All coherent thought had flown from their minds. There was no sense of right or wrong in this haze, or the consequences of these actions. Between kisses, licks, and bites, he began to mumble sweetly into her neck, and through the fog she heard two words.
She pulled away from him, and looked into his clouded blue eyes. The lust she saw couched there made her flush all over.
“What did you just call me?” She whispered.
“What?” He murmured still unfocused.
His eyes slid down to her mouth, and he leaned in to taste her again. His lips were so soft she nearly lost herself to the sensation. With great effort, she pulled herself from sinking further into the lust-induced haze. Placing her hands gently on either side of his face, she pulled away slowly and licked her lips savouring the tingle humming through them. A moan involuntarily rumbled through his chest at the sight of her tongue dancing across her red, swollen lips.
“You just called me something? What was it?”
Regaining his senses and realizing his slip up, he released her and took a step back.
‘What was I thinking? I should never have kissed her like that. She can’t even remember her own name, for Merlin’s sake,’ he thought to himself. He couldn’t help the shame washing over him for taking advantage of her like this.
“Nothing. It was nothing.” He said quietly as he jammed his hands into his pockets looking everywhere but at her.
Deciding he needed to get away before anything else happened, he made a break for it.
“I have to go. I have to find Harry.”
He started to move for the door, but she caught his sleeve, and pulled him back to her. She grabbed both of his arms and held him firmly.
“You’re not going anywhere until you answer my question. What did you just call me?”
He looked at her, and saw desperation flooding her features. There was something else laced deeply within her eyes that he just couldn’t place.
“Ron, please!” She begged.
“I said ‘Mione’…” He blurted out. “ My own… ”
She took this in, and then stepped closer to him relaxing but did not totally releasing her grip on his arms.
In a much smaller voice, she asked, “And was I? I mean…” Beginning to tremble from the nervous electricity shooting through her, she tried her hardest to force these words out. “Was I… yours?”
Forgetting himself again, he cupped her face in his hands, and began to gently trace his thumbs over her lips reverently. He studied her face for what seemed like an eternity.
“I… You… You were…”
“What the hell…” Came a voice from nowhere.
They both turned their heads to the source of the interruption, and dropped their hands from each other. There stood Lavender in the doorway looking completely nonplussed by the scene before her. She inhaled deeply to gather her senses, and forced on a veneer of professional calm.
“Well, come on Ms. Anderson. You’ve had a long day, and you should really try to get some rest. You have a big decision to make tomorrow.” Lavender finally managed through clenched teeth.
Hermione looked around slightly lost, still confused by the heat and intensity of the previous moment.
“Yes, of course.”
She looked up at Ron one last time before moving slowly through the open door held by Lavender. Both watched her leave.
Once Hermione was out of earshot, Lavender shot Ron a vicious glare and said icily, “I don’t know what just happened here, but I will hold you personally responsible if she experiences any emotional trauma as a result.”
Lavender took another cleansing breath, turned brusquely, and marched out of the stairwell leaving behind a flustered and bewildered Ron.
Harry sat staring at the white privacy curtain, his head throbbing from the pressure behind his eyes. He reached up, took off his glasses, and pinched the bridge of his nose.
He felt incredibly torn. Draco seemed to be a nice enough bloke now, but Harry still wanted him to disappear forever preferably remaining completely clueless as to who and what he used to be. However, Harry also wanted Hermione to stay, and fill their lives with her bushy haired, know-it-all uniqueness again. Five years was a long time to be without her.
The only drawback was that these two scenarios were mutually exclusive. They could never exist at the same time. As it currently stood, if Draco were to leave, Harry was fairly certain Hermione would go with him. If she were to stay, Draco would stay as well. When all was said and done, there was no question that keeping Hermione with them was the only viable option. He’d just have to tolerate Draco, and hope he didn’t turn back into a prick again.
For all his newfound conclusions though, he really had no say in the matter. The truth was that the decision lay entirely in Hermione and Draco’s hands. And at that very moment, Ron was probably stuffing things up horribly with her. It seemed almost frightening and bizarre that Draco Malfoy was their best and only hope in keeping her from returning to Hammersmith.
Harry was brought out of his reverie by the sound of shifting sheets, and a slight muffled sigh. His attention was drawn to the curtain again as the person on the other side was slowly coming out of sleep.
“Sarah?” He heard mumbled.
The voice had been quiet and uncertain. Almost like a child calling for his mother after waking from a nightmare. Harry put his glasses back on, and pulled himself from his musings quickly enough to respond.
“She’s not here.”
Harry could sense the confusion emanating from the other side of the room.
“She’s just gone for a walk.” He continued. “She’ll be back shortly.”
“Where am I?” The displaced voice asked.
“You’re in a hospital called St. Mungo’s.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Draco’s voice came a bit stronger. “Right. Forgot there for a moment.”
Harry heard him get out of bed, and sigh heavily. Suddenly, Draco’s tall frame appeared at the edge of the curtain.
“Well, hello Harry. When did you get here?” He offered with a big smile.
“Oh, about an hour ago.” Harry said trying to sound friendly.
Draco moved forward, and plopped himself onto Hermione’s bed.
“So, she’s gone for a walk, has she? With Ron I presume?” He gave a cheeky grin and waggled his eyebrows. Harry couldn’t help but laugh.
“She always did have a bit of a weakness for red heads. Now, I know why.”
An awkward moment of silence passed between them, and they both shifted uncomfortably in their respective positions.
Harry hated the tense silences he kept finding himself in with Draco. Cutting straight to the point, he said, “I hear you and Sarah have a big decision to make tomorrow.”
Draco’s face fell, and he became very preoccupied with picking at the bed sheets.
“Yes.” He managed. “Healer Brown wants our answer by tomorrow morning.”
“Have you come to any kind of decision?” Harry asked anxious for but still dreading the answer.
Draco looked up and held his gaze for a moment.
“Yes, and no. Staying and leaving both have their good and bad points.” He paused to consider his next words.
“I’ve never really had an easy time out there. I was getting better with Sarah’s help, and I actually started to feel like I might fit in. That is, until all this happened. I know nothing about this world you live in… but I figure that because this is where I was raised, hopefully I’ll have a better go of it here. That is if I ever get out of this place. All I’ve managed to see so far is the inside of this hospital. And the way Healer Brown was talking earlier, it might take years. I don’t think I want to live in here for that long.”
He stopped there to let this sink in. Harry blinked at Draco’s candidness, but before he could comment on it, he had started again.
“I know I sound unsure, but I think I’ve made up my mind. Ultimately though, it really doesn’t matter what I want because Sarah’s needs come first. She had a good job with room to grow in Hammersmith. We finally had a nice flat. We were meeting people. She seemed really happy for the first time in…”
He paused and swallowed hard, but willed himself to continue. “I don’t know what she has here Harry. I know you and Ron must have been important to her, but she seems so confused now. I’ve never seen her like this, and I can’t say that I like it. Harry, what do you think we should do?”
The perfect opportunity to keep Hermione with them was presenting itself, but he couldn’t bring himself to take it. He couldn’t manipulate Draco like that. Harry could have kicked himself at that moment.
“Listen mate, this is a tough choice to make; one that you and Sarah will have to live with for the rest of your lives. You are right. She does mean a lot to me, and to Ron, but this is all the more reason why I shouldn’t give you my two cents. Besides, I’m sure you can probably guess what we want. You have to do what you think is best for the both of you.”
Draco merely nodded, and continued his aggressive fiddling of the sheets.
After a few minutes of silence in which both parties mulled over the conversation, Draco finally spoke.
“Thanks, Harry. For listening and all. Normally, I only have Sarah for these kinds of things. And since she’s directly involved, I didn’t think I could tell her all that. It might change her decision.”
“No worries mate.” Harry managed still baffled by the idea of Draco putting Hermione’s feelings and needs before his own.
Suddenly, the door swung open admitting a pinched looking Lavender, and a taciturn Hermione. The two men regarded them with concern.
Before Harry could even speak, Draco was up and off the bed throwing his arm protectively around Hermione’s shoulder.
“Are you alright there love?” Draco questioned.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” She answered not paying much mind.
Hermione looked at him and then down at her intertwined hands. She allowed him to maneuver her over to sit by the window across the room where they proceeded to have a near silent conversation.
Appearing in the open doorway, Ron decided to show himself at that moment. He looked tense, and worried.
“What the hell happened to her? She looks terrible.” Harry whispered angrily.
“Ron is what happened, that’s what!” Lavender leveled with a seething anger bubbling just below the surface.
Harry pinned him with a vicious glare. “What did you do?”
For his part, Ron had discovered something very interesting to move around with his foot on the floor. When he didn’t answer, Harry grabbed his arm and hissed out, “Ron!”
“I kissed her!” He mumbled out, and Harry shook his head.
“Anything else?” Harry questioned forcefully.
“I’ve heard enough. Ronald, I need to speak with you outside NOW!”
With that, Lavender moved out the door and into the hall. Harry could not stop shaking his head.
As Ron started to move to go, however, Hermione’s voice came loudly from the corner.
“Are you leaving?” She said as she rushed over to him.
He hesitated slightly. “I need to have a word with the therapist in the hall, and then, I think it might be best if I was off for the night.”
He refused to bring his eyes up to meet hers.
“You’ll be back tomorrow though, won’t you?” She asked as she reached out and touched his arm.
He looked up into her hopeful face, and said, “I… I don’t know… I’m not sure if that would be such a good idea.”
The colour drained out of her face as she dropped her hand to her side.
“I understand.” She answered almost inaudibly.
“No, you don’t.” He managed roughly before turning and heading out the door.
Harry, completely dumbfounded by this exchange, could only give a small, awkward smile before biding them both a goodnight.
Out in the hall, Harry found Lavender already ripping Ron a new one.
“What the hell were you thinking becoming that intimate with her? She doesn’t even remember you Ron!”
“I know, and I’m sorry.”
“Damn right you’re sorry! You could have done some serious damage back there. Hell, you already might have!”
Ron was slouching lower and lower with each well-aimed accusation.
“Now, Lavender…” Harry tried to interrupt.
“Stay out of this Harry.” She screeched, and Harry jumped back slightly. “She’s fragile, and confused, but you go and try to get your jollies off with her.”
Ron was taking it all without making a peep, or raising his head.
“Lavender, she really didn’t seem…”
“Shut up Harry!” She cut him off.
That was it! This woman had exerted her authority just a little too far.
“NO… YOU SHUT UP!” Harry bellowed. Both Ron and Lavender whipped their heads around, and stared at him with saucers for eyes.
“Just because you still have unresolved issues with Ron does not give you the right to pile the guilt on like this.”
Lavender flinched at this comment.
“Now, I’m not sure what Hermione remembers, or how her memories are coming to her, but she’s definitely remembering something. And I feel Ron here is the major reason for that. But if you try to tell him he’s not allowed to see her, I swear to the Gods and all that’s holy, I will have words with your Superiors. And don’t think for one second I’m above pulling the whole ‘I’m the one who destroyed He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and saved the Wizarding World’s sorry ass’ guilt trip. Because guess what? When it comes to Hermione, I’m not! Come on, Ron. Let’s go!”
Harry turned briskly and started pounding down the hall at a vicious pace leaving behind a shell shocked Lavender.
Once Ron had managed to catch up with him, and keep pace, he said, “Thanks mate.”
“Don’t mention it.” Harry responded gruffly. “She was really beginning to piss me off.”
After a few more painfully silent moments, Harry continued, “She was partially right though, Ron. I know you miss Hermione, but please try and think before you act.”
Ron nodded and kept his head down for the rest of the walk out of the hospital.
Once Harry had left, Hermione wandered over to her bed, sat exhausted on it in a deflated heap, and stared straight ahead at nothing in particular.
Draco came over and joined her on the bed sitting directly across from her in her line of vision.
“Have you decided how you want to answer tomorrow?” She said flatly.