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Living with a Muggle by cerespallas
Chapter 3 : First Night
 
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Part 3

First Night

-x—

She saw him stunned speechless. He gazed at her, wondering if she had lost her mind. The girl returned the stare.

"What are you talking about?" he asked. "I'm not going home with you."

"Yes, you are."

The blond man snorted, gazing back to the ceiling. "I'm not going to live with a Mudblood. No way."

Hermione shifted her weight to her right foot and placed her hand on her hip. "Look around you, Malfoy."

He raised one of his brows, feeling amused. "I know where I am now, Mudblood. I've stayed here for more than a week."

"Does it ever occur to you who have to pay for all this?"

Draco frowned. He'd never thought about it. Why did it matter now anyway?

"I'm the one who paid for your bills, Malfoy. I don't have money to pay for it anymore. Unless we leave right now, I'll be charged for another night."

"I don't know you're that poor." The man was hardly cared that he was in her debt. "So what if we got charged for another night? When I get better, I will pay for it."

"Nice," Hermione hissed. Draco wouldn't care even one bit. "So I'll call your father now and ask him to pay me back. He'll be the one who takes care of you."

She made a move to grab the phone. It was new, replacing the one he had destroyed. No wonder the hospital cost was so expensive. She wondered what else he'd ruined in his nine days of living in this place.

"What? No! What are you doing?" he drawled, grabbing her hand.

Narrowing her eyes, she shook his hand away. "If you still want my help, Ferret, you'll follow my orders."

"Wha—" Draco growled. "Ferret? Who are you calling Ferret?"

"Listen. You can either follow me home, or I'll leave you here and you'll get kicked out when they realized you don't have anyone else willing to pay for your bills."

"You can't just leave me!" Draco shouted. "I'll tell them who you are!"

"And I just have to tell them that we break up," she returned. "You really think they will believe your wizard theory?"

Considering his situation, Draco bit the inside of his cheek. He couldn't risk letting out another one of his mockery and enrage the girl.

"I won't be able to pay for anything else for you. Not even for a cab, Draco. I'm that broke. I certainly can't pay for a wheelchair."

"A what?"

"A wheelchair. With that you can wheel yourself anywhere you want."

"What is that for?" the man wondered aloud. "I can just Apparate."

Hermione shook her head. "You will not use my wand or potions for anything," she said. "In fact, you'll never touch it."

"But I am a wizard!" he said, pointing his index finger at her. "You're a witch!"

"That's not a nice thing to say to her," echoed someone behind Hermione. She whirled to see Dr. Kelley leant against the door. He didn't look happy when he said to her, "Can we talk?"

"Um…" Hermione intoned. "Sure." She tailed the Doctor out.

Sean moved to the hallway, gesturing to the door, asking her to close it. Draco tilted his head, trying to see what was going on outside, pouting when the door closed on him.

"I understand when you said you can't pay for the hospital expense anymore." The Doctor leaned his back against the wall, staring at the blank white wall. "What I don't get is… how are you going to support your life together?"

"I…" Hermione gazed down. "I'll think of something."

"This wasn't a research, Hermione. That man needs a full-time attention, surgery and therapy. Without it, he will never walk again. You are not ready to take care of him."

Hermione bit her bottom lip, her fingers intertwining. She couldn't possibly tell the Doctor about what she had planned for Malfoy. No, there was no way a normal Muggle would understand the concept of wizardry. She looked up, her eyes meeting Sean's. No one would, especially this special Muggle, who had science written all over his face.

"I know he's your boyfriend. It doesn't mean you're responsible for his life. You do have to take care of him when he has no one else, but I'm not saying you have to dedicate your whole life to a crippled man."

She mumbled a small 'huh'. "You're saying I have to dump him?"

The Doctor brought his eyes back to the wall. "If there is no other way, yes."

"But… I thought our job is to take care of a patient?" Now it didn't make sense. Did her idol just tell her to ditch a crippled man?

"It's a job, Hermione." The man crossed his arms. "Job and personal life are two different worlds. You may do everything in your ability to help the man if he is your patient."

"But if he's not…That means I don't have to try?"

Dr. Kelley frowned, looking up to the ceiling. "Don't see it like that." He counted how many lamps hanging in the hallway. "If you take him home, you will ruin your future, your school and your life."

"I won't." She was disappointed with his words. "I won't ruin anything. I know how to handle a lot of things at once."

"Maybe you do. But you've never handled a crippled person along with it."

Pouting at him, Hermione shook her head. "This is my decision, Doctor. I intended to take him home, and I will."

He didn't look surprised. "Of course you will."

The girl raised her brow in question.

"My shift is over," the man said changing the subject. "Give me your hand." Sticking her hand out, Hermione accepted a car key he placed in her palm. "Take out my car. I'll change my clothes first, and then I'll bring your boyfriend out with me. I'll drive you two home."

Her eyes widened. "No! You don't have to—"

"Just do it, Hermione." The doctor pushed himself off the wall he leaned on, turned around and left the girl in the hallway.

Hermione clutched the key in her hand, staring at Draco's door before sighing and striding away.

-x-



"I intended to take him home, and I will," he reiterated her words with an irritated tone. "Yeah, of course you will."

Sighing, Sean Kelley snapped open his locker and pulled out his casual clothes. He set the clothes on the long bench placed behind him and started removing his white coat.

"Why do kids nowadays act like they know it all?" he asked himself bitterly. He had, of course, looking around the locker room and making sure there was no one in there but him before he started mumbling. "They think they know what they will face, even before they experience it."

Rolling his eyes at his own statement, he folded his coat, placing it into the locker before unbuttoning his blue shirt.

"Why do I care anyway?" he grumbled. Yeah, why did he care? He had a lot to do himself. Once he got home he would have to feed his cat, water his plants and, in the end of the night, sitting in front of the fireplace, drinking a glass of red wine before going to bed. By himself.

Letting out a sad sigh, the half-naked man rested his forehead against the locker. He had nothing to do. After he'd obtained everything he wanted in his thirty-one years of life, Sean Kelley hardly found anything entertaining anymore.

Hermione Granger was interesting.

He pulled his duffel bag out of his locker and stuffed his shirt inside before plopping it down on the floor, reaching to the turtleneck green sweater placed on the bench.

She was not the cutest girl he ever saw. She was the brightest. He knew she adored him. Not being arrogant, but Sean Kelley always knew who had a crush on him since he was five. It wasn't very hard to see a sparkle in her eyes. She might not like him that way, but he thought she would hear him out.

"Apparently not." The man pulled the sweater down. "A crippled man as a boyfriend… Great." He knew she would get in trouble eventually, if she took that man home. He had no doubt that she would fail her school if she had to cater all his needs.

After he locked his locker, he bent down zipping his duffel bag close before carrying it out of the room.

"What did a girl see in that kind of guy anyway?"

Yes, he held a grudge. It was a logical grudge.

"…Can I call anything a logical grudge?" Sean inquired to himself before realizing that he was now in public. Smiling to the nurses, he asked them, "Could anyone please snatch a wheelchair for me?"

He sighed when they left running tussling against each other to do his order. Sometimes he wanted to be a normal Sean Kelley, not the surgeon Doctor Sean Kelley. His eyes were twinkling with amusement when he remembered one woman that was stubborn enough to reject his suggestion. Yes, she saw him as a normal man. His lips pouted when he realized that the woman he took an interest to apparently have a boyfriend. The type of man he didn't want himself to be; a leech and a nasty man.

He gave the nurses his bright smile when they appeared with the wheelchair. After uttering a placid thank you, he turned and pushed the chair to Draco Malfoy's room.

What kind of name was that anyway? What kind of parents in their right mind would give their kid a name that meant dragon and bad faith? It was a sign of how the kid would turn out to be. Indeed, in Sean's mind Draco Malfoy was not more than a leech who would stop at nothing before sucking out all of his girlfriend's life.

He opened the door without knocking, holding his evil thoughts that seduced him to push Malfoy off the bed. If he did that, Hermione would have to pay for another injury. No matter how much he hated this one-of-a-kind leech, he was a doctor.

There was a lot more ways to make sure Malfoy-boy stop leeching on Hermione. He was planning on one of it as he pushed the chair next to his bed.

"So," the Doctor said, "ready to go?"

Draco glanced at the wheelchair. "What is that?"

"A wheelchair. I'll take you out."

"Where's Mudblood?"

"…Pardon?"

"Ah." The leech shook his head. "I mean, Herm…Hermi-o…ack! My girlfriend. Where is she?"

Sean's brow shot up in surprise. He called his girlfriend Mudblood? That was so… so—

Shaking his head to get rid of bad thoughts, Sean answered, "She's getting my car. Come on, I'll help you."

Draco raised one of his hands, stopping the Doctor from his purpose of making this task as hellish as feasible.

Sean cursed. Did he notice?

"She didn't have money to acquire that," Draco said, waving to the chair. "I'm sorry but I have to decline your offer. We can't purchase this."

"Huh?" Sean shot him a blank look. Then, he understood. "Um, no... I'm not trying to sell this to you or forcing you to buy this. I just need this to take you out."

"Are you sure?" the leech said. "How many do we have to pay for the service?"

"Nothing. Just get on."

At last, Draco let the doctor carried him from the bed and placed him on the chair. Sean had intended to make the process hurt for a bit but now he wasn't so sure anymore. The leech sounded intelligent when he spoke.

Sean frowned as he asked the man, "Do you have anything you want to carry from this room?"

Draco shook his head. "No. Everything isn't mine." He stopped and thought aloud, "I do want my real clothes, the one I used when…"

"I'm sorry, that one was too bloody and ripped to shreds. We have to cut it from your body. We found nothing to identify you, too, so I don't think the hospital has your purse."

"My wand?"

"Your what?"

"A stick." Draco's hands measured an imaginary wand to show the Doctor the length. "A wooden stick I pocketed."

"Oh, that one? We thought it was a piece of wood from a nearby tree." Sean pushed Draco out of the room. "It actually ran through your thigh. It was the one we had to pull out from your right knee."

Draco stared down at his stitched right knee. "Where is it now?"

"We threw it away too."

Draco cursed, throwing his hands up in the air in exasperation. "You Muggles throw anything that belongs to me!"

"What is Muggles?" the Doctor asked. Draco suddenly grew quiet. "Draco? What is Muggles? You called me Muggle Doctor…"

"What do you think?"

"I can't help but think it is some sort of ugly nicknames."

"Well it is. Why am I talking to you anyway? Just push this thing faster!"

Sean rolled his eyes.

As he drove Draco out of the hospital, he saw Hermione. She was waiting in front of his parked car. Her eyes met her boyfriend, but the eye contact disappeared as soon as it started, making the silent observer frowned.

She opened the back door when they arrived. "I think I'll help him to sit in there…"

"No, I'll do it." The Doctor bent down, transferring Draco into the back seat with ease. Hermione pushed the wheelchair away from the car.

Draco moved his head to the wheelchair Hermione push away, only to find his nose collided with the door Sean closed right on his face. Cursing and bending down, he muttered several 'Crucio' to the Doctor. Oh, if only he had his wand now!

"Are you sure you don't want to take that, Hermione?" Sean asked, pacing to her side as she pushed the wheelchair back inside the hospital.

"No. I can't pay for it."

"I'll pay."

"That's very nice of you. But no, you've done too much for Draco."

For him? Sean thought, yeah, right.

"Just leave it there," he said. Hermione left the wheelchair beside the receptionist counter. "Let's go," he said as she turned to him.

The girl followed him out. Together, they ambled to the car.

"I still think this is wrong." The doctor pulled out his purse. "Of course this is your choice, but… if there is anything you need, don't hesitate to call me."

Accepting a piece of card he offered, Hermione read the number written on it. "This wasn't your office number…"

"It's my home number, and that one," said Dr. Kelley, pointing to the second number and address, "is my cell phone and home address."

"Wow… You don't have to do this."

"I want to." Dr. Kelley opened up the passenger's door to Hermione before circling to the driver's door. After sitting in his seat and making sure the leech had seated properly in the back, the man started the engine.

Hermione glanced to her 'boyfriend', wondering why Draco shot the Doctor an angry glare. She turned her head back to the front window as the car started to move.

-x-



It was days since he saw the night in the Muggle world.

Resting his temple to the window, Draco took every detail of his surroundings. The streetlights illuminated the streets they were passing through. If he glanced up to the buildings they had passed, he would see lights beamed from within. Some stores looked bright with many lightings and carefully designed glass doors, showing the shop's interior. Some had their merchandise on the window for the passer-by to see.

Night had always been beautiful in a way. He tried looking up seeing if he could see the moon and stars decorating the sky. He loved watching them. Night was the time when he could go out and be free. He could spend hours lying down in his own garden or walking down the city for a fresh air. The darkness would cover him. Nobody would bother to reprimand and harass a lone stranger in the street for his past sins.

"Here we are," Mudblood interrupted his train of thoughts. He cast his eyes down, glancing at the aged building. The car stopped, the driver took his own sweet time getting out of his own seat, circling in the relaxed pace to his door.

"How are you going to take him up, Hermione?" Opening the door, the doctor stared at him.

He stared back, wondering why he attained such a disdaining look, but decided it wasn't worth his time deciphering Muggle thoughts.

"I can ask some of my neighbours, they'll help me." Mudblood scrambled out, glancing in his direction. "If you put him on the floor near the entrance, I can ask them to help me right away."

Put me on the floor? What am I? A toy dog? Shopping goods?

He tried not to cringe in disgust when the man picked him up. One arm slid below his knees and other secured his back. Someone who had studied a lot should not be this strong. He knew the doctor was as tall as he was, but he doubted he would be able to pick him up, had the situation went reverse. The man hoisted him up, marching to the cement floor in front of the lobby door, and without any second thoughts, placing him down.

He hissed when he felt the snow. Narrowing his eyes to his carrier, he could see the doctor did not care at all if his patient ended up sitting on white ice that melted under his warm body.

Mudblood waited for the doctor, but when he showed no signs of leaving, she said, "I… um, I can take it from here."

The doctor peeked inside. There was no one inside the lobby. "Are you sure your neighbours want to help you? It's not an easy job, he's quite heavy."

Now he started lamenting his own disability. He could've walked inside by himself, if only he wasn't crippled. He wouldn't end up in her debt if he could walk. If only he had time getting out of the way.

He only needed two seconds. Two seconds to move from the street that day and missed his doom.

But here he was, as useless as magic-less wizard could be. No wand, no money. Mudblood had to take him home. He was as useful as the next scrap. He glanced to a garbage dumpster placed not far from his position. Perhaps he could crawl in there and spent the rest of his life with the stuff he had familiarized with himself. Sleeping in the snow would be better. After all, frostbite wouldn't be the worst way to breathe his last breath. He'd had a near-death occurrence with Muggle ride. Frostbite wouldn't be any more painful than hearing his bone cracked and his muscle twisted. There was nothing more bloodcurdling than realizing that he could do nothing but waiting for someone, anyone, to pass by and help him while he was lying in the pool of his own blood.

"No, it's okay." Mudblood waved her hands. "If you're still here, they might think twice about helping me. If they see me with no one to help, they're certainly more helpful."

"They don't seem too reliable then. If they won't help you when someone else is nearby, how come you can be so sure they'll help when I'm gone?"

Mudblood couldn't answer to that.

"I'll help you carry him up," the doctor said.

He knew what she was about to do, and he began feeling restless. The cold might freeze his rear off. "Why don't you just go away with your fancy itsy-bitsy ride and leave us alone?" he asked, his voice as cold as the snow he was sitting on.

The doctor turned to him. "Are you okay waiting in there while she's away looking for help?" he challenged. "If I'm helping you, things would be easier. The longer you're here; the frostbite risks on your legs will be higher."

So, you knew. Why did you put me in the snow then? "I don't want you to carry me anywhere anymore. Just go. Now."

They glared at each other, one exigent another in the hollow battle of masculinity.

Mudblood sighed, placing her hand against the doctor's. "I appreciate your concern, but…" Mudblood glanced at him, wordlessly bidding him to back down. He looked away, not because he was scared of her, but because his bottom had gone glacial. "He hates being picked up like a princess and I think he's deterred by you."

What the—! "I'm not deterred by him!"

Somehow, it made the doctor sniggered. "I see." He glanced at him, his lips formed disputing smirk. "I'll go then."

He endeavoured to throw his hateful glare to the doctor. He truly did. However, no matter how much his eyes bulged out from the sockets, the doctor just ambled away not even sparing a glance in his direction.

His eyes almost popped out when the doctor looked at Mudblood. The man gave her his captivating smile, nodding to her before he went inside his car. He turned to Mudblood. She was reddening, waving at the car until it drove away. He couldn't believe this. He trapped himself between a courting game of Mudblood and Muggle.

"If you are done swooning over him," he said, waking her up from her reverie, "I'll appreciate it if you can take me inside. Right. Away."

She glared at him, her eyes filled with allegations. "I don't take orders, Ferret."

"I'm not ordering you, Mudblood," he said through gnashed teeth. It was cold, and he wondered why he did not shiver from the freezing snow underneath him. He might be stronger than he thought he was. "As you can see, I'm freezing my bottom in here. I will be grateful if you take me indoors now."

"Can't you be a little nicer to him?" Waving in the previous direction of the doctor's car, she set her hand on her hip. "He's taking us home! He offered you a wheelchair! Oh, by Dumbledore!" He thought she was Muggle-fied but it appears that she still had some witch reminiscences after all. "He's done nothing but being nice to you! I wonder why, he's not even required to do it after all." She shook her head. "Seeing how you treat him, that man is a saint!"

He knew why the Muggle man was being finicky with him. He had an idea why, but he was simply too bushed to emphasize the detail. Moreover, it would make Mudblood's head bigger than before. Perhaps her hair would start prickling to all directions and her brain would swell thrice the normal, so he wouldn't say it.

"I'm cold in here." He ducked his head low, hiding his soundless snort. He couldn't believe he would ever resort nudging her mothering nature, but he knew it would work. Now that she would take care for him, he might've to grind this skill. "I'm so cold and I can't move anywhere…"

Mudblood sighed. "I know. I'm sorry, Malfoy."

What? That easy? He looked up, revising her face. She did look at him in empathy!

He grinned. Perhaps his life wouldn't be a nightmare on this Muggle world.

She narrowed her eyes. "If you believe you can do it every time you want something, you might as well learn crawling as of now. I'm not an idiot, Ferret."

His self-satisfied grin effectively erased by that sentence. While Mudblood was looking around, trying to find a perfect position to Apparate without somebody sighting them, he glanced up to the edifice. He did not want to settle with Mudblood forever, and by how she reacted on his declaration about 'Apparate wherever he wants', he knew she had the items in her residence. When she went to study, he might have an opportunity to learn more about spells and potions. He knew there was something in the wizarding world to help him getting his life back.

-x-



"Come to think of it, how will she endure him without a wheelchair?" Sean Kelley shook his head, wondering about his own inquiry. "If she had no one else to help her while she stays with him…"

He glowered, thinking about Hermione. In his imagination, she was drained, poignant weeping in the corner while the man who caused all that lay on the cot. The leech had gotten fat, stubbly and grimy because he couldn't provide for himself. Somehow, the 'Cinderella' song began playing behind the scene. The only problem in his image was that the female would never get out of her own nightmare, because said stepmother was her boyfriend who would yell to her every time he required something. She would never snub him because she loved him.

Sean didn't push the wheelchair issue further because he thought it would make her giving up Malfoy. When she realized how hard it was living with the crippled man without any transporting tools, she might give up earlier.

"But… it might make her suffer more than if the leech has his own ride…"

Driving his car back to his own garage, he tapped his fingers against the steer. Not long after, he made his decision. Sean pulled out his mobile phone as he walked out of the car. After searching for the name in S alphabet, he pressed the call button.

"Stephanie," Sean began. "How are you?"

"Hi, Sean!"

"I see you're fine." He paced into his home. "Listen, I need something…"

"Figures…" Stephanie countered. "Since when did you ever call me if you don't need anything?"

Actually, never. Nevertheless, he would not discuss a topic of calling and not calling to his baby sister. "If I say I'd like to order a wheelchair immediately, how fast can you drive it here?"

"Immediately!" she replied.

"Good. Tell mom I need it for a patient, it's urgent."

"Do I know this patient?"

You may have his ex-girlfriend as your sister-in-law, if I'm lucky. "No, I don't think you do." Since their mother sold medical paraphernalia to the hospital and his sister still resided with their parents, he might get that object as soon as he hung up. "One hour, Steph."

"Okay! There's still some in the storage room… See you later, Sean!"

Hanging up, he went to pour some tea and serve some cookies. It might be the best way to keep his baby sister's mouth shut.

-x-



"What do you mean, I will sleep here?"

Hermione resisted the urge to massage her temple in front of him. They had successfully Apparate inside her flat. With her precise calculation, Malfoy ended up falling on the sofa. While he looked around, she carried out an extra comforter and put it next to him.

He caught the reference. Conceited as he was, he was not pleased.

Draco caught a sight of double bed inside her bedroom, pointing to it. "You have a double bed! Tell me why I can't sleep in there!" He smirked, showing his supercilious smile. "Afraid of me, Mudblood?"

"Not at all." Hermione never liked another individual sleeping on the same bed with her, even when the person was a female. She had never slept with her parents and she did not like sharing her personal space with anyone but herself. But of course, Draco did not need to know that. "You can do almost everything in the sofa. Look, here." She took out a television remote from the hidden places it had been for months, setting it on the table. "You can watch television. You know it? It's a Muggle thing where you can watch—"

"I know what it is," Draco growled. "I knew perfectly well about Muggle items."

She doubted it. He didn't even know what wheelchair was. "My point is: if you sleep on the bed you can't do anything."

He narrowed his eyes. "It's closer to the bathroom."

"Ah, yes," she agreed, turning back to her bedroom. After rummaging her cabinet and finding the tool she needed, she moved back to the living room. "You can use this." She lifted up the item.

"What by the name of all living wizards is that?" he exclaimed, pointing to the item she held in repulsion. "As if I will do—do—"

"Your businesses in here?" She put the kettle shaped item on the floor, where he could reach it. "It helps both of us with your 'businesses'. I won't carry you to the toilet all the time."

"I won't debase myself by… by…" He glared to the innocent item in front of him. "By that!"

"I think you have degraded yourself to the lowest level by asking my aid, Ferret." Hermione crossed her arms, somewhat annoyed. She didn't know how this would go on for days. She might not be able holding her moral for long. She never said Avada Kedavra to anyone, and she afraid she would make her first cold slaughter if he kept his big mouth. Just one more insult…

"Aah, yes. Taking filthy Mudblood's rally round was the lowest thing I can do." He sneered. "You're right. How can I of all people forget about the filthy, sullied, detestable Mudblood serving me?"

With one swift move, she grabbed the comforter and wrapped it around his head, shocking the haughty blond. He fell with his back on the couch, gasping for breath as the enraged girl covered his face with the thick material.

She could do this. No one knew where Malfoy went, no one but her and Dr. Kelley. If he died, she could smoulder his corpse with one plain spell and…

That was all she thought about as she continued her fuming madness, choking the crushed man on her own sofa.

"I don't see the point of taking me as your companion," he said, grinning to the man beside him as they walked to their destination. "But I certainly have to thank you. Things have gotten a bit boring back home."

The big man snorted, shaking his head as his friend chuckled. "I told you many times you're not my escort. Keep it up and we got no lass on the bash."

"But they invited you, not me," he stated. "It's easier to say that I come as your escort. Hey, I might do this for a living."

"You will starve, trust me."

They stopped in front of an old manor where a lot of wizards and witches entered through the wide rusty green gate. The mansion was aged, thick green foliages covering half the outer wall. The structure itself was rusty green; the gloomy garden within the gate was crowded with people. The front door of the old mansion was wide open, letting out a dazzling light from within.

On a night like this, he thought pleasantly, this vicinity was the best location for the wizard costume party.

Several wizards took a glance at him and his friend when they walked through the entrance, but soon dismissed the look as he did not seem perilous. Before entering the mansion, he stopped and put on the black mask he brought along covering his eyes and nose. The big man put on his purple and pink tinted mask covering the same area.

He raised his brow, looking at his friend's jester appearance. "What are you wearing…?"

"My familiar tore off the original I've bought," his friends explained with a shrug. "At least it's still a mask."

Not discussing the matter further, he walked inside the abode first. As soon as their feet stepped on the small rug placed in front of the door, a hole opened beneath them.

"What in the name of—" was all he could muster before they fell into the big, black hole. Laughs and snickers from the party above following the men as they plunged down.

Why did I ever think I will enjoy this party? I should have stayed home. At least I am safe at home…

He fell down to the hard floor, grunting when his big friend crushed him. He heard a slight crack.

"Sorry." The man scrambled away.

"It's okay…" he said through clenched teeth, wondering if his giant friend just broke his back. They heard a feminine giggle echoed around the dark room. He sat up, slightly gratified for any kind of spirits guarding him because his back was fine. "Who's there?"

They heard a flick and before long the room was illuminated. It reminded him of an old dungeon, with rows of flaming torches planted on the old stall and long, endless tunnel.

"Sorry about that." A girl showed up in front of them, still giggling. She wore a green mask with peacock feather to cover her eyes, her silk green dress flowing to the floor. Her red hair was set in an elegant braid, with two green flowers on each side. "My father was a bit eccentric, you see."

"We can see it," he said. The girl giggled again. "I assume you're a Greengrass?"

"Your assumption is correct, Sir." She bowed to her guests, her green eyes twinkling with amusement as she said, "My name is Astoria, and I'll be your host through the night."

-x-

To be continued…


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