Chapter 22 : Chapter 22
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The time that it took to reach the fourth floor of the magical hospital felt like a lifetime. Hermione rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet, mumbling at the lift, willing it to move faster. She was mentally kicking herself for being so stubborn and not visiting Draco when McGonagall had told her he had wanted to see her. Not to mention not figuring out what had been wrong with Draco. The imperious curse. How could she have missed that one? Now that she knew, it was painfully obvious. The pained look Draco had given her in potions, his poor attempt at the posion antidote, leaving his wand on the table when Harry and Ron attacked him and...the conversation! Hadn't she overheard some of Pansy's friends saying that she blamed herself? For supposedly being the brightest witch of her age, Hermione was feeling pretty stupid.
The doors finally opened on to the fourth floor and Hermione practically fell out of them. She frantically turned her head left and right, desperately trying to figure out which direction would lead her to Draco. An older woman, wearing lime green healer robes stepped out of a room a little way down the corridor to the left and Hermione raced to her.
"Excuse me," she panted breathlessly, "I'm looking for Draco Malfoy, please, I need to see him."
"Malfoy...Malfoy, name doesn't ring a bell, he must be in the west wing. Wait here my love and and I'll ask one of the healers who works that section." She walked quickly down the corridor, past the lift and around a corner out of sight. Again, Hermione was left with nothing to do but wait and tap her foot on the floor.
The healer Hermione had asked for directions appeared a few minutes later, accompanied by another, younger healer whom Hermione recognised immediately.
"Oh, Lara!" She gushed. "Thank goodness you're here. I need to see Draco. It was all a misunderstanding you see, McGonagall told me, I flooed as soon as she told me, imperious curse and I-" Tears were gently falling down her face and she was trembling; her emotions finally catching up to her.
"Hermione, calm down." Lara said kindly and hugged her. Hermione reciprocated but only briefly, her mind still consumed by Draco.
"I'm sorry, I just... need to see him." She said pulling away from Lara.
"I know," Lara smiled, "he explained the whole story to me when I started my shift this morning. Insisted that I signed his release forms. He was in the same state as you the last time I saw him, could barely get the words out to get him to your common room fireplace at Hogwarts-"
"WHAT?!" Hermione yelled, startling Lara. "Sorry...did you say 'common room fireplace'?"
"Yes, he went straight there after I signed his forms, presumably to find you since..." But Hermione didn't hear the end of the sentence as she had turned on her heel and headed back towards the lift. Just as the doors were closing, Lara appeared in front of the doors, panting.
"That floo is closed now Hermione! Make sure you come back through the one you came!"
Hermione nodded and waved to convey her understanding, words failing her. She was furious that she had wasted her time coming to the hospital; time that could have been spent with Draco. She closed her eyes in frustration, willing the lift to move faster once more.
Draco was pacing the floor in the Headmistress' office.
"Where is she? She should be back by now...maybe I should go-"
"No." McGonagall told him firmly. "You two will end up chasing each other between St Mungos and my office all day. And please sit down Mr Malfoy, you're going to wear a hole in the floor."
A quiet chuckle came from the wall behind McGonagall. Draco stopped pacing and looked up to see the portrait of Dumbledore beaming at him.
He raised his eyebrows at it. "What, may I ask, is funny?"
"Young love, Mr Malfoy." Dumbledore replied simply.
Draco had very little patience left for cryptic conversations with a painting, so shook his head and continued pacing. He was inwardly cursing Pansy Parkinson; furious did not come close to describing how he felt towards her. He made a silent oath to get his revenge if Hermione refused to take him back, maybe even if she did. His thoughts turned to their relationship. Would they still have one? He could remember standing in the Entrance Hall and saying awful things to Hermione, seeing the confusion and then pain in her eyes. Then he had called her a...he couldn't even think the word; it made him feel physically sick. Every fibre of his body had been screaming at him to stop, to put a permanent sticking charm on his lips so that he couldn't say any more, or for his arms to reach out and hold her. He simply couldn't fight the strength of the imperious curse, Pansy had cast it too well, so instead of telling Hermione he loved her, he could only speak Pansy's damaging words.
He prayed that Hermione would understand, that she would take him back and they could forget the whole horrible mess. McGonagall had told him that she had briefly explained what had happened to him and that Hermione had immediately left for the hospital, but to what end? Draco's worst fear was that she had gone to tell him that she had moved on; that she knew what happened wasn't his fault but it was too late nonetheless. It hurt to much to even consider it. She had to take him back.
As he turned on his heel to pace in the other direction, the flames in the fireplace turned a bright green and a robed figure rotated into it. Draco heard a shriek and then, before he had a chance to speak, two arms, Hermione's arms, were wrapped around him, so tightly he could barely breathe. He ran his hands down her shoulders and around the back of her, not quite believing she was there, and buried his head in her wild curly hair. There would be time for explaining later, but at that moment, both Draco and Hermione simply wanted to hold, and be held.
A/N finally, they're reunited! Trust me, I've been looking forward to it too! Hope you liked it. I think I've only got 2, maybe 3 more chapters to go before the story is finished...*sniff*! Anyways, let me know your thoughts on this one :)
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