“So, Hermione, I believe you’ve been informed as to why you’ve been recommended to see me – ”
“Yes, but I don’t believe it’s a very good explanation,” interjected Hermione.
After a slightly peculiar interaction with her Healer, Astrid Vance, during her prior visit, Hermione had received a letter recommending she pay visit to one Norman Tottle, a Healer specializing in unusual mental stress. Astrid believed Hermione needed assistance in coping with her unique predicament.
“I believe Astrid told me you were short with her and appeared, on a whole, incredibly frustrated,” blathered Norman Tottle as he looked through his spectacles at what she supposed was her “chart”.
“Yes, well, I was a little frustrated at that point,” conceded Hermione. “Are you really trying to tell me it’s wrong for me to be frustrated at times with what I’m going through?”
“Well, no – ”
“Because you do realize that I am miraculously carrying another woman’s child and, oh, by the way, I’m only eighteen? Do you realize that?” Hermione’s voice had grown quite high-pitched with her mounting irritation.
Mr. Tottle sighed, “I guess I can understand what Astrid was saying.”
Hermione blushed and furrowed her brows.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Tottle,” she began pragmatically, “Really, I am. You just have to understand where I’m coming from. I don’t much feel like being talked down to at the moment. And that’s all I feel I’m getting… from everyone.”
“Even from your friends, Miss Granger?” he asked curiously, “How many, may I ask, know about your pregnancy?”
“Well there’s Harry, Ron and Ginny… Ginny’s fine – a good kick of reality – but Ron and Harry give a new meaning to the word over-protective.”
“And those are the only fellow students who know?” prompted Mr. Tottle.
“No, there’s also Malfoy,” Hermione added shortly.
“And? How does he treat you?”
Hermione thought about that question for a second. “Normally, I suppose. Like he’s always treated me… but different somehow.”
“How did he treat you before?”
“Oh,” snorted Hermione, “Well, we were never the greatest of friends. In fact, it wouldn’t be too dramatic to call us enemies for many years. His pet name for me used to be ‘Mudblood’; isn’t that lovely?”
Norman Tottle raised his eyebrows for her to continue.
“But that stopped this year,” she continued, “Now he just teases me. It’s not too bad though. I get in my own jabs at him so it’s alright.”
“So Mr. Malfoy doesn’t bother you about your pregnancy like, er, Harry and Ron?” asked Mr. Tottle, referring to his notes.
“Yeah,” said Hermione absently, “He doesn’t bother me one bit…”
* * *
As the thirty-first drew nearer, Hogwarts found itself in the midst of Halloween preparation. As Head Boy and Girl, Draco and Hermione were in charge of such things as decorating the Great Hall, supervising the Halloween feast organization, and making sure Hagrid didn’t overdue it on the bats and pumpkins.
The Great Hall was quite a sight to be seen. It was Friday afternoon, one week from Halloween, and both Heads could be found standing atop the House tables, directing fellow prefects as they magically maneuvered decorations.
“A little higher, Stewart,” implored Hermione from her perch as a young Ravenclaw levitated a cluster of orange candles in the air.
“Bloody hell, Summers! What do you think you’re doing?! Higher!” roared Draco from another table.
Hermione turned around sharply to glare at him. He gave her a cheeky smile and she turned swiftly away once more.
The two hadn’t spoken once since the incident in Hogsmeade. Hermione wasn’t feeling very forgiving. He had seen her in her undergarments after all. She shuddered at the memory of it.
Climbing carefully down from the table, Hermione walked over to a large box of autumn leaves she had had collected for decorating purposes.
“You’re not speaking to me, I take it,” whispered Malfoy behind her.
She inhaled sharply. “No, I am not, and it’s working out quite wonderfully so why don’t we keep it up?”
“Come on, Granger, I’m sorry,” he pleaded. “All this silence is infuriating!”
“Well, to me, it’s refreshing,” she said wickedly, throwing him one of his usual smirks.
“Oh, don’t play that card! I know you miss me –”
“I most certainly do not!” she cried.
“Yes, you do. And you know it was an accident! I didn’t plan for it to end up like that… for me to see you –”
“Stop,” she said, closing her eyes and holding up a hand, “I would rather not relive the embarrassment.”
She grabbed a handful of leaves and stalked off. Malfoy, ever persistent, followed her.
“You have nothing to be embarrassed about, really,” he spoke smoothly in her ear. “Now, don’t get your knickers in a twist, but I’d just like to say you looked pretty damn good, in my opinion.”
Hermione turned a vibrant shade of scarlet and spun around.
“If you think you can just come smooth talking your way out of the doghouse, you’re very wrong!”
Malfoy smiled crookedly, “Glad this is all behind us. See you later, Granger.”
Hermione squinted incredulously at his receding form and was about to yell after him when Ginny sidled up to her.
“What was that all about?” she asked pointedly.
Still staring angrily after Malfoy, Hermione sighed, “Nothing.”
“That definitely did not look like nothing,” Ginny continued with a mischievous grin. “Come on, Hermione, you can tell me.”
“Not now,” she said quietly, her cheeks pink, “How about you sleep over at my dormitory tonight. I’ll tell you then.”
“Sounds good to me!” replied Ginny cheerfully, “I’ll be over later.”
Hermione nodded as she walked away and then began throwing bunches of her autumn leaves roughly across the tables, fuming at Draco’s behavior.
“Hermione,” said a breathless Parvati Patil, hurrying towards the Head Girl, “I’ve been meaning to tell you something… Oh, hello, Draco.”
Hermione, curious as to what she was about to be made privy to, shot Draco an annoyed glare.
He merely smirked, satisfied.
“Well I was just going to tell you both that, on Halloween, Lavender and I are planning to host a party in the Room of Requirement,” said Parvati with a devious smile. “I hoped you two would agree to come. It’s going to be a smash.”
Hermione opened her mouth to say something, but Draco cut across.
“We’ll be there,” replied Draco silkily, giving Parvati a wink.
“Excellent. The festivities begin at eleven o’clock,” she said, flashing him a smile. “Oh, and don’t forget to wear a costume.”
With that she turned sharply and sashayed away.
“Draco! This is not a good idea!” hissed Hermione the moment her fellow Gryffindor was out of earshot. “We are the Heads. We should report the party to McGonagall.”
“Ooh someone sounds scared,” said Draco, clucking his tongue mockingly.
“I’m not scared,” she replied, blushing at the accusation, “I merely don’t think it’s prudent of us, considering our positions, to promote such blatant rule-breaking!”
“Come off it, a Halloween party is hardly ‘blatant rule-breaking.’”
“It most certainly is!” she replied, quite a bit shriller than she had intended.
Draco surveyed her, eyebrows raised in apparent amusement. “Look, Granger, you’ve got to let loose every once in a while. You can’t always be the ‘Head Girl’ or no one will respect you!”
Hermione’s lips pinched together furiously as, once again, he walked casually away.
Later on that same October evening, Hermione and Ginny were found sprawled out on the Head Girl’s bedroom floor, in front of the large, crackling fire. Ginny had taken it upon herself to pay a visit to the kitchens before heading up and thus arrived with a basket filled with warm plates of nutty fudge, peanut brittle and a thermos of hot cocoa.
They had sat contentedly for a few hours, gossiping about their various classmates and whatnot, staying far away from the topics of conversation that went any deeper.
“Hermione,” began Ginny, somewhat cautiously as she took another bite of fudge, “You haven’t said a word about what’s been going on in your life all evening… I feel like such a bore!”
“Hardly,” Hermione snorted. “It’s actually nice to not have to think about my life for once.”
“Well, sorry love, but I’m going to force you,” said Ginny quite unapologetically. “How are your visits with that Healer going?”
“Fine, I suppose,” Hermione said heavily, “I’ve been recommended to see a psychologist.”
“Ooh dear, what have you done?” Ginny replied with a smile.
“Hah, well I suppose I haven’t started the whole warm, gooey motherly stage yet and they’re wondering why.”
“Hmmph,” snorted Ginny. “I would be perfectly fine if you skipped that stage altogether!”
“Not a problem with me…”
“Have you seen this psychologist yet?
“Yes, yesterday afternoon,” Hermione replied off-handedly. “He was oddly interested in my relationship with Malfoy, to be honest. We talked more about that than the baby!”
“Interesting,” said Ginny, her eyes watching Hermione’s expression.
“Speaking of Malfoy, he must be performing that charm for you because it’s absolutely impossible to tell if you’re pregnant!”
“He is, but,” she scooted over to get a look at the clock on the mantel, “Yeah, the charm will wear off in about half a minute.”
Ginny followed her gaze, “So it’s gone by midnight every night?”
“Yes indeed.” And, with her words, her stomach gave a great pop as her waistline expanded, leaving her with a belly plump with pregnancy.
“Oh my!” cooed Ginny, moving closer to place both hands on Hermione’s middle. “There’s a baby in there!”
“Well done, Ginny, you sure catch on fast,” mocked Hermione with a smile.
“Sorry I just haven’t seen you like this in so long,” she replied, her eyes still staring adoringly at Hermione’s belly button.
“Stop looking at me like that, it’s unnerving!”
“Hermione, you really look lovely like this, I don’t understand why you need the charm…”
“What am I supposed to do just show up to breakfast one day with my belly fully distended? People would go crazy!”
“Well, you’d have to tell them obviously…”
“No, that’s all too much of a mess. I’m much happier in hiding.”
“But what if you want to do something past midnight? What happens then?”
“What like the Halloween party Parvati and Lavender are planning?” Hermione asked sadly.
“Yeah, precisely like that!” Ginny exclaimed, then, seeing Hermione’s face, turned quiet. “Aw Hermione have you already thought about that?”
“Yeah, and I don’t see how I’ll be able to go. Malfoy was calling me out for being a chicken earlier, but, it’s not even that really, it’s this.” She looked pointedly down at her swollen belly.
“Hmm,” mumbled Ginny, thinking, “Well, hey, your stomach really isn’t all that big just yet! It would be easy to think of a costume that would conceal your bump!”
“Oh yes,” said Hermione in feigned delight, “How about I go as a nice Halloween jack o’lantern? Boys will be lining up to dance with me, the magical gourd!”
“Stop it! Just because your costume can’t be form-fitting doesn’t mean it can’t be sexy.”
With a wicked grin on her face, Ginny got up and bounced excitedly over to Hermione’s wardrobe.
On the other side of the dormitory, Draco Malfoy lay in bed, his long legs stretched out in front of him and a large book propped up on his chest.
He had been reading avidly every moment he had to himself, careful not to let anyone, especially Granger, get a look at what he had chosen as reading material.
It was Saturday evening and he had been mulling over this particular tomb for the better part of two hours. His eyes were weary and slightly bloodshot, his back ached from lying stationary for so long.
A tinkle of girlish laughter passed, muffled, through the castle wall. Draco, his ears perking up at the sound like a hound on the hunt and his lips twitching into a smile, sprang up from his bed and strode quickly to the door and across the landing to Hermione’s.
Not bothering to knock and announce himself, Draco gave the knob a turn and burst cheerily into the room.
“You ladies are creating quite a racket, you know,” he said suavely, eyeing Hermione as she lay sprawled across the floor.
“Malfoy what makes you think you can simply barge into my room unannounced? Get out of here!”
“I was just wondering what’s so funny, you seem to be quite amused if your howling cackles are anything to judge by.”
“We were just discussing the Halloween party, if you must know. And I’m still not sure whether we as the Head Boy and Girl should condone it.”
“Merlin you are no fun,” Malfoy sighed. “Of course we’re condoning it! We’re going!”
Ginny’s eyes darted between the two of them, a grin spreading across her face.
“Oh you think you can decide, just like that?” Hermione stated, incensed.
“It’ll be good for you,” replied Draco, matter-of-factly.
“It won’t be GOOD for me if my concealment charm wears off at midnight and the party has only just started!”
Draco shrugged, nonplussed.
“Think up a more concealing costume. It’s not like you were going to show up there in some strappy, revealing number anyway!” Draco snorted.
“That’s a bit presumptuous!” Hermione declared, aghast.
“Oh, whatever, Granger. Just go. It’ll be fine. I’ll have your back if that makes you feel better.” He smiled cockily.
“I don’t know if it does…” Hermione said, looking skeptical.
Malfoy walked over to them and scooped up a chunk of fudge. Straightening up, he said, “You’re going. Meet me in the common room at 11:00 – we’ll arrive fashionably late.”
With a wink he sauntered out, snapping the door shut behind him.
Hermione turned agitatedly towards Ginny, whose jaw was on the floor. “What?” she asked, confused as to her expression.
Ginny smiled. “You don’t even realize it, but you just got yourself a date with Draco Malfoy.”
A/N: Hi, everyone! Here's the next chapter, as promised. Please, please leave a review - any feedback you can give me helps. Thank you all for remaining so loyal to this story!
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