Playing with Fire

Chapter 52: Sorry

Song: when the party’s over - Billie Eilish

Blood flowed freely from the 4 holes in Hermione’s hand, coating the prongs of the fork, her hand still pinned to the table.

She glanced at Draco in shock and confusion. He had to make me, he had to pretend to be on Voldemort’s side, right? But something didn’t feel right. She could feel her pulse running intensely through her left arm, yet she still didn’t shake. Draco portrayed no emotion, simply stared straight-forward silently as the room continued to fill with sounds of entertainment.

Everything was too loud in Hermione’s ears, and it seemed to go on this way for several minutes. Finally Voldemort rose from his chair and halted the laughter. Everyone’s eyes turned to the wizard, now suddenly acting as if Hermione was not standing there with a fork in her hand.

“Now that we are in our rightful place of power in the world, the continuation of Pureblood lines is vital”, Voldemort’s voice echoed in the massive room. No once moved or made a sound. He waved Hermione away - what the fuck am I supposed to-?

Suddenly the pain that had slightly numbed in her shock was reawakened when Draco yanked the metal out of her hand. She cried out again in pain, gripping the wound and slowly stepping backwards to her previous station. All she wanted was to disappear into the heavy curtains behind her.

“I believe it is time the next generation move forward in their adult lives”, Voldemort paused and gestured to his right, “starting with the union of Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson.”

The room erupted into applause, many even rising to their feet. Neither Draco or Pansy seemed surprised in the slightest, rising from their chairs as well and joining hands. Pansy placed a kiss on Draco’s cheek, darting her eyes to Daphne briefly before looking down.

Voldemort disappeared the tables, leaving the room spacious enough for dancing and signaling that the meal was over. He clapped his hands and music began to play as the crowd made their way towards the center of the room, socializing and dancing in celebration.

Hermione barely registered when Bopsy appeared a few feet in front of her next to Draco - he whispered something in the elf’s ear. But everything was becoming hazy in Hermione’s senses as she was unable to cope in that moment with the trauma of what had just happened. The next time she blinked she found herself hand in hand with Bopsy and in a room she only vaguely recognized.

The elf guided her until she sat in a chair - it felt warmer here, and brighter. She felt the elf fiddling with her left hand but everything was numb and out of focus. Gauze were wrapped tightly around her wound and just like that, Bopsy was gone.

Hermione pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them to hug herself. She leaned her head backwards onto the chair, feeling dizzy and disoriented.

She wasn’t sure how much time had passed when she heard the door open and close from behind her. Large, lean arms scooped her up delicately and carried her to a bathroom. She was carefully set on her feet, but she held onto the arms for balance.

Hermione’s clothes were slowly removed, the tangles brushed out of her hair. She didn’t flinch or protest. She trusted. She was guided to the shower, sitting on the floor without a word.

The blonde began to remove his shoes, socks, and jacket, rolling his sleeves up before joining her in the shower. He began to wash the dirt and blood from her skin, red and brown mixing and swirling down the drain. Her vision blurred with silent tears as the sound of the shower water hitting the floor filled her ears.

After a while, she was lifted from her seated position and dried off. A dark green, oversized shirt was pulled over her head, a pair of boxers pulled up her legs. Once again, she was scooped up, but this time Hermione was laid down on a large, soft bed. The boy pulled the sheets up over her and brushed the wet hair out of her face.

Hermione closed her eyes, too exhausted to think or feel, and quickly feel asleep. The last thing she saw was Draco putting the fireplace out, allowing darkness to fill the room. He climbed in behind her, softly drawing her back against his torso and holding her possessively. She couldn’t even process the words that drifted to her ears gently.

I’m so sorry Hermione. Please be okay. I’m so sorry, please be okay. I... I love....please. So sorry.

~~~

Draco forced a smile at the Dark Lord’s unexpected words as he took Pansy’s hand and the room cheered. Marriage? Continuation of pureblood lines?

He fought the urge to glance at Daphne and Blaise, but he felt their eyes which were likely full of concern. Fuck. This is not the time for this. Hermione is....fuck. This is all my fault. FUCK.

Pansy softly kissed his cheek and he squeezed her hand in reassurance. He wished he could say something to comfort her, but there was nothing.

Once the Dark Lord disappeared the tables and everyone redirected their attention, Draco called for Bopsy quietly. She appeared next to him immediately.

“Take Hermione upstairs to my room. Clean up her hand and bandage it. I’ll be up there as soon as I can.“, he told the elf. Bopsy nodded at him, squeezing his hand before turning around and walking to where Hermione stood behind him. Bopsy practically raised him along with his mother, and she could see right through his poker face. She knew how Draco was feeling - could read the panic behind his instructions.

He spent the next two hours wishing he could make time go quicker. He walked around with Pansy on his arm, assuring everyone that it would be the most lovely wedding, and a Malfoy heir would be not far behind. He didn’t mean any of this, but he promised it nonetheless.

Voldemort disappeared after dinner, leaving the manor altogether. He made his speech, showcased what he had in his back pocket, and that was all he was there for. Eventually, guests began to leave and Draco wanted nothing more than to sprint to his room and hold Hermione. Never let her go.

His father walked up next to him as Draco waved goodbye to the departing guests. “Congratulations”, Lucius said dryly to him, a false smirk plastered on his face.

“On what?“, Draco asked him, not even turning to look his way.

“The wedding of course, and future Malfoy heir. I’d say I’m proud, but you’d have to be marrying someone worthy for that”, he remarked.

“And who the fuck is worthy if not Pansy?“, Draco muttered out of the side of his mouth.

“You know exactly who”, his father responded simply. Surely he doesn’t mean...

“I’m afraid I don’t“, Draco said sharply to Lucius, turning to face him now even though his father couldn’t see him.

“Right. In a different world, different life, different outcome - maybe it would have worked, but it never would have happened in that case”, he said calmly.

“What the fuck are you talking about Father?“, Draco defended. He knew exactly what he meant. But surely he wasn’t condoning his feelings? Not the man who cared more about pureblood lines than anything in the world.

“Aside from the Dark Lord, you have more power than anyone else in the Wizarding World right now. Yet, you severely lack the bollocks to do a single bloody thing with it. Your Mother and I raised you better than this.“, Lucius told him in frustration.

"You raised me with prejudice and hatred, and now we live in a world you worked so hard to create. Mother didn’t. So explain to me how it is you raised me better than how I’m acting? I’ve achieved the highest possible status under the Dark Lord’s reign, and you still aren’t happy?“, Draco spoke much louder now that all the guests had departed.

“I’ve made mistakes and I’m admitting that. I’ll admit it a million times. I don’t want the same for you, which is why I’m telling you this. My prejudices and hatred are now reserved for one person in this world - if he can be considered a person at all. I cared about two things in this world - Narcissa and you. Now, I only have you. It may have taken her death for me to finally see clearly, but your mother has no fault in any of this. I’m trying to do right by her.“, Lucius defended viciously. Tears of frustration pooled in his blind, pale eyes, but his voice didn’t waver.

“And doing right by her is what? Telling me to throw caution to the wind and go after a Mudblood? Genius - I’m sure this will be great for everyone involved.“, Draco said sarcastically. He was furious now. He didn’t even recognize his father anymore, and this was the most they had talked in years.

“I’m simply telling you to grow a pair and take advantage of the power you have. Regretting something you didn’t do is worse than regretting something you did do”, Lucius stated before leaving Draco standing there alone.

Draco clenched and unclenched his fists angrily before sprinting upstairs as quickly as he could, trying to shake off his father’s words.

He opened the door to find Hermione in a chair by the fireplace, hugging her legs, and looking completely out of it.

Draco was instantly by her side, scooping her up and cleaning her off in his shower. She was so beautiful, but so broken in that moment. So broken that Draco felt an ache in his chest that he had only ever felt once before - when his mother died right in front of him.

When he undressed and bathed her, there was nothing sexual about it. He didn’t want to hurt her, but it was too late for that. Blood had soaked through the bandages on her left hand. Hermione quietly cried as he cleaned her up, but she didn’t seem to even notice it herself. Didn’t even seem to notice him.

Draco couldn’t help it when tears filled his own eyes. He felt so weak, so cowardly. She deserves so much better...I could never be what she needs...

He dressed her in his own clothes, hoping to make her as comfortable as possible but knowing comfort didn’t exist in this situation. For either of them.

Draco laid her softly in his bed, pulling the covers over her, and put the fireplace out. He crawled into bed behind her after removing his drenched suit from the shower. He gently wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her back against his front. She was so cold, but she didn’t shake. Because of me. Because I told her not to. He felt sick.

Tears continued to spill softly down his cheeks, his bottom lip quivering. He couldn’t help the words he muttered to her, knowing nothing could fix this but wishing his words could heal her physically and emotionally all the same.

“I’m so sorry Hermione. Please be okay.” He kissed her shoulder softly. “I’m so sorry, please be okay.” Draco buried his face in her wet curls. ”I...I love you...” He cried harder into her. He silently regretted saying those last words aloud, and hoped to Merlin that she hadn’t heard them. Hoped she was asleep and wouldn’t know they ever escaped his lips, but that didn’t change the fact that he meant them.

This whispered confession took everything out of him, as if the floodgates had opened. He couldn’t understand how it happened. He couldn’t understand how he went from bullying the curly-haired witch in front of him in school, to now holding her after he forced her to stab herself.

He didn’t want to marry Pansy. He didn’t want to marry or have an heir at all. He wanted to run away with Hermione and protect her from the world after he failed so horribly to do so tonight.

Draco silently wished that things were different. He wished that he fell in love with her in a world where he wasn’t a Death Eater. In a world where he wasn’t an executioner and didn’t enjoy killing. In a world where Harry Potter didn’t lose and the Dark Lord was dead. In a world where she might say to him “I love you too.”

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