Draco awoke again from another nightmare.
He breathed in, trying to steady his pulse. In. Out. Sweat trickled from underneath his clothes, trailing down from his back. His hands were shaking.
That must have been such a dream but he couldn't remember what it was about.
Draco looked back down at the bed, worried if he woke up the woman beside him. Grateful that at least one of them was getting a good night's sleep, he sighed in relief.
Taking in another breath, Draco walked out of the room towards the kitchen.
On the kitchen counter sat a picture frame with a picture of her and Draco on one of the dates she took him to, at the early stages of their relationship. It was just outside wizarding London, Draco very much hesitant to travel so far but he found himself having fun, and loving her company. Loving her.
He knew fairly early that he was in love with her, though he never voiced it out until she told him that she loved him too. Draco was afraid that when he admitted his feelings, admitted his vulnerability, she'd see how weak he really was behind the walls he built around himself.
But it was in his vulnerability when she told him she loved him too.
It started with a party. Draco honestly didn't know why he bothered to attend the gathering honoring everyone who fought valiantly in the war. Harry Potter insisted he go, not even subtle in the way he bothered Draco, and coerced him to go.
"You won us this war as much as I did, Malfoy. If you didn't throw me your wand then, we'd never be here." Who would've thought a little act of kindness would cause Harry Potter to think of him as a formidable ally. But Draco didn't regret it. He regretted though that it took him until the last minute before he changed sides.
He did so many regrettable things before then.
No matter how many little acts of kindness he did, he'd still be forever guilty of every little thing he did.
It keeps him up at night and keeps him scared in the mornings. The regrets always haunting him wherever he went.
In the middle of the party, he found himself sporting a headache. Draco hated those splitting headaches because it would always remind him of memories, memories of the war.
Draco tried to subtly leave the party wanting to get home before he gets attacked by another memory that would quite literally bring him to his knees. It always felt like someone was out to get him, that this was his punishment. There was always the voice at the back of his head that agreed to the notion, whispering to him saying that he doesn't deserve this redemption he got.
Draco knew he didn't deserve it, still seeing all the blood permanently staining his mind no matter how many times he tried to wipe it away. It haunted him every day, and he always felt physically weak every time the memories got forced to be recalled. He always wondered if this was how all those people he tortured felt, but he knew it wasn't -- they’ve endured worse.
This is nothing to what they felt. The voice in his head keeps saying, so he accepted the headache, the weak knees, and the well-deserved pain because he knew this was nothing compared to what they felt.
"Draco?" The sound of his name with her voice washed unknowing guilt over him. Here was another unsuspecting victim of his madness. And then came another headache.
He doubled over, clutching the railings in front of him.
"Are you alright?" her voice again.
"Sod off, Granger," he said in a harsh whisper, the pain in his head somehow abating.
"I only wanted to help," she said, placing a glass of liquid beside him. "If I can't help, maybe a drink would," she added, starting to walk out on him.
"Is this butterbeer?" Draco asked in confusion, and a little doubtful that Hermione Granger wasn't trying to kill him.
"It's apple juice actually," Hermione said, adding a small chuckle at the end of her sentence. Draco felt something hearing her laughter, not a headache this time, but something oddly comforting.
He didn't know if he liked that feeling.
"I actually just refilled my glass when I saw you, and well," she stopped, weighing her words, "I thought you might need a drink." she continued.
Draco just stared at her and then nodded accepting her explanation and the drink, finally getting assured that she didn't plan to kill him knowing that the glass was supposed to be hers. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, though he wondered why that mattered to him, he downed the contents of the glass.
"I'm sorry" suddenly Draco said. Hermione looked dejected, Draco didn't know why.
"I thought ' thank you' would be more appropriate," Hermione explained.
"No." Draco started, "I meant for snapping at you earlier. I had a bad headache." Draco explained. "But thank you, for the apple juice." that was a sentence he never thought he'd say to her. She smiled at how atrocious the whole situation was, hearing Draco Malfoy thank her for apple juice.
"You're welcome. Though I don't think apple juice really constitutes for medicine," she said guiltily. "Does your head still hurt? I can get you some healing potion," she asked. Surprisingly, it didn't.
Draco tried to repeat the small interaction, wondering where in their little conversation did his head stop throbbing. Maybe the apple juice did help, he chuckled to himself.
Or maybe it was her oddly comforting laughter.
Nevertheless, Hermione Granger proved to be helpful.
"It doesn't anymore." Draco just answered. Hermione stared at him for a while more, studying him seeing if he was lying. Accepting that he was sincere, Hermione plucked his empty glass and Draco plucked the courage to engage in more conversation, to make her stay.
They stayed like that for the rest of the night, with talks of green fields, and butterflies, and apple juice flitting between them.
Draco didn't have a headache or a nightmare again that night.
It continued with a fight, at Hermione's flat. They had been seeing quite a lot of each other ever since that first night at the party, Draco loving her company.
They just arrived at Hermione's flat after spending the early hours of the night at one of Narcissa Malfoy's charity events. It had started off as a nice night until he found himself clutching his head again in pain.
Merlin, these stupid headaches . He thought angrily.
"Draco," she started. That voice. She sounded so worried, so sincerely worried about, so scarily caring about him and it just caused him immense pain in his head again because he didn't deserve it. He didn't deserve her.
Draco could attribute so much of his regrets to her. He called her names, hexed her, watched her get tortured. He hurt her so much and yet here she was, staying.
"Draco, talk to me." Hermione's voice was comforting. Draco shook his head, finding his knees buckling underneath him. He fell to the ground, Hermione following after him.
Draco looked at her, and she looked so scared. As if his state is scaring her , that his pain is scaring her .
He didn't deserve her.
"Do you need anything?" She was kneeling in front of him, holding his hands in hers, unbeknownst to him. Her hands were soft. Her hands felt light in his, yet gave off a heavy feeling, grounding him, anchoring him.
The pain in his head continued,
"Apple juice." he joked when he felt the throbbing in his head ebb away. He shifted so he could sit more comfortably on the floor.
"Stop joking," Hermione said. "Is there really nothing I can do?" Hermione repeated. Draco sighed.
"Leave?" He tried. Hermione only chuckled. "You do know this is my place we're at."
Draco shook his head as if saying that wasn't what he wanted to say. "I meant leave me." he clarified.
"I'm not leaving you until you give me a reason to."
"I'm giving you one now."
"I don't see any."
"Hermione!" Draco pleaded.
"Draco," Hermione said.
"I'm broken, Hermione." And he broke. Tears flowed down like a waterfall. Draco can't even remember the last time he cried, but doing so now felt comforting. It felt uplifting to release everything. Then he remembered who he was with and felt embarrassed. He looked away.
Hermione positioned herself in front of him, taking him into her arms making sure he knows she was there.
"You're not the only one, Draco," Hermione said as comfort. "We've all done things during the war we wish we didn't. We're all broken."
Draco shook his head again, trying not to listen.
Trying not to be persuaded to think that what he did was just out of necessity.
"I'm not good," Draco admitted. "I'm imperfect. I'm not lovable."
"You're really not giving me a reason to leave." Hermione insisted.
Frustrated at her stubbornness, Draco grunted.
"Merlin Granger, what do you want to hear?" Draco demanded. "No one stays for someone like me! No one stays with someone so tainted." Draco was running out of things to say to make her leave.
"Then let me be the first, Draco ."
There was always something about the way Hermione said his name that made Draco concede.
Made him listen.
"I know it's not ideal. I know you don't want me to see you like this but Draco this is you. Your imperfections make you." Hermione placed her arms on both sides of his face to keep him from looking away.
"And as much as you want me to leave, I won't." she stared at his eyes, his grey-blues filled with tears and there was only one thing that Hermione thought.
She wanted to be there for him, to protect him, and to be there the day he overcomes his fears.
"Draco let me love these imperfections of yours. Let me love all the memories that keep you up at night. Let me, someday, be part of those memories that will wipe away the bad ones. Let me love you until you no longer let your fears win against you."
Hermione wiped the tears away from Draco's eyes. She kissed his forehead, the space between his eyes, the tip of his nose.
"Let me love you, Draco. All of you," she said, before kissing him.
And Draco kissed her back.
Draco kissed her allowing her to know him, allowing her to be part of his life, allowing her to love him.
Because Draco wanted to love her too, every little bit of her.
"How oddly romantic we are, sitting down on your living room floor." Draco said when they broke away from each other. Though they stayed close, as if distance wasn't something they can fathom. Hermione just smiled, keeping her forehead safely resting on his.
"Does your head still hurt?" Hermione asked.
"Only a little," Draco answered.
"Let's get you that apple juice then," Hermione said, readying herself to stand up but Draco held her to keep her from doing so. "Later. I like sitting here like this with you." Draco explained and Hermione nodded, making herself more comfortable with his arms around her.
This is where they ended up.
Three years later. Hermione still insisting on not leaving. He'd still get nightmares, still losing to his fears but Hermione stayed, reminding him of all that she promised him all those years ago. She stayed loving all his imperfections. Loving him.
He leaned onto the kitchen counter letting his head calm down so the pain would ebb away. Draco looked around him, at the picture frames that decorated the walls, the books that little all of the tables, and occupied all of their shelves. He stared at their place, the place they both picked out. The place where they promised each other a new beginning for both of them.
He looked at the gold band, safely resting on his left ring finger, still thinking that he didn't deserve her, but she loved him enough to make him believe that he did.
And Hermione made sure that Draco knew that she loved him. Every little thing she did, every word she said was always laced with the reason of why she was staying.
Hermione continued to stay, stubbornly so, because she loved him. All of him, and every little bit about him.
Hermione loved Draco, and everything that Draco has to offer -- the good and the bad.
And Draco found himself loving that she loved him.
He found it difficult to love someone. Draco always knew that you can never love someone completely if you haven't received a love worth returning. Growing up, Draco always felt unlovable but with Hermione..... merlin, with Hermione, loving her just seemed so easy.
In his quiet musings, he didn't hear someone creep up behind him until he felt their hands wrapped around his waist.
Hermione rested her forehead on his back. "Can't sleep again?" she whispered. Draco just nodded.
"I'm yours, Draco. I'll always be yours." She said. Draco turned around and faced her, enveloping his face between his hands and leaning in to kiss her.
He kissed her to tell her how grateful he was for her.
He kissed her to let her know how thankful he was for her staying.
He kissed her to tell her he loved her and would love her as long as he was allowed to.
As long as he can.
Hermione broke the kiss and smiled up at him. She took his hands in hers and led her away from the kitchen.
"Come on, let's go to bed."
If you're not in the right mood to sleep now then,
Come take my arms and go "I'll be yours for sure."
- Square, Yerin Baek
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