"Come on, Hermione. Push," Harry urged.
She was nearly in tears. "I can't push anymore. I'm too tired."
"You have to push, dear. It's nearly over," prompted Pomfrey.
"That's what you said an hour ago. Can't you spell the baby out?" She just wanted this to be over. They wouldn't tell her how long she had been in labor, but she thought it had to be close to a full day.
"I can see the baby's head. Just a few more pushes."
"Push, Hermione!" Harry urged.
She tried pushing, but was just too tried. "I can't. I can't do it." For the first time in her life, she was going to fail, and she found she couldn't hold back the tears anymore.
Harry leaned down and brushed her cheek. "Yes, you can. You've never given up on anything before. This is the most important thing you've ever done. You aren't going to give up now, are you?"
Fighting back the tears, she replied, "No."
"That's my girl," said Harry as she pushed with the contraction. "Come on. Nearly there. Just a little bit longer."
The pressure was unbearable. She fell back against the bed, needing to rest. "He's too big. I can't do it."
"No, he's not. One more big push, and I'll have the baby's head. Come on, Hermione. Once more. The head's the hard part," urged Pomfrey.
"I can't," she cried.
Pomfrey rubbed her leg. "You have to; for the baby. He's ready to be born. He has to come out now. He can't wait any longer, or he might be in danger."
This was all the motivation she needed. She didn't want to hurt her baby. After taking a few deep breaths, she felt another contraction. Grabbing her legs, she bore down and pushed. Grunting, she could feel the baby moving. She was going to do it. Any second now her child would emerge into the world.
"Good, good. Okay. I've got the head. One more big push," Pomfrey said.
Harry had a huge grin on his face. "Nearly there," he said proudly.
As Pomfrey pulled the baby free, Hermione felt relief. She had done it. Her grin matched Harry's. Finally, she heard the sound she had been waiting for: her baby's wailing. "Oh, Harry." She now found that she couldn't control her tears anymore.
He leaned down and kissed her. "How's the baby?" he asked.
"Perfect." Pomfrey set the swaddled child in Hermione's arms. "He's a perfect baby boy."
"I told you it was a son," Harry said.
"He was so much trouble that I figured you were right." Pulling back the blanket, she saw strands of black hair that already promised to be unruly. "And it looks like he takes after you."
Harry sat on the edge of the bed and wrapped his arms around Hermione. "I'm proud of you." After kissing her on the top of her head, he added, "I love you."
"I love you, too, Harry."
After a few moments, he pulled away. "Ron's going to wonder where I am. I guess I should go tell him. Can you live without me a little while?"
"Hurry back?" She wasn't sure that she was up to dealing with the baby by herself.
"As soon as I can. After all, our son needs a name." He gave her one last kiss before leaving.
Harry was still in a daze when he entered the common room. He was a father, and his son was magnificent.
"Hey, where've you been? It's been hours," asked Ron. "I went by the hospital wing, but no one was there."
Harry grabbed his arm, realizing that he had never had it looked at. "Er…" He couldn't think of what to say.
"I guess you couldn't find Madam Pomfrey, either, huh?"
"Er, is Ginny around?" He realized this was a stupid question since the common room was deserted except for the two of them.
"She went up to bed. You know, it's really late."
"Yeah, I know." He paced a few moments. He needed to speak to both of them together, but he knew that he could not go up to the girls' dormitory. "Dobby."
"What?" Ron asked, utterly confused.
"Dobby!" Harry called.
There was a pop and the elf asked, "Harry Potter has called Dobby?"
"Can you go up to the girls' dorm and get Ginny?"
"Yes, sir. Dobby can do that," the elf said cheerfully and disappeared.
A few moments later, Ginny was yawning and stretching as she came downstairs. "Wha's goin' on?"
"Thanks for coming down," Harry said. "I have something very important to tell the two of you. Something that's going to be very hard to hear."
"What is it?" asked Ginny cautiously as she flopped into the chair.
He took a deep breath, trying to decide how best to continue. "I know where Hermione is. She's in a private room."
"Can we go see her?" asked Ginny.
"In a little while. If you still want to."
"Why wouldn't we want to? I mean, she's been moody to me, but she's still my friend," said Ron.
Harry frowned. They had no idea what he was about to say. "The two of us have been keeping something from you, something pretty big." He looked into their eyes and could tell they were waiting for him to elaborate. A part of him wanted to get up and pace, but he knew that would just be a stalling tactic. "Last summer, we did something stupid."
"And? You do stupid things all the time," Ron said.
He ran his fingers through his hair. "Not like this." He decided the time for stalling was over. "I got her pregnant."
They started at him in silence for a few seconds until Ron started laughing. "Oh, that's rich. That's a real funny joke. What did you really do?"
This was not the response he had expected. He thought Ginny looked as though she desperately wanted to believe that it was a joke, too. "Seriously. I got Hermione pregnant. She just gave birth to our son."
Ron said sarcastically, "I would think we would have noticed if she was pregnant. I mean, we spend a lot of time around her, and that's not something you can hide."
"Yes, it is. She's been using a Veiling Charm since Christmas. I tried to get her to go into hiding, but she refused. Earlier this week, it finally became too much for her, and Madam Pomfrey has kept her in a private room where she could be monitored. We only told you that she was suffering from Dragon Pox to keep you away."
Ron wasn't laughing anymore. Ginny looked at Harry in horrified shock before running upstairs, breaking out into tears.
Ron clenched his jaw in anger. "You bastard. You really did it? You know how I feel about her."
"Ron, I know. I don't know how it happened. We were running from Death Eaters, hiding in a cave and then… Well, you know."
"I ought to punch you," Ron growled.
"Ron," Harry started.
"Don't 'Ron' me. You've been playing at being my best friend, using me. I can't believe neither one of you had the guts to tell me. And what about Ginny? I should definitely punch you for what you've done to her."
This was more the reaction he had expected. A part of him wanted Ron to just punch him and get it out of his system. "I didn't do anything to her. I told her last year that it wasn't the right time for me to have a relationship. I told her not to wait for me."
"Oh, yeah. My sister's not good enough for you. But within weeks of telling her you don't want a relationship, you go fuck my girlfriend. Real manly. And I guess that's why you didn't see fit to tell me, huh?"
"We didn't tell anyone. If anyone knew that she was having my baby, she would have been a target. I don't know if she would have been safe even here. We couldn't risk that news getting out."
"Because Ron has a big mouth and can't keep a secret. Can't trust Ron with anything important," he said in a sing-song voice. "Thanks a lot, mate." Ron got up, gave Harry a dirty look, and headed for the dormitory.
"Hermione does want to see the two of you. If you change your mind, ask Madam Pomfrey and she'll show you where she is," he called to Ron's retreating back. He had known that this would go poorly and he was impressed that Ron had not hit him. If he were in Ron's place, he would have punched himself. Hopefully they would visit Hermione once they got over the shock.
Hermione looked up when the door opened. She saw the sullen expression on Harry's face. "It didn't go well, did it?"
He sat next to her on the bed, which had returned to its original size. "No. Ginny ran upstairs crying without saying anything. Ron yelled at me a bit before leaving. I told them that you do want to see them, but I don't know if or when they'll come."
She sighed. "I suppose that was to be expected, wasn't it? I'll write them letters later." She was silent a few minutes as she pondered her next question. She had been thinking about it for some time. He had mentioned fixing up his parents' house when this was over, but they had never formally discussed anything. "When are we going to get married?" she asked softly.
This question caught him completely off guard, and he opened and closed his mouth several times before speaking. "I guess it should be sooner rather than later, shouldn't it? I, er, hadn't thought that much about it, I guess. I'm sorry," he replied nervously.
She gently touched his arm. "No, that's all right. I know that defeating Voldemort is important, and that you are very close to destroying all the Horcruxes. I thought that perhaps we could have a small civil ceremony, elope, I guess you'd call it. That way if anything…" Biting her lip in an attempt to stop the tears, she tried to think of anything else. But there had been so many casualties in the war, and Harry had taken on a more dangerous job than anyone else, that it was hard for her not to fear that something might happen to him.
He held her more tightly, trying to comfort her. "That sounds like an excellent idea. I'll talk to Professor McGonagall about it. How's he doing?" he asked to change the subject.
She shifted him against her breast. "I'm trying to get him to eat, but he's being fussy. I think he takes after you." She smiled as she looked up at him. "He needs a name, you know."
He reached over and brushed his son's wisps of hair. "How about James Patrick after our fathers?"
"That's exactly what I was thinking." She leaned against him as he held her in a comforting embrace.
"Welcome to the world, James Patrick Potter. May you have a life of peace."
A/N: Thank you all for reading. I hope you have enjoyed this story. If you have, I encourage you to check out some of my older stories. I have 30 other stories posted here with various pairings or just single character stories. My personal favorites are 'Redemption' (a Lucius/Hermione novel length fic), The Glory Trilogy (Draco/Hermione, Lucius/Hermione, Draco/other woman trilogy that begins with 'To Regain Glory') and the 'Wounded'/'Beholden to No Man' duology which follows Severus after the war (and was written pre-Deathly Hallows). Though I do enjoy everything I've written and many of the one-shot pieces I've written are quite powerful.
I do hope to post new fic very soon. I have several pieces that need to be edited for content before being posted here and I'm working on new stories as well.