Disclaimer:  Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR.  The title belongs to Evanescence.  See those little bits left over?  Those belong to me.  Dedicated to Wolfie.  Takes place the morning after Draco's 21st birthday.  References to violence.  Random, convoluted musings, typical Malfoy-ness and the hint of potential future romance but this is a stand-alone piece only. 

Wake Me Up Inside

What have I done?

What on earth have I gotten myself into?

Last night…the Dark Revel…her eyes when I took her by force…her sigh, almost of relief, when I killed her.

The stench of blood and urine everywhere.

And laughter…cold, hissing laughter from the group that watched me complete my initiation.  Mocking voices rebuking me for killing her too quickly and spoiling their fun…not that some of them didn't already have a turn with her.  Only one of them said nothing and stood apart from the others.

Father says he never partakes in their sport.  Father thinks he is a traitor…believes he is carrying on a secret relationship with his apprentice.

Father can go to hell. 

At first, I was happy.  Happy to take my place beside my father.  Proud to kneel before the Dark Lord and swear allegiance.  Pleased to think I could get out there and further the cause of pureblood nobility.  Remove the stains from the earth, restore the prestige of the pureblood families and return the Mudbloods and Muggles to their proper place of servitude.  Noblesse oblige…droit de seigneur and all that.

But there is no nobility in senseless slaughter and violence.  No cause justifies that.

I thought that I could kill without worry, without regret.  I thought that I could use a Muggle in 'that' way and not think anything of it.  It was my right to use them as I saw fit.  That's what Father always preached.

It would appear that my conscience has not yet died.  There is still a spark of something that will not go away and leave me in peace.

Bloody hell. 

Father will not be pleased. 

Now, my nostrils are assailed with the rank stench of vomit…from me…the physical reaction to realizing what I have done.

With a quickly muttered spell, I make the putrid mess go away but the stench does not leave.  I think it is permanently ingrained in my skin.

Just like this Mark.

What do I do now?

I should do as Father said.  Just get out there and find a nice Muggle family on which to practice those new curses he taught me.  Take one of my Mudblood ex-classmates (and I know which one he is particularly interested in) and show her her place…on her knees in front of me.  I am very good at Imperio, after all.  I could make her do anything I wanted.  And, of course, Father would want to share…

But, after last night…after seeing what truly lies in the eyes of someone when you are destroying their soul…their very life…well, I don't know if I can do that again.

Father will probably kill me when he discovers that his only son and heir is having second thoughts.

What am I going to do?

I decide to leave my room at "The Leaky Cauldron" and walk outside.  It's a beautiful day, a bit too sunny for my taste, but lovely all the same.  I slowly make my way down the many shops of Diagon Alley and pause at the laneway that leads to the darker section of this place.  Shaking my head, I continue on and decide to look into Mulpepper's Apothecary.  I could buy the ingredients to brew a simple Reductus poison.  After all, I can't be expected to kill anyone if I'm dead, can I?

I open the door and nod to the proprietor.  I tell myself that I am only imagining him glaring at me as if there is something different about me.  He can't possibly suspect anything.  What would he do if I jumped up on the counter, proclaimed myself to be an official Death Eater and proceeded to politely ask for a discount on wormwood and asphodel?

Not bloody likely.  I'll just go to the back room where the more volatile ingredients are kept.  I open the door and close it quietly behind me.

I immediately freeze as I hear someone talking quietly behind a large bag of moon beetle wings.  Quickly casting an invisibility spell (one of the few spells my mother taught me before her untimely death), I make my way towards the voices.  I recognize the baritone tones of Severus Snape but the other voice is in a hushed whisper and I cannot be certain who it is.  As I round a corner, I see my former Potions professor speaking to…

"It will be all right, Hermione," he murmurs softly.

"How can it?  He belongs to them fully now.  He's a Death Eater.  He has been initiated and carries the Dark Mark on his arm.  Is there any hope left for him?"

"He was quite shaken by what he had to do.  I could see that easily.  I believe he already suspects that becoming a Death Eater and following in his father's footsteps is the wrong course of action. I cannot lose that last thread of hope and neither should you."

I have never seen Snape speaking so openly to Granger.  And Granger…why on earth is she so concerned about me?  She hates me.  I hate her…always top of her class.  Know-it-all bookworm who has proven herself to be quite a thorn in the Dark Lord's arse.  A powerful witch…no wonder Father has that lustful look in his eye when he sees her.  He's always maintained that it is more fun to break a truly powerful person.  It takes more effort and their final capitulation and humiliation is all the sweeter.

I know this for a fact…Lavender didn't last an hour before he was through with her.

"His father stopped by my office at Hogwarts this morning," she whispers, casting a fearful glance at the door.  I guess they can expect privacy back here.  Who else comes in the back room except Potions Masters and their apprentices…and suicidal Death Eaters?

"Lucius was in Hogwarts?  Why did you not summon me?"

"There was no time…and I didn't want to expose you…"

"Foolish girl!  Why did Albus not realize he was there?  We should set up wards to prevent his entrance."

"Lucius is still a governor of the school.  It is, for lack of a better term, impossible."

"What did he want?"

"He walked right up to me in the workroom and I pulled my wand out as soon as I noticed him and held it to his throat."

"A reasonable response," Snape looks concerned.  "Hermione, did he…harm you in any way?"

"No…he just smirked as he took in my obviously dusty work robes.  I'd been up all night working on the assignment you gave me yesterday, you know.  Well, he said that he didn't want to soil his robes by getting too close to me."

"Arrogant bastard.  It's a wonder you didn't hex him on sight."

"He looked me over like a piece of meat.  He smiled and told me he thought his son would have great sport with me…and that he hoped Draco would share just like he did last night at his initiation."

"Why would Lucius tell you that?  Does he not think you would go to Albus or any member of the Order with this information?"

"He knows…Severus, somehow…he knows..."

"Hermione…"

I then see Snape do something I've never seen before.  He embraces Granger and holds her as she cries.

And I realize something truly unbelievable.

She's crying over me.

Why would she cry over me?  Why would she care when she has spared no effort in telling me how she despises me?  She's sent enough curses and hexes in my direction to practically castrate me.

I…I don't understand…why…

And Snape.  He is the traitor that Father thought he was…but he is not having a relationship with Granger.  I can see he cares for her but it's not like that.

I have to turn them in.  They are vulnerable now…they wouldn't expect an attack here in the middle of Diagon Alley.  I pull out my wand and point it towards Snape.  I should fell him first…he's a strong opponent and the element of surprise has to work in my favour.

Father will be so proud.  I'll have captured the traitor and the Mudblood that he wants so much.  I'll have strengthened the Dark Lord's position immeasurably.  I can even plant myself as a spy in Dumbledore's ranks.

I know what I have to do.

"I don't want to lose him to them," she whispers to Snape.  Snape doesn't reply but his eyes show a great deal of sorrow and regret and profound disappointment.

They are feeling these things because of me.

Why?

Why should it matter?  She's always hated me…he's always been cold and aloof.

And why exactly is my resolve crumbling?

I have to do something quickly before it is too late…this opportunity may never come again.

I have no choice.

I raise my wand and whisper the spell.

Snape looks up and his eyes widen in shock as he registers my appearance.  He holds Granger closer…protectively but says nothing.  He is holding his wand…I shall have to be careful if I don't want to end up murdered in apparent self-defence.

I look into those black eyes.  I know he was there last night…know he witnessed what I did.  He knows what I have become and he is disappointed.  He's never shown that before.

"I…I need your help," I manage to say.

Granger looks up in a flash at the sound of my voice and I can see the fear in her expression.  She also has her wand at the ready and I am suddenly reminded of Mad Eye Moody and his constant yammering about Constant Vigilance.  No wonder she is powerful…she has the reflexes of a cat. 

"What do you want with us?" she asks, gripping Snape's arm so tightly that her knuckles are going white.  "Were you planning to take us to your father?  You're outnumbered and we will not go willingly."

I realize I still have my wand in my hand so I put it in my pocket but neither of them relaxes for a moment.

"No, Granger.  I'm not."

"Mister Malfoy…Draco," Snape's expression softens for a moment.  "Have you had second thoughts?"

"Yes…I mean…I think I need to talk to someone."

Severus looks at Granger and nods.  She pulls away and stands there with her hands crossed over her chest.  Her eyes are still wary but there is something else present.

Hope.

Hope for me?

"I would suggest, Draco, that you accompany Miss Granger and myself to my office at Hogwarts.  There, we can be assured of discretion and privacy.  Afterwards, if you wish, we may go to Dumbledore's office and continue our discussion with him.  Please give me your wand."

I nod and walk up to him, taking the wand out of my pocket and placing it in his waiting hand.  I suddenly feel like I have to tell him something.

"I'm sorry."

"I know, Draco," he replies as he casts a nullifying spell on my wand and hides it in his vest pocket.  "Trust me when I say that I understand how you must be feeling," he says, placing a hand on my shoulders and looking into my eyes intently.  I know he is using Legilimency to read my thoughts but I haven't the strength or the will to repel him.  Let him see everything…every sordid detail of my pathetic life.  At least he will know that I am not lying and planning to steal Granger away in her sleep so that my father can have his fun.

"Hermione, it is all right.  We can trust him," Snape turns to Granger who looks pale. 

She slowly walks towards me.

I don't know what to say to her.  I've always treated her little better than a house elf and yet, for some unknown reason, she has held out hope that I wouldn't just turn out to be a younger version of my father.  I can't say that I understand.  I am not in a position to understand anything right now.  My world has turned upside down and I am still falling.

She smiles at me, and I am still amazed that I see no hatred in them.  I see puzzlement, a bit of wariness but I don't see the things I saw last night in that other woman's eyes…I hope I never will. 

It's like that dream where you feel yourself falling and you wake up just before you hit the bottom…just before everything is lost…and that's when you wake up and realize that there is still so much to be gained.  There is still hope…even for me.

Bloody hell…I sound like a Hufflepuff that's been hit with one too many Bludgers.

"Shall we?" Snape walks to the door and waits expectantly.

I nod and motion for Granger to precede me before walking out myself.

Within moments, I am sitting beside Granger on a squashy leather chair in Snape's office.  He is sitting at his desk and listening to me with his fingers steepled in front of him.  Granger and I have mugs of hot cocoa in our hands.  Snape's mug is filled with coffee…black.

I certainly didn't expect my morning to turn out like this.

Then again, I didn't expect to realize that I made a mistake.  Malfoys never make mistakes.  That's what Father always taught me.

Well, he was wrong.  Isn't that rich?

And I don't expect to be making Reductus poison anytime soon.

Good thing…I never was particularly good at Potions anyway.

So, I begin to tell them everything and I realize…

…this will take a while…