The thing about dream-walking was…
"I have no control." Loki growled at her, baring his clenched teeth while he shredded her blouse. He clawed at her pants, his fingertips snagging at the button and zipper. Hermione didn't bother trying to push him off but searched inward for a trigger to wake herself up.
Wake up, wake up, wake up! She screamed at herself. The scenery changed around them, Stark's lab morphing into the Gryffindor Common Room. She could see people, both dead and alive, sitting on the couches and on the floor, laughing and mingling amongst themselves as Loki forcefully removed her pants.
"Wake up, Hermione!" Loki shouted, his voice hoarse. "Wake up before it's too late."
"Try harder. I can't withdraw. It's not how it works."
Hermione concentrated harder, the background changing again and Loki disappeared. She relaxed in relief, her surroundings now the room she stayed at in Stark Tower. She had just flown back from Costa Rica—
Loki leapt on her and slammed a knife into her chest.
"Apologies," she heard him say.
Hermione's eyes shot open, heart pounding and sweat-soaked. She looked at her clock and read fifteen after six. A little earlier than she'd like, but she might as well get a start on the day. Getting as much work in as possible before she returned to Lima in ten days was the goal. Because once she was back in Costa Rica, she wasn't returning to New York for a long time.
She can't be travelling in her condition.
In the shower, she ran her hands over her pronounced belly, studying the stretch marks and then her fat fingers. She knew some of the pudginess was from basic pregnancy swelling, but she also put on six more pounds the past four weeks. Her healer warned her about gestational diabetes, but hunger plagued her at all hours. Being a pescatarian failed to keep her satisfied in her state. Not that she ate tons of seafood in her state. She craved things she hadn't had since she was a teenager—bacon, sausage, beef, and lamb. Lots of lamb.
Even worse, she had veal two nights ago.
"What do you want this morning, huh?" she asked her belly.
After her shower, she got ready and took the lift down to main floor and walked through the hustle and bustle that was New York City. Thankfully, she didn't have to go far to get to those bloody golden arches, but she did have to wait in line forever. A woman about her age was polite and let Hermione go ahead of her but it merely shaved off two minutes.
While there, she thought she'd be nice and pick up breakfast for everyone and walked out of McDonald's with several paper bags and two cup-trays sporting hot coffee. When she got to the lab, both Tony and Jane were at it hard already.
Oh, yes. Jane woke up from her coma.
And Hermione had to come clean about certain things.
Like how she'd been slipping translations and equations into her work. Jane really had been devastated and not in the least bit grateful. But Hermione hadn't expected her to be. She understood this was Jane's thing. Her dream. Her mission. Her life. She'd been struggling with equations and algorithms for a long time, and then Hermione came along and made her look like an idiot.
"Please stop hiding shit from me," Jane begged. "It's hurting me. Not protecting me."
The time to tell Jane that Hermione was a witch was approaching at a breakneck speed, but Hermione wanted to wait until the whole ordeal was over.
"There's a few more things I need to tell you, but they're going to have to wait. Now isn't the time. You have enough on your plate."
"Breakfast," announced Hermione, enjoying Stark's startled face at seeing bags of McDonald's on one of his smart tables.
"When did you get in?" he asked.
"Last night which leads me to say this'll be my last visit." Hermione drummed her fingers on her belly and then started in on her McGriddle. Jane joined her and found an Egg McMuffin and a coffee.
"How's Daphne?" asked Jane, solemn and needy.
"Mum's taking good care of her, but she wants to see you. She knows something fishy is going on? And I think she's had about enough of my lies."
"I know the feeling," she muttered, jaded, and then busied herself next to Stark who turned his nose up.
"Got a parfait in there?"
"Yes, but it's mine."
Unbothered, he rifled through the bags and found it, digging in without a word.
Soon, Dr. Selvig and Dr. Banner joined them, and all of them dove head first into work. Impatience clawed at all of them, but especially Hermione. The scepter and the gem were still lodged up in her belongings, now buried at the bottom of her trunk. Just when she thought it was Jane and the others were ready for their power source, they had a setback.
Loki instructed her not to hand over the gem until Jane and Stark were completely ready for it. He warned Hermione of the risks of having it out in the open too long. HYDRA would come for it.
That night, she and the others retired early. Everything was about finished, and Hermione planned to tell Loki she thought it time to hand off the gem to Jane.
For the past three months, dream-walking was their way of communicating. Or more like Loki's way of reaching out to her. It still baffled her on how he was able to do it across worlds, but then again, he had to be using a fair amount of what she learned to call 'dark energy.' Conjuring it had to be draining on him, thus, why he usually came to her once, maybe twice, every two weeks.
God knew, it was draining on Hermione. Dream-walking, she learned, had a price. The price being that dreams were unstable and everchanging and influenced the dreamers for the worse.
The first few times Loki tried to reach out to her, Hermione thought she was suffering from wicked terrors brought on by stress. In truth, he was learning how to dream-walk, and he'd quickly lose control merely moments into her dreams. The first attempt could've been worse. He killed Dumbledore but more out of impatience than loss of control. The second attempt had been goddamned horrifying. She had already been in the midst of an odd dream when he came twitching and crawling along like a monster out of a Japanese horror film and shredded Theodore.
Kneading her neck and lower back, Hermione climbed into bed and breathed in and out deeply several times, readying herself. It was unlikely Loki would visit her since he just did so the night previous, but she felt prudent she should prepare.
He didn't visit for five nights and then did so three times in a row.
Hermione got up from her bed, a thin sheen of sweat adorning her skin. Her sleepwear clung to her skin, and her heart drummed violently. The baby kicked.
And then kicked harder.
Several more times.
Hermione winced and pressed a hand into her belly.
The pregnancy wasn't feeling so healthy anymore, and she feared something wrong. The dream-walking was taking a toll, and she had to tell Loki to stop. She had to tell him to stop coming to her. Not just so many times in a row but for good.
Before Hermione jolted awake, Loki wrapped his fingers around her neck and squeezed as he held her under a fast-falling waterfall of acid. Before he turned—and he usually was the first to do so— she told him it was time. Help would be there soon.
Two nights ago, Loki disclosed a party of miscreants and a militia from galaxies away joined in the fight to defeat Thanos who now sat on Odin's throne yielding several of the Infinity Stones. What had kept Thanos from coming for the rest was war. Six realms of Yggdrasil had joined the fight. Armies upon armies were going head to head with the Chitauri.
Last night Loki belayed no one was winning. Death surrounded him. Bombarded him and half as Asgard was in shambles.
Odin, laying vulnerable amid his sleep, died first, and Thor was captured a while ago. Loki believed his brother alive but had no evidence to back the claim.
"Banner will come, won't he?" Loki had asked.
"I think so."
"If he doesn't," he began, "use the scepter. Force him."
"I doubt it'll come to that."
The baby's kicking calmed down, and Hermione got up from the bed to go pee an ocean and get ready for the lab. She had a bit more translating to do, and it was time to present Jane her energy source for fueling her wormhole. It was time to give her the stone.
Dressed and fed, Hermione texted Jane and told her to come see her before going to the lab. Her cousin arrived several minutes later, and the woman's hair was down in such a way to hide the garish scar at her temple.
"I have something for you," she told Jane, going into her closet. She paused when bending down to unlatch her trunk and inhaled sharply. She braced herself on the box and palmed her lower side.
Braxton Hicks, she told herself. The baby wasn't due for a month.
The pain subsided and Hermione opened the trunk, taking out the scepter and shuffling back into the main area where Jane nearly had an aneurysm.
"Holy shit!" Her cousin yanked the scepter from Hermione, eyes wide and transfixed on the stone.
"I couldn't risk anyone getting wind that Loki left that to me," Hermione explained cautiously. "That's going to open your wormhole."
"You had this the whole time? I was yanking my hair out. Scared because I had no idea what I was going to use to…" Her voice trailed off, and her brown eyes rested on Hermione. She let out a long, whistle-like breath through her nose. "I get it. I'm not going to be pissed. This…is amazing."
Jane marched into the lab, scepter in hand and chin stubbornly stuck out. She hovered the weapon above Tony's work station, the man coming unglued at the sight of it, and Dr. Selvig let out a squawk. Banner bounded over, fumbling with his glasses all the while.
"I got us a power source," announced Jane. "We should be in Asgard by the end of the week. Call Steve."
"Where did you—" started Tony.
"Doesn't matter," snapped Jane and forcefully shoved the scepter at Stark. She furrowed her brow at it and then wiped her hands on her lab coat. "Run the analytics. We need to work fast. Hermione, get working on finishing those translations. Dr. Banner and Tony. Start analyzing the stone. Erik and I will continue on Platform and make adjustments as we go."
Jane and Dr. Selvig left the lab to go the roof where their device was which Jane called Platform. Hermione delved into where she left off the night before, and the time got away from them all. Stark and Dr. Banner reveled in the stone's power. They projected the stone's power into a three-dimensional hologram and compared it to JARVIS's programming.
"Ultron," Stark said to Banner, his eyes sharp and satisfied.
Banner pursed his lips, as if considering, and then replied, "Later."
"It could come handy—"
"It'll set us back, Tony."
Stark made a face and then scratched the back of his neck. "But what if there is no later, Banner? What if this is it? What if we go through that hole and all die? Bam! No more Avengers. The world is defenseless."
Dr. Banner said nothing, and Hermione could feel him wavering. Teetering. Leaning into Stark's line of thinking. She had to intervene. She couldn't afford Tony getting deterred or distracted. They were so goddamned close. She was so damned close. Soon she'd see Loki again, and the biggest problem they'd have would be tracking down his wife for that goddamned divorce.
"I don't pretend to know what you two are talking about," began Hermione, "but if it's anything that's going to slow what we've worked so hard—"
"Stay out of it. Oh, and it's obvious it was you who had the scepter—"
"I will take it right back if you use it for anything else besides what we're working for here."
"Wait, you had it this whole time?" accused Banner, his expression one of betrayal. She and him had a polite understanding based on the fact he wasn't an asshole like Tony and she wasn't insane like Loki.
Hermione stood up from her station. "Look, I…Oh!" A sharp, cramping pain hit her, and a gush of wetness soaked her leggings.
Her water broke.
"Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Ohdearohdearohdearohdear—"
"What's wro—" tried Dr. Banner.
"My water broke!"
Dr. Banner's expression morphed into panic and then concern, and she could see him completely forgetting she ever had the scepter. He rushed to her side and encouraged her to sit back down and started rambling off questions.
"Was this your first contraction?"
She shrugged. "I had a few Braxton Hicks earlier. I'm not sure."
"You're not sure?!"
"I'm not due for a month. Oh, God. It's too early." She cupped her head. This was not the plan. She was supposed to be in Costa Rica for the birth. She had a plan. She had a reservation with an expensive mid-wife, and Theo and her mum was supposed to be there. She needed to call them!
"When was the last one?"
"A couple of hours ago, I guess." She grabbed her phone and sent both her mum and Theo a text.
Dr. Banner nodded. "All right. That's good. Gives us time to get you to the base."
"I'll fire the chopper," offered Tony. "JARVIS!"
"Sir, I strongly advise—"
"—that we go by vehicle," finished Banner. "It's snowing hard outside."
Hermione sent a third text to Jane telling her the situation. Immediately, she called and yelled, "You've got to be fucking kidding me? Now? The baby's coming now? But we're—"
"Keep at it," Hermione instructed. "I'll be fine."
Jane went silent. "Hermione, you were right there when Daphne was born. I can't not be there when your little girl comes. I'll be down."
Because Jane was leaving, the rest of the men had to stay and make up for the loss. Happy, Stark's body guard, drove the limo. He was a nice bloke but maybe took everything too seriously. He, too, had JARVIS available to him and made use of it to get them out of New York City as fast as possible. They were making good time, but Hermione was laying down, having endured two more contractions since her water broke.
"God, they really do hurt," groaned Hermione. Her phone buzzed for the umpteenth time, and Jane frowned at the screen.
"It's Theodore. He's on his way with your mom and dad. They just got to the airport." The woman sighed. "I can't have Daphne here. Not when I'm so close." She shook her head. "I'll deal with it."
The vehicle came to a stop, and Hermione watched Jane peek out the window, her features twisting into horror. "Shit." She then looked back and swore again. "Hermione."
"What? What's wrong?"
The divider lowered, and Happy jumped in before Jane could. "Traffic jam. Eight car pile-up a quarter mile ahead of us. I'm calling Tony to arrange that helicopter. We're looking at no other choice."
Just then another contraction hit, and Jane checked her watch. "That's not even fifteen. Seven minutes."
The next four contractions were seven minutes steady, and there was no helicopter to be seen. When Hermione got her fourth contraction, five minutes had passed from the last, and Hermione couldn't help but cry because why not? Loki wasn't there, Thor could be dead, an intergalactic war was going on, the baby didn't give two fucks, and her mum wasn't there!
"The storm's not letting up. We can't get that ride," said Happy, his tone exasperated. Hermione pictured him rubbing his face and then finger-combing his hair in frustration. "We don't have a hospital for four blocks."
Another contraction hit, the worst one yet. Hermione was down to three minutes, and she brushed Jane's fingers away from her forehead. Her cousin had been trying to comfort her, but it was time to get real.
"Jane, take off my shoes and help me get my pants off."
Her cousin stilled, her mouth falling open and then snapped shut. She nodded and pushed a button on her armrest that put up the divider before divesting Hermione of her shoes, leggings, and underwear. Jane swallowed thickly and stared between Hermione's legs.
"How's it look down there?"
Jane let out a shaky oh sound and then whipped out her phone. "Siri? How do I fucking deliver a baby?"
"Fucking may lead to a baby delivery," chirped Siri.
"Oh, you've got to be kidding." Jane threw her phone. "I can do this. I did this. I had a baby, so we can get through this."
"You only have to worry about catching the baby." Hermione gasped and dug her fingers into the leather upholstery of the seat. Her vaginal walls and womb shuddered and screamed at her to push, but she knew it was still too soon. Three contractions later, all of them less than thirty seconds apart, and Jane could see the top of the head.
"She's crowning. I think you're good to push."
Sweat pooled in the hollow of Hermione's throat and pain ripped through her as she pushed. The pain was so intense, she nearly blacked out. Dots filled her vision, but Jane wasn't having any of it. She dug her fingertips into Hermione's calves.
"Two more. You can do it. One. Two. Three. Push!"
Hermione howled and fell back on the seat, exhausted, and incredibly distraught. Her chin trembled, and Jane commanded her to push again.
"One more time. She's almost here, Hermione."
Sobbing, she shook her head. "I can't."
"Yes, you can."
Something triggered inside Hermione, and she felt the need to turn over and get on all fours. Jane helped her to the floor, and Hermione pressed her arms against the door, using that to help her push. She lifted her leg to the side and felt her child leave her followed by the amniotic sac.
Her brain began to fuzz, and her eyelids drooped but then she heard the pitiful, disheartened sound of her baby's cry and something divine burst inside of her. She managed to get on her back and saw Jane holding a wriggling, gunk-covered baby in her jacket. Jane's eyes were glazed, astonished and yet hinting at anxiety.
"Hermione," she said, handing over the child. "It's a boy."
Beneath the joy of finally bearing a child, there had been a fear that plagued Hermione. A fear stemming from the knowledge of Loki's true parentage. She had never indulged Loki on his insistence their baby would be an abomination and even perhaps hurt her as her body strived to incubate and grow it, but a part of her wondered if he was right. Underneath that pretty façade of his was a Jotunn.
Throughout the pregnancy, her fears lessened. Aside from the third trimester being hell with the dream-walking and gaining two more stones, the fetus developing normally comforted her. For the most part.
Yes, she worried about her kid being blue, all right?
Hermione took her newborn son from Jane, a strangled breath escaping her. Underneath her fluid and blood was a shivering and pale, pinkish baby boy.
She let out a soft but incredulous laugh as she swaddled the child, careful to work around the umbilical cord. "Oh, my God."
"Yeah," Jane said, breathless.
"I have son."
"I didn't bother finding out for obvious reasons. We don't have boys." Hermione nestled her son to her chest, wishing to remove her shirt and do the whole skin-to-skin thing. A hunger to feel him overtook her, and she asked Jane to help her remove the rest of her clothes. The moment his clammy, sticky, and albeit wrinkly skin touched her sternum, a potent wave of love crashed into her, and tears slipped down her cheeks. Never in her life had she been so happy than in that moment.
Hermione wished to not stay at the base longer than necessary. Her parents, Daphne, and Theo were flying to New York, and the Avengers' base is not a place where she wanted any of them to be. Her parents were likely expecting her to be at a hospital, and Hermione hoped to be at Nott's flat by the time the whole party lands at JFK. But that would likely be out of the cards.
The medical practitioners at the base wanted to run tests, having heard rumors the baby's heritage wasn't one-hundred percent human. They wanted to take blood and saliva samples and run him through all kinds of scans, especially after they took his temperature, resting steady for two hours at ninety-three degrees. It then spiked to ninety-six for forty minutes and then plummeted to eighty-eight after nursing for the first time.
Hermione was a practical woman. She knew the importance of the tests and even yearned to know the results. But. But, she couldn't risk any samples falling into the wrong hands. She allowed a nurse to administer the appropriate vaccinations, and Jane made sure the needles were disposed of accordingly.
"You'll need to check the bilirubin in no more than a week's time," pressed Dr. Cho. "I can oversee it personally and dispose of the collections myself."
"I'll think about it," supplied Hermione, distrust dripping from her tongue.
The woman sighed and glanced at one of her assistance, helpless but encouraging. The younger woman stepped forward and scribbled some things down on a data pad. "Do you have a name for him? We have to report it to the state records."
The question didn't necessarily surprise Hermione. Since she held her son, names upon names ran across her mind to replace the one she decided on weeks ago.
"He doesn't look so much like a Helena Jane," remarked Jane. "What about your dad?"
She could name him after her father, Hermione supposed. Studying her son's features, he could be a Daniel…maybe. In honesty, she'd like Loki's input. Especially since she wasn't entirely sure what last name to give him. They never talked about it. All he said about the name Helena Jane in the midst of one of their dream-walking sequences was that he planned to call her Hel.
Hermione reflected on how Daphne got slotted with a name which was both thoughtful and a mouthful—Daphne Hermia Eerika Thorsdottir.
Unable to give a name as of yet and despite Dr. Cho's insistence she needed to rest, Hermione left the base that night with Jane and returned to the Avengers' Tower. Stark was kind of enough to arrange her parents a suite at the Four Seasons, and Happy would be picking them up from the JFK at one o'clock in the morning. Over the phone, Theo explained he'd rather situate himself out. He'd hitch a cab to his flat, no worries, and be at the Four Seasons for brunch at ten sharp.
Arriving back at the Tower with one more person than she left with, Hermione managed to make it to her floor without much of a fuss. Baby Boy Granger (his name for the time being) was swaddled and snuggled and buckled in a brand-new carrier. Jane fiddled with her phone to get the whole thing on a video.
"And here we are at your mommy's," she cooed, adjusting the diaper backpack straps on her shoulders. The elevator door opened, and she said, "He's kinda cute, you know? And little. I don't think Daphne was that small."
Hermione put the carrier on the coffee table and gingerly unbuckled her son. "He was early. He'll catch up." She checked her new watch, something Dr. Cho gave her to keep track of breastfeeding, explaining it was just to help feed him as often as possible. Wake him if needs be. Twenty minutes on each side for the first week.
"Are you hungry, muffin?" she asked her knocked-out kid. She kissed his forehead, inhaling his perfect scent as well as eyeing his adorable wisps of dark hair. The temperature of his skin did kind of throw her. He wasn't exactly cold, but he didn't feel liquid-y warm like most babies do.
Situating herself on the couch, she yanked up her sweater and pulled at the flaps of her hideous new nursing bra and obliged to what the nursing specialist told her. She shoved her boob quite aggressively into her son's mouth. Jane snorted while going through the backpack's goodies, bragging how Daphne was an easy latch.
"Like a vacuum, that kid. Slooop!" Jane removed the plastic-wrapped stack of Luvs and rolled her eyes. "Well, that'll last you the night. What else is in here? Oh, good. Diaper cream and powder. Hmm, fancy. Mommy tea to get your milk all nice and milky. Vitamins. Some formula. Teeny tiny bottles. A burp rag and portable changing mat. Oh, a single white onesie that says Oops on it."
Hermione sputtered. "What?"
Jane turned the onesie, so Hermione could see. Sure enough, in glossy blue letters the word Oops was spelled out. She then grinned impishly. "Maybe that's what you should name him."
"But it's Daphne's nickname—"
"Shush your mouth."
Hermione laughed and then groaned in pain. They never tell you how unpleasant breastfeeding can be.
"Just wait until he starts teething," teased Jane.
Jane stayed with Hermione for the entire night. They both laid on the bed, the baby between them, none of them getting much sleep. Every ninety minutes to two hours, Hermione had to nurse. By the third round, exhaustion settled in. Not a sleepy type of an exhaustion but something deeper. Aches began to blossom and sweat beaded at her temples. She exhaled and let her head fall back on the pillow while Jane's fingers flew across the keyboard of her laptop.
"I don't feel bad for you," Jane said.
"I knew it was going to be this way," Hermione replied defensively.
"But you don't really know until boom! You got a baby." Jane's typing slowed and she clocked a glance at the boy. "When this mess is all over and things get back to normal. I think Thor and I are going to go for another."
Hermione arched a brow. "I thought you said you were done."
There was a pause, and then Jane shifted and shut her laptop. "Don't take this wrong way. Don't think I'm mad at you."
Her cousin curled her knees to the side of her, and faced Hermione. "I think Thor's going to freak out when he sees…that." She points at the baby. "Because…it means Daphne won't be inherit."
"She'll be qu—"
"No, she won't. And it's not up to Thor alone to change the laws. The council would have to back the notion. It would have to be unanimous. It's not just some law or bill. It would be changing ever—"
"It's Loki's illegitimate son. They're going to go for your kid—"
"Not when Asgard favors male leaders. And even if Thor decided to go against the council and gives the throne to her, it would be in your kid's right to usurp her."
"Are we really having this conversation, Jane?"
"Yes!" Jane's expression turned stormy. "This isn't a joke because…what if I can't?"
Jane swallowed, and her cheeks started to pink. "What if I can't give Thor a son?"
Brows knitting together, Hermione asked, "Has he ever told you he wanted one?"
"Has he ever told you he wanted more kids?"
"When you told Thor I was pregnant, did he seem worried about his legacy at all?"
She shook her head.
"Is it occurring to you that you're fretting over nothing?"
Hermione exhaled, soft and slow. "I'm going to direct this conversation off to the left. Don't take it the wrong way. Don't think I'm mad at you."
Jane almost smiled.
"Thor may not care I have a son. It may not bother him Daphne won't be queen because he now has a nephew who's entitled to that inheritance, and that's just the way life is."
"But it's Loki's—"
"He's not going to see my kid as a threat or ticking time bomb because I'm the mom. He knows I'm not going to let him grow up to be a wanker."
Jane nodded, her expression turning pensive. After a while, she confessed, "I don't want anymore kids. I want Daphne to be queen, and I want your son to be content as a prince and a high-functioning member of the council."
Hermione dipped her chin, considering her cousin's words. "I don't want him to be king."
"I want our babies to be friends."
"I want it to be known," started Hermione, "from early on, the next in line for the throne will be Daphne. We are not doing what your in-laws did."
Jane still looked upset. "Loki's not going to like this."
"I'll deal with him." The baby made keening sound, and Hermione smiled fondly down at him. "Won't I? Because Mummy's in charge, huh? Not Daddy."
Brunch at the Four Seasons went...well... not great.
Helena Granger swooped in to embrace her daughter tightly and then hastily but gently removed her grandson from his carrier, making quick work of kissing every part of his sleeping face.
"He's so handsome," gushed Hermione's mum. "And little! What was his weight again?"
"Five pounds, thirteen ounces," pitched Jane, a grabby Daphne on her lap. The girl made an attempt to grab at her mom's coffee which Theo smoothly blocked from the sidelines.
"Where's Lukas?" asked Daniel Granger.
"He'll be here tomorrow. He's stuck in Oslo. He's in the thick of a case," Hermione said.
"Bjorn's in it with him, too," added Jane.
"He should be here," chided Helena. "He's got a baby. This isn't looking promising, Hermione. Jane, I'm starting to feel the same way about you and Bjorn. You think I'd receive a call from him at least once now that I'm taking care of his daughter."
Her husband sighed deeply. "What she means to say is that she's done taking anymore bullshit, young ladies."
"This is turning into a private ordeal-" Theo got up to leave.
"No, you stay," ordered Helena, shifting her grandson in her arms. "You stay and tell my daughter how you feel and tell her she deserves better and so does her boy. And you," she pointed to Jane. "I've put up a lot from you, Jane Creusa Foster. Your flightiness for one thing. Your complete lack of respect for you mother's traditions. An elopement, for God's sake! The dishonor. My mother would've had a stroke, God rest her soul. And let us mention how we rarely hear from you on holidays-"
"Auntie, please." Jane winced. "This is a time to celebrate. Not an opportunity get something off your chest. Hermione just had a miracle baby."
It was as if, Helena hadn't heard her niece. She zeroed in on her daughter. "And it's time for you to tell her, Hermione."
"I agree," both Daniel and Theo said in unison.
"Tell me what?"
"Later, I promise." Hermione pinched the bridge of her nose and shot Theo a glance of despair. He put his hand her forearm, squeezing and she gave him a strained smile.
"Hel," tried Daniel.
Jane stroked Daphne's curly blonde hair, her mouth set in a shamed frown. "Hermione, maybe we should tell them." She looked at her cousin and then at tilted her chin at Theo. "Does he know?"
"What do you mean almost?" Theo hissed.
"Lukas," Jane said knowingly.
"Mum. Dad, Theo and I have to talk about something. Then when I come back, all of us are going to have brunch and then go to the room and have a talk." She shot a sad look at Theo. "Maybe all of us."
Hermione got up from the table and walked out of the restaurant. She shot down to the lobby and sat down on a sofa. The area was populated and hoped that would work in her favor, although, Theo wasn't above beating the shit out of her in public.
Putting a hand on her chest, she thought about how much she'd prefer a harsh slap or being shoved to the ground than what he'd be more likely to do.
She was reminded of what Stark told her months ago. How it'd be unwise for her to return to Earth after settling in Asgard.
Theo sat down beside her, and she reached for his hands. She interlaced her fingers with his, and then she knew what she was going to name her son. Regardless of how this ended.
"I love you, you know," she told him.
His fingers tightened around hers, and his mouth opened and then shut. A dozen emotions spilled over his face, and soon his features settled on one of resignation. "What do you have to tell me, really?"
"The truth. All of it. I thought I'd start with the easy part. Because what comes after, it's going to be hard. Not just for me." Hermione lowered her gaze to their intertwined hands. "I'll start where I first went to Asgard."
To be Continued...
A/N: Bet you thought I abandoned ship. :)
Thank you all to have been patient, and I hope you enjoyed the chapter.