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Stray Cat



It had been nearly two years now. The Second War had been over for two years. Two years and the memories still haunted her.

“Ron! No, Ron, you have to wake up,” she had screamed in earnest. “You can’t leave me alone here, damn it!”

“Calm down,” said Harry, placing a soothing hand on her shoulder. “Calm down, Hermione. He’s gone.”

She had never cried that much before.

Looking back now, she was still sad. Her best friend and love of her life had died. It still bright tears to her eyes, but she had tried to move on. Everyone else had already moved on. It was difficult for her.

Harry and Ginny were currently dating and living in an apartment in Muggle London. Neville taught Herbology at Hogwarts, and he was the Head of the Gryffindor house and Deputy Headmaster, below Professor McGonagall. Luna was the editor of the Quibbler after her father’s recent demise. Seamus and Lavender were married, for reasons which escaped everyone else’s grasp. Dean was an Auror-in-Training and played soccer in his spare time. Parvati was working with Fred and George at the joke shop. The twins had had to rebuild after the war, but everything was in order. Bill and Fleur were happily married, and Bill’s wounds were almost healed, though they never fully would. Percy had returned home and currently lived with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.

After the Second War, Hermione had started working at the Daily Prophet, writing short, off-beat pieces that she had won several awards for. She lived in a small apartment in Liverpool alone. She rarely contacted any of her friends from Hogwarts. It reminded her too much of the war—and Ron’s death.

Besides, she didn’t want to ruin their happiness. Seeing Harry and Ginny so in love made her more miserable then she already was. She would have had that with Ron had he not died.

No, he didn’t just die—he was murdered. Murdered by a filthy Death Eater at that! And though she mostly blamed herself. If she had been there just a little bit sooner, she or Harry could have save him. But they hadn’t.

She loved Ron, yes, but she couldn’t think about him all the time. She needed something real—something she could fix. Something that needed her too. She was so lonely. She needed company.

Slowly, Hermione walked around her apartment and gathered up her shoes, she left to go to her office building.

However, once outside, her eyes landed upon a figure in the snow. Dirty but pale hair. Lean, muscular build. Black robes flailing in the wind and snow. She immediately recognized him as Draco Malfoy.

“Oh my god,” she whispered, rushing to his side, kneeling down on her knees. “What’s happened?”

His face was sickly, sunken-in, and coated with snow. He looked starving. His clothes were ragged.

Hermione dragged him inside to her apartment and placed him in her bed. She covered him with sheets and blankets, and put a hot washcloth over his forehead. Calling into work sick, she began to cook him chicken noodle soup, if ever he woke up. Deciding that she would take him into St. Mungo’s if he didn’t wake up by the evening, she watched over him.

Hermione’s thoughts turned to Draco Malfoy. It had been since the assassination of Professor Dumbledore that she had seen him. He had disappeared, as he was a wanted man, and no other trace linked him to Voldemort.

The trio had often wondered what had happened to Malfoy. Harry and Ron had wished him dead. They nearly had their wish.

It appeared as if he had been thrown out. Voldemort had probably punished for not murdering Dumbledore. That was her guess anyway.

Eventually growing bored with watching her previous enemy breathe, she drifted off to sleep. She was awoken, startled, by a groan from the bed.

Hermione saw the covers of her bed move. She jumped to her feet and removed the cloth from his forehead. She reheated the soup quickly and put some into a porcelain bowl, which she then took to his moaning form in her bed.

“Malfoy,” she coaxed in a hushed voice.

His eyes flickered open, and he furrowed his brow when his eyes landed upon her. “Granger?” His voice was hoarse and rough. He then went into a coughing fit.

“Calm down,” she said soothingly, patting his back gently.

Once finished, Malfoy looked up at her again. “Why are you here?” His voice was clearer. “Where am I?”

“Hush. Eat this.” She handed him the soup and bade him eat.

He ate begrudgingly.

In the meanwhile, she explained what she knew. “I found you on the street this morning several hours ago. You were unconscious, so I brought you inside to care for you.”

He considered this a moment before replying with a strained, “Thanks.”

“Well, you needed—need—help. You must rest and gain strength. Please stay here.”

“I’m wanted by the Ministry, you know.”

Hermione nodded. “Yes, I know that.”

“Attempted murder.”

“But you didn’t do it. Now be quiet and eat.” She sat down in her chair by the bed with a sigh.

Ron was gone now, but she still cherished his memory. She loved him, but now she had to start over. She couldn’t hang onto his memory forever. She needed to move on in her life.

And here, right in front of her, was one Draco Malfoy. Harry and Ron had hated him. He had insulted them and their friends, and he had tried to murder Dumbledore but backed out at the last minute. Did he really deserve her care? To live, even?

Hermione was somewhat at a loss. What would Ron say to her now? Had she betrayed him? Would he hate her? But, despite his faults, Malfoy would die if she didn’t do anything. Did he deserve to die? Would Ron hate her or be proud that she was finally doing something more with her life?

Malfoy needed help after all. He was a stray cat, lost and alone. But some stray cats can’t hold themselves up. They can’t be alone. Most cats are independent, but Malfoy was also human. Humans need to be with other people. They rely on love and care and all other emotions.

Could she help Malfoy? He had become cold and independent because of his father. Could he be helped? Was it even possible? Or was Lucius Malfoy’s work irreversible?

Nevertheless, she had to try. She would show him love and care, even if it was to no avail. She would protect him from the Ministry. She would love him like he had never known possible. She would help him turn from a stray cat to a house cat. She wouldn’t let him be alone anymore.

“Malfoy,” said Hermione quietly.

He looked up at her.

“You can stay here with me if you like,” she offered.

He nodded without word, not sure if he were agreeing or if he were just making sure that she knew he heard.

Hermione sighed, but this time in contentment. She was ready for a new adventure.

******

A/N: Alright, this is my most recent one-shot. It's nothing special. It didn't really turn out how I expected it to, but oh well. Please review.

~Token

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