Disclaimer: No recognisable characters belong to me – they are the property of J K Rowling and co. The plot and the rest of the characters however, are mine.
Authors Note: Please let me know what you think – I have this story planned out, so updates should be quite frequent.
Panic, undiluted and terrifying, ripped through Hermione as she stared with horror at the plastic test tube clutched in her hand. In an effort to still the fear, she closed her eyes, willing the liquid in the tube to change colour – but of course it didn't. When she eventually opened her eyes, there it was, exactly as it had been before, the incriminating blue line staring up at her through the clear plastic of the tube. She shook it trying to change the colour of the line, but nothing happened. With a groan of despair, she threw the test into the bin, before staggering out of her parents' bathroom.
The silence in the house could only mean one thing; her parents were in the sitting room awaiting her verdict. The urge to bury her head in her hands and howl came over Hermione, but years of disciplining her emotions and thoughts, had left their mark; she knew howling would be a waste of her energy, and as well as giving her a nasty headache, it would achieve nothing. Resigned, she trudged miserably downstairs, to impart the news to her anxious parents.
They were sitting in silence, their cups of tea untouched in front of them. Turning as one, looking at her as she pushed open the sitting room door, they did not have to ask what the test had revealed – Hermione's face said it all. For a moment, all three stared at each other, none willing to break the heavy silence which had descended on them like a shroud. Then unable to take the silence any longer, Hermione burst out,
"Oh god, tell me this isn't happening, please!"
She threw herself into an armchair and began to cry; great racking sobs which shook her small frame. Immediately, the Grangers were galvanised into action, their shock replaced with the urge to console their distressed daughter. Both parents sprung up and knelt down, attempting to comfort the sobbing Hermione. It took them over fifteen minutes to quieten her, and finally, she sat up wiping the tears from her eyes with her sleeve and sniffing loudly.
"What do I do?" she moaned, looking wildly around as though hoping to find inspiration from the room at large. Exchanging a silent look, her parents got up off the floor and resumed their seats, both wearing worried expressions.
"Well, I'm sure it isn't that bad," Alison Granger said, "the first thing we must establish is how far along you are and take it from there."
Hermione stared at her mother, her eyes glassy and unfocused.
"Hermione, did you hear me? How many months gone are you?"
Blinking, Hermione replied, "Just over two, but what does that have to do with anything?"
"In that case, I don't think termination is an option; you're too far gone and it'll mean the heart and brain are already developed." At these words, Hermione let out a fresh howl and buried her face in the arm of her chair, her temporary calm deserting her.
Over an hour had passed, in which Hermione alternated between sobs and hiccupping moans of desperation; both parents were now thoroughly exasperated and fed up.
"Oh, for heaven's sake," snapped John Granger, "pull yourself together! You aren't the first girl to fall pregnant without meaning to, and you certainly won't be the last! Sit up, and we can decide what to do – howling won't get you anywhere, and certainly won't solve the present problem." His voice held a note of asperity Hermione had never heard there before.
"Your father's right, Hermione," Alison joined in, "We must decide what's best for both of you, and need your co-operation to do so."
"Well, I don't know! I honestly don't know!" Hermione sat back, her legs folded beneath her, her eyes puffy from crying and her head in her hands. "What do I do? I mean I can't get rid of it – I just can't! It just… well, it won't be… right."
"Of course you can't get rid of it! As your father said, that isn't an option. No, we must think of an alternative, after all, there're adoption agencies, and it's quite easy to find a home for a new-born as most people prefer to adopt babies than older children." These words, full of practical common sense, jolted Hermione out of her lethargy, and she stared at her mother with wide horror-filled eyes.
"You don't mean giving it up for adoption and letting strangers bring it up, after all the pain I'll have to go through in bringing it into the world?"
"Well, have you an alternative?" John asked, running his hand through his usually neat hair.
"Well…I don't know, but giving it up for adoption, I mean…."
"That," said Alison Granger, "is the only way, best for both the child and yourself. Unless, of course, the father…"
"No!" Hermione's voice reverberated around the Granger's sitting room, making the ornaments on the mantelpiece shudder. "No, he'll have nothing to do with it, nothing whatsoever. As for giving it up for adoption… I can't, I just can't! And having strangers bringing up my child? Never! I'd rather terminate than consider that option." In her anger, she had risen to her feet, and started pacing the length of the room, her eyes flashing. "No, I'll bring it up myself. It can't be that difficult, and it isn't as though I couldn't do it – you would help me wouldn't you?" A note of uncertainty had crept in to her voice and she turned to stare anxiously at her parents.
"Well, what do you think?" asked John, his face impassive, "We certainly aren't going to let you do it alone – I can't say we're particularly thrilled at this turn of events. I would've thought you'd know better, but what's done is done and there's no point in crying over spilt milk."
At these words, Alison shot a reproving look at her husband, which he ignored. Hermione watching, could not help but think that her father was disappointed in her, and this thought made her spirits plummet even further.
"Well, now we've decided what to do, it's time to turn to practical matters; although I must say I was wondering how long it would take for you to reach that conclusion," Alison smiled. "I thought that with a bit of… erm… prodding, you'd finally make the right choice. And you have – oh I am so pleased!"
"What? So you mentioned the whole adoption thing on purpose knowing full well I'd flip?"
"Well, you weren't thinking clearly, so I thought a shock may make your mind up for you. I knew you'd never consider adoption, but you were so rapped up in your own misery, you'd lost sight of your own morals."
"But still," Hermione shook her head in disbelief. "Well, I know for a fact I couldn't have done that. Honestly mum, what a way to make me come to my senses! But I suppose it worked… although that wasn't a nice way to go about it."
"Maybe so, but it did make you think about what you were saying. I suppose shock is a strange thing – it can really wrong foot some people," Alison nodded in relief.
"But the father – I mean, well, he won't make trouble will he?" John's anxious question was put in a low voice and Hermione turned to him. She was relieved to see that he seemed to have accepted the situation.
"Oh no, he won't—" she informed him shrugging, "—considering he doesn't even know I'm pregnant. And how will he know? Anyway, even if he did somehow find out, he wouldn't want anything to do with the child."
"Well, I think that's a little presumptuous of you," Alison began, her smile fading to be replaced by a worried frown. "Hermione, you do know who the father is, don't you?"
"Of course I do – what do you take me for?" Hermione cried out. "No Dad, you don't know Draco Malfoy like I do. 'Purity of blood' means everything to him, and if he were to find out that he had fathered a child who was not a pureblood, he'll do everything in his power to get rid of it. He isn't a very nice person so I wouldn't worry about what he thought."
"Draco Malfoy? That boy whom you, Harry and Ron hated at school? The one who did everything in his power to make your lives a misery? No, I don't believe it!" Alison stared at Hermione as though she had never seen her before, her face pale with shock.
"Yes, the very one," Hermione looked her mother in the face as she spoke, "It isn't a nice fact, but there it is."
"So, just out of interest," John said, raising a quizzical brow and trying to hide his own shock, "if he isn't a very nice person, how come you ended up sleeping with him? I would've thought that his attitude would have ensured you kept your distance!"
Hermione bit her lip. She took a fortifying breath and explained, "Dad, to cut a long story short, he spiked my drink at Professor Dumbledore's retirement party when I wasn't looking." She looked away from her father and continued, "I took a sip and began to feel very compliant – my defences were lowered, so I didn't really object when he led me out of the room. I can't remember that much, but well…"
"So he raped you?" John demanded, his face taking on a paler shade than before. "You didn't tell me that before! What do they call it, Alison? Date Rape?" Hermione's mother looked close to tears, nodding her head silently in affirmation. John continued ranting, "Right. I remember there was something about it on the Telly the other night! My god, he could be had for that! I'm sure there're… there must be laws—"
"No, Dad," Hermione cut him off in a resigned voice, turning to stare unseeingly out of the sitting room window at the immaculately kept back garden. "It wouldn't be classed as rape. Believe me – I've thought a great deal about that. But the truth was, under the influence of that wine, I didn't put up any resistance."
John Granger looked like he wanted to interrupt, so Hermione added quickly, "Before you say anything, I checked for the trace of anything in my own blood the next day, and there was nothing in my bloodstream. Wizarding Date Rape potions are far more advanced than their non-magical counterparts, and they can't be traced."
"But there'd be physical evidence! I mean, his sperm in…" he grimaced and looked away, "well, you know what I'm getting at. And then there's that truth potion you told us about once, surely—"
"Dad," Hermione shook her head and placed her hand on her father's arm to get his attention. "by the time I could think straight – remember, I'd had quite a bit to drink as well as that potion, not to mention having the hangover of the century – but by the time I was sober, it was almost two days later, and sperm can only survive 36 hours. As for Veritaserum, Draco'd never agree to take it. It would be impossible, anyway, since he knows too many ministry officials and would easily worm his way out of it."
"But you could tell them that he put something into your drink and—" continued her father doggedly.
"What? Without any proof or evidence to back my claim up? No one in their right mind would believe that! I suffered no injuries to indicate a struggle, or anything like that! It'll just be his word against mine! And unfortunately for me, he is well known in wizarding circles. He even has a clean record as far as illegal activities are concerned, for goodness' sake. He was never even suspected for working for Voldemort, you know."
"Yes, yes, I know all that. But his father—"
"His father died when he was in his sixth year. I can't quite remember why, but Draco publicly renounced him, and so got the public's sympathy as a result. He's taken care ever since to live a clean life. And even now, he'll turn up at charity events and stuff – talk about preserving the perfect squeaky-clean image," Hermione shook her head again. "I wouldn't have a chance against him in court – he has too much influence to be accused. No, we'll have to deal with this matter alone – what he doesn't know can't kill him."
"I suppose not," Alison said sighing. "Well, I presume you'll want to carry on working so as to support yourself – I'm sure we can look after the little one during the day."
"He's sick! Just sick! What a thing to do!" Ron sat numbly on Hermione's sofa, his face pale and bloodless from shock. Opposite him, Harry also sat as though turned to stone, a look of horror adorning his pale face.
"Well, we always knew he was a bit… erm, odd, but you're right, that's a weird thing to do, even by his standards." Hermione lapsed into thoughtful silence, absentmindedly twirling a lock of hair around her finger. "You know, the strange thing is, I'm not traumatised by it. I mean you'd think that I'd want to… well to want to rid myself of the evidence, but no. I've come to accept it as part of my life and—"
"Well of course you've accepted it," Harry retorted, scowling. "In essence, you were a willing participant. But if I'm right, the potion he spiked your drink with acts a bit like the imperious curse – it lowers a person's defences, leaving them exposed and less able to act on their own will power. We see quite a lot of cases like that at work."
"What? People use it on each other?" Ron gasped, looking horrified. "How come I've never come across a case like that?"
"Because, you're based in Hogsmeade," Harry explained. "But you will as soon as you're transferred to London. Believe me, it isn't a pretty sight. Anyway, there was a case a few weeks back where some shop owner in Knockturn Alley gave it – in the form of a 'refreshing drink' – to his customers and then, he 'persuaded' them to buy his merchandise, whether the customer wanted it or not. That stuff's pretty bad if ingested in large doses – it looks as though you got off lightly, Hermione."
"Hmm, I suppose so, but getting back to the matter at hand—" Hermione replied, trying not to think too deeply about the potion Harry had talked of.
"God, so what're you going to do?" Harry asked.
"Keep the baby, of course," Hermione frowned at the two boys – they were taking the news badly and she sighed. "Look, it isn't the child's fault – it didn't ask to be conceived and has every right to life! I can't just terminate him or her because I don't like the father. That goes against everything I BELIEVE IN!"
"But still, I mean I don't suppose that git knows about it does he?"
"Ron, I want to keep this poor innocent child alive. What do you think he'd do if he knew I was carrying his child? I'll tell you what he'll do! He'll use any means he knows of to get rid of it and me along with it! Well, I can't let that happen, and I'll make sure that he isn't going to find out. Anyway, from what I hear, he went off to America soon after the party. Wasn't that in the Daily Prophet?"
"Yeah, I heard about that from one of the other aurors," confirmed Harry. "Apparently, it was all very sudden. The rumour was that some of his business interests took a knock in the stock market, so he had to go there to sort it all out. But if you ask me, it was something more personal. I mean, he could easily get his minions to deal with his business interests. It just didn't make sense – and it was all a bit too sudden. If you ask me, the business interests rubbish was only a cover story." Harry added with a grin, "Maybe, the truth is that he's trying to avoid Azkaban for something illegal he's done. Who knows? Maybe the toad'll die on the journey there or—"
"Look, death isn't something I want to talk about right now, so please change the subject," Hermione snapped. There was a long pause and all three sat and gazed into the brightly burning fire. The day was cool; a March wind could be heard howling around the building while clouds scurried across the sky.
Frowning, Harry asked
"Why did Dumbledore invite him in the first place? I mean they weren't exactly on friendly terms, now were they?"
"Don't know – you know Dumbledore, he must've had his reasons," Ron shrugged. "I could kill him though, the slimy git. So," seeing the look on Hermione's face, Ron cast around for another topic of conversation, and brightening asked, "How's work?"
"Oh ok," Hermione smiled, "I get tired easily, but apart from that, it's really enjoyable. I mean, there's always so much to do - and the books they have in their reference library!"
"Yeah, Dad said Hanwell's is a pretty prestigious place – St Mungo's can't hold a candle to it."
"Well that's rather unfair, considering Hanwell's specifically concentrates on patients with serious and long-term brain and neural damage – you can't really compare the two."
"No," Harry chipped in, "but we all know that Hanwell's only takes in the best. You were the only healer in your set asked to join its staff. Is it true they aren't averse to using muggle methods as well as magical ones?"
"We certainly don't rule them out – there're just some things that magic can't do, however hard you try. Sometimes surgery's the only answer and it can help, whatever St Mungo's have to say. Having worked in St Mungo's for two years, it makes a nice change to leave it and work somewhere where forward thinking's encouraged."
"Yeah, I suppose," agreed Ron vaguely. "Well, at least you won't have any financial problems – just look at this place!" He indicated the sitting room – a large room covered in a thick cream Persian carpet. Bookshelves lined one wall, while the wall opposite sported floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the garden belonging to the block of flats. The walls were the same pale gold as the patterns in the carpet, creating a light airy room in which Hermione spent much of her time.
"Ron, you know as well as I do, I've spent the last year decorating this place – mum and dad let me the money to buy it and I'm gradually paying them back. True, Hanwell's pay a lot better than St Mungo's ever did, but there's more to a job than money. Look at you two – it's well known that aurors don't get paid all that much, but I don't see either of you whining because of that."
"Well, that's different – I mean, there's the danger element and you get some cracking cases!" Harry and Ron grinned, reminding Hermione vividly of their school years.
"Oh for heaven's sake, grow up both of you," she reproved, trying to keep the amusement from creeping into her voice. "Really, you're both twenty years old and I am not quite sure how you're holding down responsible jobs. Act your ages!"
The laughter died in Ron's eyes, and turning once more to Hermione he said, "Look Hermione, I'm not going to pretend that this is welcome news, but we'll stand by you no matter what!"
"Yeah, of course!" agreed Harry, "You're right, it isn't the kid's fault it's Malfoy's. Besides, you never know, things may turn out ok."
"Well, mum'll be happy to baby-sit – I mean she looks after Bill's brats during the day – one more won't make much difference," Ron added, stretching. "I dunnow about you two, but all this serious talk's made me a bit peckish – anything edible in the flat Hermione?"
Ignoring the latter part of Ron's remarks, Hermione responded, "Thanks Ron, I'll speak to Mrs Weasley to check that's ok. If it is, I'll probably end up getting her to baby-sit while I'm at work. Mum and Dad have offered to help me out as well, but as they both work, I'll feel bad impinging on their free time."
"Look, I'm sure we'll come up with something," Harry soothed, "Me and Ron can help when we're not out there catching dark wizards! Now getting back to the subject of food…"
Hermione lay back on the comfortable sofa in her sitting room. Ron and Harry had gone over an hour ago, and she was glad to have the flat to herself to think and make plans. True, the news of the pregnancy had come as a shock, but no shock was too great that it could not be overcome. She grimaced, imagining herself pushing a pram through the park, but swiftly banished this picture of domesticity.
She looked down at her flat stomach and tried to imagine a child – one with a mixture of her own and Draco Malfoy's genes, but no image presented itself. She wondered how she would feel about this child when it was born; whether she would hate it as she had read, or whether natural maternal instincts would kick in, ensuring she would love it. Her feelings for Draco Malfoy were much simpler to analyse; she hated him for raping her – yes, it was rape, she decided – and she was determined that one day she would get even. There would be a time for revenge. And as for the child, she had to be careful that her abhorrence for the father did not influence her feelings for the unfortunate child itself. Whatever happened, she resolved to do her best for the child, who, if she were not careful, would end up the innocent victim of two people's contempt for each other.