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Raising a Bibliophile

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Harmony Aesthetic <

 


 *

The Spontaneous Proposal

February 1, 2001

*


 

“Want to stay over tonight?” Harry asked as they headed out of the ministry together.

After such a long work day, all Hermione wanted to do was take a bubble bath and collapse on the couch in her pajamas. She told him so and he said, “You can do that just as well at my flat. I’ll even throw in a shoulder massage for good measure.”

She gave him a sly smile. “I will if you read to me in the bath.”

Harry slipped his arm around her shoulder. “You have yourself a deal, Miss Granger.”

*.*.*

Hermione snuggled deeper into Harry; hand resting over his chest as they watched a movie. A cozy fire flickered in the grate. The only thing missing was hot chocolate, which she offered to get during the commercial break.

Hermione placed the mugs on the end table and stood in front of Harry. “I’ve been thinking about something for a while now… you can say no if you want – I promise it won’t hurt my feelings.”

He sat up from his reclining position. If there was one thing that Harry was sure of, saying no would definitely hurt her feelings. “What is it, Hermione?”

“Do you think we should move in together?”

Harry smiled. “Yeah, I do. Thought you’d never ask.”

She laughed and plopped down beside him. “But is there enough room for all my books?”

He turned sideways to face her. “Hmm, good point, you do have a lot… well, we could always get a house together.”

“That’s quite an investment though. There’s no turning back after signing the paperwork, is there?”

“But I don’t want to turn back – I want to live with you permanently. Let’s get married, Hermione.” Her eyes widened in surprise. Then Harry realized what he had done. “Oh, bollocks, I wasn’t supposed to ask you that yet! I had everything planned for Valentine’s Day. I’m sorry for wrecking it, I—”

Hermione placed a finger to his lips. “Harry James Potter, don’t you want to hear my answer?”

He nodded; pulse racing.

She removed her hand and said, “I think marriage is a brilliant idea.”

Harry grinned. “Really?”

“Yes, really. Let’s get married!” Hermione’s hug knocked him flat onto the couch. She pressed her body to his; heart thumping wildly against his chest. Her kisses were just as enthusiastic. Half a minute later, they were clinging to each other and trying to catch their breath. Hermione climbed off, holding out a hand to help him up. “Your glasses are a bit crooked,” she said, straightening them. Hermione smiled up at him – cheeks flushed – and hair in disarray.

Harry felt a surge of love for her.

“So how did you mean to propose?”

He ran a hand through her curls. “I made a reservation at a restaurant in Paris. I was going to tell you how I wouldn’t have got through anything without you – how I want to keep on living with you by my side. Then I was going to give you the ring. Hang on, I’ll get it now!”

Harry slid on the floor in his woolen socks as he dashed out of the room. Hermione sat back down on the couch, letting out a euphoric giggle. Harry and I are engaged! She reached for the cup of hot chocolate, which had grown lukewarm during the excitement.

Harry returned shortly with a book. He flashed her a sheepish smile as he gave it to her. There was a map of golden constellations embossed into the midnight blue leather. Hermione opened the cover to reveal a hollow compartment lined with red velvet. She took out the gold enamel box nestled inside, gasping when she saw the diamond and ruby ring. She slipped it on and said, “Oh, Harry, it’s so beautiful!” Hermione threw her arms around his waist. “Thank you!”

Harry kissed the top of her head. “You’re welcome, love.”

She gazed up at him a moment later. “Can we still go to Paris anyway?”

“Absolutely. I made those reservations back in October so it’d be a shame to cancel them now.”

Hermione blinked. “You knew that you wanted to marry me in October?”

“No, it was before that… I knew a few months after we started dating, but I thought it was too soon to ask. I didn’t want to scare you away.”

Her brown eyes filled with tears. “Harry, you could never scare me away. You’re stuck with me forever.”

“Do you promise?” he asked softly.

“I do.”

He smiled and held her close; throat too tight with emotion to speak. The proposal may not have gone the way he imagined, but Harry thought it had worked out even better.

 


*

Shelves and Surprises

for Christmas

*


 

Somewhere along the way, Harry had begun to associate books with love. Even when he was just friends with Hermione, so much of their time had been spent researching at the Hogwarts library together. When they became something more to each other a year after the war, their first official “date” was browsing the shelves at Flourish & Blotts. That was the day Harry had discovered just how romantic bookstores could actually be.

Four years had passed since then – and during that time – Harry and Hermione had moved into a medium-sized cottage in Hampshire that was overflowing with their expansive book collection. They had run out of space on the six shelves scattered throughout the rooms and the books were now stacked up on every available surface: tables, chairs, counter-tops, even on the floor. At least Harry knew what to get Hermione for Christmas this year.

*.*.*  

It was December 23, 2003 and Harry was sitting in his favorite red tartan armchair by the fire. Crookshanks was curled up on his lap, purring like a little motor as Harry turned the pages of a Muggle mystery. Hermione had got him hooked on popular fiction. Reading a few chapters in the evenings was one of his favorite ways to unwind after working at the Auror office.

He was taking a sip of hot cocoa when Hermione Apparated inside the cozy living room. Crookshanks jumped down and trotted over to rub against her legs. She scratched behind his ears before depositing her black handbag on the coffee table with a loud thunk. Harry knew that she had an extension charm on all of her purses in order to carry more things inside them.

“Let me guess… you stopped at the library on the way home,” he said with a smile.

“Yes, I had to pick up my holds since they’ll be closed for two days.” Hermione pulled off her boots and walked towards him, leaning down for a kiss. “Mmm, you taste like chocolate,” she murmured.

He tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear. “Why don’t you have the rest of my cocoa? There’s less than half a cup left, but I can make more for you.”

“No, don’t leave.” Hermione sat across his lap; legs thrown over the side of the armchair. She nuzzled against his neck. “I’m exhausted. There was a stack of last minute paperwork to get through.”

Hermione worked in the Department of Magical Law. They usually left the ministry together, but she had asked him to go along without her. That was over two hours ago. Harry rubbed the back of her tweed coat, holding her close. She drank the rest of his cocoa and they remained in that position for a few minutes until hunger got the better of Hermione. Harry pushed aside some books on the round kitchen table and kept her company while she ate re-heated spaghetti from earlier. He cleaned up the dishes while she went to take a bath.

Harry pulled six titles from Hermione’s handbag before knocking on the door. “Come in,” she called out. The claw-footed tub was filled with pink bubbles and the only thing Harry could see was her head peeking out.

“Which one do you want me to read?” he asked, sitting down on the cushioned chair that was specifically for their bath-time story sessions.

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde,” she replied.

Harry put the other five on the black and white tiled floor. He opened the cover, cleared his throat, and began to read.

*.*.*

They decorated the tree the following afternoon while tuning into a muggle radio station that was playing non-stop Christmas music. Soft ornaments were placed on the bottom branches for Crookshanks, who liked to bat at them. He snagged a cloth star and carried it off in his mouth, which made both of them laugh. A package from Honeydukes arrived a short time later. They opened it to find an assortment of chocolate and a note from Hagrid.

At ten minutes to five, they bundled up in the knitted scarves and hats that Hermione had perfected thanks to all of her practice for S.P.E.W in their fourth year. They were meeting their friends at a pub in Godric’s Hollow for dinner. Neville and Hannah Longbottom would be there, along with Ron and his girlfriend Maggie, who was a clerk in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Ginny would be bringing her fiancé, Gareth Conway, who played chaser for Puddlemere United.

It was nice being able to catch up with the old crew again. The only one missing was Luna, who was currently in Scandinavia looking for some kind of dangerous creature. They spent almost two hours in the pub before bidding each other “Happy Christmas” and going their separate ways.

Harry and Hermione walked through the kissing gate of the graveyard. It was quite dark and they had to use Lumos to light their way. Carolers were singing at the little church when they found James and Lily’s white marble headstone. Hermione produced a wreath of red roses to decorate their grave – as she did every Christmas Eve. Then she began telling his parents about their past year: how they had attended Neville’s wedding earlier that spring and spent two weeks on a September holiday in Greece.

She paused, meeting his eyes. “Harry, I’m a month pregnant. I’ve known about it for a few days, but I wanted to wait and tell all of you together.” Hermione’s smile lit her whole face. “We’re going to have a baby this summer!”

Harry was at a complete loss for words. All he could do was smile as tears of happiness filled his eyes. He pulled her into an embrace, burying his face into her curly brown hair. “Hermione,” he said in a voice full of emotion. “Thank you.” It was the best Christmas present he had ever received.

*.*.*

Hermione was lying in their big four-poster, staring up at the canopy that was decorated with gold fairy lights. Harry shut the red velvet bed-curtains before climbing under their puffy duvet. He pulled Hermione close and she stared into his green eyes that were brightly illuminated by the enchanted lighting.

Harry rested the palm of his hand on her flat belly. “Our baby is right here,” he said in wonderment. “I hope he or she gets your brains.”

“And your bravery,” she added, brushing her lips over his. “I love you, Harry.”

Hermione felt his heartbeat through their layers of clothing. Harry leaned his forehead against hers. “I love you too,” he said, giving her another kiss.

*.*.*

She awoke to a loud bang downstairs. One side of the bed curtains were pulled open and Harry wasn’t beside her. Hermione shrugged into her fleece dressing robe with a yawn and put on her warm slippers. As she descended the stairs, she heard Harry say, “No, Crookshanks, don’t jump on that!” Then there was a crash that shook the floor, a violent hiss, and a string of swear words.

A ginger blur streaked past and she hurried the rest of the way. “Harry, what happened?” When Hermione entered the living room, she discovered three mahogany bookshelves with big red bows around them. One had fallen over and cracked. Harry pulled his wand out and uttered “Reparo!” before hoisting it up without magic. Harry spotted her a moment later and said, “I’m sorry about the racket… this was meant to be a surprise, but it looks like I’ve ruined it.”

She walked over to give him a hug. “No, you haven’t – I am surprised. Were you keeping them in the shed?”

“Yes,” he replied, “and I had to levitate them in.”

His face was flushed from the cold and she pressed her cheek to his. “Thank you for such a thoughtful gift.” They got the shelves into the study and used an expansion charm on the room to get them to fit comfortably inside.

Hermione made pancakes for breakfast while Harry prepared the coffee and fried the sausages. The smell lured Crookshanks from his hiding place and he sat on the floor beside them, begging for morsels of food. There was a tap on the kitchen window pane and Hermione rose to open it. Their tawny owl flew in and landed on the back of Harry’s chair, hooting near his ear to say hello. She had been out since yesterday delivering letters and packages.

“Hi, Fidella,” Harry greeted, stroking her speckled feathers. She closed her big black eyes in contentment. He praised her for a job well done and fed her bits of sausage from his hand. Hermione had given the owl to Harry three years ago on his birthday and she had become absolutely devoted to him.

It took nearly an hour to gather up all of the books and sort them into categories, but Hermione enjoyed every minute of it. Seeing the beautiful spines on display was very fulfilling for a collector. After finishing in the study, they went back into the living room to open presents.

Of course there was a package containing knitted jumpers from Molly Weasley: periwinkle blue for Hermione and deep sapphire for Harry. Ron and George gave them joke shop merchandise from their new line. Ginny gifted them a forest-green blanket with the logo of her Quidditch team, the Holyhead Harpies, on it. The beautiful potted plant with frosty silver blooms was from Neville and Hannah. Luna sent an astrolabe along with an album of travel photography. Hermione’s gift to Harry was a Muggle mystery subscription: one book would be sent at the beginning of every month starting in January.

Her parents would be arriving later that afternoon, so they took turns in the shower before tidying up the house. Both of them had become quite adept at household cleaning spells. Some things were still done the Muggle way, such as making up the beds. The sheets were always uncomfortably tight if she used magic.

Harry and Hermione ate a handful of chocolate cauldrons around 2 o’clock to regain their energy. The remainder of the afternoon was spent covered up on the couch as they read from The Well of Lost Plots.

*.*.*  

Elizabeth and Robert Granger arrived just after four. Hermione looked more like her mother: they were the same height with brown hair and eyes. She had also inherited her bibliophile nature from Mrs. Granger. The resemblance to her father was harder to see. He was tall with graying blond hair and light eyes, but they did have matching smiles. Mr. Granger’s teeth were on the large side, which is exactly how Hermione’s had looked before Madame Pomfrey’s shrinking spell in their fourth year.

Harry took their bags to the guestroom – and when he came back downstairs – Hermione was offering them a plate of sugar-free cookies. Her father still worked as a dentist, but her mother had recently retired and opened up a used bookshop. Both of them had remained strict about avoiding sweets to ward off tooth decay. That was probably the reason Hermione liked to indulge in desserts now.

“Do you know, every time we visit, the house looks larger than it did before,” Mrs. Granger commented.

Harry chuckled. “That’s because we’ve used an expansion charm on the rooms.”

“Have you?” Mr. Granger asked with interest. “We could really use that in our flat… your mother keeps bringing books home from work.”

“I’ll pop by soon and fix it up for you,” Hermione offered. When Harry sat down beside her on the couch, she said, “Mum, Dad, we have something to tell you.” She looked over at him.

Harry cleared his throat. “We’re pregnant. Errr, that is to say, Hermione is, and well, you’re going to be grandparents in August,” he finished, feeling slightly embarrassed.

“Oh, how wonderful!” Mrs. Granger got up from the chair and threw her arms around both of them. She kissed their cheeks and helped them to stand. She was crying, which set Hermione off too. They clung to each other as Mr. Granger approached Harry.

“Congratulations,” he said with a grin, shaking his hand enthusiastically. A moment later, Harry was being pulled into a one-armed hug. “We’ve been hoping for this announcement.”

He grinned back at him. “Sorry it took so long.”

Mr. Granger clapped his shoulder. “That’s alright, the pair of you are young; it’s only natural that you’d want to wait a bit before having children.”

Harry was 23 and Hermione 24, but having gone through so much in their short lives made them feel a decade older. Even though many people were missing from the family scene in the living room, Harry knew that they were watching from somewhere with smiles on their faces. He felt happy, loved, and utterly complete.