November 12, 2014
Author's Notes: This story was written for SunnyStorms in the DG Forum's 2013 Summer Fic Exchange and won awards for Best Response to the Prompt, Most Creative, and Best Characterization of Draco. :) Beta'd by my friends D and S, and the first four or five chapters were also beta'd be cherryredxx. I'm slightly ashamed it's taken me so long to post this story, since the exchange ended in, what, August/September of 2013? I also didn't do as many revisions as I'd planned to, but I think it's time to finally set this story free into the big, wide world, to spread its wings and fly. Or fall. Or something. Anyway. I hope you enjoy! Reviews appreciated, and the prompt will follow at the end of this chapter.
Also, the artwork in my cover art was drawn by my awesome friend Ha'niqua and colored by my other awesome friend hannah askance!
More Than You Think You Are
I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
I know, right now you can't tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see
A different side of me
—Unwell, Matchbox Twenty
One: Waking Up
The difference between having her eyes open and keeping them closed was the noise that accompanied sight. One moment she was shrouded in a blissful silence, but as soon as Ginny's eyes fluttered open, sound rushed in. She flinched in response to the noise, expecting flashes of light to go along with it, though she didn't understand why.
"She's awake," an unfamiliar voice said.
"What's going on?" Ginny croaked.
Her eyes darted around in confusion, taking in the dark ceiling, glimpses of lime green, flurries of activity. Someone poked her in the ribs. Someone else leaned over her and pointed a wand in her face. She flinched again, her limbs jerking violently to escape from an attack. Whole bodies attached to her arms and legs, holding her down. When Ginny attempted to kick whoever held her, another person joined the fray to keep her pinned.
Her eyes stung with tears, which fell when a man held her eyelids open and pointed a wand back into her face. However, instead of spell fire, only light shone through the tip into her eyes.
Suddenly, Ginny's strength left her, and her tense muscles relaxed. The people around her took advantage of her stillness by forcing her jaws apart to pour a bitter concoction down her throat. She choked, but the potion worked its magic not only effectively, but also efficiently.
No sooner had she swallowed than her world faded to black.
"Is she waking?"
The next time Ginny awoke, she immediately registered the lack of noise. She closed her eyes again, just in case someone noticed her and alerted others, but there was no indication that anyone else was with her. Carefully, she opened her eyes and sat up, taking in her surroundings.
"We're in St. Mungo's," a voice to her right said.
In the bed next to her, Draco Malfoy sat with a tray of unappetizing hospital food in his lap. Ginny looked around and saw that they were in a large wood-paneled room with five hospital beds on each side, all of which, besides theirs, were empty. There were two doors: one at the top of the room, which must have led out into the corridor, and another set into the middle of the opposing wall. A lavatory maybe?
"Wha—" She coughed to clear her throat. "What are you doing here?"
Malfoy looked at the unidentifiable piece of meat on his fork and then placed it back on the tray in disgust. "It's rude to pry," he said as he moved the tray to his bedside table.
Frowning, Ginny tried to remember what had happened to put her in the hospital, but her mind was frustratingly blank. She couldn't remember anything before her eyes opened except for indistinguishable sounds and then crushing silence.
She rearranged her pillows and leaned back, tired from the effort of keeping her body elevated with her arms alone. "How long have I been here?" she asked Malfoy.
He shrugged, and she found the gesture strangely unlike him—at least what she thought he should be like. It was too inelegant. "I'm not sure. You were here when I woke up two days ago. I don't even know how long I've been here."
There was a grim set to his mouth that Ginny felt herself copying. This was all so strange. Except for a bit of exhaustion from sitting up, she felt fine.
A Healer in lime green robes entered from the door at the end of the ward. Ginny and Malfoy occupied the two beds closest to the windows at the opposite end of the room. As the Healer neared, Ginny threw the blankets back and swung her legs over the edge of the bed.
"Oh no, dear. You can't get out of bed yet!" the Healer cried, rushing forward to shove Ginny back down.
"But I'm fine! I feel fine!"
"No, no, dear. You're ill." Ginny's pillows were fluffed, and she was pushed once more onto her back. She couldn't deny the weakness she felt deep in her bones, pulling her down onto the hard mattress, yet still she struggled.
"What's wrong with me?"
"Not now, dear. That's a conversation for another time."
Ginny pushed herself up, fury filling her voice. "What time? Tell me now! I have a right to know what I'm being seen for!"
"Oh dear," the Healer said, stepping away from the bed as another Healer entered the room with a vial in hand.
"No! I don't want to sleep," Ginny screamed. But against her wishes, another foul potion was poured into her reluctant mouth. Just as her strength left her and her eyes fluttered closed again, she saw Malfoy's face drawn into an expression of sympathy as he watched her, and then, for the second time that day, she slept.
The next time Ginny's eyes opened, darkness greeted her. It must have been late because, except for a soft sound, the silence in the room was absolute. Moonlight shone into the ward, blanketing Malfoy in his bed and washing out what little color was left in his face. The sound, Ginny realized, was Malfoy snoring lightly. Under his moonlight blanket, he was swaddled in thin hospital sheets; what she could see of his body rose and fell with each snuffling breath.
There was something kind of adorable about the sight, but Ginny also felt a stab of envy that he could look so serene and secure. She was off-footed and frightened about what was happening, and she only wished she could put her worries aside to sleep—willingly!—peacefully.
Ginny sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. That small movement took her breath, and her arms shook from the effort of just keeping herself up. Frustrated tears prickled at the corners of her eyes, but she grit her teeth and forced her limbs still. She wouldn't be able to stand, but she'd be damned if she stayed helpless in bed.
"Hey," she called in a whisper, though it came out a raspy, garbled syllable. She cleared her throat. "Pssst. Malfoy."
"Hngh," he replied, burrowing himself deeper under his sheets. All she could see of him now were his forehead and nose.
"Malfoy," she said at a normal volume.
He rolled away from her with a cat-like mrugh sound.
With an exasperated sigh and some muttered curses, Ginny steeled herself and gathered her strength. With a momentous push with her arms, she got herself standing on aching legs. Yes! She was doing it!
Oh... wait, no she wasn't. Before she could even take a step, she lost her balance and fell forward, her knees hitting the stone floor with a jolt straight up her thighs even as her elbows caught her torso on the edge of Malfoy's bed. The cracking sound of Ginny's knees was nearly as painful as the impact itself, but it was Ginny's weight on the bed that caused Malfoy to roll back over and wake up.
He blinked a couple times, trying to uncross his eyes—as he and Ginny were nearly nose to nose—and in a rough, sleep-laden voice said, "If you wanted in my bed, all you had to do was ask."
Ginny would have slapped him, but her grip on the bed sheets was the only thing keeping her from sliding to the floor.
"Sod off, Malfoy," she said through her clenched jaws.
Shaking himself awake, he seemed to notice the trembling of her muscles and the awkward position in which she held herself. Her face burned as their eyes met, hers fiery with defiance, his impassive and bland. Without a word, he rolled out of the opposite side of his bed and before she knew it, he stood beside her.
"May I?" he asked, his arms held out before him.
She nodded because his features were expressionless except for a crease in his brow that gave him some severity. Nevertheless, she was humiliated as he slid his arms under her knees and around her back, lifting her easily from the floor. Suddenly, she was aware that she was clothed in a simple hospital gown and knickers, and the blush in her face extended to her ears and neck.
Malfoy gently placed her on her own bed, and then quickly crawled into his. Defeated and betrayed by her own body, Ginny shoved her legs under the sheets and then fell back onto her pillow.
"Well, that was an adventure."
"A thank you would be the polite response right now," Malfoy said.
"You know what?" she began, but one look at Malfoy had her mouth clamping shut. His arms shook, though he tried to hide it. One arm was thrown over his head, covering his eyes, and his fingers jerked until he tightened them into a fist. Apparently he wasn't as strong as she'd thought, and he'd used up the little strength he'd had left to help her.
"What?" he asked.
"Thank you," she mumbled, not ungratefully.
"Sure. Be more careful next time."
There was silence for a few moments, and then Malfoy lowered his arm to his side and glanced back at her. "What were you doing anyway?"
"Trying to wake you up."
"Why would you do that? It's arse o'clock in the morning."
She had to swallow her inappropriate laughter before she could speak again. "How am I supposed to know what time it is? I just woke up from a potion-induced sleep. I want to know what's going on here, Malfoy! What am I doing here? What happened? What's wrong with me?"
Malfoy made an aggravated gesture with his hands, and the glare he gave her was paralyzing. "Look, you're not the only one asking those questions, okay? I have no idea, and the Healers won't tell me anything. They put me to sleep every time I ask, so I've stopped asking."
"And you're content with that?" she asked in disbelief. Her voice came out louder than intended. Both of them froze, waiting for a Healer to rush in with beastly potions in hand.
In a softer voice, he replied, "Of course not. I'll just wait until my parents come and sort everything out."
Ginny nearly snorted, remembering his "Wait until my father hears about this!" days at Hogwarts, but she was lost in the thought of her own parents' eventual appearance. There was a crease in Malfoy's brow, but Ginny ignored whatever emotion he was feeling and said, "That's a good idea. Mum and Dad will fix everything."
She couldn't sleep for the rest of the night, so she watched as the moonlight cut across the room hour by hour. Under the sickly light, Malfoy looked severely ill, with pasty, nearly translucent skin and dark shadows under his eyes. She wondered if the pox that plagued him was contagious. Maybe she should ask the Healers to move her to another room.
Then the moonlight shifted into sunlight, and Malfoy looked as he ever did, though less haunted and serious than she remembered him being during his final years at Hogwarts. The candids she had seen of him in newspapers and magazines in the years since he'd left school had always captured him with an arrogant or disdainful expression. She'd always thought him a smarmy git, but his illness stripped him of that smarmy attitude now. He looked weak and powerless. Perhaps those photographs in the Prophet had only hidden his true nature.
Dawn finally cracked the sky wide open, shedding light on a cold horizon, but as Healers trotted in with breakfast, Ginny couldn't sweep the cold from her bones.
Her parents didn't visit that day. Neither did Malfoy's. One day turned into two. Two turned into a week, and as every day passed without visitors or answers, the expression on Malfoy's face darkened, and the coldness in Ginny's heart spread. They became the perfect patients: silent—if sullen—and obedient. They ate their meals, took their potions, and suffered through their daily hour of exercise without resistance. Ginny couldn't fathom what Draco was thinking, and she didn't care for most of that first week after she'd woken up.
On the tenth day, during their exercise, which consisted of a walk about the ward, Ginny finally broke the silence.
She shuffled to his side, her head down to keep the attending Healer from seeing her lips move.
"No one's coming for us, are they?"
She could hear the steel trap in that one word, as if his jaws had locked closed and only great force would release them.
"Maybe no one knows we're here. Have you heard any of the Healers call us by name? Maybe they don't know who we are," Ginny suggested hopefully.
Her hope withered under his revolted glare, and his eyes, which she could have sworn had been pale gray in the moonlight last week, turned dark like the clouds that signaled a bad storm.
"Maybe I'm egotistical—and I know I am—but we are two high profile people. It wasn't too long ago that I was on trial for war crimes, and I'm almost positive you've been hounded by the media for the last month because of your breakup with Potter. But, you know, maybe you're right. I'm sure they don't recognize us."
Ginny's ears burned partly in embarrassment—because Malfoy was right, damn him—but mostly in anger. Her eyes narrowed, her fists clenched, and suddenly she forgot she was supposed to be going on a leisurely, strength-boosting walk.
"You don't have to be so nasty. As horrifying as the reality is, we're stuck here. Together. You're the last person I want to be hospitalized with, but we can't change that now."
A Healer rushed up to them looking stern. "Is there a problem here?"
"No, Healer Chiswick. Everything's fine." Ginny looked away from Draco's thunderous eyes and stormed off to continue her walk alone.
Later that night, Ginny lay awake staring at the wood-paneled ceiling waiting for the soft snores that signified Draco's drift into sleep. Her mind was a buzz of activity, and, as a result, the rest of her body was restless. She shifted her legs, stretched her arms, turned her head, but no position felt comfortable; the more she struggled to sleep, the angrier she became. For the first time since she arrived, she wished she had a Dreamless Sleep potion to aid her.
She had to admit that she and Malfoy were treated well here, even though she didn't know why they were here or what the potions they were treated with were for. She tried to be as impassive and emotionless as Malfoy because she didn't want anyone to know how frightened she was. The fact that neither her family nor her friends had been to visit affected her more than not knowing what was going on. That no one had come meant that something was gravely wrong, and that was the most frightening thing about waking up in St. Mungo's and not knowing why.
Heart racing, Ginny searched the darkness of the room for the voice that had just spoken, but the room was empty save for Malfoy and herself. She stayed still, waiting for the voice to speak again, but all she could hear was her pulse beating a tattoo against her throat, and even that began to fade as she calmed down.
Finally, the silence was replaced with snoring, and Ginny threw the bedsheets off her body. The daily walks had done her body a world of good; now when she stood up, her legs held her. With one more glance at Malfoy, who continued to sleep soundly, she made her way to the door, listening for footsteps from the other side. All was silent, so she opened the door and—another first—stepped into the corridor.
To her direct right, double doors led to the stairs and receptionist area for this floor, and to the left, the corridor continued, the walls on each side lined with more doors. Even though she couldn't hear anything, Ginny knew there would be an attending Healer guarding the lobby beyond the double doors, and, hopefully, if Ginny remained quiet, the Healer would stay where he or she was.
Ginny just needed a few minutes, just long enough to search for answers.
She turned around to examine the door of her ward, and there, in a sign posted to the right of the door frame, was all the horrifying information she needed:
Janus Thickey Ward 49
Healer-in-Charge: Meriadoc Goldberry
Underneath that hung patient charts for Agnes Bergil, Gilderoy Lockhart, Alice and Frank Longbottom, Draco Malfoy, and Ginny Weasley.
Ginny took a step back, her eyes darting from the name of the ward to the name of the patients in disbelief. She tried to convince herself that the dim lighting prevented her from reading the sign and charts correctly, but that would have been foolish. The glowing orbs hanging in the air above her might have been dimmed due to the late hour, but the light they shed was sufficient.
She lifted a hand to touch the sign, just to make sure it was real, but before her fingers could meet the metal plaque, a voice rang out.
"Hey! What are you doing out of bed?"
Ginny startled as a male Healer ran up to her and got a good look at her face.
"You're not supposed to be out of your ward!" He placed one large hand around Ginny's upper arm and pushed her back into the room.
Too disoriented to even think about fighting back or asking questions, she complied when he pulled her sheets back and instructed her to get in the bed. All the way out the ward, he muttered to himself about irresponsible trainees endangering lives by leaving doors unlocked, and then Ginny heard the unmistakable click of a door locking.
Ginny waited a moment longer and then sat up again, staring as hard as she could through the darkness into the room. It looked just as she remembered it the last time she'd been here— Christmas of her fourth year at Hogwarts—except more sterile. A couple days previously, the armchairs, like the one from which Gilderoy Lockhart had signed autographs for Ginny, Ron, Harry, and Hermione, had been moved to create a sitting area by the window, but all the personal effects of the patients had disappeared.
Actually... so had the patients. The beds she and Draco currently occupied were the ones that the Longbottoms had used ten years ago, and even though there had been patient charts for four other people hanging outside the door, Ginny had not seen any of them. She and Draco were the only patients on the closed ward.
Where had the others gone?
Sunny's Prompt #1:
Basic premise: Ginny Weasley never expected to find Draco Malfoy as a fellow patient of the Janus Thickey Ward.
Must haves: Post-Hogwarts. A kiss. It isn't obvious at first to Draco and Ginny what the other is hospitalized for, and it takes some time before they learn or figure it out. In the course of the story, one of them ends up being cleared for release while the fate of the other is unknown.
No-no's: Entirely fluff or comedy.
Rating range: Any.
Bonus points: (1) If they sneak out of St. Mungo's and spend a day together before getting caught and taken back. (2) Alternating Draco and Ginny POV. (3) If one of them or both end up being significant for the other's healing progress.