Emissary
A fan fiction by labrt2004
Chapter One

Written for Kribu for the Summer 2010 SS/HG Exchange

Author's Notes: Tremendous thanks goes out to my incredibly capable and persistent beta, mw48, who truly did not let me get away with ANYTHING. She plugged scores of plot holes, disdained my excessive use of hyphens, and made me strive to be better. *hugs!* Also, thank you to Annietalbot for holding my hand and giving this piece a look through mrs_helenesnape for being one of my biggest cheerleaders! And finally, thank you, MODS for putting up with my endless excuses and whinging, you all truly are amazing!

Kribu's Prompt: The Grangers meet Snape. Could be a "parents meet daughter's new boyfriend", could be a series of meetings for random reasons, could be them meeting Snape-as-Hermione's-friend (or colleague) and mistaking him for something more, could be them walking in on something, etc.

888

Nothing was out of the ordinary the first time I met the man.

Well, it wasn't out of the ordinary considering it involved Jeanie. Oh, Jeanie! I suppose you wouldn't know, would you? That's what we call Hermione here at home…Hermione was entirely my wife's idea. When she was carrying Jeanie, she was cooped up at home and climbing up the walls. The boredom drove her to distraction. I didn't envy her, not at all. She couldn't even leave her bed-doctor's orders. You see, we had been trying bloody forever to conceive. Yes, I said we. I had wanted a child as much as she had.

Jane—that's Jeanie's mum—and I met each other at the annual British Dental Association conference. We were both well past thirty and thoroughly finished with all the romancing rubbish. Mind you, it wasn't for lack of trying. Women were anxious and fluttery, and I was singularly untalented at pleasing them. They all required careful handling and thoughtful conversation and trips to the concert or opera. I considered myself lucky if I knew where the violins were in an orchestra. Add in mysteries such astrust and communication, and I was lost. I contented myself with the company of similarly inclined blokes, our shared incompetence with women making us natural allies in matrimonial evasion.

Everything changed during my keynote address at the conference. I had stopped bothering with anything remotely resembling exercise the minute I had taken over the practice and was getting rather soft around the middle. And Jane? Well, Jane walked into that auditorium in a Harvard jumper and Bermuda shorts like she owned the place, her frizzy hair exploding around her head and a garishly colored tote bag slung over her shoulder. She plopped into the front row, quite unperturbed, and I just remember seeing this thing fill my field of vision without warning, so much so that I had to stop talking. I even remember what I was talking about—something mind-numbingly dull about wisdom teeth in teenaged boys, which I remember only due to Jane's memorable entrance. I tried not to pay her any heed as I rattled on with my presentation. Why would I trouble myself with a rude chit like that? Must be some foolish resident from the clinic, I'd thought. She scratched notes loudly and furiously in a notepad. How was I expected to ignore her when she was sitting right there? A duck among swans, with her intense, scrutinizing eyes and fly-away hair.

She was waiting by the door half an hour later, when I had finished. Everyone was milling about, chatting and exchanging pleasantries, flattering each other and discussing nothing of worth. Networking, is that what they call it? I took my time; a lot of colleagues were queuing up to meet me. Apparently, teenaged boys with wisdom teeth held universal appeal. I meandered slowly about the room, shaking hands with this one, handing off a business card to that one… until I looked up, and she was still there. I frowned. Didn't she have something better to do? I shook my head to myself and turned my attention back to the orthodontist from Manchester.

"The ruckus they make when their parents bring them in to have their braces fitted, never mind the squawking when you tell 'em their wisdom teeth need to come out first," my fellow dentist complained belligerently.

Squawking.

I looked up again, eyes scanning the room for her. She hadn't budged an inch from her original spot. She leaned negligently against the doorframe with the same disdain that had inspired her to barge in on my presentation dressed like a street urchin. Suddenly, it hit me. I blinked as I watched her flip a page slowly in the novel she was perusing.

Bloody hell. She is waiting for me.

I promptly excused myself from the conversation with my colleague and picked my way through the crowd to where she stood. When I reached her, she slammed her book shut and peered at me with a critical eye.

"Well, it took you long enough, Dr. Granger!"

Incensed, I reined in the instinct to splutter at her and instead coolly inquired, "Are you enjoying your residency?"

Her eyes, a striking honey color, were still boring into mine. Extending a hand, she announced, "Jane Anderson, pleased to meet you."

This time, I did splutter. "Jane Anderson?" This addled woman is Dr. Jane Anderson? "Jane Elisabeth Anderson, from the University of Dundee?"

My heart sank. I knew the answer before I'd finished the question. Observing her closely, it was obvious that she was indeed the same woman whose glossy portrait graced the back of the conference brochures. Smoothen down the terrifying curls, deploy a bit of airbrushing here and there, and it was certainly her.

I had just called the youngest ever Dean of the Dental School at the University of Dundee a resident.

She smiled at me indulgently, which only served to further my humiliation. "One and the same, Dr. Granger."

"The pleasure is mine," I choked out. I wondered what I had done to deserve this.
Jane Anderson parades around conferences in Bermuda shorts?

"I enjoyed your presentation. So sorry I came in late!"

I could only smile weakly in response to this.

"I've heard a lot about you. You do excellent work." She paused, flashing a crooked little smile that suddenly made my head feel strange. "I don't agree with you on some points of your talk, though. And it's not every day that I'm accused of being a resident. I think you owe me dinner as recompense."

888

In any case, I digress. I was thirty-six years old when I finally worked up the nerve to propose to Jane, and she was thirty-eight. I ended up doing it just the way I had always wanted to. That she was willing to accept that is, I suppose, the reason I married her. My own mum and dad were neat, enterprising suburban folk who had insisted I do everything by the rules; they would have been scandalized had they known that I proposed marriage to Jane over a couple beers at a football match.

We weren't getting any younger, so we started trying to have a child right away. We tried for two years with no result. These things are never easy when a woman is older, you understand. Mother Nature works against you. Most women would have given up, but not Jane. We played hopscotch across England, visiting scores of fertility specialists. With the zeal that was so characteristically my Jane, she never shrank from giving herself shots of God knows what hormones, month after month, so bloody many of them.

And then one day, it happened.

I was at the clinic. A sedated patient (the best kind!) lay before me, and I was in what I called "my zone." Dentistry is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes, it is more art than science, with two gleaming rows of ivory serving as canvas. And dentistry is certainly more pragmatic than medicine. With medicine, the problems are cagey. Medical illnesses hide inside patients, behind layers of confounding skin and flesh. But dentistry pulls no punches. Challenges stared at me right in the eye, and it was up to me to fix them. This particular root canal procedure was going well, and my favorite jazz track was piping softly over the speakers. My tools were lined up in precisely the way I liked, and my hands hadn't yet got sticky underneath the latex gloves.

The door opened, and my assistant entered, a phone in her hand. "Dr. Granger, your wife is on the phone, she says it's important."

Bent over my patient, I raised my head and looked up with a frown as the phone was pressed against my ear.

"Jane?"

"Darling. We did it. I'm pregnant."

888

Of course it wasn't going to be easy. Nothing with Jane ever was. Getting pregnant was just the beginning, and it wasn't a state that suited poor Jane at all. From almost the first day, she was plagued with debilitating bouts of morning sickness, except that for Jane, it was really morning, afternoon, and night. She was glib about it though, shrugging it off in between the frequent runs to the toilet. "It's my punishment for feeding all my vegetables to the dog when I was a girl," she had joked weakly.

One night, at twenty-seven weeks into her pregnancy, Jane started having contractions.

"Too early!" she gasped, bolting up in bed. "God damn it all to hell, David, get your arse out of bed and drive me to hospital!"

On the way to hospital, her water broke. It was the first time I ever saw Jane cry.

High risk pregnancy. Advanced maternal age. Incompetent cervix.

Words were swirling around us like malevolent spells as doctors shouted to nurses, nurses to orderlies. I don't remember how I got through it. There was only Jane, lying on the gurney, screaming, sobbing, writhing, and our baby, who was dying inside her.

It took me awhile to realize that people were working on her. Slipping an oxygen mask over her face. Heaving her hips in the air. A doctor sat between her legs, stitching frantically. Nurses pumped magnesium sulfate into her, halting her premature labor.

They had not given up, they weren't telling us to go home.

Paperwork was being shoved in my face. I signed blindly.

Our baby—our girl—we knew we were having a girl by that point; she was still alive.

888

Jane was ordered onto full bed rest. Her cervix had been artificially sewn shut. The loss of the amniotic fluid was worrisome. Fetuses need it for proper bone growth, for full lung development. The doctors had infused Jane with synthetic fluid, but they couldn't make any predictions. Forty-weeks is full term. We were praying to get to thirty-five.

" Hermione?" I had repeated incredulously during another long evening. There had already been countless evenings during that hot, muggy August, each one more sweltering than its predecessor. Jane was particularly fretful that night, her intractable curls plastered miserably against her forehead even though the air-conditioner was on full force. I was trying to be… helpful. We decided to have the name discussion again, though we were clearly off to a bad start.

"What kind of atrocious name is Hermione?"

"Oh, really, David, surely, you've read Shakespeare?"

I lowered my head onto the table and muttered, "You want our daughter named after some bint who was turned into a statue after her husband ordered her executed? Is naming children questionable names something you picked up in the States? Perhaps from the Hollywood contingent? "

"Queen Hermione was right though," Jane insisted doggedly. "She stood up to him. Her heart was pure, that's why she came back!"

"That's a truly awful thing to do to a child, you know. She's going to be the girl in school with the funny name," I objected.

She looked down at her swollen belly, wrapping her hands around it and smiling. The mutinous lines on her face were instantly gone. "Yes, maybe. But I hope for her to be odd. I hope that she stands out for far greater things than her name. I hope she never blends in."

I contemplated Jane as she lay there. I thought back to how she had marched into my presentation with those hideous clothes, how she had instilled the fear of God into me after I had called her a resident. How I had somehow, against all odds, ended up a married man. To Jane, for Christ's sake. How the two of us, senior citizens in the world of human reproduction, had still managed to conceive a child. And how the Dean of the School of Dentistry had spent eight weeks horizontal on a bed. Faced with one improbability strung after another… well, bugger that, if Jane wanted our daughter named Hermione, then so be it.

"She has to have a normal middle name though," I insisted.

"Jean," she responded without missing a beat. "It will sound a bit like my name, but not exactly. I can't stand having yet another Jane in the family. When my grandmum, my mum, and I all lived under one roof, it was a bloody nightmare."

Jane could make the sun shine in Hades if she put her mind to it. She carried Hermione Jean all the way to thirty-eight weeks.

On September 19th, Jeanie arrived at last, our precious miracle girl.