Chapter 4 : Patheticness and Irony
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Hermione stepped into the room quietly, not wanting to disturb anyone. The redhead looked up and smiled sadly. Hermione reached down to hug her, sadness flowing out of her body.
She couldn’t bear to look at the bed which Ginny was sitting beside. She couldn’t look at him. Instead, she trained her eyes on her friend.
“How is he?”
Ginny sighed, and tears began to well in her eyes. Hermione knew the poor girl was often asked this question and she could never give a positive answer.
Ginny’s eyes swept over Harry, her fiancé. Harry had proposed to her shortly before his capture.
“Not too good. Well, there hasn’t really been any change.”
Hermione nodded mutely, and finally caved in to pressure. She turned her head to look at her best friend. Tears immediately made their way down her cheeks.
He lay there sleeping, his face void of emotion. She was relieved he wasn’t awake. She couldn’t look into his green eyes, Lily’s eyes, while they were filled with child-like confusion. He didn’t know her, didn’t know anyone.
“We asked if we could… perhaps move him to the Burrow. It’s so cold and impersonal here in this little ward, no matter how homely we try to make it. Mum said she’d devote all her time to caring for him, and I… well, I’d never leave his side. They’re considering it. They say something more familiar might help him recover, but you know… it’s not like amnesia or anything. There isn’t a big chance.”
Hermione nodded, now unable to tear her eyes away. She reached for the pale hand and grasped it.
“Do you think that if Ron we’re here… he might be different? They’ve been best friends for a long time, they support each other. It’s sort of a different relationship from my own with Harry.”
Ginny didn’t speak for a while.
“Perhaps. But we don’t have Ron, do we?”
Both women we’re crying now.
Hermione thought back to the times she, Harry and Ron had shared together. Nothing would be normal again. Ever. Harry saved the wizarding world, but he had lost himself. She knew that they owed him everything. He had made the world a safer place to live, but in doing so, he made it a world where he could not live. She knew everyone respected him. The nurses in charge of him treated him with almost reverence, even with the state he was in.
She couldn’t speak. A lump as growing in her throat. This was her best friend. Her best friend, broken, while she stood here, happy and healthy.
No. Not happy. She would never, ever be happy until the people she cared about we’re returned to her, happy themselves, and in their whole state.
Ginny reached for her hand. “It’s alright. Just cry. Then we’ll go for coffee, won’t we?”
This just made Hermione cry harder. She noted how pathetic, and ironic this was.
Ginny, who had lost so much, even more than Hermione, was left to comfort all the people who cried. All the friends, family, and well-wishers who sent flowers and cards every day. The woman who deserved to be comforted the most, was reduced to being the comforter.
Draco gripped Careen’s hand as they walked briskly through London. It was a Saturday and they we’re walking to Honeste Village, where Rosalind was buried. For once, Careen was not smiling cheerfully. In fact, her shoulders were slumped and her feet were dragging against the footpath.
“Careen, hurry up. Stop dawdling.”
Draco saw that the little girl had tears running down her cheeks, but he took no notice.
“I don’t want to go.”
He let go of her hand and looked at her, thoroughly annoyed. It was the first time he had been to visit Rosalind in months. His conscience catching up with him, he supposed.
“Careen, we have to.”
Careen kept crying, and didn’t answer.
He had half a mind to just pick her up, and walk, when she slowly began to resume walking. He took hold of her hand again, and together, they kept walking.
It wasn’t long before they reached the big, grey gates of the cemetery. It looked dark and foreboding, even in the bright, cheerful sunlight. He pushed them open quietly, the hinges creaking softly.
All the leaves were a red orange-brown colour, and the wind seemed more harsh here. Rows and rows of white marble protruded from the grass. The sky seemed to darken before his eyes. There was a sharp, bitter smell in the air, but at the same time, it was oddly pleasant. It was silent, except for the sound of a few crows calling.
His eyes sought out the sole black marble tombstone, glistening. The reason he was here. He walked slowly towards it, and knelt before it.
He remained silent, losing himself in the words engraved.
Salty tears trailed down his cheeks and settled in the soft grass. He wanted nothing more than to be able to curl up beneath the ground with her, in the comfort of her love and presence.
Careen laid her hands gently on the blanket of grass that kept her mother warm, and suddenly the ground began to tremble slightly.
Draco watched in mild fear and awe as beautiful, brightly coloured tulips spurted suddenly from the ground. Tulips had been Rosalind’s favourite.
Careen glanced frightened, from her hands to the flowers, and then up at her father. Draco smiled sadly and wistfully.
What were the chances of Careen’s first display of magic happening to be in the presence of her mother?
“One small chai latte, please.”
There was something about the voice that made Hermione look up. She didn’t know whether it was the familiarity, or the fragility of it, but it compelled her to raise her head.
She gasped and prodded Ginny.
“Ginny. Is that Narcissa Malfoy?”
Hermione stared at the woman. Her previously beautiful, shiny blonde hair looked thin and lank, and limply hung down around her shoulders. Her skin was tinged grey, a look Hermione had seen on her son in 6th year. Her lips were thin and chapped, and she looked as if she had not seen daylight for weeks.
“What is she doing here?”
Ginny surveyed the blonde woman as well.
“She’s being treated for depression. She’s only in here for about a couple of weeks or so, and I often catch glimpses of her trying to peer in to Harry’s room. Sometimes she looks as if she wants to come in. She’s allowed to roam around, visit the cafeteria and stuff while she’s in hospital.”
Ginny nodded. “Lucius Malfoy died, did you know that?”
Hermione shook her head in shock.
“Yeah. Dragon pox. Same as his father, I heard. And I’ve heard rumours that she lost contact with Draco years ago. Something about she didn’t approve of his wife, and he didn’t like it.”
Hermione shook her head absently. Why didn’t Narcissa Malfoy approve of Rosalind?
“Oh yeah! Did I ever tell you? Apparently, Malfoy has a little kid. A girl. 5 years old. Can you believe it?! Malfoy! Maybe he knocked her up. That’s why Narcissa didn’t approve.”
Hermione shook her head once more. “I don’t think so.”
“Pardon? How do you know?”
“Shhh. She’s coming this way.”
Narcissa Malfoy thanked and paid for her coffee, and made her way to the door of the hospital cafeteria, passing Ginny and Hermione’s table. She saw Hermione and her eyebrows lifted slightly, but she didn’t pause.
“She could have said hello.” said Ginny.
Hermione laughed. “Would you have said hello?”
Hermione walked towards Harry’s private ward, clutching a sugar doughnut. As she drew closer, she made out the skinny figure of Narcissa Malfoy loitering outside the door.
Narcissa turned around, and as soon as she saw Hermione, hurriedly walked away, without making eye contact.
Hermione didn’t know what possessed her to call out.
Narcissa turned around and gave Hermione a searching look.
Hermione stammered, “Would you, uh, like to go in?”
Narcissa shook her head quickly, but for some reason Hermione really wanted her to see Harry.
“Please?” Hermione looked at her pleadingly, and reluctantly, she nodded.
Narcissa nodded again, and glided towards the door. Hermione was awestruck as to how graceful and lithe she was, even when she was depressed.
“Miss Granger!” Hermione glanced up to see Sally, the nurse on duty looking nervously at Narcissa.
“Miss Granger, the public are generally not allowed into Mr. Potter’s room.”
Hermione raised her eyebrows. “Are you calling me ‘public’?”
“Of course not Miss, but…” Again Sally glanced at Narcissa.
Narcissa just stood there, her face impassive.
Hermione knew, as a rule, she was part of the Trio, so not many people dared to question her, so she used it to her advantage.
“Well, I’m requesting that Mrs. Malfoy enter Harry’s room. That’s okay? We’re allowed to do that, I’m sure.”
“I… I’m not sure if Miss Weasley would like…” Sally did not dare say what she really meant. Ginny would not want a Malfoy in Harry’s room.
“I have as much authority over this room as Ginny does. If you don’t mind stepping away from the door, please.”
Okay, so that was harsh. Really, no one had authority over the room… but hey, if it worked.
Sally bowed her head and nodded meekly, and stepped aside. Hermione smiled apologetically. Narcissa swept past her and followed Hermione into the dimly-lit room.
Harry was still asleep. Not that it would make much difference if he weren’t.
She said this aloud, but realised Narcissa was not paying any attention to her. She was staring at Harry with a look of utmost sadness on her face. This surprised Hermione.
She looked at Hermione. “May I sit down?”
Hermione was taken off guard.
“S-sure. Go right ahead.”
Narcissa sat down gingerly on the chair next to Harry’s bed. Hermione conjured up an extra one for herself and sat down.
“I’ve wanted to come in here for a very long time. I’m… I’m sorry, you know. Very sorry. Draco says that Potter saved his life twice. I’ve wanted to say thank you.”
Hermione merely nodded.
Suddenly, Narcissa looked up sharply at Hermione and grasped her hand.
“I never wanted any of this to happen,” Narcissa said hurriedly. “Everything I’ve ever done, it was never for the Dark Lord! Only for my family.”
Hermione nodded patiently. Narcissa’s eyes began to glisten with long unshed tears.
“I am not such a cruel woman that I take vindictive pleasure in seeing innocent people get tortured. But I knew… I knew that I would never let one of my family be one of those people! I did everything in my power to protect them! Even if it meant going against everything I believed in, I would do whatever it took. Where, then, did I go wrong?”
Hermione felt a pain in her heart as she looked at the broken woman in front of her. She wondered how long it had been since Narcissa had let this all out, if ever.
“I am only sorry for two things in my life. I am not sorry for anything I’ve ever done in regards to the Dark Lord. Because for every service we did him, it bought me extra time with Draco and Lucius. I do not regret serving the Dark Lord. I do however, regret the people who had to be hurt in order for me to have my family. You have to know that.”
In any other circumstance, Hermione would have been repulsed. This woman had taken little regard of who suffered, as long as she got what she wanted. But in this case, what she wanted wasn’t exactly selfish. It was only what everyone wanted, what everyone deserved.
“I do know.”
Narcissa let go of her hand instead, used it to cover her face, crying silently.
“Why are you telling me this?”
Narcissa looked up, her face wet with tears. “I beg your pardon?”
Hermione shook her head in confusion.
“You’re meant to call me ‘scum’ and ‘Mudblood’. You… you’re meant to be cold to me. Don’t… don’t your kind hate me?”
Narcissa looked at Hermione despairingly.
“You must not… can not… I…” She blinked at Hermione, speechless. “I’ve been brought up that way ever since I was born! I have never known anything different. How then, was I supposed to change my ways?” The tears were falling even more thickly down her face “Of course, my sister and my son… found it easier… but I, I am not like them. I can not change that quickly!”
“Of course, I had to find a way… after… after I lost two of the most important people in my life… I am trying!” She looked at Hermione pleadingly. “I am trying…”
Hermione said nothing to reassure or soothe Narcissa. Narcissa, dejected, continued to speak.
“Both, both Andromeda and Draco fell in love with Muggleborns of course, “ she sighed. “At the time… I could not forgive them for it, but then, if they can find it in their hearts to change their minds… I suppose, why can’t I? If it means I get back the people I love… it is not so much of a sacrifice.”
Hermione was gaping in shock.
“Rosalind was a Muggleborn?”
Narcissa did not ask how she knew about Rosalind, but merely nodded.
“Rosalind Portman. Daughter of Sylvia and James Portman. Mother a … um, doctor? And father a … I think it was a legal attorney. Rich of course, but you know. At the time I was not so Muggle friendly. Lucius was not so warm either.” She sighed. “Did you know, I’ve only met her once. Yes, when he brought her home. Never again. We were at the wedding naturally, but did not dare to approach them. And my granddaughter… why, I’ve never met her. I don’t believe I know her name.”
Hermione’s heart went out to her. “Careen. Careen Malfoy. Dark hair, with Draco’s silver grey eyes. Incredibly sweet, beautiful, intelligent girl, who can see through even the toughest acts. Delightful child.”
Narcissa looked up startled. “You… know her?” she whispered.
“Yep. I… teach her actually.”
Narcissa peered at her, confused. “You are… her governess?”
Hermione shook her head. “Teacher,” she corrected. “I don’t know if you know, but I became a Muggle school teacher. Your son has placed Careen in a Muggle school.”
Narcissa leaned back, and covered her face.
“Muggle school. What has Draco done?!”
Suddenly, she sat up. “You must talk to Draco! You must convince him to speak to me! Please! I beg you. I don’t have much time! I need to see my son and my granddaughter. Please!”
Narcissa was almost on her knees begging. Hermione had never seen anyone so helpless, and vulnerable. What was she supposed to do?
She looked at Mrs. Malfoy straight in the eye.
A/N: Meh I'm partial on this chapter. But anyway, I hope you enjoy and R/R ^_^
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