The Mountain and The Sea
"You call me a mountain, and I call you the sea. I'll stand tall and certain and watch you swallow me"
–Mountain and The Sea by Ingrid Michaelson
Summary: Hermione Granger was perfectly happy with her life, her job as a Healer Trainee, her ugly cat and her cute little house in the countryside. And then Draco Malfoy had to go and mess that all up, typical git. Post-Hogwarts, EWE, OOC, creature!fic. 18+
A/N: Hey all! Welcome to my first multi-chaptered foray into the world of the Harry Potter fandom! This was written in a moment of weakness when I was craving a bit of fluff and couldn't seem to get my hands on anything that scratched the itch. It's already complete and much shorter than my previous stories so the pace is a little faster than usual but I hope you'll enjoy it!
Warning: If you don't like fluff and happy endings, don't read this bad boy. It's all sorts of mushy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of its affiliates. I am not making any money off of this, sadly.
Hermione Granger huffed and blew a few errant strands of hair out of her face. Her chocolate brown curls were rapidly falling out of the loose bun she had thrown them up into in an attempt to get the mess out of her face while she worked. She should have taken Healer Wong's advice and started using Wizarding products on her hair but she was notoriously stubborn and some habits just died hard. She shoved her light blue Trainee robes up past her elbow again and dipped another strip of gauze into the potion in front of her. After making sure it was fully saturated with the thick, yellow liquid she carefully placed it on the leg of the little girl lying in the bed next to her.
With a considerable effort she kept her eyes away from the little girl's pinched face or that of her mother, who was clutching at her daughter's small hand. If she looked now, she knew she would lose all semblance of professionalism and start crying. The child, Serena, was only 4 years old and had ended up in the burn ward of St. Mungo's after tripping and falling, part of her body landing too close to her father's cauldron fire. The everlasting flame, which he had been using for his potion, had ignited most of her clothes, burning her skin and hair almost instantaneously. Her father had managed to Vanish her burning clothes before her entire body was consumed by the bright blue fire but the damage had been done. She had burns covering over 60% of her body and because the fire had been magical in origin it did not heal the same way a normal burn would under magical care. Every four hours one of the Healer Trainees had to soak her skin in a potion specifically designed to counter the effects of the magical flame and to try to keep her out of pain.
Hermione winced slightly as she heard the strained hiss of air come from Serena. The potion was soothing once it was on but the removal of the old gauze and its replacement was painful for her. Each time Hermione touched her in the slightest the young witch would let out a soft whimper of pain. It had been eating at her since she met the child two days prior. Carefully, she continued to put the potion soaked gauze over her burns, trying not to grimace. The colour of the potion made everything look worse; on top of the blistered skin, that was weeping clear fluids, the yellow concoction made the girl's wounds look like they were extremely infected.
"You're doing a spectacular job, sweetie," Hermione murmured to her softly, not taking her eyes off of her work.
"It hurts," Serena whispered, clearly trying to be brave. Her mother let out a sound like she was choking.
"I know, beautiful, I know," Hermione cooed, coating another piece of gauze, "but it helps the burns heal, so it will be worth the pain in the end."
She glanced at the face of the little girl, her chubby features set in determination, as she nodded courageously despite the tears threatening to spill over her cheeks. Hermione smiled at her and leaned closer to her face, in an audible whisper she said, "I know where there's a bowl of ice cream with your name on it, shall I get it when we're done here?"
Serena smiled slightly, her face losing the pinched look for a second, and she nodded.
"Alright, then let's get this part over with, okay?"
Hermione went back to treating the girl's wounds and several excruciating minutes later, she was able to clear away her supplies and pronounce the job done. After promising to return with Serena's ice cream, Hermione cleared out of the room for a breather. She was headed to the cafeteria to purchase Serena's ice cream when she came across Pansy Parkinson heading in the same direction. Nodding to the other woman, who returned the silent greeting, they fell in step beside each other as they continued on their way. They had been wary of each other when they first started their training at St. Mungo's because of their shared history but over the last two years they had managed to put it behind them, for the most part. They certainly weren't friends but they were no longer enemies. They chatted when the opportunity presented itself, mostly about their patients and difficult cases—never personal things—and would help each other out when one of them needed the odd favour here and there. Hermione was never fully comfortable with Pansy around, it was hard to considering that the other girl had once tried to hand over her best friend in order to save her own skin, but they got by as best they could.
"You on the night shift?" Pansy asked, breaking their silence.
"Yep, until 10AM, you?"
"I get off at midnight," Pansy replied as they entered the cafeteria. Pansy started heading towards the long table that housed the various coffee's available. "Coffee?"
"No, actually," Hermione said, "I'm here for ice cream for Serena."
Pansy smiled softly, something that had taken Hermione quite a while to get used to. "How is she doing?" she asked.
Hermione sighed as she watched Pansy pour and doctor her coffee. "She's brave, it's incredible considering her age. The burns are starting to show signs of healing but at the rate it's going, she's going to be here for months."
Pansy's mouth twisted into a grimace and she followed Hermione over to the snack section where she could order ice cream. "Her parents are idiots. I can't believe that her father didn't have his workspace warded against his children."
"He didn't think of it," Hermione said after ordering two scoops of Strawberry Stardust. "He figured that a locked door would suffice."
Pansy snorted. "Not with magical children. When are they going to learn?"
Hermione arched an eyebrow at her and handed over a couple Sickles for the ice cream. "Pansy, it's not because they're both Muggle-borns."
"Don't give me that look, Hermione," Pansy said, her tone defensive. "I'm just saying that a wizard who had been raised around magic would have known to ward his work station with an age line. Muggle-born parents just don't think of those things, they think that they can lock a door and it'll be fine but it's not and now that little girl has to pay the price for her parents' stupidity."
Hermione sighed. She and Pansy often had debates like this. It was definitely better than their school days when Pansy had thrown around the word 'Mudblood' with casual regularity but it was far from perfect. Pansy was still of the opinion that Muggle-borns didn't quite belong in Wizarding society. In the early days of their new association, Hermione had confronted the other woman about her views and told her that, in no uncertain terms, was she willing to risk the safety of her patients simply because Pansy was prejudiced. Hermione had feared that, if it ever came down to Pansy following Hermione's orders, that the other woman may fight her simply based on her blood status.
She almost smiled as she remembered Pansy's response. The pug nosed woman had placed both hands on her hips and arched an elegant eyebrow as she said, "Granger, you may not be a pureblood but you know more about magic than most of the old farts on the Wizengamont."
After that the girls had managed to have several civil debates on the issue, though they never settled anything. They continued to see things differently but Hermione was okay with that because, as far as she had seen, Pansy no longer allowed her views of Muggle-borns to determine the way she treated them. She gave each and every patient equal care and attention, which was what mattered to Hermione.
"She has paid the price of their stupidity, but it's a stupid mistake that any careless parent could have made, regardless of their upbringing. You remember the little boy who came in last week with two broken arms and a shattered collar bone? He was from a wizarding family, several generations worth, but his parents hadn't been paying attention to him and he got off on his brother's broom. Shitty parenting is just shitty parenting," Hermione said as they walked back towards the burn ward.
Pansy cast a glare in Hermione's direction but it had no malice behind it, Pansy just didn't like being proven wrong. "I'm going to go through our records for the last six months and tally up all the cases where Muggle-born parents did something stupid and got their kid hurt versus Wizarding families, then you'll see."
Hermione laughed. "You do that Pansy, I'll not stay late to help you though."
"Course you won't," Pansy grumbled as they walked back into Serena's room. Hermione smiled to see the little girl sitting up in her bed and chatting quietly with her mother.
Hermione held up the bowl of ice cream with a smile. "Strawberry Stardust, anyone?"
The grin that lit up Serena's face was well worth the minimal effort of getting her the treat. Hermione knew that she shouldn't play favourites with her patients but she couldn't help it with this one. The little girl, like so many other children, didn't deserve to be here. She should have been out playing like any four year old girl, getting bumps and scrapes that could easily be healed with a murmured word, not this prolonged treatment. The least Hermione could do was spoil her a bit while she was here. She walked over to the bed and looked at Serena's mother. "Do you mind?"
Serena's right hand, her dominant one, had been severely burned so she could not feed herself, she had to be hand fed every meal. Usually one of her parents did this task as the trainees didn't have a lot of time to spare but Serena had been Hermione's last patient to check before she took her break and she could afford the time. Serena's mother shook her head and smiled. "Do you mind if I step out to Floo call her father?"
"Go ahead," Pansy said from behind Hermione. "We'll stay with her."
"Thank you," the mother said as she left.
Hermione sat down on the edge of the hospital bed, careful not to jostle Serena or brush up against her. "You ready for this?"
"Yep!" Serena said happily, opening up her mouth.
Hermione scooped a large spoonful of the pink, sparkling ice cream, and held it up to the girl's mouth. She made an adorable "hoomph" sound as her lips closed over the spoon and Hermione heard Pansy chuckling as she settled into the mother's chair.
"Good stuff?" Pansy asked, Serena nodded as Hermione held out another spoonful. "That was my favourite when I was little too."
"I also like mint chocolate chip and Purple Pixie," Serena said before "hoomphing" another mouthful.
"Isn't that the one that makes your voice all high and squeaky?" Hermione asked her.
"Yep!" Serena beamed while Pansy and Hermione shared a look that said Serena would never be given Purple Pixie ice cream while in their care.
Several mouthfuls later and the ice cream was almost gone and Serena was humming happily while Pansy relaxed with her coffee, sharing some hospital gossip that was 4 year old appropriate. The rich smell of her drink was enticing and Hermione was starting to regret not buying some for herself. She scraped the bottom of the bowl, getting the last of the ice cream on the spoon.
"Okay, last one," Hermione said, watching the little girl swallow. "Let's see that tongue!"
Serena giggled and stuck out her tongue. As expected, it sparkled like a thousand diamonds, a result of the ice cream. Hermione made a big show of examining her tongue, turning the girls head this way and that, before announcing, "It's perfect!"
Serena laughed again just as her mother walked in the door. The older witch beamed at Hermione and Pansy.
"How was your ice cream, darling?" she asked her daughter.
"Look Mama!" Serena stuck out her tongue for her mother's inspection.
"Oh! Would you look at that!"
"Healer Granger said it was per—"
"Paging all section seven Healers and Trainees! Paging all section seven Healer's and Trainees! Code Red on Ward 4! I repeat, paging all section seven Healers and Trainees for a Code Red on Ward 4!"
Hermione put the bowl down and gave Serena a quick kiss on her forehead where the skin was unblemished. "I have to go sweetheart, be good for your mama, I'll see you in a few hours, okay?"
Both Pansy and Hermione left the room quickly. "Will you check on her in about three and a half hours? If I'm not back, can you make sure her bandages get changed?"
Pansy nodded. "Of course, go on. Send me a memo and let me know if I need to have another trainee take over your patients."
"Thanks Pansy!" Hermione said as she rushed down the hall.
Hermione was a section seven Healer Trainee, someone who specialized in treatment and healing of Magical Creatures or part Magical Creatures. It took a significant amount of skill to treat non-wizarding beings because their heritage often afforded them protection against a witch or wizard's magic. It was often hard to get around those natural barriers to treat the patient, and even then one had to be careful to use potions and spells that would not react badly with their inherent magic. As Hermione rushed along to the fourth ward, she heard a commotion coming from one of the rooms. Speeding up, she rushed in and saw that the previously quiet room was in complete and utter chaos.
There were several Healers, Trainees and even a few Medi-wicthes surrounding one patient's bed with their wands out. Bird like shrieks were coming from the bed, high pitched and full of rage. In the split second it took Hermione to react she saw the patient's foot shoot out and strike a Healer, sending him flying backwards, as one of the Trainees lost her grip on a struggling arm. There was the unmistakable sound of cracking bone as the patient struck the Trainee across the face. Hermione rushed over to the head of patient's bed, intent on holding down their shoulders.
As Hermione reached the bed, the Trainee regained her balance and, quick as lightening, reached out and grabbed the patients arm once again. It was impressive considering how much pain the Trainee must have been in after taking such a blow. Hermione pushed the thought out of her head as she used both hands to press down on his shoulders—at least, she was pretty sure the patient was a 'he'.
She was unsure because, at the moment, the patient didn't have a human face. Where a mouth should be there was a large and deadly looking white beak, which was the source of the bird like cries were coming from, the eyes were no longer a human-like oval, rather, they were round and bulbous and very similar to a Bald Eagle's. The rest of the patient's face had narrowed with a bird like quality and small down feathers had appeared at the temples, blending in with the white blonde hair.
"Where's the Veela sleeping draught?" Hermione called out, not taking her eyes off of the head of her patient, right below her. She was using all of her strength and weight to hold his shoulders down but if she let herself get distracted for even a second he could slip out of her grasp and maul her.
"It's coming!" someone else's voice cried out.
"Shhh..." Hermione dropped her voice to a softer tone, hoping to calm the patient though she knew there was very little that they could do for a Veela in this state. Only their mate could truly calm them. "It's okay, it's going to be alright. Shhh..."
The patient turned his head to the right so that he could fix her with a silver beady eye. She couldn't be positive but she thought she might have felt the muscles under her hands relaxing just the slightest. He was still fighting the other Trainees and Healers but at least he was concentrating on her.
"Hello there," Hermione said, smiling a tad. "I know this is scary, especially if this is your first transformation, but I promise you that you're going to be just fine. I need you to calm down and trust us, we're here to help you, okay?"
The patient blinked at her and let out a plaintive cry from his murderous looking beak. It wasn't the same angry sound that she had heard when she came into the room, this one pulled at her heartstrings. He was scared.
"I know," she murmured. "It's terrifying, but you're going to be just fine. I promise you, I'll take care of you, okay?"
He let out another cry and turned his head even farther, seeking out her right arm that still held down his shoulder. Hermione twitched and almost pulled away, worried that she was about to lose a finger or two, but she forced herself to remain calm. How could she convince this patient that she was going to take care of him if she showed him that he scared her, too? She needed to be calm for him and so she resisted the urge to yank her hand away as his long, sharp beak brushed against her forearm.
The effect was instantaneous.
His body stilled, tensing for a brief second, before he relaxed completely. The Healers and Trainees looked around at each other, stunned, as his limbs suddenly stopped thrashing, his body stopped bucking and he let out what sounded suspiciously like a contented sigh. Hermione watched, equally stunned, as the Veela in front of her nuzzled his beak against the delicate skin of her inner wrist, inhaling her scent deeply. She was just about to open her mouth and ask what the heck was going on when the beak began to shrink before her very eyes.
She watched, gobsmacked, as the bird-like features slowly melted back into those of a man. She knew without looking that the rest of the St. Mungo's staff were also staring at the man's face but she couldn't have torn her eyes away even if someone had announced that Voldemort had just walked through the door.
Because she now knew that Draco Malfoy was, at the very least, part Veela.
And he was currently placing small, open mouthed kisses to her wrist.