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"Much as we may wish to make a new beginning,
some part of us resists doing so as though we
were making the first step toward disaster.”

~ William Bridges

Thursday, March 29th ~*~ Late morning and early afternoon

The formerly cool flannel that had been pressed to against the back of her neck had been discarded, yet Daphne continued to lay on the couch in her office. She stared up at the ceiling, and went over everything in her head one more time.

There couldn't be any confusion or doubt, not with something this important.

The signs had been easy to dismiss until this morning, Daphne had managed to come up with explanations for everything... Until Miguel set the platter of raw oysters between them so that they could prep the delicacies for the dinner rush. In all her years working with food, Daphne had never reacted so...

She swallowed hard, the bad taste still there at the back of her throat.

How can I be this hopeful and frightened at the same time? Daphne looked down to see her hand had come to rest against her stomach as if to protect what might be.

Harry had assured her that he did want a child, he was just scared, but this wasn't the most ideal circumstances. She was terrified too, although probably for different reasons.

Would she be a good mother? Would Harry eventually resent her and the baby, too many changes in too short of time? What if, as Harry feared, something were to happen to their child?

All of that scared her to death, but even greater was the fear that she was reading the signs wrong and that there wasn't a new life inside her.

She knew she couldn't say anything to Harry, not yet. Not until she knew for certain, one way or another. Disappointing him would break her heart.

I can't not tell anyone, I'll lose my mind.

It had been at least an hour since she'd gotten ill, and even though her thoughts were chaotic and her stomach was a little uneasy, there was work to be done.

She sat behind the desk and quickly scribbled out two letters - one to her doctor to ask for an appointment, and the other to Vera Vector.
Vector read the note and thought nothing of it — of course she could go meet Daphne following her afternoon class with the Fifth Years.

Soon enough she was knocking softly on the office door the restaurant's hostess had escorted her to.

"Daphne? You wished to see me?"
"Vera?!" For a moment, Daphne looked confused, then the events of the morning that she'd worked hard to push out of her mind came rushing back and her gaze flew to the time piece on her desk.

"That's right, I did want to talk to you. Please, come in, come in. Have a seat." She pointed toward the couch, and came around the desk to join Vera. "Are you hungry, would you like something? I forgot about lunch and I was going to get a sandwich and some biscuits for tea."
"Far be it from me," Vera replied as she took a seat on the couch and crossed her legs, "To ever say no to an offer of food from here."

She tilted her head and smiled at Daphne.

"Busy today? Everything went well while you were gone, I hope — which of course you must tell me all about. Within reason."
She stuck her head out the door and caught the attention of one of the waitresses to ask for the tea things to be brought to her office.

"Very busy. With Rose quitting, and my completely unplanned for honeymoon... Well, Miguel and the others did the best that they could, but I've not only got to catch up on what they couldn't do, I owe a few people some extra time off to make up for the hours they put in above and beyond their normal schedule."

Not that Daphne begrudged them the time - and not one of them had actually asked for extra vacation - she wanted to give it to them as a thank you. Unfortunately, working it all out was adding to her already large list of things to do.

"The trip was amazing. Beautiful places I've never seen before, lots of exotic foods that were to die for. And of course the usual honeymoon things... like shopping."

Daph smiled at the waitress who brought them a tray, and took it from her, gently shutting the door after she was gone with her hip and placing the tray on the table in front of the couch.
"It'll work out." Vera nodded sympathetically at the thought of juggling all those schedules — but had to smirk as she helped herself to a cucumber sandwich. "I imagine your biggest challenge will be getting Harry to agree to your working more for a bit."

"You might even need a bit of a rest after all that ... shopping."
"Oh yeah, there was a lot of shopping." Heat flooded her cheeks even as she laughed. Daphne sat next to her friend and reached for a sandwich for herself.

The merriment faded as she ate, stalling for a moment as she tried to work out what to say.

"Actually, something that happened before we left is why I asked you to come. I - know you had a -," she looked down at her hands because she felt uncomfortable bringing up the fae in front of Vera.

"What I mean is, I think there's a chance I'm pregnant and I don't want anyone else to know until I know, especially Harry, but I really need someone else to talk to who understands."
She'd put her hand out to pick up a cup of tea while Daphne elaborated ... but then Vera's hand drifted back to her lap. Her head went back as if she'd been slapped, and the color drained from her face.

"I ... I see," Vera rigidly responded, trying to maintain her composure.

She hadn't noticed before how cold Daphne kept her office.

"But I don't see how I can help. The circumstances are really nothing alike. Nothing."

Vera didn't mean to sound angry — it was a good thing that the circumstances were completely different.

Or are they?

"Why especially Harry?"
Vera was upset, and Daphne knew she could have approached it better.

"I'm sorry, it's just you're the only person I know who... Anyway, this wasn't planned. As a matter of fact, it's the complete opposite of what we planned."

Daphne looked longingly at her tea, but knew her hands were shaking too much to risk picking up the cup. "I would appreciate it if what I'm about to say didn't leave the room, there are far to many people interested in Harry Potter's private life as it is. Harry doesn't want to risk having children, right now, or possibly ever."

She swallowed carefully and continued. "Not that he doesn't want a child, he does. He's just scared and worried about what will happen once the world realizes that there's a small, defenseless way to get back at the man who killed You-Know-Who, and worse, what we would do if something were to happen to this child."

Skipping the tea, Daphne snagged a biscuit and broke it in half, offering one side to Vera. "Before we got married he needed me to swear that there wouldn't be an 'accidental' pregnancy. No babies until he was ready, and he wanted me to be damn sure that I knew that time may never come."
Vera murmured a promise to keep her friends' secret, and accepted Daphne's offering.

Memories of last August were trying to resurface, but only flashes came through. The pattern of the carpet in the waiting room, the clinical smell. Almost everything else had simply never penetrated in the first place; she'd spent each visit lost in a frozen rage, clutching Roger's hand as a lifeline and only speaking the bare minimum to the Healers, in a voice carefully modulated to sound normal.

She opened her mouth to speak a couple of times, then thought better each time, until:

"If he was so certain, so scared, then why wasn't he taking a potion or other measures to prevent pregnancy? Why in Hades should you have had to swear?"

An "accidental" pregnancy. The very idea angered Vera: that somehow the entire responsibility had been dumped onto Daphne, and now she seemed uncertain of going to her husband for the kind of support that had in Vera's case been the only thing to sustain her though the fortnight of not knowing.

Rarely in her life had food seemed so unappetizing. Vera tossed the uneaten half of the biscuit down on the plate.

"If you like, I'll go with you to St. Mungo's. The name of the Healer I went to will be in my journal. He was ... kind."
"Please, don't be mad at Harry. It's hard for me to explain, and I'm sure I'm not doing it well, but at the time we were both really emotional, and Harry has his reasons, and that's good enough for me." She smiled slightly to show she was grateful that Vera cared.

"He did offer to use those Muggle condoms, he's not a complete arse. But by then it was too little, too late. I wasn't expecting to have sex when I showed up at Glen Hollow, and I sure as heck wasn't expecting to get married, so the potion I normally take got delayed by a good half a day, which Snape so kindly assured me meant that for at least a few hours we were unprotected."

"Harry doesn't blame me for the delay, if anyone I think he blames himself. And he realizes what could have happened. I just - don't want to get his hopes up, and push him to deal with his fears, and then find out that I'm not. If that makes any sense. What I'm saying is I would really appreciate it if you went with me to St. Mungo's, because I don't want to go alone, but I have to be sure before I tell Harry."
Bloody right he should blame himself.

Oh, Harry was too emotional to think of long-term contraception but at least he'd offered to use condoms. Such a sacrifice — they hadn't seemed so bad, in fact Vector had been quite appreciative of them back in her early 20s before expanding her dating pool to include wizards.

Vera pinched the bridge of her nose to calm down — being angry at Harry wouldn't help Daphne, and so she'd simply have to let it go. For now.

"Of course. We'll go together."

When she had gone to the Healers, the sole question had been whether a termination procedure was necessary or not. There had been no possibility of a "good" outcome; only a null one.

At least Daphne had made reference to a hopeful outcome here — but given everything else she'd said, Vera had to ask, quietly, "Daphne? What are you hoping to hear when we do?"
"That I'm going to be a mother." That answer came easily and without thought.

"It's not the best situation, and the timing is - I mean I just got married. If I'm not, then we're back to were we were when we decided to get married, and children will be something to think about in the future, maybe. But if I am, this could be the only one. An unexpected blessing."

She took a deep breath. "I don't know how quite Harry's going to react at first, but I know that he'll love me and our baby. You know, assuming there is one and I'm not just coming down with the flu. Which would be extremely embarrassing now that I've dropped all this emotional stuff on you, if I found out I just ate some bad clams or something."

Daphne knew she was trying to lighten the moment.
"Well then, Mrs. Potter." Vera dabbed at her eyes and began to smile. "Tell me when the appointment is, and when this is over I hope I'll have cause to thank you for giving me a very positive assocation to that office in St. Mungo's."

She stood up and held out her arms for a hug.

"Somehow I trust the finest chef in the area to know when it's bad clams or not."