Chapter One: A Smoky Future
Hermione Granger clutched her stomach in revulsion and panic. She swallowed heavily, trying desperately to appease the bile that was climbing steadily up her throat. Swatting the smoky letters, which hung in the air like wispy clouds, Hermione's mind raced.
This isn't happening to me. It's wrong. It has to be wrong. There is no humanly feasible way that…
Hermione's stomach lurched. What was she thinking? Of course it was feasible- more than feasible- expected. Hermione stared once more at the now unrecognizable letters floating lazily above her head. Maybe if she tried the spell again, maybe she did it wrong the first three times, maybe she wasn't really…
"Praegnans ou vaco!" Hermione whispered hoarsely, pointing her wand at her flat stomach. She closed her eyes, praying, wishing, begging for it all to be a mistake. Hermione knew deep down that she had done the spell correctly the first three times. Opening her eyes, slowly, sadly, Hermione gazed at the wispy letters in front of her.
She knew it was pointless to try and fool herself any longer. What she could not comprehend was why it had to happen right now. The day of her graduation from Hogwarts; the day she was planning on leaving everything behind her, letting bygones be bygones and letting mistakes slide away from her like bad dreams.
It was not to be. Hermione rubbed her stomach nervously as she felt hot tears glide down her cheeks.
"I'm going to take care of us, baby…" she whispered to her belly. "It's going to be just you and me, but I promise to love you enough for two people combined…"
Hermione had managed to make it outside for the graduation ceremonies mere minutes before commencement. Harry and Ron spotted her walking and called her over, their faces a mixture of pride and fear. This was the day they had all been working towards, but at the same time no one felt an overwhelming drive to leave their beloved school. The three of them had made a pact the summer before their seventh and final year at Hogwarts that they would finish school and then search out Voldemort- together. The three of them held a bond that was so powerful it felt tangible at times. Hermione didn't know how to tell them that she was breaking their pact and sending them off to fight the most dangerous and evil wizard mankind had ever known by themselves. She fought desperately with the little voice in the back of her mind that told her this might be the last time she would ever see the two of them again. She knew she couldn't go- for the sake of her unborn child.
I owe it to my child. What kind of mother would I be if I put my life in danger knowing I'm carrying another life inside of me? There is no other way.
Hermione had been battling with herself over and over again for the past two hours. In the end, she knew she could not go. The one thing she did notknow was how to tell Harry and Ron without really telling them.
"Hermione! We saved you a seat!" Ron waved at her, smiling broadly. His hair was a mop of disheveled red that fell into his face. He had grown up a lot, getting a little taller than six feet and building some muscle mass. Hermione tried her luck at a happy smile, but failed miserably. Harry could sense it before she even attempted to smile.
"What's the matter? Something has happened hasn't it?" Harry stood up as she approached, and grabbed her hands comfortingly. Hermione was able to see the constant battle of controlled panic in his eyes when she was close to him.
"You're not coming with us…" Ron mumbled slowly, staring at her with a crushed look on his face. Hermione shook her head, tears falling freely.
"What has happened? Are you okay?" Harry gently wiped the tears off her cheeks and looked in her eyes. "We're your best friends, you know you can tell us anything…" Harry reassured her.
"She's not going to tell us, mate," Ron's face looked dark. "She would have done it already." Ron put his arms around her in a hug. "I hope everything is alright, 'Mione." He whispered. Hermione sobbed onto his shoulder as she threw her arms around his neck. She was so grateful to her friends; they knew not to ask any questions at a time like this. The boys knew her well enough to realize she would tell them everything when she was ready.
"I can't…"Hermione pulled away from Ron and looked at her two best friends with sorrow.
"Can't what?" Harry asked. His black hair still stood untidy on his head. He too had grown a lot in the past year, but had not managed to sprout as tall as Ron. Quidditch had conditioned his muscles similar to Ron's, so that he was toned but not overly bulging.
"I can't come with you and I can't tell you why," Hermione looked ashamed down at the ground. There was an uncomfortable silence between the three friends. Harry broke the silence by grabbing her into a bear hug.
"Take care of yourself, 'Mione. We would be there watching over you if we could. Promise to stay safe?" Harry asked, his voice sounded strained.
"Promise," Hermione choked. "You two do the same. Write me as often as you can, please. You know how I'll worry…" Harry let her out of the bear hug and nodded. Ron pulled her close to him for a gentle hug.
"You're like family, 'Mione. We'll always love you." Ron squeezed her one last time before pulling away.
After the ceremony, there was a bittersweet farewell from everyone. Teachers, students, and parents all stood around hugging, laughing, reminiscing, and crying. Hermione did not feel up to the current situation, having already said goodbye to two of the most important people in her life. She had wanted a chance to say one other goodbye, but knew she couldn't. Like a dark shadow, Hermione slipped away from the crowds so that she was out of Hogwart's property and apparated quietly to her flat. What Hermione had forgotten was that the one other person she had wanted to say goodbye to had also wanted to see her. He had wanted to see her so much that he had followed her down outside of the Hogwart's gates, and watched her apparate away before getting the chance to say anything.
"Fuck…" he cursed, angrily brushing a stray lock of blonde hair out of his eyes and staring at the spot where she had disappeared.
A/N: Sorry such a short chapter, but I wanted to get a feel for what you guys were thinking about it and I figured it was the best place for now to stop. Another update coming soon hopefully! Please review! Oh, by the way, I don't own anything Harry Potter (damn!) ;-)