As the weeks after that night dragged on Hermione was starting to wish she had indeed been stronger and ended things with Malfoy there and then. She'd had little to no contact since and spent little time thinking of anything else.
The fact that she and Ron were back on good terms made it a lot easier and studying for exams took up huge swaths of her time but she couldn't resist dipping into bouts of reminiscence when she least expected it. She thought it absurd that even now months later she would still lapse into daydreams where she was back in the old abandoned train carriage only this time she was never so quick to run away.
Her mind was currently dwelling deep in the forest one Friday afternoon in July as Ron and Ginny busily argued in the Gryffindor common room about Quidditch tactics. Sure she could pretend to understand, pretend to be interested but when Draco Malfoy was waiting for her in some far recess of her mind who was she to ignore the call?
"I told you already if you just concentrated on your handling a bit more you wouldn't need to fly so fast when attacking."
"Don't tell me how to play Ronald." Ginny replied lazily as she lounged in one of the armchairs by the unlit fire, her feet dangling over the arm.
"The keeper sees everything."
"Get this. He has one good game and suddenly he's the expert." Ginny retorted giving Hermione a dismayed look.
Hermione hadn't a clue why Ginny was looking at her, she wasn't listening. She nodded and murmured an agreement which seemed to be the correct stance to take. Ginny waved her hand towards Hermione whilst looking at Ron.
"See, Hermione agrees."
"Well of course she would she doesn't know the first thing about complex Quidditch tactics." Ron rolled his eyes. "Do you?"
Now Ron was looking at her, she wished they would stop interrupting her when Draco's lips we're so close to hers. She nodded and murmured another agreement which she hoped was again the correct answer but it didn't matter, after all she didn't know much about Quidditch, why hadn't they realised this yet?
Suddenly the portrait door swung open and Harry barrelled through it. He ignored everyone and ran up the stairs to the boys common room reappearing after a while with the Prince's book clutched in his hand. He was covered in blood. He disappeared out the portrait again leaving them all sat desperately trying to figure out what had happened.
After a short while Dean Thomas came through the portrait out of breath. "You wouldn't believe the commotion going on outside. I didn't get all of it but it looks like Malfoy's been in a fight. In the girls bathroom of all places."
Hermione's stomach lurched as she sat up straight.
"A fight? With who?" Ginny asked.
"Don't know yet but it sounds pretty bad. Heard some Slivs saying something about him being all cut up and covered in blood."
Ron and Ginny stared at each other. They had a fairly decent idea of who Malfoy had been fighting with. They both turned their attention to Hermione who didn't know how to react. She got up and turned away from them placing a hand across her mouth trying to ignore the fact it was shaking.
Being Hogwarts it didn't take too long for the full story to get around. They heard it first hand from Harry of course who had been there when he had used the Sectumsempra curse written in the Prince's book on Malfoy. He told them how it had left him lying in a pool of blood and how luckily Snape had been there to prevent the worst from happening.
It all moved by in a blur for Hermione who tried to remain focused as he explained his side of the story but all the while her mind was currently on Draco who was being treated in the hospital wing. Why he had been in the girls bathroom in the first place remained a mystery, she had her own theories but right now it really didn't matter to her.
She wanted to go see him as soon as possible but knew there would be many questions asked if she stormed in the ward asking to see Draco Malfoy. She waited a few nervous days before liberating Harry's invisibility cloak from his trunk and taking off in the direction of the hospital wing once everyone had gone to bed.
She silently crept into the ward looking around any sign of life. She saw no one, her eyes falling onto the bed in the far corner of the room blocked from view by a curtain. She walked over to the bed pushing aside the curtain to find Draco asleep in hospital pyjamas. Large bandages covered his arms and chest leaving only his bare shoulders unmarked. His face had been cut in numerous places but had already begun to heal no doubt thanks to Madame Pomfrey's hard work.
She quietly sat herself in the chair next to his bed. Looking at him now she felt the urge to cry but choked it down. It was silent in the ward apart from the sound of flickering candles and the ticking of the large gold clock on the wall.
Draco stirred slightly moving his hands to his chest. Hermione noticed a crumpled letter clutched in his hand, the empty envelope lay on the bedside table. As he moved it slid from his grasp onto the floor disappearing under the bed. Hermione leaned over and picked it up holding it out under the candle light, it was written in hurried shaky writing.
Please you must change your mind. Bella told me this morning that you were still stalling. You must finish the task. Everything is ready.
It's only because she's my sister that she hasn't gone to him yet, but she will. Sister or not it's only a matter of time before she does. You must persevere Malfoy before it's too late. We need this son if we hold any hope of seeing your father free again.
Also please reconsider what Bella and Fenrir suggested about the girl. I know you refused but I don't want you getting hurt like last time. All it would take is for you to lead her into the correct hands and then your part would be over. I'm sure it would be more than enough to gain us our safety. No more worrying, no more looking over our shoulder.
Wouldn't it be nice for this all to be over? Take care Draco.
Hermione read the letter again taking it in slowly.
"That doesn't look like homework." Draco's croaky voice piped up from the bed causing Hermione to drop the letter. He smiled painfully and grimaced as he struggled to sit up in bed.
"No please stay still. You need to rest." Hermione smiled back at him, picking up the letter and placing on the table.
"I've rested plenty." He let his eyes focus and gazed at her as if he hadn't seen her for months. "It would be bad manners to ignore a visiter, especially one that's gone to so much trouble not to be seen." He said with a grin.
"How are you feeling?" She asked looking at his injuries with concern.
"It's quite painful but I still think you punching me on the nose hurt more." He replied referring back to their third year.
She stifled a laugh. "Really? I'd never hit anyone until then."
"Well you're a natural."
Hermione picked up the letter again suddenly becoming serious as she held it in front of him. "Draco about this letter. I - "
"Don't worry about it." He cut her sort turning his head to gaze at the window through the gap in his curtain.
"But this part about a girl."
He sighed heavily turning back to look at her again. "Would knowing really make you feel any better? It doesn't matter now." He stared at her waiting for a reply. When it didn't come he sighed again before continuing. "Yes she means you. My mother knows who you are. She'd seen you before it just took her a while to put a name to the face."
Hermione groaned and held her hand to her forehead. "I knew I shouldn't have come to your house."
"As soon as she found out she went straight to her sister. They've known for ages that we've... Well that we're friends. They've been trying to get me to hand you over for months. Lure you out of the castle again, get you on your own. Use you as... I don't know, bait maybe. Who knows." He explained simply. "That's what that cut on my face was about. I refused to do it so they showed me their displeasure."
Hermione once again looked shocked not able to take her eyes away from him. "Even though it would have helped -"
"Yes it would have helped me but after all of this do you really think I would do that? Do you still have such a low estimation of me that you'd think I was willing to betray the one person I've ever... anyway it's not happening so don't worry."
Hermione remained silent for a while just taking it in. She placed a hand on his arm, rubbing it gently. "What about the first part."
Draco looked less comfortable with this. "Yes I've been stalling. Truth is I've been done for a while... a long time in fact but it's complicated." He didn't say anymore.
He shifted uncomfortably pulling lightly at bandage wrapped round his chest. He noted Hermione's look of concern.
"It's fine. That wretched nurse is meant to have been in by now to redress this. She's been making me drink this awful stuff every four hours." He pointed towards the large bottle of sickly purple liquid by his bed. "It's suppose to regrow the skin but she seems far too amused at my face every time I take the foul stuff... The old hag."
Hermione tutted and picked up the bottle. "Well if you go round calling her an old hag I'm not surprised."
"Yes I know I should be grateful blah blah blah."
"Come on then." Hermione picked up the fresh gauze from the tray at the foot of his bed and waved it expectantly.
"Are you joking? She'll know you've been in here."
"Well don't rat me out then. I know it's a hobby of yours but resist the urge just this once." She smirked.
He stared at her sceptically but the discomfort he was feeling was enough to persuade him as he nodded and sat up higher. She helped him and then began to carefully cut at the bandages using her wand.
"So what actually happened?" She asked taking her time as she unraveled the bandage that ran up his arm.
"Surely you already know? I'm sure Potter's revealed all in great detail. Gloating no doubt."
"Actually he was pretty shaken up." She took the balm he pointed out to her and she carefully covered his arm with it. The deep cuts that scattered his skin still looked sore but had started to turn a lighter pink colour. "But I want to hear your side of it."
"Shaken up? Don't make me laugh. The stupid little twerp."
"He says you struck first."
"No I did not." He looked outraged but shrank back as he looked at her accusing stare. "Well I'm fairly certain I didn't. Even if I did he shouldn't be snooping round like that."
"So you thought you'd start firing spells at him did you?" She had moved onto his chest, as the dressing fell off she noted the long deep slashes across his stomach. She winced at the sight and placed a hand softly on them.
"Hermione look what he did to me. How can you defend him like that? He tried to kill me."
"I'm not defending him. He shouldn't have done it but he didn't mean for it to turn out like this."
"Of course he did. He used a spell that would have left me for dead if Snape hadn't come along."
"He didn't know what the spell would do." She argued beginning to add the balm to the cuts on his chest.
"How did he know about it then?"
"That's - look it doesn't matter. Harry would never do something like that."
"It must be great to be the golden child having everyone believe anything you say. If it had been me you wouldn't have doubted for one second I was a murderer." He frowned then winced as she pushed harder with her fingers on his wound than she needed to. "Ouch! Watch it will you!"
"Sorry, sorry." She apologised.
"Murder's not beneath me but it is beneath the likes of blessed Potter?"
"Look give it a rest. I'm furious with Harry and I've been worried about you for days." She stopped applying the balm and threw the old bandage at his face.
"You have?" He mumbled his voice softening slightly.
"Look at me. If I hadn't do you really think I'd be here right now in the middle of the night doing this?" She took the fresh dressings and started to wrap it round each arm. "Yes maybe before I would have thought you capable of it but now I think there's more to you than that."
"You don't know what I'm capable of." He muttered quietly under his breath. Then he glanced back at her. "Thanks."
"You just have to chip away at that bloody awful exterior you've got. Heaven help the woman who ends up married to you."
Draco leaned back onto his pillow taking comfort in the fresh dressing. He looked deep in thought pondering on her words. "That's if I make it till then." They sat in silence for a bit. Hermione placed her hand onto of his and let their fingers intertwine. "Your husband will probably go insane trying to keep up with you." He noted grinning mischievously.
She turned her face away smiling. "My husband will be lucky to have such an amazing partner." She chuckled. "Hopefully one that can truly appreciate hard work."
"Rules me out then." He sniggered.
She punched him lightly on the shoulder but even that was enough for him to rub his dressed arm gingerly. "Sorry." She offered trying not to laugh too hard. "Now drink up." She began pouring the purple tonic into the glass next to it.
Draco cast it a dirty look and shook his head. "Ughh I'd rather drink troll vomit."
"Well this will have to do until I can round one up." She gave him the glass and he reluctantly downed it in one, he coughed hard sticking his tongue out.
She took one last look at him making sure she'd prepared the dressings correctly. "I'd better be going." Although she said this she didn't make to move and remained seated.
Draco slowly moved to sit up on the bed letting his feet touch the cold stone floor. He stared down at them letting his hair cover his face. "I know you want to, so say it."
Hermione frowned at him and reclined in her chair trying to see his face through the sea of blonde. "I thought maybe now wasn't the best time."
"Better time than any."
She watched as he balled his sheets into his fists.
"This has to stop... You and me." Her words held determination but she wasn't convinced by them. Right now she didn't feel like being the good and sensible side of herself.
"Does it." Draco leaned back giving her an accusing look.
"You know it does. How long did you really think this would last? All this sneaking about, lying to my friends."
"No one asked you to lie."
"Oh so we're just meant to carry on are we? Being friends with everyone whilst being together on the side?"
"Stuff em. Who cares what they think?"
"Ok. Are you going to tell Crabbe and Goyle then or shall I? How about Blaise I'm sure he'd love being friends with a blood traitor."
Draco didn't reply, he sat there with an agitated look of frustration on his face.
"Come on Draco don't pretend this is anything other than a disaster waiting to happen." She hated admitting it but it didn't stop it be true all the same.
Draco took a moment just staring back at her hopelessly searching his mind for an answer. "I don't want this to be it."
"Neither do I." To hear herself say it out loud confirmed this fact more so than before. "If you'd just go to Dumbledore. Join us, fight for Harry just -"
"Forget Harry! He's got nothing to do with this!" Draco raged smashing his hand against the bedpost.
"Wake up Draco he has everything to do with this. If you can't swallow your pride and just try to find some common ground just to-"
"I am never joining forces with Harry Potter." His voice was absolute as he stared at her. "Never."
"Then that's it then." She got to her feet desperately trying to keep her temper. "I'm sure your mother would love to know her son is taking up with some filthy Muggle born. Let's not pretend it's just the world I live in that has a problem with yours."
Malfoy turned his face away ashamed. He stared at the wall watching the rain lash at the window. Silence past between them, the ticking of the clock counting away the minutes.
"Let's just run."
"What?" Hermione faced him taken by surprise.
"You and me. We've done it before. Let's just leave. Never come back." For the first time Draco was pleading with her his eyes wild with desperation as he watch his one last hope preparing to abandon him. "We could get away from all this. I'll follow you anywhere."
Hermione tried not to smile at his absurd suggestion but his unflinching determination was chipping away at her solid defence.
"To hell with all of it. Finally free of all this pain, all this fear. Just sitting round waiting to die."
It was clear to Hermione that he was now talking about his own situation, his voice trembled, his whole body was shaking as he struggled to keep a hold of himself.
"Draco please just get help. It doesn't have to be from Dumbledore it just has to-"
"I DON'T NEED ANYONES HELP!" He raged picking up the bottle by his bed and launching it across the room. It shattered onto the desk in the middle of the ward. "I'M NOT BOWING DOWN TO ANYBODY! NOT DUMBLEDORE, NOT HARRY OR ANY OTHER FOOL!"
Hermione narrowed her eyes and pushed the chair away from her. "No just bow down to Voldemort instead. Don't bother being anything more than what everyone expects. Be weak. Be selfish."
"Selfish?" Draco snapped.
"Yes. You don't care about anything other than saving yourself. Why would I want to be with someone who just wants to run away like a little boy when things get too hard? Too proud to accept he made the wrong decision." Hermione turned but Draco desperately grabbed onto her arm.
"I need you. Please Hermione." He was lost jumping from one emotion to the other, his grey eyes searched her face, out of control. She pulled her arm away softly. The effort not to break was too much and a few tears rolled down her cheeks as she looked down at the damaged boy she'd placed her hope in only to have it return unfounded.
He pulled her arm towards him bringing her closer. He leant up and kissed her. A strong kiss. Despite his haywire emotions his touch on her lips was resolute. For one split second Hermione gave in and let the familiar buzz of desire consume her entire body and then it was gone, her mind had been made up and she pushed him back, wrenching her lips away from his.
She stared at his face greedily, a longing she no longer would feed was screaming inside her head in displeasure. She habitually went to brush the strands of silvery hair from his face but stopped herself and took a step back. "I can't watch you do this to yourself anymore. If you won't get help for yourself Draco then I will."
She turned and walked away not looking back.
"Hermione stop!" Malfoy tried to get up to stop her but his legs were still too weak. He stumbled and fell to the floor knocking over the remaining contents of table next to him. "You can't go to Dumbledore. Voldemort will kill me. YOU CAN'T!"
She ignored him. She couldn't just sit back anymore. Watch as his world continued to spiral out of control. Dumbledore would know what to do. He would help she was certain of it.
Malfoy froze, his heart in his mouth and the wand in his hand shaking. It was pointed directly at Hermione's retreating figure. She had come to a stand still swaying only slightly as if dazed.
For a brief moment his mind went blank, the panic had wrenched the spell from his mouth but now that he had committed the act he was suddenly struck dumb. He fumbled his wand and it clattered to the floor, his palms sweaty. His arms shook as he forced his legs to work and managed to stand, picking up his wand as he did.
He held onto the end of his hospital bed as his knees made a second attempt to give way. As the seconds of inaction passed he felt the sudden surge of shame wash over him. His swallowed hard and pushed the feeling deep down, letting his own fear take over. He had to do this, he could see no other option.
He wanted to face her, if he was going to do this he wanted to look her in the eyes yet he remained motionless staring at her slim shoulders. He just couldn't do it, the coward had taken over and his mind raced. He just needed to erase her memory of her visit. It was only a small moment, nothing more than that. He desperately tried to convince himself.
The rain outside had picked up and was hammering on the window next to his bed. A flash of lightning pulsed accompanied by an applause of thunder. It lit up his face in the window's reflection, he looked at himself and instantly turned away from it. His weak expression a snapshot of his betrayal and his uncertainty.
He could fix this. He kept repeating these words over and over as he raised his wand again. He struggled to remember the correct incantation and felt another surge of panic overwhelm him. He had to get this right, if not...
He repeated the spell again and again under his breath, he had to concentrate, focus.
He retreated into his own mind remembering seeing her face as he awoke from his hospital bed. She had never been at his bedside.
He felt her touch as she tended to his wounds, wounds that she never eased.
They had never spoke tonight.
He focused on her lips, the soft caress, the heat of her breath. He was dragged back to all those kisses, the small mercies that helped him face each day with death constantly looking over him. All the times she had been there for him, times he was throwing back in her face with what he was doing to her now.
He couldn't lose her, he had to stay focused. He finished chanting the words and sat back onto the bed, his hands were trembling. He kept his eyes fixed intently on her back. He didn't know what to expect having never changed someones memory before, he held his breath as Hermione gave a soft jolt of movement as if waking from a daydream.
She looked around the wing of the hospital before finding Malfoy sat on the bed. She frowned at his appearance and remained silent for a few seconds.
"Why am I here?" She asked taking a step back towards the door.
Malfoy swallowed hard trying to read her expression. "I assume you came to see me." He suggested with a weak smile.
"Why would I ever want to visit you?" She replied. She was still half distracted by the fact she found herself suddenly standing in the hospital wing of the castle.
A cold bead of sweat rolled down Malfoy's brow as he straightened up in his bed. "Well... I suppose you might have been worried about me after what happened." Malfoy's voice sounded weak and uncertain. He licked his dry lips and tried to keep his casual composure.
"What Harry did was wrong but I would never worry about you."
A feeling of dread shuddered down Malfoy's spine. He tried to force a casual laugh as he once again made to rise from his bed. "What do you mean? You haven't gone off me already have you?" He chuckled again but it broke as his throat dried up.
Hermione stared at him with her look of confusion still dominant on her face. "What have you done?" She asked finally. She took another step back placing her hand on the bedpost next to her.
"What do you mean? I haven't done anything. You came to see if I was alright that's all." Malfoy pushed himself to his feet taking a step forward as she took another away from him.
She glared at him. "Stop saying that. I don't know you Malfoy. WHY AM I HERE?" She demanded her voice rising.
"Hermione calm down." He slowly walked towards her trying his best to keep his voice level.
"Don't tell me to calm down Malfoy." She took another step backwards and placed her hands on her head, raking her fingers through her hair. "What's wrong with me? Everything's fuzzy." She frowned, her face now ripe with concentration, trying her best to focus her altered mind.
Malfoy knew why and his stomach twisted further. "You really don't remember anything?" Malfoy asked. He didn't want her answer, he already knew the answer but he clung desperately to the hope he was mistaken.
"Remember what?" She replied half pleading, desperate for answers.
"You and me."
"What do you mean you and me. There is no you and me." Her voice picked up again, she took a step towards him, defiance in her eyes despite her uncertain state of mind.
"There is. Don't you remember? The train carriage, the boat house, that night by the lake?"
"I..." she leant against the bed. Her face looked pained as if it was causing her discomfort to recall her memories. "None of that happened. What are you trying to do?" She accused him.
Malfoy felt his knees give. All the time they had spent together, everything was gone. The truth came crashing down on him, he felt sick and distraught. It was too much to handle. One moment of rash thinking to save his own skin had cost him the only thing he had ever considered worth fighting for. His one reason to say no, to stand up against the fate he feared most and he had no idea how to take it back, how to reverse the damage he'd done.
Was this it? He thought to himself desperately as he stared back at Hermione no hint of recognition in her eyes, nothing of the girl he had shared more of himself with than anyone.
It couldn't end like this he told himself. His most meaningful relationship ended by an act of selfishness, the very trait he was destined to repeat over and over.
"Hermione please." He summoned his dwindling strength and made his way across the space between them. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He was starting to lose his composure but he didn't care. A surge of desperation overtook him. "I've messed up. You've got to remember." He grabbed her by the hand and held on as she tried to snatch it away. He pulled her close and kissed her. A sudden rush of blood to the head making him foolish and careless. The touch of her lips was the same and filled him with hope. She would remember. This feeling was surely enough to bring her back to him. He wouldn't fail her again. She was enough for him, he would make it work. If she was by his side he was fearless.
The pain in his temple seared as Hermione brought her hand crashing across his head. She pushed him back roughly hitting him again in the chest. Malfoy already weak stumbled back and dropped to his knees.
"Don't ever touch me again!" Hermione's face was red with a mix of shock and anger. She touched her lips with her shaking hand and wiped them.
The pain above his eye was no match for what he felt witnessing the look of disgust on her face.
"I don't know what you're trying to pull but if you ever come near me again I'll... i'll..." she stumbled over her words her fit of rage bringing her to the verge of tears.
"Ok." Malfoy couldn't take it. He'd lost her and he knew it. The fact that this was going to be her only memory of them together destroyed his will to fight any longer. He was only hurting her more and he didn't want to. "I'm sorry." He pushed himself up clutching his side gingerly. "I was just trying to mess with you." He lied retreating back to his bed.
He turned his back to her. He couldn't face her anymore not this Hermione. "Thought I'd just get one over on Ron that's all." He tried to feign disdain in his tone but even the thought of Ron Weasley failed to evoke any true malice inside him at this moment.
"You pig! Why do you think everybody hates you!" Hermione spat back at him.
Malfoy walked to his bedside window. He caught a glimpse of her in its reflection. A red flush had crossed her face. She was embarrassed as well as furious.
"You get used to it after a while." He replied casually shoving his hands into his pyjama pockets.
Maybe it was better this way? He thought to himself studying the tops of the forest trees as they waved violently in the storm outside. He would have only let her down again. It was in his blood. Born to be a coward, destined to be a snake. Maybe they were right, maybe they were all right. Why fight the inevitable.
He turned around. He hadn't heard Hermione leave but she wasn't there anymore. No goodbyes, no final words. Should he have told her? Even if she would have ignored him, raged at him again. Just to let her know would have been a small consultation. Anything would have been a better parting than this.
The sun had begun it's decent over the mountains that surrounded Hogwarts castle. The last few stragglers from an afternoon Quidditch practice made their way across the shifting grass as it swayed playfully in the summer breeze. A light here and there began to appear in the castle windows as students settled in for last minute study sessions. A playful breeze hopped in and out of the castle's turrets and courtyards bringing with it the scent of fresh earth and the smell from Hagrid's supper as plumes of smoke chugged from his huts chimney.
Malfoy sat alone. Away from the sun's last light of the day, away from the chatter and the laughing. He sat alone on his bed in his common room, his eyes were closed as he listened to the sound of his own thoughts bouncing around the room wrestling each other for dominance in his mind. He slunk down burying his head in his hands blocking out the light from the bedside lamp next to him.
He needed to decide. He couldn't just sit and wait for death to find him, let someone else decide his own fate. He felt the tears on his hands as they involuntarily poured from his unrested eyes. Now more than ever he felt truly alone. As if the world outside his common had been swallowed up and would not return until he had finally decided.
She didn't want him. She had made that clear. The hope he had kept for so long had wilted to nothing. He was back where he had began all those months ago, scared and lost. He would continue to push people away because that was who he was, Draco Malfoy the Slytherin snake who hated Muggles, Mudbloods and most of all Harry Potter.
He had been kidding himself for too long that the possibility he may amount to more than that was something he could achieve. He was not brave like Harry and nor wise like Dumbledore. Whilst they were willing to do anything to fight back against Voldemort he was not for he knew he would lose and so would they in the end.
All the effort in the world couldn't erase six years of constant hate and venom. Why waste any effort on people who despised him, despised his family. To lay himself at their mercy only to be turned away and made to look a fool was more than his pride could handle.
He rose from his bed and slowly walked through his common room ignoring all those he passed. Fools too busy living life and having fun, not knowing how close the end would be. Their cosy little home reduced to nothing more than a sham. His demise or theirs, someones life was about to change tonight and nothing he could do could avoid that fact so it might as well be theirs.
He wandered the corridors moving as slowly as he could savouring the last few moments of peace. His last walk of freedom. He stopped outside the library and stood in the doorway. His heart sank when he spotted Hermione at the table closest to the window with Ron sat across from her. He leaned against the doorframe and watched her for what seemed like hours. Taking in every last detail, searing it onto his memory. She glanced up but he had already started to depart leaving only a shimmer of him to catch her eye as he past the light of the door.
He would have stayed there forever if he could, feasting on his own desire to share her world and leave his but time was getting late and the chance to dwell on such guilty pleasures had long passed. He made his way to the seventh floor corridor and stopped in front of the hidden entrance to the Room of Requirement. He closed his eyes and paced, every step thundering into his chest, counting down his last moments of normality. He opened his eyes and pushed the large door to reveal his fate. He walked in and stood in front of the vanishing cabinet, his own twisted masterpiece.
His hand shook as he extracted a piece of paper from his pocket. It was the piece that Hermione had mistaken for Charms homework all those months ago. Instead it was the final piece of the puzzle that had helped him fix the cabinet. The very reason he had been so reluctant to comply with his assigned task. To know that Hermione had unwilling helped him in letting Death Eaters into the school. That she had unknowingly played a part in the ending of one chapter and the start of a terrifying new one filled him with immense guilt and sadness. The one secret he knew he would keep forever. She would never truly know the best of him but she would also not bare witness to his worst.
He sighed and let the moment pass over him like a thunder cloud then held the paper up and once again read aloud the words she had written.
Hermione the brightest witch of her age. A witch that to Draco Malfoy was unlike no other.