Hermione ignored the first three letters, sending the owl back with unopened post. She also directed her specially patented de-howler charm at the first red envelope she received returning it mute and harmless to its sender just to demonstrate she could not be bullied. But she finally gave in after de-howling the second red envelope a mere ten minutes later mostly because she needed to respond or she would never get any damned work done.
Despite the fact that she had repeatedly and consistently let Ronald know that due to contamination issues she needed to leave her sealed off clean room to accept mail and then go through decontamination procedures all over again to resume work, he still often sent her owl post. Owls were a decontamination nightmare. She had to sterilize her entire lab each time she admitted an animal, no matter how clean and well kept the owl was. Then she had to change clothes and scrub down and do a series of highly involved charms before she was able to resume her research in the clean room. She had a highly delicate counter potion she was attempting to deliver and this whole series of harassing letters had tanked her productivity.
The missive was scrawled in capitals and the harshness of the script was a testament to how upset Ron was.
'YOU LOVE MUGGLE BIRTH CONTROL SO MUCH, HERE YOU GO,"
Hermione turned the envelope on it's side and stared at the innocent package of Plan B Ronald had seen fit to send her. A whole new level of irritation spiked through her. No apology. No concern for her well being. Just an angry missive with an order to take care of any side effects Ronalds despicable behavior may have caused. Yes, she had it in her power to clean up his mess, to prevent any evidence of his misbehavior. As usual, she was left holding all of the responsibility and Ronald just expected her to take care of things so that he would have to face no consequences.
Like their finances, and the housekeeping, and planning their wedding. Ronald just breezed through life doing whatever the hell he wanted and Hermione had to go after him fixing everything. Well she wasn't cleaning up his mess this time. She wouldn't be lying to his family when they asked why she was so furious and couldn't come round to dinner. She wouldn't be smoothing things over with Harry and Ginny. As far as she was concerned a pregnancy would be poetic justice. Let Ron be the one who was embarrassed and humiliated for a change. Let him explain to people how she had become pregnant with someone else's child before their break up even hit the papers.
With a furious flick of her wrist she dumped the package in the garbage and released the owl out the window without a return address. She broke her own emergency protocols to spell the window silent and impenetrable. Yes if there was an explosion or a fire she just sealed off her quickest exit but Ronald could send 1000 owls and not disturb her day. She began sterilizing her lab with quick purposeful sharp movements that betrayed her growing fury as she got more and more upset.
Angry tears streamed down her face as she did her best to get on with her day and finish her important project. This was just another crystal clear example of how Ron didn't know her at all. First of all, wouldn't he know that she was well aware of what options are out there and what she needed to do to take advantage of them? She didn't need Ron to treat her like a moron and send her instructions like she was an ignorant twat. Secondly, did he even listen to her when she had explained why she wanted to use muggle birth control in the first place? It wasn't because she preferred the muggle way or some such nonsense. It was because chemical birth control was hard on her body and full of chemicals and had side effects, not to mention an increased risk of cancer. If she was going to use a morning after chemical solution clearly she would have gone with the wizarding version which was more effective and less harsh on a woman than Plan B.
By the time she finished up her day Hermione's fury had simmered down to a low flame of resentment and vengefulness. She was actually halfway hoping she was pregnant at this point just to make Ron feel horrible. Apparently violating her trust in the most despicable way by spelling her birth control ineffective than attempting to engage in coitus with her in a misguided attempt to get her pregnant in order to force their relationship to continue wasn't enough to make him feel bad. Knowing him, he had probably shrugged off his wrongdoing by using his usual go to excuse that he was drunk. She didn't care if he had been blind stinking drunk, he had not only chosen to get drunk he had also chosen to deliberately skirt her birth control in order to force her to give in and get his way.
Besides, Ron was too late. If he wanted to influence her he should have moved more quickly. She wasn't one to waffle around, wringing her hands, and not making a decision. Just because Ron had, yet again, put her in a less than ideal situation that was entirely his fault, didn't mean he had any say so whatsoever in how she dealt with the aftermath. After a few hours of panic and tears and heartbreak she had dried her eyes and put on her big girl panties and thought the situation through logically.
A baby at this stage in her life wouldn't be a burden. She wanted a child and her main reason for postponing pregnancy was she had been waiting for Ron to mature into father material. One of the main reasons she had chosen to permanently end her relationship with Ron was that it was clear that he was not making any progress maturing as a person and she was running out of prime child bearing years. Finding and securing a husband prior to getting pregnant would take a minimum of three years with dating norms and a typical engagement period, with the average time involved being five years. She was 25 now, which would put her at about 30. It wasn't recommended to conceive after 35 which didn't leave her a whole lot of breathing room if she wanted two children two years apart.
She simply couldn't afford to waste her husband procuring years waiting around for Ronald hoping that someday he would be the husband and father she wanted. She had already decided that she would no longer put her life plan on hold to attempt to wedge him into a position in which he clearly did not fit and which clearly made him unhappy. He wanted to drink and carouse and cheat, staying out all hours of the night horsing around. She wanted her life to be carefully ordered, well thought out, and peaceful. Ron found that boring and dull and time had not changed their incompatibility. They were growing farther apart, not closer together. So she had decided to move on.
Now, with the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy, for the first time she considered the reality of raising a child on her own. She was financially secure, her career well established, and she desired a child. The problem so far had always been the husband. She wanted someone compatible with her, who would help her raise her child the way she wanted, with her love of knowledge and similar values. She fully acknowledged that she was a bit of a controlling personality and struggled a bit with the thought of sharing such an important responsibility of nurturing another person with anyone less than ideal made her cringe. But Malfoy would want nothing to do with a halfblood child. Rumor was he was to marry Daphne Greengrass. She could have this child with him none the wiser and simply do everything exactly the way she wanted to and not have to worry a bit about his influence. She would simply claim ignorance of the child's parentage and go it alone.
She would never be so irresponsible as to deliberately set out to get pregnant without the father's consent. But this had been out of her hands, the damage was done, and perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. In fact, the more she thought about it, the more she liked it. The Malfoys were a magically proficient group. If she chose to become artificially inseminated in the muggle world in order to become pregnant sans father, she wouldn't be able to select a magical donor. There simply was not a magical pool to choose from since magical beings just used magical fertility options to conceive and didn't rely on outside donors. The Malfoy's had no recorded squibs in their bloodline, were highly intelligent, and pretty. Leave out any parental influence and Draco was actually an ideal match for a magical donor.
So, in the end, she had decided to let fate play out its course and not take any action to deter a successful pregnancy. In fact she had picked up some over the counter prenatal pills and had one along with a nutritionally complete breakfast, a meal she usually skipped. In light of her decision, Ronald sending her a package of Plan B was especially distasteful since he had no idea how she felt about the situation and hadn't bothered to ask her. In a way she was glad, it had been hard to put an end voluntarily to a relationship with someone she loved for purely pragmatic reasons. She knew Ron and her family and his family and their friends would chide her for being too logical and not putting enough value on the emotional side of marriage and child rearing. At least now she had an excuse for ending the relationship that other people would find acceptable and he had made her angry enough this morning to not even consider keeping mum about the whole situation. The only bit she would be keeping to herself would be who she had dallied with and Hermione would be willing to bet her bottom dollar that Ron would never ever in a million years admit to anyone whom she had slept with Draco.
She ended her day ten minutes late, not liking the fact that she was a bit behind in her work due to being interrupted so often in her morning. Normally she would have skipped lunch to make up the time, but with the possibility of a pregnancy she had forced herself to take a twenty minute break to eat her carefully thought out lunch. She couldn't help but spare a thought that maybe soon she wouldn't be able to keep food down at all and she forced herself to suppress a giddy smile. No sense getting excited when it was still too early to know anything. Still, she had made sure to eat every bite and wash it all down with a nice big glass of water, which she usually avoided like the plague. She had read up on the top 7 things to drink during pregnancy and water had sailed in at the number 1 position.
Still, she tried to avoid staying late whenever possible, knowing her own work ethic if left to run unchecked would keep her out all night. She needed to have good work-life balance for her mental health so if she had extra work to do she usually made a point to come in early rather than stay late. But, she allowed herself ten minutes, before she changed into her street clothes and gathered up her recently spelled theft proof purse. She'd never felt the need to take such drastic measures in the past but now felt it was prudent to lock her purse down from outside interference. She unspelled her window before closing the door firmly behind her.
Only to be greeted by a dozen women clustered around the reception desk in the lobby. It was rare that anyone but her stayed late so she was caught off guard for a moment. They were chatting casually grouped around an enormous flower arrangement giving off a strong enough scent that it hit her clear across the room the second she stepped a toe outside of her lab. She made her way over to the group, a friendly smile on her lips to say good evening, that died as she became the center of attention immediately in a way that felt creepy and unnatural. She faltered in her confident stride for a half step but then forced herself to continue on normally, refusing to be intimidated.
"There she is," the receptionist announced heartily breaking the sudden silence as the woman moved aside to make room for her. "We've been waiting for you to come out and read the card!"
The card? Oh, the flowers. A towering magnificent arrangement with cream colored roses and pure white lilies displayed in a lovely sapphire colored glass cube took up most of the real estate on the receptionist's desk. A simple white envelope tucked amongst the greenery had her name handwritten in a disturbingly familiar script. She might have not seen Malfoy's handwriting in a decade but she always had an eye for details, and his backhanded old fashioned letters were unmistakable. "I'd have brought them to you when they were delivered but the delivery man had explicit instructions that they were to be left in reception so as not to contaminate your lab," the receptionist was saying.
"Well, read the card," one of the women prompted and Hermione struggled to find a reason to delay and get away for a moment of privacy. She had no desire at all to open this card in front of a handful of gossiping witnesses. She leaned in to sniff her flowers as a cover for picking them up so her hands would be full and she could edge towards the lifts politely while 'forgetting' to read the card. The arrangement was feather light, clearly having been charmed for easy carrying and did actually smell quite lovely.
"Come on, I'm dying to know who they are from! Ron never sends you flowers. Do you have a new secret admirer?" asked Connie from research with a teasing good natured smile and the other woman tittered annoyingly. Hermione took a step back, giving a nervous little laugh as she tried to figure out how to exit this situation without admitting she knew exactly who the flowers were from.
"I'd be willing to bet I know who sent them," Marietta Edgecombe announced, a sneer to her voice that was always present when anywhere near Hermione. The girl gave a nasty smile and plopped The Daily Prophet down on the recently cleared receptionist desk. There it was, in full color for the entire world to see. Hermione Granger, walking arm in arm, with Draco Malfoy down a cobblestone road. The photo was clearly intimate as Hermione was leaning in to his space, obviously tipsy, and Draco was smiling down at her indulgently.
"Fuck," Hermione heard her voice speak the word out loud despite her usual distate for cursing. So much for her anonymous lover plan. The whole world would now be able to guess who the father of her possible child was now. Suddenly not giving a damn about manners or gossip or anything other than getting as far from that photo as possible Hermione spun on her heel and hightailed it to the lift. "Fuck, Fuck, Fuck…" It was the only word that seemed to fit the situation.