Chapter 18 : Check In-and-Out
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A/N: Due to the sudden HPFF crash, all the reviews my faithful readers left for the previous five chapters are lost. L Since I can’t get them back, I was hoping that everyone that’s reading this can do me the favor of leaving a review on those chapters. I’d sincerely appreciate it. J Thanks.
Hermione woke up at exactly seven o’clock the following morning. When she turned to her side, she smiled.
Last night wasn’t a dream.
Hermione snaked her hand over Draco’s bare chest, lightly caressing his muscles with her fingertips. This movement woke Draco up quite quickly. His face broke into a mischievous grin as he turned sideways, facing Jean.
“Good morning,” he said as gently as ever. “Sleep well?”
Hermione matched his grin and replied, “Just fine.”
Draco slid his hand down Hermione’s arm until he reached her hand. He brought it to his lips and kissed each fingertip softly.
Hermione slipped her free hand into Draco’s smooth blonde hair, ruffling it a bit. “You need a haircut,” she said jokingly.
Draco chuckled. “And a shower.” He turned to face the edge of the bed and stood up, stretching and yawning at the same time. He peeked over his shoulder at her and smirked. “I’m ready to start a new day with you.”
Hermione lifted herself by propping up on the bed with her elbows. “Where do you want to go then?”
Draco smirked. “Anywhere, as long as you’re my eyes.”
Hermione smiled as she watched Draco grab a pair of his clothes from the wardrobe and head for the bathroom.
She then sat up and grabbed her wand. “Accio t-shirt,” she said. Since she wasn’t specific, a whole pile of white t-shirts came flying at her from Draco’s wardrobe. She laughed to herself as she threw one of the t-shirts on. It was a bit big for her. It almost reached all the way to her knees. She stood up from the bed, her legs shivering from the lack of clothing, and raced to her bedroom, pulling on a pair of jeans.
While going downstairs, she was making her way to the kitchen when she heard the doorbell ring.
Puzzled that someone actually stopped by after nearly two months, she went to the door and opened it. Hermione gaped at the person standing in the doorway, unable to grasp the right words to say at the moment.
“Morning, Ms. Granger, dear,” the elder woman in a black cloak said. She eyed Hermione from the head down and added, “Did I wake you?”
Hermione quickly regained herself and shook her head. “N-no, no! Not at all, Healer Vaquero!” She stepped aside. “Please, come in.”
Bertha Vaquero (a healer from St. Mungo’s) walked inside the house and watched Hermione shut the door behind her. “Please, have a seat.” Hermione gestured to the nearby couch.
“No, no, dear. That’s quite alright. I have to be going soon anyway.” Bertha gazed around the living room. “I’m here to see Mr. Malfoy. I need to do a check-up on him to see if his vision is improving.”
“Oh, ahem. Well, Drac--I mean, Mr. Malfoy, is upstairs, I’ll go get him for you.” As Hermione turned to go up the stairs, she noticed that Draco was coming down. He was wearing jeans, but no shirt. And his wet hair was dripping water down his neck onto his bare chest.
Hermione’s face flushed and she had to avert her gaze from Draco‘s body, because something about him that moment had turned her on.
“Uh, Mr. Malfoy, someone is here to see you,” Hermione said in the strongest voice she could produce at that moment.
“Yeah, I thought I heard voices. Who is it?” Draco said as he reached the end of the steps.
Before Hermione could respond, the Healer spoke up. “I’m Healer Bertha Vaquero from St. Mungo‘s Hospital. I’m here to have a check-up on your vision.”
Draco frowned. “Well, I still can’t see. What do you want to check-up on?”
“I want to see if there’s been any improvement, Mr. Malfoy,” Bertha replied sternly. “Now, have a seat.”
Draco obeyed. He reached the couch and sat down as neatly as a person with perfect vision could do.
“I’m impressed, Mr. Malfoy,” Bertha said. “It seems you’re having no trouble at all without your sight.”
Draco smirked mischievously. “I had help.” Hermione blushed once more.
“Yes, well…” The Healer busily rummaged through her leather bag, pulling out a few items. “Aha!” She pulled out a huge pair of glasses and a feather with a vile of bluish smoke.
“Okay, Mr. Malfoy. This is tear gas,” Bertha said opening up the vile. “I want you to inhale it and hold it for a few seconds. It will release tears from your eyes. Don’t worry, it’s completely harmless, but--let me warn you--it will sting your insides, but don’t exhale it until I say so.”
She held the vile up to Draco’s nose, who inhaled it with a long breath. He held his breath pretty well, but then his eyes turned a sudden pinkish color around his bluish pupil. Then, a tear slid down from each eye, and Bertha caught it on the gray feather.
“Okay, now you may exhale,” she said, examining the feather.
Hermione watched silently. Draco exhaled a long breath, wiping his face clean of tears with the back of his hand.
Bertha brought the huge glasses to her eyes and Hermione immediately figured out that she was using a magnifying glass.
“Hmm….” Bertha said as she watched the place on the feather where the tear had fell. “Interesting. There’s a lot of improvement.”
“Will I get my sight back?” Draco asked hopefully.
“I’m not a seer, my dear boy!” Bertha said in a humorous tone. “I’m a healer. This test only revealed that there have been improvements. I cannot say precisely when, but there is--a chance of hope--that your sight could come back any day now.” She packed up her supplies.
“Alright then. I must be off now.” Healer Vaquero headed for the door. “I have another patient to visit as well. You take care now, Mr. Malfoy.”
She headed to the door with Hermione by her side. “So, you’re certain that his sight will return?”
Bertha nodded her head. “Most definitely, but I cannot give a precise date or time.”
“Thank you for coming, Healer Vaquero.” Hermione opened the door.
“Take care, my dear.” Bertha replied and strolled outside, past a little boy riding his bicycle who was staring strangely at her.
Hermione shut the door and leaned her head against it. She should be happy that Draco was about to get his sight back soon, right? Then why did she have a knot in the deep pits of her stomach that was telling her otherwise?
The day went by pretty numbly for Hermione since she kept thinking about what Healer Vaquero had told her…had told them.
She wanted to tell Draco who she really was, but something in her mind was fighting against it.
Why would he have made love to me if he didn’t care about me?
The common answer she was getting back was, because he’s a man. All men want is the same thing.
But Draco loves me!
Not the real you. He doesn’t even know who you really are.
What if I tell him?
What if he doesn’t feel the same about you then? Do you really want to risk it?
Hermione bit her bottom lip. She hadn’t thought about that. What if Draco did change the way he felt about her once he figured out who she really was? Was it really something she wanted to risk? She had never felt this way before about a guy and now, was she going to risk it by revealing her true identity? There’s a chance that Draco could accept her…but then there was also the possibility that he could resent her. Did she want to live with the feeling of being so loved or with the feeling of regret when revealing the truth?
She knew one thing for sure…if she did reveal who she was, she could never take it back. So, Hermione did the one thing that she found to be most safe, she bottled up her feelings. She didn’t want to risk it because she really did love Draco…and for him to feel the same way about her (that moment) was the greatest feeling in the world and she didn’t want to lose it.
“Hey, love,” Draco said, bringing Jean closer to him. “You’re pretty quiet. Are you alright?” Draco was worried that the feeling of regret was finally catching up with Jean. He hoped that she didn’t regret what they shared last night.
Hermione smiled softly. “I’m fine. Just a bit cold, that’s all.”
“I can fix that.” Draco rubbed his hand up and down Hermione’s bare arm. “Is that better?”
Hermione’s mood brightened. “Yes, it is.” It really was making her feel better. “We should probably get inside, it’s getting dark.”
They stood up and walked hand-in-hand back to the house, Hermione smiling the whole way.
That night wasn’t as great as the night before--per se--but it was just as sweet. Draco magically widened his bed for him and Jean to sleep cozily and openly together.
Hermione wasn’t 100% certain at first, but with a little persuasion from Draco, she finally gave in.
They rested in each other’s arms throughout the whole night, Hermione occasionally tossing and turning, but Draco rested peacefully.
The next morning, Hermione was the first to get up bright and early; 6:30 to be exact. She sneaked a quick warm shower and headed downstairs to get breakfast started.
Around 7:30, Draco came strolling down the stairs like a joyful kid with a lollipop. “Morning, Jean,” he said entering the kitchen. He immediately wrapped his arms around Jean’s waist from behind, kissing her shoulder.
Hermione’s heart thumped loudly and uncomfortably in her chest from the moment she left the bed. Ever since the Healer had revealed information about Draco getting his sight back any day now, Hermione was always risking yet another day she spent with Draco; fearing he would wake up one day, see her in his bed and…Merlin, she didn’t want to think what he would do.
“What are you making today, love?” He asked, his arms still locked around Jean.
“I’m making scrambled eggs. You want some?” Hermione asked as normal as possible.
“Sure.” Draco kissed Hermione’s neck. “Thanks, love.”
When they sat down on the table together to get started on their breakfast, Hermione couldn’t eat, let alone look in Draco’s direction.
What am I going to do?
Hermione thought miserably as she poked her scrambled eggs with her fork. I’m risking my identity every day now just being here.
That afternoon, when Draco was outside seated underneath the oak tree, playing with the golden snitch, Hermione started preparing lunch for them outside; a picnic as Draco had suggested.
As Hermione magically sealed Draco’s sandwich, a brown owl came flying in from the backyard. Hermione wasn’t afraid, being used to seeing owls occasionally as they sent and brought messages in the wizard world.
She watched as the owl sat down on the kitchen counter, pecking at his wings. As soon as Hermione untied the parchment from his foot, the owl flew on his way. Hermione unrolled the parchment and read…
Ms. Hermione Granger,
Your nursing services are coming to an end. Hearing from Healer Bertha Vaquero that you have successfully aided Mr. Draco Malfoy in caring for himself, you have been given full permission to leave your post. If you feel you need to continue caring for the patient, then you may proceed. The choice is entirely up to you.
We will contact you when further assistance is required.
St. Mungo’s Healer,
Matilda J. Honeyweed
Hermione crumpled up the letter and tossed it in the trash. She was given the opportunity to run away from all of this. Would she do it?
Spotting the owl looking at her strangely, Hermione picked up a pen and paper from beside the phone and wrote her letter. She tied the note to the owl’s leg and murmured something under her breath while pointing her wand at the owl.
As if understanding what to do, the owl flew out the backyard in which he came, disappearing in the fluffy clouds outside.
Hermione took a deep breath and retrieved her picnic basket from the counter and walked into the backyard, approaching Draco.
I hope I’m doing the right thing.
Ron was sitting just outside the Burrow, playing Wizard’s chess with his older brother, Fred, when a brown owl came flying at the pair of them.
“Whoa!” Fred exclaimed when the owl perched right upon their chessboard. The little Wizards went jumping and screaming off the board, looking for cover in the grass.
“Bloody hell!” Ron cursed untying the note from the owl’s foot. He unfolded it and read it in a flash, his eyes widening in surprise.
“Who’s it from?” Fred asked, collecting the little chess Wizards from the ground and into his hands.
“Hermione.” Ron whispered.
Fred raised an imitating eyebrow. “Really? What does it say?”
Ron’s eyes still on the paper, responded, “She’s coming here.”
Fred smirked at his brother. “When?”
Ron, still in much shock, looked at his brother now and replied, “Tomorrow."
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