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By dauntlesslydemigod

Drama / Romance

Always have, Always will.

Hermione looked through her room again, and gave a sigh of defeat. Since the past two hours, she had been looking for her wand, but it seemed to have vanished from the face of this Earth.
Plopping down heavily on the couch, she considered her options; which were none. She was about to dash it all and go to sleep when she saw the tiny gold locket on her desk.
A gift from Draco.
“Of course.” She gave a small sigh of relief when she realized that she had left the wand at his house when she had gone to help him with his room in his new house.
 Just his name brought a small smile on her face and a dark flush on her neck and cheeks; accepting her old nemesis as her almost boyfriend was still new to her.
But if there was one thing she was sure of, it was that somewhere along the way, she had fallen headfirst in love with him.
The smile was still on her lips as she walked in the wall of fire to Draco’s house.

“Draco?” She called out, her eyes adjusting to the darkness in the manor.  The building was in complete darkness, and Hermione’s heart gave a small skip of fear. “Draco? You there?” Her voice echoed in the emptiness and she shivered. The war was over, but she lived it every night. She heard the screams, felt the pain, the fear. When Ron broke up with her saying that perhaps they were not meant for each other, Hermione had been broken. She felt as if a part of her had died within, and nothing could cure it. She had loved Ron; for everything he was with everything she had. Harry had tried to help at first, but Ron made him stop. When the only people whom she could have called hers deserted her, Hermione was sure that her life was over. But then, help had come in the most unexpected form: Draco.

They had met accidently at a coffee shop, and after the initial awkwardness, they realized that they both needed each other. Hermione, because everyone had left her, and Draco because he had no one. As they started to meet each other more often, they felt a bud of friendship slowly blooming between them. Slowly but surely, Draco started to open up to her; he told her his fears, his weaknesses. As his life opened up in front of Hermione, she realized that Draco had fought wars of his own since much earlier. He had not changed, she realized. He had always been the same. But the hate that he faced had made him put on a mask, and become the Malfoy that she had hated at school.
And then one day, when he had confessed that he had a crush on her since the second year, Hermione’s shock had known no bounds. There was something about the way he had told her; she had seen vulnerability in his eyes that made her cheeks burn as she thought about how she had treated him at school. In turn, she confessed that she had started to like him now; the new Draco.

But as the days passed, she realized that she didn’t just like him.
She had fallen in love with him.

After hours of a mental debate with herself, she had decided not to say anything. She didn’t want to break the bond that had struck between them, even if that meant that she kept her love to herself. But now, not seeing him, her heart started to beat faster as possibilities of Draco in danger started to pop in her head; her footsteps echoed on the hard floor as she went to his room.
She threw the door open, her heart thudding loudly in her chest, her breath fastening. He was not there.
“DRACO!” Her voice broke as she ran around the manor, looking for him, her eyes bright with unshed tears of fear. “Please, Draco. You’re scaring me.” She cried, and suddenly stopped. Her sharp ears registered the sound of running water somewhere nearby, and she scrambled to his room again.
Her chest heaving, she ran to the bathroom and pushed the door open, gasping at what she saw.

He was sitting on the floor, the shower running above him. His pale hair were pasted to his forehead and his eyes looked dead, but she saw the fear behind the lifelessness. He looked at her, and she had to stop herself from crying out aloud.
He looked so lost, so vulnerable; she had never seen him like this before. He looked like a unicorn which had been pushed on the streets, lost and scared. There were a thousand things which she wanted to do, to tell him. But she stood still, suddenly unsure about what to do.
She, Hermione Granger, for once in life was clueless.

He whispered softly, and she felt a tear trace her cheek. Uncertainly, she walked over to him, wincing as the cold water hit her. She squatted down on the floor next to him and gently stroked the wet hair out of his eyes.
“Yeah, it’s me, Draco. Come on, let’s get you out of here.” Her voice shook, but she couldn’t help it. He shook his head as if in a dream and turned his fevered eyes to her.
“ I can’t, Hermione. It’s not coming off. I keep trying and trying, but it won’t leave me. It just won’t.” He sounded desperate, and all she wanted to do was hold him forever and not let him go.
“Hey, hey. Shh – it’s fine, okay?” He shivered, and she held his face and turned him towards her. “Look at me.  What happened, Draco?” His eyes widened as he started trembling all over. From the cold or fear, she couldn’t tell.
He raised his left hand a bit, and Hermione gave a gasp of horror. His black shirt had hid the crimson blot, but the blood had started to drip on the floor now.
“ Draco? How – What did you do?” She stammered as she pulled him up and made him stand. He barely could and she supported him to the bed, making him sit. She sat close to him, their thighs touching.
“Can I see it?” She looked at him and his eyes clearly sent out only once message: fear.
“Don’t, Hermione. You’ll run away. I don’t want to you to leave me as well, please.” His eyes were wide and scared, and this time Hermione couldn’t stop herself.
She slipped her arms around him and wrapped herself around him in a tight embrace. She felt him stiffen for a moment before slowly relaxing to her touch. Hesitantly, he touched her face with his fingertips as if she was made of glass. She touched his face and he buried his face in her hair. “I’ll never leave you,  get that?” She murmured, and felt his chest vibrate with a choked sob. “Promise?”
She stroked his soft locks. “Promise.”

Her fingers trembling, she rolled up the drenched sleeve.
On his arm, dark jagged lines surrounded the death mark.  Blood seeped out of them like rain from angry clouds. There were many scars around it, but the new one were created just a few minutes back, The blood ran down his arm and droplets spread on his sheet.
“Oh my god.” She gasped, her eyes welling up with tears.  No wonder she had never seen him without a full sleeved shirt. She looked up at him and he looked away, not meeting her eyes.
“Draco … Why?” She gently touched his cheek. “It’s over now. You’re not a death eater anymore, you’re not who you were.”  He turned his head away again.
“No. Look at me.” She took his face in both her hands and made him look at her. “Tell me, Draco. Please.”

He looked at her long and hard, and took her hand in his own. Holding it with one hand, he pushed up the soft fabric of her sleeve. Not breaking their eyes contact, he ran a soft hand over the scars on her forearm. Sure enough, she winced as his rough fingers ran over the words ‘mudblood’ cut on her forearm.

“See?” He said softly, his voice defeated. “They don’t ever leave us.”
“That day, I could’ve stopped Aunt Bellatrix. I could’ve told her something, I could’ve fought her.” He spoke in an anguished whisper, his hand tracing her scars. “But I didn’t.” He took  a long, ragged breath. “I didn’t. I watched her treat you like an animal, Hermione. I watched you bleed, scream, cry. But I couldn’t do anything. Nothing at all.”
A tear dropped from his lashes on to his cheek. Pain was etched on his face, on all his features.
Hermione stared at him for a long time, not being able to form coherent sentences. He continued. “This mark is who I am.  You’re – you’re so beautiful, Hermione.” He let out a deep breath, his eyes hooded. “Your eyes, your smile; they make me want to forget everything else. Make me almost want to believe that maybe, someday, I’ll be worthy of them. But I’m not. And I never will be.” Almost unconsciously, he slightly shifted away from her. “This mark – it is everything that I was, probably still am. And I want to get rid of it. But it won’t leave me.” His chest rose and fell as his breath quickened.

Hermione was looking at his hands, her gaze dark.  She took it in her lap and using her wand, gently sealed each one of the cuts. He let out a humorless laugh.  But what she did next made his mind go mushy.
He had expected her to get repelled by the mark, the scars. He had not shown it to her since now, and it was almost clear in his mind that she is going to run away. He knew it. But she didn’t.
Raising his hand to meet her face, she pressed her lips to the mark. He recoiled in shock, but she didn’t let go. She pressed a soft, gentle kiss on each of the scars that covered his arm. He felt his skin burn, but it was like a fire was consuming the pain of his past and leaving behind a pure, clean Draco.
 He just stared at her, his mind in a whirl.
“There was a boy whom I once knew. He was Malfoy; the death eater, the coward, the brat.” She said, her eyes bright with tears. “He teased me and my friends; and basically was a pain in the ass.” He looked at her, speechless.
“But there is another guy whom I – care for.”The words had almost left her lips, and she had bit them back just in time. “He’s Draco. He’s loving, he’s caring, he is mine.”

Shifting closer, she gently pressed her lips to his.
The kiss was soft, tentative, but it spoke everything. It spoke of Draco’s fear, his hesitation, his hate for himself.
But is also spoke of Hermione’s faith in him. That he was someone worth loving.

She made him lie on the bed, and tucked the blanket around him like a little kid.  He looked at her the whole time, a look that made her cheeks burn.
She pressed her lips to his forehead, and he smiled. A real smile, a smile of hope.

“I love you.”

She stopped dead in her tracks, not believing her ears. She turned, and Draco almost laughed at the astonishment in her eyes.
“I love you, Hermione Granger.” He got out of his bed and walked up to her, his thumb gently tracing her cheekbone. “You’re the light that keeps me away from the darkness. Perhaps I’m not worthy of loving you, but I can’t help it. I love you. Always have, always will.”
Hermione stood on her tiptoes and kissed him, long and hard.
He smiled through the kiss. “Is that a yes?”
“It always will be, Draco. Always.”

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