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Chapter Four: The Order Induction

The couple made their way through the very familiar corridors to the Grand Staircase and caught the moving stairs up to the fifth floor where the Headmistress’ office was still located. Before they could get there though, they were stopped by a familiar red-head bounding down the hallway towards them.

“Hermione! “Mione, wait!” Ginny Weasley called as she bounced excitedly towards the couple. When she reached them she immediately launched herself at Hermione, giving her a fierce, rib-cracking hug.

“What are you doing her ‘Mione?” Ginny asked, breaking away from her embrace. She turned to Draco and nodded curtly. “Malfoy.”

“OOP meeting Gin.” Hermione explained, using the code for the Order so that no one could tell what they were talking about.

“Oh, gotcha. Hey come to the common room after okay? I haven’t seen you in awhile and I miss you!” Gin said hopefully.

Hermione glanced at Draco who just looked at her with a neutral expression on his face, probably from the prospect of being in the Gryffindor Common Room.

“We’ll see Gin, depends on what time the meeting is over ‘k?” Hermione said vaguely.

She gave Ginny a quick hug and the couple continued to the gargoyle marking the entrance of the Headmistress’ office. Upon reaching it, however, she suddenly realized that she had no clue what the password was but luckily, though she should have expected it from all the times it had happened before, the gargoyle sprung to life on it’s own, allowing the couple to enter the spiral staircase to McGonagall’s office. Rapping lightly on the hard wood door, they entered and were greeted by a smiling McGonagall who motioned for them to sit down.

“Well Miss Granger, Mr. Malfoy. To what do I owe this surprise? It’s not often my top students come back so soon after graduation to visit.” McGonagall smiled at the former students. “Is this about the recent letter I sent you about the open position?”

“Actually Professor,” Hermione began.

“Please, Miss Granger, I am no longer your teacher so you can simply call me Minerva.” McGonagall interjected.

“Um, alright, well Minerva,” Hermione began again. “ Actually I’ve, I mean we’ve, decided that due to recent um discoveries, it would be best if I held off a position like this until next year.” Hermione let her eyes wander a bit, not wanting to look her former professor in the eye in case she asked what the discoveries were exactly. Unfortunately, Hermione’s allusiveness didn’t work on the elder professor.

“You do realize what an honor this is, Miss Granger? It’s not very often when we give such a position to a recent graduate…even one with your extraordinary credentials.” McGonagall asked, slightly taken aback at Hermione’s words.

“Yes, I do. And I am honored, really I am. But it’s just not something I can commit to fully until next year.” Hermione tried to explain as vaguely as possible. She wasn’t quite ready to tell anyone about her condition.

“I’m sorry Miss Granger, but could you please tell me why you would turn down such an explosive opportunity? There must be a very good reason for it one would think.”

Hermione looked at Draco who gave her a reassuring smile, silently telling her to go ahead and tell McGonagall the news. Hermione glared at him slightly and took a deep breath.

“Well, you see, I’ve recently found out that we’re, um,” Hermione stuttered, not really wanting to tell her.

“We’ve discovered that Hermione is having a baby, Minerva.” Draco jumped in, smiling broadly and earning a deep glare from his fiancé. He simply smiled back at her and continued. “A little girl due sometime in late April. So you see, Hermione would not even be able to complete this year of work and I think, well I hope we both agree, that it would be best for her to focus on the baby this year.”

McGonagall looked back and forth between her two former pupils. Draco looked extremely ecstatic while Hermione looked somewhat solemn about the whole affair, keeping her eyes either on the floor in front of her or wandering around the room avoiding eye contact.

“Well I suppose that congratulations are definitely in order then.” McGonagall said, with a small smile. “I fully understand your situation Miss Granger and I will make sure that you will be first on our list for next year. Now, I believe that you two have a certain meeting to attend?” Both nodded. “Well then, it was a pleasure seeing you both. I hope that you will keep in contact during the next year.” She smiled at them again and the couple rose from their seats and took their leave out the door.

They made their way silently up to the seventh floor where the Room of Requirement was located. Draco and Hermione walked the entire way, him trying to hold her hand while she pulled away silently. She was still upset that he told McGonagall about their pregnancy when she hadn’t even fully grasped it herself yet. She might have taken a back seat for a job that she really had wanted but that didn’t mean she had accepted the fact.

And I’ll be bloody damned if he tells the Order about it. There’s no way they would let me fight and it will be a bloody cold day in hell when she took the back seat for that. She thought bitterly to herself as they came to the door to the Room of Requirement a full fifteen minutes early for the meeting.

Just as she was about to walk through the door, Draco grabbed her elbow gently and pulled her back for a moment.

“Mia, honey, what’s wrong? I thought we had decided that it was for the best right now?” He asked her concernedly.

“Yes we decided that, Draco, but that didn’t mean you had to go and tell McGonagall I was pregnant! I was gonna just make up some excuse and tell her later….when I was ready to tell people!” She hissed back at him, pulling her arm from his hold.

“Are you ashamed of being pregnant, Hermione? Because you are definitely not acting like someone who is at all happy with the predicament.” Draco shot back at her, giving her a look mixed with curiosity and mild resentment.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “No, dear, I’m not ashamed of it. I’m just not fully accepting it yet. Its quite a bit to handle you know? I don’t like anyone dictating what I can and can’t do and it’s just a bit strange for me. So, can you please just keep your mouth shut about our little ‘surprise’ until I’m ready to tell people? Okay?” She told him pointedly, crossing her arm defensively across her chest in a very Hermione-like way. Draco simply sighed and placed his hands on her shoulders lovingly.

“Okay, no problem honey. If you aren’t ready to tell people yet then I’ll support your decision. Okay? Mia?” Draco said, leaning his forehead on hers and looking into her honey eyes.

“Hermione! Malfoy.” a voice sounded behind the couple. They turned to see who was calling and saw Ron’s red head walking briskly towards them. Hermione immediately left Draco’s side and practically jumped into Ron’s open arms.

Ron Weasley had been spending the summer training with the Chudley Cannons, a dream come true for the redheaded boy. He had written to Hermione a few weeks prior telling her that he was up for a possible Keeper position with his favorite team. She could almost hear the excitement in his voice as she read the letter. Ron had grown into quite a good looking young man from the gangly boy she’d grew up with. His red hair was almost as long as his brother, Bill’s was and he had it pulled back in short ponytail just as Bill always wore it. His frame was sturdier now, having spent many grueling hours training in the past few months. He stood roughly six foot even, which was a couple inches taller than Draco himself and it thrilled Ron to no extent to finally be able to look down at Malfoy.

Ron still loathed the fact that Hermione was with Malfoy. He would never understand nor would he ever fully trust the blond haired ex-Slytherin. He had always believed, well except for the brief period in sixth year when he dated her himself, that she would end up getting married, having kids and growing old with Harry. And even now, with Harry gone, Ron just could see Hermione with anyone else…let alone the blond ferret.

The three walked into the room together, noticing that while they were still a few minutes early, the room was already full with Order members. Walking to the front of the room with Ron by her side, Hermione sat down in the chair next to what was once Harry’s chair on the right side of the long table that was in the middle of the room. Draco sat down a little ways from the duo, not wanting to intrude. He knew, from as long as he’d been working with the Order at least, that Harry, Ron, and Hermione always sat in the three seats at the front of the table. They’d have only three meetings since Harry’s death the previous February, but no one had yet dared to sit in his old chair…

Probably just scared that the rest of the Golden Trio will hex them into oblivion if they tried. Draco snickered to himself as he took a seat a little further down the table.

Finally about ten moments later, Remus Lupin took his seat at the top of the table, bringing the meeting to order. He and some of the older members discussed a few normal items, nothing to drastic, and then it was time for the main reason for the meeting. Standing up once again and holding up a hand to silence the room, he nodded towards Tonks who immediately went to the corner cabinet to retrieve something.

“Okay, most of you already know what today’s real meeting reason is, but there are those of you for whom it was planned a surprise. We were planning to do this back in June but because of not-so-recent events, we decided to postpone.” Remus told them. Most of the actual members nodded and several even smiled.

This made Hermione and Ron look around the room curiously and anxiously. ( A/N: You see, Hermione, Ron, Neville, Draco, and a couple other recent graduates were not actually ‘members’ of the Order yet, they worked for them yes, but had not been given their oaths---yes they have oaths in my story lol).

Tonks returned to the table, now standing beside Remus, an exquisitely crafted wooden box in her hands. The box was small, only about the size of a modest book and contained no keyholes and a very detailed and elegant picture of a phoenix on it’s top. Remus nodded towards Tonks and she placed the box on the table in front of him, causing a look to be cast between Ron and Hermione who were right beside him (well almost right beside, save the empty chair that belonged to Harry).

“Tonight belongs to our newest members. Unfortunately not all of the younger ‘members’ will be getting inducted this evening but that is mainly due, not to loyalty or anything extreme, but simply because they have not been here long enough.” Remus said, looking pointedly at Draco and a surprising person stashed towards the back of the room, Blaise Zabini. Hermione looked at Draco down the table with the obvious question in her eyes: Where the bloody hell did Blaise come from? Draco simply shrugged and Hermione turned her attention back to Remus.

“May I ask that Neville Longbottom, Ronald Weasley,” The rest of the Weasley gang that was there beamed. “and Hermione Granger please join me up here at the front of the room?” The three friends looked at each other, smiled, then rose from their seats and joined Remus standing at the front of the table. Turning once to look at the former students, he focused back on the rest of the room and continued his speech.

“These three students have been working very loyally with us since their fifth year at Hogwarts. Since that time, they have engaged in battle with us several times and gone through extraordinary circumstances to do whatever they needed to do to accomplish their goals. At the age of fifteen,” Hermione ‘ahemed’ in the form of a small cough behind Remus.

“Excuse me, at the age of fifteen and sixteen, these three, along with fellow students Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley who are still in their seventh year at Hogwarts, broke into the Department of Mysteries and fought off a large handful of Death Eaters single handedly to keep a certain invaluable artifact from reaching the hands of Voldemort.

“Since that time, this group has gone through many obstacles, including another rather heated battle taking place right here at Hogwarts the end of their sixth year,” Draco slouched down lower in his chair and looked very ashamed at the mention of that. “and still managed to get through their final years and pass with flying colors. Now a little about each member as they each step forward to receive their oaths.”

The room applauded politely, well all except for the Weasley brothers at the other end of the table who were cheering for their little brother and practically adopted sister. As soon as they quieted down, Remus called each of the former students to him one at a time, starting with Neville Longbottom.

“Neville has gone through a drastic change in his life over the past few years. His parents were taken from him when he was only but an infant but he has never allowed that to consume his life. He has grown into a very talented young wizard, mastering the arts of Herbology and History, two very valuable assets to us as a group.” Remus went on for another moment before giving Neville the oath of the Order to which he wholeheartedly accepted.

The ceremony went on for another ten minutes while Remus called up Ron and spoke the words about him and he took his oath as well. The Weasley brothers could be seen beaming proudly while Remus listed off his accomplishments and such. Then came the final induction of the night, Hermione. She suddenly felt her heart leap into her throat. She had been waiting for this moment for the past two years and couldn’t help but to shed a couple joyous tears as Remus got to her.

“And finally, Miss Hermione Granger. I think it is safe to assume that this young lady has accomplished more in her few short years than many of us may have done in our lifetimes. Easily the brightest and most powerful witch to ever grace Hogwart’s halls, the former Head Girl has overcome many obstacles to get to where she is today. Ever since I met this young lady back in her third year, I saw a bright and exuberant future ahead for her. We all know her as “the brains” of the group that the students here had so nicknamed “The Golden Trio”,” that was it for Hermione, she lost every shred of composure at the “Golden Trio” comment, a loud sob escaping from her throat and her eyes overflowing with tears, along with a few of the other members as well. “It is easily said that she is a very large reason why Voldemort has been kept at bay for these past few years.”

All of a sudden, Hermione was struck with a sickening wave of nausea swelling in her stomach and was forced to tune out the rest of Remus’ speech. One hand unconsciously moved to her stomach while the other instinctively reached up and grabbed a hold of Ron’s arm to steady herself as a small wave of dizziness came over her as well. She dazed herself from the room for a moment and didn’t even notice that Remus was calling her forward to take her oath until she felt Ron shaking her arm slightly. She looked back up and noticed that everyone was looking at her concernedly, especially Draco, but she simply shot them a small smile and repeated her oath with Remus.

When she was done taking the oath, Remus pulled the other two new members up beside Hermione and opened the box that Tonks had fetched for him earlier. Inside was a bright red stone, larger and darker than any ruby Hermione had ever seen. If you looked at it intently, it almost appeared to have small flames dancing inside of it.

Remus took the stone in one hand and raised his wand with his other hand and asked each of the new inductees to turn around and lift their hair off their necks. The three obliged and one by one, he lifted his wand to the nape of their necks and muttering a simple incantation, the stone began glowing a soft flaming glow and they were each sent an electric-like jolt through their bodies as the Phoenix Flame was burned gently into their skin. This left Hermione feeling even fainter than before but she kept her senses and tried to play it off like everything was fine.

The meeting lasted another twenty minutes, with Hermione looking faint and trying to keep the nausea waves from crashing on her. Finally after the meeting ended and everyone was basically milling around conversing, the nausea caught up with her and she dashed from the room at lightening speed, leaving Ron calling after her.

After making it to the nearest bathroom and heaving herself hoarse, she leaned back against the cold stone of the bathroom wall when suddenly she felt a fierce sharp pain in her abdomen like someone stabbing her with a sharp knife. The pain increased to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore and couldn’t move. She screamed out in pain, echoing through the deserted bathroom, the room felt as if it were spinning and before she knew it, she had collapsed against the cold stone floor, her eyes closing from the fatigue of pain.

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