Chapter 6 : Scraped Knees
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She constantly found herself daydreaming of Draco but of nothing in particular pertaining to him. Most women in a situation like hers would be starry eyes with a mixture of fancy and dread, but Hermione was always predictable and she never wavered in her strength. Hermione only thought of Draco as a straightforward and incomplete task that had to be discovered and the wrinkles smoothed out.
There were only certain moments she allowed herself to pause and think about Draco’s situation. He was very obviously dying and it nearly killed her when the realization hit her that she could not do anything about it. She was useless to him as if she were simply a figure piece placed in his room for mere show in order to give off the illusion of effort. It hurt her that she knew she’d given up all chance for the cure. In the beginning there was a shadow of a chance, but now, he was too far along to be helped.
Draco was going to die. She shook her head at the mere thought of it. The idea of someone, anyone, dying was heavy and the enormity hit her with the impact of a hundred bricks every time. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be in his position. If anyone had asked her how she thought Draco would react in such a situation, she would have said he’d be complaining every second and in denial. In reality, he had accepted his fate without so much as a murmur of a wish for hope.
Hermione spent her days at home waiting to be with Draco and wanting to speak with him even if he did not respond as was the case on some days. Ron edged around her like she was something foreign to him these days but he didn’t mention any feelings of being forgotten. Hermione promised herself that after all this was over, maybe things could go back to normal. She’d been forced to lead a perfectly normal life before because of Draco and she could certainly do it again.
The momentum of every day was a rush in Hermione’s heart and it filled her to the brim with anxiety and stress although she barely noticed. She had no notion of what she was waiting for or even why. There was no hope, and that was the single strand she had always hung on to during her years at Hogwarts. Hope was what she had when it came to helping Harry and a future for her and Ron – it had always been her everything and now it could give her nothing. She felt utterly abandoned.
The episode with Draco’s mother had occurred three months ago now and since then, she hadn’t even caught a whiff of her presence in the house although she knew Narcissa visited Draco often. Draco was like an open book after a visit from his mother and Hermione learned much from him during those times.
As Hermione walked up the stairs with familiarity and down the rich hallway to Draco’s room, she noticed the door was ajar as it never was. When she entered her eyes swept the room and found Draco standing unsteadily in the center of the room where the bright winter light hit him like a stranded spotlight. He wobbled on his cane and leaned heavily on it; it was clear he didn’t have much strength left. Finally, with a final shout he hit the floor with his knees and his blonde hair fell in his face. His gasping was masked by his tearful sobs.
Hermione walked quickly and bent down to his die where she placed a hand on his back. He didn’t seem to notice or accept her presence in the slightest and Hermione thought it was an interesting metaphor for their whole life together. “Are you alright?” she murmured gently already knowing the response she’d get.
“No, I’m bloody well not alright,” he replied softly, shaking. “How many times do I have to tell you Granger before you get it through your apparently rather unintelligent head that I’m dying!” His final word hit them both like a suffocating blow to the throat.
She couldn’t retain herself anymore. “That doesn’t give you the right to shout it at me every time she feel the situation needs to get a little more dramatic,” she said fiercely.
He raised his head and shook the watery tears away from his statuesque face. “Is that what you think this? Am I all dramatics and make believe to you?” he asked harshly.
“You could be a little more gracious,” she said simply. She wasn’t falling back. “Think of it Draco! How many times could Harry have killed you? How many times did he save you? You should be dead already, you fool! What are you doing here with your time? You fall to your knees when you should be rising up!”
He looked at her steadily and then turned his head slowly to face the sunlight streaming in. “I wish Potter had just killed me.”
Hermione shook her head and got to her feet. “I came here today to tell you I’d no longer be your Healer. Harry’s decided there’s nothing to find here after all and that your lot has changed their ways. He’s very forgiving – you should try it some time.”
Draco opened his mouth to speak but Hermione stopped him. “I would visit you Draco, but you obviously don’t need anyone. You’re a dead man already.” She knew she was being cold, but she loved him and in her mind, that made it okay.
“Have a good life,” she said, “if you can call it that.” She turned on her heels and began to walk away from him as it seemed she had been for her entire life.
This time though, he called her back. “Granger,” he said commandingly. She stopped where she stood. “I want to live if you can find a way to be in my life,” he said with a hint of desperation behind his carefully monitored voice. “I know I’m ungrateful, but I always have been. Graciousness certainly doesn’t come with dying you know,” he said sarcastically. “I can’t change who I’ve always been – I won’t even attempt it. I can do what I always have done though and that’s love you,” he paused, “in my own way.”
Hermione staggered. He hadn’t uttered the word love to her in all his life and now as he neared death he chose to give it to her. Was it a gift? Was it unlike the disease Draco had now? Hermione would crumble with the weight of it all her life until she disappeared into mere nothingness.
“Okay,” she said, sealing her fate. “Okay.”
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