Chapter 2 : Love at First Site
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They had been roommates for two short hours in the children’s wing at St. Mungo’s Hospital… before she ever knew of magic.
A curtain separating them, he helped talk her through the pain of her broken arm while waiting for the nurse to bring the proper potion that would magically heal it. She was crying and squealing from the pain of wrecking her bicycle while trying it for the first time without training wheels.
The doctors in the emergency room told her parents to stay behind as they took her to a ‘special wing’ of the hospital where she was put in a room with a boy who was sick from being seriously injured, effectively keeping her away from any contagious patients.
“It hurts.” She cried out in pain, even though she didn't think anyone was there to hear her cries.
“It’s just a broken bone.” A boy said to her through the privacy curtain. “They’ll come with a potion to heal it right up. I’ve had broken bones before.” He said to her, trying to make her stop her crying.
“It hurts.” She repeated through her sobs.
“Think of something else. That’s what I do. Pretend you are somewhere else.”
“Like where?” She asked not believing him, but willing to try anything to take her pain away.
“I try to think of someplace that I like… like a garden. Think of stepping into the most beautiful garden you’ve ever seen.”
“That’s not going work.” She said logically as beads of sweat popped onto her forehead at so much pain.
“Don’t be stubborn, just try it. Close your eyes and concentrate. Tell me what you see in this garden of yours.”
“Um… Marigolds. Lots and lots of Marigolds.” She winced.
Draco couldn’t help but think of how fitting the meaning of Marigolds pertained to her current situation. They meant nothing short of pain and grief.
“Is that all?” He questioned. “Surely you see more than that.”
She tried to concentrate on her favorite flowers. “White Lilies, Gardenias, a patch of Delphinium.” She could hardly think of anything but pain. “Lilacs. I like Lilacs.”
“Okay… think of the smell of Lilacs and pretend that you are gathering them to put in a bouquet. What other flowers do you want?”
“Purple colored roses. They are so lovely.” She recalled as her breathing began to calm down and she began to relax. Her mind’s eye saw the flowers and she could imagine their scent. She did as he suggested and began gathering them in her mind, breathing in the aroma of a most beautiful bouquet.
“What do you hear? What sounds are in your garden?” The boy asked.
Hermione relaxed even further, thinking of things that she wanted to hear.
“I hear… the sound of doves singing their love song, the trickling of a fountain, and… the rustling of the leaves on the trees high above me.” She imagined. “The leaves have turned silver-side up and the scent of rain is in the air, but it hasn’t fallen yet. I do love the smell of rain.”
Draco smiled to himself, knowing that it was working. Her pain was subsiding. And certainly having her speaking calmly of a garden and of rain was much better than listening to her pain.
“I know of a garden with a waterfall where you can actually walk behind it and onto the softest bed of four-leaf clovers. I like to hide there sometimes... and hide my treasure. The rush of the water flows over in front of you. You have to get a little bit wet to get there, but the experience is worth it.”
“It sounds lovely. What else is in your garden?” She asked curiously.
“The waters of the fountains change color and white pebble paths move and change according the cycles of the moon.”
She was about to comment on his wild imagination when she suddenly realized that her pain had subsided a bit because she wasn’t thinking of it. She decided it best to stay in this imaginary garden of his rather than to come back to her painful reality.
"Please go on.” She encouraged.
He tried to think of things in the garden that a girl would like. “There is a small island in the middle of the pond where a hundred species of butterflies live, some as big as your hand. Sometimes they fly across the pond like a flock of birds. It is an amazing site.”
She had never heard of butterflies doing that, but she went along with this pretend place of his anyway, wishing it were real.
“Is there a pretty view of the sunset?” She asked, liking the way his voice described this seemingly magical place.
“Oh yes.” He said matter-of-factly. “Anywhere on the East side of the pond so that the colors in the sky reflect off the water and every tree and branch and iron fence post of the place creates a most interesting silhouette.”
“I can see it in my mind. So pretty.”
“That still isn’t the best part of the day. The best part is after the sunset when sparkles of a billion stars shine in the night sky. The fountains have stopped, but are still lit up, and all you hear is the sound of crickets and pixies humming their night lullabies.”
She smiled at that last part. ‘Pixies?’ She thought it strange that her arm was still throbbing, but she was smiling.
They were interrupted then.
The nurse had finally come into the room, telling the girl to drink something that tasted awful.
“Now you just need some rest and then we’ll take you back to your parents as soon as you are pain free and well enough.”
When the nurse left, she went back to concentrating on trying to see his magical garden in her mind until all of her pain was gone… just like magic.
After a few long moments of silence, Draco couldn’t help himself. He had to point out the fact that he was right.
“I told you they would make it better.” He said to her. "You just had to think of something else until they came with the potion."
“Thank you for helping me. I didn’t believe you, but getting my mind to think of something else did actually help.”
“You’re welcome.” The boy said a bit weakly behind the curtain.
“You have a wonderful imagination.” She complimented.
But this offended him a bit. “That garden is not imaginary. It is real.”
He felt a little spike of energy, preparing himself for a full-fledge argument when they were interrupted yet again when his parents came in with a doctor.
She didn’t mean to, but she had heard their entire conversation. They spoke of his condition as if Draco wasn’t even in the room… as if he were too young to understand anything they were saying.
This time, his fall down the stairs had caused permanent damage to his liver. At worst, it could fail and he could die in the night. At best, normocytic anemia, which would cause his skin to be pale for the rest of his life due to a permanently lowered red blood cell count.
When the three adults left the room, the words ‘he could die’ resonated through her tiny being and struck directly through her caring heart. So after a few quiet seconds, she tip-toed over to his side and boldly, but gently took his hand.
And as his gray eyes opened to find her brown watery ones, he saw the kindest, most caring expression that he’d ever seen... on a little girl with dark pigtails curling down both sides of her cute little face as she quietly spoke the words that had him falling in love with her at first site.
“You didn’t fall down the stairs, did you?” She asked in the sweetest voice.
Knowing that his father had really hurt him this time, he could not stop his tears. He didn’t want to die.
So as the first tear fell from his cheek and onto the pillow, he could only manage a three word confession. “No. I didn’t.”
The little girl placed her wet cheek to the back of the hand that she was holding and for a few long moments the two young strangers simply and quietly… wept together.
All was quiet in the room except for sorrowful breaths catching and tears falling.
Draco held on to her hand, hoping that she would not let go. His heart was hurting at the news of his condition, the seriousness of it.
He was scared, but not alone in truly what was the most painful moment of his life… being told that he might die in the middle of the night.
But who should comfort him, but a complete stranger?
After he had shed tears for himself, he shed a few for the realization that the person holding his hand cared for him more than his parents did. At least that’s what it had seemed at that very moment in time. Even his mother left him there alone.
But this girl, unknown an hour before had shown him love and care and concern when he needed it most.
The thought had weighed heavily on his chest and caused more tears to fall.
He decided then that no matter what happened that night, he wanted her to continue holding his hand. If he died in the night, she would be there. And if he should wake, he wanted to see her sweet face bidding him a good morning.
He wanted to learn more about this sweet person who got out of her bed to comfort him. And after a few moments, Draco remembered what she said about his garden… thinking he was making it up when he spoke of his grandparent’s magical property.
“What do you know of magic?” He finally asked her.
When she only responded with talk of a coin hiding behind her ear and a card trick, Draco became very disappointed that if he survived, he wouldn’t be seeing her at Hogwarts. To his young mind, the hospital must’ve made a mistake in bringing her to the magical wing. Clearly, she was a Muggle.
As Draco blinked away the blurriness in his eyes, he sniffled a little.
“If you had magical powers, what would you do with them?” He asked with curiosity.
“Like super-human hero powers?” She paused as she could only think of one thing. “I would use them to stop bad people from hurting kids. What would you do?”
“Disappear.” He whispered. “To a place with no stairs.”
As young as she was, she knew what he was really talking about.
“My mum says that on your eighteenth birthday, you can leave your parents. Then you can find a new home… one with no stairs.”
Draco fought the urge to correct her. In the magical world the age was seventeen. But she knew nothing of the magical world.
“What is your name?”
“Hermione Jean Granger. What’s yours?”
But he never got the chance to tell her his name. The nurse had come in and quickly began scolding the girl for not being in her bed.
“If you are well enough to be up and walking about, then you are well enough to be returned to your parents. Go!” The nurse practically yelled at her.
Draco wanted to shout a protest at her leaving, but he was too weak. He was terrified of the thought of going through the night alone. He wanted her there.
But little Hermione abruptly dropped Draco’s hand and ran out of the room, hoping she had not been caught holding a boy’s hand. But just before she left, she turned to him at the door and said one last thing to a very sick boy.
“I’m sorry I have to go. I would’ve loved to have disappeared with you… to your magical garden.”
When she was out of site, Draco closed his eyes as the tears started again, repeating her name in his head hoping that he would remember it… hoping that by some unlikely miracle he would see the girl again whose tears that were shed for him were still shining on the back of his hand.
He wanted to hold hands with her again and take her to the garden someday so that she could experience it for herself… see the butterflies in flight, see the place behind the waterfall where he kept his treasure… and see that it wasn’t his imagination at all.
It was a real place… a place named Paradiso Nascosto.
That night, Draco fought sleep harder than he had his entire life for fear that he would never wake again. But after crying an ocean of quiet tears, his body became very weak. Every hour, every minute he could feel himself growing more and more weak, feeling as though life was indeed leaving him.
Desperately wishing the girl was there to hold his hand, he could no longer fight it.
He was slipping away, but just before he succumbed to unconsciousness, he heard someone enter his room.
The room was as black as the blackest night, but he recognized her presence immediately.
He mouthed the word, “Mother” in acknowledgement, but his voice was reduced to nothing but a silent breath.
Narcissa Malfoy was a proud woman, but she didn’t care what anyone thought or said about her that day.
After kneeling in the hospital’s chapel, praying and begging for her son’s life for hours, she finally made her way into her son’s hospital room and climbed into his bed.
She held him close to her, stroked his hair, and lovingly repeated the same words over and over again.
“I’m so sorry, baby. I’m so sorry.” She managed to say as she shed her own quiet tears for her son.
Draco didn’t want to, but he fell into the deepest of sleep, knowing that if he passed from life to death in the night, at least he wasn't completely alone. His mother was there… and she loved him.
The little girl had insisted that her parents allow her to visit him in the hospital. After falling short of a temper tantrum three days in a row, her parents finally succumbed to her persistent nagging.
But when they got to the hospital asking to see him, they couldn’t get anyone to speak of it.
“That’s confidential information.” A nurse said. “You are not family.”
But Hermione pleaded with the woman. “Please, nurse. Please tell me at least that he is okay. Can you tell me that? I’ll go crazy if I don’t know. He spoke of a magical garden and helped me. Please.”
She saw the nurse look up, but did not see the doctor behind her shaking his head no and giving the nurse a look of warning.
The nurse wanted to Obliviate the girl.
As it turned out, the Ministry was cracking down on anyone using magic on Muggles or Muggle-borns before their time. So thoughts of Obliviating her so that she would not remember the magical child was out of the question. They were not permitted to tell her or her parents that she was a Muggle-born witch either. She was too young.
It seemed lying was the best option.
The doctor took over the conversation. “Little girl," he said in a firm, commanding manner. "I’m afraid the boy in which you speak of died of his injuries. I’m sorry.”
She gasped in horror at the thought. “He… he… died?” She questioned in shock and horror as she began to hyper-ventilate. She didn’t know what to do except to run to her parent’s waiting arms.
She pleaded with them as her heart tore in her chest and gave her a pain that felt far worse than her broken arm.
Her parents watched as tears welled up so that she could no longer see. “Tell them they’re wrong. He isn’t d… d… dead. He isn’t. Tell them to double check, and check again. He can’t be. He just can’t.” She pleaded and begged with everything in her.
Her mother cried with her as Hermione’s little heart broke for a boy she barely knew.
“He told me of his… his magical garden.” She sobbed with tears flowing.
Her parents didn’t know what to do to comfort their heart-broken daughter except to say one thing.
Her father knelt down to her level and said, “Honey… your friend is now in the most beautiful garden ever created. He lives in Heaven now, sweetheart.”
She cried her heart out and buried her face into her father’s shoulder. He lovingly picked her up and the three of them sorrowfully made their way out of the hospital and back to their car.
She continued her crying all the way home and even after she stopped briefly to clean herself up for bed, she lie there thinking of a flock of butterflies, a bed of four-leaf clovers hidden behind a waterfall, and pathways that changed by the position of the moon.
But most of all, she wept for a boy whose father had hurt him.
“I’ve had broken bones before.” She recalled his voice saying.
She sobbed into her pillow hoping that her parents couldn’t hear her crying.
Thoughts of him being in Heaven finally calmed her down with the realization that he wasn’t suffering anymore… that his father could no longer hurt him up there in Heaven.
She could barely recall his face, even as she cried that night in her bed. She had only seen his face for a few short moments three days before.
But she never would forget him… never forget the love in her sad heart for the nameless boy that she barely knew… the boy who had known precisely what to say to take her pain away.
Her eyes stung and she couldn't stop her body from trembling. So she went back to his garden, imagining him taking her by the hand and leading her behind his waterfall to see what treasures he had gathered for safekeeping... and finally, little Hermione Granger managed to somehow fall asleep.
This piece was originally in the first chapter. But I realized that it was way too long and this first meeting deserved to be a chapter all on its own.
I added Narcissa praying for her son and climbing into his hospital bed with him and holding him… something I would’ve done as a mother in that situation.
Up next, there is a certain flower that has made its presence known in Hermione’s garden… reminding her of someone.
Please review. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me your thoughts.
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