First off - I just have to say that if you haven't read "It's All Uncharted," well, there's a lot here that won't make sense. Also - thanks to everyone who added alerts, left comments, etc. I was overwhelmed and so grateful that you all enjoyed my first fanfic. Thanks just doesn't seem enough, but it's all I have :D
Second - I've decided that this story is the sequel to IAU, and that "Show Me What I'm Looking For," will be the third story in the series - which I'm working on as I'm figuring out how to post to both stories. I initially posted that prologue so that I wasn't virtually stoned to death after publishing a chapter I knew would make some panic.
Third - I hope you like this chapter. It wasn't the initial direction I planned on going, but once I started writing, it just happened. This story will see things from various POV's instead of just Draco and Hermione, which I think is really going to add more depth to the story as a whole.
With that said...enjoy!
Draco hated being inside any sort of hospital, but he was convinced that the muggle ones were worse than St. Mungo's. He felt like he was on sensory overload inside them, with the continuous beeping and buzzing of machines, the loudspeaker system paging people in various parts of the hospital or calling something called 'codes.' He didn't know what a 'code' was, but he'd been inside muggle hospitals enough to realize that 'codes' were bad - because everyone stopped what they were doing, they listened, and then if it required their services, the medical professionals sprinted down the halls at a speed only fueled by adrenaline.
He walked into Hermione's room with a cup of ice chips, setting them down on the rolling tray next to her bed. There was a large monitor secured around her protruding belly, hooked up to a machine to monitor the baby's heartbeat. A white clothespin like device was pinched lightly to Hermione's left index finger, monitoring her own heartbeat while she appeared to be sleeping. Draco knew better of course. He knew what his wife looked like when she was sleeping, and what she was doing was worrying with her eyes closed. She'd been in labor now for about six hours, and it was nearly three in the morning.
Leaning over the hospital bed, Draco brushed a hand over her forehead before kissing it lightly. "Stop stressing," he whispered. "Everything is going to be fine."
Her eyes fluttered open as she looked at him. "I told you not to say that," she replied, her voice a notch above a whisper.
Draco sighed, kissing her forehead once more. "I have ice chips for you."
Hermione nodded, giving him a small smile. "Thanks."
Sitting down in the chair next to the bed, he reached out for her hand and intertwined his fingers with hers. The two of them had gotten used to the silence between them when inside the walls of her muggle healer's office and this hospital. Draco didn't want to wind her up any more than what she already was. Hermione didn't want to get her hopes up any more than what was required.
She clenched her husband's hand tightly as another contraction rippled through her abdomen. Never once making a sound, Hermione bit her lips together and squeezed her eyes tight. Hermione refused to take any type of pain medication, as she wanted this time to be as natural as possible. She wanted to feel everything. She refused to be numb.
"It will help," Dr. Whitlock said, his voice sympathetic with each word. "With the pain…and pushing. Numb isn't necessarily a bad thing right now."
Tears continued to fall down Hermione's cheeks as she looked at Dr. Whitlock, then back to Healer Morgan. Dr. Whitlock was a muggle obstetrician who was aware of the wizarding world, as his own brother was a muggle born wizard, who was friends with Healer Morgan. The two of them shared a practice together. It was Healer Morgan's suggestion they see Dr. Whitlock during Hermione's five-month checkup, and Hermione knew that if the Healer was referring to her see a muggle physician immediately, that something was wrong.
There was no real explanation as to why their baby was stillborn in January, just a few days after James' fifth birthday. The tests the Healer Morgan ran after Dr. Whitlock delivered the baby showed no traces of dark magic. The cord was tangled around his neck, and the baby just couldn't breathe, Dr. Whitlock said to the devastated couple. Draco was horrified at the thought of Hermione having to go through labor, to give birth to their stillborn child. As if she hadn't been traumatized enough. He asked - nearly begged - for there to be another way, but all he received in return were sympathetic looks from Healer Morgan and Dr. Whitlock. They gave them the option of letting her wait until her body induced labor on its own, or she could be induced at the hospital. Hermione couldn't bear the thought of waiting for her body to go into labor, so they chose to be induced.
He felt her grip relax, as he was standing over her again, his head pressed to hers as he whispered comforting words into her ear. Draco stroked his free hand through her hair as she caught her breath, relaxing a bit, as the pain subsided. A nurse walked into the room and smiled brightly at the couple before her. "How are we feeling?" she asked, snapping on a clean pair of gloves.
"Fine," Hermione replied, wincing a bit as a hand resting on her stomach.
"I'm just going to check and see how far along you are," the nurse replied. Discretely, the nurse lifted up the blankets at the end of Hermione's bed as Hermione opened her legs, bending her knees as she felt the Nurse examining her. "Well - I hope you're ready to see your baby," the middle-aged woman chirped. "Because you're ready to start pushing. I'm going to go get Dr. Whitlock."
As the nurse plucked her gloves off and tossed them in the trash before leaving, Hermione and Draco looked at each other. Draco was no longer holding back the excitement in his eyes, despite the look of fear he could see in hers. He nuzzled her nose, kissing her lips lightly as he spoke. "We're having a baby," he murmured. "A beautiful baby to spoil rotten."
"We're not spoiling him."
Hermione looked at him. "Her?"
Draco shrugged. "I have a feeling."
Dr. Whitlock appeared in the room, a grin peeping through his thick scruffy beard with Healer Morgan right behind him, nearly skipping with each step, while some of the newborn nurses followed in with various bits of equipment. The feeling in the air was different this time around. Draco and Hermione could both feel it. "Do you want me to call -"
"No," Hermione said. "I don't want anyone here. Not until…" a thick tear escaped from her eye as Draco brushed it away.
"Shhh, it's ok," he said. "We can wait."
Nurses began to walk around the bed, pulling out stirrups from the sides, helping Hermione situate herself as Dr. Whitlow and Healer Morgan helped each other don their sterilized gowns. Dr. Whitlow went and sat at the end of Hermione's bed on a stool, looking over the blankets and sterile drapes across her lap at her while Healer Morgan stood on the other side, just as they did sixteen months ago.
"I don't want to do this," Hermione sobbed into Draco's chest as she clutched at the front of his shirt with her hands. "I can't, Draco, I just can't."
Draco hugged her as best as he could, a hand pressed into the back of her head as he cried silent tears of his own. "You have to," he managed to speak. "I'll be here with you. The whole time."
"I can't," she continued to sob, her entire body shaking. "I just can't do this."
"I know," Draco said, stifling his own sob. "But you have to."
"Ok, Hermione," Dr. Whitlock said with a grin. "You can start pushing with the next contraction."
She nodded, biting her lip as she took a deep breath. Draco held her hand as he stood to her left, Healer Morgan held her other hand as she stood on Hermione's right. With the next contraction, Hermione winced, pushing her chin to her chest as Healer Morgan counted down from ten. "…five, four, three, two, one."
Panting, Hermione caught her breath for a minute or two as she felt Draco kiss her temple. "You're doing brilliant," he whispered.
Wincing, Hermione felt another contraction coming. Taking in a deep breath, she braced herself for the wave of pain tearing through her body as she pushed again, grinding her teeth together. She squeezed the blood out of Draco and Healer Morgan's hands as she felt the baby's head crowning. Catching her breath again, she leaned back into the pillows. Draco grabbed a cold cloth from one of the other nurses in the room and pressed it against her forehead, then her cheeks.
"You're doing brilliant," Draco said, wiping her tears away with a washcloth as she stopped her pushing to catch her breath. He could see his wife was drained - both physically and emotionally - but Dr. Whitlock reassured them that all he needed was one more good push and the entire ordeal would be over. "I love you so much."
"I just - want this - to be - over!" she cried through her panting, shifting her upper body so that she could hold onto her husband for comfort. While she was numb from the pain, the pressure she was feeling was overwhelming her body and her emotions.
"It's almost over," he promised, hugging her. "It's almost over."
"And the head is out!" Dr. Whitlock exclaimed after a few more pushes. "Come on Hermione, give me another good push!"
Hermione gasped out loud, craning her head back as she caught her breath before squeezing Draco and Healer Morgan's hands again as she pushed. Dr. Whitlock narrated everything, from the first shoulder popping out to the second with another push. Bearing down a final time, Hermione pushed with all of her might and gasped as she felt her baby slide out of her body and into the hands of Dr. Whitlock. "It's a girl!" he exclaimed as Hermione collapsed backwards against the bed, breaking down into sobs. Two nurses came over, one of them suctioning the baby's mouth out while the other toweled her off. Upon the first loud cry from their daughter's tiny lungs, Draco began to cry as well, burying his face into Hermione's neck as he silently shook. Hermione weaved her arm around, dragging her hand through his hair, holding onto the locks as tears openly poured down her face.
They couldn't tell which tears they were shedding. Tears for a baby neither truly grieved properly for, or tears for their new baby, whose screams couldn't have sounded more brilliant to either's ears as the nurses took her over to the warming bed to clean her off properly before diapering and swaddling her. Probably both, if Draco had the mental capacity to analyze the moment properly. Draco composed himself somewhat, wiping his eyes and cheeks clean with the palms of his hand as he looked up at Hermione, who was looking at him, smiling her first, honest Hermione smile that he hadn't seen in sixteen months. He kissed her forehead, her nose, and her lips, pressing so tightly against her face he felt their tears connecting where the flushed skin of their cheeks met.
Pulling away, Draco brushed his hands through the sides of Hermione's sweaty, mussed hair and grinned. "It's a girl," he whispered.
Moments later, Healer Morgan appeared with their newly wrapped bundle appeared on the other side of Hermione, carefully holding the squalling baby in its crisp white blanket with a pink hat on her head. "I think someone wants their mummy," she whispered.
Sitting up a bit with Draco's help, Hermione took the baby from Healer Morgan and cradled her daughter in her arms, slightly rocking as she cooed softly. "Hi, baby," she said, stroking a finger against the soft skin of her daughter's cheek. "It's ok," she whispered, cuddling her close. "Mummy's here, sweetheart." Hermione took a good look at her daughter as she calmed down. Draco slid a finger around his daughter's hand, letting her grab a hold of it as she began to stare back at them. "She looks like you," Hermione whispered. "She has your nose…and your chin."
Draco laughed, sniffling a bit as he wiped tears from his eyes. "Let's hope she grows out of it, eh?"
Dr. Whitlock walked over, pulling his scrub cap off his head as he beamed brightly at the new parents. "You did great, Hermione," he said. "She's perfect - just as I said she would be. Seven pounds even, twenty-one inches long. Healer Morgan will help Hermione deliver the placenta while Nurse Katherine will help you see if we can't get the little one to latch on and start feeding, and in a little bit, we'll have the nurses bathe the baby and bring her back all shiny and clean."
Hermione nodded as Draco reached out a hand to Dr. Whitlock, who accepted. "Thank you," Draco said, some strength returning to his voice. "I appreciate…everything."
"Not a problem," Dr. Whitlock replied with a grin. "I'll come back and check on you in a few hours."
Nurse Katherine was already helping Hermione shed her hospital gown from the top, exposing one side of her chest as she showed Hermione how to position the baby and her nipple so that she could latch on successfully. Draco watched as she listened intently, no doubt memorizing every word the nurse was saying as if she was in school. He was itching to hold her, but he knew Hermione needed this, as did the baby, so he summoned his patience as he stood over Hermione and his daughter, stroking Hermione's head softly as they watched their baby latch on perfectly, her little cheeks moving quickly as she began to eat.
"She has your mouth too," Hermione joked, wincing a bit the pain of her daughter's forceful sucking.
Draco snorted. "Funny, Granger."
She looked up at him and smiled. "Come here," she said.
Bending down, she caught her lips with his, deepening the kiss just a bit before pulling back with a look of adoration. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you more," he whispered back.
"It's not possible," Hermione replied.
Laughing, Draco kissed her again. "Trust me, in this moment right now, it is a fact."
Hermione looked back down at her beautiful daughter and sighed contently. "You can tell your parents, and everyone else. Just…can you tell them to come in a few hours? I'm not ready to be bombarded."
"I'll call them later," Draco said. "It's just past four in the morning."
Yawning, Hermione nodded as Nurse Katherine helped show her how to detach the baby from one breast and switch to the other, talking about how it was important to try to spend the same amount of time on each breast.. Twenty minutes later, the placenta was delivered and the baby was whisked away to be bathed and printed for her birth certificate, but not before Draco held her, just for a brief moment.
"You need a name," he whispered, staring into her eyes as she stared back. "Mummy and I will come up with one soon though. I promise." Draco kissed her forehead and held her close to his chest as he swayed slowly back and forth. He didn't want to pass her off to the nurse waiting, but he knew he had to at some point. "You'll bring her back when she's done?" he asked.
The nurse nodded. "We usually try to let them sleep in the nursery but Dr. Whitlock gave us specific instructions to wheel her back in with you."
"Thanks," Draco replied. With a light kiss on his new baby's forehead, he passed her off and watched as they left the room.
Hermione was pulling her gown back up, trying to get herself situated in more comfortable position as Healer Morgan gave her a pain potion that was safe for her to take while breastfeeding but was more instantaneous relief than muggle medicine. Draco helped fluff and prop up pillows for her as she got comfortable. She patted the space the extra space in the large hospital bed with her hand. Removing his shoes, Draco carefully crawled in bed next to her as she curled into him. He wrapped his arms around her as she yawned.
"I'm so proud of you," he said, watching as her eyes fluttered shut, her face relaxing. "You were brilliant."
Hermione nodded, snuggling close. "Mmhmm."
"We need a name," he mumbled as he closed his eyes. "Since someone wouldn't let us come up with one prior."
"Shut it," Hermione mumbled back. "We'll come up with something."
Hermione and Draco sat on the couch, watching a movie on the rainy Saturday afternoon. Hermione laid her head in Draco's lap as he had an arm draped over her side, a hand resting on her six-month pregnant belly. She'd been walking on eggshells ever since they made it past five months, despite numerous reassurances from her healer and her muggle doctor that everything was fine. It wasn't until Hermione realized she was pregnant again that she wondered if she made the right decision, as everything about this pregnancy terrified her.
"Are you sure you want to be surprised?" Draco asked, his hand rubbing her belly softly.
She nodded. "I know you're going to tell me I'm being all detached again, but I'm not. I just want a baby. A healthy baby. I could care less what it is."
Draco moved his hand so that it was on top of hers as they both held her stomach. "What about names?" Draco asked, somewhat cautiously.
"I can't help that I'm excited," he said softly. "Or that I want to start decorating the nursery, or know what we're having or picking out a name. I know you're scared and I'm just as scared but what happened before was just a horrible…it just happens sometimes. Both the healer and the doctor said so. What happened wasn't anyone's fault. Nothing in your past caused this."
Hermione sniffled, staring aimlessly towards the telly. That's probably what angered her the most. Had it been because of dark magic she encountered during the war, like her healer warned, she would have had something, or someone to be angry with. But she had nothing. Draco was right in that regard – it was just a horrible thing that happened outside of anyone's control. "We didn't even have a name picked out for our son," she said, her voice quivering with each word.
That much was true, as his small headstone simply read "Baby Malfoy," resting next to his maternal grandparents. "This isn't going to be like last time," he said to his wife, squeezing her hand.
"I'm just not ready to think names," she said, her voice void of any emotion. "I'm sorry."
"It's alright," he replied, doing his best not to sound defeated. "We still have time."
When his eyes opened again, a nurse was wheeling his daughter back into the room in her plastic bed, a pink card reading MALFOY printed on the front with her birthday underneath. "What time is it?" he whispered.
"Almost six," the nurse replied. She could see him eyeing his daughter while his wife slept soundly next to him. "Would you like to hold her?"
"Yes," he said immediately. Grinning, he carefully took his daughter from the nurse and placed the baby on her tummy against his chest, looking at her little face as she faced her mother, sucking away at her pacifier. With a protective arm and hand on her tiny back and another around his wife, he closed his eyes and felt himself somewhat relax. The breath he'd seemed to be holding since Hermione told him she was pregnant again was slowly deflating.
Harry couldn't sleep. His nerves were on edge from the moment Draco let him know that Hermione's water broke and that they were on their way to the hospital. Albus, who was currently cutting a handful of molars, wasn't sleeping well either unless he was snuggled up with a parent. Ginny was sleeping upstairs in one of the guest rooms in Draco's house with James, Lucius and Narcissa sleeping in another. They came over as soon as Draco notified them so that they could get the nursery ready – which Hermione couldn't bring herself to do.
"Don't 'but' me, Harry Potter," she warned as the two sat on a park bench together, a warming charm surrounding them on the crisp March day. Her due date was just a little bit more than a month away, her belly looking like a perfectly round beach ball attached to her petite frame. Harry took her out for some ice cream after having a discussion with Draco at work earlier that week. He was beyond frustrated with his wife, but didn't have the heart to push her into doing anything, so Harry offered to talk to her.
He dipped his spoon into his cardboard cup of chocolate chip ice cream and took a bite. "All I'm saying, is that I know you. And when this baby comes you're going to panic because you won't have anything ready."
"I'm not tempting fate."
"Being prepared isn't tempting fate."
Hermione shook her head, stabbing her strawberry ice cream with a spoon. "You don't know that."
Harry laughed. "Whatever, Hermione. I know you've been acting as if this baby inside you is a theory more than a reality, but I also know that if you didn't want to get pregnant, you would have done something to prevent it. You aren't stupid. You wanted to try again just as much as he did. Admit it."
Sighing, Hermione played with her spoon in the ice cream. "Draco wants children so bad…but we're both still trying to get over what happened…"
"No one wants you to get over it," Harry said softly. "It's going to stay with you. Just like your parents. You just have to learn how to deal with it. You lost a child, Hermione. That's not something anyone gets over. Ask Molly if you don't believe me."
Hermione placed a hand to her stomach as the baby kicked. Smiling softly, she closed her eyes as the baby kicked again. "All this baby does when it's awake is kick, I swear."
Harry laughed. "Maybe it's her way of saying that she wants her room finished."
Rolling her eyes, Hermione set her ice cream down on the bench. "Draco has you convinced it's a girl, I see."
He shrugged. "He has a feeling."
"Of course he does," Hermione replied.
Albus whimpered a bit in his sleep as Harry shifted him from the crook of his arm to holding him on his chest, his sleepy head resting on his father's shoulder. Reclined in the chair, Harry yawned as he rubbed a hand on Albus' back. He was excited for Draco and Hermione to see the nursery. It was painted light pink, with beautiful white baby furniture assembled and arranged by Ginny and Narcissa, doing their best to think like Hermione as they decided where to place things. Different pastel colored polka dots adorned the walls, as it matched the bedding and the polka dotted rocker that Draco found himself at a muggle baby shop a few weeks ago. It looked like an oversized chair with an ottoman to match but it swayed back and forth, which Draco thought Hermione would like when she would have to be up feeding the baby.
"Are you sure you ought to be painting the room pink?" Harry asked his wife, who was prying open the cans of paint.
Ginny smirked. "Yes."
"You're painting a room based on a hunch," Harry stated, instead of asking.
Laughing, Ginny poured the paint into the tray and charmed the rollers to begin their work. "It's a girl – the doctor told Draco four months ago. He's just been keeping it a secret because Hermione doesn't want to know."
His shoulders dropped a bit. "But he told you."
"Because he knows you would have told her," Ginny replied. She walked over and gave her husband a sweet kiss on the lips. "Now – go help Lucius put together the furniture. Narcissa and Mum are helping Jori wash and fold all the clothes Draco's been collecting."
He gave his wife a mischievous grin. "You're awfully sexy when you're bossy, Mrs. Potter."
Laughing, Ginny kissed him again, this time their arms wrapping around one another as their kiss was less playful and more passionate. He thread his fingers through her long red locks and sighed as they pulled apart, staring into each other's eyes. "We're pretty lucky, aren't we?" she whispered as she held onto him.
Harry smiled, tucking her hair behind her ears. "The luckiest."
Harry cracked an eye open as he saw his wife standing over them, brushing a hand over Albus' head. "Hey – go back to sleep."
Ginny shook her head. "I will. I just came to check on my little one."
Nodding, Harry lessened his recline in the chair as Ginny knelt down next to him. "I missed this with James," Harry said.
"You had to work," Ginny softly countered. "You didn't miss everything."
"I missed a lot of things," Harry stated, somewhat remorsefully. "Things I wish I hadn't."
Ginny placed a reassuring hand on Harry's knee. "Yet it doesn't make him love you any less. James adores you, Harry. So will Albus."
Harry sighed, nodding a bit. "I still should have been there for you."
"I knew what I was getting into," Ginny replied. She knew that in the back of her mind, Harry didn't enjoy being away from their family. However, sometimes in the heat of an argument, she would forget it and say something she'd instantly regret. But it was moments like this that reminded her of how much he truly loved their children, and that the sacrifices they both had to make early in their marriage were worth it in the end. "Having a baby while you went through auror training, granted, wasn't our most brilliant of ideas, but we survived it, didn't we?"
"I guess," Harry replied. He glanced over at the clock on the wall. It was nearly six in the morning. "Do you think she's had the baby?"
Ginny shrugged as she stood back on her feet. "I'm not sure. Draco will probably call us in a little while either way. Why don't you put Albus down in the playroom and come back to bed with me and James?"
"I don't want to disturb Al," Harry replied, which was his way of telling his wife that he wanted to snuggle with his son a bit longer.
She leaned down and lightly kissed his lips, picking up the subtext of his statement. "Alright. I'm going to return to my cuddle bug upstairs. I love you."
"Love you too," he whispered. He watched her retreat towards the stairs before reclining back in the chair once more, allowing the sounds of his son's shallow breathing to lull him to sleep.
Upstairs in Draco's house, neither of his parents found a way to sleep. Narcissa sat propped up on the bed, putting the finishing touches on a cream-colored blanket she was knitting for their grandchild. Lucius sat in the window seat, gazing out into the dark streets of muggle London as he waited for the first few glimpses of daylight. He watched his wife as she moved her knitting needles in a swift and repetitive motion with the cheery yellow yarn in her lap. She hadn't knitted since the day before they buried their grandson, staying up all night to make him a small blanket.
"Cissa," he whispered, trying to coax her back to bed. "Tomorrow will be a long day and the children will need us at our best."
She shook his hand away from her shoulder as tears fell down her face. "It's almost finished. When it is done I will come to bed."
Lucius sighed. "Cissa –"
"Stop it!" his wife hissed. "Don't comfort me, don't tell me to stop, just don't. I am making a blanket for my grandson. He might need it. Maybe he'll need it. I don't know. But him having it will make me feel better and you telling me to stop isn't. So go to bed! I will be there when I am finished."
Lucius cracked a wry smile. "Darling, you can't possibly know that I'm staring at you if you aren't looking at me."
Narcissa looked up at him, continuing to knit as her eyes peered over her glasses. "We've been married for twenty six years, Lucius. I know when you're staring."
"Of course," Lucius replied, his gaze returning to the quiet streets through the window. "Can you believe they're having a girl? "
His wife grinned, her hands knitting away. "I think it's wonderful. The Malfoy line could use a shakeup, and a daughter would certainly do it. I for one, am looking forward to buying dresses instead of dragons."
Lucius wouldn't dare admit it aloud, but he was looking forward to having a granddaughter to dote upon. He'd been more of a father now to Draco since his return than he'd ever been in the past. He was also fiercely, albeit silently, protective of his daughter in law, as he looked at her as the glue that healed his family back together. She was the reason his relationship with his son improved daily. She was the reason he and his wife were able to find their way back to a happy place. Hermione always took the time to see things from his perspective, even if she didn't always agree with him.
Narcissa switched out her yarn from yellow to white to make a small border around the blanket. She remembered when she and Lucius came back from their holiday after the wedding. Lucius took her to Crete, where they stayed at in a rented villa on a wizarding resort and talked about everything. There were a lot of apologizes from her husband, many tears from both of them, but after two months away, they were ready to return to London in time for Christmas. Draco promised them some exciting news upon their return, making them even more anxious for their arrival. The two of them popped over to Draco and Hermione's home after they dropped their things off at their house.
"We're in the kitchen!" she heard Draco shout.
Brushing themselves off, Narcissa and Lucius walked into the kitchen and saw Hermione standing behind the kitchen island, wearing a grey, long sleeved shirt. Draco walked over to his parents, giving his mother a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. She looked at her son and smiled. "Marriage suits you well," she said.
Draco laughed. "Well, it helps that I have a pretty amazing wife."
Narcissa could see Hermione blush at her son's compliment, though she stayed in place behind the island.
"Did you have a nice vacation?" Hermione asked.
"It was just what we needed," Narcissa replied. "Wasn't it, dear?"
Lucius nodded, and Narcissa felt him reach for her hand. "It was."
She could see her son was practically splitting at the seams, rocking back and forth on the heels of his feet. Draco looked back at Hermione, who grinned and gave him a nod. Draco walked back over towards Hermione and reached for her hand, pulling her from around the counter. When he did, she saw right away what had her son beaming as he blurted out, "We're having a baby!"
"A baby!" Narcissa couldn't help but exclaim, clapping her hands as she quickly embraced her daughter in law. She could feel the protruding bump between them as she hugged Hermione tight before holding her back at arm's length so she could take a good look. "How far along are you? Do you know what you're having? Why didn't you tell us sooner!" her questions rushed out of her mouth before she had a chance to reign them in.
Hermione laughed, putting a hand on top of her bump. "Four months next week, we won't know what we're having until our January appointment, and we didn't tell you because we wanted you to enjoy your vacation."
Draco draped an arm around Hermione's waist. "We knew if we told you she was pregnant that you'd come back early."
"Four months…" Narcissa quickly added up the numbers in her head.
"I found out the night before the wedding," Hermione interjected. "The healer said she thought it would take us awhile to conceive so I stopped taking my potion but -"
"I have super sperm," Draco boasted, cutting his wife up as Narcissa swatted him in the chest. "Ow, Mother!"
"Don't say super…I can't even repeat it. It isn't proper."
"It was a bit crass," Lucius replied, though Narcissa could see that he was giving his son a look of approval. "Congratulations, son."
Narcissa nodded, standing on her tiptoes so that she could kiss her son's cheek. "Yes. Congratulations my sweet boy." She couldn't properly put into words what she was feeling at the idea of being a grandmother, but she couldn't wait to start helping Hermione shop and plan for the baby's arrival.
Lucius eventually came back to bed, and as Narcissa finished the border of her granddaughter's blanket, she put her knitting to the side. She didn't know how her husband could sleep. Of course, he was always better at shutting off his emotions when he needed to. Narcissa didn't know what she would have done with her son the day they learned the terrible news if Lucius hadn't been there. It was supposed to be a regular checkup, and Narcissa was going with them to learn the sex of the baby. Hermione was convinced it was a boy, while she and Draco were secretly hoping for a girl.
It was hard to forget that day. The look on the healer's face when her magic couldn't find a heartbeat. The look on Hermione's face when the muggle doctor used his machine to see if he could find the baby's heartbeat on the scratchy black and white screen. Narcissa excused herself for a moment, walking into the hallway before sending her patronus charm - a baby dragon - to her husband with a message to come quick.
At one point, she was certain her husband was the only thing keeping her son from hitting the floor as sobs racked his body in the hallway of the muggle hospital By that time, Harry and Ginny arrived, and were in the room with Hermione, crying with her as Draco excused himself. She knew her son didn't want to break down in front of his wife, so he did it front of them, tucked away in the corner of the hospital hallway. Narcissa had never seen such a tight grip around her son from her husband as Draco's gut wrenching cries were muffled by Lucius' chest and for nearly ten minutes before Lucius intervened.
"It's going to be ok," Lucius said, his voice stoic and calm as Narcissa rubbed Draco's back with her hand. "You have to get it together. Hermione needs you."
Narcissa watched as her son nodded, his face still in his father's chest as he took in a few deep breaths, trying to compose himself. Eventually, he pulled away from his father and looked at her. She pulled a handkerchief from her purse and wiped his face, certain she hadn't done this since he was small. Narcissa braced her hands on his arms and swallowed her own cry as his shoulders dropped. "Your father is right," she said, softly. "She needs you right now."
He sniffled, wiping his nose with the sleeve of his shirt. "I don't even know what to say to her, Mum."
Draco hadn't called her 'mum' since he was five, and that was when her own dam of tears broke. "You'll be brave," she said, standing up straighter as she encouraged Draco to do the same. "There isn't anything to say except that you love her. Because you do."
He nodded, sniffling once more. She saw him look over her shoulder, so she turned around, seeing a red-eyed Harry standing a few feet away, scratching his lower lip with his thumb. "She's asking for you," Harry said, his own voice hoarse.
As if those were the magic words, Narcissa watched her son's face snap back into focus. He dried his eyes for a final time and cleared his throat while yanking at the knot in his tie. "Thanks, Harry."
She gave her son a final hug, which he returned this time as normally as he would any other hug. "We will be waiting if you need us."
It would be nearly eight hours later before their grandson was born.
Hermione woke up around eight-thirty at the sounds of Draco's voice speaking softly to their daughter. She cracked an eye open and watched as he cradled her carefully in the crook of his arm as her tiny hand grasped his index finger, alertly listening to the sound of her father's voice. Smiling at the sight before her, she closed her eyes again and listened to her husband.
"We will have all sorts of adventures," Draco whispered to his daughter. "Of course, I'll be the one that teaches you how to fly. Your mummy is absolute rubbish at it. But don't worry - it's the only thing she isn't good at."
She laughed silently to herself. Draco was going to be an amazing father. She never had a doubt about it. He certainly deserved a medal after surviving these past sixteen months, from the death of their son to the birth of their daughter. Hermione did not intend to get pregnant for quite some time, despite Draco's desire to try again. It wasn't that she didn't want children, she just wasn't ready emotionally. Every day after her son's birth, she visited the cemetery, talking to him while asking her parents to watch after him. She wasn't overly religious, but Hermione believed in heaven and knew that he was there, playing with his grandparents. It comforted her to think that her parents were watching over him in a way, instead of him being there alone.
The six months following the loss of their child were six months she wished she could erase from their memories. If she wasn't crying she was sulking, or shouting. No one was safe from her breakdowns, her wrath, and Draco bore the brunt of it. But he didn't flinch. He never stopped saying he loved her, and he never stopped taking care of her. She became obsessed with going to the gym, heading there twice a day every day in order to get her body back in shape so that there wasn't any physical reminder of her stillborn son. Hermione started taking her contraception potion three months later when she felt ready to be intimate with Draco again. It took them awhile to find their rhythm. Hermione blamed it mostly on herself. She blamed most things on herself, despite Draco telling her to stop.
On the sixth month anniversary, Hermione couldn't take it anymore. Draco offered to do anything with her - anything that would take her mind off the day. This led to a fight, their first blow up since that fateful day at the hospital. The fight was her fault - and she would readily acknowledge that to anyone. Her husband was just trying to make her feel better and all she could do was yell and scream before disapparating from their house.
She landed in Blaise's living room, startling him as he all but leapt off the couch.
"Bloody hell, Granger - give a guy some warning will you!" he exclaimed.
Hermione rolled her eyes and walked over to his liquor cabinet, grabbing an unopened bottle of fire whiskey and two shot glasses. She placed the glasses on the coffee table as she sat down on the floor on front of it, snapping the cap off the bottle and filling the two shot glasses.
Blaise didn't have to ask what her problem was. He and Draco talked about this day earlier in the week, and how she'd been on edge since the beginning of the week in anticipation of the emotional anniversary. "You know - respectable people don't start drinking until the afternoon at the very least."
She pushed the glass in front of him, her red crying eyes not unnoticed by Blaise. "If I was looking for respectable company, do you really think I would have found myself here?"
He laughed, picking up the shot glass. "Fair enough. Cheers, Granger."
She threw back the shot and swallowed, letting out a ghastly hiss as Blaise laughed, grabbing the bottle from her hand to refill the shots. "That tasted awful!" she exclaimed.
"What did you expect?" Blaise asked. "Pumpkin juice?" He handed her the refilled shot back and threw back the second, as did she. "It gets better the more you drink."
Hermione made a bitter face as she forced herself to swallow the amber liquid once again. "How much more?"
An hour or so later, Hermione somewhere between tipsy and drunk laid flat on her back, sprawled out on the oriental rug. Blaise stared at the girl, shaking his head at the sad sight before him. He figured about four shots in that Draco would kill him if he returned her completely passed out, so he diluted the alcohol from the bottle with his wand while she wasn't looking. "You know, Granger, drunk is not becoming on you."
She sat up a bit, propped upright by her elbows. "You're one to talk. Ever since Luna left, Draco says that alcohol seeps from your pores."
"He exaggerates," Blaise replied. "She's only gone for like, what, three more weeks?"
"I don't know," Hermione replied, her head bobbing slightly. "She's not my girlfriend. Therefore I don't keep track of her." She grabbed for her empty shot glass and handed it to Blaise, who confiscated it, and the bottle of fire whiskey. "Hey! I'm not done with that!"
Blaise laughed. "You really are."
She managed to pull herself up to her feet, throwing her hands to her hips as she glared at him with her glossy eyes. "You don't get to tell me when I'm done, Blaise Zabini!"
"It's for your own good," Blaise replied. "Trust me."
She threw her hands up in the air. "I am so…sick. Sick and tired of everyone telling me what's for my own good when none of you have…any idea what I am going through!"
Blaise shoved his hands into his pockets. "You know what, Hermione, you're right. No one experienced what you experienced. No one can tell you what to feel, or how to feel. They weren't the ones who had to birth a baby that was never going to get to see all the amazing things life had in store for him. They weren't in the hospital bed, they weren't laboring for eight miserable hours. It was you. It was all you."
Hermione's voice found itself stuck in her throat as she tried to speak. Instead, tears welled up in her eyes, and she couldn't tell if it was because she was drunk or because Blaise's words were puncturing the very core of her being as he continued.
"No one went through what you went through," he repeated. "But if memory serves me right, I believe you had a husband who was right there with you. He might not have been the one pushing the baby out - but he was right fucking there every step of the way! He lost a kid too that day, damn it!"
"Everyone's walking around not sure what to say to you because they think they're going to break you, but I'm not going to do that," Blaise said, his voice calming down a bit. "You have a husband who has been hurting just as much as you have, not that he's been acknowledged in this situation. He's been too busy taking care of you." He walked over to his liquor cabinet and pulled out a secret stash of sobering potions. Walking to Hermione, he popped the cork off and handed her the vial. "What happened to your son was a fluke. It wasn't dark magic. It was just shit luck. Nothing more."
She drank the potion, shaking her head as she swallowed. "Thanks," she mumbled.
He pulled her into a hug before she could protest, waiting for her to relax in his embrace. "He loves you. Stop pushing him away," he whispered in her ear. Letting her go, he gave her a final nod of approval. "Go. Find your husband. Don't let this one bad moment ruin the rest of your lives."
Hermione gave Blaise a quick peck on the cheek before disapparating from his living room back to the place where she left Draco. Oddly enough, he was still there, only he was now asleep on the chaise in his office, an open book draped across his chest. He looked peaceful as he slept, but she could tell by his shallow breathing that he wasn't in that deep of a slumber. His blond locks felt slightly in his eyes, as he was once again in desperate need of a haircut. She walked over to him, lightly brushing his bangs from his forehead when his eyes fluttered open.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "For everything."
Draco sat up a bit, removing the book from his chest as he focused his eyes on her. "Where did you go?"
She looked down at the ground. "Blaise's. I got drunk, he yelled at me, then sobered me up."
"He yelled at you?" Draco asked, becoming alarmed. "Goddamnit -"
Hermione shook her head. "I deserved it." She sat down on the chaise next to him and sighed. "You would think of all the other horrific things I've had to handle in my life, I would be better at coping with a loss but I'm not. I've taken so much out on you and never once gave thought to the fact that you're grieving too." He opened his arms up to her and Hermione crawled into his embrace, hugging him tightly for the first time in what felt like forever. After what felt like an eternity, Hermione looked up at him, brushing a hand against his cheek. "Forgive me?" she asked. "Please?"
"I forgive you," he replied, his lips meeting hers.
It was slow and soft, a kiss filled with unspoken apologies and unwavering devotion. It was the same sort of languid kiss they fell into after their fights in the past, before they lost their baby and their biggest problems stemmed from the inability to throw clothes in a hamper, or drinking the last of the juice yet replacing the empty container in the fridge. Pulling away from him, Hermione climbed off her husband and grabbed his hands. "Come on," she whispered, with a look in her eyes Draco hadn't seen in ages.
"Hermione, I -"
"I can't promise that I'm fixed," she whispered. "Or that I'll stop being emotional, or crazy."
Draco laughed lightly. "Was that something you were trying to stop previously?"
"Funny," she said, giggling a little as she pulled him out of the office and down the stairs to the second floor, stopping in front of their bedroom. Before they entered, she looked up at him, her arms wrapping around his neck. "Make love to me," she whispered. "Like we used to, before everything went all pear shaped and broken. Let's go back…let's go back to not practicing."
She didn't have to say another word. Draco swept her up into his arms and she wrapped her legs around his waist as he barged into their bedroom, kicking the door shut before carrying her to the bed. They both stripped each other of their clothing in a feral manner, not caring what was ripped just as long as it was discarded. Hermione couldn't remember the last time she felt so aroused as the touch of her husband, whose fingers, were caressing her naked sides as she made short work of removing his pants and boxers.
"Wait – did you say you were drinking with Blaise?"
Hermione tugged at his belt before unbuttoning his pants. "Yes – but that's really not important at the moment, don't you agree?"
He unclasped the back of her bra with one hand and peeled it away. "Right."
Naked with desire, Draco ran his hands up and down his wife's body, lavishing each breast with attention as she grasped at the hair on his head with her hands. Her fingers massaging his scalp, she could feel herself wet with anticipation between her folds. His kisses trailed farther south until his tongue dipped between her folds as she moaned loudly. "Please!" she exclaimed, his tongue flickering against her sensitive center. "Please!"
He didn't think it would take long for her to cum. Their spells between sexual encounters were now weeks at a time instead of what used to be days. Draco was perfectly content nowadays when she allowed him to hold her as she slept. His tongue still teasing her, he slipped two fingers inside of her and felt her buck her hips, thrusting herself onto them as she cried. Draco's own erection was hard, waiting desperately for her to cum so that he could slide into her.
"Draco I'm cuming!" she panted, and he rubbed her center a bit harder before he felt her release, soaking his fingers. He rubbed her juices on his fingers onto his erection, watching as she caught her breath.
He moved a bit so that he was right at her entrance, ready to move. "You sure about this?" he asked. "Not practicing?"
She nodded, a tear escaping her eye. "I need this," Hermione whispered. "I need you."
He pressed his lips to hers as he slowly slid into her. Tight around him, he continued to snog her senseless as he moved in and out of her, their lovemaking slow and deliberate as their hands ran up and down each other's bodies. They whispered affirmations of their love and apologies to one another as they moved together, finding their rhythm they'd been searching for these past three months. Every thrust Hermione felt to the tips of her toes, every gasp of hers pushing Draco closer to the edge.
"I want to turn around," she whispered in his ear, her teeth grazing against his earlobe. "Make me cum again, Draco."
Draco stopped and pulled out of her quickly, watching as she rolled over onto her stomach before propping herself up on her hands and knees. He slid into her again, moaning at the change in angle as he grabbed ahold of her hips. It only took a few thrusts for Hermione to feel the pressure building once again in the pit of her stomach. "Let me know when you're close," he grunted out. "I'm not sure how much longer…"
"I'm almost there," she gasped. "Move faster."
He obeyed her command as she picked up her own rhythm, moaning with each thrust. He increased his speed even more, panting hard as he felt his release building. As she shouted his name at the top of her lungs, releasing once more, he felt himself cum, his erection jerking hard against her movements as he rode out his orgasm, slowing his pace just a bit until it was over. Pulling out of her, he crawled off the bed and scooped her up into his arms, carrying her into the shower, and a half hour later they were back in bed, a tangled heap of arms and legs, as they slowly found their way back to each other.
Hermione opened her eyes again and saw Draco sitting up on the bed, holding the baby in front of him as if he were admiring a trophy of sorts, despite the fussy face she was making. The clock on the wall ticked closer to nine o'clock. Yawning, she caught Draco's attention as he looked at her.
"I think she's getting hungry," Draco said.
She sat up in the bed a bit, wincing just a little as she unsnapped the top of her hospital gown so she could feed her daughter. With a breast exposed, Hermione leaned over and carefully took her from Draco's arms and positioned her just like the nurses showed her and like a pro, her baby latched on and began to feed. "Ginny wasn't kidding when she said breastfeeding was painful," she said with a tired laugh. "Apparently someone was hungry, wasn't she?"
Draco watched, resting a chin on Hermione's shoulder as his daughter looked perfectly content with life. "I'm a little concerned that she doesn't have any hair," he confessed unexpectedly.
Hermione chuckled a little bit, taking a hand and carefully removing her pink hat. She had hair, there just wasn't much of it, and what was there was as blond as her father's was. "She'll grow hair, sweetheart, I promise."
"She needs a name," Draco sighed.
Hermione agreed, brushing a hand over her daughter's perfectly round head. "Any suggestions?"
"I like the name Harper," he said.
"Harper?" she repeated.
"Do you not like it?"
"I didn't say that," Hermione replied. "I just didn't expect such a…I don't know, muggle sounding name."
Draco chuckled a bit, his gaze never leaving his daughter. "Remember when I proposed to you that day at Hogwarts?"
She nodded. "Not exactly a forgettable day."
"There was a muggle witch there who was practically bursting at the seams for your autograph. Her name was Harper and I don't know…the name kind of just stuck with me."
Hermione remembered the little witch, with all of her confidence as she watched her autograph the book, and how Draco told her that she reminded him of someone he once knew with a knowing smile on his face. "Harper," she repeated, staring at the little girl. "Harper Grace."
"That was my name," she whispered. "The name I had picked out if the baby was a girl."
Draco kissed her shoulder. "Harper Grace Malfoy it is." He dug his cell phone out of his pocket and watched as Hermione switched his daughter from one breast to the other, as if she'd done it a thousand times before. She really was good at everything – except flying a broom, of course. "We should probably call everyone before they start crawling up the wall, I reckon."
Hermione laughed. "Are you ready to meet everyone, Harper? Because there are a handful of people just itching to meet you."
Hermione managed to get in a quick shower and changed into the nightdress she packed in her overnight bag with Draco's help before their friends and family arrived, while Harper napped like a good little baby in her hospital bassinet. At ten o'clock on the dot, the two of them were back in bed admiring their daughter as she slept in Draco's arms when they heard a knock on the door.
"Can we come in?" Narcissa asked, her head peeking through the door.
Hermione nodded, waving her in as she led the visiting train of Lucius, Harry, Ginny, James, Albus, Molly, and Arthur inside the room. Ginny picked up Albus and Harry picked up James so they could see as Draco carefully climbed off the bed and handed his daughter to his mother. "Everyone, meet Harper Grace Malfoy," Draco said.
Narcissa couldn't help but coo as she held the little bundle in her arms, admiring how gorgeous her little face was as it peeked out from the blanket she was tightly swaddled in. "Oh my Merlin, Hermione, she's beautiful!"
Beaming, Hermione grabbed ahold of Draco's hand as he sat back down next to her on the bed. "She is stunning, isn't she?"
Molly walked over to Hermione's side of the bed and placed a kiss on her forehead. "How are you feeling?" she asked.
"I'm feeling ok," Hermione replied. "Just a little sore."
"I've made a ton of food that's waiting for you at the house so you don't have to worry about cooking," Molly said, fussing over Hermione as she fluffed her pillows a bit. "Ron and Pansy send their love - they're still on holiday in Scotland. George says he and Angelina will come by once you're all home and settled."
Arthur moved over towards Hermione, pushing past his wife as he kissed Hermione's cheek. "She's beautiful - just like her mother."
"I'm afraid she doesn't look much like me," Hermione admitted. "Harper appears to favor her father in the looks department."
"She looks like her grandmother," Lucius replied, plucking the child out of Narcissa's arm to take a closer look at his new granddaughter. Hermione had never seen Lucius look at anyone the way he was looking at her daughter. "See, darling," he said to his wife. "She has your nose and your lips."
Narcissa beamed with pride. "Just like Draco did when he was a baby." She looked over at her son and tapped a hand over her heart, Draco acknowledging her unspoken sentiment with a nod and a smile.
"Baby!" Albus exclaimed, pointing towards Lucius and Harper.
"Shhh," Ginny said sweetly. "The baby is sleeping. We have to be really quiet."
Albus pushed a finger to his lips and emulated his mother. "Shh! Shh! Baby!" he excitedly whispered.
"I want to hold her, Daddy," James said, patting on Harry's shoulder. "Can I hold her?"
Harry nodded, setting him down on the end of Hermione's bed. "You can have your turn in a minute, buddy."
James scowled at the idea of waiting. Patience was a virtue he was having an issue as of late, much to Harry and Ginny's overall chagrin. Hermione and Draco watched as their daughter was fawned over by everyone in the room, each of them admiring her for a few minutes before passing her along to the next person. Ginny sat down in a chair, helping James hold the baby once it was her turn, gently reminded him to support her head as she stirred a little bit in her sleep. Harry stood next to Hermione, watching as his son sat in awe of the little girl.
"Hi, Harper…I'm James. We're going to be good friends." James whispered. He looked over at his father and grinned. "She's so pretty,"
"She is," Harry agreed. He turned back to face his best friend, his sister, and hugged her tight. "You did great," he whispered in Hermione's ear, pressing a kiss to her temple. "Your parents would be so proud."
She nodded in agreement. "They would have adored her."
Harper started to cry, and James's eyes went wide with terror. "Uh…someone should take her, I don't think she likes me anymore," he said nervously, as her whimpers grew to wails.
Harry laughed, walking over and scooping the squalling infant out of his son's arms. As soon as he rocked her gently, her wails died down. "She's just used to feeling movement," Harry whispered. "You were the same way when you were born."
James looked at his dad. "I was?"
He nodded. "You always wanted to be moving, and weren't content unless someone was rocking you." Harry grazed a hand over her bald head and pressed a light kiss to her forehead. "Either that or she just really wanted her Uncle Harry to hold her." Harry looked over at Draco, a hand still grazing Harper's head. "She doesn't have any hair."
"That's what I said!" Draco replied.
"She'll grow hair," Hermione said with exasperation.
"Not all children come out with hair," Ginny added.
Harry smirked. "Mine did."
"Well, well, tack on another point for the Chosen One," Draco mocked. He was resisting the urge to snatch his daughter back, as he was done sharing Harper. However, he knew his wife would smack him for such an impolite action so instead; he wrapped an arm around Hermione and kissed the top of her head as she relaxed into his one armed embrace.
He could hardly hold back his sobs the last time they were all gathered in a hospital room as his parents carefully held their son as he and Hermione sat just as they were in this moment. At one point, he wanted to leave, so that Hermione couldn't see him break down, but her hands clutched at the fabric of his shirt so tight that leaving wasn't an option.
Draco looked at Harry, his eyes pleading to the point of embarrassment for him to help. With tears in his own eyes, Harry walked over to Draco's side of the bed, carefully pulling her hands from his shirt and switching places with him as Draco climbed off the bed. He felt the room closing in on him, and it was making it hard for him to breathe. Blaise was off in the corner with a nurse, taking instructions on paperwork and other things that would need to be relayed to the grieving couple once they collected themselves a bit.
He heard Ginny call out to him as he dashed down the hallway, but he couldn't stop walking. She finally caught up to him, snagging his arm as she dragged him into an empty waiting room, shutting the door behind them. Casting a silencing charm around the room, she looked at her heartbroken friend.
"Get it out of your system," Ginny said quietly. "No one will hear you."
Draco sank to his knees and sobbed loudly, his face in his hands. "I don't even – I don't know – what I am supposed to say to her?" he asked, his words stammering through his sobs.
Ginny locked the door with her wand and knelt down in front of Draco. She braced her hands against his shoulders as he continued to sob. "There is nothing to say," Ginny said, her own voice thick with emotion. "There's nothing that can be done. You just have to be there for each other."
He wiped his nose on his sleeve, his body heaving as he breathed. "This wasn't supposed – to be another thing – she had to survive. This wasn't supposed to be like this! This isn't fair! Why her! She's never done anything wrong! Anything bad! But bad things happen to her! Life can punish me for my mistakes – but it shouldn't affect her!"
"This isn't your fault!" Ginny exclaimed. "This is no one's fault – the doctor and healer said so themselves! The cord…it was just tangled. There was nothing anyone could do!"
He wiped his mouth on his sleeve, catching tears from the sides of his cheek. "I have to go back in there. I have to be there for her. But I don't know how because I feel like I'm going to explode."
She wrapped her arms around Draco and he hugged her back just as fierce, crying into her shoulder as Ginny did her best to soothe him. This was how they sat for a few minutes, not saying anything as there was nothing to say. Finally, Draco sniffled for the final time and stood up, helping Ginny to her feet as he held her hands.
"Don't worry about it," she said, squeezing his hands.
Ginny stole the baby from her husband and walked with her over towards Draco, lightly rocking as she moved. "You know, I've seen pictures of your mother in old yearbooks at Hogwarts. If Harper is half as beautiful as your mother was – you're in for a world of trouble when the boys come around, Mister Malfoy."
Draco snarled his lip at bit at the thought. "Don't scare him," Hermione said with a laugh.
"I'm just saying, she's going to be quite the beauty. I can sense it. And the boys will come a' knockin…"
"Merlin help you if she meets a boy like you," Harry teased, egging his wife on as everyone chuckled – everyone but Draco, who took his daughter from Ginny and nestled her back against his chest.
He kissed the top of her head and took her pink hat that Hermione had been holding, placing it back on her hairless head. "Don't listen to them," he whispered. "Because boys are yucky and gross."
"Hey!" James exclaimed, offended as a six year old could be. "I'm not gross."
"You and your brother can be the exception to the rule," Draco said. "But you'll help me keep all the other gross boys away from her, won't you James?"
Nodding, James pushed his glasses back up to the bridge of his nose. "Definitely." Just then, the door opened, and Blaise walked in, carrying a large bouquet of balloons and a giant stuffed bear. "Should we start with Blaise?"
"What?" Blaise asked as the adults laughed at James' joke. "I'm sorry I'm late – I had to pick up some things and Luna left again this morning to search for Merlin only knows what with her dad."
Hermione laughed as he made his way through the adults, dropping the giant stuffed bear on the end of the bed. Molly took the balloons from him, shaking her head as she tied them to a chair in the far corner of the room. Blaise unbuttoned his jacket and looked at the baby in awe. Albus was a little bit older when he met him, and this was the first newborn baby he'd ever seen up close. He was mesmerized by her eyes, staring right back at him as she sucked on her pacifier.
"Well…look at that," Blaise finally said. "What's her name?"
"Harper Grace Malfoy," Hermione said, soft but proud.
Blaise grinned as he gently touched her cheek with his finger. "Do you want to hold her?" Draco asked.
He shook his head no, still staring at Harper. "I will break her."
"You won't break her," Draco reassured him.
"Yeah…no. I'm perfectly fine where I am right here. Maybe later…when I'm standing on softer ground or something. Just in case, because she looks pretty breakable."
Hermione laughed. "Sounds like a plan."
"Chicken," Harry remarked.
"Ass," Blaise snarked back, a smirk on his face.
"Galleon!" James exclaimed.
Blaise rolled his eyes. "Stick it on my tab, James."
"You're up to twenty, now," James replied. "Just in case you wanted to know."
Everyone stayed in the room, visiting a bit longer until they were all shooed away by the nurse, who was insistent that the baby and the mother get some much-needed rest. Hermione asked Molly and Narcissa if they would come to the house in the morning when they were discharged to help get them all settled. Narcissa of course didn't plan to be anywhere else, but Molly teared up at the request. Molly loved Hermione as if she was one of her own, and she knew that Hermione wanted her and Arthur to be surrogate grandparents to their children, which they accepted as a favor to Hermione's parents.
Much to Draco's chagrin, the nurse insisted on taking the baby back to the nursery for another bath, due to the amount of people in the room and the germs that were more than likely floating about. "Catch a nap with your wife," she insisted. "And enjoy it. We'll bring her back when she gets hungry, I promise."
"It's ok, Draco," Hermione said, stifling a yawn. "I could use a nap…and maybe some more pain medicine."
"We will send Dr. Whitlock's trainee back in for your medicine," the nurse replied. Hermione knew she was referring to her Healer, which the nurses were told was a doctor in training so that there wasn't any more explained than necessary.
Healer Morgan came in, giving Hermione another pain potion and another bout of congratulations before leaving Draco and Hermione with just each other. Draco adjusted her blankets and pulled them up over her shoulder as she curled up against his chest. He rubbed her blanket-clad arm as she yawned again. They relished in the silence of the room and how the air didn't feel like it was carrying the weight of the world that had once crashed around them. Sighing, Hermione looked up at Draco as he laid back against the raised bed, resting his eyes. "Is it possible to be happy and sad at the same time?" she asked.
He didn't open his eyes, but he tightened his hold and sighed. "Yes," was his soft, simple answer. "Our daughter is healthy, beautiful, and already loved by more people than I think I ever was at that age. But I still feel sadness, for our son. I think we always will to an extent. He was our first child, Hermione. Nothing will change that."
"I know," she replied, holding her husband as she yawned. "Draco?"
"I love you," she whispered. "I never would have gotten through any of this without you."
He kissed the top of her head. "That make two of us," he replied. "I love you."
Both of them drifted off to sleep as another chapter of their life ended while another one began.