Hermione walked into the coffee shop with Luna at her side. She was rambling to the blonde girl about how difficult of a patient Snape had been to her that morning.
"I swear, that man criticizes my healing abilities every time his blood thickens in response to my Zenoxide injections," Hermione grumbled as they waited in line. "He obviously knows that blood-thickening is a side effect of taking Zenoxide intravenously. He just wants to find an excuse to make me feel bad about being a muggle-born Healer."
Luna nodded. "Yes, the blubberdingers are very active around Snape, especially when he's sick. It's understandable that he would cope by throwing some Jumfairies your way."
Hermione winced at Luna's remark. Then she burst into laughter. This was why she loved spending time with Luna whenever she was in a bad mood.
After Luna ordered her coffee, she turned and bumped into Blaise, splattering some of her coffee on her white coat.
Blaise whirled around and faced her with wide eyes. "Luna! I'm so sorry, let me clean that up for you!" He grabbed a ridiculous handful of napkins and started wiping the left middle of her coat.
"No worries, Blaise," said Luna in her airy voice.
Hermione stifled a laugh. Then she looked over Blaise's shoulder to see Draco sitting at a two-person table with two cups of coffee in front of him. She assumed one of them was for Blaise.
"Blaise, you idiot!" Draco raised his voice. He was grimacing as he watched Luna grab her own napkin and help Blaise wipe off her coat. "I bet you did that on purpose, mate. Too scared to properly initiate a conversation with Lovegood?"
Hermione frowned. Seeing Draco reminded her that Tom Riddle had told her about how he and Bellatrix were in his room earlier this morning, when neither she nor Lexa were present. She stepped out of line to question him, but then stopped in her tracks. A two-headed rat, about the size of a squirrel, was crawling beneath Draco's table. Its eyes were a glowing yellow in the shadows.
"Hey, Granger," Draco's drawling voice snapped her out of her thoughts. "Are you standing there to admire my shoes, or do you have something to say?"
Hermione realized how awkward she must look, standing still with her eyes directed toward the floor beneath Draco's table. But she couldn't take her eyes off that rat. The rat was now crouching there, a few feet from Draco's feet. Its tail extended up and over its body, aiming toward Draco's shins, as if it were going to stab him.
"Draco, look out!" Hermione pointed at the rat. "There's a rat!"
Instantly, the rat darted beneath Draco's chair and disappeared into a hole at the corner of the coffee shop. By the time it was gone, Draco had turned to look beneath his table. He frowned. "Hmph. Trying to play games with me, Granger?"
"I swear, it was just right there," said Hermione hotly. "But whatever, it's gone. It's not like I cared what it was going to do to you anyway." She didn't even bother mentioning that it had two heads. She didn't want to sound as ridiculous as Luna.
"Hermione?" Luna had walked up to her. "Blaise just got me an extra cup of coffee since he spilled some of mine. You're welcome to have this full cup, since I didn't really mind spilling some from my old cup anyway."
"Oh…well, thank you, Luna," she took the cup and looked around for a table. Apparently, the only open table was the one behind Draco. She watched as Blaise sat down in front of Draco with a bagel he had ordered. Hermione gave a sigh. "I guess we have no choice but to sit there."
As soon as she and Luna took their seats, Hermione let out a gasp. The two-headed rat was on the windowsill several feet above Draco and Blaise's table. Its glowing eyes were directed down toward Draco, and its worm-like tail was extending downward in his direction.
Hermione drew out her wand and aimed it at the rat. "Alarte Ascendre!"
She had cried out the spell, just as the rat's tail-tip was merely an inch above Draco's head. The rat's body instantly crashed through the windowsill, causing sharp pieces of glass to fall over Draco, Blaise, and their table.
"Merlin's beard!" Blaise nearly fell back in his chair.
Draco's head shot up to gaze at the broken window. Then he looked over his shoulder. His startled, wide-eyed expression transformed into a glare as he saw Hermione standing at her table behind him, with her wand still pointed at the window.
"Granger, are you trying to get me injured today?" He scoffed, getting up to brush off the glass pieces that had landed on his lap and hair.
"Draco, that rat—"
"You know, if you want to unleash your anger on me, I'd rather have you do so in my face like a real Gryffindor, rather than trying to screw me over behind my back. Only Slytherins like myself are allowed to do that." Draco started stomping away from his table and toward the exit door. He opened the door, and was instantly struck on the forehead by a glazing, orange-brown tail of the rat. His entire body started seizing, as if he were getting electrocuted.
"Draco!" Hermione shouted, rushing over to his aid.
But then the tail drew back. Draco's eyes slowly shut, and he fell forward, flat on his face.
"Draco, mate!" Blaise squatted at his side and turned him over. Hermione and Luna hurried over and looked down to see dark-red blood leaking from a penny-sized dot on Draco's forehead.
"We got to get him back to the hospital!" Hermione shouted. "I'll page Lexa and we'll try to help him!"
Fortunately, Hermione, Lexa, and Luna were able to heal him almost an hour later. Hermione gazed at his unconscious body on the hospital bed.
"So he was stung by an Electrat?" Hermione turned to Lexa.
Her Healer mentor nodded, her eyes wide with shock. "Luckily you got him treated within one hour. If you had waited any longer, he would have surely been dead."
Luna's head was tilted as she stared down at Draco. "Hmm, I wonder why that rat was specifically trying to follow him."
Hermione threw her hands in the air. "Thank you, Luna! I tried to warm him."
Lexa jumped. "I bet Tom Riddle's behind this!"
Hermione winced. "What?! Lexa, you're not going to blame him for another—"
"One of Draco's maniacal patients was getting all flirty with Tom!" Shouted Lexa, looking ready to collapse with fear. "He could have been trying to seek vengeance by sending this rat to attack Draco!" She hurried out of the room before anyone could say a word.
Hermione rolled her eyes as she let out a groan.
Luna turned to her friend, looking concerned. "Don't worry, Hermione. I'll go and accompany Lexa and make sure she doesn't say anything peculiar to Tom."
Hermione didn't know what counted as "peculiar" to Luna, but she nodded anyway. As the blonde girl left the room, Hermione turned to see Draco slipping off his hospital bed to put on his white coat.
"How embarrassing," he muttered. "You better not tell anyone else in this hospital that I was a patient for almost an hour."
Hermione scoffed. "You're welcome, Malfoy."
He turned to her with a frown. "You think I'm going to thank you? I wouldn't have ran in that rat's direction if you hadn't broken that window!"
"I wouldn't have broken that window if that Electrat wasn't there! I merely saved your life, Malfoy."
He gave her a sardonic smile. "How touching, Granger. I guess you do care about me."
"Well, to cite Dr. Milette Barkson: I took care of you because it was the right thing to do, not because I liked you by any means."
Hermione thought she saw a glimmer of hurt in Draco's eyes, but she ignored it as soon as he started smiling smugly at her.
"You may have just put me in a new danger now, Granger," he said. "What if your psychotic Healer mentor was right?"
"What?! You can't possibly believe Lexa. Tom Riddle had nothing to do with what happened today."
"I dunno, the guy looked pretty uncomfortable when Bellatrix intruded in his room and started getting all flirty with him," Draco crossed his arms as he met Hermione's eyes with a concerned expression. "If he's after me, I might just end up like Weaselbee in the ICU."
"Oh, please. There's no reason Tom would ever want to kill you. Now if you please excuse me, I've got my next patient to see, and I'm sure do too, now that I've allowed you to be a Healer again."
She turned her back and stormed out of the room.
Draco's smug smile slowly transformed into a rather worried expression as Hermione left. Deep down, he truly was panicking. What if Tom Riddle knows? Draco knew that if Tom found out how he truly felt about Hermione, there was a high chance that he really had sent the rat.