Firewhisky and Feelings
Hermione and Draco only fought four times. Once, because Draco told Dinky that the tea could be stronger, and the little elf began to hit his head on the table; Hermione didn't take well to this and lectured Draco about proper wording. The second argument was the worst. Hermione's 'incessant quill tapping' brought Draco to the point of screaming at her because he 'couldn't think passed the wretched sound of her insolence.' The third quarrel was short and ended in an hour of awkward silence because in Hermione's rant, she accidentally complemented Draco's thighs, and neither knew how to feel about it. The final fight was over in 20 minutes of bickering about the proper use of grey versus gray. Not so surprisingly, that was the most civil they have been towards each other since they met as children twelve years ago.
As Hermione walked out of the Manor's grounds, after a curt goodbye to Malfoy, she began to falter slightly. For the past five hours, she had distracted herself from questioning thoughts about her and Ron's relationship, but as the silence began to set in, her brain started whirling. Hermione then took a deep breath and told herself, "I need a plan. Not more worries. First: Do I sleep at our apartment?"
Once Granger left, Draco was alone to process what had happened that day. What had happened? Granger broke down. Twice. And I didn't get much closer to reversing the law. Admittedly, Granger made much more progress than him. Luckily any progress was shared. He now knows that they were passed in sets of three, hence why each law only had 9-10 families' blood in them. Together, all three laws had the blood of the entire Sacred 28- well the blood of 28 families and the minister (they still didn't know what happened to the Rosier and Fawley families). He did make a bit of headway when he found that the 'tags' (as Granger liked to call them) on the laws were traps that must be undone to remove the bill. Lovely.
What to do about Granger? A slightly uneasy feeling followed her name is his head. Deep deep down, Draco felt a bit bad for the woman. But what could he do? If he asked her what was wrong she would never answer him. Really if he offered her any kindness (which he wasn't keen on doing anyway) she would surely deny it thinking he was trying to trick her. He sighed. Why do I even care? Live and let live. I'm sure she'll work it out. With that comforting thought, Draco switched to a different worry. After he breaks the law, how does he get the child?
Hermione walked into her apartment, head held high, fully intent on not letting Ron push her out again. This was equally her apartment, and if anyone should leave it should be him. But, when she saw him Ron passed out on the couch with a firewhisky bottle beside him, she faltered. He was not a happy drunk, to say the least. Even though he would never hurt her physically, she still did not want to be in the same room as him. She quietly scurried into their bedroom and locked the door. When Hermione took a look around she gasped. The room looked like a tornado ran through it. Clothes were thrown about (mostly hers), a picture frame of the two of them when they got engaged was broken, and a fist-sized hole in the wall above their flipped bed. The bathroom was in no better condition with her toiletries strewn about and the curtain ripped off the shower.
This rose her temper. She spent the night in a house other than hers, was late for work, broke down crying in front of Malfoy, and then bickered with him the rest of their time together. She wasn't having a peaceful day and Ron throwing a tantrum was not helping her keep a level head. She then reminded herself that she already nags Ron to change his temper, so she cannot let hers get out of control. Calm breaths. Just get your stuff together and go to the office to think things through properly.
The thought was broken by a loud bang on the bedroom door which caused her to seek cover in the bathroom, only to fall backwards and hit her head on the doorknob.
Everything went black.
Draco adjusted his robes as he set off for dinner with his parents in the West wing of the Manor. He had a love-hate relationship with family dinners. He loved his family- of course, but his parent's remarks to some topics had him internally cringing- glad they hardly left the Manor.
Upon entering the ornate dining room, his mother rose from her seat beside his father at the head of the table, and gracefully floated over to him with a letter in her manicured hand. "Draco, love, this came for you. It's from the Ministry," his mother wore a worried expression. Narcissa had feared that the Ministry would take Draco away since the war. They were all pardoned, but the worry remained.
"Thank you, mother," Draco said as he took the letter. He quickly read the scribbled note and distress fell upon his face. "I'm sorry Mother, Father, I must go to St. Mungo's. Something has happened to Granger and they need to speak to me."
"We can come with you, darling, explain that you didn't do anything wrong. You hardly leave the Manor!" His mother exclaimed, obviously upset.
"Narcissa, he doesn't need his parents. He didn't do anything wrong. Right Draco?" Lucius questioned. Draco's father had been much more relaxed than his mother after being pardoned. Lucius believed that he had gotten away with a great deal, so he was untouchable in his mind.
"Of course, father," Draco said coolly, "I need to leave now. The letter said it was urgent. Sorry about dinner, Mother." He kissed his mother's cheek before dashing out of the mansion.
Narcissa sat back down with a sigh, "what do you think the mudblood girl did this time?"
Lucius groaned, "I don't know, but she's wreaking havoc on our son again."
Upon entering St. Mungo's Draco was surrounded by ministry officials. Kingsley and Potter rounded on him first.
"Come with us. We need to know about Hermione," Potter said in a wanna-be-stern voice and lead Draco toward an examining room down the hall that all the doctors were frantically running in and out of.
While Potter was pulling files out of his brief case, Draco plopped down in the comfiest chair, obviously made for the doctor, and crossed his leg impatiently.
"Has there been anything different about Hermione lately?" Kingsley questioned. He looked rather out of place in his exotic robes and demanding stature sitting on an examination table with his legs dangling off.
"Considering I've seen her the last two days for the first time in almost 5 years, I cannot evaluate that," Draco drawled. They act as if I actually know Granger.
"Malfoy, you've know her since you were twelve. Has she done or said anything out of character these past two days?" Potter was getting irritated. Why would I be questioned when Potter knows more about her than I do?
Malfoy sighed, "she was bawling today."
This peaked the Boy-who-lived's interest. "Okay, do you know why?" Potter asked. Eager.
"No clue, Potter. Do you honestly think she would tell me even if I did ask her what had her upset?"
Potter sighed and ran a hand through his scraggly, un-groomed hair. Seriously, you are 22; one would think you could finally see a hairstylist. Potter started up again, "Did Hermione say anything about Ron?"
So, I got it right. "Afraid not. Is Weasel hurting her?" Draco asked, regretting immediately how menacing his question sounded. Potter noticed this quickly (unlike nearly everything else- maybe he has an unhealthy obsession with me? Yes, that must me it).
"We never said that. Why do you suspect him? Why do you care?" Potty probed.
Ugh. The inferiors just don't understand. Draco sat straighter with superiority reflecting in his features as he droned, "Oh Potter, you couldn't hurt her if you tried, and you're her only other friend besides Weaselbee. Now don't go taking that as caring for her. I have work to do, and I can't very well do my job with her blubbering."
This time Kingsley questioned him in his deep, authoritative voice even Draco was a bit afraid of. "Draco, was Hermione skittish, jumpy, or afraid when you saw her last?"
This caused Draco to flinch when he thought about the daily occurrences of her jumpiness, and how that had put him in multiple lock-locking jinxes. "Granger has been very on edge. Any thing that scares her she draws her wand at, but that could be the war's affect." He was beginning to get hungry and irritated with questioning; now he's going to get dinner heated up which is never quite as good. "Can I go now? Honestly, despite Weasel's anger management issues, he could never lay a hand on Hermione. She would kick his arse before he touched her," Draco said, exasperated.
Potter glanced over at Kingsley, who gave him a small nod. "Okay, you can go after one last question. Ron is claiming Hermione is cheating on him with you. Are you in a romantic relationship with Hermione Granger?" Potter asked in a dull voice while reviewing papers.
Draco burst out laughing at the incredulous question. Kingsley and the-boy-who-wouldn't-die were staring at him as if he had never laughed before. Still chuckling he answered, "Oh Potter, that's hilarious. Of course not," and continued to laugh as he walked out the door.
Before he made it out if the hallway, he peeked into a room all of the nurses were rushing in and out of. Granger was there, lying on a bed with IVs and a tube in her nose. Her head was wrapped with a bandage, and she was bleeding through it a bit. For reasons he will later say was only curiosity, Draco crept into the room to get a better look at her. She looked horrible. Worse than when she was crying her eyes out this morning. She had bruises on her face and arms, and dried blood on her forehead. He could see why they suspected Weasley of abuse. If he didn't know Granger better, he would arrest the man himself. Fluttering eyes interrupted his thoughts. Not wanting to get caught looking like he cared, Draco ran out of the room, into the lobby, and apparated back home the second he walked out the main doors. Hopefully she didn't see him.
Consciousness came upon Hermione like a swift brick to the head. She tried to fight her headache and open her eyes to find out where she was, and all she saw was a white streak and pale blue wall. She tried opening her eyes again and Harry was beside her saying something. She furrowed her brow, trying to listen to what her was saying. He looked worried.
A nurse was all of a sudden in her face with a light shining in her eyes. Checking my pupils- brain damage? That was Hermione's worst fear, not having full function of her mind. She began to panic, and that's when the sounds around her came barging in. "Hermione, are you okay? Can you hear, darling? Did Ron do this to you? Does your head hurt? I'm going to get you another bandage. What is going on with Malfoy?"
"Shut up!" Hermione burst. "One question at a time. Thinking is a bit hard. And yes, I do have a headache. It's only adding to this mess."
Harry put his head down in shame. He knew he had a rather nasty habit of pushing people too hard when he wanted something.
"Okay, nurse..." She read the name tag of the cute, little old nurse who shined the light in her eyes, "Julie first."
A small, brunette woman, who could only be the nurse's assistant, took her vitals and Julie asked a few basic questions to test Hermione's awareness.
"Where are you, sweetie?"
"Good. What's your name?"
"Hermione Jean Granger."
"What is the last day you remember?"
"December 6th, 2003."
"That's today. Sounds like you're all in working order. You have a minor concussion and some bruising, but other than that, you're healthy. We want to keep you for a few more hours to make sure the damage isn't worse than we think it is. But, you will be out of here in 5 hours if all goes well. The doctor will come in soon and tell you what you can and cannot do for the next week, so you will heal properly. We gave you healing potions, but the brain is tricky business," the nurse explained sweetly before taking her assistant and walking out.
Harry slowly lifted his head to look at her. Seeing she wasn't angry anymore, he sat down on the edge of her bed and gave her a sheepish smile. "Sorry about the questions. You know how eager I get when I have a case. Forgive me?" he asked quietly.
Hermione sighed. She could never refuse an apology from her oldest friend. "Of course. Now what are your questions? Please keep them quiet. My head still hurts and loud noises don't help."
Harry got up and shuffled through papers sitting on a briefcase in the chair closest to her bed. He picked out a few that had sloppy notes scribbled all over them, and glanced at them as he faced her. He cleared his throat, Hermione flinched at the loud sound, and Harry began to apologize profusely. After she calmed him and told him it was alright, he continued with his questions.
"What happened when you got home from work?"
Hermione groaned and explained her relationship problems to her best friend. Doubts began to set in her mind as she recounted how the accident happened. Maybe she shouldn't be marrying Ron. Even if he had never laid a hand on her, did she really want to marry someone who she was afraid of when he was drunk?
Draco apparated onto the grounds and let out a long breath. He felt odd. Not the odd feeling before you puke from apparating when you're younger, but an emotional oddness. Seeing Granger in the hospital broken and hooked up to tubes provoked a feeling that he had never felt for anyone outside of his family before. He suddenly stopped. What was that emotion? It was familiar, but slightly different. Was it? No. No. No. It's Granger. You can't feel that for her. It's wrong.