Five minutes later...
Hermione spun in ashy circles as she was expelled from the flames within the large mahogany grate in Dumbledore’s office. She coughed and wiped the soot from her eyes before stepping into the Headmaster’s office.
Dumbledore stood a mere few feet from the fireplace when she stepped out and signaled for her to take a seat in the cushy armchair opposite his desk.
Hermione didn’t know if she was imagining it, but Dumbledore seemed to be a bit less serene than usual. If she didn’t know better, she would say he looked almost anxious.
“Miss Granger…” He began somewhat carefully, “I must admit to you now that, upon receiving your letter earlier this evening, I was quite taken off guard. I must ask you to confirm something for me now…”
“You said in your letter that you have… what was it? ‘A ludicrous, completely unthinkable notion’ that you are… with child? When you say this –”
“What I mean is,” Hermione said hastily, sensing that the Headmaster was uncomfortable and obviously meaning to question her virtue, “there is literally no scientific… medically proven way for me to be … with child.”
“And so, you’re saying that you’re suspicions are strong enough for you to consider there being a magical means for it to be true,” Dumbledore mused softly, “Am I correct?”
“Yes, Sir,” Hermione replied, acutely aware of how ridiculous it all sounded. She could just see it now: Dumbledore bursting out in laughter, calling her a fool and unworthy of attending Hogwarts… She would be sent back to live with her parents, banned to a mere Muggle existence for the rest of her life. Her wand snapped in half…
“Well, Miss Granger, you may very well be correct.”
Hermione stopped fidgeting with the loose thread on her skirt and looked up to meet Dumbledore’s gaze. Did he really just say what I think he said?
Noting he deer-in-the-headlights expression, Dumbledore tried a different approach.
“What I mean to say is, the method you have suggested in your letter as the means of your pregnancy has a very legitimate probability of causing it.”
“A – Are you sure?” she asked, suddenly feeling quite faint.
“I am sure that there was a probability, Miss Granger. I am, in no way, assuring you that it did in fact occur.”
“How do you know it was a probability, Sir?” she asked again, feeling her heartbeat quickening.
“I admit, Miss Granger, that from the moment you recounted your detour on the night Harry defeated Lord Voldemort to me, I took an inordinate amount of interest in the story… I noted right away your intense empathy for the woman you watched die and also the profound way the experience seemed to have affected you.”
Hermione was back to looking at her lap as she recalled her account of the event to Dumbledore. Somehow it all seemed to be more significant now.
“I also took a particular interest in the way you told me what your last words to her were… Do you remember?”
“I promise,” Hermione said softly, “I promised her I would save her child. I promised her that, even though it seemed so absurd… I promised so she could die in peace.”
“You remember very well I see.”
“I had a… flashback, I suppose, to that very moment earlier tonight.”
“When you were contemplating what was happening to you?”
“Yes… right before I wrote the letter to you.”
“You realize the significance of this, do you not Miss Granger?” Dumbledore asked very quietly, looking at her over the tops of his half-moon spectacles.
“I realize,” Hermione started, her throat now uncomfortably tight and her eyes stinging with tears, “that I must have… given her my consent at that moment. She gave her baby to me!”
“Essentially, yes,” Dumbledore said kindly, handing her the box of tissues as her eyes began to leak, “I have only ever read about cases like this, but have never seen one. This ancient magic is known as Phasma Eturnus.”
“Phasma Eturnus?” Hermione asked. Everything was becoming so real. It had seemed foolish to consider this when it had just been her, lying in Ginny’s bedroom and letting her mind go out of control, but now it was Dumbledore telling her these things – she couldn’t not put them off as foolish musings of a naïve teenage girl anymore.
“Yes,” Dumbledore said, proceeding slowly for he sensed that all of this information was greatly overwhelming her, “Its particular branch of magic is greatly unexplored. The last recorded use of Phasma Eturnus was sometime in the 1500’s, when it was essential for the continuance of the wizarding race. There have been no modern cases, however. Needless to say, Miss Granger, if it is proven that Phasma Eturnus is the cause of your pregnancy… Well, you will be given much attention indeed.”
“But, Professor, please! Before we get carried away!” she began, cradling her head in her hands, “I am not positive I am pregnant!”
“That is a very valid point, however, I do think the symptoms you’ve listed in your letter pretty plainly point in that direction… Of course, to be safe, I will arrange an appointment for you with a Healer friend of mine as soon as possible. Hopefully, tomorrow… Although I don’t think she’ll have any qualms over clearing her schedule if I tell her my suspicions concerning the nature of your pregnancy.”
Hermione dropped her head between her knees and breathed deeply. This was all too much for her. Dumbledore seemed entirely too sure of everything he was saying. Wasn’t there some doubt? Some ambiguity? How could he just carry on as though everything was for certain and then have her see a Healer and be told that it was all a false alarm, she just had a touch of the stomach flu! That could still happen! Couldn’t it?
“How… Can you be… so certain?” Hermione asked, taking heavy pauses between words as she caught her breath.
“I’m very sorry, Miss Granger, please don’t mistake me for certain. I am not a trained Healer and I am certainly not an expert in this particular field of magic. What I do have is a strong feeling about this, and my feeling tells me that my suspicions – and your suspicions – are quite right.”
All he has is a feeling? And why is it that I still find myself believing him? Is a feeling enough to go by? Hermione asked herself in rapid succession.
“But why, Professor, would Mary have chosen to enact this ancient form of magic – magic that has not been used in centuries – with me?”
“An excellent question, Miss Granger. One of which I cannot supply an answer. No one, of course, can really know for sure unless they had some sort of mental connection with the woman as she died, and as she made the decision to pass the spirit of her child along into you.”
Hermione nodded and sat in silence for a few moments. She wasn’t really sure what to make of all of this information. It gave a new definition to the word ‘overwhelming’. Mere hours ago she had been a normal witch. Granted she had some issues keeping down her breakfast – or any food for that matter – but she was normal nevertheless.
Now, on the other hand... Now was a different story. Now, there was the definite possibility that she had a baby growing inside of her. A baby that got to be there, not by the normal way that every seventeen-year-old’s parents lectured him or her not to do, but by an ancient magic spell that implanted another woman’s baby’s spirit within her.
A baby inside of her.
“A baby,” Hermione said aloud, breaking the silence with her bordering on hysterically shrill voice. “There is a baby inside of me.”
“Just take a few deep breaths, Miss Granger, you’re alright.”
“No.. No… No… Baby… Not alright…”
Dumbledore walked over to a cabinet holding potion bottles on the opposite wall and pulled out a small blue one. He filled the cap with the liquid substance and handed it to Hermione to drink. She downed it without thinking and then continued on her mindless rant of “No…No…No.”
“Miss Granger, can you hear me?” Dumbledore asked, his face in front of hers.
“Y-Yes,” she replied slowly.
“It’s alright to be shocked. You are actually reacting a lot better than most would in your situation. I think we’ve talked about it enough tonight, however. I’m going to take you back to the Burrow and then explain everything to Molly and Arthur. We’ll go to St. Mungo’s tomorrow and then we’ll get all of our answers.”
“Answers… good…” Hermione replied, as Dumbledore helped her to her feet and over to the fire.
The last thing she remembered that night was Ginny helping her into her pajamas and tucking her into bed. Her dreams were filled with blue-eyed women, asking her things and all she could say in reply was, “I promise, I promise, I promise,” over and over and over again.
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