Three days had passed and Hermione was still curled up in the corner of her living room floor. She hadn't bathed. She hadn't eaten. She hadn't even bothered to get up to use the bathroom. She hadn't slept either, as was clearly evidenced by the black circles surrounding her dark eyes. Tear stains could still be distinguished against her pale cheeks, and her hair was a tangled, matted mess.
He stepped over broken glass, scattered stuffing of torn-open pillows, and various liquids he did not care to identify as he made his way through the house. He stopped when he reached her, staring down with equal parts disgust, contempt, and his own swelling superiority. "So this is what you've been reduced to."
Hermione didn't bother to look up, or even flinch at the sound of a human voice. She idly wondered when she last blinked. The boy standing over her didn't matter. The purpose of his coming didn't matter. Nothing mattered.
He nudged her ungently with his foot. "Get up, Granger."
She still remained motionless. "Give me a reason," she muttered so low that he could barely hear her.
He sighed and nudged her again. "They're taking you, whether you come willingly or they come and drag you out."
Her eyes, exponentially darker than he remembered, shifted to his face. "Is that what you're here for?"
He looked away from her, scanning the ruins of her home. "I was told you bring you back, yes."
"Then take me."
He glanced back at her suddenly. Her eyes were still on his face, and he felt something unpleasant stirring in his stomach. He examined her for a moment before speaking. "You're miserable, right? You don't want to live anymore, right? They'll kill you. They'll put you out of your misery. There's your reason."
Hermione stared at him for several seconds before she sat up. Her body ached unbearably, a painful reminder that she was indeed still alive. She climbed clumsily to her feet, holding onto the wall for support. "Alright, Malfoy. Take me."
Draco frowned deeply. "At least go clean yourself. Die with a bit of dignity, will you?"
Hermione's first instinct was to laugh loudly in his face. What use was dignity now? But she realized that she didn't have the strength to laugh, nor the desire to. She stumbled into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her and stripping off her stained, ripped robes. She turned the shower on and stepped in, washing away a week's worth of grime, blood, and dirt. She pulled on a fresh set of robes and walked back into the living room, where Draco was standing perfectly still, as if terrified to touch anything for fear of catching some horrible disease. He said nothing as he lead her out of the house.
She was taken to the Death Eater stronghold, stationed rather spitefully at the former Ministry of Magic. Wizards and witches in black hoods lined the building, like dark soldiers standing guard. She wondered what they were bothering to guard against as Draco lead her past them and into the inner-chambers.
Two wizards and one witch were sitting behind an ornate podium, and Draco stepped up in front of Hermione. "I've brought Granger. She came willingly."
The witch nodded in an unfriendly manner and made a flicking motion with her hand. Draco bowed his head very slightly and stepped out without so much as another glance at Hermione. The witch then looked at her. "You are charged with aiding the boy whom's name we do not say in his crimes against the Dark Lord. We have many witnesses and accounts of your actions. Do you wish to hear the evidence against you?"
Hermione shook her head, looking at the floor.
"Would you like to argue your defense?"
Hermione shook her head again.
"Very well. We sentence you to execution by curse. Your punishment will be carried out in three weeks from this day. Until that time, you will be detained in the inner-most containment chamber."
Four days had passed and Hermione still hadn't caught a glimpse of Draco again, or anyone else for that matter. A tray with meager food was shoved through a slot in the door twice a day, never a word or sound from the other side. Sometimes she ate, only to ease the burning pain building up in her stomach. Sometimes she ignored the stale bread and dirty water simply because she didn't feel like crawling over to it.
She grabbed hold of the wooden bench, which was actually her bed, and used it to pull herself into a sitting position. Her body was still sore, still aching. She had bruises everywhere and wounds that would never have the chance to fully heal.
There was a clicking noise by the door and she looked up. It opened slowly, and she wondered if her mind had deteriorated to the point that she could no longer tell four days from three weeks. But it was only Draco who stepped inside, shutting the door behind him and taking three steps toward her, leaving a respectable distance between them.
She looked back down. "Oh," she said.
Draco looked quickly around the cell, then at her. "You're not eating properly."
Hermione glanced reflexively at the untouched tray on the floor.
"You need to eat your meals. Otherwise you'll die before the execution."
Hermione leaned back against the wall. She winced when hard stone collided with damaged flesh. "Is that a bad thing?"
Draco frowned. Hermione realized that she quite liked his frown. It reminded her of the past, of a time when a glaring Draco was one of her biggest annoyances. "It's bad for me," he told her, "because I don't get my promotion until your case is completed."
"Ah, I see."
Draco reached down and picked up the tray. She noticed that he was wearing black gloves, which explained why he was willing to touch an object in her cell. He sat the food on the wooden bench. "Eat. Starving to death won't be very pleasant, you know."
"And an execution before an eager audience will be?"
"No, probably not, but at least it will be quick."
She looked at the food. A funny thought ran through her mind, of picking up the tray and flinging it at Draco, sloshing the murky water across his face. But really, where was the point? She picked up the clump of bread and gingerly tore a small piece off. "Will you be there?"
He stiffened slightly. "Be where?"
"At my execution. Will you be there?"
Draco averted his eyes from her. "Yes, I suppose I will. Just a formality, really. Looks good for that promotion, you know."
Hermione nodded. "And there's no way you can get them to move the date up? I'm getting bored."
Draco was taken a bit off guard. No one had ever asked for an earlier execution date before. He took a breath and leaned against the door. "I don't have that authority."
"I see. Well then, in exchange for eating and staying alive until then, will you do me a favor?"
Draco wordlessly nodded.
"When I am to be executed, I'll look for you in the crowd. When I spot you, I want you to give me your best frown."
Draco blinked, looking extremely puzzled. "Frown?"
Hermione finally placed the piece of bread in her mouth. "I like your frown," she said.
Three days had passed and Hermione still ate her bread. Draco came in every day, for only a few minutes. He asked her about her food and gave her news on the outside world and talked about anything but her approaching execution.
"Malfoy, are you happy being a Death Eater?"
The question seemed to come from nowhere, and Draco looked down, then around the room, and finally at her before answering. "It's a job," was all he could say.
Hermione was sitting on the wooden bench/bed. "It's a life, Malfoy."
He frowned again. "It's none of your business."
"How many people have you killed so far?"
Draco turned to face the door.
"Any children yet?"
He turned around sharply. "Two! I killed two people, alright?"
Hermione said nothing else as she picked at her piece of bread. In the corner of her eye she could see Draco's hands beginning to tremor slightly as he shoved them into the pockets of his robes. A thick, awkward silence filled the air, though Hermione was certain it was far more awkward for him than for her. He faced the door again, slowly this time, and slid back the latch.
Hermione stood up. "Malfoy... someday you're going to die with a lot of regrets."
He didn't face her, but lowered his head. "And you, Granger, are going to die in two weeks with a lot of regrets, aren't you?"
She was quiet for another moment, then quietly eased back down onto the bench. "Of course."
"So what's the difference?"
Hermione did not answer, because there was no answer. Draco disappeared into the hallway and the door slammed shut behind him.
Seven days had passed and Hermione still hadn't seen Draco since they discussed his occupation. But on this day the door made that familiar clicking sound and that familiar pale face framed in blonde hair appeared in Hermione's cell.
She had been asleep, but the opening of the door awakened her and she sat up. "What a nice surprise," she said with little sincerity.
"Only a week left," Draco said, marking the first time he had brought up her execution without being provoked in some way.
"I've been wondering... why is it that you like my frown?"
Hermione smiled, half-heartedly yet it was still a smile. "Because it makes me remember them."
Draco hesitated for only a second, then asked "Potter and Weasley? How?"
Hermione closed her eyes. "The three of us used to dread running into you, you know. You always had something nasty to say. And you were always scowling at us, even when you were laughing. But you were something we faced together. A common enemy. Ron and I couldn't always stand by Harry against Voldemort, but we could stand by him against you."
Draco didn't move from his spot just inside the door. "So I'm a reminder then, of times when the three of you were together."
Hermione nodded again, opening her eyes to look at him. "You're different now."
"Oh really? How so?"
"I don't know. But there's something missing."
Draco didn't say anything to that. If he were more honest he would admit that she had spoken aloud something he had been thinking about himself. He had changed, and he couldn't figure out how or why.
"Why did you come in here today, Malfoy?"
Draco looked at her sharply. "I just... wanted to make sure you're still eating."
"You know I'm still eating. The guards report it every day, don't they?"
Draco turned around to face the door. "Right, but I wanted to be sure. So I'll be going."
Hermione stood up from the bench. "Wait, Malfoy... I think I've spotted what's different about you."
Draco looked over his shoulder at her.
"You don't hate me anymore."
Draco frowned again. "Why would you think that?"
Hermione's face was calm and her voice was quiet. "Because I don't hate you anymore."
"That's ridiculous!" Draco yelled, putting his hand on the latch.
"Is it because you're lonely? You haven't mentioned it before, but your friends died too, didn't they?"
Draco flung open the door, but whirled to face her once more. "I never had any friends! I don't care if those people are dead or not!"
Hermione still remained calm. "But somehow, you care that I'm about to die."
Draco pulled out his wand so quickly that Hermione took a step back. He pointed it at her face, his own becoming flushed. "I don't care! Why should I! And I still hate you, you disgusting Mudblood! I should kill you right here!"
Hermione didn't flinch. "Wouldn't that look bad for your promotion?"
Draco growled and slammed the door in her face before storming off.
Ten minutes had passed and Hermione still stood frozen in place. She had thought she would never be shocked again in her life, but Draco had succeeded in truly surprising her. She assumed he was beyond provoking to such lengths anymore, but he had proven her wrong.
And so it was that her shock was multiplied by a thousand when the door flew open and Draco rushed inside, wrapping his arms fiercely around her and pressing his mouth onto hers. His grip was so strong and powerful that her bruised body ached. But Hermione did not protest, did not try to push him away. She instead placed her hands on his back and clutched his robes in her fists.
Soon he had her pressed against the wall of the cell, and she noticed idly that he wasn't wearing gloves. His hands were everywhere, and she reluctantly released his robes so that he could remove them. Her fingers tangled themselves in Draco's hair, and she remembered wondering years ago, just once, if his hair was really as soft as it looked. Something was burning inside her. Something she hated and loved at the same time.
Draco didn't speak, and neither did Hermione. No words were needed as they slid to the floor, tearing at each other like animals. They each represented something to each other. The past, the lives they lead before everything went wrong, before the war, before the endless death, before the crippling loss.
For those fleeting moments on the floor of the cell, they could forget the pain. They could go back in time. They could let go of themselves.
Four days had passed and Hermione still saw Draco each day. They spent the time wrapped in each other on the floor of her cell or against the wall of her cell or on the bench in her cell. And with each passing day, both could feel themselves unraveling, fading into a dark and empty place where nothing existed except for each other.
And yet nothing could change. They were fully aware of that. In the end, Hermione would die and Draco would remain a Death Eater. But neither spoke of that anymore.
Three days had passed and Hermione still had no desire to escape or fight back. Harry was dead. Ron was dead. Her family was dead. Everyone she knew or cared about had been torn from her and the enemy sat happily on his throne within the heart of the Ministry. There was nothing left worth fighting for.
So when the guards came to take her from her cell, she did not resist. They attached shackles to her wrists and lead her down a dank hallway and then out into a bright, sunny courtyard. Hermione's eyes burned from the sudden light and she looked at the ground to avoid it as the guards attached her shackles to two tall metal posts.
When she had finally adjusted to the sun, she glanced around to find a miniature stadium full of onlookers. All were Death Eaters, or at the very least friends or relatives of Death Eaters. Voldemort himself sat in a large chair close to the front, facing her directly. She supposed he wanted to get a good look at the end of Harry's last remaining accomplice. He was sneering of course, and for once she wished she had her wand so that she could make one final try at killing him. It wouldn't work, but it'd be nice to give him a bit of trouble on her way out.
Four Death Eaters cloaked so heavily in black robes that she couldn't distinguish their genders approached her with their wands drawn. She scanned the crowd, trying to pick out Draco's face. She finally spotted him, staring at her from the far left-hand corner. He was not frowning, but rather looked completely blank. She gave him a look that said "Remember your promise!"
He smiled, so briefly that she wondered if it had been an illusion, then blinked once before frowning as deeply as he could. Hermione smiled too, just as four bolts of green light shot through her body. She jerked once before her head dropped and her body went limp.
Draco's frown faded as he wrapped his cloak around himself and walked back toward the Ministry. In his mind, he could see the last thread of a beautiful fabric being pulled away, leaving nothing behind.