Disclaimer: I don't own any of the events or characters. Except Lilith.
Warning: Explicit language
The next few days were spent in a similar manner. Draco would wake the moment she walked in, and they would chat about the last few years. He never brought up the topic again, afraid that she might start avoiding him all together. She had insisted that it was the best for him, but when he really thought about it, Draco didn't give a flying fuck. He rather enjoyed their quiet mornings compared to Lilith's clumsy company.
He was beginning to see parts of her that he had sorely denied back in Hogwarts. After the third day, he quietly admitted to himself that she was brilliant for completing a 3-year healing program in 1, and making it to the top of her branch as the youngest healer ever. She didn't graduate at the head of their class for nothing.
"So what have you been up to the last couple years?" she asked.
"Not much," he admitted. "My mother and I took a year to live in France after the war. She had some acquaintances that had graduated from Beauxbatons that she wanted to connect with again. When we retuned, we completely revamped the manor, and two years ago, I decided to start working."
"Working?" she repeated. He understood her confusion. With his inheritance, there was absolutely no reason for him to work a day in his life.
"Well, I don't want to spend the rest of my days at the manor doing nothing but stare at the same walls."
She nodded and gave him an impressed look.
Draco ignored it. "I started working for the ministry, specifically the Department of Magical Law Enforcement."
"Harry never told me about working with you," she commented.
"That's because I work in secret," he explained. "They hand me cases and I tell them everything I know about it. Sometimes they'll introduce dark spells with no lead and the answer will be right in my manor's library. I haven't actually seen Potter since the day of my trial. Besides, I'm sure over half of the ministry wouldn't feel comfortable knowing that they get information from me."
"Do they not question the source at all?" she mused.
"Most of them probably aren't smart enough to think it," he replied dryly. "And I'm sure Kingsley has a cover story for me."
Granger just nodded in silence.
The morning after that, Draco added her sarcastic humor to the list. He had no idea that Granger was rather cynical about some things. He had expected her to be the person who saw rainbows and jolly sunshine in everyone. Apparently, working in a hospital had dimmed that particular quality.
"Does Potter ever talk to you about his cases?" his was searching through his memories, trying to identify the man who had almost killed him.
She caught his subtly. "Sometimes. Although I haven't heard anything about the man who attacked you."
Shit. The girl should have been sorted into Slytherin. He sighed.
"Don't dwell on it," she reassured. "The second Harry catches him, he's sending the man's sorry excuse of a life to Azkaban."
Draco raised an eyebrow and turned to stare at her.
"What?" she slightly frowned.
He shrugged. "I never thought I'd hear you express such disdain for a life." Especially after her whole campaign on elf rights—what did she call it again? STEW? Something like that.
"Malfoy, the man attempted to kill you," she reasoned. "And almost succeeded if might I add. If he really is a Voldemort sympathizer as you said, he deserves nothing but a sentence."
Draco kept quiet after that. His mind drifted to his left forearm where the Dark Mark had been burned into his skin. It had faded over time, but was instantly recognizable by anyone who knew the mark. He knew Granger had seen it on more than one occasion healing him, but she had never asked him, or brought it up. Perhaps she had really left the past behind.
After a full week, Draco had compiled a mental list of everything he finally decided to notice in Hermione Granger. She was intelligent, hard working and driven, she could keep up in a verbal battle with him, but most of all, she genuinely cared. She gave to people, not expecting or wanting anything in return. Once he was able to sit up on his own and move his limbs willingly, she had cheered and gave him a dazzling smile that had practically thawed any remaining uncertainty.
It was after that week that Draco finally admitted to himself that he didn't hate Granger. In fact, he was falling for her, and falling hard. He supposed that he had always thought she was pretty, especially after seeing her at the Yule Ball in their fourth year, but his twisted mindset had blocked every feeling of regard he held for her. Now it was all crashing back to him like an uncontrollable waterfall of emotions.
He stood at a crossroad. Draco had no doubt that after he was discharged from St. Mungo's he would probably never cross paths with her again—unless of course, he was injured heavily enough, but he trashed the thought with a shake of his head. He could choose to admit his newfound feelings but the chance of her accepting them were close to none.
As far as he knew, Granger was still single. If it had been any other woman, he would have been uncertain, but he was considering the war heroine of the golden trio. Draco was sure if he looked hard enough, he could find a whole book dedicated to the relationships Hermione Granger had with people in her lifetime. There was no news about her situation with the Weasel, and after the Daily Prophet had filled almost every page with Potter when he got married, he was sure they wouldn't miss another chance if she had tried to seal the deal. He scowled, but that didn't mean she was seeing someone in secret. He knew now that she was closely guarded and absolutely loathed having lies flying around about her, so if she had decided to meet someone in private, she was definitely capable of doing so.
The thought put a bitter taste in his mouth. Draco rolled his tongue over his teeth and narrowed his eyes in sudden frustration. No, she wouldn't ever choose him. Maybe it would be better to simply leave things as they were and let the find the true man she actually deserved. A part of him screamed. He was a Malfoy, and Malfoys always got what they wanted. His jaw tightened. But he couldn't do that to her. It would be going against everything she ever stood for. Granger was independent, perfectly self-supporting, but most of all, free. He was sure she would never want to cage herself with him.
He threw himself back on the bed, his chest and head stinging thanks to his sudden movement. He laughed at himself, wondering if he had really lost his sanity. He closed his eyes and sighed. Granger's face began to form in front of him. She stretched her lips into that brilliant smile of hers and laughed. He could practically hear her perfectly as if she was really in his head. A small part of him said he had the chance. She wasn't pushing him away, nor did she show any signs of discomfort in his presence. But then again, she was a naturally caring person.
"Damn," he muttered in frustration, rolling in his bed. After his moping, he had decided to try. The worst she could do was reject him, although the notion itself made his chest squeeze uncomfortably. He could at least let her know. For all he knew, she probably thought he still hated her existence.
Coming to a silent agreement, he straightened his limbs out and closed his eyes; thinking of what he could say tomorrow morning.
When Draco awoke, he darted his eyes around but saw no one in the room. He felt greatly disappointed with himself that he had somehow slept through her visit, when he saw the door slide open and Granger walk in.
His heart rate picked up and he took a sharp breath. She was in her usual lime green robes with her long curly hair tied high on the back of her head. Draco followed the curve of her slim neck and dropped to her collarbones, barely peaking out from under her white shirt.
He bit his tongue, hoping that he wasn't grinning like an idiot for not missing her one visit.
"Can't you at least pretend to sleep when I walk in?" she asked lightly, waving her wand for her usual routine.
He smirked. "No."
She glared at him, but Draco didn't see any malice behind her gaze. He kept his signature smirk in place until she pressed her hand against his forehead. Her cool hands left traces of fire on his skin and his lips turned outward into a grin, and a pleasant hum escaped his throat. She titled her head.
"You seem… happy," she observed, removing her hand from his face.
He nodded. "Yes, well I've decided to come to terms with something."
She pursed her lips. "Don't tell me it's something like your impending death, because I'll feel offended."
"It's not Granger." Draco rolled his eyes. "Why in Merlin's name would I be happy about coming to terms with my supposed death."
She shrugged but smiled with amusement. "Who knows? I don't know what you're thinking."
You'd probably never guess. Draco inwardly smiled.
Her visits were becoming shorter and shorter as each day went by, as there were fewer injuries to fuss over. Draco knew he only had a few more minutes until she would leave him again for the rest of the day.
"Hey Granger," he began. "You know I don't absolutely hate your guts, right?"
"It's news to me," she replied.
"I'm being serious," he retorted, trying to keep his anxiety at bay.
She went silent for a moment. "It's nice to hear you confirm it."
He nodded. She removed the old bandage off his head and declared the injury healed. She then picked up his file and checked through the papers like she did every morning.
"You're healing really well, so starting tomorrow, you're going to start your rehabilitation with Lilith," she said. "I'm sure you want to start walking again as soon as possible,"
His previous happiness vanished. "Why Lilith?" he asked with a frown.
"Why not Lilith?" she countered with an eyebrow raise.
"Because I want you, Granger," he replied without missing a beat.
That seemed to throw her off. She stared at him with wide eyes, probably thinking she had heard incorrectly.
Fuck. He hadn't meant to say it so bluntly. He was so sure she would crawl into a whole and never speak to him again, but to his surprise, she blushed instead.
"W-What?" she finally said.
"What?" he repeated. "I can't ask my own healer to look over my recovery?"
Her jaw lowered. "Of course you can, but you—"
"No buts," he raised a hand and gave her a firm shake of his head.
Her face was a mix of bewilderment and confusion. Her hand was still raised, and she looked as stiff as a statue.
Wordlessly, he grabbed her wand arm and she finally relaxed her body and turned to look at him, her eyebrows furrowed. He swallowed down his nervousness and spoke.
"Look…Granger, as I was saying earlier, I wanted to tell you that… actually, I really—"
Her whole body went suddenly rigid in his grasp, and he could see her cringe as if someone was yelling right into her ear.
Draco remembered Lilith telling him about this. St. Mungo's had an emergency alarm system that rang and could only be heard by the intended healer. She had explained that she was sleeping when the alarm beeped in her head the night he arrived, asking for her aid.
Granger gave him an apologetic look and pulled her arm away, dashing to the small square device on the wall near the door. She pressed her fingers against the red button. A woman's voice rang through the box.
"Healer Granger, a new patient is being sent to the Spell Damage ward. It's highly critical. She'll arrive in room 410. "
The connection cut and she turned back to him biting her lip. "Sorry, Malfoy, I have to go."
With that, she slid the door open and rushed out of his room.
Draco was still frozen in place, his hand in mid-air where she had pulled away from him. A rush of disappointment filled his chest as he continued to stare at the white door.
Hermione was speed walking, but her mind was racing at a hundred miles per hour.
What was with that atmosphere back there? He had sounded like he was about to make some big confession. Hermione furiously shook her head.
Impossible. This was Malfoy she was thinking about.
Because I want you, Granger.
Hermione tried to force the blush off her face. He's talking about your healer status! Get a grip!
A small part of her brain was reminding her of all those trashy muggle romance novels she had read a few years back. The way he looked at her with those eyes of his. It felt like she could have drowned in the intensity. When was the last time someone looked at her like that? Probably never.
Room 410 appeared much too quickly. She opened the door to find the on-site healers inside. They quickly informed Hermione of the situation, and she nodded numbly. Her mind was still reeling with thoughts of Malfoy's behavior.
Hermione set tracking charms over the female patient, who she recognized as one of the new Aurors. She had severe burns all over her body, courtesy of a powerful Confringo. She set to work immediately, cooling the body temperature first, and then healing the skin.
Lilith came in a few minutes later looking puzzled and half-awake, but listened to Hermione's instructions effectively.
After a few hours of arduous work and concentration, her new patient was beginning to show signs of full stability. Hermione told Lilith to go and take a break; the girl still looked dazed. She replaced the burned clothes with the hospital garments and tucked the patient under the white sheets.
Hermione stepped back and leaned against the counter, releasing a large sigh. Her heart was pumping with adrenaline, and her eyes hurt from the constant strain.
Her free mind drifted back to Malfoy, and she felt her heart beat even faster. Merlin, he had really shocked her earlier. She shut her eyes and forced herself to believe that it was just Malfoy being a pretentious prick that could say smooth things like that without actually meaning anything.
She refused to acknowledge her raging heart and the warm feeling that spread through her stomach when she was with him.
It was ludicrous.
He had bullied her!
The second she brought up that excuse, she knew she was in complete denial. She had forgiven him of his past transgressions and moved on. They were both now adults, completely capable of thinking and acting for themselves. Using an excuse like that was illogical. And Merlin knows she was all about logic.
"I'm insane," she whispered to herself. "Completely, utterly insane."
She was enjoying his company. Every morning she stood in front of 406, her heart beat with anticipation, knowing he was awake and willing to talk to her. He had never disappointed. She shared smiles with him that she only gave to Harry or Ron on occasion, and expressed her thoughts on current events. Not to mention, the man could keep up incredibly well.
Maybe it was the fact that she hadn't had a decent conversation with anyone recently. She shook her head. That was bollocks and she knew it. Healers and co-workers of equal intelligence surrounded her, and she would visit the Burrow or Grimmauld Place at least once a week. She was never lacking company.
Malfoy was simply a decent person to be with when she got to know him. Scratch that. He was more than decent. He hadn't uttered a single complaint—not that she got much in the first place—but most patients wanted to know what she was doing, what they were drinking, asking repetitive questions about their condition, when they would be able to go home, and on and on.
He was always silent, simply listening to her and seemed to trust that she knew what she was doing. She couldn't deny that it felt gratifying to be given such faith.
Hermione pushed herself from the counter and casted an alerting spell over the injured Auror. She needed to eat first, and then she would approach her situation with a rational head.
After having a lunch break in the dining hall and conversing with her fellow healers, she felt much more relaxed. Deciding to get some brief exercise, she hiked up the stairs back up to the fourth floor and into her office. She cleared her desk and called for Lilith.
Her assistant arrived a few minutes later, looking awake and alert. Hermione smiled, figuring that Lilith was definitely not a morning person.
"Healer Granger, you called for me?"
She handed the girl a new file and began to explain. "This is Miss Roth's file. She's the Auror that came in this morning. I want you to start overlooking her aftercare while she recovers."
Lilith took he file and tinned her lips. "What about Mr. Malfoy?"
"Mr. Malfoy's aftercare is over," she continued. "He's going into muscle rehabilitation starting tomorrow. You've done a great job, Lilith, which is why I'm entrusting Miss Roth to you this time."
Her dark eyes sparkled with heightened self-esteem. Merlin knew the girl needed it. "Thank you, Healer Granger. I'll do my absolute best."
Hermione gave her assistant a warm smile and politely dismissed her from the office. As soon as the door shut, she heaved a relieved sigh. Fate had worked wonders for her situation. She was sure Malfoy would be shocked to know Lilith was no longer overlooking him. Twirling a muggle pen in her hand, she felt a small smile form her lips.
There was a familiar sound of tapping to her left and Hermione turned to see Harry's owl, Duane, at her window. She rose and opened the glass for the bird immediately, undoing the letter from its leg and popping an owl treat in its mouth. He hooted affectionately and perched himself on a wooden bar next to her desk.
She undid the scroll with a wave of her wand, and began to read Harry's letter.
James and Ginny are doing well, the same as always. The kid is already having accidental bursts of magic—small ones don't worry!
It hasn't been published in the Prophet yet, but we caught Yaxley early this morning. I'm positive he's the one who attack Malfoy two weeks back. He's currently detained in the Ministry and is set for trial in a few days. I'm sure you're aware, but Shirley got caught in his last spell attempt. Tell me when she wakes because most of my team is planning to visit her. Don't be hesitant to hex them if they're too noisy, I'll understand.
I hope everything is going well. I know I wasn't in the last two times you visited; Ginny gave me an earful I assure you. Don't keep yourself buried in your research for too long, they'll suffocate you sooner or later.
Smiling, she began to write a reply to him, letting him know that she was still alive and researching. She agreed to let him know when Miss Roth woke up, and added a few comments for Ginny and James. She dried the ink with a flick of her wand and rolled it into a tight scroll. Duane stuck out his leg for her. She swiftly tied the parchment and sent the midnight black owl on its way.
The rest of the day flew by as usual. Hermione decided she would save the newfound information for tomorrow morning so she would at least have something to talk about if things got quiet. She slightly feared his reaction, but if anything, Hermione wanted the truth. She wanted to make sure he wasn't fooling around. She had no idea what he really though of her, but soon she was going to find out.
She woke up in the morning, sprawled out like a sea star on her bed. Crookshanks was curled up in between her knees, and Hermione had to move very slowly so she wouldn't wake him. She took a shower and tamed her hair into manageable curls. Her hair was extremely long now, falling down to her stomach. She found that it had actually done some good by adding that extra bit of weight.
Hermione tossed on a light blue shirt with a thin white robe over it. She apparated to St. Mungo's and slid her wand into the magical Kronos, which checked her in for the day.
She grabbed her healer robes from the office, and stared to do her morning rounds on her patients. After the first day of waking Malfoy, Hermione had left him for last, hoping he would stay asleep longer than way. It seemed to work, as far as she knew, he always woke up a few moments after she had walked in.
She concluded that she would be sending another one of her patients home today, but with the addition of Miss Roth; her schedule had remained relatively the same. After making sure the Auror was stable, Hermione walked over to 406, holding her breath and presenting the face of a confident healer.
The door seemed to strain against her pull. She gave it a strong tug and something heavy fell on top of her. She gasped with alarm and instinctively shot her arms out and bent her knee to stop her fall. It felt like a cabinet full of Lavender Brown's clothes had fallen against her. Grunting, she saw a head on white blonde hair over her shoulder.
"Malfoy?" she choked out, fear gripping her heart.
He groaned in pain in response.
"Hold on—" she pressed out. Hermione temporarily shifted his weight to her left arm, and quickly untangled her wand arm. "Mobilicorpus!"
Malfoy's body fell back from hers in an arc. Before he could hit the floor, he came to a slow stop as if he was being held up an invisible force. She waved her wand and gently moved his body back on the bed. She heard him grunt in pain and mutter a stream of curses.
She released the spell after setting him down and allowed him a moment to breath before she slid the closed and stared at him.
"Malfoy, what in Merlin's name were you doing?" she asked, trying to keep her voice calm without much success. Her wand moved furiously through the air as she cast a diagnosis spell, making sure there weren't any new injuries. It appeared negative, and Hermione lowered her wand with relief.
"I was… testing out my leg," he finally said.
She gave him a sharp look. "What? Why—oh never mind don't explain." She pressed her fingers to the bridge of her nose and scowled. "You do realize that you could have injured yourself even more? What if I wasn't able to catch you?"
Hermione glared at him, but he didn't seem to notice. His lips were pressed into a thin line of concentration, and his forehead was damp with sweat. He turned away from her so she was glaring at the side of his face.
Sighing, she conjured a clean cloth and began to wipe away the moisture. Malfoy was her patient first and foremost and she couldn't allow herself to leave him while she was struggling in her anger. She cast a temporary muscle relaxing charm and saw him visibly ease. His breathing was slowly calming down as well.
"Now," she said in a much quieter voice. "Will you tell me why you were being so reckless?"
He swallowed and gave her a sheepish smile. "I thought you didn't want me to explain?"
"Do enlighten me, Mr. Malfoy," she said sternly.
That seemed to do it. He flinched slightly noticing her anger and sighed. "I… wanted to go see you."
Her heart thudded loudly, and her stern expression dropped immediately. After a moment of silence, she quietly resumed her suspended breathing and raised her eyebrows.
He seemed to struggle for words. "I just… wanted to know your answer."
She knew what he was talking about. "You couldn't wait five more minutes for me to walk in?
"Sorry, Granger." His grey eyes stared back at her, his eyebrows pulling together. He looked genuinely sorry; it hurt her to be angry with him.
She had considered why he had practically risked his life to get a yes or no answer. It didn't make sense. Why was that so important to him? Plus, it still felt extremely odd to hear Malfoy apologize to her.
"It's okay," she finally replied. "I'm glad you're not hurt."
He continued to stare at her and Hermione reckoned he was waiting for the answer. She raised her eyebrows again and gave him a small smile. "Malfoy, if I'm not fussing over checking you in, why else do you think I'm here?"
His eyes widened with surprise and Hermione swore she saw them light up. A lop-sided grin replaced his frown and his shoulders loosened.
"You're the best, Granger. When do we start?"
"Now?" she offered. "Or later when the rehab room is filled with other patients and often trainees."
"Now it is," he chose without hesitation.
She inwardly smiled, of course.
Hermione walked over to his right leg and folded the hospital clothing higher so that it rested above his knee. She placed her left hand under his calf, and her other hand behind his heel.
"I'm going to guide your leg to fold back and forth a few times. Tell me if something hurts, or feels off."
He gave her a nod and she began gently bending his knee. After that, she raised the foot and extended his leg as far as he could, and then pushed it back so his knee hovered over his abdomen. She repeated the process a few times then retracted her hands, asking him to preform the reps without her aid. He did them successfully, and lowered his leg back on the bed.
Satisfied, she conjured a walking cane and handed it to him. He immediately scowled.
"Granger I am not going to use that," he bit out.
"You have to," she insisted. "I'm not going to have you crawl over there."
"Can't you levitate me?" he pleaded, looking reluctant.
She glowered at him. Why was Malfoy so unwilling to just use the damn thing?
He was a Malfoy. Even the thought of having to rely on a pole to walk probably damaged his pride. Not only that, but the cane had instantly reminded Hermione of the blonde's father. She sighed. No wonder he would rather be levitated.
She vanished the cane with a wave. "Fine," she quietly agreed.
With a sharp flick, Malfoy's body lifted into the air. She gently guided him out of the bed and out the door. She walked towards the rehabilitation center, her wand trained on him.
After a few turns, they approached a large room. The walls were covered with floor to ceiling mirrors and there were all kinds of small instruments lying around. She lowered him on a cushiony black chair and released the spell.
With another wave of her hand, two wooden bars that ran parallel to each other appeared before him. Hermione walked around, slid in between them and gestured for Malfoy to stand.
"Hold onto these while you walk," she explained. "Don't rush. If you fall, I'll catch you."
He smirked. "Like you so expertly did this morning?"
"I was unprepared!" she protested. "And besides, I still caught you."
He chuckled, seemingly amused.
"So," she said. "Let's start."
A/N: I felt that the first chapter had too many perspective switches, so I separated this one into just two.
Thank you to everyone who responded to the story, and my fellow non-responsive visitors as well! You guys keep me in jolly spirits. There's going to be one more chapter after this one. Please Review! (: