A massive (you can't possibly believe how massive) thanks to Izzy for all of the time she put in to this with me. Without her advice and suggestions I would be lost, not to mention how well she strokes my ego. Stroke it baby, stroke it! Thank you, Iz!
For the record, this IS a Hermione/Severus story and while Hermione is more than an adult in it, if that's not your cuppa, I totally understand. I will not tolerate flaming for it, though. If you don't like it, don't read it. Capice?
Finally, this is flangst. There's considerable fluff here and there; not the spewing rainbows, farting cotton candy and unicorns everywhere kind but...you know, fluff. If you don't like that, I suggest you bounce.
Also, it is completely written.
I'm a fucking idiot!
Hermione grabbed on to the edge of the porcelain sink, the familiar colours of her bathroom decor swimming before her eyes.
How had she gotten to this point? How had she become this woman?
Merlin, what would her mother say?
What would Molly say?
She opened her eyes, unaware that she had closed them against the blurring of her world—the blurring of lines that should never have been crossed. Sitting in her palm, seemingly innocent and innocuous, lay the Muggle pregnancy test. The two little blue lines became one as her eyes filled with tears and she reached a shaky hand into her messy bun to extract her wand.
She knew the charm, even if she had never had to use it. There wasn't a spell out there that Hermione couldn't do, wasn't that what Hagrid had once said? Her mind couldn't help but picture what the half-giant's face would look like if—no, when—he found out.
Her hand was less than steady as she circled her wand over her abdomen and she had to perform the spell twice before it worked as it was supposed to. Purple for positive, yellow for negative.
She watched the air before her body shimmer but she already knew what colour it would turn, she just knew.
Funny that her first thought would be how much she had always hated lilacs.
"What do you mean, you're quitting?" Kingsley demanded, his usually calm demeanour shattered by shock and indignation.
"I'm sorry Kingsley, but I have no choice," Hermione said, clenching her hands behind her back. She had thought long and hard about it but she knew that there had only ever been one choice for her. She did not begrudge others their right to abort, she just knew she couldn't do it herself.
"You have no choice!" he echoed. "You couldn't have forewarned me? You couldn't have given me any notice? Hermione, do you have any idea what kind of position you're putting me in?"
"I'm sorry, sir," she said, her voice soft. She released her hands and shoved them into her unruly curls. "Unforeseen circumstances have come up that make me a...a liability to the department."
"Hermione that's a bollocks answer and you bloody well know it!" he yelled, throwing down the quill he had been holding when she walked in and demanded a moment of his time. He pushed away from his desk and began pacing behind it, the worried eyes of his predecessor watching from their portrait.
"It's the only answer I can give you right now!" she cried, her hands lowering slightly to cover her face. Her skin felt hot to her touch but she had no way of telling if it was shame or if she was getting sick on top of her condition.
She winced internally. She hated that phrase, and now it applied to her.
"Hermione," Kingsley called to her and the sudden softness in his voice made her lower her hands and look at him apologetically. "Tell me, not as your boss but as your friend, what has happened to you?"
"It's not something that happened to me," she whispered, blinking against the burning sensation in the back of her eyes. "It's something that I did to myself".
He sighed heavily and turned to the portrait behind him. "Gibbons, could you alert Malcolm that I'll be needing termination papers drawn up for Auror Granger?"
"Of course," the portrait nodded and, with one last look cast at Hermione, whisked himself out of the confines of the painting.
"Hermione," Kingsley said, walking over to her and placing his hands on her biceps. "Talk to me."
"I...I...," she stammered, the burning increased and she could feel her eyes filling up with tears. She hated herself for them, but not as much as she hated her need for comfort. She hadn't told a soul, yet, but she wouldn't be able to hide it forever.
"I'm pregnant," she whispered, closing her eyes against whatever expression the news would induce.
"You're...wow," he said lamely. She chuckled but it was a sound without mirth as she brought a hand up to her face once more. "I wasn't expecting that."
"Neither was I," she admitted. "I've been stupid and...you can see why I can't be out in the field."
"No," he agreed, "you can't."
He squeezed her arms gently and she opened her eyes on the silent prompt. His face was compassionate but it was the understanding in his brown eyes that made her lose her tenuous control on her emotions. She drew in a shaky breath and exhaled it on a sob. Without a word, Kingsley shifted his arms so that he could pull her closer and hold her as she cried onto his neat, dark blue robes.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered, between heaving breathes and self pitying cries. "I'm so, so sorry."
"Don't apologise to me, Hermione," he said. "We'll figure this out."
Kingsley was as good as his word. She should have known that he would be. He had quickly informed Malcolm that, instead of the termination papers, Hermione would be desk bound for an indefinite period of time. She was, under no circumstances, to take a field position or any case that would require her to seek out suspects and witnesses. She was officially a paper pusher.
She should have felt more grateful about it.
If there was one upside to it, she had the time to make and keep appointments, including the ones with her new Muggle OBGYN. She had decided, after a lot of research, that she would use a Muggle doctor for her pregnancy, but brew and take potions instead of Muggle prescribed vitamins and medications. Since her child was undoubtedly a magical one all of her research pointed towards a stronger and healthier child if magical pre-natal care was administered—of course, that could simply be an anti-Muggle bias but she had purchased enough books that she was comfortable with stating that it was probably simple fact. One book in particular, The Pregnant Muggle-Born: What To Do When You Can't Go To Your Own Mum, had been dead useful and so far she had spent her admittedly large amount of free time at her new desk with a pregnancy book disguised to look like something boring and decidedly 'Hermione-esque'.
Harry had been, naturally, shocked to hear the news that she had been pulled from field duty. It had taken a little over a week for it to reach him, considering that he was almost always on the road but word had spread around the Ministry and so it hadn't taken long for the Weasleys to hear of it. The next time Harry had stopped into the Burrow for brunch he had been set upon by the others in an attempt to discover why Hermione had taken to the desk.
"So, you going to tell me what's going on?" he asked, curling into the plump corner of her couch with a mug of tea balanced on his boney knee.
"Who told you?" she asked, tucking her feet under her and palming her own mug. The warm scent of tea was familiar and calming for her English sensibilities. It was almost as if it had been engraved in their DNA; when in doubt, make tea. She had recently found a new appreciation for it since she discovered that ginger tea, sweetened slightly with honey, helped settle her stomach.
"Arthur," he said, shrugging slightly. "He wanted to come ask you but he didn't want to presume."
She sighed and tucked a stray curl behind her ear. With the exception of Ginny, it hadn't been easy between her and the Weasleys since she had called it off with Ron. Arthur was the easiest to talk to since she saw him regularly but their conversation never drifted into territory that was too personal.
"He's worried that you're sick or something," Harry said, taking a sip of his drink.
Her stomach jumped with nerves. "Not exactly," she hedged. Harry was different, he hadn't been raised with the ideals of Wizarding society and he would probably react the best to her news out of all of her friends. The Wizarding world was, in some ways, very old fashioned. Their views on children outside of wedlock just happened to be one of them.
"Hermione?" Harry asked, leaning forward, his green eyes concerned and his brow furrowed. She caught herself thinking that it was nice to see his eyes without the glass spectacles that he had grown up with. They weren't exactly conducive to his Quidditch career and he had had his eyes magically fixed eight years ago after the war had ended and he had decided what he actually wanted to do with his life.
"I'm pregnant, Harry," she said, forcing herself not to close her eyes against his reaction like she had done with her boss. This was Harry. She had to see this through; it was her own fault, after all.
"You're taking the piss," he said, but his widened eyes said that he knew she was not. Hermione did not joke about such things and they both knew it.
"I wish I was," she said softly.
"How did...," he shook his head, putting his mug down on the floor. "Never mind, I know how it happened. How far along are you? When did you find out? Who is the father?"
She sighed and this time she did close her eyes. She closed them against the slightly hazy memory that the mention of 'the father' brought forth.
"I'm just under ten weeks," she said, clutching her cup like a talisman. "I found out about three weeks ago. It's not uncommon for my cycle to be late when I'm stressed but I've never missed one completely before, that's when I took the test and found out."
He nodded, staring at her, thankfully, without scorn. "And the father?"
"I...," she swallowed hard. "I...don't want to say."
"Why the hell not, Hermione?" he demanded.
"Because there's no point," she whispered, not able to look at him now. "I won't be telling him about it, anyway."
"Oh, no," Harry groaned and she heard the slap of flesh on flesh, causing her to look up at him smacking his forehead. "No, Hermione, no. That's a bad idea, a very idea."
"The whole thing is a bad idea, Harry," she said. "But I can't...I can't terminate."
"I'm not suggesting that you do," he said from behind his hands, his voice slightly muffled. He groaned loudly and picked his head up to look at her with sad eyes. "Hermione, you can't keep this from him. A bloke has the right to know that he's got a kid out there."
"This one won't care," she said softly, unable to stop from picturing it in her mind. He would be furious with her, and probably with himself as well. He had always had an acerbic tongue, sharp as a knife, and it would be turned on her, full force. She didn't need that.
"Yes, he will—"
"Trust me," she interrupted. "He won't care. In fact, he'll probably try to convince me to get rid of it. I don't want to deal with the inevitable blow out, there would be screaming and insults and I just...I can't. I don't want to have to listen to him belittle me for my choice to keep it or my stupidity in getting this way in the first place."
Harry snorted. "It takes two to fucking tango, as the American's say."
The smallest of smiles touched the corner of her lips and she nodded. "Yes, but he wouldn't see it that way and...it truly is my fault."
"Why do you say that, 'Mione?" he asked, scooting forward to pull her mug out of her hands, place it next to his, and take them in his own. "Sparing me the details, how did this happen? Why didn't you protect yourself?"
"I...," she drew in a shaky breath and tried to tell herself that crying some more wouldn't help her one iota. It was easier said than done. "I was drunk and I just...didn't care. I got so caught up in the moment that by the time I thought about it, I didn't want to stop. Normally I brew my own potion and take it monthly but I've been so busy with work and I wasn't seeing anyone so I didn't think I'd need it."
"And he didn't offer?" Harry asked. "He didn't ask? Do the charm?"
"No," she whispered. "He was just as drunk, I think. Probably more," she said, thinking about how they had ended up in bed. It never would have happened without the help of booze. "God," she pulled her hands out his hand buried her face in them. "I feel like such a fucking cliché."
Harry's hands wrapped around her biceps in the exact same place that Kingsley's had and he similarly pulled her to him. She was momentarily unbalanced and she sprawled forward, landing in his lap. He leaned back, the arm rest supporting him, as he stretched his long legs around her. Hermione settled comfortably in the niche of his body, wrapping her arms around his waist and settling her head on his chest.
Not for the first time she wished that she was in love with Harry Potter, and that he was in love with her instead of Ginny Weasley. It would have made life so much easier.
"Are you sure about keeping it?" he asked, softly. The sound reverberated through his chest and into her ear.
"Yes," she whispered as the tears came.
With one hand smoothing her curly hair and an arm around her shoulders, Harry sat quietly and let her cry tears of shame and fear.