Disclaimer: I am not J.K Rowling and so have no claim over any names you recognise.
Hermione was taking a rare moment of peace and quiet in the Healer's room when she heard an emergency announcement resonate outside the closed door. Pausing from reading the paper, she shuffled around in her Healers's robes and shifted to see if any message had popped up on her beeper.
Her gaze was met with the blank grey face of the beeper and she quickly dropped it back into her pocket and resumed reading the front page story of the Prophet.
There had been another arrest and Hermione felt a wave of anger and disgust towards the arrestee. In her mind, any of the people that had been arrested in the latest sting by the Ministry deserved everything they would face in Azkaban. She hoped they were all locked up for the remainder of their lives.
They were no better than the animals they claimed their test subjects to be. How they could call themselves Healers and the saviours of the Wizarding World she had no idea. She out of anyone in Wizarding London had no love for any witch or wizard with the Dark Mark on their arm but even they didn't deserve what had happened to them.
At the thought, an uneasy feeling swept through her body, causing her to shift uncomfortably in her seat. It had been ten years since the War and even though she could have never known what had been happening in the depths of Azkaban, she somehow felt as if she should have known.
She should have been able to do something. Anything to help.
But no-one had known. And no-one had done anything. At least until ten years had passed and some members of the Wizengamot had gone to Azkaban to set free the Death Eaters who had completed their sentence- only to find them missing from their cells.
At first there had been a mass panic. When the papers had picked up on the situation, they had written hysterical story after hysterical story on this supposed mass outbreak which no-one had known anything about.
And then Kingsley had launched a deeper inquiry and the mess had started unravelling. The five Death Eaters originally thought to be missing weren't the only ones. There were dozens of witches and wizards unaccounted for- their cells lying empty.
The panic had then worsened.
And then a few weeks later an underground laboratory had been found by the Aurors and what they saw could only be described as something out of a Muggle horror film.
The corrupt Healers may have spouted out repeated protests on how they were helping the Wizarding World but even the folk who held the deepest hatred for Death Eaters had been struck still at what had been happening to them all these years.
And then came the horrible realisation that someone must have been funding these rogue labs. Attention had turned to the Ministry, in particular the Minister for Magic and the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Denial had been the word of the day- and then it had all blurted out.
The Senior Undersecretary and the Head of the Department. One's reasons for her actions had been revenge, the other wizard's reason had been his anger.
Hermione too had been saddened to realise how far Voldemort had gone to build his army. She knew he had approached the giants from what Hagrid had told them but it had soon come to light that he had tried to buy favours from the proud vampire community, the cursed werewolf community, the fierce centaur community and he had even tried to coax the alluring Veela community into doing his bidding.
Anyone who refused had been deemed as resistant and dealt with accordingly. Numbers of each group had fallen dramatically.
But the fact that these horrible people had been using the prisoners as test subjects to see if they would be able to combine human genes with the genes of these magical creatures…it was awful.
What was more awful was that over the ten years, they had somehow perfected the art and had been successful in their experiments. Hermione dreaded knowing what the prisoners had gone through- what their bodies had been put through.
The Healers and scientists hadn't bothered using safe, pain free practices as they would have in St Mungo's. Oh no- Death Eaters deserved what they supposedly got. And what they got over the years was torture plain and simple. Regardless of what spin anyone tried to place on it.
The first underground laboratory that Kingsley had found had housed four prisoners. All four had been whisked off to a secure ward on St Mungo's which now held more protective wards and safety measures than Gringotts itself.
A select staff comprising of some of the most trusted members of the hospital had been selected to treat the patients and their jobs became known as the New Unspeakables. Each of them had already taken a vow to protect and heal patients but that day- they took another vow, an Unbreakable Vow.
The only people who knew what went on behind the doors of the secure Ward were a mere three Healers, two nurses and one receptionist. Everyone else was left to their own speculation. And Merlin did they speculate. In fact, speculation was the order of the day and had been for the last four months.
More so when lab after lab was uncovered and the number of patients on Ward 17 rose.
Hermione's curiosity was killing her, just like every other member of staff in St Mungo's. She had heard more than most- whispers that one of the original prisoners hadn't survived, that the ward now held a mixture of wolves, vampires and if the rumours were to be believed, a male Veela.
Most were responsive, responding well to treatment but some were still in comas. All were damaged- not just physically…but mentally. As head of the Auror Department, Kingsley and his team which included Harry and Ron had been the ones to retrieve the prisoners from the lab. Harry and Ron had gone on two early operations and they had told her stories…unofficially of course. The prisoners hadn't just been angry- they'd been rabid- powerful and strong, their actions fuelled with adrenaline and the potions the Healers and scientists had been using on them.
According to Ron, they had been more like animals than people. At first Hermione hadn't believed him, knowing his tendency to over exaggerate and his deep hatred of the Death Eaters. But then she'd turned to Harry and when he didn't say anything to deny it- she'd known it to be true.
And her disgust had deepened. Along with a slow inner burning in her gut that she needed to do something to help.
And so when two rare job vacancies had opened up for the ward, Hermione had put forward her application. She hadn't expected to get the position, after all she was still a relative baby at the hospital, having only been working there for five years after she graduated from Healer school but she had been shocked when her application had been accepted.
And so in two day's time, she was going to be one of the few to enter the doors to the secluded ward. She couldn't wait to get started- not just to help the patients but she also couldn't help but be fascinated about the patient's new abilities.
She was drawn out of her musings when the door to the lounge opened and the harsh light of the corridor shone into the dim room. She watched her friend and colleague walk in and make her way over to the coffee pot.
"Hey." Hermione said.
"He-hmm." She received in reply as the evidently tired witch took in her first gulp of coffee and savoured it.
Hermione smiled as she resumed reading the story in the paper. The chair opposite her made a slight screech as it was pulled back before her friend sat down.
"Long day?" Hermione asked curiously.
She got a long look in reply. "You don't know the half of it. It's been crazy- and it's set to get worse. I can't wait until my shift is over."
Hermione smiled. "Only four more hours to go!"
"Ugh, don't remind me! I hate working nights!" came the common complaint.
"Ditto." Hermione replied.
"But hey- at least in two days we'll get to work together."
Hermione's smile widened. Padma had been very lucky indeed. She had been on duty as the nurse in charge of Ward 17 when the first set of prisoners had been brought there and as such, she had been kept on to work in the ward ever since then. One of the lucky few.
Despite how close their friendship was, Hermione had never asked Padma on any information about the ward, despite how much she burned to know about it. In return, Padma being the professional she was, had kept her patient's confidentiality in all areas. But Hermione had noticed a slight change in the witch's tone when she talked about her work over the last few weeks. It had coincided with another set of patients being admitted to the ward and Hermione had no clue how to help her friend when she had no idea on what was wrong or what had happened.
Hesitantly, she tried to bring up the subject once more. "How are things going? Good?…Are you okay?"
Padma's entire body jolted at the last question and the palm that wasn't wrapped around her mug came to jerk up to her throat where it hovered slightly before she ran her fingers over her pulse. Hermione's eyes narrowed at the strange movement and when she flicked her eyes back up to meet the other witch's, they widened as if she'd been caught red- handed and the arm quickly dropped back down to the table with a thud.
"I'm fine. Just stressed."
Hermione didn't believe the casual brush off but she kept that to herself. Another announcement went off and both witches dug around for their beepers. Hermione's showed a blank grey face once more.
"Emergency." Padma said as she looked at the face of her own beeper. She lifted her eyes off the small black object. "There was another rescue operation tonight. This time there were eight Death Eaters."
Hermione's eyes widened at the words. "Eight?! There's never been that many in one go before."
Padma had a frown on her face as she continued studying her beeper. Hermione felt sympathy for her friend. It looked like her break was about to be cut short. She voiced the thought aloud.
Padma's eyebrows lifted. "I'm not the only one. They can't handle all the new patients. Drink up. Your start date just got moved up."
Hermione sat up in surprise. Ignoring her mug of coffee, she quickly waved it over to the sink where it was joined with Padma's.
The two witches then hurriedly made their way to Ward 17.
Hermione hadn't known what to expect from her first day at the new ward but being dropped straight into the deep end was not it. As soon as she cleared the security and stepped through the doors, the loud cacophony hit her ears.
Roars from the new patients, and some of the old, deafened her ears along with the many shouts of the Aurors and the Healers who seemed to have not yet subdued the patients in order to assess them.
Hermione followed Padma into the chaotic crowd, her eyes wide as they took in everything happening around her. She focused on a bed in the distance and studied the man who was reclining in it with his eyes closed. As she neared, ready to walk past him, the man's eyes opened and his head twisted towards her with an odd movement. Hermione couldn't contain her gasp as she caught sight of the red blood eyes staring back at her, following her movements as she came closer to him.
Padma didn't seem to notice anything unusual about this and Hermione swallowed the nervous energy about to erupt from her throat.
And then when she was about to walk past the foot of the bed the wizard erupted. In one strong fluid movement, he leaped into the air and knocked into her. Surprised, Hermione staggered backwards and fell to the floor, a short scream seeming to break the air around her.
Her head banged against the floor and painful stars erupted behind her closed eyes. Through thudding ears, she could hear hurrying footsteps making their way over to her but her eyes couldn't seem to move away from the face of the wizard hovering over her.
She remembered Remus's transformation from her third year and watched in shock as the man's features begin to morph. His eyes dilated, his teeth changed from blunt human teeth to the pointed ones of a canine and his nose became slightly longer, its end rounding.
And then the transformation stopped. There was no fur erupting from skin, no saliva dripping from teeth and no bones cracking. The result was a picture of a human with strange looking features and Hermione couldn't find herself being able to look away from him.
And then she felt something sharp, fingernails that were shaped into claws, come up to swipe at the collar of her Healer's robes. Her eyes widened in fear, another terrified scream escaping her mouth, when the man-wolf lowered his head slightly and started sniffing her.
It only lasted for a few seconds before a spell from someone's wand hit the man-wolf on the side and he let out a pained howl. His head whipped in the direction the spell had come from and Hermione's head turned to follow.
She saw both Padma's and an Auror's wand outstretched in front of their bodies. The man-wolf growled in anger from above her.
"Stay still Healer Granger. He recognises the colour of your robes as the ones the rogue Healers wore. He thinks you're one of them." She heard a voice say from the other side of her.
"James…look at me. This is Healer Granger, she is a good Healer. She's here to help you all. She won't hurt you. She won't hurt you."
The man-wolf turned his attention back to her.
Hermione continued staring up at him, her mouth too dry to speak.
His head cocked in another strange fluid movement and then he began descending again. Her uncooperative throat let out an incoherent squeak.
"Healer Granger! Please remain calm. He's trying to see if he can smell any traces of the potions they used on the patients in the rogue labs. James- it's okay. This is Healer Granger. She's going to be working in the ward from now on. She's a good Healer."
"Oh Merlin, do something!" she heard Padma cry.
And then another spell hit "James's" side. Another howl resonated through the air and energy seemed to crackle in the room. James's head whipped back around to the side and this time he didn't wait before attacking.
Hermione gasped as she quickly twisted her neck, her eyes fixed on the bulky back muscles of James as he ran towards where Padma and the Auror had been standing. Her mouth opened in a warning when she felt a rush of air whoosh over her. It took her more than a moment to realise that it had been a wizard. Said wizard jumped into the air until he was stood in front of James. Grabbing Padma by the waist, he lifted her as if she weighed nothing and in another burst of fast speed, he flew towards the entrance and placed her safely behind a wall of Aurors.
When he turned around, Hermione gasped in recognition. She knew who he was…and what he was.
His dark black eyes, elongated teeth and sharp cheekbones attested to that.
He spoke in a commanding voice. "James. Desist. We are not to hurt the humans who are healing us."
A pang hit Hermione's chest as she realised he no longer thought of himself as human. But he was right- wasn't he? He wasn't fully human anymore.
What had she just signed herself up for?
James growled in frustration. "They are keeping us here. When are we going to get the justice they promised us?"
"You know what Auror Shacklebolt said. They are dealing with them."
Another loud roar. "It isn't good enough."
"Calm yourself. Our friends need help right now. They need the Healer's attention. They need to focus. No more of our family will die."
His words seemed to settle James back down. His body limped as the tautness of his muscles lessened and a collective breath seemed to be taken from everyone in the room.
Realising that she was still lying prone on the floor, Hermione sat up, her arms coming out to support her as her vision swam slightly. Her right palm swiped on a piece of glass but the sting barely registered as she squeezed her eyes together to clear her head.
A prickle on the nape of her head and an awareness settling over her caused her to open her eyes before she was fully ready. She looked around nervously and realised that every single eye was trained on her. Correction- every single pair of eyes belonging to the patients who weren't in comas.
Her gut began screaming at her and she slowly got to her feet, making sure not to make any sudden movements.
Something was wrong.
Slowly she turned back to face James and Zabini. Both werewolf and vampire were staring at her fixatedly and a second later, James's long sniff of air was audible throughout the room. His eyes narrowed on her hand and Hermione closed it into a fist. Feeling the wet feeling in the palm of her hand, she looked down and opened the fist to see a small pool of blood gathering there.
Her body tensing, she looked back up at James and Zabini and took a step back unconsciously.
"Blood." She heard Zabini spit out in a choked voice.
There were gasps around her, one very loud voice letting out an expletive before all hell broke loose. She watched James coming towards her in an oddly slow motion and in her haste to get away, her legs tangled with something behind her and she fell on her arse.
Bright lights of Stupefy spells being shot across the ward stunned her eyes and she looked wildly around for her wand.
It had rolled out of her robes when she'd fallen the first time and now lay at the wheels of the bed close to her. She immediately twisted her body and lunged for it. Her fingers closed around the handle when a feral cry rose from the occupant of the bed she was next to.
A body soared out of the bed and Hermione watched in horror as black wings erupted out of the man's back. Pale skin sliced open along his shoulder blades and the wings unfurled to their full width before they were used to push the incoming werewolf away from her.
A dark rough voice spoke and said one single word.
Everyone in the room, Auror, Healer and patient alike had now turned their attention from her to the man standing in front of her.
From the floor, Hermione stared up at him too. And then he turned and she gasped in, her mouth open and closing numerous times with no words coming out.
"Malfoy?" she whispered as she looked into his oddly darkened eyes. His gaze ran slowly from the bottom of her trainers to the top of her head before he looked back at her eyes.
"My mate. Mine." He said in an ominously possessive tone.
Oh dear Merlin.
Author's Note: So here it is. The idea that's been annoying me when I should be concentrating on other things. Like I've mentioned on my profile page- I struggled of whether to update this first chapter because unlike usual, I don't have the full story plotted out in my head and I have no idea where the story is heading. So I'd love to know what you think so far? Well that's it for now. As always thank you very much for reading and until next time (or not!), Curiositykils.