Hey guys! First of all I hope everyone 's having wonderful holidays! Second, I do have a couple more Christmas themed stories that I plan to post soon, it's just that I'm really sort of excited to post this one. I don't know where it came from, but I just kind of fell in love with the idea :)
It's a oneshot, so I don't think I'll be continuing. And it's kind of long, which I apologize for in advance! Don't let the word count scare you!
And leave a comment if your please!
365 Days of Granger
It takes him 365 days to realize what he should've known all along.
The second the world stops spinning and he's steady on his feet again, his legs give way and he lands with a thud on his knees. He leans forward, placing his palms flat down on the sand beneath him, gasping for air. He's only vaguely aware of his surroundings-beach sand, the smell of salt and the sound of waves crashing against the shore. He pushes a hand through his blond hair, messing it up and not even caring that he's getting sand all on his scalp.
He's dead. He's a bloody goner now; a blood traitor. He's stupid. Stupidstupidstupid.
Potter's voice, calling out to Dobby and then Granger, pulls him out of his thoughts. He looks up, pushing himself back into a sitting positioning in the sand, watching as The Boy Who Lived cradles a lifeless house elf in his lap. He pulls his legs up to his chest, wrapping his arms around his shins and locking his hands together by his fingers.
"I want to bury him. Properly. Without magic."
He watches as Weasley and Granger kneel next to Potter and the elf. She reaches her arm out to him, brushing her fingers through his hair as she leans back against the redhead. He catches a glimpse of the cut on her neck-the cut made by the blade of the knife which belonged to aunt. The same knife which killed Dobby. The same knife which he watched carve that...horrible name into her forearm.
He remembers her screams. Her cries. Her desperate voice telling his mad, maniacal aunt that they didn't steal anything from her vault. It had all been too much for him-her screaming, her crying, her voice. She wasn't just a stranger. She wasn't just any old muggle he was forced to watch be tortured and killed. He knew her. She was his schoolmate. His childhood rival. [This isn't just about rivalries anymore. This is a whole lot bigger than that.] And it had affected him more than he had ever thought it would.
Thus, he'd saved her-them. He'd slipped into the cellar to retrieve Potter and Weasley, handed them their wands and told them to save her while he created a diversion. He couldn't take it anymore. Any of it. Her screaming and crying and begging had broken him. He reckons it had broken all of them.
And now here he is, alone, with the Golden bloody Trio. With a boy he had once hated, another he had severely disliked, and a girl he had tormented for years. His life now rests in their hands. [He wonders, perhaps, if he'd be safer with the lot of Death Eaters living in his home. Though it isn't much of a home now, is it?]
There's a hand in front of his face, slim and pale and female. He looks up into the wide brown eyes and innocent face of Hermione Granger. Here she is offering him, Draco Malfoy, her hand. Not to slap him, but to help him. She nods at him encouragingly and he takes her hand with his left, pushing himself up to help her with his right. She turns then, walking quickly up the beach to catch up with Weasley and Potter. In the distance he sees a small cottage, sitting up on a small hill just off the shoreline. He sighs softly, shaking his head as he stuffs his hands into his pockets and follows her (and them) up the beach.
They've given him a room. It's small, with a bed wider than it is long, a small (really small) dresser for his belongings (which isn't much-he's had to borrow clothes from Weasley, in fact), an empty shelf and a window with a rather beautiful view of the ocean. He hardly ever leaves the room unless it's to use the loo or to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night to grab a snack, when he knows nobody else is awake (and if they are, they won't be bothering him). He spends a lot of time thinking-about the past, the present, the future-and looking out the window.
In fact he's in the midst of doing just that when there's a knock on his door behind him. That's odd, he thinks. For nobody's done much as given him a second glance since he got here. Why would someone come up to his room? Willingly? Nonetheless... "It's open," he replies.
The door opens and he looks back over his right shoulder, his left leaning against the window frame. It's Granger. She smiles awkwardly, carrying a tray with a cover over top-whether it's to keep whatever's inside cold or warm, he isn't sure. "Hi..." she whispers.
He nods in response, letting his gaze fall to the silver tray. "What's that?"
"Dinner. We've already eaten, but Fleur made some extra for you."
He blinks, licking his lips as he turns away. "I'm not hungry."
"Malfoy, you haven't eaten in days," she points. "At least nothing nutritious-"
"I'm not hungry, Granger," he snaps. His voice is harsher than he had intended it to be, but he doesn't apologize.
"Okay. I'll just leave it on the dresser then, for when you are," she responds.
He hears the soft clinging noise the metal makes when it comes into contact with the top of the dresser before he hears the creak of the door opening. He waits for a second creek, for when she would close the door behind her, but it doesn't come.
"I, um...I wanted to thank you. I haven't properly thanked you for what you did," she whispers, her hand lingering on the doorknob.
His chest tightens.
"It was very brave-"
"It was also very stupid."
" How so?"
He chances a backwards glance to see her staring at him, waiting for a reply with those wide, curious eyes of hers. Turning his back to the window to face her, he folds his arms over his chest. "I've given myself a death wish. Not a single Death Eater will hesitate to kill me. I've betrayed them."
"True Death Eaters don't hesitate to kill anyone. You hesitated, which means you've never truly been a Death Eater."
"The mark on my arm begs to differ."
"The mark on your arm doesn't make you who you are," she whispers.
He nods silently, turning back to look out the window. She looks far to innocent and friendly for him... "Thanks for the food, Granger."
He comes back from taking a walk down the beach to find a book sitting on his bed. He tosses his jacket across the foot of the mattress before reaching for the hard covered novel, trailing his fingers over the letters across the front. The Green Mile. He's never heard of it. Nor has he ever heard of the author.
There's only one person who would give him a book.
He takes the book with him down the hall to her bedroom. He knocks, waiting patiently for a response from the other side. Upon telling him to come in, he pushes the door open-almost afraid of what he might see on the other side. Her room looks a lot like his, except hers has a little desk and a chair. She's sitting cross-legged on her bed, her back against the headboard with a book lying in her lap. Typical, he thinks.
She smiles at him. "Hey."
He nods up the book. "What is this?"
"It's a book-"
"I know what it is, Granger. Why did you put it in my room?"
"I thought you might like to read something, since you spend so much time alone in your room," she replies casually, shrugging her shoulders for emphasis.
He blinks. "Why?"
She shrugs again. "It helps me. I thought maybe it would help you."
"This is a muggle book?"
"Yes. It's one of my favourites," she admits, smiling fondly. "It's got some rather...dark subject matter. But the message within is really quite wonderful. I think you'll enjoy it."
He nods, turning the book towards himself as he looks at it. The truth is, he sort of misses books. Reading. Learning. They're just simple, insignificant things in a time like this, and yet he misses it. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. Tell me what you think of it."
He nods again, turning to leave. When he returns to his bedroom he spends the rest of the night reading.
As well as the following night. And the following day.
On day 29 he finishes the book and gives it back. She lends him another.
He can't sleep. Not that he usually can sleep, but he's been tossing and turning since the moment he turned in. So instead of continuing to toss and turn, he gives up. Instead, he tiptoes downstairs to the small kitchen. He expects to be alone, but what he sees through the kitchen window surprises him. It's 2 o'clock in the morning and Granger is sitting outside in one of the chairs on the back porch looking out across the horizon, her body wrapped in a throw blanket. He hesitates at first, contemplating on ignoring it, grabbing his nightly glass of milk and two cookies, and going back upstairs where he can pretend he never saw her. Instead he forgets about his milk and his cookies and he joins her on the porch.
She merely looks behind her when he opens the door. He nods in acknowledgment and she nods back as he walks around to the chair next to her, only separated by a small side table. They sit in silence for a few moments, both of them watching the waves of the ocean crash against the shore. It's become his favourite thing, watching the ocean do its natural thing. Then he looks at her. Her eyes are red and puffy like she's been crying for days and there's bags under them like she hasn't slept in weeks. And then he hears his voice.
"What are you doing out here?"
"I can't sleep. You?" Her voice is nothing more than a whisper, and it isn't because she's trying not the wake the others.
"Harry and Ron have been gone a few hours and it already feels like weeks," she says, her voice thick and hoarse.
He shifts uncomfortably in his chair. "They'll be fine," he replies shortly, in an awkward attempt to make make her feel better.
"This is the first time I've been away from them for more than a couple hours since this whole thing started."
He nods silently. Agreeing.
"This is probably the first time you've been away from your parents too, huh?"
He nods again.
"If you ever want to talk about it-"
"I don't," he replies quickly. He doesn't want to talk about it and he's pretty sure that she really doesn't want to hear it.
"Do you miss them?" she asks softly. When he doesn't answer she draws in a deep, shaky breath. "I miss mine. But there's a weird sort of comfort in the fact that they don't miss me."
He looks at her, confused. "They don't?"
She shakes her head. He catches a glimpse of a tear rolling down her cheek in the moonlight. "I Obliviated their memories of me. As far as they're concerned, I don't exist and I never have. They don't know a thing about the war or this world either."
"To protect them."
She nods, smiling softly.
He knows what it's like to do anything to protect your family. Even if it nearly destroys you.
He walks out onto the porch, carrying two glasses of milk. He pauses when he doesn't see her sitting in her usual chair and instead sees her sitting in the distance in the sand, looking out across the ocean. Confused, he walks towards her, shuffling his bare feet through the sand. She looks backwards at him, smiling weakly as he hands her a glass. "Thanks," she whispers.
He nods, dropping into the sand beside her. He bends his legs, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees. "What are you doing all the way out here?"
"I felt like being closer to the ocean," she whispers, taking a sip of her milk.
"Why, so that the water might swallow you whole?"
She glares at him. "That's morbid."
"The world is morbid, Granger. Besides, don't tell me you've never thought about it."
"Hmm, just me then," he mutters, smirking slightly as he looks out over the horizon. He looks sideways at her when she shifts next to him, digging a shallow hole in the sand to place her glass before pushing herself to her feet. She drops her throw blanket on the ground and begins to run towards the water, her dark brown curls bounding and blowing behind her. "Granger! What are you doing?" he calls after her.
"I'm going for a swim!" she yells back.
"In the middle of the night? The water's probably freezing!"
"So?" she giggles, tossing him a backwards glance. "C'mon!"
"No way! You're mental, Granger!"
"We're all mental, Draco. Taking a swim in the ocean in the middle of the night has nothing to do with it."
He smirks, watching as she splashes through the water without a care in the world. It's moments like this, when watching her act so carefree, that one would never guess that the world as they know it is in turmoil.
She wants to go on a rescue mission. Potter and Weasley have been gone for over a month now, and everyone's beginning to worry tenfold. Especially Granger. She isn't sleeping-not that she was sleeping well before. She's hardly eating; he's watched her appetite get worse and worse. And she's beginning to get worry lines.
Now, for the past hour, she's been talking nonsense about organizing a rescue mission. While her intentions are noble and brave, they're also, well, stupid.
"That's the worst idea you could possibly come up with," he tells her, kicking at the sand beneath his feet.
"Oh? Why?" She stops walking, folding her arms over her chest defensively.
He sighs, turning to face her. "Because a rescue mission is always more dangerous than the mission itself. Because you're emotional, and if you go in with your emotions on your sleeve you're as good as dead. Besides...if Voldemort really did capture and kill Potter, or even Weasley, the entire world would know about it."
She stares at him, narrow eyed but not glaring. Then she nods, falling into step with him once more. "Plus we don't even know where they are..."
"They'll be fine, Granger. They always are."
Two hours later, while the rest of them are eating lunch, a bloodied, bruised and dirty Potter and Weasley duo stumble through the cottage's front door. And Draco ignores the tight feeling in his chest when Granger throws herself into the redhead's arms.
"They're never going to trust me, you know." He looks across the kitchen at her as she prepares a snack of vegetables and onion dip.
"Potter. Weasley. I'll always be a Death Eater to them."
"They just...they haven't spent as much time with you as I have," she replies, sending him a weak smile over her shoulder.
"Thank goodness for that..." he mutters, crossing his arms over his chest.
"They'll come around, eventually. You have to understand that you've been enemies for seven years-"
"You trust me," he points out. "Why?"
"Because you saved my life."
"That's not a reason. I also saved Potter and Weasley. And myself."
She turns to look at him, leaning her hip against the counter. "You didn't kill Dumbledore when you had the chance. You didn't identify Harry when you had the chance. And you sacrificed your life to save the lives of three people you've never even liked," she says softly, tilting her head to the side.
He nods silently, slipping his arm around her shoulders to snatch a carrot.
She hits him on the arm playfully before turning serious once more. "You think yourself a monster, Draco. But you aren't. You never have been."
He doesn't know how much of that he really believes. But he's trying. Truly.
Everyone-Potter, Weasley, Granger, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Lupin and Tonks and Bill and Fleur, as well as himself-are gathered around the kitchen table. Potter has come up with a new plan. A plan involving three people. Potter himself, Weasley and-
-"I'll do it." Now him.
"What?" Granger asks nobody in particular, her eyes wide with shock. "No, you can't-"
"Yes, I can."
"But-you..." she trails off, her gaze shifting from him to Potter and back again. "If this is some stupid way to prove yourself, you have nothing to prove."
He shakes his head, a disbelieving smirk playing on his thin lips. "I have everything to prove-"
"No. You're not going," she says firmly.
"Well, unfortunately, you can't tell me what to do, Granger," he drawls, pushing his hands into the pockets of his trousers. "I'm going. Besides, you said it yourself. I haven't spent enough time with them for them to trust me-"
"So that's what this is about. You're going to risk your life just so that they'll trust you!"
"This is a war, Granger. Lives are in danger all the time. Mine shouldn't be any different," he points out fairly.
She glares at him, shaking her head in disapproval before spinning on her heal and walking out of the kitchen, leaning a stunned crowd.
He's barely conscious when Potter and Weasley drag him into Shell Cottage. He's bloody and bruised and he's pretty sure one of his ribs is broken-if not all-and his arms are thrown around their necks to keep his legs from giving away underneath him. His vision is fuzzy-sometimes completely black and he can hardly concentrate on his surroundings.
He struggles to concentrate on the voices-more specifically on hers.
"What happened? Is he okay?" she asks, her voice strained with worry-and is that fear? "Why-"
"He'll be fine, 'Mione," Potter tells her calmly. "He just took a nasty blow to the head."
"W-what happened?" she asks again.
"The slimy Slytherin git saved our arses, that's what." Weasley's disdainful-yet relieved-voice is unmistakable.
"Yeah, it was bloody brilliant too."
"Yes well now his 'bloody brilliance' has injured him," she mutters. He hardly feels her soft fingers brushing against his forehead. "Idiot."
Seconds later he blacks out.
"You're awake!" she breathes, rushing into his bedroom just as he begins to stir.
He struggles to sit up, smirking at her. "You seem surprised."
"Relieved, actually," she admits, her voice but a whisper as she sits in the wooden chair next to his bed. "They said you would be fine, but..."
"C'mon Granger, you know me better than that. I wouldn't leave you all by your lonesome. Who else would torment you?" he teases, laying his head back against the pillows. He looks at her through his eyelashes.
"Good point," she giggles, rolling her eyes.
"I sort of wish I was still asleep though. I think that's the most I've slept in ages," he admits.
He grins. "Yeah, you look tired. Frizzy hair, bags under your eyes, wrinkles-"
"I do not have wrinkles!" slaps him in the shoulder, smiling nonetheless.
"Ouch! Don't hurt the wounded, Granger," he pouts, rubbing his arm.
She giggles again, leaning back in her chair.
He thinks that it's probably the most beautiful sound he's ever heard. Definitely.
He's walking along the beach, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his muggle jeans when he hears it. Her loud, innocent, magical laughter. A smile tugs at his lips despite himself as he keeps walking, following the sound towards the rocks and cliffs near the shoreline. Just around the corner, against a wall of rock and sand, are Granger Weasley. Her back is against the wall, his arms resting on her hips inching up her shirt. They're snogging. He blinks, turning to leave when he hears her voice calling his name. He takes a deep breath, turning around to face them. "Hey, Granger. Weasley."
"Malfoy," Weasley mutters.
"What are you doing?" she asks, oblivious to her boyfriend's annoyance.
"I was just...taking a walk. So I'll just head back now-"
"Nonsense!" She protests. "We prepared a picnic and we've got loads of left overs. Have some."
He, unlike Granger, notices the glare the redhead sends the back of her head. "I just ate, but thank you."
"Oh, okay. We'll see you at dinner then."
He nods once, avoiding her gaze, then walks away. The giggle that escapes her lips tugs at his heartstrings. The laughter that leaves Weasley's makes his chest tight.
Potter has come up with another mission, this one involving his aunt's vault. Something about breaking in to find a Horcrux. Naturally, Granger volunteers herself to go with them. And naturally, he refuses to let her. "No. Absolutely not. You're not going, so forget it."
She rolls her eyes. "Draco, c'mon-"
"No, Granger! It's too dangerous," he tells her firmly, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Well that didn't stop you last time-"
"That was different!"
"How is it different?" she asks incredulously, her eyes narrowing at him.
"This is my aunts vault, we're talking about. And I dunno if you've forgotten the last time you saw her, but-"
"Of course I haven't forgotten!"
"Then act like it!" he growls back angrily. "This is a fucking suicide mission and you know it!"
"I know what I'm doing, Draco. I'm going."
He shakes his head, his hands balling into fists. "You're mental, you know that? Mental," he sneers.
"Everyone's mental," she points out, her voice soft and annoying in that know-it-all tone. "Going-"
"Shut up, Granger."
He sees her standing on the porch from down near the shoreline. He's still mad at her, but he smiles anyway. She smiles back. Then she's running and throwing herself into his arms. He catches her, his arms wrapping around her waist. "You're safe," he murmurs into her thick, curly hair.
"You sound surprised," she teases.
She giggles softly, pulling away to look at him properly. It's only been four days since they left on their mission, but it feels longer. "Ron took care of me. Not that he had to," she says, smiling.
He looks over her shoulder at a very frustrated looking Weasley standing on the porch, his arms crossed over his chest. "And Weasley and Potter, they're..?"
He nods. "Did you-"
"We've got it," she grins proudly, happily. "We just have to destroy it."
It's almost 9 o'clock when he decides to go down for breakfast. He knows that if he isn't down there by 9:30, Granger will burst into his bedroom and force him to eat. He chuckles softly, shaking his head as he starts down the stairs-and then he freezes, hearing voices from inside her bedroom. He tiptoes closer to the door, which is only open a few centimeters. Peering inside, he sees Weasley leaning against her dresser as she fixes her hair in the mirror in the corner of room.
"What's going on with the two of you, huh?"
"Wha-nothing, Ron. Nothing's going on."
"That's not what it looks like."
"It's not what it looks like either."
"Then what's with all the secrecy? Huh? And the walks along the beach? And the midnight talks? And the-"
"We're friends! That's all, we're just friends."
"I don't think 'friends' is all that he wants from you, Hermione."
"I'm with you, Ron."
Draco swallows the snitch sized lump in his throat before turning away and going back to his room. Suddenly he's not so hungry.
"You're avoiding me."
He looks up at her from his sitting position in the sand briefly before looking back out over the ocean. "I'm not avoiding you."
"And I'm not an idiot, Draco. I know when I'm being avoided." She sits down next to him, straightening out her jeans as she folds them in front of her.
"Alright fine, I'm avoiding you."
He sighs loudly, rolling his eyes. "Why does it matter?"
"Because we're friends. And it matters to me."
He scoffs, rolling his eyes as he pushes himself to his feet. "That's why," he mutters bitterly.
"What, because you matter to me?" she asks defensively, pushing herself to her feet as well.
"Because we're friends!"
"If you don't want to be friends then just say so. I'll leave you alone-"
He kisses her, silencing her at the same time. He buries both hands in her hair, gripping the back of her neck as he moves his lips against hers. She reacts slowly, moaning as she kisses him back. Her hands grip the front of his shirt, tugging at it as he pulls away, his eyes closed. "I can't be just friends with you," he whispers. Lowering his hands, he grabs hers to make her let go before dropping them at her sides. "That's why."
He walks into his bedroom to find her sitting on his bed. He pauses, his hand lingering on the doorknob as he looks at her. "Granger."
She smiles awkwardly, looking up at him with tears in her eyes. "I just... Ron and I broke up," he whispers.
"Hmm. That would explain his especially sour mood," he mutters, remembering the glaring and snapping from the redhead earlier that morning.
"Yes, well... He wanted me to choose."
"To choose what?" He asks casually, leaving the door open-more to control himself than anything.
"Between my relationship with him and my friendship with you," she admits softly.
He blinks. "Oh."
"I couldn't choose."
"I..." he trails off, shaking his head as he runs his hands through his hair. "Granger I can't choose for you," he whispers finally, avoiding her gaze.
"I know. I just thought you should know," she whispers, pushing herself to her feet. She smiles weakly through tears as she slips past him.
He has half a mind to chase after her.
He rests his head on the wall behind him, looking sideways at the redhead next to him. They've been on a mission for six days, three days of which have been spent stuck in a mineshaft somewhere in Germany. Weasley has hardly even spoken to him to the entire time. "She loves you, you know," Draco mutters, looking up at the ceiling.
"Granger. She loves you."
"Yeah...but she fancies you," Weasley mutters back.
Draco smirks. "That doesn't even make sense, Weasley."
"Sure it does. If she truly loved me, she wouldn't have fallen for you."
"She chose you," the redhead says casually. Though they both know this is anything but a casual conversation.
Draco looks at him again. "She told me she couldn't choose."
"She didn't. But by not choosing me, she chose you."
"Right. Well I don't think she sees it that way," he admits.
Weasley scoffs, rolling his eyes. "Of course she does, she's just waiting for you to make a move. In fact I'm sort surprised you haven't."
Draco blinks, licking his lips awkwardly. "I kissed her. Before."
Weasley clears his throat awkwardly. "When we get out of here, you need to tell her how you feel."
"And if I don't know how I feel?"
The man shrugs next to him. "Show her."
He nods, taking a deep breath. "How do you know we'll get out of here?"
Weasley grins. "I have a plan."
The second the pair of them land and the world stops spinning, he makes a beeline for the front door, leaving Weasley to snicker knowingly behind him. He pushes the door open, not even caring that it flies roughly and quickly into the attaching wall. Granger is all he cares about. All he thinks about. All he sees. She's standing in the doorway between the living room and the kitchen. Her words die on her lips and she turns away from Fleur to look at him, relief and hope shining in her suddenly wet, chocolaty brown eyes. He strides towards her with purpose, stopping only when he reaches her to grab her face tenderly in his hands. He strokes her cheeks with his thumbs and presses his forehead to hers. She looks at him with wide, curious eyes. And then he kisses her. Passionately. Desperately. Hungrily. She moans into his mouth, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him closer. He stumbles, pressing her against the doorframe with his body as his right hand goes out to steady them against the wood. Just as quickly as it happens, it stops, both of them breathing heavily.
"I thought you were avoiding me," she whispers, slipping her hands down his shoulders to his chest.
"I was. But I figured I'd made you suffer enough." He smirks. His voice is rough with lust.
"Me? What about you?" She asks defensively, sort of suggestively.
"Yeah, I guess me too," he admits, smiling at her.
She giggles softly, reaching her left hand around his neck and playing with the hair on the back of his head.
"You should thank Weasley for this."
Her gaze flickers behind him for a moment and then she looks back into his eyes. "Ron? Why?"
"It's because of him that we're both still alive."
He smirks again. "Between you and me, I think he's been spending too much with you. He's becoming sort of brilliant."
"You're such a git," she laughs, swatting him in the arm before pushing away gently and crossing the room to welcome-and thank-the redhead.
Her hand is warm in his. Her fingers woven between his, fitting perfectly. Like his wand to his wand hand. They're walking along the beach-their stretch of it anyway. The weather is colder now, the window blowing strongly, the water crashing against the shore. He raises his eyebrows suddenly and his lips form a small, mischievous smile.
She looks confused. "What?"
In one swift movement, he throws her over his shoulder, kicks off his shoes, throws hers to the ground and begins to run towards the ocean.
"Are you mad? It's the middle of October, we'll catch colds!"
He ignores her, running into the smooth, calm water, splashing it about. She squeals because of the coldness of the water, but then laughs as he spins around in circles before setting her on her feet in the water. It reaches her knees, soaking the bottom of her skirt.
"You're completely mad," she whispers, shivering slightly as she leans into him.
He grins, capturing his lips in hers. "We're all mad, aren't we?"
"Some, more than others."
"You like it," he teases.
She smiles, burying her face in his chest.
He's covered in blood and dirt and soot. He coughs, his legs threatening to give way as he struggles to carry her weight with his already weak frame. He's barely aware that Potter and Weasley help him place her on the couch, his gaze (and his mind and his soul) is too focused on Granger to care how she gets there. He falls to his knees next to her, brushing her dirty, matted hair out of her pale face. "Wake up, Granger. Please wake up," he whispers desperately, his voice thick with tears and weak with fear.
"Malfoy, what happened? Tell us what happened," Potter demands.
"I-I knew I shouldn't have let her come. I knew..."
"Why? What happened?"
He can't stop shaking. His arms. His hands. His legs. His chest is tight and his stomach is weak and his heart's ready to burst. "She let her emotions take control and jumped in front of a curse that was meant for me. I cursed him back, and then I grabbed her and disapparated as fast as I could," he mutters, his gaze never leaving her face-he dirty, bloody, bruised and beautiful face. "She's gonna be okay, right?"
He can't remember ever being so fucking scared. And that's saying something.
They're in the kitchen eating breakfast some time later. She's better now; it's like nothing even happened. He isn't sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. His sleeves are rolled up and she catches a glimpse it. He sees her and tries to cover it up quickly.
"Wait-don't," she whispers, pushing herself to her feet and then across the small kitchen. She grabs his hand, lifting his arm to look at it.
"Stop..." He whispers.
She ignores him, tracing her fingers around the edges of the ugly skull. "It's sort...beautiful, in its own twisted sort of way."
"It's disgusting, Granger," he spits. "It's vile and it's sickening and there's nothing beautiful about it."
She ignores his tone. "Does it hurt?"
"Only when he calls them."
"Which is often enough, isn't it?"
He shrugs, flinching as she bends down to kiss it. "Stop that-don't...do that," he mutters, pulling his arm out of her grasp roughly.
"Why?" she asks curiously.
"Because you shouldn't even have to see it, that's why!"
"Just...think of it as a scar, Draco. Like mine." She rolls up her sleeve. He winces visibly when he sees the faint, pink letters carved into her otherwise flawless skin. "Neither one of us wants it, but we have to live with it. It only shows what we've done, what we've accomplished and where we've been. It doesn't make us who we are."
He wonders if she's right, or if she's just saying that to make him feel better. To make herself feel better.
She climbs into bed with him, but instead of curling up in his arms like he expects her to, she straddles his hips and snogs him. He kisses back, his left arm snaking its way around her waist and his right hand burying itself in her hair. She tugs at the bottom of his shirt, and immediately, he stops her. He knows what she's trying to do and as much as he wants to do it too...he can't. "Granger. Gran-what are you doing?"
"Isn't it obvious?" She breathes, trying to ignore him.
"Wait-stop, Granger. What's wrong?" he grabs both of her hands, running his thumbs over the tops.
"Don't lie to me. I know you. Something's wrong, what is it?"
She sighs, taking one of her hands out of his grasp and running it through her hair. "I...we might die in four days. We might be dead before we ever have to chance to."
"You don't know that."
"You don't know otherwise. I...I don't want to die a virgin, Draco," she admits, her voice but a whisper. "And I want you to...I want you to be the one."
He blinks, taken aback by her confession. "Y-you're a virgin? You and Weasley never..?"
She shakes her head.
"Oh." He'd just assumed...well.
"I will be the one," he insists softly, shifting into a sitting position. She falls into his lap. "After the battle-"
"Granger think logically, here, okay?"
"No, you're not. You're basing this desire on fear. Nothing good can come from that."
"It's not only fear," she argues.
"Not entirely, I'm sure. But if we wait...it'll give us something beautiful to look forward to in the end, you know?" He presses his forehead against hers. "I'm not going anywhere," he promises. "We can wait."
The truth is, and he'll never admit it, he's scared. He's scared that by taking their relationship to the next level right now, it's like saying goodbye.
He doesn't want to say goodbye.
It's the final battle. The Hogwarts castle is in the midst of being put under protection charms. Suits of armor and knights made of stone are securing the castle grounds as the students-all but the first and second years-man their posts defensively. Everybody is ready. And at the same time nobody is really ready.
Draco is frantically searching for her. He knows where she is-she's going down to the Chamber of Secrets with Weasley to get a Basilisk fang. It's fighting his way through the crowds that's the tough part. "Granger!" He exclaims when he catches a glimpse of the back of her head. Her hair is in a braid, her curly brown locks kept tame.
She whirls around, her eyes wide with something he can't quite identify. "Draco! What are you doing here? You're supposed to be with Harry-"
He reaches her, panting to catch his breath. "I-I know. I just, I-oh hell-" He cuts himself short, for he can't find the words to explain himself, by pressing his lips to hers in a fierce, fiery kiss. He loses one hand in her hair as the other curls around her waist, pulling her tightly against him-as close as he can get her. He pours his heart and soul into, like it's the last time he'll ever kiss her. He desperately hopes that it isn't. "Promise me you'll be careful," he murmurs when he pulls away. "That you won't do anything stupid-"
"I promise," she whispers back, massaging the back of his neck with her fingers.
"I need you to keep your head, Granger... I need you to keep focused-"
"I promise. You as well."
"Of course." He kisses her forehead, keeping his eyes closed for a moment as he struggles to hold back his emotions. His eyes are stinging with tears as he turns away from her. "Take care of yourself."
"Wait, Draco, wait!" Her voice is desperate. Broken.
"Malfoy!" Harry's voice is determined and frantic.
"In a minute..." he mutters to the raven haired boy waiting for him. He looks back at Hermione, his grey eyes mirroring her brown ones. "I gotta go, Granger." His voice breaks, thick with tears he refuses to let betray him.
"I know." He smiles weakly. She smiles back and a tear slips down her cheek, rolling down her lips. "I'll see you after," he promises.
"Harry Potter is dead!"
Draco's blood freezes. Hermione gasps next to him, her right hand shaking as it covers her mouth while she holds back a sob. He grabs her left hand in a vain attempt to comfort her. Weasley looks like he's going to puke and young Ginny screams in agony.
Voldemort scoffs at her emotions before he notices him. A former Death Eater standing amongst the Order. The light. "Well well, Lucius. It seems that your son has found...love. With a Mudblood," the snake sneers.
Draco growls in his chest, stepping in front of her protectively, possessively, and she squeezes his hand, placing her other on his shoulder.
"Oh Draco...I had such high hopes for you," the man-who isn't a man at all, but a monster-says with a faint tone of disappointment. "However lucky for you, and because your father has been so...faithful to me for so long, however pathetic, I've decided to let you redeem yourself." he holds his arm out to him, beckoning him forward. "Come, young Malfoy, and join us. And I'll forget about your little lapse in judgment."
Draco wants to vomit. And spit at him. And fucking kill him all at the same time. But he knows what they do not.
"Come, Draco." His mother's voice is soft and pleading as she holds her hand out to him. Begging him.
He can only shake his head.
"Very well," Voldemort sneers easily. "Does anyone else wish to join us and live to see another day?"
Neville steps forward then, shocking nearly everyone. He makes a speech about love and honor and friendship. Quite honestly, Draco never thought he had it in him, this bravery. But then, he never saw it in himself either.
What happens next happens so quickly that it's all a blur.
Harry jumps out of Hagrid's arms; he's alive.
A number of Death Eaters disapparate in fear and cowardice.
Voldemort scream, angry. Furious. Afraid.
Draco grabs Hermione and pulls her inside to safety, pressing her against the wall next to the broken door.
She fights against him, screaming and crying. "We have to find Harry! We have to kill the snake-"
"We will-we will, Luv, I promise. Just-"
For the second time today, his blood freezes. Granger stops flailing as he turns around to see his parents are standing in the doorway.
"Why, Draco?" His mother asks, her eyes wet with tears of betrayal.
He's never liked to see his mother cry. But this is different. He swallows a lump in his throat, holding his head high with pride. "You guys made your decisions. I never got to make mine. Until now."
"Draco I have to go," Hermione whispers behind him.
He nods, taking her hand. He nods at his parents then, before following her up the stairs to find and then kill the snake.
He stands with shoulder against the window frame in his bedroom in Shell Cottage. They've returned, if only for the night, before going back to Hogwarts to help clean up. Instead of watching the ocean, though, he watches Granger sleeping silently in his bed. He watches her chest rise and fall with the steadiness of her breathing. He swallows her beauty and her purity-despite their previous actions-with his eyes as they roam over her body, covered only by the white cotton sheets.
He can no longer imagine his life without her.
He no longer wants to. He loves her, he thinks. He loves her heart and her courage and her soul. He has her now, she's his. He knows she won't leave him. And he's too selfish to leave her.
She stirs, stretching her arms out above her head. Her eyes flutter open, squinting in the sunlight pouring in through window behind him and she smiles. "Hey.."
"Hey, beautiful," he whispers.
She blushes. It's adorable that after giving herself to him-after he gave himself to her-she still manages to blush around him. "What are you doing?"
"About what?" she asks curiously, tilting her head.
"Our freedom. You."
"W-What about me?" She sounds nervous.
He smiles, crawling back onto the bed, slipping his arm around her waist and pulling her body flush against his. He nuzzles her face with his, pressing his forehead against hers. "About how lucky I am." He kisses her softly, innocently. "I dunno what I've done to deserve you."
She smiles, tears shining in her eyes.
Then he falls serious. There are more important matters to discuss. "I talked to Potter. He's gonna get the Ministry to look into finding your parents. And when they do I promise we'll get them back," he whispers. They'd gone to her house earlier to find it empty. Her parents had moved. She had cried for hours, refusing to leave as she told him stories of her childhood before finally allowing him to disapparate them out of there.
She kisses him, a tear slipping down her cheek as she closes her eyes. "I love you."
Next to her wonderful, beautiful, toxic little giggle, that is his favourite sound in the whole world.
In just 365 days…