Hermione woke up in her double bed and burrowed further under the covers. She was always a little light headed and sore the day after Severus fed. She should have known better than to let him indulge on a weeknight. At least she got to bed early last night.
It’s not as if he didn’t have other means of nourishment. St. Mungo’s supplied him with a potion that acted as a blood substitute.
What would she be doing if she was facing a wailing baby right now? There was no way this could be going on if there was an infant around. There was something she would miss. Lord only knows what the anticoagulant would do to a fetus.
Why, oh why, had she forgotten to take the blood replenishing potion last night? Even if she took one now she’d be light headed all morning.
This ‘child idea’ would require a lot more thought. A child would be nice, but how good would Severus be as a vampire father. He was impatient and bossy enough as a teacher. Did Hermione want to really subject a poor child to his ranting?
Hermione giggled suddenly at the idea of Severus’ logic being thwarted by a 3 year old wearing a hat, socks, and little else.
Ron and Luna had three children. It seemed there was no better humbling an experience than an hour with the young Weasleys girls, ages 7, 4, and 2, respectively.
Hermione lifted her head and looked at her clock. She could lie in bed a little while longer. She relaxed and snuggled further under the white lace covers.
She had become accustomed to her life. She slept alone. At least, after the sun came up. She reasoned quite a few women in the world had husbands that left for work at dawn. She wasn’t missing much.
Except it was like having a husband that worked overtime every day. With no hope of vacation.
It was quite an independent life. Children would certainly change everything. She wouldn’t be able to be at the beck and call of the Ministry anymore. Some of her research projects would have to be put on hold or given to someone else once the toddler years started. Maybe they would give her a small sub-department.
She mused for a moment
about leading an army of researchers to
Hermione shook her head and threw her covers off. When she stretched, her back crackled.
Baby. They were both mad.
And Neville was mad for bringing it up. What were he and Dennis thinking?
Neville Longbottom, helping Snape create little Snapes.
Hermione entertained a fantasy about using the Time-Turner to tip off her younger self and make some bets with Lee Jordan. Lee had gotten into his father’s bookmaking business and was quite successful, from what she heard.
She started at a tap from the window and turned to see a tawny owl pecking at the glass of her bedroom window.
Hermione frowned slightly and went across the room to open her window. Her feet were bare and they made a faint hollow sound on the hardwood floor.
“Barnabas,” Hermione said as the owl. “Neville’s never up this early. What are you doing here?”
She unlatched the heavy wooden window and pushed it open.
The owl hooted happily as he hopped into the room, waving the scroll tied to one of his legs on every other hop.
“I get it,” Hermione sighed as she caught the enthusiastic owl when he lost his balance. She untied the scroll and smiled as the owl made small cooing sounds and tried to snuggle close to her.
“Cold morning?” Hermione mused to the owl as she cracked the seal on the letter.
The owl hooted crossly. Hermione chuckled.
I haven’t left the house, but will shortly. Our whole lab will be moving today and I want to make sure no one mucks anything up. The whole thing makes me nervous. I want to see your notes and questions as soon as possible.
Hermione sighed. It was going to be a long day.
“So what if people can get pregnant with hollow sperm?” Dennis moaned. They had been discussing the matter for over an hour.
“It’s a big problem,” Hermione said seriously. “You can breed for generations without interbreeding problems. You can have multiple births with every gestation.”
“That would take eons,” Dennis said, sounding exasperated.
“Not really,” Neville said darkly. He glanced at Hermione. She looked down at her notes. “If they give the babies a growth potion and impregnate them as soon as they’re ready you could have a large army in 2 decades.”
“But they’ll be mentally behind,” Dennis exclaimed.
“Not if all you care about is the final generation and not the ones that came before,” Hermione said quietly.
A look of horror crept across Dennis’ face.
“That’s disgusting,” Dennis whispered. “What would they do with the others?”
“Spell components, probably,” Neville mused.
“Quite,” Hermione said brusquely. “The Department of Mysteries is willing to research hollows for you, they’ll delegate it to Team C.”
“Thank God,” Neville muttered under his breath. “Not like we won’t have enough to do.”
“What we’re going to do is observe Muggle and Wizarding DNA in hollow sperm of both Muggles and Wizards,” Hermione said, ignoring him.
“What?” Neville said.
“Well, if you took Muggle DNA and put in a Wizard’s hollow sperm and it ends up with ag remains ia still made of matter. magical-”
“It couldn’t possibly,” Dennis interrupted. “All of the original DNA is effectively ripped from the sperm.”
“Exactly,” Hermione said. “But the shell that remains is still made of matter. It still exists after the purging.”
“What do you mean?” Neville asked, taking his glasses off and rubbing his eyes.
“It would prove there is no gene,” Hermione said.
“Or that are still things beyond our grasp,” Neville chortled cynically.
“Well, it would stop the gene project,” Hermione said.
“That would be terribly convenient,” Dennis said testily. “Since it seems this would be a more valuable project for the Ministry.”
“10 years of research down the drain,” Neville said bitterly.
“Oh come on,” Hermione said, annoyed. “At least you’d have an answer; you shouldn’t have gone into practical research if you expected all your theories to pan out.”
“You wouldn’t feel that way if it was your project!” Dennis said angrily.
“Oh really?” Hermione said testily. “I supervise all the projects the Ministry decides to undertake. I get to walk away from all of them.”
“Good point,” Neville said, smirking at her.
“What do you look so smug about?” Hermione asked him.
“Brought it all on yourself, you know,” Neville said. Hermione frowned.
“Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic,” Dennis mocked. He had a grin plastered to his face.
“Bloody overachiever,” Neville teased.
“Bugger off, both of you,” Hermione said annoyed, though her ears were pink.
“Either way, Hermione’s right,” Neville said reluctantly. Dennis shot him a look and he winced. “Well what if there’s no gene? Why waste more time?”
Dennis grumbled and looked over the plans for the new lab.
“Well, you’re much better funded now,” Hermione said. “Think of it that way.”
“I suppose that’s a point,” Dennis said, his eyes still on the plans.
“And we get all sorts of new toys to play with,” Neville suggested. Dennis shrugged, but nodded.
“Can Severus come here tonight?” Neville asked, turning from Dennis. “I’d like his opinion on a few things.”
“We don’t have any plans,” Hermione said.
That wasn’t quite true. They had spoken briefly about taking a movie in, but they hadn’t decided on anything.
“Well, let’s adjourn for now,” Neville said, rubbing his eyes. “I could go for some tea and we need to finish setting up the lab and copying our notes.”
Severus peered through the magnifier and frowned.
“Just how did you manage this, Longbottom?” he asked, his voice steady.
Neville paled and turned white. Then he began explaining the gene research program, the methods of research they had been using: the traditional, a few Hermione unconventional methods Hermione had no idea they had been using, and a few that were downright illegal.
“Neville!” Hermione practically shrieked. “That’s more than verging on the edge of the Dark Arts! Are you completely mad!”
“It was in the name of research!” Neville thundered. “And I used my own blood, so there were no unwilling participants.”
“I can’t believe you let him do this, Dennis,” Hermione frowned. Dennis winced.
“I recorded everything, Hermione,” Dennis said reluctantly. “My notes are quite detailed.”
Severus seemed to be sizing up Neville.
Severus shook his head and Hermione saw a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. It was there for a fraction of a second, and then it was gone. He thought this was funny. The ends justify the means. He was slightly proud, though he’d never admit to it.
Hermione found herself just as mad at Severus as she was at Neville. She tried not to fume.
“We told you everything,” Neville said, squeakily. “Really.”
Hermione felt herself deflate. These weren’t bad men, but wasn’t that always the way it started? She was still annoyed, but more concerned about what else they were up to.
“Really, Neville,” Hermione said. “They’re illegal for a reason.”
“That’s a minor potion at best,” Severus said with a wave of his hand. “Although it does take a bit of skill.”
Neville blushed. That was the closest thing to a complement he was likely to get.
“It only took six tries,” said Dennis, still in a bad mood.
Severus chuckled a bit. “Well, At least you still have your eyebrows; if that one goes awry it can turn to an Ever-Burning Flame.”
“Took them 3 weeks to grow back,” Dennis said, smirking at Neville.
“Bugger off,” Neville snapped. “It finally worked out alright.”
“So are we seeding the empties tonight?” Severus asked.
“We better, before they tell us we can’t,” Neville said quickly.
“When did you start breaking so many rules?” Hermione exploded.
“When I started hanging around you,” Neville smirked. “All your fault, you know.”
Hermione groaned as Neville plucked a hair from Severus’ head. Severus winced.
“Technically, it’s not a rule yet and we’re exempt from Dark Arts laws now,” said Dennis, opening a small vial of brownish liquid. Neville popped the hair into the vial and Dennis walked away, shaking it.
“So, it’s your blood?” Hermione said slowly. “Won’t that bind you to the child in some way?”
“We think so,” said Neville. “But we’re not sure how. Ideally, the blood will be supplied by one of the prospective parents. We’re not impregnating you with these, so it doesn’t matter.”
Hermione nodded, then watched as a light pink mist seemed to curl out of the vial. Neville and Dennis walked over to the dish of hollow sperm and began chanting.
Severus stiffened next to her. She wasn’t sure this was a good sign. Then there was a red murky glow and the lights seemed to dim slightly.
Abruptly, everything went back to normal.
“OK,” Dennis said. “Now to check for auras.”
Hermione held her breath as Dennis cast a spell on Severus. He didn’t so much glow, but seemed to be surrounded by a clinging shadow. Small gold sparks fired off occasionally.
Neville chanted the same spell over the experiment and began grinning.
“Dear Lord.” Hermione felt faint. She felt Severus steady her.
“So…” Dennis faltered.
“So…what?” Severus said coldly.
“So if we’re going to do this we need a drop of blood from one of you,” Neville said sarcastically. “Unless you want to be bound to the Longbottoms. It would make life easy on me. Gran’s still bugging me about settling down.”
“Not a chance,” Severus said flatly.
Hermione held out her wrist.
“We take it through a finger,” Dennis said, throwing a look at Severus. Severus tried to look innocent.
Dennis never approved of Severus feeding from Hermione. He thought it was dangerous.
“Well, then take it,” Hermione said, flustered. “Before I change my mind.”
“You know, if you’re not sure,” Neville said seriously. “We wouldn’t want to push you into anything.”
“I want to have my husband’s child,” Hermione said, still holding out her hand.
“Well then,” Neville said, smiling. “Let’s see what we can do about that.”