CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE
Harry didn't want to wake up. He felt too warm and comfortable where he was. Not that he could even get up if he tried. Everything from his eyelids to his arms felt far too heavy. But that almost made it worse. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't fully go back to sleep. Groaning quietly, he managed to shift somewhat in bed, but had no energy to do more.
There was movement in the room, something he could hear. Now and then quiet voices that he wasn't in the mood to strain to hear would float into his awareness. After about ten minutes, just as he felt like he might fall back asleep, his mouth was opened, a potion emptied into it, and there were hands on his body refusing to let him rest.
"He's waking up now," said Madam Pomfrey. "I have a meeting with the healers from St. Mungo's in ten minutes. Mr. Diggory should be capable of looking after him. Should I be needed for any reason, do not hesitate to interrupt. Mr. Longbottom, send word to the headmaster that Mr. Potter will rouse soon. I'm afraid I simply don't have the time. Why in the world they wish to be such a bother when I have patients to care for…"
The matron fell into unintelligible muttering as the bed dipped and a cool hand stroked his face.
"Miss Granger! Do not bother him so."
The hand quickly left him. "Sorry, madam. I'm just worried."
"I told you that you shouldn't be. He's well. But of course, young people never do learn how to listen, do they? Always know what's right and what's best, don't you?"
The sound of footsteps, each quieter than the last, then the door shutting declared Madam Pomfrey's exit.
"Right foul mood she's in," sighed Neville. "Better go fetch Professor Dumbledore. I'll walk slow, take a long route and all that. Take my time."
"Thanks," Hermione said quietly.
"You alright? Should I stay?"
"No. It's fine. Cedric's here. Besides, I…I want to tell Harry."
There was a pause before Neville agreed then walked away. By now, Harry was a bit more awake and not at all pleased by it. Taking in a deep breath then loudly, slowly letting it out, he caught Hermione's attention. Her hands were back on him as she gasped. "Harry?"
He couldn't answer her at first, though he moved around a bit.
"Are you alright, Harry?" she asked worriedly.
"Mmm 'ine," he grumbled.
"Oh thank Merlin," she sighed. "Cedric! He's awake."
"I'll be there in a moment!"
"'S going on?" Harry muttered, forcing his eyes to open. Almost instantly, he closed them. The room was far brighter than should be legal.
"Do you remember anything?" Hermione asked anxiously.
"Remember what?" he grunted, struggling to have his thoughts make sense. Something had happened before he went to sleep. Fuck. What was it? Important, it was. Snape? No, nothing to do with him. Daphne was there. Babies. "Shite. The Transfer. Mione, what…?"
"Oh, it was awful!" Hermione gasped. "We thought it was fine when nothing messed up during the Transfer, but not long after Daphne and the babies started having complications. Then you started going into shock. It was awful. We had to go through all of our emergency plans. Ended up contacting Madam Pomfrey in the end. She needed to call in healers from St. Mungo's. Don't worry, though, Dumbledore made certain they won't say a word about any of it. They tried to get Snape's help, but we convinced them that the healers would be fine. We begged them not to tell him anything. We weren't sure if you would want him to know or not, so we…on the safe side. Anyway. It was awful scary.
"Daphne almost died. Her heart stopped, twice! But they revived her. She almost lost the babies, but they managed to save them. Madam Pomfrey still thinks their chances aren't good. The Transfer left all three of them, as well as Daphne, in very fragile conditions. She and Cedric will do all they can to take care of them, and I'll help in any way that I can. So will Neville and all of the others! Daphne woke up four days ago but you've been out for a week. She's on bed rest, so she's still here. Everyone was surprised she woke up before you because she had been through a lot more, but your body has been healing slower. Honestly, I think it has to do with the bond and how weak it is." Her tone here was disapproving, but Harry was too distracted by other things to care. "It amazes me they managed to survive everything they have with how unstable the bond is between you and Professor Snape." Here Hermione turned thoughtful. Harry mused that she must be contemplating a new research topic, smiling wryly before more troublesome thoughts consumed him, making him frown and shift uncomfortably in bed.
"I don't understand how it's still so messed up," he muttered defensively. "We talk every day. Plus…you know."
"Yes. I know," Hermione said, shaking her head. "But it's more than forcing yourself to be near him. You're both so stubborn that you're refusing any real progression to your relationship. You're both so content in continuing to hate each other, regardless of the mindless activities you force yourselves into hoping it will appease the bond. It needs more than the two of you forcing civility. Yes, there has been some positive effect on it now that you're playing nice. But it isn't enough, Harry. As dangerous as it was, maybe the Transfer was the best idea. I don't see how you, or the children, would have survived the entire pregnancy with things as they are. Really…"
"That's enough," Harry growled. There was too much information still sinking in, too many emotions and thoughts whirling around inside of him, refusing to settle just yet. He had only just woke up, only to be berated by his best friend.
Hermione sighed heavily. "I'm sorry, Harry. I was just so worried! It is true, though, even if the timing wasn't perfect. You need to try harder and be careful until the bond is stronger." Her voice cracked here, tears filling her eyes. "You could have died! They could have died. I was so scared. Even after all of the treatments they…they still weren't…still aren't sure how things will…and I just…oh Merlin." She laughed bitterly as she wiped the tears from her face.
Harry stared blankly across the room, feeling nothing at first as he let it all sink in. After a few minutes, though, it all crashed down on him. He choked back a sob, tears stinging his eyes as he looked around the room, seeking Daphne. "Wh-where is she?"
"Who? Oh, Daphne? She's just a few beds down," she replied, pointing to the occupied bed three down from where they sat. Draco, Blaise, and Astoria sat with her, all talking quietly while she slept. Only the fact that they looked relatively calm assured him that she had to be alright. It was hard to get a good look at her from where he was with the distance between them, but one thing he did notice was the bulge in her stomach. She had always been so skinny that just a few extra pounds was easily noticed. While on Harry, it had been easy to hide with his baggy clothes and how pregnancy suited his body. With Daphne it wouldn't be so easy. Luckily, with her it would be more acceptable, less shocking than for the world to learn their Chosen One was with child.
Taking a deep breath, he placed shaking hands on his own flat stomach. While no one else had noticed his changing figure, it was all he could think about. The only thought that ever crossed his mind was how wrong, unreal and impossible it was. Now it felt just as strange finding a flat stomach where his children used to be. Before he felt as though some monstrous beasts had taken residence in his body, while now he felt cold and empty. Why was it that being pregnant had been so awful, yet now that he wasn't it was just as bad? A different sort of wrong, but it felt just as awful.
Then came the reminder that they almost died. His children almost died because their stupid father couldn't stand being pregnant with them. There had been other reasons, sure. Very good reasons. They were in just as much, if not more, danger with him than being transferred to Daphne. The fact that he had even considered anything other than their wellbeing as a reason made him feel guilty. It didn't matter that no one knew anything about male pregnancy. It didn't matter that he was being targeted by some of the most powerful wizards in the world on the orders of the most notorious Dark Wizard since Grindlewald. The only thing he could remember now was how much he couldn't stand being pregnant and how eager he was to give the job to someone else. How selfish was he? His stomach twisted so tightly it hurt while his eyes darted around for a bucket, in case he actually did vomit.
Not only had the triplets been in danger, but Daphne had been at risk as well. They had all nearly died Hermione had said. They weren't even in the clear yet, if what she said were true. Daphne could still lose the babies. His children could die because of him. He had known the Transfer was dangerous. How stupid could he have been? All he had been able to think about was how desperate he was for it to work that he put more faith in it than he should have.
"H…Harry?" Hermione whispered. "Are you okay? Do I need to ge…? Cedric! Can you come over here?!"
He barely heard her. The memories played themselves over and over again in his mind. Reading up on the Transfer, talking to the group about it, Daphne volunteering herself as a surrogate, laying in the Room of Requirement right before everything. His imagination filled in the blanks of the time he had been unconscious. Waving wands and vile potions, his friends in a panic because he and Daphne were convulsing, a team of healers rushing in around them, his friends crying and screaming…
"What's wrong?" Cedric asked breathlessly.
"Look at him! Oh Merlin, I must have upset him. I'm so sorry, Harry, I didn't mean to…I just…Oh, but someone had to tell him, didn't they? He had to know the truth. Even if it…but I was…I shouldn't have…"
"Calm down, Hermione," Cedric said calmly, touching Harry's arm while he ran his wand along his body. "He had to be told, yes. Maybe we should have left that to Madam Pomfrey or the headmaster, but he had to know. He probably would have gotten upset even if they had told them. It's a lot to take in so it's not your fault. Harry, can you hear me?"
"Huh?" Harry said after a moment, blinking.
Cedric smiled softly. "You alright?"
"I…I think. How are they?" Harry asked, glancing in Daphne's direction.
"Doing well. She's only sleeping. We had to give her a sleeping potion. Her sister keeps working her up and, in her current condition, we can't have her getting too excited, that's all," he explained. "But she and the babies are in good health. We just want to keep an eye on all of them for the time being. Everything's a bit sensitive after the Transfer."
"They're fine?" Harry asked doubtfully, still staring at the bed.
Cedric nodded patiently. "Yes. They are. You have very strong children; I want you to know that. Consider who their parents are, alright? You and…you know…are very powerful, stubborn, strong men. They take after you both in that manner. Think about all they've survived already. They'll be fine."
Cedric was just trying to make him feel better. Or was he? Could it be true? Was there a chance that things could really work out? Harry wanted to beg him not to get his hopes up, but found the words stuck in his throat.
The children had survived the attack on Hogsmeade, despite how weak his and Snape's bond had been at the time. It had been worse than it was now! Then he had been attacked before he had even found out he was pregnant. Harry, himself, had survived the Killing Curse as a baby while Snape managed to keep up his role as a double agent for years. Maybe Cedric did have a point. That didn't make his children invincible but, maybe, they had a better chance than the average wizard. Maybe they were special and maybe that would keep them alive.
At some point during his ponderings, Cedric walked away leaving him alone with Hermione, who also appeared to be lost in thought. There was something about the way she looked, the sadness and fear still in her eyes, that made him feel guilty. He wasn't sure why he felt that way, at first, until he remembered what had happened to her. Before he could stop himself, he muttered, "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Hermione asked, blinking in surprise.
Still too caught up in his head, he didn't think much about the effect his words would have. "Well…You lost your baby…and all of this…" he waved dramatically, wishing he had the words to explain what was going through his mind. Hermione's baby had died, yet she had gone through so much trouble to help him with his. His triplets were alive and well, despite all of the danger they had faced within the womb so far. Now she was here, trying to comfort him, making sure he was okay when nothing bad had really happened. The triplets hadn't been seriously injured. While they had been at risk, at least they were okay for now. And, with Cedric's words, maybe they would be fine. Yet Hermione, who hadn't faced as much as Harry had, who hadn't been the biggest target of the enemy, had lost her baby. It wasn't fair. She had probably never thought of how horrible it was to be pregnant or wished her son had never existed. Draco had never hated his son as much as Snape hated theirs. The situation had still been strange, but at least Hermione's son had been more wanted. Now she had to sit here and listen to their relief over the Transfer's success when she had already suffered so much from her miscarriage. It wasn't as though she had recovered from it yet. Did women really ever fully recover from losing a baby? Now that Harry had faced the fear of losing his, he couldn't imagine what it would be like to actually suffer through something like that.
"Oh," Hermione said, paling.
He shouldn't have brought it up. She spent so much time trying to forget, distracting herself from what had happened, never truly dealing with it, that the thought had probably never crossed her mind! Now he had gone and upset her. "I shouldn't've…Only…Well, I…" Not sure where he was going with it, he finally gave up, shrugging apologetically.
"It's…fine," she said lamely, staring at the wall across from her. "I…I better go. I'll see you later, Harry."
"'Mione!" Harry called out as she quickly walked out of the infirmary. "Bloody hell."
When Ginny entered the infirmary, Blaise was alone at Daphne's side. She smiled up at him, changing direction when he beckoned her forward. Harry had been the reason she was up here but, one glance at his bed, told her he was gone. Smile fading into a frown, she walked towards Blaise. Neville had mentioned that Harry had woken up but, surely, he wasn't well enough to leave.
"Granger got upset by something, so Potter decided to follow her. Pomfrey's a wreck trying to find him. Diggory got it bad since he was supposed to keep an eye on him," Blaise explained as Ginny neared him.
"Great," Ginny said, rolling her eyes. "I'm amazed he was able to move at all. Cedric's been saying how weak he is, that it would be a while before he was good to go."
"Oh, he didn't have an easy time of it," Blaise assured her. "He fell a lot getting to the door, so Draco and Astoria went to help him along. Diggory's out looking for him too, so he'll be fine."
"He better be," Ginny muttered, glancing worriedly at the door. Harry was right stubborn, so it didn't surprise her the lengths he would go to when he was so determined. As she and his other friends had been in a panic since learning of the problems the Transfer caused, she had right to be concerned about him. She hadn't been here long, but already felt her body turning to face the door, wondering if it would be useful to try finding him.
"He's in good hands. Sit," Blaise said, motioning to the empty chairs on either side of him. "We have a few things to discuss, do we not?"
Cracking a smile, she slowly nodded then sat to his left. Glancing at Daphne's sleeping form, she had to ask. "Do you love her?"
Blaise raised an eyebrow, expression schooled, though she could see the surprise in his dark eyes. "That wasn't what I meant."
"I know what you meant," she said with a smile. "But that doesn't answer my question."
The Slytherin was pretty with porcelain skin, bright eyes, caramel colored hair, and a slender form. Most people didn't think she was as beautiful as her younger sister, but Ginny disagreed. She didn't think herself vain but, now and then, since knowing Daphne, she couldn't help but wished she looked as she did. Blaise was always close with her, as well. While Ginny might have been Blaise's soul mate, and Charlie being Daphne's, it didn't mean they were meant to fall in love. There was always this closeness between Blaise and Daphne that, now that she thought about it, she envied. He had been at her side since she had been brought to the hospital wing, every moment he could, risking skipping classes here and there, sometimes meals.
Would he have done the same for her?
"I love her, yes," Blaise sighed. "But not the way you think."
"Oh?" she asked, not daring to let herself feel relieved just yet. It was for Charlie's sake, surely. He hadn't been around his soul mate much, but Ginny could tell he was smitten with her.
"She's been my best friend since childhood, Ginny. Of course I love her," Blaise said. "Now, more importantly, we should discuss this bond."
"What is there to discuss?"
"When we want to do it. We never got that far when you agreed to it. Remember?"
"Oh," she sighed, rubbing her temples. "Right. Erm. Soon, maybe? Who would do it? We need someone who won't mind my parents disagreeing with it."
"Maybe Snape will," Blaise said with a grin. "If we can get Harry to offer him a blowjob or something for it."
"Blaise!" Ginny gasped, punching his arm hard.
"Ow! I'm just saying…Not that he would mind. Though he probably does that plenty, anyway, so maybe it's not the best bribe," Blaise said thoughtfully.
"You are disgusting," she laughed. "Be serious."
"Fine, fine," he said. "You think Granger could?"
"I dunno, maybe. She's really smart, but doesn't it take a lot to officiate bonds? Could she legally do it?"
"Yes," Blaise said with a grin. "The same way we can legally do it without the okay from your parents. Soul Bonds are so old, so unheard of, there aren't really any laws concerning it. Since there are some bonds that can be done at ages under seventeen, they couldn't categorize all bonds in particular laws, so they have to create specific rules for each bond. As most of the world considers soul mates and bonding to be myths, there's nothing they can really do. The only thing we need is to have an officiate who knows what he or she is doing and pull it off without screwing it up. Hermione is young, yes, but she's more intelligent and powerful than many adult wizards. I'm confident she could. If she can't, or won't, however, it shouldn't be too difficult to find someone to step in for us."
"Alright," Ginny said with a slow nod, for the first time in a week letting herself think about what she had agreed to. "We should have a few people at the bonding to keep an eye on things. You remember how things happened for Harry and Snape, then for Hermione and Draco."
"But we don't have the problems they had," Blaise reminded her, something flashing in his dark eyes that made her stomach flutter, pressing her thighs tightly together.
"Can't be too careful," Ginny said stiffly.
Ginny jumped, turning to look at her boyfriend, who looked furious. Blaise only settled back in his chair, regarding Draco with a cool look.
"You startled me. I didn't see you come in," Ginny said, relaxing. "And yes, we are."
Draco wasn't looking at her. His silver eyes were narrowed at Blaise, such anger in the gaze she had never seen from him before. Ginny frowned.
"No one thought to tell me, then? Or was it going to be a surprise after you'd already done it? Were you going to tell me at all?" he demanded.
"I didn't tell you already?" Ginny asked confusedly.
"No, you didn't," he snapped.
"I'm sorry," she replied carefully, but he still didn't spare her a glance. This was irritating. "Look, I thought you knew. We've all had a fair bit on our minds this past week, yeah?" When she didn't get an answer, she glared and ploughed on. "We decided on this right before the Transfer, Draco, then everything happened. I've been a bit preoccupied, so you'll have to forgive me that something slipped my mind when everyone's been upset. Harry's one of my best friends." Her voice cracked, eyes stinging as she fell onto the sore subject. "They almost died, Draco! Then Harry didn't wake up, even after Daphne did. We didn't know what was going to happen to him!"
Both wizards moved closer to her. Draco knelt down beside her while Blaise scooted his chair nearer, wrapping an arm around her shoulders as the blond took her hand.
"They said he would be fine, but how could we know that? He was out for a week. So I didn't tell you, but I thought I had. That doesn't mean you can waltz in and be a great prat about it, Draco!" Ginny snapped, blushing as she wiped her eyes.
"I wasn't mad at you, Gin," Draco assured her. "It was him."
"He's trying to take you away from me! Can't you see that?"
Silence followed the statement as the redhead gaped at him, Blaise feigning a look of innocent confusion.
"HAVE YOU GONE MAD?!"
"Ginevra Weasley!" scolded Madam Pomfrey from a nearby bed. "I must ask that you…"
"Yeah, I know," Ginny growled, grabbing Draco's arm and pulling him out of the room. He stumbled after her until she came to a stop midway down the corridor.
"Don't you dare!" she growled. "Why? Why on earth do you have to act like such a paranoid git?"
"I'm not paranoid! He wants you, Ginny! Why are you being so blind?"
"You…you! Ugh, I can't even…What's the matter with you, huh? Blaise is your best friend! He also just so happens to be my soul mate. Do you see me running around all upset over you being bonded to Hermione? No!"
"We weren't dating when I bonded with her!" Draco snapped.
"But what does it matter?" she cried. "If being bound to Hermione doesn't interfere with our relationship, then why would bonding with Blaise do that?"
"Because I don't have feelings for her and she doesn't for me!"
"You slept with her! At least I haven't gone and shagged Blaise, have I? The way I see it, I have more to worry about than you do. Okay? Now drop it. We're going to bond because we want to help the war effort. Blaise and I, unlike most of you, actually care about being useful and won't let anything get in the way of it! We'll nurture our bond, as we should, without resorting to sex or anything like that! Do you want to know why?"
"I care about you! So does Blaise. In fact, he's been your friend longer than I've been around. For you to antagonize him like this is uncalled for, immature, and unfair to Blaise. Do me a favor and stop assuming things. I would really like to have your blessing in this, but I promise it's not going to change my mind one way or the other."
"You don't know him like I do, Ginny," Draco said quietly.
"Maybe not," she snapped. "What I do know is that even if he did have different intentions, doesn't mean I would go along with it. I have you, Draco, and I'm not the cheating type. The fact that you don't know that really worries me."
Draco sighed heavily, cursing himself under his breath as Ginny stalked off. "Wait, Ginny!"
"Leave me alone, Draco!"
"I see that went well," a familiar voice said quietly from behind him.
Draco spun around to glare at Blaise. "I know what you're doing."
Blaise only smirked, raising an eyebrow. "Do you?"
With that he pushed back Draco, following after Ginny. Draco clenched his fists, tempted to follow them. Unwilling to upset Ginny further, he struggled to convince his body to turn around to head back to the infirmary. Might as well sit with Daphne until she woke up or until Potter had the sense to return.
"Draco apparently lost Harry," sighed Neville as he rejoined his boyfriend by the statue of Wilke the Wise. When they had split up to go in search of Harry and Hermione, they agreed to meet back here when they were done.
Cedric frowned, extending his hand to the blond, linking fingers as he pulled him closer. "How did he lose him? Harry's not exactly in the best condition right now."
"Not sure. He wouldn't say," Neville shrugged. "He might've seen Ginny or something, though."
"Nice," snorted Cedric. "Where could he have gone? He only woke up a few hours ago. He's weak right now. They said he couldn't even make it out of the infirmary on his own."
"I know," Neville said. "D'you want to try again?"
"Might as well. Poppy will have my head if we can't get him back soon."
Ten minutes later and one floor down, they heard before they saw the missing pair. Heavy panting, a squeak, and the thud of a body against stone. Neville and Cedric glanced at each other then walked faster towards the noise. Their suspicions were confirmed when they heard Hermione's voice say, "Harry! You should never have left, you prat!"
"You shouldn't have run off," Harry joked breathlessly.
Around the corner they found Harry sitting on the floor, back against the wall, sucking in deep breaths exhaustedly. Hermione was kneeling on the floor beside him, eyes puffy and red, face wet from tears that had been wiped hastily. She noticed them almost immediately, opening her mouth to greet them, but Harry's voice stopped her.
"I'm sorry, Hermione. I needed to make sure you were okay. It's been hard for you, I get that. You were upset, I couldn't just…Oh fuck," Harry hissed, cringing, reaching up to grab his head. "Dizzy."
"Let's get you back, Harry," Neville said, coming up to them.
"Where you'll stay," Cedric said firmly. "Madam Pomfrey's not happy with you."
"I bet," Harry laughed. "I was fine. I thought I was anyway."
"Right," Neville rolled his eyes.
"You don't have to be sorry, Harry," Hermione said suddenly.
Neville and Cedric stopped in their motion to grab Harry, turning uncertainly to the witch. She glanced at them, then her friend hesitantly. "I have to tell you something." Tears filled her dark eyes again, voice cracking. "Please…please…please don't hate me."
"Couldn't hate you, 'Mione," Harry assured her.
"D'you want us…?" Neville began, motioning that he and Cedric could leave.
Hermione shook her head then took a deep breath. "I really messed up. You can't tell anyone."
"Sure," Cedric said.
"You know we won't," Neville promised.
It took her a moment, still breathing evenly, keeping herself calm. When she moved her lips, they heard sound, but it was too quiet to decipher her words. Immediately after, she choked back a sob, letting her head drop into her hands. Harry launched himself forward to hold her, but wasn't steady enough to manage a proper hug. Hermione fell onto her side with an "ummph!" then she giggled, sniffing, as she struggled to right them. Cedric leaned down to help Harry while Neville kneeled beside Hermione to aid her.
"We…erm…I don't think we all got that, Hermione," Neville said gently.
Horrified, Hermione looked at the others for confirmation who both nodded awkwardly. "God," Hermione muttered, nervously tugging at her thick hair. "It's just…I didn't…I didn't really…" Looking furious with herself, she shook her head, struggling with her thoughts. The wizards all waited patiently for her, sharing questioning glances until she finally whispered, "I didn't actually lose the baby."
With her eyes on the floor, three pairs of eyes stared at her blankly. She didn't lose the baby? Confused, Neville's hazel eyes strayed to her flat stomach. She hadn't had an abortion, had she? Not after her vocal opinion about it when they thought Harry was considering the same thing. As it had been after her supposed miscarriage, perhaps she regretted the decision.
"What do you mean? I thought…but…" Harry finally sputtered.
"Hermione, what happened?" Cedric asked calmly.
Neville wanted to ask if she had an abortion or not, but decided it might be a tad insensitive, and on the off chance she hadn't, it would be best to let her answer on her own.
"I…I…" she began. Tears leaked from her eyes rapidly. "I didn't mean to do it! It's just…After the battle…Madam Pomfrey said I almost lost the baby! Okay? She said I came really close to having a miscarriage, that I'd have to be very careful and I'd probably have to be on bed rest before long. I was so scared I was going to lose him anyway. I just kept thinking of how I almost did lose him. So…so then I was walking back to the Tower and I saw Draco with Ginny. I was really angry, upset…Just…Miserable. And terrified. I don't know why I did it! I just…I told him I lost the baby. I don't know why I didn't, I really don't! It just…it just came out and…and I know it's terrible! It's awful! How could I…? But I did. And I…Well, how do you tell the truth after something like that?"
She looked as though she would keep rambling, so Harry reached out to touch her arm which brought her to a halt, eyes wide, body constantly twitching like a terrified baby bird. Shooting a helpless look to her friends, she pressed her lips closed tightly, wringing her hands in her lap.
"Err…You don't really look…" Harry said, motioning to her thin figure.
"What? Oh," she said, frowning bitterly at her stomach. "Remember that book I had on concealing pregnancy? I put it to good use."
"You know you can't hide this forever, don't you?" Neville asked gently.
"I can try," she replied, sniffing as she wiped her eyes. Her cheeks flamed as she confessed, "I haven't fully worked out all of the details. What if I go into labor in the middle of class? If I start having contractions, I can try to get out, claim I'm sick or something. As long as my water doesn't break in front of people, I can probably get away with it…"
Neville raised an eyebrow, glancing at the others. Harry looked horrified while Cedric nodded calmly.
"There…baby. There's gonna be a baby, y'know?" Neville pointed out confusedly.
"I'm giving him up for adoption," Hermione replied promptly, followed by a violent hiccup that jerked her whole body.
"You…Why?" Harry asked.
"I'm too young to be a mother," Hermione sighed, sitting back on her bum, folding her legs Indian style. "Don't get me wrong, I love him. Of course I do. Let's face it, though. I'm only eighteen. I still have to finish school, I have a career I want to start, there's this war…I don't have much more to give. Someone can do better by my son than I can."
"What about Malfoy?" Cedric asked. "He's the father."
"He never really wanted to be a father, did he?" she pointed out firmly, though her eyes betrayed her doubt. "Sure, he was upset when I said I lost him. Anyone would be upset. It was sad. There isn't a doubt in my mind that he was a little relieved by it. Neither of us are ready for this."
"Don't you think you should leave that decision to him?" Cedric asked.
Cringing, Hermione glared at the wall, mulling things over as she chewed on the inside of her mouth. Neville could only imagine how she was feeling or what was going through her mind. How could she stand giving up her son only to watch the father actually step up to the plate? What if she let Draco have a chance only for him to fail as a parent? What if Draco and Ginny's relationship thrived and she had to watch her best friend become a mother to her own son? It was selfish, sure, but he could understand how that might be hard for her.
"I…" she said, mouth ajar as she struggled to force out more words, before whimpering and shaking her head.
"It's…that's not fair to him, 'Mione," Neville said.
"I know," she whispered. "But I…You can't tell him. You swore you wouldn't…Please, don't. I don't know what to do but don't…I just…I'm so sorry. I made everyone worry about me and I just…"
"Even if you did lie, you were still suffering because of it. Of course we were worried. We still are," Cedric assured her. "What you're doing might not be right, but we care about you."
"Definitely," Harry said, nodding, though the action made him close his eyes, lean his head back against the wall, and take deep breaths.
"We should get you back to the hospital wing," Cedric frowned.
"Nah, I'm fine. 'Mione…"
"We can worry about me later," she said briskly, wiping her eyes again before sitting up straight.
"We need to help you," Harry argued.
"I don't need help. I've got this figured out," Hermione claimed.
Neville glanced uneasily at Cedric who met his eyes a second later. "You need to at least consider…"
"I'll consider it," she snapped. "Look, I know, it's wrong, okay? It's just…this is a lot to deal with. I've really messed up, and, quite frankly, there are more important things to worry about than Draco Malfoy knowing the truth. The baby's fine right now."
"But you did admit the pregnancy is a bit fragile," Cedric pointed out. "He should know…"
"If something does happen, then what good does knowing do?"
"He can help…" Neville said.
"Stop," she said loudly, glaring at him. "I'll handle…We can talk about this later. Right now, we need to get Harry back before he passes out. He should have never left in the first place."
"Oh, right," Cedric said, looking abashed.
"I'm fine," Harry argued obstinately.
Cedric chuckled. "C'mon. You won't be fine for long if you try hiding."
"Oh yeah," Harry said, paling when he realized that Madam Pomfrey was mad at him.
"Might as well get it over with," Neville reassured him, standing up then extending his hand to help Hermione up. Cedric held onto Harry, standing them both up. Hermione took his other side before Neville could, huffing at the concerned look he gave her.
"I'm not useless, Neville," she admonished.
"You can't be too careful," he said apologetically.
"If you put too much strain on yourself…" Cedric began.
"Fine, fine," she mumbled, mollified. Neville took over while Hermione stepped aside, hand stroking down her front gently.
Together, the group walked down the corridors. Harry, on weak, wobbly legs, slowed them down, but he was determined, struggling to move on his own the best he could. Cedric and Neville were on either side of him, holding his arms, offering their strength and support. For a few minutes, Hermione walked alongside them. Upon noticing how sad and lost in thought she was, Neville offered a supportive arm which she took with a grateful smile.
"What do you mean you can't find him?" Severus demanded furiously.
Poppy stuck him with her most deadly glare, not fazing him as it might have the majority of the school. He met her glower with one of his own, tense silence between them until the mediwitch clucked, reaching out to take the tray of potions he had brought her. The infirmary would be more than stocked by now, considering he had been bringing in new potions everyday, his excuse for daily visits used mainly to check the condition of his soul mate. It was more for his own selfish reasons. Would it do well to have his bondmate die before their bond was in better condition? Everyone would take it to mean something else. Dumbledore seemed to see right through him, anyway, by that damnable twinkling and small smile that graced his wrinkled face after the first visit. The last thing he needed was for anyone else to get the wrong idea.
"Harry Potter is a stubborn, stubborn boy, Severus," she replied coldly. "I had a meeting with the healers from St. Mungo's, when I returned he was gone. Mr. Zabini said that Potter tried to follow after Miss Granger, but was too weak. Mr. Malfoy helped him out. Misters Diggory and Longbottom went out to find him when they realized. I'm just as upset as you, Severus, so please refrain from blaming me."
It was her responsibility to make sure the idiot was safe. Knowing how impossible Potter was, she should have taken extra precautions to be sure he couldn't do anything so rash and ignorant. Instead of voicing this, he gritted his teeth, turning to where Blaise was sitting by Daphne's bed, the two sharing a deep conversation. As he turned to approach the pair, the doors opened, revealing a familiar mess of black hair.
"Potter!" Severus and Poppy barked at the same time.
Supported by Diggory and Longbottom, Potter was pale, looking tired. While the others flinched at the tone, he did not, only glancing at them dully.
"You are in no condition to be up and about, Mr. Potter!" fussed Poppy, rushing to his side. At her insistence, the boys let him go, allowing her to lead him to his bed on his own.
"How you manage to survive breaking the rules that you do, Potter, is truly astounding," Severus said dryly, unable to help himself.
Poppy shot him a nasty look, but was too busy plucking phials of potions from the bedside table, making sure she had the right ones, to say anything. Longbottom and Diggory shook their heads, whispering to one another, while Granger grasped Potter's hand, watching him concerned. The boy, himself, was in bad shape, no doubt playing up on the concern and sympathy of those around him. He might have been paler than normal, but surely a notorious rule breaker such as he could fake those unfocused eyes and the believable tremble of his hands. How unsettled his stomach was, though a small bout of relief at finding him alive, was contributed to this bothersome bond. He held his anger and frustration to him desperately as his eyes narrowed furiously at the child.
The boy might have said something had Poppy not begun forcing potions down his throat. Several minutes later, she bustled over to Daphne's side to tend to her while Potter had regained enough strength to meet his stare. "What are you doing here?"
"I stock the infirmary with potions, being as I am the Potions Master," Severus retorted.
"Then stock away. Dunno why you have to sit around looking at me," Potter said, voice hoarse.
Damn it. "I was curious about the state of your condition in the aftermath of your tragic accident," he lied smoothly.
"I didn't think you cared," he snorted.
He was really losing touch if the boy was making so many good points. It was unwise to speak openly in front of so many people, though he did wonder if Potter had shared the truth with any of his moronic friends. If he had, though, surely the brats would have gone to someone. He would know about it by now.
"I assure you any interest I may have on the subject is not that of a personal or sentimental nature," he growled.
"'Course not," Potter mumbled. "The 'accident' didn't do anything, as I decided to get rid of them just before."
It was as if an incantation had been uttered, robbing him of his insides. Every thought, every feeling, his very soul had fled his body. Potter continued to glare stubbornly at him while Severus struggled to overcome the emptiness and coldness that disturbed him. The boy would never do such a thing, would he? No matter how much Severus had wanted it.
"You what?" he whispered dangerously, feeling slowly trickling back into him.
"Shouldn't you be celebrating right about now?" Potter demanded. "You won't have any more Potters to survive anytime soon."
"I am merely surprised you had the courage to do something so sensible," he snapped before he fully had his mind back. Today was not his day, for him to be making such a fool of himself, in front of Gryffindors, no less! Why was he so concerned, when this was exactly what he had wanted?
Internally, he struggled to pull himself together before he really screwed up. Granger appeared disgusted with his comment, which brought some comfort and strength back to him. He could have sworn he hear her mumble something sarcastically about how brave cold-blooded murder was, earning her a sharp look from her friend.
"Twenty points from Gryffindor, I think, as I'm certain no one else has had the mind to do so," Severus said before turning on his heel, sweeping out of the room.
The walk back to his dungeons flew by faster than usual. There was too much on his mind for him to notice his surroundings or the time passing by. Potter had actually done it. Unless, of course, whatever accident had landed him in the infirmary had, in fact, caused him to miscarry. Why would he lie, then, when he had already been so adamant about not doing so? What damage would the truth do? On the other hand, if he had been so against the idea of abortion, then why do it now?
Why is it bothering you so much? A sly voice in his head demanded. This was what you wanted all along.
"It's not bothering me," he muttered to himself as he entered his rooms. "It doesn't make sense."
Let it be. Don't complain when things actually go your way.
Potter was right. He should be celebrating the news. There would be no babies with his nose or his blood, no assumption of obligation from anyone. With the fetuses out of the way, there was one tie broken between the boy and himself. The bond was bad enough to share without adding more. With no living proof of their liaisons, there was less of a chance of the truth coming out.
Severus poured himself a drink before pacing the floor.
He wasn't cut out for fatherhood, nor was Potter. One too damaged, one too young and too damaged. The triplets were better off dead. They were three less beings to worry about in this godforsaken world.
So why did it bother him so much? Something was nagging in his stomach, an unknown thought prodding the back of his mind. Maybe it was the fact that the decision was so uncharacteristic of the boy. That must be it. Something very wrong had to take place to bring him to such a conclusion.
What on earth had the accident been anyway? Had it been an abortion gone wrong? Then why was Daphne hurt, too? It was no coincidence they ended up in the hospital wing at the same time. Even if Daphne had been involved in the abortion, how could she have gotten hurt?
Unless the magic of the fetuses had reached out in defense of themselves. Such occurrences were very uncommon, however. Very unlikely, particularly in their own weakened state, and that of their carriers. Potter was a powerful wizard, as was Severus himself. Could there be a small possibility that, despite the circumstances, they, or one of them, had gained enough ability from the womb to attack another person? Even if they did, they couldn't be developed enough now to do so, could they?
More importantly, what had kept Potter unconscious for so long? According to Poppy, Daphne had sustained more damage than him, yet she was recovering faster. More blame was placed upon the bond as well as their carelessness with it, but Severus didn't like to think so. All the same, he would have to consider Dumbledore's encouragement of warming up to the boy a bit more. Severus very well didn't want to see the boy die, regardless of his personal feelings for the brat.
Yes, he had a Dark Lord to defeat, doesn't he? Demanded the amused voice in his head.
Severus drained his glass then refilled it.
Author's Note: Sorry it took so long, but I hope you enjoyed it!
Thanks to AlmondWithUnicornHair, Bloody dawn, hentai18ancilla, Tokugawa Blitzer, Guest, Clockpark, mauralee88, Nocturnal Rose, Gabrielle Rickman Snape, lalaland, Guest, Guest, sev's-sexy-mistress, xXxElectraxXx, E. Chickarita, Soundgarden9, atymer, ieatmyfeelings, YetAnotherJanewayFan, MagicalWinry, Paige Taylor, vampy-chan17, ZianaSue, and Mc3mnoch7 for reviewing! Thank you to everyone reading, favoriting, and following, as well!
Also a special thanks to Dani for betaing for me!
Don't forget you can like me on FB for updates on all of my stories!