Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter in any way, shape, or form…trust me.
Summery: Hermione is now in her sixth year and she and her friends are preparing for the war to come. One night, while brewing a potion, something happens that causes Hermione to begin to lose her sight and find an unlikely friend in the darkness.
Hermione: 16yrs. (6th year) Ron: 16yrs. (6th year) Ginny: 15yrs. (5th year)
Draco: 16yrs. (6th year) Crabbe & Goyle: 16yrs. (6th year)
Blaise: 16yrs. (6th year) Harry: 16yrs. (6th year)
Draco stared aimlessly at the fire in the Slytherin common room as he lounged across a chair. "Until this is over, it will always be a factor." Hermione's voice rang over and over in his head. He should have known…hell he had known that things weren't going to be easy. Going for Hermione was going to take courage and the type of sacrifice he'd never had to make. He'd never even thought he'd ever have to.
Her family…Draco knew he could have found the courage to stand up to his father. As dangerous a man as Lucius Malfoy was, he would never have allowed his own son to die. Draco supposed there was some part of his father that loved him, or perhaps it was the fact that Draco looked so much like his father that Lucius' narcissistic tendencies wouldn't allow that blow to his ego. Either way it went, Draco knew that his father having knowledge of his feelings would never have led to him turning Draco over to Voldemort.
However, using that same knowledge to threaten Hermione's parents…Draco couldn't fight that. He was selfish enough to risk his own family's "honor", but he was not selfish enough to risk Hermione's family. He couldn't do that to her on top of everything else.
With a frustrated sigh Draco pulled his hand roughly through his pale locks. There was no other solution. He had to back off and give his father what he wanted. From that moment on, Hermione was once again beneath him. She was filth and he was a prince. She was pathetic and he was a lord…she was beautiful and he was heartbroken.
Hermione lay curled up and a tight ball after Malfoy's departure. He had taken the letter from her hands and she heard his outraged intake of breath as he'd read it. His face must have betrayed no emotion as the gasp had been so subtle that she probably wouldn't have heard it had her other senses not been in a natural overdrive. The knowledge was crushing to him. She heard it in his voice before he left.
"Herm-Granger," he corrected himself coldly. "I-"
"Don't apologize," she interrupted. "You didn't cause this." He was silent and the air around them thickened.
"May I say goodbye to you?" he asked finally, his voice gruff. "Properly?" Even though she wasn't sure what he meant, Hermione nodded. He was hurting and, given their history, Hermione was surprised to find herself wanting to do what she could to ease the pain.
She was even more surprised a second later when warm fingers brushed lightly across her cheek. He was closer now, she could feel his breath inches from her face.
"I suppose I should regret my past behavior," there was a bitter amusement in his voice. "But every memory I have of you is a happy one simply because it's a memory of you. Three seconds of your time, a glance my way, seeing you smile from afar…it's all been worth it." Hermione felt her breath catch in her throat as he spoke, still brushing his fingers across her cheek intimately.
Seconds later warm lips were pressed to her own in a bittersweet kiss that Hermione knew shouldn't have felt so right. He pulled back and rested his forehead against her own.
"I love you," he breathed raggedly. His voice was laced with a number of emotions; pain, want, and fear being the most prominent she could make out. Hermione suddenly felt a chill when the warmth of Draco was replaced with cool air and she heard the door shut. She lay back against her pillows. She did not feel an unexplained ache at what had definitely been Draco giving up on her. She did not feel a hopeless weight bearing down on her chest. She was not going to miss him…
Hermione pushed a stray tear away from her eyes. It made no sense. She knew almost nothing positive about Draco Malfoy. She only remembered hard angry eyes glaring her way…angry eyes that had always seemed sad. She only remembered insults…and lips that seemed to caress her name even as they cursed it. Oh Merlin, the signs! They had been right in front of her. His glares had come every time Harry or Ron had made her smile or touched her. The insults had come every time he had been close enough to speak to her. Often he wouldn't even have a rebuttal for her statement and would just stand there with that smirk of his.
He had liked her for…Merlin, for years! Draco Malfoy liked her-no-Draco Malfoy loved her. He loved her and she…well she didn't know what she felt for Draco at the moment. In the beginning it had been easy. Tell him no because he was everything he had sworn he was only pretending to be. He was Voldemort's Pureblood Poster Boy. Malfoy came from a purely magical family, he also happened to be old money, the fact that he was good looking and held an aristocratic air around him had definitely not hurt.
Hermione laughed mirthlessly. It rather reminded her of the muggle Twilight books. The author had quite an imagination, but vampires, while dangerous and difficult to destroy, did not survive in the sun and slept through the day like all the legends stated. However, Hermione could see herself now in the lines "and so the lion fell in love with the lamb"…one of the many problems, was that the lamb wasn't so sure if it was in love with the lion.
Blaise supposed that he should be regretting every step, every lie, every action that had brought him to this point and a large part of him did but…but, a small part of him didn't care. It also didn't help that that same small part was strong. Draco was his friend, they had been ever since first year. While Draco had strut about the school perpetuating the image his father had ingrained, Blaise had quietly sat back and known that it was all a show. He allowed Draco to find the twisted boulder brothers, also known as Crabbe and Goyle, and show him what he was a step away from becoming.
It hadn't taken more than a few weeks for Draco to realize what he was doing to himself. Blaise had been there. They had spoken late into the night; a dark conversation that no two eleven year olds should have ever heard, let alone been a part of. Draco knew he had no choice but to continue being what his father wanted. He had no other options, he was a Malfoy. Blaise disagreed, but Draco seemed much too shaken to chance it.
Years passed with Blaise taking no part in Draco's show. He hovered in the background a smart student, though not brilliant as Hermione undoubtedly was…Hermione. Blaise knew he should regret her, but he couldn't completely convince himself that he did. He didn't want to lose Draco over her though…he couldn't. They had been friends for far too long and Blaise knew that what lay ahead for them both was too perilous to do alone.
Hermione…she was special, but maybe this was fate's way of letting Blaise know she could never be his…at least not the way he wanted her to be. She had said friends. He could live with friends and learn to look at her like he didn't want to taste her lips. He could ignore the fact that her voice, even in anger, made him want to grin at her stupidly.
"It's a crush," Blaise told himself. It's what he should have told himself in the beginning. "It's just a crush and it's not worth losing your best friend over."