Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love.
~Mildred B. Vermont
"Coming!" Hermione dropped the laundry she had been folding and frantically hurried toward the porch, her heart hammering. She wrenched open the door and stepped outside, panting. "What's wrong?"
"Mummy lookie what I made!" cried the happy three year old toddler, his chubby arms and face smudged with mud. "A mudth pie!"
Hermione heaved a deep sigh even as she gave him a warm smile. It was a good thing she had changed him into play clothes. "It looks yummy, Addie," she replied.
"I eat!" he announced opening his mouth wide, but his wide-eyed mother swatted his hands away and the pie fell on the ground with a smack!
"Addie let me see your lips!" Hermione cried, turning up his face and wiping his lips with her sleeve. She could see the tears welling into his chocolate brown eyes.
"You drop d'a pie!" he cried making a show of sniffing loudly as Hermione pulled him to his feet. "I wanna eat da pie!"
"Yes, alright, but we can't eat mud, can we?" She grasped him by the wrist, helping him up the stairs. Aiden wailed all the way to the bathroom and stood on the cold tile, glaring miserably at his mother as she ran the bath.
Hermione endured the little boy's sniffs, rolling her eyes at his dramatics when he made a great show of wiping his eyes.
"Mommy," he whined and held his arms out to her. She pulled off his t-shirt and helped him out of his pants. He removed his teddy bear underwear himself and Hermione picked him up before carefully easing him into the tub.
"Not too hot?" she asked and he splashed her playfully in response.
"Why you-" and she sprinkled him back, smiling when he giggled.
"M' sowwy Mommy" he whispered with such child-like innocence that his mother's heart melted.
"You know not to eat off the ground, don't you love?" It was a habit he had picked up at playschool after some naughty kids dared him to lick chalk. Hermione had told the young teachers to keep a better eye on him after that-Aiden got up to far more mischief for a little boy.
Hermione had her hands full with him. Keeping an active three year old busy was hard work, but she had help. Her parents came over in the evenings some days to take Aiden to the park so that Hermione could have some time for herself. Over the weekends, she often took him to Harry's where he happily played with Teddy, giving the adults time to catch up.
"I wanna eat pie, Mommy," he said as he chugged his toy ship across the tub water. "Aunty Ginny let me have pie-"
"That was a chocolate pie, not a mud pie, Addie," Hermione sighed, "Close your eyes."
He obeyed and she doused water over his head, rinsing the shampoo from his baby fine strands. Even for curly hair, he had the softest locks she had ever touched. They were a fine blonde, though a bit darker than his father's, and messy like his mother's. His hair was getting a bit long, but Hermione was loathed to cut it, loving the cow licks that bounced whenever he pranced about.
"Can we go to Uncle Hawwy's? I wanna play Quid-it."
Hermione smiled. "Sure, love. We'll go after lunch. You can play with Teddy till Harry comes home. Does that sound alright?"
"Yeah! Thank you Mommy," and he gave her such a sweet smile that Hermione couldn't help but kiss his wet forehead before hoisting him out the water. He weighed so little for a growing three-year-old.
She dried him quickly and made to dry his hair, but the restless three year old ran out the bathroom, squealing. "Addie!" Hermione called, running after himand laughing when he squealed.
"Come here you!" she swooped onto him with the towel and he cried in surprise when she scooped him up and spun him around before flopping him onto her bed. "Moooommmy!" he giggled, squirming when she tickled him lightly.
"Let's get you in some clothes. You don't want to shock Gramma again, do you?" He had startled her mother a couple days ago when he came at her screaming, naked and dripping wet, leaving his flushed mother to sort out his mess. As easy going as her father was, her mother was quite the opposite. It was she who had instilled proper decorum in the house after all and often she chided Hermione for being too lax with the boy.
But Hermione couldn't find in her heart to deny her son anything. He was the picture of innocence, true, although he got into quite a bit of mischief, but it was all harmless fun. She knew he would grow up one day, but for now, she wanted to preserve his childlike innocence.
"Alright Addie, lunchtime!"
"No, mommy 'm not hungwy!" he cried, scrunching up his face in a cute pout.
Hermione stared at him sternly. "If you want to go to Harry's, you have to eat. You won't be a strong Quidditch player if you don't eat."
That won his attention and he obediently climbed into the high chair while Hermione served him his lunch. He ate messily with his small spoon while Hermione sat across from him at their breakfast table drinking a cup of strong tea and reached over to wipe his smeared lips from time to time.
She cleaned him up after he finished and he dashed off to grab his toy broomstick as she disappeared in her room to change. Her son was impatiently shouting for her to hurry up when the floo burst in flames, announcing a visitor. Hermione emerged from her room, tacking her hair in a bun, and smiled when she saw Harry step out, dressed still his work robes.
"Uncle Hawy!" Aiden cried, attacking his legs and Harry smiled down at him, running a hand through his soft locks, but his tired eyes fixed firmly on Hermione.
"Harry! We were just coming over," she said as she wound her hair, but his thin lips washed the smile from her face. "What's wrong?"
He glanced at the little boy who was happily playing with broomstick at his feet, muttering things to himself in his childish voice, before returning his attention to Hermione. He licked his lips once, as though searching for his voice, before finally speaking, "We've found him."
Hermione froze, her hand still in her hair. She stared at Harry, not really seeing him as the words reeled over her. When the force of their meaning hit her, she gasped and sank to the floor, the hair clip clattering to the ground.
"Hermione!" Harry lunrched forward, catching her in his arms and slowly sinking down with her. Aiden paused to look up from his play and he watched his mother intensely. When all she did was sit on the floor, he returned to his playing.
"Hermione," Harry repeated more softly, "Are you alright?"
She merely looked at him. Of course she wasn't alright! But she gave him small nod before croaking, "How?"
"I got a letter from Blaise Zabini. He's apparently Draco's Healer-"
"Healer?" her voice trembled.
"He contacted me as Draco's friend. He's sent us his address. We can floo there as soon as you like."
She was a quiet for a moment. "Draco doesn't know anything, does he?" she asked.
Harry sighed. "I think Zabini thinks it best not to tell him. He wants to ascertain you'll come back first."
"He doubts me? Draco was the one who left!"
"Mommy?" Aiden was watching them with wide, having stilled at hearing Hermione's voice rise.
Hermione ignored him. "If anyone should ascertain anything, it should be whether Draco's willing to have me back in his life! All this time, he didn't even try to contact me! He must have known you and Ron were still searching. He must have known I was still alone-still-still waiting for him!"
And her shoulders shook as her anger dissolved into sobs. Harry pulled her into his arms and chaffed her shoulders as she cried. He glanced up at the worried toddler and gave him a reassuring smile. Aiden only dropped his toys and toddled over.
"Mommy?" he patted Hermione's head with a chubby hand, "Don' cwy, Mommy."
Hermione raised her head and gave her son a watery smile before embracing him. Resting her head on his, she planted a kiss on his curls. Aiden molded right into her lap and sat still when she began rocking them, still crying quietly.
"We've found him," she whispered, a glimmer of hope lighting her eyes.
Harry met her rose red eyes and smiled warmly. "Yeah, yeah we have."
Did you think this was over? Sequel posted here or now up at blogspot: www dot the-record-shelf dot blogspot dot com
sequel title: An Eternal Bliss
Thanks for reading and reviewing!