Screams echoed throughout the Malfoy Manor. Hermione could feel her arm burning as she heard Bellatrix's malicious laugh cackle above her. A silent tear escaped the corner of her eye, as much as she didn't want to show weakness in front of her enemy.
Draco was standing helplessly lost in the middle of the room, looking at his aunt as she charred the word "Mudblood" into the creamy skin of Granger's arm. Hurt flashed across his face as she looked up at him. As her golden eyes met his silver ones, he saw the swirl of emotions she was trying to portray to him without words. Her eyes were showing mistrust, hate, disappointment and something else that he couldn't quite put his finger on.
All she could feel was the burning ache constantly shooting through her arm as Bellatrix focused on making the words delve deeper into her skin. She tried instead of focus on the cold floorboards digging into her hips as she lay helplessly upon them. Her thoughts were swimming with the betrayal she faced at Malfoy's expense. He promised to love me, to keep me safe. He promised he wasn't a part of this anymore. She was sure all of this could easily be displayed on her face, but no matter how hard she tried, she could not pry her eyes away from him.
Her memories faded back to the beginning.
It was her very first day at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters and she didn't know anybody, which was quite typical for Muggleborn children. When she finally boarded the Hogwarts Express, she was walking up and down the aisles trying to find a compartment to sit in when she suddenly bumped into a blond-haired boy, who stuck out his hand and introduced himself as Draco Malfoy. She remembered the cringe on his face when she told him she wasn't from a Wizarding family. Hurt and confused, she soon found the compartment Harry and Ron were in. That night, she saw him get sorted into Slytherin.
The year after, he called her a filthy Mudblood.
In third year, she punched him.
Everything changed during the Yule Ball in her fourth year. She walked down the stairs elegantly with her head held high, pretending not to notice him. He, however, acted much differently than she expected he would. He did not utter a single snide comment, or even smirk at her. After her dance with Krum, she headed back to her table to grab her purse and head up to her room, because it was getting late. He followed her halfway to the Gryffindor Tower, pushed her gently against the wall, and he kissed her. It was her first kiss, fireworks and all. Just like that, they started meeting up and snogging after hours. She couldn't explain her attraction to him and he couldn't explain his. He started calling her Hermione for the first time.
Fifth year, he told her he loved her for the first time. He told her that he had to keep up appearances, so nothing could come of it, even though he wasn't giving up on her.
In his sixth year, he began to disappear. He faded away both from the Marauder's Map and from her life. Dumbledore died. Hogwarts finished. He began Apparating into her room at night during the summer. Tried to explain to her what happened in the tower. She believed him. They made love many times, to the point that even now, as she lay on the hard cold floor, while being towered over by Bellatrix, she could feel his hands caressing her body. He was her first, her only.
Now he stood before her and she barely recognised him. His sullen cheeks. His dull eyes. The fire evaporating from his soul.
"Come over here, Draco, and finish the job," Bellatrix croaked as she ushered Draco closer to her with her bony finger.
Draco took a tentative step forward. He couldn't do this. Do something like this to the woman he loved. He could feel his heart beating in his chest and was wondering if she could hear it. It would only beat like this for her. He shut his eyes tightly, remembering everything he ever said to her. He promised her she would be safe, as long as he was there. He promised.
"Go on, Draco, do it, and maybe you will be rewarded," Bellatrix urged evilly.
The tempestuous feelings inside Draco were growing. He felt sick to his stomach, seeing Hermione lying on the dirty ground. She didn't belong there, she belonged in his arms. He could see his aunt's wand pointed at her, just in case he couldn't finish the job. Her blood was leaking from her arm. Ruby red and clean blood, not muddy like he thought once upon a time. Blood that was running through his veins too.
He caught her gaze one last time, trying to pour all the emotion he held inside his mind, body and soul into her.
Hermione said goodbye to the world and was almost content that where she was going there would be no more pain. Taking one last look at his face, she shut her eyes tightly.
"Avada Kadavra," he roared.
Hermione waited, but death never came. She opened one eye, then the other and looked straight at him as she heard a body hit the floor. Bellatrix lay dead on the floor beside her. Her body was contorted into an odd shape, but it was still.
Draco dropped to his knees and reached his hand out to stroke her face, wiping away her tears with his thumb. He held her tightly in his arms, peppering her face with kisses, then kissing her deeply for the first time in months. He would figure out a way to get them out of here permanently, but for right now only two things were important. She was safe. He was home.