Chapter 16: Useless to Deny
Black void surrounded Hermione from all sides even as some of her senses were slowly returning. The first sign that she was once again connecting to the real world was a distant murmuring of unidentified voices. A few moments later the young witch gradually began to become aware of the soft bed beneath her body and the light duvet which covered her. Subconsciously giving her numb mind a few more minutes to get its bearings, Hermione finally opened her eyes.
At first the light seemed so unnaturally bright that she was forced to squint. Forcing her somewhat stiff muscles to move next, Hermione lifted her torso from the bed and propped herself into a sitting position.
“Ah. I see that Mrs. Snape has finally awoken. Good morning.”
With her eyes still partially shut, Hermione\'s head followed the sound of the voice. As it appeared, Professor McGonagall stood right at the entrance of the room with Madame Pomfrey beside her. It must have been the two them talking that she heard a few moments ago.
“Where am I?” grunted Hermione. Even though she still couldn\'t fully open her eyes, she was most certain that she wasn\'t in the Gryffindor Tower or the dungeons.
“You are in the right wing of the Infirmary, where most severely injured people are usually kept,” replied the nurse this time.
Hermione was not completely sure but she thought she saw the Headmistress give the school matron a momentary glance of warning before she turned back to her.
“What Madame Pomfrey really means is that being in this ward ensures privacy and discretion above all. There is nothing to worry about, Mrs. Snape.”
“Oh, really? And how will you describe the situation the poor girl is in now?” suddenly enquired Pomfrey, giving the taller witch an irritated glance of her own.
“Poppy, calm down!” hissed the Headmistress.
But it was too late.
“Injured? Situation? What are you talking about?” exclaimed Hermione momentarily dumbfounded. The events of the previous evening seemed a bit hazy and she couldn\'t remember at all what had caused her to be in the Hospital Wing. Quickly scanning her body with both hands, she was assured that no physical damage was present.
Noting the quizzical expression upon Hermione\'s face, Professor McGonagall took a deep breath before silently letting it out.
“Do you remember anything at all from yesterday, in particular what happened right before you...passed out?”
Hermione frowned in deep concentration but had to negatively shake her head after a couple moments of silence.
“I told you that you must have given her too much Sleeping Drought, Poppy!” said the Headmistress in exasperation, obvious disapproval in her voice.
“And what would you have had me do, then? Leave her lying unconscious on the stone floor and patiently wait until she woke up, regained her senses and jumped from the Astronomy Tower instead?” cried out the nurse.
“Is this your true opinion on the subject? That death is the better solution?!”
Madame Pomfrey actually waved her plump hand at the Headmistress\' angry retort as if dismissing her words.
“Just listen to yourself for a minute, Minerva! For Merlin\'s sake, she is but a child herself! There is no more future for that girl! By Merlin, in another situation I would have counted this occurrence a blessing if not something more, but not in this case.”
“Desperate times call for desperate measures. At times, some of us are forced to give up our childhood before our time and Hermione, I fear, is one of those chosen ones,” said McGonagall quietly.
Madame Pomfrey, on the other hand, was anything but quiet in her opinions.
“To Hades with those times! We are talking about a girl who is barely eighteen years old here. You’re starting to sound more like Albus every day, and he possessed a rather ill-idealistic view of things like this!” she exclaimed, pointing her trembling finger in Hermione\'s direction.
At this, the Headmistress took a deliberate step towards the slightly younger witch with stern lines set deep around her mouth. When she at last spoke, Hermione nearly missed the forcibly whispered words.
“Then I should feel honoured to have been compared to one of the greatest wizards born to this world, instead of criticizing things that neither you nor I may never fully comprehend.”
At last, the nurse did not seem able to respond to the words of the Headmistress. As a result, the two women continued to scrutinise each other with their glares but this time doing so mutely.
“What is going on?” asked a more than anxious Hermione. The sleeping potion must have been still heavily clouding her rational thought for she subconsciously realised there was something terribly wrong with her, but she could not remember what.
The sound of her voice set the nurse\'s tongue running again as she now whirled to face her patient.
“In a few months you are not going to fit into any of your school skirts, that\'s what is going on!”
Hermione\'s frown only grew deeper with confusion just as her gut twisted with an unexplainable fear.
“What are you talking about?”
The nurse produced something like an annoyed snort.
“You are pregnant, honey! As in: another human being is presently growing inside of you and very soon you will be giving birth to either a boy or a girl.”
The words hit Hermione like miniature bludgers, leaving her desperately gasping for breath. Pregnant. With that one word, memory rushed back into her brain, flooding her completely. Only now she understood what had really caused her to faint the night before.
Fuck...fuck...fuck...chanted Hermione\'s voice inside her skull. Without looking at either of the adults, her eyes flicked to the sides in a frenzied movement. She had no reason not to believe them and that only made everything worse. Since she had only had sex once in her entire life, then she knew she was over a month pregnant. And the complexity of the situation did not end there.
She was not carrying just anyone’s child, she was carrying Severus Snape’s child.
With desperation unlike any she had known before, Hermione blabbered the first thing that came into her mind.
“Can I abort it?”
But the same moment those words came out of her mouth, Hermione felt appalled at herself. The feeling only heightened when she saw the Headmistress giving her a disappointing look.
“That is an impossible option, Mrs. Snape. Witches are able to proceed with an abortion only when the child is conceived out of wedlock. The marriage ceremony, therefore, secures that any child produced between the couple would be practically impossible to dispose of,” Professor McGonagall informed her.
Hearing this, Hermione buried her head in her hands. It was quiet ironic when you thought about it; one of the cleverest witches of the century managed to find herself married to her Professor and get pregnant in the process as well. And all accomplished by the tender age of eighteen, no less.
From now on, no one had the right to call her life boring.
“What is to become of me now?” Hermione addressed this question to herself rather than the other two women present in the room.
“I don’t see that there is anything else for you to do but stay and raise a family, Mrs. - Miss Granger,” replied Madame Pomfrey.
Hermione focused her eyes upon the Headmistress, desperation clearly showing in her dark toffee eyes as she clutched the blanket protectively against her chest.
Professor McGonagall, however, shook her head at the silent question.
“I am not in power to help you. Though it hurts me very much to tell you this, the fact remains that you have built your nest and now it is your duty to live in it. You have to understand me, Mrs. Snape, that you do not live in a Muggle World and neither do you live by their laws. A fully consummated marriage lasts a lifetime among us...and sometimes longer.”
The young Gryffindor was too far gone into her thoughts to notice the last comment or the intense look that the Headmistress was giving her.
“I am doomed to live with a man I hate and who hates me in return.”
Hearing those words, the women\'s reactions were quite different. While Madame Pomfrey looked down at Hermione with compassion and pity filling her eyes, Professor McGonagall\'s eyes, on the other hand, remained carefully blank though her lips thinned even more.
“You are still young and thus have no right to talk about things like that,” said Professor. Knowing the truth about the couple, McGonagall had realised that Snape’s actions showed he must have wanted to seal his marriage to Hermione, even though he was unaware they were soul mates himself. “Perhaps the future will teach you how to justify people\'s actions correctly.”
Hermione had a hard time believing in her words. As far as she was concerned, she had a bleak future stretching before her, if there actually was one.
“For the time being, however,” continued the elderly witch, “you are going to return to school and face the consequences. It is entirely your choice whom you chose to tell about your pregnancy and I myself will not speak about this matter without your consent. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to remind you that in barely two months your situation will be rather...visible to everyone in Hogwarts.”
Hermione nodded absently and stood up from the bed. It took her longer than usual to dress, for she still felt a bit dizzy. Some considerable time later, she found herself standing beside the bed, with her wand now safely tucked in her sleeve.
“Now, you will please make your way to the Great Hall where I am sure breakfast is already being served,” commanded McGonagall in a slightly softer voice but with a note that said it was not wise to argue with her.
“I will be seeing you later then, Professor,” murmured Hermione and she made her way towards the exit.
But before she stepped over the threshold, Madame Pomfrey halted her by putting her plump hand upon Hermione\'s shoulder.
“Considering your circumstances, I think it would be wise for you to come back to see me this evening. Here we can freely discuss the adjustments that you will need to make in your life as well as how to deal with pregnancy. Nothing serious, Miss Granger. Just a chit-chat with an old witch who has experienced pregnancy three times,” stated the matron, her lips accommodating the first smile since Hermione came to the Infirmary yesterday evening.
“Thank you. I will.”
Without once looking back at the two witches, Hermione tried to keep her head high as she departed the Hospital Wing. Only when she disappeared behind the corner of the deserted corridor did the tears start to pool in her eyes. Holding them back as strongly as she could, Hermione wondered what she had done to deserve everything that had fallen upon her.
A sinking feeling in her gut, however, told her that this was just the beginning.
When Hermione at last reached the Great Hall, most of the school body was already in the middle of their breakfast. She did not look around, but instead focused all of her attention on the Gryffindor table. For a moment she was taken by surprise to see Harry sitting placidly at the table, with Ginny trying to feed him a spoonful of porridge. Madame Pomfrey must have released him this morning, she thought.
Frustration mounting with every step, Hermione knew that if she didn’t tell someone about her problem soon, she would end up shouting it to the whole Hall. At least that would get rid of one problem and she wouldn’t need to worry about when the entire school knew what was happening to her.
Noticing her approach, Ron grinned and elbowed Harry’s side. The dark haired boy in turn swallowed the forced porridge and produced a somewhat nervous smile as he watched his other best friend coming to a halt beside him.
“Hermione! Long time no see,” he said, without meeting her eyes.
“Yeah. Well, how do you feel?” she asked briskly.
If Harry noticed something unusual in her manner of speaking, he did not show it.
“Nothing to worry about. It’s just my head is still-”
“Wonderful! Now, if you will excuse me, could I borrow Ginny here for a minute or two?”
Without waiting for a reply, Hermione grabbed the young witch’s arm and pulled her up from the table. Ginny blinked in confusion at her but Hermione did not give her time to recover.
“I’ll see you sometime in class today, then. Bye!” And with that exclamation Hermione rotated on the spot, dragging Ginny in her wake towards the doors.
For the umpteenth time this term, the two boys were again abandoned and now held expressions of permanent bewilderment upon their faces.
Harry spoke for both of them.
“I have a VERY bad feeling about this.”
Passing the classrooms in a flying pace, Hermione was already half unsure about her decision to reveal her secret to Ginny. However, the redheaded witch was the closest girl friend from all of her acquaintance in Hogwarts (the mere idea of sharing THIS piece of news with Parvati made her shudder). Stilling her will, Hermione finally found the broom cupboard she wanted and nudged the other witch inside before entering it herself.
Just as the door clicked shut, the previously silent Ginny finally exploded.
“What in the name of Merlin are you doing?!” she hissed.
The inside of the cupboard was pitch black but before Hermione could do anything about it she heard Ginny’s whispered, “Lumos”. The light from the wand filled the sparse space where they stood, as well as revealed the anger in Ginny’s eyes.
“Harry was finally starting to give in and was ready to spill what really happened to him yesterday, but you chose to come barging in right then!”
“Ginny, listen, I am sorry about -”
“And you should be! Do you know how long it will take me to coax everything out of him now? Considering Harry’s stubbornness, I should be transferred into Slytherin as soon as I manage to manipulate him into opening this mouth again about it!” exclaimed a rather frustrated Ginny.
“Ginny, I completely understand you, but you have to -”
“Just ONCE why can’t I be the person he wants to tell everything?”
But the young Weasley did not seem to hear her at all.
“And what should I think now? The second I try to relieve Harry from some of the burdens he carries on his shoulders, you, without any explanation whatsoever, forcefully drag me away from my breakfast, pull me around corridors, then throw me into some broom cupboard for Hades only knows wh-”
“I AM PREGNANT!”
The silence that followed these words was deafening. A few moments later, Ginny\'s gaping mouth closed with a snap. Hermione was panting anxiously as she looked at the stricken expression of the other witch.
With an ear-piercing squeak, Ginny suddenly threw her arms around Hermione\'s neck.
“Oh, Hermione! Congratulations! I am so happy for you!”
Hermione could do nothing but stand immobile in the suffocating hug in complete shock. Ginny was still making some happy noises when she finally gathered enough wits to detach herself from the embrace.
“Are you crazy?” enquired Hermione, looking closely into her friend\'s face.
“No. What\'s wrong?” she asked, finally noting the lack of happiness upon Hermione\'s face.
The curly haired witch forcefully pointed towards her stomach.
“THAT is what is wrong. I am pregnant, Ginny. Understand? I am fucking pregnant and I have no idea what you are so excited about!”
The look that the redhead gave her clearly indicated that she thought her mad.
“Why?! You have been blessed with a child, Hermione. That is not something you could consider as an every-day happening.”
“Blessed?” repeated Hermione disbelievingly. “It looks more like a curse to me! It is Professor Snape\'s child I have conceived, in case you’ve forgotten.”
An odd, irritated look began creeping into Ginny\'s eyes the longer she listened to Hermione\'s words.
“Don\'t you think it’s time to call him by his given name already? He may well be your professor but he is your husband as well. And the soon-to-be father of your child.”
Hermione felt totally shattered. Searching for compassion in the eyes of her friends, she yet again found judgment. Unable to comprehend why everybody seemed to have teamed up against her, she looked at the floor. Nevertheless, Ginny detected the flash of confusion in the brown eyes and with a sigh gingerly wrapped her arms around the older witch\'s shoulders.
“Maybe I’m not the right person to explain this to you, but I want you to know that right now you should consider yourself a very lucky witch. In the last few years there has been a decrease in the number of magical children being born because more and more witches are having problems conceiving children. My family, in fact, is considered very unusual because so many children are born among us. The fact that you have been able to get pregnant on the first time, Hermione, could almost be called a miracle. Just remember this; children are really precious in the wizarding world and should be thought of likewise.”
With a light squeeze, Ginny let her hands fall from Hermione. Her eyes instantly met with tear-filled brown ones in front of her.
“I know,” murmured Hermione. “I just feel so stupid not knowing what will become of me and...my baby.”
Ginny could not suppress a smile as she watched warmth flooding back into the witch\'s eyes in front of her as she unconsciously placed her palm upon her still flat stomach.
“You are right. I will have to behave more responsibly from now on, instead of fretting around like a child. And...I am sorry about -”
“It\'s ok, really. I should be apologizing for the famous Weasley temper that I showed so well earlier,” interrupted Ginny with a small smile. “I guess in his own way, Harry is a child himself who needs to be constantly looked after and sometimes it just takes a lot out of me.”
“Well, come on,” continued Ginny, “we should be getting ourselves to the Great Hall before half of the food on the Gryffindor table disappears as one of us now has to eat for two people!”
It took a few moments for the implication to register in Hermione\'s brain and when it did Ginny had to duck the playful slap aimed at her shoulder.
“Oh, Merlin! Give it a few weeks and I will finally start feeling like a model in your presence!” exclaimed Ginny and with a squeak she dashed out of the cupboard, closely followed by Hermione.
Later on, as the two of them devoured their food at the Gryffindor table, Hermione felt the happiest she had been for the past month. With her practical brain finally succumbing to the inevitable reality, she actually found herself getting more excited by the minute at the prospect of motherhood. Even though she still felt too young to be a mother, she could not resist the maternal instinct rising within her.
Subconsciously laying her hand onto her stomach, Hermione gave a silent promise to herself and her yet unborn child;
No matter what happens in the future, she will protect her child till the end. Neither her husband nor the Dark Lord himself will be able to take away from her the someone who she has already started to love.
Sweet Surrender by witch