Author: Meltha

Rating: G

Feedback: Yes, thank you.

Spoilers: Through book six.

Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and . If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary: The summer before year six, Draco is in France, but he's not alone.

Author's Note: A longer version of a fic originally written for the round 4 finale challenge at dramione_ldws.

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by J. K. Rowling, a wonderful author whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.

Tempest Tossed

The sound of the waves rolling softly into the rocky beaches of Brittany was the same as it had been all summer, and, now that Draco thought of it, probably the same as it had been for a thousand years. The eternal meeting of land and water at the seashore never changed, but he would leave this place tomorrow and all it had meant. Eternity might be a changeless series of meetings here, but his life lay elsewhere.

Tonight, though, there was a change in the scenery. As he watched the last of his summer sunsets, clouds rolled in. The stars that usually shone so brightly overhead that they tempted him to try to pluck them like ripe apples were obscured. The fresh breeze had become turbulent, almost violent, and he could tell a fierce thunderstorm was in the offing. Good, he thought. It matched his mood.

"I wasn't sure you'd be here," she said, and he turned, leaning casually against the seawall.

"Malfoys keep their promises," he said. Mentally, he added "when it's convenient and serves our purpose."

"So do Grangers," she said defiantly, her eyes snapping as the first drops of rain fell.

He smirked, but there was less malice and more admiration in the expression than was usual. His family had taken summer holidays in France ever since he was a little boy, but it wasn't until the summer before fourth year that he'd realized Hermione and her parents occupied a small cottage only a little farther up the coast for a week each year as well. After an initial meeting that had left him with his toenails growing in reverse and her with a starfish affixed to her face, they called an uneasy truce for the rest of their time in France. The truce somehow led to brief moments of stolen conversation, ignored when they returned to Hogwarts, but resumed the following year.

This summer, though, Draco had the command of the Dark Lord heavy in his mind. He had hated the thing with the horrid red eyes, and unfortunately he hadn't hidden it very well. That as much as his father's failure at the Ministry probably prompted the death sentence that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named charmingly referred to as his "quest."

Draco didn't want to kill anyone. He didn't even want to be Draco anymore. All he wanted to be was a boy like any other on the beach that day, talking to a pretty girl (though he'd die before he said that to Granger's face) and dreading the end of summer for reasons that had nothing to do with dark plots.

"What is it?" she asked, and he knew he'd been staring vacantly.

"Nothing," he muttered.

"Something," she said firmly. "You've acted strangely all week. What's happened?"

For one crazy moment he wanted to tell her everything, the hideous trap he'd fallen into, the plans to kill Dumbledore or else watch his mother and father die horribly, to ask for her help, but he knew she didn't have any help to give and bringing her into this would endanger her too. He was sick to death of constant pressure and the itch beneath the long sleeves that hid the Mark that made his arm look like it belonged to someone else. He wanted to be himself again. He wanted to want something just because he desired it.

It wasn't a conscious decision he made when he pulled her towards him, holding her at arm's length for a moment and studying her face as though he wanted to memorize every detail of it from the freckles on her nose to the color of her eyes. The rain fell in sudden torrents, the wind lashing the drops against them so that it stung, and he brought his mouth crashing down on hers with the same desperate force. Her response equaled his, and the storm seemed as much within them as around them.

He drew back from her, panting hard, eyes wide and horrified.

"T-this," he stammered, his tongue tripping over the words, "never happened."

He strode away, lightning splitting the sky overhead, yet through the sounds of the storm he heard her voice.

"Yes, it did."

He spun and looked at her, a stone's throw away. Their eyes locked for a minute before she nodded and turned, walking back towards her family's cottage, a dark figure in the growing darkness of the stormy night.

"Yes, it did," he whispered, letting the rain fall on his face, feeling one last second of purity before he returned to the hell that was his life.