A/N: Many saw my one shot "Happy Christmas" and liked that, so occasionally I'll fire off another one shot here or there that will have more views of Harry and Hermione's life together. There's no real continuity between them, though this one is set after Xmas by a couple of years.
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"Good night, love," Hermione said softly as she brushed her slumbering child's cheek one last time, giving one last check to the small crystal dragon that would alert her if the young child was awoken in the middle of the night as she did. She smiled down at her youngest daughter, Alexandra Marie Potter. Lexie had a small forest of brown hair that was growing out of her scalp to match her dark brown eyes she had inherited from her mother, though she had her father's nose, Hermione reminded herself with a smile. She was close to 14 months old now, and Hermione couldn't be happier.
She quietly padded out of the room and gave one last look at her baby before gently closing the door and letting out a sigh of contentment. She looked down the long hallway of Grimmauld Place….where all her children were currently either sleeping or trying to sleep anyway. Teddy would be going off to Hogwarts in about a week, and his excitement had only grown exponentially with each passing day to September the first.
She held back a small tear as she realized that, for the next four months anyway, Teddy would be away from them for the first time since he was two years old. The house would seem empty without him there causing some form of mischief or another, even with the other kids still living at home. She sighed as she made her way downstairs to the living room. She looked at the photos of all her children that they had accumulated over the years. One bad thing about Harry is that he constantly wanted to be reminded of his family. The mantle above the installed fireplace was filled with pictures and other mementos of their family…all of them.
Not that it's a horrible thing, Hermione reminded herself. There were certainly worse flaws that one could have in a husband. Harry's upbringing could very well have damaged him emotionally; it could have made him cold and angry at the world just as it did Voldemort. But it hadn't. Instead it had made him learn to cherish that which so many others took for granted.
Harry had told her on more than one occasion that Hermione was the only anchor to his sanity that he had, particularly in the dark days of the war. Hermione believed him to a certain extent, but knew that he was exaggerating. They had both supported each other in the dark times. Their love had endured such trials and tribulations, and had emerged unscathed and stronger for the experience.
She mentally frowned when she remembered that he was late coming home that night. She knew his job as an auror meant erratic hours and a certain degree of the unknown attached to it. But despite the risk, it was just another manifestation of what she loved about Harry Potter. She had once termed it his "saving-people thing." It was that part of his character that made him save a twelve-year-old girl he barely knew from a mountain troll. It was that part of him that made him fight to stop a madman from killing his friends and loved ones. It was that part of him that made him risk his life for the people who had tormented him as a young boy.
It was just another part of the psyche of Harry Potter, another part of him for her to love.
Hermione smiled for the briefest of moments, before her world suddenly came to a sudden and gut wrenching stop.
There was a sharp knock on the door.
Hermione's breath as she first heard the sound. Almost frantically she gazed up at the clock, as if to confirm to her dumbfounded mind that the hour was indeed a late one. When she saw the minute hand focused on the 12 and the hour hand focused on the 9, she tried desperately not to panic. Probably the wind, she told herself. Though she dismissed the noise consciously, subconsciously she listened closely for a few moments.
She could have sworn her heart stopped when she heard the knock again, this time a bit sharper.
Oh God….oh god please no… she pleaded with herself, trying desperately not to think of the worst possibility. In her mind's eye, there was a brilliant flash forward of her life in the future. Her life as his widow…raising their children alone…never being able to see him light up a room with his smile….
She shook her head clear of all those images and cleared her throat. She tried to compose herself as best she could as she walked towards the front door. She grabbed the door handle after unlocking the deadbolt, grasping onto it for dear life it seemed as she slowly swung the door open.
She didn't recognize the man at first. He seemed vaguely familiar to her, as if she might have seen him at a Ministry function of some sort. He was clad in the familiar blue robes of an auror, but his eyes were bloodshot and he appeared to have not slept in quite some time. He turned as soon as he saw the door was open, and gave an apologetic look at Hermione. "Mrs. Potter?" he asked tentatively.
Oh please no… she repeated to herself over and over in her head. "Yes," she replied mechanically, trying not to show too much emotion.
"I'm sorry to disturb you at the late hour," he continued, his hands running over the rim of the bowler hat he had removed from his balding head. "But I'm afraid that your husband has been seriously injured."
Harry! She frantically exclaimed in her mental voice, though she made no outward appearance. Her breath caught again, and the grip on the door handle became even tighter. "Is he…." she paused, trying to collect herself.
"He's not dead," the man explained, "But it is serious enough that you should come with me to St. Mungo's."
Hermione nodded, a large amount of relief coming over her being. He wasn't dead…she said to herself over and over, repeating the mantra as if she was trying to prove it to herself. "Of course," she said quickly, "I just have to get someone to watch my children."
"I understand," the man replied, signaling that he would wait for her in the lobby of St. Mungo's, before apparating away. Hermione silently shut the door and promptly went through autopilot. Years later she would never remember throwing on a cloak or walking to the fireplace and floo calling Ron. She would never remember explaining the situation to him and asking him and Luna to come over to watch the children till morning. She would never remember hugging him and Luna both desperately and apologizing profusely from taking them away from their three sons and daughter for that night. She would never remember any of this.
All she would remember is walking back into the foyer and being stopped by Teddy Lupin, his hair a deep shade of blue to indicate his despair and sadness. "Mum," he asked innocently, "What's wrong?"
Hermione would always remember the confused look on his face that broke her heart and caused her to use all of her strength and resolve not to break down then and there. She swallowed hard and pulled Teddy into a tight embrace. "Your father was hurt at work," she said quietly. She quickly saw the fear and despair creep up into the boys face and tried to force herself to smile, reassuring him to an extent. "He's going to be fine," she responded, trying not to chide herself for telling a lie, and hoping to herself that she really wasn't lying at all. "But I need to be with him." She could feel Teddy's arms tighten around her as she broke the news. Teddy quickly broke away and grabbed his own cloak from a coat rack in the hallway.
"I'm going with you," he said resolutely.
"Teddy, you should…"
"NO!" Teddy yelled, his hair turning a fiery red in a quick burst of anger. He quickly calmed himself and stared at his mother with pleading eyes. "Please mum….I just need to be sure he's going to be fine…I…" he hung his head slightly while trying to fight off his tears.
She should have told him to go back to bed. She should have told him to be there for his younger brothers and sisters when they awoke to the news that morning. She should have done many things. Instead at that moment, all she did was lift Teddy's chin and stare directly into his eyes, silently nodding her head and motioning for him to hold on tight. Moments later, gripping him as tightly as she could, they apparated to St. Mungo's lobby.
If the mood hadn't been so grim, she'd have chuckled to herself that she hadn't splinched her or Teddy in her rush to get to St. Mungo's. She quickly broke away from Teddy, though she kept an arm over his shoulders to keep him somewhat close. The man from the door saw her and motioned for the two of them to follow him.
They were led down a long corridor, past what Hermione knew as the magical equivalent of a muggle emergency room, down towards a serious of isolated rooms for patients in observation. They walked past two doors before stopping at the third one on the right. Hermione took a deep breath and gripped Teddy's hand as if it were a lifeline, both trying to perform her duties as a mother and to maintain her own composure at the same time, before slowly opening the door.
The room was painted the same off-white color that most hospital rooms were painted. A bland, toneless color that was both oddly and annoyingly calming at the same time. Hermione's breath caught and tears threatened to leak out of her eyes when she saw Harry's pale form lying on the bed. She looked down when she heard someone else's breath hitch and she instinctively tried to hold Teddy closer to her. He fought against her grip and she reluctantly let him rush to his father's side. Teddy slowed and fell down to his knees at his father's bedside, seemingly afraid to touch him, as if the slightest movement would break him. Hermione slowly walked over towards him and placed a hand on his shoulder, fighting desperately with herself not to break down crying at that very minute.
"Is he…." Teddy managed to squeak out in a voice barely above a whisper. Hermione nearly broke down at seeing Teddy reduced to this quivering young child. Teddy had always idolized his godfather, really viewing him as his own father. He still held reverence for Remus and Tonks, and desired to know everything he could about them, but to every other child he had ever met he had always been proud of the fact that Harry Potter was his dad. And not just for the fame either, but because he genuinely believed that Harry was the greatest father in the world.
If the situation were different, Hermione would have immediately nodded her head in agreement with her eldest son. At the moment however, she composed herself as best she could. She fell to her knees and Teddy came running to her, his tears falling freely at this point, and Hermione scolded herself for giving in to her child's demands earlier. "He's going to be fine," she repeated to Teddy, now feeling less certain that she was telling the truth. She pulled Teddy away and looked into his light brown eyes, trying to convey the seriousness of the matter. "I need to speak with the healer," she calmly explained. "I need you to go home and be with your brothers and sisters when they wake up tomorrow."
"No buts Teddy," she said, this time a little more firmly. She saw the worry evident in his eyes and hoped a compromise would work. "You won't have to go to bed when you go home. You can stay up with Uncle Ron and Aunt Luna and wait for me to return with information. I promise I will floo you as soon as I know anything." Teddy sniffed, giving a long look at his father before he said anything to his mother.
"You promise he'll be okay?" he asked hesitantly, his voice quivering slightly. Hermione turned his head back to meet her gaze and she smiled as best she could, her own composure beginning to fail her.
"I…I can't make that promise sweetie," she said quietly, "But what I can promise you is that the healers and I will do everything we can to make him well again." She decided to try a different tack, once again summoning up whatever sense of maternal instinct she could muster at that given moment. "You can help just by being with your brothers and sisters. They look up to you Teddy, and if you tell them not to worry, then they won't. And if I know that someone is looking after them, and then I can focus more on helping your father get better sooner."
Teddy paused a moment, seeming to debate with himself the notion of what his mother was asking. Finally, he clenched his fists and wiped his tears away, steeling his eleven year old resolve into an iron-clad will. Silently he nodded his head, and Hermione smiled, before hugging him again. "Thank you son," she said quietly, before leading him out of the room. She mechanically led him down to the floo near the entryway, and watched as he left back home with the most basic of information from Ron. She knew she'd have to get information to her son soon, and to the rest of her family. For now though she slowly walked back towards Harry's room, not really looking at anyone else who was in the hospital, including the few people that recognized her from press photos and the fact that she was Harry Potter's wife.
Once she returned to her husband's hospital room, she was surprised to see a team of two mediwitchs and an elderly healer standing over her husband's side. The mediwitches she didn't recognize immediately. However she did recognize the healer as someone she had worked with in her capacity as a researcher for St. Mungo's.
"Healer Meadowbrook," she said quietly, causing everyone to turn to look at her. Her heart pace quickened and she felt a knot forming at the bottom of her stomach. "What's wrong with him? Is he going to be alright? How long is he…" Healer Meadowbrook nodded his head and one of the mediwitches rushed out of the room for some calming draught as Hermione began to work herself into a frenzy. He quietly set down his clipboard and walked over to Hermione, calmly leading her to a small chair that sat near the bedside.
"Your husband is out of immediate danger," he explained quietly, and Hermione silently closed her eyes and wiped unshed tears from her mind at that simple statement. "Of course he's not out of the woods yet. He was hit with a variety of curses and while we've stabilized his condition, his magical core suffered a terrible trauma today." He smiled at the young mediwitches who brought a small bottle of calming draught and handed it to him. He nudged Hermione's shoulder to break her out of her stupor, and she looked up at him with a regained sense of fear.
"Drink this," he ordered, handing the bottle to her. "It won't do to have you going into hysterics too Mrs. Potter." Hermione silently nodded her head, too stunned for words, as she downed the potion in one gulp. Almost immediately she felt a small sense of peace fall over her frantic mind.
"What's the prognosis," she quietly asked, as she leaned over and grasped Harry's hand. She was alarmed at how cold and clammy it felt in her grasp.
"We need to wait a few more hours to see if his body responds to the potions we gave him," the healer explained. "Until then we'll keep him in this magical coma so that he can heal better. For now…we've done all we can." Hermione nodded. While the prognosis wasn't exactly grim, it wasn't rosy either. Healer Meadowbrook placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, before moving out of the room with the mediwitches behind him.
Silently, Hermione got out of the chair and kneeled down next to her husband. His complexion was pale, and his normally loose raven locks were clumped together, matted by dirt. She cautiously placed a hand over his forehead, alarmed to feel the lack of warmth there. She moved her hands back down to his own, and grasped them softly, afraid to squeeze too hard.
"Harry," she whispered to the motionless man, "You can't leave us now. Not when we have so much to live for still. None of your children have even gone to Hogwarts yet…we….there's so much left for you to do Harry." She lifted his cold hand up to her face and rubbed her cheek against it, tears glistening in her eyes. "You still need to give tips to all your kids about how to play Quidditch. You need to glare at every young boy that your daughter's bring home. You need to hold your grandchildren in your arms Harry. There's so much life left for you to live…." She choked back a sob, letting his hand fall to his side. Her control finally gave away, and she lowered her head onto the bedside, letting out muffled cries of despair.
After a few moments, she regained her composure and looked back up at her husband through tear-stained eyes. She frantically grabbed at his hand and held it close to her heart. "We haven't had enough time Harry," she sobbed, "A lifetime wouldn't be enough time for us. But we haven't even had that….you can't leave me now….please…" She held onto his hands a few moments longer, looking for any sign of life. When she saw none, she collapsed again, still holding desperately onto his hand and crying deeply.
Then, just as suddenly as she had been drawn into the night's affairs by a brief knock on the door, her heart wrenched into her throat when she felt the tiniest squeeze from his hand. It was ever so brief, like a light summer breeze that came and went so suddenly that you wondered if it was even there in the first place. She held her own breath, wishing beyond hope that it wasn't just a reflex of her mind.
A few moments later, she felt his hand squeeze hers again, and she let out a sob of relief. She heard him groan slightly and she looked up to him. She saw the tiniest sliver of emerald peeking out from beyond closed lids, and heard him whisper in a hoarse voice, barely audible to her ears…"Never leave you….promise." His energy expended, Harry's eyes closed again, and he fell into a deep sleep.
Hermione smiled and cried tears of joy. He had promised that he wouldn't be leaving her anytime soon, and if there was one thing she loved most about her husband, it was that he never….ever….broke his promises.
He would return to her. He would be alright.
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When I started this I anticipated it being a longer oneshot than it turned out being. That was at the beginning of last month.
Since that time I have been plagued by family issues that have left my writing woefully neglected. Suffice it to say, I've been working like mad to write the last two days, but nothing but this was completed. Suffice it to say I have partial chapters of both Heirs and ATSHB sitting on my word processor. Actually it's more like a completed chapter of ATSHB two more in early drafts, while Heirs is sitting at about three quarters of the way done, with another one drafted out. I figure if I made you wait this long, I should probably come up with two or three chapters to satiate your needs, given my usual chapter length.
So, bear with me, U should have something up by this weekend. Until then, use this small little piece of fluff to tide you over.