears when a stern knock on the door sounded for the second time that evening. Ron's face contorted once again into a look of fury, and a rage that can only be described as "The Weasley Temper" flowed through his throbbing veins. Mrs. Clark was going to get a very choice piece of his mind.

Feet and back aching, he thrust his hand onto the doorknob and flung the door open, immediately screaming, "I AM NOT A BLOODY DEADBEAT, I DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOUR KIDS, AND IF YOU SAY ONE MORE WORD TO ME I'LL—"

"Sir?" the boy whom Ron had been screaming at tentatively interrupted. He had backed into the wall, and a look of fear was etched onto his skinny face.

Ron blinked. "Er, sorry, I thought you were someone else…." He finally began to calm down at the appearance of the stranger, in front of whom he had thoroughly embarrassed himself.

"Yeah," the frightened teenager squeaked, clutching a bag tightly in his hand.

Ron's eyes darted nervously from one end of the hallway to the other, and then back to the mysterious boy. "Who are you, anyway?" he asked, suddenly suspicious.

"I-I'm a delivery wizard from The Leaky Cauldron," he answered; "I've got an order for a Ron Weasley…"

Sheepishly, Ron took the bag and walked back inside to fetch some money (not the least of which would comprise of a very large tip for the poor, befuddled delivery boy). "Here you go," Ron said sheepishly, putting money into his hand in exchange for the bag. The boy counted the sickles and nodded happily; the tip had apparently done its job.

"See ya mate, and good luck with whatever you were yelling about," he called as he skipped gleefully down the hallway, looking at his tip.

Just then, a note on the bag caught Ron's attention:

Dear Ron,

I thought you might like this. Sorry if it got there a little late; they said they were a bit busy.

Love,

Hermione

Oh, Ron thought, putting the bag on the coffee table and pulling out a plate of chicken, salad, and mashed potatoes, his favorite. Delighted, he sat on the couch, balanced the plate on his stomach, and turned on one of his favorite Muggle devices: the television. I love Hermione, he thought as he chewed.

***

"Ron," Hermione asked the following Saturday, "what's this?"

"What's what?" Ron replied, looking up from his corn flakes.

Hermione didn't reply, but instead dropped a book on top of the Daily Prophet that Ron was reading. Ron read the title: So, You're Pregnant; Now What? The Modern Wizard's Guide to Conception and Beyond; with a small wince, he realized that she had uncovered the marks made in the fit of rage that he'd had the previous Wednesday. "Er, a book?"

With a huff, Hermione snatched the book from where she had dropped it and began flipping pages. Uh oh, we're going to get into a fight, Ron thought dismally.

"'The daddy should always be submissive to the mummy, and do such favors as massaging her feet and aching back, and cooking meals. If not, daddy can expect lots of nights on the couch!' Good, Ron; really subtle." She slammed the book shut.

"I was pissed off when I did that, alright?"

"Why was this?" Hermione crossed her arms. Ron fidgeted in his chair.

"I'd had a bad day at work, and then people were staring at me on the bus, and you weren't home and Mrs. Clark came over and started yelling at me—"

"That brings me to another thing: what did you say to that woman? Now she won't even look at me when we pass in the hall."

"And this is a bad thing?" Ron adopted a mischievous look. That's it, try and woo her with your attractive roguish charm.

"Ron, we're supposed to be trying to fit in here!" Hermione threw her arms in the air in exasperation. "You're the one that wanted to live in Muggle London; we could have easily lived in Hogsmeade, or the wizard area in London."

"And be near Fred and George, or Percy? Right."

"What's wrong with that?"

"I want to be by myself for once; do something one of them hasn't done first!"

Hermione sighed. "Oh, stop it, there are many things that you've done that they haven't."

"Like what?"

"Er…" Hermione thought quickly. "Marry me, for instance."

"Are you sure none of them's done that before?"

At this, all sympathy left Hermione's voice. "Stop whining and be a man for once. Face it; you complain too much."

"I think I have the right, considering," Ron spat.

Hermione snorted in exasperation. "Haven't you gotten over it yet? You used up your right to complain at least three months ago! I feel no pity for you; in fact, I think you deserve it!"

"NO ONE deserves this! My feet hurt, my back hurts, I've had doctors poke me in places I didn't know I had, I feel like crying every second of the day, I have to pee all the time, I look like I'm hiding a basketball under my shirt, and I'm constipated!"

"Ron, it's all part of the joy of being a woman. Now hurry up and get dressed or we'll be late for Lamaze class."

"I hate you," he muttered, standing up with aggravation and stomping into the bathroom. Hermione blew him a kiss and sat down in his place to read the paper.

***

As they pulled into the parking lot (Hermione, despite her love of all things in the wizard world, retained a fondness for driving), Hermione looked over at Ron and was surprised to see that he was completely void of color.

"What's wrong?" she asked, concerned, placing a hand on his extruding abdomen.

"I…I…never mind," Ron answered weakly, swearing as he made a sudden move to fumble with the stubborn seatbelt.

"Ron," Hermione continued, growing more concerned, "Are you alright?" She gave him a worried look, and Ron's resolve seemed to melt at the sight.

"I…" he began, trying to find the right words. "I'm having a baby."

Hermione looked expectantly at him, waiting for him to continue (a wise voice inside her head told her not to say "and?").

"I…well, I'm scared. Mrs. Clark's right, I'm going to be a horrible mother, and I'm a horrible person, and—"

"Oh, enough of that," Hermione replied gently, kissing him on the cheek. "You are going to be a wonderful mother, and you are a wonderful person…"

"Mmm," Ron grunted in reply, obviously not satisfied with the answer that he had received.

"Well, you know me, and I don't settle for anything less than the best. I picked you, didn't I? That has to say something," Hermione shot playfully, resting her head on his shoulder as they watched other couples walk into the building.

"I guess you're right then," Ron answered, grinning a bit. He seemed to be satisfied with this reply.

Hermione suddenly looked up, causing Ron to turn his head from the windshield to her. "What did Mrs. Clark say to you, exactly? I'm still curious," she inquired.

"Er…never mind," Ron mumbled, fumbling with the seatbelt again in effort to get out of the car.

"No you don't," Hermione said, quickly securing his shoulder with her hand.

Ron sighed resignedly. "She said I'm a horrible person and that our child is going to be horrible, and…lots of other things." He stopped, waiting for Hermione to begin to yell at him; however, several seconds passed and she remained silent. "Hermione?"

"Mrs. Clark's children are drones!" Hermione spat, suddenly and furiously. "They have no independent thoughts, and she is a stupid, anal retentive know-it-all who thinks that she's better than me just because she has a college degree! What that woman thinks means nothing, so stop worrying about it. If I had my way, I would never see her again."

After a slight pause, Ron started laughing softly and shaking his head.

"What?" Hermione asked suspiciously as his laughing grew louder.

"You insulted her!" he triumphantly answered.

"So? Can't I dislike a person?" Hermione questioned defensively.

"You can dislike as many people as you want, as long as you admit that, for once, I was right!"

"Right about what?" Hermione asked incredulously.

"Earlier, I said that not talking with her would be a good thing, and you said we have to fit in so we should talk to her, and you just contradicted yourself, making me right!"

Hermione just stared at him.

"Admit it! I won this one, and you lost! I was right and you were wrong!"

Hermione continued to stare.

"Come on, say it!" he prodded, grinning widely in triumph.

"You're right, and pathetic," she answered blankly, unbuckling her seatbelt and opening the car door.

"I take them as they come," he answered, following suit.

***

"I can't take you anywhere, can I?" Hermione asked an hour later as she walked out of the door in a huff.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Ron asked, following her in a fashion that indicated that he was equally as annoyed.

"You're always in a bad mood! Wherever we go, all you do is insult people!"

"It's not my fault that Gina can't keep her mouth shut!"

"All she did was try to explain the breathing to you, and you practically bit off her head!" Hermione scowled, opening the car door and climbing inside. Ron lagged further behind.

"Why is it that every time I try to stand up for myself, I'm biting someone's head off?" he grumbled, bending down to tie his shoe. After much difficulty with the task - and several swear words uttered about the difficulty - he straightened himself up and began to walk again.

However, before he had gone three paces, Ron unexpectedly stopped mid step; his eyes suddenly bugged out of his head and his face immediately became as red as any Weasley had ever been known to become. He tried to tell himself that he wasn't feeling the feelings that he had been actively dreading for the past week. He was imagining it, he decided; this was not happening - not then, not that night (or, for the sake of this story, that afternoon)! Beginning to hyperventilate, he decided that he would keep walking, albeit slowly, and get in the car with Hermione. Then, they would go home, and they would continue to argue as usual and go to sleep mad at each other, only to wake up the next morning like nothing had happened. Yes, that's it; just have to keep walking…. Ron continued walking, as promised, and very slowly began advancing toward the car. He was sweating. One foot, then the other…that's it now…bloody hell, this isn't happening, he thought, frantically doing his best not to pay any mind to the tell-tale feelings that were currently begging for his attention. I'm not ready for this…we haven't even painted the stupid bedroom yet…

Just then, Hermione opened the window of the car and called out to Ron, looking a little annoyed. "Come on, we haven't got all day; we're meeting my parents for lunch!"

Ron, at a loss for words, could not answer with anything other than a small, frightened squeak. She can't suspect anything, because this isn't really happening. Liam isn't going anywhere.

"Ron?" Hermione called, more annoyed than before. "Why do you always act like a whining idiot? Forget about the stupid fight and get in the car!"

Good, my plan is working. Ron tried to start walking again, and laboriously advanced toward the car.

"Oh, for heaven's sake!" Hermione yelled. Ron looked up to see that she had opened the door so that she could yell at him more effectively. "Would you like me to physically push you?"

Ron vigorously shook his head to indicate that he did not, indeed, need help. She became crosser and crosser as he got closer and closer; finally, Ron reached the car door, thinking, Victory is mine, at last!

"Ron," Hermione asked, all traces of anger gone from her voice and replaced with worry.

"What? What's wrong?" Ron asked, clutching his belly while furiously thinking, I'm your father and I say to stay where you are, you little prat. Then, he noticed Hermione looking down at his jeans, which, he realized as he craned his neck to the side to look as well, were unfathomably wet…

"What the—?!" How did I miss that?!

"Are you in labor, Ron?" Hermione asked calmly.

"Well—I—NO! I'm not in labor! Why would I be in labor?" Stop it, stop it stop it, stop it!

Hermione studied him carefully, putting the pieces together and comprehending the reality of the situation. Ron watched her do this, knowing that soon his calm, quiet life would all but end.

"You idiot," Hermione announced, paling. "Your water's broken."

Ron felt like his heart had stopped beating. "Shit."

"Don't swear; the baby can hear you."

"I don't bloody care. What do we do now?" Ron was beginning to shake, both from pure fear and from the enormous amount of pressure that he was feeling.

"Get in the car; I'm driving you to the hospital," Hermione suddenly decreed as her reasonable and authoritative self overcame the extraordinarily nervous young mother-to-be.

"But—" Ron stammered.

"But what?" Hermione snapped, getting immediately fed up and walking over to where Ron stood, rooted to the spot, to literally push him into the car.

"I don't want to go to the hospital!" he panted as Hermione opened his door and forced him into the car. "I don't want to have the baby now!"

"Well, sorry to tell you this so late into the process, but in case you didn't notice, you don't exactly get a choice!" she called as she ran back over to the other side of the car.

"What else is new?!" Ron yelled, sweating. "I haven't had a choice of my own in eight months!"

Hermione climbed in the car and turned the key to start the engine. "Oh, suck it up!" she shouted as she looked behind her to back out.

"Wait!" Ron hollered. "Why are we driving?"

"Why not?" she asked, turning the wheel and accelerating backwards.

"Because we're a witch and a wizard, and we Apparate!"

Hermione stopped and thought for a second. "Oh," she replied curtly, pulling the car back into its parking space.

"YOU ARE THE BIGGEST MUGGLE I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!" Ron yelled, face now at the point of purple.

"Oh, be quiet," Hermione grumbled, Apparating with a *pop.* Ron muttered several curse words and followed directly.

At St. Mungo's, Ron found Hermione at a desk telling a receptionist what was going on; almost immediately, medical staff came and rushed him to a hospital room, where he was promptly strapped onto a bed.

"What is going on?!" he called to Hermione, who was close behind.

"Calm down, everything's alright…let's do the breathing we did in Lamaze—"

"Doctor, he's dilated quite a bit…this is going to be a very short labor," a nurse commented.

"You're lucky, then," the doctor replied to Ron, whose face was now beginning to contort with pain.

"Come on, breathe," Hermione tried to encourage him as she patted his shoulder and emulated the breathing techniques they had been taught during the weeks before.

"THIS ISN'T FAIR!" he yelled, clutching Hermione's hand much harder than what would have normally elicited a yelp of pain from her.

"Would you like us to perform the painless pregnancy spell?" the doctor asked.

Hermione ignored him and continued to try and console Ron. "Calm down; we're supposed to breathe—"

"Screw the breathing!… Do the spell thing!"

"We agreed to a natural childbirth, and you are not getting the spell!" Hermione stated (loudly).

"I…want the…spell!" he screamed.

"Deal with it!" she screamed right back.

"This is MY body…and I WANT THAT SPELL." With great effort, he propped himself up on his elbows.

"You are NOT getting the spell!"

"YOU'RE…the one who chickened out!….YOU HAVE NO…IDEA WHAT IT'S LIKE!"

"I DID NOT CHICKEN OUT. YOU were the one being an arse! You deserved it, and still do deserve it!"

"NO ONE…DESERVES…THIS!"

"Someone has to do it!"

"IT…SHOULD…BE…YOU!"

"Well, think about that the next time you decide to call me a POOR, MISPLACED DUCK!"

"Ron, we're going to need you to start pushing," the doctor interjected, looking a bit harried.

Purple faced, Ron replied, "I…WILL…NOT…PUSH."

"Fine then!" Hermione yelled. "Just fine! It can stay in there forever!"

"IT'S NAME…IS LIAM!" Ron hollered, his face seeming to have permanently taken on its shade of purple.

"Ron, you have to push," the doctor interrupted again, trying to be calm and persuasive.

Ron vigorously shook his head.

"DO IT," Hermione ordered, "Or no more Quidditch games!"

"YOU…CAN'T TELL ME…WHAT…TO DO!" he screamed painfully as the doctors adjusted him to the appropriate birthing position.

"TRY ME. NOW PUSH!"

In too much pain to resist any more, Ron obeyed the doctors.

"I…HATE…YOU!" he cried, his world getting blurry.

"Shut up and push," she replied, not commenting on the fact that she thought her hand may be broken.

"YOU…ARE…PURE…EVIL."

"I try," Hermione breathed, distracted by what was happening on the other end of the situation.

"The head's almost out," the doctor commented. "You're almost there, Ron, one more."

"Come on, you can do it! After this, you can go back to being normal again!" Hermione pleaded, suddenly seeming very kind and sympathetic. Ron looked like he was going to cry.

"Really?" he whimpered, sweat dripping from his forehead.

"Really," she replied consolingly.

Ron looked like he was deeply considering what she was saying. "Fine…" he squeezed out, tearfully preparing himself for the last go…

There was one more flare of immense pain, and then, through his swimming vision that was teetering on the edge of darkness, Ron heard lots of high pitched shrieking that he was fairly certain didn't come from Hermione.

"What…what happened?" he moaned, seeing the doctor checking over and cleaning what looked like a small, flailing, and very pink doll. He felt himself getting even more confused; Is this it? he thought dazedly.

"Congratulations," the doctor announced after a few moments. "It's a girl." He wrapped the baby in a blanket and exited the room, leaving a nurse behind to help them, muttering something about how glad he was that Addo Graviditas was rarely used anymore, and how he needed an anti-headache charm.

Ron unsuccessfully tried to pull himself up; he could see Hermione holding a bundle of blankets with a look of heartfelt awe on her face.

"'Mione…help me," he grumbled, still panting. She woke from her mini trance and immediately sat down by him to show her husband what he had carried in his ill prepared stomach for 8 months.

"See…it's our daughter." She held the bundle out so that he could see.

Ron couldn't speak; in front of him was a small, crying, wrinkled, and very red miniature human being. His mouth dropped open and he felt tears well up in his eyes. This is MY daughter…

Hermione smiled as she saw his reaction. "Come on, you can hold her," she said, gently nudging him with her elbow.

Shaking, he held out his arms, and Hermione placed his daughter in them. He felt the softness of the blankets against his skin up to where his hospital gown sleeves began, and saw the baby immediately begin to calm down at the sound of a familiar heartbeat.

"She…she knows me!" he exclaimed, surprised, unable to hold back a few tears as he touched one of his hands to her face.

"Well, you're her mother/father," Hermione smirked, putting her arm around his shoulder and squeezing. Ron couldn't reply.

"What?" Hermione asked, kissing him on the cheek.

"I'm just…completely in awe," Ron responded, taking a second to pick out the words he wanted. "This is our daughter…this came from me…"

"I played a small role, too," Hermione intervened.

"You did, but I was the star."

"Mmm hmm," Hermione agreed, glaring a bit.

"And now, it's over…"

"Unless you count the 18 years we spend with Aine in the house before she graduates from Hogwarts."

"Yeah…" Ron absentmindedly agreed, transfixed by his baby's face. Suddenly, he snapped out of it. "Wait a minute—She is NOT named Aine!"

"What's she named, then?" Hermione challenged.

"Samantha," Ron announced, waiting eagerly for the vicious retort Hermione was sure to come up with. Hermione looked thoughtful.

"You know, Samantha isn't that bad…though I like Aine better."

"I carried her, I get to name her," Ron declared.

"You know that I'm only agreeing to this because I like the name too, right?"

"And because I was right."

"Whatever you say. But her middle name is Aine."

"No."

"Yes."

"No."

"You got to pick the first name."

He considered this. "Fine, but I still hate you," he grumbled, kissing Samantha Aine Weasley on the forehead and smoothing her dark hair.

"I love you, too," Hermione replied, doing the same.

THE END

You've made it this far…why not review?