A/N: Hello my dumplings! Here is a cutesy little one-shot for all of you! It's fluffy to the core, but I hope that you'll all enjoy the flowery ride!
I'd like to shout out a mammoth THANK YOU to WeasleyForMe, for being her sweet self and beta-reading this story! Everyone who thinks they can spare one, send her a pie! :)
Well, happy reading to you!
Disclaimer: Right, so once I decided to write a story called, "Marry Plopper and the Warlock's Pebble", but it never got published. The reason was because this other lady published another book with a similar title. My lawyers told me to quit trying to be like her, and to get my own life. So, I'm passing the message onto you! I am not J.K, and her wonderful creation isn't mine. Now, excuse me while I go write, "Larry Tottler and the Old Man's Marble".
The Baby Factor
"Oh, isn't she the most precious, little thing ever!"
"I could just eat you all up! Oh, yes I could!"
"Oh my God! Did you girls just see that? She sneezed!"
There was a collective outburst of squeals in the Weasley household, as little Clara yet again demonstrated the very extents of her cuteness.
"I'm so glad that you decided to bring her along, Alice." Erika, Charlie's newest girlfriend, sighed as she took to tickling the baby girl under her chin. The child's gurgles of content sent Mrs.Weasley, Ginny, Hermione, Fleur and Katie into another chorus of excited tittering.
Alice, Fleur's cousin, gave Erika a warm smile. "Well, I never would've come to zis party at all, had it not been for poor 'Arold's sick father. My husband wished for me to be some place more…comment dire…joyful during the holidays. I did not want to leave him, but when 'Arold sets his mind on something," she gave the women a significant look, "and Fleur was generous enough to invite me along, so…" she trailed off with an elegant shrug.
The women nodded their heads understandingly before returning to their cooing over Clara. Fred and George watched the scene from afar, both shocked at the attention that the child was receiving from the female population.
"I just don't get it," Fred muttered, as Clara yawned and all seven women sighed. "What the heck is so special about it? It can't even say a word without spitting all over itself!"
George nodded in agreement. "I know! Earlier, Mum almost had a stroke when the thing burped! I mean, we burp all the time, and no one's ever sung out a stream of compliments because of it."
Fred snorted. "That's because when you burp, the whole house shakes, mate."
George shot him a look. "You're one to talk," he muttered.
"Oh, Freddy! Did you see her? Did you see her yawn?"
George snickered as Katie came skipping over and encircled her arms around Fred's waist. She looked up at her fiancé with sparkling eyes.
Fred forced out a smile. "Yes honey, I did."
Katie's whole face seemed to glow. "Fred, I want one," she whined.
Fred gave a nervous chuckle. "I'll see if there's any left down at the shop then, dear," he joked anxiously.
Katie stuck her tongue out at him before hopping back over to the baby, having been lured in by the sound of her hiccupping.
George burst out laughing as Fred sighed in relief. "Nice one bro," he chuckled.
Fred glared at him. "Laugh if you want, but Hermione's been having convulsions over the thing since it got here."
George's eyes flickered over to the giggling witch. She was dressed in a simple red dress, with golden shoes and tinsel woven into her locks. Her eyes were alight with that motherly glow that every woman got when exposed to a child, and her perfect lips were stretched into the sweetest smile. George felt his heart falter at the sight of her.
He cleared out his throat and turned his gaze back to his smirking brother. "And why should I care about that, exactly?
Fred rolled his eyes. "Deny it all you want brother dearest, but it's so painfully obvious that you like her."
"Do not." George mumbled. His protest was partially ruined, however, when Hermione shot him a dazzling smile, and he failed to remember how to breathe correctly.
"Um, Alice?" Harry suddenly called with unease, as he walked into the living room with a mysterious owl perched onto his shoulder. "There's been a letter delivered for you."
Alice frowned as she took the letter from Harry's outstretched hand. Everyone watched as her striking eyes shot across the parchment, growing more and more panicked with every line.
"It iz 'Arold's father," she finally whispered, bringing a hand down to place over her heart. "Ze healers say zat he may not live through ze night."
Fleur gasped and put an arm around her cousin. "You must go to 'im, Alice," she said sadly.
Alice nodded her head shakily. "Yes, I must. I cannot let 'Arold go through this alone. Will you take care of Clara, ma cousine?" she asked, glancing at the baby who was now cradled in Katie's arms.
Fleur shook her head violently. "Non! I cannot let you bear this burden on your own. You will need support, as well. I am coming with you," she said.
Alice exasperatedly ran a hand through her hair, but seemed to accept Fleur's decision. "Alright. But, I will not bring Clara to ze hospital. It is not ze place for her, right now. Could somebody here take care of her while I am gone?" she asked anxiously, looking around at everyone in the room.
Everybody's expressions became tortured.
"I'm sorry, Alice, but Harry and I have another party we promised to go to…normally, we'd cancel, but it's Harry's boss, you see, and we just…" Ginny trailed off awkwardly.
"And Arthur and I were supposed to go visit Aunt Muriel tonight, once the party was over. She's been very sick, and hasn't had many visitors during the holidays…" Mrs.Weasley said uneasily.
"I promised to cover for a friend's shift tonight, down at the apothecary…" Erika mumbled.
"And I always work nights, these days…" Charlie added.
Everybody else muttered they're excuses, and poor Alice seemed to grow more and more desperate by the second. The room finally grew silent, just as Alice's eyes began to shine with tears.
"Can nobody take care of her, then?" she asked sadly.
"Um, I can." Hermione said in a small voice, stepping up beside Alice and putting a comforting arm around her shoulders. "I don't have any plans for the rest of the day, and I'd be glad to watch over little Clara for you, if you really want me to," she said with a nervous smile. "I've never been around babies much, but I promise to give it my best shot."
"Oh, would you really?" Alice exclaimed, staring at Hermione as if she were an angel brought down to Earth.
Hermione nodded. "Of course. I'm sure we'll both get along great."
"Yeah, and George could stay to help Hermione out, too," Fred added.
George spun around to face his brother, eyes wide. "Don't we have to close up the shop?" he muttered out of the corner of his mouth.
"I can manage on my own, Georgey. Besides, this is a great opportunity for you to spend some time with Hermione," Fred mumbled back.
George felt his heart sputter at the thought.
"So, it iz settled then," Fleur said happily. " 'Ermione and George will look after the little one! Come now, ma cousine, we must make haste! 'Arold needs you!"
Alice nodded, as she hurriedly rushed over to give Hermione and George each a peck on the cheek. "Thank you so much, both of you!" she said breathily, as she ran off to grab her coat.
"No problem," George mumbled, as he watched Hermione take Clara into her arms, and then smile at him from across the room. "Tout le plaisir est pour moi."
"George! You can't give her that!" Hermione exclaimed.
"What?" George shouted defensively, as Hermione knelt down to pick up the toy truck he had just given Clara to play with. "Oh, come on! I used to love playing with those!"
Hermione shook her head with a grin, as she handed Clara a fuzzy plush rabbit to play with instead. "It's full of small pieces for her to swallow, George. She's barely even two yet," she explained. "How could you not realize that? Didn't you grow up with younger siblings?"
George shrugged, as he transfigured the truck into a teddy bear instead, and gave it back to Clara. "Well, yeah. But I never really paid much attention to them. I mean, Ginny was cute and all, but you should've seen Ron as a baby," he shuddered, making Hermione giggle. "No one in their right mind would've wanted to cuddle up to him…well, except Mum. Plus, he was always throwing stuff at Fred and I."
Hermione gave him a look. "Because…?"
George smiled innocently. "No reason at all! Honestly, you'd think that babies didn't like it when you transfigured their toys into different kinds of huge, poisonous insects."
Hermione burst out laughing. "He actually told me about that, once."
George smiled. "Still freaked out, huh?"
Hermione pretended to zip her lips and shrugged.
Just then, Clara decided that she had had enough of her rabbit, and toddled her way over to Hermione. Giggling at her cuteness, Hermione made a goofy face at the child, which made Clara smile prettily and stretch her arms out towards her, quietly demanding a hug.
"That kid really likes you," George observed, as Hermione took Clara into her arms and squeezed her tight.
Hermione grinned vaguely, as the little one snuggled into her arms. "Too bad she isn't mine then," she sighed.
George noticed how Hermione's eyes seemed to grow slightly sad, as Clara stretched up to give her a kiss on the nose. "Oh, don't be like that Hermione. You'll get one soon. I mean, look at you! The girl's only been with you for a few hours and she's already crazy about you! You're meant to be a mom," he said, his heart aching as he saw how his words didn't seem to comfort Hermione at all.
"Maybe," she said softly, "but who would ever want to have one with me?"
George's jaw dropped open. How could such an incredible woman as Hermione possibly think something like that?
"Hermione, any man who's right in his mind would-" but his sentence was cut off short as Clara began to cry.
Hermione immediately launched into mommy mode. "What's wrong?" she asked, turning the infant around in her arms and staring down at her with wide eyes, utterly confusing George. Did she really expect it to answer her?
"Do you need me to change your diaper?"
Clara just kept on wailing.
"Are you sleepy?"
The screams persisted.
"Do you miss your mommy?"
George's eardrums were beginning to ache. Who knew that such a tiny little thing could make enough noise to blow an ear off?
"Are you hungry, then?"
The shrieks suddenly came to an abrupt halt. Hermione smiled in satisfaction. "Let's go with that option, then."
George stared on in wonder as Hermione got up and led Clara to the kitchen.
"But, what am I supposed to do?" he shouted after her.
"You can start picking up around the living room, while I find her something to eat," Hermione called back.
George looked down at the countless toys scattered across the carpeted floor.
"Can't we trade jobs?"
George walked into the kitchen just as Hermione was pretending to fly an airplane loaded with pudding into Clara's mouth.
"All cleaned up," he said with a smile, as he pulled out a chair and sat down beside the pair.
Clara clapped her hands happily at the sight of him, and reached out to grab his nose. George just tilted his head to the side and stuck out his tongue, before making his nose vanish. Clara was sent into a fit of giggles.
Hermione affectionately shook her head at him, before handing over the little pudding cup.
"Here you go, mister funny man. It's your turn to pilot this airplane," she said.
"Whab? Bub I hab neber feb a babby before!" he exclaimed.
Hermione burst out laughing. "For Merlin's sake George, make your nose come back! Even Clara's more articulate than you are!"
George blushed before making his nose reappear. "Sorry. What I was trying to say was that I've never fed a baby before."
Hermione's eyes went soft at the sight of his panicked expression. "You are so cute," she muttered.
"What?" George asked, not quite sure of what she had just said.
Hermione's eyes widened. "Oh, I just said that I'll show you how, then!" she said quickly.
George frowned, not quite sure that Hermione was being honest with him, but leaned over to grab the spoon that she was holding out toward him all the same. Their hands brushed against each other as the spoon was transferred, and George could've sworn that he saw Hermione blush.
He was probably red as a baboon's butt, himself.
He cleared out his throat. "So, what do I do then, Master Mommy?"
Hermione glanced down at her hand, her expression a little befuddled. She hastily shook her head. "You umm, you just have to make airplane noises and slowly bring the spoon up to her mouth. She hasn't been putting up a fuss, so it shouldn't be difficult."
George nodded as he scooped out a spoonful of the chocolaty goop. Feeling utterly stupid, he began to make airplane noises and steered the spoon toward Clara's open mouth. She eagerly bit down onto the "airplane" and clumsily swallowed its contents with a smile.
"Hey, I did it!" George exclaimed happily, scraping the pudding cup for more.
Hermione laughed. "Way to go, George! I always knew you'd make a brilliant father!"
George stopped the second spoonful midway to its destination, and turned around to face Hermione.
"You…you have?" he asked.
Hermione's face warped into one of self-hatred. "Um…well, yeah. I just…I don't know. You're always so sweet, I figured that you'd be a great Dad. Woman's intuition, you know," she giggled nervously.
George's heart did a flip-flop. "You…you think I'm sweet?" he asked with a goofy smile.
Hermione was definitely blushing as she looked down at the floor and mumbled a small, "Yes."
George was about to leap up and prance around the kitchen with glee, but was stopped by a sudden high-pitched whine. He turned around to see that the spoonful of pudding was still frozen two inches away from Clara's mouth. The poor girl was banging her hands down onto the table in frustration and snapping her tiny teeth toward her meal.
"Well, you just finish up with that, George, and I'll go conjure up a crib in my room," Hermione said quickly, before dashing up the stairs.
George watched her go with a pout set on his lips. He glanced at Clara and made a face before spitefully stuffing the pudding into his own mouth instead of into hers.
Clara retaliated by throwing her pudding cup at him.
George blew out a sigh of relief, as Clara finally closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. Hermione sighed as well, dropping her head onto George's shoulder and staring at the girl in awe.
"We actually did it," she whispered.
It had taken two stories, four lullabies, and twenty minutes of rocking, but Hermione and George had finally managed to get the little one to sleep.
"I know," George whispered back. "Let's get out of here," he added, noticing how their quiet words where making Clara frown in her sleep.
They both tiptoed out of the room and made their way down to the living room. Hermione plopped down onto the couch, and after a moment of hesitation, George joined her, accidentally seating himself much too close. Their shoulders and thighs were pressed together, as he turned his head around to give Hermione a nervous smile. He was relieved to see that she didn't pull away. She just yawned sleepily and smiled back at him.
"You were really adorable while reading that story book to her," Hermione remarked with a giggle.
George shrugged. "Not as adorable as you were when singing that last lullaby. I never knew that you had such a pretty voice."
Hermione's smile widened. "You're exaggerating," she laughed.
"Am not," George playfully argued, "you practically lulled me to sleep as well!"
They both chuckled lightly, before falling silent. George took to wringing his hands together, while Hermione fiddled with her dress.
"Hermione?" George questioned uneasily, after a few moments of silence.
"Yes?" she asked, eyes staring into his.
George took a moment to marvel at her eyes before dropping his gaze. "What did you mean earlier, when you said that you didn't know who would want to have a child with you?"
Hermione smiled sadly. "Oh come on George, be serious. You know perfectly well what I meant. No man would want to have a child with me, because no sane man would want anything to do with me."
George's jaw dropped. "How could you say something like that 'Mione?" he demanded.
Hermione shook her head as she got to her feet. She sighed. "Listen. I'm not the funniest girl around, George, nor am I the most interesting. I'm not ugly, but I'm certainly not what one would call pretty, either. I may be smart, but let's face it, how many guys actually care about a girl's IQ? Most wouldn't care if their girlfriend had two brain cells, as long as she had a nice arse. And every relationship I've ever had has been horrible enough to broadcast on Oprah."
George frowned. "What's an Oprah?"
"Just forget it," she said. "I'm not fishing for compliments here," she added softly, turning her back on him so as to hide her glistening eyes, "I'm just being realistic."
George sat paralyzed in disbelief. He watched as Hermione's shoulders began to tremble, and felt his heart nearly break in two as sobs began to escape from her lips. As the crying got worse, George felt something snap inside of him.
It didn't matter if Hermione ran away from him, screaming that she never wanted to see him again. He had to do something.
Balling his hands into determined fists, George got up and made his way toward his beloved.
He took a moment to gather up every shred of courage that he possessed, before gently placing his hands onto Hermione's shoulders, and turning her around to face him.
"Hermione," he began, gazing into her puffy red eyes, "you are the funniest girl I have ever met; your very cuteness has me smiling like an incessant loon every time I'm around you. You're the most interesting person I know; you could ramble on about going to the market and buying bread, and I'd still find you fascinating. You're the most gorgeous girl I've ever seen…hell, even right now, your eyes are swollen and your hair's sticking to your tear stained cheeks, but you're still the prettiest sight on earth. You are smart; you're basically the most intelligent witch in the world, and that does mean something to me, a lot more than your arse ever could…although, it is a very nice one, I must say. And if your relationships have all gone horribly wrong, it's because the guys you've dated were all wankers, who didn't deserve you."
Hermione sniffled loudly. "George…why are you saying all this?"
"I'm saying it because," George took a deep breath, "I love you."
And he then proceeded to kiss the living daylights out of her.
The next morning found Hermione and George cuddled up together on the couch, both sleeping with the goofiest smiles ever know to mankind plastered on their faces.
"Do you think we should wake them?" Ginny whispered.
"Oh no, don't dear," Mrs.Weasley whispered back. "They're too adorable together."
"I can't believe that he actually found the balls to tell her," Fred said in wonder.
"I know," Ginny giggled, "Hermione must've been ecstatic. She's fancied him for ages."
"You don't suppose zat they did anything inappropriate in front of Clara?" Alice asked anxiously.
"If you guys don't shut up soon, I'll kill you," George mumbled groggily.
"Oh, look! Prince Charming's awake!" Fred sang.
"Fred, shut it!" Ginny scolded, swatting Fred's arm.
"George sweetie, would you mind letting Hermione go for a second and helping me with breakfast?" Mrs. Weasley asked.
George grinned. "No, Mum. Now that I have her, I am never letting Hermione go."
"Besides," Fred said over the women's sighs, "after that line, whose stomach really feels up to breakfast?"
"Shut up, Fred," Hermione muttered, squeezing an eye open. "We were all there when you proposed to Katie, and it was the sappiest speech ever."
George laughed along with the others before planting a big kiss on Hermione's cheek.
They're laughter was interrupted by Clara's sudden wails from upstairs.
"Looks like somebody iz awake," Alice mumbled, before making her way up to the second floor.
All the others shrugged, and scattered off in different directions, leaving the couple to their snuggling.
"Hey, Hermione?" George whispered in her ear, after a few moments of quiet cuddling.
"What?" Hermione asked, turning her head around to stare at George in confusion.
"I said that I'm insane. See, yesterday you said that no sane man would want to have anything to do with you. So, I must be insane."
Hermione beamed. "And is you're condition permanent, or can it be resolved with some treatment?"
George smiled and kissed her softly. "Oh, it's definitely permanent."
A/N: Anyone likey? If so, you'll drop me a review, right? It won't take long, and I'll be happy for days! -bats eyelashes-
Thanks for reading!