“Where do we put her?” Ron asked Hermione, worry lacing his voice as his eyes dart to the little girl reading on their couch, then back to his fiancé. Ron Weasley had minimal experience with kids as his youngest sibling was only a year younger than himself. While he loved his childhood, he did not want to sleep in the same room at this new child. He had enough nights shared with at least two other people in the same room for his liking. Hermione, and her bad habit of stealing the quilt every night, was more than enough sharing for him.
Hermione chewed on her bottom lip for a few seconds while staring mindlessly at his Chudley Cannons jumper. Suddenly her eyes brightened and focused on his eyes again. “An extension charm!” she quietly cried. “It’s perfect,” she continued, pacing, “we can remove all the towels from the linen closet, and extend it into a room.” She was already in the planning stages of the exact dimensions she would need to make the closet to make it livable.
“Wait,” Ron interrupted, “we’re putting her in a closet?” The resemblance to Harry’s stay at his aunt and uncle’s was beginning to arise, and it made Ron very uncomfortable. As much as he would love to have his flat back to just Hermione and himself, he wasn’t going to shove a kid into a closet.
Hermione let out a breath. It was her ‘you obviously don’t work at the same speed as me. Let me slow it down for you’ sigh, or at least that’s what Ron interpreted her exasperated breath and eye-roll combo. “It’s a closet right now, but when I’m done, it’ll be the same size as our room. It may look like she lives in a closet, but I promise it will be much comfier than Harry’s childhood room.” After she finished her explanation, she went back to mentally planning out Rosie’s room.
It was apparent to Ron that the discussion was over, and he found himself in an awkward spot. He could either continue to stand next to his future wife as she thought through the new bedroom quietly, or he could sit on the couch next to a little girl he only briefly met. He deliberated for a solid minute before he resolved to get to know the kid that would be living with him indefinitely.
When Ron plopped down on the couch, he was border-line sweating, nervous. Rosalinda briefly peered up at him over her book, but then went back to reading. How do I start a conversation with a six year old? What does she like? What do I like that a six year old girl would like? Ron put his head in his hands to think, and peered at his jumper. Looking at the seeker from the Cannons inspired Ron. He lifted his head, and asked Rosie, “So, do you like Quidditch?” Who doesn’t like Quidditch?
Rosalinda’s eyes lit up like the candles in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. She replied excitedly, “Yes! My favorite team is Harpies! Me and mummy used to watch their games all the time.”
“Did you know my sister plays for the Harpies?” Ron asked her with a smile.
“She does? Can I meet her?” she asked delighted, but a bit nervous.
Ron was thrilled to have something in common with Rosie. Quidditch was his passion, and he was glad he got the chance to share it with a kid. Not wanting to let a young fan down, Ron turned to Hermione who was still wearing a trench into the kitchen floor. “Honey, can you take Rosalinda to see Ginny tomorrow?” he asked.
“Sure,” Hermione replied thoughtlessly.
“I’m happy! What’s your favorite team, Won?” Rosie asked, mispronouncing his name in a fashion eerily similar to Lavender Brown.
Their conversation continued for the next hour as Hermione set up Rosie’s room. Both Ron and Rosie were happily chatting, and groaned simultaneously when Hermione called Rosie’s bedtime. After Rosie was tucked into her new room in the closet, decorated in Gryffindor red and surprisingly spacious, Hermione snuggled up on the loveseat with a huge book with Ron beside her reading a Quidditch magazine.
“I think I can really imagine having kids,” Hermione whispered, putting her book in her lap.
Ron froze up. Despite his good conversation with Rosie, kids were still a terrifying subject. He knew Rosie would go to her mum and Malfoy soon, and couldn’t imagine a kid actually staying, living with them. Before he could voice his hesitation on the matter, Hermione added, “Oh, Kingsley said it would be best to do an interview for the Prophet about Rosie before they start making up stories. Can you come with me?” She was looking at him with hope filled eyes, but his resolve to not get too deep in the drama with Malfoy’s kid stayed firm.
“Umm,” he began, “I have a lot of paperwork to do at work, and you know how slow I am with writing reports.” He knew it was a lame excuse, but it was all he could come up with.
“It’s probably best,” she replied with a small frown, “the more people that are shown connected to Rosie, the harder it will be to make sure she is safe.”
Hermione’s reasoning made Ron feel guilty. He was raised in a house where his mother primarily handled the children, and to him, this was Hermione’s job. He knew to never say this to Hermione; her feminist ideals would run him over like a pack of angry hippogriffs. Nonetheless, he still took the easy way out and didn’t feel too good about it. He knew Rosie wasn’t his kid, and he shouldn’t feel bad about skipping out on a mother’s duty, but he did. With his thoughts swirling around in his mind like an indistinguishable mass of confusion, he kissed Hermione’s forehead and went to bed early. Maybe a goodnights sleep will make everything better.
Hermione sat on the couch looking at the same paragraph in her book for the next hour. She wanted to read the text, it might solve the mystery of the disappearing Rosier family, but all she could do was think. Overanalyze really. I know that Ron was just making an excuse. Why didn’t he want to come? I highly doubt he was thinking of Rosie’s protection. Why do I have a feeling this is the beginning of the end? Hermione’s head hurt with conflicting emotions. On one hand, she loved Ron. They were best friends. But on the other hand, they fought more often than not and had conflicting opinions on some very important issues. It’s the ‘mother’s job’ thing Hermione thought.
A few years ago, her and Ron got into a fight about raising children. There was a man taking his daughter into the Madam Malkin’s, and Hermione said, “Awww, look Ron, that little girl’s dad is taking her to get robes for Hogwarts. Isn’t that sweet?” She expected him to just grunt in agreement, and continue talking about Quidditch, but instead he grumbled, “Poor guy.” When she gave him a glare, all he did was add, “What, it’s a mother’s job.” Hermione blew her top. Eventually, Ron conceded that she was right, but Hermione always had the feeling that he backed down to make her stop yelling; today felt like conformation of that feeling. Hermione really hoped she was wrong about that instinct, but she knew otherwise.
With dread sinking into her mind, she put her book down, and went to bed. That night, she slept a bit farther away from Ron than she normally would.
“Harry? Are you awake?” Hermione called as she and Rosie exited the floo and dusted themselves off.
A very disheveled Harry Potter came down the staircase of Grimmauld Place. He merely grunted at their presence and shuffled passed them to get a morning cup of tea. Ginny bounced down shortly after, obviously remembering Hermione’s owl about their visit, and greeted them with mild enthusiasm, which was very peppy for Ginny in the morning. “Hi Hermione, who’s this?” Ginny asked, bending down to meet Rosie.
“Rose,” Hermione answered, “She’s my uncle’s daughter.” Kingsley and Hermione both agreed that changing Rosalinda’s name would be necessary, but not a large change because Rosie would have to be able to respond to the new name. Rose fit quite nicely; it was common enough not to give her heritage away, but close to her true name.
“That’s a beautiful name for a beautiful girl,” Ginny cooed.
“She’s also a big fan of the Harpies,” Hermione added. It worked perfectly. Ginny was so excited that she had a fan, and offered to bring Rosie to the Harpies’ practice that day. All the while Hermione would have time to enroll Rosie in school, find a permanent babysitter, and work. Hermione tried to hide her devilish grin as Rose babbled merrily to Ginny, and Ginny responded, delighted to have a fan.
While the two chatted over Quidditch, Hermione slipped into the kitchen to chat with Harry. “Hey Harry, can we talk?” Hermione probed, hoping he was awake enough to have this conversation.
“Yeah, what’s up?” Harry asked. The caffeine from the tea must have picked him up.
“You’re my best friend,” she began. Harry grumbled, “Ugh. I don’t know if I want to hear this.” but Hermione ignored him and continued on. “What would you do if I said I might break up with Ron?”
This snapped Harry out of his mumblings, and he stared at her wide eyed for a few seconds before narrowing them to emerald slits and hissing, “What did he do?”
“Nothing, Harry. Calm down. We just have different ideals, and we fight all the time. How often do you and Ginny fight?” Hermione questioned.
Harry, now much more relaxed, thought for a second. “Maybe twice a week. But usually nothing too big,” he replied.
“Ron and I are lucky to get through a week without more than 1 big blow out fight, and a load of tiny squabbles.” Hermione rubbed her face with exasperation. “He wants me to be a stay at home mom, to do everything, and praise him for every little thing he does. I don’t want that kind of life. I don’t want to bicker with my husband my entire life. Hell, I’ve had less fights with Malfoy this past week than I’ve had with Ron, and I spent more time with Malfoy.” She groaned, “What do I do?”
Harry took Hermione’s hand, and gave her a sincere smile, “Do what’s best for you. In all honesty, we have all been sick of you and Ron fighting since you first got together, but we thought you were happy. You both are my best friends, and I just want you two to be happy and for neither of you to have to sleep over at my house because you fight.” Hermione looked away sheepishly, but Harry squeezed her and and she looked back. Harry continued, “You know I love you. Just be happy. If that’s with Ron or someone else, it doesn’t matter to me. Hell, you could be with Malfoy and as long as you were happy I’d be fine with it. Okay?”
Hermione nodded her head with a sad smile, but said resolutely, “I think I know what I’m going to do. Thank you Harry. I love you too,” and pecked him on the cheek. She missed the blush creep onto Harry’s face as she looked to see if Rosie was around. Not seeing the little girl, she turned back to Harry who was rubbing his neck. “I have something else to tell you.” Hermione put up silencing charms around the room, and told Harry the edited version of Rosalinda’s story that Kingsley and Ron were given, and as with the previous conversations, they made an unbreakable vow of silence at the end for Rosie’s safety.
“Wow,” Harry sighed, amazed at Hermione’s work, “You glamoured her? Because she doesn’t look a thing like him.” She nodded, and the look of shock on Harry’s face did fade for a solid minute. He stood up abruptly, almost toppling Hermione with surprise, and gushed, “I completely forgot about work. I’m late! I’m sorry Mione. We’ll talk again soon. Can you stay for a bit longer? Andromeda is coming to babysit and I need you to let her in.” After Hermione nodded quickly, he dashed through the fireplace to the Ministry.
The brief period of silence gave Hermione time to reflect upon her recent decision. She was going to break up with Ron, and she didn’t feel a gut wrenching pain over the thought. There was sadness, yes, but more peace. She would finally have the chance to actually date, to make the food she liked to eat, and to catch up on all the book reading she could imagine. The chime of the Floo marked Andromeda’s arrive. That and her calling, “Harry, dear.”
“Harry had to rush off to work, but I’m here,” Hermione called from the kitchen.
Andromeda stepped into the kitchen a few moments later with a box full of cookies. Ever since the war, Andromeda went into ‘super-grandmum’ mode and brought cookies for little James and Teddy every time she got the chance to see the boys. “Hello, Hermione. How’s my grandsons?” she asked, eyes twinkling.
“I just got here a while ago. How about we go and get them ready together,” Hermione suggested. Andromeda’s grin widened, and they trooped upstairs to get James and Teddy ready for the day.
“Andromeda?” Hermione called, stopping the elderly woman from leaving with the young boys. “My uncle’s daughter is staying with me for a while, would you be will to babysit on occasion? I’m enrolling her in school today, so she’ll be covered most all day. I know it’s a lot to ask, but Ron’s no help and sometimes I need to get out and run errands—” Hermione rambled nervously, but was cut off my Andromeda.
“Of course, dear. I’d love to. Bring her over any time. I get lonely without these little ones,” she said, ruffling James and Teddy’s hair.
“Thank you,” Hermione said, grabbing Andromeda, and consequently James due to Andromeda holding him, into a tight hug, “You’re the best.”
“I know,” Andromeda laughed and squeezed Hermione back. Once Hermione let go, she said bye to the group, and flooed to the Ministry shortly after Andromeda’s departure.
Draco was stuck in one of the most unpleasant conversations of his adult life. His mother decided to confront him about his relationship with Astoria, but to add fuel to the fire, she wanted to know how he felt about Granger. The conversation was a terse and overly polite at best.
“So, Draco darling, how are you and Astoria?” Narcissa questioned, delicately sipping her tea while staring intently at Draco.
“Have you proposed to her yet?”
Draco fell into flabbergasted silence, then replied shortly, “No.”
“Does it have something to do with Ms. Granger?”
Unable to hide the dumbfounded look, he slightly stuttered, “N-no.”
“Draco, speak up.”
“No, mother.” He replied, annoyance gracing his features once again.
“Why haven’t you proposed to Astoria?”
“It doesn’t feel right.”
“Then, what is wrong?” His mother prodded, setting her tea cup down.
“Then why have you not proposed to her?”
“I just don’t think she’s the right one,” Draco sighed.
“Girls are not objects to pick and choose from, Draco. You should not string along Astoria if you do not plan on marrying her,” Narcissa ranted.
“I know mother. I meant that she isn’t quite the person I think I want to marry.”
“Well who do you want to marry? Ms. Granger?”
“Mother, why do you think I am interested in Granger?”
“Draco, ever since she’s been working with you, you’ve actually been smiling. Now, are you interested in Ms. Granger?”
“No, mum. I know what you’re thinking, but I’m just happy to be doing something. I have purpose besides amassing more wealth.”
“I see. So, Ms. Granger gives you purpose?” Narcissa quizzed.
“No, mother. The job I have helping her gives me purpose.”
“Do you care for Ms. Granger?”
Draco paused to think, “I suppose I do. Why?”
“Be careful. She already caused you enough grief before,” his mother warned.
It took a few moments for Draco to understand what his mother was rambling on about, but when it dawned on him, anger rose up. “She was tortured by Bella! She didn’t cause that. She didn’t make me stand there and do nothing! I can’t believe you would blame her for the horrible position she was put in. It’s not her fault I felt guilty. It was my own.”
“And what could you have done, Draco? But she didn’t see how helpless you were. She blamed you!”
“She never blamed me, mother! She stood up for me at my trail. Her and Potter were the reason I’m not in Azkaban.”
Draco had never seen his mother speechless before. It was fascinating and terrifying.
“I still think she’s trouble,” she spat.
With that, Draco just sighed and stood up. “Mum, I know you want what’s best for me, but I’m old enough to decide who I keep in my life, and was makes me happy. I love you, but this is my life,” he declared and walked out of the room without being dismissed by Narcissa. She stood there, staring at the retreating form of her son thinking, “What has she done with my son?”
Draco retreated back into the Malfoy Library which had recently become his sanctuary. He was deep in thought, contemplating what Hermione Granger really meant to him. She’s still a know-it-all, but she’s let go a bit. She’s fun, sometimes. She’s crazy intelligent. She cares about me, for some reason. Do I care about her? Yes. She’s saving my daughter. She gave me my life back and a job that gives me direction. But is she a friend? She is becoming a confidant. Maybe we could be friends. What then? What about Astoria? Astoria is kind and probably loves me. I don’t love her, but could I one day? Maybe. Could I love Her—
Draco’s internal musing was cut short, at a very critical point, by the library doors closing. He looked up from his chair to find none other than Astoria sauntering into the room with a determined look on her delicate face. “We need to talk,” she stated plainly as she gracefully placed herself in the seat across from Draco. Yes we do Draco thought. This is not going to be fun.
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