Loose Lips and Fingertips

He falls asleep with his back facing her.

It's no longer an observation; less of a characterization and more of a fact, stemming from days and weeks and months of data that leads to one and only one truth. He falls asleep with his back facing her; his body taught from exertion, his breathing labored from activity, his mood plummeting with self-defeat.

He never kicks her out afterwards; he always lets her stay the night. Mainly for the reason being that somehow, although all arrows are pointing to it, what they're doing is not just sex. He doesn't know what it is, but he's afraid to admit that it's something more.

But with a girl like Hermione Granger, a little less is always a lot more.

She's his weakness personified, lying still in the sheets next to him four nights out of the week. He tries not to notice the tangible magnetic field of electricity and chemistry and molecules and particles stirring between them. He ignores the urge to turn to her and touch his skin to hers. There are still things about him that need to remain unseen, whether it's just sex or more.

The blasphemous blemish on his forearm is just the start, only the physical. There's more filth on his sleeve than the ghost of dark times. It's heavier than that.

He catches her looking at it sometimes when he slips up, doesn't pay attention to his sleeve lengths or arm positions. He's getting sloppy, getting comfortable. She never hints at showing distaste for it, it's more of curiosity. Even something as innocent as that makes him feel like the scared sixteen-year-old boy he had once been. The one with two paths to choose between, both of them leading to a place of which he never wanted to return.

It's the birth of a new path that changes him.

He falls asleep facing her one night, his right hand protectively cupping the mark on his left arm. He lets her legs tangle with his, their limbs like roots of two drastically different trees: entwining together so intricately he can't tell where she begins and he ends.

He wakes up before the sun rises.

Her eyes stare into his, her hand reaches out hesitantly and she slowly smooths the curve his mouth with her fingertips. His breath catches when she pushes his right hand away from his arm.

Tremors shake his body when her eyelids flutter shut, when her lips ghost across the surface of his tainted skin. When her eyes meet his for the second time, he realizes that she's less of a weakness and more of the balancing weight for his uneven scale.

Draco Malfoy falls asleep facing her.