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The Grass is Always Greener by never_too_old
Chapter 28 : Answered Questions
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 79

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Snape ran through St. Mungo’s, carrying Draco’s limp body, as he hurried his way through the reception area and up the stairs to the fourth floor. Once he arrived at the correct floor for spell damages, he saw a young woman sitting at a desk in front of the double doors, wearing a nametag Lidia. Lidia quickly stood, as she noticed the young boy not moving in his arms. She called over a few Healers, as soon as Snape approached the desk.

Three Healers ran out and carefully grabbed Draco from Snape, not wanting to move him too much. Snape started to follow, but one of the Healers turned back around, holding up his hand. “Are you family?” he asked.

Snape shook his head. “I’m his professor…and also a friend of the family,” he tried to explain.

“I’m sorry, sir. Only family can come back here,” the Healer said, as he turned back around.

Snape clenched his fists, as he saw the Healers take Draco behind the closed doors. He pounded the wall next to him, which stung a bit because his hands were still cut up from hitting Lucius, and cursed in the air, knowing all he could do was wait. He found some empty seats in the waiting area to the left and sat down. He lowered his head and placed his hand on his forehead, praying that Draco would be okay.

“Sir, who do we need to contact from his family?” Lidia called over from her desk.

He looked up, trying to focus on the woman speaking. He suddenly recalled his fight with Lucius and how he viciously killed him. He stared down at his bloody hands, still in shock from what he did.

“Sir?” she asked again.

He again looked over at her and took a deep breath, before answering, “His mother, Narcissa Malfoy.”

Lidia nodded, as she fingered through the filing cabinet where they kept contact information on all the witches and wizards in the area. Once she found Narcissa’s name, she walked toward the fireplace behind her and stuck her head in.

Snape again lowered his head, as he rubbed his forehead. He was nervous to see Narcissa. He didn’t know how he was going to tell her what he had done. As much as she hated Lucius, he was still her husband and Draco’s father. I was protecting Draco, he tried to tell himself. She’ll understand I did it for him.

He covered his face with his hands, so he could muffle his scream. All he wanted was to hear from someone that Draco would be okay. Every time he heard footsteps, he would lift his head, hoping it was one of the Healers coming to tell him what was happening.

Suddenly, Narcissa came running up the stairs, breathing heavily. She saw Snape sitting in the waiting room and hurried across the room to him. He stood up and hugged her tightly, as the tears began to fall down her face.

“What’s happening? Where is he? What have they told you?” she began questioning.

He ran his hand through her hair, trying to comfort her. “They’ve taken him in the back right now,” he softly answered, not wanting to worry her too much. “I don’t know what’s going on because I’m not family and they won’t tell me anything.”

Narcissa released herself from his hold and quickly ran toward the desk in front of the double doors. “My son. Where is he? Is he okay?” she began to ask the young woman.

“Your name?” Lidia asked.

“Narcissa Malfoy. My son was just brought up here not too long ago.”

Lidia nodded, as she began shuffling through some files on her desk. She found Draco’s file and picked it up, reading the contents that had magically appeared. She looked over at Narcissa and frowned. “One of the Healers will come out shortly to talk with you,” she began. “I’m sorry, but that’s all I can say.”

Narcissa pounded the counter, as she turned away from the woman and hurried back toward Snape. She shook her head, seeing Snape’s questioning eyes. “She can’t tell me anything. She said one of the Healers would come out shortly.”

Snape nodded, as he motioned for her to sit down. The two sat in silence, waiting. Snape kept checking the clock on the wall, but believed it to be cursed, since every time he would check the time, it seemed as if the hands weren’t moving at all.

Feeling restless, Snape stood up from his seat and began pacing. He hated the silence and knew if he didn’t hear something soon, he would go ballistic. Narcissa watched him pace and suddenly saw the blood on his fists.

“What happened to you?” she questioned, breaking the silence.

He looked over at her and furrowed his eyebrows. She looked down at his fists and then up at him. He followed her eyes and sighed, when he realized what she saw. He shook his head, as he approached her. “It’s nothing,” he simply said. “I’ll deal with it later.”

She frowned, as she grabbed his hands. Needing to keep herself occupied, she began examining them, wondering how he did that to himself.
“It’s nothing,” he tried to tell her again, hoping she would release her grip and let him continue to pace.

She looked up at him, still puzzled, and asked again, “What happened?”

Knowing he couldn’t keep it in anymore, he sat down next to her and stared into her eyes. “Narcissa,” he nervously began, sensing how hard it was to speak. “He…he tried to kill him. I couldn’t help it. Lucius just-”

“No,” she yelled, as she released his hands and stood up. “Tell me he didn’t do this to his own son,” she seethed, as she stared down at him.

Snape sighed, before nodding. Narcissa yelled some more, feeling the hatred for the man she married. Snape stood up and pulled Narcissa close to him. He wrapped his arms around her, and the two stood together for a couple of minutes, not wanting to move.

“You killed him,” she mumbled, more as a declaration than a question.

He nodded and then felt Narcissa release a breath he realized she must have been holding for a while. “I’m sorry, Narcissa. I don’t know what came over me.”

She pulled away from him and took his hands in hers again, admiring the cuts. She started to cry, as she brought his hands to her mouth and gently kissed them. “You’ve always protected this family, Severus, and for that I will always be grateful,” she whispered, as she looked up at him.

He leaned in closer and softly touched her lips with his. He broke away and stared adoringly in her eyes. “You two are my family, ‘Cissa. I had to do something.”

Suddenly, the doors behind them opened, and one of the Healers who had taken Draco earlier walked out. Narcissa and Snape hurried over to him, nervous to hear the news. The Healer bowed his head, as he began to speak. 

Realizing the battle was lost, the remaining Death Eaters quickly Disapparated, not wanting to be caught and put into Azkaban. They were always taught to look out for themselves, and of course the Dark Lord, so without hesitation, they left their wounded to deal with the Ministry on their own.

Harry worriedly searched for his two best friends, unsure if they made it out alive. He walked along the field, staring at all the fallen soldiers. He couldn’t believe how many people had lost their lives tonight. His heart went out to them, remembering how courageous they were to fight for the good.

While walking outside the school perimeters, he noticed a trembling body near a rock and hurried over. As he stood over the body, he recognized it immediately as Hermione’s. He dropped to his knees, turning her over on her back. He held his breath, as he saw how pale she was. He moved his hand along her cheek, needing her to open her eyes.

At his soft touch, she slowly opened her eyes and looked up at him. She coughed, still trying to catch her breath from the tight hold she was in not too long ago. She suddenly turned to her side, remembering when she had seen Draco with his father. She shook her head and sighed, realizing what had happened.

“Hermione,” Harry whispered. “Thank Merlin you’re alright.”

She stared over at him once more and weakly lifted her hand to his cheek. “Did we win?” she throatily asked.

He nodded, as he took another look around the battleground. “He’s gone, Hermione. I killed him.”

She slowly nodded, as she tried to form a smile. “I knew you would, Harry.”

He took a deep breath, as he continued to stare into her eyes. He tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, smiling. “Can you stand?” he warily asked.

She gradually lifted herself off the ground, grabbing Harry’s hand for support. He stood up, carefully pulling her to her feet. She fumbled a little and fell against Harry’s chest, after losing her balance. “Don’t rush it,” he softly spoke.

“Harry!” a voice cried out.

He turned around and smiled, when he saw Ron running toward them. His face was badly bruised, but Harry knew his spirits were still intact. Once Ron was finally close enough to his best friends, he grabbed them in a bear hug, not wanting to let go of them.

They remained in the tight embrace for a few minutes, never uttering a sound. They each knew how lucky they were to still be alive, and were uncertain if they would ever see each other again.

After they released each other, they started walking around the field, watching the wounded be levitated onto stretchers. Ron nervously looked around; he hadn’t seen any of his family members, yet.

Suddenly, he noticed a small group of redheads off in the distance and quickly ran toward them. He wrapped his arms around his mother, from behind, letting the tears fall. Molly turned around and started to cry, seeing another one of her children had safely returned.

Ron looked around the group, as he still held onto his mother, noticing how small they were. He released himself from his mother, as he saw the tears in Ginny’s eyes, and brought her close to him. He then felt a pair of arms wrap around both of them. He looked up and smiled at George.

“Dad’s gone,” Ginny cried, causing Ron to freeze his hold on her.

“And Charlie and Percy,” Molly choked out.

Ron nervously looked over at George, hoping not to hear any other names. George shook his head. “No one has seen Fred,” he sadly began. “Bill is still searching.”

Ron closed his eyes, praying that Fred would be found alive. He turned to his mother again and gave her another hug, not wanting to leave his family’s side.

Hermione and Harry approached the Weasley family, after giving Ron some time with them, and took turns hugging everyone. They then heard Bill’s voice and quickly turned, anticipating any news about Fred.

“They’ve taken him to St. Mungo’s,” he explained, as he wiped the sweat off his forehead, with his arm. “Hagrid just told me.”

Harry beamed when he heard Hagrid’s name. “Hagrid’s okay?”

Bill nodded, as he hugged both Harry and Hermione. “But,” he sighed, “I can’t say the same about Minerva.”

Molly’s eyes opened wide at the news. “No,” she gasped.

Harry bowed his head, remembering how close he and her had become in the last year. He couldn’t believe another one of his mentors was now gone. He quickly wiped his eyes, before any fresh tears spilled.

“Let’s go look for more survivors,” Molly sighed.

Harry shook his head, as he placed his hand on her shoulder. “Go to your son,” he gently told her. “We can handle things here.”

She nodded, as she moved her hand along his cheek. “Thank you, Harry,” she smiled.

“Tell Fred we’ll be there as soon as we can,” George called over.

Molly nodded, as she hugged everyone one last time, before running into the Forbidden Forest to Apparate to St. Mungo’s.

“Has anyone seen Draco?” Harry suddenly asked.

Hermione took a deep breath, as she lowered her head. “I did,” she mumbled.

Harry looked over at her, shocked that she didn’t say anything earlier. “Is he alright? Where is he?”

She slowly looked up, tears rolling down her cheeks. Harry shook his head, not wanting to believe it. He backed away, not wanting to hear her say it. She sniffed, as she looked back down.

“How?” he finally asked.

“His father,” she answered, still looking down at the ground. “I saw him cast a spell over at him. He flew across the field and hit the ground, right before I blacked out.”

“Well, maybe he’s not dead,” Ron spoke up, causing Hermione to look up in wonderment. “I mean, perhaps he was just knocked unconscious or something.”

Harry nodded, realizing Ron had a point. “Come on,” he said, as he ran back to where he had found Hermione earlier.

Ron and Hermione quickly followed, leaving the others to help with the wounded. They split apart, hoping to cover more ground in search for Draco. Hermione replayed the scene, from what she could remember, telling them where she had last seen him standing.

Harry was focusing on Hermione’s words, when he suddenly tripped on something. He fell to the ground and grunted, as he turned his head to see what he tripped on. He swallowed, as he stared in awe at Lucius’ motionless body. He slowly crawled over to the body, shocked to see that he was dead.

“Who do you think did it?” Ron asked, as he and Hermione made their way over.

Harry shook his head, admiring the gashes on his face. Hermione buried her face in Ron’s chest, not able to look down anymore. “It was Snape,” she muttered.

Harry looked over at her in surprise. “Snape killed Lucius?”

She turned toward Harry and nodded. “I heard him yell, after Lucius cast the spell over at Draco. It had to be him.”

Harry looked down at Lucius once more and shook his head in disgust. He looked around the field and sighed. “Maybe Snape took Draco to St. Mungo’s.”

Hermione’s eyes opened big, wanting to believe Harry was right. “Do you think?”

Harry shrugged, as he looked around the field once more, noticing no more bodies near them. “Well, all I know is that neither of their bodies are here,” he replied.

“We have to get to St. Mungo’s,” Hermione insisted.

Harry turned to his two friends and nodded. “You guys go. I’ll just be a few minutes behind.”

“Where are you going?” Ron questioned.

Harry smiled, as he quickly ran from his friends and toward the steps leading up to the castle. Hermione smiled at Harry’s retreating back, knowing exactly where he was heading.

Pansy was huddled in a corner, with her knees close to her chest. Everyone could hear the battle happening outside and were frightened to move. They sat in silence, listening to the cries and spells pierce the sky. All she kept thinking about was Harry and how he was out there fighting.

When the battle ended, Madam Pomfrey was the one who returned to let them all know they had won and were now safe. She hadn’t mentioned any deaths, or even survivors. All she said was Voldemort was dead and she needed help with the wounded.

Pansy remained frozen in her little corner. She couldn’t go with the rest to help, scared that she would find his dead body on the ground. She heard the double doors open, but she couldn’t turn her head to look at the source that entered. She was engulfed with her own thoughts; nothing else mattered around her.

Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder, making her flinch, as she looked up. She stared in bewilderment, not sure if she could trust her own eyes. She opened her mouth, but was unable to speak. She continued to stare up at him, not sure what to do with herself.

He smiled, as he knelt down beside her. He slowly caressed her cheek, staring lovingly in her eyes.

“Are you really here?” she whispered.

He continued to smile, as he placed both his hands on her face, and leaned in to kiss her. He then moved back, gently gliding his thumb over her slightly parted lips. “I told you I’d return,” he answered.

She couldn’t hold back her tears anymore and let them fall. “I was so scared, Harry,” she wept, as she held him tightly. “I was so scared I would never see you again.”

He took a deep breath. “You weren’t the only one, love,” he whispered.

They held each other a little while longer, before Harry finally stood up. He reached his hand down to help pull her up off the floor. She grabbed hold of his hand and stood up, wondering where they were going.

“We have to go to St. Mungo’s,” he said, answering her unasked question.

She quickly examined his body, wondering what was wrong. “Are you hurt?”

He shook his head, as he still held onto her hand and led her out of the Great Hall. “It’s Draco,” he explained.

Her eyes widened at the thought, and she hastened her step, so they could get there faster. “Is he okay?” she questioned.

“I hope so,” he replied, as they made their way into the Forbidden Forest. “Hold onto me,” he instructed Pansy, knowing she had not yet received her Apparating license.

She held onto him tightly, as he Apparated both of them to St. Mungo’s.

Snape couldn’t stand being at St. Mungo’s anymore and told Narcissa he had to get out for a bit. She nodded in understanding and gave him a kiss before he left. As he stood outside the building, seeing some of the wounded being brought in, he realized where he had to go, scared at the thought. He closed his eyes, as he turned on his heel, Apparating to his destination.

He began walking along the school grounds, noticing the Ministry had finally arrived and were beginning to clean up the mess. He continued toward the school, still feeling a little nervous. He finally arrived at the Headmaster’s office, and slowly made his way over to Dumbledore’s portrait. He took a deep breath, before lifting his head and staring up at him.

Dumbledore smiled down at Snape, happy to see he has finally made his way over. “You have done great, Severus,” he smiled, already aware of the outcome of the battle.

Snape froze, when he heard Dumbledore’s voice. He could feel his body begin to tremble, and then suddenly, tears spilled down his face. Throughout his life, he always held back his tears, not wanting anyone to see his weakness, but he couldn’t take it anymore and had to finally release the tension. “Draco,” he sputtered, causing Dumbledore to tilt his head in question. “He’s hurting and there’s nothing I can do about it. He’s like my son. I just can’t bare to see him struggling for his life.”

Dumbledore nodded, seeing the pain in Snape’s eyes. He was always fond of Snape, especially when he was younger, and believed he would do great things in his life. He always noticed Snape’s love for others, even though Snape would purposely hide it on the outside. When Snape went to the dark side, Dumbledore was furious that he couldn’t stop him in time. He knew it was a choice, but he still believed there was a way for him to lead Snape away from it. And then when Snape came running back, Dumbledore forgave him, telling him he would always be there to look out for him and help him when he was in trouble. He knew Snape felt the same about Draco and understood his remorse. “Severus,” he began, “you’ve done all you could in protecting him.”

“No, there has to be more. There has to be something else I can do,” he cried, as he knelt down in front of the portrait, burying his head in his hands.

“Tell me what the Healers have said.”

Snape wiped the tears from his eyes, before staring over at Dumbledore once more. “He was hit with the Teartundra curse. I still really don’t know what it is.”

Dumbledore sadly shook his head and sighed. “Thankfully, not many people do. It’s a curse that shreds one’s internal organs, sort of like Sectumsempra working on the inside. Many years ago, it was considered an Unforgivable, but then it was somehow forgotten and the Ministry decided to delete it from the records, hoping it would stay lost. Not even Voldemort knew of this curse.”

Snape bowed his head and clenched his now healed fists. “How could Lucius know about it?”

Dumbledore clicked his tongue, when he realized it was Lucius who did this to his own son. “What happened to you, Lucius?” he quietly said.

Snape furiously crossed his arms and looked up. “He was a selfish, inconsiderate bastard.”

“He wasn’t always like that, Severus. Or don’t you remember?”

Snape rolled his eyes, as he stood up and turned away from the portrait. “I remember,” he mumbled. “He was one of my best mates in school.”

“He even tried to help you with Lily Evans, didn’t he?” Dumbledore smiled.

Snape turned back around and narrowed his eyes. “A lot of good that did,” he replied sarcastically.

“Even so,” Dumbledore sighed. “He knew what love was and believed in it immensely.”

“So, what changed?”

Dumbledore shrugged. “Many factors can change a man, Severus, which you yourself already know. He just got too caught up in the Dark Arts that he wasn’t able to get out as easily as you could.”

“Don’t forget about his father,” Snape commented. “He was probably even more vindictive than the Dark Lord himself.”

Dumbledore nodded, remembering how cruel Abraxas Malfoy was and how he treated his son. “Lucius always said he would never be like him.”

Snape growled, when he thought about Draco’s life. “You’d think he would have lived up to that promise.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his father who taught him about the curse,” Dumbledore continued.

“Sir,” Snape interrupted, “the Healers are really concerned about his health. They were able to use a counter curse they found in one of their old books, to at least stop the cutting from moving any further, but they’re not sure if it stopped in time enough for his body to heal itself properly.”

Dumbledore rubbed his chin, as he began to think about the curse. “Did the Healers tell you how far it reached, before they stopped it?”

“Just below his heart,” Snape replied.

Dumbledore sighed in relief, as he dropped his hand to his side. “Then he still has a chance.”

Snape felt the tears coming again, but quickly wiped his eyes. “Is there anything we can do to help him?”

Dumbledore smiled, “Just continue loving him. That’s the strongest power he needs right now, to help him through this.”

Snape nodded and then rubbed his forehead, remembering something else he wanted to say. “There’s one more thing I have to ask.”

“Of course, Severus. Ask away.”

“Would you happen to know why Draco’s Mark didn’t glow when the Dark Lord called?”

Dumbledore beamed at the news. “Then it worked,” he whispered.

Snape furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. “What worked?”

“Well, I can’t be a hundred percent sure, so you may want to ask Harry to confirm it,” he smiled, truly believing what he thought was correct, “but if what I know is true about Death Eaters, then during a ritual, you must solely be of one mind before joining.”

Snape nodded, remembering when those words were said to him during his own ritual. “That’s true, but Potter knew what he was doing when he got the Mark. He was of sound mind.”

“Yes, but you’re not following Voldemort’s words accurately, Severus. It’s not about thinking rationally; it’s about being of one mind.”

Snape shook his head, still confused. “I don’t understand.”

“What if Draco was in Harry’s mind at the same time he was getting the Mark?”

“You mean if he used Splituncto on Potter?”

“Harry wouldn’t have been of one mind then, would he?” Dumbledore smiled.

“No, he wouldn’t,” Snape answered, before his eyes opened wide. “You planned this out from the beginning, didn’t you?”

“I knew the only way to save Draco from becoming a Death Eater would be for someone else to take his place, so he could use his spell during the ritual,” Dumbledore explained. “And I was hopeful that Harry and Draco would learn to trust one another and become friends, wanting to help each other out.”

“So, that’s the reason you had them switch places?”

“That’s one of them,” Dumbledore winked.

Snape shook his head in disbelief. “So, Draco never really became a Death Eater?”

Dumbledore smiled, emitting a twinkle in his eye. Snape returned the smile and sighed in relief, before walking toward the door. He couldn’t wait to tell Narcissa the good news. When he placed his hand on the doorknob, he turned back around and stared at Dumbledore’s portrait once more. “Thank you, Albus.”

“Of course, Severus. You know I had to try and help him,” Dumbledore began.

“No,” Snape interrupted. “Thank you for giving me a chance and trusting me all these years.”

Hermione and Ron reached the fourth floor of St. Mungo’s and slowly walked over to the front desk. Lidia looked up from her paperwork, staring at the two sickly teenagers. “Oh dear. We’ve been getting a lot of you here tonight. What are your symptoms?”

Ron shook his head. “No, we’re okay. We actually came here to check on someone who may have been admitted earlier,” he hesitated, nervous to know the answer.

“His name is Draco Malfoy,” Hermione interjected.

Lidia nodded. “Yes, we do have a record of Mister Malfoy being brought in,” she responded.

Hermione released the breath she was holding and looked over at Ron, smiling. Ron wrapped his arm around her and brought her close to him. “See? I told you he was okay,” he comforted her.

“Can we see him?” Hermione asked, looking back at the woman.

“Are you family?”

Hermione shook her head and, seeing the look on the woman’s face, knew she wouldn’t be allowed to see him. She had a feeling she wouldn’t be able to, but she was at least comforted to know he was still alive. But for how long? That was still the unanswered question.

Ron sadly looked over at Hermione and knew she had to see him somehow. He suddenly had an idea, as he turned back to the woman. “My name is Ron Weasley,” he began. “I believe my brother, Fred, was brought up here.”

Lidia fingered through the files on her desk and nodded when she came across Fred’s folder. She opened it and scanned the picture inside, before looking over at Ron. She smiled, when she saw their resemblance. “The red hair should have tipped me off.”

“Can we go see him?” he asked.

She eyed him for a few minutes and then turned toward Hermione, not sure if she could trust them.

“Look, I have a right to see my brother,” Ron retorted, seeing the doubt on her face.

She stared at him a little bit longer, but knowing he was right, she nodded and reluctantly gave them directions to Fred’s room. They thanked her, before walking behind the double doors.

As they walked down the corridor toward Fred’s room, they began peeking in a few small windows on the doors along the way, wondering if Draco was in one of the rooms. Soon, they were in front of Fred’s door and Ron softly knocked. The door opened and Molly smiled at them.

“Bill just left to pick up Fleur, but George and Ginny are here,” she said, moving out of the way to let them inside.

Fred was lying in his bed, joking with George and Ginny. When Ron and Hermione entered, he turned and smiled over at them. “What, no presents?”

Ron crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head. “Sorry, Fred. I thought you were George.”

Fred smiled over at George, while George pretended to be offended. Happy to see him well, Ron hurried over to Fred’s side and gave him a hug. Hermione smiled at them, as she walked to the opposite side of his bed. After Fred released Ron, he turned to Hermione and motioned for her to give him a hug. She bent down and carefully wrapped her arms around him, making sure not to hurt him.

“Ouch,” he yelped, causing Hermione to back away in fright.

“I’m sorry, Fred, I tried to be careful,” she tearfully said.

Fred stared up at her and grinned, causing her to suddenly stop and place her hands on her hips, glaring at him. “You git.”

He started to laugh, which made her laugh soon after. After a few minutes of idle chatter, Hermione looked over at Ron and bit her lip. He looked over at her and nodded, understanding her need to find Draco and make sure he was okay.

She silently thanked him and then turned toward Fred and smiled. “I’m really glad you’re okay, Fred,” she said.

“Thanks, Hermione.”

She leaned down and kissed him on his forehead, before walking toward Mrs. Weasley. “I have to go somewhere, but I’ll be back, okay?”

Molly wrapped her arms around her and nodded. “Of course, dear. Thank you for coming. Have you seen Harry, yet?”

Hermione shook her head. “No, but he should be here soon.”

Molly gave Hermione one last squeeze, before letting her leave. She waved goodbye at the remaining Weasleys in the room and then left.

She continued walking around the fourth floor, hoping she would be able to find his room. She was about to give up, when she turned one last corner and saw Narcissa walk out of one of the rooms. She quickly ducked inside an empty room, as Narcissa passed her. She peeked outside, staring at her retreating back. She looked over at the room Narcissa just left and swallowed, as she made her way over.

She entered the small room and closed the door behind her, before glancing over at the body on the bed. She took a deep breath, as she slowly made her way over to him. She sat down in a chair next to his bed, releasing the breath she was still holding. She looked down at the very pale boy and closed her eyes, praying he was going to be all right. She reached for his hand lying on the side and placed it in her own. She gently rubbed her thumb along the back of his hand, noticing how cold it was to her touch.

She continued to sit in silence, as she held onto his hand. She felt a tear slip from her eyes, but didn’t move to wipe it. She didn’t care how fragile she was at that moment; she just wanted to stay as close as possible to Draco as she could.

While keeping her watch over Draco for several more minutes, she hadn’t heard the door to his room open. She jumped in her seat, when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She quickly looked over and saw Narcissa standing next to her. She released her grip on Draco’s hand and frantically stood up. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Malfoy. I know I shouldn’t be here,” she nervously stated, afraid to know what she was going to do.

Narcissa shook her head and gently pushed Hermione back down in the chair. “Sit down, dear,” she insisted, as she summoned another chair from the side of the room to sit in.

Hermione bit her lower lip, as she watched Narcissa looking at her son. She was surprised that his mother didn’t want her to leave. She turned back to Draco, wondering if she would ever see his beautiful eyes on her again.

“I take it you’re Hermione Granger,” Narcissa spoke up, while still staring at her son.

Hermione quickly looked over at her, shocked that she knew her name. “How did you know that?” she softly asked.

Narcissa smiled and turned toward Hermione. “My son has talked about you,” she answered.

Hermione swallowed, uncertain of what he said about her. Narcissa continued to smile, as she watched the worried look on Hermione’s face. She stared down at her son again, before taking a deep breath and continuing. “He told me he used Splituncto on you.”

Hermione nodded, as she looked down at Draco. She smiled, as she moved her hand along his arm, wanting him to feel her touch, believing deep down he could sense it. “I’m sorry,” she finally whispered, causing Narcissa to look over at her in puzzlement.

“What do you have to be sorry about?”

“Of who I am,” she answered, not able to look at her. “Because I’m not a Pureblood.”

Narcissa reached out and touched Hermione’s chin, turning her face so she could look at her. “My son found his soulmate. That goes beyond Pureblood status, Hermione, and I’m very happy that he found you.”

Hermione smiled, happy to be accepted by Draco’s mother. She glanced down at Draco, wanting him to open his eyes more than ever now. She grabbed his hand again and held it tightly in her grasp. “I never told him,” she quietly stated.

“He knew,” a voice said, from the doorway to his room.

Hermione and Narcissa looked over and saw Harry standing there, holding hands with Pansy. Hermione furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, wondering how they managed to get passed the woman at the front desk.

As if reading her mind, Harry smiled over at her and answered, “Snape brought us back here.”

She nodded, as she glanced down at the couple holding hands. She smiled, when she looked back over at Harry. Harry blushed a little, as they walked closer.

“Where is Severus?” Narcissa asked Harry.

“He’s in the cafeteria right now, getting some coffee,” Pansy answered.

Narcissa nodded, as she stood up from her seat and walked toward the door, wanting to go to the cafeteria herself. She looked over at Harry and smiled. “Thank you.”

“For what?” he curiously marveled.

“For befriending my son, taking the Dark Mark for him, killing the Dark Lord,” she replied. “You really are a wonder.”

Harry felt his face go a deep shade of red at her last comment. Without another word, Narcissa slipped out of the room, leaving the three teenagers alone with Draco. Harry and Pansy approached Draco’s bedside, staring down at him.

“How’s he doing?” Pansy wondered.

Hermione shook her head and sighed. “He hasn’t moved since I got here. I don’t even know what’s wrong with him.”

“Snape said his father hit him with a curse called Teartundra,” Harry replied.

Hermione shook her head, upset that she couldn’t recall the curse. “How come I’ve never heard of it before?” she chastised herself.

“The curse was considered very dark years ago, and somehow people started to forget about it, which made the Ministry decide to erase it from all books and records, hoping it would stay forgotten,” Pansy responded, blushing a bit when Harry and Hermione looked over at her in amazement.

“How do you know that?” Harry curiously wondered.

“Let’s just say Draco’s grandfather and my grandfather were one and the same,” she sighed. “One day, I had overheard Lucius and my father talking about their fathers and how they both had been taught the curse.”

“What does it do?” Hermione worriedly asked.

Pansy gulped, as she stared down at Draco’s still body. “It shreds one’s insides up.”

Hermione paled, while covering her mouth with her hand. Harry shook his head, as he glanced down at Draco’s body. The three sat down in silence, realizing the severity of Draco’s wounds, and knowing there was nothing to say at that moment.

Suddenly, Hermione remembered something Harry said and looked over at him, wanting to know more. “Harry,” she began, “what do you mean he knew?”

Harry looked over at her and smiled, immediately understanding. “He found out a few weeks ago,” he explained.

Hermione bowed her head. “I knew he would freak out about it,” she muttered.

“Are you kidding?” he laughed, causing her to look back up at him. “He was thrilled when he found out.”

“Really?” Hermione asked, feeling a smile creep up on the side of her face.

“He just didn’t say anything because he knew you were trying to protect him for the war,” Harry continued.

She stared down at Draco and sighed, wishing she could have told him long before how much she loved him. Pansy gripped Harry’s hand, and when he looked over at her, she motioned with her eyes for them to leave. She knew Hermione needed some time alone with Draco. Harry nodded in understanding and stood up with Pansy.

Hermione heard them stand up and curiously looked over. “You’re leaving?”

“Just for a bit. We still have to go see Fred,” he explained.

“And Blaise,” Pansy stated.

“What happened to Blaise?” Hermione asked, looking over at Pansy and then Harry.

“He’ll be okay,” Harry replied. “Just a few broken bones.”

“That’s good,” she said, before shaking her head. “I mean, not that he broke a few bones. Just that-”

“We know,” Harry smiled.

“Does he know about Draco?”

“Snape told him,” Pansy answered. “But the Healers won’t let him see him, until his bones have healed.”

Hermione nodded, as she stood up and hugged them both goodbye. Once they left, she sat back down and placed her hand in Draco’s. She studied his sleeping form, wondering if he was dreaming. She leaned down and kissed his forehead, whispering, “I love you.” She softly moved her hand along his cheek and sighed, before leaning back in her chair and closing her eyes.

“Tell me again,” a soft voice murmured.

Hermione opened her eyes, not sure if she was hearing things. She looked down at Draco’s body, noticing nothing out of the ordinary. “Stop it, Hermione,” she scolded herself, as she closed her eyes once more. “Your mind is just playing tricks on you.”

“You know, the first sign of insanity is talking to yourself,” the voice continued.

She opened her eyes again and looked down at Draco. She was so sure she heard his voice this time, but his eyes were still closed and it didn’t look like he had moved his mouth at all. “I could have sworn,” she began, but then stopped and rolled her eyes. “And now I’m talking to myself again. Why can’t you just stop?” she huffed. “Because I’m worried, that’s why. And when I’m worried, I start rambling out loud,” she answered, before sighing. “Oh great. The second sign is when you start answering yourself,” she said, shaking her head and staring down at Draco.

Her eyes opened wide, as she saw a tiny smile escape from the side of his mouth. She stood flabbergasted, not sure what to do. Her eyes were not deceiving her; she saw him smile and knew it really was him who spoke. She leaned down closer to him, needing reassurance. “Draco?” she whispered, waiting for an answer.

Draco slowly opened his eyes and smiled at Hermione. “Don’t worry. You’re not insane.”

She began to cry, as he continued to stare into her eyes. Without a second thought, she leaned in closer and lightly kissed his lips, needing to feel his touch. When she backed away, wiping her tears, she noticed some color had returned to his ashen face.

“You kissed me,” he smiled.

She chuckled, while gliding her hand through his hair. “You say it like I’ve never done that before,” she winked.

“Not in my own body,” he replied, as he closed his eyes and moaned in satisfaction by her tender movements in his hair.

She suddenly felt flushed, realizing he was right. She stared down at him and, seeing his eyes were still closed, smiled as she moved in closer. She softly kissed his forehead and then slowly began kissing down his face, over his eyelids, on his cheeks, and down his jaw line. She smiled to herself, as she heard his tiny moans, while she continued to slowly kiss his features, finally ending on his lips.

He opened his eyes, wanting to look at the girl he was kissing. His heart beat rapidly, as their tongues intertwined. She slowly opened her eyes, wanting to look at him as well. They kept their eyes locked on each other, while their tongues continued to dance in their mouths. For a few minutes, they both had forgotten where they were, focusing only on each other.

They finally broke free and stared affectionately toward each other, a little out of breath. Suddenly, Draco closed his eyes and yelped, as his body ached in pain. Hermione nervously backed away, scared she did something wrong. She hurriedly moved toward the door and peeked her head outside, hoping to find someone to help. She spotted a Healer walking down the hall and quickly ran toward her.

The Healer followed Hermione back to the room and hurried over to Draco, grabbing his wrist to feel his pulse. She studied his movements and moved her wand along his body, to locate the source of his pain. The wand glowed when she reached his stomach, and she quickly said a spell to alleviate the pain.

She turned toward Hermione and smiled. “It’s good that you were here,” she said, before turning back to him. “How are you feeling?”

Draco groaned, as he felt the pain subside. “I feel like my insides have been shredded,” he stated, not yet knowing the reality of his words.

Hermione grabbed his hand and held it tightly, while the Healer continued to scan his body for any other problems. Narcissa and Snape had entered his room by now and quickly ran to his side, when they noticed he was awake.

“Is he okay?” Snape asked the Healer.

She nodded, as her wand did one last scan and didn’t find anything. “I believe he just had a painful reaction to one of his kidneys sealing back up,” she explained.

“My what what?” Draco frantically asked, looking over at his mother for an answer.

Narcissa gently stroked his hairline, as she looked over at the Healer. “So, what does this mean?”

The Healer smiled, as she looked over at Narcissa. “It means your son’s body is finally cooperating with the potion we used and is starting to heal itself.”

Snape wrapped his arm around Narcissa’s shoulders and gave her a tight squeeze. She looked over at him and smiled, before staring down at her son.

“So, he’s going to be alright?” Hermione asked, still not letting go of his hand.

Draco looked over at Hermione, still confused with what happened to him, and then toward the Healer. The Healer nodded, as she lifted his free hand and checked his pulse once more on his wrist. He turned toward Hermione again and smiled, seeing her tears start to fall again. Once the Healer released his hand, he brought it up toward Hermione’s face and wiped the tears away with his thumb. “Hear that, love?” he softly whispered. “I’m going to be fine.”

She nodded, as she rested her forehead against his and stared lovingly into his eyes. “You’re going to be fine,” she quietly repeated, needing to hear it once more to give her comfort.

He smiled, as he took a deep breath, before finally voicing those three special words to her. “I love you.” 

A/N: Thanks to everyone who has reviewed my story and even made it one of their favorites.  It really means a lot to me.  :)  And I hope you all liked this last chapter.  It's kind of sad to see this story over, but it was a great journey.  :)

Now, can I let you all in on a little secret?  :)  I'm thinking about doing a sequel.  So, if I do, I hope to see some of you return and check it out.  Thank you again to everyone!

** EDIT ** I have finally decided to post my sequel!  The title is called "The Return to Innocence"  Hope you will stop by and take a look!

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