“I cannot believe people as smart as you would be involved in such a foolish thing!” Amelia Bones fumed at the three people standing in front of her desk at the Ministry of Magic. She was wearing silk violet robes and her every movement seemed to make the fabric swoop and float. She looked a bit like a mad hippo. “Do you know what you could have done with our reputation!”
“I’m so sorry, Minister-” Dennis Creevy started.
It was three months after Neville and Dennis’ discovery and all their means of research had been exposed to the Ministry. They were still on the project, but had to appear before the Minister for a formal, confidential, reprimand.
“Apology not accepted! You were doing these experiments in a nearly unsecured location, your notes aren’t even encoded, anyone could have stumbled upon this!”
“We did let the Ministry know as soon as we had something.” Neville stated firmly. “Before then everything was just speculation.”
“If you need clearance for a ‘theory’ you ask for it!” The Minister fumed. Her violet robes ballooned around her as she paced. “You don’t just break the law out where everyone can see and ask for forgiveness later! You get a petition like a reasonable researcher!”
“Yes, Minister.” Dennis said quickly. Although Neville was more aggressive in his arguments now rather than when they were in school, he always seemed to pick the wrong fights.
Neville puffed out his cheeks. Hermione knew he was biting his tongue.
Hermione picked at a knot on the front of her robes. She was being reprimanded as well, but for something completely different.
“And you!” The Minister rounded on Hermione. She had been waiting for this. “Just jumping into the experiment like some type of Muggle lab specimen! Are you completely mad!”
Hermione wasn’t expecting that. She also wasn’t expecting to burst into tears.
“For heavens sake!” Madame Bones said exasperatedly. She looked at Neville and Dennis sharply. “You two! Out!”
The men didn’t have to be told twice and quickly scuttled from the room.
“I’m so sorry.” Hermione tried to compose herself. She pulled a handkerchief from the sleeve of the robes and mopped at her face. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Highly dangerous.”
“I know exactly what you were thinking.” Madame Bones shook her head at Hermione. “You were thinking of having Severus’ child.”
“I’m sorry.” Hermione shook her head and blew her nose. “Completely irresponsible.”
“Well, since we’re in agreement,” Madame Bones reached into her desk and brought out a tin of biscuits. “Congratulations, dear. I know you must have wanted this for a long time.”
Hermione let a few more tears of relief slip from her eyes. “You have no idea.”
She selected a chocolate biscuit and let out a nervous laugh as a tea pot floated towards them. The minister sat back down at her desk and motioned Hermione to sit opposite her in a brown leather chair.
“Will you be leaving us?” Madame Bones looked serious. “We will miss you terribly if you decide to go.”
“I sincerely hope not.” Hermione took the cup of tea now floating in front of her. “But it’s not like Severus could watch the baby during the day.”
“He could if you had your windows magically shielded from vitamin D.” Madame Bones looked at Hermione seriously.
“I- hadn’t thought of that.” Hermione looked at her cup of tea thoughtfully.
The Wizarding World had made leaps and bounds in the realm of research since the Unification of Magical Peoples and they had learned much about vampires. Their reaction to the sun seemed to stem from intolerance to vitamin D, and not from the light of the sun itself.
“We’d also like to bring Severus in as one of our subjects on a test of D blockers. He’s an ideal candidate and if it works he’ll be far more help to you.”
“I think he may be quite interested.” Hermione nibbled on her biscuit.
“We’ll have him owled by this evening.”
Hermione bustled around the wooden table in her kitchen. Severus’ potion was laid out for the evening. A squat ceramic coffee cup sat near the potions bottle. A wide cork stoppered it.
She checked on her supper in the oven and looked outside at the darkening sky. He would be another half hour at least.
Hermione looked at the coffee cup as if it offended her and put a preservation spell on it. Then she walked to Severus’ bookshelf and selected a book entitled: 18th Century Vampire Clans by Sir Rupert Aimsworth.
She was just reading about the alliance made between the Gormear and Luxis clans when she heard the cellar door creak open.
“Severus?” She called out tentatively.
“The smell of your dinner churns my stomach. It should taste wonderful.”
Hermione snorted as she closed her book. Severus often cooked for her out of courtesy, occasionally taking a bit of raw meat in, but he never ate proper food anymore.
Hermione rose and walked into her kitchen.
Severus was already reading his letter from the Ministry. “Seems they have a use for me. Anything to do with you?”
“I certainly don’t know what you mean,” Hermione said brusquely. She often told Severus he should at least be involved in a project or two to keep himself busy.
“Still, it seems like an interesting opportunity,” Severus said, talking himself into the Ministry’s project.
“I’m pregnant.” Hermione blurted out.
“Just a conformation of what we already knew,” Severus looked at her with one eyebrow quirked. “Let me guess. This project will put me into the Ministry and nearer to you while you’re going through this experiment at having a child.”
“No, but that’s not a half bad idea.”
Severus scowled at her. His eyes flickered to her mid section and he raised the parchment from the Ministry in front of his face before she saw the smug look he was giving her. He failed.
Hermione ripped the paper from in front of his face.
“You’re entirely too pleased with yourself.”
“I have nothing to be pleased about.” Severus said innocently. “Longbottom gained the information, preformed the spell, programmed the genetic material, and implanted it. All I did, quite honestly, was show up.”
“And give a drop of blood.” Hermione grinned.
“And give a drop of blood.”
“Speaking of which, there’s the last of mine you’re going to get for awhile.” Hermione nodded at the stoppered cup on the table.
“How thoughtful of you.” Severus remarked as he reached for his nightly potion. “I’ll have it for dessert.”
Hermione smiled and waved her wand at the oven. A casserole dish floated out of the oven and settled on the table. Severus frowned and waved his wand at her cooling dinner. Several vegetables appeared alongside her chicken and potatoes. She frowned at him.
“Your health is even more important than usual,” Severus said simply, knowing she couldn’t argue. “Now, eat your peas.”
Hermione made a face at him and pointed her wand at her dinner. The steam stopped pouring off the food as she reached for a glass and filled it with water.
Severus threw his head back and made a bitter face as he swallowed his potion.
“Is it that horrible?” Hermione always felt a slight pang of guilt that she couldn’t take care of him completely. He told her she was ridiculous, of course, but she still felt like she could come up with something better than a foul tasting potion.
“I’m sure dessert should make up for it.” Severus unstoppered the cup with a grin and took a deep drink. When he took the cup away from his face he had a blood mustache. Hermione made a face at him.
“Do you have to do that at the table?”
“You don’t see me retching at the smell of dead cooked flesh, do you?” He wiped his mouth with a pink napkin with tiny daisies on it.
“Fair enough.” Hermione took a mouthful of her chicken and sighed.
“Just brush your teeth before you kiss me.”
Severus walked into his study after Hermione retired for the evening . He was still sipping on the last drops from the cup Hermione had prepared for him. Next time she’d have to be quicker with the preservation spell. The blood tasted slightly dead.