“A product is most easily sold when it has an identity. So they wrap you all up and put a label on you. And then that's what you have to be.”
They say all’s fair in love and war.
They say those who bully are bullied themselves.
They say boys only pick on girls they like.
Yes, it is.
Yes, they are.
Yes, he does.
6th year, just before it all went to shit...
Draco leaned against the wall of the Astronomy Tower, his fingernails picking at the crumbling stone, a minute part of his exhausted mind hoping that maybe… just maybe… the centuries old granite would give way under his weight and allow him the luxury of a swift death.
It was all too much. Too stressful. Too fucking hard.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, willing the cold Scottish air to clear away the pounding headache and the ache in his chest that threatened to slowly and painfully squeeze his heart to a pulp.
The cabinet was ready. It had been for days.
But he couldn’t tell them. He didn’t want them to come to Hogwarts. He didn’t want to be part of their plan.
Too many dark thoughts suffocated his mind — his mother, his mission, and the other order he’d been given… the one he definitely didn’t want.
She’d cried earlier on.
No one saw her though; she’d hidden it well, her distress concealed behind a proud expression and fiery comeback until she’d left the Great Hall and ducked into the nearest empty classroom.
Thank fuck he could cast a decent Disillusionment Charm. It was just a pity he hadn’t the balls to approach her as she sobbed. Instead he’d stood and watched, like a fucking stalker.
And all he could think of was how beautiful she was.
So much for her best friends, though. Back in the Great Hall Potter and the Weaselette were far too busy trying to touch each other’s tonsils with their tongues, and the other arsehole’s eyes were solely focussed on Lavender Brown’s oversized cleavage, leaving Granger an unwilling target for more taunts and insults.
He laughed briefly at the memory. It wasn’t even his hurtful words this time; for once he’d kept his mouth shut. Goyle, of all people, had started it with Crabbe backing his best friend up with caveman grunts. Although Draco doubted Greg had even thought of the insult himself; he’d probably heard someone else use it first. And, if that was the case, it was a miracle the neanderthal fucker had managed to remember the words in the right sequence.
But who fucking cared? The damage was done.
Draco had remained quiet as Granger stood up for herself, her expressive eyes flashing with indignation as she floored Goyle and Crabbe with her verbose reply. She was a force of nature, quick-witted and determined, full of life… and undeniably brilliant.
It was amusing to watch the idiotic features of his two moronic sidekicks morph into expressions that would remind one of extreme constipation while she spoke. And it would have been so easy to laugh out loud… with her, not at her.
So bloody easy.
Draco often imagined various scenarios where he laughed with Hermione Granger, where he threw an arm casually around her shoulders and pulled her to him, where they kissed in the middle of corridors, where they touched in private, where they…
Behind all her bravado he knew a struggling young woman hid away, the insults and derogatory comments from him and his peers getting to her, breaking her down, cracking her strong Gryffindor spirit. This was exactly what his father wanted; destroy the Mudblood and Potter will have nothing.
“More importantly, we’ll all be back in the Dark Lord’s good graces, Draco. We must please the Dark Lord.”
That was his other order for this year — bring her down. Make Lucius proud. Restore the Malfoy name.
They were in the middle of another wizarding war but both sides had yet to meet face to face; everything was still in the planning stages. The Dark Lord was currently sitting comfortably at the head of the Manor’s antique dining table — Lucius now the scurrying rat at his feet. Death Eaters were terrorising the wizarding communities across the country and recruitment was at an all-time high.
The Order of the Phoenix were struggling in this uneven match, holding only a pair to Voldemort’s three of a kind.
And Draco was torn between protecting his mother, obeying his father, and secretly…
He hung his head, unable to make sense of how he’d come to this miserable moment.
Originally he’d been brainwashed into believing Voldemort was a brilliant strategist with a vision of a future where all pure-blood families would thrive and flourish. As time went by, the young heir had felt honoured and unbelievably privileged to carry out any task his family’s house guest had requested. He’d bullied, lied, cheated, stolen… whatever was asked of him. And he was initially a willing participant.
Until she'd opened his eyes.
Until he'd realised she was a lot more than just a filthy little Mudblood.
Until his heart began to shout a lot louder than his head.
These days he was of the opinion the monster who'd come back from the dead in a pot was a fucking freak. A stain. A blot on the landscape.
In order to keep his mother alive, Draco continued to work on the cabinet. But, as for Granger, he’d stepped away, watching from the sidelines as the Golden Trio and their friends were taunted and teased. The odd insult hurled in his aristocratic tones stopped him from drawing attention to his lack of engagement, but every word uttered stuck in his throat.
And now, as he stared out into the Scottish twilight, he considered his choices.
“You look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, Malfoy.”
He froze, her soft voice carrying on the breeze around him.
“That’s an understatement,” he whispered, his eyes closing.
She moved towards him, boldly as a true Gryffindor. The teasing and personal insults might be getting to her but there was no doubt she was Sorted into the right house. In fact, out of all the bloody lions in Hogwart’s den, she was probably the bravest. There was no way Hermione Granger was going to turn around and leave him be — not like any of the other fucking students who stared at him on a daily basis with either hate or fear in their eyes.
His fellow Slytherins would respectfully avoid him. The Ravenclaws would probably calculate the pros and cons of interacting with a Slytherin junior Death Eater, arriving at a decision that would have them making their way towards the library before you could say ‘the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle…’
As for the Hufflepuffs, they’d shit themselves.
But not Granger. She feared nothing. But Draco knew she felt the pain of the bullying he was mostly responsible for. And he hated himself for it.
“I find myself coming up here quite a lot these days,” she commented casually. “It’s a perfect place for brooding, don’t you think? Although, if you’re going to start using this spot, maybe we should establish a rota?”
He laughed despite himself, causing her to glance quickly in his direction.
“Are you ill, Malfoy? That’s a strange sound you’ve made. It was almost like… laughing.”
She clutched her chest in mock surprise.
“I have been known to laugh on occasion, Granger. I just find myself devoid of things to laugh at these days.”
“Ah, but that laugh was different,” she continued airily, her tone conversational and light. “Your laughter is usually accompanied with a sneer that — if you don’t mind me saying so — doesn’t do your looks any favours. What you’ve done there was almost like a real laugh, as if you were reacting to something you genuinely found funny. Surely I’m wrong though.” She grinned widely, her dark eyes full of humour. “Yeah, definitely wrong.”
He turned to look down at her, his height towering over her petite frame.
“I’ll have you know I have quite the sense of humour, Granger,” he replied. “At least I had… until recently. No house points for guessing why.”
She paused, taking in his loaded comment. “Yeah, I get it,” she said. “I’m sorry for that.”
Draco was stunned, completely taken aback by her apology. It made no sense at all that the witch he’d tormented with unnecessary cruelty for years was being conversational and relaxed in his presence, nevermind the fact she’d just sympathised with him.
“Unwanted house guests can be quite a strain,” she continued, leaning against the wall and crossing her arms. “Harry almost blew up his Aunt Marge when she stayed with his family because she’d insulted his parents, Ron has a great-aunt Tessie who gives him nightmares so he stays with his eldest brother anytime she visits. My mother has this cousin—”
“Granger,” Draco interrupted, his expression one of utter confusion. “What the fuck are you doing?”
“This!” He waved his hand in her direction, unsure of how to verbalise the fact two sworn enemies were standing within close proximity to each other and one of them had obviously suffered a recent aneurysm… or had fallen asleep and woken up in some freaky fairytale where everything was happiness and fucking rainbows.
“Oh, I’m just chatting,” she replied airily, smiling widely. “You look like you could do with the distraction.”
Yeah, he was definitely the one who’d fallen into some sort of alternative universe. Perhaps he’d fallen through a time loop, or something. Fuck! Maybe he’d fallen over the wall and was actually in hell, with a chatty Hermione Granger his eternal damnation. And not only chatty, but fucking gorgeous and oh-so tempting.
Draco crossed his arms, his head shaking in disbelief. “I don’t think I’ve ever considered a scenario where you and I would have a civilised conversation. Excuse me while I just come to terms with this.”
Hermione laughed and his insides decided they really liked the sound. “Oh, I guess you’re right,” she agreed. “Imagine what your friends would say if they saw you now.”
“What friends?” he sneered, instantly cursing himself for answering without thinking.
“Oh, well…” She wasn’t sure how to answer. “I guess I just meant Crabbe and Goyle, Parkinson—”
“If you consider Crabbe and Goyle to be in the same category for me as Potter and the Weasel are for you, Granger, then you’re sorely mistaken,” he said, unsure why he was willing to continue talking. Was it another side-effect of being dead and suffering eternal damnation? He’d spend from now until the end of time spilling his innermost secrets to the devil’s own Hermione Granger?
“What about Parkinson?” she asked, not entirely sure why.
“Pansy will do just about anything to get her nails into me,” he explained. “It’s not because she even likes me; it’s my inheritance she’s after.”
“Are you sure? I mean, she really seems to like you, Malfoy. She hangs around you enough.”
“Oh, trust me, I’m right,” he corrected her. “Pansy is like the majority of pure-blood heiresses. They don’t give a shit about marrying for love or even like. They just want access to the vaults and the glamour that comes with the job. There is, of course, the inconvenience of having to ruin one’s figure in order to produce an heir but, after the birth, the child can be handed over to a house-elf for rearing.”
Hermione’s eyes were wide with shock. “How can you be so casual about this?” she demanded. “How can you even bear to look at her if you know that’s all she’s after?”
He shrugged.”I’m used to it. I don’t expect to have a long and happy life, Granger. If I make it out of this shitstorm alive, then we’ll see what happens — Azkaban if we lose, a long and loveless marriage if we win. It’s great being me, isn’t it?”
She just stared, tears of sympathy weighing heavily on her dark eyelashes. The need to gently place a loving kiss on each eye to take away the anguish she was feeling suddenly hit Draco like the Hogwarts Express at full throttle. He couldn’t understand why she’d feel even remotely sorry for him; he made her life a living hell up until now. Didn’t she notice?
“You know what the funny thing is, Granger?” he continued, throwing all caution to the wind and deciding there and then not to give two fucks about the next words that were going to come out of his mouth. “I don’t even hate you, or your kind.” He turned to stare out at the night sky, a heavy breath allowing him a moment to finally accept it was time to come clean. “All I’ve seen since that fucker took up residence in my home is blood — so much fucking blood. Blood from my own family, blood from my so-called friends, Muggles, Mudbloods, humans and animals... witches and wizards with white skin, dark skin, freckled and scarred, English, Irish, American, Australian, gay, straight, rich, poor, successful, useless, young, old… everytime I close my eyes I see it, pouring from skin… just pouring.”
His voice broke as he whispered, “We’re all the same.”
Hermione stepped up behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder, feeling it shake as he succumbed to his emotions. “We are… Draco. We’re all the same.”
Suddenly she was in his arms, holding him close as he cried into her wild curls and her tears soaked through his shirt.
In that moment the barriers that divided them were crushed; they were just two young people alone. There was no war, no pressure, no hatred. No blood. No house rivalry, no scorn, no insults.
“We need a football,” Hermione laughed quietly through her tears, still in Draco’s embrace. It didn’t feel like he was willing to let her go. And she knew she didn’t want him to.
“You’re going to have to explain that one to me, Granger.” His voice still shook. “I don’t know what a football is.”
Hermione made to step away but Draco held her tightly. “Don’t… please.”
He felt her nod against his chest. “Okay,” she replied quietly.
“So what’s a football?”
“It’s like a quaffle,” she began. “Football is played on the ground, with eleven players on each team. Instead of three Quidditch hoops, there’s one goal at each end of the pitch with a goalkeeper in front. The other ten players are spread around the pitch. But I was thinking of an event that happened during the First World War. Across Europe soldiers on both sides called an unofficial truce over Christmas 1914 and they played football and exchanged gifts. So I was thinking we need a football.”
She felt him smile against her. “Sounds like a decent thing to do,” he admitted. “Fuck those in charge, let the soldiers decide how things fare out. Did the war end then?”
“No, it was almost four years later when it ended.”
“Ah. Well, if this is our ceasefire, I guess it’ll be another four years before we meet again. If neither of us are—”
“Don’t say it,” she interrupted. “Please.”
“Okay,” he agreed, raising his head to look down at her. “We don’t have a football. What gift can I give you?”
They stared at each other in silence, both of them tear-stained and emotionally wrought. They knew what was ahead; the chances of seeing their next birthday was highly unlikely at this stage.
Perhaps it was time to live in the now.
“Maybe… if you’d like,” Hermione began, her courage almost failing her. “I-I could give you a gift… Draco. Something we could share… something that is precious to me.”
He closed his eyes, a pained expression marring his handsome face. “I can’t take such a gift from you, Granger… Hermione. You need to share that with someone you—”
“No,” she whispered, placing her index finger gently over his lips. “I want this moment… with you. It’s like our own private rebellion against them all. Our own Christmas truce.”
“And then we go back to being enemies?”
“We were never really enemies, Draco,” she commented, her fingers trailing along his jawline, tenderly caressing his flawless skin. “We’re just pawns in a much larger game.”
His eyes closed at her touch. “I think, then, we should call a temporary truce, Hermione.”
“I think so, too.”
They moved in slow motion, unsure of each other yet prepared to cross the point of no return.
For Hermione, this was something she always thought she’d share with someone else. Bad and all as Ronald could be she'd assumed he’d be the one, but this felt right. This was a monumental moment in a young woman’s life yet there was no one else she’d rather be with. Draco Malfoy emotionally tortured her for years but she couldn’t hate him if she tried. She could see what was happening to him; she’d watched from the sidelines for long enough. He was an unwilling victim in a war that threatened to destroy them all and, because of that, she sought to offer him comfort. She wanted to bring him peace, if only for a little while.
Draco was trying desperately not to think. If he took a moment to step outside of his body and look back at himself, he’d see his hands slowly removing Hermione Granger’s tie and brushing his fingertips across her exposed collarbone. He’d watch himself fall into the dark pools of her expressive eyes and drown. He’d know there would never be any turning back.
He wanted to treasure her gift, to make her feel nothing but pleasure. Could he tell her though? Could he admit he’d be giving her the same?
His untouched body.
His unloved soul.
“Hermione…” he whispered, unsure of what he meant to say. “I…”
“Shh.” Her voice soothed him instantly. She seemed to know exactly what he needed, even though he wasn’t sure he knew himself. “Let me.”
She stepped back and slowly opened the buttons on her shirt, letting it hang open and taunt him with a glimpse of the cream lace of her bra. Once her cuffs were undone, the shirt slid to the floor. Hermione reached forward and took Draco’s hand, replacing it just below her collarbone, the swell of her breast filling his palm.
“I won’t break,” she whispered.
“But I might,” he breathed.
“No, Draco,” she answered, reaching behind to unzip her skirt. “You’re strong. You’re a lot braver than you think.”
As the skirt joined her shirt, Hermione stepped away from her discarded clothes. She stood in her bra and matching pants, dark tights, and dainty shoes. The cool air began to whip around her hair, summoning goosebumps as it hit her skin.
A gasp escaped her lips bringing Draco’s attention back to the present. His fingers hadn’t stopped caressing her skin, his eyes had never left hers. They were caught in a bubble that the cold wind had cruelly burst.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered, quickly casting a warming spell over them both. He then noticed her tie was still in his hand, wrapped around his fingers like a thick bandage. Releasing it and throwing the narrow strip of material into the air, Draco transfigured it into a scarlet and gold rug which floated down to the floor beside them.
“Lie down,” he said, taking Hermione’s hand. “Let me do the rest.”
She nodded, allowing him to guide her onto the rug and lie comfortably. Her body was still shaking slightly — as was his — but they knew the cause wasn’t tears or the cold. They were scared.
“Draco… please…” Hermione whispered, pulling his hand towards her. “Please touch me.”
She probably thought he knew all the right moves, the right places to touch, the right words to say. Little did Hermione realise Draco was only as knowledgeable as the pages of his mother’s hidden collection of erotica and the continuing escapades of Blaise “the Manwhore” Zabini.
He knelt at her feet and removed her dainty school shoes, his hands sliding up her legs to reach the waistband of her tights. She lifted her body slightly so he could pull them down, which he did with deliberate slowness, making sure his fingers grazed her exposed skin along the way.
Leaving Hermione beneath him in her virginal lace underwear, Draco stood and began to undress. Again, they retained eye contact as he removed his uniform and she touched the parts of her body his fingers had left burning.
Standing in his tight boxer shorts, his wand in his hand, Draco silently locked the door to the Astronomy Tower and cast a Silencio around them.
“Do you need me to cast a spell for protection?” he asked, his cheeks colouring.
“I’m alright,” Hermione answered, sitting up and reaching for him. “I take Muggle precautions.”
He nodded, sinking to his knees in front of her and dropping his wand. “We haven’t even kissed yet.”
“Let’s fix that,” she replied, leaning forward to pull him into her embrace.
They fell together onto the mattress, their bodies entwined, Draco whispering Hermione’s name so quietly she could barely hear him, just as his lips touched hers for the very first time. They moved in sync, tongues tentatively brushing against each other, dancing to a tune no one could hear.
Hands explored naked skin, drawing closer and closer to the parts of their bodies they’d kept private… sacred. They kissed until neither could breathe, desperate for more yet nervous. Apprehensive.
Wanting to push… needing the other to pull.
“Draco…” The Gryffindor would always be the bravest.
“Let me touch you, Hermione,” he breathed against her swollen lips. “Let me see you.”
He rolled them gently until he could reach behind and unclasp her bra, managing it first time and silently thanking all the gods who’d listen for the sheer luck they bestowed on him. Slowly he pulled the lace away from her body, exposing her small breasts to his heated gaze. Her nipples were pebbled, dark pink, and begging his touch… his kiss.
Draco didn’t disappoint. He lowered his head and slowly swirled his tongue around one of her nipples, relishing the sound of her heavy breaths. His eyes were firmly closed, his sense of sight giving way to sound and touch. He could feel her magic pulsing through her skin, taste it in the tissue of her nipples, smell it on her smooth skin. He was addicted and it was only the beginning.
He sucked and licked her breasts until Hermione was squirming beneath him, her hands roaming the broadness of his shoulders, fingertips gliding through his hair. Draco left a trail of kisses along her skin, from her chest to her neck, eventually capturing her lips again in an embrace that engulfed them in raw emotion. The air crackled around them, heightening their senses, driving them into a frenzy of thrusting hips and erotic moans.
“Merlin, Hermione,” Draco panted, his body moving over hers, his erection throbbing painfully. “I need to… please… I need…”
“Lie back, Draco,” she replied, pushing against him. “Relax… let me take care of you.”
When he was settled on his back, Hermione sat up on her knees, her long hair brushing against her breasts, hiding her body from him. Draco pushed her curls over her shoulders.
“I want to see you. You look so beautiful in the moonlight.”
She blushed. “Thank you.”
“I mean it,” he replied. “Despite our differences, I’ve always thought of you as beautiful… in another lifetime, I’d never let you go.”
“Don’t,” she whispered. “Don’t make me sad.”
She slowly removed his boxer shorts, taking care to release his weeping cock from the confines of the tight cotton. Hermione had never seen the male form before — knew from books what to expect — but Draco’s manhood took her breath away. He was thick, long, a few shades darker than the rest of his pale skin, the head darker again and glistening with precome.
He clenched a fist at one side of his body, his other hand reaching for Hermione.
“Touch me… please,” he begged. “I need you to touch me.”
She nodded and licked her lips, her eyes taking him in. Her first movements were jagged, apprehensive. “I don’t know… am I doing…”
He placed his larger hand over hers and showed her the way to stroke him. It was no surprise that she learned quickly, his moans were enough to prove she was touching him the way he wanted. Draco’s hips began to move in rhythm with her movements, up and down like her hand on his cock. He gripped the mattress in his hands, clinging for dear life as his eyes squeezed shut and his breath came in gasps.
“So good, Granger… so fucking good.”
Hermione’s heart almost skipped a beat. His praise, the way he was falling apart from her touch alone, she literally had Draco Malfoy in the palm of her hand and the rush of power was intoxicating. She wanted to please him, to make him feel the euphoria that was coursing through her veins, to see him smile.
Even if all they had were these stolen moments, she wanted Draco to be happy.
Bravely, she leaned over and pressed a light kiss to the tip of his cock. He bucked and gasped, his hand grabbing her curls.
Hermione drew back quickly, her eyes glistening.
“Did I do something wrong?”
“Merlin, no,” Draco sat up instantly, gathering her in his arms. “I won’t last if you take me in your mouth now, I’m… too close as it is.”
“Oh.” He could feel her sag in relief. “I thought I wasn’t any good.”
“Hermione, this is perfect… here… with you—” he kissed her gently, his fingers trailing down her spine “—you can do no wrong with me.”
“Then will you… em… will you…” She couldn’t finish, her cheeks red.
“Will I have sex with you? Is that what you want to ask me? Will I fuck you? Or… would you like it slower? I’ll do whatever you want, Hermione.” He kissed her again, moving his hips underneath her body.
She moaned loudly, matching the movement of his body against hers. “Slow…” she whispered. “I want it slow.”
Hermione moved immediately, standing before him, her feet in between his thighs. Draco pulled her pants down slowly, kissing as much of her skin as he could reach. He held her steady whilst she kicked the lace away and then kissed her where no one had the honour to see before. He continued to devour her clit as she squirmed in front of him, her hands in his hair, her head thrown back. Moans and gasps broke the air as Draco’s lips, teeth, and fingers teased and tickled her until Hermione was crying out in ecstasy and falling into his arms.
He held her tightly as she came back to him slowly, the adrenalin shooting through her bringing tears to her eyes.
“Draco…” she gasped, clutching at him. “Draco…”
Carefully he laid her down beside him and ran his hand from her neck to her mound. “I don’t think there’s a more stunning sight in this world than the expression on your face when you come,” he admitted. “This is a memory I never want to forget.”
With those words, he positioned himself at the entrance to her body and closed his eyes. “You are so perfect like this, Hermione Granger." He spoke as if in awe of her. “So perfect. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I know it’ll hurt,” she replied. “It’s okay, Draco. I want this. I want you.”
He sighed and nodded. “I’m sorry, though.”
She took a deep breath and released it when he pushed into her waiting core. The sting was intense but for mere moments. It quickly gave way to the feeling of sheer bliss as Draco’s cock slid in and out, her body welcoming him as if he was coming home.
In his head he was beginning to recite the meaning of flowers — a compulsory subject for all pure-blood witches and wizards — from Abor Vitae to Zinnia. He was currently on Broom but he couldn’t take his eyes off the witch beneath him. She was a vision of sheer beauty with her hair a halo around her, those mesmerizing eyes wide with emotion, her mouth open as short gasps of air heated his own skin. He kept kissing her, his body moving on its own whilst his lips took control.
She came again, her walls pulling at his cock, desperate to draw the essence from his body and — under different circumstances — orchestrate the beginnings of new life. What was happening between these two unlikely allies, albeit temporarily, was a beginning of a different kind.
They just didn’t realise it.
In the moments that followed their lovemaking — whilst they held on to each other and whispered each other’s names, kissing softly as if they hadn’t a care in this dark world…
They fell in love.
Hours passed in which they shared their bodies over and over again, both of them silently praying that the sun would miraculously forget to rise. But, as sure as night follows day, the time arrived for them to part.
They dressed in silence, lost in their thoughts, wishing everything could be different.
“I’ll never forget this night,” Hermione admitted, her bottom lip wobbling.
“Nor will I,” Draco agreed, cupping her face in his hands and kissing her. “Thank you… for giving me such a perfect gift.”
“Draco, you could… you could join—”
“You know I can’t, Hermione. I can’t leave my mother. There’s too much at stake.” He wiped her falling tears away with his thumbs. “In another lifetime…”
“You’d never let me go,” she finished.
“Do we go back to hating each other now?”
“I never hated you. But I think friends is out of the question.”
“Please reconsider, Draco!”
“Hermione, I can’t. Please, believe me, I wish I could.”
She nodded. All was certainly not fair in love and war. “Deep down, I know.” She stepped away, turning once more at the unlocked door. “Goodbye, Draco.”
Later that evening a small bouquet of flowers appeared at the foot of Hermione’s bed as she lay behind her closed curtains, tears slowly sliding down her cheeks. Her heart was breaking for a young man she’d give anything to save.
She smiled sadly, knowing that deep below in the dungeons someone who deserved all the happiness in the world was thinking of her.
Hermione didn’t know the language of flowers, it wasn’t a topic she’d ever considered. So she was oblivious to the meaning behind the collection of solid red and striped carnations. She didn’t realise that one cried for a broken heart and the other wished, more than anything, to be with her.