Title: Seven times.
Rating: Mature all the way.
Warnings; Character death, mentions of rape, torture, and the repercussions of war. This is fairly dark and angsty - you've been warned.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just using them for my own perverted sense of fun.
Feed back: Sure.
Summary: Seven times can mean a lifetime of change.
Authors note; I wrote this for my best mate, Natalie, after she participated in an authors auction, that was raising money for Pooh, and her treatment for Cancer. Natalie and I have been friends through several fandoms, and our lives spilled over from the realm of fantasy and became reality when we exchanged phone numbers just over six years ago.
Nat - seven chapters, for almost seven wonderful years of friendship. You are my strength, my muse, and the voice of reassurance when life becomes too heavy to walk alone. For that alone, a story cannot repay you for all that you do for me, but you know that I love you, and I always will. My southern belle - a lady for all time. I hope that this was worth the wait. xx
The first time Draco Malfoy willingly touched Hermione Granger occurred after his twisted Aunt had tortured her. He had stood silently as Harry and Ron were dragged from the room, with Ron's pleas for them to take him instead ringing in his ears. Dear Aunt Bellatrix lifted her wand, her favourite curse screamed out with the full loathing she felt for all Muggles and Muggle-born alike. The curse echoed off the ceiling, causing the crystal chandelier to sway dangerously.
Hermione fell to her knees, and then her side as she curled into herself. Her screams were filled with agony and terror alike, the sound scraping down his spine like fingernails. Her hair, those matted, dirty curls, were strewn across her face as she moaned, her voice stolen by pain until all that remained were whimpers. And when his Aunt skipped across the room and released her from the curse, Bellatrix kicked her violently in the stomach, the blow flipping the helpless girl onto her back.
Seven times his Aunt screamed out the curse. Seven times Hermione's screams bounced off the ceiling. And seven times Draco's stomach heaved violently. This wasn't some unknown Muggle. This was a girl, he had known for seven years. And with each curse that rang out, with each scream that echoed, the coil within Draco's body wound tighter. Amidst the terror and pain, all he could think in the end was, wasn't seven meant to be a lucky number?
As Hermione laid there gasping, while his Aunt laughed maniacally, a single drop of blood slid from between Hermione's white lips, and rolled down her face. Down her face, down her throat, where it soaked into her hair. Draco's gaze was riveted to that single scarlet drop. Scarlet red, just like his. Not muddy brown, not dirty like the filth she was. But a brilliant scarlet red. And as it soaked into her hair, something inside Draco Malfoy snapped.
He was barely aware of lifting his wand. Barely aware of pointing it at his Aunt. Barely aware of his Father's alarmed shout. But the killing curse that rang out so coldly echoed as her laughter had, the sickly green light filling the room and causing him to wince at the brightness of it. And when he opened his eyes again, his Aunt was laying on the floor, her face frozen in death, and those crazy eyes tainted green.
Within his mind, he was crying out in shock and horror. Alarmed at what he had done, alarmed at what would happen next. And as his wand arm remained steady, he moved the tip from where his Aunt had once stood, and pointed it at his Father as Lucius took a step towards him. Lucius froze, his hands rising slowly as he stared at Draco, his voice calm when he spoke.
"Draco. What are you doing?" he asked, and Draco's voice cracked as a sob caused his voice to hitch.
"What are you doing, Father?"
Lucius gestured towards Bellatrix's body as Draco took a step to the left, and tilted his head slightly.
"Our Lord will not be pleased with you, Draco," he said slowly, and Draco gave a hysterical bark of laughter.
"Really? I don't think he's been pleased with us since you so royally stuffed up the last mission he gave you. You know the one I mean, Father? The one you stuffed up, giving him a reason to punish you by using me! The one where he chose me to murder a bumbling, old man, knowing that I'd fail. And what did you do? You kissed his scaly arse, and let him do it!"
Lucius took a step towards Draco in alarm, only to freeze when Draco's hand trembled as he took several more steps towards Hermione.
"Her blood is red, Father. Just like mine," he whispered, as shame coloured his cheeks when his voice broke. "You told me her blood was muddy. A filthy, dirty mudblood. Beneath me. But her blood is red, Father. She's beat me in every class. No matter how hard I tried, she topped me every time. So I'm wondering… how does that make her inferior?"
Lucius stared down at Hermione silently. At her pale skin and lips that were tinged blue as she laid so silently. And when he looked back at his son, Draco was dragging his free arm across his eyes. Eighteen years old - a man. And when Draco sniffed, Lucius saw the little boy who had jumped up and down on unsteady feet and clapped wildly as he watched his father fly low to the ground on a broom.
"Draco," he began, only to have Draco straighten up slowly, as his face darkened with rage.
"Her blood, Father, is red. Red, red, red!!" he screamed. And just as suddenly, the rage fled, leaving his voice to break. "Would you let him spill my blood?" Draco whispered as he tugged at his hair, and Lucius jerked back in shock.
"How can you ask that?" he breathed, and Draco giggled.
"How can I not?" he retorted, and glancing down at Hermione, he took a steadying breath. When he looked back up, the little boy had fled, and a man stood in his place as he lifted eyes that had gone flat and cold.
"A Malfoy always wins, Father, you taught me that. No matter the cost… a Malfoy always wins. Petrificus Totalus!"
Lucius had time to grunt once, before his body slammed painfully to the ground because of the spell Draco had called out with desperation ringing in his voice. Laying there, he could only watch as his son sank to his knees, before scrambling across the floor towards Hermione on his hands and knees. Another giggle escaped his lips as he reached out, his hand shaking and showing his fear as he hesitantly touched her face. And when a strangled sob tore free of his throat, Lucius felt the echoing snap of something inside himself that his son had felt only moments ago.
Draco rolled Hermione onto her back, and non too gently slapped her face.
"Wake up, you silly bint. We've got to go… got to go away where we can't be found. Wake up!"
Sitting back, Draco plucked nervously at her sleeve as his eyes darted back and forth. He giggled again, and pushed at the tumble of pale hair that hung in his eyes as his sanity calmly packed its bags and took a holiday. Too much guilt, death, and torture, and the snap in Draco became a crack. And when he leaned back over Hermione, he touched her carefully and whispered her name amidst a litany of pleas to 'please wake up now, the snake is coming, please help me, what do I do? what do I do?'
When Hermione remained silent, Draco slid his arms under her knees and neck. He grunted as he lifted her into his arms and rose to his feet, where he shifted her slightly to gain more leverage. Hermione's head lolled against his shoulder, as her arms hung uselessly down Draco's legs. Looking down at her, Draco swallowed once before turning towards the hallway that led to the dungeons. His footsteps were slow, fear radiating out of every pore. Just before he walked through the doorway, Draco paused, his voice carrying despite how soft and broken it was.
"I'm not what you wanted, a failure, not good enough, fast enough, why are you constantly letting me down, Draco?, I'm sorry, Father..."
And then he was gone. And when Lucius felt the wards of the Manor shimmer violently ten minutes later, Lucius knew the guests of the dungeons were gone, as was his son. Trapped within the full effects of the body-binding curse, Lucius could only lay there as Draco's final words echoed in his mind. It would be the last time he saw his son for two years, and when he did lay eyes on Draco again, his son had become a stranger.
After lifting Hermione's limp form into his arms, Draco stumbled down to the dungeons, where things happened very quickly. After unlocking the cages that contained Harry and Ron, Harry very carefully asked Draco to give Hermione to him. Draco hitched her further into his arms, and loudly sniffed back the snot that threatened to escape his nose.
"Can't. She's not pure… her blood isn't pure but it's red and it's pretty, and the wards on the manner will kill her if she's not with me when we leave. And we've got to leave, Potter, we've got to leave before he finds out what I've done and lets that horrible snake eat me like it did Charity Burbage! So we've got to go, and we've got to run, and we've got to do it now, now before it slithers up from the bowls of hell and tries to eat us, run!"
His voice broke on a scream, and Harry stumbled back a few steps as he nodded rapidly. In the end, Harry ended up supporting Dean Thomas and Ron carried Luna Lovegood. The portraits of Draco's ancestors screamed at them as they hurried down the hall. Screamed that Draco was a blood traitor, blood traitor, betraying his blood lines for the very filth he carried. Harry wondered at that, and as they scurried past the room Hermione had been in, he saw exactly what they meant.
But there was no time to think about it - as a group, they ran across the lawns, and as they passed through the wards, another low scream of pain was wrenched from Hermione. Draco hitched her further up in his arms, his head lowering as they continued to run down the road that led to a safe Apparation point.
"Hurts, burns, I can't help that, water will help, and rest and food, and be a good girl. Shhh, I didn't mean it, I didn't want to die, you die, I die, and I've seen enough, I'm so fucking tired! So please, please, shut up now, Granger, or I'm going to die, and you are too, and I don't want to die, do you?"
Harry would later wonder how Draco managed to Apparate to Grimmauld Place without splinching himself, but manage it, he did. And once inside, once Draco had carefully laid Hermione on the couch, all hell broke loose. Seven years of hatred, seven years of animosity, and Ron Weasley did not hold back as he went after his enemy with his fists. And when Draco woke up after the beating of a life time, he was locked in the cellar, and alone in the dark.
Faced with Hermione's injuries, Luna's injuries and a dozen questions from different Order members, Harry and Ron forgot about Draco Malfoy for four nights and three days. And when they did finally remember, it was because Hermione asked where he was. The pinched look of disapproval she sent both boys had them shuffling their feet, and following her down the stairs as they whispered apologies. Those apologies died when they saw him, and they lowered their eyes against the look they knew would grace Hermione's face.
He was huddled in the corner, wearing nothing but his pants, and with only the drip of water and the voices in his head keeping him company. His face was haggard, bruised, and covered in dried blood. His hair was mattered down with dirt and sweat. Huddled in the corner, he was staring blindly across the room, and scrapping his nails up and down the wall. And as he scratched at the wall, he whispered the compounds of different potions repeatedly, his voice hoarse from screaming and lack of fluid.
When Hermione said his name, he squeezed his eyes shut, and continued to whisper. When she took a step towards him, Harry and Ron's warnings died unuttered at the sharp look she sent them. Another step, followed by more, and still he muttered as she sank down to her knees before him. Reaching out slowly, she touched his arm, and Draco fell silent as she whispered his name again.
She would later think that she should have listened to Harry and Ron, but quicker than she could blink his arm shot and he jerked her off balance. Sweat, fear, and vomit were all she could smell, and then she cried out as Draco jerked her closer again. So close, that their noses bumped, and his breath made her gag as it washed over her face.
"Can you hear it?" he whispered, and then giggled as he tapped his free hand against the wall.
His eyes were bright with fever, his skin burning under her hands where they were braced against his shoulders. A sharp yank of her hair had Hermione crying out, and Draco giggled again as he repeated his question.
"Hear what, Malfoy?" Hermione hissed, and Draco rested his head against the wall and rubbed his cheek across the rough wood.
"The whispering… they're telling me that He… Voldemort, say his name and fear him not, because his strength is in his name, Voldemort is sending word that he wants me on my knees in front of him. That he's going to take him time, as punishment for killing Aunt Bellatrix. He's going to kill me, because I helped you. I didn't want to… I didn't mean to, but your blood is red like mine, and that makes us the same, doesn't it? Why can't they see that? Why didn't I see that? Why can't they see?"
His hand rose, fingers like claws, and he scraped his nails down her cheek. Hard. Hermione cried out in pain as blood welled to the surface of her skin, and then whimpered when he tangled her hair in his hand and yanked her head backwards. A warning snarl echoed from between his bared teeth when Ron stepped forward with Harry, followed by a soft giggle as Draco ran his fingers through Hermione's blood and smeared it across her face.
"See, it's red, you see. Red like mine, just like mine, look at it, red with magic and cells and that wonderful warmth."
She shuddered when she felt the tip of his tongue touch her cheek, and then another giggle sobbed out of him.
"Tastes like mine, so it is like mine, and why can't I stop? Stop, halt, means the same but not the same… Where am I? I'm lost again, and I want to be found and I'm so sick and tired, and… and… Granger."
His bones shifted under her hands as he pulled her closer, and Hermione tilted her head back as his head slumped forward to rest on her shoulder. She felt his arms twitch, and then slide around her, his hand fisting in her hair and the back of her shirt as he began to shake. Biting her lip against the burning pain in her cheek, Hermione slipped her arms around him, and patted his back gently.
Holding him close, she felt his arms tighten around her as he continued to shudder. She heard the sob he bit back, and Harry's soft mutter for Ron to get some food heated up. And when Draco's shaking began to get worse, she called out to Harry. Between the two of them, they managed to get him up the stairs. Managed to get him up anther two flights of them, and into the bathroom.
Once in there, Harry firmly closed the door in Hermione's face, and set about stripping Draco out of his clothes. They would never speak about what happened in the bathroom - when Harry held Draco up under the water, and scrubbed his body clean. Sat him in the base of the tub and scrubbed his hair clean. Helped him use a muggle tooth-brush for the first time, and then simply held him as Draco bawled his eyes out.
Harry smoothed his hair back, and ran his hands over Draco's back and shoulders, as Draco spluttered out apologies between sobs. Seven years of hatred, seven years of animosity, seven years of not understanding, and those years washed down the drain as Harry sat fully clothed in the bath, and held the sobbing boy in his arms. And when Draco fisted his hand in Harry's hair, Harry let him press cracked lips against his own.
It wasn't a sexual gesture, more of an, 'I'm here, I'm alive, and I'm scared shitless, please help me' type gesture. Harry could feel Draco's chin trembling against his own, and he kept his hands gentle as he cupped Draco's face. Draco's sobs were muffled against his mouth, and when Draco's head dropped in sheer exhaustion to Harry's shoulder, Harry tightened his grip.
The soft tap on the bathroom door announced Ron, and between the two of them, they managed to get Draco out the tub, dried, and into warm tracksuit pants and a ratty tee-shirt that was three times too big. Between them, they lugged him up the stairs, and into a spare bed. And when Harry went to stand up, Draco fisted his hand in Harry's shirt and wouldn't let him go.
So Harry sat behind him, and held him as shudders wracked Draco's frame. Held him, and watched as Ron sat down beside them. Hermione bought up simple soup a few moments later, and Harry felt pride and love for his friends, when Ron took the bowl and lifted the first spoonful to Draco's mouth. It took ten silent minutes for Draco to eat the soup, and when he was finished, he simply curled into Harry and closed his eyes, his fingers pleating the material that was stretched across Harry's ribs as his body continued to shake.
When he woke in the dark again, Draco thought for a moment, that he had simply dreamed it. That is, until he felt the warmth of Ron's body stretched out behind him. He knew it was Ron, simply because the body he was curled up against smelled like Harry had smelled in the bathroom. Several arms were locked around him, and a heart beat steadily under his ear. And in the dark, holding on and being held in return, Draco felt safe for the first time in years.