Life Debt

Carpe Diem

~Draco~

Without another word, I walked out of the cupboard. What did I get myself into? I kissed her, albeit forcibly, but I kissed her! What the hell was wrong with me? I did my best to put distance between us, to run away as fast as I could. No matter the distance, however, I knew it would be a lifetime before I could forget the taste of her, the sweetness, the way it felt to have her against me. I didn't even realize the battle had been contained to the lower dungeons. All the Order members who had gone up and into the castle seemed to have escaped safely.

Now I roamed the halls, finger to my lips, where I could still feel hers. She didn't respond, perhaps because I didn't give her the opportunity or because she didn't want to. She didn't even move. Hermione had made no move to push me away or keep me. I was an idiot. This only served to complicate things further. Our connection was irrefutable, though, that was certain. Something shot through the both of us in that moment, stronger than any other time we'd accidentally touched.

By the time I reached the dungeons, Death Eaters were coming up. Slipping on my mask of stoicism, I reported Hermione's escape.

"The Mudblood got away. It seems they had this very thoroughly planned out." It hurt me to call her that, as I knew full well that her blood was anything but muddy. My father was the first to respond, nodding and saying that he would report to the Dark Lord. I was dismissed to go back to my quarters, and I was more than eager to do so. I needed time to think, to reevaluate the situation and come up with an explanation for her.

"Dobby." The elf appeared immediately. "Go back to the broom cupboard. I think she's still in there. Take her home." He nodded and left.

As I walked into the bedroom, I caught my own reflection in the mirror, a glint of red on my lower lip. Her blood, purer than anything I'd ever seen. She would be my undoing, and I knew her taste would be impossible to forget. I wiped it on my sleeve.

~Hermione~

There was no way for me to be sure how long I stood there, staring at the door like a fool. He kissed me and I'd done nothing. I didn't even flinch. The biggest response I gave was my lack thereof. He said he cared. Too much. Those were his exact words. He cared too much and it was a problem. Could you blame me for the tears that formed? Could you blame me for letting them fall freely? I slid down the wall, hugging myself, forehead against my knees.

In that moment, it was painfully easy to imagine that I was still at school, having snogged in the broom cupboard and then been rejected. I couldn't help but bring my fingers back up to my lips, to feel how swollen they were, to feel the remnants of the angry kiss. Angry, passionate, hungry, the list went on. I would have given anything to have it back. I wasn't aware of his fading footsteps until I could hear them anymore. Everything was utter silence, but I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to get up, to return to the fight anymore.

He had succeeded in getting me to back down by kissing me. Maybe his only aim had been to shock me into submission. Maybe he didn't care romantically. So many reasons were running through my mind, anything to keep my feelings at bay. I couldn't let that happen. We were nothing more than allies, we couldn't be anything but. A shuddering sigh escaped me, and I berated myself for acting like a pouting teenager. A loud crack in the enclosed space brought me out of my musings.

"Miss Hermione…" I looked up to meet Dobby's wide eyes, curiously peering into my own.

"Yes, Dobby?"

"The fighting is over. Master Malfoy says to take you back…" He offered me his small hand, a sad smile on his face. It was obvious I was upset, so I straightened myself out and cleared my eyes before leaving. I was back in my room in a second, Dobby leaving without saying much. I lay back on the bed, not even realizing that I hadn't come back to an empty room.

"Hermione! Are you ok?" Ginny was every bit the worried mother. I wanted to smile at her concern, but moving my mouth would only remind me of what had happened less than twenty minutes before. I simply closed my eyes, groaning at the light coming through the window. "Harry! I think Hermione's hurt!"

That was all the cue the rest of the house needed, apparently. At least three sets of feet thundered up the steps, Harry being the first one through the door. I draped my arm over my eyes.

"I'm fine." I felt a weight beside me on the bed. It wasn't Harry, though. I didn't really recognize the had on my arm.

"'Mione, we were worried. When we got back and you weren't here, we assumed the worst." Tonks' voice was uncharacteristically worried, I moved my arm away and saw something akin to a knowing glint in her eye.

"When the Death Eaters realized we were there I was one of the few that scattered up into the castle. I made my way to the Room of Requirement to hide. I sent the girl ahead with Dobby and then waited out until I could escape. Dobby came back for me." I sounded like a coward. For all I had fought against Malfoy about cowardice, he still got what he wanted.

Harry was satisfied with my answer and left, mumbling something about treating the hostages. Ron followed out after him, as did Ginny. Tonks was the only one that stayed.

"Now that they're gone, tell me what really happened…" Tonks rose an eyebrow, looking at me skeptically. "They're too distracted to notice anything amiss, but I know kiss-swollen lips when I see them…" I groaned, turning my back to her and closing my eyes again. Without think I let my hand wander up to my lips again.

"I didn't lie…I was hiding with the little girl in the Room of Requirement, which, for our purposes, had turned itself into a broom cupboard. He found me and called Dobby to bring me and the little girl back. I only sent the girl. I wanted to stay and fight, We argued, he tried to stop me, and in the process he kissed me." My voice broke on the word kiss. I fought against the urge to cry.

"Hermione…" The concern was crystal clear in her voice.

"I know. I was stupid, I shouldn't have allowed it, and if the others find out, they'll disown me…I'm fine. I'll deal with it." I felt her weight lift from the mattress, and I expected to hear the door shut. Instead, she moved around the bed to crouch down so we would be eye-level.

"No, you're not fine. This clearly affected you, 'Mione, and whether you like it or not, something stirred in you when he kissed you. Take it from someone who can change at will, it's written all over your face. They may not see it, but I do, and I'm sure he will too." She shot me a bright smile. "Don't worry! It will work itself out."

And with that she left, leaving me to wonder about what she'd said.

~Draco~

The searing pain was more than I thought I could handle. Clearly, I'd underestimated myself. Bent over before Voldemort, feeling the full force of his Crucio should have been more than I could bear. Every inch of my skin burned, my body writing, convulsing. I thought my father's Crucios were bad. I was clearly mistaken. I couldn't even hear his questions through my pain, my own screams. I knew he thought I was a traitor, he thought we were all traitors.

Almost immediately after I'd sent Dobby to recover Hermione, we were all summoned to the Dark Lord, who awaited us in the Great Hall. There, he was ready to torture each an every one of us for letting his prisoners escape. The Order had been completely successful, even in keeping the elves a secret. Voldemort was losing his already shaky mind, and his paranoia was worsening. It would be the death of him.

He kept his eyes trained on me as the pain ran its course through me. Somehow, the power of his gaze froze my eyes open, and I couldn't even blink. We maintained total eye contact, and I thought he would find my memory of kissing her. I tried to wipe my mind clean, tried to keep her hidden away. I would have given anything to hold her again, and I hated myself for letting our only kiss happen the way it did. I was sure I would die, and, even though she was all I could think about, I still managed to keep her hidden from him. Aunt Bella's Occlumency lessons had done wonders.

When he finally stopped the curse, he looked frustrated. My being alive was proof that he'd found nothing. With a wave of his arm he flung me aside. It was only now that I noticed Crucio wasn't the only thing he'd cast on me. Blood marred my white shirt. I hadn't even registered that pain until after the Crucio was done. No one was allowed to touch me, as he had done with all the others he'd tortured. I was surprised that I had not been the first one up for testing. He'd gone through at least fifteen other men before me, Zabini included.

I walked out of the hall, eager to tend to my wounds before I bled out. It was a miracle I made it to my room, even more so that Dobby came back in time to see me collapse onto my bed and black out.

~Hermione~

"Miss Hermione!" Dobby's voice shook me from what I assumed must have been a catnap. I shot upright, the worry in his voice causing a panic within me.

"What is it, Dobby, what happened?"

"Master Draco, Miss Hermione! He is hurt and bleeding and-" I didn't even let him finished the sentence. Grabbing the cloak he gave me, I responded. Maybe him caring too much was a problem, but my feelings for him weren't, whatever they were.

"Take me to him. Hurry!" In less than a blink of an eye, I was beside him, my heart constricting at the sight of his bloodied shirt. "Who did this too him?"

~Draco~

I woke up to the sensation of a warm towel lightly brushing my forehead. I didn't want to open my eyes, afraid that the sensation was merely a dream, and that her small hand wasn't resting inside mine. I couldn't resist, though. I had to see her, had to explain, even though I wasn't quite sure what there was to explain.

She didn't notice when I opened my eyes, and that gave me a small chance to watch her. She leaned over me slightly, and I could almost feel her breathing on me. My cuts were healed, but I was still sore. When she leaned back a bit, she realized I was awake and jumped, immediately removing her hand from mine. It did nothing to improve my mood.

"D-Draco, how are you feeling?" Her eyes were puffy, and I could tell she'd been crying.

"Peachy." She didn't deserve me giving her an attitude. If anything, she shouldn't even care enough to be helping me. I was the one who practically violated her and she was nothing but wonderful to me.

"O-Oh… ok…" She got up, and I wanted to kick myself for being an idiot.

"W-Wait. Don't. I didn't mean it like that." I tried to sit up, wincing in the process. She immediately rushed back to my side and tried to keep me down.

"Draco, give your wounds time to heal completely. I've never been to great at healing spells. I did a mediocre job at best. You need to take it easy."

"Hermione, you are never anything less than brilliant." I'm not quite sure where the compliment came from, but what was stranger still was the look of frustration she gave me. She sat back in her chair, keeping away from me. My confused look said it all.

"Make up your mind, Malfoy. Before you were so angry I thought you were going to kill me, then you say you caring about me is a problem, and now you're complimenting me? Well which is it?" I didn't fail to notice that she didn't include the kiss.

"You don't understand, Granger. It's not that simple."

"Then enlighten me!" She threw her hands up in frustration and got up, facing away from me. My pain all but forgotten, I got up. I needed to at least attempt to sort this out. I couldn't help it, I had to reach out to her, take her hand, touch her, do something to keep her from leaving. "I'm sick of not understanding…"

"You can't always know everything." She turned around, facing me again. A single tear slid down her cheek. Had I really hurt her that badly? Did the kiss mean that much to her?

"How did you get hurt this badly? You were fine when you left…" She trailed off, and I didn't really mind the change in subject.

"His paranoia increases by the second. He tortured a good lot of us, trying to pry information." Her eyes widened in fear. "Don't worry. He didn't get anything out of me." Something hit me, then, at the look she gave me. Her face was all I could focus on through the pain, all I had wanted to see. Without a second though, I pulled her to me, not caring that the pressure hurt the wounds. I buried my face in her hair, taking in her presence, never wanting to let go.

~Hermione~

He could pull me to him like that a hundred times over, and it would never cease to catch me off guard. I knew the pressure my body made against his was hurting him, but I couldn't bring myself to make him let go. I just wanted to stay like that, to feel his breath against my neck the way it was. I shivered at the sensations he caused. My arms slid around his waist, gingerly holding him. I was terrified he would come to his senses and push me away again, just like before.

We could have stayed like that for years and it would only seem like seconds to me. I couldn't help the need to hold him, the inexplicable feelings that raged inside me when it came to him. He sighed against my skin, making me shiver again. He chuckled, shaking us both slightly. He began to pull back, slowly, and I was grateful for the few extra seconds in his arms. Our eyes locked for less then a second, and then his hand was cupping my cheek, his mouth lowering towards mine.

This kiss was every bit the fairytale. My eyes fluttered closed the second our lips met. He held me to him even tighter than the first time, and I couldn't help the way I melted against him, how I sighed and let him deepen the kiss. I slid my hands between us and let my arms go up and around his neck. His hand began to run through my hair, pulling me even closer, if it were possible. The passion from before was still there, and the kiss became needy, on both our parts.

Suddenly, his kisses became feather light, barely touching my lips, and then roaming my face. He kissed away tears I hadn't realized were falling again. He hovered above my lips again.

"Don't…stop." We were both breathing heavily.

"Hermione…you know we can't do this…I…" Pain was clear, and I felt my chest constrict at the sound of his voice.

"Then just…savor the moment. Please. Just for tonight." I hated the sound of begging in my voice, but I wanted-no-needed him to hold me. His arms around me tightened, and he reclaimed my lips with his. This was beyond dangerous. We were both in enemy territory, risking everything simply for a moment together like this.

Before I knew it, we were lying together, as I snuggled into his embrace. Just a few moments longer, that's all I wanted. His exhaustion would claim him soon, and then I would disappear, only to come back as strictly an ally. Until then, I could relish in the feel of his arms encasing me, his lips against me.

~Draco~

This witch would be the death of me, but I didn't care. If I could hold onto her just a little while longer, I would be ok. I could feel my wounds begin to take their toll, consciousness slowly slipping away. The next time we met, I wouldn't be able to touch her. I needed to fall asleep with her in my arms, lips against her skin.

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