"You know… this is… probably… some sort… of breach… of professional ethics," Hermione said, her breath hitching between the words, and rising significantly on the final syllable.
Draco looked up at her from his vantage point between her thighs. His thumbs traced lazy circles on the sensitive flesh of her inner legs. "Do you want me to stop?"
Hermione didn't even consider the possibility. "Absolutely not. Just making a note, for future reference, that I was aware."
Her hand threaded through Draco's silvery hair, which was already considerably mussed, and urged him back to his task. With a grin, Draco bent to his ministrations once more, his tongue darting forward to tease at her again, licking and suckling at Hermione until her head tipped back and she let out a sharp cry of release.
"Thank goodness for silencing charms, eh?" he murmured, as he rose up to claim her mouth. Hermione's mouth fell open under his, eagerly tasting her own musk on his lips.
Hermione hadn't expected Draco to be quite so sexy, if she was being honest. In front of the Wizengamot, Draco was buttoned up and the picture of all things proper. As was she. But this side of him, greased along by the open bar at the Ministry holiday party, was a most pleasant surprise.
It was possible the eggnog was getting to her, as well. Or possibly it was just several years of tension building as they faced off, again and again, on cases, taking turns winning and losing. Maybe a bit more winning on her part… In any event. Something had cracked wide between them tonight, which was why she'd found herself away from the party, sitting on her desk in the Public Prosecutions office, her knickers a solid two feet across the room, draped inelegantly over a potted plant. As it turned out, Draco was an excellent kisser, and even better at getting her off with his mouth. Hermione's insatiable curiosity had her impatient to discover what else he was good at.
Her hands fumbled at his belt, clumsily unfastening his trousers and unzipping his fly. It was only difficult because his fingers were slipping inside of her, and she was already so aroused and so turned on that she was already teetering on the precipice of orgasm once more. She managed to free Draco from his boxer briefs, pleased to discover that his cock was rock hard and weighty in her hand; she wrapped her hand around him, her thumb gliding over the silky skin.
Draco groaned and pulled his fingers from her, knocking her hand out of the way so he could drive forward, thrusting into her all at once. Hermione hissed as she felt him, skin to skin, seated deep within her.
"Yes, yes, please," she said. It was all she could manage.
Two Months Later
A knock at the door echoed inside of her skull. She suppressed a snarl, and called out, "Come in."
"Discovery for you," said a voice, posh and clipped. Hermione looked up from the file she was poring over.
Draco Malfoy. She tilted her head to look at him, surprised. "You could have messengered that over. It's not pressing. Gerhardt Bulstrode's hearing isn't for another…" She looked back down, running her finger along her desk calendar. "Three and a half weeks. I've actually got a non-Dark-Arts-related case coming up first."
She offered a wry smile. They were always on opposite sides of these cases. The Ministry was still being very hard on anyone caught with Dark artifacts, and it was slow going through the rolls of the so-called Sacred Twenty Eight and their very extended families. It kept Hermione busy, though. She prosecuted them. Draco defended them. They were comfortable with one another in the way that prosecutors and barristers for the defense who often found themselves in the same courtroom tended to be.
Not lately, though, Hermione thought. Not since the Ministry do. Drunken one offs tended to make things a bit awkward. Which might be why Draco was there in person, she supposed.
"I hadn't seen you since…" Since he'd shagged her brains out in this very office. He was too polite to say so, however. He cleared his throat instead. "Anyway. I'm having lunch with Pansy, and was meeting her here. No reason not to bring all this by while I was in the building." He paused again. "You could join us, if you like?"
Pansy Parkinson worked in the Ministry's Department of Public Relations, two floors down. Hermione's relationship had not improved with her since Hogwarts, which Draco knew well enough. She appreciated the gesture, but knew he expected her to decline.
"Thank you, but I'm swamped. Besides, your clients wouldn't much like it."
Draco's clients tended to take any signs of cordiality between him and Hermione as proof positive that he was in the Ministry's pocket. On cue, he accepted her refusal with a sharp dip of his chin.
"True enough." He looked around her office, which could most kindly described as controlled chaos. "Where shall I put this?"
He lifted the box he held slightly, the pile of parchment stacked neatly inside shifting a bit.
Hermione stood, tapping her finger on her chin as she surveyed her workspace. "There, perhaps?" She gestured toward a spot on top of a filing cabinet, coming around her desk to make sure the space was actually clear. It was. She tapped it with her wand, and murmured, "Bulstrode, G."
Draco lifted a brow, acknowledging her chaos was, in fact, controlled, and reached around her, sliding the box into place. As he did so, he brushed close, and she caught a whiff of his cologne. It was a nice smell, filling her nostrils with the scent of leather and vanilla. She inhaled deeply, then felt her stomach flip.
She retched all over his very fine Italian shoes.
"God, Granger, that's disgusting!"
Hermione turned her head, wiping at her mouth, filled with horror at the sight of Pansy Parkinson, framed fetchingly by her doorway.
"Draco, I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I'm not feeling well today, but this bloody case…"
Draco shook his head, looking as horrified as Hermione felt. He was so very fastidious, she thought mournfully.
"It's fine," he said, looking decidedly green about the gills.
She quickly cast Scourgify.
"Oh, lovely, now you've ruined his shoes, too," Pansy spat disdainfully.
Ginny was persistent. Hermione had to give her points for that, though the repeated knocking was doing her head in. They'd had dinner plans that night, a much needed girls' night out. Hermione had insisted on stopping back at her flat first, though. Just one quick thing she needed to do. Ginny had sighed but agreed. But now Hermione had been in the loo for twenty minutes, and apparently Ginny'd had enough.
Wordlessly, Hermione flicked her wand toward the door, letting it fall open a crack. Ginny rushed in, concern etched on her face as the impatient frown fell away.
"Hermione? What on earth…?" Ginny's eyes flicked to where Hermione sat on the floor, clutching at a phial of swirling purple liquid. Her eyes grew wide. "Is that…?"
Miserably, Hermione nodded. "It is."
"It could be a false positive," Ginny said, trying to sound uplifting.
"It's not," Hermione said. "That's the third one." She gestured to the rubbish bin, where two other similar phials sat atop the wicker basket.
Ginny nudged Hermione to move over and sat down on the floor next to her. Giving Hermione's hand a squeeze, she asked simply, "How long?"
"Two months. I haven't been with anyone since the Ministry Christmas party." Hermione lay her head against her friend's shoulder.
"You were with someone at the Ministry party?" Hermione couldn't see Ginny's eyebrows from her angle, but she knew they were probably somewhere near her hairline.
Hermione nodded. "And how."
"Who was it?" Hermione could hear the incredulity in Ginny's voice. Hermione was not known for being sexually impulsive, nor for even dating much, or at all. She'd been with Ron for several years straight out of Hogwarts, and when that had ended, she'd thrown herself full force into her career. Which, in a roundabout way, was at the root of her current predicament.
"You have to promise not to tell your brother. Or your husband."
Being knocked up was bad enough. The world might spin off its axis if Ron and Harry found out that she'd been knocked up by Draco Malfoy.
"They're going to find out eventually, if you go through with it," Ginny said, her voice abnormally gentle.
Hermione sighed, and then looked up to see how wide Ginny's mouth would fall open when she told her who had done the deed.
"It was only the one time!" she began, a note of hysteria creeping in
Ginny's words kept echoing in Hermione's mind, rattling around, bouncing off of her brain and into her consciousness at odd moments.
If you go through with it.
Hermione knew, deep down, that she would. It was a terrifying prospect, especially the thought of doing it on her own, but in the three days since her world had turned upside down, she'd already gotten attached to the idea of the little invader inside of her body. Even if it was half Malfoy, even if her best mates might be completely horrified. She'd always imagined herself as a mother, someday. Some far off day, admittedly, when she was married to someone she loved and well-established in her career, but if wishes were horses, and all that. She had the career part, and she knew she was remarkably self sufficient. If she could survive double courses in her third year of school, if she could survive the better part of a year traipsing about a forest in search of horcruxes, if she could survive basilisks and dragons and giants and Death Eaters… she could handle this.
Scarier than being being pregnant, birthing an actual human being, and raising it on her own, however, was knowing she had to tell Draco.
She'd toyed with the idea of just keeping it to herself, somehow. Maybe just being very mysterious about the baby's origin, refusing to name names, that sort of thing. But it wouldn't be fair to him. She didn't expect anything from him, but he had a right to know, at least.
Firmly resolved in her mind, Hermione turned the knob and marched herself into his office. It was in a very nice, appropriately somber but well-appointed building, hidden between two townhouses in the posh part of the city. A grandmotherly looking witch sat behind a reception desk, in an entry room lined with nice leather chairs. She smiled warmly at Hermione when she walked in.
"Hullo, Miss Granger," the receptionist said, looking down to run her finger over the diary on the desk. "I don't have you down for a meeting today."
"Hi, Adele. No, I don't have an appointment. Just in the area and thought I'd pop in and, ah, check on something. Is Mr Malfoy with a client?"
"No, not just now," Adele said, smiling again at Hermione. "He's getting some work done. I'll see if he can be interrupted, shall I?"
Adele stood and knocked on the door just behind and to the left of her desk before pushing it open. Hermione couldn't hear the muffled response, but the older woman turned back to her and nodded, ushering her into Draco's private office.
Draco's office was the opposite of Hermione's organized clutter. Everything was neat, tidy as could be, all towering bookshelves and cabinets. He did indeed have a file laid out before him, and some parchment. She could see he was writing a motion of some sort.
"Motion to dismiss? On Bulstrode?" She was distracted from her mission by her indignance. She had a very strong case on that one!
"Oi, Hermione. Professional privilege, if you please." Draco flipped the parchment over, giving her a stern look.
"Oh, pish posh," she said scornfully. "I'll see it eventually anyway."
"True, but it's not done yet."
"There's no way the magistrate is going to grant that-"
"Hermione." Draco lifted his hand, cutting off her argument. "You didn't come to see me about Bulstrode, did you, judging by the surprise on your face. So what is it?"
Abruptly, Hermione was reminded why she was there. Her passion for justice temporarily receded.
"Right. I wanted to speak to you about a… private matter. Would you like to get some coffee with me?"
Hermione's hope was that if she told Draco in public, it would stave off any sort of dramatic reaction. Draco was, these days, very aware of his behavior in public. Always very proper, always impeccably well mannered. He did his very best to make everyone forget the teenager he'd been. Hermione forgot, herself, most of the time. She'd certainly forgotten during the Ministry Christmas party.
"Alright," Draco said now, looking at her quizzically. Then he smirked. "Let me just file this."
He sent the parchment from his desk to one of the filing cabinets, where it tucked itself neatly away. Then he stepped around her, holding the door open for her.
Once they were at the nearest coffee shop (a Muggle establishment, Hermione noted with some surprise), steaming coffees in front of them, Hermione found Draco staring at her expectantly. She bit her lip, then stiffened her spine, forcing herself to look directly into his steely grey eyes.
"So, you remember earlier this week, I wasn't feeling well?"
He looked down at his shoes and grimaced. "I could hardly forget."
"Yes, well," Hermione continued, her cheeks heating slightly. "There was a good reason for that."
Draco stared at her patiently, waiting for her to get to the point, and sipped his espresso.
"I suppose I'll just cut right to the chase." She wrapped her hands around her decaf latte, enjoying the warmth emanating through the ceramic of the mug. "I'm pregnant."
Draco looked surprised, though not as shocked as she might have anticipated. "Wow. Really? You're not leaving work any time soon, though, are you?"
"What? No. Not for a good while, I guess." Hermione frowned, bemused. What an odd response.
"Oh. I figured that's why you were telling me. New opposing counsel and all that. Well. I'm glad you're sticking around." Now Draco looked bemused. "So who's the proud papa? I'll send my felicitations."
"Draco!" Hermione's voice went sharp, and she had a sudden fear that she would be the one making a scene. "You are the 'proud papa'. You are."
Draco's hand froze, his espresso lifted halfway to his mouth. Very carefully, he set the cup back down. And to his credit, he did not yell or make a scene. No, he just sort of slumped to the floor of the coffee shop, in a dead faint.
"Our appointment was fifteen minutes ago," Draco hissed, tilting his wristwatch toward her pointedly.
"I'm aware." Hermione shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She had to pee again, but she was afraid the moment she stood up to go to the loo, they'd call for her. "Are you in a hurry?"
"No," he said petulantly. "I just hate being made to wait. What's the point of having an appointment if they're not going to honor it?"
"They're busy," Hermione said, her voice weary. They'd had this conversation at their previous two appointments. Draco was nothing if not consistent.
After he'd gotten over the initial shock, he'd been steadfast, she had to admit. He'd said he'd come to every prenatal appointment she had, if he was able. He'd promised to provide his share for the child. He'd even already gone to work drawing up childcare schedules and custody arrangements, but Hermione couldn't look at them yet. It was enough that he seemed to want to participate. She'd deal with who got to spend Christmas with the baby after it arrived. She had her hands plenty full dealing with all the odd things her body was doing, like demanding orange slices at 3 AM and then ejecting them as soon as she woke up. It was strange going through pregnancy like it was a business partnership, but it was working for them. So far, anyway.
He did hate the waiting room of the St Mungo's obstetrics department, though. She couldn't really blame him, and it was only the waiting room that brought out this grumpy side of him. Otherwise he'd been lovely, more than she'd dared to hope he'd be.
Hermione decided to distract him. "Have you talked to your parents?"
He'd wanted to make sure any chance of her miscarrying had passed before he'd dropped such explosive news on his lineage obsessed, traditional parents. They had just inched into the second trimester, so the danger had passed, and Hermione was morbidly curious about how they'd respond to the idea that their precious son was procreating with a Muggleborn Gryffindor who was one of Harry Potter's closest friends, and who, by the way, had also been responsible for convicting a swath of their friends and acquaintances of Dark Wizardry.
Draco cut his eyes toward her, lifting one of his pale, elegant brows. Hermione hoped the baby would have those eyebrows. They were so very good at expressing exactly what Draco was feeling. Right now, for example, he knew exactly what she was up to, but was glad for the distraction, so he was going to answer her question. Sure enough, a wry grin accompanied the arched brow.
"I did, indeed."
Hermione wriggled again in her seat. Stupid bladder. "And how did that go?"
"Oh, they were appalled," Draco said, his voice dry. "But I don't think they know what exactly they find appalling- the fact that I'm having a child out of wedlock, the fact that I'm having a child with a Muggleborn witch, or the fact that I'm having a child with a prosecutor. So while they work out which reason to disown me, I'm going to leave them to it and go about my business. Our business."
He grinned at Hermione, reaching out to lightly touch her stomach, which had finally begun to round a little bit. She looked up, locking eyes with him, feeling unaccountably shy. How could she be shy with someone when his child was inside of her, happily mucking about with her bladder, her stomach, and her mood?
"Granger? Hermione Granger?"
Hermione wasn't sure what she would have said to him just then, so it was probably for the best that the nurse was finally calling them back for her exam.
"Finally!" Draco gave her stomach a gentle pat before he stood.
Inside the examination room, Hermione studiously did not look at him while the healer moved her wand above Hermione's abdomen in a circular motion. Instead, she scrutinized the healer's face, watching like a hawk for any sign of concern. The witch's face remained placid, however. Good.
"Everything looks magnificent," the healer announced. "Would you like to hear the heartbeat?"
"Yes," Hermione and Draco said at the same time, and Hermione felt her cheeks heat for no reason that she could ascertain.
The healer smiled. She had no reason to know that they were not typical parents. The healer spoke the sound magnifying spell, and suddenly a rapid thump-woosh sound filled the small room.
"Oh." Hermione's breath rushed out in a sigh. The sound never ceased to amaze her, that second beating heart inside of her.
In spite of herself, she looked back at Draco. His face was rapt, his expression soft and his eyes bright. Embarrassed, Hermione looked quickly away. She felt like she'd intruded on something private.
The healer ended the spell, and the room fell quiet again. Hermione pulled her shirt back down to cover her belly.
"Thank you." Draco's voice was suspiciously husky.
Outside of St Mungo's, Hermione was turning to move toward the floo portals- no more Apparation for her, now that splinching could have horrific consequences- when Draco stopped her with light touch on her arm.
"What is it, Draco?" Hermione was impatient to get back to work, to get away from this bizarre interlude and to get back to her normal routine.
"I was wondering…" He sounded hesitant. "I wondered if you'd like to get dinner with me tonight?"
"Tonight?" Hermione's mouth twisted. "I can't. I'm seeing Harry and Ron tonight. Now that I'm showing, I can't put off telling them any longer."
"Ah." Draco stood still a moment, then recouped. "Well. Another night? I just thought, we're having a baby together. Perhaps we should go on a date? Or, maybe, if you need moral support after your dinner with those two… I could come over."
Hermione froze. A date? Or even, worse, the mental picture that filled her head with Draco's final suggestion, of her curled up in his arms, pouring her heart out to him after Harry and Ron's inevitable reactions to her news (Ron would leave in disgust, Harry would remain awkwardly, the spectre of Ginny's ire hanging over him if he did anything to make Hermione cry). Oh no. No, no, no.
"Oh, Draco. I don't... " She bit her lip, shaking her head. "This is a strange enough situation, but I think we're doing well, don't you? I don't want to confuse things. Let's just… keep on as we have been, alright?"
Draco drew back, his posture going very stiff and upright. "Of course. You're right." His face shuttered. "I've got your next appointment on my calendar. But I'll see you at the Wizengamot before that, won't I?"
Hermione swallowed. She wanted to take what she'd said back. It was too late. "Yes. Ruling on Bulstrode. I'd say drinks after, but…" She gestured at her midriff, trying to lighten the mood again.
It didn't work. Draco nodded curtly, turned on his heel, and left.
He was still allowed to Apparate.
His lips blazed a trail from her mouth to her toes and back up again.
His body rocked into hers with the force of waves crashing against the shore during a storm.
He murmured things to her she couldn't quite catch, but they made her skin catch fire and her heart pound.
It was oh please, oh yes, oh gods, until everything exploded.
Hermione sat upright in her bed, gasping for air. She was disoriented for a moment, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the darkness of her bedroom, where she was, of course, alone. The clock blinked, red and stark on her night table. 4:42 AM.
Her bladder screamed at her insistently.
Hermione looked down at her belly, sliding her hands to cup the taut, rounded mound. "You, sir or madam, are an arsehole."
A flurry of movement inside of her, like a butterfly rapidly beating its wings, answered.
"Hmmpphh," Hermione grunted, swinging her legs away from the comforting warmth of the pile of blankets on her bed so she could pad to the bathroom and answer nature's call. "Those were really inappropriate dreams for you to be giving me about your father, you know."
She'd taken to talking to the little invader whenever she was alone. Hermione had no flatmate, preferring having a place to herself after the chaos of Hogwarts and several years living with Ron, so she was able to do it pretty often. Lately, she'd been getting those little butterfly responses to the sound of her voice, which was thrilling and terrifying at the same time. There really was someone in there.
Hermione decided there was no point in going back to sleep- she'd just have to be up in an hour to get ready for work- and put a pot of coffee on to brew. She was allowed one cup a day, according to the midwife at St. Mungo's. She'd have to make it count.
Despite the egregious lack of caffeine and the appallingly early start to the day, by the time Hermione arrived at the Ministry for Magic, she was ready to get cracking. Which was a good thing, because despite her early arrival, her supervisor, Heathcliff Davies, had left a patronus message awaiting her in her office.
See me as soon as you get in, his no-nonsense voice commanded, via his peregrine falcon patronus.
With a sigh, Hermione set her bag down, picked up a legal pad and a quill, and headed down the hall.
"Granger! You're in bright and early." His tone was approving. Though Hermione had never beat Davies to the office, she'd come close a few times. She had to at least appreciate that the Director of Public Prosecutions worked just as hard as his junior associates.
"Yes, sir. I got an earlier than usual start to my day."
Davies cast a brief glance toward Hermione's expanded middle, and coughed. "Yes, just so. In any event, big news. Augustus Rookwood was captured by the Slovenian authorities. He's being extradited to England as we speak. Do you want a crack at him?"
Hermione drew in a sharp breath. Rookwood was the only remaining prominent Death Eater who was still unaccounted for. Aberforth Dumbledore had stunned him during the Battle of Hogwarts, but Rookwood had disappeared in the aftermath before the Ministry could take him into custody. The case would be pretty open and shut, though some known Death Eaters had slipped through the cracks, largely through the superb defense efforts of one Draco Malfoy. It would be a good case, however, for Hermione to put her stamp on.
"Yes, of course!" A thought crossed her mind. "Has he retained an attorney yet?"
"Immediately," Davies said with a chuckle. "Draco Malfoy, surprise, surprise."
Hermione's face fell. "Oh, I… I think there might be a conflict of interest."
Unbidden, her hand rose to rest on her belly. Davies narrowed his eyes, then looked back up at her.
"Is this an… official… conflict of interest?"
Hermione bit her lip. She and Draco had kept things very hush hush. Only their immediate friends and family, and the midwife at St Mungo's, were aware. Of course, anyone could have seen them in the waiting room together. But by some miracle the papers hadn't picked up the story yet (Hermione suspected Draco had paid someone off).
"Not as such," she said slowly.
"Well, then. Do you think you're capable of remaining objective and prosecuting Rookwood to the fullest of your abilities?"
"Yes, of course!" Father of her baby or not, Hermione had never gone easy on Draco in open court, and she wasn't about to now.
"Then I don't see a problem. I want my best prosecutor on this, and that is you, Granger." Davies turned away, flipping open a file on his desk. Hermione knew that meant that, in her supervisor's mind, the matter was settled. "I'll have Rookwood's file sent over to you straight away."
"Thank you, sir."
Back in her own office, where the file had materialized moments after her return, Hermione drummed her fingers against her desk. Should she tell Draco? She decided against it. They hadn't left things on very good terms the last time they'd seen one another, and he'd find out as soon as she filed her appearance with the court, in any event. After the dream she'd had, the thought of speaking with him made her feel flushed and awkward. Better to place the ball in his court. She wondered if he'd try to have her removed from the case. Somehow, she thought not.
Hermione instinctively leaned back, flinching as the parchment exploded into flames and burnt itself to ash. Oh, he must have been very angry indeed. In hindsight, Hermione supposed she should have expected Draco to be put out about her taking the Rookwood case, but a Howler seemed a bit excessively dramatic, even for Draco Malfoy. Hermione was glad she'd come home straightaway after work, because Draco's snowy white owl had found her shortly after she'd walked in the door, dropping the red envelope on her head and soaring away before Hermione could even give her a treat for her delivery.
Apparently the sound of its father shouting up a storm had excited the baby, because it gave her a decisive thump. The baby was now the size of an aubergine, or so she had been informed by Molly Weasley at a cookout Harry and Ginny had thrown a few days prior, and it was happy to make its presence felt very often of late. Most often when she was trying to sleep or focus on work. Hermione thought that it might be nice to stop thinking of the baby as an it, even if it did tend to be awake when she wanted to go to sleep. She had put off knowing whether she was having a boy or a girl, though the midwife at St. Mungo's had told her they would be able to tell over a month ago, deciding she wanted a surprise. Draco had wanted to know.
"How else will we know what to buy?" he'd demanded.
Hermione had shrugged. "A nappy is a nappy, and we can get neutral clothes."
Draco had been less than satisfied by that answer. Now it looked like he would force the issue, and between a giant case falling in her lap, and being six months pregnant, on top of it being one of the hottest Julys on record, Hermione didn't have the energy to argue.
She could barely muster the energy it took to wonder if he'd been considering asking her out again, despite how awkwardly it had gone last time. Why yell about it if he hadn't been thinking about it? Hermione didn't know if she still would have said no. The dreams she'd been having about him were driving her barmy. No one had prepared her for the fact that pregnancy made a woman so randy. It didn't matter now, though- Draco was right about that. The department of public prosecutions could not risk anything that might jeopardize the Rookwood case. The issue of the pair of them dating was a moot one now.
A few days later, at her next prenatal appointment, Hermione still didn't have the wherewithal to face another argument with Draco. When the midwife Healer asked if they wanted to know, Draco gave Hermione a very pointed, stony look, and Hermione threw up her hands. "Fine. I call uncle. Find out."
The midwife looked at Hermione questioningly. The poor woman had been party to this argument twice already. Hermione nodded tiredly.
"Yes, it's really fine. It's important to him."
Draco turned his head before Hermione could decipher his expression.
The Healer murmured a spell, passing her wand back and forth over Hermione's abdomen. After a few moments, a warm pink light began to suffuse the rounded part of her torso.
Unable to to read Draco's tone, Hermione twisted her head around to look at him.
"Yes," said the midwife. "You two will have a daughter."
Draco's smile was just about the most brilliant thing Hermione had ever seen.
"So now we know." Hermione sat up, tugging her shirt down to cover the exposed skin. "Are there any other tests we need to do today?"
The Healer shook her head. "All set for today."
"Wonderful," Hermione said. She smiled, though she knew it was nowhere near brilliant. "I've got a deposition in fifteen minutes."
Draco stared at her in disbelief. "Seriously, Granger? That's it? Just, terrific, we're having a daughter, think I'll shove off now?"
Hermione swallowed. Her chest felt both very tight and remarkably fragile. "You're the one who wanted to know. Now you can go buy whatever it is you wanted to buy."
She stood, fussing her clothes back into a semblance of professionality.
"I'll just duck out now," said the Healer quietly, making her escape. Hermione's cheeks heated.
"Unbelievable," Draco muttered. "I mean, I knew the job came first, obviously." There was a certain amount of venom in that observation. "But I thought news like this would have a little more impact."
"What do you want me to say, Draco? What do you want me to do? It's not like we can go out and celebrate. You're about to put on a cap and dark glasses so people don't know we're having this daughter together." Hermione furiously jammed her feet into her shoes.
"And whose fault is that?" Draco spat.
"Oh, please. Like you're eager to let world know you're having a baby with me, to tell Pansy Parkinson and Theodore Nott and all those other pureblood idiots about it. I did you a favor." Hermione snatched up her bag, moving toward the door.
"I guess you've spared yourself having to find out, haven't you?" Draco's voice was deadly calm, now. Downright icy. "Those 'pureblood idiots' are my best friends, you know. I've already told them."
Draco pushed past her. "Enjoy your deposition, though. Better hurry. Don't want to be late."
Hermione sank back against the examination table as Draco disappeared from view. She knew she'd just botched things rather badly.
"Thank you, your honor."
Hermione heaved herself out of her seat with no small amount of difficulty. If she'd felt big at six months, it was nothing compared to now. She'd waddled into the Wizengamot looking like she was smuggling a football in with her. They'd cut things awfully close, but after all the dramatics around it, Hermione had not been about to miss Rookwood's trial.
Draco had done very well, though Hermione was loathe to admit it. For what should have been a very simple open and shut matter - Hermione had half expected some sort of guilty plea in exchange for a reduction in the sentence- Draco had done his damage on cross-examination, and he'd actually allowed Rookwood to testify, something accused Death Eaters rarely did. He'd made Rookwood seem sympathetic, however, on direct examination.
Hermione was not going to allow that to go unchallenged.
She rested her hand on her belly, willing the baby to stay calm for just a few more hours. At least the baby wasn't trying to climb Hermione's ribcage today, or to climb out through her mother's navel, which seemed to be her favorite pastimes lately. Today Hermione was just a bit achy in her back. The Healer had assured her that was normal as the baby shifted into position for birth.
"Mr. Rookwood, you just testified that you spied for the Death Eaters because your mother was threatened, yes?"
"Yes." Rookwood arranged his heavy features into something approaching sorrowful.
"That was during the First War, is that right?"
"Mmhmm." Hermione walked a bit closer. Normally she wasn't much of a pacer when she was questioning a witness, but today she was feeling a bit restless. Probably something to do with the enormous pressure she was feeling on her hip bones. She could feel Draco watching her like a hawk as she moved. "And when Azkaban was compromised in 1996, you fled the prison, didn't you?"
"I did." Rookwood leaned forward. "But that prison is a terrible place, madam. Anyone would leave if they had the chance."
Hermione held up a hand. She didn't want to come off as though she was worried about what he would say, but she wanted to limit Rookwood to yes or no answers as much as she could.
"Oh, we understand, Mr. Rookwood. I've seen the Dementors first hand." She smiled, as if having the wretched things around at school had been a bit of a lark. She looked at the jury, and caught one of them grinning quickly before looking down. Good. They understood what she was getting at. "But after your escape from Azkaban-"
An intense cramp rippled through her. It felt a bit like her spine was trying to liberate itself from her body.
Oh, no. Not now. Hermione pressed her lips grimly together, gripping the edge of the prosecution's table, riding out the cramp. Draco looked at her, alarmed, and Hermione shot him a deadly glance.
"Madam prosecutor, are you alright?" Draco said. Hermione detected a note of panic underneath his calm, crisp query.
"I'm fine. Just nine months pregnant, counsel. This is normal." She caught her breath, forcing her face out of its pain-induced grimace.
The Chief Warlock looked at her questioningly. Hermione ignored him, addressing Rookwood instead. Rookwood looked like his interest was piqued. Probably hoping for a mistrial.
"Sorry, Mr. Rookwood. As I was saying, after your escape, instead of returning to your family or even leaving the country, you rejoined the Death Eaters, did you not?"
Rookwood tensed up. "Yes, but as I explained, I was very afraid."
"Was your mother still alive in 1996?"
"Objection!" Draco leapt to his feet. "Relevance?"
"Your answer, Ms. Granger?" said the Chief Warlock, who was still looking at her funny.
"I'm, ah-" Another cramp struck, and Hermione forced herself to speak despite the pain ricocheting between her pelvis and lower back. "I'm speaking to the root of his fears."
The Chief Warlock stared at her intently. "I'll allow it." He paused, pursing his lips. "Ms. Granger, would you like to adjourn for the day?"
"No!" Hermione's knuckles were white where she was gripping the edge of the table. "No, thank you. I'd like to finish my cross examination of the witness, please."
"Very well…" The Chief Warlock's tone was doubtful. "Proceed. Answer her question, Mr. Rookwood."
Rookwood glared at her, belying the affable nature he'd been known for when he'd still been an Unspeakable. Hermione cast a surreptitious glance at the jury. They were watching intently. Good.
"No. She passed on while I was in Azkaban."
"But you were still afraid?"
"Yes." It was definitely less emphatic than before.
"Even though your mother was no longer in danger?"
"I - yes. I was." Rookwood tried a remorseful smile out, but Hermione could see the irritation in his eyes.
"You heard the prosecution's witnesses place you on the scene at the Department of Mysteries in 1996?"
"I did." Rookwood looked decidedly grumpy now. It was impossible for him to deny it, with Harry Potter himself testifying for the prosecution.
"And again at the Battle of Hogwarts, following a second stint in Azkaban?"
Hermione was rushing, feeling the onset of another cramp. A contraction. That was what it was, no use pretending otherwise.
"So you rejoined the Death Eaters twice, after your mother was no longer being threatened, and aided them in at least two battles?"
The contraction hit. Hermione couldn't prevent a grunt from escaping, and she leaned hard against the table, her eyes screwed shut. Draco had jumped up again, and she was pretty sure it wasn't to make another objection.
"Should I answer?" she heard Rookwood say.
"Answer it for the record," the Chief Warlock said
Rookwood heaved a sigh. "Yes. But I was still afraid."
Not exactly the perfectly damning answer Hermione had been hoping for, but as she tried to stand upright again to press on, she felt liquid running down her legs and knew her water had broken.
So all she said was, "No further questions."
Draco ran over, grabbing her by the hand and putting a supporting arm around her. "Your honor, the defense moves to adjourn for the day."
The Chief Warlock peered down at them. "Yes, I suppose we better had."
They'd made it to the hospital, but only just. Hermione had been in full labor by the time the Healers had wheeled her down the hall to the delivery room. It had been chaos from the moment of their arrival - a flurry of Healers and the midwife Healer around her, clucking over her unusually fast first birth. Then, the appearance of Ron, Harry, Ginny, and Molly, which had set Hermione to worrying about them and Draco being in the same room, at least until another contraction had thoroughly distracted her. Draco had not left her side. Now the room had finally cleared, and it was just the two of them. Well, three of them.
Cautiously, Draco approached the bed, perching on the edge, reaching out one of his elegant fingers to touch his daughter's cheek.
"She's so wee," he murmured.
"Right?" Hermione said. It was shocking. To think that a human being could be so very delicate.
"She needs a name," Draco said, gently touching the pale down that covered the baby's head.
They'd avoided talking about things like this since the argument three months prior. They'd focused strictly on the health of the baby. But now the baby was a reality, and she did need things. Like a name.
"My mum suggested Walburga, for some beloved auntie of hers," Draco said, his eyes firmly focused on his daughter.
"Draco! I am not doing that to our child," Hermione exclaimed, laughing.
"I should think not. But I'm a bit stumped. The only woman I'm close to is Pansy, and we don't need two of them running around."
He looked at Hermione now, and she could see a twinkle in his slate eyes. She felt a rush of warmth toward him. The many pregnancy books she'd read had warned her this might happen, that in the afterglow of birth, the hormones would make her feel exceedingly fond of her child's father. Well, the books hadn't really been warning against it, she supposed, since it would be normal for most mothers to be fond of the father of their child. But she'd warned herself, after reading about it. In spite of what her head knew, though, her heart had let go of all the resentment and fear she was feeling, replacing those less pleasant feelings with appreciation and trust.
"Definitely not," Hermione agreed, forcing herself to look away from him. "We don't need to decide right this moment."
"I just thought maybe you'd been thinking about it. Maybe had names picked out since you were a little girl, something like that." Draco had moved onto exploring the baby's impossibly small fingers.
"I don't. I was never the kind of girl that fantasized about being a mum."
"No? What did you fantasize about being?" The baby had grabbed Draco's finger. He looked delighted.
"A barrister," Hermione said, laughing again.
"Ah, well. Now you're both." He looked up at her once more. "How do you feel about Lyra? It's a constellation, which is kind of a thing in my family. I know my family is… what it is. But it's a pretty name."
"You have been thinking about it, then." Hermione arched a brow, but there was no heat in the accusation.
"Only nonstop since we found out she was a girl," Draco admitted. His cheeks were flushed, but Hermione didn't intend to give him a hard time. It was sort of sweet. Really sweet. Though maybe that was those damned hormones talking again.
"It is a pretty name." Hermione bit her lip. "Would you mind if her middle name was Monica? After my mum."
"Lyra Monica Malfoy," Draco said, trying it out.
"No?" Draco looked at her, puzzled.
"Lyra Monica Granger. We're not married." Hermione felt it was a fair point.
"Lyra Monica Granger-Malfoy." Draco had that certain gleam in his eye that Hermione recognized all too well after opposing him in the Wizengamot so many times.
"Fair enough." She stuck her free hand out. Draco clasped it with his own free hand, giving her a firm shake.
"My goodness, you two never stop being attorneys, do you?"
Hermione looked up to see a tall Asian man filling the doorway. Her manners failed her, so shocked was she to see Theodore Nott in this particular setting.
"Come in, Theo, meet Lyra. She's brilliant." Draco beamed up at his best mate.
"Hmm." Nott came in, bending to inspect his friend's child.
"It's what we have in common," Hermione blurted, still reeling from how surreal this all was.
"What?" Nott paused in his study of the infant's face.
"Being attorneys," Hermione said.
"Oh," said Nott. He looked from Hermione, to Draco, to Lyra. "Well. Not the only thing, now."
Draco stood on Hermione's doorstep, his arms laden with parcels, and several more floating behind him.
"It's Lyra's first Christmas," he said, as if that explained everything.
"Draco, she's three months old. She's not even going to remember this," Hermione protested, but she stood back and let Draco enter. She knew well enough by now that it would take a force much stronger than her will to prevent Draco from spoiling his daughter rotten. From Hermione's arms, Lyra's eyes tracked her father, and she tried out her smile, which she'd only just begun doing a week or so ago.
"Couldn't you have done all this at the Manor?" Hermione asked, following Draco, who was marching into her sitting room and putting packages under the tree like he owned the place.
"Oh, my parents have got plenty for her there," Draco said, reaching out for the baby now that his arms were free. Hermione handed Lyra over. His parents had certainly gotten over their objections to Lyra's existence, about five minutes after meeting her the first time. Hermione had wondered if there was some truth to the rumors that there were veela in the Malfoy family tree. "But I wanted us to do Christmas as a family."
Hermione tried not to let her mouth hang agape. She and Draco had been getting on much better now that Lyra was born and Hermione wasn't physically uncomfortable at all times any longer. Also that hormone-induced fondness for Draco hadn't abated in the slightest, which Hermione chalked up to the fact that Draco was a doting and devoted father, and was not afraid to change nappies. But this was beyond the comfortable pattern they'd fallen into regarding their shared child.
"Draco, we're not… I mean, I guess we're a family in the technical sense, but-"
Draco slashed the hand that was not supporting Lyra through the air. "I'm not going to pass her back and forth like a Quaffle on Christmas. We're going to bring her round to her grandparents and all that on Christmas Eve. And we will spend Christmas morning just the three of us, before you drag me off to the Weasleys' for whatever appalling cheery and homey Christmas traditions that lot has, and that's an end to it."
"Oh really?" Hermione folded her arms over her chest, but she knew this was a losing battle. Draco had been very accommodating thus far, but she could tell he was not brooking arguments over this. And truth be told, Hermione didn't really want to argue. His plan sounded rather nice.
"Yes, really." He stood, bussing Lyra on the cheek and holding her back out to Hermione. "Now, Daddy's got to run," he said, addressing the baby. He turned to Hermione. "Work beckons. I'll be back tomorrow evening so we can go spend Christmas Eve at the Manor."
Then he left so quickly that arguing was an impossibility, in any case.
Hermione supposed it was a good thing she'd bought him a present.
Christmas Eve at Malfoy Manor was surprisingly pleasant, if very much more formal than Hermione was used to. They ate in an actual dining room, not gathered up in the kitchen with paper plates like Hermione had done with her family growing up, and not in total chaos like the Christmases she'd spent at the Burrow. Draco had not been kidding when he'd said his parents had gone a bit mad with gifts for Lyra, either. Hermione didn't think Lyra would even be able to wear all the adorable dresses Narcissa had picked out while she'd still fit into them
Now, on Christmas morning, Hermione was busily cooking full breakfast, something she rarely did when it was just her. She could hear Draco stirring - Lyra was already awake and happily batting at a play mat- and she figured he'd be hungry. They'd gotten back to her flat late, and Hermione hadn't had the heart to kick Draco out, so he'd spent the night in her guest room.
"Morning," Draco said, padding into the kitchen. His hair was rumpled, the fine blond strands sticking up at the back, and he was wearing her robe. Thankfully Hermione favored Gryffindor red, not pink.
"Happy Christmas," Hermione said. "Breakfast first, or gifts?"
"Coffee," Draco said, yawning, and Hermione grinned as she poured him a cup.
Once Draco had enough caffeine in his system to make a decision, he decided he couldn't wait to see Lyra open her gifts (which really meant Hermione and Draco letting her slap her hands on the boxes, then unwrapping them for her while making excited noises), so Hermione brought the food into the sitting room so they could eat and open at the same time.
Once all of Lyra's packages had been seen to - thankfully Draco had mostly brought books and age-appropriate toys, rather than more clothes to try to cram into the closet - Hermione fished her gift for Draco out from the recesses of the tree. She held it out to him, feeling strangely shy.
Draco jerked his chin up, looking strangely at her. "You shouldn't have."
"Yes, I should have. You've been incredible, despite me being totally horrible to you for most of my pregnancy."
"Surprised you, did I?" Draco grinned ruefully, raking a hand back through his hair, which only made it stick up more. It was endearing. Hermione frowned. "It's alright. I surprised myself, honestly."
Hermione had to admit that she'd never imagined the fastidious and impeccable Draco Malfoy dealing with nappies and spit up with the aplomb he'd shown over the last three months. Then again, she'd never figured him for the wild shag on a desk type either, but here they were, a year later, with an infant to show for it.
"Anyway, I want you to have it. It's nothing exciting." Actually, it was a book on famous Wizengamot defense attorneys, which Hermione did find a bit thrilling, and Draco probably would, too. But she wanted him to take it so she could stop trying to hand it to him like an idiot.
Draco shook his head, and Hermione sighed, exasperated.
"Hermione, the only gift I want from you is your time." Now it was Hermione's turn to jerk her head up, startled. "What I want, after a year of waiting, is a first date with you."
A dizzy sort of warmth suffused Hermione. "Oh yeah? You think a getting a date with me is that easy? What, you just make a baby with me and I'm supposed to fall into your arms?"
She was grinning too broadly to even be convincing.
Draco was smiling, as well, and Hermione realized he was relieved. It made her own smile widen.
"Well, I realize it's a bit backward, but when has either one of us ever been ordinary?"
Hermione scootched closer to him. "Never."
She leaned in, and fit her mouth against his. Draco shifted the baby in his lap, so he could pull Hermione against him.
"Is that a yes?" he said, when he finally lifted his mouth from hers.
Draco smirked. Hermione stretched up to kiss him again. Maybe it wasn't just the hormones.
"You know, Christmas seems to be my lucky day with you," Draco observed, returning the favor. "Don't make me wait another year for a second date."
Hermione just laughed, and hugged her little, by no means ordinary, family tight. Who knew what another year would bring?