Love Is The Darkest Art
A Dramione fanfic serial
Draco and Hermione hadn’t spoken for weeks. Not in public anyway. And certainly not nicely if others were around. Though they had been threatened with harsh punishment upon their nighttime return to Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall interceded on their behalf, declaring for all to hear that Hogsmead could get quite confusing to navigate, and a wrong turn down a dark alley could get you lost easily. Dolores Umbridge didn’t agree with this defense until Snape spoke up on Draco’s behalf with the explanation he had asked the Slytherin student to pick up some items for him and then failed to give him proper directions. Eventually, it was Dumbledore’s arrival, asking Hermione if she had delivered the letter to his brother for him, that got her off the hook. When she replied confused, “Um, no…I’m sorry,” he smiled.
“Oh well,” he said. “I’m sorry that my task got you lost.”
After that, Dolores put on a show of being annoyed, despite knowing it was she who had sent Draco to Hogsmead in the first place. Eventually, the whole incident was forgotten, though Ron and Harry both picked on Hermione for having to ride on the night bus with Malfoy.
“That must have bern torture,” Weasley said.
“Absolute,” Hermione lied.
In the days following, both Draco and she made up tales about each other to keep anyone from finding out they had spent the whole day and part of the evening together. “He smells like a wet river rat,” Hermione declared over lunch in the Great Hall one day, to which Luna Lovegood remarked, “He reminds me more of a Blibbering Humdinger.” To which nearly everyone rolled their eyes. After all, no one had ever seen most of the creatures Luna talked about.
Draco was just as insulting when he told everyone at his table that Hermione had foul breath comparable to an unbathed mountain troll. Both Crabbe and Goyle laughed loudly, but Pansy Parkinson seemed suspicious. “How do you know what her breath is like?”
He looked at his Slytherin classmate and scowled. “Because she was breathing all over me, duh…”
Unconvinced, Pansy pouted. “Why?”
Now Draco rolled his eyes. “Because she likes me, you idiot.”
Now everyone laughed. Goyle fell out of his chair even. No one even suspected Draco’s last statement had been the truth. Such was the beauty of having been enemies for years. Of course, calling Pansy an idiot in front of everyone had its own effect, and the girl got up crying and fled the room.
Crabbe leaned close to Draco and whispered, “Now, she likes you.”
Draco looked after the departing Pansy and shook his head. Girls. You needed an open pensieve to even know what they were thinking half the time.
In between studies, Hermione pondered what to tell Harry and Ron, if anything. The fact that Death Eaters had come to attack her, and do God-knows-what after, bothered her greatly. It had been suggested Voldemort staged the attempt in order to get to Harry, so didn’t he deserve to know something? But if she said anything then he’d know that she and Draco getting lost in Hogsmead was more than just blind coincidence. So she didn’t say anything. Harry already knew Voldemort was trying to get to him. That was no secret ,to him or his inner circle. Even if the rest of the school didn’t. She tried to justify in her head the reasons behind her silence, and it all boiled down to her desire to keep Draco a secret from everyone. but that in itself posed questions. How far would she be willing to go to keep others from finding out?
This question plagued her for the next few days as both she and Draco eased their way back into their roles of prefects. Hermione, true to herself, used the position to try and help others and steer them in the right direction, while Draco took the opportunity to hold his position at Hogwarts over everyone else’s head. it bothered Hermione that he seemed unchanged by their times together. Perhaps it was really good acting in secret keeping, a role he was playing to avoid suspicion, but day by day she asked herself which was he acting. Which was the real Draco? The one she knew when they were alone together, or the one that aggravated and ridiculed students, most particular her own friends?
Sitting in her room one evening after dinner, she contemplated this over a shoe. It was Draco’s, left behind in the greenhouse as he’d made his secret escape when Luna and Neville had almost caught them. She thought it had been some really quick thinking that had prompted him to leave it behind when he slipped away under his invisibility cloak. After all, it gave her an excuse, though a flimsy one, for being under a table in the greenhouse. Why she never gave it back to him, she wasn’t quite sure. Part of her reasoned, “well, he never asked for it.” Another part told her she had kept it as a souvenir of her first serious, and intimate, love. But how serious was it? She’d heard it said before somewhere that the greatest love was one in which you’d lay your life down to protect the other. With all their secrecy, just how far was she willing to go in her admiration? How could she have the greatest love and yet never tell a soul? She turned the shoe over in her hands, thinking of Draco and she, of where they’d be in ten years. A fleeting thought escaped her that made her blush. A bedroom, dishevelled blankets, an older she and Draco in their underwear curled up together after having made love. Their face flushed, but smiling. Their bodies aglow, glistening sweat across his bare chest. Her fingers tracing lines in the moisture of his skin, wanting him again and again and….
“Hey, whose shoe?” somebody asked, shocking her out of her imaginings and into the real world. It startled her so much she nearly flung Draco’s footwear into the corner. She spun towards the voice.
“Ginny! Oh my, you scared me!”
“I see that. Sorry.” She took a few steps toward the shoe. Hermione was faster and snatched it up off the floor.
Ginny wrinkled her brow. “What are you doing with a boy’s shoe?”
Hermione looked at it in her hand. “Um, I found it outside our door.” She turned it over nervously, hoping Ginny wouldn’t discover who it belonged to. It wasnt like anyone spent much time checking out Draco’s feet. “I was just getting ready to take it to McGonagall,” she said. “Let her sort it out.”
“You dont have to do that,” Ginny replied. “Filch is tight out in the hall. You know he’ll find out what stupid boy can’t keep his shoes on.”
Hermione laughed. “That’s for sure.” She slid past Ginny, not daring to look at her for fear she’d see the truth in her eyes. “Be right back.” She hefted the shoe in her other hand and went out the door. Going down the stairs that seperated Gryffindor girls from boys, she walked briskly through her house’s common room and into the hall. She glanced behind her, wondering if Ginny had followed. She sighed in relief when she saw she hadn’t. Then she collided into someone so hard it nearly knocked them both down.
“Slow down, Granger,” Draco sneered. “Before I recommend points be taken from you.” He saw the shoe in her hand. She saw his sidekicks Crabbe and Goyle by his side.”You have something of mine it seems.” He reached out and snatched the shoe out of her hand. He stepped closer to her, a menacing look on his face. “It’s my heart,” he muttered low so only she could hear.
“What?” Hermione asked. She had heard him exactly, but part if her wanted to hear it again, only louder and in front of his friends.
He didn’t fall for it. Instead, he turned to his buddies, waved the shoe, and exclaimed, “See boys, I told you she had an insane crush on me.”
At first, she thought he’d gone on and told them. That he’d let their secret out to someone, but then she realized he was playing the game again. The “let’s pretend we’re enemies still” ruse.
“You wish,” she came back at him. “I’d rather crush on…Peeves.”
“Oh God, Granger that is just too gross.” Goyle and Crabbe guffawed. “You need me to take you to the infirmary?”
She looked hard at him, her eyes not leaving his own. “Yes I think you might have to. I’m suddenly not feeling well.” She made a gesture as if she were going to throw up. She put her hand over her mouth, and both Crabbe and Goyle backed up.
“Go get McGonagall,” he commanded them, and like dutiful servants that obeyed, running off down the hall. Anything to get away from a possibly hurling girl. Draco grabbed Hermione by the arm. “You better come with me. You look like you might faint any minute. Don’t hurl on my feet.”
He dragged her in the opposite direction of Goyle and Crabbe. “Madam Pomfrey is going to want to get a look at you.” Around the corner, out of sight of everyone else, he pushed her against the wall. “And I want to look at you too,” he said in a hushed tone.
Hermione smiled, her fake sickness vanishing in an instant. She grabbed the sides of his face with her hands and pulled him to her. Their lips collided, fulll of want and hungry for affection.
“I’ve missed you,” Draco whispered against her tongue. A thrill of excitement went through her. She wanted to say she felt empty and alone without him, but she didn’t. Instead, she welcomed his mouth so fully against her own, onlookers, had there been any, would have thought someone had thrown a “two become one” charm at them.