A Life Inside
Time was passing rapidly and showed no sign of stopping. Before she knew it, Hermione was waking up on the morning of September 13 to angry pecks and screeches from her window ledge. Several disgruntled owls vied for a spot on the narrow outcropping, tapping their beaks insistently against the thin glass.
Suddenly filled to the brim with a warm, bubbly feeling, Hermione hurried over to the window and undid the latch. Five owls fell at her feet, before righting themselves and preening their ruffled feathers indignantly. Hermione pried the first letter she saw from one of their claws.
Happy birthday! Harry tells me in the Muggle world you're a legal adult when you turn 18, rather than 17... So now you're an adult in both worlds! How does it feel to be free?
I haven't got your present yet, because you're going to pick it out. Don't be late to breakfast!
Hermione rolled her eyes, smiling to herself. It felt ridiculously good for things to be back to normal with Ron. She had a feeling he'd told Harry of their confrontation, because Harry was being much more . . . normal, you could say. He wasn't as shifty and nervous around her.
The next letter was from Harry, then Ginny. Both wished her a happy birthday and requested her presence on time for breakfast. Harry, like Ron, told her she was to pick out her own gift.
"Typical boys," Hermione shook her head in amusement, "No good at gift giving!"
Ginny, on the other hand, sent a small paper bag with her letter. Written on it was a rather intriguing message:
Mind you, Hermione, this isn't your real gift! Your real one you'll get later.
Make sure you tell the boys about this one if they ask, because I have a feeling the one you receive later you won't be too keen on telling them about!
Bemused, and just a little nervous about Ginny's plans, Hermione opened the bag and pulled out a small, oval-shaped glass object. Hermione inspected it and turned it this way and that, but it didn't seem to do anything. That's when she saw a second note, slightly crinkled and mashed, lying at the very bottom of the bag.
Maybe now you won't overwork yourself! This is called a Study Sphere. It works sort of like a Remembrall. When you're studying for something, just think about the test, grip it tight, and see what color it turns. Black means NOT READY! White means good. And if it's gray. . . Well, I guess that would mean in between, right?
Hermione grinned broadly at Ginny's thoughtfulness. She would be perfectly happy if this was the only thing she received from Ginny, but of course the girl had to go above and beyond!
The other two owls were from her parents and Hagrid. Her parents had bought her a book they had caught her eying in Flourish and Blotts while she shopped for her textbooks. They must've bought it when she wasn't looking that day. Merlin knows they wouldn't know how to get back to Diagon Alley by themselves! Lastly, Hagrid had, of course, given her one of his signature birthday cakes, topped with emerald icing, and a bundle of rock cakes.
The rest of the day was a happy blur. At breakfast her friends insisted on thoroughly embarrassing her by breaking into 'Happy Birthday' right in the middle of the Great Hall, before dragging her off to Hogsmeade where she was shunted from store to store until she had picked the two gifts she was owed. All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend her very first day as an 18 year old woman.
It wasn't until later that night, just as she was drifting off into a happy slumber, that Hermione discovered what Ginny's gift was. The silence was abruptly shattered by a loud, deep hoot. Starting from her doze, Hermione rushed over to the window and peered out, only to be met with the sight of a pair of very large, yellow eyes staring back at her. Two enormous delivery owls were hovering outside her window, a large package dangling in between them.
Hermione flung the window open and ducked as the two swept in. They set the package down lightly on the floor, hooted in a rather monotonous fashion, and wheeled back around and out into the evening sky--all in less than a minute. Hesitantly Hermione approached the package, before reaching out a hand a peeling some of the paper off the top. She gasped as the title of the gift was revealed.
"YOUNG (AND EXPECTING)? The Young Witch's Complete Package For Impending Motherhood"
Her hands shaking slightly, Hermione waved her wand and the rest of the paper fell away to reveal a photo of a smiling witch, her arms wrapped lovingly around her swelling stomach. Every so often the girl would raise her hand and wave charmingly.
"Oh my," Hermione said faintly, feeling her eyes start tearing up. "This must have cost a fortune! Oh, Ginny!"
Inside, Hermione found a wide variety of items. There was a bracelet she could wear that tracked the health of the infant inside her. If anything was wrong, anything at all, the band would constrict tightly and heat up. There was also an entire case of varying prenatal potions that replenished themselves magically every night. Yet another thing she found was a small silver basin, almost like a small pensieve. By reading the various directions and information, Hermione discovered that it actually showed her the baby. It was essentially a magical, home ultrasound. All she had to do was fill it with water, drop half of a small dissoluble pill in the water, and ingest the other half. Just the mere idea of seeing her own child floating in the basin sent shivers down her spine.
Finally, Hermione pulled three books from the bottom of the box. The first was a small pregnancy log, which would alert her immediately if anything she wrote down seemed unusual, whether in terms of her safety or the child's. The second was a thick purple, leather-bound tome. It was full of pregnancy related information from how to tell the father (she cringed at this), to a week-by-week guide of the fetal development, and extending to caring for the baby after its birth. It was literally all inclusive!
Hermione was skimming the ridiculously lengthy list of do's and dont's, when she decided it was time to inspect the final book. According the the silver letters on its cover, it was called: More Questions? Not to Worry, We're Here To Answer. Intrigued, Hermione flipped it open.
"It is very natural for a young woman expecting a child to have many, many questions. But of course, we cannot predict them all! If you can't find the answer you need in our Young (And Expecting) Guide, just flip to a blank page in this booklet, write down your question, and wait. If the answer is indeed in the guide, this book will you supply you with the section and page number. If not, your question will appear in the notebook of one of our many specialized Healers. You most likely won't receive your answer right away, but keep checking back and soon you will have peace of mind!
Thank you very much for purchasing our product, and best wishes to you and your child!
Young (And Expecting), Inc."
The day really had been perfect.
The rest of September melded together, and eventually October arrived. And with it, plans for Halloween.
Following classes the next day, Hermione found herself threading through the packed hallways full of students, on her way to her second appointment with Madame Pomfrey. A bit nervous, she twisted the baby bracelet on her wrist, comforted by the fact that it had showed no sign of a problem since she put it on almost a month ago.
And of course, Hermione, being Head Girl and all, was in charge of organizing it.
It had been at one of the bi-weekly prefect meetings, the first weekend of October, that the topic came up in conversation. One of the new Prefects, a Ravenclaw, suggested a Halloween ball.
"A Halloween ball? Why? We've already got the feast." Malfoy drawled, looking supremely unimpressed.
The girl was looking rather uncomfortable, but she pressed on, averting her eyes from his cold gaze. "W-well I thought it would be cool, since we've never really done one . . . The last ball we had"--Hermione grimaced as she remember her last ball--"that was during school, I mean, was three years ago! During the Triwizard Tournament!"
Malfoy was in a foul mood today, so before he could say something particularly rude to the girl, Hermione interjected. "I think that's a wonderful idea! We could have it after the feast, once the younger students have gone back to their dormitories."
"Hold up, Granger," Malfoy interrupted, receiving an irritated sigh from Hermione, "You're the one who insisted on every bloody thing being put to a vote. Who wants this ruddy ball?"
Hermione smiled triumphantly inside as roughly 60% of the students before them raised their hands, a few more following suit in reluctance a moment or two later.
"Happy, Malfoy? Now if you're through being difficult, I'd prefer we continue with the plans, seeing as the majority seem to be in favor." Hermione said coldly.
Malfoy opened his mouth angrily, as if to retort, but then shut his mouth, averting his furious gaze to the wall. He had been doing this lately, and she hadn't the faintest idea why. Rather than taunting her mercilessly and lashing out at her, he was simply turning to ignoring the bushy-haired young woman.
"Alright, well, the meetings almost up, so we'll finish planning this in the next meeting. Send me any ideas you get between now and then, and I'll tell Professor Dumbledore..."
Slipping into the Wing, Hermione hurried down to the office at the other end. They had decided that was the best place to hold the appointments, since the Wing itself was entirely to public for Hermione's liking.
"Ah, Miss Granger. Please have a seat." Madam Pomfrey smiled kindly at her as she closed the door behind her. She seemed to have gotten over her initial shock, and was now very warm and open about the sensitive topic.
"So, let me see." The Healer pulled out Hermione's chart, flipped it open and squinted down at it. "According to what this says, you are just about 10 weeks. Two and a half months already! How have you been feeling?"
Hermione grimaced. "Just how you predicted, unfortunately. I've been terribly nauseous, especially when I eat; I'm always tired, and stomach cramps up fairly often . . ." She smiled wryly, "Please tell me it's not going to get worse."
"You're in luck. These next couple months won't be so bad. It's the third trimester when most women find themselves in the most discomfort. Try not to worry, you've still got four months!" She patted Hermione's hand reassuringly. "As for this month, the nauseousness and fatigue will lessen, and your morning sickness may continue. You'll be finding many more, ah--changes coming along in your body."
"Now! Would you like to know what's going on with the embryo? Oh, no, my mistake. It's no longer an embryo . . ."
Hermione gasped. "It's a fetus already? But that was so fast! And yes--yes, of course I'd like to know what's happening!"
Madam Pomfrey laughed loudly, "I see you've gotten more used to the idea of this child? Yes, you now are incubating a small fetus. It's no more than four centimeters long right now, and a quarter of an ounce! By the end of the month, if everything is running smoothly, the little one should be almost nine centimeters, and one and a half ounces."
Hermione was in awe just thinking about it.
"During the next month, the fetus will actually begin looking like a very, very small infant. All the appendages, even the fingers and toes, will finish forming, and the earlobes and nails will begin. The eyes will be almost finished, and most organs will be there." She paused momentarily, trying to remember any other milestones in the infant, "Oh, and the fetus's bones will have hardened."
Hermione blinked. "All that? So fast? But then--why is it in there for so long?" She blushed at how naïve she sounded.
Madam Pomfrey shook her head in amusement. "My dear, everything may be formed, but the child still needs to grow! He needs to get the right size, and even then he needs to fatten up a bit! The first few months are more intricate mechanics, while the remainder of your pregnancy is just preparing the fetus for life outside the womb."
Hermione nodded, still blushing from her outburst.
"Now, if you wouldn't mind," Madam Pomfrey conjured up a small stretcher, "Please lie down on there, I'd just like to feel your stomach quickly."
Feeling slightly uncomfortable, Hermione lay down, staring up at the ceiling. Before long she felt Madam Pomfrey's thin, cool hands pressing against her lower stomach, pushing and prodding.
"Oh, yes. There's definitely a little life inside there my dear. You can feel it already!"
"What?" Hermione said, startled. "What do you mean, you can feel it?"
"Miss Granger, you mean you haven't noticed?" She quickly grabbed Hermione's hand and pressed it where hers had been. Hermione felt her heart begin to thump wildly. Already you could feel her stomach was hard. There was no bump, of course, but it wasn't soft and pliable like it used to be. Just as Madam Pomfrey had said, there was a life inside.
Just then the Healer uttered an unfamiliar spell, all the while pointing at Hermione's stomach. The seventh year started as a loud, steady pulsing sound filled her ears.
"Wh-what is that?"
Madam Pomfrey smiled softly. "That, my dear, that is your baby's heart. It's beating already."
Later that night, when Hermione was lying in bed, staring out her window at the stars high above, she found those words echoing repeatedly in her mind.
"It's beating already."
Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who's been reading! :) I apologize for skipping a week, but I've been very busy lately. If you liked what you've read so far, please like and favourite, not to mention leave some feedback below!
There's one thing I'd like to say quickly. I've noticed what I find to be a disturbing trend on this website. Some (not all) readers seem to think that it's okay to be rude in the comments and incessantly demand that I post updates. I'm sorry, I dearly appreciate your interest and that fact that you are reading my story, but it is not your right to be as rude as you please and get near belligerent just because I'm not updating fast enough. Please keep that in mind and be patient. I have a life outside of the story, and cannot work on it 24/7 to put out updates constantly.
I don't appreciate coming on here and seeing rude, frustrating comments saying things like "UPDATE NOW" or "HELLO??? WHERE'S THE UPDATE". Just been a little pet peeve of mine. Thank you.