The revelation of her sire's bloodline had left Hermione completely dumbstruck for quite a while after she had been informed. Catching Hermione yawning while she was trying to process all of the new information and come up with more questions to ask, Seras had suggested that the young vampiress get some more rest as it was the middle of the day outside. Hermione had reluctantly agreed to try to get some more sleep after being promised that Seras would wake her soon after dusk so she could ask more questions.
After taking a moment to dim the lanterns that were lighting the room, Seras took a seat in the rather uncomfortable chair situated at her new relation's bedside and closed her eyes to rest. She made sure not to actually fall asleep since Hermione was still very vulnerable and there was still a contract out on her now un-life. Hermione was far more inquisitive than she had been, reflected Seras, hopefully it would be a helpful trait in regard to helping her work through all of the upheaval her life was about to experience. At least, Seras thought, Hermione had a good group of friends who would likely be willing to stand with her through all that was to come for her.
Hermione found herself unknowingly thinking along similar lines as she tried to relax enough to fall asleep. She was confident that her friends would stick by her after all they had been through together, especially after the acceptance they had shown Professor Lupin regarding his lycanthropy. Even then though, she was nervous; after all, being a vampire wasn't something that was only for a few nights each month. She was especially worried about Ron and how he was taking it. She wasn't sure he'd want to continue their relationship, hell, she wasn't even sure she thought it would be a good idea to continue their relationship anymore. While she'd almost felt like a physical burden had been lifted from her when she found out that Molly wanted to adopt her despite her condition, she knew her new needs and especially her immortality would almost have to impact the nature of her relationships.
She still couldn't believe that her parents were gone. She wasn't sure whether she was just in shock still or if it hadn't had time to sink in yet, but she found herself feeling incredibly numb rather than being as distraught as she figured she ought to be. Was she a terrible daughter for not feeling the way she thought she should about her parents' deaths? Was it because of becoming a vampire that she found all of the emotions when she thought of them to be muted and distant? She resolved to ask her master about it after she'd gotten some sleep. Sighing, Hermione shifted onto her side to face away from the door, even with the light in the room turned down everything still seemed painfully bright to her incredibly sensitive eyes.
Hermione found her gaze settling on Seras sitting in the chair next to her bed, eyes closed and head leaning back. She knew almost nothing about her new master. Master? why did she keep thinking of the petite blonde that way? Maybe a compulsion due to their blood bond? Making a mental note to ask about it later, she considered the person in front of her. Seras was about her height, though she was significantly curvier, and appeared to be about the same age that she was as well. How long had she been a vampire? She didn't really seem to fit any of the stereotypes, Seras was about as far away from dark and brooding as Hermione figured an individual could get. Even resting, it seemed the blonde had a slight smile on her face.
Finding herself relaxing somewhat while gazing on her master's gentile visage, Hermione finally felt her eyelids start to grow heavy again. After spending a short while reviewing what little she knew about vampire lifestyles to try to formulate some relevant questions for her master, sleep finally claimed her.
Hermione found herself being gently shaken awake a few hours later. "It's evening, Hermione, and some of your friends have come to visit you," Seras informed her. "They're waiting in the lounge up on the main floor."
Hermione found herself smiling, she hadn't really expected anyone to be able to get to the hospital to see her so soon. "Thank you mast…" Hermione cut off her sentence as her expression changed to one of puzzlement, "Why do I keep wanting to call you, 'master?'"
"That's part of the blood bond between you and I. The compulsion will stop after you've become a mature vampire by drinking blood of your own free will and I've released you by allowing you to drink some of mine." Noticing that Hermione's expression was growing increasingly concerned Seras continued, "Don't worry about any of that for now though. You're still a newborn as a vampire and you have a lot of time to get used to things before needing to worry about any of that." Giving Hermione a perky smile, she went on, "Anyway, there will be plenty of time for questions a little later. Why don't you wash up a bit in the bathroom so we can go and meet the friends who are waiting for you outside, okay?"
Hermione nodded her assent and sat herself up in bed, taking a moment to get used to being vertical before levering herself over the edge and onto the stone floor which, in her bare feet, she knew probably should have been uncomfortably chilly, but she brushed that off and headed into the bathroom attached to her room. Taking a look at herself in the mirror, and admittedly being relieved that she still did have a reflection, she quickly realized why Seras had told her to wash up. Her face had been stained by her bloody tears earlier, as had her hospital gown. Taking a glance around the bathroom she quickly found a spare gown to change into and pulled the soiled one off. A few minutes later, feeling much better after having changed and washed her face she walked back out into her room.
Hermione smiled slightly at Seras as she exited the washroom and waited for the older vampire to get to her feet and lead the way out of the hospital room. Seras returned her smile and walked over to her, pressing a plastic pouch into her hand. "Before you see your friends you should probably feed. You'll always be tempted when you're around the living, but having a drink before hand can make it much easier to endure. Just remember, it's an instinct and can't be helped. You're not a bad person for being tempted by your friends."
Hermione stared down at the blood bag in her hand. It was inevitable, she knew, that she would have to drink blood and being able to drink donated blood out of a bag should be a nice easy starting point. Still, her mind struggled against the notion, it felt like it would be the first step away from her humanity. Well, the second step actually, she mentally amended. Even if it were inevitable, did it have to be quite so soon? She was still wrangling with herself when Seras reached over and gently pulled the tab off of the tube. Hermione's eyes went wide, the smell coming from the open blood bag was nigh irresistible. Trying not to think about what she was doing, she raised the open tube to her mouth and took a small sip. The next thing she knew the bag was empty and she found herself longing for another. "I didn't think it would taste so...good."
"Our sense of taste changes when we become vampires. To us, blood tastes better than the finest wines. You'll probably find out soon that you prefer a specific blood type and virgin's blood always tastes better than blood from those whom are not. Anyway, you're already off to a better start as a vampire than I had. I refused to drink for weeks after I was turned." Seras looked to Hermione who had finally placed the empty blood bag on the bedside table after taking a moment to read the label. "Shall we go meet your friends?" Seras asked, extending a hand which Hermione took a moment later before leading her out into the hall.
"I figure you probably don't know your way around down here," Seras informed her as they walked down the hallway, "St. Mungo's doesn't usually use the basement rooms for anyone but vampires or so I've been told. Now a quick warning, be careful if you hug your friends. You're much stronger than you used to be, so be gentle about it until you've gotten used to your strength. You'll also have to decline any offers of food since we can't ingest solids anymore."
"Can we drink liquids other than blood?" Inquired Hermione.
"Oh yes. Things like tea, wine, coffee, and cocoa are all fine, though alcohol and caffeine don't really have an effect on us anymore. I would strongly recommend against drinking anything that's heavily carbonated though. Vampire burps taste awful no matter what you've been drinking," replied Seras with a grin. Both women laughed a bit at that as they continued their walk. Seras guided Hermione to the stairwell leading up to the rest of the hospital and led her up to the main floor. Hermione looked around for a moment, feeling a bit of relief now that she was in slightly more familiar surroundings, and started to head toward the guest lounge.
The moment Hermione passed through the door, she found herself surrounded by familiar faces. Harry, Neville, Luna, and the entire Weasley clan had all managed to cram themselves into the small room. Ginny was the first to move, dashing up to Hermione and embracing her tightly. "Hermione, I'm so glad you're still here. I don't know what I'd do if I lost you too," she whispered, a catch in her voice. Hermione returned the embrace, being careful not to squeeze too tightly. After a few moments, Ginny backed away to make room for the others to have their turns.
Harry was next, followed by Luna, Neville, Percy, Charlie, and Bill who all promised to help her in any way possible. Hermione couldn't help but be touched by the outpouring of support her friends were showing for her. George practically skipped up to her, loudly announcing, "No hickeys. Angelina would not approve," as he hugged her. "You can go ahead and nibble on Bill though," he added, sotto voce, "I think he's aiming to get bitten once by every type of magical creature he can find." Everyone gathered had a laugh at that and George grinned at the mock glare on Bill's face.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley embraced her tightly. "Hermione, dear, we're so sorry about what happened to you and your family. If there's anything at all we can do to help make this a little easier for you, just let us know," said Molly, "Your parents left us legal guardianship over you, but you're already an adult and don't really need our supervision, but if you decide you'd like us to adopt you, we would love to have you as part of the family." Hermione actually started to cry a little at Molly's offer and had to pull away briefly to avoid staining everyone's clothes with her tears while she wiped at her eyes with a tissue Seras had thoughtfully supplied.
Finally Ron shuffled forward, his head bowed and his face clouded with uncertainty. Hermione noticed that everyone else was quietly vacating the room and reached out to gently lift his chin, "Ron, I'm so sorry. I know this isn't the way either of us would have wanted things to go." Hermione felt like something inside of her had shattered when he recoiled from her touch as her hand got closer. She started sobbing in earnest now, "I...I don't know what I'm supposed to do now, if we could even make a relationship work when I'm like this. Even though I look the same, I'm not even really human anymore." Ron didn't reply. He opened and closed his mouth a few times and looked pained as he couldn't figure out just what to say. "I don't want to hold you back from having a normal life," Hermione sniffed.
They stood there in near silence, the only sound coming from Hermione's tearful sniffles, for what seemed like hours. Only a few feet away from one another but there was a wall between them now and she wasn't sure if they would be able to get past it. "I'm sorry, Hermione," Ron's subdued voice was hardly above a whisper, "I wish I knew what I should do or say. I...I always wanted us to end up together but I don't...It feels like I can't see that future anymore. I just...I need time to figure things out." Ron slowly backed out of Hermione's reach before once once more uttering, "I'm sorry," and turning to walk dejectedly out of the room.
Hermione found herself sinking slowly to her knees in the empty room. Scarlet tears streamed from her eyes, staining her skin as she buried her face in her hands and wept. She didn't even notice when the door to the hallway once again opened and Seras, Mrs. Weasley, and Ginny entered. It barely registered as they knelt around her and uttered reassurances. The future that she'd seen for herself, that had kept her going for so long, was falling apart in front of her and she was powerless to save it. A bit of maneuvering from the other women and she found herself sobbing into Seras' shoulder while Ginny hugged her tightly from behind and Molly knelt next to her, gently stroking her hair and occasionally swiping at her tears with a tissue. "If it makes you feel any better Hermione," whispered Ginny in her ear, "I bat-bogeyed him for walking out on you." Hermione felt Ginny's hug tighten as she struggled to laugh through her sobs.
It was almost fifteen minutes later when Molly sent Ginny to invite the rest of the visitors back into the room. Hermione had mostly collected herself, but her eyes were still bloodshot and her throat raw from crying. A cleaning spell from Molly had banished all traces of the blood which had gotten everywhere while Hermione sobbed. The gathering took on a much more subdued tone after Ron left the group and, according to George, disapparated himself somewhere. It was easy for everyone to tell that Hermione was no longer really in the mood for visitors, so after making polite conversation for a few minutes and promising to visit again soon, the bulk of the group departed leaving only Molly and Seras.
Hermione felt like her legs were made of lead as her master and the Weasley matron escorted her back down to her room in the basement. Not a word was said as they strode through the empty hallways, eventually winding back up at Hermione's room. Hermione sat when they walked her to the bed, and drank when Seras placed a blood packet in her hand, but she found herself too wrapped up in mourning the loss of the future she'd imagined for herself to pay attention to any conversation. She barely registered it when Molly and Seras excused themselves to talk to a mediwizard outside for a moment.
"Hermione?" she raised her face to look at the two women standing before her, both with worried expressions on their faces. "The mediwizards have decided that you're well enough to be released. Would you like to go straight to Hellsing mansion, or would you rather come to The Burrow for a day or two first?" Molly asked. Hermione tried to force herself to focus on the decision in front of her. She was nervous about going to Hellsing, and The Burrow was like a home away from home for her. The Burrow would also mean that Mrs. Weasley and Ginny and Luna would all be close by for her. But so would Ron. Everything there would remind her of Ron.
"I'll go to Hellsing," Hermione stated, her voice sullen. "I'm sorry Mrs. Weasley, there are just too many memories." Nodding in acceptance, Mrs. Weasley leaned forward to enfold Hermione in a hug.
"I understand, dear. Just know that whenever you're ready, no matter what happens, our door is always open to you," Mrs. Weasley reassured Hermione before handing her a small bundle of clothes. "The clothes you were wearing were ruined. These are some of Ginny's." Hermione nodded her thanks before trudging to the bathroom to get changed. Hermione tried to collect herself a little while she got dressed but try as she might, she couldn't force herself to focus through the dark cloud she felt like her mind was engulfed in.
Far too much had happened in far too short a time. Numbly, she pulled off the hospital gown and replaced it with the clothes Mrs. Weasley had brought for her. They were a loose fitting top and long skirt so she didn't have to worry about the fit. Quickly checking in the mirror to make sure her distraction hadn't led her to put any of the clothing on backwards, she exited the bathroom and sat down on the bed again, unsure what she should do next. She looked up from her lap as Mrs. Weasley approached and stood in front of her. "Hermione," she began, "Seras said a car was coming to pick you both up and would be here in a few minutes. She said she'd meet you by the entrance"
"I'm sorry Mrs. Weasley," Hermione whispered.
"Don't be, dear. None of this is your fault, and you have nothing to be sorry for. Hellsing is going to be having one of their fireplaces connected to the floo network tomorrow so we'll still be able to visit you easily and Seras seems like a good woman. I'm sure she'll make sure you're well taken care of." Mrs. Weasley hugged Hermione tightly, "Hermione, we love you like a daughter, and I meant it when I said to tell us if there's anything that you need."
"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione managed to get out, her voice still rough from crying, "I love you all too."
Gently, Mrs. Weasley withdrew from the embrace and gave Hermione as reassuring a smile as she could muster. "I guess we'd better start heading upstairs then. Your ride is probably here by now." Hermione nodded her assent and hopped off the bed to follow Mrs. Weasley out of the room and back toward the stairwell. "Hermione, I'll be by to visit as soon as the floo network gets connected," she promised as they mounted the stairs back up to the main level.
"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley. I promise I'll try to be better company next time," said Hermione with a self deprecating smile. "I guess it's time for me to go," she said noting Seras waiting for her by the door. After hugging Mrs. Weasley one last time, Hermione made her way to Seras who took her hand and led her out of the hospital.