Chapter 17 : Darkness
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Hermione gently lifted the plank and set it aside, blocking the path once more. She sighed sadly, as she brushed her bag off and let it slip off her shoulders. Her back scraped the wall as she slid down and landed with a soft thump on the cold floor. She sat, closely her lids and let her thoughts overcome her. So much pain was inside her. She tried to cry, but dry tears were produced. This was what she had become, what he had reduced her to.
So much power, words had. And simple ones she’d gotten used to, had managed to break her, but why?
How many times had Malfoy said that to her? Too many. But this time, there was an effect on her. It didn't make any sense. It wasn’t fair, everything. Why was this the way things were? Her weakness was growing, especially towards him. So many questions and her mind just was not big enough to harbour all of that.
It hurt like hell. There was no other word for it. Just so much pain, the uncertainty of him. But how could she let something so simple get in the way?
Hermione was spoiled by his cheekiness and his looks. Her hands went up, hard against her forehead. Her attempt to stop her mind from churning was useless. How stupid this all was. She opened her eyes and bit her lip. It was too much. Too much unfairness – did all things have to happen to her? She was tired, tired of fighting. She wanted out.
And just then, a tip of a wand ignited a light. “Hello, Hermione.”
The cold water was beginning to numb his feet, as he dipped them in the lake. Draco brushed some hair away from his face and sat, thinking. He was a Death Eater.
Draco Malfoy is a Death Eater.
Draco Malfoy wants to be a Death Eater.
Draco Malfoy hates Mudbloods.
He threw a rock in water in frustration, causing splashes. The water made a wave, and went back to normal, the only sound being heard in the distance. Draco felt so frustrated. He was joking. He was bloody joking. She was too sensitive, anyway. It annoyed and aggravated him. He shut his eyes and swayed a little, inhaling and exhaling. His life was so terrible, and unfair.
He felt salty water pass his lips – he was now crying. “Great,” he muttered, as he wiped them away with his sleeves. Draco buried his face into his hands and shook his head; it was all he could do. Everything just felt so useless, so pathetically pointless. And unfair. That just about summed up his life, didn’t it? He chuckled bitterly, continuing to wipe away and look into the sky. The Slytherin Quidditch team was flying, trying out all the new moves. Draco remembered when Quidditch was something of importance in his life.
The Dark Lord had taken all that away with a flick of a wand. Draco was no longer a boy, but a boy pretending to be a man, pretending to be someone he didn’t want to be. But he still became a Death Eater, because he’d seen The Dark Lord take away someone’s parents. He’d seen him rip apart families. And Draco wasn’t going to let him do that to theirs. Despite his father’s cruelty, Draco knew that maybe there was still hope for his family. Lucius Malfoy did, after all, care for his mother deeply, even if Draco wasn’t given the same attention. He’d hoped he wouldn’t make the same mistakes his father did, but if he did learn one thing from his parents by watching, was how to love.
Lost in his deep thoughts carried away by waves, he missed the sound of light footsteps approaching, as they hit the ground gently. A slender hand touched his shoulder, and he startled. He turned around and Astoria Greengrass’ blue eyes looked down at him.
“Skipping class, I see?” she whispered, fog appearing from her mouth. Draco nodded, and turned back to look at the lake. He could most definitely not feel his feet anymore, and tried closing his eyes, listening. The girl sat beside him in silence and years past. They would be called peaceful moments, if his mind still wasn’t troubled.
But in those moments, Draco felt they had reached an understanding of some sort. A sense of security. He knew that Astoria could be trusted – almost like a friend. Tears began streaming down his face again and so he rested his head on her shoulder, and she held him. She was like a mother to a sick child, a sister to a brother, and so he cried some more, because for once – he could. She didn’t soothe him by saying it would be okay – she was smart enough to not say something that just wasn’t true. But what she did say was a statement, rather than a question. “Hermione Granger.”
Draco looked up and nodded, wiping his nose on his sleeve. “How did you know?”
Astoria shrugged, smiling. “Remember, on the train? I saw you come out of her compartment.” Draco nodded, and she motioned for him to come back. “You really like her, don’t you?”
And he didn’t respond, because he didn’t know. Was it minor infatuation, or something more? It was confusing, but he wasn’t sure. Was it possible to go from hate to love? Did he want someone, who was so fragile and broken? Because they both were, so did they stand a chance of surviving?
The answer was no. Their differences were keeping them apart. The forbidden side of it wasn’t an appeal; it was torture, a constant reminder of how unlike they were. Suddenly, he hugged Astoria, tightly. The weeping was no longer weeping, but heavy sobs because he was done.
He wanted to love Hermione anyway.
But he couldn’t, and he knew that. Hermione was in danger already due to her blood, and Draco couldn’t add onto that. He had to keep her safe, and so he knew what he had to do. He stood up abruptly, almost knocking Astoria down. He was shaking furiously, from the cold and his limited choices.
Astoria looked up at him, smiling. “Go be with her, Draco. I know it’s hard, our families – they don’t go with Granger’s kind. But she’s special, isn’t she?”
If only you knew, Astoria.
If only you knew.
The trip back to the castle had taken too long. His steps were heavy, weighing him down. He had to do it, and so he walked. He was just passing the Great Hall, when someone called his name. Draco turned around and his mouth twitched malevolently. Snape.
“Draco, skipping class?” he sneered. “Come with me.” Draco looked around uneasily – why had Snape come now, out of all the times? It would be much easier to do what he had set out to right now, in one go. But Draco followed anyway, still torn.
They entered the Professor’s too well known cold office in the dungeons, and Snape motioned for him to sit down. Draco did not. “You constantly try to avoid me, Draco. Need I remind you what occurred during the last meeting with our Master?”
Draco twitched involuntarily. “Stop interfering,” he spat.
“Listen to me young man,” Snape began, his voice barely a whisper. “If you even knew, the danger your mother and I are in every second that passes, you would at least try –"
Draco clenched his fist and said, his teeth barred, “Do you know the danger I’m in?” Snape looked on, his lips playing a sign of amusement. “I know what I’m doing, it’s working. I’m really close to finishing – "
“No, you are not close to finishing, Malfoy. Don’t lie. I see you running around the seventh floor. You spend more time in the bathrooms than you do in class,” Snape sneered.
Draco glared at him. The silence held for an eternity, before Draco swept out of the office. He could feel Snape’s black, cold eyes through the back of his head, but he continued walking anyway. He considered gallivanting around the corridors, but he knew he had to find her. But where could she be? Classes were going to be dismissed soon, but he didn’t know where she would go next.
His mind was so full, of so many things; he decided he needed a place to think. A quiet place, inside. And so he went to the one place he knew, where both good things had happened, and things he’d rather not remember for let’s say – forever.
“You,” she seethed. Hermione’s eyes narrowed, forgetting all of her thoughts and new ones charged in. In a way, she was glad to see him. It had been only a few hours, yet there was something she couldn’t put her finger on. It was there, but then it wasn’t. He raised his hands in surrender.
“Calm down, Hermione. I don’t even know why you got so worked up, anyway.”
Hermione studied him closely. She could barely make him out, even from the light from his wand. She sighed, and got up, picking up her books. “Wait,” he said. And as if she was under the Imperius Curse, she did. Or more so, her heart did. Her brain sent her warning signals, but she waited any way.
“What now, Malfoy?” she asked.
“I was joking,” he said. She turned to look at him, and she saw that he seemed to be struggling for words.
Draco gulped. He had to do it. He had to. He opened his mouth to say it, but he couldn’t form the words. So he just nodded. “Yeah, I was.”
He mentally kicked himself. He couldn’t even keep her safe, could he? All he had to do was insult her, and then go away, forever. Leave her alone, and more importantly, safe. The less she had to do with him, the better. But he couldn’t. Why was she so overpowering?
“I’m sorry,” she said. Draco was taken aback, at her words. She smiled mischievously. “I was being really stupid, I have no clue whatsoever why I cried. I’m sorry, Malfoy.”
This is it, he thought. Just say it, now.
But he couldn’t get it out. So he said what his heart wanted, not what his mind screamed in refusal. “I love you.” He regretted it the moment he said it. There was no turning back now.
Hermione looked at him in consideration, and nodded. “Okay,” she whispered. She leaned in to him, placing her hand on his chest. Draco closed his eyes as his lips met hers. It was so good, it hurt. Hurt because he knew he’d been stupid to admit it. He’d messed up, but now he couldn’t push her away.
Because all he’d really done, was pull her into a web of darkness and lies.
He deepened the kiss, their lips moving more furiously. Draco savoured it. How long would this last, before it had to end? They had perhaps days, maybe weeks. Draco didn’t want to end it, but Hermione was smart. She’d figure it out, wouldn’t she? He felt his eyes sting again, and broke the kiss. He felt her soft hands on his face, grazing it. It felt so heavenly, but he knew that there was only one thing to follow.
AN: This one's for Sophie. I'm sorry for taking a million years to do this. November is the month of NaNoWriMo, and I hope to finish this story this month. I'm sorry for this chaper and all of it's unedited glory! Thanks for reading, and drop me a line in the box below, if you'd like. Typos I missed (I know I missed some, I know I did.. I'm a bad editer - or lazy, I guess) can be reported in the box below too, and I'll fix them!
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