Fade Together-a Dramione fanfic by RunForTheHills

Hermione stumbled out of Slughorn's office, the festive music fading as the door groaned shut behind her. God, was she glad to be out of there!

"Some party", she muttered bitterly. She wondered vaguely what exactly she had been thinking, inviting Cormac. She shuddered at the memory of him leering at her, his rough hands all over her, the smell of Firewhiskey on his breath.

"Am I that desperate?" she sighed to herself. She hoped they wouldn't find his stupefied body for a while.

Feeling drained, she pushed open the nearest bathroom door, wanting to see how much damage McLaggen had inflicted on her new dress. Once inside, she slipped off her shoes and continued over to the mirror, the flagstone soothingly cool on her feet. The reflection that greeted her there was not a happy one.

The Hermione in the mirror was looking distinctly dishevelled, one of the straps on her dress had snapped and was now hanging limply at her side, the hair that had taken her so long to perfect was collapsing. As she turned slowly around, surveying the rest of the damage, a slumped form on the other side of the room caught her eye. It was a boy, she could tell from his build, and he was sitting on the floor with his back braced against the wall. His head was in his hands, white-blond hair covering his face.

"D-Draco?" Hermione stammered, trying to keep her voice even." What are you doing here?" Her words seemed to wake him from his reverie. He looked up at her, wearing a slightly dazed expression. Hermione thought she noticed the remnants of a Howler lying beside him.

"Granger", he croaked. "Leave me alone." His usual sneer was gone, replaced with a hoarse, tired voice. He had lost a lot of weight during the year and his once handsome face had become drawn and gaunt-looking.

"Draco, I-what happened your hand?" Hermione gasped, noticing his bruised and bloody knuckles. Draco winced as he flexed his hand, trying to find the right words.

"I…punched the mirror", he admitted, indicating a circular crack on the mirror nearest to him. "Not one of my best ideas." Drawing his wand, he ran it over his wounds, muttering "Episkey". The bruises faded and his skin returned to normal, as if the injury had never happened.

"But…why would you do that?" Hermione wondered aloud. "The Howler?"

Draco seemed to struggle with himself for a minute before answering.

"Listen Gra… Hermione. You have to go. Its better I'm by myself. I'm…not a good person." He looked pleadingly at her, an almost frightened look in his eyes.

"Please…" His breath was coming in short gasps, like he was running hard. He buried his face in his hands again, his sleeves riding up slightly as he did so.

"Oh my God", breathed Hermione, as she registered the black mark on his left forearm. "The Dark Mark." She unconsciously backed away as the significance hit her. "You're a…Death Eater?" she gasped, her voice high-pitched and disbelieving.

"That's what it looks like, doesn't it?" Draco joked, the bitterness clear in his voice. "I didn't want this to happen, you know. I just…you can't say no to the Dark Lord, Hermione." He looked up, his face tight with worry. "I'm afraid he'll hurt my family if I disobey him."

"Oh Draco, I don't know what to say. I'm sorry. You should tell Dumbledore, Draco, he might be able to help you." Hermione sank down to join him at the wall, leaning against it as he did.

"No-one can help me now, Hermione. I'm finished." Draco replied lifelessly.

Hermione reached out for his hand in the semi-darkness and they sat there in silence, listening to the drip-drip of the tap and the muffled conversations from the nearby party.

There was no need for words.