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Welcome back, you guys! :D Happy New Year and well, belated Merry Christmas. Enjoy this one after a long long wait xx


"I should've said all the things
That I kept inside of me
And maybe I could've made you believe
That what we had was all we'd ever need"

-All We'd Ever Need, Lady Antebellum.

(1st March, Wednesday)

"Excuse me, Professor Longbottom but may I please have a word with Miss Thomas?" Mcgonagall asked, stepping into the Herbology greenhouse.

Stella turned around and looked at the Headmistress and she was filled with a feeling of dread at the expression on Mcgonagall's face.

"You are excused, Miss Thomas." Neville nodded at Stella and the fourteen year old stood up and walked to the back of the greenhouse, towards the older lady.

"Yes, Headmistress?" She asked, once outside. She really didn't want to know the answer. It didn't look good at all.

"I'm sorry to be the one telling you this, Stella dear, but it's your brother..."

Stella's jaw dropped open and tears rose to her eyes instantly. "No..." She breathed. "Is he-"

Mcgonagall shook her head and placed her hand on the younger girl's shoulder comfortingly. "No, dear. He was found in a classroom thanks to the charms we placed on him. He's in the hospital wing..." Stella released a shuddering breath and brought her hand to her mouth, trying to hold back the sob threatening to escape the premises of her throat.

"He is alright. We got to him in time." Mcgonagall reassured her.

"If you hadn't..." Stella said, shaking her head, not wanting to even think about it.

Inside the greenhouse, two heads were turned in the direction of where the conversation outside was taking place.

"Mister Potter, Mister Zabini- if you could pay attention to the front of the class rather than the back, it would be much appreciated." Neville's voice rang out, causing James and Drake to turn back around.

Stella returned to her seat a minute later, her face pale and fighting tears. The boys once again had their eyes trained on her and Stacey, who was seated beside her, looked at her worriedly. It was a Griffindor- Slytherin class and they had sat next to each other when no other seat was available. Scorpius was sitting beside Drake and James beside Rose.

They were soon given a task and set out completing it immediately. The fifth time Stella got bitten by her plant while she stared into space, Stacey sighed, stood up and went over to Neville. After exchanging a few words with him, she returned to her seat and held her hand out to Stella, who looked up at her puzzled.

"Let's go to the toilet, shall we?" The Slytherin asked in a mumble. Stacey wasn't exactly known to be entirely friendly with Griffindors, choosing to keep with her Slytherins and well, a certain Hufflepuff. Stella hesitated a second before swallowing hard and taking the outstretched hand.

The raven haired girl lead Stella out of the greenhouse, into the castle and straight to the nearest girls' bathroom. She stood Stella in front of the sink and said, "Wash your face, Thomas."

the other girl didn't do what she said. She stared at herself through the mirror for a few long seconds before her face scrunched up and she collapsed to the floor, her head in her hands. Stacey looked around uncomfortably. What was she to do now?

So she stood there, continuing to look around until the sobs coming from Stella Thomas subsided and she stopped shaking as much. Stacey then proceeded in taking out her unused handkerchief from her pocket and handing it to the girl on the floor. Stella accepted it and wiped her eyes and nose, the latter of which made Stacey cringe a bit.

The tearful Griffindor looked up and spoke in a cracked voice. "Will you come with me to the Hospital Wing?" To say that Stacey was taken aback would have been an understatement. She was shocked and did little to hide the fact. Her eyebrows shot up into her fringe and her jaw dropped open slightly.

"Im sorry, what?" She asked.

Stella bit her lower lip and shook her head, standing up shakily. "No, I'm sorry. That was s-silly of me. I just need t-to go and I can't be there alone but it's my- Im sorry, Ill just-"

Stacey rolled her eyes. "Look, if it's that big a deal, I'll come with you." Stella stared at her.

"Really? Just like that?"

"Uh- yeah..." Stacey said. Stella nodded slowly before headed outside and starting towards the Infirmary. Half way through the journey, Stacey asked, "Are you hurt? Why are we going to the Infirmary?"

"I need to meet someone." Stella mumbled and had the corridor not been deserted and pin-drop silent, Stacey wouldnt have heard her.

The rest of the trip was made in silence. When they arrived in front of the Infirmary doors, Stella pushed them open and their eyes landed on Madam Pomfrey, who had just pulled shut the curtain around a bed.

"Ah, Miss Thomas. He was just asking whether you... knew." The old woman asked, gesturing to the bed on her left that was now covered.

"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey." Stella said. Pomfrey nodded and returned to her office while Stella moved forward. She came to a stop in front of the partition and pulled apart the curtains softly.

Tears rose to her eyes instantly and she sat down at the edge of the bed, beside the figure. The boy on the bed was about eleven and had messy brown hair and a pale complexion. He felt the dip of the mattress and opened his eyes, training them on Stella. He smiled weakly.

"Hey, Stell." He said. One of his arms were wrapped in a bandage and he extended his free hand to her. She grasped it tightly, trying to blink back her tears.

"Hey, Troy." Stella said, smiling back sadly. "How do you feel?"

Stacey had inched closer, more because she was curious than because she cared. She wasn't the type to go around telling people what she was seeing but she needed to know what had made the brave Griffindor break down like she did.

"Like shit." The boy, Troy, said. "How did you... find out?"

"Headmistress came and told me."

"So you brought a friend?" Troy gestured towards Stacey, who suddenly grew uncomfortable yet again.

"Why did you do it?" Stella asked, ignoring his question. Troy looked down at his bandaged arm and Stacey did too. What was going on? Stella suddenly grew frantic. Tears that she was holding back broke free and rolled down her cheeks. "Troy, you know how scared I get! Why don't you just stop! What's wrong with you?! What if you had- dammit, Troy! Cant you see how this is hurting me? Hurting mom and dad?!"

"Mom and dad don't give a shit!" Troy cried, his face in a snarl.

"That isn't true! They love you!" Stella said, her shoulders shaking with sobs. Stacey didn't know what to do. Was she to stay? Was she to leave and give them their privacy?

"I don't even know why they took me in!" The young boy said. "I was old enough to know!"

"Clearly you weren't!" Stella shook her head, "Look at how you're taking it!"

"You don't know how it feels!" Troy said, wrenching his hand away from her's. "You have a perfect life with a perfect family and great friends! You don't know what its like to be hurt! You'll never understand! Who knows?! This whole thing about caring might be a pretense!"

Stella stumbled off the bed and straightened herself, shock etched on to her face. It then contorted into anger. "You don't know shit. I can't believe you..." She spun on her heel and sprinted out of the infirmary. Troy moved his gaze to Stacey and they looked at each other.

"What're you looking at?" He spat.

She hesitated for a second before saying, "I don't know whats going on and how you're feeling but her love and care for you is most definitely not a pretense." With that, she nodded at the younger boy and left the hospital wing.

* * *

Hayley bounded down the stairs at full speed and spotted Pansy sitting on the couch, reading a book. She flopped down beside her sister and Pansy put the book aside, amusement on her face. She raised an eyebrow.

Hayley handed her a pamphlet in response. Pansy's attention was immediately drawn to the title of the pamphlet. "Speak without speaking."

She looked up at Hayley, confusion in her eyes. Hayley gestured for her to open it. She did. Her eyes widened as she read on and a lump formed in her throat.

Just then, Blaise entered through the fireplace and as he brushed himself down, he took in the scene in front of him. "What's going on?"

Hayley looked up and smiled slightly. "St. Mungo's has developed this procedure where someone who is incapable of speaking or hearing can do so through their minds. It's kind of like Legillamency and occlumency except much more open. There's a trial next monday and they're looking for volunteers."

"How does it work?" Blaise asked, taking a seat on the armchair adjacent to the sofa.

"It's this potion you take. It goes to your mind and the person you want to speak to, you can project your thoughts into their head and if they want to respond, they can do the same but they don't need to take the potion. It basically brings down the walls of your mind completely to allow you to project your words to others and allow others to project their words to you. You speak without speaking." Hayley explained.

"You said it's a potion?" Blaise asked and she nodded. "Aren't there side effects? And you said its a trial, what if it doesn't work?"

"That's why its a trial. They're not sure about the side effects. It won't cause death, for sure. But they need volunteers to see how effective it is."

"Is it safe to ask your sister?" Blaise asked, glancing at Pansy, who was scanning the pamphlet, a spark of hope ignited in her eyes. "What if it doesn't work? Is it right to bring her hopes up like that?"

"It's her choice..." Hayley said. "Im not going to take this opportunity away from her. And she's intelligent. She'll know she shouldn't keep her hopes up."

They waited for Pansy to finish reading and when she did, she passed it to Blaise, looked at Hayley and then hugged her sister tightly.

When they split apart, Hayley sent her a questioning look as if to ask 'Will you do it?' Pansy nodded, smiling slightly.

"Okay." Hayley nodded. She stood up to go collect her things for work. "Blaise?" The dark eyed man turned to her. "Would you mind staying here for the evening?"

"Getting off work late?" He asked.

"Well... uh, no. Somebody from work asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner with him, so-"

"Ah, it's a him. So a date." He raised an eyebrow.

"It's- well, I didn't mean to be insensitive towards anybody during this time but- I haven't quite been out- I mean-" She stammered, trying to feel less guilty about the situation. Things were difficult and going out to do something fun while the others weren't doing so well seemed insensitive to her on her part. She didn't want Blaise thinking the same...

"Hey, relax. I get it. It's okay." Blaise said, smiling slightly. "It's been five months. You... we... can't keep living like this. It's good that you have a date. Go out and enjoy. I'll stay here."

"Thank you, Blaise. Really." She said, fidgeting with her fingers and looking anywhere but at him. "I've just put my entire life on hold for the past months months and I need a small change..."

"Don't worry about it." Blaise said. "Just have fun." While Hayley collected her coat and robes from the kitchen table where she had left it, he asked, "So who is this guy?"

"Dane Evermare." Hayley said, a smile on her face. "He works in the floor above mine and we've been talking a lot recently and he finally asked me out so I said yes. We're going to Finch's Inn."

"Judging by the smile on your face, you were waiting ages for this, weren't you?" Blaise smirked, turning in his seat. Pansy knew who she was talking about and smiled at her. When Hayley didn't answer and blushed, he turned to her older sister. "She has, hasn't she?" Pansy nodded, her smiling wider.

"You like him?"

"Quite a bit." Hayley said softly, tucking her hair behind her ear and then knotting the rest into a bun.

"How old is he? Is he good looking enough? He must be if you chose him."

"You need to mind your business." Hayley laughed, heading for the sofa. She kissed her sister on the cheek and then went to the fireplace. "I'll see you both later tonight or tomorrow."

"Be home by nine thirty." Blaise joked.

"Yes, father." Hayley rolled her eyes before flooing away.

* * *

"Hermione, are you sure you're okay with this?" Irene asked Hermione as they sat together in the visiting room that morning.

"Yes, Irene, I am." Hermione nodded. "Don't worry, alright? It's just another mission."

"It's not just another mission... Well, it is. But it's with someone who you aren't comfortable with."

"Its not that Im uncomfortable with him, Irene. It's just awkward. But I think we've made progress. It isn't suffocatingly awkward anymore..." Hermione said. "Which really is progress."

Irene sighed. "If you insist. Look, there really isn't anything holding you down here. You can step out- they'll find a replacement."

"When have I ever stepped out of a mission?" The brown haired witch smiled. "Hows Rowen?"

"No improvement yet..." She said, shaking her head. "This is horrid. It's been days! If it wasn't for Draco and what he did-"

"What did he do?" Hermione asked, curious.

"They were asking for a higher payment as they were going on to more expensive procedures. I didn't quite have the cash then so he payed for me."

"Oh, Irene! Why didn't you say anything? We would've helped you!"

"You know I hate asking for help like that, Hermione..." Irene said, looking anywhere but at her. "I said I would pay him back as soon as I could. But this is getting difficult."

"Just ask me anytime you need money, Irene. You know you can."

"I know, Hermione. But Im like you, that way. I don't ask for money."

Hermione nodded at this, understanding what she meant. "But really, if it get's impossible- do ask. I'll be more than willing to help you. How much are they asking for?"

"Right now, a little over 4 thousand." Irene whispered.

"For the entire operation?"

"Per day."

Hermione gasped. "That's an unbelievable amount! Have you spoken to them?"

"They wont listen." Irene said, tears rising to her eyes for the nth time that week. "I've already spent over ten thousand galleons and that's almost fourteen months of pay for me."

"And the recent amount?"

"The hiked it up to 6 thousand which Draco payed for me." She said in a small voice. "I feel terrible."

"That was... amazing of him." Hermione said, feeling a lump in her throat. It was so like Draco... "Don't feel guilty about it, Irene. We all have sons. We wouldn't allow anything to happen to yours." She glanced at her watch. "I'll come to have dinner with you today, alright? It's extremely unhealthy of you to stay in here the entire day and night. I have to leave now, I'm sorry."

"It's good enough that you're coming here everyday for me, Hermione. I can't thank you enough."

"You don't have to, love." She hugged Irene and stood up. "Ill come back soon, okay? Take care."

"You too."

Hermione left and just as she was about to step into the floo, she stopped and returned to the reception.

"I was wondering where Lucius Malfoy is?" She asked. The receptionist asked for her confirmation and proceeded in giving her directions. Hermione headed for the room and upon reaching, she knocked twice and opened it when she heard a soft "come in."

She was met with the sight of Lucius sitting in bed, his head wrapped in a bandage and Narcissa sitting by his side. Their eyebrows shot up in surprise and Narcissa stood up.

"Please, sit down, Mrs. Malfoy." Hermione smiled, stepping into the room.

"Just because we haven't met in half a year, doesn't mean you go back to calling me Mrs.Malfoy, Hermione." Narcissa scolded lightly. "Darling, how've you been?" She sat back down.

"I've been fine." Hermione said but her face eyes spoke otherwise. "D-Draco told me about your incident, Lucius. It was horrible! How do you feel?"

"Im much better, Ms.Granger." Lucius said, sitting up straighter. "I must say, it's rather a pleasant surprise to see you here."

"I was just here to meet my friend-"

"Irene Knight, isn't it?" Narcissa asked.

"Yes, her. I was about to leave when I thought of meeting you both."

"You may have been there for only a few days but the Manor misses you," Narcissa said, smiling sadly. "Will you come to visit us sometime?"

Hermione felt uncomfortable at the prospect of visiting the manor. "I- I'll try. It's just-"

"We understand." Lucius said before she could stammer any further.

"Uh... Anyway, I actually had to get to work- I just dropped in for a minute to see you both." She said. "It was nice seeing you again."

"It was lovely seeing you, my dear. I hope we can see you again soon." Narcissa smiled, standing up to embrace the younger witch.

"Thank you for coming, Miss Granger." Lucius nodded at her. She smiled at them before leaving, finally allowing herself to relax once she was outside. It's not that she felt uncomfortable. It was the memories from the Manor that they reminded her of. Her time as Adriana Malfoy. Her time in Narcissa's gown. Her time dancing with-

No. She shook her head. She couldn't go down that memory lane.

* * *

"I'm sorry."

Stacey looked up and raised an eyebrow at Drake, who was standing in across her on the other side of the common room coffee table. She was seated on the floor and was in the middle of doing her potions essay.

"I didn't quite catch that." She said, her lips in a firm line.

"I said Im sorry. I acted-"

"Irrationally? Stupidly? Illogically?" She suggested.

"Yes. And Im sorry."

"I don't want an apology, Drake." She shook her head. "I want to know that the next time you see me talk to Lysander, you won't go around making comments that are completely unfair."

Drake ran a hand through his dark hair. "Stace-"

She stood up, her hands crossed over her chest. "No, Drake. I'm serious. Im friends with him and if you truly are my best friend, you'll understand that and accept it. For my sake."

He squeezed his eyes shut.

"I dont understand," She said softly. "You're Albus' friend. He's in love with Matilda and you don't have a problem with that."

"You're in love with him?!" Drake asked, his eyes flying open and widening to the size of dinner plates.

"No!" She exclaimed and he relaxed. "Im saying that if you can accept Albus liking Matilda, why can't you accept me being friends with Lysander?"

"Are you guys just friends?" He asked. "Im serious."

"Yes." Stacey nodded.

"You don't like him then?" Drake asked.

She didn't understand why she hesitated for a split second. She didn't understand why while she said a confident "No" she didn't feel as confident inside.

"Okay..." Drake nodded slowly. "Then I will try being more accepting. I will be the best friend that I have failed to be recently." All thoughts of Lysander flew out of her mind momentarily as she threw herself at him, hugging him tightly. He smiled softly and hugged her back.

"Thanks for the invite." A voice spoke up to their left and they turned towards it to see Scorpius leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest, smirking. Stacey laughed and held her free arm out, asking him to come over to them. He stepped over and joint in the group hug, holding his friend tightly and hoping nothing changed, though knowing that it was not likely that it wouldnt...

* * *

Blaise stared at the TV screen without registering what was going on. He was sitting on one side of Pansy on her sofa, Theodore Nott on her other side. He had just come in from Italy that evening for a vacation and to meet the few of them.

Blaise's eyes moved to the wall clock on his left beside the bookshelf. 11:30. It was late. Really late. She still hadn't returned from her date. She said she would. It was completely unlike her to go out and not return for the night. She'd never leave Pansy just like that. She would have informed one of them...

"Theo, I need to go check on someone- could you stay here for a bit until I get back?" He asked, getting to his feet. Theo and Pansy looked up at him.

"Sure, mate. Is it Hayley?" Theo asked. Blaise nodded. He bent down and kissed Pansy's cheek before heading outside to apparate.

"I'll see you in a bit. Don't go anywhere," Blaise said before turning and apparating away to near Finch's Inn. He cursed as he realized that it was raining heavily and he squinted through the downpour, making his way to the Restaurant. As he got closer, he noticed a figure sitting on the bench outside the Inn, the figure's knees hugged close to her. He got closer to her and recognized her immediately, her black hair plastered to her cheeks and forehead, her blue dress completely soaked.

"What is wrong with you, Hayley?!" Blaise yelled over the sound of the rain. Her head snapped up and she was about to open her mouth when he strode forward, grabbed her arm and pulled her to the nearest sheltered area, the front porch of the Inn. "Are you freaking mad?! How long have you been there?!" She just stared at him and he took in her appearance. Her make-up was ruined- her eyeliner the most prominent as it was running down her cheeks and smudged around her eyes. She was completely soaked, her dress clinging to her as she shivered.

"What the hell happened?" Blaise asked, angrily. "Do you know what time it is?! This is so irresponsible of you!" She just stared at him before squeezing her eyes shut. Twin tears rolled down her cheeks and his expression softened a bit. "Hayley... Did- did Dane not drop you home?" She shook her head. "He just... left?" She shook her head again. "Then?"

She opened her tear-filled eyes and looked up at him. "I landed up here on t-time. He wasn't there. So I went back to the hospital. Found him talking to a bunch of people about how-how I was probably waiting for him. And then- and then he laughed. The end. That's it. He stood me up. He wasn't even- even going to come in the first place!" She said, looking away from him as she tried desperately to blink away her tears. Blaise didn't know what to say.

"Merlin, Im so stupid!" She exclaimed, running her hand through her hair frustratedly. "I thought it would finally... be something! I thought things were finally going to change! Something different after five months! But... I was so stupid." She shook her head, biting down on her lower lip. "Look at me, Blaise! I've been through war, Ive been through my father's and brother-in-law's death, Ive watched my best friend die right in front of my eyes, Ive watched as my mother lost her mind and- and this is breaking me?" She squeezed her eyes shut and Blaise felt like his heart was clenching uncomfortably in his chest.

"I'm so frustrated." She said softly and he had to strain his ears to hear her over the sound of the pounding rain. "Im so angry and upset and I- I don't even know any more. Im stuck. Im stuck where I was five months ago. And I know that there might be people out there who have it worse than I do- like Pansy- but that doesn't make it any easier for me. I may be selfish, I don't know- but-" She took in a ragged breath and covered her face with her hands. "You know the worst part about today?" She looked up at him, her lower lip trembling. "I actually liked him! I really really liked him!"

"And that's okay, Hayley... It wasn't your fault." Blaise said, crossing his arms over his chest and feeling a tad bit uncomfortable about the situation.

"Isn't it? Dane is THE St.Mungo playboy. He is an A class womanizer! What was I thinking?!" She said, gritting her teeth together. "I actually thought he liked me? Did I really? What's gotten into me? I used to be so careful with who I went around with. Am I really that desperate for a change? Desperate enough to go for Dane freaking Evermare- the guy whose gone out with almost all my female colleagues? I should have KNOWN he'd stand me up! I should have KNOWN this was just a big joke to him. A joke on me. I didn't see it coming..."

"That's not your fault, Hayle!" Blaise said, putting his hand on her shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting gesture. "You didn't see it coming and that's okay. You made a mistake and it's natural. A class womanizer or not, he's definitely an A class jerk."

She managed a watery smile. "I shouldn't have expected anything, is all..."

"Its okay to expect. We've been living the same way for months now. We all have expectations. Sometimes they don't work out but that doesn't mean you stop trying. Hayley, I can't promise you that things are going to be alright any time soon- but they will. I promise you it get's better."

"Has it for you?" She asked and then pursed her lips together, biting down from inside, hoping to keep the tears away.

"Im stuck like you are." She looked at him and he stared back at her. "But that doesn't mean Ive stopped trying. Im taking it day by day- allowing time to heal me. It hasn't as yet but I think it will."

"You do?" Hayley swallowed hard.

"Honestly?" She nodded. "I do."

"Okay..." Hayley choked out.

"Let's get you home. Im sure we have some left overs or else we'll order in something." He held his hand out and after looking at it for a long second, she wiped at her tears and put her hand in his.

* * *

"Are you heading to St.Mungo's?" Draco asked as he separated the large stack in front of him into separate stacks to pass around to the other's. He was in Hermione's office, watching her gather things and place them into her bag.

"Yeah, wanted to check up on Irene and Rowen." She said. "I'm sorry I dumped the task of passing the files around on you, Malfoy."

" 'S okay, ma'am." Draco shrugged, "Most of the others are on missions any way. I'm probably working the least right now."

"You won't be tomorrow." Hermione said, heading for the fireplace. "We have a long case ahead of us."

"Yeah..." Draco said, lifting the first stack of files into his arms. "Oh, the fireplace for St.Mungo's isn't working. Didn't you get their owl?"

Hermione looked confused. "No, I didn't. It isn't working? What about if there's an emergency? You can't even apparate unless you have permission."

"You send them a patronus or call them and they'll apparate to you. They've covered that area very well."

"So I've to apparate to the nearest point and then walk?" Hermione groaned.

"Pretty much. I'm heading over to check on Father, whose getting out today, and Irene too once I'm done with work. If you want, you can come with me then." He asked, keeping his eyes on the files. He couldn't look at her. Not now. Most of him knew that she'd reject the offer but some part of him- some irrational part of him hoped to Merlin that she would accept.

The words kept ringing in her head as she stared at him. 'If you want, you can come with me'. And before she knew what she was saying, she had said "Sure."

His head snapped up and his eyes met her's for a second before they both looked away. "Uh... okay.... I just need to get these files sorted and we can go then?"

"Um... yeah. How about I help you with those? It'll go faster that way." She stepped up to him, shouldering her handbag. He nodded and handed her half the files.

"Just make sure you place the right files on the right tables- they're all together." He said, heading for the door.

"I know what to do, Malfoy." She smiled slightly. "Im not glued to a desk all day and I happened to be the one constantly reminding the department of these things."

He had the decency to blush as they left the room and she locked it behind her. They finished the task faster than Draco would have managed alone and started towards the Ministry exit.

"Have your card, right?" He asked her as they walked. She nodded and they fell silent once again. "Have you thought about what cover you'll be using tomorrow for the case? Or are there already disguises that are ready or something?"

"I'm allowed to choose. They might ask me to produce a unique, original cover though because we don't want to take any risks with polyjuice."

"Isn't that difficult? Producing a completely original look? There's bound to be someone in the Wizarding world who looks like what you've produced." Draco said.

"That's true but I guess we'll just have to take our chances." She shrugged. "But Ill just have to look as different from my real self as possible. That's usually what is asked of us."

"So that they can't track you back in any way." He stated rather than asked.

"That's right." Hermione nodded.

"I... I heard you went to see my parents." He said. She turned to look at him and watched as he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and looked down as they walked. Her heart ached as she realized how familiar this image of him was. It was typical of Draco- hands in his pocket, hair ruffled by the wind.

She swallowed hard and shook her head slightly. "Yeah, I did. Narcissa asked me to... come to the Manor sometime."

He looked up, surprised, at this. "You- you don't have to if you don't want to. There's no compulsion."

"I know," She said.

"When was the last time you met your parents?" He asked suddenly after a few moments of silence.

She furrowed her eyebrows together. "I haven't met them in... a while." Her shoulders slumped and she said more softly, "I haven't met them in months..."

"Haven't they asked?" He inquired, sending her a sideway glance. "Do they... Do they know Weasley's... alive?"

It hurt him as much as it hurt her to speak about anything related to- well, that time.

"Yes, they know." She answered, her throat constricting. "They were shocked obviously. But they got over it I think." They asked about you and asked me whether I was sure about choosing Ron and I hesitated greatly before saying yes, she thought.

Draco nodded just as they reached the apparation point. "See you on the other side." He apparated away and after a taking a deep, ragged breath, she apparated after him.

The sight that met them when they entered Rowen's waiting room threw them into a panic. She was sitting on the floor on her knees, her face in her hands and her body racking with uncontrollable sobs.

"Irene?!" Hermione whispered, fearing the worst. Irene looked up and seeing them, broke down into a fresh set of sobs. Hermione ran up to her and knelt down beside her, putting her arms around her shoulders. "Hey, hey, sshhh, talk to me, love. What happened?"

"The surgeries are failing, Hermione." She choked back a sob. "They say that they can only depend on muggle treatment now." She shook her head, her face contorting before the tears overflowed once again. "My Rowen's going to die, Hermione. My baby's going to d-die." She leaned into Hermione's shoulder and began crying.

"Dont, Irene! Don't say that! So he needs muggle treatment, what are they doing about it?" Hermione asked, pulling the other witch away and holding her face.

"They're bringing in a doctor from muggle Italy. The costs are much more but I really don't care about that- I'll give anything for my baby to survive. Anything! But- but the healers said that there's only a fifteen percent chance that he'll survive... I just- I can't live without him!"

"And you won't!" Hermione shook her head firmly. "You will not. Muggle treatment may not be as great as magical treatment but it doesn't mean it isn't good at all. Trust me, I should know! How good is this doctor they're bringing in?"

"They say she's the best but still..."

"What's her name?" Draco asked, coming to stand beside their figures.

"Evlynn May something, I don't know... Im just so- I can't live without him." Irene cried, burying her face in her hands again.

"Evlynn Mayfair?" Draco inquired and she looked up and nodded.

"Yes, that's it. Mayfair. How- how do you know?"

"How much are they asking?" He asked, ignoring her question, his mind working quickly.

"Some nine or ten thousand." Irene said, her face red and streaked with tears.

"Is she already here?"

"Yes. But they won't let me in- they won't even let me see my baby!" She said, gritting her teeth together.

"I'm going to come back in a few minutes, alright?" Draco said. "I know someone who can help." With that, he sprinted out of the room. Hermione held her friend in her arms and didn't let go even when they heard footsteps headed their way- two pairs of footsteps.

She turned her body and watched Draco enter with another man. He had dark dirty blonde hair, dark brown eyes and was tall and had a gangly build.

"Irene, this is Theodore Nott." Draco said. Hermione stood up and pulled Irene to her feet.

"I dont understand, how is this relevant?" Irene asked, pressing her palms against her eyes tiredly.

"I'm Evlynn Mayfair's son." Theodore said, stepping forward and holding his hand out. She ignored it and stared at him and then Draco.

"I don't see how this will help my son, Draco!" Tears built up in her eyes and Draco spoke quickly.

"He has permission to see his mother in the room as he's a surgeon too- he'll help and get more help from other countries and at the same time, he can get updates for you. He can even try to get permission for you to go in and see Rowen." Draco explained.

"I can even get her to do the surgery free of cost." Theodore said.

Irene's eyes snapped up to meet his. "What do you think I am?! I can pay for my own son's treatment! I don't need your help!"

"Irene, love, you need to calm down first." Hermione said, turning Irene to face her. "Listen to them. Listen to what they're offering. You can see your baby, you can see your Rowen. He's offering to bring in more help. For Rowen." She spoke slowly and allowed Irene to register the words.

Irene turned to Theodore. "You can do that?" She asked softly.

"I can try my best." He answered.

"No, don't try- you have to!" Irene said, panicking once again. "This is my Rowen! He's what I live for! He's my reason to live! Please! You have to help me!" She gripped his arm and despite the tight hold, he didn't flinch nor did he move away.

"I will, Ms. Knight..." He nodded. Irene suddenly realized she was holding on to him and let go and stepped back.

"Irene, you need to go home and sleep..." Hermione said softly.

"Home? I can't... Rowen..."

"You're not doing anything here except sacrificing your health. Please, love, you have to sleep. You haven't slept in days." Hermione pleaded with her. "Come home with me, then."

"Theo's living with me. He has permission to apparate straight into the hospital and he can be contacted faster than owls can contact you. If you like, Irene, you can come stay in the Manor- there's plenty of space." Draco offered and she turned to him.

"I... You've done enough for me already." Irene whispered, wanting desperately to accept his offer.

"It's nothing. Please, Irene. You need to sleep."

"I promise I'll get you if any emergency comes up- even the smallest thing." Theodore said. "I'll take the room next to yours."

Irene turned to Hermione, doubt in her eyes. Could she trust them?

"I think you should." Hermione said, nodding. "It's a good idea. You'll be fine there."

"And you'll call me and apparate me instantly?" Irene asked Theodore.

"I promise I will." He nodded.

"It's settled then." Draco said. "Her-Gran-" He sighed, unsure with what he was allowed to refer to her as- "Ma'am, you can head home. It's late and we have a long case ahead of us."

Hermione nodded and hugged Irene tightly. "Take care and call me if you need anything."

Irene nodded and held her tightly before letting go.

"I'll get help from Italy and other countries and then come over to the Manor, yeah Drake?" Theo said to Draco, who nodded. With that, Theo left the waiting room.

"I'll see you... both... tomorrow." Hermione smiled at Irene before turning her attention to Draco and nodding at him. He stared at her for a second before nodding back. Her heart beating madly for an unfathomable reason, she left.

* * *


THAT was a reallyyyyyy long chapter wasn't it? :P It's MUCH longer than usual haha :P I enjoyed writing it though. It was more of a push-the-story-forward in one chapter slash filler thing. But I'm quite happy with it (: Okay, so i know its weird that I introduced ONE MORE new character, Theo, but it'll work out. If he doesn't seem like a good character selection, do let me know- I'll change it then!
I hope you enjoyed your christmas slash New years gift, like TOR's latest, I worked hard for days on it ;)

Love always, you guys are the best xx
FeltonLewis :)

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