It was a week before Christmas and the little town of Hogsmeade was standing like a postcard. Snowflakes were falling gracefully from the sky and landing on the ground covering the cobbled streets like a thick blanket of snow. Footprint trails led off into shops or warm pubs full of merry drunkards, and along with fading Christmas Carols, the festive cheer and spirit floated in the air.
In the Burrow, Mrs Weasley was bustling around the kitchen humming 'Santa Baby' jollily as she prepared the roast dinner. Sunday roasts for the Weasley's and all their extended family and friends was a weekly ritual where everyone came together to chat and share news, have a laugh, a drink or two (maybe three) and enjoy a delicious meal. It was tradition, and it was rare when somebody owled to say they couldn't make it. Even rarer when it was Hermione Granger.
Hermione shared a wonderful little flat along Hogsmeade high street with Ginny, so the two always came to dinner together. The first week when Ginny arrived alone saying Hermione was ill, Molly understood, even sympathised, for Hermione was like a second daughter to her. The second week when she was absent again because she had an overload of work to finish, Molly understood then too. Hermione worked as a Healer at St. Mungos, and the hours were ridiculously long, so of course she was going to be exhausted. And then there was the third, fourth and fifth week with her gone, as she had taken time off work (for the first time in three years) and gone on to visit her parents in Australia, which seemed a very sudden and spontaneous trip for Hermione, who was the type of person to spend weeks making a decision rather than hurrying into a rash one. Molly owled her and said that when she was back, she simply must join them for dinner and see everyone. She had been gone a month and a half and they missed her. Hermione said she would, but when she was home she excused herself from that meal too, saying she was a Bridesmaid at her cousin's wedding. And now, Molly could hide her suspicions no longer. Something was going on with Hermione, and she was definitely going to find out what.
Ginny was standing in the hallway mirror having just finished applying her mascara. It was Sunday, which of course, meant Roast dinner at the Burrow. She always looked forward to her mum's dinners at her childhood home, but this time even more so as it was the first time Hermione would be seeing everyone after her long two month absence. Being her flatmate and closest girlfriend, Ginny would be a terrible liar if she said that she hadn't noticed Hermione acting different recently, but whenever she asked her what was wrong her reply would be the same – that she was stressed about work. Every Sunday when she arrived she would be bombarded with questions about her friend, and every Sunday she would pass on the same message. And now after weeks of hearing 'she's just tired from work', all of them - her parents, Harry, Ron, Fred, George, Sirius, Remus, Tonks and even little Teddy were growing suspicious about her, not to mention very worried. Ginny sighed and gave herself a final once over in the mirror, hoping that whatever was going on with her friend would be sorted out soon. They wanted their old Hermione back.
Satisfied she looked good, she turned around and waited for Hermione to come out of the toilet.
"Herms, what's taking you so long?" she asked. "You've been in there for nearly ten minutes!"
Inside the bathroom, Hermione stood facing the wall, her forehead resting on the cold tiles as she tried to will down the thumping beat of her heart. Only one minute and six seconds left. Fuck. She couldn't remember a time she felt more nervous than she did right now. She glanced at her watch again. Fifty two seconds left…
At her silence, Ginny furrowed her eyebrows and strode to the bathroom door, knocking lightly. "Hermione?"
Hermione turned around quickly, knocking the soap from the sink top as she did so. "Er – I'll be out in a minute Gin!" she called hoarsely back, hastily snatching the soap from the floor and replacing it. Twenty seconds left. Shit.
"Alright but we should have been there fifteen minutes ago," Ginny replied, cocking an eyebrow when she heard her friend breathing heavily from the other side of the door. "Have you got diarrhoea or something-?"
Hermione ignored her and bit hard down on her bottom lip as she reached out with a shaky hand to take the test from the side of the bath.
"I'll be out in a second!" Hermione shouted back, inclining her head to the door and back to the object in her quivering hand. Exhaling nervously, she forced herself to open her eyes and peer down at it. When had she become such a coward? A split second later – she dropped the test to the floor and leapt back as if it was a poisonous spider. There, as clear as ever was a little green plus sign. It was positive.
Having lost interest with twirling her house keys in her hand, Ginny huffed impatiently and stormed back to the bathroom door ready to knock it down. She raised her fist to smash it against the wood when a whimpered cry stopped her.
"Hermione?" Ginny spoke lowly. "Are you okay?"
Hermione swore under her breath and not knowing what to do with herself, spun on the spot and hurriedly whipped a few cupboards open and slammed them shut, before staring back at the thing in her hand. Please say that was a hallucination. She whispered over and over. But of course it wasn't. Squinting, the plus sign in front of her was as clear as ever.
"No." Her breath hitched and she sunk to the floor, her face in her hands. "No!"
"Hermione for fucks sake! What are you doing babe?"
She was knocking harder on the door now, worried for her friend. Hermione looked up and inhaled deeply, her breath shaky and broken as she gasped for air.
"Oh my god," she sobbed, "this can't be happening…"
Ginny's eyes widened in concern and she knocked harder on the door. She had never heard Hermione sound so upset. She was – undoubtedly - one of the strongest and bravest people she knew, which only made it worse, as it meant that whatever it was that had happened was something big.
"Hermione," she said in a firm voice of no argument. "Let me in and tell me what's going on. If you don't, I'm going to hex the door down anyway, so you may as well open up."
A few minutes later there was a click of lock and the door creaked open. Hermione stepped out, her cheeks streaked with tears and her body stiff with shock. Ginny closed the space between them immediately and gripped her forearms. "Babe, what's going on? What happened?"
Hermione shook her head and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, sniffling. "I – I can't believe it Ginny," she muttered, so quietly the redhead had to lean in to hear.
"What can't you believe?" Ginny asked tenderly. "You can tell me, Herms-" Ginny began, but stopped abruptly when Hermione shook her head again and buried her head in her neck, crying.
"I c-can't – can't do this Gin…" she sobbed.
"Herms…Herms talk to me about it," she whispered back, stroking her hair as the tears continued pouring. "We tell each other everything don't we?"
"We – we used to," Hermione hiccupped, "But the past few weeks…" she cried harder. "I - I want to tell you but - it's just so… so hard. I can't-!"
Ginny frowned in concern and rubbed her back comfortingly. "Sure you can. It's not about work is it? Like you've been saying it is?"
Hermione pulled back from their hug, her chocolate eyes wet and blotchy. "No, it's nothing to do with work…" she answered honestly, nibbling on her nails.
Something caught Ginny's eye over her friend's shoulder and she froze.
"Is that – is that a pregnancy test?"
She nodded to the bathroom floor, and her jaw unhinged when she answered her own question. Moving closer, she could see that… yes. It was a pregnancy test. Her eyes swivelled back to Hermione, whose cheeks were flushed pink with guilt as she blinked back a fresh wave of tears.
"You might be pregnant?" she whispered, even though they were the only ones in their flat.
Hermione shook her head. "No." She peered up at her timidly. "I am pregnant."
Ginny couldn't hold in the gasp. Her hand clasped over her opened mouth and she stared at her best friend in complete and utter shock. They stayed like that, saying nothing but looking at each other and hoping this was all some kind of bizarre dream. Hermione broke. Her eyes flickered to the floor and she began fidgeting with her sleeve. Realising she wasn't helping matters, Ginny rushed over to her and pulled her into a tight hug again, letting her friend cry into her shoulder.
"It's okay Herms, it's okay..." Hermione sobbed harder. "Well it's not I know," Ginny recovered quickly, "but it will be. If this is the first test you've done - and I'm guessing it is, then you can't be sure. They're not always one hundred percent accurate. You never know, it might be a false alarm and this whole thing will be nothing. I'll owl mum and tell her we can't make dinner… I'll make a good enough excuse. She's going to go mad that you're missing another Sunday Roast, but this can't wait. We can run down the high street and get another test so you can know for sure-"
"There's no point," Hermione muttered, her voice muffled against her shoulder. "I know I am. I'm a month and a half late Ginny. I've been getting all the symptoms: sickness… tender breasts… tiredness… I've been getting them for ages, so I thought I'd go and get a test on the way back from work to see if I was right." She exhaled heavily. "And I was. It was positive."
Ginny rubbed her back and squeezed her tighter. "Are you keeping it?"
"Yes," she murmured, sounding confident for the first time. "No matter how young and unprepared I am, I love this baby from the bottom of my heart."
Ginny smiled and nodded. "Good. Who's is it?" she said in her ear. "The father…? Is it Ron?"
Hermione swallowed and squeezed her eyes shut. She was hoping to avoid this topic. "No," she replied shakily, pulling back. "I haven't – you know – been like that with him ever since we broke up - months before that actually… I wasn't too overstruck doing it with… with him…"
Ron and Hermione started going out together the night of the Battle of Hogwarts when they kissed in the Chamber of Secrets, but to Molly's dismay, they split ten months ago after agreeing that they made better friends than they did lovers. They wanted different things in life, so it was never going to last.
Ginny's jaw dropped once more. "It's not Ron's?" Hermione shook her head no, and she gaped at her, but recovered a few seconds later. She didn't want her friend to feel even more uncomfortable than she already did. "So… so whose is it then?"
Ginny found herself making a mental list of all the possibilities and crossing them off. Obviously it wasn't Harry's – she was engaged to him and hopefully, if he finished his Auror training on time, they would be married by next summer. She was digressing. So it wasn't Ron's either…
"Fred? George?" she found herself asking.
Hermione scoffed and laughed through her tears, fanning them dry. "No. I've never had the experience of a Weasley sandwich, and I don't want to thank you very much."
"That's very wise," Ginny grinned. "So that's a no to all my other brothers then?"
"Yes," she nodded. No doubt Mrs Weasley would be disappointed. She was very fond of Hermione and Grandchildren were something she was desperate for. She made no secret of hiding the fact.
"Well who else is there?" Ginny wondered aloud. "Dean? Seamus? Oliver?" she shrugged her shoulders, completely guessing. "Krum? Cormac? Ernie Macmillan?" she was plucking names from the air now. She didn't have a bloody clue.
"No, it's none of them," Hermione replied heavily, looking and feeling miserable. She took a deep breath, not believing she was about to say this herself. "It's-" she swore under her breath again. "I can't say it."
"I'm not going to draw the names out of a hat until you say yes," Ginny said, trying to keep her patience – though it was wearing thin. She was desperate to know who the father was. "Just tell me Herms, the longer you put it off the harder it will be-"
"Sirius. He's the baby father."
Ginny frowned. She was so very confused. "Who's baby?"
Hermione slapped her hand to her forehead in exasperation. "My baby!"
"WHAT!" Ginny whisper-shouted. "Our Sirius? Sirius Black? Sirius as in Harry's forty year old Godfather-?"
Hermione groaned and made a sound of acknowledgement. This time, Ginny couldn't pretend that she wasn't shocked. She was going mental.
"Oh my god Herms! SIRIUS? He's old enough to be our dad-!"
"No he's not!" Hermione exclaimed quickly. "He's not! He was in the Veil for five years and it froze his age, meaning he's thirty five-!"
Sirius returned from the Veil the minute Bellatrix was killed, waking up outside the archway in the Department of Mysteries. After being back for two days it was like he had never left. He had the same liking of firewhisky, the same charming flair about him, the same handsome face and gorgeous body… - only he was different too. Now when he smiled it was genuine and not a fake and fleeting 'on one minute of the next' smile as it once had been; he looked younger, happier and healthy, and it was heart-warming to see. Undoubtedly though, Sirius was a big kid, and the fact that Hermione had fallen for the Black charm was more shocking than anything.
"But…but it was always me who fancied him when we were younger! When we stayed at Grimmauld Place in the summer and for Christmas – I always got embarrassed around him but you didn't care at all! You didn't even get along with him! You didn't like him at all!"
She still didn't.
"I know," Hermione sighed, rubbing her face in exhaustion. "I know. I didn't back then and I don't now. He infuriates me, he really does. You know how we are…"
Ginny chuckled and made a very obvious nod. "I think everyone does, even though I see them more or less on a daily basis free of charge, I would willingly pay money to see your arguments. They are absolutely incredible."
And she wasn't lying. Sirius and Hermione were like chalk and cheese, clashed over everything, bickered over who should pass the salt, got on each other's nerves so much that Hermione would refuse to speak to him for days… the list went on. The only ways they were similar was in their bravery, love for Harry and stubbornness. They were both very, very stubborn!
"So tell me what happened," Ginny urged her, feeling rather excited. "I want to know how you went from arch enemies to having passionate sex."
Hermione threw her an un-amused glare.
"It was one night. Halloween. I'd been working a night shift at the Hospital and so by the time I apparated to the Burrow the party had finished and most people had gone to bed or left. Sirius was still up. And - and I don't know how it happened. I was tired and stressed and he offered me a cup of tea. I remember feeling so surprised..."
She looked surprised even as she re-called it.
"Anyway… I accepted, and he went away and came back with it and gave it to me. He then sat next to me and asked what was wrong. It took a while for him to convince me he wasn't there to annoy me – that he was there because he cared… so I told him, and then we talked for ages about everything… my family… his family… the war…and then- you won't believe this Gin…"
She shook her head in amazement, a small smile flicking across her lips. "He said how much he admired me and how brave I was when Bellatrix tortured me… and – and that he'd never properly thanked me for saving his life that time in third year. Then it all changed and…" her voice became light as if she was re-living it in her head. "He was leaning in and – and before I knew it we were kissing and touching and neither of us stopped. Then we just…" she waved her hands to indicate that things moved on. "And now here I am, twenty one and pregnant with his baby." She huffed in frustration. "It was one bloody night!"
"Wow." Ginny blinked, trying to let it all sink in. "It sounds quite… passionate. You hadn't been drinking at all?"
Hermione laughed bitterly. "Nope. Not a drop. That's the worst thing about it. I can't even use it as an excuse."
"What about him? Had he had any?"
She bit her lip in thought then shook her head, blushing slightly. "I would have tasted it on him if he had. He was acting like normal… we both were."
Ginny raised her eyebrows and smiled at her in an attempt to cheer her up, though it seemed unlikely. "Well at least you didn't have drunken sex you don't remember. What happened is much better."
"Really? I think it's worse," she mumbled.
Ginny looked apologetically at her. "Why didn't you tell me? I'm your best friend. I could have helped you."
Hermione looked up, her chocolate eyes filled with sadness and regret. "I'm so sorry," she muttered. "I wanted to, honestly Gin you won't believe how much I did… but whenever I tried to I didn't know what to say or – or where to start. I mean…" she groaned into her hands. "Oh god. I don't know what to do. I can't tell him! We haven't even spoken since it happened!"
Ginny's eyes widened in realisation. "Is that why you've been making excuses and missing weeks and weeks of Sunday dinners? Because Sirius would be there?"
"But why?" she asked her, rubbing her arm and almost laughing. "That's just silly! He's been asking me where you've been every week; obviously he wants to talk to you about it. Avoiding him is just making the situation worse… and plus-" she continued determinedly when Hermione tried to interrupt. "It's not exactly the Gryffindor way to do things is it? Run from your problems? When have you ever been scared of a man Hermione? You're one of the bravest people I know!"
"I'm not when it comes to sex and babies!" she retorted. "And anyway, if I had gone to your mum's every Sunday with him there what on earth would I say to him? It's bad enough we had sex, but being sober when it happened is even worse-"
"Forget that now, it's doesn't matter, honestly it doesn't. What does matter is your pregnant with his baby and the poor bloke has no idea! You know, he might not react as bad as you think. Sirius loves children; he's great with Teddy-"
"Oh come on Ginny are we talking about the same person? I know he's lovely with Teddy, I'm not saying he isn't… but he's not responsible for Teddy is he? Remus and Tonks are because they are his parents, in the same way that he will be responsible for our baby being its father – and Sirius isn't responsible! He can't even take care of himself, let alone a child! He's down the pub every night with the twins no doubt taking a different sleazy, slaggy blonde home each time… Remember what he was like with Harry at Hogwarts?"
"That doesn't matter! You can talk all day about his history; how he's an ex-convict, his family were a load of maniacs and blah blah blah, but - that stuff – it's irrelevant. Look Herms, I know this is huge but you really don't have a choice. You have to tell him. Whether you like it or not, it's his baby just as much as it's yours. He has a right to know."
"But it's Sirius," she mumbled helplessly, as if the line in itself was a reason. "I don't even like him."
Ginny cocked her eyebrow in inquisitively. "You liked him enough to sleep with him."
"Yes, one time!" Hermione fired up defensively.
Ginny shrugged and gave her shoulder a light squeeze. "Unfortunately whether it one time or a thousand times, it doesn't change the fact that he is the father of your child and you're going to have to tell him. Soon."
Hermione slumped back against the doorframe. She knew Ginny was right, but it was accepting and dealing with it that was the problem… She was pregnant with Sirius Black's baby. She was having a baby. The father was Sirius. Black.
There's something she'd never thought she'd say.
A/N: Like that thing called... oh what is it... the werewolf-weird-vampire-guy who climbs trees thing... Twlight is it? Yeah that crap - this story also came to me in a dream. Happy New Year! :)