Dedication: Chelle-sama, for beta as always and Zsenya, from whom I
took the names. Her 'A Muggle Summer' spoiled me for any other
names. Go and read that and tell me it's not a divine read.
Notes: Okay, I don't know what's up with me. I have no clue where
these plot-bunnies are coming from and I wish they would leave.
I've a ten part Love Hina snapshot set I'm supposed to be working on
as well as eight stories from CCS. Leave, plot-bunnies!
He loves this room; it's always been his favorite room
in their house. It used to be 'the baby's room' but now it's just
'Hermione's room'. It's still his favorite. When Hermione
was a baby he used to sit in here for hours, rocking her as she fussed
and feeding her in the wee hours of the night so that Courtney could
sleep. He still spends time in here nearly every night, even though
Hermione is away at school for months at a time. He putters, he'll
admit it; he dusts, straightens the already straight shelves and remembers
when entering the room usually brought him the sight of his daughter.
When she was a baby, long ago, she used to sleep with
her fanny in the air and kick the covers away. It was a small
moment of his night, as he went around to check doors and windows, to
stop in and pull the quilt over his daughter and smooth one hand over
her back. Had he been amazed then at the feel of her ribs moving
beneath his hands as she breathed and dreamed? She'd been a beautiful
baby. For the longest time she'd only had hair on the very top
of her head, just enough to tie with a ribbon into a single curl that
stuck straight up from the middle of her head; like an antenna.
Or a flower. Courtney had put it up everyday with a little pink
bow. He'd scoffed.
"She doesn't have enough hair." He said
it every morning. "It looks like she's sprouted something."
And Courtney always laughed, tugging on her own curls.
"She'll grow hair, Ted. Besides," she'd nuzzle
her cheek to Hermione's as she spoke the next line in their happy refrain,
"every girl likes to look pretty."
"Our Hermione is pretty enough without the bow."
But he'd always rub his nose into that little fountain of hair, letting
it tickle him and he'd carry the scent of baby shampoo with him
all day. Sometimes, and he doesn't tell Courtney this, but sometimes
when they're at the market he'll stop in the aisle with the baby supplies
and pop the cap of those baby shampoos so that he can remember the scent
of his baby girl.
He doesn't tell Courtney a lot of things concerning Hermione,
actually. But he's fairly certain she knows his secrets.
She'd gone and teased him, gently, about that Yule Ball and that...that...boy.
"It's her first date, Ted and if you keep making
that face she'll feel your scowl all the way at her school."
Of course he'd frowned all the harder and hoped that boy had
felt it too. "Come on, love, it's not her first dance so
don't fret. Come and dance with me." She'd put on music
and they'd waltzed the night away themselves. They way he'd once
done with his baby girl.
She'd been teething, messy business that even being a
dentist hadn't prepared him for, and he'd spent nights upon nights walking
with her in 'the baby's room' holding a cold rag for her to chew on.
And one grimy pre-dawn, as he'd hummed and swayed trying to soothe either
Hermione or himself to sleep, it had suddenly occurred to him that one
day some other bloke would be humming in her ear and swaying with her.
Some git of a boy would want the pleasure of dancing with his girl.
He'd drawn back in shock, staring into the sweet, wide-eyes of his child.
"Hermione, some bloody boy is going to want
to take you dancing!"
"Ba-ba-ba." She'd gurgled happily, patting
his face with her rag. He'd felt faint. Ball.
Did it really start so early? He'd remembered his first
dance with a girl. It'd been Courtney, as a matter of fact, and
he'd been sweaty-palmed and hopeful. And to think of where it
had ended! And one day...one day some sweaty-palmed prat would
He'd put a record on the small player they kept in the
room. "Mione, my only," he drew the words out, making
them rhyme, "what in the world would you want with some cack-handed
berk when you've got your Dad?" He'd waltzed with her until
she'd fallen asleep and long after. It had become a constant occurrence
on the nights he was up with her; until the night that Hermione had
actually slept the entire night through, shortly before her second birthday.
And after that...the years had flown, hadn't they?
When Hermione had turned ten she'd insisted on painting over the pink
and white walls with a pretty, peaceful blue. And that summer
an owl had swooped into their house. The room has changed very
little since then. 'The Winter's Tale' still sits on the shelf
over the desk, though now a book called 'Hogwarts, A History' nestles
up beside it. There are photographs of his daughter and
her friends that smile and wave at him when he picks them up.
She's grown so much, he thinks, that it's hard to remember when he'd
called her 'Mione'. She's grown into her name and she is as graceful
and smart and kind as the queen they'd named her for.
She's such a vibrant young woman, his little girl.
Her letters are so happy, far happier than any news they'd ever had
from her when she was in grade school. And he takes that into
account when the contents of those letters scare him. Last week
she'd written about getting their fireplace added to the 'floo' list
so that she could send her head to talk to them. Just her head!
But she'd treated it as normal and so, too, would he--if it came to
that. And there was always her news of her elf campaign; she was
working to make the lives of other's better and even though, having
met an elf while at Diagon Alley two years previously, he'd thought
the elves were very happy as they were, he understands the points
she is making. The elves needed to have choices, just as Hermione
had needed the choice between being his normal little girl or being
a witch. And she was, is, so happy, he reminds himself, so happy
to have found her place in that world. And it's not as though
she's left this one altogether. She comes home for holiday.
"Ted?" His wife is standing in the doorway,
holding a mug of tea out to him. "Something wrong, love?"
She crosses the room to sit with him and he puts his arm around her
with a sigh, kissing her hair as he takes the cup.
He fudges the truth, just a bit. "I was wondering
if I should put in fresh potpourri; Hermione should be back this Christmas,
right? No dances, no extra classes to keep her this year."
Courtney shifts and he frowns. "Actually, love..."
"What? Don't tell me that Vicky boy has come
back to take her to another dance!" He scowls.
"You'd think that boy would stay in Bulgaria, where he belongs,
wouldn't you? Or else he'd be busy with that sport...the broom-sport."
His wife pats him soothingly, smiling gently. He's
not reassured; after all, she didn't seem to worry about that
boy wanting to date their daughter. In fact, she'd seemed very
pleased by the whole matter. "No, love." She's
laughing at him, he can tell. "Viktor hasn't come back, but
the Weasley's owl has. Molly wants to invite Hermione for the
Christmas break, since Ron is going to be going home for the holiday
and she's already had permission to have Harry." She reaches
around him, taking a sip of his tea. "She and Arthur have
invited us for Christmas day as well."
"That might not be so bad." He muses,
the Weasleys have always seemed very nice. And they took excellent
care of Hermione the last time that they'd had her over. The fact
that he's been itching to see the way Wizards live at home is just the
icing on the cake. "It's not a bad idea at all."
Stealing his tea back from Courtney, he smiles at her. "I
thought for a moment you were going to tell me there was a boy that
she wanted to stay at Hogwarts for."
He's alarmed to see her smile in the same sweet, speculative
manner she'd used when they'd gotten the letter about last year's dance.
"Oh, no. I wouldn't say that she wants to stay at school
over break because of a boy." She hums softly to herself
and he feels his gaze narrow. "Not this year, at any length."
"But there is a boy whom she might want to...who
might make her want to stay at school?" His mind is whirling.
"It's not this Colin fellow, is it? The one who takes all
the pictures of her?"
Giggling, the woman was giggling. "No, not
Colin. Oh, goodness, no. He takes the pictures because she
He's trying to remember all the boys she writes about,
because it can't surely be some unknown boy. "Not...not that
Malfoy boy." They're always running up against each other,
or so it seems in her letters, it couldn't be some sort of--some
sort of--oh, he can't even think the word. "What sort
of name is 'Malfoy', anyway! And he's not exactly the nicest of
blokes! She could find somebody better! What about
that Seamus boy she mentions? Or Neville?"
His wife, he's willing to admit, is barking mad.
She's laughing, holding her sides and laughing. "No, oh,
no, no, no. No, she rather hates Draco Malfoy. Don't worry,
dear." She pats his leg and stands. "I'm going
to write Molly and thank her for thinking of Hermione and letting her
know we'll be over for Christmas." She pauses briefly in
the door. "Come and help me think of a gift to bring?
And nothing 'Muggle' for Arthur. Molly was absolutely livid
over those stereo plug-ins and cords."
He nods and places the picture of his daughter and her
friends back on her night-table. "Alright." He
studies the picture for another moment, as inside it the two boys throw
their arms over Hermione's shoulders and grin. "You know,
if Hermione is going to...well...if there's going to be a boy, she should
really consider her friend Ron." Behind him he can hear Courtney
choke on her tea. "I'd say Harry, I know that you're thinking
'Harry' but Hermione has said that her friend likes him and you know
Hermione would never do anything to hurt a friend. But Ron seems
like a fine young man." He turns and smiles. "I
know that they've fought because he hated her cat but they got over
that. And I didn't like her cat at first...that monster
hissed at me every time I wanted a slice of pound cake."
"You were on a diet, dear." Her voice
is faint and he frowns; there's something he's missing...but he's been
married for twenty years and he knows, by now, that he'll never figure
out the way his wife's mind works.
"That's part of the point...it's an odd cat."
He sighs. "My point is, even if she does, maybe, fancy Harry
or some other bloke, Ron's a good friend and I think he fancies her.
He's invited her to spend a week at his house and he's always sent her
a Christmas gift." He gestures to the picture and the frame
which, during the summer, has a running count-down on the number of
days until terms starts.
Courtney's smile has gone speculative again. "Do
you really think so?" Well, good, he thinks. He's gotten
her off this mad 'Vicky is a nice boy' thing.
He nods firmly. "I think I might bring it up
to her, as a matter of fact." He can hear her laughing
her way down the hall and shakes his head. She's absolutely mad.
He flicks the lights off but not before blowing a kiss at his daughter's
pillow and hoping that she can feel it, wherever she is.