'Hermione.' He growled, dangerously close to her ear.

She jumped quickly, startled: and turned around to face her stalker. Or rather, the stalkee, since she had followed him here. He had hidden in the shadows as he watched her tentatively climb the stairs to the top of the Astronomy Tower: hidden, as he should always have stayed, he cursed himself for that.

'Draco,' the girl started to say, 'What do you think you're doing?' Her voice was quiet, but still more dangerous than when she was loud, and fiery... This meant she was angrily, he thought.

'My mission,' he spat out, 'my stupid, godforsaken mission that I told you explicitly not to get involved in.' He emphasized his words by taking a step towards her, backing her out to the balcony with each word. He grasped her by the shoulders, intending to shake her senseless, when she pressed her lips against his.

Feverishly, fervently, she kissed him like there was no tomorrow: because for her, there probably wasn't. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and pulled him closer: this was as happy an ending as she was going to get, and she knew it.

Any way this ended was going to leave her heartbroken: Draco could choose Light, and die, or he could choose Dark, and kill.

He felt her tears as they slid onto his cheek, and pulled back, kissing them away. 'Don't cry, Mione, don't do this...' he repeated, crying himself and for all that should have been, had he been somebody else. 'I'm so sorry, Mione, I'm sorry.'

Her eyes, that had previously been brimming with tears that streaked her face, were back to their usual fire, as she slapped him once across the face. 'Draco Lucius Malfoy. Don't. You. Dare.' She shrieked as she pounded him on the chest, her fists fierce little punches winding him greatly.

He was crying freely from his steely eyes as he snatched her wrists from trying to punch him again, and with his other hand, cupped her face up towards his.

'I'm not sorry for us. I'm sorry that I became a Death Eater,' he rolled up the sleeve of his robe, and exposed the writhing black expanse, the tattoo that labelled him as Dark, 'I'm sorry that I am the thing that you fight against, and I'm sorry that I fell in love with you.'

His voice broke as she backed away, eyes widening in anger and pain: 'You're sorry for loving me? For being with me?' She yelped as a sob wracked her body, knees buckling beneath her as she fell to the floor: 'DRACO MALFOY, DEATH EATER, SLYTHERIN, PIGHEADED, PUREBLOODED, ELITIST BULLY, don't you DARE ever tell me you're sorry for being in love,' she yelled, her voice cracking with the agony it took for her to say that, as the anger that coursed through her body boiled her blood: he really had her riled up.

'Silly,' he smile wavering but present on his face, 'I didn't mean it like that... you know I wouldnt,' he kissed her, 'I never could.' He pulled her closer, and wrapped his arms around her: holding her tight against him, breathing her in, letting her wholeness, her innocence, her Light.

His face crumpled as the desolateness that filled his chest, that made him hollow filled his mind: as he dwelled on what he had to do. He pushed her to arms length, butterflies filling his gut as his stomach twisted, 'Hermione you have to-'

His eyes widened in shock as Bellatrix Lestrange floated up the stairs, her robes billowing like tattered sheets caught in a breeze: she was simply spectacular. Darkness practically emanated from every pore, every fibre of her body reeked of stank, stale hatred for the lives of those who she had killed, and who she planned to kill. Malevolent eyes met the terrified crystal grey ones, and a smug smiled spread across her face. She sunk back to the ground as other Death Eaters, silver masks hiding half their faces, flanked her up the stairs: he recognised many as being there at his Initiation. Yaxely, Avery, Crabbe, Goyle, Parkinson... wheres Greyback, he wondered.

Her shrill, colourless voice spread across the gap between them. 'Little Baby Malfoy has a toy!' She giggled insanely, her voice high like a schoolgirl, a grin playing about her full lips that curved upwards in a sneer.

'Draky. Leave the mudblood and lets go.' Pansy Parkinson said, sneering her pinched face towards the girl, who she obviously believed was beneath her. She grasped the pale boys forearm with her clammy, bleeding hand, flinching slightly as he shrugged her off.

He was stood, stock still. The colour had drained from his face, leaving his alabaster skin slightly grey, his eyes looked haunted and misted over, as if far away. He was, he was wondering how it had all came to this. That he had sunk t o this? That he was one of them? No, he told himself. I never could be.

I love. Love is what defeats the Dark Lord: it is what he does not have. In that way, I can leave this, leave him like Sever-

His train of thought ended abruptly as the final mask of the Death Eater beside Bellatrix lifted up his mask. Severus Snape. Oh god, I can't leave... Not ever. His eyes turned cold again, the hope that was previously lit in them extinguished. Hermione watched, her anguish building as she thought she finally lost Draco to the Dark: her face sunk, eyes hollowed inwards as she felt her heart was being frozen, or held in a vice. Her breath caught in her throat: she didn't know if she could ever speak again, the lump in her chest was so big it might burst.

'Crucio,' Bellatrix giggled, and watched, entranced as Hermione writhed on the floor, every inch of her body feeling like it was alight with fiendfyre. Her face contorted as her body was crushed between two invisible anvils, she thought her bones would grind to dust. She heard Draco's voice, like music, she thought blithely, wow, his voice is distant and obscure. Like it was far away.

She felt like she was sinking backwards into oblivion, where nothing could touch her...

'STOP!' Draco screamed at his aunt, his voice choked and hoarse, rattling as it escaped. His eyes were streaming as Bellatrix turned to him, staring contemptuously at the girl sputtering and gasping for air at her feet. She grunted as she was kicked in the ribs slightly, rolled over onto her back by the long, pointed toe of Bella's tattered black boot. 'Draky,' she said, a poor imitation of the simpering Parkinson, 'I think your master would really rather...' she paused selecting the right word, 'be more inclined to favour saving your family if you...' Her voice trailed off as she tittered, insanely laughing as her pouted lips formed the words slowly, torturing Draco with her voice... 'kill the little mudblood.'

He felt suddenly like his mind was catapulted backwards, a life without Hermione? A life knowing he was the end of her?

A life where he wouldn't see her, speak to her... tell her he loved her, ever again? His heart broke clean in two, as he looked into her eyes. She had given up on him: 'Mione.' he choked out, his voice a brash whisper as he sunk to his knees. A wand pressed into the nape of his neck as he felt Bellatrix's stale breath on his neck, breathing into his ear.

'Draco, you are branded with the Dark Mark... does she know? Potters little whore, fraternising with the enemy... we can stop this.' she paused, flicking her wand from Draco's neck to Hermiones upturned, sickly grey face: 'Avada Kedav-'

'NO!' An inhuman shriek erupted, making the walls shudder with the keening cry as Draco threw himself into the path of the curse, his and Hermione's eyes searching eachothers, for some reason to explain why it was ending like this... Her eyes were pulled and the tears spilled over: the pain of the Cruciatus Curse was nothing compared to the agony her heart was in, as their eyes locked... and found meaning for all this pain.

Love.