Their Happily Ever After
"Ready for this?" Harry asked, looking down at her with an amused grin.
"As I'll ever be." Hermione responded, clutching his hand tightly in her own.
They were at the front door of the Weasley's estate. It was a dark brown building that was the tallest in Gryffindor, towering a good ten feet above the castle itself. Although not as large in width, it was still a great home by any means of the word. It was easily identified by a garden out back where Molly Weasley tended to her homegrown herbs and vegetables used in her famous cooking. She refused to hire a chef, her love of catering and feeding her family too precious for her to give up. She was looked down upon by many of the other Ladies of Gryffindor because of her habits but the royal family had always regarded her as one of the strongest and most capable women to have been inducted into the Order of the Phoenix, along with her slightly kooky husband, Arthur, who had always had a fascination with Muggle artifacts.
Both Harry and Hermione had spent a great deal of their childhoods within its safe walls, always treating it as a home of their own and being treated like family in return. But right now its familiar brass knocker looked anything but welcoming.
They had just arrived back in Gryffindor that morning and Hermione insisted that they go to the Weasley's estate straightaway. Harry had barely gotten her to finish their breakfast before they were off. They had received a fair amount of stares as they walked the short distance, the news only just breaking that Hermione's uplifted banishment. No doubt her drastic change in appearance and Harry's hand clutched in hers would start a rally of rumors by the time they arrived at their destination.
Taking a large intake of breath, Hermione reached with her free hand and knocked. It was mere seconds before a mess of red hair came to greet them. Hermione grinned as she saw her dear old friend's bright blue eyes connect with her own.
"Hi, Ron." She said meekly.
He grinned. "Hermione you're – y-you're… your stomach is huge." Ron said breathlessly, his eyes drifting toward her large middle section and furrowing in confusion. "What have you been eating?"
Hermione bit corrected him sternly. "I'm with child Ron, not overly stuffed."
His eyes widened as they shifted from her to her stomach and to Harry, connecting the pieces of the puzzle. "You're with ch-child? Harry's child?"
"Yes." She said, no longer containing her amusement and letting her lips widen into a coy smile.
"How? When did you—?" Harry opened up his mouth to reply and Ron cut him off with a shake of his head. "Never mind, I don't want to know."
"Ron?" A voice called from within the home. "Ron, who's at the door?"
"It's Hermione, mum!" Ron called back. "It's Harry and Hermione!"
"Ooh!" Her excited voice sounded. "Well let them in! I've just made some treacle tarts!"
Ron rolled his eyes and opened the door to his two friends. They followed him inside and to the sitting room. Harry and Hermione occupied a loveseat while Ron took a spot across from them in a plush chair. They sat in silence for what felt like eternity when Molly finally entered the room with a plate full of treats.
"There you are." She said, setting down the tray on a table between them. She looked at the couple sitting on the sofa. "Hermione, how wonderful it is to have you back, dear."
"It's good to be back, Molly." She responded, consciously hugging her hands around her midsection as if she could somehow hide it.
The elder witch's eyes drifted to where her hands moved and Hermione felt her face grow warm. Molly gave her a knowing look. "My how you've grown."
She bit her lip and avoided her eyes, only nodding in response.
The red-haired woman smiled at the blushing girl. She had known Hermione for a long time, even considered her an adopted daughter, and she had always known her to be a responsible girl. Whatever situation she put herself in she could always make the best out of. And now with Harry's hand clutched in her own at the base of her enlarged abdomen she could plainly see that their predicament was not one that should be frowned upon by anyone, least of all by those who had ever seen the two together in the past.
She wanted to voice this to the younger witch but decided against it as she fidgeted in her seat, her eyes downcast. It was clear that she was uncomfortable under her gaze and Molly made a note to talk to her when they were alone. It was enough to talk to Ron about it, let alone his mother!
"Would you like some tea?" She asked kindly. "You look positively exhausted."
Harry nodded and accepted her offer.
Hermione kept her gaze downward as she spoke in a soft tone. "Just water with lemon for me, if it's not too much trouble."
Molly smiled in understanding. "Of course. I'll be back in a nip."
After she exited the room, Hermione let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding. Harry squeezed her hand and sent her a reassuring smile. She caught his gaze and thanked him silently with a smile of her own.
"So," Ron said, interrupting their moment. They both turned to look at him and he glanced at them each in turn. "Tell me everything."
And so, for the next hour or so, Harry and Hermione filled him in as to what had transpired from after Hermione's trial to where they were now, skipping over the details he was already aware of. When Molly reentered the room, thankfully after they had gone through their last night together before Hermione left, she took a seat on a nearby couch and listened in. She and Ron remained silent until both Harry and Hermione were finished retelling the tale.
"And now here we are," Harry finished as Hermione took a sip of the now lukewarm water in front of her. "Back in Gryffindor and ready to move on with our lives."
"My goodness." Molly breathed. "You poor dears. I cannot believe what that… that… harlot put you through!"
"Mum!" Ron said, looking at his mother with a horrified expression.
"What?" Molly said, looking at her son, nonplussed. "Have you got a better word to describe her?"
"Uh… I…" Ron sputtered, not knowing how to respond.
"I couldn't have said it any better myself." Harry filled in. "But everything's fine now, Molly. It's all behind us."
"I should hope so." She said. "I don't know if you could take anymore of this strain, Harry – first Voldemort, then this. I don't know how you manage. You truly have the strongest heart."
Harry smiled softly. "I couldn't have done any of it without a little help from those who are closest to me." He gave a meaningful look directed at Ron and shared a lingering gaze with Hermione, whose face was beginning to color once more.
"What about Cedric and Clara?" Ron asked. "Where are they now?"
"I expect somewhere near Hufflepuff by now." Hermione said. "Cedric insisted on delivering my belongings personally. Clara volunteered to accompany him."
"Who would have thought," Ron mused. "Cedric Diggory helping bring you back to Gryffindor."
"It is quite odd once you think about it." Hermione confessed. "But I couldn't be more thankful. He's a great friend. I hope he takes my invitation to visit often."
"Oh I'm sure he will." Harry said.
The four settled into a comfortable silence until an odd look settled into Ron's features, his eyes settling on Harry. It took him a moment to feel Ron's gaze on him and he smiled awkwardly.
"Something the matter, Ron?"
"No," He answered, a sly grin on his face. "I just remembered that Fred and George dropped off a package for you. I think it's a new sampling of their newest products. It's in my room."
A twinkle shone in Harry's eye and he shot up, effectively dropping Hermione hand in the process. Both he and Ron turned to her, silently asking for permission. The tense atmosphere was broken and she held back a laugh, feeling a wave of nostalgia wash over her.
"Go on, then." She said with a wave of her hand. "Have your fun."
"Thanks 'Mione." Harry said, swiping down to give her a brief kiss on the cheek before following Ron out of the room and up the stairs to his chambers.
"Some things never change." She said to herself.
Adjusting her position on the loveseat she realized that she was now alone in the room with Molly – a woman who had been her surrogate mother since she had entered the Wizarding World, a woman who had kept her safe when Harry was away hunting Horcruxes, a woman whose opinion she held very highly.
Although she had not seemed to be disappointed or judgmental in any way when she and Harry were talking, Hermione couldn't be sure as she avoided the elder witch's gaze once more and choose instead to focus on the velvet cushioning of her seat. Knowing her to be an old-fashioned and opinionated woman, she couldn't bear it if Molly disapproved of her choices.
"There's no need to shy away from me, Hermione." She said bluntly after a tense silence, taking a sip of tea. "I'm not going to bite."
Tentatively, Hermione lifted her head and met her eyes for the first time. They were a dark shade of brown and held so much wisdom and life that it was hard not to be intimidated by her. Hermione had not felt so before, never having a reason to do so. But now, with the child in her stomach and a left hand bare of a ring, she had never felt so small.
She wanted to speak, to tell her… what? That she was sorry? That she wasn't shying away from her? Neither of those things was true. Her mouth was glued shut, no phrase coming to mind in which to reply. She inwardly cursed Ron and Harry for leaving.
"Hermione." Molly said softly. "It's alright"
"What is?" She felt herself respond automatically.
"Everything." Molly spoke sincerely. She looked at the younger witch and saw her tense posture relax slightly. "I know how you and Harry feel about each other. I've known for a long time. Whatever transpired between you was a product of fate and time and any product of that should be looked upon as a gift. I'm not sure if that'll ease your mind or not but just know that I love you both as if you were my own children no matter what and that will never change."
Hermione's eyes filled with unshed tears at Molly's kind words. "Thank you, Molly."
"You're welcome, dear." She responded softly. "Now, why don't you tell me all about it, woman to woman?"
Hermione breathed out a laugh. "Where do I start?"
By the time Ron and Harry had returned, Hermione and Molly were in mid conversation about morning sickness. They both stopped talking, however, when they saw both men covered in what appeared to be fairy dust.
"What in Merlin's name happened?" Molly asked as Hermione covered her mouth to stop herself from laughing.
"New… invention." Harry wheezed.
"Explain later." Ron said in a similar state of breathlessness, clutching his side.
"Well clean yourselves up!" Molly reprimanded in annoyance. "You're getting that stuff all over the floor." With that said she gathered up the used goblets and hurried back to the kitchen.
They both swiftly performed quick cleaning charms on themselves and smiled timidly. Hermione rolled her eyes and bustled over to them both and brushed stray dust from their hair. When she was done with Harry, he clutched her hand in his own and smiled mischievously down at her. Before she could protest, he leaned down and captured her lips in a passionate kiss.
"Ugh, gross!" Ron moaned from beside them. "Get a room!"
Harry smirked and pulled away, leaving Hermione winded and frazzled as she looked blankly up at him. "Fine, we will. We still need to finish unpacking anyway, right love?"
"Right." She said breathlessly, shaking herself out of whatever trance she had been under.
Harry smirked and snaked an arm around her waist. "We'll see you later, then. Come on round for dinner. Invite everyone. We're having a feast!"
Hermione raised a brow at his enthusiasm. "For what occasion?"
"You return of course!" He said pulling her close to him and placing a tender kiss on the top of her head. "Only friends and family allowed, though. Don't want to make too much of a fuss."
"No of course not." Hermione said sarcastically. She knew any fest thrown at the castle was bound to be huge no matter who was in attendance.
"Well you can count me in." Ron said happily, grinning at the premise of gratuitous amounts of food. "I think Ginny may be coming in from her studies tonight as well."
"Great!" Harry exclaimed. "Have you been keeping her updated on what's been happening?"
"To the best of my knowledge." Ron answered, casting a meaningful glance at Hermione's enlarged stomach. "You're going to have a lot of explaining to do tonight. Mum was only the beginning."
"Looking forward to it." Hermione said, though she felt she might vomit at the prospect.
"We'd best be off and prepare, then." Harry said, catching Hermione's expression. "We'll see you tonight."
Ron nodded and left to inform his family of their new plans for the night. Harry and Hermione exited the estate with a large burden off of their shoulders. Though the promise of more talking and explanations still loomed over them and added a bit more pressure than they originally bargained for. The important thing was that they were together and the only danger that plagued them was the reaction of the rest of the redheaded family and a few other friends that would be invited for the festivities.
"You really don't have to throw a feast in my honor, you know." Hermione said as they re-entered the castle.
"I know. But I want to." He said. "And you want me to be happy, don't you?"
"Oh, don't you use that with me." Hermione said in distaste, though she knew it was working.
He chuckled, fully aware she wouldn't put up much more of a fight, as they ascended the stairs to his chamber. Though she had already walked this corridor since she's returned she still couldn't believe how much she'd missed it. The scarlet and gold tapestries, the ornate hanging candles, the long plush rugs that gave off the smell of fresh cleaners, it was all just as she had remembered.
They entered Harry's chambers and he shut the doors behind them. She ventured to his bed and took a seat upon the plush covers. He smiled and plopped down beside her, causing the mattress to bounce slightly beneath them.
"Tired?" Harry asked, noticing her slightly hollow eyes.
"Just a bit." Hermione said truthfully. "It's mostly just my back, though. It's been bothering me since we ate this morning."
"Really?" Harry asked, straightening up with a worried expression on his face. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"Oh, it's not that bad." She said, though the wince between her words convinced him otherwise. "Besides, I didn't want to be a bother with such a petty thing as aches."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You really need to think of yourself sometimes, Hermione."
Hermione gave him a look and he contained a laugh. Without getting permission or informing her of what he was doing, he moved so that he was sitting behind her, sliding forward so that she was situated comfortably behind his legs. She melted into his embrace out of reflex. Before she could get too comfortable in their new position, he lifted up his arms and began to gently massage her shoulders.
"Harry…" She started.
"Shh." He interrupted. "Just relax."
She huffed out an irritated breath but did as she was told. She allowed herself to relax as his nimble hands began to rub and knead her sore muscles. He made a trail down her spine and she shivered as he hit the exact spot where she had been aching earlier. Harry took her reaction as a positive sign and focused his attention on that area. He was rewarded with a sigh of pleasure.
He continued his ministrations for a few minutes, rubbing his hands delicately along her back, eliciting positive reactions that sent his innocent intentions in a completely opposite direction. After she let out a long moan he could take it no more. He bent down his head to rest on her thin neck, placing gentle kisses along the exposed skin. She reacted instantly and leaned into him more. He took this as a sign to be bold and stuck out his tongue, licking and nibbling away at her tender flesh.
She breathed out his name. "Harry."
Smirking against her, he pulled back and removed his hand from her back, cradling her face in his and placing a warm kiss against her lips. Her reaction was instantaneous and she angled herself to face him, deepening the kiss. Her hands wrapped around his waist as he trailed his hand down to her breast.
Suddenly, she pulled back. Harry let out a moan of protest and she laughed. "We came back to unpack, remember?"
"It can wait." He said, leaning back in and attaching his lips on her ear, nibbling gently.
Hermione held back a moan and pushed him back, her resolve quickly dissipating. "No, it can't. Not with the feast you've planned for tonight. Have you even told the cooks?"
"No." He said, leaning his head against hers. "But I can send an owl and they'll have it ready by the time the guests arrive." He began placing soft kisses from her cheek down to the base of her neck.
"Have you invited…" She trailed off and let out a low groan as he hit a tender spot of her skin, "…the over guests?"
"No." He answered, pulling away from her neck and capturing her lips once more. He spoke in-between long kisses. "But I… can owl… them too…"
Hermione was close to giving in but she knew that they had work to do before they could properly reunite. With a final long, lingering kiss, she pulled back. Harry's bottom lip stuck out into a pout and she avoided his gaze.
"We have to prepare, Harry. I'll send the owls and you can begin unpacking."
She put a finger on his lips to stop him, smiling coyly. "If we finish early maybe we can continue… reacquainting."
Harry broke out into a grin as she pulled her finger away. Quicker than she had ever seen him move, he made a beeline to his desk where his travel sack was still perched and began unpacking. Hermione barely suppressed her amusement as she followed him and pulled out his stationary from a drawer. She cleared off a small space on the desk and grabbed a quill, beginning the first invitation.
After a while, Harry returned to the desk and set down something on the desk beside her right hand. She was just finishing up the final letter and looked up briefly to see what he had placed near her. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw the familiar ornate box.
"Harry." She said.
"Yeah?" He called from the other side of the room where he was hanging up one of his coats.
"Is that my coronation present?"
He looked over at her and smiled. "Yeah."
"You brought it with you?" She asked, setting down the quill and picking up the box. She had forgotten about the gift she had had Cedric slip into the pile of presents.
"I bring it everywhere with me." He said simply, coming to kneel beside her.
"Really?" She asked, looking over at him meaningfully. "Why?"
"It kept me motivated during the election." He said. "It was the final push I needed to get you back. Your note was just the thing I had been waiting for to finally go all in."
Hermione's eyes shined and she leaned forward to kiss him. He returned it momentarily and pulled away, looking at her teasingly. "You know I still have no idea what's inside the box."
Hermione laughed quietly. "That was the point."
"Do I get to see it now that you've finally returned?" He asked, true curiosity flickering in his eyes.
Hermione nodded, reaching for the chain she had wrapped around her neck. Harry hadn't noticed it before, its golden tone blending in with her sun kissed skin. On the end of the chain was a charm in the shape of a heart. Harry observed her curiously as she tilted the box on its side and inserted the key, twisting it three times. The top of the box audibly snapped open and Hermione removed the disguised key. She handed him the box gingerly and he briefly looked at her before lifting the top and peeking inside.
The inside of the top had the Gryffindor crest carved with such detail it looked as though the lion was going to jump out of it. It was painted with the kingdom's colors, matching the scarlet velvet casing which held something more awe-inspiring.
It was simplistic in design but that, Harry thought, made it so much more beautiful. It was a gold-chained bracelet with a single pendant dangling off of it. He expected it to be another Gryffindor crest but as he picked up the piece he saw that it was instead his own family crest. His expression must have depicted something other than his true emotion at the gift, for Hermione placed a hand on his shoulder and asked in a soft whisper.
"Are you all right, Harry?"
"I'm fine." He said, clutching the bracelet in his fist and turning to face Hermione. She was wearing a face of concern. "I'm just… I'm speechless."
She looked at him oddly. "Is that a good thing?"
He chuckled. "It's a great thing."
"So you like it?" She asked, her eyes sparkling with glee.
"Oh, much more than that." He said, pulling her close to him and squeezing her as tight as he dared. "I love it."
Although he couldn't see it, she smiled as she returned his embrace. They stood like that for a good few minutes, each one lost in their own thoughts. After feeling a small prod against her stomach Hermione pulled back, an amused expression on her face.
"I think the baby wants to breathe."
Harry nodded and put the box back on the table. He looked back at her, a question glinting in his eyes. "Would you mind putting it on for me?"
She grinned. "Certainly."
He held out the bracelet to her and she placed it delicately on his wrist. As she was bringing the clasps together he stared at her. "What did I ever do to earn such a magnificent gift?"
Hermione clicked her tongue and closed the piece with a soft snap. "It was no trouble at all, really. I actually got the box relatively cheap given the—ˮ
"I wasn't talking about your coronation present." He interrupted with a furtive smirk.
She scrunched up her nose and hit him playfully on the shoulder. "That was a bit cheesy."
He caught her fit in his hand and pulled her close. Her breathing stopped as their faces were pulled within mere inches of each other's. "You liked it." He said in a low voice.
She pressed her lips together, looking up with him through hooded lashes. "I admit nothing."
"Of course you don't." He said with mock annoyance before leaning in and kissing her.
She pulled away after a moment, remembering why they had stopped in the first place. "We still need to send out those invitations if you want to have that feast at dinner."
He groaned but after a minute of Hermione's stern reasoning and wide eyes he eventually gave in. He resigned to finish unpacking his belongings while Hermione finished sealing the final letters with Harry's personal seal. A few minutes and handful of letters later, Hermione gave into the king's attentions. She handed the letters to one of the staff and before she could shut the door, she resigned herself to being ravished, forgetting instantly why she had put it off earlier.
"And so I say to her 'Hey, you can't eat that! That's gillyweed!"
The table burst out in laughter as Ron finished his story. Despite the late notice, the feast turned out quite a crowd. Two-thirds of the Weasley family was in attendance, which was quite the accomplishment to those who knew the family well. Various members of the Order including Albus Dumbledore himself also had seats. The only two people missing in Harry and Hermione's eyes were Clara and Cedric, but they wouldn't be in Gryffindor for another week.
Ginny had ended up making it to Gryffindor just in the nick of time and bounded through the castle doors like the hurricane she was. She bombarded both Harry and Hermione with questions and congratulations just as the feast was being served, causing both to give rushed explanations with the promise of more after the festivities.
"Will there be a ball? I've missed the balls here so much!" She had asked as soon as the feast was underway.
"Hermione shot that idea down." Harry responded with amusement. "Said it would take too much planning and all that nonsense."
"'All that nonsense' is weeks of preparation." Hermione defended. "Do you remember how long it took to plan the Freedom Ball? You nearly gave the staff all heart attacks when you demanded a feast."
Harry looked thoughtful for a moment before speaking. "Remind me to give them each a gift in gratitude."
Hermione rolled her eyes and that's when Ron began to humor the table with his stories from when Harry and Hermione were absent. He had just finished the last one just as dessert was being served. The couple didn't mind him talking everyone's heads off. In fact, they both were rather relived that he was taking the attention away from them for the time being. Hermione wondered vaguely if he was doing it on purpose when she caught his eye and he winked at her. She reminded herself to give her own gift of gratitude to her ginger-haired savior.
She took another bite of her tart when she felt an unsettling sensation in her abdomen. Her hand reached out automatically. It was a brief ache – so miniscule that she convinced herself she had imagined it. Shaking her head, she reached back for her fork and dropped it as soon as her hand touched the silver. The sting was longer this time, letting her know that she wasn't imagining things.
Harry looked at her in concern, placing a hand atop the one that had just slammed against the table. "Are you alright, 'Mione?"
"I… I uhh…" She stuttered. She was bracing herself for another unsettling jab when she felt something wet glide down the inside of her thigh. Her eyes widened. "I think the baby's coming."
"You… you what?" He sputtered. "You think the baby's coming?"
She looked down at the floor, pulling up her skirts to see a clear wet spot on the marble. Her body tensed up as she looked at Harry and whispered as quite as she could muster. "Scratch that. The baby is definitely coming."
Harry's eyes widened to the size of saucers as he looked around the table. Everyone was still wrapped up in Ron's next story about a rather pesky bookseller. He turned back to Hermione and spoke so quickly that she could only just understand what he was asking. "Whatarewes'pposedtodo?"
"Stay calm." She said, though she was beginning to feel a bit flush herself. "We don't want to cause a scene. Just excuse us from the hall and get me to my bedroom."
Harry nodded. He grasped her hand in his and helped her up. Their sudden movement alerted the people surrounding them and Ron quickly stopped mid-sentence. Harry gulped and carried on in the calmest tone he could muster.
"The Lady Hermione and I are both very tired from our journey." He spoke firmly. "I thank you all for coming tonight but must bid you all good evening. Please, stay and finish your dessert and if you are in need of a place to stay overnight talk to Sirius and he will make arrangements for you."
Ron looked quizzically at his friends and knew immediately that something was amiss. After a mixture of "Good night" and "Thanks for the invitation" statements from around the table they left the hall, slow enough so as to not be suspicious but quick enough to alert someone who had known them longer than most that there was something strange going on.
Harry was quick to place a hand on her back and hold her steady as they exited the hall. She thanked him under her breath and they continued up the stairs. As they rounded a corner in the direction of Hermione's old chambers, they heard quick footfalls behind them.
They didn't need to turn around to know who it was as he began shouting for them to stop. Hermione, albeit reluctantly, ceased walking and turned the two of them to face Ron. He was looking at them with a confused expression.
"What's going on?"
Harry, now back to his former state of panic, answered in a single breath. "Hermione''sinpainandIdon'."
Hermione resisted the urge to smack some sense into him as she translated his mush of an explanation to a still puzzled-looking Ron. "I'm having the baby. I just went into labor at dinner and now Harry is escorting me back to my chambers."
Ron's mouth dropped open.
Hermione winced as another pain stabbed her stomach and made her see stars. She had to lie down soon or else she wouldn't be able to stand up. She took a deep breath and spoke as calmly as she could muster. "Find the mediwitch in her office and then alert Sirius. Can you do that for me, Ron?"
He nodded, still speechless.
"Well go on!" She snapped, her patience beginning to wear thin.
He quickly turned on his heel and sprinted down the corridor. She sighed and turned to Harry. "Let's go."
He followed her orders without speaking, afraid if he did it would just come out in a jumble like it had before. Within the span of a few minutes they arrived at her door and he wandlessly unlocked and pushed it open. Feeling a bit more confident and less light-headed, he scooped Hermione up into his arms and carried her the distance to her bed.
He helped her get comfortable by fluffing pillows and gathering up blankets. He saw Hermione flinch and clutch her side but otherwise remain silent. He could only imagine what she was going through right now and yet he was the one acting like a scared and confused child with no grasp on the situation whatsoever.
He sat down at her side and put his arm around her shoulders. She sighed and leaned into him.
"We're having a baby." She said softly.
"Yeah." He said breathlessly. "It's all happening so fast… a week ago I didn't even know if I would see you again and now we're having a baby together."
"I keep forgetting how little of time you've had to process this all." She said softly, looking at him through tired eyes. "I've had months but you… you've had days. How have you not lost your mind?"
"Oh, I've completely lost my mind." He said in upmost seriousness. "I've just hidden it under my invisibility cloak to find another day."
Hermione let out a breath of laughter before the longest and most painful jab yet punctured her stomach. She let out a whimper as she waited for it to pass, Harry's arm holding onto her tightly. When she felt relief, she leaned back as her breaths came out in short puffs.
"I love you." She said.
He looked at her curiously. "I love you too?"
She let out a breathy chuckle. "I just want to tell you before I start saying things I know I'll regret in a few hours."
"Like what?" He asked in confusion.
"You'll see." She said curtly.
After a few moments of silence there was a bustling at the door and a woman dressed in gray and white robes came into the room. She was clearly out of breath and had a slight pink tinge to her cheeks. She was carrying a brown leather bag that was slung around her shoulder and Harry heard a dull clanging of what he assumed were medical supplies.
"I was told… there was a… a baby that needed delivering." She said with slight question at the end.
"Yes." Harry said, getting up to greet the mediwitch. "She… she said she was having the baby about ten minutes ago."
The mediwitch looked at Harry with a knowing glance and turned to Hermione. "When did you start having contractions, dear?"
"About ten minutes ago like Harry… tried to say." She looked teasingly at the befuddled king.
"And how far apart would you say they have been occurring?" The older witched asked, setting down her bag on a nearby chair and making a beeline to Hermione.
"A few minutes."
"Already?" The mediwitch asked more to herself.
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, worry beginning to churn in her already paining stomach.
"Oh, nothing dear." She said, placing a hand on Hermione's forehead and feeling her temperature. "It just means this is going to be a very quick delivery."
"That's a good thing, I hope?" Hermione asked.
"I should say so." She said. "The quicker the delivery, the more brief the pain."
As if pre-planned, another contraction wracked Hermione's body. She yelped and held the back of the bed. Harry rushed over to her and grabbed her hand in his. He wasn't prepared for her to nearly break his hand. He bit back a cry of pain and focused on being there for Hermione. Whatever he was feeling, she was probably suffering ten times as much. Just when he though his fingers might fall off from lack of circulation, her hand slackened. He exhaled deeply out his nose and dared to look over at her. Her brow was slick with sweat and her breathing was labored one more.
"Wipe her forehead with this." A kind voice spoke from beside him.
He turned and saw the smiling face of the mediwitch. He took the cloth from her wrinkled hand and placed it atop Hermione's damp skin. She sighed at the contact with the cool cloth.
"Would you like any potions for the pain, dear? I'm afraid they won't do much but something is better than nothing, I always say."
"That would be lovely, thank you Miss…?" Hermione trailed off.
"Pomfrey. Poppy Pomfrey." The mediwitch answered.
"Madame Pomfrey." Hermione repeated with a tired smile. "Thank you."
"Of course." She bowed. "I'll just fish out a few from my pack. Excuse me."
The matron retreated to the other side of the room and began rummaging through the leather bag she had brought in with her. At first she seemed to find what she needed quickly and without hassle, putting a few bottles onto a nearby table, but after a minute without grabbing anything she huffed and reached her arm far into its depths. Her entire forearm up to her elbow disappeared seemingly into the chair beneath but neither Harry nor Hermione saw it emerge on the other side. They were both familiar with expendable charms and shared a quiet laugh at the humorous scene.
Madame Pomfrey returned to the bedside with an armful of bottles and a few empty glasses. She set the pile onto the bedside table and Hermione looked on with wide eyes.
"Are you sure those are all safe?" She asked in a high-pitched tone.
"Of course, my dear." She responded pointedly. "But not to worry. You can drink them all now so we don't have to fret about round-the-clock digestion all the way through delivery."
Hermione nodded and then abruptly stiffened as she reached for Harry's hand again. She crushed it in her own as another wave of pain wracked her body. She let out her loudest cry yet and Harry looked at the matron pleadingly.
"Isn't there anything you can do?"
She finished pouring a murky green substance into one of the empty glasses and looked at him plainly. "Anything I can do I am already doing. These potions are the only thing that can help with the pain. Other than that you may want to consider having me wrap up that hand of yours by the time the birth is over."
Harry resisted the urge to groan and turned back to Hermione who had just slackened her grip. He reached for the towel he had used earlier and wiped her brown once more as Madame Pomfrey poured the first potion into her welcoming lips. She gulped it down quickly, scrunching up her face at the foul smell.
"What's in that?" She asked, desperately wanting a glass of water to wash down the bitter aftertaste.
"Trust me, dear, you don't want to know." The mediwitch said simply.
There was a knock on the door and all three heads turned to see a bashful looking Ron and Sirius standing in the doorway.
"You go take care of the guests while I finish giving Miss Granger here the potions." Madame Pomfrey said.
Harry leaned over and kissed Hermione's forehead before turning around and greeting his two friends.
"How is she?" Sirius asked, peeking over his shoulder.
"Stronger than ever." Harry replied, flexing his sore hand at his side.
"That's our girl." He replied proudly. "And how are you, son?"
"Better than before, I hope?" Ron asked jokingly. "I swear, mate, you looked like you were about to pass out faster than Hermione."
Harry flinched. "Well, I'm better now. The mediwitch is giving Hermione some potions for the pain but she said it would be a quick birth given Hermione's contractions."
"That's good." Sirius said, nodding.
Harry turned to Ron. "Did you tell anyone else?"
He shook his head. "Not even mum or Ginny. Figured Hermione wouldn't appreciate two screaming women bustling about while she's all… well… you know."
Harry chuckled. "I'm sure she wouldn't have minded too much."
"Why do you say that?" The ginger-haired wizard asked curiously.
"HARRY YOU GET YOUR BLEEDING ARSE BACK HERE RIGHT – THIS – SECOND!"
Harry started and looked over to where Hermione was glaring at him through narrowed eyes. Madame Pomfrey had just summoned her bag of supplies and pulled out a large red cloth that she was spreading on the bed underneath Hermione's legs.
"Oh. Right." Ron said in a whimper.
Harry rushed over to her side and reached for her extended hand. Though his irritated muscles and bones begged him not to, he let her hold onto it with all her might as she battled through the longest and most gruesome of the pains.
Madame Pomfrey finished positioning the cloth and ceremoniously lifted up Hermione's skirts. She removed whatever was in her way with a simple flick of her hand and Harry could feel Ron and Sirius's faces grow red as they averted their eyes.
"You're almost ready, Miss Granger." The matron spoke as she lifted her head. "Just a centimeter or two more and then we can get ready to push."
"We? Who is we?" Hermione shouted. "I don't see any of you with a crowning head coming out of your insides!"
Harry would have laughed if she still didn't have his hand clutched so firmly – and painfully – in hers. In fact, he felt more like crying or shouting profanities himself.
"Do you want us to, err, leave?" Ron asked in a tone that hinted that he wouldn't mind a bit if she did.
"No!" Hermione said sharply. "You'll stay right here."
"Are you sure?" Ron asked, his voice raising in pitch.
"DID I STUTTER, RONALD WEASLEY?"
"N-no." He said, practically cowering. "W-we'll stay. Right, Sirius?"
"Of course." He said, giving off a much calmer air than Ron. "It would be an honor witnessing the birth of your child, Hermione."
"Thank you, Sirius." Hermione said softly. "At least someone in this room wants to be here."
"Oy!" Harry exclaimed.
Hermione turned to look at Harry with a twinkle in her eyes. "You're biologically programmed. You don't count."
Harry harrumphed. Hermione rolled her eyes and leaned over to kiss him on his cheek briefly. She barely set her head back on the pillow when another contraction wracked waves of pain over her. She was beginning to think it would split her in half.
"It's time." Madame Pomfrey said.
Hermione would have sighed in relief but the pain had only just subsided and her body screamed for a break from it all. She had fought Death Eaters, had her heart broken, and been cursed within an inch of death but none of those feelings dared to compare with the anguish she was experiencing now, though it was the only one destined to bring about a positive result.
"Are you ready?" The matron asked, positioned at the foot of the bed.
She had positioned Hermione's legs without her realizing it and although her mind screamed in protest, she spoke in a strong voice. "Yes."
The next few minutes were filled with more pain than Hermione could describe. The contractions paled in comparison. Her mind was nearly blank. All she could register was the commands she was giving to herself to push. She needed to bring this child into the world. After everything that had transpired this was the miracle they deserved. She vaguely heard herself cursing Harry and his part in making her hurt like this and then turning on both Sirius and Ron as well for being male. All remarks she would regret later but at the time she wanted nothing more than the rip everyone's head off, including her own to end the suffering.
With a final push, the screaming of a newborn filled the chamber. Hermione collapsed into the pillows behind her as Madame Pomfrey removed the child from the connection with its mother and placed it on the table she had ordered Ron to make with more supplies from her bag.
"You did it." Harry said, pride radiating from his expression. "You did it, Hermione."
"I… did it." She mumbled, feeling fatigue begin to creep up on her. She willed herself to stay awake as her eyes went over to the table where her crying baby was being cleaned up.
"What is it?" Ron asked.
"It's a baby, Ron." Sirius said, looking at Ron with a cocked eyebrow.
"I know that!" He said irately. "I mean… is it a boy or girl?"
The mediwitch finished cleaning up the newborn and wrapped it in a blanket she had draped over her shoulder. "Congratulations, Hermione. You've brought a lovely baby girl into the world tonight."
"A girl." Hermione breathed.
"A daughter." Harry whispered at the same time.
Madame Pomfrey walked over to the couple and handed the bundle over to Hermione, whose arms wrapped around it like a precious stone that would break if handled too roughly. The baby's crying faded away in the arms of her mother. Hermione looked down at the face of her daughter and felt a surge of love that she had never felt before. It was the purest, most natural feeling she had ever know. The love for her child came as easy as breathing.
She looked at Harry, whose expression mirrored the way she felt.
"She's so beautiful." He said quietly.
"The most beautiful thing I've ever seen." Hermione agreed.
Harry looked up into her eyes and they both smiled. The baby let out a gurgling noise and they both looked down as it opened its eyes to reveal two emerald orbs.
"She has your eyes." Hermione said softly.
"And your hair." Harry responded, reaching over and caressing their daughter's tuft of cinnamon locks.
"I wanna see!" Ron said eagerly.
Hermione laughed and held the bundle in her arms over to Harry and he cradled her to his chest. He raised himself from the bed and carried her over to where Ron and Sirius stood. Both men turned to mush at the sight of the child and began making comments in high-pitched voices they would later deny about the cuteness of her little hands and adorable upturned nose.
"Does she have a name?" Madame Pomfrey asked.
Harry looked over to Hermione who had a thoughtful expression on her face. The name that tumbled out of her lips came almost as easily as the answer to a question on one of her old school exams. "Liliana."
There was a brief silence following the name. Madame Pomfrey broke the silence by repeating the name out loud. "Liliana Potter."
Ron looked over at Hermione. "How did you come up with that?"
"Well… it combines Harry's mothers name and my mother's middle name." Hermione answered easily. "When I was thinking of names I wanted to honor both sides of our families. I considered James Edward if it was a boy and… well up until now I had a bit of trouble coming up with a girl's name for some reason. If you don't like it we can—ˮ
"I love it." Harry interrupted. "It's perfect."
Hermione smiled at him and looked at the mediwitch. "Liliana Potter it is."
She smiled at her and nodded.
"I get to be the godfather, right?" Ron asked, looking in-between Harry and Hermione. "Sirius is already Harry's and I practically got the two of you together in the first place."
Harry rolled his eyes as Hermione answered through a laugh. "We'll see."
Ron took it as good enough as an answer and went back to cooing at the baby. After a moment, Harry handed her off to him and approached Hermione's bed. The tiredness was beginning to show through her tough exterior. He kneeled down next to her and took her hands in his.
"I'm so tired, Harry." She said softly, her eyelids heavy with fatigue.
"I know, love." He said, caressing the top of her hand with his thumb. "But I need to ask you something before you sleep, okay?"
"Okay, but hurry. I think one of the potions I took was a sleeping draft." She joked.
Through his own haziness, he spoke, knowing that this moment was as perfect as any to voice what has been plaguing his mind since he first laid eyes on her in Clara's entryway. "Hermione we've been through so much. Not just these last few months but before that with the war and everything in-between. After we knocked out that Death Eater things have never been quite the same." Hermione laughed tiredly. "And everything, even the bad, I wouldn't trade for the world because I believe chance pulled you, me, and Ron together. But it was fate that made me fall in love with you."
"Harry…" She started.
"Wait, just one more minute." He said. She nodded and he continued. "You should know by now that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I've wanted you to be my queen since I was eleven years old, even if I didn't realize it yet."
"Are you asking me what I think you are?" Hermione asked, her heart beating so fast she feared it would jump out of her chest.
He answered her with another question. "Hermione, will you marry me?"
She smiled widely. "Harry I've been waiting for you to ask that for nearly a decade."
"Is that a yes?"
"Of course it's a yes, you twat!"
He laughed and gathered her up in his arms for a warm embrace. They held onto each other tightly for a few moments before Harry felt Hermione grow limp in his arms, her breathing slowing to a relaxed pace. He pulled back and saw her eyes closed with a smile plastered on her face. He chuckled under his breath and laid her down on the bed, pulling the covers up over her. He looked down at her sleeping form and then over to where Sirius and Ron were playing with their newborn child and wondered how he got so lucky. He had two beautiful girls in his life and felt a great sense of excitement bubble up in his chest at the thought of their future together.
For the future in Harry Potter's life looked bright for the first time since he could remember. There were no Dark Lord's to defeat, no banishments to be overruled, and no dark clouds looming in the horizon. The kingdom of Gryffindor was at peace at the command and protection of its noble king, his most trusted night, and the women who stole his heart at his side.
All was well.
A/N: Voila! C'est fini! Thank you to all who stayed with the story until the end and a special thank you to those who reviewed. Your kindness and enthusiasm helped me complete this story (albeit slowly) and I truly appreciate it. If you would like to listen to the score I put together for this story it, and much more, is posted on my new website. The link can be found on my author's page. The site will also be my main source of communication about my writing so if you're curious as to what I'm up to then I highly suggest checking it out every so often for updates. Until next time, dear readers!