Chapter 1 : glance
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At eleven-years-old and the child to one of the most powerful men in the wizarding world, and standing in the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Draco Malfoy has never before felt quite so small.
Rather, he's always used to feeling big. Even next to Crabbe, who could eat his own weight in pastries and still be hungry for more, and Goyle, who looked like a grown man, he had always felt like he towered above them - because they were Crabbes and Goyles, and he was a Malfoy. Malfoy meant power. Malfoy meant respect. Malfoy meant being taller than everyone around you, even when you were the smallest one in the room.
But he doesn't feel very tall now.
Draco remembers what his father told him, before he got on the train. Other fathers were hugging their children, giving kind words of encouragement, but not his father. Lucius Malfoy wasn't a cold man, no, and was far from a terrible father, but emotions had never been his strongest point - those, rather, were saved for his mother, a woman far too tender for her own good - and rather he opted for advice, although Draco knew it wasn't advice at all.
He had offered orders, demands, rules for making the family look good, and the young boy had appreciated them all the same. If you had no family dignity you had nothing, his father had always said - just look at the Weasleys. Blood traitors, and poor as dirt. No, family pride made for family power, and Draco knew that in the world of wizards, power was key.
"Hold your head up high, Draco. You are a Malfoy - you stand above anyone in that school, even the seventh years, even the teachers. Stand tall, sort the right type from the wrong - know your place in this world, and make sure to remind them of theirs."
The wrong type. Of course he knows the wrong type; muggleborns. Mudbloods. He doesn't quite understand why they're wrong, but father knows best, he's sure of it. Potter will figure it out for himself soon enough, he thinks, and if he doesn't than it makes him just as good as one of them.
And besides, you don't need him. You're above Potter too.
So why does he feel like the smallest one in the room?
People are laughing, smiling and clapping and cheering, and Draco hides his nerves behind an indifferent sneer. He will be sorted into Slytherin; he has to be. What would father say if he wasn't? If he ended up a Gryffindor, or worse, a Hufflepuff? He would be disowned, surely, the only Malfoy to not bring pride to the family name, to shame them and embarrass them in front of their subjects.
He will be the Malfoy who failed, the Malfoy who wasn't. And as the room hooted and hollered, desperately waiting to see who would be joining them along the wooden tables of their house, he found himself having to use every once of might in his body not to run away.
Honour your family. Make them proud. Stand above them. Slytherin. Slytherin Slytherin Slyth -
The first student to be sorted. He figures that he should size his fellow peers up, see which ones are worthy for friendships and which ones are to be cast away with the others, with the wrong kind. Granger is enough of a give-away - he doesn't have to look at her to know that she's muggleborn, or at least a half-blood - the name says it all.
And then he sees her, walking up to the stool where the Sorting Hat rests, and yes, he knows just what she is. Nervous, but excited, anxious, but awed. Everything is new to her - she's even staring at the hat with a sort of hungry wonder, as if she's both amazed by it and desperate to unravel it's every secret at once. It's curious, verycurious, and he can't help but be almost intrigued by it.
He watches her with the same intensity she had watched the hat be placed up on her head - wondering, anxious to know what she was made up of, what thoughts lay beneath that bushy head of hair. Draco found himself wanting to ask her about it, and for a moment he finds himself hoping she could be sorted into Slytherin, with him. She's smart, he can see it, and ambitious too. There's a thirst in her eyes, a thirst for knowledge, and a thirst for the power that comes with it. Muggleborn...but she didn't seem the wrong kind. Perhaps there was a kid that was right, perhaps not all of them had filth instead of blood running through their veins,
But no, it's too late for that now. Because the hat calls out Gryffindor, and her house cheers and she looks genuinely thrilled by the idea - he's sure she's read all about them, not seeming the kind to enter a new situation unprepared - and he shakes any previous thoughts out of his head.
And as she leaps off of the stool she meets his eyes, only for a moment, gaze fleeting, flickering over for only a second and with little interest, and he thinks that for someone so young, for someone who comes from the wrong kind, there is as much power in her stare as there is in his father's. A different kind, yes, but still there, still waiting.
It is only a glance. Nothing more.
He doesn't think about it as his name is called. He doesn't think about it as he swaggers up to the stool and sits down with a smirk on his face that could rival any other. He doesn't think about it as he is sorted into Slytherin, as his house cheers louder for him than any other house cheered for their new member, as he looks back over to her to see that she is not looking at him.
Too many questions to ask. Too many riddles to solve - to her he is just a little boy in a hall.
Not a Malfoy. Not someone to look up to; someone to forget about.
And he hates her for it.
Their years continue on much the same way - him, desperate trying to get her attention, but at the same time craving the look on her face when he brings her down to size, make her remember who she is, what she is.
It's shameful, Draco thinks, that they call her the brightest witch of her age when she can barely even be called a witch at all. He's just as smart as her - his marks are just as high, his knowledge just as proficient, and he hardly even has to lift a finger to write a brilliant essay, or score an E on an exam. But no professors ever reward his brilliance, or compliment his smarts - no, Hogwarts belongs to one Miss Hermione Granger, and there are times when he feels he would, without hesitation, kill her where she stands, life in Azkaban a better alternative than life in the shadow of a mudblood.
He hates her.
Funny, how easy it is to convince himself of that.
His friends call it an talent, they way he gets under her skin. Call her a hobby of his - they laugh about it, the way he winds her up just to see what type of reaction he can get out of her. And Draco laughs with them, because it's easier than admitting the truth, to them or to his own self.
It's happened slowly at first, and before he knew it it happened all at once. At first he was intrigued, and then he was curious, and then he was obsessed.
He hides behind insults, petty comments that aren't even clever, using them as an excuse to simply talk to her. It's not as if he's in love with her - far from it - but it's as it was the first time he saw her; curiosity. Hermione Granger, mudblood, is the only person at Hogwarts interesting enough to hold his attention for more than a minute, and he's never even had a proper conversation with her. He wants to talk to her about the world, wants to share in her hunger for more and her craving for knowledge, her ambition, her determination to prove herself.
It's inspiring, intoxicating, and Draco would do anything to simply be a part of it.
He still remembers the day in third year - how could he forget it - when he wound her up on the grounds, pleased when she had punched him, simply because he had delighted in the feeling of her hand against his face, so much that he was able to ignore the pain. And even clearer, he remembers the look on her face when the horrible beast of a creature had attacked him that same year - concern.
For him or the bird, he doesn't know. He doesn't care - his own mind is made up, and it takes much more than apparent hatred to deter an illusion deep-rooted in the mind of a helpless man.
The summer before fourth year, he sees her at the Quidditch World Cup. Father is talking and he's simply staring at her, waiting, desperate to get a rise, and then...nothing. She's walking away, whispering with Weaselette, either unaware of or indifferent to his presence.
And it's infuriating.
So he does the only thing he knows how to do - he brags. Just talks, rambles about their seats with the Minister, whatever he can to draw her attention back to him, to make her glance at him, just once, just for a moment. But his father is reprimanding him and she's still looking away, pointedly ignoring him now, and he spends the entire game in infuriated silence.
Then there's the Yule Ball, just months later. He almost asked her to attend with him - she would have said no, regardless, but there's the even greater deterrent of what his father would do if - when - he discovered his son was intrigued by a muggleborn. So instead he sneers when they say she looks beautiful, makes jokes about Viktor Krum's eyesight when they walk in arm in arm, the boy clearly smitten, and tries to refrain himself from doing something he might regret.
She's not overly-pretty. She never has been - plain, they call her. Plain Granger, apart from her hair, the hair that couldn't be ordinary if it tried. And sometimes he manages to convince herself that she is ordinary, that she's nothing special, certainly not special enough for him, and then he sees it.
It's a spark, a spark of light that turns her eyes from brown to copper to gold to all the colours at once, and he doesn't know how to react. It's the spark he saw when she was first sorted, and it's the spark he sees when she descends the staircase, hair curled and lips pulled into that secret, I-know-more-than-you-ever-will smile.
Draco remembers the Yule Ball, because that's the night he sees her happy with someone who isn't a friend.
Could she be like that, were he to talk to her? If she wasn't a mudblood and if he wasn't a pureblood, a step above, could she laugh with him? Could he make her happy? No, he concludes, and there's no point dwelling on what if's. Because she hates him, and he 'hates' her, and there's nothing for them but misery.
He overhears her as he stands near the doors with Pansy and her friends, ignoring the gaggling group of idiots as he watches the scene unfold before him. She's fighting with the Weasel, yelling at him about ball dates and not asking her when he had the chance, and Draco would be lying if he tried to claim the words didn't sting. They aren't meant for him, rather for the little pet weasel she seems so fond of, but he can't help but feel as if they are. And each syllable feels like a knife, and she's crying and it's gotten to the point where he has to leave, he has to.
But he can't. People are leaving, Pansy's gotten tired of his complete indifference to her existence, and the world is still turning for everyone but them, until it's just him in the doorway and her, crying on the stairs and unaware of his presence.
"You're far too smart for him, you know."
The words are out of his mouth before he can stop himself, and although she's looking at him like he's mad and he knows he shouldn't have said a thing, Draco can't bring himself to regret it. Because she's stopped crying, and for now that will have to be enough.
"Honestly, Malfoy? I know this seems like another pristine opportunity to make my life even more miserable, but I'm begging you," she pauses to take a breath, hair tangled and eyes wide and looking far too beautiful for a girl who's just been crying her eyes out for an hour. "Just give it a rest. Please."
"Honestly, Granger," he sighs, suddenly finding himself all-too tired of the façade and nowhere near motivated enough to care. "There's nobody here for me to put on a show for, nobody here to impress. So I'll say it again - you're far, far too smart for him."
She looks baffled, wiping her eyes one more time before narrowing them suspiciously, not saying a word. He feels like he's being examined, like she's staring past his skin and into the very pits of the soul he's often been told he doesn't possess, and it's all-together intimidating and exciting at once. What is she thinking? Not for the first time, Draco wishes he could see what was going on in the far-too-big head of Hermione Granger, but he has the sinking suspicion that he'll never know. And what a shame it is; he can only imagine the secrets she's hiding beneath all that hair.
After at least a minute passes and she's still staring, he decides to just continue on and hope she snaps out of it soon. "If you ever speak a word of this to anyone, I'll murder you," he decides to add with a slight quirk of his eyebrow, ensuring that she knows he's not serious but still trying to get the message across - this doesn't change anything between them, as much as he might want it to. No, this is a spur-of-the-moment, once-in-a-lifetime, and although he wishes it wasn't he knows it has to be. "But you deserve better. Don't settle, Granger. You're so much smarter than that."
Another pause, another silent hesitation. Draco's almost ready to turn around and leave, before she's talking once more.
"You don't know anything, Malfoy," she hisses, sharp eyes burning into his own with a ferocity he's never seen, not even from her. "I don't know what sick game you're playing, but just stop, okay? I'm done with being the little mudblood girl you take all your Daddy-issues out on - and yes, I said mudblood. It doesn't bother me any more, none of this bothers me, so just give. It. Up."
Hermione storms off before he can say another word, and Draco's almost thankful for it. If he were to speak again he would say something entirely unintelligible and jumbled and make things worse, and so he doesn't bother to call after her.
What's done is done - it's better this way, he decides. This way she can go on hating me and I can go on hating her, and that can be that.
I hate her.
They don't speak fifth year, and he's thankful for it. There's no insults tossed back and forth, no more childish arguments or battles of wits. She can barely meet his eyes, and in many ways it's a relief. Draco finds he has rather forgotten what they look like, and without that image in his mind he can sleep easy.
And then sixth year comes, and he can't remember the last time he slept at all.
At night he hears them - voices, slithering into his brain like snakes, not whispers but screams, tearing him apart from the inside out. Their cries bite his flesh and claw his bones but he cannot understand a word that they say to him, only that they speak to him and him alone. And then there's the eyes, red eyes, his eyes, and a blinding flash of green light, and suddenly everything happens all at once and he is concious once more, and entirely alone.
No one mentions the rings around his eyes, or the way his body has become a skeleton. No one dares ask why he's constantly pulling down his sleeves, the red mark burning the flesh of his forearm like a brand. And no one asks where he goes when he's meant to be tucked away in bed - they all know better by now.
There are times when he contemplates death, namely his own. For switching sides is not an option - He will kill his mother and father at first word of Draco's betrayal, he can be sure of that, and he refuses to do anything that might put them at harm. And he cannot run, because even the largest of fools knows that you cannot run from Him, that He will find you and strike you down where you stand. So he cannot fight, and he cannot flee, and as time goes on the only option seems to be to give up entirely.
The only option seems to be to end it all together.
He would make it look like an accident, of course. An unfortunate stumble up the astronomy tower, a fall into the frozen black lake, slipping off a broom from an immeasurably high height. Ah, what a tragedy it would be, and dimly Draco cannot help but wonder if anyone would really, truly mourn him.
Would she mourn him?
Of course she wouldn't - he isn't fool enough to convince himself of that. But he is fool enough to think that maybe, just maybe, she might shed a single tear when no one is watching, and that is the thought that stops him in his tracks.
She'll hate him after this. He'll hate himself. But he has to do this, he doesn't have a choice, he never has a choice, and maybe one day she'll understand why, and maybe one day she'll forgive him.
Maybe. His life is now filled with that word, and Draco thinks that it is the only combination of letters in the English language that can give so much hope and cause so much pain all at once.
He comes across her one night, on his way to the room, and the way she looks at him makes him highly aware that she's suspicious. Of course she is - he can't help but worry that Potter said something to her about their little...encounter on the train, but he thinks that if that were the case she would be hexing him before he could say a word.
But her gaze is more curious than angry, her eyes less burning and more probing, and it's a tad unsetteling.
"See something you like, Granger?" he asks with a quirk of his brow as she continues to stare him down, that unwavering gaze of hers fusing into his conciousness once more until he knows it is stuck there for good. "Might I ask what you're doing out of bed at this hour? Wouldn't want to get a detention, now would we?" He phrases it like he's mocking her, but in reality the question is a serious one, and he's shocked when she doesn't respond back with an insult.
"Try spending hours in the same room as the happy couple. Won-Won and Lav-Lav can't keep their hands off of each other - it's gotten to the point where I would gladly take a detention over having to spend another bloody moment with them." And she's so heated, so furious that she's clearly forgotten who she's speaking with, clenching her fists and taking shallow breaths that sound like they're being forced.
"Brown and the Weasel, hey? Well, they're much better suited for each other than you and him." It's said partially out of jealousy and partially because it's the truth, but the fury in Hermione's eyes as they snap back up to him makes it clear she's taking it as an insult instead. "They're both complete and utter twats," he elaborates, as if speaking to a small child, and is rather shocked when she laughs.
It's not a happy laugh - there's a tear in the corner of her eye and she looks like she might be in pain, but he's made her laugh, and it's a better feeling than he could possibly imagine.
Once she's stopped she's looking up at him again, and he allows his lips to quirk into a semblance of a smile - can't let her think that he's changed too much, can't let her believe that he's not evil, can't give her hope - and she returns it, hesitantly, although she looks as if she doesn't even know why she is.
"Why do you do this?" she asks, voice low, and he cocks his head to the side as if he doesn't catch her meaning, even though he does - oh, how he does. "Try and make me feel better. I know that's what you're doing - you did it in fourth year, too, and I thought then that maybe you were just drunk or off your rocker, but this..." Hermione stares at her hands, twined before her, for the first time seemingly lost for words. "Why do you do this?" she repeats, and she sounds so lost that he feels he owes her an answer.
"Because you're far too interesting to be sad," he replies, quite simply, although a moment later he feels he should elaborate, just a bit, just for her. "Because you could do so much more, deserve to do so much more, but with Weasley you can't."
This time it's him that walks away - not because he wants the conversation to end, but because it has to. Because he's scared, scared that he might say too much, and so he leaves her behind without a second glance.
She doesn't call his name. He doesn't look back.
They pretend it never happened.
Once again, he forgets the colour of her eyes.
The grounds of Hogwarts are a graveyard.
People are shouting, but he can't make out the voices. He's caked in dirt and blood, but he doesn't know whose blood it is - what if it's hers where is she I have to find her what if she's out there alone somewhere - and he's surrounded by chaos, curses flying and bodies hitting the floor like flies.
Bodies of people he knows. Bodies of people he went to school with, bodies of people he saw get sorted, bodies of people he likely insulted and belittled throughout his years at school.
Gone, just like that.
But he can't dwell now, can't think about anything, because he has to find her. He saw her, at the beginning - there was dirt on her face and her lip was bleeding, and her façade had broken all at once. Gone was the strong girl, gone was the girl who could look death in the eye without flinching - here was the a little girl who was scared and so, so alone, and he knows that if she dies and he isn't there to save her, he will never forgive himself.
His parents have left, thinking he would be joining them, but Draco has a suspicion that he won't make it out of this battle alive.
And it's okay. As long as it's for her, it's okay.
A scream, and he hears her. A turn of his head, and he sees her, duelling with his aunt, the crazed woman laughing manically and casting killing curse after killing curse, the green light blinding as she narrowly avoids it each time. And all of a sudden it's like the battle has disappeared, and it's just Hermione Granger, and he's halfway to her before he's even aware that his feet have moved.
"Avada kedavra!" he screams, mouth moving of it's own accord, spell hitting the mad woman straight in the back before she's even aware of his presence, and all at once she's dead, and they're seeing each other eye-to-eye for the first time since he 'killed' Dumbledore.
I'm so sorry, he wants to say to her, but Draco knows it will never be enough.
I love you so much, and he thinks of the letter he's scrawled, the one he tucked away in her favourite book, the one he knows she'll find and likely burn, the one in which he says the words he was always too weak to say.
He's so sick of it all - the lying, the double life, the pureblood mentality and the Malfoy name. He's so sick of watching her with someone else, watching her look at them, watching her know them while he'll never know her. He knows what she has to do, what she's always had to do, and he thinks that if he's going to die he want it to be by her hand.
"Please," he whispers, begging, pleading. "Please, before somebody else does. Please."
I'm so sorry.
I just wanted to save you.
I just wanted you to remember me.
He focuses in on her eyes - if he has to choose one last thing to see, he wants it to be them.
I just wanted to know.
He's begging her still, silently now - he needs this. He needs it to be over.
He'll go to Askaban, he'll spend the rest of his life the villain.
He needs this.
And he knows that she understands.
I just wanted to feel you.
He doesn't hear her say the words.
I just wanted you.
He doesn't see the tears fall down her cheeks, and for that he is thankful.
He doesn't feel the curse as it hits them, square in the chest. But he feels his flesh ripping open, vivid memories of the year prior flashing back, of a curse from Potter -sectumsempra - and he knows that this time there will be no one there to heal his wounds. And he is not frightened by this fact.
"Funny, isn't it," he mutters, and despite the noise and the chaos he knows she can hear him. "How I can still love you after you've ripped my body apart."
And people are crying and children are screaming and he's dying, dying, but the only thing he knows are her eyes, and as he falls he falls with a smile on his face, and what an appropriate thing that he should die by her hand when she's been killing him for all these years.
"I write this letter with selfish intentions,
That you might know how you have saved my soul.
When I find myself doing such things, such terrible things
I take comfort in thought of you and I am able to go on.
I don't ask for you to love me,
But shed a tear for me when I'm gone
And I'll know that it was worth everything."
A/N: depressing ending, I know. but I had to do Les Mis proud! XD reviews are always so much apreciated, as is constructive criticism xx