Disclaimer: I obv do not own anything. Still waiting for my Hogwarts letter, in fact.
The quote that frames the story is from a song called Help by Hurts. I listened to it on repeat while writing this, and I really do think it has all the feels I was trying to get through here, so my tip is to listen to it while reading this.
"I can feel the darkness coming
And I'm afraid of myself…"
Those proud knees buckled under the torrent of emotions, and the young man – not a kid anymore, but still way too young to be this broken – slid onto the floor. There was a haunting solitude in the way his wretched, desperate sobs echoed down the ancient walls, only to slowly die down and dissolve into the darkness. The moonlight that poured in from the huge window danced a silvery waltz on his platinum blonde hair, which seemed impossibly silky compared to his anguished features thrown into stark contrast by the same light. His breaths were ragged, as if he ran a thousand miles, his shoulders locked but still shaking ever so slightly. Draco Malfoy, the Slytherin prince knew for sure that no one heard his cries of help. He could fall apart here, in the timeless silence of the hidden pathways of Hogwarts, so when the time came, he could pull himself together and do what needed to be done.
Except, someone did hear him…
She was wandering around the castle in the middle of the night, even though it was against the rules. A few years ago she never would have dreamed of committing such blasphemy, but people change. And Hermione Granger changed a lot. Sure, her hair was less of an untamed mess these days, her body grew into itself, but these superficial changes were only a consequence of time passing. The change that sometimes could be missed or forgotten even by her closest friends happened on the inside. Being the Gryffindor princess and the brightest witch of her age was fun, and it was who she should be, but it was definitely not all she was. Maybe she would have been, in an alternate universe untainted by Voldemort's malice, but then again, maybe not. No one has only one facet to their personality, right?
Except, everyone seemed inclined to think so…
Hermione just rounded the corner, when she heard those sounds. Such torture, such anger contained and then set free in those cries; it had to hurt. She didn't know whom it belonged to, but her heart was breaking at the thought of someone being in that much pain. She didn't realize she started running, until she almost stumbled by coming to an abrupt halt. All the air left her, as her eyes took in her longtime nemesis kneeling on the floor, panting and sneering like a wounded animal. A flash of stormy grey eyes greeted her and a bitter curving of his lips that couldn't be called a smile.
'Bugger me, if it's not Granger in the flesh after curfew' Malfoy went for a mocking tone, but clearly he didn't have the willpower to pull it off. He didn't even insult her properly. Hermione ignored his offhand comment and creeped a little closer, like she was scared he would take his rage out on her. He noticed her cautiousness, and he couldn't decide if he was pleased or insulted.
Don't you know I'd never hurt you? Did I really managed to deceive the smartest witch?
'Malfoy. Are you all right?' she asked, though the question was ridiculous, given the circumstances. He was clearly not all right. Still, it seemed the trivial words gave her the determination she lacked in her first few steps. Draco only reacted with a sarcastic chuckle as he averted his eyes from her searching gaze and inspected every pore of the wall directly in front of him. He looked like a shadow of himself. Even his chuckle sounded hollow to Hermione's ears.
Still, he continued 'Sure I am. Bloody fantastic.' his sneer returned, and he sounded a bit more like his normal self, but Hermione wasn't fooled. She knew he was gathering his strength to strike at her, to scare her away. To show no vulnerability. Even though Malfoy loved to put up a show, he was also smart and cunning. He would only play the drama queen if he wasn't really hurt. He hid his real scars, so no one knew his weaknesses. What Hermione didn't know was that she didn't need to know them, should she really wish to hurt him. She was his biggest weakness.
She only knew that she couldn't bear to leave him like this, so she did the only thing she could think of: kneeled by his side and put her hand on his shoulder. Malfoy's muscles turned rigid at her touch, and he whipped his head to the side to look at her; utter shock and surprise in his red rimmed, weary, gorgeous eyes.
'Why?' the word the softest whisper in the night. Hermione squeezed her fingers, trying to give him the strength he needed, while fully aware that one day he might very well use that strength against her. They were all teetering at the edge of a war, the whole wizarding world in turmoil.
'Because I see you.' she found herself answering.
No, you don't. I wish you did.
'Maybe not all of you.' she admitted, as if reading his mind, and still offering him a tentative, sad smile. 'You hide all too well. But I notice the momentary slip ups. The tiny fractures.' she leaned in closer, so they were at eye level, and Draco couldn't have teared his gaze away from hers, even if he tried. He didn't try though. He was drowning in the way she was looking at him, and it was a beautiful suffocation in the chaotic swirl of emotions that were normally locked away in the deep recesses of his mind.
'There is light in you, Draco.'
'You are delusional, Granger.' he said weakly, but a slight sliver of hope found its way into the glimmer of his eyes, into the corner of his mouth that started to form into an elusive shadow of a smile.
'And you are way too arrogant for your own good' she answered with a relieved grin, trying to tease him so she could see him smile in earnest. She couldn't fully face the reason why that was so important to her. It just was.
Hermione moved her hand from his shoulder to his face without thinking any of it. It felt so natural, and yet, wonderfully thrilling to anchor him this way. To have the power to do so. His lips curved a bit further, but it still didn't quite reach his eyes.
'It's your doing, you know' Draco said in a low voice. He knew he shouldn't, but he just couldn't help himself. He needed her to know that so bad. That it was all for her. She was the reason of every chunk of sanity he managed to hold on to.
'Every time the darkness tries to swallow me up completely… it's you who reminds me of the good in the world. You with your bushy hair and smartass remarks, and bloody amazing right hook' he instantly regretted saying that much, but once he started, the words just poured out of him. He dropped his eyes to the floor because he didn't want to see disgust, or worse, pity in her beautiful doe eyes.
Because of that, he almost gotten knocked to the ground completely, as Hermione threw herself into his arms. Draco's hands instantly found their way to her body, as if a gravitational pull was tugging them, and he instinctively tightened his hold, while managing to turn into a sitting position by the wall, with her tucked in his arms. She was squeezing the life out of him, but he couldn't recall ever feeling this much at peace. And he was holding her slight frame just as desperately, not wanting to let go. And when Draco felt the tremors shaking her, he started to stroke her hair in an effort to give back some of the comfort he received just by being in her presence.
They were sitting there in the abandoned corridor, holding onto each other with eyes squeezed shut, until the night turned into grey and the stars faded into the gloom. The night has passed, and took its secrets with it once again.
"… Call my name and I'll come running
'Cause I just need some help."
This was my very first HP fanfiction, and I'm also not a native English speaker, but I do hope you enjoyed it. I got obsessed with Dramione, and I felt I just needed to write something featuring them, even if it's not romance, strictly speaking. Anyways, I hope you liked it! Please R&R, and let me know your thoughts on this!