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“Draco!” Hermione gasped, when she woke up.

It was early the next morning, but instead of finding Draco in her room, she found Harry.

“Ok there Hermione?” Harry asked.

“Yes.” Hermione said, quietly, rubbing her eyes. “What are you doing here? Don’t you have class on weekdays?”

That’s when she noticed that Harry wasn’t sitting in a chair, or reading a paper like everyone else who had waited around at the hospital. He was standing next to her door, wand drawn, in full uniform.

“What’s going on?” She asked, sitting up abruptly. “Why are you here on duty?”

“What makes you think I’m on duty?” Harry asked, twirling his wand in his hand.

“Because you only ever stand up that straight when Kingsley tells you to.” Hermione said, point blank. “And you don’t cruise around with your wand out, either. You do most things the muggle way still.”

Harry deliberately slouched. “Is that what’s bothering you?”

“If you’re not on duty, come sit down and have a chat.” Hermione challenged.

Just then Ron came to the door with another Auror. “This floor is clear mate, we’re going to check above and below. Morning ‘Mione!”

Harry nodded, and turned back to Hermione guiltily. “Ok, there have been some new developments.”

“Spill Harry.” Hermione demanded. “What’s going on?”

“Sorry. I can’t say.” Harry said, sheepishly. “Direct Order.”

“From Kingsley?” Hermione asked? “Why wouldn’t he let you tell me what’s going on?”

“I’m pretty sure he’s acting on instructions from your healer.” Harry explained. “Who, incidentally, won’t let us move you.”

“Won’t let you move me? Where?” Hermione insisted.

“Never you mind that, Miss Granger.” Healer Murphy said, bustling into the room. “Auror Potter, I assume you can do your job just as well outside the door?”

“No ma’am.” Harry said. “I’m under orders to remain in the room. You can close the curtain if you need to.”

Healer Murphy sighed, and pulled the curtain around them. “So what’s this I hear about you trying to get up and run around the Hospital last night?”

“That’s not what happened.” Hermione grumbled.

“It might as well have been.” Healer Murphy argued, examining Hermione as she spoke. “What did I tell you on Monday?”

“No getting out of bed without help.” Hermione sighed.

“Did you think I said that for fun?” Healer Murphy asked.

Hermione shook her head.

“To be honest, I’m shocked Mr. Malfoy allowed it.” She continued.

Hermione grabbed her wand, and cast a quick Muffliato. “Do you mind? I don’t want the whole Auror department knowing my business!”

“Hey, what charm is that?” Healer Murphy asked.

“It doesn’t matter, look… I really don’t need everyone knowing just how much time Draco spends here.” Hermione hissed. “The others don’t know… that we’re close.”

“Hmmm.” Healer Murphy scolded, “Well that’s your business I suppose.”

“Can we keep it that way?” Hermione asked.

"Sure. Here’s the thing,” Healer Murphy said, perching on the edge of Hermione's bed. “I wanted to test your blood for something that required a fairly complex potion, and I’ve just completed it.”

Hermione nodded for her to continue.

“Well, you remember how we tested you for Cruciatis Poisoning?” Healer Murphy asked.

“Yes, you said I didn’t have symptoms.” Hermione responded.

“That’s correct. However, you’re very high risk for symptoms.” Healer Murphy said. “I wanted to see just how high risk, so I tested your blood.”

“Ok, so what happened?” Hermione pressed.

“To be honest, your blood is so reactive to the curse I’m surprised you’re not paralyzed.” Healer Murphy admitted. “We see this sometimes, in highly intelligent people. It’s all to do with how your mind works when you’re in pain. I’m guessing that every time you’ve been tortured with the cruciatis, you spent the whole time convincing yourself it wasn’t really hurting you.”

Hermione nodded.

“Ok, well… that can be counter productive to the body’s natural defenses.” She continued, “In this case, you’re subconsciously convincing your body that nothing is actually wrong, allowing the curse to do more damage than normal. Most people pass out before the reach that point.”

“You’re saying I’m more susceptible because I’m smart?” Hermione asked, agog.

“Yes, more or less.” Healer Murphy sighed.

“Ok, so what do I do about it?” Hermione asked.

“There’s really nothing you can do, except avoid the curse completely.” Healer Murphy said. “And if you ever get hit with it again, you need to come straight here, regardless of how you feel.”

“Ok.” Hermione whispered.

“Any other questions?” Healer Murphy asked.

“Yes, why won’t you let them tell me anything, or move me?” Hermione asked.

“You’re not stable yet, Hermione.” Healer Murphy explained. “You don’t have your memories back yet, and your wounds are healing slowly. I know you think you feel better, but you’re not out of the woods yet.”

“Ok.” Hermione sighed. “Ok, have you seen Draco lurking around here?”

“No, he left last night.” Healer Murphy said, patting Hermione arm. “He told me to take care of you.”

"He said that?" Hermione asked, suddenly sounding desperate. "What did he say exactly?"

"He said, 'Take care of her, don't let anyone bully her into leaving the hospital before she's ready.'" Healer Murphy explained.

"Did he say where he was going?" Hermione asked, pained.

"No, didn't he tell you he was leaving?" Healer Murphy asked.

Hermione shook her head. "It's not like him to not be here when I wake up."

"Well, perhaps he overslept?" Healer Murphy suggested. "He has been burning the candle at both ends."

"Maybe." Hermione said, skeptically.

"Your blood pressure is high, do you want a calming potion?" Healer Murphy asked.

"No, I'd feel better if I knew what was going on." Hermione insisted.

"Nice try, but no." Healer Murphy laughed. "Just relax. Your breakfast will be here soon.”

Hermione shook her head, and canceled the Muffliato, and Healer Murphy pulled the curtains back open on her way out.

“What’s so secretive that it needed a Muffliato?” Harry asked, still watching out the door.

“What’s so secretive that Kingsley gave you a gag order?” Hermione retorted.

“Touché.” Harry said.

Just then another Auror came up escorting the Lollypop Lady with Hermione’s breakfast.

“That’s been cleared?” Harry asked, pointing at the food.

“I watched them make it myself.” The Auror confirmed.

“Honestly, Harry. What is going on?” Hermione demanded.

“He’s following Orders.” Came Kingsley’s voice, as the tall man came into the room. “Which I’m rather impressed by, I figured you’d wear him down by now.”

“Not for lack of trying.” Hermione sighed.

“It’s only 9:00 o’clock, sir.” Harry teased.

“That it is.” Kingsley chuckled. “Potter, I want you and Edinger on two helping clear the floor.”

“Yes sir.” Harry said. “If I could trouble you for the release code?”

Kingsley beamed at Harry. “It’s Tentacula today, Potter. Dismissed.”

“Yes sir.” Harry repeated, and marched out of the room.

“Well, you’ve got him whipped into shape.” Hermione commented.

“Yeah, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, either.” Kingsley laughed.

“It’s rather annoying when you toss him in my room and tell him he can't say why.” Hermione muttered.

“I’m sorry about that Hermione, but it’s Healer’s Orders.” Kingsley explained. “You’re on a need to know basis until you’re stable.”

“I am stable.” Hermione insisted.

“Well, I’m going to go against my better judgement and stick with the professional opinion on that one.” Kingsley said. “However, I owe you a visit. I’m sorry I haven't had a chance to stop by since you woke up.”

“It’s ok.” Hermione said. “You’ve been busy, I know.”

“Still, I owe you my life Hermione.” Kingsley pointed out.

“I was just the closest one to you.” Hermione argued. “Anyone else would have helped.”

“Ah, but not anyone else could have.” Kingsley said, with a smile. “I know you turned me down once before, but the offer still stands to join the Auror department anytime.”

“Thanks Kingsley, but I think my fighting days are done.” Hermione said softly. "So are you my guard now?"

"For the moment." Kingsley said, "I'll have to switch out with someone in a bit."

"Do I need a guard?" Hermione asked.

"Well, let's just say we're being extra cautious following some recent developments." Kingsley smiled. "Here, do you want my copy of the Prophet?"

"I don't read that rag." Hermione huffed.

"You should take a look." Kingsley said. "There might be something interesting above the fold."

Hermione gave Kingsley a skeptical look, but took the paper and unfolded it.

"LUCIOUS MALFOY SPOTTED IN DIAGON ALLY." The headline screamed.

"What!" Hermione was shocked, "Kingsley, how is this possible?"

"I don't know what you're talking about Hermione." Kingsley said, looking at his watch. "I'm under strict instructions from your Healer not to tell you anything."

Hermione nodded, and quickly read the article that suggested a successful escape from Azkaban had let out Lucious, the Lestrange Brothers, and a few other names she didn't recognize. It also went on to suggest that Draco had plotted the escape, citing his recent absence from Hogwarts as proof.

Hermione crushed the paper into a ball. "Ugh!"

"My thoughts exactly." Kingsley said.

"Kingsley, you know Draco had nothing to do with this!" Hermione cried.

"Oh, I'm well aware of that." Kingsley said. "All of those Death Eaters are still in Azkaban."

"Wait, what??" Hermione asked.

"Yeah, Malfoy and the Lestranges are still safely in Azkaban. We're assuming there is polyjuice being used to start a panic." Kingsley said. "We were planning on releasing a statement, however there's a small problem."

“What?” Hermione asked, cocking her head to the side.

“We can’t find Draco.” Kingsley said. “We were hoping you might know where he is.”

“What do you mean you can’t find him?” Hermione hissed. “He’s got the trace on still from his probation, doesn’t he? And why are you assuming I would know where he is anyway?”

“The trace only tells us if he’s performing dark magic.” Kingsley explained. “He’s of age, it’s not going to alert us if he’s doing regular everyday magic. And Hermione, I've been an Auror since before you were born. I'm good at reading people, and you and Malfoy are close.”

“Kingsley, I haven’t seen Draco since last night.” Hermione acquiesced, “And he was acting really oddly.”

“Odd how?” Kingsley said, scanning out Hermione’s door.

“He… He was talking about doing Dark Magic, about how he was craving it more since using it at the manor. And that one good deed can’t undo a lifetime of evil.” Hermione admitted. “And he said something strange as I was falling asleep. A quote from a book, about me being his last dream.”

“Hermione, has he been acting oddly for a while?” Kingsley asked sharply. “Has he been getting headaches? Seeming twitchy, nervous?”

Hermione nodded. “He was rubbing his head a lot last night. A lot all week actually.”

“He’s relapsing.” Kingsley said. “I was afraid of this when I released him last week, but I’d hoped that he’d pull through.”

“Relapsing?” Hermione asked. “You mean because he used Dark Magic?”

“Yes.” Kingsley said, he quickly tapped his wand against his wrist, and Hermione heard footsteps hurrying down the hall towards them. Ron and two other Aurors appeared at the door.

“Sir?” Said the shorter of the two. He seemed to be a higher rank, because he had more insignia on his uniform, and Ron stood behind him at attention.

“Picard, I want you to take Weasley back to headquarters and put out an APW on Draco Malfoy. He may be a danger to himself, I want him brought directly to St. Mungo’s if located.” Kingsley said.

“Yes sir.” The Auror, presumably Picard responded, and he hurried out the door. Ron gave Hermione a small smile, and followed quickly behind his superior.

"Hermione, is there anywhere Draco would go that was important to him?" Kingsley asked. "Somewhere special from his childhood, or anything like that?"

Hermione shook her head. "He didn't really have a great childhood."

"Yes, I can imagine." Kingsley said. "But think Hermione, is there anywhere he would go for solitude? Anywhere we can start to look for him?"

"Well, I doubt he'd go home." Hermione sighed. "He was really happiest at Hogwarts, has anyone looked there?"

"That's a good idea, I'll have Minerva check around the Slytherin common room and the like." Kingsley nodded.

"No, check the Library! And the Room of Requirement and the Astronomy Tower. He wouldn't be in Slytherin." Hermione said, "Did anyone check the Leaky? He's been staying there."

"Yes, I've got someone watching his room, but if we don't hear from him soon I'll send someone in to check that everything is in order." Kingsley said.

Just then Healer Murphy came bursting back into the room. "Honestly Auror Shacklebolt, if you're not going to listen to me, why do you ask for my advice?"

"I think she needs to know." Kingsley said. "I only showed her the Prophet. She doesn't have all the facts yet. And I still think it would be safer to move her, despite the risk!"

"Well, as her Healer I still say that she's too high risk to go spinning through the floo." Healer Murphy exclaimed. "And apperating would be worse."

"So you'd rather have her here like a sitting duck?" Kingsley asked, rolling his eyes.

"Wait, why would I be a sitting duck?" Hermione asked.

"Oh go on then." Healer Murphy sighed. "You're obviously going to ignore me."
"Hermione, there has been an official threat to your life." Kingsley explained. "We received an anonymous letter at the ministry."

"Ok?" Hermione asked. "Is that all?"

"Is that all?" Healer Murphy gasped.

"Well, that's not exactly surprising." Hermione shrugged. "Granted, it's the first time it's been in writing. I've had a price on my head for the last few years."

Kingsley burst out laughing. "I told you she'd be better off knowing."

"Well that doesn't change the fact that you can't move her." Healer Murphy said, exasperated.

"Well why do I need to move?" Hermione asked.

"The letter said they knew you were here." Kingsley explained. "I think it would be much simpler to move you to a safe house and guard that, than it is to try and vet everyone that comes into the hospital."

"Ok, so lets do that." Hermione said.

"Hermione, you can't handle the floo yet." Healer Murphy explained. "It would tear you up."

"Ok, but why don't we just have a car take me somewhere in the city?" Hermione pointed out. "Let me go to Harry's house. He already has a Fidelius charm in place, what could be safer than staying with two Aurors?"

Kingsley and Healer Murphy just stared at Hermione.

"Well... that would be fine." Healer Murphy said. "I hadn't thought of using Muggle transport."

"No one ever does." Hermione said, rolling her eyes. "Why don't I just have my parents come pick me up?"

"No, that would be too obvious." Kingsley said. "We already have Aurors keeping an eye on your parents as a precaution, let's not involve them any more than necessary."

Hermione nodded. "Ok, well... ministry cars would be a bit obvious."

"I agree..." Kingsley sent a patronus off. "I'll sort something out."

Harry appeared back in the door. "Yes sir?"

"Take over for me Harry," Kingsley said. "I think we have a plan. You can fill him in Hermione."

"Sure, just as soon as he tells me where we were last year when his wand was broken." Hermione said with a wink.

"Godrick's Hollow." Harry said, with a smirk.

"You're sure you don't want to be an Auror, Hermione?" Kingsley laughed.

"I'm quite sure." Hermione said.

"Very well." Kingsley said, clapping Harry on the shoulder as he left.

"Kingsley let the cat out of the bag?" Harry asked.

"Yes, and I was expecting something horrible after all the buildup." Hermione sighed. "You should have just told me that it was only another death threat."

"Miss Granger, you will be the death of me." Healer Murphy exclaimed. "You know, most normal people would be a little worried about someone putting a price on their head!"

"I've got bigger concerns at the moment." Hermione muttered.

"Hmmmm." Healer Murphy said. "Well, I'm going to go sort out some things for you to take with you."

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