Ron hurried through the hospital, looking for his latest contact. He hated hospitals, having spent much more time in them as a kid than he’d wanted to, watching various family members recover from the impact of the Second Wizarding War. Since the fall of Voldemort he’d come here as infrequently as possible, aside of course from when his kids were born, but sometimes his job made it absolutely necessary. Like now, he thought. His source had been injured while carrying out a task for Ron, and quite frankly some of what he was seeing in Spell Damage was enough to give him nightmares. He dreaded to think what his contact looked like now.
Finally he found him. “You look awful,” he said bluntly as he approached the bed, taking in the bruising on the face, paralysed limbs and marks of torture that he would prefer he didn’t recognise.
Theodore Nott glared at him. “Sure you should be here?” he asked. “You’re blowing my cover.”
That surprised him. “Thought it was blown already,” he pointed out. “Isn’t that why you’re here?”
Nott relaxed, as much as his injuries would let him. “Yeah, they worked it out,” he said glumly. “I was lucky to escape with my life, really. Don’t think they had any idea how long I’d been passing info to you lot.”
“You were always very careful,” Ron admitted. “One of my best sources, to be honest. It’s a shame you got caught out.”
“One slip,” Nott muttered with frustration. “One bloody slip. After ten years.”
“Which in itself is remarkable,” Ron pointed out. “You’re in line for an Order of Merlin. Oh, and a spot in Witness Protection if you want to change your identity.”
Nott looked at him, clearly considering the proposal. “I’ll have a think about that,” he said finally. “Talk it over with the wife. If she feels like she’s in danger, we’ll take it. If not, we might see if we can sit it out.”
Ron shrugged. “Up to you,” he said genially. “Seriously, mate, you were brilliant. For ten years you were brilliant. I’m only sorry that it had to end like this.”
Nott tried to shrug. “They’re a bunch of idiots anyway,” he said noncommittally. “I’m probably better off rid of them. Monosyllabic conversation and dumb ideas … honestly, I was surprised they could communicate in a way more sophisticated than grunts.”
“You always were bright, weren’t you,” Ron agreed. “Sorry, mate, but I can’t sympathise. I’m always the thick one.”
Nott grinned as best he could. “With a wife like yours, I’m not surprised,” he acknowledged. “But you’re bloody good yourself. Assistant head of the Aurors, aren’t you?”
Ron looked at the ground modestly. “Only because my best mate is the head,” he said.
“Rubbish,” Nott declared. “If you weren’t good enough you wouldn’t have got the job. Believe me, Weasley, I know who’s got the goods and who doesn’t. You’ve got them.”
Ron’s ears went scarlet. “Thanks,” he mumbled. Even after all these years, even after they’d made a Chocolate Frog card of his achievements, he still couldn’t’ take compliments very well.
Once the meeting with Nott was over, Ron was keen to leave St Mungo’s as soon as he could. Honestly, the less time he spent in there, the happier he was. He could still remember his father and brother being close to death in there, and if he was honest with himself he still got spooked by the condition of Neville’s parents. How Neville had managed to keep it all together with his mum and dad in that state for just about his whole life was beyond Ron, and he was eternally grateful that he didn’t have that to deal with.
Really, all he did have to worry about was that occasional dalliance with Pansy. But he had that under control, he was going to end it next time he saw her. He couldn’t keep doing it, no matter how good the sex was. Thinking about what it would do to Hermione if she ever found out was reason enough for that.
“Ron? Is that you?”
He stopped involuntarily at Pansy’s voice. Had he really heard it or was his imagination playing tricks on him? A moment later, though, he realised it was really happening, because Pansy herself was coming towards him, looking nervously around as though she was worried Hermione might be nearby.
“Are you alone?” she asked in that husky voice that would always turn him on.
“Uh, yeah, but I don’t think …” He was cut off by her hurried movements.
“In here,” she said quietly, finding a linen cupboard nearby that had enough room for a couple of people to stand comfortably. “I want this to be private.”
Ron automatically cast Muffliato on the door and looked at her, perplexed. “Pansy, I can’t just stop and talk to you like this. What if we got seen?”
“You need to know this,” she said throatily. “I’ve just been checked out by the Healers here. We’ve got a – a situation.”
Ron looked weakly at her. “A situation? What are you talking about?”
She just looked at him. “I’m pregnant.”
Ron froze. Whatever he’d been expecting, it wasn’t this. In fact, part of him had been expecting that she’d be wanting to use this linen cupboard as a venue for their, um, activities, and he was almost disappointed that she didn’t. This, however, was beyond anything he could have even considered.
Why not, though? That voice in the back of his head asked the rational question. They’d never used protective charms, they’d never even discussed the possibility of conception. He knew he was fertile – Rose and Hugo proved that – so it was probably inevitable that this would happen eventually. What it meant, though, was another matter entirely.
He forced himself to look at her again. “You’re what?”
“Pregnant,” she repeated.
“Is it mine, though?” he asked brusquely. “Look at you, Pansy. It could be anyone’s.”
She shrank away from him a little. Really, he hadn’t been fair on her – while she dressed provocatively, she wasn’t really promiscuous, though he honestly did have no idea if he was the only one she was seeing. He would have liked to have been, but then again as a married man he couldn’t exactly insist on her keeping away from other men.
“Other people, I use every protective charm known to man,” she said coolly. “Goodness only knows what they might have. With you, though …” She left the sentence unfinished, but the implication was clear. The charms had a 99.99% success rate. It was almost impossible that this child belonged to one of her other conquests. Which, as far as he knew, only left … him.
“But are there others?” he asked, needing to be sure. “Like me, that is?”
Pansy shook her head. “Just you, Ron,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry, but that’s what it is.”
He was really struggling to take it all in. “But … but … what will you do?” Meaning, will you keep it or not?
She shrugged. “If you’d asked me a week ago, I’d have said without question that I’d terminate. But now …” She looked up at him, her expression pained. “I don’t know if I can do that, Ron. It’s my baby.”
“Our baby,” Ron pointed out. “If that’s the case, that is. Meaning I should get a say too.”
Pansy looked earnestly at him. “And, given the choice, would you really want to kill it?”
Ron faltered. He’d meant to say yes, of course, but he realised that he couldn’t do that. Children were precious and should never be taken for granted. He couldn’t terminate.
“No,” he said eventually, his voice weak. “No, I wouldn’t.”
Pansy nodded and took his hands in hers. “Sorry for springing it on you like this, but I thought you had to know.”
Ron sighed. Of course he did, but now he did know he couldn’t un-know. He would take this knowledge home with him that night, would have to hide it from Hermione and the kids. And when the baby was born, then what? Would he be expected to help financially? What about visitation? What about the birth certificate? Would he be listed, and would Hermione find out that way? It was all too much to take in.
“I need to think about this,” he muttered, opening the door to the linen cupboard and hurrying away, leaving her behind, probably just as confused as he was. But her state of mind wasn’t top of his list of priorities at the moment, he knew that. He needed to work out how this was going to pan out, and start preparing for damage control.