Perhaps I am in a pit.
Perhaps it is a dark hole in the world that has swallowed me, and left me for dead.
Perhaps I am nothing. And I never was.
When I try to think back on who I was before this—before the blackness—I see… nothing.
Maybe I am nothing.
The words of Poe come to me. Something about a pendulum. Or maybe a series of bricks that lock me in place.
Am I educated? Am I someone who studied literature? How else would I come to know the extensive catalog of Edgar Allen Poe?
With no sound and no light, I lie in my cell and I wonder…
Perhaps I am Poe, himself.
I hear voices when I sleep. Or perhaps when I am awake. It is dark every hour of every day.
Someone with a baritone rumble who reminds me of childhood, of dreams. And I feel cold hands on mine when he talks. Something about her. He's looking for a "her."
And I don't know if I can find "her" for him. I can barely find me.
"Her" is his.
"Her mine" is what he says often.
How nice it must be to possess someone. But I am already judging his language, and the foul way his consonants clack. "Her mine," indeed. She can have him.
Cold, clammy hands on my face. Lips against mine.
And I want to jump, to scramble. I have no choice in the matter as his fingers brush my chin, his cheek against my own.
If I could move, I would run. If I could speak, I would scream.
I don't want to be touched by a stranger.
I don't know my name, my face, my story, but I do know I don't want to be touched by him.
Him who owns a "her."
I might be in a hospital.
When I can feel and hear, I feel and hear doctors. My pulse is taken. My legs are worked to prevent atrophy. My vitals are stated out loud to a room of strangers by a low rumble with aristocratic clicks and inflections.
A coma, I decide.
I am locked away in a cell of my own making.
And the pendulum swings ever closer.
Sometimes I hear the whispered words of medical jargon in a low drawl. He whispers things aloud to himself when no one else is around.
I hear "Finite" often, but I don't hear an accent when he speaks. Just British, like me, only a refined and cultured sound that—
I am British.
I gasp into the void, finally knowing something about myself.
It's the clearest sound I've heard in centuries. Something in my vitals must have jumped, because warm, thin fingers are pressing into my skin and a deep voice is muttering words that don't make sense.
British and Granger.
The Him who looks for "her" returns often.
I suppose I must be the "her."
The doctor who calls me Granger is usually absent when the Him visits, but once I hear their voices together. A lazy clack of teeth and tongue from Him, while my doctor responds in cool tones that betray his feelings of disgust and disappointment.
I wonder who disappointed him.
My doctor speaks of vitals and brain activity and time frames while the Him hisses at him in an uncouth timbre. My doctor remains calm as the Him screams about hatred and school days and slithering griffins. My doctor drawls insults through the air, something so elevated and refined that my mind can hardly grasp the disdain.
My doctor leaves me alone with Him. And I miss him as cold, moist hands hold my own, fingers drifting across my face in blunt sweeps.
My doctor's hands are warm and elegant.
A humming one day. Perhaps a song I used to know. Before.
My doctor's voice is low and smooth. Not professionally trained, but still a pleasant sound. He mutters words and drops syllables, but I am soothed into tranquility.
His voices trips over the melody, and I see a large hall, an older man with a beard, and a hat on a stool before something pierces my eyes—a pain so deep that I gasp into my silent world.
Was the hat singing?
A sterile ceiling.
A stabbing light clawing at my skull after so many eons without it.
I blink, for the first time in thousands of years.
I am bleeding from my eyes as I flicker to the side. A young blond man with unblemished skin and deep grey eyes and a sharp jaw squints at a blurry, blinking light. His brow pulls together, and something is familiar about it. Something in the way he studies the light.
A thin stick in his hand, and he moves the light with it, his teeth biting his cheek in concentration.
I watch his hands. I know they're warm and dry.
My doctor is handsome and young, aristocratic in every sense of the word. And I wonder how old I am.
His face scrunches, like he doesn't understand an equation in Arithman—arithmetic, and his eyes peel off the light to search me.
A sudden shift behind his gaze, like the final piece of a puzzle locking into place.
He's so familiar. His grey eyes digging into mine, like he doesn't understand, like he can't figure out how I tick.
And then his brows jump. He stands like a statue, as his mouth opens.
That's me. I am Granger.
The stick in his fingers twirls, pointing at me like a ruler as his eyes dance over every inch of me. A blurry graph appears over my chest. A hologram? Some kind of projection?
He absorbs what he finds, flickering back to my eyes and then to the graph.
My doctor. My savior.
The hologram disappears, and he stands tall next to my bedside. "You are at St. Mungo's. You were in an accident on duty about two months ago. You were in a coma." He looks me over again, taking a pause. "I am a Healer here now," he says, like it explains something. "I will go alert the staff that you are awake, and get you transferred to a different Healer."
He turns to leave, and my fingers stretch, drifting across his sleeve. He looks down, like I've thrown mud at him.
Forcing my vocal chords together for the first time, I whisper, "What's your name?"
He pales, lips parting, eyes growing wide.
A blank slate across his face, and lifetimes of choices behind his eyes.
"My name is Draco Malfoy," he says slowly, like he might jar me. "I am your Healer. Do you know your name?"
"Granger," I reply quickly.
His brows pull together. "Your given name?"
I wet my lips, hoping the name will slip out. When nothing comes, his eyes flatten.
"Do you know what year it is?"
I don't. And I don't remember who St. Mungo was. Or who my parents were who taught me the saints.
I watch him blur, tears filling my eyes. They spill down my cheeks as he watches, unmoving.
A handkerchief is conjured from somewhere, and suddenly his fingertips brush my jaw when the cloth presses to my cheek.
I want to speak it aloud. The cadence would trickle off my tongue, rough consonants dragged by extended vowels.
"Your name is Hermione Granger. It is 2005. Shacklebolt is Minister." His grey eyes stare at me over the top of the handkerchief. "Do you remember that name? Kingsley Shacklebolt?"
I shake my head.
Hermione Granger. His voice catches over my given name, like it had curdled in his mouth. I wonder if he hates it. It seems quite a mouthful.
Hermione. Helen of Troy's daughter. Or Shakespeare's Hermione.
I tumble and twist into a dark corner of my mind. I know Shakespeare and mythology and Poe, but I don't know who I am or who is Minister.
Draco Malfoy stands tall again. "I'll retrieve the rest of the staff."
He said that earlier. Like he'd rather not be alone with me.
What do I look like? Am I not of a pretty sort? Perhaps I am so hideous that he can barely stand to look at me.
His cuff slips through my fingers as he leaves my side, and I watch him scurry out the door, glad to be rid of me.
More doctors are next. They smile, and offer medical details that slip through my mind like sand, and all the while my doctor – Malfoy – stands in the corner of the room, watching, waiting.
They all have sticks. It must be a new technology that I missed. But of course, I don't know how often I would have been in the hospital in my past life. My gaze lands on these sticks every time they prod at the holograms and tap against my skin. I want to ask questions about their optics and how they twirl through the light readings, but we're on to other topics, and talking about my amnesia.
I frown and my eyes land on Dr. Malfoy. He's watching me with some slow-dawning idea, and then he's pushing off the wall, coming to whisper in the ear of the older gentleman that had been explaining brain trauma.
A silence as the older doctor looks at me in horror. It melts off his face slowly as he clears his throat, continues to explain as if there was no interruption, and pockets his stick.
I don't see a stick again after that. And a computer is brought in while I sleep, beeping and blurping.
There is a commotion outside my door. I sit up in my bed, using weak stomach muscles and wincing at the twist.
The door explodes open and a ginger boy stands in the entry, staring at me with wide eyes.
"Hermione," he says with a reverence.
I stare back, reaching into my mind to find a shelf for him. Somewhere I might have kept him.
He rushes to the bed, and I jump, when he covers my body with his. My voice is as lost as my memories as his rough body drapes over me, stubble scratching my neck and fingers gripping my shoulders.
I can't breathe. The intrusion upon my body is shocking and too warm and too heavy.
He's gone as quickly as he dropped over me, and Dr. Malfoy is there with a clenched fist in the back of Him's shirt and and snarl.
"What part of 'gentle' was so difficult for you, Weasley?"
Him — who must be Weasley — brushes off Dr. Malfoy and smiles down at me with watery eyes. There are three more people in the doorway now. A plump red-headed woman, a thin red-headed girl, and a black-haired bloke with specs.
"Hi, 'Mione," the other boy says. He smiles at me, and his green eyes remind me of jets of light. Lasers, maybe.
Dr. Malfoy starts in on a diagnostic that I've heard before. Weasley doesn't listen, just takes my hand in his clammy fingers and stares at me. The plump woman must be Weasley's mother. She listens to every word Dr. Malfoy says and asks for clarification with a sharp tongue.
The girl stands by her side, eyes drifting to me, but the other boy joins Weasley and smiles down at me with a warm kindness. When Dr. Malfoy and the mother are discussing my recovery and discharge, the boy says, "I'm Harry. Harry Potter."
I blink at him. "Hello."
"You're one of my closest friends," he says softly, and it's clear he listened to the instructions outside the door. He pushes up his glasses in a way that seems familiar. It tugs on me.
"Hermione," Weasley says, and I turn my eyes back to his blue ones as he wraps both cold hands around one of mine. "You're one of my—" he says, trying to follow Harry's lead. "You're more than that. We're in love. You're my fiancée, Hermione."
There is a stillness. I feel my heart in its cage, thundering. My eyes snap to Dr. Malfoy who pinches the bridge of his nose with his elegant warm hands as a clammy one reaches for my face.
"Ron," Harry Potter says, cautioning him.
"We're in love," he repeats. And then his lips are on mine, wet and sloppy. My body jerks with the need to be elsewhere. And I pray I can remember one day, because if this was my first kiss—
His body is forced back. Dr. Malfoy is fuming, holding him back by the collar.
"Get the fuck out of here!" Dr. Malfoy screams. "Are you insane?"
The room is screaming, and my skin is crawling, and the boys are pushing, and the women are yelling—
And my mouth is wet where his lips tried to force me to love him back.
There's a warm hand on my elbow, and I look to see Dr. Malfoy standing between me and the rest of them, screaming for security, all while his fingertips rest softly against my skin, steadying me.
I close my eyes, wondering if I can have my pit of darkness back. This world is far too rough and expects too much of me. The noise disappears, but the warmth on my arm does not. A soft cloth under my eyes. He's offering his handkerchief again because I'm crying.
"I'm engaged?" I whisper, eyes opening to see him leaning over me.
"I was just as surprised when I heard," he mutters, turning to look at the computer screen with my vitals.
My lashes flutter under the weight of my tears. "When you heard?"
"In the papers."
I stare at him. "Do we… do we know each other?"
His hand is still on my elbow when he turns to look at me sharply. "We all went to school together." He gestures to the doorway where Weasley and Harry Potter just exited. "Apologies. I should have… made that clear before."
I blink, trying to place things in boxes in my mind. "Where did we go to school?"
He hesitates, and then says, "A boarding school in Scotland."
Why we would all be sent to a boarding school in Scotland is something I'll have to suss out later.
"So, you and I are friends? And now you're my doctor?"
His lips do a funny thing, as if he wants to smile, but knows he can't.
"No. You and I didn't get on well. None of us did, really." He flips a page on my chart, eyes down. "It was quite a battle over whether or not I should be treating you, actually."
"Why are you?" I ask, waiting for a kind of answer I can only hope for.
"Because I'm the best," he says with the simple arrogance of someone who's been told that exact thing for years. "I studied under the best, and now I am the foremost Head Healer in all of the Wiz—in all of Britain."
"Head Healer" is a strange phrase, but I don't question it. I think of my fiancé again. Of his cold hands and freckled skin. The way he flushed bright red with anger. The needy way his fingers traced my face.
"I don't like him much," I say, staring at the doorway.
A sigh. "Finally, some sense from you."
The corner of his lips lift as he marks my chart. And I'm not sure I would trade back the sight of it for my memories.
"How did I meet him?" I ask the next morning as Dr. Malfoy is flashing a light into my eyes.
His lips twitch downwards. "First day of school. And then he saved you from a tr— from a bully when you were eleven. It— he followed you into the lavatory."
I frown. I know very little about Ron. But he doesn't seem the type to jump in front of a bully. He seems like the bully so far.
"Twelve actually," Dr. Malfoy says, waving the pen in his hand as he writes on her chart. "You were twelve by then. Your birthday is in September."
I blink at him. I know he has my chart in his hands and maybe it's nothing.
"What month is it now?"
"November. You were here on your birthday this year." He flips a page, eyes on the chart. "Don't worry. We celebrated. I lifted your arm above your head."
I grin down into my gelatin. "You said we didn't get on at school?" He shakes his head. "Why?"
His jaw ticks. And he's silent for a moment. "If I told you, we wouldn't be friends anymore."
The team of doctors enters to go through their morning rounds. Dr. Malfoy steps back, and eventually slips out.
Ron comes back later that day. He's very insistent on how my memories are. Dr. Malfoy tries to tell him about my positive weight gain, my circulation. Ron asks again about my memories.
"Well, what are you doing about that?" Ron snaps back at him. His sister tugs at his arm, trying to temper him.
Dr. Malfoy scowls, but keeps his voice calm when he replies, "As I've told you before, her health is the number one priority. Once she is in better condition, we can try the memory recovery techniques—"
"Are you enjoying this?" Ron spits.
Dr. Malfoy pauses, his eyes turning hard. I feel a chill in the room.
"Keeping her here. Hermione Granger relying on you. The entire world relying on you."
"Ron, stop it!" his sister hisses.
"I assure you, Weasley, she has the best care—"
"Just get out," Ron snarls. "Everyone. Get out! I want to be alone with my fiancée."
Dr. Malfoy's eyes snap to me, about to object. I nod at him. I'll be alright. Apparently we were in love. I should really try to figure out why.
They leave us alone. He sits on my bed, taking my hand. It's very strange to have someone so comfortable with your body and your personal space. I suck in a breath, realizing that we've been intimate, haven't we? He's seen me naked. We've had sex.
I look him over. He has a long frame, possibly a toned torso. His shoulders have the curve of someone who has been too tall for most of their life, always trying to be smaller in doorways and autos. He has long fingers, but I know that they are always moist and always reaching for things that aren't his. His face is kind when he's relaxed like this. His eyes are a pale blue that reminds me of shallow waters.
"I want to apologize for kissing you yesterday," he says, and I'm shocked. "I was just so excited to have you back and—" He swallows. "They told me to go slow. But I've missed you so much, Hermione."
I watch his blue eyes fill with tears. He does care about me.
"How did I end up here?" I ask. It's been on my mind, but the doctors haven't offered up the information.
He takes a deep breath. "You are a… a police officer. A detective. And you were hurt on a case."
I blink at him. A detective. It doesn't feel right. "How?"
"An explosion. It knocked you back, and you hurt your head."
"Did anyone else die?"
He smiles. "You're always thinking of other people first," he mutters. He takes my hand, and I let him. I try to get used to the feeling of his fingers laced through mine. "Is there anything you do remember?" he asks.
I know literature. I know the difference between the U.K. dialects. But as he gazes at me, I know that's not what he's asking for.
There is something that I do know. It's just not something I remember...
"There was a bully. In the lavatory." He squints at me, tilting his head. I continue, "You saved me. When we were young."
His eyes widen, and his lips open in a silent gasp. He grips my hand. "Yes. Yes, Hermione! At school!"
"I—I don't remember anything else—"
"No, that's fine! You're doing wonderfully!" He throws himself over me. My body seizes as he hugs me close. "Do they know you're remembering?"
"No, I… it was just something that I—"
He's off of me and running out the door. "She remembers!"
Dr. Malfoy is there in a flash. He comes to my bedside with long strides, checking the brain activity monitor. A few other doctors follow him in, waiting with bated breath.
"You remember?" he says to me. His grey eyes are endless, and there's a worry there as well.
I start to shake my head no, and then—
"She remembers the troll in the bathrooms from first year," Ron says, bouncing on his feet. "She remembers Harry and me saving her."
Dr. Malfoy's eyes dance over my face, and then harden into stone. A familiar feeling of shame washes over me, something I associate with that kind of stare.
He glares down disapprovingly at the brain scans. "Well, there's nothing on the scans." His eyes shift to me as he says, "It's almost like a false alarm."
My blood heats. I narrow my eyes at him, sending daggers.
"Oh, bugger off, Malfoy!" Ron snarls. "She remembers, and that's what matters. Fuck your scans."
"Anything else you remember, Granger?" Dr. Malfoy asks with a lifted brow.
"No," I say through gritted teeth. "Nothing else at the moment."
Ron visits every day. Every day he asks me what else I remember. He feeds me information, things that could jog my memory.
Maybe you remember playing chess?
There was a snake at school once. A great big one. It was quite scary.
Your favorite Professor was McGonagall. Do you remember her?
We would all eat together at long tables in a Great Hall. There was juice made from pumpkins.
But nothing comes back to me. When I sleep, I think I see castles and dragons, but it's nothing worth mentioning.
I ask about my parents. Dr. Malfoy pauses. His jaw clicks.
"They are alive. They are…" He swallows.
"Was I given up?" I ask. "Are they… Are we estranged, or…?"
He turns to look at me. "Unfortunately, they also have memory issues."
I blink, disappearing into my mind. There are two people somewhere who look like me. They raised me, and loved me. But if we passed on the street, we wouldn't even recognize each other.
The same handkerchief passes under my eyes. I take it from him, sniffling.
"Was I this emotional at school as well?" I say with a chuckle, lightening my heart.
"I think so." His pen clicks. "I remember you crying quite a bit. Usually because of me."
I look at him. His cheeks are pink. This man with warm, gentle hands and fiercely protective eyes used to make me cry. And I don't know how that could be.
"Were we involved?"
His pen slides off the page, making a comical slash in my charts. Grey eyes snap to me.
"No. Good Merlin, whatever gave you that idea?"
I saw myself in the mirror a few days ago. My eyes are large and brown. My skin is clear. My nose isn't too crooked or pointed. I have fine teeth. My hair seems like it needs quite a bit of mastering. But altogether, I suppose the full image isn't really the most spectacular.
I feel my cheeks heat.
I don't ask such asinine questions again.
I ask to see pictures from my school days. Dr. Malfoy's lips press together, and he says, "I'll see what I can do."
But nothing is ever brought to me.
Harry Potter visits, and I ask him for pictures. He hesitates as well.
"We didn't have a lot of pictures…" But he's lying.
He's able to bring by one picture the next time he visits. We look to be twelve or thirteen. Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and me. We were close friends, I can tell from the photo. He lets me keep it.
I ask Dr. Malfoy about the uniforms we're wearing. Long capes with ties and red accents.
"That's the standard uniform there," he says.
"It's very strange." My eyes are drawn to bushy curls of my hair and my large front teeth. Maybe I should be grateful that anyone found me attractive if they'd known me like this.
"My tie was green," he says without prompting.
I look up. He's staring down at the picture.
"Why? Red not your color?" I smile, wondering how he could look poorly in any color.
He grins, and my stomach flips. "No. I was in a different house. They sorted us by… interests. And my house colors were green and silver. We were the snakes. You were the lions."
I look away from the corner of his mouth down to the picture. "What a strange school."
He chuckles, and it liquifies me. "Yes, I suppose it was."
I dream of Dr. Malfoy that night — his soft smile he tries to hide and his warm fingers. They cup my jaw as we kiss.
He wears a green tie. I tug him down by it as his hands slither around my waist.
I tell Ron I remember our mascot. The Lions.
He smiles, and his hands reach for my jaw. It's not like my dreams at all.
Dr. Malfoy enters the room with one of the older doctors one morning. I've met him before. He wanted to shake my hand, which I thought was rather odd.
"Miss Granger," he rumbles, patting his belly like he's just had a lovely meal. "How are we feeling this morning."
"Quite well, thank you."
He comes to my side, reading my computer graphs with squinted eyes. Dr. Malfoy leans on the wall near the door, staring at me.
"Well, Miss Granger. It's time to talk about your next steps of treatment."
I sit up in my bed, feeling my heart pound. "Alright."
"There are some experimental techniques we'd like to try with you," he says, and I think of electricity and brainwaves and my eyes widen. "Nothing painful. Healer Malfoy is actually one of the leading experts in the technique, so you're in good hands."
My eyes flick over to him, and I try not to think of the "good hands" that I'd be in.
I shift my legs under the sheets and nod for him to continue.
"It's a form of hypnochism—"
"Hypnotism," Dr. Malfoy corrects, and I wonder why some people always get words wrong, or stop in the middle of speaking to course-correct.
"Yes, yes. Hypnotism," the older doctor says slowly, checking with Dr. Malfoy. "It's a mind therapy, using, ah… meditation… and… focus…"
Dr. Malfoy cuts in. "It's similar to a hypnotic trance. A meditation led by a therapist to reach into your mind and see if we can draw forward memories."
I'm struck with the sudden urge to run to a library to read more about this therapy. "That sounds interesting. And Dr. Malfoy will be my therapist?"
"If you are comfortable with that," the older doctor says.
I frown. Why wouldn't I be? He has been the only constant in the two weeks since I've woken up.
"Yes, of course." I look to him. He holds my eyes before looking down.
"Wonderful," the older doctor says. "You can get started on that this week. The next thing to discuss is your discharge from St. Mungo's." My heart stops. "You are physically on the right track. All of your vitals are stable. But Malfoy had some reservations about discharging you."
I feel the churning in my stomach. The fear that they would actually send me away presses over me.
"Your current residence is with Ron Weasley, your fiancé," the older doctor says. "But Dr. Malfoy thought we should discuss if you feel comfortable—"
"No, I don't," I interrupt. I don't feel comfortable. Not alone with him. And definitely not in his bed.
Dr. Malfoy releases a silent sigh, letting go of the tension in his chest.
The older doctor nods. He tells me of the housing St. Mungo's has for new residents. They offer me a furnished flat during my transition.
I stammer, looking to Dr. Malfoy. "I… I'm not sure how much money I have to pay for that."
"No, no, dear." The older doctor places a kind hand on my elbow. "St. Mungo's would be happy to sponsor your recovery."
When he leaves, I ask Dr. Malfoy why.
"You're very important," he says as he produces forms for me to sign.
He looks up to me, and his grey eyes are calculating. "You are a household name."
"From my detective work? Did I solve an important case?"
His mouth opens and closes. "Many of them." He produces a pen for me. "But really, Potter is rather famous. He had a famous childhood. And you helped him quite a bit."
I frown, trying to think of how that could be. "Is Ron famous then too?"
"Yes. Just ask him," he snarks. I smile.
Ron isn't happy when he hears I won't be going home with him. I try to tell him it will be for a short while, during my recovery. But I can't be sure I'll ever return to that old life.
It makes no sense to me.
Ron and his sister, Ginny, bring some of my clothes over to the flat. It's just around the corner from St. Mungo's. It's a one-bedroom with a small kitchen and living area. They stay to visit, and I'm able to turn the conversation away from me and what I don't remember to ask about them. Ginny is a player on an all-female rugby team, which I find quite impressive. Ron is a police officer. We work together with Harry.
It seems so insulated. We never branched out to find out what we truly wanted. We just stayed together as a happy unit.
I receive a phone call from Dr. Malfoy on my second day in the flat. His low drawl is like velvet over the phone, and I can imagine his lips caressing each syllable. He'll be over tomorrow to start the first therapy session.
It takes me an hour to plan out what to wear.
When I open the door for him, he's not in his hospital uniform. My mouth opens in surprise to see his grey jumper that matches his eyes perfectly.
"How's the new place?" he asks as I offer him tea.
"It's fine. I quite like it."
He asks if he can rearrange some of the furniture, and by the time the kettle whistles, he's pushed the armchair to face the couch, barely any space between. He thanks me for his cup, and our fingers brush.
"How long have you been studying this kind of therapy?" I ask him.
He gestures for me to sit on the couch, and when he sits in the armchair, our knees touch until I fold mine up on the couch.
"I studied a form of it under my aunt when I was sixteen," he says. His expression pinches before he takes a sip from his teacup.
"Was she a doctor as well?"
He glances down at my arm briefly, and it makes me follow his eyes. Nothing there.
"No. She wasn't. But I went on to study this technique after school." He adds, "At university."
"Where did you go to university?"
He sets his cup down. "In America. It's a small school." He waves the question away.
He tells me that I just need to relax and follow his instructions. My stomach flutters. I have to stare into his eyes for this hypnosis, and I let out a nervous laugh.
We stare at each other, within an arm's reach. I start counting his lashes before I lose track.
And finally, he says, "What's the first thing you can remember?"
I think of the darkness. Of the pit and the pendulum. And say, "Just voices in the hospital room."
He nods, more to himself than to me. "And the day you woke up. Think of that day." His voice is soft and low, and I wonder what he speaks like to a lover. If he has a lover—
I think of the light that hurt my eyes. The song he was humming. Seeing his face for the first time, like an angel sent to bring me back from hell.
I watch him swallow. "Why did you wake up?"
I stare into his grey eyes, intense with concentration. The song he was singing reminded me of a hat. An old pointed hat, singing.
"A strange dream," I whisper.
His eyes feel like they're digging into mine, and he says, "Think of the dream. Tell me about it."
I think of a hat on a stool. And an old wizard.
"Good," he says. Even though I haven't said anything out loud yet. The praise warms me, like I need it somehow.
He has me think of the specifics. Think of the room I was in. Think of the people next to me.
It's an odd sort of therapy, to relive dreams like this.
"What else do you dream of?"
I think green ties and warm hands.
He blinks, and wets his lips. He looks away from me for a moment before coming back.
"I suppose I've dreamt of a castle and a dragon, but I don't—"
"Let's talk about the castle."
Dr. Malfoy visits every day for a week. He asks me to imagine what my parents look like, even if I don't know. He asks me about the castle a lot — how to get there, how many towers, what does the inside look like.
Some mornings I wake to dreams of his hands on my breasts, his lips trailing down my stomach, his eyes staring into mine.
When he asks me about my dreams, I smile at my private joke. If he only knew…
And sometimes he blinks at me, lips parting and eyes flickering to my mouth before he asks me to focus with a raspy voice.
When I say goodbye to him at the end of the hour, he shakes my hand, and clenches his jaw. Sometimes he leaves quickly. Other times he stares around the living area, almost like he's looking for a reason to stay. I ask him if he wants lunch. He always declines.
I dream of a pointy-faced boy with soft blond hair, scowling at me. He calls me a name. Something dirty and foul. He glares at me in class, and mocks me as I jump up to answer the questions.
He's arrogant, with a smart mouth and a quick tongue. He grows tall before my eyes, his hair falling softly across his brow. He flies on a broomstick, zipping around like a bird with others on broomsticks.
He grows gaunt and pale, and I watch him starve himself. He sneers at me in the corridors, but it's not the same. He's tired.
My eyes snap open, heart pounding. I throw back the sheets, and run for my phone. I page Dr. Malfoy, pacing through my kitchen.
He arrives a minute later, and I open the door to find him in trackies and a t-shirt.
"I didn't expect you—"
"What's wrong?" he pants, like he's run here. Perhaps he has.
"I remembered something… Were you asleep? Or…?"
"No, I was..." He hesitates. "I was at the hospital, just around the corner."
But there's a pillow crease on his cheek that I want to lick. Maybe he was on call, asleep in the lounge.
"I apologize, it's really not that urgent," I say as I step aside for him. He's running a hand through his hair and staring at me. "I think I remember you at school."
He swallows and goes still. His shoulders are tight.
"Did you wear your hair gelled back?" I ask, gesturing towards my own hair. "When you were younger?"
His lips part and he blinks at me. "Yes."
A smile pulls at me, tugging until I'm beaming at him. "I do remember you."
He's not as happy as I am. "What do you remember?"
"You were rather nasty," I tease. "You called me names, I think." He presses his lips together and his cheeks darken. "Was I a know-it-all in school?"
"Yes," he answers immediately.
I chuckle. "And you mocked me for it."
"Yes," he says, stepping closer to me. "What else?"
His eyes are bright now, seeking entrance to my mind.
"I remembered you flying." I laugh. "But that's—"
"Tell me about that."
"You were on a broomstick. There were others on broomsticks as well. And Harry was diving for—"
That wasn't in the dream. That was… new.
"Diving for what,” he prods me.
I frown at him. He's always encouraging me to remember the fanciful.
"A golden bird, or something."
"Yes," he breathes, and his hands land on my shoulders. "Yes, Granger."
His warm hands and warm eyes. His breath is warm on my face, and I think of all the other dreams I've had of him.
"Focus, Granger," he murmurs, like he can see it all in my head. He licks his lips like he always does when I think of him that way.
"The fuck is this!" from the doorway I forgot to close in my haste to let him in.
Ron stands there, holding groceries. His face is turning purple, looking back and forth between Draco and me.
Draco jumps back, hands leaving me. I look down, realizing I'm in my pajamas, a thin camisole.
"I knew it," Ron hisses, slamming the groceries onto the floor, eggs crunching and milk shattering. He fumes, glaring at Draco.
"Ron. I'm remembering. I think." I step toward him, and he doesn't spare me a glance as he pushes past me, grabbing for the collar of Draco's shirt and spitting curses at him.
They grapple with each other, and I scream for them to stop. Ron's fist collides with his face, and blood sprays from Draco's nose. He falls back, and I grab Ron's arm.
"You need to leave! You don't get to come in here start hitting people—"
"He's doing this, Hermione!" Ron pants. "He's keeping you from remembering—"
"He's the only person helping! The only time I remember is when I'm with him!"
Ron sneers down at Draco, ready to pounce again.
"GET OUT!" I push him, screaming. "I don't want you here! Don't come back!"
I slam the door in his surprised face. Turning back to Draco, I help him onto the couch. His nose is broken and still bleeding. He tells me he can pop over to the hospital to get it fixed.
"No, I can help," I say. My hand moves in a strange pattern, and I say, "Episkey."
It's quiet. I stare at my hand, trying to figure out what I meant to do. I'm missing a wand.
I blink quickly, shaking my head. A wand.
"I'm sorry," I say. "I think I meant to…"
But I don't know. I don't know what I meant.
"Granger," he says, turning my jaw back to him with warm fingers. I'm sitting next to him on my couch, almost in his lap now. He looks into my eyes and I feel him pressing into me, his grey eyes sliding through me.
I see a shop. A store full of thin boxes. An old wizened man bringing me sticks to hold.
I shake my head, turning away.
"Granger, stay." He has my face in his hands. He's breathing my air, trying to get me to see something, but all I can see is his mouth, so close to mine. A second ago there was blood dripping, but now he's clean. Like magic. "What do you remember," he whispers.
Floating a feather.
"Tell me about the feather."
I bite my lip. "I was the first to float it." I think about Flitwick's expression. How proud he was. I think of the classroom. I see Draco in the corner, glaring, his own feather twitching. "You were second," I say.
He looks at me and lifts a brow. I feel his thumb brushing across my jaw. "I was always second to you."
I smile, dropping my eyes to his lips. He tries to tell me we can't, but I swallow the words, pressing our mouths together.
My doctor's lips are warm, and strong. He presses me back against the arm of the couch as I remember the boats that drifted across the Black Lake to the castle. His tongue tangles with mine as I remember how McGonagall had visited me in Hampstead, and explained to my parents what I was. His hands slither over my ribs as I remember the Sorting Hat, and Dumbledore's shrewd eyes on me.
My hands flow through his hair, and I think of the wind blowing through it during Quidditch matches. My legs twist around his hips, and I remember the Yule Ball, so happy he didn't make fun of me when I felt so pretty.
I moan into his mouth when his hand finds my breast, just like in my dreams.
I gasp, pulling back from him and looking into his eyes. "You've seen my dreams."
He stares down at me, panting, coming back to himself. "I… Yes. You were… always thinking about them in our sessions." He blinks, and starts to sit up. "We shouldn't be— I'm your Healer, Granger."
I grab his neck, pulling him back. He kisses me soundly, moving his lips in ways I hadn't dreamt of. I pull my camisole up, and over my head. And he's sucking at my skin before I can even lay back again.
"I think I remember," I say.
He looks up at me from his lips' pathway to my chest, and his eyes are cautious. "Do you want me to stop?"
"No." The answer is immediate. And when his lips wrap around my breast, I drag my nails through his hair, scratching his scalp and tightening my legs around his hips.
His warm hands slide around my back and pull me up, setting me over his lap when he sits up. I push my pajama bottoms down, kicking them off my legs and he's staring up at me with anxious eyes.
"Do you remember your first time?" he asks. And I think it's so strange before I realize that if I don't, if I can't remember it, then this would be my first time. This would be the memory.
I think of Ron's fumbling hands and the pain of his thrusts.
"I do," I say. "Make me forget it please."
He bites his lip when I reach into his trousers and stroke him.
"I've been dreaming of you too," he whispers once he's inside of me and I've started to move over him. I sigh into his shoulder, rolling my hips. "You've no idea how badly I wish we'd met two weeks ago."
I pull back, watching his face as my hips ride him. "Why?"
He pushes a curl away from my cheek. "It would be like a second chance."
I kiss him, brushing our mouths together as he pushes his fingers between us, sendings fire across my veins. "I like it better this way."
His hands on my hips as I speed up, his lips on my breasts and his groans in the space between us. When I break apart, I remember something…
A memory of him holding the door for me to Charms class once. He'd not seen it was me. I thanked him and he blinked down at me.
His hips jerk up against me, holding my body close and sucking his name across my skin. When he comes, he grunts and yells out. I can feel his air on my clavicles, and I stroke my fingers through his hair.
Days later, when Ron asks me why I would throw it all away now that I remember, I tell him the memory of what we had wasn't what woke me.
It was the dream of what could be.