Feedback: Yes, thank you.
Spoilers: Alternate universe to book 7.
Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and . If you're interested, please let me know.
Summary: Hermione was taken from Hogwarts in her seventh year and received worse than a death sentence.
Author's Note: Written in response to round 3 challenge 8 at dramione_ldws: St. Mungo's and insanity.
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by J. K. Rowling, a wonderful author whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.
The closed ward was never quiet, but the disjointed noises became a different sort of silence, one characterized by lack of meaning rather than lack of sound. It was disorienting, as though if a well person stayed long enough, the sanity would be leached from them like a vibrant riverbed turned to baked mud in a cruel drought.
Draco knew that was what had happened to her. What a perfect plan it had been, to rob the most dangerous rebels of their strongest weapon: Hermione's intellect. The Carrows, on Voldemort's orders, had pried Hermione from Potions in seventh year and sent her here, claiming any Mudblood who believed herself to be a witch must be deranged, that this was the kindest thing they could do.
Kind. There was no kindness in any Death Eater, and none in their leader. If they had known she was guilty of loving a pure-blood, they both would have been killed, but that might really have been kinder. Potter had eventually destroyed the Dark Lord, but not before countless lives had been taken. She was one.
Draco hated St. Mungo's, the smell of decay that hit him the moment the doors opened, but still he came, hoping each time that there would be the smallest improvement. He steeled himself outside the fourth floor door, then opened it.
Hermione sat on the edge of her bed, ignoring the tumult around her, looking out the window at London below.
"Hello," he said, sitting in a chair opposite her, wondering if she would notice him.
She didn't move, not even her eyes, but she did say, "It's raining."
Draco looked out the window at the clear autumn sunlight, but he didn't correct her.
"Feeling any better?" he asked, replacing a faded yellow rose in the vase on her bedside table with a fresh one.
She said nothing, but eventually she turned towards him, her eyes vacant as empty fishbowls.
"You're covered in it, you know," she said, "the blood. It doesn't ever really wash off, does it?"
She looked at her own hands and began rubbing them roughly, nearly hurting herself, until Draco took them gently in his to make her stop.
"There isn't any on yours, Hermione," he said. "You didn't do anything wrong. Nothing except love me, I suppose."
"Love thy enemy," she said, and she lifted her palm to his face, touching his cheek.
For a moment he thought he saw a glimpse of her, the real her, behind her eyes. He put his hand on top of hers, entwining their fingers, and the ruin of who she had once been was too much for him. A tear ran down his cheek.
"It's raining," she said again as her fingertip traced its track over his skin before she lapsed once more into silence, drawing into herself and staring at nothing at all.
"It's always raining, love," he said as he ran a parting hand over the tangle of her hair, then left once more.