I wait to read the two letters until I have showered and maybe feel a little less like I am going to lose it. I can’t believe they put this on the front page, what kind of newspaper prints this kind of garbage? I should have kept Rita Skeeter in a jar forever when I had her.
“Okay, Harry what is it you need to say?” I mutter as I pick up his letter.
I saw the newspaper today, as I’m sure you have. I won’t jump to any conclusions that have too handily been drawn for me. So instead, I will ask, what is going on? I haven’t seen you in ages (okay, like a month) but you are in the picture of you and Charlie.
I mean, you are allowed with Charlie, but I thought I was your best friend? I hope that the newspaper put the bracelet that is shown there. If not, then well I would like for you to at least talk to me. The picture of you and Malfoy, well he is a prat and I know there is no way you are going to have a kid with him. I will wait for a response from you with Hermes and if I don’t get one, then I will find Charlie and get some sort of answer out of him.
I love you Hermione, so please let me know what is going on.
~ Love, Harry
I look up at Hermes and then at the clock, it is close to seven, and I need to get to the store. I quickly pen a reply and explain that I woke up late, and need to get to work, and then I assure him that Malfoy and I are not having a baby together, and that Charlie and I had lunch yesterday. I don’t say any thing about the bracelet, and hope that it will keep him occupied until I have more time to explain.
I grab the other letter that just has my name on it, and stuff it into my bag. I take Harry’s reply to Hermes and he flies out the window, which I shut and lock, then adjust my wards and leave my flat. I start walking down the street and once I turn the corner, I see at least five people standing outside the front door of my store, no doubt reporters. I take a deep breath and then slowly walk toward them, head down.
“There she is!” One of them shouts and I jump not thinking they would be this excited.
“Miss Granger, is it true, you are pregnant?” One of the reporters asks while a couple camera flashes go off.
“I prefer not to comment at this time, and would appreciate if you would respect my privacy.” I say calmly as I open the door.
“So you don’t deny that you and Mr. Malfoy are to be parents?” Another dogged reporter asks.
“Please, leave me alone, I have no comment for you.” I reply and walk inside the door.
I pull out my wand and change the wards for people to enter, minus any reporters. I conjure a sign that reads no reporters allowed inside the bookstore or café. Finally I charm a ten-foot area in front of the door so that actual customers can come and go, without having to trip over reporters.
Satisfied, I flip the sign to read open and ignore the comments from the shunned people outside. I head to the counter, set the date on the register and head to the back. Once inside my office, I realize that I don’t remember putting the money away, in fact I couldn’t have, I was taken to St. Mungos by Malfoy. I look around and then open the safe, no money.
I return to the front of the store and look in the drawer, no money I look all over and then start to get panicky.
“Hey, Hermione, are you okay?” I look up as Jake walks into the store, I must look as panicked as I feel.
“No.” I reply simply and then start crying, as I lean against the wall behind the counter and slide to the floor.
“Hermione!” Jake rushes to me behind the counter, and slides down next to me pulling me into a hug. “What’s wrong, is it all true, talk to me, please don’t cry honey.” He says really fast all the while letting me cry on his shoulder.
This crying thing seems to be happening a lot lately I think to myself. I pull myself together and lean back from Jake.
I smile slightly up at him. “I’m sorry, and no not everything they are saying is true.” I sniffle a bit and take a deep breath.
“Hermione, you still have the bracelet on.” Jake says as he holds up my hand slightly.
I frown down at the stupid reminder of yesterday. “I haven’t had time to figure out how to get it off.” I mumble.
“Here.” Jake says then simply pulls out his wand and taps the bracelet. Instantly it breaks apart and falls from my wrist.
He picks it up and hands it to me.
“Thanks, Jake.” I say grateful that one of us hasn’t lost our mind completely and I stuff the offending bracelet into my pocket.
“Can you tell me?” He asks. “I am here for you Hermione.” He says softly looking serious.
I nod slowly, he flicks his wand at the door and I hear the lock click.
“Thanks.” I say and really mean it, I wouldn’t have thought of that and then somebody would have come in and then everybody would know the mess I am in.
I tell Jake what happened yesterday leaving out whom the real father is, and leaving out how Malfoy had threatened closing the store. I finally finish and heave a big sigh feeling a little lighter.
“By the way do you know where Malfoy would have put the money from yesterday?” I ask thinking that so far Jake is the only one today that has been thinking straight. “That’s why I was freaking out when you came in, Malfoy must have put it somewhere when he took us to St. Mungos.” I explain.
Jake is shaking his head no when we hear the door open and close. Both of us look at each other confused then a shadow appears over us, and we look up at none other than Draco Malfoy.
“Great, now the baby daddy is here, those reporters are going to LOVE this.” I say sarcastically frowning at his smirk.
“Well, hello to you too, momma.” He replies icily. “Did you decide to just ignore my letter this morning?” He growls at me.
“Oh!” I exclaim figuring out the second letter must be from him. I pull my bag to me and rummage in it until I finally find and pull out the letter.
“I was running late this morning, and then I got stopped by reporters, and then I panicked about the money, then I had a nervous break down, and then you came in.” I ramble as I break the seal and open the letter. “I’ve been busy.”
I have the money from your store; I could get neither the stupid moneybag open, nor the safe. I would appreciate a reply as to how you would like to get it, with out alerting the press. Also we need to make it clear that I am NOT the father, nor do I have ANYTHING to do with you, or your baby. ~Draco Malfoy (ASSUMED Baby Daddy)
“Ah, Malfoy that was sweet of you to remind me that you are not the father of my child, its not like I wouldn’t know that.” I say pleasantly then scowl at him. “So where is the money?” I ask innocently.
“Okay, well I’m going to go get the café ready.” Jake says standing, and then looks at Malfoy, “How did you get in?”
“I had to set the wards yesterday when I apparated Granger to St. Mungos. They still recognize me until she changes them.” He says easily. “By the way, I am Draco Malfoy, we weren’t properly introduced yesterday. I own this building.” Malfoy says to Jake holding a hand out to shake.
“Nice to meet you.” Jake smiles then asks. “Don’t you just love what Hermione has done with the place?”
“Oh, sure.” Malfoy says dryly smirking at me over Jake’s shoulder.
Jake walks off to the café as Malfoy pulls out an envelope with money in it and sets it on the counter. He looks down at me and shakes his head; he walks around hoists me up and sits me on the stool behind the counter. Surprised by his actions I don’t know what to say or do. I blink at him then shrug and reach for the envelope and empty it into the till.
“So I take it you read the Prophet today?” He asks casually while he leans against the counter like he has no place to be and all the time in the world. “Why were you lounging on the floor?” He adds smirking.
“Yes.” I say slowly, wondering what he wants and why he is still here, while ignoring his question about the floor. He seems to always find me one the floor.
“So, Charlie huh?” He questions lifting a brow sounding a little jealous. “I thought you were seeing the youngest male Weasel.”
I scowl at him and before I can say anything, somebody comes into the store nods at us then walks over to the café. I watch as another person walks in and does the same thing. They must not have read the Prophet.
My stomach growls, I look down and scowl at my stomach, I forgot to eat this morning.
“You know if you keep not eating, you are going to end up at the Healers again, and I for one, can’t always be around to take you again.” Malfoy leans in and quietly says.
I snap my head up to him and glare, “I appreciate you taking me yesterday, and I apologize that you had to get drug into the media like you did, but why exactly are you still here?” I question not bothering to sound even remotely appreciative.
“I explained in the letter why I am here right now.” He says stiffly and then smirks at me. “You need to eat, you know your eating for two now, plus you shouldn’t sit on the floor, you could catch something.”
I growl at him and lean forward my arm coming up to hit him like it has a mind of its own. He easily grabs my wrist before my fist can connect with his face and leans forward. He lowers my hand still clutched in his, while rubbing his thumb across the inside of my wrist against my pulse.
I feel like my wrist is sizzling under his touch, we are barely separated by inches and he says, “You shouldn’t hit the baby’s daddy.” Malfoy winks at me then chuckles as he spins around and saunters out the door.
“Argh!” I exclaim throwing my hands up, and then take a calming breath, then another, so I don’t lose it in front of any customers.
What was that I wonder to myself, why is Malfoy joking about this, why does he keep showing up? Did he comment to any of the reporters? He did say he wanted to, but did he? He makes me crazy I think to myself then violently push all thought of Malfoy from my head.
I calmly walk over to the café. “Hey Jake, I didn’t get breakfast this morning, could you make me something, though no caffeine.” I ask. “I’ll be right back.” I add as I head to the loo, luckily this time not to throw up.
“No problem Hermione, I’ll have it for you in a couple minutes.” Jake replies happily.
About an hour and a half later, the reporters finally start to give up and by ten thirty they are all gone. Oddly enough this morning has been busy, and most people who come in either get something from the café or pick up a book from the bookstore. Apparently the news about my personal life hasn’t affected most of the people, because not one person asks me anything about it.
By noon I am feeling much happier than I have been for a good 24 hours, and then a delivery of flowers comes in. They are beautiful, mostly bright colours of gerbera daisies and orange roses, with some greens thrown in. Instantly they make me feel happier, and curious, so I reach for the card.
Thanks for lunch yesterday, can’t wait until Friday.
A huge smile stretches across my face and my stomach flutters.
“Who are those from?” Jake asks coming up beside me, handing me a cup of tea.
I tilt the card toward him so he can read it and then he lifts his brows at me and gives me a half smile.
I shrug as if to say ‘aren’t I so lucky’ then I lean over and give them a little sniff. Instantly the smell hits me and I feel incredibly sick, my stomach turns and I have to dash to the loo. Again I empty what little is in my stomach, flush and rinse. I’m going to have this routine down perfectly after a few more times.
I exit the bathroom, and Jake is still standing by the counter and the flowers. “Hey Jake, can you take those over to the counter at the Café, I ah, well the smell.”
“Oh, yeah, I understand.” He says and takes the vase over to a table in the café in front of a window and sets it in the centre.
“Thanks.” I mumble and then check the time, twelve thirty; I guess maybe I should eat a little something.
“Hermione.” I hear a man say and look at the door.
“Harry!” I shriek and throw myself at him. “I’m so happy to see you!” I say happily as we hug each other. “You found my shop, what do you think?” I ask him a little nervously
Harry looks around seemingly a bit amazed. “Wow, Hermione, it has only been what, a month and look at what you have done! Its perfectly you.” He finishes with a look of pride on his face.
“Thanks, Harry. That means a lot!” I tell him feeling weepy again.
“Want to get lunch with me?” Harry asks watching me blink back tears.
“Sure!” I say and call over to Jake, “Lets take lunch. I’ll flip the sign.”
“Sounds good, see you in an hour.” Jake replies and leaves through the front.
Harry and I follow him out and I turn to lock the door and adjust the wards while we are gone.
“Harry, what can you tell us about your best friend’s happy news about the baby?” A bold reporter calls from across the street.
“Geez, I thought they had all left.” I say to Harry, he just looks at me and shrugs.
“No comment.” He calls then turns to me and smiles widely. “Lets go eat.”
We apparate to an alley close to a muggle restaurant, we have eaten at before. We get our table and place our orders before Harry finally asks me to explain.
“Well, Harry first, let me just tell you, I am pregnant. Though I can’t tell you who the father is quite yet.” I say and watch his face as emotions run across it.
Shock, disbelief, acceptance, anger, curiosity, determination, it was very fascinating to see.
“Okay Hermione, start at the beginning, and first off, I want to know what happened with Ron. I’m not stupid, you two didn’t decide to just be friends.” Harry says finally looking determined to get the whole story. “I’m your best friend, and I want to help you, however I can.”
“Thanks Harry.” I reach across the table and squeeze his hand, glad that he is my friend.
The waitress comes with our food, once she leaves, I tell him the story of Monday.