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disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot and Draco's pain ;) A/N: here i come dressed as santa and bearing this chapter as my gift to you faithful readers ... heh heh heh ..... oh merry christmas everyone :')
The sunlight, though dim as it was filtering through the heavy clouds, hit his eyes hard as he slowly opened them. Draco blinked his eyelids several times, forcing himself to get used the light. Judging by the orange tinge to the quickly-diminishing light, he figured it was either around sunrise or sunset, though which he was not quite sure. Sterile white beds laid out in front of him and to his right, the cold stone wall of the hospital wing to his left. A wave of smells fought for the attention of his nose, pungent and antiseptic smells of potions used for ill-healing and wound-cleaning. Light flowery scents accented the air now and then from the small vases of fresh brightly-coloured flowers accesorizing the little tables beside each bed. The sound of footfalls in the distance snapped Draco to focus and he turned his head to his right towards the huge double doors of the infirmary. A second later, the door opened slowly and a small familiar figure advanced towards him. A slight smile peeked from his lips as Hermione Granger came closer, a full tray of something in her hands. His small smile mirrored itself on her face as her lips too, carved a smile in return. She set the tray down on his bedside table. "I had a feeling you'd wake up today," she started, lowering her body down onto the chair beside his bed. "I took a chance and brought you some food in case you got hungry." "That's ... nice of you, I ... wait, did you say today?" She nodded. "Exactly how long was I out?" "Oh, about a week. Well today would've been a total of eight days so I would say seven and a half days." So it was just after sunset, the last feeble rays of light had only just disappeared from the sky moments ago. Draco frowned slightly, thoughts filling his head. A barrage of questions surfaced and danced on the tip of his tongue and yet he could not find the right words to shape them. What he did manage to ask instead was a weak-sounding, "why aren't you at the Great Hall?" "I had a heavy lunch," she shrugged lightly, then tilting her head a little as she studied him. "How are you?" He watched her eyes roam over him, taking in the sight of the half-healed bruises visible, the little worry upon seeing them reflected in her eyes. "I'm ... alright. I suppose. I'm awake aren't I?" he smiled lightly. "Well yes, but you were out for a week! Nobody was sure when you would wake up, Madam Pomfrey was quite over her head worrying about you and casting about a million protection and healing spells to heal what she could. But she says you won't be properly healed until you wake up and drink a potion or two. It was quite a big fall and you hit your head, not to mention that bludger did something nasty to your shoulder." Draco focused his attention to his right shoulder, moving it just a little to assess the damage done. His face scrunched into a grimace. That felt like a whole lot of damage. Granger's eyes widened. "Is something wrong?" He shook his head and she nodded. "I also took the liberty of noting down all your homework so you can get right on them when you are .. you know, in a better condition to study." This caused him to smirk. "You never give up on it, do you?" "You know your studies are important, especially now, we're having our NEWTs this year!" Her adamant remark only sent him into fits of chuckles, taking in a sharp breath as his shoulder protested strongly. "You amuse me ... so much." "Apparently," she huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. "Could I have a drink, please?" He smiled. She rolled her eyes and went about pouring some water into the goblet on the tray. He slowly sat up with a little help from her, righting the pillow up against the metal bedframe and fluffing it so he could lean against it. Accepting the goblet from her he drank slowly as she continued her little ramble on schoolwork and the lessons that he had missed out on, reckoning he could do with a little coaching to get him right back on track. He listened to her babble quietly, nodding a little now and then, all the while watching her animated one-sided conversation. His mind began to wander and for a moment, it felt as though his eyelids were drooping. A faraway voice warned him of the iminent danger he was in, insisting that he did not get too close to the filthy mudblood. His eyes flew open at the mention of the word. "Who said that?!" Granger backed up in her seat, gazing at him in a stupefied manner. "I was just telling you about the memory charms you need to read up on .." "No, no, no!" He shook his head fervently, ignoring the sharp pain it brought about. "That voice, that word! Who said it? Who insulted you?" "Nobody..." "But I heard him! I swear, he called you a m-" "Malfoy..." She started, her voice small and almost afraid. He turned to look at her, his vision blurred by the magnifying ache in his head. His blurred vision made her appear more angelic than she really was. "Malfoy ... there's nobody else in here ..." Draco stopped, wincing as his head began pounding and he lowered it into his hands. "Oh God ... oh God, I'm hearing voices.." "I think you need to lie down ... you're not properly healed yet ..." The last thing he remembered was feeling a pair of gentle hands coaxing his body to lie down, smoothing the covers over him in such a loving manner. A coma-like sleep overtook him just as he thought how great it would feel to be loved like that always. ... When he woke up next, it was dark. The only source of light came from a small flame dancing merrily upon a solitary candle standing on a nearby table. Madam Pomfrey came bustling out of her quarters, smiling sternly at him as she cheerfully talked about swallowing a potion or two as though it was the most normal thing to do. All he could do was sit up slightly to accept the vile-smelling goblets from her and drinking up the fluids. He stuck his tongue out, scrunching up his face in disgust as she went disappearing back into her quarters. A slight movement to his right caused him to slowly turn his head, paranoia flitting across his mind momentarily. It ceased quickly however, upon seeing the small mound of a body curled up on the chair next to him. A thick curtain of hair veiled the person's face and upon the sight of the hair, relief replaced his paranoia. It was none other than Granger, though why she was sleeping on a chair next to him in the hospital wing instead of her comfortable Head Girl dormitory was beyond his understanding. He merely watched as her upper body gently moved with her slow breathing. Remembering the odd voice in his head earlier, he frowned slightly and hesitantly, reached his hand out. Fingers gradually came in contact with hair and with gentle movements, he lightly ran the tips over the surface of her curls. As though sensing his touch, the girl stirred from her sleep, her eyes blinking drowsily beneath her dark tresses. He moved her hair out of her face, smoothing back the strands and carefully tucking them behind her ear while she gazed at him in amazement. It was plain that she rather disbelieved that he was quite capable of such a docile action, more so that he was doing it to her. "Hermione ..." he murmured, as though testing the way her name flowed on his lips. She drew a light gasp. "Dr.. uhh, yes?" "Why are you sleeping here?" "I fell asleep waiting for you to wake up again." He nodded slightly, not really caring what she said. "Hermione ..." "Yes...?" "We are doomed aren't we?" "No, I don't believe so." "How is that possible? We're dying." "Death is not really all that bad. It's really an end to all suffering, don't you agree?" "I don't know what to think anymore." "Why do you think so much?" "I can't help it, everything reminds me of the curse. Then everything reminds me of you." "... why do you think of me?" "Hermione ..." "Yes ... Draco?" "I think I might love you..."

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