Playing with Fire

Chapter 38: Not even the Dark Lord

Song: Exist for Love - AURORA

Draco arrived at the manor dripping with sweat struggling to breathe. I just murdered someone. I just killed someone. Luna Lovegood. Who wouldn’t hurt a fly. I did that.

The words she spoke to him before the spell struck her did nothing to ease his panic. His regret. His shame. He was utterly disgusted with himself.

Draco could tell himself all day that he hadn’t had a choice, but deep down he couldn’t believe that for himself. It’s all my fault.

He had only killed a few other people before this, no one he recognized, and all in self defense. But this was different. He killed Luna for the Dark Lord.

I killed Luna.

It no longer mattered that he slipped her food while she was down in the dungeons all those months. Because now she was gone. All for nothing. A small show of humanity couldn’t compare to killing someone. Now there were two more names to add to his list.

As soon as he shut his door he couldn’t hold it in anymore. He rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands roughly, trying to stop the tears. His mother would be ashamed, but she was dead too. Apparently all he did these days was get women killed or kill them himself.

What if I get Granger hurt?

But then a morbid thought crossed his mind. If the Dark Lord plans to hurt her, there’s nothing I can do about it. Not a thing. What if he asks me to kill her myself?

He sobbed quietly, still making an effort to hold it in. His chest shook and his heart ached. He felt nauseous. He slid down against his bedroom door until he was sitting, pulling his knees up and resting his head between them.

Who am I to take a life? I didn’t have a choice. It was her life or mine.

Draco strongly believed that Luna’s life was worth more, but the logical part of his brain knew that it was either her life or both of theirs. If he killed her, she’d die. If he didn’t, they’d both die. She seemed to know that too. But again, this did nothing to ease his distress.

After a few more moments of trying to catch his breath, he begrudgingly climbed off of the floor, wiping under his eyes aggressively until the delicate skin under them was raw.

He turned the shower on, took his clothes, and sat down in it, letting the water run over his head, steam filling the room until the air was almost hard to breathe.

I have to stop caring. It wasn’t the first, it won’t be the last. I don’t have a choice. I can’t let things like this phase me.

Draco repeated these thoughts to himself over and over again until he believed them, or at least convinced himself there was truth in them.

Despite it all, something told him that if it ever came down to it, he wouldn’t be able to hurt Granger.

~~~

Throughout the night Draco tossed and turned, barely getting any sleep at all. The one time he did fall asleep, he jumped awake to find himself drenched in sweat after numerous nightmares.

He walked to his balcony where moonlight streamed in through the window. Although he was only in his boxers, he opened the glass doors and stood in the freezing cold. Cold wind whipped at his face, turning his nose red, but he enjoyed it.

He enjoyed having a pain to distract from the deeper kind that burdened him.

Eventually, when his fingers would barely move, he closed the balcony doors and climbed back into bed, just to stare at the ceiling until the sun came up.

~~~

Although it was Saturday and Draco wasn’t required to work, he decided to do so anyway. He couldn’t sit with his isolated thoughts any longer.

He showered again quickly, put on a pair of underwear that hadn’t been sweat-through, and dressed in his typical work attire - a black button down, dress pants, and dress-shoes.

Draco spent hours in his study, going through page after page of Ministry work. But his thoughts stirred with something new.

She wasn’t here. It was a Saturday, but he was used to her being there while he worked. Missed her even. It was as if even the cells in his body could feel her absence there, and it prevented him from truly getting anything done.

He paced the study, ran his fingers through his hair over and over again.

Maybe I should go tell her why I was gone yesterday. No, I can’t, and why would I? How do I know she even showed up? I could knock on the door and invite her to join me. No, what the fuck? Why would I do that? Well...no. Definitely not. ABSOLUTELY not. Salazar I’m going insane.

Draco spent more time the entire day thinking of his mother, killing Luna, and Granger’s absence than doing the actual work he even went to his study to do.

He glanced at the clock when he saw it was dark outside and realized it was already 7:58pm. Fuck. I don’t even want to eat.

He rolled his shirt sleeves up to his elbows and marched angrily down the stairs. Just more bloody formalities with Father, and for what?

Draco pushed the doors open harder than was necessary and marched towards his usual seat to the left of his Father at the far end of the table. His thoughts were practically yelling in his ears. Mother, Luna, Granger.

He pulled his chair out, the legs of it scraping loudly against the floor, and sat down, just then noticing a pair of delicate hands resting on the table across from him.

Draco looked up to see none other than Granger herself. Physically, he felt relieved. Until he saw what she was wearing. His stare made her face turn red but he didn’t care. She was wearing his mother’s dress for Merlin’s sake.

And on top of that, what was she even doing here? She looked just as shocked to see him as he was.

“Draco”, his father greeted him.

“What are you wearing?“, Draco said, ignoring his father’s greeting, his focus still on her. He felt like he was going to explode. It was all too much.

Granger stared blankly at him in confusion. Are you fucking deaf?

“What the fuck are you wearing Granger?“, he shouted this time, rising from his seat loudly.

“There’s no need for it to go to waste, Draco”, his father said in a calm but stern voice, “sit down, dinner is almost ready.” Go to WASTE? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

“Go to waste?“, Hermione asked in a shaky but curious voice. For fuck’s sake she doesn’t even know? How did she even...?

“Although I can’t see for myself, I’m sure it looks lovely on you”, Lucius said to Granger before turning back to his son. “What do you think, Draco?”

Draco’s eyes shot back to her. How dare she. Merlin...Granger looks...beautiful.

His gaze flickered from hateful, to heated, to hateful once again.

“Why the bloody hell-“, Draco paused, “did you tell her to wear it?“, he asked his father.

“I gave it to her, sit down Draco”, Lucius answered, with more frustration in his voice this time.

“I really didn’t mean to upset any-“, Hermione began before Draco cut her off. Always “too good to do anything wrong” with this one. Well if he won’t tell her then I will.

“That’s my mother’s dress”, Draco stated. Granger went ghostly pale, looking as if she may pass out.

“Oh my God. I’m so sorry...I’m so sorry..I don’t...“, she stuttered. She looked completely panicked and unsure of what to do or say next. Yes, Granger. Surprise, you CAN fuck up. You’re not better than everyone else.

She swiftly scooted her chair back, pulling the hem of the dress up, and sprinted towards the doors without another word.

Her footsteps echoed loudly until she was up the stairs and out of earshot. Beautiful...

The way that color looked against her skin, her curls cascading down, the warm color of her lips, her amber eyes shining in the candlelight. He was irrationally angry, but even after she was gone, all he could see was her...

I fucked up.

“It did”, he choked out finally.

His father raised an eyebrow in question “Look lovely on her. It did...“, he clarified.

A shit-eating grin grew across his father’s face. “I taught you better manners than you just showed towards a woman”, he told him.

Draco bit into his cheek. His father was right, and he hated it.

“Fuck!“, he finally shouted, pushing his chair out to run after her.

Draco slowed as he reached her door, hesitating before knocking. Nothing. He knocked again, and this time heard a pair of light footsteps growing closer on the other side before the door was slung open.

Fresh tears still lay on her flushed cheeks. I did that. I did that to her. I hurt her. He felt sick to his stomach all over again.

He took a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak but she beat him to it.

“I’m so sorry Malfoy I...I had no idea I swear! I’m so so-“, she stopped when he wrapped his long fingers around her hand. His entire body buzzed from the contact in a way he couldn’t quite comprehend.

“Granger”, he said, “don’t-“, she cut him off.

“No Malfoy, listen, I didn’t have anything nice to wear when Lucius invited me to have dinner tonight and this was brought to my room I swear I didn’t-“, she started again but he held a finger to her lips instinctively, shushing her calmingly.

“I said don’t. I didn’t mean to yell at you earlier, it’s not your fault”, he said regretfully. Hand still holding hers delicately, as if it would fall apart in his own.

She stared at him, eyes wide and glistening with her tears. How could I do this to her?

And she was still beautiful, even this way.

“You look lovely”, he told her when she didn’t respond. “My father was right, it shouldn’t go to waste. She’ll never get to wear it again - someone deserving of it should.”

Her pupils widened. Even he couldn’t believe the words coming out of his mouth, but he meant them.

“I...still feel terrible. I just want to take it off and return it...I tried but...“, her eyes went to the ground when she paused, before meeting his once again. “The zipper is stuck, I didn’t want to damage the dress.”

Draco nodded at her in understanding. He stepped into the dark room, moonlight streaming in through the windows, and closed the door behind him. “Turn around”, he told her, so she did.

His hands carefully moved her curls over her shoulder so they wouldn’t get caught. Draco dragged his fingertips over her shoulder blades, feeling that same buzzing when their skin touched with no barriers.

He found the zipper and slowly slid it down to find she wasn’t wearing a bra. He was staring at her bare back, and his mouth went dry at the realization of how intimate the moment was. His hands found their way to her hips and he couldn’t make himself move them away.

Slowly, Draco leaned in until his lips were centimeters from the back of her neck. He pressed them there, sucking on it slightly, causing her to emit a small gasp. Granger’s hands reached up to play with his hair and he felt like he was on fire.

He swiftly spun her to face him, his eyes immediately locking on her lips as she did the same. He could feel the warmth of her breath on his face. The sight of her wetting her lips caused him to bring one hand up, cradling her face in it.

Taking his time, Draco leaned in until their lips finally met, soft and delicate. It wasn’t rushed or desperate, it was comfort and warmth.

Her cheek was pleasantly warm against his cold hands, which was amplified when she placed a hand over his. Her other arm found purchase on his upper arm, the one he used to wrap around her waist and draw her closer.

Their tongues met hesitantly, exploring with curiosity and nervousness, and they moaned in unison. Eyes still closed, he pulled his lips away and leaned his forehead against hers.

“I’ve never met anyone with a glow as inextinguishable as yours”, he whispered to her.

Draco pressed a light kiss against her forehead, then turned to leave, closing the door delicately without another glance.

He strode across the hall slowly, entered his own room, then wrapped his arms around himself. His hands were shaking slightly and his heart beat rapidly.

All he could see when he closed his eyes was her crying, sniffling, hurt. He couldn’t stand it.

I will never hurt her. I will never let anyone hurt her, not even the Dark Lord.

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