He had seen her. Regardless of all the promises he had made to himself, he hadn't been able to resist taking a quick peek and he regretted it instantly. She had been standing numbly in the doorway, frozen in shock as her mind seemingly failed to comprehend what was happening before her, unable to reconcile the images to the passionate and tender lover he had been. He couldn't take his eyes off her, even now. Emotions flitted quickly across her face, as if she couldn't decide which to stick with – disbelief, hurt, anger. Comeon, he silently urged her. She couldn't just stand there and watch. He hadn't spent so long planning just for it to fall through. He had deliberately started distancing himself from her, all the little things he knew would add up – not catching her eye in class and winking anymore, barely initiating any contact, constantly telling her he was busy. Why couldn't she just be like any other girl? Why did she have to be so unique? Anyone else would probably have rushed into the room already and started raging and screaming at him, even hitting or hexing him. He would have preferred that, really, if only to prove himself wrong. Deep in his heart, he knew that was why he had fallen in love with her. He had never meant to, never wanted to but perhaps it had never been his choice to make.
She wasn't and would never be the typical female. In all his sixteen years, he had never met anyone else like her, brave enough to stand up to him, intelligent enough to intrigue him. He gave himself a mental shake, then deliberately thrust harder into the girl beneath him, whispering into her ear, "Scream for me." And indeed, managed to elicit a much louder moan from her. Out of the corner of his eye, he finally saw Hermione unfreeze and Disillusion herself. He finished off as quickly as he could and sent the girl out, waiting for the inevitable confrontation. Soon enough, she stepped into the room and gave him a tight slap reminiscent of what had happened in third year.
"Bastard," she hissed, to which he made no response, keeping the promise he had made to himself this time. He couldn't afford to jeopardize his plans like he knew he would if he opened his mouth. The urge to defend himself, make excuses and plead for her to stay was too strong. He needed her like he had never needed anyone else, but he had to do this. He had to keep her safe. "I'm leaving." And it was that thought which he repeated to himself as he forced himself to keep still and watch her walk out.
They had never really talked about it, but he knew what she expected him to do, to switch sides and join the Light. But he couldn't. He had to be loyal to his family too. He loved his mother, if nothing else, and he knew that she would never leave his father, and his father would never agree to it. Apparently his pride dictated that he had to stick with the path he had chosen, uncaring of the fact that he was dragging them down with him. Morever, although his father would probably never win any model parent award, he had never treated Draco himself badly. He was simply aloof and cold, the way Malfoys were supposed to be. He knew he could never bring himself to kill his father, if it ever came to that, thus there being yet another reason leading to the formation of the plan he had just carried out. If he ever met Hermione on the battlefield…he would let her kill him. For he would rather suffer a thousand Crucios than to have to kill her, to have to watch her in pain in any way. In fact, he could never have carried his plan out if he hadn't been convinced that there was no other way. Mental rather than physical hurt.
She stumbled out of the Pensieve with his note clutched to her chest, crumpling onto the floor as she finally allowed herself to break down and sob freely for the first time since the day she had found him cheating on her. There and then, she had vowed that she would never let any man into her heart again – she hadn't believed the tales she'd heard over the years, but oh, how it hurt. She never wanted to feel like that again. No guy could be worth that amount of pain. But he…she wished she had suffered more now. How she wished she could take back her words. He had to have felt even worse than her, to have to act like he didn't care and push her away like that, and she certainly hadn't made it any easier for him. Tears rolled down her cheeks in a steady stream as she remembered. The first time…she recalled her surprise at seeing him in their common room – sure, they shared it but it was the first time she had seen him in here. She had naturally assumed it was because he hadn't wanted to "catch her Mudblood germs". It was an even greater surprise upon her discovery that he was drunk. His hair was uncharacteristically mussed and he looked like he had blusher on. He was sprawled beside the fireplace with the bottle of Firewhisky still clutched in his hand, staring blankly ahead. Against her better judgement, she edged closer.
"You should go to bed, Malfoy. I can't be bothered to lecture you about how alcohol isn't allowed in school." She turned to head back to her room, but he caught her arm and pulled her down with surprising force.
"Why shouldn't I, Malfoy? Aren't you afraid you'll be infected by my Mudblood germs?"
She met his gaze, fully intending to sneer at him contemptuously - it would do no harm for him to have a taste of his own medicine after all – but instead, found herself drowning in them. Their intensity was astounding, and by the flickering firelight, the normal stone grey looked like pools of liquid silver instead. She startled at his next words.
"Never meant it…Mmm, beautiful."
She barely had time to surmise that he was probably talking about calling her a Mudblood and that he was calling herbeautiful before his lips caught hers, and drove further thought out of her mind. In her daze, she recalled a conversation she had once had with Ginny and vaguely thinking that it was true, indeed.
"He'sahorribleprat,yeah,butyouhavetoadmitheishandsome,isn'the?Ibethe'sagreatkissertoo,judgingbyhowfirmthoselipslookandtherumoursI'veheard…" When he finally released her, both of them were gasping for breath. She had then unsteadily retreated back to her room to mull over his words and possible actions he would take the next morning when he was sober again.
Later on in their relationship, she had found out that he had been drinking that night as he had been upset over the letter that his father had sent him which informed him he was due to take the Mark at the end of the year.
"Ifyou'rereadingthis,Hermione,Iamnolongerinthisworld.ViewthememoriesinthePensieve…I'msorry.Inevermeanttohurtyouinanyway.Iloveyou." The simple note had been sent to her together with the vial of familiar silver liquid. It hadn't been signed, but the elegant script was unmistakably Draco's. She had spent enough time studying with him and checking over his work to recognise it, and besides, who else could have sent this to her? She ran her fingers over the stiff parchment, seeking comfort in the fact that he had once touched it. As much as she hated him for doing this to her now – didn't he know that he had been everything? – she understood. He had done it to protect her, to save her from the whispers and cutting remarks the world would have thrown at them had they ever come out in the open about their relationship. For the world would have never understood their love. No matter what he did, it would always be overshadowed by his family line. He would always be seen only as a Death Eater's son.
"I won't forget you, Draco. I'll always love you, no matter what." She whispered it into the darkness of the night, memories of their love washing over her, remembering how, in the early days of their relationship, he had whispered the exact same words into her ear, his arms around her as they stood watching the night sky. She should have known then, suspected something was up, for his words had sounded as if he was saying goodbye, and he had been. He never said anything he didn't mean, and she had been foolish to overlook that in her hurt. It was too late now, to change anything. But she would remember, and mourn his memory, even if no one else ever understood why.