Summary: "Why are you still awake?" he mumbled, smiling slightly. She ignored this, "I want a baby." One-shot. HGSS.
Rating: T (for strong language)
Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling, I have no affiliation with Warner Brothers, Scholastic or Bloomsberry, and I have no rights to Harry Potter. Song lyrics are the sole property of Andrew Belle. No copyright infringement intended.
Petrichor: noun) the pleasant scent of dust after rain
"I tap my feet and close the door to your apartment.
And I know you're never going to understand."
- Static Waves (Andrew Belle)
She lay in bed, the sheets arose around her as if they were waves bundling her. The ceiling looked dark and grew darker still as she stared at it. The single candle on the side table grew bigger and bigger until she realized she needed to blink. When she did, the blurriness remained and got worse as the water fell from her eyes, leaving behind rivulets ingrained in her skin.
It dried as fast as it came. She inhaled deeply, feeling the breath rattling her ribs. She turned on her side and clenched the falling sheets and looked at Severus.
He was draped lankly across his pillow and the picture had her stifling a giggle. Her lackluster curls hung around her face as she waited. And as if he knew, his eyes opened sleepily.
"Why are you still awake?" he mumbled, smiling slightly.
She ignored this.
"I want a baby."
"Don't leave!" wailed the fiery haired child as he writhed in Hermione's arms.
Hermione laughed, kissing his cheek, "Oh, my dear, but I've got to. Uncle Severus is waiting for me."
James made a face, stuck his tongue out and blew a raspberry at the tall man who hovered awkwardly in the doorway. He threw an expression at him that Hermione supposed was meant to be a smile, but looked more like a grimace than anything.
"I don't know why you feel obliged to look after them," Severus murmured, steering Hermione towards the floo grate.
She opened her mouth to answer and was rewarded with an inhalation of Britain's finest soot.
"They've got plenty of family," continued he, brushing himself off and striding into the apothecary where he worked, "You've been looking after them for months now, since Ginny's had her surgery."
Hermione tried to keep the surprised expression off her face and settled into one of the stools near his desk, "Ginny's been recovering, she'll be home tomorrow."
He shrugged, "I still don't see why you need to watch those children. It's a waste of time." His head was down in concentration as he finished adding ingredients to a potion. He fumbled around for a container.
She crossed her arms, frowning, "It's no issue, Sev. I don't mind spending time with those children at all."
He stopped pouring the elixir into a flask and looked up at her, taken aback at her change of tone. He opened his mouth to say something, and then closed it, a quizzical look on his face.
She sighed, standing, "I've got to get to work."
He didn't say anything. His eyes focused at some point above her head.
Hermione bit her lip, cringing. She chastised herself mentally. She should have expected this. She shifted and turned around, her back to him and shut her eyes furiously. Her hand ached and she didn't realize why until she saw it clenched angrily around the sheets. She felt as though his glare was boring into her figure.
"Good night," she whispered, trying very unsuccessfully to diffuse the tension she had created.
His response was to sit up, his back to her, his head bowed and body looking frail. He glanced over his shoulder at her, stood and left.
"Here, Gin, I've got it," she said, taking the stack of boxes from the overwhelmed red head. She shot her a look of gratitude.
"So where exactly where you planning on taking these?" asked Hermione, juggling the pile in her arms while her companion caught her breath. Ginny gave her a confused look.
Hermione laughed, "That's funny because I could have sworn you lived in the other direction."
Ginny stopped short in her tracks and glanced wildly back and forth. She shook her head and muttered under her breath and stalked off. Hermione jogged to keep up with her.
"I hate this. Being pregnant is the worst," she growled furiously.
Hermione giggled, "You're just tired."
"Of course I bloody well am," she rubbed her belly, "he's been keeping me up all night. And we've just got James under control. It's a nightmare. Starting all over. All those diapers. Oh Merlin."
"But it's got to be amazing," Hermione insisted, peeking out behind the boxes, "Seeing him, holding him."
Ginny shrugged, "Well yes, but those first years are absolutely horrid. Sometimes you just want to curl up into a ball and imagine you're in the Maldives or something."
They reached the doorstep and Hermione helped her friend in. Ginny pushed her way through the cramped hallway, kicking bits of toys away with her swollen feet.
Ginny settled into a kitchen stool while Hermione got busy making tea.
Harry came through the entrance just then, giving both women a kiss on the cheek. He jumped up and sat on the counter, his feet swinging.
"How are my lovely ladies doing today?" he asked cheerfully.
"Horrible," grumbled Ginny, "I almost went to Timbuktu on the way to work."
"Again?" he remarked, snorting, "I think it's time we invested in a remembrall."
Hermione laughed at the couple, leaning back against the table as the water boiled.
"So tell me, Harry, is Ginny being cross because she's hormonal?"
Harry smirked, "Probably."
Ginny rolled her eyes, "Harry, you know how difficult it is being pregnant. Bugger off. Honestly, Hermione. You're damn lucky Severus doesn't want any children, because they are a real—"
"Shut it, Gin," Harry shot her a look, nodding his head at Hermione. She had turned her back to them, gripping onto the table top.
"No, it's alright," she whispered weakly, "I'm fine."
"Oh, Hermione, I didn't mean to—"
"It's fine, Gin," she said, breathing in. She turned around and smiled, "It's fine. Really."
Harry patted her back sympathetically, "Have you talked to him at all?"
Hermione shook her head, turning her head back to look at the ceiling.
"Maybe you should," he suggested gently.
The ground was damp from the prior rain. The petrichor hung about his figure. He breathed it in, deeply. The scent seemed to have a calming effect on him. Idly he wondered if the fragrance could be bottled and transpired into potion...
His finger ran and danced across the smooth dirt. The swirls and designs becoming wilder with each brush of the land. He closed his eyes, letting his hands fill and empty with the dirt. He tried imagining. He tried imagining the possible and the impossible. And somehow he knew that five years ago the impossible had already seeped into the possible. And wasn't it his duty to give her everything he had, though it be completely impossible?
And yet, he shook his head once more, thinking that petrichor was calming him too much for his likes. Still, his mind drifted towards the thought of holding his young. And he didn't quite know what to think.
"Maybe we're not the have-a-family type," said Hermione, leaning against the bar-stool and downing a firewhisky, "He was a bachelor for thirty years and I," she continued, taking a swig, "am an academic."
Ronald Weasley, sitting next to her, nodded, slightly perturbed.
"And academics," she said, giggling, "never have time to settle their own life. No, Ron, we are," she leaned into him, "far too busy pretending that our lives," she poked his chest, "are better than yours."
She raised another shot to her lips. And then swallowed two more.
He raised his lips hesitantly, trying to mentally assess the situation.
"And let me tell you a secret, Ronald," she continued, her voice becoming louder, "come closer."
He lowered his head and offered her his ear, lest she turn violent.
"We are absolutely," she giggled, "and completely fucked."
She got up then, and to Ronald's surprise, her eyes were wet.
"Hermione," he said hesitantly, "You're crying."
"I am," she sniffled, "Why am I crying? I've been crying all week."
"Let's take you home," he said, softly, "You need a good sleep."
"No!" she yelled, running out of the pub and into the cold street, "You can't make me!"
He sighed, frustrated and ran out after her, "Hermione!"
Ron caught up to her, finding her sitting Indian-style underneath a butcher shop. He pulled her up, ignoring her feeble complaints and apparated them back to her house. Severus was out.
She swayed awkwardly on her feet, "I don't—I don't feel so great."
"Yeah," he muttered, "I wonder why."
He lay her on the bed, and pulled the covers up around her.
"You take such good care of me," she whispered, her eyes closing sleepily.
"Huh, well someone has to."
She turned towards him and gazed up at him, and he was unsure if she was conscious or not.
"Why didn't I marry you?" she asked softly. Ron smiled wryly, mentally reminding himself to keep Hermione away from the wine.
"Because you love that greasy old git too much."
She nodded, "Right."
"You would have had children right, Ron? With me?"
He tilted his head, carefully processing his thoughts. He considered whether she would have recollection of this night. Instead he simply kissed her forehead tenderly. She hummed contentedly.
As he left, he almost could have sworn he'd heard her mumble, "I wish I could've married you."
He didn't think too much of it, knowing fully well it was the alcohol talking, but he cringed at what Severus would say if he heard it.
When Hermione woke the next morning, the only memory she had was a throbbing headache.
The dark haired figure in the shadows, on the other hand, gazing at his tired wife, had heard everything.
She knew how stupid she was acting. She knew that her life was more than she could have ever asked for. Yet as she lay there, her body bent in such a way to leave a big empty space near her abdomen.
Hermione fingered that spot on the mattress tenderly, closing her eyes, imagining a little boy curled up next to her. She would run her hands through his curls as his chest rose up and down soundly. And she would love him. She would love her dark haired boy and she would worry when he decided to play in the forest near their house. And she would hug him when he got in rows with his choleric father.
But now her hands searched for the baby that wasn't there and the emptiness inside her festered and grew. She clutched at her nightie and made a fist with the cloth as if wishing would make him exist. But as she turned over onto her back, her hands ran over her very flat stomach. Her fingers, finding nothing, searched on either side of her for her husband and her son.
When all she grasped were the cold sheets, Hermione knew it was time to level.
"Fuck," she mumbled, "Damn it, fuck, fuck, shit."
She massaged her temple, ignoring the steely gaze of the plump woman seated before her. The rambunctious movement of the tube was not helping her in the least.
Harry rubbed her back sympathetically.
"There should be a sign at all pubs. Please never let Hermione Granger get hammered."
"I couldn't agree more," she groaned, pulling at her hair, "And Ron won't tell me damn thing about last night."
"He told me the bartender thought you were a slag."
Harry shrugged, nonchalantly, "Why didn't you get Severus to make you something?"
She shook her head in her hands, "I'm so shameful," she mumbled.
"If you don't mind me saying, you've been absolutely off it lately."
"I know; it's these bloody hormones. Why we've evolved to need to have offspring is beyond me. They're just little bundles of tears and other fluids."
Harry took her palms in his, "Is this what you really want?"
"It's gone beyond want. It's turned into desperation."
He looked at her carefully, "I don't mean to sound blunt, but if he can't give you this, isn't it time to … reassess your situation?"
Her facial expression didn't change and it didn't reflect shock as Harry had expected it to. Instead she simply hung her head, her shoulders slumped.
She sighed contentedly, squeezing her bare feet in the damp earth, petrichoral fumes relaxing her countenance. She rubbed her arms slowly, adjusting to the slight frigidness of the dawn sky. Blinking twice, she surveyed the hills on which they lived, absorbing the flavescent hue across the grass. She barley discerned a shrouded figure on the foothills.
Below, Severus had his eyed closed and he wasn't really there. His mind teemed with pictures of a strange creature flitting from place to place. His mouth opened to play bells and ran across waters of gold and skies of pure rain, scattering them into crystals. And in the end, the creature ran back to Severus, settling into his lap to look at him with kindling eyes. Severus found himself smiling.
He jumped a mile into the air when he felt a hand on his back. He looked up to see Hermione whose hair blew like gossamer in the wind.
"Sit with me," he whispers.
She stretched out, her toes wriggling in the shaggy carpet.
"I'm going to tell him."
Ron looked up from his magazine, "What?"
She sat up, "Do you ever feel like you know what's going to happen but you need to do the thing anyways just to see?"
He shrugged, "I felt that way at fourteen when I went on my Bertie Botts and Butterbeer diet."
She ignored this, "I know he's going to say no, but I won't feel better until I hear it. That makes sense, doesn't it?"
He took a sip from his cuppa, "What's this about?"
"I think I might have told you while I was drunk."
"Ah. That." He snorted.
"What did I say?"
"You were more or less implying that you would shag me just to get yourself knocked up."
"I might have done it too," she murmured, she said getting up.
"I think he might've been there that night. Severus, I mean."
She turned around, eyes widening.
"Yeah, I heard a ficus or something move."
"How do you put up with me?" she said softly, turning her head into his shoulder. "I've been mental this month."
"It's been the other way around for a good four years, darling." He kissed her forehead, his embrace becoming tighter. She reached up to brush his hair out his warm eyes.
"I don't want to sleep with Ron."
He laughed, "I know."
She frowned, "He told me you were there that day when we came home late."
"And you're not angry?"
"We've professed our love enough for me to finally accept it's not leaving."
"I do love you."
He stroked her back, "And I."
And so they stayed there until the Helios brought the sun high enough for them to return to life.
"Hermione, I've been foolish. No, let me speak," he said, pulling her to her feet. "I've been telling myself that you are enough and that I'd gotten you as retribution for the sins against me. I couldn't allow myself anymore happiness, because this," he ran his thumb across her cheek, "is already too much. I've rationalized it and said that I hate children. And I've been afraid. Character is hereditary but I am not my father. Still, I never wanted to give him a chance to live again."
"You won't. I know you won't."
"What are you saying?" she asked, her heart beating twice the proper rhythm.
"I want to try. I want to hold our impossibly small child and teach him everything and get cross with him and let him become the best man he can. And I need you to tell me to piss off and side with him and then help me send him off into the world on his own. Hermione, I've been such an ass—"
She cut him off and threw her arms around his neck, firmly planting her lips on his. She kissed him fervently, running her hands through his hair, pulling him closer. He reached for her robe and pulled it gently off her. She broke away, panting.
"Are we having him now?" she laughed.
He growled, yanking her closer, "Yes."
He pulled her onto the ground and kissed her firmly, the tinkling of her laughter mixed with his, echoing through the valley.
The dark eyed boy with the incredulous curls giggles as he runs, stopping to hide behind shrubs and trees. The man playfully pursues him which only makes him shriek with laughter.
In contentment, the woman sighs, leaning on the porch floor. How unreal this feels, she wonders, watching this tiny being flutter around knowing that simply a few years ago, he fit delicately into her arms. The dimples in his cheek grow more pronounced, sending flutters through her being. She longs to envelop him her arms, bury her face in his hair, smell the soft aroma of his skin and hold him tighter while he squirms.
She longs to whisper in his ear and promise promises she cannot keep, and then tell him she loves him, that he is her everything.
Finally, the man sits down next to her, kissing her on her forehead.
Tired yet? she teases.
Not in the slightest, he counters, out of breath.
His arms encircle her as their son comes running towards them, lighting up the world behind him.
Author's Note: It's been such a while since I've spent so much time on a fic. Reviews are always welcome.