Chapter 3 : Handling the Mistake
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Getting dressed quickly and quietly, Hermione crept down the stairs. She threw a handful of Floo Powder into the fireplace and stepped into the emerald green flames, her heart broken into a million tiny pieces.
“Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!” she announced, allowing the spinning of the grate dull her pain. All too soon, the circling stopped and she stepped out onto the hearth of the Headmistress’s office, heart-break returning full-force.
Professor McGonagall looked up unsurprised as the young woman entered her office. “Miss Granger,” she greeted, gesturing to a chair on the other side of the desk. Hermione sat down obediently, clasping her hands nervously in her lap and staring at the ground. McGonagall looked at her expectantly.
“I have a problem,” she whispered. The Headmistress scoffed.
“I figured as much, Miss Granger. Otherwise, what are we doing here?”
Hermione smiled shakily. “Yes, well, this is really big.”
“Are you going to tell me about it, or are you just going to sit there?” she asked. Sometimes Hermione wished McGonagall could be more like Dumbledore.
“I-I’m pregnant, Professor,” she whispered, keeping her eyes downcast. Saying that word felt almost like she was sealing some sort of unbreakable magical contract, and every time she said it, her stomach clenched painfully. McGonagall sighed disapprovingly.
“What would you like me to do about that, Miss Granger?” she asked impatiently.
“I wanted to make sure I would still be able to attend classes,” Hermione clarified, her cheeks scarlet.
“For the most part, I suppose,” the Professor replied. “Education is the most important thing. You seem to have forgotten that.”
Hermione flinched, but nodded her head all the same, eyes directed at the floor. That had stung.
“You can attend classes until you feel you no longer can, and then we will have the make-up work sent to your dormitory. You can’t very well go to class with a baby in your arms, so we’ll need to arrange something regarding that as well.” Hermione nodded gratefully.
“I don’t suppose you want this to get around, do you?” the Professor said, her voice softening slightly.
Hermione shook her head. “No, Professor.”
“Very well, I will only tell those necessary.” Unless Hermione imagined it, the corners of McGonagall’s lips turned up ever so slightly into what could have been a reassuring smile. Maybe the new Headmistress could be more like Dumbledore than Hermione gave her credit for.
Draco looked up at the ominous castle, pulling his cloak tighter around his body, a sense of resignation descending on him.
He was back.
After he’d sworn never to come back.
He sighed and climbed the steps reluctantly. At least he had escaped the rush of students coming on the train.
Grudgingly, he entered the cheerily lit Great Hall, the warmth washing over him, a nice change from the whipping winds of the grounds.
A clap of thunder sounded outside the window amidst the pounding of the raindrops on the window pane of her room. She took one sweeping look around, a glint of silver caught her eye as a flash of lightening illuminated the room. She bent down and reached her hand under her bed, puzzled, and her hand touched cold metal.
Hermione sat down on her bed, her half packed trunk lying open beside her. She was holding a small necklace. It was a heart-shaped, silver locket with a lion carved on the front. Tears started to pour down her face and she shook violently with silent sobs. She tightened her fist around the necklace and clenched it to her heart, good memories flooding back to her, rendering her breathless with emotion. As much as it pained her, she pushed the memories to the back of her head and dropped the locket onto the floor so she could continue packing her trunk.
The silver clattered on the hardwood and snapped open, the happy faces of Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley waving and staring up at the darkened ceiling as a crushed version of the young woman in the photo, not even a shadow of the happiness she’d once felt etched into her features, bustled around gathering last minute things.
“Hi Harry,” greeted Hermione timidly, having just run into her friend at the Welcoming Feast. Harry looked at her coldly.
“I have one question before I judge how disgusted I am,” Harry said callously.
Hermione flinched. “What’s that?”
“Why? Why Malfoy? And why did you do that to Ron?”
“You have to understand I would never ever hurt Ron intentionally,” she began hurriedly. Harry regarded her cynically.
“Intentional or not, look at him,” he said, gesturing down the table. Hermione complied. Ron was sitting hunched over his dessert, stabbing it aimlessly with his fork. His face was the epitome of depression and hurt. Her heart wrenched painfully as she turned back to her raven-haired friend.
“I was drunk and so lonely you have no idea—” Hermione tried to explain.
“I’m pretty sure I understand what loneliness is,” Harry cut her off grimly. Hermione could have severed her own tongue after that brilliant comment. So far, her explanation wasn’t going well.
“I invited Ron over that night, and he couldn’t come, so I went downstairs for a drink. One turned into two, two turned into four … eventually I lost count. I didn’t even realise who was sitting next to me, and we got to talking,”
“Do I really want to know the rest of the story? I already know where babies come from.” Harry wrinkled his nose in disgust. Hermione emitted a humourless laugh, and her hand travelled subconsciously to her stomach.
“That’s all there is to it. He was as depressed as I was, and I found comfort in that.” She sighed. “When I woke up the next morning, I didn’t even remember what had happened right away. Believe me, I would have cursed that little ferret-boy into oblivion had he taken even two milliseconds more making his getaway.”
“Okay, fine. On a scale of one to ten, my disgust rating is only an eight.”
“That’s a high disgust rating,” Hermione sighed, drooping in disappointment.
“Well, you did sleep with Draco Malfoy”—Harry shuddered—“and you are carrying his child”—He had to suppress a retch. “But, as long as you know how disgusting it is …”
“I spent an hour in the shower that morning scrubbing myself roughly, trying to make myself just feel clean. It didn’t work. I still feel dirty.”
Harry’s laugh resembled Hermione’s and he threw his arm around his friend. The two made their way slowly up to the seventh floor, Hermione feeling incredibly grateful to Harry for his trust in her. They stopped outside of the Fat Lady.
“Look, ‘Mione, I believe you. Partially because I know you’re going to need help to get through this. But the thing is …” He paused. “You see …Ron doesn’t. And if he doesn’t have me, he doesn’t have anyone.”
“I know,” she sighed, her eyes glistening sadly. “And I also know he’d see it as the ultimate form of betrayal if he saw you with me. You go first, I’ll follow in a minute.”
Harry looked relieved. “Thanks, ‘Mione. I’ll try to talk to him.”
“Okay.” She smiled weakly, and embraced her friend. When he broke out of her hug, he smiled encouragingly at her.
“It’ll be okay, ‘Mione,” he said supportively.
She nodded and watched as her friend climbed in through the portrait hole. After a few minutes, she followed, keeping her head down and her face covered by her bushy brown hair.
When Hermione entered the Common Room, she looked around, taking in small amounts of comfort from the familiarity of the plush red armchairs and the gold hangings. Her eyes met Ron’s briefly. He looked away hurriedly, but not before she saw the hurt in his eyes.
Pretending not to have noticed, though her conscience was wriggling painfully, she continued to look around the room, until her eyes fell upon a door that hadn’t been there before. She crossed the room quickly, perplexed. Everyone else’s eyes seemed to be passing over the door as if it weren’t there, which bewildered her further. Looking at the door again, she read the small golden plaque on the door.
Hermione Granger: Personal Dormitory
Personal dormitory? Baffled, she gently pushed the mahogany door open and stepped into the circular room. It was smaller than the dormitories upstairs, but there was a queen-sized bed directly across from the door, a large wardrobe and a full-size mirror to the left, and to the right, another door, leading to what Hermione assumed was a bathroom. Her trunk was at the end of her bed.
Hermione walked towards the bed and sat down, moving her hands over the soft red blankets. The tips of her fingers brushed across rough parchment. Surprised, she picked up the parchment and waved her wand, lighting the candles around the room.
This is your new personal dormitory. The entrance is only visible to me, you, and those you reveal its existence to. Consider yourself the Secret Keeper of sorts.
We do not want to draw attention to the fact that you have a dormitory of your own; therefore, tell only those necessary.
Professor M. McGonagall
It would be much easier to keep a pregnancy a secret if she had her own room, she had to admit. Gratefully, she moved to her trunk and fetched her most recent novel out of it. Sighing softly, she collapsed onto the comfortable bed and escaped into the exquisite world of fiction.
A/N - That was fast, wasn't it? Told you they'd come quickly! Don't forget to type something nice in that fancy new review box at the bottom!
EDIT 18.05.08 - Beta'ed version here, for your enjoyment! Thanks again, Lia!
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