So when I wrote part one, I knew I'd never be able to leave it off at just that because while I love a badass Hermione, I knew Hermione is best when she is herself, Gryffindor strong and loyal. Now, I'm glad to say I've finished the second and final part to this wild idea of a story after three days of non-stop writing once I had an idea for the ending.
Disclaimer is on my page.
Let's Play a Game, Shall We?
The sky was bleeding red. The trees had seized being friendly figures and were now looming stalkers of the night, leafless and gnarled. That was the image Daniel Hethcliff had when he was dragged from the fringe of the tree line into the center of the clearing. There was no soft grass, only cold, hard dirt beneath his bare feet.
"You're lying," Hermione warned, her eyes fluttering closed as she turned her head away in disgust. Daniel whimpered pitifully, his hands shaking as they rose to grip her wrist.
Draco's wand was at the wizard's temple before he could utter a gasp.
"Hands off." Draco sneered at him, relishing in Daniel's fear of such a petite girl like Hermione.
The feelings coursing through Draco shocked him. Pride was a delicious shiver under his skin, making his hair stand on end. This girl whom he'd fucked and whispered to in the middle of the night as they lay there naked and tangled, this girl was making the wizarding world bow at her feet.
And, Draco fought the curl of pleasure that snaked down his spine, she looked fucking beautiful doing it. He couldn't wait until this was over and they were alone.
"I-I promise I'm t-telling-g the truth," Daniel stuttered through shaky lips, his eyes glazing over as his eyes filled with tears. One leaked from the corner of his eye, but he didn't wipe it away, his wide eyes focused on Draco.
Draco took in Hermione's soft skin that stretched over her gentle jaw, itching to reach out and run his fingers along the edge before burying them in her golden-brown hair that fell in messy waves down her back.
It scared him to think that he would also bow at her feet, willingly and without fear or hesitation.
The blood in Hermione's veins was burning red hot, like the tip of her wand that had been aimed at the wizard's throat.
"Don't let them see. Do it," Draco whispered against her ear, his chest pressed against her back, his hands tracing the bare patch of her spine above the dress's bodice. It gave her strength even as her hands shook as the first word of the killing curse entered her mind.
Then louder, he said, "He lied to us. To you. He brought it upon himself."
Looking in Daniel's blue eyes, she was reminded of Harry and felt bile rising in her throat. She couldn't do it she realized as she turned from the man.
Draco stepped in front of her, shielding her view of him. Even though, he couldn't block the thud of the body.
"Take him back to the dungeons. Make sure when he wakes up he doesn't get food or water," he commanded and a wizard came from the shadows.
Hermione's shoulders sagged in relief. She felt him cup her shoulder, an anchor her to her sanity. She rearranged her face into a mask of neutrality before turning, his hand sliding from her shoulder to the back of her neck, his fingers twirling a strand of her hair around his fingers.
"They planted a seed in his mind," Hermione concluded the obvious, her eyes remaining focused on Draco instead of looking over his shoulder at the wizard being hauled away. Shame made her cheeks burn. "They tricked us and we played the fool."
The fingers in her hair stilled and he pulled her close, effectively making her mind go blank as his lips pressed against hers, a soft reassurance. Suddenly, his kiss became less tame, his teeth tugging at her lower lip before sucking it into his mouth.
Hermione tried to keep a grasp on her thoughts, but they were as easy to grab as water. Without realizing it, her fingers had buried themselves in his hair, messing up the perfection of it.
There was movement in the corner of her eye and she pulled away, breaking off their kiss before it could build into what Hermione feared most. She loved the feelings she had when she was with Draco, so different from the other whirlwind of emotions she constantly had in this nightmarish place Voldemort had picked.
"What?" Draco practically growled, his hands dropping to his sides listlessly as he focused a glare on the hooded figure.
Bellatrix pulled back her hood and wide eyes took in them both, her face twisting into a smirk. "The Dark Lord has called a meeting. Snape has returned with some interesting news."
Hermione nodded, not trusting her voice, and apparated to the door leading to the dining room, Draco at her side. It was tall and encrusted with a thousand tiny little obsidian jewels. Green specs spread across the surface like freckles, catching the light and glinting. With straight shoulders, Hermione flicked her wand and the door swept open. Even though the door was silent, everyone still turned to see who it was.
"Ahh, Hermione, Draco, so nice of you to join us," Voldemort said from the head of the table, his lips stretched thin in a grin. His eyes roamed her face with appreciation before he nodded to a chair three down from his.
"Wouldn't miss it, my Lord," she replied with a small smile and sat in the chair assigned to her, nodding to people here and there when she made eye contact with them.
Draco slid into his own chair on the other side of the table, one seat away from being directly to the right of Voldemort. While Voldemort talked, his eyes wandered to her, roaming her face and then lower with a predator's gaze.
She tried her best to ignore him, focusing on the moving snakes in the woodwork of the table.
"Snape, would you care to fill us in?" Voldemort turned to Snape on his right, motioning for him to stand.
"One of our prisoners provided false information, not at the fault of the interrogators, of course." His eyes glanced at Draco and then to Hermione. "Fortunately, the Patil twins have gathered some information."
Hermione's gut twisted. This was the first she'd heard specific names of insiders and her fellow Gryffindor comrades were the last people she would've thought to be traitors. Then again, she herself had gone over to the dark side.
"Through the grapevine of the pathetic Dumbledore's Army they heard that a group has set up camp in a hotel in eastern Britain for the night in their continuous flight from our Searchers. Ron Weasley's rumored to be with them," Snape finished with a chuckle and then sat down, indicating that that was all the information he had.
Voldemort laced his fingers together and rested his chin on them, his eyes roaming the table lazily. After a long, tense silence, his eyes rested on Hermione.
"Hermione, darling, I distinctively remember promising you the opportunity for revenge. Would you be a dear and check it out?"
"Of course, my Lord," she smiled at him and slid her chair back, not waiting for him to give her permission to leave. He merely smiled back, ignoring her confident arrogance.
"There's something else," Snape's voice rang out behind her and she slowed, one hand in her pocket, clenching her wand with a shaking hand.
"Go on," Voldemort encouraged and leaned back in his chair, pleased at the wealth of information one of his most trusted followers was bringing him.
Hermione looked at him over her shoulder, but he didn't meet her eyes. Her stomach dropped and she wasn't sure she'd even be able to find it in hell, where she was sure to go after everything she'd done.
"There are rumors that someone in our ranks isn't on our side," Snape said and sat back down, finished. He finally met Hermione's eyes, calm as the rest of the room erupted in conversation and exclamations. Voldemort's ranks were tight, secure based on the tasks his followers had to go through, so the idea of a traitor seemed ludicrous, except it was coming from Snape and must therefore be true.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at Snape, expected him to smirk or call her out as part of whatever fucked up game he was playing, but instead he frowned, a split second flash of fear in his eyes.
"I know what you're doing."
Hermione glanced over her shoulder at Snape and then continued reading the book in front of her, shuffling down lower in the plush chair to show she wasn't bothered by his words. He shut the door behind him and came closer with relaxed, steady steps.
"And what is it, exactly, that I'm doing?" she asked and felt him move to her side, looming over her and casting a shadow, making the hair on her arms rise. It wasn't every day Snape sought her out even though they both had the label 'traitor of a significant hero of the war against Voldemort'.
"Whatever Dumbledore told you to do," he said in a quiet voice and smirked when her head snapped up and the book fell limp in her lap. Her fingers curled around the top edges, white knuckled, until the corners became painful and she loosened her hold.
"How..." she started and then quickly gathered her wits, giving an amused grin and shrugging while she carefully mulled over her next words. "Whatever rumors you've heard about me, I'd take them with a grain of salt. A lot of people are pissed off at me at the moment."
"And what about Potter and Weasley," he asked with a raised eyebrow, matching her play for play, "are they angry at you?"
Hermione nodded and swallowed thickly. She slowly closed her book and then rose, exuding an air of calm even though her insides were shaking hard enough to make her nauseous. Or maybe it was the constant knot of nerves that'd started the day Dumbledore had approached her, before he'd died at the hands of Snape.
Would she meet the same fate? Hermione wondered and put a hand in her pocket, wrapping her fingers around her wand.
"Would they try to kill you if they had the chance?" he asked and she nodded again. "Somehow, I highly doubt that."
She inhaled deep, steeled her nerves as best she could because this was dangerous, thin ice she was treading on and if she didn't, she could very well blow everything.
"We're you implying?" She squared her shoulders while placing her hands on her hips.
Snape shook his head. "I'm merely trying to understand what Dumbledore was thinking."
"Maybe you should've let him live then," she snapped and then slapped a hand over her mouth. What she'd just said, if taken the wrong way, could very well ruin her.
"If there'd been another way, I would've," Snape agreed and sat down in her vacant spot, looking ready to let his head drop into his hands as anguish filled his face, but then it was gone and he was emotionless again. "You must understand you are not the only one fighting this war. We all have something to gain and, I believe, far more to lose."
Hermione moved towards the door, decided it was best to escape now while she had the chance. She was about to push the door open, a muggle habit she just couldn't shake, when she turned to him and whispered, "You don't have to tell me about loss. I've seen it, firsthand."
At her words, Snape looked up and gave a small smile, his eyes distant as he gazed at the far wall. With a shaky breath, the most weakness she'd ever seen from him, he said, "There was a wise man, the wisest of them all, who once said, 'It is our choices, Severus, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,'"
She left him sitting there, lost in thought, his last words ringing in her head. They were identical to the ones Dumbledore had told her right before she agreed to risk everything to help him.
"Are you sure you're going to be alright going alone?" Draco didn't look away as she slipped off her dress. He grabbed her arm as she walked by, pulling her flush against him.
She rolled her eyes. Her fingers traced the buttons along his shirt, popping them open as she went lower and lower until she found the button of his pants. With a flick of her wrist, it was undone and her hand was inside.
"I practically taught them how to be wizards growing up, especially Ron, always coming to me for help with spells," she reasoned.
Draco grabbed her wrist, his peppermint breath picking up. "Never say his name with your hand on my cock. I don't want you to ever think of him when we're fucking."
With a smirk, she pulled her hand out of his pants and his grip with a quick jerk. "Getting a little ahead of yourself, aren't you?"
She turned to head for the dresser, but instead found herself thrown onto the bed. Draco slid between her legs, his fingers pushing aside her panties so he could trace her curls.
"I'd say the same to you," he remarked, two fingers sliding easily in her wetness, holding them there for a moment before pulling back out and then pumping back in at a steady pace.
She whimpered, back arching as his thumb circled her clit. Her strapless bra was pulled down and she felt his teeth on her nipple, tugging gently. It didn't take long for her to reach her orgasm, her fingers wrapped tightly in his hair. He knew how to work her. As she lay there basking in the aftermath, she limply allowed him to slide her panties down her legs.
He was licking his fingers when she pushed him down and crawled over him. Her lips found his as she caressed his cheek, pulling away to smile at him as she pulled his pants and boxers down to his knees.
On her way back up, she trailed her tongue along the underside of his cock, stopping to suck on the top for a moment before moving to his neck. He groaned, cupping her hips and guiding her until his cock completely filled her.
They both sighed as Hermione started to move. She leaned down and kissed him as she slowly circled her hips. His hands cupped her breasts and then slid to her back, tracing her spine and then running over the Dark Mark.
She started to move faster and suddenly found herself on her back, Draco hovering over her as he lifted one of her legs to his shoulder. It caused her back to arch as he hit that spot deep inside her that he always seemed to find. Her head tilted back and she felt his lips on her pulse and the underside of her jaw.
As her orgasm rushed through her body and her cry filled the room, she felt his lips at her ear, moaning her name.
All the muscles in her body relaxed as he lowered her leg and settled next to her. It was hard to keep track of all the different feelings coursing through her as she stared at the ceiling. Forbidden words were on the tip of her tongue and her hands wanted to roam his skin like a lover, but she couldn't do any of that. Attracted to each other because they were the only two their age that saw each other frequently.
She glanced at her wristwatch, one of the more obvious indicators to her mudblood status. A lot of Death Eaters had been surprised when Voldemort had announced her as the newest addition to their cause, but once they had seen her ability as a witch, they'd easily accepted her. Voldemort's wrath may have kept them at bay too.
"I have to get going," she said and slid out of bed while adjusting her bra. She found her panties and then disappeared into the bathroom to clean up. She reappeared in a pair of jeans, a plain short sleeve shirt, and a hoodie.
He didn't move from his spot as she slid on boots, the sheet across his hips and his relaxed pose with his arms behind his head nearly drawing her back into the bed. With a raised eyebrow, he beckoned her over.
She came closer with her arms crossed and he grabbed at her wrist, sitting up as he pulled her down so his lips could meet hers. His tongue pushed its way into her mouth and tangled with hers before retreating to his teeth could have their turn at her lower lip. When she finally pulled away, breathless and face flushed, she couldn't hide the smile. Lately, they'd become gentler with each other and now she felt something jolt in her heart every time she saw him and every time they touched. Now she actually yearned for him, fighting to keep a lucid mind whenever he was around and even when he wasn't.
"Be careful, okay?" His fingers played with one of her curls dangling in front of his face and he gave it a playful little tug before moving to get up.
"Don't worry," she replied although she knew that's all he would do and that alone made her stomach twist in a delightful way.
Before she could do or say something stupid she apparated into the foyer of the hotel. The sudden shift from seeing Draco's face to that of a bunch of strangers ignited a feeling of loneliness in her that was all too irrational for her taste.
She hung out at a cafe across the street, keeping an eye out as people entered and left the hotel. After an hour a familiar red head, hair mostly hidden under a baseball cap, emerged and it sent her heart into a beating mess of sudden nervousness and anger.
He never noticed her following him and she never thought to recognize where they were going until she ended up in front of a familiar cafe. This was where they had first started their journey as they fled from Voldemort.
Ron ordered what looked like a cappuccino and she couldn't help but smile at his efforts to learn the Muggle ways. He sat down with his back to the door and didn't look startled when she slid into the seat across from him.
"'Mione," he whispered in awed greeting, his eyes looking up at her from under his baseball cap. From far away he had looked the same, but up close he looked as weathered as the rest of them. He looked tired with stubble lining his jaw and a new scar above his left eye.
"I missed you," he said, taking a sip of his drink to occupy his hands as he waited for her to reply. His eyes roamed her face and as far down as he could before the table blocked off his view.
She studied his face, feeling odd without Harry being there and the deja vu of the place. So much had happened between when their paths had split and even more since their first time at the cafe and their return to it. There was so much she wanted to say and so much she couldn't.
His index finger tapped against the side of the cup and her muscles relaxed as the facade she'd been holding up for so long fell.
"I can't talk for long," she said and took a napkin, folding it into a tiny triangle. "I'm supposed to be here interrogating you. Voldemort only let me go because he promised me revenge."
"That wasn't easy, leaving you there," Ron said with a frown. "Harry almost had to use the Imperius curse on me."
"I know, but it had to be done. They need someone on the inside and who better than the third wheel of the Golden Trio." She grabbed his cup and took a sip, finding it ironic that an hour ago she was forcing herself to hate him and play the role of the betrayed friend and now she was back to normal.
"There wasn't a day I didn't think about you and I couldn't talk to anyone around it besides Harry, when we were in the same place that is. Everyone hates us for leaving you and what's even worse is now that they know you're a...Death Eater...they've started hating you too and I can't even defend you." He ripped his hat off his head and ran his fingers through his hair roughly, like that would dispel all the stress. His hair was just as red as she remembered it and was sad to see it hidden again when he put his hat back on.
She shrugged, angry that they had to risk so much for the safety of the wizarding world. "That's the price of war."
"A price no one will ever realize we paid. Bloody hell, we're only nineteen."
She could tell this was the first chance he'd had to really vent about everything. Even though the longer they spent at the cafe the more dangerous it became, she decided that it was worth the risk.
"It'll be over soon," she reassured him and tossed the triangle napkin onto the table. "I'm going to create a portkey into the mansion, but it has to be sooner."
Ron nodded, but his lips were twisted in the corner. "I'll see what I can do, but we're not in charge here. We go when they say we go, when everyone is ready."
"Well tell them to get ready faster," she snapped and leaned back in her chair like those couple inches could create a wall between her anger and Ron. She looked at her shaking hands in her lap. "Voldemort is getting closer. It's only a matter of time before he figures out it's me. And once he does, there's no one who'll be able to carry out that part of the plan."
Ron saw the worry on her face, still knew how to read her after their time apart. He put a hand on the table, as if he was going to grab her hand, but then he realized they weren't on the table.
Instead, he said, "It'll be okay. I'll talk to them and see what I can do."
It was easy for him to say it would be okay because he wasn't elbows deep in the enemy's nest. More harsh words were on her tongue, but she held them back. She had never been this mean person, and didn't want to start now even though her facade in Voldemort's mansion said otherwise.
"'Mione," he started, catching her attention with his strained tone. "Did he give you the Dark Mark?"
Her mouth went dry. She'd hoped he wouldn't ask because it would lead her to the place where she kept all her secrets hidden, away from him and Harry so that when things went back to normal they wouldn't hate her so much. She kept Draco in that place too, along with all the horrible things she had to do in interrogations.
She nodded and lightly touched her shoulder before letting her hand drop to the table with a thud. "It's on my back."
"Is it permanent?"
"It's made with magic so it's highly likely."
"Bloody hell. If I could take your place I would, without a doubt." He grabbed her hand, his thumb stroking her knuckles tenderly. It made her feel uncomfortable and she pulled away, trying not to let the hurt look on his face burn itself into her memory.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
How could she tell him that her feelings for him had faded? She wanted blame it on that fact that she'd been forcing herself to hate him for so long that her feelings naturally faded, but in reality ever since things started with Draco she realized that her feelings for Ron had never been that strong.
"It's nothing, it's just...if anyone sees us..."
"Bullshit, Hermione. No one knows where we are and if they saw us the last thing they'd be worried about is us holding hands," he said and stared her in the eye until her resolve crumbled.
"I'm with someone."
Ron exhaled a harsh laugh. "You're risking your life by pretending to be a Death Eater, following Voldemort's every sick wish and command, and trying to watch your back in a mansion full of fucked up murderous wizards, and you've somehow managed to get involved with one of them?"
She opened her mouth to explain but he cut off with a wave of his hand. "Who is it?"
"It doesn't matter. It's not serious."
"Oh, that makes me feel so much better. Is it Fenrir Greyback?" he asked in a metallic tone, his brutal sarcasm like a stab in the gut.
"Bloody hell Ron, of course not. For someone who wants to defend me, you're sure convinced I'm a traitor." She glared at him, clenching her fists to keep herself from going for her wand.
"Well you're playing the part pretty well. It better not be Snape."
She leaned back, angry and disgusted at his accusation. "That's disgusting! Things are easier said than done. If I don't play the part, I'll get killed. It's like walking in a field filled with landmines. One wrong step. Boom."
He ignored her hand motions simulating an explosion and continued on, his mind only focused on one thing, unrelenting.
"Nott, Blaise, Crab, Goyle, who is it?" He leaned closer with each name, eyes fiery, fists clenched on the table like he was ready to start a fist fight, except there was no one else in the cafe.
"Draco, okay? It's Draco. It just happened. And just because you know doesn't mean you get the right to tell me what to do about it or tell anyone else."
"Shit, of all the people Hermione." She hated when he used her whole name, it made her feel like a foreigner, unfamiliar. If it ever came to that, she wasn't sure she'd be able to handle it. They were best friends, would risk their lives for each other. The break wouldn't, couldn't be clean, not with everything that'd happened.
Her body suddenly stiffened, more tense than it'd already been. She could feel the mark on her back crawling, summoning her. The contents in her stomach shifted like ink, making her want to throw up, but she swallowed thickly and pushed it down.
"You know nothing, Ron," she said and pushed her chair back. She pulled out her wand, frowning at the way he flinched like he actually thought she'd somehow changed into a traitor and would attack him. The cafe was empty except for them and the only two people working were in the back so only Ron saw the flash when she said, "Portus."
"Make sure to trash the hotel room before you leave. Inflict some injury on yourself to make it look like we fought. It's the least you can do in this fucked up double spy game we're playing." Stashing away her wand, she allowed herself one last glance at him, the idea of safety a distant memory of them sitting in the Gryffindor common room, her doing homework while him and Harry played wizard's chess. Her hatred for Voldemort grew in her chest. "And watch out for the Patil Twins."
"I'm pleased it's not you, my dear Hermione," Voldemort murmured to her, petting her hair as she lay on the cold, stone floor, body twitching with spasms of pain. "Now move along. I have other interrogations to complete."
She nodded as best she could and pushed herself to her feet unsteadily, supporting herself against the wall and moving slowly past the bars that would normally be closed, encaging a prisoner.
The second she was out of the cell, she apparated back to his room and stumbled forward, collapsing at the foot of his bed, forehead limply falling against the silk sheets. Thankfully, he wasn't there to see her like this. There were no outward marks from the interrogation except for the nail marks on her arms from where she'd clutched herself, trying to make the pain stop. Voldemort liked to be to the point, his favorite interrogation method was the Crucio.
She told herself to get up, to go into the bathroom, heal herself, and then take a long shower to loosen her tight muscles, but all of her energy was gone. For some time she lay there, urging herself to move, but instead she fell unconscious.
Sometime later, she felt someone shaking her.
"Hermione?" the voice said, male and deep and achingly familiar. "Hermione, wake up!"
Her eyes cracked open to see Draco kneeling above her, his arms supporting her against his chest. She could feel his heart beating at a mad pace against her cheek and gave him a weak smile.
"I'm okay, just the interrogation," she explained, but his eyebrows scrunched together and she remembered she'd met with Ron before the interrogation. It seemed so long ago but couldn't have happened more than a few hours ago. She thought about what he could be doing at this moment, sitting down to eat dinner with his family or other fellow comrades, smiling and laughing at the conversation, while she laid here, barely able to walk.
"I found Ron," she said as he lifted her and carried her into the bathroom. She left the rest hanging in the silence between them, knew she didn't need to say anything more. They'd gotten like that, able to read each other's minds when it came to things like this. She'd never thought him to be too intelligent, but in reality they were on the same level, thought the same way.
"You found him alright," he said as gently ran his index around the edge of the now purple bruise just below her eye. His gaze found the drying blood at the hairline at her temple and the smear of red on the corner of her upper lip.
"This is nothing," Hermione shrugged and winced. "He got away before I could kill him."
He nodded and sat her on the edge of the tub and started a hot bath. As the water ran, filling the room with steam and noise, she leaned down and whispered in his ear. His hair tickled her nose as he nodded and got up.
When he came back with a vial and her wand, crouching before her, she took a shaky breath and got started. It took longer than expected and she stashed it in one of the bathroom draws while Draco cast a spell to warm the water.
As she undressed, she heard his sharp intake of breath. She knew what he'd find. A large bruise that covered most of her back, cuts and burns from spells, dried blood. It was enough to make it look believable.
"Shit," he murmured and traced the edge of the bruise tenderly. "I'm guessing you found the bastard."
She closed her eyes to try and slow her heart while she gathered her wits. Then she turned to face him and nodded.
After the portkey was in place, she ended up apparating back into his room. Standing at the window in his bedroom, she prayed they'd be showing up tonight. It'd been a week since she'd talked to Ron, told him the specific date and time. There wasn't much time left, Voldemort was getting closer by the day, giving her longer and longer stares as if he knew, excluding her from more and more things. If the portkey wasn't used tonight, someone would find it and there'd be a witch-hunt. She smiled at the irony. They'd figure out it was her and torture her. But what was worse, they'd move places, thus ending all chances of an ambush and an end to the war.
She felt Draco pause in the doorway, somehow having sensed she was back.
Coming closer, his lips found the shell of her ear and even though it ignited something low in her belly, she couldn't turn because then her lie would become real. Once again she wished he could know, but then everything would fall apart at her betrayal.
Her whole body hummed with tense energy, ready to snap like a thin wire wound around one too many times. She couldn't do this, couldn't betray him and put him in danger, so she made a choice. But first, she needed to know that this was more than just some fuckfest, that when things went to hell he'd stick by her. And if he would, she'd wait for the ambush to start and then explain everything to him and get him to run away with her.
"I've already given up too much," she whispered under her breath, just to make it real and not some silent thought in her head.
Draco heard her and pressed a kiss against one smooth temple and said, "We all have. That's what makes us strong."
She felt her lips start to tremble, built up the fake anger, and pushed him away. "What would you know, Draco? You grew up here in this...this god-awful place where you always have to watch your back and do what he says. You're used to this."
"I never got a choice in the matter. If I did, I sure wouldn't have picked..." he cut himself off, running his hand roughly through his blond strands. His eyes glanced around and he looked at her, silently saying 'don't let them see' because anyone who doubted Voldemort, who wished for anything else, was sure to be the next one gone, and they sure as hell weren't leaving alive.
He caressed her shoulders and squeezed gently, saying, "We don't always get what we want, Hermione. We live with our choices and their outcomes."
"A lot of good they've done me," she muttered. "We're going in circles, wearing thin until everything unravels."
Too late, she realized what he was talking about. He looked at her, confused, and she realized she'd already spoken too much. It was hard to keep things straight, the before and after of her actions, their decision.
"You've got me," he finally said after a moment of tense silence and it sent her heart into another beating frenzy because this was the first time they were labeling the relationship as something more than just sex. "We're in this together."
Before he could say anything else, she grabbed his face and pulled his lips to hers. At first it was a harsh clashing of teeth and tongue and then it settled down into a soft press of lips and shared breath, the barest of touch as though there was a fear of breaking.
'I love you' came bubbling up her throat in a wave of happiness and fear and hope. She swallowed it back down because he was already unbuttoning her shirt. Each time he revealed more skin, he pressed a kiss to it and then another to any faded bruises or healing cuts he found. It felt as though she didn't deserve his gentleness because she had done it to herself, slamming her knuckles into her skin until it had taken on a purple sheen.
He pulled away and traced one bruise and then another before moving down her stomach with his tongue, going to unbutton her pants. "You didn't heal them."
"I didn't think they'd be that bad," she said and pulled out her wand, healing the purple spots easily. Truth is, she wanted there to be some evidence that there'd been a 'struggle'. Going into it, she'd know that no matter what, appearances had to be kept or it could cost her her life as well as those closest to her.
Her pants fell to the floor with a whoosh, following by her underwear. He stripped, kicking his clothes into the corner, and then sat on the edge of the bed, tracing her sides in slow circles, his lips mapping her ribcage as she stood between his legs. With a content sigh, she slid onto his lap, guided him into her and soon they were moving against each other.
He swallowed her moans as he kissed her, whispering words she couldn't hear as they came together. She moved over him, feeling the pleasure rise higher and higher as her fingers brushed his cheeks, the back of his neck, his shoulders, finally clasping with his.
"I love you," she faintly heard over the rush of her orgasm and keen. A tear slipped from the corner of her eye, but he never saw it as he mouthed the spot the curve of where her neck and shoulder meet. As he came to pieces, she clutched him to her, never wanting to let go because this very well might be their last night.
Later, when he had fallen asleep a little after 3AM, she slipped from his bed, dressed, and walked the hallways to the room where her and Draco had first fucked. As she stared out the window, she pictured all the times they'd been together, each more progressively like making love than fucking.
She glanced at the clock. 3:16AM. Goosebumps rose on her skin and she closed her eyes, letting the sudden blare of the warning siren block out all thought.
Draco bolted upright, hand instinctively reaching out for the body that should've been next to him. Instead, he found the remnants of a warm spot.
"Fuck." He quickly dressed, noticing that Hermione's clothes were gone, and pulled out his wand as he raced out the door. People were emerging from doors, fuzzy still from sleep.
A flash of green whizzed overhead and he ducked, raising his wand to block another spell. He scrambled down a side hallway, following the familiar sound of Bellatrix as it echoed off the stone walls.
"Intrusion!" she screeched with a smile, tongue pinched between teeth in enjoyment as she sent the killing curse towards a girl that Draco recognized as a fellow classmate. Gryffindor. "Bye-bye, dear!"
He was about to ask Bellatrix if she'd seen Hermione when he found himself in a duel with another familiar face. Ravenclaw. The kid sent off an immobilization spell that Draco quickly deflected, sending his own spell back that left the kid's body frozen. He fell sideways and Draco stepped over him, searching through the growing mayhem for brunette curls.
The longer it took to find her, the more frustrated and impatient he got. Each wizard that crossed his path barely avoided death. He wasn't sure why he was taking such care with their lives, but he didn't stop to think about it when he finally caught sight of her at the other end of the long hallway. She sensed him and looked him in the eye before slipping into a room unnoticed as mayhem raged on. But he noticed with crystal clarity as his surroundings fell away and he persued her.
He slammed through the door and then the surroundings were spinning and he was facing Hermione in a field colored with the first rays of dawn.
She looked the same, as when he'd last seen her, except for the look on her face like she was about to tell him the world was about to end.
"You told me you have to deal with what you've got," she started, running her palms across the tops of the hip high weeds. "And I've got you, but I'm afraid that what I've done will make you leave."
"What've you done?" he asked with caution, unsure of what would come next, but unable to do anything else because this was Hermione and nothing could be worse than her leaving, not when she'd finally brought some light to his dark cave.
"Harry and Ron never betrayed me," she said. "It was all planned so that I could get into Voldemort's mansion — "
"And stage an ambush. I'm guessing this was all your idea," he mused, not at all surprised. The weeks leading up to today, he'd noticed something off, the subtle warnings in her words, the desperate way she tried to make the most of their moments, both in bed and out of it.
She shook her head. "Dumbledore."
Draco tried to control his breathing. He felt like the biggest bloody fool to ever grace the earth. When she stepped closer, he turned away so she was forced to talk to his back.
"You weren't supposed to be a part of it. Us...it wasn't supposed to happen, but it did," she explained, twisting her hands, trying to get him to face her by moving to his side.
"Why? So you could get your own revenge on me after all those years of me being an arse to you?" He glared at her from the corner of his eye.
"No! Of course not! You've changed and so have I — "
"Thanks for stating the obvious," he snapped.
"If you would just listen — "
"So you can trick me some more and then go back to your little scheme of killing Voldemort?"
"I'm not tricking you — "
He rounded on her, towering over her and making her flinch back when he sneered, "Would you like one last, quick fuck before you go? For old time's sake."
"You came to me," she screamed and those words alone froze him to his spot because for once, he had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. He tried to conjure up some memory, but there was only darkness.
The wind had picked up and she angrily shoved her hair out of her face. She looked like she was about to commit some serious bodily harm to him.
"You came to me, wanting to help, and I refused because I didn't trust you," she continued, chest heaving, "but I had no choice. So together, you and I, we came up with a plan and started to go along with it. You got Bellatrix to target me that night, got Voldemort to want me in his ranks. Everything was fine and then word got out that there was a traitor, Snape had to say something before someone else did. It was the only way he could warn me. And then Voldemort started questioning people."
Draco watched with wide eyes as she pulled out a vial, silvery wisps swirling inside. He didn't have to ask to know what they were and his stomach dropped.
"I had to take out my own memories to keep us safe and after it all, I couldn't risk them getting to you, so together, we took yours out too. They're all here," she said as she held out her hand between them, harmless and emotionally tired. He snatched them from her grip like she might curl her fingers back around the vial at any moment and retract her offer.
"You have no idea how hard it was, to keep your own plan from you, but you'd insisted. It wasn't safe. Everything we'd worked for, it would've been for nothing and we both would've most likely died." She turned away, hugging herself, fighting back tears. He didn't come up to her and wrap his arms around her, warm her from the outside in like she'd hoped. What she'd done, it was beyond forgiving, and countless nights she'd lied awake, staring at his sleeping face, hating herself for betraying him in this way.
When he'd come back from his interrogation, looking shaken, but far less so than when she'd come from hers, she'd known she'd done the right thing.
"You could've give me back the memories," he said from right behind her, "after I was done being interrogated."
Hermione shook her head. From the beginning she'd been digging a deeper and deeper hole for herself.
In a small voice, she said, "I was afraid. I didn't want you in the plan anymore because I was afraid it'd backfire and I couldn't lose you. At that point I loved you and if at least one of us was going to get out of this alive, I wanted it to be you. Voldemort was getting more suspicious and I wasn't sure if the ambush would be able to take place sooner."
She shrugged, but it was weak and her shoulders sagged in shame. "I thought if I could keep your memories from you, I could keep you from being involved, from getting hurt, but deep down I knew I couldn't. It was stupid because I hurt you anyways and I realized it's not worth it. I've given up so much for this war, but I can't give up you. I'm not going to."
Draco didn't know what to say. He stared at the vial in his hand then at the girl before him, trying to piece everything together, but there was so much and nothing was ever just white and black. There were grey areas and he knew what it really came down to was whether he truly trusted her or not.
She looked worn out, but slightly rejuvenated at finally being able to tell the truth.
"We could disappear," she stated at last, breaking the silence one last time with a wobbly voice that also held a tinge of hope. "It was easy enough to come here. No one will know where we went. They'll think we got killed or captured or something in all the chaos. All that matters now is that my choice is you, what's yours?"
He stared at her, at the way she trembled in his silence. She was giving him all the power to decide on whether to break her or not, and as she fought to keep the tears back, he knew he could never do that to her because he loved her too.
"You," he said, barely able to lift his arms before she was in them. "But we can't leave. Voldemort will never let us go that easily. We need to make sure this ends. We've put too much into this to just walk away."
She nodded against his chest and pulled away, no hesitation in taking his outstretched hand.
Hermione wiped at the blood slipping into her eye and blocked another spell. Some of the Death Eaters had figured out her and Draco's allegiance had switched and hadn't hesitated in attacking them with everything they had.
A spell lifted her off her feet, driving her into the wall with the force of a tractor-trailer. Draco immediately disarmed the witch, knocking her unconscious.
Hermione fell to the ground with a groan, the impact sending needles of pain up her legs. She didn't have much time to react before another wizard was on her. After disarming him, she realized it was Neville Longbottom.
"Neville, wait," she shouted over the noise of chaos, chasing him down the hallway. She rounded the corner, ducking away from a spell and pressing back against the wall. Looking up, she met Ron's gaze with a mixture of relief and worry.
"Hermione," he started, but was cut off by the sound of a loud explosion followed by raining debris further down the hallway. She took a deep breath and ran to where he was crouched down, bright flashes of light flying overhead. Together they battled back three Death Eaters. One she sent crashing through a window, the other through a doorway. There was a flash of green in the corner of her eye and she screamed, thinking Ron had been killed.
But Ron was still standing and the other wizard was slumped against the wall, dead.
"You..." she couldn't say it because then she'd had to admit that Ron had just used the killing curse. She wanted to blame it on the war, but Ron had made the decision on his own. War hadn't made her take any lives, she'd knocked them all unconscious. That was one part of her she was going to keep untainted.
Ron merely shrugged. "You do what you've got to do."
"You didn't have to kill him."
"Yeah, I did. He wouldn't have hesitated to do the same to us."
Hermione wanted to punch him.
"Hermione!" Ron pushed her out of the way and she stumbled and tripped over a pile of rubble from the ceiling. The side of her head hit something sharp and her vision went black even though she could still hear and feel everything, if not a little bit fuzzily. It felt like she was underwater, her limbs heavy as she tried to lift herself into a seated position, but her arms wouldn't listen and she laid there as her senses came and went, the ground shaking below her every now and then with an explosion.
"Are you fucking mad?" someone screamed and bent down to lift her up, pulling her to a warm and familiar chest. The voice was deep, beyond angry, and she recognized it, but it took a few moments to lay her finger on it, her head pounding. She cracked her eyes open, wincing with each step he took.
"Draco," she whispered against his neck, tasting his sweat slightly with each word, "I'm fine. I just need a moment and a healing spell."
They entered a room and Ron closed the door behind them, but not before Neville slid in, wand raised in offense. He looked around, confused as to why Ron wasn't attacking them but rather standing guard by the door for intruders.
"My wand," Hermione said, letting her eyes close again as she was set gently on the ground. They were in a bedroom, but she had no idea whose. She'd only ever been in her own and Draco's during her stay here.
"What're you doing?" Neville asked in a startled tone, as someone, assumedly Ron, nudged her hand with her wand. She took it and put the tip to her temple, trying to think of the words but they slipped away like liquid each time she tried to grasp them. The pounding in her head grew with each effort.
Finally, for a split second, she thought of the spell and flicked her wand as the words formed in the back of her throat. Slowly, the pain subsided and she started to sit up, pushing onto her elbows and then to her feet. The headache shrank until it was a small throb near her temple where her skull had connected with the stone.
"You good?" Ron asked, look away when Draco cupped her cheek, his thumb sweeping up to her temple to trace the outer edge of the cut.
She grabbed his hand and held it to her face for a moment before turning to the door. "We need to find Harry."
Neville stood with his back to the door, arms crossed, looking from Ron to Hermione to Draco and then back to Ron.
"What's going on here?" he said as he pointed to Hermione and Draco. "As far as I knew, they were on Voldemort's side."
"It was a cover," Draco explained and then stepped forward, his patience wearing thin. "We'll explain later." They were all quiet for a moment, all thinking the same thing: assuming they all made it out alive.
"You guys go out first and we'll pretend like we're chasing you," Hermione said. Ron's fingers clenched around his wand, Neville took a deep breath, and then they were out the door.
Hermione felt Draco behind her, his heat giving her courage.
"I love you," she whispered as she turned and pressed her lips quickly to his. She felt him murmur it back against her mouth and deep the kiss for a split second before pulling away, letting his hands fall from the back of her neck, untwisting his fingers from her hair.
He smiled at her and together they came out of the room, taking off after Ron and Neville. They fired spells but didn't aim anywhere close to them. Ron sent off a few over his shoulder while Neville took the lead, fighting off any Death Eaters that came their way.
Draco took out a Death Eater that came from a side hallway with his wand aimed at Ron. Neville passed another side hallway and stopped in his tracks, Ron nearly colliding with him.
It took all of two seconds for Hermione to make up her mind. She slowed and shot a spell at Ron, knocking him off his feet. Draco did the same without hesitation to Neville, sending him onto his back with a hard thud.
"What in bloody hell are you —" Neville cut himself off when he saw the look on Hermione's face. While her lips were tight, lifted at one end in a triumphant smile, her eyes told him to be silent and trust her.
As she bent down to take his wand, she whispered so low he barely heard her, "Put your wand in your pocket."
When she stood, she was holding a replica. He slid his wand into his pocket as she hauled him to his feet and cast a binding spell on his wrists before pushing him down the hallway towards a cornered and bloody Harry.
As they got closer, Hermione and Draco made a show of breaking Neville and Ron's wands, the snapping sound making Harry look up. He was bleeding from a gash on his forehead and a broken nose, but otherwise looked fine. When he saw them, his eyes widened, face pale, but then he looked Ron in the eye and his lips twitched slightly.
"You..." he started and choked off in a mixture of hatred and disbelief, unable to find any words, so he settled for glaring at Hermione.
Draco dragged Ron behind him and said to the Death Eaters trapping Harry, "Stop playing games. Just bind him already so we can get them to Voldemort."
Harry was quickly bound, hands behind his back, his wand pocketed by a Death Eater. As they walked, heading for the foyer where Hermione assumed Voldemort was trapping people in who tried to flee, the apparating barrier most likely in place by now, keeping people from coming and leaving.
The closer they got, the more Death Eaters who joined in their group, Ron, Neville, and Harry in the middle. Hermione gave Draco a worried look. It was going to be a tough battle, especially when they came to the staircase overlooking the foyer and saw a lot of the stronger Death Eaters, including Bellatrix and Fenrir among others, standing there with Voldemort overlooking the prisoners they already had.
When Voldemort spotted them coming down the long, curving stairs, he smiled and came forward, meeting them at the bottom of the stairs and then turning to lead them back to his makeshift alter, standing at the top of the three steps leading to the large, looming front doors. They were open, letting in the dawn air, the world outside hovering in that period of blue before the sun came over the horizon.
Hermione fought shivers as she stepped back, letting Harry, Ron, and Neville stand before Voldemort. From the corner of her eye she watched Draco slide behind the Death Eater with Harry's wand and then switched her attention to the prisoners behind them. Some of the faces were familiar, but she couldn't draw up names or which house they were in.
Everyone was facing Voldemort, his attention focused on Harry as he talked, so no one saw the movement on the second floor, the line of wizards and witches, most of whom she recognized, crouched down behind the banister. She spotted Ginny Weasley at the far left, close to the stairs, but wasn't sure if Ginny saw her.
Voldemort never saw them coming. He did see Hermione lift her wand and silently take out the man with Harry's wand. His narrowed, like he'd been expecting it all along and finally had physical proof, but it was too late.
Chaos broke out after that. People apparated down from the banister and started to take out Death Eaters and free prisoners.
"Harry," Draco shouted over all the noise and tossed Harry's wand to him the same moment Hermione cast an unbinding spell on him. She did the same to Ron and Neville and they got back their wands, running off into the fray. Ron immediately went for Fenrir and they engaged in battle.
Harry looked around, searching for Voldemort who'd disappeared, and Hermione came to his side. They stood, back to back, and fought off Death Eaters while trying to find Voldemort.
He came out of nowhere, silent as a shadow, wand raised. Hermione barely deflected the Avada Kadavra spell aimed at Harry's back and then the one aimed at her, both cast within half a second of each other. It bought enough time for Harry to spin around and lift his wand.
There was an explosion as both Harry and Voldemort's spells collided. It hit Hermione right in the chest, sending her flying, her back hitting the ground hard. She slid a few feet and lay there, trying to gather her bearings and her breath. Movement out of the corner of her eye made her roll away and she narrowly avoided being hit with another killing spell.
Getting to her feet, she swung her wand this way and that, sending each of Bellatrix's spells into the ground, the wall or the ceiling. They left large craters the size of her body, huge chunks of stone crashing to the ground and nearly taking out people. And then Bellatrix took to alternating between spells and daggers, trying to trip Hermione up. She felt one knick her ribs, didn't doubt for a moment that Bellatrix didn't have good aim.
And then she saw Harry fall behind Bellatrix. He tried to raise his wand in time but Voldemort was over him between one blink and the next.
Hermione screamed and turned her wand from Bellatrix. She hit Voldemort in the arm with a spell, one she'd learned her very first year at Hogwarts all those years ago. It didn't knock the wand from his hand like it should've, he was holding on too tight, but it threw him off long enough for Harry to regain himself and get up.
Something pierced Hermione's ribs, right between the two. She looked down at the dagger's hilt, reminded of how Dobby died, and in the back of her mind hoped she'd be buried somewhere nice, maybe on the beach like how Dobby had been. Tears came to her eyes. It'd been so long since she'd cried, it never fixed anything, but now she wasn't crying for herself, she was crying for all those her death would hurt.
Dumbledore had told her the price she'd have to pay would be high and it would be up to her to make that choice. And she had, when she turned from Bellatrix, knowing perfectly well the outcome. She smiled because she'd been strong enough to make the sacrifice.
Pain bloomed in her ribs and chest, but she didn't fall. She wasn't done, she knew, as she lifted her eyes and focused on Bellatrix. Bellatrix was smirking, a look of accomplishment in her eyes, but it disappeared when Hermione lifted her hand, the tip of her wand pointed right at Bellatrix's heart.
She whipped off spell after spell, picking up speed, coming closer as Bellatrix stumbled back, panic on her face. Victory was no longer in her grasp, she was realizing as she blocked Hermione's spells, each one coming closer to hitting its mark.
"You will not win," Hermione whispered to Bellatrix, knowing she couldn't hear her, but could understand the determination on her face, blazing in her eyes, the clench of her teeth. "You will never win. I won't stop until you've lost."
Bellatrix flinched when she failed to block a spell and it came an inch from her face. She looked up at Hermione and saw her demise, had let her into her life, had forced her into the scheme of things, and sorely regretted it. For the first time in a long time, she was truly afraid.
She didn't have any more time to think back on her regrets because she tripped over a body and her arms wheeled around as she tried to catch her balance. In that moment of defenselessness, Hermione cast one last killing curse that hit Bellatrix right in the ribs, in the same spot the dagger was in Hermione's.
Hermione watched Bellatrix's form crumple like it was made of sand and then fell to the ground herself. All the pain she'd been pushing off crashed into her and she stared at the ceiling, gasping for breath, unable to get it into her lungs because each inhale hurt like a thousand lightning bolts.
Her senses started to dull, not in the way when she'd hit her head, but where they started to shrink in until she was only aware of her immediate surroundings. She started to lose feeling in her chest and it spread out. Exhaustion settled behind her eyes and she fought it, looking to the side, needing to see this to the end.
She watched Harry battle Voldemort for what seemed an eternity, but was really only half a minute at most. It was almost over, Harry's spell overcoming Voldemort's in a bright flash that filled the room and send Voldemort's wand flying and finally finishing him off. With one last scream, he clawed at his body as it dissolved into ash and floated away into the oncoming dawn light.
When it was over, there was only silence, but she wasn't sure if that was just her or the whole room. With a smile, she let her eyes close.
The bright light nearly blinded her when she woke, but she didn't mind because she was happy to be awake in general and not dead. She shivered at the thought and felt the dull throb of pain in her ribs.
It was early morning. She could tell by the way the light slowly moved up the walls in a wash of gold. There was no way to tell what day it was, how long she'd been asleep, but she felt well rested now. Pushing up onto her elbows and then into a sitting position took a while and a whole lot of mental swearing and wincing.
She didn't stop and moved so her feet were on the ground, the cold feeling good as the rest of her body sweat with her efforts. A strong heartbeat thumped through her body as she stood, fighting the dizziness of going from laying for so long to standing in such a short period of time.
The door opened into an empty hallway. Being early morning, they probably hadn't made their rounds yet, so she went out in search of someone, using the wall to steady herself as she walked slowly, trying to save her energy.
A nurse came around the corner, spotted her, and came running up. She tried to take Hermione's elbow, encouraging her to come back with her to her room, but Hermione wouldn't have any of it.
"Dr —o," Hermione stopped, cleared her throat of the cobwebs a couple times, and then tried again. "Draco Malfoy. Where is he?"
"You really should get back to your room. You're still injured," the nurse said and tried to turn her around, but Hermione yanked her arm out of the nurse's grip and continued walking.
"I know I'm still injured, but that's not important right now," Hermione said and felt the nurse at her side, reaching out for her arm once more.
Hermione jerked away, the effort knocking the breath out of her as pain racked her frame. Gasping, she glared at the nurse.
"Look, if I can spend over a year in Voldemort's presence and then go to war against him, I think I can handle walking down the hallway to find the only person who kept me sane throughout the whole ordeal. So move out of my bloody way," Hermione demanded, each word louder than the last. She knew she was being horrible, but all she wanted right now was to find Draco. She'd lost sight of him after they'd freed Ron and needed to know he was alright.
The nurse looked at the ground, shrinking away, and pointed back towards Hermione's room. "He's actually in the room right next to yours."
That alone made Hermione's heart jump. He was alive. Tears filled in her eyes, relief numbing the pain. She whispered a thank you to the nurse and set back the way she'd come, stopping in front of the door marked with his name on it. Pushing it open, she saw him sleeping comfortably in a hospital bed. His left arm and shoulder were bandaged, but other than that he looked fine.
The noise of the door opening woke him and he cracked his eyes open only to shoot straight to his feet at the sight of her.
"Hermione..." he whispered as he came closer, "I'm not dreaming again, am I?"
Her throat felt like it had a rock in it so she settled for shaking her head. The next thing she knew, she was in his embrace, his good around wrapped tightly around her. She buried her face in his neck and willed away the tears. There was no need to cry now, now when he was here, warm, real, and alive.
She wrapped her arms around his waist, promising herself she'd never let go.
"We're free," she murmured against his skin, feeling him hold her tighter, knowing he'd never let her go either.
They were free, free from this game they'd been playing for so long, all lies, being three steps ahead, the fear of constantly looking over one's shoulder and choosing one's words carefully. They were free to go out into the world, the two of them, and be themselves, be truly happy.
Well that was a rollercoaster of a ride, wasn't it? But I finished it and am glad to finally get it to everyone who comes across it.
I hope you all liked the finale to this story. I didn't proofread it so I apologize for all the mistakes. 25 pages of proofreading doesn't sound appealing right now after hours (days) of writing.
Another thing, just so everyone knows, Before He Cheats is not also getting a part two. That story is one chapter only.
Okay, bye everyone! Check out my other stories if you haven't already.