Author: That'sSusanToYou PM
Post DH ignoring the epilogue Everything has changed since the chosen one saved their lives. People are in shock and some have changed; but how do you know who to trust?Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Romance - Draco M. & Hermione G. - Chapters: 16 - Words: 52,497 - Reviews: 41 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 53 - Updated: 08-20-11 - Published: 11-05-09 - id: 5490244
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I know, it has been a long time, but I have no choice but to give the same codswallop of being busy...
Everybody watched the last movie? Good. Anyone else hopelessly sobbed through the whole thing? I empathize. Anyone still feel their life is forever consumed by Harry Potter? Ditto. I think I can honestly say I went into a slight depression for a few days after watching the movie, realizing it was all over. But this is why we have fanfiction I suppose =]
I also want to notify everyone that I will be taking a bit of a HIATUS as I'm in my senior year of high school and it's a right pain. Both my editors are also insanely busy, so nobody has time to do much. Have no doubts that I will not finish this story; I repeat, I AM NOT ABANDONING THIS STORY. I'm just taking a small break. After that, I'm thinking of revising the initial chapters and smoothening out some details, and then finishing the story.
Another note (sorry this is becoming so long), this chapter hasn't been edited. Shrus and Rae, I'm not letting you edit because the both of you have so much crap to do, it's not even funny. I LOVE YOU BOTH THOUGH!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Harry Potter related you see in the story below except for the plot.
Read and review please =] All those who reviewed last time, hope you enjoyed the cauldron cakes. This time, liqourice wands!
Previously on Choices:
"He's not particularly angry at you. He's using anger as a way to not let anyone see how upset and anxious he is." Blaise told her. "He let his guard down in front of someone for the first time, and she left. He's been especially nasty this past year."
"And it's my fault," she groaned. "I have to make it up to him somehow, don't I?"
"I failed again." Draco said plainly. "My mother is the only person I have left, and I've failed to take care of her again."
"She isn't the only person you have. You have your father and Blaise. You have me," Ginny added softly. "You have Hermione."
He listened to her talk while she held onto his hand in a way that almost made the trembling stop.
"Ms. Granger," Healer Robbins acknowledged her. "What do you have for me about, Mrs. Malfoy, is it? I'm busy, so sum it up in a sentence."
"I can do it in two words," She straightened and took a deep breath. "Carnthoseian Trophmatoma,"
Her inward cheer was interrupted with a memo hitting the side of her head repeatedly. She groaned and opened it; it began glowing red with 'Room 207' written in the middle.
"She's stable right now," Hermione reassured him as he sat stiffly on the chair with Blaise by his side. He still hadn't said anything; he simply stared at the floor, his jaws clenched. "We have a theory of what the problem is,"
His head snapped up at this. Draco's eyes urged her to go on.
"It's called Carnthoseian Trophmatoma; it's very rare, but with her circumstances, it's possible. It's basically an injury of the mind; whether it's psychological or physical can only be determined from further testing." Hermione explained to him. All the while, he nodded slowly, a stony expression on his face.
"We need to carry out a series of spells and administer a few potions to first verify our theory and then clarify the extent of Trophmatoma that has taken place."
"Are they safe?"
"Perfectly," she answered quickly. "We will also be monitoring her and making sure–"
"How long will it take?" He didn't seem to be listening to her too much.
She hesitated. "It depends; it could be anywhere between two days and a week."
"A week?" said Draco. "She could become worse in a week! Isn't there something you could do to make it faster?" Hermione simply shook her head.
"And after that?" he asked. "You can treat her?"
Hermione hesitated. "We have to do the tests first and determine the–"
"So there's a possibility you can't?"
She hesitated again, choosing her words carefully. "We don't know anything until we do the tests. It's our only option, Draco," she said softly. His eyes closed and Hermione glanced at Blaise, who was watching his friend intently.
Draco sighed and stood. "Do it," was all he said as he walked past her, into room 207, and sat on the chair once again.
Hermione's eyes followed him apprehensively, and didn't even realize when someone came up next to her and spoke. It wasn't until something was shoved, rather roughly, into her hands that she turned to the girl with a scowl on her face.
"Sorry, Marlene, what was that?"
The blonde in front of her huffed impatiently. "Healer Robbins is on level 4 and he wants you to join him on his case."
"But," Hermione opened the chart and began skimming its contents. "I'm not supposed to be on his service for the rest of the day; I thought you we–"
"Well he doesn't want me, does he? He wants 'Granger, the second year'!" She said, doing a horrible imitation of Robbins' deep authoritative voice.
Though she sensed Marlene Hoffski's displeasure from being kicked off the case because of her, Hermione couldn't keep the proud grin from appearing on her face. Marlene glared and stalked off to another group of second years who seem to sympathize with her.
For a moment, Hermione considered apologizing. But what for? For impressing the Head Healer? For staying up all night studying in the St. Antoine library?
Instead, she simply stuck her nose in the air haughtily, and with a triumphant smile, stalked off to the staircase. They were jealous, huh? Well, they sure as hell had reason to be.
"Diasand procedure, huh?" Someone said from behind her. She turned to see Kevin reading over her shoulder. "I'm assuming I would be impressed if I knew what it was."
Hermione smiled proudly at him. "Carnthoseian Trophmatoma," she said a little smugly.
He raised his eyebrows at her. "Also something that would impress me if I comprehended." She rolled her eyes at him and pulled out the book she had searched the library for from under the counter.
"Astonishing Ailments?" He read the title as she passed it to him.
"Read it," she told him. "It's brilliant; helped me with Mrs. Malfoy's case. I'm going to check on her. Read the book," Hermione said as she began walking away.
He smirked. "I make no promises."
Hermione chuckled lightly as she walked into the room. Glancing at the bed, she stopped in her tracks as she saw Narcissa Malfoy staring at the ceiling, a blank expression on her face.
"Mrs. Malfoy; you're awake!" Hermione snapped out of her trance and immediately walked to pour a glass of water. "You should have called someone,"
"Ms. Granger," she acknowledged her with an odd look in her eyes. Hermione held the glass out to her, and Narcissa slowly pushed herself into a sitting position, taking the glass from her. "How long was I unconscious?" she said between sips.
"Five days," Hermione answered quickly. "Draco is downstairs, I think," said Hermione. "Blaise took him down to the cafeteria to eat something. I'll call him straight awa–"
"No," Narcissa shook her head at her. "I know my son; if it has indeed been five days, he desperately needs to eat."
Hermione smiled slightly and nodded. She suddenly felt very awkward, alone in the room with the woman who, even lying on a hospital bed, had her chin tilted upwards slightly in a superior manner. She was the perfect image of an aristocrat.
"He hasn't left your side at all,"
Narcissa smiled fondly. "He's a good person," she said. "He's been going through a hard time this past year."
Hermione looked down uncomfortably, and busied herself with writing in Mrs. Malfoy's charts. Silence passed between them as she began writing a memo to Healer Robbins, updating him.
"You're working here now, I see,"
Hermione looked up to see Narcissa scrutinizing her with the strangest look in her eyes. "J-just three weeks now. He didn't tell y–"
"No, Draco didn't say anything." Narcissa took a long sip from her glass. "It makes sense now, though; he hasn't visited me much since the reunion ball. I could tell something was wrong."
Silence rang in the empty room once again, with only the sound of Hermione's quill scratching away disturbing the stillness.
"What's wrong with me?" Narcissa asked suddenly.
Hermione explained everything she had told Draco and carefully watched the woman's reactions; her expression remained calm and thoughtful the whole time.
"The vomiting," said Narcissa. "The vomiting and the nosebleeds have been happening occasionally for the past year."
"But Draco said–"
"He doesn't know," she said softly. "And neither does Lucius; I didn't want to worry them. It had never been so bad."
For the first time, Hermione wasn't particularly pleased to be correct, because if she was, it would mean Mrs. Malfoy's condition had progressed quite a bit. She could only hope it wasn't too much.
"You would tell me, Ms. Granger, wouldn't you? If there was a possibility that I–"
Though she never completed the thought, Hermione understood what the woman was asking. She hesitated for a few moments, and that was all Narcissa needed; she sighed heavily.
"When you know for sure, would it be too much to ask that you tell me before you tell my son? I would prefer if it was me telling him and Lucius."
She nodded. There was silence once again and Hermione hurried to finish the chart, desperate to leave the room. Just as she was ready to leave, however, Narcissa spoke again.
"He cared for you,"
It didn't take a genius to know who she was referring to. Standing at the foot of the bed, the chart and quill in one hand, Hermione struggled to respond.
"Whether he still does or not, I'm not sure. He hasn't spoken much in a year; mostly he listens to me talk and walks in silence." The woman was looking towards the window, away from Hermione, her eyes distant. "Perhaps that means he still does.
"I won't lie and say I was thrilled when I first heard, but I respected that he was an adult. It was time for him to make his own decisions; besides, everything Lucius and I had done in the past never quite benefitted him."
Was that remorse in her voice? Hermione wasn't sure but given all that Draco had to endure in the past, it made sense for Narcissa to have regrets. But she had saved Harry's life in the final battle; surely that counted for something?
Hermione was about to voice this thought, but Narcissa continued. "I think Draco was making amends; not just with you and the people he tormented, but with what all of us had done. Even though he wasn't doing so consciously, I think, deep down, he felt he had to make it up to himself somehow."
Now, Hermione felt like she was listening in on Narcissa Malfoy's private, innermost thoughts. But she didn't move, almost afraid that a movement would snap the woman out of her reverie who would proceed to shout at her and accuse her of being intrusive.
"I eventually came around. I support whatever it is he does now. He is old enough to distinguish between right and wrong, and the least I could do is be there for him." Narcissa now turned to look at Hermione, disproving her theories of forgetting she was standing there. But Hermione was genuinely puzzled by this point. What was this woman getting at?
"Lucius," Narcissa smirked but her face fell immediately. "Lucius," she whispered. "He must be going mad all alone, not knowing anything– do you think you could do something?" Her tone was slightly pleading and her voice shook. "Maybe a floo call or something; he's probably terribly anxious."
"I'll see what I can do," Hermione said in what she hoped was a reassuring voice.
"Right," Narcissa nodded, blinking fast. "Where was I? Right, Lucius; well, Lucius was, is, and always will be a stubborn man. He never came around to the idea of Draco–"
Hermione was very frustrated at Mrs. Malfoy's inability to coherently voice her thoughts. She suppressed the urge to throttle her and waited patiently.
"I'm not sure if he will ever be happy, but I think he has learned to respect Draco's opinions. Besides, not only is he on house arrest and completely harmless, I'm always there to watch over him." She added with a chuckle.
Hermione frowned for a moment before the realization of what Mrs. Malfoy had been insinuating dawned on her. Narcissa Malfoy was giving Hermione her consent for a non-existent relationship with her son.
The thought was both frightening and amusing. But mostly frightening.
Draco froze at the doorway, wearing an expression of shock. He snapped his mouth shut and immediately turned to Hermione with a look of annoyance.
"Why didn't you call for m–?"
"It was me, dear," Narcissa explained. "I told her not to."
He stood still for a moment, looking torn, then hurried to pull a chair up next to his mother's bed. Blaise went to stand at the foot of the bed as Narcissa asked him how he was. Hermione slowly began backing out of the room, but not before she caught the other woman's eye.
There was something deeper to what she had told her, Hermione could tell. It wasn't just about her and Draco; it was about how Mrs. Malfoy felt towards her. Just as her son had begun making amends for himself, she had as well; and this was her first step. They shared a look for a long time, and though neither one of them smiled or made any acknowledgement to a moment having passed between them, they knew it was a look of understanding.
"Have you told them yet?"
"I thought it would be better if it was a surprise." Hermione smiled excitedly. Harry rolled his eyes at her.
"Well, there's going to be a whole team of aurors surrounding him; I doubt anyone would be able to see him in the hallway." Harry looked down at his slightly dented watch. "They should be here anytime now."
And sure enough, just as Harry looked up, a large group of armed wizards with stern expression came out of the lift.
"Blimey," Hermione whispered. "Is that–?"
"Gawain Robards," Harry finished for her. "The head of the auror office; what's he doing here?"
"How dangerous do they think this is going to be?" Hermione snorted and chuckled with Harry. "Next thing you know, Kingsley will be coming along t–" The words died in her throat as she saw Kingsley Shacklebolt following closely behind, pausing to smile and nod to some of the matrons who greeted him. "Oh, for crying out loud; they're making such a big deal out of this!"
"I told you," said Harry pointedly. "It wasn't easy convincing them either."
Hermione sighed and went into room 207 before the rest of them could
"Mrs. Malfoy?" Narcissa had been staring out the window distractedly. She jumped at the sound of another voice in the room. "Where's Draco?" Hermione asked her.
"He received an urgent floo," Narcissa told her. Glancing out the window, she asked, "Who are all those people? They look like aurors."
Hermione smiled. "I have a surprise." Narcissa frowned in confusion, but Hermione didn't explain further. She walked out of the room, catching the man's eye as she passed by him. He wore a blank expression, neither smiling nor glaring at her, which she took as one step closer to progress. His eyes followed her until aurors blocked his view and all but pushed him into the room; his attention was now completely diverted to the woman on the bed who was beaming with tears in her eyes.
Lucius Malfoy did not look exactly how she had remembered, but nevertheless, he was presentable. His face looked more sallow, and his stubble showed that he clearly hadn't shaved in a while. He still held an air of arrogance about him though, but honestly, she was quite impressed that he hadn't looked at her as though she was worth less than the dirt on his shoe; perhaps less than the coat he wore, but she seemed to have been promoted from the filth beneath his shoe.
Walking back, Hermione stopped in her tracks as she saw Draco, rooted to the ground, his eyes on his mother inside the room. Narcissa was quite literally glowing as Lucius put his hand over hers and she said something with a tender look on her face.
"Y-you did this?" He asked in a shaky voice.
Hermione shrugged. "I thought your mother could use a pick-me-up." Though she tried to seem nonchalant, Hermione was carefully watching Draco's face, analyzing every movement and reaction. He looked at her and opened his mouth, as if he was going to say something, but seemed to decide against it at the last minute. Instead, with his hands in his pockets, he walked back down the hallway from where he had come from.
Hermione sighed; about the best she could hope from him she thought.
"Ms. Granger? Your patient's test results are back." A matron told her from behind.
"Which one?" she asked tiredly, not bothering to turn and get the results. "Is it Mr. Ladner on level 3 who claims his honking daffodil poisoned him? Because I honestly think he's just nutters–"
"It's Mrs. Malfoy's,"
Hermione's head whipped around so fast, her head spun; but she wasted no time in snatching the pieces of parchment out of the bewildered woman's hand and flipping through it frantically.
She was supposed to tell Mrs. Malfoy first, she had promised, but she couldn't bear to disturb the couple; besides, Lucius was only allowed a certain amount of time out before he had to go back in the manor under house arrest. So, while skimming over the results again, she walked in the direction the other Malfoy had retreated, hoping to catch a glimpse of where he was hiding.
But there was no sign of the blonde anywhere. She turned to one of the matrons behind the counter.
"Have you seen Draco Malfoy?"
"Who?" the lady asked, not looking up from her parchment.
Hermione stared disbelievingly. "Honestly, don't you read?" The Malfoys were talked about in almost every issue of the prophet, not to mention Draco was declared Witch Weekly's fourth most handsome man in Wizarding Europe (not that she cared to read that rubbish anyway, but one did hear rumors).
"He's in the potions and supplies room," A woman from behind with a nasal voice replied, pointing to a door behind Hermione. "He's been in there for the better half of the day; seemed upset, so I didn't bother telling him he wasn't allowed in."
"Thanks," Hermione said as she opened the door and peered in. Sure enough, he was sitting on the ground in a far corner, his head bent slightly and his elbows propped on his knees. He didn't seem to have noticed her entrance because he continued to stare into his own lap.
It wasn't until she sat down in front of him that he looked up.
"What do you want?" he asked unkindly.
She sighed. "You know you're not supposed to be in here."
"What's your point?" She didn't answer. "I hope you're not expecting a 'thank you'."
Hermione rolled her eyes. Why on earth would she? It wasn't as if she was the reason the Minister had approved a man on house-arrest to temporarily be let out; of course not, that was just luck.
"Your mother's test results are back."
His head twitched slightly, but remained bent; wasn't exactly the reaction she was hoping for.
"And?" he said after a while.
"See for yourself." She passed the parchments to him which he gingerly took and began reading. After a few lines he looked up and glared icily at her.
"I don't know what any of this jargon means, Granger,"
"Your mother had been displaying symptoms for about a year, which clearly explained why most of her potions detected a trace of Trophmatoma in the brain." She eyed him carefully and he nodded once as if to tell her to go on. "This also meant that it progressed quite a bit."
"And that's bad," he said.
"Yes." She answered. "This means the treatment would have to be even more severe and she'll need to be monitored every minute of the day for at least a week."
He frowned. "Treatment?"
"It's going to difficult not only for the healers, but especially for her–"
"What are you trying to say, Granger?" He asked impatiently.
"Draco, she's going to be okay."
Draco was quiet. He continued looking at the parchment, as if thinking it would miraculously start making sense to him; his jaw was clenched. "She'll be fine?"
"Yes." She told him. He put the parchment down and closed his eyes. His head tilted back and leaned against the wall as he let out a breath as if he'd been holding it for a long time. His expression stayed the same. There wasn't a hint of a smile or even a smirk.
When his eyes finally opened, she saw something that hadn't been there all week; she couldn't define what it was exactly, but his face looked as though it had gained back some of the colour it had lost in the past week.
They sat in silence for a bit; Hermione looked anywhere but directly ahead of her while Draco simply kept his head down.
"I liked it better before," he said suddenly. Her eyes asked the obvious question and he elaborated. "Your hair,"
Her hand jumped to her short wavy hair, cropped above her shoulders; Ginny had been telling her it was much too short and tamed for months now, but she had merely said it was more convenient this way.
"The frizz was irritating, yes, pitifully unruly, not to mention outrageously–"
"Are you done?" She asked drily.
He shrugged indifferently. "But it was fitting."
Hermione felt herself smile slightly. She stretched her aching back and asked, "Hungry?" She already knew the answer though. He hadn't been eating all week; Blaise all but force-fed him for several days. She knew he would gloomily shake his head and continue to sit in the dark supply room for hours.
He looked up and took a deep breath. "Starving."
It was nice to have a night off after what had seemed to be an abnormally long week; she felt emotionally exhausted. Coming out of the steaming shower which had done wonders in unknotting her muscles, Hermione stood in front of her mirror, her hair dripping.
She dried it easily with her wand; it now looked atrocious, being so short it curled around her head unattractively. She reached for the French cream in her drawer which worked a hundred times better than Sleakeasy's Hair Potion; she didn't need to apply such generous amounts. Staying in France had increased her knowledge of grooming spells and potions quite a bit and she had quickly found the solution to her frizz problem.
As she held the cream in her hands, Hermione suddenly felt that her hair may in fact be too short. She put it down on the table and picked up her wand. The spell was simple enough; she pointed it at her head and her curly locks began flowing out, until they reached her upper back.
She smiled contentedly; but the frizz was more potent than ever. She reached for the French cream and without a second thought, tossed it in the rubbish bin.
See you all in a while!