Prompt: in hbp right before draco goes and attempts to kill dumbledore, hermione bumps into him and they fight and she sees his dark mark


It's long past curfew and Hermione finds herself stewing over Harry's words. The certainty in them is not something unusual. Harry always was the firmest believer in his running leaps of reasoning, but the way he bit out Malfoy's name, the burning conviction in those impossibly green eyes of his, makes her squirm with discomfort. He can't possibly be right this time. Not after he has been so wrong so often before.

(But it's what she knows, not deep-rooted logic that makes her dismiss Harry's claims at first, but now…)

Harry shoving the Marauder's map into her hands with the demand that she keep an eye on Draco Malfoy has made all her fear and anxiety bubble to the surface. And she lies on her side, with only a dim Lumos to see by, squinting at it. She admits that she is the first to scoff at Harry when he comes up with his ridiculous conjectures, but she cannot help but feel the prickle of doubt when she sees Malfoy's name moving steadily from the dungeons, upwards and purposeful. This is no late night wander through the dark hallways.

She can just imagine him, shrinking from the light, wreathed in shadows, with a scowl plastered firmly on his features as he makes his way to the Room of Requirement just has Harry predicted.

With her heart pounding fiercely in her throat, Hermione pulls on a pair of jeans and slips on her shoes. The galleon weighs heavily in her pocket and she knows she should inform Ron and Ginny like she'd promised when she sent them to bed, taking over watch duty with the reassurances that she would wake them up if Malfoy so much as breathed wrong.

She thinks regretfully of Harry's invisibility cloak; even though she supposes his need for it is greater than hers, but without it, she is aware that every movement needs to be calculated and measured. Shadows are both her friend and her enemy but she learns to use them to her advantage to slink out of Gryffindor Tower, the Fat Lady's cries of admonishment hushed with a silencing spell.

Moving slowly, but stealthily, the promise of Filch or Mrs Norris, or, heaven forbid, any of the teachers roaming the castle snapping at her heels, Hermione creeps along. She does not know what she is doing. Why she is doing this. It's as though every bit of logic and reason has been drug out of her to create this irrational impulsiveness within her.

The Marauder's Map is folded up, held by white-knuckled fingers. She hovers; unsure whether to venture down the seventh floor corridor and follow him like some common thief. But she swore to Harry that she would keep an eye on him, regardless of how unnecessary she feels it is.

The decision is taken out of her hands entirely when a shadowy figure grabs her and pins her to the wall, one hand over her mouth, muffling her cry of surprise, narrow hips pressed to hers. The subtlest of scents reaches her nose. Expensive cologne. The feel of rich cotton beneath her flailing hands. A curtain of white blond hair swaying over chilly grey eyes. Half a second of panic later, Hermione relaxes in his arms slightly.

It's Draco. Of course it is.

"Granger?" he hisses, "What the fuck? Why are you out here?"

There's firewhiskey on his breath as his mouth hovers above hers, a fierce determination in his eyes and a rigid disquiet about the stance of his body as he looms over her. Hermione finds she cannot look at him enough.

She glares at him pointedly, the same question filling her eyes. With another violent curse, he removes his hand from her mouth, brings one long pale finger to his lips. With a yank, he leads her to the darkness of the alcove down the hall, his gaze fixing behind them every so often as though afraid of some nameless shadow dogging his steps.

"What do you think you're doing?" he demands of her forcefully when the darkness envelops them both. She can't see much, just a small sliver of pale skin, a flash of grey and the outline of a pair of lips. But even with the protection of the dark she would know him. Hermione reaches out, cupping his jaw in the palm of her hand. The angles are a comfort, familiar. But he pulls away almost immediately, leaving her hand cold and wanting in its emptiness. She folds her arms, tucking her hands close to prevent such a rebuff again.

"A little late to be out, isn't it?" she snaps back. To disguise her hurt, her tone is as prissy and self-righteous as she can manage.

Draco runs a hand over his haggard face, eyes turned heavenward as though pleading for help from above. Silly, Hermione chides herself. Wizards worship no gods.

She coaxes a dim stream of light from her wand so she can better see him. Hermione knows he's been ill. With what she can't say because he just wouldn't tell her, but tonight he looks almost feverish.

"Go back to your dormitory, Granger," he replies blankly. "Get it into the big bushy head of yours that it isn't safe to be about at this hour."

At that, she eyes him with the ever-growing doubt pulsing in her chest. Hermione is almost afraid to push for more, but she has to, to prove Harry wrong, to banish her misgivings. She steps closer; close enough to see the faintest trace of silver stubble dusting his jaw and cheeks. It's funny that she is remembering the feel of it against her neck, her breasts and her thighs now while she is struggling to undo the knot of panic in her throat.

"What are you doing here, Draco?" she asks quietly. There is no mistaking her tone of command. She wants an answer.

"Nothing," he snaps too quickly. Her eyes narrow. Her stomach turns.

As if realizing his blunder, he backtracks, a half-hearted smirk twisting his lips as he touches her cheek with the back of his fingers, "I wanted to see you."

Hermione can almost taste his lie. His eyes never meet hers for very long and a muscle in his jaw jumps when he swallows hard. She wants to press herself to him, to drink her fill of his untruths, to pretend that the growing horror in her throat isn't choking her. But she can't. She won't.

"You're lying."

"No, I'm not. I actually do want to see you so I thought I'd take the initiative." A half-hearted attempt at hiding his lie. She, of course, doesn't buy it. They never make plans. They stumble together by chance and take their rage out on each other and it's always unplanned, but it makes it so much more visceral.

"No, what are you really doing here, Draco?" she presses quietly. Her hands are shaking and the light of her wand between their bodies shakes too. "Is there— Is there something you aren't telling me?"

Draco looks at her then. Actually meets her gaze, instead of looking everywhere but eyes like he has done for the past few days.

Hermione feels as though she might drown in the guilt and the torment she sees there. She does not need an answer from his lips when her answer is staring at her right in the face.

"What have you done?"

His answer comes quick, almost rehearsed, as if he had imagined how this conversation would go and he knew her that well to pre-empt her question. "What I was always expected to do. You made a big mistake coming out to find me tonight, Granger. Your precious Hogwarts isn't safe anymore."

Reason is demanding that she turn on her heel and alert the Order, but something within her overrides that instinct and instead she tries to nip this entire fiasco in the bud. So she stays. She's absolutely certain Draco wouldn't let her bolt anyway.

He pens her in. "I'm probably losing my mind, but I've hidden this from people for so long, it would be a huge fucking relief to just say it."

With a wary glance around them, he mutters a quick silencing spell before turning back to her. Draco stares at her from under his white lashes. What he says next is enough to turn her blood to ice in her veins.

"I took the Mark."

For a few moments, she just stares at him stupidly. Hermione doesn't want to believe this but she can see the truth in the slumped resignation of his shoulders and every moment they have shared floods into her head until she is picking them apart for signs. Because surely she should have seen this coming. Hermione Granger can't have been so blindsided.

A single debilitating thought occurs to her.

He's been a Death Eater this whole time. He was a Death Eater when he kissed you for the first time at the top of the Astronomy Tower. He was a Death Eater when you bumped into him in Hogsmeade and he touched you desperately in an alleyway. He was a Death Eater when you ran to him the night Ron and Lavender got together, determined to give him your virginity.

Hermione grabs fistfuls of his suit and yanks him close, her fury and her hurt making her seem more imposing than she actually is. "You can't have," she whispers harshly. "You're not like them, Draco. You're good. You were good to me. This isn't you. I absolutely refuse to believe it is."

"Just because I make sure you come at least twice before you scamper back to your dormitory does not make me good person," he snarls in return. "We had fun, Granger, I'm not going to deny that, but that was all it was. A bit of fun."

"Don't say that. You don't mean that."

Her voice is small when she responds and she is so ashamed of it but he has always had this effect on her. Draco can make her as unsure of herself as she was in First Year; never mind that he can, in the same breath, lay all those insecurities to rest.

Draco casts a glance down the corridor. No movement. They're not here yet it seems.

"Is this what it's come to?" she asks quietly, trying so very hard to mask the heartbreak in her voice and failing miserably. "You've gone and chosen this."

"I didn't have a choice. It was either this or see everyone I care about dead. I'm not going to pretend to be a hero. That was always your precious Potter's role and he's played it fucking well." He touches his chest where she knows the scars from the Sectumsempra curse lie livid and red on his skin. "But to save my parents, my mother…"

Hermione's mouth quivers and tears prick the corner of her eyes. She can't believe this. He's only recently seventeen and he's taken the Mark and her world is spinning.

"Don't you fucking dare look at me with pity in your eyes, Granger."

She doesn't even realise she's reaching for him again until he catches her hand in a vice grip. Their gazes lock and, God, she could just die right here and nothing else would ever matter.

"Don't."

"Show me," she demands.

"No."

"Show me," Hermione insists, her fingers closing around the sleeve of his immaculate black suit.

A pause. Neither of them wanting to back down, they stare at each other. Finally, with hesitation clouding his eyes, he slowly rolls the sleeve up revealing the Dark Mark inch by black inch.

And it's there. It's real and it's overwhelming and she wishes this all could be wished away. Draco watches her, waiting for the sting of rejection. Her turning away will destroy him. So when she bows her head in resignation, he closes the distance with the ease and familiarity that they have cultivated together.

Draco sincerely hopes she will not push him away either so when she doesn't, he claims her mouth desperately.

He kisses her as though he is trying to inhale her, urgent, all lips, teeth and tongue. And while the kiss is hardly a novelty, the way in which he grasps her and plunders her mouth is utterly new. It is bitter, like some sort of goodbye she doesn't understand and it frightens her. But pushing him away, demanding a stop to his attentions is unthinkable. Not now, not when they are on the cusp of something that is clawing its way up from the worst undisclosed longings born of their relationship.

Draco forces her back, the wall hitting her hard, knocking the air from her lungs, and she clings to him desperately, her hands running a familiar route along his neck, down his spine and up again. He is pressed against her intimately and a gasp is wrenched from her throat when he accidentally brushes against her breast with his white knuckles.

"Fuck," he mutters hoarsely, eyes clenched tight as though he is in pain.

She tries again, hoping that whatever effect she has on him, because she knows she does she just knows it, will be enough to stay his hand.

"Don't do it," she murmurs brokenly. "Dumbledore can—"

"Being in Dumbledore's good books will never be enough to protect us from the Dark Lord! He's going to kill me if I don't follow through, Granger. He's going to kill my parents and if he fucking delves into my mind he'll see you and kill you too. I will not have any of you killed for my failures. I have to do this!"

Draco tips her chin up with two fingers, thumb tracing along the curve of her jaw. The regret in his expression has her pinned where she is. She cannot move. She doesn't want to. It might just kill her if she does.

"I won't be able to protect you further than that. As it is, I've barely kept my parents alive. But you're smart. Certainly far braver than I am. I think you'll manage," he sighs.

She does not see it coming until the wand digs into her side and the little jolt her body makes in a vain attempt to get away isn't enough to throw her out of his range.

"Petrificus Totalus!"

She falls back, completely rigid and it is only Draco's gentle hand that stops her from cracking her head against the stonewall. He props her up, taking care to rest her against it so that she does not fall.

"I'm sorry, Hermione."

The touch of his hand on her cheek is an apology that Hermione cannot accept and she wants to scream her rage and anguish and scratch at his face when Draco presses his lips to the corner of her mouth in the sweetest, most chaste kiss they have ever shared between them. But he has stolen that autonomy from her and she can only glare at him when he brushes back her curls and gazes at her with those conflicted mercurial eyes.

"Don't do anything stupid, you bloody Gryffindor," he commands and lifts his tightly fisted right hand up.

A second later they are both plunged into darkness so all encompassing she cannot even see her nose in front of her. The demand to know what is going on is almost ripped from her lips but is held at bay by Draco's spell. Frustration makes her eyes burn.

Fred and George are going to pay for this if I get out of here, she swears.

"I'm not sure how many will be coming through, but I know Aunt Bella is coming. The Carrow siblings as well. You'll want to stay away from them. I heard rumours that Greyback was keen to dirty this place up too. You listen to me, if you see him, you don't run. He likes the chase and he especially likes tearing into soft little girls like you. Don't allow yourself to become fresh meat."

A wand gently brushes her sternum before retreating. Even in the dark, she can sense it is still trained on her and she does not know what to expect from this side of Draco. She wants to shut her eyes and pretend none of this is happening.

"Finite."

She gasps as she slumps. Hermione's eyes search the blackness in front of her for anything, any movement that will betray his location but the effort is futile. His footsteps retreat as she regains control of her wobbly legs and clambers up.

"Fuck you," she snarls, the curse tumbling foreign and bitter from her lips. "Fuck you, fuck you. I hate you."

She screams at him, curses over and over until her throat is hoarse and she is shaking with indignation. The horror and pain threaten to floor her. He just stands there and takes it in silence.

"Are you quite done?" he snaps when her blinding rage has subsided and she is reduced to a quivering mess. Draco's tone is incensed and Hermione can just imagine the anger on his face.

"Draco," she pleads. "Draco please—"

Hermione reaches in front of her, blindly groping. Tears flood her vision now. Not that it would make a difference either way. The Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder has done its work well.

She feels for the wall behind her, loath to lose her only point of reference to go blundering after Draco who inexplicably does not seem to be affected by the pitch dark around them. Hermione can sense him still, can feel his gaze on her tear-streaked face.

"Go. Go tell your friends what I've done. Get yourself as far away from this mess as you can."

"Draco!" she whispers, but it's less plaintive, more raw grief.

"Goodbye, Hermione."

His footsteps get fainter and fainter. Then she can hear nothing but the wheezing of her own chest. Now she is absolutely certain he has abandoned her in the dark. Panic twisting her innards, she leans over and dry heaves until her stomach burns in protest.

As she leans heavily against the wall, forehead against the cold stone cool, logic is fighting for control again and she realises she needs to get out of here and warn the others. Draco has given her a window of opportunity and she will not squander it.

When she finally stumbles out of the wall of darkness with only the wall and her memory to guide her way, tears are blinding her and she almost lurches down the staircase; her legs are that unsteady.

Hermione can hear cackling from down the corridor and more footsteps; she can't tell how many there are and she is willing to bet that the most bloodthirsty of them have been assigned to this task. Hermione is brave. But she is not stupid and she turns on her heel and runs, again wishing she had the Invisibility Cloak with her.

There are no sounds of pursuit and she dares hope that she hasn't been spotted when she ducks into an empty classroom in an abandoned corridor and works the galleon beneath her fingers agitatedly before bringing the tip of her wand to it and muttering a quick spell.

Malfoy let Death Eaters into the castle. Get the others.

It almost breaks her heart to transcribe this onto the coin and the hurt and disbelief makes the roaring between her ears all the more cacophonous. She angrily wipes the tears from her face. There will be time to mourn their pseudo-relationship, but not now.

When the dust settles, Hermione isn't sure she will be able to face everyone, certain that they will see the truth of it all in the shadows of her eyes and corners of her mouth.

But that hardly matters. As she pockets the galleon and tightens her grip on her wand, she vows to put Draco Malfoy behind her.

Oh and she will try. Despite that the loss of him will always throb like a fresh wound in her chest.


a/n: i really had fun working on this prompt (even though sometimes i looked at it and hated everything about it). i hope my beloved prompter likes it too. [glares at zuhra]