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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12. Sleep

Dear Godric, what am I doing?

Hermione grimaced as the door creaked open a little too loudly for her liking. She pushed some magic into a dim Lumos charm; just enough to discern bistre shapes and outlines. The air seemed colder as she shuffled nervously inside, and she bunched the fabric of her dressing gown at her chest as her eyes settled on the bed.

She paused her footfalls. She could hear them now; sleep-slurred protests and elevated breaths.

Draco was having a nightmare, and as she stared a little harder, the glow from her wand caught a silvery sheet of sweat across his forehead. His features were creased and pained, and the vulnerability she saw then was absolutely breathtaking. He looked...beautiful, and it made her chest burn. She blinked away her trance when he writhed under the covers and released a distressed grunt.

Get a grip, Hermione...

She continued towards him warily, and gazing with a fascination she couldn't censor. Something about his thrashes and squirms sent wonderful little tingles to her fingertips that bade her to touch him, but she resisted.

He must have been cold. She could see he was wearing only a vest to cover his torso, although it was hard to tell if he was shivering or quaking because of the inevitable disturbing images tumbling around in his head. With a hesitant frown, she shrugged off her robe and Transfigured it into a thick blanket. She edged anxiously closer to drape it over him and accidentally caught his frosty skin. She froze when he flinched at her touch and a sleep-slurred mumble passed his dry lips.

"I have to kill you...otherwise, they're going to kill me."

Hermione gasped and her eyes darted up to his face to find it contorted with anguish. He looked like he was being tortured, and she felt her stomach twist with concern and care that shouldn't have been there. She leaned over and studied him closely, forgetting the chill for a moment.

"Draco," she whispered before she could question herself. "Draco, it's me. Wake up."

If anything, his throaty growls became worse, and she carefully raised her hand to rest against his damp forehead. The moment her skin touched his, smoky and wild eyes snapped open. Hermione barely had time to release a startled yelp as he grabbed her writs and pulled her down; flipping them so she was trapped beneath him and straddling her hips. He was panting heavily with confusion and the aftershocks of his nightmare, and he loomed over her with bared teeth; close enough that some of his hair tickled her brow.

"Draco," the witch breathed, unafraid of the slightly unhinged look in his eyes. "Calm down. It's me."

His features barely softened, but she felt the grip on her wrists give, and she quickly lifted her hands to his face. Her palms rested either side of his head as she brushed her thumbs over his cold cheeks. He didn't tear away as she'd expected, but then he looked completely out of it; tired and tipsy with exhaustion, but still jittery.

"It's okay," she soothed softly with stoking fingers. "It's okay."

His lids drifted lower so his eyes were thin and almost hidden, and his breaths calmed against her face. He'd stopped shaking, but she kept her hands against his cheeks, willing him to wake up completely. He swayed a little with unbalance before his distant gaze darted back down to hers. His eyes were misty and absent as he slowly lowered himself, and Hermione would reluctantly admit that she didn't even consider protesting as his mouth caught hers.

While their first demi-kiss had been light and questionable, this connection felt heavy and firm. There was desperation between their mouths, and Hermione couldn't stop herself from giving up more when he licked her lower lip. She matched him with some small but bold sucks, and their wet sounds mingled for twenty thuds of her heart before they paused. He dropped his forehead against hers and kept their lips almost touching as Hermione fought hard to ignore the thunder of questions trying to burst out of her ears and chest.

She slowly opened her eyes and found that Draco still looked half-asleep but blissfully calm. She savoured the remains of his peppermint taste and kept as still as she possibly could.

"Granger..." he mumbled sleepily, as though he wasn't sure if it was her.

She didn't dare move as he slowly eased himself off her and settled to the side. She watched him intently, searching for any indication that he was horrified or even aware of what they had just done. He sealed his eyes and gathered the blankets back around him, and Hermione shifted to make her exit, but a sleepy murmur made her falter.

"Stay."

She blinked and turned to face him, wondering if she had misheard his plea, but he looked completely dead to the world. Had she imagined it? Hell, had she managed the whole thing? She wanted to stay...

Against her better judgement, she tucked herself under the covers, and tried to ignore the voice at the back of her skull telling her that this foolhardy decision would smack her in the face come morning. She put a fair bit of distance between them, hopelessly reasoning that this would make things better. She made herself comfortable and cast a quick warming charm as her own exhaustion kicked in.

Her eyes lingered on his face as her lids fluttered, and just before she succumbed to her own dangerous dreams, she brought her fingers to her still-thrumming lips and released a sweet sigh.

.

.

Draco was vaguely aware of morning birds as he started to break away from sleep. Some sliver of his subconscious told him that this was the first morning in a while when rain hadn't been hammering against his window, but it was the odd texture of his pillow that made his eyes finally drift open.

What the...

His cheek was cushioned under Granger's curls, and then he remembered the dream he'd had last night. It had been a welcomed change to his usual nightmares of murdered wizards and towers; a kiss with Gryffindor's Princess. It was a blurry memory without specifics, as most of his dreams were, because it had only been a dream. Just a dream.

Odd though; his lips felt a little sensitive this morning.

He raised his bewildered stare to his bedside companion and secretly decided that her delicate and charming features were easily the best thing he'd woken up to in the long months he'd been hiding. She looked bloody alluring, almost surreal; only a breath away with tousled tresses surrounding her relaxed face. His weary eyes fell to her slightly swollen mouth and he wondered...

Don't be such a fucking idiot.

If he'd thought his room had been heavy with her scent before, he was practically drowning in it now, and it was delicious. He was contemplating whether or not to touch her; wondering if his fantasies had become a full-fledged hallucination, but her amber eyes slowly flitted open before he could. They simply stared at each other for a long minute; her looking slightly embarrassed and him with a suspicious glare.

"What are you doing here, Granger?" he broke the quiet, steeling his features. He watched her with glassy eyes as nerves seemed to spark in her head and she dragged in a shaky breath. "Granger-

"I..." she started quietly. "I thought you might be cold."

He frowned at her answer. "What-

"I brought you an extra blanket," she explained with a wavering voice. "And...and you asked me to stay."

He scoffed, but a foggy flashback shattered his concentration. That pesky little dream of his suddenly seemed more like a memory. He shoved the disturbing notion away and was about to argue that he would never have asked her to stay, but her next mumbled confession made his brain disconnect.

"I...I wanted to stay."

His black-ice eyes widened a fraction and scanned her features quickly before a lusty impulse he couldn't deny overtook him. He grabbed her with strong hands and kissed her hard, rolling his body atop of hers and realising their position felt wonderfully familiar. Her hands toyed with his neck as he poured himself into her mouth; all his frustration and anger falling past her lips as he gorged on her taste. She met him with equal and perfect indulgence that tempted his hands to get lost in her hair.

A feminine sigh tickled the back of his throat and he pushed harder into her, relishing her body heat and the feel of her beneath him. She whimpered, and the sound reminded him of those addictive showers of hers that sent blood rushing south. But the flicker under his stomach felt too real now; too alive, and it brought him crashing back to the frosty reality.

He snatched himself away from her with a furious growl and sat at the edge of the bed; hunched over with angry vibrations crawling up his spine. He felt every muscle flex across his shoulders and down his arms as he balled his fists and rested his head against his knuckles. This was a new level of humiliation and self-disgust; possibly the pinnacle in this fucked-up little tug-of-war between he and her. He certainly hoped it was the pinnacle...Possibly...

He heard and felt her weight shift on the bed, and he willed her to leave before his temper caught up with him. He could sense the anger, at her and himself, sizzling behind his eyes like volatile embers that were ageing into flames. He could feel that she was off the bed, so why the hell couldn't he hear her leaving?

"Draco-

"Just leave," he rasped out coldly, keeping his head bowed. "Leave me the fuck alone-

"But I-

"I TOLD YOU TO BLOODY LEAVE!" He stood with a rapid snap of his body and whipped around to confront her with a grave sneer carved into his face. "NOW-

"NO!" she shouted back, straightening her back defensively. "I want to talk about this-

"There is nothing to discus!" he argued. "Nothing happened-

"You are so pathetic!" the witch accused with a trembling finger pointed at him. "Why do you have to deny that this is real-

"BECAUSE IT ISN'T FUCKING REAL!" he roared with conviction. "Nothing that happens in this prison is real-

"What are you-

"It's all false!" he continued. "This arrangement is shitting all over my brain! I would NEVER lower myself to touch you if it weren't for this head-fuck bullshit that I am being forced to live in-

"The circumstances are irrelevant-

"Bollocks!"

"You are still in control of your actions!" she fired angrily. "And the sooner you accept that-

"And what about your actions, Granger?" he questioned in a sinister tone. "How does sleeping in the same bed as a Death Eater fit in with your pro-Mudblood crap?"

Her scowl hardened. "I blame ill judgement and a moment of insanity-

"Then I blame you and that old bitch for my insanity!" he yelled, pausing for a moment to narrow his eyes suspiciously. "Is this some sick little plot of yours, Granger? Are you and that shrivelled hag doing this on purpose?"

"What the hell are you talking-

"I'm talking about you and McGonagall!" Draco ranted with a slow snarl. "Do you have some piss-poor plan? Seduce the Death Eater and get some information on Voldemort with a little effective whoring-

"Fuck you-

"I'm sure that was part of the plan," he hissed bitterly. "Screw me, and then blackmail me for some revealing pillow-talk-

"You are being ridiculous!" she huffed impatiently.

He hesitated and bared his teeth. "Yes, it is sodding ridiculous," he growled. "I'm sure even McGonagall has noticed you have the sexual appeal of a shit-smeared Troll!"

He caught the hurt that flashed in her eyes, and almost regretted that comment.

"There is no plot," she said after a sad silence. "You can believe what you want, but all I ever wanted was for you was to realise that Muggle-borns are people. That am a person."

He remained still and willed his features not to soften with uncertainty. He had no idea about other Muggle-borns, nor did he really care; all he knew was her. And she was definitely a person; a character with traits and emotions that he didn't always understand, but couldn't help but be fascinated with. She was a person who was swapping around preconceptions in his skull and making him question what had been bred into his bones. She was a person with a kiss that lingered and burned...

"I'm leaving," she mumbled, turning on her heel and heading for the door. "But I want you to consider this, Draco. If I was a Pureblood with exactly the same personality, would you be so quick to discard what happened this morning?"

Before a scolding remark could roll off his Granger-flavoured tongue, she yanked open the door and slammed it with her exit, leaving him confused and cold. Her question rolled around in his skull, alongside his thoughts on the King book and everything else that he'd started to question since he'd landed in this inescapable hole.

Would he be so quick to ignore their kiss if she was a Pureblood?

No. Fuck no.

.

.

Stashed safely away in her room, Hermione choked on a stubborn sob despite her best attempts not to. It wasn't so much his insulting remarks that had pushed tears past her lashes, but more so her reaction to them. She shouldn't have cared about his opinion of her; should've been more than used to his biting words but, by Godric's grave, that had hurt. She would swear she could feel little puncture-wounds in her chest, and she hated him for ruining a moment that had felt...well...nice. Blissful even...

She guessed she should be grateful for that really; at least one of them had had the sense to break the contact.

But why did he have be such a bloody bastard about it? Why did he have to make everything so hard? And why the hell had it happened in the first place?

Why am I doing this?

It was simply an accident...although could incidents still be considered accidents when they were repeated? Possibly not.

She stroked away her tears with trembling fingertips and sniffed away the scratchy feathers in her throat. A quick glance at the clock told her it was barely six in the morning; too early for classes, but she needed to get out of this room. She dressed herself as quickly as she could in some comfy clothes and her robes, and sprinted out of her dorm, trying hard not to glance back at Draco's bedroom door. She charged down the hollow and dark corridors until she burst out of the castle and into the cold dawn.

It was stunning; a wonderful sky of pinky greys and navy shades that should have stolen her breath, but her mind was far too distracted to pay it any attention. She cast a quick warming charm when she noticed how thick her breath was, and wandered across the quiet grounds until she found a fractured-looking tree that was iced with frost.

She collapsed amongst its roots and leaned heavily against the trunk as her tears began to leak down her cheeks again. She could openly sob here without a care for nosy stares, but she still felt like a fool.

She had to face the facts, even if they were completely shattering and wrong. If she was this affected by Draco's harsh dismissal of her this morning, then clearly she felt something towards him; be it compassion or something else. She couldn't recall feeling this rejected since Ron's short-lived relationship with Lavender, but she ignored the dangerous connotations that came with that thought. Perhaps she was simply this troubled because Draco was the only person she had spent a considerable amount of time with since Harry and Ron had left. Perhaps.

She'd gradually dropped her guard around him, and it had come back to crush her.

Perhaps it had been foolish of her to settle into an almost-comfortable routine with Draco and assume that his attitude towards her would change, but she had hoped...

She had hoped for them to become something...different...

"Hermione."

She was too drained to be startled, and she slowly craned her head to give the familiar voice a confused look. "Luna," she sighed as the young blonde neared her. "What are you doing here?"

"The sky is beautiful," she supplied quietly, kneeling opposite Hermione. "It's also the best time of the day to see Ceffyls. Why are you up so early?"

"I needed some air," she sighed tiredly, quickly rubbing away any remainders of her tears. "What are-

"Your lips look funny again," Luna interjected calmly. "Another bee sting?"

"What? Yes. I mean no," Hermione stuttered clumsily, trying to regain some composure. "No, it's nothing to do with bees. I think it's a reaction to something else."

"What would that be?"

"I'm not sure yet," she shrugged, raising her inquisitive fingertips to see if her lips felt any different. "Clearly, it's bad for me."

"I think it suits you," Luna grinned to herself, her eyes fixed on nature's light-display to the East. "Looks like you might be having a stronger reaction this time though."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, your cheeks are flushed this time," she told the older witch blankly. "And your eyes look a little glazed-

"That's probably just the cold," Hermione defended weakly.

"No," the Ravenclaw shook her head. "It's something else. You look very pretty by it though, Hermione."

She offered her friend a weak smile. "Thank you," she mumbled.

"I heard you're taking a trip to Hogsmeade on Saturday," Luna said slowly, and Hermione watched the first golds of morning dance over her friend's face. "With Michael, yes?"

"Yes," she nodded. "Would you like anything?"

"Would you mind getting me some Liquorice Wands from Honeydukes?"

Hermione frowned. "I didn't think you liked them?"

"I don't."

The brunette cocked her head to the side and observed her companion slowly, noting that Luna herself looked a little different. While the pretty blonde's eyes were striking, yet normally absent, recently they seemed to hold that curious twinkle of a girl with a secret. A good secret.

"Can I ask you something, Luna?"

Ravenclaw's angel slowly twisted her head to give Hermione her full attention. "Of course," she replied. "I'll try to answer."

"Some of the others have noticed that you aren't here at the weekends and some other days," she told her carefully. "Where do you go?"

If Luna was phased, she didn't show it. "I didn't think that people would notice my absence."

"Oh Luna," Hermione grimaced. "You know we care about you a lot. Of course we would-

"I didn't mean it in that way," she interrupted as a slight twitch toyed with her mouth. "People tend not to notice others' behaviour so much in times of War. It's only normal. I'm actually quite touched that anyone has realised."

"So where do you go?" she persisted. "If you are in any trouble then we can help you."

Luna released a soft giggle and Hermione raised her eyebrows. "I am fine," the younger witch said. "I am very well actually, but I'm afraid I can't tell you where I go."

"Why not?"

"It would not be safe for the other party involved," Luna murmured, her expression turning thoughtful and almost concerned for a second. "I'm sorry. It would be too risky to tell people, and it's not only my secret to tell."

While Hermione understood Luna's reasoning and rationalised that she had no right to demand knowledge of secrets when she was concealing a Death Eater in her dorm, something in her friend's voice had her intrigued.

"You care about this other person?" Hermione questioned hesitantly. "You must if you are willing to take these risks for them."

"Aren't we all taking risks these days?"

"I'm just worried about you," she continued with a sad tone. "This War-

"Sometimes, Wars can bring good things," Luna said as she got to her feet. "They can teach people to hold on to what feels right, even if there are risks involved."

Hermione stared at her friend as she made her way towards the castle, and tossed Luna's parting words around in her skull. As always, the blonde had left her feeling somewhere between bewildered and enlightened, and wondering if Luna commanded one of her imaginary creatures to spy on her at night. She turned her head to give the half-risen Sun an appreciative gaze and gathered her limbs closer around herself as she huddled under the withered Oak.

She needed to concentrate on her tasks for the Order and toss aside these hopeful thoughts about Draco. It was inappropriate and completely naïve, no matter how tempting it was to analyse it in her head.

But it was too hard to ignore.

She was late for her first class after a stubborn daydream managed to mist her mind, and she cursed her brain for letting him slip in. Again.

.

.

For two days, he successfully avoided her by remaining secluded in his room, except for bathroom trips and to grab the warm meals she continued to leave for him. He guessed she was also doing her best to steer clear of him, and that would have been fine, if he wasn't starting to lose his grip on reality.

It wasn't the claustrophobia this time either.

No, he could feel the change in his blood and bones. It was a craving; perhaps just for human interaction, or perhaps specifically for her. It throbbed in his veins and made his muscles spasm with unhealthy jerks. He'd broken out in cold sweats, shivered until his spine had felt like snapping, and had almost vomited. It felt like withdrawal, but maybe the cold weather had simply caught up with him.

The only medicine seemed to be a desperate wank to the sounds of her showers, but then that only lasted for thirty minutes in his day-long Hell.

He'd been awake for a few hours now, waiting for her usual purrs to ease the strain in his body. If he had to guess by the place of the Sun, it was broaching the afternoon, which meant that another weekend had oozed into his stay with her.

He remembered then that Granger had told him she was heading to Hogsmeade with that Ravenclaw fucktard, and he felt fury flicker under his flesh. His chest felt ready to cave in from the sheer weight of his sudden and powerful anger, and when he finally heard her move to the bathroom, he couldn't chase away his volatile thoughts to relish her as he usually did.

Instead, suspicious and unwelcome images of her pruning and preparing herself to meet that joke of a wizard hammered in his head. The idea exaggerated itself and he gnashed his teeth, as wave after wave of disgust rocked him. His fingernails pierced the skin of his palms as he clenched his fists, and he didn't dare move until she had returned to her bedroom for ten minutes before he heard the main door close with her exit.

He was on his feet in a heartbeat with seething breaths steaming from his mouth and pupil-blackened eyes. He started with the closet and the desk, chucking them onto their sides and kicking them until wooden shards were decorating the floor and the furniture was dented beyond recognition. He worked on the bedding next, tearing it into a tattered mess of fabrics and pillow-feathers that did nothing to soothe his temper.

With a final roar of jealousy-powered rage, he grabbed the chair and hurled it at the window, only to watch it explode into a rain of splinters. He eyed the charmed and unscathed window bitterly as he sunk to the floor amongst the littered remains of his outburst, and rested his back against the foot of his bed. He stayed there for hours, battling cruel imaginings of Granger enjoying her time with Corner.

In his lonely heap on the bedroom floor, he came to a conclusion that quaked his core. Either Granger was wrong, and he had every right to despise Muggles and Mudbloods for their inferiority, or if Granger was right, as she so often was, then he had been a brainwashed bastard...

Her words from their post-kiss argument throbbed in his brain.

All I ever wanted was for you was to realise that Muggle-borns are people. That I am a person.,,

You are still in control of your actions...

I wanted to stay...

What if she was right?

What if it had all been for nothing?

What if he, and all his family, were wrong?

Then...then maybe it was okay for him to want to touch her, but why the fuck should she allow it?

If she was right.

He didn't have a clue what to believe any more.

He remained still for hours and hours. The thoughts swarmed around in his head too loudly for him to realise that she had returned, that she was knocking on his door, or even that she was calling his name.

That was how Hermione found him as the day turned to evening; slumped in a defeated position, surrounded by a self-made chaos. Her wide stare scanned the wreckage with confusion before her eyes were drawn to Draco in the centre of the room, and she felt a glitch in her chest. She could see he was shivering, yet he was making no attempt to warm himself, and his eyes were eerily absent and unfocused. His vulnerable and distorted shape instantly reminded her of the night she had found him mid-nightmare, and how it had led to two forbidden kisses.

The concern came so naturally to her as she dropped her bag and rushed to his side, sinking to her knees and grabbing his face between her frosty hands. A flash of recognition and life flashed in his grey gaze and she sighed in relief as her thumbs instinctively stroked his pale face.

"Draco," she whispered close to his lips. "Look at me, Draco. What's wrong?"

He swallowed loudly and lidded his eyes. "How long have I been here, Granger?"

Hermione blinked in bewilderment but quickly added up the dates in her head. "Just over five weeks," she offered after a moment. "Thirty-seven days, I think."

"It feels longer," he mumbled.

"Why did you trash your room?" she asked quietly, taking back one of her hands to remove her wand from her pocket. "Draco-

"I don't know," he blurted, and she felt him relax a little more into her palm. "I don't know."

"I'm going to clean up the mess," she told him as she flicked her wand. "Stay still, okay?"

He didn't respond as all the evidence of his tantrum slowly started to rectify itself around them. He wondered if there was some irony there; Granger fixing something he had demolished for a reason he couldn't quite understand, but his brain was too laden with doubt to pay the thought any heed. Instead, he just studied her features, searching once again for any indication that she was inferior but, once again, he found none.

Not a trace of anything he could hate, no matter how hard he tried.

"You're cold," she commented, bringing her attention back to him. "Let me-

"No," he said without his usual bite. "I'm fine, Granger."

She frowned but didn't argue, knowing better than to aggravate him in this instance. "I got the things you asked for," she told him, summoning her charmed bag. She swished her wand again, and Draco watched with half-hearted interest as his drapes and bedding were replaced with rich green fabrics, and his requested selection of sweets landed on his repaired desk. "Draco, what's wrong? Why did you trash-

"I told you, I don't know," he repeated quietly. "I just did."

"You don't look very well," she murmured, bringing one of her hands to his forehead. "Let me get you some-

"Don't," he stopped her, clenching his eyes shut. "Just...don't go."

"Draco, you're worrying me-

"Why should you worry about someone you can't stand?"

Hermione tilted her head to catch his eyes. "I told you I don't hate you-

"You should," he told her firmly. "You should loathe me."

"Well I don't," she argued calmly, shuffling a little closer to him. "Maybe I should, but I can't-

"Then how do you feel about me now, Granger?"

"That question again?" she sighed, setting her hands in her lap and averting her gaze. "I don't know, Draco."

"Do you think I am evil, Granger?" he asked bluntly.

"You're not evil," she assured him without hesitation. "You have just been...mislead. You're human, Draco, and you've made mistakes, but I can't hate you for that."

He lifted his head and released a shaky breath. "I should hate you."

"Should?" she echoed with a puzzled tone. "As in, you don't any more?"

"I don't know," he muttered so quietly, she wasn't sure he'd said it at all. "I am...confused."

His reluctant confession was flimsy and questionable, but she found herself feeling encouraged by his doubt. That hopeful spark that she'd been so determined to ignore blossomed in her chest before she could help it. This was what she had wanted; some voiced confirmation that he was starting to question his prejudices.

It teased her Gryffindor courage and she slowly shifted closer to him again, boldly settling herself between his legs and resting her weight against his chest. She expected him to instantly reject her brazen gesture, but he didn't even flinch as she rested her head against his shoulder. He remained completely still and unresponsive, but she felt inexplicably safe there; warm and comfortable in a forbidden moment that lulled her into a sleepy state.

"This doesn't mean anything," she heard Draco murmur by her ear, possibly more to himself. "It doesn't."

"I know," she whispered.

Draco was painfully aware that this was far too intimate and undoubtedly wrong, but after two days of denying his craving to be this close to her, he was too absorbed now to push her way. He knew in the morning he would come to regret this lapse in judgement, but he couldn't resist the drugging effect she had on him.

It was barely eight o'clock, but sleep stole Hermione quickly, and Draco followed her a moment later with a disturbing realisation that things were changing.

He was changing.

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