A/N: A huge thanks for all the love and support you've all been giving! I really appreciate it!

Disclaimer: JKR owns Harry Potter, not me.

Chapter 42

The door to the office swung open a few minutes later and Hermione appeared. "Hello, Kingsley," she said softly, moving into the study.

"Hermione," he said, standing up and abruptly pulling her into a hug. "I feared the worst, but I'm glad to see you're safe."

Hermione laughed, hugging him back. "Oh Kingsley, it's so good to see you!" Hermione took a step back, giving the older wizard a smile. Turning, she saw Severus in the doorway. "You can leave Severus, I'll be fine."

Severus narrowed his eyes. "If anything happens to her Kingsley, I'll kill you with my bare hands." And with that, he left the room, his cloak billowing behind him.

Hermione gave Kingsley an apologetic look. "They're a bit overprotective."

Kingsley chuckled. "You're future husband is the worse."

Hermione made a sour face. "He means well, even though it's hard to believe."

He nodded, taking a seat. "I wasn't sure if I should believe him or not, but I think I do. I mean, he seemed sincere."

"Tom is, he really does want the War to be over," Hermione sat down on the couch, pulling her feet up.

"I will do my best to take care of some of the Death Eaters," he said.

Hermione smiled. She knew Kingsley was the right one to approach. He was always so much more level headed than all the other Order members. Kingsley would do the right thing, even if it meant going against what Dumbledore wanted. He had a conscious and would use it.

Kingsley still couldn't believe Hermione was sitting before him. The whole situation was just so unreal. What would anyone say if he told them what had happened? No doubt they wouldn't believe him. He had been told that Hermione had become twisted into some monster, one incapable of remorse. But the girl he saw last night was proof that wasn't true. Hermione looked happy last night, especially when she was in the arms of her supposed beloved.

He was gentle with her, his eyes soft when he looked at her. Hermione was definitely his soft spot… his weakness. Kingsley's eyes widened. If Dumbledore found that out, no doubt he'd use Hermione against him. He couldn't let that happen…

Dumbledore seemed to believe that the end always justified the means, but Kingsley didn't share that sentiment. He wouldn't harm one person, just to hurt another. But Dumbledore would.

It was when he saw Hermione lost in her own thoughts with a smile on her face that Kingsley realized he didn't want to hurt her, or the man that she loved. And Dumbledore would. Kingsley couldn't let that happen.

His eyes moved down towards Hermione's stomach as her hand slowly caressed it.

"So you're pregnant?" he asked, a small smile playing on his lips.

Hermione nodded. "Oh yes, I'm about four months now." A faint blush spread on her cheeks as she began to play with the edge of her tee shirt.

"You'll be a wonderful mother," Kingsley said, giving Hermione a smile.

She blushed. "You really think so? I've been rather nervous about the whole situation. Everyone is confident in me, but I don't know, I can't help but being doubtful."

"Well, I don't know much about babies, but shouldn't you be seeing a healer?"

Hermione let out a small laugh. "You know how well that went."

Kingsley fidgeted in his seat. "I'll arrange for a healer to come to the Manor, one whom I'll swear to secrecy."

"Would you really do that?" Hermione's eyes widened. If he could, then that would be wonderful.

Kingsley nodded. "I have a niece that is a healer, and I'm sure she'd come check up on you if I asked her too."

Hermione smiled. She tucked a loose curl behind her ear while letting out a sigh of relief. "That would be wonderful. I was a bit nervous about trying to see someone to check up on things and make sure I'm progressing all right."

Kingsley nodded. "I'll contact her as soon as I get home. Just have Vol- Tom send me the okay."

She nodded. "I will."

A silence lapsed between the two. A thought filled Hermione's head, causing her to look upwards. "So you didn't know about Tom and me?"

Kingsley shook his head. "No, I didn't. Should I?"

Hermione shrugged. "I told Harry last night when we were fighting. I would have thought he would have told the others."

That is strange… why wouldn't Harry say anything? "He hasn't told anyone as far as I'm aware of."

"But why not?"

"Maybe Harry's confused. I mean, he's been told such awful things about you; maybe he can't help but doubt them now that he's seen you," Kingsley suggested.

"Perhaps. I don't know, I just wish he'd understand," Hermione whispered. A small sniffle sounded out and she quickly wiped a tear off her cheek.

Hermione stood, straightening out her wrinkled clothes. "Kingsley I really appreciate you doing all this."

Kingsley stood, giving the young witch a smile. "It's no problem Hermione. I want this war to be over, and this seems like a good solution, although I can tell you not many others would agree."

She shrugged. "Let them think what they want."

"They will," he said. He gave her a quick hug. Pulling away, he saw her face had gone pale. "Are you all right?"

Hermione nodded, waving her hand. "Just the pregnancy, I'm going to go to bed. Can you see yourself out?"

Kingsley nodded, looking at Hermione with concern. "Yes, I'll be awaiting the letter. Be careful."

Hermione smiled. "I'm always careful Kingsley; I'm not the brightest witch of this age for nothing."

Kingsley laughed, and then watched as she disappeared down the hallway.

"She's safe here," a voice said from behind him. Turning, Kingsley saw Snape standing there.

"Is she?" he asked.

Snape nodded. "I'll see you to the door."

The two of them walked down the halls of the Manor in silence.

Hermione was halfway to her room when she heard footsteps behind her. Pulling out her wand, Hermione quickly turned around.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't the Mudblood whore," Bellatrix hissed, her wand pointing at Hermione.

"What do you want?" Hermione asked, trying to ignore the panic rising in her chest.

"I want you dead, for starters," the insane witch hissed. She raised her wand at Hermione, prepared to curse her. "Cru-"

Before Hermione could defend herself, a large hiss sounded out. Looking down, Hermione was surprised to see that Nagini has placed herself between Hermione and Bellatrix. The snake had its head raised, poised to strike.

Bellatrix's eyes flashed with anger as she lowered her wand. Nagini hissed at her once more. She took a step backwards, not wanting to anger the snake.

"I'll get you one of these days Mudblood, and you'll be sorry," Bellatrix promised, a look of pure hatred in her eyes.

Hermione leaned up against the wall, a sob escaping her lips. Bellatrix terrified her, there was no denying it. And if Nagini hadn't shown up, Hermione hated to think what would have happened.

Looking down, she saw the snake curled up at her feet. Hermione hadn't seen much of Nagini while living here, but was grateful the snake came to her aid when she needed it the most.

With a sigh, she continued towards her rooms, Nagini slithering behind her.