Chapter 1 : Spinning Wheels of Fortune
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A rather stout man with short curly and greyish beard stood at the podium and cleared his throat to get the attention of the people inside the room. He smiled warmly and gave a small nod before he cleared his throat again and talked. "Good afternoon honorable guests, parents and friends. Welcome to the Commencement Exercises and Oath Taking of the Trainee Healers of Batch 2006." He started in a tone that reminded Harry Potter of the late Albus Dumbledore with a slight mix of the bubbly Professor Slughorn. The war-hero took off his glasses and wiped his eyes for a moment and felt his free hand being taken by his pregnant wife, Ginny Potter, once he had put on his glasses once more. She squeezed it lightly and smiled at him.
"She'll be wonderful," she told him in a reassuring tone laced with a small dose of smugness.
Beside her sat his in-laws, Mr and Mrs. Weasley, and beside them sat two muggles of their relation, Dr. and Dr. Granger. He leaned and kissed his wife's temple and squeezed her hand back. "I hope so, Gin," he mumbled half-heartedly. He hoped that Ginny's words would come true and that his worries wouldn't come to fruition. He hoped that luck was still on his side.
The reason of Harry's worries was his best friend, who was set to graduate today. Hermione Granger-Weasley was nine months pregnant and she was due any moment now. According to her superior and mentor, Healer Ruby Morgan, she could skip the commencement exercises and take the oath once she had delivered her child. But true to the stubbornness the heroine possessed, Hermione had refused and insisted that she should be allowed to attend her graduation, take her oath, and see her dreams come into reality.
Her husband should have been with them to witness this special event in her life and to comfort her if anything happened during the ceremony. Instead, he was out of the country, playing for the Chudley Cannons as their keeper. The team had come a long way since the redhead started playing for them. From being the last in the league, the Cannons were now part of the top four teams in Britain along with the Harpies and the Falcons. Harry sighed as he thought of the insensitivity his best friend sometimes possessed. Ron had wholeheartedly supported Hermione's insistence and while that showed his confidence to his wife, he had broken her heart a bit when he told her of his scheduled matches. Apparently, had Hermione been at home and not attended this event, Ron would be forced to not play for their game in Spain. The black-haired wizard shook his head at the other wizard's antics. It was getting tiring every time. He wondered how Hermione handled him.
He felt a sharp tug on his hand and pulled him out of his reverie. The people around him stood up and started clapping as a rather loud and lively march echoed inside the conference room. Harry followed suit, for it was time for the soon-to-be healers to enter. The door at the back opened and two piles of roughly thirty witches and wizards dressed in lime-coloured robes - the standard Healer uniform - marched down the aisle. Leading the way were Draco Malfoy and a very pregnant Hermione Granger-Weasley.
She wobbled down the aisle, but Hermione did it with pride, never minding the fact that they were an odd pair. She had a big smile on her face, and Harry tried to get her eyes to lock to his to show her how proud he was of her. But Hermione never looked in their direction. This made Harry frown but dismissed it. Maybe she really didn't see them. The pair walked passed their row and continued till they reached the first set of rows. Malfoy led his pile on the left rows while Hermione led hers on the right. All too soon, everyone was sitting down and the actual ceremony began. However, Harry Potter was only half-listening as he rubbed small circles on the back of his wife's hand with his thumb. There was something wrong with Hermione; he just couldn't point it out.
Witches and wizards in lime-coloured robes stood as the stout man who started the event asked them to. He smiled warmly at them and flicked his wand to the scroll of parchment on the podium. It rolled down and magnified five times facing the crowd of the new graduates and their families. He was the head healer of the hospital and as such he led the oath taking ceremony of the graduates.
Hermione raised her right hand dutifully as she stifled a gasp by biting her lip as a sudden rush of pain hit her. She knew what it was, but she was denying it. She had to get through this event without complications. This was for her future, for her family's future, and she had been dreaming this for ages and nothing would stop her from getting through this. Not even the delivery of her first born. 'Just a few minutes, Rosie. Mummy will keep her speech really short,' she thought as another rush entered her system and made her wince while she said her vows.
Then it was over. She was now a licensed healer. The man asked them to sit down and Hermione did so gratefully. She didn't think her legs would keep her on her feet further. He gave the floor to the masters of ceremonies whom in turn thanked him. She had tuned out most of what they were saying as she concentrated on breathing. 'More patience baby, please,' she willed her daughter and she hoped it would be fruitful because at that moment, the crowd clapped as her name was called together with her partner, Draco Malfoy, to give their speech.
Slowly, Hermione made her way to the small stage. She cringed ever so slightly with every step until Malfoy caught up with her and helped her climb the short stairs. She smiled at him softly as she took her position at the podium. Their relationship was cordial and bordering into friendly since the potions accident a year after they started training which had almost caused their almost expulsion from the program. They were both spitfires of emotions and ambitions that it had created havoc. Fortunately, they were given another chance, something both of them had not taken for granted.
Draco started his speech and Hermione continued to tune it out as she counted in her head. She pasted a smile on her face, but her body was tensing as the pain increased and the intervals were getting closer. She avoided Harry's eyes or her parents. She knew they'd be worried for her and she loved them for it but she wanted, no, needed, to do this.
The blond wizard beside her nudged her lightly with his elbow and stared down at her with rather curious and concerned eyes. It was her turn and she hadn't even realized it. She blushed and bit her lip, both in embarrassment and in an effort to stifle a gasp. The gasp escaped anyway, but it was barely audible. Hermione inhaled deeply when the pain passed and scanned the room, focusing on the new healers and forced a smile on her face.
"Today marks the start of our new duties. Today marks the fruition of our hardships and sacrifices in five years. As I stand here now," she said, stopping briefly as another pain entered her system. She would get through this. She would because she was Hermione Granger! "As I stand here now, I see the faces of the wizards and witches that would bring hope and advancement in our world. It warms my heart to see that I'm not alone in the mission to..." she trailed and inhaled sharply.
"To help the humankind, magic or not, and save their lives from..." Hermione stopped and her eyes grew wide. A trail of something wet rolled down her legs and a sharp scream escaped her lips. ‘Not now, Rose! Please,’ she pleaded but she couldn't do anything now. Rose Weasley was as impatient as her father.
If someone said that Draco Malfoy would stand in front of new healers, their parents and friends, and the senior healers in St. Mungo's beside a pregnant Hermione Granger-Weasley eight years ago, he would have laughed at their face and proceeded to send them straight to the hospital accusing of inhaling some weird potion scent causing his or her brain to not function well. But eight years later, he might be the one to tell him or her that they were cured and all the while in perfectly healthy condition.
He glanced at the crowd listening attentively at him as he spoke his prepared speech. His eyes darted across the hall to see his mother at the back row alone, sitting still and graceful despite her old age and the hardships she had endured. He felt a warm feeling in him because he knew that he did this, achieved this, for her. He gave a small smile to her and he swore she smiled in return. The crowd didn't matter because at that moment, all he saw was the woman who lied to the darkest wizard ever existed just for him.
Draco finished his speech, the people applauding him. He half expected his companion to start speaking when the crowd's noise died down, but as he glanced at her, Granger looked like she was in trance, a small frown gracing her lips. He furrowed his brows, having a feeling why she was frowning. ‘Stubborn witch,’ he thought and he nudged her to pull her out of trance.
She blushed but forced a smile anyway. Had Astoria been this glowing in her pregnancy, he would have loved her because of the mere fact that she bore his child. Granger was the epitome of beauty ever since she became pregnant. He really didn't know how he had come to realize that, but there was a certain glow in her ever since. He would attest a hundred percent that pregnancy suited her.
But Granger was stubborn. They had all advised her to not attend today and just take her oath alone, because she was ready to pop out anytime. He had even bluntly told her how stubborn she was, but she merely shrugged at him, very uncharacteristic of Granger really. He shook his head slightly and decided to listen, not wanting to follow her example of being in trance.
And it was really lucky that he did because at that exact time, she had stopped speaking. He felt something wet on his trouser leg and at the hem of his robe and looked down. The wetness was coming from her because the bottom part of her robe and her dress was very wet with water. She screamed bloody murder and the thing they had been anticipating and wishing to not happen today was happening.
She stumbled and he put his arms behind her legs and her back. He cradled her in his arms and managed to lock eyes with their mentor and her healer, Healer Morgan, before he ran down the stage and to the door at the back. He saw Harry Potter and his own pregnant wife stand up and move out of their chairs but he didn't stop. If his calculations were correct, Granger was ready to push by the time he had put her on the delivery bed.
He entered the delivery room, the mediwitches he had seen on his way following him, and started fussing over Granger. They had prepared the equipment needed for the delivery and gave him a sterilized pair of rubber gloves. Draco was startled, but duty came first. He knew what he would do, what he was supposed to do because he specialized in treating children and part of their study was connected with delivering a child.
Granger screamed sharply again. She was sweating profusely, her knuckles turning white as she gripped the metal bars of the bed she was in. The pain passed, and she opened her eyes tiredly at him. She tried to force a smile, but she couldn't because she was hit by another contraction. He stood at the end of the bed and inhaled deeply. He had to do this. There was no time to wait for her healer.
Granger was ready and by the next contraction, she had to push. The door opened and in came Healer Morgan. She looked worried, like a mother would be to her child. Draco suspected that she felt very motherly to both of them. She saw him standing on the foot of the bed, between Hermione's open legs.
She went to him and Draco expected that she would take over, but instead she patted his back and leaned forward to whisper in his ear, "Just calm down and do what you need to do. She needs you. You'll be great, Draco. I'm very proud." Healer Morgan said it with the warmest tone he'd ever heard and it pushed him forward to what he needed to do.
"Granger, you need to push when the next contraction hits you," he said calmly, staring at her lidded eyes. She gave a very small nod as Healer Morgan went to her side and took her hand. Draco readied for the delivery, and with a nod to the old healer, Hermione started to push.
It was her scream that filled the room as she pushed her baby out of her womb. All occupants of the room were sweating profusely, but Draco and Healer Morgan were very calm. The old witch even managed to hide how painful Hermione's squeezes were as she murmured gentle words to the labouring witch.
"Granger, another push on the next. Be ready.” He gave a reassuring nod at the tired witch and positioned his hand, ready to cradle the newborn baby when she comes out. A contraction hit Granger and she pushed with all that she could. "Just another one, Granger. You're doing good," he encouraged.
Hermione Granger screamed as she pushed for the last time with all her might. Draco watched, amazed as the baby came out of her to his waiting hands. The witch was tired and panting, and Morgan was murmuring how great she was. The mediwitches started fussing over the bloody newborn child in his hands after he had cut the umbilical cord. A soft slap on the baby's bum gave what all of them were waiting for. Instead of Granger's screams, the room was filled with a newborn's cry.
It was shrill and loud, but Draco thought it was music to his ears and wondered how Hermione thought of it. She probably thought it was the best thing she ever heard. He pulled off the bloody gloves and disposed them, then washed his hands thoroughly. The mediwitches made quick work on cleaning the child and bundling her in pink and white cloth. A young witch cradled the child to him to which he gently received the kid.
The child had stopped crying now as he cradled her in his arms and walked to Granger's free side. The witch was very tired and sweaty, but she was happy based on the smile on her lips. Draco glanced back down on the child in his arms thought that she was prettiest thing he'd ever seen. She had Granger's face, and hoped to Merlin that she would have her personality too. "Your baby, Hermione. She's very pretty; great job,” he murmured, for the first time saying the witch's name to her face. He carefully passed the pink bundle to her arms and stood back, watching the pair.
Granger glowed happily as she stared and cooed at her daughter. Draco wished his wife would be like this when his son was born, but he didn't put his hopes that high up. He settled in watching them. It was all he could get for a tender mother and child moment. He felt like an intruder as Granger smiled with love on the child in her arms, and he was hit with a small pang of sadness that he couldn't explain. The mediwitch came to her side and took the girl out of her mother's arms saying that they needed to clean the child once more. She promised that they would come back when it was time to feed the baby. Hermione gave no fuss and passed her baby. She needed to rest anyway.
Draco knew it was time to leave, so he nodded to the tired witch on the bed and to the healer beside her who moved away from her towards his side. "I'll tell your family about the new member of your clan,” he said gently and with another nod, turned around to leave.
"Draco," she called, her voice a mere whisper, but he heard it. He stopped and turned back slightly to look at her and listen to what she would say. Granger smiled at him, and he thought that he had never seen her more beautiful than she was now. "Thank you, Draco," she said sincerely to him. His heart filled with pride and success. He did something right, and she was grateful for it. He never thought he'd see the day, but it was here now and it felt overwhelmingly good.
"You're welcome, Hermione,” he replied and returned her smile with one of his own. Neither of them knew that this event would cure the generations-worth of hatred between the Malfoys and the Weasleys. Neither of them acknowledged openly that this changed the course of their relationship. Neither of them knew that this would even change the future. Because at this moment, one thing was clear to both of them. Rose Weasley was born and they were both in love with the child.
Thank you to Phoenix_Flames for doing a wonderful job on beta-ing this story.