Chapter 14 : Flutters of Realization
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The Great Hall was bedecked in its usual Halloween regalia. Bats flapped and fluttered about the enchanted ceiling, pumpkins glowed eerily from the walls and tables, candles burning orange and black hovered in clusters around the room, and the Hogwarts ghosts swooped enthusiastically between the four House tables.
The traditional feast had begun, and students sat chatting happily with their housemates and gorging themselves on fabulous pies and puddings.
“Reckon Parvati and Lavender will get away with the party?” Ron asked thickly through his mouthful of potatoes.
“Don’t see why not,” said Ginny, scooping up a mouthful of tomato soup. “The teachers won’t be able to locate the Room of Requirement.”
Hermione opened her mouth to voice her disapproval, but Harry cut in first.
“So what are we all going as? It’s a costume party, right?” he asked quickly.
“I’m going as Galvin Gudgeon, the seeker for the Cannons,” said Ron impressively.
“How original, Ronald,” replied Ginny snootily, “I’m going as the lead singer of the Weird Sisters.”
Ron opened his mouth to retort, but Harry once again cut across saying, “And I’m going as a Werewolf – how lovely!”
The boys both looked at Hermione, waiting for her to chime in with what she was dressing up as, when it dawned on them.
“Oi, Hermione, you are planning to go, aren’t you? How are you going to hide…” Ron trailed off, giving her midsection a nod.
Hermione took a bite of pumpkin pie, looking thoroughly nonchalant, and said, “Don’t worry about it, I have it all under control and I’ll be at the party.”
The boys grinned. “That’s the spirit, Hermione,” said Harry, raising his glass to her.
“Our little Head Girl,” cried Ron, wiping a false tear away from his cheek, “She makes me so proud.”
After the feast, the four of them retreated to their various dormitories to don their costumes. Hermione was standing in front of her wardrobe mirror, examining her currently flat stomach from different angles.
“You may be normal now, you tricky beast,” she muttered, “but by midnight you’ll jump out again.”
Sighing in resignation, she pulled off her black Hogwarts robes and walked over to her four-poster where her costume sat waiting. As she carefully arranged it about her, she heard a door slam on the other side of the landing, and footsteps echoing across.
“Three, two, one,” she mouthed and Draco burst into the room.
“Honestly, Malfoy, is there any point in having a door at all if you’re just going to barge on through it whenever you like?”
He smirked at her playfully, “Well if that’s how you feel, I’m sure we can arrange –”
Hermione stopped him with a very McGonagall-like stare.
“Changing subjects then!” he responded enthusiastically. “I must say, Granger, you have outdone yourself.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” she asked skeptically.
“You look… ravishing,” he said with a wicked smile. “You’re a Grecian goddess, I assume?”
“Very good, Malfoy,” said Hermione, her cheeks rosy pink. “There’s no mistaking what you are… although I must say you bare a strong resemblance to in real life anyway…”
Draco bared his teeth and, sweeping her towards him, placed his mouth a fraction of an inch from her exposed neck. “How I vould love to take a bit of your succulent flesh,” he drawled in what she supposed was his attempt at a Transylvanian accent.
“Oh come off it, Granger,” he said with a smile, pulling away, “That’s my pick-up line for the rest of the evening. Think it’ll work?”
“I suppose so,” Hermione admitted, hurrying over to the bathroom to finish her hair.
“Granger, it’s almost eleven! Aren’t you ready?” he called impatiently, taking a seat on her neatly made bed.
“Maybe I would be if you hadn’t come in here with your vampire distractions!”
Draco smiled to himself, “I know you want to impress the Weasel and all, but honestly, it won’t take much!”
Hermione stuck her head out of the bathroom to glare at him, “I am NOT trying to impress Ron!”
“Sure,” Malfoy scoffed.
“I’m not! Why don’t you go back to your room? You’re no use to me here.”
Draco got up and made his way to the bathroom door, looking at his watch, “Granger, it’s eleven now, let’s go!”
Walking into the bathroom, he grabbed Hermione, who was touching up her hair, around the waist and dragged her back into the main room.
“Let me go, Malfoy, or I’ll jinx you back to Transylvania!”
“Granger, Granger,” he said calmly, spinning her around to face him, “You look great. Can we please go now?”
Hermione sighed and then, reluctantly, nodded her head.
The Room of Requirement had been petitioned by the older students of Hogwarts to give them a room in which they could throw a fabulous party all without drawing the attention of any teachers. As a result, the room transfigured into a large circular hall, lit by an iridescent dance floor and chandeliers of glittering orange candles.
It seemed as if every student fifth year and above was milling about the large space, some completely unrecognizable due to their crazy costumes.
Draco led Hermione in, fashionably ten minutes late as planned. His face was pulled into his default mask of superiority, but hers was having trouble hiding her mounting anxiety concerning the evening.
Parvati rushed over to them, cat ears poking out of her shiny black hair, and drawn-on whiskers fanning out across her cheeks. “Draco, Hermione,” she called enthusiastically, pulling Hermione into a fast hug.
Hermione thanked the gods it wasn’t midnight yet – she’d have to make sure no hugs happened afterwards.
“So glad you two could make it,” Parvati chirped with a tiny hiccup.
Hermione looked down and saw a fruity pink cocktail in Parvati’s hand.
“Are you drinking?” she shrieked incredulously.
“Shh it’s only a little cherry soda with a dash of firewhiskey! I’m of age, you know!”
“I hardly think –”
But before she could exclaim her disapproval, Parvati had moved on to welcome the next wave of arrivals.
“Draco, she’s drinking!”
“What did you expect, Granger?” he asked with a wink. “This is a ‘secret’ party for a reason after all.”
“But – but, we’re in school! It’s wrong! And there are underage students here!”
“And what? You never had a little swig of Ogden’s finest when you were underage?” he asked with a laugh.
Seeing Hermione’s aghast expression, however, told him she hadn’t.
“Well, I’ll tell you what, if we see anyone drinking who’s underage, we’ll send them straight back up to their dorms.”
Hermione, still disgruntled, made to say something else, but Draco cut her off, “Oh look there’s the other two-thirds of the golden trio. Why don’t we go say hello, I’d hate to not give them the chance to berate me.”
Draco placed both hands on her back and steered her in the direction of Ron and Harry who were hovering at the edge of the room.
“Hermione!” shouted Ron over the thumping music. “You look great! Can hardly tell you’re you know what!”
Draco rolled his eyes. Before Hermione could tell him she was still under the concealment charm, Ginny sidled up to them, fully outfitted in witch rocker attire.
“Hey boys and girls are you ready to get this party started?” she prompted excitedly.
Hermione looked sheepishly around as Ginny began a very zealous dance move. Harry grabbed her around the middle and the both of them made their way over to the crowded dance floor.
Draco moved over to the wall and leaned against it, watching the party lay out before him with an expression of mild interest. Hermione stood awkwardly halfway into the room, swaying noncommittally to the music, trying desperately to belong. Ron had spotted Luna, his date, and had hurried over to her, leaving Hermione alone with Draco.
Eyeing her amusedly, he called out, “Granger, honestly, have you ever been to a party before?”
Seeming glad that he had spoken and given her a reason to rush over to the wall and stand next to him, she replied timidly, “No. Never.”
Taken aback at her candid response (he had fully expected her to bite his head off), Draco looked at her with something that could possibly have been sympathy.
“Hah,” he said, recovering, “Well you’re making it quite obvious! And you don’t want to do that. Just play it cool like me.”
“This is cool?” she questioned, observing his graceful slouch against the party room’s wall. “You just look apathetic.”
“Exactly, Granger,” he said with a knowing smile. “You’ve got to make people think that there are a thousand things you’d rather be doing.”
“No – it’s cool,” he replied, winking at her.
“Fine,” she began, hesitantly, “How’s this?”
She had balanced an elbow on her other crossed arm, her hand lolled out haphazardly, a look of sheer boredom falling into place on her face.
“Wow, Granger! I have to say, you just might be a natural at this.”
Hermione smiled to herself in apparent glee. Just then, a new song started playing and Draco’s face lit up in recognition.
“Well, we’ve got to dance to this one, come on then,” he said matter-of-factly.
Hermione, a bit startled at his sudden interest in music and dancing, said, “Oh, but Draco, look at the time! It’s nearly midnight…”
“Well were you planning to leave? No. So come on let’s dance – no one will notice out there.” He gestured over to the throng of people swarming around the dance floor.
Not entirely assured, Hermione followed him over to the congregation of dancers apprehensively. She didn’t much like the looks of how her fellow classmates were dancing with one another. It was all so… explicit. She was sure she couldn’t do something like that at all.
While she was bemoaning her own lack of dancing experience, Draco had taken initiative and pulled her into the crowd. Hermione was acutely aware of how close they were standing together. Smirking at her, Draco began to casually bob around. He looked so silly and unusual that Hermione let out a laugh, which only spurred him to dance even more extravagantly. Amidst a fit of giggles, the clock struck midnight and, with a pop inaudible over the blaring music, Hermione’s pregnant stomach shot out and bumped Draco in the groin. She looked up at him, her eyebrows wrinkling together in horror. Draco, completely unfazed, gave her a look of reproach and wagged his finger at her admonishingly. Then placing both hands on her sides, he began to sway her to the music, pulling her right up against him.
They danced like that for a long while, both lost in the music and the feeling of utter abandon. No one seemed to notice or care that the Head Boy and Girl, notorious enemies from Slytherin and Gryffindor, were dancing like they actually might be fond of one another.
That is, no one seemed to notice or care until they finally took a break from the sweaty horde on the dance floor and went to stand by the wall once again.
“Draco!” came a piercing, hostile cry. Pansy Parkinson was stomping towards them.
“Didn’t know you were coming,” she spat.
“Hello, Pansy dear,” Draco replied coolly.
“Thought you’d bless us with your presence, did you?” she retorted in a low hiss.
“Naturally,” he said with a roll of his silver eyes.
“Who are you here with then?” she demanded, her gaze traveling instantly over to Hermione, standing a few careful feet away.
“Surely not her.”
Hermione bristled, her face reddening.
“Well she is Head Girl, and I am Head Boy,” Draco responded shortly, looking off into the distance and not into Pansy’s eyes.
“Your standards have lowered tragically, Draco,” Pansy snapped vindictively. “And she has certainly let herself go… not that she was much to start with.” Her eyes flicked down to Hermione’s swollen middle.
Hermione’s cheeks blazed furiously.
Before either of them could retort, however, Pansy turned on her heel and slunk angrily away.
Hermione turned on Draco. “Yeah thanks for having my back there, mate,” she snarled, her cheeks positively burning and her eyes narrowed in rage.
Pushing him aside, she too stormed away.
Where are the bathrooms, this place has got to have bathrooms, she thought impatiently. To her left, an archway materialized out of nowhere and she hurried through to find two doors marked ‘Witch’ and ‘Wizard.’
Finally alone, she clutched the sink and burst into angry tears. She hated Draco, she hated him. Here she was thinking he was fine, he was even nice sometimes, but no, he was still the same mudblood loathing coward as he used to be.
At these thoughts, a wrench of pain shocked through her stomach, causing her to double over. The pain came again and again and she soon found herself crumpled on the floor in agony, completely helpless.
There was a knocking at the door.
“Granger!” came a rough voice, “Hermione?”
She tried feebly to answer, but her voice caught as she had to grit her teeth against the stabbing pains.
After a moment’s deliberation, Draco charged in, looking around frantically before finally casting his eyes downward to the mound of white fabric that was Hermione.
He rushed silently to her side, carefully rolled her over, and put an ear to her heart.
“Granger, what happened? Can you hear me?”
“Yes,” she croaked. “I just got this horrible pain in my stomach. It coming in waves over and over.”
“I need to get you out of here,” he said desperately.
“How? People will ask questions,” she moaned.
Draco didn’t seem to be bothered by that though, for he had knelt down and picked Hermione up in one fell swoop.
“Quiet. If people ask questions, you slipped on some water and twisted your ankle.”
He pointed his wand at the door and it flew open with a resounding bang. Luckily for them, the partygoers were much more concerned with their dance moves than the antics of the two Heads. Draco managed to carry Hermione through the circular room without so much as one curious head turning in their direction.
It wasn’t until they reached the safety and solitude of the deserted seventh floor, however, that either of them truly breathed.
Nonetheless, without stopping, Draco skidded around the corner and broke out into a sprint, running in the direction of their dormitories.
Hermione was keeping her eyes tightly shut, her arms slung instinctively around his neck. She was concentrating on fighting the pain, but soon realized that the persistent stabs were no longer cutting into her. She opened her eyes a fraction to look up at Draco’s face. He had a set sort of look of determination about him – she couldn’t help but notice, however, that a vein in his temple was pulsating beneath his pale skin.
“Draco, the pain’s gone,” she said flatly.
He didn’t respond. They were hurtling down their corridor now, approaching the entrance to the dormitories.
“Codswallop!” he roared, the portrait flying open and him careening inside.
“Draco, stop! The pain’s gone!”
He was looking around frantically in their common room for a place to put her. Apparently settling on the sofa, he rushed over and carefully laid her down.
“Draco, really,” implored Hermione, “the pain is gone.”
He was panting, kneeling next to her.
“What?! I just carried you at a run across this whole bloody school!”
“I know,” said Hermione sheepishly, “thanks.”
Draco heaved himself up onto the sofa and collapsed. “Don’t mention it,” he murmured.
Hermione sighed, placing both hands on her belly and closing her eyes.
“I really can’t possibly think what went wron – Oh!” she cried suddenly, her eyes snapping open.
“What is it? The pain again?” asked Draco quickly, swiveling to face her.
Hermione just stared straight ahead, her hands pressed gently on her belly.
“Hermione!” he yelled, a trace of worry in his voice.
“No, it’s not the pain,” she said calmly. Then, grabbing Draco’s left hand, she pulled it into place on her navel.
He looked at her like she was a crazy person for a moment and then he felt it. It was like a ripple under her skin – a flutter of tiny little kicks.
“It’s moving... the baby,” she said quietly. “It’s real.”
A/N: Hello faithful readers! Another chapter up (Sorry for the delays, I posted once the queue had reopened, but there was a problem with my story summary... banner image link was posted twice. Ugh!). Please tell me what you think - I love reading ANYTHING you have to say. =)
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