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Chapter 2: bridges burning softly in the night
Hermione awoke with a start her body drenched in sweat. She felt as if she was floating in a dark haze as she tried to orient herself to her surroundings. Her head felt like it was on fire and there was a distinct pain behind her eyes. She struggled to push herself up and became quickly aware that she was not in her bedroom at home. Feeling dizzy from trying to get up, she collapsed back on to the bed and frantically tried to locate her wand. Exhausted from the little movement she attempted, she made the decision to keep still and rest instead of struggling in vain. Noticing a glass of water on the side table she shakily tried to reach for it, but a sudden bolt of pain in her back sent her hand crashing against the glass, which promptly hit the ground in the distinct sound of breaking glass.
She braced herself. The sound of footsteps came closer and suddenly she was even more desperate to not be in such a vulnerable position. Mustering every ounce of strength, she tried to climb up and out of the grand bed. Already dizzy, she felt herself starting to fall as the doors burst open and a pair of steady hands grabbed her before she could fall to the floor.
“Granger, your survival instincts are commendable, but do try to not play the hero for once - sometimes trying not to be the hero is necessary to survive,” floated a familiar voice above her laced with part scolding and part amusement. Her eyes were shut as she allowed herself to be settled back into the bed. She felt a cool hand on her forehead and then the blanket being pulled up around her. Feeling silly with her eyes still closed she slowly opened them ready to face the floating voice.
“Malfoy?” she said shakily and disbelief.
His grey eyes met hers.
“Of all the doorsteps in all the world, you had to collapse on mine,” he quipped almost like he had been waiting a long time to use that line.
Hermione was on the brink of saying a million things, but stopped short and gaped at him.
Malfoy sighed, “I don’t hate Muggles anymore, I’m not running covert Death Eater operations under the guise of my corporation and I no longer use the “M” word.”
She looked at him somewhat deflated and said, “I know. I’m sorry I collapsed on your doorstep. If you can arrange to Floo me to St. Mungo’s, I can be out of your way.”
Now it was Malfoy’s turn to gape.
“Merlin, you must be sick - I’ve never heard you so…docile. Granger we need to up your potions!” he sounded panicked as he reached for a few vials on the bedside table.
“Malfoy,” she said quietly and he stopped dead in his tracks and turned to her, “honestly, it has been nice of you to help me, but really, I can go to St. Mungo’s and they can help me out - I think a healer would be more qualified for this.”
He smirked at her. She thought it was meant to be a smile, but after years of being around Draco Malfoy, his smile would always look like a smirk to her.
“My dear Granger,” he began sitting down by her feet, “you really have been out of society haven’t you? I have all the Healer qualifications - even if I do not work at St. Mungo’s I am perfectly capable of administering potions to you and diagnosing your symptoms.”
Her jaw dropped again. It was true, she had been out of society for a long time, all because of…Her eyes burned with tears and she blinked furiously to stop them from falling in front of her former enemy. He must have noticed a change in her behaviour because he started speaking again.
“I don’t think its wise to move you out of the room at the moment. I know this is the last place you would want to be, but with storm still going strongly for the next few days, its probably best for you not to Floo or apparate anyways,” he said pacing the floor as if giving a lecture, “Would you like me to contact your husband and explain the situation…”
“No!” cried Hermione quickly and winced in pain, “He’s not in the country for a few days so we do not need to worry him, he usually does not check in anyways.”
“Okay Granger, but what about one of your friends - I would prefer not to have a witch hunt, wizard in this case, at my front door if they think you are missing. I can even contact Potter…” he trailed off as she shot up again.
“No,” she heaved catching her breath, “If you help me to the Floo, I can just contact him and let him know I am okay. Please, if he hears from you he’ll probably show up with the rest of the Wizarding World anyways.”
He stared at her hard for a moment, his face unreadable. Nodding, he withdrew his wand and levitated her over to the fireplace where he deposited her gently on the cushions placed by it. He walked over to the door and opened it.
“I’ll go get you something to eat. I will be back in 5 minutes,” he said to her before exiting the room.
It was at that moment that Hermione let the tears she had been holding in for the past few minutes fall freely. She laid herself down on the cushion, exhausted and feeling even worse than when she woke up. Not wanting Malfoy to know the truth, she had few options. She could not go back to her place and she could not go to Harry’s or Ron’s or even Ginny’s. She did not feel she had it in her to insist on going to St. Mungo’s and she could not believe she was considering staying at Malfoy’s for the next few days. He would not ask questions and she would not be missed by anyone. If she insisted on going to Mungo’s, someone might recognize her there, and that could create more problems. Sighing, she pushed herself up and wiped her eyes just in time as Malfoy came back through the door.
Setting the tray down, he levitated her slowly back to the bed, not saying a word, his eyes watching her so intently that she had to look away. He tucked her back into the bed and brought the tray over. There was a steaming bowl of soup and another glass of water - she noted he must have scourgified the last glass earlier as there were no remnants on the floor.
She picked up the spoon and expected him to leave as he had not said a word, but he surprised her by pulling a chair up to her bed and depositing himself in it. He started watching her intently again. Feeling uncomfortable she busied herself with the soup.
After a moment or two she felt like she needed to speak up to break the silence.
“Uh, Malfoy, thanks for this - you don’t have to keep me company,” she said awkwardly.
“Did you get in contact with Potter?” he asked suddenly, not even acknowledging she spoke.
“Oh, yeah, I explained it to him,” she said dismissively hoping to graze over the topic.
His eyes narrowed, “And he was okay with it - he didn’t want to show up here and threaten to curse me?”
She swallowed the hot soup almost burning her throat.
“Yeah, of course..” she said her voice high, “But I convinced him that everything was okay and that you’ve been kind enough to see me through this…”
She had trailed off, feeling the ridiculousness of her own response. Malfoy rolled his eyes and looked a little frustrated.
“Yeah, well wouldn’t want to have the death of a War Hero on my hands along with everything else…” he muttered sarcastically sounding like his teenager self.
Hermione chose to ignore that comment and simply continued to eat.
He looked at her again and said, “Do you want me to send a house elf to your place to bring you some of your things…”
She nearly choked on her water.
“That really won’t be necessary Malfoy,” she said lamely, “If you do not mind me using this nightgown for the next couple of days, I won’t be leaving this room anyway and I can just scourgify this…”
Malfoy stood straight up with an angry look on his face. He seemed to get a hold of himself and reached into his pocket and put two vials on her tray.
“Take those and try to get some rest,” he said gruffly before turning sharply and leaving her in the room.