Maybe now it will get more romantic. maybe. As it is there is nowhere else for it to go, and I hope it doesn't end up sappy. Not too sappy anyway, some sap could be cute. We'll see how much romance can be strangled from my stony little spiritual core. Maybe after this I'll write some Enishi/Kaoru stuff or even Shaoran/Sakura tripe, I don't know, we'll see how bored I get. Maybe something will inspire me, or I could run through the streets like a psychotic fangirl with too much time on her hands. I just want to finish this relatively fast as it has become pretty long considering my aims for it were pretty limited. Stupid lack of any sort of inspiration to make this better.

Oh, and I just went through and made all the thoughts in brackets like , and it took disgustingly long. Stupid not knowing how to italicize.

Disclaimer of lack of ownership here! I own nothing that has to do with these characters. I'd like to think the story came out of my own mind, but maybe it was placed there by aliens and I simply have not yet gotten the repressed memories back yet.



Part 3: Curtain



Five days left until he had to return her, or else he would suffer a physical collapse from the spell. It had been accelerated by their, well, very active nightlife, but he wouldn't trade a second of it. All his determination to wipe her memory clean and send her back had disintegrated the morning he woke up after that first night they slept together and he saw her with her hair all tangled round his arm and her face. When he had moved to get up she had murmured something in her sleep and smiled as she turned towards him. Damn witch, she'd be a good enchantress, just so long as she didn't try too hard at it. The only thing that made her annoying was her need to be so logically thorough at everything she did. It was inhuman how good she was at school and magic, but then Draco knew something about feeling inhuman. He looked around his room. It was very tidy due to the fact that he spent very little time there, and hadn't slept there in days. The reason he was there now was because he needed to look at something without her presence.

The pictures were quite nice actually. Shots of them in the garden, looking at plants, smiling and lots of her laughing were all quite common balancing how he never did more than smile. Even the smiles were rare with him, but it was more than he had ever done before. There were some of them playing chess. She had never questioned why he wanted to change places with her and have her face the window. The steady concentrated look she had was humorous in its own way. When she was really thinking hard she would bite her bottom lip a little bit. His favorite picture was the one of her looking at something in the garden; it was an absent and gentle look, which was unlike her usual somewhat sharp approach to life. He looked at them hard, as the figures moved and lived in the strange limited way pictures lived, and tried not to think about the pictures he had yet to take. Up to this point he had not had any taken of them being intimate, but he needed evidence and time was dwindling. A part of him rebelled against it, but the calm center of his mind told him that it was necessary and backing out would only provide further proof of his uselessness. He was determined to do it, but as he said it in his mind he had the urge to be sick. Must have been breakfast.

*

Hermione sat and contemplated the last couple weeks in her mind. She had planned to try to change Draco, but she herself had been fiddled with in return. What was more troubling was that she had gone from hating him to caring a lot for him in so little time. Even if the physical side was gratifying, somehow she still felt a bit empty. It was almost like she felt like she was being used. Of course you feel used, why do you think he brought you here? He never said that he wanted to have you here for anything different. You have no reason to feel hurt and betrayed. What did you expect from him? Something in her still gave the same cynical sage advice. But I like him. I told myself that having sex was not going to change how I had felt up to that point. There was pity and the beginnings of respect, and none of this expectant angsty horridness. This was not a side of her she liked much. This was sappy. This was romantic, a sickening word if there ever was one, and yet she wanted it sometimes.

She walked into the bathroom and splashed water on her face before leaning on the sink and looking at herself in the mirror. Around her she saw the mosaics, no longer scary to her, and tried to imagine what she would do once she was home again. Would she tell Harry and Ron? Somehow she couldn't see herself doing that, and yet she knew that she needed to tell someone. They invariably would not understand, and would get mad. She would get angry, maybe even start crying, as they swore to kill Malfoy and all the rest of his evil friends. Or else they would think she had sold out and mistrust her. In that line of thought she would probably lose her dear friends, and as there was no way Malfoy's little cadre of followers would accept her she could not appeal to him without severely endangering herself. That is, if he acknowledged her presence at all and didn't just pretend that nothing happened. What am I thinking? I'm already coming up with scenarios of confession and disaster! This is ridiculous. It will be much better when I am home and can separate myself from the whole situation. For a moment she paused, then she walked into the main room and sat down heavily in a chair, slouching and looking out of the window. Draco must have a plan about what is appropriate. But I can't ask him. He'll misunderstand, he'll think I'm getting attached to him or something. But am I? I should just stop worrying and deal with things as they come.

As she ran her fingers over the scar on her left hand and thought, she heard the door open and close behind her. Fingers ran through her hair a couple times and then touched her neck. Shivering involuntarily, and slightly nervous as the whole scene seemed so detached and creepy in her mind, Hermione did not look up for a few moments as Draco's fingers ran over her skin. When she did look up she wished she hadn't because his mind was far away even if his body was not, and the vacant expression made everything surreal. Then his hand gripped her shoulder and he smiled sparely down at her creased brow. This little toy was a nice one, he had to admit, and it would a horrible day when he had to give her up. Why do I have to give her up again? Somehow the reasons were all going oblong and obscure in his mind. Why can't I just keep her here with me? There's no boredom with her here. No pain, at least not any more, and sometimes. sometimes she makes me wish I weren't me anymore. What a strange thing to think. What would I be if I were not me? A renegade thought sped through his mind before being calmly squelched by his rational side: Someone who could be with her in public.

"Draco?" She must have repeated it already because her voice had a tone of worry.

"Yes?"

"You're ok right?"

"Of course." The vague smile dropped and he looked like his regular partially scowling self. At least this was more familiar.

"I've noticed that you seem really exhausted recently, but I know you sleep like you were dead every night. I remember what you said about putting that spell on my parents. You know you can't keep things up much longer what with your level of activity."

He sat down heavily across from her but did not look up. "Just say it." The interruption was flat and harsh.

"What?"

"Just say you want to go home. I know that that must be what you are getting at." It had been too much to hope for that she had wanted to be around him at all. She was the prisoner he the jailer and he was an idiot to let himself create a delusion of peace with her. How could she possibly see him as anything but a nasty Malfoy?

"I wasn't actually, but now that you bring it up I'd like to know when."

"Tomorrow." He could practically feel the darkness and ice in his soul. It was beautiful in its familiarity. Warmth was overrated. "I'll be back later. I still have some arrangements to make." The anger was starting to come, he wondered why and then began to stalk towards the door.

"Are you sure you're ok?" She sensed the mercurial mood swing and tried to guess at the cause.

"Just. Fine." His teeth gritted in a nasty attempt to smile. The door slammed with a click and a pop and Hermione could practically feel his aura as he moved down the hallway. As she looked back at the door, contemplating his exit, she noticed something glint. It was the mirror across the hall from her room. He had slammed the door so hard it had not latched quickly enough. Options swam before her eyes. Escape on her terms not his. Discovery of valuable information to take with her, maybe, to benefit the wizard community. It wasn't very smart to go looking, but this was such an opportunity and she would never have another like it. Pushing the door open, she ventured into the dark hallway and walked down the way opposite that of the exit to the garden.

*

Ok. Castles, even renovated ones, were apparently more maze-like that she had expected and now she was quite lost. Everything in the place was very old and expensive looking, but that made picking out landmarks to go by very difficult what with everything generally looking old and expensive and in dark colors. Several times she had had to duck behind curtains as servants went past, but they did not look as if hey would have stopped her even if she had spoken to them. There were twists that led up stairs and downstairs and some seemed to slope up and then down and who knew what else it did. Grim portraits of pale and slightly mad looking people lined the walls. True to most wizard works, their eyes really did follow her with disapproving scowls that rang familiar in her mind. Must be a family thing.

Turning down a wing that seemed more used, judging from the carpet, she saw a door slightly ajar at the end, a book in the doorway. Inside was a room done in Slytherin colors but in a way that spoke of them having been that way long before Draco was born. There was no doubt in her mind that this was his room, as the books were texts from last year that were torn and thrown about. The shattered lamp had left a spray of glass that crunched beneath her shoes in a muted way. Somehow he had ripped the covers on the bed, as well as littered the room with feathers (she assumed they were from the gutted pillows lying across the room). Bits of paper were everywhere, as if a small confetti bomb had gone off above her. Picking up one of the larger pieces, she thought she recognized the side of her face. That couldn't be right. Some of these paper bits were really torn pictures. Sifting through she found chunks of the room she occupied, the garden, fragments of chess and flowers, but in each of them there was a recognizable fragment of her. There were a couple that she guessed were of her dressing in the morning that didn't please her too much, but there wasn't anything too explicit. Crouched down she noticed one that looked almost whole sitting on the bed, where most of the torn pieces had been. It was bent but only torn a little bit at the edge, and it was of her looking at nothing while she had been thinking deeply.

Cleaning things as best she could, she cleared out a spot to sit and waited thoughtfully.

*

Bursting in the door of his room, he pulled open a drawer and got his wand out. The bitch, that snotty know it all ungrateful whore, would pay for daring to escape. He would take her down to the underground chamber and make her bleed from the whipping he was going to give her then he would rape her up and down the stairs with her raw bleeding back on the cold stone. It would be beautiful. There would be plenty of time for pictures. Enough to replace the ones he destroyed a thousand fold in quality. The light in his eyes was hellish, a laugh rang out inadvertently from his lungs and it was raspy. Turning, he started and almost fell back on his exhausted limbs because the object of his twisted hate was sitting o his ruined bed looking horrified.

It was as if someone had poured water on him just as he stood up too quickly, because the room went black and then came back into focus with agonizing clarity. Confusion, horror, and a number of other emotions played across her features. Draco didn't know what to think. It looked as if she had been sleeping on his bed for some time since he could see the nest she had arranged and judging from how blearily she searched his face with her eyes.

"You're still here." He didn't make it a question.

"Yes." She didn't know what to add.

"You didn't run away."

"No."

"I thought you did though."

"Obviously. But you know I wouldn't leave you like that."

He sat down on the floor with a jolt. Today had been too tiring for his brain and his body. He had gone through the full spectrum of emotions and now he just felt all wrung out. She hadn't left. She was sitting here for who knows how long waiting for him. The relief was overwhelming. When he had thought she didn't care the rage had been beyond his enormous self control. Everything regarding Hermione seemed to just slip past his years of barriers straight to something he had no way to stop. At this point he simply had to admit it to himself that he wanted her, but for more than just her body. When she was around he didn't feel as if he had to be anything more than what he was, even if what he was happened to be a filthy little dark wizard. She had put aside misgiving and treated him like a person she could feel free around despite the circumstances he had put her in. He admired her poise, her intelligence, her tendency to show off her knowledge of things, and damn it all he liked the way she smiled so warmly and laughed so freely. It was charming, it was lovely, and he did not want to let her go even if it destroyed him.

"Draco, it's ok, I'm here." She was holding him and stroking his hair. It was so motherly. It was so loving. If he hadn't already been crying silently into his sleeves then that would have pushed him over the edge. But he quickly got a hold on himself and grabbed her to him almost crushing her arms to her chest with the tight intensity of his grip. "I'm here." She was gasping a little so he relaxed his hold a bit.

"Do you care about me?" The question seemed very vital right now to him. The pause before her answer almost broke his tenuous hold on sanity.

"More than I should, and as much as I can for anything in my world." There was something hopeful/hopeless in the way she said it.

"I thought you didn't care and I got mad enough to kill, or at least maim, you. I felt as if I had entered hell finally and found out the devil were you. Something's wrong with me. I can't feel this way about you. Things like this don't work out in the end."

"It's not the end yet. We still have some time."

"We do, at that, and I am so glad I can hold this moment and this feeling before I send you back."

"When will that be?"

"We have four days."

Hermione looked into his eyes and saw something sincere and intense. It was a painful moment for her to know the time limit in which she would be able to see that in him. "Then we will just have to make them count."

*

They looked at the window, the sheet at their waists being the only claim to modesty their bare forms could boast. The clouds obscured the stars, but still they looked as if they could see something. Willing the moment to be special was enough to make it that way and they were content with it.

"I think I hated you and Potter and Weasley the most over the last few years because you all seemed to have love and respect. With good luck and popularity it seemed like too much for any number of people to possess that much fortune in life."

"But you had popularity yourself, and respect, and only luck kept you out of major trouble." Hermione closed her eyes and laid her head on his chest.

"Notice what you left out."

"mmmm" It was a noncommittal answer.

Tomorrow she would go home. All her clothes were carefully packed except for one outfit for when she left. Even though it was going to be wonderful to not have to continue the spell anymore and actually have good sleep and wake up not aching with fatigue, he knew that it was not worth losing Hermione. All the pictures of her that he had he destroyed. Most of them were already ripped up so it was no big loss. Well, not all the pictures were destroyed. the one that he had only ripped the edge of he had been able to magically fix easily enough. Putting it in a safe place on his person, (since he couldn't have anyone find it) he felt that maybe this would be enough to help sustain him. Someone had loved him once, even if only for a week. He would take what he could get; even his greedy nature knew he couldn't press this issue.

Hermione's mind was occupied with questions of how she was going to keep this secret. She knew now that she simply could not tell Harry and Ron since they would never understand. But how can you love someone and not want to shout it out to the world? And of course the other problem.

"So what happens at school?" She knew, but she needed to hear it.

"Nothing. I will be me, and you will be you. I hate your people, you hate mine."

"So we will be not even a memory?" It was unreasonable, and she knew it, but she was still saddened.

"Don't think this trivializes anything. Never think that." He felt her stiffened body relax again. "I might even be worse to you just because I will be paranoid that I am acting different. But no matter how evil I get you know that I will never hurt you and I can't mean those things I'm going to say." He made her look him in the eyes. "And you need to promise me you'll give me those same venomous looks and agree with your friends about how hideously terrible I am."

Her hesitation was palpable.

"Promise me!" He needed this so that he didn't put them both in danger. He had a lot to think about, but until he was out of his father's house or at least set up somehow on his own he could not even think about changing. Significant parts of him weren't sure that change would even happen, but Hermione had suddenly given him a good reason to begin to think about it, even if minimally.

"I promise you I will act as if I still hate your guts, but every time I say something terrible I will be thinking the exact opposite. Maybe you could too, then no one would know the difference anyway."

"Beautiful, devious. a man could be in trouble with a witch like you around." He kissed her and from her response he knew that neither of them would be sleeping before she left.

*

Standing at the chimney of her house Hermione felt a strange sense of sadness. It was as if she'd miss that place. No, she corrected herself, it was not the place she would miss. In her hand she clutched a pretty orchid-looking flower that was the bloom of something quite rare and extremely deadly if eaten as well as possessing a number of valuable magical properties. Wrapped around the stem, so that she could safely handle it, was a black handkerchief with the initials D.M. embroidered in green at the hem. It was his parting gift to her, (he didn't know about the pieces of a picture of him in the garden that she had taken with the intention of repairing once she had her wand in hand again). She could still feel the brush of his skin as he hugged her one last time. There were no tears and no good-byes. It was just a hug and a nod from each of them and then she had gone home in a whisk of powder and heavy heartache.

Standing there, she was soon accosted by her mother. "Mione! There you are! I have so many messages for you. Ron and Harry have sent any number of owls to you the past few weeks. I know you've been busy, but I do say that you can stop studying for a few moments just to write them back. Oh, and we're going to have hamburger for dinner, since I just got back from the store and I want to use this meat up." Her voice faded as she wandered back into the kitchen. No clue she had been gone. Something in Hermione almost wished that Draco had wiped her memory clean, as he had told her his original plan had included.

Looking at the flower, she felt the loss with a touch of fondness and went to find a vase.

*

Epilogue.

Hermione accidentally bumped into Draco while leaving Potions. She was really busy as all her books went flying into the corridor. Harry and Ron immediately started to help her pick them up. Draco hesitated a moment, but quickly he regained composure.

"Muggle born filth! Watch where you're going." He pushed her a little to hard and she hit the wall, and only Hermione saw his eye flinch a little as she hit. Ron sprang up before Harry could and took a swing at Malfoy who calmly and easily dodged the wild fist aimed at his eye. Hermione forced herself not to smile.

"I hate you Draco!" she called after his skulking form as he left a furious Ron behind him, and Harry holding all her books. "You are de-evolved slime! Wither and die!" Harry nodded at her words and led both her and Ron away to laugh about something Parvati had said earlier about how Neville had almost turned Mrs. Norris yellow on accident while practicing an extra credit spell on his own.

Draco didn't look back as Crabbe and Goyle flanked him and they crowded their way to their next class. He absorbed her words and tried not to think about the bruise she would certainly have soon from hitting the wall. He thought of her words as he had left. "I hate you Hermione Granger. I hate you with every fiber of my being." He said it under his breath and he doubted that either Crabbe or Goyle had heard him even say it. If either of his mammoth followers noticed that he touched a spot on his robes to the right of his heart, neither thought anything of it. No one would notice the outline of a thick picture on his dark robes beneath his hand at any rate.

If he had to wait years he would be with her again. Family, companions, and dark traditions be damned. If he had to turn heaven and earth he would manage it, and something in him knew she would be waiting. But what she had said before she had left still rang in his mind: "Just don't take too long, love."

He smiled the rest of the day.