Love Is The Darkest Art
A Dramione fanfic serial
Draco and Hermione took the night bus back to Hogwarts. They sat in the back so they could have their privacy, yet it didn’t really matter. They were the only ones onboard. Hermione held Draco’s hand in her lap, her fingers curled around his. Her head lay over on his shoulder in perfect contentment. She wished the bus would drive far past the school and take them far away to where no one knew them.
Draco looked at her and smiled. Kissing the top of her head, he too imagined the night bus would carry them far from familiar surroundings and deposit them somewhere they could start life anew. Returning to Hogwarts brought the realization they would be a secret once more.
The afternoon had been amazing. Though it had included being attacked by death eaters, they had spent the late afternoon alternating between cuddling by the fire and slow dancing to music within the empty solace of Malfoy Manor. At one point Draco had revealed the secret piano, an ancient musical instrument hidden by a charm. It had sat invisible in the corner but with a wave of his wand it appeared and began to play a beautiful song. Hermione loved the melody it played and she allowed Draco to sway her around the floor, his cheek against hers, warm sweet breath in her ear. The fact he hadn’t replaced his then buttonless shirt and instead left it open made the dance even more wonderful. Despite being sorry for ripping all the buttons off earlier, her hands rested on his exposed chest, tracing her name on his skin. When the sweet melody finished, she sighed, “That was beautiful.”
“One day I’m going to learn how to play it with my own hands,” he promised.
“I believe you can do whatever you set your mind to do.”
“What about what my heart sets to do?”
She smiled. “I believe the heart may be a little more fickle than that.”
Draco laughed in her ear. “Yes, I suppose you’re right. When I graduate I’m liable to get married to Pansy Parkinson.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Oh God no. I think you’d be more compatible with Daphne Greengrass.”
“Well, Daphne is a true blood,” he replied, thinking of his Slytherin classmate. “And she comes from an old, respected wizarding family.” He put his hand on his chin as if lost in thought. “Hmmmm…”
“This mudblood is going to kick your butt,” Hermione replied with a smirk across her face.
Draco laughed again. “Mmmm, that’s what I like.”
The late afternoon had been like that. Joyful teasing, playful picks on each other. With their time at the Malfoy Estate, things seemed natural. Their relationship took on the feel of real boyfriend and girlfriend, and found them kissing madly whenever the conversation lagged.
“I wish it could always be this way,” Hermione remarked at one point.
Draco sighed. “Me, too.”
But somewhere inside, Hermione felt it was a wish that would never be granted. There was no charm or spell that would change who they were. No bottled genie was going to appear and change the world around them. The stars above would always be crossed while fate laughed at them from across the street. Even the darkest arts couldn’t find a place for their affections to dwell.
“It’s getting late,” Hermione said, trying not to sob over these realizations.
Draco pulled away from her to look in her eyes. There was no hiding the fact they were tearing up. “What’s wrong, Hermione?”
“Nothing,” she quickly answered. “It’s just…we better be getting back. We’re going to be in enough trouble as it is.”
He looked at her, trying to determine the truth as if it were hidden on her skin somewhere. When she didn’t explain her emerging tears further, he kissed her eyelids. “Whatever is wrong, you can tell me whenever you wish to, and we’ll find a solution together.”
“I know,” she replied. “But I don’t think any solution will make us happier.”
“Hey,” he said lifting her face to his. “I’m happy now.” He gave her a brief kiss on her trembling lips. “Aren’t you?”
She looked into his gray eyes and offered up a smile. “Yes, I am.” She kissed him back and pushed every negative thing away from her, into the shadows where they belonged.
Now on the night bus, Hermione’s thoughts were on what she was going to say when they arrived back at Hogwarts. This was going to be awkward, them showing up together after dark. Their passes had only been for the afternoon, and they were late.
They had better be getting their story straight, but neither of them had spoken much since boarding the bus.
“What are we going to tell them?”
Draco didnt look at her, but stared out the window. “I dont know. We got lost perhaps.”
She shook her head. “Together? I don’t think anyone will believe we are hanging out by choice.”
“Then we’ll pretend it wasn’t by choice. We’ve been enemies for years. Shouldn’t be hard to keep up appearances.”
Hermione smirked. “It may be easy for you to do that, but I’m having a hard time pretending now. For us to be so close and yet here we are hiding how we feel.”
He looked out the window onto the night. “I wish we didn’t have to hide it. But you know as well as I do it’s too dangerous and damaging to do otherwise.”
“It’s already dangerous, Draco. We had to fight Death Eaters today. And i still don’t understand why they wanted to kidnap me or whatever. The one who rescued us said it was to get at Harry, but why didn’t they attack Cho? That’s the girl he’s crazy about.”
Draco looked at her. “Cho Chang? From Ravenclaw? But wasn’t she?….”
“Cedric’s girlfriend, yes.”
“Well that makes more sense now. Crazy about, you say?”
“Yeah, he is. After what happened to Cedric…”
“Yeah what did happen to Cedric?”
“No, not what Potter’s saying. What really happened?”
“What do you mean, Draco?” She pulled her hand from his. “Are you saying you don’t believe Harry’s account?”
Draco looked so hard at her it was as if he were boring holes into her soul. “I loathe Harry Potter,” he said in a distasteful whisper.
“But why? I have never understood your animosity towards…”
“All my life,” he replied cooly, “All I’ve heard is Harry this and Harry that. The boy who lived they drilled into my head, as if i were the boy who died or something. Next to Potter I have been meaningless. I come from a well respected, prodigious family and where does he come from? Dead parents, that’s where. And that damned scar on his forehead. First time i saw him I wanted to smack it off him.”
Hermione put her hand back over his, though she didn’t like the things he was saying about her friend. But this wasn’t about Potter. It was about Malfoy. “Draco, you have never been meaningless. Not to me. Not now.”
“But i was once. Once upon a time I never mattered to you. And it will be that way again.”
Surprise on her face. “How can you say that? Draco, I…” She stopped before she could say anything further.
“You what?” He waited for an answer that didn’t come.
“I…,” she uttered, and turned her head from him. “Draco, I’m not going to..”
“That’s what I thought,” he said. “I may not be Draco the meaningless, but I’m certainly Draco the distraction.”
“You are not a distraction,” she shouted in frustration. “Draco, I care so much about you. I…”
“See, you can’t say it. You, and all your high and mighty, goody good attitude…”
“Draco, shut up a minute, will you? Would you give me a chance to talk. You are so wrapped up in your own negarive idea of yourself, drowning in self pity and disdain for everyone else you won’t even allow yourself to believe someone could have feelings for you. Damn it Draco, I love you.”
It came out quicker than she intended, and she instantly went quiet, fearing he now knew the greatest secret of her heart.
At her outburst, Draco looked at her as if she’d just said the most incredulous thing. “You love me?”
She hesitated but a second. “Yes Draco, I love you.”
For a moment it looked as if he were going to cry. A tear welled up in the corner of a silver grey eye. He bit his lip to keep it from trembling unti it drew blood. A dot of crimson appeared on his mouth and Hermione gew alarmed.
“Draco, stop it. You are hurting yourself,” she cried out.
He stopped biting his lip and looked into her eyes, letting her be the first girl to ever see tears brought forth by his own hopes and fears. “I have always loved you,” he said, before she kissed the very blood from his lips and wrapped him in her arms.
The night bus drove on…