Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters, though I wish I did. They are all property of J.K. Rowling and her business associates.

The Days After

7 - New Life

The owl brought them Ron's invitation for his wedding with some additional words from Ron:

"Hi you two (or three),

I have not told mom of your pregnancy or she would have gone ballistic, so please make sure to disillusion your stomach so that mom won't notice it before the guests start to leave.

Angelina came to visit George and they seem to have a lot to talk about. Maybe this will help George.

And Harry – don't be late. I need you as my best man.

Ron

P.S.

I couldn't floo-call you. Where did you go? Ron."

Hermione managed to disillusion her belly so that nobody noticed, although Lavender seemed to be a little worried for not seeing Hermione as she had expected to see her, but Ron whispered in her ear and she calmed immediately.

George was going hand-in-hand with Angelina and seemed to act more like himself than previously.

"Would you like to dance?" asked Harry.

"I wish I could. I'm not yet three months into this and I can hardly stand on my feet anymore. Go dance with Ginny or Cho or whoever you may fancy" said Hermione.

"The one that I fancy doesn't want to dance" said Harry.

"Then what will you do?"

"I could levitate you, so you will not need to stay on your feet" he suggested.

"Don't you dare! I won't be levitated like a potato bag!"

"Well, it was just a suggestion. Would you like me to bring you some drinks?"

"Only some soda, please. I feel like I need to eat for two but to drink for four."

Harry went to the bar and returned promptly with two glasses. Hermione looked at him thankfully.

A few moments later, after she finished drinking, Hermione seemed once again as if she was going to fall asleep.

"Let's go home" said Harry.

"Fine, I feel exhausted as if I really danced the whole evening."

Harry grabbed her shoulder to help her walk to the car. He didn't dare use apparition or even the floo network when she was in such a state.

"Are you going already?" It was Ginny who intercepted them.

"Yes, we must. Hermione is too tired," answered Harry.

"Are you well Hermione? You look so pale!"

"I'm fine, thank you, but this pregnancy is just so hard on me. I tire faster than a baby."

"I'm really sorry for you. Can I help you in any way?"

"Just help Hermione walk to the gate, so I can bring the car there and pick her up," suggested Harry.

"A car? Like the one dad used to have?" wondered Ginny.

"No, it is just a simple muggle car with no magical enhancements. I want Hermione to be as safe as possible while she is in this state."

"Is it really that safe?"

"With me driving and using shield charms all over it is as safe as possible. Give my regards to Dean. Where is he?"

"Dad is talking with him and his father about some muggle contraptions. You're lucky he didn't see your car, though. You know how he is…"

Harry had to eventually levitate Hermione to bed, as she was fast asleep by the time they reached home, and he didn't dare carry her for fear he might hurt the baby.

"You must be ready. You may have to give birth any day now" said the healer, a few days later.

"I really feel like I'm going to burst. I can't stand and I can't sit and I can't even stretch in bed and when I try to sleep he keeps waking me up every few minutes. I feel like a loser" said Hermione with tears in her eyes.

"You're doing fine. Just a few more days and it will be over. You may find it much easier to care for the baby once he is out, especially with such a sped-up pregnancy."

"I hope you are right… I just can't stand this anymore…"

Hermione knew that Harry felt really bad about the situation. He was blaming himself for Hermione's suffering. 'I should have reminded her of the anti-conception charm' he was telling himself. 'I should have used some muggle precautions' and 'I should have not had sex with her' were his constant thoughts, although he knew it was no use. That sex had bound them while creating this new life, and they couldn't possibly act differently at that time. He only wanted to ease Hermione's suffering but he could do almost nothing.

Hermione woke up late at night. She felt sharp pain in her abdomen. It lasted a few seconds and then disappeared. She looked at the clock and took notice of the time. She then tried to go back to sleep, but she couldn't. Some time later she felt another pain. She was now sure it was a contraction, but it was still quite far from the previous. She didn't think she should wake Harry. He was working hard to make her as comfortable as possible. He deserved his sleep.

Two hour later she couldn't hold it anymore. "Harry!" she stirred him awake crying his name. The bed seemed wet.

"I think I broke my waters!" she told him.

Harry magicked his clothes on and carried Hermione to the car. He set her gently on the rear seat and drove immediately to St. Mungo's, parking in front of the main entrance. He carried her on his arms into the hospital and directly to the delivery rooms, as they had already practiced a few times.

The healers came immediately. "You are almost fully dilated. It shouldn't take too long now" said one of them. A moment later, Hermione was squirming in pain. "Push now! Push!" called the healer.

Hermione tried to push, but was already too exhausted due to the pain and couldn't really push effectively. Harry wiped the sweat off her brow, wishing he could help her more.

A few minutes later there was another contraction and Hermione cried in pain, unable to push as needed. Harry looked frustrated. "There must be a way to use our magical powers to ease the birth process" he said. He couldn't think of any, but he decided to sit behind her and hold her body as close to his as possible, supporting her as much as he could.

Once he found the appropriate position and put his hands on top of her belly, Hermione felt as if they were somehow merging, She could feel every part of his body as if it was hers and she hoped he could give her his strength when she needed it. They soon had a chance to put these musings to test. A new contraction started and they both felt it tearing their abdomen, yet Harry willed himself to push along with Hermione, to help her give birth to their child. He pushed along with her and they heard the healer say "I can see the head now. Push hard on the next contraction and it will be almost over."

They couldn't hear if the healer was saying anything more as another contraction came. Harry pushed along, willing Hermione's muscles to do the job once more and was rewarded by "The head is out. Now one more push and..." Another contraction came. Harry pushed, as Hermione couldn't do it anymore. "Wha!" they heard the baby cry, before falling back, completely exhausted. Hermione only thought the lights blinked a few times, but that was probably her exhaustion.

Harry was already sitting normally beside Hermione's bed when the healers came with the baby after cleaning him and wrapping him in clean clothes. "Congratulations! You have a nice, big son" said the healer.

"Is he Ok?" murmured Hermione.

"He is fine. He is as strong and healthy as any newborn his size, and he is really quite big."

"Good" murmured Hermione.

"I thought I noticed a few flashes after he was born" said Harry.

"There really were three flashes. A red one, followed by blue and yellow."

"What were they?"

"We are not sure, although they didn't seem to have any negative effect. We believe these flashes were simply the discharge of the magic which helped him grow so fast in the womb. It would have been a problem if he kept growing so fast once he was born."

Harry took the baby and put it to Hermione's breast. The baby searched a little, found the nipple and started suckling.

"My Baby!" exclaimed Hermione almost inaudibly, putting her hand over the little body on her chest.

They were home two days later. Hermione's parents came to stay with their daughter and their grandson for the first few days, helping Hermione heal from the traumatic delivery. She was still very sore, but her spirit was high and she was laughing frequently and smiling almost constantly.

Harry floo-called the Burrow, giving the new address, and the Wasleys all came to visit. Mrs. Weasley was overwhelmed, not being aware of the pregnancy it seemed to her as if the baby was conceived in no time at all. Ron was ecstatic. "How could you do it so fast?" he asked, not really expecting an answer.

Lavender was somewhat more reserved. "He is beautiful!" she exclaimed. "He has Harry's hair and Hermione's eyes" she said. "He also seems to be quite magical already" she added, when her top started unbuttoning, reveling her ample breasts.

Ron started laughing. "He's quite a man. He knows something good when he sees it!" This earned him a mock pouting from Lavender.

"How was the delivery?" asked Lavender.

"It was quite difficult. We stayed at home until the pains became too intense. I just didn't want to wake Harry, but then my water broke and I had no choice. It was already too late for the pain numbing potion. I don't know if I could do it without Harry. He somehow managed to come into my mind and my body and push with me and for me when I could push no longer. I could feel him making my muscles work when I could not." Hermione looked at Harry lovingly.

"Do you think the next time would be just as fast?"

"I don't know. This one was conceived the same time we bonded, with all of the magic of the last battle still buzzing around. I really hope next time would be more leisurely, and I hope for a girl as well."

Ginny was also enthusiastic. "He is such a darling! He makes me want one myself." She looked meaningfully at Dean. "I hope we shall start one soon after we marry" she added.

"I'll do my best to comply, and I will surely enjoy it" replied Dean.

"He is already enjoying it" whispered Ginny to Hermione.

They had many more visitors, although Harry made sure that none would stay too long and that none would interfere with taking care of the baby or of Hermione.

They were quite surprised when Minerva McGonagall, came to visit. They knew she was very busy repairing the battle damage at Hogwarts and preparing for the next school year.

"This is not a purely social visit" she said. "I really wanted to congratulate you for your magical bonding and for your newborn child, but I also have a proposition for you."

They both looked at her expectantly.

"We need a new Defense Against Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts, as you may know, and also somebody to teach transfiguration, as I would not be able to do it while being the headmistress. I thought you two might fill these posts."

"But… we have not even had our NEWTs!" said Harry.

"That is just a formality. You are both above the required level for these tests. You may start teaching and then complete your tests when convenient. I'm sure you can do the job better than any other candidate, and you have proven your abilities under combat conditions, which is more than could be said for most."

Hermione was thinking hard about the proposition. It had never been her life's ambition to be a teacher, that was true, yet living at Hogwarts had its own attractions. She could study some more; she could transfer some of her experience to the next generation; she could stay close to her child. She also considered another benefit – Harry would stay near her. He had already expressed his intentions to become an auror. She knew she wouldn't stop him, as this was a natural choice for him, after fighting the dark since childhood, but being a professor meant not becoming an auror, and that was something she just couldn't overlook.

"Will there be adequate facilities for the baby? Will we be able to live together as a family?" she asked.

"Mrs. Potter, I believe you already know the answers. Hogwarts has always given its best for the teachers as well as for the students. You will get your own apartment and you will have a nanny to take care of your child while you are busy. There will also be payment for your jobs, although, if I am correctly informed, that would not be an issue with you." The headmistress sounded as strict as ever, yet there was some glint in her eyes.

"I think that could be a good idea, at least for awhile" said Hermione. "What do you think dear?" she asked Harry.

"Oh, I could live with that, as long as we are together. We shall need some coaching at the beginning, I suppose, but teaching wouldn't be more different than the DA meetings."

"So would you take the jobs?" There was a trace of anxiousness in the headmistress' voice.

"Well… we do have a few conditions to pose" said Harry. "First – we would like you to come to our wedding. It would be a small, private ceremony in a muggle church. We only want family and close friends to attend."

"I think I can manage that" replied Minerva in a slightly amused tone.

"We would also like to see Hagrid among our guests" added Hermione.

"I'm not sure it would be a good idea, considering many of your guests would be muggles. His presence would certainly be noticed, and it may even scare some."

Hermione was relieved to find out that nobody had leaked the information about her wedding. She was sure that the Daily Prophet would have sent quite a large team to cover the event, had anybody tipped them off. She had made sure to instruct all her friends about the proper clothing for such an event (No robes; women in long evening dresses; men in white shirt and black tie). Ron was not happy about this, but eventually managed to look alright. Neville looked very nice indeed, accompanied by Luna, who was wearing a delicate pearl necklace and assorted earrings. She was also showing proudly the engagement ring she got from Neville a few hours earlier.

Professor McGonagal surprised them all, wearing a dark blue suit with a pale yellow blouse, looking just like a retired school teacher. She was also presented by Hermione as "my beloved teacher from high-school" and nobody suspected anything.

Hagrid didn't come. He sent an owl, stating "I wouldn't fit there and I might frighten some of the guests and destroy your day. I'll see you in a few days at Hogwarts."

"How can we pack everything and take it to the train tomorrow? It wouldn't fit in a single trunk and I can't carry more than one on the trolley."

"Just pack in as many trunks as you need" said Hermione. "We can shrink them and put them all in a small briefcase. I'll need to pack some diapers, though, and keep them handy. We can't expect James to stay dry throughout the journey."

On the first of September they reached the train station quite early. Nobody paid any special attention to the young couple who paced briskly, pushing a pram. The man was carrying a business-type briefcase and the woman was holding a medium size handbag. Some commented they looked like a nice couple.

They boarded the front car, the one reserved for the staff.

"Isn't it odd?" asked Harry. "We haven't even finished our education and we are already going to teach."

"You have been teaching a few years ago already, leading the DA, and I remember you were great. I know you can do it very well. I'm worried about myself though. I feel like I know nothing at all."

"You are the most talented witch I know, and the headmistress trusts you. I believe this should be enough. I'm sure you'll do well."

"I hope you're right. I love you, Mr. Potter."

"And I love you, Mrs. Potter."

The baby who was lying in the pram looked at them and smiled.

"And we love you most of all, James" they told him.