A/N: not abandoning menat, just hard editing 6-7 chapters, going back and forth. Hope u'll indulge me tho for uploading the other fanfics ive already started writing. Please. :)

oooops. reedited. failed to make myself clear. h/g have never been together in this fic.

Chapter One

Harry stood up at once at the sight of Elphias Doge as the doors to the room opened. He had been pacing around like crazy in the parlor room of the house. It was the only place he could think of to bring Hermione and the rest of the Malfoy Mansion hostages. It was a good thing that at Bill's wedding, Doge had offered Harry come to him, should he need help, and gave him the address.

At first, he didn't realize the extent of Hermione's injuries. But when she failed to turn up at Dobby's burial, he began to worry. He had first-hand experience with the Cruciatus curse, and knew its effects. He tried to search his memory if Bellatrix Lestrange cast another curse, far deadlier, on her, but all he remembered was the Cruciatus. He asked Luna and Dean, and both said the same thing. It seemed it had affected her far worse than normal. It had been hours and he had been anxiously waiting for word of her condition.

"How is she?" Harry asked anxiously.

Doge however held a hand up for Harry to remain quiet. He turned around and closed the doors behind him before turning back around and walking to Harry, stopping right in front of him.

"Miss Granger is safe," he said.

Harry was about to breathe a sigh of relief when Doge spoke again.

"And so is the baby," Doge added, with a hint of disapproval in his voice.

It took a while for the word to sink into Harry's brain. For a moment, it seemed he had forgotten what the word "baby" meant.

"Baby?" Harry asked, completely dumbfounded.

"The baby Ms. Granger is carrying," Doge said gruffly. "We can only thank her quick-thinking and intelligence to cast the spells on herself that would protect her baby before you were taken by the Snatchers. Still, an hour more and it would have been too late – for both of them." Doge noted the dumbstruck look on Harry's face. "I take it you don't even know that she's pregnant?" Harry could only shake his head dumbly. He was unable to form a single coherent thought.

Doge eyed him reprovingly. "Mr. Potter, whatever were you thinking? This is no time at all for you to be having children! Don't you know people are risking their lives to support you? And you go around playing house…."

"But I – I –" But Harry didn't know what he was, or what he was supposed to have done. Hermione's pregnant? And then the image of Bellatrix Lestrange sticking a knife in Hermione's throat, the drop of blood forming on her neck, rose into his mind. Hermione's screams as Lestrange tortured her with the Cruciatus curse resounded in his head, sharper and more jarringly with this thunderbolt of a knowledge thrown at him. Hermione! Harry suddenly felt the need to see her at once, make sure for himself that she…and the baby… were alright, though he had no idea exactly how to do that.

"I am deeply, deeply disappointed in you, young man. And Dumbledore said you're a good lad – " Doge was saying, but Harry was no longer aware of it. His feet turned towards the door, then he rushed to the bedroom where he knew Hermione was brought in.

He found her, eyes closed, a hand gently lying on her stomach. Doge's house-elf, standing nearby, eyed Harry with the same disapproving glance as her master had given him. But Harry ignored it and waited for her to leave the room. Then he walked towards the side of the bed where an empty chair stood. He sat down carefully, trying not to make a noise.

He watched Hermione's face, guilt rising up his stomach. There were beads of cold sweat still on her forehead and her lips were dry and cracked. She was extremely pale, and now he realized she had been looking like that for the past several months now. How could he not have noticed? Though he dimly remembered Doge saying the baby was alright, fear still gripped him. When he and Hermione were battling Nagini and ran away from Voldemort, she was already pregnant.

She must have felt his eyes on her, because soon enough Hermione opened her eyes. She looked blearily up at him.

"The baby…the baby…" she said. Her voice was very weak.

"The baby is safe," said Harry gently. "You musn't talk, Hermione. You have to get your strength back."

Hermione smiled weakly. "It's not his fault," she said.

Harry closed his eyes, breathing deeply, trying to quell the rush of anger that suddenly seized him. He was in no mood to talk about it now. But when he opened his eyes, Hermione was sleeping again. She only had strength enough to ask about the baby and defend its father.

Thereafter, Harry and Luna took turns watching over her. Thankfully, Doge kept quiet about Hermione's pregnancy and presumably ordered his two house-elves not to say anything to Luna and the others. Casting the protection spells on her baby had taken quite a toll on Hermione though, making her much more vulnerable to the Cruciatus Curse. It took her a week before she woke up again. He and Hermione didn't have much chance to speak after that, for they were never alone. Harry always made sure that there was always someone else in the room whenever he came to visit her.

As soon as she was well enough, Harry then spent most of his time outside the house. Ostensibly, he was making sure the Death Eaters were not casing the estate, even though it was under the Fidelius Charm, but really, he was just trying to avoid the other occupants of the house – particularly Hermione.

Doge's house stood on top of a hill overlooking rolling lands and green fields. Harry soaked in the peaceful view, sitting on a stone outcrop. This high up in the area, there was a cold bite to the wind and he huddled into himself, hugging the mug of tea in his hand.

He was angry with himself, regretting that he did not know enough to do this job. He should have prepared himself more, studied harder, so he didn't have to rely on anyone. It was not as if he did not know that, eventually, he would have to face Voldemort.

He was angry too at his best friends. Didn't they know that they were fighting, not just for their own lives, but for the rest of the country as well? Good for them that they still found the time to make a baby while he, Harry, couldn't allow himself to be with anyone or even want anyone. Since the night he heard the prophecy in Dumbledore's office, he did nothing but prepare himself for his eventual confrontation with Voldemort. He had to steel himself from the loneliness and jealousy he felt when seeing other boys of his age able to date freely. Girls are a distraction that led to an early grave - for himself and others. Still, no matter how angry he was with Hermione, how could he possibly lash at her in her condition and after her recent ordeal?

He contemplated the last days. How he had no choice but to run after the Horcrux in Gringotts now. He thought that given a chance, he would always choose the Horcrux, and let Voldemort have the Elder Wand. But how would he know? Perhaps he was just making sweet lemons of the entire thing.

He took a huge sip from his mug and gulped down the bland tea. Then he felt someone approaching and glanced back – Hermione was walking towards him, wrapped from head to foot in a thick woolen blanket. Harry turned his attention back to the fields. Hermione sat tentatively beside him, wriggling to arrange the blanket round her more comfortably. Harry, all this while, was a wall of silence. It took Hermione sometime to draw enough courage to say anything.

"Why haven't you been coming to see me?"

Harry kept silent, his jaw muscles working. He replenished his mug with hot water, and took another sip.

"Are you mad because Doge thinks you're the baby's father?"

Harry gave her an annoyed look. It was the least of their problems. He angrily flicked the remaining contents of his cup to the ground and then Vanished the mug. He then stood up and turned to face her fully, looking at her steadily. Hermione shifted nervously under her blanket.

"How long have you known?" said Harry quietly.

"As soon as he left. I suspected it might happen, given the dates*. And… we failed to use protection…"

Harry grimaced. Too much information.

"I'm sorry. We didn't mean to. It just happened," Hermione cried hurriedly.

"Don't give me that crap, Hermione. Nothing 'just happens'. Stubbing your toe on a pebble, that just happens. A car accident, that just happens. Making a baby? That doesn't just happen, Hermione. I was always within hearing distance of the two of you."

"I'm sorry, alright! I said I'm sorry! It's not like I wanted things to end up like this. But R–, I mean, he was having a hard time with the Horcrux and all. And I was just trying to comfort him, and I don't know, one thing led to another and –"

"Hermione! What were you thinking?" Harry immediately cut her off, not wanting any more details. "Voldemort is after us! He's after you! Now that the Death Eaters know you're with me…" Harry cried, throwing his arms in frustration.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

Harry rubbed down his face. He kicked a stone at his feet quite forcefully. "God, Hermione! You know I can't do this alone. As much as I hate to admit it, I need you. But how am I supposed to hunt for the Horcruxes alone now?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know I can't allow you to come with me anymore. I'd have to search for the remaining Horcruxes by myself."

"You can't!"

"I know I can't! But I don't have a choice, do I?"

"Harry – "

"You have to stay here, but not for long. Every suspected member of the Order is being watched. You can stay with the Weasleys, if you want. They'll be able to protect you more."

Hermione wasn't enthusiastic about the idea. She and Ron were not exactly in the best of terms at the moment. And what would the Weasleys say if they found out that both she and Ron walked out on Harry? Mrs. Weasley would never speak to her again. And she wasn't too fond either of the thought of herself running around the Burrow with huge bat-bogeys flying out of her nose.

Harry was watching her expression. He looked away, sighing exasperatedly. "Perhaps I can ask Kingsley or some other Order member to get you out of the country quickly, maybe join your parents in Australia."

"Harry, you don't mean that!"

Harry turned to her angrily. "How can I bring you with me, Hermione? Tell me how?"

"Do you think I would be safer if you leave me behind now? You yourself said that the Death Eaters already know that I'm with you. If they hear so much as a whisper of my whereabouts, they'd surely come after me straight as they would come after you, even if it's as far away as Australia. Our safest bet is if we stay together."

"Hermione, you almost died! Just now! You and the baby!"

Hermione looked frantically around, making sure there was no one around. Belatedly, she cast the Muffliato spell around them. Then she turned back to Harry, trying to reason with him. "Harry, if they find me without you, how long do you think they'll keep me alive?" she asked. "If you leave me behind now, it's the same as you casting the Killing Curse on me yourself."

Harry threw her an angry look. "Don't guilt me into bringing you with me, Hermione. I already have too many deaths on my head."

"Then don't add mine to that list, Harry. You need me," she said, tears on the verge of falling from her eyes. "And my baby and I need you," she added, looking up at him through her wet lashes.

"That's a low blow, Hermione, and you know it," he said coldly. He turned his back to her and stalked back into the house. "I hate Ron," he shouted as he walked away.

Hermione though only felt enormous relief: She knew she had won the argument.


The Great Hall stood ringing in stunned silence. Harry looked down at Voldemort's lifeless body. It was finally over. He turned to the room, at the spectators, but his eyes only searched for Hermione. The others, still too stunned at what had happened, at how swiftly the war ended when just minutes ago, their situation seemed desperate, held back. His classmates, the Order members, and certainly the Weasleys had been picking up a weird vibe from him. He was different, somehow. He seemed distant and talked only to a few people – Remus, Kingsley, Professor McGonagall, but the Weasleys he kept at a distance, not even glancing his best mate Ron's way. It was apparent the two had a falling out.

Of all the people in the room, Hermione alone ran towards him, both her arms outstretched. Harry embraced her wearily, extreme fatigue threatening to overwhelm him. Then he pulled back, looking into her eyes.

"Are you okay?" he whispered, but they both knew what he was really asking about.

"It's fine. It's safe. We're both okay."

Harry wasn't satisfied though. They needed to find a Healer and find a Healer fast. They'd been running around England for several months now. How many times had she been hurt, and she hadn't seen a midwife once? Hermione was intelligent, but she was no Healer, and she couldn't very well self-diagnose, could she? They had to make sure the baby was safe. The words of an elderly wizard and his house-elves did not count.

Harry conjured a travelling cloak and put it over Hermione's shoulder, pulling up the cowl over her head. The people in the Great Hall were watching them both, noting the intimacy. Harry gently took Hermione's hand. "Let's go," he said.

Ron was watching all these. And though he seethed with jealousy, he mastered himself. "Harry, wait!" he shouted and ran towards the two standing in the middle of the Great Hall. Harry ignored him. "I said wait!" said Ron.

Harry kept on walking, but Hermione tugged his hand back. He obeyed its silent wish. Okay then, let's hear what he's got to say, Harry thought to himself. He waited a beat for Ron to make his case, still not looking at his best mate. He was too angry to say anything. He could hardly bring himself to look at Ron, let alone talk to him.

"I'm sorry!" Ron blurted. "I didn't mean to walk out on you like that. I'm sorry!" But he had never been good with apologies. And didn't Harry always forgive him? Even without him uttering a single word?

Thus Harry waited. But a long silence ensued: Ron seemed to have lost his verbal steam.

That's it? If the idea of Remus running out of his pregnant wife was abhorrent to Harry, the fact that a pregnant Hermione had to risk both her and her unborn baby's lives searching for the Horcruxes, directly in the path of death, was unforgiveable to him. The memory of the times Hermione had been put in danger in the last months came to him again, including being thrown about by Nagini and almost being consumed alive by fiendfyre. And then came other memories – of Dumbledore being thrown off the Astronomy Tower, of Sirius falling into the Veil, of his dad dropping like a stringless marionette to buy his mum and him time to escape – and his anger flared up anew with fierce vengeance. He blamed Ron completely, that he was forced to bring a pregnant Hermione with him, to save his life as much as to save hers, for Ron being such an insecure, sorry excuse for a human being.** He now realized that Ron did not deserve Hermione, that she would be better off with someone else. In his anger, Harry's grip tightened on Hermione's hand. She made an involuntary start. Harry glanced back at her. She looked afraid, a few strands of her bushy hair spilling out of her hood. He turned back to her and tried to reassure her by gently tucking the wayward strands under the hood of her cloak.

"Harry –" she whispered quietly, pleading with her eyes at him under her cowl. Her face was completely hidden from the rest of the people watching them.

But Harry's anger could not be appeased. He ignored the silent plea. "Are you ready?" he asked instead. He took her hand again and started to pull her out of the Great Hall.

"Wait!" cried Ron hurriedly. "Where are you taking her?"

The two stopped and turned back to him again. But then Ron's eyes landed on Harry's hand, still holding Hermione's. Seeing the closeness between the two, Ron felt suddenly unsure of himself. Did he just imagine Hermione's feelings for him? What if she hated him now? He didn't know how to go about setting things to rights. But he wanted more than anything to stake his claim on her. In desperation, he cried out the only thing he could think of, the one hope he clung to all these months: "She loves me! It's me Hermione loves. Not you!"

He regretted it as soon as the words left his mouth. He watched Harry as his best mate slowly turned to him, looking at him for the first time since he arrived at Hogwarts that night. He was taken aback at the look Harry gave him. He never thought that he would see such an expression of deep loathing on Harry's face directed solely at him.

"And that is her misfortune," Harry said, his voice wintry with cold derision. Then Harry pulled Hermione again, leading her decisively out of the Great Hall.

It would not be until three and a half years later that Harry, Hermione, and the rest of her family would be back in England again.


*Hermione was referring to her menstrual period. Lol. Sorry.

** Harry is very angry. ;D

A/N: about the recurring theme of Harry leaving UK and returning some years later in this and my other fanfics. (Yeah, there's one other coming. XD) It's just im not very comfortable with a 17-16 y/o H/G falling deeply in love. I feel that give the two 6 months to a year, and H/G would inevitably fall for each other. But I feel that the attraction would be mostly physical – G is supposed to be this passionate, red-headed, beautiful girl in love with Harry. And Harry, well, Harry is a young man. And sometimes, for a guy, there's no other impetus for attraction other than having a Y chromosome. XD. so of course, there's not much of a story in that, hence the enforced separations. But the similarities would end there – I hope.

(This note will be posted also on my profile page so I won't have to write it again. If a fic shows harry having been gone 3 years, u know the reason. ;D)