Chapter 2 : Healing in Hell?
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Hermione began to register her ragged breathing as her mind fell into consciousness. Each breath she focused on was shallow, her chest heavy and struggling to expand, crushed down by an invisible force. The space around her was a dark, inky black, and her heartbeat quickened, panic flowing through her as she struggled to make sense of her predicament.
Trying to calm her hyperventilating breaths, she focused her attention on the rest of her body. Her brain was pounding painfully against her skull, making even the slightest movement of her head unpleasant. She turned her attention to her arms and legs, trying her best to move her leaden limbs. Her body was almost unresponsive, registering only slight scuffles and shakes before her energy ran out.
She fluttered her eyelids, resisting the urge to squeeze them shut from the stinging of the bright light of the sunshine radiating in from the window beside her. Opening them up a crack, she swivelled her head slowly from left to right, and as the blurriness cleared, she found herself gazing upon an unfamiliar darkened bedroom, and herself lying in the middle of a reserved four poster bed, covered with what seemed to be a thick duvet.
With much difficulty, she lifted her arm and pushed the bedspread aside, which in turn freed her chest up to breathe in slightly deeper breaths than before. Through her mind’s throbbing pain, she tried to piece together the last shreds of memory she could grasp. How did I get here? Why am I out cold in a random bedroom when I’m supposed to be fighting a war? She could recall only remnants of packing from Grimmauld place, and arriving at Hogwarts..
Scarce, blurry battle scenes flickered through her head…
She had no solid memory of she had come to be in this place, or how her body had become so uncooperative.
Hermione closed her eyes, shutting out the dim light from the window beside her. A wave of exhaustion had just moved through her body, and she wanted nothing more than to keep her eyes close and fall back out of consciousness.
But the pang of curiosity of where she was, and the panic of the unknown situation kept the adrenaline surging, and she took all her energy to lift her torso up from the bed. She look around slowly and her eyes fell upon a small purple vial sitting on a table beside her bed. A note, with the word “drink” written in scribbled, yet tidy cursive sat above it.
A moan escaped her lips as she lifted herself higher, sitting up and reaching for the bottle. Unstoppering it, she smelled the undeniable lavender scent of an energy replenshishing potion.
Someone, somewhere, was trying to help her.
She gulped it down, and warmth spread throughout her body, tingling in her muscles. Hermione flexed her fingers, and she found she could move them freely, with no heaviness as before. Gingerly, she kicked her legs over to the edge and stood shakily. She steadied herself, triumphant on her movement, and walked quick yet stiffly towards the door only to collapse before she even reached for the doorknob.
“What the hell? What’s wrong with my legs? Up Hermione, what’s wrong with you?” she mumbled to herself.
Hermione spotted a chair not far from her and used that to prop herself up. Using the back of the chair she succeeded in getting vertical, and slowly she walked forward and opened the door.
She found herself in a short hallway that had two doors on either side further down from her. As she walked towards the end of the hallway, she began to make her descent down the stairwell which seemed to open up onto a kitchen. Hermione, being naturally curious, had her brow furrowed trying to determine where she was. Cream walls, small upstairs area with a hallway, and two suspected bedrooms and one bathroom; she did not recognize this place in the slightest.
Her panic was beginning to heighten, and it was at this time that pawed her pants pocket for her wand, only to realise that she was in fact, defenceless. She kept her head raised high, and eyes up for any sign of movement, in a hope that she could move quickly if need be. As she walked through the kitchen, mumbling to herself, she did not notice a pair of eyes at the end of the kitchen were watching her with amused interest.
An ear-piercing scream escaped Hermione before she turned around and collapsed again, this time out of fright.
“Malfoy!? What the ffffffff… what the flying fiddlesticks! You just gave me a heart attack! What are you doing here?” Hermione yelled at Draco, when she finally found her voice and had picked herself off the ground with the nearby wooden bench.
Draco closed the book he was reading and shrugged. “How should I know? I haven’t been told anything. They are supposed to be getting in contact with us once we’re both awake. Now that you’ve graced consciousness with your filthy mudblood presence, maybe I’ll be able to leave this place.”
Hermione scowled at his use of the foul term but said nothing. As she turned around to get a full view of the kitchen what he told her fully sunk in. “Hold on, get in contact with us? What did we do?” she asked.
Draco frowned. “What did I just say?” He retorted. “I don’t know, all the letter said that was laying on the table when I came down was that someone would be in touch with us to discuss the situation when we were both awake. I tried to wake you up, but even screaming names at you didn’t stir you. I’ve been awake for two days now. Must be my pureblood, healing me faster.”
Hermione stared at him. Two days? How long had she been out for then?
Fully taking in what he said, she narrowed her eyes at him. “Can I see the letter?” She asked, trying not to sound as suspicious as she felt.
Draco rolled his eyes at her. “Don’t trust me Granger?”
“Not in the slightest, hand it over.”
Draco merely smirked at her and tipped his head to the piece of parchment sitting on the table. Hermione reached for it, seeing both their names at the top, and unravelled. After a quick skim, Hermione accepted that Draco was telling the truth.
“Seems accurate enough.”
“Funny that, huh Granger; Malfoy’s sometimes tell the truth.”
As Draco got up to grab something from the pantry, Hermione took this opportunity to observe him. He looked awful. Skin paler than usual with black blue, splotchy bruises covering larger areas of his arms and circles under his eyes. What’s going on? Why does he look so sickly?
“You look awful Malfoy, what happened to you?”
“Seriously, mudblood? Have you looked in a mirror lately?” Malfoy scoffed.
“Yeah, yeah I’m ugly and all that bullcrap.” Hermione retorted, looking absentmindedly around the room.
“No seriously” he said, as he turned to face her. “Look in a mirror. No joke.”
Hermione frowned and turned around to see her reflection in a pane of glass in a cupboard door, opposite the pantry wall. Walking slowly up to it, she gasped in shock. If Malfoy was sickly, she was the undead. Her skin was a sickly yellow colour and her eyes were sunken in. Her normal bushy hair, though still somewhat bushy, was thinner than normal from patches of where it had lost hair. Her face was hollow and her arms were also covered in horrible black bruises. She looked ill. She looked dead.
As she turned back to Draco with a look of horror on her face, she swallowed thickly. “Malfoy, what exactly happened to us? Are we going to be okay?” Her voice came out barely above a horrified whisper.
Hermione saw a look of fear enter Draco’s usual cold and unnerving eyes. “Granger, I honestly don’t know.” Malfoy said with unusual sincerity. “But now we are both awake, hopefully we will soon find out and fix it.”
Two long, uneasy days passed and both Hermione and Draco had not heard anything. Having mostly kept to themselves, Draco was focused on the third book he had been reading since the one he read when Hermione first came downstairs, and Hermione was nibbling on a sandwich she had made from food in the pantry. The cupboard had been fully stocked, which worried her. Were they expected to be here for a while?
While trying to waste time she familiarized herself with her location. It seemed to be a cottage, but not as small as she had originally thought. There were four bedrooms, two upstairs, as she had expected, and two downstairs. A large kitchen complete with a dining area, with a separate living room where Draco Had spent most of his days reading. There was also a small study just off the living area that had bookshelves laden with old novels that, if Hermione wasn’t so worried about her current state, she would be fawning over. There seemed to be a backyard also but she hadn’t braved going outside as it was freezing in the cottage already, and the snow outside the window was thick and heavy.
She had found herself in a small tryst with Draco the day before, wanting to send out a letter of information, indicating someone of their current condition as they had heard nothing. But after a back-and-forth yelling match that almost levelled the kitchen, she conceded defeat to Draco’s triumphant smirks, who reminded her that they didn’t actually know who the letter was from, and that it said, very particularly, that someone would be in touch with them in due time, and to “just have some god-damn patience Granger, I want to know as much as you do”.
Hermione looked down at the sandwich she had been nibbling on. She had been eating the same small corner for the last twenty minutes, lost in thought. She could not remember how she ended up here or what the events of the war put her in this position. It was all a blur of distant memories, and the mix of memory loss and terrible body weakness was severely dampening Hermione’s spirits.
As almost as an acknowledgment of her prayers, a knock from the front door echoed throughout the silence of the house. Hermione whipped her head around and listened as the knock came again. As she got up with her wand stretched out in front of her, Draco met her in front of the main door with the same incredulous look on his face.
“Well, what are you waiting for Granger?” He asked, “open the damn thing.”
She opened the door quickly to a short, stock man wearing maroon St Mungo’s officials robes. Looking from Draco to Hermione with an unreadable expression, he introduced himself. “Mr. Malfoy, Miss Granger, my name is Dr. Harold Cartwright. I am from St Mungo’s on behalf of the Spell Damage and Rehabilitation Clinic. I am here to explain to you, your current predicament. Would you mind if I came in?” His voice was soothing, yet professional, but it didn’t make either party feel any more comfortable.
“O…of course. Please come in and have a seat,” Draco said, as he was the first one to find his voice.
Draco and Hermione followed Harold inside and led him to the kitchen When they were all comfortable, Harold began to speak again. “What is the last thing that you two remember, if you don’t mind my asking?” he asked.
Draco motioned to Hermione to answer first. “Um...” She began, “I can’t be quite sure. I get snippets of battle, like still images, sometimes I’m here,” she gestured her hands to one space, “and other times I’m here,” Hermione gestured her hands again. “I have a small splash of memory of Bellatrix, but apart from that, it’s black…” Hermione went quiet, placing her hands still in her lap.
Harold nodded reassuringly. “I understand. You may find some of your memories will come back in time, Miss Granger. And you, Mr. Malfoy? What do you remember?”
Draco looked uneasy.
“I-I can’t be sure. I think it was to do with Gra-Hermione. I saw Bellatrix go to attack her and was running towards her… but it’s all blank after that.” His voice trailed off as his gaze looked out the window, and he shook his head to turn his attention back, looking to Dr. Cartwright.
“I’m sorry to be blunt, but what has this got to do with the fact that we both look half-dead and are in this place? What is this place?” He said, a frown on his face as anger began to seep back in.
Harold looked at the both of them and sighed. “Well,” he began, “You are currently in a rehab safe house. The reason you are here has to do with that attack Bellatrix Lestrange was aiming at you Miss Granger, and that you intercepted Mr. Malfoy.”
He unclasped his small leather satchel and picked out a file, opening it and reading from the papers before continuing.
“The curse Miss Lestrange used on the two of you was incredibly dark magic, and is one no-one in our department in spell damage has come across before, even the most established of healers. When you were brought to us, the spell had already done significant damage, and we did our best to repair it. But it is not like most spells -“
Hermione looked between the short man and Draco with a look of puzzlement on her face “I-i don’t understand,” she interrupted, “are we healed then? For the most part, we seem to be getting on okay, apart from looking sick and being tired and falling over from time to time.”
“Not exactly, Miss Granger,” Harold continued, not missing a beat. “After time, the curses affects fade away. But, by then the curse has already done it’s damage. This curse latches on to the human body and attacks the cells, which in turn, turns the body’s cells against itself.”
Hermione stared at him. “So, like muggle cancer?” She asked, her voice above a whisper.
Harold shook his head slightly. “Almost, but not quite. Cancer creates cells to attack parts of the body, this is cells attacking cells. So the body, in a way, is fighting itself from the inside out.”
Hermione’s stare was hollow. “I don’t know what to make of this,” she mumbled, more to herself than to Harold, who was looking calm but uneasy. It was evident he did not like being in this awkward situation.
Draco was still trying to grasp the initial aspect, and decided he needed a few more minutes to mull it over. “Dr. Cartwright, would you like some tea?” He asked, getting up and making some before he even got an answer.
“Ah, oh, um, yes please.” Harold said uncomfortably.
As Draco made tea for everyone, the silence was thick with tension. When he came back to sit down, he placed three mugs on the table and poured tea for everyone, trying unsuccessfully to keep his hands from shaking.
The three sat in silence for a few moments, drinking their tea, before Harold felt comfortable to continue.
“What you are not aware of is that you have spent the last two months in an intensive care unit at St. Mungo’s, as we figured out just how to begin to heal you. We have been somewhat successful, but it has been a slow process. We had to rid your bodies of the curse to begin with, and then slowly start to rebuild up your healthy cells so that you would be able to function with everyday activ-“
“Hold on!” Hermione said, flustered “You mean to say we’ve been sick in St. Mungo’s for over two months?”
“In a coma-like state, yes” Harold answered calmly, expecting an outburst.
“You’re cells are rebuilding themselves as we speak, but as you can see from your pallor and the significant bruising on your skin, it has taken a traumatising toll on your bodies. You are both here in this safe house to give you time to heal properly. What your bodies need now is rest, and to be kept away from stressful situations. The situations in which your bodies were in while undergoing treatment were stressful, and the newly formed cells are taking all your current energy and nutrients from other parts of the body to restore as a priority. The bruises are from the cells repairing themselves, if you were touched too roughly bruises would spring up because there was no protection there.”
Hermione looked at Harold with a frown. “These symptoms will heal and disappear, right?” She asked.
“These symptoms will fade over time, you just need to keep yourselves rested. I will admit, even though we have registered that this is not a contagious curse side effect, it is a mere precaution to keep you isolated until we find out what curse you were struck with, so we know how to deal with it if we find ourselves in this situation again,” Harold explained.
“So how long do we have to stay here for? There are other places I would rather spend my time,” Malfoy enquired, frowning. He was still trying to come to terms with what happened.
Harold nodded. “I understand, Mr. Malfoy. But currently, what you would consider the “outside world” is not the best for two people in weakened states such as yourselves to be going back into. You both, however, have been healing at a decent rate. We are looking at minimum three weeks, maybe a month. Then we will come back and assess you to see if you need to stay any longer.” Harold smiled kindly at the two.
Hermione spoke up at this point. “A month! A month is a very long time Dr. Cartwright. Surely there is something we can do to speed up the process? And what about our friends? I know you said isolation, but can we see them, or write at least? And what about the war, who won, what happened there?” Hermione was becoming visibly upset.
Harold shook his head firmly. “I cannot disclose to you the circumstances regarding the battle, that is the type of information that will hinder your recovery. Closer to you leaving, you will be filled in on what you have missed over the last two months, but until then, you are to stay in the dark. Your friends are allowed to visit, in fact Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley have been trying to come and visit for the last week. Same goes for you Mr. Malfoy, your friends can visit also. I know Mr Zabini has been asking about you. You may write as you please, there is an owl for each of you here.
“All of your personal belongings and clothing that deemed necessary are here, as well as items that friends asked for on your behalf. You have full access to the cottage and the grounds. There is an acre of land surrounding the cottage, with a garden and fruit trees out the back. The pantry will always be fully packed. There are board games and several bookcases. Also, there is a television with many movies available for you. We put a protective charm around the grounds, as there is a limit to how far you can go, for your own safety, of course.”
Hermione nodded in understanding. “Sir,” she said, “What about if something happens to us? Medically, I mean.”
Harold looked to her. “There are medicines available to you, potions for calming, exhaustion, energy, headaches, and pain relievers. Expect to struggle for the first few week, walking may be a concern, and fatigue will come and go, so I highly recommend you use the potions, they are there for your disposal. Your skin and bruises will come right over time. If something major happens, tap your wand against the front door and speak the incantation salutem subitis, and someone should be with you within the minute.” He said as he began to stand up.
“If neither of you have any questions, I will best be off.” He glanced between Hermione and Draco, and, after both shook their heads, smiled weakly down at them. “Healing should not be a hassle, just like anything, it takes time and patience. I hear from teachers the two of you have had disagreements in the past but I am sure during you’re time here that won’t be a bother, there’s enough room to not get on each other’s toes. If you need anything, do not hesitate to send the incantations and someone will come to your aid. Any questions feel free to send me an owl. I will be in touch.” With a nod in their direction, he walked out of the kitchen, and the click of the front door closing echoed through the house.
Hermione hadn’t ripped her gaze from the kitchen tile directly in front of her, taking in all the information she had just received. She was sick from a curse that no-one even knew had existed or what it did, the healers had done what they could to repair the damage, and now she had to live in a cottage with Malfoy while her body decided whether or not to accept the new cells or not.
She had completely forgot Malfoy was even in the room. Things may be a bit more complicated having to heal in a house alone with him. Surely that’ll end in more injuries than what they already have. It was time to swallow their pride.
She turned her gaze to him. He sat with his eyes staring up at the ceiling, a thoughtful look similar to what her’s would’ve been not a moment earlier plastered on his face, more than likely considering the same situation as her, he looked almost human, almost.
She cleared her throat softly to get his attention. “Hey, Malfoy” she began. His head whipped towards her, and he looked at her with a blank expression, so she continued. “I think if we are going to be in this situation together we should try and act civil to each other, at least while we are still healing. It is not going to do us any good if we constantly fight with each other.” She waited, observing him for a reaction.
Malfoy looked at her, expression blank. “I think you’re right Granger. We are not going to get any better if we are at each other’s throats all day” He nodded jerkily, then returned his gaze to the ceiling, gripping his cup of tea firmly.
Hermione frowned slightly. She expected a gesture of some kind. Perhaps a hand shake, or something, to solidify what would be considered a truce, but she had received nothing. She huffed quietly, finishing off her tea.
After a few moments, she turned back to look at him, then her tea cup, then back at him. “I’m going to go and write Harry and Ron a letter, telling them that they can come visit. Just thought I’d give you a heads up.” She said, as she got up and began to walk slowly out of the room.
She swore she heard a soft “Thanks Granger” as she walked out the door.
Author’s Note: Hi everyone! This is the newly re-written chapter as of July 2017!
If you have read before you may have realised there' s a few differences to some of the story, but nothing that will hider the rest of the plot as it continues, and if you are new, welcome, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the story!
Any comments or criticisms welcome, so please review!
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