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Truth be Told

Hermione woke with a start, her face covered in a thin layer of glossy sweat. She sat up but immediately regretting doing so as her head began to swim. Groaning, she massaged her throbbing temples with one hand while attempting to wipe the sweat from her eyes with the other. She glanced over to her night table and saw that it was only 2:42 in the morning.

“Not again,” she grumbled to herself as she flopped back down on her pillow.

She had been waking up at these ungodly hours for the past several weeks and she could not figure out why. Suddenly feeling the urge to go to the bathroom, she flung the covers off of herself and slid out of bed. She crept through the room so as not to wake her sleeping dorm mates. With an expectant smile, she slipped into the bathroom. Her smile immediately turned to a frown when she realized that her little monthly “friend” had not awakened her. In fact, she was almost three weeks late. Slowly, a thought that she had been trying to keep out of the foreground of her mind came at her full force. Nervously, she pulled out her wand and pointed it at her abdomen.

Pregnatum revealo,” she whispered and watched as a faint white light was emitted from the tip of her wand.

The light surrounded her stomach, turned a dark shade of purple and then disappeared. She slowly lowered her wand hand, trying to keep it from dropping the slender piece of wood. She shook her head to try and clear the image that had just implanted itself in her mind. Thinking it most surely had to be a mistake, the bushy haired Gryffindor performed the spell a second and third time. Each gave her the same result, dark purple.

“Oh god,” she gasped as she slid down and sat on the cold stone floor, her mind immediately beginning to race.

She pondered for a long moment before something finally jumped out at her. She had been with a boy about three weeks previous. This had not been any boy; it had been one of her closest friends.

“Harry,” she breathed to the still, early morning air.

She couldn’t believe that she was pregnant and with Harry’s child no less. She rubbed her face with her hands and tried to calm herself by taking deep breaths. There was only one way to tell if the thing growing inside of her was Harry’s. She would have to make a paternity potion. She’d read about them in one of the medical books in the library. From what she remembered, it seemed fairly simple; take a piece of hair from the suspected father, combine it with a few other ingredients and then drink it.

“Oh god what did I do?” she moaned to herself as the reality of her situation began to really sink in.

Slowly, she rose and made her way back to her dorm. She climbed into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin and stared at the ceiling. The longer she stared at the dark canopy above her bed the more sleep eluded her. Taking a moment to glance at the clock, she saw it was now 3:14. Hermione rolled over and buried her face in her pillow, trying with all of her might to let sleep envelope her. After about a half an hour of restless tossing and turning, the sixteen-year-old slipped from under her bedcovers once more. She hurriedly put on her robe and slippers and made her way as quietly as she could to her backpack. She removed a quill, some parchment and her wand from its neatly organized contents. As noiselessly as possible, the Gryffindor snuck from her dorm room to the common area of the tower. She heaved a small sigh of relief when she found she was alone in the slightly chilled area. Gathering her composure, the brown-haired female made her way out of the tower and into the maze-like halls of Hogwarts. After what seemed like an eternity, she reached her destination, the library. She pulled the heavy door open and crept inside.

“Where did I see it,” she muttered to herself as she began browsing the section on medicinal potions.

Fifteen minutes of searching and several clumsy movements later, she struck gold. She brought her findings over to the nearest table and sat down. She took out her quill and began to copy down the ingredients and instructions for brewing. Her eyes suddenly widened when she came to the line concerning length of brewing time.

“Three days!” she exclaimed, immediately covering her mouth.

She squeezed her eyes shut and silently cursed herself for being so loud. After she finished berating herself about her volume, she cursed herself tenfold for being so careless about her relations with Harry. With one final flourish of her quill, she replaced the book back in its proper place and returned to her seat. She stared at the ingredients she would need and groaned as a thought dawned upon her. All of the ingredients she would need, minus of course Harry’s hair, were in Professor Snape’s private stores. It was not that she was nervous about breaking into the Potions Master’s private things; it was more the fact that she’d done it before and had almost been caught.

Hermione remained in the solitude of the library for several more hours, pondering over her current situation and how she was going to procure the necessary elements to determine the paternity of the thing that was at that very moment growing inside of her. As the first rays of the morning fluttered through the large windows, Hermione rose and looked down at herself. She didn’t look any different, but she felt different. She had this subconscious sense of duty and protectiveness for the tiny being that was to be born of her. A slight smile graced her lips as she gathered her belongings and headed back to Gryffindor Tower.

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“’Mione would you pass the sausages?” Ron asked that morning at breakfast.

“Hermione! Are you ok?” Harry asked, as his friend stared fixedly into space.

“Hmm?” she murmured softly as her gaze wandered briefly to the staff table.

“What did you say?” she asked suddenly, her cheeks turning a dark shade of pink as she turned to face her friends.

“Ron asked you to pass the sausages,” Harry muttered as he reached over Hermione’s left arm to retrieve the plate.

Here Hermione seized her opportunity. As Harry was turning to give Ron the platter, the sixteen-year-old female swiftly plucked a hair from the famous wizard’s head and slid it into a small vial. She hurriedly shoved it in her schoolbag as Harry spun around.

“Ow. What was that for?” he groused.

“You had something in your hair,” she replied simply.

He seemed to buy the lie for he shook his head and continued with his meal. As breakfast continued, Hermione contemplated when and how she would sneak into Professor Snape’s private potions stores. However, a glorious reminder soon quelled her confusion.

“So we’re going to meet at the Three Broomsticks for lunch on Saturday?” Harry asked.

“Yeah. I have to get birthday presents for Fred and George,” Ron muttered and rolled his eyes.

Hermione had forgotten that there was a Hogsmeade trip that coming weekend. As the thought planted itself in her mind, she smiled. Procuring the needed ingredients would be easier than she had anticipated. Buying them in Hogsmeade would save her having to face the wrath of Professor Snape.

That afternoon following her last class of the day, Transfiguration, Hermione ventured into one of the unused Prefect bathrooms. There she set up her cauldron and did some simple repelling charms to insure that her potion was not discovered. She had intended to stay longer and check over her list of ingredients but she would have missed the DA meeting.

She arrived in the Room of Requirement just as the meeting was starting. She noticed that there were cushions to sit on and plopped down between Luna Lovegood and Pavati Patil. She took out her wand and turned her attention to Harry.

“So what are we doing today Harry?” Neville asked, looking a tad nervous.

“Well I was thinking maybe the patronus charm,” the bespectacled boy responded.

“Are you sure we can do this Harry?” Ginny queried from across the room, her ginger hair pulled into a ponytail.

“Of course you can Gin,” Harry answered with a smile as he raised his wand.

Expecto Patronum,” Harry bellowed and a silvery stag came shooting from his wand tip.

The figment galloped around the room several times before dissipating. The gathered mass of students stared in awe, causing a hushed silence to spread through them.

“Come on now. You can do it,” their fearless leader prompted.

Expecto Patronum,” Hermione commanded.

Nothing happened. She stared disappointedly at her wand, a frown creasing her brow. She tried the incantation three more times before she saw success.

Expecto Patronum,” she said again and this time a silver beaver came shooting from her wand, paddling around her once before disappearing.

“I did it!” she called in excitement as Harry walked over to her and took a seat to her left.

“Great job ‘Mione,” he proclaimed with a smile on his face.

“Thanks Harry,” she responded, blushing slightly.

The meeting ended and the students wandered in the general direction of their respective Common Rooms. Hermione found herself a quiet spot near the fire to finish her homework. She occasionally let her mind wander to the task ahead of her. Around 11:30 she rounded up her various parchments and books and retired to bed. She fell into a pleasant subconscious, knowing that in the morning she could begin work on the most important potion of her life.

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The following morning, Hermione rose at the first light of dawn. Her mind was filled with a bizarre anticipation. She hoped that she would be able to convince the boys to let her shop alone.

“Guys, I have to pick up some things so I’ll meet you at the Three Broomsticks ok,” she said as she took a large swig of orange juice.

“What kind of things?” Ron inquired nosily.

“None of your business Ronald,” the bushy-haired female answered with a hint of her old arrogance in the tone.

“I was just asking,” Ron mumbled into his biscuit.

“I’m sorry Ron. I’m just…never mind,” Hermione trailed off.

The three friends finished their morning meal in silence and then gathered their things to head into Hogsmeade. They made the journey from the castle to the village as a group but went their separate ways once they arrived. Harry and Ron headed in the general direction of Zonko’s Joke Shop while Hermione made a beeline to the Apothecary.

She pushed the heavy weather beaten door open and stepped inside. Immediately, she was hit with the musky aroma of all sorts of diced and severed parts. Trying not to feel too nauseous, she slowly walked up to the counter and waited. Several minutes later, a portly old wizard sauntered in from a back room. He was about Hermione’s height with thin wispy white hair that stuck up rather haphazardly in small tufts circumscribing his head. His wrinkled skin was doubly so at the corners of his calm hazel eyes. The Gryffindor could tell that this man had laughed a great deal in his youth.

“May I help you Miss?” he asked, leaning over the dusty counter.

“Yes,” Hermione replied, rummaging in her pocket for the list of ingredients she would need.

“I need two jars of diced rat spleen, three vials of finely ground kneazle claws, one and one half vials of mandrake root, one flask of phosphorous dyhydride and one small flask of cherry,” she read from her piece of wrinkled parchment.

“May I ask your age Miss…for the cherry,” he inquired.

“I am sixteen,” she stated, folding the piece of parchment nervously.

“Alright then. Let me get this for you,” he said as he turned to begin collecting what she’d asked for.

Hermione waited patiently as the man gathered the various vials and flasks and jars. He returned and placed each piece of her order in front of her for her to inspect. Once everything was parceled up, he began adding up the prices.

“Your total comes to 7 galleons, 2 sickles and 5 knuts,” the portly wizard stated.

Hermione dug into her pocket and managed to come up with the right change. With a small smile on her face, she thought that it would have been a lot cheaper to steal them from the Potions Master. Hermione stepped out of the shop and was glad to be in the fresh March air. She took a moment to quickly transfigure her shopping bags into bags from Flourish and Blotts. The transfiguration complete, she rushed off to meet her two best friends for lunch.

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That evening Hermione skipped dinner and went straight to beginning the potion. She snuck into the bathroom and locked the door. She placed a sound deflecting charm on the room so no one would hear her. Once all of the precautions were set, she took out her newly obtained ingredients and the parchment with the directions for making the potion.

First, she had to boil water over a high flame until a constant vapor rose. This step took no time at all, since she was used to doing so at the start of almost every potion she’d made. Next she had to mince the mandrake root and add it 4 teaspoons at a time. Fifteen minutes later, after having added the last portion of root, the young girl sat back on her heels and massaged her palms. She then poured one of the vials of ground kneazle claw into the potion and stirred it twenty times counterclockwise. Running a hand over her now sweaty forehead, Hermione moved on to the next step. Her eyes glanced down at the parchment and she sighed. The next step was to let it sit overnight.

She stood and stretched her cramped limbs as she gathered the empty vials and jars. As she unlocked the door, her stomach loudly reminded her of the fact that she had neglected her evening meal. Sighing, she headed towards the kitchen to see if the house elves could make her something. Half an hour later, with a full stomach, Hermione sauntered up to the portrait hole.

“Password,” piped the Fat Lady.

“Pumpernickel,” Hermione answered as the portrait swung open to allow her entrance.

“Hermione there you are,” exclaimed Ron as she walked into the Common Room.

“Why weren’t you at dinner?” Harry asked, concern on his face.

“I was in the library reading,” she fibbed as she walked by them on her way to the girl’s dormitory.

“Did you eat something?” Harry questioned, causing her to halt her movements.

“Yes. The house elves took care of me,” she replied quickly as she rushed up to her room muttering something about studying for OWL’s.

“She seem a bit off to you mate?” Ron asked as he set his quill down.

“No. I think she’s just stressed out about our OWL’s,” Harry answered as he glared at his half finished potions essay.

“She worries too much,” the redhead muttered as he resumed his Divination assignment.

Meanwhile, Hermione lay on her bed, curtains drawn. Her hands rested idly on her abdomen. She was thinking about Harry and how their friendship had grown into something much more. ‘What is he going to say?‘What is Ron going to say?’ she pondered as a tendril of wavy chestnut hair fell into her eyes. As she lifted her right hand to brush the strand away, she became aware of where her hands had been resting. A nervous smile spread over her full lips as she let out a small giggle. She would have to learn to be more aware of her gestures.

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Sunday morning came all too quickly for Hermione’s taste. Even with the curtains drawn, bright spring sunlight burst through from the window. Suddenly, there was a hand shaking her rather violently. Hermione thought she could hear a faint sound as well as she opened her eyes. It was Ginny.

“’Mione. It’s after lunch. Are you ok?” her young friend asked as the Gryffindor fifth-year was roused from sleep.

“What? Yes. I was just tired I guess,” ‘Mione responded as she rubbed the sleep from her brown eyes.

Hermione rose from bed to see that she was still in yesterday’s clothes. With the flick of her wand they were clean and pressed. Instantaneously, her mind was focused on one thing, the paternity potion. She gathered her schoolbag, which contained all the necessities she would need. She tossed in a few schoolbooks to peruse while she waited. After all, she did have OWL exams to prepare for and even determining her baby’s paternity was not going to impede upon her studies.

Soon, the pregnant teen found herself locked in the Prefect bathroom once more. Overnight, the potion had taken on a slight pinkish tint. Hermione hurriedly checked her notes to make sure that it was supposed to do so. Sufficiently pleased, she began the next phase of the potion. She dumped the jars of rat spleen into the mix and stirred it several times. Next, she poured half of the flask of phosphorous dyhydride in and immediately a reddish-black cloud of smoke arose, emitting a foul odor. Hermione coughed as she waved the thinning vapor out of her eyes. Quickly referencing her notes, she nodded to herself. She had to let it sit for four hours and then add the rest of the kneazle claw.

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Three hours and fifty minutes later, Hermione was sitting in the library, re-reading the same sentence of her Transfiguration book. She could not concentrate on the material at all. All her thoughts drifted to her still unfinished potion. Her mind was so far off that she didn’t hear someone sit down across from her.

“Hermione, can we talk?” Harry asked.

“Oh. Harry…I didn’t see you sit down. Um, sure, what about?” the sixteen-year-old questioned.

“You’ve been disappearing the last few days. Is everything ok?” he asked, gently placing his hand atop hers.

“I’m just…going a little crazy over exams. You know me,” she said with a forced smile and a tiny laugh.

Suddenly, the bell in the tower began to chime the hour. Hermione jumped slightly, startled by the clanging sound. She began hastily gathering her things and shoving them into her bag. Harry stood and handed her the Transfiguration text with a perplexed look on his face.

“Sorry, I can’t stay longer but I have to go. See you later Harry,” the bushy-haired female called over her shoulder as she rushed from the library.

Back in the bathroom, Hermione tossed her books aside without so much as a second glance. She grabbed the remaining two vials of the kneazle claw and poured them into the now aqua colored solution. With a bubble and a hiss, the ground substance reacted with the dyhydride compound, dissolving almost instantly. Feeling a sporadic adrenaline rush, Hermione scanned the bottom of the parchment, in hopes that she wouldn’t have to wait long to determine whether it was Harry’s child she was carrying. Sadly, she would have to wait until the following day for the final results.

“God why can’t I just find out now!” she cried as a tear slid down her face
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Surprisingly, Monday’s classes seemed to fly by for Hermione. In no time at all, she found herself at dinner with her friends. Anticipation was eating away at her incessantly as she talked and joked with her comrades. However, while she was enjoying spending time with her friends, she couldn’t wait to leave. Once the meal was finished, she sprinted off to the bathroom to finish her weekend project.

She had procured an extra goblet at dinner and now set it on the floor beside her simmering cauldron. She poured the remainder of the phosphorous dyhydride into the potion and stirred it feverishly. She ladled a portion into the goblet and added the cherry. Finally, she took the small vial containing Harry’s hair and added it. Taking a deep breath she downed the contents of goblet and swallowed. She was surprised by the taste of the potion. With the harsh chemical in it, she had expected it to cause a burning sensation but the cherry countered it. She looked down and saw her stomach was glowing a rather fluorescent green. As the effects of the potion began to wear off, Hermione looked at the back of the parchment to check the results. A sense of calm swept over her body as she read. If the potion causes a green light, then the test is positive. If it yields a red then it is negative. Her nerves were now at ease. The next step would be in confessing to Harry that she was having his child.

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