Isolation

He can't leave the room. Her room. And it's all the Order's fault. Confined to a small space with only the Mudblood for company, something's going to give. Maybe his sanity. Maybe not. "There," she spat. "Now your Blood's filthy too!" DM/HG. PostHBP.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6291747/1/Isolation

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14. Crave

"No," Tonks shook her head. "The letter the boys sent Remus didn't explain much, but does it really matter? As long as it's gone."

"I guess not," Hermione agreed absently. "I just wish I could do a little more to help, and maybe if I knew how they'd destroyed the locket-

"You're doing fine," she assured her friend. "Things are going well; the Ministry is holding fine and another Horcrux has been destroyed. Don't get me wrong, we could be doing better-

"A lot better," she sighed, combing her curls out of her face with her fingers. "I should have gone with them-

"Your talents are best suited helping McGonagall at Hogwarts," Tonks said. "The boys are clearly doing okay, and the Order wanted one of you to stay where we could reach you-

"I know," she frowned tiredly, rubbing her eyes. "I just don't know how much use I am here. All I seem to be doing is organising Christmas balls and other Head stuff that is completely unnecessary."

"You can't blame McGonagall for trying keep spirits up," the older witch offered her a light shrug. "A Christmas ball could be good for you. You told me how much fun you had at the Yule Ball. Have any famous Bulgarians asked you to go this time?"

Hermione felt a smile crawl up her cheeks. "No, no Bulgarians," she mumbled. "Michael asked me if I would like to go with him."

"Who's Michael?"

"Michael Corner," she explained with a thoughtful click of her tongue. "But I think he only mentioned it because we're the Heads. I hope that's the only reason."

"Why?" Tonks asked, arching an eyebrow. "Is he a bit of an idiot?"

"No, he's nice enough," Hermione said. "I just-

"You like someone else."

Draco…

Hermione snapped her head up to study Tonks with wild eyes as panic seized her chest. "W-What?" she stuttered. "What do you mean?"

"Ron," the other witch grinned knowingly. "We all saw how friendly you were at the wedding, and you told me you liked him."

"Oh, Ron," Hermione breathed, taking a second for the relief to wash over her. "Y-yes, of course."

"Are you okay, Hermione?" Tonks asked with a concerned look.

"I'm fine," she muttered with uncertainty. "I'm not very good with unfamiliar beds, and I didn't get much sleep."

It wasn't technically a lie; she had certainly been awake for the majority of the night, but the scratchy mattress had had little to do with her inability to savour a dream. She'd stared expectantly at her clock for long and lonely hours, waiting and almost hoping that the alarm would sound. It had been…unnerving to lie in bed and know he wasn't in the next room, and her thoughts had centred around him from sunset to sunrise.

Tonks had just been on the other side of the door, but she had felt very much alone, and she couldn't help but wonder how Draco was dealing with a secluded night in the Gryffindor Tower. After the last incident, when she had stayed with Ginny and he'd tried to escape, she had expected…something, but clearly he was doing just fine if her clock was silent, and that bothered her a little.

When she had finished her classes earlier today, she had considered stopping by to check on Draco, but a convenient flashback of her attempt to kiss him had made her think twice. After some lunch and a slow walk around Hogsmeade - where the first hints of Christmas were starting to glow - she and Tonks had discussed the War in depth, along with many other topics, but her mind always snatched her back to Draco.

"Ron and I aren't together, you know," she told Tonks, somewhat defensively. "We're just friends."

The Auror frowned. "You don't like him, Hermione? I thought-

"I thought I did too," she admitted. "But I just think we're better as friends. I…don't like him the way I should."

Tonks chuckled and gave the younger witch an affectionate pat on the back. "No one's forcing you to fancy Ron, Hermione. If you don't, then you don't-

"Did you and Remus get a lot of…criticism when you first got together?" she questioned carefully. "Because of your age difference?"

"A lot of people were quick to judge," Tonks said thoughtfully. "Remus was more bothered by it than me, but yes, we had a bit of hassle from nosy sods who had nothing better to do with their time."

"Did you ever question your feelings?"

Tonks sighed and tapped her knee pensively. "I knew people wouldn't think it was normal," she confessed after a moment. "And it probably would have been easier to be with someone my own age, but you can't pick and choose things like that. It just happens."

Hermione tiled her head and gave her friend a gentle smile. "Was it worth it?" she asked. "The disapproving looks and-

"Bloody hell, yes!" she exclaimed. "Look, when there's a War going on and a baby on the way, the gossipy pricks of London are the least of your worries. Plus, if I had ignored my feelings for Remus, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life."

The brunette chewed her lower lip and hummed in consideration. "I guess time's too precious when the world could end tomorrow."

"That's a little pessimistic," Tonks gave her a friendly wink. "But yes, life's too short. Have you got your eye on someone, Hermione? Scared the boys won't approve?"

Her lip twitched. "Something like that."

"Anyone I know?"

Your cousin.

"No," she shook her head. "He's…just one of the boys in my year, but Harry and Ron aren't very fond of him." Not a lie.

"They'll get over it," Tonks assured her with a dismissive wave of her hand. "So, what's he like?"

Hermione paused to gather her wits and words. Tonks had that trustworthy manner about her that often coaxed secrets to tumble out of her mouth, and she needed to be careful with how much she divulged.

"He's an arsehole," she started bluntly, noting the amused flash in Tonks' eyes. "He's incorrigible, he's complicated, and he doesn't listen to a word I say-

"That's typical of most men-

"He's rude," Hermione continued with her rant. "He's arrogant, he's cruel and very cold-

"Also quite common-

"And sometimes he makes me so angry I could just throttle him or hex him into the next bloody continent!"

Tonks cleared her breath to smother a laugh, and studied her young companion with a wise smirk. "But?"

Hermione swallowed and felt tears scratch the backs of her eyes. "But he's beautiful," she whispered sadly. "Completely messed up and utterly awful, but there's something there which is just beautiful to me. I can't really explain it."

It felt so weird and wonderful to say it aloud to another person, but of course she was censoring all the darker details that came with her Slytherin housemate. Her pseudo-big sister was eyeing her sympathetically, tucking some strands of violet hair behind her ear and looking very much pleased with Hermione's confession.

If only you knew…

"Do you know how he feels about you?"

Hermione frowned and bowed her head. "He tells me he hates me-

"Have you two ever kissed?" Tonks pushed boldly.

She felt a hot blush stain her cheeks. "A few times," she murmured quietly. "But they were…impulsive and they didn't last long-

"Who kissed who?"

"Well," Hermione hesitated. "I…initiated the first one, but he's kissed me twice since."

Tonks' playful smile stretched up her face. "Sounds promising to me."

"No," she said, wrinkling her nose with disappointment. "It's more complicated than that. He shoved me away the last time I tried, and I don't even know if I like him really. There's just…something there that…

She trailed off, and Tonks gave her a reassuring nod. "Go on," she urged. "You know you can tell me anything."

"Something…that hurts," she finished, her voice hitching. "He has this…this shield up, and I don't think I can get through to him. I'm trying, but every time I think I'm getting somewhere he just ruins it, and I don't know if I have the energy to do it anymore-

"Hermione-

"I keep seeing these glimpses of a decent person," she carried on, a tear skimming down her cheek. "And I think that's what I'm…attracted to, but I-

"Hermione," Tonks interrupted again. "It's okay. He just sounds a little confused. He'll come round."

"But what if-

"Just do what feels right, sweetheart," she advised slowly, and Hermione recalled saying some very similar words to Draco. "Would you like some tea before bed?"

"Could I have a hot chocolate instead, please?"

.

.

Draco was sat in a crumpled heap on the cold floorboards, absently fiddling with the remains of Granger's snow-globe. He caught a shard awkwardly, and he hissed the air through his teeth as his finger wept a ruby teardrop. He eyed his blood critically, and a cold shiver ran up his spine as he recalled the day in the bathroom when there had been so much more blood, and not just his.

Granger's was exactly the same.

That had been a damning realisation, and he blamed that for every predicament that had followed, and the epiphanies that had struck him in her absence. The crippling fact of the matter was, Granger had every trait that he admired; intelligence, wit, strength, and then something that he couldn't put his finger on. She was simply…good.

If I was a Pureblood with exactly the same personality, would you be so quick to discard what happened this morning?

His brain had been flooded with her words since she'd left; every sentence that had ever made him doubt his prejudices had reverberated in his skull, but he was holding firmly onto the flimsy whispers of his family's ways. What had once felt so obvious and right now felt fickle and faint. He'd like to blame it all on her, but he had come to acknowledge there must have been cracks in his beliefs, but it didn't make it any easier.

You're human, Draco, and you've made mistakes, but I can't hate you for that.

He clenched his eyes shut. Mistakes…Astronomy Tower. Surely, if he'd been so certain that Voldemort and his principles were correct, that task would have been an easy thing to do. Maybe he'd started to doubt it all then…

They're just labels, you know. Slytherin, Gryffindor. Pureblood and Mudblood. They don't dictate how we should live our lives.

It was easy for her to say that. There were expectations that came with his infamous surname, and she couldn't begin to imagine the pressure he'd been under. He was certain that Potter had told her all about his breakdown in the toilets last term, but that had been a sliver of his turmoil. There had been times when he'd cast every silencing charm he knew and just screamed until his lungs had torn. Blaise and Pansy had seen some of his weaker moments, but nobody had been there to witness his real outbursts of chaos. Even before he'd been given his task, Draco had sometimes found himself staring at his reflection and wondering if a lifestyle full of hatred was all too much for him.

Why do you have to put on an act when I am the only person who sees you?

Because if he didn't, then what else was there? He'd been stripped of his wealth, his magic, his status. If he abandoned what he had been designed to become, there was nothing left.

Some people are beyond change, Granger-

Not you…

"Fucking hell," he groaned to himself, dropping his face into his palms.

You asked me to stay. I…I wanted to stay.

He'd never kissed someone like that before; like a rebellious burst that had made him feel loose and unchained. He'd been aware of who he was kissing and that he shouldn't have been touching her at all, but, at the moment, he couldn't have given a shit. On closer inspection, he didn't really give a shit now. There was no one here to scold him for thinking for himself, and doing what felt…

Just do what feels right.

Too dangerous, but ultimately too tempting.

The pathetic truth was he missed her, and not just as a distraction; he missed her as a person. Her voice, her little quirks, her fire…just everything. She would be back tomorrow, although he had no idea what time. It could be fairly early in the morning for all he knew, so his decision to sleep in her bed again was a rather risky one, and another damaging blow to his pride.

But it felt right.

.

.

Tonks had left at eight, and Hermione had managed to get to the school before the weekend-lazy students had started to rouse and roam. She was so nervous she had worried her lower lip until it had bled, which had meant a slight detour at the prefects bathroom to heal the cut. Perhaps she was stalling, but she spent a good few minutes scrutinizing her reflection and trying to concoct a strategy to deal with Draco after her embarrassing behaviour two days ago.

Deciding that she had put it off for long enough, she headed to her dorm, hesitating to take a deep breath before she muttered the appropriate password. She slipped inside, intending to be as quiet as possible, but a rush of wind slammed the door shut behind her.

Bugger…

She froze as she heard shuffling from the other side of the dorm, but it sounded misplaced, almost like it was coming from her room. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind that her door was flung open to release a very intense-looking Slytherin. Draco had clearly just woken up; his hair roguishly mussed, and he was clad in just a vest and loose pyjama bottoms, but it was the purposeful and slightly wild glint in his eyes that made her heart pause.

He lingered in the doorframe for a moment, staring hard at her like he wasn't sure she was there at all. Hermione shook away her trance and the anger hit her, just as he began to march towards her with bold strides.

"You were in MY room?"

"Yes," he spat, quickening his steps and slicing the distance between them.

"How the hell did you-

Draco cut her off; grabbing her face and snatching her lips with a desperate kiss. He sighed shakily into her mouth, uncaring that she felt stiff and unresponsive against him and just acting on instinct. He pulled away but kept her close, relishing her little pants tickling his chin. He clenched his jaw and kept his eyes closed, readying himself for her rejection and outrage, but she tilted her head to latch back onto him.

Her gesture was timid but it was enough for him, and he shoved her roughly against the door, swallowing her gasp. His movements were frantic and almost feral as he sucked her in and took greedy nips at her winter-wet lips. She kept up with him, licking and pecking back with dissipating nerves; clutching onto his arms with trembling fingers. His hands drifted up her cheekbones and into her coffee-curls, coaxing a moan from her that made his hips twitch.

He pressed himself against her as much as he could, dragging his fingertips down her neck, shoulders and ribs to settle possessively at her sides. He groaned as she combed her nails through his hair, catching a sensitive spot at his spine that made him shiver in a wonderful way. Their hot breaths clashed between kisses and Draco decided he needed more; craved it actually.

He tore his mouth away and moved to her throat, pleasantly surprised when she lolled her head back and sighed in apparent bliss. Her grip on his biceps tightened as he found a receptive spot near her ear that made her blood rush, and her pulse felt tantalising under his tongue.

"Tell me to stop," he mumbled against her skin, barely audible.

Hermione swallowed hard but didn't utter a word to break their contact; too lost in the pace and passion that was completely foreign to her. She was vaguely aware that he was pushing away her robes, but the thought of stopping was a distant whisper at the back of her skull. She heard them thud to the floor just as he lifted his head to steal her lips again, his warm and eager palms sliding under her jumper. Her hands dropped to rest against his chest, and she scratched curiously at his collarbone and neck.

"Tell me to stop," he hissed out, more urgently this time, nipping at her jaw.

His hands grazed upwards until his thumbs stroked the underside of her cotton-covered breasts. Her fingernails were raking down his stomach, and he felt himself harden as she went lower. That was when reality struck him.

"TELL ME TO STOP!" he screamed, ripping himself away from her so frantically he stumbled to the floor a few feet away.

Hermione felt all her limbs go weak, and she slid gracelessly down the door, studying Draco intently and anxiously. He looked broken and battered, like all his energy was being used to refrain from touching her. He slowly raised his head and they locked eyes; both sets shocked and wide.

"Why didn't you tell me to stop?" he growled accusingly. "Are you fucking stupid, Granger? Do you think this is normal?"

She was shaking. "I don't-

"Do you have any idea what this place is doing to me?" he asked coldly. "What you are doing to me?"

"Draco, please-

"LOOK AT ME!" he yelled. "I do NOT do shit like this! That desperate for a quick fuck that I would touch the Mudblood virgin-

"Don't you dare call me that!" she warned angrily.

"Which one?" he fired back. "You're telling me someone has actually crawled between your thighs?" Hermione cringed but remained silent, and Draco felt the jealousy stab his stomach painfully. "Let me guess," he sneered darkly. "Weasley?"

"That's none of your business-

"IT IS NOW!"

"Why?" she retorted bravely, squaring her shoulders. "You've made it quite clear that this…mistake was just an attempt to land a 'quick fuck!'"

He faltered at her brazen language but kept his scowl firm. "What the hell were you expecting, Granger? All your pro-Mudblood shit to sink in?"

"I know some of it has," she said steadily. "You know it too-

"Why the fuck should I have to change to appease you-

"It's not about changing yourself!" she argued loudly, too enraged to cry. "It's about finding yourself!"

"Don't waste your Gryffindor crap on me-

"Have you ever been happy, Draco?" she asked him hopefully, carefully shifting a little closer to him. "Have you ever really felt content with your life, or done anything that felt right to you?"

He hesitated, shuffling through his fractured memories and trying to find one with her requirements. The only time he could ever recall feeling a sense of peace was the night she had slept in his lap, and perhaps just now when he had been gorging on her taste, but before that…only darkness. Just a hatred for her kind that had engulfed any chance of contentment.

"Look me in the eye," she said softly, coming to sit at his side. "And tell me that you still completely believe that Muggle-borns are inferior; that am disgusting."

He parted his lips to indulge in a vile and scornful rant, but he couldn't do it. Salazar knew he wanted to, but she looked too perfect then for him to even pretend she was filthy; lips slightly swollen and hair deliciously tousled.

No, he couldn't.

"Leave me alone," he murmured instead, hoping he sounded somewhere near threatening although he doubted it. She leaned in to rest her palm against his shoulder, and the tingle was too reminiscent for him. "Don't touch me."

She withdrew her hand reluctantly. "D-do you…like kissing me, Draco?" she stuttered uneasily.

Yes…

"Ask me if I like betraying my family," he shot back harshly. "Ask me if I would be doing this if I wasn't in this hell-

"I like kissing you," she confessed in a rushed whisper. "But I…I am getting so tired of trying to convince you that I am not someone you should hate-

"What do you want from me, Granger?" he asked.

"Nothing more than you can give," she told him gently. "But I want you to stop pretending and do what feels right for you for once-

"How the fuck would you know what feels right for me?" he challenged. "You think a few stupid kisses are going to erase what I think about you and your kind?"

She released a sad breath. "You and I-

"You and I are nothing!" he protested heatedly. "I told you! I clearly need a shag bad enough that I would-

"Lower yourself to touch a Mudblood," she finished for him. "You know, you flinch when you say it now."

He faltered. "No, I do not-

"Yes you do."

Something about the conviction in her tone stirred that heat in his gut again, and before he could stop himself, he had practically pounced on her and was kissing her again. The unsatisfied aftershocks of the last round were raw and consuming, but he managed to stop himself before he got carried away this time. He released her with a loud groan, resting his forehead against hers and drawing in loud and ragged breaths as he fought his cravings. He'd gone too far.

Hermione studied his agitated expression and felt her chest ache. She willed herself to be patient and understanding, but she wondered how much more she could give him. Gulping back her nerves, she decided she would give him one final opportunity to redeem this situation, even if it meant sacrificing another piece of her waning dignity for the sake of a Death Eater. Merlin, help her.

"Draco," she murmured breathlessly. "Look at me." His eyes snapped open and regarded her wearily as she placed her soothing palm against his cheek. "It's okay," she told him. "I know this is-

"You don't have a fucking clue," he ground out, yanking away from her again, and scrambling to his feet. "You can't even begin to comprehend what this place is doing to my head!"

"Draco-

"I am telling you now, Granger, that nothing like this will ever happen again," he promised, and his words were so measured and crisp that she found herself believing them. "We are done here-

"Yes we are," she replied, rising to stand and straightening her back defiantly. She'd reached her limit. "I refuse to do this anymore! I do not deserve to be treated like this by you! Do what the hell you want, because I don't give a shit!"

"Finally!" he exclaimed. "She gets it! Well, I'm glad you eventually decided see some sense. Accept this for what it is, Granger; me wanting a convenient fuck, and you being the only option-

"Get out of my face!" she shouted, removing her wand from her back pocket. She could feel her eyes watering, and she refused to let him see her crumble. "Now!"

He held his ground for a few moments; his incensed glare shifting between her face and her wand before he spun on his heel and disappeared into his room. The witch was quaking violently and her chest heaving as she tried to gather some semblance of control, but it was impossible. She managed to choke out a quick silencing charm before she collapsed to the floor and coughed up a string of heart-hurting sobs. She passed the stage where her lungs burned but couldn't stop despite the physical pain searing through her chest.

It shouldn't have killed her; she had, after all, experienced his cruel attitude on so many occasions, but that kiss…

It had been deceptive, leading her into a false sense of promise that had convinced her to bare her soul to him, and he had just spat on it. She felt cheated and used, and the worst thing was, she had no idea at what point she would have told him to stop. If she would have told him to stop.

Screw that Gryffindor tenacity; she gave up.

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