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Living with a Muggle by cerespallas
Chapter 2 : Relatives
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 2


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Part 2

Relatives




They stared at each other. One had a disbelieving look on her face while the other appeared cold and distant. After a while, his gaze flicked to the hospital gown in her hand, grey colour in his eyes turned paler.

"Well, well… so now, dirty Mudblood is a nurse in a Muggle hospital. How fitting."

Hermione released herself from trance and glared at Draco. Even after three years, he had never lost his hatred to Muggles.

She tossed the gown to his face. "I am not a nurse."

Draco removed the gown from his face with one hand, the other supporting his frame on the floor. "Not a nurse? Oh, sorry. You are a nurse-to-be, correct?" He waved the gown in front of her face. "Mudblood nurse-to-be, now help me change my clothes."

She clenched her fists, counting to ten.

He smirked in his usual I-am-better-than-Mudblood kind of way, still waving the gown and waiting for her to lose her temper. When her mind-count reached ten, Hermione smiled. He blinked in surprise, expecting tackle and claws. Too bad, she would not tackle a crippled patient, even when the patient was Draco.

"Yes, Mr. Malfoy." Hermione snatched the gown from his hand. Draco's brows furrowed. He had begun to stink, obviously just changing his clothes would not be enough to clean Draco 'foul ferret' Malfoy.

"Wait! What do you think you're doing?" Draco clutched his old hospital gown, halting her from pulling it off. "You're not going to do it!"

Hermione set up an innocent look on her face, tilting her head. "But this is my job, Mr. Malfoy! I am about to sponge bath you as well!"

"Spo—" Draco paled. "No! As if I will let a Mudblood bathe me!"

"What?" Hermione showed a pretend shock. "But this is my job!"

"I said no! You will not touch me!" He hunched his back, hand gripping the front of his shirt, eyes glaring at her.

Hermione threw her hands up in the air, glancing up to the ceiling in hyperbolic act. "You don't give me much choice, do you?" She stood up, walking to the bed and pressing the call button. Draco glared, refusing to let the Mudblood away from his sight.

"What are you doing?"

Why, I am giving you the taste of your own medicine, of course. "I will have to ask a group of nurses to help me bathe you."

Draco's eyes bulged out. "What? No! No! NO!"

Hermione examined the man, now that she was far enough to do so. He was thin. His hair was long, falling from the shoulder to his back. He was wearing a blue hospital gown. She frowned when she saw his knee. A red long stitch marked the thigh to the ankle. She noticed how Draco struggled to stay still. His eyes were staring at her in curiosity.

"What are you thinking?" he blurted out.

Before she had the time to retort, the door opened. Hermione smiled to the nurses. They were built and looked strong. "Please help me bathe him."

What happened next would be a great memory to Hermione. When her best enemy was screaming and trying his best to escape from the hands of two Muggles, Hermione held her laugh, pretending to be a professional instead of taking out her cell phone and recording the glorious moment from the start to the end.




"Do you feel comfortable if I set your pillow like this?"

The Mudblood crossed her arms, standing in front of his bed. "I don't think he'll feel good. Maybe you should lift the upper frame."

After the awkward sponge bath incident, they had moved him to his bed. Draco shut his eyes, pretending to be asleep. He did not wish to talk to anyone surrounding him right now.

One of the nurses turned to the Mudblood after lifting the upper bed frame. "You think this will make him comfortable?"

"Hmm… maybe you better turn the frame lower," replied Hermione.

Was he the only one who heard a tone of amusement in her voice?

The other nurse fixed his pillow. "Now… young man, is this comfortable for you?"

Again, the Mudblood was the one who replied, "I think he prefers a hard pillow. He slept better with that rather than the softer ones."

Draco gritted his teeth. His head fell to the bed. The nurse who had taken his pillow paced to the cupboard.

It was hard pretending to stay asleep when all he wanted to do was to strangle the Mudblood.

Draco let out a deep sigh when they lowered the upper bed frame. Yet when he felt a hard pillow placed under his head, he considered opening his eyes and threw a spell or two to the commanding girl. He could not emit any spell without a wand, but the attempt of cursing deadly spells at her would make him feel better.

"Jean," one of the nurses said to the Mudblood, "I didn't know you have a boyfriend."

"What?" The Mudblood sounded puzzled. "He wasn't… We're acquaintances."

"Really?" the other nurse piped in. "But you do know he slept better with a hard pillow. I don't think an acquaintance would know about that."

Draco peeked to see the Mudblood's reaction, arching his eyebrow when he saw her stammer.

Huh. Interesting…

"I-I am not his girlfriend!" the Mudblood stuttered. "I am not!" She glowered at him. "Tell them I'm not your girlfriend."

She knew he was not asleep after all.

Taking his time, Draco fluttered his eyelids in slow motion. All three pairs of eyes on him when he grinned. "What is it, Honey?"

The nurses shifted to the Mudblood. Her face went through a set of motions. Draco closed his eyes when he noted that she settled in a fuming rage.

"You—" the bushy-haired girl said. "I will make you—"

"Is there anything else? I'm very tired." Draco yawned.

The two nurses took their leave and sauntered out, leaving them. Draco could not help but notice their whispers and glances. The Mudblood breathed as deep as she could. Draco always thought it was her way of calming her temper, so he tried to flare her wrath further.

After all, that was where he excelled.

"So… Mudblood." He grinned. "How could you ask your two seniors for things you're supposed to do yourself? What a bad nurse, baaad dirty-Mudblood-nurse…"

He knew that blaze in her eyes. That was the same look she had had in her eyes when she gave him a face punch years ago.

He succeeded.

Draco knew he had won. After she hit him, he would call a nurse and sue the Mudblood. That was what Muggles did best, right? They were good at blaming each other.

When her fist flew to his grinning face, the door opened. The two turned to the door, her balled fist stopped halfway, one inch from his face.




A tall man with the white lab suit entered, a stethoscope hung on his neck. He was around thirty; cheekbone sculpted high with a set of green eyes and black hair. He stopped and frowned to the guilty face of Hermione.

Hermione drew her hand back.

"Dr. Kelley!" Hermione looked like a silly kid with her hand inside the cookie jar. She stood straight and let out a nervous smile as the doctor approached.

"Hermione," Dr. Kelley said. "What are you doing?"

"What? This?" Hermione raised her hand, the one she had intended to use for a good thump on a sneering face of Malfoy. "It's just a game. We're friends; this is the kind of game we've been playing since we're kids."

Draco rolled his eyes.

"HM." Dr. Kelley turned to Draco. "How are you?"

Draco arched his eyebrow. "Who are you?"

Dr. Kelley held out his right hand, waiting for Draco to shake it. "I am Sean Kelley." Draco did not move at all. The Doctor pulled his hand back. "I was the one who performed your surgery."

"Muggle Doctor," Draco said.

Dr. Kelley frowned. "Excuse me?"

"He said 'Mighty Doctor'," Hermione reached out and held Draco's arm, squeezing it in a death grip.

"Yeah, yeah…" Draco cursed when her nails dug deeper into his skin. "I mean, yes, mighty. Tch." She released his arm.

"So… you two are friends?" The Doctor crossed his arms.

Hermione nodded while Draco fixed his gaze at an empty corner. There was no one in the hospital that did not know about Sean Kelley. He was one of the best surgeons in the medical field. She was hoping to be like him.

"Well…" Dr. Kelley said, "I think it's time for you, John Doe, to mention your real name and address. We need to contact your family today."

Draco grimaced. "John Doe?"

"That was what we call every unknown man." Dr. Kelley stared, waiting.

"I am an orphan, my name's Draco," Draco said at last. Hermione turned to him in surprise. "And she…" He pointed to her. "Is my only relatives."

"What?" Hermione gasped.

"A friend can't be listed as your relatives." Dr. Kelley said.

Draco licked his bottom lip. "That's what she always said who we are: friends. We had slept under the same roof for six years, you know." Of course, the doctor had no idea about Hogwarts. Draco did not lie.

Dr. Kelley turned to Hermione who struggled to put up a quick response. Yet she could not form anything that would not reveal her previous life. The Doctor put his hands inside his pocket.

"Well… if that's the case, I think we can list your girlfriend as a relative. I'll tell the admin to come to do your administration later."

Hermione shook her head. "No! I am not—"

"I'm going to be late for next surgery." The doctor ignored her. "I'll see you again tomorrow. Have a good rest." He turned away and strode out from Draco's room, leaving Hermione who waved her hands frantically.

Draco watched Hermione clutch her head in horror, snorting when she let out a pitiful groan. "Wow… you sure have a nice way of expressing yourself."

Hermione glared at him. "You are one big fat—"

"A-ah." Draco lifted his index finger. "I am not big and certainly not fat. I didn't lie about us."

"You're just saying you're an orphan!"

"In the Muggle world, I don't even exist." Draco sneered. "But you are. You're quite well known in here."

A chill crept up Hermione's back.

"Mudblood," Draco said. "If you tell them who I am, I will have to tell them who you are."

If anyone told her that this day would come, the day when she met her childhood enemy again, and he would threaten her like this, Hermione might never believe it.

"You…" She gritted her teeth. "Did you just blackmail me?"

Draco showed his white straight teeth. "What do you think, Mudblood?"




"Hey, Jean! There you are!"

Hermione looked up from her table. She had been sitting inside the class since early morning and taking notes of the lecture. This class was not even in her schedule, but doing it wasn't new to her. She had been doing this since she entered the college. At first, some professors wondered about her extraordinary enthusiasm to learn, but then they decided to let her do what she wanted.

The classroom was empty when Eve and Victor ambled towards her. Hermione nodded in greeting, turning back to her writing. The two had been her friends since they had taken their first class together. Eve Francesca was a blonde girl with blue eyes, while her boyfriend Victor White had a brown hair and eyes. He wore a pair of turtle square-framed glasses, often reminding Hermione to Harry.

Eve sat next to her. "You've been early again today. Don't you have anything better to do than listening to another class's lecture?"

The girl in question shrugged, continuing to fill her notes.

Victor sat next to Eve. Unlike his bubbly American girlfriend, he did not talk much. He was smart, scoring a second rank in their class. Of course, Hermione was the first.

Eve moved her head, leaning her chin against Hermione's shoulder. "Want to go together later? Vick wants to treat us in his dad's café."

"Okay." Hermione still hadn't looked up. "Later."

"We don't have another class before three today, right?" Eve asked. Victor shook his head. "Great! So… let's go now!"

Hermione shook her head. "I can't. There is another class coming after this. I can't miss the next lesson."

"What?" Eve sulked. Hermione's cell phone rang. "Jean… you're not even listed in those classes!"

"Wait a minute." Hermione drew her mobile phone. St. Mary Hospital. She answered the call.

"Jean," a familiar voice said. It was the receptionist she often met in her volunteer work. "Dr. Kelley wants you to come here as soon as possible. We need you to sign in for your boyfriend's surgery."

"My b—" Hermione glanced at Eve and Victor who were listening. She tried to apply vague statement so that her friends would not be curious. "That person needs another of those? Why did you call me?"

"You're his only relatives, Jean," the receptionist said. "How soon can you come here?"

Hermione smacked her forehead in annoyance, sighing. "Like—right now?"

"Great. Dr. Kelley will be waiting for you. Good morning, Jean."

"Morning." Hermione ended the call, sliding the phone back into her pocket. She collected her study materials and shoved it inside her bag before standing up. "Sorry, I have to go now."

"Something happened?" Eve stood up as well; curiosity in her eyes.

"Yeah, family issue." Hermione combed her hair with her fingers. "I'll come back as soon as I can. I'll meet you at your dad's café, is that okay Vick?"

Victor nodded.

Waving to them, she left the classroom.

So now I am responsible for the ferret? Great. Just great. If by another surgery he can walk again and leave the hospital–and my life—I will sign for him. Maybe I can ask the doctor not to give him anaesthetics. I can try to convince Dr. Kelley that he cannot wake up if he injects him… No, wait. The doctor knew better, he had performed on him.

Oh, I will tell the nurse that he has this extreme allergic reaction to all meat, tofu, egg, sugar and rice. At least he will not eat anything good.

...Hermione, that is so low. And lame.

Hermione sighed.




Half an hour later, Hermione was standing in front of Sean Kelley's office. She checked her appearance before rapping on the door.

"Come in."

Hermione entered, nodding to the doctor. He sat behind his desk, motioning her to sit on the chair in front of him.

"I just have to sign the paper…" Hermione sat. "There is nothing else I have to do, right? I have another appointment. I can't stay during his surgery."

Dr. Kelley studied her, his face emotionless.

"Hermione," he said. "I have something to tell you."




She was standing in the hospital hallway, arms crossed, gaze fixed to the door. He was supposed to appear right about… now.

He showed up on time, showing annoyance and disgust as the nurse pushed the bed he was laying on. Draco gazed at the ceiling, counting on the lamp he was passing, one by one. When the bed halted near the girl, he turned to her.

"I've signed for your surgery." Hermione stared back at him. "I have to go now."

Draco waved his hand. "Just go. No one asked you to stay."

Hermione kept her stare at him, making the man wondered.

"Keep him alive," she said to the nurses. "I don't care if you cut his leg or his hand. Just keep him alive."

"Hey!" Draco said. The nurses chuckled. "What was that?"

Hermione ignored him, moving away. The conversation with Dr. Kelley filled her mind.




"Hermione, I have something to tell you."

She swallowed. Oh no. "I really don't know what he was talking about, Doctor."

The man stared at her. "…What?"

"The whole Muggle-thing he was talking about." She shifted in her chair. "I really don't know why he called you a Muggle. Or any other nurses as Muggles. I can only think that he had lost his—"

"Hermione." Dr. Kelley held up his hand, stopping her. "It's not about that."

"It's not?"

"Listen," Dr. Kelley faltered, thinking about what he should say, and decided to hand her the folder instead. "I think you'll understand. You've learned this."

She flipped the folder open, taking one of the files. Looking at the area circled by a marker, she frowned. Comprehending the problem, she sighed and slid the file back in the folder.

"Spinal cord injury…" she whispered, more to herself.

Partial spinal cord injury. Lower area. Nerve fibres damage. Not a real spinal cord damage—lumbar vertebra.…

Dr. Kelley studied her impassive face. He knew she understood. He had never seen a girlfriend who was so composed after they found out about their boyfriends' conditions.

Hermione knew what this indicated. It may be possible for him to walk again, but the process took a few more surgeries and more than a year in aggressive physical rehabilitation. It would be hard for anyone involved. Most often, the patient was so devastated they gave up walking altogether.

She could not stay with Draco for years, helping him to walk again when she had a lot to do herself. This was insane.

What did I sign up for?

Hermione closed the folder before turning to the Doctor, handing the folder back. " Where is the form?"

Dr. Kelley arched his brow. This girl was too calm. "Don't you want to talk about it?"

"Maybe later." Hermione did not want to talk about Draco, ever. It was hard enough pretending to be his girlfriend. She did not want to be a part of this. She had to find out another cure, rather than depending on Muggle medical skill. The one that could cure him as fast as possible.

Her brows furrowed. No Muggle ability…

That means wizardry?




She peeked into the room, looking for her friends. When Eve and Victor noticed her, they waved. She smiled, pacing into the café. The owner of the café painted the wall in pastel colour. The light dimmed for a romantic scene, black wood was the main material for the furniture. The tables draped in soft orange cloth, a candle was set in the centre of each. When Hermione walked to her friends and pulled a chair for herself, she smelled a faint vanilla scent from the aromatic candle lit in the centre of their table.

"Your 'family thing'..." Eve supported her chin against her palm, elbow against the table, looking at Hermione with curiosity. "Is it done?"

"Pretty much." Hermione draped her brown coat against the armrest. "So, what's wrong?" She clasped her hand on top of the table, smiling at her two friends.

"Pretty much nothing happened. Boring." Eve huffed, crossing her arms. "Oh yeah, finally, my mom opened her craft shop."

"Oh?" Hermione accepted the menu from the waiter. "It sounds nice. I'll visit sometime."

"It's nearby, just a few blocks away from here," Eve said. "We need more workers, someone to supply us with candles and key rings. You want to do it? The pay isn't much but it's better than nothing."

"Hmm…" Hermione did not need additional income. She rarely spent her money for anything other than books and tools. "I'll think about it."

"We also need more waiters," Victor said. "We don't have a lot of customers, but somehow my dad said he needs more people."

"I can't have a part-time job. My free time is limited as it is." Ordering a cup of tea, Hermione spun the gear in her brain, filled with plans to cure Draco.

Wizardry… I need a potion that will cure him. Fixing injured spine…

She stayed quiet in her seat, even when Eve and Victor went into a weird debate about 'which professor wears a wig' and 'why did Professor Anna wear so many layers of foundation, it became her second layer of skin'.

Probably I should get back to the hospital after my class. I need to talk to Draco.

She pretended to listen when Eve babbled about some apparitions on the big hall after eleven at night. Victor countered, saying that he would leave a tape overnight in one of the chairs to prove the rumour wrong.

I cannot be stuck with him. I am busy; I cannot deal with Draco. I do not care if I look mean. I will contact his parents and ask them to pick him up. They can handle their son better than me.




"I don't understand! Why did you do that?" the man shouted.

They were standing in the road pavement. It was midnight; the streets were empty. Sometimes, a car or two passed by, lights from the vehicles illuminated the dark avenue.

He frowned, staring at the man in confusion. "Do what?"

"You took her from me!"

"I did not!" he said. "She's not your girlfriend. I don't understand why you decide to confront me now, after all this time. You can get your chance before I did." He shook his head. "It's not my fault she chose me. I don't even know you like her."

"You should know!" The man dashed to him, shoving him backwards with a brute force. "You should know!"

"I didn't!" He stepped back, avoiding the enraged man. "I didn't know, okay!" He sighed. "Listen, just forget about it. She's my girlfriend now. You've lost your chance a long time ago." He turned around.

He never saw it coming, but he felt it; the man shoved him to the road.

He tumbled into the hard pavement, face landing first. Gritting his teeth in anger, he turned around to yell at his aggressor. When he looked at him, he saw the man's face turn pale. He turned around.

Two bright lights dashed towards him. The lights were coming too fast.

When the car crashed against his body, he whispered her name.

Astoria...

He gasped, eyes snapped open.

Collecting his breath, he glanced around the room. He was lying in his hospital bed. Hermione sat on a single chair, a book spread open on her lap. Her coat lay against the armrest.

She stared at him. "Are you okay?"

"Perfect." He leaned his head back to the pillow. "Just—perfect."

Hermione frowned. "Do you need anything?"

"No." He covered his face. "I'm fine."

Hermione closed her book, leaning down to slide the book in her bag that rested below her chair, standing up and strolling to his side. "I think it is time for you to call your parents."

Draco peeked at her from the gap between his fingers. "No."

"Call them." Hermione put her hand on her hip. "Just call them. I cannot babysit you all the time."

"No!" he shouted, dropping his hand from his face. "I didn't ask you to babysit me!"

"You don't?" Hermione arched her brow. "Then explain to me: how will you compensate me for taking care of you for years to come?" She saw his surprised expression. "You had no idea, didn't you?"

"What are you talking about?"

"You won't be able to walk away from here in just a week, Malfoy." She noticed his frown. "Do you really think that after the blow your body had suffered, you will be normal right away?"

"Where is the chocolate?"

"...Excuse me?"

"Where is the chocolate?" Draco's face was serious. "All you Muggles did was cutting me open, gluing something inside me. If I eat the chocolate I'll get better right away."

"The chocolate…" Hermione let out a tired snarl. "Draco, this is not Hogwarts. There is no chocolate that can fix injured spine."

"So then what is it?" Draco threw up his hand in the air, exasperated. "Tell me your 'Muggle thing' that can make me walk again!"

"It's called surgery," Hermione emphasized the word. "You can choose between cell transplant, electric stimulant, gene therapy, special medicine or physical rehabilitation. You will work hard to walk."

"Work hard?" he growled. "Why should I work hard for something I can do since I was a baby?"

"Because you were standing in the middle of the road when a car passed by," she said.

He narrowed his eyes, saying nothing.

"It will take more than a year," Hermione said. "I don't have that time for you." She snatched the wireless phone from the counter beside the desk, shoving it to his hand. "Call your parents. Or I'll do it."

Draco grabbed the phone, chucking it to the wall.

The phone shattered.

Hermione grumbled. "Nice try. I'll go to your house then." She turned around, ready to take her coat and left when Draco shouted.

"I can't let them see me like this!"

She turned to face him, crossing her arms. "Why can't you?"

Draco glared, but she didn't seem fazed. Closing his eyes, he whispered, "Because then I won't be their perfect son anymore."

After minutes of silence, she whispered soothing words that she had never thought she would say to him, "They love you. They won't think like that. No parents will reject their child just because he is not—"

"Look at me!" Draco pointed at himself. "I can't even move my own body…" He waved to his feet. "I will need assistance anywhere I go, for anything I do." He choked. "What makes you think my father will accept me?"

Hermione bit her lip. She knew how arrogant and prideful Lucius was, but she also believed that the man would do anything for his son. Then she saw Draco's face. He hunched, refusing to meet her gaze. He was ashamed with his own condition. He didn't want to meet his parents like this.

She looked away. "I'll come back tomorrow. Have a good rest." Grabbing her coat and bag, she walked out of the room.






Hm—Not this one…

She lay on the sofa, flipping through the pages of her research book. The night in her small flat was always peaceful. Hermione had no interest in music or television shows. She preferred to lie on her comfortable sofa, reading her medical books.

Her eyes scanned the articles further.

January fourteen… A mouse is walking again after spinal cord injury in eight weeks. The mice walked more slowly and less confidently than before their injury, but still recovered mobility. Recovery may depend on nerve cells within the spinal cord, having the time to reorganize and form a sort of bypass around the injured area.

I wish Draco is a rat.

Hermione turned to the door as she heard a rapping sound. "Yes? Who is it?"

"Hermione," a male sound echoed. "It's me."

She blinked, staring at the door. Then, she put her book aside and scrambled to open the door.

He leaned on the doorframe, showing his funny smirk. "Hey, how are you?"

She smiled, opening her arms and taking the tall redhead into a warm hug. "Hello, Ron."






"What are you doing here?" she asked with a faint smile, giving him a warm cup of coffee.

He accepted the cup she gave to him with both of his cold hands, wrapping his fingers around it and absorbing the warmth from the newly poured coffee. He had been climbing the stairs to her floor, wondering why she kept living in a place with a broken elevator. He had waited outside that inert elevator on the ground floor for half an hour, thinking that the Muggle transport was sluggish and slow, before he realized that the elevator was dead. He had considered to Apparate straight into her room. However, he could not raise himself up from death if she was startled and accidentally shot him with a Muggle weapon. He had watched too many Muggle films and thought she was holstering the deadly gun inside her coat, like everyone in that film titled 'Matrix-something' starred by several pale men in black.

"Just visiting," Ron said, watching her crossing the small living room with a measured pace.

He used to contact her every month, but they never met each other since a year ago, when the Ministry ordered Ron to investigate some wizarding issue. He had to stay low.

She dressed in a white long pullover and thick crème-coloured pants. Hermione was pale and her hair was still bushy, although now it looked better, tucked in her well-kept ponytail. He wondered if it had something to do with Muggle technique, frowning when he saw her pacing around.

"Something happened?"

"Huh?" She stopped, staring at him. "Um... No, just—" She mumbled, approaching and sitting next to him. "It's been some time since I last saw you."

"Yeah, it has."

Ron sipped the coffee. He was dressed in a brown long sleeved shirt and black pants, his red long coat lay on the armchair and long grey scarf cuddled his neck, providing warmth. When he joined the Ministry, he had decided to stop wearing his old 'family clothes' that had been passed down to him. Those looked more like a worn out washcloth than a standard work suit. Now, he had money to buy his own garments and enjoyed every part of it.

"I just want to know how you're doing. You look well." You are too thin, he thought. It seemed like she had lost a significant amount of weight since he last met her.

"Yes, I'm well." Hermione crossed her arms. Ron watched her arms and noted that his judgment were accurate. Her wrist and hands were scrawny, skin wrapping the bones without any layer of fat. She ought to have worked too hard and skipped her meal. "How is your family?"

"They're fine. Mom said you're visiting them once a month, is that true?" Ron watched her nod. "Thank you. They said hello."

He scanned the room. He knew the heater was broken, since he did not feel warmer in here. The living room connected to an open kitchen, where he saw a coffee machine and a microwave lay on a counter. A medium sized fridge standing next to it, a lot of papers pinned on the door. He only managed to catch some words like 'St. Mary hospital', 'class one seven thirty' and the rest was unintelligible. Must be some Muggle medical terms, since he had no clue how to translate sentences like, 'DM brok spin met Thurs, surg up met w/ dr kel'. It was out of his world. A television was facing the sofa, from the looks of it and lack of remote control nearby, it was of no use to her. Perhaps their meeting was even more frequent than her switching it on. The sandy-earth coloured sofa was comfortable, snug and squishy, he felt like drowning in it once he sat on it. A coffee table was resting in front of the couch, in a calculated range to grab everything placed on top of it while napping.

He rested the cup on the coffee table, before noting several thick books stacked on it. He tilted his head and read the titles in one of the books: 'Spinal Cord Injuries and Varieties of Treatment'. She must have been studying for her classes before he showed up.

"Actually, Herms," Ron said. "I've been thinking. Would you like to go with me this weekend?"

"Where to?"

"Um—" Ron scratched his head. "We'll just have dinner and maybe watch a Muggle movie. You need a break."

A smile formed on her lips. "You're asking me out on a date?"

"If you can't, it is fine then." Embarrassed, Ron looked away. It was weird how he felt awkward doing this. "I just thought we should catch up with some news, since we haven't seen each other for a while."

"Okay."

He turned to her. "Okay?" he repeated.

"Alright, I have nothing to do on the weekend." Hermione had already rearranged her To-Do list inside her massive mind-library. "Do you want to go on Saturday or Sunday?"

"Sunday," Ron said. "You have nothing to do on that day?"

"No," she said without a doubt.

"Great, I'll get you at seven," Ron said, looking at his watch and sighing. "I have to go back now; I have something else to do."

"Oh, okay." Hermione was in no hurry to stand up, handing him his coat.

Ron was wearing his coat as he ambled to the door, turning to Hermione who followed and opened the door for him. "I'm sorry it's a quick visit, I hope we can talk more on Sunday." He ended the conversation by taking the girl in a strong hug. "Bye, Herms."

Hermione locked the door after Ron left. Then she turned around, wide grin adorned her face. For a quarter of hour, the matter of Malfoy was simply forgotten as she started choosing the clothes for Sunday and circling the date on the calendar.

She had never had a date after she went into college. In addition, with Ron, which meant it would be fun. She would have to straighten her hair again sometime this week.

After the euphoria had passed, she realized her books were waiting for her. Hermione sighed and returned to her research. At least she now had something to look onward to, besides babysitting Malfoy.

Perhaps this week was not that bad.



-x-

Major correction: When you had Malfoy around, your life would always go bad.

It was late morning. The day was beautiful. It was supposed to be, white and pure snows had filled the road overnight, giving the serene feeling, sharing simple contentment as people travelled through it to start their day. It was supposed to be a beautiful day for everyone, including Hermione.

She stared at the paper. There was something missing from her calculation. She had never expected it to be this.

Standing in front of the receptionist counter, she let her hollow mood affecting her pose. Eyes staring at the paper she held, her body slouched. She tried blinking and even closing her eyes for a minute before fluttering it open, wishing it was a dream.

She was still standing there.

In the end, she decided to accept her fate. Hermione looked up, whispering in hesitation to the receptionist who watched her intently, "Is this correct?"

"Yes."

"You're not typing it wrong?"

"No, we're not, Jean."

"This." Hermione turned the paper towards the receptionist. "There are three—three—"

The receptionist traced the numbers with her finger. "Three zero behind that number, yes." She was worried at Granger's pale face. "Are you okay?"

Hermione turned the paper back, reading it with a rigid stare. She could not believe this. It must be some kind of mistake.

It was his hospital bill. She had to pay seven thousand pounds for Draco.

"I—" Hermione faltered, "I have to go home now. I'll—um, pay it as soon as I can."

"Are you sure? I mean, don't you want to see your boyfriend before leaving?"

If she saw him right now, she might end up hurting him out of temper and the cost would be higher. Hermione shook her head. "No, thanks. I have other things to do."

She folded the paper and slid it inside her coat pocket, lumbering out of the hospital.

Before the receptionist saw her walking to the elevator and called her, Hermione had planned to meet Draco and tell him that she concurred to help. However, she faced the hard truth. Helping a penniless wizard meant that she had to pay for him.

Now this was the fact: she didn't have that much money. She counted the money she had, in her bank account, her purse and even some changes in her pocket. She still needed at least five hundred pounds. If she gave all her money for his bill, she could never pay for her own. She would starve for a month. She couldn't ask her parents for money, they would be curious. She had never asked for more allowance than what she attained. She couldn't ask for her Hogwarts' friends help, she knew they would be marching down to the hospital at once, with various assassination plots in their furious mind.

Even if she had the money for his hospital cost, if Malfoy continued to stay in the hospital and acquire those expensive therapies and surgeries, she would pay a hefty price. Hermione groaned, knowing the wisest thing to do was to call his parents and tell them the truth. Nevertheless, she had promised herself to help him. Hermione had never been the one to back down on her pledge. She cupped her head in agony, facing her throbbing migraine. She crouched down on the street, hands wrapped around her aching head, wishing she had never come to her volunteer work.



Eve was reading a comic when she heard someone knocking on her door. She rested in the dinner chair behind a table, her hand was holding the book, another clutched her warm cup of tea. It was mid afternoon and she had no class, no date with Victor and no other important activity. The comic itself was as boring as it could get; a wide-eyed girl was bullied because she was pretty and the main hero fell in love with her at the first sight. There were even some cliché that the handsome hero uttered to his girl, making her blush (it was a well-drawn blush with several cross lines marking her nose). She wondered why the editor classified this book as comic instead of manga, but she kept reading it anyway.

"Who is it?" Eve stood up, leaving her tea and the comic book.

"It's me, Hermione," the guest said.

Eve smiled when she opened the door. "Hey! What's up? Come on in!" she said, allowing the girl in. Hermione dressed in her usual long brown coat, sporting a bloated backpack. She blew warm air to her cold gloveless hands.

"I see your heater works well."

"Why? Are yours broken or something?" Eve chuckled. "Want anything to drink? I got no coffee, though. You want some tea?"

"No, no." Hermione waved her hands. "I can't stay long."

"Oh." Eve looked dejected. "I was thinking if we can chat or something…"

"I'm sorry." Hermione set her backpack on the floor and crouched down, zipping it open. "If I remember correctly, you've said you want my clothes and you'll pay hundreds for it…"

Eve frowned, crouching and watching her friends pulling out several clothes. She accepted some clothes Hermione handed and inspected it.

"…Are you sure? I mean, these are your favourites." She held the clothes to her chest and stood up, checking if the clothes look good on her. Hermione finished pulling all of her clothes from her backpack, setting it on the floor and looking at Eve.

"Yeah, I need some money to—" She grimaced. "—Uh, buy some books."

"If you need money, I'll lend it to you." Eve crouched. "You don't have to do this. How much do you need?"

"It's okay. I don't feel good about borrowing money. It's not as I really need many clothes," she mumbled. "I bring …" Hermione looked down to her merchandise. "Ten set. How much will you give me for this?"

"Hmm…" Eve sat on the floor. "Let's see. How much do you need?"

"Four to five hundred." Hermione flinched when she saw Eve's surprised look. Her friend must have realized it was not for a book.

"Wow. That's a lot of books," Eve said, overlooking the matter. "I'll give you four hundred then." She pointed to the brown coat Hermione wore. "I'll pay another one hundred if you give me that coat, I always like it."

Hermione looked down to her favourite coat, the only coat she had. Biting her lips in deference, she stood up and slid out from her coat before giving it to Eve. The blonde girl grinned, sliding herself inside the coat and turning around.

"Hey, it's really smooth and warm!" Eve said. "Okay, I'll get my purse. Wait here."

Hermione watched Eve and her—Eve's coat disappeared from her sight as she skipped into her bedroom. The brown-haired girl crossed her arms in gloom and thought to herself as she waited, that Malfoy would have to pay her back, every cent of it.

She had no idea how a crippled man who couldn't even move by himself could pay her seven thousand pounds, but she would find a way.

—x—

His fingers waved in the air, tracing an imaginary art on the white ceiling. Bored was not even the right word to describe how he felt today. It was Thursday, and he waited for her to walk in with an annoyed expression on her face. He would then tease her and wait for her to lose her patience. She would yell and hit him.

At least it would be better than doing nothing.

Draco sighed, glancing at the wall clock. Eight at night and she had not showed up? What was wrong?

She used to come every day, until last Tuesday. He had waited forever and she never showed up. From the nurses, Draco heard that she was a med-student. He couldn't hope for her to come every day, they said. However, without Hermione to insult, Draco had nothing else to do. Dr. Kelley had been checking on his condition every day, commenting on some therapies he had to take and several varieties of surgeries that could bring him back to normal. Draco listened half-heartedly, refusing to talk to his surgeon. The Doctor always trumped out from his room with a sigh.

He turned his eyes to the door. The person he was waiting for finally walked in.

Nevertheless, there was something different. She was dressed in a thick red sweater and black pants, without her signature brown coat. Her face was stern as she paced to his bed.

"We're leaving," she said. "I'll take you home."

-x-

To be continued


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