A/N: This is a response to the Mother's Day Challenge at the HPFC, a lovely idea indeed!
Dedication: To msllamalover (Jay), the creator of this challenge and one of the greatest friends I've never met! ;) You're awesome!
An aroma fills her nostrils and she licks her lips, stirring as the smell of coffee and bacon mixes together, creating a scent that can perfectly describe lazy Sunday mornings in her life. Cracking open her eyelids, Hannah smiles groggily as she sees Neville above her, a breakfast tray filled to the brim in his hands.
"'Morning, love," Neville sits on the bed, carefully placing the tray in front of her. "How did you sleep?"
"Quite well for being four months pregnant," Hannah muses, selecting a strip of bacon from her plate. "But why this, Neville?" She gestures towards the extravagant arrangement of food. "It's so thoughtful of you though…"
Her husband points to the wall calendar. "It's Mother's Day, remember?"
"I'm not officially a mother yet."
Neville merely smiles and rests his hand against the slight bulge under Hannah's nightgown. "You're with child either way. Don't you think you deserve some special treatment?"
"If it involves this coffee," Hannah grins over the rim of her mug as the well-brewed liquid pleasantly burns her throat, "then definitely."
But when Neville looks away, Hannah observes her pregnancy bump wistfully. Motherhood – such a daring, over-the-top responsibility. So much are expected of mothers – perhaps that's why they received their own day of being admired? Or was it just because the job was so tiring that all mothers required this period of rest? Perhaps soon she would know…
A head of tangled, yellow hair comes racing at her and Hannah immediately bends down to scoop up her daughter. Alice will turn two this year, and Neville already marvels about how much their little girl resembles her mother. As Hannah looks into Allie's lit face, she can't help but admit that he's right – her sky blue eyes are reflected back at her, while Alice's blonde hair is disheveled and chin-length, as Hannah's is at the moment. Secretly, she doesn't mind the similarities, and would feel rather awful if her child had inherited Neville's blustery looks.
"Alice, you're supposed to keep Mummy in her bedroom until breakfast is ready," Neville glances up from the stove firmly, but with an amused grin on his face. Hannah knows how difficult it is for him to scold Alice, no matter how much he tries to.
"Nonsense, you know how hard it is for me to just sit there and wait," Hannah tickles Alice under the chin as she slips her into her high chair, and Alice grins, squealing delightedly. "I'd much rather be with you two."
Neville shrugs, dismissing the matter, and begins shoveling pancakes onto a plate for her. Hannah has come to enjoy this part of Mother's Day, when the masculine role cooks meals and takes over the caring of the child. Although, she still doesn't share with her husband the story of the burnt hash browns she disposed of last year when Neville was tending to Allie.
"Happy Mother's Day, darling," Neville places a filled plate in front of her. "And here's to many more to come."
"I can't wait," Hannah smiles at him and then turns to Alice, to find her smooth pink lips already smeared with maple syrup. Blatantly oblivious to her sticky face, Alice beams at her mother, eyes shining.
The shrieks of her toddlers jolt her awake on Mother's Day that year, nearly two hours before Neville planned to wake them to cook their mother's breakfast together. Hannah slips out of bed determinedly when she hears them, completely disregarding today's meaning. Alice and Frankie, at four and two, share a room across from their parents', for easy access to them.
In the children's room, Alice is moaning as she hides underneath her pillow, while Frankie whines, clutching to the bars of his crib. The painted circus animals on their walls seem almost threatening in the dark, and Hannah is quick to switch on the light.
"Mummy, Frankie won't stop crying," Alice peeks out from her blanket. "He's keeping me up."
"I'm sorry, darling," Hannah smiles weakly at her daughter and goes to lift Frankie out of his crib. "Oh, hush-hush, baby, Mummy's here…" She sits with him in the rocker in the corner, pushing the chair back and forth as her son's breath wavers between a sob and a gurgle. Hannah runs her fingers through his thick brown curls, soothing him gently. Frank is a beautiful baby – she is sure there is no other two-year-old boy more adorable.
"Mummy, I want to be rocked!" a muffled voice rings out from Alice's bed, and she slips out from underneath the covers, rushing to the rocker's side. "Please?"
Hannah hesitates, but shifts Frankie around in her lap so there is room for Alice. "All right, climb up here."
Alice smiles gleefully and scrambles up. With two small heads burrowed in her chest, Hannah strokes the silken skin of her children, kissing the tops of their heads. Soon enough, as the rocking continues, their breaths are steady and soft, and both Alice and Frankie have fallen asleep.
But Hannah stays put, relishing in the young, dependent faces that will soon no longer be fully reliant on her.
"Eleanor! Get those egg shells out of the batter!"
"Dad, does bacon grease stain?"
"Why can't Mummy wake up, Daddy?"
Hannah smiles into her pillow at the sounds erupting from the kitchen. As they've grown older, her three children still struggle to get along with each other. But Neville never disappoints her and still manages to keep the children happy long enough to prepare a meal together.
Several knocks sound at her door, giggles coming from the other side. Hannah attempts to appear bushy-tailed, as if she was just waking up at the moment. Leaning back onto the pillows, she calls out softly, "Yes?"
The door creaks open and eight-year-old Alice pops her head in, with six-year-old Frankie and two-year-old Eleanor peeking in from behind her. Alice, standing tall and proud, trying to act as grown-up as possible, announces promptly, "Your breakfast's ready. Do you want us to bring it to you in bed?"
"Oh, no," Hannah tosses her feet over the side of the bed cheerily, putting on her slippers. "I prefer to eat breakfast in the kitchen with the rest of you, you know that."
This is the family's first Mother's Day living above the Leaky Cauldron in London. While it has been a business breakthrough for Hannah, it has upset Alice the most. She clearly misses their old home at Godric's Hollow and Hannah hates seeing her unhappy, but yet, Alice is adjusting, even though she denies it.
"Dad says that we're going to work downstairs today," Frankie tells her as they make their way to the kitchen. "So you don't have to."
"Thank you," Hannah squeezes her son's shoulder. "That'll be lovely."
Working. Back at Godric's Hollow, she'd do necessary household chores that were considered working. On the day meant for mothers, she'd be excused from these errands. But here, the term is differently used. She is actually working, receiving payment for serving people and taking charge of the business. Mother's Day, apparently, has a whole new meaning now.
This morning, there is no demanding voice from the kitchen waking her up, and no annoyed visages on Frankie and Eleanor's faces at breakfast. In fact, there are two empty chairs at the table now. Hannah sits there with her two younger children, and the clock in the next room ticks away at the minutes. Finally, she opens her mouth. "Children, how about I start on our breakfast?"
Seven-year-old Eleanor protests. "No! Daddy's going to be here, he promised! Then we'll make breakfast for you together!"
"Ellie, it's getting late. I don't mind cooking on Mother's Day."
"No," Eleanor's face grows determined. "Frankie and I are going to wait for Daddy."
Her much quieter brother nods in agreement. "We can have brunch, Mum. Dad's coming soon."
As if his statement triggered something, the front door's lock sounds and Neville rushes in, a briefcase in tow, his traveling robes covered in soot.
"Daddy!" Eleanor flies to his side. "We need to start breakfast now! Mummy's waiting!"
Neville chuckles at his little girl as he undoes the clamp on his cloak. "I'll be right there, Ellie. Why don't you and Frankie start gathering the mixing bowls while I put away my things?"
Eleanor obeys, tugging Frank along with her. Hannah rises from the table and joins her husband out in the foyer. Once the clatter of metal bowls throbs out from the kitchen, she speaks. "She didn't want to come home?"
Neville is the Herbology professor at Hogwarts. Since starting work there, he always returns home for the special Sunday of the year, to ease Hannah's stress level and make the day decent for her. However, Alice, now a third-year at the school, has refused to come home for Mother's Day each year.
"Well, she said she needed to finish some homework," Neville tries to avoid the subject by clamoring around with his cloak, "but that she'd write you sometime this week."
Hannah nods, trying not to show her hurt. When Alice ignores her like that, it makes her feel unappreciated – like her daughter doesn't care enough. Alice has always been feisty, going against her mother's words and rebelling at times. It has gotten worse since her thirteenth birthday last August. Maybe as her children grew, this was what Mother's Day became – a time when they are elsewhere, not bothering to come and see their aging mother and just thank her for all she did…
Today has to be the loneliest Mother's Day yet. For once, her morning is spent solitarily. She wakes herself up and makes her own breakfast. The pub is closed today, so she sits quietly reading the Sunday Prophet. She purposely wrote Neville last week and told him to come later that evening – she has business to do this morning.
At half past ten, she conjures up a bouquet of flowers with her wand and then Disapparates from the pub. Her destination is the isolated graveyard in which her mother was buried in so long ago. Upon arriving at the cemetery, she trudges through the dewy grass until coming across the correct tombstone:
1954 – 1996
Beloved Wife and Mother
Sighing, Hannah places her flowers in front of Mum's grave carefully, arranging them with great precise. She has always admired her dear old mum and loved her so. What would Mum do in Hannah's situation? What would she say if she had three children, ages eighteen, sixteen, and twelve, who didn't even bother to write their mum or come see her on Mother's Day?
She doesn't blame the absence entirely on her children – they are growing people with their own lives away from home. Eleanor and Frankie are at Hogwarts, in their second and fifth years, living happily with friends and their father. Eleanor will spend the day studying dedicatedly in the library, while Frank will struggle his way through OWL practice exams. Alice, however, has less of an excuse. She is nearly a year out of school, working as a Ministry secretary. Of all the days in the year, she chooses today to not come home?
Hannah knows that they couldn't be children for ever. She just thought that they'd love her as much as they had as children – or did they still?
"By the looks of it," Hannah states glumly to herself, "they don't."
They all spend Mother's Day at the Burrow this year. An aging Mrs. Weasley is flooded by her children and grandchildren and Teddy and Victoire's little baby, and Hannah watches from a distance, almost envious of the love the motherly Molly receives. She would be much more green-eyed if her own children were not here and weren't making her so proud of them.
The three Longbottom kin (she can't say children anymore) are talking in the corner of the living room with the numerous Weasleys and Potters, as well as Dominique's fiancé and Rose's husband.
She sees Eleanor, sixteen, exchange hushed, giggly words with her best friend, Lucy Weasley. The younger of Hannah's daughters is short but slender, and her smile can warm the coldest heart. She has grown quiet over the years, but that doesn't stop her from speaking her mind.
Frank (Frankie no longer) is a strapping twenty-year-old. Sans the muscles he earned from hauling around Bludgers for the Chudley Cannons, he is the spitting image of how Neville looked at his age. Despite his age, Frank has stayed the closest to Hannah over the years.
Alice, twenty-two, sits a tad away from the center of the group, sitting on the arm of James Potter's chair. The two keep glancing sideways at each other, smiling for no particular reason, and Alice fiddles with the engagement ring on her finger, cheeks reddening quickly whenever she does.
Hannah loves them all so. She had been scared of Mother's Day in the past, when she was being neglected. But now, she has learned that as the three grow and relate more to parenthood and being adults, they truly appreciate her. Seeing her children learn something like this makes her feel accomplished, that she has done the right thing as a mother.
As the large group begins serving themselves dinner buffet-style, her children approach her one at a time, separately, and hug her, smile, and say without irony:
"Happy Mother's Day, Mum – I love you."
And Hannah beams, because she knows it's the truth.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it! Please leave a word or two in a review, I'd fully appreciate it!