AN: A little bit more behind the scenes of Hermione and Draco. I'm being sent to school for my job starting tomorrow, but hopefully I will still be able to write a little bit here and there and get a few chapters out. The school is two months long, but don't worry, I won't make you all wait that long before I update again!
Hermione knew if she raked her hands through her hair one more time, she would succeed in pulling out every last strand of the curls. Her brain was on fire, running high speed through the last four hours of her life. After her confrontation with Malfoy in the Room of Requirement, a confrontation which would not have happened if she had merely let herself calm down for one minute, and her talk with Harry, which also could have been avoided if she had calmed down, she had spilled her guts to Theo, who had quickly left the room after her confession.
And now she sat, alone, on the edge of the bed, pulling at her hair until she had made a tiny little hairball in the palm of her hand.
"You've got to be fucking me." Theo had sworn beautifully at her confession, rising to his feet without another word before exiting the room. She wanted to point out the irony in his statement, that yes, they were indeed sleeping together, but her mouth could not open and all she was able to do at that point was gape as he left.
She rolled the sphere of hair in between her thumb and index finger, sighing as she pulled her wand from her pocket and held the tip to the small hairball. It disappeared with a miniscule pop, proceeding the loud bang of the door as it flew open again. Hermione jumped wildly, her heart leaping into the throat as she stared at the sudden source of noise.
"Hermione." Theo exhaled slowly, flexing his hands by his sides as he stepped around the bed to come face to face with her. She stood, almost hesitantly, and waited for him to continue. "If this…" He trailed off, bringing one hand to his face as he smiled a little bit. "If this is a joke, it's really not very funny."
"All you have to say is that it's a good joke, we can laugh about it, and…for fuck's sake please say it's a fucking joke." He looked so lost and desperate that Hermione almost wanted to take her words back, if only to see him relaxed.
"I wish…I wish I could tell you it was." She wrapped her arms around her middle, mentally steeling herself for the conversation she knew was coming. She waited, and the accusations and anger never came. Instead, Theo sank back into the chair at his desk with a soft sigh. "I'm so sorry."
"Do you know how long I've known it was him?" He asked quietly, staring at the floor. Hermione frowned, confused. "You say his name in your sleep. When you came down here, after your bad dream, I watched you after you fell asleep as fucking creepy as that sounds." He chuckled. "At first I thought maybe it was a nightmare, since, you know, he was involved with some of the things that happened at the Manor, but…"
"I didn't really know." She had to bite her lip to keep the threatening tears at bay. "I didn't know how I really felt about him until…until I felt it." She winced as the words came out of her mouth, knowing it was quite possibly the stupidest thing she had ever said in her entire life. "I'm so sorry, I wish I could have told you sooner but it just happened and I never expected to be so hung up on it like this. I just wanted to try and be happy. I just wanted to try and feel again."
"So did I." Theo shook his head, threading his fingers through his hair. Hermione sank onto the edge of the bed, holding her head in her hands.
"I'm so sorry."
"You can't help it." It was the saddest smile she had ever seen, the one that he gave her as he swallowed thickly. "You know?"
"Can't help what?"
"Who you fall for."
Malfoy Manor, January 14th, 1999
"We've had her for four days and nothing useful has come out of her." Bellatrix Lestrange hissed angrily as Lucius Malfoy paced the floor of the east wing drawing room. Draco Malfoy stood, hidden, on the other side of the thick wooden door that led into the drawing room, his ears pricked with interest. "I have tortured the girl but she does not give."
"We cannot kill her." Narcissa Malfoy spoke gently from her graceful perch on the armrest of a loveseat, her dark eyes watching her sister. "She is much too valuable."
"If your son had told us the truth-"
"Leave him out of this."
"The Dark Lord will be wanting answers soon, Lucius, you know this." Bellatrix sneered. "Draco cannot rest forever. He has work to do."
"He said to leave Draco out of this." Narcissa snapped. Draco ground his teeth together and carefully took his leave, his silent footsteps leading him away from the drawing room and towards the back of the entrance hall, where the small door leading down to the dungeons lay in wait.
It was much colder downstairs in the dark chambers than it had been earlier in the month. He shivered involuntarily as he neared the last cell on the right, his hands closing around the bars slowly.
"Malfoy." Hermione Granger climbed to her feet, her face pale and her eyes wide as Draco let himself into the cell with her. Her shackles immediately fell loose and she rubbed her wrists with relief. The last time he had been in her cell he had healed the cut on her throat after she had passed out, but she remembered the way his face contorted with tears as he had knelt beside her that day.
"Bellatrix means to return and…and try to get more information from you." He choked the words out. Hermione frowned. Draco paced a tiny strip of the cell, his hands clasped tightly behind his back as he took quick choppy steps. He knew his aunt would be back down in a matter of hours, regardless of what his father said.
"But I know nothing."
"I know." Draco hated that he sounded like a child at the moment. "You have to tell them something. They'll….they'll kill you if you don't."
"Fine." Hermione scowled and rubbed her wrists some more. "That's fine with me. I have nothing to tell them and-" She was rudely cut off by long arms wrapping around her body.
"Please, just tell them something." Draco mumbled the words into the sweater on her shoulder, his hands balled tightly in the woolen fabric that lay against her back. "Please. Anything you think they'll fall for."
"Malfoy, I don't understand."
"Please Hermione." He was shaking like a leaf, holding too tight to her. "I'm so sorry, I'm sorry for everything. You were right, I should have just told them, I should have just told the truth. I'm so sorry."
"It's ok." She lifted her hands, unsure of what to do with them, and placed them awkwardly on his back, her front still crushed to his. He kept whispering an apology into her shoulder, his fingers shifting every now and then trying to grab on to more of her sweater, pulling her closer and closer until she felt as if she couldn't breathe.
She allowed him to keep her in this horribly awkward, almost one sided embrace for a few minutes until she could no longer stand it. Hermione took a deep breath, the scent of cinnamon and midnight assaulting her senses.
"What is the matter, Malfoy?" Her words came out muffled by the fact that her face was buried hard against his chest.
"You can't…I can't let you die." He sounded tiny, lost, and yet somehow angry. Hermione snorted.
"You have no control over that."
"I can try. I can…I'll tell them I can talk to you. That I can get you the information. You won't get hurt and…and you can stay alive." Draco was talking faster and faster, his hands still clutching desperately at her back. "I'll come to you every day, and I'll help you think of something, anything that we can tell them. I just can't know that you're dead, I can't let them."
"Why?" She started pushing against him, suddenly wanting to be free and to watch his expression. He let his arms unwind but caught her wrists in his hands, his grip once again too tight. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I'm sorry, and I don't know what to do, and…" Draco broke off, shaking his head and staring at the floor. "And because you're all I have left to remember of a time when I wasn't scared of my own shadow. You're all that I can hold on to right now."
"You tormented me for seven years." Hermione whispered sadly. "And now you want to help me."
"Yes." Draco hurried on. "I know what it sounds like and I'm so sorry but I can't do this anymore. I just can't. I'm not a murderer, I can't do this." For a moment Hermione could have sworn there were tears building in his eyes and she felt something in her chest tug hard.
The sound of heels on the stone stairs interrupted them, both of their heads whipping towards the noise.
"Please, please tell them anything. Anything you can think of." He squeezed her wrists, hard, too hard, and then dropped them. She backed up to the wall, her arms wrapped tight around her middle. "I'm so sorry. Please, just…just try." He nodded towards the shackles on the floor and she replaced them around her wrists. Draco moved out of the cell, pulling it shut just as Bellatrix made her presence known.
"Bring her out for me, Draco." Bellatrix laid a hand on his shoulder, smiling sickly into the cell. "I think it's time we had another chat."
"Where should I bring her?" Draco asked sullenly, his eyes never once leaving Hermione's.
"The west parlor should do. And then fetch my dagger." Bellatrix sneered down her nose into the cell. "We're going to have a bit of fun, my dear!" The dark haired witch turned on her heel and strode away quickly, a menacing hum following her down the passageway.
January 10th, 1999
Hermione woke groggily, her head pounding as she tried to push herself into a sitting position. Her foot nudged something in the darkness, the sound of porcelain scraping on concrete filling the small cell. Her hand reached out, touching the edge of something cold and round. A plate. It had been there for some time, as it was just as cold as the rest of the dungeon. Her fingers searched nimbly on the flat surface, grazing over what could have been a half a piece of bread and a slice of now cold meat.
Draco watched from the darkest shadows of the passage as Hermione slowly began to eat the cold food. He had been waiting hours for her to wake from unconsciousness. His parents and aunt believed him to be upstairs, locked away in his room. He had stayed, however, hidden away in the darkness of the dungeon, keeping a vigilant eye on the girl. He rationalized it by saying that if she started bleeding again, and bled out on the dungeon floor, there was no way his family would survive Voldemort's wrath. His mind, though able to come up with a reasonable excuse, could not push the feeling stirring in his stomach down entirely.
He knew why he had come down to watch her. His sentimental streak had made itself known when Potter, Weasley, and Granger had been dragged into the Manor by the group of Snatchers just hours earlier in the day. He had been forced to try and identify Potter, but whatever Stinging Jinx had hit him was fairly powerful. Draco had stumbled his way through a lie, thankful for his aunt's sudden preoccupation with the sword. He knew damn well it was Potter; Potter was the only person willing to surround himself with Weasleys. After Draco had finished his lie he had gone back to his mother's side, trying to ignore the stare coming from Granger.
But eventually he caved, and he saw the gratitude, pity, and concern laying in those eyes that made the pit of his stomach flip until he wanted to be sick. Even Weasley had given him a surprised glance.
But Granger's eyes…They hadn't changed since Hogwarts.
AN: Please be kind and leave me a review...