Let's Pretend

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Neither of us chose to fight this war, it was forced upon us from the day The Dark Lord returned. I fought to protect myself, a muggle-born witch in a world where pure-blood supremacy was rapidly becoming the dominant ideology. He fought to protect his mother who was held captive by The Dark Lord. Ironic, that he was loathed for fighting for love whilst I was loved for fighting for my own self-preservation. Nobody really raised the matter, but then again nobody really cared to see beneath his icy facade. They all saw him as cruel, vindictive brat who was up to his eyeballs in the Dark Arts. But I had learned long ago that to dance with beasts one must know how to penetrate their disguise.

He was standing before me, platinum blonde hair falling sleekly over his haunted grey eyes, hiding the flecks of mercurial silver that glimmered within his stormy orbs. Pale skin stretched taut over pointed features, slender frame worn thin from years of abuse and pressure. I pitied him, raised from birth in prejudice and callousness, the only person who had ever shown him love and warmth was now a bargaining chip in the Dark Lord's grasp. Shattered, inside and out by the events of his life, Draco Malfoy had always captivated me, from the day we first met.

My years at Hogwarts led me to spend countless hours in the library, hours in which I built up a formidable wealth of knowledge and power. Hours I used to break down the walls surrounding the enigma that was Malfoy, the callous youth that contained a broken boy. Appearances had to be kept, so when in public we would trade insults and taunts but in private we were friends, two individuals who were so adrift in a strange world.

Ron and Harry never knew how much he helped us; they never saw him for anything other than the son of a Death Eater, as a servant of The Dark Lord. I saw him as a person, I saw him as a kindred spirit. The Basilisk in second year, how had my two best friends never realised that the scrawl 'pipes' wasn't in my penmanship? They had spent veritable hours studying my handwriting after all, cheating off my notes the day before exams. More importantly, how had the page found itself to my hand? Hermione Granger would never willingly tear a page from a book, something my two best mates should have known. I had been petrified after all, could I really have ripped a page and clenched it in my fist before being frozen. Of course, they didn't know who had been helping me research the Chamber of Secrets.

When the Death Eaters attacked the Quidditch World Cup he had warned me to run, he had cared enough to ensure I was safe. The boys had of course seen it as his usual arrogant taunting, although I had recognized what he was doing. It was why I had looked back over my shoulders when we took off into the forest; feeling sharp pangs of concern as he drew his wand and entered the burning campsite.

And in sixth year, he took the Dark Mark, betraying everything I stood for and helping to murder our mentor. I saw the strain that had overtaken his body as the years went on, the pressure that he was undergoing as he fought to remain afloat in an ever more turbulent vortex that threatened to drown him.

Today I had agreed to meet him one last time before the final battle, one last time in the Forbidden Forest. I couldn't stay away from him now, not when I may die tomorrow. At least if I die, I can die knowing he knows how I feel.

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Soft brown ringlets falling to the small of her back framing chocolate brown eyes, wan smile over a listless face, her life and energy having ebbed away during her torture at Malfoy Manor. I had been forced to watch, helpless in the face of my mad aunt's cruelty, not daring to save her lest my mother feel the brunt of Bella's wrath. My whole life I had been taught that pure-bloods were superior; my entire childhood had been dedicated to the stereotype of mudblood damnation. It had changed when I met her; she was different than the others. She saw me for who I was and not who I had been made to be. If things were different, I would hold her close and never let her go, but she is an agent of the Order, a Gryffindor and a muggle-born whilst I am servant of the Dark Lord, a Slytherin and a pureblood.

The hopeless infatuation had begun in my first year when I had introduced myself in a pompously superior manner as the Malfoy Heir and her response had been indifferent. It had rankled for a time that she did not know the significance of my name, that she lacked the fear and respect that the name Malfoy usually struck in people. It had only been later, much later, that I realised that that was just who she was, somebody who didn't judged a book by its cover but got to know them by their personality and who they really were.

I hadn't trusted her at first, how could I? I had been raised to trust nobody but myself for fear that my secrets could be used against me. But she had been there when nobody else was; she had seen beneath my facades and seen me for the person I was.

I envied her; she had everything I ever wanted. She was talented and skilled in the ways of magic; she had known a real family and genuine friendship. She had freedom to be herself and not be concerned for what others might say, she had never been afraid to stand up for what she believed in.

She had given me the strength to defy my father in my fifth year, helping her and her friends in avoiding Umbridge's talons. My father's wrath had been fearsome to be behold when he found out, the scars he had inflicted could still be seen across my skin, wounds made by Dark Magic could never be healed after all. I had been at my happiest when he had been cast into Azkaban, thinking myself finally free. How naive I had been, for once he had been incarcerated the Dark Lord had taken my mother captive, had forced me to take the mark and serve him in his sinister machinations.

But she had called me to her side tonight and I had come, because I had fallen in love with her. And deep down I couldn't face the final battle without seeing her smile one last time.

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"Draco," she murmured softly as he enveloped her in his arms, breathing in her scent.

"I'm so sorry 'Mione, I couldn't save you at the Manor," he said into her ear, fighting back the tears that threatened to fall.

"It's not your fault," she said, pulling away slightly and pressing her lips to his.

Their first kiss was magical, tongues battling for domination as he nipped at her lower lip, eliciting a low moan from her as they broke apart. He smiled, a genuine smile that only she could put on his weary face.

"Tonight, let's pretend that I'm a pureblood," she said softly.

"Let's pretend that I'm not a Death Eater," he responded.

"Let's pretend that we're not going to war at midnight."

"Let's pretend that we can be together."

So they pretended, there on the leaf-strewn ground of the forest. She gave herself to him; she gave him everything she had and more, her breath hitching as she tried not to cry out when he entered her. He gave her the same, caring and loving as they pretended that for just a few hours, nothing really mattered but the two of them.

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They stood facing each other in the Entrance Hall of Hogwarts as all around them people duelled and died, their wands pointed shakily at each other's chest. Let's pretend that we mean nothing to each other, Hermione thought as she let fly the first curse.

Soon they were duelling in earnest, tears falling freely from their eyes as they were forced to stand up for what they had too. Their movements were elegant and fluid, moving as if in a dance, their last waltz as they circled each other in the ruined hall. Let's pretend that she is my enemy, he thought as he let fly a jet of purple flames, narrowly missing her as she twirled aside.

The ground around their feet grew hot and cracked, the very air thrumming with the power of their magic, a deadly battle in which no other dared interrupt. Instead people stared and watched, as the two most powerful students of their generation circled and fought, wondering all the while why each looked so distraught and grief-stricken. Nobody dared comment, nobody stepped forward; the intimacy of the duel forcing their allies to keep their distance; the savage explosion of energy surrounding the star-crossed couple would have likely torn apart any who dared venture forward.

He knew what was about to happen a split second before his curse made contact, and as she fell to her knees he was sprinting towards her, an anguished scream of pain leaving his lips. He clutched as the life ebbed from her, his tears falling hot and heavy across her face.

Let's pretend that I don't love you, she whispered as she died in his arms, peace settling over her tortured features. The whisper carried through the still air and he was aware that every eye was upon him, every accusing glare and sympathetic look. What did they matter, now that she was dead? Now that he had taken her from the world.

He reached into his belt to draw the concealed blade her always carried, his last line of defence when his magic could no longer be of aid. He stared into her lifeless chocolate eyes, glassy and unseeing, and pulled her into a final kiss, his lips gently gracing her cooling lips as he brought the blade to rest between his ribs.

Blood gushed hot and red down his robes as he pierced his heart and slowly he slumped to his side, their hands intertwined and as he faded he whispered back, his eyes fluttering closed in the peace of death.

I'm Tired of Pretending.

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A/N:Reviews are appreciated.