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My Brightest Star

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‘No peeking!’ Hermione scolded Narcissa the moment she saw the blonde peer through her lashes.

‘Can’t blame a Slytherin for accepting an opportunity when she sees one.’

Hermione scoffed and flicked her wand summoning a blindfold to cover Narcissa’s eyes. Cissy’s amused laughter tinkled through the air and she blindly searched for the Gryffindor’s hands. Gently Hermione took Narcissa’s hand in her own telling her to brace herself before she disapparated. They landed seconds later in front of their new house. The one Narcissa thought they’d be moving into by the end of the week.

Little did she know Hermione had managed to procure the keys days ago. And little did she know Hermione had summoned all of her friends to install an exact copy of the nursery Narcissa had purchased for the Manor in their new home. All the extra work Narcissa had wanted done in the house was finished. There was a new kitchen and bathroom installed, the entire house was repainted and the floor had been sanded down and waxed.

Narcissa didn’t even know that all the new stuff for the house she’d purchased and stored in cardboard boxes in Andy’s garden shed had been moved here already. Hermione knew the blonde had been nervous about moving so close to her due date. This way she wanted to alleviate some of the pressure on the older witch so she could spend her last two weeks of her pregnancy in peace.

‘Can I look now?’ Narcissa whined when Hermione didn’t move or speak for a whole minute

The brunette startled out of her daydream. She’d apparated straight into the nursery seeing as the wards around the house hadn’t been installed yet. She didn’t want to ruin her surprise by asking Narcissa because the woman would surely have known she was up to something. Hermione quickly twirled her wand to remove the blindfold.

‘Sorry, of course you can look.’

Narcissa breathed a very surprised oh when she saw her very own nursery in front of her. It was exactly the same as the previous one, wicker ornaments included. Even the flower Cissy had painted on the wall in the Manor had been replicated. Her eyes filled themselves with tears and Narcissa knew she couldn’t blame it on the hormones this time.

‘Are those happy tears?’ Hermione asked when she turned Narcissa towards her by her elbows.

The blonde nodded and snuggled close to Hermione’s chest where she let her tears fall freely. The Gryffindor witch comforted the crying woman in her arms as best she could until she was sobbing softly and quietly.

‘I didn’t expect you to react so emotionally,’ Hermione whispered, ‘I’m sorry.’

‘Don’t apologize. Never apologize for kindness. I’m just not used to it and it caught me by surprise.’

Hermione pushed Narcissa away from her a little bit so she could look into her eyes and squeezed her arms, ‘you deserve all the kindness in the world, Cissy.’

Narcissa laughed and shook her head, ‘I sometimes can’t believe how happy I am now considering how miserable I was when this entire adventure began. And now, almost nine months later, I have the kindest witch by my side to help me.’

‘You’ll always have me, Cissy,’ Hermione said seriously for she wanted the woman to understand that she was in it for the long haul.

Narcissa shook her head a second time, ‘it’s so strange. We’re opposites but we work so well together.’

‘They always say that opposites attract. But here we are and…,’ Hermione hesitated but continued after a nervous chuckle, ‘I love you, Cissy.’

‘Oh darling,’ Narcissa’s tears flowed again but this time she laughed through them, ‘after a long time together and a very short time apart, I can positively say that I love you too.’

They closed the distance between each other and kissed. Softly at first, but soon the kiss grew a bit more bold, a bit more hungry. But before Hermione could even think about letting her hands roam across Narcissa’s body, the blonde broke the kiss and fanned herself.

‘Salazar’s snake, it seems like the little one doesn’t agree. It’s like my blood is boiling.’

Hermione smirked, ‘are you sure you’re not just horny? I remember you walking around like you were on fire, pouncing on me everywhere you could.’

‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,’ Narcissa replied snootily before wiping a bead of sweat from her brow, ‘but I really think I should start teaching you Occlumency. This child is far too perceptive to my liking!’

‘Well we only need to fetch your clothes and toiletries and we can get started.’

Narcissa blinked confusedly, ‘what do you mean?’ Suddenly her eyes grew wide in realization, ‘you already moved everything here.’

Hermione smirked and pretended to swipe some dirt of her shoulder before blowing on her fingernails, ‘of course.’

Together they walked to the master bedroom that held a queen-sized bed and a big walk-in wardrobe. They’d worked with grey oak floors, white walls and forest green accents that came back throughout the entire house. There was a home office for Hermione as well as a separate bathroom and of course the nursery. The house had an attic that had been decorated entirely as some kind of lab where Narcissa could tinker away.

They ascended the iron wrought staircase and marvelled at the hallway with its high ceilings. There was a guest toilet and a big wardrobe for jackets and shoes. A big wooden door with stained glass granted access to the living room where a comfortable couch and two armchairs were gathered around the fireplace. Right next to it was the dinner table that looked out onto the open kitchen. It was fully equipped to muggle standards seeing as Cissy had gotten to appreciate non-magically cooked dinner.

The kitchen had a large window that looked out onto the garden while the pantry held the backdoor. The garden itself was spacious and colourful with a gazebo so you could sit in the shade and a similar greenhouse like the one at Malfoy Manor stood in the back. A wooden garden shed held some basic gardening equipment and the owl’s nests. Narcissa raised her eyebrow when she saw two bicycles standing in the shed. Those weren’t part of the changes she’d asked to be made. Hermione laughed.

‘I’ll teach you one day. It’s an excellent way to travel incognito among muggles.’

‘Whatever you say, darling.’

They concluded their tour and quickly apparated back to Andy who watched them pack the last of Cissy’s belongings with mixed emotions. After both sisters hugged and promised each other to visit regularly, Hermione brought Narcissa back to the house so she could go to her apartment and pack her own stuff. In true Hermione fashion all her belongings whizzed through the air after a simple flick of her wand and organized themselves neatly in her suitcases.

She grabbed a mischievous Crookshanks by the scruff of his neck and ignored his outraged meows. Last time she left this apartment it had been a decision in the heat of the moment after the first night of tossing and turning. This time it was well thought-through and somehow it filled her both with sadness and anticipation. Hermione reminisced about the years she’d lived here before smiling to herself and closing the door behind her. It was time for the next chapter.

***

‘What are you reading?’ Hermione asked when she saw Narcissa nose deep in a book.

‘The latest book about raising children. When I had Draco, my mother made a lot of the decisions and half of the time the house-elves were in charge of his care. This time I want to do it myself and I want to do it right. So I’d thought I’d better check whether my knowledge about children is still up-to-date,’ Narcissa replied half-joking.

‘Oh, can I read it after you?’

Narcissa looked up in surprise and Hermione immediately backtracked, ‘not that I want to meddle. Of course not! It’s not my place, I’m sorry.’

Hermione’s face contorted into worry when Narcissa quickly stood up to reassure her. Unfortunately her blood pressure had been somewhat irregular the past two days and she immediately swayed on her feet.

‘Careful,’ Hermione scolded as she supported the blonde back onto the couch, ‘you know you have to get up slowly. Andy told you.’

‘I know, but I wanted to stop you from overthinking this.’

‘I really am sorry,’ Hermione squeaked but Narcissa placed a finger on her lips to shut her up.

‘Darling, let me make one thing very, very clear. I want you in my life and that of my child. I want this to be our child if you’re up for it. So yes, of course you can read this book after I’m done. I was just surprised you felt the need to ask.’

Hermione tried to smile, but her lip started to tremble instead, ‘really?’

The blonde witch frowned and pulled the Gryffindor next to her on the couch, ‘you honestly didn’t think I’d let you help during the pregnancy but not when the child is actually born?’

‘Well I wasn’t exactly present when it was conceived…’

‘Darling, I’m a firm believer that you’re not a parent because you put a child on this world. I think you become a parent when you’ve earned the title.’

‘Earned it?’

The blonde smiled, ‘by caring for a child, nurturing them, raising them, loving them, Salazar’s snake by making sacrifices for them! That’s what makes a parent. And you, my darling, you have gone above and beyond already and she isn’t even born yet. If you’re not her parent, I don’t know what you are…’

This time Hermione managed to smile and she placed her hand on Narcissa’s stomach, feeling her heart flutter when she felt the baby move.

‘I have to admit, I’m really nervous.’

‘That makes two of us,’ Narcissa replied with a wink, ‘but you’re up for it?’

‘I am. I hated being separated from you, but I hated the thought of not being involved in the life of this little witch just as much.’

Narcissa smiled, but Hermione’s nerves only seemed to amplify because her expression changed into one of worry again. The blonde could read Hermione like the books she loved so much by now so she gently nudged the brunette.

‘What’s going on? Talk to me?’

‘It’s fine,’ Hermione tried to wave her off, but the older witch wasn’t having any of it.

‘Darling, I’d rather not read your mind but I will if I have to. Please, tell me what’s going on.’

Hermione rolled her eyes, ‘it’s just that I read this book about the nature/nurture debate. What if she starts asking questions about her father and realizes I’m not related to her. What if our personalities clash?’

Narcissa kissed Hermione to shut her up, ‘first of all, how in Salazar’s name could she possibly not get along with you? You’re a good person Hermione and very likeable. That’s what frustrated me so much about you.’

Hermione chuckled and opened her mouth, but Narcissa kissed her again, ‘no. I don’t want to hear such talk. And about those questions… we’ll tackle them together when they arise. Try not to panic about problems that don’t even exist yet.’

‘How are you so cool about this all?’

‘I’m not saying there won’t be any hiccups, but I know we can handle them together.’

Hermione nodded and laughed, though it sounded a little bit hysterical, ‘Merlin’s beard, I’m going to be a mom!’

***

The whoosh of green flames announced Andy’s arrival and seconds later the middle Black sister stepped out of Hermione’s and Narcissa’s fireplace. Hermione worked from home on Wednesday so she’d agreed to look after Teddy while Andy went to Diagon Alley for her job. She was only working for Olivanders for a solid week and she’d already taken it upon her to search after different magical substances that could be used as wand’s cores seeing as the current ones were all very rare and hard to come by.

Hermione had been very impressed when Andy told her about it, but Narcissa had merely rolled her eyes and called her sister a show-off. Andromeda had countered the attack by simply pointing at Narcissa’s published book about new and improved potions that stood proudly on the bookshelf. Eventually they’d all agreed that they were all ambitious witches when Narcissa had pointed out Hermione’s latest successes to divert the attention from herself.

‘Hello, Hermione. How has your day be-‘

Andy stopped talking when she saw the forlorn expression on her friend’s face, ‘what’s wrong?’

‘I don’t think I’m parent-material.’

A knowing smile appeared on Andromeda’s face and she summoned two glasses and a bottle of Firewhiskey from the kitchen, ‘alright, this calls for an intervention.’ Suddenly she hesitated, ‘Cissy isn’t here right? If she catches us drinking alcohol…’

‘She’s taking a nap upstairs. Teddy’s in the garden.’

‘Good. Now why do you think you’re not parent-material?’

Hermione shrugged, ‘I had somehow convinced myself that the baby will want nothing to do with me when she grows older and realizes I’m not her real mother. Or that we simply don’t get along, related or not. Cissy says I shouldn’t stress about things that haven’t happened yet and she’d managed to calm me down somewhat. But today something happened that made all those doubts resurface again.’

‘What happened?’

‘Teddy called me a nerd.’

Andromeda was speechless for one whole second before she threw her head back and barked a laugh, ‘Morgana’s tits, you are a nerd Hermione!’

The brunette looked affronted, ‘but that just proves my point! How will she ever like me?’

‘Hey, hey,’ Andy intervened, ‘who claimed being a nerd is a bad thing? I’m a nerd. Cissy is a huge nerd. Being a nerd is marvellous! I’m sure Teddy didn’t mean it in an insulting way and if he did, I’ll have words with him.’

‘He hasn’t been impolite, don’t worry,’ Hermione waved Andy’s concerns away.

Andy sipped her whiskey and nudged Hermione to do the same. They sat in silence for a while before the older witch spoke again.

‘How you feel Hermione… it’s normal. You’re going to take care of this human being with a mind of her own, but don’t forget you’ve been there from the start. When she opens her eyes for the first time, she’ll see you and Cissy. It’s not like you suddenly pop into her life and ruffle some feathers.’

Hermione sighed, ‘that’s true. I guess I’m focusing a little bit too much on the fact that we’re not related. Families get mixed all the time these days. I’m sure parents fight with children all the time. Related by blood or not.’

Andy barked a laugh again, ‘you got that right! We’ll talk again when she’s a teenager. But seriously Hermione. Don’t read too many of those books. In the end it all comes down to your own feelings.’

‘Cissy told you about that book, huh?’

‘Of course. She worries about you. You make things so hard on yourself sometimes.’

Hermione made a decision there and then, ‘you know what? You don’t need to worry anymore, because I’ve decided to go for it and I’m going to give it my very best!’

Andy raised her glass to that, ‘that little witch is lucky to have you and she will love you, I’m sure of it!’