A/N: This story was written and posted on LiveJournal back in 2008 as a Christmas gift for a very good friend, Czarownica_asia. It's about 9000 words and will be posted in seven parts, ending on Christmas day (because 1. I ran across it today, got the idea, and it works out perfectly and 2. I'm a tease). Disregard the canon epilogue, of course (I hate the epilogue and usually ignore it). The prompt Asia gave me for writing: Viktor will do anything for his wife, but all she wants is a baby. Something happened during the battle with Voldemort and she can't conceive. Viktor's determined to get her a baby and make her dreams come true, maybe from an orphanage because after the war a lot of children were left behind when their parents died.
Asia, if you're rereading this here, I love you and I'm so glad your wish came true! 3
Viktor stared down at the tray on the floor, directing all of his frustration directly at the untouched sandwich. He had just come from his last Quidditch practice until after the holidays; he wanted to spend a relaxing evening with his wife. But Hermione was still holed up in her study, where she'd been when he left the tray and knocked before he left. He had assumed she was working earlier—but if she hadn't come out at all, it must have something to do with babies.
He sighed and knocked again. "Hermy-own-ninny?
"What?" Her voice was soft and muffled. He thought she'd probably been crying.
"I am home."
"Vill you come out?"
Viktor thought of kicking the damned sandwich. What should a man do in a situation like this? With a flick of his wand, he sent the tray to the kitchen, and then Apparated to Honeydukes.
He browsed through the confections lost in thought, knowing that candy really was not the solution but not having a better answer. No one knew of any possible way to undo the Glacialis Uterus spell—literally frozen womb. When Hermione had been struck with it during the final battle at Hogwarts, she hadn't thought much of it, she had told him. She'd seen no immediate effects and kept fighting. A few weeks later, though, she realized that her period had not arrived. At the time, it hadn't seemed like a big deal. Later, after she and Viktor were married, she had realized what she was missing.
And now, he thought, dropping raspberry-filled chocolates in his basket, it consumed her. True, she didn't often bring it up anymore, but Viktor would catch a certain look in her eye—a vortex of despair, wistfulness, and bitterness—and know what was on her mind.
Of course, being Hermione, she had researched a counterspell, a potion, anything to reverse it. She had found nothing. She had tried to develop her own countercharm, without any luck. Now she went through life, living day to day, fighting desperately to be happy with what she had. Viktor tried to support her in every way he could think of…but he was helpless in the face of her infertility.
It could be worse. Viktor selected a block of rich, creamy fudge—the best bet for luring Hermione out of her self-imposed prison—and thought of Luna and Neville Longbottom. Luna was pregnant, with a baby conceived in the aftermath of the final battle. She had been pregnant for seven years now, after being struck with Glacialis Uterus around five months after the battle, by a handful of rogue Death Eaters that weren't pleased at being flushed out. Neville blamed himself for letting his wife come along on what was supposed to be a scouting mission. If anyone searched for a cure harder than Hermione, it was Neville. He went through his impressive greenhouse plant by plant, trying each property, often spending weeks on each one. For Hermione, the prospect of a child was frozen. For Neville and Luna, their daughter was frozen, waiting.
Viktor added a handful of sugar quills to his pile of goodies—Hermione especially liked the strawberry-flavored ones when she was working—and paid the shopkeeper. Snow was falling in fat, fluffy flakes, clinging to his cloak, when he left Hogsmeade.
The house was dark and quiet. Viktor lit a fire in the family room, and then dragged his overstuffed, worn-out leather armchair close. Good, nice and cozy. Honeydukes bag deposited on the coffee table, he returned to Hermione's study door. "Is later now, loff. You vill come out? I haff bring surprise for you."
Viktor smiled when the door opened a crack. He knew she could never resist his surprises. "What is it?" Hermione asked in a voice thick from weeping.
"Come and see." He reached for her hand and led her back to the family room. Her lips stretched into a small smile at the sight of the merrily-dancing fire—a smile that quickly turned into a grin when she saw the bag from the confectioner's.
"Oooh, did you bring me fudge?"
He would bring her all of the fudge in the world to see her smile. Hell, Viktor would kidnap Willy Wonka and take over his factory if it would make her happy—really happy. "I did." He sank into the comforting depths of his chair, pulling Hermione and the Honeydukes bag into his lap. "Now, eat up and tell me vhy you hide in the study all day."
She sighed, then sniffled, and he kissed the dried tear-trails on her face. "I…well, I really should have discussed this with you before I did it, but I didn't really think, I just acted; I'm rather glad I did, but…"
"I vill not be angry. Vhat?" He straightened a fuzzy curl hanging beside her face, letting go to watch it spring back.
Viktor balked momentarily, hopefully hiding it quickly enough she wouldn't notice. She had resigned? Money wasn't a problem, of course—with his Quidditch career, they'd be fine if neither of them worked again—but what did she plan to do with her mind? "Vhy? Is fine vith me, sveetheart. I just vonder?"
She poked a bit of the fudge into her mouth and squirmed a bit, nuzzling her cheek against his collarbone. She held up a piece for him and he bit into it, watching her gaze into the fire. "I was just…I was frustrated at the Ministry. The people from the Department of Mysteries…well, they look at me. I've heard that they're studying uses for the damn curse. Uses for it! They'll be offering it at St. Mungo's as permanent birth control before we know it! And then…well, the secretaries had a baby shower today in the office. I tried to ignore them, but they were holding up little blankets and sleepers and shoes. I'm happy for the girl having the baby, but I'm still so jealous! And then at the end of it, Romilda Vane announced that she's having a baby, too! Then they all turned around and stared at me, as if they were expecting me to go beserk, and then started whispering. And I've never liked Romilda Vane."
"I thought she vas dating Ron? I vould think you vould haff heard from him if they vere haffing a baby?" Viktor asked carefully, knowing this might be touchy. The idea of Ron Weasley with an unplanned pregnancy was pretty horrifying in itself.
"No, no, they broke up about six months ago. Honestly, Viktor, sometimes I think you pack up your memory with the Bludgers and Quaffle."
He tweaked the end of her nose and laughed. "Hey, look at you. You get the names of my balls right!"
He laughed even harder at the look she gave him: solemn at first, then a nibble on her lip, and then an all-out giggle. Viktor tickled her ribs until she kicked and squirmed, spilling caramels from her bag down his shirt. He stopped tormenting her to gather up the candy, but she caught his face with her hands, distracting him. She cradled his cheeks, caressed his jaw, smiled softly, and dusted featherlike kisses on his lips. "Thank you for this. For cheering me up, letting me complain about the secretaries."
Viktor's lips curved underneath her whispered words. "I loff you," he murmured. "Ve vill get through this, someday. Vill be ok."
Hermione snuggled against him, and they gazed out the window as the fat flakes spun and danced in a glittering whirlwind against the window. A timid, fragile peace filled Viktor as he stroked his fingers along the fine hairs at Hermione's nape. This cozy feeling, this warm, sweet-scented woman, the softly rounded bottom snuggled against his trousers, the frizzy brown hair brushing his chin—it felt just like it used to, in the earlier days of their love, when he was enough for her. He had believed that, despite the curse, his love would be enough to sustain her, with or without children. Viktor would like a child or two, certainly, but he would be content with just Hermione, no matter what. He knew that she was trying to be happy with the way things were, but perhaps maternal longing is the sort of thing a man really doesn't understand. He could understand why Hermione would want to be a mum: she was so loving, so giving, and she threw herself wholeheartedly into everything she did. He had no doubt that someday, if the curse was lifted, he wouldn't be able to walk through the family room without tripping over stacks of books about pregnancy and parenting. And he wouldn't mind a bit, because Hermione's dream would be coming true.
Viktor just wished he could fix things for her.
But for tonight, he would try to embrace this moment, the flimsy comfort that could—and quite possibly would, with the mood she was in tonight—burst like a shimmering soap bubble.
He leaned his face close enough to brush the shell of Hermione's ear with his lips. "Is almost Christmas, loff. Ve shall go and get a tree tomorrow, yes?"
She sighed, and he wondered how a simple suggestion of a holiday tradition could hurt her. "I don't think I want to put one up this year, Viktor."
"Vhyeffer not? Ve alvays do."
"Just…I don't really want one. I don't want to see presents underneath, presents that are just things. All I want for Christmas is a child, Viktor. Can you give me that? Can you wrap a little girl or boy up for me and place him or her under the tree? I don't really care how it gets there; perhaps I should ask St. Nick."
Viktor choked back the sigh that tried to escape. Of course he couldn't wrap up a child for her and put it under the tree. "Vhat about the presents for Crookshanks? And for the family?"
A tear squeezed out of her eye and slowly worked its way down her cheek. Viktor tried to catch it to wipe it away, but Hermione pushed his hand away. "Maybe we could get one of those little plastic ones and stick on the coffee table. And you always complain about me buying presents for Crookshanks anyway."
"I see a catnip mouse that runs and squeaks until it is caught yesterday vhen I go to buy the cat food and owl treats. Perhaps he vould like that." Viktor was stabbing in the dark, trying to take her mind off of babies. Except now, they were on his mind. Her words kept repeating in his mind, over and over, even long after she'd fallen asleep on his lap and the fire was nothing but red coals.
All I want for Christmas is a child. Can you give me that? Can you wrap a little girl or boy up for me and place him or her under the tree? I don't really care how it gets there; perhaps I should ask St. Nick.
Before he fell asleep, Viktor had made an important decision. And perhaps he should discuss it with Hermione before he did it, but he wouldn't. He knew her well enough to know what she would think.
First thing in the morning, they were getting a Christmas tree, a big, live tree, and covering it with fairy lights, and popcorn strings and glittering glass balls.