"This is it," Pansy said with a smile. "Today's the day you and Draco finally get to meet your little girl."
Hermione took a deep breath and exhaled through her nose. "Don't say anything to jinx it," she warned her friend. "It's worst case scenario until she's in my arms."
Draco grimaced as his wife squeezed his hand as another contraction passed. "Just focus on this," he advised her. "Don't think about anything else. We trust Pansy. Just keep reminding yourself of that."
Pansy scowled. "I can't tell if that was an insult or a compliment," she said. "Look, Hermione, I promise I will do everything I can to make sure you get to hold your baby. Sell my soul, if I have to. You deserve this so much."
"Okay, good. Great," Hermione replied as another contraction hit. "Just tell me I can start pushing and this will all be over soon. It hurts and I need the hurting to stop."
Wand in hand, the Healer assessed her friend. "Looks like she's ready to meet you," Pansy announced. "Draco, do you want to stay in here?"
Glancing at his wife for permission, Hermione held his hand tighter. "Yeah, I'm staying," he replied.
Pansy nodded. "Okay then. Hermione, get ready to push," she instructed.
Closing her eyes, she pushed and tried to think of anything but the pain. She thought of her wedding. With her diligent input, Narcissa had planned a beautiful, small ceremony in the Manor gardens. Ginny and Pansy had served as bridesmaids, while Harry and Blaise Zabini stood beside Draco. She recalled the smile Lucius wore as he walked her down the flower-lined aisle and the threat he issued to Draco should he ever hurt her. Their vows were still fresh in her memory - the promise to love each other, to remain faithful until death did they part.
The next time she was told to push, she thought back to their honeymoon in Fiji. It had been two weeks of pristine beaches, warm weather, a beautiful hotel, and her husband. The concept of sun block was new and lost on Draco, and therefore, he refused to use it. After three days in the sun that resulted in three different sunburns, Hermione decided she would no longer heal them. It was only then that he gave the cream a try.
"Okay, Hermione, just one more big push," Pansy said. "Her head's out and she's beautiful."
Hermione complied, pushing as hard as she could until the need to breathe overwhelmed her. "Oh my goodness," she heard Draco say, awe rich in his voice. "She's here. She's actually here."
Despite exhaustion, Hermione forced herself to sit up. "Where is she?" she asked in a panic. "I don't hear her. Is she alright?"
Draco stroked her sweat dampened hair. "She's fine," he assured her. "Pansy's just getting her cleaned up. Even covered in muck, our daughter is perfect."
"You're biased," Pansy said as she laid the baby in her mother's arms, "but yes, she is. Do you want me to let anyone know she's here? Are your parents here, Draco?"
Draco shook his head. It had been just after midnight when Hermione had shaken him awake to tell him that her water broke. He had alerted Pansy to meet them at the hospital. Hermione began to strip the bed, calm as ever, while Draco stumbled about like a chicken without his head, trying to gather anything and everything they might need.
"I didn't have time to call them," he replied.
Pansy nodded. "Get to know your daughter. I'll call them," she promised. "Can I get you two anything?"
Hermione stared at the newborn in her arms and shook her head. "We're good," she replied, her voice sounding dreamy.
Pansy left, closing the door behind her. Draco sat on the bed beside mother and child, watching as his daughter ate her first meal. "She has your nose," he said.
"And your hair color," Hermione added. "Hopefully she doesn't get her volume from me. Vocally or follically."
Draco grinned. "As long as she doesn't get my chin," he replied. "Merlin help her, poor thing, if she does."
Hermione sighed, unable to take her eyes off the baby. "Still like the name we picked?" she asked.
"I still think it's perfect," he replied, stroking his daughter's cheek. "Three years later, and I still think it's the perfect name."
Pansy waited near the lifts for the Malfoys and Potters. When Narcissa and Lucius arrived, there were tears in the witch's crystal blue eyes, and Pansy wasn't sure if they were tears of joy or sorrow. "Everything went very well," she assured them. "Come see for yourself."
She led them to Hermione's room and left to await Harry and Ginny's arrival. Narcissa gasped as she neared the bed and the new, smiling parents. "May I hold her?" she asked. Hermione seemed hesitant, but transferred the baby to her grandmother's welcoming arms. "She's precious! Oh, and look, Lucius, she has Draco's ears. Everything else is Hermione."
"Better watch out, Draco," Lucius commented as he assessed the baby. "You'll be chasing the boys away if she's as pretty as her mother. Might I suggest homeschooling?"
Draco chuckled. "If she's anything like her mother, she won't need me to chase them away. She'll just punch them in the nose," he replied.
Hermione blushed. "It's the first thing I plan to teach her," she added.
"You haven't mentioned her name," his father pointed out. "Have you decided on one?"
Narcissa rolled her eyes. "Do you honestly believe that Hermione would leave a detail that important to the last minute?" she asked.
"She has a name," Hermione told them. "We're just waiting for Harry and Pansy. I told you that we asked them to be her godparents?"
By the time Pansy returned with the Potters, the baby was in Lucius's arms. With the arrival of the young couple's friends, Lucius reluctantly handed his granddaughter back to Hermione. She grinned as she looked from Harry, Ginny, and Pansy to her in-laws before finally glancing at her husband. "Everyone," she said, "we'd like to introduce you to Faith Malfoy."