Hermione closed her eyes and willed herself to relax.
A group of five medizards from back home were standing around her bed casting diagnostic spells. Beyond them, towards the back of the room, she could make out Harry, Ron, Ernie, Neville and an assorted group of healers standing around, talking in muted whispers.
She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and tried to remain still.
"Ms. Granger if you could please perform the following spells" the deep male voice made Hermione open her eyes.
Healer Patrick Jones was looking at her from the top of his half lens spectacles. He was the current head of the Janus Thickey Ward for long-term patients and had extensive knowledge and experience dealing with wizards who had accrued injuries and permanent impairment due to dark magic. Harry had requested his presence specifically to work with Hermione and also to give his opinions during the meeting to be held tomorrow.
Hermione performed the relatively simple spells that healer Jones read off the list on his file, ending up by summoning a water decanter from across the hall.
"Well. I think we can safely say that you have not sustained any lasting physical damage or any apparent permanent damage to your magic Ms. Granger. If reports are to be believed, I feel that although this may not be your full ability, you will, in time, regain complete mastery of magic as you had before" Healer Jones said smiling kindly at Hermione, after exchanging looks with the others gathered around her bed.
"I would not worry over much although I must request that you rest as much as possible" he continued. My medical recommendation however, is that you be taken off this case until you have fully regained the full range of your magic".
Hermione sat straight up in bed.
"Healer Jones … Please… You can't be serious… I've been working on this case for over a year" Hermione stuttered.
Behind the healer, she could see that Harry and the others had also straightened up and were listening intently.
"That may be so Ms. Granger, but I do not think it would be wise for you to be on the field on potentially hazardous missions in your state. Especially since we do not yet know how your magic would react in an emergency situation. What if you are attacked, and you cannot defend yourself?" he asked, still peering at her kindly.
Hermione was speechless.
"Of course, I do not mean that you should sit at home like an invalid. I am merely recommending that you stay off the field. You can and should, by all means, continue assisting in this case as much as you can. I'm sure the team need your expertise" healer Jones continued.
With a reassuring pat on her arm, Jones and his team then left; Jones pausing to speak a few words to Harry on his way out.
"Hey" Ron made his way over to her bed, Neville waving at her before trailing behind the healers "it's great news that you're alright 'mione."
Hermione merely huffed and crossed her arms over her chest.
She knew her magic and she trusted it. She knew it would never fail her, but here she was, kicked off her own case.
"Look, you will still be here, you just won't go on missions or raids. You can plot, and plan and we need you, we'll never be able to solve this without you" Ron went on placatingly, perching on the edge of the bed.
"He's right. We need you safe. Otherwise we're all just floundering in the dark" Harry came up behind Ron and leaned on the wall next to Hermione's bed.
"But I can do magic Harry. I know what happened to me, but I also know what's happening inside my own body. It's getting stronger Harry I can feel it. I might not be able to duel just yet, but I will be soon" Hermione hated the plaintive tone of her voice, but she desperately needed to get her message across to Harry. If anyone could challenge the healers report, it would be him.
She had spent her entire adult life perfecting and strengthening her magic damnit, and she was damn well not going to step aside now.
"Alright" Harry nodded slowly "Let's allow a few days and then I'll talk the healers into giving you another shot. I can get Robbards and a few others to come and give you the ministry test afterwards. They're as desperate to have you back on the field as you are".
"Thank you!" Hermione smiled brightly and fell back onto her pillows with a contented sigh "I can get out of bed, now right?" she asked.
Harry shrugged "suppose so".
"Great. But first, I need some answers" Hermione settled down more comfortably on the bed and patted a spot on the bed for Harry to sit.
Harry sighed heavily before sitting down reluctantly.
"First, why did we move? And don't give me some rubbish about changing locations for safety" she said, counting off the first point on her finger.
Hermione did not miss the look Harry and Ron exchanged before Harry ducked his head and rubbed the back of his neck.
"Cassandra house belonged to Fredrick Greengrass. He asked us to leave" he said, finally looking up at her.
"Why?" she asked.
Another pregnant pause.
"He had a disagreement with Malfoy" it was Ron who answered.
"What disagreement?" she asked, eyes narrowed curiously.
This time the silence stretched out longer than Hermione had the patience for.
"Guys?" she prompted.
"Look, this is all Malfoy's private business and I think it's his story to tell, not ours" Harry said silently looking down at his hands.
"Did he tell you not to tell anyone?" she asked incredulously.
"It was implied" Ron answered, shifting uncomfortably.
"Where did he go?" she asked after a minute.
Harry looked up at her curiously at that.
"I saw him apparating in a few hours ago. And I heard some of the healers mention that he was not in Greece" she explained.
"He had to go home" Harry said.
"To sort out the disagreement?" she asked.
"Yes" he replied simply.
Hermione considered this for a minute.
"What happened to his leg?" she asked.
"That I can tell you" Harry straightened up with a smile "He was hit with a modified paralytic curse during the raid. He claims he forgot to get it looked at and hobbled around on a numb leg for a day before they diagnosed him and treated it" Harry finished with a chuckle.
"Will it be alright?" Hermione asked, worried but also fascinated.
"The healer who treated him said it would probably take time and that he will probably regain the feeling in his leg eventually" Ron answered.
"Probably?" she asked.
Ron shrugged and looked across at Harry.
"They're not sure. It's a modified curse so no one really knows" he said "I thought you had questions about the case" he said annoyedly.
"I do. But I'm assuming all of that is in the brief which I am sure you will give me before the meeting" Hermione replied primly.
"Right. Yes. I'll have your file sent to your room" Harry muttered, rolling his neck in exhaustion.
"Right" Hermione swung her legs off the bed and got to her feet "Which is my room?" she asked brightly.
"Upstairs, down the hall, fourth room on your right" Ron said with his eyes scrunched in concentration as if he was reciting the directions from memory.
"Okay, I will see you both tomorrow then. I need to study the brief and do some research. Does this Manor have a library?" she asked.
Harry and Ron looked at each other blankly.
"Never mind. I'll find it myself" she said moving towards the door.
Muttering the directions to her room to herself, Hermione climbed the stairs and was met with two hallways instead of one. Shaking her head at Ron's lack of clarity in giving directions, Hermione headed down one hall and counted up to the fourth room. Just to be safe, she knocked on the door and waited.
"Come in" a male voice spoke.
"Damn you Ronald Weasley" Hermione muttered, debating about whether to open the door and apologise or make a run for it.
Just as she had come to the decision to speed walk in the opposite direction, the door swung open to reveal a recently-out-of-the-shower Draco Malfoy.
He was barefoot, clad in just pants and a half-buttoned shirt, wet hair still leaking water onto his forehead.
"Granger" Malfoy drawled "Cleared by the healers? Can I help you with anything?"
He seemed more curious than anything as to why she was standing there with her mouth gaping open, wringing her hands in confusion.
"Malfoy! So sorry. I think Ron gave the wrong directions to my room. I thought this was my room" she rambled.
Malfoy stared at her for a moment in silence.
"I'll just go back and ask him again" Hermione turned to leave.
Suddenly a cold hand shot out and grabbed her wrist.
"What did the healers say?" he asked.
"I'm fine. My magic is coming back. But they want me off the case. Or at least, off the field" she replied quietly, eyes on the pale white hand on her wrist.
"You can still work on the case" he said matter-of-factly.
"Well, yes but I… I want to be on the field as well" she said, feeling a slight twitch of anger. Why must everyone try to keep her 'safe' and off the field. She was as good an auror as any of them, matching even Harry in combat. They had no right to doubt her.
"Naturally. You're very adept at what you do" Malfoy shrugged, finally letting go of her hand "I'm sure you'll be on the field soon enough" a small smirk emerged on his face.
A drop of water fell onto his cheek from a lock of hair.
"Why did you go home?" she asked suddenly, her desire to know overpowering her common sense.
The smirk disappeared from his face.
"I'm afraid that's personal Granger" he said quietly.
Hermione opened her mouth to argue but stopped at the forbidding look on his face. She looked down at her hands instead and nodded.
"Fine" she turned to leave.
Malfoy sighed from behind her as she moved away.
Hermione stopped but didn't turn around.
"There's a small library on the ground floor, next to the main drawing room. If you're planning on doing research, that would be the place to go" he said.
Hermione nodded briefly turning her head.
"I have some research to do myself… after dinner" he said just as she began to move away again.
This time she turned around, a smirk of her own lifting the side of her mouth.
But he had already gone back into his room and closed the door by the time she had turned.