I guess you'd call this a "two-shot"; a little two-chapter ficlet written for the recent "Hot Summer Nights" Draco/Hermione fic exchange. The link to the exchange site in is my profile. The request I was given to fulfill was as follows:

BRIEFLY describe what you'd like to receive: Unresolved Sexual Tension (that finally gets resolved. hehe). Hot sticky summer heat. Real feelings between Dr/Hr.
What rating would you prefer? R

Deal Breakers (what don't you want?): Fluff, OOC Hermione or Draco. Too much focus on other characters.

And here's what I came up with (hope you enjoy it!)

Title: Sacrifice
Author: Kyra
Rating: R
Warnings: Language. Sexual content in chapter 2. Seriously, recklessly pissed-off Draco. I think that's it.
Disclaimer: Only the plot, people, only the plot.

Summary: Hermione sacrifices her virginity for a noble cause.

XOXOXOX

The portrait of Mrs. Black was going ballistic when Hermione arrived, screaming itself hoarse about the worst of all blood traitors. It took Hermione a good several minutes to subdue the old bitch, and she only managed it when Ginny materialized on the stairs behind her and lent a hand- or a wand, as the case may be. Hermione, teeth gritted in concentration as she fought to suppress the shrieking crone, knew that there was only one person who was capable of incensing the portrait to this degree- the same person who went deliberately out of his way to wake it up and provoke it whenever he arrived.

'Malfoy?" she asked Ginny with a raised eyebrow, once she could finally hear herself think again.

"Arrived ten minutes ago. He's down in the kitchen fixing himself up a bit," Ginny said flatly. "He's due to report in about half an hour. I saw him come in; he was pretty well banged up. Made it clear that he didn't want help, though, which was just as well, seeing as there's not a single person here who has the slightest interest in offering him any. Not even mum, and you know that's saying something. I tried to deal with Mrs. Black myself, but I couldn't go it alone and nobody else would even come down… they're so sick of it, they just let her yell now. They've all soundproofed their rooms." She flipped her scarlet hair; a sure sign of deep irritation. "He's a complete arsehole," she said with authority, "and I can't wait for the day he's outlived his usefulness so Harry can tell him to go bugger himself."

She turned and stalked away.

Hermione stood where she was for a long time, thinking. How badly hurt was Malfoy? Ginny was a consummate tomboy with six older brothers, a knack for dueling, and a passion for Quidditch; a distinctly ungentle sport. If Ginny described a person as being 'pretty well banged up', odds were that said person was pretty darn well banged up. Did he really need help? She supposed she ought to go and check. He was doing them a valuable service, after all, regardless of what his motives might be, and it would be a shame to lose him. The truth was, they relied on the information he brought, especially after… after what had happened with Snape. His tip-offs had always proved sound, and worth their weight in gold. There was no question in her mind that lives had been saved as a result of them. If he was hurt, then somebody here needed to at least attempt to help- they owed him that much. And as doing so was guaranteed to be a rather less-than-pleasant task, it appeared to have been reserved exclusively for her. As per usual.

She sighed and headed down the stairs toward the kitchen.

00000

He didn't notice her at first, through the partially-open door, so she had a moment in which to observe him. He was seated at the end of the large, scrubbed-wood table, in a chair he had tipped back onto two legs in a manner that would have made Molly froth at the mouth. Worse still, he had one booted foot braced against the table itself while he wrapped a length of bandage around and around his midsection, biting hard on his lower lip as he did so. He was shirtless- his jumper thrown carelessly over the back of a nearby chair; some larger piece of clothing, either a cloak or Death Eater robe- vile thing- similarly discarded. She could see cuts; scrapes; ugly purplish bruises beginning to bloom all over his lean, hard torso. It appeared that there was a sizable gash underneath the bandages he was none-too-gently applying to himself. Crimson blood was beginning to seep through the tight-stretched white fabric of them.

She could make out at least one large rip in the black fabric of his trousers as well- (black, black, black- how could he stand to wear all that black in weather like this!? She felt damp and sticky from the heat in just the sleeveless blouse and lightweight, ruffled peasant skirt she was wearing- her hair a hopeless frizz from the unseasonably humid warmth)- a bloody gash there too. From what she could see of his body- and she could see a lot- a fine sheen of sweat covered him nearly from head to toe. And here was the thing- blood and sweat and bruises aside, he was, she had to admit to herself, absolutely beautiful. Beautiful in a dark, feral, dangerous way… but beautiful nevertheless. And then-

"Take a picture, why don't you," he snarled abruptly, making her jump and blush to the roots of her hair. Apparently he'd seen her after all. "It'll last longer."

"Jesus, Malfoy," she managed, appalled, once she'd regained some modicum of composure. "What did they do to you?"

He shot her a venomous glare from beneath the sweat-sodden, near-white fringe that was pasted across his eyes as he continued to tend himself. "All in a night's work, Granger," he said flatly, grimacing as he yanked the bandage tight around his ribs.

"But that's monstrous," she said. "How can… how can you even… pretend to be one of them when they-"

"When they what?" he cut in, furious. "You think the Death Eaters did this, Granger? Jesus fucking Christ, how naive are you?! They didn't do this to me! Your bloody precious Aurors did this to me! They raided us tonight; Shacklebolt and his cronies. You know damn well they're not aware of what I'm doing. They'd have killed me- and slowly- if they could. They did kill tonight, Granger. Did you think they were fucking pacifists? There's a war on." He got to his feet abruptly; shoved his hair out of his eyes; faced her across the room with his fists clenched, breathing hard. He was nearly boiling over with anger… come to think of it, she hadn't seen him any other way since he'd first resurfaced several months ago, braving Harry and Ron's predictable response of wanting to hex first and ask questions later, in order to offer inside Death Eater information to the Order.

"So wake the fuck up," he spat in conclusion, kicking over the chair he'd been sitting in as an added little bit of punctuation.

Hermione felt as if she'd been punched. She was so shocked by the revelation that Draco's ugly injuries had come from Aurors- from good guys- that she couldn't even summon the energy or will to take him to task for how he was speaking to her.

"Oh," she said finally, in a small voice that was nothing like her usual, brisk tone. "I just assumed that… after what they did to Professor Snape…"

"What they did to Snape, they did when they discovered that he was a traitor," Draco growled, cutting her off. "He got careless, and he paid the price. I have no intention of ever being caught out the way he was, so it's not the Death Eaters that worry me. Right now it's your bloody side that worries me."

"So then why are you doing this? Why are you helping us?" Hermione asked, even though she knew the answer already. She'd heard the story… but she'd never heard it from him.

His jaw actually dropped a little as he stared at her, astonished, it seemed, that she had had the nerve to voice that question. Everyone knew it was a subject to be avoided at all costs with him. He was flushed- as flushed as he ever got, at any rate. A pair of small, bright fever spots of rage were burning high in his cheeks… the rest of his face that deadly shade of pale he got when angry almost beyond words.

Which was all the time, lately.

She waited a moment longer- he neither moved nor spoke.

The silence spiraled out. Finally, sighing, Hermione turned back toward the door. Merlin, what had she been thinking of, even trying to speak to him as if he were a normal human being? He was not a normal human being. He was Malfoy, for God's sake.

"Look, I'm sorry," she said, already moving away. "I just came down here to see if you were all right. Ginny said- well, never mind. I shouldn't have pried. Whatever your reasons are, we're grateful-"

"I don't want your concern, Granger," he exploded from behind her then, "and I DON'T want your bloody gratitude, either! You can take your fucking bleeding heart and choke on it for all I care!"

All right, enough. Just, enough.

She turned back toward him, ready now to finally commence giving him a piece of her mind, but she didn't get the chance. He'd only stopped shouting long enough to draw what sounded like a harsh, painful breath. He was… he was nearly incandescent with rage.

"You think I'm doing this for you? You think I give a shit whether any of you live or die!?" His hands were clenching and unclenching spasmodically, as though itching to seize something up and hurl it against the wall- or seize her by the throat, and squeeze.

How could anyone even survive carrying around that much anger inside them? Hermione wondered distractedly. It was like poison; like a disease. It was eating him alive, from the inside out, and at the heart of the matter, from what she'd been told, was the fact that Draco's own compatriots had-

"THEY KILLED MY MOTHER!" He grabbed his shirt abruptly off the chair it had been slung over; yanked it savagely back over his head. There was a long rip in the black fabric, which Hermione supposed must correspond with the rip in his flesh beneath. The mottled red and white of the bandages showed through. His pale eyes, when they met hers again, were blazing; his baby-fine, silver-white hair tousled now; crackling with static.

"Did you know that, Granger? Because my father botched a crucial mission- she was killed as an example; that no one else who valued his family had better fuck up that badly ever again. They made my father watch, they… they turned her into the entertainment at one of their revels."

Her shock and horror must have shown clearly on her face, because he barked out a bitter, mirthless, hate-filled laugh. "I can see Potter and them spared you the details- how thoughtful of them not to want to trouble your bushy little head; how kind. I was spared the brunt of it too, as it happens; I wasn't forced to watch as my father was. I was off performing some menial, busywork, bullshit task I'd been given to get me out of the way. Of course I didn't realize at the time that's all it was… the fact that I was such a good little worker-bee, my Lord didn't want to risk losing my loyalty. I wasn't ever supposed to know anything about it; it was going to be passed off somehow as an attack by your side. But when I got home my father was waiting for me in his study. There was a pensieve on his desk. I could tell just by looking at him that something was horribly wrong. He asked me to view the contents, then destroy the pensieve and come find him. I… what I saw…" he trailed off for a moment, his eyes distant and dazed. He looked, somehow, both older and younger than his nearly twenty years of life; still angry, so angry… but lost as well. So very lost and alone. And still slowly leaking blood. Something in Hermione's heart went out to him in that instant… but then he was talking again and the moment was over.

"When I came out of it, I was alone in the room. I destroyed the pensieve as I'd been instructed, then went looking for him. I found him- and mother- together in their bedroom. He must have cleaned her up before I'd gotten home. The bruises and blood and- and the expression of- of horror were gone; her face was peaceful, her hair was brushed; she was in her favorite nightgown, and tucked into bed. He'd gotten in beside her and… his wandtip was still pressed to his temple when I found him. He'd never come out and asked me to avenge them; he'd known he didn't have to. It was a given." He paused and scrubbed the back of one hand, hard, across his eyes.

"I removed his wand, laid it on the nightstand, straightened… straightened him out; and then I sat there, with them, for a long time. I was still sitting there when my aunt came in and found us- I'd heard her calling through the house, but I hadn't answered. When she saw my parents she acted distraught- stuck to the story, that it must have been an attack by the Order; killed in their own bed, how much more monstrous could it get? I knew better, though; I'd seen her in the pensieve. She was there, she watched along with all the others. She didn't participate, but she didn't stop it either; unlike my father, she hadn't even needed to be restrained. Her own sister. It was later that night that I approached the Order."

He was looking at her levelly now, his anger once again under control, though she could still see it there, simmering, just beneath the surface. "The kind of damage I want to do to them- all of them- I can't accomplish on my own," he said flatly. "I want to bring them down, Granger, every last goddamned one. That's why I'm doing this. Not for you, not for Potter, not for any anyone or anything save revenge. That's my only motivation, and don't you forget it. Ever."

Hermione opened her mouth to reply, hardly knowing what she was going to say- but she never got the chance. A new voice behind her in the doorway cut in, instead.

"What the fuck, Malfoy, are you crying?"

Oh, God. Ron.

Of all the people guaranteed to make this already volatile situation a whole lot worse. And, Hermione didn't think that Draco was crying. She was pretty certain that it was simply more sweat running from his near colorless hair down into his eyes; it was like a furnace down here. Regardless, however, of whether relating his story to her had, in fact, moved him to tears, she was pretty sure that he would not appreciate Ron's implication.

And she was right.

Before Draco could do more than narrow his eyes, which were now practically shooting off sparks, however, yet another voice drifted into the room. "Leave it, Ron," said Harry Potter, stepping around his red-haired friend and into the room, leveling a serious (Harry rarely looked otherwise these days) and speculative jade-green gaze on Draco.

"Malfoy," he said quietly, "can I have a word?"

"No," Draco spat, "you cannot. Shove off, Potter, I've just remembered there's somewhere else I need to be." He shouldered his way past the black-haired boy that was so like him in stature and bearing; the two of them standing nearly eye-to-eye, the same height down to less than a centimeter; dark hair to light, green eyes to grey.

Those eyes locked for a split second, then Draco was moving on, his eyes catching Hermione's now. They still lingered on hers when Harry spoke again, flatly, not turning around. "Malfoy."

Hermione saw his pale eyes narrow further- down to steel-grey slits; saw his mouth tighten into a thin, hard line. He was so close to her that she could feel the heat radiating off his skin; the heat of the day, and the heat of his rage.

"What, Potter?" he bit out from between clenched teeth.

Harry sighed. "Look, I heard some of what you were saying. It seems we have something in common now. Death Eaters killed my mother too. So if you ever want-"

"Potter." Draco's voice was deathly quiet, but cut through Harry's words like a knife. His eyes never left Hermione's as he spoke. "I do not. Want to talk to you. About my bloody feelings. Now, or ever. All right? Is that perfectly- fucking- clear?"

Harry said nothing more. "This is your fault, Granger," Draco added, muttering the words into her ear as he pushed past her. She understood his meaning; her fault he'd let his guard down, even for a short time, even in anger. Her fault he'd been caught, as a consequence, in a moment of weakness by Harry and Ron, two people he would never have wanted to appear weak in front of. All her fault. His lips were nearly moving against her earlobe, making it tingle, as he whispered, almost gently, "I fucking hate you."

And then he was gone.

00000

He didn't return, either, to give his report. He sent it via owl post instead, an act that was almost ludicrously rash and dangerous. Owls were being intercepted all the time these days, sometimes with horrific consequences. So while Harry and Ron and Ginny all ranted and raved about what a complete, irresponsible arsehole Draco Malfoy was, Hermione was busy fretting about Draco's safety. Merlin, look what had happened to Severus Snape! Draco knew what had happened to Snape- hell, he probably knew more about it than Hermione did. And he'd said he'd had no intentions of following in his former mentor's footsteps, not in that regard. And yet, actions spoke louder than words… and the act of sending a classified report by owl post- well, it was simply insane. It was as if he had a death wish- and considering the horror of the tale he'd told her, she thought it just possible that he might.

And he shouldn't be allowed to self-destruct like that. He shouldn't. He was valuable to them, but that wasn't all of it. No, if she were being honest with herself she would have to admit that that wasn't even most of it. He was… God, he was just in so much pain. And Hermione had never been able to stand seeing anyone or anything in pain like that. She couldn't just look the other way. It wasn't in her nature.

Someone needed to reach out to him. Someone needed to help him, whether he realized he needed help or not. Someone needed to draw the rage and the hatred out of him like drawing poison from a wound.

And just like that, Hermione had her newest charity cause. She would reach out to him. She would draw that hate like poison from a wound.

If only she could figure out how