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Chapter 21 : The Search
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Although he just got his sight back, Draco seemed to have gone deaf after hearing these specific words because he could no longer hear the Healer’s concerned voice asking him if he was alright.
“Did--Did you just say--Jean Granger?” Draco asked in a mere whisper.
Finally hearing Malfoy say something for a long moment of silence, the Healer smiled. “Yep, sure did. Although we didn’t call her by her middle name here at St. Mungo’s. She’s known as Hermione or Miss. Granger.”
Draco felt so many things that moment that he felt as if the room were spinning. He gripped the counter nearby to balance himself.
Jean. He thought. Granger. Hermione Jean Granger. The name continued echoing in his mind.
“Would you like to take a seat?” The Healer asked in a worried voice. “You’re looking pretty pale.”
Draco silently obeyed as he sat down on a chair that the Healer conjured for him in midair with his wand.
Draco held his head between his hands. Jean. She lied to me.
Well, technically she didn’t lie. Another voice intelligently responded in Draco’s mind. She just hid her real identity. And it’s no wonder that she did. You’ve taunted her and tortured her for so long. It’s a surprise that she didn’t murder you during your vulnerability.
“Merlin.” Draco inaudibly whispered. I can’t believe it’s Granger that was taking care of me the whole time. I can’t believe she’s the one…I’m in love with.
Draco took some time to let this soak in his mind. His vision was occupied with memories of the time he had spent with Je--Hermione.
He remembered her scent so well. Intoxicating vanilla. Her laugh was music to his ears. And her voice…
Draco mentally hit himself. He successfully put the puzzle together now. Of course! Her voice! Why hadn’t I figured it out before? I remembered her voice from some where! No doubt it belongs to Granger. He stood up now, so many emotions running through him at that moment.
“Mr. Malfoy, with all due respect, I advise you to sit down. You’re looking like a muggle that has seen a ghost.” The Healer spoke with strictness.
Draco ignored his words, or rather didn’t hear them, for his mind and heart were racing rapidly.
I understand why she didn’t reveal her true identity from the beginning, but that doesn’t explain afterwards. Why didn’t she tell me the truth after I had told her that I didn’t mind muggle-borns? What about after we had made love together? Why couldn’t she have told me?
Maybe she thought it would change the way you felt about her. The voice automatically replied.
Without giving a respond to his own voice in his mind, Draco cleared his head of the past thoughts and tried to figure out his next move.
Finally acknowledging the Healer’s presence, Draco glanced at him and asked, “Where does Gran--I mean, Hermione, live?”
The Healer shook his head disapprovingly and went to fetch the file once more. He glanced over it in a flash. “She resides at the Evergreen Flats at 425 Maple Rd. here in London. Her flat number is #15.” He was about to shut the file when he mockingly added, “Would you like to know her number, too?”
Draco said, “No,” and before the Healer had a chance to respond, Draco took his hand, shook it enthusiastically and was out the door in no time.
“Hey, Mione.” Ron spoke up from behind the bushy-haired preoccupied woman. He held up a book. “I thought you’d like this one.”
Hermione turned pale upon reading the title of the book. The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas.
“What’s wrong?” Ron asked, interrupting her thoughts. “You don’t like it?”
“It’s not that. It’s just that…I already read this book.” Hermione said with a momentary pause remembering the last time she read this book was when she was with Draco, regretting taking care of a patient without knowing who it was.
“I’m not surprised.” Ron said, blushing. “You do love reading. I just thought you might like it since it’s the first edition.”
“Thanks Ron.” Hermione said, still clinging onto the book. “I don’t mind reading it again.”
Ron’s face brightened. “Well, what do you say we get out of here and catch something to eat? It’s starting to pile in here.” He turned and pointed to a larger crowd gathering at the back of the bookstore. Apparently some famous author was supposed to come in and do some book signing.
Hermione agreed and they went to the front of the store, purchased a few books that Hermione had interestedly picked up and they left the shop, heading out into Diagon Alley.
“If you don’t mind Ron,” Hermione said when they were clear out of the packs of witches and wizards, “I‘d like to apparate to my flat for a quick second just to drop these things off.”
Ron nodded his head. “I’ll come with you.”
Hermione shook her head. “It’s alright. It’ll only take a second.”
Before Ron could protest, she disappeared and was back within a few minutes.
“I thought you said it would only take a second.” Ron jokingly said.
Hermione turned serious. “One of my neighbors dropped off some of my mail. She started asking me some things about my summer and where I’ll be staying and such. Nothing major.” She changed the subject. “Now, let’s go get some food, shall we? I‘m starving.”
They walked past many piles of wizards and witches who were mostly with their children doing last minute shopping for the start of the school year that was yet to come the start of the following month.
They finally made it past all the hustle and bustle, to Meg’s Café, that was newly built a year ago right next to the Weasley’s Joke shop.
Although outside the shop, it seemed quite peaceful, inside was quite the contrary. There was hardly no space to walk through and gangs--mainly teenagers--were seated at the many tables, chatting animatedly about random things.
Ron and Hermione managed to squeeze through and find a table in a corner beside the window where a blonde woman was sitting alone, sipping a butterbeer and appeared to be reading a magazine.
“Let’s go there.” Ron pointed to the table.
“No, Ron.” Hermione protested. “She might be waiting for someone. Let’s not bother her.”
“Come on.” Ron insisted. “We’ll just ask her. If she is waiting for someone, then we’ll wait till another table is cleared or we’ll leave.”
Before Hermione had a chance to respond, Ron was already making his way to the table and Hermione found herself chasing--yes, chasing--after him.
Upon getting there, Ron comfortably took his seat across the blonde woman, patting the seat beside him. “Go ahead and have a seat Mione.” Ron directed.
Hermione looked to the blonde woman and hoped she wasn’t minding, but upon seeing who it was, she grinned with surprise and joy.
“Luna!” Hermione took a seat next to her and gave her a friendly hug.
“Hullo Hermione.” She said, matching her grin.
“What are you doing here all by herself?” Hermione asked right away. “Are you waiting for someone?”
Luna’s smile slowly faded as she replied, “I still am…” He gaze went upon the redhead seated across from her. “…But I don’t know for how much longer.”
Draco knocked on the door of flat #15 for what was the fifth time. He didn’t hear any response and was positive she wasn’t home, but he was just making sure by pounding for the sixth time.
“You know, it’s polite to knock once and wait.” A feminine voice spoke up from behind Draco. He saw a thin Arabic woman coming up the stairs. Her head was covered with a shawl, hiding all of her hair, leaving only her face visible. She wore a silk black blouse with a long jean skirt.
“I’m looking for Hermione. Do you know where she is?” Draco asked.
The woman smiled lightly. “You just missed her. She came by her flat to drop off some things, but then was on her way again.”
“Did she say where she was going?” Draco pressed.
The woman shook her head. “That would be useful information now, wouldn’t it? But I’m sorry. She was in a hurry. She didn’t want to keep her friend waiting.”
Draco was feeling less and less satisfied each time he felt he was closer in finding Granger.
“Will anyone mind if I stay here and wait for her?” He asked hopefully.
“You’d have to talk with the innkeeper of these flats, but it wouldn’t be any use to wait for Hermione here.”
Draco looked at the woman oddly. “What do you mean?”
“Hermione mentioned that she won’t be coming here for the rest of the summer. Instead she’ll be staying with a friend so she can catch up.” The woman started fumbling with her keys, opening the door to flat # 14.
“Potter?” Draco thought aloud, but the woman quickly shook her head.
“No, I’m positive it’s not Harry she’s staying with.” She said.
“But how are you sure? You just said you didn’t know which friend she was staying with.” Draco said shortly.
“I know, but Hermione couldn’t be staying with him because Harry’s gone on his honeymoon with Ginny for the rest of the summer.” She slipped open the door and turned to face Draco. “Besides, there’s plenty of other friends of Hermione’s that she could be staying with. I could give you a list, but not an exact answer.” She gave another polite smile. “I’m sorry I couldn’t have been of more help.”
“No, you’ve been more helpful than you think. Thank you.” Draco disapparated as the Arabic woman entered her flat and shut the door.
Hermione relaxed on the lovely green grass at the open and occupied park. There were a few guys playing Frisbee close by, their greyhound occasionally jumping in the air to steal the flying disc.
There was a married couple with their newborn playing on the slide. Little toddlers were trying to build sandcastles in the sandbox and a few bicyclists whizzed past on the walkway, obviously racing each other.
Ron and Luna were seated next to Hermione on the grass, Luna busily reading her magazine upside down and Ron staring at his Quidditch book, but obviously not reading it.
Sensing something wrong, Hermione asked her redhead friend, “Is something bothering you Ron?”
“Hmm?” Ron said looking up. “It’s nothing.” He lied. “Just um--thinking about what Harry and Ginny are doing right now for their honeymoon.”
Hermione smiled. “Yeah, I haven’t heard from them in a while. I wonder they’re up to.” She placed down the book in her own lap and stared off into the distance where she saw a couple--teenagers--smooching under an oak tree. The boy sat with his back against the tree trunk and the girl was relaxing in his arms, leaning her head sideways to give him a kiss.
Her own mind started drifting off back to the days where she sat with Draco against the lovely tree and had no worries…well, except for one.
Even though she fought against it, she kept pondering where Draco was…and if he had gotten his sight back yet or not? Would he come to search for her? Well, he obviously wouldn’t succeed since she didn’t tell her full name. He’d probably go to St. Mungo’s….
But they wouldn’t release that kind of information to him! She assured herself.
But what if he finds a way…and what if he figures out who I am. Upon these thoughts filling her head, Hermione bit down on her lip anxiously.
What if…? She asked herself.
Draco had successfully apparated to the Burrow, but the problem was the same as the one he came across before, no one was home. And even if they were, what was he going to do? Just stroll across their lawn, knock on the door and say ‘Hi. Draco here. I’m looking for Hermione.’
He was mental, he was. He was starting to leave, once again, but a sudden thought occurred to him. Weasley worked at the ministry. He knew Arthur Weasley worked at the ministry anyway. He was the new Minister of Magic. Maybe he could ask him--kindly--of Hermione’s whereabouts.
He apparated there, even though he figured there was a slight chance he was going to be attacked and bounded and even sent to Azkaban. But it was worth a shot.
After Luna left the park, Ron and Hermione left to Ron’s flat and spent the rest of the evening seated outside the patio, staring at the stars. They were both seated comfortably on a bench outside the flats where there was a pool, a fence and lots of bushes.
Almost everyone that lived in the flats nearby had retreated to bed, and it seemed to Hermione that she and Ron were the only ones awake during that time.
“Don’t the stars look beautiful?” Hermione mindlessly asked as she stared off into space.
“Yeah.” Ron blankly answered back with his eyes on Hermione instead of the night sky.
Hermione found his gaze and her and met his eyes. “What?” She asked.
“N-nothing.” Ron said nervously. He waited for a while before speaking again. “Mione, you don’t think--I-I’m a git, do you?” Ron asked.
Hermione had to lean in to hear the last bit. “No, not at all.” She quickly said, raising an eyebrow. “Why would you even think that?”
“Well, I-I don’t know.” Ron answered truthfully. Thankful his flushed face was being concealed by the darkness, he asked, “Wh-what do you think of me?”
Hermione smiled genuinely. “Ron, you’re a lot of things, but you’re not a git. You’re sweet and a great guy to hang out with…”
Ron watched on mesmerized as Hermione continued listing great things about him. Not being able to control himself that moment, he reached forward and scooped Hermione’s face in his hands and placed an eager kiss on her lips.
Half-panicked and half-shocked, Hermione jerked away as soon as she could--mind you, Ron had a pretty tight hold on her face.
She stood up abruptly and so did Ron, who was panting and flushed from the whole face. “M-Mione--” He started, but Hermione stopped him.
“No, Ron. I’m sorry.” She said. Thinking unclearly, she raced to Ron’s flat and rushed in her room, locking the door and tossing herself onto her bed.
“So Granger, do tell me, because I‘m just dying to know,” A familiar male’s voice mordantly spoke from the corner of her bedroom, slowly emerging from the shadows, “Is Weasley a better kisser than I am?”
A/N: Is that an awesome ending to this chapter or what?? I just personally loved it, but I’ll leave the review and rating up to all of my amazing readers! And by the way, I finished this chapter late at night so sorry if there's some mistakes and such. As always, please leave a review :D Thanks.
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