Prologue: The Mudblood

Hermione ran from the cheers of the Gryffindor common room, hot tears soaking her face. How dare he snog Lavender Brown right in front of her? She hated him. She entered the Potions dungeons, as she knew they would be empty, and cried, only to find out she wasn't alone like she had expected.

"Granger?" Hermione found herself face to face with Draco Malfoy, who was eyeing her tears as though they were the most terrifying sight he'd ever seen. "Malfoy?" she looked at him and wiped her tears quickly, as though trying to hide them. Her tears bothered him, he had an urge to wipe them away. Don't be an idiot, Draco. When have you ever had a conversation to her in which you didn't call her a Mudblood? You can't let her being upset bother you... There are far more important things to worry about..Somehow, he found himself place his hand on her shoulder comfortingly, completely against his will. The Vanishing Cabinet vanished from his thoughts, and in that moment he knew all that mattered.

Hermione Granger was crying, and he had to know why.

Hermione looked at him, completely confused. He had never, ever, been nice to her before. What was he doing? Was he trying to comfort her? She looked up at him, embarrassed that she was crying in front of him.

"Herm-" I have never even called her that before! Draco marveled in his head. What am I doing? "Hermione... Are you alright?" What a stupid question! Of course she isn't alright! She's crying!

'Does he actually care? What is this?' she mused as his troubled grey eyes stared into hers. "I'm fine." she lied, shrugging his hand off her shoulder. Sobbing like that doesn't seem fine.", he said awkwardly after a few moments passed in silence. Hermione glared at him. "What do you care, Draco? Besides, even if you do, it's none of your business." Hermione began to walk away. Draco knew she was right; it wasn't any of his business... Then why did he find himself wanting to stop her, to hold her hand and pull her back? Why was he talking to such a filthy Muggle-born? Why did he find himself caring for her tears? Why, when his family was in such grave danger?

Hermione stopped in her tracks as she realised where she was headed off to. She realised how everyone in the girls' dormitory would be talking about the now-famous Ron and Lavender post-Quidditch victory kiss. How the girls would be gossiping avidly and discussing every little detail. Worse, Lavender herself may have found time to take her tongue out of Ronald's mouth and it would be gabbling about the experience while the rest of the Gryffindor girls would sigh dreamily. No, she had to stay here. She wished Harry were here instead of this new, insufferable Draco... Her best friend would understand her tears, he wouldn't bother her with incessant, unwanted questions, he would simply know why and comfort her. Or Ginny, the only person she confided her secrets to. Ginny would've been even better... Then it occurred to her that they both were on the Quidditch team too, and they would still be celebrating in the common room.

The only person who was as miserable as her was... The young man sitting on the floor with his head between his knees, a position Muggles would often sit in after they had consumed too much alcohol and declared themselves 'hungover'.

A strange curiosity immersed Hermione now. She knew this feeling; Draco's inner turmoil was a challenge to figure out: like a charm she couldn't understand how to perform, or a particularly hard riddle. She immediately forgot all about Ron and knelt beside him, faintly remembering all Harry had said about Draco being up to something, and neither her nor Ron believing him... About how he'd disappear off the Marauder's Map and him being a Death Eater. Now was her chance to figure it all out.

"Draco...", she murmured softly and rubbed his arm as she slid up close to him. "What is it?"

He looked up, and to Hermione's surprise, his eyes were rimmed red. He had been sobbing. All of Draco's will wanted to get away from the disgusting touch of the Mudblood, but he found himself unable to do so. He crumpled under her touch and tears escaped from his eyes freely.

"Oh, Draco...", Hermione murmured again, hoping she looked compassionate, rather than starving for knowledge, and rubbed his arm again. His wrist was pearly white underneath the emerald robe of Slytherin house. Draco Malfoy, crying? Calling me by my name? She grudgingly admitted to herself how much she liked the sound of it in his voice. Or was it just the shock from not being sneered at the moment he laid eyes on me? What is happening? The one who would be my friend and always stand up for me started snogging random girls to make me jealous and the one who taunted me and sweared at me cared for my tears and now lay so close to me that I could hear his heartbeat?

Soon, she rested her head on his shoulder and a teardrop of his landed on her cheek, which he touched to wipe the tear away with his hand. He let his hand stay there, and before they knew it, they were both leaning in, their nose touching, their lips about to meet, when both of them realised what they were doing. Hermione instantly sat up straight, and began rubbing Draco's arm like before. He let it stay loose, away from his body, making sure she wouldn't lean on him again, and now the cloth of his robe and his shirt's sleeve rolled freely up and down his arm.

It felt good, it felt warm and comforting, Hermione's touch. He felt his tension lessen a little, he felt slightly lighter, he began to see hope. He would tell his mother to somehow break his father out of Azkaban, and they would go into hiding... He could act as though he knew nothing about it, he could pretend to still be on the mission... then Snape could finish the task... he could leave this life, maybe even-

"OH- OH MY-!" Hermione screamed. She looked catatonic- her was face frozen, her eyes were widened. Draco followed her gaze and saw what caused her to scream.

The Dark Mark etched across his inner arm.

Hermione got to her feet immediately and fell almost as quickly as she got up. She was shaking her head continuously and her body shivered.

"It's true... You're... I can't believe I almost..."

Hermione was shaking her head fervently now as she got up, her eyes blinking back tears.

"Hermione, please... Wait- no, come back!"

But it was too late, she ran from the dungeons, hot tears soaking her face, going back the way she came.

Everyone, this is my first attempt at writing fan-fiction so I have absolutely no idea how I've done. Help me out? :)

Thank you for the lovely reviews! I promise I won't keep you waiting long for the next chapter.