Chapter 1 : The Beginning
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He ruffled the comforter on his bed a little bit. He had been here for days. He wondered how much longer he’d have to stay in the wretched little hospital bed. Sometimes it was weeks, sometimes months.
He tried to look on the bright side of things which, Draco’d never been good at, but nonetheless, the fact that he didn’t have to undergo any treatment today was a definite plus.
The reason why Draco had treatment any day at all was because of a bad turn a spell had taken at him. It had happened at the battle at Hogwarts of course, just as every other witch’s or wizard’s injuries had recently. That was three years ago, and he still wasn’t sure who had done it, but he was almost certain it had been a Death Eater. At any rate, because of whoever it was, his body was slowly falling apart. He was, quite simply, being murdered slowly.
He hated what was happening to him. He’d been just as glad when the war had ended as any of the Order members had. All he wanted was a normal life and by that he meant a life of riches and a high social standing which he figured he’d inherit from his father someday. Now none of that would ever be his, and besides, his family’s reputation was in ruins. His mother never got invited to those fancy parties and balls she loved so much anymore.
Pain was flooding into his body now which Draco knew meant that one of his vitals was deteriorating a little bit at the moment. He sighed, and pushed the button telling the nurses’ station he needed more pain-killing potion.
Five minutes later a young witch walked in and before Draco could see her face, she turned and put down a tray so that her back was facing him. Draco studied what he could see and decided he liked it. If only he were well. He would have liked to be able to take her home with him sometime, but he just didn’t have the energy for that sort of thing anymore.
The witch picked up the mixed potion on the tray and rotated on the spot to hand it to him. Draco took the smoking cup and grimaced. “I hate this stuff,” he said.
When the girl didn’t say anything to that Draco got annoyed. He hated when people didn’t respond to him. Draco looked up at the witch standing above him intending to reprimand her, but when he saw her face, he found he couldn’t say anything at all.
“Malfoy,” the witch said simply. The look on her face was not of surprise but rather, pity.
“Granger?” Draco yelped. “What the hell are you doing here?”
Hermione looked at him like he was stupid. “I work here,” she responded shortly. “Obviously,” she said gesturing to her name badge which read ‘Hello! I’m Hermione. How can I help you?’ and then transitioned through some sort of spell to read ‘Questions? I have answers!’ Draco snickered.
“I wouldn’t laugh if I were you. I know your family used their very last ties to get you this private room. What’s it like to fall so fast from glory?” Hermione mused. “I guess you and I aren’t so different now.”
“Don’t ever speak to me like that again Granger! You’re still just a mudblood to me,” Draco fumed. If he wasn’t in so much pain he’d have hexed her by now. Hermione seemed to realize this, and once again, Draco saw that dreaded pitying look in her eyes.
Hermione said softly, “Turns out the mudbloods won the war against your kind Malfoy. I wouldn’t say being a mudblood is such an insult anymore. I’m a mudblood and proud of it.”
Draco couldn’t think of a retort to that; she was right, they had won the war. But still, she was a mudblood and all the connotations that came with it! “I’ll be telling my parents about this. I’ll get a different Healer.”
“You can’t do that. I’m on special orders to take care of you,” she rolled her eyes. “I’m no happier about it than you are. Trust me.”
“Well, I’ll be getting out of here in a week or two, and then my own Healer will take care of me at home.”
Hermione sighed, “Actually, I’ll be your Healer at home as well.”
“What?” Draco yelped.
“You can run and tell your parents about this if you want Malfoy, but you’ll find they already know. The Ministry wants to keep an eye on the families who took part in the war on the wrong side. Since I’m an Auror and trained to heal they seem to think I’m the perfect one to keep an eye on the Malfoys considering the state of their only son,” Hermione said calmly. “Seems the Ministry is unaware of our history together.”
The pain was becoming unbearably now so Draco downed the potion in one swig. He groaned.
“Are you alright?” Hermione said in a dry tone. She obviously didn’t care one way or another.
“Yes, I’m perfectly fine Granger. Oh, except for the fact that I’m dying,” Draco said the last word venomously.
“We all are.”
“Some faster than others,” Draco shot back.
“Wizards better than you died because of the war,” Hermione huffed. “I don’t feel sorry for you.” It was strange though because even Draco could see in her eyes that she clearly did. And he wasn’t sure why. He’d never done anything to merit her concern.
“Yes you do,” he commented.
“Only because you’ve never done anything in your life to make the world a better place. You’ve only ever caused destruction and pain. No one will remember you, and I think that’s sad,” Hermione said. “Death is only something to dread if you know you have nothing to look forward to in the afterlife.”
Draco turned his back on her. “Get out of my room Granger.”
Hermione shrugged. “Gladly. And by the way, it’s Weasley now. Hermione Weasley.”
But before she left, she turned to say one more thing. “Thank you.”
And for the life of him Draco couldn’t figure out why.
“He’s awful,” Hermione told Ron.
“What did you expect?” Ron shrugged. “People like him just don’t change. Even when changing is the only thing that could possibly make them happy in a situation like his.”
“I feel sorry for him,” Hermione admitted.
“My dad says that curse that him is the worst possible thing to happen to someone. Dying is one thing but living in constant fear of death is another.”
“It just makes me remember how very happy I am we both have our health, and we still have each other,” Ron smiled at his wife. Hermione kissed him softly on the cheek.
I wonder if he has anyone who loves him like Ron loves me, Hermione thought. She knew from Harry’s accounts that Malfoy’s parents obviously cared a great deal about him, but that was different. It wasn’t the same as what you experience with someone who chooses to love you but doesn’t have to.
Hermione knew that Malfoy would be going home in a few short days. The reason he had been at St. Mungo in the first place was because the muscles in his legs were deteriorating. He’d have to use a cane soon and after that, a wheelchair. Hermione wasn’t sure how long it would take for him to lose all use of his legs; it could be months, could be days. It was hard to tell because Malfoy didn’t seem to remember who had hit him with the curse or where. If it was a direct hit the curse would work rapidly. He would be gone in a year, maybe less.
She also knew that she’d be with him up until that point. As an Auror it was her responsibility to watch the family as a whole, but as a Healer she needed to make sure Malfoy was okay. Hermione promised herself that meant she’d make sure he was in as small amount of pain as possible. She wouldn’t get close to him, she wouldn’t. She’d done this before of course. She’d played the role of both an Auror and a Healer, and she always got too close to her patient. When they passed away a little bit of her heart broke.
There was no way Malfoy would break her heart any more than he already had. She would make sure of that.
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