Woohoo, a one shot! I can't lie, writing this basically depressed me, but it hopped into my head and I simply had to write it.

I own nothing but minor details of the plot.

Please, review! I love to hear opinions.


Hermione really wasn't living the seventh year she had dreamed of.

In fact, it was shaping up to be much worse than she had ever anticipated. And it wasn't even Christmas yet.

She definitely couldn't explain it, but her priorities were severely skewed. Everything she had once loved– her books, her professors, even her homework– seemed oddly insignificant.

She had come to a sharp realization, a reality check if you will, over the summer.

In a world filled with Death Eaters, murder, torture, and a great need to bond together, how important was an O compared to an E, really?

It was this simple thought, (and she felt naive just admitting it to herself), that had led her into the identity crisis she was currently experiencing.

If she had been asked, later on, to pinpoint exactly where she had gone wrong, it might have been a considerably easy answer. The old Hermione surely would have recognized the irony in the situation. Hell, she would have been thrilled to see such profound irony in her own life.

Her only mistake would be her undoing.

-

It was Christmas Eve. Hermione found herself desperate to avoid her stack of homework in an attempt at realism. Completing her homework wouldn't help the Order.

However, it had only been the day before when she had seen Harry, Ron and Ginny off on the train while she remained at Hogwarts for the break, her own choice.

She was finding it much more difficult to simply exist than she had suspected. There were only so many times one could wander the halls of Hogwarts, and being Winter, she could only spend limited time outdoors.

She had heard whispers in the halls of a Christmas Eve party. As Head Girl, it was her duty to report such events to Professor McGonagall, however she hesitated to do so. Because although the idea terrified and appalled her, if she chose to attend it might give her an opportunity to do something. Anything, really.

She knew Lavender would attend with her if she asked nicely, albeit warily. Bringing the Head Girl to a seventh year party was similar to bringing McGonagall to a Death Eater gathering. Maybe not quite as severe.

As Hermione was considering the potential outcomes of such an evening, she became aware that she had arrived at the library. Old habits die hard. She smiled wryly.

Deciding just to relax in one of the softer armchairs, Hermione quietly walked inside, not finding her usual relief through the inhalation of the dusty old books.

Sinking into the chair, Hermione realized just how worn she felt.

Seventh year, to her, could easily be classified a nightmare. She had been awarded the position of Head Girl before she achieved her revelation, so to speak. She imagined now if she understood what all would have come with it, she probably would have said thanks, but no thanks.

The expectations were driving her mad. Because while all seventh years were expected to work hard and earn their NEWTs, no one even had a doubt about Hermione. She was the brightest witch in school; it was just how things worked.

She was so torn between being a student and being someone else. Someone who didn't care so much about the trivial matters but was focused on improving her life. The lives around her.

At the same time, Hermione didn't want to be either of those. She just wanted to be a teenaged girl. Was that really so much to ask? She wanted to make the wrong choice now and then, to learn from her mistakes, to make amazing and lifelong friendships.

At least she had always thought she had one of those down. Ron and Harry were everything she could have asked for. But it seemed they too had discovered how vital it would prove to have a strong side for when Voldemort and his followers finally attacked.

All they spoke of was strategies, Order meetings, and becoming Aurors. Hermione reckoned Harry would have dropped out of Hogwarts to become an Auror already if it wasn't necessary for him to have a number of NEWTs.

Truthfully, Hermione was scared. She didn't attend all of the meetings, because while she wished for life to be nothing more than real, she found herself finding it all too real. She didn't want to fight the Dark Side... she wanted to be a Healer or a Writer or anything that could allow her some freedom from the terror surrounding her.

A shuffling of papers distracted her and Hermione looked up, bewildered. She saw Draco Malfoy at a nearby table, quill hovered pensively over a piece of parchment. He had a number of texts open next to him.

As if forgetting who she was, who he was, what their positions were, Hermione watched him. He was exquisite, as if sculpted from marble. She felt her mouth opening of its own accord.

"Hey, Malfoy," she greeted, eyes wide with shock. She had made a point of avoiding him all year. He glanced up at her; if he was surprised he wasn't showing it.

"What do you want, Granger?" His drawling voice seemed lower than usual, his eyes flashing with malice.

What had she gone and spoken to him for? Now she had absolutely nothing to say to him. He smirked, letting out a cold laugh that chilled Hermione's bones.

"You want me to fuck you, don't you?" he asked, his tone dripping with contempt. "Sorry Granger, I've got standards to uphold."

She was furious.

"How dare you! That is not why I spoke with you," she bit out, fingering her wand harshly within her robes.

There must have been something dangerous in her eyes because he sobered, watching her closely.

"Then what is it?" he asked, face devoid of expression once more.

"I just... need someone to talk to," she said it in nearly a whisper, unaware why she was saying it to begin with. She certainly didn't want to talk to Draco Malfoy.

He evaluated her for a long while before turning back to his writing.

"I am quite busy at the moment, Granger," he murmured and she felt her heart fall. He was letting her down easily, though she couldn't imagine why.

"Of course you are," she found herself saying, rising to leave the room. Her cheeks were burning with embarrassment. As she was walking away he looked up.

"Granger, c'mere," he said quietly, and she found herself walking back over. "I'm throwing a party in the Heads' Commons tonight. Since you live there anyway, you might as well attend." Something in his eyes found her nodding her head. As she was walking away once more she found he had slipped a piece of parchment into her hand without her noticing. Startled, she unfolded it.

Perhaps you and I aren't as different as I once thought.

-

Lavender had been thrilled when Hermione came to her requesting she help the latter prepare for Malfoy's party. She had swallowed her nerve, bit back on her curiosity about his note, and allowed herself to go just for the hell of it.

Lavender had done her hair, her makeup, and had her in a dress that was completely unlike Hermione. Which happened to be precisely what the brunette was aiming for. Hermione had to admit she looked quite nice.

The two girls ventured down from Hermione's dorm to the commons when they heard the buzz of chatter and soon realized it was not only seventh years. Being that the majority of them had gone home for the break, the news had apparently leaked to as far down as fifth year. It was sufficient to say the room was quite full.

Hermione only happened to notice she was drinking something suspect after she guzzled her fourth Butterbeer and the room started to swim. She rubbed her eyes, seeing Lavender no longer beside her.

She saw a flash of blond and stomped over.

"Malfoy, what have you put in the drinks?" she demanded, feeling a little giggly. She had difficulty keeping a straight face.

"Don't worry about it," he advised, his grey eyes regarding her closely.

"Fine then, I won't," she threw back at him. She turned away, scanning the room for her friend when he walked up behind her again.

"What was it you wanted to talk about earlier?" he asked, suspiciously close to her ear. His hot breath made her shiver. She thought she felt his hand brush over her hip. "I've got time now."

"It was nothing," she murmured, feeling uncomfortable.

"It wasn't," he countered. "You rarely share one word with me. Come on, let's chat." He was gently tugging her hand in the direction of their dorms. Against her better will, she found herself following. "Who's going to notice two students vanishing from such a huge group?"

"No one probably," she bit her lip, walking carefully into his dorm. It was much like hers. Only darker.

She wasn't sure why she did it; maybe it was the drinks, but secretly she believed it was just because he sincerely wanted to listen. And no one wanted to listen to her, not really. So she spilled her heart, told him her cares, her worries, her wishes and dreams.

He was intent, attentive, and when she was done he stared at her, momentarily.

"You know," he began, eyeing her closely. "I think I may have been right. We are dreadfully alike, Granger."

With that he kissed her. Her memory fizzled away with the contact of his lips on hers, the contact that she had no thought of resisting at the time. All she wanted, at that precise moment, was to do something utterly unlike herself. And so she did.

-

Hermione woke feeling oddly comfortable the next morning, despite her pounding headache. Sinking deeper into the covers she left her eyes closed, remembering that it was Christmas. However, her eyes snapped open as she felt a pair of arms around her, on her bare flesh.

Her vision was met with the sleeping face of Draco Malfoy, barely an inch from her own. Biting back an immature urge to scream bloody murder, she gently shook him awake.

"What the fuck was that for, Granger?" he asked, rubbing his arm. So maybe it wasn't that gentle.

"Is that all you have to say?" she attempted to keep her voice from becoming hysterical. "You aren't wondering what I'm doing in your bed?"

"I typically don't question things I already understand," he replied, very matter-of-factly. "I already know what you're doing here."

"Then please, Malfoy, enlighten me."

"We had sex," he said simply, appearing almost bored. The colour drained from Hermione's face and Draco smirked, shaking his head. "You don't need to make such a big deal of it. You were drunk, I was drunk. Drunken teenagers do stupid things."

He made it sound as if he had expected it to happen. And maybe he had. But the only reason his words calmed Hermione was because it had been a mistake. A mistake she made on her own. One she would now have to deal with and learn from. She was almost proud of herself.

-

Whatever had drawn Hermione to speak to him that day in the library seemed suddenly in charge of her life. He became someone to speak to, someone she could vent to and share with. On rough days the prospect of telling him everything that had happened was the only thing to keep her going.

Her morals had taken a one-eighty nosedive and careened out of control in the opposite direction.

She had slept with him at least a dozen more times, clearly not by mistake.

She had stopped caring. As long as he provided the relief she needed, that was all that really mattered. She wouldn't call him a friend, because she didn't particularly feel good about their relationship. But she no longer had anything negative to say about him either.

He spoke to her as well. Though not as much as she did to him. He explained what he had meant about them being similar. She learned that he was just about as ready to crack as she was.

He once told her how much pressure his father placed on him to become a Death Eater.

"Do you want to be a Death Eater?" she had asked quietly, unsure why she wasn't dreading the answer.

"I don't know," he replied, thoughtful. "Sometimes I think I do."

She felt numb. The comment hardly registered until much later. So he wanted to be a Death Eater... he was still just Draco Malfoy. He was only a seventeen year old boy. What was to say he'd go any further than entertain notions of a hood and mask?

A part of her conscience– the part that had been shoved to the rear of her mind so often that it was now so quiet– warned that she should go straight to McGonagall and report him, tell her what he'd said.

But she liked to think her life was oh-so-symbolically falling apart. And so was his, it seemed. How better to go down than with someone else who understands you?

-

Harry and Ron barely spoke to her. When they had arrived back at the castle after Christmas break, they had greeted her then continued the conversation they'd been having. As if she was insignificant, unimportant, and quite frankly, a nuisance.

She had a sudden urge to tell them she'd been sleeping with Draco Malfoy while they were gone. Anything for them to offer her an opinion. To remind her that she wasn't invisible, that she was a real person. To inflict upon her those bloody expectations that everyone seemed to have for her.

She wanted them to yell at her. She wanted to feel emotion other than a fear of her own indifference. She was turning into him and there was nothing she could do about it, even if she wanted to.

Instead she remained silent. And they carried on with their lives.

Hermione allowed her grades to slip. She suddenly wanted nothing to do with school other than her roommate, Draco the-bloody-god-of-ice Malfoy.

He was the one that could make her hurt, make her scream, make her melt with euphoria. Him and the things he would do to her late at night, the things she'd never tell a soul about. The things he would say to her, the stories he could tell.

He became her life.

McGonagall was infuriated. Not only was her Head Girl slipping in classes, but she had taken to skipping them altogether. After speaking sternly to Hermione for a solid half hour, achieving little by way of a reaction, she had revoked her badge.

The title had been given to Hannah Abbott, who had moved in apologetically, but only lasted 24 hours under Malfoy's harsh gaze and cold words before moving her possessions back to Hufflepuff.

Hermione, who had moved her things to Gryffindor as per McGonagall's request, needed only to stop by now and then, and act like she had become an insomniac and everyone believed why she was never asleep in the dorms at night. The rest of the time she lived with Draco as always.

She was a little surprised that she had never been found out. She wasn't about to question it, however. As long as they were innocent to what she was doing, she could pretend she was as well.

If there was one thing she didn't mind, it was that no one had any fucking expectations of her anymore.

-

Draco found Hermione lying in his bed one day after classes. He collapsed next to her and her eyes fluttered open sleepily.

"Hey," she murmured, taking his hand.

"How was your day?" the blond asked by way of greeting. It was strictly a formality. He knew how her day had gone.

"Fine. Draco, run away with me," she requested, burying herself in his warmth. He laughed, coldly.

"You aren't serious," he stated and she nodded, biting her lip. "I can't."

There was no explanation. That was all it was. He couldn't.

"Okay." She sat up, removing her hand from his. "I'll go by myself."

"I'd prefer it if you didn't."

"Please," she snorted. "You'll find some other whore to keep your sheets warm."

"I don't want any other whore," he murmured and when she finally looked back at him he was smirking. "I want you because you're my whore." He wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing her earlobe.

"Then come with me," she whispered, eyes sliding shut.

"Hermione, there are some things I need to do around here first," he muttered, kissing her on the lips. "As soon as school is over we can go wherever you want, do whatever you want. Just us."

"Do you promise?" she asked, refusing to let him see her cry. Her dignity around him was the last thing she had.

"Of course. First promise I've ever made." The heat that coursed through her at his words was enough for her to forget to question just what exactly he had to do at Hogwarts.

-

Hermione remembered going back to classes after that day. She even put in some effort to complete the assignments she had missed and was nearly caught up. Draco's promise of moving on to better things felt real enough for her to give a damn once more.

She had a conversation with Harry and Ron, a friendly yet distant one about Quidditch that soon turned to talk of the war. News was circulating around the Order of an attack not far on the horizon. A thought struck her.

"Boys, will the two of you promise me that no matter how this all goes, that you allow me to deal with Malfoy?" She swallowed heavily. "You know... if it comes down to that."

They had promised. Their promises made her feel cold and empty.

-

Later that night Draco walked into the common room with determination and stood before her.

"Hermione, you know what you mean to me." It was a statement, and though Hermione was truthfully uncertain, she found herself nodding. "I need to be honest with you."

He rolled up his left sleeve, revealing the Dark Mark. She felt an urge to vomit but held it back.

Hermione knew right then that what she had been doing was wrong, a mistake. She wanted to run and hide and see if it wasn't too late for Harry and Ron to take her back the way they had once been. The black skull on Draco's forearm disgusted and sickened her.

An ironic little voice told her she didn't care.

"Did they force you?" she asked, meeting his eyes. She took his wrist in her hands, rubbing her fingers over it, ignoring the flicker of pain through his eyes.

"No." He held her gaze. "I asked for it."

"I see." She paused, looking away from him. "It isn't as if my opinion matters." She began to walk towards the stairs.

"It does matter," he said quietly and she turned around. She walked back to him, taking his wrist in her hands once more. She pressed her lips to the mark before entwining her fingers with his. Her other hand she ran through his shaggy blond hair.

"You should know I love you, Draco." She kissed him with passion, fervour, deliberation. Then she pulled back and walked up the stairs.

As he watched her go he wiped the tears from his cheeks. The ones that hadn't fallen from his eyes.

-

Hermione awoke with a start one morning, some days later, a deep frown etched on her features. Draco wasn't there next to her as usual. Something within her bones felt wrong.

She stood and dressed quickly, before exiting the Heads dorms and starting towards the Great Hall.

"Hermione!" she heard her voice and spun around, relieved to see Harry and Ron coming up behind her.

"Hermione, they're here, the Death Eaters," Ron informed her in a low voice. "McGonagall's been trying to keep the students inside the school until the Order can get in their positions."

Hermione merely bit her lip, nodding. She followed the other two into the Hall, feeling a sudden urge to seek out Draco. Was he within this mass of nervous students or was he outside... with them? In her heart she truly believed the latter.

Harry did a quick sweep of the hall, stopping to converse with several people who Hermione knew to be members of the Order. He made his way back to them.

"I can't take this," he murmured. "I've got to be out there with Lupin and them, fighting this. Not trapped in here like some first year."

"Harry, McGonagall knows what she's doing, it's best to stay inside for now," Hermione replied, trying to keep him from doing anything irrational.

"Easy for you to say," he scoffed darkly. "You haven't been to the meetings since before Christmas. You don't even know the plan."

Hermione stepped away from him, hurt.

"Fine. If that's what you think then I'll just catch up later," she said scathingly before walking away from them, ignoring their attempts to call her back.

As she was leaving the hall, determined to find Draco, there was a great roar of sound behind her and she turned back around to see the older students moving towards the entrance of the school, headed into the grounds.

Composing herself, Hermione took a deep breath and swallowed the lump that had jumped into her throat. Drawing her wand, she followed the crowd outside.

At least if she could do her part now, just maybe her conscience would give her a break.

-

Hermione had almost no conception of time once she was outside. She wasn't positive, but imagined it had been a few hours at least.

She'd had more close calls already than she cared to think about. Seen more immobile forms in Hogwarts uniforms than she ever could have thought she'd see.

The only thing that drove her on further was the fact that she had not seen Draco, either fighting or fallen. As far as she was concerned, she would've been able to tell if something had happened to him. And so she was still searching.

As she was stalking a target Death Eater along the edge of the Forbidden Forest, Hermione felt a hand reach over her mouth, muffling her attempts to scream. The person pulled her hard towards them, her back colliding solidly.

She was dragged roughly backwards into the forest, her wand was wrestled brutally from her hand. The person– she could see now it was a Death Eater– forced her to face ahead. She choked back a sob.

"Hold still," the Death Eater whispered in her ear. She froze, hardly believing her own ears. He raised a hand, and through the now thick trees, Hermione saw faintly another Death Eater nod and walk off in the other direction.

Once the coast was clear, the Death Eater released her, returning her wand. He removed his mask and Hermione nearly lost it, overcome with relief at the sight of pale blond hair.

She threw her arms around Draco's neck, inhaling his scent.

"You had me terrified," she admitted into his neck.

"I was being watched," he replied, kissing the top of her head. "I've been looking everywhere for you."

"I've been around," she said wryly, taking his face in her hands. He kissed her, wiping away her tears.

"Yeah," he muttered quietly. "Listen, if you still want to take off, we can. Right as soon as we make it through this."

"You mean that?" she asked, daring herself to believe him.

"I do," he nodded. "Hell, why wait? Let's just go now."

Hermione choked on a laugh, giving his hand a tight squeeze.

"Yes, please," she said, kissing him once more. She pulled away as she heard voices coming through the trees. Meeting his eyes she drew her wand, while he replaced his hood and mask.

"Hermione, there you are." She relaxed as she saw Ron and Harry walk into the clearing. They both paused, eyes narrowing as they saw who her wand was pointed at. Harry and Ron both pointed their wands at Draco, who did the only thing he could think of and drew his wand as well.

"Step away from her," Harry hissed, his wand arm steady. Draco stared him down, standing his ground.

"I'll take care of this, Harry," Hermione murmured, firing him an icy look.

"So take care of it,"he fired back, an edge to his tone.

"I will when you leave," she countered, her eyes focused on Draco.

"Quit being so damn stubborn, Hermione. We aren't leaving you here with a Death Eater," Ron said.

"You two said you'd leave him to me," she said quietly, turning her wand on them. "Now go."

Harry stared at her momentarily, exasperated, before turning his gaze to Draco.

"Malfoy?" he asked, bitterly.

"Good to see you too, Potter," Draco replied, removing his mask. Hermione caught the dangerous flash in Harry's eyes.

"This snake doesn't deserve his own life, Hermione," he said in a low voice. "If you don't do something about that we will."

"Don't you dare, Harry," Hermione replied, stepping between her two friends and Draco.

"Hermione, you're being ridiculous," she heard the blond say behind her.

"Never call her Hermione, scum," Ron fired at him.

"I'll call her whatever the fuck I want to, Weasley."

"All of you lower your wands," Hermione broke in, sensing a physical turn in the argument. No one did as she asked. "Harry and Ron, leave. Draco, step back."

There must have been something in the way Hermione's eyes locked on Draco's, the way she stood nearer to him than to the two Gryffindors.

Whatever it was, Hermione suddenly found herself within the midst of curses flying past and being blocked around her. By the time she regained her composure, attempting to stop the three-way duel, there was nothing she could do to avoid getting hit herself.

Her heart froze as she watched Draco deflect one curse, right as a bright green flash of deadly light sped past her. She didn't see whose wand it came from, but her eyes were full of tears before it hit its target.

"No," she whispered, eyes wide with shock. "Oh God, no." She collapsed next to Draco, brushing his hair out of his face.

"Hermione, what are you doing? Leave him!" she heard Harry shouting.

"You fucking killed him," she murmured, voice quaking with cold rage. "You murderers!"

"Hermione, it's just Malfoy." There was confusion in Ron's voice.

"Just Malfoy?" she asked, her voice sounding empty. Ignoring their cries of indignant outrage, she leaned over to press her lips to Draco's, still warm but hopelessly unresponsive. When she looked back at Ron and Harry her eyes were filled with tears. "I cared more about him than the two of you combined."

"You didn't..." Ron trailed off, stunned and without words.

"Yes, I did," she replied shortly, turning away from them. "Now leave me alone with him."

Shocked, the two boys walked out of the immediate area. Once she was alone with Draco the truth hit her hard and she broke down, resting her face on his chest, the tears falling freely from her eyes.

"Draco, you promised," she choked, biting her lip hard. "You promised." She took his hand in hers, squeezing tightly.

"You said we'd get out of here, and now what?" she demanded of his lifeless form. "You can't expect me to just... go on alone..." she lost her voice, so overcome with grief.

She wrapped his limp arm around her own shoulders, crying into his robes until Harry and Ron returned, attempting to pull her away from Draco's body.

"No!" she shrieked, reaching for the blond. "Draco... let go of me! Draco, you promised!"

"Hermione, there's nothing you can do now..."

-

"God, no! Let go of me! Draco!" she was screaming, reaching out.

"What's going on?" a voice was asking.

"She's suffering delusions again," another responded. "Someone stop her, she's out of control!"

A strong pair of hands held Hermione's arms behind her back. She only attempted to flail harder.

"Draco, help! Let me go... Draco, you promised..." she was sobbing, tears coursing down her cheeks.

"It's the same hallucination as always," the first voice said. "Get her out of here; whose bloody idea was it to take her out of the hospital on a day trip anyway?"

"What triggered it?" a third voice, a male one asked.

"This statue." An answer. "She took one look at it and started screaming."

"Hermione, it's just a statue." The grip on her arms increased. She struggled to reach towards the statue of a man. A man with thick, messy hair and a cold stare. Chiseled features.

"Draco, stop them! Draco, you promised!"

The three people pulled her from the room, away from the marble figure.

She fell to the floor.