AN: I don’t own anything from Harry Potter and the plot is based on the novel Blonde with a Wand, by Vicki Lewis Thompson.
She tore away the seal on the back of the letter and opened it up, with shaky fingers. Draco ducked around so he could see what it said as if he wanted to be the first to read it.
“What? It’s blank?” she said out loud confused. Flipping the sheet of parchment over back and forth. There was absolutely no writing on it. “Why would she send me a blank piece of paper? Surely you wouldn’t need magic to open it, I told her about my loss of magic.”
She took the letter into her living room trying to figure out what it had said or why it was blank. As she walked farther into the room she could have sworn she saw a hint of writing on the empty sheet. But as soon as it appeared it disappeared. Draco hopped up onto the coffee table apparently anxious to find out what was going on.
“I don’t know what is up with this. Clearly it’s enchanted I just have to figure out how to trigger it so it will reveal the letter she wrote.”
She started pacing back and forth willing the words to appear. She went over to the dining table so she could have better light to see with. When she reached the table it happened again, more words appeared. She started to read the beginning.
Then they disappeared again, she looked down at Draco who walked over towards her. Hum? I wonder… she turned and walked away from him and the words appeared, but when Draco started following her the words would disappear.
“Stay there Draco, I want to try something. Don’t move.”
She walked past him and quickly went to her bedroom and shut the door so he couldn’t get in. She glanced down at the parchment in her hand, and sure enough the contents of the letter were revealed.
My sincere apologies for the secretive way of conveying this message to you. As you know by now this letter is for your eyes only and Mr. Malfoy is to not know of what it contains. You are to not speak of what you read in here. The only way to break the spell is in him. He is the key. But he has to figure it out on his own. This is a very complicated spell you have ‘accidently’ put him under and it only works on those who deserve it. Since you two never got along while at school I’m assuming that this is his punishment for treating you so poorly when you did not deserve to be treated so back then. The spell must have detected that he needed to be taught a lesson. From what I know of this curse, Mr. Malfoy must perform good deeds, for other people and his environment around him. But it must be his doing and his doing alone. He can not be provoked or tricked into doing something good. So therefore you can not help him accomplish such things. You can only help him if it is a task that he simply can’t do by himself or if he asks you to help him. But keep in mind he needs to be the one doing most of the work, I don’t know for sure how many good deeds he needs to do in order for the spell to break, that all depends on him. Remember you cannot tell him any of this. If you don’t mind I’ll stop by tomorrow afternoon around one o’clock to discuss this in farther detail of what needs to be done. Make sure you’re in the room alone so Mr. Malfoy can’t hear what will be said.
She kept staring at the letter watching the words disappear once she finished reading it. She could hear Draco scratching at the door. So he’s the key, it’s up to him to break the curse? But he has to figure it out on his own. There was a knock on her door. Hermione froze. Who on earth could that be?
“Granger open up,” came a voice she knew all to well.
She put the blank parchment down and saw that it disintegrated into nothing the moment her hands left it. She walked to her door and opened it up, coming face to face with Draco...human Draco. Who apparently grabbed a bath towel from the guest bathroom and tied it around his waist to cover himself up with.
He gave her a look that expressed that he thought she was a complete genius for pointing out the obvious. Okay so apparently her mind had a problem of going completely blank when he was in the room walking around in only a towel.
“What did the letter say?”
“Well?” he said as he walked past her towards her closet where she kept his clothes.
She glanced at the clock, ten o’clock, two hours before midnight this time. Maybe since he found the mother cat earlier today and brought it to Hermione’s attention to help them, it must have been his good deed of the day. And the bigger the deed the more time he is allowed in human form until the curse is broken. But what caused him to change last night?
Just then Crookshanks strolled into the bedroom completely undisturbed of having a new person in the room; he carried that felt mouse of his in his mouth. He walked over to Draco and sat in front of his feet.
“Not now buddy, later okay?” he told Crookshanks.
Huh so Crookshanks knew that that was Draco the same Draco he knows as a cat.
“Hello? Granger are you listening to me?”
“Huh? Sorry what?” she glanced up snapping out of her thoughts and noticed that he was now wearing his pants but was still naked from the waist up.
“What was in the letter? What did McGonagall say?”
“Um…It’s…I can’t…she’s meeting me tomorrow to discuss the details.” She managed to say.
“So, she’s has the counter-spell? She knows how to break the spell?”
“Yes, but she won’t tell you what it is and I’m not allowed to say anything either.”
“Why the Hell not?” he raced towards her grabbing on to her shoulders and pining her to the wall.
“Please. I can’t tell you. That’s all I can say. Just wait until tomorrow when I talk to McGonagall and then she or I might be able to tell you more.”
He eased his grip a little bit but didn’t let go of her. He was really quite scary when he got mad and he was much bigger then her and stronger. Definitely not the skinny wimp he was back in third year when she punched him. And that thought scared her. He could easily hurt her if he wanted to. He must have seen the terror in her eyes for he let go of her completely and turned his back to her.
“Sorry,” he said quietly.
She let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding, “it’s okay. You have every right to be mad me right now. And if I could answer your questions I would. I want to break this curse just as much as you do. But I just can’t tell you.”
He took a deep breath in and let it out; she noticed that he seem to relax a bit with that.
“It’s ten o’clock which means I probably only have a little less then four hours before I change back.”
“So you think it has something to do with midnight as well?”
“I don’t know, I guess? Last night I changed ten til midnight, and changed back ten after. Now its two hours til midnight so I’m guessing it will be two o’clock when I turn back into…” he looked down at Crookshanks.
“A cat.” She finished for him. “Do…Do you ever think you’ll forgive me for doing this to you?”
He let out a breath. “I don’t know…” he took in another breath and let it out. “Let’s just break the curse first then I’ll let you know.”
“That seems fair. And we will break the curse, we’ll find a way. I won’t let you live the rest of your life like this.” She reassured him for what felt like the millionth time, and in away she was reassuring herself as well.
What was she going to do with him for the next four hours? “Um, do you need anything right now? Something to eat or drink?” Merlin why was she so intimidated by him, all she ever used to be around him was either annoyed or pissed off. “Or you can leave. I mean you don’t have to stay here if you don’t want to. I don’t want to make you feel like a prisoner here. It’s up to you.” She didn’t want him to leave, but she couldn’t make him stay either.
He didn’t answer right away, just finished buttoning up his shirt that he put on. “I think I’ll stay, if that’s okay?” he sounded unsure, like he was the one who was afraid that she would kick him out or something. “I don’t want the risk of not knowing for sure when and where I’ll change back, at least not until I’m sure of the time limitations.”
“Okay, is there anything I can do for you? I mean I never asked if you had pets or anything else back home that needed taken care of.”
“No pets and I have a house elf Smitty who takes care of all the housework.”
“Oh, of course you do.” She remembered that Dobby was a house elf for the Malfoy’s before Harry helped free him from his enslavement. And she remembered how badly treated he was there. She could only hope that Draco wasn’t so cruel.
As if Draco sensed her thoughts he turned to her and looked her in the eye, “I’m not my father,” he said in a low voice. “I make sure Smitty is taken very good care of. He’s been with me since I was a baby.”
“Okay,” was all she could say under the heat of his stare.
She broke eye contact and started to move out of the bedroom, a place that was beginning to feel way to intimate for her liking. He followed her out into the living room not saying anything. Probably lost in his own thoughts just as she was. With him being human, her already tiny apartment only seemed to get smaller and smaller with him occupying the space. Now what was she suppose to do? Going to bed would be pointless and she wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway knowing he would be in the other room very much human.
“So what did you want to do, um for the time being?”
He plopped down onto her sofa and shrugged his shoulders, “I guess wait it out and see what happens.”
“For four hours?”
“Do you have something better in mind to occupy the time?” he smirked at her with a teasing stare.
To her embarrassment she could feel the blush creepy up her cheeks. Pretty much letting him know that she knew what he was implying with that comment.
“In your dreams Malfoy.”
He chuckled low at that. “Eh it was worth a try.” He said flipping on her Television like he owned the place.
“Um so do you want anything to eat or drink?” she knew she was repeating herself for she already asked him that once before.
“You don’t have to wait on me hand and foot Granger, even though the thought of you catering to my every whim is pleasing. I can take care of myself. I’ve been here long enough to figure out where everything is and your anxiousness is making me anxious so just stop and relax, your too tense. The sooner you relax the quicker the time will go and before you know it I’ll a cat again, one who doesn’t talk back.”
“I guess that’s a perk to all of this.” She said in a teasing tone. “Well still I’m going to the kitchen do you want anything?”
“You don’t happen to have any ice cream do you?”
“Ha ha yeah I think I do,” she replied chuckling.
“What’s do funny?”
She stopped right away when he caught her laughing. “Nothing I guess I wasn’t expecting that from you, you just don’t seem like the ice cream type.”
“Oh? And what type do I look like?” he said smirking at her daring her to answer him.
“I don’t know something classier like…” she tried to think of some dessert that someone as ‘superior’ as himself would like. “Crème burlee or tiramisu?”
“Ha ha, yeah well those are both delicious, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for good old fashion plain ice cream.”
“Okay, I’m going to make some tea as well, would you like some?”
“Sure,” he said as he watched her walk into the kitchen.
Merlin he needed to do a serious mental check on his emotions. He was all over the place. First he was nervous about what the letter said, and then he was angry when he found out that she couldn’t tell him anything to the point where he almost hurt her. He could see the terror in her eyes when he backed her up against the wall in the bedroom. He was not his father; he didn’t beat up women when they did something he didn’t like. Then he was ashamed of himself that he couldn’t even look her in the eye after that. And then when she mentioned about it being okay if he left, he didn’t want to, because quite frankly the thought of him leaving with a strong possibility of him changing at any given minute terrified him. And he didn’t want to be stranded in the streets of London, not again. And now he was relaxed enough that he was teasing Hermione to the point where he could tell he was making her nervous which of course only made him want to tease her more.
He wondered why he changed back so early this time. What caused him to do that? He didn’t drink the nasty potion today. Maybe the curse was only temporary and it would ware off completely in the next couple days. No that can’t be it, because the first day when Hermione and Ginny were looking over the spell book it said the curse was permanent unless she changed him back in the first ten minutes of him changing into a cat. Why wouldn’t McGonagall tell him what it would take to break it? Was it something he had to figure out on his own?
He could hear Hermione in the kitchen gathering everything. He scented her the moment she walked out. Funny that he still had some lingering cat senses when he was human. Or maybe it was just Hermione. Maybe she always smelled that good?
“Do you need help with that?” he stood up and headed towards her as she almost dropped a tea cup on the ground as she juggled everything in her arms.
“Thanks,” she said as he grabbed the tea cups and tea kettle as she still held the bowls of ice cream.
He walked back over to the sofa and set the kettle and cups on the coffee table and poured the tea into the cups as she handed him his ice cream.
“This isn’t going to kill me or make me sick is it?” he said half jokingly but also half serious.
“What?” she asked confused.
“It’s chocolate. You told me the first night that I couldn’t lick myself because I was covered in chocolate and cats are allergic to chocolate. So therefore you had to give me a bath to wash it all off.” He said with a wink.
“Um, I think you’ll be fine.” She said not looking at him.
She already knew her face was bright red so there was no use hiding it. Oh god, he had to bring up the bath. Of course it was completely harmless and innocent but hearing him say it out loud put a whole new perspective on it. Sometimes she forgets that he really is Draco Malfoy even though he looks like a cat, it’s still him on the inside.
She decided to change the subject, “what are you watching?”
He shrugged, “I don’t know, I think its called Shark week? It’s…interesting.”
“Ha ha yeah, it’s apparently very popular in America, I’m not sure why, but people seem to go crazy when it’s on.” She said as she settled in on the opposite corner of the sofa from Draco.
“Well it is intriguing.”
“Mm,” she nodded as she took a bite of ice cream.
While watching a documentary on Great Whites, the silence between them, should have been awkward but it wasn’t, it was…comforting? They should have had a million things to talk about but neither one really seemed to be in the talking mood. Crookshanks took that moment to jump on the sofa by Hermione. He walked across her lap heading towards Draco. Hermione reached out to pet him but he was too fast for her. Before she knew it he was in Draco’s lap purring adoringly up at him.
“Ha ha I think you have a friend for life there.”
“Yeah we’re good buddies now.” He said as he scratched Crookshanks under the chin.
“Well he must really like you. He never takes very well to strangers, especially male strangers.”
“We’re not strangers, well not anymore obviously…Do you have a lot of strange men that you bring home to meet Crookshanks?” he asked teasingly but he was bizarrely anxious to hear what her answer would be.
“No, not really except for Harry and Ron and well I guess there have been a couple men I’ve brought over.”
He let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding and what he didn’t expect was the wave of jealously he felt when hearing about the other men in her life.
“What? Why do you look mad all of a sudden?”
“Nothing, I just didn’t expect you to be the kind of girl to bring men to your home.”
She looked at him as if he grew horns, “Well first off you asked, and second what is that supposed to mean? I’m not a nun and even though you might find me repulsive doesn’t mean that every male out does too.” She replied trying to keep her temper at bay.
“Sorry, that’s not what I meant; I meant that you didn’t seem like the girl, woman to bring a guy over unless it was serious. I didn’t mean to insult you or anything.”
As if Crookshanks sensed the tension between them. He got off Draco’s lap and stepped down between them rolling onto his back as if asking someone to scratch his belly. They both reached for him at the same time and their hands collided with each other. They both pulled back as if they’ve been shocked.
“Sorry,” they both said at the same time.
Draco starting scratching under Crookshanks chin again as Hermione scratched his belly. And Crookshanks was in kitty heaven.
“You’re so spoiled” she muttered to him.
Draco cleared his throat. “So, uh whatever happened with you and Weasley. Weren’t you two a couple at one point?”
She snorted, “I guess you could say that. During 7th year we were kind of together but I don’t know it just got weird. It was like snogging my brother. We mutually decided just to be friends and nothing more.”
“Mm” was all he said to that.
After that they fell back into the oddly comfortable silence again. The only sounds in the room were the TV which was almost to low to hear over Crookshanks purring. Once the show that they were watching was over Hermione reached over to grab their dishes.
“Here let me help with those.” He said as he reached over to grab the now empty tea kettle.
She was about to tell him not to worry about it, but then she remember what he was supposed to do to become human again so she let him help. They carried the dishes to the kitchen. He set the dishes in the sink.
“How about I wash, you dry?” he asked.
She didn’t want to tell him she had a dishwasher right next to him so he didn’t need to even offer, but she let it pass and actually thought it was sweet that he offered in the first place. Now Draco and sweet was something that she never thought she’d use together when describing him.
“Okay,” she said as she handed him the dirty bowls.
She watched in amazement as he rolled up his sleeves and started washing the dishes.
“What?” he asked not taking his eyes off his task.
“Nothing, I just never thought I see the day when the Draco Malfoy is washing dishes.”
“Well don’t look so shocked. I’ve washed dishes before.”
“Really?” she asked not believing him. “Didn’t you have servants growing up?”
“Well yeah, but I live by myself now so I have to fend for myself.” He said handing her a clean bowl to dry.
“Yeah with a house elf to help.” She reminded him imitating his famous smirk.
“Okay, okay fine you win, but I’m still capable of doing a little house work every now and then.”
“Uh huh, I think you missed a spot.” She teased. “Hey!” she ducked when he splashed soapy water in her direction. “Okay I take it back.” she surrendered laughing as she wiped soapy suds from her shirt.
“Good,” he smirked. “You uh have some suds on your cheek.”
She wiped her cheek off. “Did I get it?”
“No the other side.” He said.
“Is it gone?”
He chuckled. “No, here let me,” he reached out and ran his finger down the length of her nose. “Got it.”
She tried her best not to flinch away when he touched her. She practically stopped breathing when his finger touched her skin. But she recovered quickly.
“That was my nose, not my cheek.”
“Oh, my mistake.” He smiled back at her then returned to the sink.
That jerk, he was just messing with her. So why was she smiling? She shook her head and reached up to open the cabinet to put the clean dishes away.
“Ouch! Damn-it!” she pulled her hand quickly away.
“What? What’s wrong?” he rushed over to her looking concerned.
“It’s nothing, just a splinter.”
“Let me see.” He reached out to her all teasing gone.
“No, really I’m fine.”
“Stop being stubborn, let me see.” He took her hand in his and looked at her palm where the splinter was. “It’s in there deep. Come on lets go into the living room and I’ll take care of it.”
“No really I can handle it.” He just ignored her and started pulling gently towards the living room.
“Sit,” he said as they reached the sofa. He waited for her to do as he said. “Please.” He added as he stuck out his bottom lip trying to give her the sad puppy dog look.
She let out a frustrated breath and did as he said; trying not to let him see that she was trying hard to fight back a smile. He sat next to her, so close their legs were touching, so close she could smell hints of his aftershave or maybe it was his cologne. She tried not to be affected by it but when he took her hand again it sent pleasant little tingling shivers up her arm. She wanted so desperately to lean in and snuggle closer to him and maybe lay her head on his shoulder.
“Ouch!” she flinched and tried to pull away.
“Sorry,” he looked over at her.
“I’m certified to do this, let me do this,” she tried to pull away again but he kept a hold of it.
“So what caused you to leave St. Mungos?” he asked clearly trying to distract her, but this was not something she wanted to talk about.
“Um, I just got tired of it is all.” She flinched again when he went back to work on her hand.
“Why do I get the feeling that you’re not telling the whole story?”
She shrugged, “It’s the truth.”
“So what happened?” he looked at her.
“Maybe it will help if you talk about it.” She flinched. “Don’t move.” He said.
“Why do you care anyway?” she said trying to avoid the subject.
“Just trying to make conversation…so?” he wasn’t giving up. “Did you always want to be a healer?”
“Yeah, well both my parents are dentists so I’ve always kind of been around medical people and facilities growing up. Then I found out about magic and Hogwarts and they have their own version of doctors and hospitals only they were better and more advanced, because you got to include magic and potions that muggle doctors would never think of. And I just knew I wanted to do that. So I worked as hard as I could and tried to learn as much as possible so I could excel and become a healer someday. But then…” she trailed off.
“What?” he asked quietly.
“The war happened and I doubted for a while if that’s what I wanted to do, but I did it anyway. I always loved helping people and the best way to do that is to help heal the sick and hurt. But I don’t know, I didn’t think it would affect me so much, seeing the hurt and dying. It just brought back to many awful memories of the war. But I just figured it would be something I would get over and just learn to block it out. I mean it’s your job as a healer to keep your emotions to yourself and not let those things get to you.”
He remained quiet, probably lost in his own thoughts about the war. Still working on her hand, “So what was the final straw that made you quit?” he asked.
He looked up at her; he could tell it was something bad for she had a sad look in her face and the hand he was holding started trembling.
“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but like I said it might help if you did.” She looked up at him clearly debating with herself whether or not she was going to tell him what happened.
She let out a shaky breath. “Um…I was always good at what I did, I never once made any errors ever.” She said quietly. “Then this one day…this mother brought in her son.” She took in a breath and continued. “He fell in a lake in their back yard and when she brought him in he was unconscious and was suffering from hypothermia.” She paused trying to keep hold of her emotions.
Draco removed the splinter in her hand a while ago before she started telling him the story, but he didn’t let go of her hand. He knew she needed comforting so he lightly moved his thumb in soothing circles along the inside of her wrist.
“I did everything I could think of to save him but…I was too late, he had too much water in his lungs and his brain was deprived of oxygen for too long.” She drew in another breath. “He was only four years old. He was so small. And the hardest part was having to tell his mother that I couldn’t save her little boy, not even with magic. It was probably one of the worst days of my life.”
“It wasn’t your fault Hermione.” He told her quietly, still not letting go of her hand. “You did everything you could, you can’t blame yourself.”
She nodded not looking at him. “I know.” She whispered.
He could see the unshed tears in her eyes. He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the center of her injured palm where the splinter had been.
She quickly turned to him, “What…what was that?” the sadness in her voice was replaced with shock.
He shrugged, “Just changing the subject.” He said smiling slightly.
She just looked at him unsure of his motives, then lightly pulled her hand away from her grasp and gave him a faint smile in returned. If he wasn’t looking at her face intently he would have missed it completely. Then she turned away.
She couldn’t believe she just told him all of that. She hasn’t even told Ginny the whole reason why she quit, so why did she tell him? She hasn’t thought of that awful night in over five months now and bringing it up again just made her realize that it was something she may never get over.
“So where did you get the idea to start a bookshop?” he asked.
Thankful for the change of subject she said, “It was completely on impulse. I was walking home from work and I past by the shop which recently went on sale. And I don’t know what came over me but I called the realtor and bought it on the spot, and then turned in my resignation papers the next day. It was probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done or the stupidest.”
“Nah, it suits you, you look completely in your element when you’re around books.”
Taken back by compliment she looked at him very aware of the fact that even though she removed her hand away from him. He never moved away from her.
“Thanks,” she replied.
“Are you happy there?”
She turned her head away but she could still feel him watching her. She looked up at him. “Yes I am,” she replied and realized she meant it.
He never took his eyes off her; she could feel him leaning in closer. He reached up with his hand and with his fingers grabbed a piece of her curly hair that fell across her cheek and tucked it behind her ear, then with the back of his fingers he slowly traced the contours of her cheek. She shivered at the touch and her lips parted ever so slightly as he leaned in closer never taking his eyes off her. His hand slipped into her hair and cupped the back of her head easing her closer towards him to meet him half way. She didn’t breathe afraid if she did she would come to her senses and ruin the moment. His lips lightly touched hers with a testing touch light and sweet. Then he added a little more pressure causing her to close her eyes to savor the moment, she would have never guessed that his lips would feel so soft against hers. He sucked in a breath and quickly pulled away.
“I…I have…to go.” He said as he jumped off the sofa.
She got up to, “What’s wrong?” she asked worried, was she a bad kisser? Did he come to his senses and realized he was kissing his enemy? Did she hurt him in some way?
She could see a light sheen of perspiration on his forehead. He backed into the kitchen, the swing door swinging shut behind him. She didn’t follow him. Minutes later he walked back out, he was once again a cat. Bringing her back to reality reminding her of the situation they were both in.
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