A/N: I uploaded this earlier but it was removed, so I rated it M now to be safe Please re-follow/fave/review again.
Harry Potter belongs to JKR *sigh* I'm not making any profit from this etc etc...
Hey everyone! I've been wanting to do this story for quite some time and I'm so excited about it. This story is a dark-ish non-fluffy 6th year AU 'what if', so it's quite different to the majority of my other Dramione work. Aside from the scenario, I've kept everything (characterization included) as canon as possible. I've actually really enjoyed writing this, so it's ended up being a two-shot :)
I've also taken this story as an opportunity to flesh out a few of my 'Dramione Drabbles', so some of you may recognise certain sections.
I hope you all like it! (You can skip to the story now)
Part I & II combined: 10,993
Written for: Pairing Diversity Bootcamp [scrutiny]; OTP Bootcamp [hatred]; Fave House Bootcamp [Shiver]; Daily Inspiration challenge [30th July - fear]; Evilest Women dark!challenge [Mary-Ann Cotton - Dark curse (part 2)]; Dramione prompt challenge [muttering, unappreciated (pt 2)]; Canon vs Fanon comp [Dramione, isolation, shudder, shattered, "I won't let you have that kind of control over me. I can't." (part 1), "Why do you mess with my mind like this?" (part 2)]; Disney comp [Tramp: good girl/bad boy relationship]; Hunger Games comp [D8 - a Gryffindor]; Song comp [easy: Ghosts - Ella Henderson]; WWW comp [Death Eater Toffee: 5,000K plus, main character hurt, assumed to be on other side until end]; 7 Deadly Sins comp [wrath]; HP Chapter comp [HBP: The Seer Overheard - anger/regret. Bonus prompt: fear]; Birthday comp [June - Zodiac - emotion, intensity, impulsive]; Butterflygirly99's Quote Contest [Dark/Angst - "In Light there is Dark, and in Dark there is Light." ― Kami Garcia, Beautiful Darkness]
My friends had you figured out… I turn around and you're creeping in.
And I let you under my skin, 'cause I love living in the sin.
- Part I -
Hermione passed the statue of Boris the Bewildered on the fifth floor of the castle, glaring at the figure as she went. Even when the statue was no longer in her line of sight she turned her head so she could continue to stare at it scathingly. She finally wrenched her gaze away once she spotted the fourth portrait from the left of the statue in her peripheral vision. She muttered the password and walked into the Prefects' bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
Men, she did an internal eye roll. Now in the pleasant solitary of the room, she slumped her back against the door and let out a long breath. Poor Boris, Hermione thought; he didn't deserve her dangerous glares, but just now Hermione could only view him, even as an inanimate object, as a member of the male population. And that was something that had been making her life rather stressful and tiresome as of late.
Hermione walked over to the swimming pool sized bathtub on the other side of the spacious room. The gentle lighting of the flickering wall torches created a soothing and calming ambience, but she felt the need to vent about her man-related grievances one last time in the hopes of shunning them from her thoughts for an hour or two, allowing her time to enjoy a long, hot soak in peace.
The first person that entered her mind was of course, Ron. He and Hermione had barely exchanged two sentences ever since her impromptu canary attack on him. She couldn't exactly blame him for keeping his distance now, but it just frustrated her to no end that he still couldn't see why she did it. Hermione herself didn't really know, but she was completely new to the notions of 'feelings' and relationships. It scared her, and setting those birds on him seemed to be the only way she could express herself at the time. She'd had crushes before: Viktor Krum, for example, and even Professor Lockhart in her second year, but her feelings for Ron had been developing so slowly and subtly each year that it took the sight of him and Lavender inhaling each other's faces for realisation to come crashing down on her hard.
If that wasn't mentally draining enough, then adding Harry and that bloody Potions book to the mix certainly was. She didn't know why, but Hermione really didn't trust that book, and it annoyed her that nobody else seemed to give it a second thought. She would have thought that Harry, of all people, would be cautious about it, but he seemed to be too busy enjoying his new Potions ability to take any notice of the potential threat. Then there was that theory that Hermione was jealous of being outshined by him, which was completely bogus; she'd be over the moon for Harry if he didn't have so much… guidance from this so-called 'Prince'.
And lastly, there was Cormac McLaggen. He literally made Hermione's skin crawl with all of his suggestive leers and sickening chat-up lines that he obviously thought were incredibly romantic. He really thought he was something special, some God-like Lothario. Hermione shuddered; completely disgusted with herself that she let him kiss her. If that wasn't a sign that she wasn't losing her mind, she didn't know what was.
Hermione's entire body was tense and rigid when she reached the array of taps located at the far side of the tub. She hadn't missed the painful irony that her two best friends had made it onto her mental hit list whilst Draco Malfoy had not… for once. He seemed to have gained a permanent spot there over their time at Hogwarts, but this year he'd been flying suspiciously under the radar. Hermione knew all too well about Harry's 'Malfoy's a Death Eater' theory, but she didn't buy it for some reason. She just had a hunch that everything wasn't as it seemed, just like she felt towards the Potions book.
The prospect of a tub full of warm water was tantalisingly close now, and Hermione reached out for one of the taps. Her fingers barely made contact with the cool metal when the door flung open, and her isolated reverie was destroyed. Given recent events, Hermione could only assume the new arrival to be male. And she was right.
"Oh great, a Mudblood," Draco's drawling voice echoed around the room. Hermione jumped at the close proximity of it. The room was very large, and she'd barely registered the sound of his footsteps approaching, so it was safe to say that his presence unnerved her somewhat. What's more, his interruption of what was supposed to be a relaxing time had put him back onto her list.
"Malfoy," she turned. "How lovely to see you." Her voice was dripping with sarcasm, but that was really nothing new when it was Draco she was addressing.
He arched a blond brow. "I could only wish that the feeling was mutual," he drawled. It was just typical that Granger was here. His whole body hurt; all he wanted was to ease the strain of his aching muscles that his task had inflicted on him, but apparently luck was not on his side today. Come to think of it, luck not being on his side seemed exactly the thing that put him under such pressure to begin with. He constantly felt like he was being watched; being the dark side's 'Chosen One' wasn't all that it cracked up to be, that was for sure.
"You need to leave," he told Hermione.
"Excuse me, but I was here first," she replied haughtily.
"Yes," Draco confirmed. "Here you are, standing beside an empty bathtub. I, for one, actually came here with a purpose in mind."
"And so did I," Hermione scowled at him, whipping around and reaching out for a tap again. She really had no intention of taking a bath whilst he was in the room, but it was just for show. Anger and frustration got the better of Draco, and he lunged out for her. He grabbed her small wrist and gripped it tightly in his hand, thereby causing Hermione to spin around and face him.
The action reminded her all too well of fifth year, when he and his lackeys physically restrained her and other members of the D.A as Umbridge interrogated Harry. Hermione instantly felt her cheeks warm at the memory, but luckily for her, Draco was too stressed and angry to notice.
"Purebloods before Mudbloods, Granger," he spat. "Get out."
"Grow up, Malfoy," Hermione said. She had a nasty comment waiting on the tip of her tongue when her breath caught in her throat as she really looked at him.
Only Hermione knew that she had noticed how Draco had grown and physically matured into quite a good-looking man. Well, 'quite' was an understatement, but she couldn't help but factor in his awful personality even when studying him by eye. Hell, she'd probably have had a crush on him too at one point if he weren't so arrogant and bigoted.
She daren't tell anyone about the fact that she'd started to deliberately take notice of him lately, but it was ultimately these observations that led to her shock in that moment. His platinum blond hair, usually so meticulously styled and placed, now fell in a dishevelled mop, covering his dull grey eyes that normally sparkled and flared the colour of steel when caught up in a heated argument with her. Dark bags framed them, and his elegant and aristocratic bone structure seemed sharp and dangerous. Hermione wondered if he'd lost weight. He certainly didn't look healthy; she knew that much.
Something about the way Draco presented himself seemed off, too. Usually the epitome of composure and nonchalance, he was quite unsettled standing before her. The arm of the hand that clasped Hermione's wrist was shaking slightly, and the closeness of their bodies allowed Hermione to see his cheek twitching, as if he was biting it from the inside. And his eyes… they were struggling to maintain contact with hers. Hermione could almost swear that the grey of his irises was moving and swirling like troubled storm clouds.
Suddenly, Draco cleared his throat, and Hermione immediately snapped her gaze away, only just realising how obvious her study-session had just been. She braced herself for the next venomous comment or insult.
"What are you doing?"
The words were to be expected… the tone was not. Instead of being demanding and borderline abusive, Draco asked the question almost conversationally. Hermione bit her lip, wondering if she should put herself out there and risk his prejudicial wrath. She was very aware that Draco's face was easily readable. He looked quizzical, yet scared.
Scared? It was one thing for Draco's ever-stoic mask to have cracked, but the fact that he was showing such an emotion rather unsettled Hermione. She shouldn't give a damn about him, given their history, but she was cursed with a compassionate nature.
"Malfoy, are you… is something wrong?"
Draco scoffed derisively. He chuckled to himself, but the sound was hollow. "Me? I'm just peachy Granger. Not that I care for your pity."
Hermione could tell by the way his voice broke that he was lying. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes and tried to keep her tone calm, which was very tricky as her body was shaking. She was quite disturbed by the endless causes of Draco's current state her imagination was coming up with.
"Malfoy, I'm being serious. You don't look well."
"So what? I haven't been sleeping much," Draco snarled in a low voice as he continued to squeeze Hermione's wrist.
"It's not just that. You look weak and hurt and," Hermione gulped. "Scared."
Draco looked like he was preparing himself to rebuff her comment again, but she jumped in before he could say anything. "Malfoy, you don't have to play these games with me. You and I both know for a fact that you don't hate me as much as you act like you do." Hermione's eyes flicked to the wrist he was holding.
The words were bold of her - perhaps too bold - but Hermione didn't care. She was beyond caring what Draco thought of her and had been ever since she met him. It was just ironic that her sole motive in pressing him so hard was because she cared about him as a person – or at least his health – to an extent.
Draco swallowed hard. His eyes travelled to the same place Hermione's had done. He knew very well what she was referring to just now, but he thought that event was dead and buried. They'd never spoken of it to anyone, let alone to each other.
It was a stupid thing, really; Draco couldn't even begin to recall what exactly had gone through his mind at the time. It was fifth year, and he and the rest of the Inquisitorial Squad were ordered to restrain the D.A members as Professor Umbridge (or 'Queen of the Toads' as most students called her) interrogated Potter.
Draco had held Hermione as instructed: wrists held behind her with his wand jammed into her back threateningly. For a while he quite enjoyed having her and her dirty blood at his mercy, but then her brave resolve faltered; she couldn't help but let out a feeble and pained whimper.
There was nothing natural about Draco's reaction. He ought to have put more pressure onto his wand – caused her more pain – but he did quite the opposite. He slackened his grip around her wrists and replaced his pointed wand tip with the pad of his thumb as he rubbed her back soothingly for a while before replacing it with his wand again, though, with far less pressure than before.
Their schoolyard rivalry had seemed like something much bigger in that moment. It was like Umbridge created deeper divides between the Slytherins and the rest of the school - it seemed like war - and that put Draco's degree of hatred for Hermione into perspective. He realised that if push came to shove, he'd sooner fight with her than against her.
And now he was practically living in the disfavoured scenario. Nothing she could say or do would help him, not that he wanted her help. This was his chance to show her that he was just as talented as she and her muddy blood were.
Regardless of this, there was a small part of Draco that wanted to break down in a flood of tears and tell her everything. It was tempting, but the divide between them, even when they stood so close together, was too obvious for him to ignore now. He didn't see Hermione as a classmate as she stood before him; he saw her as the embodiment of lightness, and good, and purity – all of the things he, standing in the shadows and emitting darkness – was not.
There was no blurring the lines again. It was too late. Draco had made his choice, and that choice made Hermione his enemy.
"I just want my damn bath, Granger," he said slowly. And he really did; over the last few months he didn't think there were a time when stress wasn't a prominent part of his day. He couldn't remember the last time he laughed, or even smiled for that matter. Draco envied the girl in front of him, who thought she had peaked in terms of stress-levels because her stupid crush wasn't being reciprocated. That was infantile and pathetic compared to his problems, which practically saw his childhood ripped from him in the blink of an eye.
If only he'd known what he'd been letting himself in for…
If only he hadn't been so blinded with pride and agreed to it…
Just, if only…
Hermione's use of his given name was enough to bring his thoughts back to the present. She was really concerned about him now. His grey eyes had glazed over and turned vacant and watery, and he'd somehow paled even more in the space of a few seconds.
"What?" he finally said, narrowing his eyes.
"Tell me what's going on," Hermione said quietly. Her gut told her that this wasn't a time for a silly argument about him intruding on her bath time. This was serious, and simply about him.
"I can't," Draco answered in a shaky voice. He looked so vulnerable and fragile that Hermione was almost inclined to wrap her arms around him and offer him support, both physically and emotionally, but she resisted. This was still the Pureblood supremacist bastard, Draco Malfoy, after all, and he was not her friend.
"Just get out," Draco ordered angrily, running his free hand through his hair.
"I would if you'd get your hands off me," Hermione retorted, trying to yank herself free. She should have known trying to offer consolation would be a waste of breath; Draco was always too driven by his pride and status for his own good.
The more she struggled against him, the tighter Draco seemed to hold on. The blond himself, didn't know why he was doing it when all he wanted was to be left alone. Perhaps it was because deep down, he saw Hermione as his only lifeline. His only chance of freedom.
It could have just been his desperation or his tired eyes playing tricks on him, but for the first time, Draco started to see how pretty the witch had become over the years. He'd always been so blinded by hatred for her and her blood that he'd never truly seen her like this:
Bushy hair – no longer frizzy and hedge-like - fell loosely around her shoulders in soft chestnut waves; framing the smooth and creamy skin of her heart-shaped face. Her deep chocolate-brown eyes looked up at him so curiously and innocently, for the first time not boring into his with loathing and annoyance; and her pink lips were slightly parted in unwanted concern for him.
Granted, Hermione wasn't what Draco would class as breathtakingly beautiful, but there was something about her that he found quite alluring; that he just couldn't seem to look away from.
Everything in his brain was shouting at him to remember who and what she was, but still he kept staring into those brown eyes, which he soon discovered, contained flecks of amber within them. She seemed so bright and angelic, the only ray of hope left in Draco's life. Considering her as such was a sign that he'd officially hit rock bottom. He'd sunk further than a Mudblood on the social ladder, and that meant Draco had little of his dignity left to lose.
This is what, in hindsight, he would justify his next move with. In the heat of the moment, however, Draco didn't quite acknowledge what thoughts were whirling in his messed up mind. All that seemed to exist in the world was Hermione, and Draco found himself closing the small gap between them and covering her sweet, pure lips with his own sordid and corrupted ones, as if hoping he could drink in some of her courage and fire and restore some of his stolen innocence by doing so.
Her lips were soft, damp and tasted just as sweet as they looked. It felt so good for Draco to feel something positive again; something that wasn't centred on assassination and misery. Hermione didn't react at first, but very soon her body won out against her mind, and she returned the kiss with pressure and enthusiasm to match Draco's. The feeling of Hermione's lips moving against his lit a fire deep within him, but at the same time Draco felt calming ripples pulsate throughout his body with the sense of companionship the kiss brought. Draco felt more alive than he'd felt in months.
Hermione willingly sank into his touch and his kiss. She even shocked herself when she didn't push Draco away, but after yearning after Ron and watching him snog Lavender every day for so long that it felt good to release her frustration. The kiss may have been intended, on both sides, as a meaningless way of making themselves feel better, but Hermione would be lying if she said there was something special about it. Kissing Draco felt so taboo, but Hermione couldn't seem to get enough. It was so addictively thrilling and sinful, and she loved it.
Hermione raked her fingernails through Draco's hair and against his scalp as the tension within her became too much to contain. He grazed his teeth against her lower lip, making her gasp. Draco took this opportunity to deepen the kiss, blurring their respective light and dark auras into one grey spiral of emotion. Whilst connected this way, there was no good and bad or love and hate. There was no divide. They were one.
Unfortunately it didn't last long enough. Draco's mind was engulfed in a hazy darkness, and his insides settled and turned numb once more when she pulled away. Draco rested his forehead against Hermione's, panting slightly.
They stood in silence for a while, just drinking one another in as they both mused over their respective motives for doing such a thing. Hermione's nails were now gripping Draco's aching shoulders, and his arm was still loosely wrapped around her body. The position was far too intimate for either of them to feel comfortable with in normal circumstances, but Draco had grown up more than he intended to ever let on. He knew there was time and a place to allow pride and blood-status to take over, and this moment now wasn't it.
He needed this; to feel someone close to him; to feel somewhat human again. And in hindsight… well, Draco was damn glad he hadn't allowed his prejudices against Hermione to control the situation. He was very curious to know why she hadn't slapped him or hexed him, but it really wasn't the time, because Hermione was just as stubborn as he was when it came to pride.
"Malfoy…" she breathed.
"Shh," Draco whispered. He pressed his lips against her forehead lightly and closed his eyes as he locked this sensation and memory away for permanent storage in his brain. He needed a moment like this to hold onto when his task became too much again.
Hermione wrinkled her nose as Draco's breath tickled her skin, but she didn't say anything. She just listened to the steady beating of her heart until she felt the warmth of his sinful mouth lift.
"Thank you, Hermione," he said cryptically. "That was very special." His entire attitude towards her was so soft and sincere that Hermione couldn't quite believe there was an actual genuine human under all of Draco's arrogant bravado and prejudice.
"Tell me what's going on," Hermione said, making contact with his grey eyes and holding it for as long as possible. She shivered when he delicately brushed his fingertips along her cheek, but not in a bad way. For possibly the first time ever, Draco was looking past the fact that Hermione was a Muggleborn. And that terrified him.
He removed his hand sharply and shook his head, knowing the prize for saying anything was a personalised wooden box… called a coffin.
"Just get out," he said, but with far less venom than before. "I want my bath." He turned on his heel but Hermione reached out and grabbed his left sleeve.
"Not until you tell me-"
"NO!" Draco yelled, suddenly overcome with panic that his greatest secret would be exposed, and by Potter's right-hand witch, no less. "I won't let you have that kind of control over me, Granger. I can't." He was shaking so violently now that he was pretty sure he was on the verge of a mental breakdown.
"I'm not trying to control-"
"Yes, you are," Draco accused her, their brief moment of compassion and unity now behind them. He'd had his moment of weakness and now he needed to focus again. "Knowledge is power and power is control, Granger, and that's not something I want you lording over me when we're on different-" He snapped his lips shut, knowing he'd said too much.
Hermione regarded him steadily. "Different what, Malfoy?"
"Nothing," Draco growled. He tried to shake off her hand but Hermione held on tighter, not knowing whether to feel terrified or angry. In the end she settled on both.
"Let go of me, Mudblood," Draco snarled. The use of the derogatory name was more down to his urgency to unlatch Hermione rather than out of genuine spite. He summoned some of his last restores of strength and jerked his entire upper body away from her. His muscles screamed at him following the sudden burst of movement, but all Draco cared about was getting Hermione off his arm. He succeeded, but not before her nails dragged along the length of his forearm as he turned, causing his sleeve to ride up.
There was a gasp from Hermione, and then a heavy silence. Draco kept his back to her, but his eyes were wide and frantic and his breaths were quick but laboured with panic.
"Oh Godric," Hermione said in a small voice. She stumbled back a couple of paces and eventually collapsed against the stone wall. She was shaking her head rapidly from side-to-side in disbelief. Draco's inner-arm was no longer visible to her, but the mental image of it was still stamped freshly onto the surface of her brain. There, branded onto his porcelain flesh, was the ugly jet-black Dark Mark.
Draco bit the shredded skin on the inside of his cheek. He knew he ought to just Obliviate Hermione on the spot and be done with it, but a hopeful part of him got the feeling that the witch wouldn't be blind to the correlation between the tattoo and his exhausted countenance. He quickly shrugged these thoughts away, knowing that he couldn't risk destroying any more of his integrity by pleading for a Mudblood's help; brightest witch of her age or not.
He turned swiftly towards the wall with his wand poised to cast the Memory Charm but Hermione had somehow scurried over to the exit of the bathroom.
"Granger, get back here!" he commanded, internally cringing at how uneasy his voice was.
The girl just shook her head again; she was for once, lost for words. Quite frankly, Draco didn't really see where the shock was coming from considering Potter had been going on about his Death-Eater theory since the school year began.
Hermione looked him over one final time with a blank expression before walking out of the room and letting the door slam shut. Draco had finally got what he wanted – to be alone – but in some ways he felt even worse than before.
Even when the bathtub filled and he slid into the silky water it was like his muscles were permanently ceased up and knotted. Draco turned so his chest was pressed against the side of the bath, and he propped his head up on his arms, which were flat against the floor where he and Hermione previously stood.
The Dark Mark stood out far too harshly against his pale skin, and glinted menacingly at Draco in the shadows. Now that he had this, it was like he was constantly being watched. There was no freedom for him anymore. He was trapped, even when he was in Hogwarts: a place where he was supposed to be safe. It was just painfully ironic that the one man who could protect him was the man he'd been ordered to dispose of once and for all.
Draco hadn't even realised that a bubble of rage had been building inside him until his body moved independently from his mind to release it, and he slammed a fist down onto the floor. The crack of the impact was deafening but Draco barely heard it. He proceeded to do something that Malfoys were implicitly brought up not to do, and lost his composure completely.
The scared little boy who he thought he'd buried found his voice, and Draco howled in pain that derived form physical, emotional and psychological sources.
He buried his face in his arms as his body hung limply in the hot water, partly wishing that he could just sink to the bottom and never resurface. Then the tears finally sprung free from his eyes and Draco cried out all of the emotion he'd been storing inside himself for months.
He knew that crying wasn't going to help him in any way, but Draco couldn't give a shit. He just wanted to keep screaming and weeping until he felt a degree of inner-peace wash away the stress. So far, it wasn't working. He was fighting a losing battle but he continued to cry regardless.
All the way across the room on the other side of the door, Hermione wiped away a tear of her own. Never had she imagined herself feeling sorry for the boy who'd made her life hell, but yet here she was, listening to him unload his grievances and fighting the impulse to run back in.
A few moments ago, Hermione had been prepared to tell Harry that he'd been right about Malfoy all along, and that he'd been the snake who almost killed Katie Bell. She'd always known Draco as an unfeeling vessel who'd never feel a single shred of regret about that particular attack. She thought all Death Eaters were dead inside to carry out such a task, but Draco was proving her wrong right now. His cries sounded like screams of a wounded animal – a helpless child -, and his entire shattered demeanour was more than enough evidence to tell her that he was a victim in all of this.
He had the capacity to feel true and raw emotions, and that meant he could still be saved.
- TBC -
A/N: I'm actually quite proud of how that turned out. Thank you SO much for reading, everyone. See you for part two ;)
Comments are greatly appreciated :)