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“Now then, all of you have a good year.  Harry, dear, do take care.  Ron make sure you pass your classes.  Ginny…have a good term dear.  Oh, Hermione, a quick word,” Mrs. Weasley said as the others began to walk away and board the train.  Hermione walked towards Mrs. Weasley slowly, aware that every time she moved, the baby shifted uncomfortably within her.  Mrs. Weasley glanced around quickly before removing her wand and waving it over Hermione’s stomach.  There was an odd, tingling sensation there, but even as she looked down, Hermione could still decipher the bulge from beneath her overlarge robe.

     “Mrs. Weasley, what--?”

     “Just a concealing spell, dear.”  When Hermione continued to look confused, she added, “So that unless the person knows you’re...well, anyway, that way no one else will be able to tell.”  Hermione looked exactly as grateful as she felt.  At least now she wouldn’t have to put up with other girls teasing her about her weight gain; she’d already gotten enough suspicious looks from the other Weasleys and Harry already.

     “Mrs. Weasley--”  But Hermione was interrupted by the blow of the train’s whistle.

     “Listen dear, I know that you do not want to, but you have to tell Dumbledore.  It’s really all that you can do.  I was able to help you at home, but now you’ll be at school and, well, you just have to Hermione.  You have to.”  Mrs. Weasley put particular emphasis on those last three words.

     Hermione nodded numbly.  Of course she would.  She’d known this for some time.  If only she was as close to Dumbledore as Harry is.  “I will…Mrs. Weasley…thanks.”  And Mrs. Weasley pulled her into an embrace, and then shoved her off, wiping her eyes.  Hermione jumped onto the slowly moving train, thankful that Harry and Ron had put away her trunk and took Crookshanks for her.  Hermione took a deep, steadying breath.  Draco would be on this train.  And Draco did not know.  Hermione gulped.  She’d have to talk to Dumbledore first.  He’d know what to do.  If anyone other than Draco found out…If Voldemort found out…Hermione shook her head.  She’d make sure that would never happen.

     It had happened before she knew it: Someone had grabbed her and pulled her into an empty compartment, slamming her against the wall.  “You think you’re so great.”  It was a girl’s voice.  Whispering though she was, the screechy tone was unmistakable.  “Well, I’m telling you now, you better stay away from Draco.”  Hermione felt her robe slide away from her stomach and was gladder than ever of that concealment charm.  She could feel Pansy’s wand poking her chest, and she didn’t like it one bit.  Hermione could see the ugly pug face glaring at her from the shadows.  Slowly Hermione slid out her wand from her pocket, but even before she had time to think of a good hex, the compartment door burst open, and Pansy was shot backwards. 

     “Touch her again and I’ll make sure you’ll be calling the Hospital Wing your second home by the end of the week.”

     And there he was, and Hermione’s heart danced.  Draco and Ginny stood in the doorway of the compartment, both of their wands raised.  “But Drakie…” One cold glare from him sent Pansy scurrying from the compartment.  Instantly Hermione was in his arms again, and Draco was kissing her all over her face and stroking her hair, and it was as though no time had passed at all.  Those three long, lonely months had never happened, and there was no way possible that she was seven months pregnant.  Only when the compartment door slid shut and Ginny cleared her throat did they break apart, gazing at each other as if the other was all they would ever need.. 

     “Hermione,” Ginny began, staring pointedly at her stomach.  But Hermione shook her head and shot Ginny a warning glance.  Ginny peeked out through the curtains and immediately shut them again.  “They’re looking for you, Hermione.” 

     Hermione shot a despairing look at Draco before muttering, “Find me later,” kissing him on the lips again and following Ginny out of the compartment.  Draco stood there, his lips still tingling, longing coursing through his body.  She had been there for a brief few moments.  Hermione, his Hermione.  Draco shut the curtains on the window and sat down in the darkness of the compartment.  There was something definitely different in Hermione’s manner.  He was sure she had never held that much tenderness for him before.  Was it simply because of the long summer?  Or was it something more?  And what was with Ginny’s pointed look at Hermione’s stomach.  Surely if she’d been pregnant, he’s have been able to feel, to tell.  There’s no way Hermione wouldn’t have told him.  And besides, she didn’t look a gram bigger than before summer break.  Although, Draco thought, grinning happily, he did rather like the increased of size of her breasts.

     “Hermione, why didn’t you tell him?” Ginny hissed at the girl next to her, trying not to attract too much attention.

     “Because Ginny…because!”  Hermione didn’t want to explain herself; she thought it should be obvious.  “I’m going to talk to Dumbledore first.”  And with that, Hermione pulled open a compartment door and sat herself down opposite of Harry.  Ginny should know that if anyone other than Draco found out she’d be putting not only him but also the baby in great danger.  Hermione glared out the window and watched the landscape flying past.  Of course no one understood; none of her friends had gone through what she was currently going through. 

     “Hermione?  Hermione!”  Harry’s voice snapped Hermione out of her reverie, and her gaze softened as she looked upon the boy across from her.  “I was asking if you’d finished your Transfiguration essay and would you mind looking over mine?”  Harry and Ron had importuned Hermione all summer to help them with their homework, and only now did she defer to their pleas.  In any case, she would be saved from talking too much if she was going over their homework. 

     Grinning slightly, she held out her hand.  “And let me borrow your quill while I’m at it.”  Both Ron and Harry were more than happy to comply.

     Having grazed all day during the train ride, Hermione wasn’t quite as ravenous as she usually was during the welcoming feast.  She sipped some pumpkin juice and nibbled on steamed vegetables as she watched her best friends gorge themselves on the array of foods at their disposal.  Being in her final year at Hogwarts seemed to make her the top dog.  Not that she had ever much cared about the younger students’ opinions of her, but this year she was particularly relieved to be a seventh year. 

     Hermione waited patiently all throughout the feast, and swore she saw Dumbledore glance in her direction more often than necessary.  He must know, Hermione thought glumly.  He’s brilliant; he knows everything.  “Ron, you’ve just put your elbow in the pudding.”  Hermione passed the red head a napkin and he grinned at her through a mouthful of strawberry tarts.  All too soon dinner was over, and the students were shuffling about, trying to follow the prefects.

     “Ms. Granger, a moment if you please.”  The soft yet strangely acute voice was unmistakable.  Hermione waved off the other two and turned around with a great feeling of dread.  The crowd seemed to part like the sea for Dumbledore as Hermione followed him to his office.  “Bubble gum,” the headmaster told the gargoyle who immediately bounded out of the way.  Hermione was silent all the way up the stairs and through the door until she sat down in the chair across from Dumbledore.

     The old man interlocked his fingers and looked at her over the rim of his half-moon spectacles.  Hermione suddenly realized how uncomfortable she was feeling.  New feelings seemed to erupt inside her as she stared back into Dumbledore’s piercing blue eyes…fear, shame, and guilt even.  “Professor, I—do you know, then?”

     Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and considered the girl before him very seriously.  “Let’s just say that a little bird informed me of it this afternoon.  Or rather, an old, tired owl,” he responded, gesturing over at Fawkes’ stand where the Weasleys’ owl, Errol, was sleeping.  “Now, before we talk, I must tell you Ms. Granger, that you need not tell me everything that has happened.  Only how I may help you.”

     Hermione considered things for a while before speaking up again.  “What will I tell the others who ask me why I wear such large clothes?”

     “Why, my dear girl, tell them you are bringing back the fashion of my era when one not wearing such large clothing was certainly fashion-impaired.”

     Hermione smiled in spite of herself.  “Sir, also…what will I do when…well, you know.  In two months?”

     “Ah,” Dumbledore contemplated aloud.  “That is a question indeed.”  After a while of considering this, Dumbledore asked her, “You still recall how you made those charming Dumbledore’s Army coins, I’m sure?”  Hermione nodded.  “Wonderful.  You are a brilliant girl.”  Dumbledore opened one of his drawers and took out a several of rings.  “Now then, if you would be so kind as to charm these rings the same way you did those coins, whenever you need to reach me or must be excused from whatever it is you are doing, merely activate the ring so that it warms my finger, and I shall be sure to help you.” 

     Hermione did as she was told.  “Professor, who are the other rings for?” she asked, indicating the other two rings on the table. 

     “Why, Molly of course.”  Dumbledore paused for a fraction of a second before adding, “And Mr. Malfoy, if you decide to tell him.” 

     Hermione nodded.  After a moments hesitation, “I don’t think I will just yet.  But may I keep it, sir, in case I decide to?”

     Dumbledore smiled kindly at the girl.  “Certainly.  Now, I’ll make sure this ring gets to Molly, and you make sure you are well rested for tomorrow.”  Dumbledore nodded at Hermione as she paused by the door to his office.

     “Thank you, Professor.”

     Hermione made her way slowly to the Common Room.  In all honesty, she wanted nothing more than to run into Draco’s arms and tell him, and indeed she was considering it.  Then Hermione felt the weight of the silver ring in her pocket and shook the silly idea out of her head.  A step behind her had Hermione pulling out her wand and whipping around to face whoever it was. 

     “Geez, Hermione, it’s only me.”  Harry stared pointedly at her wand until Hermione stowed the lethal weapon.

     “I’m sorry, Harry.  I’ve just been a bit on edge lately,” Hermione sighed. 

     “Well, I was just looking for you so that you’d know the new password.”

     “Harry, I’m Head Girl; of course I know the password.”

     “All right,” Harry conceded.  Hermione waited, knowing full well that Harry would explain himself if she was silent.  “It’s just that I’m tired of all the talk about Voldemort and all.  It seems that’s all anyone talks about anymore.”

     Hermione nodded and glanced at the boy next to her.  Harry seemed tired, more so than ever.  Hermione wondered briefly if she looked like that herself.  “I’ll always be here for you, Harry,” she told him, grabbing his hand and guiding him along.  “You know that I’d never leave you.”  Hermione had an odd feeling in her chest, as though she’d said something wrong.  But she shook her head and continued to walk with Harry.  Of course she’d never leave Harry; she just hoped that the baby would be born by the time she had to truly stay at his side.  As she neared the portrait of the Fat Lady, Hermione swore she saw a cloak whip around the corner.  “You go on, Harry.  I just want to ask Professor Flitwick about one of his spells,” Hermione lied.

     As Harry disappeared into the portrait, Hermione turned the corner.  All at once she was enveloped in such a warm embrace that tears sprang to her eyes.  Hermione hugged Draco back fiercely, and didn’t even let go when his hold on her slackened.  Hermione’s senses soon came back to her.  She shouldn’t even be seeing Draco like this, what if someone caught them.  For a moment, Hermione almost let her recklessness take over, before she quickly squelched that feeling.  How could she escape from Draco but not seem as though she didn’t love him still.  “Listen, I need to talk—” Hermione kissing him cut off Draco.

     “Draco, I can’t right now.  I just sent Harry inside, and he and Ron will both be wondering what I’m asking, talking to ‘Professor Flitwick’ for so long.”  At Draco’s contemptuous look, Hermione gave him another kiss to thwart his argument that she should stay. 

     But Draco was not to be so easily shrugged off and cornered her against the wall as she attempted to leave.  “Yeah, but how often does a chance like this come along?” he murmured.  “They both know you like to talk anyway,” Draco replied, as he lowered his head towards Hermione.  The latter closed her eyes and let herself be captured in this moment.  But then she felt again the silver ring weighing down her pocket as though it was some great sin, and she broke away. 

     At Draco’s dismayed look, Hermione gave him another quick kiss.  “Later.”  And Hermione hurried down the hall and turned the corner.  By the time Draco had followed her, Hermione had already disappeared through the portrait hole.

A/N:  Oh, look at that!  I actually updated.  After, what, a year?  I know the story is a bit weird, after all, Hermione's nearly due, shouldn't it be ovious by now?  Well, hope you'll bear with it in any case.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Please do tell me what you think.  :]

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