e v e r y t h i n g

It was never supposed to be anything more than enmity.

It is her Sixth Year, and for the first time, she is alone. Hogwarts is a nightmare, and Draco Malfoy is the monster. He carries out Snape's orders at the head of the new Slytherin guard and he drags rule-breakers by the wrist to the feet of the Carrows and she hates him. She despises him.

It is a rainy night in November (it seems like it has been raining for weeks), and she is leaving the greenhouse after an evening Herbology class. Her bag splits at the seams, and she kneels in the mud to gather the strewn parchment even though she knows it is useless – the ink has already blurred across the pages. The rest of the class has disappeared into the castle, but he is standing there, leaning casually against the greenhouse doorway, watching her struggle but not moving to help her. Typical Malfoy, she thinks, but as she whirls to face him, a retort on her lips, he does something completely atypical.

He looks at her with something in his eyes, something that has never been there before. She doesn't recognize it as desire, hunger, need, until he crosses the space between them and kisses her. The kiss is hard and desperate, a firebrand on her lips, and when he releases her, it takes her a full second to remember that she should be slapping him across the face. She raises her hand, but he catches her by the wrist, and there is a moment – there – one solitary, everlasting moment, when she knows she can just walk away.

But she doesn't. She thrusts her body against his and into the void, and the impact sends them back into the greenhouse. And suddenly her robes are ripped and his hands are everywhere and she is a million times warmer than she has any right to be when she is soaking wet from head to toe.

They meet every night, in the dark halls and deserted corners of the castle, and she doesn't think about what she's doing. Because that's the point – to forget everything. She thinks it's poetic, really, that this all started in the rain, because now she's drowning in it, and she never wants to breathe again.

It was never supposed to be anything more than sex.

They send each other notes – crisp lines of ink on new parchment – blunt and unromantic.

The dungeons, midnight. Be on time. The trophy room, nine o'clock. I'll have half an hour.

They never discuss what they're doing, and they don't tell anyone, but she wonders if her friends notice that when he sneers insults at her in the halls, she answers brazenly, without fear. She wonders if his friends notice that when she challenges him, right there, in front of everyone, there's a gleam of knowing amusement in his eyes.

Fall turns into winter, and the biting comments are making her feel brave again, instead of just afraid. And the light trail of his fingertips along her cheekbone just before the bruising kiss is making her feel passion again, instead of just dullness.

Neville looks at her curiously one day and observes that she seems to have some energy again – a bloom in her cheeks and a vibrancy in her eyes. And she realizes that against all odds, the monster has pulled her from the edge of the abyss. Draco Malfoy has brought her back to life.

It was never supposed to be anything more than passion.

In February, she watches the Carrows torture a First Year. Afterward, she sits on the bottom step of a deserted staircase, shaking uncontrollably and heaving with unshed tears.

He finds her there and tells her nonchalantly that the Charms classroom is empty if she has a free hour. She follows him – if there was ever a time to drown, it's now – but by the time the door is closed behind them, the anger has risen in her throat and is threatening to choke her.

She slaps him so hard across the face that she can see her handprint like a brand across his cheek. His eyes register shock and then hard anger, but she is beyond fear of him now. She asks him how he can be what he is – be one of them and do what they do.

He grips her forearms to restrain her and hisses that she doesn't know what it's like to be him. She doesn't understand what it's like to stand in front of the Dark Lord, to be given orders, and to follow them. He laughs mirthlessly. Ginny Weasley, the Gryffindor Princess, could never understand what it's like to do something and wonder if anyone will ever forgive you. And worse yet, to know for sure that you will never forgive yourself.

So she looks him straight in the eye and tells him about Tom and the Chamber and the diary. Don't you dare lecture me about evil, she tells him. No, not when she can't even look at ink fresh on a page without feeling a jolt of fear and guilt. He doesn't respond as she walks away.

The next day, they pass in the hall and he presses a note into her palm.

It's blank. No ink on the page. No fear. No guilt. It's an acknowledgement and an apology.

She accepts it.

It was never supposed to be anything more than friendship.

He doesn't notice until after, when they are lying side by side, naked, with the sheets tangled around them. He is on his side, propped up by an elbow, a piece of hair falling rakishly across his forehead. His fingertips are trailing across her collarbone like a whisper, and then she winces and he freezes, because he's felt it. The raw indent where the curse hit her, and the web of thin, raised lines where the tendrils of pain spread across her skin, right above her heart.

She watches an anger that she doesn't expect cloud his eyes, usually so piercing gray, and he says in a low undertone: Who was it? She whispers that it doesn't matter, it's not important, but he pins her down with a stare: Tell me.

And suddenly he is out of bed and in his robes and storming from the room, and by the time she throws on her own and follows him, he has already found them. She is three paces behind him as he strides right up to them – Crabbe, Goyle, and Zabini – at the Slytherin table. They roar good-naturedly at his entrance and beckon for him to sit down, but the look on his face silences them.

Don't you ever touch her again, he hisses, and he turns away. They are stunned – everyone is, the Great Hall has never been so silent – but they recover quickly. They laugh with shocked incredulity, and someone calls to his retreating back: Since when do you care about some blood-traitor slut? He pauses for a moment, an unfathomable expression on his face, and then he whirls and hexes them, all of them, and he doesn't look at her as he stalks from the hall.

She hesitates before knocking on the door of his Head Boy's room. He isn't expecting her. But he lets her in, and they stand there awkwardly, and she thinks it's ironic that her throat is dry and he is gripping the edge of his desk so hard that his knuckles are white, because they were supposed to have bypassed all of this when they went straight to sex. But she realizes, seeing him in his room – the place where he sleeps – in a white t-shirt and boxers with disheveled hair, that this is the most intimate they have ever been.

So she kisses him. And later, when his lips are buried in her neck and her fingers are tangling in his hair, he whispers eight words in her ear, and she feels them more deeply in her heart than any curse could ever go.

I think I'm falling in love with you.

That night they sleep together, really sleep together, for the first time. And when she wakes with her head on his chest and their fingers intertwined, she knows she is lost for good.

It was never supposed to be anything more than a secret.

But Harry's return cuts it all short – like the swift downward stroke of a guillotine blade, but messier. The Final Battle erupts around them, and they can't stand together because, let's face it, they're not on the same side.

And there is one moment that she will never forget. One moment when curses are hurtling at her and all she can hear are screams and Bellatrix Lestrange's laughter, and she believes, truly believes in the marrow of her bones, that she is going to die here. And all she can think of is whether or not he'll remember them.

But Harry triumphs, and in that instant of blazing green light, the tables are suddenly turned. Now she is on the winning side, the heroes' side, and he is the undesirable, the pariah. Now it is all up to her. To remember them. To save them.

But there are so many wounded and so many dead and so many funerals, and for one broken, agonizing, eternal month, she's not sure that "them" is what she wants anymore. There is no denying that half of their whole wore a Dark Mark on his arm. Maybe "them" should be buried with Lupin, with Tonks, with Fred, and smothered in the ground.

And then she receives a note, on fresh parchment, delivered by an anonymous owl.

It's blank. No ink on the page. No fear. No guilt. It's a reminder. A love letter, and a question.

The manor is imposing and cold and solid, but when he comes to the door, he looks nothing but broken, and she realizes that he didn't think she would come. And she suddenly can't understand how she thought she could get through this without him. She collapses into his arms and he holds her close. His fingertips brush her cheekbone and he leans down and whispers in her ear.

Three words this time.

It was never supposed to be anything.

They were never supposed to be anything.

But they are.

They're in love.

Author's Note: I'm actually really proud of this...I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's the first thing I've ever written by hand before typing it up, and it was a really fun experience. Please review and let me know what you think!