Title: Dilemma
Genre: Angst, Romance
Characters: Draco Malfoy / Hermione Granger
Rating: M
Word Count: 3034
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter and this story was simply written for fun. I don't make any money with this.

Set during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Summary: As she opened the door, she turned around one last time and smiled softly. 'You don't have to be alone in this.' With these words she closed the door behind her and left him with a third, and better, alternative.

A/N: I'm incredibly sorry for taking so long with my Vampire Diaries story Sinful Seduction. I had a lot of it finished until my computer broke down. At least now I have a laptop (writing at a lot more comfortable places than the desk = wonderful), but university is keeping me incredibly busy. And I needed to get this written, just to be able to forget it. :D I really hope you like it.


Dilemma
December 15th, 2010

Dilemma.

A situation in which you have to choose between two alternatives which will both lead to outcomes that are equally undesirable.

He watched as fluffy snowflakes were slowly making their way down to the usually green lands of Hogwarts. Today they were already covered by the annually recurring white blanket, which grew thicker with every minute that passed. Involuntarily his hand moved to touch the cold glass of the window that separated him from the wintery world outside. His eyes followed single flakes of snow with an almost childish awe. They were free. Free to fall wherever they wanted to. It was as though a part of him yearned to shatter the constraining glass to be able to regain his freedom.

But he knew that he was caught in this situation and he had only two options to be able to stop thinking about it.

Succeed or die.

But none of these alternatives sounded appealing to him. The first was expected from him, by his family, their friends and most of all by the man he feared most – the Dark Lord. They wanted him to succeed and fulfill the tasks that had been imposed upon him. But he also knew that they weren't exactly sure whether he would be able to finish his work. Snape's words of false helpfulness still ringed in his ears, reminding him that he was watched closely. He needed to succeed soon or otherwise his task would be given to somebody else.

And once this would happen, he would die.

In quiet moments like these he often wondered whether he really wanted to succeed and live. When the task of killing Dumbledore had been given to him, all he had seen was the glory it would entail. During the first nights after returning to Hogwarts all his dreams were dedicated to the various plans he was constructing during daytime. And in every dream he succeeded and became one of the most influential Death Eaters.

But even before his attempt with the cursed necklace had gone wrong, doubts had started to invade his dreams. All of sudden single fantasies started to turn into terrible nightmares, in which the Dark Lord punished him for failing. He would torture his parents, kill them and then he would torture Draco. It was a seemingly never-ending torment which could only be interrupted by his worried friends, who would try to wake up the shaking boy. But once he calmed down and closed his eyes again, the Dark Lord continued where he had stopped.

And now he had already messed up his first attempt at killing Hogwarts' headmaster. In retrospect the idea with the necklace hadn't been the best he could have come up with, but it still wasn't the worst either. The doubtful side of him had already expected to fail the first attempt, knowing that he certainly wasn't a trained murderer. But once it had actually backfired, he really realized in what kind of situation he was stuck in.

Kill or be killed.

He repeated those words constantly in his head to remind himself of what he had to do. But the happenings of tonight just mirrored his bad luck. Being caught by Filch while lurking around in empty corridors, which were conspicuously close to the Room of Requirement, and being embarrassed by said person in front of the precious Slug Club wasn't exactly making up for his setbacks. And of course Snape had to choose tonight to make it clear that people were expecting more from the boy. When the other Death Eater had offered him to help, Draco had been unbelievably close to accept those offers. Only his pride had been able to stop him from breaking down and leaving the task to somebody else.

Draco Malfoy was no murderer.

No matter how glorious and important this task had seemed in the beginning, now it became crystal clear why he had been chosen for it. He was not expected to fulfill it. This was the Dark Lord's way of punishing his family for failing him in the past. It didn't actually matter whether he succeeded or not. The last alternative would get him tortured and killed, but the first alternative wouldn't be a lot better. It wouldn't kill him immediately, but it would destroy him slowly. Even though his family had always prepared him by telling him that some lives were less worth than others, he feared that taking another life would be as unforgivable as it was treated by the majority of society.

The hand that had reached out to touch the window slowly curled into a fist as fear and anger washed over the adolescent man. He pounded against the cold glass in a slow and steady rhythm, hoping that some of the overbearing emotions would just fade away. Once he had accepted the inescapability of his pain, more and more nightmarish images filled his head and made it impossible for him to calm down. Instead, his fist started to pound faster and harder against the glass while he waited for it to break beneath his fingers. But it seemed as though he wasn't even able to destroy something unfeeling and unimportant. How was he supposed to destroy a living person?

With this thought he willed his fist to stop, unclenching it to place the palm of his hand against the window. Emotionally exhausted he leaned forward and let his forehead rest against the glass, hoping that its coldness would be able to cool down his thoughts. Surprisingly it worked. As he slowly closed his eyes and sighed quietly, he could feel his heart slowing down, which in return calmed down his entire body.

Suddenly the silence around him was broken by someone opening the door of the classroom, in which Draco had fled half an hour ago. Reality caught up with him as he heard the chattering and the music of Slughorn's Christmas party. But instead of turning around and shouting at the intruder, he simply let his eyes closed and hoped that they would realize that they weren't welcome here.

For a small moment it seemed as though they had actually figured out their fault. He could hear someone closing the door and all of sudden it was quiet again. With a sigh he welcomed the silence and thanked the God he didn't believe in for sending an understanding intruder.

But his relief didn't last long. After a few seconds he could hear the sound of heels clicking against the stony ground as the intruding person came closer to the young man. He could feel his flattened hand starting to curl into a fist again, his knuckles pressing against the glass, as he tried to suppress the urge to scream. Suddenly the clicking faded away and he concluded from this that the person behind him had realized their mistake.

"You should leave." His voice was hoarse, but he couldn't care less. He just hoped that they would follow his demand and never think about this again. But nothing happened. It seemed that the person didn't move at all. All he could hear was the distant sound of someone breathing.

"Leave!" He demanded again and hit the window with his fist to emphasize the single word.

"To me it seems that you should not be alone right now." It was the voice of a woman. Somehow it soothed him for a small moment, but with this unexpected wave of calmness came confusion. Again the sound of heels against stony floor reached his ears and he could hear a chair being pulled across the ground. Who was this girl who dared to watch Draco Malfoy's moment of weakness?

"Don't even bother to get comfortable. I told you to leave and you should really follow this advice. I don't like to repeat myself." He forced the threatening words out of his lips, hoping that they would enable him to get back his privacy. This whole evening was exhausting him more with every minute that went by.

"But before I leave, I want to make sure that you're okay." The girl said.

"Oh, I'm feeling peachy." He retorted sarcastically and turned around to finally face the annoying intruder.

Hermione Granger.

Draco blinked as though he couldn't believe his eyes. A couple of feet away sat the mudblood in a fancy dress and watched him intently. For a second he wondered if she had dressed up to celebrate the rare opportunity to watch her enemy break down, but then he remembered the stupid Christmas party. Of course Potter's intelligent best friend had got her own invite.

"Get up and get out." He demanded and walked closer to the muggle-born. Inwardly he wondered whether she would be intimidated by the cold anger in his voice, but the fact that she didn't even move an inch told him that she wasn't scared at all.

"You look incredibly tired." She stated and he recoiled at the shimmer of honest worry in her brown eyes. Suddenly he stopped walking closer to her and tried to ignore the little voice in the back of his head, which told him that she was right.

"I've been partying too much. Not that it's any of your business." He answered dishonestly and sighed. "Leave."

As she slowly stood up, he thought – or rather hoped – again that she realized her own mistake. But Hermione simply shook her head and started to walk closer to him and studied him even more closely. Now she would be able to recognize his unusually pale skin and the dark circles beneath his eyes and those were a fact he couldn't deny.

"What's wrong, Malfoy?" She asked and came to a halt right in front of him. Her bottom lip was captured between her white teeth and he wondered whether she really cared. The whole situation in this room seemed so surreal. Never would he have imagined Hermione Granger - a mudblood, Harry Potter's best friend, a good person - to be worried for him.

"You're too curious for your own good, mudblood." He whispered angrily and felt surprisingly guilty as he saw her flinch at the offending word.

"Well, I'm not breaking down in a deserted classroom." She retorted stubbornly, but he could see that she was trying to mask that he hurt her with his word.

"And why are you here?" He asked. Too late he realized that he hadn't even negated her allegation and hoped that she wouldn't notice this. He stepped closer to her, hoping to mask his mistake and make her feel uncomfortable.

"I'm just hiding." She replied, but didn't move away at all. For a second he wondered whether being her friend was like this. Arguing with her, but not scaring her away. Not that he'd ever be interested in finding out.

"Hiding from your pathetic love life, I guess." He answered and laughed, hoping that he could divert her attention from his own problems. The angry gleam in her eyes told him that he had succeeded for at least a small moment.

"That's none of your business." Hermione retorted and sighed as he smirked and reminded her that he had told her something similar.

"But the whole school is talking about it. About the way you drive Weasley and McLaggen crazy. And how you freak out every time you see Brown and Weasley snogging." He laughed at her angry expression as he reminded her of her own problems. But deep down he wished that he could have these kinds of worries – dealing with friends, who go a little bit crazy because they were in love, was a lot easier than having to kill someone.

"I told you that it's not your business."

"Then stop prying into somebody else's affairs." With another step forward he forced her to take a step back, trapping her small form between his body and the desk she had been sitting in front of.

"I was simply trying to help." Her voice was getting louder and she raised her hand to hit his chest. This was the moment when he realized that he was starting to make her feel uncomfortable. Of course Granger wouldn't like being trapped.

"Let me tell you something." He started and grasped the sides of her face, forcing her to look at him. "I don't want your help. I don't even need it. I'm perfectly fine on my own and I'll find my own solutions.

His breath was heavy as he stared down into her clear brown eyes. He tried to remind himself that brown was the color of dirt and mud, but he couldn't help but realize that her eyes were warm, soft and pretty. People rarely looked at him like this – worrying. Sometimes his mother did, but it had stopped to comfort him. Holding this girl, who he was supposed to hate with every fiber with his being, gave him a sudden comfort he had not expected.

And without thinking he leaned down a little bit more and pressed his lips against hers.

As his eyes closed themselves involuntarily, he wondered why he was kissing this girl. But before he could answer this question, a new one appeared: Why did she kiss him back? Why did her soft lips move against his in a rhythm which certainly wasn't created for them? Why did her arms move to wrap themselves around his neck, pressing their bodies closer together?

Why didn't he want this to stop?

He moved his hands away from her face down to her hips, pulling her completely against him while their lips still moved against each other. But he wanted more. With his tongue he touched her lips, forcing her to invite him in to taste more of her. The duel and dance of their tongues and the taste of her made most of his blood rush to the nether regions of his body. His hands moved further down to the back of her thighs, which enabled him to lift her onto the table and press his arousal against the center of her body.

The gasp that escaped her lips interrupted their kiss for a moment and gave him the opportunity to press small butterfly kisses on her jaw line and the side of her neck. Her fingers wrapped themselves into his blonde tresses and he smiled as she pushed his face harder against her blushing skin. One of his hands slipped underneath the fabric of her dress and started to caress her naked thighs, slowly moving higher to her center. As he felt the moisture of her arousal against his fingers, his smile formed into a smirk.

"Oh god…" She moaned as he started to caress her by stroking over the outside of her panties. His lips moved back to capture hers in another kiss, which was more desperate than the ones before. Her hips bucked against his hand and he moved her underwear away to thrust a single finger into her wetness. She bit his lip in response and pressed her hips against his hand even firmer. Her head fell down onto his shoulder and her hands grasped his upper arms as she slowly got closer to her release. Soon he added another finger and moved them in a rhythm which sped up continually. When he could feel her muscles clench around his fingers and she let out a loud moan against his shoulder, he pressed another soft kiss on the side of her neck.

Slowly he stilled his moves and pulled out his fingers, but started to wonder about the girl in his arms. Suddenly he could feel something wet against his shoulder and moved his clean hand to cup her face and force her to look at him.

"What's wrong?" He asked and furrowed his brows at the tears clouding Hermione's brown eyes.

"Nothing." She said and smiled at him. "I just..." She bit her lip. "I've never… done this before."

Her voice was a mere whisper, but he could hear it nonetheless. With these words the curtains that had hid the cold reality were suddenly drawn away. He woke up from his little fantasy and realized that he was in a classroom and held a girl in his hands who was supposed to be his enemy.

"I'm sorry." He answered and caressed her lips with his thumb. It was incredible that someone like her had been able to make him forget the weight of the dark world that lay upon his shoulders.

"Don't be." She whispered in return and moved to kiss his lips. "It was nice."

He smiled. "Of course it was." Draco thought that this response would ruin the mood, but she simply laughed and stood up, their bodies ending up pressed together less intimately. He wrapped both of his arms around her small body and rested his chin on the top of her head, hoping that he would never have to give up this moment of peace.

"But you do realize that nothing like this can ever happen again." He murmured quietly.

"There's a way out of this, Draco." She whispered, moving to be able to look up to him. As she grasped his left forearm all of sudden, every bit of peace left his body as the Dark Mark burned against the material of his shirt. He hoped that she had just gripped this arm without any deeper meaning.

"Talk to Dumbledore." She continued and he could see another gleam of worry in the eyes that would probably haunt him forever. "You know that he is willing help anyone who asks for his help. He would do anything to protect someone who wants to leave the darkness behind."

She knew. It was in the way she gripped his arm and looked at him intently that made him realize that he couldn't hide this from her. Slowly she returned his embrace and pressed a chaste kiss against his cheek, before she freed herself from his embrace and left him. As she opened the door, she turned around one last time and smiled softly.

"You don't have to be alone in this."

With these words she closed the door behind her and left him with a third, and better, alternative.