The first half of the week seemed to pass nearly uneventfully. It neither sped by nor crawled as weeks tended to do more often than not. Hermione did her rounds, spoke to the patients under her care and –for lack of a better description – seemed to zombie her way through the days without anyone really noticing. That, too, seemed to happen a lot in her life. With the war and the initial shock and awe of their exploits behind them, nobody seemed to intent on ‘keeping up with the lives of those teenagers that saved the world.’ Hermione did not mind in the slightest, but was always slightly irked when her own co-workers took no notice of her. Sometimes she suspected that it had something to do with her transferring and being promoted to ward head within six months of the other. Hermione couldn’t blame them much.
It was late Wednesday night and Hermione was finishing up with her rounds before she could head home. The last patient that needed checking was a peculiar case and had been in Hermione’s care since the woman’s admittance. All of the healers that had looked the woman over, absolutely dumbfounded to the cause of her condition; and nobody could get a straight answer from her family as to what had happened. Many of the healers and mediwizards had theories as to how the woman got the way she did, Hermione on the other hand did not care for such speculation. Every chance that she got, Hermione looked over the woman’s file hoping that she could find the answers everyone was looking for. She would pour over it for hours, but nothing ever changed within it.
“Good evening, Mrs. Malfoy. Sorry I could not come by your room earlier, there was a few things I needed to do.” Hermione said towards the comatose woman lying nearly motionless in the bed in the middle of the room, all the while smiling. Of course she knew that there would be no response, there never was, but it was Hermione’s job to take care of her patients and that is what she did. Slowly and surely, Hermione had noticed an increase in activity since Narcissa Malfoy had been brought in three months previous. It was nothing that was noticeable to the untrained eye, but she knew that the woman in the bed was fighting to break free of whatever held her in her state. “Some of the mediwizards had a scuffle and, well, it was not pretty that is for sure.” Hermione granted herself permission to let out a small chuckle, as if she were sharing a joke with a good friend.
Hermione grabbed the wand from her pocket and leaned over the woman slightly, looking into the unseeing grey eyes of the blond haired Malfoy woman. “Time to check you out, okay? Make sure everything is working as it should.” The healer leaned back from the woman and was about to start the check. Hermione had gotten quite used to the quiet of the ward after most of the staff left for the nights; it was partly the reason that she requested a transfer from the emergency ward. That and it had only been a few months since Ron had passed and she could not stand to live those moments over again.
“Is it normal that you are talking to someone that cannot answer you?” A husky voice broke Hermione’s beloved silence from somewhere behind her and it caused the woman to spin around, wand at the ready in her usual defensive position. Hermione had nearly jumped through the ceiling when the voice rang out but with her wand raised and ready, she let her eyes take in the sight before her.
Disheveled blond hair and piecing grey eyes, a small sneer and an all-around simply haggard Malfoy was standing in front of her. The button up shirt he was wearing seemed to be three sizes too big and was buttoned improperly. Hermione was unsure whether or not he had tried to put a tie on, as it looked as if his collar was unsure of what it was doing, half of it standing at attention and the other half lying flat against the man’s neck. Malfoy wore simple black pants and scuffed shoes that looked as if they had been well loved, as Hermione liked to classify worn things. When her brain caught up with the sight her eyes took in she noted that he did not look good, it was plain and simple that he had not taken care of himself in quite some time.
“Are you going to put your wand down some time in this century? I would like to see my mother.” The man drawled, straightening himself from leaning on the door jam, his notorious sneer plastered onto his sunken and shadowed face. His words finally registered and Hermione had to hide a small squeak of embarrassment as she lowered her wand from in front of her; she kept it close at her side though, her grip tightening with every second.
Still a little embarrassed, Hermione turned back to Narcissa. “Sorry, Mr. Malfoy.” She said through semi-clenched teeth, it was all she could do to not spit the name. “I was not aware that you were visiting today. It has been a while and we were not sure when you would be back again.” It strained her to talk, but she found it slightly more comforting directing her voice towards the comatose woman in front of her.
Malfoy moved closer as Hermione straightened up the bed spread. “I’ve told you not to call me that. My name is Draco, and I would rather not be reminded of his name any more than completely necessary, thank-you.” Draco ran a callused hand through his golden hair, making it more unruly than before and then he continued. “Life has been busy, unfortunately, but I am here now.” The tall male took up his mother’s hand on the side opposite of Hermione. He seemed not to be interested in her presence anymore, and for that Hermione was thankful.
“I will be done in a moment. Last check before I head out, and then you can have your time together.” Hermione raised her wand over the woman and waved it up and down the length of the body for a few moments, all the while shooting quick and –hopefully- sneaky glances at the blond man across from her. “And there we go. All done Mrs. Malfoy. I will see you in the morning, okay?” The healer leaned a little closer to the woman, once again looking into the unseeing eyes, hoping as always for some reaction. Hermione knew they would get there one day, but that day was not it. Hermione placed her wand into her pocket and began to fix the covers around the woman’s shoulders as she knew that it would be cold in the night. “Good night, Mrs. Malfoy.” She turned and began walking slowly to the door. “Good night, to you too, Mr. Mal-” She cleared her throat, hoping she would be able to say it. “Draco.”
The simple word caused Hermione to stop in her tracks and turn slowly toward the sound. Half expecting him to be facing her when she turned around, Hermione let out a sigh of relief when she realized that he was still looking at his mother.
“How has she been doing?” After a few moments Draco finally lifted his haggard face to look at her which caused Hermione to look down to the blond woman on the bed. Thankfully he had not noticed and continued in his low voice, as if talking any louder would walk her up. “You know, since I have been away?”
Hermione swallowed and took a deep breath without making it obvious, well that is what she thought anyways. Either way, Draco showed no signs of caring if he had noticed. “She has been getting better, slowly but it is happening.” Hermione took a few steps toward the bed and stopped a few feet away from the foot of it, all the while attempting to avoid his gaze. There was something hauntingly creepy about the way Draco looked; she simply could not stand it. She had seen a slight decline in him within the first few weeks of his mother’s admittance but after not seeing him for a month and a half she had noticed that it was a lot worse than she originally suspected. “She missed you though.”
Out of her peripherals she saw his face contort in confusion, making him look more ragged than before which she had not thought possible.
“How do you know that? Has she spoken?” His voice was urgent, and the man stood up to nearly his full height making him at least two heads taller than Hermione. His intense eyes burned holes in the side of the brunette’s head and she finally looked at him.
Hermione shook her head slowly, her eyes all but glued to the tortured eyes of one Draco Malfoy. They gleamed with a sadness that she had grown accustomed to since his mother’s admittance, but with the addition of his haggard outward appearance Hermione could not help but feel scared. And, as far as she was away from admitting it, she felt a twinge of sympathy for the man.
“No, but you are her son. Wherever she is right now, I know she has missed you.” The brunette turned again, hoping that she was finished but her heart fell when he spoke again. His voice was soft, as if he was afraid he would wake up someone and they wouldn’t be too happy about it.
“You never answered my question.”
“Which one was that?”
“Do you always talk to your patients?”
Hermione cleared her throat and felt a flush creeping up her cheek bones. She wasn’t sure how much he had caught of her talking to his mother but knew the damage had already been done. “Yes, all the time actually.” Hermione crossed her arms over her chest defensively, simply waiting the abuse that would have ensued, had they been in Hogwarts. But they were not, and alas they were not at Hogwarts. Draco simply stared at his mother, quietly thinking, while he held onto her fragile hand.
“Why?” Draco finally looked up from his mother once again, not really seeing her but nevertheless Hermione felt as if he saw everything. “It isn’t as if they can respond?”
Hermione took a deep breath. “I am well aware. But I think if the situation were reversed, I would like to know that I was cared for and-” She paused, unsure of whether or not to continue. When Draco said nothing but looked at her, seemingly expecting an elaboration, she sighed quietly. “There has been some research –muggle research- that comatose patients are more likely to wake up and remember people talking to them and some of the things that were said. I don’t want any one of my patients waking up with nothing to remember, I don’t think that would be right.” Hermione said with a shrug, hoping beyond hope that Draco would let slide the muggle methods of her work. Draco said nothing but sat as still as a statue, he seemed to think about what she had said.
Slowly the brunette backed out of the room, not completely trusting Draco to turn her back on him. Although she knew that he was preoccupied with his mother, there was no telling what he was capable, especially when he was in obvious distress. Before she had a chance to censor herself, though, her mouth was open and she was speaking from the open doorway.
“You should try it. I’m sure she would rather hear your voice instead of mine.” And with that Hermione completely ducked out of the room, not caring if the haggard man looked up or responded. As quickly as she could, Hermione made her way to her office that was only a few meters away. Once in the safety of her office, Hermione released a rush of air that she had not realized she was holding. Soon enough after, though, her face became hot and all sorts of things ran through her mind.
She was angry, with herself and with him. Hermione was only proud of the fact that she had enough self-control to talk to him without killing him. I said his name, his first name! The thought made her want to hurl, but before she could do so, she locked the door to her office and grabbed her coat and purse. Quickly turning on the spot, she felt the familiar tug at her naval and was glad to know that it settled her stomach; which was saying a lot, since Hermione had never really taken too well with apparating. Hermione thought of home, of her little cottage in the country side and was relieved to find out that, a moment or two later, she had arrived in one piece.
Hermione threw her coat and purse somewhere into the living room as she moved into the kitchen. She headed for the kettle but soon as she touched it her eyes fell onto the bottle of Fire Whiskey that she almost never touched. After grabbing a tumbler and blowing off the dust off the bottle she sat at the kitchen table, a look of something far from relaxed on her face.
Thinking back only an hour previous, she saw his face, his eyes and shivered. I’m not going to get any sleep tonight. She rubbed her face with a chilly hand. Not without nightmares.
AN: Hey guys, alright, there's chapter three! What did you think? Yes it was a bit shorter but I don't think it needed to be any longer. It did what it needed to do.
Anyways, please rate and review! I love to hear what you say.