Disclaimer : I do not own Harry Potter or the characters depicted in this story. Only the plot is mine.
A/N - The giftee asked for Angst and sexual tension. Thank you to my betas Mi Hi Lover and Sareface. Warning - This fic is rated M for a reason.
She remembers the first time he looked at her.
The platform was crowded; children - some in robes, others in Muggle clothes saying goodbye to their parents while they boarded a train that her logical mind knew shouldn't exist. She had walked through a wall, or something that seemed like a wall, which only fueled her need to read as many books to educate herself on this world that she was now a part of. This would ensure that she wouldn't receive any surprises, for she hated surprises.
There were other students around her, many bigger, but some who were her age and seemed to be in her year. The first boy she met was Neville, and their friendship started with a simple question, "Have you seen a frog, by any chance?"
It was while on this expedition for this elusive 'frog' that she saw a family of three with the palest blond hair she had ever seen. The boy looked at her, and she blushed. He seemed to be eyeing her hair warily. Self-conscious, she smiled at him, and in response he smiled back, his cool grey eyes appraising her almost curiously. It was a slight twitch of the lips, nothing much of a movement that anyone could have warranted as a smile, but it was sufficient for her. Maybe, she had thought, he would be her new friend too.
It was later, when he had overheard that her parents were not magical did he look at her differently. Whenever he saw her, his lips seemed to contort into an ugly sneer and his gaze would burn her with cold hatred.
And every time he passed her, she would hold her head high, determined to make him aware that his opinion had no effect on her. Only, it very much did.
She remembers the first time he spoke to her.
"No one asked your opinion, you filthy little Mudblood."
Until that moment, he had never spoken a word to her. He had made comments about her, and even insulted her by acquaintance, but he had never seen her as a worthy enough person to be spoken to. She was a thing. A nuisance. A charity project of his rival, Harry Potter. This was the first time he acknowledged her as anything more than a waste of space.
She had never felt such hatred directed at her in all her twelve years as she had with that one simple word. She knew of its existence, but she had believed in her naivety that the prejudice was behind her.
Yet what hurt the most wasn't the word, but how it was spat so disgustingly her way. That had been the moment she started to hate Draco Malfoy.
She remembers the first time she struck him.
It was one of her 'out-of-control-moments,' as her best friends called it. She had never felt such anger, such rage that threatened to burst forth and ignite her wand with a spell that she wouldn't have been able to control. She had gritted her teeth and tightened her fists in every effort to control the anger that shook her to her very core. She hadn't realized that she had moved forward, or that her hand was raised until the smacking sound of skin permeated the air followed shortly by the stinging sensation of her palm.
He had fled then, with Crabbe and Goyle in his wake, while she kept her head high with barely concealed disgust across her features. But he hadn't left fast enough. As he took a step back, she couldn't help but notice the slight glimmer of surprise and respect in his eyes. Had it not been such a rare occurrence, it wouldn't have cut through to her senses.
"C'mon," he had muttered to his minions before glancing back at her one last time.
Looking back, she supposed she should be happy that she thought like a Muggle. Otherwise, with the arsenal of hexes she knew, she doubted whether Malfoy would have been anything more than a pile of goo on the ground.
And out of all the moments in her life, thatwas one of the most satisfactory.
She remembers the first time he stared at her.
Before this, whenever he looked at her it had always been with a passing glance. Grey eyes always cloaked with something dark that bordered painfully on hatred. She had worked tirelessly in ensuring that her protective shell was never breached. No matter the disgust or loathing that came from him, she was unaffected. She thought she had her shield down to an art. She thought he could do nothing to break down her defences.
But then, he looked at her.
It wasn't a look of malice or hatred. It was just a simple look, one that appraised her appearance and took her in wholly. It almost seemed like he had never seen her before, like she he was finally seeing her as a human, an equal. When his eyes finally fell on hers, across the dance floor of the icy sculpted Great Hall, she expected him to look away.
It took Viktor, grabbing her elbow gently, and whispering in her ear, asking her if she wanted to dance, to break their eye contact. From that moment, she was painfully aware of when he watched her - which was often, and when he happened to be near her, even though he neither spoke to her nor acknowledged her.
If anything, that was the only day nothing snide or sarcastic was directed towards her.
She remembers the first time he confused her.
Most of her life, she had seen him as nothing but a hard shell. An ugly personality who had no choice but to sneer at others because of his upbringing. He had tortured her, Harry, and Ron. He had verbally abused countless first years. He had taken the Dark Mark. He had joined the Dark side and planned to kill Albus Dumbledore.
He was the enemy. He was not an innocent caught in the middle of a war. He was a willing Death Eater, whose sole purpose was to hunt down the Boy Who Lived.
But when he had the chance, with his aunt cackling in the background, and with his father questioning him desperately, he had looked into her eyes and hesitated. She couldn't understand why.
She remembers the first time she felt for him.
She didn't think she had ever seen him like that before: his head bent low, pale blond strands covered with smoke and dust, his usually immaculate robes holding the stench of fire and death. She knew her appearance was similar, if not worse. She had survived for months without the benefit of a hot shower and a comfortable mattress to sleep on. She had dark circles under her eyes and her hair hadn't seen the sight of conditioner for over a year. But that life had been the norm. She could no longer be surprised with what war could do to the people she knew; she'd seen what war haddone. It had barely been a few hours since Voldemort had fallen, and she had done everything in her power to help those who needed it. She tended to the wounded, brought blankets for those frozen in fear, oversaw the house elves while they prepared a warm meal for those who had survived the battle. She did all of this while Harry and Ron tended to the dead. The dead! Which now included Fred Weasley? She didn't think that had quite hit her yet. She hadn't shed a tear, broken down with violent sobs as she expected she would. Instead, she kept herself busy and ensured that her emotions were kept numb. At least, she thought she was numb... until she saw him.
He was hiding out at a secluded stairway, one she was passing on her way to get more blankets when she heard the slight inhale of a shaky breath. In a silent castle, that tiny sound could have been as loud as a laugh. She had leaned against the wall then, peaking around it so her eyes could fall on the hunched figure who sat all alone at the bottom of the stairs without drawing unwanted attention to herself. The image that greeted her was shocking.
She found herself surprised by the turn of events. She had seen his parents talking quietly to Aurors in the Great Hall. And yet, here sat their son, secluded from all others with his head bowed and his eyes screwed shut as if he was in pain.
Malfoy pulled in another painful breath, one that seemed to shake him to the very core. She watched him silently, surprised by the slight movement of his shoulders, his back and most importantly, his lips. He seemed to be breathing deeply through his mouth, concentrating on each breath with the slight pull of his lips as if he was hoping to uncover a meditational state. His hands stayed buried in his hair, his long, pale fingers almost pulling the strands painfully.
She watched him silently, oddly mesmerized by the fall of the Slytherin Prince. It took the sound of distant footsteps for her to break from her reverie and retreat almost reluctantly.
That was the first time she had ever seen Draco Malfoy so vulnerable. She should have known that would be her undoing.
She remembers the first time she met him after the war.
She attended his hearing, heard the testimonies and gave her own. Throughout the whole proceedings he had kept his head bowed, almost as if he had resigned himself to his fate and had no hope left. He seemed to have given up, and her very being couldn't let that happen.
She pulled strings, used her own as well as Harry's connections to be able to meet him. She was convinced that by meeting him she would remember what a horrid person he was and drop this fascination she had for the younger Malfoy. She thought it was because he was helpless, and she had made it her life's work to help those unable to help themselves.
The first glance she had of him caused an eerie shiver to rise up her spine. He stared straight at her, his grey eyes almost empty with the lack of recognition. She almost didn't notice his filthy state: the grime in his hair or the dirt that seemed to stick uncomfortably to his skin.
She had said his name softly, hoping to elicit a response. His head twitched slightly towards her but he didn't say a word. Instead, he looked right through her. His hopelessness broke her heart. At that moment, she knew she had to do something to get him his life back.
She remembers the first time he recognized her.
Using her position within the Ministry of Law Enforcement, she transferred him out of the Dementor-guarded cells of Azkaban. He was the first Death Eater to have that privilege of being guarded by Aurors - the fate given to those who cheat on their taxes or commit fraud.
She visited him for the first time after he had been there for a month. The change was astounding. He was still filthy, still unable to stand due to lack of nourishment, but he was better. At least his eyes glimmered with recognition.
She had felt the ridiculous feeling of embarrassment, unsure of how to address him or if to not address him at all. She decided to take the safe route, giving her nod of approval to the warden and turning to leave immediately.
But his voice, soft and weak, stopped her. "Granger."
She stopped in her tracks, surprised by how confident he sounded. "Malfoy."
The corners of his mouth twitched upward almost like a mocking smile. "Come here to gloat?"
"Only if there is something to gloat about."
His grin widened. "Come back next month and we'll compare."
Raising a mocking eyebrow in a silent challenge, she left, a smile gracing her lips.
That night was the first of many fights she had with Ron over the interest she had shown for his most hated rival's well-being.
She remembers the first time he looked at her with hope.
She had been seeing him twice a month for close to a year. It had been taxing, coming up with believable excuses to explain her long absences to her best friends as well as to her soon-to-be in-laws.
He was her own special project. She worked tirelessly on his case, poring over documents and interviewing witnesses, trying to figure out where the system went wrong, how the system committed an innocent man to a life sentence that was reserved for murderers.
She was visiting him for the eighteenth time when she finally told him of the loop hole she had found. He had the grounds to appeal his case, just no one to take it over for him, until her.
He had looked at her then, almost the same way he had looked at her during the Yule Ball. Hermione shifted, uncomfortable with the silent gaze he fixed on her.
"Thank you," he whispered, almost reluctantly.
She was sure he had never said those words before in his life.
She remembers the first time he smiled at her.
It was a genuine smile, one that crinkled the corners of his eyes and spread his lips in a near boyish grin. It was a moment shared between them, one that seemed to stretch the seconds without thought as to who else was around them. She ignored his mother as she stood behind him, watching them with barely concealed interest, just as she was sure that he was ignoring the heated gaze of her fiance as he stood behind her protectively. He was a free man, and he was happy about it.
She stayed away from him, fighting the urge to hug her unlikely ally because she was painfully aware of the judgement that could fall on them. Instead, she turned her attention back to Ron - who had insisted on attending the appeal - and prepared her things to leave.
Before he left, Malfoy bumped her shoulder slightly, whispering to meet him for lunch the next day as his fingers lightly touched hers.
She really shouldn't have nodded while she kept her eyes away from him. But, she did.
She remembers the first time he kissed her.
It wasn't planned, and she never intended it to go that far. They had just met for dinner, which wasn't nearly as surprising or at all out of character. She found herself able to relate to this post-prison Draco: a person proud of his heritage, his name and his money, but humbled by her and what she stands for. She found him a welcome distraction from all the wedding planning, which seemed to be more for the sake of than her. She found herself tired with the constant bickering between her and Ron, and Draco was the perfect - if not a sarcastic and cynical - listener. He was becoming her friend while Ginny took her brother's side and Harry stayed resolutely 'out of it'.
He had given her too much to drink, and he wasn't swaying in the slightest. After Apparating them both away, he wasted no time in taking her face in his hands and kissing her so softly she might have thought it was a dream. Her traitorous body responded making her arch against him, a moan tearing through reluctantly.
He pulled back with a wicked smirk across his face. "You don't belong with Weaslebee."
"And who do I belong with?" she questioned, her words somewhat slurred.
His grinned widened. "Me." He then kissed her passionately, his tongue giving her little bouts of pleasure with every determined swipe, and his teeth causing her to whimper with every light pull of her bottom lip. He swallowed her moans as his hands began to work on her heavy coat, her scarf and then her silk work blouse. Vaguely she knew that he had Apparated them to his apartment, to hisbedroom. But she couldn't bring herself to care. Not when his hot breath ghosted over her bare neck like that, or even when his hands moved tantalizingly over her bare skin, fingers splaying almost greedily.
Their kisses were wet, quick, and uncoordinated. She barely remembered falling onto the silk sheets or even how he lost all of his clothing instantly. All she remembered was the feeling of his naked skin on hers, his weight on top of her that brought out something primal within her. She remembered her hands as they travelled along his skin, over the well-defined muscles of his back, his arms, his chest. She remembered his low growl against her ear as he tangled his hand in her hair and settled between her thighs. But most of all she remembered that feeling of ecstasy the moment they joined, her very senses screaming for release when he started moving inside her, slow at first then a faster rhythm that made her whimper every time they met. Her fingers clutched the silk sheets tightly as her back arched to meet him thrust for thrust. Their movements were clumsy- hands knocking, teeth clashing -until they fell into a rhythm that was ultimately them. It wasn't long before she screamed, an expletive escaping her lips with the wave of her release. With a chuckle, he followed her, his grunts grating against the soft skin of her neck.
She didn't think of seating charts, bouquets of roses or wedding bells. She didn't think of her friends, her fiance or his family. All she wanted to do was sleep. This is why, when Draco pulled her towards him so her back rested snugly against his chest, her eyes closed and she drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
The next day, she called off her wedding, guilt weighing heavily on her conscience. And she knew from the look in his eyes, that Ron would never forgive her.
She remembers the first time he acknowledged that he cared about her.
She had been avoiding him after their ill-fated encounter. She knew that she wasn't this type of person and she couldn't believe that he could bring that out of her. She thought that he had simply used her, had his fix and moved along.
But she couldn't have been more wrong.
He practically stalked her. Went where she went and did what she did. All the while he would send her a cocky grin her way, hardly bothered by the fact that he had helped burn the bridges of her other friendships. He annoyed her, berated her, picked on her and joked about it all. She found it impossible to avoid him.
It took him pretending to wave a white flag for her to listen to him, and he hardly had to try to get her into bed with him again. One light touch of his lips against her neck and she couldn't hear any of the protests her mind could come up with.
Later, when he thought she was asleep, he said three little words against her shoulder. She never heard them, but she felt them.
She remembers the day he died.
It wasn't meant to happen that way. They were supposed to live long, happy lives. They were supposed to prove the innocence within him to all those who had judged them.
They had made plans to leave England. She hadn't visited her parents yet or tried to restore their memories, and she was estranged from the only family she had, thanks to Mrs. Weasley. She had nothing. He too, had nothing. It was the perfect time. She had been happy, packing her clothes in a fool proof organized method that Percy once showed her. She had been singing softly, aware that her voice was far from grand but feeling the need to burst into song anyway. It was while she was deciding whether to pack any sweaters did she receive the Floo call from Harry.
They said it had been the work of rogue Death Eaters, those who wanted vengeance on their former comrades who switched sides. The proof was found in the green sign of the Dark Mark that hovered over his mangled body.
She was one of four at his funeral. Her friends weren't willing to forgive her for her betrayal unless she agreed she was wrong. And she was unwilling to lie so blatantly when she knew she had been right. She knew this was unfair. He didn't deserve this and neither did she. But without him, she was painfully aware that she was alone.
But that was all years ago.
She remembers all of this with the help of a Pensieve, with the help of memories she had extracted from her own mind years before.
She watches them hungrily each and every day, slowly taking in the details of the life she had led, of the people she had loved, of the man who had meant enough to make her give up everything that was dear to her.
She yearns for them: her memories. She wants to picture her life behind closed lids whenever she wants to. She wants to recollect moments and people when they are mentioned. She doesn't want to forget what she remembers. But she knows that is a false hope. Slowly, her mind is failing her as it drops the puzzle pieces of her life.
Each day, something else doesn't make sense. And each day, she forgets something new. A place, a moment, a person, a joke. Her mind is deteriorating and there is nothing she can do in her old age, with the disease that has claimed her mind.
There is only one constant in her memories. Some days she would forget his name, and during others, she would forget who he was to her. But she will always remember the tall man with sharp features and pale blond hair looking at her lovingly with cool grey eyes. That one moment is always the memory that comes to her without thought. And that is the one memory she is determined never to forget.