A/N: Well, this is the first piece of mine in quite some time that isn't a response to a challenge, and I have to admit I'm pretty proud of it.
Thank you to Dejsha (Verna Sauventreen) for beta-ing this for me. You rock! :) And thanks to Jonathon (LuminationPresenter) and Paddy (2Padfoot00Moony9) for helping me sort out the accuracy of the last bit of the story.
I hope you enjoy!
Linda Granger had assumed that she'd miss her work at the dental practice while staying home with her baby daughter. As much as she had longed for this gift of a child, she was never one to like remaining home with no choice but to dedicate her energy to one certain element, this component being little Hermione Jean. She could easily recall the days of her unproblematic pregnancy when she could read, garden or take walks around the neighborhood without any conflicts.
But as Hermione grows older, Linda's postulation is proven wrong. Her daughter is no drooling, monotonous baby like Linda's friends' children are. At the tender age of three weeks, Hermione adopts a peculiar look; one Linda begins studying vigilantly to decode its meaning.
It is a reflective look, giving off the impression that Hermione is taking everything in, processing it for future references. Her nose will crinkle and her eyebrows will knit together. She'll wave her hands frivolously, as if demanding more of whatever object she is intent on that day.
Linda's mother comes for a visit then and when Linda tells her about Hermione's odd façade, her mother only smiles knowingly. "Like mother, like daughter, Linda. You were the same. So alert, so smart!"
The newly-minted grandmother then scoops up her granddaughter, cooing at her and bouncing her in her arms. Linda only stares from the other side of the room, her head tilted incredulously.
Her older sister, Rose, who already has three little children of her own, agrees with their mother when Linda tells her of Hermione's symptoms. "I remember you as a baby. You didn't get much attention, but you mulled over things, that's for sure…"
If her mother and sister say it's so, it's probably true. Linda almost doesn't want her daughter to turn out like her, that being scholarly and somber, leaving no time for any fun. Her worst memories are from her teenage years, when she was a miserable wallflower with no friends, having nothing to do but read. Books quickly became her best friends, and the stories inside the covers were soothing to her. The characters were Linda's confidants who understood her, who loved her. She was the quintessence of a forlorn, soft-spoken bookworm.
But, she supposes that history must always repeat itself.
"Charles Septimus Weasley!" A vein throbs in Molly Weasley's neck as she zooms over to her son. Seven-year-old Charlie glances obliviously at her, the tiny red-faced baby squirming in his arms.
"What, Mum? Ronald likes it!"
She only bends down to swipe her two-week-old son away from Charlie's careless grip. "You mustn't hold baby Ronald without Daddy or me there, Charlie. You must be very gentle…"
Being the vigorous boy he is, Charlie has already lost interest, now having joined nine-year-old Bill on the floor, beginning a game of chess with him. Three-year-old Percy sits in the overstuffed armchair by the fireplace, immersed in the picture book Arthur brought home for him the other day. The twins, turning two years old next month, are playing with Bill and Charlie's old toy broomsticks, gleefully levitating three feet into the air. Occasionally, a scuffle will break out among some of the boys; with Ronald's mouth slurping at her engorged breast, Molly dives in between them to break up the quarrel. It is like this every day, with or without a new baby.
It is when Percy and the twins are napping and Bill and Charlie are outside that she's finally alone with Ronald. Dark circles sagging underneath her eyes, Molly plops down onto the sofa jadedly, with her sixth son resting in his cot, which she sets up in the living room during the day. It seems that he will fall asleep soon – hopefully before the other boys come in for lunch.
Percy's birth and beyond was when she stopped devotedly studying her newborn's face. There were other children to tend to, other obligations to be completed. There was very little time to be alone with whatever child was the youngest. Now it feels very strange to be looking down at Ronald with no interruptions. She wonders what his personality will be like in the future. Having five older brothers who'll each certainly outshine him at some point can't exactly be helpful to him. Will he be a follower, someone who gives in easily, who does whatever others do?
"Mummmm! I'm hungry!" There was an echoing sound of her boys tramping into the kitchen, sitting at the table and calling for her. Molly cringes at their noise but is surprised when Ronald doesn't move in his cot and continues sleeping.
As she rises from the couch to attend to the others, Molly smiles gently. Ronald won't be the same. He hasn't joined the boys in their screaming. Now she knows he'll be different.
Another batch of extensive relatives is over today, to pay the family their well wishes and meet the new addition to the clan. Baby Draco rests in the eloquent cradle in the den, being tended to by the nanny whenever he is fussy. Narcissa must chat idly with the women while Lucius discusses greater matters with the men. Then one of the uncles will raise his wine glass and call for a toast. "To Lucius and his new son!"
She is never mentioned in these toasts; it isn't right for the mother of the child to be mentioned at all. No one admires her for the hours of labor she sat through to bring her son here. No one asks her if the pregnancy was tumultuous or calm. If it weren't for her sister and female cousins enveloping her in a throng of ceaseless talking, Narcissa would be sitting by Draco's cot, giving the nurse the hour off and finally doing what a new mother was supposed to do. But her family believes that she shouldn't tend to her son at all. Bellatrix insists, "That's what the wrenched nanny is for, Cissy!"
Bella wouldn't understand these sudden nurturing feelings Narcissa has after giving birth – she has never been pregnant, nor does she ever wish to be. Narcissa deliberately hasn't told her that she intends to only keep the nurse around for the next few weeks and then let her off with no hard feelings. For a moment, she wishes that Andromeda could be here, so they could compare mothering techniques of the sort – 'Dromeda's own daughter is about seven years old now. In the back of her mind, Narcissa shamefully wonders what her niece looks like. It's a crime to even think of Andromeda and anything associated with her; she learned that a long time ago.
The mindless chatter of her relatives is driving her insane. How many more times can they discuss the Dark Lord's doings? Narcissa is as faithful to him as any other family member, but talk of him can get so dull. Quietly, she slips out of the crowded hall and into the den. There, the nanny immediately rises upon her arrival. "Yes, Mistress Malfoy?"
"You may take your break now, Helena. I want to sit with him for awhile."
The nurse appears surprised but still leaves after curtsying to her charge's mother. Narcissa takes her spot on the sofa, looking down at her son's innocent face. She assumes he'll be just like the rest of the Malfoys – egocentric, powerful, merciless. He really has no other options. Deep down, she wants something different for him. But yet, she knows that in this family, no one can be too dissimilar – everyone must be the same, with the same goals in mind, the same feelings. As much as it is wrong, Narcissa can't help but feel sorry for what's in store for her baby, and what he must become – just another Malfoy.
"Alice, this child needs much more meat on his bones," her mother-in-law frowns disapprovingly at her, her brow furrowed as little Neville wriggles in her arms. "Have you been feeding him nothing but breast milk?"
As much as she'd like to snap at Augusta, Alice bites her lip hard and then smiles lightly at her, simply shrugging. "Neville's actually been eating a lot, Augusta. He's just very active, is all."
"Come on now, Mum." Across the room, Frank is uncharacteristically blushing like a nervous schoolboy as his mother berates Alice. "I was never a big baby either."
"No, but you had a healthy and well-balanced diet." Augusta raises an eyebrow, silently daring him to speak any further. Frank understands the message and glances down, only for Alice to catch his eye and give him a tiny, reassuring grin. She then makes him smile too, as she often does.
"Your father would have been so disappointed that you didn't name your son after him," Augusta continues. Behind her back, Frank makes a joking face at his wife, who fights back a laugh. "Really, where did the name Neville come from?"
Her son and daughter-in-law nod their heads at her words, but say nothing. Underneath all of her belittling, Augusta loves them; they both know that. They've learned to just smile and listen to her, and speak only when directly spoken to. She only lectures because she cares.
Poor baby Neville is still trapped in his grandmother's arms, sucking on his thumb because his mother's milk isn't accessible at the time. He glances at his parents somewhat pleadingly, as if too afraid to begin crying and be rescued from Augusta's clutches. Inside, Alice bubbles over amusedly at her baby's reaction. Over the course of his short lifetime, Neville has quickly become her world. It's impossible not to fall in love with his big, lively eyes and his captivating smile. She can't remember life without him. Motherhood seems natural to her, as odd as it is.
"They're not babies forever, Alice, you need to squeeze in the time you have with him now before it's too late…"
"I know, Augusta." Alice decides that now is the time to take Neville, and swipes him out of his grandmother's arms in a flash, holding him against her chest. How could she not want to spend time with this angel? She'll never leave him.
…She'll always be there for him.
Dear little Harry makes up for the fact that they're in hiding, tucked away from the world, confined to this small space. Seeing his wide grin makes her forget about the reason they're here – for the past several days, the Prophecy has been far from her mind, and all that occupies her thoughts is James and her new son.
Sirius was here just the other day to see three-month-old Harry. "Too bad for you, Lily," he had said with a smile. "He looks nothing like you." He'd paused, and then corrected himself. "Except for the eyes, of course."
Lily is proud of her son's inheritance of her eyes. That way, it's almost like they share what they see with each other, and will have that connection for life. Otherwise, he can look exactly like James, for all she cares – he'll still have her eyes.
She wonders when they'll be able to go about life normally again. She wishes to take Harry so many places while he is still young – she must concentrate on these thoughts or else she'll always be afraid of what might happen. She thinks back to happier times, memories from her school days, and days even before then that consisted of playing with Petunia and Sev – separately, of course. Then the baby cries and she's pulled out of her daydreams, forced to face reality.
James tries to convince her that things will turn out fine, although Lily knows he doesn't believe that himself. Neither of them can help it when their minds go spinning off into the unknown. Despite her worries, all Lily wants is to be there for her son, to be everything a mother should be to him. A mother should be understanding, but resolute; affectionate, but meticulous. She strives to be the perfect mother to Harry, although she knows that being so is unfeasible. How can a mother be perfect when she doesn't know what will happen to her, her husband, or her son?
But on the outside, Lily is strong. She has to be, or she'll go crazy. She can conceal her feelings all she wants as long as she remembers why she's in this situation
It's because of Harry. It's because she loves him unreservedly and will do anything to protect him. As long as he's here, she'll be okay.
She doesn't know what he'll be like when he grows up. She doesn't know if he'll be a great leader or a docile hanger-on. She'll let him be what he wants to be. She'll always support him.
Lily will always love her child, no matter what.
A/N: Well? Like it, hate it? Reviews are my only payment! Please leave a word or two, I'd really appreciate it!