Disclaimer: We own nothing – repeat that? – nothing.
A/N: YAY! A new story – co-written, by the way – by myself and Through . The . Camera (she's brilliant... and remove the spaces). Each chapter will be from a new author – next one's from Mary, so stay tuned… (:
We hope you enjoy it.
From your head to your toes
You're not much, goodness knows
But you're so precious to me
Cute as can be, baby of mine
- Baby Mine, Bette Midler.
All I Ask Of You, Chapter One:
Something burned inside of me when I looked at him. My heart pounded an unruly, irregular beat when he smiled – the subtle light illuminated the perfect white of his teeth.
He'd held my hand once during a class activity – it was required of him to do so – and I broke out in a sweat – a sweat so feverish I thought I might faint.
We'd been walking together on the hills surrounding our beautiful school, and our hands had brushed momentarily. I clenched my eyes shut and willed my lungs to begin their regular patterns of breathing once more.
I had listened in rapture as my mother described all the symptoms of falling in love. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I'd felt everything – the pounding heart, sweaty hands, flurried thoughts and incoherency. It was rare for Hermione Granger to be incoherent – he had been worried for a little while, and that had made me smile when I'd thought back on it.
Not because he was worried, but because it showed that, at one point, he had cared.
Now – thanks to a sick, unfortunate hand of fate – I sat right beside him, squished to him – shoulder to shoulder. After four years of not speaking to each other, we were pressed against each other in the office of our mutual best friend's lawyer.
The balding man spoke in grievous tones. "I'm sorry for both of your losses, Mr. and Mrs. Potter."
"Woah –" I interrupted. "I'm not his wife."
Harry shook his head as well. "Definitely not."
I glared. Mr Anderson glanced quickly back-and-forth between the two of us.
"I apologise, Mr Potter and Miss…?" The inflection afforded his intended question.
"Granger." We both replied at the same time. I seemed to be glaring an awful lot lately, but I did it again, anyway.
"Right. Miss Granger." Anderson nodded. "As I said, I am terribly sorry for your loss, both of you."
I sniffled a little bit and my eyes glistened. I cursed myself for my weakness being laid out before Harry – I hadn't cried over this in front of anyone but my own reflection.
I wiped my eyes with my finger and shook my head. "I'm sorry, please continue."
Mr Anderson made sure I was fine, and then nodded before he began again.
"I presume you both know exactly why you are here?"
At the blank look that I was positive flicked across both of our faces, Anderson sighed.
"You are aware you are both Alessia's godparents, yes?"
I gaped and blurted, "They named him as her godfather?" – Right as he, in turn, seethed, "They named her as my baby's godmother?"
"Your baby?" I shouted, standing up. "You hardly ever saw her, Harry Potter!"
"Excuse me, Alessia stayed with me every second weekend, so that Ron and Luna could have some time alone!"
I gaped. "… They – they never told me that."
His eyes burned with hatred. "Just… sit down, Granger."
Granger. The first time he'd said my name is four years, and he used Granger. Shocked, I felt around behind me for the arm of the chair and sunk into it. Placing a hand on my forehead, I calmed myself enough to mutter, "I'm sorry, Mr Anderson. I keep interrupting. I won't utter another word until you've finished."
"No, no, Miss Granger. You are entitled to your emotions." He smiled softly, kindly. "Now, in the joint will of Mr and Mrs Weasley, Alessia is mentioned twice."
Harry nodded, "Okay, but what does that have to do with us?"
"Well, the first mention is that she is to receive a generously large portion of their assets – monetary, and also property-wise, if you understand."
We both nodded in unison.
He breathed in deeply. "Good. Now, the second mention is in regards to who will raise Alessia."
Oh, for the love of God.
"It is listed here…" He flicked through a few pages of the document he held in his hands before turning the page around to us, and pointing to a clause three-quarters of the way down the page. "That the two named god-parents would receive custody of Alessia in the unfortunate event that both Mr and Mrs Weasley pass away, or one or both of them become completely unable to care for a child."
My jaw was scraping the shaggy, blue carpet and I had to recollect myself before talking, and even then I was stammering incoherently. "Surely they must've named others!" I gestured between Harry and myself. "We haven't spoken in over four years; surely they can't expect us to just… just care for a child together!"
"Hermione!" Harry shouted, interrupting my rant. He pulled on my elbow and a fell backwards into the couch. I didn't even remember standing up.
"Miss Granger, we've talked to the entire Weasley family, and as far as they are all aware, no other godparents have been named."
"I – I just assumed she would go to Molly."
"She's too old to take care of a child."
Of course. Molly, now well into her fifties, was happily enjoying life without rioting children making messes in her house.
"What about Ginny?"
"Mrs Zabini has her hands full with her own child at the moment, Miss Granger."
"Ginny has a baby?"
Harry just nodded. I then realised just how much I'd missed by only keeping in touch with Luna after… everything.
My eyes welled with tears, and I whispered so softly they could barely hear me. "What are we gonna do, Harry?"
He spared me a glance, an unforgiving glance, before turning his gaze back onto Mr Anderson. "Where is Lessie now?"
He even had his own nickname for her. Despite my constant expressions of distaste for Harry Potter, I still loved him, and my heart pumped furiously in my heaving chest. Broken sobs tore from my throat.
Mr Anderson gazed upon me with pity. "Alessia is currently with Blaise and Ginevra Zabini. They are prepared to take care of her temporarily until final decisions are made."
More sobs erupted from my stomach and chest, and I began to hyperventilate. I don't know why, but I couldn't control myself – everything I'd ever done wrong and everyone I'd ever wronged in my life seemed to build up in my mind.
"Excuse me, Mr Anderson." I heard Harry say, before taking me firmly by the elbow and pulling me into the hallway outside the lawyer's office.
My shaky legs collapsed underneath me, and I crumpled unceremoniously to the floor. Pushing myself backwards until my spine hit the wall, I curled up into a tight ball and sobbed into my knees – mourning the time I'd lost with Ron and Luna, everything I'd missed out on through my altercation with the wizard before me and the beautiful little girl who'd just lost the most loving parents that the world had ever known.
A gentle, comforting hand on my knee made me jump ten feet in the air, and scramble quickly to my feet. Harry was still crouching beside where I'd sat before, a shocked expression marring his handsome face. I wanted to smooth away the small wrinkle that appeared between his furrowed brows.
"Hermione –" He started.
"– No, Potter." I spat hatefully, through my tears. "You don't call me that! You do not get tocall me that!"
"Hermione, come on –" He started again.
"– No! No." I started to cry again.
He pulled me against his chest in a tight, but oddly comforting, embrace. I thought briefly about how nice it would be if I could just melt into his arms and let him comfort all my sorrows away, but then I get flashbacks of that day and I can't take his arms around me.
They were burning me – burning me with their lies and all the things he'd said, burning me to the core. I struggled against him, but – like he always had been – he was too strong, and just held on.
His hand came up and cupped the back of my head, pushing my face into the crook of his neck. I gave in – ashamed as I was – and wrapped my arms around his neck. Crying violently, I just shook in his arms, one of his hands running up and down my back in a placating manner.
An eternity and a half later, my cries had quietened and he released me. I couldn't look him in the eye after that horrific display of weakness, so I just touched my hand to his chest and slid past him, entering Mr Anderson's office and apologising quietly.
"Not to worry, dear. Have you made a decision?" He directed the question at Harry, who'd just re-entered the room.
Harry nodded. "I'll take her. Hermione, you don't have to do anything – she can come with me."
I nodded. I wasn't ready to take care of a child. I was twenty –two. Twenty-two, for crying out loud.
He sighed, shook Mr Anderson's hand and grabbed the paperwork the other man was holding out to him. "I'll go pick her up now."
He left the room, not acknowledging me as he passed the lounge and walked through the doorframe, the door shutting with finality behind him.
I couldn't let him leave. I just couldn't. I quickly thanked Mr Anderson and raced out the door, trying not to fall over in my heels. I just could not get used to the darn things.
I reached the elevator just as he was stepping into it. "Harry…" I exhaled, my breath slowly re-entering my lungs.
"Hermione… I told you, I'll take care of Lessie." He said, defeat ever-present in his voice. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to."
He pressed a button, and the doors began to close. I jumped into the elevator, and the doors slid together behind me.
"I want to." I almost shouted, after a few seconds of terse silence. "I can't leave you to raise her alone, I can't. Goddamnit, I just fucking can't!"
Then he did something so unexpected, my mind blanked and whirled. He smiled and pulled me into his arms – somewhere I couldn't help but feel I belonged.
He held me until the elevator stopped, and when the doors re-opened, ushered me out of the tiny box with his hand on my lower back.
It was burning me, too, just like his arms before. The foyer area of the office building was walled with glass, and the light made me squint.
He quickly guided me outside before turning around to face me.
"Herm – Granger," he said, obviously respecting my wishes, "I have to warn you right now…"
I nodded, confused slightly.
"Ginny… was incredibly upset when you cut ties with – with all of us." He hung his head. "I don't know how well she's going to take the fact that you are going to be looking after Lessie with me…"
Shame coursed through me. "I understand. I just… won't say anything."
"That's probably not the right thing to do, Granger. Just – I don't know – act… upset."
I raised an eyebrow. I was upset; there was no need to be acting.
He amended his statement. "More upset."
I nodded and he grabbed my elbow, apparating us away. We landed in front of a quaint little cottage, with a picture-perfect garden and white picket fence surrounding the impeccable lawn. It looked like a home that could've featured in Wizard's Abode. It was beautiful.
A little, dark-skinned boy suddenly appeared, running swiftly around the corner. "Unca Harrrrrryyyyy! You're here!"
"Unca Harry?" I whispered.
Harry squeezed my elbow. "That's Leo, Ginny and Blaise's son."
My eyes glistened once more.
The little boy hurtled towards Harry, and jumped towards the raven-haired man at the very last minute, forcing him to crouch down to catch the little tyke.
"Hey there, Squirt, where's Mum?"
Leo giggled at the use of the nickname. "Mamma's inside with the baby. Who's she?" He asked bluntly, pointing a small finger right in my face.
"It's rude to point, Leo. This is Hermione; she's a friend of your mother and me." Harry explained.
"I'll go get Mamma for you." He raced away, running up the front porch steps and bolting through the door.
Harry walked up to the bottom of the steps and waited. I followed, head down and feet shuffling. I'd missed out on so much during the past four years.
Why hadn't Luna told me any of this? Did she not think I wanted to hear what my best friend's were up to? Where they'd taken their lives?
… Obviously not.
Before I had any more time to dwell on such questions, a flurry of red hair and white skin flew towards me, and collided with my body with a surprisingly forceful oomph.
Ginny released me after a good ten minutes, most of which I spent glaring at Harry – who was giving me amused looks that I could quite clearly see over Ginny's shoulder – and patting Ginny's heaving back.
Pulling back, she wiped her eyes quickly and smiled. "I missed you, Hermione."
That I did not expect.
I beamed back at her, and hugged her fiercely – something she returned equally as strong.
She let go of me for the second time, and called over her shoulder, "Blaise?"
A familiar dark-skinned man – with a striking resemblance to the boy hanging off his leg – came outside, a beautiful strawberry blond baby bouncing along on his hip, gnawing on her fist.
I felt around behind me with my hand, and found Harry's resting by his side. As Ginny went over to get Alessia off Blaise, I pulled him forward. The feel of his calloused hand in mine sent electric shivers sparking up and down my spine.
"Is – Is that her?"
I looked up at him and he nodded.
"She's beautiful, isn't she?"
Little Alessia reached her arms out towards him and he smiled at Ginny, who quickly handed her over.
"You two are taking her, aren't you?"
Harry looked at me, almost asking if my assent. I nodded.
Review! Next chapter will be up hopefully by next week. Keep your fingers crossed everyone!