Literatti: Fiction By Deslea
The Host (Unfinished)
Deslea R. Judd
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters/Keywords: The trio, Snape, humour.
Spoilers: If you know roughly who the main players are, you'll be fine. Set early in the summer before Fourth Year. Written after GoF, so any contradiction of canon set by subsequent books/movies is all care and no responsibility.
Summary: A spell goes horribly wrong. Hermione has a big problem.
Author's Note: This is my first foray into HP. It was originally intended to be a demented humour piece, but became slightly more serious. Still, we're not talking heavy mythology here. Try not to hold it against me.
Disclaimer: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
Feedback: deslea at deslea dot com.
More fic: http://fiction.deslea.com
Note: This story is unfinished and presented for kicks only. It is highly unlikely that it will ever be completed. Caveat emptor.
It should be said, for the sake of clarity, that screams were not an unusual part of life in the Granger household. The two eminent Doctors Granger had made the unwise decision to situate their dental surgery in the front section of their home. So in normal circumstances, Hermione's response would have been to increase the settings on a wonderful little device given to her by the Weasley twins for Christmas. They called it the Silencer, for obvious reasons, and since it existed in a permanent state of low magic and was manipulated only by mechanical means, it managed to circumvent the Ministry Of Magic rules about the use of magic by young witches during Hogwarts breaks. Hermione had doubted the veracity of this claim, but her research had proved the existence of the loophole beyond a shadow of a doubt.
So she had used the Silencer on many occasions, and in good conscience. But this was not one of those. This time, she recognised the scream, not as that of some hapless patient, but as her mother.
"Mother!" she cried, bolting up off her bed, out of her room, running down the steps by twos. It felt strange to be running this way, in shorts, no robes to flap around her legs, no Ron and Harry at her side.
She burst into the surgery. Her father was already there, bent over her mother. There was blood pooling on the floor beneath her.
Her father looked up at her, a stricken look on his face. "She's losing the baby," he said. "Do something!"
Hermione stared at them for a long moment. Incantations passed through her mind, considered and discarded one by one. It didn't even occur to her to phone for a Muggle doctor.
She held out her hand. No wand. Just rash, frightened, wayward magic. She said the first vaguely appropriate thing that entered her head.
The three of them looked at one another tensely in the stark white room.
The flush on her mother's face faded. "The pain's stopped," she whispered.
Her father looked at Hermione with new respect in his eyes. He had always been proud of her, but this was something new.
"What did you do?"
Hermione found her voice. "The baby is in suspended animation," she lied. "In a manner of speaking. It's only a temporary solution, but it will give you time to work out what went wrong, and fix it."
The Grangers glanced at one another, but did not reproach her for her use of magic. Clearly, the pressing concern for their unborn child took precedence over their desire to keep to conventional Muggle ways. Instead, her mother asked, "But how? If the baby's in suspended animation, how will we find out what's wrong? It will show up on the ultrasound."
Hermione winced. She hadn't thought of that. "I could cast a spell on the radiology equipment." She was so far outside the Ministry Of Magic guidelines that it hardly mattered. She fully expected to get a caution at the very least by the first available owl. She might as well get her money's worth for her indiscretion.
"You will do no such thing. An emergency situation is one thing, but that is quite another, young lady." Her father's voice softened. "And anyway. We don't want you expelled from Hogwart's. Not even for your baby brother or sister. That's your future, Hermione. If you lose that, you'll wind up an unskilled apprentice on Diagon Alley. Is that what you want?"
"Of course not," she said.
Her mother spoke. "Hermione, dear, surely there's no hurry. I must confess, I find the idea of the baby being in some kind of limbo state a little disturbing. But if the baby is suspended, we can take our time in working out a solution - right?"
Hermione swallowed hard. She could feel panic rising in her chest. "Right." She cleared her throat. "Perhaps I should go back to Hogwarts for a few days and see if I can come up with a solution. One that doesn't break the rules. After all," she said confidently, "if the answer isn't in the library, it isn't anywhere."
"I would rather a more *conventional* solution, dear," her mother murmured, but she didn't look very convinced.
"I don't see how we can," her father said. "As you say...the ultrasound..." He looked up at Hermione. "You're sure you can find a way to fix it?"
"Absolutely." There was no trace of guile in Hermione's voice. That did not, of course, mean that there was none in her at all.
"Very well," her mother said. She struggled to her feet, steadying herself with her hand. She left footprints in her own blood. "Would you be a dear and help me, darling? I feel quite a mess."
"Of course," Hermione said faintly. Bile rose in her throat, but she swallowed it down, and she helped her mother.
Hermione left for Hogwarts that night.
She travelled to London on her own, insisting that her father stay with her mother. Her parents didn't like it, but then, they didn't know why time was of the essence, either. She boarded the train and took a compartment of her own. It was, after all, off-peak, and the train was nearly deserted.
She had been expecting the owl, but she was surprised when it came to her on the train. She opened the letter with a sigh.
Dear Miss Granger
We are pleased to inform you that your application for a summer licence to perform magic has been approved, pursuant to section 9174a of the Decree For The Reasonable Restriction Of Underage Sorcery. Please be advised that this licence allows the limited use of magic for the purposes of your summer project as verified by Professor McGonagall. You will still be subject to random checks for misuse, and you remain subject to all regulations applicable to adult sorcerers. We note your residence in the Muggle world and direct your attention in particular to the Muggle Protection Act.
We remind you that you are expected to apply for your licence in a timely manner. We have backdated your licence at Prof. McGonagall's request, but such a concession will not be extended again.
Edgar M. Harridus
Director, Special Licensing Programs
"What summer project?" she wondered, and that was when she felt a trail of soft fur against her leg. She looked down, just in time to see the cat at her feet transform into the formidable figure of Minerva McGonagall.
"The project you are doing for me, Miss Granger, for additional credit. A ten thousand word paper titled, 'The Dangers Of Hybrid Spells And Why I Gave Them Up.'"
Hermione swallowed hard.
"Now, fortunately for you, young lady, I have some pressing personal business that will take me to Durmstrang for the duration of the break, so I am unable to either help you or punish you for your indiscretion. However, I did think it best for this particular incident to be handled, shall we say, in-house. Hence the licence."
"Thank you, Professor McGonagall," Hermione said hastily.
"In the unlikely event that you are able to resolve the problem, Miss Granger, I shall be more than happy to consider this a learning experience and say no more about it."
"And if I can't?"
"If you can't, I think you'll have more pressing concerns than your academic record in any case. Good luck, Miss Granger."
"Thank you, Professor McGonagall. Really."
The older woman looked on her with grudging kindness, and nodded. "Disapparate!" she said, and then she was gone.
Madam Pompfrey clucked.
"Pregnant," she sighed. "At your age. Well, it's not my place to comment, I suppose. There are herbs-"
"No!" Hermione said at once. "No, I don't want to be rid of it. I want to be sure it's all right."
Madam Pompfrey raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment. She merely placed her hands over Hermione's belly and said a few words. She frowned. Repeated them.
"You're - quite sure, Miss Granger?"
"I took a test," Hermione improvised. "A Muggle test. It's a stick, you know. You put it in urine. It changes colour."
"How very provincial," Madam Pompfrey said. "There's no life there, Miss Granger. I'm sorry."
Hermione sat up. "No, that's not right. That can't be right!" She clutched at Madam Pompfrey's sleeve. "It can't be, it can't be, it can't be!" She broke into tears, and sobbed in a very un-Hermione-like way.
Poppy Pompfrey watched her cry, awkwardly stroking her hair. At last, she gently extricated herself from the girl's grasp and went to the dispensary. She returned with a draft and gave it to Hermione. Within minutes, the girl was in a dreamless sleep.
Hermione woke to the sound of Ron's voice.
"It's a bloody outrage, that's what it is. Some Muggle's gone and taken advantage of our Hermione. If I ever get my hands on him-"
"How do you know it was a Muggle?" came Harry's voice. "For all you know, it could have been Draco."
"Honestly," she said, sitting up, "the two of you are idiots. As if I would have - have -"
"Gotten knocked up?" Ron supplied.
"Ron!" That from Harry. "It's Hermione's business. Madam Pompfrey owled us to be support for her, not to interrogate her! We're not even supposed to know about the - er -"
"Do you think either of you could speak as though I were actually in the room with you? And how did you get here, anyway?" The two boys launched into a confused tale of deception and lies to both the Dursleys and the Weasleys, and finally, she held up her hand. "Oh, don't. It doesn't matter. My head hurts."
Ron rushed to her side and made an awkward attempt at fluffing her pillow. "I'm awfully sorry. Here, you shouldn't be sitting up." Her irritation faded. He did *mean* well.
"There's nothing wrong with me, Ron. Please don't make such a fuss."
"Don't make a fuss? This is bloody huge, Hermione! A baby and a miscarriage and - dear Merlin, you're fourteen! Not even fourteen!"
"It is pretty big," Harry conceded. "Hermione, why didn't you owl us when you found out you'd gotten into trouble?"
"Gotten into trouble?" she echoed. "Harry, really, I know this place is positively medieval, but don't tell me you've forgotten your Muggle roots. Women just don't think like that any more. And anyway, I didn't get into trouble at all."
"You got pregnant! What would you call it?"
"I didn't get pregnant. It wasn't *my* baby. That's what I've been trying to tell you all along, if you would just get your protective chauvinistic heads out of your arses and listen!"
Harry went quite pale. "Did you say...arses?"
Sudden mirth rose in Hermione. "You thought I'd - I'd - and you're worried about me saying arses?"
Ron broke in. "Look, what do you mean, it wasn't your baby?"
Hermione sighed in exasperation. "Really, you two. Listen! My *mother* is having a baby. She was starting to lose it yesterday, and I performed a spell to move the baby from her to me, to try and save it. She had trouble having me, too. I was sure if I could just carry it myself for a few days, until we could solve the problem, it would all be all right."
Ron stared at her. "There's a spell that can do that?"
"A proxy spell," said Harry. "Oh, Merlin, tell me you didn't apparate the baby."
"I used apparate proxima. A hybrid of apparate proximus and apparate by proxy. It moved the baby to the nearest available host - me."
"I didn't even know you knew how to apparate," Ron marvelled. "That's advanced magic, that is."
"I've only managed it once before," Hermione admitted. "I was in the restricted section of the library without a pass just before the end of the school year. Professor Snape almost caught me. I panicked and used it without even thinking about it."
"That's probably why it worked," said Harry. "Extremes of emotion and all that. But aren't hybrid spells supposed to be very unpredictable?"
Hermione nodded. "Very. Oh, dear, perhaps that's why I lost the baby. How horrible - my own brother or sister!"
Ron shifted awkwardly on his feet, but Harry said reassuringly, "If your mother was losing it anyway, you didn't change anything. It's not your fault."
"But if *I* lost it - oh, Harry, what am I going to tell my parents? They'll be devastated!" There were tears in her eyes.
Madam Pompfrey bustled into the room just then. She took one look at the tearful girl and turned on the boys. "Really! Upsetting a sick girl. I should have known better than to owl you two. Out with you!"
The boys knew better than to argue. They left readily enough. Madam Pompfrey shooed them out and closed the door behind them. She returned to Hermione's side, saying, "Miss Granger, I *do* wish you'd get some *girl* friends. Apart from anything else, you are less likely to find yourself in this situation again."
Hermione shook her head, alarmed. "Oh, Madam Pompfrey, it wasn't Harry or-"
Madam Pompfrey held up a silencing hand. "Miss Granger, that's neither my business nor my concern. Whatever sensibilities the Muggle world may have for such things, they do not apply at Hogwarts. My only concern is the practical one. There's time for babies after your O.W.L.s."
Hermione nodded meekly. "Yes, Madam Pompfrey."
"Now, as for this pregnancy. Hermione, I think you really must have been mistaken. When a girl miscarries, especially a Muggle girl, there is blood. Tissue. Organic matter. You've had none of that, and it's not for lack of the appropriate spells. I am quite certain that you were never pregnant at all."
Hermione paled. "You're - quite sure?"
"Quite sure, Miss Granger. I'll keep you in for the rest of the day, just to rest a little, and release you at nightfall. I should like to prescribe some preventative herbs for you, as well."
"Preventative?" Then, "Oh. I see. Er - thank you."
Madam Pompfrey gave her hand a reassuring squeeze, and bustled out of the room.
"But if you didn't lose it, Hermione, where the bloody hell is it?"
"I don't *bloody* know," she snapped. "And can't you use *any* other word for emphasis?"
Harry was pacing, frowning. "Stop quarrelling, you two! Let's be logical about this. What, exactly, does apparate proxima do?"
Hermione glared at Ron. "It apparates, by proxy, to a proximate location."
"So it apparates a third party - the baby. Are you quite sure the baby is not still inside your mum?"
"Yes. The bleeding stopped. The pain stopped. I don't know where it went, but it definitely went *somewhere*."
"A proximate location," Harry murmured. "But what is that? I mean, it didn't wind up in your back yard or anything, did it?"
Hermione shook her head. "No. Proximate refers not only to nearness of location but also nearness of environment. In other words, it went to a similar location. Another uterus, I suppose. I'd assumed, as the nearest female, that it would be me."
"Who else was there?"
"Just my father."
Ron's eyes lit up. "Could it be in him?"
Hermione scoffed. "Ron, I *hardly* think-"
"No, I think he's onto something, Hermione. What if the baby went, placenta and all? It could survive inside a man then, couldn't it?"
She thought a moment. "Well, yes," she conceded, "at least for a while. If it was in his abdominal cavity...there's a blood supply there...and herbs could make him carry it longer."
"There's your answer, then. You get your mother's problem fixed up, and then you apparate the baby back. Easy." Harry looked very pleased with himself. "We'll stay here for a few days while you go home and get your mother sorted. That way, we can help you with research if you run into trouble."
"And the fact that you get the weekend away from the Dursleys has nothing to do with it," Hermione said with a sly little grin.
"None at all, Hermione. None at all."
"Are you quite comfortable, Mrs Granger?"
Mrs Granger nodded, holding Hermione's gaze with watchful eyes. Hermione squeezed her hand.
"You know, it's quite unusual to have a daughter so young present for such a procedure. Are you quite sure about this, Hermione? There may be a little blood."
"A little blood shan't bother me," she said airily.
"Well," the obstetrician said, "as long as you're sure." She turned back to Mrs Granger. "You do know what to expect, don't you?"
Mr Granger spoke for the first time. "You're suturing the cervix to enable her to carry to term. We had it done with Hermione, as well."
The obstetrician nodded. "That's correct. We're monitoring the baby's heart to make sure there's no distress during the procedure. Just a precaution." She switched on the screen, and Hermione closed her eyes and worked her charm. A flickering line appeared on the screen, and rhythmic sounds were heard. Hermione watched the obstetrician's face, and modulated the sounds and the line until the woman's expression assured her that she was seeing what she believed she was supposed to see - the life signs of a healthy baby.
The procedure passed without incident, and when it ended, Hermione ended her charm on the foetal monitor. The sounds ceased. The line went flat. "Apparate proxima!" she cried, and waited. She ignored the panicked sounds of the obstetrician at the apparent demise of the baby within her mother. She waited for the monitor to detect the signs of the baby anew.
"Apparate proxima!" she said again.
Still nothing. Her father was staring at her. "Hermione? What's wrong?"
Panicking now, she pushed the obstetrician aside and pulled the monitors off her mother. She pulled up her shirt and used them on herself. Then her father. Then the protesting obstetrician.
Beads of sweat formed on her brow. "Oh, Merlin," she whispered. "Where is it? What do I do?"
"Hermione?" her mother said, a little incoherently. She was still under the effects of the gas. "What is it?"
She put the monitors back on her mother. "Nothing, Mother. It's nothing. Just rest," she soothed. Then she worked the memory charm. "Obliviate!"
The three adults blinked. Hermione restarted the charm on the foetal monitor. She smiled as her father fretted over her mother, none of them any the wiser.
She smiled til she thought her face would crack in two.
"You should eat, Hermione."
Hermione turned over her food with her fork. "I'm not hungry."
Hermione was not the only one not eating. Snape, at the far end of the hall, looked positively green. Harry and Ron, by contrast, were shovelling food down their throats.
"You know," Ron said between mouthfuls of food, "starving yourself won't make the baby come back. You may as well eat."
"This isn't a lost scarf, Ron. Or car keys. I lost my parents' unborn baby. I have no idea where it is. Either I screwed up apparating it out of my mother, and it was never in my father at all, or else I screwed up the apparation back."
"Did you see any evidence that your father was-" Harry stopped short, biting his lip. He shot a glance at Ron. They were both obviously working very hard not to burst into laughter.
"I saw no evidence that my father was pregnant, Harry," she said coldly. "But where else could it have gone? There was no-one else nearby when I apparated the baby out of my mother."
Harry frowned. "Well, you know location is a bit more flexible in wizardry than in the Muggle world. What about your thoughts? What were you thinking of?"
Hermione turned over her food some more, frowning too. "Well, I was thinking about the only time I successfully apparated, of course. Trying to call up the same feeling, so it would work."
"The time in the library," Ron said. "With-"
He was interrupted by a crashing sound. The three of them looked up, just in time to see Snape step over his fallen chair and flee, his hand pressed hard to his mouth.
They all looked at each other. Hermione looked faintly traumatised.
"Gracious, Severus, you look a fright."
It was hard to think of anyone mothering Professor Snape, but Poppy Pomfrey was apparently doing just that.
"I feel very queasy," he was saying. "And it wasn't just the sight of those Gryffindors."
Hermione and Harry looked at one another, grinning. Ron scowled. They kept listening through the door.
"Your abdomen is a little firm. Could be a mild case of indigestion. I shouldn't worry too much for now. I'll give you a draft to settle your stomach."
"Thank you, Poppy."
"Have you any other symptoms, Severus?"
"Yes?" Poppy prompted.
"I feel - oddly - tearful." This last word was tight. Forced out between gritted teeth.
Hermione clasped her hands over her mouth. Harry was biting down hard on his lip. Ron just fled.
"Like nobody likes me here."
"Nobody does like you here, Severus."
Harry was rocking back and forth hard on his heels, biting his fist. There were tears streaming down Hermione's cheeks. She didn't dare let the laugh go. It would be loud enough to wake the dead.
"I feel fat and ugly."
That was too much. She took off at a run, away from the infirmary, down the first flight of stairs, Harry hot on her heels. She all but fell into a crevice in the wall, and Harry fell in after her. They were clasped there, hard against one another, laughing for all they were worth. She laughed until she collapsed against him in great rasping coughs. They sank to the floor together and leaned against one another in exhaustion.
"Oh, my," he said. "That was too funny."
"I wonder where Ron is?" she panted. "He would have been apoplectic if he heard that."
"Probably looking in the mirror," he managed. "Trying to get that purple tinge out of his cheeks."
"You know, Harry," she said. "The way we were. Shoved up against each other in the crevice." She snorted. "Madam Pompfrey would have really thought the baby was yours if she'd seen that." Harry went scarlet, and she went on, "You do realise what that would make you, don't you?"
"Extremely uncomfortable?" he offered.
She whimpered with barely-restrained sobs of laughter. "It would make you - the - father of - Snape's - child!"
"Oh, shit!" Harry sunk his head in his hands, weeping with laughter. "Oh, no!"
"I can just see it," she blurted. "Rubbing his feet for him."
"Telling him he's radiant. Oh, *Merlin*."
They clung to one another, panting and sighing as their giggles subsided, and they didn't hear Snape's footsteps until he was upon them.
"Something funny, *Potter*?" he sputtered.
Harry and Hermione got to their feet, still clinging to one another. "I was just telling Hermione that she was radiant. Sir." Hermione buried her face in his cloak to muffle the threatening laughter.
Snape's gaze flickered over him with open disdain. "Yes, well, perhaps if you spent less time with Miss Granger and more time concentrating on Muggle studies you may have learned of the consequences of unleashing your adolescent hormones on muggles." He turned to Hermione. "Miss Granger. Madam Pompfrey has informed me that you are taking - certain herbs. Please come and see me, and I shall give you a potion. Its effects will endure after you return home, for the remainder of the summer."
Hermione felt a flush of shame. The last thing she needed was even more contraceptives, but it was a kind thought. And they'd been laughing at him. "I will, Sir. Thank you."
"Thank Madam Pompfrey, Miss Granger. Go to your dormitories, both of you."
They staggered out of the crevice, and they did as he said.
TO BE CONTINUED...