"Are you sure you two will be OK?" Hermione Granger-Weasley fussed as she collected her briefcase and smoothed the folds of her work robes.
Ron Weasley rolled his eyes, careful to make sure his wife didn't see the movement, and smoothed his daughter's hair. "We'll be fine, Hermione. It's not like I've never been alone with Rose since she was born."
Hermione set her case back down and laid a hand on her daughter's head. "I know, but I have this important trial to prepare for, and might be home late, and –"
"Hermione! I know all of that. We'll be just fine, Rosie and I." He bounced the baby girl gently in his arms, earning a small giggle. He leaned in to kiss his wife's cheek. "You'd better go or you'll be late. Not the best move on your first day back."
Hermione still hesitated, one hand on Rose's head. "Are you sure you can stay home all day? What if George needs you? The shop has been so busy lately, and your mum isn't able to help as much as she used to, Ginny's about to give birth, and –"
Ron pressed an index finger to Hermione's lips. "Will you stop, already?" he asked, his grin taking the sting from the words. "We've been over this a thousand times; Luna is available to help out and Katie's on staff full time now to handle the actual business end of things. I'm on strictly research and development duty for the time being, which I can do just as easily from home." He removed his finger and replaced it with his lips. After an all-too-brief moment he pulled away. "Now go, and knock 'em dead, as always."
Hermione smiled, stooped to collect her briefcase, turned gracefully on the spot and disappeared with a small pop.
Ron breathed a sigh of relief and hefted his daughter up to look in her eyes. "Peace and quiet at last!" he said, giving Rose a quick kiss on the tip of her nose. "I love your mum in a million different ways, but she can get on my nerves." He was headed towards the kitchen, intent on finding some breakfast for the both of them, when a voice from the fireplace brought him to a halt.
He almost didn't turn around, mainly because he didn't want to believe his ears.
"Hermione, why are you calling? You just left here, literally, a second ago!"
"I know," she replied. "I just wanted to make sure everything was OK."
Ron rolled his eyes again, this time making sure that Hermione did see it. "Everything is fine. See?" He took Rose's tiny arm in his hand and had her wave at her mother. "Things will be even better if you let us both go so we can eat some breakfast."
Hermione blushed. "Oh, sorry. I didn't realize. . . You need. . ." She stopped stammering. "I'll get to work now."
Ron tried to hide his grin. "Probably a good idea," he said. "Love you!" he called out just before Hermione's head disappeared from the fireplace.
It didn't take very long to put some breakfast together. A bit of his mother's homemade apple sauce with a dash of oatmeal did the trick for Rose, and scrambled eggs and toast for himself. The tea in the pot was still warm, so Ron poured himself another cup. He had just sat back down when he heard his name being called again. Thankfully it wasn't Hermione this time. It was Ginny. He stood in the doorway between the kitchen and living-room so he could talk to his sister and keep an eye on Rose at the same time. Ginny's hair was tousled and she had a smear of what looked like egg yolk on one cheek.
"I see my nephew has been hard at work," Ron said with a smile.
"Why? What food substance do I have on my face this time?" Ginny asked.
Ron's grin grew wider. "Just some egg," he replied. "Left cheek and back towards your ear."
One of Ginny's hands became visible in the fireplace as she swiped at her cheek. All she managed to do was smear the egg a bit more. Ron laughed; Ginny scowled.
"I suppose I shouldn't even bother," she said. "When lunch time comes around I'll just get hit with something else."
"He has good aim," Ron replied. "He'll be a Chaser, just like his mum."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "For Merlin's sake do NOT say that around Harry! He's already bought the smallest pair of Seeker's gloves he could find and is waiting, impatiently I might add, for James to grow into them." She shook her head. "But I called to see how you are, first day alone with Rose."
Ron quickly glanced at his daughter, comfortable in her high chair. "Everything's fine, why?"
"Well. . ."
Ron snorted out loud. "Hermione told you to call, didn't she? How nice to know that she doesn't trust me with our daughter."
"It's not a question of 'trust', Ron" Ginny said. "It's called being a first-time mother. And when the mother is Hermione. . ."
"Who is already a worrier" Ron finished his sister's thought. "OK, I get your point." He took another quick look at Rose, who seemed to be falling asleep. "Tell Hermione that everything is fine, OK?"
Ginny gave a quick grin and disappeared from the fireplace. As her head vanished Ron thought he saw movement in the kitchen out of the corner of his eye, but when he glanced that way everything was the same. Rose was awake now, so he picked her up and made his way to the home office that he and Hermione shared, which was now also furnished with a playpen. He put Rosie down inside it, cast a Levitation charm to make a home-made mobile out of some of her toys and went to his desk. He had a lot of work to do on George's latest idea, and was hopeful of some peace and quiet to get his research done. He turned off the Floo Network, but used Hermione's Alert Charm so he would know if anyone was calling in.
It was less than fifteen minutes later that the alert chimes started going off. So much for peace and quiet, Ron grumbled to himself as he turned his chair from the desk to face the fireplace. With a quick wave of his wand he answered the call, and was not surprised to see Hermione's anxious face peering out at him.
"Has Ginny reported in yet?" he asked, a touch of exasperation in his voice. "She was supposed to assure you that everything here was fine, that both Rose and I were still alive. Especially Rose, since you seem to have no faith in my parenting skills."
"Ron. . ."
Ron sighed and pushed a hand through his hair. "I know, I know. I'm sorry, I shouldn't be sniping." He grinned at Hermione. "I suppose if you weren't worrying I'd be bothered even more, because I'd think my wife had disappeared."
Hermione smiled in response. "Yes, you would. At least you know that I am as I ever was." Her head turned in the fireplace, looking for Rose, so Ron magically pulled the playpen closer so that Hermione could see her daughter. "See?" he said, unable to resist needling his wife a little bit. "No damage done."
Hermione's smile faded a little, and Ron could tell she was tearing up a little. Before he could think of something to distract her with, however, Hermione spoke.
"I miss her," she said, so quietly that he almost missed the words. "I didn't think I would this much."
"Hermione. . ." Ron began, leaving his desk and kneeling on the hearthrug.
"I thought that with this big trial coming up I'd be sufficiently distracted, but it hasn't worked out that way." She turned her head slightly and met Ron's eyes. "I shouldn't have come back to work so soon. I'm coming home right now."
"No," Ron said, a bit more forcefully than he intended. He knew how important the upcoming trial was, and he wasn't about to let Hermione ignore that part of herself. "No, you need to stay. I know that you miss Rosie, but she'll be here when you get home. Your client needs you just a little bit more right now."
"But. . ."
No buts, Hermione," he said. "You need to be in that courtroom, fighting for what's right." He took a deep breath, hoping that his love for her would give him the right words. "You can't just stop being Hermione Granger – Barrister because you also happen to be Rose Weasley's mum. Both are a part of you. Both are a part of what makes you so special."
He could clearly see the tears in Hermione's eyes, but she nodded. "You're right. I have to be true to myself in all of my incarnations, right?" When Ron smiled in agreement she sighed deeply. "OK, I'm staying, but I expect a super special dinner when I get home."
Ron's smile widened into an all-out grin. "How does shepherd's pie with steamed vegetables and peach cobbler for desert sound?"
"It's a deal."
Hermione's head disappeared from the fire with a soft pop as Ron stood up and scooped his daughter up from the playpen. "Come on, Rosie. We've got some shopping to do to make something spectacular for your mum. Maybe get her some flowers as well; she always likes that. Bluebells, don't you think?" He jiggled Rose in his arms and she laughed in response, her toothless grin the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
A movement in front of them caught Ron's eye and he shifted Rose onto his hip. Two of her stuffed toys (a Hungarian Horntail Dragon from Uncle Harry and a black cannonball with CC emblazoned in orange) were floating in the air level with the top of the playpen but outside of it. Ron racked his brain, trying to remember if he had used those two toys as a part of his magical mobile. He was fairly certain he hadn't.
Even as that thought formed two more toys rose into the air, along with several knick-knacks on the mantle. Ron gasped, knowing that he hadn't done the magic, and lifted Rose up to look squarely into her blue eyes.
"Looks like we have something even more special for your mummy tonight," he said, feeling tears well in his own eyes. First sign of magic at only six months old; exactly what one would expect from the daughter of Hermione Granger-Weasley, smartest witch of her generation.
"And it had to be levitation," Ron said, unable to suppress a small groan. "Levi-OH-sa," he chanted to himself, remembering that fateful Charms class. "I'll never hear the end of it."