The pain is immense. She is between fazes now, like being in between sleeping and wakefulness. The waves of pain crash over her, heavier than the waves off of the south of France, where Mother used to take them when Father was having one of his spells. Even Parker, her monster of a little brother, was at peace there. Most of the time, she wishes they had stayed.
These thoughts of happy places don’t help her now, the House Elf is putting a cool, damp cloth over her forehead but it does little to soothe the sweat, she is all but drowning in it. She can smell nothing but the damp musty smell of sweat, the tang of fresh blood is in the air. The Medi-Witch is directing instructions at the nurse, who is looking at Pansy with sympathetic eyes.
The pressure between her legs grows, it surmounts to a blinding, and intense pain. She has not felt pain like this between her legs since that first night, that first time, nearly eight months ago. But it was different then. Because after the pain, came the pleasure, and there is no pleasure at the end of this tunnel. She can hear the nurse giving her instructions, "pant, pant pant, push - one good push, pant, pant, pant, pant - "
She is screaming, it’s not something she is consciously doing, but it is happening all the same. All through the house her voice echo’s – not that it matters, no one is here but her. This is her home, her reality, and the pain is hers to bear.
The bed is hard beneath her back, the pillows are still soaked with sweat, all blankets have been kicked the floor. There is a pool of something wet, sticky but natural between her legs. The nurse takes a warm cloth from the basin of water and runs it between Pansy’s legs, which makes her feel much better. The Medi-Witch is bent down, giving instructions to Lala, the house elf quivers in excitement.
The baby squirms.
The nurse forces a measure of potion through her lips, says it is a “little something to help her start producing.” She feels though, like she can produce no more, the only strong part of her body is her arms, holding the light weight of the baby in her arms. Seconds after the potion is all the way down her throat her breasts start aching, she knows what she has to do, she has heard about it countless times, knows that it is a woman’s duty, a mother’s responsibility, she brings the baby up to her chest, it roots around, and latches onto her nipple. It hurts at first, a pressure unlike any other, the promise of future soreness, and then it feels natural. The soft suckle and swell of time. The baby drinks perfectly, she takes a shaking hand and wipes milk away from the corner of the baby’s little pink mouth.
Lala is over by the dresser now, bringing over a fresh, warm pressed housecoat and wrapping it around her shoulders, she has forgotten that she is naked, it feels like days since she has last drawn clothing onto her body, though it has only been hours. The moment that she had felt the oncoming birth she had been stripped of her clothes, laid bare before the Medi-witch, the nurse and Lala.
Her easing herself into the housecoat does not stir the baby. Nothing can pull the baby from her breast it seems. She peers down at him, small and perfect he seems to be. If a bit on the round side.
He has perfectly round, flushed and puffy cheeks. His perfect pink lips pucker around her nipple, taking shallow draws from her breast. He has been mostly clean, but she can see pale white skin under what needs to be washed off. He has perfect, half moon shaped finger nails and tiny pale toes. On the top of his head are tufts of black hair, quite like her own. His eyes are half peeked open, but they are foggy and grey and the nurse tells her they will become their natural color here soon. She hopes they are like hers, brown and inky.
He unlatches from her breast and gives a wailing cry. It is shrill and new, and even he seems surprised at the sound. She brings him – sticky, dirty and pale – up to her lips for a kiss. Presses her lips to the indent of his forehead, to the slope of his nose – so like hers – he gazes at her, cry hovering mid mouth, and does nothing.
The nurse and the medi-witch are there for some time afterwards, he is born late afternoon, and by the time Lala shooed them out the floo the moon was high in the sky, she w promises to write and call if needed. And soon, it is just Lala and Pansy, and the baby.
Lala cleans up, she scoops up the dirtied towels, blankets and Pany’s discarded clothes, all while chattering away, Pansy does not stop her. She stares at the baby, which has fallen asleep, tucked his little face into the blanket that she has given him and snoozes, his light breathing sound so soothing to her ears, she watches the sun set across his face, aware of how her thighs are still sticky from fluids, and blood, and how she does not know if she can stand. But she watches heaven on earth, his little heart beating in his chest, she wonders if anything has ever been made so perfect, so pristine to this world.
Lala interrupts this peace to let her know she has drawn the Young Miss a bath, the water is lukewarm and free of bubbles, to keep them from harming the baby’s skin. Lala holds the baby perfectly skill while Pansy steps into the bath. The deep claw footed tub is an ancient plaque in this home, rooted into the old floorboards. Pansy has no anxieties giving Lala the baby, she herself was raised by house elves, she knows they are gentle and maternal creatures. And besides, Lala has cared for her through the worst, she trusts her with her life. Once Pansy is settled into the bath, Lala hands her the baby, he seems to fuse with the warm water, the sides of his lips twitching. He does not cry or fuss. She smooths his hair down with the warm water while Lala scrubs her back, her hair, dumping the cup of water gently down to rid her hair of the smell of sweat and salty tears. She runs a cloth of Pany’s face, lips bitten from pain. She scrubs Pansy’s feet to the tops of her thighs.
“What will young Miss name him?” Lala asks, in her gentle, yet squeaky voice. She thinks it over, runs the water over his rounded, newborn stomach, He looks so like her. But there are traces in there of someone else, his hair has an unprecedented curl to it, his eye brows are furrowed and his forehead is wide. There are hints of a father, in there, somewhere.
But for now he is just hers.
Time passes as smooth has the stones along the sides of Hogwarts, that is to say, it is a rough and bumpy thing. Motherhood is tough, tougher than she ever imagined it to be. Which is perhaps, why her mother, in all her waifish fragile ways allowed her children to be raised by Elves and polite strangers.
There are long nights where she stays up with Henry, too stubborn to allow Lala to help, trying to figure out what is wrong with her child. Why he cries though he is full and dry, soon she learns to let Lala in, take the help where she can get it. Still, it is hard. Her nipples are so sore that even the slightest brushing some days can sting her eyes, her body aches in ways that she never knew it could before. The ache between her legs is unpleasant and never ending. She has no time to herself, she takes Henry with her everywhere she goes. He sleeps in the bassinette beside her bed, she lays a soothing had on his back while he rests, to feel his breathing.
During the day, she ties a shawl around herself, secures it with a flick of her wand and takes Henry around the property, tells him about his ancestors who stayed here, about his grandparents. How his Grandfather built the stone cabin for his Grandmother, and she stayed there until her dying day. How the Garden’s are Pansy’s favorite spot. They pick flowers together, he grasps the stems in his chubby hands tries to put the petals in his mouth.
She takes him out further, to the well she used to play in as a child, to the little shed that has goats, cattle and pigs, though she doesn’t take him in there. He is still too small. Her days pass in hazes, the letters she gets go untouched. Lala leaves the house every other day, to visit the Vault, pay the bills, get things for the house. No one knows that Lala is Pansy’s house elf, so she does not get harassed the way that Pansy does, no one gives her sneers as she enters the Apothecary, no one throws raw eggs at her, hexes her on street corners, in many ways, her freedom is much greater than Pansy’s.
But she returns home with toys and new things for the baby.
Henry is an energetic, snuggly baby. He is a chubby, green eyed, happy baby. Who loves his mother in ways that she never imagined any being could.
Most of the letters go untouched. A stack forms by the door, her owl, Kayes – leaves them in a neat stack, that once they get too big Pansy just burns them. They are meaningless. She has no places amongst those crowds anymore but to be a scandal, an outcast, and that she wont do. Still, she sees familiar names on the letter heads, Zabini, Nott, Goyle, Greengrass, Malfoy – they all go unread. There is nothing left to say, they had made their decision already, the figure of their backs turned to her during the aftermath of the Second Wizarding War had been enough to solidify the thoughts that she had already known about herself, that she was alone.
But not anymore.
She had Lala, and baby Henry. And they had recently taken on a part-Kneazle that was beautiful it its loyalty. They were living in such peace, night spent beside the wireless while Lala knit and Pansy taught baby Henry how to crawl. His little hands twisting in the thick rugs she had Lala install into the home. Their peace was so solid, so real, so seemingly permeant. Which was why it was such a surprise when the letter from the Ministry came. It was decorated in the MLE logo, inside a crimson red envelope. It falls neatly on her front porch, delivered by one of the Ministry’s Eagle owls.
It’s a formality really, because they have the means to just, show up. It’s not unheard of, and it’s not like Pansy doesn’t have a contingency plan, but it’s still shocking. If she had been answering her letters she would know that she was next. But still, sitting on the chaise, with Henry at the breast, she is reading the letter, in it’s neat formal script:
Dear Ms. Pansy Parkinson
Of 2501 Rose Parkway Lane
It is the responsibility of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to monitor all potential threats and past Death Eater activity. It is our current knowledge that the previous residents of (2501 Rose Parkway Lane) were current Voldemort supporters and known Death Eaters. It is this department’s duty to ensure the safety of all those in our community and it is the agenda of this Ministry to keep ahead on all possible threats. Due to this, we will be making three month stops into all previously known Death Eater locations and hide-outs to ensure that there are no dark objects or unjustly practices of any kind. Your scheduled appointment will fall at this time on June 1st, please expect members of our Law Enforcement community to be at your residence sometime between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. – please be ready and willing to answer any questions these officers may have, these officers have the ability to search the house in all areas, as well as but are not limited to: The use of Veritaserum, a Pensive, or any other forms of magical detections that they have in their current arsenal.
However, you do have rights. If you feel that any of these officers have violated their station in any way, you may file a formal complaint with the head of Wizard Resources Sir Percy Weasley in the Department for Magical Law Enforcement.
Minister for Magic
Hermione apparated two blocks away from her intended destination. Padma dropped in somewhere beside her and Seamus a little bit behind Padma. They were always to come in threes, Shacklebolt had ordered – it was safest that way. He had taken on a Mad-Eye Moody like paranoia when it came to these visits, not that anything serious had happened in any of the visits.
Sure, Ron had gotten his hand trapped in a enchanted basin at the Malfoys, Dean had almost lost an ear to a bewitched old pearl earring in the Greengrass summer home – both those had been real actual accidents. That was the problem with old, dark houses like these. Even the proper owners had no idea what could possibly be hidden inside of the places where their raised their kids, started their families, had their exclusive parties. Lucius Malfoy had a horcrux in his home for Merlin knows how long, and never even knew.
Kingsley was a good Minister, he was much more vigilant than Fudge, and much more honest than Scrimgeour. The best way to prevent the rise of a new Dark Lord was to rip it at the root. The way Voldemort had risen so easily was that his followers were blind, and the Ministry was blind, all the clues were there, pieces of Voldemort just sitting there waiting to be used. That couldn’t happen again.
So here they were, every three months teams of them made rounds, and they had been fruitful so far. Hundreds of dark objects had been pulled from summer homes, winter cabins, basements, attics and the like. Most of the inhabitants none the wiser. Most of the families more than willing to extend an olive branch of honesty to avoid time in Azkaban.
The walk up to Parkinson Manor was a beautiful one, the cobblestones leading up the manor were glazed in opalescent gloss that made the ground shine, the huge wrought iron gates that surrounded the massive property were flecked in gold leaf. There was a large white barn on the property, white ponies shuffled around, a few fluffy sheep. The house itself was magnificent. A large Greeco-Roman affair, with huge marble columns and gold pillars. The garden surrounding the land was full of large colorful roses, hydrangeas and carnations, the smell of lemon trees were strong.
“It’s beautiful.” Padma said, fluffing her Auror robes. The June heat was stifling already.
“Yeah,” Hermione squint up at it. “It is.”
It made Hermione wonder why, of all places, Voldemort had picked Malfoy Manner for his home – this was more distanced, more beautiful, more grand. But as they inched closer, Hermione started to see why. It was too beautiful, too pure, large windows were on the roof and the side, were one could peer right inside of the home. It was too open.
They warped through the wards and kept walking, right up to the front door. Seamus scooted to the front of them, shooting them both looks over his shoulder as he brought a large pale hand up to the door for a firm knock. They waited.
Hermione looked around, it was almost too beautiful to belong to people who had been Death Eaters, something of a shame.
The door creaked open, first a little – then a lot. Standing in the doorway was a tiny little house elf. She was long snouted, kind of like Dobby, with large bat like ears, large thin feet and large thin hands. She wore a little pink tea towel as a dress, tied like a toga around her shoulders. She had huge brown eyes deep in her face.
Hermione bent down, held a hand out for a shake. The house elf gave a very enthusiastic hand shake to them all, allowing them into the house. The foyer was beautiful, a grand stairs case split the room, large archways led them into the sitting room.
“I am Lala, can Lala get missus and mister a cup of tea?” She was quivering a bit, but not a lot. Little ears vibrating on the top of her head.
“Tea would be good.” Hermione said, The Elf vanished and appeared with a large tray of tea, two pots of exotic smelling tea and a plate of biscuits.
“They is strawberry.” She said, nodding enthusiastically. As they helped themselves, Hermione looked around the home. It didn’t look inherently dark, but that didn’t mean anything. The Greengrass’s didn’t look dark either, but the home had been full of artifacts.
“Where is the mistress?” Padma asked.
Hermione wasn’t all too upset to see Pansy again – after all the last time she had seen her was when she tried to hand Harry over, and then a few fleeting glances after that. But nothing serious, no conversations, no jeers and snarls like when they were in school. Her memories of Pansy made her want to see the woman less and less, but they had business to attend to that couldn’t really happen without Pansy’s say so.
“She is upstairs, she is resting you see, she is ill you see, has bad cold you see.” The House Elf said, ears drooping a bit. “Mistress gives the Auror’s full permission to view the house, look for –“ the elf gulped. “Dark objects.” She whispered.
“The mistress should be up soon.”
The house Elf bowed and drooped out of a sight. And they had free reign of the house, which is unusual. Hermione ordered Seamus down to kitchens, Padma to do the sittings rooms and Hermione was going to start going through the bedrooms. They put their warming coins in to the pockets, they would flair if they were hit by a curse or bewitched. They would do the basements and attics together.
She worked on a room that had obviously belong to a little boy, that must have been Parker. Pansy’s younger brother. They had obviously read the files on the families before coming, this was one of the darker parts. Parker Parkinson had been an apparently disturbed little boy who had passed before he had a slew of incidents that had landed himself in the healers. He had died of a bad cough when he was 12, right before he was set to get his letter. He was one year younger than Pansy.
The room was done in dark blues, and looked like it hadn’t been touched at least a decade. There was a thick layer of dust on everything, it reminded her quite of Regulus Black’s room. There was a twin bed, with a green canopy that had clearly been ripped down a few times.
There were deep scathes on the far wall, but nothing so out of the ordinary. She looked under the bed, in all the dresser drawers and found nothing. An old family ring that looked a bit suspect, she dropped it into the safety pouch and moved on. There were a few guest rooms, that were quickly searched, they too liked they had never been touched.
There was a master bedroom, deep golden sheets, a large mirrored wall. She took from it a few pieces of jewelry, a strange looking hand mirror, and a golden crown that had jewels of what looked like blood in them.
She moved on. There were a set of double doors at the end of a long hallway, without pause she peeked in. She should have known it was going to be Pansy’s room. She pushed the door open without a thought, and paused. Because there was Pansy Parkinson, but she wasn’t looking at her. She was in a hammock swing on the side of the room that overlooked the window. Her hair was long, much longer than it was in school, long and untrimmed. Long bangs, wavy hair that inched down to her waist. Her upturned nose was highlighted by the sun. She was swinging gently, and there was a bundle in her arms.
It was a squirming mass, and with a too loud gasp, she realized that it was a baby. A chubby baby maybe eight or nine months old.
Her gasp was too loud because without a moments notice, Pansy Parkinson turned her head. Her large blue eyes widened in her face, she leapt – gracefully – from the swing and turned to Hermione. She was in nothing but a pink dressing gown, The baby in her arms cried out, probably from being detached from the nipple so abruptly. Pansy fixed the gown to cover her breast.
For a moment, she and Pansy stared at each other – And the baby garbled in Pansy’s arms.
“Y-your elf said you were sick.” She stuttered. Pansy glared at her, face still alight with shock.
“I am.” She hissed, her voice scratchy as if she had been clearing her throat. “you simpleton.”
“Y-you have a baby.” Hermione said, her brain catching up to speed.
“Yes.” She hitched the child farther up on her hip.
“An unregistered wizard chi-“
“He isn’t an animal, he’s my child and I’m not going to parade him around so the Ministry can put labels on him.” The child whimpered in her arms.
“I-I- Pansy …” Hermione eyed the child, heart thumping in her chest. Large pale cheeks, tufts of dark wild hair on his face, large green eyes in his head. “That looks like – it looks like – “
“Get out, get out, get out, get out!"
Harry slumped in the bar chair amidst the noise, watching as Ron aimed his dart at the board, he gave his wrist a little flex in a tight circle motion and let it fly, raising his wand to give a boost at the last session, it landed solidly at the edge of the board.
“You’ve got rotten luck mate.” Dean said, his dark cheeks flushed from the alcohol, abandoned shot glasses of Fire Whiskey lay disserted on the table, a few bottles of Butterbeer and good old fashioned mugs of mead, all in all it was a typical Friday night.
Half the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was in the building, the Leaky all but leaning over with the amount of people crammed inside of it. Percy and Ernie – in Wizarding Relations – were over at the bar, sipping glasses of wine. Dean and Ron had overtaken the dart board after Harry had shown them both up, beside Harry, George was throwing back another shot of Fire Whiskey, entranced by Bill’s story about one of the catacombs in Egypt. Neville was being heavily leaned upon by Charlie Weasley, who was flushed in the face and at an all but horizontal from the Mead. There were a few other familiar faces dotted around the room – Anthony and Michael were by the bewitched Billards table and Pavarti, still with her special Quill had popped in after a long day at The Daily Prophet. Lavender Brown was trying to sell some dangling, gold jewelry to the bar maid.
He took a warm, deep swig of Fire Whiskey, finishing off the shot glass with one fell swoop and joined in to laugh with Bill as Ron’s dart flew overhead, implanting itself on the ceiling.
Like he always used to think in school, at the exact moment that he was going to ask where Hermione was, typically she showed up – so he didn’t usually have to ask. This wasn’t different from then. Before he could even turn to her red-head Fiancée and ask where she was, she showed up. She was still in her Auror robes, though technically she worked for the Department of Mysteries, that department had been bridged with the MLE and they worked together often enough. Her hair was taking over a life of its own, frizzing and sparking out of control, she had no drink, typically she stopped at the counter for a glass of wine first – and her wand was held tightly in her hand. She bypassed Ron, Bill and Ginny, who was engaging in an arm wrestle with Dean.
She walked up to Harry, and before he could issue a hello, she grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and began to pull. There were only certain times that she used this amount of force. It meant either his homework was late, or Voldemort was coming. He didn’t know that either of those situations would apply. As they passed Ron he uttered a “Mione’ what..”
She yanked him out the door, the muggy air hit him dead in the face, making him feel like sweat had immediately began to bead upon his forehead. She shoved him into the alley, where a few cats scuttled away and it smelled like vomit and sober up potion.
“Hermione – what – wait – “ Her wand was shoved under his nose, eyes flaring, hair sparking. He had faced Voldemort, death eaters, a large overgrown snake, a Werewolf, Dementors and this was perhaps one of the scariest moments of his life. Ron stumbled out beside them, holding his hands up in a defenseless position.
“What is going on here?” He demanded.
“Harry Potter … you tell me the truth, you tell me the truth right now.” Her breath was warm and minty on his face – her wand jabbed him under his nose. “Christ. Merlin. Hermione, what the fuck?”
“Did you sleep with Pansy Parkinson, yes or no.”
Sweat damped down his back, cold raced through his veins. Images flashed through his mind like clicking through a slide show. Pansy Parkinson, a tiny pink dress made almost entirely of sequins, short, bobbed hair, red lips. A bottle of wine, a strange, apology. A mutual, drunken understanding. An alley way, a pair of slinky black underwear on the ground (that would end up somehow, someway, in his top drawer at home.) Stiletto heels digging into his back, a dab of blood between her thighs, waking up to the smell of expensive perfume, lavender and honey shampoo. And then nothing at all.
“Harry James Potter, you tell me right now, yes or no.” She demanded.
“Why?” He said instead, had she told someone? Had it gotten out? He hadn’t seen or heard from her since, even at the bar that she used to frequent. He figured she had been married off to some fellow Pureblood. And while the thought hadn’t completely sat right with him, it at least made him feel better than to think that she had decided that post sleeping with him she should never show her face again.
“Answer. Me.” She growled.
“Yes.” He blurted. Her hand was stinging weight against the side of his face, Ron yelped.
“Merlin’s Balls, Hermione!” He yelped.
“You moron, you absolute moron.” She screeched.
“What’s this about?” He shouted at her, spitting a bit of blood out of the left side of his mouth. Hermione had a strong right hook.
“You… you..” She began to pace the alley way, pushing Ron’s helping hand away.
“You just punched me in the face,” He snarled. “I think I deserve to know what this is about.”
“Pansy Parkinson had a baby, he’s about eight months old. He looks just like you, Harry.” Hermione said, her voice suddenly soft and less prodding. He nodded, nodded some more, felt about the space around him for support and then promptly vomited.
It seemed fitting.
Pansy yawned, stretched in her bed. Her muscles popped deliciously, there was a tenseness in her body that had been eased out overnight, a long bath, a good meal and a decent nights rest had done that for her.
It had been a whole week.
It had been a whole week and neither Potter, nor any of his golden little friends had shown up to confront her, the MLE had left her home all but untouched and the anxiety that had built up since the first of the month had slowly dwindled down to a smooth simmer. The fear that Granger had produced had dwindled.
She and Henry were safe.
She spent the following days after the intrusion reinforcing the wards, giving Lala strict instructions on what to do if someone tried to come to take Henry, where to go and what to grab.
A small, garbled noise came from beside her.
Henry was awake. Large green eyes glittering in his head at her, a slobbery smile on his lips. He was grasping at her pajamas, giving her that soft baby smile. She hefted him up on to her chest, up again and down he gifted her with a beautiful symphony of baby giggles. She nuzzles her nose against his, pecking his face with a series of kisses.
There is nothing to compare this feeling to, no joy in her life as great as this. Nothing that makes the butterflies that had laid dormant in her heart for so long flutter to life, beat against her ribs and leaves her with ghosts of smiles on her lips.
She wonders how her Mother, so fragile, became so cold to the feel of a babies breath on her face, of the warmth of a small body curled next to hers in the middle of the night, how ever new step, crawl and gurgle is a new adventure. How did her mother become so desensitized to this feeling of utmost joy, peace, serenity. Where did it go wrong?
She fears, sometimes, that she may end up like her. With two distant children – one a simpering girl with a tongue of a steel, and the other, a demon like boy, with no peace in his life but torturing animals and - on occasion – his sister.
But she looks at Henry, with his flushed cheeks, vibrant eyes, mountains of curls on his head, and knows that she is doing right. She gets out of bed, takes him with her. He nuzzles against her chest, eager for breakfast. She gets them both into the tub, he loves the water, the bubbles, he splashes while she tame his hair, sits on her thighs while she runs the bar of oatmeal soap down his back. These are moments she would kill for.
After the bath, they dress. He is a blue, patterned onesie with a pair of soft navy blue trousers on. She slips into a white cotton dress, something airy and light to go for a walk in. She is going to head down the stairs, her breasts are starting to ache with the need to empty them. They trot down the first set of stairs, he is waved at by a few portraits on the wall, the portrait of her Great Grandmother blows him kisses and he mimics the motion back.
His little mouth opens in a babble, “Mama, mama, mama,mama, mama”
This is a new development, sometime in the last couple of weeks he has began to form words, mostly Mama and Lala, and Pansy doesn’t care if they are the only words he ever speaks, for they are beautiful coming from his mouth.
They are just about the bound down the second flight, toward the foyer, when they hear a commotion. Pansy stops, feels her Wand strapped to her thigh, grips it tight.
“I is sorry Mister, but Mistress permits no visitors.” Lala is screeching, Pansy can’t see through the Front Door because Lala has it opened only a fraction of an inch, she also can’t hear the voice of the person who has come to the door, so unannounced.
“No, Lala cannot allow the Mister to Enter.” The little house elf stamps her foot. With dread, pooling like spilled ink her stomach she inches down the stairs. Henry’s little babble in her ear.
“I is sorry, I –“ Lala is being pushed back a bit, someone pushing their way in the door. “I beg your pardon!” Her house elf was screeching.
“Lala.” Pansy called. “That’s enough. Let them in.” She grips her wand in her free hand, and Henry being held to her left side. Lala looks over at her, big eyes watery. Pansy smiles, and nods her assurance even if she is curling with fear inside. She knows that if someone tries to hurt her, or Henry, Lala will help.
Lala lets the door open just a little, and then a lot. And he steps through.
Her heart leaps, soars, then plummets.
Harry Potter is in her foyer.
He is in a pair of dark muggle jeans, that are a little baggy around the waist. And a jumper. It is red, with a golden snitch etched into it. It looks like a Weasley creation.
His left hand is in his hair, his right is gripping tight to the hair on his head. He looks disheveled, but handsomely so. His face looked like he could use a good shave, his hair was a bit too long, his glasses were crooked on his face. Remarkably like he did the last time she saw him.
She is nothing like the last time he saw her, she is rounder, softer, fuller – she has a baby on her hip, she can’t say she is the same wanton mulling girl that she was in that bar.
Henry squirms in her arms, she reminds herself that she is just about to feed him. Her breasts ache again.
“Lala, make Mr. Potter some breakfast. Whatever he’d like. I’m going to go feed Henry. Okay?” She makes eye contact with her house elf, who is no longer quivering. She is standing brave in little pink dress with a mission to do. She knows that if Potter steps a toe out of line, Lala will push him back.
She swoops away. She is surprisingly calm, where she thought her heart would be racing in her chest it was calm, her hands were not clammy as she pushed Henry and herself into her room to feed him.
When he is full and happy the sense of calm has not left her, she dresses herself out her robe. In a pair of dark navy trousers, a loose blouse. She leaves her feet bare. She scoops a sleepy, doleful Henry from the bed and takes him downstairs – it’s about time for his walk. At the bottom of the stairs she summons the Pram with a flick of her wand, she sets Henry down in it, wraps the blanket around him and makes her way to the dining room.
The windows are open, sunlight is beaming on the marble floors, the white rug looks like a fluffy cloud. There is a mountain of hot cakes, a warm jug of syrup. There is a steaming pile of sausages and bacon, crisp. Her mouth waters.
Potter sits at the head of the table, the gall of the man, and was shoving food in his face. He had a bit of syrup stuck on his top lip, He has a linen napkin tucked in his shirt.
“Lala – “ She calls, Potter looks up at her over his glasses. “Please take Henry outside to the garden, he’s getting a bit sleepy.” Lala shuttles over to the Pram, takes it by the handles and steers him out.
Pansy heads down the table, she pulls over a chair closest to the window and put some hotcakes on her plate. Potter shuffles in his seat, she looks up to see him pulling a smoke out, she feels an aching in her throat – she craves cigarettes these days, but she refuses to smoke while Henry is still at the breast. There is a pot of tea on the table, she helps herself, pours a bit of cream in it, adds two cubes of sugar and blows on it.
Potter is still shoving food in his face, looking down the table at her.
“Is he mine?”
He breaks the silence, the smell of rich cigarettes, sweet coffee and warm maple syrup in the air.
“Is it nice out?” She asks, cutting a small piece of her hotcake off and putting it in her mouth, Lala made the best ones.
“Does it matter?” He asks, his tone is jovial, cheerful, but the tenseness in his shoulders says of a different story. There is a tight line of his shoulder. She recognizes it.
“Henry rather likes it outside, loves butterflies. And we have a little bundle of baby bunnies in the garden, I think he’ll love them.” She scrapes her fork around her plate, picking up a bit off sausage.
“So we’re going to play a game then?” He asks, scoffs. “You didn’t seem like the type to play games.”
“I don’t. This isn’t a game Potter, this is real life.” She says, her own mouth tightening, her voice with some steel.
“And in this real life, you have my son. Christ Pansy, where you not ever going to say anything?” The ridged position of his body is furious, there is a wafting in the air, a strong magic.
“I didn’t think it was really any of your business. Last I heard you were settling in with the Weasley girl and were soon to be popping out little red head babies, Henry and I get on fine on our own, he wants for nothing.” She hisses at him.
“Ginny and I haven’t dated since Hogwarts, even before the battle we knew there was nothing between us. If you had just talked to me, you know that. And besides all of that, if Ginny and I were together, that boy is still my son, and I still deserve to be in his life.”
She gives up on the food, and goes right for the tea. Wishing that she wasn’t still nursing so she could help herself to a glass of something stronger.
“Well, one can’t undo the past – “
“That’s all you’re going to say!” He roars, he stands, his presence booms into the room. He slams his fists upon her mothers ancient oak table. “You – You have kept my flesh and blood from me, my own son, you think when he was older he wouldn’t ask after me, what about when he went to Hogwarts or – “
“That’s enough!” Her own anger boiled over. “You have no idea, not a single idea of what this has been like for me. You think I could have strut out with him on my arm? Do you know what people say to me? Do you know what they think of me? I can’t even get a potion, people think I – I –“ She trailed off. “I am not going to let the same happen to my baby, my son.” To her embarrassment she felt a wave of tears crash over her, they stung at her eyes.
“This had nothing to do with you Potter.” She told her tea cup. “It has everything to do with me protecting my baby. Any child of yours would be thrust into the spotlight, and then who knows what they would say about me.”
She can hear him move, the sound of his feet on the rug, his jeans rubbing together, the chair next to her pulls out.
“I’m sorry Pansy. This isn’t a fair situation for all of us. Henry included.” He says, with a little force. “But we can make it right. I know that you don’t know me that well, and I barely know you. Because we are different people than we were in school, we are adults now and we have a son now. Do you think I’ll let anything happen to my son? Do you think I would let anything happen to the mother of my child?”
“I think you would let something happen to me.” Pansy corrected, a horribly swelling feeling growing in her throat.
“We slept together once Potter, just the once.. that doesn’t mean that somehow all of our past has been erased… what I’ve done … “
“What you’ve done Pans-“
“I was an awful school girl I’ll admit that Potter.” She said, bringing a shaking tea cup to her painted lips. “Some of it was for survival, some of it was just.. me. But that day, the battle.. I turned you over. I turned you over in the face of everyone who walks the streets today, and everyone knows it.” She said.
“Christ.” He ran a hand through his already disheveled hair. “Christ Pans. That was ages ago..”
“It doesn’t seem to matter.” She snapped, “It doesn’t seem to matter that I was a foolish, tired girl who was scared for her family, and her friends, who just wanted the fighting to end.” She choked, “And I’ll be punished for it for the rest of my life.” She took a scalding sip of her tea.
A warm hand, much larger than hers and covered in a mess of scars gently laid itself upon her leg, the nails were trimmed tight but there was a bit of dirt under the middle one, there were darkened marks between the thumb and pointer finger that indicated a few years of smoking. The width of the hand nearly took up the entire width of her thigh.
“That was ages ago. Ages. We are all different people in times of war. No one will blame you – no one good, no one right – will blame you for what you did. If I was you I would have tried to turn me over too. And whatever happened in the past Pansy, whatever people we were in school, we’re not those people any more. And more than that, we’re parents now Pansy.” He said.
“I know that, I’ve known that for much longer than you have.”
“I know. Pansy.. I grew up without a Dad, without a Mum too but also, a Dad. I don’t want any child of mine to go without me.” He said. “I wont let any child of mine go without me. So we’re at a crossroads here.”
Pansy mulled the words around her head, tumbed them through her ears let them dance through her soul to find the right answer.
“I see no crossroads Potter. I suppose we’re stuck with you now.”
They found Henry and Lala in the gardens, Henry was squirming in the Pram and Lala was making the little Sir a wreath of flowers. They came around the edge of the garden wall and Lala lept to her feet, ears touching the ground in such a low bow.
“Lala, none of that. If you don’t mind I’d like to Introduce you to this man, this is Sir Harry Potter. And … we’ll be seeing quite a bit of him, I’m sure. You can call him Harry.” She introduced. “Potter, this is my lovely house elf Lala. She has served my family since I was born and is one of the primary caretakers of Henry.”
With the introductions made she stepped over to the Pram, where her chubby baby boy gave a little grin at her. There were little white caps in his mouth that made her ache with the feeling of lost time, he was growing so fast, and yet was so little. With a nod at Lala, the little house elf left the gardens, more than likely to finish knitting blankets and left she and Potter in the garden with her son.
She removed him from pram, her hand cradling his neck burying her nose in the tufts of black hair upon his head. She down on the bench, it was the same bench that her mother had spent her mornings and afternoons, staring into the pasture at the sheep and cattle. Pansy hoped to never turn into a mother like her. She used her other hand to pat the bench next to her, a place for Potter to sit.
“Alright then. Harry meet Henry, Henry, this is your …. Dada.. Harry.” She said. She turned Henry on her lap so that his legs dangled over and he faced Harry. Their green eyes meeting in contact. She didn’t dare look at Harry’s face so instead she kept a steady on Henry’s. His cheeks were flushed, his hair was askew he was -
“Perfect.” Potter whispered hoarsely.
“Yes. Well. Did it myself so I’m quite proud of him.” She said. Hefting him closer to her chest when he began to squirm.
“What was it like?” Potter asked, reaching out with a hesitant hand to stroke the back of her baby’s curled fist.
“What was what like?”
She squirmed, “That’s a bit of a personal question, Potter.”
He let out a snort, “Indulge me.”
She sighed, thinking back to that long and beautiful day.
“It was beautiful. It was horrible. My contracts started early that morning, but I thought it was back pains, by the time my water broke the pain was immense. We had a medi-witch and midwifery nurse. The labor took hours, there was so much .. blood and other .. ghastly fluids.. And finally, after thirteen or so hours he came, screaming into the world.” She said.
“But you were alone.”
“I wasn’t alone, I had Lala.” She said. Thinking fondly of her little pink clad house elf.
“But no mother, no friends…”
“No. I have no mother, and no friends. It’s just me here.” Henry squirmed heavily in her arms.
“Would you care to hold him?” She asked. Without waiting for a response from him she shifted Henry from her arms into his, taking Potter’s hand and placing it upon the baby’s back, letting Henry grasp at the end of Potters shirt.
Compared to being in her own arms, in Harry’s – Henry looked positively tiny. He gurgled a bit before reaching forward and tugging at Harry’s face and his glasses.
“Sorry. He can be grabby.” Pansy went to grab Henry and take him but Harry shifted away from her.
“No. He’s fine, I don’t mind.” Harry leaned forward until he was nose to nose with Henry,
“Hello little man, I’m your daddy.”