Harry watched Hermione as she sat cross legged on the floor of the bedroom, her belly resting on her calves, and sorted baby clothes into piles. Ron's old school trunk sat open near her. From it she was levitating bundles of tiny little vests and t-shirts, nappies and nighties. As a batch landed in her lap she would separate them into the different mounds. Occasionally she would hold a piece to her face and breathe deeply with a blissful expression on her face before allocating it to its place.
There was a system. Harry couldn’t tell what that system was, but he was sure there was a system.
After a while she paused in her efforts and just looked from pile to pile.
“Do we need to get more baby stuff?”
“No, Harry. I think we’ll be fine. I kept all of these clothes from when Charlotte was born. I was just thinking how amazing it is that she fit into all of these, once up on a time. ” Hermione smiled up at him. “You know I don’t like buying things for the sake of it, and people always give presents. Most of these are quite gender neutral, so it won’t matter what sex the baby is.”
“Ummm, what about a pushchair and all that?”
Hermione leant back on her hands. Elbows locked straight.
“Harry, have you ever seen a pram in Diagon Alley?”
Harry walked over and sat on the bed next to the furthest pile of crisply folded little sheets. Come to think of it, he never had.
“No. Why is that? What do wizards use?”
“One of these.” Hermione leaned forward with an 'oooph' sound picked up a long piece of cloth. “You sort of tie the baby to you, and carry it around. Surely you remember me doing that with Charlotte?”
“I guess so.” Harry couldn’t remember much really. It had been a very strange time for him, just after Ron and Hermione's daughter had been born. He remembered sitting down with the tiny person lying along his thighs, head at his knees, waving her little arms around and cooing sweetly. Even then, she had seemed so at home with him, even though he was terrified of doing something wrong and breaking her in some way.
“It’s just another thing like quills and gas lamps. They do well enough with magic and older technologies, Harry, so they never needed to develop things like prams. Just as well, really. You simply would not believe what people will pay for them. It's like buying a small car!”
“Why don’t you see the babies then?”
“Well, there's extended family to babysit, and the wealthier families would have a house-elf watch the younger children." Hermione sniffed disapprovingly. "Robes and cloaks are quite accommodating. It’s quite clever actually. The sling can also be hung up like a little hammock. A light sticking charm means the baby can’t fall out.”
“What about cots and nurseries and stuff?”
“Harry, you really weren’t paying attention at all were you? You were in the room when I asked Ron about that at the Burrow. I’ve never felt more ‘Muggle’. I can’t believe you don’t remember!”
“What’s a cot, Hermione?”
“A baby bed, with high sides, with bars…..’
“You want to put our baby in a cage?”
“No, it’s a bed, but the sides stop it falling out.”
“Well, that’s what a cushioning charm is for. And besides, we couldn’t fit one of them in our room. Our bed takes up most of the space.”
“Oh, I thought the baby would be in the nursery.”
“A nursery? Where you buy plants from? Like where Neville works?”
“No, the baby’s room.”
“Why would a tiny little baby need its own room?”
“Erm…. Where did you think the baby would be sleeping?”
“Well, in with us of course! You can’t put a little baby off on its own! How would you know if it was ok?”
“It’s what my parents did, Ron. And I turned out fine,” humphed Hermione.
“Yeh, but Muggles are a bit mad, Hermione. You know that. Some of them don’t even have the baby drink properly, just using those pretend nipple things!” Ron couldn’t help but blush slightly.
"Those 'pretend nipple things' have saved lots of babies' lives I'll have you know!"
“I just thought it was because the flat was small," Harry said. "That’s why you had the baby in with you.”
“No, apparently, that’s quite a normal thing to do in the wizard world. Some Muggle-borns use cots and things, of course. You should have heard Molly when I asked her about them, though!”
Harry had had to help his Aunt Petunia baby sit a few times and knew about cradles and bottles. Well, he hadn’t actually been allowed to hold the baby, but had washed the nappies and mopped the floor.
“Is it a bit weird having the baby in your room though? Aren’t you frightened of lying on it?” He was thinking of Ron and how deeply he slept.
“No. It’s amazing actually how aware you are of the baby. Plus I would place a cushioning charm around her to keep us all clear.” Hermione sighed and a wistful look crossed her face. “There’s nothing sweeter than waking up to baby’s breath on your face. And remember that beautiful photo of Ron with Charlotte asleep on his chest? I would have missed all of that.”
Harry loved that photo. That side of Ron shouldn’t have been any surprise to them of course. He always took care of those he loved. It was strange how turned on Harry found himself at the thought of Ron the caring Daddy.
“I was worried that Little Charlie would be too dependent on us, and still be sleeping in our room when she was 25, but that was ridiculous I can see now. She was dependent on us because she was a baby, but now she’s growing into a beautifully confident person. And she knows her mind.” Hermione’s face was soft, glowing with maternal pride.
“So what about…. other stuff… in front of the baby and all that.”
“What ‘other stuff’?” asked Hermione evenly. “Cooking? Housework..... Quidditch?”
“Hermione--” Sex. Fucking. Hermione with her mouth around him. Sitting astride Ron, Swollen Breasts swaying, hair impossibly wild, tickling his shoulders as she leant back—“you know.” He rolled his eyes and spoke in what he hoped was an unimpressed voice. “Sex stuff.”
“Well, for a start, there isn’t a whole lot of that right away!”
“No, of course! I didn’t mean--”
“It’s all right, Harry. I’m teasing. Actually, I suppose you and Ron are quite lucky there. You will still have someone to turn to.” Hermione giggled at Harry’s blush. Harry tried to concentrate on looking calm, and not imagining Ron and his possessive grin, whenever Harry whimpered or moaned at his touch. “And also, when they’re little you’re not traumatising them or anything. They don’t know what’s going on. Keep in mind, Harry… the bedroom isn’t the only room in the house you can--”
“I get the picture, Hermione.”
“And anyway, you just want to keep them close. Babies need cuddles and to be close to their parents. Even when they’re toddlers.” Hermione looked sadly at Harry. “I’m glad you got that first year, Harry. With your mother. We’ll just keep making up the hugs you should have had later on. I can tell you this. Your children will never have to sleep away from us until they want to, and they will get all the hugs and kindness they could ever need.”
Harry smiled at her.
Thoughts of the lonely bed in his dark cupboard came to his mind and were pushed away with barely a twinge of sadness. He looked around the bright, airy room, saw the sun illuminating photos and pictures on the walls and underneath the mirror, felt the soft duvet and tumble of quilts still rumpled from the morning's pillow fight between Ron and Little Charlie. Hermione had dragged herself out of harms way and lumbered to the bathroom, complaining there was no room for her in the midst of the battle. She'd been smiling though, as she opened the curtains and "Good morning"-ed Crookshanks curled up on a chair a safe distance away.
It was a lovely room for the baby to be. And not a spider in sight.
Harry bent down towards Hermione and brushed away the tears tracking down her cheeks.
Hermione shook her head and grimaced in frustration. “Soon I won't be such a water-works." He smiled again. "There is one thing, though, Harry.” She looked up at him. “We will definitely be needing a bigger bed!”
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