Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Draco's eyes were shut tightly as he kept the tears from falling.
I want to be alone.
People were watching him as he walked past them, his fists clenched and his eyes closed.
He'd been accused already by many that it was he who brought about the death threats to Albus Dumbledore.
They'd all declared he was a heartless Death Eaters' son.
All, but one.
Though Draco did not know it, Hermione Granger was very skeptic when it came to that topic. She believed that Draco wasn't capable of doing that, and that he was still a person with a heart.
Yes, he still had a heart.
But nobody believed that...not anymore.
Draco hurried his steps, feeling on the verge of tears yet again.
When he finally opened his eyes, he was standing in front of the door to the abandoned girls' lavatory.
He quietly opened the door and stepped inside. Once there, he didn't bother letting the tears run down his face.
He crossed over to the sinks, slumping over one. He held tightly to the ceramic bowls, afraid he would lose it right there.
His shoulders heaved up and down as the tears splashed into the sink.
Why did it have to be me?
He knows I'll fail.
He knows I can't do this.
He's going to kill me.
Is he just punishing me and my family? What did we do to deserve this?
What did I do to deserve this?
His thoughts were interrupted as he heard a stifled and suppressed sob from one of the cubicles.
Was it Myrtle?
No, it's not, Draco thought, She weeps differently.
Who was it then?
Draco held his breath and took out his wand. Slowly, carefully, he crept toward the cubicle.
"Who's there?" he said, his voice quivering. The sobs stopped immediately.
Draco mentally counted to three, and when no one appeared to show themselves, he opened the cubicle door.
Draco's eyes widened with shock as he looked down at the girl curled up on the floor.
He was shocked to find her here. Her pretty face was stained with tears, and her nose was red from crying. Her doe eyes widened at him as she whispered, "M-Malfoy?"
The petite, brown-haired girl looked up at him, her expression a mirror of his.
She was shocked that it was he who found her here. His pale face was accentuated by flushed cheeks, tear tracks quite visible on them.
"What are you doing here?" he said, putting his wand back in his pocket.
Hermione's face crumpled with pain as she said, "Why would you care, Malfoy? Besides, it's none of your business. You wouldn't want to concern yourself with me."
Draco's face softened as a tear escaped his eye.
There it was again.
He wasn't that heartless.
"I'm not that heartless, Granger," he whispered, bending down to her level so he was face to face with her. "What's wrong?"
Tears flowed down Hermione's cheeks as she tried to snap, "Don't pretend as if you care, Malfoy! You don't care about me! Nobody cares about me!"
Draco swallowed as he looked at her.
He did care about her.
He had for a long time.
Wasn't it obvious?
Draco held her arms firmly as he said again, "What is wrong, Granger?"
Hermione looked into his grey eyes, looking for a hint that he was just trying to fool her, but she couldn't find anything. In fact, his eyes seemed more sorrowful than hers. Still, she couldn't help but be suspicious.
He...hated her, didn't he?
Why was he doing this?
Draco's tears fell from his eyes again as he persisted. "You can trust me."
Slowly, Hermione relaxed, and she wrapped her arms around him, embracing him, crying into his shoulder.
Draco's hands were suspended in mid-air. He couldn't believe she could be so trusting with herself...to entrust herself, her feelings, with him.
His hands slowly made their way to her back, pulling her closer. His thumb stroked a strand of her hair as he tried to comfort her.
He mentally chuckled to himself. It was a little awkward for him, but she seemed alright with it.
He wasn't used to holding a girl so close, yet doing nothing but comfort her. In fact, he wasn't used to holding Granger, period.
And he was comforting her instead of himself. He knew he needed comfort as well, but he was actually able to set the need for himself aside for this girl.
But that wasn't the case.
The more he comforted her, he too, felt comforted.
As if her presence was comforting him, as well.
"Don't cry, Granger," he whispered into her ear. "You can trust me. Tell me what's wrong."
He could feel her hesitate against him, but he waited for her to respond.
After a while, she asked him, her voice shaking with emotion and sadness, "D-do you know what it f-feels like...when the person you l-love...loves s-somebody e-else?"
Draco's breath hitched in his throat.
Of course he knew.
Hell, he was holding the girl who'd done that to him many times.
Tears fell from his eyes into her hair.
Hermione took his silence personally. She stiffened, pulling away. "Of course you don't," she said bitterly, "Why am I asking you? Everyone wants you, everyone likes you...why would you, of all people, know what being neglected feels like?"
"I know how you feel."
Hermione's eyes widened at what he said. "Wh-what did you say?"
Draco looked into her brown eyes as he repeated, "I know how you feel."
Hermione seemed to shrink back with pain, her tears flowing down her cheeks. "No you don't," she insisted. "You're wanted by everyone."
Draco smiled, and as he did, tears fell from his eyes again. "But not in the way I want. And not everyone likes me."
He was referring to her, and she seemed to know it.
"But at least some people like you," she whispered. "Not like me. Nobody likes me, nobody wants me. Even you don't like me," she added quietly.
They were silent for a moment. Draco looked at her as she bit her lip. The tears from her eyes seemed to keep flowing.
But so did his.
Slowly, carefully, Draco leaned forward and kissed her.
It was a simple, chaste kiss; soft, sweet, not insistent, and hesitant.
As he pulled away, he could see doubt and fear in her eyes. "Why did you do that?" she asked softly. "Why did you kiss me?"
Draco wiped away a stray tear from her cheek. "So that you will know that there still is somebody who likes you. Somebody who wants you."
Hermione looked down at her hands. "You're lying," she said. "You can't like me. You've never liked me."
"Is that what you thought?" Draco asked her. "Because I always have."
Hermione looked up at him. "That can't be true," she whispered.
Draco smiled at her. "It is."
"Then..." she said quietly, "then why didn't you tell me? Why did you choose to hurt me instead?"
Draco's smile faded into a solemn expression. "Because my pride got the better of me," he said bitterly. "I thought I could get over the feeling by hurting you...turns out, I never could. Get over it, I mean."
He looked into her eyes, leaning forward so he was closer to her. "But things happen...and it made me realize I never should have let you go."
Hermione looked at him; his expression was sorry, as if he lost something very valuable to him.
"I know you love someone else," he told her. "I know you don't feel the same for me. But it's alright...as long as you're happy."
Hermione blinked, tears falling at what he said. "That's not true," she said.
Draco smiled sadly at her. "How can you say that? Look at you...crying over Weasley. You love him, Granger, not me."
Hermione's lip quivered. "I only liked him because I knew I wouldn't have a chance with you. You...expressed your hatred for me so much that it was too much to bear. I wondered what would happen if I tried loving someone else...someone who might return it."
Draco's expression was that of hurt. "But you've always hated me for hurting you."
"But that's the point," she whispered, her voice soft and sincere. "If I hated you, I won't get hurt by what you do to me, would I?"
Draco leaned back against the wall as he came to that realization.
They had both been so blind.
How could they not have seen it?
Draco blamed his upbringing...to think they could've been happy.
Finally, he embraced her, whispering into her ear, "We've been so blind."
Hermione wrapped her arms around him. "I know."
Draco pulled back, looking at her, noting her features, trying to see how he could look past them.
He saw that she was beautiful...simple, plain, yet beautiful. Her doe eyes were a nice, chocolate brown, her lips slightly uneven, with the upper lip a little bigger than the lower. She had a handful of freckles sprinkled across the bridge of her nose, and cheeks were a pale rosy color. Her hair was a light shade of brown, no longer bushy, but wavy as it tumbled down her shoulders.
As he looked at her, she also tried to do the same, wondering how she was able to let him slip past her.
She saw that he was handsome...worn, tired, yet handsome. Everything about him was pale. His face was pale and angular, and his features were sharp. His eyes, however, were soft and lonely, not dagger-like to match his sharp and pointy features. His eyes were a steely grey color, his eyelashes long. His pale blond hair was no longer slicked back so arrogantly; rather, it was fringed to frame his face perfectly, making him look dangerous yet sweet at the same time.
It was Hermione's turn to lean up to kiss him, and the way she did it was shy, yet captivating.
Too fast, her mind said. Too fast. You're falling for him too fast.
But that wasn't true.
She did like him...for a long time.
Ever since she met him, even.
The first time he insulted her, called her a Mudblood, her world was so shattered that she began questioning her identity.
She felt worthless when he called her that.
She tried to be better than everyone else, to show him that she wasn't worthless like the word he called her.
She wanted to show him that she was good enough...maybe even better.
Draco felt it too.
He liked her for a long time as well.
Ever since he met her.
He'd been raised to believe that Muggleborns were supposed to be filthy creatures, ugly, dirty...but she was none of that. He wondered why.
As he kept on wondering, he became so attuned to thinking about her that he started to get scared that he would start feeling something for her.
And so, when the opportunity came, he insulted her, called her a Mudblood.
He was supposedly trying to teach her to find her place.
But he couldn't stop thinking about her...how she was completely opposite to the Mudblood stereotype.
She was worth everything.
Come Yule Ball, the stake that had been trying to make its mark on Draco's heart drove in too deep to be removed.
That's when he started believing his parents were wrong.
She was brilliant...even more brilliant than any of the Pureblood girls he'd known.
Everyone noticed he'd stopped insulting her, but he still had an image to protect, and so he didn't tell her that he did feel something for her, hoping that maybe, if he kept doing it, he would forget about all the feelings he ever felt for her.
But they never disappeared.
Now he had nothing.
He knew now that he never should've done all those things to her...maybe that's why he was chosen for Voldemort's task.
Karma for everything he'd done to this girl.
"What we're doing is wrong," Draco whispered, pulling away, standing up.
Hermione looked hurt, but she caught hold of his hand. He looked down at their intertwined hands, and he helped her stand.
"What do you mean, wrong?" she asked, her tone scared.
Draco looked at her. "I'm just going to hurt you."
Hermione wondered what he meant.
Her expression must have been obvious, because Draco said, "It's not that. I'm not going to hurt you physically if we...continue. I mean, I'm going to hurt you because we can't be together."
Hermione looked at him in disbelief. "What do you mean?" she whispered, tear falling yet again from her eyes. "Why not?"
Draco took her hand and pulled her closer, wrapping her in his embrace. "We can't be together," Draco repeated, and Hermione felt his tears splash against her neck. "You and I belong in different circles...different sides...different worlds. We can't be together, Granger, we just can't."
"But we can try - " Hermione insisted, but Draco interrupted her.
"No we can't," Draco said. "No matter how hard we try...you and I won't end up together. I wasn't meant for you, and you weren't meant for me."
The first sob escaped Hermione's lips.
"But even if that's the case..." Draco trailed off. "I want you to know that I have always, and will always, love you."
Hermione looked at him. "If we can't be together in the end, why not be together now?"
Draco smiled sadly. "You will just get hurt."
Hermione smiled sadly back. "I'd rather get hurt milllions of times...as long as I get to be with you. Just once...just this one time."
Draco stroked her cheek. "It pains me to know I won't have you," he whispered. "This is all my fault."
"No, it's not," Hermione said comfortingly. "It's not your fault. Don't say that."
"It is," he said. "If I hadn't hurt you so much...tried to push you away...maybe you and I could be happy. Now...now I can't have you."
"Yes, you can," Hermione said. "You can. Just once, just for now. Just this once."
Draco looked into her eyes, her brown eyes, and hurt filled his heart. How can he bear losing her?
Would he let her go again?
Pretend this never happened?
He could at least give it a shot.
Besides, he knew he couldn't have her, so why not take the opportunity with her while it was still here?
He leaned down and kissed her a third, fourth, fifth time...over and over.
He took everything she could give him, just this once.
She'd given him everything she had, just this once.
Nobody knew what went on between them, and they made a pact not to tell anyone.
Nobody knew about the secret that happened in the abandoned girls' lavatory.
Nobody knew that Draco Malfoy loved Hermione Granger...even if it was just once.
As soon as it was over, Draco kissed her forehead softly.
He looked into her eyes, and he knew she was happy he'd taken her.
He got up and helped her stand and get dressed.
They looked at each other meaningfully, both wishing it never had to end.
Before leaving, he told her, "I wish this could've been forever."
Hermione smiled sadly at him. "You know I wish it too."
He embraced her one last time, whispering the three words he knew would keep him branded in her heart forever. "I love you."
"I love you too," Hermione smiled, noticing the irony of the moment.
How ironic that, in the six years they've gotten on each other's nerves, one simple coincidence led to the revelation of secrets, secrets she knew would never have been revealed if it hadn't been for that coincidence in the first place.
She hugged him tighter, knowing this was the last time she would get to do that.
How sad that today was the first and last day they could be called 'them'...the first and last day they could be 'us'.
The first and last day that they could be together.
The moment the door of the girls' lavatory opened, everything in their worlds continued as they should be.
But they knew that somehow, their worlds have changed forever.
Draco returned to sulking.
Hermione returned to hoping.
And no one knew about the little secret that happened in the abandoned girls' lavatory.
A/N: And that's that.
This is my very one-shot that can actually be called a one-shot...well, to me anyway. 'Watch Him Fade' wasn't a very good one-shot for me, and 'Red and Green' isn't really considered a one-shot.
So how did I do? Please leave a review.
Also, I'm aware that this fic seems to be going a little too fast...please let me know if you feel that way too. I'm not sure about the quality of this fic, though I have been dreaming about it for so long.
Oh, also, I have a little suggestion to make: you should try reading this again with 'Malfoy's Mission', 'Harry and Hermione', and 'When Ginny Kissed Harry' from the HP6 OST in sequence.
For 'Malfoy's Mission,' however, I suggest you start reading after the really loud part - the one that sounds like it came form a suspense movie. Then 'Harry and Hermione', then 'When Ginny Kissed Harry'.
'When Ginny Kissed Harry' all the way to the end...so you might need to queue it about 5 or 6 times.
Thanks for giving this simple one shot a chance, and please let me know what you think.