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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6. Tiles

It was Thursday. Or perhaps Friday. Draco wasn't sure.

Time was slowly turning into an irrelevant and mumbled mess of forgotten hours and questionable days, and Granger's erratic patterns hardly helped. He had no idea where she slipped off to in the evenings, but he was willing to bet it was either the library or the Gryffindor common room. Where else would she go? Head Girl privileges aside, he doubted she would be foolish enough to traipse aimlessly around the grounds with no purpose or point.

Wherever she wandered, she would always return before three in the morning, and he had stopped trying to sleep through it. Her movements always stirred him, so he'd given up and simply started waiting until she got home to even attempt sleep.

He still found himself rousing for her showers though.

He had tried to resist this morning, knowing that his actions were completely insane and somewhat disturbing, but his headache had gotten worse and worse. The noises were like a drug, and a very effective one at that. Just a few of her wet sounds, and the aching in his temple would recede.

He'd yielded to the craving eventually, and that's where the morning found him now; slumped in the usual spot and sacrificing his dignity for his bathroom-moans fix. Merlin knew he'd tried, but he couldn't help it.

He was an addict, and he despised it.

He shot up to his feet as he heard the shower die, suddenly in the mood to scream at the Mudblood until she was either weeping or torturing him with her wand. Granger was the only thing in this prison that was temperamental; that could change and breathe and pulse. She'd continued to play civil with him for the last few days, and he missed the blood rushing to his head and fingertips. He ached for that fire that stirred his witty temper, yearned to see her flushed and contemplating a powerful comeback. He needed to know he could still do Salazar proud and make the Mud-bitch squirm.

He understood agitated Granger. She was normal. He was becoming far too accustomed to shower Granger and her morning songs.

He shrugged on a black jumper and slipped out of his room as quietly as he could, stopping by the bathroom door and watching the handle too intently. He could hear her bare feet padding around against the tile floor, and he tried to think of a topic for their argument.

Screw it, I'll wing it.

The brass doorknob rattled and he felt the excitement begin to tease his senses, adrenaline tickling his gut with the promise of a good fight. The door opened and he burst in before she could leave, purposefully trapping her. The shock was wild across her features as she stumbled away from him, sliding over the damp ceramics and losing her balance. It was instinctive to reach out and attempt to steady her. Just a reflex. Nothing more. But his own bearings were compromised, and in a heartbeat they were sprawled across the bathroom floor in a shallow puddle of water, skidding in opposite directions; him thwacking his head against the doorframe and her stopping just short of the bathtub.

"What are you doing, Malfoy?" Hermione panted, catching her startled breath. "You scared me to death-

"Bloody hell," he mumbled, sucking the air through his teeth as he touched the back of his head. "You clumsy bitch-

"You grabbed me!" she protested, ensuring she was appropriately covered by her fluffy robe. "What in Merlin's name-

"You woke me up!" he lied, flinching when he noticed some blood staining his fingertips. "Fucking hell, Granger. Jumpy much?"

"Well, I don't normally get attacked when I'm leaving the shower," she huffed angrily, trying to lean back on her heels unsuccessfully. "What is your problem?"

You...

He was suddenly aware of how strong her scent was in here; fresh and thick amongst the lingering steam. He couldn't help but take a deep breath, hoping to her it looked more like he was trying control his anger. But fuck, it was intoxicating. It coiled itself around his tongue and he could actually taste her, but the cherry tang reminded him who it belonged to.

He growled. "I don't have a problem-

"Then what the hell did you grab me for?" she questioned hotly. "Merlin, you are such a prick-

"This is your fault!" he argued, although he wondered just how threatening he could be crumpled and damp on her bathroom floor. "You're the one who fell-

"Because you scared me!" she repeated, giving into her childish urge and palming some water to splash him with. She somehow managed catch his face, and she couldn't stop her chuckle as a droplet fell from his arched eyebrow.

"You Gryffindors are so mature," he drawled with perfect sarcasm. "It's really pathetic-

"Oh, shut it," she grumbled, clambering to her feet with a little difficulty. With shaky legs, she shot him a harsh scowl and tried to make her exit, but a set of long fingers snagged her ankle. She fell hard against the floor again, landing in an awkward position that made her tail-bone buzz.

She whined in pain and cradled her back, snapping her eyes open just to catch Malfoy's smug smirk. "And that's mature?" she hissed, stuttering on another groan.

"I don't give a shit," he snorted, but his arrogant expression melted when she flicked some more water onto his face.

She smirked back at him then, too lost in the surreal situation to resist. Hermione couldn't remember exactly how the almost juvenile water-fight had started, but she imagined it would be a bizarre spectacle walk in on. Draco furrowed his brow as he absorbed Granger's amused grin, and while the new bow to her lips suited her well, it was rather unnerving. It was like she had stumbled across one of his secrets and was just waiting for the right time to throw it in his face. He schooled his features back into his comfortable frown, deciding he had allowed this to go on for far too long.

"Stop being such a-

"You're bleeding," she interrupted, and his scowl hardened when she slid a little closer to him. "Right there, by your ear-

"And?" he prompted, watching her every move as she continued to shuffle closer. "What the hell are you-

"Just let me have a look," she muttered, taking a final undignified tumble to kneel at his side. Her breath was warm against his ear and he tried to flinch away. "Hold still," she demanded firmly, reaching into her robe pocket to withdraw her wand. "Let me just heal this. I don't want you bleeding all over my dorm."

He stiffened but remained still as he felt prickling magic soothe the small cut; or maybe it was her breath again, he had no idea. Either way, the sensation was pleasant, and it had felt like forever since he'd had the comforting lick of magic against his skin. But then it had been so much longer since he'd felt something like her fingers against his neck; delicate and completely innocent. His lids lowered a little and he inhaled again to steal some more of the drugging aroma. All it would take was one of her shower sounds, and his senses would cease to cope.

"There," Hermione sighed, pulling away from him to inspect her work. "That's better. Does it feel okay?"

His Slytherin instincts flooded his mind like a defence mechanism, warning him she was far too close. She was doing it again; screwing with his head with gestures of kindness, and he refused to believe she didn't have an ulterior motive. Nobody could be that pure in the current climate; and it's not paranoia when you're on the enemy's territory.

"Get away from me," he snarled, pushing her away. "I told you not to touch me-

"But I was just-

"I said don't sodding touch me!" he yelled, rising to his feet so quickly it made his head spin.

He fired his glare back in her direction, ready to spit the things he had planned to say before, but his voice hitched. Her robe had ridden up high on her thighs from his shove, and it had also drooped to reveal one creamy shoulder with a spatter of freckles that looked deliciously like grated chocolate. Her sodden curls were slicked against her throat and the edges of her face like stretched toffee, and every inch of her exposed skin was tinted with a rosy musk. She was completely different in the afterglow of her shower; more animated and yet still ridiculously innocent in her oversized robe. It was...appealing.

"Fuck this," he grumbled to himself, turning on his heel and stalking out of the bathroom to leave behind a very confused witch.

Hermione blinked as the remains of his shadow abandoned her on the cold floor, leaving her brain to stew over what exactly happened. Malfoy's behaviour had become less and less aggressive with each day that passed, proof that a mother's advice was sometimes worthwhile. Acting civil had clearly been the right way to go Now, he was simply snappy and bitter, but she couldn't decide if he was simply losing the will to fight or adjusting to his predicament. Adjusting to her.

She hoped it was the latter.

.

 

.

 

Hermione found herself stifling a giggle as an image of the ever-graceful Malfoy slipping to the floor stole her mind. As much as she respected Professor Flitwick, she had mastered the Engorgio charm a few months ago, so her concentration had naturally started to sway. The morning had made her realise that her blond houseguest was nowhere near as threatening as he had initially been, and she couldn't help but find the transformation a little intriguing.

He was still a git of epic proportions, yet his temper had simmered. It was barely noticeable but it was there; etched into his pale features and softening his posture. The rage and fire that was always so present when he screamed at her had faded, and she had a feeling that he simply picked fights with her now out of principle and routine. Then again, that might just be her inner optimist, but she couldn't help but think his earlier smirk was a good sign.

"You look a bit more relaxed today," Neville commented, making her jump. "Good news?"

"No," she shook her head, feeling a little guilty. "I just had a good night's sleep, but Harry should be sending me an owl soon. I'll let you know when he does."

"Thanks," he smiled, attempting again to enlarge the figurine he'd been given.

She watched him with a distant fondness as the minutes ticked away. It was the last lesson of the day, and the mention of Harry and Ron had roused her determination to stick her nose in a book to help their task. When Flitwick dismissed the class, she offered Neville a quick nod before she darted for the door, ready to start her reading. But a familiar face in the corridor paused her footfalls, and she felt dread seize her chest as she took in the headmistress' dire expression.

"Miss Granger-

"The boys," Hermione blurted, her eyes going wide. "Are Harry and Ron-

"Mr Potter and Mr Weasley are fine," the professor assured, and the younger witch released a shaky breath. "However, I do have some bad news."

Hermione noted that the woman's face was worryingly reminiscent of how it had been at Dumbledore's funeral, and she nervously edged closer, blocking out the sounds of the students returning to their dorms. "What is it?" she asked quietly. "Is everyone okay?"

"I think it's best we discus it in my office.

.

 

.

 

He was sat on the kitchen counter again, tapping his index finger in time with the ticks.

The minute hand had just twitched to three minutes past six, and Draco eyed the clock suspiciously. Surely the contraption must have malfunctioned, but then that was almost impossible for magical clocks, yet the prospect of Granger being late was even more unfathomable. He'd finished the vegetable broth she'd left him a good hour ago, anticipating her return as he had plotted to set right his mishap from the morning.

He still couldn't believe how he'd acted, like some idiotic child finding amusement from rain-puddles. Was it any wonder she was beginning to relax in his presence when he was behaving so foolishly? Well, it had to be rectified. Knowing Gryffindors and their fetish for friendships, this would only encourage Granger to be more civil towards him. She was a Mudblood, and imprisoned or not, he was superior. She needed to remember that.

She needed to remember she was below him. Figuratively, of course.

Well, that had been the plan, but she was over an hour late. If he could think of one positive trait to associate with Granger, aside from her pesky intellect, it would be her ability to always remain punctual. He hated people who were late and disorganised.

So just where the hell was she?

The dorm was starting to feel...eerie with her absence, and he wondered again if this would constitute as paranoia. The air felt humid and he would swear her aroma was starting to fade. For reasons he refused to broach, he didn't like that idea. He was contemplating a shower to chase his sudden anxiety when the door finally clicked open.

"Where the fuck have you been?" he demanded, hopping off the counter like a pouncing wolf. She didn't even look at him. "Hey, Granger! I'm talking to you!"

Still nothing. An agitated snarl rumbled behind his tonsils as he advanced on her, cocking an eyebrow when he noticed the defeated fall of her shoulders. The angle of her body and her treacle-tinted locks covered most of her face, and he tried to manoeuvre himself to get a better look, realising then that the witch was trembling. He subconsciously slowed his steps when he heard a throaty breath escape her mouth; not quite a sob, but close.

He paused a few strides short of her, transfixed when the light caught two little droplets that fell from her veil of curls. Tears. He hadn't expected this.

He blinked and silently scolded himself. Here he was again; faltering like some feckless moron. He remembered a time when seeing Mudblood Granger cry would have caused him nothing but pleasure, and wanted to relive that. He needed to relive that lest he completely lose himself.

"I asked you a question, Granger," he continued sharply, scowling when she flinched at his voice. "Why the hell are you late-

"Now is not the time," Hermione mumbled, keeping her face hidden. "Just-

"I don't care if the time not appropriate for you," Draco countered quickly, blocking her when she tried to move past him. "I asked you a question-

"Malfoy, stop," she said, turning away from him before he could glance her face. "Let me through-

"Why the tears, Granger?" he asked, deciding some mockery might goad a satisfying reaction. "Weasley fucking Brown again?"

"Leave me alone," she gargled, her voice heavy with trapped sobs. "Please, Malfoy, just leave me-

"No," he sneered, although her please had been a little off-putting. "What are you crying about? You look bloody pitiful-

"Malfoy-

"Answer me!"

"NO!" she screamed, her head snapping up. "Leave me alone!"

His lip twitched as he examined her features; her cheeks smeared with tears, and her eyes beaten and bloodshot. Her leaking stare was distant and pleading, and his concentration fell to her quivering lips; slightly parted to reveal a line of dents from where she must have chewed the lower one to ruin. It was odd to view her like this. She was renowned for being the collected member of the Twatty Trio, but she was suddenly so fragile. Vulnerable.

He should have relished it. It should have made him feel victorious and provided him with a beautiful opportunity and inspiration to ridicule her. But it didn't. Instead, he found the scene quite...unsettling.

She took advantage of his confusion and brushed past him, evidently in an attempt to lock herself away in her room and ride out her grief in peace. But he wasn't willing to drop it. He had no idea if it was to continue his aimless taunts or feed his curiosity, but they were most certainly not finished.

"I am not done with you!" Draco shouted, marching ahead of her to block her door. "I said I'm not-

"Well, I am done!" she hurled back, choking on a strangled cry. "Why the hell can't you just leave me alone?"

"I like watching you beg," he told her quietly. Darkly. "Answer my question-

"I won't tell you again, Malfoy," she warned, although her current state didn't give the threat the usual flare. "Move, or I'll make you move-

"Go ahead," he challenged, snatching her wrist before she could rummage in her pocket. "Not so fucking mouthy without your wand, are you-

"L-let me go," she sputtered, unsuccessfully trying to reach with her other hand. "You can't use my wand anyway. It-it's charmed to-

"I guessed as much," he hushed her, twisting her arm at an awkward angle to earn a small yelp. "Now, tell me! Why the hell are you crying?"

He'd forgotten her other arm. Stupid mistake really considering the history between his face and her fist. She spun her petite form quickly and managed to catch his jaw; not particularly hard, but enough to make him stagger back and release her. With a swish of her robes, her wand was out and firing a hex that sent him flying backwards to land in the bathroom, a loud smack echoing across the tiles. The wind was knocked out of him and his ribs ached from the hit, but he slowly raised his dizzy head to study her.

His ashy eyes flashed open to find her waiting by the doorframe; her anger only slightly clouded by her mist of tears. The witch's body was quaking more violently now, her muscles seizing up, and her erratic breaths leaving her mouth in loud bursts. He was disorientated from her spell, and he blamed that for the random thought that crossed his mind; she'd never looked more alive.

"I told you to leave me alone!" she shouted, and he could see that she was allowing her emotions to ride her. "You slimy bastard!"

He knew he'd pushed her too far, it was so glaringly obvious in her enraged stance and the uncontrollable spark in her glare. She was just one snarky comment away from bursting at the seams, and every instinct was screaming at him to heed the foreboding angle of her wand. But his inner-Slytherin reminded him of his pathetic and laughable behaviour towards Granger in the last few days, and the familiar insult just stumbled out of his mouth so easily.

"Filthy fucking Mudblood."

Something snapped in her. He actually saw it; the flicker of something dark in her eyes, something almost feral. He tried to shift but another wave of nausea from Granger's attack flushed his brain, and he squinted his eyes to try and focus on her.

"Mudblood," she repeated in a husky hum, raising her wand slightly.

He spat out a startled grunt as she stabbed her palm with the tip of her wand, dragging it across her flesh to create a thin red slit. She stalked into the bathroom then, nearing him and displaying her fresh wound. He watched with a morbid fascination as a ribbon of blood glided down her middle finger, and two ruby pearls rained down to splat against the ivory floor by his feet.

"You find this filthy?" Hermione questioned with a wavering tone, crouching down so she was at his level. "You think my blood is filthy?"

"Granger-

"DO YOU?" the witch yelled, leaning forward to snatch his hand.

"What the hell are you doing?" he asked, accepting that he was starting to panic in response to her dubious movements. "Granger, what the fuck?"

She quickly drew a similar slice across his hand, and a combination of his shock and still-sluggish reflexes didn't allow him to interfere as she slammed their palms together with a wet slap.

"There," Hermione spat, holding their twisted and sticky handshake firm as she spoke. "Now your blood's filthy too!"

Strength surged into his muscles with welcoming heat, and it went straight to his arms, tearing his seeping hand from her grasp and throwing her away from him. She screeched across the floor, much like she had this morning, but he was too busy staring at his red-stained skin to note the irony.

The worst thing was he couldn't distinguish her blood from his. It was all the same shade...and he had no idea what that meant.

His wide and disturbed gaze slowly wandered over to Hermione to find her staring at him, her expression horrified and stunned. The ominous edge that had marred her features was gone, and her familiar innocence was back in place. Both of them were breathing heavily, and the sounds ricocheted between them as he tried to regain his wits. There were too many emotions swimming under his skin; anger, mortification, confusion...but it was too much to absorb. So he simply sat there, frozen to the spot with their eyes linked and their chests heaving.

The scene was so oddly reminiscent of their strange morning, but the differences were so significant. There were no playful smirks or childish splashes; just them and the blood. He could feel the metallic tang invading his nostrils, and he suddenly missed Granger's natural taste.

"Oh my God," she gasped, her movements jerky as she leaned on her knees. "Oh my God, Malfoy, I am so sorry-

"Don't come near me," he growled, pressing his back hard against the wall as she crawled towards him. "Don't fucking touch me! You crazy bitch-

"I c-can't believe I did that," she stuttered sadly, fresh tears glossed her cheeks and lips. "Here, let me see-

"What have you done?" he mumbled, glancing down at his wound for a moment before he roughly pulled himself to his feet. "WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE?"

"I don't know!" Hermione whined loudly, shrinking away from him as he stormed past her. "Where are you going?"

"Away from you!" he snapped as he stomped out of the room, pausing outside the door to give her a final glare. "Don't come within an inch of me-

"Malfoy, please!" she blurted, but he'd already disappeared. "Let me explain!"

All she got was the bitter clap of a slammed door. Her body was shaking violently, bordering on convulsing as she coughed up up her cries. Curling herself into a tight ball, her moans and anguished whimpers were barely muffled as she buried her face behind her arms. She let it all go; sobbing until her gut physically burned. And then some more.

On the other side of the wall, Draco settled himself on his bed and listened intently to her grief. Sweet Merlin, he missed her calming shower-sighs. He examined his messy hand with a scowl, searching again for any possible indication that their blood was different. But there was nothing; same colour, same texture...just the same.

I shouldn't have goaded her...

He shuttered his eyes, wondering why the hell he suddenly felt guilty. He should have been roaring with rage and scheming to cause her pain in return for what she had done, but all he could do was question what had made her snap. He wanted to despise her; to charge back in there and bask in her distress.

But he didn't.

He didn't hate her.

.

 

.

 

Hermione had no idea how long it took for her cries to subside, but she would safely assume it had been at least three hours. All of Hogwarts' background noise had fizzled out and her dorm was definitely darker. Her eyes fell to her normally pristine tiles, frowning as she studied the telling red smears scattered around her. The crimson fingerprints held her attention for a moment, reminding her of poppy petals in the snow. They were Draco's fingerprints.

She would probably never know why, but she was desperate to apologise to him and try to rationalise her actions. She was so angry at herself for taking things out on him, for losing her head. She was supposed to be the sensible one amongst her friends, the voice of reason, and look what she had done.

Her puffy eyes turned to inspect the slash from her ring-finger to her thumb, and she noted that the blood had already started to coagulate. She realised then that at no point had her self-inflicted gash caused her any pain, and she couldn't help but wonder if Malfoy's hurt. Tucking her teeth into her bottom lip, she forced her hand to remain steady as she healed the damage.

A couple of whispered incantations later, and the bathroom looked completely normal, save the broken witch in the centre. She stayed still for a couple of stolen minutes, desperately trying to summon the scattered remains of her dignity and courage.

She needed to see him. She needed to explain.

Using the sink for support, she dragged herself off the floor and clumsily left the cold tiles on wobbly legs and a pang in her chest. She swallowed a nervous lump away as she faced his door, slowly bringing up her hand to drum her knuckles softly against the wood.

"Malfoy," she called. "Can I come in please?"

"I told you not to come near me," came the gruff response, but she'd expected that, and she refused to be deterred.

"Alohomora," she mumbled, taking a deep breath before she pushed open the door. She edged into his room anxiously, her damp gaze finding him sitting upright on his bed and looking so much calmer then she'd expected. "Malfoy-

"I thought I made it quite clear I didn't want you here," he interrupted evenly, dangerously low and smooth.

"I know," Hermione murmured, taking some more steps towards him. "But I need to explain-

"Get out," he demanded, not once looking at her. "I don't want you near me-

"Draco, please," she begged, tossing her pride to the wind. She'd screwed up and he had every right to know why. "My b-blood won't actually stay in you...Your system will have already-

"I am perfectly aware of how my anatomy works, Granger," he drawled, and she saw his jaw tense. "Leave."

Merlin knew why she decided that crawling onto his bed would work in her favour, but some part of her had seemed to think that if she was closer, he would be more likely to listen. He finally fired his steel-silver eyes in her direction, but still there was no sign of the contempt she'd prepared for. He simply looked at her like he'd never seen her before, and for some reason that bothered her.

Draco had no idea how to act in her presence. Every cell in his muddled brain was telling him to grab her and dump her outside of his room, repeating it until she got the point, but his confusion had somehow beaten his fury, and he needed to know why she'd done it. He knew enough about biology to acknowledge that her Muggle blood wasn't infecting him, but that wasn't the problem. It was her. He would swear he could feel her in his system; dancing in his veins and affecting his mind. That was the problem.

"I'm so sorry, Draco" she sputtered, drawing his attention back to her. "I really am. I'm just...I'm so sorry."

There were two things that made him flinch; the first was her use of his given name, and the second was her practically gushing her apology. He quickly scanned her features, finding only a sincerity that was strangely refreshing when he compared to her earlier emotions. The emotions that had led to this.

"I-I found out that Professor Burbage was killed today," she revealed carefully, and he could see she was trying to resist the new batch of tears behind her almond eyes. "By Voldemort."

He blinked. Her outburst made sense now, but he hadn't heard that name since Snape had abandoned him here. He realised then for the first time that he couldn't consider her an enemy; it just simply didn't make sense when the same...creature wanted them both dead. No, not enemies, but certainly not allies. Just somewhere in between.

"She was a friend," Hermione continued with a slight sniffle. "And when you-you said those things I just...I took it out on you and that wasn't fair."

Draco remained silent because he had no idea what else he could do. The temptation to yell at her for being so stupid was there, but it wasn't pushing through. That infuriating guilt just wouldn't budge, and an annoying little voice in his head kept telling him that he should have never taunted her. Since when did Granger become a factor for his flimsy conscience? If he had to guess, he woul venture around the time she'd started leaving him meals.

"I'm so sorry," she said again, a lonely and stubborn tear slipping past her lashes. "I promise I will never do anything like that again."

He regarded her, feeling her honesty wash over him like a sedative. He took a deep breath and ignored the urge to sigh when her scent settled back into his senses. It was a little salty with the influence of her tears, but still undeniably hers. He didn't want to shout at her...it didn't feel right when she still looked so vulnerable. He would over-analyse that decision later, but he just couldn't do it right now.

"Please say something," Hermione implored, leaning a little closer. "Anything."

He chewed the inside of his mouth and arched an eyebrow. "If you ever do something like this again," he started, annunciating each syllable crisply. "You will regret it."

The specifics weren't necessary, he could tell she knew he meant it.

"Okay," she nodded numbly.

"I won't be in here forever, Granger," he told her. "And I will remember everything you do. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes," Hermione whispered, looking more relieved than he'd liked. "I really am sorry-

"I got that," Draco stopped her with roll of his eyes. "Now leave me alone."

She didn't move. "Does it hurt?" she asked, timidly gesturing to his injured palm.

"No."

"Let me clean it," she requested, extending her arm to offer her own hand. "It will just take a second-

"I can clean it myself-

"Please," she cut him off, earning a frustrated sigh from the pale wizard. "It's best if I heal it and-

"Fucking fine," he growled, thrusting his hand into hers and reasoning that it would make her leave faster. "Hurry the hell up, Granger."

Hermione anxiously licked her lips before she angled her wand, gliding it over the gash she had caused. It would take a couple of minutes, she realised, and the silence was too heavy for her. She raised her eyes to watch his face, but his harsh glare made them wander to the rather large pile of books on his bedside table.

"You've read that many already?" she questioned, her brow creasing with interest.

"I just skim them," he revealed in a reluctant grumble. "I've read them before."

"I'm not surprised," she said, her voice still uneasy and laced with nerves. "They're our textbooks-

"From our previous years," he finished for her. "Yes, I had noticed."

"Then why do you read them?"

"There's hardly a wide variety of activity options," Draco scowled at her, realising then that he was effectively holding hands with Granger on his bed. He needed to get her away. Now. "Hurry the hell up."

"Almost done," she muttered, stroking the tip of her wand over the final specks of blood. "There, is that okay?"

He quickly ripped his hand out of her dainty fingers and checked his hand before he nodded his head towards the door. "Piss off then, Granger."

Her honeyed gaze drifted over to his mountain of books again, and she parted her lips to say something. Whatever it was, her Gryffindor courage had clearly gone dry for tonight, and she clumsily left his bed and shuffled out of his room. Only when his door was securely closed did he allow himself to exhale, massaging the bridge of his nose and replaying the odd events of the last few hours in his head.

If ever there was a sure sign that this place was starting to effect his sanity, today had been it.

He looked down and ghosted his fingers across his freshly-healed skin, finding no evidence that she had ever torn open his flesh.

He was adamant he could feel her though; coursing through his bloodstream, and he blamed the invisible flames of her essence for his inability to catch sleep until dawn broke. When he roused at some point in the early afternoon the next day, he did as he always did; dressed in the usual clothes and headed into the kitchenette to see what Granger had left him to eat today.

Cottage pie. One of his favourites.

And next to the steaming pot was a peculiar stack of books, none of which he'd ever seen before.

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