Chapter 1 : Worth
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Draco Malfoy sat quietly in the shared common room of the head dorms. The sleeves of his crisp white button-down shirt were rolled up to the elbows exposing his forearms. He was tracing the skull and snake tattoo on the left forearm with the index finger of his right hand. The anger built in his expression as his hair fell into his eyes. He made no move to brush the hair back into place but instead rose and began to trash the room around him.
He tore books off shelves, kicked over furniture and ripped paintings from the walls. He didn't stop – barely even noticed – as the head girl walked in on the disastrous scene. "Malfoy! What in the name of Merlin are you bloody doing?" She yelled staring wide eyed at the mess. He didn't answer her, choosing to instead kick the coffee table, making it tumble in the air and then hit the wall. "Stop!" But he wouldn't.
She dropped everything she was carrying on the floor and, forgetting her wand, rushed forward to try and hold him back from doing any more damage. He wrestled away from her a few times before giving up and letting her hold him. After a few moments he spoke. "Let go, Granger."
"Will you promise to leave the room alone?"
"Fine." She let go.
"Are you all ri-" he was turning toward her and as her eyes caught sight of the ugly dark mark etched into his skin. Her words died before reaching her throat. She just stared at it for a long time.
"I never wanted it."His voice was cold etched with pleading.
"He forced you." Her voice trembled with horrible sympathy and hate.
"Because Voldemort wanted me and, since my father is nothing more than Voldie's personal bitch, he got me." Draco's voice had gone flat.
Hermione liked to believe she'd gotten to know him over the last seven months of living together and she knew he wasn't like his father, not really. He was only exceptionally good at pretending. He had to be to survive. She realized, looking at the blank mask that covered his emotions, that it hurt that he was hiding from her. She had come to care about him and there really was no need for him to hide. She understood.
She reached out to touch his left arm and he flinched away. He believed he was worthless, she knew. His father had beaten it into him practically from birth that he was nothing but a tool of the Dark Lord; he had no right to anything else, no choice. She believed differently.
She reached out again this time wrapping her slim hand around his elbow before he could move far enough away. She held him with one hand and brushed the fingers of the other across the black mark.
"Don't-" He started to argue, she interrupted.
"Shhh." He, to the surprise of both, listened. She traced the contours of the tattoo, then looked Draco squarely in the eyes as she brought his arm up to lightly press her lips to the black. His mouth opened in protest but no sound emerged as her lips touched his skin.
She moved a hand to caress his face tenderly; fingers gliding over his eyebrow and down the side to his chin and then back into his hair. His mask flickered and slipped. She stepped closer and pressed her lips gently to his; he pressed back just as gently. She pulled away only to graze her nose up the edge of his jaw to his ear making him sigh. When she spoke her voice was the barest whisper, "You're worth more than anyone realizes. I see you."
And then she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him as close as she could manage.
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