Chapter Twenty-Seven: New Beginnings

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It was as if the world moved in slow motion as the whole room turned to look at her and the blood pooling beneath her head as her eyes softly closed. As Miranda and Gerry ran to their daughter, Draco made a tough decision in a split second. He turned away from his fiancée and he tackled the black-haired man to the floor with one thought...

Hermione wouldn't be able to stop him from killing Don this time.

This time, it was Ron and Harry who stopped Draco from murdering Don.

They had been unable to standby and wait for Hermione to return, and after a little hint from Dumbledore, they had set off to find her. When they finally found her street, they had begun to run as they saw an ambulance rounding the corner and heard screams from inside. They had burst in to find Mr. Granger bent over an unconscious Hermione, Draco furiously beating Don, and Mrs. Granger watching it all and wailing helplessly. The paramedics were a step behind them.

"Get those two out of our way; we can't move the girl with them fighting!" One of the older men said urgently to Harry, looking concernedly at the blood on the ground around Hermione's head. Harry and Ron glanced at each other and headed toward where Draco had finally pinned Don and was punching him repeatedly in the face. They pulled him off, flailing and breathing hard. The scariest thing about Draco when he fought was that he was completely silent. There was no yelling, roaring or grunting- just these two terrible grey eyes staring at you as he used every means possible to inflict pain. The two of them, both Quidditch players, could barely hold Draco back in his rage. Finally Ron punched him squarely in the face. Draco stopped fighting and blinked, looking at Ron for the first time.

"Weasley?" He asked confusedly, his chest heaving.

"Sorry Malfoy, but I had to get your attention some how… I think you've done enough fighting for today." Ron said, indicating the bloody and unconscious Don on the ground a few feet away. Draco looked down at his bloody knuckles, as if surprised that he had been the one to do it.

"I was just so angry…" He said. Ron and Harry nodded and the three shared a moment of understanding. "Thanks." He said. He was unscathed except for the black eye Weasley had given him and the blood on his hands, most of which was likely Don's. He looked at Don for one more second before abruptly turning. "Hermione!" He whispered as he watched her being carried outside on a stretcher. They followed after, Ron discreetly driving his shoe into Don's ribs when no one was looking.

Don had been taken to the hospital in a separate ambulance since Draco couldn't countenance his being anywhere near Hermione. He rode in the ambulance with her, holding her hand and watching her pale face for any sign of movement. There was none. The only good news so far had been that she was still alive. The paramedics spoke babble to each other and into a radio and Draco glared at them for not telling him what was going on. He had answered their questions and told them she was two months pregnant… that was when they had begun talking on the radio and ignoring him.

In the hospital he had nearly been lost to rage again as the nurse smiled at him and told him he could go 'no further, sir'. He watched Hermione being wheeled away from him and Miranda put a hand on his shoulder. He, the Grangers and Harry and Ron all sat in the waiting room together, silent. It seemed like days had passed in the 30 minutes before a doctor came to them.

"Are you with Ms. Granger?" He asked. Harry nodded tersely.

"I'm the doctor caring for her, Dr. Schildener. Well… she's stable. Though she has a concussion and lost a lot of blood, and she's got some nasty bangs and bruises, she's going to be fine. However," The word cut off the relief that had just been flowing through the bodies of those gathered in the waiting room. "Unfortunately, we're unsure of the health of the baby. We need to wait until Hermione is conscious before we run some tests on her… as of now, all I can tell you is that there is a 50 chance that she will lose her baby. The combination of the fall, and the mental and emotional distress she was feeling may have caused a natural abortion. It's more common than one would think." The doctor nodded his head sadly, looking at them apologetically. No one seemed able to speak. Finally Gerry nodded to him.

"Thank-you, sir." He said, his voice sounding broken. The doctor turned to go but Draco stood suddenly.

"Can I see her now? Please?" He asked pitifully. The doctor nodded and led the group to the room where Hermione lay. The space was eerily silent apart from the beeping of different machines. While Miranda, Gerry, Ron and Harry gathered around the bed, Draco went to the window. He still felt shocked at the impact the doctor's words had had on him. There were no words to express how relieved and happy he was that Hermione was fine… but his body was still tensed with agitation and sorrow. The baby had never seemed so real to him as right now, when they might lose it. All of a sudden he realized that he already loved the baby, and wanted it, not just because it was Hermione's and possibly his, but because it was… a baby. An innocent, untouched baby that he had committed to raise and protect. His baby.

The rest had gone at his insistence- the Grangers to the waiting room, Harry and Ron to the cafeteria. Finally he could be alone with her. By now it was almost morning and the dawn light came through the window, but he sat tensely beside her bed, refusing food, drink and rest. He grasped her smaller hand in his, and occasionally he rested their joined hands on her stomach, willing the baby to live. The others came in periodically to check on her progress as the sun rose to its zenith and began to sink again, but Draco remained, determined and silent. Harry brought him coffee and forced him to drink it, but he still wouldn't eat. When the sun set he looked blankly out the window. The colours reminded him of her. The bright red of her passion for life; the rich, soft orange of her kindness and generosity; the dark purple and grey of her melancholy streak; and brilliant golden of her intelligence. When the dark had fallen he looked down to find her hot chocolate eyes open, and a smile on her pale lips as she watched him. He kissed her forehead as his tear fell onto her cheek.

"The tear of a slave." He said ironically, recalling the day she had saved his life. Who would've thought then that they would be together like this now?

"I feel ok." Hermione said, seeming surprised.

"You just have a concussion and some bruises. You're going to be perfect in no time." Draco said.

"And Don?"

"He didn't fare quite so well." He replied honestly, raising his eyebrows as he waited for her response. She simply nodded, taking it in stride.

"I shouldn't have gone after him."

"No, you shouldn't have. But frankly I'm too exhausted right now to yell at you. I'm sure you know exactly what I'd say." Draco admitted with a smile.

"You could have gotten yourself killed! How could you endanger your life like that, Hermione!" She said in a surprisingly good imitation of his voice. They laughed but she sobered again, looking at him in fear as she felt their hands on her stomach. "Draco… Draco…" Her voice was now a mere whisper. "The baby?"

Silences are like snowflakes. Every silence is different. This silence was raging. It was hot and cold at once. Hermione felt as if every thought was sucked out of her mind all at once, everything except the baby. She felt as if she would explode or simply crumble. The beeping of the machines was too loud, but then suddenly sounded very far away.

"They… they don't know. The doctor said there's a 50 chance it will live." Draco said, his voice very tired.

"But it's alive now. I can still feel it." She said fiercely. "Call the doctor." Draco hesitated but Hermione pushed his hand away from her stomach, urging him to go.

He returned in a few moments with Dr. Schildener.

"Ms. Granger. You're awake." The doctor said with a tentative smile. Hermione simply stared back, suddenly unable to speak as tears welled up in her eyes. There was a short silence before he continued. "Now that you are we will run a few more tests on you, and with your consent, perform an emergency ultrasound- it's early in the pregnancy, but I think... it's warranted." He said. Hermione bit her lip and nodded. Draco squeezed her hand.

"Dr. Schildener, may I stay?" Draco asked. The doctor nodded and then began asking Hermione routine questions for a patient with a concussion. Draco stood and moved away as Schildener shone lights in her eyes and moved around her bed, helping her to stand. Soon the checkup was done and he excused himself, returning moments later with a female doctor.

"This is Dr. Bridge, she's an obstetrician and pediatrician. She's going to perform the ultrasound." Dr. Schildener said, leaving the room and closing the door.

"Hi Hermione, it's so nice to meet you!" The middle-aged woman said kindly. She consulted a chart in front of her. "And Mr. Malfoy, you must be the father…?" She turned toward Draco, who was leaning against the wall. He opened his mouth but Hermione cut him off.

"Yes, he is." She said, her voice sounding weak. The doctor nodded and smiled, beckoning Draco closer.

"Come sit next to your fiancée, I'll just get everything ready." She said, rolling a machine closer and switching it on. She pulled back Hermione's blankets, and explaining her actions as she went, smeared the clear gel over Hermione's stomach. She chatted amiably as she pressed buttons on the machine and entered data, and Draco replied in monosyllables. Hermione couldn't even hear the doctor. Her whole body felt tense. She just wanted the baby to be okay. She didn't care about anything else anymore, as long as the baby was okay. She clenched Draco's hand as the doctor placed the small tool over her stomach, and he leaned towards her protectively, stroking her hair with his free hand. He was about to say something but then all of a sudden, the screen on the machine flicked on and the entire room fell silent.

Hermione had never felt so still in her life as she watched the blue outline of her child. The tiny baby inside of her. It had not fully formed yet, but Dr. Bridge carefully explained that the baby's shape at this time was normal. Then the doctor abrupty went silent, leaning toward the screen with narrowed eyes. She studied it for what seemed like a century, occasionally glancing over at the machine that monitored the baby's heartbeat.

Draco and Hermione watched her tensely until she finally spoke. She turned back to them, smiling.

"The fall you took and the circumstances of the fall were very dangerous for your child, Ms. Granger. However, I can happily say that your baby is safe. The heartbeat has strengthened considerably in the past 30 minutes alone, and…" Dr. Bridge continued but Hermione simply stared at the screen, tears finally coursing down her face. She looked at Draco to find him staring at her, in a similar state. He kissed her lightly on the lips, and then turned to find the doctor smiling at them almost affectionately. "You two are very lucky, and congratulations - in 7 months you will be able to hold your very own little baby." She said, rising and switching off the machine. She wheeled it to the side and headed for the door.

"Dr. Bridge, wait!" Hermione cried. The doctor turned and Hermione glanced hesitantly at Draco before asking, "Can I talk to you… alone, for a minute?" The doctor raised a brow.

"Of course, my dear." She said in surprised. Draco nodded at Hermione and left quickly, closing the door behind him. The doctor took his now empty place at Hermione's side.

"Dr. Bridge, I'm sure you've read somewhere in my file about the… abuse that I have been subjected to." Hermione said calmly, her pale face focused. The doctor cleared her throat but Hermione continued. "I… I love Draco, and we want to raise this child together… but we... don't know whether the baby is his."

"Hermione, at this point in time it may not be the best idea-"

"I need to know. I need to know. You have to understand, that after everything, I just need to know." Hermione said firmly.

"You're going through a lot right now, there's going to be so many changes in your life and…" Dr. Bridge looked at Hermione's face and sighed. "Listen, I don't know why I'm saying this but… okay. I'll schedule you for a paternity test as soon as possible." She said, nodding.

"Please don't tell anyone else about this." Hermione said. The doctor shook her head sadly.

"If this is really what you want, then okay. But I need you to do me a favour in return. There are counseling services offered at the hospital," Hermione opened her mouth but Dr. Bridge gave her a look, "And I strongly suggest that you take advantage of them while you are able." She said firmly. Hermione sighed.

"Alright." She said finally.

Anne, as she insisted Hermione call her, turned out to be an excellent listener. It was somehow a relief for Hermione to talk to a Muggle, who didn't know who she, Draco or even Harry was. Not for the first time, she was glad she hadn't been brought to St. Mungo's- the British Wizarding community wasn't exactly huge, and she wasn't ready for a ten page article about her, Draco and the baby in the Daily Prophet yet.

Hearing all the same things that Draco, Ron and Harry had been telling her, but from a professional, somehow made them easier to swallow. During her week long stay at the hospital, Hermione spent hours each day with Anne, talking about everything from television shows to Draco, but most of the time, they talked about Don. Slowly, Hermione's whole life story was revealed. From her happy early childhood, to the beginning of the abuse, to the terrible years of silence, right into her relationship with Draco, and now the pregnancy. Anne never judged Hermione, never made her feel stupid or guilty, but somehow made the most astute observations about her life that revealed something new to Hermione every day. Well, she supposed, it was her job.

Hermione was to stay at home for a week after she was released in order to recover a little before returning to Hogwarts to finish her sixth year. Although they were still trying to figure details out, Dumbledore fully supported Hermione's plan to return for her seventh year at Hogwarts. Draco had been forced to return to school early in the week but he owled her (twice) daily.

Soon it was time to go home, but first, she would receive the results of the paternity test. Anne came with her and they sat in Dr. Bridge's small office tensely. The two women knew how much rested on this test, and the girl sat quietly, her mind and soul in turmoil.

Dr. Bridge sat, then stood and began pacing again.

"Hermione, I don't know what you want to hear-"

"It doesn't matter what I want to hear." Hermione mumbled. Dr. Bridge smiled gently, and Anne clasped Hermione's hand in her own. Dr. Bridge sat down and slid a sheet across the desk towards Hermione, who stared at it in shock.

"Oh my God." She said, standing. Anne and Dr. Bridge immediately stood.

"Hermione-" Anne begun as the girlstarted sobbing.