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A/N: Ok, so I accidentally-ish made this chapter a little shorter than I would have liked. I can't really change it too much though cause there's a format I'm trying to stick to, so I'm going to leave it at its current length. The next chapters will be alot longer, promise! Thanks to everyone who's read/reviewed/favourited so far, and thanks again to accidental dreamer for my wonderful banner =] Enjoy!


CRASH!
A strangled shriek was all that escaped from Zafirah as the air was knocked from her lungs as she collided with the floor. Immediately a sharp pain shot down her spine putting her in agony from her head to her hips. Tears of pain obscured her vision. As if she hadn’t been winded enough by the impact she began to panic, convinced that she’d never been able to walk or even stand again, causing her breathing to become even more laboured. This, along with the furious pain was making her light-headed.

The fuzzy outline of an equally panicked Draco stumbled to her side and dropped to his knees. He placed a hand gently upon Zafirah’s hip. For a second she was outraged, here she was, in a crumpled heap and he was making a pass on her. What the hell was wrong with him? It took all her strength to bat his hand away from her.

“If you don’t let me touch you I won’t be able to help you,” he told her, the calmness in his voice audibly strained.

“Don’t need your help” She gasped through clenched teeth, immediately regretting the amount of oxygen that had caused her. Draco sighed heavily in frustration.

“If I don’t help you now you could end up with unfixable damage. And then we’d both get fired,” he argued impatiently. Had Zafirah’s eyes not already been squinted in pain she would have shot him the evilest glare she could muster. Half of her wanted to refuse any ‘help’ Draco had to offer, but the other half liked to be mobile.

 Reluctantly she let him replace his hand. She barely noticed his wand poking into her side, since she felt like she’d been hit by a truck and was drifting in and out of consciousness. What she did feel was a sudden cracking sensation, which rippled right the way down her spine. Momentarily, she thought he’d shattered each and every one of her vertebrae, but then she realised she was no longer in pain. Opening her eyes, she let air flood her lungs again and rubbed hey eyes dry. A concerned looking Draco hovered over her, silvery hair hanging in front of his face.

“Don’t move, you’ll throw your back off again,” he ordered, “I’m going to move you into the back room, ok?”

“Ok,” she agreed, hesitantly. Draco’s strong arms slid beneath her back and legs and he lifted her carefully into his grasp. As he stepped over the mess of objects left strewn on the floor she let her head loll onto his shoulder.

He smells so good she mused involuntarily, taking in his musky scent. Gingerly, he set her down upon one of the larger boxes near the back of the store room.

“Are you okay?” he asked softly. Zafirah just nodded, still a little dazed from her fall. “Ok, I’ll cover for you at the counter… Please don’t fall off the box”. She smiled slightly at his attempt of humour, though if she did fall off this box, well, she’d be pretty screwed. He turned and headed back to the door. Suddenly impulse invaded Zafirah’s mind.

“Draco,” she called. He turned questioningly. “Thanks,” she breathed. He nodded flashing her the tiniest of smiles, then proceeded to the front room.

Wow she thought fuzzily, letting her eyes come to rest on the ceiling where the fire projected a band of dancing lights. As if she hadn’t been befuddled enough by Draco’s earlier civil manner, now she was simply baffled. The confusion wasn’t helping the state of her head either, the dizziness dwelling nauseatingly.

It seemed like a fair while that she lay there pondering over the boy in the next room. She had the facts: He had been a jerk all through school, she couldn’t stand him and he couldn’t stand her. They had had a mutual loathing. That had been far too long a time to overlook. But now, mere months later, he wasn’t showing a shadow of his old self. He had been polite, though she wasn’t willing to forgive him just due to that, but now, he’d rescued her from possibly being paralyzed from the neck down.

Part of her wanted to forgive and forget their past, start anew as adults, but another part of her still hated the slimy worm and kept repeating the excuse that he was just having an off day. Still she couldn’t imagine herself letting someone suffer like she could have, just because she was having an off day, so why would Draco do the opposite if he really hadn’t changed?

All this speculating served no purpose other than give her a headache. It was impossible by just observing to decipher his whole personality. She wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt considering she was going to be in close proximity to hi for months at least but at the same time she couldn’t start trusting him just yet.

She quickly lost track of the amount of time she’d been lying recovering, but it was long enough for her dizziness to be subdued. Just as she was considering testing her legs out she heard a faint pop from the front room, and the instant explosion of Ms Hamlett’s raised voice. There were a few minutes of angry screeching  before, to Zafirah’s immense displeasure, Ms Hamlett burst into the back room and rushed to her side. Fortunately she didn’t look as though she was rearing to repeat her outburst at Draco to Zafirah.

“Zafirah, are you alright?” she fretted, a hint of sympathy in her voice, to Zafirah’s surprise.

“I think so,” she replied weakly.

“Can you stand?” Shakily, Zafirah turned so that her feet touched the ground and pushed herself carefully to standing. To her content, she found herself perfectly capable of both standing and walking. Draco really had fixed her.

“Good,” clucked Ms Hamlett, reverting to her usual austere tone, “Back to work.” With that she spun and stormed to the door. “Malfoy! Back in here now!” she snapped. When she seemed satisfied that he was obeying she turned on the stop and disapparated with another loud pop. At the door, Zafirah stood aside to let Draco pass.

“How’s the back?” he urged, looking worried.

“Fine now, thanks again” she assured him, deeming a smile appropriate for now.

“Honestly, it was my fault. I’m sorry.” He seemed uncharacteristically sincere. There was something in his eyes, something hiding behind the dull grey, that once glinted with mischief. It was something like pain, she couldn’t help but thinking. It was something she couldn’t take her own dark grey eyes off of.

It took her considerable effort to break her stare and she focused intently on a scuff on the toe of her shoe.

“How do you think she knew something happened?” She wondered aloud, allowing her eyes to rest comfortably on Draco’s nose.

“She’s probably got eyes in the dust bunnies,” he scoffed, finally betraying a little smirk. She giggled at that, mostly because he was probably completely right. She couldn’t help noticing a meek look of surprise across his face as she had laughed however.

Wonder what that’s about


“Well… we better get back to work I guess,” she sighed. He nodded slowly and without another word, returned to work. It was a bit odd, thought Zafirah as she wandered into the front room, how he’d gone suddenly from joking to distant. Needless to say this didn’t help with her deciphering of his state of mind.

In a way she was kicking herself too, for even wasting her time thinking about him. If she was going to find out what he was like now, then she was going to find out, and that was that. If she wasn’t, she wasn’t. That was one habit Zafirah hated, how she would spend fruitless hours trying to figure out the inner workings of someone’s head when deep down she knew it was utterly useless.

Nevertheless she spent the remaining five hours of work until Ms. Hamlett arrived to relieve them of their duties mulling over Draco. It wasn’t like she had anything better to do anyway…

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