AN: Sorry this has taken forever I've been crazy busy. Originally I was going to make this the last chapter but I've decided to split it up, plus now you can read this part. =) So hopefully I'll get to work on the end soon. I'll probably write a nice epilouge involving Harry and Ron, or just leave it off, I'm not quiet sure yet. Either way enjoy. And if you guessed what I was going to do by the chapter name, kudos. Enjoy =)
Hermione's eyes fluttered open and instantly a lazy, happy smile crossed her lips. Her bare body still lay next to Draco's, laying her head against his shoulder. She had never felt more content, more comfortable. She knew they hadn't slept too long, the sun had fallen in the sky, nearly sunset. And what a day they had had. She had confessed her love for him and he had told her everything. It didn't seem real. She propped herself up to look down at his angelic sleeping face, so innocent and peaceful when all the anger and sadness was taken away. A slight blush came to her cheeks when she thought of what they had done a few hours previous. She knew he doubted himself…he thought she would regret that he had taken her virginity, but she couldn't regret it. It had been too right. Now she lightly touched her lips to his chin and he didn't stir. She smiled slightly as she brushed them against his cheeks, his forehead. A noise escaped his throat as his gray eyes opened when her lips grazed his. His arms came up to move around her.
"A bloke could get used to waking up to that…" He said groggily as he looked at her, a small smile on his lips as he did. She reflected his smile and looked into his eyes, "How are you feeling?" He asked softly, a slight look of worry in his eyes.
"I'm fine. Honestly…What we did…it was…" Hermione began to say, looking for the proper words to relate. His gaze moved from hers.
"Perfect…" He whispered as he looked back at her and she blushed, cuddling back into his arms. They remained silent for a few moments before she piped back up.
"This is all a bit ironic isn't it? After our history…" She smiled as he gently rubbed her arm with his fingertips, his face a mask as it always was, "Maybe I was scared to admit I liked you after I got to know you here. I'd always assumed you were the kind of guy who had sex with a girl and left. Part of me believed I'd wake up and you'd be gone away from me again." The words she spoke set his insides on fire. After him thinking he didn't deserve her, that she was crazy to forgive him…it was really her who felt worried about him. His arms around her tightened and he brought his lips to her ear.
"I may've been that guy once…but I'm not anymore. I wouldn't leave you. You're all I care about Hermione." He whispered as he touched his lips to her temple, "I meant it when I said I loved you, I do, with all my cold heart." Hearing those words brought a smile to her lips as she buried her face in his warm chest.
"I know who you are Draco. And as much as you'd like to think you're some heartless monster, you're not."
"I killed a man….you saw me do it. I saw the horror in your eyes don't try and play it off." He hissed in a whisper at her and she went silent. The thoughts of what he had done hadn't escaped him. No matter what bliss he had felt with the girl in his arms, he was still a murderer now and she had seen. He hated when she saw the worst in him. Hermione felt the pain emanating from him and was saddened by it.
"You didn't do it for pleasure. Or just for the mere satisfaction of killing. You did it because he threatened me. He was going to rape me in front of you Draco," Hearing the truth aloud stung both of them, "You saved my life and countless others because of what you did. It may've been wrong yes…but it doesn't make you a monster. The pain you feel and the guilt you harbor is proof of that. You're human. We make mistakes. You're allowed to mess up." He was quiet as she spoke, mulling over the words as they left her lips.
"I was never allowed to be a failure. I wasn't supposed to make mistakes." He said darkly and the tone of his voice made Hermione cuddle closer against him, trying to comfort him. Her hand reached up to stroke his cheek softly and his eyes instinctively closed.
"It's over. The war. The pain. The sadness. All of it. You don't have to be perfect. You can just be a person again. You can just be…Draco." He knew she was right, although he barely knew who that was anymore. He touched his fingertips to her lips.
"I love you…" He whispered softly, saying the words again with ease. They flowed out with truth and emotion he was still cautious about letting free. She smiled as he said it again, memories of previous activities flooding her mind.
"I love you too." She replied and hearing it made him feel better about everything. His troubles slipped back into his mind once again.
"Let me take you out tonight. On a….date." he said the word clumsily and grinned, "How about it? Our first date, we can talk more about everything too if you'd like. I'll meet you at your room in forty five minutes? Will that be enough time for you to do all that girly shit of yours?" She made a face at him and pulled the covers around her as she sat up.
"Despite your last comment that sounds lovely. I've never really been on a real date before…" Her face flushed pink as she crawled from his bed wrapped in a blanket but he grabbed hold of the fabric, a devilish grin spread across his perfect features.
"Going to steal my sheets now are we?" Hermione's blush deepened at the lustful, wicked look in his eyes. She made a face at him and he released the blankets and moved towards the door, "It's not like I haven't seen you naked…" The edge of his voice made her turn and playfully glare at him.
"Your damn lucky I can love an insufferable git like you." She grinned but his smile turned warm as he looked at her.
"I know I am." They met each other's gazes for another moment before she disappeared from his room. Draco laid back and put his hands over his eyes, trying best not to think. Despite the glorious day he was having, it still didn't disguise the fact that he had indeed murdered a man. The vision of Rookwood's body falling into the open grave kept repeating over and over again. The image of Hermione's bare, beautiful body coming together with his in the heat of passion replayed as well. The memory seemed distant, unreal, sending shivers along his skin. He wished now she had stayed and confirmed that it had all been real. But he knew it had. And that thought alone kept him from losing his mind. He had his fire and she had him. A madman's dream come to pass.
Hermione was still red in the face as she entered her room. Yet to her disappointment she found herself cold without him there. She never thought in a million years she would ever miss the feeling of Draco Malfoy's arms but now it was all she desired. Desire. The simple word flashed thoughts into her head and she laughed silently to herself. She let his warm, lovely smelling sheets fall to her feet as she went and got into her shower, wanting to look her best for tonight.
When she got out she wrapped herself in a towel and walked back into her room where a small house elf stood. The little creature seemed to be shaking with force, Hermione frowned slightly, "Are you alright?"
"Master Draco says Mimpsy mustn't bow to nice Hermione Granger. He says I must act more like a free elf miss. He already presented Mimpsy with a glove," Hermione smiled slightly at the thought of Draco freeing all his house elves. Maybe S.P. E. W wasn't completely lost after all, "He asked Mimpsy to bring you this dress miss." Hermione turned and looked on her bed and covered her mouth with a gasp when she saw the dress there. It was silken and red, perfect and most certainly expensive. When Hermione turned back to thank Mimpsy the elf was already gone. She smiled slightly as she slipped on his gift and found it fitting perfectly. She knew he'd come and get her soon and didn't waste time in rushing around her room to get ready, knocking over things in the process. As she put her hair up and heard a knock on the door, it was then her mind perceived what she had just seen. She turned back and looked on the ground where a book from the Malfoy's library had fallen. Dark Enchantments and How to Counterattack Them lay open near her feet. At first she didn't understand why the sight had made her so awed but then the reality of their situation came back to them. "Hermione?" Draco called out and she didn't find words as she bent down to pick up the book and he opened the door, watching her. She had taken the book to try and break the impossible sticking charm placed upon it but it had broken itself. She turned to Draco with a grin on her face.
"You're a genius."
"Well I always thought so…" He smirked back at her before noticing the open book in her arms, "The book…" His voice was soft with the same awe she had.
"Voldemort feared love didn't he? You were right. We're breaking the curse," Hermione was ecstatic as she flung the book on to bed and moved towards Draco, "Let's go see if we can step outside the grounds." His hand shot out and tightly grabbed her arm as she went to move past him into the hall. His face was stoic as she looked at him but his eyes gave him away. Their gray depths were scared. Some sick part of him didn't want them to have to leave. He didn't want it to end.
"Can it wait until afterwards?" His voice had somewhat darkened and Hermione simply nodded, the smile leaving her face at his tone. He averted his eyes from hers shamefully at his own selfishness and slipped his hand into hers, "You look stunning." He said softly as they stepped into the hallway. She was silent, not wanting to further upset him but also worried about his mental state. This house had affected him much worse than it had affected her. He lead her further into the upstairs.
"Aren't we going to the dining room?" The break in her silence made him glance over at her with a small, sad smile.
"I hate it in there. It's where all our Death Eater meetings were held. Voldemort liked torturing people in there too. Not the best place to eat dinner. I did the first couple of times to make it seem more normal to you." He voice was even and still somewhat cold as he led her towards a door that led out to a balcony overlooking the grounds. A slight frown was on her lips as she thought of how their conversation had took a turn. Draco saw the look on her face and opened the balcony doors, causing her jaw to drop in shock. Instruments had been charmed to play softy, rose petals carpeted the stone floor, a small table with candles was set up and they set was just beginning to set in the distance.
"It's perfect…" She said softly as she turned to look in his storm cloud eyes and he half smiled.
"If anything I was taught how to make a good first date. I can treat a lady right." He moved to pull her chair out as she sat down, a soft smile on her lips as she did. He sat across from her and smiled, "It's the Malfoy way."
"Thank you…for everything. This, the dress…it's too much, really it is." Hermione said with a slight blush as he reached across the table and took her hand.
"No, it's not. I had that dress lying around for the right girl. Now just shut up and enjoy my brilliant work would you Granger?" He smirked and she couldn't help but smile back. Even his sarcastic quips had become something she loved. He waved his wand and food appeared before them magically. He raised his glass to hers, "To entrapment." He looked into her eyes and felt the wave of emotion that always came with it as she lifted her glass against his.
"To entrapment with my mortal enemy." She smiled as they both took a sip. Dinner was excellent. After what had been an awkward moment beforehand she had masked if with inquiring to learn more about him. Things like how he taught himself to play Muggle guitar and had been hiding it for years, his love for fizzing whisbees, his favorite Quidditch team, and she even dragged out of him his favorite books. And he was equally as fascinated with her. Soon enough they were laughing and it seemed that all of their problems, past and future, were far away.
"And by that time Goyle had eaten practically his weight in Cockroach Clusters and we swore he wouldn't make it through the rest of the night without throwing up all over the Common Room. Won fifty galleons on that gits strong stomach." Draco said laughing and Hermione joined him, trying to catch her breath, "Just goes to show you no one should ever dare bet against me. I don't lose."
"Better be careful there Malfoy you'll fall off your chair if your head gets any bigger." Hermione said rolling her eyes and laughing. Draco made a face at her and took the wine glass from her hand, standing up.
"You love, have had too much wine. Well you can help hold my head up then," He held his hand out for her, "Dance with me." The magnetic look in his captivating eyes was enough to make her heart melt and she took his hand willingly as he swooped her up into his arms. His hands went to her waist and hers locked around his neck. He smiled a crooked smile down at her and lightly touched his lips to her forehead, "Are you glad that I was your first for everything?" He asked it shyly as he looked into her eyes.
"I wouldn't have it any other way." She replied softly as he pulled her closer in his arms, resting his head against hers and she closed her eyes as he lead her around in a slow and steady dance. They were quiet for awhile, just happy to be in each other's company before Hermione pulled back and saw the sleepy look in his gray eyes, "You should go get some rest. I want to do some research in the library before bed, I may be able to figure out more of what's going on with the curse." He nodded slightly as she spoke and brought her hand to his lips, kissing it.
"I'll wait up. But you go play bookworm. I know you've been going mental without proper literature Granger." He smirked wickedly at her before they both left the balcony. Hermione lightly pecked him on the cheek as her cheeks flushed pink.
"Tonight was perfect…today was…incredible," Her blushed deepened and Draco smiled slightly at the affect he had on her, "I'm trying to say thank you again."
"Would you stop thanking me already? You complain about me having a big head but you're encouraging it," Her smiled faded slightly and he smirked at her, "You're welcome Hermione. You deserve nothing less. And sorry for…being a sodden git before…" He looked to the ground but she moved to lightly touch her lips to his.
"Quit apologizing Malfoy." She said with a small grin before disappearing towards the library, he simply shook his head and smiled as he headed for his room. Lying on the couch in front of the fire and reading seemed like a decent enough idea for him to do while he was waiting for her to decide to come to bed. As Draco went to lay on the couch in his room, Hermione happily made her way to the library. Before walking into the room had simply upset her, the books were unreadable then. Now she made her way to the back and started picking out an armful of books that she hoped would help in her research about why they had been trapped her and why the curse hadn't broken after Voldemort's death. She settled herself down at a table in front of the fire and began to read.
The Malfoy library certainly held numerous dark volumes. Her lids were getting heavy reading about dark curses set by ancient wizards, hexes set up by old magic organizations, different spells created for use of Dark Magic. None of it seemed to add up. Finally, as a yawn escaped her lips, she came upon a word she hoped she'd never have to learn any more about again. Horcrux. Her brows furrowed in interest as she began to read, the information here very old and clearly valuable. Having had it over a year ago could've greatly helped her, Harry, and Ron in their hunt to destroy all of Voldemort's Horcuxs. It was then her eyes widened in realization as an ear piercing scream erupted from upstairs, Draco's bloodcurdling cry. Hermione didn't have time to second guess, she just jumped up and ran.
Draco's gray eyes opened and he found that morning had come. He stretched his arms out and found that Hermione wasn't there with him. Strange…he thought as he got out of bed, an action he realized he wasn't in control of. He frowned mentally, the gesture not crossing his face as he pulled on a black robe and slipped his wand into his pocket as he headed out of his room and downstairs. What was going on? Had the curse manifested in some new way? He didn't know why he had no control of his body which was definitely his own, he could tell by the wand, the hands, the feel of everything. He hoped Hermione was around her somewhere to help him. He tried to call out her name and failed. Something was wrong.
He walked into the parlor and turned down the stairs that led into the basement. No…he hated it there. Darkness and misery was all that lie down there. And yet his feet continued down the stone steps, the air growing cold against his skin. He pulled out his wand and waved it as torches flickered on down the dark hallway. He opened the door at the end and stepped in the dimly lit basement. And internal shudder washed over him as his eyes went to the dungeon cells and over to the protected magical artifacts. A single glint of ruby red eyes flashed in the corner of his vision but he ignored it, his head wouldn't turn back. Where had he seen that before? It was quickly cast aside when the faint sound of crying could be heard from the last cell. It was then his heart broke into a thousand pieces. Now he willed his feet to run to the cell but they simply walked casually towards it. He brought out his wand and turned towards the prisoner inside and mentally his face was horrified, but it remained a calm mask.
Hermione lay curled up in the corner, the red dress he had given her hung in tatters on her dirt-covered body. She looked up when he came towards the bars, her tear stained cheeks and the look of utter pain and hopelessness in her eyes destroyed him. She looked away and tried best to mask her agony, tried to look strong. Draco wanted to storm into the cell and take her into his arms, save her from whatever was happening, but he couldn't make his limbs obey. To his dismay a small, sick smile crossed his lips as he looked at her, a hateful look entering her beautiful eyes, "Enjoying your captivity Mudblood?" He spoke the words, it was his voice and yet they were enough to rip apart his insides.
"You liar…." Her voice was a harsh whisper, her eyes filling with tears as she spoke, malice in her tone, "You protected me…you told me you loved me…you made me love you….you ruined me! You horrible, evil, wicked Death Eater pig!" The last words she screamed in fury at him and a small, amused laugh escaped his lips. 'Hermione! This isn't me! I love you! Don't listen…don't fucking believe what he's saying!' Draco willed in his mind enough to make his whole head ache. Draco's arm lifted and unlocked the cell as he stepped in and put up a shield behind him so she couldn't escape. Internally he tried to reach for her, exerted everything he could but it was useless.
"I never loved you…how could I ever lower myself to love such a filthy, disgusting thing like you? Not even Weasley is dirty enough to stick his dick in you. I only did for a good shag. And to take away what you prize most. And you know you loved every second of it." A wicked smirk crossed his lips as he looked at her. On the inside Draco felt near to breaking point, the girl he loved more than life itself was being fed lies and she was in pain, he couldn't help. She grabbed a small rock and threw it at him, hitting him in the face and Draco felt the smirk disappear, a look of fury replacing it.
"I HATE YOU!" She bellowed at him as he cast a spell to bind her arms and legs, the internal Draco feeling on the verge of tears, "You are a horrible bastard of a human being. I hope they find you and kill you like you deserve." Draco felt an angry growl rise in his throat as he waved his wand and a long scratch mark appeared on her cheek and began to bleed, he did it two more times and Hermione fought back tears.
"Promise to play nice and I'll make this easy on you this time."
"Fuck you!" She yelled as the tears spilled over and began to fall, Draco's would be falling too if he had control, this sight was destroying him. He was going to torture her and he knew she wouldn't give in, she was much too strong. Draco grabbed her tied up hands and snapped one of her fingers, she cried out in pain as he snapped two more.
"Ready to give up Mudblood?"
"Never you bastard!" She cried out and on the inside Draco cried with her, unable to save her. He moved back as flames sprouted on the tip of his wand and he began to burn her, anywhere skin was exposed, her legs, her chest, her arms. She yelled out in agony as he did and a sick, satisfied smile formed on his lips as she fell sideways on the ground, still crying. Draco felt his foot come back and he was screaming inside as he brought it forward hard and kicked it into her ribs, breaking them. He wanted to die, he wanted to be tortured a thousand times over for having his hands do this to his fire, his Hermione. He looked down at her one last time before taking away the Shield Charm and walking out of the cell, locking it. Her cries ceased and she was silent. Inside Draco's heart dropped as his head turned and looked back at the broken, now lifeless figure on the floor, her eyes vacant and open. Inside Draco lost himself, it felt like he had died with her. The smug smile on his lips disgusted him. As he turned to go back upstairs, he caught his reflection in a mirror. His face was of the normal state but it was his eyes that caused him to scream endlessly. They were red with slits for pupils. His screams echoed empty inside of his head.
"Draco! Draco wake up!" Hermione shouted as she shook his shoulders, trying to wake him from his nightmare. She had darted upstairs as fast as she could and found him shaking and screaming on the couch, he had accidentally fallen asleep. Clearly she'd been researching longer than she had thought. His gray eyes shot open and in second he registered that she was there and pulled her on top of him, gripped her tightly in his arms and burying his face in her neck.
"I'm sorry I'm so sorry…." He whispered into her neck as he crushed her body to his, trying to grasp every piece of her he could. Hermione stroked his hair softly and shushed him, laying her head against his shoulder.
"It was only a dream….everything's ok now. It wasn't real."
"Don't leave me…don't ever leave. I can be better. I can try. I'll protect you I promise. Just don't leave me alone." His words were quick and agonized, still somewhat asleep and shaken by is dream but the words were true. The emotion that he was showing was almost too much, even for him, "I'm not evil. I'm not him…" Those words were mostly for his own comfort. Hermione kissed his neck softly as he gripped her tightly, not wanting to let her go.
"I won't leave you, I can't. I need you Draco," He nodded slightly at her words, "It was only a dream…" He held her in his arms for awhile longer in silence, she snuggling against his chest as the memory of his dream faded away, even the look of Voldemort's eyes in his. He whispered vaguely what had happened and she didn't respond in words, only gentle, warm kisses on his skin to calm him down. After some time he took a deep breath and sat up, taking her into his lap before getting up with her in his arms and moving over to the bed where they both collapsed. He took her hand, not wanting to be apart from her in any way after what he had seen, it had been much too vivid.
"We can't keep going on like this anymore Hermione. As much as I like staying away from the world here with you it needs to end. This place is dangerous to both of us," He turned to her with sadness in his eyes as he reached his hand up to cup her cheek. This had been his biggest fear, leaving this place and having everything change, "They'll be looking for you." Those words made her freeze. Her friends…her family…what would she tell them? That she'd fallen in love with Draco Malfoy while being trapped at the Malfoy Manor? She knew he wondered the same thing, and maybe that she would give him up to go back to her old life.
"It couldn't last forever could it?" She reflected his sad smile, "This isn't the end of everything though you know that right? After we leave here we can still be together if you want that…" She asked shyly as he sat up on one elbow and looked down at her unbelievably.
"You know I don't want anything but you….of course I want to be with you Hermione," His seriousness made her smile and he rolled his eyes playfully at this and laid back beside her, "What about Potter and Weasley? You know they won't fancy us together at all."
"They'll come around, I just need to persuade them a bit. It'll be ok," She moved closer to him and cuddled up against him, "As for you though I don't want you staying here alone once we break this curse. You can come and live with me for awhile. I wouldn't be able to stand knowing you were stuck here alone again." He closed his eyes at her words, so beautiful to his sorry ears.
"Really? You'd want me to live with you?" He raised an eyebrow and she smiled at him.
"Well I'm pretty used to it already. Besides I don't think I'll like sleeping alone much, I'm used to you there…" Hermione blushed and Draco brought his arm around her, "As for actually getting us out of here…I think I have the answer to everything. It's the only thing that makes any sense."
"Let me hear what you've got Granger." He smiled slightly as she sat up from his hold to look in his eyes, hers full of excitement at what she had found out.
"Of course you know all about Voldemort and his Horcrux's after Harry killed him. Well it was absolutely insane that he was able to split his soul into seven pieces, but he knew how. So would it be too ridiculous to say that he could have done it again? Those Horcrux's were what kept him from fully dying after he attacked Harry when he was a baby, and now we're positive he's dead because we destroyed all of his Horcrux's but what if there was one left we didn't know about? And if I'm right there's no way Dumbledore could have known about it either….Voldemort knew we were hunting Horcrux's the last year of the war, and so what if he made one last one as a safeguard? And what better place to make one than the Malfoy Manor? It was your headquarters after all and he probably knew that Harry and us weren't mental enough to come here…or at least not mental enough to do it twice. I thought maybe the house was the Horcrux but that can't be it. Every Horcrux Voldemort made had some sort of defensive protection spell on it. I think this curse was part of Voldemort's protection! You were right about love, it can weaken the protection because whatever he turned into a Horcrux is hiding somewhere in this house! I'm sure it's his weakest one and clearly he didn't have time to make a complex enchantment to protect it….but if I'm right and there is an eighth Horcrux, we need to destroy it. If we don't, there may be some slim chance Voldemort could return." By the end of her explanation her eyes were wide and Draco had sat up too, his face slightly awed as he listened to her.
"It makes sense…everything you've said. We need to find what he made his Horcrux and get rid of it. He can't come back Hermione, we can't let that happen." Draco said firmly and she nodded in agreement.
"We won't let it happen. I'm through with wars and pain, I know you are too. We'll take care of this last Horcrux, get out of here, and maybe then we can finally just live." He put his hand on her cheek as she spoke and leaned in to lightly brush his lips against hers.
"We will love….now let's sleep. Tomorrow we'll go hunting." Draco smiled slightly as Hermione once more leaned in to press her lips to his, wanting nothing more to fall asleep in his safe arms and greet the day which was full of new hope.