Hermione stared at her naked form in the bathroom mirror. She was pale, but not nearly so as her lover who was tangled in her bed sheets only a short distance away. Her left hand grazed the expanse of skin stretching across her lower abdomen absentmindedly, the other hanging lifelessly at her side. She turned to the left and sucked in, throwing her shoulders back and straightening until a nagging pain began to creep up her rigid spine. She looked over her shoulder at the reflection that stared back at her, and took a good, hard look at her flat stomach before letting her posture sag once more. She wanted to believe it wasn't there. With all her might, she did. However, it most certainly was there, and it was not leaving any time soon.
When she stepped into the shower and drew the curtain closed, it struck her that the water temperature was much too hot to be comfortable, but her hand never came close to the adjustment knob. Instead, she washed in the scalding water until her skin was red and raw before stepping out, drying off, and dressing in her proper night clothes. As she crawled into bed beside the man she had grown to love deeply, she thought about how her life, and his, would change from this point onward, and she could not help feeling sorry. She was not to blame of course, but perhaps it was the shame and guilt of wanting something he was bound to hate so purely that kept her body awake and her mind in turmoil.
Sleep was elusive that night, and the horizon was streaked with pink and red hues before she managed to grab hold of it. When she awoke four hours later, it was to the sudden realization that she had made a promise to join the Weasleys and the Potters for Sunday brunch at the Burrow, and she only had half an hour to convince Draco to get his frighteningly perfect pale arse out of bed and out the door.
"Malfoy, get up now you git." She poked him roughly in the shoulder. She received a gruff male moan in return and watched him turn over onto his back, the indication of his deep sleep evident in the red crease along his cheek and the rumpled state of his blond hair.
"Just the words any man loves to here from his girlfriend first thing in the morning. Thank you, Granger." He heaved himself up into sitting position, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. He inclined his head in her direction, waiting for her to bend and give him a kiss.
"Just put some clothes on, would you? I don't want to be late."
"What, no good morning snog? No heartwarming hug for the man who sent you wheeling into an abyss of passion all night long? No thank you for the post sex cuddling? Where is my gratitude woman?"
"Draco," she pointed at him. "Now."
She was rummaging through her bureau, hunting for her coveted burgundy Weasley sweater. Moments later, she found it and grinned triumphantly to herself before throwing it on over her camisole and jeans.
"And what is this late business? Late for what?" he asked, lifting a pillow and finding his boxers from the night before. He wondered momentarily how they could have possibly gotten there, but reasoned that he didn't really want to know, nor did he care, and slipped into them with a nonchalant shrug.
"Brunch." she replied shortly. "With the Weasleys." she added, watching his face contort from a lazy grin at the mention of food, to the twisted face of disgust at having to socialize with a group of his least favorite people.
"Love, you can't be serious? First, it was regular dinners with your parents, then holidays with Golden Boy and his poof of a side kick, and now -"
"Draco Malfoy, you would be well advised to hold your tongue toward the people who put their necks on the line to ensure your safety." Hermione reprimanded, her voice cold and firm. On the bed, Draco sunk his fingers into his disheveled hair, resting his elbows on his knees, and letting his face droop into the alcoves of his palms.
"Here we go again…" he muttered bracing himself for the inevitable tirade. He could hear her sharp intake of breath and took it to mean that this one was going to be longer than the others. Bugger him with his own wand.
"The Weasleys have been nothing but kind and generous to you and your mother in the years after the war, and if memory serves, it was Harry who had your name cleared at the Ministry out of nothing but a kind heart. And technicalities aside, it would not kill you to show a little bit of respect for the people I care about. If it had not been…"
His attention was wavering, and admittedly it was no accident.
"…shelter, clothing and food though they had nothing to spare…"
How was it that she never tired of lecturing on this matter?
"…no compensation whatsoever…"
How many times had it been now? Well, he accounted that it was based off every time he had cocked something up, either in speech or in action. Blasted temper of hers, it couldn't possibly be his fault all the time.
"…slept on the floor so you could have a bed…"
There was that time he had made that comment about bonking her from here to Canada in front of the Weasley clan, but he had meant it in pure jest, of course. And it had been funny, really.
"…forgave you for calling Ginny a 'lecherously daft cow'…what in Merlin's name does that even mean, anyway?"
And then last year when he failed to show up at Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's wedding anniversary… but what bloke would blame him? It was the playoffs for the Quidditch World Cup and he had an invitation to join his mother's high society friends in the box seats. An event he wouldn't have been able to miss if he'd tried.
"…trusted you despite the fact you spent hardly any time helping the Order because you were too busy checking your hair in the damned mirror every five seconds!"
All right, now she was just making him mad.
"And what about cards, hmm? Harry invites you to play poker and rummy with him and the boys every Wednesday, but you always decline."
"Fuck, Hermione! It's not like we're married! I don't need to attend every bleeding event, gathering, and feast!" he shoved himself off the mattress and began to yank on a pair of trousers whilst muttering about how he can't even get a cup of tea before being harassed. He'd had enough.
His words, though not holding the heat and fiery of some of his past remarks, knocked the wind out of her and she leaned back against the drawers of the bureau, staring unblinking at a loose thread hanging from one of the matted blankets.
It's not like we're married…
Her hand immediately found her stomach, and she gathered up what Gryffindor courage she had to look him in eye.
"Of course we're not. How silly of me to think that after two years, you might be serious enough about me to put your childish rivalries aside and wipe the slate clean. To believe for a second that you might go, not for them, but for me, your girlfriend? I am mistaken, aren't I Draco?" Her voice rang steady and dry as she spoke, her nose in the air as she walked to the lavatory and slammed the door soundly behind her.
Draco sighed. Bollocks, he had done it again. He would go, he would always go… only to make her happy, but rarely ever without some sort of resistance. There had been periods when they would go as far as ending their relationship over the silly matters of Potter and Weasley. However, Draco always came back. He would never admit that it scared him shitless whenever that happened. She would always be so calm and accepting of it, as if she had seen it coming. The notion that she could live without him while he was suffering without her was not one he was willing to live with, and in the end flowers were delivered, singing telegrams sent to her office, letters full of awkward, indirect apologies mailed, and he would be back in her bed within a week's time. Only the gods knew why she took him back each turn. He liked to think it was because she needed him just as much as he needed her.
But sweet Circe, he could not stand those with whom she affiliated. The pitying glances of the elder Weasley's made him want to wretch with frustration and guilt, and Potter's "Let's-save-the-world" attitude bothered him no less now than it did years ago in school, whether he had salvaged his reputation or not. Weasel-bee's bile-inducing cooing over his wife Lavender and their round butterball of a new baby boy made his toes curl up to the soles of his shoes in the worst way possible. One: it was Weasley. Two: It was a baby, which brought up a whole other subject matter that he could not, and would not, in any way, shape or form, tolerate.
He did not want children. It was understandable in some respects, of course. Any person could look at his family history and be tempted to praise the man for wanting to stay out of the family way, but others, namely Hermione, could not seem to fathom this blatant desire not to reproduce. Children were loud, messy, obnoxious, smelly, and all around a pain in his arse. Not to mention the large sum they required to maintain, not that he had ever been stretched as far as finances, but it was the principle, damnit. He was also convinced that he would be an absolute fuck up at it. He had enough problems just being a child, so having one was out of the question.
Hermione was quite possibly the oddest woman he had ever met, he decided. And he had met a lot of women. The one time they had very briefly discussed the prospect of having children sometime in their hypothetical future, she was silent. He had expected her to flare up, like she did most commonly about all matters, when he expressed his deep desire to keep children (and by association, marriage) at bay. However, she did not. She sighed, looked at her shoes, nodded, sighed again, and then excused herself to the kitchen to start dinner. Without having said a single word, she had let him know just how disappointed she was that he would never even consider raising a family, with her, or any other witch. Sure, she hadn't told him she didn't understand, but there was that look.
The look she gave him whenever their eyes would connect as she was holding the Weasel's newest bundle of joy, and the look that she gave him occasionally before swallowing her contraceptive potion every month. That look, almost pleading with him, silently begging him to stop her, to remove the vial from her hand, made his stomach drop to his feet and he always made a quick exit during those times. He would not play the sap for her, no sir. Draco Malfoy was not, and would never be, a family man.
Though he had no right to given his current predicament, he smirked. No, he would never impregnate her, but that did not prevent him from getting deep inside her like no other, and in more ways than one at that. Last night had been no exception, either. She was singing his praises into the early hours of the morning until they were both positively knackered and unable to move, even to pry away from each other's embrace. Had Hermione not been the beautiful, brilliant intellectual genius that she was, he probably would have still stayed with her for the dynamite sex alone.
Exasperated, he approached the lavatory door, knocked twice, and leaned against the door frame.
"Ducky," he called. "Ducky, come out. I'll go, let's just get this over with, yeah?" When there was no answer, he opened the door and peered inside.
Hermione was applying a dab of perfume to her wrists and behind her ears when he stepped in and attempted to move closer. She side stepped away from him, and passed through to her bedroom.
"You're not ready. Go home, clean up, and I will meet you at the Burrow. Please try not to be later than eleven, as Molly likes to serve promptly at eleven thirty." She put on her shoes, and gathered her things, tossing them into her handbag. Draco leaned in to kiss her cheek, but his lips met nothing but air as she apparated away with a sharp, angry crack.
With an aggravated growl, Draco popped himself to his respective flat and proceeded to make himself presentable. But he was Draco Malfoy, was he not? Who was Hermione kidding? It would take him much more than the specified time to get "cleaned up". There was bathing to do, and shaving, and styling, and dressing, and… well, many other things that no self-respecting wizard would dare leave the home without doing. Unless, he thought, they were a Weasley or a Potter.
Brunch would simply have to wait.
"I am so sorry, he should be here any moment." Hermione apologized to her friends for the third time that morning and glanced nervously at the clock against the far wall. Eleven forty five. Where was he? Was he doing this on purpose?
"Really, you all have been so patient. Please don't hold breakfast on Draco's account." She was twisting her napkin under the table now. All of the usual faces were seated at the seemingly endless table, some stared hungrily at the food Molly had prepared, and others checked their watches or drummed their fingers against the hard wood of the table. The room normally bustled with the sounds of merry conversation and good eating, but they were absent that morning, and many of the eyes had turned to Hermione at that time, watching her with a tense curiosity. They had always thought Malfoy was no good for her, and was he standing her up now? The words "I told you so," seemed to be on the verge of bubbling off of Ron's tongue.
"No dear, we will wait." Molly patted her hand in reassurance that she was not offended by his tardiness.
"Aww mum, come on, you heard her. We can tuck in, it's no matter." Ron complained from his seat, leaning forward so he could see his mother.
"Ronald, you will wait and you will like it." Molly chastised, flashing Hermione a small, tightlipped smile.
Ron snorted. "Probably chipped a nail and had to run to the manicurist for an emergency buff and polish." His comment fell on deaf ears, and the table was silent once again.
The smell of food was making her nauseous, and tiny spots were beginning to dance in front of her eyes, her head spinning. Pushing her chair away from the table and excusing herself, she made a beeline for the nearest loo. Nearly not making it to the toilet in time, Hermione sank to her knees and heaved and gagged into the bowl, emptying her stomach of what little had settled in there to begin with.
Eyes watering and body lightly trembling, she finished. Her face had paled considerably, but after splashing some cool water on her cheeks and giving them a good pinch, she was able to pass as healthy, if not slightly stressed.
She left the lavatory and started back to the table, catching sight of a white blond head on her way. Draco was hovering in the entry hall, seemingly unsure as to whether or not he wanted to proceed without Hermione's companionship.
"How kind of you to show up, Malfoy." Hermione said icily, her hands on her hips and lips pursed firmly.
"Oh lovely, there you are. I was just about to –" he stopped short, narrowing his eyes and taking in her appearance. "Have you been ill?" he asked.
"No, I'm only revolted at the fact you have the gall to show up thirty minutes late with no valid excuse to a meal that I have made quite clear is important to me."
"It's only brunch!" he cried defensively.
"It's the little things that matter to me, how can you not see that?" she whined, stomping her foot childishly. "I just want you to be there!"
"Well I'm here now aren't I? Do you expect me to apologize for taking the time to make myself look presentable?"
"You barmy wanker." she sighed. "You vain, self centered, ego-" The sound of a baby crying rang into the air and echoed down the hallway. Draco visibly winced at the noise, turning away from Lavender who was doing her best to comfort baby Harold.
"Hermione?" she inquired tentatively, her voice low. "Is everything alright?" Hermione blinked a few times before answering.
"Yes Lav, everything is lovely. Do you need any help with-" she gestured to the squawking infant.
"Oh! Oh no, just a wet nappie. No trouble at all. Perhaps you two should go to-" Hermione cut her off.
"Yes, yes. We were about to head in. Come on Draco." Hermione grabbed hold of his sleeve and tugged him into the dining room. Just before reaching the table, her hand slipped into his, lacing their fingers.
"Ah Draco, there you are. Well then everyone, let's eat shall we?" Arthur clapped his hands and helped himself to a heaping serving of eggs. Two place settings down, Ron had managed to stuff his mouth full of food before the pair had even sat down.
Hermione wasn't eating and it was making him nervous. She was crumbling a single scone on her plate, but she wasn't eating. That was very odd. Hermione loved scones.
Hermione wasn't talking and it was making him nervous. Hermione loved to talk, especially with these goons.
He gave her a nudge, and when she looked up to meet his eyes, he motioned toward her plate with a questioning glance. She shrugged and pushed her plate away. Draco cleared his throat, and a few heads turned toward him.
He pushed away from the table and took Hermione's hand to lead her into the kitchen. She narrowed her eyes at him, but accepted being guided away from the dining room.
"Would you mind telling me exactly what is wrong with you?" he asked, leaning against the sink with his arms across his chest and his ever present air of aloofness dominating the atmosphere.
When she said nothing, he continued. "This can't possibly be because I was late, which, by the way, I am still not sorry for. I spent all night boffing my girlfriend, I'm beat. And you know I'm not a morning person."
Oh yes, Hermione though. She was very aware of just how much "boffing" they had done. So much in fact, that her dizzying double vision was blurring into triple. And yet, the git still thought it was all about him. She found herself hard pressed to stay silent, and it wasn't because she didn't want to. She would have argued his every statement if she could have, but she didn't dare for fear that what would come out of her mouth would not be words, but vomit.
Her stomach was churning violently and the room was beginning to spin dangerously.
"Love? Say something Hermione." Draco was watching her carefully now. Something wasn't right.
"Hermione?" he noticed her hand that held her steady against the counter had turned white from the might of her grip, and her other was clutching her stomach.
"Granger, this is not funny. You tell me what is going on right now or I am flooing Mungo's and telling them to clear a bed."
If possible, she seemed to pale even more at the idea of being taken in. Surely the healers would inform him of her condition, and she would be damned if she let him find out that way. She swallowed hard and did her best to stand up straight.
"No." she shook her head. "I don't need to go to St. Mungo's." There was a pause as she lowered herself into a sitting position against the ice box. "I just need to lie down a moment."
"Let me take you home, you will be more comfortable there."
She glared hotly at him, nearly sneering in disgust.
"You just want to get out of here." He shrugged.
"So? I want out, and you are obviously ill. I will take you home and it will be a win, win situation for both of us."
"Bastard." she spat.
"Darling, I'm saying your good-byes, stay there. Where did you leave your handbag?" Hermione was livid, but she was in no position to deny the fact she was sick, and she would rather be sick in her own lavatory as opposed to the Weasley's kitchen floor.
"On the sofa." she told him through clenched teeth.
"Right then. I'll be back, you just," he stuck his hand out towards her, palm up. "stay." Hermione continued to seethe silently as she watched his retreating form.
When he returned, Lavender followed closely on his heels. Draco handed Lavender Hermione's belongings and slipped an arm around her back, then the other under her legs, effortlessly lifting her into his arms.
"I'm fine, I don't need to be carried like a weak little debuta – oof" Lavender pushed the handbag to Hermione's chest, cutting her off.
"Don't fight it Mione. You'll make it worse." she pressed a slip of paper and what felt like a small vial into her hand. "Looks like you pair are set then. Feel better now, ring if you need anything and I'll pop over in a jiff. Ta."
Draco apparated them to Hermione's apartment, and set her gently down on her lounge.
"Shall I fetch some blankets then?" he didn't bother to hear her answer and went straight to the linen closet. While his back was turned, she examined the things Lavender had shoved at her. Unfolding the piece of paper, she read.
Take this, I promise you will feel top notch much quicker than with your average pepper up potion.
There was a post script at the bottom, one that launched her into paranoia over whether her situation was more obvious than she had thought.
P.S – I had wretched morning sickness, too.
"What's that?" Draco inquired, arms laden with blankets and pillows. Her head snapped up, hand clamping around the vial tightly. He pushed on her shoulder to get her to lean forward, and he shoved a fluffy pillow behind her back, and then dropped a blanket over her legs. He never claimed to be good at this 'comforting' thing.
"Just a Pepper Up."
"Hmm, yes, well… yes."
"You don't have to stay."
"You don't want me to?"
"I'm just saying, you don't have to."
"Well, I will. If you want me to."
"I'm not going to ask you to stay."
"So… you want me to go then?"
"No, I was only saying it's optional."
"You don't care if I go?"
"You do care if I go?"
"No, I don't care if you go."
"Alright, well I guess I'll stay then."
"Are you going to take that?" he indicated towards the bright pink liquid.
"Oh. Erm, yes." Hermione uncorked it and swallowed it in one gulp. As Lavender promised, she did feel her stomach settle, her head clear, and the tension in her muscles release. Not one hundred percent better, but significantly so, she thought. Draco joined her on the lounge, sitting comfortable by her feet.
"What would happen if I were to become pregnant?"
"That's impossible. You're taking a contraceptive potion."
"I know, but what if something happened… if there was an accident and it was brewed incorrectly, and rendered defective. Then what?"
"We would sue the company for a defective product, obviously."
"I meant about the child, Draco. What about the child?"
There was a long pause, so long in fact that she wasn't sure if he was thinking hard, or ignoring her.
"I don't know." he finally replied, his face stony and unreadable. They sat in a tense silence for some time before he spoke again.
"You don't want to have my baby, Hermione. I would be a crap father. I'm sure I would forget to feed it, hate to change it, and raise it all wrong." From the corner of his eye he could see her picking at her fingernails, a sad look on her face. "You, you would be a good mother. You would love it and care for it and teach it things I will probably never learn in two lifetimes, but I'm just not cut out for it."
"What if you had to be a father?" she couldn't look at him, and that was just as well. He couldn't bring himself to look at her, either.
"I'd be bloody fucking scared of it."
"You wouldn't want it, then." she willed herself not to cry. Not now, she couldn't now.
"I'm happy with my life. I like my job, my flat, and I love my girlfriend. It's enough, why would I need a child?" When she didn't say anything, he dared to look at her.
Bugger she was crying. He pulled her to him and let her sob into his shirt while he rubbed her back in soothing circles.
"I'm sorry, Hermione."
This only seemed to make her cry harder, and he resolved to stop talking all together until she stopped. A few minutes later she pulled back and he brought up a hand to wipe her tears.
"Draco," she drew a ragged breath. "I'm pregnant."
That night in bed, long after Hermione had fallen asleep, Draco laid down next to her, figuring that the worst thing he could do would be to leave her alone tonight. He didn't want this baby. He didn't want to be a 'dad'. He didn't want to have to trade his spiffing bachelor pad in for a proper home, despite the fact he practically lived at Hermione's anyway. He didn't want to deal with wet nappies, screaming wobblies, disgusting strained peas, and incessant questions. He didn't want to spend hours worrying while Hermione was in delivery, and he didn't want to risk losing her. He didn't want to conform, he didn't want to settle down and breed like rabbits like everyone else. He didn't want to be like his father.
Hermione rolled over in her sleep, so she was curled up against his side.
"You're not like him Draco." she murmured.
"How do you know?"
Her hand reached around under the covers to find his hand. Once she had it, she brought it up to cover his heart. "Because you have this," she then brought their hands to her own heart. "And this."
She was asleep again soon after, and once more he was alone with his thoughts. He would try. Try to love it, try to care for it properly, try to be less selfish and conceded, try to think of it as another part of Hermione, and he loved Hermione, so maybe he could do this. Maybe he could be a father.
But first, if he was going to do this as it was meant to be done, he needed a ring.
Important Note: *UPDATE 12/3/09* Okay, I know I've been MIA for... well... years... please don't hurt me. I wish I could say this one shot is new, but it's not. It IS the most recent thing I've written though. However, with that in mind, it's not beta read and I'm obviously rusty. I've been out of the game for awhile. Where have I been? Why was I gone? Why the heck am I back? or maybe just WTF Kat??! I can answer all of those questions and any others on my new blog, open to all who are curious. You can find it listed on my authors page since I can't link here. Thanks (and sorry!) :)