Hermione Granger sat silently with scrunched eyebrows inside the lavatory of the small one-bedroom city flat that she and Ron Weasley currently owned. Her narrowed eyes were focused on a potion sitting on the counter. She had just finished brewing it and the result was showing nothing so far- which was good.
"Blood red means positive and black means negative," she mumbled to herself. Looking away for a moment she flipped through the potions book that lay open in her lap, she glanced at a recipe for a potion she, for once, had never used before. Shortly after she would turn away again, her brown eyes focused on the potion for the umpteenth time.
"It's negative," Hermione said to herself and, with a relieved sigh, she felt the weight of a Hippogriff come off her chest. The pregnancy potion she had added her urine to had not turned red, she was not pregnant.
"Thank God," she breathed, before putting the potions book down next to the potion itself and laughing out loud in spite of herself. Biting her nails through work cases all day, Hermione was intensely distracted and felt very relieved to see she got the answer she desired.
After finally pulling herself together, Hermione left the lavatory with a relieved grin and joined her closest girlfriend, Ginny, in the small off-white living room. A picture of Ron, Hermione, and Harry smiling stood dusty on the fireplace mantle next to a picture of the old Dumbledore's Army from their fifth year where they posed in the Room of Requirement.
"So?" the pretty redheaded girl wondered, curious brown eyes searching her friend for any sign of panic with an opened Daily Prophet on her lap. She had been anxiously awaiting the answer ever since Hermione had disappeared an hour ago to make the potion.
"Negative!" Hermione said in a relieved voice, plopping down next to Ginny on the comfortable brown leather sofa.
Ginny pouted her thin lips in response. "Well damn, I was hoping for a little niece or nephew. Hell you’re already one of the top trainees at the Ministry as a Detective and you still have another year of training to go! You definitely make enough money, why not pop out a kid or two?"
Hermione snorted and rolled her eyes but then shortly after, narrowed them. "You're one to talk! Ginny you know with the condition Ron's and my relationship is in that wouldn't be the most intelligent decision at the moment, and Ron's not ready to be a father."
Ginny rolled her eyes and sighed in response. "You would be just fine. You’ll both be fine whether you were having a kid or not."
"I don't know about his talking to Lavender Brown still Ginny, I'd rather vomit twice as many slugs as Ron did that year than be in her presence ever again. I know she needs a friend but why does the friend have to be an ex? Why does her friend have to be my boyfriend?" Hermione complained. "I'm not the jealous type but Merlin, you'd think she would lay off him after their break-up in sixth year."
Lavender had owled Ron begging him to come and talk with her one night because she was 'lonely' and ever since, Hermione would occasionally catch glimpses of letters from Lavender being snatched quickly off of Lavender's owl's leg by Ron, more than three times a week. She had tried her hardest not to be untrusting, but it was difficult to not be suspicious.
"Well he has the right to say no, doesn't he? He's a git like all of them, Hermione. Even Harry gets under my skin at times when he talks to all those groupies he has following us everywhere! Yes it is just a simple "hi" every now and again, but it still crawls under my bloody skin when he blushes because of them-" Ginny defended herself as Hermione started to giggle, but then got serious again at her friend's face.
"I try to trust him though Gin, I do. We have been through so much together," Hermione confided, sighing again as she thought of the bump they were going through in their relationship.
Hermione and Ron decided that they would try to be together as a couple shortly after the kiss in the Chamber of Secrets. Following the war, Hermione had no where to go because she had erased her parent's memories and sent them to Australia, so she asked the Weasleys if she could stay in an extra bedroom. She was the rock when everyone in the Burrow was suffering from the grief of Fred's death. She cooked and cleaned when Mrs. Weasley didn't have the emotional energy to, she helped Ginny with her 'Harry' problems which were quickly resolved by them getting together again, and she was more than anything, a shoulder for Ron to cry on when he missed his brother most. George had of course left the Burrow following Fred's death and they had not seen him in months. It was rumored that he was staying in the Leaky Cauldron in a hotel room, refusing to stay in the back room he shared with his twin at the jokeshop, that was still running as strong as ever.
The night that Ron and Hermione had become an official couple, Ron had cornered Hermione after dinner and took her out to the pond through the tall grass, with a tight hand wrapped around her waist. He stopped midway and kissed Hermione for the second time ever, asking her to be his girlfriend.
She agreed, giddy with happiness because she thought that Ron felt the kiss meant nothing before that night, having not said a word about it. The relationship between them had been going quite smoothly and filled with love so far until the night Hermione first caught him replying to one of Lavender Brown's letters.
"She needs a friend after being alone for so long after the war!" he had said in defense, "she got mauled by a werewolf. Wouldn't you want a mate to be there for you when everyone else turns away in disgust? Even Parvati has stopped wanting to be around her all the time."
Hermione chose to not say anything more that night even though her blood was almost past boiling point. She wasn't sure whether she hated Fenrir Greyback or Lavender Brown more at that moment three months ago when it happened.
It was a rainy Friday when Hermione bought the ingredients for the potion. She invited Ginny to come over for moral support, knowing Harry or Ron would never understand such a thing. Her period was late, scaring her to death into making the potion, even though she didn't want to.
Hermione looked back at Ginny with a smile, after a small period of silence after talking about their boyfriends. "I am so happy it wasn't positive."
"Well I guess Harry and I would be pretty upset right now if we found out we were expecting. I can understand if I were in your shoes with my playing Quidditch now and your working in the Ministry. I have only been in Quidditch a year now too and I would like to be at least twenty-five before I have kids." Ginny said with a grin, admiring her Harpies uniform as she always did in the reflection of a nearby window. She had arrived at Hermione and Ron's right after her afternoon practice.
"Yeah so shut your mouth about me!" Hermione said with a playful nudge of Ginny's shoulder.
"I guess we best make the boys some dinner before they get home?" Ginny wondered, standing up and walking to the kitchen to look in the fridge.
"I have some fish and various vegetables in there we can cook," Hermione said, giggling at Ginny's facial expression.
"Er, I guess fish will be okay. How do you even work this thing? Mum wouldn't let dad get one a few years ago when he begged her. He tried for quite awhile. I've seen it when I visit of course but never took the time to look in it."
"You store food in it Ginny," Hermione chuckled, getting up to demonstrate. "This is the cool side and this is the frozen side," she continued while opening the doors of the appliance and grinning.
"Well I guess this is the fish then?" Ginny wondered, grabbing some frozen objects wrapped tightly in plastic.
"Yes, that'll be them," Hermione answered, taking the seafood from her and setting them on the counter to thaw.
"You cook so much different to mum and I," Ginny told Hermione, returning to the living room to sit down.
"I cook the way my mum taught me. The Muggle way," Hermione said a little glumly, getting various vegetables out to start making as well.
Just as Hermione started up a pan and threw the vegetables in to cook, Ron and Harry walked through the door in a deep conversation.
" –he will start a new Death Eater alliance I’m telling you," Ron was saying with an angry tone, following his best friend, Harry, into the flat and shutting the door behind him.
"He's different now Ron, I doubt he'd do anything like that," Harry answered his friend, sitting on the sofa next to his girlfriend. "His father maybe, but not him. He was the coward? Remember?"
"Who are you two dumbos on about?" Ginny asked curiously while grabbing Harry's hand lightly with her left one.
"Malfoy, he was let out of Azkaban today after only three years incarerated," Harry answered as Ron shook his head in disbelief.
"I wish I didn't miss that. I was occupied with cases today, as you both know. Although I do think that Malfoy may deserve a second chance. He didn't give you up after all in Malfoy Manor, Harry. And his mum proved very protective, or you may have died a second time," Hermione said, avoiding Ron's gaze because she knew he would be upset with her choice of sides. It was not the side he was on.
"Hermione, you’re always occupied with cases. How the bloody hell were you able to leave so early today, may I ask? And Malfoy doesn't deserve anything," Ron retorted, eyeing her.
"Ginny wanted to spend some time with me!" Hermione lied hastily as her face reddened. She had remembered the potion still lying on the counter in the lavatory and dashed off to clean it before someone went in there. Ginny shot a sly smile after her.
Hermione got rid of the evidence and returned to her friends and boyfriend in the living area, hoping they thought she just needed to use the toilet.
"Hermione we could have used your brains in court today. I wasn't sure how to say some things like you could have. It was hard letting Malfoy go, but making his parents go back to the prison. You should have seen his face," Harry said a little sadly as his eyes dropped into his lap.
"I wouldn't have known how to do that either, because I know how it feels not to be able to see your parents for a long time and I hate it, honestly. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, not even him," Hermione said, her parents' faces showing up in her mind. She wondered where they might be as she often did and if they were happy and she swallowed the familiar ball in her throat. She needed to find them and check on them eventually... sooner than later she hoped.
"Sorry Hermione. I didn't mean to bring that up," Harry said solemnly, frowning at the awkward situation he just created.
Hermione had gone to Australia immediately following the war to look for her parents, but when she found them they seemed so happy that she backed off from reversing their memories, even though it was the most heartbreaking thing she ever had to do. Now 'Monica and Wendell Wilkins' owned a restaurant in downtown Sydney, Australia and have no idea who Hermione is, or that they are really dentists who should be living in London.
"What are you cooking?" Ron asked, changing the subject as he walked to the stove to see what was in the pan and the Muggle oven. He was not one to dwell on emotional subjects lately. "Fish and vegetables?"
"Yes," Hermione answered, as Ron swooped in to kiss her, putting the fish in the oven because they were now thawed. Hermione didn't smile when he kissed her. Her original spark for Ron was starting to fade and she didn't know why.
"How was your day?" Ron whispered, leaning against one of the counters to look at her. He examined her stressed face, making him worried for them, as he had been for quite awhile.
"It was fine, Ron. How was yours?" Hermione asked simply as she focused on the oven and not her boyfriend's face.
"Well as you heard, it wasn't so great because Malfoy got out of Azkaban. I was hoping I would never see his face again but somehow, that's not going to happen," Ron answered, leaving her side now to head back into the living room with his sister and best-friend.
Dinner was done by eight in the evening and the four of them sat down to eat at the wooden antique table, Hermione inherited from her parent's old house. She had 'borrowed' many things that her parents would never use anymore as furniture for their house.
The table was silent and Hermione couldn't stand it. To make it worse there was an owl at the window knocking, as Harry was finishing his food slowly last. Hermione already knew who the letter would be from and eyed Ron as he swallowed rather loudly. Ron seemed too scared to get up so Hermione did so, walking to the window and cracking it open so Lavender's owl could come in. Hermione took the letter and looked down at it.
It read in cursive ‘To Won Won’.