We Have Sinned
Chapter One: Tamed Indifference
musty odor of dust and the oak smell of aged pages was oddly
comforting in its simplicity. Hermione Granger loved this place with
its quiet stillness and the warm glow of torch light. She could lose
herself for hours in the time-weathered tomes concealed within its
walls, and she did, on a regular basis. For six years she had escaped
here, and for six years she had yet to find a flaw in its appeal.
That is until today. How she had managed six years without running
into it, escaped her.
Clutching her books to her chest she picked up her pace, anger making her stride jerky and quick. It was the sharp click of her shoes on the marble, the rush of wind carrying the heady scent of lavender and citrus; that made the intruder glance up. He raised a winged eyebrow at her form, which had sought refuge at a table behind him and to his left. Draco Malfoy ignored her, returning to the piece of parchment he had been writing on, not all that concerned about her current temperament. She was prone to fits of mania anyway. Draco picked up his quill, sucking on it for a moment, and continued his essay.
Hermione however was not so prone to easy dismissals. The intrusion on her sanctuary was in her eyes grounds for unbridled anger, especially when it concerned a cold-hearted, evil boy like Draco Malfoy. And he was sitting in her seat no less. Usually by this time the library was empty save for Madame Pince and the occasional procrastinating first year. That was part of the library's appeal at this time, solitude. But never had she seen Draco Malfoy without his band of merry losers. And to think her day had been going so well.
Malfoy and his cronies never-ending torment had increased tenfold since the start of the term. The tension throughout the school seemed to fuel the fire that separated Gryffindor and Slytherin. The rumors flying around about the rise of You-Know-Who had sparked a school wide war between the forces of good and evil, with her house on the side of good and rotten-spoiled brats like Malfoy on the other. As a direct result the taunting and cruel jokes had been on a steady rise, mostly directed towards her, Ron and Harry. They were after-all the undisputed leaders of the forces of good it seemed, appointed without their knowledge to take the brunt of it.
Opening her book she tried her best to ignore the silver-locked Slytherin. It was a work of fiction, something she had allowed herself to indulge in as of late. She found it easier to be lost in the trials and tribulations of people who didn't exist. Settling herself in the chair, her book spread before her Hermione let herself be taken away to a world far better then the one she called her own.
He went a whole hour and a half without bothering her. They sat in companionable silence, him writing furiously and her absorbed in her book. She supposed, as she felt the book wrenched from her hands that an hour and a half of peace was all she could expect.
"Midnight Hour," Draco read the spine, his usual amused drawl did nothing for her nerves. "Reading into the Dark Arts Granger?"
From her perch she glared up at him.
"Do you mind?"
reached up to grab the book but he stepped easily back out of her
"Not at all actually," he sent her the patented Malfoy smirk, eyebrows raised, blue-grey eyes flashing with superiority.
a loss Hermione looked around for Madame Pince, her only savior in
this matter but for once the doddering old woman was nowhere to be
found. It bloody figured.
"Of course you wouldn't," she stood. "Just give it back." He sent her a look.
"No. I don't think I will." He crossed the short distance to her usual table, the one he had been occupying just moments earlier, and perched on the edge, one long leg lazily dangling over the edge. "Let's see what nonsense you've filled you head with." He licked a finger and dramatically turned the page. His brow furrowed for a moment as he read it, and then a smile overtook his face, a mocking smile.
"At the thought that he had witnessed that kiss-Grace snuck a quick look to the porch rail trying to see just how much he had seen. Since the kiss had taken place in full on porch light she knew he had seen plenty and the thought filled her with pleasure."
snorted closing the book. "Rubbish. A pity, and who would have
thought the studious Granger actually enjoyed this nonsense?"
Hermione was fuming. She glared at him, stalking over to the table.
reached for the book but he simply pulled the arm holding it behind
his back. Scowling she went to reach for it.
"You are so childish!" Malfoy leaned back smirking.
"And you are so pitifully sad." Hermione growled and tried to reach from the other side with her other arm. But he was too wide and she was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as he passed the book from hand to hand, forcing her to use both on either side of him, till she was practically hugging the evil bastard.
"Alright! I'm sad, I'm weak and you're a git so can you PLEASE give me back my book?"
"Just so that's clear," he was practically grinning now, holding the book up between them, all childish innocence and cocky manner.
snatched it from his pale fingers, and stalked back to her stuff
muttering under her breath, mostly about his immaturity and his ego.
Malfoy hopped off the desk, positively cheerful, completely satisfied
with his torment for the day. He doubted anyone else was so easy and
so much fun to bother. With the exception of Potter and Weasley, but
they had grown just as much as he over the years and were not afraid
in the least to put up a fight.
"If your done picking on people much smaller then yourself, I'll be leaving now," she slung her satchel over her shoulder, and tossed that little tidbit over it as well.
amusement disappeared and the cheerful glint in his eyes turned to a
glare. He crossed the space between them before she could blink. Cold
hands found her jaw and he gripped her face in those same, long, pale
fingers that had gripped her book just seconds before; once taunting,
now threatening. She winced as he rather painfully dug into her chin.
Her hazel eyes looked up the foot or so, into his icy ones, defiant but a bit fearful. He more then a little resembled his father. It was startlingly clear now.
"In that you are sadly mistaken," his voice was soft, almost a caress. She wasn't sure if he was referring to his picking on smaller people or her leaving. She seriously hoped it was the former, the look in his eyes was a bit crazed, and a lot angrier then she was used to seeing.
"Let go of me," she bit out, hard and unflinching. He didn't scare her.
"Potter and Weasel aren't here to help you now Mudblood," he leaned closer, till his face was almost level with hers.
"Who says I need them?"
fingers lessened their hold a bit. One moved against her cheek and he
"Only every bit of trouble you've ever been in," he whispered.
eyes never wavered but there was a bit of fear there, and confusion.
It was enough to satisfy him. He released her, if not a little
roughly and picked up his essay.
"Are you done now?" Hermione snapped, regaining a bit of her lost pride, and looked at him.
"Yes. But you'd do well to remember what you are Granger. And what I am." His eyes were like ice.
"An egotistical, evil prat?" He ignored her, striding towards the exit, leaving her there angry and embarrassed, not even allowing her the closure of a response.
Evil. The word pricked at his skin, leaving him even colder then he was. Evil. The naive little twit had no idea what evil was, could not even imagine. Draco strode down the hall, his blood boiling. Evil was a word that better suited his father.
Although in his youth he had idolized Lucius, adored him even, he now had a better idea of what the man was capable of, and felt a loathing more powerful then any adoration. No. Draco Malfoy was not evil. Not yet. At least he was trying not to be. But the current circumstances made it very difficult. He idly rubbed his chest. Very difficult indeed.
was still red-faced and over anxious when she reached the Gryffindor
common room. Knuckles white from clenching the book, she stomped
inside, her expression mutinous. Harry and Ron looked up from their
"What's wrong?" Ron moved a pawn.
"Malfoy," she grunted. "Little prat was bothering me in the library."
Both boys clenched their teeth a perfectly synchronized show of anger. Muttering phrases like "complete arse" and "bastard son of a something or other". Hermione smiled, looking at the game, pride swelling in her chest at their support of her hatred. Ron was of course winning, the debris of Harry's little pieces littered the table. Few matched Ron's skill, but once in a while she and Harry found themselves competing at his level. Today was no such day for Harry, however. Ron was showing no mercy and the board was his miniature battlefield.
smiled wider, all thoughts of Draco Malfoy and the library banished
from her mind, replaced instead by the comfort of
It was two days before Hermione even caught a glimpse of him again. They were, it seemed, avoiding each other and doing a beautiful job of it. That is, until, they both decided to show up to dinner Friday night at exactly the same time. Hermione made it a point to ignore him, casting not a glance in his direction. But that didn't prevent her from feeling him. She knew he was there, impossible to ignore completely. Across from her Ron let out a snort.
"Looks like Malfoy got into a bit of a lover's quarrel," He raised an eyebrow, popping a piece of carrot into his mouth.
turned her head only slightly, not wishing to draw attention to
herself. Across his cheek was a dull yellowish bruise, standing out
horribly against the usually pale skin. This was not an unusual
ailment for the boy. Once a week it seemed some girl was slapping
him, only to forgive him again hours later. Much to the chagrin of
his roommates who usually had to find something else to do for an
hour or so while all was forgiven.
"The only thing that opens more then his mouth is his zipper," Harry muttered, stabbing at a piece of meat.
was silent, her eye still searching him out. He was surrounded by
people but somehow isolated, pushed back farther then the others,
completely standing out. He winced in pain, the grimace clear to see
even from her seat across the way. But instead of his face he rubbed
his chest, his long fingers dipping into his robe. From the look on
his face it was more then the usual scratches from frenzied nails, or
bruises from small angry fists. It was almost as if he was trying to
conceal the pain. That certainly made sense to Hermione. Malfoy hated
weakness and showing pain in the least was certainly considered just
that, unless there happened to be unwarranted amounts of attention;
in which case he would moan for hours about sprained fingers and
little bumps. So with that train of thought he must have been in an
awful lot of pain to show even that little bit. Hermione turned back
to her dinner. Whatever Malfoy got he certainly deserved. There was
no doubt in her mind about that. But she still couldn't fight the
feeling of unease that the bruise on his cheek was not the result of
a lover's quarrel, and that the pain in his chest was not simple
Lucius Malfoy surveyed the small room with distaste. It was cramped and messy, the various odds and ends of teenage life strewn about with no regard for order, or for that matter, cleanliness. The bed was made but the duvet was wrinkled and covered in the robes last worn by its occupant. The other two weren't even made. He had expected more, much more, but Lucius's life was riddled with disappointment. Especially when it came to the matter of his no account spoiled son.
picked up the shining prefects badge on his son's bedside table,
turning it over in his hand. Rather then bear the crest of the noble
house its owner represented it showed instead the school's coat of
arms. Disgusted, Lucius let it slip from his fingers. He felt the
hairs on his neck rise and turned to the door, which had opened, and
there in the dim light stood his son.
Sweaty and disheveled from practice he held his Nimbus in his hand and a look of surprise on his face.
"Close the door."
Draco stepped inside, doing as he was bid, if not a bit harder then necessary.
"An issue has arisen," Lucius motioned towards the bed. "Sit."
Draco propped his broom against the wall and again obeyed without question.
"An issue?" The boy questioned.
nodded. Draco couldn't say he cared for the look in those cold gray
eyes but then again there wasn't much about his father he did care
"I have a bit of a task for you," Lucius looked pointedly around the room. "Let's hope you can handle it a bit better then this."
opened his mouth to respond but thought better and closed it with a
snap. There were some people you didn't argue with, and Lucius Malfoy
was at the top of that list.
Draco felt his stomach clench with distaste. He walked into the library, his bag on his shoulder, his head filled with his plan of action. He didn't want to do this. He didn't want any part of it. But as Lucius had reminded him his duty was to his father, no one else, not even to himself.
She was there of course. She always was. While Potter and Weasley tried to gain even an iota of skill on the field, she came, instead, here. She was sitting in her usual chair, hunched over her usual table, the quill in her hand scribbling furiously. So absorbed was she in her work she didn't notice his presence, didn't even look up when he took the seat across from her. She did look up, however, when he turned those gray eyes on her, filled with intent. She looked startled, drawing the scroll closer to her person, as if he was going to snatch it away. It was almost comical the expression on her face. After a moment she resumed writing, if not a little less concentrated then before. He continued to sit there, not moving simply waiting for her to acknowledge him with more then a startled look, and a defensive posture. This went on for almost ten minutes, with him feeling increasingly frustrated and stupid and her squirming in her chair with confusion.
Then she slammed the quill down, making him jump and causing Madame Pince to look at her with startled, dissatisfaction before stalking away to put away dusty books or some such nonsense.
"Manner's Granger, manners."
"What. DO. You. Want." She was glaring at him now, making no move to resume what she had been doing. He sighed."I need to enlist your services," Draco started, Hermione raised an eyebrow in confusion.
Draco nodded."Of course I'll be offering you payment-" Hermione's rage rose in seconds. For the second time in their entire school lifetime she slapped him, a hard stinging blast against his cheek that snapped his head to the side
"WHAT THE HELL." He roared, and Hermione reared back, flinching as he rose from the chair as if to strike her. Again, Madame Pince was nowhere to be found. She forced herself to look up at him. He was still leaning over the table, palms on its surface, face contorted in a rage, his cheek red from her palm. His words were slow and calculated, his anger evident in every syllable.
"Why did you hit me?"
It was her turn to be angry.
"You sit there, for ten minutes, keeping me from work and then you imply that I'm some whore. It's not amusing and it never has been and frankly I'm quite sick of it." The anger faded from his eyes replaced by mirth. He chuckled and settled back into his chair.
"I hardly think this is funny." Hermione reached for her stuff, fully prepared to take her leave of the disgusting Draco Malfoy, but his firm hand on her wrist stopped her from doing anything.
"You thought that was what I was implying?" His chuckle was dry, grating on her nerves. She wrenched her wrist from his grasp."Then what were you implying?"
"You tutor Neville do you not? And Potter and Weasley?" Hermione blinked in surprise.
tutor? He needed a tutor? The idea was absurd. Draco Malfoy had never
been below third in the race for marks, nipping at her heels
constantly. There was no reason for him to need her help.
"That's ridiculous," she went for her stuff once more, but again he grabbed her wrist, if not a bit gentler this time.
"Just hear me out Granger." And again she found herself letting him speak. Satisfied he released her, settling back in his chair. "My father paid me a little visit." Hermione waited.
seems Dumbledore told him my current academic standings."
"Third." His scowl was almost gratifying. It obviously bugged him. Still, third was nothing to scoff at.
"And that's a bad thing, why?" Hermione watched him raise and eyebrow.
third will guarantee me a top position," he went on. "But
I'm afraid not a position as Head Boy. A goal my father intends I
reach." He sighed. "Dumbledore also told him who was
first." He gave her the same pointed look his father was fond of
making. "Give you three guesses as to who it is." Hermione
"And you want me to do what exactly?"
"Tutor me, like I said. My father ordered me to enlist your help," she could see his distaste at the thought, the blow to his pride. "Whatever the cost." Hermione snorted.
don't want your money and I don't want to help you. Tell Lucius to
hire a professional. I'm sure he can afford it." She stood up,
fully intent on leaving this time. Draco stood up as well.
"Please Granger." She looked up sharply, never had she heard him say please to anyone. "I need you to do this" It was not beneath him to beg, not when Lucius was involved. His fear of his father and his father's capabilities was far greater then that of his pride; pride that was taking a serious beating as he carried out his plan.
Obviously acting was a skill he possessed in abundance, for Hermione paused, assessing his seriousness. He did his best to look desperate, even a bit fearful and when he saw the flash of pity, the lingering look on his cheek he knew he had her. Hermione was satisfied, she jerked out a nod and continued to gather her things.
Hermione and Draco as usual didn't speak all day. She avoided him at breakfast, refused to glance in his direction at lunch, she even quickened her pace to keep ahead of him in the halls. For a moment he wondered if she would meet him at all, and fear lanced through his stomach. It was a real fear, sitting cold and heavy there, as he paused before the library doors. This was his only chance. This was his only opportunity to get her to trust him. And somewhere guilt nagged at his brain, hidden back with the other forgotten emotions from his childhood. This was wrong, he knew that, but a sharp stab of pain in his chest reminded him that wrong or not, he had to do it. Lucius's orders had been strict and detailed, and to not follow them...
Draco idly rubbed his chest which had started burning afresh the longer he stood before the door, debating with himself. Resigned, he gave a sigh and pushed it open. He didn't want to think about not following them.
He almost sighed in relief when he saw her waiting, eyes on her book at the usual table. Hermione Granger was many detestable things, but liar did not appear to be one of them. She looked up, hearing his boots on the marble. He gave her a nod and a smirk in greeting."Let's begin shall we?" He drawled. Hermione gave him a jerky nod in return. She sighed.
"What would you like to start with?" Draco shrugged at the question."Potions perhaps? Test tomorrow you know." He suggested.
Hermione did know, she had only spent the last week preparing for it and still didn't feel the least bit of confidence. She took out her notes and he his."All right," She sighed. "How do you learn best?" She started to nervously arrange the papers around her. "Do you want me to lecture, or quiz you, or go over the lesson perhaps?" Draco shrugged again, tapping his quill against the desk.
"Discussion I suppose," he gave another shrug, a nervous habit of his she reasoned. But if Draco could be nervous, she seriously doubted it. "I do better when I'm talked to rather then taught to." He continued.
could certainly understand that, she gave him a nod. Her love for
Arithmancy had stemmed from the classes open discussion rather then
studious note taking. She could remember the number of times she had
tried to draw Harry and Ron into a conversation about their classes,
only to be teased and taunted, the subject always moving along to
something like Quidditch or girls. Nothing she was interested
"Where to start then?" She looked at her notes. "Moral implications of truth serum's all right?" Draco nodded, leaning forward slightly. He thought a moment, arranging his argument, knowing they would argue, and smiled at her, almost a leer.
And then they were off, debating and theorizing, Hermione working in the more practical ingredients and properties as they went. They spoke in hushed whispers, debating with the skill of practiced barristers, consulting notes and text books to prove the validity of their arguments. Both were certain it was the most engaging study session they'd ever participated in.
Hermione was quick-witted and forceful, cunningly working practical knowledge into the theorized. Draco was impressed, a bit respectful, but not willing to let himself be out done. He argued with a quiet intelligence, his arguments fueled by his need to be right, his tone filled with passion on the subject. It wasn't until hours later when every aspect of the lesson had been picked apart and examined that they noticed how quickly the night had slipped away. It was Madame Pince's throat clearing and glances to the door that told them the session had ended, highly enjoyable though it was. They quickly gathered their things, making for the exit.
"Tomorrow then Granger?" Draco asked, holding open the door. She nodded as she passed.
"We can try our hand at Transfiguration, the Ministry Law's Test is Friday." She reminded him. They walked together for a moment in silence, each slightly exhausted from the verbal ministrations of the evening, but both extremely impressed.
Draco smirked. "Well, thank you Professor, I'm sure I don't need to tell you you'll do well." Hermione gave him a shrug.
"Nobody can do well all the time." Draco didn't for a second believe that, he had 17 years of familial education to disprove it. "Truthfully I didn't think I was prepared for the test." Hermione said after a moment. "I think we both benefited from tonight." Draco gave her a nod, and then realized they had stopped in the entrance hall, the divide between their respective ways."And this is where I leave you Granger," He flashed her a smirk.
They stood there awkward for a moment, not sure of how to proceed.
There was no proper etiquette for post-study sessions with the enemy.
Finally Draco acted.
"Good-bye," and he turned on his heel, taking off down the hall, robes fluttering between his boots.
The test had droned on for more then 2 hours, nearly half of Double Potions had been wasted away. It was ridiculously hard, picking at the less then obvious details. But they managed to muddle through it. Draco and Hermione both found themselves remembering the tiniest things, associating them with particular arguments, and gestures from the night before. Surprisingly Draco's method worked better for her then any of her previous.
The finished within moments of each other, scanning the test of any obvious errors and then both set down their quills. Snape looked up and gave a grim nod to them, coming over to Draco's table first. He tapped his wand against it, waiting a moment as the answers were checked, as the score was given, and then he moved to Hermione's. Again he tapped his wand on the paper, silent so he wouldn't disturb the other students, still bent over their work. He waited a moment and then the score appeared.
Despite her better judgment Hermione found herself looking up to Draco, who gave her a lazy smile and held up the corner of his test paper, where the grade was circled in bright shining red. 97. Hermione grinned at him, holding up her own, 98. He scowled then, but it was good-natured, and he gave her a look that seemed to say. "I'll beat you one day Granger." She just smiled, settling back into her seat, looking at her test, waiting for the lesson to end.
Harry and Ron grumbled beside her, looking down at the parchment in their hands. They were close to failing, barely topping out at 67. But she knew they hadn't so much as looked at the material since Snape had gone over it. She didn't feel the least bit sorry for them, she'd offered to help and they had declined, in favor of more interesting activities. Draco gave her a look as he passed, and she gave him a small smile. It felt good to help and to be helped in return, it felt good to make above a B in Potions for once. It had always been her downfall, not as bad as Divination's had been, but bad nonetheless. If Harry and Ron noticed the exchange they didn't let on, but she couldn't help ignoring them as she watched the blonde head make its way through the crowd. She was almost looking forward to their session that night. Almost.