Playing with Fire

Chapter 53: Lonely

Song: Falling - Harry Styles

When Hermione woke up on November 1st, she didn’t even open her eyes. There was an overwhelming pain in her left hand, yet a comforting warmth wrapped around her. She breathed peacefully, not yet fully conscious.

Her mind began to replay last night’s events as if she was seeing them for the first time.

I trusted him. I stopped shaking. I stabbed myself...

She trusted him, because he told me to. She stopped shaking, when he told me to. She stabbed herself in the hand with a fork in front of Voldemort and his Death Eater minions, because he told me to?

Hermione’s head was spinning and her body went rigid. Why did I...? Surely not...

Why was she doing things simply because he told her to? Was she truly that weak-willed? No, she couldn’t be. Hermione was better than that. Unless...

Her eyes shot open and she took in her surroundings. Dark curtains. A fireplace. A black, wooden, four-poster bed. Pale arms wrapped around her center. A green t-shirt and a pair of boxers. White gauze. Damp hair. Forest green bedding. The scent of teakwood and mint. A flash of blonde hair. Her breathing stopped.

Draco was behind her. Draco was spooning her. She was in Draco’s bed.

Hermione shot up and out of Draco’s arms, practically jumping out of the bed when a set of long, cold, ring-wearing fingers wrapped around her wrist. She froze, slowly turning her head over her shoulder.

She was already halfway out of the bed but his ice-blue eyes were trained on her unwaveringly. She yanked out of his grasp and sprinted to his bathroom before dry heaving over the toilet, her eyes watering furiously.

Hermione’s head was pounding and she could barely think straight. Her unleashed memories from the previous night wreaked havoc on her body like a car wreck.

She felt a delicate hand on her back and a deep, smooth voice in her ear, “are you okay, Hermione?“, it hesitantly asked her.

Hermione jerked towards the wall in the opposite direction. She sat on the floor, back pressed against the bathroom wall. “Don’t fucking touch me!“, she shouted at Draco, a look of disgust on her face.

“Hermione I-“, he began but she refused to hear it.

“No! Why did I stab myself last night? Why Draco? Tell me”, she demanded.

His eyes softened before he whispered, “because I told you to”.

“Because you told me to”, Hermione repeated, thinking it over. “Because you told me to”, she said again, her voice growing angry with betrayal.

They stared at each other in silence, she could hear rain padding on the roof. She was cold, bumps covering her bare legs in what she found it safe to assume were his clothes. She hated how comfortable they were. She hated that she trusted him still because he told her to.

I trust him - she thought to herself. “No!“, she shouted out loud. I trust him - her inner voice repeated again. “NO!“, she shouted even louder this time, covering her ears.

“Hermione, please calm-“, Draco began reaching for her but stopped himself when tears formed in her amber eyes. The hurt was evident in them.

Hermione’s right hand mindlessly went to her left arm for a sense of comfort, as it had for months now. She felt the warmth emanating from the dragon there. She looked down at it, and suddenly everything clicked. The dragon. The dragon that Draco put there. The spell. She didn’t have free will, hadn’t for a long time, and that was why.

She slowly looked up at him, searching his eyes for truth. “How could you...how could you do this to me?“, she asked him in barely a whisper.

He looked at her with a sadness she had never seen before. “Hermione...“, he whispered to her desperately, tears forming in his own eyes.

Hermione looked away from him quickly, her bottom lip trembling. She still trusted him. She didn’t have any choice to, despite how deceived she felt.

Draco slowly reached for her face, cupping her cheek with his hand and gently turning her face back to his. “Please look at me Hermione, please“, he begged, his voice cracking.

She slowly met his eyes but then closed them. It was all too much, she couldn’t bear it. If she looked at him, her chest grew warm in a way she was unfamiliar with, and it was wrong. She was convinced it was wrong. Her body was betraying her mind.

“I...my mind is telling me to trust you but...I don’t have a choice regardless”, she whispered, placing her injured hand over his on her face. She gently pulled it away from her cheek, standing slowly before leaving him there alone.

Draco didn’t move. He felt like the air had been stolen from his lungs. His hands trembled. She was so close, but so far. He burned her, and she learned her lesson. She was smart that way, but he couldn’t leave her alone. He needed her in an unfathomable way.

He felt more intense regret than ever before in his life. Maybe his father was right, you regret the things you don’t do more than the ones you do. Like telling the truth. I didn’t tell her the truth, and it’s my fault. I did this to her. I did this to myself.

Draco thought he had been alone before, but now he truly was, and he knew that. The fact that he loved her didn’t mean a thing. He confessed it repeatedly as she slept, but he was convinced she didn’t love him back. She couldn’t. Maybe she couldn’t.

Even if she did love him, he wouldn’t accept it because...I don’t deserve it.

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