“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!” Hermione panicked. Fear clutched her heart for a moment as she stared on, now only feeling a little trickle of water down her leg. Then reality set in and Hermione quickly calmed down. She’d read about this after all. She felt a sudden sharp pain in her lower abdomen as if a giant hand was squeezing her. As soon as the blinding pain had come, it was over and Hermione grabbed the chair for support. She felt slightly dizzy and shook her head to clear it.
Hermione grabbed her wand from the table next to her vase of flowers and tapped the ring she was wearing. For a moment the shiny silver merely twinkled back at her, but then it grew red hot and Hermione cursed, imagining Ginny doing the same somewhere inside Hogwarts. She gave the ring a resentful look before she hobbled to her bed and lay down. As she wondered idly how long it would be before her next contraction, she heard running footsteps approaching her door.
“Hermione!” Mrs. Weasley cried, running to said girl’s bedside. She was clutching a large bag and looked rather nervous herself. “Did you have your first contraction yet?” Molly certainly went straight to the point.
“Yes, just about three minutes ago,” Hermione informed Mrs. Weasley.
“Yes, good. Well, where on earth is he?”
“Where is who, Mrs. Weasley?” Hermione inquired, a fleeting panic that Molly had told Draco visiting her.
“Why Albus of course, dear."
Hermione paled. This was not what she had been expecting. “Y-you mean to say that he’s going to…to be here?” she asked faintly.
Molly frowned, as if annoyed by Hermione’s sudden lack of sensibility. “Well of course, dear. Why wouldn’t he be? Albus was the one that signed as your guardian after all.” Muttering about how the place was a mess, Mrs. Weasley began to magic books up to their proper places on their respective shelves, and clean up the puddle of water still trailing to the bed, completely oblivious of the shock written all over Hermione’s face.
Dumbledore signed as my guardian? she thought dazedly. All at once Hermione was touched and yet slightly embarrassed at this fact; not to mention the stirrings of unworthiness that seemed to be rising up in her. “Is this yours dear?” Mrs. Weasley called, holding up the black stuffed dog.
“Yes,” Hermione called weakly, and Molly sent the plushie soaring through the air into Hermione’s outstretched arms. She snuggled into the fluffy animal, the experience bringing her back to her childhood. Yes, a childhood of fairly normal existence, despite the few odd instances of unleashed magic. Indeed, this little cuddly toy seemed to be her only tie to normalacy; after having spent hours in retrospect, Hermione found that her life seemed to have spun wildly out of control. How had she gone from simply trying to make friends in her first year to fighting a horde of Death Eaters in her fifth year? From absolutely loathing Draco to finding herself incomprehensibly in love with him? Surely this was all just some mad dream she had fallen into as she was studying Arithmancy.
But no, Hermione grimaced, clenching her teeth in pain as she contracted once again. This couldn’t be a dream, because surely dreams couldn’t hurt this much.
As the pain of her third contraction receded some twenty minutes later, a quick knock on her door brought Hermione’s attention away from crushing poor Mrs. Weasley’s hand.
Albus Dumbledore let himself into the room, followed by Ginny. “Hermione!” the latter cried, slight panic in her voice and her face set with anxiety.
“So sorry about the delay, Ms. Granger. But I’m sure you know that Professor Snape rather dislikes having his students taken away from his class,” the Headmaster informed, his eyes twinkling good naturedly. "It was really all I could do to take Ginny away before her second hour began."
“Hermione, you gave me such a fright! I was sitting there chopping up my caterpillar when this ring starts burning and I nearly chop my finger off,” Ginny ranted, all a bundle of nerves.
“Yes, well, lets give Hermione some room” Mrs. Weasley said somewhat crossly. “I’ll just make some tea then,” she added as Dumbledore conjured a sofa and two extra armchairs. Pulling up a little wooden chair next to Hermione, he fixed her with an expectant stare, fingers interlaced patiently.
Hermione sighed, knowing without even being told what the wizened old man was on about. “I know Headmaster. And yes, I have been thinking it over—quite a few more times than necessary I’m sure.” Here Hermione hesitated, glancing down at her stomach before looking back up into Dumbledore’s eyes, searching them for any trace of disappointment before continuing. “But I’ve decided that maybe it’ll be best to just not tell him. After all, it would only serve to add more burdens on him, and add to the list of reasons why he ought to be hunted down.”
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and stared at the woman before him for a few moments. Albus’ eyes took on a look as of one concentrating very hard on a certain problem that has been bothering one for a while. With a slight nod of his head, Dumbledore have her a small smile. “Well, Hermione, I can certainly understand. But remember, the option of telling him is always there, should you feel the need.”
Hermione nodded her understanding. She smiled faintly as an image of Draco playing with and fussing over their child came unbidden into her mind. She imagined the child with brown hair like hers, and brown eyes; they were dominant alleles after all. But the daydream shattered as she looked ahead and saw a scene not unlike the death of Lily and James, except with Draco and herself in their position. Hermione clenched her teeth and thought savagely, I’ll never let that happen.
Hermione contracted again and felt a few tears of pain escape her as the poor girl whimpered her discomfort. Mrs. Weasley rushed over and smoothed out Hermione’s hair and fussed over her a bit. “And it’s not even the worst part,” Molly sighed. “Now where on Earth are those Healers? She’s due any minute.”
In seeming response to Mrs. Weasley’s concern, a team of three Healers in lime green robes entered the room. They were all women and friendly looking. Upon scrutinizing them, Hermione determined that one of the Healers seemed vaguely familiar, but waved it off as having seen her here when she had come to St. Mungo’s previously as her contractions started to come closer together. She broke out in a sweat from the effort she was exerting in an attempt to obey the head Healer’s orders when to breathe and when to push.
“That’s it, dear, just keep pushing,” came Mrs. Weasley’s soothing voice as she gripped Hermione’s hand. Albus was busy walking about the place and transforming various objects into baby toys and such objects while Ginny kept pacing up and down the same four feet at the head of Hermione’s bed. Clearly both the Headmaster and the redhead weren’t sure how to deal with their nervousness.
Just as Mrs. Weasley turned about to snap at the other two to sit down or else leave the room, Hermione’s cry was coupled with another one. The young woman lay panting on the bed as the healers went about cleaning up the baby and taking it’s measurements.
Mrs. Weasley was all tears and kisses and was sure to cover Hermione’s face with both. Ginny went and hugged her friend, all a loss of what to say. It was Dumbledore, however, who glided over to the new mother and smiled gently at her. He bent over and placed the little bundle in Hermione’s outstretched arms.
Hermione stared down into the sleeping face of her child, commiting every little detail to memory. Brown hair, just as Hermione thought. She couldn’t tell about the eyes, though; her child was sleeping peacefully in her arms. “Is it a boy or girl?” Hermione asked softly, not taking her eyes off her child. But then Ginny slumped down beside her and Hermione snapped her head up, her right arm reaching over to grasp her wand.
Standing before her was the Healer she thought she recognized earlier, wand pointed straight at Dumbledore. Hermione stared wildly at the woman for a minute before it hit her; Alecto Carrow. Hermione recalled seeing her and her brother in the Daily Prophet as known murderers and Voldemort’s faithful supporters. But before either Hermione or Al;ecto could react, Dumbledore tightly bound the Death Eater with thin, silver ropes. He strode over to her and stared into Alecto’s eyes as she struggled to look away. Legilimency, Hermione thought automatically. With a sharp look around, Dumbledore raised his wand again. “Obliviate.”
“We need to place Hermione into hiding, Molly.” At Hermione’s imploring look, Dumbledore gave a terse explanation. “As for now only the Carros know that Hermione has a child. Apparently Amycus shadowed Hermione and Ginny while they were in Hogsmeade and told his sister. Fortunately no one yet knows who the father is. But time is of the essence. Amycus will arrive any moment now and you three must be gone. I will deal with him and his sister. Now Molly—”
“Yes. Aunt Muriel has more than enough room and she’s been under the Fidelius charm for some time now. Hermione dear, I do hate to do this, but Albus is right. You must go for now, at least until this ordeal is dealt with.”
Hermione glanced over at Ginny who was being revived by Dumbledore, and tears rushed to her eyes. This was all so unfair! She couldn’t be with Draco, she couldn’t tell him about their child, and she couldn’t even have five moment’s peace with her newborn without it being marred by the threat of death. The tears now turned to angry ones, and Hermione did the best she could to keep her face from contorting with rage. She looked down at the baby sleeping peacefully in her arms, as of yet unmarred by any of the cruelties of life. What about school? What about helping Harry in his search for the Horcruxes? Why did everything have to go so wrong? Hermione gently kissed her child, a few teardrops betraying her and splashing onto her child’s face.
“I—“ Hermione began, her voice cracking. She cleared it before she attempted speaking again. “I understand. Let’s go.” Hermione grabbed the stuffed dog and gripped her wand tightly. She shot a scathing look at Alecto who was still unconscious on the floor, mustering all the hate and resentment she could feel into that one look. A soft melodious note resounded throughout the air, and Hermione felt her rancor melt away. Within a moment a scarlet bird glided into the room and landed softly on Dumbledore’s arm. He whispered to it gently and then turned to the three women.
“Fawkes will take you there, as it seems rather unfit to traumatize a newborn with Apparition,” Dumbledore informed them. “Now, quickly.” And he hastened towards them with purposeful steps, and every soft pad the Headmaster’s feet made resounded through Hermione as though it were the knell of despair. Hermione struggled up from the bed, an amazing feat for her, as the exhaustion of giving birth was still fresh upon her. She clung onto Ginny for support as Mrs. Weasley clutched her daughter’s hand, and with a final look at Dumbledore, Molly grabbed the Phoenix’s tail and, in a flash of fire, they were gone.
“What do you mean she’s in hiding now?” Ron roared, his contempt for the Headmaster clearly written on his face.
Dumbledore merely held up a hand to quite the enraged man before him. “Yes, Mr. Weasley, just as I said. All that I can tell you is that as of right now Ms. Granger is in terrible danger, and the only way to keep her safe is to have her hidden.”
“Well, aren’t you at least going to tell us where she is?” Ron demanded, his face scarlet from the emotions he was trying to suppress in an attempt to keep his tone respectful.
But Harry grabbed Ron’s arm and forced him to sit down. “Listen, Ron. Maybe it’s better that we don’t know.” At Ron’s incredulous look, Harry went on, “Well, listen mate, any number of things could go wrong. What if one of us accidentally told one of the Death Eaters something, some bit of information that might lead to them going after not only Hermione but someone else close to us?” Ron still looked mutinous, so Harry grit out, “Pettigrew, remember.”
At the mention of the name, Ron immediately slumped down in his chair, defeated. He looked wearily from Dumbledore to Harry and asked, “And what about the hunt for the Horcruxes?”
“Listen, Ron, about that—”
“Oh, no Harry. We’ve been through this a million times. Just ‘cause Hermione isn’t going to be with us, doesn’t mean I won’t be there. We’re best mates, and there is no way I would leave you, not now.”
“Ron, it’s dangerous—”
“And being part of a blood traitor family isn’t? It’s already a known fact that I’m your best friend, I doubt I would be any worse off if I was there to help you out,” Ron interrupted.
Harry hesitated. He knew it was true, of course; he would love to have Ron accompany him and help him out, not to mention he would be in dire need of encouraging company. At last the raven-haired boy sighed and nodded his head. He gave Ron a weak smile unable to tell him in words just how much he appreciated redhead’s friendship.
There was knock at Dumbledore’s door and the Headmaster called for the person to enter. “Oh, sorry, I’ll come back later then,” Draco said quickly, spotting Harry and Ron in the office.
“Not at all. We have just finished up. Harry, Ron,” Dumbledore said pleasantly. The three boys passed by each other with imperceptible nods of acknowledgement. Dumbledore sighed heavily as Draco sat down, knowing he was in for quite the storm. And indeed he was correct.
“What? Where? Since when? Can I visit her? Where is she? Answer me!” Draco’s torrent went on for a full two minutes before Dumbledore could get the pale boy to calm down.
“I understand your concern, Mr. Malfoy, but I simply cannot tell you where she is.”
“You don’t understand, though! I need to see her—I love her!” Draco burst out, and immediately shrank back, shocked at his blatant confession.
Dumbledore sighed wearily and ran a hand down his face, his lines and age more prominent now than ever before. “Yes, I know,” he answered quietly.
“You don’t understa—what?” Draco asked, caught off guard by the Headmaster’s response.
“I know very well, Mr. Malfoy. Ms. Granger has told me so on many occasions herself,” Dumbledore reiterated, staring sadly at the boy before him.
Draco fell back into the chair across from the Headmaster, trying to absorb everything. So Hermione had told Dumbledore. Had she told Potter and Weasley as well? Draco knew full well that Ginny knew, but doubted that she would tell anyone. To think, he wouldn’t see Hermione for Merlin knows how long. Draco brought a hand to his forehead, dread and hopelessness filling him. How long would it be till he saw her face again? If only he had…
“Mr. Malfoy? Draco?” Dumbledore’s voice broke through the Slytherin’s thoughts, soft and sorrowful. He was holding something out to Draco, a rectangular something.
Draco took it in his hands and felt his heart swell. Wild mahogany hair and warm chocolate eyes stared back at him. A photograph. Draco looked back up at his Headmaster, not caring about the tears swimming in his eyes. He searched those shiny blue eyes for any emotion of disgust, disbelief, disapprobation, but only saw sadness and understanding reflected back at him. Hastily wiping his eyes on his sleeve, Draco carefully placed the photograph of Hermione in his robe’s pocket and cleared his throat. “Do you know when I will see her again?”
Those three words. Those three words that Draco had hoped against all hope not to hear. Those three words that resounded despairing times and an eternity of painful hoping only to be let down. “I don’t know.”
A/N: So sorry for the long wait! I’d been trying to write this up, and only now decided who cares about homework, and did so. The story is fast approaching it’s close, now, and then I’ll be finishing up Hollow Tears. Honestly, I don’t know where I get these titles! I’m also messing with ideas of a Hermione going to the Marauders Era, but I don’t want it to be typical and just like everyone elses…it’s been haunting me, so expect one of those sometime, maybe this summer. I love you my readers and reviewers! Also, sorry to do this, but there was one response to a review that got cut off, and so if this happens again in the future, just look out for it after my note!
Becky!! I so remember you!! <333 I'm so incredibly sorry about abandoning it forever! "hides in shame" Oh yay!! You returned! Yes, yes. Draco...I dunno, I sort of feel like I'm making him a typical "I'm in love with Hermione" way, you know. I'm trying my best though, I don't want to be too much like everyone else..! Yes yes I so agree. Draco is indeed rather charming, no? XD
Thank you! Hermione is going through some stuff, I sure as heck wouldn't be too composed! But she's Hermione, and well, she can deal. I mean, she'd only faced horrible monsters while hanging out with Harry, what else would really give her a scare? :p
Well, thank you so incredibly much for checking up on it! I promise you I won't abandon it for another year... Thank you again!! <333
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