The Three-Part Quest
Part 3: The trekkers reach their goal
This was ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. Everyone had gone mad, his mother most of all, because of that infernal creature! Hermione Jean Granger had one thing coming for her if she thought he would sit back and let her libelous rumors spread around the entire magical community.
Wait, why did he even know her middle name?
Not good not good - oh!
His bark resounded ominously in the hospital.
The attendants and other Healers paused to look curiously as Draco marched over to where Hermione was standing in the hallway, reviewing some files. She gently put down the folder in her hand and gazed cautiously at his pale face, which was red with fury.
Her eyes were large and innocent.
He gazed down at her lush form, suddenly devoid of thought.
"Is everything all right?" she asked hesitantly.
"Uh ... yes. No!" he cried out.
Hermione was examining him in confusion, her brown eyes big and wide.
Draco cleared his throat and looked away, disconcerted. Moments ago, he had been too preoccupied with anger and confusion to fully deal with Granger, but now that he had calmed down, he was blatantly aware of her proximity and new found amiability.
There it was again!
That damned smile ... not good not good.
"Anything I can help with?" she asked, with that unmentionable expression on her face growing to epic proportions.
"Yes. I wanted to say," he stated firmly, regaining his previous momentum. His fist was shaking at her. Good. You've got it going Draco Malfoy - state your business and show Granger who's the boss around here.
"I am the boss."
Hermione's pleasant expression had faded into wariness. She was looking at Draco stonily, and a little annoyed. But this only pleased him more.
"You heard me," he said smugly, his chin raising higher and his arms crossing with innate superiority. "I am the boss. Not you, not my mother, and certainly not those idiotic self-help books you keep mailing me. I know that I am not suicidal -"
"-and if you ever, in this lifetime, bring up insinuate such a thing again, I will sue you for medical malpractice!"
She gasped, eyes rounding in shock.
Her small hand clutched her heart.
If he had brandished a sharp knife and plunged it into her breast right then, he suspected her expression would be no less shocked or betrayed. He watched as her eyes darted around to see if anyone else had heard the threat.
"H-how dare you!"
She withdrew her wand and pointed it at his throat.
His hand immediately shot into his robes to fetch his own wand, and upon patting his empty robes desperately, he belatedly realizing it wasn't there.
He had ticked her off without any means of defense.
"After all that I tried to do for you!" she screeched. "All the research material I collected on the topic! I did so much for you even though you weren't a paying patient or a close friend ... and this is what I get in return? I don't know why I ever expect you to change ..."
"Okay, okay, I apologi-"
But she wasn't paying him any attention, her hands on her hips and her small bow-shaped lips moving furiously as she continued to lecture him.
"Suicide and depression are serious matters and I truly believe I've been helping you accept this fact instead of allowing you to meander around in your ignorance ... the statistics show that matters such as this should not be -"
She was advancing like some unhinged beast.
"And furthermore, you cannot use your clout as a Malfoy and your wealth to threaten me into cowering like some -"
With her finger jabbing into his chest, and he finally snapped.
He grabbed her hand and stilled it within his grasp, inadvertently drawing her closer.
For a long minute they gazed at one another, each forgetting what they had so fervently been arguing about just seconds before. His eyes followed hers as they dropped to her hand, which was now flattened against his chest.
Thump, thump, thump.
Her hand was on him.
Was that his heartbeat? It sounded odd.
Mudblood germs. Mudblood germs. Warm. Mudblood g- warm, mudbloo- warm warm warm ...
"Just open up and tell me how you feel, Draco," Hermione insisted.
"Warm," he blurted out.
Both of them froze.
They stared at each other speechlessly.
The hallway quickly returned to its normal state, with people running about from room-to-room. They had already forgotten the preceding fight, ready to continue working.
One particular attendant, Melinda Weatherby, was bustling away to fetch some items from the supplies closet, when she noticed something strange.
The door to the supply-closet was shaking.
She froze, extracting her wand slowly, and wondered what creature had gotten into the tiny room. Hopefully it wasn't wreaking any havoc. St. Mungo's was already running behind on supplies for the month.
Taking a deep breath, she came closer to the closet.
There was a deep rumble coming from inside, which she suddenly identified as that of a man's voice. In fact, she thought, as she pressed her ear against the door, it sounded rather like a groan.
The shaking continued in full-force, the poor door now straining against its hinges due to a strange rhythmic banging.
But then it stopped abruptly, leaving a heavy silence.
She paused to listen.
There was a soft drawn-out moan.
"Oh ... Draco."
Blushing, the attendant rushed away.
It was with careful caution, and just the slightest bit of trepidation, that Harry Potter stepped into his best friend's office. The entire place looked as if it had imploded. There were stacks of papers piling up and cups of coffee discarded, leaving an unholy level of uncleanliness.
Something was seriously wrong.
He was almost about to send a patronus, asking for Auror back-up when he finally spotted her by the window, pacing up and down, muttering to herself.
" - so stupid, most abysmally idiotic and dangerous act -"
" - how could, I don't know, Merlin help me -"
She jumped when he clamped his hands down on her shoulders. Her face colored in realization.
"Harry! Oh ... sorry, I was just ... um ..." She waved a hand nonsensically at the utter disarray of the room around them. Harry quirked an eyebrow. Her cheeks were bright red, and she was studiously avoiding his gaze.
"What's wrong?" he cut her off.
"Wrong?" she laughed, a little hysterically. "What could possibly be wrong, except for the fact that I could be fired ... medical malpractice, sleeping wi - Oh Merlin."
Harry gently brushed her curls out of her face and fixed his green eyes upon her.
"Medical malpractice," he said slowly. "Why in the world would anyone sue you for that; you're brilliant."
To his complete horror, she covered her head with her hands and wailed lowly.
"Harry ... I'm in big, big trouble!" she cried.
"Calm down," he assured her lightly, trying not to panic her even more. "I'm sure it's couldn't really be that big of a problem. What is it, by the way - you've been having trouble with Narcissa Malfoy's recovery?"
With a low groan, she admitted, "Yes."
"Well, it can't be that ba-"
"I SLEPT WITH HER SON!" she blurted out suddenly.
"Her son -? HER SON!"
At long last the day was here.
After a two week grueling recovery period, she was finally healed.
It was the day for her to leave St. Mungo's but Narcissa was not at all happy about this, not when her son was pouting to himself in the corner of the room. Her plan was not going well and it didn't take a genius to understand why. Lately, Hermione only entered the room whenever Draco left, and exited when he arrived.
They were clearly avoiding each other. Or at least she was avoiding her son.
Lucius was supremely unconcerned, of course. He was tapping his fingers on his cane impatiently, unaware of his son's state. Honestly, was she the only one with an ounce of emotional awareness in this family?
Turning to her son, she addressed him without preamble.
"Have you spoken to Healer Granger lately?" she demanded.
Draco shook his head, lips pursed petulantly. His jaw was tense and would have seemed unaffected by the topic to anyone other than his own mother.
"You like her a lot, don't you?" Narcissa asked quietly.
"Excuse me?" Lucius growled.
At the sound of his father's indignation, Draco sat up straight and his eyes were wide with panic as he realized to what he had admitted. He looked between his parents, one smiling knowingly and the other glaring threateningly, fearfully.
"Wha-no! Me liking Granger? That's mad. Mad ..."
Mumbling some excuse to his parents, he stalked out of the doorway. He was running a hand through his light hair as he fled the room.
Narcissa sighed. "We are all mad in love."
"Don't I know it," Lucius muttered.
"What was that?" Her eyes narrowed at him.
It was days later that Hermione's ears still rung with the lecture Harry had given her.
For nearly an hour when he had visited he had yelled at her. She was usually the one to scold him and Ron, and it still made her wince to remember his tone of voice. He was right. What was she thinking? Malfoy?
So she had resolved to forget the entire incident and had been studiously avoiding the blond ferret for the past few days, instead concentrating on healing her patient as soon as possible and never having to see his pale beaut - ugly face again.
This resolve was made more difficult by Narcissa having to return to St. Mungo's for further follow-ups.
"Everything all right, Hermione?"
"Oh, yes." She carefully applied a salve to Mrs. Malfoy's skin. "These residual scars will be gone in no time; they're already fading as we speak."
"I wasn't referring to myself. Is everything all right with you?" Narcissa asked pointedly.
She knows, she knows, she knows.
"I - "
"You must not be getting enough sleep, hm?" She smiled disarmingly.
"Oh, right. Yes. That's it."
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief.
"Even Draco doesn't seem to be getting a lot of sleep these days," Narcissa remarked innocently.
"R-really," her voice cracked.
"Yes," the older woman shook her head in disappointment. "I just don't understand it. He seemed to be recovering and gaining his spirit again, and then suddenly this week, he's back to sulking. What if he truly turns to suicide!"
Hermione dropped her wand, shocked.
"I know he doesn't say it, but he's lonely. I feel it," she bemoaned.
There was a long, lingering silence.
"Hermione?" she queried, when the young Healer did nothing more than stare out of the door in horror.
"I'll be right back. Um, Healer Wadsworth will take care of the rest."
With that she rushed out the door, feeling infinitely terrible for abandoning her patient like this, but experiencing an even greater dread at the thought of Draco's state. How could she have ignored him so persistently, knowing his condition!
She missed Narcissa's triumphant smirk on her way out.
Draco was flipping through a magazine in the waiting room, when he saw two familiar petite legs stop in front of him again. He stilled.
"D-Draco?" she sounded nervous.
He looked up at her with solemn grey eyes.
"How are you? Are you - your mother said you weren't feeling well again." She wrung her hands together, and he frowned in confusion. His mother ... oh! That manipulative woman. He shut his eyes, wondering what other information she had let slip to Hermione.
Her name was Granger.
He was about to deny every word and push her away defiantly, when suddenly a cunning gleam came into his eyes. What self-serving Malfoy would resist an opportune moment when it was so readily being offered ...
Especially when he himself had been considering it several times over the past week.
Draco bent his head and shrugged sadly, "It's true. I've been unwell."
"I'm so sorry," she whispered, close to tears.
She deserved to be punished with medical malpractice. Pushing a suicidal person to the edge was just utter cruelty.
"What can I do to help?" she pleaded.
Draco hid a smirk.
Lucius awoke that afternoon in his bedroom, having inadvertently fallen asleep after the exhausting trip back and forth to St. Mungo's. The final check-up was complete and his wife was declared to be in perfect health again. Drowsily wiping a bit at the drool on his lip, with utmost dignity, he stretched his arms.
It was then that he realized he had been clutching his snake cane in his sleep.
Coloring quickly, he slowly released the cane, hoping that his wife hadn't noticed.
Narcissa smirked knowingly.
He cleared his throat, and was about to speak when a strange noise interrupted him. Cocking his head to one side, he realized that he could hear muffled sounds and groans somewhere on the floor, close to their son's quarters.
"Is Draco home?"
"Mmhmm," she smiled.
Lucius lost track of his previous question when Narcissa held up the tiny sweaters she had been knitting. She neatly folded the multicolored pile of clothes in front of her, beaming proudly at her handiwork.
"Brown haired, grey eyed grandchildren would look so pretty, wouldn't they?" Narcissa asked dreamily.
It was almost a month later, when Draco and Hermione found themselves in Healer Thomas' office. They were each sitting awkwardly, clearing their throats and admiring the charts and pictures hanging on the walls.
Once in a while they would catch each others' eyes and look away instantly.
Finally, the door opened and the Healer joined the couple with the results. With bated breath, they urged Thomas to read out the prognosis.
"Congratulations, Healer Granger, you are pregnant!"
Thomas beamed at them.
They stared at him.
"What?" Draco muttered, his eyes unfocused.
"Pregnant," Hermione repeated, equally stunned by the news.
Healer Thomas closed the file and inspected the couple closely. "I'm sorry ... is something wrong?" he asked.
"But we just ..."
"Only a month."
They were muttering to each, slightly dazed.
"I'm sorry," the Healer frowned. "I assumed you were expecting this news -"
Draco and Hermione glanced at each other, puzzled.
"Why would you think that?" she queried at last.
"Oh, I don't know," the Healer tapped his chin. "The fact that you have a month's worth of fertility potions in your blood?"
AN: The end! Review :)