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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15. Glass

The final days of November were misty and bitter, and December crept in before she'd even noticed.

The nights were the kind that made you long for company; cold and eerily silent as nature slowly died by the frost. The winds had faded, and for that she was grateful, but Oh God the silence was haunting.

She was doing everything possible to keep busy, spending less time in her quarters, and flitting between the library and organising the ball with Michael and the Prefects. The dorm had become so suffocating after her fight with Draco, and she didn't dare spend more than a few moments in his presence. Despite the fact that their stormy altercation had happened just over two weeks ago, she still felt uneasy. Anything more than a necessary moment, and her body would start to react; heat crawling into her cheeks and pixies fluttering in her stomach.

Draco, on the other hand, seemed to seek her out whenever he could, randomly emerging from his room when she was in the kitchen or sitting area. In the last fortnight, they had crossed paths no less than ten times, and it was all due to his efforts, much to her confusion. She always made a quick exit and tried to avoid his eyes, fearing they would drag her in, but she had yielded and caught them once or twice. Her breath would hitch and her mouth would go dry, but she always managed to keep her expression indifferent as she ducked into her room, with his stare always boring into her back.

In the days since their kiss-come-argument, Draco had seemed to deteriorate; his features becoming worn and defeated. She ached to interact with him, if only to chase away some of the pain etched onto his face, but she was determined to keep a healthy distance from him. She still cooked the meals, of course, but that was the extent of her Malfoy-related activities, even if she was yearning to do more.

Despite her best efforts not to, she still cared.

But distractions were plenty with Michael requiring her help for the Ball and the end of term arrangements, and Ginny had successfully managed to convince her to go dress-shopping. The students had been given today, Sunday, to visit Hogsmeade and buy their formal outfits; and Hermione had hoped that the village's festive atmosphere would warm her mood.

She had always loved Christmas, but the cheer seemed forced and awkward this year, and she was very much aware that she wouldn't be spending it with Harry and Ron or her family. The risks were simply too high. Even the snow, which she adored with the appetite of a toddler, seemed to be in hiding, and not a flake had fallen this winter.

There was still time though…

"What do you think?" Ginny asked as she pulled back the dressing-room curtain. Hermione raised her head and felt a genuine smile tug at her lips. Her beautiful friend had selected a charming black dress with an intricate bead pattern across the bust and seams, and it suited her perfectly. "Well?" she prompted eagerly, flicking her fiery hair over her shoulder. "Is it okay?"

"You look stunning," Hermione told her affectionately. "Really, Gin. Didn't you like it in the mirror?"

"The mirrors are charmed to bullshit that every dress looks good," the younger witch scoffed. "Are you sure you're not just being polite?"

"No," she shook her head. "That's the one, Gin. You look wonderful."

She grinned and smoothed down the fabric. "Thank you," she said. "Is it good enough that I should take some photographs for when Harry gets back?"

If he gets back…

"Definitely," she nodded instead, deciding that dampening the mood was unnecessary. "He would stutter like a fool if he saw you in that dress, although I'm sure Neville will do the same."

"No," Ginny chuckled. "Neville's puppy-dog eyes have been steering towards Hannah Abbott recently."

"Really? Then why didn't he ask her to go?"

"You know how shy he gets," she spoke of him fondly. "Plus, I got in there before he really had a chance to ask anyone. I wanted a date who I trusted; something you should have done, Hermione."

"Michael is innocent enough-

"He has a soft spot for you," Ginny interrupted with a disapproving tone. "I know he and Ron weren't close, but still; he should know better-

"Ron and I were never official," she reminded the redhead. "And Michael is just a friend, Ginny-

"Well if he tries anything, he'll be shitting slugs for a week."

Hermione couldn't help but laugh, and it felt good. "Your brother is fond of slug-hexes too."

"Even after it backfired?" Ginny smirked, cocking an amused eyebrow. "Okay, well that's my dress sorted. Which one do you like?"

"I have dresses-

"But you should get a new one," she insisted, gesturing to the variety of gowns in Gladrags Wizardwear. "That navy one would suit you-

"I don't see the point in buying a dress for a ball I don't even want to go to," Hermione argued, although the dress held her attention for a moment. "And it's not like I want to impress my date-

"Don't do it for him, do it for yourself," Ginny told her as she moved to pluck the gown from the rail. "This colour is lovely, and it doesn't have any of the frilly stuff you hate."

Hermione hesitated and reached out to finger the chiffon gown; simple compared to the other dresses decorating the shop, but she had always followed the less-is-more principle. "It's very beautiful," she mumbled thoughtfully. "But I-

"Just try it on."

.

.

The Head Girl headed back to her chambers with some Christmas gifts and the new dress in hand. Ginny's incorrigible and convincing behaviour was to blame, but Hermione would admit that she felt a little more relaxed after some shopping and a Butterbeer in the freshly-decorated pub, but it dissipated as she came to stand in front of her door.

Taking a deep breath, as she always did, she shoved it open and cursed herself yet again for forgetting her charmed bag as she struggled with her purchases. Her plan to make her entrance quiet and quick was hopeless when she stumbled, and some of her bags went flying across the floorboards.

"Bugger," she murmured, kneeling down to collect them.

She grabbed the final item just as she heard Draco's door open, and she kept her eyes low as he strode into the sitting area. The air in the room instantly shifted and grew heavier, and she swallowed back some nerves as she rose to her feet and rolled her shoulders.

"What's that for?" he questioned critically, gesturing to her dress in the transparent cover.

He was partially blocking her way, and the answer slipped out of her mouth before she could catch it. "Christmas Ball," she mumbled quickly, manoeuvring awkwardly around the sofas, but he moved into her path anyway; his eyes lingering on her dress. "Get out of my way please-

"You've been avoiding me," he accused in a scratchy voice. "Why?"

Hermione averted her gaze. "You know why, Draco," she snapped. "Move out my way-

"Exactly how long you do you intend to keep up this silent treatment?" he continued irately. "It's starting to piss me off-

"I won't ask you again," she said between tense lips, clumsily rummaging in her pocket for her wand. "Get out of my way, or I'll make you."

He regarded her with conflicting eyes, biting the inside of his mouth with irritation, before he stepped to the side with a resigned breath. His balled fists were shaking at his sides as she brushed past him, and she tried desperately to ignore the breeze of his comforting scent. His breath stroked across the shell of her ear, but she managed to stifle the shiver that threatened to betray her weakness.

"We have argued before, Granger," he said before she could reach the door, his voice almost dejected. "Why are you so…effected this time?"

She halted her steps and felt the ire rise in her chest. "You asked me to leave you alone," she responded coldly. "And that's what I'm doing-

"But I-

"You made this bed, Draco," she told him stiffly, determined not to get dragged into an argument. "So lie in it."

Fumbling with her wand, she cast a quick Muffliato to whisper her recently-changed password; Crookshanks. She doubted Draco would know the name of her beloved pet, and knew now to be careful when going into her room. She thought she heard him whisper something as she went inside, but she refused to dwell on it.

"Wait," Draco murmured, but she slammed the door anyway.

He recalled that fickle phrase his mother had used when he'd first started to attend Hogwarts and he'd denied he would miss the Manor; you don't realise what you've got until it's gone. After a fortnight with only a handful of sentences exchanged, he was beginning to regret the way he had handled their tempestuous row, and she was apparently adamant to not even look at him. It was beginning to slowly erode his resolve to pretend it wasn't bothering him, but the pride-damning truth was he pined for something from her.

A passionate fight, an educated discussion…a kiss.

Anything.

.

.

Wednesday had the pace of a limp-limbed sloth.

Hermione's classes had droned by, and she had spent the remainder of her afternoon helping to finalise the decorations for the Great Hall. She had managed to tear away from the overly-enthusiastic Prefects and steal a few hours in the Library, but her research on Horcruxes had been frustratingly unproductive. It was around ten in the evening when she decided to yield to her heavy lids and return to her dorm, hoping that Draco wasn't loitering in the sitting area.

She managed to sneak soundlessly inside and grab a glass of water, but a knock at the main door startled her. The glass shattered at her feet and she cursed under her breath, casting a wary look at Draco's room.

"Are you okay in there, Hermione?" Michael's voice called from outside, and she rolled her eyes. "Did I hear-

"I'm fine," she bit back. "What do you want, Michael?"

"Just a quick word-

"I'm just about to go to bed," she told him, sidestepping the shards carefully. "We can discuss it tomorrow-

"It won't take a moment," he insisted. "Come on, Hermione, it's only ten."

The witch exhaled and massaged her forehead, turning to give Draco's door a sceptical glance. Surely he knew better than to reveal himself when she had a guest, but he was unpredictable at the best of times. Deciding it was best to get rid of Michael as quickly as possible, she transfigured her clothes into pyjamas and kicked off her shoes, leaving her bag and wand in the kitchenette before she made to answer the door.

"Can I come in?" the Head Boy asked once she's opened it a crack.

"Not right now," she shook her head, too tired to even invent an excuse. "What do you need?"

"Well, I was just wondering what the arrangements are for Friday?"

"You know what's happening," she frowned. "I sent you all the details."

"I meant with us," he clarified, rubbing the back of his neck. "Am I picking you up from here? Or do you-

"Oh that," she mumbled, trying to remain patient. It wasn't his fault that she'd been rather exasperated recently. "No, that's fine, Michael. We all agreed to meet outside the Great Hall, so we'll just do that."

"Okay," he nodded, barely concealing his disappointment. "Are you sure you don't want to meet up beforehand?"

"No, we're going to be rushed as it is, so it's just easier to meet there," she explained, pretending to stifle a yawn. "Was there something else? I'm quite knackered."

"Um, no," he shrugged in defeat. "That was all. I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Good night," Hermione offered, promptly closing the door and listening to Michael's footsteps echo down the corridor. She stilled her breaths when she felt that familiar tingle across her shoulders and back, and she knew her Slytherin housemate was behind her. "What are you playing at?" she questioned, whipping around and making the mistake of catching his eyes. "Are you trying to get yourself caught?"

Draco's snowy features were creased into a pained scowl that made her falter. He looked…betrayed. "You said that there was nothing going on between you and Corner," he growled darkly, and her chest constricted.

Hermione made to move forward, but he predictably obstructed the route to her room. "There's not," she murmured hesitantly. "Move, Draco-

"Clearly there's enough going on that you would go to the ball with him," he continued in a hoarse voice, slowly stalking towards her. "I didn't peg you for a liar, Granger-

"I'm not lying," she argued, cringing when she remembered that she'd left her wand on the kitchen counter. "Let me get to my room-

"He likes you, Granger," he told her. "I can tell-

"You're being ridiculous," she scolded, unnerved by his stoic tone. "Move out of the-

"Make me," he challenged. "I'm not done talking about that prick."

Deciding the situation may require some magical assistance before she got too absorbed, her eyes flickered over to her discarded wand, and she lunged for it. She yelped as she slipped on the water she had spilled before; falling hard against the floorboards and smacking her hand into the crushed glass.

Hermione whined as the pain shot from her palm to her wrist, and up the rest of her arm. She glanced down and cringed when she saw the Galleon-sized shard stabbing her hand and the warm blood spilling between her fingers. She pulled herself up to lean against the cupboards, and before she could really understand it, Draco was kneeling next to her; his face calculating and composed, but with an edge that could have been misconstrued as concern.

"Pass me your hand," he instructed steadily. "I need to get the glass out-

"No, it's fine," she hissed through the pain. "Just get my wand-

"I can't touch your wand," he reminded the witch. "Let me take it out and you can heal it when you've calmed down-

"Help me get up-

"Stay still," he told her sternly. "Come on, Granger. Pass me your hand and I'll make it quick-

"Ow, ow, ow," she breathed as he gently cupped her wrist and took a closer look at the damage. His unexpected tenderness and poise calmed her, and her confused gaze studied his pensive and softer expression before she exhaled in submission. "Okay," she sighed. "I'm ready."

Hermione choked on a gasp as he fingered the glass and tried to pluck it from her flesh. "It hurts," she blurted before she could stop herself, swallowing a whimper. "Draco-

"It's alright," he hushed her, giving the wedge a final tug that yanked it loose. "There; it's done."

Draco watched the relief swim across her honey-soft features and felt something in his chest twinge. Her blood was streaked across his fingers and tucked beneath his nails, and while he was aware that it should have repulsed him, it didn't. His thumb absently rubbed invisible circles over her pulse-point as she took some deep breaths to help the sting in her palm subside. The inevitable tense silence slotted between them, and he watched her expectantly, waiting for her to say something.

"Accio wand," she whispered, snapping her attention away from him.

Draco reluctantly released her wrist as she began to repair the messy cut, but he remained crouched at her side. Granger hadn't allowed him within an inch of her, and he took advantage of the opportunity to relish their proximity before she reverted back to her plan to avoid him. He dampened his lips with a serpentine flick of his tongue and forced himself to be patient, watching her with measuring eyes and realising he would have to be tactical if he wanted to end this well.

"I could have done that without you," she told him firmly, apparently satisfied with her healing charms.

"Perhaps," he conceded with a lowered brow. "I have-

"This doesn't change anything," she rushed out, leaning away and firing him a warning look. "I am still angry at you-

"Is that why you're going to the Ball with bloody Corner?" he growled, the jealousy rich in his voice, much to his disdain. "To prove a point?"

"I have nothing to prove to you!" she fired back, pulling herself up to stand and heading straight for her room. "You made your opinion of me clear-

"Don't run away from me, Granger!" he shouted after her. "Why the hell is this time so sodding different?"

"You know why!" she yelled; cheeks cherry-flushed and eyes starting to water. "I am tired of you tossing me aside and screwing with my head! I made how I feel about you obvious and you just-

"How you feel about me?" he repeated, his heart hammering under his ribs. "What are you-

"It doesn't matter anymore," she interjected hastily, scolding herself for letting that slip out. "You wanted nothing from me, so that's what you can have-

"Granger, wait!" he barked, but the only response he got was the shrill slam of the door. "For fuck's sake," he hissed into the empty space, making his way towards the bathroom to wash away the blood staining his fingertips.

He didn't bother to scrutinise it for indications of Mud this time; he knew it was just like his.

He hunched over the sink and flicked on the tap, eyeing the silky-red liquid swirl around the basin until it faded to a soft pink. Grinding his teeth and clenching the porcelain, he braced himself as a painful throb overtook his chest. This separation she was enforcing was weighing him down, and after two weeks, he was starting to forget how she felt; how she tasted.

He couldn't realistically blame her for acting like she was, but the prospect of her giving up on whatever it was between them made him feel physically sick. It had been fine toying with her emotions when there was a dormant promise that she would persevere regardless, but he knew her stubborn behaviour well enough to recognise that this time was different.

He had pushed her too far, and was paying the price.

It pained him to acknowledge it, but he wanted her, and the intensity and rawness of it overpowered the voice in his head telling him it was wrong. He could feel the need to act on his longing for her brewing inside his gut, and he was very much aware that something would happen soon.

He was beginnin to get restless.

.

.

Hermione shrugged at her reflection and dabbed a final layer of balm across her lips.

The midnight-blue gown seemed wasted when she didn't feel an inkling of anticipation for the Ball, but she had experimented with some light make-up to pass the time. Ginny had given her some spray to calm her curls, similar to the product she had used for the Yule Ball, but she had left her locks loose this time. She had no doubt that on any other night, she would feel rather elegant and excited, but she couldn't shift the melancholic cloud that had misted her brain since Wednesday.

Draco's considerate and placid behaviour when she had injured her hand had completely bewildered her. She could have so easily abandoned her vow to stay from him at that moment, but she had to remain logical. A flashback of his words 'convenient fuck' had sobered her, but she had pondered about delicate handling of her ever since. He'd treated her like fragile glass, and she had been fascinated by uncharacteristically considerate nature. Perhaps the distance was having an effect on him…

She shook her head to banish her wistful thoughts, and decided that she had delayed heading down to the Great Hall long enough. She dropped her wand into her charmed bag and left her room, freezing in the doorframe when she spotted the solitary figure sat on one of the sofas.

Draco's head was bowed and his shoulders slumped in defeat as he absently drummed his fingernails against his knee. She suddenly felt conscious of her appearance, despite her earlier indifference, and she ran her hands over the soft fabric as her stomach did a nervous flip. He must have heard the quiet rustle of her dress, as his head snapped up, and his winter-sky eyes widened and began to drink her in; warmth rushing to her cheeks as he studied her with uninhibited interest.

Draco felt his pulse quicken as he absorbed her, and his plan to play this situation skilfully and tamely was quickly discarded. She was simply too appealing for him to remain prudent, and he couldn't let her leave here knowing that she would be in the presence of that Ravenclaw fucktard; innocent intentions or not.

"What are you doing in here?" she asked, severing his trance. "I-

"Don't go with him," he blurted, and he genuinely didn't care if he sounded pathetic. "Don't go with him, Granger."

Hermione pursed her lips. "You have no say in this-

"Yes I do," he argued, rising from his seat. "Stay here-

"Why should I?"

"BECAUSE I CAN'T STAND IT!" he screamed; every muscle in his body seizing up. "I can't…I can't do it! Don't ask me to do this!"

"I'm not asking you to do anything!" she countered, hoping the emotion wasn't too strong in her voice. "Michael is just a friend! And even if he wasn't, it has nothing to with you-

"Then make it something to do with me!" he shouted, marching towards her. "Make it my business-

"Don't come near me," she warned, but it was weak. "Please, Draco-

"Stay," he requested again, moving close enough that his breath roused goosebumps across her collarbone. "Stay," he repeated, softer this time. She closed her eyes and he tried to lean in and kiss her, convinced that he had won this fight, but she desperately pushed him away before he could catch her mouth. "Granger-

"No!" Hermione protested, shaking her head. "I gave you so many chances, Draco! And you always do the same thing! I can deal with the Mudblood comments, but I will not let you mess with my heart! You hurt me!"

The wave of guilt that hit him was crippling. "I won't-

"Yes you will!" she yelled, pointing a trembling finger at him. "I am not for you to use and then chuck away!"

He tried to near her again but she sidestepped him before he could reach her. "Granger-

"Tell me I wouldn't be a convenient fuck!" she spat the words like they burned her tongue. "SAY IT!"

He flinched but looked her dead in the eye. "You are anything but convenient, Granger," he told her honestly. "But I know you want me to…to touch you-

"Stop it," she mumbled breathlessly, rubbing away a tell-tale tear. "That's enough-

"I know you want to touch me too," Draco continued boldly, stepping into her space again and grasping her shoulders. "You told me-

"I know what I said," she hushed him, making no valid effort to break out of his hold this time. "But you said-

"Fuck what I said," he growled huskily, tilting his head. "If you tell me not to kiss you, I won't."

The limits of his patience were judged by milliseconds as her eyes darted over his face. She looked petrified, but something that resembled acceptance graced her features as the third second ticked by, and he decided that he'd waited twenty days too long to waste another moment.

Draco kissed her roughly; unable to hold back and ready to drown in her if she'd let him. Hermione responded almost immediately, parting her lips so he could lick and suck at her with blissful ease. He could feel her nervous heartbeats against his chest as she clutched his face; her fingernails drawing teasing patterns by his ears and down his neck. Grabbing her hips tight, he rammed her back into the nearest wall and felt her moan vibrate at the back of his mouth. It trickled down his spine and stirred that dangerous twitch between his hips, and he kissed her harder.

Sweet, wet sounds mingled between them as they became more frantic, and Draco dragged his teeth across her bottom lip, and down her chin to land on her throat. Her pulse thrummed against his tongue as her dreamy little sighs ghosted across his crown, and he nibbled greedily at her flesh.

Whether he liked it or not, this tension and need had been bubbling within him for weeks, and he couldn't help but slide his palm across her stomach, and then lower. He knew he was rushing it, but after countless mornings of shower-inspired fantasies, he couldn't help but slip his anxious hand between her thighs.

"Stop," Hermione panted, digging her nails into his shoulders. "I need to go-

"No," he groaned against her skin. "Granger-

"It's too fast," she insisted, and he reluctantly pulled himself away from her. "I-I have to go to the ball-

"No!" he said more forcefully, trying to get her to meet his hazy eyes. "I know you want this-

"I need to think," she murmured, moving away from him and heading for the door. "You…you could just be doing all this to-

"I'm not!" he argued, feeling the anger rise in his voice. "Don't you dare walk out on this, Granger!"

"I…I just can't," she stuttered, scrambling to leave the room.

On the other side of the door, Hermione took a long minute to gather her composure and fix her ruffled appearance with some help from her wand. Hot tears swelled behind her eyes as her chest continued to heave, and her body failed to cease shaking.

Oh God, oh God, oh God…

She started for the Great Hall on quaking legs, using the walls to help her move down the corridors. She was late, and she could hear the music echoing amongst the castle's ancient acoustics as she neared the ball. The beat seemed to encourage the sensitive throb beneath her stomach, she tried to ignore the reminiscent tingle between her legs. She could hear the voices of students now, and she quickly schooled her features into a calm façade to conceal her shock and angst.

"Hermione!" Michael's voice called, and tried not to flinch as he came into her sight. "There you are, I was worried something had happened to you. You look amazing."

He approached her eagerly and tried to peck her cheek, but she managed to avoid the unwelcome gesture. "Thank you," she nodded politely. "Where are Ginny and the others?"

"They're already inside," he explained. "Are you ready to go in?"

"Um…sure," she mumbled, allowing him to lead her to the doors.

They paused just outside the elaborate room, and Hermione scanned all the decorations and fixtures that she had spent weeks organising. She had kept it similar to the frosty Yule Ball theme but had added a few little extras, including faux snow that fell from the ceiling, and waltzing ice-sculptures that mingled with the students. A quick glance around the familiar faces confirmed that everyone was enjoying themselves, but the cheerful atmosphere, that she had been so desperate for since the beginning of term, did nothing to soothe her temperament.

All she could think about were the tracks of Draco's lips and fingers, still buzzing in her pores and sending static across her skin. Yes, she had been nervous about where the situation had been leading, but she had fled because she'd been convinced his actions were selfish and lust-driven, but now she had doubts. His behaviour tonight and on Wednesday had been different and seemingly genuine, but she could so easily be deluding herself, or he could be a brilliant actor.

But what if…

What if it had been something more; something real? What if she had been to hasty to escape? Godric, she needed to know…

"I'm sorry, Michael," she muttered quickly, taking a step away from him. "I can't do this."

"What?" he asked, giving her a long and puzzled look. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm sorry," she repeated.

Without waiting for a reply, she pivoted on her heel, and broke into an adrenaline-fuelled run that guided her back to her dorm. Back to him.

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