The Birds and the Bees

Hermione Potter and her daughters discuss the little things in life as they prepare for the visit of the Longbottoms. Part of the ‘Harmony at Home’ series

* * *

Hermione Potter liked her life very much indeed. She had her wonderful husband, her adorable daughters and her new baby boy, which completed her little family set. She also had an extremely cute black-and-white patched kneazle kitten, called Mimi, which Harry had bought her as a birthday present, to keep her company when he was at work and their girls were in school.

Mrs Potter was very happy with how things were. She had her family, her kitten, her home office, where she could do lots of important work, and a very big library, that Harry had built for her and filled with lots and lots of books. She was happiest in her library, reading to her girls, while Harry rubbed her feet or shoulders or played idly with her hair and brought her lots of cups of tea.

She missed her pregnancy bump, as it had been a handy book-rest for those cosy nights in, but as she and Harry hadn’t decided yet if three babies was the right number for them, she would just have to wait and see if she’d ever get it back again.

The Potters were best family friends with the Longbottoms, and Mrs Longbottom was Hermione’s best witch friend. Her name was Enola and she had a daughter, too, who was also nine-years-old, the same as Hermione’s eldest. And Sophie Potter and Alison Longbottom thought it was just the best and funniest thing that they were best friends, too, just like their mummies.

And, in their opinion, there were no bester friends anywhere.

So, on this particularly sunny Saturday, both Hermione and Sophie Potter were in very high spirits, as the Longbottoms were coming to stay for a ‘long weekend’. This confused little Celesca Potter, who couldn’t understand how this particular weekend could be longer than any other. But then, she decided, her Mummy and Mrs Longbottom were both very powerful witches and could probably add extra days in or something if they wanted to.

At nine o’clock in the morning, Harry Potter kissed his wife and girls goodbye, adjusted the blankets around his infant son, dreaming away in his cot, and went to collect the Longbottoms from the train station. They had decided it would be great fun to travel to the Potters like Muggles, so they had boarded a train at Paddington station in London for the two hour ride to Cardiff, where Harry would meet them and bring them home to see everyone.

The house was very busy in preparation for the arrival of the Longbottoms. Mrs Longbottom was heavily pregnant and Celesca was helping Hermione get her bedroom just right, while Sophie started building a blanket fort for her and Alison in her own room, which she was very excited to be sharing with her best friend for the next few days.

“Here you go, Mummy,” said Celesca, proffering her full arms. “I’ve brought Mrs Longbottom my pillow with the hippogriffs on it – to put under her back like you used to do – and my Monster Book of Monsters for her to read, if she isn’t sleepy when she goes to bed.”

“Thank you, sweetheart,” said Hermione, smiling. “But how do you know she likes monsters?”

Celesca frowned. She liked monsters, she thought they were the best thing, and she couldn’t possibly see how Mrs Longbottom wouldn’t like them, too. And she told her mother all about that for a few minutes, until she agreed, too. Because, after all, everyone liked monsters, really.

“Mummy, is Mrs Longbottom still all big and fat?” asked Celesca.

“She’s all big and pregnant,” Hermione corrected, taking her daughter’s hand as they made their way back towards the kitchen. “She has a baby inside her, you know.”

“Yes, Mummy, I know that,” said Celesca, sagely, rolling her bright blue eyes. “But your baby came out…and Mrs Longbottom’s was in her tummy before yours was.”

“Perhaps baby James just got bored of being in my tummy and thought it was high time he came out to see the world,” Hermione offered. “Or maybe he just wanted to come out and meet his big sisters.”

“Yes, that’s probably it,” Celesca nodded. “I’d want to come out and meet me, if it was me.”

“He wouldn’t have come out to meet you, he’d come out to meet me, as I’m the best big sister in the world,” said Sophie haughtily, as she joined the others at the kitchen table.

“You are not the best big sister in the world,” Celesca frowned crossly. “You’re my big sister, too, you know, and I think Mummy could have gotten me a much better one than you.”

And she poked her tongue out to emphasise her point.

“Now, now girls, don’t row,” said Hermione lightly. “I’ve only just gotten your little brother to sleep, and he’ll be ever so grumpy if you wake him.”

“Sorry, Mummy,” the girls chorused.

Hermione smiled at her daughters. “How about we make some Welsh Cakes for when the Longbottoms get here?”

“Ooh, yes please!” cried Celesca, excitedly. “Can I roll the mixture and do the cutting? I like that bit the best.”

“And I’ll mix up all the eggs and flour and butter in my little bowl,” said Sophie, who was already stretching on tip toe to reach it from the Big Cupboard.

Hermione went to her pantry and collected flour and butter, and some caster sugar, some eggs and a bit of milk and put them on the table.

“Shall we use sultanas or chocolate chips, girls?”

“Sultanas,” said Celesca decisively.

“Chocolate chips, as I like them better like that,” Sophie countered.

“Both it is,” said Hermione cheerily, to offset another argument, as her daughters began to play Rock, Paper, Scissors, to see who would win, which was always an unfair game, as Celesca was a Seer, so she could read minds, which meant she always won.

Hermione put a little pile of sultanas and a little pile of chocolate chips in front of Sophie, then one in front of Celesca, then turned to put the bakestone on to heat up. Mimi, who had come to investigate what was going on in the kitchen, hopped up onto the table. She sniffed at the four little piles. But she didn’t like sultanas or chocolate chips. She was curious about the bowl of beaten eggs that Sophie had left unattended, though, and she dipped her nose it in, only for Hermione to turn and catch her and take her away to her little red bowl, where there were some kitten treats that she much preferred to any of it.

Celesca thought it would be a brilliantly good idea to put pepper in her Welsh Cakes. They never usually did, but it seemed a bit unfair to leave the pepper shaker in the cupboard when they were using the salt one. She thought it might feel left out and get lonely. So she poured some flour onto the table, ready to roll the mixture Sophie was making, and she poured out a little mound of pepper next to it, just to be ready.

“Achooo!”

Celesca sneezed as the pepper went up her nose. It was such a good one, a bit of her magic spilled out and knocked the bag of flour over, and it covered Sophie, who was sat opposite her, from her head to her shoulders in a white dusting. She frowned angrily, looking like a very cross ghost. Celesca, who was usually very afraid of ghosts, just laughed at laughed at this one, but she stopped laughing when Sophie threw handfuls of flour and caster sugar over her. So she began flicking sultanas at her sister, who returned fire with chocolate chips, and they waged a brutal little war for a few minutes, until Hermione turned around and cleaned everyone up with a little flick of her wand and told them off for being so silly.

Sophie and Celesca decided to call a truce, for the sake of the Welsh Cakes, and they were soon rolling out a big sheet of the cake mixture onto the kitchen table. Hermione gave each of her girls a stencil cutter, and they soon had two big piles of little dough circles, which they then pushed the sultanas and chocolate chips into. Hermione placed the first batch onto the hot bakestone and soon the kitchen was filled with the delicious smell of the baking cakes. Mimi came for one last look, just in case, but she didn’t like Welsh Cakes any more than she liked sultanas or chocolate chips, so she just slinked away into the garden, where she began to wash herself on the sunny verandah.

As they sat and waited and enjoyed the smell of the baking cakes, wondering how many they could eat before the Longbottoms arrived, baby James stirred in his cot, and Hermione took him out to give him his feed.

“Mummy,” said Celesca, furrowing her brow curiously. “Do you remember when baby James was in your tummy?”

“I remember.”

“Did you feel full, like you’d eaten a big pie or a whole plate of meatballs or something?”

“No, but he did kick me a lot,” Hermione replied.

“That’s not very nice,” said Sophie, frowning. “I hope you told him off. Daddy told me off for kicking him last week.”

“Yes, well,” said Hermione. “When you play football, you’re supposed to kick the ball, not the other players.”

“But Daddy was cheating,” Sophie complained, bitterly. “He kept doing magic on the ball, so it would move when I tried to kick it. And I kept missing it and falling over. So I got cross and kicked him instead.”

Celesca giggled at that. “But, Mummy…is the baby in Mrs Longbottom as big as baby James?”

“The baby would be about that big, yes,” said Hermione. “I’m sure he or she will come out very soon. Why, sweetie?”

“Well, he just seems too big…to fit,” said Celesca, looking at her own belly for comparison. “How did baby James get inside you in the first place?”

“The stork brought him,” Hermione explained.

“The stork?” asked Sophie, who had perked up with the change of topic. “A bird brought you a baby?”

“So…Daddy didn’t have anything to do with it at all,” Celesca contemplated.

“Yes, well, Daddy gave the stork a special seed, which he gave to me to put in my belly, where it grew into a baby.”

“Why didn’t Daddy just give the seed straight to you?” asked Sophie. “You live in the same house and sleep in the same bed. It would have been easier than using a stork.”

“Well, the stork needed a job, and you know how Daddy likes to help people who need things,” said Hermione.

“He is always helping people,” Celesca considered. “But a stork isn’t a person…it’s a bird.

“Your father doesn’t believe in racial discrimination.”

“Alison told me that her Mummy got her baby in her because her Daddy loves her very much and he put it there,” said Sophie. “How does that work, then, if they haven’t got a stork to help them?”

Hermione sighed deeply, and put baby James back down into his cot.

“It’s like this, girls,” said Hermione, patiently. “Sometimes, when a man and a lady love each other very, very much -“

“Like you and Daddy,” said Celesca, who had seen it with her special Seer magic and was in no doubt about the fact.

“Like me and your Daddy,” Hermione confirmed with a big smile. “Well, when they love each other that much they decide, one day, they might like a baby to share it with. So they can love them, too.”

“You and Daddy must love each other very, very, very much then,” said Sophie. “As you’ve made three babies now.”

“We have, and we love you all, and each other, more than anything in the world,” Hermione confirmed.

“So how does the baby get there?” Celesca pressed. “And what’s it made of?”

“Well, when a man gets old enough to make babies, he can give a lady a special seed he can make inside his body,” said Hermione.

“Like the one Daddy gave to the stork to give to you?” asked Celesca.

“Exactly the same,” said Hermione. “It looks like a little tadpole. And when he puts it into a lady’s tummy, it finds an egg – that ladies make inside – and the tadpole goes into it and it grows into a baby.”

Celesca looked horrified at the story, as though she’d read it in The Monster Book of Monsters.

“A tadpole…and an egg…” she breathed quietly. “And it becomes a baby? But…what happens to the shell?”

“What shell?”

“On the egg?” Celesca clarified.

Hermione chuckled. “This type of egg doesn’t have a shell, sweetheart.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“So let me get this right,” Sophie queried. “A tadpole goes into an egg – which doesn’t have a shell, which is not like any egg I’ve ever heard of – and it turns into a baby. That must be why it takes months and months, then, because tadpoles and eggs are nothing like people.”

“You’re quite right,” said Hermione, nodding. “They’re not.”

“That’s just weird,” said Sophie, deliciously disgusted and fascinated all at once. “But…how does the man get the tadpole into the lady’s tummy to meet her egg in the first place?”

“Does she eat the tadpole, like in a fish finger sandwich?” asked Celesca, innocently.

“No, she doesn’t eat it, sweetheart,” said Hermione, patiently.

“Is it by magic?” asked Sophie.

“It’s a sort of magic,” said Hermione, thoughtfully.

“How did Daddy put his tadpole in your tummy, Mummy?” asked Celesca.

Hermione flicked her eyes at the clock. She hoped Harry wouldn’t take his time bringing the Longbottoms home.

“Yes, Mummy,” Sophie tag-teamed. “How did Daddy do that?”

Hermione sighed. She flipped the Welsh Cakes on the bakestone, and turned back to her girls. “When me and your Daddy decided we loved each other so much we wanted to have a baby, he was able to make his boy parts change shape, because he was so happy to be making a baby with me, and then he was able to fit them inside my girl parts.”

Sophie and Celesca gasped, and clung to each other in collective horror.

“And then,” Hermione continued, grinning at the shocked expressions facing her. “We were both so happy to be like that, that his tadpoles popped out of him from his parts and found my egg, then they went into my belly together, where they grew into Sophie!”

I was an egg and tadpole?” Sophie asked in astonishment.

“You both were,” said Hermione kindly, as Celesca looked at her in wide-eyed shock. “All little girls and boys start out like that.”

“And do all people make babies in that way?” asked Sophie.

“Mostly,” said Hermione, gently. “But some people can’t make babies like that, because of problems in their bodies, so they have to do it other ways. And other animals do it differently again. Birds and bees, for example. And you want to see how giants make babies…their tadpoles are as big as Mimi!”

“I don’t remember being a tadpole,” said Celesca thoughtfully, relaxing now that she knew that everyone started off the same. “But I bet I was the fastest swimmer.”

“You must have been,” Hermione agreed. “Because you beat a lot of other little tadpoles, that your Daddy put into my tummy at the same time, to get to my egg first.”

“And it definitely didn’t have a shell?” Celesca queried. Of all aspects of this story, the idea of a shell-less egg was the most disturbing bit of it all. She didn’t know if she’d ever accept the existence of such a thing. “Are you sure? It might have just cracked and fallen off and come out in your wee wee or something.”

Sophie burst into giggles next to her sister.

“No, it definitely didn’t have a shell, Celesca,” said Hermione.

“Okay. Just checking,” Celesca replied.

“So,” said Sophie. “After the egg and tadpole turn into a little baby…how does it get out?”

“Would you believe that a little door grows on the mummy’s belly, and the baby knocks and asks to come out?” Hermione asked in hope.

“No,” Sophie and Celesca chimed.

Hermione laughed. “Okay, girls, this is the part you wont like. But, believe me, it isn’t as bad as it sounds.”

Sophie and Celesca prepared themselves as best they could.

“Well, when it’s time for the baby to come out, the mummy’s girl parts grow bigger and bigger and wider and wider, until eventually the baby can just about fit out. So the mummy pushes and pushes…and then the baby pops out.”

“Like having a really big poop?” asked Celesca.

“Celesca Potter! Not while we’re baking, please!” Hermione chided gently, as Sophie rocked with giggles next to her sister.

“Sorry, Mummy,” Celesca grinned.

“That is what it sounds like, Mummy,” said Sophie cautiously.

“I suppose it is sort of like that,” Hermione replied, scrunching her nose at her girls.

“Does it hurt?” asked Sophie. “Baby James is a little baby…but still too big to fit out of there.”

“It hurts a bit,” said Hermione, honestly. “But then you get the baby and you’re so full of love for them you forget all about it.”

“Who hurt the most, me or Cesc?” asked Sophie, quirking a wicked grin at her sister, who made a face at her in reply. Hermione just narrowed her eyes at them.

“You must like making babies with Daddy, though,” said Celesca. “As you’ve had three now.”

“Well, where else am I going to get such good Welsh Cake-making helpers?” Hermione smiled. “I think the first ones are ready now, by the way.”

“Ooh, goody,” cried Celesca happily. “Can we have one?”

“How about one each?” Hermione grinned back, scooping the cakes onto a little plate.

“Make sure mine don’t have any horrible sultanas in,” said Sophie, reaching across towards the plate. “I can’t tell which ones are which.”

“Here you go, Soph, this one has chocolate in. Look, it’s all melted on the side,” said Celesca, handing the little cake over with a kind-eyed smile.

“Mmmm, delicious,” said Sophie, cramming half the cake into her mouth in one go.

“See, Mummy,” said Celesca proudly. “I was the best tadpole, and the best egg…and the best little sister ever.”

And, as the three Potter ladies sat and ate their lovely little Welsh Cakes, as they waited for the Longbottoms to arrive, none of them were going to disagree with that.

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