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Chapter 6: Connections
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Hermione woke in a panic, glaring at the clock. 3:27. Titus was screaming from the other end of the hallway. Hermione jumped out of bed and flew down the hallway. Something had to be wrong, Titus never cried. When she threw open the door, she found her baby boy laying on his back crying his deep blue eyes out. Steam was emitting from his ears, adding to the chaotic noise. Tears glistened on his crimson cheeks. Hermione held three fingers to his forehead. His skin burned her fingers like the contents of the Lestrange vault. Ignoring her blistering flesh, she held the boy close to her chest and apparated into the office of her supervisor at Saint Mongo’s.
“Adolfus.” Hermione gasped before the middle-aged woman had time to lift her head.
Seeing the purple steam swarming around the baby’s head, Hermione's boss flicked her wand and a small crystalline bottle floated towards Hermione. The young mother snatched it out of the air and poured its contents into Titus’s open mouth. In a matter of seconds he was silently sleeping in his mothers arms, the steam and heat vanished.
“Thank you,” Hermione sighed, relaxing her shoulders.
“Come sit down Madam Weasley,” the mousy woman motioned to a seat on the other side of her desk. Once Hermione was seated she began to speak in a more casual tone, “How have you been handling things?”
The woman’s black eyes saw through her lie, “Hermione.”
Hermione shyed under her deep gaze, “The past year and a half has been rough. The war took a piece out of the hearts of everyone, but I’ve had an exceptionally difficult time adjusting. With my new family and the loss of so many that I wish could be a part of my son’s life. I’m hoping the three father figures in his life will make up for the lack of his actual dad. But when people look at me, I can see the pity in their eyes. And I am rambling,” Hermione’s eyes dropped as a lone tear fell onto Titus’s onesie.
The woman across from her did not interrupt or judge her. She merely sat and listened.
“My husband is coming back for his sister’s wedding. He says he’d like to discuss something with me. I know he is going to ask for a divorce. It’s not like he’s a part of our lives anyway. I just don’t want Titus to grow up in a broken home. He’s already a war baby, he doesn’t need that too. Do you think he can sense my fear? Do you think that’s where the Adolfus came from?”
“Possibly,” Hermione had not noticed the blue file under the hands of her supervisor until that moment.
“Is that his?”
Instead of answering the question, she opened the file and read from it, “Titus Fredrick Weasley. Born February 13, 1999. Mother: Granger, Hermione Jean. Father: Weasley–”
“Okay. Why do you have it?”
“Titus is a war baby. That has yet to be recorded.” She had once again adopted her rather intimidating, professional manner. “What categorizes him as a war baby?”
“He was conceived during the Battle of Hogwarts.”
“Sorry to dump him on you, but I’ve got a whole load waiting for me at work. This has been one hell of a week.” Hermione said, handing Titus to George.
“It’s no problem at all,” George chuckled. “I love having this little guy around. Corrupting his innocent mind is quite amusing.”
Hermione rolled her eyes jokingly, “Oh great! Another one!” They both laughed.
“So why are they working you so hard anyway?” George asked.
“I’m training to move higher up in my division. I’m going from Emergency to Trauma.”
“Don’t speak too soon. I haven’t been transferred yet. This training is tricky business and I’m pretty worn. “
“I’m sure you’ll get the promotion. You’ve always been the brightest witch out there.”
Hermione smiled, “Well thank you. And thanks for taking him. I’ll be here to pick him up around eleven.”
The bell jingled as Hermione walked out the door. George waited until he saw her disappear and heard the pop to turn around. He faced his shop. Without Fred, to George it only seemed gray, but the little man in his arms brought back all color to the world he created with his brother. He flicked his wand and miniature dragons buzzed around the room. Another swish and dancing leprechauns followed them. Titus giggled as the products flew from the shelves to form their own sort of party.
George held him up over his head and Titus grabbed at the tail of an orange dragon. It spit shooting stars into his flaming hair. George ran through the shop, dipping the laughing child here and there.
“I think I’ll keep the shop closed today. What do you think?” Titus squealed. “Yea. I thought so.”
As usual, Hermione arrived fifteen minutes early. She was rushed in and set immediately to work.
An epidemic had broken out at Hogwarts. Hermione was sent in to operate on kids she had once directed as Prefect. Every open wound or blistering soar reminded her of the war. She couldn’t get through a half hour without flashing back two or three times. After about four hours she had to leave the operation room.
Hermione leaned against the cold stone wall and tangled her fingers in her hair, pulling her head down. On the opposite wall across from her, crouched on the floor, was Luna, her head between her knees. Her face was hidden behind her mop of yellow hair. Hermione could see her hands shaking and knew that it had to have been twenty times harder for this brave child. These were her classmates, her friends. During the war, Luna had actually lived with these people, cared for them during the battle, while Hermione had been running around with no company other than the boys that knew absolutely nothing about the world outside her protective enchantments. Luna had been there, in the heat of it all, mending battle wounds and closing the eyes of the dead. Her memories had to be far worse than that of Hermione’s.
Luna had always been strong, but the war had broken her harder than it had anyone else. It had changed her completely. She was no longer the eccentric, bubbly child she once was. Her absent minded smile had been replaced by heartbroken eyes and worry lines. She had aged a lifetime in the past year. It was rare to hear one of Luna’s oddities, and when they came, they were only halfheartedly stated, as if she no longer believed. Hermione worked along side her everyday for nearly a year, always waiting to hear her airy voice announce something absolutely preposterous. Hermione’s expectations had always been dropped. Luna’s voice was now cold and absent. It was obvious that she tried to make herself inviting but failed dramatically.
Hermione pulled out her wand and cast a sound shield around Luna. Luna looked up from the faded pink tile, her eyes puffy and her nose red. Her eyes had met Hermione’s, and for the first time ever, they connected. They connected more than just physically. They understood each other. These women who couldn’t be more different understood how the other was broken and changed. They walked down each other’s timeline. Luna’s icy blue eyes met Hermione’s black ones in a cataclysmic collision of astrological chaos.
Hermione’s heart shattered as she read the lips of the yellow haired girl inside a bubble, “I know your secret.”
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