Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor;
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.
And mutual fear brings peace,
Till the selfish loves increase;
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.
By William Blake (first two verses)
Hermione hit her head hard against the wall inside Malfoy’s room at Hogwarts. The strong tugging sensation in her stomach subsided. She was back, and there was a blond boy beside her, scratching his head.
Her right hand was clutching his left tightly.
“Are you all right?” she asked, trying to get a glimpse of his face.
“Never been better.” He smirked, turning to face her. His lips were chapped and white and there were quite a few bloody scratches across his face, but otherwise he seemed to be just fine.
Hermione couldn’t believe how well he could hide his feelings. If she hadn’t known any better, she would have thought that he had been fighting with Crookshanks, definitely nothing serious. She wouldn’t let him get away with it though, not this time. Someone had to confront him.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you have two ways of hiding.” She looked at him intently. “You either turn violent, or start joking around. Why is that?”
Her words shattered his tenuous hold on his crushed self-image, making him fall apart, piece by piece. He didn’t have the means to fight this kind of a battle, so he just pulled his knees against his chest in an attempt to protect the last fragments of his mind, still attached. Now she was being cruel, crueller than he had ever been to her.
“Draco, please tell me. What’s happened? Why haven’t you been attending any classes?” She spoke softly, kindness weaved within her voice.
But he wasn’t listening to her; he was chanting inside his mind over and over again: Laalaalaalaa… can’t hear a word of a mocking bird.
She leaned closer and whispered in his ear, “I don’t hate you. I won’t laugh at you. I’m only going to listen. I’m never going to tell anyone. Please, talk to me.” She almost added that the potion would probably kill them if he couldn’t come to terms with his inner demons, but she didn’t want him to feel like she only wanted to save herself. It wasn’t true anymore; she wanted to save him, too.
Draco opened his eyes and glanced at her quickly, not sure what to say. He felt everything inside him melt, transform into liquid fear. He was a mess - but maybe she could fix him.
And then something strange happened: the thought of using her made him feel guilty.
He didn’t want to use her; he didn’t want to burden her… not even her, not even the creature of dirt that she was. Even she didn’t deserve his thoughts.
“I can’t,” he said finally, admitting defeat.
“You already have; I just need your words. I don’t understand your mind. You need my help, you asked for it. I can help you. Please. Tell me.” She was still very close, still whispering. She looked strong, even fierce. She was determined to break through his barrier.
He lifted their united hands so they could both see them.
“Do you know what this means? Do you understand? Let me make it perfectly clear. I hate you. You hate me. We’re never going to see each other after this. I’m not one of your stupid friends. I’m no Harry bloody Potter. I don’t share.” He lowered their hands and then brushed his right hand through his hair. He almost believed in those words himself, almost.
“I know I’m not your friend, but I’m the only one here. You need to talk or the potion will break you.”
“Ah, that’s what this is all about. You’re afraid that I can’t handle this and I’ll drag you down with me. How shallow of you, pretty little Gryffindor – and very brave, too.” His mouth turned into a grin, but his stormy eyes accused her of betrayal. The hopelessness in him became almost tangible.
“I already said that I don’t hate you anymore. In my world that means I don’t actually want anything bad to happen to you. Is that so difficult to understand? I want to help you,” she insisted. She wanted him to understand; she needed him to understand.
She moved even closer to him, not noticing how uncomfortable she made him feel. “I can feel the potion inside me, trying to take over. But at the moment it’s still under my control and I know how I feel. I can and I want to help you. Please let me, before it’s out of our reach completely.” She squeezed his hand, waiting for him to answer.
“You should…” he said quietly, leaning his forehead against his knees. “…you should hate me.”
She didn’t say a thing.
“You should, you know. I’m not a decent person. I’m not anything anymore.” He shifted uncomfortably. “My mother left for France…eight days ago, I think. Didn’t you read the Daily Prophet?” He glanced at her and she shook her head; she hadn’t had the time for reading newspapers. He turned his gaze back to the floor. “Well, they were wrong anyway…I… you know, this isn’t working. You can’t change anything.”
He tried to stand up, noticing too late that he didn’t have the strength for it, nor did he have his freedom; she was part of him now. He stumbled down next to her, too embarrassed to even look at her. This was something he couldn’t take; nobody had seen him like this, nobody. He would rather die than let her see him like this.
She poked him in the arm, just below the ink line to get his attention, and as he looked at her she grabbed his other hand and blew lightly on his palm, looking to his eyes the whole time.
“Stop it. You’re going the wrong way. Concentrate on the facts; you’ll get to the feelings later. Not now when you’re under the influence of the potion.”
He was shocked by her actions; so shocked that he was opening and closing his mouth, unable to speak. She was good; she should have been in Slytherin.
“The facts, huh? Short version or the long version?”
“Anything’s fine, as long as you can give it to me for safe keeping. I’ll be your Pensieve.”
He smiled at her, feeling grateful and not quite knowing why.
“My mother lost her marbles and burned the Malfoy Manor. She’s in France…in an institution where they treat the witch and the famous.” He spoke fast, now that the words were finally coming out. “I’ve also started to remember what happened last summer…I’m remembering things… there are holes in my mind. And you…you’re the worst. Making me a blood traitor. Don’t look at me like that. I don’t want your pity. I don’t-”
“I’m not pitying you…well, of course I’m pitying you, but I… What did your mother do?”
“Burned down my home. I don’t have a home. I don’t think I have any money either. My father is gone, my mother is in some weird institution and I think I have to be over twenty-two to get the family money.” He looked at her through his lashes, feeling ashamed of his current situation, his lack of status.
“How can you think about money? How-” She stopped in mid sentence, because of the look on his face. It was easier to think about the money than his mother, so she asked, “Do you have any relatives who could take you in?”
He grinned wickedly. ”I think I’m old enough to live on my own…but I can come visit the Granger Manor if you insist.”
“We don’t hav-“ She made a face at him. “How dare you make fun of the dear girl, who's trying to help you? Me helping you here. You ungrateful scoundrel.” She laughed, finding it extremely difficult not to like him.
He lifted her hand near his mouth and blew on her palm, making shivers run down her spine. “Thank you,” he said, his voice low and serious.
Her thoughts were running so fast that she couldn’t keep up with them. This person in front of her wasn’t the same one she had known all these years. He wasn’t arrogant, he wasn’t evil, he wasn’t even ill mannered. She didn’t know who he was anymore or how to respond to him.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to thank me,” she said eventually, letting him hold her hand as though they were lovers. She didn’t know why, but she liked that particular touch.
Hermione looked at him for a while, debating whether she should ask the next question circling her mind. She didn’t know if it was appropriate, but decided to try anyway. “I have a few questions I would like to ask you, if it’s okay?”
To her disappointment he let go of her hand and turned his gaze back to the floor. She felt him draw away from her.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-”
He waved his hand at her and said: “Just ask.”
She hesitated for a moment, knowing that she was walking on a dangerous ground. “Did your father… Well, did he ever hit you?”
“What kind of a question is that?” He turned to face her, anger flaring in his eyes. “Of course he didn’t. Who do you think we are? He never laid a finger on me.”
“Then what is this?” She touched the fake Dark Mark on his right arm. “You said he did it.”
“That’s different,” he murmured against his knees.
“How is that different?” She was actually getting angry. She hated Lucius Malfoy. He was ruthless. He couldn’t have been a good father. The picture on his bedside table was lying.
“Because it’s his job.”
“To burn holes into his son?”
He looked at her again, his eyes shifting in colour as the mixed emotions flashed in them. “No. To make me stronger, to make me survive.”
“By burning holes into you?” she repeated.
“You don’t understand…”
“Of course I don’t understand. You said he did it without your permission.” She tried to control her voice, but she had started to sound very indignant.
“I’m not a very good son, you know.” He said it matter-of-factly as though there was no other truth in the world.
“I’m not a good daughter either. I’m never at home and when I am, I do nothing but read. I don’t have any friends outside the Wizarding world and I don’t even like it there. I hardly ever even write to them. But my father would never brand me like a cow.” She knew she had gone too far as soon as she had said it, but she couldn’t take it back.
He breathed in sharply, edging away from her. “How dare you speak to me like that? You have no right. You filthy little Mudblood. Fuck you!”
“I’m… I didn’t mean it that way. I’m sorry. Really I am. You know me and my S.P.E.W.; always trying to save the oppressed.” She tried to smile, but failed miserably. She didn’t want to lose the frail connection they’d had just moments ago.
“Don’t try to save me,” he snapped.
“I won’t. I promise. I’m so sorry.” She paused, trying to get him to look at her again. “What did you mean then? Why did your father do it?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I don’t understand you. I don’t understand how you can defend him. How can you do and say the things you do? Why do you act so sweetly and then in the next minute you want to bite my head off and throw me to the snakes? Why?” She had said too much again. Her heart began to pound so fast she thought it would try to break its way through her chest. “I don’t understand you.”
“Neither do I. Why do I do anything…? I don’t know. This,” he showed the mark on his arm, “is actually a gift. Or so my father thought. To me it’s more like a question; where am I going? I don’t have a lot of choices like you do. I’ve never had any choices; everything is laid ready for me… or was… I really don’t know anymore…”
At that precise moment she wanted to kiss him… anything but hold his hand. The urge to touch grew stronger with each breath she took, and she felt a knot in her heart as she tried to fight the feeling. What was happening to her? This was not who she really was. These were not the true feelings of Hermione Jean Granger. She was certain of it.
“If you want to understand me, listen to this,” he said. “I learned it when I was about seven. My mother bought me the book.”
Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor;
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.
And mutual fear brings peace,
Till the selfish loves increase;
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care.
“You quote William Blake?” Hermione couldn’t believe she had just witnessed that. “You can’t be serious… I didn’t just hear that. You? How?”
He looked offended. “Would you shut up,” he snapped. “It’s about life, about us. If there weren’t people like me, there wouldn’t be people like you. It’s about balance. I have to be who I am and you have to be who you are. That’s the way it goes.”
“And you based all your beliefs on a poem, written by a Muggle?” Hermione was so shocked she didn’t know if she was supposed to laugh or cry.
“No! Of course not.” He paused. “You know, you’re not a very good listener. You’re so bloody opinionated.”
“I know… I’m sorry. Ron keeps telling me that. But seriously, did you have any friends when you were growing up?”
“The man is revealing his inner most secrets and the woman just keeps taunting him. What did I do to deserve you?” he grumbled.
“You were born.” She smiled wickedly.
“I can’t believe we’re actually having this conversation. Did I hit my head while I was screaming and scratching and ripping my hair out - all of this with style of course?”
Kiss him. The thought came out of nowhere, driving her off balance.
“You of all people should’ve appreciated the perfectly fine explanation for why I’m so evil and want to eat Muggle babies,” he said, smiling widely.
“But now that I think of it, maybe it was more like a prophecy than an explanation. I’m poor and unhappy, there is a mutual fear connecting us all… maybe I remember it so well, because it’s… er, now I’m rambling.”
He looked at her apologetically, and then stopped breathing for a second or two. Her eyes were dark brown, very intense and full of what seemed like desire. She was trying to control her feelings, but was clearly on the losing side; she was shaking slightly and he could feel her squeeze his hand harder.
Her voice was husky when she spoke. “I think the potion is doing something to me. I’m… I have to get out of here.”
He had to search for his voice, too. “You can’t. Why don’t you sit by the window for a while.”
“I have a better idea.” She pulled him up and ran to the bathroom, Draco tailing behind her, still feeling a bit weak. She put the shower on and stepped inside, not caring about her clothes. The cold water made her squeal, but she was feeling much better. There was no more burning sensation on her skin, her mind didn’t scream for her to touch him, and she definitely didn’t feel like a pure silvery lust had filled her entire being.
He, on the other hand, was feeling rather flustered. Wet girls, even in robes, were quite attractive.
He stepped into the shower, too.
“Hey, what are you doing?” She really didn’t want him too near herself.
“You’re not the only one.”
They stood under the cold shower opposite one another, trying to ignore each other fiercely. Their connected hands made it quite difficult.
She noticed how he kept licking his lips every time a drop rolled down his cheek to his mouth; the tip of his tongue gave her ideas she didn’t even know existed. He was driving her crazy. Why was he just standing there?
She let her fingertips touch his right hand tentatively. She played with his long well kept fingers, touching his nails, brushing the back of his hand. He didn’t stop her, but didn’t respond either. He just let her touch him, an unreadable expression on his face.
She let her forefinger follow the lines of the mark, burned to his skin. Water made everything so slippery, so easy to caress and she just couldn’t resist the temptation. She felt mesmerised by her boldness, her need to explore him. It was like uncontrollable magic.
Each touch made her sink deeper into the feeling, into the drowning desperate desire. Her eyes turned into a dreamy shade of dark chocolate and her body shivered with anticipation. She wanted him to touch her, more than anything.
She turned her eyes to his, watching him intently as she pulled his hand close to her heart. She took the final step between them and stood so close to him she could actually feel his heart beat. She leaned further, almost touching his neck.
“I need you to touch me,” she whispered, her breath caressing the sensitive skin of his neck and ear.
He looked past her, his lips almost touching her wet hair, praying that she would disappear. She just rose on tiptoe, demanding his attention.
If there hadn’t been the stupid spell, he could have kissed her there and then. He could have made her scream his name. He could have pushed her against the wall. He could have touched her bare skin with his lips, could have licked her, tasted her. This teasing. He wanted to hit his head against the wall for being so stupid. He could have had her now - if it weren’t for the freaking spell.
He was so aroused he couldn’t think straight anymore.
“Don’t tease me, Granger,” he breathed into her ear.
“I’m not teasing you. It hurts. Do something, please,” she pleaded, shivering in his arms. “It hurts.”
Oh god, there was a wild-eyed Gryffindor sex goddess at his reach and he could do nothing about it. He couldn’t believe this was happening that she was actually begging for him to… what? Make her come?
“As much as I would like to carry you into the dimly lit bedroom of mine and have hot steamy sex with you, I don’t think it’s an option at the moment.” He smiled ruefully against her neck and then pulled both of their hands between them. “But if you need anything within the limits of the spell, I’ll be happy to oblige.”
She watched him for a second, a fierce look on her face. Then she pushed him out of the shower, ramming him against the sink, pulled their hands out of the way and kissed him.
As their lips met, he was too shocked to do anything but open his mouth and invite her in. It was amazing, kissing her. She was wet, she was cold and hot at the same time and she moved like a feline.
The kiss was all teeth and tongue, both of them battling for control. He deepened the kiss by cupping his hand behind her head and pulling her even closer, tilting her face to his. He grabbed a handful of her hair, claiming her as his property. She was divine; she was all that he could have ever imagined.
Her hands snaked under his robes, touching his bare chest, following the lines of his muscles and bones. She felt the need to be even closer to him, to touch him with her whole being. She wanted to get rid of the clothes separating them. The ache inside her would never give in until she felt him close, closer, inside her. She needed him.
Draco fought for breath. Her touch was like a million feathers, tickling his skin. He had never felt anything like that, not with Pansy, not with anyone. Hermione, the bookworm turned out to be a very interesting and demanding partner after all.
He smiled against her mouth and she withdrew from him just to see what was so funny.
He pulled her closer, whispering to her ear: “I want to make you scream.”
She trembled against him, her knees weak with lust.
“I want to taste you.” He bit her neck, letting his tongue soothe the marks of his teeth. “I want to feel you from the inside.” He turned her against the sink and pulled one of her legs around his waist, giving him access between her legs.
One thrust against her and she dug her nails into his back. A second and she threw her head back, moaning incoherently. She really made him crazy and he just couldn’t stop moving, couldn’t stop wanting for more.
Their clothes were suffocating, wet and sticky and both of them were eager to get rid off them. She pulled the front of his robes, tearing off some buttons, making him groan. But he soon forgot it when she kissed him, biting his lower lip gently, licking his jaw line, his neck. She was a teaser.
Her hands sunk lower, touching his bare stomach, making him inhale in short shallow breaths. Her fingers traced the rim of his boxers from the inside, caressing his hipbones in doing so.
“Hermione,” he breathed, taking her hands to his and pushing them behind her. He leaned so close every inch of his body was touching her. “I’m going to ravish you, if you don’t stop.” He smiled against her neck as he felt a jolt run through her.
“I don’t mind,” she whispered to his ear. She was lost, completely surrendered to her feelings, to the feelings he was creating inside her. She was on fire, every little nerve cell of her skin in tune with him.
The blinding pleasure overwhelmed him; she felt perfect against him. And he was just about to lift her on the sink and let his hands explore her beautiful body when the spell began to work again. The invisible force pushed him a few inches away from her, stopping his hands near her waist. He tried to fight it, but couldn’t. She was out of his reach again.
“What… what now?” she asked, her voice raspy and unsteady.
“It’s working again, the stupid spell is working,” he replied, grabbing her hand; he wasn’t sure how the separating potion would react if they didn’t keep the connection between them at all times.
He felt a familiar urge to bang his head on the wall.
The truth of the situation started to sink in and she was beginning to feel very, very embarrassed; her face was red and she couldn’t make herself look at him in the eyes. She just kept staring at the buttons of his robes - which was definitely not a good idea since his pale chest was still visible. Her mind played tricks on her, making her see her own hands, touching the muscles, the bones, that beautiful skin…
Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god… she had just snogged Draco sodding Malfoy, Death Eater to be, hater of all Muggles, her oldest enemy, the boy she had slapped in their third year. Oh god, oh god… she was so embarrassed. Why had she done it? Why hadn’t the spell stopped her from making such a huge mistake? She was supposed to be smart. This was supposed to end a perfectly hideous relationship between them, the potion and that bloody spell. It was supposed to work, but now… she couldn’t even look at him.
“If you keep breathing like that, you’ll faint,” he pointed out coldly. The situation wasn’t easy for him either. He knew, deep down he had always known, that he felt something for her but he really hadn’t known that the feeling was so terribly strong.
He could still remember the first time he had thought of her as a person, the first time he had felt something for her. The night of the Quidditch World Cup. He had warned her about the Death Eaters. He didn’t want her to get hurt, he just didn’t. He hadn’t thought about it since, but now it all came back to him. He had been under his dad’s… his father’s wing then, but he still had wanted her to be safe.
D’you want to be showing off your knickers in the mid air?
Keep that big bushy head down, Granger.
He had warned her.
He turned to look at her, busying herself with drying her clothes and hair. She looked perfectly calm now, just a hint of redness on her cheeks. Did she hate herself for what she had done? Did she hate him more?
“Can we go now?” She looked at him, but didn’t seem to see him. “I want to go to be… I’m tired. Sleep. Now.” She yawned widely.
Draco took out his wand and dried his clothes and hair, fixed his robes, and then healed the wounds on his face. He had forgotten about the scratches and was now afraid that they might leave scars. He watched himself from the mirror, trying to see if any marks stayed. He didn’t want to have any bloody resemblance to Harry Potter in anyway.
“Could you be more vain?” she asked, sounding quite bored.
“Men have to care for their complexions too,” he retorted, leading the way out of the bathroom.
They acted coolly, but underneath they both knew that it was only a matter of time before it would happen again. They could dry their clothes, heal their wounds and fix their clothes but there was no way fixing their heated emotions. Something irreversible had happened between them.
The house-elves had left them a small brown-papered package, and luckily it gave them enough to do, other than think about what had just happened.
The package contained food and drinks, and Hermione’s spare bed. It was a hammock, made of cloud material. It hovered on the level with his bed and it was softer than any fabric or any mattress could ever be. She was excited to sleep in such a wonderful bed.
They didn’t try to change into pyjamas; they didn’t even brush their teeth. And the only thing they said to each other was “Goodnight” when they lay down to sleep.
It was difficult to fall asleep, though. Their united hands made it practically impossible and so did the fact that neither of them had ever slept with someone so close by.
I don’t like him, I don’t like him, I don’t like him. She tried to drive him away from her mind, but his mouth and hands and… She tried harder.
He lay stiff in his bed, feeling quite annoyed. The bint had made his blood rise and now she was acting like nothing had happened. He wanted to pull her out of the funny hammock and strangle her, make her admit that it had been…wonderful… He wanted to…
He let his thumb caress the back of her hand and just before they fell asleep, she squeezed his hand and pulled it a bit closer.
The girl would be the end of him.
A/N: I always thank my reviewers, but I want to thank my silent readers too. :) You all mean so much to me.
Jenova did a wonderful job with betaing this chapter, yet again. I'm very happy to have such a great beta. :)
Those two familiar lines were borrowed from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, pages 110 and 111 (D’you want to be showing off your knickers in the mid air? and Keep that big bushy head down, Granger).
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