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Chapter 22 : Kiss Me Goodbye, Love
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Draco sat silent on the edge of a narrow hospital bed, sore from his wounds, pondering how much he should really tell Hermione about his scars. She asked and so he would answer.
The duel with his father long ago began with a conversation about her, but he didn’t want her to feel some sort of misplaced guilt. He would be careful with his words.
Slowly Hermione moved to him, unsure if she would be welcome, considering it was her best friend that caused his pain.
His scars and bandages drew her ever closer and closer until she was sitting on his bed close behind him. She didn’t want to invade his space, but at the same time, she wanted to comfort him somehow. When she could no longer stand to not touch him, she placed soft fingertips to his shoulder blade, tracing the longest scar.
“Oh, Draco… What happened to you?” she breathed against his skin.
He felt her touch, her warm breath. It was so calming, it allowed him to exhale nearly all of the pain that remained after taking the elixir. He wasn’t surprised at her ability to make him feel better.
“Several years ago, I questioned certain… things that angered my father.” He paused for a moment, being careful to tell her precisely what he wanted her to know. “Words were said. Threats were made and a duel ensued. A spell hit a mirror and it shattered into my back.”
“Oh, no. Your father did this to you?” Full of pity, she pressed her lips ever-so-lightly to his back, again and again, softly kissing his scars as if they were still hurting. Placing her palm flat against him, she leaned in and placed her cheek to his shoulder blade, moving in closer. “No father should ever duel a son. That’s terrible. It’s… it’s…” She struggled with the word she was looking for, but he finished her sentence.
“It was ultimately, an accident, Hermione. I started the duel, the mirror ended it. Father didn’t mean to hurt me so badly. I can’t say the same for the new wounds.”
Draco smartly changed the subject with an accusatory tone that had Hermione defending her best friend.
“Harry didn’t mean it,” she started, trying to be convincing.
“Oh, yes he most certainly did. For a curse to work properly, you have to mean it, Hermione.”
“Yes, but, he didn’t know that it would do that much damage. You must believe me,” she pleaded. “He only wanted answers. He thinks you hexed Katie Bell to deliver a cursed necklace to Dumbledore.”
She hadn’t meant to bring it up, but it just blurted out as an explanation of sorts.
He could feel the heat of guilt sear through his veins… that and anger that had him snapping his head to face her.
“Is that why you came here tonight? For answers? Is that why you got so close to me?” he accused. “So that you could spy for your precious Potter?”
His temper flared at the thought. Not her! The only person in the world he thought would never use him for anything!
“No. You know that isn’t true,” she said gently, trying to keep him calm, looking at him with sincere concern in her eyes. “You know it. Besides, I know that you could never do something like that. Long ago, I would’ve thought it possible, but not now. Not now that I know who you really are.”
He turned away, suddenly unable to look at her… unable to breathe in the presence of the dreadful truth.
“You two have distrusted each other from day one and it’s no surprise. He doesn’t know how much you’ve changed into this kind person that I know you to be.”
Kind? Her words were torture like stab wounds, killing his conscience. She didn’t know him at all.
“Forgive me,” he began, thinking about what he was truly sorry for, but the truth still wouldn’t come. “But I’d rather not discuss your saint of a friend that nearly killed me.” He practically spat the words like venom on his tongue.
“Alright. I’m sorry.” She scolded herself in her mind. Of course he wouldn’t want to talk about Harry. “But will you tell me one thing?”
Draco instantly feared what she was going to ask next. Would she want a straight answer about Katie Bell? His heart skipped a beat as he waited for her words.
“Are you still hurting? I must know that you are okay. They gave you pain elixir, right? And they sealed the wounds good? Yes?”
Draco hid his relief well.
“Yes. The elixir began working before you got here. I’m alright. For now, anyway.”
His back still to her, she couldn’t help but feel as though he was trying to shut her out. He had answered her question, but remained purposefully distant.
“Draco, I feel as though I’m speaking to you through a wall. Please, turn to me.”
There certainly was a barrier between them, but she hoped it would be crumbling soon.
He shook his head denying her and simply stated, “You shouldn’t be here.”
Instead of being a bit hurt, his words only sealed her resolve.
She stood from the bed and stepped back through the privacy curtains still hovering around them, but only long enough to magically seal the doors to the hospital wing shut so that no one could walk in on them and then cast the Muffliato to keep their conversation as private as magically possible. Stepping around to his side of the bed, she stood very close, directly in front of him.
“No, Draco. It is you who should not be here.” Her belly practically at his face, she ran her fingers through his hair and placed her feather-light fingers onto his bare shoulders and then proceeded to press him toward her with gentle encouragement.
Giving in to the gesture, his hands slid to her hips and his forehead went to her midsection, wishing he could do more and knowing that he shouldn’t.
“Do you understand why I came here tonight? I had to see you, to touch you… and know that you were alright. I was so worried for you that I had to see you.” She looked down a bit before continuing, worried about what he would say. “I know that we are not together, but when I heard what happened, all I wanted to do was to find you and take your pain away. All of it,” she confessed. “I want you to forget what happened, forget what has been weighing on you all this time.”
She felt him squeeze at her hips. Perhaps she had hit a nerve of some kind. He was responding to her and pressing into her harder than before.
“I want you to forget that you’re a Malfoy and that I’m a Muggleborn. Forget everything just like we always do when we are together. Just you and me and no one else.”
His breathing grew a bit heavier as he pondered her words and the incredible feeling of her hands moving softly along his skin.
“Your vault’s message resonates in me over and over again. I’ve had many sleepless nights thinking about it and… And I have an answer for you,” she told him, still stroking his back lovingly while he remained ever-silent.
It was risky for her to voice her feelings, she knew, but somehow her heart told her that he was worth the risk.
“You’ve held my hand. You’ve kissed my lips.” She paused and bent over slightly, kissing the top of his head and hugging him tighter to her body. “Now… make love to the one that is forbidden,” she whispered. “And then maybe your heart and mind won’t be so dark.”
Draco sat frozen against her, shocked at what she had just said and in disbelief. Did she just use his own words to offer herself to him?
He was about to tell her all of the reasons why they shouldn’t. How there wasn’t going to be a happy ending for them. How making love to her would not change him… or make him better… neither would it change the choice he had made.
But he didn’t expect to hear the intimate words that were to come next. And he certainly didn’t expect them to be so powerful.
“I only offer this because,” she swallowed hard, trying to gain her courage. “Because… I’m in love with you.”
Hermione had thought about this over and over again. She loved him and with him nearly dying, she didn’t want any more time to pass without telling him. And if he felt the same, then maybe they could find a way to be together and love each other despite the world.
Draco’s mind raced surprisingly to all the women who wanted him for a variety of different reasons, but love was never one of them. It was never about love or even caring about him. She was so different in so many ways, but this… her reason was so deeply different. She wanted to be with him because she loved him. There was no other reason. Just him. And it was actually spoken, which brought a whole new level to everything. And it was genuine. And it was true. But most of all, it was tragic.
“We… we cannot,” he finally managed to say to the floor, but clearly torn and struggling. She could feel it in the way he clung to her hips and in the way he was breathing. He wanted her. He wanted nothing more in that moment than to love her. His reaction of a love restrained was enough to quiet her fears that he might not feel the same.
“Who is here to say that we cannot?” she asked him in a breath. “In saying no, we only deprive ourselves.”
She could feel the struggle within him and wished he would stop fighting his feelings for her. She wasn’t sure what to do except continue encouraging him so that he would understand that she was okay with it… that he was what she wanted.
Hermione backed away from him slightly and proceeded to lift the hem of her shirt, exposing her skin to him. She then placed her hands to his and nudged them from her hips to just under her ribs.
In feeling her bare skin, Draco couldn’t help but to look at her bare belly and without thinking a moment further, placed his mouth to a spot just above her navel, kissing her dangerously close to a zone normally off limits.
He felt her body shutter against his lips as he moved a hand to brush against that very zone through her clothes. His touch stole her breath and made her knees weak so much that she thought she might fall. But that was okay because suddenly with one quick twist, she found herself wrapped in his arms and pulled to the bed.
His heart craved her, his very soul wanted to feel what it was like to experience someone who actually loved him. This was it… the real thing and he wanted it more than anything in this world and it was about to happen.
They began moving together, caressing and kissing and holding each other. But the bed was so narrow, she lost her balance and nearly fell to the floor, but he grabbed her waist and pulled her tight underneath him.
He was careful as to where he was placing his weight, so as not to crush her.
Hermione felt it so natural to send him clear signals as to what she desired. She was ready for this. She’d never been more ready in her whole life. She had waited to give her body to the one that she loved most that loved her in return. Her heart raced at the thrill of being with him and the anticipation of experiencing the most intimate act of love together… to feel him.
Draco couldn’t believe the way that she had wrapped herself around him. With her feminine touches and encouraging movements, he’d never felt so much love from anyone and was lost in wonder at how they were making love with clothes still on… only mere threads preventing him from going further.
He loved how she was holding him tight and how her kiss was revealing what her heart was feeling… nothing but love and desire for him.
“Make love to me, Draco,” she whispered into his ear as she slipped her fingers into the waist band of his shorts.
But Draco began to think about what she was saying. Love was ‘knowing someone’s faults and flaws and loving them anyway,’ right? And she did not know everything. She didn’t know the truth.
He tried to block it out of his mind, but failed. With every taste, every move, he began despising the truth and hating every one and every thing that ever told him that he could not have her.
But he knew that making love to her now, without her knowing he was Death Eater would be twisted and diabolical and would bring her shame when she found out after the fact. He knew the sting of shame and regret from his past intimate experiences with women and he could not do that to her. He would not bring her shame even if it meant losing her. He would allow her to keep her dignity by allowing her to make a choice.
Would she still love him after all? He had to know. The truth had to be told before they went any further.
Oh, how he could have her now, but the concealed Dark Mark was like a handcuff restraining him.
He had to tell her, even if it brought the worst kind of reaction… her rejection.
Draco moved to her side and she took that as a queue to remove her clothing that she now wanted to be rid of. Heat was burning through her and she wanted her skin to be moving against his. She was breathless and felt desperate for him. She was about to remove her shirt…
But he stopped her.
“Wait,” he reluctantly told her. “You…” he paused; chest heaving in an attempt to catch his breath and unsure if he would actually be able to speak it. “You would make love… with a Death Eater?”
Hermione’s eyes grew wide at his words. What did he just say? The shock of it froze her breath and her heart. A cold terror crept its way through her as she lie next to him. It was as if a Dementor had just swept into the room and sucked the joy out of her life.
No. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. She knew there had been a possibility, but hadn’t believed that it was true. Not after everything they had shared together. Not the Draco that had shown her his heart. It wasn’t possible, was it?
As he waited for her reaction, he reached around her and began unraveling the bandage concealing his mark. Soon, she would be able to see it and feel it and finally know the truth.
The bandage dropped silently to the floor and suddenly everything felt cold.
Her answer would determine what would happen next. He waited, but her reaction did not come as abruptly as he thought it might. Instead, she stayed close to him, still in disbelief. She could not bring herself to look at the mark. She couldn’t do it. Instead, she turned her head in the opposite direction, not wanting to accept the truth.
His heart saddened at her reaction. He knew why she didn’t want to see it. It was far too heartbreaking. But not acknowledging it did not make it untrue.
Draco slid her hand from his chest to the raised skin on his forearm. And for a few intense seconds, Hermione's fingertips brushed over the symbol that struck fear in so many.
“Can you feel it?” he asked in a low dark whisper.
Her senses on overdrive and her mind racing, she said nothing while Draco hoped for the nearly impossible… that despite the darkness, she could still find a way to love him.
“Could you love a Death Eater?”
Draco could not breathe until he had an answer. Could she really love him?
“No,” she whispered, not wanting to believe it. She could not bring herself to look at the Dark Mark. But when she traced the evidence with a delicate touch, she knew it to be true. Her head shook slightly at first. But then her whispered answer turned into a shout.
“No!” she yelled as she sprang from the bed to her feet wielding her wand, ready to defend herself against an enemy that had just shattered her heart to dust.
And with her answer painfully echoing in the vast space above them, she had unknowingly just shattered his.
As she turned to him, he already had his wand drawn and pointing directly at her.
“How could you do it?!” she screamed at him. “After everything this year? After our time in the Room of Hidden Things and… and after we came together in the Prefect’s Bathroom? How could you do it after everything?!”
“I took the mark last summer just before school started… before you and I ever got close,” he calmly explained, despite the pounding in his chest.
“No. That’s not possible. You can’t hide the Dark Mark like you can your scars. It wasn’t there when we…”
“It can be concealed, but only temporary. Only for an hour or so.”
“An hour? Oh, my God, the hourglass!” Her freehand went to her head in disbelief. She should’ve known better. She should’ve known better than to trust him! “Trust me for an hour, you said. Was everything a lie?” she demanded to know.
Draco was immediately hurt by her accusation. She could see it on his face.
“Did my embrace ever feel like a lie to you? What we nearly did, just now? Did it feel like a lie?”
Whatever it was, it felt like a lie to her now. And she felt like a fool.
Wands pointed, hearts heavy with grief, the two glared at each other with pain in their eyes, wondering if they would actually use their wands. They didn’t want to. But Draco could not allow her to immobilize him in any way… not with what was supposed to happen on this very night. All she could feel was the pain of his betrayal, the one her heart loved the most in this world.
“It didn’t have to be like this,” she said through her tears. “It never had to be like this. You could’ve joined us. Dumbledore’s Army. The Order of the Phoenix. You could’ve joined us and helped us! You still can,” she pleaded, wanting to lower her wand. But her better judgment told her she could not. “I never asked you for anything, you know. I never pressed you for information, but if you know of dark plans, then I beg you… tell me. Tell Dumbledore… or the Ministry so that they can help you.”
“I told you in the tower, I trust no one fully. And a word of advice to you… Never trust anyone in the Ministry. I promise you, it is corrupted.”
“You see? With your connections, you have the unique opportunity to be great… to be an informant, Malfoy. Work with us.”
“Why? Because of your blasted dark family?” she yelled as she became fiery mad.
“With as much access as I will have to the Dark Lord and with them knowing I went to school with Potter and our hundreds of mutual school acquaintances, I’d be prime suspect number one as a bloody rat! I can’t do a single act that could be misinterpreted or minutely construed into a suggestion that I might try to pass any information along to the Order. If the time ever comes, don’t call on me to help you. I cannot and I won’t.”
“Yes, a coward who warns you now. Dark times are not ahead. Dark times are now… as we speak.”
“Does a warning really help? You tell me nothing!” she spat.
“A warning is all I have to give you. And yes, I pray that my warning will have you thinking about war instead of that book I gave you or the next Arithmancy test! Does surviving what’s happening concern you at all? Because that is all that I think about. I will do whatever I must to help my family. I would expect you of all people, to understand that.”
“I will never understand how can you can kiss me and still be a Death Eater. You’ve broken my heart, Draco,” she sobbed. “And I hate you for it.”
As soon as the words uttered from her lips, she had to try her best not to collapse onto the floor and cry a river of sorrow at all that was lost.
“You hate me for breaking your heart, but truly I’ve done nothing to you or your friends yet. You will hate me for what I will do. You will hate me for what I have become.”
Her eyes glared into his. Gone was the great look of concern that had formerly defined her feelings for him. Instead, it was replaced with hurt.
Neither had lowered their wand. The air was thick with tension and emotional pain.
“I loved you,” she finally told him, struggling to find her voice through the lump in her throat and the pain coming from her heart. “I truly loved you. But it isn’t enough to sway you, is it? It’s not enough,” she said as the realization tore her insides to shreds.
“Save your love for someone who deserves it.”
“You say that… and still you claim to be one of them?”
“I am everything Harry suspected me to be. I have made my choice. And you have made yours.”
The pain of his words sliced at them both. It hurt, cutting them deep until there was only one thing left to do.
With wands still pointed, he saw hers move… the slightest beginnings of a spell. He anticipated and was ready for whatever might come at him.
“Stupify!” she cast with all that was in her, but he blocked it and cast a perfect Imperius curse before she could blink.
It was so precise, it was as if he created the curse himself. For he wanted her to still have her mind, but not have full control over her body.
At first, he remained silent, carefully pondering what he should command of her. A rush of thoughts came to him, but ultimately he chose what was best for her sake… and his.
For they were truly over. What was never meant to be had climbed to a most beautiful height, only to abruptly plunge from a cliff in the end.
Trust was dead. Their relationship was dead. And yet through it all, love had survived, even if it was only one-sided, he thought.
Taking cautious steps, he finally approached her as a man fully in love, looking very much heartbroken by her choice, by her rejection. He could not blame her. He knew what would happen, which was why he had concealed the truth from her for so long. He had held an inkling of hope that she might understand. But hope had let him down, just as he suspected it always would.
Oh, how he would miss her, he thought as he looked into her now sad eyes.
“Kiss me goodbye, Love,” he instructed with a pained look and all the love for her felt deep within.
Slowly her hands came up, fingers parted, to touch the face of the man she still deeply loved.
He leaned in and they came together one last time.
It was selfish of him, yes, but he wanted one last kiss that made it seem as though she still loved him, however false it might be.
He kept his kiss soft and loving as he thought of all the things that he wished could’ve been different. But a wish wasn’t anywhere near the reality that tore them apart.
Their kiss was far from that of two people that would one day kiss again. It was a final act of love laced with great personal tragedy that lingered until her emotions involuntarily surfaced. More tears fell and then he felt her sob and whimper against his lips. Only then did he end the kiss by barely moving from her.
He had interpreted her sob incorrectly and thought it was because she now despised him and what he was doing. But he couldn’t have been more wrong. It was her love that she would always have for him that had caused her tears.
He bent down and in a low, but clear voice, gave her specific instructions.
“You are very tired,” he told her, wiping away her tears. “You will go to your room… speak to no one… climb into bed… and go to sleep.” And in a rather broken voice said, “And know… that I’ll be loving you until the day that I die.”
He fought tears and then...
“Go!” he demanded.
Hermione took a step backward as the curse took over her every action. Then another as she watched his grief-stricken gray eyes turn glossy.
She fought turning her back to him, but it was no use.
She tried to shout, “Wait!” But it would not come out.
He had just told her that he loved her. He actually said it and she now wanted to take back what she said about hating him. She would always love him. But the powerful Unforgivable Imperius curse prevented her from speaking. She wanted to say it, but agonizingly could not.
It was too late.
The curse overtook her and she was at the door. It unlocked with a loud click and soon she was gone.
Draco nearly doubled over, feeling sick and wanting to crawl into a hole and never come out. What had he done? What pain had he caused them both?
But just then Draco heard something that abruptly caught his attention. It was a faint, but threatening roll of thunder in the distance that began to rattle the grand windows of the place, an omen of dark events that would be transpiring all too soon.
Not an easy chapter to write. Flow, order of things, how much to reveal, many struggles with this one. A thank you to Megthechef43 for her undying patience for this story and her help with the Snowflake that allowed me to push through severe writer's block. :)
"Kiss me goodbye, Love." ;( *cries*
Much love to those still reading this story.
P.S. This story has reached 50,500 reads! Unreal! My heart thanks you for each and every single one. Amazing!
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