Author's Note: This story is created for Voleuse who requested the fic in the Celebrate the Season with Draco/Hermione Fic Exchange.
Thank yous to my lovely beta Paprika, Bewilderment for pointing out some odd things here and there, reetinkerbell, m1s7resss, and lunas_scrolls for helping me with just about everything! Without these people, I'd be...nothing.
*smootches them all*
Also, the little italicized portions at the beginning of each section below are from a poem I wrote especially for this story.
Not Bad at Heart Right and wrong were all based on deceptive perception.
Excuses were meaningless unless people believed them.
Reality couldnít be changed with just the will of the mind
He couldnít control what people believed, he couldnít control time.
Sure he was the son of a two-faced Death Eater and even became one himself; and sure he manipulated people, and used his name and his wealth to get his way. Sure he tried to kill Dumbledore a handful of times Ėonly to fail in every single oneĖ but he wasnít bad at heart.
He just had a little trouble figuring out what his identity was. All the things he did Ėthe scheming, the lying, the attempts at murderĖ it was just his way of finding himself, becoming one with his mind. It was just a part of growth, losing his innocence and then dealing with the horrendous fact that yes, his father had a lot of money but he couldnít buy his son safety. Or dealing with the realization he wasnít the center of the universe, that he may have thought he was tough, but then that Potter boy came along and showed him that he most definitely wasnít.
He was just a whiney little boy who couldnít kill Dumbledore even if the old, Muggle-candy loving loon was transfigured into a lemon-drop Ėin which case it would've been easy for him to simply crush him with the soles of his expensive, dragon-hide boots.
It wasnít his fault he was a spoiled brat. It wasnít his fault that when the protective bubble his father had created around him popped and he fell several feet from that illusionary cloud in the sky, there was nothing there to cushion his fall.
And as they left him there, on a bed of broken glass, his dream of being one of the adults, the big guys, hailed for his wit and strength, was shattered. He was hurt, in dire need of someone to help him, to pluck out the pieces of glass that pricked him, and cradle him in tender loving arms. He wanted to go back to being treated like a baby. He didnít like being grown-up.
He didnít want to repent, though. He couldnít say that what he did was wrong. He did what he knew, for in the world, there was no bad and there was no good, it was all based on perception. In his view, nothing he did was wrong, but then again, nothing he did was right either.
And he couldnít run away from it all. How long was he going to hide from himself? Just hoping that his world would go back to the pretty green fields, rainbows, and butterflies it used to be didnít mean it was going to happen. He couldnít continue to lie to himself, not when he knew, not when the whole world knew what he'd done.
He wasnít bad at heart, he kept telling himself. He wasnít bad at heart.
As he hid beneath the ash, she found him
She wore no mask of false compassion.
Just another look at him and she fell
Captive to the lies, enchanted in his spell.
She saw him among the dead bodies.
She didnít know he would be there. She hadn't prepared herself for this encounter; there was no way she could have expected it.
As she saw him there on the filthy, bloodstained floor, battered and bruised, her heart twisted and recoiled. Forgetting her own grief, she pitied him, felt remorse for his situation.
She walked around his unconscious body. As first, she hesitated, then bent her head and took his arm. The tip of her fingers paused over a throbbing vein.
He was alive.
It was a shame.
Had he been dead, she wouldnít have the need to kill him.
She had been ordered to kill those of his kind. It didnít matter if he was unconscious, it didnít matter if she was too filled with grief to use the wand in her fingertips. It was the wand she wished she had owned when she was young but now had become an object of killing, to filled with grief to even consider using it again to take the life of a human being.
Still, she just had to do it.
She raised her wand over his head. Her lips were quivering, her wand shaking. She quickly brushed the tears that clouded her vision and poised herself.
The wand wavered over him. She closed her eyes remembered the death of the man she held so dearly in her heart, the lifeless blue eyes that refused to see. And then, the other man, the center of their world, torn, shaken, and shattered. She knew too well of what the effects of the two heinous words were.
"Itís going to take you all day for you to kill me isnít it, Granger?" he told her. She looked down. He was awake. His voice was hoarse--had it just cracked?--but the cool derisive undertone remained. His face looked pained, yet he still managed to smirk through his chapped, bloody lips.
It almost felt like they were back in Hogwarts. Almost. With the exception of the horrible experiences in between, the unpleasant images burned into their retinas, the sorrow, the pain, and the many lies.
"It wouldíve taken just a second if you didnít open your mouth, Malfoy." The words came out of her mouth without her control. She couldnít help but lapse back to normal, whatever that was, around him.
He chuckled at her. "Right, you keep thinking that."
She turned red in indignation, but he took no heed and attempted to sit up. He groaned, unable to make it. His eyes were glossy and red from the pain and the exertion.
A dam was breaking in her heart.
"I wish youíd just kill me quickly, Granger," he whispered.
"But I know you wonít do that."
"What makes you so sure?" Her voice trembled.
He attempted to smirk, but she supposed the pain this time didnít allow him to. "Because youíll regret it. You lost so many peopleóPotter, Weasley, the Weaselette, everyoneóyou canít afford to lose anyone else."
He opened his eyes and looked at her straight into her brown eyes, straight into her soul. "And you know," he said as he tried to pout his lips and give her the most innocent look he could muster while being so battered, "You know Iím not bad at heart."
She would have smiled at his antics provided the situation wasnít so severe. Instead, she sunk down on her knees and dropped her wand in front of her. She watched it, almost like watching a bloody dagger that showed off the crimes the bearer committed, and felt sick to her stomach.
Looking back at him, she realized he was right. She just couldnít kill himócouldnít add another count to the number of deaths that stained her hands.
Without a word more, she picked up her wand and pointed it at him. His eyes were level with hers. He flinched, possibly thinking that she was going to kill him.
But she didnít.
Instead, her spells just healed his wounds. When it was over, she sat next to him. He was still lying on the ground.
They looked at each other in silence.
When the sound of flies attacking the rotting flesh became unbearable, she asked him, "Where will you go after this?"
He sat up and shrugged his shoulders. He didnít know where he would be going next. He didnít know what life had him store for him. He thought upon seeing Granger that his death was eminent. He never thought of what the future had in store for him. Since the demise of the Dark Lord, did he really have anything to fall back on? His father, too, couldnít protect him. He didnít then and he couldnít now.
The silence fell upon them again. For some reason, sitting in the aftermath of a battle filled with corpses didnít affect them. It was as though death was a part of them. Though her side won, it didnít feel that way to her; and as for him, he'd lost long ago.
"Thatís a shame," she told him.
"Just a little."
She rolled her eyes and then looked back at him, he was smiling.
It was scary.
"Please, Malfoy, do me a favor and never smile again. Itís freaky."
He began to laugh. The tension lifted slightly. She smiled too.
It was odd how circumstances were sometimes. If anyone told them that they were going to sit together after the war, after she nearly killed him, laughing among dead bodies, they wouldnít believe it.
Draco looked away from her, to his left after he realized the laugh had brought the awkward silence to creep upon them again. To occupy herself, Hermione looked around the battlefield. She was surprised that no one came to collect and bury the dead bodies as of yet. Rejoicing for a won battle surely couldn't mean they would leave the bodies here to rot.
Unexpectedly, she saw a wand on the ground that caught her attention. She picked it up with a frown in her face.
"Hey, Malfoy, is this yours?"
His pensive expression changed drastically when he noticed the cinnamon colored wood.
He snatched it from her hand. "No," he snapped. He clutched it tightly to his chest with his eyes painfully closed. He paused, sighed to collect himself, and then whispered, "It was my mumís."
Hermione bit her lip. She didn't know Narcissa Malfoy was killed during the war. Was that why he was so withdrawn in himself, why he looked as though he lost all hope in life? When she looked in his eyes, she could see the pain trapped inside them. Suddenly, the Draco Malfoy she remembered was becoming a glossy memory in her mind, and the one who stood before her was stealing her sympathy and even her heart.
She stood up and turned around so she couldn't see him.
She wanted to stop these emotions from spilling from her without her control. She was supposed to kill him not be sympathetic to him. For all she knew, he could be lying to her.
She turned around to tell him she was leaving, but when she saw his face, she wasn't able to look away. She thought by closing her eyes, she would be able to block the emotions but it didn't happen. She felt her fingers uncurl from the nervous fist she created and open up to him.
"I know how you feel," she told him. And she did. When Ron died, it was as if the entire world collapsed and nothing mattered anymore.
He stood up and took her opened hand in his. They were trembling so she brought them closer to her, closing the distance between them. The kiss that followed was supposed to be for comfort, nothing more, but when their lips had met, it took a whole other form. His lips moved slow and smooth against hers and she craved more of it, sliding her tongue between his hot, inviting mouth. Her brain was muddled, completely numb from all thought. Her nerves were buzzing from his kiss. If she had any hesitation, any reluctance at all, it vanished.
She broke away from him to breathe then dropped her head to rest on his chest, inhaling his scent, becoming intoxicated.
"Letís get out of here," she whispered deliriously.
Light seeped through the crack in the door.
Night was ending but he wanted more.
His eyes were shut; he refused to see
How she left his arms and was slipping.
When the morning came, he refused to acknowledge it. For some reason, he didnít want there to be any light He feared the sun would expose him to her and he didnít want to let go of the tender arms that held him so. He didnít expect her to let him live, let alone allow him fill her emptiness.
She woke up. He knew it because he felt her warm hands remove his from the tight grip around her waist.
He knew that harsh reason had gripped her when she took a sharp intake of breath and when she turned around and saw him, saw her enemy in her bed.
He was awake, yet refused to see the expression on her face, in fear.
"I canít believe itÖ" she whispered in disbelief. There was silence. He knew what she was thinking. She was thinking about what she did, how she betrayed herself, how she committed something so obviously forbidden. To console herself, she was going to ask him if he loved her, if he was remotely repentant.
And he didnít say a thing in response because what he would tell her wouldnít be the truth. He would tell her what he told himself day after day. He would tell that he wasnít bad at heart, but those words would hold no weight to her. She was too smart to believe half-truths.
He watched her as she crawled out of the covers, pulled on her clothes, and walked out the door. She didnít kill him, but she didnít take another glance back either.
He watched her leave, and went back to closing his eyes. What happened in his life may have not been his fault, but he had the choice to make his own destiny, choose the right path. He didnít.
He wanted to tell himself that he wasnít bad at heart in consolation, but the words just didnít come to his lips.
Because he was a liar, he was a cheat
He had to stop someday. He had to admit defeat.
Repeating the same lies wasnít going to make them true
This he knew, they knew, she knew.
He wasnít bad at heart.
This was the request: Three things you want your fic to include:
1. Set after the War
2. Sarcasm and cinnamon
3. Regret about lost friends Three things you do not want your fic to include:
2. Onscreen Harry or Ron
3. Rape/non-con Anything specific that you do not want to write: Non-con, excessive violence, or fluff
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